Merry Christmas

Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the entire year. Of course it’s all about expectation and tradition. For my babes it’s the expectation of gifts in the morning, Santa visiting at night, time spent with loved ones. For me, though, I reflect on what this day represents for people around the world. My favorite Christmas carol is O Holy Night, I still get goosebumps and tears the majority of the time I hear it (lyrics below, my favorite bits bolded). “The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Love that.

For all who are weary I hope you feel even the smallest bit of hope in the morning.

Merry Christmas

-Tesi

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! 
O night divine, the night when Christ was born; 
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, 
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. 
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming, 
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land. 
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger; 
In all our trials born to be our friends. 
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger, 
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 

Truly He taught us to love one another, 
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. 
And in his name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
With all our hearts we praise His holy name. 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, 
His power and glory ever more proclaim! 
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Advertisements

Hey you-be nice to yourself

He is at his most handsome when he is laughing. Not the laugh he gives most people, no, the laugh he saves for rare occasions when surprise mixes perfectly with love and comedy. My beloved is often prone to seriousness but when he lets go his gums show and his eyes crinkle and I melt.

944761_10152077906244972_815230809_n

 

Obviously I love seeing him in our bed, in a specific kind of derobedness saved specifically for me but I also yearn for those moments when his whole body exudes passion and a zest for life not often seen with him. Just as I’m prone to effusiveness he is prone to statue-like stillness. But not when he’s doing something he loves or talking about something in which he cares very deeply. In those moments his beauty shines from the smallest part of his heart’s center out to his phalanges.

9346845568_1d10f1b2dc_o

 

As Dailah grows I think more and more about body image. Specifically, how do I raise my daughter to see her the way I see her? I wonder that for my boys as well but the focus is often on Dailah because, let’s just be real here, being a young woman can be really terrible at times. I hate our culture’s rabid focus on the female body with a white hot hatred but I also know there’s nothing I can do to change that. So I always wonder how I can get my kids, in this case-Dailah, to live/survive within our culture.

I’ve had my own dealings with body issues, me and virtually every woman I know, so I went on a limb and asked Zach when he found me the most beautiful/attractive.

Women, come here for a second. Will you do this for me? Will you ask your husband/wife/significant other/child/parent that same question? Someone who loves you without condition- just ask them. You are not allowed to give them any qualifiers, “Hey babe, when do you find me the most beautiful? I mean, you don’t have to tell me, I’m just curious, my friend Tesi is really the one who wants to know, so you don’t have to answer.” None of that.

Back to Zach. His answer, “Attractive in a heartfelt sense is probably when you are interacting with Dailah. Attractive in a desired sense, probably right out of the shower.”

Yeah, he loves me right out of the shower. When my body is an unnatural shade of red (I’ve never met a hot shower I didn’t love), I’m all saggy boobs, stretch marks and acne. That’s it. That’s when he desires me most.

It got me thinking that maybe if I start to look at myself the way Zach sees me or the way Tariku sees me, “Mom, you are most beautiful when you’re dancing in our kitchen.” Or the way Tomas sees me, “You are most beautiful when you are taking good care of us.” Then I won’t actually have to teach Dailah anything, she’ll just pick it up from watching me.

I wonder if I can continue to “catch” all of my kids at their most beautiful and remark to them, “You are stunning when you are working so hard on that math problem!” then I will be the voice that is heard louder than all the other surface-level stuff our culture praises.

Do you think it’s possible? I don’t know. But I’m really beginning to believe that if the people I loved saw themselves the way I saw them then they wouldn’t say some of the harsh things they often do about themselves. I’m also beginning to believe if we can be nicer to ourselves then we can be nicer to each other. Our world needs people to be nicer to each other.

So let’s start with us. You and me. First, be nice to yourself. Next time you look in the mirror remember what your loved one said about you. This is going to be our hardest task, isn’t it? But let’s do it together. What’s the worst that could happen?

People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.

-Salma Hayek

Energy in, energy out

I go in waves of reading, you guys do that? I’ll read every day for hours on end for a few weeks and then I’ll not read a page for the next few weeks. I’m currently in a reading mood-something about winter does that to me. We keep our house a bit on the chilly side just so I can have a cup of coffee constantly in hand and a blanket (or 2) constantly wrapped around me.

I just finished Rob Bell’s, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. My mom-in-law graciously lent it to me whilst I was out with bootfoot. Once I was freed from my boot prison I went on quite the dry spell of reading (that’s what 9 weeks of heavy reading/TV watching will do to a person) so just got around to reading it the last few days. Last night I read this and have been percolating on it since,

We don’t transform our shadow side by denial but by entering into it, embracing it, facing it, and naming it because we believe God is with us and for us.

When we do this-name our fears and sins and failures and own up to them, describing them as clearly as we are able-we pass through them into the new life on the other side. We have faced the worst about ourselves and we have survived, making us strong in the only sense that actually matters. This is why resurrection is so central to the Jesus story: he faces the worst that can happen to a person, and comes out the other side alive in a new way. It is not a false strength we gain a posing and posturing and pretending, but a quiet, humble, grounded strength that has done the hard work of facing our most troubling inner torments and then watching them be transformed into sources of vitality and life.

Do you guys love that as much as I do?

When I look back on the last couple years of my life, years where I’ve been really trying to do the hard work-to face that which scares me the most about myself I realize it’s been both the worst few years (it was so much easier, on the surface anyway, when I was in denial) of my life but also the very best. Not only have my close relationships gotten stronger, more vibrant and beautiful but so have I. And it isn’t because I’ve scrubbed myself clean and come out on the other side smelling like roses-it’s because I’ve come on the other side battered and bruised with the realization that I am still utterly and completely loved.

Before-back when I was in complete denial about my shadow side-I tried so many different ways of earning love. Some didn’t hurt me or anyone else, some really hurt me or other people I love. I was floundering for an easier way to come to terms with grace. We all do this, right? When we aren’t convinced of how much we love we go over the top in trying to earn love, perhaps that’s just me.

Of course this showed itself in a myriad of ways but I was thinking this morning about the ways my denial affected my parenting specifically. I believe very much in the energy we put out into the world. I think for a long time the energy I was putting out reflected my inner turmoil. I would be telling my kids one thing, “Do the right thing, be honest, no lying, you are wholly and completely loved” but my energy was saying, “Lie if you’re scared of the truth, ehhhh I’m not convinced a person can be completely loved when all the shit is out there.”

Of all my kids Tariku was the best at projecting back to me exactly what I was putting out into the world. Perhaps that’s why for a very long time I didn’t fully attach to him. Who was this kid skeptical of my love, constantly lying and totally ill equipped for accepting love? Oh right, that kid is me. I am he. How terribly frustrating it can be to parent a child that exhibits the same behaviors and attitudes you dislike about yourself, right?

I’m sure you see where this is going. As I continue every. single. day to own my shit and walk through it, Tariku is mirroring that as well. The lying has all but stopped, he actually let me hold his hand for half a movie the other day. When I look at him to tell him I love him he looks back and I can tell more and more of him each day is taking it in-allowing it to settle into the parts of his heart darkened by the pain, loss and heartache he’s had in the past.

I think as parents we owe it to our kids to transform our shadow sides, don’t you? I think if we don’t we run the risk of our kids being so scared of their shadow sides they’ll do anything to keep it hidden. The truth is I’m not at all scared of my kids’s shadow sides. The truth is, they are young enough I see most of it. But I want them to feel free to discover it on their own and then talk it through with me. Then maybe when I tell them I love them or that God loves them they’ll know that I mean all of them-even the parts of them that hate me sometimes. 😉

I guess my goal for the new year is going to be that-to keep discovering that which scares me about myself and to step forward in faith-knowing I am God’s beloved. And to maybe take that leap of faith to share with my children all the ways in which I have failed so they know it’s a completely human and acceptable experience. I think they’re worth it, I think I am too.

IMG_8694