Happy (belated) Easter!
What a beautiful season of renewal this time of year can be for us. How fitting that the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection comes just as nature ushers in new life all around us. While Mother Nature lovingly blanketed us with a fresh coat of snow this past week, I do believe Spring is right around the corner. Before this latest round of winter weather the robins had returned, the grass was ever so slowly turning green, and, dare-say, I expect we’ll see the first signs of flowers budding sooner than we think. After the long inhale of fall and winter, the drawing in and hunkering down, this season of new growth and new life, this exhale, makes us want to jump for joy.
For various reasons life hasn’t allowed Ember and I to frequent this space for quite some time, nearly two years; but after much prayer and consideration, we have felt the Lord calling us back here. We have felt His urging of a revival, a resurrection, of this site. It brings us joy to think about writing here again, to once again share our walk down The Sunlit Path with you, but we realized that before we dig back in we should first share with you some of the twists and turns our Paths have taken over the past two years…..
Photo Credit: Van Dreel Photography
When I left off here I was a newly minted mom of four. Shortly after our daughter was born we decided to take a leap of faith and homeschool our boys despite the fact that I had to return to work following maternity leave and didn’t know when, or if, I’d ever be able to step out of the working world.
I won’t sugar coat things, these past two years of working full-time and homeschooling have been tough – both physically and mentally. But not a day went by that I didn’t think it was worth it; sometimes the Lord asks us to do hard things. Sometimes, He asks us to do hard things even when we don’t see how they will possibly work. Sometimes he asks us to take a leap of faith and trust.
What I’ve learned over these past two years is that if we are willing to say “Yes” to His requests He will supply us with the grace needed to persevere through challenging circumstances. And when He adds more to your plate, like, say, a pregnancy, He’ll carry you through that too.
Yes! That’s right! I am now a newly minted mom of five. We welcomed Sayer Dennis, our fourth little boy, into the world on a foggy night in November. He has been the perfect addition to our family and our hearts could not be any fuller.
This most recent maternity leave also brought with it a major change for our family. Last summer it was announced that the company I worked for was going to be acquired. My initial reaction to this news was panic; I was shocked and fear-stricken. What would this mean for our family? But almost as quick as the fear came, it left and I felt a sense of peace completely consume me. I knew what it meant almost instantly and while it was scary (it is still scary) I am choosing to trust in the Lord. Deep in my heart I’ve always known that this would happen in His timing, and under His circumstances, not mine. As of April 1st, I can now share with you that I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling, mom of five.
I am so looking forward to being able to pour my heart and energy completely into educating my kids and helping Collin run our family business. And while we have abandoned our plans to sell our house, because we finally realized that was not where God was calling us (at least not right now), we do have plans to start a little farm and orchard right here, right where we are.
I’m still not exactly sure what our future looks like but I do know I’m excited for it and I’m excited to share our journey with you once again.
Photo Credit: Olivia Mundwiler Photography
To the outside observer, it would appear that not much has changed for me in the two years since Kate and I regularly wrote here on The Sunlit Path. No change of job situation, no new additions to our family. The biggest notable outward changes would probably be us moving to a new house and neighborhood almost two years ago (which has turned out to be such a blessing…more on that in a future post) and the fact that both our girls are now in elementary school full-time (my youngest started kindergarten this year, and this Mama is still coming to terms with that…).
But if you were to dig a little deeper, on the inside, I would say that I feel worlds apart from the frantic woman of two years ago (this post is a good example of my struggle, feeling like I was never doing “enough” as a wife, mother, employee, etc.), while re-adjusting to being back to work full-time, and not entirely confident that I’d made the right decision for our family in doing so.
These days, sure, there still exists the “daily grind” routine of getting the girls out the door to the bus stop on time, the 45 minute commute to and from work, helping with the girls’ homework and getting them to their extra-curricular activities, then getting up the next day and doing it all again…
…but there’s also a lot less hustling, flailing, despite not being any less busy “on paper”. Something somewhere along the way shifted inside of me, and I know that shift is entirely the Lord’s doing–I can take no credit for it.
Something I’ve struggled with my entire life is feeling inherently worthy–just for being me. I worked so hard in school and my extra-curricular activities, always trying to get to a place where I was worthy of praise, and I learned early on that doing the right things (good grades, awards, looking a certain way, etc.) won me that admiration. If I were to relax–stop trying so hard just for a second–I believed the praise (the love) would disappear. If I wasn’t good, didn’t excel, didn’t fit in…what good was I?
Two years ago when I wrote that post, I was still very much caught up in such works–on whether I was doing the right things, doing enough things, or doing anything well enough–and when I wasn’t (which was most days), I would unravel into a shame spiral.
One book in particular, Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect, helped me start to break free from that unhealthy pattern of trying-failing-shaming. In the book, Shauna talks about how, as someone who never saw herself as particularly pretty or overly brilliant, her ability to be a “workhorse”–someone that could always be counted on to say “yes” and get things done–became her calling card. If she couldn’t be counted on as that person who dug in and did ALL THE THINGS, then who was she? What made her valuable–worthy of being loved?
Whoa. Could I ever relate to that thought process. I had become so entangled in whether or not I was living up to other people’s standards, or my own unrealistic standards, that I couldn’t reconcile the inevitable failure to meet any of them.
I needed a reminder of God’s grace, of His unconditional love. That I was worthy, not because of anything I have done, but because of God’s selfless gift to humanity–dying for our sins on the cross–an act that still takes my breath away during this Resurrection season.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Jesus loves all of us, just as we are. Not because of our beauty or goodness or intelligence or righteousness. As sinners, we all will fall short if we were loved based only on the standards of this world.
All He desires of us is our time and hearts. He wants us to commune with him daily–to read His word and pray, so that we are walking with him on the path. I don’t always succeed at this, either–but I certainly notice a difference in how I view the world around me when I’m focusing on the present moment and my daily walk, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, or getting caught up with what the spectators along the way may think.
Some days, something will happen that sends me down that all-too-familiar shame spiral again. It may be dwelling on something I screwed up, or an event that catapults me into a frenzy of worry. It is so hard to pull out of those dark places–mind and heart racing, stomach dropping, breath catching. I can feel myself tumble down, and I know I need to step back, start to pray for Him to help pull me out of it, and trust…
We both believe that the idea for The Sunlit Path didn’t come from ourselves. We knew we wanted to start a collaborative blog where both of us could write about our daily lives as mothers, our dreams for the future, and how our faith continues to evolve and shape how we make decisions that affect the course of our lives. Somewhere in the midst of our brainstorming and plans, the purpose of The Sunlit Path presented itself to us:
Life’s journey is not what we expected. We can’t plan too far ahead–can’t see beyond that next bend in the road–as much as our Type A personalities keep trying.
This winding, branching path called life has taken us many places. And we’ve been down some dark, desolate stretches.
But along the way we’ve discovered that as we step back and trust in God’s plan for our lives, our next steps forward are illuminated in His timing.
The idea was illuminated in our minds when we stepped back and prayed about what God wanted us to focus on in our writing.
We still believe in this purpose, and want to continue to explore it and reinforce it in our own lives. We hope that you’ll come and walk with us as we “resurrect” The Sunlit Path and get back to sharing in this space what we feel as though the Lord has laid on our hearts.