beautiful magic

grandmaI want to photograph my grandma’s house.  The pianos, the pictures, the toys.  The knick-knacks and the decorations above her kitchen cupboards.  Her Precious Moments doll on her bed, the stuffed bird on the table at the bottom of her stairs, the deer head in the basement.  I grew up in that house.  Slept in all the spare beds.  Ate “hot cakes,” macaroni and cheese with heavy cream, and hot dog sandwiches at the kitchen table.  Snuck glimpses of Days of our Lives and quickly hid when my grandma/grandpa realized I was watching.  Sang my first and last solo.  Trick-or-treated.  Took naps on Christmas day in the basement.  Went sledding on the backyard hill.  Searched for Easter Eggs.  Learned to play cards…

I look around and realize that the “magic” of grandma’s house isn’t about the stuff.  It’s about the woman – my amazing grandma – that lives there, creates a home, and loves her family with her whole heart every single day.  It’s about the woman that still gives me a kiss goodbye even though I am 30 years old.  It’s about the woman that whispers words of love every time I see her.  Grandma always reminds me that I am special, when the truth is, I am special because of her.

It’s easy for me to downplay the dishes, the laundry, and the mundane tasks that fill the white space of my life.  I agonize over not being enough or accomplishing anything of worth besides the basics.  Days blend together as I jump around trying to keep up with the demands as they rain down.  Yet, as I watch my grandma’s beautiful hands hold my babies, I can’t help but wonder if she recognizes the impact of our shared ordinary moments.  I knew she always loved me.  I knew she believed in me.  And I knew she would always be there for me.  I wonder if grandma knows just how much her life and love mean to me and how much I need the reassuring power her presence brings into my life.

We are dreaming of our future home in Minnesota.  As a I judge the layouts and locations, I wish for a piece of grandma’s house.  Not so much the stuff, but for her.  I want the empty rooms and walls to fill with the beautiful magic she generously filled my childhood and now my adult life with.  I want to create a house (again) that sings of love and forgiveness and patience.  A house that inspires, uplifts,and edifies.  More than photographs of my grandmother’s house, I want to capture the love and beauty of her heart and sprinkle upon my own.

The ordinary acts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.

-Thomas Moore

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.

books and dreams and packing it light.

i-mfCtQNn-X2A lot of life happens outside of books.  Since my last post, my husband graduated with his PhD in neuroscience.  We moved out of our house and into my parent’s house for a couple short weeks.  Ohio is calling our name and we are listening.  Among all the hustle and bustle of packing our house and moving, I have enjoyed reading the Rush Revere series and The Life of Fred with my kids.  Sixty Acres and a Bride (again), The Four Agreements, Here to Stay, The Rose Garden, Sandwich with a Side of Romance, Somebody Like You, A Tangle of Knots, and Once Upon a Prince have kept me company.  Sweet, lovely company.

Although I desperately miss my quiet read time, I am enjoying our crazy-move-across-the-United-States adventure.  Leaving our home and neighbors has been hard, but  it has forced me to evaluate my priorities.  So much of my time revolves around wanting to appear more “this or that” instead of embracing the life I have and the silly little quirks that make me, me.  I think it is natural to reach for perfection instead of embracing the perfection that already surrounds us.

I often forget that no amount of skill or talent will increase my personal worth because my personal worth is already there.  It is in you and it is in me and it has been since the beginning of creation.  C.S. Lewis talks about finding the God in everyone that surrounds us and Ann at Holy Experience talks about people’s tendency to “see the world in measuring sticks instead of burning bushes.”  Whether you choose to write or read or sew or bake or take fancy pictures – your worth remains the same.

As a stay-at-home mom, I struggle with this concept.  I believe that I should bake cookies more often, fit in smaller jeans, always talk kindly, and never take a minute for myself… yet, I berate myself for not being more “in the world.”  Other moms volunteer in soup kitchens, crochet hats for the hospital, and run their own private businesses.  The act of looking around at the world with my own ruler drains my energy and decreases my appreciation for the gifts I have to offer.  Oprah relates this habit of looking and comparing the accomplishments of others to the runner that spends more time looking behind then ahead.  Panic will boil in the veins when someone behind starts to get close and desperation will saturate our courage when others pass us up.  Somehow in this life of social media connections, I have to learn to start looking ahead at the things I want to accomplish in my life.  I have to find the courage to give validation to my dreams.

I’ve learned that it is hard to “pack it light” when it comes to expectations we have for ourselves and for those that surround us.  We define what we want and we expect results.  Like my over-stuffed storage unit, we hang on to harsh personal standards that really hold us back and weigh us down.  In the book Walden, Henry David Thoreau talks about the weight and responsibility of our possessions.  We buy a little knick-knack and we have to dedicate our time and resources to keep it looking dust-free and nice.  Like our knick-knacks, our harmful thoughts and definitions of what it means to be a good person weigh us down and prevent us from enjoying the amazing blessings of today.  They force us to always see our glass as half-empty instead of overflowing, bubbly, and fizzy with gratitude for the amazing life we have to live today.

Thanks to a highly-stressful move, I am beginning to see the overflowing exciting bubbles of joy in my cup of life.  I am happy, loved, and dreaming big dreams.  I have everything I need and so much more.  And for that – I am truly grateful.

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.