Wednesday, November 11, 2015

what will you do with your one wild and precious life? what I'm doing today.

For seven and a half years here, in fits and starts, I have thought about and ruminated over and over-shared about the question of what to do with your one wild and precious life. It has always been a central question to me, one I stand on the brink of and stare into with fear and curiosity and a bit of wander-lust.

I like living, and I like all of its complicated parts. I like the humanness of each of us, as painful as it may be, and I like the questions. I like what will you do? and wild and precious. And I especially like tell me about it.

Over the course of this blog I have exposed a lot of my self-doubt. I began the blog as we were leaving ministry in the vocational sense, and I spent a long time grappling with that. I began to write and then I began writing a novel, and I wanted this sorely and flailed mightily and kept blogging about it. Along the way I was a mother; joyfully, imperfectly.

A year ago I was restless. The novel I was writing felt stuck. And more than that. I was stuck. I couldn't put a finger on it at the time, but something wasn't working.

I read the book The Call, by Os Guiness, which was profoundly liberating. The book changed my thinking about calling, away from calling as a career. We are called by the voice of our Good Shepherd. My call is to follow Christ.

Next came a significant, personal decision. I needed to surrender my ideas of significance.

I set at the Lord's feet my ambitions. My fears of living an insignificant life. I gave up my understanding of success. I surrendered my ideals and idealism.

And I needed to get a job. We moved into a house that needs some love, and I needed to work to help pay for improvements. I'll spare all the details, but I felt the Lord very directly open the door for a part time job working retail.

I sell luxury home goods. I dress up and talk about leather. I fluff sofas.

But this is what I have discovered I love more than my ideals . .. even more than any humanitarian/ ministerial/ artistic calling . . . I love people. I love the people I work with, I think they are beautiful. I pray for them, and I pray for the people I am selling furniture to, and as I steam sofas and vacuum rugs I pray.

And I love being a mom and homeschooling my kids, and I love the little co-op we are a part of, and teaching writing and grammar to some of the brightest, kindest ten year olds you will ever meet.

I used to think knowing what to do with my one life was necessary and important. I used think, just this year I thought it; well, this morning I thought it once before getting out of bed, just for a breath- that living well is meant to be hard or original or sacrificial, some holy calling, some untraveled path.

Now I wake up and pray, I thank you God for most this amazing day. And thank you for the work you have called me to do today. Help me to do it well.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Life is very full right now. I may have bitten off more than I can chew. All good things, all things I would not choose to give up.

But every season loses something to begin something, and the thing I feel I'm losing is art. Solitude. Reading and writing. Me, I guess. The person I thought was me.

Some days I think this is okay for now. And some days feel as though I am missing a limb.

No, not a limb. More like the core of me, at the center. I wonder where I am inside.

I tend to remember everything as better than it was. This week I found my way back to old blog posts from several years ago. And I found myself nostalgic, thinking what good years they were. The kids were so small and precious, the days simpler and sweet and I felt fruitful and passionate. Everything is golden, in memory.

But they were good and terrible years. Events which I never wrote about shook me so profoundly that it was like being uprooted, like the ground falling away beneath me.

Funny how memory sifts things.

I miss writing. I miss the days when words came too quickly to get them all down, when I was sleepless and centered. I carried notebooks in the diaper bags.

But the truth is that art begins in the dark. Where we are most desperate, most lost, unearthed- art- faith- comes from the black loose soil.

It wasn't easy to find my way then,  and it isn't easy now. It is never easy. But it is necessary. To find your nourishment and cling desperately to it. It is your life.

Now let no charitable hope
Confuse my mind with images
Of eagle and of antelope:
I am in nature none of these.
I was, being human, born alone;
I am, being woman, hard beset;
I live by squeezing from a stone
The little nourishment I get.
In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear,
And none has quite escaped my smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The girls and I left Thursday after swimming lessons to drive to my parents' in Sugarcreek. I forgot to pack lunches (or just didn't feel like it ;-) and so to avoid fast food or save money or something (?) we ran into Target to grab something for lunch, which took sixty-seven minutes and cost three times the fast food. We emerged with three bags of school supplies and two world maps which means that school is in fact going to happen again, somehow, though I am doing a grand job at ignoring reality.

(Also: three processed kid lunches contained within about sixty yards of packaging. My kids got to make their own turkey sandwiches with fake cheese in the car and this was the bestlunchever! and for about ten minutes I was the bestmomever!)

Friday I went to an event to celebrate the The Budget's 125th Anniversary. I write an article for the local section. But there is a second section which is made up of letters sent from 900 Amish communities all over the Americas. The letters share details of their community- the crops and weather, who is visiting, who is sick, etc. It is a way for communities to keep in touch with one another- an original facebook. I just love this paper, and community. I am so glad to be a part of it.

We drove home late Friday evening and I worked all day Saturday. Just enough time to unpack the car, and pack it back up again Sunday morning. Jim had to work Sunday, the girls and I headed to Mohican state park to camp with my family. Stop at the mall to buy my mom a birthday gift. Stop at Wal-mart for prepackaged boxed lunches all over again. (Tell me one quick lunch that is not guilt-inducing? I'm all out of ideas). Stop to buy a birthday cake. Stop for the bathroom. We can make this drive last allllll day.

We got to float down a river and eat burnt marshmallows and do all the summer things within about twenty-four hours. Home again last night, to no groceries and a week's worth of laundry and soggy towels and muddy shoes.

And a broken washer.

That was four trips in the car and one child who has a really difficult time in the car, which makes it really difficult for the rest of us. Four times packing and unpacking, a bazillion soggy towels and a dirty van and too much sugar. Maybe this weekend was all I needed to be almost, just a little bit ready for Summer's end. Almost.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Every summer has a theme and for our family this has been a summer of work. We've worked on the house, worked in the yard, worked on Math, worked on our bad attitudes. I have spent the summer working on the class I'm going to teach for our co-op. We have worked to ready the house for company and worked together cleaning up. I began a part-time job this spring. Summer is Jim's busy season at work and some weeks all we do is pass each other- quite literally- as he comes home from work and I leave for work; I work one weekend day and he works the other.

I like to work. I am glad for all of the ways I need to work right now.

I like my job. It is a good job, the hours are what I need and I am thankful for it. It is stretching me in ways I need to be stretched. I've tried to blog about it but it is too complicated and too boring to tell all the details; what and how and why I believe the Lord led me to it. And because I can be conflicted about everything, I've needed to sort and re-sort it out in my head; is this work meaningful or important?

Jim reminds me that most people don't get to do work that feels all that meaningful. It is the fallen condition of work. For now, my work is to make money and bless my family. I have a new sensitivity for people doing hard, meaningless work forty hours a week. I think a lot about this. There is a great lack of teaching on this subject.

But we can work as unto the Lord. We can offer our work to Christ. We can love our co-workers and pray for them. We can pray always. And Christ is there.

p.s. One night I was lamenting that I don't have contemplative time anymore. I said to Jim,I've not been reading or writing like I used to. My mind is too full of details, I only think in logical ways anymore. I feel shallow. My husband's ever-logical, wry response; Who gets to live a contemplative life all the time? Welcome to the world of the rest of us shallow people who have to go to work everyday to make money. Me, laughing: That's true. Thank you for being an engineer so I can be a mystic. ;-)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

buy yourself flowers

: because I have this habit of questioning every decision I ever make (my life's calling/ where to live/ how to pray/ crushed or diced tomatoes)

: because living on the surface is only floating

: because the one thing I sense the Lord instructing me to do is to lighten the heck up

: because I want a couple more kids and a front porch and fancy Sunday dinner, every week, and to write books and to wander and to live next door to all my favorite people

: because I want my kids to grow up in the city and the country

: because I can't believe my kids are growing up

: because today is only ten days away from the first day of summer and this is the very best time of year

: because I am homesick and content and anticipating, all at the same time

: because the Cavs

: because more and more I see how lost is the human condition apart from Christ

: because it is possible one day to just give up and to quit dreaming and stop growing and you aren't even dead yet, and I am opening all the windows and brewing strong coffee and buying myself flowers because I want to stay wide awake