What is your word?

Why is it so hard to find time to do something I love? Writing, writer, one who enjoys word and paragraph and thoughts…I feel like that’s me and yet I regularly struggle to do this thing that I love. And I struggle because of time…time gets away from me, there is never enough time, time moves too quickly and the hours become weeks before I can even blink.

This last year, really since Mallory graced our lives with her presence, I’ve been in a hamster wheel of life and dying to break free. With six kids and a pastor-husband, freedom can seem impossible. So impossible that you end up at your doctors office in need of meds because you have hit the bottom of a dark well called depression. The meds helped, at least in order to be able to see straight again and put one foot in front of another. But meds never fix sick hearts and my heart has been pushing deeper and deeper into dangerous waters for a while now.

February of this year could be called a breaking point. Annie, our beloved chocolate lab of 12 years, somehow got lost and hit hard on a busy road behind the woods that our house borders. Talk about the hamster wheel stopping and feeling like the biggest failure ever. While still thankful it wasn’t my child, I know deep down I still haven’t forgiven myself for not keeping eyes on her that evening. Everyone can tell me it wasn’t my fault, but it was…I was so busy spinning that I dropped a very big ball and it cost our family a huge love. On top of losing Annie, Kevin and I hit one of our biggest marriage speedbumps yet…the kind that does damage to the underside of your car. And when it hit, I sunk.

But the beautiful part about sinking when you are a daughter of the King is that you will never drown. You might swallow some big gulps and you might feel like you can’t breathe. But the King is there, He is watching and protecting and preserving…and He pulls us up at just the right time, never too early and never, ever, ever too late.

His rescue was oddly a new job for my husband. Not quite what I had envisioned and yet, as I am learning, exactly what I needed. I loved and still love our former church…I love the people, I love the building, I love the prayer e-mails I still receive. But I also see that the church needed more of me than I could truly give. They need a pastor’s wife who can lead the women and disciple several younger believers and take meals to the sick. And while I absolutely love all of those things and am happy to serve God doing them, I’m recognizing more and more that this is not the season for such service.

So, I recently began a book titled “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist…a title that sounds like she opened up the insides of my heart and put my deepest longing on the cover of her book. And in it she says “If I’m honest, I let words like responsible and capable govern many of years. And what good are they? Words that I’m choosing in this season: passion, connection, meaning, love, grace, spirit“(p.104). Earlier, she wrote “I’m committed to a particular, limited amount of things in this season, and if what’s being asked of me isn’t one of those, then it stands in the way. That’s why knowing your purpose and priorities for a given season is so valuable — because those commitments become the litmus test for all the decisions you face” (pp. 54-55).

If I’m honest, I let the word “godly” govern many of my last few years. But what I considered to be “godly” was meeting the expectations of everyone around me, not necessarily going before the Lord to see how I should spend these days, when my life is full of raising babies and toddlers, and grade-schoolers and now a pre-teen. “Godly” was leading a women’s bible study and having church members into our home two times a week and overly helping in the children’s ministry and having visitors over for Sunday lunch and on and on and on. Oh sure, I was also shepherding hearts at home and teaching my children God’s word and educating them and making sure they were involved in extracurriculars. But…and this is a big all caps BUT…I haven’t been “present” in this home in a very long time. I’ve been shuffling people around and needs around and crossing all my t’s and dotting all my i’s. But, at the end of the day, I don’t know that I ever sat and just held Mallory simply to gaze into her big beautiful eyes. I don’t think I really heard that story Maggie told me about her baby doll…what was it she was saying? I missed Madden’s cool new idea (because he is always coming up with the most imaginative ideas!) because I had to shoo him away so that I could vacuum the floor…we had guests coming…again! And Mikias really needed a heart-to-heart…I actually saw his heart hurting, but I couldn’t get to him because I had not prepared for the bible study I was to lead in an hour and women were counting on me.

Godliness is the goal for every believer…but not when that word is distorted into something God never meant for it to be. And now, it is September. Fall (and my favorite candle of the year) is just around the corner and I am learning new words. Kevin is settling into his job as a young families pastor. People want to know me but they aren’t expecting anything from me. So I’m using this season to learn “rest, grace, play and joy“. I’m saying “no” to things that don’t fit this particular season…they may indeed be great priorities for a season yet to come. But, at this moment, I am called to be a disciple of Jesus, a wife to Kevin and a teacher-mom to six beautiful little treasures. That is my whole purpose and they are my priorities.

So, I ask…what have you been striving to live under that perhaps you have put on yourself and God never meant it to be? What is your word? And…what should it be?

This picture is one of my favorites…all my little and bigs, personalities shining through in my favorite place on earth. It captures every new word…rest, grace, play and joy.