To Noelle on her fourth birthday

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Oh my sweetness, we woke up this morning and you were four. Technically it all happened yesterday but I was so busy party prep that reflection time was non existent until bedtime.  Poor planning on my party.

But as evening fell we laid in bed together, readying Busytown books and reflecting on the day that you were born.  And all the beauty and spirit of your life washed over me like sweet music, pure and perfect.

I can’t believe it’s been four years since you burst onto the scene and we started this mother, daughter journey together.

When I watch you navigate your days I’m brought to tears by your gorgeous soul.  There’s a lot of talk about creativity these days, but you don’t even know what that words means even though you embody it in it’s purest form.

When you play outside with your imaginary bunnies, Piner, Buzz and Heinz, I wonder if perhaps you shouldn’t teach a segment on creativity at a conference somewhere.  The way in which you engage our world is astounding and watching you discover and explore life is truly one of my life’s greatest gifts.

These days I’m committing myself to tuning into what God poured into you and doing my best not to get in the way of it.  No, my job is to teach you discipline, patience and perseverance among a thousand other things.

I think you were born with the gifts of kindness, selflessness and hospitality.  We learned this deeper still yesterday as you greeted your party guests with hugs and served them each a blue, plastic cup of lemonade whether they wanted it or not.  You manned your station long after everyone had been served, pouring a dozen spare cups “just in case.”

We decided that it was your party, you could pour if you wanted to.

And pour you did, until the counter was full of cups and the floor was sugary sticky.

We had to peel you away from the lemonade station, there was too much lemonade poured.

Too much baby.

This reminds me of something I want to tell you, now and for the rest of your life:  The world is going to do a damn good job of telling you that you’re too much.  It does this to all of us but I worry that you’ll encounter it more than most as a creative, busy, beautiful girl and someday woman.

They may tell you that you’re too loud
Too wiggly
Too busy
Too curious
That you talk to much
That you weigh too much
Or that you’re too tall
Too ambitious ( I hope )
Too emotional

Too much.

And the worst part is that I know for a fact I have joined in the chorus and will continue to do so.  And that I’ll be the first one for whom you try to change, to please.

But try not to concern yourself with pleasing us.  Please God.  He’s the only one that matters when it comes to the art of pleasing, I know it won’t seem like that but it’s true beyond words.

My prayer for you today, on the occasion of your fourth birthday, is that you are already forming a resolve of inner contentment.  That you fall in love with the person God created you to be.  That your creative, lovely, compassionate core is protected from all who tell you that you’re not enough.

I pray that our home continues to grow into a place where you are loved “as is” and that we, your parents and family, are most interested in doing God’s work in your life.  That we are listening to his plan for your days and disregarding our unimaginative notions of who you should be.

I pray that God blares his will for you into our ears until it drowns our our human preferences.  

That he protects your from those who aren’t interested in loving you “as is” and try to conform you into something for their own selfish sake.

Most of all I’m thankful for the gift of Noelle.  You have undone and rebuilt me baby girl, in four short years with more to come. You have been a balm to my own relationship with my lost mother.  You are more than I could have hoped for, asked for, prayed for.

You are everything I was afraid of and exactly what I needed.

And God?  He is all knowing, so good, so worthy to be praised.

Grace, Selah, Amen and a Thousand thank yous to our Father.

 

 

Our Children, God’s Eyes

My three year old beauty

My best friend and I always used to laugh about how when it came to kids, she wanted all girls and I wanted all boys.  Even in my early twenties I  was anxious at the thought of being the mother of a daughter.

But here I am, the Mother of a three year old little girl who looks a lot like my husband Kel, yet acts so much like me.  She is full of more energy than she can manage and her creativity astounds me.  Lately I’ve been devoting hours of my week to worrying about her being bound to repeat all my hurdles, all my pain.

There is a corner of my heart that is still convinced that History is going to repeat itself in her, in me.  I hate this truth but it does no good to deny it.

80% of her day is spent pretending to be a kitty, and I have to remind her over and over again that I don’t speak kitty so she needs to use people words.

I bought her a set of wooden stringing beads this weekend so that she could play with color patterns and learn to work the lacing string through the holes.  She has no interest in stringing them and instead takes her shoe and fills it with the beads, zooming it around, pretending they are puppies in a rocket ship.

Lately I’ve been finding myself asking “is that normal?” over and over again.  I spend countless moments worrying that the way she is playing indicates an internal problem that will hold her back in life.  I scan other children at birthday parties comparing behaviors, wondering: “Is she going to be okay?”

But, what if the only fruit of this worrying is her learning to feel abnormal or “all wrong?”  What if she wonders if she’s loved just as she is?  Or feels like a burden or bother in her own home?

Well that just won’t do.

I can’t make sure that she’s an academic whiz or a soccer all star or the diva of the choir room.  But I can do everything in my power to teach her, show her that she is loved just as she is.  I can help her learn to channel her energy into passion and find systems to make sure she gives attention where it’s needed the most.

I will advocate for her, whatever comes down the road, set her up for success, but most of all I want to make sure that she leaves our home knowing that she is Beloved.

She is a child of God and He is the One who poured into her all the life force I worry about harnessing properly.  He wove the world together to thrill and delight her, and I’m here not to worry, but be the hands and feet of love and direction in her life.

May we all be able to see our children with these eyes, God’s eyes.

May we love them for the people he created them to be and may our prayers be filled  with requests for more wisdom and understanding of how he wants us to nurture them.

May we teach them thankfulness and delight by showing thanks and wonder over his Creation in a way that is so authentic that it’s contagious.

May we all worry a bit less about what exactly normal looks like and spend more time loving our children just as we find them today.

Letters to my Mother {day 6} Coffee Wars

Dear Mom,

We both know that I’m a coffee snob, the truth is that I haven’t even used my traditional coffee pot in two weeks. I’m using my french press exclusively now.

You were not a coffee snob, AT ALL, in fact I’m not sure that you were snobby about anything.  You were pretty easy going, although you didn’t like avocados or artichokes, this much I know.

I gave you so much sass and drama over your coffee being subpar.

I hassled you about your powdered creamer.

I nagged you about how your coffee pot burned the bottom of the carafe, but I think we can both agree the new coffee pot made for a nicer morning routine, no burnt aroma.  Sigh… there I go again, being all snobby.

I guess you raised a bit of a snob, but I swear mom, I hide it well.

The thing is, I wasn’t just a bit irritated about our java differences, I was nasty about it.  When you visited our house I didn’t graciously dial down the amount of grounds I used, as I would for any other guest, I belittled you, made you feel like a burden, a hassle.

I did this to you a lot.  Sure I had some very real concerns but I gave you so little grace..

I worry now, did you think everyone had written you off?  We were just so concerned, wanted to intervene, to help, to somehow… bring you back.

If you were here right now I’d happily make you a cup of half strength Folgers with powdered Spartan Brand non dairy creamer.

I’d tell you that I was sorry for being so horrible to you.  I’d try to explain that I had no idea how to help you or respond to your depression.  I was so angry because I wanted you to take care of me, mother me, not the other way around.

I honestly believed that you were one counseling session away from breakthrough, from a slow return to us.  This is why I nagged and yelled, and sent encouraging songs, sermons and emails, because I believed you had it in you.

I had a funny way of showing it.

I love you, I miss you,

LeaRae