Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle

butterflyWe live near one of the most beautiful places I know, Frederick Meijer Garden. It’s a world-renown sculpture park and botanical garden.

Every March and April this organization bring in hundreds of butterfly chrysalis and moth cocoons and allow them to hatch within the confines of the tropical garden. The visitors walk inside a dreamland of fluttering color.

Awhile back, I took my daughter early specifically to watch a different display than the flying butterflies. We came to watch the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis.

It’d been a rough not the night before. Emotion overflowed my senses and my girl and I needed the retreat. Continue reading “Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle”

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”

When There Are No Words

No Words

As I writer and editor, my life lives and breathes letters, words, sentences. Pictures, scenes, emotions, flow from my brain, to my fingers, to the page. It’s what I do.

But sometimes…sometimes the river of words runs dry. I’m left without a way to respond to circumstances.

I’ll admit I’m tapped out right now. I have no words. And it’s okay for me. I know I my writing hasn’t been my best, but it’s okay for now. I’m not actively writing a novel…just editing.

My stopped up word-river is even fine for my family for the moment. We’re okay. Really we are (and I’m not just trying to convince myself of that).

My world is surviving without my words, my connection to something bigger…until I got a phone call from a friend who’s always been there for me. Until I didn’t have words for her.

I’m not sure I even followed everything she said through her tears, but I do know this: Her daddy died, and it was hard. She was trudging in the valley of the shadow of death, and I had such paltry words to give. I couldn’t even point her to comfort.

I know that sometimes it’s okay to not say anything. Sometimes it’s better even.

But oh how I long to speak into the dark spot left in her dad’s place.

And so I bring a meal, I pray for her peace, I scour the Internet for funny stories to send, and I might even buy a card with someone else’s words or I might haul out my paints and paint her a picture.

See I may have no words, but she can still hear me…and that’s okay with me. Tweet This

Perhaps it’s here, where our words flee, that we find action. In this wordless place, we set aside our daily tasks, roll up our sleeves, and communicate in a bigger way.

Getting Hold of Stillness

StillnessMy husband’s across the country for work, and my kids were both home sick yesterday. Now I’m playing catch-up. I have a million things to do. I can’t see my kitchen counter or my table. There’s Kleenex decorating the couch and deadlines looming for all my jobs. My heart is racing and tears are hovering just under the surface.

And the dog needs to go potty. Really?!

So I open the door for our crazy Sheltie and bright sunshine pours in. The chirping of birds. Bright red, freshly planted flowers line the path to my door. And I sigh. I hear the whisper. Be Still.

A momentary thought of “The List” has my hands shaking, but Continue reading “Getting Hold of Stillness”

The Making of a Tiger

This is a short story revealing a little background on the characters of the WWII novel I’m writing. The main character here (John) is the father of the main character in the book (Kailyn). It’s set in the Himalayan mountains of Burma. Hope you enjoy it . . .

Making of Tiger

He didn’t have much use for his small knife any longer. It had been so long since he’d carved blocks of wood into jungle animals, that the monsoon rains had left rust and mold on the blade.

But tonight. Tonight his hands needed the feel of wood. The surety behind it’s hardness. The knife peeling away bits and flakes to reveal what had always lurked beneath the bark.

John rubbed a calloused thumb across the edges. His white skin stark against the ridged grain.

A scream ripped through the jungle and John jumped from the fallen log. His daughter, Kailyn, sat quiet. Amber eyes wide, staring through the fire at her Papa, shifting between the door of their thatch-roofed home and the jungle. He knew she wanted to run, but her mother’s pain contained her here. Captured in the flickering light of the fire. Continue reading “The Making of a Tiger”

There’s Something About Bravery

BraveryAwhile back, I spent the weekend with a good friend who had moved away and some other women who I didn’t know well, but I still consider friends.

We spent a lot of time telling the stories of our lives. I didn’t think about it at the time, but, as I look back, I’m struck with how brave each of these women were and are.

Several traveled with friends when they were young. One moved out when she was seventeen. One scuba dived with sharks.

If I had asked them to tell me about the bravest thing they’d ever done, they would have told those stories.

But what captured me wasn’t the exciting actions of their youth, but how they dealt with the junk life inevitably deals out: Continue reading “There’s Something About Bravery”

In Its Place–A Short Story

Old-Hardware-3I could feel the heat from the hardware store’s stove warming my feet as I sat on the couch in our second floor apartment. My toes nearly glowed with happiness. In such heat a body could nearly forget the cardboard covered holes in her shoes and the snow outside the window.

A body could nearly forget everything. I touched the corner of wool blankets next to me and brushed lint off the red box on top. Well, nearly.

Mama always said, “Lucille, honey, we’re lucky to have the store.”

She’d brush my wild curls into submission and tell me that other folks would love this here place even with the oily smell. Or some days, she’d say they’d like it even with the chipped walls or with all the men hanging around outside looking for work from any fortunate builder or handyman with a job big enough to hire extra hands.

I don’t know who she was trying to convince. Maybe herself or my older brother, George. I don’t think either of them liked their jobs in the family business.

But I certainly didn’t need telling. I loved Miles Hardware. Three stories of rising red brick between the white clapboard buildings.

Continue reading “In Its Place–A Short Story”

There’s something about Brokenness

BrokennessThroughout my life, I’ve traveled past myriad straight, even people—the perfect, solid fence posts. Each guarding a territory, surrounding, protecting, being useful.

But it’s those people that have been pushed over, beaten down, broken that mark the landscape, draw my eye, quietly call for additional investigation.

What is it about the people that have faced the worst life can throw at them and—slightly crooked, bent, perhaps chipped on all sides—still stand? What is it about them that makes them stand regardless of the compelling forces around them? What is it about their combination of grit and brokenness that makes them beautiful?

To be fully honest, my deepest desire is to avoid the things that might strain me. But I know full well the impossibility of that hope.

And so knowing, I study the standing broken, hoping beyond hope that when life comes, stomping, beating, blistering, that I too will stand. Beautiful if broken.

Why I Hate Christmas

IMG_4217I’ll be honest, most of the time I love Christmas. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.

But the Christmases of my distant memory are often haunted with darkness and loneliness—a desperate longing unmet.

Perhaps that’s why I work so hard to make Christmas full and bright, as much for my kids as for my husband and me. A celebration of all the good, happy, pretty things.

Red and green. Gold and silver.
Polished up kids, on the best behavior.
Shiny packages, bright with promise.

For the most part, and for most December 25ths, the magic glitter of Christmas works. But any one day can’t live up to the burden consistently and it frays at the edges, threatening to rip open from the pressure of little sleep, excess sugar, and packing in too much in too little time with too many people.

It’s a wonder we ever make it through without falling through a chasm—a la Griswold Christmas.

Continue reading “Why I Hate Christmas”

3 Lessons About Friend-Type People

Friend-Type PeopleI’ve always had a hard time making “real-life” friends. It is, I think, partly why I like books so much.

Like a friend, a book can leave you frustrated, annoyed, or disappointed. It can change your life for the better or for the worse. But you can always walk away from a book without leaving a piece of yourself behind.

People, on the other hand, friend-type people especially, get under your skin, into your life, tangled up in who you are. You can’t walk away from people without a little tearing in your soul.

So when, as a kid, I realized my little soul was in tatters, I just stopped letting those unreliable people in–those soul-tearing, friend-type people. I closed the door, hunched in the corner, and worked to patch myself back up.

But I realized I didn’t have the tools for a patch job, there in the dark corner by myself.

Then a few friends crept in and showed me that I’m missing something there in the dark with my light starved soul. They brought in the light of laughter, encouragement, and accountability.

And I discovered that anything worthwhile is worth the risk. There’s beauty in there somewhere. Continue reading “3 Lessons About Friend-Type People”