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.
(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.)
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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Your pictures are so lovely. Your space is lovely. Your heart — yup, lovely. I’m so thankful for this: “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.”
Love you my friend. Thank you for how you continually bless my heart.
Dana, your heart pours forth acceptance, grace and love so freely. What gifts those are. I am thankful to call you friend.
I love seeing more pictures of your writing world and of your smiling face. You are a gift. And I feel such kindred spirit feelings rising up in me when I read your words. Though I am way way way ahead of you in the life season thingie, I hear me in you. Always.
My poetic friend – lover of words and beauty, I hear me in you, too. You were one of my first true blogging friends, and I give thanks for you and pray for the in-real life someday. Yes.
Loved this Ash! And I think (quite sure) I love you all the more for your sweet and quirky neuroticisms! Speaking as your mama, you came by them honestly! (And your office rocks, with light and wings…oh, just like you!)
Haha! Yeah, I’ve got some quirky neurotics for folks, don’t I? (And I mean that in the most loving of ways! :) ) We sure would be less interesting if not for all those “unique” qualities, right?
“Imagination orders everything. It is the spring of beauty, justice, and happiness which is the be-all and end-all of the world.” Pascal
Pascal discusses how our imaginations are either absorbed in reconciling the past, or anxiety of the future.If our thoughts are centered on the present, it is to compliment on of these two tracks.
I said something to the same effect a few weeks ago. Feeling like every time I get to a good place, something else comes up. I told my college group leader, “It is like an emotional black head, that keeps coming.”
However, God gives us glimpses of heaven, to show that we are on the right track. To remind us of our temporal bodies, and remind us that this will pass.
I have been reflecting lately on my relationship with God. He once felt distant, and I had little knowledge as to how He viewed me. I felt like I was watching a play, with people running around in the background, making noise, and I had no idea what was going on.
I have come to realize that since Jesus, we have a deep connection with God. In our pain, he also feels it. Every time we cry, God cries along side us. When we hurt, God feels the pain.
When someone is sick, and they begin to recover, although they are less than before, there is rejoicing in the fact that they will get better. Likewise, although there are periods of our life where we become less, there is rejoicing because God is leading us on a path of healing, and sanctification.
God has ordained Angels to look out and protect us. Isn’t it crazy to think of Angels protecting you? I mean, you literally have angels, all around you, all the time, guiding you.
I am grateful that you continue to write, adding to each others flame of joy :)
Great blog post, and look forward to seeing where else God leads you :)
I love what you (and Pascal) have to say about imagination, growth, glimpses of heaven and Jesus feeling our pain. So much wisdom wrapped up in this comment, Matthew. Your continually seeking heart and mind reveal a man who knows who he is in God and is living a life of gratitude and service to others. Thankful to know you, brother, and thanks for the share, too.
thanks! Since imagination is how we look and perceive the world, we can mold it, by what we are reading, and putting into our thoughts. Great post :)
Reblogged this on PulpFictionMe.
Happy 40th, Dear. I turn 40 next month and can relate to so much of what you share here. May God continue to bless and keep.
Happy early 40th to you, too, Brandee! I believe God’s got good things in store for you. Bless you, friend.
Ashley – you are about the warmest sweetest thing I know, and oh-so-generous with your space and life. But I hear you when you ask “where do I draw the line?” That is an ongoing issue for me even at 55 and in my home alone most days. Amazingly, I sometimes do my thing and feel guilty for doing it. As if I should be doing something for my family who is mostly on their own. This guilt cannot be from God because surely he wants us to express our God-created-in-his-image self. And then we also have a family to love. Much to give to him in prayer and rely upon him for direction. You are a beautifully pre-approved 40 year old woman in my book! XXXOOO
I love you, Kelly. Thank you for sharing a piece of your journey with me. I absolutely agree that the nagging guilt cannot be of God. You are living out the purposes and plans of this season of your life and making a difference every day. We cannot do this perfectly, but it seems when we feel guilt/shame about what we are not/are not doing, we deny the gifts being given to us to live now. It’s one thing to feel a stirring to move forward and care in a specific way and then do it, but it’s an entirely other thing to feel that we’re just generally not enough all the time. I’m figuring this out as I go, and I’m praying for you — that you would walk in new freedom and hope in this area today. Grateful for you!
I love this so much friend. So much beauty here, in your quiet, listening heart. And i absolutely love your selfies. Gorgeous. Love you.
Thank you darling, Nacole. Giving thanks for you.
Your selfie is perfect, lovely friend. I don’t even see the blur, which is kind of ironic, huh? We seldom see the blur in others the way we notice it in ourselves. These words you write are absolutely packed with truth and honesty and evidence of a heart that is always pushing to grow. When I read this, and everything you write, I feel once again, “This is one I’m so honored to call my friend. She pushes me to become a more true version of myself.” I also resonate with your “neurotic” side, as I think you’ve already caught onto ;-) Yes, there’s always something, eh? I love you dearly.
Honey, you humble me. ‘Tis good to be neurotic with a dear friend, isn’t it? :) And I love what you say about the blur…isn’t that just so true. Seeing you in beautiful focus today. I love you.
Loved this post. I can relate on so many levels. The one is the thought of losing myself as I pour out to my children. I guess it really is about trusting God to do His work in us, to bring us to maturity. Some periods are more difficult than others! We were just starting to turn a room into an office for me when I became pregnant with Ainsley! Someday I will have an office, but her nursery is one of my favorite rooms in the house- those unexpected gifts. I find they are the ones that peel back my selfishness.
(I hope this made sense. :) I find that I am very tired and disjointed tonight!)
I could have just left it with, I love this post! :)
Oh, Becky, I absolutely understand what you say. Ironically, this room is my youngest’s old nursery, and there’s such peace in this space. All the love poured out in this room…it is giving back to me even now. Thank you for helping me make that connection. Yes, I so get the peeling back of selfishness that you speak of here and the trusting God to allow it all to unfold. It seems less a containable science and much more art in the Maker’s hands. He’s got us. Much love to you.
This is one of my favorite posts I’ve read. I think you’re great and I love that picture!
So happy to see you here, dear Jody, and thank you for your encouragement. :-) Looking forward to next month with you and the MOPSters.
I love how honest you are with your mamma. That struck me, all through this piece. How you could openly tell her that you’re afraid of seeing something rise within you. That is beautiful. What a lovely relationship. And 40? It’s going to be stellar. I can feel it. :)
I’m grateful for this new season for sure and for the relationship I share with my mama. Gifts everywhere.
Stopping by from #tellhisstory today and I just loved your honesty. I can relate in many ways to your words, the wondering, celebrating, desiring a space of one’s own.Blessings to you. May your 40th be the best year yet!
Thank you, Zohary. I appreciate hearing those places of resonance…it can get a little wiggy up in my head. :-) And thanks for your lovely 40 wishes. Grateful for your presence here.
May this year be your happiest ever, may it find you fulfilled and full and fulfilling all the will and purpose of God. The beauty of Jesus is seen in and through you, Ashley. Your words at Faith and Culture were so God honoring and a real blessing to me and they are in this space too.
Elizabeth, you bless me. So thankful for you…and looking forward to that coffee date!
Absolutely everything about this is beautiful—your writing room, your smile, your scarf, your truth. I’m so proud to be your sister. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me, and most of all for helping me “draw near”.
Sissy, the pride is mine, too. Grateful for the ways we teach and inspire each other into adulthood. You are such treasure in my life. (And thanks for the scarf, my resident fashionista! :-) ) I love you!
Yes to all of this, Ashley.
My favorite line is this: So this can’t be about my short view.
Simply and wonderfully true.
I receive the gift of your “me too.” Love walking through the joy and craziness of life with you.
If we were having coffee and you were speaking these words to me, I’d just be nodding. Drinking, nodding, maybe a “Yes!” now and then.
Someday we’ll get that coffee date in person. Until then, lifting a cup to you, dear Tresta.