12.11.19 Being “Bella”

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Being “Bella” is a state of being that I have embraced since the birth of Bella Grace. I have never been so fully captivated by a people group, perspective, or purpose than I am every time I hold these stories, poems, images, and emotions in my hands. Bella Grace has satisfied a longing within my writer’s spirit to contribute to a larger body of voices that empower, inspire, and protect dreamers such as me.

If you too have coveted being a part of a community … let this be your tribe. Join the writers, photographers, idealists, and storytellers. Join the relationships, romance, beauty, and promise of something magically beyond the scope of the everyday. There is a reawakening that happens when you belong to more than that which fills your days – overflow them with grace personified in pages.

This Bella Grace’s winter issue is as enchanting as the season itself. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my piece, “Winter’s Undoing.” Please drop me a line, as you, dear friends, have become some of my most precious.

All my love Bellas,

Elle

11.19.19 Not Alone

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“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
Margaret Mitchell

Sometimes I think that I have it all figured out … and then I realize that I absolutely don’t. I’m not sure if I’m caught somewhere between fate playing with destiny, God trying to teach me a lesson, or the devil trying to mess with me. Am I alone in finding it difficult to tell the difference? Like the weather that is forty degrees different from one day to the next, so too are the waxes and wanes of how my days progress. I can feel like I’m completely “there” one moment, and completely “lost” the next.

Maybe it’s a way of staying humble? Maybe it’s a reminder that we are dependent on more than our own strength? Maybe it is just life! Regardless of what it is, or who it is, I want you to know that if you are too tired to fold the laundry … you’re not alone. If you are about as mentally capable as a celery stalk … you’re not alone. If you are thanking the Lord for the invention of frozen pizza on a Tuesday night … you’re not alone. If you are maybe grateful for the STILL leftover Halloween candy because you just need it today … you’re not alone.

Never.

No matter what your mood.

No matter what the weather.

No matter if you are a million miles away …

… my friends … thank you for being at the other end of this post, reading my silly strand of words and reminding me that I’m not alone either.

Elle

10.5.19 More of Her

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“Nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.” Calla Quinn

No one is perfect. There’s no denying that … and yet it seems some are a bit closer to it than the rest of us. Missing someone seems to wear the edges off all of their imperfections too. So at this point – both my memory and my heart have nearby made her perfect.

I know I’ve spoken of my grandmother before, but sometimes I feel I need to talk about her just to bring her closer to me – to the forefront of my mind as if she is present company and not past.

My gram loved the beach. She loved it, I imagine, for the same reason I do … because looking at it makes the world seem big, and our problems seem small. I think the water-washed shore and scrubbed sand gave her peace in a way that ordinary days could not. She loved seashells and the color peach. Hawaii was her dream-come-true. She loved too-loud music and bending the rules without breaking them … well … maybe just a few.

She lived ninety-six years and I don’t think it was nearly long enough, because the world needed more of her. More giggles. More late-night movies. More wonder. More awe. More long hugs. More confetti kisses. More lullaby songs. More kitchen waltzes. More being her granddaughter.

I feel an immense responsibility to live with intentional joy because of her. I know my mother feels it too … and what a grand commission she inspired. I hope someday I’m half the fun she always was. Equal measures of sugar and spice – today I just want more.

9.7.19 37 Already Wished and Answered

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“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”
Francesca Lia Block

I believe in wishes … but what’s more … I believe in wishes that come true because, well – life! Is life and the living of it not a wish-come-true? Because every single day is a do-over, a do-better, a try-harder, a dream-bigger, and a chance to discover a finer rendering of your own superlative self!

Here, on the eve of my 37th birthday, I am captivated by the wonder of all the wishes of mine that have already come true. So on tomorrow’s set of candles … I just may send up a prayer of thanksgiving for all things already wished and answered.

  1. A husband I adore
  2. Two earth-dwelling children sent straight from heaven
  3. A mom and dad who are my #1 fans
  4. The perfect look-up-to-my-whole-life sister
  5. A cousin who’s closer than close
  6. Nieces and nephews galore!
  7. Best friends who’ve loved me forever
  8. New friends who want to invest in relationship
  9. Friends who live around the world, but somehow found me anyway
  10. Experiencing first love
  11. Healing from a broken heart, more than once, and finding who I was alone
  12. Getting proposed to in the most romantic way
  13. Receiving a second set of parents who are so much more to me than in-laws
  14. Walking on a green sand beach in Hawaii
  15. Meeting dolphins on an uncharted, drop-you-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean swim
  16. Holding a baby lion
  17. Discovering the wonder of literature and stealing time to read
  18. Having the time-of-my-life with my grandmother
  19. Having the honor to hold her before she traded this life for her next
  20. Becoming a dancer
  21. Having Lillies of the Valley in my wedding bouquet
  22. Owning our own home
  23. Getting lost in Italy
  24. Horseback riding in Umbria
  25. Climbing the Eiffel Tower
  26. Exploring the South of France
  27. Watching a Mediterranean sunset
  28. Coming home to a houseful of pets
  29. Becoming a teacher
  30. Getting a Master’s Degree
  31. Having students who still reach out to me
  32. Being told I made a difference in a life
  33. Building a relationship with my grandfather
  34. Writing for Bella Grace Magazine
  35. Having children’s books published and about-to-be published (Spring!)
  36. Waking up each day grateful to know God is holding my life in His hands
  37. Never having grown up or given up on the impossible possibility of dreaming

What wishes of yours have already come true? Words are my favorite gift … would you reply and tell me one of your best “already wished and answered?”

All my love and wishes,

Elle

9.1.19 The Cost of Hope

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“Sometimes I think I might be a bit of a naive optimist, a bit of a wishful thinker … In a world where light blinks out, where forecasts dim, I imagine that hope really might conquer all … if only a few more people looked for it.” – Elle Harris 

 

This quote is a small snippet of my newest piece in Bella Grace Magazine. Fresh to the local bookstore stands, this bookazine, as I’ve come to call her, is just stunning. From Autumn-crisp colors to inspiring quotes, photographs, and articles, I hope you’ll find half as much joy reading it as I did being one of the writers.

This piece in particular meant a great deal to me because I wrote it soon after the passing of my grandmother. I realize that being in my mid-thirties, I was lucky to even have her this long, but logic and the heart don’t always coincide. I miss her every day. And yet, just as the poem shows, life takes turns with our emotions. If my grandmother taught me anything, it is to pursue joy and hope at all cost … and if believing in hope costs you everything, well, then it is still well worth it.

I hope this fall season has you believing in the beauty and magic of this extraordinary, ordinary life.

All my love,

Elle

7.23.19 I Wish Him …

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There are some wishes-come-true that are too powerful not to have come straight from heaven. He is, and has been, my most precious wish. I remember, twelve years ago today, meeting a tiny blue-eyed wonder who stole my heart with a single sigh. My heart, heavy with the fears that accompany infertility, suddenly found its way back to beating … and the breath I’d been holding in hope became a thousand colorful balloons finding their way to the sky.

I know he’s nearly a teenager now … I know we are supposed to butt heads and grapple with misunderstandings. I know that I’m not supposed to “get” him, and he’s not likely to care about what his mom thinks – but that’s just so not us. This boy … this wonder … is truly one of the best friends in my whole life. He’s intelligent, considerate, and kind. He’s protective and intentional in conversation. When I’m happy, chances are he’s the source of my laughter, and when I’m sad he won’t let me off without acknowledging whether or not I’m okay. We love pirates and pretend, random facts and Neverland. I love the way he loves his sister. I love the way he looks up to his dad.

I love him. Simply – and infinitely complex.

On this … his twelfth birthday, I thought I’d make a few wishes for him … one for each candle he blew out today.

  1. I wish him effervescent joy like he brings to others.
  2. I wish him confidence in times of chaos and calm.
  3. I wish him the freedom to always escape to his imagination.
  4. I wish him a lifetime of Sandman-sweet dreams.
  5. I wish him truest friendship in and of every age.
  6. I wish him the love that has no barriers or boundaries.
  7. I wish him fulfillment in each of his pursued endeavors.
  8. I wish him a thousand unexpected adventures.
  9. I wish him tenacity when life does what it does, and tries him.
  10. I wish him experience that leads to both humility and wisdom.
  11. I wish him accomplishment that bears pride in helping others.
  12. And most of all, I wish him faith borne of heaven’s wings.

 

6.4.19 Esse Quam Videri

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“Esse Quam Videri” 

So our family is about to embark on a new adventure … we are moving from one part of these amazing United States to another. We’ve never before been out of the Midwest and now? We are about to be Southern y’all! The problem is … I love people too much – fiercely so, and with moving comes goodbyes; and goodbyes wreck me.

This past week I needed to say goodbye to my school … my students (present and former) and my friends. Do you know that the word goodbye actually comes from the 1500’s when the standard greeting was, “God be with thee.” I wish we still said that … a prayer in parting instead of a single word ringing with finality. I’m blessed enough to be going from a place that believes the same. I was grateful to be sent off with a jar of words … glitter … and a motto to live by.

Esse Quam Videri means, “To be rather than to seem.” Authenticity, love, and intention have always been my primary ambitions, and I am ever-so-enchanted to know that in this place … among these people, I have been nurtured to be myself, and encouraged to be more than I ever thought I was worthy of becoming – a bringer of hope, a believer in change, and now a dreamer of what lies ahead.

In these next days and months there will be a great deal of change for my family and myself, but one thing is for certain … wherever I go, I want to be, rather than seem … and I never want to say goodbye to anyone I’ve had the chance to know.

Please pray for me; I need you readers … your encouragement carries me more than you know.

All my love and God be with you,

Elle

 

 

5.12.19 I Find Myself Whole

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I have had the most extraordinary examples of mothers in my life. My own mom is practically an earth angel … she is selfless and endlessly encouraging and taught me that joy is a choice that we must pursue with intention and passion. My mother-in-law is kind, and good, and does life with a family-first focused mentality. There has never been an instance where I’ve seen her make a decision without all of us in mind. My sister has always and forever wanted only to be a mom, and as her full-time job … she is exemplary at it … loving with an other-worldly patience, never hesitating for a second to let a hug linger, as hugs often should. My cousin is the dedicated, work and play mom. She bakes, and explores, gardens, and tutors. I never know how, but she does it all so well. Both of my sister-in-laws are full-time doctors, and both of them consistently put dance shoes and soccer cleats at the top of their list along with patient care and job performance. Their girls will be better for the example of their mothers’ tireless love, and nurturing spirit towards both their own needs, and the needs of others. My best friend epitomizes the verse, “Love never fails,” as she not only adores her own three children, but her gorgeous sixteen-year-old step-daughter with a fiercely, undeniable grace that could only come from a pure heart. There is my friend who doesn’t even have children, but loves each human soul she meets with such intense safekeeping of their stories, that it is undeniable to know God has given her a mother’s heart. Or my friend, who has faithfully become the surrogate mother her middle school students have needed all their lives. Then there are my friends that are the sweet mothers of young ones, who remind me of the tender snuggles, the fresh-from heaven dreamy stares, and complete devotion to their new and forever role as mothers; oh, how they inspire.

These are the mothers I look up too. These strong, beautiful, uniquely individual women who time and time again, put the needs of others before themselves. How can I ever thank them, or the hundreds of other mothers I wish I had time to name?

On the other side of gratitude, I want to thank the most precious ones of all … my two, gifts … my son and my daughter. I cannot ever properly deserve you, and sometimes I worry God trusts me too much to have put you in my care. I am so grateful that my husband is with me to balance all my insufficient, impulsive ways with his steady character and heart. Somehow, beyond my inability to cook memorable meals, or keep a plant alive, or build anything, or do laundry with any semblance of efficiency … they love me. They love my constant question games in the car and my addiction to chocolate milk (for me, not them). They love my belief in pretend and my absolute conviction that Neverland is a real place. They love that I write, and support my poems, and articles, and books with prayers. They are my greatest fans, and I love how they forgive my flaws for the simple fact that love has blinded them beyond recognizing fault.

I am a mother. I am imperfect and deeply impractical. I value daydreams over diagrams and whimsy over worldly success. I put my kids to bed way too late, and often, fall asleep with them because I don’t want that thief, Time, to steal one minute I was unaware of passing.

I worry. I pray. I play. I dance. I try. I cry. I fret. I fail. I love.

I am many, many things, but because of the women I so cherish, and the children who have given me my most important name … I am a mother … and in that … I find myself whole.

4.12.19 The Beauty of Slow

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Today I was asked to guest blog about “The Beauty of Slow” for Jamie whose blog is https://asnailsspace.blogspot.com so please visit me there, and while you’re there, check out this lovely soul! You’ll see a short introduction about how she found me, and then my piece (also found below) will be featured! Happy reading darlings!

The Beauty of Slow

There is a beauty to being slow … and it is a beauty that took me some time to appreciate. Slow, to me, is an acquired taste, and in younger years it was only bitter – not sweet. I remember so many instances where time was my enemy – every minute a wrestling match for what I could get done next or cross off my never-ending list. At that time, I wasn’t so much a human being as a human doing, and while I believe we were given hands and feet to do … more and more I am coming to understand that we were also given minds to reflect, lungs to breathe, and a heartbeat … slow and steady … with which we were meant to keep time. 

What a difference my life would have felt, and still would feel, if I only paid more attention to that heart – to that beat. When I do take the time to listen to the parts of myself that speak quietly, I hear a great deal of questions … questions I don’t know the answer to, but I want to. Like when someone asks me to tell them what I did in a weekend, I have to start backwards or I literally can’t remember. Why is that? Or when I was a little girl, I used to sleep like a starfish – open and free – limbs tossed this way and that haphazardly. Now, I sleep curled up on my side. What happened to that little girl? What am I protecting myself from? Sometimes I have a sense of urgency to accomplish more, and I run myself ragged from the first rays to the last, only to exhaust myself for those who want the best of me. Why do I waste those best parts on a thankless  day, instead of a precious night? 

As you can see – I’ve not genuinely figured it out yet, but I’m thinking, and I’m trying, because when I do get it right … the beauty of slow seeps in and enchants me. Slow looks like watching the sleepy dreamer beside me, whose chest rises and falls in peaceful rhythm to his unconscious reverie. Slow feels like stretching every limb to its limit as I walk, and hike, and run to explore the hidden magic of nature. Slow sounds like hearing the words behind the song – becoming a part of the melody itself as it reaches the deepest parts of me. Slow tastes like the sea-salt air, the lilac wind, the damp dew of grass, the whispered sweetness of lilies. 

It is the afterglow – the lullaby hum – the perfect contentment of still. And I may not have figured it out yet, but there’s one thing I know … there is never such beauty, as the beauty of slow. 

3.26.19 These Simple Days

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“I love this life. I feel like I am always catching my breath and saying, ‘Oh! Will you look at that?’ … bearing witness to the joy I find in seeing the extraordinary in ordinary life.” –  Harold Feinstein
By many standards, anyone on the outside of my life might call our Spring Break a bit of a fail. To be honest … I feel like I, myself would have called it one even yesterday. We have family in North Carolina, Kansas, and Colorado. Ordinarily … we’d be going to see them … but we are going nowhere – fast. Instead, due to conflicting work schedules, and a budget needed more for home repairs than exotic destinations – we are filling our days in less exciting ways than we usually might.

This is not to say that I am not being productive. I mean, when else might I conquer the post office, my son’s haircut, and scheduling vet appointments, eye doctor appointments, and a chunk of laundry all in the same day? Yeah, not super brag worthy, I’m aware … but then, there are the beautiful, unexpected ordinaries that I might be too busy to notice if I were elsewhere. Here are just a few:

I was able to have uninterrupted lunch with a friend (okay my husband called once and my kids called once, but only two interruptions is less than five so we’ll estimate it at zero).

My son and daughter invented a game with our Great Pyrenees puppy where they literally (dog included) play hide-and-seek tag around the house.

A former student saw me in a coffee shop window and stopped in just to give me a hug.

My kids have had playdates with besties they never have a chance to just be with.

My husband and I took a walk, led by our two beast-sized dogs who gain fame like a puppy parade.

We visited our cousins and I was able to see my son be the “big boy” my nephew looks up to with wonder.

My cat has helped me with more laundry than any other member of my family.

I have slept in for two days straight!

Today I watched my son and daughter at the park laughing in the sunset with wind-kissed faces.

Last night my son and I snuggled up for a superhero movie while downstairs, my daughter and her daddy watched a dance film.

I was able to catch up with far-away friends through phone calls, sharing pictures I’d meant to send, and writing letters.

It is only day two of this little break, and already I wish I had more time … more time to watch, and memorize, and play. My day may not be extraordinary by any measure, but isn’t it the details we end up clinging to? I intend to spend every last minute paying close attention to the ordinary I’m blessed to have the time to appreciate in these simple days.

I pray you’re blessed with a few of your own.

Elle