Kindred Tribes

“We spend so much energy and breath trying to be accepted in tribes that are not in our ‘soul DNA’. Learn to walk away from a table that has no seat reserved for you. Align, go with your flow and the rhythm of synchronicity will lead you to your tribe.”
Malebo Sephodi

 

There are seven women (non-family members) I could call this very moment, for any reason in the world, and they would stop what they were doing to help me, no matter what had happened. They would travel, plot, scheme or send money… and I would do the same for them. But, I haven’t always been able to say that.

Just ten years ago, I was barely above water in toddler/baby land and I was not the best company. I could hardly carry on a conversation for more than the time it took for one of my kids to need tending to. Diapers. Parks. Snacks. Cleaning. More diapers… those weren’t my finest days, but they were my crucible days. If I could sum it up, it would be this: extreme trying and extreme dying.

I was desperate for help back then, but what I finally realized was that I needed to be the hero of my story and build my serving/nurturing/patience muscles that weren’t yet truly developed. For some people, the muscles that need developing will be vastly different! But once those beautiful virtues were stronger, my skies seemed more open, more bright; I had more space to welcome-in and nurture my tribe.

My kindred tribe is a blend of real, vulnerable, strong, imperfect, struggling and faithful women who all teach me, encourage me, exhort and love me. We build each other up. We give of ourselves, lavishly. Every encounter, every minute that we are blessed to spend together makes me a better person. We have battle wounds; life hasn’t been kind to us all the time. We share the tears, the trials, and the torments. We pray for each other, we open ourselves up to examination. We set healthy boundaries. We also believe that if one of us is married, supporting one another’s marriage is crucial.

There will be times when the spouse of a dear friend won’t be our favorite person of the day/week/month, but it is antithetical to true friendship to commisurate against someone’s spouse under the guise of “listening and being supportive”. I’m lucky to know so many women who agree. But what happens if you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t exactly share your values?

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” That quote is attributed to Socrates, but it seems a bit harsh to me. I would say that the unexamined life is not well-lived. Growth is a key to unleashing our destiny, and to draw-in our kindred tribe. We all have stuff, and we all need grace and healing. Jesus is the salve to every wound, and I believe that enduring the fires of purifying our hearts is worth every ounce of pain. You’d be amazed at the people who show up to support you as you continue your journey of growth!

Letting go of relationships that are ill-aligned, uber-needy or toxic, are crucial. We cannot do the tough work for someone else that they need to do for themselves. Coming from a heart of gratitude sets the stage for releasing these kinds of people from your life. There are always lessons learned and your growth is certainly something to be grateful for, but I believe that some people will always “take” and bring negativity wherever they go. We can’t change them, but we can guard our garden. Kindred souls are worth the effort of tending our gardens to make sure we have something to give and gleen.

I hope you have your kindred tribe, and I hope that if you’re still searching, that some of these words have encouraged you. “Sometimes your friend circle decreases in size, but increases in value.” — Unknown

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Focusing on the Real

The lists can be endless. These are his needs, those are hers. Do this, don’t do that. Work harder, bend this way – but don’t ever break! The pressure (and lists!) can really get out of hand. And trying to keep up with them all??

I’ve got to wade through all this noise. What’s the truth? What do I really need to be focusing upon? I ask myself, what has LIFE? I’ve read a lot of relationship and self-help books and walked away feeling like I just put 100 more pounds on my shoulders. What has energy within itself?  I believe that life cannot be lived well while focusing on lifeless things, so what’s the deal? So, I looked at the contrasts of life-filled and lifeless things for a moment.

Darkness is the name we give to the ABSENCE of light. Light, being electromagnetic radiation, vibrates at about a half-a-billion times a second. It is energy that can be measured. It moves, it bends, it is powerful; light keeps our world (and us) alive. Darkness has no properties; it is simply the name we give to the absence of light.

What about hot and cold? Any chemist will readily acknowledge that heat is the energy we can measure. We give a name to the ABSENCE of heat; cold. It’s not cold that really exists, it’s actually a lack of heat.

And here we come to the greatest power of all. Love has energy, love has true power; love is what God is. Try thinking of pure love, and your heart swells. When you consider being loved, it moves your soul. The ABSENCE of love can be explained in several lifeless ways; namely fear, distrust, hatred, and in a broad term, evil. But is evil where life lies? Does evil really have any power compared to love?

When we show love, we are our best selves. When we receive love, we are our best selves. We are created for love, but we have been sold a bill of lifeless goods. We believe that fear/evil has power, and we believe we have the power to change ourselves by focusing on the negative. We have forgotten who we really are, and we have forgotten where our focus should be…

Every “need” in the world can be fulfilled with acts of love, period. Love is eternal currency. We need not have lists when we live in love. This is the focus, the motivator for a pure life, for fulfilled hearts, for lasting relationships; it is self-less love. If we were to focus on one thing, one exceptionally REAL and lasting and powerful and eternally awesome thing, let it be LOVE.

How many relationships would thrive if both people focused on love instead of keeping lists of wrongs, fearing rejection, allowing for love-less behavior? If I spend my time focused on how I can fulfill all the needs, I would get (and have become) completely overwhelmed! What if I worry about my needs and the lack I am feeling? If I focus on those things, I will wither and die. We need light, we need heat, we need love and they are ALL real, life-giving things. Let’s focus on the real.

 

 

Easy Target

The pattern of this world, the way in which culture is moved and changed in this present age, is simply communicating a matter through emotional experience. We need not be given the full facts or explanation; if it looks bad, it must be bad. By and large, modern people don’t reason, they react.

We have all but lost the richness of discourse and have exchanged it for a synopsis sprinkled with whatever flavor we wish for others to taste. It isn’t just that we are dumbing ourselves down; we are numbing ourselves to critical thinking. And like an appendage that gets little to no circulation/use, it gets removed.

What happens when we remove discourse is that manipulation becomes easy. I appeal to your fear, I present a picture that supports that fear, you react. It’s simple. When context is lacking, or a full picture is not included information, the pressure to respond without reason is uncomplicated. Let’s say I see a picture of a horse in a stall, obviously in distress, with some blood on its legs and a human standing nearby with a caption reading, “We must stop the cruel abuse of these sentient beings. Ownership should be outlawed, and horses should roam free. Click and sign this petition.”

The picture has appealed to most people’s sense of protecting the vulnerable and rejecting the abhorrent practice of abuse, and many will click and sign. But what if the truth was that the picture was simply taken right after a foal being born, and the owner was checking on their horse and no abuse was being committed whatsoever? It doesn’t take much prose to make a normal and healthy scene look treacherous and evil.

Taking the time to notice when you’re being potentially manipulated takes, well, time. If you are reacting out of pure emotion, beware; you’re an easy target to further someone else’s agenda.

Transition

tran·si·tion

tranˈziSH(ə)n,tranˈsiSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1.
    the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
verb
  1. 1.
    undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition.

I think of movement when I think of transition. In horse riding terms, transition is a very powerful concept as it can involve changing speed/tempo, terrain, stride length, gaits, etc. I’ve been thinking a lot on both subjects for a few weeks, now, and movement for me, in this season, looks more like trying to embrace Tai Chi when you’ve been more accustomed to flamenco dancing. I’ve needed to start transitioning down, taking a breath, or two, or ten.

I have the opportunity to purchase my first horse, ever. It is strange for me to even write that because I’ve ridden horses for over 30 years. It’s just that all of these horses I’ve ridden have always been someone else’s horses; my parents’, my boss’s, my trainer’s, my friends’… But finally, here’s one for my very own. I’ve prayed and waited a very long time for this. I’ve cried many tears, I’ve studied many hours, read lots of books, even taken college courses, and I’ve ridden so. many. other. people’s horses, but now it’s my turn. Or so, I hope.

See, I can’t even relax a half second until the check is sent, clears, the vet gives the okay, and that horse is delivered to the nearby barn, safely. And I’ve been asking my poor husband no less than 100 times a week if the horse is really coming, or not? It’s been like this for weeks, but the arrival date is upon us. The horse is scheduled to arrive next month, and I have made a choice to stop this nonsense of worrying.

Yeah, just like that, easy-peasy.

If you were the unseen universe, and you observed me from a short distance while worrying about this horse, you’d probably think to your universe-self, “She doesn’t seem ready for this. She’s really uptight about this horse coming. Maybe we should wait for another time, when she’s ready, and less fearful.” And I would want to punch you in your unseen-universe-face because I AM READY, I’m just neurotic, and you should know this! *sigh*

And I know that the worrying is just a form of fear and a product of wanting control. I know, because I’ve had the rug pulled out from underneath me enough times to make this warrior princess feel helpless and terrified at the thought of losing her most precious dream…

And it is, it is the desire of my heart to ride horses and train them up into powerful steeds that can handle anything; jumping tall fences, wide ditches, galloping bravely through fields, delicately moving with rhythm and balance, cadence and elasticity. I want the dirt and the grime and the long hours and the glory of just one concept learned at a time. I want the smell of hay, sweet feed, dust and leather, sweat and sunshine. I want to hear the footfalls, the whinnies, the champ on the bit, the wind in my face. *sigh*

And that leads me to the fork in the road I affectionately call, “transition”. I get to choose the path; the path of worry and fear, or the path of peace, love and trust. Why is this even a question? Love, trust… peace? Sign me up! Oh, I have to hand over the worry, the illusive feeling of control? Yes. I’ll hand it over. *hangs head*

Yeah, I’ll hand the worry over today, or maybe just for this hour… and then I find myself choosing again. And so it goes, sometimes, and I won’t beat myself up over it. It’s been revealing, this situation, that I still hold on to my own strength, when letting go and trusting would be so. much. better. There’s really something to grace and ease and attraction. So, I am in transition. And truly, there have been a succession of days where I wasn’t worrying, and the peace was lovely, and then I get hit with a thought; what if an emergency comes up and we can’t send the check? What if the stock market crashes and… or a HIGH ALTITUDE EMP HITS THE US and all the trucks are immobile?!! I, I can’t make this stuff up, but I guess I do. I actually deal with these kinds of unreasonable thoughts. But I do not have a God unable to empathize with my weaknesses. He has been tempted in every way, even in worry, just as I am now. There is always help, a way of escape. And I can think of no better way to evade the traps of fear than to transition into a mind of gratitude. And so it is.

Lord, thank you for a keen mind and a soft heart. I thank You for the gift of life and freedom in You. I am grateful that I am never alone, and that You always provide a way to defeat the fear and doubt in my life. Thank you for giving me the desires of my heart, all in Your perfect timing. Thank you that I can live in peace as I look to You, instead of my circumstances. Keep me in Your perfect peace. Amen.

LolaNLori

What Fills You Up

fill up heart

Usually, my weekly dressage lesson leaves me feeling exhilarated and feeling pretty filled-up.  I forget about curriculum, dishes, laundry, and focus on something completely different!  I love connecting with the horse, challenging myself and gaining new insights, but yesterday was all stick and no carrot.  Every ounce of my strength and energy seemed to be used up by mid-lesson, and I had a ways to go.  Defeat whispered to me, frustration tried to offer its remedy, but I pushed on.  And I left the barn feeling a bit unfulfilled, and it got me thinking…

So… solitude or company?  Stillness or liveliness?  Eating food or fasting?  Listening to folk music or techno?  Being in sunshine or darkness?  Experiencing quiescence or wakefulness?  Playing the piano or painting?  What fills you up?

The bustling city, alive with opportunity, ideas, variety, and 24-hour Chinese food sounds like heaven to some.  The rustling of the leaves, and the quiet lazy breeze tickling your skin while relaxing in a hammock appeals to others. Sometimes all of it, at differing times, fits the bill…

Okay, let’s say you have identified what fills you up.  What happens when *that* is delayed for a day, or a week, or a year… or is completely taken away?  What is our response?  Sadness, depression, anger, anxiety…  Depending on what it is that has filled you up in the past, it can be pretty devastating to not have it when you feel you need it most.

Having to learn a “new normal” is. hard. work.  I’ve done this.  It wasn’t pretty.  And I didn’t even get the t-shirt.  The places and things I used to do to alleviate stress were absolutely not available to me anymore.  I found myself quite the little firecracker and a bit peeved at life in general.  Cue the opportunity to dig deep.  And it’s a choice, y’all.  Whether you embrace the yuck, and the full season it takes to get through it, or whether you do not; it’s all your choice to make, and no one else’s.

You’re not alone.  And that’s the truth.  In those dark days (or *years*) you may not reach out to anyone, but even then, you are not alone.  And when your tank is seemingly empty, seemingly perpetually, and for longer than you care to remember, you can reach out.  Sometimes we need our soul and our minds to be saved, too.  And whether you know God as loving and caring, or not, I want you to know that our understanding of Him has nothing to do with Who He is (He is, whether we understand Him, or not).  However, our understanding of God has everything to do with our relationship with Him; so understanding Who He really is, I would say, is worth getting as right as possible.

I recently read the exhortation to, “Let go, and let God fill your need.”  Well, that’s all well and good, but it might be too abstract for some.  But if I’ve learned anything, to get filled up, you need to be poured out.  The Savior once said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Do this, and you will live.”  It still applies today.  Sometimes the question needs to be, “What are you pouring yourself into?”  What takes up your heart-time?  If we haven’t tried to pour our hearts out to God, and wait, and let Him fill us up, then perhaps it’s time.

I sometimes forget that my heart, soul, and mind can be filled up in God’s presence (when I get out of my head!).  And life seems to give us ample opportunity to remember, as the things of this world eventually disappoint.  Why do I seek creation, instead of the Creator?  One of the greatest seekers of God was David, a simple keeper-of-sheep-turned-king-of-Israel.  David wrote Psalm 23, and it has encouraged me.  And it encouraged me today after remembering that He fills my heart better than anything else can.

Peace to you,

Lori Carden

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.

He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

New Beginnings

  • My fourth year as a homeschool Mom.
  • Just beginning to write my first blog.
  • My first time organizing a homeschool planner/calendar (I cannot believe I waited so long).  

I’d say it’s a season for new beginnings!

One of the great things that life offers us is that we can start something new, any day, or EVERYDAY. You can endeavor to eat less chocolate (not advisable), or walk in the mornings… I recently took up riding horses again after a 9 year hiatus. The possibilities are endless. But, not too long ago, I felt trapped; as if my lot in life was cooking THREE TIMES A DAY, cleaning up after everyone else’s messes, spending the rest of the time teaching my children, and that there was nothing left for me. I could not figure out how to find the extra time, energy, or money to fill up my seemingly empty tank.

Maybe the season of not having much extra time for myself was ordered and purposeful. I certainly grew deeper roots, faced some very harsh attitudes and habits that needed uprooting, and began to develop a love of family and the work that goes into building a family (and MARRIAGE) that loves and laughs together. All of this was NOT for the faint of heart, let me assure you!

So, here’s to new beginnings, and I hope that you find some encouragement in this blog, as time goes on. We could all use some extra hope, love, and laughter, would you agree?

-Lori Carden (COO, The Stay-At-Home Project)

Image

For Such A Time As This

Time to Start Something NEW

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

My children are grade school-aged. Some would say they are in the “grammar stage”, while others would say the “primary stage”.  For me, it’s the “initial anxiety stage” soon to be followed by, what I can only imagine as something like a “continual agitation stage”.  Perhaps I should not lean on my pessimistic tendencies too much? That decision is, after all, in my hands; what will I do with the time that is given me?

I’ve Facebooked with the best of ’em.  I’ve “researched” many hours away.  I’ve wandered around my backyard finding idle moments and little things to do to steer me away from my day’s demands.  I have no advice on how to manage time, today.  But I will share with you that guilt and shame are no friends of mine.

Each day is surprisingly new.  I can choose to see things as mundane, or as an adventure.  Each moment can bring change, on a dime. Some days, I respond to homeschooling as a chore (which it can be); some days, as a gift (that it is).  A day is just a day; it’s the issues of the day that bring their own opportunities for a response.  My children watch me respond.  I’m showing them what will be their “normal” about this business of living.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ~ Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I recall, not so long ago, when I believed that children were not really part of my life-plan, and “homeschool” was a word I used derogatorily when critiquing an awkward dance or outfit… But none of my prior beliefs or circumstances prevented me from taking hold of today, and all that today brings.  It was always my choice to make.  We can change our beliefs, change our minds, change our future.

I used to bristle at the thought of being inside the house for most of the day, teaching my kids to read, write, and all the other stuff.  I believed it would serve my family better if I were out there working, but something always prevented me from doing it.  There was always a catch in my heart, my spirit, saying “settle down, just for a time.”  For such a time as this.

– Lori Carden