{what I'm reading} The Broken Way

I braced myself for disappointment
when opening The Broken Way;
After Ann’s first book had been so life-changing
how could this sequel measure up?

I’m still not sure how, but it has.
This book answers questions
I didn’t even know I had
after reading One Thousand Gifts.

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One question in particular:
If Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle…
what is the miracle that is to follow?
That is the question The Broken Way seeks to answer.

I would try to explain,
but Ann does so much better.
Her words are poetry, impossible to speed-read,
inspiring me to slow and consider each one.

The stories are deep, but not out of reach.
Deep like the foundation of your own home,
down-to-earth as you might expect from a farmer’s wife:
illustrations that come from the ground we all walk on.

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Ann gently uncovers the “unspoken broken”
hidden deep in the cracks of “your one broken heart”.
“Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart’s broke open?”
And maybe a heart that’s broken is better for pouring love out.

Ann tells me that “what matters in your life
is not so much what happens to you
but what you happen to remember…”
And I want to remember her words.

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So I draw lines in the book
and write words on sticky notes
because the things I choose to remember
will influence how my life happens.

I don’t always write in books
and rewrite the words I read
so as to keep them within reach,
but Ann’s words I do.

I read One Thousand Gifts three times,
soaking in the beautiful, poignant stories,
so I should have known to expect that The Broken Way
would be full to the brim with more of the same.

choose love

Dear Little One,

I thought that my 25th birthday
was my best birthday ever
knowing you were growing
inside of me.
But this year
as I hold and
feed you at my breast
I realize this birthday is better.

This year has been so hard
with challenges I didn't foresee.
I knew it wouldn't
be exactly easy
but didn't see
these particular challenges coming.
Even so, it's worth it
for my Little Love, my baby.

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I have learned much of love
this first year of motherhood
loving you, your father,
and loving myself.
You two are
wonderful teachers: loving me
and showing me how I
am worthy of beautiful sincere love.

Before your father married your mama
he created a little game.
When one lover said,
"I love you"
the other responded
with a question: "Why?"
The answers vary based upon
the needs of one or another.

The responses to this perennial question:
"Why do you choose to
love me each day?"
grow and change.
Sometimes they're silly,
sometimes almost too serious,
but always and forever they
remind us of our marital promise.

This promise that we made before
you were born. This promise
you see lived out
every single day.
This promise we
solidify every time we
play this sweet silly game
and say "I love you" again.

When Mama wonders why your father
would love a distracted and
distraught housewife who hardly
keeps the house
he tells her,
"Because love is patient,
keeps no record of wrongs,
and hopes for all good things."

When your father fusses yet again
at the state of affairs
at home and abroad
his wife whispers
"I love you
because you choose to
care even when you're tempted
to send them all to h*ll."

He loves me because I smile.
I love his scraggly beard.
He loves that I
follow his lead
and I love
that he leads well.
This game helps us remember
that love is a beautiful choice.

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Listen well, Little One, and learn
that looking for love reveals
how it is there
to be found
whether it's dark
and hard to see,
bright and in plain sight,
or a soft and intimate glow.

The topic of this letter to my little one was inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: Love.

on finding your voice

Dear Little One,

The day before we boarded the plane
you found your voice.

You made beautiful sounds
from the day you were born
but this was different.
After finding your voice
you vocalized with purpose.

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Oma taught you to sing
while we stayed at her house.
She sang a line and let you
fill in the last word.
You do love music.

Before I know it
these sweet coos and hums
will turn into words and songs.
With such word-lovers for parents
I won't be surprised if you are one too.

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You joined us at the festival where
your father debuted his book
and I also shared mine.
Both give voice to thoughts that came
through complicated phases of life.

For you see, finding your voice
is not something you do once.
It is an ongoing process,
a discipline, a practice.
One I will nurture in you.

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This is why I carry you with me:
so that I may share my passions
and not miss milestones—
so that you will hear my voice
and I will hear yours.

You have now begun to find your voice...
may you never stop.

The topic of this letter to my little one was inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: Voice.

this transformation that is motherhood

Dear Little One,

Three weeks ago
you and I
went through a dramatic, almost violent change.

For weeks and months
leading up to it
I eagerly anticipated that trasition...

So impatient
to hold you
in my arms, and now I do hour upon hour.

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I have spent
my whole life
looking forward to becoming a mother — your mother.

This trasformation
did not happen
at the moment of conception or moment of birth,

For just as both
conception and birth
are a process, an experience, so is becoming a mother.

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As a mother
I am not
someone entirely new, but I have changed.

I still write
I still work
but now you join me, cradled against my chest.

I love you
so very much
my dear daughter, my first-born, my wonderful child.

I'm excited to watch
you transform and grow
in stature and wisdom and favor with God and man.

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The topic of this letter to my little one was inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: Transformation.

but first, remember

Dear Little One,

Memory is an interesting thing.
It makes us laugh
or cry
or want to forget.

Sometimes forgetting seems the easy way out
and while there is a time to forget what lies behind
to press on toward a better future,
there is also a time for ebenezer stones,
monuments of memory that remind us
of the better future we have already tasted.

I am all too often
too quick to forget.
So I write
to choose to remember.

Because remembering the most important things
doesn't come naturally.
Even after she was admonished repeatedly,
"remember, remember, remember,"
Jill forgets every vital sign until almost too late.
Thank God for grace.

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Your father
reminds me often
to remember,
remember, remember.

To remember who I am and who he has made me,
for a member of the Aspen family has a peculiar identity.
To remember where I have been and where I am going,
for they are such different places.
To remember who supports and leads me,
for to follow your father is to follow a great King.

Memory is not only
our perception of
the past;
it shapes the future.

So let us together embrace these experiences
choosing to see in the memories
visions of future hope.
For even the worst memories speak of survival
and the best are tastes of heaven.

The topic of this letter to my little one was inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: Memory.