From the Brook to the Stream

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time, Meg. It’s hard enough to have you change all of a sudden. Let me be a little girl as long as I can,”     Joe March, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

It’s more or less what my daughter Audrey said to me on the eve of her thirteenth birthday.  I refer to it as her sandwich birthday. A birthday where she is tucked between two worlds: girlhood and womanhood.  So much of her pines to remain in the world of girlhood where afternoons mean dress up, reading books about horses, tea parties with the little sister and such.  Yet, something pulls, no yanks, at her to face the next season of life: young womanhood.  But as her mother, I encourage her to wait until the yank becomes an embrace.

…the girl of thirteen is in some ways a riddle to her mother and, in may ways, a puzzle to herself.  She is no longer a child to play freely with her mates in the games which delighted her at ten.  She is not yet a woman, even though she may have womanly tastes and aspirations…She is daily gaining in breadth and independence.”
  
At this time, she needs more than ever the mother’s loving guardianship, and the wise mother keeps her daughter very close to her side in confidential affection in daily life, in the purest and most intimate association, for the little woman is passing through a transformation.”  Beyond Beautiful Girlhood,  Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Some day, regrettably sooner than later, the dress-ups will make their way to the attic, the tea parties will be a memory, and the horse books will sit on the bookshelf, no longer read.  Savor the moment of girlhood, I say.

So my sandwich girl is not only tucked between opposing worlds, she shares the world pinched between two spunky, lionhearted red-headed siblings who wake up ready to face whatever challenge the day may bring.  Whereas Audrey, the cautious, quietly observes, and plans her attack from the sidelines. 

The child will become a woman at last.  You slipped into girlhood naturally, and just as naturally you will lay aside girlish ways and settle into womanhood.  Beautiful Girlhood, Revised by Karen Andreola

For Audrey, womanhood, not yet; there is still a bit of girlhood left.  While waiting for the brook to meet the stream, the sandwich girl had an afternoon of glory, a day neither tucked between two worlds, nor pinched between two spunky siblings, just all out girlhood, lady-like fun.  Olivia, the older sister, hosted an Audrey Hepburn themed birthday party (no, sandwich girl is named after my great-grandmother not the Hollywood icon).

Tiffany blue invitations with a silhouette of the elfin actress requested the presence of friends, most of whom are at the same girlhood-womanhood precipice (designed by Olivia ).

Hepburn movies served as a backdrop and focus for the evening activities:

  •  Floral arrangements (In the spirit of Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady)

    •  Outdoor Relay – dressed in floppy Hepburnesque hats and dark glasses, in teams, each guest raced  to stuff a mouth full of marshmallows instead of marbles (again in the spirit of Eliza Doolittle), then off to crack eggs with one hand (Sabrina in her French cooking school), ending with a race to pull a fake 10.00 or 20.00 dollar bill pinned to a clothesline (How to Steal a Million Dollars) 

      Above Photographs compliments of ARC Photography

    • Cupcakes – we served each girl a Tiffany-like cupcake topped with a silver candle (a wish for every girl).  For the non cupcake fans, we offered Breakfast At Tiffany’s pastry as a tasty alternative
      Photograph compliments of ARC Photography
    •  Guests chose a baubled headband (rather than a tiara) in black, Tiffany blue, or silver
    •  Bunting with vintage Hepburn photos, balloons colors of the party, strings of white lights, plastic champagne glasses filled with tea lights, all adorned the dining room

      Photo compliments of ARC Photography

      Photograph compliments of ARC Photography

    The time mothers have with daughters is fleeting, just like the blue sky, green pasture Anne of Green Gable days of being a young girl.  Cradle those days like a precious gem.

    For mothers of newborns, take every opportunity to gaze into the eyes of your little one. For moms who chase a toddler about the house and still do not dare leave the house without a diaper bag, clasp the hand of the one you chase and sear the image in your memory of that small hand in yours because in just no time at all that hand will equal yours in size.  For the mom who dodges in the bathroom for five minutes of peace and in less than five minutes beloved fingers lace their way under the bathroom door asking if “you are in there?” remain stalwart in your mission of motherhood. Time with our children spins quickly like the wind that motions a pinwheel.  Soon enough your dear one, like mine, will stand at the door of womanhood reluctant to open to the new world on the other side.

    Don’t rush innocent pleasures; evoke them.  As your girl ponders and prays about the next season of her life, provide moments for her to stitch a thread, sketch a sunset, read a novel,and long stretches of companionship with you; her most ardent supporter.

    Some gentle resources to help you and your daughter navigate your way from the brook to the stream:

    Books

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      Dying of Thirst

      Half sipped water bottles strewn atop the counter served as a symbol of our plenty, a nation of affluence. Our Easter gathering of friends quieted as we assembled in the kitchen, coffee in hand, to view the slides of the dynamic duo’s recent trip to the Village of Hope in Haiti. 
      My husband, the agronomist, installed irrigation at the village orphanage.  Irrigation almost guarantees a bountiful harvest.  Farming revolves around water; either too much, which results in flooding, or too little, which delivers devastating drought conditions.  That is precisely why conversations with farmers begin and end with the topic of weather.  While my husband toiled shoulder to shoulder with the missionaries in Haiti, weather proved irrelevant.  Providing a water source, not necessarily clean water, but simply a source of water trumped any five day weather forecast.  Irrigation for the orphanage symbolized progress.  No longer would the girls and the staff need to haul bucketfuls of water for distances over terrain that reduced the bucketful to cupful.  Basic irrigation lines would now drip water to moisten the hard soil and then flow to the seed, “…seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

      In sweat soaked shirts stained with Haitian soil, my husband and the missionaries stand back to view their day’s labor.  The three of them stop to pray and cry, grateful for the opportunity to serve the one true Living Water. 
      Water, the life source, trickles through the patch of garden in the Village of Hope, as the Living Water drenches their souls.

      As my husband, the “blanc” farmer to the Haitians, labored in the fields my daughter irrigated the hearts of the girls at the orphanage with compassion and hope.  The white American girl with the dark, curly hair wiped away tears from the cheeks of a girl too young to be burden with the grief that looms about her like a constant shadow of sadness.  They sing in half Creole, half beautiful broken English, This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in Him, and tears turn to smiles in this little village with lots of hope. 

      Drinking water, now, streams from the orphanage spigot.  Water irrigates the Haitian soil while back at the orphanage young girls cup their hands and gulp Living Water, “as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields… 
      The “blanc” farmer and his daughter with the curly hair will return to the land of plenty and not look at a half empty bottle of water the same.  Pouring the lukewarm water down the sink is seemingly impossible to do without thinking about the soils and souls that need the Living Water.  

      Those of us who drink the Living Water ought to gulp it down and resist letting it  become lukewarm.  Life offers a maze of divinely appointed relationships.  As we weave through the relationship maze we ought to encourage and entice the drinking of every drop of free, fresh, Living Water.   The world is dying of thirst.