The holiday season this year has not been merry for me. This past week has been particularly trying, exposing for all the world to see my poor parenting under stress. Yesterday I dropped off my two youngest boys with a friend while I rushed to keep an appointment. Both boys were sockless in late December, the baby still in pjs, his face orange and messy because he ate mac and cheese—yes, fake fluorescent-orange powder, boxed mac and cheese—for breakfast. This morning’s breakfast was Christmas cookies . I reason that they can’t be any more sugary than donuts or Pop Tarts or Lucky Charms. Right? Continue reading
It’s a late-summer Sunday evening. I’m training for the Baltimore half-marathon, my first-ever running race. Today’s goal is eight miles, the farthest run yet. I’m chugging up a long, gradual hill on the last leg of the run at a pace barely above a walk. I can barely see my two training partners ahead, both veteran runners who, without meaning to, naturally and steadily increased the space between us. Desperately thirsty and hungry, all I can think about is how much I’m craving watermelon. My legs hurt, my back hurts, my right hip hurts. Three of my toes, smashed against the front of my too-small running shoes, throb so agonizingly I almost stop. Almost. Continue reading
Photo by Jennifer Balaska via Wikimedia Commons
My dear friend Kristen, mother of three boys ages four and younger, recently posted the list below on Facebook. I loved it so much, and she graciously gave me permission to reproduce it here. Here’s why I love it. First of all, it made me laugh. I identified with every single one of her penances. I love that there can be as many different parenting philosophies as there are parents in the world, but there are also so many things that all mothers share and understand. I also love this list because it is so encouraging. It’s so easy at the end of a long day at home with kids to look around at your toy-cluttered house, laundry piles, and spaghetti-crusted dishes and wonder what in the world you have to show for your day. This list is a reminder of all we mamas lay down for the sake of our babies and families. Continue reading
Photo by Chance Agrella via Freerangestock.com
There’s a comedy skit where a would-be writer moves in to an apartment next to noisy neighbors. When they get too loud, he calls the cops, protesting weakly, “I’m trying to write in here! I’m a writer!”
It’s an inside joke between me and my brother – we say it to each other when I’m talking about writing-related business. There’s always been a little part of me, though, that believes I am that stereotype – the whiny dilettante that always tells everyone how I do some writing work, or want to, hope to, would really like to be a writer. Continue reading
Photo by runrunrun via stock.xchng
“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35
I crave the peace of early mornings. The silence is almost physical – a soft and welcome assault on my ears. I was never a morning person, but with three children, mornings have become my refuge. Sometimes I am productive, busily putting things in order, finishing leftover chores and making breakfast before anyone is awake to distract me. Sometimes I am contemplative, praying and listening for God in the quiet. Sometimes I am blessedly unproductive, resting in the stillness before the day requires anything of me. Continue reading
I had the privilege to be a guest blogger for a good friend: author, pastor and father, Adam Feldman. You can find my post about how motherhood has impacted my faith here, and while you’re at it, look around and enjoy his writing!
I met Adam and his wife Kim several years ago, when their church was meeting in the living room of someone’s house, none of us had kids yet, and we had a lot more free time to spend at coffee shops, reading and writing and talking. It’s amazing to see where we are now – Metanoia has grown by leaps and bounds, we’ve all had a bunch of kids, jobs and life changes, we see each other much less, but our hearts are still close.
I love when that happens.
Sometimes you have to admit when you’re beat.
31 day blogging challenge? I’m beat. I’ve always been someone with plenty of intention. All kinds of intention. I just have a hard time on the follow-through. I was determined to write 31 posts on one topic, even if they weren’t published consecutively, but I realized that at least in this instance, my blind will to finish my commitment was keeping me from moving forward – I got stuck on 31 days, and let all kinds of other writing ideas and inspirations disappear into the creative ether.
There is something to be said for keeping a commitment for commitment’s sake. In fact, it’s something I want to practice much more. But not now, not today. Today I’m moving on.
Today I’m thinking about new things. About a new year, a new day, a new life. A new baby growing in my belly. An unexpected gift. Though logically I should be anxious, this new little one was so unplanned that I can’t do anything but accept. I smile to myself to think about this little secret seed I carry, safe and warm and hidden, in one of the coldest, dreariest months of the year.
I’m beat. I’m tired. But I’m hopeful and expectant. Things are changing as they always do. I’m letting them change, letting them pull me, lift me, take me somewhere new.
Every year at the beginning of Advent, I begin to plan two things – the handmade gifts I will make for Christmas, and the huge deals I will take advantage of on Cyber Monday. It seems that second plan never materializes.
This year, I was determined to knock out a big chunk of my Christmas shopping on Cyber Monday. We’re a little tight on money these days (who isn’t?) and I was sure I could get a bunch of good deals for a lot of the people on our list. I camped out on the computer all day. I thought and rethought. I compared prices. I added and deleted items from my shopping cart for hours.
And I didn’t end up buying a single thing.
Every year, the desire of my heart is to give those I love intentional gifts, thoughtful and meaningful and full of my love for them. I abhor the buy, buy, buy mentality that I usually still end up falling into come late December, when my extravagant handmade intentions have not been realized. And buy, buy, buy is exactly what you are supposed to do on Cyber Monday. If you don’t buy this TODAY, all the websites scream, you will miss out on this amazing deal! Do it now! Don’t wait, don’t think, just buy!
Now, is it possible to buy affordable, thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list on Cyber Monday? Yes. Was this my attitude yesterday? No. Will I hand-craft the perfect gift for everyone on my list this year? Yeah, right! I never do. But at least I can try. And I can refuse to let the people I love most turn into a check on my to-do list. Christmas gift-giving seems to have turned into a burden these days, and I hate that. What is burdensome about giving those closest to you in the world something that will bring them joy? I’m challenging myself to give gifts of love, whether they are from Target, or off of my knitting needles. How about you?
“When you don’t know what to do, do the dishes.”
When I was part of a group studying contemplative prayer through Thomas Merton’s writings, our facilitator used to say this. He meant that when we are confronted with the big mysteries – God, peace, eternity, fulfillment, silence, what does it all mean? – sometimes the best response is to do the menial, daily task that happens to be right in front of you.
Pretty good advice.
There are so many things I should be doing at any given moment that it’s easy to get lost in the midst of all of them and end up doing nothing. Or end up doing a lot of things, but not doing them very well. When all of the tasks – menial and monumental – are swirling around me, calling for my attention, sometimes the best place to start is the dishes. There is comfort in picking up each one, rinsing it, putting it in its proper slot in the dishwasher, and in its proper place in the cabinet. I may not know where I’ll be in five years, but the dishes? Those I can do.
If only the rest of life were that simple – pick up a dream, a goal, a career, put it in the right spot, and everything falls into place. Voila! Your messy life is clean, your sink empty and gleaming.
So it’s not that simple. But at least it’s a start. Now please excuse me. I have to go do the dishes.
I’ve been away for a long time.
But the lethargic and stifling season I’ve been in is slowly disappearing into cooler, clearer days.
I’m energized by the change. If spring is the world newly born—pale, sweet and unfurling—then fall is the world in its prime—bright, outrageous and sharp.
I’m beginning to dream again…
that I can write;
that I can make some work out of being creative;
that joy always returns;
that I will re-find and remember who I am.