Dear Ellie …

dearellie

 

Today is your birthday.  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been four years since we met … I remember your birth so vividly!  There were two doctors in the room with us.  Your dad had his head by mine – I could hear him praying in my ear.  He glanced up seconds later and the room was filled with more than a dozen people – all of them prepared for your birth to be as crazy-difficult-traumatic as your brother’s.  But with three pushes you were here – no drama, no life-saving techniques or machines needed.  You were placed on my chest, I kissed your red, splotchy face, and my heart was full.

You’ve changed a lot in the past four years.  Obviously, you can walk and talk and feed yourself, and you go to the bathroom on the toilet most of the time.  This past year, though, in particular, you’ve become fiercely independent:  You want to do everything by yourself, from pouring your breakfast cereal to brushing your hair to zipping up your winter jacket.  You’ve gone from following your brother’s every move, obeying his every beck and call, to telling him no every now and then.  Sometimes you take charge when you play together, building forts and obstacle courses and tents for your toys.  While I miss the days you called balls “gollys” and dogs “gogs”, I’m glad you’re becoming your own person!

Because I think you’re pretty amazing.  Even at the age of four, I can see great things in you!

You’re kind and compassionate.  You love others – “I love everybody in the whole world!” you frequently tell me.  I was so proud of you earlier this year when you noticed one little girl in your class who didn’t have any friends.  She’s so shy that she doesn’t even speak to your teachers, she only smiles.  But you made it your goal to become her friend – drawing pictures to give her, sharing your toys, inviting her to sit with you – and now you’re best friends!  She scrambles over the other kids to sit next to you at rug time and even though I have yet to hear her voice, she always makes sure you see her wave good-bye at the end of the day.

You’re persistent.  You don’t give up.  I’ve seen you stand at the parallel bar for ten minutes before your coach is able to help you – and you keep trying, over and over and over again, to pull your feet up between your hands into a tuck position.  And when you finally do it, your grin covers your entire face!

You’re organized.  Sometimes to an extreme– you line up all 47 of your ”pups” at least six times a day, then move them all over the house – in order! – and eventually back to your room, where you put them to bed for the night.  We’ve learned to start your bedtime routine 45 minutes earlier than your brother’s just so your pups can be tucked in in time!

You love to be the center of attention.  You’re always saying “Look at me, Mommy!  Look at this trick!”  Sometimes it’s a gymnastics trick – a somersault or a dog tail or a stork stand.  Sometimes it’s slurping up half a cup of juice with one pull on your curvy straw.  Whatever it is, you’re always so proud of yourself!

You also love to make people smile.  When someone is sad or hurt or sick, you’re the first to rush in, arms open, ready to offer a comforting hug.  When I’m not feeling well you bring me books, hug me and kiss me, and crawl under the covers to keep me company.

You’re helpful.  You’re always under my feet when I’m doing chores around the house.  “What can I do Mommy?  Can I help?  What’s my chore?” And (unlike your brother!) you never, ever ask for payment!

You’re an artist.  You can spend hours sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of white paper and crayons, drawing cats, dogs, dinosaurs, spiders, suns, and your latest favourite:  traffic lights.

I hope you don’t outgrow any of these things as you get older.

I hope you don’t forget about them.

I hope I don’t forget about them!

It’s my job as your mother to love you, to nurture you, to support you – to help you develop roots, but eventually watch you take wing and fly.

That thought terrifies me!

I pray for you every day, sweet girl.  I always have and I always will.

You’re growing up in a very different world – in a very different time! – than I did.

I pray for you to be strong.

I pray for you to be courageous.

I pray for you to be kind and compassionate, and to love others.

I pray for you to have a servant’s heart.

I pray for you to stay creative, and to pursue your passions.

But above all, I pray that God, “from his glorious, unlimited resources … will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  (Ephesians 3:16-19 – NLT)

I love you Elliebelle!

Happy birthday!

xoxo

Mama

My Little Gymnast

When I was a little girl I was always doing something creative.  I remember being holed up in my room for hours, drawing horses, trying to get the angle of the ears just right, or making candy wrapper collages for my notebooks.  I wrote all the time – stories, poems, songs, essays.  Inspired by Gordon Korman, I wrote my first novel in seventh grade – a mystery starring Ryder Strong and Ben Savage from Boy Meets World.   I had all the time in the world to devote to my creative endeavours, as long as my  homework was done in time!

I miss those days.

Now creativity seems like a luxury.  I find myself encouraging my kids in their creativity, praising their choice of colours and solutions to problems when their artwork doesn’t turn out quite like they expected.  I refer to the Beautiful Oops book often, reminding them that their projects don’t have to be perfect – sometimes it’s more about the process!

I need to tell myself the same thing.

I know that I’m the most myself when I’m being creative.  I’ve noticed a change in my attitude, my mood, my productivity – when I push my creativity to the side.  It’s a part of me that I need to pay attention to.  It’s who God – the ultimate creator! – made me to be.

* * *

This is a poem I wrote for Ellie as part of the Coffee + Crumbs Year of Creativity course.   We were encouraged to pick a childhood activity that we don’t do often (or in my case, ever!) and spend some time doing it.  Really doing it.

I used to love writing poetry.

These days it feels like everything I write has a purpose and a deadline – so I sat in the viewing room at Ellie’s gymnastics class and watched her with my notebook open on my lap.

This is what I wrote:

 

My Little Gymnast

The gate opens and she dances into the gym,

Giggling, her hair a caterpillar bouncing down her back.

She sits on the red warm-up mat, eyes raised expectantly,

Awaiting her coach’s instructions.

She knows Mama’s rules:

If you don’t listen, you don’t do gymnastics.

So she waits.

 

The first circuit is trampoline – her favourite!

Star jump, bum drop, tuck jump.

“Land on your feet!” her coach tells her.

 

Then onto the foam pit.

She cannonballs from the edge, then decides to try the vault.

She climbs up – one crash mat high, two, then three.

“Oh, that’s high!” she exclaims –

And scrambles down to slide in from the edge.

 

Airplane arms on the beam, a stork stand in the middle.

Jump off –

But land on your feet!

Bear walks on the p-bars, a tuck solo hang.

Wait your turn for the rings!

 

It’s time for floor.

Backward rolls, dog tails, jumps and twists.

“Land on your feet! LAND ON YOUR FEET!”

Under the rainbow tunnel, cartwheeling over the French fry mat.

She avoids the rope as long as she can after a fall last week.

 

Then Coach Mariam helps her wrap her legs around the rope,

And gives her a push.

Her eyes are as big as saucers,

Then become slits atop a wide grin.

She swings back and forth, back and forth –

Then drops neatly to the floor.

On her feet.

“I did it!” she cries.

 

My little gymnast.

* * *

Creativity is never a waste of time.   

I feel like I’m slowly making my way back.

Beauty for Ashes


Beauty for Ashes

Maybe it’s just me, but in my experience beauty goes hand in hand with pain. You can’t have one without the other.

Today I’m sharing a story of how God created beauty from ashes:

“Three years ago we bought our son an adorable little t-shirt: “Big Brother Team Captain”, it said. He wore it to Grandma and Grandpa’s house that evening – he was so excited to share the big secret he had been keeping.

My husband’s parents were ecstatic – they had been waiting for a second grandchild since the day our son was born!

Then I started bleeding.  Just a little spotting, at first.

Then more … ”

Read the rest at Anchored Voices.

Faith & Hockey Sticks

perseverance1

Two years ago my husband and I signed our son up for skating lessons.  He’s been dreaming about playing hockey since he was old enough to walk.  He was born in Oil Country, he bleeds copper and blue – heck, he even eats dinner sitting below a framed photo of his dad with Ryan Smyth!

We figured it was time.

Topher was ecstatic!  Never mind that he was enrolled in beginner figure skating – he was convinced he had been drafted to the Oilers!

But skating wasn’t as easy as Topher thought it would be.  It’s one thing to zip up and down the hallway with a plastic hockey stick and entirely another to do the real thing!

In his first lesson the coaches taught the kids how to fall down and how to get back up, first on mats and then on the ice.  Topher was a pro … until he stepped onto the ice.   He did exactly what his coaches told him:  get on your hands and knees, wag your tail like a dog, get one foot up, brace one hand on your knee and use the other to push off on the ice and stand up.

But Topher couldn’t do it.

Not in the first lesson, or the second, or the third.  Eventually one of his coaches would help him to his feet so he could participate in the other activities, but Topher was so afraid to fall that he would barely move. Then one of the other kids would accidentally bump into him and knock him over, and he would be back to Square 1, shaking his little bum in the middle of the rink.

Halfway through his fourth lesson I was starting to wonder how much patience his teachers had.  Would they recommend remedial beginner skating lessons?

Join me at Anchored Voices to read the rest!

When Dreams Change

“Well?” he said, waiting for an answer. “What are you going to do?”

We were sitting in his office – him, leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk, me, in the swivel chair across from him with my feet tucked beneath me, spinning myself around and around and around as I tried to make a decision.

I had been planning the cross-country move for more than a decade. I attended university after high school like my parents wanted, even earning a “sensible degree” in economics – but my passion had always been horses. The deal was that if I graduated from university, my parents would support me in whatever I chose to do next, even if that meant moving 3000 miles away to study horses at the best school of its kind in the country.

Hours earlier I had received a letter from that school informing me that I had been wait listed. They allowed ten students into the English Horsemanship program and I was unlucky number eleven. I had flown across the country a month before to tour the school and perform a riding test. I made one mistake – picking up the wrong canter lead and not correcting it quickly enough – and I was done. “You’re welcome to try again next year!” the letter said.

What was I going to do? 

I shared the answer (and the rest of this post!)  at Anchored Voices earlier this month.  I hope you’ll join me there!