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We finish the last of our latte foam, and she asks if I’m excited about the year ahead, and I am. Forty feels like new frontier as much as it feels a continuation. I’m carrying a renewed sense of purpose, and I’ve almost danced for joy these last two weeks, relishing all this grace and love, these celebrations of life.

I’m reminding myself to let it soak in. Not to ask if I’m deserving, but to allow this to be a time for rejoicing.

I turn the pages of the book made just for me by my sister, mama and papa. The one that Ali filled with love words, specific ways I’m cherished from head to toe — filled with Scripture and gorgeous visuals and life-giving quotations, speaking the language that cuts straight to my core — these affirming words. I read and let the beauty and thoughtfully chosen lines soak cracked spaces.

This is a treasure I’d grab in a fire.

On Sunday afternoon, I spend time in my office, think about what inspires me, decorate. I listen to Dolly Parton and old country and sip an IPA. I feel perfectionistic tendencies rear their uglies, but I press on, even after I spill my drink all over the carpet, and the picture hanging hooks scatter, and a frame crashes from the wall.

When it’s done, I try to put away negative eyesight — the vision that can always find the gaps — and sigh gratefully, “Oh, look at my space. I love this.”

And then the girls have needs. They want to help. They have ideas and want to be in here with me. I want this space to myself, and I feel the gift of their presence along with my selfishness that starts rearing its big head. I’m not sure how to navigate this because now that there’s a space for me, I’m finding it hard to share.

As a mama with children growing older, I wonder what the lines are, what can be “just mine.” How can I love these kids by allowing them to enter the world of “my creativity” while teaching them that I have hopes and aspirations apart from them that are worth pursuing? What does it mean to give myself to my children, but not give all of me away? I’m sure there’s not one answer really, but when I see my own grabby claws, I know that’s not the space I want to occupy.

I ask God to show me what’s true. God’s still showing me.

Plenty of moments, I forget what is most real. Instead of embracing Jesus’ way of open hands, I grasp for the finished picture, make idols of my performance or appearance, my goodness as a mother, my ability to be the person people expect me to be. I even idolize mystical future me — the one who’s finally gotten things figured out and walks fully in light and life and truth.

Gerald May said, “How we view ourselves at any given moment may have very little to do with who we really are,” and I suspect this is truer than I know.

When my mama asked me yesterday if I were excited about this year, I said yes and also, “I’m a little afraid” because that’s true, too.

“Why?” she asked.

I guess I hadn’t really considered what the fear was about, and so I surprised myself by saying, “I think I’m most afraid of what I’ll see rise up in me. What broken part of me I’ll become aware of this year.”

She laughed and said, “You’re hopeless, honey.” And we laughed together because I am undoubtedly a bit neurotic, and there’s always something with me.

Then I said, “I have to remember that there will be grace there, too. It’s not like these new character flaws are going to emerge, and Jesus will be absent.”

Because the God I know shows me lovingly where I fall short and doesn’t leave me with my spilled drinks and fallen pictures and grabby claws to figure it out.

The God I know doesn’t set my feet in spacious places and then gas it, leaving me in a dust cloud.

The God I know doesn’t turn away from me in my selfishness or my over-doing or my messed-up perceptions of rightness or success.

The God I know shows me piece by piece what I can stand in and upon, what I can release and to Whom I can cling. The God I know calls me apple of his eye, redeemed, beloved, with a hope-filled future.

So this can’t be about my short view.

This morning I lay on the floor of my writing space in the quiet and remember that while I bring all of me each day to wherever my feet walk, I am not alone. And more, I am not the one in whom the story finds its end.

And I am so grateful.

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(I’m not so practiced at holding a camera steady in one hand. Apparently I haven’t yet mastered the art of the selfie, as evidenced by the blur.)

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Joining with Jennifer Lee and others laying down their “love idols” — all the things we look to for our sense of worth and value — and choosing to see ourselves through God’s eyes. Jennifer’s launching her new book “Love Idol” and, among other amazing things, is going mirror-free for 40 days. Her #preapproved project is inspiring, friends!

*** And happy birthday to my precious papa! I love you, Papi! Thank you for always being one who’s told me I matter, that I’m adored and cherished. I do not take the gifts of your love for granted. ***

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