Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lest You Think It's Picture Perfect

I have some fun photos and stories to share from Charleigh's birthday weekend, but I haven't had the time, energy, or will. And it dawned on me, earlier: I don't want to be misleading. Ever. I don't want people to look in at my life and think it's oh-so perfect or that I'm perfectly happy all the time.

If you're interested in the truth, I'll give it to you. Here's the truth: in the last few weeks, our Internet and the power steering on my minivan have gone out. My cell phone, the washing machine, a shelf in our refrigerator, and the coil pack on Jim's truck have broken. A skunk has sprayed the outside of our log cabin, and we've killed a mouse and a snake...inside our log cabin.

I'm working through old issues, new issues, marital issues, parenting issues. I'm trying to establish balance: figure out how to teach the girls; get them to dance/gymnastics; keep up with Cade, his school stuff, and activities; take care of the baby; beat back the piles and dust bunnies in my house; pray and do the things God wants me to do; and be good to my loved ones, including those at the adult home.

Maybe because I choose to read, write, photograph, and explore/travel (with the children, but sometimes over cooking or cleaning), more than one person in my family has suggested that I'm spoiled. Someone even suggested recently that I'm narcissistic. I don't know how this can possibly be true of an utterly dedicated mother of a thirteen-year-, four-year-, three-year-, and ten-month-old, but there you go: sadness, a source of mine.

And then...the voices that chime in and say: count your blessings; it could be worse. I know that. I have friends whose children have flown from this world. I have a friend whose little daughter is battling cancer. I have a close childhood friend battling leukemia. My older son's stepmother has been unwell most of this year. My own brother has been unwell to varying degrees for nine years. I go around and around with the Lord over these very things, oftentimes in the middle of the night. I believe He wakes me to pray. In the shadows I ask Him: why do You wake me to pray only to deny my requests? What sort of work are You trying to do in me?

It doesn't make it easier to know other people have it worse. It just heaps guilt (And sometimes fear: oh my lands, I can barely put one foot in front of the other now; what if it gets worse?) upon the rest. Who am I to complain?, but it's still hard. Life is hard. IT'S HARD. IT'S HARRRD!!!

Monday, my real-life friend Beth wrote this post (You should read it: click here!) asking, ultimately: why is it that you cannot be replaced? And honestly, I couldn't think of a single reason, so I stared at the screen and cried. Like, I had been beaten down to the point that I had no earthly idea.

But today I called Marlece. She prayed over me, and I took a nap; now, I'm strong enough to say: of course I cannot be replaced.
  • No one else knows my children like I do, having grown them within...then breastfed them from my body for four years, five months and counting. 
  • No one else will take zillions of photos of them.
  • No one else has my words for them. 
  • God selected me for my husband, despite our struggles. 
  • I am my parents' only daughter and my brother's only sister, and I haven't been perfect, but I've sure enough been dedicated.
  • The Erins need me, and Rachel. The others might not need me, but they'd miss me (especially Christy, Sharon, and Anjie) because no one else does adventure like I do: tons of kids, crap falling out the minivan right and left.
  • Who else cares so much about tacky lights, blow mold, giant fiberglass sculptures, and roadside America?
  • Who wants to challenge me in the cookie-baking department? Really.
  • Who else is going to break Miss Joyce out of that place and take her to the science museum and zoo?
  •  And who else is going to pray those same, old unanswered prayers if I'm not here to do it?
Oh, y'all. It's not perfect, no matter how it looks in photos. Most of the time, it's a big ol' hot hoopty mess. People be yellin' and runnin' amok in the Good Will, and sometimes I just want to put my head down and cry. If it were a job, I'd quit, some days. But it's not a job: it's my life. It's hard, but it's my life, and I claim it over and over because I cannot be replaced.

Photo by Anjie Kay

Photo by Anjie Kay

Photo by Rachel Huff

Photo by...One of the Snyders...

Photo by Bridget Maxey

Photo by Harriet Stone


  1. Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes.

    Love you.

  2. Haven't met a 'perfect' person or family yet...myself/mine included! Thanks for being so authentic & willing to share that.

  3. It is so important to have friends that can be real with us.

  4. love you and yes if you were not here I would miss you but I do "need you" much ......... as well........ and the rest of your crew too!

  5. my new favorite post. I love this, Brandee and I love you! You most certainly cannot be replaced!

  6. You are one of a kind and Jesus made you exactly like you are, we all have room to improve and learn but HE KNOWS our heart and yours? Sister, it is a beautiful one. Thank you for blessing my day with your call it is such a privledge to pray for you and with you.

    Love you so....

  7. i feel the need to re-bring up the cookies because Oh. My. it is one thing to have the gift of, say, prophecy, but your dual gifting in the baking and giving departments is every bit as miraculous, and has healed many a bloodied heart.

    i'm sorry things have been falling to pieces, and i'm sorry for the added blame and preaching and all the ways we wound each other. this life IS hard, and i can't make heads or tails of it ninety percent of the time, but i'm glad you're in it.

    i am praying for you, for your jim and your sweeties and your brother. and i'm praying that God will show up just how you need Him and always in time.

    you are a gift in my life.