Lean Into the Light, Pictures From A Nutcracker Birthday {and Gratitude}

My little Lilly,

this light that came into our life as a complete surprise, you bring joy in the dark places of me and how could I have known? Because if you'd never come, I'd have gone on with life as usual, towing the three kids, never knowing there was supposed to be a fourth one, the one to plow up the bad soil of me and make my innards sing, light bursting through the fragments of my heart.

We celebrated the third year of your fresh, young life and yes, I wanted it to be an affair to remember--I admit I did--a beautiful celebration of the day you were born.

I regret that well, I may or may not have been a little too involved in the baking and preparation. But I'm a creative being, and I want to celebrate you and God and goodness and His holiness and this creation and all the wonderful brightness there is in your smile and your laughter and the sun and the warmth I feel when we're together.

How long do I really have, how many times will the hands go 'round the face of time before it ceases its race and I find myself bored, you having flown off?

When will time just run out?

I have a secret to whisper to you, baby girl--I. am. afraid.

Afraid you'll grow and I'll miss it. I'm afraid it'll happen while I'm folding clothes, while I'm running, gardening, or pursuing any number of things that make me happy.

And God forbid I should miss you while I tap away at my computer, or talk to people through screens.

But the truth is, all of that will happen. You'll grow while I put shirts in the drawers, while I talk to my aging grandmother on the phone, and yes, even while I write.

And the real nugget here, dear girl? You need me to do all of those things--even the things that make me sing-on-the-mountaintop-happy.

You need me to be an example to you of how life is lived.

Mothering is such a delicate balance of living a life of example before you of what a woman should be and throwing example out of the window for an impromptu game of tickles and giggles underneath bed sheets in mornings softest rays of light.

And darling, how I love running around in the grass chasing you, the sun shining down upon us.

How I love when time slows down as I watch the light dance in your pale wheat locks. As time slows, all I can see is light around you, on you, in you, it's in every part of you and it is you. The light.

And only you could do that for me, girl.

How I love lying in our hammock in the summer barefooted, you piled in with your sisters while I read to you in low tones 'til it's late afternoon and our eyelids droop and threaten to close.

And in the winter you are the only shaft of light in the dungeon of dark, rainy cold that creeps into this old home through holes and cracks. The way you bounce around the house, your halo blonde waving as you run in your tutu, you remind me that good still exists in life.

I admit I am afraid, child.

I know I will miss you once you are gone. I fear walking around in circles, trying to figuring out what's missing and knowing all too well what is wrong, my hands with nothing to do, my heart bursting to give and all I can hear is the silence and the clock echoing on the wall.

I know the day will come.

And for now, sweet, sweet Lilly, I want to pull you close and whisper in your ear, how that really, we don't have to fear.

I want to tell you this secret, sweet child. Listen close. Love conquers fear. The wild, forgiving seventy-times-seven, going the extra mile, makes no sense kind of love.

The love that turns the other cheek, the love that washes over with grace and counts no wrongs and leaves wide open spaces to be ourselves, and believes the best always no matter what, even when mistakes are made, and doesn't want what God hasn't given and doesn't worry about tomorrow--that love drives out all fear.

And so, little one, I have told you the best secret of all. I have told you the only truth you ever really need to know.

And now you know the whole story. So lean in close to me, and let's be fearless together.

Let's lean into our Father. Lean into the light, child, always into the Light.

Starting up counting gratitude here once again:....#1037-1048
For writing again...
For finding my voice...
For chimes singing a wind song for me...
For being quiet enough to hear...
Hearing my little Lilly say so many words...
How they fill up the silence with glory...
How she  teaches me to listen...
For Husband encouraging me to come outside in the sunshine
Walking around the deadened, rain-soaked yard, looking at all things that were once alive that are now dormant and cracked
Really seeing the state of things for what they are
Hoping for spring
Hope itself

                              Pictures from Lilly's Nutcracker themed third birthday party:

Linking with Ann in the gratitude community.....


and Emily...


  1. so glad you're back to writing, too. i've missed you.
    thank you for painting this picture of your daughter. you've shared with the whole world here, and we've fallen in love right along with you.

  2. I LOVE your nutracker birthday party - and the sweet words for your daughter. I miss my boys little like that - when they grew literally as I folded those clothes, baked those birthday cakes, created celebration moments. It's not the nest emptying out (8 -12 more years) that fills me with - it's the missing of the little love that was so big - I miss that!

    Glad you are back, Nacole- so glad you have found your voice and that the poetry is still in that voice!

    1. Mary leigh, I am so happy you still come around and hang with me, friend. I love to see you here--it makes me smile. Thank you for your words, always so kind and nurturing--they are salve to the soul. Love you. xo.

  3. Look at this! Such love in your mama heart, evidence through your hugs, your words, and that amazing party. She is blessed to have you. And as you watch her grow, as I watch my children grow, I pray that we would not miss anything He has for us.

  4. Hey there...I am glad you have found your voice...you and lilly together...and I love poured out into her through this lovely celebration...and Nacole...yes love...love of the Father for us does conquer fear...as you continue to grow in His love for you...you will pour out that love on your children. xoxox to you sweet friend.

  5. So good to hear your voice again!

  6. Beautifully said. The joy of daughters knows few comparisons! I love the birthday theme- how cute!

    1. Thank you so much, for visiting, Joy, and so nice to meet you. Yes, so many joys in daughters, in mothering.

  7. Yay, so glad to see you back here. A lovely heartfelt tribute to your sweet Lilly. Glad you found your voice again.

  8. What a beauty, yes =, the light glows from her!

    1. His Firefly, I've visited you from Emily's place before, but don't remember seeing a name there--forgive me. *Thank you* for this bit of sweetness. It makes my mother heart glow to know that you see that about her. Glow, she does. Oh, she is so precious to me. She is God's and He knew I needed Him to send her.

  9. Such a gift to have you back- to hear you wrestle and hope and encourage on the page again. And this line made me catch my breath---Mothering is such a delicate balance of living a life of example before you of what a woman should be and throwing example out of the window for an impromptu game of tickles and giggles underneath bed sheets in mornings softest rays of light--- and you've named my FEAR here- the fear that somehow I'll miss it, my little ones growing big and that I'll wish I'd done things differently- that I'd not pursued my own dreams or not spent so much time in the kitchen or... the list goes on and on. But I love what you said about our kids NEEDING us to be who we're made to be. They need to see us using our talents, not burying them in the sand. You've set something free inside of me tonight- thank you. And that precious three year old of yours? I wish I could swing her around in that tutu and listen to her laugh. What a dear gift! She's beautiful like her mommy.

    1. That I've set something inside you free, friend? Oh, sweet Alicia, I'm amazed, shocked, humbled, grateful, I marvel at God. Thank you, Alicia to all you said. I'm so grateful for your encouragement. "I wish I could swing her around in that tutu and listen to her laugh." --You have given me gift in your words. xo.

  10. First time here, loved the contrast between being afraid and being fearless together. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Robert. I'm honored you visited.

  11. Love that you are writing again, and it is amazing what you did for Lily's birthday...so talented, you :) Glad you are showing her what it looks like to lean into the Light/His Love :)

    1. Dolly, I'm so happy to see you here. You are precious to me. xo.

  12. Sweet Lilly! Looks like a beautiful party! Such a balance in all of it, mothering, and none of us does it perfectly, but--if they know they're loved--that's so much. I'm glad your daughter will have your words. I wrote about my older daughter, this week; she'll turn 4 in 3 days. The embodiment of joy, our daughters.

  13. Hi, I'm hopping over from Imperfect Prose's link up. Nice to meet you.

    What lovely photos from your daughter Lily's birthday party. So sweet too your ruminations of not wanting to miss any part of her growing up. It's special, isn't it?

    Jennifer Dougan

    1. Hi Jennifer, I feel like we've met before, either here, or at your place. Thanks for stopping over.



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