assemblage of our hearts

I have these huge dreams that are totally unrelated to mothering, & are just for me. My sweet husband says he believes in me.  Says he thinks I can really make a go of it.  Says if anyone is able, it is me.

And I float.

To this gentle, affirming, inspiring place where I feel full to the brim with his words, and my heart hovers there – drinking in the fertile ventures of my imagination and gasping at the vastness of What Could Be…

But before pen to paper, or finger to key, before brush to palette, or any of these, my thoughts are chased out of my head by those of others.  Bombarding&Banging. Clanging. Eclipsing. Deafening the voice once encouraged.

Words of affirmation do little when the full weight of reality pummels me and all the pieces I know of myself scatter across the floor.  Tears, as genuine and haunting as blood, surge forth as I am choked by a raging guilt mingled with want.

Who are you to think so highly of yourself? That you could possibly birth this gnawing, guttural ache to express yourself?

This. Is. Selfishness.

Let it die.  Give up.  What lies uncovered matters to no one but you.  You are frustrated over worthless endeavours.

Mothering is more important.  These lives are exponentially more valuable than your own.  They are our future.  You are the present, which is, at the moment we’ve read these words, the past.  Pour not from yourself for yourself, but into these, for them.

And in the midst of the chaos of my thoughts being chased away, I am weak.  A fractured vessel. Once full of  lush dreams, rich thoughts & poetry. Inspired. Now, leaking guilty thoughts of Not Qualified for Any.

Not a good enough mother, because Good Mothers don’t mind interruptions. Or lose their patience. Or their tempers. And always place their childrens’ needs(sssss) above their own.

Not a good enough writer, because Good Writers are able to write whenever they find the time, & pick up & leave off with an effortless fluidity wherever they were.

In the midst of this, I tell myself, I have no space for my thoughts in this life, much less room to learn new things. In these moments, I realize that it is a stupid dream – to find My Self again.  This life is a spinning, insurmountable, fortress of Immediate Need, where there is little time for reflection, or savouring that which nourishes.

And then my husband holds me. He freezes the spin, & softens my pace, &  speaks peace into the depths of my ache. It’s in these moments I understand how precisely God planned the assemblage of our hearts.

3 year old blessings.

3 is not my favourite year… by a long shot. it might be my least, but since we’re only to 11, so i can’t fully weigh in on that yet… but(!) when i am able to tap down my desire for only kindness & love to flow from the lips of my littles, listening to the chatter of my 3-year-old can be really enjoyable. Sharing some snippets with you. Be blessed!

ABDTEFD, next time won’t you wing wit me.
(alphabet song)

Hey, Mom, I have my madick tar.
(magic star)

puddit in my widdow, wook.
(put it in my window, Luke)

ME NOT WIDDLE!!!
(i’m not little)

attend i for wheel.
(pretend this is real.)

where’s your penis, mom? it in your ear?
(…that doesn’t need an explanation.)

whut dat amazing mell?
(what’s that horrible smell?)

 

Open Hearted.

The voice message was short. Upbeat.

“Hi, Julie. It’s your mom. Gimme a call. Bye.”

She also called my husband, though, which meant it was more than just a check in.

I dialled, late, on the way home, with the vehicle full of children running only on adrenaline. My husband hushed them, as she answered the phone.

I remember her words as shards. Our conversation in fragments.

“We’re in the hospital.”

“…but they’re keeping him over night…”

“…we were on the way to a funeral, but he asked me to go to Emory instead…”

I listened. Ben was driving, but my world stood still. Life sped past my window, driving through tiny towns, but it seemed like all that mattered was frozen while I tried to understand. To really gather, ingest, and absorb the information I was being given. I knew if I showed the slightest urge to emotionalize or make big what must be made little, the information given to me would lessen.

I succeeded.

“Would you like to talk with him?”

Yes, please.

“Well, hey, there!”

His voice has always been dark velvet. Soft, deep & warm. I swallowed the crack in my voice before I tried to speak.

“Hi, Dad. How are you doing?”

Hi, Dad. My dad. Don’t leave me, Dad. Not now. Not ever. Please. I’m not grown yet. I don’t have your voice recorded nearly enough. I can’t not be able to call you whenever I want. I want you to always be here, Dad. Please, Dad.

“Well,…” He went on to tell me about enzymes & potassium levels, & lungs – one side clear, the other, not. They were keeping him over night because they wanted to give him a stress test in the morning.

He was OK, & was thankful for such a good hospital. I asked him to have Mom text me when they start his test, & he said we’d work it out. He said he loved me. I echoed his sentiment, & we hung up.

I exited the car. Ben already had the boys inside the house, getting them dressed for bed. Neighbours on their porch called to me. Asked how my weekend had been. We made hard-to-decipher small talk before I finally said out loud for the first time, “My dad is in the hospital. Something is wrong… Maybe… with his heart.”

The words hung in the air like heavy balloons. The distance between us, & my lack of certainty, refused to let the words travel farther than a few inches from my mouth. They smiled & nodded, not understanding, but being polite. We waved good night, & I closed the door behind me.

Later my Ben asked me.

“Are you OK?”

“No. I’m trying to be. They say it’s not a big deal, but, I’m scared. I know he’s going to be fine no matter what happens, but… me. I’m afraid I might unravel. I can’t not have my dad.”

This world keeps throwing such heavy blows. It seems the more I get to know the people in my life, the more I see how much hurt the heart can carry.

& it’s immeasurable.

Every person breathing, is inhaling, in spite of great heartbreak. The more I learn of people’s stories, the more I see how prevalent suffering is. To live without a mother, or with a dying husband. To bury your child, or watch your best friend live it. So close, it’s your own pain, but doubled, sort of. A quarter at the least; the weight of your loss for her, yourself, & bearing the weight of her burden, too.

Communal life hurts.

Life. Hurts.

Because death hurts. Because we weren’t meant to live this. And when we must, our bones cry out for peace. For cease. For suffering to end. For celebration to begin, & never… end.

I think of life, here, on this planet, without the father God gifted me with, & I want to burn the whole world down. Because he’s mine, & I want him. I want to always be able to hold his hand, & hear his jokes, & watch him swing a golf club & listen to him tell me how much he loves my boys & my husband. And me.

I don’t want the memories of his arms around my mother to dim. I don’t want to forget the scent of his skin. Or the scruff of his 5 o’clock shadow. Or his laugh.

At the end of this week, he will have open heart surgery. And when they open his chest, they will be opening mine. And my mother’s. And my sisters’ & my brother’s. Nieces’, nephews’ & my sons’. All open at the same time.

Waiting.

Praying.

The machines that will breathe for him, & beat for his heart, will be working not just for his life, but to keep together those who feel like unravelling without him.

His doctor told him that even though he’s 80 (81 in July), he has the body of a 50-year-old, so he should recover nicely. I’m told it’s a common procedure, but it’s not common when it’s your father. It’s personal. Communal. It’s my procedure, too.

Just as the man sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit is a sentence for his family & friends. Just as the wife who mourns, daily, the depreciation of her husband’s quality of life, is a depreciation for their children, grands, friends & neighbours. We think our suffering is unique to us. That our hurt is not felt outside the four chambers of our heart, but the world aches with us.

He designed us this way.

To bear burdens. To cry together. To walk a hard path once, so we can walk the path with a friend later.

He entered into this. He wept. He cries for our losses. Even when He knew He could (& would, &will!) dry every tear. He wept because we weep. Because this wasn’t what He wanted for us.

But he does bring joy in the morning. In the mourning, too. He is always showing us, shouting at us, through the thick haze of our pain, “I am here. I am steadfast. I will never turn my face from you. Even now. I am here.”

The hands that held my own when I learned to walk this earth are a treasure and a gift. And I want to say, “It will all be ok, no matter what,” but if I don’t get to hold them this time next year, I will be unravelled. And if I am unravelled, & those hands are wrapped around those of my saviour, He will still be here. I will be allowed to mourn. A Christian mourning doesn’t make God less powerful.

If there is one thing I know about my Heavenly Father, it’s that He will surely turn my mourning into dancing.

I do hope, though, let’s be clear… I hope & pray that my sweet, earthly father will be dancing with me, here, for many more years. And that the scars we all gain from his surgery this week will bind us closer to each other & our Lord.

broken breath & beauty.

This day is not unlike every other day, with its ebb and flow, its stop & its go. Its rhythm being what is, leaves little space for pondering or whispers, or me. Waking to hands fingering my eyes, begging for technology & breakfast.

Waking after little ones always seems to start my day a pulse behind. Always catching up, always running after, scrambling. I tinker with these thoughts of creating, of releasing that which is pent up in me. Breathing new life into new worlds into new eyes once dull. Inspiration, fleeting. There’s little time for sitting still or hand folding, or connecting to & releasing that which twists & burns inside of me.

My ears’ drum throbs at the beat of technology’s pace & volume. More. Go. Yes! Now! Room to room, all lights on, full energy, full force, full run until it’s a full scream from a partial break in a tiny foot that I was supposed to protect.

All of life: Pause.

brokenfoot

Broken. I was trusted with him.

Breathe. Me. Now.

Self, to me, “breathe, now.”

Exhale, then, guilt. Guilt, the only thing that moves, drips, masquerading itself as tears. Should Have. Would Have. Could Have? but God(!) help me, I can not keep up.

It is through Him only that I am sustained for longer than heart’s beat, or a bone’s snap. And do I praise Him enough? Do my children know that when their worn down mama anchors herself to the kitchen chair & writes furiously, that the words from her heart are pouring into the Hands that knitted them together in her womb? That no man could ever comfort or console or uplift or encourage the way her Father does when gently rocks her back to peace?

Whispering Promises, up from the Holy Flame that burns, and into the place He knows she needs it most…

Do they know?

I wake up behind, but He is in front & He is guiding me, helping me ride this life through. Not gracefully, on my part, but He is ahead stitching together all the pieces He knows I will snag upon my selfishness. For His Own Glory, He picks up the pieces of my heart & anchors them back inside my chest, but this time, beating not for me, but for Him. He picks up the bad, comforts the aching, & breathes beauty into the broken.

*exhale*

brokenfoot2

And then I hear the laughter. He gives strength to the broken, and freedom to the guilty.

See this, my boys, & remember this. As you grow taller & stronger, & find your place in this world, remember: every single thing breaks. And some times it will be your fault, & some times it won’t, but it will happen &, in an attempt to make sense of it all, you will be tempted to blame. Do not slip down this slide into madness. Breathe. & remember, there is One who can comfort you & heal them, & turn broken pieces that, in present, pause the whole of your world, into areas for beauty.

Like that of a boy who can’t be kept down by the weight of a cast & a broken foot… He keeps dancing.

“There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
-Leonard Cohen

sharp truths can break spirits.

“I need a break,” is a recurrent echo in my thoughts, bouncing around when my joints are achy & my feet are grimy from floors I haven’t washed.

A Break.

To stop. To breathe. To take time for myself; it is both encouraged and discouraged by the sphere of women, universal.

And there have been moments when I have articulated my secret ache, only to find myself shot in the heart with an arrow of shame.

“They are only young once.”

“Remember, they are a gift.”

Stating a sharp truth to a hurting mother is not a balm to her heart. It is isolating & guilt-ladening. It is neither freeing, nor inspiring.

They are only young once, that is true… Any mother with a child over 2 knows the adorable, quotable, slightly-garbled variations of vocabulary sharpen every day.  Every human knows the ache for yesterday. For Should Have. Would Have. Could Have, & the bulging swallow of guilt that is “…but didn’t…”

babyluke

We know they are gifts & are not to be taken for granted. We know Mothering is an honour, & that life is fragile & children are precious. Many of us know, intimately, the bloody tears of a hollowed womb shed for the baby it should still be growing, protecting; & the dryness of eyes too worn to produce more tears, mingled with a heart so bruised it shocks us at its ability to beat. We’ve known the face & shape of the child delivered, but never born.

babyhope

As a culture of women, we need to stop speaking out of both sides of our mouths. We say Mothering is the Hardest Job, but inwardly shame those who are struggling in its trenches. We say take time for yourself, but make cruel statements about those who do. We need to stop compartmentalizing one another.

It is possible to be Grateful For & Overwhelmed By at the same time. Every soul knows this, & we need to stop pretending this isn’t reality.

Life is too complicated for poorly-timed clichés. I am beginning to understand that most sharp truths are to be given only after much thought & prayer; from one close friend to another & delivered with much love.

We need to remember each of us is vulnerable. To another’s opinion, yes, but mostly our own.

If the culture of women were to shift its gaze away from the mirror & off of the clock, we could stop choosing self-protection in preference of solidarity. When we meet another in her weakness, with gentleness, love, & compassion, we are given the honour of truly knowing her, and helping her live more freely in skin, knowing she is, finally, understood.

reflections.

As an internal-processor, I’ve had a difficult time working through the experience that is Kaihura. I’m rarely able to compile my thoughts to speak deeply & accurately. “What was it like?” catches me off guard every time. Instantly, memories in visual movement rush forth, taking up so much space, there’s little room for words.

Scents. Tastes. Sounds. Hands. Holding. Sam. Babies. Prayer. Bus Rides. Flat tires. Whole. Laughing in past gives way to my present: Aching, blinking back want.

remember

I want to go back.

That’s what it’s like.

I want to go back.

This year, I won’t, but maybe next. Hopefully, next.

You see, There’s this internal shift that happens there – so many beautiful people smiling and embracing one another and us; gives freedom to drink one another in, and appreciate simple nuances noticed in conversations that are not rushed – we shift into peace. And calm. And though language is a barrier, it is amorphous, shifting and easily being overcome… because intention & attention are solid – inspiring each other to step into humility and patience, as we try to understand. We want to understand. To know each other.

032

And as we do this, we see less of what’s different and more of what binds. We are reflections. I see the single mother with her young son, excitedly telling me about her upcoming wedding, and I want to grab her and tell her, “That was me! I lived that, too!”

033

I see her small boy with his huge eyes and sweet mouth, who loves his mama & will wave if you smile at him. Then, I look to my now 11-year-old who has nearly grown into his eyes, but will still toss me a friendly gesture when I smile at him.

004

…& my heart sings praises because of the glorious bond between a mother and her child. It is universal and precious.

This shift. When we step out of our pride and standoffishness, and into the culture of Kaihura, with its hand holding & “hugs, not shakes” hellos, we shift into a skin that fits more easily. Comfortable.

remembersm

I want to go back because I like myself more when I am there.  Because I am full of reflection and affection and intention when I am there, and life is slow enough to let silence happen without my needing to fill in.

remembermed

Yes, there are more things in America, but things do not make ones heart sing. Comforts do not make a soul more comfortable. I learned there, through the generosity of Kaihura, that human souls are nourished most when we slow down and focus.

rememberlarge

Perhaps things get in the way of our nourishment? That was something I learned – I also know now, through the imprint on my heart and the view from my lens, that when we focus outward, we see more of others, but also more of ourselves.

here we are again (archived)

In the busyness of packing, I threw on some socks.  Standing in my kitchen, surrounded by boxes, I looked down.

story of this house & hope.

(image of last moves mix-matched)

how far he’s brought us.  we didn’t pray – my anxiety in thinking because we just plowed through & wound up here, he wouldn’t bless us here. & how much he’s grown me in my knowledge of him.

moving forward, out of the home without the matching cribs, Hope always on my heart, into a 5 bedroom, but not a longing for her to fill that room, but for kids who need a place to be comfortable.

shame is a lie someone told you about yourself. (archived)

Shame is a lie someone told you about yourself.

– Anais Nin

I’ve struggled with food for as long as I can remember.  It’s been a way to control what I couldn’t, to quiet what was deafening & to soothe what was wrenching me in two.  Small moments, meant in jest or malice or construction, to a damaged, anxious girl, were gathered together in my tiny hands, heaped upon my heart, & held against myself.  

Not enough.  

So much potential, & yet…

Every every bite a box full of shame.  Stuff it down, or run from it.  Turn to drugs to forget what is needed to nourish the body I was born into… that I hate.  

Measure the girth of my arms with my fingertips.  How far up do they touch?

on. & on. & on.

Until I was sick from the drugs with a heart rate, resting, of 135.  


I was committed, counseled & studied.  Put on different medication that made me balloon from a baggy zero to a six in a week, & continued growing at a staggering rate until doctors finally changed the medication.  


I went from “almost there” to so far from everything I’d ever worked for, or identified myself with.  Lost 40 pounds, but still was 40 above my pre-drug weight.


I sit in fear of withholding, fear of losing control again, so I swing in the other direction & eat out of lack of control.  Quiet the voices of my former self.  The me that died in treatment.  Sometimes, I miss her.  I wish that I could bring her back, but drugs & family life don’t mix.


Two and half years after treatment, I fell in love with Jesus.  & yet still, suffocated with shame.  In our brokenness, the way we see our fathers is how we view the Lord.  Every day I exist in this body & I’m not thin, not tone, I fear am letting Him down, bringing Him shame.


Is this true?  Does my body really shame the Lord who loves me?  Who died for me?


No.  But do I believe that?  Do you?


I say I believe in freedom, a new life in Christ.  Ah, yes, but these wounds are too deep.  Too long sustained.  Too chronic.  This has fused itself to my bones, & I fear I will never be free from an eating disorder this side of the grave.  This is me.  To loathe the frame of flesh & bone that holds my soul on the earth.


But my babies.  They see me.  Their sweet faces, born from this body. They know how I feel about the vessel that God gifted me with, the vessel that grew them & protected their tiny, fragile bodies until they were strong enough to breathe in this broken world on their own.

One of my sons stood back from a mirror, saw his beautiful reflection & cried.


Echoing the shame I’ve long carried.


There are these moments in guiding young lives where we see how big we’ve blown it.  How vulnerable they are & how only God can heal wounds we’ve inflicted on those we hold most dear.  Where our sin, spreads like a virus, generational.

I stopped talking about it.  Kept it hidden & he healed.  Prayers heaped upon prayers & he’s OK, Praise the Lord!  2 years later, my boy has no issue with his body weight.


Finally, I entered another type of treatment.  EMDR (memory repression therapy) & eating disorder treatment.  If I believed Christ could save me, why did I still insist on clinging to untruths about myself?  That what I see in the mirror isn’t what God sees?  It was a huge risk.  I was terrified.


What if I opened all these wounds, talked about all these hurts, & nothing changes?  Or things get worse?


For my babies, I went.  I walked through the doors & sat on the turquoise couch & spoke my life, in hope that God would meet me there.  For me.  For my husband.  For my boys, so they don’t hate their reflection.

I went with a desire that my babies grow into a reflection of Christ, not their mother’s shame, & that they fall so deeply in love with my Savior that they are missed if absent.  Not because of potential, or works, or beauty, but because of how well they love those around them… & that they never focus so sharply on the outer, that they lose sight of the heart.


With faith & prayer (& a stomach full of butterflies), I went.

My Savior met me there.  He held me & He revealed Himself & He soothed me in a way food or starvation has never, could never, can never.


I still struggle with reflexes, with thought-paths, so well-worn that they’re deep trenches, easy to fall into again & again, but He meets me with His truth when I ask Him.


He’s been so good to show me how much He loves me.  Especially through my love for my children.  I love them when they’re messy, when they’re loud, when they’re sinful.  He loves me better than I could ever love my children, no matter my sin, no matter my size.

But how to love the vessel He gave me?  The frame I’ve fought as long as I can remember?  In therapy, I learned to replace a lie with the truth, & to repeat it & pray it, until I believe it.  Sometimes, through tears, I cry out scripture back to Him in prayer.


For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.


Wonderfully made?  With my disproportionate legs that still inhibit me from finding pants that fit?  With these eyes that brought the cutest boy on the bus to stare into them, only to ask if they were crossed?  Help my soul to know it well!  He chose these traits for me.  These legs that are strong, & these eyes that my boys wear beautifully.


& When I feel ashamed & alone, this sweet verse from last Christmas


The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.


He is a Warrior, my God.  He will save me from these lies & from my sin. He is doing so now.  Does it say when I am thin, that then He will take great delight in me?  No.  He delights in His children.  He will not rebuke me, but will sing over me.  The God of the Universe will sing over me!  Can you imagine?!

So, I’m learning.  He’s growing me closer to Him through faith.  Little by little, piece by piece, prayer by prayer, my sweet Jesus is peeling away layers of scar-tissue-lies, & is showing me my value.

Shame is a chain that shackles you to lies.  Who is the father of lies?  Is that where you want to sit?  Who you want to bunk with?


I’m learning it does me no good to sit in humiliation because of this body that is not & will never be perfect.  Longing for that sick girl to reappear so that I might feel comfortable, that I might inwardly boast about being better, thinner, is broken. I cannot cling to what lies behind me.  There is freedom in Christ, I’m learning.  Freedom to post makeup-less pictures online, but also bigger, truer freedoms.


Being a wife.  A mother.  A friend.  Being able to laugh, with my broken, capped teeth, at the days to come, without worrying whether God will meet me there, because He will, my friends. Knowing that the absolute best reflection I could ever aspire to, is my savior & to love people well, as He did.  To focus less on me, & more on others.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

these reminders. (archived)

attempting to sell a house is hard.  sanctifying.  everyone in my life hears the same song from me every day.  i whimper.  complain.  trying to find satisfaction in the uncertainly of a life’s scene that is (possibly?) changing.  how does one find contentedness in a home that one is trying to sell?  how do you detach when you don’t know if there’s need?  how do i anchor myself, settle my feet, on floors that may not be my own on christmas?  
i’ve been silent here because this is a place i aim to share what inspires me to stay home with my children.  to keep them close when the whole world tells me to send them away.  when they still have milk teeth, send them out to use their little words in a big world that is most decidedly not geared towards & valuing of small ones.  individuals.
but i struggle.  it’s not an easy battle, keeping them close.  especially when our house is on the market & everything is supposed to be clean & i’m dealing with idols trying to rip me in half.  
i want time alone.  quiet.  i want my house to stay clean.  projects to get finished.  beds to stay made, &, oh! i would love the thoughts in my head not to be run off by whining before i have a chance to write them down.
i haven’t been taking pictures as much as i usually do.  i haven’t been capturing beauty because i haven’t been paying attention to it.  i’ve been pouring into myself & lamenting over dissatisfaction.  i have been existing & complaining.  halfheartedly trying to remind myself why.

finally i connected my camera.  i’ve been occasionally snapping pictures when i think about it, & it’s been 3 months since i’ve uploaded the pictures.
uploading memories.  pouring over images.  seeing the little faces.  revisiting memories i was too busy (or distracted) to drink in fully the first time.  milk teeth framed in courage & adventure… & some times sass.  i need these reminders.  especially as we read about, & see first hand, how deeply the world is hurting.

a home is not an anchor.  christ is my anchor.  my calling to be their mother & to do so even when i’m tired & nervous, overwhelmed & battling jealousy & selfishness.  they need me as their mother, connected & inspired.  he has led me here.  to these precious faces, & their precious hearts.  he will see us through this time.  
maybe our home won’t sell.  maybe, christmas 2015, we will still be in this house.  in struggling to find contentedness in our home is where i’ve missed the mark completely.  my contentedness should be in him, my anchor in the Lord, yes.  tangibly?  given by the greatest gift-giver, these faces are my home.

& i am humbled & thankful that they’re safe.  that we’re safe.  that we have a park to visit & a car to get us there.  that we aren’t subject to physical threats because of our beliefs.

i sometimes feel poor.  we live in a land of great wealth, but i struggle with feeling like i don’t have enough. my babies are safe.  our house goes far beyond merely meeting our needs.  my husband loves me dearly & i see him much more than most are able to see theirs.  

reading the news.  seeing the families ripped in half, running for safety.  my brothers’ heads on poles.  
these reminders. they’re heart breaking.  they’re raw, staggering reminders of how wealthy i am… & how my four walls do not define me.  nor do my successes.  nor my failures.  nor my idols.  my definition is merely this – by amazing grace, i am his.

the expectation of imperfection (archived)

I am not gentle with myself.  I am a perfectionist & if I can’t do something perfectly, I usually have a “why even bother attitude”.  Desires become idols really quickly in my heart, & when the outcome isn’t what I’d like, or I can’t have something exactly as I’d like, I am really let down.  It’s a dream if mine to have a thriving family homestead one day.  (One we may be putting off a while for hospitality’s sake.)  Eventually, I want to grow (& raise!) most of our food with my kids helping & enjoying our own homegrown, seed-to-table, slow food.  Canning, preserving – the whole ‘putting food by’ is a huge desire of my heart.    I want to learn farming skills with a passion, but I’m trying to break my idolatry cycle, so I’ve laid this desire at His feet, & asked Him to help me learn, but also, to not let my dream become an idol.

My first attempt at gardening occurred last fall & it was a complete failure.

I had a success rate of zero from the seeds I planted.

The seedlings I bought were were either uprooted(!)

or eaten by squirrels.

I know why the garden failed (sunlight, soil, water, critters, season – you know, essentially everything), &, yet, I found myself really surprised by the fact that I was hardly upset. The Lord met me in my failed garden.  He answered my prayer!  Not the way I’d had liked, but He grew me through my failure!  Having a dead garden is hardly inspiring, but hearing whispers from the Lord that my garden wasn’t part of my identity?  It was worth the failure to see that idol surrendered.

We planted our garden on the shady side of the house last year because we were having 6 trees cut down on the sunny side.  When the trees were cut, the men laid the logs exactly where I wanted my garden to go. My husband is a busy man & has not had time to move 6 trees’ worth of logs to the upper part of our yard (or when he did have time, I’d much rather him have spent it with me because, well,  he’s busy & time with him is precious).  All of this to say – we were intending on moving the garden to the sunny side of the house, but never got around to it. (If you need fire wood, holler.  We’ve got you covered.)


On a whim, I grabbed some seeds from Target one day.  Only about $5 worth, & thought, if I plant them & they grow, wonderful.  If not, it’s ok, because the garden isn’t placed perfectly.

When I started weeding the beds, I found that there was a plus to not moving the garden bed – some of the seeds I planted last fall are growing!! Namely, a carrot.  1. Whole. Carrot.

& lettuce, too!  (There may have been more since I was weeding & pulled up a bunch before I realized the some of the weeds were crops. Whoops.)

I took this as a super great sign.  Maybe last fall’s garden wasn’t a complete failure, after all!!  I started planting my new seeds with great expectation, & with a jump in my step.

Well, there’s a certain little helper of mine…

This Guy!

who likes to be everywhere I am, & into everything I’m doing – including the garden.  We have a raised garden bed, & from everything I’ve read about raised beds, you’re really not supposed to walk in them because it compacts the soil.  Try telling that to an independent toddler.

It’s very shocking.  Dirt?  That can’t be messed with or stepped on?  Yeah, he doesn’t think so.

The day I started planting my peas, he was helping, too.  How did he help?  He pulled up my ONE CARROT from last fall.

Not all the way out of the ground, but enough for me to see that it was actually, really, a carrot!  Do you see that orange?  Because I had already let go of the idea that this garden was actually going to yield food we were going to eat, seeing the little spot of orange absolutely brightened my day.

Also, I experienced a very unexpected gentleness with myself, not expecting everything to work.  I let my baby get messy & step in the garden.  I let him touch the plants, & when he pulled one up, it was really exciting to see a spot of color under all the dirt.  & it helped me remember part of my dream is having a family garden – one my kids are comfortable with.  I want them to remember gentleness & fun when they look back at our garden, not one they weren’t allowed to really understand or get into.

The diaper, I know.  He sat in a puddle & slid down a mud hill, all in the name of Fun.

Also, they’re little, right?  Especially the baby.  He doesn’t understand soil compaction.  He understands fun, though, & he’s teaching me all about it.

The Lord has helped me come to terms with the fact that this isn’t the season for our family to grow our own food, but He’s also helping me learn that it’s ok to try things without the expectation of perfect success.  & the expectation of imperfect, I’m learning, is a really great, gentle place to be.

Where you have room for exploring things – like eating dirt.  (Him, not me.)

& little boys can go outside & explore without those pesky clothes getting in his way.

We left a rug out in the rain – for a while – & when we finally moved it so it could *ahem* dry out, we found a salamander hiding underneath!  I had never seen a salamander before!

I’m learning that pictures don’t have to be perfect to convey emotions… like thrill & excitement.

Dirty feet can be really precious.

Just like dirty finger nails.

& climbing trees can be fun with flip flops & without shoes.

Not expecting perfection has really lightened my heart.  When I asked the Lord to help me release my idol of a perfect garden, He – like He always does – has given me so much more.  He’s helping me see that it’s ok to not expect perfection from myself, or my kids, or my husband.  He’s also helping me see that when I do mess up, even in something small, like leaving a rug in the rain, or planting seeds too late, He still makes all things work together for our good.