My plea for love like God's is that it gets broader and more transcendent and less like me, less boxy, less denominational, less logical and measured... more passionate, more graceful, more open, more extravagant and more COMPLETE. Just more.Read More
Whew. I can’t even tell you what the past few months have been like other than to say: Ouch. Work. Yawn. Sob. Repeat.
It’s a long story and it’s bittersweetly a combo of new beginnings like a renovating a building of our own for our 12 year old church plant after years of being nomadic combined with some real challenges with our business and parenting, the sudden death of a beloved family friend, other deaths of other things that are hard to explain all combined with exhaustion and feeling completely 1. Inadequate 2. Overwhelmed 3. Brokenhearted.
What I wouldn't give for a re-do on August through October, you guys.
Since as long as I can remember I’ve been in the business (or calling or vocation?) of meeting needs. I cut my teeth working in the non-profit sector straight out of college working with third world poverty and continued on in working in local non-denominational church in our very first world society. But, the amount of extreme need just shifted from huts being burned down in tribal wars to relationships being consumed by internet porn, greed or the like. We’re all broken everywhere and there’s always something we can do to bring some comfort and help, right? But 20+ years into this lifestyle I realize that my desire to help or fix has brought me to very unhealthy place. This week in church planting? An invitation to sing karaoke to celebrate the birthday of a beautiful staff member on the same night as an invitation to sing around a campfire for a college aged daughter homebound by hospice care for inoperable cancer who is part of our church community along with her amazing, courageous single mom. This was last night. Songs of joy and songs of mourning all in the same neighborhood. A soul rollercoaster that leaves you feeling pretty nauseous a lot of the time if I'm honest.
Last summer while towing our old trailer for a camping trip my husband and I listened to Anne Lamott’s recent (genius) Ted Talk (might I add that while most people have their talk memorized Queen Anne just needs to read her talk and it’s still a home run) and right around 3:30 in the talk wrecked me. She says:
HOLY FREAKING ANNE.
And so I began praying,
Dear Heavenly "Not Me", Help.
Last week I read this passage in Matthew where Jesus challenges his twelve friends and fellow travelers, aka the disciples. I’ve read it hundreds of times in my life but last week was different.
Matthew 10:7-14, NIV
7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
It wasn’t just a passage I was reading that morning clenching my coffee last week…it was permission.
Like God himself saying to me:
My message and kingdom is Wholeness... and the way that wholeness comes closer to all the brokenness surrounding you is through you. You're the channel of it. You might not feel equipped because you don't even feel very whole (given you're the one who is looking for their phone in their purse while ON THEIR PHONE) and you won’t be bringing the stuff with you that you might need or want. You might not be able to pack your cute shoes and have to wear sensible ones, I know. And you're an over-packer, I know that too. Risk that I’ve got your back in this no matter how big the hill you’re climbing. Keep in mind that in your life you’ve been given so much so give that generously to others- and somewhere in that process… you’ll get what you need.
BUT if you try to do something good and you get hurt in the process, LET YOUR PEACE RETURN TO YOU.
Peacemakers gotta keep some for themselves. Keep your own peace, kid.
Sometimes you can't make the peace, you have to take it. Peacetaker. You can be that too.
Some things are just un-rectifiable or un-understandable and no amount of try will be the fix. You're not me and I don't expect you to be.
Literally and figuratively walk away… some places aren’t for you. Some relationships won’t be what you hoped they’d be and never will. Get rid of what reminds you of that place…don’t spend any more time there… SHAKE THE DUST and keep on traveling.
I’ve spent time in leper colonies and in dysfunctional relationships and people in both can be too far gone for healing. So sad but also true. We can only hope for healthier horizons elsewhere. It's ok not to stay there.
So, with the dawn of a new month starting, I’m making November my month of gratitude, personal peacekeeping and dust shaking, HARD. Dust shaking SO hard. I might even throw the shoes away and if you knew how much I love my shoes you’d see the bigness of this deal (speaking of, both pairs of shoes in the photos in this post fell apart on me this summer and I can’t even bring myself to pitch them and want to fix them- Birkenstocks and Chacos, I can't quit you, we've been through to much together-- obvs this issue runs deep).
I’ll leave you with this piece by poet/artist Anis Mojgani – I love it and him so much. Here’s a clip from an album I had on repeat two summers ago where he collaborated with Mat Kearney. Blows my mind every time.
Peace to you, my fellow Peacemakers, PeaceTakers and Dust Shakers.
Let's do this.
BOOK OF MERCY - Prayer #45, Leonard Cohen
Not knowing where to go, I go to you.
Not knowing where to turn, I turn to you.
Not knowing what to hold, I bind myself to you.
Having lost my way, I make my way to you.
Having soiled my heart, I lift my heart to you.
Having wasted my days, I bring the heap to you.
The great highway covered with debris, I travel on a hair to you.
The wall smeared with filth, I go through a pinhole of light.
Blocked by every thought, I fly on the wisp of a remembrance.
Defeated by silence, here is a place where the silence is more subtle.
And here is the opening in defeat.
And here is the clasp of the will.
And here is the fear of you.
And here is the fastening of mercy.
Blessed are you, in this man’s moment.
Blessed are you, whose presence illuminates outrageous evil.
Blessed are you who brings chains out of the darkness.
Blessed are you, who waits in the world.
Blessed are you, whose name is in the world.
A few weeks ago we had gift of hearing Rob Bell speak in our hometown on his BIBLE BELT TOUR (how fantastic is that tour name and how am I, a New Englander, a resident of the Bible belt?). Although some find him polarizing or even worth protesting (at least in our city, sigh), we find him a poetic, Big Mitten-y bundle of Divine joy and disarming authenticity. He said so many SOO GOOD things about the Bible that night but one reference he made to the book of Luke brought to mind a post I had written last year and given the circumstances of the past month, it's something of which I needed to be reminded. Rob, in his talk What Is The Bible?, told the crowd that in case missed it in Luke 8, Jesus had a girl named Joanna traveling with him paying his bills. How come no one ever hears about Joanna?! Rob said...
"Do you belong to a church that says women cannot be priests or pastors?
Any church that does so betrays the example of Jesus, who treated women as equals. Women in Jesus' times couldn't even testify as witnesses in court.
Yet all the gospels have women as the first witnesses to Jesus' resurrection."
There were some cheers from the audience, in our section for sure.
I don't know if you go to church, or used to go to church, or like me, have been working for or in the church. I have now for over half my life (I won't say the number because that makes me feel older than the sight of myself up close, pre-coffee in the morning). And for so many of those years I felt like I was there to set the table but not really sit at it, you know? Like sit with the important people. The people who did the vital stuff, mostly the male people. But Rob's recalling of this passage in Luke 8 was sort of one of those "hey let me just put my arms around ALL of you and pull you in just a little bit closer because you ALL have a seat at the table and you ALL matter" was just the thing I needed to hear. Because just that very week I told my husband, who also happens to pastor our church, quite dejectedly that I'm not sure I can do this church thing a day longer. I've reached the pinnacle (although I thought I had in the past but little did I know) of feeling kicked in the gut and I just couldn't set that table once more.
But then Rob. And of course, Jesus.
It didn't hurt that the theater we were in that night was filled with so many people for our church community (where women are pastors and are in leadership, thankfully, btw). We cheered and sighed and yes'd together.
So here it is. Re-encapsulated a bit.
In the book of Luke after Jesus had shared what is referred to as the Beatitudes or The Sermon On The Mount (“blessed are the poor”, etc.) with a large crowd who had gathered to hear Him and be healed he headed to another town called Nain. After what I can only imagine was an exahusting day for Jesus he noticed, at the town gate, a Widow weeping as her dead only son was being carried out and the passage says:
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”. The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. Luke 7
So what was the news? That Jesus can bring people back to life at their funerals? Or that, as the passage says, God has come to help.
Next Jesus is having dinner at a Pharisee’s house and a woman considered slutty by her fellow citizens hears that Jesus is there and shows up in the middle of the meal with a jar of her best and most expensive perfume. She proceeds to wash his feet at the dinner table with her tears mingled with a jar of her most precious perfume and kisses his feet and dries them with her hair. She’s touching him, and crying on Him and covering him in a womanly scent and when the host objects, again Jesus reminds those at the table that none of them have showed him this kind of uninhibited, beautiful, unadulterated love. You can imagine the collective gasp.
As Jesus continues on in his travels, most likely reeking like a jar full of women’s perfume, and as the good news of GOD HAS COME TO HELP spreads, his wingmen have a bit of a new look…
The Twelve (His disciples) were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. Luke 8:1-3
Jesus had a woman posse traveling city to city with him and the news was spreading like wildfire. And not just any women: formerly possessed women, important women, formerly sick women, women named Susanna, women who knew how to pay bills and comfort the sick and God-knows-what-else everyday kind of women.
Make some room, Simon Peter... Joanna IN THE HOUSE.
The passage says a man named Jairus who knew about this good news begged Jesus to come to his house and bring that good news of healing to his daughter who was on her deathbed, but the crowds were so large they almost crushed Jesus on the way.
Yet, Jesus stops in the middle of all the commotion and notices that someone had touched Him (I’m sure lots of people had touched him in the crushing crowd). But this touch was the kind that Jesus said caused power to go out from Him. And who had done it?
Crawling on the ground because she had been sick so many years that she couldn’t walk.
Someone who had been bleeding for 12 years, yet no one had been able to help her.
TWELVE YEARS OF NOT BEING HELPED.
TWELVE, as in twelve disciples who were the men noted for helping Jesus carry the good news... but they weren’t the only ones. There were other people around that table even if the Last Supper painting cropped them out.
She couldn’t just stand and ask for Jesus’ help like the man Jairus had done so she writhed and wriggled her way to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment because SHE had heard of this good news.
God has come to help.
Help the single mom losing her only child.
Help the slutty perfumed foot washer.
Help the formerly possessed, diseased and checkbook balancing rag-tag female Jesus posse.
SHE knew if she could just get close, close enough to the good news that God has come to help and CARES ABOUT WOMEN AND HOW THEY SUFFER, then maybe healing could be hers as well.
Maybe she was important enough to be a stop on Jesus’ tour.
She needed some Good News.
And when Jesus sees that she is trembling on the ground, not only does He heal her, he calls her “DAUGHTER.”
Then, yes, he headed onto Jairus’ house and was too late, but it didn’t matter, He brought that daughter back to life as well.
SO LET ME JUST REMIND YOU...
So my friends, my lady comrades, let me tell you something that the church might have failed to let you know: God isn’t into boys’ clubs.
The GOOD NEWS is so much more than heaven and hell talk, which sadly might be what you were told.
THE GOOD NEWS isn’t a black, red, white, blue, green and yellow bead bracelet like you made in Sunday School. They forgot the pink beads (and a lot of other colors, might I add).
THE GOOD NEWS has less to do with repeat this prayer after me and steeples and much more to do with Jesus doused in perfume, lacking judgment, hitting the road with a rag tag group of lady folk and being God-coming-to-help in human form.
THE GOOD NEWS, in case you missed it or no one told you, is that the very eyes of God see you in your mourning or your singleness or loss or brokenness or situation and the very heart of God is WITH AND FOR YOU. In your awkwardness at the table where everyone sits and rolls their eyes. In your despair when you're carrying your only son in your arms. In your being ignored and barely able to crawl another inch.
Stretchmarks and cellulite, single and married, young and old. L, G, B, T and Q.
WITH AND FOR YOU.
You have a seat at that table no matter how many people gasp.
You are heard, you are known, you are valued and you are as much a part of His posse as your male counterparts.
Made equally in the image of God.
You're made to sit at the table not just set it.
That’s the GOOD NEWS.
Thanks for reminding me, Rob.
And if, like me, you find yourself a hem holder in this season, we'll heal. I know it.
A prayer I prayed over the women in our Watershed community. May it remind you, too.
Raise your hand if you bought a luscious green thriving thing of beauty and placed it somewhere in your abode only to slowly (or rather quickly) torture it to death? The most common question I receive upon someone walking into our house: HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR PLANTS ALIVE?
I get it. I always asked the same thing in every house with non-crispy critter plants like mine always were. These pics are all from my phone taken in not great lighting at home. Oh well.
Alas, I’m no expert, but I am a 70’s child and am completely gaga for Jungalow Style mostly because I think it recaptures the best things about what I remember about our home decor when I was a child: rattan galore, jute-a-plenty, bohemian flare, abundant macramé, and the star of the show: ALL THINGS GREEN!!!
So, I’m gonna just tell you now…what little plant cultivating knowledge I have is completely trial and error. This green thumb was once murderous: I’ve slowly killed my share of plants and while we don’t face the same obstacles as outdoor gardening (like the rabbits that ate my entire winter garden, sigh), indoor gardening is all based ON THE SPACE IN WHICH YOU LIVE.
I had the squeal-inducing honor of meeting my décor/plant Girl Crush, Justina Blakeney last year and I had just one question for her…
Level with me, Justina, all these amazing plant laden homes in your books and posts, how do people actually keep them alive? I mean, I live in a bungalow in the city and we get a limited amount of light and I’ve slowly killed a greenhouse worth of greenery and feel like maybe I’m missing something?
She assured me that I’m not alone and many of the fiddle leaf fig accented living room photos you see pinned all over Pinterest are staged… it’s just not possible to maintain a Croton Petra in the dark corner of your den next to your papasan. It’ll be doomed to a torturous, leaf dropping demise.
And with that we exhale, because we can do this. We can have the real thing, please don’t buy fake plants, especially from Ikea as cute as they make them look. We just have to figure out the amount of light we have in our rooms and then choose the right greenery that’ll thrive in that space.
Yes, succulents are amazing. Mostly, other than Jade, they need windowsill kind of sun…not sitting on a table in the middle of your living room kind of sun. Pass them over unless you’re willing to have them right in a window or if maybe you live in like Zones 8 and higher and can leave them outside.
Fiddle Leaf Figs? Ah, dear Ficus Lyrata. FLF. Post for another day, fo’ sho’. They’re all that has ever been right with vegetation. But, beware: they need WAY MORE LIGHT then they’ll tell you. I realized this after almost killing one in my shady living room then seeing them thrive in the blazing sun on a beach in Puerto Rico.
I had to almost kill one to now nourish three beauties, whom my sons must refer to as their “plant brothers”. That’s how much care they need. Children kind of care. If you don’t have a window in which to place a FLF smack in front of and you can’t give it showers and remember to water weekly (remember tropical, beach, sun, rain) and a compass then step away from the Fig. But they’re amazing IMHO and if you’re up for it I can tell you what I’ve learned in another post. Also, I have a way to get them for SUPER CHEAP, more on that later. (Tell the Anthropologie in Southend here in town that they definitely need to read this upcoming post because theirs are making me want to go in and scoop them up take them home to rescue them).
But this isn’t about high maintenance, so if you want easy, lots of bang for your buck, livable in non-sunroom conditions, something that can be ignored and not croak while still reasonable, then this is your ticket. So, my friends, after fail after fail and one root rot after another, I present to you the
THREE HOUSEPLANTS EVEN THE FORGETFUL GARDENER WON’T KILL
Take this list to your local greenhouse. I believe in you.
1. SNAKE PLANT
aka Mother-In-Law’s Tongue: let’s not even go there, but I dare you to gift one to your MIL!
This sinuous beauty, Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii' is ubiquitous- you’ve seen it in airports, in adobe style homes in cool terra cotta pots, you don’t know you love it but you already do. It gives you a lot of height for your buck and is a stellar addition to any room needing a little height and pop of green.
It is: carefree and ignorable. It’s deserty (drought tolerant) and that’s not a word.
It likes bright light but it can survive in dimmer light. I bought one YEARS AGO for our finished basement in our former house to spruce it up for showing our home and I had no idea it’d be unkillable. Cue Kimmy Schmidt song.
NOTES: don’t overwater it- it’ll get root rot.
LIGHT: Low to bright light; 60-85 degrees F. (I have mine in a semi shady corner). So in your house: it could be by a window or somewhere in a room with a window but will survive either way. You’re welcome
CARE: I water mine once every other week* (see watering note at bottom) but if you really want to water once a week you can. But who really wants to?
SIZE: up to 4 feet tall and wide
WHERE TO FIND: I’ll always say first: your local greenhouse. My favorite in Charlotte is Campbell’s. But the good news? They’re at Home Depot and Lowe’s (in the tropical/greenhouse section) and even AMAZON SHIPS PLANTS (whaaaa? same price as getting it at Home Depot). But make sure you’re around the day of delivery (I have a story and it involved cold weather and at tropical delivery). Note: that cute woven basket WITH FRINGE around the pot is from Target (Nate B. of course) .
COST: $20 for decent sized pot/plant
2. ZEEZEE PLANT
People will think this plant is fake because it’s that pretty, that cool and does well in odd places. And if you’re a succulent lover, here’s your new baby. It’s very jungly and I have one on my mantle in a green pot and it makes me very happy. I also have them lots of other places because I have a plant problem. (It's the tall one on the left in photo).
The ZZ, Zamioculcas zamiifolia. aka Eternity Plant because it endures so well and it’s almost a challenge to kill and I swear they look greener the more shade they get! There’s a place for us…
NOTES: This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by kids/pets. It’s a slow grower so if you want big NOW then buy a more mature plant.
LIGHT: Low to bright light; 60-75 degrees F (I have three of these and all are in semi shady spots not directly in front of windows). So yes, you could put this on a table or shelf in a room and it’ll still be green!
CARE: Only water when the soil is dry (for me this is once a week). They don’t require fertilizer but you can give the plants half strength fertilizer one to two times a year just in the summer. Probably the best bet would be every 1 ½ weeks but ain’t nobody got time for that so I do weekly.
SIZE: 2-3 feet tall and wide
WHERE TO FIND: start with your local greenhouse, Home Depot sells them online (and often in the stores in the tropical greenhouse section), Amazon. They’re at Lowe’s online too but a bit pricier there- try in store.
COST: $18-20 for a 6” pot or you can get itty bitty ones on Amazon for under $5 plus shipping
3. POTHOS (Golden)
Low maintenance, easy to please, fast growing and viney…Pothos, aka Devil’s Ivy or Epipremnum aureum 'Marble Queen', can be grown as a mounding tabletop plant, in a hanging basket, or trained upright on a pole. SO MANY OPTIONS. They are the ultimate trailing plant so if you have that full on hippie desire to have plants growing up around your windows and all looped into your macramé, here’s the one. I prefer the Golden Pothos but there are several varieties.
I have three of these as well and after killing an unnamed number of plants in my one-window very dark bedroom, I have found the answer and she is Pothos. They like both shade and light so it’s an all skate here. Let’s just stop and talk about how amazing plant hangers are inside your house. Do it.
Fun fact: in their natural environment they can grow up to 60’ long! Don’t worry, your pot in your kitchen isn’t its natural environment. And, get this, Pothos are 1 of the plants that are champions at cleaning the air. When you live with three boys and a boy dog, this part is more important than even looking pretty.
NOTES: This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by kids/pets. Full sun will cause the marbling to fade and insufficient light cause the variegation to fade. They LOVE totems (I found awesome Porthos on totems at my local Lowe’s!)
LIGHT: Low to bright light; 65-80 degrees F.(I have one in a dark tiny bedroom as seen here, one on my mantel and one on top of a corner cabinet none of which are really sunny places)
CARE: Only water when the soil is dry (for me this is once a weekish). Feed your Pothos once yearly, in early spring with a granular, slow-release fertilizer, or feed every two weeks from spring through fall with a half strength dilution of house plant fertilizer.
SIZE: Trailing plant 8 feet long (think of all the winding possibilities).
WHERE TO FIND: Home Depot/Lowe’s (online and in store in the houseplant section), Amazon, and always check your local greenhouse first. Home depot is selling one in a self-watering pot for $15.30 (this would make an awesome gift to send someone and maybe even better than sending flowers because it will last). This photo with my pup Lincoln is at our local Home Depot. These potted Golden Pothos were about $24 at Home Depot and had a post in the pot! look at how gorgeous! Lincoln wasn't as impressed apparently.
COST: $15-18 for a 6 inch pot (which still looks big because it trails!)
CARE FOR ALL THREE
This is the make it or break it part. If you don’t do it like this I don’t know what will happen. Using a cute little watering can here and there doesn’t cut it if you want them to stay alive.
- WATERING: About once a week I take all the plants in my house, sit them in my sink and spray them with a little lukewarm shower (like rain) and let them drain out in my sink well before returning to their spot in the home. The draining part is key because this is how you can never overwater! And for the love of all things decent make sure your plants are in pots that can drain!!!
- FERTILIZING: I use SuperThrive non-toxic vitamin solution intermittently in my watering can according to what the plant needs. Maybe like once a quarterish? You can buy it from lots of places and you can get a free sample from them here.
- CRITTER PROTECTION I don’t know how, and I really don't want to know but little mites and spiders will be drawn to your plants and pots. You don’t want that. I haven’t had any issues with these three types of plants other than spiders somehow wanting to make a home in the pot of the Snake Plant… so here’s my secret weapon:
PLANT PROTECTION OIL SPRAY
add 1 drop of Peppermint EO
1 drop of Rosemary EO
1 drop Cinnamon Bark EO
1 drop Cedarwood EO
per ounce of Neem Oil Extract
(add to a spray bottle)
Spray on leaves, on soil and around edge of pot as needed (after watering is best time). If you’d like a little sample of this spray, message me and I’ll mail you one! I make oil blends and potions if you want to know more secret weapons and recipes.
Don't even get me started about plant pot shopping. It's almost as fun as plant shopping. Greenhouses often sell broken in terra cotta pots (the best kind) for cheap! Nate Berkus, my favorite, designs the best baskets ever that can be used over pots for Target and Target also carries other brand planters like this adorable green Threshold brand planter on a wooden base! GAAAAAHHHH.
So, if you’ve killed houseplants before, give it another try (maybe just start with one! ). I feel like a room comes alive literally with someone living and thriving in it. It gives you a good reason to get up and open the blinds/curtains, you know? Just set a time weekly where you’ll give them all a little shower in the sink and there you have it!
Cheers to greener homes, cleaner air, #JungalowStyle and not murdering all the botanical things!!! You’ll be very surprised to find that you have a green thumb no matter where you live and who you are.
I've been leading worship in churches since the early 90's. I like to plan but I like to leave a little room too. You know, for God. For inspiration. For the room and the people in it. But sometimes it's hard to make that room and be sensitive to it. But today was one of those days.
Yesterday while driving out to south Charlotte to pick up my son from a CHOPPED (cooking show) themed sleepover at his buddy's house (such cool friends), the sun was shining and I was just processing the news. The images of airport protests and detained citizens and travelers. Snapshots of displaced Syrians. Mexican wall plans. Banned Muslims. The texts from friends of all different colors voicing fear of traveling for fear that their children would not be allowed back home. I was thinking about our Sunday morning gatherings, our communion table, my friend Cedric's message on embracing those left out in the cold by the church and the song just started. So I sang into into my phone. But only a verse and a half came out.
Then in church this morning listening to Cedric's moving message after leading worship with my friends, the rest of the song just came. So I jotted it in my phone, sitting there in the front room surrounded by a church full of friends. Some I know, some strangers. Some Bible believers and some on-the-fencers. Some gay some straight. Some black, white, brown, young, old, single, married, dating, divorced, separated. The song just poured out and what really could be better inspiration?
I decided it should be in the key of the next song and as we invited people to partake of the communion table, I laid my phone on the keyboard and sang this mostly spontaneous song. One that began in the car yesterday morning and had never been played, rehearsed or worked through. But the moment seemed right and God seemed just a bit thicker there.
I've just got to bow out of the social media debates as fretfully drawn to them I may be. I need to be "practicing for heaven" as we tell our kids and remind myself that heaven is borderless and wall-less. Chock full of Syrians and Mexicans. Welcoming and wider than we can wrap our minds around. And I want to practice well now.
Longer tables not higher fences, friends. God shed His grace on everyone. Every. That's literally all I really know right now.
Once a month, one of the staff members of our church, Watershed, writes a post for our blog for a series called POUR OVER. It's sort of a "what would we say to you face to face over a great cup of coffee if we had the chance" kind of conversation. This month, I wrote our November (and very first) POUR OVER and wanted to share it with you. It's something that's been kind of brewing in me for quite some time but something that I shared back in October on a Sunday (the video) in one of our church gatherings.
HERE IS THE POST. I hope it brings some healing your way this season.
You know what stinks? Me. At blogging with consistency. And more specifically, committing to my art.
You know what stinks even more? I LOVE writing. I REALLY love it. And I do a lot of it but most of it is work related (which I love as well) but it's not necessarily my own personal outlet.
I'm now 41 and have been since February. When I was 40 I audaciously began a "40 things I've learned at 40" series of posts and guess how far I got? THREE. THREE things, y'all. Wasn't that super enlightening? Here's something for your list...you know what I've learned at 41? I shouldn't so publicly display my lack of follow through by starting lists that are SO LONG, lists aren't my thing (they actually are and I wrote the 40 things in a list but wanted time to elaborate on each point which I INTENDED TO DO but didn't) and the squeaky wheel gets the grease when you're a mom and a wife, part time church staff, wife of a man with two full time jobs (pastor and a small business owner). Oh and our kids play sports and instruments so the calendar looks like a rainbow exploded on it.
I had a bit of a shocking discovery last year: I'm a type 2 and 7 (tie) on the The Enneagram (another discussion for another day, friends) and the 2 in me means that I tend toward saying YES to too many things (I mean, let's be honest, most of us do that but the reasons someone like me does it is actually quite dysfunctional but I won't get into that right now). It also means that I'm all about EXPLORING OPTIONS (type 2) and not so much about DOING. On top of it all I can become easily disorganized and overwhelmed finding little fueling in the maintenance and the squeaky wheel's the ONLY THING that'll get the grease if you're overextended and your creativity will bottle up inside you if you're not fighting for it.
Last year I started reading Steve Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART: Winning The Inner Creative Battle. I say I started it, because in classic me-fashion, I read a bit, carried it around in my bag which was stolen while in Atlanta last summer and then it took me months to order another copy, yada yada. But I'm back at it and after discussing it much of last year with my husband who had read it and was immensely impacted by it, I am quite convinced that creatively I haven't been myself for quite some time and I won't ever be again and if I'm not intentional about creativity. I can't wait for being in the mood, feeling inspired, having time, having the white space...that WILL NOT HAPPEN FOR MANY YEARS AT THE RATE WE ARE GOING. I have to schedule the space to create even if nothing great comes from it...and with all that has taken place in this past year, I feel as though I've barely had time to wash my hair (which I don't do everyday anyway), never mind, write. Steve says this:
"FEAR DOESN'T GO AWAY. THE WARRIOR AND THE ARTIST LIVE BY THE SAME CODE OF NECESSITY, WHICH DICTATES THAT THE BATTLE MUST BE FOUGHT ANEW EVERY DAY."
― Steven Pressfield
And so, since school began this year I am Bird By Birding it, as Anne Lamott likes to call it. Making myself sit down on a schedule (for me it's three mornings a week...and I often stand since I got into the standing desk thing last Fall) and I write. Even if it's total crap, I write. Even if my beloved cool-of-the-morning runs get moved to the getting-really-sweaty afternoons. Even if I have to push off answering emails for work that I'll then have to catch up on later that night or over the weekend. Even if I am not as present for volunteering at my kids' school as often or having as many meetings as I once did. Even if it means me saying NO to working more hours. Even if it means we're having tacos AGAIN because I'm only grocery shopping once a week. Even if there is what appears to be a rug consisting solely of my dog's hair moving across the floor in the room...even if, even if. Imma write.
And what has come out of it? Well, I had hoped for blog posts but it ended up being songs. Sitting at the piano rather than the computer screen has sucked me in. And in the past two months, about five and half songs that I like and three or four that completely suck happened. What will I do with them? Not completely sure as they're all over the map in content/style but some of them will part of a project that my friend Austin and I are working on for Christmas at Watershed as a fundraiser for an up and coming endeavor for our community. And...I'm excited about that which is such a better emotion than frustration which is the funk into which I slip when everyday looks like a rainbow threw up on my google cal.
So, to continue my list of 40 things I've learned at 40, that I really didn't grasp until 41, #4 would be don't make lists you'll never finish in your fortieth year, who do you think you are? and then
#5 || YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR CREATIVITY DAILY OR YOUR SOUL WILL SHRIVEL UP
The piano will not come tap me on the shoulder and invite me to make time for it. Your computer will not open your blog editor for you and beckon you to pour out your soul (although, maybe siri can do that now, I don't update any of the things, just ask my husband). The post-40 me is moving from "I always wanted to.... fix up an old Airstream, train a dog, try embroidery (fun fact: I stink at it), intentionally invest in the families of single mom led homes, learn to really use essential oils for things other than just making my house not smell like boys/farts, write a ______" to SCHEDULING TIME TO ACTUALLY DO IT. Or at least try to do it. Now that I've written this post the warrior in me might just be fueled enough to battle that furry rug I see out of the corner of my eye. If anyone needs any size 5 slim boys pants I know where a massive stash of them might be...
Tools that might help you in your scheduled creativity journey other than the books mentioned above:
+EVERNOTE || it's an app that captures all of your ideas and helps you keep them organized.
+A JOURNAL || I can't create with a computer or gadget in the room. I like colorful pens and a beautiful leather, well made journal. I'll unabashedly recommend one from this fine company because you can use it for the rest of your life and then will it to your great grandchildren.
+SUMMON THE SENSES || Even if your creative magic happens in a closet, make it smell fantastic. Light a candle (maybe not in a closet- the white patchouli in a glass jar candles the Marshalls near us is currently selling are amazing), incense (World Market has my favorites), or diffuse oils (I am in love with OnGuard blend..it smells like Fall in a bottle and makes you feel all things autumnal and spicy. Inhale the goodness.) String up some cafe lights, buy a cool old lamp. For the love of all things please do not try to create anything under fluorescent lighting unless you're creating brain surgery techniques then knock yourself out. Get a noise machine if you're in a loud space, for sure.
+DRINK SOMETHING WONDERFUL || After I get my two cups of coffee in me for the day my next favorite comfort beverage of choice currently is Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Tumeric Tea. It's like a hug of calm and spiciness and it's caffeine free and supposedly good for you.
+DEFINE THE SPACE IF YOU CAN || For many many moons we just didn't have the space for me to have a designated "nice" area for my piano/writing stuff. In our last house my keyboard was sadly in a closet in the basement (yikes) near the furnace/hot water heater and other loud ugly things with, you guessed it, fluorescent lighting overhead. So, I laid down a cheap vintage rug on the floor and hung one of these tapestries from the ceiling so I didn't have to see the machinery surrounding me. They go on sale at UA all the time and I've used mine for all kinds of things through the years...a tablecloth, a writing toga (not really but that should be a thing), a shower curtain. The possibilities are endless really. Glennon wrote from her "cloffice" (closet/office) for years and I love every word that woman has ever penned!
+PIN IT || Whether you're an old school bulletin board (which I am and shall never refer to as a vision board because that just isn't my thing) or a digital pinner (my husband is 100% digital and creative so that combo does exist I guess), make a visual list of what you want to learn/make/create. I have a cute tiny bulletin board over my desk but maybe you'd rather a Pinterest board. I urge you to keep it specific. Pin the actual instrument you want to play and not just "get better at music". Pin the title of the book you want to write (I hoard book title names and buy the domains to accompany them and then have I written a book yet? Nope. It's saved with the rest of the 40 things posts I never made. But when I do, that domain is locked and loaded). Then when you look at said real or digital board and schedule your "time to get creatively busy" you can actually remember what you're trying to do. I still want to play a tiny guitar like Ed Sheeran but I am not working on that pin this year. Maybe if I stop sucking it up so badly at the two pillows I'm trying to embroider I'll get strumming. HOW AMAZING IS AN ENTIRE WALL OF CORKBOARD, PEOPLE?!
+PACK IT || A lot of people live on the road or in constant motion. As great as it is to have a tapestry filled, oil diffused, well lit space sometimes you're staying at your uncle's house for Thanksgiving and want to still carve out time to MAKE. WRITE. TRY. CREATE. Don't be so practical that you don't pack your stuff. I make my kids pack their guitars on EVERY STINKING TRIP and I'm always happy to see that at some point on the long ride or at the campsite or during the visit that the guitar ends up getting played and time gets well spent. I bought a tiny keyboard controller years ago when I was traveling a lot for a job I was doing for a non-profit and I felt like I wasn't able to practice, write or arrange because hotels tend not to have pianos in their amenities. M-Audio makes some great ones and I packed a 49 key keyboard into my backpack and it fit well in the overhead compartment! Don't let utility get in the way of carving out time to make while traveling. My embroidery projects travelled all over the place this past year and spent quite a few nights in the old Airstream where they mostly got more tangled and sand covered but I made a little progress on them and it was worth the extra room they took up in my bag. I always tell my boys when we're leaving for the weekend or a week or just a few nights, "Pack something to read, play with and DO/MAKE." I'm taking my own advice on that one. One piece of advice, don't get your bag of creativity stolen out of your car while parked in valet in Atlanta like I did. it's a first worldy problem but it stinks nonetheless.
Here's what I know for sure and is my 3rd little #40at40 bomb I want to drop on you:
Faith is complicated, God is unfathomable and I've never held the answer...I just make overtures toward having a relationship with the Almighty.
A few years ago our church was doing a series I was invited to name which we called FAREWELL ALBATROSS (you can listen here - episodes 112-120). It was a teaching series all about letting go of baggage, embracing a whole relationship with God and realizing that from the beginning of humanity we have looked at God through a contractual lens rather than a covenantal one as He has extended to us. That one point alone was the impetus for writing this song and my good friend and one of my favorite musicians, Matt Shaughnessy played it with me at our show at The Muse a few summers ago.
Watershed is celebrating it's 10th anniversary in September and I'm thinking maybe Matt and I can revive this song that day (what do you think, Watershed/Charlotte friends?). I have questioned many things the past few years.
But I if I could tell you one thing about God it's that He's an evening walks in the garden, long talks over coffee, water-wine revising just to prolong the feast kind of God.
He wants to be with you. Really. Where you are in what you're doing on all the other days but Sunday too.
Also, this video definitely spurred me on to add yoga to my exercise regimen. Arms don't seemed to get toned while running I guess (regretting the sleeveless shirt while playing keys. That's another #40at40 post, perhaps?). Thank you Courtney for your constant encouragement and for booking us at The Muse that evening and to all the friends and family who filled the room...it was magical.
INK & BLOOD | Taryn Hofert 2013
I am bottom lines.
And signatures on dotted lines.
And contracts that bind.
You’re evening walks in a Garden
Long talks over coffee
Water-Wine revising just to prolong the feast.
I am ink and You are blood
I am lines and You are love
Still You fold Yourself into this caged heart
I’m the ancient mariner
with albatross neck-bound
And even with the blade in hand
I cannot cut the rope
You’re the Noose Unloosener
Bird like lead sinks in the sea
You think grace is never wasted on a captive heart like me
I am ink and You are blood
I am lines and You are love
Still You fold Yourself into this caged heart
I am fixated on boundaries
I am no forest and all trees.
Pedestrian, and questioning and rushing through the meal
You’re an Unrequited Lover
Unencumbered by my numbness
Unrelenting despite rejection and my disbelief.
I am ink and You are blood
I am lines and You are love
Still You fold Yourself into this caged heart
I wrote this post exactly 3 years ago while at the beach with family. After just spending a week at the beach with my crew and reflecting on so much that has taken place since then I wanted to re-share it with you with a few additional thoughts. For anyone who puts themselves out there and wrestles with people-pleasing, insecurity and comparison, this is for you...even if you've never been involved in church.
I once dated a pre-seminary student when I was in college. The thought of possibly one day being a pastor’s wife was, honestly, rash inducing. Really. The pastors’ wives I knew growing up sat in the front pew, had a flair for casserole preparation and were really nice. I was never going to be any of those things. Ever.
And I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't break up with him because I had no interest in pastor wifery or following him to Grand Rapids. I had plans. Music plans. Non-potluck plans. Nashville moving plans with one of my best friends. Songs to write and places to go other than sanctuaries or narthexes. Church people, you know what I'm talking about.
So, years later when I met my husband who was not a pastor when I first met him, and was more of a church staff member than pastor when I dated him, I had no idea what I was really getting into. Nashville turned into Virginia for me after college. Then India. Then, wait for it, MICHIGAN-- where my husband and I dated and married. Isn't it ironic.
But something was shifting in my systems loving, support staff, managerial husband. He loved speaking, studying, leading people. He had fallen in love with the local church and even though his wife sat in the back row, loathes casseroles and is inappropriately and hopelessly sarcastic, he wanted to become a pastor. A lead pastor much like the lead pastor for whom we worked and who had started that church from scratch over the course of many long, tumultuous years alongside and with the immense support of a fierce, generous, kind hearted wife and mother. Tremendously huge shoes to fill.
Scott wanted to be not just any pastor….but a church-planting pastor.
Starting from scratch. Moving to a new city and building a community from the ground up. The penniless kind of pastoring.
And I...still with no desire to be a pastor's wife, with tiny feet not meant for big shoe filling, wanted to be with him in it. That's all I knew. Also, escaping Michigan winter (aka 90% of the year).
There’s no man with whom I’d rather take on such a challenge…but 8 years ago when we moved to Charlotte, NC to start Watershed we really had no idea how PERSONALLY hard it is to start a church. It’s fabulously rewarding. It’s missional. And it’s tough on your marriage because it’s tough on your heart. At least at first. Until you work on heart-maintenance in this role.
And in those early years of our move to Charlotte, I'd look across the table with a baby on my shoulder at my husband who returned home covered in dust from installing countertops with his brother all evening to "make some money on the side" after I had worked at a preschool all day changing poopy diapers to also supplement our "income" and think WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?!
Have you ever seen one of these BYE BYE BUGGIES? I used to push one while working at the preschool. In the heat, stuffed with 6 of the chunkiest babies (including my son) you have ever seen. I can remember while pushing it one day around Myers Park thinking... I have a degree....I had a senior recital...I lived abroad...I was going to do things. Things with an income or at least EXCITING THINGS. I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS (any 90's Will Ferrell fans out there?)! Well, look at me now.
I felt defeated before we even started. And I felt like God had forgotten about the desires of my heart.
You see, when we were just staff members at a church, we took ownership in the church, but at a different level. I was a worship leader, he was a small groups and leadership development pastor. People would come in droves and sometimes leave in packs, but you move on. You do your job.
But when you start a church, person by person, family by family, each exit, each beef someone has with you, each “issue” and criticism can feel as though they’re calling your baby ugly. Your Facebook feed is filled with people who "used to" be a part of your church who now have moved on or haven't moved on at all and it's a constant, stinging reminder for which I was not prepared.
When people come to our church I always hope that they either just moved to town or that they never went to church before this. Because, if they left another church to be part of ours, usually we’ll hear their criticism of their former church. Which often means that we’ll be next on their list of letdowns and failure to please. I cried when a couple whom we valued deeply left our church and took several couples with them because we weren’t doing things the way they wanted. I lost sleep over our children’s volunteer who one day decided she and her family no longer needed a church community and just stopped being part of anything to do with us.
I sighed with disappointment when people sent email or letters or voicemails stating how we’re not “meaty” enough spiritually or too deep, or too concerned with poverty and we don’t have enough programs, why don’t we own a building, we’re too gay, we’re not gay enough, we’re too loud, we’re too soft, we’re not as flashy as the church down the street…what my husband takes in stride, I take terribly personally.
After all...a lot of countertop installations, dipaer changes, moving trucks, sweat, missing of special events in friends'/family's lives (Matt & Rachael's wedding, my grandfather's funeral just to name a few), selling of our precious Harley, instruments and other things were involved to make this thing happen. That's all I could see but what most people probably couldn't.
I remember a few years after we started Watershed a young pastor moved to town to also plant a church but in the suburbs of Charlotte. They needed a place for their band to rehearse and we gladly shared our small, humble rehearsal space with them. We were happy to partner with them. A few years later, as they were exploding by the thousands and that same worship band who shared our rehearsal room was topping the iTunes charts, they decided to open what must have been their 10th campus only a block from where we meet on Sundays and never mentioned it. It’s not that we owned Uptown, it was just that it would have been nice to “partner” rather than all bark up the same tree on the same block. It hurt my heart. I understood that we were a small fish and all that,
but every time I’d see a sticker from that church on someone’s car I wanted to throw a casserole at it.
And somewhere in this process, as people come and “stick” and grow and go deep and we watch God transform people from “hey, what can I get out of this” to “hey, God, how can I be your hands and feet in this city”, we fall to our knees in gratitude that we get to have a front row seat to this taking place. One baptism in our makeshift tank ruins me and reminds me.
I began to start praying the prayer “God, give me a soft heart and thick skin.”
That’s the only prayer I can think of some days. It's an honest prayer and one of survival. It’s the prayer I’d implore any pastor’s wife to utter. Or anyone.
I’m so unfit for my role. I’m not sweet enough or southern enough or pastory enough most of the time (or ever). I make the wrong comment on Facebook. My nose gets out of joint with frequency. I talk too much when I should be listening. I am easily swallowed up by my fear of us not measuring up or meeting expectations.
But God’s soft heart overcomes my casserole aversion and rough edges and He toughens me for this people pleaser’s undoing called leading the local church.
My husband calls church planting “sexy”: I’d call it skin-thickening. But either way, I’m admitting to you and asking God to help me have a heart not only for those homeless students and their families in the school where we work down the street but also for the churchgoers who I felt belittled by or made me feel defensive of my husband and our church. Remember, this whole church is irrevocably entwined with our family and the mama bear will come out sometimes. But...
Soft hearts don’t grudge hold. And thick skinned get over it.
Soft hearts tell their spouse "I'm in" and support them in their dreams even if the pay sucks and even if it involves pushing sweaty chunky babies around nice neighborhoods you'll never live in.
Thick skinned move on from the constant comparison to local mega churches, Nashville musicians who song write instead of juggling sweaty babies and those who seem to be "making it" when you feel you're hanging on by a thread. Blessed are those who handle staff transitions and disgruntled staff spouses, continual parting of ways of congregants, and constant location moves because you don't own a building.
Soft heartedness finds contentedness with and gratitude for what I DO HAVE and where I AM RIGHT NOW..no matter who approves, stays or leaves. Blessed are those who can embrace entrances and departures. As Ingrid so beautifully wrote..... "open hands are hard to hold onto". It's true. I have to let stuff AND PEOPLE go.
The SOFT HEART/THICK SKIN combo carries the mantra of NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE.
Dreams dashed or realized, Dodge Stratuses and all.
That's how the kingdom comes, you guys.
So, on Sundays, I have inched my way up to sitting in the second or third row (we don’t have pews) but the whole being considered “nice” thing, well, like I said, I’m in process.
So, not all of the things my 40 year old self would tell my much younger self are life-changing, epiphanic wisdom bombs. But if I'm older than you and you're reading this or, no matter your age, if you're planning on getting married and/or starting a new life with someone,
let me share this one very essential little nugget with you that no one shared with me:
Back in the year 2000 I was in love and newly engaged and excitedly hit the stores with a very unenthused- to-be-registering, minimalist fiancé to scan gun the daylights out of home essentials for our wedding registry. Weddings have changed a lot since Y2K and honestly, for the better.
I salute you, barn wedding having, non-tux renting, cooler people with digital wedding albums. None of that was around back then so we had it all: the over posed non-digital photos, the red rose bouquets instead of a handful of wheat and artichokes, audrey hepburn gloves for inexplicable reasons, the formal attire and unity candle, yada yada. I wouldn't change any of it because it was beautiful day, we were surrounded by friends and family, I married THE ONE and everything about it screams the era in which we were married (which will give our boys something to tease us about for decades to come). I mean, at 5 ft. tall maybe I could have worn a little puffier dress and veil? Ok, maybe I'd change that....
If I had that scan gun (or mouse) in my hand today, I'd scan much differently. So please, younger and/or soon to be married friends, learn from our mistakes. Since it's Spring, and wedding bells are in the air, and both my sister and sister-in-law are booked solid through the end of summer, please take note of point 2 on my list of 40 things I've learned at 40:
2. REGISTER FOR NEUTRAL TOWELS (and plates, while you're at it)
I don't care if your bathroom pinterest board is chevron, charcoal and jadeite...I'm telling ya, think of the future you, in your bathroom and don't fall for the classic blunder. I thought we nailed it with our sage and salmon selections circa early 2000's combo (see our linen cabinet photo above) and now, as I fold those blasted sage and salmon towels weekly (or pick them up off the floor because my sons are immune to hanging them up after showering) I want to go back in time and scan my own eyeballs. The towels are nice. They're good quality. They've held up for almost 15 years so we have a hard time justifying replacing them. But they're so so dumb.
Pretend like you're dressing for a safari and then choose towels in the shade of the pants you'd wear on said safari. A nice pale camel color. A subtle linen gray. Imagine a honey caramel Indiana Jones hat and scan THOSE towels. And let me tell you something: don't fall for stark white no matter how awesome they look next to white subway tile in the west elm catalog: you'll think you can bleach them but they'll only fade to a sad yellow with mascara stains and Lord knows what else in a few years. Go click on that killer egyptian cotton, non-attention drawing, thick, absorbent neutrally shaded towel and enjoy it for years to come in every bathroom, through every trend, in the laundry basket, on the floor, next to every shower curtain. Trust me. This is a mountain I'll die on.
Emily Henderson, as always, has good advice on this as well. For years engaged couples have had hopes of people just giving them honeymoon funds. Or gift cards. But most people want to leave that stuff up to you and want to possibly give you something you can enjoy for years to come- something wedding gifty. And if you don't point them in a general direction then inevitably they will give you crystal. The kind of crystal you never wanted, like heart shaped crystal wedding frames or obviously re-gifted lavender colored pillar candles. Even if you register they're still going to give you those things (or at least they did in 2001) but you might actually score a few killer bath towels that you'll have to look at for a long time and might still like.
CREATE A CANVAS RATHER THAN MAKE A BIG STATEMENT
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if people are going to spend money on you, the things you'll still love, keep, use and appreciate will most likely be the very classic, basic things you chose. My now husband was so disinterested by the wedding registry process he proceeded to scan every wall clock he could find (none of which we still have or still work) and our first condo looked like we were running a clock shop after our wedding- even in the half bath, we knew what time it was. We registered for most things at Target and a few things from a nice store (Crate & Barrel) that we worried, back in the days when people didn't really shop online, most people would not be able to access. And while we were so appreciative of people throwing us showers and giving us gifts we became a little overwhelmed in all that registering and ended up with choosing a lot of quantity over quality. A lot of wall clocks and who knows whats. You can actually tell a lot about a couple by their registry. He loves keeping time, I love salmon and sage apparently.
GUESS WHICH THINGS WE STILL HAVE?
When I reach in our cabinet for our set of champagne flutes from Crate & Barrel that our good friends and co-workers Amy & Norma gave us, I think of them and toast to them and their thoughtfulness and friendship. From the photo you can tell a few fell victim to our over exuberant toasting. When we serve dinner nightly to our family on the very basic white diner style plates, also from Crate & Barrel, that my wise college roommate Amber urged me to select (she also helped me choose the puffy dress, but ya win some ya lose some) I can imagine us continuing to share meals on them (with all the chips and scratches) for life. Instead of scanning so many wall clocks and getting carried away in the towel department, making a super basic but long haul kind of list would have served us much better. So what if we had to flip burgers with a fork and didn't get 4 spatulas....one full nice set of 8 million thread count sheets would rock. Quality over quantity. Basic over bold in the beginning. Foundations.
But really, this is about much more than wedding bell paper wrapped gifts and cabinet filling and wedding planning. Everything is spiritual. As Rob likes to say "This isn't always about this". Your home, no matter how humble, out of style or hip, rented or owned, is sacred. And you are beginning to create a sacred space...TOGETHER.
MY MOTHER IN LAW'S HOUSE IS COMPLETELY STARK WHITE Not just white person white, yes, that, but I mean like white carpet, white sofas, white walls- white everything, white. The first time she poured me a glass of cabernet there I was afraid to drink it inside. But the reason she loves the snowy color palette is that each season she adds a different accent color to the house. A springy set of throw pillows and flowers in April, kelly green taper candles on her fireplace and coordinating hand knitted blankets over the backs of chairs and sofas to match in the winter. Yes, she's Martha Stewart, not intimidating at all. (She's also one of the top selling realtors in Charlotte so she knows a thing or two about making a home more inviting). What I found very shockingly stark the first time I saw it I now view as pretty genius because it allows her to reinvent her space, express herself and make it new and exciting throughout the year. Although I'm still afraid to sip vino in her living room I love the versatility and variety the environment she has created offers....
THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF MARRIAGE CAN FEEL VANILLA And guess, what? That's ok. You're most likely doing something really right if it does... It can feel like all power bills and grocery lists and toothpaste tube debates. Perhaps it even feels a little sterile and nothing like you both imagined. But with every argument you work through and every counseling session you make the effort to attend together you are stretching and sweating to build that blank canvas. You can do this. And at only 14 years of marriage we are learning that the most romantic, most heart stopping and amazing moments haven't been found in our wedding album, exotic vacations or times when anyone was around to capture them.... they were on a Thursday, in our first year of marriage, when I spent the night on the bathroom floor because my birth control pills sent me there and awoke in the morning to find Scott had brought in pillows and spent the night there with me. Or on a hot summer's Michigan evening when we laughed (and almost cried) ourselves to sleep on a mattress in the basement of an old fixer upper that needed so much work we couldn't even live in it for months and wondered together what on earth we had gotten ourselves into as we stared at the spiderwebby floorboards and water pipes above our heads. Or one early morning over coffee when we heard our younger son with a speech delay actually say a few words strung together that made sense. No one else was there. There are no photographs of that moment. And we welled up with tears and raised our coffee mugs in a toast. And that toast wouldn't have happened without the basement dwelling and bathroom floor sleeping. It's incremental. It's bland before bold. It's a slow, slow burn, baby. I think if we spent more time on canvas construction than statement making in the early years more marriages would survive...
I'll leave you with this, one of Jack Handey's deep thoughts:
If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off. You see, we BUILD to that.
Stretch that canvas and embrace it's vanilla-ness. For the love of all things, don't register for bold colored/print towels. And take your sweet time before you try to yodel. This is what I shall write in every wedding card from henceforth.
Now, who wants to trade some sage and salmon Target bath towels for some caramel colored fluffy ones?
Well friends, since my childhood I've been digging through other people's thrown out, used belongings and loving it. My mother, sister and I consider ourselves ninja thrifters. My mom owned a children's consignment store when I was growing up in Connecticut and I worked there with her and we werecontinually surprised at how so few people know how to dig for used quality over brand new "not quality". We spent our weekends hitting up tag sales (garage sales to everyone who isn't from the north), consignment sales, thrift stores and stuff we found at the dump or on the side of the road.
Most of my house is furnished in either things I literally hauled off the curb on trash day or discovered in a dusty Salvation Army corner. In fact the very chair I'm sitting in while I type this on my front porch was at the curb/trash in a neighborhood near my boys' baseball fields and the homeowner who was moving said I could take them. I'm a craigslist and Ebay fan as well but nothing beats hands on hunting. Being that my job has been in the non-profit sector since the day I graduated from college I've learned a thing or two about stretching a dollar and have clothed my sons in hand-me-downs and thrifting scores since their births.
While I may not be an EXPERT in thrifting, per se, I do have a few tips I can share and since so many friends ask me where we got certain things in our home or ask me to help them find things for theirs I thought I'd get a few more of you to visit my blog by randomly posting things I see around town (and elsewhere) and cast a vision for you to abandon your Value City Furniture and Mall only ways and go digging!
One of my all time favorite designers and thrifters, Emily Henderson, does a piece on a her blog where she scans craigslist in different cities and gives her two cents on what she'd buy if she lived there and why it's so great. So here' my tribute to Emily (no, I'm not a designer, just a cheapskate and vintage lover with a lamp problem) and I hope that it'll be your gateway to some great other people's trash discoveries. I also have to give a shout out to TV star and Charlotte local Mr. Rashon Carraway who inspires me daily with his killer taste and mad thrifting skills!
HABITAT RESTORE ROUNDUP 3.25.15
If you're looking for home furnishings, the ReStore is your place. They have several locations around Charlotte and the Wendover location is the one I hit up with some frequency due to its proximity to my house. You won't find clothing here but you will find piles of furniture, frames, lamps, cabinetry, doors, windows, etc. I have been to the Wilkinson Blvd. location a few times and it doesn't seem as big but does have some great finds as well.
Usually the price is set at the ReStore, but if you are looking to a buy a few things or you discover something drastically flawed about an item, you can always talk to one of the sweet volunteers who run the place to see if there's anything they can do for you. I once purchase a pile of old doors to make room dividers for an office and the manager cut me a great deal for buying so many! What a great guy. And, you're making a great investment in our community when you make a purchase at the ReStore- so what's not to love?
I can't believe I'm telling you this, but TUESDAY is the day to hit the ReStore
They're closed on Mondays and all the stuff that was donated over the weekend seems to be hitting the floor on Tuesdays. They don't open until 10am so if you're an early bird trying to swing by on your way to work, fuhgeddaboudit. This location is often hit or miss for me but thrifting is all about just carving out a little time to walk the space and get ideas...as my husband too often reminds me, YOU DON'T HAVE TO LEAVE THE STORE WITH A PURCHASE. I repeat this to myself in the lamp section sometimes to no avail.
Usually the price is set at the ReStore, but if you are looking to a buy a few things or you discover something drastically flawed about an item, you can always talk to one of the sweet volunteers who run the place to see if there's anything they can do for you. I once purchase a pile of old doors to make room dividers for an office and the manager cut me a great deal for buying so many! What a great guy. And, you're making a great investment in our community when you make a purchase at the ReStore- so what's not to love? Just a note, I know no measurements nor do I know if these items are still at the store...go or call and check them out (these pics were from yesterday afternoon!)
Ok, enough of my yapping. Here's the Restore Roundup
1. VINTAGE SET OF PATIO GLIDERS - $200
Don't be sad, but these are SOLD already. I posted them on my instagram account yesterday and my very wise friend Rachel scooped them up instantly. This price is a steal and LOOK WHAT PEOPLE HAVE DONE WITH THESE GLIDERS (just please don't paint them all one color and try to make them look modern). Similar sets sell for the $1500+ range restored! This set would take any porch from sad to brilliant. Someone said they saw this set there last Saturday...how were they not already taken?! Oh, Charlotte, I so don't get you. The mint green. They both still glide and only one really needs some TLC (looks to me like one had been on a covered porch and the other not so much.
2. VINTAGE MUSTARD/GOLD MID CENTURY SOFA $650
The only reason this sofa might be here a little while is the price. While a place in town that buys all this stuff up and resells it for a fortune (they also overfill craigslist with their listings), aka Midcentury Salvage (don't get me wrong, they have great stuff, but I like my mid century on a smaller budget, Habitat usually doesn't ask these prices. BUT, this sofa is BAD TO THE BONE.
I could see this in a stark white room with dark wood floors and fiddle leaf fig tree in the corner. GAH. The pattern is amazing, the condition is FANTASTIC (no rips or tears that I could see) and it's LONG! Your whole family could sit on this thing and drink madmen drinks and look fabulous. And look at THE LEGS ON THIS THING!!!! And that cute little round matching pillow. Really, I was made to lounge on this thing. I heart it.
I'm spatially challenged, as my husband often reminds me, but I'm gonna say this bad boy is at least 8 ft. long? These pics don't even do it justice. I feel like Anthropologie would throw one of these in their home goods section and price it at a frillion dollars plus shipping. Am I right? Let's keep moving...
3. VINTAGE BRASS OVAL MIRROR - $50 (note: if you like my blog, buy this for me I want it so bad)
Ok, I must really love you, because I almost didn't post this because I want to drop everything and drive over and get this mirror and hang it on the wall in our room and possibly paint the brass black or another color and love it forever. This thing weights a ton, has no cracks or scratches that I could see on the mirror, is ovally delicious and it is pretty cool in old brass but I think could look even better in a shiny black finish. Or possibly green. Ok, now I really want it. I think it's about 4ft. or so long and I'm pretty convinced it's old. How amazing would this be over your sofa? Or dresser? or if you had a skinny wall hanging it vertically over a small console table? it could be flanked by sconces for the ultimate entryway. Oh the possibilities are endless. If I had $50 in the budget I'd get it. But still, Target sells way lower quality mirrors for even more, so this is a great deal. Again, Anthropologie would paint this thing pale turquoise, hang it betwixt $900 curtain panels and you'd be swooning.
4. VINTAGE SET OF GREEN DRESSERS - $250
Attention parents of boys: this is a killer set. For girls too, but I guess since I only have boys, I tend to envision them in a son of any age's room. Whoever painted them did a great job...and I love the shade. It's not hunter and it's not kelly...it's right in the middle and it's subtle without being 90's. I also love the lines of these dressers. No funny stuff...just nice sleek lines with a tiny pit of retro rounding on the edges.
I think these dressers are from the 50's or 60's and I think perhaps a handle replacement is in order here, but up close, these aren't too bad...I'm just not for the monochromatic look with the hardware. Some oil rubbed bronze pulls could be cute on these. Also, check out the two cabinet doors on long low dresser...hello, storage! Slap a changing pad on that long dresser for a baby boy and hold on to this set as they grow into stinky, bigger clothes having teenagers.
Please don't buy a changing table/dresser set at Babies 'R Us made out of particleboard. I beg of you expectant parents.
5. SET OF LOCKERS - $170
I love lockers and if I had a mudroom or enough room in my laundry room, I would so install some of these. Love the color of these. With a little elbow grease and heart sticker removal (hey, they're authentic) they could look great. Good price. They also have a set of gray metal lockers (to right) that are in the $200 range. I am not sure if they are able to be separated but if they could, wouldn't that be great? If you live in an old house and don't have a coat closet, how much cooler would this look than a big old Ikea take-2-years-to-put-it-together wardrobe? What about for a playroom? My kids have piles of swords, bows and arrows, light sabers...imagine a playroom line with these instead of stuff sticking out of toy boxes all over the floor? You could use these in an art/craft room and organize all your goodies and make it look cute at the same time. Bottom line, if you need storage, this is a cool way to do it. Now I'm thinking of getting rid of one of my boys shelves or dresser in their rooms to use this...hmmmm. I'm gonna say they're about 5ft (my height) tall.
5. RUSTIC DARK WOOD DROP LEAF TABLE - $195
In the grand scheme of craigslist, this isn't the greatest price, but for the ReStore, this is pretty good. This table looks really great up close, has good patina and would be great for a tight space where the drop leaf would enable you to have more guests but not take up too much time on a daily basis. Would be great in a kitchen nook or even in a play room for special projects. I could also imagine this on a cute screened in porch with some cute rattan or wicker chairs? It's cute and with some mismatched industrial chairs I think you could make a very Restoration Hardwarey look for less than what an Ikea set would cost you.
6. VINTAGE RED LAMP - $15
As I mentioned earlier, I have a serious vintage lamp problem and longingly inspected this and its fabulousness. My son has a lot of red in his room and I considered it for a brief second then thought of my marriage first and foremost, the vintage eagle lamp he already has on his nightstand and reconsidered. But the velvet piping on the drum shade.....LOOOOVE. It's pretty cool. You should get it. It's $15 and you can test it out there to make sure it works.
Did I mention the ReStore gives you a 30 day return period in case something doesn't work properly? Seriously. I actually did buy a lamp there yesterday, but don't tell Scott.
Wanna see it? I'll try to post it soon.
7. PINE DROP LEAF TABLE WITH 2 EXTRA LEAVES - $45
Whoever priced this was smoking something, but hey, good for you. We don't have a really long table so when we have a lot of people over for dinner I'm always using random things from our house to make our table longer. I actually considered using this as a side/console table just so that I could then use it with or without its leaves for when we need a really long table. I am not a huge pine lover so I think i'd probably paint this (Annie Sloan paint would be cute) but a table this convertible with 2 leaves for under $50: this is the stuff thrifting is made of.
Whoever priced this was smoking something, but hey, good for you. We don't have a really long table so when we have a lot of people over for dinner I'm always using random things from our house to make our table longer. I actually considered using this as a side/console table just so that I could then use it with or without its leaves for when we need a really long table. I am not a huge pine lover (but this pine seems pretty quality and almost has a rustic/cabiny feel so I kinda like it) but I think i'd probably paint this (Annie Sloan paint would be cute) but a table this convertible with 2 leaves for under $50: this is the stuff thrifting is made of.
8. VINTAGE BRASS SOLID LAMP - $45 I think?
Not a fan of the price (too high) but am a fan of this cool solid, nice quality aged brass (not shiny gold) lamp. The price seemed a bit steep to me and the shade was so cheesy I spared you the sight of it. I wonder if you could ask for a better price in comparison to other lamps there. This lamp could feel 80's in the bad way, but with a nice shade you'd have yourself a really nice piece.
Personally if you had a room with navy in it, I think this would pair really well with it...maybe a nice linen drum shade? Oh you could get creative. I'd say the the big part of base is at least 2 ft. tall. Good sized lamp.
LOVE VINTAGE STUFF BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR SPACE?
As I mentioned before, I'm not a designer, just a cheapskate, but I do have a friend who is a designer, fellow cheapskate and talented thrifter. So here's a shout out to my friend Wendy Fennell of Bohemian Bungalow Design who can not only help you reinvent your space but also has a knack for repurposing what you already have. Check out her site for all kinds of ideas, goods, tips and info on how she can help you!
I'd love to hear about your thrifting tips and if any of you purchased any of these items how you used them!
PEACE OUT & MAY THE THRIFT GODS BE WITH YOU.
I turned the big 4-0 on Valentine's Day. In honor of this over-the-hill milestone, I'd like to share 40 things I've learned on this often awkward, very enlightening and not always the wisest but fulfilling journey of mine.
1. BE SEASONALLY SENSITIVE
Most of us fall into one of two categories: monochrones or polychrones.
No, I'm not making up these terms. They're real.
- Do one thing at a time
- View time commitments as critical
- Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks)
- Adhere religiously to plans and dislike changes
- Emphasize promptness, always
- Are accustomed to short-term relationships
- Do many things at once and are highly distractible
- View time commitments as objectives
- Are committed to people and relationships
- Change plans often
- Base promptness on the significance of the relationship
- Built for long-term relationships
When I first discovered these terms about eight years ago it was as if someone made a Venn diagram out of my marriage. NOW I GET IT. He's a mono and I'm a poly. Our google calendars sync into a painful color coded irritation soup for him. He has been planning for retirement since he was eleven and I'm still trying to figure out what shade of greige to paint the bathroom.
And if, like me, you're a polychrone, you most likely experience failure to transition.
Not just transitioning from sleeping to jumping out of bed. Like transitioning from being someone with a career and a full-time to job to perhaps, a stay at home mom or part-time employee or maybe even someone now unemployed. Like being single after being in a long term relationship. Like watching your kids get on the bus and realizing the baby days are behind you and feeling (ahem...let me swallow this massive lump in my throat) nostalgic, paralyzed and a even a little bit frozen. Adele Nazeem.
Yeah, me too.
And now, fourteen years into marriage, my monochrone husband shares with me that I'm not alone in my struggle. Because even though he is forward thinking and transitions with greater ease, monos struggle with thinking so much about what's next that they miss right now. All the planning eats up the present.
Monos are moving ahead, polys get stuck behind: but no one is in the RIGHT HERE & NOW.
And that, my friends, is what I want to remind you to do. To be present where you are right now and really embrace it. In all of its uncomfort or comfort. There's no room for dualism when it comes to our time: monos and polys must unite and become one. Become a presentchrone (now I really am making stuff up) by putting down your phone and shutting your laptop and setting aside your worry and self-consumption for long enough to chase your kids around the house when they get off the bus today. Or to wrap your arms around the one you love when you wake up tomorrow morning. To make more memories than scrapbooks. Eat the strawberries while it's summer and do the things you can only do right now that you can't do another time- because you don't get this time of singleness or newlywedness or new parentness or teenagerness or retirementness or even recent grievingness or whatever it is that you're in back...so really, really be in it.
Quite a few years ago we started a family tradition of customized, time consuming themed birthday parties for our boys. Not rent out the roller rink kind of shindigs, but the homemade kind that pretty much celebrate the "big thing" the boys were really into that year. Except that I'm not the most pinteresting. From Green Lantern to violins, to WIPEOUT, to Eragon- there have been elaborate games and snacks and costumes and themes that sort of outline all their little passions in their seven and ten years. Why did we start this and how do we make it stop? I blame my creative mother, party waiting to happen father and photographer sister for all of this. My favorite memory of one of the boys' extravaganzas involved my husband in a Gryffindor tie, Harry Potter glasses and shorts all alone at our neighborhood park setting up a Hogwarts scavenger hunt for eight very excited party goers while random park goers gave him bizarre worrisome looks. Last year my just turning seven year old, Keane, chose the theme of Samukai. No, I didn't know who it was either, but just so you know, he's a lego ninja and we spent the sleepover with bandana clad mini ninjas chopping airborne marshmallows with plastic swords while we bid farewell to all the Samukainess of age six to then usher in a new year. It was sweet, it was sticky and it was a blast.
I'm a terrible transitioner. I'm painfully poly. And sometimes sentimentality and sensitivity actually cause me to miss out on the beauty that's happening in this very hour under today's sky. I constantly am reminded of something one of my boys' favorite Montessori teachers asked us as parents to do for our children:
"Give them 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact along with your undivided attention every day".
You know what's sad? It's freaking HARD to do. And I'll be tucking them into bed and night and realize, we never did it. But it's not too late. Honey, tell me more about your day. What was the best part? What exactly are you building with all those legos scattered on the floor? And while my heart refills after sinking that I missed out on doing something so simple and meaningful that day, I'm continually reminded... it's never too late.
I think about this with God often. What does 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact with Him look like? What does it look like for you? Do you realize you never really made room for that right as you're falling asleep after a netflix bingewatch? Yeah, me too.
May you embrace your current season of life. May you maximize it. May you give those you love the daily Montessori 10 minutes they deserve. May you give the One Who Is Love your undivided attention. May you not miss the now because you were stuck in the days-of-yore past or the can't-wait-'til-then future.
Btw, I'm the "tall" ninja at the Samukai party. xo.
I love you Donald Miller.
I love your Blue Jazzy writing and have incorporated your books into many a small group community and watched people's hearts and imaginations set ablaze by your story and your insight.
But man, THIS stings.
It's chock full with your awesomeness but do people really need more ammo on why not to be part of church? Sunday morning is already just so beautifully sleep-in-able.
I remember the first time I ever heard you speak…you and your pastor from Imago Dei, who had been instrumental in your spiritual journey, sat (both of you with similar figures at the time) on stools laughing and sharing your shared stories. It inspired me, as a fresh new church leader, to be in the lives of people in my city who might one day, who knows, write their own Million Miles. Local church and your pastor were so entwined in your authorship and journey that when you were you invited to speak in front of thousands, you had him take the stage with you. Beautiful. Inspiring.
I believe in the Church. The Church being people.
Super flawed, but coming together to not only know God via community and learn from each other, but to beautifully combine our generations, experiences and lives to make something LOCAL and representative of who Jesus called us to be in the very towns/cities/villages and places in which we dwell. Compassion incarnate. In numbers. In diversity.
If I read one more christian leader post a blog or statement about the top 10 reasons they left the church or why they don't "attend it" when they know FULL WELL how freaking tough it is to lead a community of faith, i'm going to stinking cry. or something. have we not better things to do with our energies? that goes for all the former church staff/pastor authors who write books to sell to the church on how to be a better church or church leader yet continue to bash it's value. or not actually be a living breathing part of a church. they just go from gig to gig hired to lead worship or speak at it but don't have one to call home.
church isn't about sunday morning. it's about serving each other and knowing God better and being more than we can be in our own living room or mountain top hike. there are moments for that. but there are moments for caring for the single mom, celebrating the birth and life of those in our community and sharing with each other. i will take bullets for it. If I can find the time I'll try write blog posts and a book on all the reasons you SHOULD give The Church a chance. Whether it's out of style or antiquated, and although super-screwed up at times, it is one of the things for which I'm most grateful and am giving my life to further. Why? I have watched my friends be transformed by the love and power and beauty in it.
yes, i've also, like you, watched people be destroyed by it…
but do we stop falling in love because divorce exists? hell no.
And I know that I can do more to further a Kingdom of love by being part of a Church community than by not. Being a part, not attending. Don't throw stones at educating children and not expect teachers to be infuriated. Same with continually trashing being part of THE CHURCH with those who are leading it. And planting it. And hoping to help it thrive. not cool. If you are a person of faith with influence, do something awesome with it instead of discouraging people from being part of something in their community that could do good, bring and help restore hope and deliver God to them in the form of song, in encouragement, in flesh and blood face to face conversation and presence.
Although I am not denominational, I believe in The Church. I believe in People. I believe in local. I believe that when we gather and serve and sing and pray and give and learn TOGETHER we are stronger and more meaningful. And deeper. And a million great things I could bullet point in a blog or book. So if you spend all day writing or blogging, how about you bullet point those precious amazing things rather than discouraging people from it? and continually criticizing it? authors/speakers/bloggers/WL's: if you are willing to make your living off the church's $, bookings & readership, be sensitive to the people giving their lives to help make it possible for them to have a Church community to call home. I'd love to be passive and thumbs-up these blogs/statements/books people keep sending me, but i can't help but feel completely frustrated by them. Let's be known by what we're for not what we're against. Shall we? Much of this thought process began when some of my very favorite Pastors and teachers left the local church for consulting, conference circuits, blogging and authoring. Although all beautiful things, they were such amazing local church examples in my life that I felt saddened that they’d give it up for giving their two cents on church leadership while no longer leading it. What a loss to their cities. To their communities. I fear many an opportunity has been squandered for the lure of The National Stage.
A friend of mine who was formerly a church pastor and church planter asked me, "how long does someone need to stay in local church as a pastor or leader before moving on to other things"? I don't know. That's not the point. But if by other things you mean moving on completely from being a part of The Church then I hope that day never comes for you. Because if you have or have had influence, people will follow your lead.
I love that Dr. Oz still does heart surgeries even though he's moved on to be a TV show host.
He's still in it. Neck deep in it. I want to ask him heart surgery questions because he still has a scalpel in his hand. I bet his fellow surgeons of NYC are thrilled that a surgeon of Oz's caliber hasn't left "the game" and that more people are still alive because TV wasn't more important. I speculate.
I choose to embrace her (The Church) in all she lacks because it’s not Sunday morning and steeples that are holy but rather the collection of people together in community doing something greater that is very very holy. And amazing. And messy. If you've led it or experienced good in it (The Church), don't kick it while it's down. Help it up, brother and sister.
Sarah Bessey (who might be my new favorite blogger) wrote THIS on not giving up on The Church. and it's amazing. and you should read it right now.
Even-keeled: something I've never been. Laser beam focus: something I've never had.
Taking things in stride: not my forte.
I freak out about stuff. Stuff that isn't even freak-out worthy.
Worrying is my spiritual gift.
I come from a long line of fiery Irishmen. And women. Freckles and feistiness. Sleeve wearing hearts. More reactionary than reserved. More joshing than gentleness. I didn't grow up drinking sweet tea and it shows.
Sarcasm is my native tongue. Loyalty is my lens for everything- to a fault. To a big stinky fault.
One might think that at my ripe old age of almost 39 I'd have finally embraced my own lack of continuity. That smooth sailing's not in my DNA. That I'd stop trying to find regularity and embrace the free form, meter-less thing that is my life and my handling of it.
When I think about my own personal story and as I reflect on all the moves (many) we have made over the course of the past few decades...maybe my obsession with "home" and making it "home" and always re-inventing or re-imagining home is that
I want brick and mortar when I've been invited to pitch a tent.
And re-pitch it…with frequency.
Since moving to Charlotte in 2004, we exchanged solid, insurance-having jobs with offices of our own for inconsistency, newness, and unexpectedness. Which is one part ridiculously breathtaking and another part bittersweetly unsettling. Not Settled. Never Settled. Never ever ever.
And, for better or worse, due to the nature of the "line of work I'm in", I've been given a front row seat to the lives of many. For the celebration and the heartbreak. For the addition and subtraction. And although somewhere, somehow on some evaluation or inventory I scored high in mercy, this communal roller coaster is one for which I'm ill-equipped.
Last month while running my weekly route, I had my first ever panic attack. I've heard about such things, and definitely have had my rashy, blotchy, light-headed moments of anxiety in my life, but never a full-on, I can't catch my breath panic attack.
I stopped behind a big parked truck on the side of the road and did some kind of hyper-ventilating meets crying meets looking around to see if anyone could see me kind of thing like loon. If you saw me on Colville Road that day, I'm really sorry for the public display of crazy.
So I walked home from my run. I turned off my iGadget and pulled out my earbuds and listened to my pounding heart and squeaky wheezing while the unseasonably warm December wind blew on my frizzy, sweaty head. And by the time I got home, it was ok. I was ok.
I won't bore you with the details that led to my aforementioned hyperventilation, and although I'd never physically experienced the manifestation of my worry in this unsightly form, I've been here before. Big change. Feeling overwhelmed. Feeling defeated. Rug pulled out from under and even though it's happened before, the fall is just as hard and maybe even a bit more painful due to old bruising. Like my current favorite songwriter wrote Ryan O'Neal wrote
...All the bruises seem to surface like mud beneath the snow.
The Bible is said to be God-breathed. Inspired by God. By people who were able to witness God in the flesh, God in action firsthand or His handiwork.
In these past few weeks, when my lungs seemed tight, when my breath seems shortened, when my longing for a cadence, any cadence of constancy no matter the speed of the tempo surfaces…it's here in the stopping and regrouping and headphone removing and publicly disheveled moments that my mind drifts from my own sputtering heartbeat to a sparkling puddle on the sidewalk and the sound of my shoe hitting the cold pavement. The unexpected beauty in pulling up the stakes on this tent and finding a new place to nestle in with hopes that the destination isn't desert but something lush and life-giving. But either way, I'll call it home there because who I am never trumps who's with me.
And here, a month later, when the test results from the doctor were good, when the disaster that wasn't averted might not have been such a disaster, when friends new and old share my unsettledness in stride, when my husband reaches across the lego-covered table to hold my hand, when I run that same route down Colville...I feel the exhalation of my crippling fear and I drink in the first-hand handiwork of an ever-patient, magnificent and creative Creator and the sense of my own form being God-breathed. Even someone uneven-keeled like me.
The very breath of God can fill this square peggedness. And this sweaty, frizzy downcast head gets lifted.
And for that, God, I am so very grateful.