Why I Quit Writing..

Why I Quit Writing..

“You absolutely cannot quit writing!” she bossed. “It’s your gift,” she demanded.

A smile spread across my face, “I have no intention on giving up on writing!”

The last blog I posted was 5 months ago. That breaks all the blogging rules. If you do not post once a week for six months straight, you cannot even apply to be on most blogging forums. Consistent writing produces consistent traffic, which produces consistent ratings, which they say produces successful bloggers.

This August will be my SEVEN YEAR blogging anniversary. I was 28 when I started blogging. My kids were 6, 4, 3 and 18 months. We were living in King George, Virginia. Mark was working for the DOD via the Navy, and I was homeschooling and keeping all the small people alive and well (Actually, mostly alive. Well, is subjective.)

I started blogging for sanity. I needed one thing, just one thing to call my own. One thing that allowed me to use adult words and tap back into who I was before gold fish, apple juice, diaper changes and Fresh Beat Band became the melody of my day.

In addition to my sanity, this was also the forum where I began to process my mama’s terminal illness,  her eventual death and my grief journey.

When I glance back at my early posts, I see a young woman who functioned primarily in black and whites, legalism and formulas. I had one million opinions and genuinely thought people needed to know them. I had so much fire in my belly and desperately wanted everyone else to feel the same fire at the same level. That sweet young woman makes me tired. I also see a young mom who was crazy about her husband and her kids, all while feeling a little crazy in the head. Somethings never change. 🙂 As the months and years pass, as my stories about my kids shifted from the funny things they did and said, to the heart-wrenching prayers we prayed out of desperation over their little aching souls, I see a young woman grow into a woman. As the months and years pass, the black and white fades more to gray. My legalism begins to melt, because I see myself more clearly. I see my brokenness and utter dependence on Christ alone through grace alone. Time and pain shattered all my formulas, because oh my goodness there is no secret equation for living. A + B never equals C in the kingdom of God, because He wants our hearts not the sum total our human arithmetic.

This white space here on the blog built me. It really did. I’ll never regret the choice to write. Never. My brother once told me, “Writers, write. That’s how I know you’re a real writer!” Those words gave me life.

Right now, in the sweet orbit of my world, my writing is morphing into something different. To begin with, school is getting all my writing power and energy. 10,000 words a week can make even a lover of words hate words. I don’t always get to write about the things that inspire me, but for the most part I do, and I am grateful. Second of all, those tiny babies who first appeared on this blog are no longer babies. They are these wonderfully, independent creatures who deserve to be able to write their own stories without my narrative tainting them. Their friends, teachers, coaches, and peers are all over social media, which is totally fun. But because I adore my kids, respect them and deeply desire to protect the best parts of them, everything I say about them now they get to approve or VETO. We live in a tiny town with big eyes, and I will storm the gates of hell to uphold their integrity. Here’s the ironic thing, my kids are providing the BEST writing material they have ever provided. The stories I could tell you would go viral in 2 seconds, and I say that with all humility. But man, my kids are more hilarious, more witty, more charming, more beautiful, more kind, more bold, more fiery, more humble, more tender, more authentic and raw than I will ever be. GAH! Maybe someday when they are grown they will give me permission to walk back through these glory days and share the chapters that I have only written on my heart. Until then, they are all tucked away and sealed for me to feast on for a lifetime. Third, and maybe most importantly, I’ve decided that I do in fact have something legitimate to say, but I don’t have to say it any more. As a young wife, mother and writer the haters often wrote the, “JUST YOU WAIT” monologue. “Just you wait til marriage gets hard. Just you wait til you have 2 kids, 3 kids a boy kid. Just you wait til they turn 2, 6, 10… Just you wait til you have a TEENAGER (insert all the horror looks–For the record, I adore my teenager and these are best years!!) Just you wait til you don’t like your spouse any more. Just you wait til something really hard happens in your life. Just you wait til someone really criticizes your work.. JUST YOU WAIT……” I’ve waited, lived, persevered and sometimes crawled through the “just you waits”.  And you know what? I’m still fighting and breathing. #BOOM! But standing on this side of a lot of the “just you waits” I have realized, I do in fact have something to say, but I don’t have to say it any more. *Deep sigh of relief.* I have nothing to prove any more. I don’t have to convince anyone of anything. Whether it’s wifehood related, motherhood related, theologically related, politically (OH GAG) related, culturally related, etc…etc.. It’s not my job to persuade. It’s not my job to convince. It’s not my job to save a blooming soul. How arrogant to think I could ever be more persuasive, more compelling, and more savior-esk than the Triune God, Himself. Oh young Sara, you were so dear.

Today more than ever, I believe in the power of words; written words, spoken words, broken words, expletive words, painful words, compassionate words and REAL WORDS. Don’t hear what I am not saying, I think if you are writing, KEEP WRITING. I think if you are preaching, KEEP PREACHING. I think if you are teaching, KEEP TEACHING. I think if you are singing, KEEP SINGING. But for me personally, I don’t have to do those things anymore the way I used to. I get to use adult words all day long in school, and all night long with Mark and the kids as we ping-pong hard, real-life topics around our dinner table. I get to process daily life with individual people in a really intimate setting that is deeply satisfying. I get to breathe and process my own junk in the silent presence of the Almighty God, while He faithfully refines and renews.  What more could I want?

This post is not goodbye. It it just a pause. A halftime of sorts. A mid-life crisis melt-down… (Just kidding) Do not fear, I write a little something everyday in all the other social media venues, because writing is like breathing to me.

This blog space is so dear to me. I found myself on the white spaces here. I found myself in my words; my beat-up, broke-spelling, grammatically-atrocious, words. But oh my stars, I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

Thank you for reading. You have no idea what you’ve done for me!

~Sara

Dear Parents Who Have Had A Child Die

Dear Parents Who Have Had A Child Die

During our family’s dance with my Mama’s Alzheimer’s, people would routinely say to me, “I don’t know how you’re doing this!” I deeply appreciated the verbal acknowledgement of the stunning loss we were grappling with. I deeply appreciated how people were willing to consider the reality we were being asked to embrace. I deeply appreciated the insight of the on-lookers, and the admittance of their inability to fully relate, but the absolute desire to show up and be in relationship despite the unfamiliar terrain they were being asked to walk. That’s what love does during trauma and loss; LOVE SHOWS UP!

My sweet hometown of Kansas City, has been plagued with some horrific and tragic accidents in the last few weeks. Each accident, culminating in a child being called home to glory sooner than human hearts were ready. Each accident cascading paralyzing sorrow and loss to all who stood near-by or drew near.

When grief visits you, when grief unwantingly invites itself into the intimate chambers of your life, you often find yourself staggering through a formless, nameless darkness, and it hurts like hell.

After some time in my own grief journey, it became healing to watch others love their mothers better and deeper in light of our loss. It didn’t always feel this way. In the beginning, I wrestled with bitterness as I watched other daughters my age dote on their very alive mothers. But time cushioned the grief, and now I delight in seeing children marinating in their parent’s presence. When people say, “I am making an effort to be there for my mom,” and “your story reminded me of how important it is to show up for my parents and spoil the snot out of them,” those, those small glimpses of our pain being put into practice for sweeter love, often leaves me speechless.

Dear Parents Who Have Had A Child Die,

You might not be ready to hear this, and I totally get that. You have complete permission to rise up internally and be mad and bitter at me because today, my children are alive. I’ll hold that space for you, because people have held the identical space for me. But when you are ready, when the grief doesn’t seem like a heavy blanket suffocating you, I hope these words offer you a moment’s reprieve from your sadness.

I was irritated the other night because red Mississippi mud was plastered all over her brand-new softball pants. My original technique did not get out the stains, so as I started round two I thought about you. I thought about how you would give anything to wash those baseball pants, those soccer shorts, those carrot-stained bloomers one more time. And while I thought about you, I cried and grabbed the tooth brush and scrubbed. Because of you, I released that stupid irritation and ran my hands over Katie’s softball pants as if it was the most precious jewel I owned. Because of you.

Clearly, she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. She stomped through her morning routine while growling under her breath. The bacon was too cooked, her water bottle was dirty and her favorite shorts weren’t clean. I was about to launch into a major Mama lecture when I thought about you. I paused and wondered how you would tell me to respond in light of your current ache. As she plumped to the ground to slip on her Tevas, I knelt down beside Julia and squeezed the mess out her. I lingered while she rested her head on my chest. Because of you.

She had a virus last week, something in the virus has attacked her inner ear, causing some high squealing and annoying screaming. It took several days to figure out why she wasn’t sleeping well, consequently no one has been sleeping well as we tried to trouble-shoot. Each night, for several nights, she has asked to sleep in our room and for me to lay with her until she falls asleep. “Mama, will you rub my arm until the screaming stops?” My flesh wants to be finishing the prime-time Olympic hour, but then I think of you. I know the tears that are falling on your pillow are tears of, “what-ifs, if-onlys, and “if I only had…..” And I know you don’t care two-cents right now about who wins the Olympics. And you would tell me the only gold medal that matters is found in the eyes of my little girl. And so I stretch out beside her, I take her 9 year old hand in mine and I trace my thumb around and around her thumb. I feel her breathing slow and her tiny hand relaxes in mine. I brush my lips across her precious cheek and whisper, “I love you, Lucy!” Because of you.

We have a house rule that Dr.Seuss cannot be read for school reading. He is too wordy, and ain’t nobody got time for those 62 pages (x2). My boy walked into the house looking like a drowned rat and smelling like a puppy dog, “Mama, it is HOT outside!” I grinned, “Sure is, baby!” He opened his back-pack and pulled out Dr. Seuss and all 62 pages of his glory. This wryer grin spread across Anderson’s face, “But Mama, I was running late in library and this is all I could find!” “For real?” my eyebrows rose. “Mama, plllllleeeeeeaaaassse!” I sighed and thought of you, “Bring me the book.” 62 (x2) pages later, he smooched me on my lips and said, “You’re the best Mama!” And the tears began to spill over. Because of you.

I can offer no solutions, no easy fixes, no rewind features or do-overs. But in my living, I will honor your hurting by loving my kids a little bit better. In my living, I will honor your aching, by pausing more, saying, “yes” more than “no”, and tuning out the white noise to find my children. In my living…..because of you!

~Sara

3 Secrets On How To Parent A Junior-Higher

3 Secrets On How To Parent A Junior-Higher

New parent of a junior-higher, come sit with me on my porch, . I have 3 things I need to tell you before you send that pubescent creature, whom you recall was a squishy toddler just yesterday, out your front door to their first day of junior high. There are 3 things I learned this past school year you might find helpful or horrible or both.

1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Here’s the good news, if you can force yourself to remember your own junior-high experiences and use those memories as a foundation from which you function and respond with your now junior-higher, you will be WAY ahead of the game. I didn’t have a horrific junior-high experience, but there is not enough money on this planet to send me back there. This mind-set was my life-vest as I re-entered junior-high in the 21st century, as a MOM.

It is the BEST of times, it is the WORST of times. Your junior-higher will most likely pendulum between these two realities. It can and will change daily, hourly, or on a moments notice with no explanation and no warning. Do you remember your emotional state in junior-high? I DO! I clearly remember feeling out of control a lot and having absolutely NO IDEA why. I mean, I felt this way last week too, but whatever… the pendulum is WAY more stable now that I’m 34.  😉

The cruel and GREAT things about junior-high still exist today. Remember that. These junior-highers may appear to still be small, but they are tiny adults carrying and processing complicated concepts and dilemmas. I was stunned at the different minefields we danced through this year alone. I don’t believe Mark and I are naive or have tried to shelter our children from real life. We are very passionate about introducing topics to our kids at a very young age so WE can be the ones to pen those narratives. Katie was 6, when she first asked us what abortion meant. We told her. We have always believed if you are old enough to ask it, then you are old enough to receive an age appropriate answer. Even still, I spent MANY days grieving the reality of this major transition and all the implications. Y’all, our junior-highers are dealing with REAL stuff. HARD stuff. PAINFUL stuff. Things like cutting, eating disorders, boyfriends, girlfriends, homosexuality, healthy friendships, toxic friendships, drugs, rape, suicide, body shaming, sexual abuse, social media, porn, sex, sexting, cyber-bullying, bullying, blow jobs, masturbation, molestation, and depression. (I need a glass of wine just typing all of those words!) Not to mention, the on-going battle of regular, palpable insecurities everyone is trying to sort out in junior-high.

Parents, please do not run away from these dances in the minefields with your junior-higher. Will it be uncomfortable? Absolutely. Will you squirm on the inside and feel a slight nausea overcome your soul as you explain different terms, positions and procedures? Yeah, you sure will! But oh my goodness, the pay-off is brilliant.

2. Show.Up.

Literally, show up. Be present in your junior-highers life. I think we are tempted to believe because our junior-highers physically need us less, we can detach or go on auto-pilot.  FIGHT THIS LIE. Keep showing up. This last year, I felt like Katie needed our presence in her life MORE THAN EVER before. Notice, I didn’t say she needed our advice or bossiness or nagging or meddling…She needed our PRESENCE. Our consistent, still presence.

3. Listen more than you speak.

Oh.my.stars…. this was so hard for me this last year. And sometimes I completely BLEW IT and verbally vomited all over Katie without pausing to pause. Many times I REACTED when I should have RESPONDED. There is a MAJOR difference. But in the tender moments, when I listened to the inner-monologue in my head screaming at me to shut up, I was overwhelmed at the glimpses my sweet girl gave me into her life, into her thoughts, into her heart. The more I was willing to lead with listening, the more vulnerable and soft my conversations with Katie became. A gift.

You guys, Mark and I spent a lot of last year looking at each other with big eyes that spoke, “what in the heck are we doing?!”

But the prize?? Oh the prize.

Friends, we have this girl who lives with us, who became apart of our world on December 7th, 2002 when that test glowed positive… and she is the most amazing creature who deserves ALL OF US! Every inch and fiber of life we can muster up. All of the uncomfortable, awkward and painful become null and void as she blossoms into this incredible woman who is far kinder, wiser and brighter than we could have EVER imagined.

Nothing about junior-high has been easy, but is has been beautiful, raw and unendingly rewarding.

Parents, you WILL survive this next year. There will be days you won’t think you will, but you will. Some days will be messy and rotten. Mamas, you might cry as often as your junior-high daughter. Dads, you might need some serious therapy. But you will make it. One day, one triage at a time!

 

Here’s to junior-high!

~Sara