After the storm

What a strange week it’s been.

The scramble and stress of preparing for a hurricane of unprecedented size and strength to make landfall; the waiting (and waiting and waiting) for it to arrive where you live; the terror of sitting in complete darkness through the night listening to howling winds, cracking trees, and thumps on the roof; the feeling of relief washing over as we woke Monday morning to discover daylight had come, we were all ok, and so were our friends and family members.

We stepped outside cautiously that morning to assess damages and marveled with our neighbors at what had fallen where, confirming everyone had fared all right and asking who needed what. Then we all picked up our rakes and chainsaws and got to work, on our own yards and each other’s.

Fallen trees can be cleaned up, busted fences can be replaced, wet stuff will dry, broken things can be fixed. Electricity will be restored… eventually.

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Continue reading “After the storm”

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See ya, summer (and a back-to-school prayer)

Last year as summer came to a close, I wrote a bit about my struggles with long breaks from school, those wretched summer bucket lists (if you do them, high five!), and my mixed feelings about sending two little girls off to school.

This year I was a tad more settled and at home in my own summer mom skin. That meant fewer planned activities and more flying by the seat of our pants, and it suited them and me just fine. Our weeks peeled off the calendar so quickly I’m having trouble remembering exactly how we filled the days. There was potty training. (Truly, I counted the summer a smashing success once that week was over. Done! I’m out! To-do list complete!) There were day camps and a handful of playdates. Lots of painting and coloring. TV- and movie-watching (this is real life). A sleepover. Swimming at grandparents’ houses and the community pool, and attempting to swim in the inflatable thing we picked up from Target. One—one!—trip to the beach. A birthday trip to the American Girl store.

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But for the last week or so, fourth grade and preschool have been calling these girls’ names. New lunchboxes have been selected. Class lists have been posted. Both are thrilled that the start of school is now just a few short days away.

So am I. I am excited for them, and frankly, I am excited for me.

Is that okay to publicly acknowledge? I hope so.

But before I shuffle them out the door next week and maybe do a little dance, I want to pray them off. Continue reading “See ya, summer (and a back-to-school prayer)”

Eggs in a Basket: About Secondary Infertility {a guest post for Kindred Mom}

“For the next four years I hovered in a confusing place of wondering whether I was even capable of conceiving another child. If it was medically impossible, I didn’t want to know. When you start marking years off the calendar, you begin to assume the worst.

Learning about secondary infertility from an article online was the catalyst for me to let go of my dreams. It was a self-diagnosis, but it was enough. We enrolled Evelyn in preschool; I went back to work. We dipped our toes into adoption research. Life just… moved on.” 

Today I have the honor of sharing a bit of my family’s story as a guest on the Kindred Mom blog. Please click here to read the rest!

 

Look back, remember, abide

Two years ago, after nearly a full year of juggling the idea in my mind and praying that if it was to be part of our story God would make a way, I quit my part-time church staff writer/editor job. The reasons my husband and I discussed were many, and they were complicated. But more than anything else, I missed my kids—one finishing up first grade and one having just turned a year old. Logic told us that I needed to keep working. (Our bank account agreed.) But there was no avoiding God’s persistent nudging on the subject: I needed to give up my job, which I had slowly allowed to invade my off-hours, stealing my joy and my ability to be emotionally and mentally present. And we needed to trust Him to meet our needs. Two years later, despite the curveballs that more than once or twice tempted us to doubt, I can say with gratitude that He has met our family’s every need, and then some.

When I look back over my writing from these couple of years—both what I’ve shared with the world and what I’ve saved for myself, sacred—and remember, all I can do is give honor and glory to God for His faithfulness. I read my own words and shake my head, realizing He loved me too much to let me remain unchanged as my life shifted from one season into the next.

I recently came across a draft I’d written one year after leaving my job. I felt like a mess and a failure at the time and was struggling with whether quitting had been the best decision after all. Today I feel like like someone else out there might need the words. For me they are evidence, a reminder of God’s goodness and the fact that even in times of transition and even with all of my shortcomings, He has never abandoned me. He won’t abandon you, either. Be encouraged.

Continue reading “Look back, remember, abide”

Letting change change me

I wrote the essay below for the May 20, 2017 issue of The Drafting Desk, a monthly collaboration with my friend Lindsey. Click here to learn more!


It’s hot enough here in Central Florida that my kids have already been in their grandparents’ pool twice (though the water is still too cold for Mom).

In an effort to get a jump start on things this year, I went ahead and signed up my 3-year-old for refresher swim lessons. At 4pm every weekday for the last three weeks, I’ve sat next to the pool and observed as the skills came back to her—kicking, paddling, holding her breath, rolling onto her back to float—like riding a bike. She loves the water, and I love watching her and chatting with her swim instructor for those 10 minutes every afternoon.

But then, just like that, she was dubbed swim-ready and we were finished. On the last day, we said goodbye to the instructor and I choked back tears.

Tears. Over the end of swim lessons.

What is wrong with me?

We’re standing at the edge of a season when so many things wrap up—end-of-the-school-year concerts, dance recitals, class parties, thank-you notes, teacher gifts, goodbyes to friends and other parents and teachers I’ve come to adore. I dread all of it. It reminds me that my children are growing, moving up, moving on (and often that means I have to move on with them). At 8 and 3, at least they’re not moving out—but I know it’s only a matter of time before that happens, too.

Oh gosh. Hold on while I look for the Kleenex.

It would appear I don’t cope well with change—but then, I already knew that.

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Remembering hope when everything feels wrong

He called me out to the backyard. Chin in hand, sitting at the kitchen counter, hunched over my phone, I sighed and looked up. “What?”

“Just come.”

Usually I’m the one dragging my family out back to appreciate particularly good sunsets with me. But this time he led me out and faced me away from the sunset, where the light was hitting a band of white clouds over my neighbors’ roofs in such a way that the giant puffs—sure sign of a Florida thunderstorm developing in the distance—were glowing. I held my breath as they in slow motion grew larger and drew closer, turning from white to peach to pink against the deep blue sky. Some portion of the moon hung in the sky above us. I stood motionless and stared, inhaling and exhaling slowly.

I looked at Dan. He asked if I was okay. What is okay, really? I’d been fluctuating between ends of the spectrum—deep gratitude and joy swinging to sorrow and confusion, and back again. It was a wisely cautious question on his part. I shrugged, knowing tears were close to the surface. He stayed close for a couple of minutes, then turned to go back inside where the kids were playing, leaving me to my thoughts.

The wind was warm after a record high day for April, the air refreshing on my skin—that perfectly sweet and smooth kind of breeze that you want to relish a little longer. Warm. Comforting.

A 3-year-old boy from church left earth for heaven less than two weeks ago. He is safe, whole, and well there. He is good now, better than good, but I keep crying. I think of him when my own preschooler drives me crazy. When she whispers love in my ear with hot little breaths. When she squeezes her arms around my neck so tight and plants wet kisses all over my face. When she practices a song in her class, where he is missed: “He’s got the whole world in his hands…”

When I lock eyes with her, she says, “I love you too, Mommy,” even though I haven’t said anything.

The breeze feels like life, beautiful and soft. And at the same time I am weeping for the pain it brings as it moves over my skin. I feel alive, and it hurts, and so I stand in my backyard and stare at the sky and let the tears come.

Continue reading “Remembering hope when everything feels wrong”

Charlotte’s Web and The Broken Way

I don’t know why I didn’t get it until that moment in the little theatre, sitting in the dark with the rest of the proud parents and grandparents, watching our 8- and 9-year-olds act it out for us.

It’s not sad. It’s beautiful. It’s gospel.

I’ve read the book. Seen the movie—the old animated one—dozens of times. Was in the play as a middle-schooler when my school put it on.

The spider dies in the end. We all know this. Our beloved Charlotte saves her friend Wilbur, the pig whose days were numbered unless someone intervened.

And then her time is up.

As a child listening to my teacher read the story for the first time, as a 13-year-old acting it out, as a mom listening to my husband read the E.B. White classic aloud with the baby draped over one shoulder and our then 6-year-old on his lap, I got the sadness of Charlotte’s Web. 

That’s what it was—sad. Books about animals always are.

But then last week, that little girl who once curled up with her dad to listen to the tale became Charlotte in a (highly anticipated) 3rd-grade, 30-minute version.

I sat there perched on the second row of that little corner theatre, camera in one hand and phone in the other, and watched her intently.

And my heart broke all over the place, because as she spoke her last lines in her little voice and the lights dimmed, I—for the first time—fully wrapped my mind around what Charlotte had just done.

I finally got it.  Continue reading “Charlotte’s Web and The Broken Way”