What I’m Into (March 2013 Edition)

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Month in (super brief) review: Oklahoma warmed up and then cooled down again, now it’s warm and wet and incredibly mossy and springy outside.

Caedmon got his hair cut like a hipster big boy, which was a really big deal in the end, he looks just so grown up!

We celebrated St Patrick’s day with our dear friends the Harrison’s over boiled Irish fare and oh yeah WE SOLD OUR HOUSE and announced our big move!

St Patties

Best Moments of the Month: Our children have started to sing in the shower and it makes my heart melt.  It’s almost always “Jesus Loves Me” or “You Are My Sunshine” and it feels like all the best parts life in one steamy wet burst.

This past Thursday we celebrated Passover Seder at First Presbyterian Church here in Ada. I love celebrating the passover and going through the deeply rooted rituals with friends and remembering who we are as God’s people and the Lamb Stew they made?  Forgetaboutit.

Also as you can see Caedmon ate an avocado straight out of the grocery cart at WalMart, you know typical kids stuff.

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Great Reads & Word Discoveries:

Last month I finished no books, this month I finished 2, one fiction, one non-fiction, so I am on my way back up!  It’s not as many as I’d like but I’m trying to celebrate progress in all it’s forms.

The Memory Keepers Daughter (Kim Edwards):  This family drama was fairly a engaging and easy read, although sometimes I found myself wanting to shake the characters and redirect their choices.  A terribly accurate example of how secrets and lies destroy lives and families.

Bread and Wine (Shauna Niequist): God help me I love Shauna, her books, her blogs and her ability to pair animal prints and stripes. This book was no exception and I’ll be doing a full review of it in the coming weeks.  In the meantime take my word for it and preorder the book, do it now.

(I have been incredibly absent from the internet this month and haven’t been tracking my favorite blog reads, this will change in April as I pack our house… ha… ha… ahem… yeah…)

On the TV Screen:  Well Les Mis came out on DVD and I immediately hosted a watch party complete with dark chocolate toffee.  I’m so glad to have it at my fingertips for anytime viewing although I’m terribly sad that the soundtrack didn’t come with “Can You Hear the People Sing” You’d think with as much as they use that song to promote the film that they’d put it on the soundtrack but… no.

I’ve been an HGTV addict recently and my mind is filled with the potential of a new home with new nooks and crannies to fill and bring warmth to.

Dr Who: This march I completed seasons 1 & 2 of Doctor Who (The 9th & 10th Doctors) and went through various stages of grieving over the exits of both Christopher Ecclesion and now Billie Piper.  I’m now in Love with David Tennant, yet I still miss Rose.  Sigh…. change is hard!

Other than that I’ve been clicking along with HIMYM and am crazy excited to meet Ted’s wife and also glad that they’ve confirmed a 9th season and aren’t just going to intro her and end the show.  Oh how that would piss me off.  Not as much at the Downton Abbey condundrum but … I’d be pissed.

photo-cassoletFavorite Bites: This month I have been cooking my way through Bread and wine and have some new favorites that I am saving for my book review post.  I recommend this book for so many reasons, but spoiler alert I cannot stop craving the Real Simple Cassoulet it’s simple and positively amazing.

 

Crafty-ness: I’ve discovered a love for working with knit fabrics, most especially jersey cotton and made Noelle an adorable flowery t-shirt that was made from an old dress she’d outgrown.

Horns Pic copyI’m trying my hand at a quilted skirt for Noelle’s easter outfit and am in the process of up-cycling some adorable skirts that I got from a thrift store for .25 a piece!  Can’t beat that deal, maybe I’ll share all that with you when I get it all figured out.

Also I managed to crochet goat horns for a friend’s daughter so she’d have some wicked headgear for a school play.

On The Blog  This month my dear friend Jill Burden wrote a piece for Mom Hacks on getting picky eaters to try new foods by having them lick it.  Thanks to Pinterest and some great writing this was the most popular post this month!  Go Jill!

Other than that my post She is incomplete (Dr Who inspired title- nerdy…) seemed to resonate deeply with many of you as posts on depression and faith often do.  Although my favorite post of the month was this past week about the messy, deep love God has for us and how easily we forget it’s huge-ness.

So now it’s your turn, what are you loving?  What are you into?  

As always I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer’s This is What I’m into for the month, head on over and meet some super chicas (and Chicos?)

He Messy, Bloody Loves Us

If you spend much time in the church or around Christ followers you’ve heard these words a thousand times:

“God loves you.”

We’re conditioned to it, we see it on billboards and t-shirts, hear it in song lyrics and on the lips of people on the street corner.

“God loves you!”

Where does your mind go when you hear these words?  Do you think of something small like a latte or a car?

Have these words lost their power over your soul from overuse?  I’d like to go out on a limb and say that I think that for all of us, they have.

I have to confess that lately I’ve become keenly aware of where my mind goes when I think about the love God has for me.  And you know what I’ve found?  I focus on the small potatoes, the very temporary, the daily bread type of gifts, this isn’t bad but it’s certainly not all.

Yes God is good, we’ve sold our home and found a rental.
Yes God loves me, we have enough grocery money to for milk, eggs and bananas.
Yes God loves me, we have two beautiful children.
Yes, God loves me, I’ve found time to pray over a warm cup of coffee in the dimly lit morning of our living room near my favorite Target lampshade.  I am blessed.

Yes, these are good gifts, 1,000 gifts worth counting.

But, I have to confess that all too often I forget that it is ever so much bigger than my cup of coffee.  Not only has he given me bread, children and a new house in my home state but he has set me free.

Free.  Free.  Free.

Free from defining my life by these small things.
Free from the relentless dance of earning my salvation
Free from fear
Free from sin
Free from death.

messy bloody loves

Yes, coffee, Yes houses but guys…. freedom from sin and death?  Hope in the direst moments of grief?  A copy of the final chapter?

A knowledge that he is going to set every painful thing back to right and quench the thirst of a creation that cries for him?  I’m sorry but I need this so much more than I need bread.

Have we become desensitized to the true meaning behind the reminder that we are loved by the God of the universe?

Maybe I need a little less thanks for daily bread and a little more thanks for this freedom over death that, upon reflection makes me want to go in the backyard and dance like a fool in my pajamas, to hell with what the neighbors think.  (truthfully I think they expect crazy at this point)

We need both types of thankfulness, that of bread and of salvation but honestly? My thankfulness teeter-totter in uneven in favor of the small and temporary evidences of God’s love.

I see the small, the coffee and bread and I think that’s where it ends, I forget that it’s just the introduction to the book of love that God has written for me, for my life.

It’s Holy week, It’s Easter, and yes I am daily thankful for the small things, We are conditioned to pray for the daily bread.  It’s so good to do so.

But guys, he beat death, we win! I get to see my whole, restored redeemed parents again!

This pain and depression has an expiration date, the fighting the bickering, the death and suffering has already been licked.

God loves you, he forever beat death loves you, he messy, bloody loves you.

And all the people said…. Amen, Holy, Bloody, Beautiful Amen.x

How to eat Humble Pie on Palm Sunday

Cross palms

I was born into a traditional Christian Reformed church where my family were charter members. I still remember the crazy confetti carpet, the stained glass windows and the padded wooden pews.

I remember getting into major trouble for turning on the organ and banging away one afternoon during children’s choir practice.

I remember gazing longingly into the Sunday school reward case and wishing I’d have done more of my Bible Memory so I could get a Noah’s Ark cup or Jonah pencil.

I remember realizing in horror that I’d picked my nose while the Sunday school sang Happy Birthday to me. I beat myself up over this for years and always saw it as the turning point of my popularity at school.  I was sure they all knew.

Eventually my parents switched to a more contemporary church.  This was fine with me, I was never quiet enough to sit through the service un-spanked.  That’s why my Dad eventually started giving me a roll of Mentos before the service, I couldn’t be half as noisy if I were chewing candy until the Doxology finally announced my freedom. 

At our new church our pastor used videos in his sermon clips we ate cookies and lemonade around tables during the sermon. I swore that I’d never return to anything remotely traditional again.  I was done with hymns and responsive reading, on to bigger and better things.

In my early twenties I left that church and went to an even more progressive church the next town over. It was at that point that I really thought that “this way” was the “right way” and that all the others were clearly doing it “wrong.”

I threw around words like “post-modern” constantly just in case people weren’t 100% sure that I was “in-the-know.”  I was feisty and argumentative and more than a little arrogant.  I railed at the idea of marrying a Methodist pastor and tensed up at the thought of being contained by a denomination.

And I was young and wrong, too busy claiming this new church and faith as my own that I failed to see how un-Christian my words and behavior really were. I spent a ridiculous chunk of my twenties giving very little grace to other churches, or to myself for that matter.

Now that I’m older I want to go back and shake 22 year old me. I want to tell her that the name on the sign, however modern, post modern or traditional doesn’t define the church, the people inside it do.

I want show that girl that she’s a fool for throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to church tradition. Because whether we sing hymns or contemporary songs, gather in sanctuaries or experience rooms, listen to TV pastors or those wearing robes we all bear in our hearts a need for the very same God who shatters any such constraints.  

Don’t worry, I eat regular bites of humble pie over that season, God makes sure of it.  These days my usual station on Pandora is the “Instrumental Hymn” station.  Something about the soft sweetness of souls seeking God through those words makes me feel connected to something far greater than myself.

Today found me a bit too sick to make our home church so my husband Kel too the kids for a visit to another wonderful church down the road.

He sent me a picture of Caedmon, walking down the aisle of the enormous sanctuary, waving a palm branch with a tentative grin on his face.  When I saw it something inside me burst, there was my son engaging in a tradition that goes back as far as I can remember.

His view of Jesus is already being formed by a Palm Branch on a Sunday morning he’s not likely to remember but that will be a brick in his faith journey.  

I burst with Joy that my children are engaging in a practice that started back on the first Palm Sunday, with a young boy not so different from Caedmon who sat around a table listening to stories about God and salvation.  Who stood in a street waving a Palm branch because wondering if perhaps his salvation, his freedom was right before his eyes.

Today I lay another piece of my arrogance aside and pray that in every way shape and form may our churches may be like the streets of Jerusalem were that day: a place where God’s people from 2 – 102 can wave their hands at the freedom their souls are finding in that man right in front of them, riding on a donkey.

Five Minute Friday: Remember

five minute friday

(Today I’m joining a group of beautiful writers who writer for five short minutes every friday on the same topic, sharing stories and life on topics created by the unflappable, amazing Lisa Jo Baker)

I’d spent the entire day working at the bank, with little to do, always staring at the clock, wishing it was time to go to my Doctor’s appointment.

And then your Dad and I met up at home and dashed off the the doctor for yet another non-stress test, sitting in a little closet of a room hooked up to monitors and watching the numbers on the screen go up and down, up and down.

They were high this time, so high, we asked the doctor to check on things and sure enough, you were ready to greet us. She was worried about your umbilical cord, so I was rushed to the hospital, no bag, no camera, all nerves and a few tears.

Everyone was in such a hurry and I was putting on my bravest face for them all.

mom and Noelle

The nurse who put in my IV missed, 5 times, stabbing me over and over in different spots. I tried my best to be gracious, but a repeated stabbing wasn’t exactly what I needed at that moment.

Then more needles, sedation and a rush into the delivery room. They cut an incision and tugged for a while until, even in my groggy drugged-up state I knew you were free of me.

But there was no cry, Your Dad and I looked at each other with worried, wondering eyes.  Why couldn’t we hear you?

He stood up to check and was yelled at by a nurse to sit down, they were trying to get you to breathe.  And then in one glorious moment, after what seemed like hours you cried for us and the rushed you away, apart from me for the first time.

I laid in the recovery room alone for an hour, thirsty for both water and my new family. 30324_507507430017_5851086_n

When I got back to the OB Floor I could see you in the window, naked and wiggly.  So many friends were there, excited for your Dad and I, but mostly about you.

They kept you behind that glass for a long time, far too long.  I got pissed, my mama bear coming out for the first time.

Then finally, hours later, we were reunited and I stared at you for weeks as we tried to learn each other, nursing, sleeping, snuggling and just gazing at those eyes we’d been waiting to see.

302118_524300840887_66769267_n And now in a flash, you’re a tall three year old, in size 6 clothes.  A tall, brown eyed beauty who’s never met a stranger.

And I love you, and we’re still learning each other.

And that Noelle is the story of the day we met, the day you were born.

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Move Announcement (our quasi Abraham adventure)

Since November we’ve had a for-sale sign in our yard.  I’d give it a glance every time I pulled in or out of our driveway, when I got the mail or when we played in Noelle’s room with the windows open.

I wondered just exactly when the right person would drive by it, had they done so already?  What did they think or our home from the outside?  They couldn’t possibly know it’s potential like I do, all the memories and warmth we’ve cultivated so carefully.

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For the past 4 months we’ve been waiting for the right person drove past that sign, because when they did everything would change. Our time in Oklahoma would draw to a close and our journey back to Michigan would begin.

And last week it happened, someone bought our house.

Yes, that’s right, after an almost 6 year stint living in both Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Penny family is finally returning to West Michigan.  We close on our house on May 8 and we will likely move the weekend before.

So, deep breath, because I know you have questions, so do I for that matter.

1) Where will we live?  We will not be buying a house right away, we will be renting while we figure things out.  We don’t know exactly what part of West Michigan we will plant roots in for the long term.  I’d like to dig into Holland and never let go… but our prospects may be pointing us closer to Grand Rapids proper, who knows!

2) Does Kel (or I) have a job?  Shouldn’t we start with that?  At first we thought that would be the way to go and we sent off resumés galore.  That didn’t pan out and we began to realize that we could work anywhere and pay bills for a while (deliver pizzas and work retail if needed) but we couldn’t pay for 2 houses.  So we prayed about it and decided that the sale of the house would be the moving point.

As far as whether or not we have jobs at this point, technically… no but there are a lot of exciting prospects for us and we have a feeling that good things may be just around the corner.  Sometimes it’s very hard to justify this move financially, logically, but we know that God’s leading on this and that he will show up.

Sometimes I falter, often I freak out, the unknowns are many but the excitement is huge.

3) Why West Michigan? It feels like home and it’s where a large majority of our family is, and Kel is family to them as well.  Even though Oklahoma is technically home for him, he feels quite happy and at home in Michigan and lived there for over two years while we were dating.

I’m one of 25 first cousins between both sides of the family and over 90% of them all still reside in the West Michigan area, and we miss them.  I’ve also kept in contact with many friends from college that are as good as family as well.

Also… All these reasons too.

Michigan CollageSo we know it will be West Michigan and we know it will be early May, other than that we are praying, wondering and working out all the details.

I’ve been told by a dozen people that we’re like modern day Abraham, we believe God is calling us to go somewhere and we’re following his lead with all the details.  It’s true that our move is a God-led leap of faith, but you have to understand we aren’t going somewhere unknown where we know no one.

I’m not sure we deserve Abraham level credit.

We’re going home, and all four of us right down to 2 year old Caedmon, feel this way, Michigan is where we belong.  

So, all that being said, if you would like to employ a member of the Penny family please let us know.  Kel and I have a myriad of skills from writing to pastoring to rolling enchiladas.

Caedmon is available for baby modeling and Noelle will gladly do the music at your next special gathering.  She’s very talented in singing Gagnam Style like a kitty and you can pay her in strawberries.

So, guess what guys?  We’ve moving 1,000 miles and so many things are about to change.  Whoa.  Crazy, eh?

All things for good (on 8 years without my Father)

Today marks 8 years since I lost my Dad, and I hate it.

I hate everything about it.

I hate looking at the landscape of our lives and not seeing him there.  I see his fingerprints all over the place, but those joyful eyes behind the paint speckled glasses?  They’re nowhere to be found.

Somedays I can’t believe he’s gone and others I struggle to remember what it was like to have a Dad at all, a Dad to call with tears or mortgage questions.

I tell the kids about him sometimes, but mostly they’re too young to understand. I tell Caedmon that he has his Grandpa’s middle name and I tell Noelle that she has a nose just like her Grandma’s.

I tell them: “I had a mommy and daddy too and they’re in heaven with Jesus and they love us all very much.”

Some people may see 8 years of grieving my Father and think: “Wow, she’s still not over it?” To those people I say this: “When you lose a parent, you’re never truly over it, there is always a unfilled gap, which is okay.”

And somedays that void takes the form of a lump in my throat, sometimes it causes my eyes to tear up because I just want my Daddy.  Somedays don’t we all?   And on those days when I need my Dad but can’t have him I ache on a cellular level.

I want to revert back to calling his cell phone and listening to his voice mail message over and over again.

“His this is Dave, please leave a message.” 

I stil remember the inflection of every word.

Somehow, shortly after he died it was put upon me to design and purchase my Dad’s headstone. I knew nothing about headstones, all I knew is that I wanted it to look as little like a headstone as possible.  Nothing grey, no block letters, I just couldn’t go there. Continue reading

Mom Hacks: Bath time for grownups

(On today’s Mom Hack I share one of my best tricks, my ability to abandon everything from kids to dirty dishes and take a bath.  Many are the evenings where I hit the tub within minutes of Kel’s arrival home.  Every Mom needs a safe place and mine is the tub)

Bathtime Allow me to paint you a picture of the day we decided to buy our house, errr rather the day I decided we’d buy our house.

It was a cold October Day and I was newly pregnant with our firstborn and recently relocated to Oklahoma, a state I knew nothing about.

At the time we were living in a rental which was in desperate need of repairs.  It had a stove with a Lamborghini door and the range was a pull out.  One room was full of old furniture which made the house an ideal home for unwanted roachy visitors.

I had no sanity and I needed some, fast. I spent a lot of days in lonely tears with no job, no friends and no idea what end was up.  I needed a sense of permanence and control as I sifted through my completely foreign surroundings and my first pregnancy. 

I needed….a HOUSE!  A place to call our own where I could nest and feel comfortable bringing my baby home to.  A home that free from roaches and other people’s junk.

Once we had made that decision to buy I set things in motion and we began the house hunt.  Some of our relator’s picks were an obvious “no” but then, THEN we set foot in THAT house.  It was half finished, all dust and tape and we were told we could customize it to our liking.

As we walked through the unfinished rooms I commented on the halls, the kitchen, the lot and then I saw it… the master bathroom complete with a deep jetted bathtub.

In that moment I realized that not only did I need a house, I needed a bath, lots of them.  I realized how badly my exhausted soul had been craving the warmth of a nice, long soak. (I certainly wasn’t taking any baths at the roach rental)

So to rectify my needs for a house and a bath I convinced Kel that we should buy it, and buy it we did.  Upon closing, as soon as we settled in, I took a bath and then another and then for good measure… one more.

I bathed extensively while pregnant with both children, always pressing the limits of our hot water heater.

Sometimes I even propped up my laptop so I could catch up on TV shows in the tub.  Sometimes I listened to music music, although usually I simply soaked in silence with a good book. 

Occasionally I even ate in the tub, usually just a cupcake or brownie but sometimes a sandwich.

I wrote imaginary books in the tub and said a thousand prayers over our life, which came together, fell apart and then healed up again during our four years in this home.

Once I was even serenaded by Christmas carolers outside the frosted window above the tub. It was one of the most awkward and hilarious moments of my life. Nothing freaks out college carolers like the silhouette of a naked and extremely pregnant woman, trust me.

This tub is my retreat, the place where the hot water forces my body and my brain to slow down and think things through.  My hands quiet themselves in the tub, there are no dishes to do or laundry to fold, no keys to press or yarn to crochet.

My weary hands swirl the water and the stress washes off my shoulders, the enormity of everything seems to shrink down to something manageable, something I can pray over, bit by bit and give back to God, the rightful orderer of my cares.

I was born with a love for bathing and I don’t see anything changing. One of my biggest fears is that someday, when I’m old and gray, I’ll fall getting out of the tub and those poor firemen will find me all sprawled out wrinkly on the  tile floor.  They’ll be scarred for life, but at least I’ll have had my bath.

Believe it or not, when I share my love of bathing, a lot of people tell me that they would love to take a bath but they just can’t do it.  They get too hot, too cold, too bored, they’re jealous of my ability to bathe.  

I don’t understand this at all, for me it’s the most simple thing in the world, you get naked and get in, what’s the problem?

Nevertheless today I’ll share my tips on bathing for Moms and non-moms who just need a good long soak.

1) Keep a towel within arm’s reach so you can read a book or sip your drink with dry hands.

2) Bring in some water or non-hot drink of your choosing, baths create thirst and you don’t want to soak thirsty.

3) Bring a book as an option in case you get bored, I get some of my best reading done in the tub.

4) Use bubbles cautiously, I find that they dry out my skin and make me itchy so I hate them, but I am okay with bath salts.

5) Get the lighting right, not too bright, I like candles while I bathe (someday I want a chandelier over the tub.. like an Ikea chandelier)

6) Make sure you have everything you’ll need (shampoo, loofa etc) before you climb in, getting back out for an errand sucks.

7) Do not bring your phone into the bathroom, not only might you drop it in but the buzzing and beeping will screw with

8) Adjust the temp as needed toward the end, you can always make it warmer but if it’s too hot you’ll sweat.

9) If your tub is big enough for two make sure your spouse knows that he is sometimes but not always welcome, the bath should be able to be your escape as well as a fun tub.  (yes I said that)
10) Take a bathe!  what do you have to lose? So many of today’s homes have lovely tubs that go unused, this pains me, I want to start a bathtub rescue program.
(Also, bathing before bed can slow your blood pressure and make for deep sleep especially if you keep the light pollution down and get into bed, to sleep, with 30 minutes of exiting the tub.)

Okay talk to me, do you like baths?  Why or why not?  Do you have any tips to share?

Yes to now

because the oil-rig Oklahoma sunsets aren't forever.

because the oil-rig Oklahoma sunsets aren’t forever.

This evening we gave the grill its annual test run.  As Kel came in to check on the sweet potato fries some leftover grease flamed up and filled the patio with billowy smoke.  This left us with crispy asparagus and hamburgers which were pink on the inside, but charred on the outside.

But we didn’t complain, we were too busy chewing in amazement that this spring day arrived and brought with it so much summer.

Crazy at it sounds for March, the kids spent the afternoon in the sprinkler simply because the lawn was freshly cut, the temps hit 80 and it seemed cruel to say no any longer.

Right now I find myself curled up on the couch with the final chapters of Shauna Niequist’s new book Bread and Wine.   I’ve been savoring like you do a regional food favorite you know you won’t get again for a while, you don’t want to swallow that last bite, even though you can’t stop eating.

That’s how Shauna’s books are to me.

As I lay here, the sun comes through the patio window, over the love seat and onto my face, just enough to be delightful and not so much that it’s blinding me.  I can hear the sounds of my children dancing around the backyard and when I look to check on them all I see are blossoming pear trees and sun haloed children.

Seriously, could right now be any lovelier?

To top it all off my son runs in buck naked and announces that he has put his diaper in the sink, then as I go to take care of it he commandeers my computer and sits on the couch, giggling and naked typing.

In a little while the kids will get a good wipe down and they will snuggle into their beds and Kel and I will pop a bottle of champagne because guess what?  Today we accepted an offer on our house here in Oklahoma.

Today the dream of moving home to Michigan took a great big step into reality.

I’ve spent all day looking up rental houses and estimating moving costs, a day defined by dollar signs and worry.  Will our savings get us by until we’re back on our feet again?

This comes on the heels of a week that was defined by the big house showing, we scrubbed, staged and planted Pansy borders.  I went through more homemade febreeze than any one person should in a lifetime.

But tonight?  It’s a sun warmed and obvious gift, tonight I say
yes to now
yes to burgers
yes to Oklahoma sunsets
yes to sticky naked babies (No to diapers in the sink)
and yes to reading a book on the couch in the midst of dishes and chaos.

Yes to Grace

This next season is bringing with it a thousand unknowns but tonight I can say yes to now.

This season is coming to a close and I want to savor it, like a bottle of good wine or a Shauna Niequist book.

When you wonder if your life has any room for you

A golden honeysuckle candle burns in my office, barely flickering in the stillness of the morning. The quiet of the dimly lit kitchen is often broken by the sounds of the cat playing with a balloon in the living room. This is music to my ears because it’s keeping him from his usual routine of meowing in the hallway with hopes of waking up the children, his playmates and sometimes friends.

And here I sit pajama clad sporting bed head and white mug of coffee, wondering how quickly “my time” will come to an end. They call this “me-time” and I crave it with an inner need that makes me feel desperate, guilty, selfish and justified all in the same breathe.

room for me

Lately Caedmon’s first “mama,” the one that sends me into his room to scoop him up, it feels like work lately and not at all like joy, I hate that.  My whole life feels like a chore that I’m struggling through, always wishing for a weekend, a holiday that never seems to arrive.

Kel and I pass like proverbial ships in the night and I’m generally asleep before his work day finishes up.  I crave time with him nearly as much as I crave time alone, I feel so utterly spent when we’re finally together that I have no spirit left for him, just a few kisses and apologies as he tucks me into bed and retires back to the living room.

I play and work from 6:30 AM – 8:30 PM when I pass out with nothing left to give my writing , no strength to channel the creative spirit into something tangible or legible.  I often take comfort in chocolate, wine and pointless TV in the spare moments between the moment Noelle finally surrenders to sleep and the moment that I do.

Is this the best of my life right now?  A little chocolate and wine?  The cannot be my escape, oh Lord save me from the death of this rhythm immediately or sooner.

I want to run away, find a field to occupy, free and alone.  I want to blow dandelion fluff and find shapes and faces in the clouds. I want to my family drive away for a while so I can enjoy my home with a bit of peace and quiet, yet so I often protest the suggestion, because I’m wracked with  guilt for the very need of it.

Is this depression, stress, laziness or it the labor pains of something new being born?  Is it normal?  Is normal even real?

This is my adventure, the life I’ve always wanted yet somedays I wonder if there’s any room for me in it?

Are my house keeping standards too high?  My children too demanding?  Why am I doing wrong to wind up with this strong a need to run away from it all?

This isn’t a cry for help and I hope it’s not whining, it’s just my need to write mixed up with the only song I’m singing today.  I feel the need to apologize for it, but then I wonder if somedays you don’t feel it too?

Have you been here before, in parenthood, work-life or any other season?  In the middle of the life you love wondering if there’s room for you in it?  Shall we pray for each other, figure it out together?  Give it to God (virtual) side by side?

She is incomplete

This week I forego Mom Hacks because I would be phoning it in.  The mom who started that column seems to have packed a bag and left. 

March marks the 8th anniversary of my Father’s death, March 19th to be exact.  This a huge weight on my chest and when I think about it I can’t breathe.  It cannot, CANNOT have been 8 years since I last spoke to my Dad.

But it has. It’s been nearly 8 years since we chatted on old-school cell phones or shared a raspberry coffee cake after a long Sunday morning of delivering newspapers.

After his funeral I had no idea what grieving looked like for me so I focused on healing and survival. I napped a lot and threw all the funeral flowers off the balcony of my apartment to get rid of “that funeral home smell.”

I refused to drink alcohol, I didn’t want to rely on it to see me through, no matter what.  I feared dependency. I refused antidepressants and sleeping pills as well, there was something within me that needed to prove to myself that I could make it on blood sweat and tears alone, that God could heal even this au natural.

I talked about my loss, wrote about it and went to counseling for the first time in years, I knew I needed a guide for the grieving journey.

I distinctly remember a session of therapy a few months after my Father’s funeral that will forever haunt me. I sat across the room from my trusted therapist of 2 months and listened as she explained to me her opinion that I suffered from moderate bipolar disorder.  She suggested I see a psychiatrist and get on a lifelong med regimen to counteract my seasons of mania and depression. This come out of nowhere for me, I wasn’t even aware I was living in such a cycle, I thought I was just grieving.

I was beyond crushed, I was looking for help with grief, not a lifelong diagnosis.   Continue reading