Patience with the Process (or, coming home to a mud pit where a garage used to be)


One week ago, an entire section of my house was ripped off. It was shocking how little time it took for those walls to come tumbling down. Even though it was planned, even though it's part of a house project we have drawn up, it was still surprising to actually see the deconstruction take place.


It was also exciting to wonder at how everything would look when the blank space would be transformed, and our dreams would become reality. 


It has been a week, and that blank space has only transformed from being a dirt pit to being a mud pit. After a dry fall we were suddenly struck by a week of rain. 


The next step of transformation is digging a foundation. That can't happen until the ground is ready to hold the cement. After spending months working on plans, and weeks waiting on permits, we have had no choice but to continue to be patient. 

Until the earth is stable, the rebuilding has to wait. 

There's so many times in life when we are tempted to rush the process. Who wants to come home every day to mud pit next to the front door? 

The deconstruction can be fast, but the reconstruction is almost guaranteed to be slow. We need to know that the ground we are building our lives upon is stable and good and ready for all that lies ahead. 

What I am now walking out with my house, I have spent much of the last year walking out with my personhood and my faith. It was frustrating and messy and slow. I spent a lot of months with a mud pit next to my door. Yet, I know it's what was needed. The parts of the house that were torn down were someone else's rooms, not meant for me. The space I am living in now needed foundation and walls that would allow me to expand into who I was always meant to be. That kind of transformation takes time. 

I am learning that patience is one of the great acts of faith in our lives: patience with ourselves, with the weather that is beyond our control, and with the God who is listening to us sigh as we look at the mess we are coming home to each day.

The mud pit won't last forever, but it can't be transformed until the ground is ready. 

Remembering the Day Before

"The body remembers trauma for a long time." 

This is what a massage therapist told me last week while she cared for injuries still lingering from my car accident in June. I am fairly certain she could've told me the details of the accident before I described it, just from feeling the tension spots in my back. She described pain and trouble spots I didn't even notice until she pointed them out. 

In the middle of her work, she asked me if I ever wake up with side pain in the morning. I was a bit surprised at the insight of her question, and responded with a quick yes. It's always been a mystery to me where my side pain has come from. She said it was probably from my cesarean. That there is likely scar tissue still lingering around in my body and causing trouble. 

She noticed that my body is still hanging on to the trauma of my firstborn's birth. 

Tomorrow, my son turns nine. I've written before about some of the miraculous and crazy circumstances around his premature birth. It is something I will celebrate tomorrow.

I want to use my body's memory to jar my heart's memory- to remember not only tomorrow, but today. I want to remember the day before the miracles. 

Nine years ago today, I was in the hospital on bed rest, unsure of how long I would be there. My baby wasn't due for another eight or nine weeks, but no one thought we would make it that long. My blood pressure was spiking to 214/164, and my baby's fetal heart rate was dropping to 60. This was less than a week after I'd been diagnosed with *pre-eclampsia in the first place. There had been little time to process a pregnancy going so differently than we had expected or hoped. 

Nine years ago tomorrow, we celebrated the birth of a healthy baby boy. Eight weeks early, and tiny at 3 pounds, but pink and screaming and kicking and resting in our arms. We knew he would need to be in the NICU, but also knew he and I had both survived the birth. 

Nine years ago today, we didn't know. We didn't know how long the pregnancy would last. We didn't know how much worse my health might get. We didn't know how the baby would do at enduring labor. 

Nine years ago today, we could do nothing but wait, pray, and worry. I was angry at the person who quoted Romans 8:28 to me, who assured me that all things would work out for good. Because we didn't know that, not in the way that verse was being used. Somewhere in me, I knew that God was with us, and would carry us through whatever came to pass. But I didn't know what that would mean. And neither did anyone else.

We didn't know if the steroid shot had helped our baby's lungs, or if he would have lifelong asthma. We didn't know if my body or my baby would be able to handle labor. We didn't know if things would lead to a cesarean, and if that happened, if I would have a major seizure in response. We knew we were in the hands of good doctors, but risks were still there.

Plenty of people of faith have prayed and hoped and held vigil while in crisis, and ended up with different results than what we had. I knew that. Reassuring me with false promises about how everything would be okay was neither life-giving nor helpful. 

The day before, I needed the gifts that so many of my friends and family gave. The gifts of presence and empathy. The gifts of laughter and distraction. The gift of feeling like I was not alone. 

My body remembers the trauma, and I want to remember, too.

I want to remember how I was angry with God, and God did not abandon me. I want to remember the relationships that held me when I felt like the floor of life was dropping below my feet. I want to remember the messiness of a faith without easy answers. I want to remember the abundance of love and lack of shame of receiving help when I needed it. 

And I want to celebrate this body of mine, which so often frustrates me by not looking the way I want it to look.  I want to celebrate how she hung on nine years ago today, and brought my son and I into the hope of nine years ago tomorrow. 

Body, you can let go of the trauma now. My heart will not forget. 

* Spoiler alert from Downton Abbey Season 3: As a point of reference, Sybil had pre-eclampsia and died when it became full-blown eclampsia. Eclampsia remains a large factor in childbirth deaths worldwide. My disease was early onset, and progressed into HELLP syndrome. Without access to modern medical care, I, and the baby, would likely have met the same fate. Which, by the way, made that episode even more emotional to watch. 

When missing a deadline gives you a gift

I missed the deadline to sign my kids up for soccer this year. I hate it when that kind of thing happens. I feel so... inadequate. I knew registration was coming, I knew my kids wanted to do it, and I just totally spaced. 

This fall has been a bit crazy as we have sorted through a new family rhythm and schedule. My youngest has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster as he gets used kindergarten, my oldest to sorting through a homework routine with a new teacher, my husband is bearing the load of some demanding work projects, and I'm trying to balance the responsibilities of the hodgepodge that is my job situation right now. Most families and individuals could tell their own story of September stress, filling in the gaps with their own unique details. 

fort building

Yesterday after school, I told the kids that we must do something outside that afternoon/evening. These crisp and sunny autumn days are too precious to waste. We talked through a few options, and settled on biking to a nature area that's not far from our house. We brought a picnic dinner with us and set about exploring the trails. We spent the bulk of our time in this great area they have set up for kids to build forts with big sticks and whatever else they see in that part of the woods. 

It felt luxurious to do something like this on a Monday. The wisps of fresh cool air, hints of fall, and glimmers of sunshine were exactly what each of us needed. 

I realized on your way home that Monday nights were when we would've had soccer, if I had remembered registration. What a gift it was to us that we had no commitments. How wonderful it was to have the freedom to explore and the time to be together.

Jesus talks a few times about not worrying about our lives. I think any application of these verses to imply that we won't have failures or missteps or frustrations along the way does not line up with real life. Sometimes it does feel like God is not there, and it doesn't do our faith or our soul any good to push those doubts aside in the name of Jesus. It also does no good to quote these verses to someone with clinical anxiety, which is something totally different than we are talking about here.

Anxiety and doubts are one thing, worry is another. Worry is carrying problems beyond their time, be they from the past or the future. Worry is the weight in our hands that closes us off from receiving the gift of the present moment. Worry is guilt and shame and fear rolled into one annoying burden. 

On Monday, something rather magical happened. My mistake had been transformed into a beautifully ordinary yet amazing kind of gift, and I was able to receive it. Because I was able to receive it, my kids were able to accept it as well.

We went to bed with dirt under our fingernails, wonder in our lungs, and gratitude around our hearts. I hope I can do that more often. I hope you can, too.

May we drop the weight of worry and leave our hands open to hold joy. 

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" - Matthew 6:26-27

sunset over the lake