Creating Space

Creating Space

Since I stopped working several years ago, I’ve really missed my desk. It wasn’t particularly noteworthy or attractive–but it was mine.

A heavy metal beast, it had survived several decades traveling from classroom to classroom, the formica top peeling in places and brown circles from various cups of coffee stained along the edge. A wooden organizer provided a home to sticky notes, referral slips, and thumb tacks. It was functional yet uninspiring.

The desk itself wasn’t anything remarkable, but it was my own.

During my days as a teacher, my desk was the first place I’d go when I entered my classroom each morning. I’d drop my bags, pull up my chair, take a deep breath and mentally prepare for the day ahead. Whether checking email, designing lessons, or grading papers, this was my place to do the work I needed in order to be fully present with students for the rest of the day.

It was a space that kept me grounded, focused on my purpose.

Several years ago, I stopped teaching in preparation for the family my husband and I were planning to grow. Corey and I made the commitment to live on a single income so I could stay at home to raise our kids full-time.

Back then, the choice seemed easy. It was a decision we fully believed was best for our family, one we would make again if given the chance. Yet in the midst of dreaming about the baby we would soon hold, I failed to fully consider the cost of staying home.

I had no idea how much I was giving up.

I didn’t realize I was sacrificing my identity as a professional, the satisfaction of working hard all day then coming home to rest and recover, the freedom to offer others my full attention, the energy to dream and lead and create, or the opportunity to use my gifts and training to make a difference in our community.

It didn’t occur to me until later that I was giving up the space I used to be my best self.

If I’m honest, I’ve struggled through my first several years of motherhood. Let me be clear: I cherish my kids. While I’m humbled by gratitude for the ability to stay home with them, I also often find myself writhing internally within the limitations of this season. And I feel guilty admitting it.

I would choose this life again in a heartbeat, the privilege of shaping precious humans all day, but it also chafes against the very core of how I’m wired to achieve, perform, and produce visible results.

My deeper struggle, though, comes from relinquishing an expression of my unique identity outside of the role that I play as mom.

It finally hit me a couple weeks ago–I needed a desk.

Not that it was ever really about a piece of furniture. I needed a space to intentionally pursue what brings me life. Enough of responding reactively to the external forces shaping my days; it’s time to proactively build rhythms that allow me to flourish in this current season.

So I pulled together random bits of furniture from other parts of the house, a table from the laundry room, an extra chair and lamp that wouldn’t be missed. Snagging a candle here and a basket there, I rounded up decor and repurposed it for my new workspace.

It has changed everything.

I finally have a venue to create, to sit still and undistracted, to write words that bring life; a designated corner to focus fully on the people I’m coaching; an uncluttered nook to organize my thoughts, prioritize my time, and strategize for the week and beyond.

More than just giving me a place to get stuff done, setting up my own space has legitimized my pursuit of the things I feel called to do.

Glancing at this miniature office in the corner of my bedroom sparks joy, not just because it’s pretty, but also because it serves as a reminder of who I’m created to be. A wife and mom, yes, gratefully so. But I’m also a writer, a leader, a dreamer, a teacher, a coach, a professional with skills and gifts that are worth investing in.

Looking at my desk reminds me who I am.

It calls me back to how I want to live: moving forward with intention, shaping the world instead of being molded by it.

It invites me to create space for what matters, things that otherwise get lost in the clamor of what’s urgent.

It beckons me to come, sit, breathe deep, refocus, and prepare for the transformation I crave.

It offers hope, a latch to unlock the door keeping me bound inside my current perspective.

It welcomes curiosity, allowing me to settle down long enough to ask the deeper questions, which will only surface when my inner turmoil grows still.

This space allows me to re-order my days so my internal priorities align with how I spend my actual moments.

As I sit here now, I’m choosing to leave other things undone for a time. An egg-crusted pan remains in the sink, our new puppy waits reluctantly in her crate, and text messages stay marked “unread.” But while those things linger, my soul comes a bit more to life.

I don’t want to look back and realize I missed it, whatever it is. May you also have the courage to determinedly pursue what matters most in your world, one space at a time. Your life is worth it.


How to Live a Life that Matters

How to Live a Life that Matters

I left the kids at home with my superhero hubby last weekend and flew alone to southern California for five uninterrupted days with my eighty-four year old grandma. We spent most of our time together talking about her life.  I did my best to listen to Gma’s stories, documenting her memories in an attempt to permanently put to paper the impact of her life on our family.

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As I listened to story after story—and my dear Gma has A LOT of stories—I found myself flooded with the weight of what she was sharing. The privilege of hearing her memories, watching her joy as she relived the moments through each story she told, ushered me into sacred territory.

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I realized as she talked that the task was too big for me. How in the world do you squeeze a whole life into words? Talk about being humbled by an ocean-sized undertaking. I found myself lost for words, unable to express the overwhelming value of her legacy. I wanted everything I wrote to convey the truth that her life matters.

I finally had to take a break and walk outside to look at the ocean, which is conveniently just a few steps from where we were talking. Something about the consistency of the waves is inherently calming—they just keep coming, no matter what I’m feeling.

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Standing on the sand looking at the ocean, I flashed back to moments as a kid when I would play on the same beach while visiting Gma and my grandpa, Boppa. I remembered what it felt like to have the waves lap at my feet, cold and foamy, pulling the sand out from beneath my toes as the water returned to the ocean. I used to force myself to stand as still as possible, willing the receding waves to bury my legs up to my knees in sand.

Decades later, the same waves are crashing on the same beach—and yet nothing else is the same.

Sweet memories of summers spent swimming in the ocean, singing at the player piano, and visiting Knott’s Berry Farm with grandparents that spoiled us rotten come flooding back with every visit to the beach house. Boppa died a few years ago, but everything about that house reminds me of time with him.  Surprise birthday parties he threw for Gma on the sand. Dinners with my aunts, uncles, and cousin on the back patio. Watching the sun setting where the ocean meets the sky. So much life has been lived in this place.

Hearing Gma’s stories made me reflect about my own life, honestly asking myself, “What will people remember about the years I live?” I doubt my impact will have to do with my effectiveness as a housekeeper. Or my keen fashion sense. Or the meals I cooked. Or how much money I made. Or how well I decorated my house. The only things that last are the things that can’t be seen.

Each morning last weekend, I woke up to light pouring through the guest bedroom window overlooking the ocean. The early morning light inspired me to try running on the beach.

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The sand closest to the breaking waves was most packed down, offering the least resistance for a first time beach runner like me. I jogged down the beach along the waterline admiring the majestic ocean and passed by several runners heading the opposite direction. A little further along, I looked down and noticed there were no footprints anywhere in the sand where those I’d passed had been running. The waves had washed away the evidence that anyone else had ever been there.

It struck me—our lives are like those footprints. Sooner than we realize, they will be washed away. So what are we going to do with our moments?

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I’ve been thinking about eternity a lot lately. Looking at what the Bible says about heaven is changing everything about how I view my days on earth. If this life isn’t all there is (and I believe with my entire passion-filled heart that there’s more!), I want to use every ounce of breath in my lungs to get ready for the rest of forever.

How do I live a life that matters?  By spending the moments of my life in a way that makes the impact last beyond a footprint in the sand.

The multi-million dollar houses along the beach where Gma lives have been endangered by huge tides washing away much of the sand between the houses and the ocean. In response, owners have spent thousands of dollars each to barricade their property with sandbags to protect their homes from the powerful ocean. It was a visual reminder that even the most impressive things in the world will eventually be washed away by the tides of time.

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As I ran past these sandbags on the beach, I kept thinking about a story Jesus told about two different house builders.  One builder was considered foolish for constructing his home on top of sand, and the other was considered wise for digging down deep and building on a foundation of rock. The first house collapsed in a moment when a torrent of wind and water bombarded it. The second house was built to last, standing strong even when water came flooding in.

Only the things in life that are built on the Rock will never be washed away. David writes these words to describe the God who lives forever: “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” What we build our lives on determines whether what we build will last.

I want to build my life on the Rock that last forever, trusting Him to make these moments matter by choosing

connection over convenience,

presence over productivity,

perseverance over comfort,

gratitude over comparison,

authenticity over counterfeit,

love over all things.

I hope that if I live into my eighties, I’ll look back with a satisfied sigh and a sense that my one and only life has been well-lived. I hope I’ll know that I became all I was created to be, loved with reckless abandon and impacted the people in my world in a way that makes them more fully alive.

No matter how many years I’m given, I hope when I cross from earth into eternity I’ll know that my life mattered. May we all build what lasts with our moments from now until forever.