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Sunday, May 13, 2018

for when Mother's Day is not a happy day

Hello you,
You dear sweet face on the other side of this screen. Hello from where I sit, here in the dark and (finally!) quiet of my desk. I wanted to say something to you, because Mother's Day (here in America) is right around the corner, and that annoying ad for the cell phones keeps playing and won't let me forget.

I wanted to remind you because this needs to be said - Mother's Day isn't always the happy cliche you see on the greeting card aisle or the ad on TV. Some of us need to be reminded that this day is not a happy day for quite a lot of people.

For the men and women who long for their family to begin - today is not a good day.
For those grieving the loss of a miscarriage - today is not a happy day.
For the grieving fathers and mothers who lost a child -  today is hard.
For the children who never knew their mother.
For the child who was abused.
For the child who has been abandoned by choice or by death.
For the son or daughter who just feels abandoned - today is something you just get through.
For the mom who is raising kids alone.
For the dad who wishes he could make breakfast in bed but that side of the bed is empty.
For the single woman who is just so ready to start the next chapter of life.
For the young mom who feels like today is only about Grandma and it just means more shuffling kids from place to place just to keep the peace.
For the mom & dad who feel like their marriage is just dangling by a thread.
Today is the opposite of happy.
Today is just plain super painful.
Please do not look away.

So please remember as you give your Mother's Day greetings or go about your weekend that there is a lot of pain in between the smiles and there are a lot of tears right there in the middle and all around of the joy. Please don't look away. Please remember.

Are you still with me? Good. Becuase I have something else to say too. Because chances are I didn't have to remind you of all that stuff above. You already know, boy do you know. You know, as you walk into church on Sunday with your little brood, you are fully aware of how blessed you are. But it is hard to celebrate in the middle of pain, yours or your friend's. It really is. But please listen to me: do it anyway. Because this is the world that we live in, where joy and pain share bunk beds and you rarely get one without the other. Embrace the joy of today in the middle of the pain because that is where true joy lives.

Please don't sit back, afraid to enjoy today in the face of all of that pain. Instead, reach down deep your pockets, and find that deep, true joy. Hold it in your hands and then let it turn to love in your hands.  Wrap it around the shoulders of the women to your left and to your right. Snuggle deep into folds of it and bring your children into it, breath it in. Pain does not exclude joy.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

my favorite books of 2017

One of my favorite things to do at the start of the new year is look back at my favorite books from the past year. This year of reading was different for me. Especially because it was a year for participating in book launches and having the chance to read some advance reader copies of books, which was wonderful, but oftentimes overwhelming. It was also a year for seriously niching down in what I chose to read, and giving up on books that I didn't enjoy - no matter how badly I wanted to like it. I focused most of the year on reading Christian nonfiction written by women. It was a terrific year of getting to know more authors on Instagram and the community of readers who support them.

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Anyone who has asked me for a novel recommendation has received essentially the same answer: have you read Ginny Moon yet?

Basically, it is the story of a girl with autism who has just been adopted out of the foster care system. She is obsessed with her "baby" who everyone thinks is a baby doll she left behind, but in reality is her baby sister who she hid in a suitcase the day the police came. I wanted to read this novel all in one breath and I had to remind myself that it was okay to stop reading, the speed with which I read it would not determine the outcome of the story. It could have been a lot darker and I appreciated that while some abuse was suggested the story stays firmly planted in the light. The relationships are multidimensional. Her adopted mother is struggling with her, especially after the birth of their baby. Her biological mother is trying to get her back, even though she could not take care of her properly. No one character is really all bad or all good. Highly highly recommend.

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One of my favorite books from the beginning of the year was the novel "Today Will Be Different" by Maria Semple (author of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel" which I could not finish. I liked this one so much better.) The story is about Eleanor, a middle-aged woman who is struggling with - just everything - her marriage, her son, her writing deadline, her identity as someone who used to be a bit of a famous TV writer. She promises herself that "today will be different" the only problem is that today she is having a bit of a full-on crisis. I enjoyed the grown-up yet clean feel of this novel. The ending was highly satisfying.
currently only about $5 on kindle

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To be honest, I'm not a huge Sophia Kinsella fan. I read her new book "My Not So Perfect Life" only because I accidentally bought it on the Kindle app on my phone. It was okay, but I didn't love it. This one though - I loved it so much. For example - how is this for a first line:
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This book Finding Audrey is about a teenager who has been through a school trauma, it seems like it was some type of high-school bullying incident, but it was only hinted at throughout the book and not described in any kind of detail. She is struggling with a clinical level of anxiety and always wears her dark glasses, even indoors. She is given a project to help her with her recovery and along the way she finds her voice again. There is some light teen romance. Overall a good fluff read.
Currently only about $5 on kindle.

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Close Enough to Touch was recommended by my dear friend who works at the library, about a librarian - so you know it has to be good. Jubilee is allergic to human touch. For most of her adult life she has lived alone in her little house with her books and her laptop, but after her mother dies suddenly she must get a job. So obviously she gets a job at the library where she meets Eric and his adopted son (who was my favorite character in the whole story). Eric is trying to connect with his estranged teenage daughter by reading all of the books that she read last fall. This book gets my award for absolutely best opening lines ever:
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This is another clean, light romance. A bit sappy, but it has a happy ending so all is forgiven.

Honorary Mention: The Sun Is Also A Star: by the author of Everything, Everything that just came out as a movie. This is about one day that two teens spend together - the daughter of an illegal immigrant from Jamaica who overstayed his visa fighting deportation and a second generation Korean immigrant. The whole story is sweet and cinematic. Not as heavy hitting as We Never Asked For Wings or as dark as Eleanor & Park. The ending was not what I wanted or the best ending I've read this year, but it was overall a satisfying light YA novel.


Memoir is my favorite genre. Almost all of my favorite books are works of memoir, but it can be hit-or-miss when it comes to finding a really good one. Here are the few that made my list of favorites from this year.

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All The Pretty Things was on Emily Freeman's list of favorite books from last year and I ate it up. This is the sweeping story of a life that was burned down and rebuilt again and again both physically and metaphorically. She grew up in the poverty of Appalaichia with an alcholic father, but out of the ashes of her childhood she became a doctor. She burned down her own life with an affair and a divorce but God restored her faith and her family.

Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Litte Road to Semi-Ever After

Happiness: a memoir is the story of a young woman who becomes pregnant unexpectedly by a man who is more devoted to his writing career than to her and they spend the pregnancy separated. But when the baby is born with a rare blood disease that requires her to have regular blood transfusions, the three of them slowly transform into a real family. She documents her story through to her daughter completing a bone marrow transplant.

The writing in this story is some of the best that I have read all year and I was completely engrossed in this memoir from cover to cover. As the mother of a medically complicated child who has spent more time in the hospital with my youngest son than with all of my other kids combined, I appreciated her honesty, especially about the anxiety of it all.

Honorable Mention: It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying is Cool Too) Her husband has a brain tumor. The bounces around and includes excerpts from her blog. A reflection on how it is okay to not know what we are doing and the importance of embracing the messy, imperfect life that is right in front of us.


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I started reading it's not fair at the end of last year and I loved it so much that I gave away a copy at the begining of the year. It is sarcastic and irreverent and is just the best. I love how real she is, how she quotes The Princess Bride in one breath and in the next is giving some solid spiritual advice.

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I was on the (fantastic) launch team for this wonderful little book. Fiercehearted is a collection of short essays that had be literally in tears. If you've been following my blog for awhile you know that BRAVE has been my word for awhile and this book touched on so many of the things that I have been learning recently.
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At the begining of the year I was blowing up my Instagram about this new release. Brave is the New Beautiful is a collection of stories of women who walked through extraordinary sitations with beautiful bravery. The author also shares some of her own journey with embracing a life of bravery. There are so many stars, hearts and exclamation points where God used this book to reinforce what I have been learning about what it means to truly embrace a life of bravery. It is a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching unforgettable book.

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Never Unfriended was one of my first book launch experiences and it definitely spoiled me. It was the book to read at the begining of the year, and for good reason. There have been a bunch of books published on the topic of women's friendships and this is one of the most conversational, relatable ones that I've read. The theme of the book is - if you want better friendships, learn to be a better friend. I found myself nodding along and remembering lessons I've learned the last few years. Just So Good.

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If you follow me on Instagram then you know how much I loved reading of mess and moxie. I read it in car line, and during the baby's bath time and at night after the kids went to bed. The most conversational, let-it-all-hang-out of the books I've read by Jen Hatmaker. It was the book I needed to read at the moment. It was encouraging, funny and girlfriendy. I wouldn't say that it changed me but I did enjoy the read.

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This was the book I needed to read this Christams. I was struggling in a big way this season and this book helped me to not completly loose my mind. I recieved an advance readers copy and read it well ahead of the season. My advice is go ahead and get it now to read next year. This is one of the rare cases where I prefer the kindle version to the paperback version. I also bought a copy of her previous book Loving my Actual Life and have it at the top of my To Be Read list for this new year.

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I was also over the moon to be included in the launch team for the beautiful little book "Reading People" by Anne Bogel the author of the exquisite Modern Mrs Darcy blog and What Should I Read Next? podcast. The book is a primer on the most helpful/popular personality frameworks. It is like sitting over coffee with your smart girlfriend as she explains what it means that she considers herself to be an HSP (that's a Highly Sensitive Person) and that time she and her husband discovered their love languages. I really enjoyed it. It's written from a Christian perspective without being overtly religious.

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Presence was my favorite non-religious nonfiction read of the year. If you haven't heard about Amy Cuddy then click over to her TED talk it is well worth the twenty minutes. Her book expands on the topic of her talk and is very very interesting.

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I got this out of the library during a particularly bad writing slump and it was just the kick in the pants that I needed. I need to write a post about my favorite books on writing. The Courage to Write would definitely be on that list.

Honorable Mention:
Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins combats some of the lies around the idea of the starving artist. I need to re-read this because I read it too quickly. Definitely read with a highlighter nearby.

Road Back to You is a primer for understanding the Enneagram. After I read this I was obsessed with the Enneagram. I read most of this book in one sitting. It definitely helped me in understanding some of the quirks of my kids.


According to Instagram (which is the only way I can remember anything these days) here are my favorite albums for 2017:

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The Garden by Kari Jobe
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Where His Light Was by Kristine DiMarco
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LaLaLand Soundtrack
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I'd love to hear from you - what were some of your favorite books of 2017? Feel free to send me a note and let me know!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

on being late for school

So this morning went a bit like this:

We were all up extra-early to put finishing touches on Josiah's costume and makeup for his dress up party at school today.

I am almost always late when I have extra time.

We needed to stop at the gas station on the way there. My thinking was that we had been ready early several times in the last week, so no biggies.

I was so wrong. We always go slower in the mornings when it is cold. It is a fact of life.

There was also an accident and so there was extra traffic on the way.

All this led to picking up our carpool friends at the latest time ever. Which meant that we were the latest to school that we have been so far this year. On the drive to school, I found myself wanting to hurry and mentally berating myself... so here is a peek into my mental battle with feelings of failure.

Me: ahhhhhhh we are SO late!!! 

Also Me: well, are we actually LATE? 

Me: YES, we are SO late! This is so humiliating. I can not believe that NOT ONLY am I dropping off my OWN kids late I am also dropping off my friend's kids late too! (Insert shame emoji)

Also Me: Wouldn't LATE mean that you dropped the kids off AFTER the tardy bell rang? What exactly is your definition of "late"?

Me: "On time" is early. So "Late" is also "not early". I don't like arriving AFTER the school doors open, I LIKE to get there BEFORE they open. I like to wait for the doors to open for a couple of minutes. That is when I feel like I am "on time".

Also Me: Right, but at what point would you cease to be early and would actually be late? 

Me: I don't want to be one of the last to drop off my kids!! I'm not "that kind" of mom!!! 

Also Me: Sure, but there are all kinds of reasons for being a little bit later, like getting stuck in extra traffic. That doesn't make you a bad mom. There are no brownie points for being first in line. There's just bringing your kids to school and not bringing the kids to school; getting there before the tardy bell and getting there after the tardy bell. So it's really okay. You're a good mom if you just get your kids to school. Period. It's okay. There is no shame in being late now and then. 

Me: Easy to say, easy to say. That is NOT how I feel today.

Also Me: Remeber that book you read a couple of months ago, where she said that she REGULARLY fails. She knows it and she expects it and she said that if she is not failing 70% of the time then she is happy? Remember that? 

Me: Oh yeah, I remember that. And remember how when you told your friend about that book he said that All-Star Baseball players have a batting average of around 300 which means that THEY FAIL 70% of the time, and they are still considered SUPER successful.

Also Me: Right?! That was such a fun conversation. And the point of it all is that it is OKAY TO FAIL sometimes. If you consider "not early" as a failure, well then, okay. It's not the end of the world. Shame never solved a problem or made anybody a better person. You can get the babies in the van a little earlier tomorrow and try again. It's okay. 

Me: Okay, and also - isn't Josiah so cute today?

Also Me: So cute. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

one mom's response to #metoo

It seems like every week there is some new outrage plastered all over social media. One week it is one thing, the next thing it is something else. It feels like our world is on fire and not in a good way.

You might have seen the hashtag going around social media #metoo and #iam1in4. Women all over the internet are raising awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse, and it has blown my mind how many of my friends have been personally impacted by our culture of disrespect towards women. I am one of the lucky few who grew up surrounded by men who have been kind and respectful towards me - but that is not the case for most women.

I will never forget the day that my pediatrician asked me if I was talking to my daughter about "safe touch" she was only TWO YEARS OLD. I said that I was planning on talking to her about that as she got older. My child's doctor told me "you would be shocked at how many children, as young as three and four years old, that I have treated who have been sexually abused." That day changed my life.

The only answer that I have for all of this atrocity is the same answer that I have had for every social outrage: it matters how we raise the next generation. 

I am speaking primarily to moms, but if you don't have kids you are not out of dodge - your influence still matters - to your niece or nephew, your step-son or step-daughter, your friends' kids, or the kids at your church or in the clubs and classes where you may volunteer. These kids need us to be better about teaching respect, first by our example and then by our words.

What you do - how you talk and how you act and what attitudes you adopt towards yourself and other people matters. Especially when it comes to what we are teaching our kids.

This is not just a girl thing or a boy thing. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are the statistics for abuse. This is so unacceptable. We don't just need to teach our girls to be stronger or be louder or fight harder. We need to teach our girls and our boys to respect themselves and others. We must teach our children to respect others regardless of their gender, orientation, race, religion, socioeconomic status, physical/mental/social ability - all of it.

We need to teach our kids that no matter how much we agree with someone - even if they go to our church or are in our club and are our friend - when we see someone disrespecting someone else it is our job to speak up. We also need to teach our kids that when we disagree with someone, no matter how strongly we disagree with them, we always show them respect. It has never been more important to teach that then now.

We teach our kids to be respectful with their attitudes towards other people. We correct them when we see them imitating bad examples and we watch our own attitudes for how we need to do better.

We teach our kids to be respectful with their words. We use anatomically correct language at our house and I tell my boys that we talk about our private parts "like a scientist and not like a bully" because - good grief, especially here in the Deep South there is so much peer pressure to not use proper vocabulary.

We teach our kids to be respectful with their touch and to maintain their boundaries.  I was watching this video last week and I remembered how important it is to teach my kids about maintaining their boundaries, even with me. I need to be an example of showing them what a respectful relationship looks like. When they don't want a hug, I respect that. When they don't want to talk, I give them their space.

I am still super-aggressive when it comes to loving my kids. I sit there with them until they are ready to talk and I hug my teenagers even when they don't want to be hugged because they need to know that I love them even though we drive each other crazy. But I need to be a model of a loving, respectful relationship. If they don't learn it from their dad and me - where will they learn it?

We have the opportunity to create a mini-communities in our homes, and to teach our kids the way the world should be at least a little bit. A place where each person is respected and expected to show respect. A place where we practice love and forgiveness and compassion and safe boundaries.

As a mom, it often feels like what I am doing day in and day out doesn't matter. It isn't bringing in a paycheck or making headlines, and most of the things that I do in a typical week won't be remembered by my kids or even myself, it's a lot of the same things over and over. But these moments matter. We are influencing our kids one way or another - so what are we teaching them?

Are we teaching them that it is okay to disrespect someone else if they disagree with us about religion? Are we teaching the kids around us that it is okay to disrespect someone if they are on the other side of the aisle from us politically? Or on the other end of the spectrum from us economically? Is it okay to disrespect someone because we disagree with them on the hot-topic issues of our culture at the moment? Or because they have some sort of impairment? What does our example teach them?

Dear mama, daddy, aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin, friend, pastor, teacher and volunteer - who you are around our kids matters. To everyone who is consciously making an effort to give the next generation a leg up on being people of love and justice - thank you. 

Now is the perfect moment to take another look at what we are teaching our kids, by our example and by our words. WE need to be having these conversations with each other right now, because who we are and what we are teaching the next generation matters. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

foggy morning in the valley

Someone on Instagram recently asked "what is your favorite way to spend the morning?" and one of the things that I wrote in my comments is that right now I love to see the sky as I drive over the highway on my way to pick up our carpool friends. It is different every day. 

This morning, the valley where I live is covered in thick fog. I could barely even see the Chick-fil-a, it was just a few lights in the distance. It really is beautiful though. I drove by the Christmas tree farm and yet again resisted the urge to pull over and take a picture, it is just so beautiful. But as I approach the big intersection near Wal-Mart I can barely even see across to the other side and suddenly the beautiful fog feels scary. 

That is what life feels like right now. I am editing my book and I'm at the point where I just want to send the whole thing through the shredder. Nearly every day I have thoughts about what a terrible job I have done of writing this book, that this project is self-indulgent at best. It's too shot and not good enough. I am at the intersection, and as much as I want to turn around I need to cross, even though I can't see clearly what is on the other side. 
On the other side of this particular physical intersection this morning, a little ways down the road, the fog lifts. It only hangs out around the fields near my son's school, the last remnants of the dairy farms that have turned suburbs. The fog kisses the tips of the trees, like the clouds are curious about what life is like down here.  

Sometimes it's foggy. It's a reality in the weather and it's a reality in life. Fog is beautiful until it is so thick you can barely see. In these moments all I know to do is slow down and trust that the reflective lines on the pavement will keep me headed in the right direction and take me to the other side. When I can't see clearly what is ahead, all I can do is slow down and trust. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

after the storm

A few weeks ago I shared this post with a few thoughts about when the rains turn into storms, inspired by weathering Hurricane Irma...  I had some more thoughts and finally today I finally got around to publishing them here. 

Today everything is pretty much back to normal. We never lost power during the storm, we didn't have any damage to our house or yard, not even stray branches to pick up or leaves to rake (the up-side of having a little backyard with no trees!!)

But this morning, on the way to pick up our carpool buddies, I drove past the hotel right off the interstate, the one that always fills up whenever there is an evacuation. I happened to glance over and I noticed that the parking lot was still nearly half-full and I thought about what that meant - all of the people who were still waiting for power to be restored to their homes - here in Georgia and also in Florida. Their lives are still, more or less, on pause while mine is returning to normal.

For me, this storm was a minor blip. A couple of extra days for my kids to be home from school. We even had a pretty great time together. While other moms were posting messages like "pass the wine" and "coffee coffee cofee coffee" I was honestly like "yeah, we could do another day" and even my kids, who usually cry when school is cancelled (yes, I have a couple of "those" kids) were saying "I want to stay home one more day!!"

For others though this storm was a major hit. Between this hurricane and the last one, there have been many lives lost, homes destroyed and for a lot of people life is not going to be "back to normal" for a very long time.

And in one way, I know how that feels. When I was walking through my own personal storm, when my husband walked away not just from our church but from the faith that had been the shared core of our entire relationship, there was instantly a rallying group of friends who walked with me through the initial hit. Eventually, their lives went back to normal, and they got busy with their own stress and drama. My life didn't go back to normal for a very very long time and that in between space - the space between when my grief was fresh and everyone knew about it, and when I was really okay again, that space was really lonely. I struggled to know to say "I'm still not okay. I know I'm standing here like a regular normal human being but my heart has been broken and I'm not okay yet."

If you feel like everyone has moved on,  if that is you today - I just want to stop and send a virtual hug through time and space to you right where you are, whatever is going on. I'm sorry that this is so hard. I'm sorry that you are struggling so much and for so long. I'm sorry that this storm knocked you down. I know what that feels like. It's okay if you are not okay yet. I promise, you are not going to feel like this forever. Things really are going to get better - a quarter of an inch at a time. One day, you are going to be so surprised by how good you feel, and by how long it's been since you felt like you were at the very end of the end of your rope. Things really are going to get better. I also want to say to you that there really are people who love you out there. They are just a few words away. It's okay to send a text or a message to say "I just wanted to let you know how I am really doing." It's okay to need to just hang out with your friends and not talk about anything important, and it's okay to say "I really need to talk about this some more" even if you feel like maybe they think you have talked this to death. Your friends or your family, or whoever your support system is, they are way cooler than your inner critic gives them credit for. And I know how hard it is to speak up. I also know it is really really worth it.

If you have a friend who has been going through something and it's been awhile since you asked her how she is doing - words can't even begin to describe how meaningful it is simply to have someone reach out and ask "so how have you been doing lately?" If you're thinking about someone right this minute stop and send her a note, just say "hi! I was thinking about you. How are you doing?" She may or may not respond as openly as you wanted her to, or she may pour out more than you were bargaining for, either way, I promise it means a lot to her that you cared about her enough to reach out. It means so much every single time someone tells me that they have been thinking about me or that they have been remembering to pray for our family. I don't tell everyone everything, and sometimes the question "how are you doing?" is hard to answer because it can change from minute to minute and from day to day... but I deeply appreciate every person who takes even a moment to remember to express how much they care.

I have been trying to do this more, to send the message to say "I'm praying for you." I'm learning to stop worrying about if I have "the right" words or if the time is off. If I am thinking about someone I send a quick note to let them know it. I try to send that card with the verse that reminded me of my friend or I send a quick text to just say "I'm thinking about you!" Not everyone replies to my texts with anything more than a smiley face, but sometimes that little note has meant a lot. So I keep on listening to that quiet little voice and I keep on sending little drops of light out to my people.

Sometimes we feel like we have been run over by life, and we are walking around like roadkill. I've written a book about my experience, these are my  "Confessions of a Roadkill Christian" and what I have learned along the way. If you'd like to get more information about my book as it becomes available please subscribe to my newsletter:

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

when it feels like it doesn't matter

I'm sitting in the darkness, at the end of another day. I turn the TV off and sit in the quiet. I think about tomorrow - how we're just going to do it all again I think about today. It feels like nothing that I did today mattered. I pray God, help me to understand the meaning of these ordinary days as I think through the things we did today.

It was a good day, but we didn't do anything significant. Ordered groceries again, watched a friend's kids for an hour or so. We practiced our shapes and writing letters. Nothing significant learned, no mountain-top moments. Just the splash of another penny in the pool. Today was just a penny of a day. Nothing much.

And in the quiet of the night, I think about my oldest Beth, who will be sixteen in a couple of months. When she arrives at her birthday she will have lived for 5,840 days. I tried to imagine what 5,840 pennies would look like.

And then I had this slow dawning realization about the value of the accumulation of all of these days. All of the ordinary days I have spent with her. Not all of them were great, but a lot of them were good.

I also thought of the blessing of the smallness of the impact of an ordinary day, when the ordinary day is ordinarily terrible. You know, the day when you're sick and you basically lay on the couch with the TV on and throw snacks at your kids. What a blessing that those days are just a penny off of the pile and not more. The blessing of the accumulation of small ordinary things.

The thing of it all is the accumulation of days. The accumulation of good days and bad days. One good day isn't going to fix the accumulation of years of neglect but one bad day doesn't wreck years of being a good mom. One bad day doesn't put us so far into the red that we'll never recoup. It's the accumulation of days.

I sometimes want my days to be hundred dollar days. I want them each to be snowflake-special with memories and impact and felt individual significance. And yet there is beauty in the accumulation of small ordinary moments.

I was looking at my son Eli this morning, noticing how tall he has grown. I thought when did he get so big?! And I realized he simply grew a fraction of an inch every day. He grew imperceptibly day by day by day until he could stand at the kitchen table on his long gangly legs and play on the iPad.

As I have been writing my book I have noticed this too - that it has been a lot of small moments that added up to writing a book, with very few "big moments" of writing or revelation. Just a few minutes here and there that added up to a project nearly finished. I have especially noticed how much I have grown as a person through the last couple of years and how that growth has happened a fraction of an inch at a time.

I don't know if maybe you feel like this sometimes too - like your days are all ordinary and insignificant and your growth is imperceptible at best, non-existent at worst. So I am just going to leave it here, (because I'm going to need to remind myself of this again before long) the small things matter. 

P.S. the picture above is from a weekend last fall - the weather here in the Deep South is still swelteringly hot. But it seemed like a calm and quiet, ordinary moment. 

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