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
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.
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
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
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.
My sweet baby girl, it’s been a hard year for your Mama, too. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, children, contentment, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, sensory overload
Happy 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
Filed under blogging, career, children, community, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, prayer, Uncategorized, writing
So it’s finally spring in New York, and let me tell you, it almost makes up for how awful and long and hard and cold winter was. Almost.
But it is an interesting phenomenon. The temperature rises, the trees start to bloom, and everything feels better. I am happier and feel more capable of doing anything – traipsing about with my kids, making friends, attending events, brainstorming new ideas, reaching out. Life not only seems bearable, but wonderful and filled with possibility. I go on runs and smile at the people I pass and love waking up to the light-filled mornings as the sun creeps up earlier and earlier each day.
And there’s something about making it through the winter that makes the spring so much sweeter. You’ve conquered yet another challenging season, one filled with darkness and snowdrifts and icy roads, freezing temps and even colder wind chills, days of being cooped up inside and mornings of slipping your way to the subway. And now you’re on the other side – stronger and braver for enduring the hardship.
But the thing about the spring – it always comes. We never have endless winter. Even when the cold seems to last forever, even on the shortest, darkest days – the spring always comes. Why is it to hard to trust the truth that we know? Continue reading
So, my son. He is just over two years old – you know, the beginning of the infamous “terrible twos,” so-named because this is the time when toddlers start to express feelings in all sorts of inappropriate ways (also known as, “tantrums”). Theoretically, this happens because the toddlers don’t yet know otherwise and haven’t learned how to manage their emotions.
My son has these outbursts – he actually becomes inconsolable and entirely hysterical, hyperventilating and such. So far these haven’t happened in the candy aisle at the grocery store (are NYC grocery stores big enough for a candy aisle?) or in the car seat as I try to buckle him in (what car?), but instead they happen in the stroller when we are walking home at night and he can’t see the moon (darn you, clouds), or at home because I took the corn out of the bowl and put it onto his plate.
(And we are talking MAJORLY upset, people. Out of control and sucking in air too fast and choking on saliva and tears everywhere upset. Hysterical upset.)
But the thing is, I’m not surprised. Continue reading
Filed under children, contentment, depression, family, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, running, Uncategorized, writing
It has been a long time since I’ve sat here, staring at a blank screen. I’ve started a dozen posts in my head since I last wrote and mentally bookmarked just as many topics to address. I even have a small arsenal of posts that I wrote before my daughter was born so that I could continue to publish regularly throughout “the hard weeks right after,” but somehow using those now seems false, not true to where (or even who?) I am now.
And the hard weeks…hahaha! If only just a few weeks had been hard.
Far from it.
She’s five months old now, with a smile that charms even the hardest of hearts, but every day remains a challenge. And the reality of transferring any of those thoughts to paper or completing any of those posts feels staggeringly difficult. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, career, children, contentment, depression, family, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, running, writing