The Parable of the Exploding Ketchup.

Hey all, I’m really excited to be guest posting at The Mudroom today. The Mudroom is a lovely blog collective that focuses on making room for people in the midst of the mess. My kind of place, think I’ll hang out there more often.

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We pulled out of the zoo and immediately they started asking for more.

Can we go out for Ice cream?!”  “Can we go out for dinner?!”   Oh please Mom! Oh please!”

We’d just spent hours traipsing around the zoo, petting the wallabies, climbing the wooden train and tracking down the tigers.

We weren’t there for me. I mean we were, but you know . . . not really.

As our sticky, crumb-infested mini van pulled out of the parking lot, my husband looked at me . . . “I’m not going to tell them ‘no’ about dinner. What do you think?”

I have a meal plan in place at home, but whatever you want, baby.”

Let’s flip a coin, Mom! Heads is dinner at home and tails is a restaurant!”

It was a very expensive tails.

We decided on a local brewery, because we live in Grand Rapids, beer city USA, and any restaurant that lasts either is a brewery or supports local beer culture.

We walked in and I scanned the trendy dining room, full of local art and hipster beards. I sighed with reassurance when I spotted the stack of high chairs in the corner.

High chairs, okay, we’re allowed to be here . . . I reassured myself. There is nothing like taking kids out to eat to remind you of just where you are in life.

We sat down and ordered drinks and melt-in-your-mouth fried pickles. While our kids wiggled and spilled, I leaned over to my husband and whispered; “It’s like we’re the PSA for why not to have kids . . . or at least not to take them out to fun restaurants . . . everyone must wonder why we dared emerge from our hot dog cave.”

Then my daughter leaned over and said: “Actually . . . I bet they’re all thinking “Wow . . . they have three awesome kids. They are soooo lucky.”

And I was put. In. My. Place.

Head on over to The Mudroom to finish it on up! 

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We Are Five, We Are Free

My daughter Noelle turned five yesterday. My oldest baby is five.

As I removed the classic, waxy number five candle from it’s packaging, while children gathered around plates of cupcakes, it struck me hard.

She. Is. Five.

We are five. Five years of mothering and daughtering together.

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Five years of stories, kitties, curly hair and a bouncy brown eyed daughter playing upon my every imaginable emotion.

As I looked down at that candle in my palm I fought the urge to stop the party, scoop her up and never let go.

How can she be five? Telling jokes? Heading to kindergarten? Starting to make her way in the world?

Where has it all gone and for the love of mercy if I cry this much at preschool graduation, how on earth am I going to weather further milestones? I think I’ll have to bring a therapist and an oxygen mask to her high school graduation, and college? Forgetaboutit.

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This weekend has been a time of celebrations, streamers, kitty masks and cupcakes.

But it has also been one of reflection for me, of inner processing and renewed resolve.

There is something that happened inside me over the last five years, this season of raising a daughter while grieving my broken, painful relationship with my own mother.

And this weekend it all came into focus for me: I have been mothering my daughter out of fear.

Fear that she will grow to hate me, fear that I will hurt her more than help her, fear that she shares all my worst flaws and that the world will hand her more than her fair share of pain and steal her joy.

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Noelle and I are cut of the same cloth temperament-wise. We are extroverted, busy, bright and distractible. It’s more personality type than a diagnosis, more learning-style than disability, but here we are.

This shared temperament didn’t serve me well as a child, maybe it was my peers or the adults who had influence over my life, but I grew up a sad, lonely little girl.

I spent years of my life believing that although they said God didn’t make junk, that I was the exception to that rule.

I fought to fit in and generally failed, I grew up feeling rejected and small.

The past five years with Noelle have been spent worried that history would repeat itself, that she would feel rejected by the world and that our relationship would somehow be strained and broken.

That my life was somehow starting over again, through hers.

I don’t know if you project your worst fears and past issues on your children’s lives , but I do. It’s far more inward than outward, but I worry and wonder if all the worst things of my life are guaranteed to play out in theirs.

I worry, then I do everything in my power to give them a foothold for better.

Did I ever tell you why we named her Noelle? 

It’s because Christmas was a revolution, the baby in the manger came to offer a fresh start, a new thing, a rhythm of grace and love open to all.

Given the broken, painful homes we came from, we wanted something new, a fresh start, a revolution.

So we named her Noelle, the beginning of our revolution.

Yet these past five years haven’t felt too revolutionary, how could they when I’ve spent them mothering in fear?

This weekend as she bounced through the celebration of her life God showed me something new, something beautiful, something intrinsically true.

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She is Noelle, she is His creation and she is exactly who he had in mind for her to be.

She will be loved, if not by all than by many, for she embodies his joy and creativity in her approach to life.

He will sustain her through the inevitable brokenness, just as he did me.

She is my beautiful daughter and the energy we share will flow through her to bring about good works, to bring grace to pain.

I need not fear her or what we share, rather I shall join in (finally) in celebrating what I have spent too long worrying about and projecting upon.

This is my daughter, sent to me by a wise and wonderful God on purpose, with purpose for the benefit of so many.

She is holding up to her name, she is healing brokenness through God’s work in her life.

And she has started with her Mother.

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Do you project your worries on to the life of your children? How has God set you free from that?

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God Quilts with Mother Love

soul blossoms amy butler quiltI’ve seen a lot of great posts on Mother’s Day circulating the internet this week. Many advocate legitimate reasons why this holiday does more harm than good.

I understand these perspectives and in many ways I agree with them..

Often, Mother’s day hurts more than it helps, and those of us who have lost mothers or who never had one in the first place understand that with sharp clarity. We go into this holiday feeling like the outcasts, the ones with no one to celebrate, no one to celebrate us.

Anne Lammott said it best (have a I gushed about her enough lately? Get used to it.)

“But my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat.”

There are so many people who kept me afloat after my Mom died and while she going through her long process of disappearing into depression. Continue reading

How to win friends and Influence People. With Guacamole.

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Adorable banner cut by Noelle and created by WildOlive

My husband Kel is one quarter Mexican, at least we think he is (no one really kept track of genealogy in his family.) Regardless of whether or not it’s true, Kel FEELS one quarter Mexican, which is why he is famous for his enchiladas and why he always asks to throw a Cinco De Mayo Party.

Last night was no exception as three families with children and cheese dip in town made their way through the doors of our home to share a meal with us.

Kids sharing a meal, I love each face and their engagement.

Kids sharing a meal, I love each face and their engagement.

And of course I made a massive bowl of guacamole.

Why? Because we are famous for our guacamole, it gets requested often. Sometimes we theme dinner parties around these requests, seriously. It’s that good.

Our penchant for guac started while I was working at On The Border, a chain restaurant where, if you really want to annoy your waitress you can request to have your guacamole made table side. This is instead of say ordering a less expensive bowl of house guacamole for $3 less.

So as this was a menu item I was trained on how to make great guacamole while chatting up my restaurant guests. It was so good, so fresh, it blew my mind.

So, we started with the On the Border house recipe, without raw onions which are Kel’s kryptonite. 

Then we went on our Honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta and discovered even better guacamole while on a snorkeling excursion on a wooden sailboat. This is not just because we were margarita tipsy, the guac was THAT good.

I snuck down to the galley and bothered the cook with my limited spanish for an ingredient list, which he graciously shared. This is why we now add garlic and onion powder.

So, because I love you and because well made Guacamole is good for the soul I am going to share my recipe with you today.

Let’s pretend you’re making it for 4 people, you can adjust accordingly.

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Some people wear purple medical gloves while chopping spicy peppers. Hi, I’m some people.

1) Slice two avocados lengthwise, using the sharp end of your knife, twist out the pit. Scoop them into a medium bowl with a soup spoon.

2) Squeeze the juice of 1/4 of a lime over the avocados and sprinkle roughly 1/4 tsp of salt on top as well, while you prep your other ingredients, the salt and lime will break down the avocado while you slice.

3) Dice roughly a shy 1/4 cup each of tomatoes and cilantro and one medium jalapeño pepper, set aside.

A NOTE ON JALAPEÑOS: When you chop them, take out the seeds (the spicy part) or your guacamole will be spicy. If you want it spicy you can leave them in, or add hot sauce, but in my very professional opinion, guacamole shouldn’t be the spicy portion of the meal. Also not a bad idea to wear gloves or at least wash your hands thoroughly after chopping all spicy peppers, some people I know have gotten juice in their eye, at the own college graduation party and cried off all their makeup.

4) Sprinkle a decent amount of garlic and onion powder (powder not salt) over your avocado and then, using forks, spoons or whatever you have on hand start to roughly work through your avocados. Chop them up but don’t mash them as good guacamole is still a bit chunky, creaminess will happen on it’s as tis the nature of ripe avocados.

5) Fold in your veggies until well incorporated and then taste to see if you’d like to adjust the seasonings, I almost always add more salt and lime. Remember that it’s infinitely easier to add more seasoning than it is remedy over-seasoned food. 

6) Serve Immediately with chips to hungry and appreciative guests.

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Ingredient List
2 large, ripe but not overripe avocados.
1 Roma Tomato
1 Jalapeño Pepper
I bunch cilantro
1 Lime
Salt
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

Bonus 3 Guacamole pet peeves
1) No fresh ingredients, no tomato, no pepper crunch.
2) Adding mayonnaise or sour cream to it. Sorry guys, avocados are creamy and fatty enough as is.
3) Lemons over limes. I even know it’s more authentic but for me, it’s gotta be limes. Sorry.

Do you make guacamole fresh? Buy it from the store? Love it? Hate it? 
If you make this, check back in, I’d love to hear from you.

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Love Showed Up: Hugging Strangers in Public Bathrooms

I hope you’ve been enjoying these Monday posts on Love Showing Up in life, at times when we need it desperately. 

I’ve been noticing this common thread in each post, in each moment we find to breathe thankful prayers for grace in the midst of pain, it’s this: when love shows up we feel less alone.

Our darkest burdens are easier to bear, our worst roads a bit shorter when love shows up. 

Today I want to tell you about one of the most unlikely moments in my life, a moment when love showed up to remind me that grief and pain are universal burdens, that even though grief is rightly referred to as the loneliest journey of life, it doesn’t have to be, not always. We can find each other and divide the pain with our presence.

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It was only two days after my Mother had taken her life, and I was 28 weeks pregnant with our son. We were back in Michigan after a miserable 22 hour road trip, to plan and attend her funeral alongside hundreds of other confused people she left behind.

My dear friend Lisa had called when we were making the drive up and didn’t ask so much as told me: “Hey, when you get here, I think you need steak.”

This is important when joining grieving friends on their journey, sometimes you tell them you’re helping rather than asking them, we are a stubborn people who prefer to deny our needs. 

I replied with a small laugh, because I wasn’t a steak lover per say, but I managed something like: “Sure, why not. Let’s go eat steak.

Turns out that part of the reason for the steak was Groupon related, but who says you can’t be a good friend while still being frugal? 

After I’d arrived home at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, managed a full but fitful night’s sleep, helped plan a funeral and gone to the mall for funeral appropriate maternity clothes, my friend Lisa picked me up for dinner.

We had a long drive to the steakhouse in Rockford and we picked up another friend, Becky on the way. Alyssa met us there and together we sat down in the golden light of the restaurant to order drinks and listen to the waitress explain the specials in mouth watering detail.

Nothing distracts my weary soul like great food, so as she went on about searing, herbed butter and the chef’s lifelong passion for steak I fell slightly in love with her. Having been a server for a number of years, I have a deep appreciation for menu knowledge and attentive interaction.

The meal progressed and Lisa and I order the London Broil with Bordelaise Sauce, Asparagus Spears and Yukon Mashed Potatoes. She talked me into adding caramelized onions, no regrets there.

It all melted in my mouth, danced on my pallet, sustained me, gave bits of joy.

I found myself gazing at my friend’s glasses of wine, thinking if ever there was an evening where I could use the comfort of wine, it was tonight. Why did I have to go through this pregnant?

At some point, or likely several points, in the evening I got up to use the bathroom. Too many delicious glasses of water I suppose. On one of these trips I ran into our waitress coming out of the restroom and I stopped her to thank her for her excellent service.

…Telling her that after moving to a small town in Oklahoma, I missed and deeply appreciated fancy food and vast menu knowledge.

She asked why we were back in town and I tried to vaguely reveal the details of our trip, of my mother’s funeral, without divulging too much.

Unexpected tears started to well up in the corners of her eyes, which was briefly awkward for me because I’m not always good at comforting other people to feel better about my grief.

Then she let it out: “My mom is in the end stages of cancer, in Hospice care and I’m living at her house. I’m the oldest and everyone looks to me to handle things, I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m terrified to lose her.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, it does suck, but you’ll get through it, I lost my Dad about five years ago and it’s not going to be okay any time soon but your life will keep going, you’ll find joy even. I promise. Just don’t carry everyone else’s burdens without taking care of your own, without processing your own grief, don’t be pushed around by everyone’s expectations of you.”

Then we hugged. Right there in front of the bathroom sink.

I peed and returned to our table, awkwardly trying to explain my interaction with the our server which probably sounded something like: “Our waitress’ mom is dying too! I’m not the only one. That feels better somehow, not that I’m happy about it. Anyway… how’s your food?”

Even though that interaction was three and a half years ago, I still think about it, still give heart space to that server, wondering how she weathered her storm.

Our embrace in the bathroom impacted me, I felt less alone in losing my mother young because of our three minute exchange.

It’s true that grief is one of the loneliest journeys we walk in life, that no two losses are alike, even when they center around the death of the same person.

Yes, grief is lonely, there are times when we will feel naked and alone in our pain. Yet sometimes, we are given companions on the journey, for a minute, for an hour, for longer.

My friends around that evening table divided my grief, not just during that dinner but throughout the journey with their presence at the funeral and their words over the phone.

My time with our server divided both our griefs for three minutes, perhaps even longer.

Yes grief is lonely, but we are not alone, millions have walked this path and millions are waking up to walk it today.

It’s normal to feel alone, but if you can look for it, to be open your pain, love will show up in a thousand surprising ways and each time, if only for a moment or two, your grief load will lighten.

May we be a people who divide the sting of death with authentic, loving presence and sometimes, with steak.

Has love showed up to divide your grief?
How have you divided the grief of a friend?

This post is part of a series called Love Showed Up, check out the other submissions and if you are interested in submitting please send me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com. We’d love to hear about how love showed up in your life. 

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Soup and Pie (On Observing The Anniversary of a Loss)

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Today marks the 9th anniversary of the day we lost my Dad (for more on this click here). I can’t wrap my head around this number, some days it feels like I’ve spent my entire life without him and then other days I still go to call him.

Thoughts of the March we buried him still haunt me, many of my memories are of staring down at my black ballet flats, on the funeral home carpet, on the painted concrete of the church, on the freezing grass at the cemetery.

Head bowed, soul overcome

In the end it all happened, it’s not a phantom or a figment of my imagination. He is gone and I am here, with a family and a life he isn’t a part of and cannot touch or enter into except in memory and remembered wisdom.

Softly in spirit sometimes, although usually painfully absent

The first anniversary of his death was hard, we all gathered at the cemetery as a family and words were spoken over the shiny, black marble headstone. We shivered and felt lost, still unable to believe that he was gone and not quite sure what to do about it. A year, a year without David, without Dad.

Gathering those who remember, this is one thing to do about an anniversary of loss.

The second anniversary of his death was possibly harder, we were newly married and I was in my last year of college. I called a few friends and asked them if they would join me in my grief, if we could eat my two favorite comfort foods together (soup and pie) and laugh or cry as needed, as the evening led.

They came into our apartment slowly and I tried to smile and reassure them that this wasn’t going to be weird. But was it? Would it be weird?

Some brought cards and flowers. There were 8 of us all together, or so, my memory is hazy on certain details. We shared soup from the restaurant down the street and store-bought pie.

We sat on couches, plaid hidden under slipcovers, and in a semi circle on the floor. With our warm bowls gathered in front of us I looked into the eyes of each face and thanked them from the depths of me for their willingness to come, to remember and to weather whatever this was.

I think I mentioned my Dad a few times but it was no formal service of prompts or intentional remembering. It was simply a gathering of friends who loved so well that they were willing to enter into the awkward unknown of my grief.

Willing to say “On this Day where darkness feels eminent, I will bring light into your apartment. I will share a bowl of soup over something hard.”

When it comes to remembering a grief, marking a day that has permanently marked your life all I can tell you is this: Remember and Invite.

Don’t pretend it’s not the day that it is, be open with your friends and coworkers that this date on the calendar (which may seem ordinary to many) is a dark square on yours. A day marked with loss.

If they know you, they’ll know the weight that the day carries but in the telling you will create an openness, a vulnerability, an invitation that gives others the knowledge they need to love well, to offer grace.

You point to this day and say this? This is going to be a tough one to weather and I wanted you to know. 

You can even take a step farther and say “this is what I need.” … if you know… and you won’t always know.

This is when the brave ones will enter in and do their best to love well, bring your favorite latte, cover you at a meeting, take you out to lunch, send you a text, a prayer, a hug, a grace.

Be open, do something, do what feels like the right thing to do to abide .

Honesty, Openness, Invitation, this is my best advice for observing loss anniversaries well.

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Love Showed Up: Breathe in, breathe out

Elora Ramirez has been a friend, role model and lovely presence in my life for a while now. She’s the founder of Story Sessions, a community of women (of which I am a part) who support and encourage each other in their lives and writing journeys. Her leadership is changing lives friends, in the most tangible ways.

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She texted me one morning in June.

“I don’t know exactly what you need, but I’m praying for you and am here. Whether that’s bringing you lunch or picking you up to escape—let me know?” 

It was two days after receiving the call that the birth mother would be keeping her son. This was the second broken placement and in so many ways, hurt far more than the first one. We’d seen the picture, held the hope, created the space and laid open our hearts. And now, ashes. That’s all that remained.

I remember getting the notification of my friend’s text and then staring at the baby clothes hanging in the closet in front of me, the numbness overtaking every limb like a heavy liquid.

“I guess lunch sounds good. I should probably eat something.” I replied, burying myself deeper into the covers on my bed and closing my eyes. Closing my eyes, I didn’t have to remember. Closing my eyes, all I saw is what I felt: darkness.

Within an hour, she was at my door with cheeseburgers and milkshakes. She put the bags and the cups on the counter and then pulled me close for a hug. I couldn’t say anything, hadn’t been able to articulate any phrases or sentences or words for days, and so I just stood there. She didn’t let go, she just kept breathing.

Almost like she was trying to remind me how to move forward: breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

I ate lunch and made small talk, but soon I just needed the quiet darkness of my room. I told her I was going to take a nap, and she just smiled. I whispered on my way out of the room, “thank you—for bringing lunch. I don’t know if you’ll be here when I come out or not, but it was good seeing you.” 

She didn’t leave until almost midnight.

She stayed and read on my couch while I tried to rest, and held my hand when I gave up on the silence and walked back into the living room with tears in my eyes. We painted our nails, I asked about the book she was reading, and by the time my husband came home I felt more like myself than I had in days.

And then, as if sitting me in the midst of sackcloth and ashes wasn’t enough to remind me of hope, she went home and penned a blog post that still brings immediate tears to my eyes.

I know most people don’t know how to respond in the midst of heavy grief, but in this moment, love came down and showed up in the form of someone who is now one of my best friends and people. It’s more than acknowledging the heavy days are heavy—it’s coming over and offering to carry the load for a bit, even when the person doesn’t even know how to move out from under the weight of grief. And in this moment—I felt seen. Loved. Held.

2014-03-06 09.03.37What if your story could change the world? Elora believes it can. The one you’ve been hiding under your heart’s bed, afraid that a little air will make it a monster you can’t escape? That’s the story she wants to hear. That’s the story you’ve got to tell before it sucks the air right out of your lungs. It was this belief that prompted Elora to launch Story Unfolding, a respite for tired artists aching to be heard. She also runs Story Sessions, a community for women who create. She’s written a novel and writes out her thoughts and the holy & broken on her blog

Don’t miss a post in the Love Showed Up Series, there is so much goodness here Use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

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Interested in contributing to this series? I’d love to hear your story. Shoot me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll have a cup of virtual coffee over it.

Love Showed Up: Best Friends Know Better

Leigh Kramer is a longtime blog-friend. Her writing, compassion and zest for life never cease to astound me any time we cross (digital) paths. I hope you enjoy and resonate with her story today, that it ignites gratitude and bittersweet memories in your heart as it did mine. 7023751359

I don’t remember if she picked me up or if we met at the restaurant. I do remember putting up a fuss at first. I wanted to stay in my cave. It was cozy, didn’t require energy, and my tears could arrive as they pleased.

But best friends often know better than we do. Erin told me we were going out for dinner, which is how I found myself sitting on the patio of one of my favorite Mexican restaurants a couple of weeks after my grandmother died.

I see us there perfectly but I have no idea what we talked about or whether I had a margarita that night. Grief’s blur covers almost all my memories from that time. I know we went to dinner. I know it was good for me. I know I never would have realized that apart from Erin’s insistence.

I had lost other loved ones, throughout my life really. Losing Grandma the summer of 2007 rocked me to my core. We were close and I was involved in her care during her last weeks. Our family changed dramatically in the course of four months. Or a little less than a year, depending on where we start the story. My great-aunt was on hospice for about 10 months. Grandma was a valiant caregiver but family had to step up more and more as her own health troubles began. In the week after my great-aunt died, Grandma received her own terminal diagnosis. She started on hospice and died almost two months later to the day.

I worked for that same hospice as a social worker. I picked the team for these two women I held dear. I walked alongside and pitched in as much as I could, ever mindful I was a great-niece, a granddaughter. After they died, I tried to resume the old routines but found I couldn’t.

There was no escaping my grief at work. I would do my best to make it through each day, stuffing down tears as families walked down the same path I’d just traveled. When the work day ended, I’d collapse on to the couch in my living room and crack open a book. Book after book after book. Not even good books. I turned to Christian fiction. While I insist good Christian fiction exists (it does!), it is not always easy to find and the series I turned toward in those days would not qualify as “good.” Now it wasn’t Amish fiction or the drivel I had regularly sold while working at The Christian Bookstore- I still had some standards- but it was sure to have easily solvable crises and happy endings. I needed predictability in the midst of my fallen world.

Before this loss, I was the quintessential social butterfly. Afterward, I stopped planning parties and turned down invitations. The energy that had powered me through the last few months deflated suddenly and quickly. I had nothing left to give and I didn’t know how to receive. Books required little of me. I could lose myself in the pages.

Erin let me be. At first. But when Erin decides something, it’s going to happen. We were going to dinner. She ignored my excuses. She told me to decide when and where.

It was a bright moment of normalcy. I’m sure the conversation meandered through all manner of topics because that’s how our conversations go. I’m sure she asked how I was doing- how I was really doing- because Erin is compassionate and caring. I’m sure she also let me decide how much I wanted to talk about the loss, for the same reasons.

I needed to stow the books away for one night. I could return to my grief cave the next day. The dinner was a line in the sand, not forcing me to change but opening my eyes to life again. In the weeks and months that followed, I’d start picking better books and re-engaging with my closest friends. The loss changed me more than I realized possible and set down a map for how I would navigate future loss.

Erin showed up in ways big and small during that time, as did other friends and colleagues. I didn’t need listening ears per se but I needed people to draw near when I didn’t have the strength to reach out. When I didn’t have words for what I needed.

Thank God they showed up.

Bio picture Bio: Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee with only fried pickles for comfort, quit steady job as a social worker to chase that dream of writing at last, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. She is a contributor at A Deeper Story. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at LeighKramer.com and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.

 

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This is how my first big speaking engagement went

Last week Friday I had my first big speaking engagement, which is a fancy way of saying that a church asked me to share at their women’s retreat.  

And guys, I was nervous, I started shaking about 12:30 in the afternoon and still all hopped up until I fell asleep that night, honestly just writing about it is exhilarating and nerve wracking… in the best of ways.  

But so many friends texted, tweeted and Facebooked me encouragement, let me know that they believed in me…. that I didn’t go into that room alone.

just before...

Also I bought red power lipstick, this helped too.  
Also Also my friend Anne sent me a gorgeous shirt for the occasion, this also helped because I could stop worrying about what I was wearing and worry about what I would say. 

And it went well, it went so well.  As I gazed out over the faces of all those women (a little over 100!) I felt more energized than nervous, more impassioned than afraid.  In short…. I think I sort of loved it.

The evening was under the umbrella of a winter storm and when I went to park in the ramp in downtown Holland, the van slid on ice and I had to carefully back it down.

I immediately realized that if I can survive THAT, I can talk to a roomful of women for 45 minutes.  After all, it won’t kill me or total my main source of transportation so how bad can it be?

When I walked in, the smiles of the organizers put me at ease. We walked to the room across the street where the conference would be held that evening as we chatted about the weather and having thick hair all while the wind did it’s best to whip the hood off my head.

Something I haven’t yet mentioned:  The church who asked me to come speak is the church I attended as an adolescent, the church both my parents attended when they died, the church where we held their funerals.

This was both comforting and extremely intimidating, because while they knew my story... they also knew me as a 14 year old girl. Continue reading

The Worst Part of “Getting to Know You”

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So there’s something awful about getting to know me, especially if you’re a tender hearted person.  It’s this: At some point I’ll have to tell you my backstory and I’m nearly 100% sure that doing so will hurt more for you than it will for me.

I’m used to telling this story, you’re just not used to hearing it.  My story flies in the face of everything you’ve assumed to be true about me through our interactions.

Online it seems to be a little less dramatic (I’ve rolled out the three major blows of my life here, here and here) but this could very well be because you’re on the other side of the screen and have time to compose and comment, or not.

When people meet me in person, their first impression is usually that I’m a talkative, upbeat, bubbly mother of two who’s good for a laugh.

Then, at some point, the conversation usually has to take a turn, usually not the first time we meet.

It starts with someone asking about my parents, here, I’ll just dialog it for you. Continue reading