Monday, November 25, 2013

Holding Treasure.

I know a secret someone.  A person who has always been a bit of a hero to me.  I met her at my sister's wedding.  She is beautiful, strong, fun, wise, and so incredibly talented.   She is the other Aunt to my nephew and nieces.   Erica Bartel.

Recently she took my family to Half Moon Bay and did a photo shoot with us.  It was amazing.  We went to the Fitgerald Marine Reserve.  It is a must see to anyone traveling through the area.  Filled with twisted trees that lead to a beach wild with tide pools.  The air was heavy with mystery and wonder.  Knowing Erica is a bit like holding seashells in your hand; a polished jewel, well worth the search.

I thought I'd share a little of that outing with all of you.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sometimes, the Worst.

When everything goes wrong and it's not even 8 o'clock.

That has been my morning.  It really all started at 1am last night.  The moment I laid down and felt the tickle in the back of my throat, that I knew would result in a full blown cough attack.  I blew out a sigh and stumbled to the medicine cabinet to grab a few quick swigs of nyquil.  It's not typical for me to take cough medicine, but I needed the sleep pretty desperately, and I didn't want to keep the entire clan awake through the night.

I woke with the typical full blown hangover of one who has drugged themselves in the name of peaceful sleep.

I mumbled to Eric that I needed coffee and tried to bite back the angry words at the full of sunshine, too happy children that tumbled over my exhausted body.

After an eternity, the smell wafted in before my saint like husband came bearing a steaming cup of my favorite brew.  Thick and dark, everything I needed to help pull me from the haze that engulfed my complete being.

I pushed up against the bed frame and prepared to begin my morning completely right.  Perfect moment, perfect husband, perfect coffee.  It's the stuff that fuels my life.

You know how horrible things almost happen?  You can see the worst and then it doesn't occur and you breathe out a sigh and think how bad it could have been?  An heirloom teeters on a shelf and you manage to grab it before it crashes to a million pieces and you feel that thrill of gratitude and joy that the worst didn't happen?

Yeah.  That's not how my moment went this morning.

As I reached out for my coffee and Eric carefully handed the hot cup into my hands with a paper towel to help catch any little spills. . . My hands shook and it started to splash, I felt that panic, that you feel, when you know it's all about to come crashing around you, but you also feel as if you can stop it.  

I didn't save the moment.

It splashed down my arm and started to burn, then half the cup went over my stomach and the rest of the contents spilled over my mattress, down the wall, and soaked into the carpet.  There was nothing within a three foot radius that was safe.


There are days.

There are moments.

I'm on my second cup of coffee.

I feel a bit discouraged and I want to chalk the day up to a waste.

Sometimes nothing goes right and it feels as if you should chuck everything.

I guess this would be where the saying, "toss the baby out with the bathwater" applies.

So, I'm taking back my day.  It's going to be an incredible, wonderful, full of joy, perfect moments kind of day.

I also wish each of you the same.  Blessings and joy.  The fullness of life.  May this day, be a day the Lord has made.  

Coffee burns, coffee stains, ruined moments, discouraged sighs, and frustrations can linger, but they don't have to.

Accidents happen and we each have a choice for how we're going to handle them.  We can allow them to destroy every bit of good or we can shove them back into their place of momentary glitches.  

My morning sucked.  My day is going to be incredible.

Let's get to this.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Like a fairy she stands, flowers in her hair, mud on her face, tangled hair and dirty hands.  A flower torn from earth, roots shake and dirt covers my floor.  All for the bloom that barely had time to form.

Cherub face stares.  Eyes wide.  "Please stop a moment, and be with me."  Whispers in the silence of a rage I cannot hide.

Things must be neat, houses must be kept, dresses pressed and dainty, floors that must be swept.

She comes to me and haunts me in my day.  Little fairy wonder, longing for me to stay.  To be with her, in moments, when a list demands, I push from these still longings, to fight the demons that reside.

Kneeling to the girl child, that holds a flower in her hand.  I still for a moment.  Let lists fling from my hands.

I cup her muddy face, stare deep into her eyes.  Then I hug her and her dirt, let roots leave their trace upon my shirt.  Flower in it's water, kept inside it's crystal vase.

We laugh in child wonder and I find my perfect place.

Not in lists and laundry, with fat rolls, and with face, I'll be the mother in her memory who loves with desperate grace.

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Years In

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary.

7 years ago, Eric and I were living in a dreamy apartment in downtown Madison.  There was snow on the ground, but it wasn't freezing.  The air held the perfect nip.  I spent this day, driving to Chicago to pick my sister up from the airport while Eric worked.  We made it back to Madison with just enough time to hunt down egg nog lattes before I needed to start getting ready.

Eric was supposed to tie up his loose ends, (ie find a wedding ring) before meeting us at a small pier that jutted out over lake Monona.

I curled my hair and slipped on a cream colored, frothy dress I had found just the day before at Banana Republic.  It had been returned from an internet order and was just my size.  I wrapped a crimson scarf around my neck, my one defense against the chill.  Then I headed out the thick oak door and down the steps.  My sister stopped me just outside, under a dark tree, the street lamp shining through the leaves.  Her arm gripped me as she looked in my eyes, "Are you sure?"  

I could feel the weight of her question.  Was I sure?  I mean really?  I was getting ready to marry a man I had been dating officially for 3 months and I had known for 9 months.  The only family represented on either side was my sister and 9 month old niece.  We were completely alone and getting ready to fully pledge ourselves to one another.  Was I sure?  I didn't know if I could answer that.  I didn't know what would come at us, I didn't have years of dating to prove our faithfulness.  I waited and all I could sense, was that in everything in my life, this was the one thing I felt completely sure of.  I wasn't afraid and I should have been terrified.  I had the deepest, most unshakable peace I had ever experienced in my life.  

"Yes, I'm sure."  

And we drove into the night.

My wedding was hastily planned in three days.  I wasn't surprised when it didn't follow a perfect plan, there hadn't been much of one to begin with.

It was cold and dark.  There were fishermen pulling in their lines, preparing to head home.  The lights from the capitol shone on the water that curved around it's bank.  Light posts dotted the pier, bits of gold in the night.  A group huddled together at the end and a man stood out just a bit, his hands strumming his guitar, singing "Something",  I walked toward him, my life about to begin with his.

Steve Cecil, took off his thick black jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders.  It wasn't the image I had been going for, but it kept me warm enough to speak my vows without freezing.  Then he led us in our commitment to one another and pronounced us man and wife.  There are people that will forever be in your heart, the Cecil's and the Haack's from our time in Madison, will always hold a special place.

I hope when you read this you are struck with the frailty of the vows we made to one another.  I hope you can see that we closed our eyes and jumped together.  I say frailty, because while we meant every word and we have honored our promises in every way, we didn't have a depth of years to back them up.  We had only what we knew of ourselves, each other, and the belief that we would be faithful to these words for the rest of our lives.

We have not been married long.  Seven years is a drop in the bucket compared with fifty.  Our lives are not much more sure now then when we started.  We are still living in a foreign city with just our family,  only it has grown to include our two small children.  We are not settled.  We are getting ready to make huge changes in our lives.  We are rocking the boat, on the sea of life, as hard as we can.

We have lived in five cities and three states.  We have moved 8 times and owned two houses.  We have been vagabonds, seeking a home.  I still don't know when we'll settle.  I don't know that we'll ever find the perfect place.

I have hated all the moving.  I have desperately longed for a place I can stretch my tent and dig deep roots.  Yet, I have a very special gift.  I have been given amazing friends in every place we have gone.  I wish so desperately that I could take all of the people we love from around the country and now the world and put them in one place.  Heaven will be an amazing party, as I'm sure that is the only time my dream will be a reality.

In all of this transition, in the craziness of life and growing together, we have fought and loved.  We have laughed and cried.  We have reached the breaking point and kept moving forward.  We have held hands and weathered every storm.  Without realizing, we grew strong.  Our base merged into a oneness and we have learned to grow together.  To stand united.

7 years of marriage and I am still just as crazy in love as I was the day I said 'I do'.  I am overwhelmingly grateful for the gift I was given.  The blessing on my life.

I have no promise for tomorrow.  I know that life is not sure and that it will rock and shake me to my core.  I am given this blessing to steward, to commit, to grow, and nurture.  This amazing life that I enjoy is a result of constant choosing.   That when storms of life come against us and we have hurt one another, when we stand angry, we are unwilling to spit words that could break or cause demise.  We have been faithful to our vows.

Even now, all these years later, when I look at what comes ahead, the darkness of the unknown, I can feel my hand held in Eric's and I know that I am safe.  I am loved.  I am blessed.  My heart is filled.