Colleen Luley

Author Archives: Colleen Luley

Finding Grace and Trust in Childbirth

Just a few weeks away from our due date, my husband and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our second child. But along with that impatient expectation of finally meeting this baby, I’ve been finding that anxieties and fears can riddle my brain when I least expect it. Will this be another c-section? If not, what will the pain be like? What’s my true pain tolerance? Will complications arise again with this delivery? Will I go into labor on my own? Will my ideal birth plan happen? What if my water breaks in public?! I could go on and on with hundreds more thoughts, but I’ll spare you!

Kids: Burden or Joy?

My son reached his hand up to me, wanting to hold my hand while we walked down the sidewalk. I reached back and grasped onto his little fingers, realizing that this moment is not going to last forever. When he’s 15 years old, what will he think of holding his mom’s hand?! Surely this season won’t last forever, and it’s moments like these that do something to my heart that makes me feel like it could burst at times.

Lots of my friends are in the stage of having babies, and so my Facebook feed is often filled with comments like, “My heart is so full!” after new births. And for good reason.    

Is ‘Just Be Yourself’ Really Terrible Advice?

The New York Times has had some great opinion pieces lately, providing lots of opportunities to think deeply about some of our ingrained cultural mindsets. “Just be yourself” was brought up this week by writer Adam Grant. He says this:

“We are in the Age of Authenticity, where “be yourself” is the defining advice in life, love and career. Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world. As Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, defines it, authenticity is “the choice to let our true selves be seen.”

We want to live authentic lives, marry authentic partners, work for an authentic boss, vote for an authentic president. In university commencement speeches, “Be true to yourself” is one of the most common themes (behind “Expand your horizons,” and just ahead of “Never give up”).

“I certainly had no idea that being your authentic self could get you as rich as I have become,” Oprah Winfrey said jokingly a few years ago. “If I’d known that, I’d have tried it a lot earlier.”

But for most people, “be yourself” is actually terrible advice.

If I can be authentic for a moment: Nobody wants to see your true self. We all have thoughts and feelings that we believe are fundamental to our lives, but that are better left unspoken.”

The Anxieties of Getting Ready for a Newborn

We’re two months away from welcoming baby number two into our family, and all I can seem to think about is making sure we have the perfect floral crib sheets picked out for the nursery. How did I spend so much time online the other day searching for the picture-perfect one? As we get closer to the reality that this baby will be here in no time, I’ve found myself fixated on the color of the nursery, the wall décor, and making sure the clothes we have for this baby girl are all washed and separated. I could go on and on about the things that can keep me up at night – do I have my hospital bag packed? How far away are we from James being settled into his new room? What’s on our to-do list that we just really need to make sure gets crossed off?

But oh how I wished I spent as much time praying for this new life as I spend thinking about all of the anxieties of the material. These things aren’t bad things – of course I want to have a relaxing nursery and of course I need to know what the plan is for our toddler when we go to the hospital. But I am so easily tempted to spend my (limited) energies on embracing the comfort that I can build for myself here on earth – the American dream – rather than remembering eternity, and remembering my true role that God has given me as a mother. How do I refocus my heart on the eternal? Here are a few reminders that I need daily:

The Art of Neighboring

Today’s post is a guest post from Elizabeth McKinney – someone who “neighbors” well.

A year after settling into our new home, we had the idea to have a little, informal block party and just invite the neighbors around us that we knew – about 15-20 people. One of the neighbors had several fryers, so we did a potluck fish fry and had fish tacos. There were a few kids who played on someone’s swing-set and later, we did a fire pit for the adults after our kids went down. At the time, I had no grandiose visions of what God could do with that small step; I just thought it would be fun to get some neighbors together.blockparty

Four years later, I’m amazed at the community that has grown in our little village of ~200 homes. We now have a Facebook group, a Neighborhood Watch, ongoing Poker Nights, Running Groups, a Wine Club and tons of fun annual events: an Easter Egg Hunt, Neighborhood Clean Up Columbia, an Arbor Day Event, the Block Party, 4th of July Bike Parade, a Drive-In Movie, Tailgates, a Christmas Party with Santa (along with Christmas lights competition) and welcome baskets for people when they move in. It’s kind of blowing my mind. This year, we did a huge Halloween extravaganza where kids picked up treasure maps at our Clubhouse and followed them around to 12 different stations including: hot chocolate, s’mores, cider, a Haunted Garage, Hayrides, movies & popcorn. We encouraged neighbors to stay outside, get a fire pit if they didn’t already have one and organized people as station teams with the few houses around them or on their cul-de-sac. Not only was the night exceedingly fun for all the kids and adults, it was a huge community builder!

Caring About a “Crisis of Mental Health” in College Students

A recent article in Psychology Today spotlights the state of many on our college campuses: college students are overwhelmed, anxious, and suffering from a wide spectrum of mental health issues. The statistics it cites are shocking:

“It is neither an exaggeration nor is it alarmist to claim that there is a mental health crisis today facing America’s college students. Evidence suggests that this group has greater levels of stress and psychopathology than any time in the nation’s history…

95% of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus. Seventy percent of directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems on their campus has increased in the past year…

PSA: The Gospel Coalition Podcast & Gospel-Motivated Hospitality

TGC_Podcast_Wide_(gray_version)Are you a podcast listener? Once an obscure means of reaching people with information, podcasts have risen in popularity the past few years. If you’re anything like me, you subscribe to more than a few that you might listen to while working out, doing the dishes, driving to work, or mowing the lawn. A way to “redeem the time” and maybe make some of those more mundane tasks more bearable. Browse the iTunes podcast store and you’ll be overwhelmed with choices, from the comedic to the informational.