6.19.17 Thank you Daddy. Thank you Dad.

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It has taken me a while to write this post. Not because I didn’t have anything to say, but rather, too much. How do you put into words what your father(s) mean to you? How do you even begin? My father, and my father-in-law, have been the most influential men in my life aside from my husband. Married at 21, (and dating for three years before that) we have grown up together, and I feel that we have two full sets of parents that have blessed, influenced, and molded us. 

I realize that most of the world does not have the experience of a father the way I or my husband have. Often (especially in the lives of my students) I am exposed to the painful truths that most children experience some version of cool complacency with a father who was never really there. And for this … my friends … I am so sorry. I wish you could have had my childhood – one that was filled with encouragement, faith, and the safety of knowing you are well and fully loved. 

One of my favorite memories was falling asleep in my father’s arms at a Summerfest concert with Rod Steward wailing away. I must have been three or four-years-old, and I distinctly remember the feeling of curling into my dad, amid all the noise and chaos, and not waking up again until he was carrying me out of the car when we got home. It might seem a trivial memory, but to me, it was foundational. It was the beginning of my daddy nurturing my dreams, literal and otherwise. Since before I could even recognize it, my daddy has been growing my hope, teaching me to wrestle with my imagination, and pushing me to demand more of myself than I would have thought I was capable of. He is the hand I hold in the storms, and the nudge forward when I want to escape. He sturdies my resolve, and pushes me ever on. 

When I met my father-in-law, years and years later, I hoped to love and respect him, but didn’t think I’d need much, as I never had a void in the dad-department that required filling. I was wrong. Throughout the years, my relationship with my father-in-law has become one of a true, dad/daughter bond. When I first met him, his love language was that of service. Doing things like washing my car, and fixing broken things around my house were his way of telling me he loved me. Now he uses words, and oh, how I savor them. A lover of memories, like me, he writes treasures for us kids to savor – listing out scrapbook stories and pieces of childhood I almost feel like I was a part of. He listens to me. He reads everything I  write. He is proud of me as his daughter, and has long since adopted me into his family for real. 

One thing I have learned from both of my dads is what Marie Beyon Ray once said, “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.” They are live-in-the-moment men. Stand up, get knocked down, and stand up again men. They are I’m here for you, I’ll provide for you, I’ll show you how to do the same men.

I wish the world had more men like them. 

Both have epitomized bravery and courage to me. Whether battling occupations or health concerns, finances or relocations, they have remained men of faith and character. Neither has compromised his integrity in times when it would have been so much easier to take the “easy way.” They believe in hard work, in dedication, in family, and in this one, precious life the Lord gave them to live and journey through. I cannot imagine my or husband’s life without their guiding light and I am eternally grateful that God placed them as the pillars of strength in our family. 

Thank you daddy. Thank you dad. 

Elle

6.12.17 13 Years

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Once upon a time, there was a girl who met a boy with eyes the color of sea glass.

I cannot say whether he found her, or she found him, or whether the stars, the tides, or the winds from the four corners of the earth arranged themselves just so – but find one another they did.

Her curious spirit tended his intelligent soul.

He kept her grounded, and she set him free, and they found home within each other’s company.

Days stretched languidly into years and soon the boy asked the girl a question she only needed one word to answer.

Lengths of grace and lace and light accompanied them on the day simple words became divine promises.

And he had, and she held.

Since that time, in their story, there have been days of better, and days of worse … spans of richer and bouts of poorer … occasions of sickness, and stretches of health.

He has loved her, and she has cherished him.

In time two new heartbeats echoed the sound of their own. Two sets of hands swung between theirs, and two sets of feet stepped close to dance.

A new season brought sunlight-filtered smiles, sticky kisses and always, a golden glorious mess. In their most exhausted moments, he smiled a tired, secret smile, which she returned in a sleepy, happy daze.

Every day is imperfect, and beautiful for its mistakes. And every day the girl, who fell in love with the boy with sea glass eyes, is grateful for knowing the safety of his love.

This story has no end, only chapters that edge closer and further toward the brink of forever.

 

 

6.4.17 Voices

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“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.” – Picasso

This past weekend was a first for me. I was asked to speak at a high school commencement. Apparently, I was the senior’s “first and only” choice. I feel that this honor was beyond what I should have been given, but I am so very, very blessed to have been able to speak twenty minutes worth of words. I pray they will arm these amazing young people with the ability to walk into the unknown with confidence. The theme of their year was “Voices.” I wrote this piece for them and ended my speech with it. May we all remember that words have power, and voices are meant to be heard. I love you class of 2017.

Always,

Elle

VOICES

It seems as though with every voice

there is a choice inlaid between

Of who I was, of where I am,

of how I feel, and how I seem

And though my heart may know the truth

foundations built as they were laid

I’ve often wondered if it’s His

or my own thoughts when I have prayed

I know heaven speaks in whispers

but my ears are set to shouting

So although I know He hears me,

I still end up lost and doubting

Like an apparition’s presence

all reflections become haunting

And I cannot trust my conscious

because suddenly it’s daunting

Weighted down with life’s decisions –

my mind a game of pitch and toss

Now the answer lies behind me

under the shadow of a cross

And in silence, when I’m broken

my healer finds and tends my scars

Knitting me right back together

atoning light, beyond the stars

A breath of life, His words redeem

and wash my spirit clean to light

There can be no more fear of dark

when truth has shown me what is right

Drenched with grace I know I’m worthy

raised in hope, my faith has grown

Treading bravely toward the future

the voice I’ll trust will be my own