She climbed a hill and I snapped a photo of her, standing small and resolute against a wide open sky. I thought to myself, she’s a mountain climber, she’s a conqueror, she’s brave, fearless. When she climbed back down to me, I laid my arm across her thin shoulders – God, when did she get so tall? – and gathered her to my side. I said, I think you’re a brave kid.  Then a few days later, she didn’t want me to use the adult nail clippers on her toenails because she was scared of them. She said, I know you think I’m brave, Mumma, but I’m not that brave yet. No big deal, I told her, you’re brave when it counts, these are just the times you get to practice. You are brave, you are.

I can’t help myself, I’m my father’s daughter: I want her to hear my voice speaking the truth to her about her own self. Brave. Smart. Funny. Clever. Wise. Gracious. Kind. Disciplined. Gentle. Loving. Generous. You are you are you are you are….

I like her. I like sitting on the couch with her on Saturday nights while we watch HGTV together. She curls up against me, still hanging onto her old Blankie, and offers up opinions on tile back splashes. We’re pals now, or at least we’re sowing the seeds of friendship. I pray sometimes that I’m sowing enough now that when she is writing in her diary (or her Facebook wall? who knows what kids will be doing in a few years) that she hates me and I don’t understand, I hope there’s still a tendril of the truth down there under all the angst: Mum loves me she loves me, no matter what, she’s where I belong. And hopefully she will still be her mother’s daughter: she will come back to me.

I genuinely like her. Oh, she’s great. I would eat her up, I love her so. She’s a lanky kid now, all colt-ish and quirky, she’s missing half the teeth in her mouth and she wears leopard print runners with sequins on the toes, and I adore everything about her. She’s a really-real little kid now with occasional fits of sulkiness and drama.

I can’t help myself, I’m my father’s daughter: the more fiercely she sulks, the more I laugh at her. And she can’t help herself, she’s her mother’s daughter: eventually she starts laughing through her frustration, too, she’s not a grudge-holder.

When she wakes up from a sound sleep and wanders out looking for me in the night, I can hardly breathe for how she is all of the girls at once: she’s still my little blue-eyed baby, still my first little toddler, still the preschooler, still my wee girl with the triangle mouth. Her eyes are sleepy, her hair is a tousle, and she still wants me.

I can’t help myself, I’m my own mother’s daughter: so while I have a chance, I’ll hold her and trace her eyebrows with my thumb, I’ll sing old Keith Green songs like “Oh, Lord, you’re beautiful” into her dark bedroom like a lullaby until she’s asleep again.

You know what, I blinked. I did, I blinked, and now she’s wearing skinny  jeans and bossing her little brother and little sister within an inch of their lives instead of sleeping in the middle of my bed, milk-drunk and mewing.

She is at the stage when she wants to hear the old stories, the family legends, and sometimes we end up telling her, oh, you’re so much like your mum when you do such-and-such, and then she glows with belonging. She can’t help herself, she’s her mother’s daughter: she will grow into her communal identity and make it her own.

Everyone likes to make fun of the charismatics and the Word of Faith people with their emphasis on “confession,” with the silly reverence with which they treat their language, with the way they act like words are poof! – magic. I get that, I do.

But I still catch myself, holding onto my words, and some part of me wonders if I am speaking life or death, if I am speaking identity, if I am forming her life with my words.

In the beginning, before we know better, maybe the voice of God sounds like the voices of our parents. It would be nice if that’s a wide path to follow straight to the truth of Love, instead of a prison to unlock or a fetter to untangle or a dark wood to wander until we find the light. In the beginning, until they know better, I hope the voice of God breathes in my words to them: loved loved loved loved lovedlovedlovedloved thumping out a rhythm of belonging right into the ventricles of the breath.

Perhaps I am still wrestling with some aspects of my Mother Church. Resting in the in-betweens is okay with me now. Yet I find I am reclaiming more and more, fighting my way through the weeds of over-realisation or extreme cases or weirdness, to find the seed of the real that is still there. After the fury, after the rebellion, after the wrestling, after the weighing and the sifting and the casting off and putting on, after the contemplation and the wilderness comes the end of the striving and then comes the rest.

And maybe someday the tinies-who-won’t-be-tiny-anymore will remember how their Old Ma watched the words she spoke over her children, caught the words she assigned to them and made them into faith words, how she filled their ears with their identity of the Beloved and spoke it over them because she finally gave in and admitted what she’d always known to be true: at the end of it all, what is there left to speak but the Truth in Love?

 

 

In which I'm into some stuff (August 2013 edition)
In which I am among the Spanish oaks again
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  • zinncristy

    Oh my… my daughter is at this same stage and I love her so much like this – with the knowledge that these moments are short! Thanks for the reminder that I need to treasure the words I speak over my little girl. Love your blog!!!

  • Sarah, first time commenter here.. I so loved this I had to say something. I’ve had a similar (maybe?) wrestling with parts o the charismatic movement.. but the power of words is part of the wonderful inheritance I have from my time spent there, and I am so thankful to God for the way it changed “the tape” in my head of what I heard God saying..and also changes the way I communicate with my sons.. Thanks for this beautiful post.

    • Glad to meet you, Devi – thanks for popping in. And yes, I have the same feelings about the inheritance of our histories.

  • Bev Murrill

    Your words are LIFE … she will live through them and because of them… she will live a life of fullness, of faith, and of fruitfulness. Your words in her heart… freedom.

  • KimberlyCoyle

    I grew up in the charismatic movement, and the idea of speaking things into existence has stuck where so many other things have fallen to the wayside. Perhaps not as much in practice as I would like, but I still feel it pulsing beneath the surface. Words matter, and I needed to read yours, to grasp a hold of your gentle spirit and pray God helps me cultivate one of my own.

    • Isn’t it funny how those things we discard have a way of sneaking back up on us when we need them? I so identify with that feeing of things “sticking” with us.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    So Much Love! My nearly grown girlie – our only – is off to college orientation today. She returned from her first (of many, I pray) road trips – a weekend at the beach with a girlfriend. Sure – we’ve been apart… there have been other vacations, school trips, summer camps – but this was different… for she planned it on her own and it was just another step towards independence. I can say – we cried like babies as she walked out the door and prayed like crazy that freedom would feel brave and free and that she/they would have a blast on the shore… and last night, upon her return… she cuddled with me on the couch and was needy for love, and playing with hair, and snuggling in close… all because I purposed from the beginning to Speak Life… to Be Love… to Shine On… I can say – even through a couple of tough teen years… of broken hearts and broken dreams and just all sort of brokenness, she loved me still. She, too, is her Mother’s Daughter… I won’t promise you hard times won’t come – but I can testify that even through them – your words matter and what you are sowing now will keep that heart to heart connection strong when everything else feels weak! Good on ya, Mama… these girlies… they amaze and undo, don’t they?

    • What a beautiful story, Karrilee. So encouraging! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • the picture, the words…beautiful.

  • I’m a little “milk-drunk and mewing” after I read your words. Honestly.

  • Just lovely. I don’t even have kids yet, but one day I hope I can express my love for them as eloquently as you!

  • So beautiful Sarah, wonderful, poetic & powerful. I hope one day to write as beautifully as this.

  • pastordt

    Well. I surely thank God for your father and your mother and the way their words over you helped to create the person you are now. And that girl? You KNOW I think she’s just the cutest, wildest, smartest creature on the earth (except for my grandkids and her sister and bro, that is :>) Lovely write. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Diana – always and still learning here.

  • You should have listened to The Doctor. Don’t blink!

  • Vavavavoom. What a post.

    And that photo? incredible.

    All of this, YES.

  • Lovely in every way.

  • My middle daughter is 14 now. Late last night she crawled into bed and fell asleep next to me. Her smooth-shaven legs draped across mine. It was wonderful. I spent some time thinking about Motherhood this morning. So many opportunities to influence the lives. I wondered how they will remember our time together. I’m trying to cherish every moment…and use my words to impact. This post was precious to me. Loved it!

  • I’m not so sure anymore that EVERYONE likes to make fun of charismatics and Word of Faith people. I grew up in that tradition and ran as fast and as far as I could from it because of the craziness. But as I get older, I’m realizing I may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. I’m realizing there is sound scriptural basis for minding the words we speak. I’m realizing that while I can’t necessarily speak a thing into existence, I can’t have a positive life with a negative mouth. So yes, there is a “seed of the real” and may those seeds give birth to life and love for our children and those under the sounds of our voices. Beautiful Sarah.

  • Brilliant conclusion. Love this so much Sarah.

  • Laura Marie Lee

    Can’t say as I know what you mean about charismatics etc as I’ve never experienced it (I’m English, CofE with a bit of Quaker thrown in), but this does resonate with me about the power of words for good or evil. So many of us are unguarded about what we say (to anyone), and maybe not conscious of the impact of what we say. I certainly know I’ve hurt people in the past by speaking without thinking, and people do remember things long after you do. I can remember a line from a film called The War where a father says to his son “Son, it only takes one second to say something you’re gonna regret for the rest of your life”. So true. Maybe if we realised the true power and impact of words, we would speak better . . .

  • I hate blinking.

    But I love this snapshot of you and your daughter and the invisible chain between generations. And for what it’s worth, I think it’s true – words matter, love matters, it sticks to them and molds them and etches truth into their souls.

  • Michaela Evanow

    Sarah, as a fellow Vancouver/lower mainland +Jesus loving+ mama blogger, I just have to say thank you. Thanks for writing out your heart and inspiring someone like me. I love writing, I need it. But I never found my story until last year, after my baby girl’s terrible diagnosis. Now I write my journey because I have to, because He’s leading me too. But I often come back here, remembering the days I read your blog while she was still in my womb. I still find inspiration here, knowing you are just a mama like me, pursuing her dreams, book writing in the chaos, amongst the Mennonites and great thrift store shopping in Abbotsford. That’s where I met my husband, he was at CBC.
    Well before I write my life story, I’ll finish. Thanks for being an awesome, creative woman.
    I’m over here: http://www.michaelaevanow.com

  • I cried reading this, friend. Thank you.