Monthly Archives: January 2016

the best and worst weekend

Last weekend I felt great, really great. Self-assured. Focused and funny – able to concentrate and crack jokes with equal ease. Confident. I had my shit together. And it felt good.

I was in Memphis, playing concerts with an orchestra that I’ve been playing with since 2007. The people, place, and routine of rehearsals and performances are like home to me.

irisBut this time was different from my last several trips South. This time was the first time in three years that I was there alone, without any kids.

I really enjoyed the conversations I had. I felt present, able to focus on what people said. Conversations that were casual-but-not-superficial flowed naturally. I didn’t think I knew how to do that anymore.

I enjoyed the playing. I had prepared well, but, moreover, I was able to play well in the moment. Rehearsals and performances were not a complicated array of insecurity and self-assurance and nostalgia – a frequent feeling in recent years – but instead a wonderful combination of ease and enjoyment.  Continue reading

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of dreams and disappointments

I recently read a book that I mostly love, a LOT, but also hate just a little bit. Well, it’s not so much that I hate it – it’s that I’m angry at it.

I love the book because it is so much like life – filled with the beauty and loss and childishness and inspiration and curiosity and awe that make up what we know of this world. I also hate the book because it is so much like life, with its unpredictability and lack of happily-ever-after promises, with its multi-dimensional characters who cannot be completely understood and the resulting loneliness and frustration.

I thought I knew how the book would end. It didn’t end that way, and I was sad and disappointed and, at first, so angry because I just didn’t want to accept the discrepancy between what I had really wanted to happen and what really did. Between my dreams for the book and its reality.

That’s happened to all of us, right? In our real, nonfiction lives? We’ve been disappointed by – and perhaps angry at – the discrepancy between our dreams and our reality?  Continue reading

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diamond love

All right you guys, I’m going to try not to get too metaphorical or too sentimental in this post. (It might be difficult.) Thursday morning, I was sitting alone in a mostly empty plane, next to a window. And the sunlight was just streaming in. My engagement ring caught the light and scattered it everywhere in shards of colored beauty.

SAMSUNG

I had just left the biggest loves of my life behind in Manhattan and was flying – alone – to Memphis for a short week of rehearsals and concerts. But I wasn’t leaving all my loves behind in just that single place – some of my loves are in Texas and Florida, in Colorado and North Carolina. Some are in Brooklyn and Astoria. Some are in the woods and some are here no more. Some are words in books, some are the notes of a score. Some are the crashing waves and some are the breathtaking sunsets.

I have many loves.

And although I was leaving some behind – I was also heading straight for some others.  Continue reading

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refuge

 

They had a dog. A big, beautiful, wonderfully calm, long-haired golden retriever. And sitting on the floor with him — stroking his silky hair and listening to his contented breathing — was possibly the most peaceful thing about my life in 2003-2005.

Sometimes, I even got to walk him.

They also had what felt like a home. They had two kids – teenagers – and their dog and their life and their friends and their work. She talked to her mom on the phone every couple of days (I remember her answering it often when I was there – an old, hanging-on-the-wall phone) and they went for long morning walks along the river. They got the newspaper. They always had a pot of coffee on. I guess I felt like that’s what it was to be an adult. To have a home, and a routine, and a family, and a rich life woven together.

Their home was like a refuge to me – a haven of security and stability during wandering college and post-college years, when I was living with countless roommates, with haphazard furniture and random posters tacked onto the walls, eating Trader Joe’s frozen burritos for dinner. When I visited their home, I wanted to spend hours there (and often did) – learning from them and absorbing their life. I wanted to be transformed by their (seemingly) calm, collected, stable selves.  Continue reading

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entering in

 

Each Monday morning, I meet with a group of fellow moms for a couple of hours to catch up, commiserate, pray together, share advice, and study some aspect of the Bible. This Moms Group has often served as a necessary lifeline over the past three years. It has also served as a very reliable source of coffee.

I could ramble on about all the ways this group has been so important to me – friendships formed, meals delivered, childcare offered, lots of hard-earned tips and ideas shared. And maybe I will, someday, since it has certainly – and perhaps unexpectedly – become one of my treasures. But today I want to write about something I learned from a book that we worked through together during the Fall.

One of the last chapters of this book (called Gospel Love) develops an idea that I’ve come to call entering in. We have to enter into the world that someone who is “hard to love” inhabits. This idea has changed and challenged much of the way that I love.  Continue reading

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you will fail

 

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I had a couple of really hard days with my three-year-old son Jacob last week. Like, really hard. Friends had warned me that the “terrible two’s” were mostly a myth and it was really three that was horrendous.

They were right.

I was entirely at the end of my rope by 1:30pm, when I put Jacob down for his nap and called one of my best friends, a seasoned mother of four. And the youngest two of her four are currently three.

“Oh Leah!” she said when she answered (I had already texted her the summary of our difficulties). And then she said two things that I haven’t stopped thinking about since.

“Know that you are just going to screw up,” she said. “No one is expecting you to be perfect, and no one is expecting you to parent perfectly.”  Continue reading

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The F’s

sunrise

So this will be a short post (see! It can be done), but in light of JANUARY FIRST, I’ve been thinking about the new year and what’s ahead and the idea of making “New Year’s Resolutions.”

I loved two recent but fairly dissimilar posts I read on this topic (and you should read them, too!). Addie Zierman writes wonderfully and beautifully about how and why she makes resolutions each year – how they represent “a praise, a prayer, a confession, a cry of hope” – in her post In Defense of New Year’s Resolutions. Meanwhile, Glennon Doyle Melton preaches “I don’t want to be a BETTER ME in 2016. Screw that. I don’t want to chase after some imaginary more fabulous version of myself. I AM what the people I love need.” in her post Best New Year’s Ever.

Growing up, I nearly always made New Year’s resolutions. Depending on my age, they generally focused around being nicer to my sister, how many A’s I’d make in school, saying thank-you more often to my parents, eating better, exercising better, praying more, memorizing Scripture, cooking more – and on and on. They generally lasted – like most resolutions, as far as I can tell – sometime between twenty-four hours and twenty-four days. So it goes.

Then I got married, and one day another married couple (who had been married nearly five whole years by that point) told us about The F’s.  Continue reading

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new year, new purpose

jars of clay

So it’s a new year! And, with the New Year, a new post, and also a new purpose for this space. I recently read that famous passage Christians like to quote about how “we have this treasure in jars of clay.”[1] We carry around a treasure – and this treasure is found in a jar made of clay. It’s not necessarily a beautiful, glazed, perfected jar, but a clay jar. It’s probably a simple jar. An unimpressive jar. Possibly even a broken jar. But it’s not the jar that is important – isn’t that the idea? It’s the treasure inside.

This got me thinking: what is my treasureContinue reading

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