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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Continue reading “Letting change change me”

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”

The kids are watching [our response to those in need]

I guided our red minivan into the left turn lane, the one closest to the median, and the man standing on it, leaning against the traffic sign, looked up, searching for a driver in the line to lock eyes with him. His shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops on a cooler-than-usual Florida day, along with the cardboard sign he held, indicated need. I caught his eye and nodded.

I am the woman who obsessively locks whatever can be locked—the front door, the screen door, the garage door, windows, car doors. I stash valuables; I buckle my kids tight; I creep silently to the peephole when the doorbell rings, wary of strangers. 

The man walked toward the van as I rummaged around in the center console and the tote bag on the front seat. I’m a mom; it’s in my job description to travel with snacks. My 2-year-old daughter grinned at me in the rearview mirror, and I locked eyes with her, too. My fingers finally landed on what I knew was somewhere in the bag, and I emerged with a chocolate chip granola bar.

I wished I had more, but it was something. I need to make care bags to keep with me.

I rolled down my window and offered it to the man.

“Would you like a granola bar?”

He had a crooked smile, weathered skin, and kind blue eyes. I wonder what his story is, but does it matter? 

“Thank you, ma’am.”

My throat was tight and all I could do was look him in the eyes and nod.

I rolled the window back up as the light turned green and we pulled forward. I glanced at the rearview mirror again as my little girl strained against her carseat straps to watch the man walk away.

“Did you gave him a ganolga bar, Mommy?” (One of those words I secretly hope she mispronounces forever.)  Continue reading “The kids are watching [our response to those in need]”