Taking a Swing

I played softball when I was little. I was terrible. Really, really bad. And I hate to be bad at something. It’s my biggest hurdle. The number one reason why I don’t try new things. I absolutely loath being bad at something.

I realize nobody enjoys being bad. But I also see, in my husband in particular, that willingness to err and an ability to learn from it or shrug it off that I have never possessed. Maybe few have.

I quit softball early on. And somewhere along the way I stopped taking a swing at other things too. A teacher once called me lazy and so that’s how I learned to identify my choices for inaction. I’m lazy. It made me feel like garbage, but I owned it. A tiger cannot change its stripes, right? At least I knew and could be realistic in evaluating what I could or should or wanted. So I wouldn’t be taking swings that were destined to be strikes all along. Right?

But sometimes I think back to softball. And though I remember the anxiety and disappointment, I think on something else too. On the friends I made, the coaches’ encouragement, the cheering squad in the bleachers. I remember vividly my parents and sisters at every game, my brothers yelling from the sidelines – heckling (good naturedly) the umpire and coaching the coaches. I remember feeling supported even though I truly sucked. And I remember the times I hit my mark – the praise and excitement, the celebration – far more than I remember striking out. Without fail, I smile at the sight of a diamond. Every time.

And I’m figuring a few things out. My heart has always longed to hit my mark. But I rarely do that if I rarely take a swing. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll set a new mark. Not on succeeding. Not on being good at something. But just to swing.

Relationships. Health. Finances. Writing. Swing.

Calm

Walking through my front door, purse, little boy’s backpack, warmed juice cup and keys filling hands, attempting to persuade the toddler that taking time next to eat lunch is a good idea, I feel overwhelmed. Momentarily maybe.

Translating tearful outbursts protesting peanut butter sandwiches, soup, ham and cheese, speaking patiently and compassionately, teaching to breath while deciphering whether closing cupboard doors is a battle worth fighting at this moment merely because having them open is adding to chaos, I feel overwhelmed. Temporarily, perhaps.

Realizing for the first the wide open spaces of time, hours, days, and weeks the coming – now here – summer hiatus of school and church programming rains down on me, considering I’ve only begun to reach out for community, to grip my yet untamed passing of daily hours and train them into something meaningful not wasted, not having a clue with what resources to begin building a structure for spending a 100+ degree daily life, I feel overwhelmed. What do I do with this?

He hollers about wiping tears from cheeks please, and unfolding the slice of bread, preferring that Mommy lay it open there on the kitchen table. I look down into the tearful eyes of my child not trying at all to hold anything back. Crying. Asking. Even for the smallest of matters that to him makes all the difference. I wipe tears. I unfold bread. I sit in the chair beside him. He calms. He eats what I’ve laid before him.

I unfold my hands, leaning my elbows against the painted black round, I lay it open on the kitchen table. Looking into the anxious soul of His child, can I be the one to not hold anything back? I cry out. Ask aloud. Even for the smallest of cares that for me make all the difference. “Lord, calm my beating heart. Calm my anxieties. Calm my worries. My fears. My panic. Calm the waves. And if they do not calm, speak to me inside the boat tossing about the waters.”

He speaks,

“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:10-13, ESV)

And I eat what he has laid before me.

Even as the waves subside, he speaks to me inside the boat. “Haven’t I been faithful even to this moment?”

“Father, calm my distrust. Forgive me for not faithfully turning to you when all along you’ve proved yourself again and again to be faithful, to care. Thank you.”

“What a’you doing, Mommy,” a boy’s sweet face now calmed in a thick layer of peanut butter upturns to mine.

“Praying, baby.” And we calm.

Joy: Complete

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Anticipating and the Unfinish Line

I have an aversion to commitment. I prefer pencil over pen. I’m acutely aware of my need to reconsider and revise. Few statements are ever absolute. Procrastination and excuses are my confidantes. I rush nothing and I’ll never be a “closer.”

But I want to finish something. Its been a long time coming. A few too many dusty dog-eared books, unfinished projects, well intended works, good ideas gone wayside, have me discontented. My joy is incomplete. Literally. I have the yarn wrapped letters “J” and “O” sitting on my bricked fireplace ledge. Anticipating Easter. Anticipating and reminding me of my constant crossing back and forth of the unfinish line.

It occurred to me today as I heard laments from peer mothers longing for that sweet nectar of uninterrupted alone time that I cannot honestly complain. I go to bed two hours after my child, I rise late and I was blessed with a firstborn contented player, self-amusing and not truly troublesome. What am I doing with my precious gifts of time? Beginning something new instead of completing something longing?

It’s time. To reconsider and revise.

#1) Complete JOY.

A Lesson in Counting

“‘…maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds…’ There’s a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, and what it all means. I don’t.
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance,  I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Philippians 4:11b-12

I seem to be quite a griever. A connoisseur of sorts. I steal the words of a friend when I say that I ‘feel things deeply.’ Stolen words, but true words. Even recreationally. I’ve read books and watched movies and reveled in the sorrow of the scenes and wondered at the sobs elicited in myself. Catharsis is how I once described it. Cathartic to feel powerfully and let free that powerful emotion.

This week in my world a beautiful life ended suddenly and unexpected. I did not know him well but I will always remember his friendly smile. He was a brother in my church family. A husband. A father. I feel the strong ripple effects of a family in shock and sorrow. And my thoughts are filled with my own what-ifs and worries. My heart is filled with my own fear of losing. My eyes are filled with tears. And I wonder… what this story holds. I wonder what is “the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need?”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

I’m searching. I’m learning. But at times, I find I am so afraid.

Yesterday’s gifts:
Heartbreak reminding me how precious is life and the lives around me.
Beginning a journey of counting “One Thousand Gifts.”
A hand to hold in bed at night as I cry.
My husband praying over us before we fall asleep.

And today’s:
Sleeping in all morning.
Sharing laughter over the phone with my sister.
A husband who cares so greatly that I should be taken care of and find love again should his eyes close before mine.
Laughter with my lover during a conversation that ought to be difficult.
Mama and Dada together tucking baby boy into bed. And that this is our normal.
A sweet toddler voice overcoming Mama’s and Dada’s as he pieces together memorized words and notes for bedtime prayers, Silent Night, and Gloria.
What-if worries. Because that means they haven’t happened.

Mom Proverbs, Part 1

I draw a blank every time. Never fails. But the next time I go to a baby shower and am asked to write some piece of advice for the mom-to-be, I’m going to look up this post and use it as my cheat sheet.

Mom Proverbs

When we fail to take care of ourselves, we rob our children of their mother’s greatest potential. Do your kid(s) a favor: Take time for yourself. Take care of yourself.

Ask for help. Often. Your children don’t need a perfect parent. They need an example of how to handle imperfection with grace.

Learn to say whats on your mind and how to say it gently. Shouting is deafening but the heart hears what is spoken softly. And its the heart that has the power to change the world.

The greatest gift you can give your child is to love your spouse powerfully. Healthy, nurturing, affectionate, patient, forgiving, honest, genuine, passionate, selfless, inviting love FOR YOUR SPOUSE can and will speak powerfully into the character development of your children. Put your marriage first.

Read books to your kid(s) for hours. Let him/her choose the books and turn the pages. Ignore the page numbers. Ignore the clock. Just read.

Who were you before you became a mom? You don’t stop being that person when you give birth. You’ll evolve, mature, grow. You’ll add a new dimension to your personhood. But you do not stop being you. Do not stop being you.

What A Year Its Been

2010 was an incredible year for my family and to think of it as over makes me sad. So instead I will change that last digit in print but continue in the joy and spirit that the year has brought.

After almost 4 years of pouring himself into his internship/volunteer work at The Bridge Church, Jeff landed his dream job as College Pastor, Video Venue Co-Pastor and Worship Leader. I am so very proud of Jeff for selflessly investing himself, his time and his energy so completely leading up to this. He has taken to his new position smoothly, with excitement and is thriving! What a blessing it has been for him and for our family.

After a joyful though often difficult pregnancy, months of bedrest, and through a long recovery, we welcomed our first baby, Josiah David. Words cannot adequately express how incredible he is, how brilliantly he has changed our life or the joy we experience daily in him.

We also shared in the joy of my niece’s high school graduation soon after which our California girl moved to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky and earned a 3.2 GPA her first semester on her own. We are so proud of her!

My sister Anna is newly engaged this year to her boyfriend of 7 years. I am ecstatic for Anna and Andrew! Every time I see or speak to her I see how overwhelmed with happiness she is and I can’t help but think how lucky that guy is to have won her heart… and how lucky we are to add him to our family officially.

Also this year I had an opportunity to visit with my dearest girlfriends for the first time in 4 years. We were all together in the spring, a feat not easily done as we seem to be so spread out. Of that group, one friend found the love of her life and a great job this year and another has become engaged!

As always, the year had its share of worry, fear and sadness. My dad had a heart attack which led to a triple bypass surgery this summer to replace the valves from his bypass 15 years previous. It was a very scary time for my family, a reminder of what matters most (people, relationships, family) and to be intentional about where and in whom you invest your time and yourself. Praise God my dad fought his way through recovery and is continuing on towards health!

What a year its been. As I greet the coming year and all God’s plans for it, I find myself so content, blessed, loved and in love with life. I wish all my family and friends the joys and thrills and hopeful anticipation of a new year. May God continue to move and move powerfully.

P.S. I also invite you to check out our up and coming new blog site: thelovenfamily.com for all future updates as this will be my last post to this site.

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