Things I Love, Big and Small

I love making lists.

I love when my slippers match my hoodie and joggers. I love nicknames, Harry Potter, painted toenails, raw cookie dough, and soft skin.

I love the curls of steam that rise from a hot cup of coffee.

I love when he lets me put my cold hands under his shirt.

I love how, when I sit down with a cozy blanket, our dog seems to know and she finds me.

I love that I get filled with the warm fuzzies of fondness and affection whenever I think of some of my college professors. I love that I still keep in touch with a handful of them.

I love vulnerability and authenticity.

I love my youngest daughter’s curly, untamed hair.

I love the freckles on my shoulders and on oldest daughter’s nose and cheeks. (I wish she loved them too.)

I love singing “Amazing Grace” with a room full of people.

I love summer days that are 72 degrees with a light wind and I love autumn days that are 52 degrees with sunshine after a heavy rain.

I love the smell of a library.

I love rainbows that stretch across the sky when rain and sun collide.

I love honesty, even when it hurts.

I love, on the days when I am unreasonably irritable and demanding and emotional, he holds my hands in his own and looks me in the eyes and says, “I love you.” I love feeling seen, known, and understood.

I love forgiveness.

I love to give gifts even more than I love to receive them and I especially love when it’s an over-the-top surprise that they never saw coming.

I love that it’s our policy not to kill spiders in our house. I love my love for animals and that my kids have inherited (or learned?) that kind of love too.

I love massages.

I love connecting with random strangers about random things, like the rain we’re both trying to get out of, or the child who won’t stop screaming, or simply because I did something nice like hold open the door for them.

I love adding songs to my next birth playlist, just in case there’s ever another birth.

I love dreaming, imagining, hoping, planning. Praying.

I love how my oldest son and daughter will do a deep dive into subjects that fascinate them, like Greek mythology and spiders and dinosaurs.

I love grumpy old people and mischievous toddlers.

I love babies in sweaters and winter hats.

I love that strawberry jam, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday make me think of one friend in particular.

I love hearing my husband laughing aloud at what he’s watching on YouTube while he does the dishes. (I love that he does the dishes.)

I love birth photography and black and white images and the contrast of shadows and light.

I love stories about second chances, and unrequited love, and overcoming the odds. I love stories that make me weep.

I love when he calls me “babe.”

I love that my kids love the candied sweet potatoes from my childhood.

I love how my heart leaps when I unexpectedly see a Steller’s Jay in our backyard, beautiful blue wings against the backdrop of a forest of evergreens.

I love new friends who feel like old friends and old friends who never feel new, even with years and miles between us.

I love flannel sheets and flannel shirts.

I love how our “baby,” newly walking, toddles around like an unstable drunk man. I love that when he falls down (which he does, often), he gets right back up with a huge smile on his face and just keeps going.

I love the mullet that forms when a toddler’s hair grows faster in the back than on top.

I love roses and how, when the wind blows, you can smell the ones growing in our yard.

I love long, dangly earrings.

I love maxi dresses and sweaters that slip off my shoulder and cute boots and cropped jackets.

I love my 8-year-old’s long lashes, gigantic eyes, and how she’s never met a stranger. She loves everybody and will say hello to anyone and I often think, I wish I could be more like that.

I love buffalo plaid everything – sheets, scarves, oven mitts, slippers, pillows, purses, paperclips. Everything.

I love a fireplace flickering in a dark room.

I love hospitals and airports.

I love Hawaiian sunsets.

I love a British accent.

I love passion fruit and pickles and eating a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips.

I love Indian food.

I love winter sunshine and summer rain, big hugs, sledding with my kids, reunions, hot showers, and the smell of baking cinnamon.

I love the sound of birds singing on an early morning walk.

I love every doughnut ever made as long as it doesn’t have bacon on it.

I love when I put my hair into a messy bun just right and I look cute-messy and not hot-mess-messy and not old-lady-messy.

I love how our 6-year-old is almost always half-naked when he’s at home and how his laughter can’t be contained.

I love when his little sister comes upstairs after waking up and says in her sweet little voice, “Good moaning, Mommy.”

I love people who surprise me, who make me want to do better, who challenge me, who question me, who take no prisoners and get shit done. I love people even though I also really really love to be alone.

I love silence.

I love lines on a carpet left behind by a vacuum.

I love old houses, old cities, and ghost stories.

I love telling people I have 15 siblings. I love knowing I have 15 siblings after nearly a lifetime spent as an only child.

I love hills that are alive with the colors of autumn.

I love being pregnant and the anticipation and hope of a new life, a future that has just barely begun.

I love newborn babies. I really love newborn babies curled and asleep on my chest, their warm weight, their indescribable but delicious smell.

I love nursing newborn babies a few minutes before dawn, just as the sky starts to lighten. I also love nursing newborn babies next to a twinkling Christmas tree in the middle of the night.

I love how a tween can seem so grown up one minute and, the next, she is playing “bad babies” on the floor with her siblings. I love that she still needs me.

I love Philippians 4:13 and always have.

I love laughing uncontrollably, until my stomach hurts and tears pour down my cheeks.  I love having someone to laugh with. I love people who make me laugh.

I love how, when my 3-year-old has nothing to play with in her carseat, she makes her fingers or her feet talk to each other.

I love dirty chai tea lattes.

I love dusty rose pink, mustard yellow, and olive green.

I love London and how I always feel at home there. I love Australia and all its wonder and mystery. I think I love Ireland and Africa and one day I will find out for sure.

I love the vastness of the ocean and how I always feel in conversation with God when I stand on the shore.

I love friends who text me randomly to say, “Hey, how are you?” or “I’ve been thinking of you,” or “This reminded me of you.”

I love the smell of onions and peppers cooking in a frying pan.

I love that, even as I approach forty, I am still the apple of my mama’s eye and she tells me I’m her “hero” because I do things she would never even dream of.

I love how safe I feel when I fall asleep with his hand on my hip.

I love a good lens flare. I love buttery golden light and bokeh.

I love reading writing that makes me swoon and feeling inspired to write for the first time in a long time.

I love being appreciated and I love being loved. I love being grateful.

I love that there are countless things to be grateful for and that this list is really just the beginning.

(This post was inspired by Ashlee Gadd and Katie Blackburn.)

Brand New

In birth,

I was brought to the brink.

Of my vulnerability.

Of my power.

I felt weak.

I felt strong.

I roared into the night as

I was split wide open,

turned inside out,

and made anew.

A tiny, warm, wet being,

a stranger,

was placed on my chest

and I was changed.

Born again.

My baby opened eyes,

saw the world

for the first time,

and so did I.

I’m a Writer

I think I was born to be a writer. Not because I can form pictures out of words like John Steinbeck. Not because I can create characters that you remember and fall in love with like Wally Lamb. Not because I have a deep understanding of similes and imagery like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not because I can craft a poem that says something more than the actual words in the poem like Emily Dickinson. Not because I can make an entire magical world come alive like J. K. Rowling.

I don’t excel at any of that. That’s not what makes me a writer. Let’s get real…I’m a mediocre writer at best.

But still, I’m a writer.

It’s taken me years to be able to say that. Years to realize you don’t have to get paid for what you write to be a writer. No one even has to read your work. Does the tree in the forest make a sound if no one is there to hear it? Why yes, yes it does. And you can be a writer without a following, a writer without a fanbase, a writer even if you are the only one reading your work.

Me? I’m a writer because there are sentences that drift in my blood begging to be written. This very blog post was penned at midnight, just as I was about to crawl into bed. My husband was asleep, and I was exhausted and desperate for rest after a day’s worth of mothering, but I suddenly knew what I wanted to say for this first post and how I wanted to say it and the nagging of the words couldn’t be ignored. I had to write. That’s not all that make me a writer, but when words demand to be written and I listen and I write them, then I am a writer.

Years ago, I discovered blogging in one of my darkest hours. I was three weeks post-miscarriage, struggling to conceive our second child. I had been a writer for most of my life, since writing that first lousy poem that my teacher raved about in the fourth grade. Through childhood and adolescence, I felt compelled to write constantly. I can recall escaping the boredom of household chores and the loneliness of a being an introverted only child by crafting characters, and dialogue, and story arcs in my head and then on paper. In college, I majored in English and studied the works of famous writers and learned how to find my voice in writing. I learned how to write for real and how to edit for real. I learned the pain of pouring your heart into something, only to delete all of it but one single, powerful word because the rest of it was garbage.

And then I graduated, got a job I hated, got married to a man I loved, started trying to have a baby, moved across state lines, had a baby… And I forgot about writing. Or maybe I didn’t forget about it, but I ignored the call. It’s a cliché, but in motherhood, I lost a piece of myself. I was tired and overwhelmed and I had no choice but to neglect the writer in me as I tried to keep a tiny human alive for the very first time.

And then I lost a baby.

I lost a baby and I was bitter and broken. I had to purge the grief somewhere. There’s truth in the image of a tortured artist. I was desperate. I was raw. My pain was ugly and my art wasn’t always pretty. But the words poured out of me fast and furious and, as much as it hurt to release them, I found healing in doing so. I had let writing go years before, and yet it found me again when I needed it the most.

And so here I am once more. I’m a wife and a tired mother, still in the trenches, still praying for grace, but I can feel that the seasons are changing. Things feel different now, I feel different, and the call to keep writing is strong. As with all things in life, there is an ebb and flow to the words, and I don’t know how often I’ll be here. I don’t know what this blog will become, if anything, or who will read it, or if that matters. I don’t even really know what I’ll say, though I hope I can craft something beautiful , curate all my thoughts in one place, give voice to the pain and beauty of being a woman, a mother, and a human being.

I don’t know if that’s possible or if I’ll be very good at it, but what I do know is that I am a writer and so I have to write, if only for me. What I do know is that writing feels like an old friend, familiar and safe. Even when I find the process miserable and I find myself angry with my inability to say what I want to, I write because it makes me feel human, and whole, and seen, and known. I write because it gives me life.

I write because I can’t not write.

I write because, I think, God made me a writer.