February marks quite a few birthdays in our family, but the one I look forward to with the most anticipation is the one that made me a mama. Ella celebrated her 9th birthday with both glee and passion, designing her day with diligence and listening to her birth story again with intense ears and a lot of questions.

When it comes to the memory of that day in late February of 2010, I look back on so much I didn’t know or didn’t expect. What parent doesn’t? When the firstborn arrives, it’s all a learning curve. Life is full of trial and error, knowledge and learning, mistakes and joys. My journey as a parent is no different. In so many ways, it has been about surrender and receiving grace more than it has been about anything else.

And because of that design to receive, I knew I needed a new purse to match my last run with her year of single digits.

It might sound shallow at first glance, but if you know me at all, I have not one shallow bone in my body. I enjoy the deep places of joy, grief, love, and happiness with a boom. I’m so much all or nothing, which is exactly how Ella is, so choosing a new method of carrying my practical purposes around had to mean something.

And then she showed up. A handmade leather tote with Rosemary in the title (one of my favorite herbs), a natural blush tone that not only is gentle and soft but also patinas over time with the intent to show the adventures it wears from the sun or naturally, oily hands. I always have oily hands. And so it began, that as this new mother’s handbag had been chosen, I would also start my girl’s 9th year with a fresh experience, knowing that it would change colors, accept stains, absorb kid handprints, and even touch water.

We spent more than we typically would spend on this accessory, but my heart was bright with the hope of adventure, teachable moments, and presence. Sometimes we need a practical piece of our heart to be shown in a tangible way in order to understand what our season is showing us. That’s how my purse is. I love art and metaphor, and God often speaks to me through story. He walks me with gentleness, and though I don’t always know what He’s saying, I always know He’s there as we tinker together to explore His next riddle for me.

And so it is with this new Rosemary tote. This year, as every year: “My colors are blush and bashful…” when it comes to new opportunities in planning life’s big (and small) adventures and receiving the ones that are surprises, with glee.

I don’t plan on keeping my tote perfect; it would be most impossible anyway. In fact, first up was a smudge from a tiny piece of orange slime. And my heart rejoices. Because this purse can hold all the memories of the joys and experiences that speak of my life, my motherhood, my journey, my marriage in this year and in many years to come.

Every girl needs a good tote. This one will wear our adventures together proudly.

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