Love, Grow, & Overflow

My cup overflows. My laundry does too.

Tag: arms

Falling

Spring’s here, finally.  Winter stayed past its welcome, but the tree outside our house budded anyway, defying day after day of snow and gray skies.  It’s not pretty yet, but the grass is greening and those buds are promises hanging from the branch, ready to pop.  I open the windows even though it’s still cold.  I need to inhale spring, to close my eyes and remembering how sunshine feels on skin.

Everything’s ready to bloom, but I’m thinking about falling.

We love living in this community.  There’s a lot of love growing in this place, and it often feels like we are smack-dab in the middle of it.  As a mom, the fastest way to my heart is to sincerely love my kids, and I didn’t know so many people could fit in there.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.

There’s the friend who sent us this, back when my daughter’s tiny heart was just a flutter, back when only a handful of people knew she existed.  Already in the heart of God, oh yes. What a sweet reminder.

There are the friends who brought meals and encouragement and rocking arms for a baby who was nicknamed “cry-cry” (and this new mother could’ve shared that title.)

The friend who helped us plan financially for our first child, teaching us one-on-one in her kitchen, my nauseous self nibbling my way to debtless one cracker at a time.

The friend who came over and taught me her couponing system, bouncing my little girl on her hip as she talked.

The friends who knit blankets, prayers stitched into the fibers that my kids snuggle even today, still covered by love and yarn and prayers.

When I got sick with baby number two, the friend who rushed over with a hospital-grade thermometer and swept my one-year-old off to the zoo.

The friends who, when my husband traveled out of town and my Caesarean stitches were not yet healed, stopped by to lift my toddler out of the crib each morning. And put her in at nap time.  And lift her out when she woke in the afternoon.  And back again at bedtime.

The friend who offered, instead of a meal, to clean my bathroom, Christ-hands scrubbing my grout.

Everything’s ready to bloom here, but I’m thinking about falling.  They’re tied together, newness and birth and falling under the weight of it all.  Falling, and being caught.

I think of those trust-falls that groups do for teambuilding, where one person stands with their hands across their chest and falls backwards into the arms of everyone else.  When I was overtired and post-surgical and sick and falling, so many arms caught me.

When I think of that catching time, my hands still go to my heart.

My list above is from just one season of many we’ve lived here, and they’ve all brought blessings like sunshine.  We can breathe deeply here.  Extend our roots deeply.  Fall a little more deeply each day.

Oh, yes.

Arms and Ashes

When we brought our daughter home from the hospital, it was a long, dark night.  I remember thinking that I would probably never sleep again.  I kept sitting up, trying not to use my recently caesareaned stomach muscles, to peer over the wicker sides of the bassinet.  I worried about her breathing.  I was worried that she was too cold.  Mostly, I worried that no one would be watching her if I slept.

Finally, I picked up my tiny little girl and carried her into the hallway.  I stood there, sniffling and feeling utterly helpless.  My husband and my mom heard me and came out to see what was wrong, and I raggedly explained that I couldn’t go to sleep and leave her unguarded.  What if she needed something?  What if she stopped breathing?

I am so thankful for my mother.  She took my daughter downstairs and held her so I could sleep.  For hours, my mom stared at my sleeping daughter – her soft hair, her wideset eyes, her full cheeks.  For hours, my mom held her in her arms, and in doing so, held me too.

Obviously, that wasn’t a long-term solution.  I had to come to terms quickly with the fact that there would be times when an adult in our home would not be awake.  That is when I learned to pray for my child.  Every night, I would pray and mentally place my daughter into God’s arms, trusting him to watch her while we slept.

This week, we will go to church on Ash Wednesday.  Someone will dip their finger in a bowl of ashes and rub it on my forehead.  It’s a humbling experience.  They’re dirty. They itch after awhile. And the message given is, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Even with our church’s lovely addition of “…always in the arms of Jesus,” it is a sobering message.

After my daughter was born, I realized that having a new baby on Ash Wednesday changes everything. I wondered if they would put ashes on babies’ heads, too.  I decided that I would decline if they offered.  As a new parent, humility was already my friend – any grand ideas of self quickly dissipate in those first few months.  But to hold my sweet little pink-hued baby, so fresh and life-filled, and to have her marked with a reminder of death – to remember that someday she would return to dust – was more than I could bear.

 
At the same time… I love Jesus more now that I’m a parent.  I know this whole season points to Easter. As much as I love that Jesus died for my sins, I love him even more for dying for my daughter’s sins – even now, when they stretch ahead of her, guilt and pain and suffering lined up like hitchhikers on the road she has just begun to travel.  Christ died for that.  For her.  No amount of dust or dirt or sin will separate her from God. I love knowing that through even the darkest night, she continues to be always in the arms of Jesus.