Category: Writing (page 2 of 10)

“Two Truths & a Lie About Motherhood After the Little Years”

Yesterday morning, our youngest came out of her bedroom looking equal parts thrilled and apprehensive, and announced, “I think I have a loose tooth!”

I felt the tooth. It was so. Now, she’s been sporting a gap-toothed smile for nearly a year already, on account of knocking one of her front teeth loose on a bike handlebar last summer, but this was new. This was a Milestone for all of us.

My youngest child is losing her baby teeth.

And so it seemed apt that Risen Motherhood shared my article “Two Truths & a Lie About Motherhood After the Little Years” this week. What comes next? When her children don’t exactly need her all the time, what’s a mom to do?

I’ve heard moms talk about this moment—this “all the kids finally out of diapers” moment—like it’s a finish line, as though we ran hard and the race is over. High fives all around! I’ve heard rumors about getting my life back, about resuming paused hobbies, about reconnecting with my true self, the one who apparently spent the last decade buried beneath maternity tops and nursing pillows. But I wonder if it isn’t the other way around. I wonder if my true self was not the one showing through in those years of sleep deprivation.

You can read the full article here.

“What is Certain”

During these days at home, waiting, I bake aggressively. The smell of rising bread gives us a good change to look forward to, even as it gives us a measure of comfort and normalcy. We built a blanket fort that spread from our living room to our kitchen, and then a satellite fort upstairs that involved a full-size tent. Making a smaller home within our home seemed to help: it gave us somewhere to enter and exit, places to visit and then leave.    

But in the evening, as all four daughters make their way to bed and the day’s work slows, I cannot hide from this thought: So little is certain. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. Even the world outside is shuttered to me then, and our darkened windows reflect back only these familiar rooms.

That thought has always been true: I have never known what the next day will bring, but I have been able to make educated guesses and found my plans upon them.

So little has ever been certain, and yet, as I brush crumbs from the table and sweep the dining room floor, readying the room for the morning, I know that some things are certain. Some things always have been and always will be. Whatever the news when I wake up tomorrow, these truths will remain firm and unchangeable.

What is Certain

When the things we thought unshakable are shaken, what can we stand upon? In response to the world-wide upheaval we’re living through right now, I wrote about this question for Deeply Rooted. You can read that article, “What is Certain?,” on the Deeply Rooted blog.

You can read the full post here.

“Behold the King”

Writing about Christmas is one of my favorite ways to skim the emotional stuff off its surface and to remember that Christmas isn’t meant to be a season in which we all make everyone we love happy for four straight weeks, but a remembrance: the One who “neither sleeps nor slumbers” (Ps. 121) became a baby, vulnerable and finite, for us. The One who is everywhere at every time became, for thirty-three years, a man bound to seconds and minutes—for us.

I need to spend weeks each year considering this, looking at it from new angles, and so I’m quick to volunteer for the Advent and Christmas writing assignments. This year, I explored (and at times, it felt like a true adventure) those silent centuries before Jesus’ birth and the way God worked out his plan through them and through Jesus’ coming:


Four hundred years of silence.

After the roars and pleas of the prophets, that silence rang—as audible, in its way, as a lament. The Israelites had grown accustomed to the prophets and their noise, which often ran behind the clamor of daily life, a muted hum. . . .

But then that steady hum ceased. The last prophet’s words hung in the air: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” (Malachi 4:5–6). The Messiah is coming, the prophet said. And before him, one will come running—a herald, announcing his arrival.

Those were the last words the people heard from God for 400 years.

You can read the full article here.

“The Ingredients We Have on Hand”

My friend April and I used to joke that the moment you blog about something it dies. Routines, recipes, updates on what you’re up to now—as soon as you share them, the routines shift or your schedule or circumstance changes. It seems inevitable, and we’ve seen it happen often enough that we’ve joked, after publishing a post, “Well! That was nice while it lasted.”

Today, Story Warren published an article I started writing over a year ago (in much the same way I describe in the post). When I began it, I was a homeschooling mom, and when I revised it, I was a homeschooling mom, but by the time I submitted it, I had an intimation that all that was about to change. I’ll tell you the full story soon, I promise—it deserves its own post.

What I didn’t know until after I heard the happy news that my piece had been accepted was that my writing life was destined to change as well.

Last spring, I stepped down from my editing responsibilities at Deeply Rooted. I prayed over the decision for months, tossing it back and forth and back and forth. I have been with Deeply Rooted since the magazine’s first issue—five years ago!—and I have loved my work there, every part of it. The nit-picky part of editing, the broad-sweeping-changes part of editing, the finding the perfect verb part of editing, the encouraging a writer as she revises part of editing—this was a hard role to lay down. But I realized that, no, I did not have time to both homeschool my kids and give editing as much energy as I’d like to. And so I stepped down in order (I thought) to focus on homeschooling.

But a few weeks later, homeschooling changed course too.

So, I spent the summer finishing my last editing assignment for Deeply Rooted (the fabulous four-part series by Leslie Bustard running right now!) and then, quietly and without ceremony, removed “Contributing Editor” from my email signature. But, Mitch and I wondered: What was that about? What is God up to?

We pondered and prayed and discussed the subject of “What will Thea do with the time she spent editing or planning homeschool lessons?” I considered returning to Deeply Rooted, but neither of us thought that seemed in the direction God was leading us.

And so we waited.

And the very same week—two days later, in fact—that Mitch started looking into what it might take for me to find work as a freelance editor, work found me: I received an offer from a small publishing house (run by people I adore), asking if I’d consider working with one of their authors on a project.

So, Mitch and I celebrated and I took that assignment and already other options have opened up in other places for potential assignments. And now, on account of our schedule changes (again, story forthcoming), I not only write in the early mornings, as described in the Story Warren article (I knew we’d get back here eventually), but also for hours in a coffee shop, one day a week, where the pastries are flaky and the iced coffee gets tossed about in a cocktail shaker. (I love hipster coffee.)

I am embarking, in seems, upon the seas of freelance editing.

Was it the fact that I tried to write about it that killed the current routine? I joke about it, but no, of course not. I see God’s faithfulness through the whole process, in his asking me to (yet again) surrender something I love, and in his generosity in making something new of that gift—before giving it back to me. May I use this gift and any others for his glory, always.


Seriously, though, here is the link to “The Ingredients We Have on Hand,” my new post for Story Warren. I loved writing this one!


Postscript

I am still a regular contributor for Deeply Rooted, so I will continue to write for both the print magazine and the blog.

“To My Church on the Day It Dissolves”

Last fall, our church of thirteen years dissolved. I wrote briefly (very briefly) about it here, but that acknowledgement only hints at how acutely I felt that dissolution.

About a month passed between the first twinge and our final service, and that month came during our remodel, when we were already displaced and presuming upon the hospitality of friends and family. We thought that move would be the year’s Big Event, but it was only the backdrop against which this much bigger displacement occurred—the breaking of our church fellowship.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

In her book Keeping Place, Jen Pollock Michel writes, “Surely one evidence of the world’s fallenness from grace is its failure to provide stability. To lose our places is to lose our place.”

We lost our place. And that loss was a lot to process.

So one night, in the thick of things, I started writing. I had no intention of writing an article but wanted both to tidy my own mind and to make a gift for our weary church body—something that might help us lift our eyes above the horizon line of our church’s closure and to see God’s glory written in the heavens overhead.

This is a big thing, I wanted to say. But it isn’t an ultimate thing. God’s faithfulness doesn’t end here.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

That thought eventually became a song that I wrote and sang at our closing party. But those ideas continued to simmer, and I kept lifting the lid and adding words to the pot. The soup gradually took on flavor, enough so that when I learned that the next issue of Deeply Rooted centered on the topic of the Church, I understood that I was, in fact, working on both an open letter to our church and a publishable essay.

That is one of the reasons I’m telling you this now. That article— “To My Church on the Day it Dissolves”—appeared both in Deeply Rooted’s newest issue (you can purchase a copy here) and on the Deeply Rooted blog (you can read the full article here).

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

But I also want to write about it because I have a little distance from the dissolution and I want to share that, too. We thought we had lost our place; we felt a wrenching, a breaking, an undoing, and we are still, in some ways, recovering from that.

Yet God’s kindness to us began long before this fall—or the Fall. He ordained for our good not that one church, now deceased, but The Church, a living body with members who carry the gospel to the world’s cities, villages, and camps; who translate the Bible so that others may know God’s Word in their own language; and who welcomed us in during those tender first months at our new church.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

We have heard people express a desire to rest from church, but what we needed in the months after the final service was to rest in the church. To lose our old church one Sunday and the next Sunday step into the foyer of a new one and feel a continuity between the services, a familiarity in the love and generosity of the people there—the Church has never seemed so radiant to me as it does now, and I have never felt so privileged to be a part of it.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

The New City Catechism answers its first question— “What is our only hope in life and death?”—with what has become a refrain for me in the past six months: “That we are not our own but belong body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”

We are not our own but belong to him. The Church is his; our church was His. We did not lose our place at all, for we are his, and there is no greater comfort in this world than to belong to him. We are still learning the habits of our new church, but at the heart of it is the same command we strove to follow at our old one: love the Lord and love one another. He has given us new people to love, but our God remains wonderfully unchanged.

Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom,
not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.
I request only to see the face of him I love,
to be content with bread to eat,
with raiment to put on,
if I can be brought to thy house in peace.

“Weaknesses,” from The Valley of Vision
Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

If you’ve read this far—thank you. If you want to read further, consider this Part II of the story. The Deeply Rooted article is Part I, and you can read it here.

If you want to read further still (and I highly recommend that you do), you can read Deeply Rooted’s full issue on the Church. Of all the issues we’ve published in the last five years, this one is my favorite, because it looks at the Church from several perspectives and elicits a wonder and awe that I find thrilling. God’s plan for his people! It’s so stunning!