Monday, November 25, 2013

Snow Globe

Father, thank You for the beautiful snow falling, snow I didn't even see in the forecast, a detail I guess I missed.  I sit here, looking out the window as it swirls, gaining in size and speed, and I feel as though I'm in a snow globe, wondering when all that is shaken up will soon settle back to a state of stillness and peace...

Yet at the same time, I don't long for stillness.  Stillness can mean stagnancy, and snow, with each miraculous flying flake, is anything but stagnant.

A snow globe is meant to be shaken, beauty in the frenzy and the shaking, watching outside as the trillions of flakes dance and collect around the centerpiece, the focal point in the glass sphere.  We are like that, pretty on the shelf, but everyone is drawn to reach for it, flip it upside down maybe a time or two, perhaps shake the dickens out of it, and set it back upon the shelf to watch and see, wait as a new pattern of flakes falling reveals another beautiful display.

I don't long for easy.

I am not pleading for stillness.

My only cry to You this morning, Father, is as You turn my globe upside down a time or two, You would be tender in Your grasp, tender with our hearts, faithful to Your Truth and promises, Healer, Strength-Giver, Provider, Safe Haven, Loving Father, Treasured King.

We weren't designed by Your hand to walk through this life alone.  Please, hold our hands tenderly as the snow flies...


*Today I'm a little late to the party, but I'm linking over to Lisa Jo Baker's "Five Minute Friday" where her writing prompt for last Friday was "Fly."  It's a fun writing exercise, no more than 5 minutes in the true spirit of it, just a time to write creatively, without the pressures of anything else...just enjoying the art form of writing from the heart.  Head to her site, link up your specific blog post (not your site domain) and then read and comment on some of the other posts to encourage others.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Recipe

Today I thought I'd share a yummy and healthy Thanksgiving recipe, full of antioxidants, but mostly full of incredible flavor and it's SUPER EASY to do!  A friend introduced me to the recipe probably 15 years ago and every time I make it, it's a hit.  Over the years I've tweaked the recipe (it had brown sugar and butter, previously) to suit our tastes and desire to enjoy healthy "comfort food", but this Paleo treat is sure to woo the people around your table.  Here you go:

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Basil

Preheat oven to 350, use 9 x 13 baking dish

2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 large yellow or white onion, diced
2 - 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 - 2 medium sized apples (Granny Smith or Pink Lady are my go-to's), cut and cubed
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup raw honey
4 T + 2 T melted coconut oil, divided (or butter if you prefer)

*See final picture for TWO ways to cook this dish.


Saute onions and celery in 2 T coconut oil over medium heat until onions are tender, add 1 tsp dried basil 

Peel and cut sweet potatoes, and apples, into approximately 1" cubes

Put sweet potatoes and apples into a large bowl

Melt 1/4 cup of honey and 4 T coconut oil in pan or microwave until the coconut oil is liquid (this does NOT take long...do not over heat!)

Pour celery, onion, basil mix into bowl, toss with honey and coconut oil

Pour into 9 x 13 oven safe baking dish and bake on 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
OR
Spread out onto a large roasting pan in a single layer and bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes or until tender.
IF there are any of these puppies left in the morning, they are actually fantastic cold for breakfast ;)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post: Thankfulness

Thankfulness entails honesty.  Why pretend when God knows the deepest parts of our hearts?  The moment I realized there was no such thing as a secret between me and God, my awe of Him increased, along with my love for Him.  I breathed in at that moment the truth that God loves me, as is, and there is no room for pretending with Him.

I hope you will be encouraged by this guest post which was written a few weeks ago by the most amazing woman I've ever known, my mom.








Thankful……last Monday when you posted about being thankful on Mondays, I announced that I was joining you in giving thanks.  Well…..I did…..in the morning.  Then something happened that brought out the upset, offended, bitchy woman in me.  It took me until Wednesday morning to get over myself.

I have been fighting a second battle with breast cancer all within 2 years of the first time I was diagnosed.  I am not afraid to die…..whether I am in the body or out of the body I am always alive in Jesus Christ.  Breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, requires so much time spent in doctor’s visits, chemo, radiation, surgery, recovery…….it really interferes with your life.  I had been encouraging myself, that at the end of 3 months of chemo, a surgery and 6 ½ weeks of radiation, my husband and I could go on a nice long road trip.  I love road trips and I love spending all that alone time with my husband on an adventurous journey.  I am married to the love of my life, a blessing not given to everyone…… and I am very thankful for that.

My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a little over a year ago.  He has been so supportive of me during the cancer battle and I have been supportive of him as we’ve been figuring out how to walk out this Parkinson’s thing.  I am thankful we are “there” for each other.  On Monday, when we went to a doctor’s appointment for him, it became very apparent we would not be going on this long-awaited trip, one, I guess, I had been viewing as a type of “reward” for going through all the cancer treatments for the second time.  I didn’t feel very thankful about that……and here it was Monday, when I was supposed to be feeling so thankful.  I failed at the attempt to be thankful until this morning.

I’m going to rehearse before God the things I am thankful for.  I am thankful He made it possible for me to have relationship restored with the Father.  I am thankful for my husband and my children and my grandchildren.  I am thankful my husband and I both had good parents who took us to church and took good care of us and loved us.   I am thankful for being able to spend more time with most of my grandchildren than most grandparents can.  I am thankful my daughters have husbands who are good and who love them.  I am thankful Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide me and show me what is yet to come.  I am thankful for God’s provision that has come in so many ways.  I could go on and on. 

The truth is……and I know God knows what is going on in my mind and emotions…….there are some things I am not thankful for.  I am not thankful I am going through cancer treatment, but I am trusting God in the midst of it.  I am not thankful for a lot of things God has allowed in my life, but I am thankful for the God Who is my Shield and Fortress, my Hiding Place, Who delivers me from the snares life sends and Who will never leave me or forsake me.  I am thankful for Him!


My husband and I are 68 years old now.  My human heart can hardly bear to think that we might not be able to take more road trips.  But, I have seen God come through for us, time after time, in ways I never imagined, so I know I can trust Him.  And…..I’m thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Friendship: Close Up

I'm thankful to be married to my best friend in the whole wide world.

At the same time, Jason doesn't fill the girlfriend spot in my heart that some pretty amazing women do, and this post is about them.

When we arrived in Denver almost 12 years ago, sure I was excited to live in a beautiful part of the country, but I was 31, really pregnant, and only had one friend 45 minutes away, who was a new mom.  Jason was busy at his new job 45 minutes the opposite direction, and I was in a daze, without a car, wandering amidst the dust and debris of the old house we had just purchased and gutted over the previous weekend.

I washed lettuce in the bathroom, in the mauve bathtub, because the kitchen was in the dumpster in the back alley.

Our fresh vegetables kept freezing in the refrigerator because it was out on the back porch.  As a result, we ate a lot of take-out, frozen burritos, gelato, and Clif Bars.  And, if that wasn't bad enough, I would sit in my house, covered in sheet rock dust, and watch Soap Operas.

I'm not even kidding.  Did you know Bo and Hope are STILL on Days?  True story!  (At least they were back in 2002...)

It was a low time in my life, let's be honest.  My friend who loves chocolate and sewing felt so sad for me from a distance, a beautiful package arrived on my doorstep one day with a toaster oven in it and instructions to head to the store so I could at least buy slice and bake chocolate chip cookies.  Oh, how I longed to sit with her on my couch to actually eat them, but fat and pregnant and hormonal, I sat on my couch and ate them all myself.

...again, a low time in my past.

ANYWAY, my mom was praying for God to send me some friends.  I wasn't hopeful.  In my head, since I was 30ish, everyone had already found their favorites.  Back in Minnesota, Jason and I had just left a group of friends we did life with every weekend for 5 years...how on earth were we going to find that kind of connection again?

Well, I've learned not to mess with my mom's prayers.  After a mishap in a mom's play group where I was invited to a Swinger's party, a friend in another state told me she had a friend somewhere in Denver and surely we'd hit it off.  I thought, "You clearly don't know how big Denver is...she could live anywhere."
2005 ice skating birthday party



Noah's 1st Celebration, the delivery crew and some guy with an afro

Locks of Love donation, 2008

Celebrating Ryan's arrival, Becky on the left who lived 3 blocks away, and Rachel
Grateful for friendships where we can pick up where we left off, no pressure, just dive in deep and keep pressing on...

And you know what?  She did live somewhere.  She lived 3 blocks away, had a daughter 2 weeks younger than Emily born at the same hospital, her own husband named Jason and, not that I pick them this way, but happened to be *tall with dark brown hair, too.

Today, less than 12 years later, I'm grateful for the prayers for real heart to heart friends my mom placed at God's feet for me, her pitiful, pregnant, chocolate chip cookie eating, soap opera watching, daughter.

The friendships which have grown out of this connection and my willingness to be vulnerable with others has allowed me the opportunity to meet some extraordinary women.  It has also meant stories shared in coffee shops, prayers prayed, truth told, tears strewn, basketball played, trips to Mexico, laughter and love, a room full of women at Noah's delivery, meals and shoulders during his hospital life, weekends away, mini-retreats, hard conversations, Easter feasts, closet purges and style consults, Scriptures studied, Friends Thanksgiving, prayers for marriages and misunderstandings, Bevy makeovers, beautiful locks shared in love, miles walked, wine and chocolate, creativity shared, more tears, more laughter, and my heart overflowing with gratitude that at the end of any given day, I am humbled to know God's love in a deeper, more profound way through the gift of friendship.

It's a beautiful thing to have friends willing to live life to the fullest...blood, sweat, and tears!

 (*not a friendship prerequisite...)

P.S. This particular post is about friendships, up close and personal, in the day to day, close in proximity.  I'll also be posting about the treasure of long-distance friendship.




Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Thankfulness is a Lifestyle

...not just a November thing.

Sure I love Thanksgiving!  Pumpkin is one of my favorite foods, along with warm comfort treats like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and turkey.  Of course, that's simply the meal.  More so, I love the gathering of people throughout our home, often orphans and widows, like the check out lady at the grocery store and her daughter one year, or the far from family single women in our neighborhood, or new people in town who know no one.  I'm not the sentimental who only wants to gather my close family around, though I love and cherish them.  But, spend one Thanksgiving in a Children's Hospital among selfless caregivers and tireless staff, friends and family, and the day of Thanksgiving becomes something else entirely.  The meaning not lost on me.

As much as I love seeing what people are thankful for on Facebook, it's important to me to model to my family that giving thanks is a day in and day out act of beauty, worship, and dying to ourselves.  It doesn't only last for 30 days, one month out of the year, but in this life, in this family, we will be intentional about thankfulness, in both the giving and receiving of it.

To be given something for which you are unable to ever repay, this is the true definition of a gift.  The words, "Thank You" may never seem enough, but this is the beauty in giving and receiving.  It's a world changing event which takes place in the admission of gratefulness, every single day.

My friends and I encouraged one another to start these thankfulness posts back in October...because Thanksgiving is one day out of the year, 30 Days of Thanks is apparently a new thingy, but saying "Thank You!" is an every single day of the year privilege, a practice, an act of face to face time with the Giver of all good gifts.

Yesterday this was the thankfulness expressed at our breakfast table, on this particular day, in no particular order:

Jason

  • My relationship with God
  • My wife and kids
  • My extended family
  • Friends
  • My job at Compassion
Emily
  • "You guys"
  • "Our family"
  • The Ocean
  • Friends
  • My school
Ryan
  • Giraffes
  • Zebras
  • Cheetahs
  • Elephants
  • And, elephants!
Me
  • Quiet time with God
  • "You guys"
  • Healthy bodies
  • Heated blankets
  • Hot tea to warm me
I'm happy people are being intentional about being thankful during the month of November.  My prayer is that after 21 days, it will become, not a habit, but a lifestyle.  Please don't hear I think I am perfect at being thankful.  I am not.  I reject gifts and compliments and helping hands, am too prideful to ask for help, and try to do stuff on my own more often than I should.  I'm learning through this...learning that the giving and receiving of thanks is a lesson of honoring another more highly than ourselves.  

Not an easy Thanksgiving bite to swallow...

Some friends are writing about thankfulness on their blogs:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Top Ten Thanks

Every night, unless he is out of town, Jason and I are a tight team in the bedtime, tucking in the kids, routine.  At this stage, Ryan wants me most times and I won't lie when I say, I'm eating up every single, "I want Mommy!" moment I can get because I know at some point, it's possible he won't choose me.  Em's cool with whomever will read to her.  I never was in drama, but being a lover of books and stories, especially good dialogue, and maybe a little dramatic in nature, I try to read aloud with a bit of expression...soooo, all that to say, this could be why Em chooses me to read to her most nights, and former engineer PhD, dad, to do the tucking in and praying part.  We are a good team like that.

On the nights I do the tucking in and praying with Em, we lay our heads on the same pillow, because that's just how we've always done it...and she still lets me.  She'll play with my hair (which I really can't stand, but I'm soaking in time with my pre-teen, so I'll take what I can get...) and ask me to tickle her arm or back or the palm of her hand.  She tries to do the same to my arm or hand and that is where I draw the line.  It makes me nauseous.  Am I weird?  It's almost like frosty freezers or nails on a chalkboard...back rub or foot massage?  Now we're talking.





Here we are December of 2006, one of the nights I was home with Em while Dad was at the hospital with Noah...we're sharing the same pillow, AND, Curious George is STILL part of the bedtime routine.  


Anyway, before we pray, I usually ask one of several questions, including:
  • What were your Top Ten favorites of the day?
  • What are 10 things for which you are grateful?
  • Let's share our Top Five of the day.
  • Name 5 people you'd like to pray for tonight.
  • If you could tell God "10 Thanks" for today, what would they be?
  • Who is someone at school we could be praying for this week?
  • Is there anything specific you'd like to talk to God about tonight?
The list could go on and on, but my desire is to be INTENTIONAL to stop, reflect on the day, and give thanks to our loving God for anything and everything, in general, and specifically.

With Ry, at least with the second bullet point above, he'll say something to the tune of:
  1. "Tank You for horses."
  2. "Tank You for giraffes."
  3. "Tank You for Daddy."
  4. "Tank You for trains."
  5. "Tank You for cars."
  6. "Tank You for my cousins."
  7. "Tank You for Yay-goes." (Legos)
  8. "Tank You for mountains."
  9. "Tank You for CARS."
  10. "Tank You for my cousins."
He means it about the cousins....

Often Emily says in her Top Ten, "Right now..."  It never gets old to hear her repeat this sentiment.  It's actually my favorite in a totally selfish mommy sort of way.  I breathe in the "right now" and say, "Me, too!" and tell her, and God, how thankful I am to be her mom.  

Because, HOLY COW, I'm her mom!

Sometimes she tells me her Top Ten, and in my best Nacho Libre accent, I say, "You gotta be kidding me!  Everything you just said is my favorite thing to do, every day!" and we laugh.  Nacho may not be on your Top Ten list, but it's a family favorite because before Noah ever went to the hospital for the rest of his life, somewhere in his first 7 weeks at home, free of machines and wires, I took him to see it with my eldest nephew.  We speak Nacho around here to lighten things up once in a while.  Sometimes I read our story in Nacho, just to change things up a bit.

Anyway, back to this post on Thankfulness.  I'm thankful Ryan says, "Tank" for "Thank."  I'm thankful for an amazing husband who is engaged in the bedtime routine.  I'm thankful my daughter loves books as much as her nerdy word nerd mom.  I'm thankful for writers who have taken the time through the ages to scribe stories which we are able to read each night.  And, I'm thankful for comedians like Jack Black who make my stomach hurt from laughing.  

Mostly, though, I'm thankful for the "Right Now."  When we recognize the "Right Now" as a gift from God, something as simple as a bedtime routine becomes sacred and beautiful, memorable and life-changing.

Tank You, Lord, for Right Now.  Just tanks...

*Heidi is sharing over on her blog about thanks this morning, too.
*Heidi Jo is sharing here.
*Elizabeth is sharing on her blog.

Where are you writing down your thanks?



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Laundry Rooms Change Lives

Lisa Jo Baker posted a writing prompt for #FiveMinuteFridays on her website last week after an exciting collaboration where she and her readers banded together and raised funds to provide a clean water site and laundry facility for women in a community in South Africa, from where Lisa Jo hails. If you are feeling inspired by her writing prompt, feel free to join in and link up, and take time to read through some of the other entries from women doing the same.

I knew after reading what she shared about the laundry outreach in SA that her writing prompt would be the word "laundry."  I mean, it had to be.  At first tons of mismatched socks ran through my mind, along with daydreams I have frequently about donating half of our clothes just so we don't have as much laundry.  Then I thought about sharing how, on days when I remember and am intentional, as I fold fluorescent shorts and shirts, pair dozens of black socks, and linger extra long on soft, snuggly footed jammies, how I pray for my family, and fold, and fold.  Praying for their hearts to long for and know God the way He desires to be known, not tainted by the world or fundamentalist religion, but by faith which is bigger, and deeper, more pure, how He intended.

But then I remembered a laundry room from years ago where not only was my life transformed, but the lives of many college students were, as well.



Laundry, GO!

My husband and I lived in a laundry room for 5 years.  I was a Resident Director at a college in St. Paul, MN, and part of the job requirement was to live on campus, amongst the students with whom I spent my days, meeting, listening, praying, crying, laughing, and growing.  And, in order to access our little apartment, we had to walk through the dorm laundry room.  Being a builder's kid, I knew this was an architectural afterthought, but it worked for us, and the low, steady hum of the machines actually provided for a quiet refuge on our side of the walls.

Not only could we do 4 loads of wash all at once, but we could turn around, pump the machines full of quarters, and have everything dried and finished in just 2 short hours.  I won't lie when I say, I kind of loved it.

But what I loved even more than having all of our laundry done in a snap were the conversations which took place over the tables in that laundry room to the hum of the machines.  Girls would come sit with me to talk about life and love and God and relat
ionships and dreams and disappointments, past memories, hurts, passions, confusion.  Prayers were prayed in that laundry room.  The Holy Spirit showed up there many days, hand in hand, praying over these future world changers, knowing and humbled God had trusted these amazing young women into my pasture for a short time, grateful I wasn't deterred by the environment, but seizing it as a space where supernatural heart change could take place, not only in their hearts, those seeking, but in mine, their leader and confidant, hungry to know God more and to seek Him for their sake and mine.

Of course dirt can come out of soiled clothes in a laundry room.  Every Friday for 5 years it did.  But I also know my ministry was launched from that little laundry room in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It's there I learned, in airing my dirty laundry, it provides a space for other women to feel free to air, and clean out, their own.

STOP!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eucharisteo

This past weekend I went to a women's retreat where I knew a handful of people and only a handful of people knew me.  I enjoyed the time with these women, met a few new ones, but did not feel responsible or guilty for not finding out the stories of the other 100 women in attendance.

It may sound strange to you, like I didn't care about those other women or something.  And, truly, in the past, this would have been weird for me.  Previously I would have learned the names of every woman at the retreat and taken time to learn at least 1/2 of their stories if time allowed.

However, this retreat was different.  I went into it with intention, intention to trust God had something good for me, for my heart, that He would be faithful to meet me where I was, even though I didn't even know it myself.  It was through a church we kinda sorta, only once in a while attend. Once I went to an official women's ministry event (with dim lights and I was able to slip in and out, unnoticed).  At the retreat, I didn't know which women helped with the ministry team or planned our weekend away, but I'm sure grateful they did.  I simply went because a friend of mine was flying in to share, and I threw it out there to a couple friends who went along, too, though they knew no one, either, and weren't sure what to expect.

Me and my sis, playin'


We played on the playground during free time and now I want one of these in my back yard...

I. Am. In. Love. With. Aspens.

Mmmmm, smell the pines!

Room and car, mates :) Refreshing, to the heart, inspiring women, these girls...

Celeste Barnard shared her story and heart with us.  This girl was on fire!  I hope she inspires you one day, too!  I was so happy for her as she was able to share her first book with us, which you can find here.  

It was refilling to attend a women's ministry event I had no part in planning.  I love gathering women together, as it's my passion and the way I've been wired.  But I didn't realize how much my dried out heart needed a bit of refreshing, and it came...now I can't wait to plan a weekend for other girls...

So, in keeping with the theme of thankfulness each week, I'd like to share gratefulness from my weekend away:

  • A retreat center nestled Rocky Mountainside, the setting still sprinkled with vibrant yellow aspens amongst the thriving green pines
  • A gluten free chocolate cupcake upon arrival
  • A friend willing to share her story with authenticity in order to pave the way for healing in other women's lives
  • A husband who sees, and benefits from, the value in Mama getting some time away to refresh
  • An intimate, good, and gracious God who knew the parts of my heart which longed for refilling, but didn't even know how to cry out to Him for what I didn't know I needed
  • A basketball, friends, and a sunny court to pretend we were back in High School
  • A chain hung porch swing overlooking miles of mountains topped in white snow
  • Hours of car time to learn more deeply the stories of the beautiful women on this same adventure
  • Having God speak directly to me, those thoughts and ideas smarter than I could ever think of
  • Hugs and kisses upon my arrival home
Not only is there value in women gathering outside of the day to day routine, but there is value in the quiet refreshing which comes when we are intentional about saying, "No" to the routine, for a short duration, and saying, "Yes!" to whatever God may have in an outside quiet space.  This doesn't mean we should steal away for retreats every weekend, nor are we able to escape on vacations when the going gets tough or our hearts are dry.  I believe we can be intentional with God at home where nothing particularly profound is happening.  In fact, I believe it's there He encounters us if we stop and look around, giving thanks for the day to day and the little things.  But in this space in time, I'm grateful I jumped on the opportunity to retreat.

Two friends are linking up this week:  Heidi Jo and Heidi Jo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why I Hate "CARS"

I don't really.  If I did, I don't think anything I ever said again from this point on would be credible, so I jest.  But, it's okay for me, as a mom, to be mad at Lightning McQueen, Guido, Luigi, and all the Ferrari's in the whole world.


Do NOT let his looks deceive you...this 3 year old boy has been up to NO GOOD!  NO JOKE, I've only grown gray hairs since he's been in my life.  


Last summer Ryan would say something about punching in the face.  Jason and I would just look at each other and then say, "Oh, no, Ryan, we don't punch anyone in the face.  Where did you hear about punching in the face?"

He didn't have an answer, and then, one day, I was nuggled up to him on the couch while he watched "Cars" and I heard it.  It was one of those little tire helper guys, either Luigi or Guido, I can never remember who is who, and the real Ferrari's had just driven into the store for new tires, and one of the little Italians exclaimed, "A REAL Ferrari!  Guido (or Luigi) punch me in the face!"

Frigging Pixar!  I know you make movies for my entertainment as I watch along with my child, but my toddler doesn't understand that it's just an expression!

Fast forward to tonight as I was off to Walmart, all by myself, for a solo mom-retreat...just a chance to BREATHE and get out of the house, aka, operation: get tampons. My life should make you jealous, clearly.  So, yeah, why not Target?  Tar-jay?  It's so much more hip mom...Well, because the $87.88 I spent at Walmart for tampons would have easily been $158.97 at Target, and even though the last few days of parenting a 3 year old boy merited a Target splurge with no regret, I'm still trying to stay on a budget, thank you, Dave Ramsey!

As I headed to get the said item, I took a turn through the razor aisle.  Two guys, early 30's, hard-working, were talking, discussing, the one holding several different products in his hands and as I pass by with determination to avoid all eye contact with other people while on my solo retreat I hear, "Hey, have you ever had hemorrhoids?  Is that okay if I ask you that question, ma'am?"  

Me:  Um, yes.  I've had 3 babies, so of course I've had hemorrhoids.
Guy 1:  Sorry, it's kinda personal, so thanks for letting me ask.
Me:  You can ask me anything.  Literally.  I had a little boy who passed away so nothing phases me, and one thing I've learned is life is short and if your girl is suffering from hemorrhoids, you sure better take care of her.
Both guys in unison:  Oh, I'm really sorry for your loss, ma'am.  Nobody should ever go through that...
Me:  Thank you.  You guys are sweet.  He is safe and healed with Jesus, but let's talk about your girl, she is the one who needs attention right now.
Guy 2:  I have a real deep respect and relationship with my Lawd, Jesus Christ.
Me:  Awesome...
Guy 1:  She's in a lot of pain and just told me to go to the store to get her some stuff, said it's burnin'.  Should I get her the "Cooling Gel?"
Me:  (holding his 3 items, side by side...)  You need to get her the "Maximum Strength" relief, plus, get her these pads to put the cream onto and get her an ice pack.  (*thinking, "Am I on a hidden camera?  Is this for real?  Are two guys asking me how to heal his woman's hemorrhoid...in Walmart?)  Believe me, "Maximum Strength" is the way to go.
Guy 1:  (*What he said at this point, I cannot repeat...)
Me:  Oh.  Well then, she may have an infection.  You need to take care of her and get her to a doctor.  She may need antibiotics.  (*Dear Lord...just...Dear Lord...)
Guy 1:  For reals?  Okay, I have health insurance.
Me:  Good, yes, give her this, but watch her, make sure she doesn't have a fever, and get her to a doctor to make sure she doesn't have an infection.  You need to take good care of her, treat her right.  God loves her and made her.  He loves you, too, and He wants you to take good care of her.
Guy 1:  Yeah, at least for this week, I'll do her right...
Me:  NO!  God made her and designed her and loves her and you, and He has a plan for your lives, so treat her right, EVERYDAY, ALL THE TIME!"  (With more emphasis!)
Guys:  Thank you, ma'am.  (Outstretched hands.)  I'm (so and so) and I'm (so and so).  Here's my card if you ever need some trees cut down...
Me:  Thanks.  Nice to meet you.  I'm Adrienne, like Rocky Balboa's wife.  What's your girl's name?
Guy 1:  (Such and such...)
Me:  I'll be praying for her, for God to heal her body.  Please, take care of her...
Guys:  Yes, ma'am.  Thanks for not being embarrassed to talk about hemorrhoids.

I turned the corner and had to post it on Facebook, because, clearly my solo retreat was over, right?  I headed to the tampon aisle, then bought mascara and chocolate and a few other things since you can't just put tampons on the conveyor belt without anything else...duh.  (I guess there IS self-check out...)

SOOOO, I was at Walmart ALONE because Ryan, my 3 year old, is giving me a run for my money, like doing naughty things because he is bored or just seeking attention or who knows why?!  In the day to day, we are an awesome team, so this recent outbreak has thrown me for a loop.  For the most part, I am an extremely patient person.  I don't start fights knowingly, try to apply both Jesus AND Dale Carnegie strategies to day to day life whenever I can, and am quick to forgive and forget and find peace.  But, yesterday as I was carrying Ryan upstairs for his nap, Ryan slapped me first, then punched me in the face 5 times, to which I calmly knelt down, turned him over my knee so he was face down, arms no longer able to get to my face, stood up, repositioned him with his arms and body tucked securely in my armpit, hugged him, put him into his bed for nap time, calmly told him I loved him, forgave him, that hitting his mommy or ANYONE on the face was completely disrespectful, never okay, and he was never to do it again, but that I loved him and forgave him, once again, and I'd see him later.

I was so sad, no story/snuggle time which is my favorite part of the day...

Then I went into my closet to put on my workout clothes and as I bent over to unzip my boots, I bawled HARD, sobs deep within, because my son punched me in the face.  My son.  With force.  On purpose.  And he has words...and he uses words...but this time chose to punch me in the face, with 5 forceful blows, only stopping because I am currently bigger than him.  And it hurt my heart...and my face.

I knelt down and prayed.  Breathed deep.  Thanked God for my boy.  Prayed some more and changed my clothes.

Before I headed downstairs I opened his door to find him standing at the end of his crib, crying with deep sadness, lips down turned.  I said, "Ryan, I love you and I forgive you for hitting me.  I was sad because you punched me in the face, so how you are sitting in your room crying, Mommy was just in her room, crying, too.  When you hit me, it really hurt my feelings."  He sobbed deeply and said, "Mommy, I love you so much!  I'm so sorry I punched you!  I won't ever punch you again!  I'm so sorry, Mommy!  I love you, and I forgive you, too!"

I'm not sure what he was forgiving me for, "What?  For putting you down for a nap you clearly need, buddy?!"  But I'll take it.  I need forgiveness for all the screwing up I've already done to him and his sister...

I scooped him up and said, "Thank you, Ryan.  I forgive you and love you so much!  You are my very sweet boy!  My Giraffe!  Would you like to snuggle and read a book?"  He hugged me hard and said he did.

As I closed the last page he put his hands together flat, prayer style, and laid them on my chest, then rested his head on them, curling into me, like we fit together, mother and son.

Today he didn't punch me or hit me or anything of the sort.  Instead he purposefully peed and pooped in his bed, in his clothes, during "nap time" while he didn't sleep, along with pulling a canvas off the wall and chucking every stuffed animal out of his bed.  If he has to go potty while he's in bed, he always just yells, "Mommy, I have to go potty!"  No big deal.  I head up and assist.  But he's been potty trained for 8 months.  Honestly, I think he's bored with just the two of us, staring at one another day in and day out, even though at the end of any day, no matter what, he chooses me to tuck him in.  And I'll take it as long as I can get it.

I'll take the snuggles and the poop and pee, but not the punches.  That's not what "turning the other cheek" means.

I'll love my boy fiercely, knees bent, eyes lifted, hands open to receive Divine strength and discernment...because this mama gets to go on retreats sometimes, and it's those little things like even cruising the quiet aisles of Walmart at night, that re-fill my heart, or at least get my head on straight...

...except when other people are in the same aisle...and want my expertise on hemorrhoids.  Seriously?!  "Guido, just punch me in the face!"

*IF you are ever in need of hemorrhoid expertise and a woman has tampons in her cart, let her pass on by, then ask the guy near the end of the aisle, by the razors, the one who looks constipated, what HE MAY USE, and let that woman continue on her solo-retreat...


Monday, October 14, 2013

Thanks, Merci, Gracias

Since the beginning of June, I've been "Reading the Bible in 90 Days."  I'm currently in the book of Ezekiel, so, clearly I've missed the 90 day mark, ahem.

This is supposed to be a post about thankfulness, a practice we do in our home on a regular basis, like "Top 10 of the Day" or "Tell me your 5 favorite things" or "What are some things for which you are thankful?", but one I desire to practice even more regularly, not just at night before bed, but all through the day.

The thing is, it's been a personal struggle to have an overall mental state of thankfulness when daily the majority of my reading has literally been a vivid history, or prophecy, of doom, gloom, death, despair, rape, rebellion, murder, starvation, anger, wrath, whores, and hatred.  It's not difficult to see where ANY OTHER BOOK ON EARTH MIGHT BE MORE WONDERFUL TO READ RIGHT NOW.

There have been several times where I've thought, just screw it.  I've read the Bible in its entirety, skipping around, so why am I doing this, this cover to cover thing, right now, in this stage of my life?  Which is a fair question, it's not like I HAVE to read it, ever, really.  It's not like I'm being forced, except I decided to do it, I gave the task and a beautiful group of women my word, and so I'm going to finish it, hopefully sooner than later, but I'm going to finish it.  Because I'm good at starting things, but not great at finishing...

I think when things are smooth and clean and colorful and bright, even though I am thankful for such a state, I'm not positive I realize the depth of what it means to walk in gratefulness because it's all good.  For me and my heart on this journey, being in the opposite state of anything for which I'd ever give thanks has allowed me to cherish the little and big things in the day to day.

Like, knowing there are red letter words where Jesus meets me face to face.

But now, I'm in the doom and gloom.  And I'm not thankful for it.


Instead I'm thankful for:

  • "Carry On, Warrior" by Glennon Melton and "1000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp (Treadmill/stationary bike reading)
  • Our treadmill, and healthy legs to use it daily
  • Yoga and the quiet before the Lord in the dark of our basement
  • Little legs that run away from me, carrying a 3 year old tooshie, with laughter and flailing
  • Snuggling in my bed or hers, book open, imaginations circling, sharing stories with my 11 year old girl
  • Pretending to have tapas in Spain with my husband on date night over a glass of Spanish Red and olives, if even for an hour and a half
  • A two-foot long branch of brussel sprouts on the counter
  • Finally finding a dog groomer so Lady doesn't look like she has mange
  • The peachy hue of the clouds at sunrise
  • Whatever environmental factors which had to occur in order for our town to experience the most vibrant and colorful Fall in my memory
  • Friendships which run deep, no matter the distance

Monday, October 07, 2013

Thanks

One of the perspective changes I had while Noah was in the hospital, and then since he passed away, is one of thankfulness.

Growing up as a Catholic kid, it was regular practice to give thanks to God for each meal, pray every night for family, friends, neighbors and strangers, and say the words of the "Lord's Prayer", offering thanks and seeking His hand and guidance for each day.  

Somewhere deep down within my heart I've always known giving thanks, showing appreciation, and having a heart and mindset of gratitude, leads not only to a better life in general, but is innately how we were designed, the act of it one of worship allowing us to see God's heart more purely.  

A lack of thanks is precisely why I believe many in the first-world are over-stressed, excessively busy, and self-medicating, no matter the drug of choice.  It's also why I believe God and faith in Him are afterthought, if thought of at all.

And I know, because when I turned 15 and left the Catholic church for "churches" that I thought were The Way, I also left the practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer regularly, being told and believing, it was a religious practice to simply recite prayers out of habit.  For a time my prayers were ramped up with more expression, a bit more volume, being told my expression and explosion matched the amount of my faith.  It's funny how looking back, and having been there at the time, that is living in my own head and heart, it never really felt right to boss God around, commanding Him this and that in Geeeeee-zus' name.  But over time, that became rote, as well.  But in those circles, it's not rote, but rather celebrated as super-faith.

Today, I'm more than thankful I was raised in the Catholic church during my formative years because the experience laid a firm foundation for my faith and how to recognize "trends" in "christianity."

For years, instead, I just had conversations with The Lord, talking to Him throughout the day, upon waking, every night.  Always giving thanks at meals, lacing thankfulness into the day, but still, if I stopped to pray about someone or something in particular, I was still asking for something, something I wanted, an outcome which would benefit me and mine, or you and yours.

And He does want us to, there's nothing wrong with asking.  It's not that we aren't supposed to ask.

The problem is, some seasons in my life have been solely based on asking rather than always based on thankfulness, no matter what.

Since having Noah and losing him, I've still had seasons where my attitude isn't gratitude on a daily basis.  Discontent, longing for purpose, wishing I knew what I was here for, wanting less stuff, wishing I could encourage others officially through "ministry", believing it to be a job description at times rather than a way of life, wanting less, wanting more, wanting different.  

Five years ago I introduced Emily to The Lord's Prayer, dissecting it, showing her how it begins with perspective, God first, then us and our needs.  She memorized it on the way to school in the car over time and is now helping me teach it to Ryan.  The whole chapter of Matthew 6 is one of my favorites, permanently marked with a ribbon, because it's practical insight from the Creator of the Universe for our day to day existence...yet, at least in my 27 years in Evangelical Christianity, I've never once been told to pray that prayer daily, because it may become rote or religious. 

In addition to saying and typing it,  I also love the motion of pen on paper in writing it...


So on this morning, I've decided to do what's not the trend, to pray the way I knew as a child to be uncomplicated and focused on The One who knew the answers, whether I ever did or not.  Today.  Not only am I going to start out with The Lord's Prayer, not a quote un-quote Catholic prayer (and thank God they have kept it alive!!!), but one Jesus taught anyone who would listen in order to have a life of perspective.  I'm going to pray it with both gratefulness AND religiosity, religion, simply being a word to describe a conscientious activity with great meaning.  

I'm thankful Jesus was forthcoming in these instructions of how to pray, not answering with another story or parable.  It's plain and clear.

Give thanks.

*If you'd like to join with others practicing the art of thankfulness, we'll be writing about Thankfulness on our blogs every Monday morning for an undetermined time frame and would love to read yours, as well.  We aren't setting up a "linky" thingy, but rather are simply exercising the art of writing, and writing specifically about being grateful.  

Here's a post from my friend, Elizabeth Jackson.
And here's one from my friend, Heidi Jo. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Just Write

It's ironic, and not, that the prompt for Lisa Jo Baker's "Five Minute Friday" is "write."



Just write, but be intentional about it...

GO:

Because today at lunch with a writer friend, who is writing a book with her husband, I asked, "How do you actually write a book on marriage?  Do you guys, like, brainstorm ideas and topics on a marker board, get a plan and go for it?  Is it linear, beginning to end?  How do you actually write a book?"

She laughed and told me she had asked her husband who has written 2 books the exact same question! She told him she had some questions and wanted to talk about it, wanted to know the angle, "Do we write about topics?  Do we come at it, 'He said, She said'?"

I asked my friend what insight her author husband relayed.

"He said to just write."

And we laughed and cussed and told one another how we both love Anne Lamott and Bird by Bird, so the prompt and advice wasn't new, but still just as profound.

Funny how the thing we both love to do, that is write, the thing we do in our heads and hearts most of the day, writing the stories we observe in our lives and the ones we feel and experience, is so difficult to scribe on paper, or tink on a keyboard.

Yet we know we've been designed to write and when we do, we come alive and feel all is well with the world.  Even when the writing sucks and no one ever reads it because it's simply filed away in our documents, trapped in a flat folding computer on the desk.

As corny as it may sound to some, we didn't hear corny as we exchanged our deep love for writing and how when we do it we know we're doing what we were designed to do, writing for the One who designed us, published or not, not seeking the approval of anyone, just doing what comes naturally.

STOP

Grateful for this prompt today.  If you want to just write, link up over at "Five Minute Friday" and then read the blog post of the person ahead of you and encourage them in the art of writing.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Change the World

This morning after Dad prayed for all of us as he was heading to work, I said, "Have fun!  Change the world!"

He said, "I'm trying!"

Dad was out the door and I said, snarky to Em, "So, what did you do today at work?...Oh, just changed the world.  You?"

Em said, "What you did you do?  Oh, I'm a plumber."

I said, "Em, you better believe plumbers change the world!  They keep you from walking around in your own excrement and keep the world SANITARY.  Don't EVER think just because a job isn't glamorous that it doesn't literally CHANGE the WORLD!"

She said, "Touche.."

So, there you go.

Go CHANGE YOUR CORNER OF THE WORLD.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons from Spain (and other European countries): Ministry Happens in a Bar

I have a new friend who is sassy.  She's also brilliant, sensitive, wise, and discerning, humble and modest, and a fantastic listener.  She is British, 100%, as in, her parents are English, she was born in England, and so that makes her an Englishwoman.  Ryan kisses the back of her hand every time he sees her and addresses her as "Princess."  And she's a girl totally, madly, deeply in love with her Savior.  She is teaching me so very much.

Being from the other side of the Pond, she also likes Scotch, or Bourbon, or Gin, or one of those drinks men who are 60 or older sip in smoky wood paneled clubs with leaded glass windows where Englishmen meet amongst walls lined with leather bound books and trophy deer heads from plaid clad weekends on the hillsides of Europe.

This very statement made some readers wonder if my friend is really even a Christian...seriously, raise your hand if your remember Jesus' first miracle.

Anyway, being a SAHCMFTBIA (Stay At Home Caucasian Mom From The Burbs In America), I've never really embraced my ethnicity one way or another.  Just this morning I had to fill out a form and check the vanilla boring nondescript box labeled, "Caucasian."  Before I was married I at least told people how my maiden name means, "Bible" in German and then I'd break out into "Stille Nacht" or count to 10 in German just to show I still had a little in me.

Since meeting my new British friend, my eyes have been opened a tad more to faith in other parts of the world.  Oh, I've been on missions and studied missions and have traveled for both ministry and pleasure in several parts of the world.  And I know from both studying and travels about major world religions, as well as how Christianity differs from culture to culture, and how cultures differ due to religious influence.

But a few months ago while I sipped a glass of red and my British friend her drink of choice, pouring our hearts out to one another about everything under the sun, she told me how, from living in America for 30+ years, American Christianity and European Christianity vary greatly...

...not in the Message of God's love for mankind, but in the cultural message, which often muddles the Everlasting Message profanely.

In Europe, at least in Britain, she said the Pub on the corner is where people talk about love and life and ups and downs, you know, kind of like a "small group."  It's not demonized as a place to just get drunk, like "Spring Break '89", but rather a place to open up and share life.  It's like, oh, could we say, church.

A forbidden fruit mentality has been fostered in this nation for 100's of years, setting up bars and alcohol as something to be pursued in anything other than moderation, putting an age on it as if that makes a person mature and responsible, and slapping a party mentality on it.

The funny thing is, over the last year or so I've spent quite a bit of time with women who have reached out, seeking an ear, belly up to a bar.  Women who have been hit by their husband, others controlled "Sleeping With the Enemy" style, divorced, separated, suffocating in loveless marriages, some just crying out to be loved by their workaholic husbands, not the men they originally had fallen in love with...women pouring out their hearts over their dreams for their children, their fears, their own personal dreams and aspirations, and the brokenness of their realities.

And we cry, and stop, and pray, right there, belly up, holding hands, eyes closed, seeking God's direction and healing in every situation.


My dad asked me why I couldn't just go to Village Inn, instead...

...ummmm, gross, I just barfed a little typing "Village Inn".  

I'm not trying to fit a conventional ideal of what a woman who loves God with her whole heart and also happens to be in ministry, looks like.  And, I'm also not trying to shock anyone just for shock value.

I'm actually quite tired of the banter and pleasing and grieved to my core of all the talk ABOUT so many other THINGS within Evangelical "Christianity" rather than THE ONE THING, the only true thing, which is:

God is totally and completely in love with you.  That's all.

I don't go to Village Inn because it's gross.  I don't even think I'll choose VI when I'm 89.  If a woman asked me to meet there because she wanted to pour her heart into mine, to see if I'd be a listening ear, then of course I'd go to Village Inn...to listen to her heart.

But that's not where these amazing women have asked me to meet them.  They have asked me to meet them at bars, for a drink, where we can just talk.  Can "talking" happen anywhere else?  Duh.

But if I am to embrace my heritage, then I'm guessing some of my Irish, Scotch, German, Swiss, French, and English ancestors likely had church in Pubs, way back when, across the Pond.  And I'd venture to guess their hard-working lives were more authentic and vulnerable than the facades of perfectionism Evangelical "Christianity" has set up here in the "New Country."

And if I'm to truly embrace what it means to lay down my life and follow Christ, to allow my life to be a source of His love poured out, in spite of me, then I also need to embrace the beauty that sometimes women's ministry happens in a bar.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

All Up in Your Crazy


"I will combat my stress and heated difficult parenting moments with trips to the toilet.


I read a really darling short story about a woman who locked herself in her master bathroom happily for the weekend.  It was her own special stay-cation, complete with Orangina and crackers.

I may have to try that.  Don’t tell my kids."
 -  Jessica Patay, author of "She Runs a Good Race"

Here's my comment:
Some thoughts: I rhymed "Orangina" with vagina when I read that...and you caught me, my kids are perfect and I do, indeed, every moment of everyday, respond in godly wisdom and oozing goodness to them, like it oozes from me, from every pore...it's like I'm angelic or something.  This post has just inspired a post in my head...so I'm heading over to my blog to get my writing on, but in the meantime, you are better than me because instead of sitting on the pot to talk to God and find "poof" peace lately, I've been escaping to try to beat level "30" on Candy Crush.  And when I do sit in there a while I poop rainbows.  #isuckwayworsethanyou #youareonefantasticmama #iloveyougirl #youareawesome

My girlfriend Jess is an inspired writer, raw and authentic, and just posted some great wisdom for moms, a result of what she has been learning in "time-out"...not her kids' time-outs, but her own...where she puts herself to cool off and think it over.  The following post was inspired by her piece and actually started as my comment in her comment section, but I didn't want to hi-jack the post with a mega-comment, so, instead, here it is.

May I invite you into my brain, friend?  It looks a helluva lot like the 144 magazines on the library wall I'm sitting across from at this moment, all on different topics, each with a 100+ pages, plus advertising...and in that chaos, I get overwhelmed in my own head, want to throw everything away and live in an RV and just come visit you and drink a little wine overlooking the great Pacific.  Then Emily, excited, sweet, with the greatest of intentions, comes over to my shit-laden desk where I sit staring, wondering how I didn't get one friggin' thing accomplished all day, yet managed to stay busy anyway, and says, "Mom, can we look at organizational websites and draw up a plan of action and spend the whole weekend totally purging and organizing my room?"  And I should be excited about this because my kid wants to down-size and get organized but I'm folding 9 loads of laundry, laced with camouflage and safety orange and glow in the dark pajamas and odd numbered socks and I have 17 books home from the library that contain no pictures because they are for me to gain inspiration on how to live life free of the crazy because I actually don't care about stuff or things so organizing her room or any room in the house would look more like donating everything to the thrift and, of course, only having "7" of anything...and it's nearing the dinner hour and my personal Paleo chef decides we're having GF frozen pizzas and full-on grain nachos with dollops of dairy and leftover buffalo carnage.

And she doesn't mean anything by it because how could she know all the crazy that goes on in my head and heart on any given day?  And truth be told, her desire to purge, organize, and clean her room is evidence of her listening and letting it soak in all the times I've said, "Sweetie, more stuff doesn't fill the deepest part in our heart we're trying to fill...it's just more stuff and eventually it will overwhelm us. Less truly is more."

But the truth is I am a little kid, totally ego-centric, because I want to purge, organize, and clean up my crazy before I clean up her crazy.  I wanna be first!

And since I was just in the bathroom, I can't run there, she's got me cornered at my desk in the kitchen, so I sit on the toilet in my head go there in my head and talk to God, I'm not even 1/2 listening to her but instead breathing deeply, in my own time-out, and I repent for being selfish and ask God for grace in this moment, to let go of the agenda, my to-do list, my crazy, because I can't play level "30" to escape, and thanks to you, friend, I can't even eat chocolate or drink a little to escape because we are doing this flippin' accountability thingy, and it's good because I know and you know and we all know God truly is the Only One who can fill that deepest part in our heart where everything else around fades in importance and priority and somehow falls into place.

And so I pull her onto my lap, hug her huge with #intention, and tell her, "Peanut, I would totally love to help you with your room!  Let's get a plan and do it!"

Because spending the weekend with my pre-teen daughter, because she wants me to, is a blessing...I guess it's all about perspective.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

There is a Time for Everything Under the Sun

Our third child didn’t get a baby shower.  Not because historically it’s improper in the book of manners, but because I just didn’t think my heart could handle it.  The last time I had been pregnant with a boy, my friends gathered around me as we ate chocolate and vegetables and artichoke dip, all the while cooing over adorable blue polka dot blankets and all things tender and tiny.  It had been almost four years since I had first become a mom, and with that bit of experience, this time around was a bit sweeter and much more relaxing.  With almost four years of practice under my belt, this was going to be a lot easier, a piece of cake.  I more or less knew how to prepare and what to expect.

I had let my guard down and was burned.  That wasn’t going to happen this time.

My friend recently posted how she had taken almost 1000 pictures of her nephew’s birth, and prior to that, she shared pictures of the shower she hosted for her sister, a celebration of the anticipation of their third child.

I am not one to weep over regrets, but my heart sunk a little.  Why hadn’t I allowed the many who offered to host me a baby shower just do what their hearts wanted to do?  Receiving help is difficult for me.  Pride gets in the way of receiving, because I am a damn strong woman and can do a hell of a lot on my own.  However, I’ve found over time how strength is beautiful in numbers, how relying on God and others is not weakness shown but rather confidence revealed.  Real trust, to the core…an ability to recognize most great masterpieces are made up of more than one color, a brick is solely a brick on its own, and a tree will never grow if the seed isn’t ever planted.

No orchestra is made up on solely one instrument.

And only now, after just having loosely celebrated Ryan’s 3rd birthday (Em was sick, he didn’t know it was his birthday or what that meant, really, and Jason and I were just home from Spain), am I able to understand it wasn’t out of guilt or feeling sorry for me that my friends, old and new, wanted to host me a shower. 

I realize now that a shower is to celebrate the anticipation of the little life about to enter the world, an opportunity to celebrate the woman carrying that life, the waiting parents, and a space for everyone to rejoice.  

There is a time for everything under the sun.  Pregnancy and the anticipation of a child is a time of celebration.  Only when news otherwise is relayed should the celebration turn into mourning.

There is a time for everything under the sun.

We don’t skip bridal showers because we think the poor couple won’t last past the infamous 7-year itch.  We don’t forgo weddings for the same reason.  There is no guarantee, on any given day, we will all make it to the 89 year old mark, so should we all skip cake and ice cream, all the years leading up to our day?   There is no guarantee, only hope and hard work, if our marriages will, indeed, continue happily ever after.  Just because a woman is pregnant does not mean the baby inside of her is meant for this side of Heaven.

And just because my heart was raw, carrying another son in my womb, unsure of the days to come, jaded a bit from loving and losing, doesn’t mean I should have denied my family and friends the opportunity to anticipate and celebrate the life growing in me and the arrival of our newest family member.

I’m not saying it was right or wrong to deny my friends and family a chance to host a shower for me years ago.  What I am saying is, in my selfish attempt to protect my heart from further heartache and disappointment, I shut down and didn’t even allow those who loved me to show their love faithfully as they had in the past.  They had celebrated with us, and also mourned when it was time.  

Birthdays, showers, anniversaries, holidays.  All of these celebrations, though marked with loss and memories, no matter how distant, are indeed, celebrations.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this 4 years from when my friends offered to throw me a shower, but I felt strongly to share my heart.  Maybe you are fearful to celebrate the anticipation of a child on the way, perhaps you have had adoptions fall through and it's scary to let your head and heart go there again.  Maybe fear is gripping you as you allow your heart to fall deeply in love again after the loss of a spouse?  I don't know.

I do know for several months I was fearful Ryan would die, just like his big brother.  And I had really, really, really, really, really fallen in love with Noah.  But I knew Noah was dying, and at the same time, I knew he deserved all my love and I loved him with all of my mommy heart.  I don't live in fear anymore that Ryan is going to die like his brother.  He will die.  I don't know when.  God knows the number of our days.  I do know this, however...I have jumped in with both feet in loving Ryan.  The ache and grief of losing his brother does not hang over me as I flip his curls through my fingers, rub noses, snuggle in our favorite chair while reading, and play choo-choo's in the basement.  I'm in love and it feels really amazing.

Every Single Day is a celebration of the lives around us, even our very own.  Is there someone in your life who needs celebrating today?

The only loss in loving is to look back and realize we never gave it our all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Exercise in Writing

I've been a bratty "writer."  And by that, I mean, I love writing, I do it when I'm inspired, sometimes I'm inspired when I don't have access to a computer or even paper, so I "write" in my head, but then it gets lost in my mental cosmos.  But as far as "practicing" I've operated under a bratty opinion of, "I'm only going to write if I'm inspired...otherwise it's so contrived."

Super bratty, but I'm hungry for, and willing to, change.

Except I've been thinking about such a mentality for the last year or so and realized something.  When you practice something, you often get better at it.  Take, for example, swimming.  I started out as a toddler on the side of the pool, only dipping my toes, telling my mom I didn't want to go in the water. We moved to Arizona when I was 6 and were enrolled in swim lessons right away since a pool is mostly standard issue in every backyard, and if not, for sure in every neighborhood.  My first swim class was for "Minnows", aka, little swimmers...beginners getting comfortable with the water.  I know at some point I became a "Shark" and then in time I was on a team, gathering 5th and 6th place ribbons, then 4th and 3rd, then years later State Titles with teammates in High School.

We practiced every day after school from mid-August to the end of November, from 2:30 to 5:00.

A lot of hours, a lot of practice.  Some of it redundant, but building strength and endurance, perseverance, and in some races, excellence.

So, I'm trying to apply the same mentality to writing.  Because I really like writing.  Mucho.  So, recently when I saw on Twitter a post by Lisa-Jo Baker about a writing exercise group link she does on Friday's with readers, I was intrigued.  It's called, "Five Minute Friday," and she gives a prompt, you set your timer, and then write.  And write.  And write until the timer goes off, and then, you stop.  So, I've never done it before, but I'm starting it now.  Like, right now.  And the prompt is:  She.

GO:

She.

She is your mom.  She is your sister.  She is your daughter.  She is your aunt, cousin, grandmother, friend.  Her strength is astounding.  Her smile strengthening, lighting up a room, filling hearts, bringing life and love wherever it's revealed.

There are days when her smile is hidden.  She doesn't realize the power behind its revelation, she is unaware of the life it offers, she doesn't know because it has been darkened, the lines diminished from years of sorrow.  Life unraveling.

We look at her and long for the smile to return to her face.  She has aged, but the lines in her face aren't from laughter but longing.  Worry, wonder, despair, a broken heart.  The lines are deep and they draw her smile, the beauty that was once alive on her face, the lines draw them down.

Look up!  Look around you!  See the sea of faces looking back at you.  These are the faces of family and friends, and we love you.  We are so sorry for the hurts in your heart, the aches you've hidden deep, the memories fresh even though ancient.  We love you and want you to know your sheer existence, the fact that you are here, now, in this space, brings love and hope to us.

Let those lines run deep, not from sorrow, but because of laughter, laughter of days to come, joy in the unknown

STOP.

Wow.  That was a cool exercise.  I practiced writing.  It was kind of crazy to see what came to mind.  I think I'll practice this exercise every Friday.  It only takes 5 minutes, so it's not like I can say I don't have time to write.

If you care to join in the practice, here's the information.  You may leave your writing in the comments section or link your blog post in the linky section (I've never done a "linky" so hopefully it's easy and I can figure it out...), then head to the blogger's site who posted prior to you and read their piece and encourage them.

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More "Lessons from Spain"


I tell you what…if finding out I was pregnant after a trip to Spain was a way to learn things such as, the sky is the limit, throw caution to the wind, live life to the fullest, OR, say, the opposite, like, be careful, look both ways when crossing the street, always bring an umbrella, well, then the last week has been good for me, in a hellish sort of way.
The age I would be at time of delivery. (Graffiti in Barcelona)

And by “good for me” I mean, “Holy Ship My Pants, Batman!”  Please know, I don’t mean this disrespectfully.  I know, KNOW, know many women who have longed to be mama’s in their life time’s…some never experiencing it, others having only gotten to treasure it for a short time, some never getting to hear their sweet babies cry, or meeting their child face to face.  I, too, have had 2 miscarriages and lost a yummy sweet boy sooner than I ever imagined possible.  I am not discounting these longings, whatsoever.
Translation:  Do not let your dog ship its pants here in this public space.

But I won’t lie when I tell you that for the last few days I have had irregular breathing patterns thinking about the “what if’s” if I were, indeed, pregnant.  And I won’t lie.  Those days were dark in my head and heart. 

Last night as I fell into bed I told my husband I didn’t even need to lower myself down, I simply collapsed under my own body weight.  Still not having shed all my “Viva Espana” weight, then getting PMS like nobody’s business (I NEVER have it, NEVER, no cramps, no tenderness, nada), I was sure we were in for a surprise, and not like, “Ooooh, awesome!”, but more like, “Holy Ship My Pants-ness, Ryan’s going to be a big brother?! #$%^&*.”

I named off two friends I’d consider giving our baby to, since they are looking to adopt.  My heart was heaving and not thrilled at the thought…at all. 

What can I say?  Yes, I celebrate and love children, but these are the real thoughts that went through my head and heart.  I’m sure you’ve never thought this.  Clearly, I suck more than you.

Before I drifted off, however, I told Jason, “If it’s a girl, I’m naming her Georgie.”

This morning I looked at my calendar, counted days, tried to remember what I was thinking or if I had been thinking and, HOLY SHIP MY PANTS, were we even thinking?  I rolled out of bed, pulled up my bootstraps, and actually smiled at the new found peace that had settled into my heart over night. 

“Georgie…totally.  We’ll name her Georgie, and maybe her middle name will be Madrid or Barcelona.” 

I headed into what is usually one of my favorite days of the week:  LAAAAAAA!  Thursday.  My day.  A day where Ryan hangs with our fabulous babysitter and I head to the library, word-nerd heaven, where I sit amongst books and thoughts and dreams to read and write and enjoy the quiet.
First stop, the coffee shop for something with almond milk, “to-go”.  Second stop before setting up my portable office at the library:  the ladies room.

(The following is a text conversation)

A:  “You’re lucky…”
J:  “That made me laugh.”
A:  “I’m glad my bleeding uterus is funny to you. I almost shipped my pants with worry!”
A:  “But, the name Georgie for a little girl IS fabulous!”
A:  “Maybe it’ll be my pen name…hmmm, yes!”
J:  “Your pen name should be Georgie or Bleeding Uterus?”
A:  “Probably Bleeding Uterus.  It’s raw, catchy, authentic…”

I’m not sure I’ll use “Georgie” or “Bleeding Uterus” or something else entirely as a pen name, but I do know this:  I will always write vulnerably and with authenticity, because this particular lesson from Spain is:  life doesn’t always turn out as we plan, but I already know from experience, it can be more beautiful than we ever imagined.


*And, a couple bonus “Lessons from Spain:” menses symptoms are greatly affected by how clean one eats.  It was a reminder, and a heck of a way to re-learn this, but my body tells me things and I need to listen.  Moderation.  And, make that appointment...


Foods that contribute to monthly bloating, mood swings, and cramps: amazing churros from Barcelona

A picture my husband said I'd never post since it's not flattering...I don't know what's not flattering about eating an entire crab by yourself, soaked in butter, but arrrrrr, I love crab!  Living it up, eating without regrets/symptoms in Espana.

Laguardia, Espana, aka, Wine Country, being kissed by my prince on top of a castle...*alcohol, another contributor to monthly swings.

More on the food tour: constipation and bloating,  I mean ice cream and molten chocolate cake with some sort of awesomeness on the side... 

Reminder, Adrienne:  you feel healthy when you eat healthily
So, no.  There is no Georgie Madrid Graves on the way.  The only baby we brought home from Spain is this Spanish Mater.  #vivaespana