it’s not enough

Ok, humans. I need to preface all of this with an acknowledgment that I’ve spent a significant amount of time debating clicking ‘Publish.’ Because we might not be on the same page. I also want to make it 10000% clear that I believe in humanity as a whole. And I also support those whose role is to protect and serve. In fact, I personally know and love some of them. But, it is possible you might not like what I’ve poured out here. And, it’s ok. And also? Going back to something I’d shared a while back, I can’t give one single crap about that. Finally, I truly believe we can still be friends. The world would be so boring if we all felt the same. Amiright?

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more golden things

Oh, 2020. Although it feels like 17 months ago now that the calendar changed, I remember how much hope you held. And now? Well, now I think you’re kind of a jerk. And it’s only June.

In hindsight, how many times have we heard ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ And how many times do we do exactly the opposite because, things! They hold such promise! And I turned 40 at the Grand Canyon! And Connor had a golden birthday! And my dad turned 70! And Connor finished middle school! And Alyssa graduated from college! And we were going on trips!

And that’s where that word that rhymes with zovonatirus broke everything. Because we had a grand family trip planned (after the other trip CJ and I had to cancel) to one of my very favorite places in all of the entire universe (which my familiarity of travel-wise is fairly small, but still) … Colorado. We were planning on leaving this coming Monday.

And while it is really, really difficult to put my hopes back down about a hot air balloon ride in the middle of Rocky Mountain country (wut?!), there is still cause for celebration. And this is where I’ll peel my temper tantrum-throwing body off the floor to share something really sweet.

These two? They’ve been married for 50 years. 5.0. Fifty. Weren’t they adorable? That was February 14, 1970. The day my dad proposed. And for the record, my mom was still in high school.

Now, I can’t sit here and pretend I know the secret to a staying power like theirs because … I’ll just say that I will likely NEVER be married for 50 years (yo! potential husbands! we are running out of timmmmme!). But, just like Forrest Gump, I know what love is.

And it’s what they’ve got.

My devotional actually led me to the love chapter this morning. You know … the one they read at all the weddings. I’ve been especially taken with The Passion Translation as of late and the seventh verse hit me in a special kind of way.

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. 1 Cor. 13:7 (TPT)

I should have asked them what the trick is to tolerating the same human being for that.freaking.long but after watching them for the past forty years, I have a few ideas. I’ll be as brief as I can (grab a pencil and some paper, too. it’s a golden list. duh.)

  • You become best friends
  • You know every good and bad and even terrible thing about the other and love them anyway
  • You compromise (often). This is also known as sacrifice. Which is also known as do the hard thing sometimes because you choose them first
  • You find things you both enjoy so you can keep that date thing a real thing
  • You opt for shared interests in TV when going out isn’t an option for whatever reason zovonatirus. This might include such gems like Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Chicago Fire and America’s Got Talent. And, when the time is right (is it ever?), Hallmark Christmas movies
  • You wear matching jackets occasionally. These can include both spring jackets as well as mauve-colored leather. I’m still so proud of my dad for being that bold
  • You share in major decision-making … home, kids, work, finances, etc.
  • You celebrate each other’s successes. And you still celebrate even if you are struggling
  • You make each other coffee. That’s a total given, right? But you also know how the other takes their coffee; which is more important
  • You take care of the other when they’re sick or if they’ve had not one, but two, major surgeries and they might be a little ‘difficult’.
  • You show each other affection. Even if your kids think it’s so, so gross. Which they will. You talk openly about how hot and bothered the other makes you. Again, so gross. But looking back, it’s something I am so grateful for (except for a few interesting moments. ha!)
  • You find out the other’s love language and love them that way; even if it feels weird and foreign to you
  • You take care of each other’s feet. And if you have the money, you go get pedicures. Together. This is an actual thing
  • You pick a side of the bed and it’s yours forever and ever, amen. And, if you’re super nice and it’s cold, you warm up the other’s side before they get into bed. 50 extra credit points for that
  • You find a comfortable couch just in case you lost your spot in the bed (that can be due to coughing fits as well, to be clear)
  • You side with each other when your kids are trying to play one of you against the other. Or you at least apologize when your daughter(s) are far too convincing
  • You know that there is literally no one else on the planet that you would want by your side for the rest of this life. And you act that way

Quite frankly (dad! lol), I could go on and on with what I’ve witnessed in a marriage that spans 50 years, but here’s the very simple truth …

You just don’t give up. That’s it.

How many times do you think my parents failed each other? I’m guessing at least a few. But both of them; both of those young and adorable ‘children’ decided on June 12, 1970 that they were choosing each other. They were choosing to be each other’s safe place of shelter. And they were choosing that regardless of anything this completely questionable and seemingly unraveling world could throw at them, they were going to make that choice to fight for the other day in and day out forever and ever amen.

Love never gives up.

I love you and your love, D & C. I pray that some day I can have something like you do, if only so that I can show you that I DO know what love is. It’s what you’ve got, even if I have to break up your arguments over how to operate the FF button.

Cheers to your golden day. And to many, many more. ❤

a fierce-hearted woman

I read a book a couple years ago that quickly came to mind this morning as I considered how I could humbly and even remotely honor the mamas.

See, I consider myself so incredibly fortunate to have a number of women in my life that fulfill the role of a mama. To be clear, I have one mama. More on that later. But I also fully believe that you do not have to have given birth to another human to be a mama. I’ve witnessed the incredible pain of women who have battled infertility only to never have the opportunity to conceive a child. Those women (and men who stand alongside them) have the heart of a parent.

I’ve seen women who have had to carry on through miscarriages and loss near, at or after giving birth; some experiencing loss after their child reaches their teens or even their twenties. Nothing takes away their role of being a mama.

And then there are mamas who choose not to birth biological children (for one reason or another) and yet opt to pour their heart and soul into children who were birthed by another and, out of some circumstance, made available to love. (These women are true heroes, by the way.) Mamas still.

The women in my life have been shaped by many of the paths to becoming a mama noted above but they chose to love me like a mama without giving birth to me. (And I bet to all high heaven they are surely glad they didn’t get the privilege of being my actual parent. Only God could have prepared the two I got for that monumental task.) I started going through all the names in my mind and it was actually a bit overwhelming.

I’m so grateful and blessed beyond measure. I have women who have held me during intense shake crying; women who have silently prayed for me (some even with paper reminders in their own prayer room); women who have spoken such life to me that I can’t put words to it and then of course, just women who have befriended me with such sweet tenderness that they still call me friend despite my constant sucking at being a friend back.

To all of these mamas, I just humbly whisper ‘thank you.’ (Like with tears and red cheeks but you already knew about all that because you chose to know me.) And because I’m getting up there in years, I’m going to forego the actual list. I don’t want to forget anyone. But I feel like you know who you are. And that I love the crap out of you.

Finally, there is my own mom. The one who gave me life. I will NEVER be able to be the daughter I feel like you deserve. Thank God for Nikki, right? I mean, I know I have given you more to worry about, to stress over, to be fearful of, to shake your head about, to find a padded room to step into over and to likely just want to run outside and shake your fist at heaven and say, ‘whyyyyyy me, God?! whyyyyy?’ And yet, you have loved me in the way that only a fierce-hearted mama can. You have chosen to love me despite my myriad of flaws, to show me kindness when I didn’t deserve it, to fight for me when I couldn’t fight for myself, to demonstrate what a successful professional woman looks like, to stand next to your man in the dirt pile (figuratively and literally), to speak up for injustice and give generously to those who need it (even when it doesn’t make any sense at all) and to rise up from a pile of freaking ashes, dust myself off and realize that I can take another step. And of course, how to give all of that to a child of my own. I will never feel adequate or equipped. But, I’m doing my best.

Mostly, though? You’ve shown me what a Godly woman looks like; how that Proverbs 31 woman comes to life. You are her. And I will always be the lucky one for having such an inspiring example in my immediate (non-socially distant) circle. I love you, mama.

Finally, for all the fierce-hearted women out there, I want to share with you the intro to that book I mentioned … the words I take line by line and write about in my own journal. To remind myself of who this woman is and who I aspire to be. Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.

friday photos

It’s Friday. It’s the end of five weeks of being a fully remote employee. And it’s snowed off and on all day.

So, to celebrate the end of the week and to avoid any more ‘s’ words, let’s revel in a recent trip outside to a mildly angry lake, shall we? It was rather chilly and the wind was intense but after five weeks of the same work space, it was a pretty slick office for an end of the day meeting.

brief intermission

I would say that I grew up rather uncultured when it comes to attending on-stage events like plays or productions. Now, before you start assuming I’m just a country bumpkin who thought a trip to the movies or the mall on Saturday was a big deal … well, never mind. You’d be assuming right.

To be clear, I’m not mad about it. But the idea of an intermission would have been relatively foreign. Instead, I knew all about the pause button. For the kids these days, pause is like what you do now when you need a break during a tv show. Back then, it only applied to VHS or cassette tapes. And if it was in the context of watching a movie on VHS, you had to be swift because there was no telling if that pause button would be overcome by evil spirits and rebel. And then it became about rewind and hoping and praying you could find your spot. Man, those times were tough.

Fast forward to the present, though, and I think we can all say finding our spot is a little challenging.

I was walking one day a week or so ago and saw one of the sweetest classic theatres around and its marquee held up black lettering reading, ‘WE WILL BE BACK AFTER THIS BRIEF INTERMISSION.’

And it got me thinking.

While possibly a bit foreign, I’m not completely unaware of what an intermission is like. The very simple definition of an intermission is ‘a pause or break.’ A pause. And doesn’t this season we’re in just feel like someone pressed the proverbial pause button? And I’d also argue that because someone else’s finger did the doing that we literally have no control over when activity will resume.

And that’s incredibly difficult for some of us.

As I was thinking, I realized that I’m not typically for an intermission. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but if I’m at a movie (or any other more fancy theatrical thing), I’ll get up when I want to. My bladder is the size of a peanut so if there was an unspoken rule I’d need to wait for intermission, I can guarantee you that wouldn’t matter. And I’d prepare in advance and have drinks and snacks purchased pre-show. And no, Connor, you can’t have more! I also just don’t love crowds so when everyone and their date rises to rush concessions or the restroom, you can count me out.

But the fact remains, we are on a break (Ross and Rachel anybody?). We’re in a state of brief intermission.

So what is brief? We don’t know. And that’s hard. School has been shut down. Spring sports are just, not. Employers have labeled employees and services as essential (or otherwise). And can I just state for the record for those who are not considered essential? You are. You so are. Don’t take it personally. Hair salons and tattoo parlors are closed. And my biggest first world problem? Coffee shops are drive-thru only. I really, really miss working and sipping on my coffee. Mostly, the people-watching. But just that sweet space I could hold for hours away from the couch. Bliss.

I’m here to offer up some perspective though, if you’ll humor me. It’s as much for me as it is for anyone else but that’s why this is my blog. And we all have that beautiful thing called choice. Anyway, while we don’t know what brief is, I can attest that we’ve been told this life is but a vapor so while some days can feel like years right now? This life truly is brief. So there’s that.

But there’s also the pause; the intermission. And because I’ve been in a bit of an intermission for much longer than this stupid virus has imposed, I am coming from a place of empathy. I promise.

While life feels so very different right now, I see some light and some hope. Here are a few examples:

  • For the first time in my lifetime, I see the real heroes finally (FINALLY) being celebrated. I work for a healthcare organization. I can’t even begin to tell you how inspired I’ve been by the stories I’ve read of those on the front lines, all the way from patient access folks to the CEO of Spectrum Health. Employees in all roles have risen to the occasion of supporting our community in any way necessary. And I just have to say it’s about freaking time we’re acknowledging these people instead of those who normally occupy the limelight.
  • Families are together. This can be good and bad, amiright? Many of us are not accustomed to being home this much nor are we familiar with how to step in as educators. And while we might not do either well? This is actually a gift. For many of us, this will be the first time we can be a part of our child/ren’s days from start to finish and while it’s safe to say we are going to annoy the crap out of each other at times, this is time we would never have gotten. And because of that whole vapor thing, it’s nothing short of priceless.
  • We’re realizing the gift of connection. I need to be honest that I’ve distanced myself from people for a number of reasons. But can say this: this intermission and social distancing thing makes me miss relationship and closeness. Closeness probably most of all. Every time I’m at the store or out walking and I see the distancing in practice, I get emotional. It makes me so, so sad to see people almost afraid (?) of other people. We were made to connect and while we have to be in this place, we can maybe find ways to appreciate the connections we can make a bit more. We can appreciate technology that makes it possible for us to talk and learn from each other in different ways. I was gifted with a Skype call earlier this week with two of my favorite humans on the planet and it was so life-giving. For sure, we wouldn’t have done that otherwise and I’m thankful for the opportunity in this unknown.
  • We’re forced to find ways to entertain ourselves in new ways. The pace of life is now completely upended for most of us. We were gearing up for travel (bye, spring break 2020. wah. wah.), spring plays, spring sports, summer camps, etc. and now? Well, now, we might have time to take up a new hobby or immerse ourselves in an old one. And that’s kind of fun, right? I know I’ve been in a season of intense studying and that’s coming to a close so now I have some things I want to get better at and it makes me kind of excited that I don’t have to navigate around all of the other things to work those in.
  • Many of us will be able to find ways to save. I know not driving to Grand Rapids is saving me both mentally and financially. I’m only buying the essentials when it comes to groceries because like I said, I can’t much handle being out with people who veer as far away as possible when they see me. I’m not buying as much coffee because drive-thru just isn’t as cool. And I can’t get that tattoo I was hoping for. But Lindsey, I promise, we will asap!

Geez, that was a lot. I’m (not) sorry for that but the other quick thing I want to mention during this intermission that I’ve now just hopped on stage for is that I think there is a comparable season for us to consider as we enter into Holy Week.

I’m considering the notion that maybe this entire life is actually just an intermission … the break in the action between when Jesus is going to come back to restore what was lost all the way back in the garden … the Eden one.

We sometimes call it the messy middle. I’ve heard it likened to the space between the two gardens. But suffice it to say, this life isn’t even what we were made for! And that totally makes sense to me. We weren’t made for the pause button … at least not forever. We were made to seek something more.

We were made to be reconciled back to a God who aches with us as we ache over what we thought was our normal. And truly, I believe it’s okay to grieve some of what we’ve had to let go of in this space. But, surely, normal and home are found on that day when we come face to face with Him. When the intermission ends and the activity resumes, we can choose to come into the final act fully refreshed and ready to spend an eternity with the only One who can make sense of this messy middle. And while we are here, we can make the most of what we’ve been given (see above).

In the end, it’s just Him. And I think in the space of this brief intermission, He wants to show us that. He wants to show us the value of relationship despite distance. Truly, we were made to find rest, to restore our likely weary souls, to find our way back to our people to show them what His love looks like as it lives in us and to create out of the passions He gave us.

Thanks for humoring me. And thanks for allowing me in for just a hot second. And if you ever need to blow off some steam about how ridiculously frustrating the middle can be, I’m here for it. Because while I know it’s easy, in the moment, to offer perspective, this is likely one of the most difficult seasons we’ve ever had to face. And no one should feel like they don’t have a safe space. So just know that there is one right here.

Have faith, hold on to hope and be love. Just. be. love.