When Easter Doesn’t Feel All That Holy

easter

Two weeks before Easter, Grandma generously surprises us with a bag of dresses, all butterflies and flutter flowers in aqua and blue. The girls try them on the next morning and refuse to take them off, dancing like fairies to Stevie Wonder while the rain mixes with snow outside our farmhouse windows.

Later I sit down with my bible during the twins’ afternoon nap and think, Easter. I should read about Easter. I end up somewhere in Matthew 5 instead, reading through the beatitudes and trying not to yawn.

A week before Easter, I go through the drawers and bins, hunting for tights and sweaters and shoes. (Yes, that’s Midwestern snow in the background, thank you very much.) Nothing works. The sweaters are stained. The eldest has a bin full of neon tennies and worn out boots. The tights all say 6-9 months.

Somehow, our preparation for Easter keeps running that track. Clothes. Shoes. A nap instead of contemplation. Suitcases. Car repairs. All things irrelevant to the story of a man on a cross, a body gone missing, an angel in a garden.  

We pack the van and drive six hours across Minnesota and down into South Dakota to the farm where I grew up. We are immediately welcomed by family, activity, food. The next morning, the girls follow Grandpa across the yard, bounding like eager puppies. They relive my childhood of feeding livestock, petting cats, begging for tractor rides.

feeding cows

I stand by the kitchen window, coffee in hand, witnessing this ordinary, extraordinary grace.

But later, the girls are tired and owlish, and we abandon the idea of going to an evening Good Friday service. My brothers and their families come over instead, and we eat dinner out of a giant skillet, talk, laugh, wrestle children into pajamas.

There’s celebration in this. I know there is. We extend grace to one another when the table never gets set and we eat chips out of the bag. Fellowship is washing the dishes together, snapping towels, telling stories.

It’s not the usual, contemplative celebration of the body and the bread, and maybe that’s okay.

The hard part is this: the holiness of Easter is not where I used to find it, sitting quiet in the pew of a small country church, and I don’t know how to feel it here, lying on the living room floor with a shrieking toddler jumping on my legs and the TV droning in the background.

***

I’ve always craved the holy bits and pieces of things. You know, the proverbial moments when the music swells, the lights dim, and sacred swirls around, unmistakable. The candles at dinner. That split second when everyone is laughing all at the same time and the sun is setting and the world glows in hazy, golden twilight. Moments when everything comes together, holy, unmistakably divine.

You too? Good. Welcome to the fold.

Here’s the problem. I’m also a parent. And as a parent, I find that holiness is not in the vocabulary of my very young children. Quiet times are interrupted by fights over a toy. Church gets skipped when the girls don’t sleep well, or refuse to stay with anyone but mama. Early mornings are cut short; books I’m reading go lost under the couch.

Too often, the moment I’m craving slips by, an unacknowledged guest at the wedding.

I can’t help but think that something’s wrong here.  Maybe you’ve felt it too. Maybe you’ve nursed your way through countless different services instead of listening to the message. Maybe you were relegated to the kids’ table after your toddler spilled her third glass of milk. Maybe you skipped church for months at a time because of traveling soccer. Or maybe church was never part of your vocabulary to begin with, but you still feel this draw, this quiet calling out.

The reality I’m learning, and relearning, is this: we can’t always rely on a church, or a moment, to hand us our portion of desired holiness on a silver platter.

What if having “unchurchy” moments forces us to create our own definition, a definition that says it is not the when, the where, or the artifice of stained glass that allows us to contemplate and celebrate the mystery and miracle of our faith?

What if our new definition gives us the freedom to do it when we can? Where we can? With whomever we can?

What if, instead of manufactured moments, we sought connection with God himself?

***

This is how I ended up celebrating Jesus’ resurrection by myself the Monday after Easter, while the laundry thumped around in the dryer. I finally had a second to breathe. My eldest was in preschool, and the twins were napping. So I dug around in the fridge and pulled out some naan (the closest thing I could find to unleavened bread besides teddy grahams) and filled a little cordial glass with juice.

I leaned on the counter, and I read the story of the Last Supper. This, my body, broken. This, my blood, spilled out. I took makeshift communion. I prayed. I looked out the window at the brown of spring struggling to unfold in the northern climes of Minnesota and breathed a simple, heart-felt thank you that had nothing to do with eggs and candy and hair bows and coordinating shoes.

It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t choreographed or particularly inspired.

But it was space in the ordinary to recognize the sacred. It was searching out God himself, laying my simple gratitude at his nail-scarred feet.

Midday, barefoot, holy.

 

Friends, do you have ideas for drawing yourself, and/or your kids into unconventional celebrations of holy moments? Leave me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear how you balance the two!

The House that Love Built

IMG_8049

This is the house. This is the house that love built. Love with all its empty Kleenex boxes and sticky door handles. Love with its scratched table and worn chairs and smudgy windows.  Love with half of a gallon of milk left in the refrigerator and no clean sippee cups.

This is the house for a mama and daddy and three small girls, and even if the arrangement of that shifts from time to time, it is still their home. The wooden floors carry the prints of their toes. The banister bears layer after layer of fingerprinting. The house itself is a failed crime scene – DNA everywhere. Everyone is to blame.

Everyone in this house blames love, and then rolls over laughing. There may be shouting one moment, and hugs the next. Love is a messy creature here, a golden retriever wet with rain, shake, shake, shaking, and the rain becomes blessing and falls like holy water over the whole of the works.

Nothing works in this house. The attempts at air-conditioning, for one. Order, for two. The silverware drawer latch for three. Someday it will all come crashing down, hot and humid, forks and spoons and knives everywhere, silver strewn across the black and white patchwork linoleum, and we will curse under our breath for sake of the girls and warn them, sternly, not to yank on the drawers. Again.

Again happens a lot. This is something we’re still getting used to. Parenting. Over. And Over. The same lessons patiently coming out of our mouths, slightly bitter after months of repetition. Be polite. But not just to be polite. Be kind. Respectful. Respectful means to listen with love. Start with listening. Please.

The littlest ones still say please without the p. Eeease. Eeease. Mulk, eeeese. We smile to ourselves, starting the game all over again. It’s important to be polite. Say please. Just. Say. Please. It’s hard to admit it feels rote.

But rote is routine, and routine is the lifeblood of this house. Routine is safe and healthy and puts everyone quietly in their beds by eight o’clock pm. Routine allows us to clean the kitchen one more time for the day, nesting the pans, wiping the counters. Routine is space, precious small though it may be.

Even routine startles at the computer when little feet shuffle down the stairs, blinking in the dark of the house. It holds loose hands with the four-year-old, ushering her to the bathroom, then carrying her back upstairs, a summer blonde head heavy on the collarbone.

All of this could feel heavy. The imperfect house, the rearranged parents, the sleepless child. Some toy hard and sharp underfoot. Something we kick away because it doesn’t belong in our path. Goodnight, nuisance.

Goodnight. Good morning. Move on. Move on because heaviness is something we are accustomed to, and weight is just something else in our arms. All of these hearts to carry. All of this love.

Battling Enough

IMG_7677 (1024x683)

This view was pretty 5 months ago. Now it’s just cold.

This week, writing has been like piecing together a busted skeleton. I keep typing, searching out the bones of my experiences but never finding the joints. Nothing comes together. Meanwhile, it snowed. Again.

And here it is. Friday. The four days behind me look like some sort of bipolar episode – incredibly bad rebounding to deliciously good. The computer screen can’t make sense of it, and for the record, either can I.

I wanted to write about Lent, and how even though last year I had an epiphany about giving up ANGER instead of sugar, this year I haven’t managed to do more than remember to pray every morning before I slog my way out of bed. The post I started got deleted (guess who) before I had a chance to publish it, and I was too tired to attempt a rewrite.

IMG_7697 (1024x683)

Duck face. It’s still a thing.

I wanted to point you towards my writing group compatriot Addie Zierman’s blogging trip to Armenia for World Vision, and how she’s quietly, perfectly capturing what need looks like.

I wanted you to see the beautiful, laughing pile of girls that gathered in my house to make wantons and nachos and talk about the best and worst parts of their days. How they filled the room with life and grace and ideas, and how, even though my co-leader Brittany and I are supposed to be guiding them, they are the ones showing me a deeper understanding of heart. 

I wanted you to commiserate with me about spring cleaning when it looks nothing like spring, and how clean is a relative term when three little bodies are doing their best to destroy any sense of order I’m attempting to create.

I wanted to do everything I could to stay away from what I’ve really been afraid of, because it’s not clean, or trendy, and it doesn’t look good on Instagram.

But if I take a deep breath and really get down inside everything I wrote this week, the underlying story line is that my feelings of inadequacy come dangerously close to ruining me, over and over. 

Everything I did this week was tainted with insecurity – spiritual failure to find a Lenten practice, parental inability to keep calm, writer’s frustration and envy that others seem to do so much with their words while I struggle to write a six hundred word blog post every week or two.

In short, not enough.

I thought, by now, in my 30’s, I’d be done with this. But it is work. It is constant, demanding work to refocus my thoughts and beat back the voices that tell me I’m not good enough at this, great enough at that, pretty enough for this, thin enough for that, smart enough for this, capable enough for that.

More often, I fail. And yell. And berate myself. And binge on homemade brownies. I start wanting to quit.

And yet somehow, God has the patience to put His finger under my chin, tilting my head up toward the mountains I can’t see, the help I don’t feel.

He’s there. Maker. Creator. Author. Perfector.

Finisher.

He’s not done yet. Either am I.

——————

Friends, what are you best tactics for fighting insecurity? Can we make a running list and encourage one another?

When creativity goes missing

IMG_7177Forgive me for being quiet lately.

My creative process packed a rucksack and went whistling away down December’s open road.

It hasn’t yet come wandering back. And now I’m on a mission to find it.

This is easier said than done. With three small girls at home with me during the day, the needs are endless. Someone is hungry. There are booster trays to wash, and sink traps clogged with tiny trees of broccoli. There are miniature fights to break up. Frowns to tickle out. Books to be read.

Every day, creative ideas form and cluster like soap bubbles. And then I look at the clock. And my to-do list. And back to the clock.

Someone <skips a nap><cuts a molar><scribbles on the computer screen with permanent marker>. The soap bubble idea pops.

Everything falls in a swirl down the drain.

***

One of the authors I studied in grad school was a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ($5 if you can pronounce that) who says, “Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous: They all love what they do.”

I fell into a slump after Christmas. The house felt claustrophobic and close – newly gifted items didn’t fit into my already less-than-perfect organization scheme. Suitcases from coming and going needed to be unpacked. Everything needed attention.

Finally, I gave in and spent two weeks using my free time (a precious commodity) doing things I didn’t necessarily love. I organized. I laundered. I folded. I scrubbed. I purged. I went to bed strangely stressed, and woke up tired even after eight hours of solid sleep.

I had no idea something was wrong until the night I put the girls to bed, kissed my husband, and went to worship team practice at my church. For the next hour and half, I banged out chords on that big black grand piano. I sang. Slowly, I fell out myself and into Grace.

Leaving the building that night, I felt lighter. It occurred to me that singing was the only thing I’d done in two weeks that was for sheer enjoyment.

Not because I had to. Not because I needed to. Because I wanted to.

Just then, I saw my creative process waving in the distance.

Deep breath. Right.

***

The last couple of weeks have been a study in balance, and slowly but surely, I can see my creativity levels start to build.

I’m baking bread. I’m making up stories for the girls. I’m going to the gym with a regularity that surprises even me. Today I’m sitting down at the computer, wading through the rhythm of putting words the page.

They aren’t perfect. They don’t have to be. I’m happily lost in my craft, and that’s the point. When I’m doing the things I love, I’m a better, kinder, more expansive version of myself.

Friend, if you’ve somehow found yourself in a similar creative slump, please take a deep breath. Ignore the overflowing laundry basket, put in a pizza, and schedule a block of time to get out and do something you love.

Let it overtake you. Change you. Give you new ideas. Your creativity is the truest expression of who you are. Don’t let it get away.

Confession: I don’t get “mommy wars”

I read a lot of blog posts and articles about “mommy wars.” To be honest, I never really understand. Maybe it’s because I have two feet firmly planted in the passive aggressive soil of the Midwest, where most mothers would rather get the chicken pox again than have a confrontation involving breasts.

Or maybe it’s because the mommy war I’m most familiar with is an inside job. Top secret. One I don’t like to talk about much because it’s a little too personal.

It’s the war of feeling lesser than.

Lesser than strangers. Than friends. Than parents. Siblings. Even a former self.

Last week I wrote about the beauty of social media and its ability to connect us. What I didn’t write about were the times I put down my phone feeling tired, unequal, upset that my situation was a whole lot messier than the coordinated scene that just lit up my screen. Why?

Because lesser than jumps over our mama war arguments of bottles and organic cotton. It sprints past our comparisons on hair bows and sporty yoga threads and designer toddler mocs.

Lesser than settles in our spirits.

Lesser than deceives us into being a half-a$% person because we can’t do it better than X, prettier than Y, tastier than Z.

Lesser than is the great incapacitator. And when we allow that mindset into our day, we stop trying. Stop being our unique and beautiful selves. Stop becoming anything. Harboring these feelings of inequality does more damage than any mommy war over organic snacks ever could.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think anyone has time to deal with it. The business of living out our vocations to the best of our abilities has nothing to do with how someone else could do it differently. For better or for worse, our lives (and the people in them) are entrusted to us.

Thankfully, that doesn’t mean we’re going at it alone.

The New Testament book of Ephesians says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

057There’s a whole element of the supernatural going on here. I’m honestly reeling as I type. Does this mean God has already prepared the people, the work, the elements of my life for me before I even go into my day?

If so, shouldn’t I feel that much more empowered to approach them with grace and peace, knowing that my life, specifically, has been handmade for me – tailored for my abilities?

There is no room for lesser than here. There’s only the confidence to live my daily life above the arguments. The comparisons. The spirit crushers.

Today, I’m going into my morning knowing that the work that’s before me, from tea parties to flashcards with my girls, has already been planned. And friend, whether you’re holding a tired baby, kissing a sick spouse, plunking away at a work project, or making mac and cheese for the hundredth time this month, I hope you do the same.

Why Your Mama Blog Matters

I have a confession. Lately, I struggle with blogging. It’s harder and harder to find pockets of time to write, and when I do, I find that a little bit of the party is over. We made it through pregnancy, we survived the first year with 3 under 2, and now…

Now we raise. All the adorable matching outfits are tucked away in a bin. Mismatched play clothes with mud and grass stains dominate the drawers. Every day I dance around keeping enough activities going to leave the TV off. Some days we win. Some, we lose.

And suddenly I find myself in a sea of mamas just like me, trying to do the best for their kids and trying to write about it once in a while, because writing makes sense.

Literally.

Writing helps us sort through what it means to give up one version of ourselves and take on another. Writing makes us speak in full sentences. Writing is a way to process all the broken pieces of the day and remind ourselves of their whole.

I read two very different blog posts this week. One was an open letter To Moms With Kids Under 5: This is Our Time. The other was Dear Stay at Home Moms, Please Shut Up.

One redirected my day, making me take stock of the special moments I usually want to pass up because I have a dishwasher to unload or two bottoms that need changing immediately. It calmed me at 4:00 am this morning when my daughter woke up because she had the snorts and just wanted to snuggle.

The other made me insecure. I thought of all the times I sat down with my friends in some sort of harried, exhausted state, gushing out my parenting struggles like a broken toilet. Was I now the annoying stay at home mom boop booping her minivan fob, looking all privileged and disheveled in sunglasses and stretch pants?

Both posts made me realize the importance of words. Words that matter.

Because they do. Your words. My words. All of us coming unraveled, untangled as we stare at our thoughts on the screen and wind them back into stories.

But it’s how we choose to re-spin and wind our experiences that matters most. When I’m stealing a few minutes in the bathroom, reading your blog posts or your articles on parenting, you have the power to leave me encouraged or disheartened.

As a writer, as a parent, as a person, what would you rather read?

Whenever I can, I seek out words that make me want to have and extend grace. Grace that is greater than all my shortcomings and frustrations.

So please keep writing. Processing. Sharing your heart for your kids, your frustrations in the day to day. Do it with love. Do it in a way that makes me see the shine under the layers of dirt, the silver hiding behind tarnish.

Why? Because I’m here, reading. Listening to your ideas. Tasting your recipes. Trying your method for getting your kid to eat peas. When I hear that you’ve succeeded, I find a little hope. When I hear that you’ve failed, I know I’m not alone.

That’s the beauty of our social media networked lives. I may not know you beyond the words you put on the page, and vice versa. But through those words, we come together. We share a minute or two of pausing in the busy of our days, and when we’re done, we are re-energized.

Somehow, brighter.

Here at the farm, we have a few favorite g-words. Grace. Gratitude. God. Gruyere. If this is the first time we’ve met, consider yourself hugged. Really, for real, hugged. I hope you’ll join in the conversation and come back again soon!

Two months ago, I asked God for a mentor. His response was one I didn’t expect. Start a mentoring program at your church.

I was torn. The idea was strong, but so was my understanding of my own shortfalls. I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m scattered. Loose. Willing, but not necessarily able all the time.

God said that was okay. God said He had able covered.

So I took a deep breath, and one Sunday after church, I shared my idea with our pastor’s wife, Linda. She lit up. Yes, she said. We should do this.

I hammered out a framework late one night when the girls were in bed. Linda and I met for lunch. Yes, she said again. You’re on the right track. She gave me a mentoring how-to book. I read it, and got overwhelmed.

I wanted this to be simple, I told my husband. So keep it simple, he said, and kissed my forehead.

018 (661x800)Simple worked. Sign-up sheets went up at church. Names were collected. Surveys sent. Matched prayed for, and made.

Then another hurdle. Put together a training session. Lead it. I felt a little like Moses. Me God? I’m about as qualified as a snail.

I said something similar to Linda and to Jan, a pillar in our church’s women’s ministry. God will anoint you. Just watch. He’ll show up, said Jan.

Somehow, that was comforting. Anoint sounded foreign, but I knew what it meant to show up. I also know God does that. He shows up. And often, all I have to do is ask.

I asked. I prayed in tired, run-on sentences on Saturday night as I made labels and stuffed folders. It felt a little like my former job prepping for Board meetings, and suddenly, I woke up. I was gathering. Preparing. Listing and checking. Saving files and wrapping up all the details I could remember.

Give me the right words. Clear ideas.

And suddenly it was Sunday afternoon, and there they were. The names from the list turned into real live women, and I got excited. This was happening.

017 (800x518)The next two hours were a blur. I spoke the things that had been in my heart – things that made sense to me in the context of mentoring and being mentored. I talked about Naomi and Ruth, and respect and expectations and willingness. Jan read a letter from Linda, who couldn’t be there. We all went into sugar bliss from the outpouring of homemade treats. I sat down with my own amazing mentor, and felt a light click on in both our spirits.

At the end, I watched two women talking and laughing in the parking lot. Around them, the late September wind was warm and dry, and every angle of the landscape reverberated orange and red and yellow.

I know it sounds weird to say, but I tangibly felt their happiness. It was as if the space itself around them was alive and full of connection.

It brings to mind the chorus from Channels Only, a ridiculously old hymn that comes to me sometimes, as songs from growing up in a small country church are apt to do.

Channels only
Blessed Master
But with all Thy wondrous power

moving through us
thou canst use us
every day and every hour.

This was never about me. This was about a group of women who all felt the same way I did, and simply needed a pair of hands and a voice to connect them. Channels only.

When kindness makes a difference

downloadBecause the refrigerator shelves were empty.

Because there would be seven extra mouths to feed.

Because there must always be bananas and cheese to make my world go round.

Because there was a new Aldi in Forest Lake.

Because Aldi is like crack for the cheap grocery maven.

Because there are double seated carts.

Because I have two babies and a three year old.

Because the three year old has laughing blue eyes, and is the very definition of mischievous.

Because gum.

Because we needed fruit, and bread, and things to make the guests feel at home.

Because the cart was close to overflowing.

Because the babies started shrieking.

Because big sister had to use the bathroom.

Because twice. In five minutes.

Because tandem screams in tiled hallways are louder.

Because we had to leave before the entire store gave us the evil eye.

Because we unloaded the cart, item by item.

Because I reached for my debit card, only to find it missing.

Because Aldi doesn’t take credit cards. Or checks.

Because I stood still, calculating my losses in terms of time, card, groceries, naps.

Because there were four people in line behind me.

Because one was an angel.

Because she had mercy in her wallet and it paid for my groceries.

Because I wrote her a check with shaky, grateful hands.

Because she asked if I needed any extra help.

Because that question is like chocolate ice cream in August.

Because we loaded up the groceries in canvas bags.

Because I buckled in my girls, then searched the van for my missing card.

Because I wanted a piece of gum.

Because there was my card, tucked behind the spearmint.

Because a mischievous someone proclaimed that it FIT!

Because grace has to laugh instead of cry.

Because Love is always on the lookout for those in need.

Because God, rich in mercy, first loved us.

Just Because.

Romance vs. Reality – how we *almost* got a dog

Some people test drive cars. This weekend, we test drove having a dog.

I’ve wanted a dog since we got married. I have stubborn, animal-loving streak in me (horse girl alert) and for some reason, our farm-yard seems a little IMG_4155 (800x533)empty without a furry caretaker.

But we have this problem. Well, ten problems to be exact.

The chickens.

Don’t get me wrong. I love our chickens. I love fresh eggs and bright yellow yolks. But apparently dogs and chickens tend to be incompatible unless there’s some significant training going on.

A normal person would get a puppy. But I have to admit that A. I don’t know anything about puppy training, B. I’m not particularly patient enough for puppy training, and C. I don’t have consistent time to commit to puppy training.

I thought the answer was getting a dog in the middle of his puppyhood– one that had been given a head start so that we could just come in, finish the job. Enter, Snoopie.

Snoopie was a beautiful guy – a seven month old goldendoodle newfoundland (breeder’s oops, I’m assuming) with long lines and an easygoing disposition. He was medium-sized, black and white, and loved people.

Sigh. Turns out, he also loved chasing our chickens.  And barking. There were also the mammoth-sized piles of waste, and the constant attempts to get in the house. And then this: the realization that I’m more in love with the idea of having a dog than I am with the actual logistics of keeping one.

You know. The romance of an idea vs. the actuality of it.

Because it seems so easy. The beautiful, well-behaved dog. The woman in high-heeled shoes. The basketball player’s arching jump shot. Never mind the hours of training. The years of callouses. The thousands of shots that bounced off the rim.

Romance is not reality. Reality is hard work. Reality is hard-won. And gracefulness is realizing you’re not in a place to put in the time.

No anger. No bitterness. No need to keep wanting something that’s not possible right now.

I know it’s much more trendy to tell people to chase their dreams, reach for the stars, all that business. But what about the times when that’s just not possible? What about the days, months, years when we have to wait?

What about the desires that have to be patiently brought back to bed, time after time, until they finally fall asleep?

What can we learn from knowing our limitations, instead of cursing them?

Snoopie went back home to his family last night. It was a quiet ride, me second-guessing myself, my ability to commit to things. Afterwards, I stopped on the way home for Chinese food. I listened to someone else bang pots around in the kitchen. I let someone else take my plate.

The night air was full of haze and dew when I left. I was tired, but content. The decision to return the dog was the right one. The reality of my life doesn’t leave me with time for extra right now.

To everything a season.

Letter to my little girls

IMG_3920 (800x533)Dear daughters,

You are the chocolate in my cake and the butter on my bread.

You are a month away from turning 1 and 3, constantly changing, growing, moving, speaking, thinking.

Your milestones are built on routine and care.

You are full of glory, made in the image of God.

You are full of wind and frustration.

You reach and still can’t get things. You speak and we correct your speech. You climb and we pull you down.

You are still figuring out where the boundary lines are drawn.

You scream your desires into our days, always wanting, wanting, wanting, not always understanding when we say no.

You want to taste the batter and lick the spoon. Your eyes light up when sweetness hits your tongue.

You think mangoes are heaven.

You know that the world is broken every time something hurts, and this we can’t explain until you’re older.

Your toddlerhood is part wonder, part terror. It is like loving a tornado.

Your babyhood is stretching, growing muscle and grace, approaching girlhood. You watch the way things work. You learn seemingly without effort.

You are not a job. Or a skill we can become good at. Some days everyone fails.

Raising you is like raising up a house from an endless pile of boards and nails, windows and doors. It requires tools we don’t always know how to use, skills we don’t yet have. It is repetition, repetition, repetition.

Sometimes things fall and break.

Sometimes we all have to start over, gathering up the pieces from the sawdusted floor.

And some days we hang a door on the first try, wondering at the ease.

You are gracious with our efforts. You grow. Take shape. Learn how to open and close things on your own. Learn how to occupy yourself, live within the frame of your body.

Still, we want you to be more than a body, a structure, pretty lashes and a roof.

We want you to become the definition of home.

Haven to those around you.

So we keep building. Hammering. Hollering. Trading tools.

You are labor and love, and we learn that these two things must coexist.

That love without labor has no depth.

That labor without love cannot produce beautiful things.

That cake needs chocolate, and bread needs butter,

and we need you

to round off all the sharpness in the world.