Poetry

When They Call You Pretty

It may sound a little crazy but it feels like there’s this idea floating around that beauty = ugly, or beauty = bad, or even, beauty = a vain woman.

But I disagree.

Beauty may be vain in that it doesn’t last and isn’t the end-all/be-all, but a beautiful woman is not automatically vain (or mean!) because she is beautiful. We are far too busy running away from beauty, feeling insecure about it, or feeling without it.

Enough is enough!

So, what if we weren’t afraid of beauty? In ourselves and in others?!

What if we weren’t afraid of however it shows up in our lives?

What happens when we don’t back down from what is lovely and what God made beautiful?

Of course, beauty isn’t the only thing, but it is a good thing, and a good thing we don’t have to be afraid of noticing, acknowledging, and even having. May we not impose a fear of beauty in our daughters. May we raise daughters and be daughters who can hear YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and not feel threatened by the words or fearful of being defined by it.

God made beauty beauty.

And that is good!

What If Pretty Isn’t

you can be bright, bold,

and all beautiful too.

unashamed of your house

built tall, built strong,

a presence against the wind.

don’t hide the lilt of your eyes,

or the warmth of your smile

like morning light at dawn,

or fireflies at dusk

don’t shrink when they call you pretty,

or shake when they see your beauty,

or be afraid of all that isn’t

ugly, self-conscious, or plain.

just lift your face

to the One who made you.

steady your house toward the Sun,

outstretch your arms and your heart

to the heavens

in praise to the God of your life.

He who made beauty beauty

and us to marvel

in the beautiful work

of His hands

however it shows up

in our lives. . .

as flowers, or oceans,

or stunning blue eyes.

as crow’s feet rivers,

freckles, or dimples.

as youth, or old age,

in lovely faces that shine.

. . .all of us dotted with stars

like the evening sky,

or swathed in the brilliance

of sunrise.

and what if, what if, what if?

pretty isn’t a bad thing.

. . .this said zinnia softly

to very beautiful girl crying

in the garden.

-S.V.F.

Poetry

I Learned to Love the Wind

Like her I was tired. Time bent me slowly. But it was lack of joy, of the story I wasn’t living that cracked me open, hollow.

I’d lived a life before her, or at least the one they gave me, but she moved in, care-free. And I thought,

Now, maybe.

baby swing hanging from tree, framed by roses

And I don’t blame her for the years that passed. Her shoulders bent like mine, curled around her aching heart. I knew that pain too well!

So, I resolved to wait, learned to love the wind right through me, learned to house the life that chose me. And soon I saw,

She did too.

And it was marvelous!

The garden crept in closer, and hope felt like spring, but life fell like leaves. And though the breeze was lovely, and I smiled as she scattered seeds, I longed for the garden story.

Instead, I felt the pain, knife sharp, lightening in my skin. Is this the end for me? Where they decide I am done. . .they don’t need this tree.

The wind I loved felt bitter. The life in me cracked open. . .I creaked and groaned and wondered,

Can gardeners hear trees?

But pain lifted its fingers and in its wake, her laughter. And the wind rushed through like life. And I realized the garden had reached me!

And I danced alongside flowers, and whistled, “It’s nice to meet you!” And every now and then, I see her gazing up at me, happy, all admiration. And all her joy is mine.

We are here!

Both in the garden.

But the thing I love the most is swaying to the rhythm I finally hold in my arms. Not made by breeze or wind, but by a woman who became a mother pushing her child in the swing hanging down

from me.

Poetry

Life Here Is Not Only Madness

For whatever reason after I finally posted, A Mother in Warfare, I could not write any new words. Not really. I read through old work and edited an old poem making it better. But truly new words? New ideas? Not a thing. Perhaps due to a few things. Who can really tell? I have my suspicions. No one thing the sole culprit.

You can push through writer’s block fine enough, but this particular time (these days in general) didn’t seem like a time for pushing through. It seemed like a time for waiting. Just letting that absence of creativity lie dormant. Of not forcing beautiful words on a page. I had none, anyway. I was blank space.

But then my husband and I were in the garden with our son. He turns two this August and I’m already getting excited. I’ve been thinking of his birthday since I was early pregnant with our daughter. Birthdays light up my soul, I suppose.

And his is so special.

I can remember the anticipation I felt leading up to his birth. I can feel those long days of labor. Picking zinnias before going to the hospital (the first time, heheee). The laughter. How he felt on my chest in those first minutes. Bringing him home to sunflowers and our first walks in the garden holding him tiny in my arms. I was thrown into this kind of magic that hasn’t stopped. I’m getting carried away. Like I said. . .birthdays.

And more specifically the birthdays belonging to my children.

Well, anyhow, he’s almost two and that evening in the garden, we picked him a snow pea and showed him he could actually eat it. I hope I never forget his face. It will always be one of the sweetest things I’ve experienced earth-side. A moment so small and so big and beautiful. . .his realization that some things grown in the garden can be picked and eaten too.

And for me? I felt I could write again after that. I didn’t know what the words would be just then, but they would come soon. The following poem feels like a way forward after my latest, Even Mothers, Even Here.

So here we go. . .the words that came that evening after June snow peas in the garden.

Snow in June

after too much death

much too soon,

after wrestling with the words,

after all the words ran out,

after the Psalms ran on audio,

after nursing my daughter in

the dark of morning

afraid of lights out, life out,

of bad news down like

lightening,

I’m in the garden with my son.

he’s standing, loved, between us.

and he’s full smiling, hint of grinning,

we’re picking snow peas in June.

now height of morning light in evening

watching him taste and see

the fruit of our hope,

that this fruit even exists

that it can be for him. . .

not untouchable like the roses

not to save like the daisies

not to spare like the pink blossoms

. . .but to pick and eat,

its beauty in the tasting

its joy in the process.

eyes alight, its snow in June,

us right there with him.

fresh delight and nightfall soon. . .

life here is not only madness.

for I have also tasted,

and I have also seen.

the Lord, indeed, is good.

I’m not sure what I’ll write next or when. . .?

I’m in the days I can’t really explain.

I can imagine a mixture of postpartum, mothering two, shifting into a new camp season, wrestling with my fear of loss, trusting God with my whole being, and experiencing my faith deepen has life demanding my full attention without margin or capacity to write. I may be a solid two months past giving birth to my bright-eyed, wonderful Heidi, but I’m only a solid two months past. So there’s a lot still happening.

But Shasta is on his Y Bike in the bathroom batting his toddler hand at the dust particles floating in the morning sunlight.

And Psalms 16:8-9 upholds me in the night.

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

Heidi smiles at the drop of a hat.

Words will come again. The days sure do. I’m grateful for every single one.

So while I wait, grow, heal, learn, deepen and surrender, I think I’ll enjoy another snow pea in the garden this evening.

motherhood

A Mother in Warfare

My son kept looking back at me. A grin that reached his young soul. “Do you see this too, Mom? Do you see it? A whole lake! That boy over there could be my friend!”

I do see, son.

In this minute, like you, I only see the lake, the good things coming. I wish I only ever saw the lake. It is magnificent. I breathe for real. A deep one long held in.

But I see more.

How could I not? Headlines crush. Tragedies feel like tally marks. And that’s tragedy in itself. Again. Again. Again. And is it condolences, really? Or just everyone’s hot take? I look away. Not to stick my head in the stand. And maybe I do want my head in the sand when it comes to everyone’s opinions, everyone’s thoughts and prayers. . .

I’m praying too.

But my soul can’t take the noise. It wasn’t meant to. The burden is enough, and it’s too much. Was I meant to know it? I pray to God for healing, redemption. I surrender all I cannot carry. Which is all.

And I look at the lake.

Lean into life. . .this life from God.

My son grins. Laughs. He can’t get enough. Neither can I. I see God’s goodness here. I believe Him.

My daughter sleeps peacefully. I take in the beauty. Their dog runs. They hold their babies and walk into the water. And my own splashes in yellow boots. Waves from boats crash in. Not all waves mean storms.

Still I have no words for the world. I grieve it. And sometimes I don’t grieve as I should or weep with those who weep. God forgive me!

Life here is brutal.

But I look at the lake.

Because there is still life here too.

And I pray as though it’s an act of war. It is.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

I lean into all that is good and right, lovely and well. That’s war too.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

And I live. There are things to do. This is war.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

And I write. Because I need a Lullaby in all this madness.

Even Mothers, Even Here

I’m a beggar

and a mother,

interchangeable.

spare these hearts of mine!

spare these hearts of mine!

these hearts outside of me,

spare them please!

but I know it,

have lived it.

they won’t escape

pain, tragedies

by the tens or hundreds.

but let them be,

let them breathe,

let them laugh and love,

be healed, be held,

be fearlessly here

for all the days of their life.

and bear them up

when they grieve,

or ask questions like,

“but where was God when. . .?”

and give them peace

to face, endure

whatever will hollow

their hearts.

and help them laugh again,

themselves freely to it

when happiness

lifts their spirit.

and God, let us know,

let the mothers know!

even when

they aren’t safe here,

even when

they can’t escape,

our children

. . .our very heartbeats,

are ever safe with You.

but we are weeping, asking for

spines tall, strong with hope,

minds built in the truth,

eyes fixed on You.

and here You remind us

we can fall apart,

we can fracture, shatter

because even mothers,

even here,

are safe with You

too.

I grin back at my son.

It reaches my soul. And there the grin finds my soul well.

I look at the lake.

I see it, son.

I do.