Me too

Two of the most beautiful words–

wait.

No.  Right now, in this moment right here, they are THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WORDS EVER to hear from the mouth of another.  Or from the keyboard of someone else.

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ME TOO.

About a week ago I shared a meme on Facebook about how you know you’re a Mama if you keep running the same load of laundry for three days because you keep forgetting to move it to the dryer.

I prefaced it with something like “I will neither confirm or deny.  Ahem.”  See?  Even though I was saying THIS IS ME, THIS IS THE CRAZY I AM AND DO ON A REGULAR BASIS, I was leaving a little bit of doubt so maybe folks wouldn’t really know the CRAZY I am.

Yeah.  Right.  They knew.

It’s scary for me to share things like that.  I like my mask.  I like my doors and walls and staying put behind them.  I joke about parading my crazy on the front porch, but other than some cobwebs that need sweeping up and some old Christmas greens that I should move to the fire pit pile, I really DON’T like to share my crazy that openly.

Still, I shared it because on rough weeks (okay, and maybe not so much ONLY the rough weeks), I’ve been guilty of this.  It struck a chord with me.  It made me laugh.  I had to share it.  Because I get it and because as I’m easing closer to the big five-o, I’m hopeful that with that decade I will find grace to be all the CRAZY that I am and not be so guilt-filled or lost or overwhelmed by it.  That’s what I’m hoping for.

In the meantime, I’m leaking little bits of it here and there.

And you know what?

Folks responded.  Folks I’m close to and folks who knew me when and folks from all over–they responded.  You know what they said?  Nary a one said, “Wow, Tara, get it together. That’s very wasteful.  You are really wasting our natural resources, and one day your grandchildren can blame YOU for their water shortage.  And high energy costs.  YOU.  I can’t even believe that you can’t remember to move a load of laundry over to the dryer before it sours.  Really?  I think I might have to unfriend you…..”

No.  Not one.

The ones who responded were filled with grace.  Most said those magic words:

“ME TOO!”

Last night I wrote about Robert Pine being Chris Pine’s father, and how that discovery amazed me.  I figured I was the last person on the planet to learn of this, and everyone else would think–“Okay, Tara, old news.  Move along.”  But they didn’t.  Folks said, “Me too.”  And I didn’t feel quite so out of the loop.

I’m rambling here.  The thing I want you to take away from my true confessions here is that there is magic in the words “Me too.”  Say them to someone.  Listen to their story and when it resonates with you, when you find a kindred spirit, no matter how broken or crazy or silly the thing is, tell them.  Let them know they are not alone.  Tell them “me too” and watch their face change.  Watch them smile or crumple in grateful tears.  Let them know it’s not crazy to love the things they love or do the things they do or eat the things they eat.  If you can own it, do.  Tell them “Me too.”  Shout it.  (Well, okay, maybe not in every case, you don’t want to scare folks.)  It’s good news to let someone know they aren’t alone.  And some good news deserves to be loud and proud.

Here’s my last point, and I hope you will take this one to heart as well.  If something resonates with you, yes, say “Me too.”  That’s beautiful and powerful and healing.  But when it DOES NOT resonate with you, when you have no idea what it’s like or how someone can feel/think/believe that way, don’t turn your back on that person.  Don’t walk away, don’t yell “Not me” or take off to tell everyone else about what you just heard.  Maybe you can’t say “Me too,” but there’s something else that is just as magical.

Listening.

Respecting.

And the words, “It’s okay.  I’m trying to understand.  Tell me more.”

Powerful good magic that.

We don’t have to have all the things in common to be with another person.  To be comforting.  To lift them up.  Sure the “me too” moments are wonderful and reassuring and really, really good.

But so are the “I’m listening, tell me more” moments.  The quiet moments of just sitting in the ditch with someone who is there simply because she loves you.  She might not get it, but she loves you so she’s there.

That’s good stuff too.

You think so?

Me too.

Love to all.

Where Was Her Biffle?

This afternoon I had the pleasure of being a part of a girls’ outing.  Aub, our Princess, a dear friend, and I went to see “Cinderella” together.  Cooter didn’t want to go, not because it was a Princess movie, but because he had heard about the “Frozen” short film that was to precede the main feature.  He’s so over Frozen, the thought of watching that short was downright off-putting.

We gathered in the lobby and headed down the hall to the third door on the right.  The previews started shortly after we arrived.  And still folks came in and wound their way to find seats in a nearly packed theater.  By the time “Frozen Fever” started, we were ready.

The short was actually cute and entertaining, and I can predict what Disney’s new stuffed critter item will be (spoiler alert–baby snowmen).  Then Cinderella started.  I watched the old and comfortably familiar story; yet I still found myself on edge, wondering what would happen.  Which part would they change, and which part of the story was so sacred that it could not be touched?

Photo via eonline.com

Photo via eonline.com

I enjoyed the movie, once I employed suspension of disbelief.  I think that the enthusiasm of my friend who is the mother of a son was infectious, and I was able to forget about the overall message and fall in love with the beauty and romance and magic.  Our Princess was enchanted, and her eyes shone brightly all through the movie.  She missed nothing.

A time or two during the movie a particular thought tried to surface, but it never quite made it.

Until the movie was over and I was sitting quietly with my thoughts.

Then it hit me.

Where were the people who knew Ella and her family?  Where were her friends?  Their friends?  Surely there was someone who, at some point, thought to him or herself, “Hey, wonder where Ella’s been?  I haven’t seen much of her since her Father passed on. I should really check in on her.”

I wondered where the people were who would feel inclined to pay their respects after his death.  Bring a casserole.  Drop by for a visit. Why was there no one to realize that this girl was being mistreated by the very ones to whom her care was entrusted?

Why didn’t someone notice and do something?

My friend who joined us reached out to me two weeks ago with a message: “Hey, if y’all are going to do a girls’ outing to see ‘Cinderella’ and I wouldn’t be intruding, could I join y’all?”

Absolutely.  It would be our pleasure.  And it was.

It was so good to see her, to sit and laugh over the hideous dresses of the stepsisters and gasp at the wickedness of some in the movie and to agree that we like to sit until the credits are pretty much over.  Most of all, it was good to visit.  To catch up.  To share stories.  To check in with each other.

The greatest gift is that she wanted to be with us, and she said so.

That right there.

How would the story have been different if Ella (Cinderella) had been able to call up a friend and say, “Hey, I would really love to spend some time with you”?  Where was her tribe?  Her friends?  Her “biffle,” as my college girl calls her best friend?

And then the next question is begging to be asked:

Who am I supposed to be reaching out to?  Whom should I be checking in with?  Who has locked him or herself away, and needs a friend to help bring him/her out?

Tonight I’m thankful for my friend who reached out and made time to be with us.  For seeing an age-old story with new eyes and feelings, I am grateful.  In this world of busy-ness and to do lists and running here and there and yon with littles in tow, it is good to be reminded to be still.  Be quiet.  Listen and look.  To check in with those I care about, and help those who need to be free and loosened a little from their worries and woes.  To be a good friend.

Wishing you all someone who will do that for you.

Love to all.

 

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As I was wrapping up writing this post, I saw this shared by Love Wins Ministries, folks who know how important relationships are and work hard to get them right and make a positive difference.  I think this is spot on and wanted to share it with you.  

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Cinderella could have survived locked in the attic, but what kind of survival would that have been?  

Just a thought.  

 

 

 

Making Room for What Is Coming

So it’s Lent.

A season which is confusing at best.

For me, anyway.

My first exposure to Lent and the longest lasting impression of the season for me is one of giving something up.

That was in college when I had a friend who was Catholic.  So we all gave up something. (Ummm, in most cases, I think it was chocolate.)  It was interesting too, because there was the debate of whether or not Sundays counted as part of Lent.

After college, I found my way back to the Episcopal church, where Lenten traditions were observed, and yes, we gave up something, and Sundays did not count.  I gave up sweet tea (clutch my pearls and gasp), which was VERY significant and a challenge for me.  Rather than keeping the tea in the house, on Saturday afternoons, I would ride to town and pick up an extra-large (read half-gallon or some ridiculous amount like that) of sweet tea from Dairy Queen (closed on Sundays) and tote it back home and keep it in the frigidaire until Sunday.  It lasted me all day.  Oh my land,, with all that sugar it should have lasted me a week.

Then there were years I gave up chewing gum.  Another nail biter.  But I made it.  Then there were years that I gave up eating meat during the daylight hours.  That was interesting, especially when I’d go to Mama’s and she made her “green pizza”–spinach quiche with bacon on top.  She would either make me one without the bacon or she’d pick the pieces off my slice.  Mama was like that.  Supporting whatever I had going on.

It was important that I did something each day to focus on the season.  In more recent years, I’ve struggled with healthy eating.  I found out during a book study where we limited what we ate that, while I do not have an eating disorder, it’s best not to mess too much with my eating habits.  It’s a rocky slope.

And so I don’t.  I enjoyed reading the thoughts of a friend about Lent (it’s a must read–you’re welcome), as in we need to create space for what is coming, much like a bird does with a nest.  That I can get on board with.  That is exactly what I need this year.  Creating space.  Quieting my spirit.  My mind and my heart open.  Yes.

A work  in progress, but I’m embracing it.

Some folks are taking the forty days of Lent to get rid of 40 bags of stuff.  That’s ambitious, and I’m impressed.  It terrifies my pack rat, semi-hoarding sentimental self, but for those of you attempting it, you go!  I’m proud for you.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished emptying out a storage unit of things from Mama’s, and then we cleaned up a LOT of stuff (read “we only had a path from the door of the garage to the door of the house” *ack!*) from our garage.  So Imma have to rest on my laurels from that one for a little while, realize I’m okay without all of that stuff, and then I’ll be ready to tackle another pile or closet.  But it  probably won’t happen during Lent.

And I’m okay with that.

The thing about cleaning out our homes and our souls is that a lot of it is trash, isn’t it?  So often it’s not really anything anyone else can use, even though we surely want to recycle it and pass it on.  Sometimes deliberately (with a sad, tired pair of shoes or that Chia pet we never opened) and sometimes not so much (passing on the ugliness and hurt we’ve been feeling).  But it’s still trash.

Nobody wants that Chia pet.

I’m just saying.

Or that hurt and pain either.

Let it go, folks.

Hugh Hollowell shared about some things that had been “donated” to Love Wins, “a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC.”  (Chia pet included.  I can’t even.)  His friends and folks who cared commented, sharing things that well-intentioned people had donated to their missions–expired food items, used bars of soap, used underwear, torn up furniture.

Y’all.  For the love.

So as we clean out our hearts and minds and spirits and closets, let’s remember to let the trash go.  All the brokenness and broken things we’ve tucked away and can do without, so can everyone else.  I’m all about sharing the joy and hugs and encouragement and items in gently-used condition (I love me some thrift shops, y’all know), but sometimes folks are better off if we just toss it in a bag and take it to the dump.  Literally and figuratively.

Others, especially those hurting from their own stories, shouldn’t have to deal with our rubbish.

May we all find something wonderful–joy, a smile, kind words, a pair of gloves, or a much-loved, still lovely blanket–to share with another today.  It’s all about building that nest.  To have room for what’s coming.

Love to all.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

 

The Guy, The Fella, and Where the Healing Begins

So I heard this story about a guy who was disabled.  He couldn’t get up and move around on his own.  He lay there for a long time, not far from what was a known cure.  Years and years.  He would start to move towards the cure, but by the time he got there, someone else was already being treated, and apparently it was a “one at a time–first come, first served” kind of thing.  So he stayed put.  In that same spot.

Then one day this fella who was becoming more well known in the area came along and asked the guy, “Do you want to get well?”

Whoa.  That’s kind of a personal question, right?  I mean, this fella is all in his chili.

True to form (for so many of us), the guy started listing the reasons (ahem-excuses?) as to why he hadn’t made it to the point of getting better.  No one had stopped to help him, he couldn’t do it on his own, someone else was always already there so he hung back.

The fella all but holds up his hand to stop the flow of excuses and says, “Never mind all that.  Get up, pick up your stuff, and walk.  You’re good to go now.”

What?

Yep.  It happened.  And the guy got up and took his stuff and walked away.

Cool, right?

This is the story that was shared in Evening Prayer on Sunday evening.  It’s from the Good Book.  After reading the story aloud, my pastorfriend asked a series of questions that we were to discuss at our tables.  She asked interesting questions about what would healing look like for each one of us?  What did it mean for this guy?

But she didn’t ask the one question I was expecting, the one question I kept thinking about as she read the verses from John 5.  I was expecting the hard question that she has asked us about other stories we’ve read–

Who are you in this story?

I’d like to answer, oh yes, I’m the paralytic, laying there, can’t get up.  Or won’t.  Sometimes there’s not much difference.  And yes, I have been that person.  So comfortable in my misery, in my paralyzing fear that I don’t move and take a step towards healing–yep.  I’ve been there.  The struggle is real.  That struggle to not have my identity be that of the “victim,” but instead to put the past behind me and move on.  Move towards the healing waters.  Move towards a new way of living, without all the pain from the past dragging me down.  It’s hard, and sometimes it’s a daily conscious choice I make to leave it all behind, if only just for today.  And then the next day.  And the next.  It takes work.  No wonder the guy was still lying there after all those years.

But as I was listening, I felt my heart skip a beat, as I realized who I really identified with in the story.  Not willingly, but I saw me there.  And it hurt.  Far worse than the pain of lying in my own story.  I have been the person who has walked on by someone in need, not noticing the guy who might need help getting to a healing spot.  I have been too busy or too self-involved to notice.  Or worse, I’ve noticed, and–this hurts to admit it, but there it is staring me in the face–I’ve walked on by anyway.  After all, I have things to get done, places to be, no time no time no time.

Whew.  That glimpse really hurt me.

As we talked about the story at our table, someone wondered aloud what happened after the guy got up and took his stuff (bedroll) with him.  We continued reading.  Turns out the guy ran into some Jewish leaders.  Their immediate reaction was–Why are you carrying your stuff?  Who told you to do that?  It’s the Sabbath, you are not supposed to carry your bedroll on the Sabbath!

Wow.  We found it surprising that no one acknowledged that this guy who had been over by the water, unable to walk for 38 years, was walking!  You know folks knew who he was, right?  I mean even if he was referred to as “Guy who hasn’t moved in years” or “Guy who won’t get up” or “That poor guy by the water,” folks had to recognize who he was.

And yet, instead of seeing the miracle right in front of them, all they could do is be judicial.  They didn’t celebrate at all.  Not a bit.  They pointed fingers and accused and sounded quite unpleasant to be honest.  What you’re doing is against the law and just who exactly told you to do it, because this is so not okay.

Oh y’all.

Today when I thought back over the story and that part in particular, I began to grieve.  Far too often I am like the Jewish leaders.  There, I’ve admitted it. Too often I look right past the amazing things in life and go straight to critical.

When Cooter shows me a Lego contraption he’s built, and I quickly say, “Oh yes, that’s nice” but more quickly move into the “Why are these Legos all over the floor? You have got to pick these up!”  Or his sister wants to tell me about a story she read, and I’m pushing her to finish unloading the dishwasher so we can get the thing loaded up again.  Or when my oldest tells me about an event she’s excited about being a part of and I’m giving her my recommended do’s and don’ts and safety guidelines, rather than sharing in her joy.

The miracle–I just pass on by it like it’s nothing–and move straight into the criticism and legalistic commentary.

Oh me.

This breaks my heart.

Something else breaks my heart.

The world is mourning today a great entertainer.  Someone who touched so many lives.  All day folks sharing their own stories, their own connections with him as though they knew him.  And I suppose in a way we did.  Only we didn’t know about the struggles.  We didn’t know he could use a helping hand.  Or a listening ear. 

And this part of his story and the story from Sunday night have intertwined in my heart and made me aware–of my shortcomings and how I need to work to see the folks around me.  Really see them.  Take time to listen.  To hug.  To tell folks what they mean to me.  Take time to hear what they really need and not just make assumptions.  I need to stop judging and start embracing, loving, caring.  Who knows what difference one moment of caring and loving and compassion can do?

I know of one moment that made a huge difference.  It’s not my story to tell, so I won’t, but I will share this.  It was because of someone who opened her eyes and saw another hurting so badly he was moving away from the healing fast, it was because of her caring and noticing and taking a moment–because of her, someone I care about very much is alive and well and loving on other folks this very day.  And making such a difference in this world. 

Because she noticed.

I think that may be where the healing begins.

It is with my whole heart tonight, that I think on this and make a promise to myself to notice.  To slow down and take time for what really matters.  I need to let go of things that are superficial and dig deep.  And love. 

May we make each day a day of noticing.  Imagine all the good that could do. 

Love to all. 

 

One Thing You Can Do

Today was an emotional journey for me, but that’s a story for another day.

Because this story begs to be told.  Yesterday.

While I was with my little guy at lunch, I got a phone call from Becca, co-founder of ABAN–the organization in Ghana that transforms litter and changes lives, whom I’m honored to call friend.  We talked about their journey and how far they have come and how excited they are with where they are heading.  Beautiful.  It was wonderful to hear her voice, and I strained to hear every word as I sat in a south Georgia buffet restaurant at the noon hour.

When I got home and took a moment to catch up on Facebook, I saw this video shared by Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/2rgt3x/-bringbackourgirls—rosemary-nyirumbe

In the response to the question, is the “#BringBackOurGirls” helpful, the nun being interviewed, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, answered yes.  We need to shout it.  And often.

We need to care.  If we can do nothing else, we have to care.  And if you don’t, this nun wants to punch you–it’s the most peaceful thing she can come up with.  I love her.  She’s on my “I want to meet” list.  And it’s not as long a list as you might think.

As I pondered the story of the young girls forcefully taken–kidnapped–from their school in Nigeria last month, I thought about the young women of ABAN.  These young women, practically still girls, no longer live on the streets.  In the words from the ABAN website–they care for the whole person.

ABAN operates a 2-year holistic in-residence program in Ghana, Africa, that transitions young mothers out of poverty and off the streets of the capital, Accra. After a series of interviews, ABAN selects 20 apprentices aged 17-22 who show a strong desire to work hard to change their situation.

The coursework focuses not only on education and vocational skills but also on health and well-being. Our curriculum takes into account each woman’s innate sense of self. We believe that her identity, dignity, and ability are significantly molded by the health of her body, mind and spirit and her experience is guided by these principles.

In addition to taking care of the young women, the program also provides for their children.  And it takes care of the environment by upcycling 20,000 water sachets a month.

They are making beautiful things from trash and creating beautiful lives for those that had been left to the streets.

I know it won’t bring our girls back, but supporting ABAN and the work they are doing will protect these girls in Ghana, whose welfare is just as important.  It will provide them an education, a place to live, a future.  For them and their children.  It’s something.

There are several ways to support them.  You can shop for gifts or a treat for yourself.  It’s the season for wet towels and bathing suits and the like.  Their sachet lined bags are perfect for such as that.  I love the looks of their new products too, and I know the blessing bags will be perfect for keeping things organized in my tote bag.

Another way to change lives and the environment is to invest in these young women and their futures by making a one-time or monthly donation.  As of this afternoon, they still needed nine more sponsors of $150/month to be a part of the Annual Sponsorship program.  But even a $10 one-time donation makes a difference–it provides a Sister Scholar with National Health Insurance.  Check out more options here.

There are other ways to support them and be a part of the team making a difference in the education of young women in Africa.  Like them on Facebook.  Sign up for their newsletterHost an ABAN party for your family and friends.  Share their story. None of these cost anything. Tell folks about this program that was started by three college students in 2008 and has grown to include 25 employees, 20 apprentices, and 3 interns on 2 continents.  Amazing.

No, supporting this program won’t bring back those precious girls from Nigeria, torn from their families by the dark and evil in this world.  It won’t change things for them.  I believe, like Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, that we have to care, no matter how far away this might seem to us in this country, and that we have to make our voices heard.  #BringBackOurGirls is one way of doing that.

But supporting the life-changing good work of ABAN will change lives.  It will help them bring girls and young women out of the horror of life on the streets of Ghana.  It will protect them from the evil and darkness that threatens to engulf them.  It will be a turning point for their precious little ones–who may never have to remember or know what it is like to live life with uncertainty, without shelter, and filled with physical hunger and emotional needs.  And fear.

Because someone cared.  Because someone shopped for a gift that changed lives.  Because someone gave generously from their heart.  Because someone clicked like or forward or told their Mama, sister, uncle, best friend’s cousin’s groomer…..the more we share the story, the more impact it can make.  It’s another way of wrapping someone up in our love and offering refuge.  Another way to #bethefeather.

Hashtags are cool, and they can inspire change.

But today I’m throwing out the challenge for us all, me included.  Let’s go one step further.  Let’s do one thing today that can change the world.  One child, one young woman, one upcycled piece of litter at a time.  Let’s put our actions where our hashtags say we are.  The more women and children we share light with, the smaller the darkness in this world becomes.

Love to all.

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This was an interesting read here regarding social media and its impact in this situation.

 A story I shared last year about ABAN, all they do, and how precious they are to me.  Beauty From Trash and Healing Hearts

Fingerpainting, Pulling Weeds, and Getting Our Hands Dirty

Today as we pulled up to Daybreak for Sister Circle, there were two young men pulling up weeds in the yard. I sat there a moment and watched, lost in thought. This was timely, as I thought about their hands and what we were going to talk about today.  As we walked the path to the entrance, I heard them talking to each other. It seemed almost effortless, their bending over to pull a weed and moving across the yard. As they worked in tandem they talked and kidded around and laughed. We waved hello and went inside.

Today I found some fingerpaint to share with my Sisters. It wasn’t what I was looking for but it turns out it was exactly what I needed. Life is messy. If we are doing it right, we are going to get our hands dirty. A lot. And that is what will bring beauty to this world. Getting our hands dirty. Just like those young men. I can only imagine the dirt and the green grass stains of those reaching-for-spring purple flower weeds on their hands. And yet what is the result? A beautiful yard and the satisfaction that can only come from hard work and a job well done.

So we talked. About messy lives. About broken relationships and utility bills being so high they just can’t be paid and worries over illness and children and parents and friends and the world. And we painted. With our fingers and hands. They got dirty. It was interesting to see the different levels of discomfort with actually touching the paint.

Cooter painted his paper and then continued to paint the plate his paints had been on.  His hands were covered.  It took a little while and a bit of scrubbing to get them clean again.

Cooter painted his paper and then continued to paint the plate his paints had been on. His hands were covered. It took a little while and a bit of scrubbing to get them clean again.

And then there was Cooter. Who put his whole hands in and even painted his paint plate after he had finished his painting. He does not mind getting his hands or any part of him dirty. At all. And I think that’s pretty cool.  This is the same child who, when he found out that they are going to put housing in that cleared area beyond the woods behind our house, blew out a huge puff of air, threw his hands up, and said, “Well good! Maybe now our friends with no houses can move in there. FINALLY!!” Precious. Rambunctious perhaps too. But precious. I hope he never loses his love of getting his hands and his life dirty.

Because it can be scary. And hard. And exhausting. We talked today about how we have to pull the weeds in our own lives before we can even thinking about helping someone else. Truth. We are all works in progress.

Tonight I’m remembering my Mama’s hands.  She was never afraid of getting them dirty.  Those little hands were strong, even in the later years, suffering with arthritis in the cold as she did.  She fileted chicken herself from a whole hen.  She snapped and peeled and shelled and shucked and kneaded and patted so many meals’ worth over the years.  She dug in the dirt and planted and helped many plants and children to bloom.  Mama’s hands were full of taking care of others.  It seemed to be her life’s work.  In a broken world where special needs adults need guardians and elderly family members need someone to look after and stand up for them, Mama’s hands were there–for signing paperwork, holding hands, changing mussed clothes and bedlinens, and for sharing love.

I have a writer friend who uses her hands to care, to inspire–she writes her words by hand, words that touch hearts and souls, impart wisdom, and carry us back in time.  She also uses her hands to find little rays of sunshine in fields and woods and give them a new home–sharing light with the world.  Today her hands and arms are covered in a reaction to one of the plants in the “poison” family.  My heart and arms ache for her.  My fingers are crossed and prayers are said for her discomfort to be eased and her body to heal quickly.  And that’s how it goes, isn’t it?  We are in the midst of the brokenness, trying to make things better, to help others who are there, and we often wind up hurt and broken ourselves.  With our hands dirty.

And that’s where the beauty can be seen.  In the darkness.  In the midst of pain and sadness and hurt and feeling lost.  The beauty is that despite all those dirty hands out there pulling weeds, finger painting, touching hearts, holding hands with the sick and the tender-hearted–despite all of that pain–each one would do it again.  My Mama would care for her aunts and her cousin and my Daddy and so many others all over again.  Because of love.  I’m guessing here but I suspect my writer friend would go and rescue those little flowers again tomorrow.  Those young men will pull weeds again, possibly before the grass stains from this time have faded completely.

Beauty is in the strength and courage to walk into a mess and come out with dirty hands and hearts that will never be the same again.

Our Princess loved the finger painting too, but she didn't get quite as messy.

Our Princess loved the finger painting too, but she didn’t get quite as messy.

Miss N's paintings.  The top one is of her and her Mama, who is one of her heroes.

Miss N’s paintings. The top one is of her and her Mama, who is one of her heroes.

Tonight I am thankful for our Sister Circle, for women who share their stories with each other in the hopes of letting others know they are not alone.  I give thanks for the enthusiasm of my littles who were quite thrilled to be included in the finger painting.  I pray they will always be so joyful about getting their hands dirty.  And I give thanks for women like my Mama and my writer friend and so many others, who inspire me to throw off my cloak of fear and walk into unknown territory to dig, to plant, to guide, and to love.  And to get dirty.

May it always be so.

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Please, if you have a few minutes, click on the link above to my writer friend’s blog.  This story is a special one.  She gives us a way for us to walk into heartbreak and shed some light.  Many thanks to my friend for sharing Robin’s story.  Love to all.