Tuesday, January 23, 2018


i must have been eight years old the first time i saw Aslan. i'd already experienced several girlhood crushes, but the Lion ~ he was my first great love. and it was the terrifying, wrenching, insurmountable kind of love that you might put away into some unlit corner for a time because (wrench) the pain of it, but you could never, ever forget it.

oh God, the Lion's eyes as his mane fell onto the stone. the painful but determined resolve with which he laid himself bare!

i didn't know.
i did not know allegory at eight years old.
i did not understand sacrifice, or the precarious nature of life, or what it meant to give your life to the service of others.

i cannot speak for my sister who watched with me ~ she, five years old ~ we, holding hands in stunned silence and solidarity ~ both of us hating the cold, white witch, and surely understanding in the depths of our created hearts, what it is to be tempted.

i cannot speak for my sister because she must speak for herself, albeit from the other side now, where surely she has found Aslan alive, has touched his mane, has been healed of every hurt, every crush, every temptation to turn away.

Tonight we will function like women.
The snow has gone away, the ice with its amniotic glare.
I clasp my sister’s tiny hand.
We will not turn away
Though spring, spring with its black appetite,
Comes seeping out of the earth.

The lion was sad. He suffered us
To touch him. When I placed the bread of my hands
In his mammalian heat, I was reminded
That the world outside this world
Is all vinegar and gall, that to be a young girl at the foot of a god
Requires patience. Timing.

The White Witch has mustered her partisans.
Because I am fascinated by her bracelets strung with baby teeth,
I will remember her as the woman
Who grins with her wrists. From my thicket of heather
I note that in her own congenital way
She is pure, that tonight she ushers something new into the world.

I cannot stop it. I cannot stop it just as in that other place
I could not keep the planes with their spiked fires from coming.
Though in this closed realm the smell of camphor is overwhelming
I have nothing but my hands to use
In ministering to the dead. Here too
My hands must suffice.

Hush now while I testify. They are shaving him.
The corona of his mane falls away
Like pieces of money. In the moon’s milk light
Her bangled wrists grin as she raises the blade.
Something is diffused. In whatever world he comes again
There will be women like us who choose to.
i wrote and re-wrote this until it spoke my piece, and then i checked the publication date of the bbc production, the one to which i refer.

it was nineteen-EIGHTY-eight, which means that i was eighteen and not eight, that my sister was fifteen and not five.  it means that i had a one-year-old daughter, and that i'd known more than just a few "childhood crushes."  it means that i knew a lot more than i did when i was eight years old.

but there's no changing this.  i wrote exactly what i see in my memory, exactly how i feel in my heart.  i was eight; she was five; we were holding hands.
in the first months after my sister died, i was searching one day for someone else to say for me what i couldn't.  it was a quick find, something i've known ever since was not an accident, and i go to her still when i don't know what to say.  Grief by Richard Brostoff via T.  whoever she is, she is also my sister.

if it seems i've followed her lead, then yes, absolutely.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Publisher's Clearinghouse

Remember several weeks back, after two weeks with a desktop fan in the bedroom, after three months of the clickety-clickety sound of the ceiling fan, after nearly a year of its hanging by wires and without globes, when, whilst my husband was at work, I single-handedly installed the new ceiling fan?

Last night, the new one started clickety-clickety-ing.
So I fixed it.
Now the light won't come on.

And that's how we got here.  That's how I know it's time to stop and clear another space before going back to putting the house back in order.  [(Which I've been doing for a week at a manic pace.) (Inference.)]

Relatively speaking, I expect this to be a post of few words, which is especially weird considering that this, by necessity, will cover a span of several years' worth of unwritten words.

In various places, at various times, I make references to THE ANNUAL YEAR-END POST that's been so traditional, so important ~ the one with the family picture...

But the truth is that, while I've taken the picture for more than several years now, I've only made the post two times.  For each of the last few years, I thought I would do it, and that I'd tie everything - all the missing stuff included - together with some neat-o words of vast importance, something that would stir your heart, inspire you to change your life.  blah blah blah.

By now, though, we all know that I do this more for my own self (and gosh, I hope with at least a smidge for Jesus) than for anybody else.

[(I just don't know why that doesn't make me go faster, use fewer words, worry less about sentence structure.) (Never mind, it's me we're talking about.)]

Ready?  Ready.

This was the first such picture and post, taken on Christmas Day, 2013.  As noted pretty clearly within, A Picture's Worth says much about how little you might know from just a photograph.

The next year, within hours of taking this Trigger Happy picture, I was being diagnosed with pneumonia.  The weeks that followed were just plain weird, but the thing I remember most about this particular morning, about this entire span of time, is the wondering if my youngest girl would be with us the following Christmas.  These were my Zombie Momma days.

2015.  No post for this one.  My youngest girl was incarcerated ~ which turned out to save her life!  But this Christmas morning was the day after my sister succumbed to her long, though very private battle with addiction and depression.  I was with her on Christmas Eve, at home to make breakfast and take this picture the next day.

Christmas morning, 2016, was ... I hate to keep saying, "weird," ... but I don't know what else to call it.  It was my first without my sister, and my family was still in the midst of so many battles.  That's all I have to say about that.

And now, This Christmas ...

Not everybody is here, but what you can't know just by looking at this is that we're still all together.  Ethan, Joshua's brother, is holding a ninja turtle.  I am wearing my sister's boots.  But these are merely photographic representations.  My sister, my grandbaby, all those I've held dear but have lost ~ they are in my heart.  No picture can completely show you that.

Still, I will still take pictures.  My husband rolls his eyes and huffs nearly every time I say, "hold on, let me get my camera!!"  And every time, I'm like dude! bro! brah!

How could I not take the picture?!

And with that, I finished (so I thought) and published this!
Remember how I said, "post of few words"?

Later, in another conversation (I was having with myself), I noted that I'd really not prepared to write this one.  (Forget that I've had the last two years to work it out!)

It seemed to me that I had just collected all these sentences in my head, shlumped them into a pile way back in a corner to gather dust, and that they just needed to be smoothed and laid out, first to last like a train, and that once I'd completed that arrangement, I would be relieved of their weight.

And sure enough, after I published, the pile began to burn off.

2017 was a $#?+ year, to say the very least.

It should have been one of my best so far, being that in '17, I moved from employment (keeping books at home) to vocation with my heart's place of ministry.  And truth is:  it was one of my best years in that way.  And being there, being where my heart is, with people whom I love, and who have returned much care and ministry to me ~ it's a great big part of what got me through the other stuff.

I know that I am not the only one who went through other stuff, who suffered loss or trial or Good God, what is happening?!! in '17.  Some of what went on, I saw, even if through a pixelated haze.  Some of it ~ honestly, probably most of it ~ I just plain missed.  In any case, I owe some kind of apology to those of you to whom I should have reached out but did not.  [(excuse, evident.) (but no excuses.)]

In another conversation (I was having with myself), I quipped, "dates don't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. you'll write " '18" on your checks now, but what else has changed, really, if you haven't?"


That date matters now.  A lot.  And always will now.

And it's like everything else, at least for me.  I move along through the days; I drink my coffee, do my work, sometimes write things down.  It might all seem pretty ordinary on paper.  It's just a life.  An ordinary life.

But life is extraordinary ~ everything about it!  I cannot look at anything around me without seeing the holographic nature of it.  This life ~ where numbers and colors and "first to last" mean more than just the first glance would imply.

So, here now.
This will be the end of this.
This pile, cleared and published.
I am changed now.
But not yet done.

I pray the same for you.

The Long Dark Pause

of the soul.  until i correct that last post.

and now,
13 hours after discovering
that the overhead bedroom light
had ceased to work,
thereby casting me into a tailspin,
a complete wtf(ire) am i supposed to do now,
which led to the whole blogging/picture thing,
and which, honestly, i did not believe myself to have planned,
to have thought out thoroughly enough that it would resolve itself in so short a span of words,
but on which, as i now reflect,
i wish i'd spent just a smidge more time,
realizing in hindsight
that it ended too abruptly,
and really,
without any kind of closure,
what i've learned
is that
i was reversing my light switch and chain pull.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


(I can't come up with a better title, and elves are supposed to be magic anyway, right?  So that's that.)


If you're going to be in public dressed as an elf, you'd best be prepared to smile and wave, don't ya think?  Seems practical enough.  Seems like something you'd anticipate, prepare for, consider thoroughly as you decide whether or not going into public as an elf is even a good idea.


I'm sometimes impulsive.  Sometimes, I make decisions without thorough consideration.  Sometimes, without even a little common sense, it seems.

This doesn't always matter (to me) or bother me once I'm pumping gas in front of Walmart dressed as an elf.

But this year.
This year is different.

I recently had this really bright idea to start my very own hashtag for the 25 days of Christmas.  It's been easy enough to have a post for every day so far.  ...but every day, we get closer...

Christmas-time is a thing for me.  I don't know if I know very many people ~ I know a few ~ who move through this season unaffected.  Excepting the few, it seems to me that people either love the Christmas holiday or they're miserable and just praying to get through it.  (I suppose there's a whole third group of folks who are just stressed to hair-loss about buying gifts and time with family and cooking, etc. ~ but that's a whole other post that somebody else can/will write.)

It hasn't always been this way, but if I'm going to tic toc, it's likely going to happen during the end of each year.  I've lost a lot of folks during this season ~ literally, figuratively ~ and then, concerning some folks ~ my dad, for instance ~ it doesn't matter when they left, their absence is always a heavy mantle this time of year.

*Important note:  so far, what I've written looks and feels like a heavy mantle!  Who would want to read this, and especially at Christmas?  I promise, though, that I set out with a positive notion, and I intend for this to be a tapestry in the end - one that evokes positivity, willful endurance, hope.  If you've made it this far, then please bear with me.  It really does get darkest just before the dawn!

Last Christmas Eve was the first anniversary of my sister's going home.

(That's enough, really.  I could stop right here, save this as a draft, and walk away.)


It's probably only been within the last decade that I've found zeal, joy, and a celebratory mood for this season.  Certain life events, having grandkids ~ experience has taught me:  appreciate every single moment.

Last Christmas Eve was important.  This one, even more so.  And Christmas Day ... this is all I have to say about that.


Some of my favorite bloggers write very practical bullet lists ~ "do and don't", "how and why", "who and who not" ~ and I've learned from and been inspired by many such posts.  So much that I thought writing one here and now was the most appropriate approach to making my desired point(s).

However, in discussion with a very important friend the other day, speaking about loss and grief, she said, "You really and truly can't tell people how to get through it.  People just have to do it their own way."


And so, I'm not going to write a "This Is How To Get Through This Season If You're Grieving Or If You Just Plain Hate Christmas," bullet list.  What I'm going to do instead is share my personal experience and manner of coping through this season.

There are things that I do that are critical to my... well, plain out surviving this time of year.  This will not be an inclusive list (remember, it's actually not a list at all), but following are some of my most important practices to maintaining health and sanity, especially right now.

I burn incense.  I said that to someone recently, and she responded that she "went through that phase."  It continues to baffle the dickens out of me what she meant by "that phase"!  Pish tosh.  Burning incense is serious business, more crucial than that whole transcendental meditation stuff that I learned in 3rd grade.  For one thing, my dad did it ~ had all these special little dishes for his cones.  I use sticks, but still have a thing for the groovy burners.  Obviously, it reminds me of my dad in the most positive way, but it really is also part of my meditation practice.  Meditation, for me, is quiet contemplation.  Prayer.  Being still and listening for the quiet voice.

I make myself go into public places.  (*There are times, as aforementioned, that I need to be alone, and that is OKAY.)  Going into public is a little more necessary now that I have a job away from home, so what I mean is that I don't just go out.  I also mix in.  I intentionally interact with people, and most especially with people who are my friends.  Many years ago now, after one of my most traumatic experiences, I had a period of time in the desert.  It was ten years later that I lost my dad, and even having learned the danger of withdrawing, I descended for about three years into one of the darkest periods of my life.  It still scares me when I read journal entries from that time.  Now, whenever I want most to crawl into a hole, I try my hardest to be present with people.  Friends, especially, can draw you out, distract you with joy (in spite of circumstance, and that is OKAY), and hold you up when you feel like sinking.  Remember, talking with a friend is why this is not a bullet point post, thank Jesus!

I believe in Jesus.  I find my hope and greatest sustenance in my relationship with him.  Sometimes, I wonder if people wonder how it is that I can go into public dressed as an elf these few short months after losing my grandbaby.  I sometimes wonder about it my own self.  But the answer is simply and always Jesus.  I know that some folks don't believe.  I know that some folks don't believe it can possibly be enough.  But this is my experience.  Jesus sustains me.  He is my truest friend and he holds me up when I feel like sinking.

The last months of the year can be a really tough time for a whole lot of people.  I am among them.  One way or another way, you'll likely see a number of articles, bullet point lists, whatevers about how to cope or how to help someone else cope through this season.  I've told you just a few of the ways that I get through.  I pray that each of you will find your way and/or help someone else to do the same.

I have eight days left to finish what I started. 
As I draw closer, I wonder more about how I'll do it. 
But I know I'll do it. 
I'll do it even if it's awful. 
And it won't be magic. 

In spite of circumstance, in spite of loss and grief, Christmas is still about the birth of Jesus.  I pray to be neither trivial nor trite about the hardships and hurt that other people are experiencing, and pray, sincerely, fervently, that we can all see through it all the way through.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


is about to be

dumb even,
as my nearly five-year-old grandson would say.

(Nearly five years old.
Lord, have mercy!)

This is a step, though,
and one that I must take in order to take the next step forward.
(Don't ask me which step it is, though,
as it's been some time since I studied on all that.)

The thing about this is that before I can go any further forward,
I must go back a few.
I must review.
I must confront.
I must acknowledge.
And then maybe I can deal.
Deal like a real person, and not like some character in a play.

That tree has been up for four days without lights.
There's a scattering of other Christmas decor just beyond view.
There are groceries on the counter, and yes, even some frozen ones that should have been put away minutes and minutes ago.

But I have reached critical mass.
I must either do this or crack open like a wasted acorn* and lie forgotten and decaying in the moss.

(I've read some stuff this last couple of years.  Like, REAL stuff, and it's left in me a deep and mournful yearning to say beautiful, painful things that might cause your bones to ache.)

(first pang.)

(This is going to be more for my own sake, apparently.)

"Walk through these gray days oneself as an announcing messenger.  So many need their courage strengthened, so many are in despair and in need of consolation, there is so much harshness that needs a gentle hand and an illuminating word, so much loneliness crying out for a word of release, so much loss and pain in search of inner meaning.  God’s messengers know of the blessing that the Lord has cast like seed into these hours of history." Father Alfred Delp

I saw this posted in my ig feed this morning along with, 

"Words matter.  Especially now." Kimberly Coyle

People keep telling me to write.
They say that I should, that I can, that I underestimate my ability.
Again, though, I've read some STUFF, and it's left me feeling smallish.
I must acknowledge, though,
that feeling smallish is an affect of my affliction.

Sometime this year, I was diagnosed with poly-inflammatory arthritis.  I remember how confused my doctor looked when I kept saying, "oh, thank goodness."  I was really just glad to know that something real and not imagined was happening, grateful that I had not accidentally written a chronic illness into my story.  (You ever done that?)  I wonder now if that initial reaction might have affected some of his choices regarding my treatment plan.  (No need to elaborate.)

I guess this turns out to be not a great thing to have since every time I tell someone older than me that I have it, they give me the sad and sympathetic groan, as if my entire future will be dimmed in comparison to the role that this thing will play.

Right now, I'm getting it.  Like, I get it.  I'm having a flare-up.

[(Look, right here, what I want to do is insert 
some kind of frou-frou text image 
and maybe a swollen middle finger, 
but I'm supposed to be better than that.)  
(I'd probably do it anyway if I had time.
Just to be entirely honest about it.)]

The arthritis thing is real, and it's coloring the background of everything else.
Until it takes its place, center stage.

Truth is, it's been easy to ignore, to do what they say, to take what they prescribe.
There's been So Much else to think about...

This is my story, and no-one else's, so who even should remember all the other things?
Like, do you remember that I used to write a Christmas post which included a family picture?
After that very first year, I knew that taking the picture of my family all together on Christmas morning would be a long-standing and severely important tradition.

Truth is, I wondered that very first year about who would and who would not be in the next year's picture.

On Christmas Eve of 2015, my mom and I sat with my little sister, my only sibling, as she left this world.  I drove home that night, made breakfast the next morning, and took a picture.

Last year, I did not travel, but stayed quiet through the holidays.

(first tears.)

On Christmas morning, I made breakfast for my family, and I took the picture.
I could not write the post, though I've mental-ed it out all through this year.

(now I've lost it.)

I feel bad for all your sakes for what I'm about to write, but I can't not do it.
[(A part of me is hoping nobody reads this.)  (Not a first.)]
I feel especially for those of my family who will feel this all so fully,
like an ache down deep in the bones.

I wish
I wish I could skip this, but I've held in so much.  I've kept so many words for so long that I have to wonder if I really have some diagnose-able, tangible, recognizable condition, or if this pain is really just the essence of words not said.

I lost a nearly four-year-old grandson this year in a tragic accident.
God bless his daddy and his momma and his cousins and all his other grandmas and grandpas, all his other family, all those who knew him and know the void he's left behind.

God help me, how will I take a picture this year?

I just will.

God help me, I will do it.
I will do it for those of us still here.
I will do it for Joshua.
I will do it for Jenny.
I will do it because it's Christmas.
We're celebrating the birth of Jesus.
And it is because of Jesus that I will see them again.


Their lives, our lives, these words ... matter.  Especially now.

[going to put away my (wasted) groceries now.]

*As I proofed this, the analogy of the cracked seed came alive for me.  Cracking open, of course, is not the worst thing that can happen to an acorn.  No need to elaborate.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Words, Like Children

i think it's not that i have no words.
i think it's that i don't recognize them.
i think the words are in there,
but look more like bits of shattered glass,
dirt thrown across the way,
piles of paper everywhere,
dried leaves and pressed flowers.
and the words are hiding too,
like children playing an innocent game,
some of them in my heart,
some of them in my marrow,
some of them gone further out into the field,
having forgotten that we were engaged in mutual affection.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

In The Desert

the things you see in hindsight ~
the real-life
life-flashes-before-your-eyes vision(s) ~
that you have what?
one last time?