He Calls Us Both to Fly

Her voice was soft and probing, “Momma, do you want to see my butterfly?”
In that moment, everything hard in me broke into a thousand pieces.

We had just spent the last twenty minutes in one of the most combative periods of our nearly three and a half year relationship. Yes, my preschool-aged daughter and I were – for all intents and purposes – fighting. As much as I’d like to think at thirty years old I would be above that splintering of one’s will that her age is known for, I – quite simply – am not. In all the right circumstances, I can hold it together. I can recollect all of the pieces of advice I’ve ever read or been given to walk through this stage, and I can power through. I can hold her in her brokenness and keep myself together enough to keep us together, or at least seemingly so. Empathy is my strength, after all.

In all the wrong circumstances, I crumble. Because sensitivity, indeed, has an underbelly. The ugly stuff bubbles up in me and takes both of us hostage. I raise my voice. She screams and thrashes about. We clumsily, desperately grasp at power and control in these moments. As a result, we see ourselves as adversaries. It takes absolutely everything in me to keep from losing what little I might have left. Momentarily, the unthinkable thought that I am really not sure how you can dislike someone you love so much flits across my mind.

Somehow, by some miracle, we manage a ceasefire. We retire to separate, though not too distant, spaces. I slow my racing heart with the steady rhythm of t-shirt arms and loose socks folded in on themselves, stacked in orderly piles about the floor. I can clean this mess. I can control this chaos. Out into the void between us, I hear hurried scribbles on paper echo down the length of our dining room table. I don’t want to engage. I don’t think I can. But wanting to check on her without checking on her, I grab a stack of hand towels to return to their home in our kitchen drawers. I see her look up at my entrance, curious and longing.

She asks me to see her masterpiece, and that simple, forgiving way in which she does so breaks me. I quietly walk over to the table and look down at an array of color, wings, and body. I can tell exactly the places where she worked so carefully to stay in the lines. Yet, despite her efforts, she just isn’t able to do so all of the time. The whole of it is breathtakingly beautiful. All the freedom and creativity in the world, and if I’m not careful, I could crush it. This butterfly, this masterpiece of a child. The boldness, boundaries pressed and beauty of a little girl finding her way in her world. She is the grace and kindness of God in the whirlpool of will and sin nature and I am powerless in the face of it all.

I pick her up from her chair at the table, nestle her into that place in the crook of my neck where my babies always seem to fit no matter their age. Just barely, I’m able to whisper an “I’m so sorry, baby” before my heart catches in my throat. But she hears me. She whispers the same in return and pulls back to look in my eyes, ours in matching shades of blues made brighter by their reddened rims. Reassuringly, she says “I love you, momma. It’s okay.” It feels like I could hold her just like that forever, and yet she wants only to go back to her coloring. So, she does.

I return to my laundry and am brought to my knees, crying into my husband’s clean underwear. This is all, still, too much. Too much to feel. Too much to handle. Too much to know we could likely be here again, and again, and again for the rest of our relationship. Holding up my hands, I beg God for forgiveness. As if on cue, I hear her yell out from the dining room “I forgive you, Momma!” and my sobs take over, a prayer something like this rattling off my quivering lips:

I cannot do this without you, Lord. Anything good in me is You. Anything great is undeniably You. She is Yours, Father. She is Your masterpiece. Your gift. Your way of reaching me when I am simply unreachable. This is so hard. It’s always been hard, but at times it does get a little easier and I so quickly fall victim to believing I can do any bit of this on my own. I can’t. I need You. Please be for me what I cannot be, which is everything. Everything. Everything.

Soon enough, the laundry was folded, her coloring finished, and we went about our normal evening routine. Which was, as I’ve come to expect, not without its moments. Moments that require pauses and resets and closed eyes and whispered prayers for help.

After all, in this life, we won’t always be kind when we should, listen when we must, or get it right. Simply put, we will color outside the lines more times than we cautiously stay inside them. But all the while, He is perfecting even what we cannot see. My heart. Her heart. Our story of need and love and a God who made us both and gave us to each other, and the coloring and continual freeing of wings with which He calls us both to fly.

It is Home

I remember timing my first walk to our neighborhood coffeeshop, soon after moving into the house. Four minutes, seventeen seconds and forty-three milliseconds. Oh, the convenience! It seemed, to me, simply a novelty, at first.But it is now, in a way, necessity. It is a natural rhythm to our weeks and a sure bet for sweet times in what might otherwise be sour days. We sip at almond milk lattes, snack on the best gluten free muffins in all the land, build towers with tic-tac-toe blocks, and all the while, I find grace in friendly, familiar faces and God's continued promises for my furthest reaching dreams.It is a gathering place for hungry bellies and thirsty hearts, and it is home.

I remember timing my first walk to our neighborhood coffeeshop, soon after moving into the house. Four minutes, seventeen seconds and forty-three milliseconds. Oh, the convenience! It seemed, to me, simply a novelty, at first.

But it is now, in a way, necessity. It is a natural rhythm to our weeks and a sure bet for sweet times in what might otherwise be sour days. We sip at almond milk lattes, snack on the best gluten free muffins in all the land, build towers with tic-tac-toe blocks, and all the while, I find grace in friendly, familiar faces and God’s continued promises for my furthest reaching dreams.

It is a gathering place for hungry bellies and thirsty hearts, and it is home.

It Only Needs to Be

I am so thankful, this morning, for simple truths whispered in chorus to quiet my overwhelmed soul. When I think no one gets it – gets me, He does. He knows everything about me. I am known.And I want to know Him, in response. That is, really know Him and His Word. It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be long.It only needs to be.==================Thank you, again @pursuitcommunity for this lovely devotional, @ashleeproffitt for today's sweet reading, and @tiffanyzajas for encouraging me to start art journaling with what I already have. The best first steps really are often the most simple ones.

I am so thankful, this morning, for simple truths whispered in chorus to quiet my overwhelmed soul. When I think no one gets it – gets me, He does. He knows everything about me. I am known.

And I want to know Him, in response. That is, really know Him and His Word. It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be long.

It only needs to be.

Dream Your Dreams

Dream your dreams, friends. Pay attention to the things that give you chills, bring you to tears, or make your heart beat faster than you ever knew possible.Pay attention, even, to the silly, small and nonsensical things. Because in the process of recognizing them and then, taking even the smallest steps towards following them – whatever they may be – we meet the Dream Maker.And in Him, nothing is silly, small or nonsensical. Nothing at all.

Dream your dreams, friends. Pay attention to the things that give you chills, bring you to tears, or make your heart beat faster than you ever knew possible.

Pay attention, even, to the silly, small and nonsensical things. Because in the process of recognizing them and then, taking even the smallest steps towards following them – whatever they may be – we meet the Dream Maker.

And in Him, nothing is silly, small or nonsensical. Nothing at all.

I Was Lifted and Struck

"I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck." – Annie Dillard

“I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.” – Annie Dillard
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