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.


When You Wish Life Looked Different

When You Wish Life Looked Different

A few days ago when my husband was grabbing one last cup of coffee on his way out the door, he opened the cabinet full of coffee tumblers and I almost started crying. We have a whole shelf filled with the cute coffee cups I used to bring with me to school during my teaching days that rarely get used anymore. My job as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t require to-go cups.

It hit me in that moment how much I miss going to work. It’s been almost six years since we moved to Ellensburg and I last stepped into my own classroom to teach. Even though my last year teaching was excruciatingly difficult, I miss the satisfaction of using all of my competence to make an impact on others. I miss being recognized for a job well done. I miss being paid for my time.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think I would be happier if my life looked different than it does now.

Yes, I realize the work I’m doing as a stay-at-home mom is the most significant work I could do—shaping, training, molding, and pouring into little humans that will go and impact the world in ways I could never imagine. I am SO THANKFUL for the opportunity to stay home with my kids and watch them grow up before my very eyes. Truly, I wouldn’t trade it.

But I still miss going to work. Especially when my days at home are hard—which is often.

In the midst of conversation with Corey later that night, I found myself complaining about my job. He listened without judgment as I told him how I often get jealous of his freedom to drive to work by himself, have conversations with grown ups about significant things, stop at the store without bringing snacks or bribes for good behavior, and use his gifts in a way that makes the world better.

Jealousy is in the eye of the beholder.

He told me he sometimes gets jealous of my ability to play as much as I want with our kids, the flexibility of my schedule to do whatever I choose with our days, the sweetness of sharing ordinary moments with our babies, and especially freedom from the heavy weight of responsibility he carries every day for those he leads. Yeah, I guess I do have it pretty good, I thought.

Our conversation reminded me how the trap of comparison steals my joy even when I’m comparing my real life to the one I think I want. If I’m honest, my desire for something different isn’t really about going to work—it’s about longing to feel important.

I’ve struggled through my first four-and-a-half years of motherhood. Most days, I don’t feel very effective at my job raising our babies and running our home. This week has been especially hard—my short temper, angry voice, and lack of compassion have led to more mommy apologies and tears than I can count. I’m humbled every day by a life that isn’t exactly the way I pictured it.

I was never the girl that dreamed about being a mom. I dreamed about doing hard, important things like becoming a doctor or serving in the Peace Corps. And exciting things like starring on Broadway or competing in the Olympics. Prestige and glamour played a leading role in shaping my dreams. I always wanted kids, but I never considered how the privilege of shaping lives would require my life to change—I didn’t expect so much sacrifice.

Motherhood is neither prestigious nor glamorous. But it is hard and important. And incredibly humbling.

It turns out that I don’t enjoy being humbled. Anything that causes my sense of self-importance to die usually involves discomfort or pain. But some of my most humbling moments have also ingrained my character with hard-earned wisdom.

For example, I remember being sternly reprimanded by a coach I deeply respected after mouthing off during practice. His words proved that my integrity is more important than my talent.

I realized after I failed and had to re-take my final comprehensive oral exam in college that I should have asked my professors for help. Failure taught me the process of learning is more valuable than an impressive performance.

Marrying a man who sees all my junk and realizing it affects him too has shown me I can’t be fully loved unless I’m fully known.

Several years ago, I took time off of work because stress was affecting me both physically and mentally. I realized my capacity is limited because I am human, and creating healthy boundaries is a sign of strength, not weakness.

For now I’m setting aside my education, my career goals, and my desire to be professionally competent for full-time motherhood. I am learning through daily surrender to let go of what the world tells me success looks like so I can grab on more firmly to heaven.

It turns out that my insides are way more valuable to God than prestige or glamour. Since we tend to evaluate others based on what we see on the outside—their appearance, accomplishments, even possessions—it feels a bit backwards to consider my internal world worthy of cultivation. But it is.

I guess dying to my self-centered ambitions makes room for more of Jesus in me. And if parenting has taught me nothing else, it’s how far from perfect I am and how much I need him to intervene. I’m thankful that my kids regularly push my pride aside to make room for his divine perfection instead.

I recognize that there are many mamas who would love to stay home with their kids and can’t make it work financially. There are many wives who would love to be moms but deal with the ache of unfulfilled longings, or even the pain of miscarriage or infertility. I know many beautiful women who would love to be wives but wrestle with the tension between living fully in singleness and simultaneously longing for the right someone with whom they can share life. I share my struggle as a mom tenderly, recognizing that we are all carry longing in different areas.

No matter our story, difficult circumstances tempt us to turn our eyes toward the life we wish we had.

Instead of allowing the slippery slope of wishful thinking to pull us downward into discouragement and despair, may we diligently fix our eyes on the unseen transformation happening through surrender. God is at work in the longing. May we have the grace to see his fingerprints even when our days are hard.

Today I choose to cuddle instead of climbing the ladder and build a rocket ship instead of a name for myself. I’m trusting that God is not wasting a moment of my struggle because he is training me to lay aside my desires in favor of his purpose: making me more like him.

 

Photo credit for featured image: Kandice Halferty Photography