Love, Grow, & Overflow

My cup overflows. My laundry does too.

Month: January 2013


c. Kaytee Riek - Some Rights Reserved

c. Kaytee Riek – Some Rights Reserved

Last week, my daughter brought home a coloring page from Sunday School.  On the back, she’d written her name in crooked preschool letters.  She’d flipped around the Ds to Bs, so her name was a different name entirely.  Underneath, her teacher had written capital and lower case Bs and Ds, and then my daughter had written her name again correctly.

Her Sunday School teacher is amazing.  She has a doctorate in reading.  In this house where we love words so much, that’s like being a rock star.  I love the way she lovingly incorporates reading skills into each lesson.  In her room on Sunday morning, it’s not God in one hour-long slot and literacy skills for another time.  They’re all together; God and the gifts he’s given, wisdom and truth and kindness cresting over each other like waves.

My daughter’s name is important.  I believe it is written on God’s hands, each letter inscribed across the flesh of his palms.  I admit I’m not sure what that means entirely, but I believe those hands are actively working in the world.  I believe they’re open and cupped with mercy, and my daughter’s life is written into that plan, steeped in that mercy.

A receiver of mercy.  A bestower of mercy.  That is what her name looks like.

I believe those palms rest on her teachers’ shoulders each day as my daughter writes her name, nudging, “Teach this child who she is.” So we work on the letters, parents and Sunday School teachers and preschool teachers together. With crayons on paper, we note the number of tines on her E, the directions of b and d.  We’ll keep working until she knows her name like the back of her hands.

We’ll keep working till she knows herself like the palms of God.



IMG_2343My husband is traveling this week.  We miss him, so as my daughter spins around the living room in her princess gown, I snap a photo and send it to him.   He texts back: “So beautiful.”

She changes from her gown to her footie pajamas and heads for the computer, asking if she can type.  We open a blank document and her little fingers steer the mouse, change the font to 72-point.  Her eyes scan the keyboard, searching and searching, and then she presses a key.


She doesn’t believe in the space bar.  She hits enter, sound out a short aaaaaaaaaa, searches and pecks.  She hums, searches more, finds the m.



“How do you spell beautiful?” she asks.  I stretch out the syllables, remind her what it sounds like, and she finds letters for each phoneme, slowly listening and choosing and searching and typing.


Enter, again.

She is four, and our words are truths she plucks from the air and puts on paper as her own.  The spelling is laborious but the believing comes quickly, simply and surely.

Soon enough, the typing will come with ease.  Soon enough, she’ll discover the question mark, rearrange the words, find herself afraid of the answer.

I stare at the screen, her first autobiography, primitive and succinct, and make a silent promise to her:  I will sound it out, always.

I will remind her of the strength of her legs, the contour of her face, the taper of her fingers, the beat of her heart.  Beautiful.  I will point it out in the games she creates, in the paper she cuts and glues until it becomes something new.  Beautiful.  Like a mirror, I will reflect it back when I see it, the giggle she can’t stifle, the snack she shares, the way she runs as fast as she can to deliver a note to our next door neighbor.

Beauty.  Tiny glimpses of the divine.

When she begins to hate her round cheeks or her nose, I will sound it out.  When the world tries to redefine it, to reduce it to pettiness and prettiness, I will say it slowly, certainly, clearly.  When her braces make her smile close-mouthed, I will sound it out.  When her heart gets broken and her face puffs up from crying, I will speak it over her like a blanket, stretching it out syllable by syllable.  When she offers goodness and is ignored, misunderstood and mocked, I will tell her what she knew when she was four.  You are beautiful.

On the days when her actions are ugly, I will remind her.  Beauty redeems, renews.

And on the days when she doesn’t believe it, I will hold it up for her like a sign until she believes again.




In great measure.   In giant, shouting font.


IMG_1048-001My daughter’s favorite coat is long and minky-soft, zebra print with a ruffle around the bottom.  The inside is lined in hot pink.  Last week she wore it with big white furry boots and a red boys’ snow hat that looked like a race car.  She carried a fluffy white stuffed cat in her arms.  It was quite the outfit, completely over the top.  She wore it, happy and beautiful.

The zebra coat is a loaner, actually.  It came our way by means of a complicated pipeline of hand-me-ups and hand-me-downs that my mom friends have designed to maximize the cute-clothes wearing in our group.  It doesn’t matter to my daughter that someone else’s initials are on the tag.  It’s hers because she wears it, because someone draped it across her shoulders.

She just turned four, my little girl in zebra stripes.  We joke that her birthday is becoming a season in itself.  Our family lives out of town, so we started celebrating a couple weeks early when relatives surprised her with a couple gifts.  We had cupcakes at her grandpa’s house and more cupcakes the next day with two of her grandmas.  When we returned home, traveling friends stayed overnight and brought a gift for her.  Her godmother had her over for a special dinner with cloth napkins and jewels scattered across the table.  On her birthday, more friends stopped by.  Relatives posted a video of them singing birthday wishes.  Others left messages for her.

One thing is true: my daughter is loved lavishly.

I don’t believe in “too much love,” and I am so thankful for people who remind my daughter that she is cherished and dear.   I know, though, that many kids are also phenomenal, and yet not all have a parade of people waiting to pour love and cuddly toys upon them.  I know it’s unfair.  I don’t want her to become spoiled or entitled. Sometimes, it leaves me a little conflicted.

My daughter has no such conflicts.  She is loved.  It is hers because she wears it, the love of so many people draped across her shoulders.  It bears the marks of the people who have passed it down.  It is broken-in love, lavish and soft.  It is bright and loud, sometimes a bit over the top.  When she wears it, she is beautiful, bold enough to stand against the piercing winds.