I’ve been a horrible blogger this year.
Working part time instead of “very” part time has killed my desire to spend any extra time behind a computer screen. Additionally, Zoe stopped napping last year (June 13, 2016 is basically my personal Pearl Harbor Day), and having a constant companion makes it hard for me to even know what my thoughts are, much less to process them in prose.
Also, as a writer, I typically draw a lot of inspiration from the world around me (that seems so adorably retro now, like carrying around a CD case in your Honda Civic and paying for your gas in a mixture of dollar bills and quarters…a sweeter, more naive time). I’ll spare you the political talk but man, it’s bleak out there. I also draw inspiration from my faith, and 2017 has been weird spiritually as I attempted to “read through the Bible in a year.” Who knew that the layout of the One Year Bible would suck all joy out of my spiritual life as I came to dread each day’s reading? I got almost two weeks behind with everything going on with my grandmother, and tried to catch up, but the layout of this reading plan had me reading essentially the same stories and laws for two months.
I didn’t want to catch up. I wanted it to end.
By late April, I was only reading it because I felt like it was a chore I “should” get through, and that I “should” finish what I started out to do.
But as Shauna Niequist puts it, “should is a warning sign,” and as a recovering perfectionist, I am really sensitive to how quickly “should” can corrupt something good for me. So this week, I quit. I want my relationship with God to be a soft place to land, where grace can be given and accepted, where my heart is glad and free and knows it is loved. Life is hard enough without creating burdens for ourselves. God tells us to be diligent about knowing, remembering, teaching, and living the Word—but He did not say we have to read through it in a year. 🙂
(I made it further than this, but basically, yeah.)
I’m trying to be more sensitive to the “shoulds” in my life—which, when combined with the other reasons listed above, is why you haven’t heard much from me this year. I don’t want to blog because I “should.” I want to blog as a natural outflow of my inspired, reflective heart. My heart isn’t quite there right now, but despite the lack of self-reflection, I’ve been enjoying life! I’m in a good place in so many ways.
Zoe has been doing so well with managing her emotions over the last few months, which makes an incredible difference in my energy level and my own emotions. She just gave me a Mother’s Day present that she made at preschool that includes a photo of her from the beginning of the school year. She was so uncomfortable with many situations then, and was dependent on me to help her figure out coping strategies. The progress between then (left, the best picture they could come up with because she was so uncomfortable…it was like a photo shoot of misery) and last week (right…joy-filled as she enjoys African dance with her class) is visible.
Praise God that she has come so far. I have learned a lot over the last year about how to advocate for what my daughter needs, but have also learned that I can only take her so far and then have to trust God, the community He has given us, and herself to take her the rest of the way. God has been gracious to continually remind me that He is my partner in raising my children, and that it’s not all up to me. It is not chance that the church we “happen” to serve at has an inclusive preschool program that “happens” to be the best place possible for her. I got her on the waiting list when she was one week old; I had no idea we’d need or benefit from the inclusive services. But God did.
Sally Clarkson writes about learning to trust God with her “different” child:
“If you accept this child as a gift from Me, I will use him as a blessing in your life. Let go of your questions, fears, and guilt. If you submit to My will with a humble heart, I will carry this burden for you so you can find peace…
A sense of freedom filled my heart when I understood that I didn’t have to solve all our problems at once or even understand them. God would be with me every step of the way. He would fill in the holes of my inadequacy with His grace” (p. 23).
I am finding this to be so true—the surrender, the peace, the freedom, the gift. And yes, I should probably just hand over the keyboard to Sally Clarkson and let her write this blog.
Maybe because of this freedom, my work/life balance has felt mostly on point for several months. I’ve been stepping into rest more easily than in the past. I’ve been vocalizing the things I want to do to have fun, and enjoying my city, my family, and my friends (I’m trying to do one new thing per week, which is a great challenge if you want to up your joy a little bit). Daylight Savings Time added two hours of daylight to my life and some serious pep to my step.
I’ve been quitting things that came from good intentions but didn’t feel quite right, like the reading plan and my monthly cleaning checklist…I’ll just live in filth, thanks.
I’ve been adding joy to my life through podcasts and exercise and reading and buying the expensive hummus (just do it—it’s amazing). I’ve set up some fun rhythms with the girls, like watching some of The Voice every week when David works late (my final four predictions: Lauren, Chris, Brenley, and Hunter. Lauren, I’ll buy your album. Hunter, would it kill you to emote?!!)
One of my favorite podcasts talked about how truly stopping work can be impossible when you have young children, and how a more appropriate goal for Sabbath may be to “play.” Instead of “resting,” focus on doing what you love and enjoy. I’m so on this train.
This year has me traveling more than any other year in recent memory, which I am so excited about….I’ve already been to Philadelphia twice and Watersound, Florida once, and I’ll be making trips to North Carolina, Texas, and Minnesota in upcoming months, each with a different combination of family members. Pray for our ten hour car ride next week…
I’m not doing any type of regular formal ministry at all right now (for the first time in 7+ years) and a few of my high school girls (who were then my college girls, and are now my POST COLLEGE girls…what?!!) are coming back to town to start big-girl jobs. I’m excited about the possibilities for continued mentoring and friendship, but cautious about committing. If God leads me this direction and opens this door, I would be very happy to step into a new chapter of mentoring young women. But He may just want me to keep taking care of my little ones, and that’s okay too.
So, I’ve been a horrible blogger, but I’ve been a great live-r of life! I just wanted to write a little post to share that I am happy and healthy. I will be back when I have something of greater substance to say (or when summer break drives me to sarcasm), but until then, I hope you all are enjoying your lives as well!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms!