Hello and welcome.
Some of you are new here, recently subscribed during the 31 Days of Being a Bridge-Builder in October. And maybe you’re leaning into to hear what I say around here – but, well, I haven’t been saying much since October 31.
So, I thought I’d pull up a chair and write an update for the new friends in this circle as well as the familiar faces.
Life as a mom of 5
Fall brought on a new school season for our kids. I now send Dikaia, Baby #5, out the door with a Tinkerbell backpack each morning to climb up into that yellow school bus. Those bus steps are too big for her legs but just right for her heart, bursting with confidence and independence. She joins Maggie in the elementary school and marks the final Dahlhauser kid to head to kindergarten (although Jay tries to convince otherwise; he’s crazy like that – and an amazing dad.)
And, we have three middle schoolers. Yes, you read that right. I probably don’t need to elaborate but suffice it to say, we are always learning from our mistakes in parenting. And, it’s fun seeing these kids grow up and into themselves. While there are challenges and mind games and enough sass to go around, I love this stage and much prefer it over babies and diapers. If only Jay and I could figure out how to be cool enough for their liking, we’d be all set.
Last year around this time, our oldest saved her money and purchased a new Golden Retriever puppy, Hazelnut. This year, our second child decided to repeat the process but with significantly less finances saved or research hours of how to care for a puppy. Between kids and dogs, I may never sleep through the night again. Yet, I adore these dogs and the love they bring our family. And, on particularly trying days of motherhood, at least I can say I’m a good dog owner and my dogs love me. Plus, they don’t talk back. They’re happy with food – the same food – and from a bag. They can be put into crates with little to no guilt. They greet me every single time with crazy joyfulness and tail-wagging. They can not roll their eyes. I’ll stop now.
I teach English at a local community college to speakers of other languages (TESOL) two days a week. The focus of the class is academic writing, and I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to share my deep, deep love of things like conjunctions and semicolon usage; after all, grammar and punctuation and a well-organized essay make everything seem right in the world. Plus, I have brave and smart students from around the world who teach me new things and keep me laughing.
The Bridge ministry has moved from infancy to some awkward teenager-like years to a current season of – dare I write this – ease. I’ve never associated the term “ease” with founding a ministry. But, this season is working. God’s brought in His people, they are following Him, standing together, loving Jesus and others, and it’s beautiful. We’ve pushed and trudged and careened through much muck (that’s a pleasant word), and it doesn’t matter anymore. God’s determined to carry out this work of His through baggage-bent souls though we are. Thankfully. As The Bridge has grown, though, Jay and I are seeing the need to redefine our roles as founders and leaders. We’re praying about that and looking forward to working more according to our giftings.
You should know this about me: I sat in the cardiologist’s office a couple months ago. My heart felt like it couldn’t find its rhythm, couldn’t stick with the program and tick like it used to. I had felt the palpitations for awhile but I couldn’t ignore them during the summer and finally talked to my doctor. The heart monitor showed a few episodes but the truth of it all is stress. My heart’s healthy; my lifestyle is not apparently. And this not a new issue for me. That was the third August I’d ended up in a specialist’s office after a full summer of Bridge programs and neighborhood center-living and kids home. In other words, maybe don’t ask me to come speak to your group on managing stress in ministry. Or peace-filled mothering. Or not burning out. But, I’m pretty well-schooled on compassion fatigue and a little of what Jesus meant when He said to “count the cost” as well as that snippet about “apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5). This battle of finding balance in life and ministry and how to live out my calling before God is a life-long journey for me; I have not arrived, but I have learned a number of things that don’t work, I’m growing in it, and I feel more at peace today than ever. Praise God. And, my heart’s happy now too.
Here on the blog, I’m planning posts for 3 days/week for this fall and winter season – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I tend to post in the evenings. The theme here continues to be missional living, faith, and this concept of making the Gospel tangible through “embracing the everyday divine.” Mondays will be an article on this theme, devotional in nature. Wednesdays will feature any new pieces I’ve had published around the web. Fridays will be either book reviews or recaps of good resources related to the above topics.
I continue to write regularly for iBelieve.com, Internet Cafe Devotions, and recently Truli.com. I have an article appearing on DaySpring.com over Christmas, which is exciting, and a few other pieces accepted for publication at various sites. I’ll post them here on Wednesdays as they are published.
And, I’m working on some longer projects. Over a year ago, a literary agent contacted me about working on a book. This should’ve been amazing news for me, but it threw me into a year of fears and doubts (oh, and heart palpitations) about my calling and the value of writing. I don’t have answers yet, but I’m willing to take the steps God puts before me. And, I’d appreciate your prayers for me in this area.
Thanks for being part of this community! Stay in touch. If you haven’t already, join us on Facebook. And, always, feel free to send me an email or get in touch online. I love hearing from you and discussing how God’s at work in your lives.
*All photos were taken by Kristine Brandenberger @ A Colorful Reality.