10 February 2014

I believe ... :: #1

"I believe" is a little series I'm trying out in order to affirm those every day beauties, miracles, and simple loveliness that is easy for me to overlook.

* * * * *

I believe I've never regretted putting down my phone or closing the computer in order to play with my kid.

I believe in getting dressed and making an effort with my appearance even if I have no plans of leaving the house. I also believe in staying in lounge pants all day long and choosing a nap or a mini "Castle" marathon over a shower.

I'm pretty sure my daughter's laughter is the best palliative for life I know of.

I believe in coffee. And chocolate.

I believe in sitting down, taking a deep breath, taking it all in, and being really thankful.

29 January 2014

Coming back.

I promised myself months ago, before the fireworks burst and fur-clad celebrities announced our transition from 2013 to 2014 in Times Square, that I was going to write again. And here we are at the end of January, these being my first words to be pounded out -- my first attempts at putting anything "out there."

Having a small child at home provides a ready excuse for avoidance, as well as the unending cycles of laundry and dishwasher loading and emptying and picking up bristle blocks and flashcards off of the floor.

I call it an "excuse" because it is. I consider motherhood and keeping the house running to be my first and most important work, but it isn't my only work. Writing is my work, too. And I've been running away from it as surely as Jonah ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction when God told him where to go, what to do.

I've been so afraid. I can see clearly how silly this is sometimes, but when I access a readily available catalog of blogging memories, I remember that the fear, however silly or wrong or restrictive and binding it may be, is not without reason.

When I first started blogging, I met new friends and reconnected with others. I made soul connections in what, at the time, felt like the most improbable way. Across geographic distances that would have made meeting any other way impossible, we had meaningful conversations. The internet felt like a great cozy living room or your favorite coffee shop -- the one with knobby wood floors, eclectic furniture, and tattooed baristas.

Somewhere in the course of my tenure as a blogger, my experience changed. While I maintained those meaningful connections, those cozy conversations with kindred friends, there were also those I could have done without. The critical stranger's voices, those that were only too happy to criticize and cut down, to lambaste and state assumptions about me as fact. Anonymous comments were cyber hit-and-runs, hateful words left without a face or name.

It didn't take much of this for the cozy living room to become a distant memory. The internet had come to feel more like a Roman arena where thousands of spectators crowded in and pressed forward, cheering as the victims du jour were ripped limb from bloody limb by the lions, the crowd cheering More, more. Please pass the popcorn.

I wanted no part of it.

I may share someday what has prompted my return. It's enough now to say that, for a thousand reasons, I know it's the right thing. I still see the arena and lions and crowd of spectators, and I still feel trepidation at volunteering myself like this. But I'm choosing not to let it chain me anymore. I've let loose the shackles, rubbing wrists that are reddened and raw and out of practice at doing this thing.

It's time to write again.


P.S. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary wrote about this recently, too and I may have shouted AMEN and fist-pumped at the end of it.

13 September 2013

storm & sun

Emotional hangover. That's what I call this.

Austen wakes in the wee hours, before we see the first hints of sunlight creep through the bedroom shades. I leave her room, hardly able to keep my eyes open. But when I return to bed, pull the sheets and the comforter up to my chin, releasing the sigh that means I'm settling in, sleep still doesn't come.

My Dad had a heart attack on Monday. A hundred and one little miracles later, and he's still with us.

If just one little thing had gone differently that day ...

But it didn't. It didn't, I remind myself, attempting to avoid long, imaginative trips into a nightmarish might-have-been. It is what it is (sedation, wait-and-see, we don't know yet), but those short forays into the hypothetical nightmare remind me to fall on my knees thankful for this limbo.

And here I am, over three thousand miles away. I could do no more were that geographical gap closed, and yet the knowledge that he's far away in a hospital bed has me searching airfares, considering any and all means of traversing the distance between us.

I fell apart last night, thinking of how I want him to get better, of how I wanted him to wake up so I could hear the laugh that I could identify blindfolded out of a thousand laughs in a crowded room. I thought of how the last thing I talked to him about was our malfunctioning fridge, leaking water all over our kitchen floor. Did I tell him I loved him before I hung up?

So it's early, and these tears prick, this lump hurts my throat. Driving home yesterday, I saw dark and ominous storm clouds on the horizon and right in the midst of them, those illuminated by the sun, shafts of light boldly piercing through the spaces between the bulbous tufts of white.

Yes, I thought. This is what this is: the storm and the sunlight, all in the same view.

* * * * *

Updates on Dad's recovery HERE

22 August 2012

The Sisterhood

I'm lying on an old homemade quilt on a bed in a room that isn't mine. It feels cool against my arms and bare feet. I can almost feel my cells seeping into its fibers. The flannel pillow case carries the scent of its surroundings. It is soft and worn, having carried its dreamer through many nights. Light filters through the reds and greens from the stained glass on the opposite wall.

I need sleep, but I can't close my eyes. I hear the clink of a handful of silverware against silverware in the nearby kitchen, the clattering ring of dishes against each other. I hear the sizzle and pop of cooking things, the snap of dry noodles about to be dropped into a pot of boiling water.

I hear the voices of friends, and laughter. I hear them entertaining the babies.

The ceiling fan over me spins steadily over my head, the blades sending down rhythmic blasts of cool air from the white ceiling. The whirring sounds to me like a drone of bees. As it whirs and hums, I consider: I'm tired, but sleep won't come. The time we have together is already slipping through our fingers.

I prop myself up on the bed, looking across the room. I see myself reflected over the prescription bottles, the dark glass jar encasing the candle that isn't burning. My body is ravenous for rest, but my soul is hungrier for them, their company, their conversation: these sisters spread out on a map, living on geographical points that refuse to touch.

I am getting up.

23 May 2012


23 May 2009
Photo by Jen Fox Photography

People meeting us for the first time think of us very much as "newlyweds" when we share how long we've been married.

Three years.

(Feels more like forty-three. But in a good way.)

"Oh, you're still in that honeymoon phase," we often hear.

Ha. That's kinda funny.

It may have been "only" three years, but it included James' prolonged and unintentional unemployment (close to two years), a fairly major religious shift, the birth of our first child and his death, a cross-country move, a separation of three months and several thousand miles while I was fresh into a second pregnancy (and all the throwing up that attended it), packing up our apartment, and leaving the job I had been at for over eleven years, and then there was the birth of our second child.

What honeymoon phase?

23 May 2012
A lot has happened in 3 years.

It's not a contest and I suppose it really doesn't matter whether someone else thinks of us as a pair of blissed out "newlyweds" who know little of life's travails. When I look over my shoulder at the three years between that day and this one, I'm pretty darn sure that James and Kirsten are going to make it, holding hands, loving and in love as ever.

Photo by Jen Fox Photography

Happy anniversary to my love. Knowing what I know, I would say "yes" all over again.