Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I Blog: Two Years Later

As soon as she enters, it is clear that this is NOT her neighborhood.

Was it the Southern accent perhaps?
The cute striped cowl-neck maternity shirt paired with holey tennis shoes?
The lack of workout attire indicating a freshly completed hot yoga or barre session?

It was probably given away by a combination of these things, but no one seemed to notice too much.

Then as if she belonged, two seats opened up. Women wearing designer clutches and summer workout attire (during the opposite season) exited gracefully.

The fireplace, the warm hearth, the well-cushioned chair, and side tables were hers. She reserved it all with her most precious belongings: a Bible, a few books, a torn and tattered and oh-so-loved Better Life Bag.

The barista was a friendly man with a wrinkly, wind-burned face. He did not seem as old as he appeared.
He took her order with much care. It was a complicated one - even more complicated since the babe who now fluttered inside shouldn't have to tolerate the caffeine routine the busy toddler once afforded her.

She waited. She scrolled her phone. Five others waited before, so she sank into her well-cushioned chair and leaned back awhile, carefully lifting her legs sore from a pregnancy so off-balanced and bruised from the risky ice. She rested.

She knew her son was taken care of. Her husband was there, and God also. They were on her team and knew that if she was to live and love with the entirety of her being, there would be days when she'd need a well-cushioned chair to sit pretty and hear from her own God. Yes, the same One Who was there, with them, also.

Her drink was ready, with a large water to spare. She would have to pee twice during her few-hour stay, but the neighbors were friendly though more well-dressed and more accustomed to half-days away from home. They guarded her treasures letting her and her bump go on ahead.

This was her place.

I wrote my first blog post two years ago today.
It was a whim - just thought it'd be fun to record the story of John's birth.
{It was much more fun to write it than to live it. Ha!}

I never knew that it would lead me here.

Before John was born (and long before that), I was in college.
I was in college for a loooooonnnnnnngggggg time.
I majored in Middle Grades Education because

1. I love middle school kids. I know that this is the weirdest thing you've ever heard.
But it's a truly hilarious and rewarding age.
2. I have two favorite subjects, and with middle ed. in Georgia, you get to pick two subject areas of concentration. For me, it was Language Arts & Social Studies.

Because of my field of study and concentration, I spent most of my scholastic energy writing - be it lesson plans, literary analyses, or eighth grade journal topics/entries. I enjoyed it so! Every assignment afforded me a chance to be creative, to sharpen my skills, and to drink the heck out of some coffee. {Shout out to my favorite coffee shop ever, Monkey Love in Pooler, GA [now closed - what I'd give for one more taste!] and the best writing teacher at AASU, Dr. Nancy Remler.}

The lack of coffee shop time has actually been one of the harder adjustments to motherhood. {Josh and I have already begun conversations about how to create a coffee shop vibe in a corner of our next home.}

I spent hours upon hours inside the Starbucks at Montgomery Cross. Just sitting with a paper. Letting ideas simmer. Arguing what I didn't believe. Speaking in an unfamiliar voice about unfamiliar things. Polishing. Talking to myself. Eking a lesson plan out of nothing. [It is worth saying that I spent equal time perched on my bed or upon Monkey Love's purple couch reading great works of literature, new and old. Writing of importance does not exist in a vacuum. We must read important to write important.]

Oh, how I miss it! Even the deadlines and the up-all-night. {Do NOT hear me saying I want to go back to traditional school. That is the furthest from the truth. I am in school right now of a much purer kind - learning my family and my place.} Mostly I miss the comfortable coffee house that felt like home. I'd spend the day there - eavesdropping - getting to know my neighbors. Mostly I miss the writing.

This space has been there for me when I felt alone and unheard. When I felt like I'd never write anything important again.

On those unimportant days, I would open my computer and tell it about my son or my God or just about how life is hard. Maybe I'd proofread; maybe I'd hit publish; maybe I'd care who read it. But I would write, and it felt good.

So I continue.

Knowing that the days are evil and that every second of my time is valuable to my God (especially to the lives of one little and one tiny person), I asked for His vision for my blog.

He responded with two familiar words (even more familiar paired together):

Coffee House.

Together the LORD and I hashed out a few guiding principles for my blog.

1. It's important to God and me that this space is not about me. Yes, I will write about myself and tell my own story. But no, I'd rather it be a safe place for you, my readers. I hope that you'll imagine yourself entering a coffee house as you read these words. Imagine embarking upon an hour-long conversation with a friend, old or new. Feel free to comment. Feel free to email me. Feel free to engage me on social media. If I hit publish on a post, it means that it is for you. I blog because I long to be an encouragement, that my life would count in the lives of others.

2. God gives each of us gifts to share. Some people are extremely organized and help others successfully get in and out the weather. (I need you.) Some people are great cooks who fatten us up and share the recipes. I am simply vulnerable with my life and heart. Ashley Beam is an open book and always has been. I am mostly unafraid to share my struggles, my tender spots, my strengths, my story. Vulnerable is the way God made me. Vulnerable is the way God wants me to write. I write with Matthew 5:3 in mind. I'd sip coffee with you the same.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

3. Inasmuch as this space is about others, I am still the one who puts in the effort to write. God made it clear to me that it is to be a place of rest and refreshment. Writing for me is not be burdensome. Writing for me is therapy. I hope that the reading is therapeutic for you. After all, there is healing to be found; we must only touch His garment.

4. This blog follows my thoughts and my own life journey. There are many things that I do not do well. There is one thing that I endeavor to do with all the energy and excellence He supplies. I am Mama. I will always write about being Mama. I will write about cloth diapering and the funny sayings of John. More than that, though, I am after the hearts of my children. I recognize that these little hearts are eternal, and I will answer for the way that I tended each of them during these young years. I hope to be an encouragement and a teammate to fellow Mamas. I hope to live what I write.

"Help us not to get so caught up in mundane parenting issues that we forget to focus our children's hearts on your kingdom."
(Prayer written by Sally Clarkson in The Ministry of Motherhood, pp. 76-77)

5. Jesus. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). May He be evidenced in everything I say.

I invite you to come on in to this little coffee house, take a long, sweet sip and open your hearts to whatever God has in store. Here's to two more years of close fellowship!

1 comment:

  1. I so enjoyed reading this. Made me think of my own sweet Mama singing hymns as she went about the house performing the tasks of day to day living.
    Looking forward to (at least!) another two years!!