Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Five


Dear Sam,

In a few short weeks you will be in kindergarten. I don't know how this happened. It was just yesterday you were born, wasn't it? 



You completely swept me off my feet in moments. I was blissfully in love with you the second I saw your face. And the love affair has never stopped. 
You gave me a run for my money when you turned a year old, forcing me many days to tap out with dad and spend time in my closet, either eating chocolate and crying or both. You wanted what you wanted and that was it. No amount of reasoning would pacify you. And I loved you too much to let you become a monster. So we had at it daily. 

The whole of year one to two with you is, frankly, a blank. You were exhausting and terrifying- throwing yourself headlong into anything and everything, you had no fear and we were afraid you never would. I spent days following you, saving you from one catastrophe or another, and nights lying awake worrying that you would never, ever develop common sense. Ever. Like for real, Sam. One day when I am old and gray I will straight up make you follow me around while I ram my hover round into various objects. 
But you made me laugh, every single day. Which kept me from going crazy. 

Then, you learned to talk. Your frustrations melted into nothing as you began to communicate. Your tantrums and screams and daredevil antics dovetailed into words and actions and love. You became a snuggler, a kisser, a hugger. To me and to strangers. (It was never weird. At all. Ahem.)
You began to show the density and breadth of your heart and your soul when you turned three. The sweetness you had hidden came to the light, and every person you met fell in love with you. One look from your big brown eyes and they were hooked. You became compassionate, and kind. You gave others your words in abundance and your love in spades. I watched you unfold and knew all of those night of lying awake, praying...somewhere God was listening. And because of the chaos, the calm was so much sweeter. 
You turned four on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. We wrote your name in the sand and had cupcakes at a table with a crisp white tablecloth. Everyone on the boat knew your name, and everyone loved you. You high fived and hugged your way through the whole seven days of the cruise, believing without doubt that every passenger was there to celebrate you. I never told you different. And never will.
I never thought life with you could get any better.
 

But it has. Because now you are five. Halfway through your fifth year. And you have become the heart and soul of our family. You are a feeler, picking up on emotions and knowing just when I need a hug. You battle endlessly with your sister, but are the first to defend her if she should get into trouble. You love your family and your friends with a quiet loyalty that speaks to the depth of your God given compassion. And just like your sister, you are endlessly kind. 
Life with you, my sweet and talkative little man, is amazing. I see the world through your eyes as you speak. You convey emotions behind your scope in your own five year old words. You don't like to sit still but you will lay next to me for hours if I am not feeling well. You are all heart.
 And soon I will walk you to the kindergarten doors. 
As you pass the threshold, a new world is waiting. A world of learning and friendships and responsibility. You will maybe cry for me...and I won't be there. You will write your name in increasingly better penmanship. You will put sounds together. You will begin the process of reading. 
Without me. 
And it's as it should be. The whole process of parenting is like flying a kite- a constant reeling in and letting go. You will learn so many things, not just about the world, but about yourself. You will develop strengths and define your interests.
My influence will be less, and your reliance on yourself will increase tenfold.
It's not a day I look forward to. I know you will do amazingly well. You are equipped with the character you need to make friends and learn. I know because we have worked on those things together for five years. 

And so, in a few short weeks you will be mine still, but you will also belong more to the world. It will open to you as you learn. With every new skill and every new task you tackle, you will be drawn farther into your own strength. 

But oh how I will miss you. Your little voice in my ear. Your arms around my neck. Your presence as I walk the grocery store aisles, asking for Oreos and Doritos and twinkies while I load the cart with apples and carrots and milk. 
The house will be quiet and still. But my heart will be full. Because you, my lovely sweet boy, have given me enough love to fill me up. 
My love will be with you, every step you take. It goes with you as you cut and color, play and laugh. It will be there, in your own heart if you cry. It will be there because there is nowhere on this earth or no situation you will face that my prayers are not already there. 
Go out into the world, into your classroom, and into the life that is waiting for you. I will be here when you return, waiting and loving you, forever. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

And now you are eight...


Dear Lily,

On the day you were born, I was scared. My life was changing faster that I could comprehend. You were no longer an idea, but a force within my body. You moved slowly through me, and as you did who I was before was getting pulled away. I was scared to love you, scared of not knowing how to be your mom.

Then I looked into your eyes for the first time. 

The moment you were born I felt you like lightning in my soul. You were always meant to be. God  chose you to be my daughter. Which also means he chose me to be your mother.


In that moment, we were both born. You as my child, and me as a mother. 
 
In that moment, we became a family. 

You are eight now, just beginning to get a grasp on this world and what it means to be human. We still shield you from most of the ugliness of life, but you see more now than you used to. You ask more questions and you show grace and compassion with your actions.

You are exactly what this world needs. 

You are soft, and kind, and caring. You truly love and show your love. You are gentle and fierce with your affection. You are heedless of hurt when you rush in to give somebody your comfort. 

There will be many times this world will hurt you. There will be many times you will look at things and say that it is not supposed to be this way. And you are right. But love the world anyway. 

There are people who will betray you and take advantage of your kind nature. They will manipulate you and hurt you. But don't be afraid to love, my sweetheart. Being broken over loving somebody hurts far less than being broken by loneliness. God created us to love. I believe he also created us to be broken by that love...because the brokenness inevitably leads us to reach for MORE...and the more is often our Savior. 

Be an avid fan of your fellow humans. Watch them, listen to them, study them. Reach out with your words, with a kind touch, with your hands to help. Never be afraid to stand up, to step in, or to give of yourself to somebody in need. God is using you as His hands and feet. You are often His eyes and his instrument. Be open to that. Listen to that voice in your heart that tells you to ask the hard questions, or to be silent and listen. People often need to just know they are loved. Be that person who loves them.

Travel the world. See things I've never seen. Go places I've never gone. Learn from other cultures, and bring that learning back home. Keep in your heart the teaching of other places. Be still in these places, soak up what is offered. Let your eyes take in the wonder of nature and life other than what is in your own backyard. Keep the wonder of life in your bones and in your heart. Never stop seeing Gods great presence in the ocean, in the sand under your feet, in far off shores. Watch the stars, really look at the heavens. See the passing bird and let your feet go bare in the grass. Be in wonder of the world that was created for you.

Pray. Pray without ceasing. If you feel compelled to pray in the open, among others, do so. Do not be embarrassed to love Jesus. Do not be scared to show your dependence on something bigger than yourself. If you put God first and foremost now, in all that you do, you will always have a compass to point you the right direction. You may be lonely at times, and you may be looked at sideways. You may not be "cool". But fix your eyes on the eternal light, and the daily struggles of life will become much clearer by its radiance.

Always reach beyond yourself. Don't dumb yourself down for a boy, to look cooler, to be in with a certain crowd. You are brilliant and gifted. Own it. Study what interests you. Pursue those interests as far as you can. Find what makes your soul come alive and do it. You may find that being a mother is that thing. You may find that digging in the sand of Egypt for ancient relics is that thing. You might sing, or paint, or dance. If you love it, you will have passion. Passion makes you rich beyond money. 

Know that in all things, you are held within my heart. I am not only your mother, I am your soft place. In any and all things I will be here to help you, to cheer you on, to wipe your tears. Winning or losing I am on your side. Mistakes and bad judgement cannot separate my love from you. I am your eternal companion until I draw my last breath, my love. Go out into this big world and change it all, knowing you always have my heart to come home to. 

You are eight. You still nap in my arms. You still sing silly songs in the shower. You read books in your nightgown and socks. You eat cinnamon toast and you turn your nose up at anything green. You are a child still, but deep within you lies the soul of a world changer. I not only love you, I believe in your ability to be more, do more, live life in abundance. 

I will always love you to the moon and back, my sweet 8 year old girl. 









I'm participating in a blog circle with a great group of women! Please hop on over and check out the next blog! 

http://www.thelavenderdrop.com/2015/06/lemon-grapefruit-body-scrub.html

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Born this Way



The world is full of negative, nasty, cutting words. Words that injure and wound and hurt. 

Gossip, venom, comparison, judgement. Envy and hatred. All poured of of lips into the ears of others. 

Negativity. Sarcasm. Poisonous ideas about others.

What are we all shielding ourselves from with these things? What are we falsely protecting ourselves from? 

I say we, because I was embroiled in it as well. I gave in to it. It felt good. It was never right, and it never set well with my soul. But I did it. 

And then circumstances and God swept in and cleanly incised away all need for me to ever do it again. 

It hurt. It was painful and it was wrenching. But it was also necessary and good. 

That is not who I am. It's not what I was born to be. It's not what resonates with my soul or makes me whole. 

But it was a helluva lot easier than being vulnerable. And being open. Loving. Holding my heart out. 

That's who I am though. Born to be open and giving. Created to love and to serve. It's what makes my soul sing. It's where I feel the most myself- when I am building up others.

I'm tired of trying to be what I'm not. Of pretending to be tough. I'm not tough. I'm strong, but I'm also soft. And I'm ready to be soft for others- a soft place to fall, a safe place to be. 

I want to be a radical encourager. I want to help and lift and give until I'm empty of the relentless need to do so.

I want to stop biting my tongue and pretending to not feel. 

We all feel. We all need each other. We all need somebody to say "You are doing a good job. You are a great mother. You are wonderful. You are trying so hard." 

So many are scared to be the person to say it to others. It's hard to be that open. But if we don't do it, who will? People are crying to be loved. People are wounded and chipped at, day by day, by other peoples words. 

Why not be the one who heals those wounds? Why not be a light in the dark? 

I'm tired of holding back for fear of the sideways looks or the suspicion that I am not sincere. I'm tired of not saying "I love you." I'm weary of holding back my heart because I'm afraid of it being broken again.

Maybe the best thing I can learn is not that my heart can be broken, but that it can mend and be stronger? That it can keep beating despite the wounds? That the One who created me also created my heart and soul to be just as it is... Sentimental, soft, and open.

I'm afraid, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm chasing joy. And for me, joy comes when I serve others. When I encourage and love and build them up. When something I say lights them up from the inside- that is where I want to be. Right there, in that moment. 

To the other radically joyful encouragers out there: I know it's scary. It's hard to put it all out there and risk being rejected. 

The world needs what you have to give. It needs love and words and light. 

It needs you, and through you, Him. 










Monday, January 26, 2015

The Rite Aid Counter Realization

It was one of those mornings...

When the boy is sick and there's no sleep and the coffee isn't enough and my heart hurts for reasons I cannot speak about, for fear of the tears falling.

I ache and I need for something I don't even have words for. It's a God shaped void that only God can fill. 

But life beckons. And people depend on me. So I take the girl to school and the boy home. I take the temp and give the meds and put a load of laundry in. 

I take him to the doctor. I get the script and head to the pharmacy.

The total is 77 dollars. It's a shocking amount for one bottle of medicine. 

I cry, right there in the pharmacy. Not because I cannot buy the medicine. I can. I'm able to reach my hand into my purse and pay for this medicine that will make my baby well.

 I cried because as I stood there, my heart connected with all of the women who had stood in my place at that counter, frantically adding up sums and counting pennies in their heads. Subtracting food from the weekly budget. Maybe adding up her own missed meals to counteract the expense of medicine to help her baby get better.

Women just like me. Mothers who want their kids to just be well.

I was standing in the same place hundreds of other moms have stood before. Suddenly I was humbled by my own short sightedness. 

Like tide, God rushed in to fill the void in my heart. 

I've experienced loss, yes. We all have to some degree. We've all been changed by the lives we've lived and the people we've lost.

I've been wronged, and I have wronged others. I've hurt and been hurt. 

My feet have walked paths carved out by others, and wandered on my own through placed untread.

I am the sum of my experiences, but I do not have to be defined by them.

When the wounds rise up in my heart and I'm tempted to sing my own sorrowful song I will remember that I am connected to all others in my world. When I am keeping my head down and watching my own feet, I am not looking for ways to serve others. I am blinded by my own worries... So much so that I miss the chance to carry the burden of somebody else. 

Motherhood is the greatest equalizer I have ever known. It is powerful and beautiful. We belong, each of us, to each other. We were created to serve and to give. We were made to love each other, support each other, and love each other's babies.

That small moment standing at the pharmacy counter was God given. I was meant to stand there at that very time, confusing the clerk with my tears. 

I was meant to say to her, this somewhat gruff woman- "I can afford this medicine. But what about people who CAN'T?" 

And she was meant to look at me with her own tears and say- "I see it everyday, honey."

In that moment we were both just humans, both mothers, and both feeling for others just like us. It was beautiful and terrible all at once. 

We are here in each other's spheres for a reason. I believe that. I know you are reading this not because of me, but because of God. Maybe because you are in the midst of your own sad day.(If so, hello. You are loved.)

Or maybe it's because you had your own counter moment.

Tomorrow I'm going to get my eyes off of my sad song and focus them on the horizon. I'm going to look people in the eyes and be kind. I'm going to be the text message that says "I love you" or the person in front of you paying for your coffee, because coffee is important and essential to un-sad a day. I'm going to be the one meeting your eyes and smiling. 

( You will be suspicious but I promise I'm harmless. Kind of. )

Will you join me? In three acts of kindness for three other moms? Maybe you will create your own counter moment for someone else. 

Radical un-sadness. Creating moments of grace for others.

Lets do this. 





Saturday, January 10, 2015

Needed

Blurry and racing and profoundly happy. That's how these past few weeks with my children and husband have been. The power of togetherness is often astounding to me- how in just a few hours we can be so assured of our place in the world and how much we are needed.

I am needed, here, in this world. In this home. In this family.

I'm needed to kiss the boo boos, to find the missing sock, to look at the lego creations and to scrub little heads at the end of the day.

I'm needed to be a balm to wounded emotions and to rock and hold stillness when their world is chaos and too big, too big. 

I'm needed to be mommy, to be the cook, the maid, the laundress. I'm needed. 

Sometimes I resent this. Let's just be real. Sometimes I greet the relentless calls of "Mommy!" With a less than kind "WHAT?!" Sometimes I grumble as I clean the crumbs and wash the pants and oh my gosh for the thousandth time hang up the jackets and make the beds.

Then there is the upturned face to me. The asking for me to walk them to bed- to brush and make braids. To giggle and to tickle and to rub heads while they glide into sleep- to peaceful dreams in a safe house with a mommy and daddy who love them. 

There is safety in the need. There is a tethering to this earth and to these tiny people who would be lost without me. It's often hard and grinding, but it IS. The need exists for me, just as I am, to exist. To love and to see them. To ask the hard questions and to ask the small ones. To get the breakfast and to dry the tears. 

I am necessary. I am valued. I am loved.

I lost sight of this precious gift. I lost it under the cottony darkness of circumstance and profound hurt. I lost it under problems of my own making and problems made for me. 

I lost sight of the eternal things in the light of passing troubles. 

I sat weighted under the cloud of pain while my children waited for me to stop looking at my storm and realize that the sunshine was RIGHT HERE. Right here. The sun and light was in the outstretched small hand, in the smell of baby lotion, in the school folders and in the morning coffee with a boy snuggled on my lap. The light was in watching the dawn while packing lunches and kissing them goodnight as the sun went down. 

The light was here, in spite of my overlooking it. I was needed, despite my need to turn away to other fleeting, temporary things.

I know one day the clouds will roll in again. Life is peaks and valleys. It's pain and hurt and love and joy and beauty. Life IS. 

But what comfort in knowing that in spite of my half waking life and keeping my eyes averted from what I should have been seeing, they waited. 

They waited for me to return to myself. To see them again, and to move past my internal struggle. They loved me through my sleepwalk, and they loved me in spite of my distraction. 

They loved me. And they needed me. 

They always will. It's a sweet burden, one I will never take for granted again. 

I am needed. And I am grateful to be. 






Friday, November 14, 2014

Double Edged

I have this friend. She is beautiful and special and a magnificently thoughtful mother. She and I shared too few moments together when she lived here, and she has long since moved to the other side of the country, but we have a bond. 

We both love and adore our savior and our children. And we both have our gray sky days.

Depression. It's a heavy, weighted word. It can sometimes be overlaid with shades of shame. And it is an often misunderstood disease. Even I don't understand it, and I've been treading its waters since puberty. 

For me and my own particular journey, depression is not something that makes me sad. It is something that makes me nothing. It slowly leaks all of the color and joy from my world, and presses me down so hard that I am foggy and sleepy and restless. It pulls me away from family and friends and makes me a quiet and gray person who lives on the edges of life, not IN IT.

The problem with depression is that it is also sneaky, gradual, and relentless. It can tug pieces of you away until you don't fully realize you have unraveled. It starts very small and you gradually give up more and more to it. You may realize these defeats for what they are- a new cycle of the disease- or you may be full in it when somebody else points it out to you. Either way is hard, but the former is best. The more you know your disease, the more armed you are to fight it. 

My friend and I share this battle. Despite both of us being very strong in our faith. Despite us both being good, dedicated mothers. If prayer could cure depression, neither of us would have it. If focusing on our blessings could make it go away, we would never have to fight it off. 

I've struggled with why I have this particular challenge forever. The other morning I woke up to a gray day. I knew I'd have to fight for energy to push through. I was praying about it when I felt God speaking to me. An idea I had never had before.

What if I was struggling with this because it was forearming me to be able to help my children when they battled it? 

In one single moment, this battle I have been fighting for 25 years turned into a blessing. 

Depression is hereditary, coming down to me from both sides. It's almost a given that one of my children will have to go head to head with it at some point. 

And I will be able to help them so much more than if I didn't know what it was like to feel gray in a world full of sunshine. 

I texted my friend, who confirmed for me that her mom tells her the same thing all the time- that she has so many more tools to help her children should they need it. 

Wow. Just...wow. 

I've been changing my perspective about God lately. Trying to work my mind around the fact that HE  sees the whole picture- every single moment of my life, every mistake, every struggle. None of it is a surprise to Him. He sees the masterpiece as He paints it. I only see a postage stamp sized view of it. 

I know I don't ever fight this disease alone- but now I know I may be fighting it for a PURPOSE. 

This realization is just more confirmation of how God carries me. Every single thing, good and bad, in my life can and should be used to propel me forward. Mistakes teach us what not to do, what doesn't work, and the beauty of grace. Blessings teach us gratitude. And struggles teach us to rely on God and dig deep for His help. 

All of it can be used to teach our children about life. Even the things that we have been shamed about- our struggles with depression, our feelings of worth, our deepest hurts. 

I love an amazing God, who helps me to overcome all things. But who also uses the broken things of this world to teach me more about who I am, and what I can do. In turn I can teach my children the same thing. 

John 16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Jeremiah 33:6 - Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.

Isaiah chapter 9:

2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, [and] not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, [and] as [men] rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5 For every battle of the warrior [is] with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but [this] shall be with burning [and] fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Crush




The tears started hard and fast in the carpool lane. A wave of sadness and loss that I didn't expect, had no inkling of, and couldn't hold back. I was holding my rosary, praying for those both in and out of my life. And grief swelled like the ocean in my soul. 

So I cried. Behind my glasses. Big sobs and hard tears that felt....awesome.

I've been living behind a wall. A huge, crushing, brick edifice I built myself. I put it up, stone by stone, out of self protection and fear. 

Sometimes love seems like an invitation to pain. An outstretched hand to a crushing blow. An offering that will surely, one day, be rebuffed and rejected. 

So I built this wall to keep everyone out. With evey instance of pain and rejection stone went higher. 

Until I was insulated, isolated. 

Safe. But alone. 

This is not how God designed me. This is not being true to the nature Christ died to give to me. I am not meant to hide my love, to squash my feelings, or to turn my back.

I've been led here, to this point, by life. But that doesn't make it right. 

I've been crushed. What I thought was true and good and whole has been lost. What I created and nurtured and strove for- relationships of depth and mutual care- have been removed from me. 

I've been pruned, down to the very bottom of myself. 

And lately when I pray I have asked God how much more I have to lose. In return I have lost more. 

I have asked Him when it will end. In turn it hasn't. 

I've asked how many times I can get back up. In turn I have struggled back to my feet more times than I can count.

Pain is not easy. Pain stretches the parts of yourself that have never seen the light. It brings forward all of your deepest fears and worst flaws. It shines light on your beliefs and your hard held bondages. It frays the edges of your faith, and then unravels it.

Until you build and edifice to live behind. Then you are protected. From the world. From others. 

But what I have realized is that this edifice is also between me and God. Between me and the best parts of myself he has given me- my heart for love and service. My desire to always be the first one to help, to give, to serve, and to nurture. 

My heart has been so hardened, so angry, and so numb. I could stay that way forever. I could keep others out and enjoy the solitude of my tower.

But I would be denying myself the very best parts of life in Christ- freedom to love. To love and know when you are hurt or rejected by the world, that God is always and forever the balm and healing for that devastation. 

I can live in the freedom of knowing hurt will come. Pain will surface. I won't be protected from what life has to give- but I will be healed of its injury.

I don't have to be afraid anymore. I don't have to be scared of rejection. I don't have to worry about others opinions. I've lost it all. I've experienced it all.

And I'm still here, with a God who will stand outside of my wall and knock. Who will remind me that this is not who I am, or who I was designed to be.

I've locked my heart up, refused to cry. I've stored up feelings of hatred and disgust and deep betrayal. It has kept me safe from having to feel. 

I don't want to be like the world. I don't want to hold myself away from others out of fear. I don't want to be scared. I want to live. I want to serve. 

So I prayed for the wall to come down. And in turn, I began to feel again.

To soften. To mourn. To hurt and to grieve. 

To cry in carpool. To cry in the shower. To cry at Christmas music and diaper commercials. To begin to say, again:

I love you.

I am here.

I am open. 

I began to soften back into the beauty of this life, to allow the horrible and the perfect and the mundane to effect me again, and not numb myself. 

To say everything, no matter how silly or sentimental I may seem. To be vulnerable. 

Because behind that wall is who I am slowly leaving behind. The person who hid and raged and stopped caring.

Outside there is a chance of being crushed, and being hurt. The world offers no guarantee of safety or of help. 

So it's a really good thing I don't belong to the world. 


Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Galatians 5:1
[ Freedom in Christ ] It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

I can't live in fear of hurt. And I can't be in bondage to what others may do or think of me. And I know I cannot love behind a wall.

So the choices are clear: to soften, and allow the love of Christ to be in me and flow through me again. To be vulnerable to pain. To offer my hand and my heart and service without being afraid of the repercussions to my heart. 

To be open to being crushed, by stepping outside of the crushed wall I've been hiding behind.