She had been telling me about her for months. Anna (not her real name). How her pretty blonde hair was worn in pigtails with bows or woven into a long braid. She talked about her all the time, asking when we could go to her house or when she could come play at our house. And after a recent, tearful conversation with my daughter about her desire for “girl friends to play with,” my momma heart was happy to see her so excited about a new friend.
On the morning that I finally caught up with Anna’s mother at preschool drop off, her daughters hair was in those same bouncy pigtails. Mine had requested pigtails as well "just like Anna’s!" I introduced myself to her mother- a lovely and polite woman- and we made tentative plans for a play date in the near future. But the next week at drop off, as my bubbly little girl bounced into the hallway and greeted Anna, the little girl frowned and turned away without even acknowledging her friendly greeting. This of course did not phase my own daughter who has never met a stranger. I tried to brush it off as shyness, and tried not to put too much weight into preschooler antics. But at the end of the day, when I asked Vesper with whom she had played that day she replied “Anna!”. So I asked, "Did Anna talk to you today?"
“No,” she breathed her reply.
As we walked down the hallway to her classroom the following week, my daughter exclaimed, "Oh I hope Anna is here!" And as she burst into the classroom, she rushed straight over to the little blonde girl with her arms outstretched for a hug.
But again the pigtails turned and backed away, the same frown on her face. And just as I was morphing into defensive Momma Bear mode, I heard Vesper tell her,
"I'm so glad you're here! I love you so much!"
And my heart shattered...
Not because it’s difficult to see your child give pure, uninhibited love and be met with silence. Not because I want my daughter to be popular. But my heart broke because I hope she never cares. I hope that she always loves, no matter what. I pray that someday she will choose her friends for their hearts, and not for their hair styles. I pray that the Lord would send her friends with character and wild, messy beauty and glaring flaws because I pray that she would learn to love those flaws and love the flaws within herself.
I’m not worried. When I look at my daughter, I don’t see a girl who gives up easily. At three years old, she knows who she is and what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it. And if she wants to love you, there’s no escaping it. You WILL be loved. And maybe I need to take a page out of that book- to love even when I feel unloved. When everything feels so… unlovely. What would it look like if we chose love every time- gave grace upon grace?
I have a feeling it would look rather like the cross. The One who loved even the unloveliest- even those who hated him. The God-man who could have remained on a throne, and yet threw himself among the lowest so that our flaws might be made right. A God that loves purely, without condition, even after we turn away over and over again.
And that’s a lesson I want my child to learn. That’s a heart I want her to have.
When you gain nothing: love anyway.
When you feel unlovely: love anyway.
When your heart might burst: love anyway.
When you feel run down, worn out, and battered by the world: love anyway.
A recent senior session that I LOVED being a part of is up on my photography blog. You'll definitely want to check it out here.
Let me tell you a story about a momma who had an eight month-old baby in one hand, and a positive pregnancy test in the other, and a mess of post-partum depression choking the life out of her. It took a minute for the shock to wash over her and the color to return to her face. And she tried to put on her armor and laugh in the face of adversity, but the truth was that she just couldn’t find the joy. She was scared, and she was convinced this would be the end of her sanity.
But time hurtled forward without regard for her feelings, as it does, and before she knew it, she was holding the most perfect little button-nosed boy in her arms. The day he met his big sister, the tiny girl had hardly any hair and wore a size twelve month red dress. Her heart soared and even though the first months weren’t easy, things soon fell into a routine of rise and fall, good and bad, highs and lows… until one day, as she tucked in her two golden-haired babies next to each other all giggles and curled up toes, she realized they weren’t babies anymore.
She marveled at the way they had grown and survived despite her certainty that she was entirely incapable of raising two humans. But more than that, she marveled at their love for each other. Inseparable. Best friends. Somehow, by God's grace, they had found friendship in her folly.
She was overcome with gratitude that God’s plans are so much better than hers and she knew that this- THIS was her calling in this life. To be sanctified day in and day out through being a mother to these irresistibly ornery children. To find joy in the mundane. Light in the everyday…
"Independence Day" is a bit of a misnomer when you have two toddlers. We didn't get to see a single firework, because try as we might to let them stay up ,they always started to melt down just before the sun sank in the sky. But it was still a refreshing long weekend. The swing set is almost finished, the sprinkler was running, the grill was fired up, and we spent lots of time being completely lazy. Because America, right?
Husband of my youth,
Did you know how it would be? When we were baby-faced and bright-eyed and well-rested did you think this is what it would look like? While we eagerly devoured pre-marital counseling books and answered enthusiastically and naively, “YES! I will love you forever and give you everything you need!” did you ever dream that our hands would loosen their grip only to grasp other tiny, hot hands of miniature people of our own creating?
As I walked down the aisle toward you in my white dress, a mere nine months after meeting you, did you even fathom how deep and lasting our words would be?
While you studied my face in the early morning hours of our studio apartment, did you wonder what lines might come to crease it? Would they be lines of laughter or lines of worry? Did you know I would soften in my middle and become marked with each and every inch I gained to bear those babies of ours?
If you had known that I’m cranky when I’m sleepy and have a tendency to swear when I’m frustrated and I neglect cleaning the bathroom for as long as humanly possible and there’s nothing that I hate more than laundry, would you still have asked me to be your wife?
My heart knows yours as though we had never lived apart- like we came into being as one and will go to our graves the same way. I feel as though you already knew all those parts of me that I despised and tried to hide and outgrow- you saw them and you knew them… and you loved me in spite of them.
And even now, eight years and a million moments later, you choose me. Wild hair, dark circles, stretch marks, laugh lines, extra pounds, mistakes, swear words, unfolded laundry, and stubbornness, you choose me.
You choose us… and it’s like you always knew…
My name is Chelsea. Redeemed. Wife. Mommy. Photographer. Light Chaser. I hope you find light here too.