*tap tap* Is this thing on?

BEYOND_BlogLogoHi. It’s me. I’m still here. I just haven’t figured out yet how to manage my job, my family, and our home and also write on this blog. My once-a-month post for Deeper Story seems to be all I can do. All of my creative energy gets poured into the blog I launched last week for Feed The Children, the posts I write for their social media channels, and the cease-fires I negotiate between children every minute they are home.

I drove past the exit of some former friends the other day, and the memory of times we spent with them reminded me of how different life is today. It’s a good thought. These friends turned out to be manipulative and false. As soon as they found out we weren’t in total agreement with them and we would not be won over by argument or by force, they cut us off.

I haven’t completely shaken my distrust of people in the church (just ask my husband, who has to listen to me voice my fears on the regular). I don’t think that will recede for awhile, given the way we are avoided by the folks at our old church (we’ve run into several different families in the last month, and Every Single One carefully and noticeably avoided us).

But these days, I walk away from those random encounters shaking my head at how sad it is, instead of being intimidated and doubtful about my choices. I don’t have to fight those battles week in and week out anymore. We are in a new chapter, and it is such a relief.

All three of our children are in school, and with that comes a new type of parenting. It’s less physically intensive (praise be for more independent children who can help themselves), but it’s challenging in new ways. I am thoroughly enjoying having children who can think critically and ask insightful questions and make us laugh with pure joy at their wit.

We have a small group of people in our new church with whom we are feeling more and more safe as the months go by.

It isn’t all perfect, though. Because of my trust issues, I keep much more of myself closed off and hidden. But hiding is lonely. I don’t notice it when I’m busy, but when life slows down enough, it hits me hard. I know that pouring everything out online isn’t necessarily the remedy to that loneliness, and it is a ticket to controversy and conflict, two things I’m weary of.

This new chapter brings with it a very different public role for me. I’m now one of the public faces of an international non-profit whose mission, vision, and strategy I believe in with all my heart. I’m aware that my conduct and my words, for better or for worse, reflects on that non-profit and the people there, who I respect and admire. I’m also more aware of my children’s desire for privacy and control over their stories.

Something my husband told me over and over has finally sunk in – I can be real and honest and unmasked while also maintaining some privacy. It is not deceptive to share my deepest darkest fears and sins with just a few trusted friends, and not with the entire internet. It’s ok to save some stories to tell over coffee or while soaking up the sun on a dock; in fact, it it’s better that way. Virtual Kleenex doesn’t soak up teary snot very well, and virtual hugs are missing that essential element of human contact.

So I’ll be around now and then, but not as often as I used to be (in case you haven’t noticed). If you want to see what I’m doing, check out Feed The Children’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and BEYOND, our new blog. See you over there!