The day I realized I had Kindergarten all wrong

“Her mom probably cried when she left for Kindergarten and I celebrated with my friends by going out to brunch.”

I picked up this (mis)quote somewhere along the road (I think it’s from Jen Hatmaker and I think it’s from her blog, or her book Seven. Forgive me for my terrible sourcing here.)

I’ve repeated it with friends during friendly banter about how ready I was for my children to go off to school.

I’m one of THOSE moms, I said, the ones who will drop them off at school and head for the coffee shop with a grin on my face.

And then came the night before Kindergarten. As I emerged from the bathroom after brushing my teeth Kel signaled for me to follow him into the kid’s bedroom.

“This is the last night we have two preschoolers, she starts Kindergarten tomorrow… We have a school kid!”

We squinted at each other in the dim light and exchanged some sort of “holy crap” type look complete with raised eyebrows.

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She was going to school, for real school, not preschool but like big, huge, out in the world school.

And then I started to cry, and panic, and wish that we had some paper bags in the house so I could hyperventilate properly. (Kel offered to get me a plastic bag to which I responded “are you trying to kill me?!?”)

We headed to bed to chat about it all more and I started sobbing to him.

“I get it! I get why Moms cry when they send their kids to school! It’s not because they can’t stand to be without them for a while, it’s because this world is so damn scary and mean and we won’t be there! I need five more years to talk to her about All. The. Things!”

“Like how to be resilient when people are mean to her! And how to show love to a kid who everyone else is being mean to! And how she needs to believe what we teach her about who she is and who God says she is so if someone teases her for being too busy or picking her nose she will know that what they say doesn’t matter because people suck Kel! And OH MY GOD someone is going to offer her drugs like tomorrow, I just know it, we haven’t talked about drugs. I need five more years, I won’t be there! She is NOT READY for the big world.”

I am not ready to let the world have a crack at her. Not yet.

Because guys? The world can be so mean, so so mean and she is sweet, she is all kitties and big brown eyes and almost too many hugs and kisses every single day.

I don’t want careless people to break that.

Do you remember how scary school can be? And how mean kids are? I may as well toss her to the wolves as send her to Kindergarten!

I know she will come home crying and I know that we will have 17,842 more talks about life as it’s happening, complete with names, faces and context.

But Kindergarten day was dawning and I felt suddenly obscenely unprepared.

Still, the sun rose and we pulled on her skort and her polo. I did her hair in pigtails WITH little braids in them, completely exhausting my updo skills.

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We walked down to the fantastic Montessori school and I kept breathing as we stood amongst a crowd of other excited buzzing parents and children.

When her teacher walked out I eyeballed her and thought something along the lines of: you better cherish her little heart and see how wonderful she is or I will break you in half…(just kidding Ms Jennifer… if you’re reading this I’m sorry and I swear I will rock snack duty next week.)

It’s like this:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ~Elizabeth Stone

This quote nails it.

Suddenly you wake up and you send your unprepared heart to Kindergarten, and it’s all exposed and out there. You can’t swoop in to protect it and past experience tells you that there’s a 1000% chance it will be broken time and time again.

You think of every mean thing that happened to you and try frantically to protect your child from enduring the same. You know broken is beautiful and that she has to learn to endure heartache, to believe in who she is because she’s had to defend it, to see the world through other people’s eyes because she has access to them…

And you want to believe that God has her, but your life tells you that his “in control” and your “in control” are worlds apart. He will allow hard things to happen to her, the bitter and the sweet are coming, neither of which call to question his power or love… somehow.

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So you send your heart to Kindergarten and you make peace with the lump in your throat and the look of terror on your face. You remind yourself that you are new at being a school-kid mom and that you have much to learn as well.

And you will learn, both of you, and it will be some sort of okay even though it will constantly take you by surprise.

And you realize the morning of Kindergarten that not only do you have no idea how to spell the world, that you grossly misjudged how it would feel to send her through those doors to face the big world, to let it have access to her.

See how I spelled it wrong? I clearly don't get Kindergarten. Stupid german words.

See how I spelled it wrong? I clearly don’t get Kindergarten. Stupid german words.

Oh world, be gentle
Oh God shape her, May I always be her safe place second only to you as you are the only one who has staying power on this earth.
Oh Noelle, be brave, be unapologetically yourself, be a good friend, a passionate learner.
Oh God… be with her in that classroom, preserve that heart so she can show the world how much beauty you jam packed in there… 

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Meeting Nickel Baby ( A gender reveal and subsequent feelings )

Hi friend, it’s been a while. Too long really.

RIght now I’m sitting in the living room while our family watches world cup, loudly, and my daughter pecks at my feet with a beanie baby rooster. This is life, crazy and often happening all at once.

My son is sleeping on the love seat after falling asleep on the way home from the pool, it’s 5:25. This is likely not a great idea but I really don’t have the energy or creativity to get him to wake up right now.

And this morning we got to see baby Penny #3 on ultrasound, which brought tears from all of the places my feelings originate from.

At first the baby wouldn’t cooperate with the ultrasound tech, position wise, so I had to take a walk around the building and chug some more water for bladder fullness.

Then slowly the tech was able to get the measurements she needed. Legs, arms, belly, fingers all accounted for.

FInally she asked us if we wanted to know the gender, we did, we do. I’m still not sure all the reasons why we always find out early, I guess my theory is that the surprise happens either way, at 20 weeks or at 40.

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Kel knew figured it out before the tech got there, We’re having a baby girl!

We told the kids the only way that seemed appropriate, over pink cream cheese bagels.

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Noelle was a lot happier about the news than Caedmon. He’s sort of bummed about not having a baby brother, which is fine. He will be excited when she arrives, right?

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Since the bagel reveal with cute cream cheese photos was a total flop we picked up some balloons, should have been an obvious first choice. Kids love balloons more than bagels. They’ll turn around one day.

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Today I am full of feelings, some of them joyful and excited and some look  more like question marks.

Can we parent three kids well in the middle of all this transition?
Can I bring up daughters who are strong and confident, who trust God in a deep sense and who believe they can do hard things?

Probably. There is healing, there is learning, there is grace.

God meets us all sorts of places, especially in the midst of fear and chaos.

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Just don’t Die: An Update, A Theme Song and a Shout Out to Survival Mode

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This is a scene from our Sunday morning breakfast counter. In case you need me to break it down for you: That’s french toast, next to a bottle of wallpaper remover and a hand held paint cup we use for cutting in.

Shall we go over a list of things that were driving me nuts at the moment I snapped this picture?

1) Those chemicals are far too close to our food, we’re all going to get cancer from this breakfast. Why ARE THEY SHARING THE SAME SPACE?
2) We try to eat grain free, in theory, lately with all the stress we just eat all the grainy gluten we can get our hands on…. topped with sugar, because I’m pregnant and the rest of my family has a child’s palate.
3) That french toast and the time to I took to take this picture made us horribly late for church, not even our church, but a church visit in which Kel was speaking.

This is life right now, it’s just normal next to chaos, both fighting to share the spotlight.

Moving has been extra hard on me, I’m very sensitive to lack of routine and chaos. When you pair this with the end of the preschool school year it means that all my organization is in a box somewhere and all of my “me time” to catch up on writing time is gone.

For years I’ve beaten myself up and told myself to go with the flow a bit more, always wondering why I couldn’t be one of those laid back people who could roll with whatever and be really and truly cool with it.

I give up, I am not one of those laid back people who can thrive in chaos, so I may as well work with what I have, with who I am.

There is no use in trying to live your own life wishing you had someone else’s skill set. It’s far more helpful to navigate your life in light of who you actually are.

And right now I am a Highly Sensitive, ENFJ in survival mode: pregnant, in the midst moving into a new house that we’re tweaking, helping plant a church in the midst of summer (meaning the kids and I are spending most every day together, leaving me precious little time and energy to tackle projects.)

This is not my optimal setup, this is not my wheelhouse. And that’s okay.

Survival Mode, I make peace with you, this is not life forever but it is life for now, things are going to be mixed up and chaotic.

I have adopted this new theme song, that has always made me smile in the midst of chaos and survival living.

Watch this video, because Seinfeld always says it better

“Just don’t die, don’t die, don’t die, don’t die
There’s a fish, there’s a rock, who cares, don’t die. 
I don’t wanna die, don’t let me die
Let’s swim and breathe and live,
cause living is good and dying, not as good.”

It’s sort of the grown up version of Finding Nemo’s “Just keep swimming.”

Things are crazy right now.
Yes I am blessed, but these circumstances are overwhelming.
And that’s okay, I am who God created me to be, navigating it as best I can.

And right now my best life looks like this:

1) We have everything we need to function, No, the house doesn’t look like I’d love it to, but freaking out will only make us all miserable so I’m going to try to avoid that.
2) Kel is already overloaded at work and overloading him at home will also only make him… and then all of us… miserable. So we go at a pace that includes rest and breaks, even though this takes longer we all come out feeling alive and far less burned out on it all. None of us are machines.
3) I prayed for this house, these children and the ability to be home with them, yes it’s hard, but these answered prayers oughtn’t be thrown away.
4) I’m pregnant and even though I am in my second trimester, my energy level isn’t where it usually would be, a perfect playroom and living room isn’t worth an unhealthy pregnancy. ‘Nuff said.

There’s more, I’m sure, but this is the gist of it.

And if all this fails (and sometimes it does) I think of my dear friend’s new daughter, a beautiful little five year in Ethiopia, who they are in the process of adopting.

She is in an orphanage with developmental delays, most of which are a result of an rough childhood.

These is truly hard, truly tough, truly overwhelming circumstances and her story never fails to bring tears to my eyes and to remind me that the color of my cabinets is meaningless in the light of what is truly important to the human heart.

Unconditional Love, acceptance and safety.

Selah and Amen.

Oh and if you would like to donate anything at all to help the O’Neal family bring their daughter home, please click here to donate.

You will likely be hearing more about this little girl in the weeks to come, please continue to pray for her and this sweet family as they prepare to welcome her home. 

Does transition overwhelm you? What have you learned about yourself in seasons such as these? 

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We Are Five, We Are Free

My daughter Noelle turned five yesterday. My oldest baby is five.

As I removed the classic, waxy number five candle from it’s packaging, while children gathered around plates of cupcakes, it struck me hard.

She. Is. Five.

We are five. Five years of mothering and daughtering together.

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Five years of stories, kitties, curly hair and a bouncy brown eyed daughter playing upon my every imaginable emotion.

As I looked down at that candle in my palm I fought the urge to stop the party, scoop her up and never let go.

How can she be five? Telling jokes? Heading to kindergarten? Starting to make her way in the world?

Where has it all gone and for the love of mercy if I cry this much at preschool graduation, how on earth am I going to weather further milestones? I think I’ll have to bring a therapist and an oxygen mask to her high school graduation, and college? Forgetaboutit.

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This weekend has been a time of celebrations, streamers, kitty masks and cupcakes.

But it has also been one of reflection for me, of inner processing and renewed resolve.

There is something that happened inside me over the last five years, this season of raising a daughter while grieving my broken, painful relationship with my own mother.

And this weekend it all came into focus for me: I have been mothering my daughter out of fear.

Fear that she will grow to hate me, fear that I will hurt her more than help her, fear that she shares all my worst flaws and that the world will hand her more than her fair share of pain and steal her joy.

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Noelle and I are cut of the same cloth temperament-wise. We are extroverted, busy, bright and distractible. It’s more personality type than a diagnosis, more learning-style than disability, but here we are.

This shared temperament didn’t serve me well as a child, maybe it was my peers or the adults who had influence over my life, but I grew up a sad, lonely little girl.

I spent years of my life believing that although they said God didn’t make junk, that I was the exception to that rule.

I fought to fit in and generally failed, I grew up feeling rejected and small.

The past five years with Noelle have been spent worried that history would repeat itself, that she would feel rejected by the world and that our relationship would somehow be strained and broken.

That my life was somehow starting over again, through hers.

I don’t know if you project your worst fears and past issues on your children’s lives , but I do. It’s far more inward than outward, but I worry and wonder if all the worst things of my life are guaranteed to play out in theirs.

I worry, then I do everything in my power to give them a foothold for better.

Did I ever tell you why we named her Noelle? 

It’s because Christmas was a revolution, the baby in the manger came to offer a fresh start, a new thing, a rhythm of grace and love open to all.

Given the broken, painful homes we came from, we wanted something new, a fresh start, a revolution.

So we named her Noelle, the beginning of our revolution.

Yet these past five years haven’t felt too revolutionary, how could they when I’ve spent them mothering in fear?

This weekend as she bounced through the celebration of her life God showed me something new, something beautiful, something intrinsically true.

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She is Noelle, she is His creation and she is exactly who he had in mind for her to be.

She will be loved, if not by all than by many, for she embodies his joy and creativity in her approach to life.

He will sustain her through the inevitable brokenness, just as he did me.

She is my beautiful daughter and the energy we share will flow through her to bring about good works, to bring grace to pain.

I need not fear her or what we share, rather I shall join in (finally) in celebrating what I have spent too long worrying about and projecting upon.

This is my daughter, sent to me by a wise and wonderful God on purpose, with purpose for the benefit of so many.

She is holding up to her name, she is healing brokenness through God’s work in her life.

And she has started with her Mother.

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Do you project your worries on to the life of your children? How has God set you free from that?

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God, I don’t give this to you.

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It was past midnight, maybe three AM when I found myself face down on our dingy comforter silently sobbing these words:

God I give this to you, I give it to you, I give it to you.

I sat up. I got honest.

God I don’t give this you, not today. I fully acknowledge that it IS IN FACT yours right now but my fingers won’t unclench. They will not release. Today I cannot let this drop into your hands where I fully understand that it already rests.

Today I am grasping, today I lack the faith, today I am fully of reasons not to trust you but God… will you help me? 

Could you love me, even now when my fear and faithlessness gather into piles of reasons why you shouldn’t? 

God I am through pretending that I leave my endeavors, my people, my life, my plans in your hands because I think we both see me scrambling for control, for the reigns, for the false hope that I was ever in charge in the first place.

I wonder if the only way to get somewhere in all of this is to sit up straight, walk out of bed, turn on the lamp and confess to you plainly that I do not trust you. That I do not give this to you… but that I want to, deeply, with a desperation kin a deep, desert thirst.

Continue to romance me? To pry my fingers open one by one saying “dear one, dear one… I got this. I got it love, please let go, drop it into the hands that have never stopped holding it. I know you are wounded, I know that you have questions and reasons why the only person who can make things okay is you but I promised you freedom and I will never stop calling you thusly.

He cannot promise he that everything will be okay
That there will not be additional pain, even loss.
That promise does not exist friends.

So tonight I sit up in the midnight hour and confess honestly the heart space in which I find myself.

God I do not trust with you my children and I do not trust you with my husband.
I do not trust you with our provision and I do not trust that you go before.

But God? I want to.

Can you spare a bit more patience? Go with me a while longer while I point out all the ways in which you have let my prayers fall through the cracks or be answered with the worst possible ends?

Will you forgive me my faithlessness a bit longer while I come to terms with it and beg a bit more forgiveness? A bit more love, a bit more time on our journey back to trust.

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Where Perceived Judgement Teaches Me That My Way Is Good, Too.

birdfreedom

So, I go to a sort of a… crunchy church.  At least it feels like that to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love that we have compostable everything and that my children learn about the bible through actors and readings rather than on tv screens.

Yet, sometimes I feel a bit “less than” in the face of all the wholesome goodness. I feel like if wholesome were a game, I would be middle of the pack… or lower.

We have regular (BPA free) Target sippy cups, with Cars characters on them
I did not cloth diaper
I only breastfed for one year
My kids eat the non-organic Aldi brand (100% all natural) fruit snacks

Every morning my kids get up and watch a little (usually educational) TV so I can work.

Often I feel, wrong…

Take this past Sunday where despite our best efforts we arrived late to church. Due to the snow and the low volunteer turnout there was no room in kid’s church for our three year old son.

So I prepared him for a teachable, “life’s not always fair” moment while my husband checked our daughter into her room and we took him to “big church.”

I melted a little when he asked: “Why didn’t they have room for me?” and told him they did in their hearts but not in the rooms, that people couldn’t make it in to play with him because of the snow.

He seemed okay, then asked the inevitable question:

“Can I play on your phone?”

Sigh…. “Yes, but NOT during the songs.”

During the songs we bounced and sang along and helped him engage what we call “big church.”

Then as we settled in for the sermon he looked up at me with expectant eyes and an open palm.

The phone please.

I looked around (surely judgement was on it’s way) and handed him the phone so I could tune in to a desperately needed teaching on help, faith and prayer.

For the first twenty minutes it worked great, he built pretend cupcakes on my phone as I tuned my heart in to the words of the pastor at the center of the room (we do church in the round).

During the last third of the sermon he started to get restless. Why? Well because he could only shoot the angry birds backwards… obviously.

So my husband scooped him up and did what any good Pastor (who isn’t preaching today) does with his son in church.

Shush him?
Tell him a parable?
Hand him a bible?

Nope.

He taught him how to shoot the birds correctly, obviously.

Every time a bird and pig collided, my son erupted in a giggle that was slightly disruptive but a million percent endearing and my husband couldn’t stop grinning.

Me? Well of course I joined in by feeling a deep level of embarrassment and shame via some daydreaming about what “good families” must do”

Good families have children that play with wooden toys during church while subtly absorbing foundational truths that will see them through the rest of their lives.

Good families whisper into their children’s ear and explain the message on a three year old level while missing half the sermon, because those moms don’t need it like I do… they’re naturally holy.

Good families don’t use Cars cups, they use expensive glass ones withs with cool tops and their children never demand juice with marathon tantrums.  They say something like: “Excuse me mummy, would you refresh my drink while I continue to build these blocks after which I will pick them all up, especially the ones under the couch?”  Probably while wearing both clean clothes AND pants…

Daydream-shaming was interrupted by church activity: to write our prayers on pieces of paper, to ask for help from Our Father directly, specifically and then to fold those prayers into paper birds.

I did so after which we rose to sing another song. I can’t remember what it was but it grounded me from my shame-spiral. As was we sang I handed my son the prayer-scribbled bird which he pretended to fly in the air as he rested in his daddy’s arms.

Then I heard it, that voice that doesn’t originate from my own nervous spirit: “Your way is good too, be free”

There was something about the bird and the music, something about my son playing with the vehicle of my prayers that made this truth sink in, deeply.

Your way is good too, be free from the voices of not good enough.
Be free from thinking everyone else is doing it better, from that illusion.
Free yourself up to be you, that’s what I’m really inviting you to.  

The early morning TV and writing, the angry-bird giggling, the ugly sippy cups, the cheap date nights at home, the wild play around the house in lunch-stained shirts with no pants, really it’s my freedom.

our home
our life
our way is good too.

So is yours.

Be free to love your way of doing things,to look around yourself and find more good than “things that need fixing.”

Be free from always finding yourself lacking.

Write it all on a bird and let it all fly away.  

Whatever my mix of calling is… wife/mom/writer/pastor’s wife/communications director… it must contain a freedom and the ability to love “my way,” my place.

To love us.

Your way is good too, let’s be free.

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Loved Showed Up – Sometimes, It’s Okay To Be Loved

Today is week four in the “Love Showed Up” series, every Monday for the foreseeable future  for more on what that means, go here. Today Briana Meade is sharing a story with us, one that will make you gasp at the beginning (especially if you’re a parent) and tear up a bit at the end because she nails it beautifully. 

We spent the good part of the last Sunday of 2013 in the Emergency Room. While we were there, we received several offers to come to the hospital, the promise of a frozen lasagna left on our porch, and a church family who came to pick up our frustrated and nap-deprived toddler.

That Sunday, we arrived at church in the pouring rain. It was raining so hard that rivers were pouring down our windshield before the wipers could swish them away. Our 5-month old Kaiden was  wet from putting him into the car to get to church. He had screamed so pathetically as I shushed him that I wanted to keep him from receiving another dose of cold water down his back.

When my husband pulled the car up to the church, I wrangled Kaiden out of his car seat, put him in my arms and tried to run to the nearest dry spot. What I didn’t see was the giant curb that stopped me short, cutting my legs out from underneath me.

I can see it now. It was the scary fall, fall, fall of his tiny little body, the moment I realized I was about to crush my baby into the pavement and tried to steady myself as his body left my hands. The traumatic crack of his head against the cement. The fear that stopped me from breathing for a brief second as I let myself fall to his side without any additional resistance.

I did the only thing I knew how to do in that moment: scream for help. I collapsed next to my little boy and screamed and screamed. For those brief moments, I thought he was sure to have severe brain injuries. I yelled like I imagine many mothers have over the centuries: in utter helplessness. It was an out-of-control scream, a where-are-you-Jesus scream.

We drove like mad people to the Emergency Room. He seemed calm after a brief bout of screaming, but I kept searching his eyes for signs that he was slipping into sleep. His hands were cold. I couldn’t think. We just drove.

Briana and son

We arrived at the ER. It was the second time this year that we sipped OJ out of hospital cups with aluminum on top and took pictures of ourselves on the cot. We smiled tentatively into the phone camera to commemorate yet another ER visit even as we waited for a diagnosis that could potentially break us back down into tears.

We called our family and our pastor. Our pastor prayed on the phone with us and it felt good to be doing something out loud. To have someone else besides angry, guilty, inconsolable me  covering the situation with God. I wasn’t even sure God wanted to listen to me anyways in the incoherent state I was in.  It was intervention of the best kind.

It was someone praying for us, with us, through us, behind us.

It was accepting when we are not enough. The faith that someone else might be the lifeline and anchor to pull us closer to God’s throne-room when we feel like we not in the right place to ask God for anything.

There was good news, then potentially bad news: a CAT scan. In the meantime, a family from the church came and picked up Zoe. They had heard what was happening from our pastor and drove all the way to the ER to take our toddler off our hands. I put Zoe into the all-ready prepared car seat and watched them drive off knowing that I had nothing to give back for the effort they had put in to drive there and for their kindness.

The CAT scan came back. His skull, his brain, it was all fine. We went home with a happy boy and two exhausted parents and thankful hearts.

The ER this year became a lesson in falling into God’s lap and sitting still instead of even attempting to pray or give back. We’ve taken a lot more than we’ve given this year.

Sometimes it’s okay to accept as others pray for you and intervene  with many people gathered before a kind King. Sometimes it’s okay to step back and be loved.

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Briana Meade is a 25-year-old mother of two. After college, Briana immediately married her best friend  and now-husband. A few months into her first year teaching with Teach For America, she found out she was pregnant. Briana and her family live in North Carolina, where Briana blogs about her Christian faith, marriage, family, and young motherhood. You can find her blog here and follow her on Twitter @BrianaMeade. She is also a regular contributor to Early Mama.

If you’re interested in guest posting for the “Love Showed Up” series, I’d love to hear more. Get in touch with me via email and we can chat about your story.  I’m leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com.

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I like your costume

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I love Halloween, I always have.  There’s something inside all of us that loves to play dress up, to pretend to be something entirely other than ourselves, if just for a night.  To let our inner avatars come to life.

I’ve dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow, a Geisha Girl, Little Red Riding Hood, Flo the Progressive Girl… and this is just as an adult.

Every year of my kid’s lives I’ve made their costumes by hand. Not to show off, but because it was a commitment I’d made before they were ever born.  I wanted to use my hands to help their creativity come to life and not just by swiping my card.

I’ve always known I’d be a homemade costume mama, it’s the reason I took sewing classes in my early twenties. It’s important for me to sew, crochet and hot glue their imaginations into reality.  

I think it’s just because I love the whimsy of Halloween, the one night where we all play dress up and pretend, where imagination wins all.

I get giddy over opening my door for Trick or Treaters, to see their visions come alive and to smile at the parents standing proudly behind their little lions, ghosts and minions.

We all roll our eyes at the “too old” trick or treaters. The high school kids who shoulder their way through the little ones to get their hands on our bowls full of Snickers and Reeses.

Because, I think at some point we’re supposed to be done with trick or treating, and rightfully so.  It’s a place for the littles to play.

Yet, I don’t think any of us should ever give up the whimsy of Halloween, the belief that we can put on a hat and fulfill our wildest dreams.

We should dream big, fulfill our inner passions, finally become the firefighters and veterinarians we always thought we would be.

But the dreaming of dress up has to live side by side with a love of the sweet right here, the seemingly ordinary right now.

If little “trick or treat” you rang your doorbell this Thursday, do you think they’d be disappointed in who you’ve become?

Do you think they’d be sad that you’re not a professional wrester or stunt rider?

I bet they wouldn’t.

I don’t think we’re letting ourselves down as much as we think we are.

I know you feel like you haven’t arrived yet, like you’ll be better when you achieve this or that. 

But please don’t buy into that lie, because you’re beautiful today.  In the costume you have on right now.

For me, my dream costume is that of “published author” as it is with so many writers, I’ll finally be okay when I publish a book, that’s the magic moment when I’ll feel like my writer costume isn’t a joke.

But you know what?  I think if 6 year old me came to our door on Thursday night she’d see our comfy home complete with a cat, two kids and an awesome playroom and be thrilled.

If teenage me peeked in our window and saw the romance in our marriage to a good, good man she’d breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that it all works out in the end even if she IS 16 and never been kissed.

In the end, when you look down at the costume you wear in daily life, even if it’s not the end all be all fulfillment of your deepest passions, it’s still a pretty good gig.

I’m not saying don’t dream big, I’m saying that you’re already somewhere worth celebrating, so grab a snickers (or if you have supremely good taste, an Almond Joy) and celebrate the costume you get to wear every day.

Because it’s lovely in it’s here-ness.  So is mine, go us.

What did little you want to be “when you grow up?” OR What is your Halloween Candy Kryptonite (what can’t you leave alone?)

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Pause for the Whisper (a guest post for Emily Miller)

Today I’m guest posting for my dear friend and fellow extrovert, Emily Miller on my favorite spiritual practice.  I’d love for you to check it out, a lot of heart in here today.  

Pauseforthewhisper

I live in a noisy world, I bet you do too.  Between my two busy preschoolers, my talkative cat and my endless to-do list, rarely does a silent moment grace the walls of our home.  Even now as I write, dinner dishes are being clattered in soapy water while matchbox cars are being vroomed on the hard kitchen floor. Outside somewhere someone is trying to sneak in their lawn mowing before sunset and another neighbor is revving their motorcycle… for whatever reason people do that.

Noise, always noise.

And with it?  Anxious thoughts, worry, wondering if there will be enough. Enough time for the work, enough money for the bills, enough gentle words to outweigh the bad, enough good in me to remain loved and sought after by both God and his people.

It’s like a merry go-round, spun by a bully that doesn’t let up.

Some days I look at the carefree whimsy of my children with jealous longing. Remember the days of childhood?  The ones that came before the groceries, checklists and oil changes?  Back then we didn’t worry about being good enough or provided for.  We just played Care Bears and Ninja turtles and hoped someone would give us candy.

But no longer, now life is a noisy ride, so how do we hold on to the truth in the midst of the clammer?

Here’s my spiritual practice: It’s pausing for the whisper.

Our lives are loud, but the whispers of God’s truth are always and ever present.

Kindly proceed to Emily’s blog for the rest of the story?

Apple by Apple

Today I’m blending the pictures and poetry of our trip with to the orchard with the Burden Family into a prayer for autumn.  All photos compliments of my lovely and dear friend Jillian Burden.  

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Like any good Michigander, I can measure my years by trips to the apple orchard.

I can still remember with vivd clarity my kindergarden trip to the pumpkin patch and cider mill.  After wandering the fields of orange and green we were rewarded by a warm donut and fresh pressed cider as we squeezed together on the picnic tables.

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There is nothing in the world like a cake donut with fresh pressed cider, If you love it, you know it’s a comfort food born early.

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Trips to the orchard ring altogether wholesome, holding hands while crunching apples and leaves as you fill heap your wagon full of fruit.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.47.48 AM Continue reading