Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First day jitters

I see a glimmer of nervousness in her eyes, and I fight to keep my own fears buried deep inside so that she doesn't see.  I want her to see only my pride and excitement for her, and save my tears for after the bus pulls away.

She is such a feisty presence in our home, and yet she is slow to warm up in new situations.  She hides her shyness behind a stony face and an adamant shake of her head when someone unfamiliar tries to talk to her.

How I long for her to be full of smiles and laughter, to be engaged, to find her place and have friends, to be herself.  May she love school as I did; as her brother does.  I hope the two of them have lots to talk about on the short ride home, and stories they will eagerly compete to share with us.  I pray that they will watch out for one another and feel comforted in each other's presence.

She has always seemed bigger and older than her age, perhaps because her brother has always been the small one, or maybe because of her large personality.  But today, she seems too small for the world that lies ahead.  I know she is ready, but am I?  My last baby, the one who holds my heart, my mini-me...

Each milestone seems so large now and there's no going back (not that I would want to, but each new beginning is also an ending).  I hold on to hope that the new beginnings are even more beautiful that the ones that have come before.

She lights up with a big smile as the bus turns the corner, and without us even having to tell him, Brady takes her hand and they walk together into a new beginning.
I hope she doesn't miss me as much as I'll miss her.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Prayer for a new school year

Dear God of new beginnings,

We are grateful for a new season, even as we reluctantly let go of the freedom of summer.
We look forward to a new school year with equal parts excitement and fear.  Although we know not what is ahead, you plant curiosity in our hearts.

We are your creation and we hold within us your dreams, and hopes that are bigger than we are.  They call us to leave the familiar and seek wisdom, to find what is new, to grow.  We are eager to explore new possibilities, carrying fresh new tools in backpacks still shiny and unworn.

That journey carries us away on school buses that seem impossibly big, while mamas worry about whether they'll find their way.  It inspires us to load up our parents' car with all our important belongings, making it look so small, as we wonder, "Will I find my way?"

New beginnings can also feel like endings when we leave behind so much that we love.  Help us to find home in new places, to be home in ourselves.  As we search far and wide for the answers, draw us deeper into your great mysteries, that somehow, lead us back to our beginnings, to our roots.  Let us find a thirst for knowledge that never runs dry, but satisfy us with an understanding that we are enough, and that you provide what we need.

As we learn, broaden our horizons, increase our vision, so that we can see just how big and small and beautiful and brutal our world can be.  May we see those who journey with us as neighbors, no matter how different we may seem, and guide us to bond over commonalities and learn from what makes us unique.  Grow our hearts as our minds expand, so that we instinctively love through acts of service and work to break down barriers of injustice in our shared world.  Unify us as brothers and sisters in your great family.

Help us to find our way, to find our place in your story, and to find companions on the journey.  Give us minds to absorb the complexities of your world, and respect for the privilege of education.  Bring a sense of peace and eyes to see your presence all around us.  Allow our hearts to trust the path ahead.

Grant wisdom, patience, and courage to those who teach and lead, and renew our passion as learners.
Keep us ever seeking and inspired as you daily breathe new life into us.

In your love we pray, Amen.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The next time I feel that I don't have enough, may I remember this moment...
the bliss of a quiet house, save for the sound of the laundry I managed to start;
time to think and write in the fading light of a mostly peaceful day, my dog content by my side.

More than likely, I will forget this when I am caught up in the noise of arguing children,
or busy syncing calendars with my husband.  My brain will feel too full again and I will sigh with the futility of it all.  I will long for a break, forgetting how I missed the sound of their voices now that they have left for a visit with the grandparents.

It's really amazing how little time I need.  An hour to make dinner just for me, clean up, and do some chores; catching up on balancing the checkbook and brushing the dog.  I went out for a quick bike ride, but it wasn't the same without the kids racing to catch up with me.  And now I wonder how to fill the hours.  If only they were here, I'd think of a million things I could be doing without the distractions.

Time is rarely appreciated in the moment, but I recognize with gratitude the value of this one, space to reflect on those gifts I sometimes overlook in their very presence.

The next time I forget, may I be reminded of this moment, and may I have the eyes to see the beauty before me, even in the chaos, and whisper a prayer of gratitude.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Keep calm and...worry on

I've been trying to shake a dream I awoke from this morning.  It was one of those typical school anxiety dreams, but this time, Maryn was at the center of it instead of me.  I dreamed that I was sending her off for her first day of school.  We got to the school and waited with a group of other kids her age, and then she followed them onto a school bus.  As she got on, she was so happy she was dancing, and she turned around to give me a big smile.  I got in my car, thrilled by her excitement, until I happened to think, "Why were they getting on a bus?  I took her to school!"  But the bus had already pulled away, and I was frantic, wondering where she was heading, and fearing that her joy would soon turn to panic.  In my dream I called the school to get some answers, but no one could understand me as I was crying.  I somehow thought the bus was taking her to a daycare at the church where my husband had worked previously (which is another whole bag of anxiety).  I felt that I had failed her and myself.

It doesn't take much analysis to understand the root of my fears.  In a couple of weeks, my baby will be going off to school, beginning the process of separation for the one who has clung so tightly to my heart.  I have no doubt that she will transition much easier than me.  My fear is not how she will do, but how I will juggle my responsibilities and be present for her in just the right ways to encourage her joy and ease her fears.  At the same time, school will begin for me on two different levels.  Hollins students will be returning soon, and there's always the chaos and buzz of settling back in, trying new things, meeting new people, having lots of fun, and working way too many hours.  I'm also applying for a doctoral program that would begin next summer, even as I question how I will handle the pressing demands that already threaten to wear me down.

It is the inevitable phase of life where there are many new beginnings, which also signal the ending of what is familiar and safe.  I have to let go of my control and trust that my babies will be cared for and nurtured even when they are away from me.  I have to put myself out there in my work and trust that the results will be worth it.  It's enough to startle me often out of reverie of normal life into that seize of panic...What am I forgetting?  What if I fail?  I struggle so hard with the issue of being in control, only to learn over and over again how little control I have.  The faith part of the journey has been in realizing what a gift that is.

In my online devotional this morning, there was this prayer:

Dear God, in the endings, show me the beginnings. In the beginnings, help me let go of the endings. Through it all, open my eyes to the renewal. Amen.

Amen, indeed.