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


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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

an evening ritual

The unbearable, energy-draining heat

The non-stop political banter and back-biting

The rapid pace of online debates

The reality of my girl leaving home in less than four weeks

Unexpected family health issues

The combination of them can be exhausting. Despite my fatigue, my brain sometimes insists on performing mental gymnastics at bedtime. In these instances sleep evades me or, if it comes, is fitful. The next day I am on edge, more weary and more sensitive than the day before.

I have finally put the merry-go-round behind me with the comfort of an evening ritual. I wrap the last 30 minutes of each day in beauty and truth.

I set my Pandora station to Yo-Yo Ma Radio, pick up my stack of books and crawl into bed.

First, I read soothing prose. This is not the time for an exciting, keep-me-on-the-edge-of-my-seat read. I deliberately seek a calming, rhythmic pace.  Wendell Berry is a favorite choice.

Afterwards, I spend a few moments with the wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart. Her straight-forward, unwavering faith in God sharpens me and shifts my focus from the things of this world.

Finally, I read a Psalm. Other Scripture may challenge me, give me much to ponder, or encourage me, but the Psalms quiet me. I find my brain filled with praise as I drift off to sleep.

It's still unbelievably hot. Politicians still anger me. Online debates still sadden me. My girl is still leaving and someone I love is still hurting. The circumstances of my life haven't changed, but my ability to face them has. And that has made all the difference.

whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
~Philippians 4:-8

Monday, July 11, 2016


Tears pooled in my eyes as I listened. I didn't know the man at the podium, but I was utterly surprised when he shared his testimony of God's faithfulness. I never would have suspected that he would choose to work with teenagers. He didn't look the part.

But once he started speaking, his passion for older children and teens became evident. His love for the Gospel and sharing it with others was tangible.

His words took me back to the time in my life when loving others and sharing the Gospel was part of me.  When serving was important. Has it really been seven years?

Not your typical North American soup kitchen
Seven years since my eyes were opened...

to the poverty that cripples much of our world

to the depths of pain unknown in my comfortable life

to the despair of those without the hope of the Gospel

to the fact that there are families who feel blessed to live in ramshackle accommodations roughly equivalent to the size of my bedroom

to the smiling faces of children who thought a piece of penny candy was worth a pound of gold

I thought I would be changed forever. That I wouldn't be able to return to the ignorance and apathy that marked my typical American life.

Slowly, I found my way back. I don't even know when. I only know I have been firmly and happily ensconsed here for quite a while, content to read my Bible and commentaries. Quick to listen, slow to action.

And so I find myself  examining, wrestling, praying...and hoping that soon I will find myself doing.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
- James 1:22-25 (ESV)