belief in who we are

Let’s get one thing clear.  I wasn’t a super-chic-high-school-cheerleader. Instead of smooth flowing bleached hair, I had frizzy brown hair.  I couldn’t keep my zits under control and my body didn’t resemble that of a magazine cover figure.  I was awkward, extremely immature, and insecure.  People would walk down the halls – people from church groups or neighborhood circles – and I was terrified to say “hello” to them.  The fear of rejection made me tremble deep down to my bones.

I had my own circle of friends.  I love meeting new people and connecting social circles – but I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be good enough to be friends with the high-school-elite.

Ten years later, my hair isn’t as frizzy.  My zits are under control.  And I would like to believe that I am secure enough with who I am deep down.  Yet, when one of those past high school cheerleaders walked past me yesterday, the confident “hello” I have sported for the last eight years evaporated.  I felt sixteen all over again, in a not-so-good way.

What is it about our lives, our dreams, and our goals that make us feel insecure.  Why is it easier to believe that we are not qualified instead of embracing our goodness?  Assuming that we are not enough is a far easier belief than it is to trust in God’s perfect hands that molded us into who we are.

In the book The Voice of Knowledge, written by Don Miguel Ruiz, he says “I am God’s creation.  I do not need to be what I am not.”  When we live a life trying to be other than what God created us to be, we walk around not understanding who we are and the power we have deep inside of us.  He goes on to say, “what makes you powerful is your faith.  When you agree to believe in something without a doubt, you invest your faith.  If you have no doubt about something, then for you, it is your truth, even though it may be a lie.  Your faith is so powerful that if you believe you are not good enough, you are not good enough!  If you believe you will fail, you will fail, because that is the power of your faith.”

To believe that we are not good enough, is to believe that God is not good enough.  To believe in our imperfections is to question God’s perfection.  To constantly question our abilities, is to live in a state of trying to prove ourselves when we have nothing to prove.  The fact that we inhale the breath of life each and every day is fact that God himself crafted our souls, our bodies, and our lives.  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to improve each day… because we should.  But we should strive from a place of love within our souls instead of a place of hate and contempt.

It feels dangerous – and slightly “edgy” – to believe in myself.  To believe that I am good enough, that I will be good enough, and that I have always been good enough.  To move my trust from hair care products and “hip” clothing to God, Himself.  There will always be something new, another standard in the world because things change – but God’s love never does.  We know that “God looks upon the heart” and that His love is constant.

Picasso was an amazing artist.  He took the world, altered it, and made art.  If he were to paint my painting today, it would not resemble what I see in the mirror…although Picasso might argue that that is how he sees me.  There are many Picassos out there in the world, painting distorted images about what it means to have value and internal worth.  Their perception does not need to alter my viewpoint.

“You alone are enough.  You have nothing to prove to anyone.”  Said Maya Angelou.  For a moment, I am going to put my goals to the side.  Instead of rejecting my perfect today with dreams of perfectly organized houses, skinnier jeans, and published books – I am going to relish in the present moment of me.  Because who we are right now is who we were created to be.  “I am God’s creation.  I do not need to be what I not.”  I am enough.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Image“…All I can say is we’ll figure it out, I swear.  When I read a book, I want you to be reading it at the same time.  I want to know what would [you] think about it.  I want you to be mine.  I can promise you books and conversation and all my heart.”

A.J Fikry is a bookstore owner, widow, and alcoholic.  When a baby is mysteriously left in his bookstore one evening, A.J. Fikry’s drunken and wounded heart is challenged.  The mother is found dead with her last known wish that her child be raised in a bookstore.

“It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us… but it is only because we are isolated when, you will be driving down a road.  And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there.  You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone.  You will have chosen to not be alone.”

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is story of “unexpected love [rescuing] you and [bringing] you back to real life, in a world that you won’t want to leave, with characters that you will come to love.”

“There is only one word that matters… we aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read.  We are, for as long as we are here, only love.  The things we loved.  The people we loved…. and these,  think these really do live on.”

The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

At the risk of sounding cheesy, there are books that leave footprints across my soul – books that touch the broken pieces and heal the inner wounds that haunt.  The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft is one of those books.  Eloquent.  Beautiful.  Exquisite.  I am a better person for having read this book.

35c66a9f85e973a06b685ced6e3cf8fb_clj7

Penelope Sparrow only wanted to dance.  After a traumatic fall from the balcony of her high rise apartment,  she wakes partially paralyzed in a hospital bed and everything she ever wanted begins to fade away.  Amnesia, friend or foe, prevents Penelope from remembering what caused her fall in the first place.  With intense physical therapy, Penelope is able to walk and move once again… but the movement of dance isn’t welcome.  Memories of rejection begin to replace the amnesia-void and Penelope isn’t eager to walk back into the dancing community.  She rejects her hunger for movement, her creative thirst, and her dance cravings.

“It also hurts me, you know.  To watch you suffer… you’re starving… you’ve got to find a way to feed yourself.”‘

When everything in Penelope’s life comes crashing down again, she learns to once again embrace the movement of true love, forgiveness, and hope.  She learns the importance of feeding her body and soul and finds the courage to embrace the “divinity” of her creative talent… and she learns to value her expression whether the impact be, big or small.

Dancers and human beings alike all have their own metaphorical balconies.  The plunge into the dark emotional void paralyzes desires to create and love and express the art of the soul.  We strap ourselves to our “I-give-up-hospital-beds” and refuse to accept the rejection we feel in our lives.  Fear of rejection, anxiety that we are not good enough, and the constant stress that we don’t have enough time, prevents us from embracing the expression of our souls.   And at times, we jump while screaming into the wild void that “I will never create again.”  We paralyze the soul, bruise the heart, and destroy dreams.

Kathryn Craft and Penelope Sparrow helped me realize that jumping into the “emotional void” isn’t healthy. It blocks my expression and cuts me off from God.  The Art of Falling gave me the courage to embrace the vulnerability a little more and to avoid my metaphorical balcony.  To live is to create and love and express the language of our souls.

“… and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

As a general rule, I don’t read a lot of books about the WWII/Holocaust.  The words of Anne Frank, Escape from Warsaw, The Book Thief, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society paint a picture of a time that haunts my soul.  What happened to society – to people as a whole – to inspire such hatred and violence?  How did people find the courage to continue living despite such hard times?  The courage embedded within the hearts of many people inspires and amazes me while the hatred and violence of others frighten me beyond belief.

download Centered around the time of WWII/Holocaust, Saving Amelie  by Cathy Gohlke is the story of a four-year-old deaf German girl, daughter to a prominent German officer.  Having an “imperfect” child is a stain upon the father’s “record” that he is unwilling to have.  Arrangements are made for Amelie to attend a facility specialized in caring for disabled children without the mother’s consent.  Rumors have it that children like Amelie, once admitted, are never seen alive again.  Desperate to save the life of her daughter, the mother reaches out to her childhood friend Rachel for assistance.

Rachel, a daughter to a prominent American researcher, is hesitant to accept her friend’s request.  Her father’s research has shown the power of eugenics and she isn’t quite sure where she stands.  Her friend must be over-reacting.  After a spin of events, Rachel is forced to flee and enter hiding herself along with the deaf Amelie.   Saving Amelie knits together a beautiful story of individuals learning to love and sacrifice despite the risks.  It is the story of people learning to look beyond their needs to help a stranger, sister, and friend.  The words of this book, while they were powerful, made me see the importance of looking beyond my own needs in all circumstances.

History enthusiasts and non-history-enthusiasts will unite within the pages of Saving Amelie because every soul – regardless of age, gender, and race – has value.  It doesn’t matter when, where, or how – this value exists.  I walked away from this book with a renewed desire to teach my children the importance of respecting the people that surround us.  The only “true crime” against humanity is committed when we fail to honor the light, the life, and the love of the souls that surround us on a daily basis.  We are created equal in the eyes of God, and we must strive to remember that in all times, in all things, and in all places.

 

–Book was provided by Tyndale House for my honest review.

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything…

download (22)

When a young boy discovers that today dinosaurs come with everything, errands with his mom transform from dull to “best day ever.”  The illustrations are cute and the story is so much fun.  My boys continue to ask me to read it to them over and over and over again – which is awesome because I have fallen in love with the book too.

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach is a book you are going to want to pick up and try for yourself.

And then maybe when you are done reading When Dinosaurs Came With Everything, you will need to line up all your own dinosaurs to teach them the rules of the house.  They won’t mind, it will just mean that they are part of the family too.

IMG_2986

 

**Homeschool Notes:  This book encouraged discussions about family rules – the younger boys modeling the rules to their dinosaurs.  Talked  about what it means to buy a “dozen” of something.  Emphasized the importance of everyone helping around the house.  Creative writing entailed what it would be like to have a pet dinosaur and what rules they would create.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

imagesWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is an incredible story of a a young daughter named Minli and her quest to change her family’s fortune.  Traveling along the Fruitless Mountain, Minli comes in contact with dragons, goldfish, a buffalo boy, and a ruler of great city.

Minli’s quest magnifies the importance of her family. What appeared to be scarce and “not enough” became “plentiful and bountiful” the further she traveled away from her loving parents.  When the heart-breaking decision comes to for Minli to help her family or help a friend, Minli doesn’t have to think for too long.

Rich with imagination, heart, and love – this book is incredible.

And the pictures included in this book are inspiring to the imagination.

index

The boys and I enjoyed this book very much and the depth to the stories and fables has left an impact on my heart.  This journeys and adventures within the pages of this book would be an incredible gift to give to a loved one – adults included.

Homeschool Notes:

While reading this book we located various rivers on the globe, studied the phases of the moon with oreos, made our own dragon symmetry art with string, studied Henri Matisse, and made our own goldfish paintings.

The book stimulated a lot of discussions about what it means to “have enough” and the power of gratitude.  In the book, Minli comes in contact with a boy and girl that do not wish to change their fortune.  They are content and grateful with what they have and do not wish for more.  Creative writing assignments were completed with the idea of “what if I had everything I wanted?” and “what if I stopped looking for more?”

And finally, we began the family practice of listing what we are grateful for during dinner every night.

True Love and Barf-cicles

Each and every morning my three-year-old rushes into my room with one very important question:

“Can we make Popsicles today?”

And let’s be honest, popsicles in the middle of the winter are not my priority.  It is FREEZING outside.  I am freezing.  I want to take a shower and shave my legs and drink warm cinnamon milk.  Let’s not make Popsicles today.

I take a deep breath and try to plaster a happy-mommy-smile on my face.

Sure kiddo.  Go for it.  I’ll be in the shower.

While I lather, he dreams of frozen cream.  Sometimes he mixes water and chocolate chips in a cup with a spoon and shoves them into the back of the freezer.  Oranges and water were a big hit for a couple days.  Frozen apples didn’t go so well.  I like to think that I am fostering independence and creativity by refusing to assist in his Popsicle parade.  DID I MENTION THAT IT IS SNOWING OUTSIDE?

But hold the phone because he has invented what I like to call the “Barf-cicle.”

Looks yummy… right?

Crushed animal crackers soaked in water, frozen in a cup with a spoon.

When his newest creation had served it’s time in the freezer, my three-year-old instantly fell head over heels.  I’m not kidding.  He marched that Popsicle all around the house with pride echoing in each and every footstep.

I laughed.

And then I cried.  Because being a mom makes me cry about every little thing.

In the book The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coehlo, a man wakes in the middle of the night with his heart pounding.  While sleeping on a rock, his destiny had called to him in his dreams and told him of a treasure waiting for him. The man quickly packed up his belongings and left to begin his search.

The adventure of the quest takes the man across the world, teaches him new skills, and introduces him to amazing people that change his life.  In the end, the man discovers his treasure to be buried under the rock he had dreamt upon many years before.  His treasure had always been waiting for him – right at his beginning.

The adventures of the search taught the man wisdom.  Having combed the earth for his treasure, the man appreciates the wealth and security it provides – so much more.

When my legs are hairy and my kitchen messy, I dream of a treasure.  Sometimes my treasure involves glittery nail polish, silence, and a really good book.  Other times it is fresh air, time to write, and/or a girls night.  Date nights are always a treasure – no doubt about that.

But each and every time I leave to return home, the echoing of eight little legs running toward me with their arms outstretched fills my heart with joy.  Sometimes I need time away to remember that my treasure is right here.   Filling my freezer with barf-cicles and loving me more than I deserve.