It All Amounts to Love

Yawn

Ten Weeks,
Two Heartbeats,
My joy complete,

It all amounts to love.

Ten fingers, ten toes
Two Eyes, One Nose,
Two lips like a rose,

It all amounts to love.

Hungry cries,
Whispered lullabies,
Sleepless nights,

It all amounts to love.

Five loads of laundry, just today,
More to do’s than I can say,
Too tired at night to even pray,

It all amounts to love.

Smiles and tears,
Long days, short years,
Conquering fears,

It all amounts to love. 

 

 

 

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Love In The Details

feet

Mommy where was I when God made the world?
You were a promise in the stars.
Mommy where was I when you were a girl?
You were my imaginary friend.

Mommy where was I when you married daddy?
You were the blush in my cheeks and the dimple in daddy’s smile.
Mommy where was I before I was born?
You were the flutter in my tummy.

Mommy when I grow up where will I be?
You will be God’s answer to someone’s prayer.
The best friend with a box of tissues and good chocolate.
You will be the pink cheeked bride,
and the Mommy wrapping her hands around a growing belly.

Mommy where will you be?
A hand to hold; an ear to listen.
The point of your chin, the curve of your brow,
Bedtime stories, eskimo kisses,
“I love you mores”, And flowers dressed as dandelions.

Mommy we’ll always be together?
In all the ways that matter.

 

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Giving up on Success

free

Today I look around my house at the endless list of things I could do. In this sacred solitude, I feel a magnetic guilt that pulls my mind to the undone tasks. It takes a resolute decision to take a precious moment to fix myself a bialetti coffee, poured in my gold stamped, “blogging day” mug, and position my fingers to dance over my keyboard.

I wonder if it is the plan of the enemy to persuade us that doing things we enjoy is frivolous, rather than a necessary art. After all, what better way to render us useless than to keep us from dancing, relishing, and celebrating life? When our lives become about duties, tasks and responsibilities we become like the machines we create; designed to respond to programming rather than human emotion. But when we feel, react, and challenge, thats when we go from crowd pleasing to head turning.

Machines don’t start movements, write poetry, embrace for sheer pleasure, create out of enjoyment, stand still just to feel the wind on their face; and machines certainly don’t dance. Dancing is far too frivolous for the serious business of a machine.

I’ve been in a season of asking a lot of questions. Questions put us on uncertain ground, but yet, nothing is more certain than an answer. An answer is a challenged truth. A truth that has been tested, evaluated, and proven true.

Recently I keep asking myself why I do what I do? Why do I blog or write a book? Why do I read? Why do I lead Bible Study or moms group? Because, none of these things are within my realm of responsibility. They aren’t my job and they don’t fall under my duties as a wife, or mother, daughter, sister, or friend, so why do them? And once more, does my doing them really matter?

When people ask me “what do you do?” I feel like I’m supposed to only include the things I do to make money, but honestly, those aren’t really the things that make my fingers buzz with joy.

I think that in this age we have confused careers with callings.

I don’t make money writing about God. I aspire to become a Christian author, but if a wild haired man climbed out of a shiny metallic time machine from the future and told me, “You will never make a dime as a Christian writer,” I think I would keep it up anyway. Why? Because human hearts aren’t programmed to produce- God made us in His image to create.

When we define success by popularity, paychecks, and position, in order to live in bigger houses, to do more work, and please more people, we will always come up short, or at least, the satisfaction is fleeting.  

T.S. Eliot was quoted as saying about the radio, “it is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.”

Maybe success is the medium by which we all try to listen to the same joke. We all pretend to smile, and laugh, and get it, but deep down, we’re all aching for something more; never really feeling like we’re hearing the same joke as everyone else, or maybe everyone else just has a betters sense of humor.

Success tells me I haven’t arrived, but when I create, I’m there in that moment, living my calling. I think if each of us took a little more time making less money and enjoying what we’re really good at, doing that thing that makes our bellies feel warm and our feet tingle, well I think we would all feel more human, in a really good way.

The day that I write in order to achieve, more than to create, is the day I should stop. Because there is nothing I can achieve in this world that has more value than my Creator. And by His Spirit, I pray that these humble words I type don’t just achieve human success, but touch human hearts.

 

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How Babies Are Made

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Two people wanted a moment to last forever,
So they curled together in the shape of a heart,
and made a promise,

No matter what happens, for this moment, we aren’t alone,

Some people carve their love on a tree, to watch it grow.
But they planted a seed to grow something new.

And in their frail whispers and uncertain moments,
God with his great power used small intimate hands,
to gently knit together an answer to their questions,

A growing promise that breaks through the temporary into eternity.

And as they whispered to one another a question “I love you?”
He said, “Yes,” with a gift of love, a baby; a girl; a man; a name,

A branch that shoots from a stump, and burgeons into a wild green tree.
Reaching its feet deep into the Earth, Stretching its fingers up into Heaven.

Elyse 1 hospital

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Wasn’t I Made for More than Dirty Dishes?

made for more hope hopeless life faith Moms

“We were made for more than just ordinary lives. Its time for us to more than just survive. We were made to Thrive.” Casting Crowns

Today I have felt itchy. 

Not the kind of itch thats relieved with the good scratch of untrimmed finger nails, but an itch that feels like a buzz under my skin. A holy discontentment that I can’t summarize with words.

For part time work I write ad copy. My job is to make things appealing and relatable with words. So while doing my real life job as a stay at home mom, I keep my creative mind busy turning over words and ideas, to craft something new and unexpected that convinces you life is better with (fill in the blank). Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work that I begin to believe I need to do more, or be more to have a better life.

January has been a slow month for work, and my mind feels restless. Like a bored cat pounces at a bright ball of yarn, my unoccupied brain takes my fears captive, pulling out threads of worry and insecurity.  

When I don’t have an assignment to write, my time is freed up to blog, or write that book I’ve been dreaming about. I’m without excuse….And now…I find myself without words.

When I haven’t written something in a while I begin to wonder if my fingers still know what they are doing. Will I be able to sit before the bright blue tiles and string together a story, or poem, a blog post, that summarizes all of the joy and love; all the uncertainty, doubt and fear that twists and pulls and tugs in a confused jumble of bright emotions in my heart? Will my words still be enough? Will someone be able to really see the real me so that I can be known? I begin to believe the lie that who I am is what I do. Its what I write, its the money I make, its what I look like, or the kind of mom I am.

In my itchy, wordless, weary place I read His word:

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.” John 1:1-5
“14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

As a writer I wrap my identity up in the words that I write. But then God Himself is the Word.  My own words are just a mirror to catch and reflect His light. God doesn’t want my pretty package of words, He delights in my reverence. His word reminds me that my identity can’t be written with my own two hands– no, I was made for more than anything I can create. 

If I try to follow the script the world writes, then I will never be enough. Even if I sacrifice my life to being enough, there will always be more to do, accomplish, earn, and achieve, like the incessant stream of social media updates that hunger for attention.  My worth is reduced to the next best thing. 

But then God delights in those who put their hope in His unfailing love; a well that never runs dry. A horse and a warrior will cripple with age. My words will get lost like the hundreds of unread books that sit on my shelf. But the Word who is God and spoke this spinning ball of an Earth into existence; yes the word of God that made darkness, light, and life, breathes life into my lungs, His Word reveals my purpose and Who He created me to be.

When I get itchy under my skin I think its my soul feeling how ill fitting this flesh really is. Its my heart longing to just sit at His feet and weep and laugh and rest. I get so tired of being the daughter of the one true king, deeply loved and divinely called, and yet burdened with dirty dishes and hungry mouths, with unpaid bills and unmowed lawns. I want to shout to the world about God’s love. I want to see hearts healed and lives transformed, I want to usher in God’s redemption and grace and embolden other women to let their blood burn in their veins for Him too.

Then I remember that Jesus took on burdensome flesh too.

Divine God took on human inconveniences like eating, washing, and sleeping. Jesus, Son of God, God Himself, made His dwelling among us so that He could know the discomforts of human flesh.

He came to bring us a hope that burns brighter than this pale human world- He came to be among us, and remind us, that we’re not of this world. So that we can remember that who we are isn’t wrapped up in human flesh. Its not wrapped up in the things we do in this world. We were made for more. We are clothed in Christ, Word made flesh, who exhaled, “It is finished.”

God, who submitted Himself to us, so that we could be His once and for all.

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Christmas Blues

 

welovelogo

My daughter was playing with the felt heart on our advent calendar. She held it up, closing one eye to inspect it in the ray of sun filtering through the window.

“Look mommy, this heart means love.”

“Yes, because love came down at Christmas time.”

“Where is love Mom?”

“In Jesus”

“But how can I see love?”

“Hmmm…I see love in the Christmas tree we put up together. I see love in the pictures of us on the wall. I see love when I look at you. Can you find love in this room?”

“I see love in the water in that cup on the table.”

“Why is that?”

“Because we need to drink water to live…right mom?”

“Absolutely.”

The conversation I had with my three year old reminds me that I’ve been going through the motions of Christmas, but I’ve been forgetting the most important part, the love. 

As a busy mom, I can go half the morning without downing anything but black coffee. My body eventually reminds me it is desperate for water, with a foggy brain and pulsing pain at my temples.

I’m terrible at drinking quickly. If I was ever challenged to a chugging contest, I would forfeit, because, my body doesn’t even know how.  Chugging hurts my throat and makes me feel suffocated. So, when it comes to water, I’m forced to drink it slowly, sip by sip. 

Love slows me down too. When I live in love, I sip up each moment with relish. I don’t realize how desperately I needed it until I start to take it in.

Its easy to go through the motions of Christmas without the feelings. Sometimes we hope that the feelings will catch up somehow. We can feel dried up and numb of emotion, or flooded with unexpected melancholy and sadness. Its not always easy to teach our heart to feel the right emotions- it can misbehave like an unruly child. But love is patient with us. It sits there and waits like a glass of water on a table, ready to be picked up and sipped in.

Jesus didn’t wait for ready hearts to come onto the scene. He certainly didn’t wait for a room twinkling with candles and strung up with garland and lights. The stars and stable were enough. Announcements didn’t go out, Bethlehem was busy and bustling with a census. No, shepherds and livestock would do as an adoring audience. He surrendered himself to the care of a scared new mom who cried out in pain and felt the sharp sting of love mixed with uncertainty and fear, pure awe and wonder. Jesus came down as love that first learned to breathe, and suckle, to eat, and toddle, walk and talk and live as our flesh.

So easily, I simplify love as the warm fuzzy feelings. I want to wrap Christmas in tinsel and tradition, and happy thoughts, but the truth is Christmas is about a Savior who patiently endured pain and struggle to be among us. True love is enduring the good and bad, and the tedious to be with someone. Love is waiting and walking alongside someone. 

I can find love in decorating a Christmas tree, or the happy snapshots of memories as a family. But my daughter reminds me that its in everything. Its in shedding tears as you say goodbye to your brother, or dad, and hold out the hope that one day you will share a table with them again. Its in watching those you love grow older, its in forgiving, and washing dishes, in sitting with the pain of loss and still getting up to make breakfast for the family. Love is quenching our thirst, our need for more than what this world can offer. Love waits for us patiently. It puts on our flesh and learns to walk with us. Yes, love comes down in an infant, is lifted up on a cross and buried in the earth. Love rises again, to draw us home. Love sustains, it fills us up, it overflows and it quenches our thirsty souls. Love makes everything complete.

 

 

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Conversation (with my 3 year old) Over a Sugar Cookie

sugar-cookie wonder poem

A pink frosted heart, A rainbow sprinkled star.
Mommy I’m having love first.
Yummy. Who made your heart?
God of course!

Did He make Love?
God made the stars.
How did He make the stars?
He sang, “twinkle, twinkle”
and then He wondered.
What’s wonder?
Why?
Yes.

But He made Love first Mom,
He made everything with Love.

Can I have milk?

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Gratitude is a lot Like Raspberries

 

raspberries gratitude in motherhood

I hesitate to take the thin plastic container from the fridge. I bought them for eating, but then there’s the matter of rinsing them clean. They’re not always the easiest fruit to snack on either. Somehow my kids find a way to spread the pink juice on their fingers and around the corners of their mouth. My grown up toddler smashes them on her tray and then runs her sleeves in it.

Raspberries. They’re even spelled differently to emphasize their explosive nature. They look like innocent pink clumps, but under a bit of pressure they burst. Eating them is a sensory overload of texture and taste. Tart, sweet, crunchy, juicy, messy…yes…raspberries.

This morning as my kids popped them in their mouths, pleasure spreads like gratitude, all over their hands and faces…

Finish reading this post over at Fresh Hope for Mental Health!

 

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I’m More Like Jonah than I thought…

jonah

Her quilt swallows her tiny body. A large pink gingham mouth envelops her head to reveal her three year old face.

“Mommy I’m afraid.”
“What are you afraid of?” I bend down and kiss her brow, creased with a comma.
“I’m afraid because Jonah keeps getting swallowed again and again, because he doesn’t listen to God. He keeps ending up in the whale’s belly.”

My trained words respond “No.” “No honey, the whale spit up Jonah,” but in my head I’m shouting “Yes.” Exactly yes. That is the truest thing I’ve heard all day.

As my body sits there with her, my mind is deep, deep underwater, in the warm, dark, damp insides of a giant fish.

I’m afraid. I’m unsure, and my mind is lonely, but my body is flooded with touch and affection from two little bodies. My mind feels overwhelmed and bored. My heart feels lost and found, and achingly empty and spilling over full, all in the journey of a day.

My body puts away laundry, washes dishes, and cleans sticky hands and faces. While my thoughts float, and dip, and sink into the noiseless depths of obscurity, weighed down by fear and questions.

Do I love my children enough? Am I going to be enough of a mom to form them into good people? Am I the wife my husband needs— the sister, the daughter? What if my people weren’t mine anymore? Or worse, what if I blinked and they disappeared?

These questions flood my mind and steal my identity. I become a hungry whale that swallows and fills myself up with people, and approval, and validation. So full, and sick, and empty again.

I turn out the lights in my daughter’s bedroom and find my way to the living room in the darkness. I fold my body into the corner of the couch. A lamp seems too bright for my mood. The wind whips the branches of the trees and rain beats a dramatic tempo overhead. I wake up my sleeping computer and pull up the story of Jonah and the whale. I read these words from the Bible. Funny, I never noticed them before.

“Notice all through this story that, although Jonah was God’s servant, he was always thinking about himself. God protected Jonah and saved him, not because he was such a good man, but because he wanted to teach him a great lesson.”

A heart turned in on itself is rendered useless. I think of my fifteen month old, how she wobbles from foot to foot, eyes affixed on her bloated belly as she walks into whatever is right in front of her. Sometimes I am so unsure in my own skin that I clumsily stumble through the world, oblivious to the needs of others, rendered useless by my own fears and insecurities.

As I read these words about Jonah, they resonate with my soul. Maybe I keep entering into the same dark places so that God can teach me a lesson too. A lesson about how to resurface. How to look up.

But maybe a fish’s belly is where I need to be sometimes too. In the depth of uncertainty, to be alone with my creator; letting Him form and reshape me.

I think about how God himself entered a woman’s belly to reshape the world- and I crack a smile like the moon. My daughter is smarter than she knows.

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Mommy I Need You

mom-i-need-you

  “Mommy I need you.”

I am a hummingbird.
Floating, deceptively still
Brain vibrating and fingers whirring
Over the keyboard.
“I’m right here honey.”

“Mommy I need you.”
I am an ant.
Tracing figure eights about the house.
Resolutely hauling
laundry baskets and brooms back and forth.
“I’m right here honey.”

“Mommy I need you.”
I am a tiger.
Crouching, staring at my phone screen.
Eyes tracking and fingers pouncing
On colored icons and buttons.
“I’m right here honey.”

“Mommy I need you.”
I am a butterfly.
Flapping wildly.
Entrapped
In a net of tangled thoughts.
“I’m right here honey.”

“Mommy, I really need you.”
I am eyes, looking in her face.
I am arms, holding her tightly.
I am the wet kiss that stamps her forehead.
“I’m right here honey.”
“Yes, here you are”

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