Marriage Redefined

When you are young and you get married, you are thinking of a thousand reasons you want to be with a person. To laugh together, to make love, to feel alive, to maybe have a family, to have adventures with and to build a life with. There are butterflies and electricity. It’s young, romantic ideas, full of hope and full of promise. And it’s good.

As years go along, life happens. Your reasons for staying married change a bit. Jobs are won…and lost. Dreams fade away, and new ones are created. Children are born, houses bought and sold. The shiny newness of it all starts to wear off a bit. You see the less-than-perfect humanness of one another. And maybe you even begin to wonder and doubt. Is this what we said “I do” to? Your love gets scuffed up some, and turned on its head. It’s hard to remember back to those days of beginnings. You may even question, is it possible that this would be easier on my own?

But then BIG LIFE stuff happens. The stuff you hadn’t even realized you hadn’t ever really considered. True loss. The death of a parent, the sickness of a child, an accident that leaves one of you paralyzed. And it occurs to you in a way that you couldn’t have foreseen when you were younger, in a way that clears away the fog of doubt, THIS, this is why you married your spouse. There are certain things that are easier when you have a reliable, familiar, loving partner to share them with. Someone to hold you up when the weight of loss and life can come crushing down.

It’s not the romantic notions you had when you were younger. Those have long faded away; soft and somewhat superficial. Now it’s the steady, foundational, this-is-why-we-build-a-life together experiences. On the other side of those hard things, you rediscover your purpose for being together, and perhaps you even redefine it a bit. And it is even better than good.

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The Art of Sitting

Too many people have forgotten the art of sitting. One of my favorite things is sitting on the porch (nearly any porch), feeling the breeze caress my face, watching the birds flutter about, enjoying the trees as they dance lazily with the wind. The crow caws, the bluebird catches a bug to feed his babies, and I breathe.

I’ve stopped (or have mostly tried to stop) judging these moments as lazy and as wasted time.  Sure, outwardly it doesn’t look like much, but it’s an exercise. I’m strengthening and exercising my gratitude. With every ping of the windchime, a chord in my heart sings “thank you.” Enjoying creation, these moments are visits with God. A silent exchange between Father and daughter. A subtle reminder that life is good and I am not forgotten.

In this day of busy, fast-paced, on-to-the-next-thing, rushing, few remember how to sit. They are antsy; their phones beckon; the tv calls. But this, this is where my joy lives. Rocking or swinging, all alone, in the presence of The Lord.

The World Keeps Spinning

The world doesn’t stop because we experience a tragedy and need a moment to catch our breath. The day my mother-in-law passed away, babies were born, people went to work, groceries were purchased and arguments were had over where to eat dinner. There was no moment of silence; there was no pause. The world just kept spinning.

There was only a matter of minutes before we needed to gather up her things and leave her hospital room. And then the phone rang to see if we wanted to donate her organs. Everything in slow motion, all while at warp speed. How can it only be 1:30 pm when it feels you’ve experienced a lifetime of emotion since 11:30? And the world just keeps spinning.

Funeral home, flowers, cemetery, obituary.  Hurry up and get it done. There’s no time to come apart- there are people coming.  Clean the bathroom, make sure there is water to drink and something to snack on.  Sure, your heart is breaking, but there are things to get done. And the world just keeps spinning.

Pick clothes for the burial, find six someones to carry her, buy shoes for the granddaughter she won’t get to see grow. Go through pictures and clippings and long ago smiles. My, I’d forgotten how pretty she was. The world keeps on spinning.

Hands to shake, people to meet, and stories to hear.  It’s okay to come apart, but just not here.  Being strong for her daughter, your husband, her son. You sneak away for a moment, the tears have begun. Deep breath, back at it, we’re almost there. Just a few more hours. So many people care. The world keeps spinning.

To the cemetery now, to put her to rest. Kind words uttered, God’s promise, “this is for the best.” And even though you know it’s true, she takes with her, a part of you. A mentor, a friend,  someone that you loved.  But the world just keeps spinning.

The casket committed to the ground.  A life sealed up, but soul Heaven bound.  Now back to the church to break bread with kin, many of whom you’ll never see again.  Still the tears have yet to have their way.  No time yet, so you push them away. The world keeps spinning.

The house now empty, the visitors gone.  It’s almost time, but wait, her son.  He hasn’t yet had his turn to weep.  You gather your strength, you dig rather deep. He should get to go first. She was his before yours. So you wait, while the world keeps on spinning.

More than a week has past, time keeps moving on.  Demands still calling, still things to be done.  And it’s then that you realize this is why people say, grief is a beast.  It’s got no beginning, and it won’t go away.  You only get to feel it a second here, a minute there.  Things don’t slow down to let you feel. You won’t ever get to empty it out because the world keeps on spinning.

 

Just One Girl

I am just one girl. Small in a world so large. Just one quiet voice on a noisy planet that’s constantly clamoring, growing louder and louder.

I am just one girl. Strong and mighty in the world of my children who look to me to comfort hurts, to make it better, to explain the unexplainable. All-knowing and knowing nothing all at the same time

I am just one girl. Soft and encouraging to a girlfriend whose world is falling apart. A place of comfort where she can share her fears and let her tears fall and be raw and real. A safe place in a seemingly unsafe world.

I am just one girl. Hopeful and brave in the face of the whirling, twirling, often brutal world. Digging my heels in to keep my balance in the furious winds.

I am just one girl. Capable and determined to bring joy to those disheartened faces I meet on the street. If but for a moment, to cause a softening of their furrowed brows.

I am just one girl. Trying to be a light in an often dark world that is covered in shadows. Flame flickering, attempting to cast even a second’s worth of light inot someone’s darkness. A reminder that the dawn will come.

I am just one girl. The one chosen “for better or worse” by a boy too young to really understand all of his choices. A partner to grow and learn and walk this winding path with-all without any sort of map.

I am just one girl. Broken and busted and carefully recrafted by the Maker of All Things Beautiful. Like a walking monument, I am proof that He makes all things new and can use even the tainted and used.

I am just one girl. Filled full of thoughts and words. Pouring out my insides on a page because “better out than in” applies even beyond the movies.

I am just one girl. Grateful and appreciative and joyful and glad and …

Scandalous

I decided to do something this morning that bucks the system, goes against what I was taught. Growing up, it wasn’t okay to admit to liking things about yourself. Sure, it was okay to speak the stuff you DIDN’T like out loud, but to admit to liking things about who you were was just prideful. In a world (& a life) where self-shaming and self-loathing are all too easy, today I CHOOSE to be scandalous, social norms be damned!!  Here are some things I like about me:

I like that I sing out loud, even if I don’t have the voice of an angel. I like that I’m a safe place for people to rest or share secrets or unburden themselves. I like the scar I have on my left forearm where I burned myself cooking for my family. I like that I have mostly good hair- even when it won’t do anything, it still does something. I like that I smile with my whole face, not just my mouth. I like that I love lots, and that I don’t hesitate to tell people I love them even when other people would not. I love my grateful heart-I have so much for which I’m thankful. I like that I love to laugh, lots, but not at the expense of other people. I like my surgery scarred Barney Rubble feet; they’ve carried me this far. I like that I love words- to rhyme them and write them and share them with others. And music, all kinds. I love that I give good hugs. I like my ski slope nose, the same one that I used to cry about. I like that my hips are substantial enough that I can rest things on them. I like that I’m easily entertained and pretty easy to please. I like that I love the Lord and am not afraid to admit it. I like that I am loved and chosen and that you are too.

I like…    That I’m a true friend. That I’m mindful of other people’s feelings. That I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. That I’m a good mom (yep, that’s right, I said it!!). That I’m fiscally responsible. That I have a servant’s heart.

This morning I woke up and first thing, I  wanted a donut. I immediately went to a negative place in my head, wondering why I didn’t crave healthy foods, why I wasn’t better, blah, blah …

I decided that I wasn’t going down that path today.  I have plenty of days when I fill my head with lots of negative things about myself.  Today I took a stand and decided I wasn’t going to do that.

I also decided that I wasn’t going to shush my kids the next time they said something  about themselves that seemed prideful. I’m going to hesitate before I keep them from saying, out loud, what their strengths are, what their best traits are, what their best features are. Instead I’m going to encourage them to repeat it, and find something else and another thing.  And another.

Because here’s the thing, we need to learn to be our own fans.  Not in an “I’m awesome, check me out” kind of way, but in a way that allows us to hold our heads high, recognize the gifts we’ve been given, and that honors and acknowledges and represents the worth of the blood shed for us.  I’ve decided that Our Father wouldn’t really want it any other way. After all, He was all about a scandal.