Monday, March 24, 2014

Party Time {1+3}


Saturday we celebrated our two girls.  We could not have asked for a sweeter day.

Spring made an appearance, crisp and sunny.  Family drove hours to gather with us.  Friends arranged their Saturdays to stop by.  My talented mother made the flower 1 and 3 and their beautiful cakes.  A dear friend took simple flowering branches and created some beautiful arrangements.  And to keep it simple, all I did was use what I  Hanging from where ever I could hang them, as well as a rolling slide show.  An art gallery of my favorite treasures.

Add some music and giant cookies, and I'll call that a party...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Lulah {year 1}

Dear Lulah,

Here we are darling.  One year.  A year ago today.  Marking the craziest, most intense 5 hours and 45 minutes of my life. A ride that ended with me clutching you to my chest in our back bathroom tub.  Me full of laughter and shock and relief.  Your father full of adrenaline and pride.  The room full of miraculous love and peace.  A story I told, here.

The story of your arrival is truly one of my most prized treasures.  A lesson in finding the balance between preparing, training, working towards a goal, yet releasing fears and my own plans into the hands of the Author of life.  To work hard for a plan but to be rooted in faith.  Steadfast but adaptable.  It's a balance I try to find at the very core of my being.  A balance I think goes hand in hand with motherhood.

My second daughter, what an aide you have been for learning that very balance of planning and releasing...planning and releasing...planing and releasing...again and again and again.

This past year I've been learning, even more, how incorporating structure and routine can bring peace into a household of littles.  But yet hold on to that with a rigid grasp, and it can make you crazy.

Again, balance.

Lulah, last night I nursed you to sleep and laid you in your crib.  Then laid down next to your sister to wait for her to fall asleep as well.  Like most nights, this is when my mind travels through the events of the day.  The laughter, the fun, the joy.  But I also think on the moments I wish would disappear.  I snapped when I should have had more patience.  I should have handled this differently.  I should have done better with that.  I should have shown more love and grace in that moment.  And I offer up a silent prayer...

Lord forgive me.  Teach me your ways, so my girls can see You.  Protect them from the harm that I can cause.  Erase my ugliness from today and help me start new tomorrow. 

I will always be a mom that needs a Savior.

Last night struck me deeper though. 

Am I being as intentional with your first birthday as I was with your sister's?  Do I show my love equally?  Give my attention equally?  Is that even possible?  The classic wrestle with, 'am I enough?'  I almost ache sometimes wanting you girls to know, truly know, how much I love you.

Wiping away tears, I remember.  The unfailing love and comfort I receive from God.  His goodness.  His faithfulness.  And it's what I want for you and your sister.

As much as I joyfully and gratefully give this season of life to the service of motherhood, and work and strive to do it right and to do it is not me that will unfailingly provide those things for you.  It is God.  It always comes back to God my dear.
But guess what Lulah?  Do you know what I NEVER question?  You are such a gift!

You have blessed me.  Blessed this family.   You have so much love to give and you love to give it.  Having you wrap your squishy little arms around my neck, watching you wrap them around your sister, your dad, family, friends...  And you squeeze.  You genuinely squeeze and pat your hand on my back.  Then you look up grinning, waiting for the, 'Awwwww'.

Love.  It really is the word that just sums you up.

I've been writing down more of the classic 'stats'.  Your weight, your height, your likes and dislikes, and things like that.  I know they will be fun to look back on.    But today, I just wanted to share my heart.

Lulah, it's Spring.  There's a new fresh world for us to explore.  And you have no idea how your world is about to change.  You are on the brink of new abilities, new experiences, new perspectives.  I can not wait to watch your world expand.

Ready again to practice squeezing you tight...and letting a little more go.    


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dear Lucy {year 3}

Dear Lucy,

I've done my best to really, truly heed the cliche, but well meaning, advice that comes tumbling down on top of you the moment you have your first child...

time flies
you will miss this
i wish i would have held them more
i wish i would have slowed down

When you were born, I decided to make a conscious, intentional decision to live that advice out with you.  Or at least try.  There's a reason why mothers all over the world, all across the span of time, say the same things about how quickly these early years slip by and how desperately they miss it.

So I've lived these past 3 years in this limbo of excitement for what's ahead of you, but refusing to let the wonder and magic, even the mundane and crazy, of the now pass me by.  And here we are at three.  And this birthday is strangely harder than your 2nd and even your 1st.  I just can't imagine any other Lucy than the one in front of me right now.  This toddler/girl creation.  Our conversations, your humor, your perception of things, your kindness, your thirst to know things, your unbelievable ability to forgive me over and over and over all fills me immensely.

So Lucy, I've read some essays that talked about how we raise little girls to be focused on just their looks and that we teach them that is where their value is because we immediately want to tell girls how pretty/cute/beautiful they are.  I totally agreed.  No more 'you're cute' comments.  Besides, you have many amazing qualities, so it shouldn't be that hard.

I was shocked.  Trying to not tell you how beautiful you are, was like asking me to not use your name.  That sounds dramatic.  But the number of times a day I am stopped in my tracks because of a smile from you, a laughter heard, the clearness of your blue eyes, your crazy, whispy blond are beautiful.

Then I realized, the beauty that article is talking about is standard, of-this-world kind of beauty.  And that is not what I am talking about.

You are beautiful because I look at you and know you are part me and part your father.  You are beautiful because you carry traits from your great-grandfather.  You are beautiful because you break out in song all the time, the way I like to do.  You are beautiful because you are agile and confident in how your body moves, just like your father.  You are beautiful because when you don't know I can hear, you check on Lulah with such tenderness and love.  You are beautiful because when I have snapped and lost my patience and I tell you I'm sorry, you respond with a genuine, 'thank you, mama' and wrap your arms around my neck.  You are beautiful because you teach me that it really is that simple to forgive and love without conditions.  You are beautiful Lucy Pearl McDowell, because you are exactly who God made you to be.  And that, is the beauty that takes my breath away.

So what does that mean?  It means that as the years go by, we will talk.  And talk, and talk, and talk.  About what beauty is, about what beauty means, about where beauty comes from.  You are beautiful because you were created in the image of our Creator.  And our Creator is beautiful.  And that beauty is in every single person.  That's what I want you to grow up knowing.

I've long since been blown away and moved by the beauty of God's creation.  And you my dear, are no exception. 

A few days ago I asked you, 'if you could do anything you wanted on your birthday, what would it be?'  I braced myself for your response, knowing I could easily regret the question.

You answered, 'I want to plant something.  I want to garden.  Pink flowers!  I want to get flowers.'

So we're going to go pick out some pink flowers and then play in the dirt.

And celebrate you.

Happy Birthday Love.