Just straight up — there was no way we were going without our girls.
We had four of them between us, Lauren, Rebekah, and I.
Four daughters between us, and not one of a them that would let anyone think for a blink of a New York minute that they were all about sitting still and looking frozen pretty.
No way — only a few seconds with these girls and one flash of a dimpled grin and it was pretty clear: you were in the presence of some gate-leveling, risk-it-all Esther girls here.
You know — the kind of girls you can’t merely describe with words — you have to experience them: four silvery splashes. White light.
Yeah, I’d up and decided it back in the spring — I was only taking to planes anymore if one of our fledgling daughters was taking wing with me too.
I’d wanted us to share the world together, hear the unspoken cries for soul water everywhere too and decide: My life is going to be about being a bringer of water. Anywhere.
When the girls didn’t speak the Kinyarwanda language of new Rwandan friends, us mamas watched our daughters reach out and touch hands. Us mamas watched them clap and laugh and share songs and dance, the dust and their voices rising like a meagre and willing offering. Us mamas watched how the palm of their hands met all their sisters, how they found each other and held on, and us mamas watched them look into eyes and learn to say thank you in a new tongue.
Strange how that always is, anywhere you go: The most universal language to speak is gratitude, the language of friendship.
And yeah, our daughters — They never stopped watching their mamas ask hard questions, mostly of themselves, watch us wait and struggle and be broken and believe and not shirk back. None of us were afraid of the witnessing or the wrestling. Our daughters saw our messiness on African dirt, our tempering and shaping and transforming. They prayed for us and with us and they saw our tears and we found each other up paths and around tables and under mosquito netting and we held on.Every daughter needs to see how life can wrinkle you and this is what makes you beautiful.
When we walked straight up hill under the Rwandan noonday sun, us mamas would find our daughters’ hands. Because even when we are just breathing or are baffled by the other, we are connected to one another — mothers who have quietly grown the bones of their daughters’ spine so she can walk honest and brave, mothers whose own blood runs like a river through their daughter, so she can live open, fluid and willing.
Under the shade of an avocado tree, we’d wondered: What kind of lives would our daughters live because they did life with us?
Wind came up through the grasses.
We didn’t and don’t know those answers yet, but there is this knowing, this living:When a mother leans in, listens and learns — she shows her daughter the inner gears of love.
And every daughter needs to know that when she speaks her Father’s mind, His heart — she makes even now and this place into her Father’s world.
It can happen, one day as you turn on an Africa red path, at an American sink, and there she is like an epiphany: A daughter who once shared her mother’s body. A daughter and mother once lived in the same body. And a mother literally shares her mind with her daughter, parts of her mind unfolding in her girl…
And when she was born, she unfurled from you into flight — and all of her life, you have witnessed her soaring from the shores and edges of yourself. You can never stop her, freeze her — you can only beckon her to come and see the world through your eyes.
It dislodged me and I shifted — when those four daughters of ours turned and all their hair was braided —
like one woven fabric of hope.
* * * * * *
Both of our girls were there with their mama, when I knee-knocked into Catalyst and this glorious room full of women.
Women who want to know how to run their race, answer their calling, live their vocation — women who wanted to wrestle with hard questions, with real praxis.
Before the afternoon is over, a woman finds me in a corner. She’s looks me right in the eye, her hand pressing hard against my arm:
“I’ve got three little kids at home and my heart is burning up to serve the women all around me — and I just gotta ask: How do women juggle their kids and this call to ministry?”
And I want to be the fool that says, hey look — we’re all just a room full of jugglers. Jugglers running our own ridiculous three ring circuses with our own troops of monkeys. Love the circus that is yours, love the monkeys that are yours. And don’t forget to eat the cotton candy. And laugh loud and lots. And Perfectionism isn’t a fruit of the spirit. Joy is.
But what I find my mouth saying is other words… that are saying the same thing:
The thing is, our juggling becomes becomes a form of God-art, when we live a One-piece Life.
You know — a one-piece life, like a one-piece quilt — no piecing together, no seams, no tearing, no fragmenting, no guilt. Just one cloth. It’s all ministry. It’s all calling. It’s all holy.
Mothering a mess of kids is a ministry as much as preaching to a stadium for a month of Sundays.
The size of your ministry isn’t proof of the success of your ministry. The very Son of God had a ministry to 12. And even one of them abandoned Him.
Forget the numbers in your work. Focus on the net value of your work.
When you let all the fabric of your life weave fluid together — the kids, the serving, the going, the giving — your life becomes this seamless tapestry.
Live into the kind of ministry that lets you bring your life with you. Live into the kind of vocation that lets you live a full life.
Any kid can tell you — they can bring cookies anywhere with you and they can sing to anybody. Any kid can shake someone’s hand and smile.
Every kid can touch people with you.
The work of family can flow fluid into the work of serving, which can flow fluid back into the fabric of the family, and family and ministry and your life’s work can be a One-Piece Life and what corporate model threatens to make our lives so profoundly disconnected?
What corporate model has infiltrated our collective thinking such that family and work and living and modelling for the next generation what life is all about — has left us with painfully disjointed and fragmented and compartmentalized lives?
What corporate model has forced us into thinking we have to alternatively freeze pieces of our lives or we can’t fully live other pieces of our lives?
Because, c’mon, it was some clown’s idea to tear our lives up and freeze them into little blocks of secular and sacred, into disconnected pieces of family and vocation, of ordinary and meaningful. The Bible has no category or language for ‘secular’ — all is sacred — or the sacred profaned. There is no such thing as secular: All of life is sacred — or desecrated.
When your work is a One-Piece work — it’s all holy ministry and it’s all for an Audience of One.
Like it was said of Him right at the end: “Now [His] tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. They said therefore to one another, ‘Let us not tear it…’ (Jn 19:23).
Let us not tear apart the daughters from their mothers, the mothers from their daughters, the family from the serving, the serving from the family….
When you live a One-Piece Life — you don’t see your life as falling to pieces as much as it is falling together.
* * * * *
And then we are only home a handful of days when some news headline bursts all pluming proud that Facebook and Apple were going to pony up to pay for the freezing of any female employee’s eggs.
And then they blare that some lovely actress, Renee Zellweger, maybe felt she had to freeze her beautiful face with a bit of Botox to find her way in a youth-obsessed culture?
And my girls are bent over books, oblivious to either blast of headlines.
Their hair looks like white light, back lit by the last of today.
When did someone start shilling that women need to be freed from the confines of their own God-fashioned biology … as if our God-formed state of growing children and growing older, is somehow wrong, as if we need to freeze the parts of us that makes us female and human and made in the image of God so we can hold some imaginary clock at 25 years of age?
Like a friend & I said: Supporting women through infertility treatments is a truly a privilege. Trying to reshape women’s reproductivity to support capitalism is truly painful.
Yeah, that again — What corporate model has forced us women into thinking we have to alternatively freeze certain pieces of our lives or we can’t fully live other pieces of our lives?
Women aren’t burdened because we may birth children some decades or that we may wear the astonishing gift of growing older other decades — there is nothing inherently flawed with the way our Father formed us.
In our callings and vocations — Women aren’t called to suppress their femininity, their motherhood, or their age. Women are called to beautifully express it.
The notion that women have to change how our gender works to do good work — or we have to pass by/delay/compartmentalize being mothers, because of that work — is not a truthful, helpful or needful word.
Instead of freezing eggs and faces, what if there was cultural support for family and ministry and vocation as fluid, and mothers could be with their daughters and sons, and daughters and sons could be with their mothers and witness this holistic modelling of a fluid One-Piece Life, could witness what our ministry and our service and our daily work look like, woven together, and that it wrinkles us and grows us and it is hard and it is wrenchingly beautiful — and it is not to be missed.
When communities begin to invest in One-Piece Lives — when there is community support for weaving family life through vocational life, all of which weave together into these One-Piece Lives of sacrifice —
perhaps we won’t see family and women as falling to pieces as much as falling beautifully together.
Women don’t need culture or the corporate world pressuring them to freeze either their personal reproductivity or their progressive maturity — women don’t need to be frozen numb. Women need to be notably free. Free for whatever road they are called to and to embrace whatever season they are in — free to make a One-Piece Life.
Women don’t need face lifts — like they need their arms lifted as they become even more becoming with time.Women don’t need equipment to fight their wrinkles or freeze their eggs — women need encouragement to embrace the whole gift of their lives.
Women need to be free to mature beautifully and serve vocationally and mother fluidly.
Sure — Fight the cultural expectations of aging — but don’t ever fight the beauty of maturing.
Wrinkles are the etchings of God. Who wants to hide being made into His masterpiece?
Our daughters sit together, there by the window.
I watch how they do it again, how they just keep doing it day after day —
They take their strands and weave and braid this one plait that falls like fluid glory —
like an ageless offering into the light.
Related Post: The Great Challenge Facing All Women — and why women can be freed from judging each other
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When You’re Flat-Out Desperate to Live What You Believe
Photo Credits: Rwanda Photos — the very talented Esther Havens