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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fathers Day 2011

Do you have time for a story?

Good. Get some coffee. Wait. Too hot for coffee, to early for beer. So iced tea or diet Coke. I'll wait.


There once was a girl. She lived in a small trailer next to her father's. The Nebraska sky cradled her home like cupped hands. The trains hollered through like thunder.

Her kitchen was small and sad. Her living room cramped with furniture she had collected in another life, with bigger walls and bigger dreams. With a bigger future. Now she sat in one corner of a couch meant for a family. She didn't allow herself to look at the places that should have been filled, jumped on, stained with milk and juice.

The bed was large and empty. The hallway rang with only her footsteps. Only her washcloth sat on the sink, only her towel draped on the door.

She sat on the porch her father built her. Watered her plants. Watched the dust rise and settle with each passing car.

And her heart bled with loneliness. Her mind was trapped by circumstance and the days spilled endlessly into another.

The future was not a future. Just days and days of waiting for something that never came.

Sadness made her heart heavy, regret filled her mouth with ashes.

And then.

Her name in his mouth was like music. His face when he looked at her like a lighthouse in a storm. His entire being, face, soul, voice...all of it was a perfect match to hers.

Love came again. When she had given up. It rushed through all the open portals of her life like seawater, burning away what had been. It washed away the old, and created the new.

He was a miracle to her. He held her hand and made her his wife. He gave her a family when she didn't know what that word meant.

He gave her time, and patience, and his shoulder and his love.
In time, he gave her babies.

And she watched him with them, his easy nature, his ability to care and love and give just as he had to her- without reservation or expectation.

He kissed them on their full round cheeks, put them to bed at night. He changed diapers and made meals and woke in the night to newborn cries, to toddler cries.

He gave, as his father had taught him to give. With everything. Nothing held back. Family is family. Blood is blood. And that is sacred.

He taught this girl what it meant to love without pain. That hurt was inevitable, but pain was not. That forgiveness and honest apologies are the currency of life. That love is not perfect or romantic, but strong and honest. That love means holding on and not letting go.

He held her babies in the palm of his hand. He carried them through the church after their baptism and communion. He handed his newborn son to his father, introducing him to his namesake.

He watched his daughter grow in loveliness. He blessed her beauty and kind heart.

And he gave this girl a chance to become what she was born to be- a mother, a wife. He helped her to settle all of the broken pieces in her life, and to learn that her heart was not ruined by what came before.

He healed her. He saved her. And he continues to be the best man she has ever and will ever know.

Happy Father's Day, Mark. I love you more than words can ever say. Thank you for my beautiful life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I am feeling at once very blessed and very very heavy hearted. A boy in our neighborhood, one we just recently met and played with at the pool, has been diagnosed with a cancerous mass in his abdomen.

I heard the news while I watched my two kids play in the yard. It had been a long day and the kids were edgy and grumpy, making me the same.

And then I heard this, and none of it mattered anymore.

I have such a deep sadness and heaviness in my soul for this family, this mama, this sweet 3 year old little boy.

I am asking you to pray, to write his name on your hand, on a post it. To remember him and lift his name to heaven. To stand in the trenches with this family and intercede on his behalf.

His name is Sean. He is only three. Please pray.

Happy Pills

Am I too honest here? Do I say too much? Do I give too much away?


Because I KNOW that I am saying and writing the things some people go through and never can put into words. Or don't have an outlet for. Or don't have supportive friends or family to rally around them when they are hurting.

I know myself. I would rather shut this blog down than pretend everything is okay when it's not.


Here it is:

I have been on anti-anxiety meds for 4 years. Since Lily was 6 months old. I about lost my mind one night at 3 AM. I handed her to Mark, got in the car, and never intended on going back.

But I did go back. And the next day I saw my doctor. And got on the medication that changed my life. Literally. I was not the same person as I was before.

And in the past month I have been tapering off of these meds. Becuase I felt that they were keeping me from losing weight. And I felt, frankly, like I was weak for keeping on them.

I was 100% wrong, my friends.

I have felt, as the meds got less and less in my system, a huge weight being applied to my shoulders. Heavier and heavier, it made me stoop with the weight. It made my words negative, made my temper flare. It made me wake in the night in a sweat because I was afraid. Afraid of what, I have no idea. It made me pull over to the side of the road with both kids in the car and try to breathe. Panic and huge waves of adrenaline have gripped me at odd times and in odd places.

And worst of all, it sucked away my ability to write. I lost my words under this torrent of anxiety, and my creativity evaporated under the strain of holding it together emotionally.

All for the sake of a slimmer self.

I have felt myself drawing in like a turtle to a shell. Pulling away, having less and less to say. Negative thoughts and negative words and paralyzing fear.

And as much as I feel that it is weakness to be on these drugs, I also know that I NEED them. My body needs them. I am lacking in a fundamental body chemistry. This fills the void.

And after yesterday, I have come to a conclusion.


Go ahead and laugh. I did when I realized this. I laughed today talking with my doctor about it.

I laughed. Real laughter. Something I haven't done in a few weeks.

In the end, the decision on this medication change was taken out of my hands. I cannot function well without it. And I have to be okay with that.

And why am I telling you all of this? Why am I admitting this weakness? Because you may be in the same boat. You may be hiding the fact that you need meds. And that's okay. I get it. But you have no reason to be ashamed.

It is what it is. And I am better and stronger medicated than not. I am fuller and happier and more joyful. I am less weighed down by the world, and my patience becomes limitless.

And I can write.

So here's to medication. Necessary, needed medication. And to those of us strong enough to admit we need it, and to ask for help.

Monday, June 13, 2011


It began with a flare of temper, a whine, words thrown out of an unkind heart, pressed through lips set in anger.

It began with me being pressed for patience and time, and he wanting what she wants and whining for it, then sassing and complaining for it.

And it ended with my hand reaching out to pop the sassy mouth, to get the attention, to display the end of my patience. It ended with a sound smack to the bottom and turning her to face me.

And then I saw it, the mark.

On her lip. Cherry red, beginning to swell, with the slightest bead of blood.

She reached up to wipe it away, this blood, and her tears spilled over her hand.

And blooming like a flower into my mind came a thousand memories. A pandoras box of ghosts set loose in my heart.

I made my child bleed. With my hand.

Who am I? Who is this person that would do this? What monster has sprung from me without me even knowing, without me being vigilant enough to see it coming?

God help me.

Not one second passed from me seeing that I had hurt her to scooping her up and apologizing, sobbing over her little head, kissing her a million times.

She cried with me, all the while telling ME not to cry.

"It's okay Mommy. I still love you. Don't cry. Don't cry." thru tears.

I don't deserve a child this good, this loving, this forgiving.


There it is.

Proof that vigilance against what you have known is necessary. That becoming complacent and thinking that you would never, could never, aren't capable of hurting as you were hurt just isn't true. Because it creeps in when your mind is blurred with anger and aggravation. It does not lie dormant.

I made a mistake, one that I vowed to try never to make the moment I saw her sweet face. To never intentionally hurt her. Discipline, yes. Hurt, no.

I can't take it back. I can say that I did everything possible to make amends, to help her to know that I made a mistake and that I wouldn't do it again.

Right now she is upstairs playing. She has not mentioned it since this morning. Mark assures me she is not scarred, something I cannot accurately gauge myself. Because I am as scarred by the small mark on her upper lip as I am by the river of marks on my own body...the circular cigarette burns, the drawn and puckered lines from glass and metal.

I guess we are all marked in some way. Inside or out, we all carry the past on our skin or our soul.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I am frozen here. Caught in my own web.

Caught in the thought that what I look like is as important as WHAT I AM.

No, read that again. Because I had an epiphany just writing it.

What I look like is not what I am.

It is not my soul, which is good.

It is not my heart, which is giving.

It is not my spirit which is loving.

It is not who I am.

It is, simply, a vehicle for my spirit. For the substance God gave to me- my essence and my soul. It is a transporter only.

Yes, it is my responsibility to keep it honed to do God's work. He wants us to have health.

But he also wants us to look at ourselves and say "This is not all there is."

And I am not my face, or my belly, or my thighs.

I am this soul that comes here with treas and pours blood onto page.

I am the one who holds the hand, who lifts the head, and who loves without ceasing.

I am the one that God created. Every inch of skin he knew. Every battle He chose for me.

And who is to say this battle is not my path to glory?

That winning, not over my flesh, but over the spirit that cries out that the flesh is important is my battle?

The voice that says that everything about me is good but this one thing...well let me put that voice on notice:


I am this soul. I am worthy. I am good. And I am a creation of One who loves and DOESN'T MAKE MISTAKES.

This voice that cries out when I look in the mirror, this nagging nasty overbloated self important voice that tells me that I am not enough:

That voice can be silent. Forever.


I am weary. I am struggling. But my God is bigger than anything I can say about myself.

And He is here, and He is who I chose to listen to.