Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lenten Plans and Other Meaningful Things

My Mom and sister carried it up the stairs and set it next to my bed. A table turned desk where my nightstand used to be. The room I grew up in is more than a little bit crammed. A bed and now a desk. A dresser for me, one for the baby. The glider by the window that my sister sent me last spring, the baby's crib that all of my siblings chipped in and bought for me. Mom asked if it's too overwhelming and, like many things in my life right now, yeah, it kind of is. But it's also beautiful, warm, and everything that I need.

There's something special about coming home to recharge and reinvent yourself. I am beyond grateful for the sacrifices made in the name of love that made this possible. In my little cocoon, something beautiful is growing, changing, becoming. It is a massive gift and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't realize it.

So, yes, crammed, but yes, blessed. Yes, overwhelmed, but yes - overwhelmed with good things. School is amazing and difficult and rewarding at this stage of life. That goes for parenting as well. I am exhausted and hanging by a thread but determined to see all of this through to the finish. I'm trying not to get bogged down, trying to find little spaces to do the things that are meaningful, things that feed me so that I can continue to pour into these kids, this work.

Lent is right around the corner and I have been dreaming up a plan that will bring back a part of my spiritual life I have been missing so much. The spiritual practice of encouragement. So much of writing this blog was about the encouragement of others and that continues to be something I am so passionate about and feel called to. For Lent, I am focusing on Hebrews 10:24:

"let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds...encouraging one another"

Grateful every day for the gift of the days God has given me, the people he has placed in my life and the work he has set before me. 

What are your plans for Lent?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Snow Days

Everyone in Michigan is talking about snow days, cold days, ice days and all the other type of days that keep getting school cancelled. I think we are up to 8 or 9 now, days where the phone rings at 5 am and you hope the kids remember how to sleep in.

I've been reveling in them more than I thought I would. Slow mornings with all of my kids at home haven't been a reality in months. The absence of afternoons with epic amounts of driving that see me home past dark, just in time to put little ones to bed, is like a gift of the one thing I can't make up: time.

I've been so all in with this new life, so dedicated and determined to make it work, that I've quickly left behind things that are still so very much a part of who I am, part of what and how I love. A friend told me the other day - your life has changed so much. And I felt it then, a tug at my heart for all the things that cannot be.

The blessing of a snow day is rediscovering with joy the things buried under the drift of my current reality, not gone, not destroyed, just biding their time. I knit while the baby snoozes in my arms. I teach my tween to bake biscuits. I invite the neighbor kids over who run through the house with my kids and fill it to the brim with laughter. It's familiar and bright, like recognizing a familiar face in a crowd where I least expected it. A reminder that it is always the good things survive in refining.

I watch my oldest in a rare moment, lazily flopped across the foot of my bed, making the baby laugh. And I think of the gift of him, of her, of this day together. Outside the salt trucks scrape along our street and I know that tomorrow we'll be back on track, but right now? Right now the warm center of us is all I see.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A New Day

I hear her before she cries, with that magical sixth sense mothers of babies alone seem to possess. I open my eyes to the soft blanket of grey morning light hanging like a veil over her cradle, kissing the top of her downy head. She squirms and I lean over, scooping her into my arms  and pulling her beside me in bed in one fluid motion, melting around her chubby frame and inhaling her sweet baby scent. My day begins with gratitude at 4 am. She is all gift.

It's hard to believe it has been four months. Four months since I brought her home to my childhood bedroom. 5 months since I packed a few possessions and turned up on my parent's doorstep with 7 children and one large swollen belly signalling the 8th on her way. There is so much to say. There is nothing to say.

In the last few months I've picked up and processed thousands of pieces. Of hearts and memories. Of hopes and fears. False accusations and hidden truths. I've held the pain of my kids and I've been inspired by their resilience, their forgiveness, their loyalty.

Mostly, I've been required to go back to the very foundations of my faith about God, about how He sees me and about who I am. I've hurled myself headlong into His arms and have taken every worry and hope and fear and plan I have and handed them over. Tearing through the facade I clothed myself with for years to expose the painful truth about what really happened and why.

It's something I may never fully share. It is mine and mine alone.

One thing I will say is  - nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Nothing is ever as smooth as it appears. Nothing on this earth, in the human heart, can ever be easy. God is the only one who sees and knows all.

For a long time I felt unworthy to continue writing. That without something positive to say, a way to uplift those who faithfully read the words I wrote here, that I was no longer able to serve God in this capacity. I know now that is untrue.

I know I can trust God to use all of this for good. I've seen it already. He is all mercy and grace. Always. Every moment of every day, for every person. Those fighting back tears in the pew with their seemingly perfect family, and those collapsing under the weight of a life they weren't meant to bear.

If I can be that for someone, that signpost that says, oh, love! I've been to rock bottom and there is hope yet!

If I can offer my broken heart, family, dreams - up, for you? Well, that's redemption right there. See, He's got this. All of us. Me, you, my bonus baby waking me up brimming with smiles and hope. We belong to each other just as we are. And He is faithful to use our meager human lives to spread His goodness far and wide.

A new day dawns and I start the only way.

Giving thanks.

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