a snapshot of the glorious ordinary

ordinary

I haven’t written in this space in awhile. In fact, it’s been almost six months since my last post. I’ve asked myself a few times why I’m not writing as much. The simplest answer is that I feel like I don’t have much to write about. Yet this space is supposed to be “finding beauty + grace in the ordinary + imperfect.” So for me to think that life just seems too ordinary to write about is exactly missing the point – that the reason I began blogging in the first place was to record the wonder of the every day. To force myself to focus on the daily glory and grace that are flooding in, if only I have eyes to notice.

So in neglecting writing, I have kept myself from reflecting on life. Without further ado, here is a snapshot of what feels ordinary and certainly imperfect … but I record it in order to help myself (and you as well?) find the beauty and grace in it.

  • I work a traditional “9-to-5” as a litigation paralegal in my dad’s medical malpractice law firm. This constitutes the majority of my waking hours and it’s my weekday normal. Working for my dad and his partners in this field of medical malpractice (MedMal for short) has been like learning a new language. I am not medically trained at all, and yet a majority of my job has been reviewing, organizing, and making sense of medical records. Add to that the legal world of motions and hearings and objections and stipulated evidence – and it really has been a whole new world for me.
  • My husband is a full-time Ph.D. student, studying long-distance to get his doctorate in Christian Education from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) outside of Chicago. He is also the major home support – greets our daughters after school each day and keeps our home running (laundry, dishes, bills, etc.).
  • Our twin daughters are now in second grade. They have homework every day, and they’re reading up a storm. They love their school and their friends and their books.  We enjoy playing games as a family and riding bikes and going on hikes.
  • We are members of a sweet church-plant in downtown Greenville that loves the arts, the addicted, the poor, the adopted, and best of all, the gospel of grace. It has been a good season for us to simply be involved in a church as a family instead of leading a church.
  • Challenges that I wrestle with in this season include:  how to slow down time because it really seems like our daughters are growing up way too quickly; how to encourage our daughters to love one another with kindness instead of sibling squabbles; how to make the most of the limited time (nights + weekends) I have with family and friends; setting different expectations in this season of full-time work/husband in full-time school; finding time for reflection (and writing!).

I think part of the reason I haven’t written in awhile is that this season of life has been so very different for all of us. I haven’t known how to talk about my job as a litigation paralegal when my identity/platform/calling was previously as a counselor in the local church (for a decade). So much of my writings were a combination of insights/reflections from life as a counselor who was also a pastor’s wife and a part-time stay-at-home-mama of twin preschoolers. My life and roles now are just quite different. I’m the full-time working parent in our home currently; I’m the wife of a Ph.D. student; I’m the mama of elementary age girls who are increasingly independent (as it should be). They don’t even have to rely on me to read to them anymore – what a change that is!

And then the other reason is this stubborn, persistent struggle with burnout and depression over the past few years. I’m not sure I’ll ever write all about that in as public a space as this blog – yet I am willing to share more if it would help others. I’ve been through places of darkness that I did not know were possible to come out of, and yet God has brought me out through the Light of His grace as it shone through His people and His word. After years of pedal-to-the-medal going-going-going in every direction (home, church, career, writing) – I just couldn’t go any further. And I stopped. Fairly abruptly. And for much longer than I would have chosen. Depression was a source of the burnout as much as it was a consequence of the burnout.

Yet in all of the ups and downs of the past few years … and in all the very ordinariness of our current day-to-day … this verse is one I cherish. And I end tonight’s post with this, making it my prayer for you to know this, too, wherever your day-to-day life finds you these days:

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)

Five Minute Friday: hidden

It’s been a good albeit long week of summer. We watched a summer movie ($1 at Regal), shopped for school shoes (already!), I had an interview on the Debbie Chavez show, we played at the pool a lot and did a lot of indoor activities trying to stay cool during a sweltering week. Today I take a break and return to the blog, joining in Five Minute Friday.

Five Minute Friday is my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description draws me back every week, and the community of FMF keeps me writing – “This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”

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Hidden holds intrigue and promise, like a buried treasure waiting to be found. It’s a new life blooming within a mother’s womb. A long cherished love that awaits the right time to be expressed.

Hidden is also shame-tinged. It’s where I store my latest failure – bolted, safe, secure, for no one to see. If you’ve been abused, you know the burden of a hidden secret.

Hidden is good or bad, depending on what it is we are hiding and why. If it’s the latter – the long-buried secret – it needs the light for healing and freedom. Those sorts of burdens aren’t meant to stay hidden and borne alone. Speak about it with someone safe. Feel the burden begin to lighten.

If it’s the first – the type of hidden that’s like a treasure waiting to be found – I can think of no better analogy for what the Bible calls us children of God: “hidden with Christ in God.” We are God’s treasured ones, kept close and precious. Our glory is waiting to be revealed. 

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a Thanksgiving meditation

As you go into the day in which we all pause and give thanks, where we eat bountiful feasts and celebrate God’s provision, I offer you a meditation and a prayer. A prayer that also acknowledges that this day/season too often also becomes an occasion for thanks-shaming (why don’t I feel more grateful for all that I’ve been given? why don’t these people I’m at table with seem more grateful for me or me for them?).

thanksgiving image

photo credit: jennaburger.com

May I have eyes to see the beauty around me, hidden though it might be beneath layers of chaos and criticism and busyness and family dynamics and guilt and shame.

May I lift my gaze to what is good in my life, for there is always something good – even the darkest of nights can be illuminated by a pinprick of light, like a star bursting through the black canvas of of a night sky.

May I have tastebuds to taste and see and relish and delight in the goodness of the Lord who provides. And if I can’t, may I pray to have my tastebuds changed – attuned to what is truly good – even if it means spiritual junk food must be jettisoned, or that I must step away from what dulls my senses (or whom).

May I practice giving thanks on Thanksgiving as a day of focused practice on noticing what I’ve been given. For I have been given so much.

And in giving thanks, may I see those with whom I am asked to share my abundance. May I see the poor, the marginalized, the orphaned, the widowed, and (even/especially) the ones at my own table who are lonely and carrying sorrows in isolation. May I create a space for them with whatever I’ve been given.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: dance

I’m back for Five Minute Friday, my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description is perfect:

“This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”

Today’s prompt is “dance.”

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ballerinasI turn on my favorite music to keep us company as we do the mundane task of transforming mounds of laundry into neat and organized piles sorted by type and owner.

She begins twirling, pirouetting, practicing her newly learned ballet steps. “Mommy, look at this!” Her twin sister joins her, and what was previously ordinary is now transformed into a dance performance worthy of a stage. My husband and I smile at the privilege of being the audience to such a play. They grab their blue leotards and ballet shoes and their dance takes new levels as they sway and spin and leap and laugh.

Soon we are mesmerized. Transfixed by their art and spontaneity and, in a word, glory.

Did you know that people who experience awe 2-3 times a day are more emotionally and physically healthy than those who don’t? We have much to learn from those who haven’t lost the wonder and awe of the ordinary, found in the mundane.

I who so easily stress and grow anxious and worried and bothered about too many things – I need them as much as they need me. They bring me back to what’s important, drawing my eyes above to their Creator who delights in them and me with an unending love eager to be interrupted to watch my dance. 

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