In many ways this fall has seemed like a blur and at the same time it has dragged, pulling me along with emotions that I’m still sorting out. The pace of life with five children has been overwhelming and it has affected my soul. I’m learning to pay attention to what causes me to feel overwhelmed and if I can make changes, I do. Paying attention is a discipline that I’ve learned from Emily, and one of the reasons I link up with her for these round-up posts. In no particular order, here are seven things I’ve learned this fall.
Jennavieve craves one-on-one time. You would think at three years old I would have figured this out, but it took having Mason away at school for this to become obvious. She is still our most challenging child–disobedience is constant–but she also needs my undivided attention throughout the day. I’m learning to find pockets of time to sit on the floor and play, push her on the swing and read books. They are simple pleasures for her, but when she knows that I seek her out and invest in her interests, she feels loved. Parenting is hard, and I make mistakes often, but by God’s grace I’m learning how to meet the needs of each of my children.
The election this year revealed a great divide in our nation, and in some ways I feel like I’m still recovering. Not from the outcome of the election necessarily, but from the hurtful words that have been written about–and to–people on both sides. During the 2004 election I was living in the Middle East, and to some degree was fearful for my life after the outcome. I stayed in my apartment or with my teammates for a few days afterward and didn’t talk politics with any taxi drivers who inquired. This year, I wasn’t fearful for my life, but the emotional weight that I experienced in reading post-election articles left a far greater impact. Words are powerful, whether spoken or written, and it’s caused me to think more carefully about how I use mine.
There is an art to curling your hair. Because I got so caught up in reading post-election articles, I took a break and watched hair tutorials instead. And now I know how to use a curling iron the proper way.
Creating space for rest is life-giving. I’ve been reading Rhythms of Rest, by Shelly Miller, for several months, and I’m currently reading through it a second time. My mind and heart are being challenged by her words and the reminder of why God gave us a Sabbath. We’re taking steps in the direction of recovering a day set aside for rest, and while it takes work to organize our home and tasks in order to make space for this, I’m benefiting greatly from our new rhythm.
Running a half marathon is possible. I had wanted to accomplish this by the end of 2016, but was fearful I wouldn’t be able to do it. So, I waited until the last minute to sign up for a race and didn’t want to pay the late-bird price of $100. Instead, I mapped out a route in our neighborhood and enjoyed a long run early one Saturday morning a few weeks ago. It was wonderful. Training for such a long distance provided me with many thoughts, and I look forward to sharing those in the weeks to come.
Meeting people who have influenced me through their writing is a gift. I attended the Hope*writers workshop at the beginning of November and had the opportunity to sit next to Emily P. Freeman for lunch one day. She answered my questions, we chatted about various writer things, and then I had the opportunity to tell her what an impact she has made in my life. My eyes filled with tears as I shared with her how her words have ministered to me at various times in my life. There are some people who can influence from afar, and if you ever have an opportunity to say thank you to someone like that, take it. (p.s. – this picture was taken in the lobby of our hotel where we discovered that Emily was also staying. I sort of caught her off guard in requesting this photo, so pardon the early morning and no lipstick look).
Pursuing the things that make you come alive is worth it. I will unpack this later, but for now, I’ll just say that if there is a gift that you feel the Lord has given you and you can’t shake it, move forward in it. Learn about it, find time to improve on it, and invest in it. We can’t control outcomes but we can embrace our God-given gifts and use them to the fullest to serve others and glorify the Lord.