Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Plight of a Self-Pressured Mother

Well, it's finally here.  I'm sitting at my desk watching my husband and son drive off for Braden's first day back at school; Colleen has been gone for an hour already; my two nieces are asleep in the back bedroom, a spur of the moment trip to watch their beloved Auburn Tigers go to battle at the BCS Championship in Pasadena (War Eagle!) a surprise from their parents for Christmas; and me, chomping at the bit to write a word, a phrase, a thought that might capture something of value for the start of 2014.  To quote my husband as he was leaving, "You got something cooking for your blog today?," his observation of me finally sitting at my desk not at all lost on me. 

"Yep," I ruefully replied, my thoughts from a mere moment ago assailing me once again.

While steaming my son's school clothes, I thought about the fact that I had not arisen early to do my Morning Pages.   No progress made on my book.  Not a sentence written...again.  In fact, I wrote only one blog post in December and six in November.  Twelve December drafts unfinished.  70 posts total in 2013 compared to 157 in 2012...less than half.  The numbers don't lie. 
"What exactly did I do in 2013?" I asked myself. 
"What a waste of a year." 
Immediately, the shame of that judgment washed me over like a molten bath.

Happy New Year.

There are weeks...
that I do this to myself. 
Do you?
I question how or what I have been doing with my life while friends, acquaintances, and contemporaries seemingly sail by with their big houses and successful careers; high-achieving children and rooms with a view; travels abroad and well-oiled physiques.
In the meantime, I'm steaming clothes and making lunches.

Thankfully, as quickly as I thought "wasted year," God gave me His word.
His light.
His hope and His reassurance.
And in so doing, His salvation.

2013 may not have been the writing-est year.  (Hmmm, I wonder why with words like "writing-est" springing forth?!?)
It may not have been the most adventurous or career productive...
The most financially rewarding.
But, oh, so far from a waste it was.
Truly, in familial ways...in growing, in caring; in helping and in teaching, and with His guidance and help, it was a great success.

I thought back on personal challenges and achievements...
Launching and navigating a crowdfund campaign...
Hiring and working with the Mastri Design team on my God-sized dream, the Branching Out in Faith app (release date TBA!)....
Travelling to Europe to direct a Young American tour...
Being hired by Disney Performing Arts to master teach a new project for incoming schools...
Together with various freelance writing projects, I've stayed pretty busy.

But truth be told, these are just work.
Blessings to be sure, but still work, in progress or completed.
The true success lies within family.  
If I hadn't done even one of the items listed above, I could still count my year as one bearing the fruit of life.
In listening to His beckoning, I accomplished much, much more - more than "work" - than had I struck out on my own, conquering the business world, the financial world, the world of accolades and acclaim.
Honestly, that I had faith in His plan rather than my own was, I feel, my greatest personal achievement.  Because it's hard to see with eyes of faith rather than eyes of the world.  To trust and walk, not certain of where the path is leading.

He had more in store for me than the business world.
He needed me elsewhere.

He guided me down a rough road with my daughter this year, helping her navigate the treacherous waters of fear and uncertainty, hopefully developing the necessary skills to embark upon her life's journey in the fall.
He brought joy to my heart as I watched my son gain his first, true friends - with God's help, Braden finally found "his people."
He gave me the eye to create beauty in my home, bringing warmth and welcome for those who entered.
He blessed me by leading us to a fatherless family in need, a mama and three children with whom we've been able to share our blessings...visiting, feeding and praying His word.
Perhaps most importantly, He's given me the means to help care for dear friends, some on the brink of breakdown and others facing unimaginable loss. How could it possibly matter if I wrote a page on those days when He needed my love and care elsewhere?

Of course, there are days that I haven't listened.  (There's the true waste!)
There have been days when I would rather watch the season premiere of Downton Abbey than write a word or do as He beckons.
(As now, dear readers, so please recognize true sacrifice when you see it...)
And yes, there may be days, months, even years, when I look around at my ostensibly mundane life and wonder, "Where am I going? What have I accomplished?"

But I'm learning.  
It is during those times of doubt that we all must look further, into our very depths, into our ever changing souls and see.
He is doing a work in us.  In our families.  In our worlds.
He is changing us.
He is growing us.
And with every step, every breath, every "thank you" uttered in His precious name, our years - both past and future - hold the greatest value, the greatest reward....never wasted in doing His bidding.

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