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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Five Minute “Friday”: help

I love this weekly writing exercise/community, and I return after a few months’ absence. Because it’s always there waiting. And it’s *only* five minutes.

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.”

helpIt’s a word that can save a life. But I find it almost impossible to utter. It feels so, well, helpless. Who needs help in my self-sufficient world? I’m doing just fine, thank you.

Except when I’m not. Like tonight when one of my 5-year-olds defied me in front of her grandparents, and I messed it up. I was angry and frustrated and overwhelmed and out of my league. I was also ashamed for my daughter’s behavior in front of her grandparents and my response in front of them, too. Why couldn’t I just have said, “help, please”?

It’s a lie that as a parent I can do it all and be it all for my kids. But it’s a lie we all deceive ourselves into living by more often than not.

I wonder if this false stigma with the word “help” is what contributed to the tragic death in our church community of a mother and daughter two years ago today. Afterwards, we all expressed the sentiment – “If only she’d asked for help …” We all wished we could have jumped in. But how many of us would have been willing to ask for that help if we had been in her shoes? On my hardest, darkest day of parenting, it took all I had in me to finally, finally text my trusted friend and neighbor with the simplest of requests – “Will you help? I need a hug and I can’t deal with bedtime tonight.” She was over within minutes, and I felt simultaneously grateful and humbled. 

It’s the hardest, best thing in the world to ask for help. Because we know there’s One eager to help us when we ask. And He’s sent people into our lives who are as eager to assist us as we are to give them a hand when needed.

So do you need to ask for help? Don’t delay. Help is on its way.

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If you find yourself to be entertaining thoughts or ideas of suicide in particular do not hesitate to ask for help. If you’re not sure where to turn, contact the crisis text line by texting “GO” to 741741 or call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: morning

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.”

So I come this afternoon to write – feeling a bit rusty, and knowing that it is these very days where writing is necessary. For a writer without writing is like a fish out of water. And I am a writer who needs to write. Join me?

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I never was much of a morning person, and that’s an understatement if there ever was one. You only need to ask any member of my family to verify its truth.

But now. Maybe it’s growing older; certainly it’s having less of a choice about the matter since becoming a parent; now – there is nothing I love more than a fresh, beautiful morning.

The day is a blank slate yet to be written. Yesterday’s foibles and sins are wiped clean – “new morning mercies” is what I love to remind my children and myself of after a particularly difficult day. Sunlight streams in as the sun peeks above the horizon; and the birds greet the dawning of a new day.

Last week my husband and I traveled to the Caribbean to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and I can say that (unlike our honeymoon 10 years ago) mornings were my favorite part. The sunlight breaking over the aquamarine horizon, palm branches filtering rays of light, lush green grass sparkling. God inviting his children to play. To come out – to wake up – and delight in the day that he had created. 

And isn’t this just as true even hundreds of miles away? When we’ve traded in palm branches waving in the breeze for barren branches shaking in the wintry wind? We still need – and are assured of – God’s love dawning with each morning’s light.

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Five Minute Friday: limit

Five Minute Friday is especially perfect if you, like me, find any of the following true of you: (a) Not sure what to write about or where to start today (or this week/month), (b) Struggle against demons of perfectionism when you do write – wanting it to be “perfect” before releasing it to the world, and/or (c) Want to practice the courage of overcoming (a) and/or (b) in a safe and supportive community.

Join me today?

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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I kick against a limit, assuming that it’s meant to keep me from abundance.

The truth is that my limits are pleasant boundary lines, a fence outlining the abundant pasture I’ve been given to explore.

(And there is more than enough to satisfy me here in this verdant pastures – Psalm 23.)

fence

photo source here

Limits are sometimes-painful reminders of my humanity, my sin, and/or my stage of life. I was talking to a friend just this week about how hard it is for her/me/us to live within our God-given limits of this season of mothering young preschool-age children. We vacillate between trying to do it all/be it all to our children and our families – and getting burned out because we don’t realize the limits here. Limits like – I can’t keep answering non-stop questions of curious 5-year-olds all day and then also be smiling and cheerfully pitching in to help with bath and bedtime each night alongside my husband AND then have lots of energy left to engage him and the tasks left on the to-do list I’ve set aside in order to focus and connect with my kids. NOR can I try to be engaged in my community, my work, my hobbies, my artistic pursuits wholeheartedly the way I did before I had kids to care for. (Nor the way I hope to return to this when they are out of the house for a longer school day, or in college, or beyond …).

Limit feels like discipline but creates freedom. Freedom to rest in what I’ve been given. Freedom to believe that the One who gives it to me is good and desires to delight me and fulfill me. Even (or especially) within these limits.

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five minute friday (returns): first

It’s been too long since I last joined in “Five Minute Friday.” Here’s a description, by way of reminder:

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.”

Join me today? A perfect *first* post if you, like me, find that it’s 8 days into the new year and you haven’t blogged yet in 2016. !!

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First. The word can bring tears to my eyes. Tears of joy because isn’t it this “first love” that God has for us what allows any of us to love Him or anyone else in return? 

“First” stands in line ahead of a string of days in a year that still feels fresh, not as marred by pain and weariness as last year certainly was for me/us.

“First” can also be proud and gallant. And it crushes me to know that as a firstborn, it can too often become my modus operandi in relationships of all kinds. What makes me a good leader can cause me to be a difficult one to lead.

So this year – I want it to be the first year where I learn to lead by letting others go first. I want to be the first to listen, the first to apologize, the first to take “the low place.” It would be a good corrective for my life of pushing ahead and pushing others aside.

First – all of this is only possible because there is a God who loved me first. Who set aside his rights and took the low place – the vulnerable place – the place of clothing himself in the strength that seems counter-intuitive. A strength that calls us to “seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will come” – a Kingdom characterized by its leader who took the place of a humble baby, then a servant who washed feet, and a sacrifice in our place. Because he was showing us how to love – and empowering us to love and keep loving first by putting ourselves last.

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Sneak preview for coming posts: 

  • List of top 10 favorite books read in 2015 (last year’s post here)
  • Word of the year (2015: focus)

I hope you’ll stop back by soon! 

Five Minute “Friday”: weary

I hear sirens screaming through our city streets, but I think nothing of them. Or very little. They’re likely rushing to a minor car accident, or someone set off a fire alarm.

But in Paris – what many thought were fireworks at first became the background to scenes of horror as their fabled city was simultaneously attacked by terrorists in multiple locations. It shakes us to the core in the Western world. For we live isolated and cocooned from the reign of terror that is normative in the Middle East.

And I am weary from it all. I am weary for the inevitable tragedy and trauma that is expected in our lives. Yes, terrorist attacks of this magnitude still (and should) shock us, but there is part of me that says – oh, of course. But to carry the weight of the fears of what ifs? That is what has made me most weary in the past.

Instead, I choose to cast my cares on the one who cares for me (Jesus).

I choose to take on his light burden and easy yoke in exchange for my hard one of trying-too-hard-to-be-self-sufficient.

I choose to fall hard in the arms of a Savior who will catch me, comfort me, hold me – hold all of us as we grow weary of our burdens and those of the world.

And how is he already doing this? Through you, my friends and community. You remind me that weary is ok – because it is the very first step of being supported, refreshed, strengthened. 

***

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.”

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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Five Minute Friday: “same”

It’s ironic that this week’s writing prompt is “same” after a week that’s been anything but same. My daughters turned 5-years-old on Tuesday and also began pre-K for the year. Our family has a whole new schedule now since they’re attending five days a week. I feel like I can breathe again and get to a few projects I’ve been putting off all summer, like purging KonMari style.

For today, I write. Join us?

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At the beginning of motherhood, it was the repetitive nature of “same” that squelched my soul. Feed, pump, sleep, repeat. Every day felt like the movie “Groundhog Day,” which is exactly the same day on repeat. As much as we all appreciate same, we count on each day to be distinguished in some way. Not for all of them to run together. Even the most rigid of us don’t really want “same” day-in and day-out.

We want the newborns to grow up and begin talking, walking, and eating independently. We want our spouses to change in the areas that bug us. I want to get rid of bad habits that have been the same for far too long.

And yet same can also be an anchor. There are things in life we count on to be the same, and if they are shaken, so are we.

photo credit: theatlantic.com

photo credit: theatlantic.com

Fourteen years ago to this day, 9/11 interrupted the “same” monotony we were dwelling in as Americans and told us life would never be the same. And not only for those immediately impacted by the twin towers’ fall, but all of us all over America. Somehow the illusion of safety under which we lived shattered. At least for our generation who had not known the devastation of either World War.

In a world where so much is shaken, we need “the same.” But change is inevitable, both in seasons and in relationships. How can we adapt to the shifting tides without being overwhelmed by them?

***

A poem I wrote in 2007 upon reflection on 9/11 –

“remembering 9/11”

Before:
innocence,
naivety,
impenetrable defense,
children playing happily in the streets,
businessmen going about their routines,
the Big Apple buzzing with activity
Unaware

Until
the unthinkable occurred
we were attacked by terrorists
Here.
Not “over there”
the towers fell
our proud self-confidence with them

After:
suspicion,
paranoia,
the fear of attack,
danger lurks on every corner
wives grieve, children fear
that today he might disappear
terror enters the American dream
National security?
Now exposed as a myth
(or a political ideal).

Five Minute Friday: “yes”

Diving right into Five Minute Friday today with this week’s prompt of “yes.” Read more about Five Minute Friday at Kate Motaung’s blog, who hosts this weekly gathering/writing.

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Every yes entails a thousand “no’s.” So I want to make my yes count. Saying no and drawing boundaries gets a lot of press these days, yet I wonder if that’s because we don’t rightly know how to say yes?

Yes to healthy.

Yes to good.

Yes to valuable.

Yes to our gifts and talents and small, specific callings.

Yes to those we profess to love the most.

Yes to what our souls need instead of what our worlds demand of us.

Yes to love.

Yes to grace.

Yes to embracing what’s true and life-giving.

Yes to the path of life.

Yes to the One who said “yes” to me through agonized cries on a hill called Golgotha.

Yes to resurrection life because of God’s “yes and Amen” in Christ.

Yes to freedom.

Yes to getting messy for good causes.

Yes to engaging social injustice of our day.

Yes to quiet and rest.

Yes to slow and calm.

Yes to an unplanned day or hour or week.

Yes to good books and life-refreshing friends.

What’s your yes?

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Five Minute Friday: alone

Wow. What a week it’s been! We celebrated 9 years of marriage by buying bikes together and then hitting the boardwalk for an evening ride. My gift to my husband was the turned in manuscript of my first book that I’ve been working on since January. It’s now in the hands of Crossway for further revisions and edits (release date of June 2016). We are preparing for school’s start in less than two weeks, which is also the day that the twins turn 5. Lots going on, for sure, so I have been more absent from blogging than usual.

Five Minute Friday brings me back. It’s easy to jump back in, and so here I go. Today’s word prompt: alone.

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image from space2live.net

image from space2live.net

I used to hate it – the feeling of being by myself, of being alone. I did anything to avoid it. Lots of people all the time. Dating for constant companionship. Ministry involvement. Alone felt terrifying because I wasn’t sure who I was, or that I wanted to know who I was. Alone felt lost.

Now I crave alone time. Likely a function of being surrounded by little people, which I have been for the better part of five years now. But it’s also reflective of a comfort with who I am, with who God has made me and who God is making me to be. Alone is a chance to let the thoughts and opinions of others quiet down. Alone is when I write. Alone frees me to bring the bare emotions of my soul to Jesus, and to let him sort them out from there. Alone strengthens my heart to be with people; it fills me with something to offer other than an empty craving for their approval. 

Alone is good, in moderation. I can over-desire alone and isolate myself, forgetting the beauty of connection in community. But at its best – alone enriches me and makes me properly appreciate relationships.

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