Over the holiday season one phrase spoke to me over and over and over again:
“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

It’s from Luke 2:19, and it hit me so much that when I saw these images of both my “Marys” from Christmas Eve show up on my camera I wanted to keep them close.  And ponder them as well.

I wonder what they were thinking in those split-seconds?  What were they pondering?

I know, it’s a very small verse jumbled amidst bigger and more important ones, and not seemingly really a very integral part of the whole story.
But when you think about it, maybe that pondering was really what made the whole story happen:  that Mary was willing to be still enough to ponder in her heart.  To let the miraculous events become part of who she was, to let them help her become the kind of person she needed to be.

There is power in pondering.  A power that brings understanding and light.  Guidance and safety.

And I like to think that Mary was well-aware of that.

She had to be to do what she did.

Sometimes in this world crammed to the gills with technology, never-ending ideas thrown at us and endless cyberspace to “catch up with,” I think it’s easy to forget about the pondering and just get busy with the “doing” without giving it much thought.

Try that new recipe!
Buy that cute outfit!
Try this new diet!
Watch that show!
Create that perfect party!

And all of it is fine and good, and quite often helps us to progress in wonderful ways.  But as we race from one thing to the next trying so hard to “fill” it with goodness sometimes we forget to keep some of those things and ponder them in our hearts.

And we forget that the pondering itself is what could fill it up rightly.

That very pondering could possibly make all the difference.  Could slow us down.  Could help us remember what’s most important.  And help us find the joy that waits patiently for our hearts to allow it in.

I fell so in love with this scripture as I was doing some of my own “keeping:” many things nestling into my heart, and pondering them in that safe place.

My heart has been so filled with specific things I want to discuss, or write about, or shout from the mountaintops, or bawl my eyes out about, but things that that heart of mine needs to mull over and dissect myself before I “do.”
Sometimes all those things get so jumbled up in that heart of mine it’s hard to detangle them, but most of the time, keeping them close and letting them transform my feelings and thoughts helps me make sense of things.
I think about that lesson in church where we learned about how we can let the fruits of the spirit overcome the works of the flesh (from Galatians 5).
And that lesson about creating beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3…one of the very most beautiful scriptures in my opinion) and how sometimes “plan B” is where we end up and exactly what we need to learn from.
I wrestle in the middle of the night about decisions children are making and how I can guide them.  How I can help them connect to God to guide them.
I think of their friends and how we can help them too.  And my young women.  And that man on the street corner without a home.
I am reading a book about North Korea and I ponder and marvel at what is happening there.  Here in this same world.  
I watch a movie about a young boy lost in India and I sit in the movie theater, tears streaming down my face because I’ve seen that boy.  Thousands of them.  On the streets in India and my heart aches to find a way to reach out and help every one of them.
How to better balance pushing and praising and how to make our kids “hungry” for work and learning.
How to incorporate more reading and writing into our family and how to dismantle our ideas of education and forge our own path that works for us.
How to support my two children who are gone, off on their own adventures, to keep them tethered safely to us yet to let them fly.
I wonder about how a great woman I know told me she tries to make the gospel a living part of life for her children, which in turn, of course, makes me wonder at how I’m doing in that category.
I think about my husband, how to keep him firmly at #1 amidst all the other swirling needs surrounding us on all sides. And how I hit the lottery, over and over again, that he’s mine.
I wonder about this blog, who it is helping, who it may be hurting, how to go forward.
And Lucy, always Lucy, what doctors to see, what her trajectory is and could be depending on how we guide and lead, and what we can do to lift and encourage that girl of ours.  And how we can let her lift us up too, because she does that with certainty.
Each thought (these are a few amidst a flurry of them) deserves some deep pondering.  Each deserves to be detangled from the rest and shined up brightly and dissected.  Yet I am wise enough to know I cannot reach them all.  I cannot be them all.  
I know because I’ve sure tried.  
And failed over and over again.
I’ve learned that only God knows how to help decipher the “best” amidst so many “goods” that pull and prod in so many different directions.
In all my pondering I’ve realized that that (the pondering) alone isn’t enough.  It wasn’t enough for Mary and it’s not enough for me. She pondered but then acted on her ponderings.  I have to “do” to give life to all that “keeping” and “pondering in my heart.” 
But I don’t think those actions are as powerful or focused or full of love without the pondering first.  
So I have chosen “GUIDED” for my “word” to help lead me in 2017 because I think it fully incorporates all those thoughts wrapped up together. (I pick out one word each year to be my mantra for the year.  Some years I emerge triumphant in becoming that word, others I realize I could have done more, but I love having a word to ponder over each year.)  
GUIDED is how I want to emerge from 2017.  
I don’t think you can feel truly guided unless you ASK.  And to ask the right things you have to PONDER.
And also LISTEN.
Which needs to be followed up by DO-ing.
I need guidance to help me detangle that mass of worries and joys and to-dos that are always collected, filed and pondered in my heart.  

So GUIDED as an action word spoke to me this year.  I was guided to that word.  Truly.  And I’m excited to try to act on what I need to do to gain that guidance.

I’m adding my own little addendum to my favorite scripture of the holidays: “And Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart,” …and was guided in how to interpret and incorporate and act upon them.

I have already started deliberately listening better for that guidance and it makes a difference.

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  1. It's 1:40am and I read this as I paced the dark halls of my house trying to get my sick 7 month old to sleep and kept thinking how many times I've been guided in my mothering by reading your blog. Thank you for DO-ing and inspiring so many of us!

  2. Thank you so much, these words spoke straight to my heart. It has been a long, tiring day and I needed some inspiration to start again tomorrow, encouragement to pray for guidance and stop measuring myself against my idea of perfection. Thank you from this weary mother on the other side of the world.

  3. I've never commented, I don't think. But I just wanted to tell you that this little corner of the internet is a daily inspiration to me. I have learned so much from you insights and parenting. I am several years behind you with three young kids/toddlers and it's so nice to see the wrestling and learning that happens as life moves on. I learn more and more each day as a parent and I love learning from others as well – like you. Thank you for posting your thoughts! I love to read about it.

    By the way – I was so happy and surprised to see the Crofts family on here! I grew up with her family in Georgia!

  4. Thanks for this. Throughout my life, I've always tried to keep a "hero" in my sights. Someone about five years ahead of me, who is where I want to be. You have been that for me for a few years now. Your example has been priceless to me. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family. I always look forward to your posts. You are a brave lady, Shawnie. Never commented before, but wanted you to know that I do love reading about your journey. It is funny how different we all are, but "oh, how alike we all are". I loved this post. May you be guided throughout 2017.

  6. Love this so much. I'm in awe of how deeply God knows each of our unique children, their potential, our hearts deep down, and daily situations to guide us in his quiet but sure way. Really this word to me sums up the whole purpose of life.

  7. I am a 30 year old mama of 3 girls and I read your blog almost daily. It is so inspirational to me because you are real and honest and SO HUMBLE without being fake. You're genuine and such a deep person and you were made for marriage and motherhood. I admire and deeply respect you. I never want you to feel weight or burden or an obligation to blog (because that takes the fun out of it) but I hope you realize that's it's never in vain. Your words are like water to a dry and weary (at times) soul, because you're allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through you and minister to all of us!

  8. I know you wrote this awhile ago, but I stumbled upon it and had to tell you, your blog helps. A lot! I find your parenting and perspective so inspiring. Thank you for sharing these bits of your life.

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