Sunday, March 30, 2014

Time Away

Tears streamed down my cheeks and my heart ached with the beauty. Sitting in Pierce Chapel, I basked in music washing over me, as ensembles of the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra rehearsed for their upcoming concert. Brass ensemble, strings ensemble, woodwinds too, playing music by Sibelius, Stamitz, Warlock, and more. It had been so long since I'd heard musicians of that caliber. Their high quality took my breath away. It had also been ages since I'd sat quietly listening to music of that intricacy and beauty. The movement, the dynamics, the dissonance, the progressions ... all of it brought solace to my soul.

How can I describe what my week away meant to me? I cried more tears than I thought were in me. I walked for hours, talked for hours, and ate delicious food prepared for me by friends who love me. For eight wonderful days I didn't have to think about how to feed my family, or listen to my obnoxiously noisy boys. I was able to visit with eleven dear friends, bearing my soul to them and receiving their encouragement and hugs. It had been a long time since I'd spent time like that with close friends, and in fact it was the first time in years to be with those friends *without* my kids in tow. 

A few weeks earlier, a local friend in D.C. had heard my cries for help, as I felt mired in crisis, and recommended that I get away by myself. She had offered to help watch my children for me and given me a deadline to take the trip. Thankfully my husband agreed it was a good plan, and a second friend as well as my in-laws stepped in to fill in any missing gaps when my kids needed care. I was able to leave my three in good hands and trust that all was fine with them. They even got school work done!!

My time in Illinois gave me the quiet and rest I needed for prayer and contemplation. It also gave me time outside to refresh my body and blessings like the symphony orchestra to refresh my spirit. Conversations with friends gave me new perspective and validated my struggles. I didn't come back with any bursting epiphanies, but I did come back more calm, peace-filled, and ready to face my next stage in life. My eight days away were a blessing in more ways than I can count, and I thank the Lord for giving them to me.

Thanks to for the photo of a spot where I walked during my trip.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Free (or Almost Free) Fun in Washington, D.C.: Ice-Skating!

Every Tuesday, from 2:20-3:20, ice-skating costs only $1 at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston Common Mall. Since parking in the garage also only costs $1, we pay exactly $5 for the four of us to go skating once a week! This opportunity to skate regularly has been really beneficial for the children. Before January, they had skated only once before, and that had been over three years ago!

Josiah seemed to have a natural sense of balance. Even on his first day of skating, he let go of the side wall, and has steadily gained confidence ever since. The other two kids have had more difficulty, and at times I've even wondered if I should stop taking them. There have been tears shed and frustrated words flung. "I don't WANT to go ice-skating!" has been heard more than once.

When it comes to a new Tuesday, though, the consensus is always that we should try again. And it's paying off. After going 4 or 5 times, Naomi and Ethan were finally able to leave the wall, and now are trying to improve technique. It's still a big effort (not quite *fun* yet) but I'm so proud of their perseverance and determination. My hope is that one of these days, we'll all be going at a decent speed, with smiles on our faces, and no spills!