12.31.22 Hopeful Expectancy

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“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 

– Shel Silverstein

Here upon the dawn of a fresh new year, I wanted to write you poetry. I wanted to write you dreamy, sweet, recollections. But yesterday, I called my sister in tears, and so instead, I decided to write you truth. Here it is. Being a dreamer … a wisher … a doer, is sometimes overwhelmingly heavy. Waking up each day with stories you know need to be told, but don’t have the time to tell–stepping into new days and weeks and months that pass without your permission or intention–finding that there were so many meant-to’s still in a wishful pile of haven’t done’s … it’s a lot.

This year, I have been a mom to two teenagers. I’ve been a wife (albeit one who owes her husband about a million date nights). I have started a new job teaching an entirely new level of (high school). I’ve continued my blog. I’ve been a guest speaker. I’ve written for my favorite magazine for another year. And yet, oh friends. Yet, I am the farthest thing from satisfied that I’ve done enough.

So I called her, my sweet sister, in tears. I’m not much of a cryer–until I am. Then, it seems, I have no choice but to let it all out. I called to confess that I have so much more to do, so much I’ve not done, so much I started without finishing. I told her I wanted to be someone my kids could be proud of for chasing and pursuing and “making” something of herself. I asked her why I have so many words in my mind, spinning and itching to be sent and spoken. I asked her why I can’t get farther. I asked. And I cried. And I muttered, “Why can’t I get farther?”

“Oh, sweetheart,” she said. “It’s because you’re not arriving. You’re already there.” She went on to explain (in the patient way that only sisters can) that the standard I hold myself to is not the same version of me the world sees. She told me that my children, my husband, and my family are already proud of me … and that the only one who isn’t, is me.

The truth, it would seem, is just as heavy as all of those other feelings. But where self-doubts seem to weigh me down, this spoken truth, was more of a blanket statement … settling over and comforting the parts of my heart and mind that are so often restless.

Dear ones. I wish you many things in this new year. I wish me many things too, but more than anything, I wish you truth and hopeful expectancy. May you hear the words that need to be said. May you feel the prayers that need to rest on and stay with you. May you allow yourself to be loved exactly as you are, not as you think you should be.

Here, on the eve of a brand new shiny turn about the sun: my fears have been cried, my tears have been dried, my wishes to heaven have been sent, and my busy brain has begun plotting and planning without strings attached. Maybe things will work out … maybe something better than my own plans will come to be … maybe nothing what-so-ever will change. No matter what, it is with a tenacious heart and winged-spirit that I step into 2023.

Ironically, or not so ironically, this particular verse popped up on two different apps of mine, two days in a row. “God’s timing is perfect,” Ecclesiastes 2:11. Work on believing it with me.

Delight and unabashed joy for what was, what is, and what will be, or won’t. Regardless of circumstances, sparkle and shine. Smile and trust. Love and be loved. Peace and optimism and effervescent hope be yours!

Elle

12.26.22 Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh

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“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak a Christmas message to a group of mothers. I was so honored to be able to reflect on the joy of the season, and also the night Jesus was born. As a mom, I think that mysterious night … that holy night captures my imagination, and pulls at my heart. I think about the ways that I utterly adore my children, how I loved them before they were born, and how, the moment I became a parent, nothing was the same.

What I often try to reflect on, that I really struggle with, were the gifts of the Magi. As a new mother, everyone brings you gifts that promise hope, and a future filled with fun and love – but those weren’t the kinds of gifts Mary received. She received gold, a gift fit for kings; frankincense, a gift offered to the gods; and myrrh, a gift offering for death. Regardless of your faith, of your religion, of whom you dedicate your life to … I wonder if just for a moment, you can imagine this mother’s heart. Can you imagine the weight on the shoulders of this young hope-filled girl knowing that her child was destined for things she couldn’t fathom?

I think there is so much we as people can learn from this story, about ourselves and our place in this life. There are gold, frankincense, and myrrh moments we all face. I invite you to watch my speech on these things, and I’d love to hear any thoughts you might want to share on the gifts you face in your life.

GOLD LINK

FRANKINCENSE LINK

MYRRH LINK

I wish you and yours a beautiful and blessed holiday – one filled with life, and light, and hope. You are all worthy, and known, and loved. I appreciate you so much in my life … you are who I write for.

Elle Harris

9.18.22 And Then, There’s Bella

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My favorite thing about being a writer is hearing back from readers. I adore knowing which lines transcended the page and found their way into a heart, or a mind, or a memory. I love imagining my words as tiny, gossamer threads, weaving themselves in and out of the consciousnesses of others. When someone shares that something is, “exactly” how they feel, my heart alights at the wonder of it all … at this shared experience of life, and the living of it.

And then, there’s Bella. Bella Grace comes in all her majesty, robed in the scent of ink on thick paper, and I dwell in the magical reality that this publication has linked me to so many. So many minds. So many stories. So many effervescent opportunities to merge one story, one life, to another. This fall, I wrote, “Dear Life, You are Not What I Planned,” for Issue 33. I really, really hope you have the chance to pick up a copy and let me know if any lines crossed your conscious and settled there.

“Whether playing hands with Fate or Destiny, or crafting conversations with God, you, Life, lead us on a path written in invisible ink.”

Please share a line that resonates.

All my love,

Elle

7.23.22 Fifteen

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“She did not believe he could have really gone, because for her, to leave the person you loved was impossible.” Jodi Lynn Anderson

Dear boy,

Today is your birthday, and I am on the other side of the world. I have never, in all glorious 15 years of you, been away from you for as long, as far, and as monumental an occasion as the day God gave you to me. My, but love hurts.

Even though I’m not with you, there are a few things you should know … fifteen things actually.

1. Your kindness humbled and astounds me.

2. I love the way your mischief smile trails a wake of dimples across your face. No one has a chance against that smile.

3. Your passion for people is inspiring. You make others comfortable just by being you!

4. I love the way you love your sister. Fiercely. Protectively. And with best-friend-status joy.

5. You have your daddy’s sense of calm measure. It will and has already served you well.

6. I adore that you love board games as much as I do, even if I never win.

7. The way you carry on a conversation brings me such pride. You are charm itself.

8. Every time I tell someone who didn’t know I was your mom, that you are my son, they literally tell me how awesome you are. I glow. What else can I possibly do?

9. Your curiosity is contagious and wonderful.

10. Sometimes, my favorite thing is just a hug from you. Somehow, they’re never long enough.

11. I truly believe the world is better for having you in it.

12. I love seeing your tenacious and audacious sense of hope and possibility. Nothing keeps you down.

13. Your sense of purpose in this life is wise beyond your years. I wish I could bottle your character.

14. You are always polite. No one can say that, but you seem to be the rule’s exception.

15. Being your mom is ultimately, irrevocably, and inarguably, my greatest gift.

I wish, as ever, to slow time … to be with you without the constant knowing that the moments, and minutes, and days carry on. It would seem, birthday boy, that not all wishes come true … but God, I am so grateful for the wish-come-true of you.

Love you to Neverland,

Mom

6.12.22 Forty-Five Years

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For you mom and dad. Thank you for teaching me again and again what love is. I am eighteen years in today … you are forty-five. I will keep studying your beautiful example. Here is what I’ve learned so far …

I’ve heard of love described as chemistry

but chemical reactions do not tend to strengthen over time

I’ve heard of love described as biology

but if it were, then it would be marked by an innate sense of self-preservation, not self-sacrifice

I’ve heard of love described as psychology

but human connection is not mutually exclusive to just one other

So …

I suggest love is built on something far more than powerful than science –

it is built on a promise –

to keep trying, when trying seems impossible (as it will)

to keep hoping, when hope feels too far away (as it is)

to keep dreaming, when dreams have broken (as they do)

Love is built on yes

and yes again

and yes a thousand times more

Love it built on time

time moving too fast

and too slow

and perfect moments where it stops all together

Love is built on someday

and countless yesterdays

and I’m here right nows

Love

does

not

make

sense

Yet here we are …

and so the only logical conclusion is that love is not a science,

it is a magic entirely its own

cast and crafted

blessed and bound

As old as Earth herself

As young as the echo of a heartbeat

Love IS

what other explanation need there be?

5.23.21 Ever-So-Much-More

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Sometimes you ask me if I’m still attracted to you. After being together for 20 years, I feel I must be failing somewhere if you must ask … so here is my answer to that question evermore. Let it now be a closed issue.

I simply adore you

without strings and beyond reason

If someone asks me, “Where is home?”

Your name is my answer

I am not simply attracted to you –

you are my North

the gravity keeping my heart grounded

and my spirit close

In some ways I hate the words “I love you,”

because they are insufficient

As a lover and weaver of words

you can’t imagine how frustrating it is to know so many …

and not be able to craft them together to say enough

And so you

my life … I want you to listen closely

Read and reread as you must, but know

unequivocally

you must trust that what I feel for you is

beyond words

beyond years

beyond the etches of time wearing themselves into us both

beyond what you view as your imperfections

(and what I view as your charms)

beyond benefit or lust

beyond convenient and settled

Honestly?

I don’t think I’d know me without you,

because the best parts of both of us,

exist outside of us both

with their own sets of journeys,

but they only exist because God set our paths to cross

What serendipity.

And so I have one thing left to say –

thank you for choosing me

over and over again

even when I wouldn’t choose myself

especially then

I love that I see you in him

I love that I see you in her

echoes of your laughter and your compassion

reincarnated in another set of lives

Imagine that love … the kind that becomes a legacy

So no

I am not simply “attracted” to you

I am written into the pages of your story

sharing breaths

sharing atoms

sharing ever-so-much-more

than I love you’s

5.4.21 Beyond Bearing It

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Sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep, I sift through pictures in my mind of before. I lie in bed, heart pounding, throat throbbing, repressed tears threatening to absolutely overwhelm me if I let them – because of this gift, and how quickly it’s passing me by.

Of him.

Of her.

Of becoming a mother and remembering every detail that my too-fast life with them will let me recall. Memories come back to me in fragmented bits … little pieces of stained glass that join together in an endless collage of colors and lenses I miss looking through.

I am so blessed.

But love – love this big … quite simply, it hurts.

It hurts because even when you try to savor every second, they still pass. It hurts because the world isn’t perfect and they are … so you need it to be, but can’t change it. It hurts because even when they’re too big to crawl up onto your lap, a part of them wants to, so you hold on instead for a too long hug – and it never feels like enough.

When she was nine months old, I was about to put her in bed, and she placed her tiny hands on either side of my face. She held me there, and stared at me so intently … her bright eyes telling me all the things she couldn’t say, but found a way to share nonetheless.

When he was off to his first day of Kindergarten – unafraid and excited for whatever came next, I asked him for one more hug. “For me buddy, not for you,” I’d said. He smiled big and hugged me tight. “It’s okay mommy,” he whispered in my ear, “I’ll miss you too.” Taking care of my heart at five, and checking in with me ever since.

She is my starlight. He is my keeper.

And though I am the farthest thing from what they deserve, I am on-my-knees grateful that God gave them to me … even for a time as fleeting as this. Because although I know I love imperfectly, I also know I love them fully – to the very edge of myself, almost beyond bearing it.

2.28.21 Somedays

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I have several friends who suffer from chronic illnesses, and honestly, I hurt for them in a place I can’t feel, but feel nonetheless. So this is for you my brave warriors. This is for the days your body becomes a cage to the spirit within you that knows peace is waiting for you someday. I love you. I hear you. Carry on precious … one more day … one more hour … one more breath if that’s all you can commit to. This is not all – you are more, and nothing, not even this pain can make you less. For you, dear ones, are made of beyond. Until then, I bless you for enduring now. I would be lost without you, and I thank you for not letting me get lost. 

Somedays

Somedays are dangerous things

they tease and taunt

and ease and haunt

the imperfections of our current state

of being

of wanting

of waiting

And on days like that …

the Somedays 

when the magic of stardust and wishes call

when the perfection of heaven echoes in the loves we lost

when the sea and the sky brim at a capacity greater than any earthly ambition

my heart aches with a craving I can’t satisfy

at the freedom I see

but don’t have

at the wonders of when

but not yet

at the whims I imagine

but can’t

make

real

Some days,

when Someday comes

my skin feels too tight

and my tears fall just right

and living 

is heavier

than it seems it should have the right to ever be

because beauty is in the eye of the beheld

and I wish to be held

by something lighter

than gravity

Someday

Reflections to Consider

1. Who do I know that might be depending on “Someday?” 

2. How can I make today worth their struggle to stay? 

3. What words, quotes, poems, or songs might I cover them in?

4. If I were to pray for them, what would I say? 

5. What wildflowers, free and blooming might inspire their view of today? 

6. What memories could I share to remind them of better moments in time? 

7. What does hope sound like? Smell like? Feel like? Look like? Can I catch some to share? 

8. If I visited, what activities could we do together where we were equal and free? 

9. What movies and books define our relationship? What else could I add to a care package that would enable and empower? 

10. What are ways to love them purely, as they are, and were, and will be … without filter or flaw? How can I show them that they are still them? And I am still me? And we are still us? 

2.7.21 One of Those

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Oh my, but it was a week … one of those that go from bad, to worse. The kind that make you question yourself, and then the world, and then yourself again. An eternal optimist, I must say I was really challenged this week to remain so. Still – I choose.

I choose happy even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when I can’t sleep because my heart is pounding in time to the ticking-ticks of the never slowing down clock of the race I didn’t ask to be in. I choose joy even when I don’t feel it, or see it, or hear it … even when I can’t tell where it has gone, or when, or if it will return. I choose hope because without it – friends: how would we dare to carry on?

So I am asking you to do me two favors.

  1. Pray for someone else. Because my guess is … they need it. Give some space for grace and calling out to the heavens on behalf of someone who may have lost their voice, their faith that tomorrow (for better or for worse) is on its way.
  2. Tell them.

If each person who read this post did that … could you imagine? It might just have the power to turn “one of those” weeks, into a holy revolution!

I’m praying for you,

Elle

1.20.21 The Beautiful In-Betweens

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“In a paradoxical blush of cool hands and warm cheeks, warm nights with cool breezes, winter makes her entrance with dramatic grace and patience. There are so many beguiling experiences that, like the coming of a new season, only live in the in-between places of ourselves.”

I am honored to be featured in Bella Grace Magazine’s Winter Issue 26! From start to finish, this bookzine is filled with delighting in the magical aspects of the every day. My article focuses on looking at those in-between places in our lives that transition us from here to there. I’d LOVE to hear if you read it, and if so, which in-between time resonated most with you.

All my love,

Elle