Happy Tuesday, folks...also known around these parts as Show Your Real day...also known as My Favorite Day. And apparently based on my use of "folks" and "these parts" it's also Type Like a Southerner Day....which is actually pretty appropriate, because today we have a real live Southerner sharing her real: Amanda is a writer. And a mama. And a Tennessee native. And all around just a beautiful soul. I had the good fortune of actually getting to meet Amanda in person- which I highly recommend you do if possible- but if you can only get to know her through the magic of the interwebs, you're still in for a real treat. (a real one- unintentional pun time.) She has a way of pouring her thoughts on to paper (web-paper) that allows you to see right through to her heart. I mean, I challenge you to even just read her about page, and not get sucked right in to wanting to be her best friend. I could not be happier to host today, and hear a snippet of her real.
Every day in the late afternoon our kitchen is flooded with light through a row of five windows. There is a point during that light-flood when it gets so bright you have to squint your eyes just to get to the fridge. The light cuts vertically into the house like a knife, every single speck of dust and every single smudge on the tile counter illuminated it its path.
There have been days when I have cursed that light.
Sure, it is stunning at first glance, and I want to see the beauty, really I do. But so many days all I can see is the way it highlights the imperfections - and there are a lot of them. Somedays instead of gratitude and wonder all I feel is disappointment and shame. Even though my head knows it’s a lie, there is something in my heart that still believes this life we have isn’t good enough.
Sometimes it is so hard to see the beauty in the mess.
It’s become one of the reasons I love all the photo editing apps on my phone. With a few clicks I can create a new perspective on an ordinary moment. I know some folks have the opposite experience; they feel it drives competition, comparison and discontent, and maybe that is true. But for me, it helps me notice the good. It fosters in me an appreciation for everyday moments, teaches me to step back and see the beauty that is in our regular, unfiltered lives.
That picture of little L at the top there, the one where he’s wearing the 33 jersey? It shows just the right amount of imperfection, just enough to be charming without being scary.
Here is another picture of our kitchen from the same angle. Despite my every inclination, it is unfiltered and uncropped.
When I look at this I see the light, I see the art. But mostly, I see piles on the island that are always, always there - of mail, random papers, toys and Lord knows what else. I see stacks of schoolwork on the desk, a broken dvd player and a neglected Target bag. I see hydrangeas that need to be planted, one of which is pretty much dead, and incriminating signs of our caffeine addiction. I see a bowl that should have fruit in it on a counter I know is dirty in front of windows I can remember cleaning once. Ever.
I see to-do’s and should’ve-done’s and have-to’s all over this old house. That is our real right now - a constant state of motion, the perpetual feeling of chaos, of being undone.
But there is a realer real beneath it all, a love that makes the mess worth it. The catch is remembering which real trumps the other.
My real is a kitchen sink that is never empty and laundry baskets that are always full. Plastic bins full of seasonal clothes waiting to be sorted through for the ever-growing littles. A behavior chart that hangs in the kitchen thought I still have hardly a clue how to discipline. A broken horse wagon sitting by the coffee morning after morning, waiting for repair.
My real is Shrinky Dink leftovers on the dining room buffet and superheroes everywhere. A five year old who wakes before I do and desperate prayers that I’ll one day turn from a night owl to an early bird. An upstairs bedroom only the closest of friends is allowed to see. A glass of wine at 4:30 and maybe another one at 6.
My real is mothering through grief when I’d rather go back to bed. It is having so very little together, so very little control.
My real is also sweet bedtime prayers with a five year old who last night prayed for every single person on earth and on Mars and means it, every word. A mom who drives across town to bring me the most unusual azalea because flowers make us happy. A little boy who likes to run his fingers through my hair when I tell him goodnight.
My real is a husband who walks in from a stressful job to a house of hyper and/or cranky kids and a worn-out mama, yet he ducks down for hugs instead of ducking for cover.
My real is watching up close as a girl learns to read and being there to hear every sweet mispronounced word from the lips of two toddler boys.
My real is thanking God each day that those boys knew their Papaw before he went to heaven.
My real is leaning into the One who holds all things together, the One who is sovereign no matter the depth of my mess.
He gives grace to help us in our time of need and when we are paying attention we take it.
That is my every moment. That is my really real. And when I manage to remember that, even dust in the bright afternoon light is beautiful.