As Light Grows

It can be easy to look back to my childhood and think how different the world was. Of course, I’m remembering this world through eyes of a child. My world was my universe IMG_7521and stretched to the places I could walk and explore. When I was Bea’s age, my world also included our neighborhood in Germany and the countries my parents took us to visit during our years there.

While that would eventually shape my worldview, at the time, my world was as narrow as any 5-year-old’s.

For my girls, their world is our yard, the walks we take to school and the neighborhood park, play dates around town, our favorite national parks, our yearly visits to Philadelphia, and occasional visits to California.

I did a quick Google search of world conflicts in 1982. There were 42, ranging from martial law in Poland to the Hama massacre in Syria. I don’t know what the exact numbers are for 2017 but I do know that conflict has been with us since time began.

When we look at Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt after the birth of Jesus, I wonder how different it was for them to leave family and friends behind, knowing that little boys they knew would be killed from a family fleeing their home today?

Maybe the world isn’t all that different but my hope is different. I’m grateful that my girls will have access to global news easily and quickly. That they’ll know what is happening to their worldwide neighbors – both the victories and the laments.

As we keep lighting the Advent candles and our dinner table grows lighter, bit by bit, I am reminded that this world is growing lighter. That we are raising our kids with a deeper sense of hope and peace.

Where are you finding a different kind of hope these days? How do you celebrate raising kids with a different worldview?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “different.”

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Entering Advent Weary

Our routine has been thrown off this week. I’m looking for something to blame – maybe it was a week of houseguests? Maybe it’s just a growth spurt? I vaguely remember having this same issue with Bea at this age… Whatever it is, I’m definitely not savoring these little years right now. When parents talk about teenagers sleeping in, it sounds glorious.

christmas-2984210_960_720While I was lying awake at 3:00 this morning, I reflected that perhaps it’s not a bad thing to enter Advent weary. A handful of nights of interrupted sleep certainly isn’t the worst of parenting that I’ve experienced so far. I know that there is a light at the end of this stretch and that our rhythm (and sleep!) will be restored.

In the early hours, I thought of all the ways I cannot wait to see the light of hope, of peace, of joy, restored. When systemic oppression ends; when global crisis is recognized; when solutions are realized rather than sides taken; when victims are trusted and believed; when the hierarchy of hospitality is removed.

That’s what Advent is, right? This recognition of global groaning – the reminder that we need a hope and a new way of doing things. I’m entering this Advent weary and I hope to use this physical reminder of the spiritual anticipation this season brings.

How are you entering Advent this year? How does your physical space affect your spiritual space?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “near.”

When Something is Better Than Nothing

I have an alarm set so that I can wake up before my kids in order to snatch a minute or two of quiet for myself. I have about a 50-50 chance of it working as planned. Sometimes, IMG_7282someone is up in the middle of the night and I need an extra 20 minutes of sleep. Often, someone wakes up early and we’re all downstairs, starting the day with the sunrise. Naptime is often a guaranteed time of quiet when the house calms down and I can breathe. 1:00 is not my most productive time of day, but I’m learning to use it.

Sometimes, when I’m gifted a silent morning, I don’t know what to do. The house is too quiet; my thoughts have trouble organizing themselves; I’m used to writing in the chaos. It’s not ideal but it’s become my practice.

It makes me wonder how many other things are being done in a less-than-ideal space. I have a hard time balancing this idea of fitting life in all the spaces and waiting until a season makes sense. Right now, my creative outlet of writing is firmly in the margins. I know I don’t have the capacity to work beyond a blog post and I wonder, what’s the point? The point, of course, is that if I didn’t write blog post after blog post, I wouldn’t be writing at all. It’s a small discipline but it’s a discipline, nonetheless.

For a time, I did a traditional “quiet time,” reading the Bible at a set time every day. Our schedules have changed and I haven’t found that perfect time again. I know it will return someday and in the meantime, I keep my Bible out and ready. If I didn’t snatch a bit here or there, nothing would happen.

It’s the same for cleaning, for entertaining, for date nights and conversations. I’m learning that something is better than nothing, even in that most imperfect form. I was talking with a friend who reminded me that I won’t be snatching moments forever; that our lives and schedules will change soon enough. But I have to ask, what am I doing now in preparation for that time?

What are practices you must squeeze into the margins of life, when doing them imperfectly is just as important as having all the time in the world?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “silence.”

Bridging the Gap

The other day I went on a field trip with our Family Literacy program to the Museum of Nature and Science. We have had a membership here since Bea was little. One of our favorite activities is exploring the dioramas, the hall of life, and the dinosaurs. As I was talking with other moms, I was amazed at the fact that this was most of their first time visiting! Even though their kids are my age, going to this incredible place just wasn’t on their radar.

IMG_7032The older I get and the more stories I hear, the more I realize how little I’ve had to overcome in this life. My parents were able to provide for college; my loans for grad school were minimal since I was going into a field that was underrepresented, both in interested workers and in finances. I’ve had opportunities to travel, to learn, to be continually supported in my decisions.

I am incredibly grateful for these privileges and would never want to trade them. As we plan for the future and make decisions about how we’ll raise our girls, a lot of these same values are guiding our choices.

But coupled with what I’ve been given, I think it’s important to remember that I am unique. Not all my friends were given the gift of a paid-for college education. Not everyone I know has had the support to travel and explore.

I think that this is what everyday privilege looks like. When we talk about the evils of privilege, I think a lot of us think of one group working really hard and another group living off of government support. People have a lot of big feelings about the word privilege these days.

Privilege, of course, isn’t limited to travel and education. It’s not worrying about the bills or knowing we can finance something if we had to. It’s knowing how to save and live within our budget. (And how to make a budget in the first place!) I think privilege looks different for everyone because we all take our values and make choices differently.

But, part of walking humbly with God is recognizing all God has given me and all that others may not have. It’s learning to bridge the gaps, not so that one side loses out but so that all sides gain.

When did you first recognize your own area of privilege? How do you hold that humbly?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “overcome.”

BackyardThis post is Day 27 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

The Courage to Unlearn

Whenever I’ve flown across the ocean, there’s a moment when I’ve looked down and only seen water. It’s a different feeling, knowing that there is no land for miles and miles. IMG_5455I’ve never taken a long boat ride or a cruise, but I wonder what that feeling of losing sight of the land is like? Knowing that one is truly out to sea?

I am at my best when I am learning new things. When I remember that my life experience and outlook are limited and that I need to dig in and listen to more stories, I feel alive and active.

This week has been incredibly busy but incredibly filling. From discussions that are shifting my view of the narrative arc I’ve always had of the Bible to learning about next steps in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; from Voxing about books and travel and cultures to teaching English language learners the meaning of Small Talk, this week has been filled with a lot of conversations and perspectives that are giving me pause and creating a shift in my thinking.

I’m reminded of the Andre Gide quote,

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.

Andre Gide, The Counterfeiters

In so much of my thinking and perspective, I love taking small day-trip sails out into new waters but I usually keep the shoreline in sight. I find security in being tethered to what I already know and perceive.

What I’m learning is the importance of going out farther, deeper, without the safety of the shore. That takes courage and a good, knowledgeable guide but I’m feeling more and more ready to take what I’m learning to some new levels. When I do this, my outlook is kinder and more empathetic. It’s certainly uncomfortable, unlearning and relearning, but I think this path of discovery is worth that.

What’s something you’ve had to unlearn recently? How do you balance growth and discovery?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “discover.”

BackyardThis post is Day 20 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

Preserving Good Intention

In 2014, my relationship with friends on social media changed. Events happened here in the United States and people took to their Facebook pages, declaring loyalty to one side or another. This is also around the point with Facebook introduced the “hide friends” feature, meaning you could stay friends but just not see their posts.

tree-200795_960_720In some ways, this feature saved many of my online friendships. As people became more and more outspoken, I began seeing them only in relation to their stance on certain issues, rather than as a holistic person with nuances and layers of opinions.

The majority of my friends on social media don’t live near me. We can’t meet for coffee or dinner and our interactions are fairly limited to the filter we choose to present to the world. And, I’d say a lot of my friends have somehow managed to keep social media what it was meant to be: social. They stay away from politics and keep my feed filled with babies and daily life.

I struggle to find this balance. Life hasn’t gotten less complex in the past few years and I know my friends’ opinions on the role of law enforcement, of the conflict in Syria, of the recent elections, and so much more. I know that if I could just invite them to dinner, we either wouldn’t talk about any of this at all or we’d have a stimulating conversation. Maybe we still wouldn’t agree but we’d talk over dinner and our discussion would be infused with our kids and our daily lives.

I’m wondering what the role of justice and activism look like in this age of social media. To stay quiet is to take a stand. To say something can be polarizing. I’m learning to choose my words carefully, to defer to those who have more knowledge and experience, and to use the “hide friend” button as a way of preserving good intention toward my friends.

How do you balance real life friendships with online images? When it’s impossible to sit down face-to-face, how do you remember the nuances of opinion?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “invite.”

BackyardThis post is Day 13 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

Tracing My Own Story

Our speaker yesterday at MOPS led us through exercises in defining freedom in our stories. What are our yeses and nos? How do we achieve those? It was an incredible experience and made me reflect on my journey and what defines me.

vintage-2608934_960_720It also made me think of this journey in seeking justice. So many issues around the very word justice are polarizing. One person’s definition could be completely different from another’s. And it made me reflect that each of our stories have a defining moment of justice. No one responds to world events based solely on their news channel of choice. Though we may be influenced by those particular sources, our own stories and life experiences are really the lens that shades our response.

I grew up in a conservative military town. My family isn’t part of the military but I was surrounded by families and friends who were. I didn’t really think about gun ownership rights and privileges until I moved to France and was in discussion with those who had strong opposing opinions. When I trace my story, those experiences and conversations set me on a path to discovering my own opinions.

I’m thinking about looking at the issues that give me a strong reaction and mapping out my own journey with them. Why do I feel certain way about immigration rights and reform, about gun ownership rights and reform, about education rights and reform? Perhaps by really looking at my own story, I’ll better understand the stories of others.

My friend and fellow blogger, Andrew commented on my post about guns and I appreciate his point of view. (Check out his full, thoughtful comment here, but I wanted to leave you with this:

The problem facing our country is not gun control or an erosion of constitutional rights; it’s far deeper, and it’s called alienation.
We’ve become a country so fragmented by the ability to please ourselves, without having to plug into a physical community, that we consider ourselves virtual citizens of the world…but how many times have you heard the term ‘civic pride’ used recently, except in mocking scorn?
Just as alienation begets indifference, community begets responsibility and accountability. And that is what we need, now more than ever.
How do you step back to recognize your own story in your opinions? Have you ever taken time to map out your journey in relation to certain issues?

 

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “story.”

BackyardThis post is Day 6 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.