Encouragement

Life lately has been a happy blur of busy-ness. As in, not stressful “I’m SO busy” busy-ness; but happy, crawl into bed satisfied too late at the end of each day, busy-ness. 

Will has been helping me do the dishes a lot. Its his new favorite. Not so much mine, seeing as how he always manages to get water and soap EVERYWHERE… but I do love encouraging a spirit of helping in him. 😉 And it is much more productive than tv!
Come to think of it, that spirit of helping is the common thread through all of Will’s interests nowadays. Here he is helping me do my mat workout…
And helping me finish the grocery shopping…

We went to Charleston for a weekend at the very sweet invitation of Sarah. It was overcast and rainy the entire visit, of course, because winter hates me, but we had a perfectly lovely time anyway. I really needed to become friends with Sarah right when I did. She is the kind of girl and mother who is refreshing and inspiring all at the same time. If all this blog gives me in the end is getting to meet and know Sarah Pankus, I will walk away satisfied. 
We hung out with our 3 collective little boys in her spanish-moss shaded apartment during the rain. We took turns running around the block in the marshy neighborhood and watching the babies. We drove out to the beach for lunch and a few hours of the afternoon, and let my antsy Will run his energy out. 
She made us an amazingly juicy steak dinner on Saturday night, which we, (Sarah’s sister-in-law who is also my friend Jess) and I, devoured gratefully. Wine and laughter late at night, hot coffee in the morning and the entertaining antics of our children filled the weekend.
I think we need the challenge of making new friendships more than we realize. New friends are able to ignite a spark in us that an old comfortable friendship might not have. New friends open up new ways of looking at life, new truths about ourselves and others. New adventures. You get that experience in college, and its incredibly growth-inducing; but its so much harder to make new friends as a mama. Mothers are intimidating; women tend to be critical enough, but throw in a passion about motherhood and doing everything right for your babies and you have a whole hugely intimidating dynamic. 
But as hard as it is, I have come to the conclusion that it is even more important. It is easy to get into ruts as a mother… ruts of discontent, or insecurity, or anxiety, or PRIDE, or vanity, or unhealthiness,  or know-it-all-ness… these ruts can keep us from really enjoying our experience of motherhood and, more crucially, our children. 
Being around a new friend whom I find so inspiring and lovely was exactly what I needed to help push that “Reset” button, and renew my own zeal in pursuing the kind of intentional life I so deeply desire.  And the “around” part was kind of the clincher. I had more time to think about it at a Mother’s Night In reflection night for my MOTs group at Church. We had pizza and wine and chatted about everything, ending the night in a heart-stirring reflection in the quiet, dark Church. 
The reflection was about Martha and Mary, and how the real problem with Martha was not that she was too busy – she was after all working passionately for the Lord, which is good! – but that she was anxious. That she was comparing herself with others – and not to encourage them or to grow herself, but in a spirit of criticism.
Blogging these last few years has been like a training wheel to help me continue to make new friends as a new mama. It helped me get out of my comfort zone a little, and meet some amazingly cool people. It helped me to have a creative outlet, to start writing again. To put myself out there. Now I feel like its gotten a bit stale, like I need to take the next step and start looking for ways to encourage others as I throw myself happily and more invisibly into the work that is given me. 
 That girls weekend in Charleston with Sarah, I realized I am craving that encouragement IN PERSON. Its in person that you can really see the full dimension of someone’s life; its only in person (at least for me because I am a total extrovert) in a real conversation, that you can catch that contagious spark of excitement… that thing that C.S. Lewis so impeccably expressed: 
I have been able to get by and be so inspired by blogging, emailing, commenting and the like, to forge these essential new and growing friendships. But now – having the privilege of group texts with some of these people, long phone calls with others, and a whole weekend at the home of one… I am realizing I need to apply all that energy I had been using for the blog, and throw it into these blossoming relationships IN REAL LIFE.
I would do both if I could… but as anyone knows who has had the misfortune of being stuck on the phone with me a mother who is constantly interrupted to discipline her toddler – time is of the essence and the energy to focus even more so! It was doable with one, but I am finding that with the two boys I just don’t have the time to write for my job, take care of my family, take care of myself, nurture my friendships, and write here. 

(Will peeing at the beach like a little redneck. I had no other choice). I will not delete the blog… But I’m only going to post very occasionally, and mostly about my babies.  I’m just feeling like I’ve plateaued with the blog – and I desperately need the challenge of this new season of growth, so I’m jumping into it with everything I have. I need to seek ways to encourage others and be encouraged in return, I am craving some invisibility, and a more hidden life. I need to reach out more in humble little ways.“Gently encourage…and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet.Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nervesyou don’t snap at each other.Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”1 Thess 5:13 MSGThat right there is what Martha didn’t do. She could have done it along with her work for the kingdom of God, but she was too caught up in criticism and anxiety to feel energy for encouragement. And it seems like she allowed herself to get burnt out. We women especially have such a desperate need to keep the tank full! If we allow ourselves to run on empty, we risk hurting ourselves and those around us. 
In order to prevent burn out, I have to check up on what is still filling up the tank and what is just a waste of time. For now, blogging isn’t recharging me like other things. I will probably miss it if I take a sabbatical, and that will be a good thing. But right now, I need to find a new way to recharge. To seek encouragement and to give it in return.For the next few months you will find me running my little heart out (no more walk breaks y’all!!! Woop woop!), cleaning up our weedy backyard, toting Will to swim lessons, painting a few rooms, talking on the phone more, visiting those I love, going on date nights, inviting people over for dinner, taking little trips and adventures with my family, soaking in the sunshine with a good book or two, and making new friends. Maybe I will blog about it… but probably not. Here’s to a beautiful summer ahead! Look for the best in each other!

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One thought on “Encouragement

  1. Loved the post and the CS Lewis quote. I have been off my blog for almost a year now (since the birth of our second baby in August), and I feel bad to not be documenting the happy stories of her life as intensely (and/or not at all) as I did with Baron, but your blog post was affirmation that I don't need to stress about that and I should “Mary” life with two more :). Take care, friend!

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