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!
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
There are really no words for today, or for yesterday, when my sweet friend lost her child, seven months after he was born. It feels useless and almost unnecessary, unimportant, to share the heaviness of the grief.
Almost harder for me, as the mother of two healthy children, has been the weight of responsibility.
I heard the news while sitting between my two children at home, at dinner. Our home is not a quiet one, and this is especially true at mealtimes (and bathtimes). The children were screaming in delight at each other, alternating between “Rooooaaaarrrr!” and “Noooooo!!!” enjoying the sounds of their voices volleying back and forth, at escalating decibel levels.
I sat, crying hot and silent tears, as they screamed, oblivious. Amidst the sadness and anger, I felt a heavy responsibility. Continue reading
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.
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
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.
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
I laced up my marathon shoes today for the first time since finishing the New York City Marathon. It felt GOOD. (I’ve run a few dozen miles since, but always in my training shoes — for the record.)
In the 17 years since moving to the East coast, I’ve only managed to “run through” the entire winter – whether outdoors or on a treadmill – a handful of times. This year was not one of those times. I entered the lottery for the NYC Half in March, hoping that would motivate me – but I didn’t get in. I signed up for another half in April – but didn’t even look at a training schedule until 6 weeks before (which would have been okay . . . had I run even once since Christmas). Even the frequent texts from my sister about her postpartum hill workouts and negative splits couldn’t get me out of bed in the morning.
There’s always the tipping point. Continue reading
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.]
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 did 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
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!
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