Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Recognized and Valued BECAUSE of One of my Worst Moments

 As I walked out the door I heard, "Wait!! I think I know you and I feel like it's significant!" She grabbed the door and I recognized her too but did not know why. We exchanged names but neither of us recognized the other. She tried again, "If it helps I teach nursing at the local college and have been a nurse for years."

"Ooooohhhhhh," I sighed, "If you worked about 15 ish years ago I practically lived at the hospital."

"Really? It must be that...but I feel like..."

And suddenly a memory came to me and I asked, "Wait. You wouldn't happen to be the nurse that held me?" And she finished my sentence, "In the hallway on the floor?" 

Before I knew what was happening she started crying and I was swept up into her arms, "You changed my nursing career! You impacted my life so fully! You left me a note and flowers stating how important that moment was to you. For years I thought of you and have used you as an example of how to follow your heart in nursing. I wasn't sure if I was crossing a line..but I felt so strongly that you needed me but I was unsure even after...and then the next day your flowers and note came to the anonymous nurse who held you...and I cried."

I was still being held by her through this whole dialogue as she was occasionally swiping her tears...to the point that I was tear filled from her expression. I have a terrible memory so it surprised me that I even thought to mention it. It has been so bad lately that I have simply given up on trying to salvage memories and instead I have prayed, "Please in the moment help me to remember what is important to other people or what is significant to share from things I should know." I'm so grateful this moment (however humiliating it was to me at the time) came to me.

"Thank you for following your heart," I sincerely stated, "I thought I was dying that night. I was so depleted from years upon years of being on IV and pain meds through horrible attacks in my abdomen and bad rashes and pain. I was constantly at the hospital and most nurses after awhile treated me poorly and attributed it to hysteria or anxiety but I could not make up the pain. The pain triggered the anxiety. Not the other way around. Years later I was diagnosed by a natural health practioneer with long term Lymes Disease (though not acknowledged by public health), Fibromyalgia from my former Doctor, multiple cycle diseases (PCOS, Andenomyosis, Endometriosis, Chronic low ferritin and Anemia) and finally Celiac. That night was my final straw because I was strung out on fentonyal (which I hated as it made me so loopy) and had been puking my guts out to the point of a little bit of blood coming out plus sitting on the toilet. I was so exhausted I and desperate I took my IV with me out into the hallway, slid down the wall and started bawling...and there you were, with your arms around me and I felt like it was an angel. Later I was appalled at my desperate drugged out behavior but you stuck with me. You gave me hope. You also changed my perspective slightly on nurses."

She gave me another hug and then her mother came around the corner, "MOM!! this is the girl! The girl that left me that note that changed my nursing career!" I recognized her mom too and she smiled, "Hi Kmarie (insert real name) I remember you. I worked as a receptionist at the hospital for years."

A part of myself shrunk inside. Of course the previous receptionist remembers me by name! I did not recall hers but she stated it and it was immediately familiar. I almost can't believe that was my life. Most of the time, if my health is brought up with new friends, it almost feels like I am lying. Because even though I struggle with energy and pain...I learned how to mostly manage my conditions to a degree. The pain attacks stopped exactly three years after my last taste of gluten. I still get them lightly if I accidently get glutened  but it is not near the same as that terrible 24-48 hours of a tight rubber band wrapped around my abdomen to the point that I could not even have a sip of water for a full day. It was absolutely hell on earth sometimes. To hear that I impacted someone in one of my worst moments was both validating and jarring.

I was at my worst on that hospital floor. I am a germaphobe by nature so the fact that I was even sitting on the Emergency room floor says something. I also am not naturally a person who like to pubicly share my pain or be recognized while I am in a state of duress...so that fact that I was out of my room also shows my desperation. I was stinky. I was pale and shaky. I was out of it from the drugs coursing through my veins ( that did nothing to touch the pain by the way but only made time feel both longer and shorter which made everything more confusing.) I was completely vulnerable and weak...and when I arrived at the hospital one of the nurses gave me the "Oh it's you again" look and treated me with cold contempt. 

So for this nurse to say I changed her at that moment??? That truly testifies to me that sometimes when we are at our weakest, God is there to use us regardless. We are still a worthy vessel. We can still impact lives. We can still be given a different type of strength.

In all honesty, this is a tough story to tell. I was embarrassed to even show up with flowers and a card that was addressed "To the nurse on call Thursday night and the one who held me." I felt that the entire staff at the hospital was mocking me almost. I felt foolish but something in my spirit told me I needed to be acknowledge that beauty. I was taught by my Grandma, who lived in and out of the hospital with Colitis and a bowel pouch and then cancer, to treat those who help with extreme gratitude. She taught me to leave flowers for my Pharmacist, Notes for my Doctor, Christmas gifts for those who really helped me get through tough times... It was not until one of my friends was shocked that I did these things that I realized many people do not do this. And then I felt silly again.

I was between 20 and 30 when this event happened. I will be forty this year. I wish I could go back to my younger self and say, "You are legitimate in your pain. You WILL figure some of this out. You will suffer and continue to suffer with depression due to pain and energy on and off through the years. However, you will find supporters. You fill find information. You will find some answers and some triggers. And believe it or not, you will not visit a hospital (besides blood tests and breaking your foot) for NINE years! You will avoid them like the plague instead of running to them! And you will find some angels on earth...

I wasn't going to the event where I met this nurse last week. I was not feeling well (again.) With chronic illness I pick my battles. My son specifically asked me to please try to be with my family...so I went. I was making a hasty exit to go lay down when this lady ran to me and held open the door as I was trying to escape. I didn't feel like talking. Yet, I have often found that in my weakest, Spirit shows up. Or that sometimes when I don't feel I have much to give, Spirit is still given. Or that sometimes someone needs me, even when I do not feel like showing up, and if I force myself to BE present, something magical happens.

Invisible Chronic illness is a tricky thing. I don't like to talk about it anymore yet it is still a huge (mostly secret) part of my life. I look like I am in the prime of health most days, besides being extremely pale for the native blood I have, but with a ferritin of two and a blood saturation of 0.13, that is to be expected. I went through a huge phase in my late twenties when I needed to blog about health constantly to work through the diagnosis process. I feel that is legitimate. Just like I feel this phase of rarely speaking about it is legetimate too. But I am grateful for a few lessons from my weakness.

1. If I have hidden things to deal with, it's easier for me to remember that everyone else has secret struggles. When I am dealing with someone I try to recall this fact.

2. In our weakness, Spirit shows up. A verse that has always been of great comfort to me has been, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...and blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted." There are silver linnings in struggle too

3. Sometimes weakness allows another persons strength to shine. Sometimes our weaker moments can also later be turned into a strength.

I am not glamorizing illness. As I stated, I go through depression dealing with it on a regular basis. I find it tough not to compare. It’s hard for me not to wish I was only tired from a busy life or a bad night and not blood tired ( which sleep does not much for). Yet, I also don’t want to be a complainer or known for “ being tired.” It’s a state that I just live with. Some days it beats me, other days I try to befriend my own Being. I’m this fallen world, it is what it is… but I’m still SEEN. 

My family and I love to watch The Chosen series ( free on YouTube or the App) about the life of Jesus and his disciples. Even if one doesn’t subscribe to the faith, I would still recommend it for its historical accuracy, storylines, and beautiful sets and costumes. Anyway, in season three there is a story of the bleeding woman who I I’ve related to since puberty with my extremely heavy cycles. This woman is ostracized from her family in a time where being alone as a woman is dangerous. She is culturally considered “ unclean” due to the laws. She is anemic and exhausted from bleeding for years. As a desperate attempt she touches the hem of Jesus garment as he’s walking through a crowd on his way to visit a dying sick little girl. Jesus has an excuse to be in a hurry. (The little girl dies but he revives her later.) Instead the lady is immediately healed and Jesus stops and asks “Who touched me?” He knew, but he was giving her a chance to be SEEN and for her to use her own voice. No one, especially a man, would deem her worthy to speak to. Then he calls her “daughter.” This is not creepy but significant because her own family would not claim her due to her disease. She was unclaimed and thus, unprotected. By stating this protective title, Jesus was stating in essence “You are seen. You are worthy. You are protected. You are healed.” 

Maybe it’s ok to be seen and recognized and remembered for one of my worst moments?

I get bleary eyed each time I read that story but seeing it on screen ... I wept. I may not be healed in a huge way, but if I’m honest, I have small ways of healing. I have moments to be grateful for. I’m protected. I have loved ones. I’m a valued in some of my communities. I have much more than this woman. But what we have in common is that we are SEEN in what we perceive as our wretchedness… when we are heavily bleeding and hurting and so so so tired… and we are still loved. 

May it be so. 

Song Choice  Woman at the Well (which is a different biblical story about a woman being SEEN):

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Seven Homes that Built Me

My husband is a carpenter. I always wanted to marry a man who could build dreams. Plus, Jesus was a carpenter, so my little girl brain thought it would be a blessed profession. Throughout his twenty years of building, I often have stated, “ Yours is a subtlety noble profession. Even in the mundanity of it, you are building safe places for people to choose how to live. You’re providing the basics. In lucky cases you’re creating. You’re creating dreams and extraordinary places. But overall you’re providing something that we all need to thrive…a home. You are also witnessing their lives in a way most professions don’t get to witness the lives of their clients. It’s an opportunity for ministry and it’s in opportunity for servitude, but it’s also an opportunity to build dreams. It’s a beautiful thing. Plus your hands are very capable at so many things… “ He laughs (and doubts me often on the hard weather days) but I believe it’s true. An honest, good carpenter is one of the worlds best professions.

Over my almost forty years on this planet, there have been many people in many homes that have shaped me. But seven stand out. These are the homes that I spent copious amounts of hours in different phases of my life. These are the places that fused my memories of heartache and dreams together. In fact I can’t think about aspects of these homes without deeply feeling gratitude. Sometimes even a tear in my eye forms or a lump in my throat forms due to the sheer beauty of the gift they gave me.

1. My paternal Grandma‘s home in British Columbia. My grandma still lives in the same home that I lived with her in over 30 years ago. Grandma‘s home was not only my home for a few years in my childhood with my parents, but it was also a place to go to every summer and as I became older each spring break. It felt like my home in every sense of the word. Most of my relatives disliked it because of the place it was in. It was a rough and tough town however that did not matter to my child like eyes full of wonder. It was the Southern facing warmth of her shag carpet smelling like sunshine. The sound of her knees cracking and her bracelets clanking as she joyfully walked down the hall to water plants. It was a beautiful castle mirror that my dad made, hung at the top of her stairs, that evoked my fairytale imagination, while the Chipmunks played on the record player beside it. It was sunny days spent smelling pine trees and all the wonders of her beautiful garden as I walked around her house over and over again. It was the feel of the concrete of her slanted driveway that I pretended was my castle. Secretly, I thought her castle was better than any other castle in the world. I still dream about that house. We designed our structure of our current home based on that home. It's standard and looks simple but it is full of memory, shared history and safe magical wonder. She is to move soon and my heart breaks for her and for myself. I keep crying whenever I think about it and generally I do not cry often.

2. Sanky  was the name of my early childhood home in Saskatchewan. I only lived there on and off until I was six. The summers I spent in BC. A decade ago the home was torn down due to the fact that it was so old and poorly built. My family was poor too so we made good companions. The boardwalk was wood and I can still recall the giant sliver that I got from running barefoot upon it. However, I also can recall short little walks to the park. I can recall watching Carebears with my brother while we were sick in the tiny little bedroom. I can  recall wearing my dad's headphones that were plugged into the record player and blasting Amy Grant or any of his other Christian albums. I can recall running around in the small college Library or lecture rooms while he worked and I flipped the seats up and down and up and down. It was a tiny town but I felt safe. I felt loved. I cried and cried when we moved to the town I still call home. 

3. We moved into a slightly larger subsidized home on a new college campus. It was larger than our previous town but still small enough to give the feeling of cozy. Our garden plot was as big as our home plot because that is how we were expected to get by on the wage my father was paid. Oh the amount of peas and raspberries I ate in the summer! Thanks to my maternal grandmother and mother we had canned goods in the winter for a break from the copious amounts of cheap gluten breads, pastas and cereals we lived off of. ( In hindsight being sick constantly in my childhood points to my current celiac condition.) I loved the eastern living room light that flung dust mites around. Dusting was my favourite job in that home because I could look at all of my moms pretty knick knacks while blasting the Beach Boys or Judy Garland or the Beatles (no I’m not that old but I was old fashioned) whilst pretending that the dust was fairy sparkles. At that point in our lives part of my dad's job was hosting college students at our house. I can still recall the amount of laughter. That tiny home was full of games and cheer and quirky fun neighbors. We suffered. I was sick often. I can recall some darkness, but overall it was an idyllic childhood. We were quite poor but I didn’t know it fully. Because I had community. I had nature to run around freely in, just outside my door. I had a garden in the summer, and the local food cellar in the winter. I had family and church and old movies and aunts and uncles and oranges at Christmas. I felt rich often too.

4. With the help of some relatives, my father built a new home (that they still reside in) facing the west. The sunsets from that home are unbeatable. On clear days the mountains can be seen in the distance over the rolling golden fields of the prairies. I felt safe moving into that home because the walls were fully concrete. I felt rich too. I had a huge room all to myself even though the ceiling didn’t get done for seven years and I had to help pay for it myself… But until then I had a huge event poster covering the insulation that my dad brought home from one of his youth ministry gatherings. I loved attending those even though I technically wasn’t old enough to. I got to see Christian bands throughout the 90s that were famous and fun. I was able to host my friends for sleepovers almost every weekend. Friends became family. Just passed 18, my husband and I moved into the basement suite made just for us when we married young and lived off of 200 a month. In later years, when each of my children were born they would visit that house for meals, Christmas, Easter and loads of holiday times in between. Back when my cousins came to visit every summer they would have the extra gift of extended family moving in and out of the house. My grandparents lived in the side of it. We could go steal cookies from Grandma’s and eat all of her baking. The yard of  half an acre was home to many trees and a small pool. My children still benefit from the gorgeous situation of that home. 

5. My maternal grandparents moved a lot growing up. But each of their homes I can recall and I cherish. Each one would have a similar feeling because they made it their home. Each home would always smell like coffee percolating mixed with the aroma of fresh buns. There was always my grandmothers weathered spinning wheel plant holder that reminded me of sleeping beauty. It now sits in my home, gifted to me before her passing recently. Baking was always a standard. The house often smelled of pickling spice and cinnamon. But the home that I remember the most of theirs, besides the one my grandpa still lives in as part of my parents home, was three houses down from ours up in the Heights. My grandpa became a janitor at the same college my dad worked in and thus lived in the subsidized  housing. Their garden was better than ours. After school I would run home to watch my grandparents cable TV because we weren’t allowed TV. We just watched movies. So I would run home to sit on Grandma's bed for the Care Bears or the Brady Bunch or Full house or Inspector gadget… Grandma would always come in with a plate of cookies or a bowl full of chocolate chips, marshmallows, raisins, sesame seeds and berries. I knew I was always welcome at grandma’s house and there would be food for my often hungry belly.

6. When my daughter was five months old my husband moved us up into the same heights that I had grown up in... only around the block to the east from my previous home. We ended up having the ground level home with the kitchen facing east this time and our living room facing west. We had about four boxes of belongings, an old couch, and a bed given to us by my mom. At that time I didn’t believe the friend who said, "Don’t worry, one day you will have so much stuff you won’t know what to do with it…" She was right. But when she was holding a box full of used toys given to my daughter because we had none… I didn’t fully believe her. I wondered how she could afford such toys! And how people could afford such meals! For that matter, how could people afford to share? I tried my best to share what we could, often sacrificing the decorations off my tree for the one who lost everything or the extra food portion saved or the milk money found...and it was a lesson on where treasure was truly found. It was a lesson on circumstances and boundaries. It was a lesson that only poverty can teach. Because what my husband made was just enough to cover our subsidized home bill and give us less than we needed to eat and clothe ourselves… And those years I learned how to get by. I learned how to be frugal and creative. I learned what I can do without. And what amazing things God provides when we trust. When my husband needed steel toe boots, and the 200 dollar price tag seemed enormous because it was our mortgage money, we prayed, he went to the local tilly (second hand College store) and there were steel toe boots in his size for ten dollars! There were so many moments like that, which is why I tend towards charity giving instead of garage sales ( the anonymity and less personal feeling of a shop gave me dignity.) I was the person who found what was needed with tears of relief at the second hand shop... I learned how much joy there is in life even when it seems like you don’t have much. I am so grateful for those years, even though they were some of the hardest of my life due to many factors. Budget just being one of them. Health scares. Miscarriages. Postpartum depression. Poverty. Family expectations. The tumultuous 20s. Finding oneself. Finding God. Finding lasting friendships.… All of it was very hard. But it’s shaped me to who I am today and I still have very fond memories of the youth my husband and I shared in that home. Now, I still find I have to fight the scarcity mindset and learn once again to live in provided abundance, yet when I do, miracles seem to happen.

7. When my youngest was a few months old, we moved into the house we live in today. My husband worked at a construction company who saw and felt for us I think. The boss offered my husband the home at cost. We had to get a special kind of mortgage. We switched a few years into our own but at that time we had to rely on others. I could hardly believe it when I walked up the stairs for the first time. I felt so rich. On my right was a beautiful new black fridge humming away. I had never had a new appliance before. The oven and the dishwasher sparkled. The rooms felt huge to what I was used to. The plot was gorgeous and full of potential for trees. The living room view faced south towards the fields on the school that I went to elementary in. It was only three blocks away from the home which my husband and I had previously lived in (which comforted me) and only a few blocks away from my parents house to the west. I suddenly recalled a moment in my childhood where I was playing in the elementary school on the north facing side at recess and I looked across the fields. At that point it was not developed land but just farmers fields as far as the eye could see. I remember a soft whisper of knowing; "You’re going to find a home here one day. There’s something special for you in that field. Something beyond what you could imagine. You will find home.” My children hear this story a lot because it feels providential. It felt like a prophesy of love and care at a time when I was often insecure. I was in about grade 5 and I remember feeling so perplexed. What could possibly be in that field? I pictured myself digging gold out in that field. When I would bike to the east of it where the pathway stopped I would just sit and stare wondering what could that mean? Little did I know that my home would be here. Little did I know that I would raise my children to adulthood in that field. Little did I know that I WOULD get the love story I wanted that was shaped by my obsession with 1940's films and musicals. I would learn the best lessons of my life in that field. The husband of my youth would become the husband of my middle age. That we would experience death and life together in that field. It was better than a treasure chest full of gold. Now I have a heart full of treasures.

We almost lost our home several times over the years, because we could barely afford to keep it, but I’m so glad that we were not able to move away. Over the years we have renovated it and we’re in the process of renovating it again, to make it work for our lives. This time the renovations are about community. They are about a calling and a new phase.  It’s been a beautiful home full of the provision we needed to become a family.

I often feel that God knows my heart and that rootedness would be essential to my sanity. He knew that I was wired differently and needed stability to flourish and be the best version of me. My gratitude for this is beyond measure.  We still have to weigh our budget carefully. But I would rather have stability and a sense of rooted belonging than all the riches in the world. Of course I would love to travel more but I am so blessed that occasionally we can travel between the three provinces that I grew up in on occasion. It can be both a hardship and a blessing to have the same people in one’s life that witnessed teenage hood or childhood or that tumultuous 20s or are searching 30s… But if they allow us room to grow and we allow them room to grow and change, something beautiful can happen. We can be a witness. We witness each other’s lives and we challenge, we encourage, we inspire. Change is part of life. It’s inevitable. So too, must we change. There’s a difference between rootedness and stagnancy.  Little did I know that my field of the unknown  riches would be the riches of hearth and home. When I look back on these seven homes, I see God was building so much within me, my husband, my children and our community. If anything makes me cry, it's gratitude. More than grief, I will often get choked up on gratitude. I don't deserve what I have. I hardly even earned it. It was grace given. It was prayers of my heart answered in such unexpected ways. Poverty is tough and I do not glamourize it, but like anything in life, there CAN be lessons learned and beauty that rises from the ashes. For us, it taught trust, prayer, sharing despite, balance, and the true joy of simplicity. 

When our family works on our home together on top of work and school and life, because we can not afford to pay another, we learn so much! We fight too at times, but we share in the glorious experience of building dreams. The electrical my son learned taught caution in power. The sanding and constant priming taught me patience and I also learned that just because I’ve never burnt wood designs before doesn’t mean I shouldn’t even try! Drilling screws and pounding nails taught my daughter precision and the gift of strength. Holding the light while my husband hooked up the plumbing in the lower level ceiling taught my youngest the sacredness of two and the crucial element light brings to any situation. We are not just building a home. We are building life. We are learning that what happens in the womb of secrecy will eventually expand into a life giving dream. We are learning that faith is often unspoken but that it is an aspect of All that IS. We see God in the mundane and our belief is stronger because in the practical we see beyond. 

All of these homes were not magazine worthy, or even sometimes up to code! They were all humble and almost all of them were the shape of a rectangle box. But yet each one held a richness I was formed in. A gratitude that cannot be replaced or fully expressed. 


Song choice: the House thatBuilt Me- Miranda  Lambert ( and Alan Jackson’s  Home https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VAZZrj4LWA4 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Making ROOM off of social media; The Beauty of BEING

The latest email from Sarah Clarkson, a favorite author of mine, stated, "My soul has been tired and harried. I knew it and tried to give myself space and grace for renewal. But I also understood that I needed to create some structure or healing for myself too. I've been off of social media because of that since Christmas Day. For the first couple of weeks or so, I felt a little disjointed at the lack of dramatic benefits in my life from my fast from social media. But three, then four weeks in, I realized that my mind really was slowing. There was a different pace to my thoughts. I found myself capable of inwardness and recollection that has been really difficult to me for many months... I'm grateful for the space I've gained in being away from social media. It's a tangled world and there's a tension there as I miss the friendships and beauty and connection of that space. I'm trying to think well, pray well about what it looks like to engage in a creative, sustainable way. I'm curious how you think about these online worlds, this tension between connection and quiet. I'm examining that much in myself these days. But also savoring the hush of this break."

My answer to Sarah's question is specific to me, but I am a firm believer that it could be beneficial for probably 80 percent of the population. I also know of others who have a moderated version of social media engagement. They go on for their business for an hour each day, or if not in business, they only allow for a timed check in once a week. Even that feels a bit harried. My answer? Two years ago around this date, I cold turkey quit. My ability to concentrate, feel peace, savour the good life, give my time to friends via text, in my home, or enjoy books, have time for renos, schooling my kids, taking time with my husband etc. all have improved drastically. The beautiful changes in my life are directly in association to how long I have been off of social media.

I miss it sometimes truthfully. Mostly the inspirational part, but I have found myself looking in my direct vision, to the people I love, and also inward for wonder and inspiration. This method is a slow drip of inspiration in comparison to a deluge, but it suits. It took the first year off to learn to sit in boredom again. Two years off, and I realize I am coming home to parts of myself that were alive as a teenager in the nineties. I actually often forget there is an entire new way of Being. When I see the rare advertisement somewhere I will often wonder, "How did they get those personal pictures of those people's lives?" Then I am jarred with the realization of the otherworld online. Where I am not. Where my opinions no longer need to be stated or circulated. Where the quick hits no longer form who I am. I call it the 'otherworld' because it is another form of living- in imagination, thought and mind. It's not all bad, but it's a new frontier, and until it learns to be more civilized, boundaried, and less self-involved, I am not fully interested. Oh there is beauty too. Of course there is! Wherever there is humanity there WILL be beauty. But I think I can find that in other ways. I am compelled by love to choose LOVE in engagement instead of from a distance. There is a difference of people knowing of what I do and being KNOWN and vice versa. 

I miss being involved sometimes. I do miss the convenience of finding book recommendations or quick hit health tips or home decor looks. I can still find those things but it's slower, and yes sometimes even a little desperate, but eventually the right book comes, or a person hooks me up with new health information, or my home ideas come from myself entirely or my personal surroundings. It took months, but I now am involved in life in an entirely old, but new way. Walks are uninterrupted, talks are slow, and my scheduling is flexible. I can make room for the people who need or ask it of me. I always loved that Christmas song, "Let every heart, prepare him room...and heaven and nature sing..." There is a reason this song is titled "Joy to the World." How can we have true depth of joy if we do not prepare room? How can we sing with nature if we are staring at a screen instead of engaging in our surroundings? If we do not make room for quiet thoughts, engage in boredom, and distance ourselves from opinions or news, our vessels become too full. There is only so much capacity of random information that a person can have before burn out happens. We were meant to MAKE, to CREATE, TO BE. We were meant for meals and laughter, heartache shared and tears, quiet contemplation watching a sunset, and finding meaning no matter the circumstances.

I realize this makes me sound irrelevant or old. Frankly I do not care. Although, I did care the first year. Occasionally, when a friend forgets about me because I am not witnessing their life conveniently on a screen, and I do not hear the baby announcement or see the pictures of the latest reno and hear about it from someone I thought was less of a friend that I thought I was, I FEEL it. But then I realize that is probably not the friendship I fully want to engage in. I suppose I have high expectations for those in my life, and for me in the lives of those around me. I want flawed human connection that involves both scheduled and drop in coffee, movies on blah evenings, a shared thought of how to better our lives, confidences whispered about hopes and dreams, and time to just BE. I live my best life when I am engaged in seasonal living. I live best taking a moment to stare at the wonder of the moon, watching the flakes of snow tuck in snuggly on to an evergreen tree or the sun bounce off of my window crystals. In relationships this transfers to taking the time to hear a friend's laugh or woes, even if I had to move some of my schedule around for game/movie/coffee night. Sometimes it means stating a different date because my husband or children need me more. Regardless the season of living ENGAGES.

Guess what? It's surprising how many beautiful souls are around us, waiting for us to take the time. I have adored getting to know those put in my path. I have been surprised by Joy. Surprised by humanity and Divinity intertwined. There is an ebb and flow of strangers, close confidantes and basic friendships that are spread out in engagement, but important in the spacing. For a few long-distance loves, casual texting, sharing pictures via email and personal videos takes longer, but I have built a trusting repertoire, like old fashioned letter writing in the new century that is enriching. It's slower than social media, but it is still using the technology in a moderate, respectful way. My friend Amy and I have never met, but it feels like she lives next door. We met on this blog, followed each other on social media, and when I went off, she texted or emailed, and sent me some of the pictures and thoughts personally. Even though it was more work. Even though it took time. She is one of my soul kindreds. My point is, there ARE friendships beyond media. 

I read recently there is an epidemic of loneliness and depression, even though our world is the most "connected" ever. Distress comes to us all. Isolation can happen in a crowd. Pain is inevitable. But some of this can be redeemed. In fact, all things can be redeemed. Often though, the beautiful redemption of life, comes after a sort of confession, or a realization of 'missing the mark.' I realized I was missing my mark by scrolling through my screen, taking on other people's thoughts and feelings instead of engaging, mulling them over, and discerning what was mine and what it is not of my being. I value Spirit. The Spirit of Life. The spirit of people. The spirit of the earth. The spirit of BEING.

Until recently, I thought contributing to the world was giving much of myself away in thought or reasoning. It's a needed stage in life but I'm happy to be in a new one. Where the cocoon of the womb of secrets is a protected space of belonging. Where rest is flexible. Where relation is flawed but true and those who I take the time for, and who take the time for me, witness the importance of BEING, instead of only being narrated to. There is a two-part dialogue where hopefully, ideally, the other person comes first, and not my words first for them to like with a quick heart of acknowledgement or respond to each and every time. 

I do not want to make any readers feel less than or wrong for their choices. Because we each must face our own behavior, identity and choices...and what works toward SPIRIT (Beauty, Joy and Grace) in one person's life, may not be right for the next person. However, this is my testament to my becoming offline. This is a secret I feel I can share. There is so much more of course. But this behavior change and how I live and what I live for, has changed so drastically. I still struggle. There is still pain and sometimes it's hard not being part of the Otherworld. Yet, the time...the slow gritty transformation, the holy fear, the respect for life... practicing PRESENCE of God and BEING...preparing ROOM, it has been a game changer for myself. Perhaps my story can also give another a reverence for their own choices and a strong respect to make a tough change? Sometimes the harder choices in life become life giving. Saying no to the social media time blocks enabled me to say yes to many in person BEINGS. I have learned to live less for myself and hopefully, ideally sometimes, I can GIVE a bit more...there is hope for so much more. 

To the Beauty of BEING and Preparing ROOM

Song choice: There is JOY to be found so :


I find specific country music helps me value the small, beautiful things in life ( the songs about family, children, country, nature , God… the lyrics can be fun or ridiculous or just full of the wonder of life moments…here are two of my playlists…)  I used to share an account with my daughter and make a lot of playlists on her account but then I got my own and just added to them - thus the two names on the playlists ;)

 Country Mix 2021/22

90s country

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Advent: Meaning in the Pause

 To the Souls that are intertwined on this journey:

As the snow swirls in and out, so do the people in our lives… we make room, we let go, we share, we become… in sharing our stories other stories are enlivened. 

In the advent story - there is waiting, there is pause, there is a holy hush, there is time taken to gather, to celebrate with the song of angels… 

In this age we are expected to be in "the know” for politics and world events but our minds and bodies were not made for that. Media is not God. We were made for community and solitary contemplation. We were made to create and make order. It’s those simple moments … when cinnamon orange is in the air or spiced pine and we REMEMBER. It’s the pot of chili shared with slow conversation about the delights and hardships of our lives with a few trusted souls. It’s the laugh in the board game, the song vulnerably shared, the quiet sip of coffee. 

In nature, if we pay attention and take our holy night of dark cold or humid tropical, God inspires. Creation was the first act. The first gift. Creation sings the root of why we exist. Our existence is not for our political opinions, our stances or even well intended interests nor our social media squares. What gives your soul the softened slow exhale of belonging? When do you KNOW that even in terror, there is calm, there is goodness, there is right? When do you feel the settled magic of Grace? … Follow that moment, prepare ROOM for that feeling, make intentional space for it. 

It has been said that “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans…” I find that God is like that too… and often I am met with Jesus “on the way" to other events or plans I thought were more important. Yet, I’m learning that flexibility, saying “yes” more often than “no” has given me invaluable moments when God's Grace has shown up. I can get impatient. I can think I’m too busy to take the time for the conversation someone needs to have...but then I miss out. Again and again I’m surprised by how many miracles are in the waiting. Just like advent. I now try to keep our family schedules flexibly open enough - to prepare Him room. Because if Jesus ministered on his way to places, and took time out of his much needed rest, to heal, give food and share stories with others… why am I not? Much of his ministry was “on the way…” travelling, being interrupted, sitting at a well waiting for a drink… stopping at Martha’s home … And as a babe his long awaited birth was an exercise in waiting. 

The beauty of this season is that it’s not just about giving. It’s about receiving too. It’s as simple as receiving love. Receiving the stranger. Receiving the long lost friend. Receiving the lonely. Receiving the invitation. Receiving Living water. Accepting the gift when we may not have one to give. It’s simple. It’s that moment when the sun crests into the window and warmth seeps into the soul. May you have that this advent and holiday season. 

May you see your gifts and receive with a spirit of thanksgiving! "Who says there can't be magic when the world is in doubt? Who says there can't be joy when the lights go out?" -(Magic lyrics)

Song Choice: Magic- Lindsey Stirling featuring David Archuletta

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Unredeemable?; The Reckoning: Ruthless Redemption, Repentance and Reconciliation.

Post Note: This post is NOT about TRAUMA of any sort. Nor is it inherently about grief, mental illness, depression or anxiety. While this could apply in certain ways, because just like an arm pain can indicate heart or gut issues, a singular suffering should not be boxed up into one category, I want to be clear that, for myself, this post is about the pain of facing oneself when parts of self need to grow. This IS about self reflection, self growth and a requirement of honest mirrors. This post is more focused on issues that are self growth related, and should not be mixed up with any diagnosis or need that may require legitimate pills, therapy, or clinical diagnosis. I am not a doctor. This is most assuredly a post on reckoning, redemption, ruthless mirrors, repentance and reconciliation....handily all the "R's" *

I stood in front of a nine foot mirror in a home of 12 foot ceilings. Even though my home is notorious for hosting at least 68 mirrors, most of them are placed to reflect light and not the full reflection of a person. So this was the first time I had to seriously face my physical self. I had been battling self esteem issues since January, most of which stemmed from extremely low iron and medical issues (which do set some of the foundation for this post and are worth mentioning but are NOT what this post is about.) When health is sputtering along, it is hard for the rest of a BEING to fully flourish, but I try to give it my best. However, I knew something wasn't right, but the revelations seemed to be slowly spitting out truths instead of revealing the whole. Until I stood in front of that mirror.

The mirror was only part of the revelation. I looked upon my full self and realized I didn't like what I saw. It wasn't just the chronic illness weight and inflammation or the ridiculous notion that I was completely hideous ( I know when I am being dramatic)...It was the fact that the girl looking back was almost unrecognizable and she was ME. In that moment I knew there would be a reckoning.

It was an overnight holiday that was perfect in every way. I had nothing to blame but myself, I was up until 5 am and woke to a leg cramp at 7. The night was beautifully full of stars overlooking a mountain view outside my 9 foot glassed door. A trusted friend was sleeping in the home a few doors down. My belly was full of good food. The king size bed was even more comfortable than my beloved bed...and yet I was tortured. Insomnia can be familiar to me, but this was profound reckoning. All the revelations hit me. Concealed was revealed. I saw my vices, my created pain ( not legitimate pain that needs support but pain I had created by sitting in habits I could change), and my cruelty towards self and others. I faced the mirror of self...

"I know this hurts real bad right now. I know you feel mad and sad right now. But the sky isn't falling- that's just the rain. It's safe to just call this...pain. Girl I've been there, Yea life isn't fair It's okay to not be all right, just go ahead and cry... It might sound insane but I promise one day you're gonna be thanking you're lucky stars for all this pain."- Ingrid Andreas lyrics - Pain.

I got through the rest of my holiday by sheer grit. My perfect holiday ruined only by my own BEING. I saw my incapabilities clearly, my selfishness, my inability to adjust the way I would like, and my self loathing foamed. I saw the issues I was looking for in my marriage, parenting, and self...the accounts I had been trying to settle since January were ending. The five hour trip home consisted of me bawling my eyes out through sniffled repentance. Specifically with my husband because he was my travelling partner, not only through the holiday and life, but literally. I saw my part in the equation I could not figure out. While he also took ownership, the important parts I had missed before, came to the surface with ruthless intensity. I had a lot to reconcile. 

I've often shied away from the word repentance due to my upbringing. It was misused for varied agendas. But sometimes it is the only word that can state the absolute sorrow at actions that have been done or love that has been missed. Being penitent, or showing remorse, for one's misdeeds, and confessing such to all that IS, oneself and those loved, brings about a different mirror. At first it's a ruthless light that shows all the cracks, crinkles, and bruises. Yet, interestingly enough, after the refining burning of light, there is astounding peace and grace. Repentance suddenly feels like a gift that opens up to true reconciliation. A healing. 

"Without the pain, how would you know? What things to change and what stays the same? And which parts of you still have to grow? It can be ruthless, yeah, I've been there too. But you're gonna get through this pain." - Ingrid Andreas lyrics - Pain.

I'm not where I want to be, yet in those moments of pain, and the days following, I saw not only whom I COULD be, but also bits of light inside that I did not know I had. It is going to take courage to grow. Growth is painful. It's humbling. And there are honestly parts of me that will not, in this lifetime, be mine to fully grasp. Because self improvement is limiting too. There is a point where Grace enters in. The broken tea cup mended with gold still required someone else to make it beautiful. Sometimes, it is the cracks that show us where we need the most Light.

There is a different sort of pain in facing oneself. It's different from trauma done upon you. It is different than mental illness needing support. It is different from being a victim or wallowing in self pity. It's the type of pain that comes in childbirth. It is for a purpose. It changes the inside and outside in a short span of time. It is ruthless yet can harness aspects of joy that will eventually grow into peace. What have I lost by wallowing? What have I lost by not facing the mirror sooner? What I have lost in the reckoning? Perhaps all the good lost is redeemed, but I will not fully see it with my mortal eyes? Perhaps I gained more than I lost in the end? Maybe I needed the time to fully face the mirror? 

I only know that ruthless redemption became a balm. For instance, when I reconciled the issues I clearly saw and owned my part in my marriage story (which is fairly a healthy marriage, but I still had to face criticism and derisions I had regularly foisted upon my husband), and when I genuinely cried true apologies with repentance and noted plans for behavioural change...my husband looked at me...and I saw a glimpse of that ruthless redemption. I saw the pain I caused clearly, which hurt even more, but mixed in that was a love that encompassed it all. Mirrored back through his eyes was grace. Reconciliation on the heals of pain. How much more could a Divine presence give?

I've always had a strong faith in all that IS. While I have not adhered, at points, to certain religious standards (and probably never fully will) or institutions...I believe in wrestling with God, instead of the man made ideas or institutions about ALL THAT IS. So of course, this stance encompasses all that I am. I am not a true evangelical (my roots) in that, I don't like to outright state things fully. I prefer to LIVE and let GOD.  I believe God is so much more than my ideas and that powerful presence does not really need me to fight  Divine battles. I also believe those that are different from me, or who do not believe in a Presence, have just as much to give and receive on this plain. I have many Atheist friends whom have turned me, for the better, into a person with more questions than answers. I believe ALL THAT IS GOOD comes from God. Which means, that a lot in life is BREATHED. I'm not one for major sin dialogues. However, there is legitimacy in redemption, repentance and reconciliation. A person can feel the difference when it happens on any level. 

With my children, I saw the need for the same process of asking for forgiveness for my harsh approach this year. When did I become hard? I saw the root, and while some of it CAN be explained or understood, there is another part of it that not only has to be owned, but given up, to become more than I am. I also need to ask for forgiveness because I DID harm them in my tones and eye rolls. A parent is supposed to be a well of guidance, giving, grace and loving support. While I will not be perfect, nor should they expect perfection, they should expect me to reconcile when I have wronged. As I expect the same from them. Without this dialogue I feel we are missing so much Light in the end.

It's true that when one walks through a refining process, there is more necessary pain, than joy. I have cried more in this week than I usually do in a year. And the hits keep coming. Unexpected shadows have creeped up to deal with. I've shattered some hearts including my own. My thoughts can get dark. Yet, acknowledging this is necessary for the Light to seep in. Changes are also becoming part of the process. Slowly behaviour is being refined. Grace covers the rest. "Good person, how do you do it? Do you just wake up with a smile on your face? Good person, what does it look like seeing the world as a happy place? I'm trying to turn the page, do you think I have what it takes? Cause I have cheated and lied, and made people cry, but I pray for the ones that I love every night. And I've shattered some hearts and my thoughts get dark, but I'd stop for a stranger who is falling apart. I'm still learning. Good, good person. Do you ever lose it when somebody steals that one last parking spot? Good person, Do you ever say no? Does the high road get lonely? Do you ever pull off?...Have you cheated and lied or made people cry? The right hand of God, tell me what is it like to throw all the stones? But all mirrors and smoke, they come to my show, but you won't let me go behind the curtain. Good, Good person... Tell me how, tell me how to be a good, good person...I'm trying to turn the page..." - Ingrid Andress - Good Person lyrics.


Song choices: 

Un redeemable from Spirited: 


Pain- Ingrid Andress

Good Person- Ingrid Andress

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

You're Still the One- Twenty Years Of Marriage Together

"I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you, you had me mesmerized... I thought I loved you then but now you're my whole life, now you're my whole world...like a river meets the sea, stronger than it's ever been. We've come so far since that day and I thought I loved you then!" Brad Paisley

He was a 'Chip N Dale' for Miss Teen Night. 17. On stage with cuffs, ripped off at the shoulders unbuttoned dress shirt and a bow tie with a charming smile and Steve Harrington hair. I turned to my friend, "Who is THAT?!" I had never felt such a zip of attraction before. She stated, "Oh don't even try. He's way out of your league." That night I mentioned his weird last name to my dad (and pronounced it wrong!) briefly and then forgot about him until my father realized he worked with his brother. They crafted an acceptance to his application to college a few months later. Behind my back, they wrote, "You are accepted to this college on the condition you date the Director of Enrolment's daughter on a six month probationary period." I was appalled. He thought it was a message from God. He stated that as soon as he scoped me out at my job cashiering, and I turned around to smile at him, he was hooked... 

"Looks like we made it, look how far we've come now baby?...They said, "I bet, they'll never make it." But just look at us holding on. We're still together, still going strong. You're still the one I run to, the one that I belong to, You're still the one I want for life. You're still the one that I love. The only one I dream of. You're still the one I kiss good night. Aint nothing better. We beat the odds together. I'm glad we didn't listen. Look at what we would be missing!" Shania Twain

We were engaged 7 months later. We were constantly told we would not make it. So we hired 7 different marital counsellors from 7 different churches. 7 months later we were married. 7 seemed to be our number. Teenagers can be strong willed. I expected our path to be tough because I'm an old soul whom overthinks, but I also knew, deep down, that our love was unique and I would love him till the day I died. With each milestone passed, I would hum Shania's song, thankful that thus far, we beat the odds together.

"Remember when I was young and so were you? Time stood still. The love was all we knew...Remember when we gave our hearts, made a start and it was hard. We lived and learned, life threw curves, there was joy and there was hurt. Remember when? Remember when old ones died and new were born and life was changed, life was dissembled and re arranged. We came together and fell apart and broke each other's hearts. Remember when? The sound of little feet was music, we danced to week to week...Remember when? Thirty seemed so old, now looking back, it's just a stepping stone to where we are and where we've been, said we would do it all again. Remember when?" Alan Jackson

Having a newborn and pregnant again before twenty was blissful and tough. I would do it all again. We nestled into each other and built our foundations. There was joy. There was hurt. As the years turned, the ordinary and extraordinary blended into sunsets. Our family was born. Meanwhile loved ones died and we definitely were disassembled and re arranged. Grief does not make all people kind. Only healed grief can be a balm...a wounded healer. We had to learn that lesson after both of our hearts were broken by life and each other ...for a time...but we always chose to come together through our blunted feelings or harsh words. Those stepping stones brought us to where we are today. I would do it all again.

"These times are trouble and these times are good and they are always gonna be. They rise and they fall. We take them all the way that we should, together you and me...When I said I do, I meant that I WILL, till the end of all time, be faithful and true, devoted to you. That's what I had in mind when I say I do." Clint Black

I take vows seriously. I try not to speak something I do not mean. Honestly? I struggled with my wedding day and parts of my honeymoon. I preferred our smaller, ordinary dating moments or random spontaneous sunset watching, country driving evenings. But the part of my wedding day that sticks, in the right way, was when I said I do. Because I meant that I would be devoted in good times in bad... It was true from the start. I was sick and standing in front of over 300 people...not my forte. But I was doing it because I loved him. My Uncle Chris, who was a recorded country singer and sounded like Alan Jackson, sang Tracy Byrd's 'Keeper of the Stars' and my heart wished a thousand 'thank you's' heavenward that I had someone who I wanted to protect and cherish and whom understood and adored me.

"It was no accident, me finding you. Someone had a hand in it. Long before we every knew. Now I just can't believe you're in my life. Heaven's smiling down on me. As I look at you tonight. I tip my hat, to the Keeper of the Stars. He sure knew what he was doing when he joined these two hearts. I hold everything when I hold in my arms. I have all I ever need- thanks to the Keeper of the Stars." Tracy Byrd

I would like to think we have become better together. I would hope that I am more than I was. But I KNOW that he is still my ONE. He has the capacity to render my heart into bits of frustration in one moment (and believe we are going to divorce that day!) and in a few hours I am shocked at how easy it is to forgive and move on. His love dances in the dark.

"Dancing in the dark, in the middle of the night, taking your heart and holding it tight..Oh it's a beautiful thing, don't think I can keep it all in. I just gotta let you know what it is that won't let me go. It's your love- it just does something to me - it sends a shock right through me and I can't get enough. If you wonder about the spell I'm under - it's your love. Better than I was, more than I am. And all of this happened by taking your hand, and who I am now, is who I wanted to be, and now that we're together, I'm stronger than ever, I'm happy and free...and if you asked me why I've changed- all I gotta do is say your sweet name." Tim Mcgraw and Faith Hill

Our song doesn't get old to me. I hear it when the crickets chirp at dusk and the smell of summer BBQ's sing sticky sweet. I hear it on cold blustery days when smells of chocolate chip cookies permeate the air. I hear it on the radio when a new song sings how I FEEL or an old one reminds me of what I felt before. I hear my love in his chuckle which is, besides my children's voices, the most beautiful sound in the world to my soul. Our song is in the mundane, magical ordinary. We do best when we just ARE. 

"Ordinary? No. I really don't think so. Not a love this true. Common destiny. We were meant to be. Me and You. Like a perfect scene from a movie screen we're a dream come true. Suited perfectly. For eternity. Me and YOU. Everyday I need you even more. And the nighttime too. There's no way I could ever let you go. Even if I wanted to. Every day I live, try my best to give, all I have to you. Thank the stars above that we share this love- me and you. " Kenny Chesney
We are notoriously terrible at Anniversaries. I am usually sick or have my period every SINGLE year. Andenomyosis, Endometriosis, PCOS and Anemia all make this an exercise in pain. (Birth control doesn't work for me and I can not do the recommended hysterectomy.) So my husband usually spends the day trying to make me feel comfortable. We are usually broke. It IS true that a downside of marrying and having kids as teenagers is that it IS hard to build a financial foundation or catch up. So we don't usually even buy gifts and sometimes we don't even have the funds to travel to the next city over for a coffee.  We have had three anniversaries out of twenty when we bought larger gifts...and we have never gone away together.  I would not recommend it to MOST people because not knowing if the groceries or mortgage will go through sometimes is tough, tough, tough...but at the same time, those who have a very strong love and are extremely dedicated to each other, can make it through if they have just enough to scrape by. Any less than what we had, I am not as sure, because many aspects can break a marriage. I do not underestimate that. Some years we have just enough, a couple years we had more than enough, but usually we just scrape by...and it teaches us different things about life. We do other things well. But as far as travelling the world and diamonds and non thrifting shopping??? We are rich in our love. I would rather write him a love letter and listen to our favourite songs as we drive around our favourite country roads than have epic adventures. While a posh hotel would be welcomed, in the end - it's about us. It's about just BEING with him.

"Last night I had a crazy dream, a wish was granted just for me, and it could be for anything. I didn't ask for money or a mansion in Malibu, I simply wished for one more day with you. One more day. One more time. One more sunset baby, I'd be satisfied, but then again, I know what it would do, leave me wishing still for one more day with you. First thing I'd do is pray for time to crawl. I'd unplug the telephones. Keep the TV off. I'd hold you every second. Say a million I love you's - that's what I'd do with one more day with you." Diamond Rio

The first time I heard the Diamond Rio song "One more Day" we were dating and I bawled. I was already worried I would lose him. My poor guy suffered through years and decades of tears about losing him. I always said that I hope we die together. I have had this fear of losing him since I have met him. I am often shocked we made it to twenty years. Each time I am annoyed at him and I hear that song...I let it go...I remember what matters. One more day. One more moment to choose forgiveness. One more moment to love. He is a life that has been given to me to cherish, honour, protect and love. He's my whole world, given to me from the Keeper of the Stars, and gifting me with a new world in my home, with the three babies we made together and loads of memories swirled into our paired existence. I don't see how I could love him more...but I have said that before...

"I've seen the storm clouds in your past, but rest assured cause you are safe at home at last. I rescued you, you rescued me. And we're right where we should be, when we are together. I know the questions in your mind, but go ahead and ask me one more time. You'll find the answer's still the same, it wont change from day to day for worse or better. Will I promise to be your best friend? And am I here until the end? Can I be sure I have been waiting for you? And did I say my love is true? Baby I will, I am, I can, I have, I do. I know that time will disappear, but this love we're building on will always be here, No way that this is sinking sand on this solid rock we'll stand forever. Baby I will, I am, I can, I have. oh I will, I can, I have...I DO." Paul Brandt
I was born with a flair for the dramatic. In my mind, my story has always been an epic tale. I feel love and ordinary moments deeply which means that I also feel collective suffering and pain easy too. I used to hate this about myself. I didn't understand it either. I heard an analogy recently by Joy Clarkson which resonated; "The same capacity that enables me to rejoice so fully makes me vulnerable to the great consuming pain and loss of our world. Some days holding these two worlds inside makes me feel like I have a superpower. I am like a carbon monoxide alarm for the world. yes, the smallest of things can set me off- joyful and sorrowful- but isn' that the point of such a device? What good would an insensitive CO2 alarm be?" 

Philip taught me that my sensitivities and differences were a gift from God. He cherished what I struggled with. He laughs when I go off on a dramatic tirade. If I was him I would not have the patience. I live moments of tragedy over and over again and it rips me apart. He stitches me back together with the reminders of the little things I love. I could not ask for more than our time together when my favourite lyrics seep into my soul, the sunshine warms my face, and he is holding me with his familiar muscled arms. I feel safe. I feel like I am actually OK. These are the moments I thank God that I am alive. These are the moments I cherish existence. When I realize I have FOUND all I have waited for.

"... I've seen the sunset dance...I got real high on Rock N Roll and seen a lot of dreams come true but ain't no moment like when I am holding on to you. Baby all through the years, I've been moved to tears by the wonders of this old world, but one of God's mysteries that never fails to get to me is the moment that I am holding on to you." Miranda Lambert

Twenty years. It feels like maybe 7 tops! How did we get here? Where did it go? Part of me knows it went to days of fighting and loving, laughing and crying, holding and dancing, singing and yelling, breaking and redeeming. He often will tell me that he finds me more beautiful than when we first met at 17. I actually believe him. The queen of physical insecurity calms down when I hear him say that. I have always known he is the better looking half in our marriage. I don't mind. Those smile crinkles man! And those bulging biceps and that charming chuckle. I can't compare. So I don't. But he thinks I surpass him and I am fine with fairy tales.
"Has it been (20) years since we said I do? I've always heard marriage made one seem like two, but you're looking better than you did back then. You still make this ol' heart give in. And if I had it to do all over. I'd do all over again. If tomorrow I found more change to begin. I'd love you all over again. " Alan Jackson

I love him more than yesterday and I hope we still have forever to go.

"It's in the way you move me, the way you look right through me, still brings me down to my knees every time you smile. And after all this time love, It's still hard to get enough. The very first time I thought you were the one, who'd make all of my dreams come true. I STILL DO. I'm still amazed every time that we kiss. I still do. I'm never gonna stop feeling like this. Like the first time that I feel for you. They all thought we were crazy- sometimes I think they may be right- thinking we live life minus a day." Paul Brandt
On our good days? It's hard to get enough. I want time to pause. My heart still gets my seventeen year old zaps. He gives me some nightmares, but mostly he helps me build dreams. We tend to live life minus a day. We fly by our intuitions and are often unconventional. We are truth tellers which many do not understand nor necessarily like... but we get that about each other. It's one reason I believe we have lasted. We have told the truth of our struggles to love each other but also kept respect utmost. We have truthfully lived our feelings. We have been honest in our communication even when it hurts but we also remind each other to live the GOOD, the BEAUTIFUL and TRUE. For every hard moment or word, we strive to make 5 more good, beautiful ordinary or lived kindness.

"...We were meant to be together and that's why we can roll with the punches, we can stroll hand in hand, and when I say it's forever you understand that you're always in my heart, always on my mind and when it all becomes too much, you're never far behind, and there is no one that comes close to you that can ever take your place, cuz only you can love me this way." Keith Urban

He is often the face of God to me when I can not see my way through. It's almost like God said, "Here. She sees so much and feels so much but the one thing she struggles to see is her worth. She knows I love her, but she does not ever feel she is worthy...and that is why I brought you to her so early in life. You will have more years together than you will have apart. I have blessed the broken road that has led her straight to you. She will learn my Grace mostly through you. She will learn love. She will become beauty because you will be her mirror. She will find that your cherished love is only a faction of mine and she will finally have moments of understanding." And my heart weeps with gratitude to Ineffable Grace. The Divine embodied in a gift.

"I like the feel of your name on my lips. I like the sound of your sweet gentle kiss. The way that your fingers run through my hair, and how you're scent lingers even when you're not there. I like the way your eyes dance when you laugh..and how you convinced me to dance in the rain, with everyone watching like we were insane but I love the way you love me. Strong and wild, slow and easy, heart and soul, so completely, I love, the way you love me." John Michael Montgomery
On this anniversary of our twentieth spiral, I lift my heart up with gratitude. I am so grateful to be alive with him NOW. I expect more hardships, brokenness and struggles. But if I have been taught one thing it is that beauty and pain are intertwined here on earth. You can not have one without the other. If one can not be embraced or reconciled, the other will not be either. I'm learning to embody them both without apologies or excuses. The beauty is also in the future. There are more sunsets to be stunned by. Moments when I look around my living room and see my eldest son smiling as he builds an ATAT, my daughter giggling at a meme, my youngest strumming his Ukulele and my husband catching my eyes. He knows what I am thinking and we share a smile as our gazes sweep around the room. We can not get enough of this EVERYDAY LOVE.

"You just get better all the time. Darling, don't you change a thing. Lately you're the only song I want to sing. You're my reason to try. You just get sweeter every day. The little things you do and say. If only you could see you through my eyes. You just get better all the time. Oh and I get the feeling we can make it babe, as long as you are by my side, you're the music in my ears, the laughter when the tears are falling down through my life." Tim Mcgraw

Philip, You are the main song I have been gifted to sing. Our love is the same old, same old,  keeping it new. Yet, I can not get enough of our lyrics set to the song of life. I love the daily phone calls when I hear your voice. The voice that grounds me and enables me to find my own. I wish you could see you through my eyes. You are my hero and also the one I often have to pick up by the bootstraps. You say I am your spiritual compass and you are my physical one...and mostly that's true...but sometimes I realize I have learned many spiritual truths through loving you. You're my best friend but more so, my soul mate. I know those do not come along often in life and I am so glad my eyes were opened enough to SEE you and that you saw me. I recognize something eternal when I look into your gray blue eyes. Thank you for twenty of the hardest and loveliest years of my life. Baby I will, I am, I can, I have, I still DO. xoxoxo Yours Kissa

For a post written this Valentines Day from my daughter and how she views how my husband loves me ( along with a home made video she made of some of our highlights that you can watch with password) Click HERE:https://worldwecreate.blogspot.com/2022/02/guest-post-like-my-father-loves-my-mom.html

Songs referenced in the post (click for the beautiful lyrical song links):

I Still Do- Paul Brandt