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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What I’m Into: March Favorites

IMG_7725Blog Posts & Articles

How Weeds Become Offerings of Love. by Nicole Walters.  Words that I needed to be reminded of this month, especially! A beautiful post about being thankful for the weeds-that-are-gifts in our lives…and also an adorable story about a mother and her boy.

How I Won the Lottery. By Micha Boyett. One of my favorite bloggers has taken a hiatus from blogging to dedicate more energy to her family life after welcoming their third son, Ace, who has Down syndrome, into the world about a year ago. This post is one of the most beautiful, uplifting pieces of writing that I’ve read all month.

Changing the Question. By Sarah Wells. I probably need to read this once a month, just to be reminded that I need to “change my question” from “Why?” to “What now?” I love how she reminds that asking “Why?” always points us to the past, while asking “What now?” points to the future.  Continue reading

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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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responsibility

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

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deep calls to deep

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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ready to run

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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

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a mother’s love (v 2.0)

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.]

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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 20140707_Hollingsworth-178did 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

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What I’m Into: February (2016)

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It’s common for bloggers to share various “what I’m into this month” types of posts, recounting books they’ve read, movies they’ve watched, artists they’ve listened to. Often with links and witty commentary.

To be honest, I often delete or only skim these posts. I have no idea how some of these writers have the time to read not just one – but three or four or more books every month. I have no idea how they manage to watch so much television and so many movies (mostly I’m in awe of their ability to stay awake past the first 25 minutes, which I can’t seem to do). And when I’m reading blogs, I mostly want to read their stories, hear their voices.

But – the things these writers love and are inspired by and challenged by also make up their voices and their stories.

So I thought I’d try. Maybe I’ll do this every month. Maybe it will fall by the wayside. But there are so many little things to love and laugh and think about – good blog posts, challenging New Yorker articles, a recently-discovered song, a great coffee maker. And what can I say? Nearly every book I have managed to read is one that I read about on someone’s blog post. So, here goes. I’d love to hear what you are loving, too. Won’t you leave a comment with a link to something you’ve enjoyed this past month?  Continue reading

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to my newly-expecting friend

 

DSC_0115Sweet friend,

I am so happy and excited for you to become a mom. And while I feel so far from inhabiting a place of wisdom (or even peace) much of the time, I wanted to give you more than some hand-me-down maternity clothes and half a box of size one diapers. Although I know those come in handy, too.

In fact, there are so many things that I want to tell you – little things, like how you should buy prints instead of solids because then the spit-up and peanut-butter and runny-nose-residue are less visible – and big things, like what being a mom has been teaching me about grace and forgiveness and love and patience and despair. Here are four things I’ve learned so far.

PRIORITIES. Being a mom is really, really busy, and really, really hard. I know you’ll be juggling a lot next year with the baby and your running and your work and, of course, your relationship with your husband and your church and your small group. So many things seem so important. And they are.  Continue reading

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