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Archive for September, 2009

matthew 6:26

Ava received this delightful CD for her birthday called “You Are My Little Bird.” Accompanied by a acoustic guitar, Elizabeth Mitchell and her daughter sing a round sweet songs about birds. Since Ava’s name means bird, the CD quickly became the number request from the backseat.

One afternoon last summer I was driving to some unknown necessary destination and Ava was adding her harmony to Bob Marley’s tune. That day as the high summer rays mingled with the slow Marley rhythms, I heard the message of the three little birds. It reminded me of another verse–

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…. Look at the birds of the air: they neither so nor reap nor gather in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? –Matthew 6:25a, 26

We were in the sweep of many life changes and unanswered questions. Should try to sell our house? Where should we move? In what sort of neighborhood will we raise our family? How will that effect Ava’s schooling options? What kind of vehicle should replace Nate’s dead car with? What is our family portrait going to look like? Oh, what is it going to look like?

Worry was my morning tea.

So many decisions hinge on other decisions, and there have been so many times this year when I have felt completely stuck. If only I knew how “A” was going to turn out, I could decide what to do about “B” and “C”. It’s hard to live in the in between, the space between the Q and the A.

This year has been a lesson in letting go. I have an ideal answer for every one of those questions and more. I know how I want everything to turn out. And it’s hard not to believe that my ideal is “how everything will be alright.” Yet the longer those question marks hang on the end of those phrases the farther away my ideal floats.

What do you cling to then?

Marley was close, but he missed the how and who.

If I close my fist around my answers all I’m truly holding onto is anxiety. I cannot will the world to be my way. The harder I try the more anxious I become.

And through it all I hear the Lord, the great comforter and giver all good gifts calling me to open my hand and surrender these questions to him.

“Let this go, Rachel. Trust me.”

“But I’m not sure I like your plan.  I think I like mine better.”

“I love you. Trust me.”

“But this doesn’t feel like good gifts.”

“Trust me.”

Even as I surrender these things, it surprises me how often I have to do it. Some days I trust in his goodness. Some days I’m overcome by the images of my ideal. Slowly I’m learning to turn over those pictures to the One whose big picture is best.

I want to rise with Ava in the morning and sing a melody pure and true.

Jesus is the who and the how. Because of him every little thing is going to be alright.

And he does give good gifts, just look at my little bird.

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first day

When you find yourself on the cusp of a milestone, you pack all the necessary devices to capture the moment. Like the first-time parents that we are, we arrived at Ava’s school with more cameras than children. While Ava’s first day of Kindergarten is well documented in still and motion pictures, there are pictures that I want to retain that can’t be captured by a camera.

As I lay in my bed that night waiting for sleep to find me, images of the day swirled in mind my like a kaleidoscope. At each interval a picture would come into focus, I would fend off sleep with more chuckles and tears.

Ava threw open her door that morning like leading lady making her grand appearance on stage. “I’m so excited!” she declared still holding onto the handle with one and the other stretched out to the ceiling.

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Her enthusiasm sent her dashing through the morning of “A”-shaped pancakes and starched-new uniforms. She came into my room shaking her curls and twirling her tartan skirt.

“Oh Mama, you look beautiful. But you need a little spray for your hair and some make up on your eyes. ‘Kay. Oh, you smell so good, Mama! So get your spray hair and then you’ll be ready,” she said as she waved her hand and spun out of the room.

If there was ever a day for your Mama to look good, it would most certainly be the first day of Kindergarten.

The three of us walked into her school hand-in-hand, but I don’t think Ava’s feet ever touched the ground.  We headed toward the great common room where the students were to meet their teachers. And all the bravado of the morning melted in the wake of the frenzy that was spread out before us.

In the blur of the pandemonium, I felt the weight of familiar little hand press into mine as she leaned her head into my side. Together we watched big school kids dash by with even bigger backpacks; new parents exchange hellos as jittery children darted between their legs; and the occasional weeping little one clinging to the hand of confident older sibling.

In the midst of the chaos we had carved out our own circle of calm.

When her final classmate arrived, Mr. K asked his kindergartners to line up. I let go of Ava’s hand and said, “It’s time to get in line now.” I thought we would be following her to her classroom to hear a story. She grabbed onto my hand again, and once again I let it go, encouraging her to get in line.

And before I realized it was the end, she was marching away.

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In less than a moment I heard the beep of HungryMan’s camcorder signaling that he had stopped recording. I realized that there was nothing left to record. She had turned the corner and was gone.

Then came the tears.

“Rachel, we’re picking her up in three hours.”

“I know, but she was holding my hand, and I let it go.”

And then more tears.

The two of us walked out to our car, where I sat down and cried. I really didn’t expect to cry, but there I was laughing at myself as the tears kept coming wreaking havoc on the commissioned eye make-up.

And three hours later, my sweet bundle of happiness came skipping back into view.

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“Oh Mama! It was so much fun! It was better than I thought. I love kindergarten! I love Mr. K. He’s the best teacher. He’s better than a girl teacher! It was so much fun. I want to do it again!”

There was so much to say; there was no time for breathing.

In those short three hours, she had accumlated enough stories to share for the remainder of the day. And each new tale is concluded with, “I just really love school, Mama!”

When this day’s joyous pictures blend and blur into other happy school memories, the moment I will cling to is her warm little hand holding mine.

And as this is only the beginning of so many independent adventures, know sweet Ava, my hand is always here.

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there she goes

Her new polka-dot backpack is labeled with her name, filled with permission slips and waiting by the door. Her navy polo and plaid skirt are laid out neatly beside her knee socks and black Mary Janes. Every item from her school supply list is checked off and packed up by the door.

She is ready.

I’m sitting in the rocking chair in which I have carved out much of the past half decade looking over at a slumbering girl in curlers. There used to be a crib in that corner. She looked so tiny in that crib, my little babe. Now her long feet stretch out way beyond the mid-point of her twin bed.

Are mamas ever ready?

I remember when her first tooth started to push up on her gums. I was delighted to see her new tooth, yet so sad to say goodbye to that sweet gummy smile.

Isn’t that the way it is with parenting? At each step there is an exciting new development that leaves a loss in its wake.

How many times have I held her in my arms, looked into her sweet face and said, “Can you just stay like this forever?” And yet I can no more hold onto those moments than I can to the air she twirls through. So I tuck these memories in the folds of my heart.

Wasn’t it yesterday that I was nursing my cooing babe with the bluest eyes or scooping up my giggling one-year-old with outstretched arms? Wasn’t this morning filled with the why’s of wondering two-year-old or the constant testing of independent three-year-old? Didn’t I spend this afternoon in the fairytale spun by a four-year-old?

Who is this girl so long and lean, who can make me lunch and write me love notes? Whose curious theories and painted rainbows color my house. Whose elaborate plans and rosy stories fill my days.

I can hear rise and fall of her breathing. Each sound of her slumber is so familiar, my baby, my girl.

Tomorrow she will push through Mr. Kindergarten’s door. I will be sad to surrender my half-sized shadow, but I will be so proud of my bright, brave girl.

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