Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dear Gemma- a love letter

Dear Gemma,

Today is Thanksgiving and I though I'd write a little note to you. Someday, maybe I'll print all this out, tie it up with pretty ribbon and present it to you as evidence of how you rocked my world. My words don't do you justice, sweetheart.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude today- everywhere I look it seems that my life is filled to the brim with sweetness. I just read a great book by Shauna Niequist called Bittersweet that met me right where I am. The little vignettes that she led me through made me so aware of the presence of both the bitter and sweet in life. I really like how she said that the sweet is no less sweet when there is a sliver of bitter present.

Right now, your daddy and I are passing through some bitter waters. He still looks for a job doing what he feels calls to do and I pray and cheer and hope and pray and cheer and comfort as he continues to search. Even though this bitter season of job hunting is stressful and preoccupying, we do find GREAT joy in each other and in you, my love.

Gemma, you are like a ripple of laughter that opens up across a space, capturing us all in it's giggle and letting us loose with hope. I long to see your face in the morning, hear your yells and new words during the day, and coos as I sing you to sleep. You are in the midst of a season of great discovery. I can tell this because you keep looking at things with wide open eyes and then at me filled with your silly words- you ask me unintelligible questions and expect a clear response. Sometimes I can't help but answer back seriously with garbled words and shocked expression. It's like speaking a different language, you and I. We chatter and have conversations that leave you satisfied and me utterly confused but filled with love.

You are growing so much right now too, darling. Your feet are getting big, your hair is getting longer, your belly is always puffing out over your diaper like Santa Claus. You run now... did I tell you that? You run, Gemma... that's what it's called when Rosie chases you and you squint your eyes shut and move your feet really fast and unpredictably towards the hall. Most of the time Rosie never touches you, but when she does, Violet barks at her to back off, you scream and giggle which only encourages her to chase you again. You three will be best friends forever, I'm sure.

Your daddy thinks your beautiful... he says it all the time, tells you how special you are, how smart and strong you are. I hope we cover you with compliments all the time. You really are beautiful, smart, and strong. I see glimpses of the woman you will be when you stomp your feet and stand your ground... when you rest your head on my shoulder, give hugs, and look deep into my eyes and smile. You amaze me, sweet one. You amaze me all the time.

You love to say "nanas" when you want a banana and "ca-caw" when you want a cracker. And when I ask you to say "milk" you just sign it instead. You make me laugh all the time... and you make me cry. This last week while you were sick, while I was up with you all night breathing in your sour sick smell, I let little tears loose over you... it's shocking how it hurts me physically to see you in pain. Sometimes I think I can't bear it for all the love I have towards you. Sometimes I think I will go crazy thinking about how important you are to me. Sometimes I think, "hey, I got this under control"... wait- who am I kidding? I NEVER feel that way!

I know that sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed and snarky. I'm so sorry- you deserve more than an anxious mama and I'm working on that, I promise. I start every day new, or I try to at least, with the rising of the sun there is a rising in my spirit. A newness, forgiveness, a do-over... A promise to play more, and play right, and lead more, and teach more, and give more, and take less... and then, in the quiet of the night, hushed prayers fall out of my mouth- songs of praise, laments for forgiveness, and nuggets of thanksgiving to the God of creation who knit you together and handed you to me to grow and raise and eventually let go. What was He thinking? I mean seriously, how could I ever be enough?

I guess that's the beauty of knowing that you are God's precious child first- I don't have to be enough... it's impossible... but He is enough. He will always be there, always love you just the right way, always guide you, always support you, appropriately discipline you, set healthy boundaries, let you fly when the time is right...

I am a poor man's representation of divine love, pumpkin. And if what I feel is the small version of love for you- it's mind-bending to imagine what God feels for you, sweet jewel. My deepest hope for you is that you find security in the presence and promises of God. He is so good, my sweet girl, so good.

I'm sure in the next few weeks you'll get more teeth, new words, bumps on heads and elbows, colds and sleepless nights, and lots more giggles, hugs and snuggles. I am overjoyed to be on this journey with you, Gemma. You make me a better person, a more repentant person, a more forgiving person... I pray I do the same for you.

And your daddy? Well, we lucked out didn't we, baby? He's pretty amazing and I know you see it... you show him that you love him by resting your little head on his chest, calling out "da DA" in the morning, and grabbing his toes. I pray that someday you'll wear a ring on your left hand that comes from a man like your daddy- a humble, hard-working, patient, faithful, honest, loving, and supportive man- and I pray that he'll hold your hand while you fall asleep, just like your daddy does with me.

Gemma, I'm so thankful for you every day, but especially today- while we celebrate with family and friends all good gifts. You are the best present I ever got...

I love you, I love you, I love you...

Will you write a love letter to your baby(ies)? I'm thinking of making this a consistent practice. Someday, I may just wrap them up and give them to her so that in her darkest moments she can read of God's promises, my love for her and her innate worth.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mamas. I'm thankful for all of you too. Hug your little ones.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It's Tuesday. There has been a whisper of snow in the forecast here in Minnesota. I know a good number of the mamas on this blog will be rolling their eyes and turning their heat up one more degree (or two) but no, not I. I anxiously peer out the window- at home, at school, in the car... waiting for the sky to open up and sprinkle the ground white.

I know it sounds crazy to those of you "sunbirds" who crave long sunlit days on warm, toasty beaches but I love this time of year. I already put up my Christmas tree- not because I'm so intensely fond of Christmas Day but because I am so intensely warmed by this fall/holiday season. There is so much depth to this time of year and the snow really guides me in that journey.

Awaiting the birth of our Savior (and yes, I know Jesus wasn't really born in December and that we are meshing a pagan holiday with a religious one... I know, just go with me) seems to take on more reflection in the silence of snow. I have loved how snow sucks up sound as long as I can remember. It truly does- suck it up, absorb, drown, still, silence, muffle, deafen ALL sound- I love it. I feel like my brain moves so fast all the time, taking everything in, trying to control everything, making sure all my "ducks are in a row" that sometimes, that forced quiet is the most blessed sound.

This season, fall-Thanksgiving-Christmas, is the height of family nesting for me. It's soups and stews in crockpots, fires in the fireplace, snuggly fleece pj's, hot cocoa or cider with my sweetie, an extra blanket on our bed, and slippers. It's sneaking in to cover Gemma with a warm blanket, feeling her little neck to make sure she's warm enough. It's warmth and everything that goes along with it. It's a very reflective time for me- I think about my family, my child(ren) and all the things I want to do with them in the future. I think about traditions and activities, practices and remembrances I want to instill in my family. Abe and I have talked about it but we haven't really defined what we want our "family practices" to look like in regards to the holidays. There are certain things we'd like to do and will, we're just not sure if Gemma is old enough yet. There is always the argument that if you start young, they'll never know anything different.

We'd really like to serve every holiday- either in a soup kitchen, or in some concrete, tangible way partnered with a local organization or our church to make lasting connections between gratitude, service, and celebration. My husband is especially passionate about this as he was the recipient of service like this as a child.

We've talked about how to really make the Christmas Story meaningful to our kids. How do we make Christmas really honor the beautiful gift of a Savior? I've heard so many wonderful ideas- advent calendars, nightly readings of the Christmas story from different sources- children's Bibles, books, different Bible translations; Nativity scenes. But really, the most tangible example of the reality of Christ is in the example of the parents, right? Humbling, huh?

And then there's Santa, presents, and the hoopla that goes along with the commercialized Christmas. How do we give our family the innocent joy of gifts and giving without making them greedy? How do we introduce Santa knowing that someday, we may have to break a child's heart with a grown-up truth?

As much as I love, love, love this time of year, the truth is- I love whatever forces me to reflect and focus on my family. For me, that's a forced indoor retreat. It's bundling up and cuddling together; it's eating warm food together, lighting candles that smell like Apple Pie, and reading stories under hushed covers. Truth is, I can do this any time of year, but this season inspires me.

What about you? What are your happy family traditions around this time of year? If you hate winter, Heather :), what do you do to make this season meaningful? And by season, I mean this whole Fall-Thanksgiving-Christmas season.

I really hope that you are bundled up, warm, safe, and surrounded by your loved ones this lovely time of year.

waiting for snow and all it brings...