Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Happy, Happy 6 to my Sunshine

You, bug, are my sunshine.

From the moment you were born, you have brought sunshine into my life.

Smiles and silliness and the best giggles... and SUNSHINE.

You still love Ellie, and watermelon, and pizza, and your brothers.  You are sensitive and bossy and hate being the center of attention.  (When I had the waitress sing "Happy Birthday!" to you in the restaurant on Saturday, you hid under the table with your sweet, shy, beautiful smile.)

You love to make people happy, and absolutely can't stand the thought of anyone being disappointed in you.

You are obsessed... OBSESSED with school supplies.  In fact, the top two items on your birthday wish list?  Post-it notes and highlighters.

You are rocking Kindergarten like nobody's business.. earning sparkle sticks and Trojan golds and making friends and loving your teachers like they are your second mamas.  And getting to go to school with you everyday is just about the coolest thing.  Ever.  Especially on Fridays, when we have our weekly donuts-and-dancing parties.

You radiate such a sweet spirit, Cameron... you have such a kind heart - such a pure and innocent and timid yet brave soul.

You, my girl, are the one who made me a mama.  In your first breath of life, you allowed me to step into an entirely different chapter of love.  The kind of love that makes me feel like my heart is beating outside of my body.  Like the deepest part of my soul may explode.  Like I have to be the best version of myself with each passing moment, to make you proud of who I am.

In the six years since you were born, you have helped transform me into someone who I am proud to be - a mama who feels big and loves hard and believes in herself and in the beauty of each moment, both big and small.  I am someone who will always be able to look at you in those big brown eyes and feel proud of the example I am setting for you - as a lover of God, as a woman of faith, as a mama who does everything she can for the sake of her children... as a person who is loyal and faithful and sensitive and strong and brave.

And you know who has taught me the most about being brave?

YOU.

I have lived through some dark, hard moments.  Especially lately.  And you have been such a guiding light for me, such a source of strength.

I have seen the trace of a tear rolling down your cheek as you mustered up the strength to try something that made you nervous.  The quiver of your lip when you heard something that hurt your precious heart, but the nodding of your head when I told you it would all be okay.

You make me better.

You make me stronger.

You make me believe.

Believe in myself, believe in my heart, believe in my future.

Believe in the hope of tomorrow because of the promise of joy in your laughter.

I see so much of myself in you, Cameron Kate.  And yet I also strive to be more like you. 

I am humbled by the opportunity to be your mama.

I am PROUD to be your mama.

Today, I am nostalgic and emotional, but so happy to celebrate YOU.  My bug, my sunshine, my daughter, my mini-me, my girl.

Happy, happy SIX.

I love you to the moon and back and more than anything in this world.


~Mama

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Sunflowers

When I was a child, sunflowers were my favorite. 

My room was yellow with sunflower-adorned decor.

Just yesterday, I had three different, random encounters with pictures of sunflowers that made me catch my breath. I remembered in those moments how - as a child - big, beautiful, YELLOW sunflowers used to be my favorite. And I decided God was trying to speak to my heart.
 
And then... Y'ALL - last night I came home to a surprise delivery of the most beautiful bouquet of SUNFLOWERS. From a woman in my life who had no clue that sunflowers were now such a meaningful and symbolic part of my life.


GOD.IS.AMAZING. And He is with me. I am not alone, because of Him and because I have the most amazing family, and friends, and "framily."
...
"For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction..."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Seasons

Like most everyone else I know, I had dreams.

As a little girl, I had so many dreams for what my life would look like as I grew up...

Things I dreamed about for not only my life, but for my heart.  

For my future self - as a woman, as a wife, as a mother.

And, like most little girls, those dreams were tied up in a pretty bow, surrounded by a white picket fence.

And, to be honest, I got that white picket fence.

Literally.

The first home I ever purchased sat behind a white picket fence.  

On a street named Friendship Circle.
...

There have been many times in my life where I've felt surrounded by darkness, but - to be honest - most of my adult life has often felt too picture perfect.  Too happy.

In fact, I remember sitting in the hospital room after Brooks was born thinking - what did I do to deserve this?  This is way too good to be true...

Sure, I had my dark experiences with multiple pregnancy losses and a fight with secondary infertility.  But most seasons of my life have been sunny and sprinkled with love and safety and a heart so happy it often felt like it might explode.
...

I have recently had to realize that I was wrong, as a child, to dream up the life I wanted.  It was a mistake.  I never should have tied up my dream in a bow or surrounded it with a white picket fence.  Because while my hopeful, eternally positive self couldn't imagine it any other way, I was unrealistically imagining my life as one big "thing" - rather than what I now believe my life to be...

The coming and going of seasons.

My life has had many seasons since I was a child.  Seasons of rainbows, seasons of storms.  Seasons of hope, seasons of despair.  Seasons of fear, seasons of faith.  Seasons of introspection, seasons of exploration.  Seasons of selfishness, seasons of giving.

Through all of those seasons, I've remained true to who God created me to be.  The person who I believe I am:  someone who is overly optimistic and trusting; overly hopeful of sunshine-and-rainbows; someone who loves a plan and organization; someone who feels big and loves hard and is emotional and stubborn; someone who loves making people smile and is brave and committed and loyal and impulsive; and someone who is a feeler and an over-analyzer and too sensitive but so compassionate.

Sometimes the seasons of my life have challenged who I am to my core... but I have fought hard and will continue to fight to live my life being exactly who I am.  

Because I don't know how to be anyone else.  

And throughout my life, have there been days where I've been a better version of myself?  Or worse?  Absolutely.  But I am and always will be just me.  And the season of life I'm in right now is one in which I am learning that that is okay.   

That is enough.
...

I had dreams for my life.  And so many of those dreams were realized - in my career, in my passions, in my family, in my heart, in my home.

But dreams can come crashing down.  

Like the unexpected storm that hits in the middle of a perfectly sunny day... 

When you least expect it, life can fall apart.

And mine did.

Here I was, walking around so happy.  And that happiness was taken from me.  My smile was stolen.

In a single moment, the joy was sucked out of my heart.

In an instant, with the audible catching of my breath in the deepest part of my inner self, life as I knew it changed.  

Life as I loved it was gone.

I tried to find it again, I tried to get it back, I tried to hold on, I tried to white knuckle it through each day and focus on the hope of the sun and pray with all my might and use every bit of glue I had to fit the pieces back together and be brave and strong.

With all of my heart I tried.

But it was like I opened my eyes and realized my dream was over.  That I had woken up.  Woken up from a dream that was so good, so good

- but it had turned into a nightmare.

And so I woke up.

And as much as I wanted to lie in that bed for days hoping I could fall back asleep and fall back into the dream - the dream I still miss so much it is physically painful --

It's time for me to put two feet on the floor, and then put one foot in front of the other, and focus on the rising sun that promises to paint my world yellow again once this storm has passed.

A storm I didn't ask for... a storm I never saw coming.

But do we ever really ask for the storms?

Yes-- I am lost and I am scared and I am confused and I am broken.  

To be honest.... I am shattered.

But I am learning, day-by-day -- no, hour-by-hour -- that it is only this season of my life that is broken.

And I refuse to lose hope.  

I refuse to let go of my yellow.

I will pick up the broken pieces of my dreams, and I will use them to pave the way to new dreams - a new season.

A season of learning, once again, how to be brave and how to love with abandon.  A season of trusting a God who created me in His image, a God who never promised a pain-free life, but who does promise a beautiful life because of His love.

Seasons come and seasons go.  Dreams are born, dreams come true.. and sometimes, dreams are broken.  But if I can focus on living my life in seasons - I can survive the beauty and the pain and the chaos of it all... the rain and the sunshine and the falling leaves and the blooming promises of what tomorrow will bring.
...

Recently I have thought a lot about the defining moments of my life.  The celebrations and the losses, the births and the milestones, the most joyful, heart-bursting moments and the memories that still make me catch my breath deep down in the most painful ache of my heart.

And I am learning that I do not want moments, memories to outline my story.  I want who I am, who God created me to be, to define my life.  

I want to be able to choose what defines my life.

And I want my life to be defined by a brown-eyed girl with a heart of gold, a two-year-old stinker of a boy who has me wrapped around his finger, and a blonde-headed caboose whose giggle is pure sunshine.  I want my life to be defined by a faith that is so strong and a heart that loves God so big.  I want my life to be defined by dancing in the kitchen and singing at the top of my lungs in the car and long runs and eating the cookie dough and laughing with children and making my students believe they can do anything.  I want my life to be defined by back porch happy hours and selfless friendships and cupcakes and family.

I am learning about and accepting the seasons of my life.  The rainy, the sunny - the joyful, the troubling - the heartwarming, the heartbreaking.

But even when I am stuck in a season that is broken, and even when I am scared, and insecure, and defeated - I want my life to be defined by a heart that sustains, eyes that focus on the promise of a new day, and a spirit that can always, always find and choose joy. <3

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)