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I'm still writing; you just won't find me here any longer. If you want to keep reading my writing, head over to mollyflinkman.com. I'll keep a cup of coffee warm for you.

Monday, September 1, 2014


word of the day: isolation \ˌī-sə-ˈlā-shən\ the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others : the condition of being isolated


I think if you were to ask a relatively new mom what it's like to have kids, and if you could get her to answer honestly, she might use the word "Isolating" in her response.

An "of course I love it and yes I love my kids and I wouldn't trade it for the world but at times it can feel very isolating" kind of blathering response.  

This word has been bumping around inside my brain for a long time now.  I keep thinking about it because it doesn't seem like motherhood should be marked by isolation.  In having children, you join the ranks of a community of many other women--women who, I've found, are ready to offer advice, encouragement, and support at any moment--and yet, the whispers of isolation (in my experience, at least) persist.  

It's like your life goes from making sense to feeling like you're a square peg jamming into a round hole.  And then, in the quiet moments of the evening when your kids are asleep, a small voice whispers:

You've been forgotten.

I hate to sound so melodramatic, but in the off chance that I'm not the only one to have believed this lie, it seems worth writing.  

I wrote once earlier this summer that it always helps me to detect the lie, and I recently put a name to this one.  The lie is that I am alone and forgotten.  And, as lies tend to do, this one has again caused me to remain motionless.  Taken away my direction.  It has caused me to place all of my focus on myself and, ironically, begin to forget about the people around me and how I am called to love and serve them.  

This week I was reminded of the story of the adulterous woman in John 8.  Her story makes me wonder if her sin was a result of feeling forgotten and like she didn't matter to anyone.  If somehow she convinced herself that nobody would notice anyway.  Not that that pardons the action; I just see now that when you're so focused on your own insignificance that you lose sight of what is really significant (it's always so ridiculously obvious once you're on the other side, isn't it?).  

I wonder if in that moment when Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you" she also heard, "You are significant.  You matter.  You have not been forgotten; go, and from now on sin no more."  

Venturing into parenthood shouldn't be an isolating experience.  Of course it is a challenging adjustment and of course I'll still, at times, feel like a square peg that can't quite fit into the round hole that is my new normal.  I see now though the need to embrace that daily identity crisis and choose to believe that I matter to God.  In doing so, I think I will love other people better and seek out opportunities to serve and belong in the community that already exists around me.  

Angie Smith speaks to this in her book What Women Fear:
We are significant in our insignificance, urged to have the faith of a child and the heart of a servant.  And be assured, friend, that you are loved in a way that is infinitely different than any love you could know here on earth.  It is the love of a Man who had the chance to exert His importance in the eyes of the world, and instead did exactly what he calls us to do. 
Serve, sacrifice, love. 
And be made great for His glory. (130)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


word of the day: thirty \ˈthər-tē\ the number 30.

Jake turned thirty yesterday, and (par for the course) I found myself more affected by it than he was.

I met Jake when he was 20.  A whole decade ago.  Back then, he wore bandannas and cut off dress shirts; I wore Crocs and ate vanilla pudding like it was a major food group.

This is the first picture we ever took together, and for the sake of authentic writing, you should know that it took me over an hour to track it down tonight.  Presently there is no direction to my thoughts, but because of the sheer effort I've already put into this post, it'll end up finished somewhere.

That picture is just shy of a decade old.  Since it was captured, I've celebrated 8 birthdays with Jake.  

I don't really remember any of them, though, which suddenly spins my thoughts into a totally different direction.  Let the stream of consciousness ensue.
(another early picture)

Jake is always saying that birthdays are just another day; he's never too hung up on the sentimentality of them or the need to make everything perfect for those 24 hours.  He just goes about the day per usual (although this year he did complain about some added soreness and loss of vision).  

I know that I've worked hard to make each of Jake's birthdays something memorable, so the fact that I can't really remember any of them makes me laugh.  

I guess for me, birthdays are starting to become more about the passing of time.  I find myself drawn to the thought that I've now known Jake for one third of his life.  In another decade, I'll have known him for one half of his life.  Then, from there, the time I've been with Jake will start to dwarf the time I ever lived without him, and those are the birthdays I think I'll really get on board with. 

Each passing year means one more that we get to spend together.  It's not about the specific day in time, I suppose, but rather about the fact that we're in that chapter, that moment, that season together.  That even though change is the constant that moves with us throughout each passing year, Jake is a constant, too. 

As is the white bandanna on top of his dresser and the two snack packs of vanilla pudding currently in the fridge.    

Old habits die hard, you know?

30-years-old.  Here's to more birthdays and gaining on those years before you gave that little homebody from Iowa a second glance.  It's going to be a good year, Dr. Flinkman.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


word of the day: end \ˈend\ a point that marks the limit of something : the point at which something no longer continues to happen or exist

I have decided that the worst thing you can do as an overly sentimental person is have kids.  Suddenly the “This-is-the-last-Saturday-of-June-in-2014” moments bear greater weight when you’re not only feeling the need to make the most of them for yourself but also for the little person grabbing on to your ankles. 

The end of summer makes me feel sad, but not necessarily because I have to go back to work.  It’s sad for me because it marks the end of a period of time that I will never again recreate.  Summer days of just Lily and me are now a thing of the past and the year ahead promises more change than I can sometimes wrap my brain around.  Those two things coupled together turn me into a little bit of a nut case as I try to squeeze every ounce of memories out of a few short days. 

In the past few days, I found myself wanting to do all these things to “end summer with a bang.”  Lily and I were going to spend whole days together and get frozen yogurt and go to the splash park and read books and take advantage of all the things summer is before summer is not. 

Then I had this moment where I let myself off the hook.  I reminded myself that one more trip to the splash park wouldn’t make or break our summer together and that we could actually still get frozen yogurt together once school was back in session. 

It’s all part of the same story, isn’t it?  Sometimes I think I’m so quick to think of my life as individual chapters that I forget to think about the story as a whole.  That in the future moments of my life I’ll probably look back and think, “I’d rather be right here.”
It has been a good summer though—a summer that, per usual, came and went slightly surreptitiously. 

So, in sentimental fashion and in honor of the summer’s end, I’ve been spending my evening looking through all the things we’ve done. 

And, I’m okay with moving into the next chapter because I see now that it’s really just a continuation of where we are now.   Change is good [said the small voice inside my head].

Sunday, July 27, 2014


word of the day: six \ˈsiks\ the sixth in a set or series

I've been thinking a lot lately about the vows Jake and I made 6 years ago.  You know...to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, till death parts us...etc, etc. 

In all of the weddings I've been to recently, the bride and the groom exchange hand-written vows.  Words that are meaningful to them and promises that are unique to their relationship.  Each time I listen to them, I wonder why, given my love of writing, we didn't do that.  

Then I remember who I married and why we stuck to the plain and simple.  Not so much up Jake's alley.
I've been thinking about those vows lately because I've been wondering if I have inadvertently added to them.  Expected more of Jake than he promised me on that day 6 years ago and tried to be more than I promised him.  

I think somewhere along the way I gained this idea that Jake is meant to complete me; to be everything I am not.  That once I married him, all the gaps and holes of my personality would be filled and balanced.  
I was reminded this anniversary that Jake is not enough.  That he wasn't meant to be enough for me.  

(And there I go again with the heavy anniversary thoughts.  You'd think at least one year I could conjure up a lovey-dovey #sorrygirlsigotthebestone post.  Maybe next year.)

It's a freeing realization though, and one that I did not epiphanize (that's a word, wouldn't you know?) on my own.  Angie Smith talks about it in her book, What Women Fear:
When we depend on others to be our God, we strike out on a couple different levels.  We burden them with blame for their lack of ability and we forfeit what God could have done if we would have honored Him the way we should have.  
It all goes back to my daily identity crisis, really. Jake doesn't define me as my husband any more than that silly little tube of lipstick sitting in my purse does.  I didn't become a whole person 6 years ago when I married him.  I became better (and more sarcastic), certainly, but I still have voids of loneliness and inadequacy and fear that I see now I've been trying to get Jake to fill.  

But he can't.  And he's not supposed to.  He never promised that.  
And in doing so, I'm forfeiting what God should be and could be doing otherwise.

It's a good and timely realization for me especially on the cusp of what lies ahead for our relationship.  

So, here's to year 7.  For better. For worse. For richer. For poorer. In sickness. In health. 

In together.  In apart.  In joy.  In sadness.  In sincerity.  In sarcasm.  

To have and to hold and to recognize that neither one of us is enough for the other.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014


word of the day: self-righteous \self-ˈrī-chəs\ having or showing a strong belief that your own actions, opinions, etc., are right and other people's are wrong

I keep reading articles about all the things I shouldn't say to people.  There are 12 things you shouldn't say to pregnant woman and 15 things you shouldn't say to engaged couples.  There are things you shouldn't say to people with 1 kid, people with 8 kids, and people with no kids.  And, there are about 273 things you shouldn't say to new moms.

I read every article that I stumble across and am convinced that I do so for one of two reasons.  First, I want to see what I'm saying to people that is offensive (a thought that gives my heart minor palpitations).  Second (and most frequently), I read for validation.  It makes me feel better about myself to know I'm not the only one who is bothered by all the ridiculous things people have said to me.  

Here's one.  Right after Lily was born, I ran into a sweet man with grandchildren of his own.  He was talking to me about motherhood and asked me, "Have you already forgotten what it was like before she came along?" 
Don't let this smile fool you.  I was in shock, of course.
It's a ridiculous question to ask a new mom because of course I remembered what it was like 2 months ago when my life was far less complicated and far fuller of sleep and sanity.  I think I caught him off guard when I answered truthfully, but he went on to tell me how he could now never imagine what life would be like without kids and grand kids.

Or, yesterday, this random woman at the splash park blindsided me with this one: "Oh! Your two kids will be about as close as my two kids! Most days at the beginning I wanted to beat my head against the wall, but now that they're 5 and 7, it's totally worth it."  (It's a good thing she made an accurate assumption, or she could have fallen into multiple categories of the "Things you shouldn't say" group).  

My first instinct in both scenarios was to get a little self-righteous.  Like, how dare you tell me how hard it's going to be to have two kids only 18 months apart?  You don't even know me.  

But that's the thing I've learned about moms.  We're all just a little self-righteous in our own way.  We want to prove we are capable on our own which is absurd because we aren't.  

(Well maybe you are, but every time I think I've got a handle on it, the day usually ends with me crying and driving over to my mom's house.)

That mom at the splash park was just being honest, and I appreciate that.  She didn't sugar coat it, but she also let me know it'd be okay in the end.  The retired man?  Well, he literally can't remember a time without kids because that is now a small piece of his timeline.  He's had kids far longer than he hasn't, and I truly believe he has forgotten about the times before they came along.  

Self-righteousness is isolating--I know this first hand--and so, it has become my quest to assume the best intentions out of both friends and strangers alike.  

Even if the statement is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.  Like this one: "The fourth year of medical school must be such a nice change of pace for your family!"

1 I would like to clarify that there are certainly things you shouldn't say to people.  I’m not suggesting that we do away with tact, of course.  Rather that I've realized in the past few months that I’m just a little too sensitive to the good-natured things people say to me on any given day. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


word of the day: motion \ˈmō-shən\ an act, process, or instance of changing place: movement

Meet Lily, the travel champion of one-year-olds:
 In the past week, she traveled 2,000 miles in the car.  She slept in 3 different states, 5 different rooms, and 3 different beds.

Hardly a complaint.  

To say I was nervous was an understatement.  Lily is a bit of a loose cannon--she doesn't often exist in a gray area of discontent.  She's either happy or screaming mad, and I wasn't sure what hours of car-seat confinement would do to our independent mover.  She proved resilient, however, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  
(She'll only smile in pictures if she can actually see herself in the screen.)

I spent a lot of our travels staring out the window in between entertaining Lily, feeding her a reasonable amount of snacks (per your recommendation, Jake), and sleeping.  And, as I looked out my window, I watched a lot of cars go by from here to New York. 

I often think about cars as they pass by me on roads and wonder about the people inside them.  It fascinates me that for a moment, our lives intersect.  One single moment.  After they pass, I know I will never again see them, so I wonder sometimes where they are going.  What their car is moving towards. 

Traveling is a funny thing because it involves forward motion.  Point A to Point B.  However, long distance trips always make me feel a bit stuck. Because while I'm trapped (a hyperbolic choice of words, of course) in a car, the world continues to move around me.  People go about their daily lives whether or not I'm in them.  

It makes me think of this episode of Growing Pains where Mike Seaver gets sick and can't go to school.  At some point, he realizes that people still went to school and had a great time without him.  It was kind of a shocking epiphany if I remember the episode right.  

I guess I was reminded in my 2,000 miles that I'm not the center of the universe.  People continue in their own forward motion despite the changes to my own.  

Are you supposed to think that much on a road trip?  It's possible that the lack of air conditioning in our final two hour stretch made me a bit loopy.

In any case, Lily reigns the travel queen.

For now.  She is still a loose cannon, after all. 

And there's the smile.  She's so vain.

Monday, July 14, 2014


word of the day:capture \ˈkap-chər\ to emphasize, represent, or preserve (as a scene, mood, or quality) in a more or less permanent form

I got a new camera this week.  Nothing was wrong with my previous camera (other than the fact that we are not entirely certain where it is.  Our suspicions tell us it resides somewhere in Europe although it's anyone's guess at this point.  Needless to say, it didn't quite make it all the way to Africa with Jake a few months ago).  

But that's old news (and a rather good exercise in the "they-are-just-things" game).  The new news is that I have a new camera which is exactly the same as the old.  But if it's possible, I love it even more.  

One of Jake and Lily's favorite things is to play outside together, so last night, I sat on the porch and broke the new camera in.
 I cannot get enough of these curls.  
Or that face for that matter.
And then there was this one.
 In case you can't see the delight on her face, here's a zoomed version...
 I read in an NPR article recently ("Overexposed? Camera Phones Could Be Washing Out Our Memories") that while taking pictures makes us think we're preserving memories, it actually could have the adverse effect.  Instead of preserving the memory, it takes us out of it.  Apparently, when you're more concerned with capturing the perfect shot than being in the moment with the people around you, the memory is not as defined.
It's something I know I'm guilty of (flashback to Lily's first birthday) and also something I've been working to balance.                

I think what I love most about the pictures I captured last night though is that it wasn't really my moment in the first place.  It was Jake and Lily's, and I got to sit on the porch and soak it all in from behind the lens.  To capture it for them.

They're something, those two.
Maybe the balance comes from realizing which memories are mine to preserve.  Or maybe it's just putting the camera down from time to time (within eye-sight and away from potential thieves, preferably) and submerging myself in the moment.  The slide show is far greater in my mind than anything I could begin to capture on camera anyway.  

Friday, June 27, 2014


word of the day: lie \ˈlī\ to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive; to be in a helpless or defenseless state

I have a love-hate relationship with medical school.  I hate it mostly.  And I love to talk about how much I hate it.  That’s really the extent of the relationship. 
Lily feels similarly.  She also makes this face ALL the time now.  It is hilarious/making me feel like I should smile more or something.
We live at the mercy of tests and doctors and uncertain hours.  Jake and I recently had a conversation in which we ranked our upcoming months on a scale of bad to terrible.  Bad felt very manageable which tells me I’ve come a long way in our almost six years of marriage. 

There are times, though, when the pressure of the current and upcoming realities of medical school start to feel unbearable.  And it’s in those moments that a small voice whispers in my ear, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

It’s an “I” and not a “you” because the best lie makes you believe that you came up with it on your own.  The lie is easier to detect when it comes from somebody else.

Now, I could probably write a 328 part series about the lies I believe on any given day.   Lately, this just seems to be the one that weasels itself in most frequently.

I was reminded today of an excerpt from one of my favorite books, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  In a chapter titled “The Thing about a Crossing” he speaks straight to my feelings:
It’s like this when you live a story:  The first part happens fast.  You throw yourself into the narrative, and you’re finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller.  The distant shore doesn’t seem so far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach.  You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you’ll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch.  But the truth is, it isn’t going to be over soon. 
 The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined.  The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.  At some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to move you now only rock the boat. . .The shore you left is just as distant, and there is no going back; there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch, and sink into the sea.  Maybe there’s another story at the bottom of the sea.  Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore.[…] 
I think this is when most people give up on their stories.  They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies.  But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought.  They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward.  None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger.  They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story. (177-179)
“Oh, but Jake is almost done with medical school. You’ll arrive at the other shore soon enough, and you’ll look back and realize all that paddling was worth it.”

See, that’s the thing.  I’ve been thinking about that phrase, “I didn’t sign up for this” and have been wondering what exactly I DID sign up for.  What did I expect?  Easy?  Because when has it ever been particularly easy?

Jake’s doctorate isn’t the shore I’m paddling toward.  It’s an island.  It’s a milestone.  I’ll be the first to kick medical school out of the boat when we get there but am not blind to the fact that something will take its place that will again cause me to feel like I'm entitled to something different. 

But it’s like Miller said: “The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.” 

The first eight definitions of the word “lie” have to do with something that remains motionless.  Helpless.  Defenseless.  That’s what happens when we believe a lie isn’t it?  It is meant to paralyze us.  Take away our direction.  Keep our boat in place.

It always helps me once I detect the lie.  Instead of a weight that hangs heavy around my heart, it becomes a fly that just needs swatted away once in a while.    It’s still annoying, yes, but it’s not enough to keep me from paddling. 

And so, I guess I’ll get molded into a better person or whatever.  But do NOT ask me to start sitting with medical school at lunch. 

I hate that guy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


word of the day: filter \ˈfil-tər\ a device that is used to remove something unwanted; holding back elements or modifying the appearance of something

I went a week without any filters on Instagram.  I know.  Radical.

In addition to no filters, I decided to only take one picture of any particular moment I wanted to capture. No exceptions.


I realized I was trying too hard to take the perfect picture on Lily’s birthday back in May.   For the entire day, I tried to record her showing me how old she was on her fingers—a trick she had already mastered.  An entire day.  She wouldn’t do it once.  I even had a video of her doing it a few weeks prior, but she wasn’t one then1, and I had this need for a live birthday shot.  I literally turned all crazy mom on her as we kept trying.  All day. 

I finally put my phone aside and let her actually be a one-year-old on her birthday, but it really got me thinking about my need to post perfectly filtered pictures to my social media outlets. 

And so, my personal challenge was born. Only the first picture of a moment. No added filter.  Here are a few of the shots I got:

Not great. I didn't even post them all, quite frankly, because I didn't want to annoy all my Instagram followers with an onslaught of poor quality and blurriness.  

On Monday, when the idea popped into my mind, I knew it would culminate with a piece of writing.  I thought, though, that it would be a reflection of how I hide behind filters and only post these facades of the beautiful things I do all day.  I thought I would compare the ratio of beautiful pictures I take of Lily to the blurry or screaming pictures I don’t take of her.  I could write about that (it truly is a lot blurrier around here than filters allow), but that’s not really what the pictures taught me. 

In my case this week, one take, no filter pictures told a better story.   They had more emotions and more movement.  They weren’t the result of a staged third attempt because I hadn’t quite captured the face perfectly the first time Lily made it.  The picture was the moment and told the story itself.

They were better because they were worse (from a strictly philosophical stance).

But more importantly, I found myself enjoying moments more.  I would snap one picture, then put my phone down and just watch Lily.  It’s something I’ve been trying to do more anyway—take less real pictures and more mental ones.  To be fully present in situations rather than trying to capture every awesome moment on film (because I could—Lily is awesome). 

And what I’ve found is that when I’m taking mental pictures, I’m remembering the moment better because I’m actually present in it.  I’m not just a prop. 

So, I guess, here’s to being present.  To living in moments rather than trying to capture them perfectly. 

Lily’s not about that anyway.

1 She also had just woken up and her hair was a mess.  Gasp.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


word of the day: crisis \ˈkrī-səs\ an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life; the turning point

I bought a tube of lipstick the other day1.

I saw a picture of a girl wearing lipstick in a magazine that mysteriously gets delivered to my house every month and decided in that moment that I had to own some.  It’s noteworthy that I bought a tube of lipstick because I’ve never worn lipstick a day in my life.  But now I do.  And, I even like it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that tube of lipstick since I bought it.  Mostly, I think, because it reminds me of my mom.  Unlike me, my mom has always worn lipstick.  Hers always came in really shiny gold tubes, and I loved to look at them when I was a kid.  Moms wear lipstick, at least mine always did and does, so when I bought that tube, I had this feeling that I was really solidifying myself in the ranks of motherhood.  Or, in the least, I was finally becoming an adult.  Or something.

I guess, for a very small moment, I wrapped my identity up in the idea of lipstick.  Which seems a strange thing to think unless you know me very well, and then you might know that I’m often thinking about identity (it’s a recurring theme in my life).

I wrote my last post about how motherhood has not so much changed me as it has revealed me.  Since then, I don’t think I have done as much thinking about identity as I really should have2.

You see, I think I lost sight of who I am for a while. I forgot amidst the diapers and papers and books and toys and dinners and studying and everything else that spins around on my plates that, I am, above all, a citizen with God’s people and a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2: 19 &22).

I am not defined by the fact that I’m a mom any more than I’m defined by a silly little tube of lipstick (Coral Ambition to be very specific.  I just took a quick break to put some on). 

I had a thought recently that I have been having somewhat of a suppressed identity crisis. That was quickly followed by a thought that an identity crisis sounded like a pretty bad thing.  Then that really got me thinking.

Isn’t every day an identity crisis?  Words like significant event, radical change, and turning point stand out to me in the definition.  It seems to me that each day I am faced with a choice of what to believe about myself.  The significance of that choice is obvious and the implications are endless.  When I believe lies about who I am and when I lose focus on Truth, I succumb to things like self-pity, fear, despair (and on and on and on). 

I guess I concluded that an identity crisis is not such a bad thing.  A crisis is just a turning point, after all.  It’s what you choose in those moments that have the power to change you.  And, in this moment, I choose Truth.

And lipstick, obviously. 
She knows what's up.  It's like she can see inside my soul.
1 I recognize that this is rather a strange way to begin a blog post after complete radio silence for 6 months and poor “blogsmanship” for the entire year prior.  There are reasons, yes of course there are reasons, but none of them are yet print ready.  So, there you go.  In case you were wondering.

2 This is the most likely reason for the previously mentioned “complete radio silence.” And by “most likely,” I know that it is.  I just don’t want to write about it yet.