If you are visiting from St. Luke's, welcome! You can read all of the posts in my 29 Days of Giving series here. I hope you'll continue to visit in the days to come. You can subscribe through e-mail or RSS and get new posts delivered directly to your inbox or feed reader. You can also find me on facebook.
Thank goodness, things seem to be up and running again.
I experienced a surreal moment yesterday as I listened to Dr. Kent Millard preach his sermon on "Remember to Share." He mentioned my family by name and detailed two of the stories I've shared here during my 29 Days of Giving Series: Cup of Joe and 29 Books.
The reasons why I blog have slowly changed over the years. How funny that yesterday was the 4th anniversary of the blog. Four years ago I would have never imagined anyone reading it other than a handful of close friends. And then there I sat, listening to Dr. Millard preach about how my stories impacted him, how they might impact the members of the 11th largest Methodist church in the U.S. That is humbling, my friends.
When I sit down to tell my stories, I think of two things. How might this help me? How might this help others? I tell my stories in hopes that you might find them funny, that maybe a little bit of laughter was just what you needed today. I tell my stories in hopes that you will find something relatable in them, both in my best and worst moments. I tell my stories in hopes that this person, place or thing I've discovered might be new to you as well, that you might find your new favorite place to visit, or cause to celebrate.
But mostly? I tell the stories for myself and for my children. The stories we are living today will quickly fade from my memory if I do not write them down. I look over things I've written even six months ago and I think, Really? Did that happen? I can't help but think of the lyrics from Mindy Gledhill's Hourglass:
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Each story, each grain of sand, is different. Some of my stories are more bitter than the sweet ones that Dr. Millard shared yesterday. I try so hard to include both kinds. The stories of when I've come up short as a mother and a wife are important to me, even though I cringe when I hit "Publish," and rarely go back and read them again. They are painful to me. I don't need to read them again to remember. But these kinds of stories are not for me, they are for you and they are for my children.
They are for you because as mothers and fathers we need to know that we all have failings. I do not want, for even one second, for you to glance at my pretty pictures and sweeter words and think, Well, aren't they perfect? But that's not my life. I want you to know that what you see and what goes on inside these four walls isn't always the same.
They are for my children because when they grow up to be a mother and father, I do not want them to be ashamed when fail to meet the standards we have set so high for parenthood. Our parents did not try this hard, did not stress themselves out about our "emotional intelligence" and self-esteem. My mother remembers that sometimes it was hard, but she does not remember specifics. I want my children to be able to look back and read my words, captured in the passion of the moment when I believed they would never sleep through the night, go to school without crying, or behave in public. Then, hopefully, their feelings of ambivalence about this whole parenting thing will be a little less confusing. My mother felt this way once, too. And we turned out just fine (hopefully).
And then there are the sweeter stories. When children are sharing, when spouses are lovey-dovey, when there was plenty of joy and laughter. Selfishly, these are there mostly for me. My brain wants to dwell on the ugliness. I can lie in bed at night and recall every last thing that I screwed up royally. These sweeter stories sustain me as a mother. I can re-read them and remember, even on my darkest days, that there is loveliness in this family. I can hear Dr. Millard recount my actions to others, and – barely believing it myself – know that I am doing okay. In all my imperfectness, what I am doing is good enough.
Thank you for giving me this space to share the bitter and the sweet. You've been so encouraging over the years, and it's because of you that I've felt so incredibly safe to write whatever is on my heart. In all the grains of sand that have slipped through this hourglass in the last four years, I hope you've found something that's blessed your life as well.
Today I Gave: A Christmas card for an unsponsored child in Ecuador via Dayspring and Compassion International. You can do it, too. Visit this post over at (in)courage to learn about a Christmas card drive of epic proportions.
Today I Received: Too many blessings to count. The mention in the sermon, seeing the pride swell in Elena she heard her story of sharing told from the pulpit, friends to support me, family who are proud of me, and all of you. Each and every one of you that has ever read my words – you are a gift to me.
And now, to conclude the longest post ever! Here is Mindy Gledhill's Hourglass. This is for Elena and Eli. You are my biggest source of material. I do this all for you, in hopes that one day you'll thank me. After you spend your teenage years hating me for embarrassing you on the internet.
Please don't turn around and grow up way too fast.