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Archive for March 2016

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Just a little something that happened today. And a reminder.

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Just a little reminder today.

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We returned yesterday from our Easter holiday to find that the wisteria in our backyard is in full bloom. It’s beautiful, and makes even the muddy backyard smell beautiful. And, I was fresh from watching Baby Girl show her bloom in conversations and play and other evidence of how her amazing little thinking works. Keep blooming, Baby Girl. Keep blooming.

letters to my daughter 032316 + Ballet Memphis!

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We were happy to see Ballet Memphis perform in Starkville last night as part of the Mississippi State University Lyceum Series. We have seen the company in a couple of traditional productions in Memphis, but last night’s pieces were less what you expect from traditional ballet. They were more experimental with interesting variations of costumes, disruptions to the typically fluid ballet choreography, and a more abstract form of storytelling. I think what we all enjoyed most was the unusual musical selections chosen for the dances. One of the things I love about Ballet Memphis is the diversity of the company, and I think that lends itself to some very interesting storytelling. The pieces we saw last night were clearly rooted in Southern culture, and used music that is very indicative of the South with combinations of traditional hymn-like religious music, the negro spiritual sound, a bluegrass feel and even some voice sound recordings of interviews and old gospel sermons. One of the pieces exclusively used Roy Orbison songs — not your typical score for a ballet performance. The consensus favorite with my crew was called “The Darting Eyes,” and was inspired by traditional Mississippi River baptisms through many eras. It was a really beautiful blending of an almost ghost-like historical imagery with the sacred rite of baptism so much ingrained in Southern culture.

I loved that a non-traditional performance like this (absent of the frilly tutus Baby Girl loves about her own ballet performances) could provoke conversations with all three of my children. It was amazing to see the fresh eyes through which they viewed the performance. I’m so grateful we’ve had the chance to see this wonderful company perform several times. Today’s Letter to My Daughter was inspired by the unexpected combination of music of ballet traditions we saw last night. I want to encourage my kids (and myself) to have the courage to choreograph our daily dances to our own music — no matter how unexpected.

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I finally painted an alternate heading for this series for those days (like today) when my words are to both my sons and daughter. It’s holy week, and we’re beginning to read about Easter and think about the meaning of it. This Bible verse is the last page of an Easter picture book we read each year. To me, it summarizes the purpose of God’s word and a good reminder of the “why” that must exist behind so much of what we do as people of faith. As I’m trying to help my children ingrain some of those words and beliefs in their hearts, I want them to know that living out their own truths begins and ends with this one sacred truth.

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It’s fun to listen to my children. Their hearts and their thinking processes all come out in a cadence of rushing words and thoughtful pauses as they try to articulate whatever is exciting them at the moment. Sometimes, it takes some patience to follow along. And sometimes it requires hanging on for a high speed chase to try and capture all their ideas. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I’m not all that interested in the topics they choose. When you get right down to it, I don’t really care about the box jelly fish Maggie discovered that can send a person to the hospital with a single sting. Or about the latest Super Smash Bros battle and which weapons they earned when they leveled up. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter to me how many trap doors they’ve built into the floor of their Minecraft monster prison. No, the details don’t always matter to me. But, the sound of their voices does. Knowing that thing they’re excited about in this moment matters. Hearing the words they choose to describe and explain and detail all those little personal pursuits and interests matters. It matters to how they see themselves and how they see me. It matters in helping them know that their voices count. Their thoughts matter. Their heart — and whatever it’s pursuing at the moment — matters.

This week, I noticed something when Baby Girl was in one of her seemingly constant streams of explaining this or that. More than once she said, “I’m sorry. I know I talk too much.” Somehow and somewhere she’s gotten the notion that she talks more than she should. It’s possible she heard that from one of her brothers. It’s possible she’s been corrected for talking at the wrong time at school. Or maybe she inferred it from a time when I said, “Mommy can’t listen right now.” Regardless of how she’s internalized the notion, I don’t want her to second guess the power and importance of her own thoughts and her own voice. I don’t want her to apologize because she has a lot to say, or because she has the gumption to say it out loud. I never want her to feel she has to apologize for speaking the excitement in her heart.

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Happy rainy Friday, friends!

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This week I have been amazed seeing photographs of the so-called “Super Bloom” in Death Valley, California! Because traveling to California over the next few weeks isn’t on our calendar, I’ve been binge searching photos of the Death Valley landscapes and information, and I’ve been so intrigued by the phenomenon. I mean, how can you not love something called a “super bloom”, right? An area that owns the designation of the hottest, driest place on the North American continent has been exploding in a surge of wildflower bloom carpeting the desert since January — something that only happens every decade or so! Scientists believe that the increased blooming in this normally dry area occurs during El Nino years following a surge in storm activity, including unusually heavy wind and rains. Typically the wildflower seeds lay dormant for months or years in such barren soil, but they are brought out of slumber by the watering of the storms. What a beautiful example of how perseverance leads to flourishing. Sometimes the most torrential storms can produce the most amazing seasons of blooming. Maybe I’m just hankering for spring flowers, but I want to capture that season and make it stay. I want to show and teach my children that storms and struggles don’t have to lay waste to fertile ground. No, very often, they can usher in a new surge of life in what we may have thought was a dead and barren land. Today, I just want to say to them (and to myself), “keep rocking that Super Bloom!” Don’t let the storms keep you silent and still and stagnant! Stay living and growing! And let the storms produce an even more vibrant season of blooming.

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Spring! It’s the season when everything around us seems to start coming to life again. The “flower trees” (as my children call them) in our front yard are starting to bloom — the whites of the Bradford Pear and the purples of the Redbud. It’s almost like the branches are stretching themselves out after the long winter, reaching as high as they can toward the sun that’s helping their buds open. I hope I’m teaching Baby Girl and my boys to do the same. To keep reaching, even through the cold and rainy times. To keep growing and stretching and learning and blooming.

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