After the Rain.

It was the first sunny day after a string of rainy ones; we couldn’t wait to get out of the house. I texted my friend Heather, “Park date?” as I buckled the kids into their car seats.

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We arrived at the park at almost the same time in almost the same outfit – Patagonia jackets to ward off the wind chill and high-waisted Lululemon tights to rein in the postpartum sag (just me?), an unofficial South County mom uniform. We made our way from the row of SUVs and minivans to the play structures and bench seating. I unloaded the snack bags and diaper bag and extra bike helmet and the three-wheel scooter. The sky was a bright baby blue, with only traces of the clouds that covered the sky the night before.

Between us, we had five kids roaming in three different areas. Heather and I tag-teamed bathroom runs. My arms moved constantly – fishing for the fruit snacks in the zippered lunch box, catching a scooter before it tipped over, patting baby while I bounced him. We talked while the boys played, but our eyes never stopped moving either. I was mid-sentence, handing my two-year old a water bottle when I caught a glimpse of my four-year old climbing a rock structure meant for the big kids.

I hesitated, unsure of whether to move towards him or stay, when I saw her – another mom of a preschooler, with her arms outstretched to my son, ready to catch him if he slipped.

Thank you, I mouthed, when she looked back at me. “You had your hands full,” she said.

I could have felt inadequate and overwhelmed; a bad mom for having three kids and only two arms. Instead, I felt the cool release of the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding and the warmth of the sunshine after the rain.

There’s a hymn that I love called Hark! The Voice of Jesus Calling. It’s a hymn about answering the call from where you are; a hymn about doing what you can with what you have and trusting His grace to fill the gap. To me, on this day, it was a hymn about ministering as a mother.

If you cannot be the watchman

standing high on Zion's wall,

pointing out the path to heaven,

offering life and peace to all,

with your prayers and with your bounties

you can do what heaven demands;

you can be like faithful Aaron

holding up the prophet's hands.

That’s the visual I see – arms outstretched, hers in place of mine.

We can start on the playground.

We can hold up each other’s hands.

We can hold out our own.


This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "We're Better Mothers Together"

Reset 001: Let there be life.

This is true of every month: it’s a reset. Our budget resets, which is truly the most exciting part of the month for me. I bought all the books that have been sitting in my Amazon cart for weeks. I registered for a grounding retreat in October and signed up for a couple’s cooking class in June. I made restaurant reservations for our date nights, updated the month’s goals (read 5 books, run a half marathon distance, etc), and RSVP’d to the birthday parties. Come the first of the month, I am a machine.

Easter Sunday 2019.

Easter Sunday 2019.

I listened to The Enneagram Journey podcast recently where Suzanne Stabile interviews Annie Downs who is a 7 on the Enneagram. Annie talks about how she and her assistant (who is a 3 – my type) make a great pair because she wants to have fun and her assistant wants to have the MOST… of anything, so together they have the most fun. “This is me!” I told my husband. “I want the most. I want the best. I’m insatiable.”

It’s in my nature to push harder – for better, for more, for our biggest life. But at my core, I realize that I want is what we are all wired for: an abundant life. The abundance promised to us through and in Jesus.

In the same podcast episode, they talk briefly about a verse from the story of Hannah. I love the story of Hannah so much – she’s raw and real and desperate. Her sister wife tries to bring her down; her husband tries to placate her, and she manages to shake free from both of their expectations. She doesn’t minimize her own pain. In her heartbreak, she goes straight to God, and what she prays for is essentially: life. “And God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she asked.” (MSG)

One of the posts Jess Connolly shared on Instagram recently was a story of how she was working out with her husband. She felt so defeated and discouraged, but she saw her husband working hard. She told him, “You’re killing it! You’re so strong!” She spoke life and encouragement and as a result, she herself experienced abundance.

There’s abundance in what we already have and in the power of our words – to articulate, to pray, to encourage, to speak life.

Easter has passed, but I’m still thinking about this benediction that Shauna Niequist wrote:

And now, my dear brothers and sisters,

as it was said in the very beginning,

let there be light.

And more than that, let there be life.

Let there be resurrection.

Let there be hallelujah.

Let there be dancing where there was once only mourning.

Let there be daylight where there was, for so long, only dark.

Let there be cool, clear water after a drought, nourishment after starvation, love after aching loneliness.

Resurrection after death,

spring after winter,

dawn after what seemed

an eternal midnight.

May we come to not just understand with our minds, but absorb into our very bones this beautiful, transformative pattern, like a drumbeat, like a song we’ve known all our lives—

life, death, rebirth.

life, death, rebirth.

life, death, rebirth.

May we believe in Christ’s resurrection so deeply that we begin to see the possibility of resurrection everywhere we look.

May our spiritual imaginations be renewed, and may we have the bravery to consider that things we have long pronounced dead for all time might yet come back to life—

possibly even our very own hearts

barely keeping time in our very own chests.

Let there be life.

Let there be life.

// Last week, I wrote about bringing back the blog. This post is part of a new blog series called RESET reflecting on growth and spirituality through new months and different seasons. If there is a topic that you want me to cover, email me at ruthie[at]no17blog[dot]com or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

The Comeback.

Word on the street is that blogs are making a comeback. I love a good comeback, so here I am.

Anyone else obsessed with everything Morgan Harper Nichols creates?

Anyone else obsessed with everything Morgan Harper Nichols creates?

There’s a fill-in-the-bubble goal tracker that captures one of the core values I strive for in my life: consistency. For my husband: you can count on me to keep growing, to keep laughing, to keep showing up. For my kids: you can count on me to keep learning how to mother you better, even when I sometimes give in to the extra fruit snacks or I don’t always follow through on discipline. For my friends: I will be unwavering in my enthusiasm in meeting you for coffee, and if you need grace – it’s literally my middle name. For myself: I want to be consistent in remembering God’s faithfulness, consistent in doing the hard work of becoming who I was called to be, and consistent in sharing that journey.

Yup, I bought all the stickers in her  shop.

Yup, I bought all the stickers in her shop.

Blogging is surprisingly time-consuming. Factor in: the writing, the editing, the re-writing, taking an appropriate picture to go along with the post or pulling together a design board. And then there’s the vulnerability hangover that you have to contend with if you’re someone like me who tends to overshare.

But here’s the thing: I believe in stories and creativity and vulnerability and in sharing things that are pretty or fun or make me think. I absolutely believe that friends can be made over the internet, and I believe in learning from as many people as I can.

I think more people should blog – I love reading and hearing about people’s faith journeys, their marathon journeys, their motherhood journeys. I want to hear about the struggles and the heartbreaks and the joy and the fight that was won and the bigger story. I want to hear all those things because they remind me that I’m not alone.

What’s your story? Don’t stop there. What’s the bigger story? I’ll be here, looking for the light.

A New Thing

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

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Maybe it’s because it’s almost Easter. Maybe because my baby is cutting his first tooth, and my oldest is officially registered for TK. Maybe because, materially-speaking, our life looks a little bit different, and we are, almost tangibly, in the middle of new things.

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We upgraded my car. We’re in the middle of renovations on our current house – first the laundry room, then the downstairs laundry room and the master bedroom fireplace. Next week, the crown molding and the start of the kitchen demo. Meanwhile, we’re looking for THE house and scheming about a future vacation home. The one my sisters and I have been drooling over has eight bedrooms – EIGHT – and TWO kitchens. Also, a home theater with vintage pea green velvet seats and a legit indoor saltwater pool – a girl can dream.

Maybe because it’s officially spring – the season of orange blossoms, baseball games, strawberry picking and new quarterly goals. Or maybe it’s because around us, planes are literally falling out of the sky, children seeking refuge wash up on ocean shores, and deep, debilitating poverty still exists. Maybe the exact combination of joy, hope and reality is the reason why this verse has been reverberating in my mind and in my heart – See, I am doing a new thing!

See. Notice. Pay attention.

I am doing. Present tense. It’s happening now.

A new thing. Something even better than what we could imagine or hope for.

As a mom, I’m always on the lookout for the new thing – the funny new phrase, the skill to add to the baby book. This season, I’m remembering to look for the new in my own life – the practices that bring healing, the goals that bring growth, and the everyday acts of redemption that God is working into my story.

APRIL:

+Gratitude practice. I’ve been using Rachel Hollis’ Start Today journal as part of my morning routine. The combined practice of writing down the specific things that I am grateful for along with my ten biggest dreams and the next goal that I’m working on has been game-changing for me. This practice has absolutely helped revive my joy.

+On reading more. I have books scattered all over the house, ones that I bought and ones that I checked out from the library, that I can pick up easily. Educated is on my coffee table, Keep Showing Up (the quote that stuck with me – “If you’re not praying for your spouse, who is?”) is next to our bathtub, Outer Order, Inner Calm is the kitchen. I read The Song of Achilles (could not put it down!) and Devotion: A Memoir in bed and Girl, Stop Apologizing while I nursed baby M on the glider. On my Kindle: Inheritance. On my vanity: The Situation and the Story. Currently on my nightstand: The Passion Paradox, Circe, and Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday.

+Things you come home to. If you’re into the Enneagram like I am, this was hilariously dead on. My husband comes home to a list of goals for the next 35 years of our life, and I come home to – “honestly, it could be anything.”

+Sun Bum chapstick (in Mango, Banana, Watermelon, and Coconut). You’re welcome. I have one of these in running water bottle pouch, another in my wallet, one in my car, and one in my jogging stroller.

+I’ll Have Another with Lindsey Hein, Episode 172. My friend Holl recommended this podcast, and while it’s geared towards athletes, specifically runners, I could absolutely relate to being a “pusher”. Also, Lindsey has four boys! (My future life?). The guest on this episode talked about how he was going to go into journalism and ended up studying Economics instead. I received a scholarship to go to the Northwestern School of Journalism, but the cold, Chicago winters turned me off, and I stayed in Southern California instead, and studied Econ. I’m currently reading The Passion Paradox because of this podcast.