Dear Wren and Lydia,
Wow…it’s been a long time since I’ve written on this blog or really blogged anywhere. I started blogging in 2007 because of your dad and wrote my heart, guts and mind out until about 2016. I wrote about your dad. I wrote about loss. I wrote about being a single parent. I wrote about you two. I wrote about teaching and about leaving teaching. I wrote about the goodness of God and a whole lot of hard stuff too. I wrote about the church. I wrote about every day life and also a lot of unique experiences and travels. And far more than I can even think of now. I wrote a TON of words.
So much so that at this point I hesitate to write more. It can feel as if the world is already so full of words and adding more to the pile just seems almost futile to me.
I wrote because that’s how I grieved. I wrote because it’s how I process and best communicate the deepest parts of me. At the heart of me, I am a writer and a lover of the written word, hence the ridiculous amount of books on our shelves and hence the piles of books I’ve given away. I’m so drawn to the written word that if jewelry, clothing or home decorations have words on them I will be far more likely to pick them up and consider hanging or wearing them! You know this about me!
And we’ve had so many words between us three. I’ve realized in these young adult years with you two at ages 19 and 20, we’ve had so many words that it seems like there isn’t much else to say, you’ve already heard it and probably don’t need or desire to hear it again. I’m not saying this because it’s bad or wrong…I’m just saying it as a reality…truth. I think that’s part of this particular season between us.
So why am I writing now? I’m not totally sure except that as usual I feel like I want to be able to pass along a few things that stand out to me as I approach the 50’s soon. Maybe it will help. Maybe like bread crumbs it will lead you home. That’s why I named this blog letters to lead you home in the first place :).
If my words help lead you home….and I don’t mean, Alton, IL as lovely as it is, but really home to heaven someday than I know it will have been worth the effort. I pray this will be true.
In the past 11 years a lot has happened. A lot that has totally rocked and changed my world and yours. We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs on a variety of fronts.
I now see more and more my own flaws so much more clearly…because at times I see you two do something and I realize…hmm…I know where they got that from and I see a better reflection of myself and the example I’ve set. This is very humbling. Very. Humbling.
It’s so easy to look at parents who are parenting farther down the pike than you are and think that “When we get to that time and part of life…it will be different.” I now realize that is pride. The reality is…nope…no parenting/child/young adult experience is perfect. And it’s alright. We have our own stuff to deal with just as any family does. And again…it’s alright. To be expected. Maybe just getting over the surprise of it being this way is the first and most helpful step. It’s an invitation to grace. I need grace. You both need grace and God is really good at giving it out. As we follow His example…we get better at it too.
What even matters? This is what I find myself wondering these days. What matters enough to even be expressed? What is worth actually putting out there? You know how it is…we live in a Facebook world, and it’s easy to see how much stuff gets posted that absolutely doesn’t matter. We all do it. Kind of like the meaningless small chat that happens when you’re in a crowd as people try to fill in the silence. So we all kind of take on unique personalities through what we choose to express.
I would imagine that many people think of me as the traveler. Always going somewhere doing something. Simply because that’s what I tend to post about. In reality, I am most often at home, happily at home in Alton, IL. Lydia…for you people might think of coffee when they think of you due to your posts. But anyone who knows you, knows that it’s far more than coffee to you. The coffee is simply the vehicle for you to talk about the deeper matters of the heart and the people you care about. Wren…for you people might think you’re pet obsessed. And yes you are a huge animal lover…but it’s more than that for you. I think there are deeper emotions and social justice issues to you that would come to light if we had more than snippets of ourselves that we show.
So I would kind of like to process…for myself, but also for the two of you for whatever it’s worth and maybe even a broader range of people if they happen to read this, what matters from a middle age woman experience. I don’t have any expertise beyond my own life story. This is not an end all, be all list and I don’t even know how long it will go on. I have no preset plans (which is shocking in itself!). I just want to stay open, fluid and see where this might go.
Some of these things will be highly practical and others not so much I’m sure. Some posts will be short and others long. But I hope I can get to the point, express it and move on without beating the horse to death in the process.
I have to start with God. That sounds incredibly cliche and I’m not into cliches, in fact I rather despise them. But…ignore that stuff and just know what matters always has to start with God.
I’ve always told you I don’t make a priority list or a to do list and put God on it or say “He’s number One.” I’ve heard those sermons…and admittedly I’m not drawn in by viewing God that way. I’ve always told you…I don’t put breathing on my to do list or my priority list, but I know good and well that I need to breathe…constantly or I die.
That is most simply how I feel about God. Either God is at the very source of everything in my life or I die. Death can look different depending on the moment but you’ve seen it in me. You know good and well when I’m running on Ruth fumes and not on God’s Holy Living Breath within me. I lose patience. Get frazzled. Irritable. Angry. Frustrated. I’m not kind. I judge others. I say and do things I’m not proud of. These are all signs that God is not at the Source of me.
Thankfully…there is a remedy. All I have to do is turn and face God…seek Him and there He is waiting for me. That blessedly simple. Every time.
Different seasons look different to me. But somehow there has to be a daily kind of encounter that is going on with God. Maybe through a devotion book or bible reading, prayer, journaling, church, bible study, walk outside…whatever. But there has to be a deliberate daily encounter going on with God for you or I to stay connected to The Source.
And girls…that is top priority. Absolutely top priority. More important than anything else. As in…you will die without it. Like breathing. In fact…just take a moment and consider your breathing. Feel the rise and fall of your chest and consider how you never have to give it a thought your body just knows it has to do it to stay alive. Think about how it feels to be under water, holding your breath and how good it feels to come up and get a breath. You know the panic of being under an inner tube or having someone dunk your head and hold you down. It’s terrible. In the same way your body knows instinctually to breathe…your soul knows instinctually that their is an emptiness to life without the Presence of God.
Adulthood often can feel empty. Empty days of repeated tasks…work, school, paying of bills, house jobs, etc. Emptiness is a huge thing adults face. Burnout…fatigue…boredom…feeling like you’re in a rut, these are all signs of emptiness. I would tell you and encourage you to realize that these reactions and more are telling you…you need to breathe. You need a daily encounter with God.
Maybe that’s a certain time of day. Maybe it’s a certain spiritual discipline…prayer, fasting, bible reading, journaling, etc. Maybe it’s a group thing through church or a small group.
Just know…it’s like everything good in life. If it’s not somewhat intentional it won’t just happen. Man I wish good things just ‘happened’ without intention…but we don’t just get healthy, lose weight, exercise, stay organized or any other good thing without intention. Call it our sinful nature. The truth is all of us as an entire human race if left to our own devices fall short. (Romans 3:23)
For me…this is what it looks like in practical terms at least in this stage of my life.
- I leave my bible open on the dining room table with my colored pencils beside it and my duck pencil sharpener as a daily reminder that this is something I plan to sit down and read and mediate on daily.
- Sunday morning…I’m at church. It’s not a hard decision…it’s been that way my entire life. But it is a deliberate decision and I know at times I’ve been tempted to miss. I’m always glad that I go anyway.
- At night…I often pray before Dane and I fall asleep…out loud. I pray about whatever comes to mind and work my way through every child and grand child and extended family and friends I can think of. I pray about world situations and thank God for everything I can think of. Dane is quiet…but I sense His agreement with me in prayer as we hold each other and leave everything we love and care about most at the feet of Jesus.
- In the wee morning hours I often wake up and pray some more for whatever comes to my mind. Eventually, I fall back asleep in peace.
- And finally…I just try to be aware of the Presence of God all throughout my day. I look for God. I keep a steady line of communication open with him all throughout my day. I try to listen to Him and notice opportunities He brings along my path. Practicing the presence of Christ is one of the most important disciplines for me honestly.
I don’t do these things perfectly. I miss days of reading the bible. I sometimes sit in the pew at church and am completely there in body but absent mentally. I forget to pray and worry instead. I get busy with life and stop being still and aware of God. But…I have learned over time what it looks like in me when I get too far away from this list. I recognize the signs quickly and try to course correct quickly.
The main ingredient of heaven is that we will be in eternal direct contact with God.
My hope and goal over time is to be closer and closer to that kind of connection all the time.
This post…this main thing that matters…doesn’t depend one iota on environment or money. It doesn’t matter what race, gender or education you have. This main thing that matters is available to Every Blessed Person on the Face of The Earth.
Don’t miss it. Don’t miss Him.
He is The Source of Everything Good. Peace…Joy…Love…Faith…Provision…Healing…Hope…Belonging…
Literally anything you crave at your deepest levels and try to fill by eating, drinking, shopping, or whatever else you might choose to do can only be met in Him. Don’t confuse the issue. Take the time to really ponder what you crave at your deepest levels, underneath all the layers and you will find, guaranteed…it’s gonna be something that can only be found in a living, daily, active relationship with God.
And yet…for most of us if left to our own devices we will skip, abandon, ignore and undervalue our relationship and time with God and not even give it a thought.
This Matters. Your very life depends on it. As in I can’t stress this enough. Your life will have good and bad, hard and easy, pain and joy. Every life does. It almost doesn’t even matter…if this very first thing I’m writing to you about is lined up.
Take a moment or two and think about your relationship with God. Where are you daily encountering Him? What new practices might you want to put into play? Where are you running on fumes? What are the sure signs of what it looks like in your life when you are running on fumes? Learn to recognize these…they will help you course correct. Sometimes there will even be another person in your life whom you trust enough to help hold you accountable too and this helps.
Praying God’s best for you always.
Love your middle aged momma who is always in your corner.