During Hurricane Matthew, we had my sister’s two daughters for nearly two weeks. My sister had to work at the hospital on lockdown, so she wanted to be sure her girls would be safe away from the storm. I loved having them. How wonderful it was to have two extra sets of hands with my two little girls. While I was feeding my baby and putting her to bed, my nieces would change and take care of my two-year-old. My oldest niece loves to help in the kitchen, so it was wonderful having someone make dessert while I made dinner, or to chop, or to measure. I was so spoiled having their help. When finally the flooding receded, my nieces were able to go back home, it was like I was missing limbs. Who do I get up first? How do I get them both down for naps when they’re melting down? Oh yes, reality. Hi there.
I can remember writing something for my Freshman writing class at UNCW. Actually, I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember verbatim what my professor wrote underneath my 80%. “Brevity is good, but this is way too short.” I had written down my point. I didn’t feel like there was any need for more fluff. I’m not good at making stuff up as filler. When someone says, “I’ll try to make this brief,” take a breath and get comfy. You know you’re in for a long-winded story.
The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question “Do you see the same truth?” would be “I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,” no Friendship can arise – though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.
C.S. LEWIS, The Four Loves
Finding and making new friends as a married woman, and now as a mother, has been a long, and sometimes lonely journey. As a single person, there is no worry about making sure you’re home in time to spend some quality time with your spouse. When presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Thailand for a few weeks, your answer can be “heck yes!” only after considering whether your finances are limiting. Dinner plans can be made at the last minute and no warning is needed if a friend wants to swing by. There is so much more to consider. Now as a wife and mother, I mostly would look for other wives with children, so we have husbands and kids in common. Are my single friends still there? Are my friends with no kids still there? Of course. It’s just different.
Have you ever had a dream? Something you deep down wanted to do, if money and time were limitless? The older I get, the more I realize that those seeds God planted inside you are meant to grow and meant to bloom. Don’t let what others are doing dissuade you from your purpose. If you have always wanted to open a bakery, but felt discouraged by the bakeries open around you, it’s not that they necessarily bake better than you. It’s just that they actually did the work. Most of us have phenomenal dreams and ideas, but aren’t that stellar about following through to the end. Distractions abound. One of the worst enemies is ourselves. Put your cell phone down and stop scrolling through those Facebook posts. Stop oogling over Pinterest and HGTV. Start your own dream. Do something about it.
We all live our lives with an audience watching, whether we realize it or not. In high school, we’re all so self-conscious, star-struck or intimidated by those considered the “cool kids” that we may not even consider the fact that there is somebody looking up to us. In a society now so saturated with selfies and live videos, it seems like the younger generations thrive on having an audience for very shallow reasons. As Jesus followers, we are called to live our lives differently. It isn’t just for our own benefit, but for others’. Don’t be afraid to be the one who brings a 6-pack of Gatorade to the party. It’s just as cathartic to say “fricking” when you’re mad, and not drop the F-bomb. Be thankful, be generous, defend the underdog, and be kind. Yes, people who aren’t Jesus followers are these adjectives, too. But if you aren’t these things but proclaim to love God, to which audience are you pandering? God or man?
This is also part of the regular Five Minute Friday writing community. Here‘s the linkup if you’d like to check out other writers’ thoughts on the word Who.
When I was a kid in elementary school, and was asked to write about myself, I wrote about who I was in relation to my parents. My mom was one of eight biological siblings and one other half sister. Her parents were Irish and Swedish. My dad was born in Bordeaux, France, and his mom is French, and his dad is Hispanic. So, my description wasn’t really about me, but my interesting heritage. I really don’t think I could describe WHO I was until I hit age 30. Throughout my high school and college years, and even into my twenties, I sort of chameleoned my personality based on my friends. I picked the best, most likable characteristics of my friends and tried to imitate, creating a Frankenstein of a self that wasn’t easy to maintain. I was always wondering who really liked me, and why, since I wasn’t even sure who I was myself. And I didn’t find myself very interesting. At 30, I didn’t all of a sudden change who I was. I just decided to believe that I was likeable. That God made me who I am and that was enough. I was enough. God had given me talents and gifts and interests totally unique to me and I started liking who He’d made me to be.
When I was young and single, really from high school through my twenties, I’d look at couples and wonder how they’d met each other. Out of all the people in the world, it seemed as if everyone had a partner, except me. I’d look at couples and get jealous that they had found someone to love them. I’d even get jerky, and think to myself, “If THAT girl can find someone, what’s wrong with me?” It seemed I was on an exhausting, frustrating quest to find “the one.” Finally, once I hit thirty, I decided I was done looking. I was tired of being let down and so I decided that I was going to embrace being single. I loved living alone in Denver, had a job I loved, snowboarded every weekend in the winter, and hiked even more in the spring, summer, and fall. And so of course, once my heart was content, that’s when I met the man to whom I’ve been married for four years today. On a 150 mile, 3 day bike ride fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Colorado through the mountains.
I’ve written quite a bit about mothering my two year old lately. I guess it’s been therapeutic getting it written out how I’ve been feeling. Dang it, it is not easy having a 28 month old and a 7 month old at the same time. My very content baby girl is so enamored with her big sister that she doesn’t even cry when her big sister pokes her in the eye or pushes her over when she’s sitting, or yanks a toy out of her hands that she was pretty excited about gnawing on. Me, on the other hand, I want to blow up. I think it’s a culmination of my two year old pushing the boundaries of her independence, yet still desperately wanting my attention, in spite of that pesky baby sister. I have to pause before I open my mouth to rebuke and discipline, or words that I can’t erase at a volume I can’t turn down will escape my lips. In that pause, I whisper, “Please help me, Jesus!”
Quiet your mind, Child.
Sit in my lap and look up at my face.
I want to look in your eyes and see myself
For I created you.
I know how many hairs are on your head- and how many you had before today.
I know your anxious thoughts.
I’ve collected your tears that number the grains of sand.
I’ve created those shoulders to carry your children, not your burdens.
I’ve given you a tender heart to love people and show them how much I love them too.
I’ve given you a voice to encourage and proclaim life over yourself and your family.
I am always available for you to talk and for me to speak truth into you.
All you have to do is pray.
There are some days when I find myself watching the clock. That long hand seems to drag like a spoon through pudding. “When will Daddy come home?” I ask myself on the particularly long days of carrying around a medicine ball in the form of my 6 month old, and trying to keep my pride and authority alive with my two year old. When is nap time? When is bedtime? When is lunchtime? Anything to break up the day. I know these days are fleeting. My girls’ childhood is just a tiny snippet to a feature-length film, and I don’t want to wish it away. I want to take it all in, catching every minute, even finding humor in the hard times, so that I can laugh and say when we’re all old, “Remember when…?”