“I want to ride a snowmobile,” he said to me on the phone one day before Christmas. “It’s one of the things I’ve had on my bucket list and I’m afraid if I don’t do it now I’ll never get the chance.” My dad has always been the one who creates opportunities for his family to have adventures together. Kayaking, riding ATV’s in the desert, horseback riding, going off the beaten path (like WAY off the beaten path); these are the things that give him joy especially when he gets to experience it with his favorite people.
So, after Christmas, we all made the trek up to Mt. Hood and the snowmobiling excursion that awaited us. My sweet husband, knowing how rarely I get to do ‘non-mom-ish’ type of activities, offered to have me go instead of him since there were only enough snowmobiles for 4 of us with the two kids needing to ride with adults. After our guide got all of the snowmobiles lined up in a row and gave us a safety lesson, it was time for us to hop on and head into the snow-covered forest. My 15 year old son got on the back, all the while bemoaning the fact that he was a few months shy of getting to drive one by himself, and I got settled into the driver’s seat.
We started off down the path as the snow began to gently fall and even though we have been snowmobiling before as a family, getting to check this one of my dad’s bucket list made it feel like a brand new experience for all of us.
It didn’t take long, though, before I began to notice something different about this particular trip. Being last in the line of snowmobiles put me at a bit of a disadvantage. Basically, we were getting all of the fumes coming from everyone in front of us. It was not pleasant. Here we were gliding over the snow-covered hills at the base of a majestic mountain all the while choking on exhaust.
So, I did the only thing I could do. I hung back a bit from the group. I didn’t let them get out of my sight but I slowed down enough to allow me and my son to breathe in some fresh, non-exhaust filled air.
But, feeling keenly aware of how easily I could get separated from everyone else, I hurried to catch back up again. And, sure enough, those fumes began to overwhelm us once more. So, there we were, going back and forth between slowing down and speeding up and as I continued to gauge how close we could get to the other crafts before we were overwhelmed once more by the odor, I realized that I was going to have to make a choice about how to handle this dilemma for the next hour and a half of our adventure.
As I drove on, grateful for the built-in heaters on the hand grips, I also realized something else. The constant tension of trying to keep up with everyone else only to get close and begin choking on their fumes was very similar to how I’ve been feeling in my life.
I look ahead at the people in front of me, happily going along the path and I want to be with them. That is seemingly the ‘right’ line to be in. And yet, whenever I get close enough to feel like I’m apart of things, I’m still in last place and choking on their fumes. But, when I hold back a bit, I find myself feeling left out and alone.
For the past year, I just haven’t quite known where I fit in in this great big blog-o-sphere. You see, I’m no longer as easily defined by one genre. With an emphasis on sharing both ideas for your home and inspiration for your heart, most often I find myself being neither here nor there. I write about my faith, but since I don’t write exclusively about my faith I am not fully immersed in the ‘faith-based writer’ community. I share about decorating and other home-related topics but since I don’t share exclusively about those things and since, these days, the thought of doing more craft-y things makes my skin crawl, I don’t really fit in with the ‘home’ blogging crowd.
This has often left me feeling isolated and yes…even lonely.
And the same feeling that began to well up in me as the distance between my snowmobile and the ones in front of me grew longer, is one I experience in my professional life too. This feeling of seeing everyone ahead of me, the space between me and them growing bigger and bigger and I don’t know how to catch up. I’m not even sure I really want to.
But, as we drove on, I felt another feeling began to develop. As I slowed down to get away from the fumes, I realized that I was being given the opportunity to experience something different from everyone else in the group. I was able to truly soak in the beauty of my surroundings. My view was unobstructed and my son and I began to notice more of the details. There was the snowman that someone built down a side path which put a smile on our faces. There were the branches on the trees literally bending in half from the weight of the snow. And the paw prints from some small creature out foraging for food.
I began to see all of the benefits of being the last in line. For one thing, it gave us the chance to speed up now and then and, let’s face it, snowmobiles are a lot more fun when they’re going fast.
And I realized that it was exactly where I belonged. It was ok to have pulled back a bit from the group. To go at my own pace, with the opportunity to soak up more of my surroundings.
And I’ve also realized that THIS is where I belong. Right here, with all of you.
It doesn’t really matter if I don’t fit into one genre or another. It doesn’t matter if I no longer get asked to join in very many blogging home tours or try out new types of craft glue. It doesn’t matter if I don’t want you to ‘shop my page’ or if I’m not included in the round robin style activities to gain followers on Instagram.
It doesn’t matter if other faith-based authors don’t relate to my home decor themed blog posts. It doesn’t matter if I’m not seen as really one of ‘them’ or that I don’t tackle hard-hitting, controversial topics.
All that matters is that my heart is here…with you. And that I am FOR you.
As I reflect on my years of writing to you, I can’t help but think about what has always resonated the most in our community here. It’s when we’ve shared our hearts with each other. When we’ve had those “you too?” moments. Whether it’s been about dealing with insecurities or chin hairs, making peace with not wanting to live in a farmhouse or having doubts about Hallmark movies.
And, as I think about what I feel the most passionate about, what makes me the most excited and what I truly feel God calling me to share with you, a simple message emerges.
I want you to have more peace in your hearts and more peace in your homes. And I believe those two things are very intricately connected. In fact, I believe that they are so woven together that it’s hard to have one without the other. If our homes are chaotic then our hearts are chaotic and if our hearts are chaotic our homes are chaotic.
So, my hope for this coming year, is that when we encounter each other (whether it’s online or in person!) you will come away feeling encouraged and uplifted. That you will be challenged to pursue having more peace in your hearts and your homes.
And, if you find yourself struggling to keep up with the rest only to find that you’re choking on fumes, I hope you will find that there is freedom (and easier breathing!) when you slow down and go at your own pace.
Much love to you all,