transformation

This essay was written by me and originally posted by Sakura Bloom here. 

"Mom?" 

"Yes, buddy?"

"Do you know how I love you?"

Our three-year old, Behr, chirped out that misconstructed question one morning last week and followed it up with an unprompted hug. 

Have you ever beheld a tree crowned with blossoms after Springtime kisses it? That's what my heart felt like in that moment.  Soft. Fluttering. Alive.

Some days when I look at him all I can see is how much we've been through together, how much we've changed together.

He was the first baby to know the welcome of my womb, the first body to curl, small and warm, into the nest of my shaking arms. This boy and I, we've adventured the unknowns of breastfeeding and sleep training and solids and carseats. We've navigated tantrums (yes, from both of us) and boundaries and personality differences.

Each day I get to spend with Behr--and his sister that joined us last June--shows me how different I am because of him, my first. I hardly recognize the woman I was nearly four years ago. 

You can't experience love like this and remain unaffected. 

I thought I knew before I met him, but our boy is the person who showed me what it is to live unconditional love out in the everyday. I won't say it's been effortless. There have been many weary, sleep deprived moments where I've had thoughts of, what have I gotten myself into? And on my worst days, mourned the lifestyle I had before he was born.   

Although I still struggle in the frustrating moments to find the joy in my role, I've since learned this truth: I can label motherhood as a loss of freedom, or I can see it as a catalyst freeing me to become the best version of myself. 

 

There's a verse in the Bible that speaks to this vein of transformation, it says: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--" -Ephesians 2:4. We were dead until God's love entered the scene and brought us to life. 

I read that and realize what Scripture is saying: if love doesn't transform us, it's not love.  

 

So when he asked, "Do you know how I love you?"  I can answer, yes. I know how he loves me, how I love him. It's not unlike Spring coming to Winter, how it sits quietly with the brittle earth until all is gently brought to life.  

The gift of a bond like this, adorning my heart like sunlight on snowfall. 

memory

This essay was written by me and originally posted by Sakura Bloom here. 

They won't remember this.

A thought that often flits, hummingbird-like, through my mind as we go about our days.

He won't remember how I helped him get dressed; the threading of his ever growing limbs through tiny pant legs and flopping sleeves as if I were weaving a baby into a boy a little more every day. 

She won't recall what it feels like to press her pillowed cheeks against the skin on my chest. That feeling of being safely slung next to mama's heart; a mirror of the womb-home I feel like she was just living in yesterday. 

I'm of the belief that memories, whether we can recall them with original sharpness or not, still play a vital role in who we grow to be.  As I write this, my son is three and my daughter is heart-wrenchingly shy of six months old. It's her first Christmas with us earthside and his first as a big brother. 

I already miss them at this age. 

The clarity of the Little Years will inevitably dim as they grow older but that doesn't mean the magic of it will be lost on them. The memories of all their "firsts" will always reside deep inside them, the soft flickerings of a love, a warmth that's always been present. 

Oh Jesus, let me remember this. 

Let me remember her eyes, his laugh. The slow rise of her chest while she sleeps. The way his fingers dance when he tells stories. Her chubby hands reaching to cup my face. His hair catching in the light. Let me recall the rhythm, the poetry of our days when they were this young, when I was this young. Let me be the Memory Keeper, the one who tends to these ember-moments that quietly warm the cores of their growing hearts. 

And so, in each moment and day and long night and moment spent under the arching sun, I'll guard this flame. I'll sing over them. They might not remember when they first heard the song but their hearts will know the familiar hum from deep inside calling out: You are important and beautiful. You were made in His image and born for great purpose. 

All these notes that spark and burn away the doubts that they were ever anything but loved and wanted.

"And this, this is the only way to slow down time: When I fully enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows, slows, slows." - Ann Voskamp

Kinship

This essay was written by me and originally posted by Sakura Bloom here. 

It was the first time we’d seen the sun in days.

We live in the very northern tip of Kentucky which means that the late Fall/Winter season brings with it a grey curtain that hangs thick from one edge of the horizon to the other. There can be whole weeks before we see clear sunlight.

But not today. Today, we were making good on our plans to take the hour drive to visit a dear friend and finally meet her two month old daughter. It seemed as though the sun was blessing the endeavour with it’s bright presence.

We arrive in Louisville, parking under a tree decked in flickering yellow leaves. My friend Shawna and her husband greet us from their apartment door with their tiny daughter tucked in the crook of Shawna’s arm. We embrace. The world instantly becomes  brighter.

The last time we’d seen one another, our daughters were there too. We just hadn’t met them yet. Both of us rubbed our rounding tummies and talked about how the best birth plan is the one that you hold loosely too. We parted ways then knowing that, most likely, the next time we met would after we both became mothers of girls for the first time.

Shawna has been my friend for nearly a decade. It’s rare thing when I can feel safe enough to be completely myself around someone else. She’s one of the very, very few people I have that sort of kinship with. We first connected over our love of  thought churning conversations and the ability to weave stories with ink, pages and fingers tapping on keyboards. I find it to be a beautiful turn of events that God saw fit for us to birth our daughters within months of each other in the same year.   

After grabbing burgers at a local joint, we return to our vehicles for a short drive to a park for a walk. As I’m loading my littlest into the van, Shawna walks over and suggests I ride with her for the 20 minute drive.

 Isn't that all friendship ever is? An invitation to connect.

Our car conversation ranges from bottle and breastfeeding to the pain of unfilled dreams to the spiritual struggle of living out the gospel of Christ for our families. She confesses slight insecurities about navigating life with a two month old, I tell her to rest easy; no one is scoring the way she mothers that baby. I share about how my husband’s job is draining our family's spirit and she assures me that she will pray for God to open up new opportunities for us.

We both smile and laugh a lot. It's good to feel known. 

The wind is sharp, cold and playful at the park. The sun leaks through a watery layer of thin clouds. We bundle up our babies and breathe in the openness that comes from connecting with kindred spirits.

My three year old plays loudly with Jonathan (my husband) and Chris (her husband). I keep remarking about how thankful I am to see the sun; to have had the world full of light for at least one afternoon. These days feel sparse in the season of life we're living. 

When I first saw that I was to be writing about the subject of kinship my chest caved in a little. Friendship isn’t something that’s always a happy subject for me to touch on. Yes, I have close friends but every one of them is long-distance. Which means that I go long, aching seasons without any sort of local “village”. I don’t have a regular girl’s night out or playdates with fellow moms and their kids. I’ve never had friends just pop over for coffee or a movie night.

The friendships I do have must be maintained over random text messages, occasional care packages and even rarer phone calls. It's not ideal, but it's what we have and I try my best to make it work. 

Our time in the park winds down. The babies have flushed cheeks and nipped-red noses. My hands are cold from the stiff breeze but my heart a bit warmer--kindled by the spark of sweet fellowship with my friend. 

By the time we arrive back home, it's well after dark. The sky has unfurled in black velvet and I'm quietly mourning the fact Shawna doesn't live closer. I happen to glance up as we we're unloading the kids from the van to our home. 

Stars.

Thick, glittering bands of stars from one corner of the sky to other. I see where God Himself has taken fistfuls of the bright things and scattered them across the fathomless black. 

They're always there, you know. The stars sit quietly, lighting both the day and night. Unlike the sun or moon, the stars are the only celestials constant to our sky----whether we see them every day or not.

In that way, I think later, they're a lot like Shawna.