It Takes a Village, or So They Say

My freshman year at Baylor University, I got locked inside The Sub, the student designated common area that housed a small cafe, a few couches and computers, and the mail room. It was the Sunday before finals week, and I crept out of the dorm just as the sun peeked up over the horizon, because cramming is an art form, and I’d mastered it.

I wanted some place that I knew I could be alone for several hours to study, so I walked to The Sub and tugged on the back door, and it opened! There were a couple of lights on, but otherwise the room was dark and completely silent. I sat down at one of the tables and pulled out my books and notebooks, then set to work.

Thirty minutes in, a man walked around the corner whistling and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw me sitting at the table. If we hadn’t been so terrified, I think we both would have laughed.

“You know The Sub is closed until 1:00 on Sundays, right?” he asked. He was the custodian making his final rounds before heading to the next building on campus. I nodded my head in response, but really I had no clue the building was closed on Sunday mornings.

These were the small details of life that eluded eighteen-year-old me.

“I’m just studying for finals,” I replied.

“Well, alright then,” he said, giving me a little wink. “You can stay. Just promise you’ll leave by 11:00 so you don’t scare the woman who unlocks the doors as much as you scared me just now.”

I smiled and nodded, and he moved on. I heard him leave the building, and I dug back into conjugating Russian verbs. Around 10:00, I could feel my eyelids growing heavy. I’d put in nearly four hours of work, and I’d had nothing to eat. It was time for breakfast and a nap. I gathered my things and headed for the door…only to find it locked tight.

I checked every door in The Sub, all of them locked. I was stuck, and at a loss for what to do next. This was 1996, which means I didn’t have a cell phone or Facebook, or really any other means for getting in touch with someone. All I had was the campus phone in the corner.

A phone with a cord attached to it. Good grief I’m old.

It took several attempts, but I finally managed to wake up a friend in the dorm and ask her to come see if she could break me out. Long story short, it took about an hour for her to find someone with a set of keys who could set me free.

That was the day I determined that studying early in the morning could legitimately be hazardous.

Image courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography

Image courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography

Sometimes motherhood feels like that morning in The Sub. I start out so many days with such noble purposes, and I enter into the day assuming that it’s all going to go according to plan. Then suddenly it’s all bumbled, and I’m locked down in the decisions and the bickering and the never ending to-do list, and I can’t find my way back out.

That’s when I’m grateful for friends who pick up the phone and hear the panic in my voice, rushing to rescue me from the corner into which I’ve backed myself.

[Tweet “They say it takes a village to raise a child, but really I think it takes a village to raise a mom.”]

My friend, Wendy, said this once, and I do believe it’s true. Because going it alone in these emotionally exhausting years of raising kids starts to feel claustrophobic. If we’re not careful, we just might blame our kids for locking us in, and where would that leave us?

No, friends who pick up their phones when we call (or text…thank you modern technology) help us keep the doors open. They walk us out into the light, and nourish our starving bodies with laughter, conversation, and encouragement. And so it is that motherhood was never meant to be lived alone, but together, with the doors of life open and unlocked.

So this is my cry of thanks to the village of friends who continually rally around me, making sure I don’t get stuck inside these mothering years. They’re the ones that push wide open the door, keeping fresh air flowing through my days  and making me, in turn, a better mother.

I’m glad I don’t have to go it alone.

I’m also glad that technology has given us phones without cords.

Have you thanked a friend today? Bought her coffee? Sent her a card? Or a text?

Would you?


Watercolor Therapy: A Guest Post

This post was written by my dear friend, soul sister, and my creative partner, Wendy. A week from today, I will be on a plane to California for our annual Creative Retreat – a time to gather with other like minded women seeking to glorify God with these gifts that He’s given us. I am thankful for her wise words. Please welcome her!

There is a time and a place for therapy.

When a muscle is strained, there’s physical therapy; for the patient who’s undergone a stroke, speech therapy; children with physical delays need occupational therapy; and those held in emotional bondage benefit from psychotherapy.


Photo courtesy of Wendy Speake.

My dear friend, and author of this blog, is in need of a little therapy right now.  Even as I write, Kelli is flying home from an intense weekend with family.  After receiving the devastating news that a loved one is battling an aggressive form of cancer, each family member came together for the deep heart therapy that can only be done in one another’s presence.

The Stuart Family lifted up their beloved patriarch with prayer therapy, before Kelli’s father-in-law began chemotherapy.  Now all the Stuarts have scattered back to their own cities and little families again.  How difficult I imagine it will be for Kelli and Lee to not be with their loved ones during the days ahead.  Which is why therapy must continue. 

Prayer Therapy:  Those who know and love Kelli and her family, I beseech you to pray for them during this time.  Pray for the healing of her father-in-law, wisdom for his doctors, comfort and peace for Lee’s mother and siblings, and lift up the grandchildren… as the sting of illness and the reality of heaven sets in.


Photo Courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography.

Friendship Therapy:  We desperately need friendship when our hearts pump hard to comprehend our circumstances.  There are seasons of grief when we pull away; retreating into prayer closets, lifting up our hands in private worship.  But a time comes when friends must join in the retreat.


“Retreat: A movement away from danger, back along the original route.”


Photo courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography

 How appropriate that Kelli and I are hosting our annual Creative Retreat at my home in one week’s time – Our safe place to move away from danger, and find our path again.

Sitting in my backyard yesterday, creating watercolors with my children, I thought of Kelli, and sent her a text:  Let’s do some watercolor therapy when you come.  She responded:  I agree. 

 Water clear and paint brush dry 

Blank canvas ‘neath the western sky 

Young woman sitting all alone 

Breaks silence with a subtle moan 

Bare shoulders kissed by heavens sun 

She lifts her eyes, bids healing come 

Picks up the brush, then comes undone. 


Photo courtesy of Wendy Speake.

Ironically, or not at all, Kelli sojourned to my home for last year’s retreat, after the heartbreak of her unfruitful adoption.  She retreated to my front porch, blindsided and raw.

 Prayers and friendship mingled with food, adventures, laughter and late nights, as healing took place.


Photo courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography

Sometimes the therapy a heart needs most is to RETREAT.

Retreat into the healing, dry climate of Southern California’s hills,  and the quiet of a backyard, and the rhythmic movement of a paintbrush.

 If you are hurting today, which many of us are, I encourage you to retreat, to find refuge, and to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day… (Psalm 91:1-16)

(Thanks to one of our amazing photographers, Tammy Labuda, for always capturing moments of inspiration so expertly. Check out Wendy’s beautiful new site here.)

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