"All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.
Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.
In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods are everywhere.
Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.
Else our lives are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb.
Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place.
Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky."
“The Builders” --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“What kind of cake do you want this year?” I asked my eldest son, recalling with a sense of dread the 3-D Manhattan Skyline cake he had requested several years ago for his 5th birthday.
“Hmmm, let me think about it,” he replied, as he added another brick to the building he was constructing. For the past several weeks, he has been erecting a vast Lego city in our basement. I have watched in wonder as his sprawling city has grown, each building thoughtfully planned and constructed, his attention to detail both awe-inspiring and startling for an 8-year-old. No, a 9-year-old, I reminded myself. He is turning nine.
He has been building his entire life. A dreamer-boy like his mama, his head is filled with worlds of possibility. You can almost see it in his eyes--the vision of towers that reach into the clouds. He knows he was born to build them.
I understand him, this tousle-headed, little architect of mine. Like him, I know I was made to build worlds. I can see them all in my mind’s eye. Like the world of Home--a haven I can picture so clearly. It’s a place where people within my realm of influence are free to live and grow into who God created them to be. A place where creativity, faith, and dreams are nurtured. A place of acceptance and love.
That Home is a physical place too. A place of beauty, filled with light and art and music. There is a table, with good food and plenty of chairs. There are comfy sofas, with pillows and blankets for snuggling. The walls are filled with bookshelves and the air is filled with conversation, born out of relationships and ideas. (And, apparently, there is a Lego city in the basement.) I’ve seen this particular world in my mind since I was 11 years old, and over the past twenty years I have labored to build it.
But I see other worlds too...people and places that do not yet exist. Others, like my son, build with bricks and concrete and steel. I build with bedtime stories and movie nights and pumpkin muffins--but I also build with words, which is why stories have always been so important to me. Words swirl unceasingly in my head—words belonging to people born of my imagination, asking for their tales to be told. More often than not, I have little time to even listen to these words, let alone preserve them with my pen. But I know these, too, are worlds that I, alone, can build.
In fact, lately it seems that rather than building all of these worlds that I envision, I have, instead, been struggling to simply maintain the little that I have already built. Or, (in my worst moments) I have even found myself chiseling away at the foundations, destroying with my own hands what had once been such a beautiful vision in my mind.
I’m not sure whether it is the reality of my son turning nine, or me settling into my forties that has made me recognize how quickly the time is passing and the brevity of the time that is remaining. But the time of his living in that world of Home that I want to build for him is already halfway over. The short story of my life as a mother with children under my wing is nearly at its midpoint, as is the story of my very own life (as I breathe a quick prayer for God’s grace and many years).
I have precious little time to build that which will last.
It is this truth that I have pondered prayerfully over the past several months, and it is this truth that I keep in my mind as I announce to you, my dear book-loving friends, that I will be stepping away from Storyformed as a regular contributor for the next season. This is not a decision that came easily for me. I have wrestled with it for months, knowing that this ministry is so important, and the work here matters immensely. It has been the greatest privilege to be able to share with you all of the worlds I have discovered and loved through stories over the past fourteen months. But I know that, in this coming season, I want to be intentional about stewarding my time in such a way that I am building only what God had called me alone to build, regardless of how wonderfully good other things may be. Most importantly, that includes the Home that I described, where I am most urgently teaching my precious sons how to use their own giftings to do their part in constructing the Kingdom here on earth. It still includes lots of stories, of course, but less podcasting and more dinnertime discussions. Less reading for the questions asked on the Facebook page and more reading for the questions in my six-year-old’s precious heart. I hope it still includes writing, though perhaps it will be fewer reviews of stories already published and more whispers of stories yet untold. (Though that vision may still be a castle in the clouds for some time to come. We shall see!)
I want you to know how grateful I am to be a part of the Storyformed community and Whole Heart Ministries. It has been such a blessing to be able to share some of my words and my heart with you. And I do hope to pop in on the blog or the podcast every once in a while! I believe so strongly in the work that we are doing here and, as I am stewarding my time with eternity in mind, I know that the labors on this blog and the podcast are those that are, indeed, lasting. I am grateful to Holly, Sally, Clay, and the rest of the Storyformed team for allowing me the privilege and the blessing of building alongside them.
Thank you all so much for inviting me into your homes and your lives every other week over the past year. It has been a privilege and an honor to share this chapter of my story with you all. But I see worlds in my mind--the world of my Home with stories yet to be lived and other worlds with stories yet to be told. And I, alone, can build them. And so, with this goodbye, I lay a stone.
God’s blessings to you all, my friends.