Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives May 2015

Family

Summer Begins

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 21/52

 

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Update on goals for week 21:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 21 ~ 10 Run/Walk miles traveled, 224mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 21 ~ 1,000 words completed, 67,000 words in 2015

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766. splash park fun, 767. polka dot bottom and chubby leg rolls, 768. soccer goals and successes! 769. backyard play with friends, 770. the boy’s rite of passage, 771. toothless grins, 772. hawks fan in and out of season, 773. clean report from doc, 774. sonnet lesson & exploration, 775. brunch with new friends, 776. finally delivered wedding album after 2 years, whew. 777. bocci ball, 778. books for the fall, 779. making peace with myself, 780. atmospheric sciences field trip (and parking miracle)

Family / Life & Faith

Ordinary Wonderful

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 20/52

“We are going home as possible,” she said emphatically in her three-year-old english.

She meant as fast as possible, but she left out a few words and left the other kids giggling. She’s the loudest voice and the littlest body in the bunch, rivaled in size by her not-so-baby sister. They wear the same clothes…sometimes on purpose, sometimes because whoever grabbed the pants out of the laundry pile didn’t know they were actually the baby’s pants. But no worries, they fit around the middle and if you roll up the bottom cuff, they look like bonafide capris instead of hi-waters. Not that this happened a few days ago, or anything.

I’ve been asked a number of times recently, how are we doing? What is new with us? I always feel awkward answering because I don’t have a really exciting answer. There was a time that I took a lot of pride in being a go-getter, a trail blazer, and having something exciting to respond to those questions with. I have lived 10 years in nearly perpetual transition, busy with this or that, spreading myself as thin as possible as I tried to juggle and hold together all things, so I’ve always had something remarkable (or at least interesting) to report. For now, I don’t have anything in that zone.

How I ended up here, not working outside the home and with a gaggle of amazing kids is something of a sweet mystery of divine orchestration. It is not what I planned or imagined, and yet it really is something more wonderful than I am able to say. I feel like I’ve settled into the ‘know-that-I-know-this-is-where-I’m-supposed-to-be’ space doing exactly what God has prepared for me to do with my life in this season, and with that settling, a wild and overwhelming peace washes over. Our days are very simple, and on the whole, pretty mundane. I mean, there is no way around the dishes and laundry and meals and lessons. But in this space, the Lord is also healing my deepest wounds and bringing me joy from the simplest things. I find myself doing all those ordinary tasks with awareness that God has invited me to do these ordinary things for a reasons beyond my understanding…and every small task is important.

Are you afraid of being ordinary? There was a time that I was. I have spent years of my life concerned that I might run out of time to do all the important things. I am not afraid of that anymore. There is something wonderful about ordinary.  Something uncomplicated. There are good and important things to do, pursue, accomplish and achieve, but none of them need to hang over my head as things that must be done in order to escape the threat of being ordinary. It is in the ordinary space that I am discovering true and all-encompassing freedom.

Merits earn us the praise of men, but faith brings about the favor of God. Faith that He is good. Faith that He provides. Faith that He loves. Faith that we are not alone. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

And so while there is some part of me that gets butterflies when I hear the question, “what is new with you?”, I guess I have to say what is new is that I am at peace with my ordinary, wonderful life. We are marvelous. There are daily challenges to overcome, but there is also laughter and peace. I could not ask for anything better.

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“We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.'” 1 Corinthians 2:7-9 NASB

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NASB

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Update on goals for week 20:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 20 ~ 11 Run/Walk miles traveled, 214mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 20 ~ 1,500 words completed, 66,000 words in 2015

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751. “As Possible”, 752. the little one now calling me ‘mother’ in a sweet voice, 753. family yard work victories and a wrangled blackberry bush, 754. light in through the dining room window, 755. my mama’s day of birth, so glad she was born, 756. quiet and still, 757. homeschool planning for fall, fun planning for summer, 758. peace that keeps surpassing my understanding, 759. our living space, 760. truth to stand on, 761. friends and a holiday bbq, 762. the stick-a-hoop (kid invention made from a stick and embroidery thread), 763. the stick-a-hoop saver (parent invention to retrieve kid invention from the trees), 764. making progress on a long-overdue sewing project, 765. collaborative, imaginative games

 

Family / Life & Faith

On Inches and Miles

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 19/52

There is a line from a song I’ve been mulling over for some months now. Another Sara Groves tune. Not sorry, because the gal is brilliant, but I do think every song I have referenced on this blog has been one of hers. I am a super-fan, I guess. Anyway, this is the line:

“The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, Those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.” ~ from the song Painting Pictures of Egypt on the album Conversations (2001)

She sings about the struggle between moving ahead into something unknown and the tendency to look back at where we have been, wishing we could be back there in the comfort zone with the things we know, even if those things were not all that great.

Have you ever found yourself stuck and unable to move ahead? I have been in the ‘stuck’ spot a lot more times than I have let on. Even though I could share story after story of God’s faithfulness to me, and I could chat for hours about the goodness of my sweet, simple life as a mother, I have been often nagged by inner sadness, anxiety, loneliness and a struggle to live with an open-handed joy, even in what I would describe as the best and most love-filled season of my life thus far.

Life is both very good, and still very challenging. I have struggled with sadness, anxiety, and self-diagnosed depression off and on for several decades now. In some moments, I feel like my wagon wheels have sunk down in a mud bog, and I’ve been sitting in the same sad swamp for years without an inch of progress.

As I journey, I have recognized that even though I sometimes feel absolutely, hopelessly stuck, when I take a peek back at where I’ve come from, I can see that I have moved forward, sometimes by inches, sometimes by miles. I don’t know if we’re always satisfied with our inches forward, but sometimes inches are fought-for with greater perseverance than the miles. As we take the inches, one by one, the heart grows, perspective changes, and every hard-fought battle makes its mark on our lives. We grow to be different, and what was comfortable and familiar in the past no longer fits. It can be a painful, but a beautiful thing. I have learned too much to long for what I miss from my days in Egypt (figuratively), even while I’m in the sand, wandering and waiting for the promised land.

I have learned too much about the kindness of God and the hope that He offers to ever go back to a place where I do not lean on Him for every bit of strength and encouragement I need. I have learned too much about the beauty of simplicity and the love of a child to ever go back to a get-more, do-more, be-more life. I have learned too much about the power of deep and sacrificial friendship to ever go back to just wanting everyone to like me. I have learned too much about the freedom of forgiveness to hold my hurts close when I can open my hands and let them go into God’s care. I have learned that sometimes traveling inches forward through the toughest seasons is every bit as victorious as logging miles behind me in the easy ones.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

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Update on goals for week 19:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 19 ~ 13 Run/Walk miles traveled, 203mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 19 ~ 3,000 words completed, 64,500 words in 2015

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736. little gymnast, 737. successful afternoon of tailoring a few items for myself, 738. lilac blooms, even if the blossoms were falling off, 739. completion of our CBS year, 740. growing relationships in our church family, 741. sweet learning and fellowship with our weekly homeschool cooperative, 742. early walk with an old friend, 743. wedding of another old friend + reconnecting with people i haven’t seen in ages, 744. craft project successes and some new pens, 745. cleaned out van, 746. the moving into new seasons, 747. lovely weather, 748. home safe with one headlight, 749. inches like miles, 750. a cute outfit and the support of friends

Family / Motherhood

For the Mamas

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 18/52

The women deserving of honor on this day come in all varieties. Some carry toddlers on the hip, and some wait for their children to come home for the holidays. Some struggle to know who they are anymore amidst cheerios and laundry piles and bleary-eyed exhaustion, while others worry that they are missing important times with their babies while they work to put food on the table. Some have losses that ache deep, and scars that stay long. They are each strong, courageous, brave women who have spent themselves to nurture, sacrificed their comforts to nourish. They are mothers (and grandmothers) to flesh and blood babies, to adoptive or foster children, to children lost, or to children that simply need love whether they’re related or not. They are mothers to children hoped-for, but not yet present. All deserve to be honored as champions of children, messengers of love, as heroes of the most humble kind.

If you are a woman who has ever lived out in any way a respect and value for life, and invested yourself in the life of a child with a selfless heart, from the depths of my heart I applaud you this mother’s day. Thank you for every sacrifice you have made to love well, the big ones and the small ones.

Thank you for showing me in my own mothering journey that brave looks different on different women. Thank you for showing me that sometimes strong and courageous looks like pressing on and facing fears, even while I tremble. Thank you for inspiring me, for teaching me, for caring for my heart, and for passing on to me the art of loving well, with hands and feet, in every season.

On this day, I honor you, mamas, for the dreams you have given up, for the hours of sleep you have lost, for the tears you’ve cried and the prayers you have prayed. I honor you for the meals you’ve made and the dishes you’ve done, for the booboo’s you’ve kissed and the great burdens you’ve carried. I honor you for standing up tall to give shade from the sun and for stretching out (even broken) wings to give shelter from the storm. Know that every small gesture you have done to help along the little ones is noticed by our Heavenly Father and will one day be rewarded in full.

They all shout together, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

“Whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42

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Update on goals for week 18:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 18 ~ 11 Run/Walk miles traveled, 190mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 18 ~ 2,500 words completed, 61,525 words in 2015

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731. all the women in my life who have cared for me in every season…especially you, mama, 732. my children, 733. grace to grow, 734. solid words of truth from this morning’s service, 735. joy

Family / Life & Faith / Motherhood

Pure and Simple

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 17/52

The house is winding down and the kids get into their beds. In all physical ways, I am at the end of myself. Tired eyes and bones, and a strong desire to just throw everyone into bed as quickly as possible so I can clock out for the day and go numb my brain with something on a screen. Instead, a wind blows through me and I agree to sit and read to them while they settle themselves with blankets and loveys. It is an otherwise ordinary night, but I recognize that God has given me an extra measure of grace to handle bedtime with gentleness, instead of the grumpy exhaustion that often takes over. Spent, but not bankrupt. Weary, but not crushed. Somehow there is still more in the tank to give these little ones, like the supplier spotted me a wee bit of extra gusto to carry me over the threshold. Love digs deep and I’m learning how to do that in a gracious way without demanding a reward for it.

My son asks me questions about what I have read aloud, and somehow, answers are there. Answers that honor the mystery and also point to the truth. He’s always the one with the extra-deep questions. For years now, he has blessed me with his curiosity and desire to really understand the ideas that bounce around in his mind, and I try my best to journey with him, exploring and discovering as we go.

The same son takes a dip in the water to tell everyone around that he loves Jesus, pure and simple. I stand with him and squeeze his hand. I am always surprised by the turns of life, how his very presence in our family is not something I anticipated at the time, but I now cannot imagine life without his soft heart and goofy sense of humor. What a gift and a joy he is.

I long for him to find the life of peace and abundance. I pray for him to make choices purposefully, and with wisdom. I ask God to be near to him always, teaching him about who love is, what love does, and where love goes…to write it all so firm on his heart he can never escape it. I give thanks for the privilege it is to mother him in these years, seeing up close what the tender heart of a boy will become as he grows deeper and taller in the love of Jesus.

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Update on goals for week 17:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 17 ~ 12 Run/Walk miles traveled, 179mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 17 ~ 100 words completed, 59,025 words in 2015

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“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-9, 16-18 ESV

721. sweet boy, baptized, 722. beach day with 4 of ’em, 723. purging excess and rearranging, 724. celebratory brunch and the most amazing dutch baby, 725. jesus and all His upside-down thinking, 726. friends who journey with, 727. two books that I’m reading, 728. grace for myself in the midst of writing almost zero words last week, 729. safe, warm, and inviting home, 730. wiggle giggles