Monday, September 29, 2008


So I wake up this morning and flip on the news. Here is still photos depicting an enormous freighters being attacked by pirates in...yup, small speedboats. You know the kind- like your cousin Larry uses to go crawdad fishin in the bayou.

Okay, so they have guns. But c'mon- it's a freighter! It's carrying tanks for God's sake. Surely these speedboats pose no threat.

Only....yup, you guessed it- they are negotiating with the pirates. As we speak. From a freighter. To a speedboat.

It occurred to me that this is in some ways a huge metaphor for faith. Here we stand, in a mighty fortress. We are protected...not from everything, surely, but we feel safe. We feel held. We feel secure.

Then along comes the world and it's dark troubles and we panic. Even though these troubles are small in comparison to our God, we still stand at the deck and look about with fear. There is steel and security around us, but we often don't rest easy in those boundaries- instead we look out into the water, into our troubles.

It is a sad state of reality that often the speedboat seems bigger than the freighter. But that is a manner of perspective isn't it- when your eyes see only outward to the threat, they are not seeking the security of the known savior.

Faith is defined many ways in the Bible, but the word fortress is used again and again. Faith is a defense against the world, against our own disbelief, against despair. It is meant to be used, it is meant to be utilized. We are meant to run to our fortress and feel safe. We are meant to shelter from the stormy waters.

And when the speedboats arrive, we are meant to go inside, close the hatches, and find peace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Today I had two really profound experiences. One was with Emily, my dear friend, who out of the blue today turned to me and said "I am always so comforted when I walk into a room and you are there."

Now I could have simply said "Oh thank you! You are so sweet!". But that was the old me. Instead I looked her in the eyes and said "I love you Em. Thank you for telling me that." and then I hugged her. And we both got teary. And it was good teary. Comforting.

I am not used to being loved like this. But I feel like God really knew what he was doing when He chose Emily to come into my life. She is honest, nurturing, caring, and thoughtful. The things she says stick with me. She's not afraid to say the things that other's don't. She has taught me to be the same- to put myself out there.

I was at Wal-Mart this afternoon, shopping for produce. Lily was in the cart, looking incredibly adorable as always, and an older lady walked by. Lily reached out and touched her arm. The woman stopped and chatted with her. They said hello, they shook hands, Lily gave her the grocery list, she gave it back, Lily blew her around 3000 kisses and we went on about our buisness. About 2 minutes later the woman rounded the corner again. She had tears in her eyes and her voice was shaking. She said- "I just need to tell you this. I lost my mom 2 weeks ago. She just loved little babies." her voice broke, and I held her arm "I really feel like my mother sent your daughter to me, because she knew I would notice her, and she just sent me such joy and love and kisses through her."

I was, of course, crying.

And then I decided to be brave. I wrapped my arms around a total stranger and gave her a hug. I didn't even have to say anything. I felt her pain. It is the same pain, whether you are 18 or 80. We parted with a quick goodbye, but I will never forget that moment...ever.

So here it is. The house is quiet. The day is nearly done. I have time to reflect. And what I think is this- two women taught me alot about bravery today. Two women taught me a deeply profound lesson about who I want to be. I want to be brave...I want to say what matters. I want to say the things that open people up. I want to let those I care about know that they are important to me.

I want to say the things people will always remember.

Thanks, Em.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Dearest April,

My oldest and dearest. My bestest. My sister, my friend, my confidante, my sometimes ass kicker. I love you to the moon. No new circumstance or new friends could ever change that.

I know you said the other day that you are little jealous that my NC friends get to spend time with me. I love them also...but it could never be the same as what you and I have. You have seen me at my best, my worst. You have cried with me, been silent with me, laughed your crazy ass off with me, and loved me for 16 years now. 16 years! You know me, and love me anyway.

I was reading something the other day that said a true friend completes a part of you you didn't know was missing. That is so true of you and I. You have completed my life, my family, my sentences, and made my world a better place. You are loyal. You are true. You take me as I am.

You were my first phone call when I found out I was pregnant with Lily. You came after she was born and at cheesecake with me for a week. You held her while I slept. You kissed her sweet head and marveled over her as if she was your own. And I did the same with your girls.

I will never forget when you came after Lily was born. She was 5 days old, and I met you at the airport. You walked out and I stated immediately crying, and so did you. You were the first person besides Mark I shared her with. I will never forget those days, never.

I will never forget cruising with you, getting Pepsi at Gas N Shop, working at the care center, partying in corn fields, going to Colorado in my dad's RV, going to the lake and frying ourselves, crying over boys, fighting and never being able to stay mad at each other, and picking up right where we left off even if we haven't spoken in a while.

You are my best, my happiest, my most, my sister at heart. Never, ever think anyone can take your place.

I love you bunches.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ramble on

It is so good to feel creative, feel useful, and to create something tangible with my hands. Everything from picking out fabric, ironing each hem and seam, the rush of the needle over the fabric...all of it soothes me.

It feels good to make something that people like. That they comment on. I take pride in the work of my hands. I take pride in being creative and using my brain for something other than "Do we have broccoli or corn tonight?"

Motherhood is brilliant, don't get me wrong. But it is also tedious and wearing. And many times I feel as if I am lost, drowning in everyone else's needs, and never meeting my own. I love my family, and I love being home with my daughter...but sometimes I look around and think- "Really this all there is?"

And then, as if on cue, Lily laughs and I don't need Him to answer.

Life is funny. There was a time in my life where I thought I would be alone forever. There were wonderful and not so wonderful men who came into my life whom I thought I would be with forever. There was lives I could have chosen with just a small push, a different turn, a well spoken word. All of those lives stretch behind me now like a roadmap of where I have been. But where I am going is so much more appealing now, that my eyes rarely turn back. Okay, they do, but it is to simply mark how far I have come.

I've been struggling with a sense of purpose lately. The whole crisis of "Why am I here...what is my purpose." Yeah, I know it's totally cliche. It's silly. It's ordinary. But it is. I a struggling. I know what I am- a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. But what else am I? What else am I supposed to be? A writer? A sub-par seamstress? A paleontologist? I just don't know. Like everyone else, I feel less that stellar at most of my roles. I am not the wife I wish to be. I am not the mother Lily deserves. God knows daughter isn't one of my key titles. And friend- well I think most of the time I get that right- but even that is backwards- why be a good friend if you're not a good wife and mother?

Don't be worried for me. All of these thoughts and feeling are nothing new..probably not even to you, my 3 faithful readers. We all struggle. We all push through. We all wonder and wish sometimes. It's human. It's human to struggle for happiness. It's even human not to recognize happiness when it is on your front step.

Tomorrow when I am walking in the park, laughing at Lily's crazy antics, making dinner with my husband, calling a friend on the phone, or drifting off to sleep, these thoughts will be forgotten. But the carousel of worry and regret will keep turning for me...for all of us. It's what we do while we are taking a turn on the ride that counts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A shameless plug...

(the model was less than willing, so bear with the bad pics)

My dresses! I must say, I love them, and not just because I made them. First of all, they are completely adjustable in length, due to the bows, they can be worn alone in warm weather, or over a long sleeved shirt/turtleneck with jeans or leggins in cooler weather. The are nearly one size fits all, as little ones can wear it as an ankle length, tea length, or knee length dress, and older girls can wear it as a tunic or blouse over pants.
Plus, I am SO tired of putting my daughter in the frilly pink choices that everyone seems to have for dresses. I love these prints because they are unusual.
I am also making the more traditional pillowcase dresses!

I have washed several of these, and dried them as well, and they hold up beautifully. The only caveat is they must be washed on cold for the ribbon to hold up well. They are completely colorfast and stains come out easily.
Since they grow with your child, they can wear them for quite a while!
So, I hate to use my blog to plug these, but what the heck. They aren't necessarily a way to make money, although that is nice. I am making them mostly because it's so dang fun!
Let me know if you are interested. I plan on making several in the next few weeks!
*more pics to come later...hopefully Miss Thing will be better behaved! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here's the thing..

Okay, to the dozens...errr..tens...okay 3 people who keep up with my blog- I am sorry. I have been caught up in my new obsession- making dresses. Yeah, I talented can one person be? Admire me if you must. Ahem.

Anyway, I promise once the obsession winds down, which it probably will do once I have sunk at least 500 dollars into fabric and supplies, I will be back with more regularity. Until then, pine for me, dear faithful readers.

After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never forget.

9-11. A day my life turned, abruptly, on a dime. I've written before of my decisions after 9-11, and it does not bear repeating. My pain at that time was nothing, nothing, compared to what those families and victims felt. Nothing.

After I moved back to Nebraska shortly after, I spent alot of time alone. One day while surfing the web I came across a list of all the known victims of 9-11. I printed it out, and for nearly a year, had it with me at all times. I prayed over it, ran my fingers over the names so many times they were blurred by my fingerprints and tears. I felt in my soul that I owed my life to these people.

Seven years later, I still feel the same.

My life is a 180 from what it was 7 years ago. Where I was weak, I am now strong. Where I was compromised, I am now strengthened. Where I was silent, I now have a voice. Where I was alone, I am now loved. The woman I was then is gone, utterly. I pulled myself relentlessly toward change and growth, and I am who I am today because I let 9-11 change me and the direction of my life.

I think of 9-11 everyday. I think of the people who perished everyday. I watched as some of those people jumped to their deaths. I watched as the buildings came down. Little did I know my future was standing on the shore in Brooklyn, looking across the water at his beloved city in chaos. He was watching too. Life changed for both of us, making us both more open to embracing each other.

I will never, ever be glad 9-11 happened. I will be glad, however, that I opened my eyes that day. That I got up off the couch. That I took at good look at myself- at my bruises, at my blood. I am glad that something in my mind said "No more." And I am beyond glad that on some distant shore, my future husband opened his heart up to living life more fully, and in doing so, was able to love me when I came to him.

Seven years ago today, I took a step into the future I am living now. I hope I continue to honor those victims, by living fully each moment I have left.

Monday, September 8, 2008


So yesterday my husband and friends threw a surprise party for me.

I woke up, got ready for a breakfast with my two besties, Linda and Em.

Mark was going to the park with Lily and his besties, Erich and Seth. I thought that was a little weird cause my husband hates nature, but whatever.

I arrive at the diner, place my order to hold the table, and wait. I am having a total 8th grade moment. I am looking the menu over, reading old text messages, playing it cool. Okay, I definitely didn't look cool, but I was trying.

I digress. Anywho, Mark calls me and tells me Lily has fallen and hurt herself and I must come NOW. But I don't hear her crying, and he doesn't sound particularly panicked. Hmmmmm.

So I get in the car and head over. As I drive into the lot at the park I see my friends all sitting under the shelter with their babies. I make a solemn promise in my head not to cry, since I have makeup on and don't wanna look like Tammy Faye.

I get out, they yell "Surprise!!!" and the party ensues. It is beautiful, if warm (remember what I said about NC this time of year?) and we all have a great time, especially the rugrats, who spend most of the time picking ice up off the ground and eating it, or like Lily, SUCKING water off the ground. Ummm ick. But I let her do it anyway so I could eat cake in peace. I got my priorities in order, ya'll.

I didn't process much while the party went on, but afterwards, driving home, I thought alot about how my life has changed. I've spent many birthdays alone. I've spent a few in foster homes. I spent one under an overpass.

I've never really felt like anybody celebrated me...until this year. This year, I feel loved. I feel happy. I feel like I matter to people. It's amazing, humbling, and warms me.

A while ago, I invited living back into my life. I felt like I had just been going thru the motions for a while, on autopilot. We all do it from time to time, but I was damn sick of it. I finally worked up the courage to ask God to bring people into my life, even if it meant I would have to open my heart and love, which is hard for me. Even if it meant I would have to go out on a limb and trust. I asked him to give me courage. I asked him to open me up to life, even if it was painful.

I asked him most of all, to give me people to love.

And he did:

I cannot say with words how much the past 6 months have been life changing. I have learned that love does not hurt, support is absolute and real, that trust can be given and cherished, and that family is not always blood.

I have learned that anything in this life is made sweeter with friendship. That sorrow is halved, and joy doubled. That I don't have to hide. That I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to know all the answers. I don't have to be strong.

I have taken a leap into a world I have skirted for so long. I am diving headfirst into trusting and loving and being open to others. And I am finding that love is easy. Love is gracious. Love and frienship are essential.

So thank you, friends. Thank you for seeing me as worthy of celebration. It may be a small thing to you- a few hours, a little cake, some food, some singing. But to me it was something I have never experienced.

You honor me, and I love you for it.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Solitary faith...

While we were in NY, my mother in law sat Mark and I down to talk to us about going to church. She was insistant we go at least once a month, to take communion. I was holding my tongue, being respectful. After all, she has a point. We don't go to church that often. For them, it is an absolute way of life. Church is like breath, like food. It is where they recharge. It is where they find sanctuary. The conversation left me sad, and feeling totally misunderstood. She meant well, but if only she knew just how much God is part of my existence. He is like breath. There is no seperating me from Him.

My faith has always been a solitary thing, a moving ocean between myself and God. Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it is out, but it is always there. I am devout, but devotion isn't always apprent when you worship alone. My faith and my soul are best left by themselves. I feel closer to God with no distraction. I have never joined hands with another human being to pray. It is not in me. My faith and prayer are solitary things, rooted in my upbringing.

I always believed in God, even as a small child. My family wasn't particularly religious, but I did attend a Catholic school. If this was how my mother wanted to introduce me to God, the point was moot. He and I were familiar, if not friendly.

My church when I was young was a huge cathedral in downtown Omaha, attached to my school. St. Cecilias. It was beautiful, it's windows lined with glass like gems, it's choir loft hovering like heaven iteself over the entrance. The old fashioned organ sent shivers down my spine, the marble floors echoed with every step. It is a place that is still precious to me, and often when I pray, I picture myself in it's stillness and scent and feel infinitely closer to God.

I know some people find comfort in worship with others. But my faith was need based, a strong pull to believe in something, somebody good. A need to mend my hurt in the arms of St. Mary, who for a long long time, took the place of my mother. I would sit under her statue, watching her, willing her to get up and come to me. She never did of course, but my devotion to her never wavered. I loved and adored her, and still do. My child is not only named after my Aunt, but after St. Mary as well. She filled a void, even though her silence was profound. Many times I knelt under her marble likeness and cried from lonliness, from sadness, from hurt. I begged her to "make my mommy better". I know she cried with me. I felt it. My devotion to her is a satellite of my devotion to God. They move in parallel orbits.

I lost God for a really long time. I was angry with Him. I was frustrated with His lack of care. I was frustrated with His silence. With his ability to change my whole life, but his continuing choice not to do so. I was lonely. I was sad. I was aching. I knew He existed, but I found myself feeling as if He just didn't care. I let Him slip away.

Then came a Sunday morning in 2000. I was with my ex-husband, it was a horrifically bad and abusive relationship. It was familiar to me, the fighting, the hurting, the tears. I chose and stayed with what I knew. It is not smart, and it is not reasonable, but it simply is. I walked into church with a chip on my shoulder. I had only come because a friend invited me. The pastor walked onto the altar, picked up a guitar and began to play a song. (the song you are listening to now, in fact)

In the midst of the song, the words slammed into me like a wave. "Yesterday was the day that I was alone. Now I'm in the presence of almighty God." (Consuming Fire, Third Day)

I am not exaggerating when I say I hit my knees within minutes and gave my life back to God. Tears came from me like rivers, words of humbleness and despair and remorse. God took me back without hesitation. He took me back with joy. From then until now, nothing has rivaled the power of that moment. Not even the birth of my daughter. I stood up from my knees a different human being, a different person. I have never looked back.

My mother in law doesn't know me well enough to understand my faith. I know she means well, but the conversation hurt. I love God. I love him with a fire I can never, ever explain. When I look back at my life, I see how he saved me. I should have died, I should have been killed by my mother's abuse. But He saved me. He stayed her hand many times. He never changed my circumstance, and I will carry my burden of memory forever. But if I trace my fingertips along the lines of my life, He is there. He shines through the pain.

I know some find confort in the joining of hands in prayer, in the softness and stillness of a hushed church, in the songs of praise. But I don't. I find comfort in a walk in the trees, thanking God for the breath in my lungs, for my eyesight to see his creation. I find comfort in watching the mighty waves wash up on the sand and feeling God in my soul like tide. I find comfort in the echoing prayers in the chapel of my soul, where there are no others to distract me from my worship. I am not bound to a building to pray. I do not rely on a priest to tell me how to love God. The need for God is something I didn't have to be taught, and something I never need to have cultivated. It simply is a part of me. It is as much a part of me as my hands, as my breath.

So the question is, how do I teach faith to Lily? How do I show her the bone deep joy in knowing you are not alone, and there is always somebody who loves you? The truth is, she may never come to it on her own. She may need church to teach her. After all, what in her life will make her crave God like I did? What will make her reach out? She has it all- family, love, security. She has no need to reach beyond it's limits. I can't teach this to her, I can simply live it and hope she sees. I can offer her no proof of God other than my words, my deeds. After all, isn't that the real church? The home, the family? Isn't that where we are taught devotion to God, from the echoes of looking up into our parent's faces?

It is up to me to pass this on to her. I hope one day she will feel the desperate pull of her Savior, if not the desperate NEED. I hope she will seek His face, not because she beleives it is what she SHOULD do, but because it is what she wants to do. I cannot teach her to love God. I cannot explain Him to her. I can only show her the peace that comes from knowledge that our walk is never without a companion, never alone. We always walk with Him, whether we are within the walls of a church, or on a broad stretch of beach. He is there.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Okay, if you are tired of reading about my sitch with my father, skip my blog today.

Cause I got lots to say. And it ain't pretty.

He called me 4 times in two hours while I was in NY. When we finally spoke, he told me he had been in the hospital for a month. (I knew this of course) But now he is HOME. Back to his own do more of the same shit that got him in the hospital in the first place.

Where does this end? Where?

He told me "I just wanted to tell you I love you." I said "Dad, that's never been the problem- it's all the other stuff."

And in my father's typical way, his response was "Forget about that stuff. It's not important."

WTF??? Not important? My life, my effed up childhood, our surface relationship, all of that isn't important, apparently. Jesus.

So then my birthday came and went with no call. Yes, I was hurt. Very. I thought about what could keep me from calling Lily on her birthday. Nothing short of death. Nothing.

The next day he called and left a message. "It's dad. Sorry I forgot your birthday. I've forgotten alot in the past 9 months."

Hmmmm, interesting. I hear that alcohol impedes your effing memory. Just a goddamn theory there dad.

I felt like crying. I felt like screaming. I felt like shit. Not just for me, but for Lily.

And then, my in-laws and I went to Toy-R-Us. As we walked in, Lily lifted her arms up to her Gidu (grampa) and he picked her up, kissed her cheek, and she wrapped her arm around his neck. I watched from behind as they walked inside, and a peace came over me.

Even though I will never know what that feels like, SHE will. She will have her father and her grnadfather. Two strong men to love and guide her. She has no need for my father, and never will. She has enough. She will always have enough.

Love, security, discipline, laughter, joy, strength. All of these will be hers. And if I can't have those precious things, thank god my daughter can.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lost in IKEA

So, here's the thing about NYC.

It's big. REALLY big. And nobody gives a damn about personal space.

Oh, and it smells...pretty much everywhere.

Can you tell I'm not a fan?

In the middle of this swollen metropolis there is, like a gigantic king on a gigantic (landfill) mountain, IKEA.

It's bigger than most stadiums. Not kidding. HUGE.

We arrived at 10 am on saturday, baby and Aunt Mary in tow. Aunt Mary, who is the shopping queen. A tired, snotty baby...her tired parents, and a woman who can shop even if her leg suddenly feel off. Yup, she'd just toss it in the cart and keep going... err hopping.

When we entered IKEA, I heard angels singing. Or perhaps that was Aunt Mary.

Now I have to admit, I was taken in at first with the baby stuff. ( nightlights, stuffed animals, and bedding, oh my!) Little chairs for 30 dollars. Nightlights for 8. Tables and lamps and beds. I got dizzy. (it didn't help that my lil rugrat was sleeping in the Beco on my front with a VERY loaded diaper- the fumes were oh. ma. gawd.)

Then came the kitchen area. Oy Vey, I coulda died. Knife racks and spice racks, and scrub brushes. Cabinets. Beautiful prints for the wall. All for to die for prices. Excellent.

Then came the office section, the sofa section the....oh god when will it end my feet are killing me section. The my god my child really stinks and is drooling and blowing snot bubbles all over me section. The my feet are fricking killing me where the hell is the damn door outta here section.

Oh and then came the first floor. Yes, you have to go up to go down in IKEA. Oh those funny funny swedes- always the jokers with their tremendous store you can't possibly get out of and the upside down floor plan. Uh huh. Very funny.

Anyway. The first floor...home to textiles, dishes, pots, pans, lamps, crying babies, achy feet, snarky employees...oh, and swedish meatballs. Hell, they have to feed ya if they are going to make you walk 40 DAMN MILES to get to the checkout.

Yeah, yeah I can hear ya. Get to the point, stop whining. Okay, okay.

Here's my point. Why? Why the huge store? Why the need for this blatant consumerism? Why the need for 40 MILES of junk at bargain basement prices?

Sure, it's beautiful. Sure, it's lovely. Sure, I can get a stainless steel spice rack and a faux bearskin rug within feet of each other- but why?

Call me crazy, but all I did while I wandered in this great bastion of bargains is think that just a few feet away, outside the doors, were homeless. Were kids who were hungry. Were a vast sea of forgotten people. And here I am, wandering aisle upon aisle spending money on nothing.

Yeah, I probably think too much. But NYC is a city where you are confronted head on with the vast disparity of people in the world. The have and have nots. The rich and the poor...right there, in your face. There are houses there nobody should live in. There are areas you can't stop your car. There are ghettos and hovels and shelters. Theres also multi million dollar penthouses, women in fur and diamonds worth my house, and so on.

Walking through the Met the next day, I was confronted again with this. Rich and poor, all different ethnicities, 20 different languages...all of these people in one place. A microcasm of humanity. As I passed an obviously wealthy couple I heard the female half say "I don't know what the fuss is, Monet is so overrated." Cut to half an hour later, coming upon an obviously less well to do (maybe homeless?) man staring in wonder at a painting of the Madonna and Christ. Mouth slighty open, eyes a bit glazed, head tilted back. I didn't need to hear his thoughts. He didn't need to speak. It was all written on his face, clear as day. Wonder. Appreciation. Awe.

So is it a given when you are given much, things mean less to you? In a world where anything is possible, where anything can be purchased with the right bank account and a click of your computer mouse, is this where we lose our appreciation for what we have? In a world full of too much "stuff" and distraction, where do we go to clear our minds and think?

Yeah, I've had too much coffee. I know, I am overthinking things. But NYC always brings to the forefront of my mind how far seperated one member of humanity can be from another, just by virtue of birth into circumstance. When we have an abundance, do we forget how it feels to have nothing? Do we appreciate what we DO have?

This has been deep thoughts with Bella. Tune in tomorrow, when hopefully my thoughts will be in a little more order.