Refreshing Hearts One Sentence At A Time
I started this entry earlier this week, struggling with the silence of naptime, the unguarded curiosity of “what if…” and a flinging of worries into the air. Daily there’s a myriad of thoughts that guide me toward trusting God, loving my life, and doing the most that I can. And as my workout instructor and friend keeps reiterating, “Just when you think you can’t do any more, go further. You can do it.” That’s been the way of the rollercoaster this week. Flat tires, hot days, and giggles at the kitchen table.
Recently I was out-of-pocket, teaching a theatre camp for two weeks. And while mama was gone, the children did certainly play. It took a week to regain my balance at home, and I’m just beginning to get this place cleaned up again and back on a schedule. But in those days following camp I was out of sorts and bewildered. Floundering. That word came to mind several times. Recall if you will the scene from “Ever After” where the king tells his son “It seemed that you were…well…floundering…” in his thick French accent. I was, and still quite am, in over my head in what it is to be a stay-at-home mom…or to even just be an adult. It is often underwhelming, lonely, and quiet. It is also often loud, stressful and chaotic. It too is full of laughter, dancing, snuggles, rich moments, and crayons. And there is always, always, laundry.
And then there is the absence during naptimes or in the quiet of the evening after the storm of vitamins, bath time, cleanup, and two books, just two books tonight, has passed. It’s that time when One Tree Hill is over and there’s nothing good on tv, when I sit down at my computer and something feels -- off. Last week I expressed some of this to my husband and he said I need to find out what I want to have as a goal for myself and then make it happen. I want to publish a book? Make it happen. I want to teach a class? Do it. I want to coordinate a ministry for moms next fall? Start a list. Want to design websites and graphics? Send an email. Want to read books, scrapbook, lose 20 pounds, finish off the Oreos, save for a trip to Cancun, cook the best dinners in the county, learn to play drums, get rid of all the boxes of junk in the closet, trim the hedges, cultivate an organic garden on the balcony, write movie scripts, or film a tv series? Then do it.
And I look at my cluttered desk and wonder what the heck I’m doing. A few weeks ago a friend said a passing statement of, “It seems like you can do anything, and you do it well.” It’s a sweet comment and has kind of gotten me by the last few weeks, and I wish it were true. I don’t know if it is. I do a lot of things, and I do them more than halfway, but I get to that point in the game where you either finish or start something new, and the habit seems to be that I move on to something new. This works with recipes, book clubs, coloring books, and playdough. It often works with chores, sports, or workout programs. But it lends to acquiring a large amount of junk, leftovers, and an inordinate amount of extra files on the computer.
It’s fun to try new things, to spice up the daily routine a bit. If I couldn’t spice up my days, I think I’d go crazy. Or maybe I am just slowly going crazy…..regardless, my husband and I talked about really making it a goal to accomplish something that is on The List. You know The List. I have several things on my list, and it seems like other people are getting there ahead of me. Then I begin to run around feeling like I’m a hamster on a spinning wheel. I know it’s important to be a good mom, and that being a stay-at-home is definitely a full time job on its own. It really is. And if I were better at it, then I wouldn’t have sticky floors or dust mites. Right? I do, however, think the toilet makes its own mess on purpose and I’m going to lecture it later today.
The issue is that being a full-time mom, an entrepreneur, an organizer, divides the time up so that there’s little left for dream achieving. Charlie said I should get rid of the extra stuff that isn’t part of the big dream and let it rest. I think he’s right. If I’m always working on websites or logos, then when am I going to write? And if in those times when I want to write I instead clean or plan meals, then when will a book be created? It’s just not. And then everyone else who somehow makes the time will get published and Hastings and Amazon will fill up with other people’s words, worlds, and ideas, and they will be heard and I will be sitting alone staring at my bowl of ice cream, wondering what the heck happened.
To top it off, I sat down to write today and the words didn’t come. The blank screen was daunting, a manifestation of vacancy glaring up at me. I have a storyline. I just don’t know that I’m very good at fiction. I have the time, but it feels so precious that I want to fill it with…I don’t even know. A great option would be to have “office hours” for writing. But that ain’t happenin’ any time soon.
So we utilize naptimes and bedtimes and other times in between.
And as other dreams come true for other people, the challenge is to be genuinely happy for them. To find the victory in every day. To see that what may appear as a boring, drab, or simple life is filled with quiet smiles, sweet words of encouragement, and thoughtful photographs of these lettuce years. I read that analogy in a book and continue mulling over its meaning. Like, lettuce is short-lived and wilts soon so enjoy it while it is green? That lettuce is a good base food to eat, full of nutrients, as a life-sustaining foundation? Is that mediocrity, to enjoy what you have while you have it? Or is it contentment? What if you want to enjoy it but find your emotions hurtling through a vacuum during naptime?
That’s the problem with my genes. We’re good at finding fault with any situation. So being overcommitted is frustrating, and so is down time. It’s a ridiculous cycle: Learning To Overcome Your Genes. That’s the next blog topic. Ha. Not really.
And it’s riding that cycle that is difficult -- through the unknowns of the future, as homes crumble and fade, as cars break down, and as relationships blur into the distance. Across time, space, and a swiftly tilting planet. To make those dreams happen, to make the space into a home, to be in the moments while they are here; that’s the challenge; that’s the win. The win is going further when you want to quit, or bury your head in the sheets, or to just put the stroller back in the car and go home.
We adults, we mamas, we people, need so much strength today. There are little heads to cradle, impatient drivers behind us, and an Unknown swathing our minds in a sometimes dreary darkness.
But we read this: “Can anyone hide in secret places
so that I cannot see him?”
declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord…. “Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
“and not a God far away? (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
Not alone. Not in this apartment, town, state, country, globe, galaxy. Sometimes we find our dreams when all the junk is stripped away. You know, when your heart is kind of torn in two and between deciding whether to give up or get out of bed, you are given an idea that gives you hope. I’ll be honest to say that the very first thought I have in the morning is nothing like, “Today is the day I accomplish my dreams,” or “Writing is my task today and I will do it!”
It’s usually something along the lines of, “Whose little feet are kicking me?!” or “What’s that noise? Wow Wow Wubzy is stupid annoying!” or “I really should have gotten the coffee ready last night.” But beyond the mist of hazy dreams and waking moments, there is some kind of motivating factor that hangs on, whispering in the quiet that there’s a reason for these sunny days, for the words we think, and for the sloughing off of our old selves. Old lives make way for new dreams.
I know I’m not alone in this need for something more. I know I’m not alone as I try to figure out what I’m reaching for.
There is a place where words fail. There is a place where our tears fall uninterrupted; there is a place that is so dark the light doesn’t dare venture near. And the older we get, the bigger this dark land grows, where colors fade and outlines blur. It is there where we can’t necessarily see, feel, or hear our Hope but believe he can get us out and back to the sunlight, away from the rocky shores. He is there when home burns away, when old ideas are insufficient, and there’s nobody on whom to unleash the frustration. He sometimes takes us a direction we didn’t know about, or further along into the darkness to get us through to a brighter morning. Sometimes you can’t go back. Sometimes people leave. Sometimes dreams are dashed to pieces.
Just when you think you can’t go any further, keep going.
Sweat it off, tear it down, start over. Put down the rugged fragments of splintered hopes and pick up a pen. Somewhere down the line you may write a book that changes a stranger’s life so much she names her daughter after you, 20 years after you are dead. We can’t always see our dreams taking shape, can’t always see lives affected by our touch.
I don’t live in Mediocity. Yes, the Starbucks closed but the local talent makes a killer Snickers coffee.
So make that new recipe. Compile your stories. Chart your course. Buy material. Put on your tennis shoes. Make a list. Turn on your computer. Pack your boxes. Plot the stars. Call her. Send an email. Find an agent. Dive in.
We are not alone, not simply strands of atoms floating in the cosmos. We are not mediocre if we try. We are not mediocre, even if others achieve our dreams before we do. We are arranged, placed, carried, and held closely within a firm grasp. There is always a home for children of the true King, even when we can’t see it. That’s what gives us these dreams, to perform the tasks prepared for us. These dreams are magnificent, boundless, and weighty. Our time counts for the time that we have been given.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
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