Monthly Archives: May 2011

It’s (Almost) Grateful June!

So, I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s blog a lot lately. I’ve known about her blog for more than a year but never really made a commitment to faithfully reading it until now. And I’ve been missing out.

Her voice is lyrical, her pictures are stunning. (Sorry I’m so lame with no pictures around here, people. But photography is not my special gift.) Her first book was published several months ago. I haven’t read it yet but I bought it for my mom for Mother’s Day. That’s how much confidence I have in Ms. Voskamp.

Her book is called One Thousand Gifts and from what I understand, it’s the story of her journey of gratefulness. What I love about her is commitment to gratefulness in the simplicity of the daily. It’s that calling I’ve talked about several times around here of daring to not “despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).

So, this month we’re joining Ann and all her readers at A Holy Experience and keeping a “Gratitude Calendar.” We’ll talk about it on Thankful Tuesdays throughout June so be ready to share.

Go download the calendar and the weekly gratitude booklet as well (both are listed at the bottom of her post). And let’s fill them up and then tell each other all about the sweetness.

 

Happy Thankful Tuesday! And happy Grateful June!

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Mama admits she’s kind of a crazy person.

We all have our crazy-makers. Mine is email, and phone calls, and thank you notes—basically any communication that I’m expected to follow through on. Sometimes I do alright with those things. I make lists. I set goals: Return four emails before bed!

But sometimes I torture myself. My deepest weakness is a longing to please people. I want to be liked. I want you to not be mad at me. I want to be polite. And so, when an email sits in my inbox for two months, even when my excuse is pretty legit (my baby won’t stay asleep when I lay him down…the time I used to have during August’s naptime is now a distant memory I recall as I’m bouncing a fussy baby), I feel crushing guilt. The unwritten email(s) runs through my mind all day long and if I don’t turn those tortured thoughts into prayer, I become a brain wreck.

So, when Chris came home yesterday to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, a bedroom full of unfolded laundry, and a wife in tears bouncing a crying baby while pretending to be Angelina Ballerina with her almost-three-year-old and all I could say when he walked in the door was: “I just need to return emails! I just need to write thank you notes!” it was all too familiar.

The first time I realized I have a problem with anxiety came when Chris and I were engaged. I’m an ENFP. Planning is not my strong suit. (Making friends with people who I can’t possibly keep in touch with is…) So, I was a total disaster as a wedding planner. I was stressed and I cried every night. (At least that’s how I remember our engagement. Poor Christopher.)

After we were married, when I expected the anxiety to fade into a pretty wedding album, it was still there. This time it was found in email and phone calls. I couldn’t return them. I was paralyzed by the thought of dialing a friend’s number so instead I spent the time I could’ve spent calling crying in my bed, hating myself for the steadily building list of uncalled friends.

When I finally went to therapy, a whole world opened up. It was a freedom to recognize that I was actually kind of a crazy person, not simply a terrible friend. And anxiety is my natural inclination when I don’t believe the truth, when I don’t set boundaries, when I allow my brain to believe that all I am is what I can accomplish.

And so, when Chris came home yesterday and found me in a panicked state, bouncing our baby like some frantic bird, trying to pick toys off August’s floor with my feet, he recognized The Anxiety Monster right away. We sat in our room while I rocked T-Rexy and I said the same thing over and over again: How I didn’t have time, how the people I love don’t think I love them, how a truly grateful person would never let her friends go for months without being told of her gratefulness. Then he told me he loved me, told me he was going to go pick up the world’s best dumplings from Shanghai Dumpling King (which he did). I stuffed my sadness with the incredibly juicy crack-laced pot-stickers, and eventually calmed down. Then we sat on the couch and walked through my 135 unread emails, flagged the ones I needed to return, and set a course of action.

You know what else happened? My husband got up with my kids this morning, fed August, entertained T-Rexy, put T-Rexy back to sleep, and let me sleep until 8.

And, I woke up to the same house, the same reality of my own failures of communication, the same crying children. But I remembered that God loves me and that I don’t have to live all bound up by my mind and my guilt.

Then I made a list.

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How we can help Joplin…

No new thoughts today, friends. But I wanted to point you toward this post at wearethatfamily.com. Over there, Kristen gives a wonderful list of ways we can support those whose lives have been devastated by the tornado this past weekend.

Please take a look at her list:

http://wearethatfamily.com/2011/05/wfmw-how-you-can-help-joplin/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wearethatfamily%2FGaiB+%28We+are+THAT+Family%29

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Just as my mother did…

The Bible is not particularly known for its progressive take on the value and significance of women (though I would argue that Jesus turned that worldview upside down in significant ways…I love that guy).  Honestly, I’m okay with the rarity of women in scripture because when they do show up, they are powerful, smart, and heartbreakingly authentic: Deborah the Judge, Ruth the widow, Rahab the harlot, the Proverbs 31 lady (aka the sickeningly talented businesswoman/mother/wife), Mary the Mother, the Samaritan Woman the believer, Priscilla the friend. They show up, and when they do they steal the show.

Yesterday I came across a woman I’d never met in the scriptures before: King David’s mother. She arrives in Psalm 86 and she gets one-half of a sentence in his psalm: “…save me, because I serve you / just as my mother did.” 

He prays that God will show him mercy because his mother was faithful. I’m so moved by that, and so grateful. We don’t know anything about David’s mother, how she felt when David was anointed, if she cried when she heard news of David defeating Goliath, if she was around to see her child move from country shepherd boy to King of Israel. We don’t know if she taught him to play the harp or taught him the dances he eventually would perform before the Ark of the Covenant.  We don’t know her at all.

But we know something here: She served God. And because of those sweet words written by her son, we have a sense of this woman: the one who engrained in her son’s mind that miracles were possible, that a little boy with a slingshot could defeat an enormous warrior, that a shepherd could become king, that God could defend a nation over and over when the odds were against them. She raised a boy who could fight and write fine poetry (perhaps, one of the greatest poets of all time).

I just finished a study of both letters of Paul to Timothy. And David’s words reminded me of Paul’s words to the young pastor: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois andyour mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).

This is what I love: it’s the same faith. The SAME faith that dwelled in Eunice dwelled in her son as well. The same faith that lived in David’s anonymous mother lived in her son as well. And, somehow, the king believed that in asking for God’s mercy, it might help to remind his God about his mother.

On this Thankful Tuesday I’m grateful that what I’m passing on is more than concepts that I hope my boys will believe. It’s a living organism called faith that can move from generation to generation and grow more alive in each soul that owns it.

Now if I can just get my boys to write about me in their poems…

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Righteousness and Peace

Sunday’s Psalm (day 85) was one I recall reading sometime in late high school, early college. (I’m sure I could find the journal where I dramatically applied the words to my love life, but I’ll spare us all that.) What I remember is reading Psalm 85 and thinking it was so beautiful: righteousness and peace being in love with one another, not being able to keep their hands (or at least their lips) off each other…

As I write this tonight I’m tired and am wishing I had some deep meaningful insights to share with you. I wish I had more anecdotes to share from my life than potty training drama and baby sleep issues. I wish I could always be clever and funny and full of dramatic, wonderful stories or deep spiritual insights. But, the truth is, all I have to say today is that I really like the idea that righteousness and peace are little smoochers..

Righteousness isn’t a word we use much in our everyday lives. Maybe we’d say “virtuous” or “honorable”. And we all know how difficult it is to live up to either of those character traits. So, I thought about righteousness and peace together and began to wonder: How do I apply this to my life? Is peace more likely to show up in our lives when we’re virtuous? Is there some correlation?

That’s when I had a mini-epiphany. I realized that (shockingly!) this passage isn’t about us at all. It’s not about our morality or our control. It’s about the God who is going to “restore us again.”

The Psalmist says: “I will listen to what the Lord says. / He promises peace to his people… Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, / that his glory may dwell in our land.” It’s only after we’re rescued, after we hear that his salvation is on its way, that righteousness and peace have their kissy-face moment.

It’s not our righteousness. It’s not our peace. It’s God’s. He does the rescuing. He provides the righteousness. He offers the peace.

It’s Monday. And I think we all might need to hear that.

Mwah! (That’s a kiss sound, people.) —

Micha

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A Bigger Story

“When you see your home as a missional outpost, your role as a mother becomes clearer: to prepare and release the people inside for a lifetime of participating in God’s mission to the world.”

-Helen Lee, The Missional Mom

 

It’s a grand idea, this belief that what I’m doing in the drudge of life with a baby and a toddler is part of a much bigger narrative, one I’m playing a role in and they’re playing a role in as well. It’s a story of the restoration of a broken world. And right now, in this season, my role is clearly defined. It consists of wiping bottoms, wiping spit-up, washing clothes, bouncing baby, rocking baby, tickling toddler, disciplining toddler, reading story after story after story, playing pretend, making sandwiches, making dinner, cleaning dishes, eating lunch standing up at 3 in the afternoon (after everyone is finally sleeping), and singing songs. And, sometimes, in the midst of those moments, seeing the people around us: the woman outside of Walgreens Wednesday who asked me for any food I could give her. (August helped me pick out a granola bar.)

This season is sweet and lovely. But it’s also completely consuming in a way motherhood never was before. I owe about a thousand phone calls/emails/facebook messages. Those were all things I once took care of during August’s naptime. Naptime is no longer a time I can accomplish tasks. It’s a time when I eat, nurse and rock a baby. As much as I’m trying to cling to the sweetness of these first months of Brooks’ life, I feel exhausted and I ache for some moment of respite in my day.

I also long for work outside of this work: ministry, creativity, adult conversations that aren’t interrupted every two minutes! I’ve asked here a million times if I’m doing enough in the world: Am I really giving my life away? Am I serving the broken or am I too consumed with my own little Hohorst world to see the reality around me? How do I stretch out of the moment and see the needs that exist? What can I really do? I feel like this time of motherhood is all consuming. (And I think it is.)

And then I read Helen Lee’s words and my clinched up soul relaxes. What if I am serving the Kingdom by shaping these small souls into men who know how to love, how to serve with tenderness and authenticity, how to strive for justice for everyone, how to live out their own callings in God’s mission to the world?

Of course, I’m not insisting that all I’m called to or gifted for is being a mother to my sons. But I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be reminded that all of this life is bigger than this season of my boys’ lives, than my own particular season of motherhood.

I’m a part of the same tapestry you’re in, friend. And we’re all weaving this story.

Some days I notice.

PS I’m reading The Missional Mom with my Mom’s Group at church and am super excited about it. I promise to share more with you about what I’m learning. To find out more about Helen Lee and the book, click here.

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The ache of place

The idea of PLACE sort of blows my mind sometimes. That’s probably a weirdly deep thing to say, like when I say about babies, “It’s so crazy how they don’t exist and then nine months later, they’re, like, a person!!!” Yeah, duh.

(But, doesn’t the baby thing confound you sometimes? The perfection of little fingers and how my milk–that I don’t even know how to make in my head but my body does!–is all T-Rexy needs to have to his life sustained? It’s remarkable.)

That’s how I feel about place. How is it that so many people I love can live far from me? How is it possible that I have spent my life in very separate places and I can’t seem to push them together no matter how much I squeeze them. Syracuse will not sit next to Abilene on any map ever. San Francisco and Philadelphia will always be thousands of miles away from each other.

And yet, my husband can get on a flight on Sunday night, show up in New York on Monday morning, attend a couple of meetings, eat meals with his dad and our dear friend Ray, and somehow show back up at our house in time for dinner and bedtime Tuesday night. It’s extraordinary. And it’s confusing.

We ache for the friends and family we’ve left in every city we’ve touched our feet in, shopped for groceries in, wrote rent checks in, played football with friends in. Each place holds sweetness and ache and prayer.

Sometimes I can’t imagine how separate they all are from one another. How each place we’ve left has remained living, lives going on without us…

Last Friday night the girls I met during their 8th grade year at Radnor Middle School attended their Senior Prom. They were stunning, beautiful. (I know because Cat, who now leads the Young Life ministry I left behind in Philly, texted me pictures of them with their dates.) I sat rocking my baby during August’s naptime and quietly stared at those faces I love. I can’t be there. And, honestly, I believe God has blessed my absence.

But, for all the sweetness of building a new community, there’s the loss of the community I once helped build. I feel it often. And I’m feeling it tonight.

So I ask the question again: What does it mean to be committed to stability, when place is shifty and (painfully!) stuck in the same spot on the map as it always was?

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