Permission to Dream

A change is in the air. On my front door hangs the big letter M that my boys painted and glittered last year, the yellow flowers in my entryway have been replaced by a bouquet of sticks collected from our yard, and a pumpkin spice candle flickers in my bathroom.

Fall has arrived.

I am busy packing away the sandals and shorts and swimsuits, hanging up sweaters and hoodies and still searching for that perfect fall shoe to replace my beloved Gizeh sandals I have worn all summer.

A gentle breeze blows outside my window rustling the leaves on the big tree in our front yard, and the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit stirs my soul and whispers, “Awake.”

One of the things I have learned about this journey of life is that the seasons will surely change as I travel onward. Some seasons are easy, others are difficult, a few are brief, and then there are the ones that stretch on like an endless winter. But when I begin to feel those initial winds of change, I believe it is important to first pause and reflect on the season that is ending, to recall the blessings and to find redemption in the difficult, and above all, to show myself grace.

As I return to this blog and online community, I must first pause and reflect on this time I have been away.

Tulips

This past year has been a season of mothering an infant and all of the sweetness and sacrifices that come with that. I have to show myself heaps of grace as I reflect on this time and wonder why it always takes me so long to bounce back after having a baby. If I allow myself to fall into the comparison trap, I can easily look at other moms who seem to be able to handle so much more than me – those who can mother an infant, homeschool older children, and also have a thriving ministry, business, or blog. If I’m not careful, I begin to judge myself for not being able to do more, or even worse, judge them for appearing to do too much.

I am slowly learning that motherhood is not one-size-fits-all, and that doing more or doing less does not make one better than the other.

For most of my time as a mom, I have thought that doing less outside of the home would make me a better mother. Not better than someone else, but better for my children. After a few years of mothering while working part-time and trying to blog and starting an online shop in addition to our already busy ministry schedule, I wanted to scale back a bit. So about a year or two ago, I started saying no. I slowly began to say no to the noise of the internet, no to the church, no to the pressures to do more and be more than simply a wife, mother, and homemaker. It was a season where I lost myself in the art of caring for my home and my family and really found the ways that work best for me in doing so.

In struggling to find balance, I also said no to myself in many ways as us mothers tend to do. No to time alone, no to self-care, no to personal growth, no to thinking. (It can be so very hard to think when you have three little voices always filling the silence.)

I put down my phone, shut my computer, and lived like babies don’t keep. And overall it was good and it was necessary…for a season.

And then recently, I began to feel a bit restless. It may be that Kate is gaining her independence and not needing me around the clock. It may be that things are running more smoothly in our home and our family, and now I have more time and energy to give to other things.

You see, I’m a dreamer. A visionary. A creative soul. I scribble ideas in journals and have computer files filled with words and plans, but that is where most of my dreams end up staying.

Looking back, some of my dreams seemed silly and it is probably a good thing they never made it off paper. But there are other dreams, some that are ways I want to grow in my intellect and creativity, and others that are seeds the Lord planted deep in the soil of my heart at various times in my life. Seeds that have been lying dormant for a season, like tulip bulbs in the dead of winter. And this restlessness I feel, it’s more than me going a little stir-crazy from being home all the time. It is a feeling of re-awakening to those dreams and to the things the Lord has called me to do and the whole person he has called me to be, not just the mother and homemaker.

But I struggle to say yes because I feel guilty. Guilty for not finding 100% complete fulfillment in my dream of motherhood.  Guilty for wanting to take time to do things for myself. Guilty at the thought of spending any amount of time working on something outside the realm of my home and my family when that time could be spent with my children and doing more to improve my homemaking and our homeschooling. I mean, have you been on Pinterest lately?

This is where I always get stuck.

Stuck listening to this voice that tells me that I don’t have time to dream or that dreaming is selfish or can only happen when my children are older. I wrestled with these feelings before I entered my season of no, and I thought that perhaps by stepping back from everything for a while, away from women who were doing things that I want to do and feel called to do, that perhaps those feelings would go away. But I have found that they have remained, and now the Lord is stirring those dreams once again. Holley Gerth says that “If you have yielded to God and you have this nagging desire within you that just won’t go away, then most likely it’s from him.” And I tend to agree.

So as I enter into this new season, I am going to give myself permission to dream and to grow and I am going to tentatively and very prayerfully begin to say yes to a few things.

Yes to self-care, yes to time alone, yes to reading and creating and thinking. Yes to taking that calligraphy class. Yes to learning Photoshop. Yes to writing. Yes to starting that Bible study. Yes to hosting a local IF:Gathering in February 2015.

And instead of feeling guilty for setting aside time to pursue my dreams and my callings, I am going to look at it as a GOOD thing for my family to see me learning and growing and being creative and faithful to all that the Lord has called me to do. After all, isn’t that what I want for them in their own lives, and what better way to teach my children this way of living to than to model it for them.

So welcome to my season of yes.

What kind of season do you find yourself in right now? Do you struggle to find balance in saying yes to your family and to yourself? How can I pray for you in this area of your life?

Always,

Amanda

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Comments

  1. This was such a beautiful post! So good to read your voice again.

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      Thank you Kat! And it was so good to see your name pop up as my first comment. It brought a smile to my face and a sigh of relief as I read your words of encouragement. It is always a little scary to hit publish on a post where you really feel like you put your heart out there, so your comment meant so much to me. I look forward to reconnecting!

  2. LOVE this post!!! Being in the middle of the “baby” season right now, I sometimes have to remind myself that I will have time for myself again somewhere down the road. I always love reading your posts because they sound like the thoughts that swirl around in my head. It’s so encouraging to know that we are not alone!!

    Hope you are well! And totally wish I lived in the Atlanta area. 😉

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      I wished you lived close too! Maybe someday we will meet at a conference so something, and until then, I am thankful for our friendship here. I am glad that I was able to put words to “our” thoughts as we figure out how to balance all of our dreams and callings. 🙂

  3. Your heart is so full of beautiful things. I look forward to following the journey of your yeses. Looking back on my little Kate and the full year it took me to feel functionable to the outside world again, I am overwhelmed at remembering the stirring in my own heart and know that God is dreaming wild and crazy dreams there in yours. You are a huge blessing, friend!

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      Jennifer, I esteem you so highly as a godly mother who has her priorities in order, so your encouragement means the world to me. Thank you friend!

  4. Love your beautiful words and insight here friend. I can relate as a different, yet busy season, we’ve been in is shifting into a new one and I’m finally finding some peace and resolve and also really hearing those nudgings I’ve felt that were on my heart for so long. Some seeds planted when I was a teen, watered during my time at Lee, pruned when living on my own and even more so after being married. I’m right there with you in this balance of saying no and saying yes and tend to always want to know the path for me. Thanks for sharing your heart–you provide much insight and wisdom to your readers as evidenced by the comments above.

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      Faith, It is so amazing when God speaks to the seeds He planted so very long ago. I am excited for you as you enter into your new season and I look forward to seeing what the Father has in store. Love you!

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