A Bringer of Water (Even though it’s easier to ignore thirsty people)

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I’ve already referenced in this post that my time at Festival of Faith and Writing made a significant impact on me.  But nothing struck me more than my two sessions sitting at the feet of Anne Lammott.

Because when you hear Saint Anne (as my friend refers to her) speak it fills up your grace tank for a while, it changes the way you look at things and people, including yourself.

A week later her words were still ringing in my mind and echoing in my stream of consciousness.

Miraculously, they managed to make their way into my head during the least likely hour imaginable, the post bed hour when I’ve officially clocked out but my kids are still intent on getting a bit more from me.

More water, more snuggles, more words, more attention.

All when I have absolutely nothing left. 

It was one of THOSE nights, where you’re playing whack a mole, and you’re losing. When you swear that if another child appears at the top of the stairs you’re going to really and truly start sobbing.

And then there they are, standing at the top with a small pleading voice with a myriad of requests. I need you to scary spray the room, I need some more mommy snuggles, Caedmon stole my puppy, I have to poop and you need to wipe me.

In this particular instance it was our four year Noelle, and she wanted some more water, serving three of water to be exact.

I struggle with doling out water at bedtime and here’s why: On the one hand, it’s water and a basic human need. On the other hand, too much of it and I’m stripping the bed in the morning in exchange for clean sheets.

I was about to yell “No, Noelle. Back to bed!” When my voice caught in my throat.

Why? Because I was thirsty, I myself needed some water.

And that’s when Anne Lammott’s words floated back to me. She said so much on grace and loving well and often her controlling metaphor was water.

“We get people glasses of water when they are thirsty.”

Noelle was thirsty, I was thirsty too and she couldn’t get herself water, the cups were out of reach. And there I laid on the couch, the one given charge to keep her from being thirsty, even when it was incredibly irritating to do so.

Sure, there was a chance that her request was really just a ploy for bedtime avoidance, but do you risk it when someone is genuinely requesting water? I mean, it’s water.

I got off the couch, suddenly tenderized by the basic truth of our shared need. My daughter and I needed water.

I told Kel: “I can’t yell at thirsty people, I have to get her water even if she’s just stalling, this is what loving well looks like.”

I probably wasn’t that eloquent at 8:45.

But I got her a little water, right after I made her use the bathroom. And there was something in Anne’s words and my challenge to be my daughter’s water carrier that caused me to respond to her in love, with genuine tenderness as I put her back in bed for the fifth time.

And this interaction has been challenging my thought life ever since, asking me: “What does it look like to give water to the people in your life? And what is water to them, for their bodies, for their hearts? What is the thing you are charged to do so that their basic thirsts are met?”

For Kel it’s words of encouragement and for Caedmon it’s the knowledge that he is needed and his opinions matter. For Noelle it’s time and attention when she wants to read or play kitties.

There are so many things that people are really, genuinely thirsty for. Am I doing something about this?

Or have I been too preoccupied by my own needs to notice the thirsty all around me.

I want to be a bringer of water, not because I’m amazing or even all that Holy, but because there is a Spirit alive in me that I’ve made head space for. I want to quiet the bulk of the noise to make room for the cues that tell me, this person needs water from you.

Bringing water requires paying attention
Bringing water requires telling the head demons in your own mind to be quiet, because you’re living for someone else please and thank you.
Bringing water requires a laying down of what you thought you’d being doing and instead, redirecting your energies.

I want to be a bringer of water in this world, with my words, my hands, my time. To leave the space I live in and the people in my life just a bit more deeply quenched.

This will require prayer, sacrifice and attention, may the Lord grant me more of these things.

How do you bring water to those in your life? How is God leading you to do this in new ways? 

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How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 3)

 

I’m telling the internet our story, the story of meeting a boy I met online and how over time we fell for each other and made it work across the miles. For part 2 click here.  To start at the beginning click here)hands

I stepped out of the airport and called Kel to let him know he could leave the stand by lot to pick me up. My hands were shaking as they pulled along my roller suitcase, what was I doing? Was my hair alright? But mostly… what was I doing?

I saw his Lincoln Towncar turning around the corner by the parking ramps, he pulled up and helped me with my bag, we hugged, got in because I don’t linger in airport pick up / drop off. I have an appropriate fear of the TSA.

I settled on to the leather seat of his car (appropriately known as the couch on wheels) and we looked at each other across the front seat.

“Hi.”

It wasn’t awkward, it was exciting. It was butterflies and stolen glances and laughter.

We ate an insanely early dinner at the one and only Ted’s Café and Cantina and then drove around the University of Oklahoma’s campus before unlocking the campus ministry where he worked for a dance lesson.

One thing no one knows about Kel is that he is a classically trained ballroom dancer. Yes, really. And I am the least graceful person I know in real life. I walk into door jams on a daily basis, I misjudge table clearance and stub my toes hourly. It’s a little like always having a touch of vertigo I imagine.

So when he suggested dancing I laughed but remained open to the idea of being closer, trying something new.

He hauled out a boom-box (remember those?!) and we started practicing. I can’t remember what dance we tried or which song we danced to, I remember giggling a lot and feeling caught when his campus minister walked in on us.

There we were at 9pm dancing together in a mostly darkened building, me this stranger from the internet who flew in on a whim and was flirting with one of his Senior interns. Or whatever I was doing…

Yet I was greeted warmly by everyone I met in Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma is warm like that. Most of them didn’t even know I existed, turns out Kel was a bit more private about his internet/phone friend than I was.

Eventually we returned to his duplex (which had half a Christmas tree in the corner in September and was home to not only Kel and Andy but also a few families of mice, several of whom I had the pleasure of meeting) and true to his word Kel slept on the couch while I got the bedroom.

The next day he parked cars at the football game, then we swung by Classic 50’s (Norman’s premiere drive-in soda stop) and decided to take a drive out to his childhood home where did a little tour and I met his mom.

On the way home he reached for my hand and I knew it was coming, the air was thick with unspoken romantic possibilities, terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

We got back to his apartment and sat across from each other, the inevitable DTR couldn’t have been more obvious, it hung like a cloud.

What were we doing? What was this?

I expressed my concerns as graciously as I could manage, it probably sounded something like this: “You’re a methodist and I’m hard core non-denominational (oh the hurdles I used to think were a big deal) you love Taco Bell and I’m sort becoming health-nut and OH YEAH YOU LIVE IN OKLAHOMA and I live 1,000 miles away, I don’t see how this will ever work”

In my heart I knew that I couldn’t just date Kel casually, that things would escalate quickly and that we were starting in the middle of “getting to know you” journey.

I never game him a definite answer, but still we kissed a little… or a lot…ahem… yeah…

So the next few days passed in a blur, I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what we did except I know that we shot a movie for his campus ministry advertising an upcoming retreat in which I was the heroine and wore the most unfortunate bra one could wear in running scenes, and shorts. There was jiggle but the thing turned out great … if you asked someone who wasn’t be watching my jiggle in horror.

Eventually it was time for me to get on a plane and fly back home, I can’t remember who picked me up from the airport but I remember this distinctly. Kel called me after I landed and said “I guess it’s time to tell my friends that I have a girlfriend in Michigan.”

To which I answered: “I never said yes, I’m still at a maybe” (I know, tease, B, mean… I agree. Bad 22 year old Leanne, Bad.)

Even with all the kissing.. poor Kel…Bless him he hung with me, told me to take all the time I needed.

So I took a few months, we talked and he remained patient, until one night I called him at two in the morning

“Okay Yes”
“Yes what?”
“You know… my answer is yes.”
“Yes… yes you’ll be my official girlfriend?”
“Yes.”

“Awesome, great news… yeah I’m going to go back to sleep though.”

I guess I deserved that.

To be continued…. 

How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 2)

This is chapter two of my little blog-novel about how I met my Okie husband on the internet machine. For chapter one, click here. 

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Leanne and the infamous road trip Lincoln.

The phone calls with Kel started at “just this once” and then “only for special occasions” but as good things tend to do, they became an addiction. We started talking to each other every other night, for at least two hours.

I think “every other night” was an unspoken rule. We’d never met in person and we had no idea what “this” was so every night phone calls would be crazy, but every other night was normal… or at least less insane.

We’d have to wait until his evening minutes kicked in and we never indulged in daytime calls unless it was an emergency. We had email and AIM for that and he didn’t want to get in trouble with his mom for using too much from their share plan. Cell phone rules used to be so quirky back the days when we actually called people

So every other evening I’d crawl into my American Flag day bed (Yes, really) and wait for him to call, and at 9:01 like clockwork his number would light up my little flip phone.

And we’d talk about our days
We’d talk about God
We’d talk about our families
We’d talk about random things like “if you could have a farm with four corrals of animals, any animals you’d choose, what would you have and why?”

FYI Kel would have all beavers, because he wants to see what it would be like when they stampede.

We figured out how much I hate the word penetrate... A lot… by the way… just typing it made me feel icky… 

Sometimes on the weekends he would talk to me as I delivered pizzas, I’d update him about the weirdness of people and how much they did or didn’t tip.

The one night, inevitably I suppose, we discussed the idea of meeting in person. He was planning a cross country, seminary tour road trip with his best friend and was planning to be in Ohio and Chicago and “could he come up and meet me, no expectations?

We’d always joked about how we’d never meet in person, and suddenly all that was changing.

I have no idea what I said, probably “sure” or “yes,” but in my mind I was nervous. This was getting real! Meeting him in only a few months?

I had no idea what we had but I was really scared of screwing it up and losing it. Kel was this voice on the other end of the line, these words on the other end of the computer screen… this person I’d never met who understood and cared more than most I’d met in real life.

Of course I “wanted” to meet him, but…

I was so nervous about it that when the time came, I ran down my immune system and started feeling that preemptive nasty cold sore throat just hours before he pulled into town.Still, I gulped down some medicine and drove to our designated meet-up spot, calling my friend and coworker Amy on the way for moral support.

I pulled up, Amy stayed on the line to be sure that I wasn’t going to get kidnapped by a serial killer.

I got out of the car and he walked out of the house where he was staying, wearing a gray button up shirt and khaki cut-offs pants he’d made himself. They were fraying at the bottom.

And then there we were, saying hi and hugging and so nervous about things that we could hardly speak.

I ran back to my phone to let Amy know I was not being kidnapped… our plan was fool proof, obviously.

If I’m honest, it wasn’t bells and whistles, it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. We didn’t know how to do face to face, we knew late night phone calls and AIM flirting and here we were face to face for the first time yet already knowing each other’s deepest junk.

Yet we sallied forth and went out for dinner. I’m pretty sure I talked to his friend Andy more than I talked to Kel and he spent the meal smiling and flicking straw wrappers and napkin balls at my head like a first grade boy. (yes, really.)

After dinner, we headed back to my parents house to play cards and eventually parted ways for the evening.

The next day I took them to Lake Michigan and we went to our first movie in the soon to be demolished Studio 28 where his friend got us free popcorn and Nachos. We watched Shrek 2 and he gained gold stars for letting me eat most of his nachos after I tanked my own.. I mean who has brakes for free nachos? No one that’s who. 

That night we said goodbye, hugged and went our separate ways. I was supposed to accompany them to Chicago to the next day day but instead I ended up staying home instead, my sore throat had turned into full blown sick.

I thought it was goodbye forever. That wasn’t kismet, or movie worthy at all… it was sort of awkward, I wondered if we would even keep up the phone calls. 

He didn’t call much in the next few weeks because he was on the road finishing his seminary-tour road trip.

But then, one night he did and we resumed our every-other phone call thing like nothing had changed between us, like nary a straw wrapper was flicked.

Summer came and clicked along and we grew closer, over the phone and in emails. This was our jam. I’d never encountered anyone in my life who seemed to be so into me, who got my crazy and for some reason kept coming back for more? What the what?

Labor Day weekend rolled around and I had this urge to hang out with him, it was insatiable.. but there were serious barriers, the 1,000 mile variety.

1) It was Friday and I had no way to get to Oklahoma, surely holiday weekend tickets would be astronomical.
2) I was scheduled to work 3 jobs that weekend / next Tuesday (Pizza, Desk Job, Delivering Papers)
3) I had mentioned NONE of this to Kel, how much crazy could he take?

So I shot up an arrow prayer that went something like this: Okay God, if you want this to happen: All of my bosses have to be cool with me not working, the ticket has to be less than $200 and Kel has to be free for a visit.

Within the next 30 minutes every stipulation was met and I had booked my ticket to Oklahoma City.

I didn’t have to fly out of Chicago or Detroit, the first search I made on Hotwire was a ticket leaving the next morning from Grand Rapids into Oklahoma City for only $199.

So I called Kel and it went something like this:
“Hey what are you doing over Labor Day weekend?”
“Parking cars for the OU game and that’s all I HAVE to do.”
“Can I come visit?”
” Tomorrow? That’s weird, you know that? Like tomorrow, tomorrow? I won’t have to time to arrange for you to stay with a girl friend but I guess I can sleep on the couch. Uh, sure. Why not?… this is weird.”
“I know, I just really want to hang out.”

So I booked my ticket, dyed my hair bright red… because brave things call for brave hair… and boarded a plane to Oklahoma City the very. next. morning.

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How to meet and marry an Okie (on the internet) part 1

I get this question a least twice a week, in real life and on the internet: Did’t you just move from Oklahoma? Yes. How did you end up in Oklahoma? My husband, Kel is from Oklahoma so we went there because he had good job offers in his home base.

Follow up question: How did you meet and marry an Okie?

Well, sit back and read on: and give grace in the moments where you find yourself wanting to travel back in time and smack 22 year old Leanne across the face.

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As we cranked out that Friday night’s pies we realized that we had a thousand things in common from the same car to the same middle name.

It was kismet and the start of a beautiful friendship, in which she encouraged me to start a xanga weblog.

What’s a xanga weblog? It was blogging, but it was a site comprised of blogs where you could associate and get to know other bloggers by common interests etc…

I was game, so start one I did. I was recently single for the first time since High School and determined to stay so for a while, so I took up new things, like guitar. Because it’s SO ORIGINAL to take up guitar in your early twenties… 

And since I was an accomplished guitar player after two weeks of lessons I joined a “blog-ring” called “Christian Guitar Players. If the shoe fits… 

Then one night after a late night at the pizza parlor I started clicking through the other xanga-folk who were accomplished, Jesus-loving guitar players such as myself.

Click… Read a post… leave a comment…repeat….

Then I came across this guy from Oklahoma, he seemed cool. The deep sort of cool… he’d written a post about church and his Dad’s battle with brain cancer, so I left him a comment:

“Hi, I got your weblog through a random click of the mouse.. I completely agree with your thoughts about what church is and isn’t… blessings to your family.”

He wrote back the next day via a comment on my blog: “Hey, I just started reading your xanga… you seem like a person that I could really get to know and converse with… I’ll be keeping up with you… ~laterz~”

And those are the first exchanges of our relationship.

Then we didn’t talk for months because in those six months he was offline and burying his Father after a heart-wrenching battle with brain cancer.

Honestly I forgot about him, it was one comment after all!

Then the following fall he was back and commenting on nearly everything I wrote. I had to go back and check… “is that the guy from June?”

Yep. It was that guy.

So we started commenting on each other’s posts, a lot.
Then we starting chatting on AIM (including a definition of AIM & feeling old)
Then we started emailing each other at our yahoo email addresses.

Then one night he typed something along the lines of “I bet you have an accent.”
I informed him strongly that I was a blank canvas, I had the lack of an accent.
Gauntlets were thrown and a phone call was made.
Me: “Hey, this is Leanne…” (dear God what was I thinking, calling a crazy internet boy?!)
Kel: “I know, you have an accent.”

Insert my laughing, protesting and generally feeling giggly and awkward before hanging up a few minutes later.

Weeks passed full of emailing and time spent on AIM.

Then one night I was up late watching a movie, a romantic comedy where everyone was screwing each other over on purpose and I started to cry. No one really loves each other anymore! They’re just in it for what they can get! This love thing is pointless, I may was well give up.  It was Intolerable Cruelty, I think.  

I went to check the computer, in that day I was using the shared family computer. No smart phones, no laptops, just me hogging the computer late at night, probably with ice cream.

Kellasatou, that was his handle, was online so I told him I was feeling bummed out and about to go to bed.

He asked if I wanted to talk about it, one the phone, I said sure but it was no big deal.

Then he told me I’d have to wait twenty minutes while he drove to work to get his cell phone, where he’d left it.

I told him no way was he fussing over my emotional evening and to stay put at home and chat on AIM or let me go to bed.

He signed off with a wink and a “call you in a few.”

I don’t like people fussing over me, except deep down I love it. Anyone else feel this way? 

But he wanted to fuss. Over me. Which hadn’t happened in a while. He wanted me to know that he cared enough about my bad night to drive to work, dig his cell phone out of a couch, and spend some time talking, making time.

I wouldn’t say this is when “I knew,” but he certainly had my attention.

(to be continued, because it takes a while to tell this sort of story)
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, user ciranob

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The Romance of Zooming out

It was at a busy Christmas party when my Grandpa handed me the white envelope containing their Christmas card. I opened it the following morning over coffee and lost my breath. I still do when I see it on the fridge.

It’s two pictures, nestled side by side, one labeled 1949 and taken after their wedding, and one taken in 2013 taken on a wooden chair in their condo.

63 years of marriage… and counting.

GrandpaGrandma

In the first picture they’re all black and white smiles, arms around in each other in long dark dress coats. My Grandmother is wearing a sort of pillbox hat with a pearl pin cheated slightly to the right.

In the second picture they’re sitting on a chair in the corner, her on his lap, both clad in Calvin College sweatshirts, likely on their way to my cousin’s basketball game.

I’m not sure I own anything else that brings as much perspective as this Christmas card.

63 years, 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren with one on the way.

All of us

These days I fly around the house upset over messes, worried about taxes, obsessing over buying a new house and ranting over the scarcity of time. Wishing that different things defined my day.

Zoom Out

My grandparents have 56 years of marriage on Kel and my 7.

In 56 years I surely won’t even remember this tax season and if I don’t get my act together it’s likely I’ll regret my bad attitude toward mess and time. Maybe I’ll even see it mirrored in the lives of my own children.

In 56 years 2014 will likely be reduced to just a few memories, flashes and photographs that managed to survive the years and somehow get off my iphone.

In 56 years (I pray) it will be Kel and I in sweatshirts reflecting on a lifetime of memories that may likely be trying to escape around the edges of our eighty-eight year old minds.

Whatever we’re doing this year is building a legacy, it does matter, it is seeds that will surely blossom into fruit we won’t see this side of heaven.

Yet then again, it’s just taxes.
It’s just laundry.
It’s just writing.
It’s just a car repair.
It’s just a new house, a place to do the good work of living well and on purpose.

When you zoom out suddenly you realize that there is a lot more romance in the sweet right now. Because at a distance you’re not in the fray of minutia, you’re on an epic journey, you’re dancing a dance that means so much more than anything that could possibly be getting you down in the moment.

There is deep romance form this perspective, you’re in-between photographs weaving a tapestry that will not leave the world unchanged with it’s richness.

There are markers in life that change the trajectory of things, there are defining moments… but so often it’s just life, it’s the small sustaining stuff, the pixels that compose a bigger picture.

So often those pixels seem like all there is but if you can breathe the romantic practice of zooming out, of remembering who you are and what’s really going on.

Then suddenly you become not the woman freaking out about taxes, but the maybe-someday matriarch doing the good and true work of building a family, sustaining a generation.

Giving life to something that will sustain deep familial love… always and forever inviting the world in.

“Come see, Come share, Come acquaint yourself with the source of love and sustainer of life.”

Zoom out

Remember who you are and what you’re doing. You’re the bride and you’re the matriarch in the middle of the story, a romance that is composed of small things that will not leave the world unchanged, guaranteed.

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When mutuality turns to selfishness turns to a chance at true love

I’m going to try to write through something that is so very much still in progress so bear with my until the end, agreed?

I’m in the midst of becoming better at marriage, the hard way. Or at least the pinching, uncomfortable way… which describes most life lessons that I’ve gone through.

Kel and I believe in mutuality (definition here) when it comes to marriage, which means that we both submit to each other equally, to each other’s hopes and dreams and work and passion and time.

All of it.

holding-hands

Over the last few years with this concept, I’ve experienced a shift when it comes to what I believe about gender equality and marriage. And it’s set me free, it’s made sense of the gospel in a way that the old teaching never did.

But here’s the sucky part… there is a chance that I took it a step too far. There’s a chance that I’ve tipped the scales of mutual submission in my favor and straight on into selfishness.

Because mutual submission only works when you’re both submitting mutually and I’m beginning to suspect that in my marriage it’s been more Kel than I. I say that with a lump in my throat and fourteen tons of shame.

Yet, there it is.
Some people might use this as ammo for why mutuality doesn’t work, to them I say, read on…

When I look back on my thoughts, words and actions I’m coming to realize that there’s been a lot of blame shifting, finger pointing and “I’m not getting mine-ing.”

And this isn’t love, and it’s not mutual submission. In fact it’s become a power struggle in a way that marriage was never meant to be. It’s hell to be involved in a relationship where you both feel like you’re playing a game of tug of war for time and importance.

It’s exhausting and unsustainable.

A few weeks back I very seriously considered giving up writing, quitting my job with Young Life and no longer pursuing speaking stuff. Simply put it seemed easier to shrink, to give up the ghost that keeps me at this keyboard, to move into other things, simpler things.

It just seemed easier than figuring out what both AND looked like for our marriage in this season.

Kel didn’t want that, he recognized that this is who I am, that it’s one of this biggest ways in which God is redeeming my story, but I did. It seemed easier to stop trying to make it work to stop seeking out the balance and just give up.

But that’s not God’s plan for me, for our family.

It takes me back to the days in which Kel and I were falling in love over the phone, I had every intention of going to seminary alongside him and we’d regularly joke and dream about tag team preaching and doing ministry together.

Wherever God leads us, together side by side. That was the dream.

And you know what? It still is. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you quit. That flies in the face of every inspirational poster ever sold at Staples so it can’t be true.

No, it’s not about my giving up writing, but it is about me giving more. Putting others before myself and getting out of the rhythm where I’m constantly griping about not having enough time for myself.

It’s about getting back to gratitude, because gratitude is everything

It is about prayer, I need God to lead me to a better place of love and encouragement.

It is about asking for a heaping portion of gentleness and bravery.

It is about putting Kel before me and trusting that he’ll do the same.

It is about scheduling, because when time is on your side… you win.

It is about an inner paradigm shift.

But it’s not about my becoming smaller
It’s not about giving up
It’s not about throwing away the dream
It’s not about putting my marriage farther down the list

It’s about being a part of something in which you both say: “I want you to go through this life free, called and fully alive in a way that only Christ can invite you to.”

Some people say faith is a childish game
Play on, children, like it’s Christmas day
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Live Forever (go, listen, love)

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32 things I’ve figured out in my 32 years.

Monday was my 32nd birthday and for the most part we spent it snowed in and entertaining kids. It wasn’t fancy but Kel did everything he could possibly do to make it special, including gluten free french toast and a total takeover of my Facebook page.

He hacked my Facebook page and asked my friends and family to share thoughts or memories of me and it was over and above the best part of the day.

It’s fascinating learning about yourself through other people’s memories of you.  People chimed in from every stage of my life reaching all the way back to elementary school and it made me feel whole.

I saw the continuity of myself, the seeds that were planted in 3rd grade tell the story of the person I am today. Someone who is comfortable being honest and unique, who loves words and apparently has and will always love musicals and movie soundtracks.

Seeing the story of yourself told through the eyes of those you who love you is an amazing gift and to all who chimed in, thank you.

So that being said I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on the things I’ve learned along the way.  So here they are:

32lessons

32 lessons learned in 32 years of life.

1) The moment you think you don’t need to pack a spare diaper, tampon, or hand sanitizer is the exact moment you should turn around and get it, because? Life is mean like that.

2) Eat real food made from real, understandable ingredients. It tastes better and it’s what your body was designed for.

3) Having kids is exhausting and it takes everything you have, and more, much more.  Then, in a surprise instant it gives you more than it ever took. I say this with a 6 inch scar across my abdomen.

4) Most things are better with a good playlist. Listen to good music, I use and adore Spotify.   

5) If you wash your makeup brushes regularly you’ll get less zits. True story. You can do it using baby shampoo, it’s not hard. 

6) Going somewhere? Bring a book, you’ll end up waiting and will enjoy it more than mindless phone surfing.

7) If you’re feeling small or less than worthy, get off the internet. Often it’s the compare / contrast that has you feeling scattered. (I get paid to do social media and currently don’t have facebook or twitter on my phone for this very reason)

8) Take more baths, they’re good for your nervous system and your soul.

9) Discipline sounds constricting, but usually it just frees you up to live a deeper, healthier, happier life.  Sounds backwards, but it’s not.

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10) Having company? Don’t freak out about the house. Set the timer for 10 minutes, do what you can, then pour wine and remember that your friends love you just as you are.

11) If you’re ready to explode, take a walk.  There is something about moving and nature that resets the crazy, it’s probably even science.

12) There is more than one way to do everything: This includes parenting, marriage, eating, working, everything. Judge not.

13) It’s easy to get wrapped up in who is not noticing you but it’s far better to love and tend to those who are. It brings with it contentment and depth.

14) Hot breakfasts change lives.

15) Gratitude fixes nearly all internal struggles. There’s this stat that says that one week of daily, intentional gratitude affects the next three months of your mental health and outlook.

16) Celebrate things. Buy champagne, toast the milestones, write on and save the corks.

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17) “I’m sorry” is one of the hardest and most important tools you have. I know, I KNOW it’s hard, but do it anyway.

18)  Try to stop worrying about other people’s bad habits and choices. You can only change you.

19) You will never regret a night of going to bed early with a book.

20) Learn this phrase: “I’m not in charge and it’s wonderful.”

21) Go to therapy as needed, maybe more. No shame, NO SHAME, we all need mental tune ups or complete overhauls at times.

22) Potty training is not a litmus test for good parenting. They won’t go to college in diapers. Stop listening to whoever is making you feel like a failure in the diaper aisle.

Read Books

23) Don’t feel guilty over reading more novels than non-fiction. Stories change lives as effectively as “how-to” books.

24) Reconciliation isn’t easy but it’s worth it to go to long haul with people.  This being said some people will walk out of your life and you can’t fix it, for this I suggest a good cry and maybe some ice cream. (refer to 18)

25) Laughter is a salve for so many wounds, especially in marriage.

26) It is no small thing to get to know yourself, it’s hard and worth it.  I recommend this sorter to find out your MBTI temperament. 

27) Avoid “When I’m a _____, I’ll never ______” statements.  They’re judgey and often times they just make you feel silly later.

28) Your concept of home will change as you get older, this is really scary but also natural.

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29) Give your children your time and attention before they start demanding it in the wrong ways. I schedule kid time before I schedule work from home, it’s like making a deposit in their love tanks.

30) In this DIY world it’s tempting to do ALL THE THINGS.  Pick some things that you just don’t do, I’ve learned this the hard way.

31) As often as you can take 100 things to Goodwill or the equivalent.  Less really IS more. I promise.

32) Embrace your age but never, ever stop allowing the wonder of this wide world to stop you dead in your tracks like a child at Disney world.

What would you add?  Come on chime in, consider my birthday present. 

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The Hands and Feet of Jesus are kind of Hairy (to me)

I rush around the kitchen. As I reach for bowls and plates, my chest tightens.  With every scream, nitpick or fight my children’s breakfast interactions grate on me as my adrenaline increases, like a slow burn.

Finally, one more: “Mom, I don’t wike dis food and I don’t wike dis pwate!”

And I’m done. I run off to the bedroom to scribble some notes on the cognitive distortions worksheet my therapist gave the previous day.

Because there isn’t a cell in my body that isn’t determined to unlearn the rhythms I use to survive, but there isn’t a chance I can stay another moment in the fray, fragile as I am.

When I return, all apologies I see him counting out twenties from our grocery / gas money stash, his lips moving as he does mental math. He walks around the table, into the kitchen where he holds me and presses two twenty dollar bills in my hand.

“One for Gas, One for you blow on whatever. When’s the last time you just had some time off? Not to work or produce. Just go be you.  I saw the your to do list and I’ve got it, I’ll get Noelle to school and I’ll clean the sinks and toilets. When you come home, dinner will be done. Just go baby, I got this.”

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He is the number two reason I will beat this thing, this anxiety, these inner lies.

He is my partner, supporter and very best friend. I didn’t know how deep love could go until I married Kel and every year?  It gets better.

He’s the one whispering God’s truth by proxy.

To me? The hands and feet of Jesus so often look like Kel’s hands and feet: strong, broad and kinda hairy.   Continue reading

Day 6- The Good Parts of Parting

 

photo copyI’m not very secretive about the fact that I don’t like our current schedule, with Kel gone 2-3 days every weekend.

I’m actually a pretty big whiner about it.

Yet, if I’m a real, true, silver lining hunter, I must confess that there is one great thing that has come out of it all: the missing each other and subsequent flirty texting. 

When Kel leaves, we go into iPhone communication overload, voxing, texting and love noting each other until he comes home again, exhausted and emptied of his energy and best self.

And when he does?  He’s home for me, for us, to be truly himself at home, tired and strong in his weaknesses.

Because when we leave our home base to pour ourselves out to the world, we don’t always return with a lot left.

There’s a sweet grace learned in the rhythm of supporting each other’s passions, you learn that after the phases of selfishness, in the midst of the hard and the whining, you really do believe in each other.

It makes you want to ensure that your home is a place of haven, respite and comfort.  A place where you can return to be loved instead of bettered or battered.

Where you can come home empty and find yourself loved as is, even when you can’t take up all the slack you’ve recently abandoned.

There is an intense sweetness in realizing that you miss someone, because the fiber of your home is incomplete without them.

Not because they’re accomplishing something or meeting lofty expectations.

Because they belong with you, and every homecoming is worth a celebration.

I have a Aunt and friend, who makes a welcome home sign for any member of her family when they return from a trip.  No matter how small, they come home to a welcome sign, at least as far as I’ve seen.

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I want to be that sort of home, where you belong regardless of what you’re able to produce.

Where you are loved and celebrated as you are.

And if there is one thing that has come from the non-ideal rhythm of here, it is that I love my husband for who he is, not what he does, but because we belong together.

Also because when he’s gone I end up eating cookies and wine for dinner.  

Seven year journey (Kel and Leanne “The marriage”)

Anniversary Collage

please enjoy 7 years of us and don’t forget to note Kel’s beard-timeline and my ever changing hair color.

Seven years love, seven!  Can you believe it?

Seven years since “Kel and Leanne THE WEDDING” or as our friends called it “The Pool Party.”  (due to my obsession with our main wedding color: bright aqua.)

Seven years of figuring each other out, falling deeper in love, falling apart and then somehow, with God’s grace, coming back together again and again.

And the once more… for good measure.

2 babies, 10 jobs, 3 states, 6 homes, 8 desks (don’t ask), 4 cars and 1 really annoying cat later…. here we are love, we’ve made it this far.

Still in love, still fighting and fighting for it even in the midst of an uphill year.

Our “move back to Michigan” gamble has stretched us farther than we’d hoped, but through it we’re reaching new heights together. Think of all the faith we’d lose or the wisdom we’d never have gained had this year gone the easy route.

But it didn’t and it’s been a blend of bittersweet chaos.

Monday, on our “actual anniversary” we found ourselves in pajamas on the couch after a hard weekend of general discord.

So we did our best by sharing a pizza and laughing at the obvious jokes in “The Avengers.”  Because we know when we’ve been beat AND we’ve really come to terms with how nerdy we are.  All we need now is a few bow ties and a TARDIS cookie jar and we should be set.  

In seven years we’ve learned that marriage isn’t always easy, and that it takes effort to allow the hard times to bring you together rather than apart.

I’ve learned about your deep need for encouragement and you’ve figured out that many of my worst days can diffused by sending me to take a bath.

Last night we gave celebration another go and met up for dinner at Public in Zeeland, sharing bacon wrapped dates and reminiscing on the journey behind us… and speculating on that one laid out ahead. Continue reading