Category Archives: blogging

the hard work of mothering

I grew up in a home that valued work. My sister and I learned not to waste time, and that working hard was one of the most important things we could do. Following the examples of my hard-working parents, I believed I could achieve anything—as long as I worked hard enough.

When my son was born, I was not ready to return to my previous job after just three months off. So I took a new job: motherhood.

I had worked hard building my career as a professional musician and arts administrator. Yet I believed spending time with my son during his most formative years was important—even if it meant leaving a job I loved and had worked hard to achieve. I now wanted to work hard to train up my child in the way he should go.

However, I often found myself longing for a different life. I grew jealous of friends and colleagues as they achieved professional success, some even having children of their own along the way. The past three-and-a-half years have been a struggle to find my place—as a mom, as a freelance writer and musician, as a Christian, as a driven and hard-working woman.

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I’m delighted to be writing again over at the fabulous website Off the Page this month. Won’t you join me there to read the rest?

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searching for strength in faith

Friends! I was honored to write recently for a wonderful website called Off the Page. The piece was published last week and I hope you’ll check it out.

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My childhood nickname was “Long Shot” because I always went for—and then achieved—the “long shots” in life. I grew up believing if I wanted something badly enough, I could achieve it. That if I was determined enough, worked hard enough, I could accomplish it. I soon realized accomplishments brought praise and accolades, and I created a life around my hard work, my accomplishments, the resulting praise.

I struggle, however, with my own weakness. I have always experienced the brokenness of our world so strongly, always experienced volatile emotions and reactions that often seem disproportionate. In an effort to avoid the devastation I experienced when let down, I began to worship self-reliance. My works—and hard work—bolstered me and buoyed me while masking my inner frailty.

By college I felt both unstoppable and deeply vulnerable. Utterly confident and acutely insecure. I worked hard. I relied on me.

Won’t you hop on over to read the rest at Off the Page?

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deep calls to deep

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I’m linking up with the amazing Addie Zierman’s synchroblog on the dark places in life for this post. SHE JUST RELEASED HER SECOND BOOK!! This week!! Buy it now: Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark.

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The changeling beast of depression has always been a part of my life. It has reared its ugly head in a myriad of ways – as searing anger, endless tears, chilled-to-the-bone numbness. As anorexia and suicidal thoughts. As cutting and burning and borderline alcoholism. I am all of these things.

But I am also a mom and a wife. A Christian. A musician, a writer, an arts administrator, a runner, an INFJ. I love the ocean and the sky, beautiful words and images, the way a Hopper painting is so lonely and so familiar, the way Bach makes me believe in God. I am all these things.

I am also a fighter. I fight the demons, the darkness, the negativity. Some days I win. Some days, I lose. One Thursday I was losing.  Continue reading

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a mother’s love (v 2.0)

I discovered something this week. While editing past blog posts for my writing portfolio, I learned something about God’s love. I discovered that, in a strange and beautiful way, examining my love for my daughter has shown me why I can trust God. [A different version of this post first appeared in 2015.]

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When I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, I cried. Out of fear. Out of disbelief. I was still nursing my firstborn, and he was still a baby. I 20140707_Hollingsworth-178did not feel ready for a second.

But along she came, fast and furious – if also two weeks late. I nursed and burped her, changed and rocked her, bathed and swaddled her. Over and over. I gently washed her sensitive skin and I protected her from the sun and her big-but-still-little brother. In those first weeks and months, I loved her in the very best way that I could – by doing.

Because I felt nothing.  Continue reading

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What I’m Into: February (2016)

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It’s common for bloggers to share various “what I’m into this month” types of posts, recounting books they’ve read, movies they’ve watched, artists they’ve listened to. Often with links and witty commentary.

To be honest, I often delete or only skim these posts. I have no idea how some of these writers have the time to read not just one – but three or four or more books every month. I have no idea how they manage to watch so much television and so many movies (mostly I’m in awe of their ability to stay awake past the first 25 minutes, which I can’t seem to do). And when I’m reading blogs, I mostly want to read their stories, hear their voices.

But – the things these writers love and are inspired by and challenged by also make up their voices and their stories.

So I thought I’d try. Maybe I’ll do this every month. Maybe it will fall by the wayside. But there are so many little things to love and laugh and think about – good blog posts, challenging New Yorker articles, a recently-discovered song, a great coffee maker. And what can I say? Nearly every book I have managed to read is one that I read about on someone’s blog post. So, here goes. I’d love to hear what you are loving, too. Won’t you leave a comment with a link to something you’ve enjoyed this past month?  Continue reading

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The F’s

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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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on the road

Well, we’re a traveling family this summer, and our itinerant lifestyle + lack of babysitters has left little time for writing. But despite cooking on a hot plate for a family of four; saving every leftover container, piece of tin foil, and produce bag for re-use; and traveling with an almost unimaginable amount of stuff (two pack-and-plays, high chair, toddler potty, stroller, scooter, suitcase of toys, bag of books, huge duffel of pots and pans and plates and bibs and cutting boards, violin, viola, bassoon, mandolin, sheets, fans, towels, etc) –

life has actually been surprisingly, refreshingly simple.

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[That’s the trunk of our car, folks. And I AM sorry that I haven’t had any time at all to write. I’ve saved up so many ideas and “written” so many posts while running…but there has not been a minute to actually write. I’m running a marathon in November and taking an audition in September, and so literally every minute that the kids are asleep – before their days begin, during their mid-day naps, and after their days end – has essentially been devoted to viola. Or running. Or taking care of other necessary things since no babysitters on the road has meant there’s truly NO time.]

I had expected that spending a total of eight weeks outside of the city and away from our “normal” routine (in quotes since our schedule is rarely the same for more than a week – let alone an entire month) would be difficult, at best. I had worried about activities and isolation and logistics and dozens of other things. But, surprisingly, it has been wonderful.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Continue reading

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a year of grace

My sweet baby girl —

It’s been a hard year, hasn’t it?

You experienced so much change and you had to learn so much. In fact, you learned more in this first year of your life than perhaps you will in any other single year moving forward (!). And the change you experienced – it was unimaginable, too. You went from having every single need met so perfectly that you had never even experienced need – to a world in which you experienced every basic need and more – hunger, exhaustion, frustration, anger, fear, sadness – sometimes all in one day or even one hour. I’m so sorry, sweet baby girl of mine, that it’s been so hard.

And yet – you amaze me. Despite all these hard things, you grew and thrived. You learned to roll over, sit, crawl, stand, start to walk. You learned to drink and eat (and boy do you love food!), to smile and laugh and start to talk. I am so proud of you, already, for your persistence, for your feisty spirit, for all the many things you have learned and accomplished in this short year. Today, you are ONE.

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My sweet baby girl, it’s been a hard year for your Mama, too.  Continue reading

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what’s in a year?

first-birthday-cakeHappy First Birthday to grace in the darkness! A year ago today, you made your way into cyberspace after many months of gestation (months which I spent researching and planning and writing and designing) and, like any birth, that day was filled with many hopes and dreams, much excitement, and certainly some nerves. It’s hard to believe it’s been this long already — and that some of you are still reading my words after 365 days.

Mostly, it’s hard to believe because it’s so easy to wish that I’d done more. Written more posts, taken more beautiful photos, facilitated more guest authors. Also, I’d hoped for more success. I wish I had acquired more followers, seen more readership growth, been offered more book deals (ha!). I’d hoped for more.

However, despite not being more, it’s been a good, full year. A hard year, certainly, but what year isn’t? As I was preparing to write this post, and thinking about the past year, I revisited many posts from the last twelve months (of course). I revisited the dark places and the questions, the favorite quotes, the letters to my son and daughter, the post about learning to love our family of four and the posts exploring Ed Welch’s book about faith and depression that I found so useful. I remembered my struggles with finding community in New York and applauded my efforts at starting to run again. And you know what? It’s not more, and it’s not the best, but it is good.  Continue reading

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