Sometimes you just need to treasure the ponders of your heart...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 - One Word

Another new year and I can measure time in the height of my daughter and the smiles of my son. I feel days slip by as fast as a bowl of popcorn disappears and minutes melt like snow in Denver on a 64 degree December day. It rushes by, time. Relentless. Always pushing ahead. I struggle against it, try to catch it, try to pin it down. I worry about it, waste it, kill it some days even. I take infinite photos and record videos and voices and try to relive it and wonder how I missed it. It seems impossible that the year is two thousand and eighteen, that I am thirty-one, that my marriage is five years, that my Colorado residence is four years, that my children are three years old and four months old. So many numbers. So much time. Trying to measure. Trying to slow. Trying to stop. Dying to savor.

2017 was a roller coaster year (aren’t they all?). It began with much nausea filled with hope - the hopeful joy of a baby to come but only through the trial of morning sickness. We gathered with church leaders in January, were poured into, and gave thanks for the thousandth time for our church and the rich, healthy, Spirit-led, Word-planted leadership. We began co-leading our fellowship group in February and gave thanks again and again for the discovery of true community and faithful friends. March brought the visit of a dear friend, April the visit of dear family and the discovery that our family was gaining a son. In May, Alia fell out of bed and impressed the doctors with her bravery while being stitched up. The epic hailstorm totalled our car and the summer-long roof hammering began. Mamamama visited later that month and we escaped to the mountains for a somewhat snowy babymoon. Alia started swim lessons in June and we were able to find a new-to-us car. We took that new car on a cross country road trip in July and missed most of the family reunion, but got to spend time with family in Michigan and Kansas anyway. My pregnant belly did well, but poor Alia’s neck was sore from the trip. August reminded me again of God’s sweet goodness with a baby shower blessing and dear friends. The due date countdown came and went (August 31) and grandparents came to wait out the baby watch. September 5th brought our sweet Luca Elias through a natural labor (no inducing this time!) and unmedicated delivery. And while the end was intense, it was such a beautiful experience -- and MUCH shorter than the first time around!! Alia turned 3 in October and we celebrated with a cardboard city on the windiest day ever. We spent the sweetest little Thanksgiving, just the four of us in November, and a special Christmas the same way in December after three weeks of rolling visits from family.

Of course, those are the highlights.

It’s good to recount them. Good to count the blessings and count them again because sometimes it feels too dark to see the goodness, to see God’s goodness. It’s also been a rough year (rollercoaster, remember?). Almost four months later, I’m still dealing with post partum issues that the doctors can’t seem to figure out, zapping my energy and frustrating my soul. The adjustment to a family of four has been hard -- good, but hard. Patience is a daily, no, moment to moment struggle. (Exhibit A is how much longer it takes us to get out the door!!) Finances always seem a struggle. If I’m honest, God has been faithful through it all. If I’m really honest, it hasn’t seemed like it. Ironically, while typing that, my computer froze for a second and the words “Trying to connect…” appeared at the top of my screen. Yes. Yes, that. That exactly. It’s been a year of trying to connect. Trying to connect with God, connect with community, connect with our new family, connect with my emotions.

This year I’m not making resolutions. Sure, I’d love to stop eating sugar, get rid of stuff and opt for minimalism, write every day, reconnect with theatre, blah blah blah. But (nerd alert!) my “EnneaThought for the Day” dropped in my inbox with this thought: “This New Year's Eve you can lay the groundwork for continued growth without making any resolutions except one—to let go of the past, connect with yourself, to Wake Up, and be Present.” I couldn’t agree more. (Sidenote: I beginning to explore life - my life - through the lens of the enneagram and I must say it’s incredibly revealing and interesting. Perhaps more thoughts on that later.)

I usually jump on the “one word” train and choose a word that I would like to focus on for the year or that I feel God has placed on my heart as a vision for the year. For 2018, though, I’m choosing a phrase instead, a phrase that is already capturing my heart and inviting the Holy Spirit to do his good work. Ready?

All is grace.

That’s it. All is grace. The roller coaster is grace. The baby’s cries, the toddler’s tantrums, the grocery shopping, the empty journal, the questions, the doubts, the everyday life, the exciting moments, the disappointments -- ALL is grace. All of it opens the opportunity for me to turn to Jesus, to see how he makes all things new, how he works it all for good, how he changes it into glory - if I choose to see it. So, this year, I’m focusing on taking a second of the precious time that marches so swiftly and breathe the grace that it all, and I mean all, truly is. I’m letting go of the past, the mistakes, the fears, the worries, the hauntings of the past that like to tell me grace is impossible; I’m connecting with myself, my authentic self, not the self I mask or rush through or try to be, but who I am - there’s grace even in that; and I’m asking the Holy Spirit to wake me up so I can be present to his grace all around me.

It’s a hard one. It’s a humbling one. It’s a desperately necessary one.

What’s your word or phrase? I’d love to hear it. I’d love to keep reminding each other throughout the year that we made this choice way back in December/January. I know I tend to forget.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. It’s 2018! Happy New Year!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Good Night, Sweet One

Twisted awkwardly so my burgeoning belly is supported and I'm not strangled by your body draping across me, I dismiss the throbbing discomfort as you snuggle yet closer. You sigh as you settle your head on my shoulder, which I'm sure can't be completely comfortable for you either, and I know you aren't far from sleep. I cherish this moment with you, my firstborn. The moments when you are yet an only child will soon come to an end, making this one all the more sweet.

Your little hand reaches up and wraps around my neck, your body in a sudden starburst that stretches all the way to my knees. You used to fit entirely on my chest. Who is this long girl? My mouth is briefly filled with soft, long hair as you turn and I sputter as silently as possible so as not to disturb your now even breathing. A tear drops onto your head, not really from sadness but from that mother's ache way down deep that is hard to describe, full of terrible delight and the strength of sacrifice. I know someone who calls it a "joyful pain."

I stroke your fingers, longer than they once were. I find your fingernails, sporting chipped polish. I used to gaze in wonder at their tininess. Soon there will be more tiny fingernails in the house. I have a feeling you'll join me in the wonder-gazing: you're already fascinated with all thing tiny and baby.

My pregnant belly rumbles with hunger, yet I don't want to untangle this cuddle. I'm caught by the realization that soon meeting another's needs may result in the disappointment of some of your desires. I pray a blessing over you that we may always find special moments, just you and I. And I stretch this moment long because I'm still crying and you're still snuggling and you're the only one I need to hold right now.

Oh my daughter.

How I love you.

Oh, how I love you.

Good night my footie-pajama-clad, softly snoring, active even in your sleep, Alia Grace. You bring light to my heart even in a dark room and offer another glimpse of the Father's heart for me. I'm sorry your hair is salty wet.

Sweet dreams, daughter. May you actually get to ride the kite with Curious George this time. :)