Inspire · Live & Reflect

Space to dream.

Inspiration has been hard to come by these days.  If I’m honest, it’s been hard to come by for the last few years.

Why?

Well, the easy answer would be that it’s been hard to even try to survive these last seven months, let alone the last week because I’m now the mama of an spritely, observant, impatient, but absolutely adorable baby girl.  Daydreaming is a luxury.

But I think there might be more layers to that onion.

I think it’s significant that these wisps of inspiration are coming in the middle of one of the most disorienting lifestyle transitions I’ve had to make so far.  My entrance into motherhood has been a constant battle of dying to myself.  And to make it harder, I haven’t been dying to myself without a fight.  And to make it worse, I haven’t really realized how stubborn I’ve been about needing to die to myself until recently.

Last month I led a retreat for my students and participated in one of the listening prayer exercises with them.  It was based on Ezekiel 37, and one of the prayer prompts was to see if you knew what the dry bones in the valley we were picturing ourselves in represented.  At first I thought the dry bones I saw were the remains of my concerted efforts; my mistakes in life.  But then I sensed they were something a little more specific – they were my concerted efforts to make myself comfortable.  Things that I held on to so tightly that they died.  They were bones that represented all of the ways I was putting my trust in things other than God.

So I think God is stirring something anew and breathing new life into these dry bones – not for the sake of my own comfort, but for the sake of bringing glory to His name.

During the holidays Nathan, Isabel, and I were making our way back north to our families from a visit to the south.  At all of our stops, we basically walked around historic neighborhoods, ate yummy food, and went to hipster coffee places (side note: Just to be clear, I don’t claim to be a real coffee drinker because I basically only like it if it’s got lots of sugar in it, but I often look forward to seeing what kind of yummy fare and space they have instead).  On our way out of Baltimore, Maryland, we stopped at Artifact Coffee.

And that’s when it happened.

When we walked in and looked around, I was absolutely in awe.  The space was one that I wished was my own to share with others – it was rustic, but classy, a bit hipster but also homey.  I felt welcomed and excited to be there.

I have been so entrenched in a state of feeling unmotivated to pursue anything with much effort for some time now that in that very moment I realized I was without a doubt inspired.  I simultaneously couldn’t remember the last time I felt that way.

Maybe it sounds really dumb or commonplace to you, but for me, it was invigorating.  Of course, every day is still hard and even though I recognize my stubbornness to die to myself more and more, I still struggle with it in the moment – especially when my 7-month-old is crying simply because she’s on her tummy and doesn’t want to be anymore.

But that moment of inspiration was enough to give me a little space to dream about things that could be.  Maybe it was a moment the size of a mustard seed, but we know what God can do with little mustard seeds 🙂

Advertisements
Live & Reflect

Stability.

I was talking with a colleague about a workshop we were working on together, and somehow the topic of ‘stability’ came up.  He said that he perceived my life to be an extremely stable one, and I found that to be an odd comment since I considered my life to be pretty unstable right now, so I asked him to tell me more about that.

We discovered that we defined stability in different ways – he perceived stability through the capacity to ‘take a hit,’ frequently through the lens of finances; and I perceived stability as a pattern of predictability, creating the capacity to develop plans and a sense of constancy/dependability, frequently through the lens of time.

After thinking about this conversation, I was curious what the dictionary would say about its definition, so here’s what it said:

[stey-buh l] 
adjectivestabler, stablest.
1. not likely to fall or give way, as a structure, support, foundation, etc.; firm; steady.
2. able or likely to continue or last; firmly established; enduring or permanent: a stable government.
3. resistant to sudden change or deterioration:  A stable economy is the aim of every government.
4. steadfast; not wavering or changeable, as in character or purpose;dependable.
5. not subject to emotional instability or illness; sane; mentally sound.

Of course, I think we’re both right to an extent – it’s just a slightly different way of viewing stability.  But thinking about stability as the capacity to ‘take a hit’ and stay firm or steady made me think about what’s been frustrating me or what I’ve been longing for since giving birth to Isabel…or rather my whole life.

Live & Reflect

New mercies every morning.

Isabel is now 3 months old, and one thing that the Lord has been putting before me as a motif throughout this postpartum season has been the fact that each day I get a chance to start fresh.  No matter how the day has gone, whether it started off rocky or got messy in the middle or the evening ended up being just okay, God’s mercies would be new the next day.

God’s mercies are new every morning.

As someone who grew up in a Christian home, this phrase has always washed over me.  It was something I heard all the time and knew in my head that it was true, and was so familiar with it that I didn’t even know from what part of the Bible the phrase came from.  So I looked it up:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

–Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Ah, Lamentations.  What an appropriate book for this phrase to come from.  I didn’t know how I would feel when Isabel was first born and how that might change over time.  I had heard/read that it could take some time to bond with your baby, but I had also heard that parents can feel such an overwhelming joy that they had never experienced before, and that they can’t imagine life without their little one.

I feel like I’ve been somewhere in between.

For one thing, I felt immense relief when Isabel was born.  I was both tired and excited to meet this new little person.  And since then, I’ve been a bit all over the map.  For a recovering perfectionist like me, it’s especially hard as a first time mama to figure out how to thrive or even survive when you’re not sure how to communicate with this little person and she doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

There are days where I feel like I’ve messed up over and over and over again.  I constantly have to apologize to Isabel when I don’t know what she needs, telling her that Mama’s doing her best.  Not only do I often feel as though I’m failing Isabel as a mother, but I often find myself failing as a wife in the process.  I constantly need to ask Nathan for forgiveness because I’ve taken my frustration out on him, or am resentful about him not serving me the way I want him to.  I have to really stretch myself to ask him for help when I don’t want to in order to take care of our family.

Each day is a breach into the unknown, and each day seems to be filled to the brim with worries that re-open like old wounds and facing my inadequacies as a human being, with a sprinkling of hope and joy.

But that’s the beauty of receiving new mercies every morning.

After looking up the Lamentations 3 passage, I thought it was appropriate that verse 23 ends with, “great is your faithfulness.”  Again, it’s a hymn that is well-known but has not meant as much to me as it does now.  The last verse and chorus particularly resonate with me in this season:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see!
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided –
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” Lord, unto me.