Friday, July 25, 2014

When Life Overwhelms

Sometimes, life feels so big.  It hangs over us in scary shadows and we look up, hoping for a glimpse of the sun, between the darkened branches.

Heaviness can settle and the tightness in your chest threatens to rob your breath.  Joy is a hope, forgotten.

I feel my fist rising and long to shake it at the sparkling heavens above.  The storm clouds in my mind so big, so dark, so dangerous.

These things come, as they always do, in waves, that pull our legs beneath us, and our faces seeking air.

We cannot prepare for them, only ride them out, in the hope that the next won't carry us under, take us farther out.

I feel this way right now.

It is in these moments, that I am given a choice for my response.

So, often I'll lie under the weight.  Too discouraged or broken to move.  I'll thunder at the heavens and push forward in my stubborn pride.

I'll make things different.  I will fix this world, this life, with my own two hands and I press forward in willful determination.  Only, to find myself back in this place again.

The whisper of surrender sounds like a curse in my ears and all I want to do is rail and fight and triumph.

Each time it comes sweeter, rest, believe, enjoy.  Praise.  Be thankful.


Even now, I look out and the grass is green, the trees hang their gentle leaves to kiss the ground.  Children's laughter carries with the wind and the call of the bird echoes.

Like Eeyore carrying his storm cloud everywhere he goes, I'm sucking life and joy into my black mood.

It's choices, isn't it.  When it feels as if everything is going to fall apart and truth, reality, and fear threaten our security, we get to decide how we'll react.

Will we fight our way out, curl in a depressed ball, or will we rejoice that nothing lasts forever.  That in the hurt and instability is a joyful hope, a peaceful surrender.

I breathe, and the sweet air fills my lungs.  I raise my hands and whisper a prayer of praise.  That in this, we are made stronger, His faithfulness is not dismayed by our circumstances.  In every moment there is a call to rejoice.

While I cannot control every thing that comes across my path, the realities I am forced to face, and the struggles that demand, I can choose my reactions and in the midst of the storming seas take hope, that there is rest in the bottom of the boat.

Even in this, my love, believe.
Be filled with joy and hope.
Do not surrender to your failings.
Or the voice that steals your truth
Fling wide your arms to the heavens.
Feel the scent of a grace filled rain.
Lift praise upon your lips.
Declare my pleasures.
It is more than your desperate plea.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Walk

We laugh wildly on our walk.  The trees let out their roots as we slip and stumble our way through them.  Too many children and not enough adults.  We march like the lost boys, hunting pirates, seeking treasure.  The long tumble of mermaid falls will be our victory.  We are neither nimble or quick, but we are filled with gleeful ambition.

They climb the dusty hills and slide down, shrieking in glee.  We watch them cover themselves in dirt and filth.  There is no mess too big for a child to find and slop through like a pig in need of the cool.

These are our offspring.  Wild and captivating.  They hunt snakes and hope for sights of bears.

We arrive at the cool spring filling with the cascading water of the falls and they dive in half starved for the chill, the slap of brisk against their skin.

It streaks with the dust and leaves trails of mud down their baby soft cheeks.

This is the moment.  This is childhood.

For some it was just a walk to the falls, but for us, it was magic, and mystery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Love Story.

I fell in love with him on a rainy day and a quiet walk.  

Ducking in an old bookstore, laughing as we sat in the aisles, the rain falling outside.  We were young and carefree.  Desperate and aware that here was something real.  Fragile we danced around, loving, and yet so unsure we would stand the test of time.  

We wed on a cold, dark night.

We played house in our little corner apartment, in the old brick building, where we would watch the snow fall and the crowd that would gather at the bus stop.

We made dinners in our tiny kitchen and bumped into one another, laughing and glancing as we learned our story.

Then sometimes, when all was quiet and the fire glowed in embers, only the light from the street illuminating the room, we would dance.  It was joy and quiet, love, and hope trembling in the whisper of the new.

So quickly we were having a baby and suddenly all was real and it couldn't just be playing house or rain soaked adventures.  We had to grow up and push and fight our way forward.  

We argued over the ridiculous and loved foolishly.  

In our youth and innocence we made mistakes, we broke promises, and hurt one another.  

Sometimes we would stare at each other and feel the pump of anger and pain, the desperation to force the other to hear our side, our needs.

There were nights we'd lie quiet beside, not touching, too angry to move, to hurt to talk.  Sleepless we'd toss, exhausted we'd move to the other early in the day.  In the quiet, when only forgiveness and belief can draw you to each other.  We'd kiss in the soft and let go what couldn't always be fixed.

Then it quieted, the fights, the anger, the need to be right.  The rhythm of family and loving took over.  We learned our rules, understood our failings and abilities.  We stopped arguing over work times and needs.  

Gently we gave more to the other than we wanted for ourselves, we pushed harder for each other.

My needs became more important to him as his became to me.

Through the years, the joy and pain of life, we've still fallen in love on the quiet rainy days.  When the mists hang low and everything is silent, but the dripping of new outside, we find ourselves hand in hand, more together than we could ever be apart.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Like A Rainbow.

"Mommy come look!  There are rainbows!"

I step into the small corner she's found, where the early morning light reflects off the standing mirror, making lines of colorful prisms across the wall.  She kneels down, catching her purple gown under her baby knees.  

"Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet.  I love rainbows, mommy.  Aren't they beautiful." 

I murmur my agreement, but it's not the rainbow that catches my breath, it's her child wonder.  Her face that lights up, as a treasure greater than jewels, sparkles before her.  Her hair falls in brown waves and she is sleep, and baby, and innocence in a package that amazes me.

Perhaps it is how temporary I get her.  Each stage rushes by and I am constantly wondering where my baby went and marveling at the young lady growing before.  She will never be mine.  Like a dream that you don't want to leave, you pause, trying to return to the moment that came in your innocent sleep.  You linger in the early morning, holding close that soft feeling, even as it slips away and you wake, but through the day you catch the memory.  

We pause on the stairs.  The window panes casting their light on the white wall behind her animated face.  

"This is what I wished mommy!  When I held my eyelash on my finger, before I blew, this is what I saw."

I stop to listen, to enter her world, to hear the fleeting hope that youth and emotion will share, before superstition and age keep it hidden.

"I thought of rainbows and then I blew.  I got it mommy, I got my wish."

Just like that the magic is real.  It trembles in it's belief.  

She is like a rainbow.  When you get the chance to see one, you stop and stare.  You marvel at it's curve, the colors, the storm that is fading behind, and the promise it reflects.  Perhaps you take a picture, or crane your neck as your car speeds past.  Even so, it is fleeting beauty, it is a moment that can not last.  It is never yours to keep, but when you are given a glimpse, be brave enough to look.

Hold to the instant, when promise, and perfection, and life pause in your hand.  When you have the chance to touch wonder, be present enough to believe the magic.

*Photo Credit: the amazing Erica Bartel

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Heart Of A Mother

The air is sweet and warm.  A perfect summers day, the birds call back and forth, and the air moves with the electricity of life.  There is hope and promise and yet I feel the emptiness.  This swelling in my chest that these beautiful days of quiet are coming to an end.  School is around the corner, we're no longer in the five year gap.  Life is picking up the pace and my hands are losing their grip.  Already my son is desperate for the chase of friends, the screaming, laughing games that boys create in their wild imaginations.  I'm the mom standing by as he moves full throttle into his life.  It's what I want, my children to be their own person, to live well, and joyfully, but I already feel the cut of independence.  The sting of watching them grow.

So many things you wish on the other side, my if only's, and failures want to haunt me.  I dream sometimes of the two year old boy who broke me as a mother.  I see his angel face and wish so many times I'd been more gentle, more fun.  I wish that I could savor every moment of his baby chub and wild hair and ways.  I wish I could hear his raspy voice and feel the weight of his catapulting body.

I brush my hand over my six year old's coarse hair and breathe his dirty stench.  I love every moment he lies quiet in my arms.  I would treasure this more if I could.  I would capture every day in a bottle and stare into  these moments when I'm old.  They are the cherished fleeting breaths that come to quick to steal.

School will start and he will run to join the boys in play.  For a while he'll kiss me until he doesn't and I won't remember when it stopped, I'll just look back and wish I had it, a little longer.

Motherhood.  This journey of desperate joy and wrenching pain.  We judge ourselves so harshly, wishing always we could give more than we gave.  There is nothing perfect in our ways, but being there means more than we could know.  Loving is better than games, and child grace forgives even our deepest shame.

We will fail them, we will yell when we should be gentle, we'll scold when we should hug, we will push them aside for dirty dishes, and we'll miss so many moments.  Voices will come, as they do, to point out every place we wasted.  They will taunt and tear apart our fragile mother hearts.  Yes we could do better, but what really matters most?  When all are grown and the house is empty.  Despite our failures, our resignations, and our shame - did we love them deeply, did we kiss their dirty cheeks, did we fill their hearts with courage, and remind them of their skills.

Let go of all the whispers, stir up your mama heart.  You're doing great, no matter what.  You are the only mother that they have, the one that means more than any other.  While your counting out your mistakes, their watching the curve of your smiles, and folding the skin across your hands.

Yes, it is fleeting and yes it breaks us apart.  It is the life of a mother.  It is the courage that fills our hearts.