dear you: on the day after mother’s day.

ourmoms

I hope your day was full of sweet, heavy honeysuckle and jasmine, a symphony of birdsong and the full bellows of a train in the city.

I hope you see yourself today as others see you: your eyes are bright and strong and your legs are longer than you think.

I hope you know that you aren’t the only one who feels a lot bit clueless. I hope you rest your wondering in the feathered arms of your Mighty God.

I hope that celebration finds you in unconventional ways, that you know the joy of unfolding service and not the endless striving for recognition.

I hope you take the time to write secret notes to the ones you love. Make them silly and let the whisper of anticipation spread a goofy grin across your face.

To my bright-burning girl on your 8th birthday.

eight

Eight and half years ago your Daddy and I stared at a tiny black and white screen with furrowed brows and tense white knuckles. You were there, bouncing around and being a bit shy.

When we finally met you months later  you were the tiniest bit of a thing. Your legs, always crossed, were so teensy that we worried they would crumble. Your tiny little head was covered in brown fuzz. You were lost in the bassinet.

From the very get-go we were told you’d be small.

And you are. Shortest in your grade. Shortest on your basketball team. Shortest in the league. Your feet barely grew a shoe size this year.

You are small.

But you are fierce. Strong. Stubborn. Persistent. Lovely.

I wanted a little girl to hold and dress up. I wanted to braid hair and giggle and pinch rosy cheeks. I got all those things.

But I got more.

I’m more than thankful for your brothers but you are the one who brought me low so that I was just a loamy bit of dirt for God to do the rebuilding. We have fought for each other, you and I. And I’m so glad for the fight. So glad to know that we found a way.

Because even when we are obstinate and battle ready, I can always look at your bright, bright eyes and love them. Always. They are like saucers full of spilled out coffee and your eyebrows dance so wonderfully there above them. And then there is the chirrupy bird-like way you tell me about your life. It is grace personified.

I hope so much that you learn to love well. That you won’t settle for the kind of love that is what you get out of it: approval, acceptance, identity, temporary happiness. It’s the kind that always leaves lingering loneliness.

I hope you know that you are fearful in the way you have been woven together. Every small stitch and over-under in you is characterized by the Hand that weaves all things. And I pray that out of that wonder, you will be able to love fiercely. I hope it’s the kind of sacrificial love that is an everyday, hard, rough, raw and beautiful kind of love. I hope you love to the pain.

I hope and pray that your bright eyes will be honed to seek out the hurting and the lost, that you will move into others with the same kind of persistence that even now you use so well. Oh how I dream that you will never let insecurity hold you hostage, that instead you will walk in the loveliness of knowing Who made you so very well. I know you will encounter seasons that will try to rob you of this lovely way of knowing yourself.  I pray and whisper it over you, this way you were pieced together in the most intentional way, and I ask for belief.

One of my greatest joys is to find little slips of paper pieced together, marker drawn cards, special cuttings and other projects that spill out of your swirling brain. Sometimes you will doubt these gifts, this way of leaning in to your calling. You will feel too small or too young or too different or too similar. Believe strong, little one. This gift of making beauty from your heart is part of God’s story for you.

In this world we connect boys and competitiveness. But it’s there, too, for girls in silent ways and it almost always ends in not-good-enoughs and be-betters. This competition–this comparison–it is the bold and angry kind of thief that smashes through your life even in the bright hours of a beautiful day with your joy in one hand and a sucker punch to the gut in the other. It robs and it bullies and it pushes into the kind of packs that hide and dull the wonderful way you were made. But Grace? It is the bolted gate. Lean in heavily, little one.

And you will fail. You will fail and fumble and feel wobbly on your life legs. I pray that you make mistakes knowing this: failure is not a commentary on who you are. It is not to be feared. Failure is a beginning and you are worth it. You are worth giant dreams and huge falls because I AM has made you and He has called you good. I pray that you won’t fear conflict, either. Conflict is not an end. It is an opportunity to work out how to love and love well. You are worth conflict, too.

And all these things push me to my knees often. In the kitchen over a pot of sweating onions. In the morning when I catch the first cold breath of day. At night when my eyes are limp with the heaviness of life in a day. I pray for you and for your brothers that somehow God will use the mess in me. How I lose my temper. How I do cry over spilled milk. How I say no because I’m too tired to clean up the mess tonight. How I have to cup your childhood-full face in my hands and apologize over and over. I fumble and falter and He makes new and I pray that you see how there is a beautiful banner over me. It’s the banner of grace, of lifted burdens, of new wineskin and hope.

Also? I really hope you learn to laugh like your daddy.

dear you: make a declaration today.

swings

I wanted to say something to you today.

I am a writer.

I have to say it because this place where my joy meets my gifting is sweet and humbling and cry worthy and God wove it into me. I hope beyond hope that you hear what I’m really saying. God gave this thing to me. I don’t have a big plan for it right now. I’m just leaning in. It’s been a journey to get here and I think I’ll enjoy right here for a bit.

What is that place for  you? The place where your joy meets your gifting?

I’ve been thinking. What if you shared that thing right here in the comments? Not your job but your thing. Maybe you are a nurturer or a servant or a teacher or a plan maker or a visionary or a care giver. Don’t feel like it’s small. In the presence of God, everything is small and He loves us just the same. Maybe you are like me and you worry about what others might think of you saying such a thing about yourself. Maybe you feel awkward talking about what you are good at. Don’t worry. You can’t be more awkward than me. That’s not what this is anyway. In fact, when you share a gift God has placed in you, you are really just pointing to Him. You are declaring that He is the one who rains down good things and you are just simply leaning in.

So. Will you share? Be brave.

morning song: summer + dear you

sunrise.

Summer mornings are a race to scoop up the dwindling coolness of just before the sun rises. If I scoop it up and stuff it in my pocket, I can hold it like an ice cube melting when the heat rises. In the early, early morning, the bird song is full and loud. I try to count but I get lost. There are few people and few machines and few the world is awake noises and so the bird song walks right up to me and surrounds. It’s beautiful. Soon the air will encompass, simultaneously carrying and pushing against  with it’s humid hands. Summer air is musky, heavy with gardenia and jasmine. And the sunrise. The sunrise is pink and yellow and orange. The flowers have faded but the sky puts on her show.

It’s our secret, you know. And I pray for you.

I pray that tomorrow you will force your bright blue, green, brown, grey, caramel eyes open just a few minutes earlier. Do it when the world is still covered in hush. I pray that you will tip toe across your carpeted, hardwood, creaking floors and slip right out your door.

Five minutes. Twenty  minutes. An hour.

And I pray that when you step outside, you scoop up the last vapors of night coolness that are wisting away from the ground up. I pray that you will scoop up grace, too. I pray that you rub it into your heart good. That you’ll understand that you never could keep up the redeeming work and that you’ll understand that since the beginning of the beginning, God knew. He knew that you would falter and He knew that you would stumble. I pray that you will know that Jesus wrapped himself up in our skin not so much because God desires perfection but because He desires us. And never any less when we can’t and never any more when we can.

I pray that when you come up short tomorrow, you will understand that the faltering does not condemn you and it doesn’t steal all of the growth away either. I pray that when you come up short, you lean into Him. And. That you hear the balm words of my husband’s coaching heart: You feel like you’ve made a mistake? Don’t beat yourself twice.

I pray that you will find the grace salve still there and that you rub it in deeper. And deeper still.

dear you.

ineedyouedit
This is a letter to you young moms.

Sometimes I like to think that I am still a young mom. But I think I am really a youngish mom. There’s no crib in my house. No diapers. No bottles. No diaper bag. No regular nap schedule. I don’t even have any sippy cups.

So I want to say something to you as someone who is almost both feet into the school age years. Your life will change.

Where you are right now? It’s physically exhausting. It’s late night feedings and blowouts. It’s early morning breakfasts and morning naps. It’s temper tantrums. It’s “No touch” over and over again until you start to think about how funny touch sounds and then you realize it’s time for dinner and you don’t think you can stand up one more minute. It’s opposite napping schedules. It’s carrying the world’s biggest bag with a million compartments but somehow you still can’t find the wipes when you need them.

It’s also baby smiles and dimples. It’s being able to rest your little one in your lap because he doesn’t come up to your shoulders. It’s not stinky shoes yet. It’s sweet, sweet baby breath and that first smile that you make yourself a fool over so you can see it again.

It won’t always be this tiring on your body. Soon, your work will be the work of the heart. And, that? Well. It’s tough stuff. But the physical makes way for the emotional.

So. How do you find the restart to your day when every minute seems taken up with meeting needs?

1. You take what you can get. Maybe there is a natural break in your day. Mine is right before my older two get home from school. Here’s how I know it’s ripe for hitting the refresh: I’m plumb wore out. I want to rush out of everything. I’m ready to check out and looking for anything to fill me up. Also. It’s when I get yell-y. Unredeemed, that time looks like me running after a bunch of things (hello, internet) that can’t really fill me up so that when it’s time to be focused, I’m restless.  Maybe it’s naptime for you or mid-morning or just any old time.

2. But maybe you have to take what you can make. If it’s fifteen minutes while one is sleeping and the other one is watching tv, you can make that time listen to you. Maybe you lay on the couch. Maybe you find a quiet corner and read or stare or try to get the oatmeal out of your hair. Maybe it’s while you are washing dishes and you play some kind of music good and loud.

3. Whatever you get, take it and be thankful for it. Fifteen minutes spent wishing they were thirty instead  is not life giving. Five minutes can be enough if they are used wisely. Know what gives you life and what is just a band-aid for your restless heart. Treating the symptoms is not the same as treating the cause.

4. Don’t aim for perfection. Starting a new day in your heart and mind does not have to look the same everyday. When you feel about to give out, press in. Start over. However you can. For me, the goal of starting a Second (or more) Day is to be present, not to be perfect. I’m trying to use that time to do two things: eliminate things that would distract me from being present and refresh my heart and mind so that I can be focused on my children. I don’t always get to do both things. I certainly don’t get to do them perfectly. And sometimes? I have to put my head down and push through. But, usually I can find at least five minutes to step away and focus back on what’s important.

Here’s the thing. Right there in the midst of your hands-on, scheduled out kind of days, I want you to know that I see you. And I want you to know that I see the light for you. I believe for you that even if your day is overwhelming and exhausting and full to the brim, there is redeeming and refreshing available to you.

Edit: As a sweet friend was sharing something with me, I realized there was another thought to be borne out in this process. Parenting will always be hard and sharpening and unexpected. There may be seasons or circumstances that go seemingly unchanged. That battle? For heart change when the externals don’t? It’s even more important. Sometimes hard things stay but God’s refreshing stays even longer.

Full disclosure: this is a picture I took of a vintage photo I found.