summer’s end (come quickly)

photo credit: huffington post

photo credit: huffington post

Their energy – boundless
My ideas run dry.
We have colored and painted (sort of) and read stories about Thumbelina and the Twelve Dancing Princesses
Attended the $1 summer movies together
Toured the local parks, zoo, botanical garden, and aquarium
Listened to night crickets and caught the elusive
Fireflies. Even put them into a jar
(until one escaped and lit up the nursery, to their horror).
But summer’s energy can’t be bottled –
(oh, how moms everywhere wish it could!)

Will I miss these long, lazy days by the pool
and spontaneous trips to the waves, salt, and sand?
The vacations to friends and visits from the same?
Well, of course.
It’s an exchange.
Of the unscheduled for the routine,
Of the lazy for the diligent,
Of the mom-directed days to the hours in the preschool teacher’s classroom.
And yet we will all be happier (in a different way)
come September.

Oh, summer! How I used to hate to see you go!
And now, it seems, I have tired of you.
Ah, school-days. Return soon.
I’ve missed you – they have missed you.
Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic –
we need you.
To rescue moms everywhere from summer’s long and lingering and endless days.

[disclamor: I do love summer. Honest. And I love my kids dearly. But preschool … dear preschool … it’s been just what all three of us need. See my post here:  “on the eve of preschool” ]

 

when Advent arrives (the end of the waiting)

When I wrote last week’s post on the waiting of Advent, my brothers and I were all waiting. Scattered up and down the East coast, from Maine to South Carolina, we all were awaiting quite poignant gifts. Both sisters-in-law were pregnant, due within a week of each other!, and we were eagerly waiting for the gifts of these babies.

And within a week, both gifts were delivered. Jonathan and Nicole welcomed their first daughter (third child), Abigail Katherine, on Thursday morning, December 6 (on her due date). And I gained my first niece! Six days later, on her due date of December 12, Bryan and Megan welcomed their first baby, Isaac Lee. My “baby” brother having his first baby … I can hardly believe it!

I am reminded that the end of the waiting is a gift. It is a gift immeasurable to see these babies cradled in the arms of their parents, babies which even just two short weeks ago were still nurtured in their mother’s wombs. To see these gifts delivered! The gift of a first daughter; the gift of a first baby … And there is a taste of Advent here. The “already” part of Advent – that there is a baby who has been delivered. Isaiah echoes this promise –

For unto US a child is born, unto US a son is given …

And yet I am still waiting to meet these sweet gifts. I rejoice with their arrival, and I ache with longing to hold them and kiss their sweet faces and welcome them to the world and actually see/witness/experience the joy of their proud parents. And isn’t this like Advent? We rejoice that our King has come, humbly born and laid in a manger. That He began the redemption revolution and its end is guaranteed. But yet we await the full experience of it, don’t we? There is still suffering, tears, infertility, death, grief, abuse – that remind us that we still await the FULL Advent, of our King will will “make all the sad things come untrue.” (Tolkien)

I am sharing a poem I wrote with the birth of my first nephew over four years ago. And it is now in honor of these two sweet babies, barely and not quite a week old now. There can’t be a better way of celebrating AND awaiting Advent then for these parents as they cradle their newborns.

Who will this little one be?
So much potential!
Tiny toes, hands, feet …
what miles will you walk?
What work will you do?
Who will you become?
Your world is a blank canvas.
Yet planned by a Creator who has been forming you from the beginning of time. He knew your face before any of us glimpsed it.
He knows what will make you laugh and cry.
He sees your end from the beginning.
And he loves you more than any of us can.
(hard to believe – I haven’t even seen you yet
but I love you already because you belong to us)

A late night prayer is that you will come to know
the One who knows you early in your life.
You have a better chance than many because
you will see Him in the lives of your parents.
They will show His love to you in 1000 ways, reflecting it to you like a prism’s rainbow of light.
May you receive it,
drinking it in like water in a desert’s oasis.
This world is difficult.
You will find that out too soon – it is a desert
and it often feels like wandering wilderness,
but there is refreshment to carry you through.
It’s the beauty of Christ … the way He is making all things new.As he has made you new tonight.

So this evening,
your first evening in this world,
rest well.
Sleep well, little one.
You will awaken soon enough.
The journey is long and sweet and beautiful. Welcome to the family.

laundry and grace

I fold laundry
in my weary attempt
to organize my thoughts
hoping they will be sorted
so easily
into piles

tidy, categorized by type
with shelves, drawers, or cabinets
to call home
and rest there
till they’re needed.
Then back through the cycle
of use, wash, dry, fold, return.

Is this what your grace is meant to do?
Restore, cleanse, sort out my heart
When I am used up by love?

a mom’s life

I wrote this poem a few months ago, but I could have penned it yesterday. (Or today.) There is always that pull as a mom between the lives we are nurturing and our own life. Thankfully we have a God who nurtures us and them and gives grace for the days when the Legos and unfinished tasks seem to be taking over any quiet or peace.

My life
scattered in a million
Lego pieces and a necklace
draping over the handle of
the coffee table drawer
books, blocks, a pink dollhouse

and the stacks of plates
from lunch await me around the corner
hidden now from view

but I know they are there
just waiting.

These moments feel
stolen and precious and few
those of the naptimes
that never seem long enough
for all of the cleaning up
and creative tasks and keeping up
that is the other part of my life –
the part I can’t do when
they, my two little lives, are awake.

The one voice that matters most

Today I had a conversation with an old friend who’s a new mom, and something she said really struck me:

You know, I’m learning to listen to my intuition. That I really do have a mother’s instinct that I can trust.

Two things struck me about this: (1) How I wish I had begun learning this as soon as she is (her baby girl is 5 months old) (2) Why on earth are we as moms so quick to listen to other voices and opinions on how to parent our child(ren) and so slow to listen to our own? Before you classify me as some motherhood mystic telling you to tune in to your inner voice, let me pause and say that I believe as people created to be like God, He is the one who is the ultimate author of this inner voice. He’s the one who gives us as moms the ability to nurture helpless babes into mature, independent adults (or so we hope and pray).

I’ll go a step further and say that for those of you who call God your Father through faith in his son Jesus Christ, you and I are promised that we will have all that we need for life and godliness. This isn’t found in myself and my own resources, but in the life of Christ living within me through the Holy Spirit. It’s in being connected through vibrant relationship to God that I will have the love and patience and grace and forgiveness and, yes, even mother’s intuition, that the journey of motherhood requires.

But I get distracted so easily. I tune in to 1000 other voices, and I can’t hear the one voice that matters most because I’m listening to all the wrong voices. The guilt from the voice in my head that says I’m not living up to my image of “ideal mom.” The experts offering their research on every topic from nursing to sleep training to discipline to creative development and everything in between. The well-meaning friends who give unsolicited advice when what I really wanted was empathy and support. [And I have certainly fallen in this category myself – forgive me, please?]

Another good friend who does in-home counseling for troubled families was teaching about discipline and said,

Let me start by reminding you that you are the top expert on your child.

I forget that, and then I go frantically looking for someone else to share with me something that may or may not fit my particular situation with this specific child who lives with a mom and dad with our distinct set of strengths and weaknesses. I’m not saying that I am stopping my research. Far from it. I am saying that I want to trust God and His Spirit at work in me shaping me and giving wisdom that I’ll need for parenting. This wisdom certainly includes the humility to learn from others who have gone before, who are walking alongside, who may even do it differently from me. But it’s a wisdom growing from within, supporting and bolstering my God-given shape as a mom and the one Voice that matters most.

I am deeply indebted to Sarah Dunning Park, who first began me on this journey of realizing I was listening to all the wrong voices as I read her beautiful book of poetry, What It Is Is Beautiful. Specifically her poem, “Book Learning.”  If you don’t own this book yet, order one now – and go ahead and order 5-10, for the reasons stated in my review below:

In reading through this poetry book, I literally couldn’t put it down because what she’s writing is my story. I saw my frustrations about motherhood in black and white, as well as the tender moments, and the trying, and the grace. You will be refreshed as you savor the language and the topics, ranging from a hilarious piece entitled “Mom Jeans” to “Book Learning” that will move you to tears – and everything in between. It’s a book you’ll return to again and again to make sense of your daily ups and downs of motherhood, and you’ll want to share it with all your friends.

 

 

 

 

The Gathering

img_3386First hint of dawn
Across marsh plains
Bidding us farewell.
Life scattered into corners
Of the family beach house
Now gathered back into neat tidy bags
Packed in alongside memories of laughter, tears, sharing hearts, dreams
And you blink and it’s the end
Of this annual gathering of all.

Back now to routine
To the trying to connect
To keeping the relationships alive
Through phone lines
Skype dates weekend road trips
Across the many miles and state lines from whence we gathered.

But it’s never quite the same as this week
Of all present, laughing, remembering, teasing together.
Each personality enriched by the other
And by the Spirit whose Life we share
As well as common lineage by blood or marriage.
Cousins reacquainted in play and long beach days
Talks on bike rides, a beach blanket, a walk along the shore, in a rare interlude of quiet amidst the loud happy chaos.
Dinners and desserts and food all the time everywhere
Music as background and soundtrack
To the celebration of family and life
That we gather up into one beautiful week.

Sabbath rest for a mother’s heart

If you find yourself in need of rest, true heart rest, these links will help you follow the voice of Jesus as he leads us there (Matthew 11:28-30).

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A poem by Sarah Dunning Park – http://simplemom.net/poem-book-learning/

“Chatting at the Sky” – When the days are long and the minutes are longer

Christina Fox at “The Gospel Coalition blog” – Motherhood for the rest of us

(in)courage blog  – How gentleness makes our children great

Jen Hatmaker – More grace: on not being mean, hateful, and horrible

 

 

For the love of poetry

232323232-fp537-5-nu=32-6-572--77-WSNRCG=336548-63532-nu0mrjThere is something about poetry that has a way of taking the ordinary and opening your eyes to the beauty hidden within the otherwise mundane, that can provide you with the words to express what you’re longing but couldn’t find words to fit. I love how Mary Oliver puts it in her poem “I want to write something so simply” (from Evidence, 2009):

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be,
my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think–
no, you will realize–
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself
out of your own heart
had been saying.

Which is obviously something I really love, given the title of my blog and its tagline. And yet it is hard to find the mental clarity and quiet needed to express in words how my heart is journeying through this unique season. Enter a perfect lunch in Williamsburg yesterday.

My good friend from grad school and counseling colleague, Mel, introduced me yesterday to Sarah Park, who is not only another fellow twin mom but also a published poet. And what’s her subject? “honest poems for mothers of small children” Really? When she handed me her book of poetry entitled “What It Is/Is Beautiful”, I took in my hands a gift. A gift of words to express what I feel and words to help me see what’s hard to see some days. (Like on Tuesday night when we put the twins back in their big girl beds  and found a string of *dirty* diapers they had retrieved from their *childproof-but-not-twinproof* diaper pail, and yes, we both stepped in poop as we entered their nursery-turned-modern art-display.)

While you may not be hearing a poem from me about poop or the angst of big girl bed transition for twins, you will be hearing more from me about Sarah’s book as its release date draws near (April 6th).

One of the few lines that’s already becoming a favorite is below, from “Already But Not Yet”. Join me in savoring the art of words that flow and words that fit –

I have already

drawn my children near,

tucked their hair behind their ears,

told them how much

I love them;

but I have not yet

made it through a day

loving perfectly,

free of discontent, guilt,

or fear.

from Aunt Heather

Tonight at 9:00 pm, I became an aunt! More details later … I haven’t even yet seen a picture of the precious baby born to my brother and sister-in-law. (Seth and I arrived back from South Carolina last night, missing his birth by 24 hours!!) But I wrote a poem to capture the emotions of this occasion:

Who will this little one be?

So much potential!

Tiny toes, hands, feet … what miles will you walk?

What work will you do?

Who will you become?

Your world is a blank canvas.

Yet planned by a Creator who has been forming you from the beginning of time.

He knew your face before any of us glimpsed it.

He knows what will make you laugh and cry.

He sees your end from the beginning.

And he loves you more than any of us can.

(hard to believe – I haven’t even seen you yet

but I love you already because you belong to us)

A late night prayer is that you will come to know

the One who knows you early in your life.

You have a better chance than many because

you will see Him in the lives of your parents.

They will show His love to you in 1000 ways, reflecting it to you like a prism’s rainbow of light.

May you receive it, drinking it in like water in a desert’s oasis.

This world is difficult.

You will find that out too soon – it is a desert

and it often feels like wandering wilderness,

but there is refreshment to carry you through.

It’s the beauty of Christ … the way He is making all things new.

As he has made you new tonight.

So this evening,

your first evening in this world,

rest well.

Sleep well, little one.

You will awaken soon enough.

The journey is long and sweet and beautiful.

Welcome to the family.