When I was younger, I remember helping my dad's friend do hay out in a hilly field. I was running the loader tractor like I'd been doing for years, but wasn't familiar with the way the land rose and fell out in that field.
There was a time near the end of the day when I was putting the hay bale on the hayrack, and I don't even know how it happened, but the tractor's wheels on one side left the ground because of the way the tractor was on the hill and I thought for sure it was flipping on its side. I'd never been more scared, and needless to say, my dad finished loading the remainder of the bales that day.
Since then, I've had a thing will hills. I hate driving on them, I hate riding with someone who's driving on them.. In a truck, in a tractor, any of it. When I ride with my dad in the combine during harvest, I have to hold on to the handle when it gets to a hilly section because I freak myself out.
Yeah, I know, the tires are huge, it's unlikely it'll tip, he's been doing it for years, the hills aren't that hilly, they were able to plant on it, so they'll be able to do the same to harvest it, yada yada.. I'm a sissy when it comes to it. I can ride on a quad, on a pit bike, anything like that and not bat an eye, but big tractors and hills, no thank you.
Yesterday rolled around and the hay needed to be done. It was just me and my dad starting out and he wanted to bring the bales in from the end rows that he'd bailed the night before before he got started with bailing the rest of the field and I'd start lining them up to load up.
For whatever reason, he decided that I'd run the Agco pulling the hayracks and he'd load them up. Why, I'm not sure because I always run the loader, but that's how we began. If it were the field that's across the street from our house, I would've been fine. No sweat. But, it was the field behind the barns and those field are hilly and all over the place.
Cue the anxiety.
Okay.. I will be fine. Face my fears. Take it slow and it'll be okay.
When we're scared, we usually want to face the fear slowly, right? We take it a step at a time and confront whatever it is that prevents us from doing something?
Yeah.. well, turns out that's not the brightest idea sometimes. Sometimes, we have to go quick and get it over with.
I thought going up the hill slowly would be a good idea. I didn't think it was as smart when I got halfway up it and I wasn't going fast enough to keep it running and stalled the engine.
Well, shoot. My mind starts racing and all I know is I'm going to start rolling backwards down the hill any minute if I take my feet off the brakes, so I sat there as still as I could while my dad came over to help.
He told me I needed to speed it up to keep it from happening again, but I told him I didn't want to drive it anymore and we switched. Yes, I know.. scaredy cat. We weren't even halfway around the outskirts of the field so I knew we'd probably be facing that incidence more than once if I stayed in that tractor because I wasn't quite ready to be zooming up the hills.
So much for facing my fears, right?
While I might not have overcome my fear of hills, I did realize something out on the tractor yesterday. After that moment yesterday, I rode my smaller tractor, the one I felt safer on. I lined up the bails then loaded them on the hayrack. I listened to music and as I always do, I thought.
How often when we're going through the hills and valleys of life, do we give up or get tired and frustrated and think to ourselves that we can't do it anymore? How close are we to the end of a struggle, but we give up just before we see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Sometimes we do need to rest, refill our cup, restore our strength and hope. Other times, we have to push through, full steam ahead because if we give up now, then we might roll back.
Whether you're on a mountain top right now, the middle of a valley, or just pretty content, haven't we all been through moments where we're faced with being persistent or falling back into the way things used to be? We're tired of taking one step forward and then two steps back, but yet, every time, there we go.
We're halfway where we're aiming to be, but it's just sooo much easier to fall back into old patterns, old ways of life and settle because life really wasn't that bad. Like the tractor if I would've taken my feet of the brakes, it'd be easy to roll backwards. To give up the progress we've made because we get a little scared, a little uncertain.
We forget that we have someone beside us at all times. A cheerleader, an encourager, a lover, someone that believes in us and will not let us fall. When we're scared, when we feel helpless, empty of hope, defeated, torn, unworthy, the last place we want to look is to the One who died for us, but that's exactly where He wants us to look.
You see, He's on the mountain top and He's in the valley. He's in the middle of the hill when you can see the top, but start to fumble when you look back.
You might think you can't do it, that you'll keep going to the job you hate because everyone tells you it's where you belong and you've already been there for so long, or you keep going back to the relationship that hurt you because you're comfortable and you've already invested time in it and you think it'll get better. You'll study the subjects you dislike because someone is telling you you need to get a career in this field.
Let me be a friend to tell you this. I've been there. I've felt the uncertainty, hurt, loneliness, lack of patience. I've wanted to push through and go on, but sometimes it's hard. That's when like my dad coming in to help, that's when we need to not try and conquer something on our own, but turn to both the One who never leaves us and to those beside who He gave us to do this life with.
Let others encourage you and don't try to do it all on your own. Who you surround yourself and the words you tell yourself do matter. They can make you or break you in certain situations. Don't let the words out of your mouth or the affirmations you tell yourself be those that will prevent you from moving forward.
Most importantly, don't give up. If you need a moment, take a minute to rest. Just because you're struggling doesn't mean that you have to quit. He's behind you, and if you let Him, He won't let you fall. He'll give you a boost, a little push, and He'll place people and experiences along your path, some you expect and some that take you by surprise. Be open and let those moments bring you renewed strength and new hope.
You're closer to the top than you think. And even if it feels like it's going be months before you can take your foot off the brake and put it on the accelerator to get to the top, He will be there. He's a God of the hills AND valleys, and everywhere in between, and you are never alone.
It feels a tad bit like fall right now, and I'm kinda in love with it. I went on a bike ride today and I went outside in a tank and quickly realized that I'd probably be a little chilly with that, so a quarter zip and leggings it was.
These kinds of days are my favorite, and one of the many reasons I love the fall months (yes, sorry, I know it's still August). Seasons are changing though, the days are getting shorter, the sun is coming up later.
It's not just the actual season, but the seasons of lives are changing as well. Kids are back in school, everyone is spending their last days out on the water, resumes are being redone, and for me, another season begins as one job ends and the search for another begins.
I've known for awhile that I'd be done at this time, and I've been applying to jobs for a couple weeks. Everyone keeps asking me what I'm doing next. Sometimes it's frustrating not having a straight answer for them, especially when I'm one that usually likes to have some sort of plan, and especially when someone different asks me almost every single day.
I have a lot of ideas in my head of what I'd like to be doing and with that come even more questions.. Should I stay, should I go, what should I do?
I always have a million thoughts running through my head when I ride my bike, and today it had me thinking hard about being patient and trusting God's plan.
With fast food, overnight deliveries and everything in our generation being available seemingly whenever you want it, we don't have to patient with much. When we do, how often do we through a fit and grow impatient within minutes. Say we're driving somewhere and we hit traffic, how long does it take us to grow irritated and start yelling about it?
Social media heightens our awareness of others lives and can create a restless sense within us, especially when seeing others thrive where you seem to struggle. We oftentimes forget that social media is a place for the highlight reel of people's lives. We don't see the hard times and the worries and doubts, but the good moments and successes.
So when it comes time for us to be patient, it's tough.
We want a job, we want a family, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a marriage, a house of your own, more this, more that.. and we don't want to wait for it. We want it right now.
But, sometimes that isn't God's plan for us. Sometimes we have a season of life when we have to be patient and we have to wait. I've been there the past few months, and it's challenged me and frustrated me in more ways than I thought possible, but in that, I've found new strength and new hope that God promises us.
It's been a time of excitement, fear, heartbreak, fun, new adventures and places, new people, and lots of laughter. I always thought I had all of my trust put in the Lord, but when things arose that left me feeling insecure and upset, I found a new side of Him that I hadn't had to pursue before.
I tried to make things work that I'd been praying hard about, but I knew weren't right for me. If I asked for a sign of it being right or wrong, I knew in my heart He'd given me plenty, and I mean plenty, but yet, don't we tend to think we know better than Him (and everyone else) when it's something we have our heart set on? So that's why I did.
After awhile though, it drains you. It causes more tears than happiness and then Satan starts to wiggle his little way into your brain, convincing you that it's what you deserve, that you don't deserve this or that, to be happy, to have this job, to have that woman or man in your life.
He knows we'll do this. He knows sometimes we'll stray from the path He wants for us, but still is there waiting with arms wide open when we come back.
It doesn't mean that we're "weak," or "uncool," or everything negative that society will try to label us. It means that we trust God enough to give Him control of our lives, to trust that His plans are greater than ours and that in HIS timing, it will all work together far better than we could have orchestrated in our own doings.
You see, God wants to work through you and me, if we're willing, He'll lead us. He'll direct our steps, our life path, our opportunities and chances that we take. When I graduated two years ago and surprised everyone with taking a gig on the east coast for 4 months, I went out of my comfort zone, but knew that it was where God wanted me. Sure I was afraid, but when you put your faith and trust in Him, He won't leave you free-falling. He'll be there, your parachute to help you land safely where He wants you.
It might take a few stops, but He won't fail you or I. It might feel like you're jumping out of an airplane thousands of feet in the air, especially if it's trusting Him in ways you haven't before. He won't push you out, He'll let you jump when you're ready, and when you do, when we decide to give it our all with Him, He's there, He's got our back, and He's got the perfect landing spot for us.
In His timing, we'll land it. The job, the relationship we've been praying long and hard for, the home we've been dreaming up, the kids we've been wanting to have. None of it will come a second late.
In the mean time, be encouraged and do not grow weary. Instead, be excited and joyful and anticipate the good to come.
Lamentations 3:25-26 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord
"I love you, Hil." "Hey, Hil." "Can you scratch my back?"
Kids are my favorite. In a world that's full of such bad, they're so refreshing to spend time with. They like to snuggle at the end of the day and be read a book, just wanting a simple little back scratch. They make me laugh til my belly hurts, and though I don't have kids yet, I've do have five that I call my own (however theyre always on my back about me giving them some cousins to hang out with... Hold your horses kiddos!) I've been living with my sister the past five months, so the time I'm not working, I'm out and about with my little children as I call them, and in these moments, they've taught me more than they'll ever know.
They don't hold on to the negativity, they aren't full of worry, they tell you how it is without a filter because they haven't been taught by society to cover up the truth, not even a little bit. At the end of the day, I know I'll come home to arms wide open and great big hugs awaiting for me.
The words that come out of their mouths are honest, they're sweet, a lot of the time extra sassy, but I'm pretty sure my heart still melts on an average of at least 15+ times per day. I always think I can't love them any more than I do because well, it's a lot, but yet every single day my love grows and grows. They're turning 8 and 9 this week/next week, and though they are little, the words and actions of them make an impact on my lil heart and i'm sure everyone else they encounter. My oldest niece is 13 and I cannot believe that.. How can she be old enough for me to talk to my life about and her give me advice... WHAT?!
The thing is, you're never too old to learn from a kid, and you're never too young to be an example to someone else and open their eyes to a new perspective on something. These little rascals have taught me a lot and maybe it can help you out, too.
1. Let it go. They can be arguing one minute over something silly, and be back to being best friends the next minute. Even if it's something bigger than who gets what barbie, they still have the ability to move on from it. How often do we get caught up in holding on to something, even long after it's happened? Sure people are going to cause us pain, and sometimes it is hard to let go of, but holding on to something for too long will do nothing good for you.
She's 13, but she's been my little right hand girl. She's been the one to listen to everything on my heart and seen it all firsthand-- the good, the bad, the excitement, the nerves, and when did she become so wise to tell me that I needed to do just that with a part of my life.. let it go, and then be the one I turn to with advice? She's protective and solely wants what's best for me, and when she knew that that wasn't what was going on, she'd be honest and tell me so. Don't we all need someone like that? Who will be straight forward and honest and be happy for you when you're happy and ready to kick some booty when you're upset?
I've seen it happen, I've experienced people dwelling on something for years and what I've seen develop over many years is a whole lot of bitterness and misery. Not just for that person, but for everyone in their circle. If something has a hold on you, then it won't just affect you. God didn't create us to judge one another, He will do that. Not one of us is any better than the other. Not a single one of our mistakes is something we can hold against someone else, because you know what? We all mess up. We all fall short. Maybe you don't know how to let go of the pain, maybe someone did something to you that you just can't forgive. Pray about it. Pray for healing, pray for contentment, pray to forgive or to be forgiven.
Maybe we need to call up an old friend and apologize for something that happened years ago, maybe you have to stop blaming yourself for something that happened, whatever it might be in your life.. it's not too late and it's possible. You might think it's too late and you might think it'd be weird to not have that certain hold on you in your life anymore. It's freeing though, and as my niece loves to say (not sure where she got it from, but it always makes me grin real big) FREEDOM'S FINALLY HERE! And it can be for you. Just slowly and day by day, let it go (cue Frozen soundtrack because you already know we sing that at the top of our lungs).
2. Be fearless.
My sister and the girls went back to IL for the weekend and my sister was telling me about my niece who saw the momma kitty taking one of the babies away, so she ran after it and grabbed it out of the mouth and brought it back to the little pen my dad has set up for them. She wasn't scared of it at all. She'll go down by the pen with the bull in it. They'll do flips on the monkey bars at the park. They'll climb up the little rock wall and jump off. They do just about anything and everything without taking a second to get in their head and create a fear that prevents them from doing what they had their heart set on.
They don't stop to think about what other people will think, why they should have fear, they just do it. Instead of overanalyzing and basing your decision on what others will think of you if you do this or that, just go for it. If it's something you feel God is placing on your heart, it's there for a reason. You've prayed about it and you know it's what your next step is meant to be, then go for it. Don't live in fear, because you might miss out on something special.
Don't get to the end of your life and look back and wish you would've taken this chance or done that.. do it now, and do it without fear. God already has every moment of your life planned, so take a hold of that promise and embrace it. Maybe you've been debating whether to take a new career path or you just want to try something you've never done before, you want to reach out to someone about something, but there's fear holding you back. Maybe it's a note you've been wanting to send but have held on to it for a while or there's just something you want to or even need to say but you're afraid to step outside of your comfort zone because you've been hurt in the past and you're scared. Well, as Izzy will reiterate, SHE'S SENDIN ITTT! You should send it, you should do it. You should take a chance, because God's with you and beside you and on the other side, waiting for you to take that leap and trust Him.
Life's too short to waste it in your mind, pondering the what-if's. Go for it and let God work through you. When you put your trust in Him to lead you and direct your steps, it's amazing how He'll lead you places you would've never imagined.
3. Dance and Be Silly. If you catch me and the girls riding in the car, you're 9/10 times likely to see us blasting the music and being silly dancing and with all of that comes lots of laughter. Firework, Go Cubs Go, you name it, we dance to it.
There have been multiple times where I come home form work and they will have the Die A Happy Man music video playing on the TV because they know I'm a tad bit obsessed with it and Thomas Rhett (I swear I haven't listened to Grave at least 40 times since it came out Friday and that I'm definitely not listening to it on repeat as I write this), and we dance around the living room and on the couches and just laugh.
We watched the CMA Fest the other night and if you poked your head into our living room you would've seen me and Addy slow dancing, doing ridiculous dance moves, singing at the top of our lungs, because why not? Olivia is Pop Diva Princess and wanted to change the channel the whole time, but majority won so it stayed on. She also told me last night as we started a movie that there wasn't any country music in it but I still had to watch it. I started singing Firework when it came on and she's like SEE, HILARY YOU LIKE IT! NOW YOU'RE LIKE ME, POP. There's never a dull moment with her. Moments later, she proceeded to tell me that she doesn't want another uncle that likes country music (sorry Uncle Austie). Silly silly girl.. Too bad, so sad. I'll convert her one day ;) and until then I'll continue to blast my music and sing it nice and loud for her to hear.
The thing I love about kids is they don't care how goofy you are, how outrageous you probably look to other adults driving by or listening to you, they love every moment of it. They've rubbed off on me, and I've done my best to lead them and be an example to them. I've learned to not care so much what other people will think. If someone doesn't like you for who you are, then that's their loss.
You're a treasure. If you're reading this right now, I want you to remember that. You're so dang amazing. Be yourself and don't try to live up to others expectations because you want them to accept you. Nah, be yourself. 100%. God created you with a purpose. He created you as you are because you're one of a kind. There's no one else like you, and you shouldn't try to mimic someone else because you want to be them. Embrace who you are. Love yourself. Be silly, and laugh often. A moment spent in sadness is a moment of happiness you'll never get back. The sooner you let it go, the sooner you'll be able to smile again.
If you're open and willing, you can learn a lot from the little ones, and they pick up on a lot from you, so be the person that they need. Love them, cuddle them, encourage them, be the person that you'd want to have in your life at that age.
Even when you don't realize it, you're probably learning more by being present and appreciating the little things with little and with old. Remember, you're never too old to learn from a child, and they'll never be too young to learn from you. Little things go a far way, no matter the age.