Lean Into the Light, Pictures From A Nutcracker Birthday {and Gratitude}

My little Lilly,

this light that came into our life as a complete surprise, you bring joy in the dark places of me and how could I have known? Because if you’d never come, I’d have gone on with life as usual, towing the three kids, never knowing there was supposed to be a fourth one, the one to plow up the bad soil of me and make my innards sing, light bursting through the fragments of my heart.

We celebrated the third year of your fresh, young life and yes, I wanted it to be an affair to remember–I admit I did–a beautiful celebration of the day you were born.

I regret that well, I may or may not have been a little too involved in the baking and preparation. But I’m a creative being, and I want to celebrate you and God and goodness and His holiness and this creation and all the wonderful brightness there is in your smile and your laughter and the sun and the warmth I feel when we’re together.

How long do I really have, how many times will the hands go ’round the face of time before it ceases its race and I find myself bored, you having flown off?

When will time just run out?

I have a secret to whisper to you, baby girl–I. am. afraid.

Afraid you’ll grow and I’ll miss it. I’m afraid it’ll happen while I’m folding clothes, while I’m running, gardening, or pursuing any number of things that make me happy.

And God forbid I should miss you while I tap away at my computer, or talk to people through screens.

But the truth is, all of that will happen. You’ll grow while I put shirts in the drawers, while I talk to my aging grandmother on the phone, and yes, even while I write.

And the real nugget here, dear girl? You need me to do all of those things–even the things that make me sing-on-the-mountaintop-happy.

You need me to be an example to you of how life is lived.

Mothering is such a delicate balance of living a life of example before you of what a woman should be and throwing example out of the window for an impromptu game of tickles and giggles underneath bed sheets in mornings softest rays of light.

And darling, how I love running around in the grass chasing you, the sun shining down upon us.

How I love when time slows down as I watch the light dance in your pale wheat locks. As time slows, all I can see is light around you, on you, in you, it’s in every part of you and it is you. The light.

And only you could do that for me, girl.

How I love lying in our hammock in the summer barefooted, you piled in with your sisters while I read to you in low tones ’til it’s late afternoon and our eyelids droop and threaten to close.

And in the winter you are the only shaft of light in the dungeon of dark, rainy cold that creeps into this old home through holes and cracks. The way you bounce around the house, your halo blonde waving as you run in your tutu, you remind me that good still exists in life.

I admit I am afraid, child.

I know I will miss you once you are gone. I fear walking around in circles, trying to figuring out what’s missing and knowing all too well what is wrong, my hands with nothing to do, my heart bursting to give and all I can hear is the silence and the clock echoing on the wall.

I know the day will come.

And for now, sweet, sweet Lilly, I want to pull you close and whisper in your ear, how that really, we don’t have to fear.

I want to tell you this secret, sweet child. Listen close. Love conquers fear. The wild, forgiving seventy-times-seven, going the extra mile, makes no sense kind of love.

The love that turns the other cheek, the love that washes over with grace and counts no wrongs and leaves wide open spaces to be ourselves, and believes the best always no matter what, even when mistakes are made, and doesn’t want what God hasn’t given and doesn’t worry about tomorrow–that love drives out all fear.

And so, little one, I have told you the best secret of all. I have told you the only truth you ever really need to know.

And now you know the whole story. So lean in close to me, and let’s be fearless together.

Let’s lean into our Father. Lean into the light, child, always into the Light.

Starting up counting gratitude here once again:….#1037-1048
For writing again…
For finding my voice…
For chimes singing a wind song for me…
For being quiet enough to hear…
Hearing my little Lilly say so many words…
How they fill up the silence with glory…
How she  teaches me to listen…
For Husband encouraging me to come outside in the sunshine
Walking around the deadened, rain-soaked yard, looking at all things that were once alive that are now dormant and cracked
Really seeing the state of things for what they are
Hoping for spring
Hope itself

                              Pictures from Lilly’s Nutcracker themed third birthday party:

Linking with Ann in the gratitude community…..

Laura…

and Emily…

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When You Just Want To Be A Better Mother– How We’re Saved Everyday

I turn over, bury head underneath covers against morning light, trying to sleep away the fogginess from staying up too late the night before. I finally tumble out of bed, equilibrium rolling and room’s floor shifting. The unlevel wooden floors of this ‘ole house don’t help much.

My hair a ratted nest, I grab my water and chamomile tea cup and head for the kitchen and freshly brewed coffee, hoping for one of those heart cookies Husband left for us this morning.

Upon entering a little too sunshine lit living room, Ivy informs me that the little ones ate all the cookies and left none for anyone else. So the first duty of the day before I can even brew a cup of coffee is to discipline my little ones.

My wee one asks, “Out, Mama?” and I call back, with a warm smile, “Yes, cutie pie, you can get out.” “Yay!” she cries, and so the day begins. I cozy up on the couch and drink coffee, find the recipe for Lorna, mourning that I didn’t prepare and buy ingredients ahead of time for us to do our normal tradition of baking sweets together, all of us hens in the kitchen, clucking happily away.

That won’t be this year, because I botched it up. I have no one to blame but myself. I know there is only a vapor, a moment of time to create memories with these girls, and then they’re gone. Teaching them to bake, sew, and do fractions, how to find the right man–I only have a blink for those things and then they’ll be off, teaching their daughters.

I go into the kitchen, awake now, and tell Lorna I want to make the pancakes, all of us together. It’s Valentines Day, after all, I tell her. I am seized with new hope and get out the heart-shaped cookie cutter, place it on the griddle. I pour in the chia seeds and flax seeds, because I’ve been wanting us to eat better, but have lacked the energy. Zeal settles upon me and all of the sudden everything must be perfect. We are going to make heart-shaped pancakes, and it’s going to be awesome. Ivy will wash while I ladle thick batter onto sizzling heat, Lorna will measure out the dry ingredients, then Ivy and Bella will both come and stand on the stool and ladle the last of the batter into the hearts. And we’ll do it all with smiles.

Then the coffee kicks into over-drive, because in an instant I go from happy zeal to irritated and my face and body is hot all over. My blood pressure feels elevated, heart beating way too hard and fast in my chest. I fuss too loud at Ivy, underfoot, not obeying my request to wash and she walks away lips trembling. One tiny is yelling my name at the top of her voice over and over, the other tiny is provoking her, loudly sing-song-ing “Wah-wah-Wah-wah”, and the pancakes are burning. I can’t find my Wise Words For Moms discipline and training chart, I ruffle through the tray on the fridge and it goes crashing to the floor, contents spilling. Lilly is standing right below me now, crying, clinging, the pancakes threaten to turn black, sizzling fiercely, eldest daughter watches me with big hawk eyes, and I’m much too keenly aware of the impression my actions are making on her as the clock ticks on the oven. Everything begins to close in too tight around me, and I turn around and shout at Bella to just. shut. up!

Lilly begins to wail and snub and I realize she thinks I’m yelling at her. I sink down to the floor, look at the tear running down her little face, and grab her, fold her into my safety and nurture. I begin to cry with her, and she pulls back, looks at me. I sign that I’m sorry, rub my chest with my fist. “I’m sorry,” I sob. Tears run. She sees the sadness on my face and her lips turn down and tremble. Her eyes have huge questions in them. I call to all my girls–come here, come to me.

I tell them Mama is sorry that I got aggravated and angry and sinned. I tell them the bible says do not sin in our anger, which means that while it may be completely natural to get irritated or angry at times with someone, what’s important is what we do with that anger. We are to love them in our anger and not sin against them. Mama sinned, I say. I yelled, I disciplined you in anger and that was wrong. I look each one in the eyes and tell them. I tell them Mama needs Jesus.

I crumble over and my body racks with sobs in confession, so good for the soul, so good for their little souls.

I fall forward because really, when I make lips tremble that I swore to protect, who can save me then? I let the repentance wash over.

It feels like a powerfully good strong cleansing.

I tell them of Christ’s pilgrimage to earth and to the cross. He wasn’t of this world, and if He’s a pilgrim, so am I, human but also spirit.

I tell how that he comes into Mama’s heart and takes away all the sin because of that cross, and how it makes me a better Mama, and all the things that I can’t do on my own? I can do them because of Him. I look straight into Lorna’s eyes.

Even Christ crumbled, even his body fell forward in agony, head bowed, the grief racking his body as he begged His Father for another way. He was torn between spirit and flesh. He was human.

And there I sit, feeling so human, looking straight into her big green eyes, taking me in, every bit of me. I direct it to her because I know she cries when she is in trouble, not because she has been found out, but because she is frustrated with herself for sinning. And so I tell her the secret that Christ knew, that Paul knew, that I know now– “You know how when you want to do good, the right thing, instead you do the wrong thing anyway?” She nods.

“Well, that’s what happens when Mama sins, too. I want so badly to be a good mother and to do the right thing. You understand that, right? But Jesus is the only one who can help me with that, because in my own sinful nature, left to my own evil heart, I would choose wrong every time.”

She nods again.

Lilly points at herself, her lip tucked downward and trembling. I know what she wants to say and can’t.

“Are you sad?” She nods, “Yeah”.

She points at me, her lip still down, her eyes speaking a thousand emotions. Oh the way children can see into a soul.

“Mama is sad too?” She nods yes. I hug her tight, tell her I’m okay and I hold all of them close. I promise them a great rest of the day and it is.

Jesus is love and He is God with us, saving us over and over and over again. Every day.

Valentine Heart Streamer Window Treatment

Source: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/02/weekends-are-for-love-books-on-marriage/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29

Some of the things we worked creatively on this year: 

Buttermilk Heart shaped pancakes made from scratch with whole wheat flour, chia seeds, flax seeds, blackberries, blueberries, with honey butter, pure maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Strawberry cake with cream cheese icing, red sprinkles and strawberries.

Red velvet cupcakes with fluffy white frosting, melted 100% cacao, shaved 100% cacao, topped with a strawberry!

Arts and crafts from last year:

*Edited re-post from the archives

Linking with Imperfect Prose: