Parenting is hard.  And I think sometimes I so expect the challenges or have conditioned myself find value in the hardship that I forgot to celebrate the moments of joy and growth. And today I want to celebrate.

Last night I snuggled close our little girl and breathed in deep the scent of her coconut oiled braids.  I squeezed her tight and told her how wonderfully made and loved by God she is and always will be.  And she beamed and and she did not pull away and leaned in to my mothering of her.

When Jason is on a work trip the kids take turns sleeping with Mama and they all look forward to their special turn to snuggle and chat. I awoke multiple times last night and looked over and remembered.  I remembered how over the last 3 years strangers became kin through devastation and hope and redemption over and over again.  And I started to tear up remembering when these snuggles would have felt like too much of an invasion to her and if I’m honest too distant and foreign to me.  I remembered that through practice we have not been made perfect- but rather we have stumbled through mistakes and still found ourselves here, together, trying and loving another day. I remembered the many small decisions and pushing, leaning in, and pursuing that have happened that have shaped us all. Last night as we snuggled and the attachment literature and Karyn Purvis wisdom was running through my mind I was conscious that we are living this dance. she doesn’t have the training or the language but understand these need jut perfectly and ha been my primary teacher.  I  noticed she was smiling and squeezing me tight and taking in my scent too. We are still getting to know each other as mother and daughter. For so long we were not sure what the future would look like, for so long so much felt uncertain, and there was an inbetweeness that required space and respect and acknowledgement of all that came before.  For me this process has been different than when you carry a baby in your body- to be clear-just as miraculous- but different.  It has required more time to learn about each other and the allowance of time to build trust in us and not epect or force it. It requires a deep appreciation that the closeness between us also has a high cost for her, for her first family, & for all of us. I prayed and squeezed her close and thanked God for the relationship built and transformed over the last almost 3 years. I asked for blessing for her kin and the ability to have a meaningful relationship in which I am open and do not need to set the agenda. I asked God for the wisdom and grace to be present no matter what the future brings.  I asked God to help me remember these moments if when it gets hard again my view of Him is obscured. I am celebrating because what God has done is too good to move past without acknowledgement, without thanksgiving. And at around 3am I was overcome and thankfulness came spilling from my eyes. And I want to mark this, to place a stone of remembrance for all Jesus has led us to.   

I think this is one reason I love photography so much- it captures moments in time and when I look back I almost always think “how where they that little?” It forces my forward looking, always dreaming of the next big thing self to reflect, to pause, to look back and remember. I look at these little humans we have been entrusted to journey with and think how much they have grown into more of themselves; because of us and despite our many failures.  And I look at their Mama in the background of those images and tear up thinking how hard she was hustling and how much she has learned that she is loved no matter what, I laugh at how much she worried in that moment and how much God was in it, I tear up because I am grateful for the growth that was forced through coming to the end of myself over and over again. I see the community of family and friends that stand with us and feel grateful we do not walk alone.

This is what I celebrate today. The celebration does not negate the loss and challenge, nor does “it make it all worth it” in some neat and tidy ending- but both just are and it is ALL part of the story. The continuing story I trust will continue to be greater, harder, and more full than my limited understanding.  

I had two distinct pictures in the wee hours last night and as is true in mot things I am sure I only am beginning to understand what this all means. .
A house fire engulfing a home and everyone running away because it was just too terrible to look at the destruction. There was no chance anything survived. 
A farmer standing in a field; planting and waiting for growth, counting on growth.  Storms and the winter came and the devastation to the field was real. There was no chance anything was still growing. 
But…I had assumed that was the end. 
But there was life after destruction.
In the ashes of the home there was life.  
After the thaw there were new buds growing in the soil.

Both the home owner and the farmer knew it was not because of them but God who makes things grow. It was not a happy ending but a reminder that He who created us loves us and promises never to leave us.

If you only see the devastation right now speak it– because keeping quiet has never served me well. I stand with you and say I have stood there and will be there again. I have wondered how anything good could come from the pain obscuring my view from any healing. I will not tell you everything will be just fine but I will hold out hope that maybe all we see right now is not all that is.  You are seen and loved.
 If you are in a season of joy speak it– celebrate because it reminds us to call to our memories all that has be reformed and remade. Too look back and say thank you & see our own transformation and God’s faithfulness. Be joyful and lean into abundance because you remind us we need that too to continue on the journey. You are seen and loved.

Celebrating growth and joy is an act of gratitude that changes us. We need to bear witness together.  

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