A Blog From This Valley

The Civil Wars sing a song called “From This Valley” that has been rolling around in my head for days.  And while its fun, lighthearted melody “rolled around” it, actually began careening into the deeper folds of my heart, where things are not quite as lighthearted at the moment.  The title “From This Valley” pretty much describes the place from where I am writing right now.

The other day my sister inquired ever-so-gently if this valley I’m in might have anything to do with the recent passage of another birthday, to which I replied, “Whatevs.” Then I secretly took her keen observation to heart.  (She knows me too well.  I love that.)

It’s not only about turning 43, though. I am adjusting to a new stage of life.  It’s the stage where I am no longer raising children. I am raising teenagers. TWO teenagers. (Artistic, busy teenagers with opinions.) And it’s a stage when our family schedule depends on a very carefully timed taxi service, fewer meals together (which have been non-negotiable in the past) and mind-reading skills which I do not possess.  And, sure, every birthday reminds me that I have one less year in which to help them fly with their own wings;but add to that ticking clock the sudden tragic death of an artist friend, Stephen Hill, this past week (who was only 55) and I start asking myself some hard questions.  Am I making the most of this stage of life? Or do I need to set my expectations lower and just get through it with my head on?

Over the past 15 years I have made a long series of sacrifices — professionally, socially, and I’m sure I don’t have to mention financially —  to give my kids every possible chance to learn from me what only a mother can give them. And right now, the payoff is coming in extremely small increments. Extremely. Small.

I’m grateful for a husband who is in this with me. At times, after we have unintentionally said the wrong thing (again) or hit an emotional landmine, we will look at each other with that knowing look that says, “We have no clue what we’re doing here!”

So, back to this Civil Wars tune that I keep singing. This verse particularly strikes me:

Oh, the caged bird dreams of a strong wind that will flow ‘neath her wings.
Like a voice longs for a melody, oh, Jesus carry me.

YES.  That! My voice longs for a melody.  My “wings” long for a strong wind to make the flying – or whatever this is – a little less laborious. I am grateful for constant reminders that is Jesus carrying me, and you want to know what I’m noticing?  We can’t teach our kids to fly while we’re standing down on the ground.  We show them how.  So…please send some wind over this direction, Jesus! The chorus of “From This Valley” says…

Won’t you take me from this valley to that mountain high above?
I will pray, pray, pray until I see your smiling face.
I will pray, pray, pray to the one I love.

I’m definitely praying more than ever lately. It’s the only way I know to live inside the knowledge that the One I love is with me constantly, even when everything else feels out of sync and I am not feeling the love.

I understand that valleys are where character is developed, trust is deepened and we learn what we can’t learn any other place. So with that in mind, I certainly don’t mean to wish a moment of this season away. And there are redeeming moments. But this simple little song has offered me the refreshing reminder I needed this week.

Thank you, Civil Wars.

Just for fun, I’ve included here a video of Joy Williams and John Paul White singing “From This Valley” live.  Enjoy.  In the comments here, feel free to let me know how you survive the valleys!  I’m open to any and all suggestions.

10 thoughts on “A Blog From This Valley

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    1. THANK YOU, Tanya! Glad it applies to your valley, too. (Sorry I made you cry. They say, “No tear in the reader’s eye without first a tear in the writer’s eye.” I guess that saying must be true.)

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  1. You made me cry too, and my kids are still little.

    I have no advice, but the only thing that makes any sense at all sometimes is the ‘pray, pray, pray’ bit. I know I am not alone, I know you are not alone. I think God put the ‘hopeless optimist’ in both of us. This bird may not be able to get out of the cage right now, but she’s refusing to curl up in the corner and give up, she’s still dreaming of reaching the sky. After all, God promised we could ‘soar on wings like eagles’, and although it feels impossible at the moment I choose to trust His promise over my feelings.

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  2. You are a BRILLIANT writer, my love! Glad I was alone in my office when I read it. You…..me…..this life…..I love it!

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  3. I can’t relate to the parenting aspect of this story but I relate to the questions about “am I making the most of this stage…” I lost 2 boyfriends to tragic accidents. Most recently in July 2009, my boyfriend/dance partner and when I lost him I became more mindful of death and really living life to the fullest.

    I love the song “He Restoreth My Soul” because it has taught me that God is working hard to perfect me while I’m in the valley.
    Chorus:He leads me beside still waters somewhere in the valley below He draws me aside to be tested and tried but in the valley He restoreth my soul.

    I spoke on my personal valley experience at church several months ago and told the congregation I would rather be in the valley where God is chiseling away, molding and shaping me, and refining me. The mountain top is a scary experience because you behold the glory and grandeur of it all and it seems you have nothing to hope for. But when in the valley you seem to draw closer to the Lord thru prayer and humility.

    Just remember to PUSH and ASAP:
    Pray Until Something Happens and Always Say A Prayer

    Like the McKamey’s sing: “God will make this trial a blessing…”

    Just keep the faith…keep praying and believing!! Life is hard but God is good and if He brings you to it, He will also see you through it!

    Psalm 23

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  4. I asked God to help me see my children as He sees them. Let me love them like Jesus does. It is amazing how your heart changes when you see like Jesus. My children are grown now and married but I still pray that I will see them like Jesus and love them like Jesus.

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  5. I identify so much raising two teens too, and one who just left the teens the day before yesterday, but doesn’t show any signs of an adult..like Connie said in her first line of her comment…i’m asking/praying for that too! Thanks Emily )and Connie). Auke

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