Taking a Hammer to a Damn

I wrote this a few weeks ago and never posted it. I wasn’t sure I would post it at all since it feels only half fleshed out, but I decided to share it today. Because half fleshed out thoughts are all I have right now, and because I’ve been thinking about the value of showing up even when incomplete and unfinished, even when raw and tender, even when you don’t know the outcome and can’t control the process. So, here are some thoughts I had recently, a small offering for now. 

I haven’t been writing lately. Not blogs. Not poems. Not stories. Not emails. Not even really long IG posts.  And it isn’t because the words haven’t come, it’s not entirely because the well is dry. It’s something else. Something rooted in my gut, wrapped in the pounding of my heart. It’s in the tightness of my breath and the clenched feeling in my chest. It’s a pressure. Anxious pressure. Grinding away and holding my words back… like a damn. 

And I can’t decide if the way out is to wait quietly still until the pressure builds enough to break out on its own or if I have to pick up a hammer and start pounding. Maybe I need to just walk away and maybe I need to fight. I don’t know. How long is too long to keep spinning your wheels never getting anywhere? How long is too long to write in the dark? How long is too long to put forth effort without reward, to write out lessons you always have to relearn, to put your heart on your sleeve for no one? 

I don’t know. 

I know there’s always been ebbs and flows. Seasons the words spring fresh from the well and rain down heavy on my hand, and seasons when I am dry and my words crack. I’ve learned to trust the process, strike when the iron is hot and wait when it’s not. Maybe this is just another ebb, when I can rest, wait, and soak up inspiration. 

But maybe not. 

It feels different. It’s not the muse that is silent it’s my hand that is still. 

And I’m thinking it’s not time to wait, it’s time to act. But how? What damage can a hammer do to a damn? How to still my anxious heart and steady my shaking hand? I don’t know. 

I don’t know.

Beautiful words really. Acknowledging the unknown. I don’t say them with complacent humor, throwing up my hands in surrender. No. I bow my head. 

I don’t know. 

This thing called writing, called art, called breathing, it has me confused and uncertain. I don’t know how it’s meant to be done. I don’t know how I am meant to do it. 

But I know I must. 

So I take my small hammer and I lift it high against the uncertainty, against the anxiety, against the comparison, against the fear. And I start to type. 

One word. Than another. Than another. Until water begins to trickle out a crack and run softly down the side of the damn. 

Grace and peace,
Bethany

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

New Blog Design

Welcome to the newly redesigned bethstedman.com.

So, what do you think?

I had fun with this redesign. It seemed fitting that a new season of our lives, a new locale, and a new year would bring forth a new blog design. It feels so good to have it done and be able to share it with you all.

Whenever I redesign the look of this space it always gets me thinking about why I blog and what I want this space to be. It’s always been hard for me to answer those questions. There are so many reasons why I blog and at different times in life there have been different reasons. And there are so many different things that this space has been for me and that I want it to be in the future. I find it hard to describe those reasons, hard to put into words what bethstedman.com has been, is, and will be for me.

Sometimes when someone asks, I feel a little bit like I’m trying to explain the rules of grammar to a non-native English speaker – “I don’t really know why, but it just sounds right this way”. That’s a bit how I feel about blogging right now. I can’t really explain why, but it is just right. It fits. It’s part of me.

At various times I’ve tried to make this space something that didn’t fit. For example, I would feel guilty about the time I spent blogging and so I would try to make money from the blog, but it didn’t fit (and as you can see the ads are gone). I’m sloooooowly starting to realize something – you shouldn’t feel guilty for what you are. You shouldn’t feel bad for doing something that you have to do, something engrained into the fabric of who you are, something that brings you joy, something that you almost can’t help but do. Dancers don’t feel bad for dancing. Cooks don’t feel bad for cooking. Runners don’t feel bad for running. Mommy’s don’t feel bad for cuddling with their baby.

Me? Well, I write. I have to write. I always have in one form or another. I started my first journal at seven. In junior high i started writing poetry. In high school I would write sermons for fun. I enjoyed writing papers for school and must admit I even wrote one or two of my husbands school papers for him because it was fun and easy for me and tedious for him. But, I don’t just write, I blog. I had always written, but it wasn’t until I started blogging that something really clicked. It stirred something in me. It fit. Suddenly I could do more than just write, I could put something out into the world that others could read, and connect with, and respond to. I was a writer always, but I didn’t really have a voice until I found a platform.

Those of you who have only just stumbled upon this blog, those of you who have been reading my meanderings for years, those of you who have silently stalked, and those of you who have become friends, you have given me my voice. Thank you!

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

My Nine Year Anniversary of Blogging

I recently realized that today is my nine year anniversary of blogging. That’s right I’ve been blogging relatively consistently in one place or another for nine years. It was sort of shocking for me to realize that it’s been that long since I first started publicly sharing my thoughts, ideas and experiences.

My first blogging experience was on xanga. The year was 2002. I had recently moved back home after a year at Vanguard University in California. My friend and roommate from Vanguard, Kerry, talked me into starting it as a way to stay in touch with her and other friends from Vanguard since they were all using xanga. I remember being sort of skeptical about it, thinking I wouldn’t know what to write and why would anyone want to read what I’d share. But Kerry convinced me and I decided to give it a try. The first few entries I was so unsure what to write I just shared quotes I liked at the time. This is the first one I shared,
“Becoming a Person means that the individual moves toward being, knowingly and acceptingly, the process which he inwardly and actually is. He moves away from being what he is not, from being a facade. He is not trying to be more than he is, with the attendant feelings of insecurity or bombastic defensiveness. He is not trying to be less than he is, with the attendant feelings of guilt or self-depreciation. He is increasingly listening to the deepest recesses of his psychological and emotional being, and finds himself increasingly willing to be, with greater accuracy and depth, that self which he most truly is.” – Carl Rogers
Little did I know at the time the role that blogging would play in my own Becoming.

After those first few posts of quotes I tried sharing more about what I was doing and experiences I was having, but I knew relatively quickly that wasn’t for me. Although I would continue to occasionally share those types of daily details they would never be the central focus of my blogging experience.

It was so interesting to skim back through those early posts and watch as I struggled to find my blogging voice. What was it that I wanted to document and share? I experimented… I shared quotes, I shared details of my day, I shared questions I was asking, I shared poems I was writing, I shared my meandering wonderings. I blogged my questions, my doubts, my realizations and epiphanies. The writing is mostly stream of consciousness with little to no editing or formatting. But, slowly little by little that blog helped me to find my voice and my love for blogging.

Discovering blogging was like discovering a whole new way of processing for me. I’d always loved writing and always kept journals, but for some reason hand written journals were always rather uninspiring for me. I was never able to find my voice through them.

I often process the question, “why do I blog?” and I’ve written a little about some of that processing before, but I think I’m starting to figure out little by little the reasons I blog and why I fell in love with it nine years ago and have stuck with it till today.

I blog partly as a way to process through things I’m thinking about, but if that was the only reason to blog then a private journal would meet that need perfectly, and for me journals never came close. For me blogging is only partly about processing, it’s more largely about putting out into the world something that I myself would like to find and read. I write about my own personal processes, struggles, experiences, and hopes, but I write it not just for myself, I write it in the hope that someone else who’s going through the same thing, whose had the same thoughts, whose made the same desperate pleas or celebrated the same victories will find it, breath a sigh of relief and say “I’m not the only one.”

Sometimes as I learn about something new I write to solidify my learning and teach it to others. Sometimes as I wrestle with a question I write to process my question and get advice and input from others. Sometimes as I have a new realization about myself I write to know myself better and so that others can know me better too. Sometimes I write for myself, sometimes I write for the self I was, and the self I will be. Sometimes I write for others, for those who are where I was, who are where I am or will be where I am going.

I write partly for the joy of writing but the joy of writing was never enough to keep me writing consistently. I think I like blogging for much the same reason that I enjoy public speaking. It not only enables me to process and develop myself it also gives me a platform for sharing my voice with the world (even if it’s only ever a small portion of the world). Blogging feeds the side of me that wanted to be a writer, the side of me that wanted to be a poet, the side of me that wanted to be an actress, and the side of me that wanted to be a pastor. Through blogging I can be a little bit of all those things and also nothing more than a struggling mommy. I can be me and something more than me as well.

I can’t imagine my life without blogging as a creative outlet and I will always owe Kerry a great doubt for introducing me to the world of the blogosphere. Thank you, friend!

Happy nine year anniversary to me! I feel very curious where the next nine years of blogging will take me. I wonder where I’ll be and who I’ll be then.

I’ll close with another quote that I shared on those early blogs:
“The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'”

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

A Random General Life Update

Well, it’s September and Love and Marriage month here on my blog is officially over – not that I won’t write about these things anymore, but the official themed month is done. This was the first time I’ve done a theme for a month and honestly it was hard for me. There were a lot of things I planned on writing about that I never got around to and there were plenty of times that I wanted to write about other things that didn’t fit with the theme.  I’m kind of glad that it’s done now and I again have freedom to write about WHATEVER.

So, today is dedicated to a little “whatever”. This is my random processing about a whole lot of things…

HEALTH

Yesterday I realized that the baby and I have been sick in one form or another (from Roseola, to food poisoning, to viruses, to bad head colds) all but about 6 days this month (and those days were pretty spread out). Literally it has been one thing after another. Usually this is a pretty good sign to me that I haven’t been listening to my body and that there are some emotional/spiritual issues I also haven’t been dealing with. Guess I should start listening…

RETURNING TO PRAGUE

We have now been back in Prague for 2 weeks – most of that time we’ve been sick. Not exactly the best way to return to a foreign country or ease our way through the culture shock. Thankfully we are finally starting to get back on Prague time and get Thaddeus to take naps and go to bed at almost normal hours… almost being the key word there. This has by far been the hardest it has ever been for me to come back to Prague. I miss the states. I miss English. I miss my family. I miss Bryan’s family. I miss all the conveniences of being in a familiar place.

FRIENDS

I’ve missed our friends here. They are what make coming back worth it. But, because we’ve been sick we haven’t seen very many people yet. Those we have seen have been so sweet though. One friend even made us a big batch of soup, which was WONDERFUL. What a blessing to not have to cook our first few days back. Then last Thursday we went over to dinner at some of our closest friends and it was just so nice to be with them and just relax with them. We need friends on this journey and I’m glad that I have the one’s I do.

MOTHERING

Lately I have sort of really hated being a mom. I mean most days this week I just feel like I’m not cut out for this. I can’t do it. It’s too much. It’s too overwhelming. It’s too constant. It’s the worst on days when Thad doesn’t sleep (which is often lately). I feel like I can’t even sit down and have a glass of water without being pulled on or screamed at. Bryan has been a lifesaver and so sweet through it all. He’s taken Thad for a little bit each day so that I can rest and get better. But, he can only do so much – he has to work too. Even with all Bryan’s help there have been multiple moments lately where I have SERIOUSLY wished that I never had a child. I know – I’m a terrible mom for even thinking these things. Like I said, I wasn’t cut out for this. I am not a natural born mama. It’s just not me.

ANIMALS

This is random, but I’ve realized more and more something else that just isn’t “me” – owning pets. I am just not an animal person. I mean I wish I was. I admire people who are. But, I’m not. I just don’t get the whole animal thing.

BLOGGING

I’ve been doing a lot of processing about the blog lately. I’ve been really struggling with what direction I want to take my blog and what type of place I want it to be. I’m realizing more and more than I’m actually not really “a blogger”. I mean I love blogging and have for years, I love writing and I do enjoy the people I meet through it. But, I’m not good at marketing my blog, I’m not consistent with my blogging, I don’t want to write in a specific theme or with a specific focus. I don’t want to spend hours upon hours a day working on my blog to make it into a business. I am realizing that I am not that kind of blogger. But, I also know that I’m not really just a personal blogger who just writes about her kids and she did that day. So, where does that put me? I’m not really sure. I guess I’m still trying to figure it out.

TWO FOR TUESDAYS BLOG HOP

Many of you who are regulars here may have noticed that I haven’t participated in/hosted Two for Tuesdays the past two weeks. I’ve been meaning to give an update on that and just keep forgetting – sorry. So, basically after much discussion and thought I’ve decided that the requirements for hosting are just too much of a commitment for me at this time. I just didn’t feel like I could do the event justice. In general I’ve been trying to weed through what aspects of blogging are really important and necessary for me and which aren’t – I have felt a little bit like blogging has started to interfere with my mothering and I don’t want that to happen. So, Two for Tuesdays was the thing that contributed most to my stress level and thus it was the thing to go. I do still love what the group is doing with it though and really like the other hosts who are involved. I do still plan on participating as a contributor whenever possible and I hope that you all will too. If you want to continue participating visit any of the hosts sites, for example, Alex at A Moderate Life.

FUTURE

I’ve felt very confused lately about the future. It looks so unclear. For so long even though the future was unclear it didn’t really bother me, I felt like I at least knew that I was where God wanted me and we would figure out the next step as it came at us. But, lately I want a plan, I want some stability. I am not 100% sure that we are where God wants us. I don’t know where He wants us to be. I feel less convinced than ever of my ability to discern that and more confused about where we should be and what we should be doing.

MARRIAGE

If you haven’t guessed from all that I’ve written already, Love and Marriage Month wasn’t exactly love and marriage month for us in real life. It was a difficult season, not an easy celebratory one. We loved each other well, and we aren’t fighting or anything, but it just feels like there’s a lot that’s been thrown at us both internally and externally lately. We’ve held hands and faced it all together, but it hasn’t left much time for turning towards each other. That’s been sad for me.

Well, that’s my random update for now. So, how are you all doing??

Rejoicing in the journey-
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Versatile Blogger Award

versatile blog award!Guess what? Today I found out that Christy from the wonderful blog Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy gave me my very first blog award. Yay! Seriously, I was so excited. It was the first thing I told my husband when he walked into the room. Christy graciously nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks, Christy!! I feel very honored.

So, here’s how this fun award works:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass this award along to ten bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason!

I thought this sounded like a lot of fun. So, here are seven random things you may or may not know about me.

  1. My husband and I got married in Italy. It was in a little town about equal distances from Florence and Sienna. It was beautiful and we had tiramisu for desert instead of a traditional wedding cake.
  2. I do not like cats. Maybe it’s the fact that I have a mild allergy to them. Maybe it’s the fact that the cat my sister had when we were growing up was SERIOUSLY evil. I don’t know, but I just don’t like them. Sorry if this offends those of you who do love cats – you are all entitled to your own opinion. But, my opinion is that I would be very happy if I never saw another cat again.
  3. I have a degree in history from Seattle Pacific University. I’ve never used it. I am terrible with dates and names and quickly forget all those details that make a good historian, but I love stories and all of the big picture stories in history fascinated me. Plus I love to read and write so this writing intensive major was an easy choice for me.
  4. One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Sansei in Hawaii. My parents, husband and I went there just last week and I remembered once again why I love this place. I could happily eat there almost every night.
  5. I can’t drink wine. I’ve tried all different kinds, but they all either give me a headache or a stuffy nose or both. I know it’s terribly sad. But, I console myself with a good gin and tonic, or a great Czech beer.
  6. Nine months ago, I gave birth at my parent’s house to my beautiful little boy, Thaddeus. You can read my whole birth story here.
  7. I love being barefoot and wish I could go barefoot every day. Sadly, I live in a climate that doesn’t accommodate that love.

Here are 10 great blogs that I’m nominating for this award:

  • Eats Well With Others – I only discovered Joanne’s wonderful blog about a month ago and I love it. She continually makes me laugh with her random witty banter. Her pictures make me duel and her recipes are delicious. She deserves all kinds of awards – The Versatile Blogger award and many others as well.
  • A Cook’s Library – Karen’s site has become a fast favorite. She lives in London and writes about seasonal, local, sustainable food. Her posts are thoughtful intelligent and one of them has even made me cry. I love her take on food and she continually inspires me.
  • PhD in Parenting – I found this blog maybe a month or two ago and it’s another one I’m really enjoying. The author lives in Germany and writes about attachment parenting and other social and parental issues.
  • Sorta Crunchy – I’ve been reading this blog just a little longer then the two above. The blogs mission statement is “to be a place of discussion and dialogue at the intersection of faith and a life more natural.” Megan writes thoughtfully about faith and family life and I feel I have learned so much from her beautiful site.
  • Forging Fromage – This is a project of my blogger friend, Heather at girlichef. It’s a blog dedicated to home cheesemaking adventures and a must read for all cheese lovers out there. There is a beautiful variety of cheeses represented and there’s always fun new recipes and challenges to check out.
  • How to Cook Like Your Grandmother – I love the idea of this site – cooking more like our grandmothers (or great-grandmothers) would surely improve much of our food habits and overall health. This blog is filled with lots of helpful how-to posts as well as great recipes and info about real food.
  • Real Food in the City – I can’t help but like this blog because not only does this author share my love for real food she also shares me name! I only found this blog a few weeks ago and haven’t fully dived into it yet, but what I’ve seen so far I am really loving.
  • The Coconut Mama – This is another blog that I haven’t fully explored yet and only recently discovered, but am really enjoying. Tiffany writes about real food and her cooking exploits often inspire me.
  • Code Name: Mama – This site is awesome. I’ve found such great information about natural parenting here. I really enjoy the positive attitude of the articles and the encouraging stories that she shares. I also love that she hosts a carnival about a natural parenting topic almost every month of the year.
  • Inspired to Action – Kat’s blog has all kinds of practical advice for parents and I’ve found it so inspiring and encouraging. She is particularly interested in raising children who are capable of changing the world.

Ok, that’s my list of bloggers I have recently discovered and am currently enjoying. Check them out for some great reading!

Thanks again to Christy for this fun award!

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.