Thursday, December 29, 2011


My mom died in a stranger's bed. She slipped away peacefully on a painless wave of morphine as I sped toward her over the icy January roads between Texas and Oklahoma.

I was too late by hours, the letter I had written her forgiving her for everything arriving soon after her last breath.

I looked down at her in her coffin. Her hands so still, her mouth pulled down tight. The room smelled of roses, yellow as a sunrise and open to the sky. Roses my father had sent. Her favorite.

She died at the age of 46. Of cancer that ate at her lungs and body.

But she was gone long before that.

Why am I telling you this? I don't know. It's a story God has compelled me to share, stopping me in the midst of vacuuming to sit down and tell it.

She was beautiful. She could make any plant grow. She was mercurial, violent, and generous. She was a study in opposites, a study in what we now know is bi-polar.

She drank all of the time. She drank to tamp down her demon's voices, and to make her moods lie still for a time. But they came back with the sun and sobriety. So many years of mental anguish- and never a diagnosis of mental illness until she was nearly dead of cancer.

It's something I will never understand. Was God giving her a glimpse of what life should have been like- medicated and well? Was he giving me an idea of what she would have been like- or what she could have been? I've had to make peace with not knowing.

I have struggled with guilt all of my life. When I was 6, I was taken away from her- carried by a policeman into a waiting car while I watched the paramedice try to resusitate her. I kept screaming that she needed me. Now I think of the fact that she had taken enough pills to die. How much could she have possibly needed me?

I went back to her. And at 11, was taken away again. I don't remember much of these years, just holding a pillowcase filled with my dolls as I watched her in the doorway, pulling great clouts of hair from her head and crying.

I felt guilt, and anger, and fear until I went back to her at 15. That time when I left, I barely got out alive. She was hell bent on killing me in her drunken mental breakdown.

I tried. So many times. I went between anger and hope. I contacted her, and then withdrew.

And then she was dying. And she was well, all at the same time. A walking corpse with the ability to love me like I had never been.

Then she died.

I have spent hours wrestling with my guilt over what I COULD have done. I went to therapy, worked countless hours on getting in touch with the anger that blazed in me. Anger that was covering the guilt of a daughter who LOVED her mother, but didn't save her.

And it all came down to one moment. Holding my newborn daughter. Looking at the face of innocence and asking God if my mother ever felt this much love for me.

And hearing in the dark stillness- Yes.

Tears flowed, mixing with the milk from my breasts. Nourishing my daughter with both love and remembered grace as I continued to speak to God.

Father, I wanted to save her. I wanted to be ENOUGH. I wanted to be the reason she would save herself.

Nothing on this earth could have saved her. She was ruined for this world. Only the touch of my hand, here, in this place free from pain could save her.

Maybe if I was kinder...


Less selfish- I was always so selfish.


Maybe if I had stayed, all of those times.


Maybe if I had beleived in her more.


If I had only-

No. I am telling you no. Her life was as it should be. She died when I determined. She is healed now. Healed. Free. As you need to be. Nothing you did or could have done would have turned her face away from her own destruction. Her soul was ravaged by illness and sickness. Her healing was made whole the moment after she drew her last breath.

I could have held on.

To what?

For that I didn't have an answer. Because there had never been anything to hold on to.

The dog of guilt lies chained. I remind myself, have to remind myself, that I put these things away on that night. That no matter who I was, how much love I had to give, how much of my innocence was taken, she never could have changed her path. She was meant to live and die as she did. And although I don't know the reasons- I do know the outcome.

She is healed. She is free. And one day I will see her again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I have been thrown away many times.

I have been pushed aside for the better thing, the feel good thing, and the less needy thing.

I have spent alot of my adult life battling the excessive need to cling, to claw, and to beg for love.

I still walk the line everyday between what is normal love, and what is excessive love.

Alot of days I get it right. Some days I don't.

I firmly believe God allowed my early days to be tainted by grief and horror. He watched as others abused me for their own sake. He could have stopped it. He didn't. And that used to make me angry, but now I can see it more clearly.

God was teaching me to treasure love.

Here I am. I am married, after swearing I would never marry again. I have 2 children, after acknowledging that I probably never should. That it would be an uphill climb every single day to not repeat the past.

But I have done it. And I would do all of it- all of the hurt of the past, relive it all, to be in this skin now.

Love is not easy to find. And it is not easy to keep. It is work, a constant state of compromise and revision of self. It is putting others before you. It is sacrificing for the good of the whole.

Yes, I have been trashed. I have been forgotten and tossed away. I have seen the turned back, the empty eyes, the raised hand. I have been bloodied. I have run away on legs that hurt, with a heart screaming "Please just love me! I am all ALONE!"

I have now, in my arms and heart, the things my own parents never had. A strong marriage, children whose needs are put first, a safe haven from the world. I have a family and loneliness is not something I carry today.

But because I remember, and because I carry just enough of the girl I was, I don't forget.

I have been trashed. But I have also always been treasured- rescued by the One who knows all and sees all- the One who reaches past and reaches higher than I ever could.

And that is enough.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Head shrinker

Yesterday I had my first psyc evaluation for the surgery.

I was nervous, but my aunt and Mark sent me off with a cheerful- "If you aren't back in 2 hours we will assume they threw you into the looney bin!"

Loving support. It's essential.

*huge eye roll*

So I walked into the office with paperwork in hand- 17 pages of paperwork.

I was shown back into my therapists office.

She was beautiful and skinny. I wanted to hate her.

But she was also funny and kind and sweet. So I had to like her.I hate it when that happens.

We talked alot about my history with weight, how long I have struggled with it- 23 years- and what my goal weight will be after surgery.

I said 160-170.

She nodded, but looked me dead in the eye and said- "You know you may lose more than that."

Well, no. I hadn't considered that. I don't know what losing that much weight would actually feel like.

How will I fit in my skin? What will I wear? How will I look? It will still be me, but will I look like me?

She also pointed out that I may get some very unwelcome attention from men.

I hadn't considered that either.

Being fat is isolating. It keeps people, especially men, from paying much attention to me.

And if I begin to get comments it's really gonna piss me off. If just the fact that I am slimmer makes men think they can then comment on my looks, I am gonna end up punching somebody in the mouth.

Well not really. I won't punch them. But I will definitely think about it.

I also had to take the most random psych test ever on the computer. True/false. 165 strange questions. So far that has been the most painful part of this experience.

So. We are down to one more psych appointment, and 2 dietician classes before I have my final appt with the doc.

One down, 4 to go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sing, sing, sing...

My precious girl had her Christmas program today.

It was lovely, and funny, and sweet. I could barely see her through my tears.

And I wondered as I sat and watched and discreetly wiped my eyes- why does the sight of these little souls make me so emotional?

Because the songs they are singing are about my Savior. The One I know, the One I love, the One who saved me.

My path to Him has been quite broken, carved from rock and stone, wet with tears, trod with heavy feet and a heavier soul.

But these little ones- my sweet little girl up there singing- they are singing for the glory of a God they know and do not doubt. Their songs are pure, coming from a place of the most glorious worship- a place of belief.

Their hearts are open to the words they sing- "Silent Night, Holy Night..." Their minds find the wonder of the nativity, of the birth of the Christ child, lying calm and peaceful in the stable. They see Him in pictures, and hear about him in song, and to them he is as real as we are.

The room for doubt has not entered their lives yet. The cynicism we carry as adults is absent. It is pure innocent love, these little voices lifted to their heavenly father.

To be that trusting again...

We are to have faith like a child. But the world sometimes speaks louder than God does. His is a quiet form of communication. You have to be very still to hear Him. But the world, the world shrieks at us day after day, drowning out the whisper of the One we are longing to hear from.

But my daughter listens to that still small voice. There is room in her heart not taken up with the cares of adult life. There is room in her soul for God to sing.

And sing she did, today. Loud and with her whole heart.

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little lord Jesus lay down his sweet head..."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sponsored by saltines and rum

Apparently I am sick.

I have been fighting it for days, because that's what I do. I tell my body to suck it up and ignore the impending doom set to crush me like an anvil to the head.

Yesterday my body ached and my throat was that rare mix of scratchy and fire-ridden. I applied enough Vitamin C to kill a small horse.

I woke up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat. Drenched. Lovely, right?

So this morning it was no surprise that I felt like a truck had run me over. The promptly backed over me..then run me over again.

My entire body hurts- from my hair to my toe joints.

My throat is no longer scratchy, but my stomach has joined the cause and is rioting to rival the wall street protesters.

It is preeeeetyyyyy. Lemme tell you.

So, I do what most moms do. I spent the morning getting on with it until I collapsed in a heap around noon. I asked Mark for help- something I rarely do in the middle of a workday.

I then took to my bed and tried to read but the words make me feel all gnarly and swimmy and the world spins when I look around too much.

So mostly it's me and my computer, cuddled up like a honeymoon couple.

If a honeymoon included digestion noises never heard of before and lots of moaning. Well, pain induced moaning.

Errrmmmm. Moving on.

Anywho, why am I telling you this? Because I can. And because according to WebMD I am close to death.

So my last wishes:

Make sure Lily gets my jewelry. Not now, but when she is, like, 20. As long as she is a amature 20 and won't hock it to buy a tattoo or run away with a dude named Biff.

She can have it when she's 30.

Make sure Sam doesn't join the cast of Jackass too soon into his sure to be illustrious daredevil career.

Make sure mark remarries. In like 10 years. And make sure she is hideous but good with the children. And that she can take care of wood floors...because God knows I can't.

I am requesting "Dancing Queen" be played 5 times at my funeral. At 70 decibels. And make sure the speaker is right next to Mark.

My sewing machine should go to somebody who loves to sew. Wait... It should go to somebody who loves me and will include it in a wall sized shrine to me. Complete with airbrushed pictures of me looking daunting and skinny.

Every year on my birthday, you should drink a head sized pumpkin milkshake in my memory.

Tell the girl at the gym that we all know she's cute. She doesn't have to wear cut off t-shirts and "Juicy" shorts to prove it. One day she is going to give one of the older men a coronary.

Tell Santa I suspect he isn't real.

And now, on with the sickness and groaning and gnashing of teeth.

Goodbye, cruel world.

Or, see ya tomorrow. Ya know, whatevs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I have been fat since I was 10. I fell, broke my ankle, and discovered sweets all at the same time. It took me one summer to become addicted to sugar.

I ate every feeling I had from then on, burying it under candy, chocolate, cookies, sweets...anything. It comforted me in the midst of some supremely uncomfortable circumstances.

I was chubby all through my teens, leaning out a few times when food was scarce or rantioned from me.

But I always went back to sugar.

I ate through a terrible marraige- stuffing pasta and sweets through a bruised and bleeding mouth far too many times.

I never exercised. I never played sports.

I can tell you that I utterly ruined myself. Without question the body I am sitting in today is of my own creation.

But seven years ago I began to change everything. My eating changed, my habits changed, and I discovered the feeling exercise can give- that rush of endorphins, the heady sense of accomplishment.

I worked out every single day before my wedding. I woke up at 5, got to the gym, busted my butt for 2 hours, and went to work.

And I never got below 200 pounds. I was toned and fit and had the stamina of a teenager, but I was still fat.

My eating morphed more and more into healthy mode- chicken, veggies, fish, fruit.

I never lost a pound.

I got pregnant with my daughter. I walked all through my pregnancy. I got diabetes. I ate nothing but cheese and veggies the last 3 months before she was born.

I weighed 232 the day I gave birth to her.

I joined Stroller Strides.

I busted my butt.

I never lost a pound.

My bp has always been an issue, and it rose steadily until I switched meds. Then it would be good for a few months, and go through the roof again.

I got pregnant with Sam. I avoided gestation diabetes through diet and exercise. I gained no weight with him. The day I delivered Sam I was 208.

I nursed him, I exercised, I ate well.

I have been exercising consistently since he was born.

My weight has climbed to where I was when I delivered Lily.

Now, alot of people will say they eat well. Many people will say they exercise vigorously. But they don't.


I have been to 6 doctors in the past 6 years. I have been vegan, done Weight Watchers, juice fasts, eaten nothing but fruit for days. I am up to doing cardio for one hour everyday, maintaining a bpm of 150-170 the entire time. I lift weights every day. I eat less than most people I know.

But here I am. In this body.

And I hate what I see in the mirror. I cry at the sight of my stomach and my thighs. I have broken down in dressing rooms, in bathrooms during parties, in bed next to my husband.

I hate my body. And I am trapped in it, despite my efforts.

I want to be a runner. But at this weight, my ankles and feet hurt so badly I can't walk the next day. I want to be able to run after my kids. I want to look into the mirror and smile.

I want to walk Lily down the aisle at her wedding. I want to watch Sam play pro football. I want to BE THERE for them.

And at this weight, with my blood pressure creeping up, I won't be.

I WILL develop diabetes. I may have heart disease. I may stroke out. I may leave my children when they need me.

And I cannot do that. I can't. I cannot do what was done to me.


In the next few months I will be having gastric bypass.

And yes, I know. I don't look like people who typically have it. My BMI is barely on the cusp of making me a candidate.

But I can say to you today, with total honesty and transparency, that I have tried everything else. Everything. I am doing all of the right things, but not getting the health results I am looking for.

It is surgery. There are inherent risks. But the risk of me carrying 100 extra pounds for the rest of my life is much much riskier.

It is painful. Recovery can be hard. I am ready to face that head on, so that 20 years from now, I am still standing at my childrens side.

I am not looking for a quick fix, or an easy fix. After all, what can be easy about major surgery? What can be easy about turning your stomach into the size of an egg, having only clear liquids for weeks, and getting incredibly sick if you eat the wrong thing?

There is nothing easy about not being able to eat sweets ever again, or to radically change my relationship with food.

I am not doing this because I dont want to exercise. I am not doing it because I need something extreme to make me eat differently.

I am doing it because I have no other choice. It is THIS, or diseases with a hugh mortality rate 10 years from now.

And I am refusing to go anywhere. I will be here for my children. I will be here for my husband. If it takes surgery, pain, and recovery to do that, so be it.

My blood will never be spilled for something greater.

I could hide this. I could not tell anyone. I considered it strongly. There is alot of shame in admitting that you cannot conquer your own body.But I have done the hard work to get here- this is just one more tool to help me achieve my goal of being healthy for the rest of my life.

And,I am going to take you with me. I am going to write about it. Because, after all, you have been with me through everything. Through birth and death and depression and joy and a thousand discoveries.

Here's another path we can walk together. Care to join me?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I have this friend.

She is so awesome. And cute. And sweet. And skinny. And smart. So I wanna hate her.

But instead I love her.

And she is having a baby.

Her second.

I was there when she found out for sure.

We squealed and hugged and cried and jumped around together.

She looked at me through joyful tears as she held the pregnancy test and said "Oh my gosh I am freaking out!"

And I knew what she meant.

Cause I've been there.

There are so many things I want to tell her. A thousand pieces of advice I want to give.

But the truth is, we all have to figure it out on our own. How to be a mother to more than one.

It is a sacred thing, this opening of a mother's heart. It comes in waves during pregnancy, between the busy-ness of caring for your older child and anticipating the one to come. There is less time for reflection or daydreaming about what life will be like with another baby because you are busy with your first. Time flies.

And then they are there. And you look at them and your heart just doubles in size. And within a few spare moments, it is as if there was never a moment they weren't there with you, or a part of your family.

It is amazing and wondrous.

You will watch your children meet and you will cry because it is your dream made flesh, right before you. You will watch your older child kiss your newborn and your heart will burst.

You will lie in bed with your hand on the baby in the bassinet and listen to the other one on the monitor and you will smile at the wonder that is your life.

You will nurse the baby while making lunch for the other. You will hold both in the rocker and read. You will hug them both while they cry and then cry yourself.

And there will be a day when you will be tired and frustrated and you will look at them both and think you are not good enough for either one. You will wonder if you can do this. You will be beside yourself and the day will seem endless.

But it's not. It's not endless. And you ARE good enough.

You will look at both of your children together one day, and they will be playing side by side, in that sweet silent companionship that can only be shared by someone of your own blood. You will watch them and know that long after you are gone, they will have each other. You have given them a profound gift- a companion for life.

Being a mom of two is a huge transition. It means less rest, more noise, more chaos. But by God's grace it also means doubled joy and laughter. It means your family is one bigger, one stronger. It means you grow as a mother, as a child of God, and as a person.

It is another step on the journey of parenting, one that is momentous and huge- and so so worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

St Mary

Shades of gray lie stroked by the winter sunshine. Wooden pews lined like soldiers, gleaming with lavender oil, creaking with age. The granite altar lies bare of ornament. There is no sound but my breathing. No color but from the windows, stained with pictures in garish colors.

She stands. Veiled in marble. Face soft and peaceful. Feet bare and elegant against her pedestal.

She is the essence of all I long for.

Her presence is a soft as a whisper, as loud as my heartbeat.

I bow my head, and I FEEL her. The smell of roses fill the air. Her veil makes a velvet sound as her arms come around my small and cold form.

She is. I know this, as much as I know I have hands. She is.

I have felt her since I could know love. I have seen her against the back of my closed eyelids countless times.

She has led me, haltingly and with terror, to God.

She has slipped my small and bloodstained hand, my ragged edged fingers, my perfectly manicured nails, my bare knuckles, my wedding ringed hand...all into His.

She has cradled me, held me, and wept with me.

She has seen me deny my belief. She has seen me turn my back.

And still she comes into my dreams of blood and screaming and brings the scent of roses.

She is at my back as I pray. She bows her head with mine.

She has watched as the void of mother has been filled by earthly women- Aunt, friends, mother in law.

She has always been the balm to my wounded child's heart.

Many nights I still dream of her. I walk, barefooted into a grotto of stone. Roses grow wild along every surface. It is twilight. My heart aches like an animal trapped in my chest. I long for things I don't even know have words. The deepest of primal things. The most sacred of bonds.

I long for mother.

And she is there. I run. I become smaller as I take each step, until I am Lily's age.

She does not smile. She only stares into my eyes. I feel known. I feel tears, hot and terrible at the knowing.

And after she looks at me, after she sees all that I am- every mistake and lie and sin, she opens her arms.

She wraps me in her arms and veil. I am encompassed by the oldest and deepest love I have ever known. One that recognizes that in the end I am only that small girl, staring up into her marble likeness and weeping bitter salt upon her feet.

Her head arcs into mine, placed softly onto my own. She rocks.

And when it is over, the tears and the need for her, she stands and takes my hand.

And together we go to God.

"O Mary, mystic rose, whose lovable heart, burning with the living fire of love, adopted us as thy children at the foot of the Cross, becoming thus our most tender Mother, make me experience the sweetness of thy motherly heart and the power of thine intercession with Jesus, in all the dangers that beset me during life, and especially at the dread hour of my death; in such wise may my heart be ever united to thine, and love Jesus both now and through endless ages. Amen "
Prayer of Intercession to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Monday, October 31, 2011

A rant.

I am annoyed. Extremely.

By this sign. Yeah, that seeimgly innocous saying.

A saying that I am supposed to look at and say- "Well good for you. You put your kids before the housework. Your house is a mess but your k ids are all smiles. Awesome."

I call BS.

My job is my kids, yes. But my job is also my house. Because that is the environment they live in.

Isn't part of being a good mom making sure their home is clean? That they lay their heads on clean sheets, bathe in a clean tub, wear clean clothes? That they eat from a clean kitchen?

They are not mutually exclusive. They can go together, and do, in this house.

Ring my bell. Come into my home. You will see that it is clean. Not perfect, but clean. There are a few crumbs and dishes and laundry in the dryer. There is dog hair on the floor and markers and cars scattered throught.

But no sticky floors. No dirty oven. No messy kitchen.

And where are my kids when I am cleaning? Playing. By themselves. *gasp* Or watching a movie. By themselves. *double gasp*

You know what else? Taking the time to clean makes me a better mom. I can THINK better in my house when it is picked up and clean. I am happier and calmer. I can give more of myself to my children.

So, I am a good mom with happy kids. And my house is really clean. Because that is my JOB, and I am good at making time for both.

And if you have sticky floors, and a messy kitchen, that's FINE. But don't assume that just because my house is immaculate I am neglecting my kiddos.

Rant over.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The Kansas sky rolls by the window, blue shot with heavy gray clouds. I press my face against the seat, my back to the shallow murmurs in front of me. I can hear my belongings rattling in the trunk, my clothes still on hangers, my stereo braced tight against a suitcase filled with pictures.

My tears fall freely at times, and then dry up with no warning. I have no control anymore of when they come.

The car slides left, pulls to a stop. I hear my brother get out and open my door.

"Hey, sis. We are making a pit stop. Need anything?"

I shake my head. I feel weightless and burdened all at once.

He looks off into the distance, his jaw twitching. His blue eyes tell more than his words ever could.

He doesn't know what to say to me. I don't know what I want to hear.

My skin still holds the mark of her hands. My shoulder aches from blows. My skin is stretched tight over a body that doesn't know how to move without remembering. My mind has leveled out and shut down.

I want to scream. I want to never talk again.

I have nowhere to go. I am at the mercy of whatever family member draws the short straw to rescue me from my mother again.

This time it is Troy who stands where others have stood.

I cannot make words come. I cannot say anything other than "Thank you.", words that seems so small against the sacrifice of driving hundreds of miles, leaving your own children behind, to rescue your sister from foster care. Again.

I am ashamed. I am broken.

He closes the door softly, and walks away with his shoulder hunched against the wind.

I look out from the window. The words lie like sleeping dogs in my mind-

"Where are you, God?"

Just a week ago I had been to church. I had sat in sunday school with other 14 year olds. I was told God was like the wind- an unseen force. I had rolled my eyes like everyone else but in my mind I prayed it was true.


But real.

I step out of the car, watching only my battered shoes as they carry me across pavement into grass and brush. I look up into a sky as wide as any I have seen. The blue stretches end to end over me. The wind buffets me, pushing my clothing aside, pulling my hair to hide my face.

"I can't do this God. I don't know where I belong."

The wind pushes harder against me, pulling me front to back. Dust swirls.

"If you are here, if you are real, show me. Help me to know."

From the distant highway it rose up. Taller than me, clouded in swirls.


It rushed to me, covering me there on that lonely place. Coating me with grit and dirt.
It made my eyes sting, made me cough.

I got back in the car.

My tongue found lips coated in dust. My figers held it in their grooves. My hair was pearly gray with it.

Proof of wind. Proof of the unseen, seen. Seen and felt.

My eyes ran with more than dust as the wind rolled by my window.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What I know.

Here's what I know for sure about parenting:

I don't know how to be a mother, but I am a good one anyway.

My kids will not always act perfectly, and I will be "that mom" with the screaming kid in the store alot, but it is not going to define me as a mother. I am more than that moment. And you are too.

I can love them and still screw them up. But I keep trying to do better.

I am not my mother, and I NEVER WILL BE.

I set the tone for this household. When mama is happy, kids are happy. I set the tone, and I need to always remember that. It's up to me.

Laundry piles up. Never skip a day.

Wine is good, but tea is better. And sleep is best.

The cure for a meltdown is compassion. Yes, they need to console themselves, but they can do that just as easily in my arms as out.

I must ALWAYS apologize when I have wronged my children. Sincerely and with eye contact.

It's okay to cry in front of my kids.

Laughing, wrestling, and acting like fools is required.

Sometimes the most powerful thing I can give my kids is love, because it is hard to understand a 2 year olds desperate need for a spatula and an oven mitt RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW.

Occasionally they will confound me (a spatula, really, this is something to have a kicking screaming meltdown over?) but I will still always know them better than anyone else.

If there is ever any question, the answer is love. And chocolate. And wine.


The Jar

In my home. In my room. Next to where I lay my head each night.

It sits. Encased in glass and filled with rounded stones.

Each stone marked with a name. A name that means loss. A name that is treasured. A name that is honored, in this small way.

The babies we lost have no grave marker. They have not been buried. Their bodies did not recieve last rites.

But they were mourned. And they are loved. And they are remembered.

I cannot say why this happens to us. I do know that God knows much more of the picture than I do, and that my loss is in His plan. But this is sometimes very cold comfort to my heart.

I don't believe you ever get over the loss of a baby. I know that in my life, I have absorbed the loss. It has become part of me. One that I speak of openly. I love my Joshua. He is still part of our family. He is a part of my story as a mother.

The face of pregnancy and infant loss cannot be pictured. It is the 60 year old nurse holding my hand and crying with me as I have an ultrasound searching for a heartbeat. It is the young mother with 2 small children that still remembers the one who came before the ones she now holds. It is a grandmother mourning for her unborn grandchild. It is the husband holding his sobbing wife.

It has no face, the loss, because it is everyone of us. We are all touched by it.

So whether the loss is openly worn, or something quiet and secret in the heart, it still exists.

In my house, in my room, is a jar. It holds the names of the babies my friends have carried and lost. It is my way of remembering not just mine, but also yours. It is a tangible reminder of the unseen little one I still hold in my soul.

(If you have lost a baby, and want me to remember your baby with you, please leave a comment with the name of your lost one, and I will add them to my jar.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pass or fail.

I am so tired. Not physically, but mentally.

I am tired of grading myself all of the time.

House not perfectly clean- fail.

Kids eating a Happy Meal for dinner- fail.

Kids watching too much tv- fail.

Eating too many cookies- fail.

Not being thinner- fail.

Wanting to nap instead of do laundry- fail.

Not being as fun/sexy/cute as I used to be for my husband- fail.

I am exhausted. EXHAUSTED.

I have good kids. I have a good husband. I know this. And I know I put alot of myself into these relationships- but it just never feels like enough.

There's not enough of myself to have anything left for myself.

I am so weary. I love my life. I am SO blessed. But at times, I feel deeply burdened by it all.

And that is a huge failure to me.

What is wrong with me, that I cannot see anything beyond the failures?

I look at my beautiful clean house and only see the laundry waiting to be folded. I look at my sweet happy kids and only see the messy face or the stained clothing.

I need to learn to LOOK BEYOND what I see.

To see that my daughter is loved not just by me, but by everyone. Because she is sensitive and nurturing and kind. - Success

That my son is strong and fearless and loving.- success

That my relationship with my husband is close and safe and we laugh ALOT.- success

That the time I would normally take making my house spotless is much better spent wrestling with Sam or coloring with Lily. -success

I don't know how other moms see themselves. I don't know if anyone else struggles with this. But I DO know that we are always our own worst critics. And what I can say about that is maybe we need to look at ourselves as God sees us.

He sees our heart. He sees our struggle to BE all TO all. He knows that at the heart and center of our lives are the children he gave us. I also believe that the internal dialogue berating myself for the unwashed dish or the piled up laundry makes Him sad.

So today is a day for changing. For loving on my kids and letting the house come in a distant second. For not pretending to be perfect. For not acting as if I have it all together. For being myself- with all of my flawed thinking- and knowing that as long as my kids and husband feel loved, I am doing the best job I can.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A trip to the grocery store with Mark

Me- *points silently to the bananas already in cart*
Mark- Oh.

Mark- Oooooooo pancetta. Salami! Oooooo copocolla.
Me- We are getting HAM.
Mark- But...
Me- HAM!And lowfat cheese.
Mark- %$%^$#^&*(*$##%^&&*

Aisle 3:
Me- This chicken stock is less expensive. Let's get this one.
Mark- But it sucks.
Me- It doesn't suck, it just has no sodium.
Mark- Yeah, that sucks.
Me- I am trying to keep you HEALTHY!
Mark- I won't eat food that sucks. Sodium rules.

Aisle 5:
Me, consulting list and flyer-Okay, let's pick 4 cereals.
Mark looks up from his armful of Corn Pops, Apple Jacks, and Frosted Flakes.
Me- Oooookay. Now let's pick one for you and me.
Mark- *holds up a box of Apple Jacks* Duh!
Me- No way. Those are loaded with sugar.
Mark- They are healthy,see? APPLE jacks. APPLES.
Me- *sighs and takes down a box of bran buds*

Aisle 7:
Me- Lean Cuisines are on sale.
Mark- Let's get some.
Me- Dude, I will. But you have to promise me you won't eat them with Doritos.
Mark- Sorry, that's how I roll. I'm a foodie.
Me- Forget it.
Mark- Look, Hungry Man dinners. A GOOD sized portion.
Me- And an assload of sodium and fat.
Mark- And your point?

Aisle 9:
Me: Okay, help me pick out some frozen waf- Ummm honey?
Mark: Wha?
Me: Can you please stop licking the glass in front of the pizza rolls and help me?
Mark: No. I need a moment.

This has been grocery time with Bella. Tune in next week when hopefully I will be smart enough NOT to take my husband. Ahem.

Freaking Out!

I hate being sick. With a passion.

Well, not true actually. I hate the kinda sick where you can do NADA. Like just lay on the couch kinda sick.

And it's not because I feel bad, or because I am not well taken care of.

It's because I AM NOT IN CONTROL.

I am a serious control freak. About everything house and children related. I need to be in charge of it all.

And when I can't be it makes me nutso.

I love my husband. He is VERY good at jumping in and taking care of things on the few times I go down. He cooks, takes care of the kids, cleans up, etc.

But he doesn't do it my way. He does it HIS WAY.

And yesterday we had an arguement about it. I was annoyed with the way he did something. I told him. He very politely told me to stuff it.

He was right. (ouch) So I did. (double ouch)

And I thought about it alot. Why am I like this? Why the constant need to have everyone and everything under my thumb? MY way or the highway.

It's NOT an endearing quality, I assure you.

If the floor is dirty, I obsess over it. If the laundry is not caught up on, I cannot sleep. If the sinks have not been sanitized, I WILL scrub them at 3 in the morning. And I have NO CLUE why I am like this. It can't be much fun to live with.

So, friends, is anybody else rowing this same boat? Cause I kinda feel like a freak. A control freak, that is. Ahem.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


We have had an emotional couple of days around here.

Little miss has been alternatively sad, tearful, upset, withdrawn, and quiet.

Too quiet.

Yesterday we went to the park. She rode her bike. Halfway through she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said "I'm sorry mommy, but my legs hurt." She then began crying.

I was torn. Do I encourage her to keep going so she can experience success? Or do I stop her, sit down on the cold pavement, and hold her?

I wanted to hold her. But I told her to keep going.

She did. She made it. But she cried the whole way.

The way home was way worse. She made it, again, with tears the whole way.

And in my heart I just kept praying..."Lord, be near to her. Be in her heart. Encourage her not to give up when things are hard. Help her to know it is so so worth it when you finish."

When we came home, I went to hug her and she stepped away.

"Mommy, I just want to go to my room and be alone."

I was floored. She has never ever not allowed me to comfort her.

I let her go, watching her through my own tears.

I sat just outside the doorway of her room, listening to my baby girl cry.

And my insides felt as if they would burst. My heart was in my throat. My own tears fell.

Soon the sounds of crying subsided.

I went to prepare dinner as I waited for her to come out.

And when she did, she was still tearful, but strong.

"I'm okay now mommy."

And she was.

This morning she was fragile. Quiet again.

I drove her to school, looking back at her a few times. She was staring out the window.

And my heart just wrenched...wondering- is this the point then? Is this where biology takes over and she becomes unstable and depressive? Is this when the bad cells I have passed to her make themselves known?

And if so, I will trample the world and anyone in it to make her better again. To make her soul and body a place she can live in with comfort. I will stand between her and whatever this is. I will take it on for her, and never stop until she is well.

I armed myself for battle in those minutes. I strengthened myself against feelings of self hatred for passing this monster into the sweetness of my girl's soul.

And then she spoke.

"Yes love?"
"I was having a bad day yesterday."
"But today the sun is shining in my heart."

She got out of the car at school. I watched as she ran onto the playground. She stood for a few long seconds, pressed against the blue sky and the bright sun. Her back was to me.

Was she uncertain? Was she sad? Was she worried?

I prepared to get out of the car to check.

And she turned toward me, eyes lighting up as she saw a friend. They latched hands and ran toward the bright sun, laughter like music from their lips.

And God whispered into the dark recesses of my thoughts:

"Go. I am with her."

And I did.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The diff

Here's the dif between men and women in a nutshell.

This is what I need to hang a new bulletin board in the hallway:

hammer (or a shoe if the hammer is too far away)
Diet Coke
10 minutes

This is what my husband needs to hang a new bulletin board:

15 diff size nails
tape measure
a wide variety of new and interesting curse words
45 minutes

The result: exactly the same.


Friday, September 30, 2011


I have this friend.

I sat across from her tonight at dinner while she ran herself down.

And my heart broke a little.

Because she is so utterly amazing.

She makes me smile just by being herself. She makes me laugh until I pee. She is kind and thoughtful. And she is beyond loyal.

And the things she runs herself down for...God they are just...nothing. Small. Insignificant in the amazingness that is her.

Nothing to ME, but huge to her.

And I wish I could tell her without crying how amazing she is. And how much I adore her. And how she fills this place in my life that I didn't know was so very empty.

And how wonderful of a mother she is. So thoughtful and so conscious of her words and deeds. How loving and protective.

She is amazing. She is wonderful. And I adore her and love her.

But I can't convince her. I can't make her see because she has been conditioned to think that her small flaws are WHO SHE IS.

And they are so not. Not even remotely.

She is gorgeous. She is somebody I can call at 3 in the morning. She is THERE. No matter what.

So how do I tell her these things, and how do I make her see what I see?

The beauty.

The intelligence.

The kindness that draws people to her.

The love she gives.

All of this is who she is...nothing else. Just these things.

God made her so beautiful. He made her perfect. And he gave her an amazing heart.

I love her so very very much.

And if she runs herself down again, I will tell her these things. No matter if it gets through or not. No matter that I can't talk through the tears that come because I can't believe she doesn't see what I see.

I wll tell her until she believes. And I will pray that God gives my words more weight than what her own mind tells her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I have nothing to say. But God is insisting I sit down and write. Even though I want to go to the fabric store. Or fill up another cup of coffee. Or pee.

But noooooooo. He's all kindsa bossy like that.

And so here I sit.

And so what can I tell you? I am currently sitting here with tissues up my nose. I have no makeup on and I smell rather funky. My stomach is sticking out and my shirt is way too tight.

I can hear my kids destroying their playroom.

But here I am Lord.


The picture of obedience. With tissues up my nose.


*twiddling thumbs*

You are afraid to be still.

Oh Lord.

Yes I am. Terrified of my own mind and what goes through it when I allow myself to rest. On a constant treadmill of go go go stay ahead of all of it.

Afraid to fail.

Afraid of being labelled lazy.

Afraid to think.

Afraid of myself and my thoughts and my own muddled imperfect mind and judgement.


Afraid of the flashbacks that come.

Afraid of failing my children

Afraid of being 100 percent who I am, because what if I fall on my face?

Oh Lord in heaven, yes yes, I am afraid to be still.

And so I sit here. With this fear.

And in the space of hitting the space bar I have had 10 thoughts.


Yes, yes Lord. I am afraid to be still.

But it is in the moments when I slow down that I can commune with God as I feel I should. When I am sewing, watching stitches line up in rows. When I am cleaning, making my world neat and orderly. When I am vacuuming or dusting or writing, I feel Him.

But the moment I stop.

It all goes nutso in my head. The chaos ratchets up. The incessant murmuring that implores me to keep going, be more, do more, see more, be better, no failing cranks up to operatic proportions and I cannot see God for my own mess. It is like trying to reach through a raging ocean to touch Him.

And I cannot calm it.

So here I am. Afraid to be still. Afraid to be.

Afraid to be.

And this is what God has wanted me to say for so long. To recognize for so long.

I am afraid to be still. And that has to change.

Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God"

Monday, September 26, 2011


I sometimes wake up with a heaviness in my body. A distinct pressure in my chest, pulling down my stomach, hanging onto my throat.

Tears threaten at any moment. My spirit is shaky.

I am fragile, and vulnerable, and easily wounded on these days.

And I am grateful for it.

I used to try and push this feeling aside, to unwind it from my mind and spirit. I used to battle it into submission. I used to hide it under food, or distract myself from it with other things.

It hasn't gotten any easier to feel, but I feel it anyway. I let it lead me down it's dark paths.

Because I have found that when I follow these feelings into the vast underground, they lead me to a place of profound sadness that TEACHES me. I sit with it. I feel it. And from this place come some of my most profound lessons.

It is where I learned to forgive my mother. Where I mourned for Joshua. Where I took my pain and bitterness over the past.

It is where I was led to relive memories long buried. It where those memories got put into a context that made my life make sense. It is where I allow myself to feel the burdens and the pain of years past, so that when I re-emerge into this world I am cleansed.

It builds up, this feeling. This inner drive to break down and let loose all of the heavy and bitter things I live with and taste everyday. It takes me back to being alone and helpless. It puts my life and my place in it into perspective.

And where I go, it is dark. It is deep. It is the well from which I draw all strength of being and purpose.

It is at the foot of the cross.

It is at the foot of the One who saved me from myself. The One who holds all of my darkness like the sacred gift it is.

It is a gift. Being wounded and harmed is a gift. It is the way to a deeper peace and know what it feels like to be in chaos.

I go to this place, I sit at His feet. I let go of all of the things that hold me up everyday. And I simply am what I am. A burdened and broken down soul.

And He lifts those things from my shoulders. He puts me back together.

And He sets me back into this life He has given me, a life he helped me hold on to.

No man on this earth can bear my burdens for me. Nobody knows what I have walked through, lived through, or seen. Nobody can know the fear and fatigue I carry within me. Nobody but Him.

Because He chose me for it. He chose me, and I chose him to help me carry it.

So today I am broken. I am sad. And it is good with me. It incites no panic, no worry.

Because I have a plaxce to take it. I have a deep and warm sanctuary to carry myself to.

The foot of the cross. At His feet.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I am not a big believer in marriage.

Really not.

I have seen very few good marriages modeled for me. I have seen very few long term healthy relationships.

I think many many people get married for the wrong reasons. For passion. For money. For love.

Yes, love.

I don't think love is a reason to get married.

Love is amazing. It feels so incredible to be loved and to love somebody. But marriage requires ten-fold more than love.

It requires tremendous patience, sacrifice, and time. It requires work. Dedication. And a commitment to see things through regardless of circumstance.

It is essential to marry somebody that you can parent beside. Somebody who you can stand next to in all situations. This is the person you will go through all of life's big events with- pregnancy, childbirth, parental death. This is the person you Will buy homes with, pay bills with, and sleep next to every night.

Love is great. Love is not enough reason to be married.

And I struggle with this daily.

I love my husband. But we don't parent the same way. We don't care about the same things.

But I have chosen to stand next to him for all time. I made a promise to God. I made a commitment to see it through.

And I will. There is no turning back for me.

And not because we are married. I am glad that we are. It was an outward ceremony for an inward choice.

A choice that had nothing to do with love or passion- and everything to do with choosing to promise to God to make a family and stand with that family for life.

Is it always happy? No.

Is it always easy. No.

But is it forever? Yes.

I have been rocked in the past week by the knowledge that a marriage close to me is ending. And it has caused me to feel by turns anxious, sad, and resigned. This is not a surprise to me. But it is difficult and makes me examine my relationship more closely.

I cannot say that I have it all figured out. I can't say that I do everything right in my relationship,or that I have any answers on how to make it last.

I can only say that the choice I made 6 years ago stands and will stand forever for me. I cannot be moved from the side of the man I chose, the man I feel God gave to me.

Even when it's difficult or challenging. Even when we are pulled apart by our lives. Even when marriages around us crumble.

He is still mine. I am still his.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Joshua Lee


Your due date is inscribed on my heart, my sweet lost little boy.

Today you would have been 2.

And I know, I know with everything in me that you still live. You live in my Savior's arms. You are watched by those who have gone before. You are held. You live in a world of no pain, no tears, and no despair.

And I know, my sweetest boy, that I will see you again. But my mother's heart is torn this day. My soul is wounded with your loss.

There is a pull between what is here and what is not- after all, without losing you I would not have Sam. But my arms still ache to have held you, just once. To have kissed your forehead. To have whispered to you to wait for me, and one day, I will come to you.

Even without the tangible remembrance of you in my arms, I still feel you. I watched as everyday a creature would come and sit on your resting place. I watched as butterflies flitted about your statue. And now every time I see a butterfly I think of you, and say hello to your little soul.

And now, Lily does the same- shouting out "Hello baby Joshua!" each time a butterfly passes by. It heals me, this knowing that in some small way, you are remembered.

We were in church yesterday, and the pastor spoke of trauma, saying it was not something you get over, but something that you absorb. And I finally had words for what I feel. I will never be over you. But you, my sweet one, are absorbed into every single fiber of my being. You are remembered in my soul.

I carry you far longer in my heart than I did in my body. And I love you more than words can say.

One day...


Sunday, September 11, 2011



The day after.

When everything fell apart, but remarkably everyone held together.

As a people, as a country.

Everything changed in a way that cannot be formed into words. There is not language for such loss. There is no articulation for such devastation.

There is just tears. Tears that create images and words that come from a deeper place than language can go. Tears that fall freely, but do not cleanse this away.

We cannot cleanse the blood that was spilled. We cannot undo the lost lives, the fatherless children, the motherless babies. We cannot undo the scattered ash of a thousand bodies or the terror of the hours afterward. We cannot go back.

But we must remember.

We must remember those that died. Those that jumped. Those that rushed in when everyone else rushed out. Those that picked up a phone in a burning room and spoke the words that will never be forgotten. Those that called out to God and felt His presence as they stepped between the doorway of here and heaven. And those that waited for the call that did not come. Those who went to sleep in a bed far too empty. Those who have lived with the void that was created.

We must remember that day.

But I want to live in 9-12. A day when it didn't matter what religion you were- because you prayed anyway. When it didn't matter who your neighbor was- because you went to them and spoke to them. When you called your loved ones and your words were like a waterfall...quenching and unstoppable. When you lived in the moment of not knowing what the future was. Is it your turn next? When will the next plane come? Will it be you this time?

And if so, what do you believe? And who do you love? And what is important?

So live this day as you did THAT day. Give with everything in you. Pray without ceasing. Go out into the world with a profound sense of dedication to unity. Give of yourself. Speak the words that you have kept caged. Live as if it were your last day.

And mostly, love those around you. Give freely of your words and affection. Say the things that must be said.

Do these things for those that died on 911. So that their deaths have meaning and purpose that stretch into our world, even today.

10 years later.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life breaks

In this world, we are acquainted with pain. People hurt us.

Life circumstances break us.

Who can we turn to when life is too much for our human heart?

I wrote about it over at (in)courage today. You can read it here.

Much love to you today, friend.

35 and 350

This is my 350th post. It seems sooooo crazy, but there it is. 350 times I have sat down and put my heart to page. It seems only fitting that this falls on the week of my 35th birthday!

Speaking of, my husband threw me a sweet surprise party on Saturday. There was great food, great friends, and alot of laughter. Not a bad way to start off this new year of life!

I can't wait to see what 35 brings.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Three Five

On Saturday, I will turn 35.


I am officially in my mid-thirties. Ten years away from 25. Halfway to death.


However, as I was thinking about this and praying over my feelings on turning 35, God pointed something out. I, of course, wanted to wallow in my old lady status, but He forced me to see things differently.

Sometimes He can be so bossy.

He told me to look around. Really look around. Away from MY feelings of getting older, and into my life as it is.

And what I realized is that I may be turning 35, but I am exactly where I want to be.

Right here, in this time of my life, I am living a dream.

Two children. A man that I have been crazy in love with for nearly 10 years. An existence comfortable enough to bring contentment, but with enough rough edges to keep me changing and evolving.

I am comfortable in my own skin. I LIKE myself. I like who I am. My heart is nearly always in the right place. I try at all times to be kind. I love fiercely. But I have enough flaws to keep myself constantly trying to be better. I make HUGE mistakes, but I try to learn from them.

I am reaching a point of loving being healthy and eating right, and loving to exercise, but to also come to terms with my roundness. To accept that I am in this body that doesn't change. And that it is okay. This has been a huge life struggle, and I feel the battle just...ending. On my terms. And that feels awesome.

I am a mother. I work at it. I am not the best mom, but I am not the worst. My kids are happy. They love each other. My daughter is kind and compassionate and ohemgee dramatic. My son is...oh boy. He is awesome and busy and wild. And I love them more than I could have ever imagined. I never for one second take for granted their love for me. I know what that love costs them, and I will never fail to return it in spades.

My husband is my best friend. There is nothing I don't tell him and nothing I cannot say. We laugh to the point of peeing. He is my first thought when I am hurt or upset. He loves me and shelters me and has never once failed me. He is my soul mate. And, he is super hunky. :)

I have great friends. Awesome, loving, kind and giving friends. We laugh. We cry. We love each others kids. It is a huge blessing.

I have a family that I have created from scratch. Patched together and ragged, but still whole and perfect.

I am at a place that the 25 year old me never ever would have imagined. I think about that girl, lonely and sad under the Nebraska sky. I remember her crying herself to sleep, wondering if this was all life was. I remember the hopelessness and the bone deep feeling of being utterly trapped by circumstance. And if I could I would go back to that girl and whisper to her of this life that holds more riches and love than she ever could have imagined. I would tell her to just hold on.

So. Thirty-five. It is more than a number or an age. It is a place marker, where I can look back at my life and say- This, THIS is where my life turned from dream into reality. This is when I was living a life I did not deserve. It's where I take a step back and thank God for what I have been given. For the love He blesses me with. For the circle of people I get to go through life with.

Thirty five is awesome.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Have you ever watched your children on a carousel? Watched their faces light up with joy while you stand aside and watch?

That's kind of like what parenting is like when you have not been parented. It's watching your children experience life in a way that you never have. It is being separated from them in something so basic and fundamental that it is the basis of your whole adult life.

In this house, and in our family, I sometimes feel very much the outsider. I am the only one here, in these walls, that does not know family as a safe place. I don't know mom or dad as a word of safety or shelter. I have never run to my parents for advice, for love, for strength. I envy them this feeling of a broad sense of love. Of a depth and breadth to the world of those who care deeply for you. They have so much more than I have ever had, and I don't begrudge them of it, but I can say that at times it makes me feel very much alone.

My mother's picture hangs on the wall. My daughter has no idea who she is. My father sits in a lonely nursing home. He's never met Sam, and Lily doesn't remember him. My communication with him is stilted and one sided.

My husband's parent's voices are as familiar in this house as my own. They call daily. The children know them, have spent time with them, and love them fiercely. And as my husband says, they are my family now. I believe that. But the knowledge does not heal.

I can't explain how I feel in the moments when Sam and Lily talk to their grandparents. I feel ashamed that mine cannot and will not do the same. I feel joy that my children are so loved. I feel small and pained and...broken. I feel pitiful, and hate myself for the feeling.

I don't want to be envious of what Mark and my children have. I want to be happy for them. And I am, in many ways. But sometimes it feels as if they are in a great boat leaving harbor, and I am skirting their path on the shore, waving and calling. We are all going the same direction, and to the same place, but having two very different experiences.

This nis a daily challenge for me- to parent in a way that I can be proud of. To give of myself in ways that I was never shown. I am making it up as I go along, with no road map and no manual. And I feel as if I have done a decent job muddling through most times.

But there are days like today. When the aftermath of a hurricane pulls through, and phone calls fly back and forth. None for me. And when the computer shows faces that smile and my children wave and sing and smile back- but none of those faces are my family. Days when I feel like the ground after the storm- wasted, littered, and overwhelmed.

Days when I put pen to paper to write a letter to my father, while the voices of my husband's parents call out through the phone into the walls of my house, striking me at just how different our experiences of life are and always will be.

So I will walk along the shore while those I love take a different journey, and see the way in a different light. But I will be grateful for the glimpses I get of their path, and of their lives with a circle of family much broader than my own. I will watch, I will call, I will wave, and I will try to be at peace with my viewpoint here, on a different land.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Magic of Belief

I watch my daughter's face light up as she sees magic. Her kind of magic- a princess castle poised against a blue sky, a mermaid she loves come to abrupt life, singing a song she knows by heart. I watch her face as she sees these things, things to her that are beyond imagining, things to me that are no secret. I know the force behind the magic, the very real human effort to make the unreal, real.

But she believes. In princesses. In a giant mouse that sings and dances. In characters that make no sense to my adult mind.

And I think about this magic. This created joy, this manufactured feeling. How do I get her face to light up this way at the idea of God? At the idea of Jesus, who saves and loves and gives?

How do I manufacture faith or belief? How do I teach her that the real magic of this world lies in the hands of One who loves her more than words can express?

How do I show her that the beauty of a tree in fall flourish is just as magical as a princess come to life?

How do I explain that the love she shows her brother is the extension of the love God puts into her tiny perfect soul?

It is the biggest mission of my life. It is the hardest as well.

I think about how I came to faith, and I cannot pinpoint the moment it crossed from being an idea to being a reality. I cannot find that moment when God's hand became so real to me I could feel it guiding me. It just...was. And still is.

I live my spiritual life quietly, praying in silence. I fold my hands and sit but rarely, instead carrying on a constant dialogue with God in my mind. I speak to Him as I fold laundry, as I cook, as I play with the kids. It is as it has always been, and I know no other way.

So how will she know? I want her to know. I want her to feel the peace and the fierce joy that comes with knowing you are more than just you. That you are deeply and intimately connected to a world that lies like a vast underground, deep and hidden, but very real. I want her to be rooted firmly into faith that quiets all of her ragged thoughts, and soothes all of her fears.

It is magic, this knowledge. It is beyond anything I could ever imagine. It is deeper and stronger than anything I could speak of. I want to give it to her more than anything else.

I have to rely on her ability to see clearly into me. Her perceptiveness is acute- she feels everything as if it was happening to herself. She sees into me and into others with a compassion that is sewn into her very soul. It is a gift she has been given, this ability to feel.

This is how I will show her what faith is. In the only way I can- with a deep trust and knowledge that I am passing on something intrinsic to her life- the ability to reach beyond herself. To know she never walks alone. To know she is responsible to be who God created her to be, in word and deed and action.

I can only show her with my own life what God can do. That He can take the broken and mend it stronger than before. That He can turn the world, the seasons, and at the same time, be a Father to us. That He is all, and everything. And He loves her more than I ever could.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not one moment.

I spent an evening last week talking with a neighbor. Neighbor doesn't really do the relationship justice, however. She is supposed to be in my life. Hand planted by the One who knows what I need, even when I don't.

She was determined to get my story. The whole story, warts and all. And so under a Carolina moon on a sweltering night, she got it.

And as I talked I felt the old feelings well up and spill over, like a wound reopened. They rose in my throat. They tingled through my hands and feet. They cut through all of the carefully cultivated and determined prayers I have said to secure them safely.

They were brought up from a deep ocean and thrown onto my shore. And as I looked at all of these things, the detritus of a life I never chose and a life that scarred me, I felt free.


Because I OWNED all of it. The pain and the wounds and the fury. The hurt and abandonments. I owned it all. I took it all in and wrenched out every bit of learning from it.

And I wouldn't change one moment. Not ONE.

God gave these things to me. He trusted me to walk through what others couldn't. He gave my soul into a life that would break others. He handed me these circumstances. He hand chose the people who would surround me. His choice.

And instead of feeling burdened, I feel privileged. I feel honored to carry these things. They have formed me. They have created a gratitude for the simplest of things that I never would have known before. They cut me deep, and then filled me to the brim with knowledge.

I have walked a lonely road at times. I have been sad and abandoned. I have been tossed away. I have been orphaned even when my parents walked this earth. But I have also been scooped up. I have been rescued. I have been held and loved. He hands picked people to show me what love is. He gave me amazing examples of His grace.

I have scars. But I also have joy. I have a life now I never could have predicted. I have a length and breadth of happiness I do not deserve, but that I treasure at every second.

And I have that all because of what came before.

I am stronger for my brokeness. I am healed even as I trace the scars of other's anger on my skin. I am grateful for the air in my lungs and the life in my body. I am honored to carry this precious pain, honored that He would see me as strong enough to bear it.

And I am a better person because of the worst that was done to me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The answer

"So you don't work?"

I am standing in the grocery line, watching my purchases be rung up while simultaneously keeping an eye on my kids in the cart when I am asked this question. I had been making small talk with the cashier.

I look up at her and wonder what to say.

Let's see.

So far today I have:

Gotten up at 6 AM

made a bottle

fed the dog

put in a load of laundry

emptied the dishwashed

gotten two children dressed

brushed three sets of teeth

scrubbed the countertops and kitchen sink

fed the kids breakfast

pinned a dress together, serged the seams

cleaned up breakfast

scrubbed the table

wrangled the kids into the playroom

brushed the dog

vaccuumed and mopped the floors

scrubbed the kids tub and sinks

settled 2.5 million toy disputes

broke up a fight over legos

planned dinner


applied makeup while texting friends

answered e-mail

clipped coupons

made a grocery list while comparing coupons to grocery website

switched laundry

scrubbed toilets

kissed a boo boo

wrangled both kids into the car

got both kids out of the car and into the grocery cart

Held Sam and kept an eye on Lily while disenfecting cart

kept two kids from screaming through the grocery store

matched up coupons to purchases while keeping track of sippy cups, cookies, and grocery list

and successfully gotten to the checkout.

And it's only noon.

So, do I work?


Do I love?


So which is it? Work or love?

Both. But it can't be boxed into such small words. With every mundane task I an caring for some aspect of my family's life. With every shirt washed folded and put away, I am giving my family something clean to wear. With every meal made, I am nourishing them. With every stroke of the vaccum I am making their world cleaner. With every clipped coupon I am putting money into our bank account. With every dress/blanket/bag/bow created I am adding potential income to our budget.

So what is the definition of work? A paycheck? Or is it something more? Is it that a noon on a day like any other of my life I can look at the grocery cashier and say-

"No, I don't work outside the home. And I love my job."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I've never had great luck with women friends. I have one best friend who has stuck by me through all of my nonsense (Hi April!), but as far as lifetime friendships with other women, nope. Not a one.

Then I had Lily.

Here I was, postpartum, feeling as if my life had at once ended, and at once just begun. I was worried and sleepless and overjoyed. My world had shrunk significantly and I spent alot of the day alone.

I was a mess. Seriously. Depressed and wondering why I was depressed. Isolated and unsure of how to reach out. Sad when I should be the most happy.

I took my baby girl to the park. I put her in a swing. And looked over to see a friendly face. Jody. Who would become my saving grace, my first real mommy friend, my coach, my cheerleader, and my hero. I met up with other moms, and learned alot about myself in the process.

The most valuable thing I learned? That I was loveable and likeable and good, just as I was. No gloss, no pretending. Just me.

I never experienced the sisterhood of female friends. Of MOMMY friends. Those who know exactly what you are going through and can sympathize.

And now, four years later, I am still learning just how much I need other women. To talk to, to spend time with. To hand my kids off to and to laugh at their craziness with. To talk breastfeeding and baby poo and emotions and talk shows. Craft projects and cooking and husbands.

I was talking to two of my mommy friends today. (Holla, Lisa and Lori) About the cattiness we had experienced with other women. About the hurt at being picked on or talked about. I've experienced deep hurt at the hands of other women, been gossiped about. Nothing hurts worse, I'm convinced because we are designed by God to need other women near us, especially in early motherhood.

After my friends and their babies left I sat here in the silence. I thought about what I could do to show God how much I value the strong, funny, and wonderful women he has brought into my life. I closed my eyes and asked for inspiration. Somethign I can make? Something I can say? Something I can do?


Just a simple promise to all of my God given friends.

I will never hurt you intentionally. I will always strive to understand you. I will give you space when you need it, but I will NOT back off when you are hurting. I won't let you slip through the cracks or pretend things are fine when I know they aren't. I will treasure your friendship, protect you and defend you. I will never say anything behind your back that I would not say in your presence. I will not force my friendship on you if you pull away, but I will be here if you need me. I will give you anything I have, all the time, in any situation. I will be present in your life. I will love your children like my own. I will hold your heart as close and as tenderly as my own, and guard your feelings. I won't be like any other women that have hurt you. You can always trust me. I cannot say that things won't break between us, or that feelings won't be hurt. Life brings friction and circumstances that can cause pain. But I will always strive to mend it and make it stronger.

Will you make the same promise with me? To build up and encourage the women in your life? Will you promise to not gossip, to not hurt, to not wound with your words? Will you honor the friendships God gave you by treating them with the care He would?

It's time to stop tearing each other down and instead realize that we need each other. And we need each other strong and unwounded by gossip or words. Make the promise with me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


This post has been brewing for some time. It has been swirling in my head over and over. I wondered whether to share it, or just to write it out and keep it to myself. But then the Casey Anthony travesty happened, and it put a face to exactly what I was thinking.

People need to stop using their past to justify their current behavior.

I have seen it in every corner of my own life, excuses for drinking, excuses fo drug use, excuses upon excuses upon excuses. It is ridiculous and angers me greatly.

God gives us circumstances. We are placed in a life with a plan and a purpose. Every single act commited upon us, done to us, has been written and known. Every wound has already been created, even before it is rendered unto our soul or body. Our life is chosen, our days known.

What is the unknown is how we are to respond to it. We have free will, after all. We can choose our own behavior. We can choose to make stepping stones from the things that weigh us down, or simply lie down and be crushed. We choose.

We choose how we treat the others in our life. We choose to kill them with words. We choose to raise them up with prayer and encouragement. We choose to gossip. We choose to physically harm. Despite what we have been shown, we can still choose how to live.

I am tired of the excuses. I am tired of the explanations for cruelty and for harm to others. I am weary of the lack of responsibility.

You have been hurt. Okay. You have been molested or sexually assaulted. Okay. You have been abused and abandoned. Allright. You have been left behind, pushed aside. Fine.

Me too.


Choose to be MORE than what you were shown. Choose to be better than what you have seen, and more than what you have been given. Choose to be above your circumstance. Choose it. Choose the life you want. Choose the person you are. And own it.

Stop blaming. Stop hurting in the name of the past. Stop pointing fingers at others for things YOU have done. STOP.

Lean into God and His promises. You weren't given a perfect family on earth? Then lean into the perfect Father in heaven. You were hurt by somebody? Then lean into the One who sees all and more remarkably, heals all.

Healing is possible. It is hard. It is grueling. But it is possible. And more than that, it is freeing.

You don't have to sit with the pain. You don't have to have the double hurt of using the past against those you love. You can give it up to One who shoulders it for us.

Let Him take it. The pain, the injury. Let Him take the reasons to inflict hurt on others. Give it over and let it go. And go out and CHOSE who you want to be.

And live it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

She would have been 63

and yet heavy
burning in me like poison
but giving me life
your memory
your example
your face
careworm and edged with grief
and your hands
dirt stained and broken
and your voice
velvet over glass
and your words
cutting and quick
I am
yours and yet not yours
I am mine
and yet not mine
and in ways I will never understand
I belong as much to the weight of memory
as I do to the burden of the present
and you live in me
and I love you
and I give you
with open hands
my forgiveness
I stand now in the curve of God's grace
I see you with the eyes of faith
and oh God if I could go back
and love you
I would
and if I could go back and take the words from my lips
I would
but I can't
and you are
my mother
and you are
my ghost
and my haunted dream
and my wasted hopes
and the face of my brokeness
and I love you
even when I don't want to
and I remember
even when I fight it
and so burden me
with your presence
and love me
from where you are
and I give you my children
and I share them with you
and I welcome you into this life I have made
and I ask you to forgive who I was
and across these two worlds
yours of ether
mine of substance
I ask for your hand
and I ask for your love
and I ask for you to just be
like you couldn't be then
and I ask you to love me
here, now
like you never could
there, then
and I offer you again my wounded heart
this daughters soul
that longs
and reaches
across this broken space and time
for you

Happy Birthday, where you are, mama.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I remember the moment my life changed, and all of the things that had once seemed real or important or big faded.

She was laid across my chest, ungently, and rubbed with a blanket as she lay there, pink and bellowing. Her cry was like a kittens, fierce and soft at once. The room was full of people, of color, of blurring faces and words tossed about.

I saw none of it. I heard none of it. My eyes were her eyes, my world the soft focus of her face.

I looked at the redeemer God had placed in my world and in my care. The one sent to give me purpose and fulfill my heart's aches and voids.

She was, and because she was, I became more than I was.

Her hand laid in mine that night, soft and sheltered in the blooodstained and curvy valleys of my own. Her fingernails no bigger than a pea, her feet smaller than my pinky. She was so small, so fragile, and at once so big in my life that she took the air from me.

And her eyes. Sloped upward away from her perfect blunted nose. Opening rarely in those first few days, but always on mine when they did. I saw her for the first time in those days, but I knew her forever.

This was what I had ached for, wished for, and dreamed of. She was the harbor to a storm tossed vessel. I found my counterpoint and my compass all at once, on her tiny body. I whispered how far I had come in her pink ear, curled like a perfect shell under my lips. I touched her eyes, her cheeks, her elbows and toes, marveling at the detail God gives.

He forgets nothing. No part of her body was immune to the perfection He gives.

She was so innocent and so vulnerable. And mine.

She was given to love, and to heal, and to raise me from what circumstance had taught me.

And now, now that sweet fragile being is still the focus of my life. Her voice and face my every waking thought.

Our days are layered now with tension, with negotiation, with arguments. She is 4. I am 34. And we both know what's right.

But the moments when she is laying across me, her head on my chest... when her hand curls into mine and I trace her fingertips, placing a kiss in each palm...when I whisper into her sleeping ear of how far we have come, and of what she saved me from...

These are the times I know we are just a breath away from that one small moment, precious and extraordinary only to me, when she was laid across my chest and we breathed the same air, and I looked at her and thought...

Yes, you are the one. I have missed you all my life. And now you are here.

My sweet Lily girl, love of my heart and soul. You were born to make me whole. You are loved beyond imagining. And you have raised me up so gently into this role of mother. You have blessed me. May I always bless you, too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Battle

It's 10:12 AM. I am facing my nemesis across an island of green grass.

I stretch, pop my neck back and forth.

I do several jumping jacks. Okay, I do one. Okay, half of one.

I yell out "Let's go!!! C'mon, I'm not afraid!!"

I take a deep breath.

I am primed, ready for battle.

It glows, my nemesis. It gleams in the early morning light.

It thinks it's soooo tough. Soooo fancy.

It is the children's playground.

Yes, that's right. A playground. Swings, slides and the like.


Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh.

But there are a thousand booby traps there among the metal and mulch.

Okay, not a thousand. Like, 2300. Or 5. Yeah.

I'm gonna outline them for ya. Ready?

1. Cigarette butts.

Do you know how many times I have caught my child trying to eat one of these? Ew. Or, that one time that I found one IN HIS MOUTH? *shudder*
Please, for the love of God, I don't care if you smoke...really I don't. But can you do it somewhere other than where my filth magnet can get to your nasty cancer ridden butts? Huh? Every time we go I have the urge to mask my child like Hannibal Lechter.
Which may help me avoid booby trap number 2.

2. The other mommy.

Oh you know the one. The one who has her child covered in all natural sunscreen made by yeti's somewhere in the vast unknown, who's child only plays with wood toys, has never had a bite of sugar or processed food, and who is a genius, natch. You look at your own child, covered in aerosol sunscreen and a too small hat drinking lemonade from a Cars sippy cup and eating mulch and you feel, well...bad.

Or the ultra competitive mom. The one who's child has done more than yours could ever dream of. One thousand summer camps. College level art classes. They just stopped at the park on their way to tennis lessons, then on to violin. You look at her kid eating mulch with yours and you feel, well...a little smug.

Or the mom. Oh the mom. The one who's child knocks yours over, yells in her ear, throws sand and dirt, and tramples the smaller kids on his way to the slide. The one who calls gently after him, "Please don't push the little boys face into the dirt!" "Please don't throw yourself off the slide onto other people." "Please don't hit mommy!" and so on. You look at her child and feel...well, rage.

3. The public restrooms

Need I elaborate? Didn't think so.

4. The playground itself

Or as I like to call it, the maze of death. You watch your child go up with a gut wrenching wave of despair, and debate...Do I follow him up there or from down below? Do I try to keep him from falling or catch him when he does fall? How loud do I have to yell for him to hear me, really? I pretty sure I just bruised my larynx.

I spend the entire time he is meandering to the slide panicking. Why the heck do they have to have HUGE openings that kids can fall through? I just don't get it! What are they thinking when they plan these things? "Well look, maybe little Johnny might wanna slide down a pole like a fireman to break his legs!" "Maybe little Susie would enjoy smacking her head on every step of a ladder on her way down to the hard ground!" "Kids LOVE a trip to the germ ridden ER!"

I just don't get it. The playground is for children! Make it safe for children to play on, not for acrobats to frolic in. Common sense, playground maker people!

5.The "We are leaving!" meltdown.

It starts almost when we ge there.


Then you begin the countdown. "Ten minutes!" and so on. All the way down to one, at which time you have to do the chase. Like the one from Indiana Jones but more terrifying and painful. You know the one. Where you are chasing your child yelling "Come back here right now!!! Mommy said we have to go. Don't you dare go back up to the slide...Okay, slide one more time and we are leaving!" You wait at the bottom of the slide, thinking, aha!, I've got him trapped now. Then the little sucker sees your shadow and climbs back up.

Twenty minutes later you are dragging both of your filthy children from the park while one or the both of them does the spaghetti legs routine. You alternate between dragging one and carrying the other, but the car is far away and it's hot so you just drag them both. People stare. You get to the car, strap them in, and then cry a little on the bumper. Then you go to ChikFilA because you are a masochist and enjoy a lunch filled with whining and screaming.

So, what are your plans for today, my friend? Oh you WERE gonna take the kids to the playground. Ahem. Sorry about that. Perhaps the pool insead?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Things I have said today:

"Lily, stop talking and eat." X 500 MILLION

"Seriously, Sam, your wee wee has a shelf life. You don't have to be all about handling it now."

"Lily, take my socks off right now!"

"Savannah, stop eating my socks."

"Sam, stop eating my socks!"

"Please don't put blueberries up your nose."

"Hold still while I get the blueberry out of your nose!!"

"How did you get a green bean in your ear?"

"Please stop rubbing your head over your high chair tray."


"No you can't have candy. Because we are eating healthy. Because it's good for us. Because it is. Yes it is! Oh hell, have a dang sucker. Just be quiet."

"Sam, no." X 600 MILLION

"No, Sam didn't poop. It's dinner you smell."

"Just eat your fish. It's not spicy. No it's not!!!! Okay, drink some milk, the fish is too spicy to eat."

"Sam, don't hit your sister."

"Lily, stop aggravating Sam."

"For the love of God, hit him back then!"

"Where's mommy's rum?"

"I love you to the moon. Okay, fine, I love you to jupiter. Okay, to jupiter and back. Okay, forget I EVEN SAID ANYTHING!"

"No, you can't win at Candyland everytime. Because it's just not how things are. No I won't let you win. Because I said so."

"Just because your water doesn't have ice in it doesn't mean it's not fresh."

"No you can have a unicorn. Or a pony. Or a cat. Because I am allergic and will run away."

"I love you to jupiter, back, and down to china.Yes, China where Kai Lan lives. No I don't know where your Kailan cup is. No I won't trade it out for your princess cup. GO TO SLEEP!!!!!!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Who am I to deserve this?

To have this love, and this life, and this world that I could never have dreamed of?

To have carried 3 beautiful babies, two of whom I get to hold.

Who am I, to have love, a hand to hold, a life to share.

To laugh?

To have friendships that transcend the everyday, and reach into the beyond?

To look into my children's eyes and be thankful for their health.

Who am I?

And , more importantly, Who's?

And why does He deem me this worthy, of this life?

Oh Lord. Sweet Jesus. Loving God. My refuge. My Savior.

He spilled His blood for me. He gave His life for me. I think of Him on Calvary, his wounds spilling. His tears flowing.

But I also think of Him as I was created. I think of Him knowing my nature, and giving me this life, with all of the good and bad.

And I think of Him, watching me reach for Him. Watching me hold tight to the promise of love.

He is.

He loves.

He gives.

I have had it all right here in my hands. The best of life, the worst. The loneliness, the joy. I have watched miracles happen. I have walked the road that was dark and waited for dawn.

And here I am.

Proof that we are not the only ones who cling. He clings to us as well. He walks with us. He holds us. He loves us through all of the brokenness this world gives.

And He promises we walk none of it alone.

What a profound gift. To walk this world tethered to the One who created it. To see with our eyes His works. To hold the children he allows us to birth and care for.

To never be lonely.

So if you are reaching beyond your own means, if you are waiting for life, trust that He is there, reaching back to you.

Who am I? I am His.

Friday, July 1, 2011


The air is always moving here, carrying sound, salt fragrance, cooking scents. The wind blows one direction and the next. There are people. Shouting, chatting, whispering. The speakers above the pool bar assault the air with a weird mix of music- from LL Cool J to Kenny Rogers.

The sun beats down mercilessly. The planes fly overhead in groups- small ones heading to other islands, larger commercial jets lifting nearly straight up to scale the mountains.

It is a joyous mix of sound, scent, and the heady feeling of having nothing to do but just this one thing- float, romp with the kids, nap in the sun.

We swim. And swim and swim. The kids screech and throw themselves in the water.

I break away and dive down deep.

And it all stops.

Noise becomes muted under the cupped blueness over me. The sun loses it's power. There is no scent. There is nothing but...peace.

And as I lie on the bottom, using my feet to keep myself still and feeling my body sink further and further toward a delicious lack of anything, God speaks.

This is what prayer should feel like.

A slip from this world to another, a passing through of all of the human things that occupy me.

A dive into God's presence, and resting there, open to it all.

This was so striking to me, this image. Because it can be so easy to be pulled to the surface into a world I am trying to shut out. Pulled up unwillingly into all of the human problems, small concerns, and aggravations of the day.

I go too easily back there. I am pulled too quickly away from the sacred spot that God occupies in my life- the small few minutes He wants me to give to Him, and the minutes I need. I rush to the surface within seconds to confront anything that interrupts my thoughts.

So what if I use this in my prayer life? What if I picture a great dive down, to the bottom of God's presence and to the stillness I crave, and the stillness that my soul needs to thrive in this world. A world I live and walk in, but a world I don't ultimately belong to?

So from now on I will picture the sun, the sand, the voices, the music, and the great sweeping dive beneath it all, into the cool shadowy blueness. Into the presence of love and grace and peace. The feeling of being held and taken away from the things of the world that distract from who I ultimately am.

Dive with me....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Open Letter...

To the dad at the Children's museum this morning:

I know you are busy. I know that you were probably on your phone for work purposes. You were undoubtedly typing on your blackberry to somebody or about something important.

But while you were doing that, while your eyes were on your phone and your mind was elsewhere, your son only had eyes for you. He sat and organized dinosaurs, painted a picture, and lined up legos...but his eyes were constantly shifting to you. His face was so open, so vulnerable in those moments. His mouth opened several times to say something, but then closed. His big beautiful eyes brimmed as he cast them back down.

And you didn't see any of it.

When he finally spoke, it was with a soft and cautious "Daddy?".

You didn't hear him, so he repeated himself.

You still didn't hear.

And when you finally noticed him, it was with a "Hum? Where do you want to go next?".

Without glancing up.

I watched him watch you as you walked away, vaguely leading him to a different corner of the museum while still looking at your phone. He scuffed his tennis shoe lightly on the floor, and then got up to follow you. When he looked back at me, I smiled slightly through my own tears.

I saw him. I saw his hurt at being ignored. I saw his sadness at not being able to share this place with you. I saw disappointment.

And it struck me to the core, because I have been you. I have been the parent who was too busy. I have been on the phone, on the computer, and in my head. I have looked at but not SEEN my children so many times. I have given them only a tenth of my attention because I had other things on my mind.

I have gone to bed at night and realized that I did not once sit down on the floor and play, or read a book, or play a game.

Because I was busy.

And I understand busy. We are adults. We make their world go around. We make the clothes appear, we cook the meals, we brush their hair, we strap them in their carseats.

I get it. I truly do. And I don't blame you. It's easy to put parenting on autopilot sometimes. You and I are a product of our times- it is easy now to be online in an instant, talk to somebody in a moment, look up something within a few minutes. It's easy to shoot off an e-mail or to send a text.

But at what cost?

When do we decided to put those things away and focus on the real, tangible people in our midst? When can we let go of the automatic need to be in the loop and connect ourselves to our kids without distractions? When can we look at them and put them first, even for only an hour? Just an hour of unfiltered, undistracted time.

I can tell you that I have spent the last few days spinning my wheels. Planning, organizing, errands. Busy busy busy. And I can also tell you that my children suffered for it.

That's why I was at the museum this morning, digging in the sand and bean table with my daughter, pretending I was T-Rex coming to ravage her pot and pan city. It's why I was dressed as a pirate giving a newscast. It's why I was doctoring bears and exploring magnets.

Because I have been there. I have been distracted and ignoring and brushing off. I am sure my children have been looking up at me like yours was...with sadness and tears, as I went on a bout a life I was showing them is more important than their feelings.

And I can tell you that I hope you, like me, gets a wake up call. Before your son is old enough to become angry and cold and harden his heart against the need of you.

So please, put down the phone. Just for an hour. Look into your boy's sweet baby browns and see him. Play with him. Show him he is more important than anything else in the world.

And I pray I can always remember to do the same.