Everyday Love – A Show and Tell

Today I am thrilled to share with you a piece I wrote for (in)courage

To read the article in its entirety, you can click here

I have been no stranger to storybook romance. Marrying at twenty-one to an Army Officer, I am blessed to be familiar with this form of love — love as a falling and a pursuit and a passion. We were introduced for the first time on a cold March afternoon, bundled up as we stood outside in snow-covered woods with our cherry-red noses and mittened hands.

Nine months later we were engaged. We were married a year after that, with vows breathed smack-dab in the middle of his two weeks’ vacation stateside before returning to Afghanistan.

From the very beginning of our relationship and even early on into our marriage we were almost exclusively separated by physical distance due to the nature of his job. Our relationship spanned many miles those first years, based upon his duty station. There were several hundreds of dollars spent on phone cards that paid for thousands of pieced together minutes that stretched from the Midwest to the Middle East over the course of twenty-six months. There were stacks upon stacks of handwritten letters tucked into envelopes and mailed across war zones and continents and 14,000 miles of worries and dreams strung together.

It is within those cherished letters, mementos I have since arranged chronologically and tucked away meticulously in the corner of an upstairs closet, that I find confirmation that this love of ours has, without a doubt, changed over time.

It isn’t merely the friction caused when fond memories of our past collide with the weariness and the just-plain-hard that this season of life holds. No, this is something altogether different…

You can find the rest of the article here.

Let’s Link Arms

It wasn’t until I became a mom that I started noticing a desire within me to really connect on a deeper level with other women. Now, it should be noted that I am a textbook introvert, and also deal with debilitating anxiety and clinical depression, so a lively social life has never been an aspiration of mine. Being around other people absolutely drains me – mentally, emotionally and even physically – despite the enjoyment of their company.  For every day spent out of the house, I generally need another day (or two) to recuperate where we do chores at home and don’t go anywhere at all.

With my days being spent alone (for the most part) with a toddler, I am making a conscious effort to deliberately seek out other women to live life alongside. The women’s small group Bible study at our church, a weekly mommy & me music class, playdates with other moms of littles who are in a similar life stage, a local MOPS group, a book club, this blog, are all ways I am making an intentional effort to go deeper with others, beyond small talk and pleasantries, and link arms rather than lock eyes with other women. We’re all in this together, mamas!

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “connect”.

Mama Needs a Minute

I’m linking up again this week for the Five  Minute Friday 5-minute writing prompt. This week’s prompt is HELP.

Start.

Our son was 16 months old before I told my husband that I needed a minute. It felt like I’d caved, asking him for a few quite, solitary moments on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He stared at me with a confused expression.

“But, you don’t want to spend time with us?”

No, that’s not it at all. I DID very much want to spend time with my boys, but mama needed a time out!  I sent them outside to play and for thirty glorious minutes (aside from running downstairs to toss in a load of laundry), I sat on the couch with a cup of coffee and a Reese’s peanut butter egg.

Later that evening, once the baby was asleep and dinner was cleaned up, my husband said nonchalantly, “So it seems like that time alone was really good for you.” I had felt how helpful a sliver of white space in my day had been, to my fatigued mama body and to my weary mama soul. But I was completely surprised that the impact of those chocolatey minutes could also be felt by him. So in the weeks since, I have made an effort to steal away a few minutes here and there, because tending to myself sends ripples of refreshment throughout our home.

Stop.

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1

Stewarding a Gift

Written November 3, 2015

I’m not sure dreams ever truly die. Sure, they get pushed aside for a time, or morphed into something bigger, or coaxed along slowly and carefully over days turned years, but they still exist. They’re still alive. Maybe they sit patiently for a time, waiting for us to realize they were stifled but not silenced, muffled but not inaudible. And then, in a crescendo of strung together moments, they reenter the part of our souls that nudges the hardest and we can’t ignore them any longer. We can’t not do it.

I have felt this prodding here and there since high school, maybe earlier, to put words on paper. But I thrive within boundaries. I need order and rules and without a prompt or an assignment or a purpose, I have struggled to even begin. I do not see myself as “a creative”, which certainly fans the flames of self-doubt.

If I am not artsy and definitely do not exude any sort of hippie-type, go-with-the-flow aura, how could I ever engage in such an organic process? My lack of creativity, coupled with my fears – of not having anything worth saying, of not being capable of writing without guidelines, of not being well-read enough, of not knowing the nuances of grammar as well as some – have paralyzed me. And, until the last few weeks, I mistook crippling fear for a dead dream.

Now, more than ever before, fresh in the throes of new mommyhood, my lack of soul care has never been more evident. I have never been very dedicated to personal refreshment. Cognitively, I know investing in myself reaps great benefits, both to me and to those around me. But practically speaking, heaps of guilt well up inside at the mere thought of focusing any amount of time or energy on myself. I immediately feel lazy and selfish.

I don’t believe it is a coincidence that articles and comments and books and social media posts fleshing out the topics of both self care, soul care and nurturing one’s gift of writing have been grabbing my attention lately. These gentle soul-nudges have turned to sharp jabs and the whispers to shouts: Write!

So, here I am, hesitantly putting pen to paper. I recently listened to a podcast episode featuring the beloved author Sally Lloyd Jones. In the course of the interview, she said something to the affect of “part of stewardship is nurturing our gifts.” So, I suppose these are scribbles of stewardship.

Words as Art

{This post is my first link-up with the weekly Five Minute Friday writing prompt.}

This week’s 5-minute writing prompt is “create”.

Start.

Describing a person as being “a creative” has always held an air of mystery for me. I am intrigued by the girl who can sit down to an easel or a musical instrument or a notebook, barefoot, hair tied back, with the sunlight streaming in through an open window,  and for hours she strokes and tweaks and adds until something beautiful is born before her. I have tried my hand at being artsy and seem only to succeed at creating a visible reminder of my deficits.

As I lean into writing again, regularly, diligently and with acknowledgment of the worth that my words possess, I am making an uncomfortable effort to embrace the label of “writer”. Even though this craft doesn’t come easily to me, doesn’t yield an income, and is difficult to carve out time for, I am now making a conscious effort to respect the thoughts I string together as art I create. Perhaps I am a creative after all.

Stop.