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I had high hopes.

I cleaned off my laptop and organized my photo catalogs. I was going to blog this baby right, soaking her in, capturing time with my lens and sharing those images with words from the depths of my heart. I was going to have something beautiful for you all now and for her when she grew up.

Those first few months I snapped some pictures, but I didn’t touch my computer any more than I had to for work. I just held her and held her. Then I began to blog in some stops and starts between homeschooling, much baby snuggling, a few speaking engagements to share the miracle God had done in my life, and finishing up the book proposal for my memoir manuscript about our story of pregnancy loss and hope.

I know how you blink and your first wiggly bundle of joy is a teenager and your infant daughter is grown almost nine months. After four children and almost forty years, I know this well and wrote about the swift current of time we are all over-swept by.

But here I am again, feeling not enough and unable to keep up or birth the vision I hold. What am I to do?

Before I have given up, but now I have a daughter. A daughter who I aim to show the way – how to be who you are made to be, how to accept smallness and welcome stillness while keeping the fire of dreams alight.

At the beginning of the summer I sent my boys off for five weeks to Junior Lifeguards. I thought four days a week to myself would result in a flurry of creativity. Instead there was baking for their camp food-contests, meal planning and shopping for the best sunscreen. There was driving them to events and spending long, sunny hours on the beach watching them compete. There were naps with baby girl and sticky popsicles by the pool as soon as my boys ran in the door. There was the biggest fourth of July party ever and campfire after campfire with friends gathered close. This past week there was packing for big-boy trips to rivers and mountains, and dinners to say goodbye. There is nothing I would trade for what this summer has been, and now this morning is a bit of quiet amidst the long and noisy, sunlit days.

So as her head rests on my chest, curled inside the wrap that has held her every day of her little life, with the sweet companions that tea, music and writing have been for us… Now I am trying to find a space to stand in that allows me to share imperfectly.

I wanted to give you her story day by day, a chronology of Joy. But life is a whirling, swirling, beautiful mess of time, and this blog is a place where I can honor that. This is not one of the articles I write for publication with a word count, theme, tone and deadline. This is not my manuscript, where I crafted story arc chapter by chapter. This is the place I can speak truest. Thank you for listening.

Today (and hopefully most Tuesdays) I will write of where I am this very minute. I will write Present Tense Tuesdays so you can see the beauty right before my eyes and share struggles before I have sorted them out safe and sound. It’s ingratitude to leave all that gift on a hard-drive just because I can’t really do it justice.

Then on (hopefully) most Thursdays I will share Past Tense Thursdays (yes in homage to #throwbackthursdays) where I will share bits from my journey already traveled. Most for now will be of this first year of baby girl’s life, but I aim to seek treasure way back when my others were little or even further.

And then on the weekends I find myself writing to her, so as many weekends as I can I will share Letter Writing Weekends with you – my heart for my daughter, post by post.

I don’t know exactly what to do when we realize we can’t keep up… But for me, this is what I walk in for now. I would love to have you join me – your support and sharing in this journey means more than I can possibly say. It really does. And I would love to hear if there are areas where you feel defeated because of feeling you can’t “keep up” with your vision or other’s expectations. Have you found any strategies that give you courage? Any ways to let go of the feeling you have to “keep up?” Let’s all make small steps in freedom together. If it brings us joy, let’s not let doing it perfectly keep us from the beauty.

– images taken by Jesse on July 4, 2017 . Joy in vintage romper handed down by my Mom, me in dress I had maternity pictures taken in for Joshua and Joy, bonnet from Briar Handmade

The notification pops up in my email… A claim for an automobile accident on our insurance.

I was in a fender-bender, but that was months ago. Is this just a follow up? I check the date. It says the accident happened today.

My husband and two of our boys just left for a long early morning drive to a lifeguarding competition. My brain deciphers – they have been in a wreck. Enough time has elapsed for a claim to be processed, but I have not heard anything from them. My heart skips a beat. I call my husband – straight to voicemail. I send a frantic text message – no response.

The next few minutes stand outside of time. What if the unthinkable has already happened? What if there is no way to go back, to see them again, to throw my arms around them and love them like I have always been meaning to. What if their bodies lie cold, or struggling to breath. What if it is all too late?

A couple nights ago my husband and I had flung words like weapons. These fifteen years coming to a head, because we are tired of the brokenness.

When my son’s Lego ship shatters, my husband bends down to mend it, telling him not to be sad when things break, because it means you can find what’s weak and make it stronger. I hear the words and they echo, isn’t that what Ann Voskamp was writing in the book beside my bed – not to fear the broken things, because they are what bring redemption?*

But now I am afraid those broken words are the last ones he will ever hear from me. I call and call – is this voicemail the last of his voice? If he was alive and conscious why wouldn’t he be the one to tell me that the car holding him and two of our sons had slammed to a stop on the interstate?

I sit in silence and wait for my phone to ring. I wait for the hospital or the police officer to call me. It has not been long, but my nervous fingers must again dial my husband’s number. 

He answers. His voice breathes words through the phone. 

“You’re all ok?” I stammer and sob. How can this be? He was lost, but now is found. We have a second chance.

All this whirled in the span of fifteen minutes, because in this modern age automatic emails are sent quicker than husbands can get everyone to a safe spot and call to tell the story.

He realizes the panicked journey I just rode and tenderly reassures me.They drive on and I sit down to drink my tea grown cold.

We have been given a second chance.

What are we doing with our one wild and precious lives? **  I mean really… what are we doing?

He is going to work each day, riding ocean waves and scaling mountains. Our boys are running through their early years, scooping up all they can. I am in the kitchen and driving to the grocery. I am nursing the baby and painting canvases. I am walking in the mystery of God, and I am trying to understand how to love broken people through all my brokenness.

We are holding each other with this one life. We are holding on tight. And we must let go each day.

I sit with cold tea in hand and a phone that scared me to death and brought me back to life. I sit wondering like Mary Oliver…

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.”

She says she knows how to pay attention though, how to fall down, how to kneel down and be idle and blessed.

Do I know any of this?

All I know is that when they return home tonight, I will keep on trying to love them as I have always been meaning to.

And I will fail.

And I will pray gratitude for every second chance the new morning light brings.

I will give thanks that we Jesus people live ever in the second chance.

* The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

**from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

When a babe is born, time alters.

We count it in days and then weeks instead of months and years.

There is eating and there is sleeping. Everything grows slow, as our family draws near to greet  our new little one.

At the same time, the clock begins to rush past quicker than ever before as each morning greets a new face, a new body. This newborn growing, is becoming something more every moment, and in that becoming a treasure is also lost. She will only lie a sleeping bundle on my chest for so long. Her arms will grow beyond this swaddling. She will walk and talk, Lord willing someday she will stand tall beside me. Those days will be joy and promise realized. But these hours when she lays all-trusting in my arms, these are fleeting and they are a thin place where God shines through newborn soul.

She is only a few days old when I begin to fear losing her. Not the fear of pregnancy that her body would be lost, but a new fear – of the inevitable. I’m afraid I will not be able to withstand this time coming to a close.

As I sit quiet, hours on the couch with books and tea and her wrapped tight within my arms, I realize I am in a rushing torrent.

I am caught up in the swift river of time, and always have been.

Time is the thief coming to steal and destroy all I know and love. It will take all I hold dear away, even my own body.

And time is the medium through which God births beauty, growing, and relationship. Without time there would been no wedding day, no struggle, no choosing love, no pain of loss leading to breathless anticipation, no birth, no watching this daughter grow.

Ah time you are cruel and you are magic. I can not escape your swift current no more than I can ask the oceans and rivers pulsing through this planet not to be. All I can do is learn the lessons you teach, accept the gifts you bring, and let moments slip through my hands like water. Marveling at the sparkle instead of trying hopeless to stem the flood.

Someday I will step beyond time’s bounds. I can not pretend to know how that will feel, but I trust that the One who created this river and everything it holds has good plans.

For now I embrace and let go. I stand present in these precious newborn days and am washed along by the current to new beauty.

photos taken November 16, 2016

  • Amber - I always enjoy your posts. The picture 3rd down from the top is great. I can see the girl from the woods who used to hang out with me so many summers ago.ReplyCancel

Daughter,

I wait for the morning light to filter through the courtyard trees and into my room. At first just a glimmer and then sliding through the window, across his sleeping form and resting on your soft hair nestled against my chest – lighting up your beauty.

The nights are long. Three we will be here in this room of nurses and plastic beds, magic and new life. These nurses come to wake me every few hours, but I am only pretending to sleep. I am afraid to stop watching you, and my body is still racing from the surge of birth. You are nothing but sleep, and I am all wide eyes taking in every bit of you.

So I wait for the light to come because that means I can stop pretending. It means he will wake and we will smile and talk. Breakfast will come, and I will be able to see you lit by sunlight instead of the dim glow of the hallway’s fluorescent bulbs.

Once the sunshine has bathed him, I hand you off and walk haltingly to the restroom. These are gentle moments – gentle with my healing body and your tiny budding life. Gentle with each other. I return, ease myself into bed, and we gaze at you. We have created again. Our coming together has born fruit – again. We are not always this gentle with each other, but in this morning light I think maybe we can be. We have been used for miracle, haven’t we? We are the Nile and new moon. We are Adam and Eve finding our way. Maybe this birth will be the rebirth of us, or maybe you will be one more thread stitching us together.

If we are gentle maybe we will hear all that we are meant to be. Maybe if we are gentle we will forgive as we have been forgiven.

Either way, I wait for the morning light so he will wake and smile at me. Daughter what more can one hope for in love? A smile morning after morning all these long and beautiful years. I will pray you know this too one day.