Five Minute Friday: Writer (For my husband on our 16th anniversary)

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MichaelAshGoofballs

Michael and I hamming it up in 2009, early 90′s senior photo style

He called me a writer long before I called myself one.

He encouraged me to take the space and get away to etch and tap words, to let my mind run free from the crumbs scattered across the counter and the little people across the floors. He told me my stories were worth telling, and that it didn’t matter what anyone thought or said or how I convinced myself otherwise because I was, in fact, a writer.

He’s a writer himself, but he doesn’t really know it.

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The Making of a Mother

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LalaWithDandelion

It began with a rush and a flood and a steady slow trickle.

It began in spinning anxieties and a heart that pounded fierce love and basked in her eyes, little neck and gurgles like wet birds.

It began with deep soil digging and gave birth to skeleton structure and walls with rooms and furnishings and vases of dandelions.

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What I learned in March

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RainbowOverHome

1. Roller skating makes me feel crazy alive. I can roll and roll and roll around a circle (oval?) with my limited skill in the midst of some of my favorite people and a man flourishing a white towel with every epic twirl, and never tire. I cannot explain why repetitious circles on the rink amidst the age old smells of stinky socks and leather skates move me like they do, but some things are not meant to question.

2. Each pair of my jeans wear out in the same place, and I can tell you, as Sici told me, it’s not a place people would pay to have intentionally “distressed.” Why can’t I get some appropriate knee wear? I’d be willing to wear them for years after that, but this locale, in the lap, shall we say? Not so much.

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Love and loss in the middle of the night (Just Write)

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DarkBlossoms

She pads into our room at dark o’clock and tugs on my shirt.

“I had a bad dream, but I don’t want to talk about it,” Lala says blankly, reciting the script as if by memory.

Even in the middle of the night, I recognize the “storytelling.”

“Are you sure you had a bad dream, honey?” I ask. “Did you come in because you wanted to snuggle with Mama and Papa?”

No answer.

 

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What makes me afraid, why it’s hard to share & other conundrums of life and motherhood

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Preapproved1

We finish the last of our latte foam, and she asks if I’m excited about the year ahead, and I am. Forty feels like new frontier as much as it feels a continuation. I’m carrying a renewed sense of purpose, and I’ve almost danced for joy these last two weeks, relishing all this grace and love, these celebrations of life.

I’m reminding myself to let it soak in. Not to ask if I’m deserving, but to allow this to be a time for rejoicing.

I turn the pages of the book made just for me by my sister, mama and papa. The one that Ali filled with love words, specific ways I’m cherished from head to toe — filled with Scripture and gorgeous visuals and life-giving quotations, speaking the language that cuts straight to my core — these affirming words. I read and let the beauty and thoughtfully chosen lines soak cracked spaces.

This is a treasure I’d grab in a fire.

On Sunday afternoon, I spend time in my office, think about what inspires me, decorate. I listen to Dolly Parton and old country and sip an IPA. I feel perfectionistic tendencies rear their uglies, but I press on, even after I spill my drink all over the carpet, and the picture hanging hooks scatter, and a frame crashes from the wall.

When it’s done, I try to put away negative eyesight — the vision that can always find the gaps — and sigh gratefully, “Oh, look at my space. I love this.”

And then the girls have needs. They want to help. They have ideas and want to be in here with me. I want this space to myself, and I feel the gift of their presence along with my selfishness that starts rearing its big head. I’m not sure how to navigate this because now that there’s a space for me, I’m finding it hard to share.

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Five Minute Friday: Crowd

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BlossomsOnBlue

We want both.

To blend into the crowd and yet somehow rise above it. To know we belong and yet bubble up distinct.

We walk into a room and scan the corners to see if we’re dressed right, if we look right, if anyone’s noticed. We look for a chair and worry if eyes fall on us. What are they thinking? Is there something on my face? Is this dress unflattering? Where are my people?

We twirl in spinning dresses before our fathers. “Look at me, Papa!” Tell me I’m beautiful.

We reach out for her embrace and worry when her frame stands cold. Did I do something wrong? Maybe I came on too strong. 

We shirk the chains and long to break from walls defining us. You don’t know who I am.

We tell our story and wait for a resonant response. I’m so glad you get me.

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Wisdom for writing and living from the Faith & Culture Writers Conference

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FaithAndCultureWriters2014

If I could bottle the drippy treasures for you in bottles, I would.

Cup my hands to catch the prayers and the locked gazes and nodding me-too’s. Hold the wisdom of those who share the ways of word loving (and word struggling), of storytelling and eyes opening yet further.

Gather up the pure worship of brothers and sisters, the courage of those taking mighty risks to come to the table, the silence of those who know to stop in flurry’s middle to listen, the exuberance of those who cannot stop talking or asking questions or smiling.

The creative process can be a mighty lonely one, and so it is new breath and life for dry bones when we meet together and when the “successful” lay themselves low to tell about their ego trips and their fears and meet our doubts and qualifications with the declaration: “Writers are people who write.” (Sarah Thebarge)

And when we were reminded that we write for the sake of art and beauty, and we can write off the rutted paths and into the open and untapped fields, as Tony Kriz said, we recall that we are explorers.

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A Room of Her Own

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TreehouseOffice

In her treehouse the light pours across the cut camellias
and mug of peppermint tea,
steam tendrils rising against a periwinkle sky

The ancient typewriter sits on the shelf keeping guard
over all the books, so many words drawn in wise tenderness
by writers before

She arranges the rocks and the miniature roses on the antique desk,
decides against music so she can sip quiet sunlight with her tea

Three little ones and her love unveiled this room
on the occasion of her birthday eve,
at the end of two journals,
when snow blank pages greeted her

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Five Minute Friday: Willing

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PeelingBark

Gradually I’m becoming more willing.

To pick up or set down. To push through or let go. To be peeled back. I know how little I know, so I have to listen closely, be willing to let layers fall.

These kids with their messes and personalities, preferences and problems make some good noise when I listen, continually reminding me how much is out of my control and, too, how many important things lie smack dab within the choices I make.

I say I am willing to do whatever they need, and I will advocate, protect and love until the end, but if I think it’s about willing myself to be the mom who’s everything they need, I can almost predict the crash and burn around the corner.

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