Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Knowing

It is 9:18pm and I am spent, empty, listless. Mondays can be like this, but today cast a heavier burden than usual. I drove to the kid’s school three times – almost four when I realized Kayla forgot her gym clothes. I baked bread, did dishes, made dinner, baked chocolate chip cookies. Helped Zach with four times as much homework since he missed school today. I drove to two stores and got my eyebrows waxed in an hour’s time. My activity tracker should say I walked the equivalent of five miles, but it only says 2.5 – a typical non-exercise day for me.

This weariness started at 5pm when I realized that today was all “doing” and not “knowing”. I did a plethora of things for those I love, but I didn’t invest in knowing them more and for that, I am sorry. I spent my time unwisely today. Yet, this is a typical pattern for me and I’m not sure how to change it. I sit in the living room, at the table, and look at their faces. I marvel how much they have changed over the years. In a few weeks, Abby will be five and do I remember how she looked when she was nine months old? Memories fuzzy, tasks always at hand. I don’t know how to get to know them better, to help them understand that they matter to me.

My failure to know haunts me with icy words. “They will leave you and never come back.” “You are missing out on everything.” “Why try to know them better, the time is so short.” And I withdraw into this gnawing pain. I don’t have an answer, I only know the question. And I usually have it together, which makes this all the more difficult. I understand the mechanics of the solution, but not the heart of it.

So I am quiet and listening and looking towards tomorrow, searching for grace.

What a Bird Taught Me About Complaining

Winter in southeast Michigan brutally assaulted us this year. A constant barrage of snow storms, extremely cold temperatures combined with repeatedly negative windchills have left us housebound and generally at a loss for what to do next. Plans constantly changing, roads icy and impassable, cancellations and structure thrown about. Everywhere I look or listen, I hear whining, complaining, and general disgruntlement.
I’ve been doing my best to be quiet and accept each day for what it is, but this is not an easy task. This morning, I woke before dawn as I typically do. I peeked out the back window to the stone frozen quiet, stars glittering, silver, sliver moon above.
As I started getting ready, I looked outside again, dawning day in blue and yellow and I heard a rabble – quiet but steady. One bird – chirping, tweeting, singing. A single, solitary greeting to the day. I looked earnestly for that bird. Every few minutes listening intently as the tweeting continued – a full 45 minutes of uninterrupted singing, praising in this bitter cold – that still, small voice.
This unprecedented weather – it has stopped us, stilled us, slowed us down, turned us, slipped our focus, dulled our senses by the shear repetitive nonsense of it all. But this bird got up and sang anyway. This bird knows his purpose – to glorify his God – to sing his praises, to fulfill his calling – to sing. And isn’t that what we need to do? Why complain about something we can’t change?
If the sun rose this morning and you have breath, health and your family around you, aren’t you compelled by gratitude to your creator? Even if you don’t have those things, God isn’t finished with you yet and isn’t that enough to know that you – a work in progress – can humbly, quietly continue in the purpose you were given?

To My Zachary


Yesterday you turned 5 – five, five, five.  I can’t believe that half a decade has passed
since I first held you in my arms.  Your
older sister taught me to be a mother. 
But you – you taught me how to love as a mother.
  Pushing you out was one of the most excruciatingly
difficult things I have ever done and I will never forget the feeling of you
entering this world.  All pain and
discomfort and intense, overwhelming eleven hours of labor began to fall
away.  

My heart began to race and didn’t stop for another six hours.  I sat up instead of sleeping – watching you –
 baby burrito cooing and humming in your
big sleep.  You were such a loud sleeper
and my heart ached with love for you – love at first sight.  

Now you run and jump and search for toys that begin with the
preschool letter of the day.  Every toy
can be made a gun or a sword and you leap off the top of couches in a single
bound.  You have a heart of gold
crumbling under the weight of my yelling and apologizing as fast as you
can.  You hug, kiss and protect your
sisters.  You tell me you love me when I’m
having the worst day.  

Your clear blue eyes dimpled cheeks and chin envelope me in
the reminder that there is so much good in this world.
  And you – in your five your old glory are one
of the best of those goods.  

I love you – my one and only boy.  I’m so grateful for you, Zachary John.  Your name means “remembered by a gracious God”
– he remembered me and in his grace and mercy gave me the gift of you. 

Thanksgiving Is


When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was that quiet
go-to-grandmas-eat-lots-of-food-and-be-bored-the-rest-of-the-day holiday.  Compared to Christmas, Thanksgiving was just
a halfhearted warm up act.
  Sure, it was
nice to be with family and share a big, hearty meal, but it was not a big deal
to me.
Over the years, my perspective has changed.  We first started hosting Thanksgiving nine
years ago.  We had just bought our house that
summer and I said offhandedly that it would be great to host a holiday, but
not this year because it was just too soon. 
We hosted anyway – hectic, learning, and chaotic, but I’m glad we did
it.  
The next year, I was pregnant with our first child.  The idea of being thankful seemed so important,
so integral to how life should be that I was grateful that this was our holiday
to host.
  I made handmade card
invitations, started to buy Thanksgiving décor, looked for ways to make this
OUR holiday.  We started speaking out our
thankfulness before the prayer and I was brought to tears nearly every time.  
Each year that passes, I am overwhelmed by all that I have
to be thankful for.  It seems to me that
over time this holiday – Thanksgiving – is what should matter most.  
Thanksgiving is:

  • Friends and family together sharing and loving
    each other – even when we don’t understand or like each other all the time.
  • Reminiscing, laughing, storytelling, traditions.
  • Food, warmth, pumpkins, turkey, and stuffing.
  • Brokenness…realizing that all we have – life,
    health, shelter, food, breath is a gift from God – grace for this moment –
    undeserved favor.

How can we not bow before God and offer thanks for each
moment?  How can we forget that each
moment of life is a gift?
  I don’t live
this thankfulness as I should – today being a prime example of my irritation
and anger and shaking of my fist at all that annoys and inconveniences me –
even the people that should matter the most. 
So come Thanksgiving, come to us broken ones – so that we can
weigh down time with grace and peace and a bit of joy to move us forward.