Hard

My husband is out of town for the third time in a month. We have had a lot going on and a lot to process and very little time to do so. And I have baseball all the days of my life.

I love baseball, I love watching my boys play baseball (most of the time), I love the game of baseball.

play-9photo courtesy of Christy Martin Photography

But this family…this family finds it center around a table. Where we can eat food that is good tasting and good for our bodies. Where we can give thanks to the one who gave us the day and the food. Where we can catch up, talk and listen, laugh and be. And be together.

We have not been around a table in awhile, and what we have been was rushed and messy not slow and thankful.

So we are just all out of sorts.

I had a bad mommy night. I yelled and was frustrated and short. Tears were shed, faces were sad, and I felt like a failure. Apologies and forgiveness are good, but they can’t undo the done.

I wanted to come downstairs, flop on the couch and medicate with social media. Trade my world for a world of hyperbole, passive aggressiveness, recipes and articles. Drown my sorrows in someone else’s.

But after a social media fast for lent, I’m a little more sensitive to my propensity for that. The ease of escaping my world. The refuge I run to that is no safe haven.  I try to escape the hard…

And I forget the hardness that is marriage, and children, and just LIFE, is meant to be.

Sometimes, maybe all the time, God’s grace is found in what’s hard. To push us further into Him, to remind us of our need for Him. To help us remember, WE CAN’T DO THIS ON OUR OWN.

Because every darn day I try to.

So I’m making muffins, and cleaning the kitchen. Because our center is the table. And maybe not dinner because, baseball. But maybe breakfast. With more apologies and grace. More listening, seeing and loving. Maybe dancing to this song.

And hopefully more seeing grace in the hard. Running to Him for strength. Because I…I can’t. Nor was I meant to.

Advertisements

Help My Unbelief

I spent the last week in my mother in laws home, (whom we lost 3 years ago) in which another woman now resides, waiting to hear news on the life or death of two precious women.

One was my husbands grandmother, whom I have been blessed to have in my life for over 12 years. The moment I met her, she took me in as her own. She introduced me as her granddaughter and loved me as that. I have been blessed by late night talks, pecan pie making, and potato salad training. I have watched her fight back from the verge of death, mourn the loss of her oldest daughter, hold her first great grandson, love selflessly, and beyond reason.

Her faith despite loosing 2 of her children long before their time astounded me. Her faithfulness and love in almost 60 years of marriage, was breathtakingly beautiful, often despite ugly circumstances. She was gracious and kind, and yet not afraid to tell it like it was. She loved family fiercely, even if you were a third cousin. Her astounding bowling and teaching abilities are the reason I won’t ever win a game against my husband or any member of his family. Any time we went some place, people knew her, especially Denny’s. Her role as a military wife left her friends internationally. Any where she went she was loved, and loved back.

She had been on her death bed for several months and we’d been pleading with The Lord to take her home, to relieve her suffering, and bring relief to caregivers. Mainly to grandpa, who was simultaneously undergoing chemo on his third fight with cancer.

Our prayer went seemingly unanswered for months.

While away, we got word that our beloved babysitter, and friend was involved in a freak bicycle accident which left her with a severe brain injury and grasping for life.

I had always joked with her that she was the child whisperer. She had such a gift with children…of all ages, that few can rival. They just flock to her, at church, the park…she had a special touch. My kids would literally count down the hours and minutes until her arrival. When I would break news of needing to go out unexpectedly, their first response was “is Miss Katie coming?” And as long as that answer was yes, all was well.

I have this inability to just see babysitters out, and Katie was not the exception. We’d stand in the foyer, and I’d get to hear about a boy Stephen, who was a friend, who was then something more, and grew into a great love. I’d listen to stories about her and her best friend Meagan and their adventures of moving in and living together, dogs and snowstorms. She tried to help me understand her love of Dr. Who, and My Little Pony. I loved hearing about her family…her incredible parents and their selfless love, her adoption story, hearing about how excited she was to become an aunt, how she and her little sister would sing Annie together, the love and joy she had as she talked about them spilled out to others, and you wanted to join in on the fun.

What always struck me most about Katie besides her joy, was her servants heart. Each Sunday I walked into church my daughter would joyfully bounce into her class because she knew Miss Katie was there. If she saw you trying to have a conversation amidst clamoring kiddos, she would without a word just scoop them up so you could talk. Every time she babysat, she would go above and beyond. I always came home to a cleaner house than I left it. She unloaded my dishwasher. Mamas get how big that is. She loved and served well, all in the name of Jesus.

We were pleading with The Lord for life and healing for this young, vibrant woman who had so much more life to give, and the prayers seemed to go unanswered.

We got news hours apart of both of theirs passing…one we begged for life, the other we pleaded for months for death, and the answer to both didn’t make sense.

What do you do with that? How do you have faith in times like these?

These are moments when faith and trust are shown for how deep they are. When the rubber hits the road. To be honest, this has revealed that mine is not where it should be. I have questioned, doubted, mentally shook my proverbial fist, and just been so exhausted and weary of this faith walk.

In the last four years we have lost four grandparents, a mom/mother-in-law, had two miscarriages, mourned and stood with many friends as they grieved similar losses. Not to mention the everyday losses and hurts you have to walk through. I’m tired of grieving, and trying to understand God or His purposes. How do you have faith and trust in someone when you feel hurt and betrayed by them? How do you not begin to doubt someone’s presence or goodness when you go so long without seeing evidence of it?

I’d be lying if there weren’t times in the midst of all the death when I just wanted to walk away and be done.

But what hope do I have in that? That it’s just the end, and it’s over? That there’s no answers, resolution, or hope? That maybe they’ll come back as a butterfly I can connect with?

The only way I have any hope that we will see our loved ones again, or that their death has purpose is if I have faith in Christ. That despite of my lack of understanding, or answered prayer, He has a plan and a purpose.

Some truths I’ve been reminding myself of recently:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55: 8-9

As much as what is happening may not make sense to me, or anyone else, God doesn’t think like we do. He makes decisions with the entire universe, knowing past and future, in mind. And I’m grateful. I don’t want to worship a God who I can figure out and understand all the time. If I can mentally wrestle Him down, then He must be finite and not holy and all knowing. I want to worship a God that’s bigger than my tiny mind can comprehend.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:26-28

I love this one. The Spirit is helping me, and praying for me. Even when I’m struggling and doubting, the Spirit is there, and pleading to God on my behalf.

I also love the sweet reminder, that even though this all seems too much, God is working it for good. These deaths and their timing were both for their good, and the good of those who loved them. I can’t comprehend this (default to prior verse), and it seems wrong, but I (try to) trust the author and creator, the all knowing, and all seeing God.

The temptation right now, is to want to be selfish. This is totally where I’ve been the last several days. I want to think of the loss that it is to me, to others, for everyone who knew these incredible women.

The call for followers of Christ is to be gospel minded. To be open handed, with the resources that we are given, with the responsibilities we have, titles we are endowed, and the people in our lives. Open handed with our kids, and the calling that God may have on their lives. Open handed with our family and friends and the place God may call them…even if it’s to His side. Leveraging all for Him. It’s easy to talk about sacrificing for Christ and the call He may have, but so much harder to live it out in true faith.

Today I grieve the loss of two cherished women. Life is duller without their joy and light. I don’t have answers on the when’s and why’s. My heart hurts and I am lacking in faith.

Just as the father cried out in Mark 9:24, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
>

Growing

I started a garden last week. A real one, not just playing with a few containers. This is a big deal for me. I’ve been making attempts at gardening and failing on different levels, for about 5 years now.

In this process, I have learned about growing things. I’ve also learned how closely related growing fruit and vegetables is to producing fruit in life.

Both of my grandmothers were excellent gardeners, but different types. One had the most beautiful flower gardens, the other had a cellar full of the vegetables she had grown and canned.

It seems to me, those whose flower gardens excel have a knack for detail and precision. They appreciate beauty, and tend to be a bit on the perfectionistic side. With flowers you can pick and prod, transplant and fertilize…you seem to have much more control with a flower garden. Flowers haven’t struggled much in my yard.

hydrangea

The biggest trait I’ve found in gardeners of the farming variety, is that they’ve learned to let go. They are relaxed, and trust that what will be, will be. Not that you have much of a choice when your sustenance is dependent on things completely out of your control. Farmers, even of the urban variety, seem to have learned that they are not in control.

I think this is why I’ve struggled with urban farming for so long. I wanted to be in control. I tried to plot and plan, mess and fiddle. Some died, others got rot, then there were the dang aphids. It was a stress to me, that I couldn’t control and fix it. Just like with most of life, I’ve learned that I need to be less focused on the result, and more focused on the process.

I used to hate getting dirt under my fingernails. I would try to wear gloves, which were always bulky and awkward on my munchkin hands. This year I embraced the dirt. I actually enjoyed the texture of it in my hands. It reminded me much of cooking, how you never get a real feel for a dough unless you just get in there with your hands. It’s about feeling your way to success. By feeling the dirt I had a better idea of what I needed to do for it.

gardening-2

After painstakingly filling dozens of little cups with dirt, plopping in teeny tiny seeds and shoveling on more dirt, I enjoyed the gurgle of the hose. Water that rinsed black from under my fingernails and seeped into the ground. Water that cleansed and refreshed. Water that would give life to possibility and potential.

I’m hoping that success in this season of gardening comes from hard fought for lessons in life. All my control and nitpicking doesn’t bring about fruit. The fruit will come when I do the work I’m capable of doing, and then step back and leave the rest up to the one who is capable of doing ALL things. It might flourish, or it may all rot and die, but either way, my messing won’t change what will be. And if my work doesn’t pay off, I’ll know it’s because it wasn’t the season for it. I won’t take failure personal, but will wait for the next season, and try again. Maybe in a different spot, with different seeds, more sun or water, but I won’t quit, I’ll keep pressing on.

We are a process, my garden and I. Both full of potential and hoping to bear much fruit.

Irish Soda Bread

I have lots of recipes I’ve been wanting to share with y’all. Lots of pictures I’ve taken, all ready to be typed up and posted up here for you to stick away and have, when needed. However, I’ve realized two things:

1. Blogging recipes takes a really long time.

2. I’m not a photographer.

So here is how this is going to go down. I want to share recipes. I don’t have time to set my camera to manual mode, stop every few moments while cooking or baking, snap away, adjust, snap some more, adjust angle and settings, snap some more, upload pictures to computer, edit said pictures and then upload large files to blog and finally write the recipe. Ain’t gonna happen.

What will actually happen, is me taking pictures on iPhone, edit pictures on iPhone (while in carpool line), email pictures to self and save to iPad. Type up blog and insert pictures while more than likely, sitting in carpool line, or at baseball practice. This is manageable. So that’s how it’s going to go down. Will my pictures be perfect and super high resolution? No. But they wouldn’t have been with all those other steps either. I think ultimately this will benefit both of us, my life is easier, you get more recipes. Done. And yes, I like Apple.

Onward. I’m generally not a big fluff holiday sort of person. I consider Valentine’s, Halloween, and St. Patrick’s Day in that category. However, we happen to be Irish. I mean, my last name is Kelly, my mother in laws maiden name is Kennedy, and there is a whole lot of red hair in the family. My side has a good bit of Irish too. So to me, St. Patrick’s day is about more than wearing green, it’s about heritage.

Since culture and food go hand in hand for me, every year I make an Irish meal. We have had corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, all things with Guinness, and this bread. Always, this bread. This year I’ll be making stew with Guinness and my Irish Car Bomb cupcakes (chocolate stout cupcakes with Bailey’s buttercream), and this bread.

20140314-111638.jpg

Technically speaking, this bread isn’t exactly Irish. But, I’m American, and aren’t we all about messing with other countries food? Besides, my changes make it really, really good. Plus I serve it with Kerrygold Irish butter, and that makes it all better. If you haven’t tried that stuff, you need to…it will change your bread eating life. You can buy it in bulk at Costco, which I do…because bread isn’t the same without it.

This recipe is super easy, mindless really. I love quick breads for that reason. The hardest part is cutting in the butter. I start with a pastry cutter to do this, but always switch to my hands. It does a better job, and I like the feel and texture of it. If you don’t mind dirtying extra dishes, you could use your food processor for this, it takes all of 30 seconds to pulse in the butter.

20140314-112455.jpg

I often don’t have buttermilk on hand, so instead, I use whole milk and fill it up just about a tablespoon from the top of the measuring cup, and add vinegar to fill it. Let it sit a bit and it will curdle and thicken the milk. Add the buttermilk into the dough and mix until just combined (if you go the food processor route be VERY carefully to not over mix it!). The more you mix it, the tougher the dough will be

Here’s the point where I take it a bit off track. I add currants and caraway. This is quite rare in Ireland. Even stateside, most people add raisins. I am a raisin hater, and I had currants laying around from this incredible bourbon currant sauce I make for bread pudding. If you don’t hate raisins, then add those, but the currants are worth a try! Mine were a little dry having sat in the pantry for awhile, so I soaked them in Irish whiskey and warm water for a bit while I whipped up the bread. Whiskey makes everything better, right?

20140314-113035.jpg

Mix in the currants and caraway until just incorporated and then shape it into a ball and place in a lightly greased cake pan.

20140314-113637.jpg

Get excited, and do a little happy dance, because you are less than an hour away from eating really fantastic bread. Unless you don’t dance over food, and the a maybe just smile a bit while I do the jig.

20140314-114926.jpg

After baking for 40 minutes, remove from over and let sit in pan for another 10 minutes. Do something to distract yourself. Do the dishes, check your email, take a walk. Then cut into this incredibly decadent loaf and slather it with butter. The sweet and salty in combination with the caraway….we already ate this loaf all in one sitting and I’m about ready to make up another one. In the name of St. Patrick of course.

Irish Soda Bread

adapted from Bon Apetit

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 TBS sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 TBS chilled butter cut up
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup currants
1 TBS caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 375. Spray cake pan with oil (Trader Joe’s makes spray coconut oil, which I use).

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter, or hands (or as mentioned above, food processor). Slowly add buttermilk and stir until just combined. Incorporate caraway and currants.

Shape into a ball and place into cake pan. Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake 40 minutes, then let rest in pan for another 10. Serve warm or room temperature, with Kerrygold Irish butter.

Lent

I am grateful for the season of lent approaching.

There has been lots of wandering, struggling, realizing hard truths in my life of late.  How fortuitous that the season of lent is upon us.  A time to fall in love with the good news of Christ all over again.  To let it wash over me afresh.

I need to give up to realize how much I need.  To know I can’t do any of it on my own.  To remember how much He gave up.  Lent allows us the space to do that.

The Village Churchs’ lenten guide has some great ideas for the season.  Instead of choosing one thing to give up for the 46 day period, you pick an area per week to focus on.  Food, social media and sleep are a few examples.  I like this approach because it allows me to see my dependency, and distraction in each area.

I also love the idea of feasting at the end of each week.  Such a beautiful reminder that in giving up, we get.  Where we surrender, we find our supply.  Where there is fasting, there will be feasting.  Our offerings are never enough, and yet in Him we always have abundance.

I need to get back to His heart, to the gospel.  I’m desperate for it.  It’s my only hope.  

I want to help teach my kids about breathing in His grace, to help them grasp the depths from which they’ve been pulled.  To rejoice in the resurrection.

Image

 

So we enter lent.  

I’ll be using a combination of this Lenten devotional for kids, this reading by Noel Piper that can be used each week during Lent or each day during Holy Week, this Lent guide and devotional from the Village Church that has a great guide for fasting each week, and  Ann Voskamp’s 17 day lenten guide along with her free prints to make an Easter tree. 

Some of these will be for personal use, others for the family.  With the age range we have, it’s nice to mix and match and have something simpler for the little and something more meaty for the big.  I’m trying to not overcomplicate it, so it doesn’t seem like a burden.

Lent is a season of remembering, not a time to earn our way into God’s graces.  

I hope if you’re not familiar with lent, that these resources can be an insight into a tradition centuries old.  That you can spend this season in thought about what Christ has done for you.  How he was tested over and over, tried and found faultless.  The perfect sacrifice, which He willingly gave Himself up as.  He let himself hang on a cross to pay the punishment we deserve.  Then, three days later He conquered death, and our sin and rose victorious!  That as long as I accept Jesus, want Jesus, submit to Him as King, all of my sin is paid for.  I don’t need to get my act together to come to Him, or work for years to make myself better, in this moment, with all my weaknesses, failures, shortcomings, and dirtiness, He loves me.  Accepts me. “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!”

I hope in this season, you will once more be captivated with the gospel!

How We Can “End It” in Our Everyday Lives?

Today is the day thousand wear red x’s on their hands, shirts, and hats to raise awareness that slavery still exists.

Our family has participated in this day several years running.  My kids know that slavery still exists, and that it’s happening in our country.  We support organizations that are a part of the end it movement.  I love the difference this day and movement has made in awareness of the issue.

ImageBut every year, my fear is that one day of social media blitz and flash and show will fade and people will forget in their everyday routines.  I’m sure I am not alone in this fear.

So now that we’ve gotten a foothold in awareness...how can we transition our knowledge into action?  I love the song Albertine by Brooke Fraser, and the line that says “now that I have seen, I am responsible”  We now know there is slavery.  We are responsible. So how do we actually end it?

First off, make sure you are fully informed.  That you have seen, eyes wide open to the atrocities that are occurring.  Don’t be naive.  Don’t stick your head in the sand. This is not an issue for other countries, this is happening in your backyard.  If you live in Georgia, this just happened.  Florida had this repulsiveness exposed.  The obscenities that occurred in New York around the Super Bowl are appalling.  Pick a state and you can find slavery.  

While we seem to be most informed about sex slavery, we also employ slaves in our daily lives.  From our electronics, to our food and our clothes, we have the ability to impact the slave trade with the choices we as a consumer make.  Here are a few areas you can be more informed about:

Your clothes.  This website is an incredible resource of information about brands and their manufacturing processes.  I loved being able to look up how some of my favorite brands were ranking in this, and was quite pleased to see some of my favorites like H&M and Gap scored B’s.  I know I will not be purchasing from Abercrombie and Fitch, Lacoste or Sketchers, and I will be looking into etsy variations of the princess dresses my daughter adores since Disney ain’t sitting so pretty either.  I look forward to using informed decision making in my voice as a consumer when it comes to the clothing items we purchase as a family.

Your chocolate.  Did you know that a preteen child is working over 80 hours a week without pay, enduring beating all to provide you with your chocolate?  Are you familiar with the companies that are the biggest offenders, and the ones that are taking action to stop this?  I know that our family will not be purchasing anything Hershey thanks to their blatant disregard of their involvement in slave labor.  This will be hard with Easter around the corner, and come next Halloween, but the voice of my dollar can help save a child being beaten at the expense of suburban kids to continuing their sugar high.

Your coffee. The coffee industry is one of the largest in slave employment.  After some research it looks like I will need to drastically scale back my trips to a certain coffee store (UK gets certified Fair Trade coffee, but not USA?!) that’s on every corner and change up my in store purchases as well.

Some other foods that are typically associated with slave labor are sugar, bananas, rice, and beef. You can purchase these items with a Fair trade Certified symbol on the front of them.  I buy my fair trade bananas at Whole Foods, rice, and sugar as well. I’ve seen fair trade coffee and sugar in most regular grocery stores. I purchase local, grass fed beef, which you can find at Whole Foods, and lots of co-ops near major cities.

Finally, and it disgusts me to say this, but pornography.  I could write for hours about the damage pornography does from creator to consumer, and all involved…not to mention society.  However I will try to keep my focus on how we can be a part of ending it.  The rise in pornography and sex slavery go hand in hand.  As pornography has increased so has the industry for sex slavery (see US Dept. of Justice article below for supporting statistics).  It is not an exaggeration to say by viewing, or purchasing pornography of any sort, you are contributing to sex slavery.  Especially when you consider that most of pornography is women and children forced into the act.  Watching a teenage girl be raped for your enjoyment is every bit of a participant in sex slavery.  Supply and demand, and if you view pornography you are creating the demand.  There is lots of research that verifies it’s addictive tendencies.  Get help.  It’s not ok, no matter how TV and movies may joke that it is. “Pornography rewires the male brain to become dependent on chemicals. This de- pendency is linked to negative perceptions, attitudes, and aggression toward women.” Shared Hope

 

Take time to visit this website.  It has you take a brief survey, and based off answers you input, gives you an idea of how many slaves you employ.  At the end it gives you the option to send notes to the companies affiliated with employing slaves.  If we are going to fight this, we need to do it with eyes wide open.  Know how your decisions impact the lives of others.  Know that where you put your dollar impacts others lives.  The difference of a few dollars in your grocery budget, or clothing budget can be one of the best monthly donations you can make.  Just as powerful as the organizations fighting slavery are our day to day choices of choosing to support and fight against modern day slavery.  Your voice, your dollar, and your actions matter.  Use them for good.

 

Further research:

Department of Labor’s list of goods produced by child and forced labor

Blood Diamond, the movie

The US Dept. of Justice National Strategy for child exploitation prevention

Nefarious, documentary

The Dark Side of Chocolate, documentary

Chosen, a documentary about sex slavery in America

How does your state rank in slavery laws, and how you can help

Beautiful

My daughter has been covered in prayer long before her conception.  She was longed for, prayed for, desired and adored. We had two miscarriages before she was conceived, one of which was on the way to my grandmothers funeral.   We are well aware what a beautiful and sacred gift life is.

Which is why she is told every day how beautiful she is, inside and outside.  We affirm that she is smart and beautiful, many times a day.  So imagine my surprise when my not yet three (at the time) daughter asked me out of the blue “am I beautiful?”

play-53
Photo: Christy Martin Photography

I quickly affirmed her yet again, “yes love, you are beautiful, and your heart is beautiful, and you are smart and funny…”  She seemed content with the answer, but I was not.  What was it in her, that despite being constantly affirmed of her beauty, caused her to doubt it?  Is it the curse of women to not be able to see our beauty?  To constantly question it?

Of course our culture communicates to us on a daily basis that unless we are 5’9 or taller weigh 120 pounds or less and impeccably dressed, we aren’t beautiful.  We go to the mall and the standard of beauty is wearing racy lingerie and posing provocatively.  In the grocery store line we see that unless we have an intense work out plan and aren’t back to pre-baby weight 3 months after having a baby we aren’t beautiful.  If we happen to turn our tv on, it is vacant of real women…everyone with their hair done and make up on, perfectly dressed and no one over a size 6. With everything around us communicating that we aren’t beautiful we have to fight to believe that we are.

I went to my sons school to take valentines cupcakes in.  Y’all, we had 4 snow days and the very first day back I spent almost the entire day at their school, that is sacrificial love!  While I was at lunch with my oldest, he decided he needed a second lunch, because boys really do eat you out of house and home.  While in the lunch line the lunch lady commented on how beautiful my daughter was and then said “just like her mom, you’re beautiful too” to which I retorted “as are you, you are beautiful!”  And she was, she was about 60 years old and was rocking the cutest pixie cut. The graying color of her hair brought out the pinkness in her lips, and the wrinkles around her eyes told of a face that at one point had smiled a lot, and she had the most clear and striking blue eyes.  And yet she denied it.  She denied her beauty, refused it.

How often do we do the same?  Our husband walks in and says we look beautiful and because we are wearing sweats and have no make up on, we deny we are beautiful.  When our friends tell us how good our hair looks we excuse it away, rejecting the idea of beauty being found in us.

My biggest fear is not just that we refuse to see our beauty, but that we have let society define beauty in our minds as well, and that we no longer see it in each other.  That we have become so accustomed to denying beauty in ourselves, we deny it in others.  

Maybe this is more important than seeing it in ourselves.  Maybe by starting to see beauty in each other, verbalizing it, confirming it, claiming it, we may simultaneously free the scales from our own eyes to see our beauty as well.  What if being a beauty seer, keeps me from being a beauty denier?

My husbands grandmother is dying.  She is like my own grandmother, and introduces me as her granddaughter, which I adore.  The legacy his grandparents are leaving is incredible.  They have lost two children, and yet praise the name of Jesus, they love their children, grandchildren and great-grand  children well and fiercely. While on the phone with grandpa (who is at the same time undergoing chemo for cancer) he was talking about what was going on, how she’s struggling with bed sores, is hardly awake, how he has to carry her to the bathroom, feed her, and in the midst of that, he broke down and said “she’s just so beautiful.”

I was so struck by the profoundness of it.  When most people would see no beauty, love sees beauty.  

I want to see like that, to live like that.  If we believe (I do) that we are created by a great and magnificent God, made in his image, than we have to believe that each person we meet has a bit of their creator in them, beauty.  I don’t think it’s enough to just believe it though, we need to practice  seeing it.

 

The seeing gives way to believing, for others and ourselves.

 

I want to look at the lunch lady and see the beauty of her laugh wrinkles, and servant hands.

Go to my sons’ room and watch his teacher laugh a big beautiful laugh that lights up her whole room, and see beauty.

At the grocery store, see the beauty in the worn hands of the checkout lady who serves her family well, in her face that glows as she talks about her daughter.

Observe the beauty of my friend as she graciously disciplines in love and grace, acting as Christ does with us.

Gather in community and watch heads thrown back in laughter, shy smiles and interaction, awkward interjections, new friends becoming old ones, conversation among sisters, and be overwhelmed at it’s beauty and sacredness.

To see stretch marks, a pouchy belly, mandatory support and incision marks as a reminder of life, and the body that grew and birthed it.

To see each wrinkle as a lesson life has taught, and wisdom born.

To see calloused feet as reminders of hard work that was done, and a body that enabled it.

Each gray hair as a reminder of a hardship overcome.

To see dirty and ragged fingernails as a reminder of the beauty of time spent playing and not in perfection.

To see dark circles as proof of motherly sacrifice loosing sleep while feeding, soothing, loving.

To see the twirling, dancing and singing of my daughter, and the beauty that she really believes she is a princess, just because her daddy told her so.

 

I want to see the beauty in others so that maybe I will be more believing of the beauty in me.  

I want to be a beauty seer, and not denier.

For myself, my daughter, my friends, my sisters, for women everywhere and for love.

 

Because love sees beauty, when it seems like there is none.