More to Life

I love being a mom but there is more to my life than this. We moved three months ago. Even though there is so much more to do here, I have been feeling a bit alone of late. My 5th move in 5 years of marriage, this time starting over in a new location. It's inspiring to begin somewhere new, yet it can also be an emotionally daunting task.

As a child there were two things that I wanted to be in life, a mommy and a missionary. Seasons come where it seems that hours are spent holding little ones, redirecting, listening, giving input, and just being. One of the things that I value from being home schooled was how life really revolved around the home. Education, morals, dreams, and interests were all explored within it's walls. Our new rental is amazing! It is more spacious than I could have imagined with a large backyard and I am excited for the explorations that will take place here. It is one of my greatest desires that the culture of our home would cultivate my children's gifts and that they would receive a framework with which they can interact with the world. Sometimes in all the “mommy” things of life, the other part of me feels forgotten. There are days when I struggle with finding balance. Balance between living missionally, i.e. getting things done and taking care of their needs.

This past year has been a whirlwind. There were moments I just stopped and tried to take it all in before the next thing happened. Tonight in putting the final touches on dinner, both girls were screaming, and to not loose my sanity, I said, "Thanks God, for these girls, that I get to be a mom." Simple. It worked. Something shifted in my heart. They were still a hot mess, but my attitude changed.

So back to why I feel like there is more. There is a second part. The missional part. The being a mom part is a given. The missional part is the part I feel is a fight. It's about fighting for what's deep in my heart. Not everyone needs to find fulfillment in the same ways. The unique way I was wired, my perspective on life cultivates desires that keep pushing forward insisting I pay attention. Each of us has a background and passions that speak to us on a daily basis. One of the things I am compelled to do is write. It's a way to both express and extend myself to the world. Another way is being involved in justice work, speaking up for those who have no voice. I live to see broken lives restored, to see God show up in the most hopeless, most impossible. It often feels overwhelming to balance the work I do and the thousand little needs that cry out for my attention every day. Especially with small children.

It is easy to look at my single friends and reminisce of the freedoms I enjoyed, but really, each of us faces needs in our lives that push for our attention. I can still see Ellie looking across the table at me tonight asking why I was sitting in a different seat (closer to Lyric since Eric was gone), and then we laughed as I stretched my arm out, "I can't reach you, Ellie!" Some things may feel a bit out of reach right now, but stop and thank God in the middle of your now, there is a gift, a strength.

I have some questions, and if you would like to share your insight, please comment below. How do you invest in your children and live missionally? Is there something that if left undone causes you to feel incomplete? Where do you find yourself in the journey of discovering what gives you life? What word of advice would you give to those of us who are met with great needs both inside the home in in the work we do? 

Here are a few things that I have been mulling over lately. Accept my apologies in advance for those who can’t relate to this season of my life, you can stop reading now, but to those who want to explore this with me, let us journey on.

Here are a few words of wisdom I am trying to center my life around.

What brings me joy, rest, peace?
What am I going to do to thrive?

Some things in life we can’t change. But we can respond to our life and cultivate space for being healthy and whole. If we run ourselves dry, what else will we have to offer?

While I lived in Thailand (you can read about those experiences in previous blog posts on Shelter and Rain) there would be days I escaped to a coffee shop to write, to think, to be. That luxury comes in large intervals with my present situation. So I have to give thought to what I need now…
A cup of coffee in the morning.
To sit up for a bit after the kids go to bed, to journal, to blog, to write that book a friend and I started.

I can’t wait to see my family in California. It looks like it may be a few months out. Some days there is an ache in my heart, a sadness in not being present with them. How can I fill some of those longings right now?
A phone call? A note. Intentionality.

It is really hard for me to take time for myself. I often feel guilty. But if I keep giving and don’t get a break, I go nuts. Ask my husband! With the new church plant that we are a part of, I want to live from a life of fullness, to give to these people and not on empty. Sometimes this means saying “no”, to things I would even enjoy doing, to live out the best.

One of the things that brings me joy is sitting silently in God's presence and journaling the words He speaks to me. It has been awhile since I have done this. Anyone else with me? Where do you go when there is a long spell of silence? In my case, I think I have just gotten busy with doing daily life and completing tasks. Good tasks. But I’m running on empty.

Today I heard: “Your girls need to see you resting, they need to see you play.”

I recently asked a fellow momma who engages in a similar call, “What advice do you have for a young momma working in this field?”

“Make sure your kids know that life doesn’t revolve around them.”

Culture. What kind of culture are they being raised in? It starts simply...

Christmas is approaching. I find our conversations at the store gravitating to “Ok, I’ll get that, but let’s save it for Christmas…” I am setting up a culture of getting. Is this what is truly on my heart? Receiving is wonderful, we receive the incarnational life that Jesus came to give us. But it is not the only thing we are called to. We receive so we can Give. I want their hearts to be cultivated with a desire to give. So I have been pondering little ways of doing that.

Growing up, Mom used to set up tables in the garage and we spent hours hand making gifts to give at Christmas. Our tree at home is often adorned with ornaments with the smudge of fingerprints from years ago. Have you handcrafted Christmas gifts before? And if so, what? How have you cultivated a spirit of giving when the entire culture screams consumerism?

Slow Down.
Sometimes we can receive the most profound advice from those whom we hardly know. There is a gal at church whom I have been blessed to speak with on only a few occasions. We met randomly at Starbucks one night. These are the two words she said as we parted ways a few Sundays ago.  

Slow down.

You know, I think there are a lot of things we do just because we think it will make or break our situation. What if we are making these decisions based on the perceived opinions of others? We need to stop comparing ourselves with others.

While in Thailand my sister visited me during a very strained time. I felt spread thin. The reason? Trying to meet expectations I perceived those in leadership had of me. But they weren’t the expectations that God had. So I slowed down. I made a schedule that allowed me to be home most afternoons. And you know what? Nothing fell apart. What expectations, especially in this season are you striving to live up to? Is it worth it?

Trust me, listening to His voice as you journey towards being the most true form of yourself will unlock things inside you never realized were there.

So in whatever season you are in, may you thrive, live from intentionality, and slow down to breathe in the gifts around you. This is part of the incarnation we celebrate at Christmas. May we each be present to the world in this day. 

Photo credit: Fordtograh-E.