This summer, my kids participated in our church’s “Vacation Bible School” program (aka, VBS). Every day for a week, we left the house early to trek down to the church’s building, where the kids attended the opening and closing assemblies and rotated through crafts, music, Bible, snack, and movement classes each day. I mostly volunteered in the preschool Bible class, performing various roles in Bible skits for over 100 little ones. The whole week was exhausting for me.
Despite being surrounded by Bible verses, memory points, smiling people with what seemed like boundless amounts of energy, and energizing pop songs about God’s love and forgiveness, I felt spent, exhausted, and alone. The transition back to New York City after over three weeks away was a difficult one, and I realized in hindsight that I had not prepared myself or the family well for the adjustment. (I actually made lists of things to do differently next time. I love lists.) And to make things more difficult, it was a hot week in New York, my husband was working out of town, and I was 7-something months pregnant. And my kids weren’t sleeping.
Each day I’d show up, feeling beaten, and run into dozens of people I knew, some fairly well, most acquaintances I hadn’t seen in a year – and everyone was all smiles and “it’s great to see you!” and “how wonderful that you’re expecting!” and hugs. I didn’t feel like smiling, and I didn’t feel like it was great to see anyone, and I didn’t feel like it was wonderful to be expecting. It all felt like hard work. Continue reading
I walked by a shuttered restaurant recently – not an unusual sight in New York City, a place that’s always on-the-go, always changing, always moving. This particular restaurant was not an amazing eatery, but it was one filled with memories for me. It was close to my first two apartments in New York, and I’ve had dozens of conversations there. I’ve shed more than a few tears at its tables and gotten into at least one noteworthy fight. I’ve been there with friends, with guys I was dating, with my boyfriend-then-fiancé-then-husband. I’ve been there with one of my kids. And now it’s gone. The old is being replaced by something new. Continue reading
In the Aftermath,
the water is still and the mist hangs heavy in the air,
a memory of earlier rain.
On the periphery, the trees are motionless.
Lake and sky are gray:
a monochrome world.
Two ducks paddle slowly across the water.
I take it all in: the water, the sky, the ducks, the trees –
the heaviness of the air, the gray stillness of the world –
but feel nothing.
Just the wet of the tears as they slip down my cheeks.
They come slowly, at first, but soon are a silent downpour.
Grief weighs heavy on my heart.
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.
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?
long to hurt more.
they sear and want to sear deeper.
they long to cry out into the darkness:
is anyone there?
long for comfort.
they seek it in food and drink, listlessness and frenzy, silent tears and screams of pain.
We all have our ways.
One hurting heart,
while hurting for us all,
while abandoned and without hope,
while crying out in the agony of torture,
can we, too?
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
You guys. I couldn’t love more the concept behind the new book Prayers of the People (out now on Amazon!). Here’s a shameless quote from the back:
What does it look like when a whole city prays?
What would it sound like if you joined them?
Written by artists, attorneys, bankers, ballet dancers, and Christians representing dozens of callings, Prayers of the People is a record of those who seek the still, small voice of God in one of the busiest cities on earth.
In this moving compilation, Christians throughout the city of New York, in vocations stretching from high fashion to high finance, share their personal prayers. Their circumstances are unique, but the themes occupying their meditations are universal: sin, grace, and, ultimately, hope.
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.
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?
Such a pretty girl. We were sitting on the couch when he said it, tucking a few stray strands of hair behind my ear. It was so tender, so loving. So genuine.
I thought of the many times I had said those same words to my daughter, hoping that if I said it enough, she’d grow up believing it. That if she heard it enough, it would become true for her.
Such a pretty girl, I say, when washing her hair, getting her dressed, brushing her teeth, playing peek-a-boo. Pretty bow for a pretty girl, I say, trying to entice her into letting me clip a cloth-covered barrette into her finally-starting-to-come-in hair. Look at the pretty dress for my pretty girl! I exclaim, when I pull out a sweet jumper from a new bag of hand-me-downs.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing deep in her bones that she is beautiful. I don’t want her ever to doubt it.
I also want her to know why she is beautiful. Continue reading
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. . .
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!