August 31, 2016

A Day in the Life

The lovely Emily Morrice at Our Nest in the City asked me to join in on her blog series called "A Day in Her Life," to which I happily agreed. 

As I write, it's the bitter-end of summer. I have three boys, who are 13, 10, and 8 and who attend school, so a day in my summer life looks nothing like a day in my school year life. Summer is a wild mix of lazy mornings, swimming, reading, occasionally traveling, and me having a million jagged writing thoughts that I attempt to get down in my Notes app before a fight breaks out and, in my refereeing, forget I even had a thought at all. I love my summer life, but it's definitely not the months I get my best thinking and writing done.
My middle son catching fireflies in our front yard in Charlottesville, Virginia
However, some things look the same for me every day, whether it's summer or not: I get up before my kids, stumble down the stairs to the coffee maker, pour myself a heaping cup, and sit down on the worn right cushion of my couch to read my Bible. This became a routine for me about eight years ago, after years of inconsistency and, frankly, having little desire or motivation for God's Word. When my husband and I moved across the country from "home" and planted a church in our living room, I became desperate for a soul-anchor, for life-refueling words, for the very character of God. I found myself nodding along with Peter when he said, "Lord, to whom else shall we go? You have the words of life" (John 6:68).

So the day begins there, anchoring myself in truth. True to my nerd nature, I love to outline what I'm reading, because it enables me to grasp the big picture and pull out the action verbs--both God's and mine.

My children are awake by this point, making their presence known with trips to the bathroom and loud swipes of hands digging through Rubbermaid containers of Legos in search of the perfect piece. They remain in their rooms because I have taught them to do so, and this is perhaps the one thing that has saved my sanity and helped me prepare to greet them with eagerness and hugs in the morning.

And suddenly the rush is on. I am preparing their breakfast, they are simultaneously eating and throwing Dude Perfect nerf balls at the hoop hung on the kitchen door. Every day, it seems, there are the reminders: please don't forget your deodorant today, brush your teeth, don't forget your literature book. I move from preparing breakfast to packing lunches, all the while shouting out reminders. Boys apparently need lots of reminders.

Finally, after squirming out of my hugs, they pile into my husband's car and are off to school. I tell myself that I will go for a walk or start some exercise program, but then I never do. Instead, I start a pile of laundry, return a few quick emails, take a shower, make myself another cup of coffee, and sit down to write.

I am a writer. It took me so long to say that out loud without apology or feeling like a fake. I am also a working mom. It took me even longer to realize I have a job and, therefore, cannot volunteer for everything at my boys' school or meet with women from church for coffee every time they ask. Funny, isn't it, how sometimes we don't even know how to define our days, or we feel guilty for structuring them in a way that actually serves us and our families?

But now I can say it: I'm a writer. I author books, which means I have a job, which makes me a working mom who happens to work in her pajama pants. And so, each day, after cleaning up the kitchen and starting the dishwasher, I sit down at my dining room table, open my laptop, and write. I often anticipate this moment with trepidation. In fact, when my kids go back to school in a few weeks, I will be starting on a new book. I haven't written regularly since April, and right now, the book idea is vague and floating around somewhere in my head. Will I remember how to write? What will the first sentence be? Do I even have anything to say? The book deadline, not to mention my doubts and insecurities, hang over me even before I sit down at the table. I will, as always, spend several moments (used to be many, many moments) everyday shoving the unhelpful, fearful voices aside and simply writing. Not evaluating, not proofreading, not editing, not thinking too much about it, but just getting into the flow and getting something down.
My dining room table, also known as my writing desk
Some days, usually Tuesdays, I write a blog post on something completely different than the topic of the book, perhaps something that I've been thinking about or something God's been teaching me in His Word.

Stopping occasionally to return emails, eat lunch, and turn over the laundry, I typically write until 1:30. After that, I reserve time for coffee with a friend or a phone call with another long-distance friend or work on something church-related.

As you can probably tell, I'm a structured person, a planner. I reserve parts of my day for what works best in those times for me and the way God made me. I work best when I start my day with God's Word. I work most efficiently and think most clearly in the morning hours, so that's when I primarily write. I crave connection with others in the early afternoon, after the bulk of my writing work is done. And the rest of my day? It's reserved for family and ministry, but mostly family. I pick up my children by 3:00 and then we're either home doing homework and preparing dinner or I'm taxiing them to after-school activities. Sometimes in the evenings, we have people over and, weekly, we host our church small group. Always, my husband and I go to bed together and read side-by-side before turning out the lights. This is perhaps my favorite time of the day.
My husband, Kyle, and me
Fridays are unique to all other days. My husband, a pastor, takes his day off on Friday and, together, we observe the Sabbath. We have come to passionately guard this day after many years of relentlessly running, pushing, striving, building, and working that silently and subtly drove us into deep spiritual and emotional trouble. We spend the morning together doing what we love: going out for breakfast, walking and talking, reading. I tell him about what I'm writing, he tells me about his work, and we celebrate victories we're seeing in our kids. Sometimes we talk about our discouragements and issues. We are often exhausted on Fridays, but these days are rest for our weary souls and the highlight of our week.

I recently turned 40. On that milestone day, God was so good to give me big-picture clarity about my life. The gist of it is this: I love my life. I'm on track to do with it what I believe God has asked me to do, and that's a very good realization to have. But sometimes I struggle with the routine of my every days. I'm tired a lot, and I'm not always walking around with such clear direction. I don't always feel confident that I'm structuring my days well. But on that day I turned 40, I recognized that it's the everyday routines that are so important. They don't feel constantly important, but they are the building blocks to a life of faith and purpose. So I'll keep on and trust God to redeem my offerings.

Head on over to Emily's blog to read about other women in various ages and stages of life. And some of you may be aspiring writers and wondering how I got started. You're in luck! I wrote about it last year.