The Struggle With Moving Staircases


One of the many amazing things that Harry Potter discovers upon his first night at Hogwarts is that the staircases move! Yes, indeed, the staircases throughout Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry move seemingly of their own accord (a trait which appears to have been built into the very walls of that castle). This is stated to be quite disconcerting, not to mention disruptive to important plans, such as getting to class on time. How on earth is one supposed to climb a staircase that is moving?

That is where I am in this moment, Dear Readers: trying to climb a staircase that is constantly moving and thus changing my direction and destination. I do not doubt that your current state of life is much the same. Change is always weird for me but, right now, for this mom and teacher, the shift is downright unsteadying. It is unsettling when a dear one can ask me, “How is school planning going?” twice in the same hour and the answer can be different from one end of the hour to the other, because something somewhere has changed in that short space of time. Something that upsets the whole balance of everything I have hitherto planned or worked on. But this is the new reality of our world, isn’t it? A world of moving staircases, split-second changes, and necessary flexibility, adaptation, and improvisation. As a teacher, my experience with change is constant and never-ending; however, that does not in any way make it an easy thing. Nor, do I realize, is it easy for anyone else, and, I know, Dear Reader, that nothing is easy for you right now either.

You are navigating your own moving staircases of whether or not to send your child back to in-person classes or figuring out childcare or giving heartfelt reassurances if the decision has been taken out of your hands by circumstance. Believe me, I get you. I feel you, Dear Reader. All the staircases are moving on us, and we are being forced to hold on and figure out our way from our new starting point. But it will be okay.

No, it’s definitely not okay right now, I agree. We are not okay right now, absolutely. But it will be okay. We keep heroing on, you and me and everyone else out there. We hold on and hold fast as the staircase moves and then forge a way forward when it stops. The path may be halting, may be very stop-and-start for a while, but we will make it. We will get through it together. Again, while we are not in the same boat or even the same particular storm in some cases, we are still in the same ocean. We are still in this together, no matter how different our circumstances or our struggles. We can still reach out and find someone who hears us, feels us, and understands us and our struggles. We have each other. We are together, no matter how separate we may be.

I am not okay right now. I am unsteady; I am nervous; I am unsure as to what to do next, as the path changes almost daily. But I will keep moving forward. You may not be okay right now, Dear Reader, and that is totally valid. You are not alone in this. But it will be okay. We will be okay. Just as Harry had Ron and Hermione right there with him on the moving staircases of his life, so too will we keep moving forward, Dear Readers. Together.

When All You Want to Do is Run Away to Narnia…


12 July 2020

I have a Spare Oom in my new house. For those of you unfamiliar, Spare Oom is Mr. Tumnus’s mispronunciation of “spare room”, where Lucy Pevensie found the wardrobe that would take her and her siblings to the wondrous Narnia.

“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?” – Mr. Tumnus, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

In our new home, Spare Oom is “my” room. It is supposed to be my office/guest room, though I have had a hard time verbally claiming it as my own. I have done so metaphorically with the bookshelves and their arrangement, but I have found myself, in other ways, tailoring it more to my mother’s tastes and aesthetic, as she will likely be the most consistent overnight guest we will have (should this pandemic ever abate and borders reopen). So I often catch myself referring to it as “Grandma’s/Marmee’s room” rather than my own. I am trying to train myself into the more middle-of-the-road name of Spare Oom, to which I have become attached because I have decorated it with the Narnia-themed art that one of my best friends, Courtney Pritchard, has created for me over the years.

Spare Oom is supposed to be somewhere I can get away to hide when I need to, supposed to be something that I have not had over the past few years: a space of my own. This particular day is the first time I am using it as such, seated in a corner with my faithful stuffed pupper friend Deborah by my side, and wishing that I escape through my own closet, just for a little while. Today, I am hiding from my little girl and what feels like her constant state of being upset with me. What made her angry today? The suggestion that I might need to go to the store and therefore take her with me because Ben is helping a friend move some plants.

I am the Breaker of Hearts. The Dampener of Dreams. The Ruiner of Lives. The Forcefeeding Warden. The Tower-Banishing Queen. The Woman Who Doesn’t Know ANYTHING.

“Mom” is an unenviable position to be in right now. At least it is for me. I am the person saying”no”. I am the one reminding her of washing hands, turning off lights, and putting things away. I am the person refusing to let her have chocolate right before bed. I am the person dragging her along on errands and chores while Ben is at work and thus ruining her day…or her life, whichever is worse. Nope. “Mom” is not the most fun position to be in right now. 

2020 has been a year of massive change, both obviously and surprisingly. From school closures to quarantine and isolation to distance learning to, finally, our then finding a new home, packing up, and moving an hour and a half away all in the space of a month. There has been change after change not only for us but also for our girl, I know. And change is hard. I am doing my best to help her process through it, which proves challenging at times when I have barely had time to process myself (as I am learning even right now). Still, it’s hard to feel constantly at odds with her. I am trying to pay attention to and temper my words, actions, and body language with her (as I know my big feelings bleed through at times, too). I want, above all things, to remind and reassure my little girl that she is safe with me. Often, though, the moment where I do constantly feel the bond between us is at bedtime, when, after prayers, a story, and a mug of warm milk, she wants me to sing to her and stay close until she falls asleep. It’s a sweet moment that I so very often wish I weren’t so tired during but am still thankful for.

While mothering is difficult (so very difficult!) right now, I know that giving up is not an option. Things are still very hard, the world is still unsteady, and the idea of normal activities (such as going back to school) is still scary. And if I am scared, then she might be as well. If my girl will have no other stability, no other rock in this environment, I am determined that she will have me. Even if I do need to disappear into Spare Oom for my own sanity from time to time.

Hold fast, dear friends. There are days when the hard will be insurmountable, and all we can do is hole up, hold fast, and try again tomorrow. That is okay. That is allowed. And you are still loved, rooted for, and believed in. Rest when you need to. Spare Oom is waiting.

Deborah the Faithful

The Times, They Are a Changin’


Hello, Dear Readers!

Please, do forgive my absence, but my little family has been in the midst of absolute upheaval, chaos, and undone-ment. That’s right: we were moving house! My husband Ben has been given a wonderful opportunity for full-time ministry so that means the Snyderhaus has up and moved. After a month of packing and prepping and sorting through our old house of 12 years (a task that reduced me to overwhelmed tears more than once), we are now officially ensconced in our new home, which is far beyond anything I ever envisioned. We have spent the last two nights here, the rest of our furniture arrived yesterday, and, this morning, my daughter and I sat at the table in our DINING ROOM and ate breakfast together. Then she went upstairs to her bedroom to play and my husband settled at the dining room to do some work, while I enjoyed my first cup of tea on the couch in my new house, with the blinds open on our NEW PATIO DOORS to look out on our deck and backyard.

Can you tell I am a touch excited? I (and, by extension, my anxiety) am actually allowing myself to be so, now that the major push is done. I have also found a new job and that alone is miraculous, never mind the gobsmacking circumstances that surround it. We still have the old house to finish cleaning out and cleaning up to get it ready to list, and I am ever so thankful for the resources and family/friends that are helping with that task. God has deeply provided and is truly wonderful! I pray that He will bless this house and all that come into and go out from it. May they leave better than they arrived.

Now, that is not to say that this first month won’t be challenging. It will. It absolutely will. I will be transtioning from one position to another, Ben will have just begun his new pastorship and all its responsibilities, and Elizabeth will be acclimating to life in a new city, neighborhood, and house. But I believe that God is good, that this is what He has planned for us, and that He will, as I have prayed so many times and continue to, be our meal and oil and provide what is needed. What we want can wait for a little while. God has provided what we need thus far, and so I believe He will not let us down now.

Again, thank you for your patience, Dear Ones. I appreciate your encouragement, your support, and the Love that shines from you. You are what this world needs. Let us continue to show up, show Love, and do what is needed.

Hero on, Dear Ones!

I PROTEST!


Never fail. I protest this racism against brown and black and native bodies. I protest this brutality that takes life. That harms minds and souls. That makes widows, widowers, and orphans. I protest this injustice. I may not be able to do much but you will hear me.

I PROTEST!

Last night, I read Henry’s Freedom Box to my mixed-race daughter, the true story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom after his wife and children had been sold away. I stopped and explained to her as we read, and I saw her little face crumple a few times. She even hid under her blanket when Henry’s wife and children were taken from the marketplace.

When the story was done, she asked questions, including this one: “What if there was a villain with every power in the world, even some that haven’t been created yet, and they tried to take me away like that? What would you do?” I told her that I would fight. That WE would fight, in every way we could, because we will ALWAYS stand for what is right. Whether we do it by marching, speaking, writing, feeding, kneeling, helping, it doesn’t matter so long as we stand for what is right and against what is wrong.

I PROTEST!

I told her what happened to George Floyd, what has happened to so many, and what is happening in the world right now as a result. That, together, we are saying, “This. Must. Stop.”

I PROTEST!

Choosing Again


My head ached and my stomach roiled as I looked over the papers the other night: the lease for what we had been dearly hoping would become our new home. This was the next step in a new chapter for our little family, and I felt as though all my sense and surety had fled and failed me. All my certainty seemed to wobble underneath me, all that I was sure of before lost in a haze of “I don’t know,” and “Is this right?”

During a recent bedtime, our daughter told us that she believed God had told her that the house (over whose lease I was now laboring) was perfect for us. Honestly, we all thought so and had prayed and hoped deeply that our application might be approved. Then it was and now there I sat, suddenly questioning the last two weeks of my life and every decision made therein. It has been twelve years since we rented a home; was this lease fair? Where would the extra money come from for all this if something went wrong? What if no schools accepted my job applications? Was this indeed the next right thing, the right choice for our family? Now, we do believe that our little girl did indeed hear God’s voice in her heart, that she did hear Him answer her silent question of a new home.  Yet, here I was: feeling sick to my stomach with uncertainty.

Needing a minute to clear my head, I sat down with a box of encouragement cards that a friend had given me, and this is the one I pulled out of the stack:

I had made an old choice, and I had chosen wrongly. I had chosen an old frenemy: fear. It has stood between me and the new many times before, and I have missed much through its uncertainty. And, though I believe in this next chapter for our family, I had chosen fear again and it had made itself uncomfortable in my belly.

I need to choose again.

I want to choose again.

I will choose again.

This time, I choose love.

When I say that, I do not necessarily mean that I am choosing love for others, though that is always a good (and a God) thing. What I mean by choosing love is that I am choosing God’s love for me. His love which means He has a plan for me, a plan for my good and to prosper my future. I do not want to choose fear and let it paralyze me again. I want to choose and believe in God’s love for me, no matter how nervous I may feel about the big changes coming our way. I want to continually choose God’s love for me and have faith that He will open the necessary doors and that all will work out. 

One thing is for absolutely certain: God has never failed me yet. I choose to believe that He will not start now.

Momentary Miracles


Yesterday, my little girl and I took advantange of the beautiful day and took a nice, long walk. We have been cooped up in the house by the weather and the last week of school, and we needed some fresh air desperately. So we pulled on our sneakers, got out her bike, and my little girl and I took 35 minutes to walk/bike almost the entire length of the main road through our little town.

My daughter and I are very different personalities, you may have noticed if you have been reading here for a while, but that walk and then sitting down together with ice cream afterward were very nice. For a little while, our personalities didn’t rub each other wrongly. I was patient and she was attentive. We left our house in one direction and returned from the other direction. She paid close attention to stopping at each road or sidestreet to look and listen before crossed. I called out encouragement and helped her walk through a newly-formed anxiety of the train crossing through town. At one point while sitting on our front steps, my girl scooted close to me so her shoulder touched my arm, and I leaned back into her, a silent reminder each to each that we love each other. It has been a rough two months, cooped up together, constantly in each other’s bubbles, an introvert and extreme extrovert. That quiet moment shared between us was honestly a little miracle moment in the midst of the past few weeks, and I am so thankful for it.

This time of separation and isolation has been difficult for us all. It has often rubbed our personalities and feelings the wrong way. Introverts have been surrounded by their people on a constant basis with no way to escape the chaos of family. Extroverts have been prevented from surrounding themselves by their friends and new people with whom they can make friends. Parents suddenly had to take on the role of teacher, conductor, coach, etc. Children have had to take greater the initiative of learning. We have ALL become counselors to a greater degree as we try to meet our children’s hierarchy of needs in the midst of all this (which they often cannot even articulate), as well as our own. We are all starved for the companionship and affective of separate family and friends. This has been and is hard.

So that quiet moment when my girl leaned into me, or at night when she requests a lullaby and reaches to hold my hand while I sing, those momentary miracle mean even more. And I want to notice them before it is too late.

May we notice and cherish these momentary miracles as we walk through these days…separate but still together.

I See You, Moms.


I began this post three times over and, each time, it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t what I wanted to say. To be honest, I am not sure of just what I want to say. 

Mother’s Day is not usually a relaxed, pampered day but, rather, a day of busyness for me. It is a day spent making sure that all the moms in my life feel special, as that is very important to me. Special days usually fall under the purview of mothers.

Moms, Aunts, Grandmas: you have been called above and beyond during this crisis. Overhauling your lives and bidding goodbye to you and your families’ old normal to find a balance in the new, and you have absolutely smashed those challenges, if I do say so myself. You have rearranged houses and schedules, developed new abilities, reignited old ones, and extended present ones. You have enforced rules and comforted dear ones in the midst of all this hard and uncertainty. You have literally accomplished miracles.

Today, I celebrate you, Moms. I celebrate your gentleness and strength. I see your weariness, your overwhelm, stress, and tears. I honor your late nights, though the next day will undoubtedly be busy, because those late-night hours are the only ones you get to yourselves. I celebrate all that you are.

Aunts and Grandmas, I see your missing of your nieces and nephews, grown children and grandchildren. I feel your desire to hold them close and hug them tight. I see your conversations over the phone, from the ends of driveways and between cars and over Zoom and Facetime. I honor your desire to keep your dear ones safe.

Someday soon we will be together again. We will be able to share all the hugs, visits, lunches, play-dates, girls’ nights, and vacations again. We are separate but still together, and you are loved beyond measure. Thank you for everything that you do, all day and every day. I appreciate you, love you, and wish you a long, deep nap or, at least, a quiet hour all by yourself.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Still Here


Here we are, at the end of another month. My birthday (and maybe yours, too) has come and gone in this strange time of social distancing and sheltering-in-place. It was a lovely one despite the limitations on what actually could be done to celebrate. I received some beautiful phone calls and video chats from beloved friends and family, and one friend even sent me a Disney World firework show. It was a lovely birthday altogether. “Fancy” take-out dinner, cake, and a $0.99 movie with my little family.

Doesn’t it feel odd, what we have learned to live with over the past month or so? The adjustments and adaptations we have made in order to live life in this new normal? The very way we interact as human beings has changed, and we have come to cling to those changes as, in most cases, they are all that we can do.

Tuesday was THE day. Grocery Day! All three of us happened to be out that morning, a deviation from our normal routine as one of the cars has to be taken in for servicing. So, donned in our new sweetly-made masks, mine covered in its lovely book pattern (fitting, no?), we ventured into the grocery store, my husband and daughter heading off to the electronics and toy section while I scurried about the grocery and pharmacy aisles with my list. As I moved about, I found myself in an absolute fit of irritation that people were clustering close together and whatnot in the aisles and walkways when I was studiously trying to avoid it. Granted, as an introvert, I tend to studiously avoid people in the grocery store as a matter of practice, but this irritation felt far more urgent, more worrisome. It is this worrisome urgency that sent me scurrying off as though I were actively running away from people. However, at the same time, I have come to accept that worried irritation as a part of my mental process through all this. Especially when I see more and more people chaffing at the restrictions and states beginning to re-open and allow the distance between people to lessen or even close. I am not okay with this, and I am unsure as to how others can be.

Do I miss my students? Yes. Do I miss being able to go out when I feel the want or need? Yes. Do I wish my daughter could socialize and play with her friends and other children? Yes. But I am not prepared to believe that this is over yet. I am not prepared to put my family and those of others at risk by throwing our caution and adjustments away. I am not, and I am urgently irritated at people who are.

Where is your sense of community protection or (at least) self-preservation, people? Do I understand the need to work and for income? Absolutely. But I also acknowledge that we still do not know enough about this virus, its staying power, resurgence, etc. I am not prepared to take that chance, not yet.

Is it hard to be home all the time? Absolutely. Is my daughter driving me nuts? Undoubtedly. Do we struggle to find and share space in our little home? All the time (but especially when my daughter refuses to go upstairs to the two rooms that are all hers and leave me to the peace of the living room). But, above all other things, WE ARE STILL HERE. We are still together. We are still here. And so are you.

We are still here, Dear Ones. Doing what we can. Separate but together. Even as things might begin to change again, let’s continue to stay here and do what we can, for the good of ourselves and others.

Butter-Thin


It has felt good getting my body back into a habit of exercising each morning before beginning my day. I have now gotten back to the point where I feel off without it, which is a routine that I have honestly missed quite a bit. But my daily exercise and extra workouts are not the reason I am feeling thinner lately. No, the “thinner” I am feeling is an emotional and mental thinness.

         At the end of his time as a Ring-bearer, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins described himself as feeling “thin…like butter scraped over too much bread”. It was a feeling of not having enough of himself anymore for life, for…anything, really. It has been over a month at home, closeted with husband and daughter, and it feels as though it gets a bit harder with each week, in which I am sure I am not alone. Rest is, ironically, proving hard to come by, and I have felt my optimism flag. Anxiety is manifesting as weariness, irritability, and overwhelm; some days, it is hard for me to recognize myself as myself. I feel poured out…worn thin.

I miss me. This thought came as a shock even as I wrote the words. I do. I miss me. I miss believing the optimism and encouragement that I pour out for others. I know it is true, but I miss believing it as much for myself as I do for other people. The tap is always on, always running, always pouring out. And yet…it feels as though if I turn it off, the very foundations of my life will shudder.

Earlier this week, my daughter’s teacher posted a very sweet permission for us parents not to be the perfect teachers to our children during this time. Encouraging us to tend to our little ones’ hearts and souls and to worry less about their academic achievements. As a teacher myself, I admit that I am having the hardest time managing my 1st grader’s Reading, Math, and Science lessons along with everything I am doing for my own 8th grade classes and students. And I have felt very much thinner and the less for that this week especially. 

I have felt less for sleeping in a bit in the mornings and then not being able to fit in my workout and all of kiddo’s schoolwork before my class, office hours, or a meeting start. Less for not managing my day down to the minute to accommodate everything and taking a luxury (rest) that I apparently cannot afford. Thinner.

I am not God. Allow me to say that again, for my own benefit. I am not God. And yet I am holding on to everything so very tightly, you’d believe that I must have some cosmic responsibility for everything that is happening. But I don’t, nor do I want to.

I know what I WANT

I WANT to spend meaningful time with my daughter that doesn’t involve some kind of fight or tantrum or fit.

I WANT to rest, to allow myself to take time for quiet, stillness. I WANT to tell my family to take care of themselves for a while and engage in some hygge without guilt.

I WANT to delve into my relationship with God, to grow and deepen in my faith during this time.

I WANT to read, to engage my imagination and intelligence, to tumble headlong into stories and wisdom and stimulating ideas.

What I AM is flustered, rushed, overworked. 

What I AM is irritable and overwhelmed almost from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning. 

What I AM is poured out and depleted but with no idea of just how to say that (though I guess I just did).

What I NEED is soothing for which I do not have to work. 

What I NEED is a break for which I do not feel guilty afterward. 

What I NEED is to be filled up.

What I NEED is to be poured into, but we are all perhaps a bit short on that, aren’t we?

We are all in the midst of something that we do not know how to do. We are all in the midst of stress, weariness, worry, and even fear. You may be right here, too, Dear Reader, in this place of thinness, of emotional/mental scarcity. You may not have much to pour out today or this week. That is okay. If permission is what you need, then here I am to give it to you. From one “thin” person to another, it is okay. You are allowed to do just what you can.

If all you can handle with the kids is one subject lesson, then this teacher is giving you permission to let that be enough.

If all you can handle this Sunday is personal devotions and not a full-fledged Sunday School lesson with the family, then you have this pastor’s wife’s encouragement to stay in your bedroom with the door closed.

If you are home and to the point of wanting to defenestrate your dear ones, then this mom and wife begs you to take a walk (carefully, of course), a bath, shut the kids in the backyard, do something for yourself even if it is a “corrected” coffee in your bathroom at 11am.

If you are leaving the house every day to walk into an uncertain world, you absolutely have this human’s blessing to cry in your car. 

We all need a place where our emotions are welcome, and yours are welcome here, Dear Readers. Always.

Rose Oracle Deck by Threads of Fate – http://www.threadsoffate.com