Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Bless Your Hands

My Little Dragon Slayers,

There are times that we are sitting down, cuddled up on the couch, and I just stare. I stare at your hands. I remember how small they were when you were born. Soft wrinkled skin stretching along slender fingers curled into a fist. Fingernails thin and delicate and long from nine months of growing. Soon those fingers opened and found me, wrapping around my pinkie, holding tightly, keeping us connected. You would grab on while you nursed and waves of emotion would watch over me as the enormity of being your mother hit with each squeeze of your hand.

Today your hands are bigger. Your nails are sometimes short, sometimes much longer than they should be for now you are far too busy to sit and let me clip them in any dignified manner. They have hints of pink and red and purple and gold nail polish because now you have opinions and feelings about how your hands should look. And underneath those fingernails I can still find, no matter how hard you try to wash, bits of yesterday’s painting or sandbox digging or coloring.

You place your palm squarely on mine, and so much of my hand is covered by yours that I can hardly believe it. When did you grow up so much? As much as I want to stop this, even one frozen day where you can stay this way without growing, I bless those hands.

Photo Credit: Ms. Phoenix Flikr Creative Commons http://bit.ly/1l0Knoc


I bless your hands, my daughter. I bless the art they create. The pictures you draw, the landscapes you paint, the portraits you fashion. I bless the play dough masterpieces. I bless the way they spread glue and marker and chalk. I bless the vision you bring to life, the visual representation of an active imagination. I bless it all.

I bless your hands, my daughter. I bless the towers they build. The Lego skyscrapers that you painstakingly replicate – a Chicago girl should be able to build the Sears Tower. The skyline of the city built in blocks. The houses and castles that house your dolls so you can put on shows. I bless the way your hands engineer worlds both real and imaginary.

I bless your hands, my daughter. I bless the other hands they hold. When you link your palms when crossing streets. When you use them to reach for your sister when she trips. When you gently rub the back of the one who falls down. When full of strength they lift her up. I bless the way your hands show love to others.

I bless your hands, my daughter. I bless the way they hold pencils and scribble down words. The way you place letters together to make words and use them to show us new worlds that only you know. I bless the way they show how much you are learning.

I bless your hands, my daughter. I bless the way they grip when you climb the rock wall, each time higher and stronger. I bless the way your hands hold firmly on the mat when you practice that cartwheel over and over and over. I bless the way you grip the monkey bars, each time getting just a little bit farther. I bless the way your hands show your strength.

I bless your hands, my daughter. The hands that are strong and gentle. The hands that are made to hold swords. The hands that will go into battle to fight for others. To fight for you. Don’t let others tell you what your hands can and cannot do. You know, even now, whispers of what you were created to do. You know your value. You know your worth. And I will be beside you always, whispering to remind you.


I bless your hands.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hashtag, Mom of Boys

If you don’t know, I am the mom of three wildly imaginative and independent young girls. They have a wide range of interests that include everything from fairies to construction projects. We start some mornings in long flowing dresses that we accompany with our foam swords and pirate scarves. We build castles out of Legos and cities with our train tracks and blocks for our dolls to live in. We sit on the sofa and cuddle under soft blankets as we read stories about Olivia, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Aslan. We go to the park and see how high we can climb that one tree that whispers to us. We paint and draw and color. We rescue each other from “bad guys.” We write stories and put on plays, fashion shows, and highly choreographed dance routines. We challenge each other to games of basketball. We take ballet and tap class. We go to soccer.

Photo Courtesy of Austin Upton http://asharedlens.smugmug.com/Free-Stock-Photography-/Food/Food/i-2pMNphS/A


We do these things, because those three, wildly imaginative and independent young girls are growing into something. They are growing into…..adults.

Yes, someday these girls of mine will be adults.


But because they are females, they are also going to face challenges.


It is sobering and it completely affects how I parent my girls. I am raising my girls to be brave and bold and daring and kind and truthful. I am raising them to be the person they were created to be. I am raising them to go after their dreams. I am raising them to make the world a better place. I don’t want these statistics to follow them into their teen and adult years. I need them to be strong. I need them to be able to use their voice. I want them to feel safe.

So can I let you in on a secret? Not many things get me going like the hashtag, “mom of boys.”

Seriously.

“Started my morning stepping on Legos.” #momofboys
“Found a car in my pocket.” #momofboys
“Look at all the blocks and train sets.” #momofboys

Look, I get it. You are raising men. Your experience of coming alongside your children may be different than mine. I don’t want to minimize it or gloss over it. But for those of us who are raising preschoolers and young elementary aged children, do we really have to start all of this now? Really?

I know you. I know you care about women. So I don’t understand why we start giving the message to little kids that leaving out Legos or playing with cars or trains is something that at the age of 4 is relegated to those children who have a penis.

Can we put our cards on the table here? When you use the hashtag, “momofboys” when describing behavior that has been traditionally attributed to boys, you are enforcing the stereotypes that boys do “this” and girls do “that.” It’s wrong. And it hurts girls. You would not believe how often my little girl questions an activity because she’s been told by classmates that it is something that “boys” do.

Moms of boys, I need you. I need you to raise children alongside me. I need you to teach your boys girls can play with Legos, trains, and cars. I need you to raise boys who will ask my girls to join in on a game of soccer or tag. I need you to raise boys who will let my girls dig tunnels in the dirt with them. I need you to raise boys who don’t have preconceived ideas of what my girls can and cannot do. Because I am raising my girls to play with your boys. And they will play cars and Legos with them. They will get dirt underneath their fingernails and they will steal the ball from them in a game of basketball. But they might ask them if they want a spot of tea beforehand. I want that to be okay.

I want to celebrate you, moms of boys. I want to encourage you. I want to support you. I want your boys to know that they can do whatever it is that they want to do whether it is sports or art or playing dolls. I want us to sit together and share stories of raising children. I want us to be able to nod in agreement, even if you have a boy and I have a girl.

I go back to those statistics, the ones that haunt me. And they won’t change, not unless we work together.

How about instead of spending time reinforcing these ideas of what boys and girls do, we spend that time teaching them to see the inherent value in all people. How about we allow room for emotion. How about we speak up when we hear someone perpetuating stereotypes.


How about we raise….people.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Were Born for Such a Time as This

My Little Dragon Slayers,

I whisper it in your ear whenever I get the chance, “You are so smart and full of imagination. You can do ANYTHING you want to.”

“I know, Mom,” you say smiling, yet slightly exasperated, “You tell me that all the time.”

You’re right, I do say it a lot, but your momma has to, because the world is whispering something else every time it gets a chance. The world whispers to you that you aren't good enough. That you aren't strong enough. It will tell you that there are things you can’t do because you are growing into a woman. There will be notes written on napkins saying you can’t be a pilot with a "nice Bible verse" scribbled down. There will be roadblocks and bumps along the way. You’ll be offered pay less than what a man will receive just because you are born a woman. You will be criticized and judged for the length of your skirt and the type of bathing suit you wear; for how much makeup you might wear and the way you choose your to wear your hair. They will tell you to find your place and play nice. Some of those voices will even be within the Church. You are born into a society that still doesn't value you the way that your Creator does.

Last weekend I watched the Academy Awards and they showed a 3:30 minute montage of famous heroes from cinema and of those 3:30 minutes maybe 30 seconds showcased women. They’ll say it’s because there aren't as many women heroes in film, and while there is some unfortunate truth in that, there is a bigger reason. What I’ll say is this - deep down, in places that people don’t want to bring to light, they are scared.

They are scared that to see what you can do. They are scared to see what will happen when a generation of women rises up, unfettered and unaffected by the shame they try to heap upon you. They are scared to see what happens when the burning passion that God put in you comes out, joined not just by your sisters in blood, but through the Sisterhood that you know nothing of yet.

You, my loves, are a generation of heroes. Don’t believe the lies. Don’t let them tell you that women aren't heroes. You are the hero of your own story and of countless stories yet to be written. Here is your bow and arrow. Here is your sword and shield. Tell me what you want to make happen and I will help you find your tools.

Photo Courtesy of Jenifer Upton
 http://asharedlens.smugmug.com/Free-Stock-Photography-/People/HandsFeet/i-Mk7DmjH/A

You want to create a masterpiece? Here are your paints. You want to write stories? Let’s gather your pencils and paper. You want to build buildings? Here are some Legos and blocks and now let’s learn about them. You want to be strong and master that cartwheel then go up the climbing wall? Then baby, let’s practice. You want to speak out the words that God is burning onto your heart? Here's the mic. Your momma will not rest until you know deep in the marrow how you are capable and so very talented. I will whisper that mantra to you until you know the gifts God has placed in you; I see them, I affirm them, I bless them, and I will help you bring them to fruition.



You come from a long line of women strong, bold, loving, kind, and fearless. A line of women who have purpose and passion coursing through their veins and the fire of God in their eyes. Their DNA runs through your veins. Do you feel it?

You come from Deborah, the Mother of Israel, the Judge, who led an army to victory when others were unsure and scared.

You come from Mary who heard the voice of God and dared to allow herself to be ridiculed in order to birth the Future.

You come from Junia, an apostle called “outstanding.”

You come from the prophetess Anna, who called out to God and was greatly rewarded for her faithfulness.

You come from Queen Esther, who was born for such a time as this.

Oh, loves. There are so many more. So many more.


Girls, you were born for such a time as this. Do you feel it? Are you ready? Here are your swords.

Let’s go.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash

Photo by Tony Upton


Tonight I will walk into my church. Through dim lights I will find my seat and be surrounded by others to begin this season. I will listen to the reflection given and I will confess my sins. I will walk through the Stations of the Cross. I will receive ash upon my head. But I don’t need to wait until tonight to see the ash rubbed in my skin. I carry it with me each day. I feel it through everything I touch. The dust won’t come off. It has left a shadow etched into my skin and deep into the marrow.

The dreams I had, ones whispered from God Himself. Doors slammed. Plans changed. Left turn after left turn. Burnt. Ash.




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