June and the Perfect Imperfection

June was full of moments. Moments that filled me, steady and constant, like a green water hose in a plastic bucket. I wanted summer every day. I wanted sun and the relaxing drone of the lawnmower cutting fresh tracks across the yard. I wanted little girls bursting out of the front door, ready for play. I wanted LIFE – vibrant greens, newborn kittens curling into my elbow, the violet clematis unfurling wide into every morning.

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I wanted summer legs and bare feet. I wanted trip after trip to the garden to watch the plants coax their growth from dirt. I wanted to hear the satisfying grind and crunch of the pea gravel we hauled in to complete our raised bed garden, bag by fifty pound bag.

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Most of all, I wanted to eat outside. There’s nothing so free and wonderful as laughter and wind and food eaten out of doors. Who cares if the lawn is perfect, the menu is summery enough, or the tablecloths match. It’s the act of eating in the same place the food grew that feels all at once wild and perfect.

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Then there was the other side of June. The side no one photographed. The sad blueness of a sprained ankle. The way my husband’s eyes could barely stay open after surgery. The camera was put away while we coughed and sneezed, and felt our cheeks flush with the pink heat of fever. There was no one taking pictures during the phone call when our renters gave us notice instead of buying the house as formerly planned, and our world fell off kilter as we raced to put our former home back on market.

No cameras. No lenses. And yet, I couldn’t show you all the good things without acknowledging that there are two sides to every coin. That life isn’t always freshly minted, gleaming and perfect in organized rolls. That even in the most perfect of seasons, imperfection is present, and it’s up to us to figure out how to live with them both.

Perfect. Imperfect.

Both hedging in, threatening to glorify or nudge out the other.

And it’s up to us what to make of them. Every time. Every. Single. Time. Because no matter how many things I read or prayers I pour out or conversations I have, the decision of what to dwell on in my mind is as constant as the nagging need for coffee first thing in the morning.

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That whether the moment is picture perfect or camera shy, how I choose to perceive it in terms of the whole is what makes all the difference.

So with that being said, June was wonderful.

Bring on July.

What Mary was Really Thinking

garden_statue_maryTonight at our Christmas Eve service, I watched an amazing friend bring some of my musings about Mary, the mother of Jesus, to life. I cried. I laughed. I watched Mary step out of her stained glass, stone-carved perfection and become a real person.

Christmas is steeped in tradition. For me, Mary was a Sears nativity figurine in a blue robe that was always caught in some sort of ceramic breeze. She was beautiful. Untouchable. In my mind, she was perfect – the woman God chose to carry his Son. She knew what she was doing, right?

Then I became a mother, and I realized none of us really knows what we’re doing.

No matter how perfect every picture, every icon, every statue might make her look look, on the night of Christmas Eve, Mary was a scared girl in a cow barn laboring through clenched teeth.

I don’t know where you’re at this Christmas. But maybe you’re like me, wanting to hear an old story with new ears. If that’s the case, my version of a window into Mary’s thoughts is for you. Merry Christmas, friend. Merry Christmas.

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Breathe. Breathe.

No room. No room? Who says “no room” to a pregnant woman? I know. I know. Census. Travelers. I’m thankful for a roof. But wow. I’m going to have a baby. In. A. Stable.

Breathe. Breathe.

Father God, I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know how to have a baby. This is my first time. And I don’t know how to handle it. It hurts. Do You hear me? It HURTS. For the record, my mother didn’t say anything about this part. It was all “your sweet little hands” and “just a few pushes.” Right.

Breathe. Breathe.

Joseph told me to lie down. Like it’s that easy. On straw. STRAW. Dry, dusty straw that’s been sitting in a barn for how many months. No thanks. Think I’ll stand.

Breathe. Breathe.

Father God, I don’t know how to be a mom. I mean, I don’t even have any diaper rags along with. How is this going to work? No really. He’s your Son, but he’s still going to need his diaper changed. Everyone says it’s instinct. I’ll see Him, and I’ll know what to do. But really, will I?

Breathe. Breathe.

Why does no one talk about labor? What is it – some sort of secret code? Rite of passage? How long is this going to last? I wonder if anyone left the inn early. I really want to wash without a bunch of cows around.

Breathe. Breathe.

Father God, keep Him safe. Keep me safe. Keep Him safe. Keep us safe.

You wouldn’t bring me all this way to lose your child, right? The angel didn’t say anything about that. He said I was going to have a Son. So it’s going to happen. I’m going to have this baby. Your baby. In a stable full of cows.

Forgive me. It feels a little…strange. Why here? And why me? Wouldn’t it have been better to pick a mother who’s already had children? Who knows what she’s doing?

God, I honestly don’t know where I fit in all this. I don’t know how to be a mother to your Son. I’m not perfect. I lose my temper. What if I mess up? Can I mess up? Are You going to be mad at me?

Breathe. Breathe.

Do you know the hardest part? Ever since I was a little girl, I loved hearing the shouts when firstborn sons were born. The family would get up on the roof and call out, and everyone below would stop what they were doing and clap or dance.

But no one knows we’re here. My firstborn deserves all the shouting in the world, God, but instead it’s going to be quiet on this roof. Silent.

Well, except for the cows.

Breathe. Breathe.

Hush little baby. Mama’s here. Daddy’s here. Father’s here…. Always here… Hush. Please come. Please come soon.

I love you.