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.

Love,

your daughter.

we need your brave

I'm the gal that cries at concerts - regardless if I know the person. I specifically remember sitting up close, hearing Brandi Carlile sing and thinking - yupshe rocks. She is kicking serious butt on that stage. [Tear] It happened again hearing The Lone Bellow.

There's something about sitting in the same space as folks doing what they love - doing what they were made for, that makes me wonder,"Gee, God. Can I be brave like that? What's it going to take? What's it going to mean giving up?"

I have a cousin with fiery red hair - she's gorgeous. She is also an incredible opera singer. On Sunday, she had her master recital. So obviously, our whole family went to cheer her on, it's what we do best. I love that about our family.

As I watched her sing, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. For a moment, I stopped breathing entirely. I waited until after she finished to let out my deep breath.

I swear the room became so small and the light around her so bright that suddenly it felt like there was nothing else in that room anymore - except her voice and that bright light.

She's in it right now God. She's in her moment of truth and beauty. She's doing what she was made for. 

Almost two months ago, my sister became a mother.

And baby boy is growing and changing every second. I held him on Sunday and his little fingers rubbed the hair on my arm. Sweet boy, you didn't do that before. Did you just realize that I have hair on my arms? Do your fingers feel new things?

I wait until I get in my car to cry. I know, he's not even mine. But there is just so much emotion packed up in that little baby, in my sister becoming a mother, in her and her husband pulling away from a church they love to press into a whole new church and ministry.

It makes me weep.

And when baby boy cries or fusses and my sister grabs hold of him, I think that same thing I thought when I heard my cousin sing.

You were made for this sister. This is so you - it's all of you in this one moment. 

There are so many moments like this y'all. So many moments when we see family, friends or even strangers doing the things that make them come alive - whether they know it or not.

I see it in Matthew when he encourages his brothers and friends. I see it when he prays to God. I swear that man has a direct line to Jesus.

I see it in my Dad when he holds a newborn baby or when every single kid in a room drops their toys or blocks and runs to him - runs straight into his legs or wraps their tiny arms around his neck. I see it when he talks about Ireland.

I see it in my brother when he plays his guitar and leads worship and when he holds his son.

I see it in my Mom when she's helping others, while others stand back and watch.

Creativity, humility, and sacrifice live at our core. So often they become covered with other things, but I know dear one, they are there.

And I think we do these things - sing our heart out, take care of others, stand up against injustice because at our core we know we need too, it makes us come alive. 

But we do it for a whole other reason too. We do it to allow others to do the same. We read our poetry, gather people around our table, perform a monologue - we lay our little heart out, every shattered, insecure bit. Just so someone else feels less afraid to lay their heart out too.

I know I need that folks. I need to see others be brave.

Because my first response, over and over again is fear. What are folks going to say, Lord? What will they think? What if I fail?

I care so much about others opinions, that trying - simply giving it a solid chance, isn't even an option. [but, that's a whole other post y'all]

And that has to stop.

Because when we choose fear, we remain motionless - we remain silent. When we choose fear, we deny our very souls to be their most powerful, loving, brave self.

Even if we've never met, I need you to know this: you have beautiful, profound, encouraging words to share. You're song needs to be played. You're prayer to God should be heard. Oh and that trip, to that country, where you could provide necessary skills of healing?

Yeah, you should go do that.

We need your story dear one - in all it's mess and glory. We need your honest voice and passionate, fierce heart.

I ask you friend, what will it take? What does it look like to say yes? What might you need to let go of?

Because I need you to try. And I hope that doesn't sound silly or selfish. But when I see you try, it makes me want to try too.

So let's abandon fear today, even just for a little bit, okay?

And together, I truly believe, we can break walls, we'll move mountains.

And maybe, it'll allow someone else to dig down real deep too, even if it hurts, to shake it off. Shake off whatever lies they've believed and trust that a fearless, loving Spirit lives within them.

It lives within you and me friend. It lives within all of us.

xoxo