Dream Big, Hope for More, and Don’t Settle

We just got back from an epic family vacation: twelve states later, there we were in our Honda CRV with a bike rack, seven year old son, five toads, one turtle, one dog, and our marriage intact. If that does not inspire a hallelujah, I am not sure what would. We saw Maine, Cape Cod, D.C., and Virginia. Most of all, we saw each other without the obligations of a daily grind or schedule or chores. 

Seventeen months after the lockdown started, I wonder if you’ve been able to have a good rest too. And what’s more: How are your hearts? After a year of Corona plus societal upheaval and more…is your marriage alright? How are the kids? As moms, are we finally coming up for air or simply surviving? Summer is when I allow myself to breathe as a working mom; I know other moms breathe more in fall, but I think it’s so important to take these breaths whenever they come. In July, I am able to slow down and savor moments with my son. I reflect with a cold drink, my toes in the sand, and a book in my hand: a good beach read, to be specific. (Must be fiction and not too complex. Full stop.)

In deeper news, connections with church and true-blue friends seem better than pre-Covid times.  I can’t help but feel that this is all part of God’s plan. He had to take us down to the basics to build us back stronger. If we allowed it, He was pruning us during the past year and a half.  Looking back, I soldiered through the Spring-Fall of 2020, but Winter really pruned me hard. Has this been the same for you?  

In January 2021, I could not settle on a resolution or even a word to carry into the new year, but our pastor helped the congregation and in turn, me, as she laid out business-card-sized “star words” (think North Star guiding the 3 kings). My word was EXAMINE. And boy, did I need to examine myself. I dug deeper into the pieces where the Psalmist cried,  “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I needed hope that God had blessings and room for me, even when I could not predict the outcomes.

Have you ever heard the wives tale of grabbing the brass rings on a carousel? While on a short ferry ride over to Martha’s Vineyard, we got to visit the “Flying Horses” (oldest carousel in the USA). Usually there was just one brass ring in old-timey carousels, and the child who grabbed it would get a prize such as a free ride or a stuffed animal. This one was different… If you rode a horse on the inner circle, you could grab for rings each time the carousel passed and collect them on a special metal spike coming out of each horse’s mane.  I went into the ride with Holden Caulfield vibes from Catcher in the Rye… but then noticed that everyone was collecting rings not to keep but to give to a girl with special needs on the carousel. Yes, they enjoyed grabbing the rings, but they also felt great giving them to someone who might benefit from them more. Are you catching this metaphor? 

There was more joy in the journey around the bend and grabbing the ring itself than what happened next…in the end, all the rings end up in the return chute and only one person gets the free ride, but everyone…everyone…had the chance to ride that inner circle and grab those rings. Such hope is free to everyone, if you choose to hold on to faith as tight as a horse’s reins. 

What’s more: God is faithful, even still. Whether or not we get the “prize” at the end of whatever carousel we might be on right now: work stuff, child rearing, romance, weight loss, you name it… He is for us. He has been there to hear my cries and dry my tears. Like Proverbs 4, God has been helping me, guiding me, almost audibly reminding me: “Make your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.”

As moms, we have to pour out our love even when we feel empty; even when our faith is small and our hope seems scarce; even when we want to look away, down, or just a different direction than straight ahead. But for those of us who have been called to His purpose, take heart and remember Romans 8:28…“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”  

While we turn the corner into the second half of 2021 and summer gives way to fall, let us pray: 

Lord, please show us how to best examine ourselves & cleanse our souls so we can grab onto hope. Help us remain as faithful as You are to us.  Help us pour out love with eyes as clear and bright as a kid on a carousel. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 



Soaking in the Truth 

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5, NIV)
  • “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV) 
  • “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6, NIV) 
  • “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.  Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.  Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.  Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.  Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” (Proverbs 4:23-27, NIV)
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

Music to inspire you:

Living Out the Truth 

Ideas to try… Practically speaking, here are my best tips. 

  • Just add water this summer: 
    • Put on your bathing suit, remove your cover up, and get in the water with your kids, your spouse, or even on your own. 
    • Have a good cry and let everyone in your life do the same. 
    • Drink water during the day and enjoy a fun beverage in the evening too! Maybe that’s beer or wine or a nice cup of tea, but it is all needed in my humble opinion.  
  • Dream big, hope for more, and do not settle. I do not think we hear that enough. It’s okay to grab the brass rings. 
  • Sunshine Crate – send some love to someone else – it is contagious! Plus, you are supporting small businesses!

Resources to come alongside you:

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more. 

In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}