Tag Archives: grace

A Love Letter To Myself

With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, it’s a time of great love and even greater expectations. We all want to feel loved, cherished, adored, and noticed. Perhaps we wait with bated breath for someone else to tell us we’re worthy. Perhaps we feel a deep sense of disappointment and self doubt if we either don’t have someone to tell us how wonderful we are, or the person we hope for fails or forgets.

But what if we gave ourselves this gift of love we so desire? What if we took the radical step of seeing and appreciating all that we are and all that we do? It’s so hard to fully love others when we don’t really love ourselves. So maybe we start a revolution and become our own Valentines. Thanks Hallmark, but I’ll just save myself the postage.

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Hello Lovely,

I see you there with your radiant red hair blowing in the winter wind. I don’t care if it hasn’t been washed in days, it still looks gorgeous, as do you.

Let’s talk about your beauty for a second. You are truly beautiful. Your body has grown beauty inside of it, and though you may feel like its left you a little stretched and sagging, in reality you have become so full of the beauty your body has been holding and nurturing over the past four years. Your muscles show the signs of heavy lifting, not confined to the walls of a gym, but every day in every moment in the real world. Your face glows with the joy of living a purposeful life. Your eyes shine with, well, sleep deprivation, but also resilience.

But it’s not just that amazing body I adore, it’s the soul contained inside. You are working tirelessly everyday to better yourself. You’re never afraid to question your own ways and seek new solutions if something isn’t working in your life. I admire how you’ve come to embrace who you are and where you you are in life, yet continue to rise to the challenge of gaining greater knowledge, depth, and humanity. You balance on that tightrope between striving and settling, and on it you’ve found your happiness.

And darling, how the world sings when you let that happiness ring forth in laughter!

Your joy is contagious and I love watching it bloom into the brilliance that is your daughters. They are thriving and smiling and you don’t even realize the incredible role you play in forming them into the beings they are becoming. You pour onto those beautiful babies every ounce of kindness and care and compassion you can muster. And when you fail and yell, as you sometimes do, you embrace them with empathy and grant yourself grace instead of guilt. As you flounder through many moments of motherhood, I fall even more in love with you, knowing that you are learning and doing your best.

I see you. I see you doing the messy and mundane tasks of everyday life. The dishes and laundry and diapers and cooking. The things that so often go overlooked, but that provides the fuel that keeps your family going. I see you trying to be everything to everyone and still coming up short. I see you questioning whether you are being a good enough wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I see your doubt, and I embrace it all the more. Never doubt, my sweet, the mark that your small but meaningful efforts make.

Even when you feel like you’re failing, especially when you feel like you’re failing, I still love you, my dear. Always remember to hold yourself with the same grace and tenderness that you afford others.

I know you’re tired and spent, but I so admire how you summon the energy and courage to pursue your passion and write. You are learning amazing things with each new word and each new day. I am in awe of how you get up every morning, no matter how early the children wake you or how restless your night has been, and face each day with the potential and adventure it holds.

Keep trying, keep shining, keep showing up.

With Abundant Love,

Me

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Broken Kitchen Cabinets

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The day started with a cold and dark awakening. Eyes open before the sun even began to peak over the horizon. I was squeezed in bed between two tiny bodies with a chorus of echoing cries; my children’s needs already pressing in on me from both sides.

As I dragged myself out of bed and began the marathon of racing from one emergency to the next as two children needed something and everything all at once, I realized it was not going to be one of those days where I could embrace the joys of motherhood. The darkness of the early morning never truly yielded, but simply faded to a cold grey; a staple of an unrelenting Chicago winter. The weather settled in for the day, reflecting the mood of our household. Smiles were overshadowed by tears, laughter drowned out by screams.

I wasn’t able to be in a space of responding to the kids, thinking and processing with depth and compassion. There was no time for all of that on this dark day. I was merely reacting, attempting to put out fires before another cropped up.

The day wore on and the needs of my children continued to pummel me incessantly, an attack on all senses. The sound of deafening screams exhaled from tiny bodies. The feel of little hands endlessly grabbing for and lashing against my own body. The smell of diapers that needed changing and a house that needed a good scrub. The sight of tears and chaos all around.

One child finally went to sleep, the other awoke. No break. No space to breathe. It was all too much.

I set a crying baby on the floor surrounded by a pile of toys. Grabbing myself a glass of water, I shut the kitchen cabinet a bit too hard. The sharp thwack of wood hitting wood, the freedom of swinging my arm with all its strength felt strangely liberating. I opened the cabinet door and slammed it again. And again. And again. The kitchen cabinet graciously granted me five swings before it’s fifty year old hinges finally gave way. The solid maple door landed with a heavy thud on our hardwood floor. Then a moment of silence.

I looked up, stunned. Glancing out the window I saw our dog in the backyard staring back at me. She had heard the thud. “Are you okay?” her soulful eyes seemed to be asking me through the smears of our dirty door panes and my own tears. Was I?

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Sometimes motherhood feels like this. Heavier than a kitchen cabinet. Darker than a winter night. Harder than I ever could have imagined. Often it feels as if I, like that cabinet, am being slammed by needs over and over and over again. Sometimes I wonder if the hinges will hold me or if I, too, will break. And there are days where I find myself broken.

But I hold on. And I realize that broken can often be a passageway to better, rather than a permanent state of being in which I must reside.

I learn. I learn about limits, both my children’s and my own. I learn about grace, for what I have done and what I can’t do. And I learn about fixing, what needs to be repaired and what needs to be let go.

At the end of the day, even the worst days, comes help and hope. I lean into my need for help, whether it’s a hug or a listening ear or a hand with the kids. I hold onto the hope that tomorrow we can be a bit calmer, tomorrow will be a bit easier for all that we have learned today.

My husband came home and fixed the broken kitchen cabinet, skillfully refastening the door without question or judgement. Words weren’t necessary to know that he was there for me, believing in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself. His arms embraced me in the reassurance that even on my broken days, I’m doing okay.

Thoughts on Grace

This past weekend the world celebrated the annual spring awakening that the Easter holiday brings.  For many it was a joyous time to gather with friends and family, an excuse to indulge our sweet tooths, and a reason to break out our floral and pastel clothing.

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As with many things in life, in the hustle and bustle of it all, it’s easy to forget the real reason we do what we do.  For me, and fellow Christians, Easter means so much more than a day of colorful eggs and fluffy candy Peeps.  It is a rebirth, a renewal, and a reassurance that  all will be well through God.

Yet, I’m not here to profess the reasons why my beliefs and religion might be right for you – if you’re a Christian you already know, and if you’re not then there are plenty of other resources out there that delve into the faith.  I would, however, like to discuss a Christian-based concept that is near to my heart: grace.

You may notice that my blog name includes “graceful.”  This is not because I breeze through life with “simple elegance or refinement of movement” (as one definition of grace notes).  I am admittedly completely clumsy.  No, my passion for grace stems from the religious definition that Merriam-Webster states as, “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification” (which really just sounds like a bunch of big words to me).  So what then does that definition and the concept of grace actually mean?

To me it’s much simpler than the standard definition would imply.

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The long and short of grace, in my unprofessional opinion, is this:  The idea that we are all utterly flawed – from the murderer to the saint, we’re all human – and we screw up and “sin” time and time again throughout our earthly lives.  No matter how hard we may try to be “good,” we’re at some point (or many) going to fall short and be completely undeserving of love – whether it be others’ or most especially God’s.  Yet, despite all our grit and grime and gory humaness, God loves us greater than we can ever comprehend.  And there is nothing that we can do to earn or rebuke this love – it is wholly unconditional.

That idea of grace give me boundless hope.

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But I don’t think grace should be confined to the religious realm.  Though we’re human and naturally incapable of this level of Godly unconditional love and forgiveness, I think it is something that all people regardless of religious belief can (dare I say should) strive for.  Of course we’re going to fail, but that’s the point.

Imagine for a moment forgiving someone when you know they were wrong.  Imagine loving someone in spite of how horribly they may have treated you.  I’m not talking about letting someone walk all over you, rather just releasing that pain and anger from your heart and filling it instead with love and joy to pour out into the world.  For I believe there are no good or bad people in the world, but that all of us are some proportion of those characteristics – all equally in need of grace.

Of course don’t forget the person most in need of your grace – yourself.  Let go of the self-doubt and worry over your errors.  Learn from the mistakes of your past, accept that you will likely mess up again in the not-too-distant future, and choose to love and forgive yourself now.

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It’s a constant journey understanding, much less actually practicing, the concept of grace.  But that’s the kind of wandering I hope to do throughout my life – wandering filled with the love, joy and forgiveness that only grace can give.