On Jesus and Motherhood

I open the dining room curtains to a pink dawn and crisp pre-fall morning. Espresso simmers on the stove top—admittedly the only thing that gets me out of bed some mornings. Laptop and coffee in hand, I slip away into the guest room hoping to eek out a few minutes of writing before my babies wake up.

I think about Jesus, His twelve disciples, motherhood, and social media—a mixed bag of old and new, of timeless truths, and human nature.

The world we live in today begs for attention and thrives on the affirmation of virtual likes, comments, and shares. Likely, people have always looked for this sort of approval in one medium or another regardless of the day in which they lived. But this need for notice and approval seems so very quantifiable today with actual numbers of “followers” and thumbs up to tell you just how popular (or unpopular) and noticed (or unnoticed) you really are. IMG_20170716_093307_819I follow a lot of moms on Instagram and read many a word written by moms of littles just like me. But they aren’t really like me at all, are they? Most of them run their own creative business on the side, are publishing books, homeschool half a dozen children or more, pull the weight of a public ministry, or simply rock life as a domestic diva with a perfectly curated home and gourmet meals on the table. That’s not exactly where I’m at, no not really.

These women challenge and encourage me with their lives and words—that’s why I follow them. But who am I kidding if I don’t admit how small I feel in comparison as I just keep my head above water and am thrilled if I post a few words here each week.

The numbers tell me I’m not like them, that I’m not seen or heard, that in a world screaming for attention, I am silent and invisible, unseen and unheard.IMG_20170808_222639_248 This is where Jesus comes in.

I get stuck in my own head sometimes. Stuck filling my heart with lies instead of truth. I go to social media and try to quantify my purpose and meaning with little thumbs up and numbers of followers. But then I’m reminded, Jesus only had twelve. Twelve “followers”—the small group of men he invested in deeply with his time and words and the few he would send out to further the story he had to tell. Just twelve men.

I look at my life, my home, my husband and two children. It doesn’t seem like much sometimes, my impact in this life and world. What difference can I make when all I can do is keep four people (including myself) alive each day? If I were just one of those women who does it all and is followed by many, then I could make an impact and do something lasting. Then the numbers would tell me I have purpose and influence. The numbers would tell me I matter.

But Jesus…

He invested for a short time in a few, not many. He had twelve followers and that was enough for him. Jesus saw the impact deep investment in a few could make on many. Those twelve men went on to turn the world upside down and spread the gospel message to numbers unquantifiable.IMG_20170829_063413_632 My world is small but my people matter immensely. I’m learning to look beyond numbers and to invest deeply and completely in the people and work before me. This isn’t easy, feeling small and unseen in a world shouting for attention. But who I am and what I’m worth is defined by Christ and not my sphere of influence on social media. Social media is fine. Having tons of followers is fine. But numbers are only helpful when they point us to Christ and his work rather than our own fame and glory.

So help me, God, to see you in the people and work before me however small and invisible my life may sometimes feel.

Soli Dio gloria.

The Moments Unseen

Tiny fingers laced through mine in the dark. A warm little body snuggled against me. Some of the most magical parts of motherhood go unnoticed and undocumented.

When my son comes to me, arms lifted, asking to “hold me” (really, he means for me to hold him)—I don’t pull out my phone and snap pictures of the moment; I simply pick him up. His arms wrap around my neck, head rests on my shoulder, and I tell him I love him, that I’m so thankful he’s my boy. It’s a quiet, unseen moment we share a thousand times amid a world marching on around us. And it’s the part of motherhood that fills my heart with new energy and devotion for the often far more public tantrums and tears that might make me wonder why I decided to be a mom in the first place.

IMG_20141029_114548In a world so photographed, documented, and publicly shared via social media, these quiet moments can at times feel less than simply because they weren’t seen or shared. It’s tempting to try to keep up with the flood of gorgeous images I see each day by trying to snap and document each of my own magical moments.

I want enchanting images of my own to share on Instagram or to punctuate my blog posts. But…

But

Sometimes the act of trying to document a moment destroys the very magic itself. Like a bird perched delicately on a branch in the morning light— you can stand quietly and admire or go closer and chase the moment out of existence.

We have to choose when to pull out our phones and cameras to capture our days and hours— and when to simply sit in the moment and let it be. This is not always an easy choice. Photos carry our memories when our busy minds would forget. But cameras and selfies may equally rob a moment of the very beauty we’re trying to store up and hold onto.

So sometimes when my son climbs into my lap and pulls my arms around him or asks me to lay beside him holding his hand until he falls asleep at night, I leave my phone alone. I soak up the memory in my heart and consciousness rather than my social media and try to remember some of the most magical parts of life and motherhood are the moments most unseen.

It’s Good to Be Home

Life has been a little cray around here lately—and by lately, I mean for months. I spent most of last fall and this winter either not feeling good or trying to catch naps whenever possible thanks to pregnancy. I’m excited to be expecting again so it’s fine and definitely worth it but it also feels like a chunk of my life is missing from those hazy months.

IMG_20170509_103347_440Spring rolled around and we got busy with travel, lots of company coming to visit, and all kinds of miscellaneous crazy. It’s been a fun couple of months packed full of people and places I love—but oh my word, I’m ready for some down time with my boys.

Sunday, my parents packed up and headed home after a two-week visit. We had a great time with them (and everyone else who’s come to visit over the last couple of months). But when Monday rolled around and I sat alone in my quiet house (as quiet and alone as things ever are with a two-year old running around 😉 ), I have to admit, it felt nice to watch the dust settle on my life for a bit. IMG_20170508_204442_403I sat down with my day planner to figure out what’s next and it was really nice to see that nothing major is on the agenda for the next few weeks. I even cancelled a couple things I had planned on doing just to free up the weekends and spend a little extra time enjoying my boys before the next wave of activity hits. IMG_20170509_094322_351These next three (hopefully) quiet weeks feel sacred and I’m doing my best not to add anything unnecessary to our days.

This week its felt nice just to catch up on laundry, go grocery shopping, cook a meal in my kitchen, and sit around the table with my little family. Sometimes I get tired of the routine that comes with being a wife and stay-at-home momma—the endless cycle of laundry, dishes, meals, errands, and diapers. IMG_20170508_204110_747He’s a cute little imp but trust me when I tell you, he’s a holy terror to grocery shop with 😀

But the exhaustion and busyness of the last few months have shown me how valuable and peaceful these little routines can be. When we’re frantically moving from one thing to the next, just trying to keep our heads above water, it’s easier to recognize and crave the value of quiet days at home with the people who matter most.

IMG_20170508_204252_318So for the next few weeks, I’m savoring the quiet and the routine. I’m enjoying the time with my boys and preparing for my baby girl. Life will change tremendously in a couple months when our daughter is born. So until then, I’m holding onto and enjoying life as it is—and not allowing guilt or the American obsession with busyness to distract and pull at me.

Our days are numbered and short. Our people are precious. These are the things I’m keeping in mind and wrapping my heart around today ❤

Bittersweet.

The world is wrapped in night and quiet. I hear only the sound of the fan whirring outside my son’s room and the occasional car driving by. Darren is gone late and I sit tired and uninterested at the computer clicking around. I want to be inspired by something so I scroll through blogs and pins and look at new clothes online; nothing amuses me.

Without any purpose or direction, I begin clicking through old photos on the computer—album after album neatly organized by season and year.

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My son used to be so tiny.

Look at the progress we’ve made on the house.

My hair was longer then.

That was the perfect day.

I’m lost in ocean depths of memory—of days and years, of snuggles and kisses, of adventure—and the occasional twinge of heartache or regret at something now changed or lost from a time and memory before.

I lot can happen in a couple of years. I lot has happened in a couple of years.

DSC_0369When I think back to the year my son was born, I often associate that time with negative memories—tremendous change, loneliness, stress and strain, drowning.

IMG_20140723_090418And yet the photos I scroll through tonight do not tell that story. What I see is joy, baby snuggles, new parents finding their way, excitement, daring endeavors, love stretched and grown, beginnings.

IMG_20141224_170812I see stepping-stones and two people learning to grow beyond themselves and the small world they had always known. And instead of remembering the hard and bad things from those transformative days, tonight I’m reminded of all the good. Of all the love and happiness and hope that filled those times too.

IMG_20150821_175427887How can I forget what it was like, holding my son almost constantly that first year? He napped on my chest every single day and together we saw the world for the very first time—he with eyes brand new to all things and me with eyes opened anew as I watched the world through his lens.

IMG_20141126_150546Yes, I was very lonely. It was a difficult time of life in relationships, in adjusting to motherhood, and to staying home. It was stressful financially with gigantic projects undertaken. There are things I regret.

But I’ve made a mistake in remembering only the hard parts. While the hard stuff changed and refined me, it shouldn’t sum up and take over all the good that came out of that time as well.

IMG_20151011_161353386It was good to be reminded tonight of all the sweetness those years held. Of the baby giggles and kisses. Of the growing as a person and finding my way. Of the marriage that made it and the house now built. To remember all the love and joy I felt along the way even in the hardest of days.

11357354_10152890497526517_1028607213778821759_oThis life is a bittersweet journey. We ebb and flow through heartache and hope and there is rarely a clear divide when the two don’t somehow mingle together in our story. How good it was to be reminded tonight of all these things ❤

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Wild One

Letting your children grow up “wild and free” is sort of the thing right now. I see it everywhere–the arrows and floral crowns and woodland creatures that stir up ideas of adventure and nature.

I loved this concept when I was expecting my son. I decorated his room in woodsy animals and inspirational quotes by Emerson and Thoreau. I dreamt of days spent outside exploring with him at my side; we would be wild things for sure, he and I.

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I can’t help but smile as I tap out these words. I got a wild one all right–no extra outdoor adventures required. He stirs up danger and excitement wherever he goes, however padded and sedate the environment may be. Yesterday, he got the third cast in six weeks put on his arm (almost a year to the day from when he was getting a cast for a broken leg). What a whirlwind of life this little guy has already been at two and a half years old.

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I love him and I love the wildness that makes up who he is. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say too how much I’ve struggled with his strength, fiery temper, and will. He is tough. Tough in all the best ways and tough in ways that will wear you down and make you question why you ever decided to be a mother too.

I reached a breaking point with him not long ago. I had gotten to a place where I couldn’t control him–physically or otherwise. I was afraid to leave the house with him and every time I did, I’d recall and dread very loud, very public temper tantrums which required every ounce of my person to get him under control.

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These last two years have been humbling–even humiliating at times. I have been that mom in the grocery store with the toddler screaming and freaking out. I have felt eyes on me and judgment passed and my goodness, for being someone who doesn’t generally care what other people think of me, that has been hard. It’s hard feeling like a failure every time you leave the house for milk and apple juice but that’s been life for a good bit now.

A couple of months back my husband and I sat on the couch talking about our son. It had been a really hard day with him and I was starting to realize if we didn’t get him under control soon, he was going to be too much for me to physically manage. I’m expecting baby #2 and it isn’t reasonable to be wrangling a kicking, screaming toddler when you’ve got another baby you’re trying to protect too.

I was ready to quit and I told Darren so. I had reached a breaking point where I knew something had to change because we simply couldn’t move forward with things as they were. But how…

We aren’t parents who simply let our child do whatever he wishes; we’re quite firm with him–and that made knowing what to do next all the more frustrating. Where do you go from here when you’re already staying home with your child full-time, working with him, teaching and correcting him around the clock? It wasn’t for lack of intense investment and trying that we ended up where we were.

I can tell you how we got here though–Roman is just like us. I know someone else with a temper and will for the ages–guilty.

I never imagined the answer to all this heartache and frustration would simply (though not easily) be to change myself, rather than my son, first. It turns out that if I don’t lose my temper with him, he generally doesn’t lose his temper with me either. If I’m not grumpy and begrudging, neither is he (most of the time). While I knew I was setting an example for my son, I didn’t realize I was setting the tone for our whole home and experience together. But as I have learned to control myself–my anger, my frustration, my hurried way of getting things done at the expense of others–my son has transformed before my eyes as well. I needed to slow down and win his heart first, even at two years old.

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Though I regret the time we spent battling each other in anger, these days of learning to love and enjoy a relationship with him are certainly all the sweeter. There is redemption in this bumpy story of motherhood. There is hope when you feel hopeless. There is wisdom and direction when you are completely lost and at a loss. I know–I’ve seen the bottom and I’ve seen things turn around too. I have hated being a mother–truly hated and regretted it. But I’m learning to love motherhood now as God changes and grows me into this hard, demanding, and incredible role he’s called me to.

There are still humbling days in the grocery store but I no longer live my life as a mother with dread. I see hope and transformation and I know, by God’s grace, we’ll find our way through as he enables.

I got my wild one, all right. He’s every ounce of adventure and excitement I think I can handle but I wouldn’t change his spirit or energy for a simpler life (or fewer trips to the ER). However, if baby #2 wants to be a nice, quiet little girl–that will be fine too 😉

Winter Bloom

 

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“You don’t have to be blooming to be growing.”

Ruth Chou Simons (@gracelaced.com)

I read these words on instragam recently and have been turning them over in my heart and mind ever since: “You don’t have to be blooming to be growing.”

If there is a single recurring theme in what I write about it’s this: Seasons–both the seasons in nature changing slowly one into the other and the seasons of life doing the same.

img_20161123_100605.jpgI have felt lately that I’m in a rather wintry season of life–one in which there is little color or life on the surface though I know in my heart there is much going on in the roots and soul and parts of life mostly unseen. img_20161017_073043949.jpgI am a momma and a homemaker and my days are spent mostly at home doing work I know matters but presently have little to show for. Someday I will look back and see these days with better clarity and deeper appreciation; I know that.

But today I see the years stretching out before me and I know I have a long time to wait before there are blooms in the work I now do.

dsc_1356Like winter, life and growth are there, quietly beneath the surface in the roots and leaves working away silently until new life and color are revealed in spring.

dsc_1265Someday I will see the fruit of my labor; I believe that. I believe when my grown children stand around me and take off for life on their own I will be proud of how they’ve grown and blossomed and I will not regret the years spent quietly working away on blooms not yet seen.

But these are long days even if the years are short.

dsc_1368dsc_1367Winter sprinkled across our little New England home last week in frost and snow glittering in the morning light. I wrapped Roman in every layer of winter clothes a two-year old can reasonably move in and together we trekked outside to chase the light and magic at our door.

dsc_1354Winter is not my favorite but this frosty magic pulls me out into the cold every time. I couldn’t help but notice how completely nature then reflected what has been growing in my heart–this lesson about life beneath the surface when no blooms are seen.

img_20161115_151323.jpgimg_20161209_111947.jpgThe world looks dead and done but a touch of frost and morning light sets the world on fire and for a fleeting moment we see glimpses of the new life that is to come.

Winter will pass and melt away as any dark season of life does and on the other side we will see what has been happening beneath the surface all along–all the work and waiting will open into long-awaited blooms at last.

dsc_1284dsc_1272dsc_1274But for today, during winter, I have to take heart and remember this is but a season–both in life and nature.

Winter will pass and these long days of motherhood will grow and add up to something bright and blooming too. There is growth and life even if hidden quietly in the heart and soul and not yet seen in the fruit of our hands.

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It’s Okay To Be Young

Before I had my son I received a lot of eye rolls when I tried talking with moms about anything regarding children or parenting. Of course I didn’t know a lot about motherhood, not having been one myself yet. But I wasn’t completely ignorant either.

I grew up in a big family with older and younger siblings. I babysat a variety of children and ages over the years. I worked in nursery and was around kids quite a bit. When I did become a mother I didn’t drown from lack of knowledge and experience–I simply learned as I went (and continue to do so).

I thought the eye rolling would stop after I had my son and knew better what motherhood was like. But now I get eye rolls for only having one child. Again, there’s plenty I don’t know. But the fact that I’ve been entrusted by God with only one child so far doesn’t mean I’m completely clueless to what life might be like with more children. I grew up in a big family, remember?

I probably sound bitter by now but here’s my point: You don’t have to know everything or have to experience everything to know something and to be perfectly capable as you are.

We really love to put people down, don’t we? We might not consciously think so or admit it but it makes us feel so smart and so much better when we can roll our eyes at people younger and less experienced than we are. We love to think we have it so much harder than everyone else and no one outside of our exact experience can possibly understand what life’s like.

But we’re wrong.

I know it’s easy to do, I do it all the time myself, but we’re wrong to judge and belittle people simply because they’re young or less experienced in a certain area than we are. I have to remind myself of this now when women who aren’t moms try to sympathize with me about having a baby or a toddler. I catch myself doing the same thing moms used to do to me–thinking, “What do you know?” or “You seriously have no idea how easy your life is right now.”

But here’s the thing: I have no idea what her life is like right now. It may in fact be easy (though probably not). She may know a great deal about parenting and children from her life experience even if she isn’t a mom. Or maybe she’s totally clueless about motherhood–who cares? If she becomes a mom, she’ll learn as she goes like the rest of us do after we realize we’ve brought a child into the world and have no idea what to do with them.

1 Timothy 4:12 says:

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” ESV

Not only should you not worry about what people think of you for being young and inexperienced, but you, young and inexperienced as you are, should be the ones setting an example in the way you speak and behave.

You are never too young to know and do what’s right.

You’re an adult and you’re old enough to behave like an adult. I married at 22 just two months after I graduated from college–and I don’t regret it. I’ve already had the fun of spending eight years with my husband and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. In my 20s I finished school, married, moved across the country, worked several different jobs, bought two houses, traveled all over, and had a baby. Yes, I was young–but not for one second do I regret jumping into life and beginning to build all the memories and relationships I have today.

Don’t let people discourage you from getting started on the big things that matter to you–you’ll learn as you go and you’re ready to start.

It’s vital we listen to and learn from those ahead of us who know more and know better. But it’s also vital that we aren’t afraid of our own age and inexperience. After all, if you are inexperienced the only way to fix that is by going out and doing the thing you right now know little about. The more you do the more you’ll know.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but…”

Let’s take those words to heart and do great things both while we’re young and as we grow. And let’s respect those who are behind us in age and experience by taking them seriously and helping them along rather than putting them down for being where we all once were.

End rant ❤

Wild Flowers

 

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Perspective is a powerful thing.

I remember riding the train through southern Italy, snaking along the glittering Mediterranean and gliding past yellow and wheat colored stucco houses. I was lost in thought, captivated by how beautiful it all was. I had expected to be disappointed by Italy, as people and places don’t often meet up to our expectations after years of building them up in our minds. But Italy was perfect…perfectly modern mixed with all the old charm and personality the pictures had me imagine.

So I was surprised, offended even, when I heard a fellow American on the train proclaim loudly, “look at all these crappy houses…how do people live this way?”

I’m sorry? I’d sell all my American everything to live in one of those “crappy” houses—just ask Darren, I’ve tried ;] It’s true, the paint was peeling, the stucco was chipped and cracked, and the whole place looked a bit wild with clothes lines strewn between houses. But I felt magic there and I’ve never been able to shake Italy off; the clothes lines and sunshine and window boxes crept right down into my soul and I’ve tried ever since to sprinkle some of that Italian magic into the way I live here at home.

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One traveler saw only brokenness and decay; I saw charm and beauty—that day at least. Our perspectives were different and so our whole experience of that place turned out differently.

I thought about all this the other day when I was looking at our rather ragged yard. With building our house, we’ve had to level and landscape our lawn. All our grass was scrapped off and all winter our house sat in a sea of brown and mud. I bought what New Englanders call “mud boots” to walk from our house to the car because it was so messy and mucky and our feet were always sinking in the dirty sludge. Last winter was the first time I’ve hoped for cold temperatures to freeze the ground and snow to cover all that brown.

So imagine my delight at all the green in our yard this summer—yes, most of that green is weeds, some of it weeds nearly as tall as me—but it’s green. I’m sure our wild, unruly lawn looks like nothing but a disaster to the neighbors around us with nicely manicured lawns, and you know, grass. But to me, our yard is lovely and I’m so happy to look out our windows at green…green weeds, green grass, I care not.

I tend to like the wild flowers best, far more than store-bought roses or houseplants. I like the way wild flowers poke up with the weeds—sometimes they are the weeds. There’s something a little bit daring and rebellious about Queen Ann’s Lace, don’t you think? The way she stands alone in a field or along the road outshining every well-tended garden flower she meets.

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My mom told me once in a card, “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” And ever since reading that, I’ve tried to remember how much my own perspective colors the world around me. Will I be the traveler who sees brokenness or beauty in a place different from my own? Will I be the mom who can see the joy in a sticky toddler or the one who resents the frustration and restraints of parenting? Will I appreciate all the magic fluttering past me each day in the sunshine and wild flowers growing free among the weeds?

It’s up to me, the way I see my life and the world around me. Sometimes I let darkness settle over me and it’s no surprise in those moments that the whole world looks dark and bleak. But when I focus on the light, I see the light.

Perspective is a powerful thing, after all.

You Are Not Alone

The first year after my son was born was one of the loneliest of my life. I went from working full-time and spending lots of time with my husband to being home alone with a newborn almost all day every day.

I knew leaving my job would be a big adjustment and I knew inserting a child into our relationship would be an even greater adjustment still. What I didn’t anticipate was the total wilderness I would enter into after we came home from the hospital and the dust settled on my new life as a mom.

That year was lonely for a lot of reasons, many of which I’ve talked about here before and don’t feel the need to revisit today. What I do want to talk about is finding your way through that loneliness, whether you’re a stay at home mom or anyone else struggling to find meaningful relationships and community.

Reach Out To Those Around You

Something I realized after my son was born was that I had actually lacked community and relationships for a long time but hadn’t let it bother me since I was busy working and had plenty of time with my husband to fill whatever need for community I did feel. I hadn’t been investing in people and relationships before motherhood and just kind of assumed those relationships would fall into place on their own after I joined “the mommy club.”

But that’s not how life works, really. People don’t generally just show up at your door ready to meet your needs because you’ve decided they now serve you. Relationships take time and investment and sacrifice on both sides. I had to recognize I was alone because I had chosen to be alone by investing in only my small bubble of work and marriage. I hadn’t reached out to others and so they did not, or had stopped, reaching out to me as well.

So step one for me was reaching out to the people who had been a part of my life for years but who I had neglected to invest in. It wasn’t easy getting out of the house with a newborn but I tried to spend time when I could with other moms from my church and with my sisters-in-law who were also busy raising families. This was a baby step but it was a start on restoring neglected friendships and community with the people who were already a part of my life.

Tell God What You Need

I remember lying in bed crying, telling God I was lonely and alone and I couldn’t do this by myself. I told God I needed friendship, I needed community, I needed women in my life who I could talk to, laugh with, cry with, and be my crazy stupid self with. I really didn’t know how God would answer that prayer. I knew he could, but I doubted if he would. I had lived in the same place with the same basic group of people for years so I wondered if anything could really change or if this was it—this was the life I had built and was stuck with.

But God did change things, in ways I never imagined, and started bringing the very women I had prayed for right to the small area I had been living in for years. My brother moved up from Louisiana and with him my fun, crazy, hilarious, thoughtful, sister-in-law. We have so much fun together, too much fun, and she has been a drink of cold water in a drought of loneliness.

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Then our pastor retired and the new pastor’s family moved to the area. Our pastor’s wife is my age with a young family and again, like my sister-in-law, she’s fun, crazy, hilarious, and such a sweet challenge and encouragement to me.

Friends who had moved away moved back to the area, people I had never thought to talk to started conversations, people I had struggled to be close to in the past started opening up and moving forward in friendship…on and on it goes.

In February, I sat at a women’s retreat with a group of girls from my church and as I looked down the row at each of them, it hit me, “God, this is exactly what I prayed for.” The answer to that lonely, tearful heart cry for friendship and community was sitting here on either side of me.

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God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want or especially when we want. But still I believe God wants to hear from us and wants to know our hearts and desires. God is a father, after all, and like any good father desires to give to his children and to see them delighted, so God desires to delight us as well. Tell God what you want, what you need, and see what he will do—let him delight and surprise you with the ways he can work and move on your behalf.

Invest In Long Distance Relationships

Because I grew up in Missouri, went to school in South Carolina, and moved to Massachusetts, I have friends and family all over the country.  It sucks that I can’t meet my friend Ashley for a walk through the woods or at a taco truck to eat some of the ridiculously good Mexican food she has available in south Texas —but we’ve learned instead to stay in touch through text {and by texts, I mean mini books written with our thumbs}, sending snail mail, or by reading and listening to the same books. I talk to Ashley more and feel closer to her than some of the people I see almost every day. Why? Because we try—we make an effort to stay in touch and know what’s happening in each other’s lives even though this big, beautiful country keeps us apart.

Not every friend will be one you can meet for coffee but with all the technology available to us, this is no reason why you can’t still maintain thriving long-distance relationships as well.

Get Up and Go

Life can be lonely and there will likely be times of aloneness and a seeming wilderness in the way of meaningful relationships and community. But if I have learned anything over the last year, it’s to do everything in my power to not accept loneliness as just the way life is but rather to seek friendship and community where I can. We were made to need each other and life is so much sweeter with friends to laugh with and at :]

How thankful I am that God heard and responded to my loneliness and filled my life with friendship and community; he can do the same for you—ask and see.

Leave it Behind

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As long as there’s time for baby snuggles…

Sometimes I take my son down the toy aisle and let him check out all the different toys. He finds something bright and noisy and walks around with it for a bit until he notices something else bright and noisy and wants to hold that too. He walks happily for a minute with both hands full; then a third bright, noisy toy catches his eye and he wants that too, not instead, too—so he juggles what he’s holding until he succeeds in carrying all three.

This works fine for a minute but eventually something falls. Still not wanting to let anything go, he chases down the dropped toy and maneuvers everything around again. He tries to play with the first toy but the second one is in his way. When he plays with the second toy, the third one rolls away again. He’s frustrated now—frustrated because he wants more than what he can hold and because he can’t enjoy any of it when he’s trying to enjoy all of it at once.

I try convincing him to leave something behind; choose your favorite and play with just that one thing instead. He won’t have it—he wants all three, all at once. Eventually we leave the toy aisle with nothing but a frustrated toddler who has yet to learn that sometimes you must put one thing down in order to hold and enjoy another.

But he’s not the only one in need of this lesson. So often when I hear myself instructing my son on how life works and how things ought to be done, I realize the lesson is as much for me as it is for him.

You can only hold and enjoy so many things at once—I know, but I want all of them. I want to be in five different places doing ten different things making everyone happy all at once—without being tired or frustrated. I juggle and try to maneuver too many things around in my hands, refusing to acknowledge that sometimes you must simply say no or let something go to truly enjoy all the things you should actually say yes to.

We are given a numbered amount of time—8,760 hours a year divided into months and weeks and days and made up of minutes that keep on ticking, ticking by. We are limited by time, quite simply, because we are not God who stands outside of time. We can’t do everything all the time because we are finite and must operate within the limits of our humanity. So, we must choose.

We must choose what few things we will hold in our hands and how we will use the time and strength we’ve been given. Will I do a few things with all my heart and energy or will I, like a toddler, stretch myself thin over too many choices trying to enjoy and be responsible for far more than I was intended.

Today, I am learning to choose and to leave behind whatever I cannot and should not be trying to hold. If there are things I want that interfere with what’s most important to me—my marriage, motherhood, my relationship with God, making a home, being in control of myself in the way I eat, rest, and care for my body—then those things need to be put down and left behind. Just because something in itself is good and desirable doesn’t mean I have the room in my hands to hold it.

I have only so much time and energy to give; only so much I can hold and carry at once. So sometimes, oftentimes, I must choose—what’s most important—what will I hold and carry with me and what will I leave behind?