Happy Birthday Dad

I showed up to preschool without my clothes on backwards. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it was backwards day and we forgot. My buttons lined the front while everyone else's lined their back. I’m not sure why I remember this, but I do.

I remember the sheer panic and embarrassment as all these tiny humans with big round eyes stared at me. I looked up at you, probably with tears to say, "What do we dooooo?? Dad, you have to fix this."

And so you got to it. You helped me swap my clothes so I’d fit in with my class. You kept me calm. You diffused a serious situation for my four year old self. Of all the memories I have with you, this was my first of being your daughter.

And I’m fairly certain I knew, in the way you responded, in how you were genuinely concerned (even though the matter was really quite small) that you were a person who’d be there. That you’d remain through all the seasons. That there would be nothing I could say or do that would push you away.

I was right.

And while I didn’t know it then, I'd keep looking up to you for help and support, for the big and little stuff and you’d treat it all the same. It was all significant. All of it mattered to you.

When thinking of how to celebrate you, besides a warm apple pie, I thought of the things you've taught me over the past 28 years. I’ve learned a lot from you but these come to mind first.

  • A hot toddy can cure most ailments. If you've never made one, go ahead and get started here.
  • End the day with a really good song, turned up loud, and a cup of tea. Maybe a few graham crackers. And all shall be well.
  • You must visit Ireland. Your heart will never be the same. And if you haven’t been, chances are my Dad would love to take you.
  • When planning a trip, invite family to come. When hosting a gathering, make room for one more.
  • Don’t wait for some perfect version of a man to fall in love with. It doesn't exist. Find the one who is willing to change and be better.
  • You're never too old to pick out the biggest Christmas tree at the lot. And once that tree dries out, invite family & friends over for a bonfire.
  • The key to making a perfect pancake every time -- the one that’s fluffy in the center and crunchy around the edges -- is butter. Always more butter.
  • You are never above any kind of work. If part of your job is to sweep the floors and scrub the toilet, you do it. You show up the next day and you do it again.
  • When your daughter straps a backpack to her back, almost as big as her body, and buys a one way ticket to Nicaragua, let her go. Let her discover that no amount of travel will ever cure the restlessness. She’ll have to figure this one out on her own.
  • When your daughter returns from that trip and has a minor meltdown about a friend inviting her to get a pedicure because it just seems so lavish & unnecessary, don’t tell her to calm down, just hug her. Don’t tell her she’s acting crazy, just give her a hug.
  • When you go out to eat, order a round of appetizers. Ask the server to kindly put in your dinner order once the apps are all done. Don’t rush a good thing like a meal around the table.

Here's to you Dad, I raise my glass. I'm so grateful for you & so proud of the man you're becoming. In the spirit of our favorite place on earth, I'll leave you with this:

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.


your daughter.

Unravel to Begin

Dinner - Maeve-37 (Emily Dean's conflicted copy 2017-07-23).jpg

I started the wee spoon after getting married. It was a blog I wrote on for a while and then took a pause. What began as a season of quiet, turned into a chapter of being afraid to ever begin again.

So I waited.

I waited for some big moment or plot twist to let me know it was time to start. Sometimes it’s not so much us waiting on God but rather us needing to take the first step forward while scared.

Sometimes, it’s about putting our butt in the chair and carving out the space.

It’s about finding our voice again. 

I waited so long that the spiritual piece of abiding wore off. Put plainly, I was scared and paralyzed by fear.

In this story, there was a plot twist, it just didn’t look the way I thought. It was a Saturday. We were hosting friends that night so I was busy in the kitchen making stew, roasted potatoes, and whiskey bread pudding. Two loaves of soda bread were fresh from the oven. Matt and I took a pause from cooking and cleaning to sip coffee on the couch. Quality time and honest talks keep me well. I was tired from the week, feeling depleted, and emptied out. It wasn’t the kind of empty where you filled up to pour out. I was numb and ached to know why.

"You haven’t been writing", he said. You need to be writing.

I became defensive and explained I had been writing. There were countless ideas brewing in my head, thoughts scribbled in journals, and notes on my phone. I’m always argumentative when I know something is true. He was right. I hadn’t written something real in months. I was hiding behind fear, self doubt, and my own inner critic.

I was pointing the finger at circumstance and timing rather than my own discipline and effort.

And then he said it. The sentence that changed everything for me.

“I’m just waiting for the day you wake up, walk down the stairs, and call yourself a writer.”

If you know me, you know I cried.

That’s what you’re waiting for?

He shared how he thought it all along, from the very beginning of our dating. He knew it while sitting in my tiny D.C. bedroom, as I read short stories from the future novel I hoped to write. That was four years ago.

He said he knew it right then and there -- I’m going to marry a writer.

He didn’t tell me because he really wanted me to find it for myself. He wanted me to wake up and walk down the stairs all on my own.

Dinner - Maeve-9 (Emily Dean's conflicted copy 2017-07-23).jpg

I didn’t know it for myself though. I hopped from job to job those next four years - baker, server, college admin, counselor, baker again, and fundraiser. All the while squeezing writing into the margins and assuming it was a silly hobby and selfish ambition. I never once thought it could be my job. I didn’t think I was good enough, I figured there were enough voices in the crowd and I wasn’t qualified to be one of them.

It wasn’t until I sought the counsel of a writing coach and she asked me if I ever thought of my writing as a responsibility to steward. Like maybe the selfish thing wasn’t writing but choosing not to write.

Thus began the unraveling and the fact that writing was not merely a “thing” I liked to do but a way in which I viewed the world. The way I offered and received. It was my ministry and prayer and act of worship.

But back to my husband and this ordinary Saturday.

In that moment, he saw me. He reminded me who I was. I felt known and fought for. It was as if someone had holding in the palm of their hand the most sacred and hidden parts of my soul that were thirsty and tired. They pulled them up and out so I could see just how withered they had become. They weren’t dead or gone just in need of space, water, and air to grow.

The people who love us will speak truth and powerful reminders and get frustrated when we don’t follow through. Out of the belief we are sitting on something precious that needs to be shared.

So when my husband said this to me, it was as if he called me by name. It was as if he reminded me of the person I had always been and needed to fight to keep.

It was that loose string dangling on a sweater. The one that makes the whole thing come undone into what it was before someone molded it into something they thought it should be. In that moment, I unraveled. I felt raw and exposed. Not in the way when you share something vulnerable and wish you hadn’t but rather when someone looks you in the eye and reminds you to listen to God’s whispers. When someone takes you back to your roots and the places that need pruning and tending.

I know I keep starting and not following through here. I know I’ve written and then kept quiet.

I want you to know I’m here to stay. I’m not going anywhere. I’m scared but hopeful. Now is the time. I’m all in.

I want you to know you belong here, please pull up a seat to the table. This is more than a blog, it’s a space for us to gather. A place to encourage and equip us to run after the dreams on our hearts. A place to practice relentless hospitality and listen to each others stories. A place to slow down and be still amidst the chaos and hustle of life.

This space is my full heart and offering. I’m so grateful to be back & I’m so glad to have you here with me.

Photography :: Hilary Hyland // Styling :: Margaret Dodson