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
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
I recently read a book that I mostly love, a LOT, but also hate just a little bit. Well, it’s not so much that I hate it – it’s that I’m angry at it.
I love the book because it is so much like life – filled with the beauty and loss and childishness and inspiration and curiosity and awe that make up what we know of this world. I also hate the book because it is so much like life, with its unpredictability and lack of happily-ever-after promises, with its multi-dimensional characters who cannot be completely understood and the resulting loneliness and frustration.
I thought I knew how the book would end. It didn’t end that way, and I was sad and disappointed and, at first, so angry because I just didn’t want to accept the discrepancy between what I had really wanted to happen and what really did. Between my dreams for the book and its reality.
That’s happened to all of us, right? In our real, nonfiction lives? We’ve been disappointed by – and perhaps angry at – the discrepancy between our dreams and our reality? Continue reading
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They had a dog. A big, beautiful, wonderfully calm, long-haired golden retriever. And sitting on the floor with him — stroking his silky hair and listening to his contented breathing — was possibly the most peaceful thing about my life in 2003-2005.
Sometimes, I even got to walk him.
They also had what felt like a home. They had two kids – teenagers – and their dog and their life and their friends and their work. She talked to her mom on the phone every couple of days (I remember her answering it often when I was there – an old, hanging-on-the-wall phone) and they went for long morning walks along the river. They got the newspaper. They always had a pot of coffee on. I guess I felt like that’s what it was to be an adult. To have a home, and a routine, and a family, and a rich life woven together.
Their home was like a refuge to me – a haven of security and stability during wandering college and post-college years, when I was living with countless roommates, with haphazard furniture and random posters tacked onto the walls, eating Trader Joe’s frozen burritos for dinner. When I visited their home, I wanted to spend hours there (and often did) – learning from them and absorbing their life. I wanted to be transformed by their (seemingly) calm, collected, stable selves. 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
So this will be a short post (see! It can be done), but in light of JANUARY FIRST, I’ve been thinking about the new year and what’s ahead and the idea of making “New Year’s Resolutions.”
I loved two recent but fairly dissimilar posts I read on this topic (and you should read them, too!). Addie Zierman writes wonderfully and beautifully about how and why she makes resolutions each year – how they represent “a praise, a prayer, a confession, a cry of hope” – in her post In Defense of New Year’s Resolutions. Meanwhile, Glennon Doyle Melton preaches “I don’t want to be a BETTER ME in 2016. Screw that. I don’t want to chase after some imaginary more fabulous version of myself. I AM what the people I love need.” in her post Best New Year’s Ever.
Growing up, I nearly always made New Year’s resolutions. Depending on my age, they generally focused around being nicer to my sister, how many A’s I’d make in school, saying thank-you more often to my parents, eating better, exercising better, praying more, memorizing Scripture, cooking more – and on and on. They generally lasted – like most resolutions, as far as I can tell – sometime between twenty-four hours and twenty-four days. So it goes.
Then I got married, and one day another married couple (who had been married nearly five whole years by that point) told us about The F’s. Continue reading
So it’s a new year! And, with the New Year, a new post, and also a new purpose for this space. I recently read that famous passage Christians like to quote about how “we have this treasure in jars of clay.” We carry around a treasure – and this treasure is found in a jar made of clay. It’s not necessarily a beautiful, glazed, perfected jar, but a clay jar. It’s probably a simple jar. An unimpressive jar. Possibly even a broken jar. But it’s not the jar that is important – isn’t that the idea? It’s the treasure inside.
This got me thinking: what is my treasure? Continue reading
Although I did not mention it here, I gave up Facebook for Lent this year (I know, I know. More than fashionably late in bringing this up – as usual). At any rate, I gave it up for two reasons. And, as is often the case with these things, I learned significantly more than I had anticipated.
I gave it up because it’s often a waste of time. And while I’m learning to embrace the necessity of rest and taking breaks more than I ever have before – let’s face it, mindless scrolling is just not helpful. And it’s also really not even a break. Because as I scroll, my brain is bombarded with images, and with words that I read and engage with and think about and respond to. So it’s not a break. And then I get sucked in, and it’s bye-bye break.
So there’s that. But also, Facebook makes me envious. I know this about myself, and wanted to give myself a break from the temptation. The temptation of comparing my life to everyone else’s. My pictures to theirs, my Sunday afternoons, my anniversary dinner, my spring break trip. Facebook makes me forget what I have and it makes me want what it looks like everyone else has. So I thought a break would do me some good. Continue reading