For a long time, my three oldest kids were kind of the backdrop in the story, but now they are leaders in the play. Having a 16 year old, high school junior who is plotting her future which always includes leaving has a way of making everything feel a little more urgent. My 14 year old son will never be smarter, faster, stronger or hungrier than he is now. Except maybe next year. If my oldest pulls, then he is the pusher. More, faster, and better are his horizon. For the first six months of 6th grade, I have been expecting the normal storm clouds from our sweet 11 year old. I got lulled into complacency only to have puberty, adoption questions, and sixth grade mean-girls hit like some kind of perfect storm. And then just as Jim Gaffigan described having four kids, "It's like you are drowning and somebody hands you a baby." Miss Baby is 16 months old, still expecting eye-teeth any moment now and parroting everything that happens around her from smart phones to toilet paper to eyeliner. We laugh a lot more these days. And we are exhausted like never before.
Our church continues to thrive. Against all odds, this haven of love and community is healthier than ever before and is no longer a baby church, a seedling. It is a strong sapling that has done plenty of bending and not breaking in the past year. This is where I both give and get back much of my energy. It took me a long time to realize that my life has always been tangled up with the life of church, and I wanted to make that commitment more formal. So over a year ago, Robb suggested I seek ordination through Vintage Fellowship and that is what I am doing. Writing out my beliefs in my paper is teaching me so much, but it is a slow process that I cannot skip over quickly. Some days I think I should go to seminary at some point and some days I remember that 15 years of experience is the same as grad school. I have 20 years. This path will lead me to teaching, writing, and speaking more and developing the art of sermon-crafting, not to mention helping with weddings and other official roles. I alternate between terror and excitement about this. It makes me feel alive in a way I haven't before.
Almost 14 years ago, I started selling things I bought at rural Michigan auctions and garage sales online. That led me to making mosaics from the imperfect things I found and I find such deep satisfying metaphor in the finding and making process. But I have discovered that this part of my life, once so vital to our financial survival, feels like it is taking a smaller role in my life. It's hard to describe in any concrete terms, but maybe the best way to explain is that I'm not looking to get famous from my Etsy shops. I love them. I work them. I am even teaching my oldest kids how it all works, hoping to apprentice them and give them some practical skills. I will always be creative, but I don't know if I will always be a vintage seller. That part of my story could change. And yet, I live in the tension that this is still a part of our income and what we depend on to meet very real needs. It is good work. I am grateful for it. I don't hate my job. It is a very natural extension of my values, skills, experiences and interests. I am so lucky!
Everyday now, I find new things that I am thankful for. And every day I think of very good people and things I just cannot give myself or my energy to right now. So gratitude and grieving happen most every day.
Most days, I have to just live with the fact that I have disappointed someone in one way or another.
I couldn't interact on Facebook as much. I turned down a craft show that would have been fun. I left my Christmas lights out too long. I didn't go to the party at the cooperative gallery I am a part of. I can't get on top of sending birthday cards to my nieces and nephews. I missed a chance to spend time with one of the kids. It's hard for me. For so long, I thought of myself as someone people could depend on. I don't know if they can right now. This is the part of my story that is about trying more than it is about achieving. Sometimes that really depresses me. But then I think back on how things can change....how they have already changed, and I know that I want to keep trying.