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Mistaken Identity

By Guest Writer Sarah Bourne

As human beings, we spend so much time in our own heads. Our thought lives are full to the brim with repetitive notions- worries, preoccupations, regrets, wishes, hopes, criticisms, and more. How we view ourselves is a big part of that. Our identities are constantly being defined as we ask again and again: Am I enough? Are we defined by the outcomes in our work? Do we judge ourselves based on how well we parent?  Do we look at what we own and measure our worth there? Do we look in the mirror and look to our appearance for the answer? (I know that one never fails to get me!) Do we dress in trend or behind the times? And the self-doubt goes on- it’s quite consuming isn’t it?
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Take these socks from the “Bourne family bucket of socks without matches”, for example. You’ll notice that one sock is kind of “special”- it has a hand-drawn design on it, courtesy of my son and a permanent marker. And if you can imagine an eight-year old creating it, you might recognize it to be one of the most famous sports brands symbols known….yep, “Just do it” is right, That’s what he was going for….But what broke my mama heart was when I discovered why my son was doing it.

As I found him one morning before school, my little man wanted so badly to identify with other children wearing brand names, that he was willing to draw that label on, just so that he could feel more like he belonged in an effort to identify with the other kids. It was so sad to realize how badly he wanted to “look the part” even at such a young age. It was the perfect example of mistaken identity.
As Believers, we have already trusted the Lord with the biggest thing there is: the saving work that only He could do. He offers us a complete rescue from our sin-soaked hearts, so that we can one day have eternal life. Yet, when it comes to defining who we are, day to day, we usually claim that job for ourselves. We use standards to measure who we are from everywhere BUT Him.

Have you ever thought about what your life would look like if you were not already identified as a child of God? Think about it. It’s not a pretty picture: isolated, without a holy identity, lost, helpless, powerless to the enemy, unknown and a stranger to God. Think about being without a place to belong, with only your own self to focus on, seeking ways to be identified and belong to something, anything. I can’t imagine it. I have a hard enough time remembering my true identity, even with knowing Jesus as my Savior.

It becomes obvious why so many exhaust themselves and struggle with trying to figure out “who they are”- they really don’t know! It’s such an insecure reality.

So here I am, a child of the One True King, and every day, I wrestle with answering the question of “who I am” even though I already know.
Then I think about catching my son in that desperate act- it was heartbreaking on one hand, but an incredible wake-up call as a parent. Oh, how I need to remind my children every day of Who they belong to and how dearly they are loved—that their identity is not based on anything anyone else decides. And the same goes for us grown-ups- when we forget that our identity is not based on our work or performance, how spruced up our wardrobe or how beautiful our home is- we need to allow the Lord time, to come to us though His Word, and give us that sweet reminder. We are His beloved, His people- Children made righteous by the Almighty and Merciful Creator of the Universe, Rescuer of the World- no additional markings necessary! We are clothed in righteousness… more than conquerors…we are His.

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Sarah Bourne is a momma to three kooky, wonderful kiddos, and a wife to loyal and loving Don.
She’s a lover of words— singing ‘em, writing ‘em, painting ‘em on wood, or reading God’s.
She’s a hope-er and a dreamer and she prays that through her flubs and flaws she might somehow point others to Jesus every day of her life.

Letting God Flavor My Life


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When I think of summer I think of sun filled days at my mom and dad’s house up on the hill overlooking the groves of avocado trees. I think of Bocce ball, and floating in the pool, and long lazy meals garnished with fresh fruit, and always completed by mom’s ripe, homegrown tomatoes. From greek salads with kalamata olives to margarita pizza loaded with pesto and fresh mozzarella, each of her signature meals are completed with her prize tomatoes that grow abundantly in her carefully tended garden.

One quiet afternoon, I took my daughter along the winding brick path that led to the small collection of fruit trees and the wrought iron gate that wrapped itself around the  overgrown tomato bushes. I plucked two plump tomatoes from the vine and wiped the dirt from them on the corner of my shirt. Keeping one for myself, I handed her the other, and watched her hold it in her small hands, her face transformed by a look of delight. I bit into it like an apple as the sweet and savory flavor exploded in my mouth. I nodded at her to do the same. After a reluctant bite, she began to devour it. The juice dripped down her chin and onto her white shirt as we shared a conspiratorial smile.

Whenever I see the supermarket’s perfect collection of identical red tomatoes, I add a few to the shopping cart in hopes of capturing the bright flavors of summer; but they always come up short. These mealy and tasteless counterfeits make my mouth water for the real thing. Unlike my mom’s sun-ripened, colorful and imperfect tomatoes, many breeders have cultivated a mutation in the tomato crop to make the fruits ripen evenly, allowing for a faster and cheaper harvest of beautiful and flavorless fruits. 

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

 

 

 

But I realize that sometimes I too get focused on what I look like on the outside rather than my own flavor. Instead of concentrating on the process, I focus on the results. Too often our culture points our attention to appearance and results, while compromising on the means that we we get there, and the meat that its made of.

But God calls us to fix our eyes on Him and entrust our lives to Him, believing that He will take care of the outcome.

Some of my writing comes out in an easy stream, and other times it’s a long labor of love written one sentence at a time over days and weeks. Sometimes God blesses us unexpectedly, and at times we have to lean into Him in prayer and petition, and even then, things don’t turn out the way we envision. Too often I try to take shortcuts, and force my own results.  I try to breed and cultivate the crop with my own hands, in my own time, rather than allowing God to harvest it; rather than waiting for it to ripen in the sun, in God’s time.

When we focus on results we concern ourselves with output rather than input. We measure our lives by the size of our salaries, how many friends we have or likes we get on Facebook, the grades on our children’s report cards, our pant size, and the make and model of our car. And no matter what, it comes up short. Because no matter how many zeros are behind the dollar sign,  no matter how many friends or adoring fans we have, and no matter how desirable we are, it will only make us beautiful shells of people, with lives that other people envy, and we ourselves hate. Kind of like the big..shiny…red and utterly tasteless tomatoes at the grocery store.

Don’t get me wrong money and friendship, even popularity and fitness can all be blessings, but for me, they aren’t the sum by which I want to quantify my life.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4

 

 

 

As I drift from God with distractions and aspirations that aren’t rooted in Him, God has a way of gently drawing me back to Him. He gives me a choice whispering “you can chase after this stuff that leaves you empty, or let me fill you with My Word, My Spirit and My Grace.” I don’t want to settle for a life of tasteless tomatoes. In His Word He reminds us that if we remain in Him, by the Spirit, and by His Grace, we bear much fruit for his glory, “showing ourselves to be His disciples.” (John 15:8)

 

Mommy Leave the Light On

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Her screams woke me from a deep sleep. Alertness came over me as my feet found the cold wood floor and padded quickly to her room.

“I need Jesus! You forgot Jesus!” she bellowed as tears saturated her scrunched up face. I enfolded my toddler’s warm body against mine and kissed her salty face. She clung to me as her heaving breaths slowed to a quiet rhythmic tempo.

As she gave back into sleep, I disentangled myself from her grasp and tiptoed to the window where her nightlight was plugged into the wall. My fingers fumbled until I found the switch to turn it on. A mural of Jesus in a white robe, surrounded by sheep, glowed golden in the light bulb’s illumination. I glanced once more at the peaceful curves of her face in the soft light and returned to my warm bed.

Finish reading this post at the following link:

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I’m a Bad Mom…Sometimes

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I stopped at the red light and exhaled. All the anxiousness and guilt expelled from me in a sob as my burning eyes released the tears I’d been blinking back. I turned up the radio to muffle the sounds of my convulsive gasps as I replayed her latest tantrum from moments before.

“Mommy needs you to hold my hand in the parking lot to keep you safe,” I beg, my voice dripping with the chemical sweet taste of cough medicine. “If you don’t hold my hand right now I’m going to carry you,” I try again, hysteria tinging my falsely syrupy voice.

I picked up her flailing body, angling my head to avoid her helicopter arms that batter me again and again. I fixed my eyes on the car, blurring out the periphery of judgemental stares as my daughter screeched and yowled like an angry cat. I pinned her body in the carseat to buckle her, back arching and fingers clawing at my grasping hands. As the engine hummed and the car began its rhythmic forward motion, her body became motionless, her gasping breaths slowing to the purr of a heavy sleep.

The light turned green and I felt suffocated by the weight of the emotions that piled on my chest one by one. Pulling over, I put the car in park and closed my eyes as I allowed myself to suffer the weight and jagged edges of each feeling that threatened to bury me.

“Other moms don’t need to manhandle their children.” Guilt. “If you were a better parent she wouldn’t behave like this.” Insecurity. “Your going to screw her up for life.” Fear.
Each lie pulled me deeper and deeper into frustrated resignation.

After a long moment I looked back at her peaceful, sleeping face. I inhaled deeply and wiped away the tears of despair and frustration. I put the car in drive and kept going.

That evening as I dried and put away the dinner dishes, I overheard my daughter’s quiet chatter as she played with her dolls. I paused and listened more closely as she picked up the wide eyed doll in the blue paisley dress and smoothed its silky, chestnut hair. She whispered to her doll, “I love you and I forgive you.”

I remembered the guilt and despair that weighed on me earlier that day. In the glow of lamps and quiet blanket of evening, the feelings lost their weight and jagged edges.

I am far from the perfect mom. I yell, I grow impatient, and I give in when I should hold my ground. I turn on the TV when I should read her a book, I heat up a hotdog when I should cook a meal, I yell when I should ask questions, and I allow precious opportunities to slip through my fingers.

But as I look at my daughter, her hair damp from a bath, her night gown gathered around her feet, lips curved in a sleepy smile, I thank God for all the times I do get it right.

And as I hear her speak words of love and forgiveness, I whisper thank you. Thank you God for listening to me, for equipping and empowering me. Thank you for blessing me. Thank you for looking at me in my worst moments, covered in shame and hopelessness, for holding me and whispering “I love you and I forgive you.”

Cracked & Beautiful

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dear b

As I wiped the tears, and snot, and blood from your dirty face I felt the heavy weight of dread in the pitt of my stomach. Your once perfect smile was broken, your front baby tooth jagged where it was once a pristine little square.

Smelling of lavender and wrapped sweetly in your pink princess nightgown, every sign of your fall earlier that day was wiped clean, except for your crooked smile. And while I was grateful that you were unharmed, the crack remained, reminding me of how helpless I really am.

Because even if I stand at the bottom of the slide, waiting to catch you, you can still crash, and bleed, and cry out in pain, and there is nothing I can do about it, but hold you and comfort you, and say “I’m sorry.”

And your cracked smile reminds me of my helplessness. It reminds me of how helpless I am in protecting you in this big scary world; it reminds me of how little control I have over my own little world, and it reminds me that no matter how much I fight to keep things pristine, and perfect, and straight, they can become cracked, and crooked, and broken.

I try to control my life, to keep it neat and tidy like a pretty photo, but it doesn’t fit in the neat little frame that I try to package it in. Despite my efforts to make everything just so, reality shatters my  plans, leaving a web of cracks on the high polished surface of my life.

But then I look at you in the rearview mirror, with your wide, crack toothed smile like a ray of sunshine,  and you say to me “Mommy, I have a new, bigger smile.”

I peer at that smile that is no longer the picture of perfection. And I take a deep breath as the warm sun floods our car and I let a laugh explode from my mouth. I laugh with God, because he is full of so many surprises. I laugh because I am so helpless, and cracked, and yet through HIM I am hopeful and whole. I laugh at you, your fearlessness, your innocence, and your new, bigger, beautiful smile.

I look at the crack in the windshield, that I’ve been meaning to fix, and I smile as I see beams of light refract from it.

 

 

Learning to Wait

36wks1dear bSweaty and tired, my body feels like its moving through water. As the lazy August heat envelopes me like a heavy blanket, every movement feels slow and labored.

And the words. The words that once spilled out of me like a sieve feel dried up and sour.

I understand now why most people think it only takes nine months to make a baby– because the tenth month is a stalemate:  a long, slow surrender.

The nursery is left unfinished, the list of to do’s left undone, but I am done.

I can’t say I’m ready. Who can be ready for the altering change of new life?

But I’m ready to suck in a breath of fresh air, hold it in my lungs, squeeze my eyes shut tight, and leap onto the next page; into an unwritten chapter. I know the genre won’t be defined:  it will come in a mix of adventure, suspense, romance, sadness, and whimsy. But just like with any life altering change, at a certain point I know I need to let go of the last sentence, draw a period, and begin again.

But I’m still here. I close my eyes at night thinking any day my life could change, but then I wake up, and it’s a new day, but I’m still on the same page. My body still swollen with expectation.

As I tore about in bed last night, hot and uncomfortable, I saw my phone light up and make a grating noise against the wood of my night stand, alerting me to a new message. I picked up the phone with relief, and took a reprieve from my restless dance to read:

“Dear Lindsay:                                                                                                                                     I came across a photo of me the day before my son was born. Gives “big” new meaning. He was born the next day 8 lbs 15 oz.
I felt uncomfortable just looking at it-
But I think it is now my favorite photo of myself. Problem is, you don’t realize how wonderful these last couple weeks are until they’re gone–because you’re so stinking uncomfortable and impatient!
That baby is safe and sound, loving your movements and voice, not hungry, not tired, not poopy. This is a great time, these last couple weeks. You are blessed–hormones and all.”

It was what I needed to hear. I’ve been so focused on the next page that I’ve forgotten the life being written around me. These are our last days as a family of three in this slow, happy rhythm. And instead of fixing my eyes on the blank page ahead, I needed to be guided back to the blinking cursor on the page being written.

You have a whole book ahead of you to write with many new and exciting chapters. As the words fly out onto the pages, creating your life story, take a moment to look at the cursor, breathe in your surroundings and savor the life that is being written around you.

Too often we don’t appreciate a sunset until we see it in pictures, or relish the smell of a fresh cooked meal until we try to describe it. We don’t say the words that fill our heart in the moment, but hang on to them until it is too late.

sa·vor /sāvər/ verb:  enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) completely, especially by dwelling on it.

I can’t teach you how to savor. It’s a graceful art learned in living that I still haven’t mastered. I will tell you, that regrets usually come wrapped in missed opportunities and ingratitude. I’ve never felt the sting of regret from the days I’ve lived deliberately.

I do know that on the days I feel stuck, when my words feel dried up and sour, that is when I need to refocus my eyes on a God that breathes HIS Word and Life into everything.

And even though my circumstances might leave me bored or frustrated, or resigned, I know that He will never leave me exactly where I am. And just a word from Him will leave me a changed person. Because after all, He is the author of the greatest love story of all.

 

Watching You Grow with “No” and “I Love You”

Disciplining in Love

Disciplining in Love

Your smile eclipses your face with sunshine. I want every day to be sunshine, filled with secret giggles as our heads share a pillow; filled with drawing Crayola hearts and walking with your hand in mine, with shared baths overflowing with bubbles and your face poking around every corner asking “mommy whatcha doing?”

I anticipate years ahead when we will go out to lunch and share french fries and inside jokes. When I will squeeze in the dressing room with you and zip up dozens of prom dresses to find the perfect one, and the late nights we’ll sit on the kitchen counter, barefoot in our pj’s as we eat chocolate chip cookies from the pan as you tell me about boys, and mean girls, and teachers with smelly breath.

I dream of the day you call to tell me that you met the man you are going to marry, and the day you dial my number with trembling fingers because you’re holding a test with two pink lines.

Right now I see a little girl smile with baby teeth and chubby cheeks, but I know that the radiance of your smile won’t fade as your face softens into the angles of an elegant woman.

But as much as I relish your brilliant smile, I know even now, that every day can’t be all sunshine.

I realized in that moment, that this is just the beginning of our game of tug of war as mother and daughter.
I look back on earlier this evening when I yelled at you for plucking every dress off the hanger and piling them into a messy heap of pink tulle and lace on the floor. Your little body pantomimed a perfect pout, with your arms crossed and lower lip jutting out. As my gaze traced a tear running down your face,  you pelted my chest with the wounded words, “Mommy, you make me so sad.”

I realized in that moment, that this is just the beginning of our game of tug of war as mother and daughter.

There will be days when I say “no” more times than I can count. When you will think I am the meanest mom in the world. When you will keep secrets from me. There will be days when we will fight and you’ll throw hard, angry words at me.

I remember, with a lump in my throat, the harsh, jagged words I launched at my mother. Words like “you’re stupid,” and “I hate you.”

Despite your sadness and anger, I will need to set boundaries that guide and protect you.

But no matter how many times I tell you I love you, the NO’s will echo louder, leaving you feeling stifled and frustrated.
Right now, you want to eat chapstick and wear the same Minnie Mouse dress until I peel it off your sweaty body. At six you’ll probably want to subsist on Doritos and Pop Tarts. At 13 you may want to wear short skirts and watch R movies. Maybe at 17, you’ll want to stay out past curfew with a boy or drink a beer at a party.

And as your Mom I’ll shout and whisper “No!” and “I love you.” and “No!” and “No!”and “No!” and “I love you,” “I love you,” “I love you.

But no matter how many times I tell you I love you, the NO’s will echo louder, leaving you feeling stifled and frustrated.

But when you want to turn on the music and drowned me out, just remember the persistent whisper, “I love you.” And when it feels like my “no’s” are like  the bricks of a cement wall, also know that I don’t want to wall you in, but to protect you from decisions that will take away your freedom.

If your smile fills my heart with light, then your sadness creates the dark clouds that threaten the sky on a rainy day; .your tears have a way of pounding on my chest with a dull, persistent ache. But as much as I hate to see your tears, I know that without them you wouldn’t grow.

In the same way, God delights in our smiles and laughter, but He loves us enough to also allow seasons of struggle and tears that help us to grow.

In shouts and whispers, He answers our prayers with “no’s” and “not right now,” and “wait.” We become frustrated at a God that loves us too much to let us subsist on mediocrity and compromises.

But in the quiet moments as we struggle with a tug of war in our heart whether to trust in what He is doing, we hear His quiet, persistent whispers “I love you,” “I love you,” “I love you.”

 

Thank you for reading “Disciplining in Love.” This is one in a series of letters I am writing to my daughter with the goal of compiling them into a book. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is crap. You can do better.”

 


reflection

dear b“No! Let go of my necklace,” I yelled as I yanked my favorite turquoise beads out of your fisted hands. Your face crumpled like a used tissue and tears erupted from your eyes. I tucked my necklace back safely into the jewelry box that you had been pilfering, as guilt flooded my chest.

I knew I’d been too harsh, but so much of my jewelry had already become your casualties.

Then, I remember the day before when a wobbly baby had toddled over to you with open hands and a wide smile, grabbing curiously at the teapot you played contentedly with.

As the baby approached, you clutched the candy pink plastic to your chest, swinging your other hand around in protective circles, and screeched, “No! Mine!” I had been embarrassed at your behavior, explaining that you needed to be kind and gentle to babies.

“She’s younger than you, and she doesn’t know any better.” The words resound in my ears as I shamefully look into your hurt, tearful eyes.

You are a reflection of me.

So often those words become stale in my mouth from overuse, but as I sit with them now, they resonate as valuable truth: you..are..a reflection..of me.

When I first entered college I had to pass a test called the Subject A Exam which assessed my ability to write an effective essay. I have always loved writing, but in high school, my teachers focused on teaching me the conventions of writing rather than the art. Mixed with test anxiety, the Subject A and I did not hit it off.

After my third failed attempt, the university mandated that I take a Subject A prep class. I showed up the first day feeling as indignant as a two year old who’s forced into taking nap.

Over the first weeks of class, I stubbornly decided that no matter what, I would despise and resent the class. The teacher, Ms. Gypsum, was young, and carefree. She wore boldly printed scarves and blue rectangular glasses that were disarming with their quirky charm. But I held my resolve.

She had us read books and articles that were actually interesting. She would return our essays covered in her inky cursive with thoughtful feedback and questions. We would sit in class with our cups of coffee doused liberally with cream and sugar, and she would encourage us to have thoughtful and worthwhile conversation.

Despite her attempts to connect with me, the first half of the class I skated by with little effort or dedication. Until Ms. Gypsum handed me back my midterm essay, and across the top of the page, seven words were scrolled beside the big red letter D: “This is crap. You can do better.”

She’d taken three weeks to show me who she was, as a writer, as a teacher, and as a person, and now, she was standing face to face with me and challenging me to show what I was capable of. Her words took me off guard, they knocked me off my pedestal and infuriated me.

But then, they forced me to look in the mirror– and I realized that I didn’t like what I saw. What was my self righteous attitude about anyways? I thought I was such a great writer, but what was I producing besides bitterness and mediocre work?

Too many times in my life I have let my ego decide who I am and not my actions. Sometimes I need to be knocked off my pedestal and told: “This is crap. You can do better.”

Because as I seek to discipline you, God is disciplining me to become a better person and a better mom. After all, the word discipline actually means “to train.”

In order to be the kind of mom I want to be, I first need to be a student. I need to learn how to be patient, humble, selfless, kind, and generous. I need to say please: please God give me strength. I need to say thank you: thank you God for your abundant blessings. I need to say I’m sorry: forgive me God for falling short.

As your hurt eyes peered into mine I put my hands on your shoulders, “I am so sorry I yelled at you like that,” and I pulled you close in an embrace.

When Life Gives You Puddles

 

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I heard a heart-stopping cry. I know all my daughter’s cries. The fake cry, the tired cry, the cry when her feelings are hurt, and then there’s the heart stopping one– the one that I drop whatever is in my hands, leap over the vacuum, or dog, or person in my path, and run to her.

She was sitting up with her blanket in a hood over her head so all I could see were her wide blue eyes and the streaks of tears sliding down her flushed face. “Bree! What’s wrong?” I asked as I plopped my swollen pregnant body on her insubstantial princess bed, and wrapped my arms around her.

“Daddy! Daddy’s gone!”

After I calmed and assured her, “Daddy’s at work, he’ll be home tonight.” I went and checked my phone that I’d heard clanging in my bedroom beneath the din of her cries.

Ten missed calls…from Daddy.

As I heard his strangled voice on the other end of the line, he explained in gasping bursts that he’d dislocated his shoulder and was waiting for it to be set, but everything would be fine.

And everything was fine. He returned home with wild hair and glazed eyes and slept solidly for the next 24 hours. Then he was himself, save the lack of use of his left arm which was braced against his body.

It’s a week later, and I have to help him with little things, like applying deodorant and putting on his shirt. He can’t pick up our daughter and he can’t help set the table or wash dishes, but none of this is a big deal. None of this is a big deal.

We found out he may need shoulder surgery: no big deal– 4 to 6 week recovery where he won’t have full use of his arm.

Not a big deal. I’m saying this through gritted teeth, hormones flooding my body and threatening to commandeer my brain, my 8 and a half month pregnant mound of a belly staking claim like a giant ant hill that requisitions the surrounding landscape.

In my plan, he would have use of both his arms.
 God willing, the baby is coming in 6 short weeks or less.

In my plan, the shades would be hung in the nursery, the closet painted a crisp white instead of the streaks of dirt and rust that threaten to claim the walls. The contents of the garage would be neatly organized on the shelves instead of dumped in a disheveled mess on the floor and every surface.

In my plan, he would have use of both his arms.

Then I’m reminded of how Bee entered the world on an unsuspecting Friday afternoon. I woke up in a puddle of water a month before she was expected. My house was a mess, the nursery wasn’t complete and my family was eight hours away.

Breach…emergency C Section…it all came in a confused rush.

When I held her soft, warm body to my chest, none of it mattered.

Too often I try to shrink my life into the little trivial details right in front of me rather than seeing the big beautiful landscape God is painting before me.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my first birth story. God knew that I was an anxious mess, and He saved me a month of harried preparation and bustle. More than that, He knew His ways are higher than my ways in all things, big and small.

Too often I try to shrink my life into the little trivial details right in front of me rather than seeing the big beautiful landscape God is painting before me.

In his goodness and grace he uses my circumstances to redirect my attention to HIM.

He loves me so much that he comes and affirms his goodness in the small things, like my husband’s laughter as I tickle his armpit in my pitiful attempt to apply his deodorant, or in Bee’s small hand, wrapped around my finger in our first moments together.

He loves us so much that he affirms his goodness by giving His life for mine. And in the quiet moments as I feel the healthy kick of my growing baby girl, He reminds me that HIS plan is the only one that matters.

 

Choosing Love…When You Just Want to Pull Your Hair Out

seasontolovedear bThese days you are a tumbleweed of endless energy and curiosity. I wake up, and face the challenge of finding ways I can occupy your day, so that when the lazy heat of the summer afternoon closes in on us, you will topple into your bed in nothing but your princess-pullup, surrounded by a cloud of misfit stuffed animals, and sleep for a blissful hour.

Our day passes in busy bursts: as we rush to the potty when you’re crossing your legs; in distracted meandering: as we change your dress three times because apparently toddler girls are the most indecisive females on the planet; and grinding halts: as you throw yourself on the floor of Target because I won’t buy you a $50 Sophia doll.

And then there are the moments when time freezes, and I  have a stunning instant of clarity that  makes our stumbling days of toddlerhood distill into an emotion that gives purpose and reason to the craziness of our lives. LOVE.

time melts away, to do’s scatter like confetti, and my purpose lies snugly in the circle of my arms.

When I cuddle you in our bed in the morning as your wild wheat hair spreads across my pillow and you murmur a string of senseless words and songs–your breath smelling of cheerios  and your smile full of mischief and daddy, time melts away, to do’s scatter like confetti, and my purpose lies snugly in the circle of my arms.

It makes me want to collect as many of these beautiful moments as I possibly can, the way you collect rocks wherever we go. Somehow you find beauty in even the dull, muted ones.

Sometimes I feel like I have no more love and patience to give, and so I grab on to the emotions that come more easily.
It’s so easy to choose to be frustrated and exhausted and exasperated when you want to “help” me with household chores, or beg to read one more book, or stumble out of bed, for the third time, asking  for a drink of water and a cuddle. Sometimes I feel like I have no more love and patience to give, and so I grab on to the emotions that come more easily. I distract you with TV or rush you through our bedtime routine so I can just survive the day.

Today as we were walking, I saw you with your eyes squeezed shut and nose chasing the wind. I asked you what you were smelling, and you responded, “pretty blooms and green leaves.” It made me stop, and laugh in surprise, and sniff the air to take in the smell of grass, and leaves, and yes…pretty blooms.

I realize that when I look back on my life I’m not going to count the number of crusty egg pans I scrubbed clean, or the number of passes I made across the carpet with my vacuum. I will cherish the lazy cuddles in an unmade bed, impromptu dance parties, kisses on pretend booboos, and pushes on the swing.

And you empower me to see that I have a choice between seeing the things of this life as blessings or burdens.
But even as you get older I can choose to get mad at you when you make mistakes, or to empower you to overcome them. And you empower me to see that I have a choice between seeing the things of this life as blessings or burdens. I can complain about my responsibilities or realize that responsibility comes out of opportunities. I can let disappointment and frustration grow into resentment and isolation, or I can choose to love people through their shortcomings.

You remind me that when I take a moment to stop and smell the pretty blooms, my days reveal a lot more purpose, and my heart has room for a lot more love.