Posts by Lauren Bristow

The Perfect Idol

Twice in the last few months it hit me that most of my prayers for myself could be summed up something like this: God, please make me better. Even the prayers for closeness to the Father and the efforts to read Scripture are consistently invested toward this goal: More holy, less flawed. Both times it […]

When God Disappoints

“I don’t want you to ‘weave’ me.”

Her words stung. My three year old daughter told me the best way she knows how that it disappoints her when I’m not present when she wakes. Unfortunately the logic about how I have to work to pay for our life doesn’t hold weight with her. It’s certainly not enough to knock the lingering guilt I carry. She doesn’t see the big picture. She just knows what she wants: me to be present throughout her day. Necessity could be debated in this scenario, but I know other times will come where I won’t be able to prevent my kids from being disappointed with me.

I have a friend who’s a single mom, and as much as she would love to, chronic and severe back pain preclude her from playing soccer with her son. He continues to ask, because he doesn’t understand. And he’s disappointed. Another friend is working through the hurt and disappointment of her toddler following his dad’s recent deployment. None of them chose those circumstances, but they have to walk through them. And the children were or are disappointed. Understanding the why behind the circumstance might or might not change that. That’s hard to say.

Identity

Four months ago it became clear to me that I will never become famous. This may sound odd to you, but I have been holding out hope for decades that I would end up a household name.

In third grade, my reach for the spotlight began as Alice in our third grade play of Alice in Wonderland. In middle school, I aspired to singing stardom as my two friends joined me in the talent show with our harmonious rendition of a Point of Grace song. You nineties church kids know what’s up. This was in addition to our frequent performances in front of our church body, which broadcast its Sunday morning services on the radio, so we had to be halfway there, right?

In junior high it began to morph into options. My singing dream began to dwindle as another girl from our school nailed a Whitney Houston song and moved to Nashville for a record deal. I knew having pretty good pitch and being able to hear and sing harmony was not going to be enough after hearing her wail on that song over and over. So I thought wider: could I model? I was pretty thin but didn’t really have the face or skin for that. My cheerleader legs would always rule that option out for me. Thanks, gymnastics. I was good at school, so maybe I could be a scientist. Some type of researcher for something that would win me a Nobel Prize. That was still in reach, right?  

The Beauty of Change

It’s impossible for me to make it through October without thinking about change. The trees lining my street are absolutely breathtaking in their fiery reds, their striking yellows, and the whole spectrum between. Everything points to transition, and it’s beautiful to behold. Weird as it sounds, I find myself wondering how the tree feels. The process they’re in leads to death as the leaves brown and/or eventually fall to the ground, leaving the bare branches to fend for themselves through the winter. Do they know they’re beautiful in their life cycle of death and renewal? Of change and loss? Their foliage is in high demand as home decor and the backdrop of yearly family pictures. Their change brings beauty.

Does ours? The tree isn’t offered a choice in its change. It is created to glorify the Creator and point to His “unseen” qualities (Romans 1:20). We, too, are not always offered a choice in change. Death, disease, disaster… all bring change and with it, grief, pain, and sorrow. It is not my intent to offer a trite analogy that disrespects the depth of these experiences. Instead, I mean to say that even pain brings change that has purpose and, as gently as I can say it, can accomplish good.

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The catch-breath. That’s what I call it.

The first time I remember it happening is when they placed my daughter in my arms for the first time. It was a physical pause caused by emotional intensity inside me. It literally took my breath for a nanosecond. Maybe it’s exactly what the romantics are referring to when they describe moments that take one’s breath away, but I don’t remember feeling this phenomenon before her. Now I experience it multiple times per week, sometimes just upon thinking about her. My admiration for her and all I want for her bring my emotions so close to the surface that I have a physical reaction to them. It’s usually a catch-breath.

One day not that long ago, we went to a park for her to play, and as she strode toward the chaos of other kids playing, it happened. My breath was robbed from me, and I had to pause to consider why it had happened then and there. I realized I was concerned for her, but not that she might fall or hurt herself. I was feeling protective of her heart. As a mom and an over-thinker, I had already played out hypothetical scenarios in my mind where my daughter would get upset, show her intensity, and scare people away. I let fear win. As embarrassing as it is, my very next thought was the realization that I was projecting my own insecurity onto her. How disgusting.

Teetering

Teeter – To move unsteadily (verb), wobble (noun)  Dictionary App

My son is 15 months old and currently learning to walk. In typical toddler fashion, his head and belly account for 90% of his mass, so his attempts at steps look a lot like teetering. Mostly, he looks like a stumbling drunk, but with his dimpled grin, he can pull it off. My reflex as the hovering mother is to reach out and stabilize him. Sometimes I do, but mostly I let him try. I let him fall. I let him learn. I know it’s how to help him grow. I want him to run and play and take over the the world. We have to start somewhere.

He is resilient. I think the diaper-padded bottom helps, but he often pops right back up after he falls. The fear of falling again has yet to hamper his vigor in attempting consistent strides. When he gets tired, he seems to step harder but with less balance. That can get pretty funny. But he seems to understand the end game. Walking. Then running. Then who knows?  

I can relate to the point of tears to the teetering. At any given time, one or more arenas of my life see me in that form. And unlike my son, more often than not, my instinct is not to pop back up and get right back in the game. I have never been one to feel like I’ve ‘arrived,’ but for me, parenting has wielded an even stronger hammer of humility than any season before it. When so much is at stake, it feels crippling to want to do well with all you have and still fall.

Good Father

I watched with anticipation as my father led her by the hand down the stone path until they reached the porch. He opened the door for my daughter to walk inside the playhouse he originally built for me and then restored for her to enjoy. There was a kitchenette, a table and chairs, and the […]

Refinement

Refinement. The word sounds lovely and even stately when used as the adjective refined. Even the presence of the word implies luxury. If it’s describing something you want to buy, it means you’re going to pay a higher cost. That is the defining piece to the process of refinement. It costs.

Refinement could actually be considered gruesome or harsh. When it comes to precious metals, extreme heat is required. The metals are melted down until the dross is separated, and all that’s left is pure gold or silver. For diamonds to develop, carbon has to undergo extreme pressure and heat over an extended period of time. Even for wood carvings or sculptures to take form, the artist has to remove, to cut away, to whittle and to shape the medium to uncover beauty and significance from it.

Be a Barb

How creepy is it to walk into a new church for the first time? Can we all agree that gets weird fast? So many “what if’s,” and “am I dressed right,” and planning ways to pretend your kid’s not yours if they lose their mind while you’re there. Is that just me? But what if […]

First Things First

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“Thank you! You too!” was all that I offered in response to her, “Have a nice day!” before I drove away. Apart from my coffee order, those were the only words I said the entire interaction with the barista whose shop I visit at least once per week. They’re busy and efficient, and as someone in a hurry, I respect that, but shouldn’t I know her name at least?  By now? How long could that possibly take?

She was one of at least ten people that I had a one-on-one interaction with before 10:00.  Whether seconds or hours, a shared sentence or a long story, they all had an impact on me. I can only assume I affected them in kind.

How many people do I see daily? What if each encounter were… an opportunity?