My summer, especially the second half of it, has been insane. And as I sit down at my computer to write out this week’s blog post, I feel a bit low on insight and inspiration. My mind and body and spirit are all longing for the vacation coming up in a few weeks…but before that, I have SO MANY things that need done. Things on deadlines. Things I can’t just put off. I’ve had a few moments of stress-out and overwhelm, I’ll admit it. And some moments of profound joy amidst it all. I’ve had friends and family wow me with their love. And I’ve had some impatient folks too, ratchet it all up again.

When I sat down to write this, the temptation to stress about even this post was strong. I have to come up with something great, after all. People are expecting it! Waiting for it! It’s one of my greatest joys to invite you all to contemplate along with me.

But…this week, I offer you exactly what I have: a muddled mind, a vulnerable heart, some things I’m stressed about, and some things I’m excited about.

A bit of context: I was just diagnosed with a small, benign tumor on my pituitary gland (in the brain). This is not a diagnosis that will change my life forever or anything. It’s treatable with medication. Having read up on it, I know it’s “no big deal.” And because of that, I told myself I shouldn’t let it bother me. But…dealing with it right now is still a big deal. And I had to give myself permission to feel that. To indulge in a bout of rare tears. To just admit that, yes, it’s distracting me. I’m reading medical articles when I should be writing a book. I’m on the phone with doctors and insurance companies when I should be doing design work. And that then adds to my stress, because I now feel behind on all that work–work necessary to pay for all the medical stuff.

But here’s the truth: This moment, like every moment, is in God’s hand. I may let some people down if I can’t get projects back to them when they expect. I am sorry for that. But maybe I need to let go of the thought that I am in charge of pleasing people all the time. Maybe I need that humbling reminder.

I’m writing this on the Saturday before it will post. On Monday, my kids start the new homeschool year. Both of them are in high school this year! A senior and a freshman! I can’t believe it. And there are still SO MANY things that need done before they start, from the very practical (rearranging Rowyn’s room with a new desk and organizing all the books) to the overarching (working out their daily schedules). Every year, I say, “We’re going to have a great year.” And every year things slip. You want openness and vulnerability? I question, every year, whether I do a good enough job with my kids’ education. Would they be better off with a “regular” school? Do I not push them hard enough? Have I done them a disservice? Are they behind their peers? Then every spring when we do portfolio reviews, I hear “Wow, you do so much. You do a great job. Your kids are doing great.” Still…funny how hearing that once a year doesn’t silence the questions, isn’t it? Those questions are always, in all we do, so persistent.

Am I doing enough? Am I doing it well enough?

But here’s the truth: We all always have room for improvement, yes. We should always strive to be and do better, not falling into complacency. But if we pour our heart into what we’re doing, if we give our best, then God says “Well done, beloved.” All the things we worry about with our kids…the truth is that most of the time they’re inconsequential. The most important thing we can ever do for them is model the love of God and teach them of the love of Christ.

One week from tomorrow as of the writing and three days as of the posting of this, my family will be confirmed in the Catholic church. (I mentioned this in my 40 Things post, but if you didn’t read that, this may surprise you, LOL.) We are SO excited and joyful at this step on the path down which God has been leading our family for years. We have a few things yet to sort out before The Day in terms of logistics, but this one is pure joy. I am so looking forward to that celebration to cap my crazy summer!

Because here’s the truth: There are many churches in the world but One Church. I have always believed that and I always will. The fractures that have split believers for centuries cannot fracture God, cannot fracture Christ. Praise God, He is bigger than our human failings and divisions, and His Truth will always see us through. We will worship now in the place we know He’s called us to, but we’ll do it knowing He works everywhere.

My final muddled thought–total product placement. πŸ˜‰ When I was in Chicago for a convention a couple weeks ago, on the trade show floor I came across a group called Peace + All Good, who sell lotions, soaps, and candles. After trying the lotion (so fabulous!) I was impressed. After hearing about their mission–all their products are handmade by women who have escaped from human trafficking, giving them a fresh start–I was determined to add the products to my store. And when I realized that the book tie in was actually pretty obvious (Sally from Shadowed Loyalty!!!!!), I put in an order. They arrived this last week, and y’all…these products are amazing. I’m excited to share them with you!

I got three of each scent of each of the products I wanted to carry–bar soap, travel size lotion, and 4-oz candles–so that I can determine which scents you all like best. πŸ˜‰ I hope you’ll browse the Peace + All Good products available now in my shop, knowing that each product you buy helps a woman build a new life. And when you use these truly excellent products and smell the sweet scents, you’ll be reminded too that that’s what our prayers smell like to God.

Because here’s the truth: We serve a gracious God who will never turn away someone seeking redemption. A God of second chances. A God who delights in taking our stinking mess and turning it into a sweet-smelling thing of beauty.

Thank you, Lord. I may be a muddle right now, but you are exactly the detail-oriented, always-there, ever-loving Lord you’ve always been. I may be overwhelmed, but your hand is big enough to hold it all. I may not know how to squeeze everything into the hours of the day, but you are the holder of eternity.

And thank you, too, friends, for bearing with me when I’m a muddle. For bearing me up. Thank you for never being stingy with your encouragement, for being enthusiastic about my stories, my store, my posts. Thank you for being shining lights in my life, especially in those moments when I need each sparkle to remind me of my purpose.

Because here’s the truth: You are all beautiful reminders of what this Church is that we’re a part of, and I thank God for you.