Category Archives: Five Minute Friday

A Visit and a Letter to a Friend

A Visit and a Letter to a Friend | Faith and Composition
It’s an overcast day, and rain is threatening to spill over when I arrive at her house. I have three kids in tow, and we scoot through her door. Within the first five minutes of our visit there’s a baby on the floor between us, and the four older kids are down the hall transforming pillows and cushions into the fortresses that come alive inside the mind of a child. And we’re sharing tidbits of broken conversation and engaged hearts, littered by the frequent interruptions of five children aged five years and under.

Mugs in hand, we laugh at the comedy, the hardship, the privilege of motherhood. And fragmented as it is, this conversation is rich; these words are real; this friendship is tangible.

We’ve known each other for 13 years now, this friend and I. We’ve shared a collegiate experience, positions in publishing, deadline-driven nights and the stress of magazine production, but none of it compares to the bond we now share as mothers.

She’s my take-me-as-I-am, never-pass-an-ounce-of-judgment friend. The one who leaves me a  little more encouraged, a little more energized. Her artistry inspires me, and she encourages my creativity. Through the past decade we’ve seen each other through laughter and loss, job transitions and house relocations and through the magnificent and the mundane.

The rain stops, I gather my three, and we all walk outside. We chat on the porch, commenting on things like boxwood basil and gardens with pea gravel paths. The older kids run to the sidewalk and pick up sticks, as if they’re literally building the foundations of their own friendships. The sun stretches long and naps are ruined, but hearts were encouraged and laughter was shared. And really, that’s the stuff that matters in friendship: the unmasking, the filling up, the encouraging. So thankful for a visit and a friend who does just that for me. Love you, Kat!

A Visit and a Letter to a Friend | Faith and Composition
It is a goal of mine to be more intentional about writing letters this year, telling the people I care about just how much I appreciate them. I won’t always share them on this space; sometimes, in an effort to maintain a dying art, I’ll be writing real postage-required letters with ink on paper. But whenever I do pen some sentiments, I’m going to be sharing a glance at them on Instagram. If you’d like to join me (please do, I’d love to have you!), snap a pic of your letters and share on Instagram with the hashtag #letteredthoughts.  

This post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker and her Five-Minute Fridays. You can find more of my Five-Minute Friday posts here.

The Gift of Family and Our Weekend

Family and our Weekend
There are bursts of lightning outside the window and the rain pounds down as I lie with the baby and soothe her to sleep. Just one room over, delighted bursts of laughter echo down the hall. This is laughter that wells up from my two oldest children, my husband, brother, sister-in-law and mom. The latter three have all traveled the distance of three states to spend the weekend with us. They loaded the car by the light of day and arrived at our doorstep after midnight.

Family and our Weekend

Throughout these past few days, we’ve trekked through the zoo, walked the breadth of our new lot, cheered on the boy at his flag football game, broken bread around numerous tables and browsed a few shops along a quaint and bustling Main Street.

And though their visit brings with it an undeniable mess of luggage and scattered shoes, a disruption to routine and a tangled mess of towels and linens, this blending of three generations beneath one roof also weaves a tapestry of life well lived and people well loved.

Family and our Weekend

Family and our Weekend

There are no airs with these people, this family. No pressure to impress; no fear of judgment. This is the beauty of diversity and the blessing of acceptance … this coming together, this gathering of family.

There are wounds we each carry, present hurts and a specific heartache that grieves the soul. And yet this is the place where those burdens are lifted, the place where heartaches are shouldered. In this coming together,  we come alongside one another, and we share in all the brokenness and the beauty.

Family and our Weekend

These three generations are bound by a bond that cannot be broken. We love despite differences, and we laugh despite our blunders. My children know what this coming together means: they know these people offer arms to soothe and a smile to assure, voices to tell stories and hearts to receive.

Family and our Weekend

This is family. This mixing of opinions and personalities, this taking as we are, this forgiveness of mistakes, this unmerited acceptance.

The girl laughs and begs to “go higher!”, and I listen from the bedroom with a smile. This scene … it’s love without restraint; beauty unmasked.

What does the coming together of family mean to you? How is beauty displayed within the bonds of your own family?

I tapped this entry out several days ago, but I’m just now getting the chance to post it. So although it’s quite late, It was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. Her prompt last week being: Together. I’m also linking up with Mary Beth at Annapolis & Co

Laundry and Grace

On Laundry and Grace | Faith and Composition

It sits on the baby’s rocker in a tangled, wrinkled mess. That pile of clean laundry I pulled from the dryer three days ago, that pile of laundry I’ve yet to find the time or the strength to fold. Just one room over, the boy’s bed is stripped bare. A midnight potty accident necessitated the stripping of sheets and the cramming of textiles into the wash machine.

There’s a pile on our closet floor and a filled-to-the-brim hamper in the girls’ room. It never ends. This wearing of clothes, dirtying them with the stain of soil and the stench of sweat, then drenching them in water to be pulled out clean. The cycle repeats, on and on.

And that’s the thing about motherhood, it goes on and on. This feeding of mouths, this calming of fears, the spit-up stains, the late-night wakings, the dirty diapers and the potty training, the disciplining and the redirecting, the encouraging and the loving.

It’s hard, humbling, holy. And sometimes it feels like too much.

Where is the verse that says: “Thou art a mother to three kids five and under. I will endow thou with super powers.” It’s not in there … I’ve looked.

But then I look harder, and I see what is in there … a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things through the power of an all-mighty God. A regular girl who saved her nation, a fisherman who got out of a boat and walked on water, a tax collector who encountered a blinding light and the living God and brought the message of grace to the world. Ordinary people, indwelt by an extraordinary God.

That Jewish girl reminds that me I was brought here for such a time as this, and the fisherman proves the impossible is possible, and that tax collector encourages me to run the race with perseverance. And my God? He takes the soiled and the dirty, and He washes it clean with the blood of His son. And He steps into the magnificent and the mundane, and He whispers into the depths of my soul that His grace is sufficient for me.

The baby wakes in our bed, where I laid her for her nap, and I pick her up to find she’s soiled her diaper, and there’s poop on our sheets. Another stripping, another washing, another pile of tangled, wrinkled fresh-from-the-dryer sheets. Yes, it goes on and on, and there are times I feel like I’m failing, but with the right perspective, this laundry, this beautiful mess is all a reminder of the sufficiency of His grace.

Sufficiency for salvation, sufficiency for life, sufficiency for motherhood.

This post is inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five-Minute Friday series, just five minutes of unscripted writing on a prompt she posts each Friday. Today’s prompt was laundry, and I’m linking up with her here. You can find my other Five-Minute Friday posts here

If this post has encouraged you, please consider sharing it.

Five-Minute Friday {Truth}

Good Friday, dear friends! I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker today for her Five-Minute Fridays … just five minutes of unscripted writing. Today’s prompt is truth, and it’s a candid one, from a transparent heart. It was encouraging to me as I penned it; perhaps it will encourage you too.

What I know to be true | Faith and Composition
I once had a friend who told me I intimidated her. A friend who’s honest and transparent, real about her own struggles. “Before I really got to know you,” she said. “You intimidated me. You were pretty, and you seemed so smart.” I was a bit surprised by her admission, and truth be told, my pride was a bit bolstered. I hate writing that latter part; pride is ugly. But it’s an honest admission from a sinful heart.

Pride reared it’s head in that moment because we all long to be told we’re pretty, captivating, desirable. Her words felt good because truth be told, I so long to hear it, because I so often doubt it.

Here’s the truth. The real me struggles with doubts, insecurities, fears and anxiety. There are dark places, broken places, and too many failures to count. I get frustrated with my kids, and I keep an imperfect house. I desperately want to be a minister of grace, but all too often I dole out harsh justice. I have the beginnings of crow’s feet, and a few age spots, and that bio pic over there on the right hand side of the page … I photoshopped it just a bit to remove imperfections. And I write because it’s as vital as breathing to me, and I believe God has given me a ministry of words, but I’m scared to death to pursue it. There’s a book proposal collecting dust, one that I submitted to a lone publishing house who told me they would consider publishing it if they hadn’t just signed a similar project. And I shelved it when I got their rejection letter. I’ve never shopped it to anyone else because I’m fearful: fearful of the work, of the critics, of failing.

All of that and so much more (things that would take significantly longer than five minutes to share) is true about me, and those truths shape my days, but you know what? There’s another truth. And this truth … it prevails over all my own shortcomings. This truth triumphs over even death. And it is this:

What I know to be true | Faith and Composition
I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who knew me even before He laid the foundations of this earth. I know that I am prone to wander from that God, but He pursues me with an unrelenting passion, even to the point that He sent His son to die a gruesome death on an ugly cross so my defiant heart could be ransomed and reconciled. I know that there is no truth apart from Him, and His truth brings light and life and freedom. I know that my way is determined, my path is protected and my hope is secure. I know that I am clothed with strength and dignity, I am an adopted royal heir, and the King delights over me with singing.  And that King … He promises to never leave me, nor forsake me.

This is truth that trumps all others. And even when my own shortcomings threaten to choke it out, it prevails. This is God’s truth, and it is constant, secure, eternal. This is truth that forgives, truth that transforms, truth that holds. It’s truth for me, and it’s truth for YOU! 

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
– John 8:32

I pray this transparency was encouraging. It takes a bit of bravery to be honest about our shortcomings, but I think that honesty allows others to open up about their own struggles as well. So please be encouraged today, friends. And know that whatever failures or insecurities may be true about you, His truth overcomes them all!

I also linked this post with the lovely Casey Wiegand.

Five-Minute Friday {She}

Photo ©Shalene Roberts

Photo ©Shalene Roberts

This past week was a busy one. We had family in town for my daughter’s third birthday, and then each day just rolled right into the next (funny how that happens, especially with little ones at home!). Needless to say, I neglected this space for a few days, but today I’m back. And I’m linking up with none other than Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday series. (You can find my other FMF posts here.) For this week’s prompt, I couldn’t help but recall the events that preceded the arrival of baby number three, and how she was literally God’s goodness made manifest to me.

SHE

In some ways, she was a bit unexpected. But God was already at work shaping and molding her well before I saw those two little pink lines … The pink lines that appeared on the stick just two weeks before we were scheduled to leave on a mission trip to Belize.

We were to leave the other two kiddos at home in the care of my mom and board a plane bound for jungles and the tangible expression of God’s grace. I had battled severe bouts of anxiety in the months leading up to the trip: debilitating struggles that sent me spiraling downward into darkness and eventually found me lying motionless in a claustrophobia-inducing machine awaiting an MRI.

Anxiety is an ugly, silent beast, and it manifests itself in ways that only fuel the fire. Crippling fear, vision problems, loss of sensation and tingling in my face and hands were the manifestations of my anxiety.

The source of it … I believe it started when I said yes. Yes to Belize, yes to the distance of a country between my children and I. I told my husband I would go if he desired. But shortly after, the fears crept in. Fears caused by a thief who seeks to steal and destroy.

As the fears grew stronger, I sought a way out. “I’ll go,” I told my husband, “UNLESS I’m pregnant.”

Five-Minute Friday, She | Faith and Composition

We didn’t think it was possible, not yet. But it was my Hail Mary, my shot in the dark.

The MRI came back clear; my vision improved; the tingling abated; my heart learned to trust a good God. And then, those two lines. Our unexpected gift. And we discovered the news of her impending arrival just two weeks before we were to leave. If my flesh were to have its way, she was my excuse made manifest.

But God doesn’t give us a spirit of timidity; He gives us a spirit of power. And in the wonderful mystery of His ways, she became not my excuse to stay, but my assurance to go. She became my promise that God is in control, and I am in His hands.

His timing isn’t coincidental. And she was my gift to a heart that had forgotten how to lean into God.

So we went. The hubbie, myself and her, with her tiny, first-trimester body tucked inside. We left our other two for one week, and we served a people who have empty homes but overflowing hearts.

And then 8 months later, she was born; our promise of God’s goodness made manifest. 

If you’re interested in reading more about my own struggle with anxiety, or if you’re looking for some encouragement to help you through a similar battle, I wrote a whole 6-part series detailing my journey. If you’d like to read through that series, you can find it all here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!