Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saving My Life Right Now...

My friend from college and blogger extraordinare, Sarah Bessey wrote a beautiful blog yesterday answering the question “What is saving your life right now?”  It stirred others to write the same and so today she opened a syncroblog and invited any who will to share their words.

I haven’t written in so long that my first instinct is just to read the words of others, but as I sit here staring at the stacks of laundry folded and awaiting their exile into drawers and closets I impulsively grab my computer and decide to write.

What is saving me right now?  It’s definitely not this laundry - oh, the laundry that seems to multiply while I sleep.  And it’s not the list of things to do like the back porch that needs sweeping and the panties that still lie on my bathroom floor...

What is saving my life right now?

I could write about the peppermint tea and two pieces (well maybe it was three) of dark chocolate that I savored while my girls napped.

I could pen words of beauty describing the pink blooms on the giant crepe myrtle outside my back windows or tell you how Selah and I love to pick the bright orange trumpet flowers off the vine that weaves it’s way around the corner of our house.

I could say I’m being saved as I attempt something that truly scare my introverted heart - yes, I’m hosting dinner tomorrow for a family that I’ve never even met face-to-face.  But I’m not sure if it’s saving my life...more like sending jolts to my heart as I envision my attempt at hosting people I don’t really know.  And yet, I know that those giant leaps - even small leaps like dinner with strangers always leave me in a better place - reminding me to get outside of the bubble that I find such comfort and safety in.

I could describe the conversations I’ve had this week with missionaries around the globe because in many ways they did save my life this week.  The seasoned couple who have given over 20 years to the people in Russia and Belgium.  The young couple in Botswana who poured out their hearts - frustrations, desires, and hope in the future - as we looked at computer monitors and connected over the ocean.  And of course the stoic and wise young man who calmly explained his plan to move his young family of five into Western Sudan...the immense love he has for a people who have seen nothing but hate was inspirational and made me think...even now, 3 days later about what I can do for those forgotten.

I could mention long conversations with friends who know me well - over coffee, on the phone, and while we stuff our faces with burritos.  Those conversations are good for the soul.

But most of all, in this moment - what is saving my life is the quiet...and this face.  

Sleeping peacefully with arms lifted as if in praise.  Watching her round tummy as it rises and falls with the rhythms of her breath.  The eyelashes that flutter occasionally, the slight smile that curves her lips, and the tiny fingers curled ever so gracefully.  Just looking at her - knowing she depends ON ME for food, for comfort, for shelter...for LOVE.  Just knowing that she needs me and I love her is saving my life right now... because it reminds me that I too am in need.  And I am loved.  And because of that love I am saved.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flowers, friends, and a fabulous maternity leave - Project 365 - Weeks 31-33

It's my last week of maternity leave and I have been living at a slow pace.  I've been taking deeper breaths, gazing into the blue eyes of my my baby, playing hide and go seek with Selah, and devouring books in between.  It's been a great 6 weeks - can't believe how quickly it all flew by!

And I've put off my to-do lists (sorry if I still need to send you a thank you note) which is why I'm 3 weeks behind in my Project 365 - but I decided it was a good day to catch up & I've enjoyed looking back over pictures from the last 3 weeks - I'm learning that deep conversations and big dreams are found in this place of setting aside the to-dos.

Here are a few of my favorite moments (at least the ones captured with a camera) over the last 3 weeks!

Day 214 - Happy Anniversary!  Josh and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on June 23rd with dinner and a pedicure!  The pedicure was a last minute decision & we realized that the only other time Josh has gotten a pedicure was on our his feet were 12 years out from any proper pampering.  All I will say is God Bless the sweet girl who tackled this task.

Day 215 - Selah has taken to picking flowers - so much so that the only flowers we have remaining in our yard are those on our trumpet vine.  I love the deep orange and I love receiving them spontaneously.

Day 216 - My mom took Selah and her cousins on a nature walk in our backyard - they were chasing two white butterflies when I snapped this picture.

Day 217 - I became a blonde with the help of my hair stylist Jayme on this day - I was excited (can you tell?)

Day 218 - Haven started focusing her eyes & loves to stare at her daddy

Day 219 - I already blogged about our Thank You Party - this is when we went to the store to pick out streamers!

Day 220 - The day of our Thank You Party - I love the expression on Selah's face!

Day 221 - We went to a wedding (congratulations Jaime & Michalea) and I took a picture with these two lovely ladies!  What is really crazy is that exactly one month before I was also at a wedding - feeling ready to pop - it's amazing what a difference a month can make!

Day 222 - Watched the gymnastics Olympic Trials - Selah was showing us that she could do it too.  Her exact words, "I do it too" - oh, and this attitude was also the case when we watched swimming and track & field - love that our girl believes she can do anything she wants to do!

Day 223 - Love this picture - already best of friends!

Day 224 - We were watching Josh's softball game & Selah was sitting with one of her favorite people - Erin!

Day 225 - Happy 4th of July!  We hung out at my parent's house for the Fourth - love laughing with my mom!

Day 226 - This was our first day of our vacation.  We drove to Santa Fe and as soon as we got to the hotel Haven was happy to be free from the confines of her car seat!  I loved the way the light from a window hit her face as she lay there so I captured a couple of photos.  Love how her eyes are lightening to a beautiful blue (just like her mom & sister)!
Day 226 (part 2) - Although it was raining we braved the elements & walked around downtown Santa Fe.

Day 227 - Introduced my girl to the greatness of Nutella Crepes!  I think I was more excited about this than she was - but she did like the whipped cream!

Day 228 - We found painting classes for kids in Colorado - Selah and I had fun painting together!

Day 228 (part 2) - love her concentration and the joy of mixing colors!

Day 229 - We went hiking on Sunday morning and these two were hilarious to watch.

Day 230 - The view where we were staying - I sat out here everyday reading, watching others fish, and soaking in the sun.  Oh, and Selah and I did have to run for our lives one afternoon when a flock of geese were intent on getting our ice cream sandwiches.  Thankfully we were able to outrun them!

Day 231 - I forgot to take any pictures this day - we were driving I'll share a picture of my view while on the hike.  Love this precious girl.

Day 232 - Again, I forgot to take any pictures, so here is another favorite pic from vacation.  Love the joy in her face and love the scenery all around!

Day 233 - Bathtime!  My baby is growing (I forgot how much they change in the first couple of months)!

Day 234 - This is today!  Selah was picking flowers this morning and my friend Marisa snapped our picture together while she was over for a visit!
I hope your weekend is filled with small surprises and beauty at every turn - Enjoy the small moments!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Adding Whimsy To My Life

While on maternity leave I have been reading like my heart really desires.  I’ve found that a book is the perfect companion during 4am feedings (along with the occasional Pinterest gazing), and I recently finished Love Does by Bob Goff.  I loved this book and was inspired by Bob’s stories of showing love and embracing whimsy (as he describes it) in life. 

As I read story after story in this book and thought of my own stories, I realized that the stories that I recount to this day are those that in deed have a whimsical feel to them - you know - they are the stories of jumping with abandon into the Indian ocean or dodging bombs with a 75 year-old woman hanging onto my arms (I’ll have to write these out later)...they are the stories of my husband’s audacious love and the way he stalked me until I loved him back.

As I read Bob’s words at 4am I couldn’t help but ask God for some whimsy in my life.  I felt dry and tired and old and I wondered if whimsy was something of the past (the before Paige became a mom stage of life). 

The next night as Josh was telling Selah a bedtime story back in her room, I heard giggles and squeals and then they both ran out to tell me of the plan they had just devised.  My sweet 2-year old loves the idea of a party - birthday parties, going away parties...really any type of party is right up her alley!

So she came racing out of her room to tell me that she and her father had just planned a party during their nightly bedtime story.  As her words came out jumbled and I looked to him for explanation, he said with a sparkle in his eye that Selah wanted to throw a Thank You party for her Papa & Gigi (my parents).

It would be a party to thank them for being such wonderful grandparents and for making her feel special as she has recently become a big sister.  I looked into Selah’s dancing eyes and asked her what we would be needing to make this party happen.  And without hesitation she began to make a list:

Reemers (Streamers)
Party Hats
And a Dancing Song

Josh informed me that he would set up a time later in the week to have my parents over for dinner if I could help Selah get her list together.

At first I laughed it off assuming that all would be forgotten by the morning, but I quickly realized I was mistaken as she ran into my room at 7am the following morning and exclaimed that it was time to decorate for the party!

The party was on her lips for the next 48 hours.  We went over her list of supplies countless times & she always did a little dance as we talked about what fun the party would be.  My heart wasn’t really into it at first, but the next time I picked up Love Does I remembered my 4am prayer for more whimsy in my life.

And I had to wonder - how often were moments of whimsy & real love in front of me - literally within the reach of my finger tips but I just didn’t reach out?  How often do I ignore the imagination of my child...of my husband?  How often do I ignore the longings of my heart because it’s not sensible or I presume I don’t have the time?

How often are my prayers heard & answers sent almost immediately but I refuse to see the answers because they look like a child’s party rather than what I assume is a proper response to my plea? 

I realized that if I was going to add whimsy to my tired life...if I was going to try to do love rather than just write theology about it...perhaps the best way to begin was in following the footsteps of my child.  After all, doesn’t the Kingdom of God belong to ones like her?

So Selah and I headed to the nearest party store & went down every aisle looking for the perfect streamers and party hats.  To my amazement she didn’t ask for anything else that lined those shelves - she was on a mission - she had a party to throw.

She looked at the large selection of streamers and chose purple, hot pink, and baby blue.  She pointed with determination and held onto the streamers as if they were a new toy.  We came home from the store & immediately decorated the house (even though the party was still 36 hours away). 

She directed me on where to place the streamers & then she methodically placed all of the party hats on the table.  All was set for our party!

The next night my parents came over & Selah screamed surprise & thank you and proudly showed them how she had arranged all of the candles in our brownies.  Party hats were donned, grilled chicken and fresh corn on the cob was eaten, and her song was played so that we could dance at this party!

It was a grand night - definitely a night of whimsy, and as I went to bed that night I realized that this tired momma of a 2-year old and month old baby had a smile on her face.  Yes, I was tired and secretly wished I could have a full night’s sleep ahead of me, but my heart was full.  I had watched my 2-year old show love to her grandparents that night.  I had watched her skip and dance and giggle at candles.  I had lived out the power of whimsy just as I had secretly prayed...and I experienced first hand the power that comes when love isn’t just an idea or a constant note on my to-do list.  On this night  love was active and silly and joyous and real.

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