Lately I’ve been trying to simplify my schedule, opting for No over Yes; looking for ways to streamline and pare down. It’s not just that the holidays are busy, or that family is busy, or that applying to schools in New York is busy – although all of those are true. I am realizing that my longing for less is a sign that should not be ignored. It’s not laziness and I’m not in danger of becoming bored if I take a day off. My brain cells are not all going to wither away and dissolve into nothingness if I say No (to the contrary, that’s when I will finally have the time to think and to create again).
But. I said Yes to something this past month. I almost dismissed the idea altogether – without even considering it – and then, hesitantly, opted in. And it has been surprisingly, refreshingly wonderful.
I said Yes to writing a poem every day during Advent. Continue reading
Last night when I lay
I turned my problems
from back to front,
then front to back,
trying through worry
to wear them down
I only made them
loom larger, by slipping
one next to another,
matching craggy edges
until I had fashioned
wall. Continue reading
I want to remember it. Every time I hold your hand.
Earlier this month, my family visited some acquaintances who own a small home and cottage in the Hamptons. They had invited us to stay in their cottage, and we accepted. After a slightly harrowing drive out of Manhattan, we arrived late morning on a Tuesday, spent some time relaxing on the property listening to the sound of lazy lawn mowers and chirping birds, and then walked the 400 yards to the “bay beach” at the end of their block.
As per usual, I carried the family backpack and had a little hand in each of my own. Jacob scampered about, holding my hand for a few yards and then running up to his dad and then back again. Hannah Grace, as per usual, clung tight, my fiercely independent girl who always likes to have a hand to hold (as long as she can choose to hold it). Our host caught up with us and fell into step with our slow pace. Hannah Grace immediately requested her hand as well: “I hold your hand?”
Anne seemed both pleased and surprised. “Of course!” she exclaimed, and eagerly shifted her bag to the other arm. “It’s so nice to have someone who wants to hold my hand,” she remarked casually. 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!
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 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
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.
But 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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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
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