broken and okay, cave paintings of the soul, mountains that don't move, Uncategorized

I don’t know how you do it (and other stupid things we say)

when you want to be real
Maybe we could stop trying to fix things so quickly. Some things are unfixable. Some things stay broken. And advice has rarely changed any broken thing. I don’t want advice. I don’t want pity. I want someone to look me in the eye and say “this is hard, and I see you..”

A diagnosis, a death, a physical or mental illness. A crushing betrayal, an act of indifference. Something that didn’t go as planned. An iceberg that came out of nowhere and wrecked us. That moment our unsinkable ship sank. Whatever it is that happened to me, to you, you know what it is – that thing.

That thing that is always there. Like a phantom pain with an invisible scar. Or a gaping wound we keep under bandages because of some internal sense that tells us that no one wants to see that. Continue reading “I don’t know how you do it (and other stupid things we say)”

broken and okay, mountains that don't move

come sit with me in shadows (bearing witness to silent pain)

come sit with me in shadows

Come sit with me in shadows, I can’t bear the light today.

The light’s a mockery, a mirage, it moves each time I get close. I don’t want to chase the light today.  Today I’m sitting in the shadows, and I need someone who will come and sit with me.

I need someone who won’t try to fix this unfixable thing. Someone who won’t tell me how the light means everything happens for a reason. Sometimes there is no reason.

I don’t need to hear about the light right now. I know the light exists. We all know the light exists. But here in this moment I don’t think the light can reach me. I know the light can’t reach me. And I need you to be okay with that.

I need someone who can sit beside me and bear witness to my pain. Not tell me I shouldn’t feel it. Not try to tell me it will be okay. Not today. Today I need someone to sit with me in shadows,  it’s the only place that I can be.


{{This is the post I tried to write all year. Shadows come and go. In this moment the light can reach me. That doesn’t mean the shadows weren’t real or that I won’t sit in them again. But when you’re in the shadows it’s hard to write exactly how that feels.

So today I write for myself but also for anyone who sits in shadows. Friends whose hearts can’t be all merriness and light this Christmas. I write because I want you to know you’re not alone. I write because I hope a friend can come and sit with you today.}}

broken and okay

today is the yesterday you’re going to be all nostalgic about tomorrow

We’re in Colorado, in the town where Nate and I met, spending the holidays with family. Our first little condo is here, the one we bought right before our wedding. I hadn’t been been back there for years. We went over Monday to check on some things, to figure out new flooring once the current tenants leave, and to reminisce. On the drive back I told Nate “I miss the us that lived there.” The truth is I miss the us that I remember. The slightly edited version where all the spectacular memories rise to the top and the boring ones sink to the bottom and you’re left with nothing but the creamiest cream and the peaches to put it on. {{If we weren’t lactose intolerant/allergic to dairy. But why spoil a perfectly good word picture?}}

We also hauled around 8 boxes out of the rafters in the garage that have been there since we moved. Boxes of costumes. See, I used to write and direct little plays for a little group of kids at the little church where we met. And it was one of my favorite things ever. As I sorted through the boxes and put 99% in bags to go to goodwill I smiled at every funny memory they contained. Super Truth’s blue sequined cape. A hideous plain blazer. A horrible poodle costume. I smiled at every single one. And that made me glad I waited to go through them. Because when we left they did nothing but make me cry.

Continue reading “today is the yesterday you’re going to be all nostalgic about tomorrow”

broken and okay, mountains that don't move

in defense of the imperfect story: finding hope at christmas

the perfect Christmas story

Growing up I loved to read the Christmas newsletters and cards my parents would receive. From all across the United States they would pour in, spinning their beautiful tales of promotions, graduations, and vacations. Magical moments captured in dream like perfection. And then social media came with Facebook and blogs to give us that same feeling year round, perfect lives captured in perfectly composed pictures. And then Pinterest. Pinterest is like those old Christmas newsletters played at high-speed while a disco ball throws light to every corner of our imagination. Everything is insanely, impossibly perfect. It’s a world in which recipes for dessert after dessert can live side by side with pictures of flat stomachs. Where rain boots are lined up by the door with no hints of melting snow or mud or rain beneath them. A world in which children’s rooms can have white bedding.

Even back in my childhood I knew when I read those Christmas newsletters that they weren’t the whole story. That theirs were a varnished truth. A slight retelling where Joseph wasn’t sold by his brothers into slavery but rather was seeking career advancements overseas. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think dreamy perfection is lovely sometimes. But it can get overwhelming, if we start to believe in it a little too much.

And so, it’s to this world I’d like to offer my defense, my defense of the imperfect story. The ones that start out not with a stride but with a stumble. The ones that have messy middles that don’t make sense. The ones that don’t come with a golden ribbon ending. At least not one we’ve seen yet.

Continue reading “in defense of the imperfect story: finding hope at christmas”

broken and okay

a beach in birch bay and a cathedral in rome (a shout-out for brokenness)

We had to drive north awhile ago to take my sister and her family to the Vancouver airport for their flight back to China. On our way home we decided to stop by Birch Bay, a little rocky beach a stone’s throw from where we used to live. I wanted to take the little boys there. I’m not sure all of the reasons why, I think I had a romantic notion that it would be fun to stand on the same ground I had stood and dreamed about them on. DSC_0903 But deeper than that I think I was hoping for a do-over. A grand wiping of old and bad memories. As if being happy enough in the same place I had been so miserable would force an emotional reboot of sorts. But memories don’t work like that. And mistakes we made in the past seem to stand out no matter how well we analyze. Like a Picasso in a room full of Monets they’ll always just be there, not quite fitting in. And moving there was our grand mistake.

It was not exactly the happy sunshiny day I was hoping for on Birch Bay. Instead the weather was exactly as gloomy as I remembered it was the fall we moved there, back when it felt like we didn’t see the sun for the first nine months. It could be because the apartment we lived in was as cheerful as the inside of a tomb, but when I think back at that time it’s like watching a movie in black and white, a grainy one where the action is jerky and the sound doesn’t match. for-blog---delete1_thumb2 That apartment was like a bowling alley. Downstairs was one long room: kitchen, dining area, living area. Blond laminate floors, the cheap kind that feel like you’re walking on plastic. The upstairs was dark green carpet that felt rough underneath your feet. I didn’t know carpet could feel rough. It was cold, devoid of any kind of soul or life. Homes should have souls shouldn’t they? They should greet you when you walk in the door like an affectionate pet. When we were shopping for our current house I remember the feeling it gave off the minute we walked in the door. It was sad. So sad. Seven years of being neglected will do that to a house. It’s different now. That old apartment never did get happy. It was like a zombie house. Mimicking life and rotting inside. The funny thing was it was almost brand new. So maybe more Frankenstein than Zombie.

A few yards from where we walked with our little boys was the firepit we used to use. We had so many picnics there, the sounds of the crackling fire intermixed with the waves lapping the pebbles on the beach. Fire and water. Who would have though they went so well together? We took our Christmas tree there onetime, a tiny little Charlie Brown tree. About two or three feet high. It had sat on our back porch until it was dry as old timber. We set it on fire and the flames leaped into the air, six or seven feet high. And then it was gone. Such a metaphor for our time in that town. It all started out with such promise, expectations, high hopes that burned up in a hot second into nothing but ash.


Continue reading “a beach in birch bay and a cathedral in rome (a shout-out for brokenness)”

adoption related seriousness, broken and okay, mountains that don't move, waiting

when the mountains don’t move

So what does it mean when your mountains don’t move?  When you pray the “prayer of faith” but there is no splash at the end to indicate that God was listening?

What does it mean when those same prayers from other lips get answered?  When their “miracle” request is granted and yours gets filed in the trash bin of heaven?

I find myself tempted to believe I didn’t do something right, didn’t pray the right words, didn’t have the right heart.  As if God is a temperamental vending machine and I didn’t hit the right button with the appropriate force.  I find myself wallowing in believing that if I was somehow good enough then my prayers would be answered, my life would be made lovely and easy.  As if those whose lives are a daily struggle for survival somehow did something to deserve their condition.

So maybe it’s good my mountains didn’t move, my personal “miracles” wasn’t granted. Maybe if they had I would believe in the own specialness of my American self.  Maybe I would somehow think that the privileges that come from being born in a wealthy country where opportunities abound somehow said something about my goodness as a person, my deservedness as a human.

Maybe if my mountains had moved I wouldn’t think every day about those around the world whose mountains are so much bigger than mine.  Whose unanswered prayers cost them so much more than mine ever will.  While I pray for paperwork to come in quickly so my son can come home to me others are praying to not die in childbirth and leave their child motherless.  While I cry over months apart from these children I love, others are crying for the food to keep their children alive.  While I wonder why my life has to be tainted by chronic illness others watch their loved ones die from preventable diseases, all because they lack the money for treatment.

Maybe if my mountains had moved I wouldn’t feel compelled to give to others, to do what I can to help their own mountains move, maybe I would have been content to sit and stare at the gap in the horizon and be pleased with my own personal faith and my own personal happiness.  Maybe I would have believed in my own specialness at the cost of forgetting others.

My mountain didn’t move.  But my heart has.