In the Face of Many Firsts

For the last five days, I’ve been an emotional pendulum, swinging frantically back and forth between excitement and guilt, between the need for self-care and self-accusations of selfishness.

On Thursday I fly to Minneapolis for the Why Christian? Conference.

In nearly four years, I’ve only been away from Eliot once overnight, and Isaiah, never.

We are one of those families, you know. We snuggle in bed with our boys all night long, content to have them close to us as long as it’s needed.

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So going to Minneapolis for a few days brings a bundle of thoughts.

But it’s a list of firsts- my first flight alone, my first trip to Minneapolis, my first conference alone, the first time being away from the boys overnight.

When you face these firsts, it’s scary.

But it’s also a way to force yourself open, a preparation to breathe and receive.

Thomas Merton said,

“Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and children of God.

This means that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth.

To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity…”

In some seasons, we’re so very sponge-like. 

In some seasons, it’s all taking in, receiving, then processing and releasing what we’ve been given into someone else.

But the point is the soaking up.

So when my mothering heart isn’t accusing me of selfishness, it’s admitting a need to be filled up.

It’s admitting the truth that I want to work with God to create my identity, my vocations, my every day experiences.

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It’s the work of disciplining and loving my boys in grace, it’s the work of taking quiet for myself, it’s the tangible scrubbing of dishes and taking naps. It’s watching Gilmore Girls and decorating for fall.

It’s mourning for the hurt of the world, for mothers who don’t get the chance to fly across their country for a pre-birthday weekend, for a chance to breathe.

So here, I am thankful.

And in two days, I will set off. I will board that plane and try to become friends with the people sitting next to me. I will spill too much of my story to them in hopes that they’ll share theirs with me.

Sponges, all of us.

Friends, wherever we are, let’s soak up the life that’s been given us. Let’s take in and glean from these lessons we’re learning, and let’s pour out.

And when we need rest, let’s rest.

When we need quiet, let’s settle down and receive, especially in the face of so many firsts to be experienced.

There, may we find what we need.

7 thoughts on “In the Face of Many Firsts

  1. Beautifully said, as always, dear one. I will be praying for you this week. Count on it. And you will be missed on Sunday.

    PS Just wrote about “firsts” recently too …

    “Firsts are hard.
    Firsts are scary.
    Firsts can be painful, intimidating, and stressful.

    But with just the right amount patience, and compassion, and encouragement
    For yourself
    Or someone you love
    Or that person standing next to you,
    Firsts can build confidence,
    bring dreams closer,
    and be the start of a new beginning and better days to come.” – Rachel Macy Stafford

  2. Kaitlin, dear, beautiful as always. God is carrying you — and your three guys. Your eloquent and heartfelt words reminded me of a poem I love by Judy Brown:


    What makes a fire burn
    is space between the logs,
    a breathing space.
    Too much of a good thing,
    too many logs
    packed in too tight
    can douse the flames
    almost as surely
    as a pail of water would.

    So building fires
    requires attention
    to the spaces in between,
    as much as to the wood.

    When we are able to build
    open spaces
    in the same way
    we have learned
    to pile on the logs,
    then we can come to see how
    it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
    together, that make fire possible.

    We only need to lay a log
    lightly from time to time.

    A fire
    simply because the space is there,
    with openings
    in which the flame
    that knows just how it wants to burn
    can find its way.

      1. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Kaitlin I am also attending the Why Christian? conference (leaving my boys with Grandparents) and will be praying for both of us to find the fuel/space we need this weekend.

  3. I am touched by your words and your photos. I’m also attending the conference this weekend; maybe we’ll cross paths! Blessings, peace, to us all.

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