ten.

ten little fingers. ten little toes. as a mama with new babies, that’s what i looked for. didn’t you? i can hear the cry from a room of nurses and midwives and grandparents, as they celebrated the arrival of a whole little person.

 

somehow, that symbolized perfection. whew – deep sigh – baby was all there, whole and perfect.

 

but what if she wasn’t? or he wasn’t? what if, like my precious friends, we’d tried for years and couldn’t have a baby of our own? what if we’d been given a baby who, by the world’s standards, wasn’t “perfect?”

 

i volunteered for years for a beautiful organization called now i lay me down to sleep. (i need to get back to it since we’ve moved.) we offer free photographic services to families who are losing a little one at or near birth; we offer a way for them to validate the life of their precious baby, for however long they have the chance to hold him or her, here on earth.

 

 

waterbirth_photo_angela_sackett

 

my daughter once asked me, “do you cry at the sessions, mama?” “yes, usually, i do,” i said. “do you cry for the mamas, or for the babies?” she asked.

 

and really with very little analysis, i realized i cry for the families. the babies, they will be ok. they’ll join their papa-Creator in His arms, and He will hold them, complete and without earth-brokenness. but the families, they get only a taste of that creation-breath, if at all. they get only a glimpse of the person they helped form, here in the shadowlands. and if they have no knowledge of the One who molded those limbs, those lips, who painted those perfect lashes, then they hold their little one without hope.

 

if, though, they know Him, if they walk hand-in-hand with the Artist who makes all things beautiful, then their moments of encounter with their smallest loved one are a mere glimmer of the light and the beauty that will be shared completely, in all its glory, at the end-and-beginning of Life, complete, when they reunite with Him and with each other.

 

so yes, here on earth, ten seems a perfect number. but our eyes see darkly, dimly, through a mottled mirror that doesn’t accurately reflect what is Perfect about us each. though we all are broken, we are formed in the womb of our mother with intent and care, with love and artistry. and someday, in our new home with the One who loves us most, the ultimate glory of our creation will be visible, and we will celebrate… we will dance.

 

 

dancing signature divider web

 

p.s. – feel inspired to write?  or to see what others are sharing?  i’m joining a cool group of thinkers and writers sharing on fridays – stop here to see the beginning of the journey.

hope.

“find a new wife, then!!” i shouted.  it hurts to type the words.  it’s embarassing, and besides, it brings up that gut-sinking feeling all-too-quickly.  the one that comes from feeling betrayed.  from feeling unloved.

 

we joked during our courtship, after we knew we were going to marry each other.  “till death do us part, even if i have to kill you!”  we’d both been through broken marriages as kids, the victims of a parental choice to part ways.  one of us lived through being used as a weapon against one parent by another.  we knew we never wanted to live through that desolation, and we certainly didn’t want our some-day-kids to live through it.  yet here we stood, fists clenched, each feeling desperate and angry and defensive, and the scars on our own hearts threatened to infest the hearts of our precious children, not far outside the door of the room in which we waged our verbal war.

 

overflowing_hope

 

truth be told, in my marriage, i’m more the talker.  over the years, he’s let me rant until he can’t take it another second and then let fly with his own darts, sharp and well-aimed.  i’m quick on my feet and come out fighting, but somewhere along the way i’ll duck and run, defeated by my own quick burst of energy and fearful of being deserted, backtracking to avoid an unwanted conclusion and receiving instead a sense of desperate alone-ness; of hunger for resolution.  on a good day, my knight would pursue me into the forest of my own confusion and work out the truth and reconciliation despite my kicking and screaming.  on a bad day, he’d throw up his hands and let me go, and days of silence and loneliness would follow.

 

i hear that same sense of isolated resignation in the voice of a woman i love as she flatly states her sense of survival has kicked in, her tone devoid of even a sigh.  she’s hardened her heart and she’s working on locking it up even tighter, convinced there’s no hope and she will never feel loved and valued.  and the truth is, without intervention, there is no hope.  no matter how i try, and no matter how much she longs, for something better,  there are always people involved.  they will fail.  i will fail… you will fail.  inevitably, your self-preservation or your past voices will kick in and you’ll punch and flail and demand what you deserve or the one you love will.

 

but hear this:

 

there is One who loves you more than life.  He made you, and He wants to romance you, heart and soul, and somehow in some mixed-up crazy way, He will use the very brokenness that has shattered you to mold you stronger and more beautiful than you can imagine.  He is the God of Hope.  He is father, son, and spirit, and He will waltz in and snag your dreams and enlarge them and somehow, as you let go, He gives you way more than you ever longed for, more than you imagined possible, more than you’ve demanded, time and again.

 

can you hear Him?  He’s whispering your name.

 

i’m speaking bold, friend.  i’m speaking to me, too.  much love and many hugs…

 

dancing signature divider web

seared scallops with blueberry compote

sometimes i go days and weeks in “survival mode” with feeding our family. life this summer has been a whirlwind; we have three kiddos working full-time and a summer visitor, we’re still unpacking and personalizing our home, and soon our oldest will “fly the nest” to leave for college for the first time. there are days when dinner is peppers dipped in guacamole and a brown rice cake with almond butter (and days the kids eat at work because none of us planned ahead to do otherwise!). but then i long to be creative again and, inspired by what’s available fresh and near our home, find myself making seared scallops with blueberries at midnight (insert shocked-face emoji).

 

seared scallops with blueberry compote

 

until our family moved to the east coast, i’d never really had scallops. by that i mean, i’d never had scallops that literally were walked off the boat and into the waiting hands of the chef, who seared them and served them with just salt and pepper and butter and a little bit of lemon to brighten them. i’d never had scallops that were huge and so sweet that i wondered if i could have them for dessert.

 

our friend matt stopped by the other night after work, bringing our kiddos who are his co-workers, and smelling the butter and spices, he settled in at our kitchen island for a literal midnight snack. he laughed at my lighting setup to capture this dish for you, and he told me that i shouldn’t be using the word “compote” at 12:15am. i agree; this girl needs sleeeeep! but this is a season where we are trying to take the time we get; and can i tell you? this dish was worth the crazy.

 

seared scallops with blueberry compote_1

 

little recipe note: i think this would be amazing with cranberries when they’re in season. i’m going to give it a try with the same ingredients and process when i can get my hands on some; if you try it first, let me know what you think!!  oh and ps: my kids made me promise to say that they thought the hazelnuts overwhelmed the dish.  i liked the crunch, but now that we live on the shore where there are gorgeous scallops to be had fresh off the dock, they’re purists.  butter, salt, pepper, and we’re golden.  so in honor of my food-critic-kiddos, maybe try making your hazelnuts smaller than mine, or leave them off altogether!

 

seared scallops with blueberry compote
Author: 
Recipe type: seafood
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: serves 4-6
 
fresh scallops are quickly seared and served on a puddle of warm spiced blueberry compote with lemon zest and toasted hazelnuts.
Ingredients
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon each cardamom and Chinese 5-spice blend
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves or ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • splash balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound fresh atlantic scallops
  • ¼ cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Using a fine grater or microplane, zest lemon and orange and reserve ½ of zest.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine blueberries, broth, ½ zest and the juice of lemon and orange, cardamom and 5-spice blend.
  3. Create a small "bag" out of cheesecloth containing cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.
  4. (Alternatively, you can place cinnamon stick and anise directly into compote and use ground cloves.)
  5. Bring blueberry mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer; allow to simmer approximately 20 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Remove cinnamon, star anise, and cloves from blueberry compote; stir in splash of balsamic vinegar and set aside.
  7. Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towel.
  8. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
  9. Melt butter in batches in a hot skillet, searing each scallop just 1-2 minutes per side.
  10. Serve scallops on a drizzle of blueberry compote.
  11. If desired, top with zest and a sprinkle of hazelnuts.

 

 

seared scallops with blueberry compote_2 dancing signature divider web