Back to the start of this year. Life just by the book. Daddy off to work. Toddlers in half day preschool. Baby home with mama. Mama working a side hustle. Wearing the baby and building a business. After school activities. Festivals and parties. Outings and events. Front row at church. Matching little girls. Isn’t it just the dream?
January 1st and a good hard look at the real truth of it all. And really? I was swirling in a blur of overwhelm. All the good things piled together to make a heap of overtired, overworked, over scheduled, and over extended.
My kids were exhausted. I was empty. My life felt rushed and frantic and hard. Loud. From the outside, it looked like everyone else’s life. Normal. But? Did that make it ok? Is hustle a badge of honor? Am I chained to the dream of doing it all that’s suffocating a generation of women? Normal. But not good.
Or can I choose something wild? Opt out? Choose abnormal.
I wanted quiet. Less. And also more.
2019 was my year to explore a new way. Still. Intimate. Simple. Good.
I pulled my family in close. And changed it all. With the purpose of quieting our lives. For stillness. For Depth. For less. But more.
Really it took months to undo all the doing in my life. To reset. And pull back. Say no. And choose slow. It’s a good and hard work to create open space. But open space? That’s where life happens, really. It’s where we watch our babies sleep. And make out with our husbands. It’s where we grab wine with our girlfriends. Build sandcastles. Have dance parties. It’s where we read books. And watch the wind blow through the trees. Look at the moon. And garden. It’s in the quiet open space where God’s whispers become clear. We crave the quiet stillness of being. Because we are made for it. Our souls need to be still. So yes. The work of creating space is a good and hard and necessary work.
My biggest decision at the beginning of the year was to keep Mae and Bonnie home. It meant pressing pause on Selah and Mini Motions. I wouldn’t be able to write or host events with any regularity. I wouldn’t be able to teach dance all over town with my own two littles in tow. And? I wouldn’t have the income that mattered to my family. An excruciating decision. To pause my work. Because this work I do? It’s a deep part of me. A purpose. And I was afraid to let it go. Afraid that I’d never get it back. That someone else would step into the space and do it better. That I’d regret loosening my grip on it all. And yet somehow. In the presence of fear, peace seeped in and settled like a fog. Slow and low. Enveloping. Soothing. Quieting. I let the peace wrap around me. Thick. Heavy. It blurred the fear. Quieted the doubt. And I breathed in the truth - that mothering at home was the next right thing for our family. I didn’t need a map. Or a plan. Just deep peace. Obedience.
So we did it. In January we started making plans to slow. To shift my focus back home. Cut Mini Motions back, and loosen my commitment to Selah for the year. The last baby year.
In April I told my husband I was failing with my goal for quiet. I told him it felt like it would take half the year to just put everything in place to be quiet. And in the meantime, life was still loud. And hard. Fast. Pressing. I laughed in nervous frustration over my failure. I heaved sighs of resignation as the year marched along without the quiet I craved. But little by little? Before I even noticed? It was working. I was cultivating quiet. See it’s the preparation that’s hard. The toil of cultivating a life. With intention. Digging in the dirt and getting out all the junk is a labor. Hard and dirty and ugly. Not beautiful. Not delicate. But purposeful. Then finally is time is right to plant something good that can take root. And grow. And finally? Bloom.
I couldn’t see what was happening beneath the surface for months. I couldn’t see the seeds I planted grow roots. And I didn’t notice the tiny buds of progress sprout through the dirt. A promise of new life.
I was frustrated and defeated. Blind to the life growing deep beneath the surface of it all. To the miracles happening. You see? The space I labored to create? That is where the year bloomed in ways I never planned or imagined. The open space was where the dreaming and gathering and noticing happened. The open space was where people came into my life in miraculous mystery. Inviting me into God’s plans for my year. Wild and intricate plans.
Selah and Mini Motions didn’t pause. Not in the ways I anticipated. They blossomed into their own wild gardens. Deeply rooted. Full of color and sweetness and new life. They needed space to bloom as they were meant to. And when I cultivated the space? My businesses, my family, and my life burst into bloom. Surprising and delightful and lovely. It was a year of big milestones in business and precious tiny moments at home. It was worth the work of making space. Worth saying no again and again to invitations and new commitments. Worth making every yes my best yes. Worth the raised eyebrows and quizzical looks when I made decisions no one understood. You see? It was worth disappointing some people to delight the most important people. It was worth letting go of some good to enjoy the best. The labor was hard, and I was weary from it. But the fruit was good and sweet.
And now? The year is ending. And my garden goes dormant. The blooms of this year fade. Leaves wither. But the roots stay strong. The soil tended. The beauty becomes a memory. And a promise. The present is quiet. Just being. Waiting. And growing beneath the surface. Reaching deeper. Grasping for rich and life giving nourishment. The garden rests. It will bloom again. When it’s time. But now? It’s quiet. And that’s good.
Thank you to everyone who helped me bloom this year. You are the miraculous mystery I never expected. I will be signing off for a little personal sabbatical for the month of December. To listen. And strengthen my roots. And prepare to bloom again. The Selah Journal is still available for purchase, and orders will be filled quickly. You will also receive your Sunday Selah emails. But I will be going quiet on social media. I can’t wait to share what I learn when I see you again in 2020.