You! Yes, you!

Today, I write with a heart filled with wonder at the soft, curvy, emotion-rich beauty that I see around me in the women I admire and call my friends.

This week, I have helped my oldest daughter prepare to move a few weeks before our big move, and part of our mission was for her to have a chance to hug the necks of the women we love.

As I spend moments with each of them and look at the faces of the ones who literally changed my every idea of what a woman should be, I am in awe.

At this moment in my life, I know examples of beauty that leave me in tears even as I write.  I don’t have words enough for the way they have proven to me how love embodies a human heart.  How God can change and reshape and use women to bind up, to help each other heal, to fill the gaps.  But I will try.  I owe them at least the effort.  Especially this week, when we are given a day to celebrate womanhood.

On Mother’s Day we hold high the position of a mother, but ever since the day that I was put in charge of ordering the number of carnations to hand out in church on this holiday, I find myself quite aware that mother or not, this heart I see, the heart of a woman, deserves recognition.  The unique strengths that women carry in our very fibers is where the beauty begins.  Even those not yet fully grown have a beauty that is precious and vital.

I would imagine that our Creator knew that though the man he made was capable of many great things, he would lack–there was a void.  So He reached into the part of Who He is that nurtures and pours out kindness and softness and added it into the mix for round two of human-making.

(Men, don’t you worry.  Father’s Day is not too far off and I might be inspired to write about how great round one was as well.)

Today, I hold high those who, with dignity and femininity, have risen to meet their life challengesapple blossom head-on.  Who have made the choice to love with abandon and have settled into what a woman was created to be with grace and humility and joy.  Who make those around them better just for the very presence in this world.  Who build up even if they came from a torn-down place.

I take my metaphorical hat off to each of you…

You, the woman awake all night praying for your children.

You, the single mom making every single end meet even when you don’t want to or feel like you have one single thing left to give.

You, the mom holding the sticky hands juggling several children in Meijer on your birthday.

You whose own mother did not show you love, yet you allowed a legacy of love to begin in and through you as you loved your babies.

You, the woman working all day and then coming home to make a home for those you love.

You, the mom who would give a limb for a half hour nap because you give until the tank is dry.

You, the woman holding everyone up emotionally when no one sees how much you could use a little holding yourself.

You, the woman taking care of the needs of folks who once took care of you–elderly parents and grandparents.

You who listens well to the hurts and words of those you love, somehow smiling with tears a heartbeat away–barely hanging on.

You the woman who would give anything to be a mom and the time isn’t just right quite yet–or maybe ever.

You, the woman who took in children of someone who had no business birthing a child, yet you love them, become their family, create for them a home, and make them your own.

You, the new mom who pours out every single bit of herself physically and emotionally–stretched to the very limits–and still selflessly gives and gives, day and night, into this new and precious little human.

You, whose children have grown and you find yourself in a brand new place in life;  yet, you choose to live a life of purpose and joy and come alongside those you love to build up and encourage.

You, the younger woman who is in the midst of finding who she is.  Who stands quietly strong in her convictions, poised and ready to rise to the unique challenge of womanhood.  

You, the mom who finds a way to feed hungry bellies from a few ingredients in the pantry, perhaps feeling a little hungrier yourself.

You, who teaches her children at your own cost of time and plans because it is simply what you were called to do…

You, the woman who holds the hands of a friend in tears and hears her heart and weeps with her and covers her in your prayers.

To you who has an inkling of hope that her efforts and sacrifice have import that is both eternal and exponential.  Be assured.  It is. They are.  You–you are the safe and soft place to fall for those you love.  You are the steady that keeps lives around you in forward and fluid motion.  You are strong and graceful, capable and a precious expression of the heart of God.

And well worth celebrating.

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All By Myself…

By the time you read this, it’ll be over.  Life will be back to normal.  What follows was written last week:

As a family, we try not to publicize via the interwebs when we travel.  Somehow, telling the world my house will be empty doesn’t rank high on my list of wise ideas.

This time, however, my house will not be empty.  It will be a party of ONE.  For the first time EVER, yours truly is having days to herself.  EVER, people.  For several reasons that I won’t bother mentioning, my family is going without me to Florida.  Yup, they are leaving Miss Sunshine herself at home alone in a snowstorm.  And, oddly, she is blissfully happy.

Since the days where I required supervision, I have fed people all day every day.  Every single day, I have cleaned up after,  made plans for, and worried about everyone here that I love to clean up after (okay–that’s not really true), make plans for, and worry about.  I do love it.  Don’t get me wrong.

But time alone?  IN MY HOUSE????  By myself??? jumping

I’m kinda excited. But, you may have caught that.

I have big plans that add up to this many.   ZERO.  NADA.  ZILCH.

I’m not really telling anyone I’m alone.  I don’t want to have lunch or go shopping or visit.  I want to lay around and pick my own movies to watch and my own food to eat.

And the snowstorm just kinda forces me to stay put.  Since I won’t be going out, I won’t even have to worry about what underwear the emergency room guys could possibly see me in so that won’t be a big decision every day.

(Yes, I do think about that every single morning.  Can you imagine? “Oh, my.  This poor woman only has these old comfy undies and no cute ones.”  You worry about this, too, right?)

I might not even shave my legs.  Pure rebellion right there.  Heck, I might even grow my Tom.  (That’s a nod both to Liz Lemon and Tom Selleck.  You figure it out.)

I’m gonna eat all the salad and avocados, garlic and BEANS that I want to and no one can stop me or beg for MEAT, or complain about the after-effects of said beans and garlic!  Livin’ large!  

I might read several books–IN THE BATHTUB!!!  And no one will interrupt the ending!

Celine Dion and I might belt out some tunes very loudly–in the LIVING ROOM!

I’m gonna stretch right out in my king-sized bed and sleep until I wake up.  No shoulds or ought tos  calling my name.

And, I’m thinking about two days into my revelry, I’m gonna desperately wish someone would give me a hug, or need some advice, or watch a movie with me.   I’ll have no one to wake up with me on Saturday morning and drink a cup of coffee with while we play a game.  No one to say, “What do you want to do today?”  No one to notice my great hair day (which I’ll inevitably have when no one’s looking).  No one to brighten my day with a smile and an “I love you, Momma!”

And when they come home, I will RUN, I know I will, to the ones who make my life the fantastic life it is.  These folks are worth every single bit of all that I have to offer. Bottom line, they are what matters.

But, in the meantime, I plan to thoroughly enjoy missing them like crazy.

Epilogue:

What I’ve learned.

Too many rice krispy treats can scratch your mouth all up.  Never knew that because I limited myself to the amount that you can eat and still be fair to everyone else.  Now I know.

I am never alone.  First of all, I have these silly, ridiculously high-maintenance pets that have kept me hopping by peeing the bed and other such nonsense.  Miss Scratch-A-Lot, our little allergy dog, requires a 24 hour watch patrol so she doesn’t scratch herself bloody.  Hard to feel bored with this one around!  I did rename all the pets while the family was gone.  That was kinda fun.  It’s kind of a fresh start for everyone!

Plus, I am texting so much to my people that aren’t in this house that I don’t have time to really miss them.  We really don’t do well without each other.  I really, really love that.  My thumbs…not so much.

I cook just as much without them here!  I really did buy myself all veggies with the exception of a bit of chicken and some gelato.  But, I guess I just enjoy creating good food too much to really stop.  Which makes dishes.  Darn.  This really isn’t a vacation.  Still chores to do–just fewer plates.

Life is about the people I love all around me.  Without them, what’s the point?  And I feel gratified in the deepest part of me that these folks of mine MISSED me!!  They genuinely missed my presence.  They even bought me gifts!  They said it wasn’t the same without me.  I must be doing something right.  Welcome home, family.

Same time next year?