Category Archives: contentment

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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Filed under blogging, career, children, contentment, faith, family, god & faith, motherhood

amazing grace

My baby Hannah Grace is two years old. And the second verse of Amazing Grace just keeps playing on repeat in my head.

T’was grace that taught

My heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

Hannah Grace, each phrase is true. Your presence in my life has taught my heart to fear. The moment I first learned you were on your way, I was terrified. I didn’t think I could handle having another baby so soon after your brother. Your earliest existence made obvious to me that my control over my life was just smoke and mirrors. I had a perfect plan, and this wasn’t it. I was not in control, and I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, wouldn’t be able to love you well, wouldn’t be able to love your brother well, wouldn’t be able to take care of our home and all my responsibilities. I was scared to be a mom of “two under two.”

But two years ago, you began to prove me wrong. After nearly 42 weeks of pregnancy, you made me a mom of two under two. You showed me that I could do this thing that I had feared – if I trusted God and relied on Him for everything that I lacked. This life that He’s given me with you hasn’t been easy, but each day, He relieves my fears by another degree. And now, I understand that this began before I even met you.  Continue reading

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Filed under children, contentment, faith, family, God, god & faith, love, motherhood

When Work Feels Fruitless

It’s easy to think of “work” in the ways our society does – as something only related to money, status, stability. But God-given work is bigger.

Sorry for the radio silence around here. Head over to Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work blog for a short post I wrote recently on the frustrations of God-given work. . .

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My primary work is as a mother. I have several advanced degrees and I spend hours sitting on the floor, wiping runny noses, or standing in the kitchen, washing dishes. Many days, it seems like everything that I do backfires. It is easy to feel like what I’m doing is a waste of my time and education. I know that raising kids is about delayed gratification – after all, “your works will praise you at the gates” – but I could use a little more affirmation along the way. The work of being a full-time mom is hard, grueling work.

It’s not unusual for work to feel this way.

Read the rest here!

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Filed under career, children, contentment, God, god & faith, idolatry, motherhood, parenting, work

splinters

My 20-month old daughter got her first splinter last week. It was one of those early spring days in New York, when everyone is both afraid to be overly hopeful and also completely ecstatic. We spent the afternoon at the playground, and I didn’t even notice the splinter until the following day. The shard of wood was long and deeply embedded. The skin around it was red and probably infected. Removing the splinter was awful, and I think everyone in the family cried.

Splinters don’t hurt much going in – they seem to slip under the skin so effortlessly. But removing the wood requires digging deeper into the surrounding area. Sometimes you have to cut open more skin in order to fold it back and grasp the splinter firmly enough to pull it out. In my childhood memories, the removal of a splinter was far more painful than acquiring it in the first place. Sometimes I even purposefully hid them from my parents to avoid it – but in the end, removal was always necessary.

My daughter suffered as my husband dug gently into her hand to remove the wood. This pain was necessary for healing. Without it, the infection would have worsened.

I have had many splinters in my life. Some have been identified quickly and removed without many tears. Others have embedded themselves deeply, and the discovery and then removal process has been painful, filled with struggle and suffering. My deepest, most infected splinters are not splinters of wood beneath my skin, Continue reading

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Filed under body image, career, contentment, God, god & faith, identity, idolatry, music, viola, work

go slow, respect others

 

This is a sign that I’ve seen probably hundreds of times along the many shared walkways and bike paths in New York City. Recently, I noticed it in a new way.

Go Slow, Respect Others.IMG_7954

It was like God speaking right into my life. That morning, I’d been frustrated with my son. He was supposed to be getting dressed for school and instead of putting on his pants, he stripped off all of his clothes and proceeded to run around the room shouting, “Naked dance! Naked dance!” (He’s three-and-a-half, after all.) Then he kept getting distracted by one thing or another and it felt like this simple task of getting dressed was taking for-ever. And I, of course, wanted to get out the door.

Then there’s my daughter. She’s at that “do-it-myself” stage. This includes walking instead of riding in the stroller. We live on a steep hill. She wants to walk up the hill. On a recent morning, the whole family left at the same time. I walked more quickly up the hill with my son, and at the top we turned around to check on the progress of Sister. She was only a few yards behind, and the grin on her face was bright enough to see for a mile. I’m almost there! She beamed. I’m a big girl now, like Brother!

This sign along the river isn’t just for bikers. This sign is for me. Continue reading

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Filed under children, contentment, God, god & faith, Uncategorized

lessons from a lighthouse

little red lighthouse

My son has this book that he loves called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. In the book, the little red lighthouse is proud of its job sending out beacons of light to protect the boats in the river from the rocky shores. One day, a crew of men appears:

 

Every day [the little red lighthouse] watched the strange new gray thing beside it grow and grow. Huge towers seemed to touch the sky. Strong loops of steel swept across the river.

How big it was!

How wonderful!

How powerful!

A great gray bridge, spanning the Hudson River from shore to shore. It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.

“Mommy, is the little red lighthouse sad?” my son asked one day after I read this passage to him.

“Yes, sweetie, it is,” I replied.

“But why?” he asked. (He is a three-year-old, after all.)

“Well, the lighthouse is afraid that he won’t have any work to do, now that the great gray bridge has been built. He’s afraid that there’s no job for him. And that makes him sad. It feels good to have a job to do, doesn’t it?”  Continue reading

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Filed under books, children, contentment, god & faith, identity, motherhood, New York City, parenting, Uncategorized, work

outside in

You guys. This might be my most seemingly-superficial post to date. Don’t judge me. (Or quit reading.)

This post is about clothes. That’s right. Clothes.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about clothes. I’ve been thinking about them because a few months ago, I bought this wild pair of leggings. IMG_7652 They were quite a bit out of my comfort zone, but I really liked the pattern, and I really wanted to be able to wear them. And they were not expensive. So: why not?

At first I wore them a bit sparingly. I’m not usually a loud dresser.

Or, not lately.

But as the months have gone by, I’ve started wearing them more and more. And I’m buying a second pair. And when I wear them, I feel confident. Kind of like I can kick butt, actually.  Continue reading

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Filed under body image, clothes, contentment, identity, motherhood, Uncategorized

to my struggling friend

I have a few things to say to you, but it won’t be enough.

You will get through this. You will. But it’s going to take work. And then it might happen again. And it might be the same – or it might be completely different.

No one has experienced exactly what you are experiencing or have experienced. But there are plenty of people who have walked similar roads, traveled to the hard places and come back again. You are not alone.

The world is broken. It’s broken! It’s broken because of sin, because in the perfect Garden, when a man and a woman had a perfect relationship with each other, a perfect relationship with God, and perfect relationships with their work and their bodies and all the animals and everything else, sin entered in. And things began to break down. Even if you’re not sure you believe this – look around you.

The world is broken. Undeniably broken.  Continue reading

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Filed under body image, career, children, contentment, depression, family, friends, God, god & faith, identity, trust

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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Filed under blogging, career, contentment, family, identity, motherhood, parenting, writing

15 miles in manhattan

NYC_2013_05_CROP

I had an incredible run today. It was incredible not because of the dirt roads or the farmland, not because of the breathtaking views or scenic waterways, not because of the cool breeze blowing my hair or the cacophony of bird noises filling my ears. It was incredible because of the way I witnessed and relived my own story of coming into adulthood in New York City.

Today I started out at the home that my husband and I own in upper Manhattan (well, technically the bank still owns most of it), the home where we are raising our two kiddos and figuring out what it is to be a family of four, living in THE City. I headed north, passing the playground where we took Jacob the day Hannah Grace was born and the swings that I rocked gently on that morning, wondering if that day would be the day that our lives would be forever changed – again. I turned around at the lighthouse that was my first “big destination” when I started running again after Hannah Grace was born, and ran beneath “our bridge,” as our toddler calls the GW.

photo 2 IMG_3179

Heading south, I entered such familiar territory. The miles I ran during our early marriage, sometimes staring blindly out at the water, wondering what I had gotten myself into as I tried to figure out how to bend my life to meet and embrace someone else’s. The miles I ran the morning I found out we were expecting Jacob, plotting how to tell Harrison and practically sprinting the entire distance in elated joy. The miles I walked when eight months pregnant with Jacob and I could run no more, and the loops I ran with our stroller when I first started running again after he was born. Continue reading

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Filed under children, community, contentment, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, New York City, running