Dear friend, I am sitting here thinking about you and this space and how much I want to just chat again. It’s been a long time without any writing here, and I miss it. They – I don’t know who these people are, mythical guru types – say that you’re never supposed to put a blogging explanation up when you stop writing for a while, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is my space. I get to make my own rules.

What a year. We aren’t at the end, but the events in the world, the bloodshed, the disrespect, the abuse, it seems like we’ve opened a Pandora’s box that will not be shut as venom pours out. In my own life, I faced one of the most challenging personal situations I’ve dealt with in a long time. The middle of this year felt lost in this battle against fear and against myself. I started a graduate program at our local seminary, and I finished my first class last week. It was the second half of the Old Testament – Prophets and writings. I left every class overwhelmed with what I did not know about the Jewish context for these books, overwhelmed and grateful. When I read the headlines of our often unstable world, it helped to read the stories of unstable times that are thousands of years old. We are not the only ones who face immoral leaders and deal with abuse of power. It’s been here, it’s been here for a long time.

We spent five weeks in Europe to reconnect with our family there, and we returned to Geneva, the birthplace of this blog over seven years ago. It’s the first time we went back as a family, and it felt significant. Taking the boys on the bus routes they went on as babies in a stroller. Retracing my steps through the hospital where they were born. Standing in front of the apartment where I met my husband. Overwhelming emotions, many thoughts, and I’ll be slowly writing about those here because I hope to blog once a week from now for a little while, at least until my next class starts in seminary.

When I first started this blog, I was a housewife in Geneva, Switzerland. I think something in my soul was knocking, telling me it was time to start writing again. So I started writing about what we were eating, it was going to be a food blog. Nothing too personal. Then I got pregnant unexpectedly. Had my first sonMy father-in-law died. And the words that were mostly about food turned toward other things, perhaps the things that have been there all along, and I’ve spent the last five years pulling back the bandaid on those things. Slowlyunevenlytotally inconsistently. And you’ve been here with me, listening, talking back, sharing your life. Thank you.

I started this for me, a means to process my own life, but over time it became about you, too, and wondering what these words and stories could be in your life. I hope that this has been a place of rest for you. I hope you encounter beauty here, I hope you sense an invitation to think deeply and breathe in grace and hope and move forward with your life with hope as your fuel, wherever you are, whatever you do, whoever you are. You and your life, your stories, your history and your dreams are welcome here.

 

As a thank you for being part of the life of this space, I’m hosting a giveaway. I’ll send one blog subscriber the book Soulkeeping by John Ortberg in the mail wherever you are in the world. This book was a life-changing read for me, and I hope it will minister to you.

How to enter the giveaway:
1. Subscribe to this blog (if you are already subscribed, you don’t need to do anything except number 2).
2. Leave a comment, tell me that you’ve subscribed and answer this question: what would you like to read on this blog? I would love to know your answer. If you’re already a subscriber, you’ll need to click over to the blog post to leave a comment.
3. The giveaway is open until Friday, November 17, 2017.

flowers

Long blogging breaks are never planned. I stop writing one week, and the days start blurring, time gets away from me and before I realize it’s been two months since I last wrote anything. Yes, there are some lines in a journal, but mostly I’ve been writing grocery lists, Facebook messages and emails.

When I went away for three days in July to write, to pray and to think (and to sleep), I was ready to give up writing on a blog or writing for public consumption. Too little time. Too much work. And I could not see or understand the why. There are so many blogs out there – outstanding ones, I should say – why another one? The world is noisy enough, full of opinions about how we live or how to live, and I shudder at the thought of contributing more to the noise in your head and mine. I haven’t doubted that I write or want to write, only doubted the means through which I do that. But I’m still here, there is the seed of writing in this space, I have a home here, one that calls me back time and time again.

So this post is a bit of a free-for-all update, just stopping in to say hello, I am here and missing this space.

I tend to go quiet in November. Two out of the last four years it’s because I was in the first trimester of a pregnancy, and the other two years were for sleep deprivation from a not-sleeping-five-month-old. I am happy to report that this November involved neither of those two things. I played with the boys, I cooked good food and put frozen pizzas in the oven on other days, I worked up a sweat on an elliptical machine, I woke up early and sometimes woke up late.

For the first time in a long time, I can say these few words: I am starting to feel like myself again.

Marriage and motherhood changes us, and when it happens so quickly, the changes swirl around, there is no time to take it in, and for a reflector like me, no time to process and understand. But I know that I didn’t laugh the same way. The spark of life and passion that had always burned somewhere inside, it was gone.

light

We head toward the darkest days of the year now. Light breaks between 8 and 8:30am, and it is dark like the night around 3:30pm with the sun setting (if it is there) around 2:30pm. Trees shed their leaves, the ground begins to freeze, there is death, death and more death. My soul flows with these seasons, last year when November and December rolled around, I wanted to hide somewhere and sleep.

But not this winter. I wish I could tell of some miracle transformation, but in reality it has been slow, steady, hard work. Counseling appointments, going to a small group to discuss and deal with habits, hurts and hangups, steady time alone, sharing my life with a few trusted people, and going to the gym.

I am now a gym person, by the way. I would say I have no idea how that happened except I do. It has free childcare. Every time I walk into this place, I want to cry and thank them because I have energy again, I haven’t noticed the weather, I am enjoying my life in Sweden. The other day a woman at the gym asked me what I thought about Swedish weather, and I said, Oh it’s been such a beautiful autumn. I think this November was so much better than last years, the way the light shined and the way the trees looked, everything has just been so beautiful and gentle. 

She looked at me like I had absolutely lost my mind. Later I found out that we’ve had our darkest November in over a 100 years here in Sweden. I haven’t noticed.

My body was longing to work hard at something again, so much energy stored up inside, it needed release, and my spirit follows suit, working hard on some new projects, creating when I can, fighting to enjoy my children, fighting to choose kindness instead of anger. I can feel myself releasing as I put my hand to these things.

candles

So Christmas is here again. We’ve put up the lights, candles flicker in our windows, we are on day 12, and so far still not losing our minds (and tempers) over Advent activities. Last week a dear friend came over with her two kids. They watched a movie twice and ate popcorn and chocolate for dinner while she and I caught up. She hung a tree branch up in our living room. I think it took her less than 20 minutes. It’s even better than I ever thought it could look.

We had a branch over a couch in our apartment in Geneva. It was one of my most favourite things, and it’s taken a long time to do it here, but there it hangs, more beautiful, rugged and raw than the last one. Rigged from the ceiling by a friend who knew what she was doing, while our four children danced around the room singing Jingle Bells and Angels We Have Heard on High. It was basically a perfect evening. The relationships I longed for are here.

It’s been four years of conception and birth, fruitfulness that seemed effortless to my body, yet the same body held a barren soul, a space that increasingly became a wasteland of ideas and longing. But the season changes. I suppose it always does. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in a land of deep darkness, a light has shined. In Jesus was life, and that life was the light of all men. 

Merry Christmas, my friends. I so appreciate those of you who have read this blog over the years. This will be my last post for 2014. I’m going to be doing some thinking and hopefully writing between now and the new year, there will be a bit of travel, too. You can follow along on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I’ll be back in 2015 but until then, I hope your Christmas season is full of the light of Jesus – may he hold all of your things and all of your life together in his tender hands.