a snapshot of the glorious 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)

summer book report: a trio of “ordinary” books, part 1

Summer is almost over. By that I mean we are two weeks and a few days away from day one of back to {pre}school! The summer has been good, in the way that hard things are ultimately good for you or that vegetables are good for your health. There were many days that felt like I was merely slogging through, like the long, hot days mid-summer when spring was a memory and fall a distant dream. My main tasks were (1) parenting my twin four-year-old daughters and (2) revising the manuscript for my first book to be released early summer 2016 on shame.  These are mutually exclusive tasks. No multi-tasking possible, and it was hard to feel distracted by one when seeking to do the other. Both tasks are also quite ordinary and a bit mundane. It is absolutely an unexpected and incredible opportunity to be writing a book but that doesn’t make editing sentences and punctuation any more glamourous. And, yes, being at home with my kids can be “the best hardest job in the world” when we’re having a blast at the beach or they’re being super-sweet, but these same kids still need to sleep, and get their clothes dirty every day, and occasionally (wink, wink) do not listen to my instructions.

My husband took a mission trip to Japan with our church in early July. He came back with stories of watching God at work in another culture and great pictures of Japanese sushi and Mt. Fuji. While happy for him, I felt a bit left behind like I usually do when he gets to have what I think of as “great frontline experiences” while I am manning the homefront.

But, oh, how good it is for me who can be so prideful and self-sufficient and self-everything to have to learn the hidden work of ordinary! And I was not left without guides, which came in the form of three books I read this summer.

Ordinary by Michael Horton called me to reexamine my definition and methods of success and happiness with the idea that the most important change toward Christ-likeness often happens in the most “ordinary” ways. It’s not only or primarily the mountain-top experiences that build faith, but the day-in, day-out challenge of faithfulness to where God’s placed me today. A few of the many quotes I underlined:

Even more than I’m afraid of failure, I’m terrified by boredom. Facing another day, with ordinary callings to ordinary people all around us is much more difficult than chasing my own dreams that I have envisioned for the grand story of my life.

This is not a call to do less, but to invest in things that we often give up on when we don’t see an immediate return.

When I find my justification in Christ alone, I am free to love and serve others in ordinary and unheralded ways.

Instead of mounting up to heaven in self-righteous ambition, we reach out to those who are right under our nose each day who need something that we have to offer.

We do not find success by trying to be successful or happiness by trying to be happy. Rather, we find these things by attending to the skills, habits, and — to be honest — the often dull routines that make us even modestly successful at anything. If you are always looking for an impact, a legacy, and success, you will not take the time to care for the things that matter.

It is precisely because of this extraordinary hope [of glorification in Christ], therefore, that we can embrace the ordinary lives God gives us here and now.

That’ll preach, as they say back where I grew up in the South. It’ll preach meaning and purpose to you as you’re doing dishes and picking up shoes and clothes of the little people or big people in your house. It’ll preach as you faithfully complete the spreadsheet and budget review and as you reply to emails and answer phone calls. It’ll preach to you and me every day of our lives actually. For ordinary will be part of each day we live, and God is at work right in the midst of these tasks. What hope that is for today!

Next up – A Loving Life by Paul Miller, coming your way in the next few days.