follow through failure


I’m low on deep thoughts today. I’m not low on failure. I could actually write another post on my resentment of invisible servanthood based on how last night went. Lilly was up half a dozen times. For a while, it was hourly. Hourly. She’s 14 months old. And my husband was legitimately annoyed by her volume, since she’s still in our room. And then I got resentful about his annoyance—he doesn’t have to get up with her all night long—and I huffed and glared in the direction of my sleeping husband.

So mature.

But I already wrote that post yesterday, so if you want to read it, feel free to do so with the above details.

Otherwise, I’m kind of out.

I was bugged by that until facebook reminded me that last October 7, I had the same issue. Apparently, the seventh day is where I hit a wall. I run out of words for a day, which combines with a schedule that doesn’t allow a lot of time to find them and a crappy night’s sleep, and I take a pause. Or take a fake pause, because I write about not being able to write. Because I’m weird like that.

It’s cool. I’ll be back. With (I’m sure) plenty more failure.


This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

31days of grace in failure 4-3



habits, minigoals, and grace enough for all october

As many of you know, I’ve been exploring small habits one at a time throughout the year. In October, I committed to attempting my version of the Write31days challenge: I decided I’d try to post as many days of the month as possible.

Here are some things I learned…

I can make time.

Writing has always, always been a thing that I’ve done “in the cracks.” I sit and type when I have a chunk of time and something in my head to say. Last month I learned that, with very few exceptions, I can make it happen.

The more I write, the more there is to write.

Starting out, I figured I’d be able to find a good week’s worth of posts to write. I had a few that I’d started in my “drafts” folder that I could flesh out, and a few others kind of bubbling in the back of my head. I really had no idea what would happen once those were used up.

I’ve known for the last several years that the more frequently I thank God for little gifts He’s given, the more gifts I am able to see. Shawn Achor explains in his TED talk how practicing gratitude rewires our brains to look for gifts (and improves happiness.) I think writing is similar. The more I wrote, the more I was looking for the lessons and grace in whatever I saw, so I had more thoughts in my brain that could become a couple hundred words. Sitting and waiting for inspiration (my normal practice) isn’t necessary.

The more I write, the better I feel.

This hardly counts as a thing I learned. I know writing makes me come alive. And alive, while sometimes terrifying, is a good way to feel. In October, I was sitting in some tragedy. I believe that, though I didn’t realize what kind of month I was going to have, the decision to write a lot more than normal was providential. It kept my heart looking up and looking around for gifts and for grace, and kept me processing a lot of the Big Feelings I was having.

The more I write, the crappier my housekeeping is.

…and there’s the big catch. I can find words and motivation to write most days. I can even manage to steal a couple hours to do it quite frequently. (My average blog post runs probably 90 minutes to two hours from sitting down to sharing it with you all.) But I can’t do all that every day and keep my home in the kind of order that feels best to me and stay fully engaged with my kids. (Most of those posts happened while the little two napped and the bigger two had screen time. I’m philosophically ok with this amount of screen time on occasion, but they get awfully squirrelly if I utilize the electronic babysitter too long or too frequently.) My laundry piled up, either to wash or to fold and put away. Dishes stayed undone. None of this sounds like a big deal. And really it isn’t unless you appreciate the kind of mental energy drain caused for me by that constant disorder.

Sometimes the benefit outweighs the cost.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

I want to find a rhythm that allows me to write more frequently than once a week (or 2-3 times a month, as the case may be) while still maintaining basic order. I have no idea what that rhythm might be. For now, I’m going to shoot for two to three posts per week, not because there’s any magic to that frequency so much as that it’s something to try and seems like a reasonable starting point in the quest for balance.


The month is a quarter over already. (Can you believe this? I think it’s a trick of the later months of the year. Christmas is pretty much tomorrow, and I’m likely unprepared for it.) Since it’s already passing and I’m just now considering habits, I’m going to go with one that I already kind of accidentally kept.

My hope for November (and it’s a little nebulous) is to show up as authentically as possible in my relationships.

I’m pretty sure that’s its own post (or possibly series) so I’ll save the stories for next time. (Please come back! I’m kind of excited about it.)

I’m not the body image lady

(photo credit: 3-year-old Jenna. Because if I have a genuine smile for a camera, it’s probably because my baby is holding it. Otherwise, I don’t really feel like having myself captured on camera.)

I have some issues with attention.

I vacillate internally between hiding and full-on diva.

Every time I hit “publish” here, I’m absolutely terrified that nobody will notice or care. At the same time, I’m equally afraid that people will. “Look at me! Look at me! NO DON’T LOOK AT ME! STOP IT!!!”

Like I said. Issues.

So when I have a post that resonates strongly, the inside of my head gets a little noisy. Part of me wants to run away and hide, or at least go back to my normal 15 readers (most of whom I know) and then there’s an attention whore part that’s yelling do it again! and trying to figure out if I can be the person who writes on the popular topic all. the. time.

It’s always the body image posts. Clearly the world needs people speaking positively into that area.

That person isn’t me.

Because that sounds dreadfully boring, writing one topic all the time.

Also? I suck at body image.

I mean, I can totally talk about thinking kindly about our bodies. And sometimes I can even do it. But a lot of days, maybe most, I’m just not that good at it.

I see my weird postpartum apron (you know- the saggy part where my belly deflated) and cringe.

I see the frowny lines between my eyebrows and think,  “yikes, I’m developing grumpy old lady wrinkles! I want smile lines, not grouchy lines!” 

I step on the scale and see a number I’d be happy to cut in half. (Ok, that’s a lie. I understand that if I actually cut my weight by half, I’d be a very sick woman. But half my weight is a pretty reasonable number for someone just a tad shorter.)

I look at cute clothes at stores and think “I should try that!” followed immediately by, “Nope, there’s zero chance that’d work on my body… if they even have a size that fits.”

I’m frequently tempted by self-abusive diets or exercise regimens.

Now, before you stage an intervention or shower me with reassuring compliments, I should point out that I know.

I know I need to focus on health, not externals.

I need to look for the things about my body that I like. My eyes, for instance. Two of my beautiful babies have those, and I’ve never been more grateful for brown eyes.

I really do mean to pay more attention to what my body has done for me rather than what I wish it looked like.

I get that I need to be grateful for a relatively healthy body that carries me (and a lot of kids) from place to place with minimal complaint.

I understand (weird as this one sounds) that I need to think of my body as her rather than it because I would never talk about—or even think about—another woman the way I’m tempted to think about my body when I forget that it actually contains me.

Sometimes I’m good with all of it.

And sometimes? I’m just not.

I need you guys to know that I’m not the body image lady. I can’t ever be that person. I’m way too in-process to be that.

But I also want you to understand that there really is still grace enough for the crappy fat days. This isn’t where I want to live and certainly not where I want you (or, heaven forbid, my girls) to stay, but when we land there for a bit, it’s going to be okay. We’re all here sometimes.

This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. Or, you know, lots of days in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

owning who you are

I had kind of a weird experience today. For a bunch of logistical reasons, today was the day that I made a facebook page for the blog. It’s not a huge big deal. It’s a facebook page. But I had to pick what kind of page it was, what kind of work I do.

So there’s a facebook page that proudly says “Robin D Chapman|Writer.”

This isn’t even really about that. The thing is, it’s really uncomfortable to assign myself the title of “writer.” Why is that so hard? This is part of who I am. It’s a thing God’s given me that makes me come alive. That’s a good thing. But throwing it out there as part of my identity feels…


That’s what that is.

I think (and I could be wrong- I’m coming up with this on the fly) that perhaps the more core something is, the harder it may be to identify yourself that way.

I’m a mom. That’s my job description. But at the core of me? I nurture souls. I teach my babies how to be people. It’s somehow by the grace of God and in His strength, my job to lead them in following Him. All of that? Much scarier and more intimidating than “Mom.” I mean, you could argue that it’s contained in the word “mom,” but I’m not convinced that’s true. There are a lot of people who are moms that don’t necessarily have that set of things as goals.

When I state the core part of my “mom” job, it opens me-the core of me-up to scrutiny. “Mom” means so many things. For the most part, it seems to imply an endless list of practical tasks. If you imply that I’m doing a crappy job as a mom, it stings, but I can shrug it off as a difference of values. Maybe your criticism comes from the fact that your values for parenting are different than mine. But if I actually lay out those values, well… then I’m accountable to them.

Likewise, I can say I’m Andrew’s wife, and that can mean the most mundane things. Owning the values of respecting him, supporting him, loving him, helping him become the person God made him to be? Even just typing it makes me cringe a little. Not that those values are so unusual, necessarily, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of people are explicit about them.

And when I say I have a blog, that’s fine. When I say I’m a writer? That opens up a little corner of my soul, possibly for public comment.

When I say I am a Christian, I am identifying with a big group of people with a variety of beliefs and practices. When I say I’m a sinner saved by grace, trying (often failing) to obey God and be who He made me… well, some of you are nodding along, because we share values. But there’s a set of you reading who are kind of writing me off as a weirdo. My church attendance, you could handle. But when I start talking about truly believing it and trying to live it as who I am? Weird. And I don’t really want you to think I’m weird, and it feels awkward to just say it.

Talking about what we do is easy. Talking about who we are is terrifying.

Talking about what we do is safe.

Sharing who we are is… well… not. But that’s how authenticity is. Let’s do that.

This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

ordinary days

So we’re on day 6 of the write31days challenge. And, while none of the last several days has been exceptional, today seems especially ordinary. (Is “especially ordinary” even a thing? I think that’s like “very unique,” which is decidedly NOT a thing—there aren’t gradients of uniqueness. A thing is unlike all others-unique-or it isn’t.) (I’m done now.)

At any rate, what I mean is that today, more than the last five, I seriously can’t find a crack to write in. All my writing is done “in the cracks”… I don’t have time set aside for it usually, so I just squeeze it in whenever I can. (The last several days have been aided by PBS Kids.) There’s always other, more pressing things to do, but, if I’m looking, I can usually find a crack- a little spot where I can at least sit down to start.

Today? Not so much. The laundry that I’ve neglected the last several days has outgrown the laundry baskets that I own. Nap time was obliterated for an appointment I needed to take Lilly to. I need to make dinner. Normal life needs to happen. Lots of discipline needs to happen. (Currently the little two are getting tiny half-naps and the big two are coloring within two feet of me, because I need to be able to see them at all times today. Some days are like that.) I’ve outlawed the word “mom” and required that they address me as “Your Highness” because I CANNOT HEAR THE “M” WORD ANY MORE TIMES. (It’s not working.)  There are pencil shavings all over the table because the 4-year-old decided that she wanted to use it to decorate for halloween because you get candy on halloween. (I have no idea. Whatever. It’s keeping her quiet. So there’s a crack I can write in.) 

I don’t say all this to complain about my life (It’s awesome in a mundane way that I really love) and I don’t say this to make excuses for shoddy writing (though, you know, you could take it into consideration.)

The point (if I have one) is this:

Today is exactly the right kind of day to look for and share typical, ordinary grace. Because my normal days require a lot of grace.

So here are a few of the the gifts that I see from here, in no particular order:

  • the sunshine is glorious.
  • the big girls are hanging out on the back porch for a minute, so I have a few seconds of quiet.
  • the babies are sleeping.
  • though the day has been overwhelming, my internal response is more sigh than YELL.
  • real fruit popsicles count as legit healthy snacks.
  • there isn’t yet snow on the ground.
  • my husband built a fire, so our house is toasty warm.
  • he’ll be home for dinner tonight, as will our dear friend Sarah.
  • we’re only doing kindergarten, so strategic read-alouds can be the entire day’s work.
  • Lilly may be getting help with her (super minor) feeding issues.

This is a really small selection, and as I read back over it, it’s pretty boring. But that is exactly the point. Daily grace isn’t necessarily flashy. It’s mundane and just enough for now.

And it’s beautiful.

Can you take a 15-second break and look for the gifts around you? What do you see? I’d love to hear about it.

This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

grace enough for 31 whole days

Hi! I’m participating in write31days this year, for the first time ever… and I’m doing it wrong. I have no big plan; I’m just trying to write every day. I have no idea what is going to come out! My hope is, as always, to look for grace in my stories and to share that grace with you.

Here’s where I’m linking all the posts, whatever they become:

  • day 1: October
  • day 2: on looking up
  • day 3: getting my body back
  • day 4: in defense of social media
  • day 5: Lilly and Hope (miscarriage)
  • day 6: ordinary days
  • day 7: on the seventh day…
  • day 8
  • day 9: sharing your art
  • day 10: the freedom of seasons
  • day 11: focus, light, and perspective
  • day 12: faith to be strong
  • day 13
  • day 14
  • day 15
  • day 16: wide open
  • day 17: owning who you are
  • day 18
  • day 19: homeschooling so far
  • day 20: they draw me smiling
  • day 21
  • day 22: reclaiming quiet
  • day 23
  • day 24: I’m not the body image lady
  • day 25: voting and revisiting Tozer
  • day 26: traveling for its own sake
  • day 27: grace in ridiculousness
  • day 28
  • day 29: (a sad story, but a good God)
  • day 30
  • day 31
  • recap: habits, minigoals, and grace enough for all october

October (day 1)

Things have gone a little off the rails here lately. A million big and little things have conspired and I haven’t written but a couple posts since Lilly’s birth. I know, it’s fine… I have four kids five and under and nobody really expects me to publish daily. Whatever. I can hardly make coherent sentences, let alone full posts. (And to the people who ask me if I’d ever write a book? Hahahaha!)

But I need to write.

My brain feels much better when I do. I know this. Even if it’s utter nonsense. Even the rambling words I’ve typed to now on this post are making my brain feel a bit clearer.

And this year’s minigoal experiment fell apart as well. I haven’t made one since July, and that was kind of a cop out… a goal to have fewer goals. I knew going in that August and September were going to be a little sketchy on the habits front, but it’s time to start working back toward structure now.

And then it’s October. The month where bloggers all over challenge themselves to write daily for 31 days on a single topic.

I am not going to write for 31 days on a single topic. (Remember how I said I can barely formulate sentences these days?) What I am going to do is try to write and publish as many days of the month as I can. This is probably a misguided attempt to kill all the birds with a single stone that’s a little too big to be hurling (and why am I throwing rocks at birds, anyway?) but I’m going to give it a go just the same.  I imagine the posts will be short, and probably mediocre, but it’s time to go forward. Wish me luck. Read as you wish. Don’t judge me if I quit on day four. Or, you know, two.

This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.