Category Archives: Musings on Life and Beauty

The Speech I Just Gave to Myself on Mother’s Day

If I could have one wish each May, it would be to gather every woman I know for a beautiful Mother’s day luncheon.  We would visit and eat and laugh and be nourished by good food and better conversation.

And if I could have a few minutes to speak, I would say this:

Each of us has a story.  It’s a powerful story, because it’s the only story just like it in all the world – in all the history of the world, to be exact.  There has never been, and there never will be, another life story exactly like yours.

Collectively our stories explain the perpetuation of the human race.  It is the story of motherhood, from the sweet smell of a newborn to the runny-nosed toddler who marks your pants each day like a growth chart with dirty hands and face.  It continues through the delightful years of childhood and into the uncharted realm of teenagers.  It is the story of daughters looking to their mothers as they step into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood themselves.

It is the story of women who would do anything to be a mother, yet are denied their dearest dream.  The story of women who, for many reasons, choose not to have children.  The story of women who nurse, teach and care for the children of others.  Women who, because of the choices of one party or another, don’t know where their children are, or perhaps even who their children are.  Women who feel like they have no idea what they’re doing.  Women parenting alone.  Women still caring for the basic needs of children who were born decades ago.  Women who buried their child and have wondered ever since, “who am I now?”  Women who grieve for mothers who are no longer here.

The scenarios are as many as we are.  All of them matter.  Each one is part of this collective story of women doing hard things.  Some of us love Mother’s Day; some of us hide from it.  For some, it is salt in a very deep wound.  And for many of us, it’s a reminder that we don’t measure up (to some false standard of perfect mothering).

Today I  say this:

How you tell your story matters.  How you receive another’s story matters.  What you do with these stories, matters.

It matters how we treat people, and how we treat ourselves.  It matters that we forgive.  It matters that we repent.  It matters that we learn.  It matters that we find people to serve.  That we seek truth.  That we understand who we are as daughters of God.  It matters that we reflect light.  That we show up, do good, and overcome.

I have a piece of art that hangs on the wall above my bathroom scale.  That scale and I are not friends; it represents failure to me in a big way.  But I get on the scale anyway because I’m trying to show up, and as I do it I lift my eyes to the message on my wall.  It says, “You are enough.”

Not perfect.  Enough.  And it’s true.  You are enough for Jesus Christ to have offered himself in your place.  Because of the great and merciful plan of happiness, what He did is enough.  You are good enough!

Here is my Mother’s day challenge (I’m preaching to my own heart): Let’s shake off the things that make us shrink instead of stand boldly.  Let’s dismiss Mother’s day as merely a headcount of our children and a recitation of their accomplishments, or as a symbol of what we’re not, and let’s make it about light.  Let’s stand up and stand together and let’s be a light, a light that shines in darkness, a light that reflects the Light of the World, the Light which can never be darkened.

We can do this.  After all, it’s our day, isn’t it?

Right now I wish I could hug you and say, “Thank you for the light you shine into this world.  WE NEED IT.  What will you do to make it brighter?”

All my love,
Jennifer

Thanksgiving: Hungry, Full + FREE Gratitude Quotes to Download

Today as I left the grocery store I saw a man standing at the stop sign with a very simple cardboard sign in his hands.  It read, “hungry.”

The sign, the man, his situation – it always tugs at my heart, but “hungry” really got to me today, leaving me with tears running down my cheeks when I drove away.  “Hungry.”  Aren’t we all?  And for so much more than food?

My pie-making tools are on the counter awaiting the first pie of the season, my refrigerator stocked with everything for the big meal.  Yet in the hustle of it all, I’m both “full” and “hungry.”  Full, because I see the hand of God in my life and know that even in scarcity and adversity He is trustworthy, and that the darkest of days only make His light brighter when it appears.  Thanksgiving has become for me a time to take a step back emotionally and mentally and look hard to “see what God hath done.”  He does it masterfully, so my heart is full.  And I’m hungry.  Not just for the mouthwatering food that will grace the table, but more so for my family.  I’m hungry for them to feel it.  I want nothing more than for my children to have eyes to see, and for them to hunger for the feeling of “full” that can only come from recognizing our blessings AND their source.

Don’t you love having a holiday that reminds us to count our blessings?!  We should obviously live in thanks all year, but it’s wonderful to have a time of year that helps us focus on gratitude.  I have great confidence in what gratitude does for us when we practice it.  Early in the month our family started a gratitude jar with the invitation to write down what you’re thankful for and add it to the jar.  But the month always flies by with school and athletics — suddenly the holiday is tomorrow and I look around at my children and want so much for them to get it.  Are we truly grateful?

This year I went looking for some gratitude quotes that capture my feelings on this subject.  Tonight each of my children will find a different quote waiting for them at their place setting and we will discuss them together over a simple meal.  I’m really interested to hear what they think.

I’m hoping everyone enjoys it.  I printed them on parchment paper and decided it might be fun to start a little collection of gratitude quotes and do this more often!

I compiled eight of them in a PDF to share with you.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD GRATITUDE QUOTES

I will also be sharing my all-time favorite Thanksgiving quote with my extended family at our Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s by William Bradford, taken from his history of Plymouth Plantation, and I re-read it every year.  I love the way he testifies that God can work in our lives without all the luxuries we sometimes think are necessary.

I’ve shared this quote before, but decided it was time to type it up.  It is also available to download.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BRADFORD QUOTE

I had a local copy shop print mine in color on their nicest, smooth cardstock for a few cents and I love how it looks.

I really hope these things help prepare my children’s hearts to want to live gratefully.  Quotes such as these are a blessing to my soul – they center me, offer perspective, and give me confidence in Christ and hope for the future.  The best kind of “full.”

Wishing you happy – and grateful – Thanksgiving.
With all my heart,
Jennifer

Appreciating Little Dreams

I have some big dreams.  We all do.  Some of them, I believe, will come true along the way, some will never happen, some will evolve into different pictures and weave their way into my life at least partially.  Every once in a while the world feels scary and fear grips my heart as I wonder how we’ll make our dreams come true for our children, especially.  Of course, all we can do is our best, leaving the future to the Lord.  But with so many big things out of our control, I’m learning that I am happier if I notice the little dreams that come true in my life.

Last weekend I made my family our favorite fall dessert:  my rustic pear tart.   I pulled up my post to make sure I remembered the measurements correctly and a sentence in that post caught my attention.  “Pears at the end of the summer, fresh from a local orchard.”

My heart stopped for a minute.  That’s not the story of this pear tart.  This pear tart carries the tag, “Pears at the end of the summer, fresh from my backyard tree.”  A feeling of warm happiness washed over me as I realized with total clarity that the fulfillment of a dream is embodied in that statement.  It’s not a huge, grand dream, and it certainly isn’t a dream that most people have.  It won’t pay for college or be the defining characteristic of my children’s upbringing.  A lot of people I know grew up with it like I grew up with a lawn in my yard.  They would never label it a dream; it was just part of life, something they didn’t have to think about, always there.   But I had it, the happy picture in my heart of my home with fruit trees in back.  The happy picture of our family carrying baskets of fruit inside together.  This is why I love my cherry tree so much.  It’s part of the picture I treasure.  But pears?  Pears are something special.  A little dream, come blissfully true.

When we sliced that tart into ten pieces and ate it together, what I felt was reverence.

Another little dream:

Saturday afternoon my daughter and I began harvesting my lavender for the last time this season.  I let it go too long, but I was enjoying the sight of the bees so much, and leaving the color in the yard made me smile.   The plants have done well this summer, growing large and beautiful, covered with more lavender than I anticipated.  Harvesting lavender is a happy activity.  There you are, arms, hands and face surrounded by the heavenly scent of fresh lavender, enjoying the silvery green color of the stems against the rich purple blooms while the bees work around you in happy companionship.

Saturday night I popped into a local shop for a minute.  The owner came up behind me to say hello as I placed an order for a favorite drink to take home and share with my husband.  We talked about some tempting lemon cookies on the counter and then her face grew serious as she put her arm around me and told her girls behind the counter about my lavender shortbread cookies.  I smiled and promised to bring her some, then said, “Just this afternoon I was outside cutting my lavender for the last time this year.”  I watched the look on her face and realized, “I’m living a dream.  It’s a small dream, on a small scale.  It’s not a lavender farm, but it’s my lavender.  It doesn’t help with the laundry or the cleaning, but it’s a dream and I’m lucky enough to live it.”

I walked to my car feeling terribly blessed.

Those two realizations opened my eyes to so many more little dreams come true.  The joy of a three year old curled up in my lap reading Goodnight Moon with me.  The discovery of a book that moved me to tears.  The happy closeness of my husband who is my life’s greatest dream come true.  The dream of motherhood come true all around me, growing and bulging until it’s so huge I sometimes forget it’s a dream.  A stack of freshly washed and folded white towels.  Having a guest room to share with family.  Pumpkins on the front porch.  Driving down a tree-lined street in the fall.  Prayed for growth and development happening in a child’s life.  A quiet evening at home laughing and playing UNO with my family.  When I really look for them, I realize there are little dreams come true all around me and it fills my heart with gratitude.

Gratitude is a nice feeling to live with.

 

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