A Birthday Everyday


I’d like to live everyday as if it’s my birthday because you’re free on birthdays. 

On birthdays you shamelessly sleep in. You eat three bran muffins for breakfast while letting your daughter snooze in your arms. You let people tell you you’re great and never once do your faults come to mind. Because it’s your birthday and birthdays are for celebrating YOU and being airy and light and sweet.

On birthdays you exercise because that’s the kind of year you want to have. You let other people cook you dinner and even request the meal because they offer and it IS your birthday after all. 

You sit on your loveseat and read Whiskey Beach and love every second. You wash dishes with a smile and sing more and really enjoy. 

On your birthday, you don’t feel guilty about asking your husband to watch the baby while you shower. Or bring you another muffin. Or hand you your water. 

Why is it that birthdays are the days we enjoy? Really dig deep into life? Why do I cheer myself on to eat another piece of cake on a birthday, but nearly shame myself for a cookie on Tuesday? 

I need more birthday-kind-of-days. Days where I ask for help, accept invitations to not cook, live outside guilt when I want to just sit and read my book. This year, I’ll make more days where I just laugh when my daughter pees on me. When I sneak out of bed to wash dishes in silence, drink tea in solitude and study my bible in dawn’s breaking light. This year I’ll cheer myself on to eat cake if I fancy it, sit with my sleeping daughter in my arms for just a little bit longer. And graciously let people say I’m good and believe them. I’ll have more days where I really reflect and believe I’m offering something to this world. In the form of more humus to my soil, if that’s all I’ve got! I’ll have more days of walking outside into the sun and declaring, “Here I am! Rock me like a hurricane!”

Yes, birthdays are fun because they’re different and a celebration we don’t always get. But if everyday were a birthday kind- of day, I’m pretty sure I’d be in such good practice that when the actual birthday showed up, I’d be ready to up the ante. 

So here we are birthday. A chance to celebrate the day my mother birthed me (good job mom!), the day I entered the world with a wail, the day that has gathered parents and sisters around me from the beginning. Then school friends and in the lucky years – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And now the day gathers in-laws, a husband, and a daughter, as well as new friends. It’s pretty great, this day. 

And I raise my cup of tea to you, self, on your birthday. Keep at it. Stay true. Spend yourself wisely. Live spontaneously. Love intently. And you know, rock it like a hurricane. 

   

On birthdays you can tell your husband, “Quick take a picture of.”  He will. And even if it’s poor quality, you’ll love it forever. 

  

Snuggles, naps….

  

Reading your book for two, uninterrupted, glorious hours. 

  

Mischievous miss NOT napping, but you laugh and scoop her up because it’s that kind of day!

  

And presents from the one who knows you so well that he gets you EXACTLY what you’d buy yourself. Except slippers, but you bought those last week anyways. 

  

This girl does birthdays with cake. Triple-stacked this year. The one candle apparently represents that I’ve got one year til I’m 30. 

Categories: Family Life, just for fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Traveling Tale: Light and Peace


“To shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
—Luke 1:79

This gem from my daily devotional made me think about the prayers I’ve been praying for peace in Baltimore. (I dug these notes up from beginning of May.) That there might be peace. And there might be great understanding. 
I’m considering the verse even as I sit on this plane from Frankfurt and realize how having a child opens me up to having conversations with many more people. Lord, may you use me to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. May you guide our feet on the path of peace – together as strangers reach out to each other. As mothers share a moment of sympathy, or talk about birthing in our respective countries. Meet us here, Lord. Shine into our darkness. Guide us to the path of peace. 

The French father with his son, who is no longer with the son’s mother. The Jordanian mother with 3 children who is immigrating to the United States. Her daughter who loved playing with Cedar and kept offering her food – bananas, chips, orange juice. her youngest son who could not handle sitting still. Her oldest son who asked to take a photo of her and asked her name. I watched him type the info into his little tablet. When I told him, “Like the tree. You know the Cedars of Lebanon,” he smiled HUGE. Is that in the Quran? I should look. Guide us in paths of peace. 

As we reach for you, let each of us seek to shine your light into the darkness. 

The man who offered to carry my bag up the stairs. The security gentleman in Frankfurt who insisted I cut through a long line. 

The Asian woman who lives in Portland and reminisced about when her own son was Cedar’s age and traveled across the ocean to visit home with him. 

I’m amazed in my traveling that when you open yourself to people – through your posture, smile, conversation, and general demeanor – that they open themselves to you if they’re willing. 

There’s the business guy on my left from Chicago to Cleveland whose body language makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with his seat mate. Poor chap! I brought a baby and we’re breastfeeding! Rough night for him, all hunkered down in his chair. But across the aisle is another man who couldn’t STOP talking about his granddaughter who was the same age and on and on. 

As we reach for you, may we shine your light into the darkness. 

The darkness of loneliness. The darkness of a broken relationship. Of too much work and not enough family time. The darkness of hatred and jealousy. Fear that tears people apart and neglect that damages deeply. The darkness of our own selves, lurking in our shadows and condemning us to same-ness forever. The darkness of losing ourselves and being separate from the One Who is Light. 

May you shine in our darkness and illuminate the other one,  so we are cheered and have companions for this journey. Whether it’s helping each other with bags up the stairs, or smiling or sharing a lifetime of stories. Let there be light. 

Guide our feet on the path of peace. 
  

Categories: Kingdom Coming Related | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet, Small Moments


Today was a small day, yet a rich one. A good one, some may say. It started out at 1 am – me hearing the elusive mouse scratching around in the cupboard. I woke Sean, who woke Thor, who waggled his tail nubbin while Sean tore every jar out of the pantry, every pan off the shelf, every bag from the crannies, and all the drawers from their sliders. We hunted so hard we woke the baby, who promptly ate and wide-eyed allowed me to stay awake with her a little longer. Probably until she felt she had in fact helped in the hunt. The hunt that ended in a whispered shout of, “Get it. Get it, get it, Thor. Yahhhhhh! He got it. Good boy.” And more whispers to tell him, “Off the carpet. Don’t eat it on the carpet!”

The excitement of the hunt made me forget. Forget that I had a 9am meeting with a new mother to try and answer some questions and bolster her courage in caring for her little one. So instead of sauntering around the garden, I found myself hopping over strewn-out drawers and bags and everything-stored-that-now-lay-on-the-floor, getting Cedar and I ready in record time. We bounced down the road. It was a hard visit. Not full of all the joys that new motherhood should bring. The brokenness of broken men contorting that joy – robbing the happiness. Yet it was real and raw. Cedar cried most of the time. Mad I wasn’t playing with her. Frustrated her morning routing was off. Teething? Or maybe that stuffy nose had her flustered. Either way, we showed this new momma that babies cry. And it’s okay. We try to help them and love them and are patient. Babies cry. And then they stop.

We returned home to the torn-apart-sanctuary where I knew she would settle and my mind would have space to hear what was going on with her. So we did. And she cooed and laughed. And her father scooped her up to play because you just can’t leave that cuteness laying on the bed by herself. He played while I cleaned and prepped dinner. He planted in the garden, while Cedar kicked in the bouncy chair. I wiped down cupboards and organized the pantry while Thor lazed in the sun of perfect warming temperature. We were together and apart. Connected and each in a blissful moment of aloneness. It was warm.

Visitors came. I slipped away from nursing the baby, and slipped her into bed, and then I was out the door to chat and catch up. And when the baby woke up, she got a fresh diaper, a sweater, and joined her father in the garden as dusk tickled the treetops. Into the bouncy chair as Thor manned his post at her side. With a “Stay with the baby,” he glanced at the baby every time, and settled his tuckus to wait and watch. She waited for her momma to take a shower, as she watched the light change the papaya’s leaves from green, to yellow, to pinkish-orange. She watched her daddy plant lettuce and pull weeds and clean the chickens’ water. Thor watched for snakes and mice and dragons, as he watched chubby legs move chu-chu-chu across the chair’s noisy fabric.

The roasted chicken and fresh green beans filled our bellies as the last shreds of sunlight tangoed with the new flickering flames along our walls. The health of it filling our bellies and fueling our conversation.

And then the baby cries and its time to wind down. Down to our bed she goes. Off with her diaper. Up go her legs. She coos, then giggles as her eyes scan for lights. Momma picks up her glow-worm, looking for a place to store him out of the crib. But baby’s eyes are looking, so I prop up the worm and push the pink belly. On goes the light and lullabies. Cedar rolls her body toward that glowing worm’s face. Intent and studying. Rapt attention with those hidden blue eyes. Her body quiets as her senses heighten. Watching. Listening. Enjoying. Feeling. Being. I crawl onto the bed behind her. She feels my presence and rolls her head slightly towards me, as if to say, “Oh, hi. There’s my mom,” and promptly rolls it back towards Mrs. Worm. And I lie there, behind her. Watching her pull her legs into her belly and swing her feet around. Watch her reach her hand to the worm’s face. Reaching to touch, to feel, to grasp. And I watch her coo and squeal when she looks away, but watch her stillness as she stares.

After she’s filled with songs and light and lullabies, I fill her more as I lean over her. My arms alongside hers. My face hovering over hers. Her legs pushing on my chest and neck and torso. Her toes squeezing my skin. I sing and she smiles. My voice goes low and she giggles. I squeak and she follows. And we sing for a bit. Then I take out a book. A silly, little book without a plot. I read it – all 24 words of it – then declare it silly to her and return it to the shelf for something with more meat – The Lion King. And I sprawl on my back, staring at the roof, just like her. Our heads together, our eyes lifting. I read and she listens – for about 1/3 of the story. Then her moans let me know it’s time for pjs and diapers, swaddles and rocking.

As I get her all arranged, her napping on the love seat father stirs and asks, “Are you okay, mom?”

“Oh I’m good. Momma is very good.” And I return to my snuggles and swaying. After we sway for a moment, we rock in our squeaky chair, then she eats and drifts to sleep. I read a few pages of my book. Enjoying words and snuggles, baby and pages. Once the baby is tucked into her bed, I boil some water and brew a cup of tea. A perfect cup of tea to match the breezy, warm air that sways in and out of our windows. Moving and warming, cooling and soothing. Sean climbs into bed, as I pull out my computer. It is these moments that need capturing. More than a photo. More than a video. More capturing than a fight, or the sleepless night, or the frustrated cries. It is the quiet, still, calm, and enrapturing moments that threaten to be engulfed by the large and loud and wild moments if we don’t take notice.

So here I am. With tea and keyboard, candlelight and chirping crickets. To record. And be. To know and remember. So I shall.

Categories: Family Life, just for fun | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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