Backstory, Life, and the Not-So-Bitter End

I am, at my core, a storyteller. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I think we all have a story. We all have a family of origin. We all have some blend of disappointments and accomplishments, loves and hates, comforts and discomforts.

It explains why I still sometimes cringe away from someone moving a quick hand and love the smell of orange-spiced tea. It might explain why the sound of moving water comforts or frightens you. Why the smell of cherry pipe smoke makes you smile or spikes your heart rate.

But that mishmash of singularities is only a sliver of who we are right now. Our stories certainly influence, mold, and shape, but we also all have a choice. Continue reading “Backstory, Life, and the Not-So-Bitter End”

Ode to In Between Places

Oh the places between here and there.

It’s not quite spectacular white winter or lush green spring. It’s that place where you’re not young or old. Neither starting nor finishing. We’re neither here nor there, but on our way somewhere.

If only I knew where somewhere was.

Continue reading “Ode to In Between Places”

When Small Things Become Big—A Book Is Born

A little over a year ago, I was walking through one of my favorite places—a local craft store—and picked up a book on Zentangles for my daughter. My girl has a distinct artistic bent, and I thought she’d have fun with these doodles.

Well, it wasn’t long until she was begging me to sit with her and try them.

“Babe,” I said. “I canNOT do those.” Big emphasis on the not.

But she persisted, batting her little girl eyelashes. So I sat my “haven’t had an art class since I was 12” self down to spend time with my girl. It was a decision based on the knowledge that it wouldn’t be long before I was too uncool to hang with the girls.

And boy was I surprised. Continue reading “When Small Things Become Big—A Book Is Born”

Beauty Defined

beauty-definedI suppose if we’re going to discuss beauty, it’d be important to be sure we’re all talking about the same thing. Definitions are slippery things…especially when you’re arguing that the thing you’re defining is of life and death importance, which we’ll get to next week.

Let’s start easy. I think most of us can agree on the first aspect. Continue reading “Beauty Defined”

When You’re Standing at a Crossroad

crossroadI’m standing at a crossroad. A place where I’m trying to make choices. Responsible choices. I’ve too much going on and I want to simplify. But then I’m confronted with brokenness, and I ache to help—to do something tangible. Sound familiar?

I suspect some of you are with me in the struggle. Often I find that I only see one step ahead, but strangely others can see more clearly than I. Perhaps, just maybe, together we can work out the next step.

As I struggle through decisions—what’s best as a mom, a writer, a wife. I’m called to be purposeful; to demand a higher level for myself; to be a clarion call of beauty, goodness, and truth—I started processing through the written word. I am, after all, a writer! What came out was the poem below.

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe*

Continue reading “When You’re Standing at a Crossroad”

Life Between the Snapshots

Between SnapshotsThere are a stack beautiful picture books nestled into a tray on my coffee table. They’re my kids favorite books. Probably because the books are actually family albums and full of reminders of the fun times we’ve had together. There’s the rare picture they hate (like the one of my son crying because he’s covered head-to-toe in permanent marker) or prefer the world not to see (like the one with the goofy expression).

Mostly the family albums portray me and my world the way I wish they were–Picture Perfect.

But there’s more to the story. There’s life between the snapshots. Continue reading “Life Between the Snapshots”

Endings . . . What to Do with Them

EndingsWe’re coming up to the end of August, and my kids will soon be joining the ranks of bleary-eyed students returning to school. Summer is ending, and I’m not sure how I feel.

I don’t like endings.

It’s dark.

I can’t quite see what’s coming next.

And my self-preservation kicks in screaming, “Run the other way, idiot!”

But as time ticks steadily down, it’s quite impossible to for us mere mortals sprint back up the time continuum. Unless you’re Dr. Who. And I, dear friends, am not Dr. Who.

There’s a fear, a stress that comes with change. Even good change. My husband switched jobs this summer. Stress. I’m contemplating pruning my commitments. Stress. My daughter is 11. That’s stressful in and of itself but she’s starting soccer for the first time ever. Mama stress.

But my good-stuff stress is nothing. I have a friend a few years older than me getting married for the first time in middle age. Super stress. Another friend completely an adoption from overseas. Mega-stress.

And then there’s the stuff that hits you like a train when you’re just trying to get through an ordinary day. Pop quizzes, broken legs, cancer diagnosis, car accidents,…you see why I don’t like the unknown?

But there is so much possibility in endings.

So much that could come next. Sure school brings early mornings, alarm clocks, and the end of summer. But it also brings routine and a few moments of quiet.

Every sidewalk end, every cliff you step up to leaves you open. The vistas are wide and filled with potentially amazing experiences. You see…

Beginnings can’t happen without an ending.

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So in this season of change, I pray you will find peace. That you will see potential and take it. That even as you mourn what is no longer that you will celebrate what is coming. And that you will give yourself the grace of time to figure it all out.

Not the Best

Best

We were becoming desperate for rain, and the hot weeks have sucked the flowers dry. But along the highway, a sneaky beauty grew. The grasses glowed golden, backlit by the horizontal sun peeking out from the storm clouds.

Who would have thought that mere dry grass could be beautiful?

And yet it is so. The moment the world is dry and hard, it isn’t the flashy obvious flowers that persevere. It’s the overlooked, underappreciated beauty.

Catching snatched looks at that hidden beauty as I drove, I thought, Good for you…

You don’t have to be THE best to be beautiful.

And my fingers tightened down on the steering wheel as if doing so could lock down my heart and fight back the tears.

As a writer, mom…as a woman, I’ve compared myself to everyone around me. It’s a dangerous pastime where I ALWAYS lose. Either by looking down my nose at someone else, or realizing I don’t measure up.

I’m beautiful in my own right….except when I’m not.

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See the grasses were dry and brown, rather like I am right now. I’m not only not THE best, I’m not even MY best right now. I’m as brittle as the grasses, feeling boring, tired, and taking it out on everyone. I’m up against some physical issues . . . again, which have me channeling a rabbit in both what I put into my body and what’s coming out. And I don’t even care if that’s TMI.

There in the car on the way to the next doctor’s appointment, the light trickled across me, falling on the grasses. Highlighting failures and at the same time beauty.

Not only do I not have to be the best, I don’t even have to be MY best, to be beautiful.

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And neither do you.

Decimate the Divide

Divide“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the last week, these words have been echoing in my head, and I couldn’t help but reflect on the prophetic thoughts in my blog last week . . . Freedom is a powerful thing.

I honestly fought this post. I wrote a different one. A funny one which I’ll post next week. But I found I couldn’t not post this one because I see how the events of this week could change the lives of my children.

So I ask you:

We have freedom guaranteed by our laws, but how are we using it? We have the freedom to carry weapons, the right to free speech. Continue reading “Decimate the Divide”

A Call to True Freedom

Freedom

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, the slider open to the summer night sounds. It’s warm and the air is heavy with expected rain, and the sky is slowly overcome with thunderheads climbing and tumbling forward.

The coming storm is a beautiful and dreadful thing. Pulsing electric and alive. Capable of bringing life . . . and destruction in equal measure.

Two hundred and forty years ago, a group of men signed a document declaring their independence from a separate nation. In doing so they launched a grand experiment. One where there are self-evident truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But our freedom is a beautiful and dreadful thing.

Continue reading “A Call to True Freedom”