I’m not a mom, but I read motherhood blogs

I’m not a mom. When I was younger I always said I wanted seven children, but now I’m not so sure. In fact, with each year I tuck into my blue jeans, I become increasingly persuaded that I don’t even want kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are great. I love kids. I love playing with them and working with them at church. I just don’t think I want to have my own and be a mom.

Nevertheless, I read motherhood blogs. And like them. Actually, I like them more than just about any other kind of blog. Do you know why? Because in a community of mothers I have found encouragement that is definitely not intended for my demographic, but applies just the same. Lisa-Jo writes about the glory of the ordinary, the hand of God in every-day life, the eternal value of small things. 

And I need to be reminded of that.

Because I lead a small life. I get up every day and go to my entry-level librarian job. I order books and code the webpage and make the coffee. I come home and make dinner, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and then spend the rest of the evening working on my graduate school classes. Rinse and repeat.

And sometimes I need to be reminded that the daily ins and outs of my small life affect the people around me. My flatmate, my coworkers, the students who come into my library – I have impact on them. And that matters, both now and in eternity.

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Five-Minute-Friday: Fill

Every Friday we silence the inner critics and write for five minutes without listening to the small voices telling us we’re not good enough. We write, and up from our souls bubbles beauty and a breathtaking glimpse of God’s glory. This week’s prompt is “Fill.”

Go

The moments of my life where I’ve experienced the greatest connection with my family and close friends have always been over a cup filled to the brim with something delicious. Chai tea, southern iced sweet tea, coffee, hot chocolate, white mocha latte’s – these aromas make me think of family bonding.

Life lessons learned, hearts shared, great issues of the universe discussed.

This is how my heart is filled and how I fill others’, with a cup of love filled to the top.

So sit down, let me fill your cup, and let’s talk.

Stop

If you would like to join us in celebrating life unedited, join us here.

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Psalm 23

Jesus watches over me: I have everything I need.
He takes me to a restful place,
he leads me along safe paths,
he renews my spirit.
His reputation ensures
he will never lead me astray.
Even though I walk
through a fog of depression,
I will fear no evil,
because Jesus is with me;
his instruments comfort me.
He will make sure I’m taken care of,
even when enemies surround me.
He gives me so many blessings,
I can’t contain them all.
I know His love and mercy
will be with me my whole life,
and I will live with Him forever.

This is a paraphrase of a Psalm that has been on my heart and mind a lot lately. Depression may have struck me once again, but that does not change the fact that God still walks alongside me, taking care of me and protecting me.  He will stay with me, depressed or not.

This assurance allows me to hope even amidst forces trying to bind me up and crush me down. Hope is strongest when times are darkest, for it is then that hope is most desperately needed.  When times are high and life is good, hope is unnecessary; why do you need to hope for life to be better when life is already great? But when times are tough and life is rough, hope is what gets you through to another day and another and another.

Hold onto hope, for when you have nothing left to hold onto, hope will still be there.

The Indescribable Within

John Green, arguably the best young adult author of our time, wrote in his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” There are days when I read this quote and think, “Man, what a wonderful way with words John Green has! What incredible command of metaphor!” And then there are days like today.

Days where my thoughts weigh upon my mind but refuse to come together with form or substance. Days where I am overwhelmed with both the inherent brokenness of our world and everyone in it as well as the intense beauty life and the power of the smallest actions to affect a person’s life (and therefore the world). Days where life doesn’t go as planned, but which result in unexpected blessings. Days where both the fear of the future and the hope and expectancy of life to come war against each other. Days where the inner philosopher unsuccessfully attempts to wrest control of my thought processes.

Days where my thoughts, no matter how beautiful or insightful on their own, refuse to coalesce into something more.

This is why reading is important. It allows us to use the words of others to give voice to the indescribable things within us.

Guerrillas of Grace

I don’t usually post the writings of others (because I’m self-centered like that), but this poem/prayer has been on my mind a lot lately.  Can prayer be more than  words?

“How shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
Are screams prayers,
or groans
or sighs
or curses?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?

Will you accept my prayers, Lord,
my real prayers,
rooted in the muck and mud and rock of my life,
and not just my pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged
bouquet of words?

Will you accept me, Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?”

(exert from “How Shall I Pray” by Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace, 1981)

On School, Adulthood, and the Giant Squid of Anger

Staring at the empty page of my computer screen, I come to the disheartening realization that I have no clue whatsoever what I am supposed to do.

I now understand why everyone says grad school is so hard.  It has nothing to do with the difficulty of the courses or the amount of work to be done.  Well, maybe not nothing; the work is somewhat more challenging than undergrad course work, but this makes up only a small facet of the strenuosity of grad school.

Why, then, is grad school so hard?  Because your state of life has changed.  When you are an undergraduate, you are still in the process of becoming an adult.  No matter how much you think you are an adult as a freshman or sophomore, if you’re jobless, living in the dorms, and your biggest concern in life is making sure you get papers turned in on time, you’re not fully an adult yet.  Your life is centered around classes, friends, assignments, having fun, dorm life, and the experience – which is much the same as high school.  Somewhere between walking across the stage and walking into your first grad class, however, a shift occurs.  It’s hard to pin down exactly when it happens, but it does.  You get a job, move into an apartment, buy some furniture, stock your pantry, and realize that there is a whole world out there entirely independent of and separate from school.  You wake up one morning and realize (while staring into your closet full of professional attire, perhaps?) that you are undeniably and irrevocably an adult.  You’re not quite sure when it happened, but you know it is true and you know you cannot go back.

Your focus in life shifts school to everything else.  And that everything else is pretty great.  Your time belongs to you, fully and truly, for the first time.

Then grad school starts.

And your life falls into chaos.

You have to learn how to fit time for all the crazy amounts of reading and writing and everything else into your already full life.  No, you can’t go see that new movie this weekend; no, you can’t leave town for the weekend to see family; no, you can’t redecorate your apartment; no, you can’t deep clean your apartment; no, you can’t read the pile of books you just bought.  Why? Because you have homework.  Have a significant other?  I hope you don’t like spending time with him/her, because you won’t be able to.

Grad school is hard because it strips away everything you love about your life and leaves you as a stressed-out giant squid of anger.

Hopeful Realism

People who know me from only interacting with Work Me think I’m an optimist. Others have accused me of being a pessimist, others a cynic, and still others a realist.

None of those sit right with me, though. None of those fully encompass the way the world reveals itself to me.  I see the potential for future disaster, but I don’t believe catastrophe is unavoidable. I see how those with power abuse those without, but I realize not all the powerful are cut from the same cloth. I see kindness in people, but I know that people are naturally bent to darkness instead of light.  I see the state of the world around me, but I have hope that life can improve.

That’s what hopeful realism is all about: Recognizing that all is not well with life, but retaining a deep seated belief that the what comes next can be better than what went before.

Hopeful realism is not merely the naïve dreaming of a girl yet to experience life, but is rather the result of a life transformed by faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Is that not the essence of hopeful realism? I am confident that when time runs out, the One who created time will still hold us in His hand.  I am assured that even if I must suffer hardships, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).