comfort and courage

I have a short confession to make:

I am comfortable. In my life right now, where I am, who is around me, what is going on…I like it. I enjoy it.

And then I see something like this:

comfort vs courage

…and I think, “Oh NOES! I need to stop being comfortable or something is going to happen to pull me right out of my comfort zone.”

Is that true?
I don’t know.

Is comfort with personal circumstances as opposed to all circumstances really a barrier to growth?
I’ll let you know…

After seasons of stress and turmoil, is it “ok” to have a season of ease?
That seems like a legalistic approach. Pretty sure God just wants us to pursue Him and He’ll give us what we need in all seasons (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…)

Is happiness a fleeting feeling I should let go of in the pursuit of true, deep down, God-given joy?
Heck YES.

I’m not sure if these questions make sense to anyone but me right now. I’ve been having fun mini-blogging #bestsummerever on my Facebook, enjoying the whole hammock-and-popscicles kind of life previously unimaginable in adulthood. But as always, that doesn’t reflect all my life. We still have stuff – you know: quandaries, issues, struggles, decisions. I still have hurdles – questions about where to go from “here” in various relationships and pursuits. In all that, though, I don’t want to apologize for finding peace. I don’t want to feel guilty for embracing joy. And I don’t want to worry that comfort – in my own skin – is a roadblock to growth as a leader.

So, I hope what the above means is “don’t be satisfied.” In my eternal quest to decipher whether my “drive” is God-led ambition or ego-fueled pursuit, I know that there is rarely a time when I am “all good” with staying exactly where I am. I need to improve my fitness, my parenting, my Bible study, my keeping in touch with people, my focus on The Moment.

Example: My pursuit of relationships lately has been interrupted by my pursuits in ministry. As a leader, I am called and expected to elevate my level of conversation. For me, it has always been easy to crack a joke, make a sarcastic comment, bond through negativity, or be a safe place for people to “be real” because Kelly, she’s been there. And while that last part might be a truth, the rest needs to go out the window. A leader, I am learning, values truth…in gentleness, in love, but over lies and over ease. I am also now just learning (’cause I already knew), but embracing the art of when to shut up! It takes courage for me to stand on this. I always want to be liked and approved of. I run from most conflict. But a leader cannot compromise integrity. So I’m not. And there are results of all kinds…

Comfortable? Well, being comfortable in myself is something I’ve worked on for 3 decades. I won’t be giving that up.

Choosing comfort over courage, or pleasure as an excuse not to grow and lead? Not going to happen.

Boldness and peace in one lifetime? Well, it feels right:

micah 6:8Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
  And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

best summer ever

Truth is, for the last 4 summers, their mama has been preoccupied with other things…

2009 – Branson Gospel Music Convention (& lots of roadtrips)
2010 – Branson Gospel Music Revival (& lots of roadtrips)
2011 – Moving to a new state, starting new jobs (Mommy’s official ‘return to work’) at a new business, & Branson Gospel Music Revival
2012 – Moving to a new house, starting a new preschool/daycare, starting new jobs (& another new business)

Yeah. We’re done with all that.

Now that my kids are 5 and 6 years old, they are not as portable. They have opinions and desires. Thankfully, they do not look at the past 4 summers with the amount of stress and guilt that I do.

This summer, I have declared, with all the grandiose-ness of a child myself, will be The BEST summer ever!

It started with a visit from 23 of our closest relatives and our own staycation… cousins, slumber parties, Myrtle Beach attractions, plenty of pool and beach.

cousins swings cousins cousins shopping with gramma

It continued with a fun Father’s Day weekend with Gramma and Papa.

state park medieval times
It is further commenced by the opening of one of our Favorite Places In The World, Chipotle!

best chips and guac in the world Chipotle!

And it is filled with plenty of little treasures, like Party!Lights! and lanterns on the patio, spontaneous visits from friends and neighbors, small-town-feel baseball games, ice cream for breakfast, free movie mornings, and whatever else we can get into.

IMG_2247 IMG_2088 IMG_2346 IMG_2308 IMG_2282     party lights!

Happy Summer, friends. Here’s to the simple bliss of togetherness.

Advice for a Tuesday {grace}

I am running around enjoying a week of staycation with my 29 favorite family members and writing like crazy for some external deadlines (YAY for external deadlines!) So today I gathered a few stray thoughts that are coursing through me and tried to organize them. Whew. Maybe there is something here for someone besides me.

“If you want attention, be there so people can give it to you.” – Buffy Summers

How many times in my own life have I longed for attention? Oh, dear God… it has been the bane of my existence. And you know what God did? He gave me a husband and two little girls who want my attention… all. the. time.

field day

On one of the last days of school, I finally got the chance to volunteer for something: Field Day. After three hours outside filling water cups and feeling sorry for the primary teachers who were leading these kids around on one of our first truly hot days of the year, I surprised Randa by crashing her lunch hour, also for the first time in the school year.

The look on her face? Something like mine was the day she was born: Surprised. Awestruck. Proud. I hope I never forget it. I hope I never forget that in all I try to do to Be Somebody and Make Lasting Contributions, that sitting beside my daughter for 25 minutes at a sticky lunch table will matter forever. She held my hand the whole time. How blessed am I?

 

“Every ungracious moment means someone doesn’t understand grace.” – Ann Voskamp

Lately I have been struggling with how to properly reach and teach and mold our youngest. At 5, KK has perplexed me more than all her siblings put together. We recently completed, shall we say, a season of anger (more on that some other time). I am trying a new leaf with her: grace… Grace to allow her to figure it out… Grace to leave her in her bedroom yelling about what she wants to wear instead of yelling back at her… Grace to listen to her calmly and reasonably, with accentuating hand gestures and nuanced facial expressions, describe to me for 10 minutes yesterday morning in what ways our family annoys her.

cool like KK

…Grace to get where she needs to go, because God made her – not me – and God knows I perplexed my parents every bit as much, and God’s grace led this same child, on Sunday morning, to ask if we could go pray with her former pre-school teacher, and to place her little hand tentatively on this woman’s back, and go through the motions she has learned about asking God for help.

Grace. Sometimes it’s a shout of elation, and sometimes it’s a sigh from our very souls.

 

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Chinese proverb

Around us, circumstances always bubble at a simmer. Even when things aren’t boiling over, isn’t there always the potential of such?

grace

In the last few years, I’ve been taught {the hard way} the balance of “kick the door down and make it happen!” and “be still and know…” It’s a fragile balance, for sure. I mean, raise your hand if your mind was blown the day you learned that “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t in the Bible?

Anyway, here is where I have landed on this issue.

1. Ask God for help.

2. Help yourself. If He closes a door, you will know by it hitting you in the face when you walk into it.

I think one the most important things about grace is knowing its source. While it is so crucial that we receive it, and so necessary that we give it, it is vital that we look to God for it… not our parents, our children, our spouses, our pastors, our friends. Because they, because we, are human, and we will always fail. God gives life, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. If someone you love doesn’t accept that, or understand it, how can she give it to you? If you find yourself in a dark place today, in an uneasy or even hopeless place, don’t look at the person next to you for the grace you need to make it. God has enough for all of us. Grab on to His grace, light the candle, and be led out of the darkness.

Grace is not about what you do. We are all given grace because who we are, and we are God’s children… – Kelly Burton :)

our weird family

{I am going through the 50-something posts I have saved in DRAFTS and finishing a few. This one was one paragraph long, from November 2012. It’s fun to see where a few months will take an idea…}

I had a conversation with a friend about…oh…six-ish years ago. Which means I was barely 30. Which means, I was practically a baby.

We were talking about the age difference between my husband and me (13 years, if you care to know), and I said it didn’t seem to matter much, (except when it came to parenting stuff, but I wasn’t ready to admit that then…)

My friend, around the same age as my husband, gave me gentle advice. It went something like:

I just know that the way I looked at things changed a lot between 30 and 40.

I have blinked, and here I am… closer to 40 than 30. The cute monikers I used to throw around for our family (“two in high school, two in diapers”) no longer apply. We are settled and grown up (all of us…except the ones who shouldn’t be yet), and we are not waiting for anything to happen to make us ok. We are simply… our family.

But you still can’t look at us and figure us out.

IMG_5320

 

You never could.

hulkus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because these are our kids:

IMG_4948

 

Some of them are old enough to bring me my favorite treats…on the same day! IMG_4937

 

 

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Some of them are still little enough that their weirdness is still adorable… IMG_0057  IMG_4932IMG_4863

 

And some of them just don’t care about being weird. They have taught me well…IMG_5018

They wear us out, daily…

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And they keep us feeling alive….

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I would not trade this weird family for anything.

I wouldn’t have traded it when I was 30, but now, I know more things, and my perspective has changed, and I realize the beauty in our blend, the grace in our glue, and the love in our lunacy.

Who needs normal when you have this?

theburtons

every little thing

perfectly 6For several weeks, my ‘perfectly-six’ year old has been working toward the big kindergarten/1st grade concert.

The song selections: “Yellow Submarine,” “I’m a Believer,” “Hound Dog,” and “Three Little Birds;” clearly, their sainted music teacher knows her audience.

Randa was practicing Tuesday morning, the morning I read the headlines about more children dying at school…not from the senseless act of a shooter this time, but from an act of weather. Either way, it is unimaginable.

Six year olds are toothless, question-asking, finger-waving, hand-holding magical beings. I love Randa, age 6, but just as much: I like her. I enjoy her. She is a fun person, coming into her own, full of life.

So as I imagine the grieving parents of little bodies lifted from rubble, and then hear her warbling six year old voice sing:

“Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin’: “Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

I can scarcely keep it together.

So instead of showcasing that, I give you another humble piece of 6-year-old magic.

Hug them tight, and pray for the grieving.