Field Notes From First Semester

“There is no try. You do, or do not.”

-Yoda, from The Empire Strikes Back

Wow, Summer is finished! Anyone else feel like it flew by in about three winks? We had a lot going on, the finish of my husband’s first semester in medical school, a visit from my aunt whom we lovingly refer to as “fairy godmother,” a visit from my in-laws all the way from Maui, the celebration of my miracle twin sons’ first birthday, a second honeymoon on St. Martin/St. Maarten, new writing opportunities with Women Who Live on Rocks and Knocked Up Abroad, as well as a new position as a regular contributor for Red Tent Living, a wonderful online community of brave women working out their faith through honest storytelling. The second semester of medical school is here, and I will begin a new part-time job as a Music Coach with the local elementary, middle, and high school special education program called EC2 Saba.

I am repeatedly asked how I manage to take care of three small children on an island with a population of less than 1,800 while my husband attends medical school. How do I thrive with no grandparents around, and limited spare time from my husband? With a WHOLE semester under my belt, and the great wisdom of Yoda backing me up, I can now tell you confidently “There is no how!” Honestly you just do. Take care of the task as it presents itself. Yes, there is some planning (and MUCHOS patience) involved, but overall, I roll with the punches of the day, ferociously attempting to turn them into victories. Or I fall into bed crying with a good book believing the next day will be better.

Either way, a pina colada never hurts.

My days are long, my days are hard, but such is the season of a woman’s life when she has young children. The needs are abundant, pressing, and constant no matter where you live. Even with the small “village” we have found offering their support to us here, it is exhausting to be constantly poured out and tested. One moment I am reveling in the utter delight my precious children are, and the next I am so burnt out on everything motherhood encompasses I am minutes away from packing up my bags and “finding myself” Elizabeth Gilbert style.

But I know this wouldn’t fix anything. The only balm for what’s broken in me is the all encompassing love and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. I am entirely dependent on His kindness and mercy. He is real. I know this because the hope and miracles I have experienced are too personal, too good, too profound to be ignored.

My work is in tilling that hope, securing myself in that love, making it so big there is no room for doubt and sadness.

So, I beautify my home because beauty feeds me. I decorate with twine, clothespins, and Command strips because my walls are hurricane proof (i.e. solid concrete). I draw and paint, and read, and write stories, and bake tasty things, watch nineties Rom-Coms, and lay in my hammock, compose songs, and sing all day like a Hollywood Musical. Singing for me is like breathing;  I would die without it. Music tethers my moments to the divine, life-flighting despair to hope. I wake up and sing as much of a song as my pre-caffeinated brain can muster. These days it’s been “10,000 Reasons.” Words are powerful and when paired with melody nothing can stand up to its force. Loneliness. Anxiety. Frustration. Fear. Music topples these barricades of the heart and mind in a way nothing else can.

This is key to the success of my heart staying alive and brave during these seasons of intensity. I look at the future and choose to smile because darkness cannot stand joy; it is MY stake in MY territory. Here is where I am. I love Saba, and I will thrive because God always makes a way.

Whether physically or metaphorically, I am discovering how to walk on water, making the daily mysteries my foothold, rather than my undoing.

My husband finished first semester with high grades, the kids are all alive, we survived two freaking category 5 hurricanes, we’ve made dear friends, and we are still in love with each other. That’s a win in my book.

May the force be with your life goals.

For Curiosity’s Sake- here’s a sample of what I’ve been listening to lately:

Kari Jobe’s “The Garden” (on repeat. over and over. so beautiful!)

Barbra Streisand’s “Greatest Hits” (“Piece of Sky” is my swan song, seriously!)

Tsh Oxenreider’s “The Simple Show” podcast

Linda Rondstadt’s “Simple Dreams”

Mindy Smith’s “One Moment More”

Bethel’s “Tides”

Best of Boyce Avenue

Kim Walker-Smith’s “Brave Surrender”

Hillsong United’s “Wonder”

Alecia Nugent’s “Hillbilly Goddess”

“Lighten Up With Melanie Dale” podcast (my dishes companion. love her humor!)