Friday, March 25, 2011

announcing a change

Change is in the air at our house!

Spring.  Pre-adolescence.  Adjusting to new jobs.  New kittens.  New blogs.


Yep.  My little blog is all grown up now.  You can find it at

I hope you enjoy the changes, and while you're there, be sure to check out links to More and The Joy Project.  Exciting goings on around here!

See you there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011


By the time I was my daughter's age, I'd been singing in a choir for at least six years. I contemplate this as I watch her make corporate music with her classmates today—praying that similar seeds of interest and affection would likewise get lodged deep within her ready heart and take root.

Their voices are sweet, innocent, self-conscious. How long until she learns to sing with abandon, I wonder? How long until she discovers the thrill of giving herself over to the experience? How long until her joy in the glorious moment overpowers her fear of what other people think?

I flash back to my weekend—singing love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all, with my college choir Saturday night—full heart, full voice, full volume. Complete abandon. Complete accord. Complete joy.

I try to tell Beth about it at breakfast. About how alumni of the Chorale always get to join the choir in the singing of this piece at every concert. About my director and the significant role he played in that very significant time in my life. About how I've never been so happy as when singing with a choir of that caliber. But I can't tell her. Not without tears. Not today.

The Chorale sang—

What can purge my heart
Of the long And the sadness?
What can purge my heart
But the song Of the sadness?
What can purge my heart 

Of the sadness
Of the song?

("Song for Billie Holiday," Poem by Langston Hughes)

This sadness cannot be purged by any other means. Song is the remedy. Song is the therapy. Song is the salvation.

There will come a time when Song will be restored in my life. All is healed, all is health… Hearts all whole. ("Sure on This Shining Night," James Agee) I eagerly await that day—when my heart is once again whole. Until then, I merely listen, missing pieces of that which is most essentially me.

My thoughts come back to the 6th graders before me—fresh-faced, fledgling voices lifted up together in praise. I smile, fighting back tears for the second time today. I pray for their song to purge my sadness. And I listen with eager excitement, awaiting with baited breath the moment when they, too, learn the fullness of joy that comes from abandoning one's self to the music. Until they, too, know what it feels like to be Complete.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

we get by with a little help...

The day spent, we lay in bed, catching up on lost snuggle time—a high priority in our household. Buddy's curls find their way around my nose, tickling me even in their post-shower dampness. I breathe in the smell of shampoo, repositioning my head, and hug him tighter.

"You know what, Buddy?" I say. "I think you're the best boy ever."

He squeezes my arm, wrapped securely around his waist. "And you're the best Momma ever," he replies.

"I mean it, Buddy. I think you are a really neat kid," I tell him, wanting him to get that I'm not just saying this because this is something Momma's say. Wanting him to get that I see him for who he is, and that who he is has value. Wanting him to get that I don't just love him, but I like him, too.

He squeezes again. "I mean it too, Momma," he says. And in a whisper he adds, "You help me when I need help."

You help me when I need help. I am caught off guard by his comment—I smile a "that's an interesting thing to say" smile in the dark. "I'm happy to help you, Buddy. I will always help you when you need help."

It is interesting the things that speak love to a child. So often, they are not the things we think we should be doing. They are the things are children ask for. Snuggling. Praying. Doing something together. Time spent in proximity at the end of a day of separateness. Helping when one needs help. Putting the work aside and playing four square (with two people) when you'd really rather get your work done. I don't do it all perfectly. Some of it I don't even do with mediocrity. But in his world, at the moment, there is a little bit I am doing right.

After my week, I will take it, and rest in that tonight.

Friday, March 18, 2011

on the couch with buddy

Sigh. What is it they say about the best-laid plans?

Today was spent nursing my 8-year-old back to health, rather than taking care of myself. Some days, we just have to do this. God takes our tidy little agenda and tips it upside down like a snow globe, and all the little "appointments" float around like flecks of glitter and fall in entirely different places. My women's group. My quiet time. Blogging. Working on the manuscript. My healing prayer appointment. All up in the air, and then all just gone—buried under a day full of Mike Rowe getting dirty to my son's gleeful delight.

It would be one thing if I did it well—this caretaking thing. I sat on the couch for as long as I could stand it, reading my book in snippets between Mike's bleeps and blunders, and then I was gone. The itch to be productive would not leave me be and I spent the rest of the afternoon at the computer working on blogging issues and research while Buddy sat on the couch watching Mike alone with his fever and his chicken soup.

I wrestle with this parenting thing. With this working full time/writing part time/parenting full time/exercising part time/dieting full time/socializing part time/taxi-driving full time/repeating sixth grade part time schedule I keep. There is not enough time to do it all, let alone do it well. There is fatigue. There is frustration. There is worry. And there is guilt. There is a LOT of guilt. I worry I've not done this mothering thing well. Not really well. And it grieves me. Because I wanted to do it well.

But there is, occasionally, a light that glimmers like a crystal catching the light of the sun at just the right angle. It reflects back to me something of glory. I sit back, my breath caught, and I just look. That glimmer is hope. And the sun is reflecting more and more of it lately. The hope that God will equip. Will restore. Will sustain. Will guide. If only I will listen and follow. If only…

My devotional for today reads:
Trust me one day at a time. This keeps you close to me, responsive to my will. Trust is not a natural response, especially for those who have been deeply wounded. My Spirit within you is your resident tutor, helping you in this supernatural endeavor. Yield to his gentle touch; be sensitive to his prompting. (Jesus Calling, March 18)

Yield to his gentle touch, sensitive to his prompting. I wonder how different today might have looked had I done that. I can't undo it now, so I will not dwell there in regret, but move forward in resolve.

Tomorrow, the snow globe gets re-shaken, and the glitter falls where it may. I can only take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is a new opportunity. To listen. To yield. To follow.

To trust.

To take care.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

standing strong when the winds blow

"Momma, they're kissing on the LIPS," my sixth grader tells me, distraught. "And their parents don't KNOW."

A wide range of thoughts and emotions churn in the back of my head making a sound similar to the whirring and grinding my computer does when its busy thinking. I am confused—when on earth did this happen? I am concerned—why is this issue coming up so frequently already? I am relieved—my daughter obviously thinks this is a significant problem. I turn cartwheels quietly in my head at the reassurance she does not think this is appropriate. I am alarmed—how do the parents not know? What's going on? I am apprehensive—do I need to tell them? How do I go about doing that? And how do I protect my daughter, the bearer of information, in the process?

She goes on and on in her concern. For several days. DAYS. She talks to me. She talks to teachers. She cries on their shoulder. She cries on mine. So much drama for such a tender little heart. So much confusion and chaos for such a young spirit. It consumes her life for several days. And, therefore, it consumes mine, as well.

The proverbial winds of change are blowing with a gale force this March. Boys and girls kissing. Friendships shifting. Homework increasing. Expectations increasing. And that's just at school. An exit from the gym. An entrance into physical therapy. An increase in my hours. A change in my husband's employment. Her life is in flux. Flux is not fun.

She tells me in bed last night that she's worried. She sees herself in a row of dominoes. She fears that the choices her friends make will affect her. She frets that if one domino falls, they eventually all fall. I give her a different picture. I encourage her to see herself as a column. A pillar. Tall and strong and rooted in the ground. A domino cannot topple a column. "I like that, Momma. That's a good picture," she tells me, nestling into my shoulder.

Innocence is already beginning to slip away, and my daughter is not yet even twelve. I take a deep breath, and I pull her close, and I pray like crazy for wisdom, for guidance, for her protection. I pray that God will show her in a multitude of ways that he is in control, and he's got this situation in his hands. After amen, I go downstairs, and I look up pillar on, and this is what I find:

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Ps 144:12

Our daughters will be like pillars.

He is showing me, in a multitude of ways, that he is in control. He's got my daughter in his hands. I can rest assured.

I can rest, assured.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

tackling the tenacious ten

I've started a new series on my other blog, within which I will chronicle my last-ditch, desperate attempt to take off this BLASTED ten pounds I re-gained TWO YEARS AGO. You can link to it here, if you are so inclined.

I've revised the URL to better suit the title and purpose of the blog, and am moving in a bit of a new direction with it. You can now find it at, but the title remains the same!

Happy reading!

Friday, March 11, 2011

variations on a common theme

The purpose of life is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

spinning versus setting

So, I'm thinking that perhaps the next time it's 5:00 PM and I still have a couple hours of clients to go and I'm getting sleepy, I maybe ought to try the ice water route, instead. Maybe. No reason... (Blink. Blink. Blink. Why am I not asleep yet? Hmmm....)

After an hour spent catching up with emails (after a 12 hour day of clients), an hour spent blog-surfing, and half of an hour spent playing mahjong on my two inch by three inch phone screen, my brain just won't shut off. Or shut up. Which is leaving my husband wondering when I'm going to shut off the light and let him sleep.

It all began with an email from Anne Marie, a very cool and very sweet mom I met this year through my son's class at school. (Interestingly enough, her name is a combination of my and my daughter's middle names. But that's only interesting because it's 1:02 AM and I'm wide awake. But I digress...) After corresponding several times over a project we were working on together for our kiddos' teacher, we'd begun corresponding about blogs and website design, because I'd spent some time poking around her very fun and creative graphic design portfolio.

The topic turned to writing, and that's when this whole mind-spinning-not-sleeping thing began in earnest. Anne Marie told me about a friend of hers, Marla, a local woman who had "authored a few books." My eyebrows raised. I have one of her books. My sister-in-law, who was likewise friends with Marla, had given one to me when she had finished it. Years ago. How ironic was that? I read on, and my eyebrows went up even higher, as Anne Marie recommended to me Ann Voskamp's blog, a holy experience, based on her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Which, of course, was the third time this week someone had recommended her blog to me, and guess what? Yep. I already have the book. ?!?!?

What ensued from there was an hour or more of reading and exploring these women's blogs, and the blogs they were linked to, and the blogs those were linked to, and... you get the idea. 1:25 AM, and still not sleeping.

Here's the thing. Normally, that would have frightened me. Discouraged me. Disenheartened me, if that's a word. (At 1:28 AM, it's a word if I say it's a word.) Normally. But things are not normal around here, anymore. Now, I'm thinking things like, Why not me? Why not now? Why not all the way? Which is really, really cool.

Unless, of course, you're trying to go to sleep.

I'm not any different than any of these women. There is no reason I could not do this, short of just choosing not to try. Out of fear. Out of self-consciousness. Out of complacency.

The truth of the matter is that I have done hard, uncomfortable things before. Many of them were not my idea, but I did them nonetheless, and I lived to tell about them. Obviously. Not one but two master's degrees. (Don't ask. Long, annoying story.) Natural childbirth. (After four hours on Pitocin. Nothing natural about it.) Running a half-marathon, having never run more than a mile before in my life. (Ouch. That's all I have to say about that.) I can do hard things. I just have to set my mind to it.

I am setting my mind. I am pulling it off of its spinning, aimless trajectory, and I am setting it on this path, and I am not letting fear "grab me by the tail and shake me," as my friend Kim quoted to me earlier this week. There is no good reason why, in five years, another woman could not be sitting up at 1:37 AM writing about having been on my blog, not able to sleep because of what it stirred up in her. No good reason.

I'm still not ready to turn out the light, but I'm ready to power down for the night. Six hours of editing await me tomorrow, and you'd better believe the beverage of choice will be caffeinated come morning.

I'll be sure to stop by 3:00PM. Or earlier. Or, perhaps, not...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

not broken

The good news is, the back is not broken.

The bad news is, we don't know why it still hurts after almost three months.

Physical therapy resumes tomorrow, after three weeks off to be certain therapy was not aggravating a stress fracture. We are relieved, but in a really bittersweet, I-hate-physical-therapy-and-can't-believe-we're-back-here-again kind of way.

I am not entirely certain, yet, that she's okay. Her grades are slipping. For the first time. Ever. She's unhappy at school. Could be hormones. Could be more. I just don't know.

When you take a kid who is used to nine hours of intense physical activity every week, on top of her normal screwing around, and tell her she has to BE STILL, I've got to think that takes a toll. I've got to think she has to miss it. I've got to think she looks at her trophies and her medals and her pictures and feels a loss, if nothing else. I sure do. But if she does, she doesn't mention it.

So, for the moment, she does not appear to be broken--body, mind, nor spirit. Time will tell if the diagnosis is sound. And time will hopefully, as they say, heal all wounds. ALL wounds.

She is not broken. My mother-heart can rest in peace tonight. Tonight...

Tomorrow is a new day. We shall see what prognosis physical therapy holds, and how quickly they can put her back together again.