Thursday, November 10, 2016

a tale of two paths

Each time I leave my neighborhood - my comfort zone - I am faced with a choice. I cannot go straight ahead. I must choose, left or right.

To the right, and I will be met with rocks, potholes and dust. Yet it is quicker, and I often turn that way when I am in a hurry.

To the left, and I will find sheep grazing and a church that rose from the ashes. The lightning strike is emblazoned on my memory, much like the flames that burst forth and the black smoke that seemed to hover for days. In one brief moment I saw God aim His power to consume a temple constructed by man. He had something greater for His people.

I can reach my destination by either path.

The bumpy road or the smooth one.

The parched earth or the green pasture.

The choice is mine. I wrestle it more often than I should. Most days I instinctively turn to the easy route, but some days I involutarily choose the other. I set my jaw to absorb the jarring, squint against the dust, and pray I'm not causing any permanent damage to my car. Sometimes the road isn't as bad as I thought, but not as often as I'd like.

Inevitably, when I've reached the other side I promise myself never to travel that way again. And I keep my word.

Until the next time.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
-Psalm 25:4-5

Monday, November 7, 2016

joy

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
~Psalm 4:7


I close my day and the second full month since leaving my girl in a strange room. Her eyes danced in a mix of nerves and excitment. Mine were steely blue, unaware that tears would come a few days later.

They still come at the strangest times.

It's been two months in this new normal. It's been more difficult than I imagined, in ways different than I expected. I'm realizing how much of my identity - even, maybe especially, in our home - has been tied to being a mother. The daily demands of motherhood no longer clamor for my attention, a truth that saddens more than it relieves.

Treading this foreign territory frequently requires more balance than I've been able to muster, though I am learning. Learning to find joy, because there is much joy to be found.

Phone calls and text messages from my girl.

Library books that whisk me away to England, France, and New York.

Ella Fitzgerald's voice filling the air as I prepare dinner.

Board games and laughter.

Autumn's long-awaited arrival.

All shall be well. All shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well. - Julian of Norwich

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

august waning

A school bus passed by my house Friday afternoon. A sure sign that Autumn is on its way. Despite my dreams of cooler weather and pumpkin muffins, summer still burns down hot. It refuses to go without a fight.

As I wait for the seasons to wrestle it out, I am doing some wrestling of my own. Finding this phase of my life a little uncomfortable. Stepping through each day gingerly, learning how to settle in. It will take time.

In the meanwhile I'm adjusting to fewer loads of laundry and dishes, more time for reading and thinking. I'm also cleaning out some clutter, enjoying my library's digital audiobook service, loading up our Netflix and Amazon Prime queues, and looking for a good Bible study.

Adjusting to a household of two will take time. And grace. And I'm thankful for each day that the Lord gives me both.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

bittersweet

Nearly 18 years ago we brought our girl home from the hospital. She disrupted our comfortable life in every way possible. When she leaves for college next week, she'll do so again.

It's written all over her face: she's ready!
I have waxed poetic about how quickly the time has passed. It's true these are the days of bittersweet. Watching my girl chomping at the bit, so excited about what this next part of her life will hold is incredibly sweet. Understanding that this part of parenting is over and how far I missed the mark is bitter indeed.

Syler Thomas writes, Raising children must be more about growing them as disciples than about our experience as their parents. His words cause me to examine the past 18 years. I cannot keep count of the moments that raising my daughter was about me - my expectations, my plans, my image, my happiness. How often did I earnestly seek God's expectations, God's plans, God's image, God's happiness? I squandered many opportunities. Knowing that pierces my heart.

This is the sadness that tugs at me, more than the myriad of supplies and furnishings that have slowly overtaken the guest room. I read posts from mothers of college-bound children detailing their heartache, and I feel guilty. Our child-worshiping culture demands that we shed an ocean of tears to prove our loss, but as of yet I have been unable to comply. The blaze of anticipation in my girl's eyes dries almost every tear that threatens to spill forth from my own. I will miss her, it's true. Perhaps I haven't begun to fathom how much.

Yet I know that although this part of my parenting is done, I am still a mother. The ears that listened acutely for hunger cries in the middle of the night still listen. The eyes that carefully watched as she explored her surroundings still watch. The arms that snuggled her close stand ready to do the same. I find that I'm excited for this unknown future. I will have more opportunities to disciple my girl, albeit in a different way than before. It will be new and unfamiliar, and we will certainly wrestle through it. But we have made it through nights of colic, years of shift work, middle-school drama, and high school disappointments; we know how to survive.

After more than five years of marriage, my husband and I adjusted to having a third person in our home. Now, we will adjust to her absence. It may be more difficult, but God will give more grace.