Monday, February 29, 2016

Conquering the Unconquerable

That wall on the right was my nemesis. Nails bent going in (and took chunks of wall with them). Screws spun aimlessly while chipping out more and more of what could, potentially, be lead-based paint. Drill bits broke. Adhesives un-adhered--if such a thing is possible.

I growled. I groaned. I, possibly, complained, but only a little bit because there's something in the Bible about that.

And then I got creative (or crazy--I've heard it both ways) and talked the Man into doing a paint night for our Saturday-night-at-home date night. After I manned up and patched the wall, that is. I'm a real adult now!

I spent the next week tweaking and this is what we ended up with.

As has been said before, more eloquently and by people much smarter than I: limitations breed creativity.

Plus, it reminds me of the ocean when it rains, and that makes my currently land-locked self very happy.

To limitations. And really old houses. And date nights at home with husbands who lovingly refrain from telling you that you're absolutely insane. Oh, and to water based paint which wipes right off!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Learning the Meaning

Happiness is Bee on a swing. And Bruiser in the Man's jeep.

Community is our neighbor buying said swing while we provide the rather sturdy oak tree. I feel like we came out on the better end of this deal.

Euphoria is lapping the two super fit dudes at the track.

Humility is when they finish warming up and start running for real, and you realize you weren't as cool as you thought originally.

Sore muscles are when you take the kids for a walk the same day you did intervals...and Not-So-Tiny and Bruiser park themselves in the stroller while Bee decides to ride on your back.

Snaggletooth is when playing tetherball, your final front tooth (that's been "hanging on by the skin of its teeth") gets knocked out...and you look like this.

Persistence is looking for said tooth in the grass of the back yard in order to make sure that it came out in one piece and also: tooth fairy.

Going above and beyond is when your awesome neighbor is the one who actually finds it.

Defeat is when your cat decides that its a good idea to spend the majority of her day sleeping on top of your newly planted cuttings. I hope that aloe vera stabs you in the eye.

It's also occurs when you finally conquer the unconquerable wall that bends nails and breaks drill bits by using adhesives... only to have your pictures fall off the wall two days later. Is it sour grapes to say that I didn't love it much any way?

Sadness is getting sent to time-out.

Sadness is also pretty much anything that occurs after a really bad nap time.

Leadership (or maybe just being a big sister by 8 minutes) is the words, "Hold my hand! Brother, hold my hand!" and the resulting capitulation.

Art is risk. Like painting over a picture you didn't really love in the hopes that you can make something that will actually spark joy in your life. Maybe.

Art does not, evidently, include editing any of my pictures. At least not this week.

And one more, back to happiness, it's books (for me, always) and holding on to hope and hopping on a swing myself and going on dates with my boys (especially the one I married) and making the choice to look and see the good that is there, the good that is always a gift, while trying to understand that the hard can be a gift too depending on what our goals are.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


I planted succulent cuttings yesterday. I have no idea whether or not I did it right, but I'm all for trying new things for which I am totally unqualified. Besides, my word for the year is "flourish", and how can you flourish if you're not surrounded by green things?

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about plants...and growth...and this whole idea of flourishing, which really just means to thrive in growth. And here's what I'm noticing:

Plants really only need a few things: soil, light, fertilizer, and water. Also, luck, but that's beside the point. And I should mention that when I told the Man I was going to pick up some cuttings, he said, "So Littles can take care of them, right?" Which is on point, because we both know that I'm probably going to kill all the green things.

At any rate, I'm thinking about what a plant needs in order to flourish, and its strikingly similar to what we need as human beings. The metaphor hits you on the head. Or in the face. Maybe both if the metaphor is in any way related to Bruiser...who will also step on your toes.

Much like plants, we need to be rooted deep in earth. I think of this as community. Without healthy community, our roots hang out all over the place like raw nerve endings...or they never develop at all. Rootless plants don't put out many leaves. Ditto with human beings.

Also like plants, we need both literal and spiritual light. I love grey days more than most sane people, but the warm glow of sun on my skin brightens my spirit. I also need the light of Christ shining on me. This brings growth.

Somewhat unfortunately, we also need fertilizer. And yes, sometimes this stinks. But good news: rumor has it that used coffee grounds function well as a natural fertilizer. I'm going to roll with this. I'll drink the coffee, then share the grounds: everyone wins. 

Finally, we, like plants, need water to feed us. But while plants tend to thrive on fresh water, most humans need a healthy dose of salt. As Isak Dinesen says, "The cure for anything is salt water--sweat, tears, or the sea." So yes, work, hard work, is necessary for growth. Those plants didn't pot themselves. But work is not even close to the only factor. One of the lessons that I have learned over the last few months is that the outpouring of grief waters the soil around us, enabling growth, not just in ourselves but also in those around us. But if we hold it all in, refuse to let even one precious, salty drop spill out, we inhibit our own growth and possibly the growth of others. 

{Side note: I don't know that the sea necessarily promotes growth, but it does make me happy.}

This week, then, I am celebrating succulents, kind people who share of their gardens, black thumbs, black soil and community (even for this introvert), warm sunlight (natural and spiritual), fertilizer (but only the caffeinated kind), and water--especially the salty variety. May the plants--and all of us--flourish.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


"And in every place he abandons he leaves something vital, it seems to me, and starts his new life somewhat less encrusted, like a lobster that has shed its skin and is for a time soft and vulnerable." 
E. B. White, "Good-bye to Forty-eighth Street",  Essays

I've been mulling over this quotation for several days now. I've found it particularly fitting for this season in my life, and E. B. White (of Charlotte's Web fame) provided me with such a fantastic mental image that I just can't stop thinking about it.

This was our fourth military move. With each move, we leave something vital: dear friends, favorite haunts, the mirror we got for our wedding that somehow didn't make it into the truck, and pieces of who we are, whether we realize it or not. While moving can be an adrenaline rush and carry with it its own exhilaration, it can also leave you feeling worn out, off kilter, lost, or beaten.

This move, I admit, I've mostly just wanted to hide for a while. I want time with my kids, time with the Man, time with the pets even, and definitely time by myself. My motivation level for meeting new people has been at an all time low. I've been inspired to set up house, because I want the comfort of home, but I do feel kind of lobster-ish right now. I feel soft and vulnerable, and I crave a little time to hide and let my skin re-grow.

In the past, I might've felt guilty about this. But now, I am trying to give myself space. After a season of brokenness and grief, God is allowing me time to heal, to put down roots slowly, to be gentle with myself. 

So here's to being a naked lobster--for a little while.