I had plans to write about so many other things this morning but here I sit in the coffee shop for an hour, BY MYSELF, and what I want to say is right in front of me.
A young mom walked in, ordered her coffee and while shuffling through her wallet to pay, her child dropped his shoe out of the stroller. She swiftly grabbed it, handed it back to him with a smile, paid for her drink and waited patiently while the espresso was made and the milk poured.
I don’t know where she was coming from or going but I know that place. Of multi-tasking, even in simple tasks, of hoping your child is going to have a good day and that you are able to give them what they need for the day to feel loved.
As I walked out of the co-op group I am a part of to head here this morning, I felt it as well. The pull. Do I stay and help put little owl eyes on construction paper with Hannah or do I say goodbye and head out for an hour alone.
Before I was a mom, I had no idea the amount of thinking and heart that went on behind the scenes in parenting. When you first have a baby, you think about time in terms of when they need to sleep and eat and be changed. 2 am can seem like 2 in the afternoon and for awhile, it is unclear which way is up. You look to others around you for insight but somewhere deep inside of you, you know what you need to do.
Then your kid starts to do amazing things like sit up and laugh and crawl around. You are aware all of the time their surroundings, the plugs at their level, when they might nap or might not. In fact, this is a good time to share that my daughter didn’t nap well until she was thirteen months. And honestly, it worked for us and she slept well at night and I wasn’t too concerned about it.
By the time they are a toddler you are balancing snacks and consistency with the underlying current of a flexible routine. What took all of your extra brain space in the beginning becomes a regular hum in the ebb and flow of everyday thoughts. I like this place, knowing where we are with one another and what makes a day giving Hannah the chance to succeed in listening and feeling cared for. I don’t always do it well but when I do, we are all a whole lot happier.
I guess what I am trying to say is that becoming a mom ingrains itself into so many areas of life, even though it doesn’t solely define you. I used to think that was a bad thing and that there were cut and dry lines between spaces in your life. But there aren’t. It all flows together. At the coffee shop, when you are there with your child and when you aren’t.
How you carry it matters. Speaking to myself here. I want to show grace and care in my motherhood and I also want to show care for myself. For me, that means having relationships in my life that are centered around other interests, even with other moms. It means cultivating things that give me joy like creating, writing and doing things that make me feel happy and healthy.
My time here is almost up, the hour is running short but if you are reading this today as a young mom feeling guilty for pursuing things that you love, stop. We love our little ones just as much when we show them what it means to be fully alive and engaged in the world around them. So do something you love this week, even if you have to lose an hour of sleep to make it happen. You won’t regret it.
Over the past two weeks we have had no fewer than seventy-five people in our home. You may think I am exaggerating but I tell you the truth, I am not. Between meeting no less than five new babysitters & hosting two nights for our community group leaders we have moved every chair, used every square inch & huddled tightly together. We’re talking four on a couch, people on the floor, standing, sharing chairs, all of it.
I think we have discovered the capacity of our home: as many as can fit.
When we planned to have kick-off meetings for the community group leaders in our home, my brain was in summertime mode. Last week it got bumped up to fall real quickly. Oh? It’s fall? It’s time to be organized and on pointe? Someone get me a pumpkin spice latte!
There is something about kicking off a new year and celebrating that with people you are on mission with that just feels right. August rolls right into September and cardigansandapplepickingandeverything. See? It just happens?
I have to pinch myself sometimes, realizing how many relationships God has cultivated and how much provision there has been in bringing people into our lives at the points that we need them. I was anxious two weeks ago about finding care for Hannah in this season and all of sudden I have new sitters who are new friends. We are preparing for a full month & discussing worship, community & mission–all within the context of people and people are not only showing up but they are excited.
I think it is so easy to get lost in the details of planning, calendering, new cardigans & back to school notebooks, all of it, that we can miss the bigger picture.
We ended the evenings in our home with all of the leaders huddled in our kitchen, shoulder to shoulder, breaking bread from Kroger & dipping it into the Merlot I had left from girl’s night earlier this summer. Sacred moments in everyday life. Communion in the kitchen.
I don’t know how to explain what takes place when we invite God’s very spirit into our everyday life. I don’t do it often enough; I know that much. Will you join me in praying for eyes to see this fall? That we would have vision for deeper things and hearts open to what God is doing, no matter where. In kitchens, on playdates, in the office and in the coffee shop. Ordinary places with so much potential.
(yes, my chacos. they represent adventure but they were life changing in and of themselves)
For some reason, this spring I didn’t write but it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t feeling it. Now that I think about it, I didn’t write because we were busy packing and spending time with friends who are journeying away for the summer, and for some, longer. Another marker of May. This will be the May that we moved our house in Ann Arbor with a fenced in yard and a deck for the masses.
A year ago today we moved to Ann Arbor for the first time, delayed due to my emergency appendectomy in the middle of the night and changed plans. We arrived looking only at three months of summer in the white house downtown which led into a summer of late nights on the porch. Which led into considering if God could be calling us here for longer which turned into conversations, celebrations, lots of cupcakes at the Cupcake station and the scramble to find a place to live in a college town.
Which leads us to today. Well sort of, there are many months of life and planning and adventuring and growing between now and then but here we are, waking up in our first week in a home that I hope we are in for awhile. We still love Ann Arbor just as much as we did last summer when we first arrived and chose to move here. I just re-read what Ryan wrote about our decision to move here and I think it is so good to be reminded of where you have been and where you are going.
Sometimes life starts to feel somewhat normal when you have been somewhere for a while and settle in and I always hope to remember that we are on mission. Even in the everyday living of going to work, doing laundry, going on walks with friends; that how we (I) do it matters.
In some ways the past few years of moving multiple times has forced us to live more simply, less stuff and more ease. I like that and want to carry it with us in a home where we do have a basement and storage and all of the others things that are a blessing. We used our small spaces over the past year to host, celebrate, gather and retreat. I’m hoping that this home will represent much of the same and that we will use it well.
One of my dearest friends is leaving this morning with her family for training to prepare for life in the Congo. Its’ so bittersweet, hugging my Kate and knowing what adventures are ahead but feeling a little sad that their four faces won’t be regulars around our table in this house right now. That is much of what life in Ann Arbor is like, hellos and goodbyes. Many here are seeking what their next step will be in life, in career, in their journey. My prayer is that this new home is a haven to people who need rest from all of that seeking.
Here is to May days and all the summertime days that follow.Read More
I haven’t written in awhile. It’s ok. Here is what I think about that: it was winter and winter some more. Which leaves me feeling lackluster in the inspiration department. But if step back and think about life since I last wrote in February, much life has been weaved between these weeks of indoor play dates and sweeping the floor, doing the dishes and taking the dog out in the cold.
Maybe some of the best life comes in the just living and mulling things over. I can’t always articulate in the moment what I am experiencing but time seems to help with that and although I have always felt at home in Ann Arbor, this place has only been our home for 11 months. That said, these are some of the important things from the past two months.
Some of our very best friends adopted a son. I am going to share their story soon as I spent some time writing about it the week baby J arrived. It has been a profound time for them but also for Ryan & I as their friends.
I spoke at our church on brokenness and it surprised me how affected I was by it and how many conversations began with others in our community as a result.
We decided to look at houses to buy, then to rent which is a whole post on its own. The summary is that life in Ann Arbor is expensive and we had to choose what was most important to us. Nearness to downtown, fenced in yard, access to public transportation, space. In that order.
I cannot wait to get back out there for morning walks to get coffee & to try out the new parks with Hannah. Speaking of Hannah, within the past few weeks she has become a full fledged two year old in my mind. Although her birthday is still a few weeks away, our girl has arrived.
I have spent much time deepening friendships particularly in the past few months and trying to sort out how I spend my time. I think that might be a continual tug I feel in my life now that we live further away from some of the dearest people in my life. I am coming to terms with what that means and how it plays out but you better believe that the weekend Katie came and we drove around drinking diet cokes like we used to was very good for my soul.
I started working one day a week, something I have been thinking about since the day I took my maternity leave. I wasn’t sure what, where or when and then it just happened. Isn’t it funny in life how these things happen?
This is where I am left with my reflections on continuing to write myself:
I want to add to the beauty, to not just create noise and to make sure the things I share have value.
That being said; maybe sometimes the value is found not in saying something profound but in connecting with others in our experiences and lives. So write on I will.Read More
Something that I have been thinking a ton about without knowing how to articulate it well is, “connection.” More specifically, the connections between people and what they mean in our lives.
We are overjoyed to be in a job we love, helping lead some amazing leaders in our new church. In fact, there are so many people interested in small groups that we are starting a young professionals group next week and 80, yes 80, people signed up in addition to the almost 250 people that are already in small groups. Bless God. This is craziness. How evident it is that we crave a connection in our physical, daily lives. In a world that tweets faster than we think (unfortunately), and logs on by the minute to check who is where and doing what, we all want to truly be known.
At this point in our transition, I feel blessed that we have a tight group of 3 or 4 couples that we spent a ton of time with this summer who know us. We have laughed, cried, sat on porches, prayed and shared stories. A rare gift. I also feel that there are many people who don’t know us very well yet. Which is normal, but I sometimes forget who I have shared our stories with. Did I tell them that Hannah is allergic to peanuts and that yes, I worked in finance and we used to want to be really rich? Have I shared that I love diet coke and going to see movies to eat popcorn and candy for dinner? Do they know the concert I would die to go to or the date of my birthday?
Some of my favorite people are on the other side of the state, the other side of the country and in different time zones. Between college, my working life, and my life as a new mom, I feel part of several communities and feel so lucky to say that. Lucky and torn, because I think we have to move forward while carrying those relationships along. It’s hard.
All of that said, we need relationship and connection to survive. Real, tangible, hold my hand and let’s go get a cup of tea connections. So as much it seems easier to spend our time on what we know, we have to continue to reach forward and reach out.
I continue to find that it is worth it. Worth it to take that first brave step and shake another hand to meet someone new. To show up with donuts and coffee and create community. Because you never know when or for how long God is bringing someone into your life. It may be for you, it may be for them, or if you are lucky, it will be for both of you.
Over the next month I will be traveling to a reunion with my college girlfriends and celebrating the joy of children for new friends and best friends. I’m so happy to be doing both and trying to just take it as it comes, remembering that being known takes time. What are you doing today to find connection in your life?