Tumblrs, you are the right people for this job. I am helping plan the women’s retreat for our church. Trying to find some games that haven’t been totally done to death. I want to play one that I call “In Other Words”, where we take the titles of movies, books and songs with a maritime theme (theme for the weekend is “Anchor For My Soul.”) and then swap them for synonyms and see if the ladies can guess what the are.

Example: Liberating William…the answer would be Free Willy.

Get it?

Your turn.

We need well-known/classics with a maritime theme so everyone can play.
You can give me just titles or if you enjoy a challenge and have a little time on your hands, you can swap them as well!

Any takers?
You guys are the best.

Is there anyway to block someone from following your blog? Some of these things that pop up following me…I’m rather dubious, and I would rather they not follow me.

I swear there was a “block” button before but I can’t find it now.

I know…I’m like a 90 year old. Who let me on the internet?

I’m thinking about changing the name of my blog to something that more aptly describes my life these days.

Because honestly, what we are headed toward is not even in the same country as simplicity.

I think wholeftthisraisinonthebathroomfloor  has a nice ring to it, don’t you?

The 6 Year Old started referring to breasts as “jumbaloes”, probably when he was 4 or 5 years old. This has become a family-favorite term.

However, the 3 Year Old just referred to them as “High-tops”.

Suddenly, a new contender.

I awake with your alarm, which rarely happens. Years of staying at home have made me immune to it but this morning I watch you sit up and stretch. This morning is one of the mornings you go to the homeless shelter to make breakfast for the residents. Even though you normally wake up around 5am or so for your 45 minute commute, on these mornings you get up at an unholy time. Hours I wouldn’t even know existed if it weren’t for early morning flights or bouts of insomnia.

You turn and put your arm around me and say that you might as well pray with me now so you don’t have to wake me up again and that is the epitome of you, of who you are. Blessing me and almost apologizing for it. You pray that God will bless our day and help us to bless those around us. In your case, it is already true.

How do you keep on, day after day? How do you not grow weary of blessing me, of this family? 

This summer, after the stroke, I watched you pick up this family and its well-being and strap it to your back with seemingly minimal effort. I worried about you. I worried how long you could keep doing both of our jobs. Even though the summer is your time to be at home, I knew the weight this all added to your shoulders. I knew you worried about me and what the impact would be and how long it would last and if it would happen again and I watched you make dinner and hold The Little one and I knew there must be such strain on you. But you made it seem effortless. As though you did it every day.

And even as we continue on, in search of answers for this…whatever it is that plagues me and zaps my energy in waves and leaves me feeling like a Familiar Stranger, you never complain. New Doctors and new treatments and herbs and supplements and you never complain. Money leaves this house faster than we can understand. You tell me you just want me to be well and if this is the answer, than it will all be worth it.

Can I say that I try for you? For our family? I want to be well again. I want to be the ‘Us’ we started out as. Before I ran out of steam. 

At Christmas, I catch a glimpse of us again, of who we are when I am well. We cook together and dance close in the kitchen and laugh so much, like we used to. And I absolutely absorb this time as I remember this version of us. The happy version of us who seemed to always be laughing. 

It isn’t at all that we aren’t happy. Just also tired, worn down. But I would still say that I am happy. Maybe you wouldn’t know that. I know I complain and grouch and say incredibly mean things ("You swept out here? It looks like one of the kids did it!) And you just laugh at me and shake your head and soon I am laughing too, marveling at just how ridiculous I can be. 

How do I deserve you? How did God line us up and measure us and find that we were the perfect match? Because it feels as though (at least these days) I barely bring anything to the table at all.

You tell me that I am beautiful and even as I approach 40 and I feel every day of it, you make it clear that you still find me beautiful.

And when we talk about how my hair is in such horrible shape and something needs to be done and you remind me of the last time and how I cried and I tell you this is different. My hair is falling out and breaking off (more of this mystery) and it lies there limp on my head and I need to do something with it. And I know you love my long hair. But you say you understand.

And when I come home and it’s so short and I feel like a soccer mom with baby bangs and you say I look beautiful and I cannot see any evidence to the contrary on your face. I believe you. Even though I feel ridiculous. Like a bear in a tutu.

How do you do that?

Sometimes, when you call to me from the bedroom and ask me where such-and-such is and I yell back at you and shake my head and wonder what you would ever do if I died. How would you survive without me?

But then the truth speaks clearly in my brain: How would I survive without him?

When we travel, I always hand my ticket and passport to you. I know I will lose them otherwise. I am like a child. I have maybe taken the garbage out 2 times in these past 14 years, mowed the lawn about the same amount of times. I don’t even know how to start or work the snow blower. So many times you have taken over various projects for me when you knew that I didn’t have it in me to finish.

You are the Charles to my (shabby) Caroline. 

At our family’s favorite BBQ restaurant, we decide to sit outside on the patio on the last of the warm fall days. I automatically take the kids out side to sit down and let you take care of ordering. I know you have it down to a science. When the server comes out to bring us our drinks, she tells me I have a good thing going and she nods to you. She tells me that her husband would have plopped down at the table and made her take care of the kids and the food (as I have done). She reminds me that I am blessed. At first, I am annoyed. Does she think I always sit around and let you do all the work? Does she think I am lazy? But I gently remind myself: yes, I work hard, too. But that doesn’t mean that I am not blessed by you and what a good father and husband you are. And I puff with pride by the fact that someone else sees how good I have it. How you take care of me - of us all.

Almost 15 years ago, I knew I loved you. You were what I had never known: selfless love, unconditional love. You never leave the room angry. You never let me go to bed angry. I never feel like you withdraw your love from me when we disagree. And I wonder at this, too. Who lives like this? Who doesn’t let their loved ones feel their wrath from time to time? To let their anger sit and glow like hot coals which may turn to flame at any second but which usually go out without incidence. This is what I have always known.

But you do not operate this way. So it takes me some time to learn the rules.

There are no rules with you. At least not for silly games of ignoring or pretending there is nothing wrong when there clearly is. 

Your rules are simple:

We will always kiss good night.

We will always pray in the morning.

We will never go to bed angry.

We will love each other forever.

I know you aren’t perfect. You get crabby,too. You leave your dirty socks in little piles by our bedroom door. Your love of sports baffles my mind. You have two speeds: Go, Go, Go and sleep. No matter what I cook/bake you always suggest the same thing: put chocolate chips on it.

But oh, your children and I see you as a Saint. Shouldn’t that make it so?

Even though I don’t usually hold with New Years Resolutions, this year I have one. It is this: to be the wife that you deserve, old self return or not. To love you the way that God intended, to lavish on you the same encouragement and praise you give to me.  

I love you, My Love.

Played 341 times


Yesterday, it occurred to me (Like the arrival of a telegram or the sound of a landline ringing. Something unexpected and distant and foreign and yet, still wholly comprehensible.) that I might be coming back to life.

This weekend, I spent days painting our bedroom. Three different colors between four walls and trim. Spent days carefully unspooling blue tape in two different grades of tackiness and sealing each seam with dirty, long nails I have willingly neglected. Spent afternoons tediously trimming and evenings rolling in a soft, splattering purr and nights sleeping on the couch with Chris, tangled up like dogs. I’ve wandered into some new phase, where action and projects are salvation. The solitary work of transforming a bedroom or kneading pasta dough by hand. Pushing and pushing and pushing out cracks like waves and waiting to mine some cold smoothness. I keep wondering if I am doing something wrong. If the quiet meditation of work is a euphemism for hiding. If I ought not to be feeling slowly, shyly better.  But I am.

The past month or so has been fairly surreal. I didn’t journal or write anything much about it and I wonder, twenty years from now, what I will remember. From here, it feels like stitches. So black and sewn through me I could never not know it all. But maybe even this will crumble and blur in time. On Christmas Eve, we went to a little church in Ohio for a candlelight service and a family friend hugged me rough as a car crash and whispered against my hair, “Sometimes I think we mammas who come to it hard make the best mothers of all.” Which made me cry and surely isn’t wholly true (look at my own dear sister) but I needed a handhold so I stole that away and think of her and the ferocity of the tribe of women who have been here. I think of how grateful I am for that. I don’t think I’ll ever forget what it has meant.

I’ve started thinking too of the friends who sent flowers, who acknowledged so reverently this trapdoor flying open and pulling us through. The friends and family who held our hands while we napped and offered escapes and texts and emails and no solutions at all. Who bought us soft pajamas and nursed us with Korean food. The perfect, gentle friends who sat quietly with us and ached and said we are “yours in grief and rage.” The strangers and tumblrs who emailed, who said Me Too. I’m in this with you. Or, I don’t know what this is like at all, but I am bent by your grief and feeling it with you.

How did we get lucky enough to be nested like this? How did you know to wrap around us and swaddle us and lift us up so well? Thank you. (and once more, because two words are so insufficient: Thank you, I will always be indebted and connected to you for your gentleness and tireless arms.)

All around, now, the world burns down and lights up in ways that have nothing to do with us or our own sad winter. For the longest weeks, I was curled into a dirt hole. Face pressed to hands pressed to soil, wondering if God can hear prayers from underground, thinking maybe that is a good enough reason not to pray.

And now…we are still outside the city, maybe just watching the fireworks from a hilltop. But I am watching again. I am just now noticing and remembering. Dear friends whose marriages are swaying and near to collapsing. (Imagine that loss, remember that loss. Remember the nauseous disbelief, and ache for them). Weary friends, sick friends, lost parents and little boys, jobs lost, people chasing or being chased by their own brutal windmills of life. Jubilant friends and new parents and new authors and new friends.

It’s not about us and it all still beats on. It’s this: Hardships didn’t stop elsewhere just because we had one. And neither, I have to admit, did joy.

I’m trying on the idea that it might be time for me to come back.

Time for me to remember that we have a tribe to take care of too. Time for me to get up and spare the bed for the next more mortally wounded comrade. And even to rejoice with the people we love. Even that.

The bedroom is almost done and it’s not perfect, but it is cherished. There are streaks of white paint on dirty windows behind the curtains and I need to remember to buy razor blades but every day, I just keep on forgetting. Even at 6:00 am in the almost dark, you can see a rumor of the too bright color and it makes me smile. We chose this. I did this. We can do this.

I feel less angry now, can you believe that? Maybe it is temporary. But I think I’m going to step forward anyway rather than wait here to find out.

There is no doubt that you are the most beautiful, tender, fiercely-loving mother this world will ever know. 

(Reblogged from beenthinking)
I think hope is not simply looking around and saying that everything’s great – that’s just ridiculous. For hope to have substance, it has to acknowledge the pain. But hope is saying that’s not the final story. It’s not saying pain doesn’t exist, but it’s saying there’s not a period at the end of that sentence. It’s still being written.

Tim Foreman (via tellthemtorememberhope)

Loving this

(via hannahcompton)

Beautiful. And so true.

(Reblogged from themomentsbetween)


How poor digestive health may be responsible for auto-immune disorders.

This is hopeful news!

So I’m a bit under the weather today. The worse thing about being a sick adult is having to suck it up and go on about your day as normal, like nothing is wrong.*

*Since I never, under any circumstances, actually do this (I’m a huuuge fan of sick days) then I guess the next worst thing about being a sick adult is not having anyone else around to take care of you. I mean, kids will get you the occasional glass of water and toss a “Pooooor Momma” at you (if you moan and whine enough) but…they rarely make dinner. Or let me watch the documentary on Netflix about the simple life in the taiga of Siberia.

That’s death-bed stuff, right?

I just asked…dinner’s still not made. And I don’t hear any dinner-like noise coming from that area.

Remember when Gilbert hired a helper for Anne? Susan, right? That’s what I need, an elderly woman to insist she do the the bulk of the work. Someone with whom to drink coffee in the afternoon and chat about the affairs of the village. Someone who will call me ‘Mrs. Dr-Dear’ (or Mrs Coach-Dear…that has a certain ring, right?)

Where is my Susan? Also, where is the money with which to hire My Susan?

Done whining now. I’ll go back to moaning and groaning. And checking on the status of dinner.

(Also, I’m toooootally kidding…my kiddos are the best.)

This place has potential. I’m considering buying it, fixing the windmill and re-opening it as “Don Quixote’s Green Tavern”. I will probably put a fence on top, put down sod and let goats graze up there during the week. Except on Friday nights. Friday nights we will stage scenes from “Man of La Mancha” from the roof and cheese curd baskets will be $1.99. Obviously.