I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.
They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to live that way for a long time. Some already had, their crimes unfathomable.
My trip to the facility was to present a Latin jazz band concert. A few of the incarcerated men were onstage, helping with set-up when I arrived. They were polite, but physically far away in the large, concrete auditorium. I had worn a navy turtleneck sweater, black pants, and no make-up, very aware that I was a young woman entering an all-male facility. I could feel the eyes of each man who noticed me, wondering what I was doing there—so obviously out of place. A flurry of emotions flew through my head as the auditorium slowly filled to capacity. Should I be afraid? What are they thinking about me? Should I have come at all?
I’m honored to be writing over at the fabulous website Off the Page again this month! Won’t you join me there to read the rest?
My baby Hannah Grace is two years old. And the second verse of Amazing Grace just keeps playing on repeat in my head.
T’was grace that taught
My heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Hannah Grace, each phrase is true. Your presence in my life has taught my heart to fear. The moment I first learned you were on your way, I was terrified. I didn’t think I could handle having another baby so soon after your brother. Your earliest existence made obvious to me that my control over my life was just smoke and mirrors. I had a perfect plan, and this wasn’t it. I was not in control, and I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, wouldn’t be able to love you well, wouldn’t be able to love your brother well, wouldn’t be able to take care of our home and all my responsibilities. I was scared to be a mom of “two under two.”
But two years ago, you began to prove me wrong. After nearly 42 weeks of pregnancy, you made me a mom of two under two. You showed me that I could do this thing that I had feared – if I trusted God and relied on Him for everything that I lacked. This life that He’s given me with you hasn’t been easy, but each day, He relieves my fears by another degree. And now, I understand that this began before I even met you. 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 husband made a roast chicken over the weekend. I had really been looking forward to it for a variety of reasons — I love it when we can eat dinner together as a family; chicken hadn’t been on sale for weeks and our freezer stash was long gone — but primarily because the last time he made a roast chicken and veggies, it was awesome. This time, he carefully researched how to keep the chicken extra-moist and brined it several days in advance.
Saturday night came. I was eager for my chicken. (I was also starving, since lunch was pizza and cake stolen from my toddler’s plate at a birthday party.) 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
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
My last post got me thinking about love. (Too bad Valentine’s Day was last month. But this is very me, you know, to be a little behind.) Specifically, it got me thinking about a mother’s love.
Yes, perfect love is all the things the Bible says it is – patient and kind, not self-seeking or easily angered. Perfect love does not envy or boast and is not proud. Perfect love keeps no record of wrongs. Yes, it is all those things. Yes, this is my model for love. (Yes, I fail at this love. Often.)
As I wrote last time, a mother’s love is also a sacrificial love. We make sacrifice upon sacrifice for our children, giving and giving and giving – because we love. But a mother’s love is not only sacrificial. It’s also unearned. Continue reading