A Decade in the Wilderness

I have sought after the sun and the waves and the deep, unknown wildness that rests inside of me. This line is probably the truest I’ve spoken here. In all else that I have done over the past ten years this may be the realest I’ve been with you. All beginnings lead to this end.

I’ve been in this exhausted place for a few days now, trying to find the brain power to wash dishes has been tough, which means putting pen to paper is pretty much impossible. Right now I’m watching my teensy play a reading game on the laptop because it means that I don’t have to get off of the sofa. As I’ve been overtired it has occurred to me how very little sleep I’ve enjoyed in the past ten years, and that got me thinking about what I have actually done over the last decade. I thought that might be a list I’d like to read. And since you clicked on my post, now you get to as well!

With my exhausted apologies if there is not a coherent thought in this rambling.

Just over a decade ago I turned 30.

In my thirties I did a lot of hard things, more than I maybe wanted to.

It shouldn’t be the first thing on my list, but the leaving does define the decade I think. Without the leaving, none of this list is possible and so I let it stay at the top, not because the before is what matters, but because all that comes after needs a place of beginning. And so. I left a man who held me down and kept me believing that I could do nothing important. A man who made me believe that I was worthless. My wants did not matter, being quiet and doing his will were what I was here for. The importance of my life does not begin here, but my understanding of the importance of my life stems from this moment in time. In leaving him, I left an entire life that I deserved, that I had built. I walked from friends and family who did not -some who still do not- see his behavior as hurtful, debilitating, controlling. I left my home and my place in the world-however small he had made it. I walked away with almost nothing, except, that walking free gifted me everything.

The decade of remembering begins here: I found the truest love of my life. While this means one thing it also means a few other things. Let me explain.

First it means that I found the man that I love and discovered that we could build a really good life together as long as we continue to choose each other. My sweet man loves me better than I have ever been loved. He knows my heart and cares for me as if I am the most important person on the earth. He wants me to know (like really, really) that I am loved and he is willing to do almost anything to ensure my continued happiness. He seems to know my heart and be as connected to it as I am myself. I hope that I hear his as well, but honestly, I know that he is better at loving me than I will ever be at loving him. That’s overly honest, be gentle dear friends.

Additionally, it means that I found God again, or maybe that I let Him be known to my soul. For most of my entire life I was lost, wandering unhappily. I felt like God was unimportant and like He didn’t care about me at all. In my thirties I discovered that I was wrong. God is here and loves me deeply. My relationship with Him has strengthened far beyond what I thought it could. The love, forgiveness, and peace this relationship with my Creator has brought is more than I could’ve hoped for. I won’t go on about it here as it is deeply personal, and I’m not sure I could help you to understand.

I suppose that it also means that I began to love myself. Can I let that fit into this list? This is one of those things that is as hard to admit as it is to realize. Because of the place I had been (and that man I was finally able to leave), I did not like the person who I was. Now…though I still see my faults first, I am proud of the woman I am. I love the person that I have grown into and I no longer look in the mirror with deep sadness. So that you hear me; I have not walked some path of Spiritual discovery that has taken me deep into the mystic. Rather I have lived a mostly invisible life. Quietly carving out a small place to be me unapologetically. I don’t do amazing things or have thousands of followers, I only sit here early in the morning, reading God’s word, scratching out my own, sharing a few of them with you. I don’t ever really intend to mean a lot to much of anyone, but I now know my worth. I am free of the hatred of who I had allowed myself to become.

Looking back on the decade I remember a few of the, shall we call them “lesser” things that have happened and wonder if they should be on this list of “accomplishments”. I mean…

I helped get two children through their teens and early twenties.

I birthed two babies in my thirties and have been raising my three littles this entire decade.

I have put in the work to let my children learn at home, choosing not to send them to school, but to let this everyday life be their learning environment.

I have helped to create a home that I am happy in, and where others could be happy too.

I have dreamed big dreams; travel being at the top of that list, and let those dreams rest in the safety of the future, for a time.

I have built a community that I once thought I did not deserve. These women are real, and we do our real lives together most every day. I love each of them and value their friendships more than I knew I could.

I have found church homes and left them.

I have moved into three new homes.

I have read stacks of books.

I have invested in the wrong groups of people (though, they were right for the season).

I have walked miles in the wilderness and driven down more back roads than are rationally acceptable.

I have sought after the sun and the waves and the deep, unknown wildness that rests inside of me. This line is probably the truest I’ve spoken here. In all else that I have done over the past ten years this may be the realest I’ve been with you. All beginnings lead to this end. To this stretch of sand and water that are more inside of me than out. I will remember this decade as a time of honest becoming, a time of learning my truest nature, of walking the path leading ever deeper into my own being. There are unwritten thank you notes in my heart this morning. Words that I may never speak aloud to those who have helped, or pushed, me out onto this dirt path to my soul. Maybe they know? Maybe they don’t need to know?

What Sleeplessness has Taught Me

I have struggled with sleep for over eleven years now. Multiple wakings in the night, falling asleep just to jerk back awake, far too many really early mornings. I know I’m not the only one. I know a lot of people get very little sleep. I do not have insomnia or night terrors, I simply have littles who struggle with sleep.

For me, I knew before I had children that sleep was precious. I have a distinct memory of a conversation worrying over the loss of sleep I would experience when I became a mother. At the time I did not realize the severity to which I would become sleep deprived though.

From my pregnancy with my first child all those years ago I became aware that the loss of sleep was just the first of many things that no one really prepared me for in mothering. When my second baby settled into a pattern of waking every morning at three AM for over a year I found that I was not the only momma who was waking in the night with a toddler, the solidarity helped. With my third teeny I reached a new level of mothering-with-insufficient-sleep.

That teeny is recently five and still has yet to sleep through the night for a full week straight…ever. I have decided that this girl will likely always have sleep issues, it is just who she is, at least for now. She is still too small to settle back in, can not yet self-soothe into a peaceful sleep, consistently struggles to fall asleep, to stay asleep, and to return to it once she does wake. I feel like I have given her all of the tools, I let her listen to her body and sleep when she needs it. (She is actually pretty good at this, napping when she’s overtired regardless of time of day or where she is at the time.) A dear friend made her a weighted blanket, we’ve used the oils, we work on perfect tucking in and bring water bottles by the bed and the special stuffed animal gets all of the kisses. Still, interrupted sleep is her normal.

So what have I learned? Over the past seven or so years I have used the mid-night wakings to grow my faith and trust in a Savior who loves me. I have found that the rest is always enough to get through to the next time I can lay my head down. Sure, some days my expectations are pretty low, but I have also learned to rest in Him when I can’t physically rest. My prayer life has become deeper and richer. I have realized that as I lay awake after settling a child back to bed unable to find sleep myself, that talking to God and listening to His words are the perfect use of that time. I’ve heard some hard truths at two AM and I’ve been the prayer warrior that friends have needed me to be. I’ve begged forgiveness for old sins that I’d forgotten and felt the peace of that forgiveness wash over me as I lay quietly in my bed waiting for a tiny to call out for me again.

This has been the best thing to come of lack of sleep- giving in and giving that time to God. I now cherish the minutes I lay awake in the middle of the night, though I do dread them as well. Knowing that the day to follow will necessitate my morning coffee and beg for an afternoon nap, I lean into God all the more as I beg for sleep or if not sleep, then rest at the least.

I knew it somehow, before I ever had babies, that sleep would be the hardest part of mothering for me. I didn’t really understand why though. I didn’t see the depth of patience it would require of me.

I came to understand that it has never been that I didn’t have enough to give them when I was tired, but that I wasn’t enough ever. The lack of sleep has led to mornings with my Bible open in my lap well after they all wake for the day. It causes me to pray out loud, in front of my children {gasp} when I don’t have the words and I can’t figure how to get through some struggle my children find themselves in. The lack of sleep has posted scripture to my fridge where beginning readers have sounded out the words while grabbing a glass of milk. I am not enough for my children, but I can always point them to the One who is.

This ramble is typed as my baby girl is snoozing on the sofa after being awake for several hours last night. Which has caused plans to be altered and grace to be begged from people I’d rather not ask it of. Humility is something that lack of sleep has taught me as well. When you are overtired you are frequently late, often impatient, and usually a bit of a wreck. If you can be humble through those days (or months…or years) you will find more joy in this journey.

At a low point in my sleep story; a time where I really thought my girl should be sleeping and I was frustrated, exhausted, and angry, I talked about it all of the time. Everyone knew that my child didn’t sleep. Everyone had suggestions and sympathy. I was grateful for both, though the empathy from the exhausted mommas in my circle was what got me through. That “we are in this together” was something I hadn’t expected from lack of sleep and my friends. Coffee was shared over stories of zombie-like stretches of time from other mommas who were currently sleep-deprived by tiny humans. Knowing that other women were doing their personal best in consideration of their lack of sleep was, and is still, inspiring to me. It helps me to keep doing what I do all day…and many of the nights.

Not just that these friends were exhausted, but that they were willing to talk about it, to share the shitty sleep situations they found themselves in, as simple realities. This made a difference somehow. Through these conversations I learned that my kid wasn’t weird, well, wasn’t unusual in her sleep patterns at least. I mean, she’s my kid, she’s going to be weird. I saw that all manner of sleep or not is pretty common among littles. No one ever told me that pre-kid. I thought the baby would learn to sleep over the first year or so and we’d settle into a good pattern after that, maybe waking earlier than I’d like on the weekends, but otherwise enough sleep would be had by all. This is SO untrue.

I was thankful to have women in my circle who listened to me and heard that I could absolutely not do one more week of this! And then stood with me as I’ve done two more years of it. The kindness and grace of this village of mine has been astounding. I have never felt judged because I can’t get my child(ren) to sleep. I have simply felt held in the space we have created where it’s okay to not be able to do a thing.

Hear me also when I say my sweet husband has been there with me every single night. While he does not often get up to lull a sleepless little, he does hold me up on the days I can barely see through to the end. He makes meals, ensures I’m taking my vitamins, pours me water and wine, plays ball in the street in the afternoons to tucker them out…He cares well for me so that I can care for them. This is what I most need. Though, when he gets up for work at three in the morning and tucks a babe back in so that I dont have to get up with her again? That’s pretty amazing too.

Yes, the lack of quality sleep is hard. Yes, on the nights they all sleep through I do sort of brace myself for the next wave of poor sleep to hit us. Yes, I really do want my littles to be well rested.

But I live here.

Here in this space where sleep is highly valued and extremely appreciated when it does come. I have a feeling I’ve still got awhile in this place.

While I am tired this morning, and I will want a nap this afternoon, I’m thankful for all of the lessons that lack of sleep has brought me. They will serve me well this day, and maybe tonight will be the night that we will all sleep.

About the Garden, but Not

How long does it take to grow a garden? Can you rush it along and hurry it to it’s final, beautiful stages? Can you drop store bought plants into the ground, mulch heavily, water and then sit back and relax away the rest of the season? Is it possible to work diligently for one solid season and enjoy for the rest of your days? This is not just about the garden dear ones.

I can assure you it takes a very, long time.

This is our seventh Summer living in the midst of my garden. Each year, except this one (so far), I have carved away more and more sod to lay garden beds. Lilies, Iris, Lilac, Hosta, Coneflower, Borage, so many more now spill out everywhere. Happily thriving in the rich, heavily composted soil. My sweet husband once replied to my request to extend a bed with something like; “Well, it’s less to mow.”.

Y’all know how hard the winter is on me here. The garden itself and the work done in it is what saves me from deepest depression. Oh sure, there are myriad other contributing factors, but really, the garden keeps my soul above water. I can see it now, this year as I have faced walking away from it. I can see that I did not just grow a garden, I have grown a place for my soul to sit with God and find rest amidst all of the work it has required of me.

I have grown the garden for the riot of color, for the produce, the herbs, the smells, the feel of the dirt under my nails and on my knees…but there is so much more. When you pour yourself into something, like a garden in Minnesota, you get to miss it and think of it and dream of it for several months of the year. It is something to be desired, longed for, ached over even. It is not just a space to sit and sip rum ( I wrote about this once) or a pretty place to rest; though it is that as well. For me at least, though I know not for all of you, a garden is a place to straighten out my thoughts when they are more scattered than daisy seeds on the wind. A space to pray the darkest, scariest, most fear-filled prayers while surrounded by light.

As I mentioned, this is my seventh season in this garden, and this year for sure it is a little out of hand. We were enjoying ourselves at the beach for the month of June and so the garden at home was allowed to run wild. I have been gifted truckloads of mulch twice and that kept the weeds down to a minimum, but the flowers (and the wild-flowers, aka weeds that I allow to grow in my space) took the month to explode and grow and soak up all that my absence allowed. In the old testament it is required to let the fields rest in the seventh year, I wonder if the Jewish people were still able to collect some sort of harvest from those resting fields? Did the fields still provide something of value to those people as my garden has provided for me even as I have given it (part of) the season off?

I wonder about this as I wander among the raspberry brambles collecting as many berries as I ever have in the well-cultivated years. I don’t know how this matters to you, but it matters to me. I can’t help but assume that whatever seeds fell to the ground in those ancient fields would have grown up in the season of rest, even without tending. Sure, there would have been weeds and wildflowers too, but…

Provision is a word that I can not help but associate with my Creator as well as with the garden He allows to grow up around me. He provides all things in their season. He allows all things at their most perfect time. He gives good, good gifts. I see this clearly not only because I grow a garden, but I see it amongst the flowers and herbs more than most other places. This Summer as I look around our yard, trying to decide what to do next (both in the immediate and life-altering sense) I have found my rest, I can see the provision ever-more obviously. This is not what I expected to find here.

This morning I definitely planned to write about the garden, to reveal to you in some small way that it takes a lot of time, effort, and passion to grow. I wanted to examine a bit how the garden has shaped me as I have worked to shape it. Somehow I have lost that track. Now as I sit, I can only see how the Lord has provided so many, many times for me. There has never been a moment that I have strayed from His care even when I ran hard and fast away from His will for me. I’m not really sure I can finish this post well.

I have been sitting with a decision this past week. Well, really we’ve been working on this for the better part of a year now, for me though a lot of it became real in the past couple of weeks. I wasn’t really going to tell you how I have realized that I could not ask all of my people to do something “just for me”, even though they were willing. I wasn’t going to write out how selfish that made me feel or how I knew at once the words were spoken that we could not follow through with our plans at this time in our lives. I was not intending to let you know that we changed our plans and were moving hard and fast toward a different end, yet here I sit typing it all out.

And now that plan is changed as well.

The garden is where it began and this garden is where I will stay. I didn’t come here this morning to tell you that we were not going to move away, but I suppose maybe I did. I wasn’t completely sold on the plan to stay here in this house, in this neighborhood, in this garden. Typing this out though has made me realize more than I would be willing to tell you. I now realize that knowing your family is willing to move across the country for you, in planning to do just that, and then choosing together to stay. That is not the abandoning of a dream, but the realization that you are truly loved, there can be no fear there.

The garden. Provision. Goodness. Peace.

Someday I will go friends, though it seems that day is far off. I’m a little sorry for dragging you along on this emotional journey, but not too much so. Over the year of planning to leave and the last couple of days and weeks in deciding how and where to stay, I have seen how loved I am. How connected to community we are. How leaving this village would not benefit any of the people I love enough to do it. I had felt that there was too much concession on my part, but that’s just not true. I am not giving up a dream, merely postponing it. And I completely trust that wanting this one thing and receiving another will work together for our good. I have no fear and no regret, only peace…though it did take some time in the garden to get there.

Beginnings and Circles

I sit here typing on my phone-something I really dont like to do. The keyboard always works against me adding letters and slurring my words. I have to proofread very carefully so that the autocorrect feature doesn’t make me look like a moron. It’s a frustratingly slow process, and you’ll still probably catch several errors that I’ve missed.

Today is the day though. The day we begin. The day we set out. The day where we put all excuses aside and go. All of the things have been packed, which is why I am typing on my phone. Most of the things have been cleaned, though not very well. None of the groceries have been bought, but the stores will open soon. If everything works perfectly this is the first of many nights I’ll fall asleep with my head in my camper bed.

I was up early today, sipping my coffee, waiting for the birds to wake up and begin their singing. Sitting in the stillness, seeking a bit of peace and a restfulness that did not come while sleeping. As I tap out these lines I wonder if everything is ready?

…if we are ready.

There is a lot a person needs to do to walk away from their house for six weeks. Most of it is done, but likely not all. I’m not sure how often I will wake in a panic realizing some thing I have left undone. Hopefully not too many. Hopefully I don’t think much about this place at all.

The most difficult part for me is the people, as I knew it would be. Leaving this community makes me cautious. I know I can leave this over-large house with all of it’s sweeping and scrubbing. I know that I can (someday) leave Minnesota and it’s frigid temps without any sadness at all. I can even leave the gardens I’ve cultivated for going on seven Summers; though that one is a close second. The women in my circle though…I’m not sure what life will look like without their daily influence.

In this modern-American culture we tend to think that we can do everything by ourselves, and that we should. I’ve written about this before (here and here and especially here), but community can not be ignored. Indeed it should not. As I think about the ways my people have built upon each other I am overwhelmed. I know we have our struggles, our difficulties, our disagreements; we do life together after all, but the good in the group outweighs the bad of being outside of it.

In the past few weeks I have dug berry plants for and with friends, I have been delivered wood chips, I have gifted garden accessories and other small treasures, I have been saved from an empty gas tank, and I have sold off a million pieces of my life to these friends. I have people to pray for and people who pray over me. I have friends whom I message daily and those whom I wish I could touch base with more often.

This. This I will miss a lot. This I may regret leaving.

I will miss sitting, tucked away in a corner of a yard while children run and scream. I will miss a friend dropping by to my messy, chaotic house with no worry over it. I will miss all of their children. I will miss rushing to a planned event because I want every possible minute with these women. This worries me, makes me think I can’t do it. Can’t really go for good, isn’t that messed up? I mean it’s not, but I spent all of these years aching for this community only to finally have it and then to come to a point where I am in a position to go where my heart calls. Which requires me to start over on so many different spirals of life. Maybe we always need something to cry out for?

I was telling a friend recently how I was nervous to walk away for this season and she kindly reminded me that we will still be together, if not physically. She noted that my circle may be a couple of hours away but that the values we share will hold us close. She was right of course. We will have to work harder to maintain friendships, but they can be maintained. Even grown.

This opportunity to travel (even a bit) and to live smaller is something I have longed for, as most of you know. I can’t pass it up. The need to follow this path and see where it leads beats within my very heart. Who knows what we will learn over the next few weeks? I am excited too.

Often I get stuck in that worrisome place. Seeing only the difficult part of the adventure ahead. I don’t want to do that with this. This chance to be out there, living something that has long called to me is exciting. I see that too. I will be concerned over walking away from dear friends, but! Instead of only worrying, I plan to work. To work on building a larger community for myself, for my family. I mean, there are people everywhere, and most of them probably want the love and the connection I am fortunate enough to feel every day. So, I’ll try to bring it, to build it, to create it.

I’m praying for this opportunity right now. I dont want to get bogged down in the sadness of leaving my people, and I dont want to simply find new or different people. What I am hoping for is complex, I know. That ever-widening of the circle will be difficult to be sure, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it too. If you’re close, you know there are still many miles to go but I thank you for being here on the path with me.

And so today is the beginning. The start of a wider circle, a wilder path, a larger wonder.

Or maybe tomorrow, the rain forecast for tonight looks pretty severe…

Where We Are Falling Short

Posting something today that I wrote out in March of this year. I was angry over a life taken. It didn’t make sense to me then and it does not now. I want to do more, I want to serve those in this dark place. I want to help. I wonder what I can do. I wonder how I can give more than I currently give. I wonder how I can reach my hand out to friends, neighbors, when my own family needs me so much. I cry out over my shortcomings and failings, and fears. I’m putting this out there today to let you know that I’m working on these answers, not that I’ve found them. I also need you to know that I write these things from the only place I can; from my mothering heart.

This one feels raw, emotional, maybe even angry… Read gently.

We are failing friends. If you’re like me you probably feel like you’re doing just all that you can and there is no more to pour out and there is no possible way that you can be expected to do more than this. But I say again; we are failing. We are failing our children, we are failing our communities and we are failing each other. We are not doing what mothers and wives and women should be doing. It’s okay if you disagree with me. I have a feeling a lot of people will.

I base this feeling of failure on current events, and so it is debatable to be sure. Where are the mothers when children begin to show dangerous tendencies? Where are the wives when men spiral into depression and despair? Where are the women who could be stepping into necessary roles as defenders, as counselors, as leaders? Modern women often claim they are just as strong as men, can do the same jobs, are even better at most things than men. So why aren’t we living it? Why do we collectively allow dangerous men to walk our streets? Why do we quiet our voice when something potentially scary happens to us personally? Why do we hide instead of stand up and speak out?

I do not agree with much of what happens in this world anymore, there is so little good left. I feel the brokenness deep in my soul and more than any of the other contributing factors I may discuss on this platform I believe the brokenness of man (read humankind) is why I personally struggle with anxiety, loneliness, sadness…more.

Do you know your neighbors? Do you know the moms in the pick-up line at school? Do you know the people in your church at all? If you feel like you do know these people, I’d ask, how often do you interact with them? Do you see them daily? Weekly? Occasionally? When you see them, do you work to build an actual relationship with them or are your interactions platonic at best and, more realistically; compulsory? Who is your community? How are you building them up?

I say again; We are not doing enough.

We are losing people, they are falling into the void, unseen by our eyes and untouched by our love.

We are failing.

Regardless of how or what you or I are doing I know that we could do more.

I know this because in community people grow and flourish, I’ve seen it in my own life, in the lives of my own children. I realize of course that I can not be all things to all people. I am not going to go out and get a degree as a psychologist, but does that mean I can’t talk with someone, really listen to what their heart is saying? Make a personal connection with them, let them know that I am here with them no matter what they go through. I may not be able to stop their pain, but I can sit with them in it. It also means that if I see the broken pieces of their soul and fear for them or their community I can reach out to someone who could help in the needed way. I can do this because I know my friend, I can keep them from falling through. I can also support others as they do this with the people in their circle. I can have a friend’s children over so they can support a sister. I can manage my household for much later into the evening without a break so my husband can assist a friend. I can do something as simple as bringing books along for drop off or pick up events so that my children are occupied while I lean in and listen to another.

Why do we bicker, why do we debate, why do we constantly question what is the right way to solve a problem when we should be quieting ourselves to hear the heart-cry of the person next to us? Why does everyone blame the political machine and then sit back in their comfy chair feeling justified in having criticized all that is wrong with the world, but having done no actual thing? I am so angered, so frustrated, so sick of all of this. I’ve asked these questions before, said that I need to do more, asked for suggestions on how I can act. I have not done enough. I am not doing enough. While no one in my immediate circle is currently falling through the cracks, do I even know how close they are? Do you?

Is anyone reaching out to you today? Do you see what they need and are you ignoring it because you have your own troubles, your own stress, your own mess? I can assure you that if we all did one thing for the person next to us that it would not only bless their heart but it would come back to us in some way. What’s the worst that could happen if we all stepped out and did something? Like it would be so bad if each of us did one good thing for one person today? Even if we don’t see the benefit or if the good doesn’t bounce back to us, can’t being a blessing to someone else be enough? Can’t touching someone elses soul on a personal level be seen as the exact right thing in this moment? Can’t we see that we must do this?! We must, people are falling-right now-we are losing them, we have to do better as a group of women, as a group of people.

This is one of those posts with more questions than answers, more words spoken in passion than could really be expected to find resolution. The cry of my soul is to catch my people, to let them know that we are better together, not without their difficulty or struggle. That while I don’t have all of the answers I can hear you, I can stand by you, I can help you to find what it is that you need. So I will say it again;

In the darkest struggles of our souls, in the deepest dark that we sink into, each one of us is needed. We are loved. We are cared for. I say “we”, not “you”. I have been there, I can be there for you now because someone has been there for me. Though I fail at this often and I fail at it with the ones I most deeply love, I circle back to this knowledge that I do have more to give, I can give better. Sometimes this means a physical task, other days it means listening, hearing without needing to repair what is broken. It may mean admitting that I can not help, but supporting and suggesting ways to find peace.

I ask yet again; What can each of us do this day, to really let someone know that they have value? If you find some answers, would you let me know?


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A Deeper Sense of Community

I write about community quite often. About how children can not thrive without a group of supportive people, how each of us needs a tribe to call our own. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how much the women in my own circle have grown closer. I feel like I am a little on the outside because we are off adventuring so much, and while this makes me a teensy bit sad, I can still feel the shift and it brings me so much joy. Some of us need it more than we would even care to admit.

I have frequently felt like the group of women that I’ve come to call mine through homeschooling is special, we are not a bunch of moms who get together regularly so that our kids have normal-ish friendships and educational opportunities. Well, we are that. More than that though the women I homeschool with are friends, helpers, sisters…some of them are like silly aunties to my kids. Others are trusted adults who can be relied upon in difficult circumstances. To me though, the women in this group are simply what keep me going on days when it’s hard to do so.

Over the few years that I’ve known them, these friends of mine have gone through a lot. There has been so much life lived and when one (or more) of these women has struggled, I’ve seen them lifted up again and again. As a group we have cleaned each others houses, we have sat with tears, we have pulled weeds, we have welcomed babies, we have brought meals and watched each others kids. Most of the time these things have been done without anyone asking, for some reason I am surrounded by this group of women who simply want to do life together. They are such an answer to prayer.

Recently I was feeling like I couldn’t do this thing-that-needed-doing in my life. In the past I would have talked to God, talked to my husband, probably not have done the thing. This time though, I did something else. I still brought it to God first. My husband and I did talk it over and he encouraged me to move forward, I was still afraid. I was afraid of angry words coming back to me, of a harshly worded “no”. So, I reached out to my circle. I told a few friends what I needed to do and what my fear was and they all spoke words of support and encouragement to me. I did the thing-that-needed-doing and the answer that I received was not nearly as scary as I had anticipated it being. There is still a road to walk there, but my point is that I would not have confidently taken that first step if not for these wonderful friends.

In reaching out a couple of other things happened too, other needs were exposed. Other hurts touched on. Conversations were had that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have happened. In other circles of women we worry. We worry about being judged. We worry that we are not enough and that we are too much and that we can never, ever, in a million years live up to the invisible standard of the group. I am blessed by the opposite of that. I’m not exactly sure how I came to know these moms, these teachers, these women, but I am oh-so-glad that I have them in my life.

I wonder how I will give this to my kids. I wonder if I even can give it to them. Will they hold tight to the friends that they have now? Growing together in their friendships as they grow in size. Will I instill in them a deep need to not do life alone, will they feel it in the very soul of themselves and seek out this same sort of circle as they move out into the world? I hope so. I want it for them, not only because I don’t want them to be lonely, but because life is so much better lived in this community! It is so freeing to know that I don’t have to keep all of the plates spinning, that I have friends who will come along and give one a spin if it starts to wobble. Better? When a plate falls they’ll be there to help me clean it up, help me to realize that I’m still me without that one. I want my littles to know this, now and as they interact more with the wider world.

This morning I went back and forth with a few friends, it’s funny how much we all struggle the same as mommas. Same frustrations over kids not listening and then our own yelling. Same doubt; whether over a mom we feel does this gig better than us or if our schooling choice is the right one. Same worry; sometimes our kids are hard to understand or we don’t feel like we’re good enough to parent them. This is normal, I have these conversations often. More than these though, in this circle of mine we go deep.

There have been conversations over death. Broken hearts and broken marriages. Sickness. Jobs lost and gained. Our inability to do this SAHM life for one more minute without a change….More even than this these women don’t just talk about these things together we have silently made the pact that we will walk these struggles together. We will be there when the times are good and when they really couldn’t get much worse.

I suppose all that I am really saying here is “Thank you.”.

And so I will take a moment and a paragraph of your time to thank the women who have accepted me in spite of all of my flaws.

Friends, this group is something I have prayed for since I was in my early twenties. I have wanted to have friends who felt like sisters since I moved away from my actual sisters. Thank you for welcoming me in and making me one of yours. Thank you for bringing out the best in me over and over again. Thank you for listening to my worry, for talking through schooling options and sensory concerns and hearing me when the anxiety has gotten the best of my heart. Thank you for opening up your homes and your hearts and for sharing your deepest, truest selves. I love you all and I am so thankful to have you to do this life with. Thank you for never letting me feel judged in any way. I was once afraid to share details of my previous life, I know now that there is very little I could do or say to cause you women to leave my side. You are a blessing to me, a gift, an anchor when the seas get high. Thank you seems not enough, but it is what I have, and so I will say it again, “Thank you”.

If you do not have a group of women who welcome you into safe, uplifting, life-giving relationships please let me know. I will pray with you over your circle, you are not meant to walk this life alone. If you’re in my circle and you don’t feel this way, please reach out. I want little more than for you to know the peace and joy that is this type of friendship.

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A Midnight Rambling

Do you know those things that come to you at three A.M. after you’ve tucked a babe back into her bed and you can’t shake the thought so you sit up writing on your phone for an hour? Yeah, that is where this post started out. I know it’s random, maybe a little vague, and not exactly in keeping with where my posts typically come from. I am compelled to put it out there, even though I can hear some of the things that some of the people who read my blog might say. I’ve had that song “Fear is a Liar” in my head and I can’t help but connect that to the drive to get these words onto the page in the middle of the night.

So, here goes. Random, God-directed, ramblings for your enjoyment…or not.

One of the biggest lies the devil tells men is that they are enough without God. The world furthers this lie by insisting that men be strong, that they hold it all together. We (women) further this difficult place by asking our men to be all of the things that they naturally are not.

I’ll start with that last thought; we don’t let them be who they were made to be. We ask them to come indoors and quiet down and support us in these polite, traditionally-feminine ways. Because of the abuse that men have doled out over the years we believe all men need to be less traditionally-masculine, that that will somehow make us all better. We’re asking them to give up their very natures, the way God designed them to be. What if this is hurting them ladies? What if we let them return to their truest selves and live there? I challenge that we would all be better off.

What if in continuing the lie that men need be all things at all times we are breaking their very spirits? I worry about this at one A.M.

I would challenge that men need not be our everything. That they do not need to fill the role in our lives that sisters, aunts, and dear-friends would have filled in all ages save this modern one. That we would support our men in knowing the truest version of themselves, even if it is not what we might think it should be. Even if their truest self goes against what popular culture tells us, especially if that is the case! After all, I am the biggest advocate for a person following their heart, doing what they love, this is true for men as well as women. Even when what a man wants to do with his life is not what I would choose for my own. I suppose, especially when that’s true.

Now I know that some of you will cry out to me because there is such ache in the divide that is equality. I don’t believe that we are helping anyone by asking men to be strong enough to fill all the support roles in our lives and then being upset when they do it in their own way. Or complaining when they simply can not be all of the things. Men were not made for this, we were all made to have a community around us.

The village itself is broken.

We are breaking the men more, and I think that you could agree that men have been broken plenty. No, but just hear me out. We’ve taken away their ability to be who they are, we make it not okay to live in their nature because we don’t want the girls to feel left out. I hear the complaints; “Aren’t we supposed to be equal?”. I tell my kids all of the time that equal doesn’t mean everyone gets the same thing, rather everyone gets what they need. Each child stands alone in their needs yet some want them all to have the exact same things. This is faulty logic, and not just for how we raise our children.

Ultimately my point is that men are not enough. They are not enough to be both your best girl-friend and the one who keeps you safe from the dark of night. They are not enough to provide for your family and support you well while you work towards the same. They are not enough to fill all of the roles we are asking them to. I feel as though I’m rambling a bit here, so I’ll try to wrap this up.

Only God is enough ladies. Only in Christ are all of those roles filled. He will provide the people we need, the true-community we are asking for from one person. We have to let Him though. We have to let the men know this too, somehow. We have to make it okay to tell a man; “Go, be alone with God. Let Him heal those broken places in your heart, the ones that you can’t fix on your own. It’s okay that you can’t, we don’t need you to fix yourselves.”

What we all really need, is our men to come back to God. When will they? When will we make it alright for them to do so? When will they be reminded of their truest selves, their inmost nature…and be happy to see that they simply can not do this life without the love and forgiveness of their Savior? Why do I need to lie here thinking about this? Why has so much damage been done? Why have we given the devil such a stronghold in our lives, in our very souls?

I’m going to put these thoughts down on paper. I’m going to put them out into the scary, digital world where y’all can tell me how wrong you believe me to be. I’m going to hit “publish”. Then I’m going to pray ladies, I’m going to pray over the men you love, the men you are raising, the men from our collective past who have caused us to believe…well, whatever it is we may believe about them. I’m going to ask God to come into their hearts and show them that they are NOT enough.

And that’s okay.

Nobody needs them to be.

I’ll pray that each of them comes to Him with an open heart, that they’ll come to Him ready to admit defeat and to work toward change together. I’ll pray that they know Jesus as their Savior and that they will be changed so deeply due to that knowledge. We need this ladies, we need the men in our lives to be enough only when they are enough in Him.

We need to not further the lies of the devil and this world. Pray with me, would you?



***Please know that I am speaking about good men here. There are certainly men out there who take advantage and prey upon women, they are beyond my scope of understanding. My hope is that you will read this post thinking about the men you love.


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Words and Minor Confessions

I’ve been stuck. In this place there are two things; a lot of words and a lot of silence. First the words; I’ve already told you how I couldn’t get thoughts to paper, but it’s more than just having all of those unexpressed thoughts in my head. I can’t seem to put a book down, I have been reading in all of the spare moments, filling my soul with fictitious worlds that overtake my imagination. I’ve been seeking out the quotes that express how I feel, pinning them, scratching them down in notebooks, saving them on my phone. I have this idea that if I could just find the right words, some missing mental piece would fall into place.

I find this desire for words to be so strange when all I beg for in my quiet moments is…quiet. My children talk a lot. They seem to never cease. I joke that one of my daughters started talking shortly after birth and hasn’t stopped yet -she’s ten. Add to that all of the mothering responses, teachable moments, corrections of behavior, more, that are required in our homeschool day and the amount of words easily exceeds seven catrillion, (that’s a real number, I swear). Recently we were able to spend a couple of our days outdoors, which was awesome! We have these dogs on our street though, they bark incessantly at each other. Yesterday I actually shouted down across the neighborhood for them to shut-up! It didn’t work, they kept on barking and I found myself with my head in my hands asking why everything in my life is so loud?

Serious irony here? I yell. I’ll admit it. Yes, I am constantly trying not to yell, trying to get a handle on my tongue, reading things that may help, taking the deep breath before I speak, quoting Scripture and the Psalms to myself. I still yell. In case you didn’t know, yelling is loud. Want to know when I yell most? When the volume and repetition reaches a fever pitch in my house and I can’t handle anymore sound. It’s so logical that I would yell then isn’t it? Later, I lay in bed wondering why I would do something so counter-productive, something so loud? Ugh.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the doors of my lips.Psalm 141:3

So the noise of life is too much for me. Can that be a thing please? I want it to be so badly. I want to be able to say that I must take a time-out or a mental health day or something because the volume has exceeded acceptable levels. Please? I mean, when does a momma get some silence for Heaven’s sake?

The nights are quieter it’s true. I fill those hours before I fall asleep and the ones before my children wake reading in blissful silence. It is as if I am in Heaven, only I have steamy coffee. Another thing that’s hard for me to admit? Before I had any babies, my biggest fear was how much of my sleep their sweet, teensy needs would steal from me. Truth is that fear was well founded because someone is always waking me or sneaking into my quiet reading time. I didn’t know that I could adjust my internal clock as much as I have over the last ten years. (More) truth is there is always time for what is most important, but really only the top one or two things. Everything else must be optional. There are only so many waking hours in one day and only so many words that will fit in that same grouping of hours. Honest, we’ve maxed both out.

This place where I’m at, the one with a lot of words, it is a seeking place. It is a searching place and a place where I am allowing myself to feel all of the broken that has been much like my shadow. I know the words that I need to hear are not the ones that will be found on Pinterest memes or while scrolling Facebook. The words that I feel, the words that seem to be inside of me yet eluding me, these words will come from God and they will come from the mouths of my children and they will come from the kind hearts of the people I love. They come from being seen and being honest.

Another hard-to-admit-truth; the only silence I’m feeling right now is Gods. The one voice I am seeking so desperately, is not crying out to me like it ofttimes does. A woman I knew for a short time told me once that God’s silence is sometimes necessary. Like a rest in a piece of music is necessary for the musicians to catch their breath.                                                  That stopped me in my tears.                                                                                                          I find myself back in that place now, breathing and little else. I am comforted knowing that the music always starts again. I will begin to hear God’s words for me and then walk with His purpose for my life anew. Right now, today, I will sit in the rest, in the pause, in the break in the music, and I will let tears fall that have no place still falling. I will speak softly to my children, I will listen well to them. I will look at those I love and hope to really see them as they look back and see me probably more clearly than I would like some to.

As the sun begins to brighten the sky I hear my children stirring, the quiet of this morning nearly done. The volume will rise and the chaos will scramble around my feet as it so often does. I am striving for nothing more than to sit in the rest He has provided, accepting as much actual and imagined quiet as I can receive. Hearing those words that will be most beneficial to my soul. I hope you’ll know that you have a place here too, in the break.






IMG_7839.jpgToday is a day like any other. Normal chores, normal homeschool, normal fights at naptime. Nothing out of the ordinary. Yet today my anxiety is causing my heart to pound in my chest. I went to have a bite of  sweet and noticed that my hand was shaking. I can’t seem to sit down or finish anything that I start. I haven’t had a day like this in quite a while, and so it has caught me completely off guard.

I used to wonder if anxiety was something only I dealt with, if others had a similar issue they sure weren’t talking about it. This only told me that I should handle my troubles in silence. I did too, for a lot of years I just pushed through the racing heartbeats, the shakiness, the feelings of fear that would overwhelm me for no reason whatsoever. Today I decided to try to sit down and write instead. My time has been swallowed up recently. My tiny not sleeping well, the crush of our days, leaves me yearning for a little peace, but it is not found. I see these moments throughout my day, but when I try to utilize them someone always rushes in. There is always someone who wants something from me when I only want a minute to breathe.

I don’t know if the rush and busy contributed to my anxiety today. This was a day I chose  not to schedule, not to make any plans for at all. We would stay home. It was supposed to be a day to catch up, but my littlest was up early. Bringing her full three-year-old sass into my time to read God’s word and to write. This child, or perhaps the stage that she’s in, it seems her goal is to wreak havoc on all things that bring rest to my soul. I spend pieces of my day teaching her to enjoy quiet time looking at her books. I encourage her strongly to listen to her body; rest when she feels sleepy, run and jump when she is feeling energetic. I give her the words to express how she is feeling, but she is still small. So often her yelling overwhelms my heart.

This is perhaps more honest than I should be. After all, I frequently write about how much I love being a mother…

The truth of it is this; mothering has pushed my anxious heart more than any other thing I’ve done in life. Possibly because in being a momma I have stretched so far past the safety buffers I built around myself. As a young person I didn’t take big risks, rather I  chose what was known. Over the years of growing a family I have pushed so far from what was comfortable. There is good and bad in this.

The good is that I have found a place in a community of women I can call actual friends. Something I longed to have for so many lonely years. More good is that I now have a voice, I am not easily silenced. I will passionately defend and lead and teach my children to do the same. The best of pushing far outside of my comfort zone is that I have come to lean into God so closely that I physically feel His presence as I walk through a difficult-for-my-still-occasionally-shy-self-situation. When I don’t forget to seek it out at least.

The bad is that there are days when anxiety grips my heart and I yell back at my overly tired tiny. The days when everything seems to pile on top of the thing before instead of being easily brushed aside, on these days it seems that my ability to handle stress is nonexistent. I know that in these moments I should probably set aside the school work, I should go outside, I should beg quiet activities from my children. Why can’t I do this?

I have this nagging fear that after years of being told how much I can not do, years of being subtly put-down, years of being made to feel less than important…Sitting here nearly eight years after that life ended, I have a feeling those words are what causes the anxiety. Realizing that has brought me to tears.

You put a person and a place behind you, you grow a new garden, you build up these walls to keep yourself safe and cozy, unknowingly walling those words in with you. I’m not sure what to do with this information. I don’t know how to put the words and the damage they’ve done outside the walls of my new garden. I don’t know how to let it all go, that doesn’t seem quite true…I’m afraid. I am afraid that the words are true and that I am wrong. That if I put this belief aside I would be proven false. Worse; that if I tried to believe God’s truth for me fully that He would be proven a liar.

That is definitely more honest than I should be here. I fear this is too bold to put out into the world.

I can’t say exactly what causes me to get lost in this place, on the days I feel the crush I simply can not get those old words out of my head and I want to scream. I usually do. Yesterday I stepped out on my deck and breathed the icy air deep into my lungs. I stood there in my stocking-feet, tears crystallizing on my cheeks, begging that the weight would be lifted from my very soul. Then I said a few honest words, I let those words fill a space in my heart, I let them be true without apology, even though they maybe needed one. I watched a chickadee flit through snowy branches. Verses swirled on the frost filled wind. I went back inside to my children.

I had found no answers in the chill air. I was no better a mother after I stepped back into my life. Why share this moment with you then? I guess because it was a tiny minute taken just for me. This in itself shows crazy-growth. In recent memory I would not have allowed myself these three minutes in the cold, would have looked at them as a failing time. Seeing them instead as saving grace, as showing myself grace, this change in perspective, even just for three minutes is a big heart change.

I’m reminded how little I know about my parents, about my friends, about people I am acquainted with. Who can say what has happened to get a person to where they are this day? Now, what to do with that information? Grace, I suppose. All is grace, always grace, in all things show grace. I often circle back to that, how I wish this was a lesson that I could fully grasp and be done learning! The teaching of it is hard on me, I’m unsure how many more times I can see this lesson in my life before it breaks into my very soul.

Today, if my tiny sleeps, and even though she doesn’t, I am letting the lesson of grace break into my heart and mind, it is working holes into my garden wall. Perhaps all of those hurt-filled words will escape through the gaps created by grace. I’m pretty sure I can’t force them out, I have to let the grace do it’s work first. I guess that’s why the Teacher keeps me here, in this place of aching and learning, even though the work is hard, it is holy too. The work of  grace will heal me, but it will take time. There are many, many words to forget. Many behaviors to replace, many aches to be healed.

Many days have passed since I wrote the words you’ve just read. I was afraid to press the “publish” button. This is a piece of brokenness in me that I don’t easily share. I still feel that I should be strong enough to expel the anxiety from my life, from my inmost-self. I hear those words that have broken me as I consider again if I’ll share this with you. They tell me to keep this quiet, that no one really needs these words. Somehow I don’t believe those lies this morning. Has enough time passed? Have enough words broken through the walls? Is His grace really sufficient for me? I will let y’all in today, in a little closer. As I type this closing I am praying for you. You know who you are, where you are, what walls need to be broken by grace. I will let you read this because by speaking my own truth you may find a tiny piece of yours. I trust this to be true, I trust we will both find peace.



I was feeling alone. Even though I am surrounded by my little people all day every day, I was feeling alone. I was missing extended family, I was missing my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. I was missing my sisters. I’ve been moving farther and farther away from my family since I was a child. The divorces that are my mothers story taught me to move away from the people I love with little emotion. That’s a harsh sentence, but it is true. As I look back, I can see how we physically moved away time after time while she chased after her truest self. It became quite easy to create friendships and then end them as we moved on to the next town. More than physically moving on, her moves taught my soul not to get attached, not to think this place or that friendship would last. I also learned that family is something that can be fractured and put back together many times and still hold strong.

Something that I never knew until I went through my own divorce, was that parts of family are lost and not put back in when two people break apart. I suppose I knew how I had been affected by my mothers choices, but I’d never really thought much about them. When I was a child I easily forgot the friends and family who I no longer saw, I walked farther down the road and knew they were back there, perhaps having taken a left when I went right. Then, in my own divorce I lost my mother for a time, she didn’t agree with my choice or the way I was living. She decided, in her anger at me, that I was wrong and that she would not be there for me. Though she has moved on from the hurt my decision caused her, I still struggle with her betrayal and have a hard time relating to her, she is a fracture, and when she is with me I feel the ache more intensely. This break that has been poorly repaired still hurts, but I’ve realized it is not the cause of my sadness.

As I sat in the stillness and I thought about why I was feeling so alone, so empty, so lost. I thought about the road that has brought me to this exact place in life, I was looking back at those turns that were right for me, but that left people I loved behind. Or perhaps it was the fork in their road that took them away from me. It came to me that another piece of what I was missing was the extended family that I had in my previous marriage. Specifically, I was missing my former sisters-in-law. I did a lot of life with these women, the loss of them was great and it broke me in places that I have ignored for a long time. Let me be clear, I don’t want to go back to the small, helpless girl I was then. I’ve become too much and know myself far too well to want that. I now love a man who has shown me how to find my worth. What I miss from that place and time is his sisters. I know that I have my own, but they are far away physically while his live near me, yet are on roads I can’t get to from here.


When I left him, I left people I loved deeply. It was all too easy for me to take that hard right to what was best for my very soul, and leave these people at a rest stop on the highway. While I missed them immediately, ached for their support and friendship, I knew it was lost to me. I chose right, they followed him to the left. It was easy to look at the loss as I had so many times before; as leaving school friends all of my life, as walking away from people I called family. This had become second nature to me and I did not think twice about it at the time. I thought I’d get past it, and I did. Most days. But there are mornings that leave me hoping I’ll run into these women at the grocery store.

This seems messed up doesn’t it? I mean, how can I have so easily cut all of these people out of my life? It doesn’t make sense to me even now, so many years later. Obviously I didn’t deal with those losses well because I still feel them after all of this time, but I can clearly remember turning away. Choosing to not reach out to them, not even hope that I could remain friends with these women. I assumed that it would be like it had been when I was young, a clear break and then the setting of a new course. Trusting these sisters and friends were still out there, just on a different road, has not been enough. I know that I will never again have these same women, that same extended family. I ache for it, but I understand why it must be this way. I think I will always miss them though, my own sisters, my former sisters, friends I’ve lost because of the direction I was headed.

I miss being surrounded by family, in fact I have spent the last few years trying to build friendships to fill the spaces left by lost sisters. It’s hard. Not just to find women to do life with, but it’s hard when it seems no one understands or would understand or could ever get why they are so needed in your life. That there is this gaping space inside of you that longs to be filled with the easy friendship of a sister. It is hard for me to put into words, this wanting to have a built in group of people to do life with. If you have close family or dear friends then I suppose you know what I mean, I’ve had it at different points in my life and I am aching for it in this season.

I do look forward in hope, I have five kids now in this blended up family of ours. They are sisters and brothers that I pray will always have each other physically close. I pray too that they continue to grow closer relationships as the little ones grow older. That they want to be close to each other, that they want to spend time together, that they miss the crowded dinner table enough to come home for spaghetti and meatballs on a Tuesday night. I get glimpses of it already, it is beginning. I hope that we have created the place they will want to come back to when they are all grown. I hope this for selfish reasons too, not just because I want the closeness for them, but because I want to have these people around me. I want them at my table, crowding into my living room, making chaos in my house. I miss it so much now, but my children offer hope of having it in the future or at least the hope of providing it for them.

I wonder this morning; over lost family, sisters who have moved away, sisters who I have moved away from. As I think about the friendships I have, I wonder if any of them will ever fill the empty place left by sisters. Have I put up too many road blocks to get close enough to let them fill the holes? I will have to keep working on myself, because of this deep need inside of me. For now I will be present here, feeling the loss and trying not to brush it aside. I want to feel what I’ve left to become who I am, to examine the parts that I most miss. I think that in remembering, I will work more diligently to create authentic connections. Which will in time begin to fill this part of me back up.