11

September 24, 2021

Dear Ellery Jane,

No one could have readied me for the role of your Momma. While you may have been the last of the babies born from my body, you are a force singularly unique. A child that requires me to live life fully awake.

At any moment you may ask me to describe how clouds are made or why God let’s bad things happen to good people and bad people to have good things.

I am grateful for your questions. They stretch me and everyone in our orbit.

I am so proud of how you wear both your hurt and your happiness. You let us see it and in so doing give each of us permission to do the same.

From the time you started preschool your teachers have been consistent in their comments-

“She is a leader.”

“She sees everyone and seeks to make them feel included.”

“She is a helper.”

This past year I have watched you become even more of the person God is calling you to be.

You’ve dug deep, made new friends and found a new sport.

I couldn’t be prouder of the person you are.

Thank you for your jokes, your impersonations, your stories, your thought provoking questions and for your pursuit of what is right and true.

I cannot wait to see what this year holds for you.

All my love,

always and forever,

Your Momma

PS- This year’s song says it all…..

17

Dear Sidney Reagan,

Where to start? Probably with the minute that cry turned me toward motherhood.

In the operating room, questioning the anesthesiologist, “Whose baby is that?”.

The answer, you were mine.

The early days, us figuring each other out. Your spirited determination to do everything sooner, faster.

First roll, first words, first walk, all ahead of schedule.

I would crawl a hundred miles if it meant I could relive those moments.

But, as you have always done, you push me past my comfort zone, into new spaces.

Today I parent a person on the edge of independence.

As a young adult I would get embarrassed when Papi told strangers about my accomplishments- the Giant Eagle clerk about my Junior Miss title, the Starbucks barista about the college scholarships. If he were alive today I have no doubt he would utilize Facebook more like a brag book.

I thought he bragged because he felt my work was an extension of his work. I understand now he spoke those words because he stood in wonder.

I feel the same way.

I am in awe of the young women you have become, of all you have done and all you desire.

I see a women whose confident, strong, stable, inquisitive, loving, thoughtful and purposeful in the pursuit of what sets her soul on fire.

Please know my love for you was never, could never, be contingent on what you have or will accomplish.

I am more interested in telling anyone who will listen about your grades, your golf score and your Glinda rides because it speaks of a Sidney who works hard, tries new things, challenges herself.

Oh this next year will be full, soak in its magic.

Be proud of the friends you’ve made and the life you are living out.

Happiest of birthdays my beautiful girl.

I’m so glad God made you mine seventeen years ago today.

Love,

Your Momma

P.S. – I hope you know that joy and pain each need their time to shine….

Knowing

This I know;

the hard days lead to the good,

the showing up is more important then the speaking,

a life lived well is a life where love alters others.

In our small space she was all of the above, all that I knew.

Her presence punctuated the good and right.

The cards on birthdays, the special events she didn’t miss-

she showed up, for decades.

And now her time here with me has ended.

I think of the love story she gave.

The husband, my uncle, whose devotion taught-

this is the sacrament of matrimony.

Grateful for the gift of her life.

And in this I know, for all my life, her love informed.

Until our tomorrows meet, I will remember the gifts you gave.

Father’s Day

He grounded me in place and time.

I always thinking of next and him always believing in now.

This past month threw me for a loop yet in it I heard his voice.

“Think less of tomorrow and more of today”, he whispered.

So I sat in the questions and resolutely refused to ponder what future days could hold.

Instead of the what if game, I day dreamed – could I not see the sun’s rays better when basking in its glory?

Nothing ever turns out like one thinks so why sit in potential sorrow.

My worried soul needed his words and they found me.

I was ok.

A bit battered, yet set free by the turning inward.

Gifts are passed in the genetic make up,

tiny cells reappearing for future generations benefit.

He taught me to be alright and I was.

Today I am here.

Calling

I interviewed him once for my Girl Scout God and Country badge.

I asked him about his faith journey and what brought him to the pulpit.

He told me a story of being a college student in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and walking in the woods.

The young man who had grown up in the city of Philadelphia with it’s noise and bustle, thousands of miles from home, finding clarity in the stillness of the trees.

My nine year old mind imagined there was snow and a booming voice from God asking him to head to the seminary.

In reality I’m sure it was a quiet whisper that guided him to Gettysburg.

Turns out his story chased me here. The little girl that heard his words sought her own calling.

I found it in the stillness. When all else was stripped away it came by whisper.

When he spoke of a longing of the heart, he spoke of me here.

A little more

Each day finds us feeling a little more familiar with this place.

As animals come to find their home here, we come to understand how their presence adds more life to our lives.

The barn, now warmed by their bodies, has become welcoming.

Girls in the pasture curled up with puppies.

Goats trailing waiting for a treat.

A cat that has yet to kill a mouse, but looks regal in his pursuit.

Each morning the act of that barn door swinging wide feels like the opening of a present. You wonder what you will find.

As we settle in to this life of service, to a place that demands much, we find ourselves, a little more of who he is calling us to be.

Winters End

The days pass.

No time to write or walk.

It’s become a gallop.

This life living on the land always demands more.

So things fall away.

The evenings lingering over books or laughing at the screen have become chores and projects and watching sunsets from the pasture.

There is a ton left to learn.

With each new morning comes an opportunity to understand how little I know about our rural way of life.

Forgive me for my absence.

As the sun begins to set later and the bones become tired from the work, my hope is my fingers will find a place on the keyboard and sharing more of this beautiful place will be my blessing to you.

14

January 12, 2021

Dear Audrey,

You have always been the girl with the bright eyes and big heart.

My tenderhearted child, you taught me how to live in the moment, to chase sunsets and rainbows.

It feels, most days, that your mere presence brings the sun.

Thank you for sharing your fun facts and your thought provoking questions;

for your show stopping hugs and your up for anything attitude;

and thank you for loving us through the hard days and laughing with us at the good.

Audrey Hope you make me proud.

Being your Momma is life’s greatest gift.

When you look back at this year I hope you can see the rose in spite of the thorns.

I will always be here.

Together, somewhere between a dance party and a book club, we will navigate these teenage years.

You are my joy.

Happiest of birthday’s my baby girl.

I love you.

Momma

P.S. The song is so fitting! What do you think about trying this on your guitar???

10 Years

The coming came from a quiet whisper, a longing of the heart.

The desire to raise girls connected to a place, pieces of memory to carry them through life.

The same had been given to me, a beach house in North Carolina became an island off the South Georgia Coast I could gift to them.

First coming with a baby in diapers and continuing to come after a broken marriage threatened to break us.

As one could expect this place calmed the storm, healing was found on her shores.

The smell of cinnamon rolls and the 8am crew sitting watch in the corner rounds at Sweet Mama’s will forever line their senses.

The sunrise cups of coffee, East beach walks at sunset, the dogs on the shore line, the days spent lingering in stores, the laughing over plates of saltwater morsels, the masses at St. William, these will be what carries them through the hard days.

Sidney, who first came at six years, now looks back on ten years gone and finds the place has woven itself into the soul.

As independence sits at her doorstep this momma can’t help but be grateful for the gift of a place.

This Christmas I will bask in the joy of sitting with the salt at her feet and knowing that roots have given her wings.

Ellery Jane at 10

September 24, 2020

Dear Ellery Jane,

When I look back on this year for you,

when I see the changes you’ve had to endure,

I am simply amazed by you my precious child.

There was online school thrown together, then a move to the farm.

After a summer of adjusting to the rural world, you were thrust into a new school, a place you’d never been in before, with people you didn’t know wearing masks.

And you showed us all.

You made new friends.

You talked openly about the hard parts.

You reminded us that living in joy doesn’t always mean life’s easy.

Thank you for your honesty, for teaching me to live in truth.

Thank you for your beautiful words each morning and night.

Thank you my wild eyed, inquisitive, imaginative child for making our lives so beautiful.

I love you more then words can say.

Happiest of birthday’s.

Love,

Your one and only Momma

PS- I think we can dance to this one don’t you?