6/28/16 Don’t Fight Fair



I always thought that the phrase “fight fair” was kind of stupid actually.  Instantly I think of the ridiculous pre-colonial “gentlemen’s war” rules of etiquette that dictated soldiers stand in rows and take turns firing.  As if anything could be more obtuse than standing before one another just waiting for a shot to come.  I much preferred Bruce Lee’s perspective, “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”  The only problem with that mentality is – it works, and when it works, you can’t exactly take anything back. 

I don’t fight often, but when I do I wouldn’t say I nobly wait for a comment to come cutting my way.  I have a long memory and my wit compromises my words in magnetic negativity.  As Lev Grossman once wrote, “In a way, fighting was just like using magic. You said the words, and they altered the universe.  By merely speaking you could create damage and pain, cause tears to fall, drive people away, make yourself feel better, make your life worse.”  And at the end of it all … whatever it is I’m fighting for or about, let’s be honest – it is rarely for a noble cause. 

As painful as it is to admit, most of my arguments are without true merit or intention.  They are the aftermath of a crummy day, resulting in a radioactive bad mood that permeates everything within the vicinity of me.  My husband and I were recently discussing this, and though we are rarely upset with one another, we do tend to give one another the brunt of our “left-over” day.  I am sorry for this, and yet it is a reactive pattern that forms whenever something disgruntles to the point of “letting it out,” by “taking it out” on whoever is nearest – and he always is.   

Peter Wentz said, “The silence is the worst part of any fight, because it’s made up of all the things we wish we could say, if only we had the guts.”  Well, unfortunately, I have to disagree … because I think in these pointed comments I say too much.  I remember too much.  I call forth memories like armor and use them to dispel any logical repartee that might be sound. 

This week, our pastor spoke about the power of forgiveness, and reminded us that it is not only our words that argue, but our actions.  A roll of the eyes.  Shunning a hug.  Vacant responses. And I was convicted at just how unfair I fought after all.  Like I said before, I’m not much into arguing.  I’m not a pot-stirrer; I don’t enjoy battles, and yet even in the here and there, infrequent times, I succumb.  And in those moments my words are effectively lethal in killing a mood, or ruining an intention.

There are things to call forth justice to, but my petty disagreements are not one of them, and I need to find a way to settle myself into a pattern of silence when confronted with my own disagreeable mood.  Just like having an umbrella over my head won’t protect me from sideways rain … fights aren’t ever fair, not really, no matter what key phrases or memories I cover myself in.  So from now on, though I’ll be imperfect at it I’m sure, I will try to at least think a little more about what is really worth fighting for, and trying my humanly best to forgive the rest.  I guess it’s time to turn the battle inward, and follow the thoughts of Stephanie Lennox, “I’ve been fighting to be who I am all my life. What’s the point of being who I am, if I can’t have the person who was worth all the fighting for?”  

Don’t fight fair, fight for something.


6.22.16 Vulner-Ability



“Don’t talk – don’t say a thing, because your eyes they tell me more, than your words.  Don’t go, don’t leave me now, because they say the best way out, is through.” – The Fray

I hate when people tell me they’re fine.  If I know you as more than a simple acquaintance, I’d go so far as to say it offends me a little, because no one’s ever just “fine.” I realize that sometimes we are in places that we aren’t ready to talk about, but then say that.  Say I’m not okay right now, but I will be soon, and we can talk then.  My mom is excellent at transparency and I love this about her.  Having lost her brother in December and a good friend only last month, she openly admits when sorrow takes her, but admonishes the darkness with a follow up telling me, “I’m sad right now, but I don’t wanna leave you sorrowful because I promise I won’t stay there long.”

I realize it is not realistic to expect such vulnerability with strangers, but can you imagine what it would do to the social fabric of the world if people were just a little more authentic with their emotions?  I can picture the decay of feigned strength with people being honest.  Pride, which often gets in the way of healing, would absolutely crumble.  Saying I’m not fine … I’m missing my brother, my friend, my spouse, myself?  Admonition is a powerful cure.

I think it not unintentional that the word “vulnerability” ends with the word “ability.” It truly is an ability to be able to share what and who and how you are for real … and from where I stand, the world needs practice.  Because if we were real, just a little bit more, I think it would give humanity the opportunity to practice being humane. 

Today is the anniversary of the day my husband lost his cousin growing up.  He was only eighteen when he passed, and though it is decades later, the memory of this wonderful life remains.  And I have to commend his mother who shared her raw emotions with details that fractured the banality of words like “fine.” She shared what she remembered about the experience of this day, all those years ago stating, “I didn’t cry, but all of me found its way to the tiniest space somewhere in me that I go when I am beyond devastated.”  Then remembered a detail in funeral preparations that completely fractured me, “We needed to buy dress shoes … boys don’t have dress shoes in the summer.”  In reading her words I simply HAD to write, I had to thank her for the beautiful example of brokenness she allowed us all to see, well past time and still yearning for her baby.  I cry, quite literally in gratitude for her openness and the ability she gave all those who read her words to practice compassion, and to love her boy, for a moment, through her memory.

We are called to be there for one another.  That’s what this life is about … being there.  Walking with.  Crying with.  Laughing with.  And repeating the cycle again.  If you’re not fine, don’t be.  If you are, share the blessing of your joy.  Whatever you are, be real so that others have the chance to really meet you in that moment, and potentially carry you through.

All my love,


6.15.16 Our Season



“When I say I won’t tell anyone, my sister doesn’t count.” -someecards.com

I love summer for the same reasons that everyone loves summer.  I love the no-alarm- clock mornings, and the way-too-late-but-still-awake evenings.  I love the breakfasts for dinner (because why not?) and cold pizza for breakfast (why not again?).  I love that there is a time of year when everyone feels just a little bit younger, and tend (therefore) to bend and loosen the rules we usually place around our lives so snugly.  Summer is a time not only to relax, but relive a little bit of all those memories that taught us why summer was so great in the first place.

Summer used to be a time for scraped knees, swimming, and sunburns.  As I grew up, it was a time of friends, fireflies, and firsts.  More recently, as the circle continues to spin, it is a time of swim-shorts and little belly bikinis, goggles that only come in too-tight or too-loose sizes, and birthday parties galore.  While all of these things are true … when I think summer, the first thing I think of is my sister.


Living about six states away, depending on the route, my big sister is entirely too far away most of the time.  Growing up, I did not anticipate that we would have “seasons,” but for better or worse, we do – and summer is our season. Early in June, either she comes here or I go there, and we bring our entourage of little self-reflections.  Still, the greatest reflection, the closest to my own, is that of my sister.  We don’t do anything special, and that is entirely what makes it so.  Because my sister listens to me the way no one else ever possibly could.  She listens with history of who I was then, and who I am now.  She hears both what I say, and what I leave out.  She can decipher the subtle cadences of my sarcasm or my sincerity.

With her I do not have to try at all.  I can just be.

Do you know what a relief it is to have someone like that?  Like her?  I wish her for all of you, but selfishly I would give not an ounce of her away.  I covet my time so much so that I rarely even answer my phone when she is here.  Who could I possibly have time to talk to when we are so busy doing nothing at all?  We eat too much, share too much, laugh too much, don’t sleep enough, and all is as it should be in the world … when I’ve got her here to take care of bringing my spirit back to where it needs to be – beside hers.


P.S. We were both in this picture, but she looked better than me … so yeah, I did what any logical sister would do and cut myself out!

Go love your sister, biological or gifted to you from the world.



6.8.16 Sweet, but Messy



Someone once said, “Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions … chocolate understands.” I am pretty sure this is the most accurate thing I’ve heard lately, because I personally experienced just how intently chocolate “gets it” the other day!  The end of the school year was a barrage of lovely expectations mixed with an inordinate amount of time to accomplish half of what you set out to do.  From end-of-the-year-gifts, to final projects, to swim lesson sign ups (which I still haven’t done and they start Monday) … it is just too much!

This year, my amazing sister, whom I would spend every waking moment with if it was my choice, is visiting from NC early.  That means, that we had girl’s night early.  I wasn’t even finished with the school year, but one weekend away, we chose to do our thing and hang out with a group of our good friends anyway.  In between our air conditioning breaking, our front brakes needing replacement on one car, our battery dying in the other car, and my son’s soccer tryouts being rescheduled due to the rain … I was just a little bit late for our date.  Needless to say, the chocolate I’d decided to bring was more than a little bit melty.  Those Ghirardelli squares might look solid, but they were as squishy as a stress ball.  But you know what?  Chocolate does understand, because they were still delicious.  Just like life, melted chocolate is sweet, but messy!

This morning marked my first official day of summer, and I’d fully intended to wake up slow, read a little, write a little, and do a crap-ton of laundry.  Instead, I woke with a wrath-like Noah’s Ark moment, looking at the absolutely trashed house around me thinking, “That’s it!  I’m getting rid of everything and we’re just starting over!”  There were half-clean, half-folded, half-started but not finished basketfuls of clothes; there were half-drawn masterpieces scattered about with pencil tips and markers barely capped; there were blankets and pillows left-over from my husband’s one night love affair with soccer as the U.S. dominated Costa Rica; there were black tumbleweeds of fur littered about from our over-heated, hundred pound hairy baby; there were dishes, and crumbs, and toothpaste stains, and … and … and … ! After a bit of frazzled, harried, manic tendencies of picking up and purging, I eventually lost steam and decided that what we really needed was to leave the house!  Thank God lunch with a friend and a farmer’s market were all it took to bring me back to a balanced sense of reality.  Rest assured, our house is clean now, and I (though very, very tempted) did not in fact rid the world of our belongings.

If you’ll excuse me … I’m going to go eat something sweet, and more than likely – melted.

Here’s to summer!



5.31.16 For Everyone Who Ever Loved Henry



When I was a little girl,  my aunt had this beautiful picture in her house.  I remember telling her how much I loved it each and every time we came over.  Fast forward twenty-years, and I’m at my baby shower.  Imagine my shocked surprise when I opened the picture. “When I found out you were having a son,” she said, “I just knew I had to give it to you.” All these eight years, we’ve kept the picture … and I’ve admired it for the memory … for the nostalgia … and for the likeness of my own baby boy who is already quite grown.

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie

I believe in this formidable love, because I’ve felt it.  Every time my son or daughter make me laugh, every time they make me cry, every time I am blessed by their presence alone – I feel it like a tangible string tugging between my heart and theirs.  Sometimes, as they grow, that line seems to stretch incredibly taught as I feel them stretching into their own sense of self and purpose in this world, and instinct draws me to follow them, but life gently reminds me they need to find their own way. The love I feel as a mother makes me believe more than I ever was able before, that love never fails … and a friend of mine recently reminded me, it also never ends.

The first day I met my friend Spring, I was delighted by her gentle spirit and pure heart. She giggled openly, she didn’t shelter or hold back genuine interest in our conversation, and she shared her life stories without the careful filter most people apply.  She was real … and it was refreshing.  Having only known her for a couple of months, I almost forgot – almost but not quite, just what she would be dealing with very soon.  Sure enough, it happened last week.  Spring sent out a prayer request for strength because it was going to be a tough day.  I instantly flashed back to that first day, and that first conversation. Because like any unassuming stranger, I’d made small talk, and asked what people our age asked, “Do you have any kids?”  She remarked that they had one boy, and his name was Henry – was.

One year ago, Spring uncovered her own definition of mother’s love.  And I imagine it was something like Uma Thurman’s description that said, “Before I had my child, I thought I knew all the boundaries of myself, that I understood the limits of my heart. It’s extraordinary to have all those limits thrown out, to realize your love is inexhaustible.” But where Spring is concerned, her love also needed to become ethereal, and the string that tethers her heart to her son’s needs to stretch from heaven to earth. Henry was born with a defect in his diaphragm which caused internal complications too large for his tiny, perfect heart to handle.

And my own heart, at this story, was anguished.  As I witnessed happy birthday wishes to their little prince, I struggled to even know what to say.  Even as a writer, what words can you offer that bring any semblance of peace? I found none. But suddenly … I remembered that picture, from all those years ago.  I wondered if it might be time to pass it on, if it could offer any comfort at all.  So I did.  And I hope that in the frozen embrace she can: feel the tiny hand that held hers ever-so-briefly, imagine the way his perfect head rested on her shoulder, picture the divine moment when she gets to hold him once again.  Sometimes, the love of God is fierce, so much so that it overpowers even a mother’s love.  And in that unquenchable moment of love, God chooses to not let go, because that child is just too special, too gentle, and too endeared to be gone from heaven so long.

I know this, and yet my mother’s heart breaks for her, and for everyone who ever loved Henry.

Please pray with me today,