To My First Born (From Another First Born)

To My First Born (From Another First Born)

Sweet, beautiful daughter of mine, I think about you all the time. And recently I find myself staring at you wondering when you grew up. When you were tiny, I remember wondering what you would be like, what would make you laugh and what would make you cry, what your favorite foods would be and what you would dream of becoming. You are more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.

I watch you and I flash back to my own childhood. I watch you holding Georgia, and I remember holding your Aunt Gracie. I see you reading everything you can get your hands on–books and street signs and menus–and I remember doing the same. I see your tears when you mess something up or get embarrassed. I know those same tears.

Today, we were talking when we got home from Classical Conversations. I needed to apologize for the way I handled something with you, and I asked you if there was anything you wanted to say to me. You looked at me with your bottom lip quivering and said, “I couldn’t do the hula hoop at recess.”

I know it might not seem like a big deal to some people. But I get it, sweet girl. My bottom lip quivers too. We first borns want to be great at everything. We want A pluses and gold stars. We chase perfection. Because we think that’s what makes us lovable.

But then we fail or mess up–even just a tiny bit–and everything gets all cracked up, and we’re certain we’ve ruined everything. But you haven’t. And I haven’t. Sweet daughter, you aren’t loved because you can keep a hula hoop in the air. And I’m not loved because I can keep meals and laundry and the endless balls I try to juggle in the air. You are loved because you’re mine. And I’m loved because I’m His.

So, maybe today we won’t try to be perfect. We’ll laugh when the hula hoop falls off because at least we had fun trying. Or when we forget the meat for spaghetti and meatballs or the laundry gets mildewy in the washer. We’ll cheer a friend on when she keeps the hula hoop spinning. Or when she gets the answered prayer or recognition or any of those things that make us feel like life is a competition with finite blessings to go around and surely her good thing means there’s less good things for me now. We’ll be vulnerable and admit our insecurities to Mom. Or our husband or a trusted friend. Because sometimes we need a safe place to fail and an outside voice to remind us that we are loved. Whether the hula hoop is in the air or on the asphalt.

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How Halloween Is Going Down This Year

How Halloween Is Going Down This Year

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetA couple weeks ago I had a little talk with the girls that went something like this…

Here’s how Halloween is going to go down this year, girls. You’re going to go to the dress rack in your room and pick whatever dress tickles your fancy on the morning of October 31st. For dinner we will eat a jack-o-lantern pizza from Papa Murphy’s because it’s cheap and easy festive. Then, I will hand you a recycled princess gift bag left over from one of your birthdays and off we will go. Also, if you could please slant the candy selection to the chocolate end of things. Love, your very, very pregnant momma. 

Friday night, we got home late from our annual pumpkin carving party with the small group which this year looked more like a mess of kids running around on a s’mores high and wearing half pajamas/half costume and some children who shall remain nameless (Charlotte) stripping down to their birthday suit in the middle of the garage. Matt and I tucked in two conked out little girls whose teeth were probably rotting out from all the chocolate and the lack of a nighttime brushing. The next morning Lydia declared it the best night ever which, granted, she declares about most days, but I think she’s onto something.

Sometimes, we make it too hard. Sometimes, we think we need Norman Rockwell, but really all we need is a bag of marshmallows, a fire pit, and some friends to laugh with.

When the Thing You Hate Shows Up In Your Child

When the Thing You Hate Shows Up In Your Child

You want to know what’s hard about sin and struggle and strongholds? Seeing it in your child. The day I first realized Lydia was going to struggle with perfectionism was a sobering one. For three decades now, I’ve wrestled with this beast. I’ve shed many tears and beat myself up about it. (Which, by the way, is one indication you have it … when you beat yourself up over being imperfect it’s a good indicator that you struggle with perfectionism.) Today, we were at our homeschool group, and she got to a part of her science project that she couldn’t do. And she lost it. She started crying, and once I got her in the hallway she told me through big, crocodile tears that she just couldn’t do it. My heart broke to see her so upset, and then I was angry. Angry that she fights the same battle I fight every day. Angry that Satan doesn’t just attack big people. He attacks little ones too.

After nap time, I woke her up and snuggled in the bed with her. I shared with her about my struggle with perfectionism. I talked to her about freedom and that Christ didn’t come for us because we deserved it. But that while we were still sinners. While we were still imperfect. While we were still messing up. While we still felt less than, Christ died for us. And I could hear God whisper, “It’s true for you too, Elissa.”

I remember telling my best friend one time that I’m tired of struggling with the same thing every day. I’m tired of fighting perfectionism and control every single day of my life. But I’m learning something from the stories I hear from people in recovery. We aren’t ever “fixed”–not this side of heaven. On this side of heaven, we are recovering. We are waging battle daily against the darts Satan hurls. Some days we are valiant in our victory. Other days, we can barely hoist our armor. But we battle on because the battle might be ongoing, but the war has already been won. I battle on because this isn’t just about my battle anymore. It’s about hers too.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:8-10 ESV

 

Things That Might Break

Things That Might Break

A few months ago I made a deal with myself. I either had to start using my fine china or I had to sell it. Before we go any further, I need to remind you I’m a Mississippi girl. (Technically, I was born in Louisiana but I only lived there for a couple weeks before we moved to MS and if you heard me say “y’all” you would know I’m a Mississippi girl.) Fine china to a Mississippi girl is supposed to be a big deal, so when it came time to pick out china we mulled over all the styles. (And by “we” I mean I held up one billion white plates that all looked the same save this  flourish or that filigree and asked Matt which ones he liked. Of course, I not-so-gently nudged him to the one I really liked. “Don’t you like this one, dear?”–as I shoved it in his face. Poor fiances should be excused from all registration responsibilities except shooting the little laser gun, but I was young and naive and didn’t know that at the time.) So said china has been with us for eight years now, and we’ve used it maybe six times.

For the first five years of our marriage (aka pre-kids) we did dishes maybe once a week (gross, I know) so it was completely unrealistic to use the fine china because you can’t scrape that stuff like you can dishes from Target. And, trust me, after a week of sitting in the sink those things needed a pickaxe. (Side note: I don’t know why I complain about my house being so much messier post-kids. Apparently, it was just as bad before. I just wasn’t home all day to see it.) Once kids come along, dinner becomes about 9.5 minutes long as you scarf down your food while cutting up chicken into bite-size pieces and catching sippy cups flying through the air. And fine china is just laughable. Because the plastic sippy cup might bounce, but fine china doesn’t fare so well.

Confession–during our wedding showers we got an extra dinner plate in addition to all those place settings, but instead of returning it for store credit I kept it. Because it makes me feel better to have a Plan B in case one gets broken.  It sits in the cabinet above the microwave still in its plastic wrapping. While the rest of the china sits in a china cabinet looking pretty but rarely being used.

I have this thing (it’s called perfectionism) with objects being in pristine condition. A couple years ago we painted the cabinets in our kitchen. It was a four-billion step process but the finish has held up really well. Except this one spot on the pantry door. It’s the door I open the most and there is a little spot right next to the handle that is now worn down so you can see the original oak finish shining through–taunting me. The door is worn there because I use it. Because I open that door to get the honey to refill my honey jar, to get the raisins to appease the one-year-old latched to my legs while I’m finishing dinner, to get the olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress our salad. I touch that door, I use that door all the time, and every time I see the little mark.

My daughter is teaching me a lot about living in freedom from perfectionism. Last year, her grandmother gave her a pair of gold sparkly shoes from Target. They are her absolute favorites. She wears them every single day, with her tutus, with her flower girl dress, with her princess gowns, even with her pajamas. Most of the gold glitter has worn off, but she doesn’t care. She knows they are shoes and shoes are meant to be worn, not kept in a box. And plates are meant to hold food, not gather dust.

Last Saturday, we had Nicu over for dinner. Nicu has become a dear friend of our family over the past few years, but this was the first time the girls and I got to meet him. Matt met Nicu a few years ago and we’ve gotten to partner with him and his family as they serve with Campus Crusade in Romania. Matt and Lydia went to pick him up Saturday night and I was finishing up our dinner–maple balsamic pork tenderloin, roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels and sour cream biscuits. I went to the cabinet to grab the Target dishes and stopped. No, tonight I was choosing things that might break.

I pulled out the white dishes with the thin stripes and little gold dots–chosen because the pattern reminded me of our wedding invitations–and I set the table. Because the day will come when it’s time to pass down my china to my girls, and I’ve decided I would rather give them one plate that’s chipped and cracked but holds a thousand memories and heard a million stories than a full, pristine twelve-piece collection that never got used.