“Finding” What I’ve Been All Along

Free Indeed

Since the start of this blog a little over a year ago, I have changed. I suppose it was inevitable. Sigh.

When I chose “Katie Without Restrictions” as the title for this blog, I knew it had meaning. I knew it expressed my desire to live freely, transparent in my dealings and open in my words and actions. What I didn’t know was how very much I, and consequently my blog, would really grow into its name.

To read all about the new direction that Katie Without Restrictions will be taking from this point forward, check out my newly updated “About The Blog” page. Although, I’m not sure that new direction is the right description; Katie Without Restrictions is still the place where you’ll find me, open and honest. Perhaps now, ready to be more open and honest. But the new “About the Blog” page puts words to what I’ve maybe been hoping to do all along.

Thanks for those of you who’ve been on this journey with me. Moving forward, I’m excited to share tons of growing and learning experiences I’ve had in the past several months while I’ve been pretty much MIA. I’m excited to share how I look back, and look at now, and see how it all builds on itself and blends together beautifully.

Talk to you soon!

Linked Up: Unite the Bloggersphere, Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, Teach Me Tuesday, Titus 2sday

Flipping That Switch

I returned home yesterday after spending the weekend at a conference with the teens from my church. On the last day of the conference, Sunday morning, as we all sat in that huge convention room one last time, sleep-deprived and ready to go home, the keynote speaker issued a final challenge.

By the thousands, we bowed our heads in prayer, and we invited the Lord God to speak into our hearts at that moment. As we were about to head for home, we invited the Lord to tell us what in our lives needs to stop, immediately.

Well, the Lord spoke to me instantly, and in usual Katie style, His answer was grand, and moving, and beautiful.

Um, no. The Creator of the universe and lover of my soul spoke to my heart, and he said these four little words:

“Turn off the TV.”

And, in usual Katie style, my automatic response to the Creator of the universe and lover of my soul was truly accepting and eloquent:

“Wait, what? That can’t be right…”

Yes, for just a few seconds, I argued with God and justified my sin. I told myself that He didn’t really say it, He couldn’t really mean it. Since when does God tell people to turn off the TV? I gave Him this great opportunity to tell me anything, and that’s what He said? I must have imagined it.

And then I admitted to myself that I had opened my heart to Him and He had indeed spoken to me. I just didn’t like His answer. I don’t like that TV watching is my sin. One of my sins. Quite frankly, my sin sounds dumb to my ears. But it’s so very true.

This morning I got out of bed, and as I went about my bathroom routine, my finger itched toward the television remote. It’s my routine; I listen to the TV. The TV is on in my home pretty much every waking minute of the day while I’m there, at least while I’m there by myself. I turn it on to listen to, to keep me company, entertain me, and I suppose even to block out my own thoughts at times. It fills my brain so that I don’t have to.

It steals my attention, it steals my focus. It fills my mind with the world. And on mornings that I don’t have to immediately get ready, I sit down for “a few minutes” to watch. And I become a slug. I hide from the world, from responsibility, from emotions and people and God. The TV is my go-to, catch-all comforter and fixer.

Watching TV is not always a sin, but it is a huge area of sin in my life.

My sin is gross, and it shames me.

This morning as my finger itched, as I automatically longed toward the noise that gives my brain respite, it suddenly clicked that it was time for me to choose.

What’s more important to me? Obeying the command of my Creator, who has a brilliant plan for my life if only I will allow Him in, or flipping that switch?

The answer seems obvious, but every time that I have chosen to turn the TV on and tune the world out I am speaking with my actions.

I finally know the right choice.

Turned OFF TV

Summer Unscripted

I had many, many things planned for this summer. And I cannot tell a lie: most of those things did not happen.

What was completely unexpected? My hiatus from blogging!

At first, the break really stressed me out. Why couldn’t I get my words out? What kind of hole of darkness was I falling into? The funny thing is, the not writing turned out to be exactly what I needed.

This summer has been arguably the best of my life. I’ve learned so much about me, and grown so very much. It’s been a process, and it turns out there was just nothing to say in the middle of the process.

I’m so excited to get so much of this written, out of my mind and organized and publicized. In the meantime, here are some scenes of my summer, a little bit of what’s going on. When I scroll through these pictures, I see a collection of impactful moments, journeys, processes, connections; I hope that you enjoy living some of my summer vicariously!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along the Way

“To give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions.”

~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are

Lately, I’ve been stuck. I feel like I’m always saying this, but isn’t it always true? To a certain extent, we get recharged, we move forward in joy, in fresh newness, and then slowly, so slowly we hardly notice it, we’re back where we started.

Taking time for quiet time.

When I started my journey to 1,000 gifts, I was all in. Counting the gifts that God lays out before me each day? No brainer! Making a list, displaying it for both myself and others to see, what could be better? How could this not show me the joy, the purpose, the gift in each moment?

Well, I guess that’s the nature of me, and maybe of life? I’m forgetful. I carry on, and I forget the purpose of my journey, and I forget the gloriousness that is the gift of each moment. The unexpected, undeserved surprise that I get another moment, and another, and that beyond simply having the moments, that so many of them are filled with good.

Postcards from my love while he was away for work.

The quote at the top of the page is from this week’s reading for book club, and it’s a line that particularly stood out to me. I don’t have to feel thankful to give thanks; I don’t have to feel joyful to rejoice. Both are actions, and I’m the choice-maker. In each moment, what will I choose?

A mama duck with one precious little duckling, on a very early Saturday morning.

I looked back over my list after finishing up today’s chapter, and I realized that it had been 18 days since I added one single gift. Before that addition ~ 6 days. I have wallowed in my busy-ness, in my seeking and my ignoring, and my living for me and my living in fear, and I have not chosen to rejoice anyway. Today I added 12 gifts, with intention and purpose.

My Chobani winnings ~ such excitement to find this on my doorstep!

The photos in this post are all moments from the past 18 days. While writing this post, I looked through my camera roll on my phone to see what was there, and I found that I had captured many, many moments through my lens, many, many gifts. I have been seeing, but not naming.

As I move forward from this moment, it is with new intention. To name the gifts, and to choose the rejoicing. Will I slip again? Undoubtedly. Is it still worth the effort? Absolutely.

What gifts have you noticed in your life recently?

The Importance of Friendship

Last night, I had the supreme pleasure of a girls’ night out with two of my very best girlfriends, Colleen and Barb.

This is the only picture I could find of all three of us together!! It’s from last fall’s camping adventure (husbands present, but not photographed!).

We met at a local eatery, drinks, appetizers, and desserts were devoured, and laughter abounded as we joked and talked about the not-so-serious and downright-silly.

We also talked serious about the “real” stuff going on in our lives: husbands, kids (where applicable!), families, our own personal struggles in being Godly women.

It was good.

There was a time in my life when I did not consider it to be very important to maintain friendships. I struggled with wondering why I didn’t have that group that I just “clicked” with, and wondering why friends didn’t naturally flow into my life. As I’ve lived with depression, one of my personal struggles over the years was that I would never call people back, I would cancel plans (if I actually managed to make some!), and generally stayed to myself completely.

In junior high and high school, I was blessed with a group of fantastic girlfriends. We weren’t the most popular, or the least, we were just part of the landscape of our high school but for us, we were the greatest. As we’ve grown up, our lives have certainly gone in different directions, but we still keep in touch and they all hold such a special place in my heart.

Well… Not the best picture! But we’re all there (plus two extras, but I won’t tell you who!). You may recognize Sarah, still one of my great friends, and Nicki, who just got married in December!

I think the ease with which these friendships came even though, I now realize, I put minimal effort into them, spoiled me! When these ladies nearly all left town after high school and I stayed behind, I realized that I had no friendship skills! Bad news. And worse news, I was too deep in depression to try to figure it out. But I was super sad.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending. But before that, I spent years praying, but not actively trying; sad, lost, and confused. As a couple, Terry and I also had the same struggles ~ we didn’t have any “couple” friends who fit the criteria of both living in our same town and being at a similar life stage to us. I continue to pray for God to put the people in our lives that He wants here, in His time.

We, and I, are finally at a place in our life where we have friends. Although along the way I may have definitely questioned God’s plan a time or two, I can see that He was working His plan, His way, in His time. And now we are blessed with a fantastic group of couples in our lives who get us, who we can be real with, and silly as well; we even have our brand-new friends from the retreat. I have not only the two lovely ladies above, but my book club ladies, and the friends that I’ve made in Character Development. My life has suddenly become filled with friendships that are deep and fulfilling.

A few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • It takes work to maintain friendships.
  • Women need other women.
  • If I feel like I’m the one always reaching for awhile, it doesn’t mean my friend doesn’t like me. It means that they may have stuff going on. They still want to be my friend.
  • Sometimes, even with the best of friends, I still have that “I don’t want to” feeling. Terry gave me a pep talk once that basically consisted of “too bad, go anyway.” That has always stuck with me, and I never regret going anyway.
  • Women can find other women intimidating and unapproachable. It turns out, we all feel that way! Getting to know each other bridges that gap and makes it easier for all of us.

My definition of friendship: real people, sharing real stuff, about real life.

God calls us to fellowship. It’s part of His plan. He didn’t promise it would be easy. Here’s what His word has to say:

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.

What have you learned about friendship over the years?

The Journey to 1,000

I’ve mentioned here and there that I’ve been reading a fantastic book lately, and I’m finally getting around to telling you about the experience!

#1: The smell and anticipation of coffee on an incredibly sleepy morning.

Back in February, an acquaintance of mine put out a question on Facebook to find out if any of her friends were interested in doing a book club, working through a book a couple of chapters at a time. I’ve been wanting to join a book club for about forever, but I simply don’t have the time right now to read an entire book in a month (usually!) ~ this was exactly the chance I had been looking for! I would have joined pretty much whatever the circumstances! It turned out to be one more fantastic choice in a series of fantastic choices that have come along lately.

#26: The satisfaction of deleting homework items from my calendar (my version of checking them off the to-do list!).

It turned out that only one other person was able to commit, and from there our little club was born. Alyssa, Sara, and I all knew each other before this started, but only “surface-y”. Several months in, I’m feeling so very blessed to be sharing pieces of our lives together.

#41: Date nights with my lovey!

We’re reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the experience has been life changing for all of us. We’ve ended up choosing to read only one chapter every two weeks so that we can spend our entire evening when we get together going through just one chapter.

#74: A freshly-opened jar of almond butter.

We’re learning to live life in the moment. To fully commit to whatever is happening right now. To see grace and God in the smallest of moments, and to view the gift in all of it. I’m a different person than I was, and it’s amazing.

Track with me as I list 1,000 gifts in my everyday life.

What have you been doing lately to grow, and stretch the boundaries of who you’ve been?

WIAW: Easter Weekend

Well, this is a strange WIAW post right off the bat because… I have no pictures of any of the foods I am about to tell you about!

As I’ve been reflecting over the changes in my eating habits since “the click“, it occurred to me that I wanted to share my Easter weekend eats. Unfortunately, I had already eaten them without taking any pictures! Not to worry ~ I decked it out with a few other photos that I dug up for you!

The reason that I want to dedicate a post to talking about the food choices I made over the holiday weekend is that I noticed quite a few changes in the way that I approached the eating part of the festivities. The biggest change I noticed was simply how mindful I was about the food!

We had two Easter celebrations this weekend with meals to navigate ~ Saturday with my family at my Grandma Fran’s house, and Sunday with Terry’s family at a restaurant for a buffet-style brunch.

Saturday:

What I Ate:

  • Ham (a “real” ham, not the more processed, pieced-together kind)
  • Spinach, Strawberry, and Walnut Salad with a strawberry/poppyseed, oil-based dressing
  • Potato Salad
  • White Roll w/ Butter
  • A Few Homemade, Bite-Size Cannoli-Style Desserts

What I Didn’t Eat:

  • Processed Cheese Spread
  • Candy
  • Cupcakes, From a Mix, Colored with Jello
  • Easter Bunny Confetti Cake, From a Mix

Why?

The meal was pretty easy for me ~ I chose pretty much the items that I would gravitate towards anyway, being sure to heap up the spinach salad. I definitely did not need, or even really enjoy, the roll. As for dessert, I was delighted to find the cannoli bites! No added colors, only a couple of ingredients ~ these were a perfect choice. I’ve been very conscious of high levels of ingredients for awhile now, and I recently read this post, which really increased my awareness of the issues with added colors in our food. This is why I avoided both cake-style desserts, along with another post that I recently read, which explained that one of the ingredients in store-bought cakes and mixes is actually petroleum! Yuck.

Sunday

What I Ate:

  • 6 (ish) Peel and Eat Shrimp
  • Scoop of Cottage Cheese
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • About 1/2 of a Made to Order Omelet with Mushrooms and Peppers
  • 1 Bite of Terry’s Prime Rib
  • White Roll with Butter

What I Didn’t Eat

  • Tons of Deep Fried Items
  • Desserts

Why?

I was pretty proud of myself with this takeaway meal at a buffet. Normally my buffet approach is that I want to eat everything in sight that looks halfway tasty. This is part of the reason that I don’t really like to go to buffets anyway, along with the general assumption that the food quality is not that great. Again, like Saturday, I really didn’t need or much enjoy the roll; I really do love my bread, but I need to learn which bread is worth and which really isn’t! As we got towards the end of this meal, I almost went back to the buffet for a delicious-looking slice of chocolate cake; it was a completely mindless almost-action. Luckily at the last minute I remembered about the petroleum! Yuck.

How Did I do the Rest of the Weekend?

I prepared for both events by eating something healthy before I went. On Saturday, that was a lunch of Ezekiel toast, eggs, and sautéed mushrooms, and on Sunday that was Ezekiel toast with almond butter and raspberry preserves before church. Not showing up to either event famished definitely helped me to eat more mindfully. On Sunday evening, I made homemade enchiladas loaded with whole grains, clean ingredients, and veggies, plus sweet potatoes, peas, and spinach on the side with the idea of back-loading my weekend with nutrients.

Overall, I feel fantastic about how mindfully I ate over the holiday weekend! So different from usual, and I loved it!

How/what did you eat over the holiday weekend?