May All That Is Broken Be Healed

Eight years ago.

Right now, actually.

Weekend nights in an emergency room are supposed to be busy, but all I remember is how I arrived to a hush. I don’t even think I waited, walking right up to the desk and spilling my trepidation.

“I’m 13 weeks pregnant and I have a doppler at home and even though I can usually find the baby’s heartbeat, I can’t find it tonight and I’m sure everything’s probably fine but I just need to be sure because I’ve never not been able to find the heartbeat.”

I think they took me back right away–me, Tahd, and Gabe. Why we’d brought our 5-year-old to the hospital in the middle of the night makes no sense to me now. But there we were, three anxious souls a little bit (or a lot) battered from years of unfulfilled dreams.

“Your labor is not in vain
Though the ground underneath you is cursed and stained
Your planting and reaping are never the same
Your labor is not in vain”

That night usually feels like a distant memory of something I witnessed happening to someone else. But occasionally the rawness and actuality of it all fracture my tender surface and grief takes up residence–like a hundred ton boulder–on my chest, and I can barely catch my breaths between tears.

“Your labor is not unknown
Though the rocks they cry out and the sea it may groan
The place of your toil may not seem like a home
But Your labor is not unknown”

Tahd is in Italy this week. I don’t think he’ll remember this today, which is okay. Everyone but me remembers it most on Mother’s Day, because eight years ago, May 9, 2010 was Mother’s Day, a far more memorable occasion than a random date in early May. Tahd remembers and is tender for us then. But in my own head, I keep them a little bit separate so I can grieve quietly on May 9 and still be mostly okay on Mother’s Day.

“The vineyards you plant will bear fruit
The fields will sing out and rejoice with the truth
For all that is old will at last be made new
The vineyards you plant will bear fruit”

I didn’t have anymore losses after that last loss, my third and most monumental in a string of years of infertility and miscarriage. I went on to be granted two sweet souls, Isla and Jude, who I think I’ll tuck in next to when I finish writing this. Isla will crowd me out, but Jude’s always up for a sleep-mate and a snuggle, and there’s little grace more comforting than to drink in the breath of an innocent, sleeping child.

I feel unspeakably, undeservedly lucky.

“I am with you, I am with you
I am with you, I am with you
For I have called you, called you by name
Your labor is not in vain”

Early May and Mother’s Day are strange times for me, but I know I’m not the only one. I know hearts break every year because they long for a child, for a miracle of their own. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you long for answers or solutions or a diagnosable problem or money to pay for treatments or relief from your debilitating sadness or to finally be picked by a birth mother or for a sibling for a child you already have.

I just want you to know that I see you. That I hold you in my heart. That I literally pray for you–by name for those I know and in spirit for those I’ve yet to meet.

“The houses you labored to build
Will finally with laughter and joy be filled
The serpent that hurts and destroys will be killed
And all that is broken be healed”

I heard this song tonight for the very first time and wept while I read its words. For my baby, for my own heart, and for you. And that last line…it’s all, really, I can think to say. May all that is broken be healed.

Much love.

On Running

I think it was my sophomore year of high school when I met Wayne in typing class. He was an atheist and a little goth and an enigma to my little Christian, conventional 15 years, and he was also a runner, tall and angular, with a slim build and powerhouse calves that intrigued me.

“Running is so addicting!” he used to tell me.

Completely unrelated pictures of our weekend trip to the farm

What does that even mean, I wondered, and I’d press him for details.

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “You just have to try it. Once you’ve started running, you’ll understand.”

He’d piqued my curiosity, so I tried it, and that was the beginning of my running “career,” if you can call it that. Mostly, I consider myself a beginner even still; I’m slow and inconsistent and haven’t built up a solid base of miles. But after 25 years of dabbling in this running thing, I’ve finally realized that it’s legitimate to call myself a runner, not just someone who runs. The distinction may seem subtle, but it’s there and it matters to me.

The last decade of my running has presented more challenges than successes or growth. Things like infertility (don’t bang your ovaries so much!) and pregnancy (lack of energy + recurrent miscarriage = less activity) and pretty severe anemia (can’t stay awake, let alone run) don’t lend themselves to a robust running career.

But no matter how arduous it has felt, I always come home to running, like a warm, home-cooked chicken casserole around my mother’s table. It soothes me, it grounds me, and I don’t go into it expecting miracles so I’m rarely disappointed.

Lately I’ve returned to running after having surgery last summer and experiencing a busy fall and winter. This time around, it has equally shocked and delighted me to realize I have a new level of endurance and speed. I’m still not fast, per se, but I’m running as well as I did in my early 20s, in spite of the fact that I am nearly double that age. And although my weight’s not double what it was then, it’s…um…substantially more.

via GIPHY

Perplexed, I started analyzing my current situation, and I’ve narrowed it down to this: I’m no longer anemic. Since my hysterectomy, my anemia results have steadily risen. I’m almost normal now! 😉

via GIPHY

You’d think that being no longer anemic and able to run would mean I left awash in energy and motivation. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I wake up every day with a fresh burst of hopes and dreams and goals, but by supper I’m paralyzed by exhaustion and just want a quiet space in which to breathe deeply.  Which makes no sense.

Why can I run 8 miles without exhaustion but I can hardly make dinner at the end of the day or have a meaningful evening conversation with my husband or write more than one blog post a month? Running requires far more physically than any of the other things. What gives?

via GIPHY

For years, I’ve been tired, and I thought solving the physical roots of my tiredness would fix my lack of energy. If you could just go to bed earlier or at least take a nap, I told myself, it’d all get better! But I didn’t realize there’s more than one way to be tired. The body, yes. But maybe my soul is tired, too?

I don’t know about you, but every day I feel like I’m hauling around a hundred pieces of luggage–responsibilities, things that need to get done, things on which I’m behind, a zillion different hats, hopes and dreams for the future. I’m sure you have them, too. Some pieces don’t require much of me, but some pieces are difficult to carry, and sometimes I’m just carrying too much at once. There’s never time for the ones that fill me back up again, that nourish or motivate me.

What I’ve come to realize during the start of 2018 is that there never will be room unless I make it. I have to stop trying to do #allthethings–even though I think I should be able to do them. In my head, I should be able to clean the house, cook the meals, do the church things, connect with my friends and family, parent my children, educate them, maintain a thriving marriage, handle the finances, stay healthy, write, read the books, engage in creativity, etc, etc. I look around me and it seems that others juggle these things and more.

But these comparisons aren’t doing me any good. Reality is I can’t. And I don’t want to be living so haphazardly from one thing to the next that I wind up dropping the balls that are most important to me.

A few weeks ago, Tahd and I had a conversation about juggling responsibilities and marriage, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said, “I want us to be important enough to you that you want to put down some of the other bags and responsibilities to invest in our marriage.”

Ouch! I want that, too. And my marriage is top priority to me. But it’s also one that can be easy to set aside “for now” while I work on the rest of the things, only to find that it’s withering and struggling without care.

So…which bags to put down? What am I going to quit? Maybe it’s better to turn that question around–what’s most important to me? I don’t have to think twice to answer that question. Marriage, family, and soul care. Maybe first making space for these most important priorities will let me more effectively juggle my remaining energy and time amongst the tasks I have left.

 

Will It Ever Be Spring?

Tahd’s out of town this week—not just out of town, but out of the country in Brazil. For work. And I’m totally not jealous… ;). 

We have this “Ok to Wake” clock in the little kids’ room, and it lights up green when they’re allowed to get up at 7:00. I’d love it to be later than that, but lately, even 7:00 has been pressing my luck, and we’ve been begging and coercing Jude to (FOR THE LOVE) stop screaming for us at 6:00 every morning, waking everyone else in the process.

In an ideal world I’d be getting up around 6:00 and I’d be coherent and loving and ready for them an hour later, but since my world rarely approaches ideal, early-riser Tahd usually intercepts them when they gleefully bound into my room at 7:00 while I’m still in a groggy, sleep-deprived haze.  I owe him big for this! When he’s traveling, however, it’s all on me.

Isla was (shockingly!) first up yesterday morning, and I snuck a few more minutes sleep by bribing her with the ipad. But when she suddenly exclaimed, “Mom! It’s snowing!” something within me snapped awake. Mostly, it was horror, because it is nearly the middle of April and it is still sooooo colllllddddd and I am DONE with winter.  For real—when will it be spring? When will I hear birds and be able to open my window and wear flats without freezing the tops of my feet, hm?  When????

Also, have I mentioned my children are actually climbing the walls?

That afternoon, however, I was surprised when I noticed the magnolia tree in our front yard; or, more accurately, I noticed its furry buds. Most are closed up tight, but a few, especially on the tree’s south side, are beginning to stretch their outer casings to reveal the more tender insides.

You guys, it’s happening! My tree is getting ready to bloom, which means spring is coming!

Even more than exhaustion with winter, however, is the exhaustion in my soul lately. I’m just flat out tired down to my core. Every day I feel spent and used up and like not enough and too much all at once. I’ve felt this way for some time, and even though I’ve been experimenting and adjusting and reprioritizing, I haven’t had much luck at finding renewal, at forcing a rebirth of energy and purpose in my soul.

Those few opening buds on my magnolia tree cheered me in more ways than one.  “Have faith. It’s true!” they cried. “The  secrets of rebirth endure even while the death of winter falls softly and blankets everything I can see. Winter will not last forever. Even in the midst of snow, spring is preparing herself.”

Spring will come—is coming. Around me and, I hope, inside me. Winter’s work is not yet done, but it will not last forever, and it will all be reborn again.

And that reminder brought a deep breath of refreshment to my soul today. 

As I Get Older

As I get older, I realize how short 80 or 90 or 100 years really is. When I was little, the span between Christmases was interminable. Now, I feel like I was 28 and I blinked and turned 40.

Me, maybe 4ish?

As I get older, I realize how much more compact history really is than it seemed to me when I was younger. The year I was born, there was still a living person who was alive during the Civil War. What???!? And odds are reasonable that at least my littles will live to see another century. If that’s true, my children and I will have existed in three centuries, which sounds like it should entail a very long time but is really only two generations. All of history is much more compact than it seems.

As I get older, I realize how much more complex the world really is. And also how much more simple it is than I used to imagine. The downside often relates to money. Or power. Probably both. The upside is almost always love. More love. Always love.

As I get older, I realize the “secret” is just hard work, and the “shortcut” is staying on the path. Stay, don’t stray. Consistency in the small things over a lifetime bears fruit.

My mama and me, 3ish?

As I get older, I realize my ideals are never going to be achieved, and–perhaps most significantly–that’s ok.  We’re all broken people, just doing the best we can. My body, my family, church, society at large, the environment…none of it’s going to be ideal. But real trumps ideal because idealism is imaginary.

As I get older, I realize that faith and questions can coexist. In fact, lately I’ve started suspecting that it’s not really faith at all if I’ve never questioned it. Doubts and questions don’t preclude faith.

Me (40 “ish”) and my own daughter, 6

As I get older, I realize that I really don’t like northern-ish winters. That giant glowing orb around which all of life revolves? Imagine that…it actually makes a difference! In my 20s, a friend and her family moved away to a warmer climate specifically to spend more time in sunshine. I didn’t quite get it then, but I get it now…especially right now as I stare out my windows into a sloppy March snowstorm.

As I get older, I realize that I think family dysfunction is mostly a zero-sum game. Not so much in a fatalistic way; more in a “Phew!” sort of way. Yes, I try not to make the same “mistakes” my parents made with me. Instead, I make other mistakes (and probably some of their same mistakes, too). Before I was a parent, I harbored two fundamental hopes about parenting: first, that my adult children and I would be friends; and second, that my adult children wouldn’t require therapy due to all my mistakes. Now, I still hope we’ll all be friends, but to the other issue, I’ll be overjoyed if they simply pay for the therapy themselves. 😉

As I get older, I realize that the cliches are true–the days really are long, the years really are short, and life really is precious.

And sleep. Sleep is precious, too. Which is where I’m going to go right now.

‘Night, friends. <3

Bits and Pieces

Here’s a little bit of current life around here, 2018 style.

drinking || Kevita. It’s a fermented probiotic beverage, which (I think) is fancy-talk for kombucha, which (I think) is fancy talk for sour, fizzy tea. I’d tried it in the past and found it passable, but my sister introduced me to the Kevita brand, specifically the Pineapple Peach flavor, and YUM. It is so good! I drink it when I’m starting to drag in the afternoon and need a pick-me-up. Or when I’m feeling munchy but don’t want to actually eat anything. I’ve tried several other flavors and also really like the dragonfruit lemongrass, raspberry lemon,  tart cherry, and lemon ginger. The lime mojito is pretty good, too, and I’ll drink the the blueberry cherry in a pinch. I’m not a big fan of the coconut ones. Hint for local friends – it’s expensive at Pick n Save. Less expensive at Festival, and even less expensive than that at Target and Woodmans.

reading || Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz. I’ve read chunks of a number of enneagram books – The Road Back to You, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, The Enneagram of Parenting. This is by far my favorite one so far. I wish I could explain why, but I’m not sure–it just resonates with me. I’m still working out my type. For a while, I was pretty sure I was a 9. The more I learn, the less sure I am. I feel like this book is helping me narrow in on some questions and details that may help in that process.

listening || to two things. First, the Waitress soundtrack. The Broadway show toured here in January, and I went to see it (twice, if I’m totally honest). It seriously made me so happy, which is strange because there’s definitely some moral justification that would usually upset me. But it’s just such a sweet story, both in that it’s touching and it includes pies, and listening to the soundtrack just makes me happy. And makes me want pie. You can stream it for free on Amazon if you have Prime. Also, this is another one to avoid around your children if they’re inclined to listen to lyrics.

Second recommendation – the Insight Timer app. I’ve been using it for mindfulness and meditation, and it is really excellent – and also FREE! My favorite guided meditations are all by Sarah Blondin, but if she’s not you’re speed there are thousands of other options. Check it out!

watching || well, nothing at the moment. But I just recently finished The Crown, Victoria, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I llloooooovveeeddd all three. Seriously loved. Here are my thoughts…

The Crown – watch if you like British royalty. I love it and grew up in Canada believing that the Queen was my spirit animal, so if this does not describe you I cannot guarantee you’ll like it. I watch the show with Google beside me because I’m constantly looking up if things really happened as they’re depicted. Makes me very curious about history in general and British history specifically. I’ll be sad to see Claire Foy and Matt Smith replaced next season.

Victoria – feels similar to The Crown, but I don’t think you need to have any level of historical knowledge about this era. It’s more Downton-ish than The Crown-ish, if that makes any sense. I can’t wait for the second season to stream.

Mrs. Maisel – this show was so spunky and bold and smart. I sort of want to be her, except not really, but kind of. Not so much her specifically, but I want her zest and guts and talent. And the costumes/sets are divine! If you are easily offended by language or a small amount of nudity, do not watch this. Also, don’t watch in front of your kids.

practicing || my word of the year – action. I’m so much better at thinking things through than I am at doing anything with my thoughts! If only wishes came true by their own power. Lately I’m trying to take action on some school planning ideas. I find it really hard to keep up on planning – I mean, I generally know what comes next, but to actually write it down and have everything prepped isn’t my forte. Yet, when I don’t do it, it adds so much stress!

mulling || over some church struggles. This will probably earn a post of its own if I can bring it to some sense of cohesion in my mind, but right now I’m just muddled and melancholy and questioning the whole meaning of faith communities and the purpose of church. You know, the little things. 😉

dreading || six more weeks of winter. But it’s Wisconsin so it’ll probably be more like ten more weeks of winter? We’ve gotten off easy so far, I suppose, but I want flip flops. Which, according to Gabe I could still have because he thinks slides are a completely acceptable form of footwear. He even wore them to church yesterday. In a snowstorm. Across slushy, unshoveled sidewalks. With no coat. I’d complain (loudly) about what’s wrong with him except that I distinctly remember walking to school during 7th and 8th grade wearing boat shoes AND NO SOCKS through northern Maine snowbanks. The exposed parts of my heels would get painfully red and chapped, yet every day I trudged on in the name of fashion and middle school acceptance… <insert eye roll here>

trying || to move more. Ideally I’d love to say I’m trying to work out more, but I’m not at that level right now. I’m at the “just keep moving” level right now, which won’t get me Olympics-ready (ha!), but might stave away things that start creeping up on 40-year-0lds. You know, like I am now. (Wah!)

anticipating || Da-DAAA-da-Da-Da-Da-Da…tell me someone out there knew I was humming the Olympic song??? I have such fond memories of Olympics past. Especially this one. I think Isla and Jude are old enough to appreciate them this year which should make things fun, and I realized that as homeschoolers, we can bring in loads of fun educational activities to tie them into our learning across all ages. We’ll see how far I get on those plans…hopefully far enough to make it a fun and memorable experience for all 4 of us this winter!

How about you? What have you been up to lately?

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