I’m Standing on a Precipice

Stella and I went blueberry picking today. If you’ve ever picked blueberries, you know it is a long and tedious process. When you go apple picking, you can fill a bag in just a few minutes. When you pick strawberries, it takes more time,  but it’s still manageable because the berries are obviously bigger. But picking blueberries? It takes determination to fill a 5 qt. bucket . And even though I brought my most patient kid, it was surely an endurance test.

So what do you do when you’re picking blueberries FOR HOURS?

You chat.

If you ever want your child to talk to you and tell you things, I suggest you take them blueberry picking. Because you have some time!

In the middle of this blueberry patch, Stella was thinking about where she would like to live if she could choose to live anywhere. Her answer? Big Y. The local grocery store. Why? Because you could eat anything you want, any time you’re hungry. (She *could* just live in the blueberry patch and eat all the blueberries she wanted. She certainly had her fair share. To me, that would be more enjoyable than Big Y. But I digress.)

So when she asked me, “Where would YOU like to live?,” I didn’t have to think hard. My answer is almost always, “in a tiny house, on a lake.” And then I reminded myself that I practically DO live in a tiny house and we’re PRETTY MUCH on a lake (short walk). It’s a  really simple life. I’m basically living my dream life and I forget that so often.

This idea of “living simply” has been my mantra for at least the past six years.  I’ve tried to leave this house, this town, so many times, and God said ‘no’. Sturbridge Village, Africa, Walden Pond – they are all places that call to me because of their simplicity. I often think I was born in the wrong generation, but I know that’s not true. I can certainly take away some wisdom from all of these places.

I’m standing on a precipice. I’m standing on a precipice of change.

Maybe it’s not actually a change, but more of a “going home.” I guess that’s a change. A redirection.

I mentioned in this post that somehow I got lost. Somehow I let the world’s noise filter in. Somehow I lost the balance, whatever that is. I’m in the process of rediscovering what I’m passionate about. And I’m leaving some good things behind in order to do that.  I find, that as I’ve entered into my 40’s, I’ve gained a new sense of confidence. A quiet confidence of going after the things that fill me up and bring me joy. Recently I read a phrase that said, “If it isn’t a ‘hell yes’, then it’s a ‘no’.”

This isn’t entirely new to my 40’s. I’m actually really good at saying no. But I’ve just continued to narrow down my focus. People don’t like it, so it can cause some tension. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve also run out of f’s to give (please, take no offense).  No,  I won’t spend $200 on a dinner out for 2 people. No, I can’t spend 3 hours in the car with my kids to attend that family gathering. No, I won’t run the school bake sale. These are often GOOD THINGS, but I also know that I have to do what’s best for my family, my people; myself.

I want to do my best to show up for the people who are close to me. I want to connect with people who are intentional about spending time with me (that’s my love language). I want to have meaningful conversations. The introverted part of me does not want to shoot the shit. I will if I have to, but it’s not my jam. And I want to do my best to care for the people who are broken, heartbroken, sick and truly vulnerable.  Somehow I find that these are my people. I find them to be the most authentic.

As I sift through all the things to discover what it is I actually want from this life, I’ve discovered that I’d work for free if I’m passionate about it.

So…

I’m leaving my job and I’m going to Africa! I’m leaving another good thing. I teach reading to kindergardeners and first graders. I love my students so much. But my passion is global missions (Africa in particular) and I can’t help but think that God is using these skills I learned as a reading teacher for something else in the future. I have been to Africa. I went to Malawi with “Little Dresses for Africa” in 2013 and I loved it so much. I would go to Malawi again in a heartbeat. I just want to experience a different part of Africa.

Here’s how it went down: I had been following Sole Hope for some time. I even hosted a shoe cutting party for them. When I saw that they were accepting applications for an experience trip, I applied. I figured that if they DIDN’T accept me, they made the choice for me. And if the DID accept me, I’d have a choice to make.

Well, I was accepted. So, I had to make the choice: to go, or not.  I always see these things as an invitation from God. Why does he want me there? What will I learn? Who will I meet? I find that every time I accept these “invitations,” I learn something new, or meet someone new. Just as I did when I went to Malawi.

Africa is so complex, but there’s a simplicity there that draws me to it.

So, I’m going. More information to come soon….

xoxo   Jana