Dear Blog, I have missed you! Oh sure, I wrote a few half-posts, full of nonsense and bad grammar, but I found myself unable to write anything worth sharing for months. A wave of change swept over my family and I sort of went under for a while. Look, I made a flow chart (with misspellings) to help me understand my messed-up self.
I approached 2014 with determination, choosing the word climb to define the brave and steadfast following of Jesus that I desired for my life. I felt there were changes ahead and I wanted to meet them in a manner that pointed everyone around me back to God.
From last year's post:
I love this word climb because it feels so purposeful and so courageous, both of which I pray to be every day of this year. I'm not near the top of anything right now. I'm in the intense middle, where, if I look too far down, I get really dizzy, and if I look too far up, I sob a little.
And oh my, were there changes! An out of state move and the serendipitous welcoming of a teenager into our family.
So climb I did. I was purposeful. I said yes to those big things, and also to small things like uncomfortable situations with new people (see: introvert). A quality I usually have at my disposal is will-power, and consequently I was pretty successful at my goal. (This is not to be confused with stubbornness. Definitely not stubbornness.) I worked really hard to be brave, keep my eyes forward, and take on life in a way that allowed God to use me. I made things happen and I got things done.
And also? I suffered. Another special quality I have is the ability to so lose myself in the trees that I completely miss the forest. It seems we need the forest too - that clarifying big picture that keeps us headed the right direction and focused on what is true and beautiful.
All fall, I struggled through our transition from a family of five to a family of six. It was very. . . intense. The process of weaving Allie into our family has been at the same time smoother than I thought possible, and also harder and more painful than I imagined. It's like when you have a new baby, and everyone asks, "Was it an easy birth? Is she an easy baby?" Um, what? Even an "easy" birth is still freaking childbirth. Even an "easy" baby, whom you love fiercely, results in bleary-eyed night feedings, stumbling around in three day old clothes with unpleasant substances splattered on them, and wondering what in the heck you just did to your life. The adjustment to four children has been an adjustment. Adding in homeschooling a high school student has required a steep learning curve as well.
But I think all of that would have been challenging-but-manageable except for one thing: my expectations. Misapplied expectations crush the joy right out of life. I wanted God to call me, and I wanted to respond with faith, but I also wanted it to look and go my way. I grieve when I think how much more difficult I made the transition on everyone with the expectations I laid upon myself.
The importance of the work I do as a mother and an educator surrounds me. I want to be excellent, as I think all mothers do, because of the vital nature of the work. I am extremely mindful of the short time we have with Allie, which has made me much more aware of the short time any of us have with our children, and I sort of panicked trying to accomplish years' worth of work in a few months. Not good.
But God whispers to me, My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match.
So as I'm coming back to myself, I'm working hard to hone in my focus on what I'm truly called to allow and to pursue in my day. This year, I seek to worry less about what I'm supposed to be doing, but rather consider why and for Whom I do it. Continuing my climb metaphor from last year, as a climber ascends, she needs to stop regularly to put an anchor into the surface she's climbing. With those anchors, she knows she has a measure of safety if she slips or a strong wind gusts by.
I need to ground myself in a lovely liturgy of daily routine, anchoring myself through specific tethers of habit: Rising early to meet with the One who knows and loves me best. Confessing my inadequacy and dependence with gratitude and hope. Gathering my children every morning to read from excellent books. Planning daily for beauty, joy, and surprise. Reframing all those pesky or difficult interruptions as opportunities to point my little flock back toward the only Source that will deeply satisfy their achings and longings. Replacing my expectations with simple diligence to whatever the day brings. Anchoring myself to Jesus so that I don't drift away in the midst of life's storms.
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise
Refuge of strength to the end
Righteous redeemer and mighty to save
He's the anchor of hope for the souls of men
Ellie Holcomb, Anchor of Hope