• Family,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Motherhood

    We Mother

    During the 20 months of her diagnosis, I made several open-ended visits to my hometown about 900 miles from where we live to be with Mom. The last visit started out rough. The whole family had traveled from all over the country to be together. We spent time at a beautiful house near the beach. Then we passed around Strep throat and influenza despite our best efforts at quarantine so we cycled through lethargy and soreness and the fear of passing it along to anyone else. With three small children, visits to the cancer clinic, and no coffee options (because one hundred million Starbucks and a Peet’s do not count as “options”).…

  • Cancer,  death,  Family,  God,  Grief,  Worship

    When Those Songs Play

    There is a station on my Pandora account – I named it “My Nest” – which I have thumbed up and thumbed down to perfection. Just about every song is deeply meaningful to me because this station has played through 2 unique pregnancies and their furiously lovely births, a dying dog, 3 moving days, the cancer news from California, all the breath-holding and fervent praying, and now it plays over my mourning. When my mom had surgery to remove the tumor we still thought could be some sort of sinus infection, the music and lyrics matched every atom of my limbo. Peace and anxiety swirled around and up to a God…

  • Cancer,  death,  Family,  Grief,  life,  Love

    The Best Birthday Party

    A birthday party for a three year old is usually not thrown in between hospice visits and medication reviews. Celebrating birth seems almost vulgar around the dying. But he has given up a lot without his consent and I couldn’t stand the thought of his giving this up, too. Birthdays are a big deal for us; we start talking about them months in advance when we realize that we are “two and a half” years old. He cycled through several themes and set his heart on a Paw Patrol party. He’d tuck his chin and wrinkle his nose and his sweet little mouth curled into a smile when he talked about Chase decorations…

  • Family,  Friends,  Home,  life

    Shamans and Prophets and Miracle Workers

    I know shamans and prophets and miracle workers. They use their hands to plant beauty and their feet to run to help. They call down blessings for me and offer up curses when I need a bigger voice to tell God I’m sick of this. They are my village and they are raising me. And they do it while they dress their own babies and feather their own nests and walk through their own fires. I have incredible people in my life. I knew this before. I have been humbled by their grace, humored by their good will, encouraged by their presence. But lately I have been walking through something…

  • Family,  Friends,  God,  life,  Love

    It’s not a secret: I have been doubting, squinting, cocking my head at all the things I thought I knew. I have been wrestling with… whatever the hell we wrestle with in existential crises – which is the question here, this time: it is what, not why, nor how. What. I have doubted God’s kindness. I’ve doubted God’s provision, God’s fairness, God’s predisposition. I’ve doubted God’s intentions, God’s story, God’s plan. And now I have doubted God’s being as I’ve always understood it. But do you know what I never stopped believing in? What I haven’t doubted (yet) for even one second? Love. I believe in Love. I believe it matters how we treat each other,…

  • Birth,  Family,  life,  Love,  Motherhood

    Highest Hope

    I gave birth to her on the floor of the Birth Center – right outside the tub where I thought I might die, where I hated her from a reserve of fury I didn’t know existed, where I’d cursed the moment of conception which had brought me to this agony. She came quickly. Her eyes were steely blue, her lips resembled a rosebud, her chubby olive cheeks were too kissable to resist, and she smelled like Heaven. I am convinced. If there is a Heaven and if it has a smell it is that one. The midwife handed her to me and I don’t think she even reached my chest before…

  • Cancer,  Family,  Home,  Love

    The Cabin

    For me, Home smelled like Raccoon Court – oak trees on a lake, mossy rocks and too many leaves. The concrete cracked over wild earth reminding us she is far from contained and that she did the long-suffering despite our groans come summer when the weeds needed pulling. We tucked our stories into this old, tiny cabin surrounded by deer and birds and these round petaled flowers in tall grass. Does it sound a little magical? Good. My childhood saw magic. Sometimes we go back. My brother and I drive down the familiar roads and we can’t wait to breathe that air. We’ve taken friends and spouses, we’ve gone alone, but…

  • Birth,  Family,  Motherhood

    Happy Birthday, Mom

    She tells me the story with relish – more than 20 hours of contractions, no drugs, back labor, and “you were sunny-side up!” She sneers playfully while she reminds me that I am the reason she got the drugs with my brother.  I’ve done this now, become a mom. I’ve gone through my own labor stories which I relay with indulgence to the people they bore. I have held my firstborn with tears in my eyes and loved her more fiercely in the moment of her birth than I had ever loved anything, funneled all my hope and imagination and compassion and affection into a moment I never could have…

  • Beauty,  Community,  Family

    Inland Strong

    The power to our house has been out for 7 cold-and-getting-colder nights since what has been called Windpocolypse – the worst wind storm since the grid went up, folks. That’s 126 years of crossing fingers that it wouldn’t happen. Someone forgot to say their prayers so we have been nomadic this last week.  We rather enjoyed the first night. We soaked up the last of the warmth from our heater’s working day while we ate deli sandwiches by a cozy fire among flickering tealights. I told our children the Family Story – how we got from two kids in love to 5 people and a dog. We cuddled and giggled…

  • Family,  Motherhood

    Carving a Heart

    I have this theory about becoming elderly. That in the end of one’s life, all the pretenses dissolve and the world is left with the truest form of what a person has been creating with all his time and effort. Like alcohol or narcotics, old age is an un-inhibitor. It leaves us to ourselves – to our demons, to our healing, to whatever has made it down to our deepest depths and stuck there. One day the world around me will see what I have done with all my years and what is most important to me. They will see the heart I have cultivated over a lifetime. I decide every day what kind of heart that will be,…