Have you noticed how our culture of late seems to be increasingly interested in things that are magical? In 2001 both the first Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies came out, and it’s like ever since then, we can’t get enough of things “magical.” Even most of the books recommended for third through fifth grade readers are full of magic. (By the way, these are mainly the types of novels I read, because I read them with my son, and that’s all I have time for… But there are some pretty amazing children’s novels out there!)

Maybe I just didn’t notice it before, but I think our cultural interest in things magical and other-worldly is definitely on the rise. Why is this? I think C. S. Lewis was onto something when he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis used stories of magic in another world to talk about spiritual truths in this world. As the body of scientific knowledge has increased, I think we as a culture still recognize that some things are unexplainable. And sometimes, it just is no fun to feel like there’s a textbook answer for everything. Science often tries to rule out things like hope and divine intervention. But somewhere in the soul, we know that hope is essential and divine intervention is real. Unexplainable and impossible things really do happen sometimes! And since we sometimes don’t like the idea of God and accountability for our actions, we invent magical stories as an outlet for the hope, dreams, and yearning for the divine that lives in our souls. Or sometimes, like Lewis and Tolkein, we write universes of magic as a way to celebrate the truly magical nature of the God we love.

My last post on this blog was rather depressing and vulnerable, and very honest about some ways I was struggling. Since that point almost two months ago, I have written a dozen or so blogs in my head that I have not had a chance to get down for anyone else to read.

The short update is, I have learned that honesty is magical. I posted, with little expectation that many people would read it, and yet people did read it, and a few even reposted it. I learned that I am not alone in the challenges I face. Knowing I could be honest, and still loved… that is also magical. Honesty and love are perhaps more magical than anything else, because these are things that draw people together. And where people live in unity, God is in our midst. And of course, I believe God has the greatest and truest magic of all.

A few things happened in the past two months since I last posted. First, as I said, I realized I was not alone, and that I was still loved in my darkness and imperfection. This truth is empowering! And as I began to see those around me who felt much the same, I began to feel brave again – not brave just for me, but brave for us! And brave enough to look at my life through a lens of hope again.

Hope says that things can be different. For me, this means research. Research for how I can make some positive changes in my life. (Sometimes I do like the textbook answer.) One thing I learned in my research is that a mild health issue I was having is sometimes related to feelings of depression. Just to know there was something wrong in my body that caused some of my emotional difficulty – and it was not that there was simply something wrong with my soul – this also brought hope. Another thing hope brings is energy. Energy to finally do something about my issue. And as I did, the depression lifted as well. Magic!

Hope and research also led me to finally find something that will allow me to do something brave. Every person’s brave looks different, but for me, it was taking a step toward finding better, consistent childcare. One of the things that has been a frustration for me since moving to Oregon is that I did not have my fabulously amazing friend who did daycare in her home. I love my kids, but I need to embrace the fact that I am the kind of mom that is better when I am not a full-time mom. For whatever reason, God has designed my soul differently, and I need to embrace that this is okay to not want to be with my kids 24/7. My own mother was a 100% stay-at-home mom for ten years, and she looks back on this as a favorite time in her life. I have many other friends who would say there is nothing they’d rather do than be a stay-at-home mom. I have had seasons as a full-time mom, but mostly I’ve had part-time work, either in an office or a work-from-home setting, or been in school part-time. I can see the lessons and other reasons in this past season of difficulty finding regular childcare, but I have sensed that it is time for a shift again. So… This fall, my two youngest kids will be the age for Pre-Kindergarten and a young preschool. I looked at many programs, but I finally found one they can attend together, 20 hours a week, in a place that fits my budget and our family values.

This is my brave: it is time to make space and time in my life for God to bring other opportunities. And though my very small income right now from ministry and writing work will pretty much all go toward childcare, there will be space for dreaming and possibility again, with less stress and feelings of limitations to pursue those things that I can’t really do with my kids. This is brave for me, one, because of the cost; two, because of the letting go of some of the time in kids’ lives; three, because I will not have excuses anymore; four, because people may criticize me and think I ought to do something else… and simply, because it is different. Different takes bravery.

There have been some other things have changed, including a new journey in learning to trust God in a different way, and I will hopefully write on that soon. For now, I wanted to say, I am okay again. And I am praying that you are okay too. I am praying that you will know what your brave is, and that you will find a circle of friends who will love you through everything, like my friends love me. Most of all, I pray you will know what God is saying and where He is leading, whatever it is you face.

As a tribute to C. S. Lewis, the power of faith in the unexplainable, and the importance of friendship, standing together through all our tough times, and being brave, here’s a little song for you. Thanks for being part of my journey. You are part of the magic in my life.