Our Marriage Needs A Prefix.

 

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Last night I told my husband that I miss him. And he nodded in agreement as he sat beside me.

We are together a lot. But our moments of non-distracted, non-exhausted, non-sick, non-stressed, non-necessary, non-rushed, non-interrupted communication are slim. We need those little nons in our marriage. But they’re elusive little prefixes.

We strive to have non-distracted conversations, but the texts and the emails and the demands keep breaking our concentration. Not to mention our kids.

We desire to talk about non-necessary topics, but there are needs and fires to be put out before we can intentionally try to fan into flame our love for one another.

We want to give each other our non-exhausted selves. But, we can’t seem to find them.

We need the nons in our marriage.

But adding that prefix takes work.

And it should. Life moves forward after the wedding day and so should our relationship. It should grow and blossom instead of wilting. But it takes effort to remember to care for it in the midst of dizzying schedules and bursting calendars.

The daily, “What time should I plan dinner?”,and, “Did you remember we have that thing tomorrow evening? Did you find a sitter?” questions cause us to put a finger in the leaking dam and leave us in a bind the next time we hear, “Babe, can you give me a hand here?”

The days of long uninterrupted dinners and fun filled dates are taken over by quick, “How was your day?” volleys and conversations squeezed in while sitting in the bleachers.

You have to make an effort to add those nons. And that looks like many different things.

Some days you make your kids gag as you kiss in the kitchen. Other days you put a movie in for them and you finish that difficult conversation that’s been driving a wedge between you. Some days you splurge on a nice dinner for two after they’re all in bed, and you tuck your phones away in another room too. Some days you go out to a movie neither of you really care to see just so that you can sit beside each other and hold hands.

And some days you simply acknowledge to each other that you miss the nons. Both of you do. That you’re striving to find them and you believe in each other and miss each other in the meantime. That the effort to find the nons is a small price to pay for the love of your life. You’re a team in the hunt.

Marriage. It sometimes needs a prefix.

And together, we’re going to work to add it.

Non-stop.

The Visible Woman

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Her real name is Susan Storm Richards, but most know her better by her alias: The Invisible Woman.

According to Marvel Comic’s website, this member of the Fantastic Four has powers that allow her to “render herself wholly or partially invisible at will.”

This could be handy. There are moments when I’d enjoy being invisible. It would be interesting to hear what others say about me when I walk out of a room and perhaps more fun to reek havoc on friends and family members by appearing at will when they least expect me!

But if I’m being honest, I don’t really wish to be invisible. In fact, being invisible can be a disadvantage.

As a women, wife, mother, and human I can attest that there are times that I feel invisible… but it doesn’t strike me as a super power. Instead, it stings as a frustration.

There are times when my perspective vanishes and I allow my attitude to get out of line. When this happens, I feel like I’m the Invisible Woman. I work hard all day and yet it’s not noticed or recognized by anyone. The tasks I do need to be repeated again and again and my wheels spin in a thankless, exhausting rut. It feels like no one sees what I’m doing or cares about the mundane, but necessary tasks of life that I must accomplish… unless I don’t accomplish something that they want, and then suddenly I’m seen. I feel as if then I’m only seen as a failure.

Am I really invisible? Does no one care? Can anyone take the time to stop for a moment to see me and meet my needs, for once?

I’ve lost sight of the truth about God’s love.

I think a servant girl from the Old Testament can relate. In fact, she was the original Invisible Woman, although Marvel doesn’t acknowledge her on their website.

Hagar was the maidservant of Sarai. Sarai was the barren wife of Abraham who so desperately wanted a child she gave her maidservant to her husband hoping to produce a child through their union. Hagar was a means to an end. She was used. She was not seen as valuable for who she was, only for what she could produce. Once Hagar did, in fact, get pregnant with Abraham’s child she was mistreated by Sarai and despised. Then she ran away.

Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. (Genesis 16:6-9)

The angel of Lord proceeded to give Hagar a prophecy about her unborn son. He spoke to this maidservant. He not only saw this seemingly invisible woman, He also knew her circumstances and spoke directly to her.

Hagar’s response?

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me. (Genesis 16:13)

For the first recorded time in the Old Testament, God is addressed at El Roi; “The God who sees me.” Hagar finally felt as if someone cared for and saw her.

How great is God’s love for each and every one. While we become consumed with our lives, our selves, and our tasks, we lose sight of the truth about God’s powerful love.

But His love requires obedience on our end too. God told Hagar to go back to her mistress and submit to her. It may sound harsh, but by doing so God was giving her a way to be cared for and for his prophecy to be carried out to completion. I love how this command is worded in the Young’s Literal Translation.

Turn back unto thy mistress, and humble thyself under her hands;

God offered Hagar His great mercy and love. She just had to humble herself to receive it.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;

Because of the Lord’s great love. Not because we’ve worked so hard. Not because we are superwomen. Not because of anything we have done. But because of the Lord’s great love.

We don’t have the super power. He does.

I’m not invisible. El Roi sees me. He knows me. He made me. He cares about me. He loves me.

I simply need to humble myself under His merciful and loving hands. By obeying God’s Word and trusting in His never failing compassions I regain my focus on the Truth.

I become The Visible Woman, with the power “to render myself wholly valuable and unconditionally loved by the God who see me.”

Take that, Susan Storm Richards!

Today’s Bucket List.

When my kids were little we owned a toy that I liked… yet didn’t.

It was educational, so that earned it some points, but it also was comprised of several pieces, for which I had to deduct some points in the clean-up category. Had it played a song and used eight “C” batteries it would have earned a negative score (also known as the garage sale pile) but it was fairly quiet and simple so it stuck around for awhile.

You didn’t know toy delineation was so complicated, did you?

Don’t even get me started on Furby.

Anyhow, this toy was simply a yellow bucket with a blue lid. The lid had various shaped holes in it and inside the bucket were colorful plastic shapes that matched the holes.

Yes, you know what I’m describing.

We’ve all seen these toys in various versions.

 

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There was the ball shaped one (technically, it was a decahedron. I really learned my shapes. And I know how to use Google) that had little yellow handles you pulled on like an accordion and then shook the thing so all the shape pieces would fall out (and one would always get stuck). There are pink buckets, and blue ones. I’m sure Bob the Builder has a variation out there. It’s a classic toy.

Basically, it was the original Tetris game without the pressure.

The thing about this toy was that each evening when I did the clean-up rounds, I would find the little shapes all over the family room. Some evenings I’d pick them up and gently drop them into their respective holes and listen to the satisfying plastic rattling sound as they landed in the yellow bucket.

Other days I was in too much of a rush. Forget finding the corresponding shape holes. I’d rip off the blue lid, throw the shapes into the bucket (and possibly other small toys, puzzle pieces, or Cheetos that I had also found on the floor) and be done with it. I didn’t have time to put things through their proper channels. I didn’t have time to do the job with excellence, I just wanted to get it done. Shove the lid on that thing and stick it on the shelf.

The last month or so as we’ve tried to find the pace of our “fall routine,” I have returned to my “rip the lid off” ways. I haven’t actually been picking up little plastic shapes, but I’ve been helping with homework, folding laundry, teaching a class at church, grocery shopping, working, having family fun nights, emailing coworkers, attending meetings, having meaningful conversations with my husband (he especially loves the long emotional talks…), making dinner, and thinking about how nice it would be to actually exercise. Kraig and the kids have been busy and trying to figure out their school and workload too.

It’s been a “I stressed, you stressed, we all scream for ice cream” kind of month.

Our to-do lists are seemingly scattered all over the floor.

The pieces are varied in shape and size.

I would LOVE to nicely and neatly drop our to-dos onto our calendar and hear the pretty rattling sound. I want to be organized and see all the pieces fit beautifully where they belong. Yet, this deliberate placement of my time and efforts has so far eluded me. Right now we’re just going for “in the bucket.” Let’s get stuff done however we can and eventually we’ll hit our groove, figure out our pace, and drop the shapes into the holes like the game is supposed to be played.

Either way, we’re getting things done. It’s not pretty. There are a few Cheetos mixed in with our activities and agendas. That’s okay.

The lid comes off of the bucket for a reason.

We all need a little help sometimes. We all need to cut ourselves some slack.

I still know what a triangle is and where to put the star. I’ll get there eventually as we move into this busy season.

But for now I’m good with taking the lid off.

That’s today’s bucket list.

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Photo from fisherprice.com 

 

Temporarily derailed.

I walked through my kitchen this week and the sight I beheld across the room into my family room caused me to stop dead in my tracks. My body’s physical reaction is difficult to put into words. It was mixture of nauseous and weakness along with a heightend sense of adrenaline.

Cue the emotional and dreadful music.

Hold your breath.

Wait for it.

Thomas and Friends was on my tv. My 6th grade son was laying on the couch covered in a blanket and staring at the screen.

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Granted, this may not sound like your typical horror scene. I don’t think the little blue train with the happy talking face has been a villain in many settings. He and his colorful train friends are actually quite cute and sweet.

But it’s not them, it’s me. I associate those talking trains with something else. Something painful. Something sad.

The same lanky preteen boy who now lays on the couch fighting pneumonia was once a toddler diagnosed with leukemia. We spent over three years watching this boy get chemo treatments and we lived in isolation. Our most frequent companions were the colorful trains from Thomas and Friends. James, Percy, Gordon, Thomas, Edward… I can still quote many of their friendly British lines.

But it has been over six years since our son finished chemo and he is now a happy and cancer-free middle schooler. He’s active in sports, does his homework, and rarely sits still.

That is until this week when he caught a nasty virus that decided to settle in his left lung and cause him to miss several days of school. It’s pneumonia, but it’s not cancer. It’s “one of those things” that he probably caught from the germ smorgasbord known as public school. It is unrelated to the cancer. It is going to be okay.

But as I walked through the kitchen and saw him sick on the couch not caring enough or possessing the energy to change the channel when Thomas and Friends came on PBS, I stopped and took notice.

Not this again. Please!

After I caught my breath, I took a picture on my smartphone and texted it to my husband. He understood its meaning without much explanation.

“This makes me sick too,” he replied. “But remember how far we have come and that this is not our norm anymore.”

Yes. Another quote I want to commit to memory.

This is not our norm anymore. Time has passed. Change has come.

Our son is healthy. Our God and brilliant doctors helped to heal him.

It took me a few minutes to calm my heart rate and sooth my nerves, but the moment and the perspective I gained have stayed with me.

Sometimes, remembering where you’ve been brings gratitude.

Sometimes, seeing how far you’ve come brings hope.

Sometimes a little blue talking train can remind you that healing does in fact come with the passing of time.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where writers are encouraged to write on a topic for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: HEAL

 

Our Reality (TV). 

  
We are not exactly “camera ready” people. We’re far from glamorous. Very far. We’re just a regular, plain, run-of-the-mill family. 

 But we’re willing. 

And it appears that’s almost as good. 

Willing to tell our story and then simply showing up when we’re called. We’ve tried to make that our practice. 

Recently we were asked to share about our son, Karson’s, battle with leukemia. How he is a survivor, and the amazing research being done that has helped make this our version of reality TV. 

The camera man and reporter met us outside on a 90 degree day. I started to melt from the heat and could feel sweat rolling down my back before we even began the interview. My husband, Kraig, had driven straight from an appointment with our eye doctor where he’d had his pupils dilated. After being asked to remove his sunglasses for the filming, Kraig squinted his way through the next hour and we laughed at his expense. I got emotional about the topic as I answered the reporter’s questions with honesty and openness. This all made for a less than perfect shoot. 

But that doesn’t really matter. 

What matters is that we were able to share our story.

That maybe another family out there who is currently in the trenches, watching their child fight a serious illness, will see a glimmer of hope. 

That maybe some more attention will be given to pediatric cancer research. 

That maybe someone will feel a little less alone in their struggle.

That maybe gratitude will trump the pain. 

That maybe this will be the boost someone else needs to share their own story. 

That maybe willingness and showing up is even better than perfection and glamour, after all. 

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Here’s the link to the news story: 

Where I Want To Be.

My left hand rested on the top of the steering wheel freeing my other hand to hold the warm travel coffee mug. Through the speakers the morning weatherman projected a mix of sun and storms. Seemed about right. A new front was moving in.

Late August meant the seasons were about to change. Summer was bowing out and preparing to yield to the beauty of a Midwestern fall.

One season coming to an end and another on the verge of emerging, not only on the calendar, but also in my life.

I couldn’t get the parallel out of my mind as I headed south from my Indiana home toward Music City. According to my iPhone, I had over six hours of driving before I reached my hotel in Nashville.

Before I even left my hometown city limits, I passed the hospital with the sprawling campus that sits beside the highway. I swallowed hard. It was at that very place my three babies entered this world. Twelve years before today’s road trip the oldest had arrived, a week late, proclaiming that I no longer possessed the same control over my schedule or emotions. I had quit my job and stayed home with that baby boy. I stayed up nursing and rocking him and watching infomercials in the middle of the night. I changed him and helped him learn to walk and eat solid foods. It was an exhausting season, but it was where I wanted to be.

Two years later, when that little boy was diagnosed with cancer, I spent hours upon hours in that same sprawling hospital watching his body receive chemotherapy and blood transfusions from strangers. I cried tears of agony and snuggled beside him in the hospital bed. It was a seemingly impossible task of motherhood. And though I never would have chosen the leukemia for him, walking beside my son through the healing was where I wanted to be.

Within a few years, two more precious babies had arrived. Sisters, less than two years apart. Three kids under six and a now healthy boy starting Kindergarten. The days were long and messy. Exhausting and delightful. I did much caring and loving and teaching and helping. I put in the pigtails and the hair bows. I dressed the baby dolls and learned the names of all the wooden trains. I lost sleep and found joy in the mundane. It was where I wanted to be.

Home full-time with three kids for more than a decade. It had been difficult and blissful wrapped up in a bow. It had been a gift. The life I’d always dreamed about and was so blessed to be given by a supportive husband. It was the path I’d always wanted to walk.

But now the path is changing.

The winds of a new season are picking up speed and blowing strong emotions through my heart.

My youngest child climbed the bus steps for the very first time just last week. Her little blonde head barely visible through the bus window as she headed off to Kindergarten and I ventured into a new stage of life.

They’re not babies anymore.

They’re in middle school and happy elementary classrooms filled with friends and caterpillars and great learning curves.

The season of being home full-time with little ones is over. The trail has narrowed.

A few tears threatened to spill out of my eyes and were making it difficult to see the road ahead. I blinked them away and remembered once again. I was blessed to walk a path I’d dreamed would one day lie in front of me. It hadn’t been an easy stroll, but it had been a gift.

And now the terrain is taking on a new look.

I’m still a mommy. But during the day my nest is empty and my focus has changed. I am sad that the preschools years are over, but I have no doubt the next season will be just as beautiful, but in a different way than the one before it. Just because the trail has narrowed, doesn’t mean there is not still beauty all around me.

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The road this day was leading to a writing conference in Nashville, Tennessee where I’d be learning and growing as a writer, as well as pitching a book proposal to two literary agents and an editor. I was so excited about the potential and my dreams, that I could barely fall asleep the night before.

And as the hospital campus faded away in my rearview mirror I smiled to myself.

The seasons were changing. The path was narrowing. But it was where I wanted to be.

I could look ahead with anticipation and an obedient heart to what God would lay before me. I was confident in this because I have sought Him as my trail guide. He knows the path. And He will gently lead me in the days ahead.

I loved the season of baby toes and onesies. Though painful, I was faithful through chemo drugs, steroid rage, and scary trips to the ER. I did the Kindergarten round-ups and registrations and back-to-school shopping. I found the green vinyl folder with the two pockets and three metal fasteners.

And I will treasure those moments for as long as I live.

I had the honor and privilege of being home with my children. But the preschool years are now behind me.

The highway is leading to new places, and adventures, and trials, and rejections, and hopes, and thrills.

I set my cruise control, turned up the radio and sang along with the music of the day.

The trail narrows. It’s time.

And with my eyes on my Trail Guide, I can trust that the journey ahead will be another beautiful gift. It’s where I want to be.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write about a topic based on a one-word prompt. We are a challenged to write for about 5 minutes. This week I cheated. Gasp! I had already written this essay, but had not posted it yet. I used my FMF time to edit and tweak this post to work with this week’s word: PATH. I’m sorry! I hope you’ll forgive me!😉

5 Outsider Observations about the 2016 ACFW Conference

Here’s the deal. I write non-fiction. For those of you who slept through Language Arts, or are accountants, that means I write about things based on facts, real events, and real people. Fiction writers, on the other hand, write about things that are imagined, though they may be portrayed in such a way they feel like reality. Like one who comes across a group of children painting a fence and expects to find Tom Sawyer among them.

I don’t know a lot about writing fiction. That’s why it comes as such a surprise (to myself included) that I attended a fiction writer’s conference this weekend. No seriously, I’m not making this up. I’m a non-fiction writer, remember. I stick with the facts.

I just returned from Nashville, Tennessee where I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference.

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With over 550 in attendance who specialize in literary categories such as fantasy, sci-fi, romance, young adult suspense, historical drama, or crime thriller, I was really a fish out of genre.

During the countless introductions between myself and other writers, the same question would be posed. “What do you write?”

“Non-fiction.” I’d respond with a smile. And then they’d all look at me as if I had two heads. The sci-fi people were mentally writing my character into their next book.

Then they’d slowly and sweetly say, “You know you’re at a fiction writers conference, right?”

Yes. Yes. I knew. And I’d explain how I got there. That I am friends with an amazing Christian fiction writer, Colleen Coble, who lives near my hometown and who has been ever so gracious to help mentor me as I dream of a writing career. I’d relay that Colleen taught me that whether writing the truth or the imagined, the craft of storytelling is much the same. That she believed I would learn a lot from the conference teachers, and that she knew that the many agents and editors in attendance work with both fiction and non-fiction writers.

This would all make perfect sense to the fiction writers. Colleen is basically a rock-star in their books (figuratively, not literally). She has published over fifty books and is the CEO of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association (ACFW). If Colleen says it, even fiction writers know it’s as good as truth. I had a golden ticket in my mentor and friend.

But, I already knew that.

So once we writers got past the initial shock of my presence, we would have the most wonderful conversations. We’d talk about each other’s books, dreams, and families. We’d laugh and shake our heads at the amazing room full of talent. I was so impressed with their creativity and kindness.

I admit there were a few moments when genre explanations would cause my eyes to grow wide. Like the woman who told me she wrote “paranormal romance without the erotica.” I guess I just wasn’t expecting that phrase to come out of her mouth and it took a while for the little Plinko chip in my brain to bounce off the pegs and settle into the slot of acceptance. But it turns out she was very sweet and became a friend that promised to keep in touch. I hope she gets a good wifi signal on her spaceship.

And so as I now sit at home in my favorite recliner and mentally debrief the past few days I thought I’d make a few observations as an “outsider.” Sometimes those are the most enlightening because of the fresh perspective. So without further ado, I give you:

5 Outsider Observations about the 2016 ACFW Conference

1. The agent and editor appointments are serious business. (Like, sweaty palms and shaky leg serious.) But they are amazing opportunities.

Attendees are given a very special piece of paper when you check in on day one and this sheet tells you who you are meeting with and when. At your appointment you have 15 minutes to pitch a book proposal to an agent or editor. 15 minutes. No more. Time keepers come to the door and cut you off. They may or may not be trained in judo.

Before your appointment you prepare and you practice and you put on more deodorant. And then it’s your time. Your time slot has been called. You have been chosen like one of the little green aliens grabbed by the big claw in Toy Story and you rise from your chair and walk down the hall. You sit across from your potential dream-come-true-maker and you say stuff. Hopefully it sounds better than that last sentence.

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I pitched twice on Saturday to two different literary agents. It turns out they are not nearly as scary as I feared. They smiled at me and even made some small talk. I took some deep breaths and we got through it together. I appreciated their gracious feedback and will look forward to following up with their advice. All in all, these appointments are a GREAT opportunity the ACFW conference presents. Attendees should not miss this chance!

9 out of 10 editors agree.

2. Literary agents, editors, and successful published authors are real people too.

Contrary to popular belief, these skilled professionals put their pants on one leg at a time. (I didn’t actually witness this, but it’s what they tell me.) The first night of the conference I sat for two hours and listened to two different panels of literary agents answer questions about pitching, proposals, and publishing. There were 13 total agents and I could have told you 11 of their names and partial bios before they were introduced. Listen. I’m not a stalker. I just use the internet. I’ve been reading these people’s blogs and tweets for months and I respect them greatly. I was a little star struck seeing them in real life. (Oh my gosh! Chip MacGregor just looked my way!)

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These agents and their fellow laborers, the editors and successful published authors, are just like me. Only they actually make money in the writing business. But seriously, they are so humble, funny, kind and gracious and they are at the conference to discover new talent and to help writers! These professionals WANT to help and know HOW. It’s a great two-for-one.

3. Writers are nice.

I don’t know what I expected, but I thought maybe there would be at least an undertone of competiveness among the conference attendees. I was wrong. Instead, everyone I met was my new friend and cheerleader. We prayed for each other, swapped ideas and advice for pitches, gave hugs, and dealt each other drugs (ibuprofen) for stress headaches. We swapped business cards and handed out compliments. One woman gave me a piece of chocolate. It felt like a cozy home away from home in that huge air conditioned banquet room. And that’s saying something.

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4. Lighted magnifying mirrors in the hotel bathrooms are not a great tool to utilize for face scrutiny before a meeting with an agent or editor. You just saw freckles and pores you didn’t know existed. You didn’t need to see that. Enough said.

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5. The “C” in ACFW stands for Christian, and they ain’t joking.

Each day we were led in a time of worship. The vocalists and musicians that led were wonderful, not just in talent, but in leadership. They didn’t make it about them, they made it about God. The songs and worship times glorified the One who is more creative than any room full of story creators. The focus was on Him. My voice caught in my throat one day as I glanced around the room and saw men and women, old and young, with all colors of hair, skin, and clothing raising hands and worshiping the Almighty God. No book contract could ever bring a sweeter collaboration.

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The shock is wearing off. I went to a fiction writing conference.

Did I get home after midnight and have to drive almost seven hours each way by myself? Yes. Did I drink enough caffeine the past three days to damage my kidneys? Maybe. Did my brain cry out for sweet relief after feeling as if one more bullet point would cause it to burst. You know it. Did the valet parking fee use up my eat-out budget for a few weeks. Dang it.

Was it worth it all?

Absolutely.

And you can trust me. I’m a non-fiction writer.

Mullets and Web Widgets.

I got my hair cut on Friday but didn’t expect anyone to notice.

It was one of those trims that was healthy for the removal of split ends and getting bangs out of my eyes, but was not meant to change my “look.” I would have been surprised if anyone did comment on the trim. Especially my husband, who struggles to notice the big style changes. But, that’s another blog post.

This week my website got a makeover. And it was more than a little trim. I feel like it went from long, flowing locks to a pixie cut, or something like that. What I’m trying to say is, my website has a new look. I hope you don’t think it’s a mullet.

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The new updates include:

  • A new tagline

    Stories. Truth. Hope. 
    I wanted to choose words that summarize what I write about and why. I’m a storyteller. That’s just my style. And I tell true stories and not fiction, so “truth” seemed to be an appropriate word. I also love to point to what I believe to be Truth- God’s Word. And ultimately, whether I’m writing about parenting a child with cancer, getting through a mundane day as a mom, struggling through life transitions,  faith, or just some goofy story that just makes us all laugh, I want to hold out hope to my readers.

  • New pages in the menu

    I have now included pages explaining who I am (About Christy), why I’m called a “cancer mom,” why I wrote Bible curriculum, and the details of some of my other writing and speaking.

  • New photos

    I’m not going to lie. My husband took my headshot photo here at home. It’s not what you would call “professionally done.” I made him take approximately 78 photos before I found one I liked. He thought they all looked identical in the first place. Anyway, you get the idea of what I look like. We’re not planning to open a Glamour Shots studio anytime soon.

  • Well placed web widgets

    The word “widget” is not in my everyday vocabulary. But sometimes you’ve gotta say what you’ve gotta say. Case in point, we found ourselves running late to meet up with some friends this weekend because I was trying to fix a feature on my website. This involved customizing a web widget. When I gave this as an excuse for why we were running late they looked at me as a dog would when hearing a high-pitched whistle. Their heads tilted slightly and they looked confused/annoyed. Nonetheless, my web widgets are customized making it easier for you to receive an email each time I post a new blog. All you need to do is add your email address under the header photo where it says “Follow this blog.” Clearly, a web widget win.

What stayed the same?

  • My blog, Ten Blue Eyes, is still there! Same name, different look.

 

Again, I’d be honored if you’d consider following me by adding your email address under the header photo. Thanks so much! (PS- if you’re reading this in an email it means you already are following me. You’re on the ball!)

 

Just like they say. “Major website makeover. No split ends.”

 

 

Together.

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The five of us knelt by the couch in our family room. Our hair was blonder and our skin more tan than three months before when summer began. Now it was the night before school started back in session. The eve of routine and alarm clocks.

My husband asked if I’d be the one to pray aloud for the family as we prepared for the next morning and new season of life. I agreed, but took a deep breath first as the thoughts of all the transitions to come filled my mind.

Our oldest child would be heading to middle school in the morning at a somewhat ungodly hour. Many days he’ll leave before the sun comes up. He had practiced his locker combination and reviewed his new schedule sufficiently, yet it felt like the unknowns still trumped our preparation.

Our middle child was off to second grade, where reading skills and independence increase at a surprising but encouraging rate. She’s turning into a little lady right before my eyes.

And the biggest transition that was looming over me and causing my shoulders to be tense with dreaded anticipation was sending our youngest child to Kindergarten. After twelve years of staying home full-time with my children, I felt a sadness about my impending empty day-time nest.

Finally I began to pray aloud. My voice quivered a few times as thanked God for His goodness and the gift of a wonderful summer. I had to swallow several times and clear my throat as I asked Him to guide our children this school year and to give them each the two things I most often request on their  behalf: wisdom and courage.

Wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it. 

As I said “Amen” my son glanced my way to verify his suspicion that I was holding back the tears. I shrugged and made small talk about getting up to bed. Transitions are hard enough for the kids without them realizing Mommy is about to melt.

Before they got their last drinks of water for the evening and headed up the steps we gathered in a circle and put our hands together. We were as ready as we could be to face the newness.

Now five days later with a week of school under our belts we’ve dealt with a few highs and lows. We’ve rejoiced about sitting next to best friends and eating really good middle school cafeteria lunches (really?). We’ve also had sobbing at the bus stop wishing for more days at home with Mommy. My heart and neck muscles have been wrenched even further. We’ve had excitement over new opportunities to play in the school band, and disappointment for getting scolding for taking too many grapes in the 2nd grade lunch line. Oh, the grapes of wrath!

But we have each other still.

We’ve got each other’s back and we’ve wiped each other’s tears. We’ve delivered forgotten items to the school and slapped each other on the back with joy over new successes.

And so dear family, my favorite home team, here’s to a great school year and to acceptance of all the transitions that comes our way.

May we have the wisdom to know how to live well, and courage to make it happen!


This post is linked up with the Five Minute Friday blogging community. Each Friday a one-word prompt is given here and bloggers are challenged to write for about five minutes about whatever come to mind based on the word. This weeks’ word: TEAM

 

 

Island Issues.

My dad called me earlier this summer and sent me on a mission. He was out of town and afraid Costco would sell out of a large raft he’d seen and he thought we needed it for our upcoming lake vacation.

Operation vacation floatation accepted.

And then I stood frozen in the aisle at Costco. I stared at the box that contained the said raft and dialed Dad’s number. Actually, I shouldn’t use the word raft. The thing comfortably seats seven adults and boasts six cup holders. It may be visible from space.

“You know this thing is ginormous, right?” I said into my phone with raised eyebrows as I tried to figure out how to lift the box into my shopping cart.

“Yes, it will be fun. Just grab it. I’ll pay you back.”

Never mind the story of how I got it into my van with only my six-year-old’s assistance, and how we blew it up and got it into the water and anchored at the lake.

Bottom line: we’ve got our own island now. Zip code not included.

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But here’s the problem. There’s no good way to get on this thing. No ladder. No handles. No flight attendant holding out her hand for assistance.

My process to board the island resembles a walrus rolling onto shore, only not nearly as graceful.

One time my son, who was already on the island, offered his assistance. He pulled me up and our momentum continued until I knocked us both over and landed on top of him.

“Are you okay?” I asked once I found which way was up.

“Yeah, you didn’t hurt me, you just held my head under water for awhile.”

Oh, that’s all. Glad it wasn’t more serious.

The kids are the most successful at boarding the island, but teenagers and grandmas alike have had some serious island arrival issues. We’ve laughed at each other and cheered our successes. Sometimes we tell others to look away so as to save some embarrassment. Other times we own the hilarity.

And as in life on dry land, it helps to know we’re not alone in the struggle.

Sometimes we help each other by offering a hand. Other times we make life better by laughing together at our failures and encouraging each other to try again. Sometimes we take each other down in our desire to be a team, and sometimes we lift each other up in triumph.

But we’re in this life full of struggle together. It’s a lot better that way.

No man is a floating island.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are invited to write for about five minutes about a topic after being given a one-word prompt.

This week’s word: HELP