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“Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out, honestly, I wanna see you be brave…”

My precious girl is off to camp this week while my oldest son and my husband are in Ethiopia. This is Selah’s second year attending Pine Cove camp at The Towers and she LOOOOVES it. Some of you might remember that last year, I found this list she had written down about all the things she wanted to do at camp. I still laugh reading that list!  You can read it here-

http://followingbutterflies.org/2013/07/26/there-are-watercolour-ponies-on-my-refrigerater-door-and-the-shape-of-something-i-dont-really-recognize-drawn-by-careful-little-fingers-and-put-proudly-on-display-a-reminder-to-us-all-of-how-tim/

This year, we’ve been dealing with a good amount of anxiety. One of the funniest things about Selah is that she isn’t scared of things she should be scared of, and she IS scared of things that likely will never happen. She can deal with anxiety even over things she has done multiple times, and sometimes she doesn’t recognize what is happening in her mind and body as anxiety. I’ve been working with her a ton this year on stopping and recognizing what is happening to her physically and emotionally, being able to put a name on it, and making a plan to relax. What happens when she DOESN’T do these things is that she will get nervous, get unfocused and impulsively act on whatever idea pops into her head. I don’t think I need to tell you that those ideas are not always wise (see also multiple self inflicted haircuts).

So this month, I started seeing her display anxiety and I knew part of it was Wes and Josiah leaving and part of it was her going to camp. Even good stress is still stress, but sweet Selah just doesn’t always recognize that, so one afternoon I snuggled with her in my reading chair and asked her to make a list of all the things she was worried about for camp week, and asked her to write down some truth about those fears and a plan for how to fight off that anxiety. The following is part of her list (some of her fears are too personal for blogging), and some of her methods for calming down.

 

What I am scared of, by Selah Nicole Butler the First

1. What if daddy and Josiah have so much fun and don’t want to come home?

Truth- Daddy and Josiah have more fun at home because we have more fun things like pizza and sports on tv and Watermark and friends. And I am here and Mommy is here so daddy will always come home for mommy.  I should write to daddy sweet words so he doesn’t forget that I live here in AMERICA.

 

2. I am nervous because what if there’s a rat when daddy is gone and it bites me.

Truth- Mommy will just call a brave man in our community group but I don’t know who that is. I should find out. Mommy will call the xfrigerader (so close) to come and set traps. I can make my own trap with a pipe cleaner and cheese and a net. I need a net. I can use tights. 

 

3. Scared because a girl at camp last year said I talk too much.

Truth- God made me have all my words and HE LOVES ME SO THERE. Pray that she likes me. Pray that if I have too many words, they should mostly be about God. Some of them can be about horses and Taylor Swift.

 

4. What if it floods at camp?

Truth- Selah, remember about Noah. If it rains a lot, we can build tree houses. God, can you make it rain a lot?

 

5. What if an Ethiopian person gets mad at Josiah about talking about Jesus and he hits him with a broom or a rock or throws him into a crocodile pit. 

Truth- Daddy is there and he is strong. Josiah can run really fast. He can swim fast too. Maybe if he hits him with a broom then Josiah will catch the broom and then sweep his kitchen for him so he will want to listen about Jesus. Mr. Tim will protect him too. And Ms. Baker will because she is a teacher so she knows what to do when kids are mean. I wish Ms. Baker was my teacher. If Josiah gets hurt, I will never stop crying. I will be very mad at that man and I will throw a evangle cube at his face. 

 

6. What if I ride a horse and it gets spooked by a snake and it runs away and I fall off of it and I land on top of the snake and it makes the snake mad and the snake is Voldamart’s snake. 

Truth- I’m just kidding about the Voldamart part. If my horse gets spooked, I will just say whoa nelly and feed it carrots. If the horse doesn’t like carrots, I will feed it mexican food. If I fall off the horse, my counselor will carry me to the hospital and mommy will drive really fast to come visit me and bring me some flowers. I will forgive my horse because it’s a horse and I don’t even know if they have brains. I would be so scared if I saw a snake too, especially if it has jewels on it’s back. It’s like snakes are trying to trick people because they are shiny with diamond on their backs but they are mean. That’s just like STAN (pretty sure she meant satan) because he tricks people that he’s nice but he just wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He even wants to kill horses. 

 

7. What if my counselor is mean or doesn’t love Jesus or doesn’t like me or is a boy.

Truth- I don’t think my counselor is a boy because that is not aprowprate. I think my counselor will like me because I am nice and I will make her bracelets and I will brush her hair and I will sing to her but I WON’T SING JUSTIN BEIBER DON’T ASK ME. If my counselor is mean I will ask her what’s wrong? and give her a hug because everybody has a bad day. 

 

8. What if a girl is mean to Mela because she has brown skin? What if Mela cries?

Truth- I will WANT to punch her but I won’t punch her because I will get in BIG trouble and that girl is just sad and she might not have any friends. I will tell Mela how pretty she is because she has really pretty curly hair. I will make Mela a special BFF bracelet and I will make the other girl a bracelet and tell her she can only wear it when she will use kind words. I will hold Mela’s hand if she cries and give her tissue and ice cream. I will cry too because that’s so so mean. I will pray with Mela because she loves Jesus too. But I might not pray with the mean girl until later because I will be so so mad. 

 

Well, there you have it. Let’s hope none of these things happened at camp this week!

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Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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Dear Ms. A….

Dear Ms. A,

I know you already know this, but my name is Selah Nicole Butler the First.  I just like to call myself that.  I am so excited to be in your class this year, because you taught my brother last year and he said you are really nice and a good teacher. When my mom got the letter in the mail, I was upstairs and I was crossing my fingers and praying “PLEASE let it be Ms. A!” and I guess God said yes! I think we will have so much fun this year, because Josiah said you are fun and I know I am fun. I have so many ideas of things we could do this year. I have so many ideas all the time. When I wake up in the morning, I usually go into my parent’s room and say”Mommy, what if we did _____ today??”  Sometimes she says okay, but sometimes she says something about it’s not time to wake up yet. Sometimes I even have ideas in the middle of the night and I wake up and tell mommy about them. Then she usually says something like we can’t play in the sprinkler in the middle of the night or whatever. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can’t do all my ideas, it’s like my ideas are sometimes just too big for my head and even too big for the world!  Mommy and Daddy say that they think I am going to change the world. I don’t know if they mean because of my cotton candy idea (I invented a button in your car that gives you cotton candy to eat while you are driving but it stops if you drive over the speed limit. Then no one would speed and get into car crashes because everyone loves cotton candy!)

I told my mom something this summer that I am scared of. See, something you might not know is that Josiah and I are very different. He likes school A LOT and he really likes homework. I think he likes homework because he can do it alone and he does it really fast. Sometimes he does it so fast that mommy makes him go back and do it again, just so he can do it more carefully.  I think Josiah is the smartest boy I know, and he thinks school is super easy. I don’t know what his grades are because mommy and daddy don’t let us see them yet, but I bet his are really good. I like school too, but it is not easy for me. Have you ever been to a rock concert? With all the crowds and the loud noises and the lights and smells and everyone is bumping into you and it’s easy to get lost and confused and scared? School feels like that for me most of the time. Sometimes I can’t tell if someone is really my friend or if they are making fun of me. I like to believe the best about people, so sometimes kids make fun of me and I don’t even notice. School is also hard for me because all my ideas take up all the space in my brain and it crowds out all the other things like reading and math. Word problems are especially hard for me. I always forget what they are really asking because I get distracted by what they are eating or wearing or how I think they are feeling. Those are important things! Mommy says it’s not important to understand if Sally is angry or sad that Johnny took some of her apples, but I think knowing how someone feels is ALWAYS more important than knowing what happened. I reminded mommy that she always tells me that people are more important than things. She mumbled something about not ever homeschooling after that, but I don’t know what that means. It’s kind of sneaky, but I also figured out that if something is hard and I don’t know how to do it, it’s just more fun to think about the things I DO know how to do. And sometimes I DO know how to do a problem…but then the air conditioner turns on or someone comes in the room and it distracts me, and then I forget about what I am supposed to be doing and then I think about how pretty it is outside and I hope I see a bunny at recess and I wonder how Malachi is doing at school and did you know we are having spaghetti for dinner tonight??

Mrs. A, I told my mommy that one thing that scares me is that you won’t like me as much as you like my brother because he’s so good at school. When I told mommy that, she looked right at me and hugged me super tight and said “God gave you an amazing brain and I can’t wait to see all that He’s going to do with it!” She also cried a little. She thinks I didn’t notice, but I notice EVERYTHING. But I am a little scared that you might get frustrated with me because Josiah always knows where his things are and he never forgets his homework. I might need you to help me remember to take my folder home and where my locker is. I might need help knowing if someone is being nice or mean. I might need you to tell me that it’s okay that I don’t read as fast as my brother does. If you do these things, I will teach you all the Taylor Swift songs.

You and I are going to have so much fun this year. I know that for sure- I’m Selah Nicole Butler the First, EVERYONE has fun with me!

Love,

Selah

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“There are watercolour ponies on my refrigerater door and the shape of something I don’t really recognize, Drawn by careful little fingers and put proudly on display a reminder to us all of how time flies…”

Selah is at camp this week, so it’s been rather quiet around the house. She was excited about going to Pine Cove, but also nervous. Sometimes she struggles with being able to put words on what she is feeling, so we can tell that she’s sad/scared/anxious, but she can’t articulate why. This year, I have really worked with her on writing down her feelings and possible ways to deal with those feelings. Aparently, she took this to heart, because I was cleaning her room and found a list she made.  I am beyond curious to find out how many of these she accomplished this past week….

Things I can do at Pine Cove Camp

1. eat pudding

2. find Black Beauty if she lives there

3. Pray for a baby sister- NO BROTHERS

4. Tell girls about when Taylor Swift said hi and touched me (read about that here- http://followingbutterflies.org/2013/05/28/i-dont-know-why-all-the-trees-change-in-the-fall-but-i-know-youre-not-scared-of-anything-at-all-dont-know-if-snow-whites-house-is-near-or-far-away-but-i-know-i-had-the-best-day-with-you-t/ )

5. drink so much sprite

6. remember to ask whats your name first

7. ask if I can sleep in the stable. maybe they let me or maybe they wont. pray for yes. Obey if she says no.

8. don’t brag about Taylor Swift that she’s my BFF

9. Don’t drink the pool

10. tell my counselor about Jesus if she doesn’t know. she might already know.

11. I can give my fairy costume away to a girl who likes it.

12. remember to hug GENTLY like cotton candy

13. find a girl that is lonely so she wont be lonely because we can be friends

14. Think about sunday

15. im not going to think about daddy and josiah and malachi and mommy so I don’t want to be so sad

16. be brave and get on the lip line

17. maybe the horse can sleep in my cabin

18. tell my counselor if the music is too loud. maybe she will take me to ride the horses.

19. find a boy with brown skin to look at so i can think about sweet little Mally muffin

20. smile at girls so they might like to play with me

21. that’s all I can do

Coming clean- I totally cried reading this. I love that she wants to binge drink sprite, think about her dog, get on the *zip* line, and adorably try to manipulate her counselor into taking her horseback riding again. I LOVE that she is thinking about how be a good friend, how to be generous, and how to share the gospel with her counselor (LOL). What a sugarpie.

Stay tuned to find out which goals she reached!

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Have a question for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

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“Just me and you, not so many things we got to do or places we got to be, we’ll sit beneath the mango tree now, yeah it’s always better when we’re together…”

After a bit of writer’s block, Selah wandered into my room and asked why my screen was blank. I joked with her that I was waiting for her to write for my blog, since my brain wasn’t working. She asked me what I wanted her to write about and I told her she could tell people how to make the summer really fun for their kids. About fifteen minutes later, she walked back in with this. Clearly, she doesn’t suffer the same block as her mama does!

Dear Mommies and Daddies, I want to tell you about how a summer can be fun. First, plan fun things. We don’t like being bored. Choose really fun things like putt putt, swimming, fun houses, or Papa Johns. Second, you gotta get them ready. Tell them where you are going if they don’t like surprises. If they do like surprises, lay out their clothes the night before so they can guess what you are doing. Third, have a date with them. Maybe go painting pottery or trying on jewelry even if you don’t buy it. But girls like it when you buy them a bling. Maybe choose a movie like some boy movies and some girl movies. Maybe some dog movies too. Also maybe have a dress up party. You can dress up like a horse or Mary Magdalene.

Let us sleep. School is hard, you know? Cook fun snacks. Snacks are what summer is all about. Have sleepovers WITH nail polish. I can do it myself. Go to concerts even if you don’t want to because music is beautiful and very important. If you don’t like it you can wear earslugs. I know they are called ear plugs. That was a joke. Teach us things. Teach laundry. Teach us about cupcakes. Eat cupcakes. Clean the house but not too much. Make popsicles with no food dye. Say, hey why don’t we and then say something fun.

Don’t leave babies alone. They might crawl out of their cribs and chew on coins. You can leave teenagers alone probably unless they chew on coins too. If I had a perfect day I would eat donuts and then ride horses all day. I would eat lunch in the field with my horse and I would eat chicken and carrots and mashed potatoes and share with my horse. I would have a sleepover with my horse. I would stay up late telling my horse I love you. I would also eat cake. The most important thing for you to know is to love your kids and love Jesus. He helps you when you don’t want to love ANYBODY.

Love,

Selah

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @brandyb77

“I don’t know why all the trees change in the fall, but I know you’re not scared of anything at all, don’t know if Snow White’s house is near or far away, but I know I had the best day with you today…”

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Getting ready to paint the town RED…

A few months back, a sweet friend emailed me and told me that she wanted to give me two floor seat tickets to see Taylor Swift for this past weekend. After I regained consciousness and started to breathe again, I started to plan our “Day of Taylor” with Selah. I didn’t tell her until the week before the concert, which was soooo difficult. I felt a bit like “Sue” for weeks-

We told her the Saturday before the concert, and spent the next week planning outfits, which ranged from Taylor Swift pajamas to a red ballgown with lyrics written on it, designed by Selah. In the end, we made matching t-shirts that said “Like, ever” on the front. Now, if you know my daughter, you know that she is a HUGE Taylor Swift fan. She has a notebook that she has written songs in just like Taylor. She wants to learn the guitar. She wants to live on a christmas tree farm, because Taylor did. At one point, she became convinced that Taylor might be her birth mother. But at the same time, even though she is a superfan, she’s also a little girl and she’s never been to a concert, much less a concert at Cowboy Stadium. Added to this are her sensory processing issues, and I wondered if this would be an amazing experience or a huge disaster.  I spent the week giving her A LOT of sensory input and therapy to get her tank filled up before the concert, and we prayed together about the noise and crowds. The night before, Selah displayed some new thoughts on theology when she prayed – “Jesus, so I’ve been thinking. I really really want to meet Taylor tomorrow night. If I met her, I’d pray with her and invite her to church. So I guess if you love her, I’ll get to meet her tomorrow. Amen”

So clearly we have some work to do on the whole don’t try to manipulate God to get what you want thing…

We drove to Cowboy Stadium, and about halfway there, Selah decided that we were going to be late. The concert started at 8:30. It was 5:00 when she started panicking. We finally found a place to park, and walked into the stadium. At this point, the very beginning opening act had just finished and they began to play Taylor’s album over the sound system. Selah’s eyes were already huge and as soon as she heard that, she started pulling me down the hall because she was convinced that WE WERE MISSING TAYLOR WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU MOMMY WE ARE MISSING HEEEERRRRRRR.

I tried to reassure her that it was just a recording, but you had to shout to be heard and she wasn’t paying a bit of attention. I had my arm around her, trying to calm her down, when I felt her sort of slide down against me. I looked down at her face and saw her eyes flutter close and realized…

My daughter is passing out. My daughter is passing out over Taylor Swift. Sweet fancy Moses Cowboy Stadium people,  please stop playing the song.

I scooped her up, and sat down on a bench, trying to reassure people staring at me that she was fine, just a little overwhelmed. I put my hand on her chest and asked her to breathe with me, and slow down. She opened her eyes, turned and looked at me, and promptly burst into tears, crying “I’M JUST SO HAAAAAAPPPPPPYYYYY”

For. The. Love.

We waited in the line to get our wristbands, and made our way down the ramp onto the floor. I made her stop and use the bathroom, since I knew she wouldn’t want to leave once it started.  This is the part where I’m so sad I didn’t have my phone out. We walked out of the bathroom and heard some shrieking and see Taylor Swift walking down the hallway. She was just walking like, hey y’all, what’s up, yeah I’m Taylor Swift, let’s not make a big deal out of it…

Selah stood there, and I am pretty sure she didn’t breathe for a good two minutes. Taylor smiled and said “Hi”

Selah looked up at the ceiling, as though she could hear the angels sing the Hallelujah Chorus in that moment, as I quickly looked around for a medic in case we needed a gurney. She looked at me dumbstruck and I, with all gentleness and compassion of a mother, looked her in the eye and said “Do NOT pass out again.”

I can't love this picture enough.

“And I’ll never ever be the saaaaaaame…”

We find our seats, where Selah immediately makes friends with everyone around us and informs all of them that she has a little brother adopted from Ethiopia and they too can adopt from Ethiopia if they want to. Ed Sheeran opened for Taylor and he was amazing. We were sitting next to another little girl and her mom, and after he was done, Selah asked the little girl what she thought of him. She looked thoughtful and then said “I don’t know. He was kind of weird. I think he is going to break his guitar. But he also looks like Ron Weasley. So that makes me like him.” Selah nodded at this sage wisdom.

And then it happened. Lights dimmed and the opening notes of State of Grace started…

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Selah had this expression for pretty much the whole concert…I think. There was that whole 15 minutes that seemed like an hour that I couldn’t find her. Yes, that’s right. My eight year old rushed the stage, climbing over innocent people and likely dodging security. At some point in the concert, Taylor moved to a closer stage, and as she did, I turned to say “Selah, look, she’s coming closer”, but as I turned, I saw nothing. I turned towards the stage and all I could see was the back of her tutu, flying in the wind as she climbed over chairs and disappeared into a mob of people. At this point, I thought- okay, don’t freak out. I couldn’t leave my seat, because what if she came back and I wasn’t there? And not to mention that while people might let a cute little blonde girl slip by them to get closer, aint no way they are letting a middle-aged mom move past them. I’d get pummeled with glow sticks and drowned in the tears of teenage girls who realize their boyfriends are NEVER going to write them a song like Ed Sheeran. It could have gotten really ugly. So I simply sat down and prayed- Lord, keep her from being trampled. Lord, help her not trample others. Lord, seriously, I really don’t want this night to end with being escorted from the stadium.

She came back when Taylor moved back to the other stage, and she grabbed my hands and yelled “SHE TOUCHED MY HAND MOMMY.” I suppose that was worth the slow stroke I was having.

The concert ended, and we met up with Mindy (the sweet friend who gave us the tickets) to say thank you. Y’all, seriously, there is NO WAY we could have ever afforded to take Selah to this concert, much less have these amazing seats. It was unbelievably generous of Mindy, and I am so grateful that Selah was able to not only go to the concert, but see what selfless giving looks like. I’ve explained to her that Mindy could have very well have sold those tickets, but she chose to give them to us, simply because she knew Selah would enjoy them. I was and am blessed by that- so thank you again, Mindy!

On the way out, Selah tried very hard to convince a security guard to give  Taylor a letter she had written. The security guard was very nice, but she said “I’m sorry honey, I am not allowed to take a letter to her.” Selah said “what if I take it out of the envelope, and then it’s just a piece of paper?” She laughed and said “No, I can’t do that either.” Selah replied “what if I drop it on the ground and then it’s just like trash that you just decide to give to her?”

Such an attorney.

Her letter says-

Dear Taylor,

I am so excited to get to see you in concert. I love love love you. I have two brothers. My big brother is from Texas and my little brother is from Ethiopia. Maybe you could visit there someday. You might be nervous about tonight but I am praying for you so don’t be nervous and break your pinky. I hope I get to meet you. Maybe you can come over and have a sleepover. My mom will make us the best snacks. She plays guitar too. Maybe better than you but probably not. You wrote a song about a best day with your mom and this is my best day with my mom. I hope you know how much Jesus loves you. Will you come to church with me?

Love,

Selah Nicole Butler the first

(I tried to explain that the phrase is “break a leg”, but she insisted on pinky)

We got into the car, high on music and cotton candy, and then sat in traffic for at least an hour. What blessed my heart was my sweet girl deciding that since we were sitting there, we might as well pray for the people in the cars that we were next to.

Such a fun day, and a great memory for us.

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“Call me on the line, call me call me call me any anytime, call me my love, you can call me any day or night, call me…”

After such a heavy, difficult week in the news, I thought I would try for a little levity. A few months back, a piece called “Dear Mom on the Iphone” went viral. http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/dear-mom-on-the-iphone/

Lots of people loved it. Lots of people hated it. I just decided to write how it goes in my life….

Dear Mom on the Iphone,

Hey you, over there looking at your phone.  You are doing a great job with your kids. You work hard, you teach them manners, no one has bitten anyone in a good three days.

But Mama, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…

Your little girl is currently spinning around, sunshine in her hair while she cheerfully explains how babies are made to a slack-jawed four-year old girl who never intended to get a birds and bees lesson when she asked your angel to play tag. She’s such a beauty already, partly because she’s borrowed your “Viva Glam” MAC lipstick. It’s currently hiding in the pocket of her dress where it will be later used to paint the dog’s toenails and fill in any unnecessary gaps in your outlets. She keeps glancing over to see if you are looking at her, for she is now dissecting what we can only guess is a half dead squirrel. She pokes at it with a stick, Mama. Oh wait, the stick is abandoned. Now it’s her fingers.

Don’t look away. There’s more…

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!”  I see you look up, giving him the universal look for “don’t even THINK about peeing down that slide!”

He sees that too.  His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to pee on.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing.  She loves it!  Cooing and smiling with every push.   But your head is bent, looking at your shirt and wondering “When did I eat spaghetti?? That was three days ago!”  You snap your head back up, as you were beginning to fall asleep and look at your phone to see where the nearest Starbucks is with a drive thru.

Talk to her and tell her about the world around her. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly. Glance down at your own version of the baby belly and see the running app on your phone that you downloaded but don’t know how to use.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids. Seriously, put your eyes back on them. They are circling a bee hive screaming “FREE PINATA!!”

Show them that they are the priority. I know, you got up early after staying up late helping your son glue 1, 467, 532 buttons onto a piece of cardboard for his “Been Jammin’ Buttons” project for music class at school, and no one has even laughed at your clever title, but suck it up!  Wherever you are, be ALL there.  For it is written-  “Thou shalt be ALL there, whether thoust be cooking or going to the bathroomest, whether thou is awake or asleep, if thou is bleeding profusely from multiple orifices, be thou ALL there or thou shall be smited with being in charge of the teacher giftest, and March Madness that shall last for four scores and seven years.”

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy.  They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”  Someday soon they will scream out “WHATEVER MOM! I’M NEVER GONNA REGRET THIS JUSTIN BEIBER TATTOO. WHEN WE GET MARRIED AND HAVE OUR FIRST SON, FEVER, AND OUR DAUGHTER, LEEVITO, YOU’LL SEE!”

Love,

Me

ps. I wrote this letter on my Iphone. That’s not important. Uh, have you seen my kid?

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Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

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“She’s a rich girl, she don’t try to hide it, diamonds on the soles of her shoes…”

Selah(gasping)- “There mommy! That one!”

Me- “Oh. That one?”

Selah(eyes shining, like she had never seen something so beautiful)- “Yes mommy. That’s the one. That’s the perfect one.”

Me- “Honey, are you sure? Don’t you want to look around first? I am sure-”

Selah- “No. This is it. I love it.”

Me- “Help me understand why you want this one”

Selah- “Because! It’s a big girl thing and you told me that this year I was getting to be such a big girl and you bought me my first shoes like it.”

Me(sighing)- “If you are sure….okay”

Every year, I take the kids to a store and they get to pick out a new ornament for our tree. They are supposed to pick out one that represents them for that year, something that is a memory or expresses what they liked that year. It’s fun to unpack the ornaments each year and see the fire truck that Josiah picked his first year, or the cupcake Selah picked out the year I taught her to bake. I have veto power of course- no cartoon characters, not picking something just because they like it, it needs to mean something. This hasn’t been a problem and I’ve never had to veto a choice, but I was sorely tempted this year. For this, this mascot of garish christmas ornaments…this is what my girl picked.

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But she was right. I had told her she was a big girl this year and I had bought her a pair of white shoes with a tiny bit of a heel that summer. So I agreed, we paid for it (while avoiding the cashier’s eye who I was sure was silently judging me for having a christmas tree slightly reminiscent of an 80’s sweatshirt. Just call me Kelly Kapowski)

I’m going to take a deep breath and be open and authentic with you. We’re friends, right?  I’m going to admit that in the car, I was planning on where I could hang this…this thing…where no one could see it. That’s right…I’m the Grinch who stole neon christmas. But Selah would not hear of it- she wanted it displayed front and center. So on the tree it hung, and every time I walked by the tree, I noticed it. How can you not notice it? It calls to you, nay, screams at you “LOOK AT MEEEEEE….PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEE….WHY DON’T YOU LOVE MEEEEE….” I felt like Ebenezer being visited by the ghost of christmas tacky.

If you are saying “But Brandy, why didn’t the ornament just have an “unfortunate accident” on the way to the tree?”, then you and I are probably going to be friends. But no such luck. Selah insisted on carrying the shoe herself, and presenting it to the tree as a gift worthy of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I swear the tree glanced at me and grimaced.  It hung all season, beckoning to all who came to the house to come, come and worship the baby, the baby who was now crying in the manger because the light reflecting off of Donna Summer’s shoes were keeping him awake.

Christmas came and went, and the decorations were slowly being taken down. Pretty soon my house would be restored back to order. We just bought our first house, and I have been anxious to get it decorated and settled. I’ve had sugar plums dancing in my head too, only mine have been holding tiny paintbrushes and fabric swatches.

As we were taking down the last of the tree, Selah walked up to me holding her ornament. I wrapped it in paper and put it in the box and she gave me a hug. She said “Mommy, thank you for buying that for me, I love it so much.” and I said “honey, I’m curious- what do you love so much about this?” and then she wrecked me. She said “I wanted it because you bought me high heels this year and you have high heels and I want to be just like you!”

I can’t even type that without tears. The thing is, Selah wasn’t being like me. She wasn’t concerned with order or color scheme or preconceived ideas of what a tree should look like. She saw something, something others rejected, and saw great beauty and value in it. She saw something that reminded her of her mama and she was drawn to it. I was willing to hide it away because it didn’t fit. She displayed it front and center because it was beautiful. And it made me start thinking about other ways I do this- hide something away or avoid it altogether because it doesn’t  “fit”. Are there people I don’t interact with because I don’t know what to do with them? Are there tasks I avoid because they are difficult for me or because I haven’t taken the time to see the value in them? When Selah looks at her ornament, she sees me and she sees our relationship. I long to look at others and see my Father- see their beauty because He created them. I want to set aside my agenda for His, and I know that will involve some “neon pink shoes”.

If you come over to my house, you’ll find newly painted walls , new curtains….and a sparkly pink shoe ornament that I’ve set in my kitchen. It stays. When I see it, Lord help me remember that this pink shoe was the most beautiful ornament we had this year.

Selah wants to me like me. I want to be like Him (and a little like her too).

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

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