Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Didn't See This Coming

It is good to be thankful.

Yesterday, as I was about to leave work, I opened a window on my computer and googled "Thanksgiving Desserts." I started scrolling through recipes, thinking about what ingredients I had on hand, then a thought crossed my mind: "What am I doing?"

And just like that, I shut the computer down, drove to Kroger, bought a cake and came home.


A quick scroll through my TimeHop App takes me back to Thanksgivings past, when I made Pumpkin Trifle, and Strawberry Scones, and Homemade Bread. And the year Michael was sick and we stayed home and I made turkey and all the trimmings on a whim, that day.
Those were great days.
But that's not where I am anymore. I love where I am now. I never would have thought my evenings would look the way they do.

I come home from work, and dinner is either made, or almost made. By a guy who can't fully use his hands. He has limited use of his arms, and no use of his fingers. I never in a million years would have thought those wrists would peel carrots, chop potatoes, sauté asparagus, make Rosemary Chicken, Pot Roast, the list goes on.
But he does it, y'all. It's crazy. He does it and I come home and sometimes chop the meat and always we eat together and gush over how good it is.

It is good to be thankful. It is good to not have to do it all.

When Michael and I got married there were some things I knew I'd have to do. I embraced the cooking. I love cooking, actually! But it does take time at home. And because I work so much, I have far less time at home. So now we are one of those couples where he cooks and she cleans up.
And now I'm a girl who brings a store-bought cake to Thanksgiving and is totally fine with it. Because my identity is not found in the kitchen. Not that I'm saying yours is if you've cut out leaf-shaped pie crust. Go on with your bad self, girlfriend! That's awesome.

Life is season after season after season. I'm content right here in the middle of this one.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Confession: No Longer Who I Was

I am a girl who appreciates order and color coordination. I am on time, I wake up before my alarm, I read three newspapers every morning and I'm generally annoyingly prepared for anything.

I am a girl who knows what she wants. Once I figure that thing out, I go after it with my whole heart and I almost always get it.

I'm not that familiar with failure. Or heartbreak.

I think that's why you saw me pouring my heart out over coffee and tears here in this blog space a few years ago. Because I met my match. The thing I couldn't outwit, couldn't out perform, couldn't get in front of, couldn't change: my husband's disability.

I have heard from so many of you who tell me my words could be your words. That I gave you a voice. That I inspired you to love your husband and admit that it's hard at the same time. Girls, that gave me so much strength to walk this walk on the days I didn't want to wake up. Thank you.

Thank you for being the community that didn't even exist when I first needed it. Thank you for the flowers and cards and text messages and blogs of your own and pictures of ways to make the little things in life accessible.

We are the quad wife sisters and no one can ever take that away from us. But I have to be honest with you. I've changed.

I am no longer the girl who cries all the time. I'm no longer the girl whose heart is broken when the church people fall all over themselves to help him while the door slams in my face. I am no longer the girl whose hair is falling out and skin is broken out and can't take all of the pressure of doing it all around the house.

A lot has changed. It changed a little bit at a time. I think that's called healing.

What I'm not saying is it's all better. I still have days I cry on the floor. I still have outbursts of anger and fights with God that include lots of "Why?" questions. I still miss the memories I'll never have. I have moments where I see my life as if I'm looking at it from the outside and I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for us. But mostly, I'm just generally happy with what we have.

It's healing. I'm sure of it. I want this for all of you, too. I believe it will come. I think you have to feel it for it to heal, though. So please, poke around here in the archives and cry with me. I'll cry with you. This experience has fundamentally changed who I am. And I'm glad. I'm a better person for it. I never would have made it here without all of you.

But I felt like it was time I came clean. My life is full and disability and caregiving is a part of it but it's no longer the main character. I don't know what that means for this blog. It may be a little more random in the days to come. Less focused? I'm not sure. My boss tells me I suck at poker face. Guess what? I suck at poker face writing, too.

So, I'll write from where I am and you can read from where you are and hopefully, we'll connect some where in the middle and encourage each other to bravely do the hard things and to love like this.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Pleasure Vs. My Pity

Have you ever noticed at Chick-Fil-A, when you thank them for your food, they say, “My pleasure.” Note: They’ve started doing this at McDonalds, too. I obviously eat more fast food than I should. Anyway, I’m not writing about fast food, I’m writing about giving.

I give a lot in my life. I guess a lot of giving just comes with the territory when you are a caregiver. I don’t only give a lot at home, though. I give a lot at work, too. I am a leader. I believe leaders should be servants. Servants give.

I often find myself at the end of my rope. I am just empty. I hate it. I want to be able to give more, because I can see more is needed. Honestly, that’s the number one reason I’ve strayed away from writing on this blog – because I just don’t have anything to give. To write. To say. I feel guilty about this.

I think it’s easiest to give when it is my pleasure. I wish it was always a pleasure, but it’s not. Especially before I have any coffee.

We work an overnight schedule. Translation: We don’t sleep. Every Friday, we are exhausted and aim to sleep for about 12 hours. When I really sleep on Fridays, I dream. I almost always dream that I am constantly woken up and asked for things. It’s usually Michael who asks me for things in my dreams. Last night, I had this dream back-to-back about 6 times, then I woke up to him actually asking for something, and I got it for him but I was not nice about it. Failure.

This morning, Michael woke up with a scratchy throat. We decided to stay home from church. I was sweet to him, right off the bat. I got him some medicine, stroked his hair. I was all impressed with myself. I got the thermometer to take his temperature, did that, then he made one unsolicited comment – something about wiping the thermometer off with an alcohol swab and BOOM, I got mad.

No longer my pleasure. My service was tainted. I was annoyed, feeling like a victim, like a slave, like I’m just here to do the work. I actually felt the change happen in my heart. And I hate it! I want it to be my pleasure.

I constantly have to fight for my pleasure. I have to confess, pray, listen to music, have alone time, write, talk to other wives who get it, and eventually I can get back to the place where I can take care of him with a sweet spirit. I hate that I have to fight for this. I wish it was easier.

Earlier this week, Michael’s home health aide called out sick. (We’re thinking that’s where he got the throat thing.) I had already woken up an hour early so I could be out of our bedroom and out of the way, so I was mad I was going to have to step up and get him up and dressed myself, and I had to do it without an hour of sleep I would have had, had I known when we went to bed that she wouldn’t be coming in that night. I started getting him ready and then we were thrown a curveball. I’m not going into detail, but it was not fun.

I have a mode I go into when this happens and I went into the mode. I am a household appliance. I’m a tornado of plastic gloves, washcloths, anti-bacterial spray and laundry detergent. I clean up the mess and theoretically, it’s gone. But the fact that it happened hurts. And the hurt lingers. And I fight with God: Why? How? So many questions. Don’t you see? Don’t you care?

I broke down in tears and laid down with Michael. Snuggled beside him on his right shoulder. He accepts me when I am a mess like this. When I can’t do it. When it’s not my pleasure. When I pity him. When I pity us. When I can’t climb and claw and fight my way to just face the day.

Once I got him up, I made coffee and warmed up dinner and I went upstairs to get ready for work. And the waves kept crashing. I couldn’t rally. I ended up taking a sick day. I fell asleep on the couch. I made it through the night, after all.

I look back at our live together over the last five years and I remember so many days that were filled with pity in those early years. I serve more out of pleasure, these days, thank God! When this happened the other night, Michael brought up Sisyphys. I told him I used to feel like Sisyphus all the time. Now, it’s rare. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or not. On one hand, at least I’m not pushing that rock up the hill already exhausted. On the other hand, I am out of practice.

The bottom line here is it’s way easier to serve, to give, out of pleasure than it is out of pity.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Time We Don't Have

Here’s a scene from my imperfect life. Or, maybe I should say Brokaw’s life. See him there, with the toss pillow? Whenever Brokaw is excited, he goes for the closest toss pillow he can find. He carries it around the house, shakes it, tries to get me to take it away from him. This one is off of our bed. 

See Michael’s toes? His shoes? Every night, I get Michael up and dressed and ready for the day (night). I sit on the floor and put his shoes on his feet. Before I slip them on, Brokaw stands on my lap so I can scratch his back with Michael’s shoes. The Vans are his favorite. See that huge scratch on the door? If you are a landlord, and you have a tenant who is in a wheelchair, I suggest you pad your walls. Just an FYI there. 

So much about this picture and our life isn’t Pinterest-perfect. But you know what? We love our little life and each other. And that makes such a difference in facing the hard things. Oh, the hard things. They are plenty. Just last night when I was dressing Michael, he teared up, feeling the unfairness. I rolled him on his side, snuggled behind him and we just laid there snuggled and pep-talking for a good 20 minutes. It was 20 minutes we didn’t have but we had to have.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Best Jobs Don't Feel Like Work

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. I remember my dad studying to be a paramedic, and I would read his textbooks for fun. So, I figured becoming a doctor would be the perfect thing for me.

Then, Algebra I happened. And I decided I wanted to be a journalist, instead.

I had guilt about this, because I’m a promise-keeper. At the age of 14, I was so afraid of letting the world down, and telling it I didn’t think I’d be able to be a doctor. Then one day, the man who would end up marrying my mom told me I should do what I want. I’m sure Dave had no idea how he was freeing me to be me when he told me that, that day.

I’ve been working in TV news for 15 years. It’s not all puppies and unicorns. I’ve worked long hours, and crazy hours, and filed stories from taxi cabs and bathrooms and I’ve bought gas and groceries with a credit card and cried in stairwells at work. But, I can say that I love what I do. I’ve never stopped loving it.

I’ve been paid to witness history. To record it. To hold the powerful accountable. To tell stories people need to hear in order to be better citizens. And now, I get to lead a team of people who do that, and watching them learn and grow is even more fulfilling than it was to do it myself.

If I could give everyone one thing, it would be Jesus. If I could give them two things it would be Jesus, then a job that doesn’t feel like work. It’s truly a gift.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I like to wake up early, while Michael is still asleep, and Brokaw is still snoring with his eyes open. It’s quiet, and I can feel the peace and possibility of a new day, without immediately being thrust into it.

Sometimes it feels like the world is churning with obligations, responsibilities, and bills, doesn’t it? But a little quiet and hot coffee, alone, first thing in the morning makes it feels like the world pauses.

I beg of the world: Please stop churning for a minute so that I can sleep. So that when I wake up, the things that I haven’t done yet won’t feel even more undone, just the same level of undone I left them at when I laid my head on the pillow.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of the stuff would just stop and wait for us to be ready? But, it doesn’t. It churns. We still have to sleep.

There is a print from Red Letter Words on my desk in the newsroom. I got it at Allume, last year. It says “Hope Waits,” with the scripture reference Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Easier said than done, right?

We are in a waiting mode in our lives right now. Michael and I are waiting on something big. I can’t elaborate, but it looks like we are in for some sort of life change, we just don’t know what kind yet. No, I am not pregnant. While we wait though, other big stuff is going on. Spin, spin, spin.

We worked together to move this blog from Blogger to WordPress. Hopefully you like the new design! I’m still working on a lot of little things, so please be patient. I’m working with an awesome book coach on my book proposal. It’s a lot of work, but it’s heart work, so it’s dear. I’m enjoying it.

Pray for us in the waiting, though, will you?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Maybe This is Restoration

It's 6:00 on a Saturday morning and it is quiet in our house. The leaves have grown to their fullest on the tree that stands tall behind the white fence in our tiny back yard.
Brokaw barks when the wind blows.
Michael sleeps with the foot of the bed raised.
And I sit on the edge of the couch on the heating pad, macbook pro on my lap, tapping away at the keys. And I need another cup of coffee, as always.

Hello, everyone. I miss you.
My world is busy. Too busy, really.

I have only been to the gym once in more than a month. I feel my wobbly bits growing and I'm not happy about that.
Last weekend, Michael and I didn't leave the house at all. My SUV sat parked in the driveway in the same exact spot from Friday morning until late Sunday night. We ordered a pizza and watched Steel Magnolias and went for a family walk and picked a magnolia. I had no idea how they open and close. That's weird.
The weekend was glorious and way too short. Sunday, I sacrificed church for writing and the muse came and it was good but I missed church.

I read on Facebook this week that Glennon Doyle Melton (a.k.a. Momastery) said that writing is like peeing. It sounds weird, but I can totally relate. Well, I guess I just haven't had to pee on the blog in a while. I've been spending a lot of time learning and preparing to write my book. It's an exciting process but wow does it take a lot of time and energy!

I'm processing some big thoughts about being a wife and being a caregiver and how what I really feel like I am something in between, and I have a feeling when I figure it out, you're going to love it, and I'm going to love it, but right now I'm just so tired and I feel empty and not like I have a lot to say.

I've enjoyed reading a lot lately, though. And here are some books I recommend:
Atlas Girl, by Emily Weirenga
Carry On, Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton
Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
Work Happy, What Great Bosses Know, by Jill Geisler
Perhaps my reading list is a glimpse into my confused soul?

Recently, our 12-cup coffeemaker died and we didn't replace it.
Last weekend, our blender died and this week I made smoothies in the KitchenAid mini-chopper.

Michael has a new home health aide and together they cleaned the downstairs, and I was equal-parts thankful and feeling guilty. The lawn needs mowing and my hair needs highlighting but I'm considering staying in denial on those two.

So much of what I thought life would look like by now isn't so. I realize this post sounds more melancholy than I actually feel, which is an example of how much my writing still needs to grow. Early this year, Michael and I prayed for a year of restoration. We hold tight to 1 Peter 5:10: "The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

As I type this verse, my heart opens.
Maybe this confusion I'm feeling is actually restoration?
Maybe this career drive, this all-the-sudden desire to lean back in at work, to hope for the future there, is restoration.

In that time of deep grief after we first got married, when I almost lost myself, so much changed. In some ways, I'm still just a shell of the girl I was before. But in some ways, I'm back.

Maybe this is restoration.
Maybe restoration is exhausting and confusing.
Maybe restoration takes faith.
I pray I'll know it when I see it, and that I won't miss it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What if We Traded in Our Wishes For Dreams?

Jill Phillips wrote a song called “Steel Bars.”
I love it. Look it up.

Sometimes I feel so imprisoned inside my own limitations.
Surrounded by my sin.
My discontent.
Not holy discontent.
Sinful discontent.
The kind that causes you to look around and wish for anything and everything that is not your current reality.

I wish I had her arms.
I wish my husband could mow the lawn.
I wish we could afford to go to that concert.
I wish I didn’t have to work.
I wish I could sleep at night.

At the end of each wish is a tastier, greener-grass, more-fulfilling, easier life.
The problem with all of those wishes, though?
They are lies.
Because if I had her arms, I’d want her arms.
And if my husband could mow the lawn, I’d wish he wouldn’t do something else.
And there are never enough concerts.
If I didn’t work, I’d wish I did.
Sleep is something I wish for when I’m exhausted, but something I wish away when I’m on a productive streak.

I’d rather dream than wish, anyway.
Because at least dreams are something I can work towards.
Dreams are possible.
Dreams are actionable.

We can take our dreams to our God and to our friends and to our husbands and mull them around. They can bend and stretch and sometimes die or become something else, but they’re moldable.

We can do something about dreams.

So today, I take my discontent and all my “why me’s” and my wishes to the cross.
Lay them down.
Trade those burden in.
For dreams.
And goals.
And possibility and grace and favor and ask God to partner with me in making change, instead of begging for a different life than the one He clearly has designed for me.

I’ll put one foot in front of the other.

Run towards God with my questions and my fears and my passions and dreams.

A couple of years ago, I was producing a TV interview with a presidential candidate and his wife and there was something she said that stopped me in my tracks. She was talking about a very difficult circumstance they had to face in their life and she said that she was able to move forward when she stopped asking God “why,” and started asking Him “what?”

I stopped the timer on my iPhone, which I was using to time the interview. I opened up my notes app and typed that in there.

I still use that lesson. I knew when I couldn’t sleep last night because of my sinful discontent that I was back in the weeds of the “why.”

It took some crying and complaining and kicking and screaming, but now I’m back at the “what?”

Let’s skip the why step, y’all.
It’s no fun, anyway.
Let’s dream instead of wish.
Pray instead of complain.
Set goals instead of waste time.

I think the easiest thing to do and the hardest thing to do is to decide to love where we are right now.
It’s easiest because the only thing that needs to change is us.

It’s hard because everything inside of us is telling us that we shouldn’t have to/don’t want to/don’t have to/it’s not fair/it’s not our fault/etc.

In the wise words of The Fray “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.
The thing is right in font of us.
Let’s love that.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Twenty Years Later

I was in high school on a summer mission trip when my life changed forever. In an instant I would forever become paralyzed. So it is weird this time of year when this date, June 16, pops up. 

For most anyone it's just another day. For any of us that morning in 1994, we didn't expect what would unfold. But everything stopped a moment when I landed face first on that mat. 

I'm forever grateful for the friends who got to work stabilizing me so I'd be safe until medics came. And for friends and family who stayed by my bed. For the church and school who chipped in when we needed help but really just got used to it all with me. For my surrogate family who helped with getting ready in the morning or in bed at night, meals, and errands. For my surprisingly normal life. 

I'm grateful for my wonderful wife who's shared the burden and opened up in a way that's given us opportunities to get to know so many new friends in our shoes. Who has helped me work through the most difficult days as we've traded who's strong for the other. 

They say it's important to commemorate these landmarks. June 16 will always be a day we remember because it redefined my life in so many ways. On this day I always remember the chorus of loved ones who have been faithful along the way. 

Thank you!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Brace-Myself Thursday

You guys are familiar with #tbt, right?
Throwback Thursday, they call it.

I call it brace-myself-Thursday.
It happens on Instagram and Facebook. People you haven't talked to in 20 years post pictures and tag you and when that little red flag comes up in the top right corner of the Facebook app on your phone, you die just a little, because you don't know... is this good or bad?

Will I momentarily be sending a message begging for an untag? Or will I wish I was still that thin?

I couldn't get a couple of pictures old high school friends posted last week off my mind.
I think when I look at these pictures, I'm barely recognizable.
But, I love them both.

Number one:
Okay, you guys.
Bear with me.
I believe this is 1994.
It appears we are having some sort of Valentine's Day party.
This is the JV and Varsity cheerleaders of Indian River High School, sitting on the floor of our coach's classroom.

I'm third from the left, in all my Freshman glory. In a vest and what I do believe may be a bodysuit. Unconfirmed that Chrischa, to my left (who I was undoubtedly sitting next to because she was wearing Pumas and was insanely cool and I looked up to her so much) is making that face because of my bodysuit.

A couple hours later, this #tbt picture surfaced:
This appears to be an Alpha banquet, where the new "Alpha Angels" are being initiated. If I remember correctly, this is actually Sophomore year. I'm on the end on the right, standing next to my best friend, Courtney.

Alpha was a community service club at school. We did nice things for people, and visited churches, and wore tinsel on our heads sometimes, and handed out candy at school. We were a club of the pretty, popular girls, with some normal girls sprinkled in there. We were tight.

I've looked back at these pictures several times over the last week, squinting to see the details. Thinking hard to remember that awkward girl with the dark hair.

I'm fascinated.
I think 20 years gets you just far enough away from that girl that it gives you eyes to see her from the outside.
Not from her perspective, but from the perspective of now.
I can't stop squinting.

I had a great high school experience, thanks in part to the girls and the experiences in these two pictures. By the skin of my teeth, I made it into both of these two groups. I would spend those two years feeling like I didn't quite belong, but thankful to be there. Like at any moment I would be publicly outed for not being as cool as everyone else.

But I got in, thank God. I never would have if I hadn't laid it on the line. If I hadn't tried out for cheering, and had to go out there and do my little routine a second time, because the scores were that tight.

If I hadn't sat through those Alpha interviews in the cafeteria, totally stressing out that I was running out of floral things to wear that weren't technically from the right stores, but were close.

I made it in because I was vulnerable enough to try.

A couple of years later, I got to be on the other side. Not saying I was ever the coolest girl in school. I definitely was not. But I ended up being head captain of the cheerleaders and Courtney was Alpha President, and I was her Veep, and like most Veeps, I did nothing.

And by then, it was all argyle and plaid, not florals. And we had plenty of the right clothes and didn't fear being found out.

I miss high school.
But, I don't miss the dark hair days of fear.
I miss the blonde days, when we were on top of the world.

The other thing these two pictures make me realize is how grateful I am that my mom pulled me aside on family vacation in between my Sophomore year and Junior year, and taught me how to rock a box of Clairol Hairpainting. Highlights equal confidence.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

On Deathless Love

I love Summer nights.
Summer in Hampton Roads is the best, because there is ALWAYS something going on.

This weekend it's Harborfest, in Downtown Norfolk. I've been going to Harborfest since I was a little girl. There's live music, vendors, all these cool ships come in from other places, fireworks, it's fun.

Michael and I went last night to see the band, The Hand and the Heart.

We also saw his cousin, Caitlin, who was passing through town. The weather was perfect, the crowd wasn't huge, and it was fun to be out and about on a Summer night.
After the concert and a couple of beers, we were feeling romantic, so we took a walk along the waterfront, and walked down to the Armed Forces Memorial. The memorial is made up of these iron-cast actual letters from soldiers and sailors at war, to people they love back home. The letters are from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War. I've read that they're going to add letters from the Iraq war and Afghanistan.

We walked around to the letters that were lit up in the night Summer sky. Michael read a few out loud. I read a couple out loud. It was moving. Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and I couldn't stop thinking about those brave boys, storming the beach that day. They were so young. SO brave.

This letter from the Civil War stuck out to me.
The soldier writes, "Sarah, my love for you is deathless."
At the bottom of the letter, you can see he died a week after he wrote this.
I bet she got this letter after he died.

"My love for you is deathless."

Michael's power wheels are somewhere getting fixed right now. We sent them off a few weeks ago. So, last night I had to push him around Harborfest. It wasn't a big deal. I like to think of it as a bonus workout.

Recently, we've dealt with a couple of health things and last weekend I let my worrying get out of control and I thought about how, one day, he's going to die.  Not anytime soon, y'all. Don't freak out. But one day we're all going to die.

You want to know how selfish my love is?
I don't want him to ever die!

I feel bad about that. Because of our faith, we believe that Michael will be completely healed in Heaven. He will be whole. Walking! And yet, my selfish love would rather have him here with me, paralyzed. Suffering. Waking up and facing this every single day.

I think that's kind of mean, and I usually cry if I think about it. I wonder if I'll get to a point one day that my love will grow to wanting Heaven and wholeness for him. I don't know.

For now, I'd rather stand behind him and hug his neck and kiss the top of his head and hug with the sides of our faces as we watch a band by the water on a Summer night.

That soldier wrote his love for his wife was "deathless," and as I pushed my husband around last night, reading those letters, I couldn't get that line out of my head.

I want to love like that.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Life Audit: On Finding Margin in the Middle

I'm sitting at Cafe Moka with a large Sumatra pour over, with an hour to burn before CrossFit.
I worked a 17-hour day yesterday, so I didn't go in today.

What I've learned over the last 12 hours: There is absolutely no replacement for sleeping in the dark. I've worked overnights for several years over my career. I have had awesome $40 memory foam eye masks, thick black curtains, ceiling fans, air purifiers that hum in the background, and two guys who snuggle up to me - one who frequently rubs my back, the other who snores really loudly, and even when you add all that up... you still don't get what it feels like to sleep in the actual dark.

It's amazing.

So, I feel pretty good!

I realized recently that I'm not doing enough of the things in my life that make me happy. Notice I said happy, not joyful.

As long as I have my priorities with God right, I can have joy.  Joy is great. But I prefer to be joyful AND happy. I guess I'm just a cheerleader like that.

Michael helped me make a list of the things that make me happy. They are:
1. Alone time
2. Shopping
3. Going to the beach
4. Writing/Reading
5. Traveling

He's helped me to make a conscious effort to make room for those things in my life.  It makes such a difference on my happiness scale!
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Nags Head for the weekend and I was completely spoiled by my mom. That was enough to last for a couple of weeks.

This week, I was stressing myself out, so I knew I had to take action.
Tuesday, I spent a little alone time at Starbucks. I caught up on bills. I listened to a podcast.
Then, I found out Michael had a quadriplegic mishap so I came home to a mess. BUT, because I was relaxed and happy, I was able to clean everything up and move on without making a scene. Win!

Wednesday, after work, I went to the beach for a few hours. It was awesome. I found out that you don't have to pay to park at the meters before 10am. Win! I think I've been having a bit of a "what in the world am I doing with my life?" crisis. It's not a quarter-life crisis, because I'm too young for that. It's not a mid-life crisis, because I'm too young for that. I think it's just a burnout crisis. Anyway. The beach helps.

Thursday was the 17-hour day, but it was a good day.

And now here I am at Moka.
This is good.

What I'm learning about myself is that I need margin in my life! I've read this a million times in leadership books, and I know about the sabbath and all that. Duh. I think what I've been doing wrong is I've been powering and pushing through the week and doing all of my rest on the weekend. It seems like budgeting a little bit of margin here and there within the week is what I need.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I've Counted Down To This

We have been SO BUSY lately. Good busy. The kind of busy that includes family in town, going out of town to visit family, planting flowers, going to the beach, working, working, working, cooking, cleaning, and vacuuming out vehicles.

It's all good stuff.
But there's a lot of it.

One of my favorite things about the way Michael and I match up is that we both need time at home, to just chill. It's how we reconnect with each other, and how we both recharge.

That's exactly what we are doing today, and I'm salivating over the thought of doing nothing, all day long.

Know what I mean?

Nowhere to go.
Nothing or no one to take anywhere.
Nothing to buy.
Or wash.
Or do.

It's an amazing feeling. It's Saturdays like this I know my friends who have kids, miss.
The 6:00am-all-you-hear-is-the-ceiling-fan-spinning.


I finally cleaned that ceiling fan, by the way.

Cheers, you guys. I miss connecting with you all. I'm praying once I have a second to sit still, I can be filled up, and have something worthwhile to say again.

For now, I will do nothing.
And I'm not sorry about that.
I kind of love it.

Wishing you a day of nothing, too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On Blooming

The thought of blooming is all over the place, if you read Christian women's stuff.
I get it.
It's the symbolism, right?

Something is planted.
Then, after a time, it comes to life.

It's a beautiful picture, really.
The imagery of it all.

The flowers are really pretty.
They're colorful, and they smell nice and they make people happy.

None of the "bloom" stuff comes with pictures of dirt, though, does it?
But those beautiful flowers, before they get to be beautiful flowers, they're just measly little seeds, buried in a bunch of dirt.

I feel like that, sometimes.
Like just a little seed.
Under the weight of a bunch of dirt.
I want to grow.
I have great desires to be tall and full of life and beautiful.
But I can hardly breathe under this dirt.

Do you ever feel that way?

I was thinking about blooming when I was writing this morning at Starbucks. I was thinking about how often times, I look around and I am so quick to be jealous.

I'll compare my seed-in-the-dirt to someone else's fully bloomed flowers. I think that's more beautiful than what I have.

I want a baby to take to a strawberry patch.
I want a house with a wrap-around porch.
I want to be an author and a speaker and a professional blog-conference-goer.

But, I'll spend another Mother's day getting a card from Brokaw.
In my condo.
And I'll work overnights in a TV newsroom.

It's okay, though. Because these dreams inside of me are seeds. They are being watered, and one day, they will bloom! There will be new life. New beauty. A sweet aroma.

I can feel it coming.
In January, as we looked ahead to 2014, Michael and I decided our theme for the year would be "Restoration."

"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
-1 Peter 5:10

It's happening.
The restoration.
I have a renewed desire to be alone with my God, to lean into what He's dreaming for my life.
To trust that He loves me just like He says he does.

Almost every Sunday in our church, at least one song has to do with the resurrection. New life. I love that.

I'll bloom one of these days.
For now, I'll drink the water and just get ready for it.

And you know what? I think that's a beautiful thing.

So friends, if you're here in the dirt with me, give yourself a little grace. We'll bloom. When it's time.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cooking is a Big Deal

For the last two weeks, I have not been cooking. I haven't made any meal plans. I haven't prepped anything. This is crazy to me, because part of the rhythm of my life for the past few years has been planning meals, chopping vegetables, cooking in batches, and portioning everything out into little plastic containers for myself and my husband.

But, y'all. I am now a weekend-only cook. It's crazy.

I love to cook. When we first got married, I dove right into learning how to bake and cook, and I loved it. I was making bread left and right. I liked to bake muffins on Saturday morning. Sundays, I would pre-chop the veggies we were going to use for the week. It was newlywed bliss.

Life got a little busier, and all of the baking made us a little bigger, so I adjusted.

I subscribed to a couple of meal-planning services like Fresh20 and eMeals, and it was fun buying the groceries and doing the busy work, without having to come up with dishes and sides.

Somewhere along the way, it stopped being really fun and started being a chore. It wasn't that I didn't love it, it was just that every waking moment I was in my house I was either taking care of someone or some plant or animal, chopping or cooking food, or cleaning the house. I lost my groove.

I fell asleep thinking about whether I thawed the meat I'd need when I woke up, so that I could double-cook on a Tuesday.

It was crazy.

It's better now.
And this is even crazier: I am not cooking!
(insert control freak panic attack here)
Michael and his home health aide are. And they are doing an amazing job.

At first, I didn't like the idea. I cooked up some crazy notion in my head that if they did it, that meant that I was a bad wife. Wives are supposed to cook for their husbands, you know. I drummed up thoughts that I was putting off my responsibilities or being lazy. Michael told me that was ridiculous.

He told me he enjoys it. And he does it with a sweet servant's heart. And it's so cute how proud he is of his dishes. I'm so grateful he has a willing aide who enjoys this kind of work.

The first week, I was a nervous wreck, trying to control everything from the internal temperature of chicken, to which container it was in. Insanity. I'm weird.

But last week, I gave in, gave up control, and just ate. And I ate good.

Taste and see that the Lord is good, y'all! He just provided for me out of nowhere. I feel blessed and loved and full and grateful. Because planning, prepping and cooking every single meal a family eats (even when it's just a family of two people) is no small deal. It's a big deal. It's a lot of work and it takes a lot of time.

I wonder what I'll be buying at the grocery store this week. I'm excited.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Only If You Let It: Thoughts on Life After Easter

Last Sunday was Easter. So this girl, who usually wears jeans to church, put on a dress.
My entire outfit was from StitchFix. I felt feminine and pretty and Springy and it was glorious.

We sang songs about Jesus raising from the dead, and I was reminded that THAT is what my life is built on, and THAT changes everything and dreams and hopes and redemption ARE possible because of THAT.

Enter the resurrected life, right?

Because the Friday and Saturday before Sunday were not great.

Sunday: I made soup and we snuggled and rested and I did not mow the jungle that is the back yard.
Monday: I left work ON TIME for pretty much the first time, ever and I went to the gym. This resulted in me not being able to move normally for the next four days, but it was a good sore and I was happy to have it.

I started reading Stephen King's book, On Writing, and discover I have things in common with Stephen King. Never would have guessed it but hey, I love active verbs, so that's that.

Tuesday: Didn't go as I planned.
Wednesday: Didn't go as I planned.
Thursday: Didn't go as I planned.

Friday: I left work later than I wanted, but I spent the afternoon with my dad. You guys remember, my dad almost died a couple of months ago, so the fact that we were sitting outside, and he was showing me how to till up a garden, is kind of a big deal. Three months in the hospital changes your perspective, but only if you let it.
So, my point is this:
This resurrected life, it's still not perfect.

We're going to have plans that don't pan out.
We're going to lose the battle to do the good and right thing, sometimes.
But Jesus rose from the dead, y'all! And that changes everything.
So, when we get down or swallowed up... it's okay... because He beat all that, and we get to, too.

But, much like perspective changes your outlook only if you let it, hope can change you, but only if you let it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Kryptonite

The more I talk to other wives who are in the position I'm in, the more I realize that the hardest thing about this life is having to have other people in your house to help your loved one.

We have been on such a roller-coaster this year with regard to home health aides. I can't even count the number of different people who have been in and out of our bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Some for just a day.

It's so unnatural to have someone else in your space. But it is necessary, or you just have to do it all yourself, and that's just not sustainable long-term. I've learned that.

But new people, working new or different hours, and taking on different things -- that's my kryptonite.

I've had a heck of a week with this.
At it's worst, it makes me not even want to be in my own home.
Like I don't belong there.

I know that sounds ridiculous. It looks ridiculous when I write it, but I seriously feel that way.

I don't like to be home when they're there. I feel uncomfortable. Like what am I supposed to be doing? I feel guilty. I feel lazy. I feel weird. So, I wait for an "all clear" text from my husband, then I come home.

What's been difficult about this week is that the roles have been muddy. I'm used to them taking care of his personal care needs and I'll take care of the cooking, for example. Well, we have to keep them around longer to give them more hours, so Michael is going to be taking on some of the cooking.

I should be thrilled about this, but here's the problem: they're here in the morning, but they can't come in the evening. So, I have to get him up in the evening. It's not a big deal. It takes like half an hour and doesn't involve much. The problem is, I have no clear role for myself and no clear expectation of the aide. Because they're helping with some of his personal care, and they're doing some cooking. And I'm doing some cooking and some of his personal care.

I feel lost.
Kryptonite got the best of me this week. That one thing won. I lost.
I don't want to go home, even when they're not there.

I don't know how this is going to get better. It's probably not. I'll just have to get used to it. Another new normal.

Want to know the craziest feeling I have? Jealousy. My favorite sin. That someone else gets five waking hours in my house. I'm pretty sure it takes me a few days to get that.

So much about this life isn't fair.
But this one thing really sucks.

What does make it better is space, and coffee, and chocolate, and writing about it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Thousand Lives

I read something from Emily P. Freeman recently where she says, "We live a thousand lives in one lifetime."

That resonated with me.
As I work on my memoir, and by 'work,' I mean 'think about, freak out and go on Pinterest instead,' I realize that's what I am doing.

I am living my thousand lives. I am going through my seasons, one step at a time. When I stop for long enough to look around, and I realize those seasons have changed, those are the moments I feel like life is passing me by.
There was a season I lived on a quiet street in Norfolk. I was under the age of six, and the neighborhood wasn't the scary scene that it is today. I used to bunch the pine needles up in rows in the back yard, and create 'rooms' and 'houses.' What a little architect! I used to make my brother go to 'his room.'

There was a season I'd ride my bike around the next neighborhood we lived in - down to the water, down by the 'big houses,' and I'd get away from whatever was bothering me in my 10 year old world. I'd listen to Huey Lewis on my pocket rocker.

There was the trying out for cheerleading season, the cheerleading season, then the time I realized as head captain my Senior year that I'd gotten distracted, and let my team down. I learned a hard lesson about humility and leadership.

There was the season I couldn't get enough of the Bible and I traveled around the East Coast with Youthquest, and we talked to teenagers about Jesus and life and we slept on air mattress in random peoples houses and wore overalls and rode in 15 passenger vans.

There was the season I was the 19 year old in the newsroom and I faked like I understood what 10 codes on a scanner meant and I went to bed thinking about how some of the reporters and producers I worked with did their thing, because I wanted to be that smart but I didn't just want to ask them how they did it.

There was the season of growth and realizing I was good at what I do, and being recognized for that, and rewarded for that, and rapidly moving up and around in the competitive world of broadcast news.

There was the season of boyfriend drama. My heart was broken a couple of weeks before Christmas, once. Another time, I broke a heart. I wondered if I'd be single forever.

There was the season of wondering about this guy in Texas and if this could really be a thing. Followed by the season of airplane tickets and Yahoo chats and life-planning conversations had outside satellite truck row at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

There was the season of wedding planning and dog walking and moving and honeymooning and realizing I was living my actual dream and not even knowing how to handle that.

There was the season of realizing I was a caregiver. Of grieving. Of comparing my life to everyone else around me and feeling alone. Then the season of opening up and becoming part of a community online of girls who get it.

There was the season of fighting. The season of traveling for work, that was an adventurous season.

Then the 'what's next?' started. There was the national television show, the management position, and the hard years we didn't see coming. That's where we are now. And I'm realizing, I'm very much still in the thick of these seasons. There are many to still be had. I wonder what they are. But I can't spend too much time obsessing over it, because I must live the season I'm in, right now.
Last night, I took Brokaw on a bike ride around our neighborhood and I thought about how I used to do that when I was a little girl. I would hurry through my dinner, so that I could get a quick bike ride in before the street lights came on - because it was the late 80s, and that was the threshold for safety and avoiding becoming a face on a milk carton.

It's good to get away even though you're not really getting away. You're very much still in your right now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

He is Home

He is home.
Michael spent eight days away with his family, on vacation. I didn't go, because I borrowed this year's vacation last year, when we went to Disney World with his family. It's never fun paying later for fun that's already spent.

When I got home from a day trip to Charlottesville for a work event, my husband was sitting in his office. He had already mopped the dirty floors and folded two loads of laundry. He was wearing a v-neck t-shirt, a worn-out pair of jeans, and flip flops and I wanted to jump his bones at first sight.

He offered me a back rub (I'm super spoiled, and that's a regular occurrence around here), but I declined because I wanted nothing more than to just snuggle up close to him. I was so happy waking up next to him this morning.

We skipped church and stayed home in sweatpants and pajamas and watched two episodes of Parenthood and ate a pitiful excuse for banana bread (I'm out of practice baking) and vanilla ice cream.

Now we're both pecking away at our MacBooks, Brokaw is twitching in his sleep, the dishwasher is running, the sun is shining through the windows and Rascal Flats plays on the radio in the background.

Home is home, and I am grateful.

We have a lot of things to worry about. The van is not working again. I should be shampooing the carpets because the cat apparently has a new hobby of peeing in my office. The weeds are growing in the back yard as I write this. (I can hear them growing.) But I don't care.

All I want is this. Snuggles and togetherness.

This house is empty without that man here. He enriches my life so much. I don't miss that long-distance relationship thing at all.

It's good to miss each other. Sometimes in the busyness of my routine, I crave a break. I have even wondered before if I can do this forever. It's awesome to miss him, it helps me to see how special what we have is, that it's totally worth it, and that this marriage thing that we're doing is totally working.

We are one. We are and us and a them, and when we're not together for more than a couple of days, something is missing.
When I was sick and had nothing to do, I organized my Pinterest boards (because, that's normal, right?) and I found this great list of ways you can pray for your husband. I enjoyed praying for Michael a little more than I usually do while he was away. It made me realize how much I need to grow in praying for him. I thought I'd share it. It links to the book, Praying God's Word For Your Husband, which I have glanced at before, but I haven't read yet.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Cold With Perfect Timing

I was sick this week.
It was really no fun. Fever, chills, body aches. I think it was a viral situation. Not in the YouTube sense, but in the no-reason-to-pay-a-copay sense, because a doctor will just tell you to get over it.

Sometimes, when Michael and I listen to Christian radio, we crack up because people call in and say things like "I'm so blessed because I got hit in the teeth with a softball and the Lord used it to teach me about perspective."

I think it's because we live our lives from a perspective of regular suffering and patience-building and character-building circumstances.
We smile at the people who are able to find joy in getting hit in the face with a softball.

At the risk of sounding like someone calling into K-Love, let me say this: I'm so glad I got sick this week. Because, while it's no fun to be sick alone, it's significantly less fun to be sick and have to take care of someone else.

I've talked before about my CFN degree. I used it this week to take care of myself. Brokaw made sure I had plenty of puggle snuggles.

I'm feeling better now. Can't wait to get back to the gym.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What a Dusty Ceiling Fan Taught me About Dreams

For the past few weeks, I have been reading Jennie Allen's book, "Restless." I heard Jennie speak at Allume, and her book was in the swag bag.

I thought I was going to write a book this year.

There's a plug in my brain, though. Nothing is flowing out. But, I've been ferociously reading. I can't get enough. It's like I just learned to read and it's new and it's all I want to do. It's been years since it's been like this.

So, I've been going with it. I figure if I have no wisdom to pour out, I might as well be filled up, right?

In Jennie's book, there are journaling exercises. I put pen to paper the other day, old school style, answering the questions in the book. I found myself crying. It was strange. I was sitting on my couch, with a cup of coffee, my book, my journal, my hand in minor pain because I'm not used to actually writing with a pen anymore, and it hurts.

And something poured out, y'all.

Jennie asks, "When you anticipate dreaming, what are you afraid of?"

I am most afraid of wanting something I can't have. When I want something, I get obsessed with it. I think about it first thing in the morning when I wake up, then I google it all day long, then I can't fall asleep because I'm thinking about it. This method of 'dreaming' has paid off for me in the past. I can think of a few specific examples: In college, I dreamed about working in a newsroom. I did it. I dreamed about working at the White House. I did it. I dreamed about falling in love with and marrying Michael. I did it. I dreamed about traveling and covering a presidential campaign. I did it. I dreamed about moving home, decorating this house. I did it.

Recently, though, my dreams have stopped. I think it's because I gave up on them. For a while, I dreamed of having a baby. It didn't happen. I've dreamed of being a writer. Y'all, I'm a reader. Those dreams have seemed so far out of reach, I don't allow myself to continue to dream.

I'm afraid of dreaming impossible dreams. I fool myself into thinking I'm content that my husband is well, my house is clean, I'm doing a good job at work. Oh, maybe I'll dream about making a difference there, that's what I'll do. I'll dream about CrossFit. Yeah, those are good, reachable dreams.
I don't want to be discontent. So I just don't admit that I am.

At this point, I realize I'm a poser when it comes to dreams. Embarrassing.

Jennie asks another question, "Do you feel discontent right now, and how does that discontentment tie into a desire for a purpose?"

Uh oh, y'all. I did not read ahead. I did not know her second question was totally going to hit me where it hurt. I make another k-cup, and proceed with caution.

I'm not sure if my discontentment ties into a purpose or any kind of desire. I think I'm too busy to notice. I do it to myself, all the time. Maybe so that I won't have to face my fear of dreaming? So I am discontent. Damn it!

I fill up my moments with responsibilities. That way, I don't feel bad about being focused on things like work, taking care of Michael, cooking, cleaning, because those are all good and necessary things to spend my time doing. But my days are completely filled up with responsibilities and I am too burned out to even think about dreams, desires, passion and purpose.

Then I stopped writing for a moment, because of the searing pain in my ring finger of my right hand, from the writing. My poor hand was trying so hard to keep up with my brain that is used to working with two typing fingers.


I glanced up at the ceiling fan over our dining room. It's always in motion. That is so me! I am that hardworking ceiling fan! I never stop. That's why I can't see my dust. That's why I don't even realize I'm discontent. I'm always spinning and I am doing my job, a good job, no one thinks to turn me off and so no one ever sees my dust, but oh is it there!

That ceiling fan has a few bulbs burned out. They've been burned out for months. I notice that it's darker. But when the fan is in motion, you can't see that it really needs to be dusted. The lights don't work when the bulbs are burned out, but the fan will keep working, no matter how dusty it is. I imagine, however, that at some point, dust will begin flying off the fan, and will dirty up the whole downstairs.

I should probably clean it at some point.
And, I should probably stop spinning.
And start dreaming again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Growth: An Update on My Dad

My dad went to see one of his doctors for a follow-up appointment last week.  They said they can't really explain it, but his lungs are healing.

I remember after one of the major setbacks my dad had when he was in the hospital, this doctor's face changed before my eyes. He looked into my eyes, and he looked like he was going to cry.

My heart was already broken, because I was afraid my dad was slipping away. But my heart broke for this doctor, I could see the fear and sadness in his face.

Incredibly, my dad pulled through. He's worked really hard and is now at home. He is on oxygen, and he is still gaining his physical strength back, but he is alive, and we are all so grateful.

When I went to hang out with him last Tuesday, I saw the sketch for this year's garden.
The garden is going to be a lot smaller this year. I told Dad I would love to come and help him plant it. I would love to learn about gardening. 

Last Summer, I loved getting the vegetables out of Dad's garden. This Summer, I'm glad to still be able to talk to him.

I think that's called growth. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I'm Reading

Michael left Friday for vacation with his family. I enjoyed the weekend of alone time, but as I prepare to start the week, I'm realizing how much I already miss him!

I will be sad when I go to bed alone this afternoon.

I work weird hours during the week. Overnights. Sometimes, on weekends, I just let my body wake and sleep when it wants.

I feel relaxed.
This is so weird.

I finished Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," this morning. Man, he is seriously smart. I had to read that book in chunks because he talks a lot about math, and I'm an American kid and a girl, so I'm obviously at a math disadvantage. It was an intriguing book.

Right now, I'm also reading Jennie Allen's "Restless," and journaling along with it. This book is good stuff. I can feel something inside of be that is about to burst. I think it's the beginning of allowing myself to dream again. I'm on the edge of my seat with what God wants to teach me through this book.

I read a Real Simple magazine pretty much cover-to-cover this morning, without falling asleep! I have always loved that magazine. I remember buying it when I was in my 20s, with the last $5 I had to spend, haha! Now, we have Pinterest, so simple, beautiful photos are all over the place. Remember when Real Simple was the only thing like that? They are so smart. Reading that magazine feels like touching Pinterest with my own two hands.

I'm re-reading "Elements of Journalism" right now. This book goes through the core principals of my profession. It's good to be reminded of the beauty of digging for the truth. This book cuts through the chaos of media life, and reminds me of the real, raw purpose of what I do. It inspires me every time.

Are y'all reading anything that inspires you? What?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Real Friends Make Life Better

Saturday night we had dinner with friends. They are old friends of mine.

I had a great time.
I love old friends.
I like new friends too, don’t hear me wrong.

But old friends are so great, because you don’t have to impress them. You don’t have to talk about the weather.

You can straight-out tell them what you’re having a hard time with. You aren’t trying to impress them. You can talk with gelato in your mouth.

You can laugh about things at the dinner table that new friends would never talk about, out loud.

I was honored to spend time with these friends Saturday night. We see each other in email inboxes and text messages and social media all the time, but nothing is better than an in-person laugh, a hug, and an “I love you,” on a Town Center street corner before you part ways.
I need my friends.

Sometimes I forget this. What, in my independence, and lists and workaholism, and all.

The truth is, I think it was easier to make real friends when I was younger. When we were in school or in church together. When we weren't bogged down with our own responsibilities. 
It's harder as an adult, to justify the time spent with a friend. I don't know if you're like me, but I make time for work, for church, for taking care of my home, even for the gym.

But I let time with friends get the boot too easily, and too often.

It's only when I experience that life and laughter together that I remember, oh yeah... I do like people. It is worth making plans and getting ready and spending money on dinner.

Real friends make life better.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stress, Happiness and Pharrell

I'm one cup of coffee into this Sunday morning and I'm thinking back on yesterday, and all of its glory and how it ended in heartbreak.

I like to process and it's a lot to process and my neck is tense and Michael is still asleep and Brokaw is snout snoring beside me, and I can feel it getting colder outside by the moment and I hate that.

I write run-on sentences before my second cup of coffee, just so you know. Standby for rambling.

The clock just crossed one minute over the church threshold. You know the church threshold, right? Like two minutes ago, it would have been possible to run around here like a tasmanian devil, get my husband up and dressed, throw him in his wheelchair, then in the van, swallow a bite of breakfast, and speed to church.

But now it's 8:02 a.m., and we are going to the 11:00 a.m. service.

So, I can breathe. Fire up the Keurig for another cup, and exhale here in this place, my little chunk of the internet.

Let's talk about yesterday.

It started as a bit of a struggle. I wish I skipped down the street singing Pharrell's "Happy." Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I don't. Almost always the thing that stops me is stress.

I'm horrible at letting stress run my life. Boundaries are a joke in my world. This must change. Will you pray for me as I sincerely try to let go of some things, lean into my faith, and trust God? That I will once and for all know and live in this idea of joy that is not ruined by circumstances? That what I know in my heart about being set free will float up to my brain and cut off the blood flow to that part of my brain that is constantly timing things, scheduling things, double checking things and thinking that it's totally possible for me to be in two or three places at once?

The madness needs to stop.
I know it's on me. I am the author of the madness. 
I know I also have access to THE author of my life and the universe, and I need to calm it down and stop trying to run the world.

I don't have time to run the world. 

I'm considering playing this video first thing every morning when I'm getting Michael up, and forcing myself to be happy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Michael's latest devotional post

Comfort in the Midst of Chaos: The Breath of Life: Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a livin...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

On Winter and Spring

Shout out to my writing group friends. 
I have a confession, y'all.

It will not be a surprise for those of you who are regulars around these parts.
I am burned out and uninspired.
I need a new spark.

Since just before Christmas, I've been in this place where I barely have anything to say. I can barely even think. I just think and write the same thing over and over.

You know why?
Because I'm hiding something.

I don't like to be a Debbie-downer.
I was the captain of the cheerleaders in high school, y'all.

But here's the deal.
It's getting better now - but it was rough.

One of the main things I like to do with this blog is to reach out to other wives/girlfriends of guys in wheelchairs, because I want you to know you're not alone. I want you to know that I am here, too. That I warrior on with you and beside you.

I think of all of you other wheelchair-pushers out there. All of you husband-transferers. All of you bread-winning, dinner-cooking, hard-working, list-making, allen-wrench rocking, van-driving, ramp checkers. I know you are with me. I know I am not alone.

And yet, I let myself feel that way.
It got dark.

There was the pressure sore.
And the UTIs.
And the broken wheelchair.
And the broken van.
And the home health aides that disappeared.

I was on duty full-time for about two months.
The same two months my dad was fighting for his life.
I remember saying to my husband when my dad went into the hospital, "The less I have to worry about you during this time, the better."

Boy, did things not work out the easy way.

It was Groundhog day.
Caregiving and working and cooking grocery shopping and cleaning and visiting my dad in the hospital. Over and over and over and over.

And I got so over it, I wondered (again) if I can do this forever. I cried many tears. I got madder at Michael that ever before and I said ugly things.

There are some of you sitting in my inbox that I haven't ever written back. You e-mailed me because you found this blog, and you are newly in love with a quadriplegic and you want to ask me questions about what life is like and what sex is like and how to have good wedding pictures with a wheelchair.

And all I wanted to do is to tell you to politely run away.

That if you don't, you'll be stressed out, strung out from sleepless nights filled with turning him in bed, and getting pills and cleaning up accidents and stretching the bank account, and maxing out credit cards so that you can get your van fixed. That you'll miss out on things because you can't get in. That your back will hurt all the time. That you'll miss your old life. That you'll wonder why you signed up for this in the first place. That you'll feel like no one in your life understands, even him. That you'll always feel like the things that have to do with you don't matter, because how can you not put him first?

I didn't write you back and I didn't say all of that because I know that there are seasons with this life.
Where I've been - that's Winter.

Where I am now, sitting across from him at a random Starbucks while he works on his web project, and I prop my feet up on his wheelchair, writing this blog post, this is Spring.

We have a reliable home health aide again.
My dad is doing better.
We got the van fixed.
The wheelchair has new tires, still has issues, but he's working on getting it fixed.
We have a plan for the pressure sore.
Three trips around the antibiotic sun, and I think the UTI is at bay.
Our budget is back to normal.
I feel like I belong in my own house, and in my own bed, pretty much.

We aren't fighting.
I can look at him on the other side of these two MacBook Pros, and see that guy I fell in love with.
I know I can do this.
I want to.
It IS worth fighting for.

And, so I will write you back.
I will tell you about the seasons, though. Because you'll definitely need to know about that. So you don't give up, just because it's Winter, and then miss Spring and Summer.

This post was a project for my little writing group. We are a group of women who are working together on our craft. This time, we chose a topic to all write about, and link up, so please check their posts out, and share!

Winter vs Spring Story by Laura Oliver

Winter Blues by Brayden Emerick

The Endless Winter by Stacey Michalak

The Spring of My Content by Stephanie Cooke

Seasons of Weight by Lauren Hope

Saturday, February 22, 2014

After the Storm

I spotted a ladybug on the van, after paying an astronomical amount of money to get it fixed. 
I'm kind of afraid to say this, but life feels like it's getting back into a normal groove. I feel like myself. I feel genuinely happy.

Last weekend, I cleaned my whole house. I cleaned the carpet in our bedroom. I even vacuumed out my car. I paid all the bills.

I cooked all week. I went to the gym twice. We got the van back. (We're not going to talk about how much it cost to fix, I'm still recovering from that panic attack.) I didn't leave work Friday with a giant list of things that I haven't done yet.

I still worked too much. I still didn't sleep enough. I still ate three brownies and a donut. Oh, and I had my first Shamrock shake, which I really shouldn't have. It felt like an Eve in-the-garden moment. Now, I have the evil knowledge. I was definitely better off when I didn't know what that tasted like.

But - I feel like we're getting there.
Storm clouds out my dad's hospital room, yesterday. He's doing better, by the way.
It was 70 something degrees yesterday, before the storms rolled in. And even though it was cooler after the storms, the sun came back out.

So, maybe that's where I am now. The sun is coming back up. It's not as it was before these storms, it's different.

But the blue skies are peeking through, and you can feel Spring coming.

I'll take it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Different Kind of Valentine's Day Celebration

You know, the thing about Valentine's Day is that it changes.

It's always on February 14th. But the shape it takes in a relationship changes. If you've been married, or in a long-term relationship, you probably know what I mean.

I have a core value that is this: If it feels forced, it's probably not what you should be doing.

I could have gotten Michael a card and a bottle of wine. He could have rolled up to Kroger and gotten me roses and chocolate.
But - we didn't.

And you know what? It's totally okay. All we wanted was rest, together. And we got it. I just woke up after sleeping for 12 hours.

Life since last Summer has been one heavy challenge after another. Life has tried to tear our love apart and tear our teamwork down.

But we stand. Strong enough that all we need is a text message to mark the holiday about love. This morning, I looked back through previous Valentine's Day posts and I love each of them. This year, we'll celebrate five years of marriage. And already, you can see our seasons through those posts.

Our rule for Valentine's Day is homemade gifts only. So I guess the wine and chocolate I mentioned above wouldn't have worked anyway. When Michael asked me to marry him, he posed the question, "Will you spend the rest of your life making memories with me?"

My answer: yes.
So - this Valentine's Day, that's what we do. Homemade valentines. We make memories.

Previous V-Day posts:

The One with the Update on my Dad

You can tell I've been back at work, because I haven't written a word in a week.

Well, that's not true. I've written news scripts and e-mails. But every time I go to work, the blog dies a little.

Anyway. We received the news about my dad not long after I wrote that post at the Starbucks last Saturday. He has irreversible lung disease. The scarring that has already happened won't heal, but they can treat him to slow it down and the goal is to get him home. He's made awesome progress in the last week. He graduated to a regular oxygen cannula. Yesterday when I visited him, he sat up in a chair beside the bed for more than an hour, soaking up the sunshine.

My brother will be home Monday. I know my dad is looking forward to seeing him, and has worked hard to get stronger for Chris.

This roller coaster is intense. I'm glad for every moment we have left together. No matter how long that is.

Last week, when I was crying and writing at the Starbucks, I saw this little girl and her dad.
I wanted to grab her little hands, hold them tight - and tell her to stay as close to her dad as she can. Love him, lean in to him, learn from him, and be friends.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hope Floats Up In The In-Between

Over the Summer, I read Jeff Goins' The In-Between. Great book. Get it.

The In-Between is right where we are right now. My dad survived a risky lung biopsy on Thursday. He came back off the ventilator yesterday.

Now, we wait.
Until Monday, at least, that's what we are thinking.

That's when the pathology results are expected. So that we can know what it is that appears to be quickly destroying his lungs.

It's hard to think about anything else. It's hard to stop googling and reading medical journals and studies.
That's because we are in-between.

Jeff writes, "There are no throwaway moments - not when it's easy, not when it's hard, not when it's boring, not when you're waiting for something to happen. Throw those moments away and you will look back someday, bereft at what you missed, because it's the good stuff, the best stuff. It's all there is."

So, we wait.
My dad's room in the ICU is filled with laughter and memories the past couple of days. For now, that seems better than quiet and beeps, so I'll take it.

Each moment of it.
As I brace myself for what is next - whatever that may be.

My sweet, giving mother-in-law is in town, taking care of Michael and baking cookies and taking Brokaw for walks.

I've been able to enjoy time with my sister and my brother's girlfriend and my sweet baby nephew, Caplin.

I've had deep, tearful phone conversations with my mom.

All in the in-between.

Meanwhile, the amaryllis my mom gave us for Christmas is like two feet tall, and the pound of coffee I bought my dad for Christmas sits in the cabinet.

And when I have a moment to sit and think and pray, I'm blessed with verses and book quotes and movie quotes that pop in to my head.

I love this one right now, too - from Hope Floats:

"Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Holding Hands and Holding On

It's dark in the living room right now. Brokaw is sleeping beside me. Michael is still sleeping in the bedroom. I'm up by the light of the competition on the television, having a cup of coffee and half of a cannoli.

The fog is back.

I spent yesterday at the hospital. We got no good news from the doctors about my dad. The tall Indian doctor leaned over his bedside, looked into my stepmom's eyes and said - loudly and clearly - to make sure she understood - that things are very serious. He said they were "running out of options."

I sat in that hospital chair that reclines, off to the side. My sister's mom held my hand that I had crossed across my body, and squeezed it. I couldn't stop the soft, slow, warm tears.

Not long after that, my stepmom and my bonus mom went to lunch. And it was just me and Dad. It's so dark and quiet and calm in his room in the ICU when no one is in there. There are predictable sounds. The ventilator going up and down, the occasional beep. The wheels of carts being rolled by, just outside the door.

I sat there, holding his warm hand, with one hand.
He had a tight grip that pulsed - like a muscle spasm.

With my other hand, I texted my brother and sister all of the information I was able to absorb from the doctor. I copied and pasted my updates in another text - to my husband.

What's happening is so hard to understand. He was doing better, it appeared. He was sitting up beside the bed. Yesterday, he was supposed to have a swallow test. Now, here we are.

The doctor mentioned, kind of off-hand to us that Dad is his most stable patient right now. That slammed me up against the wall. I cannot imagine having that kind of stress in my life! Since he said that, I have not stopped praying for that man!

Thank you for your prayers and support and your offers to help in any way that you can.
Know this: There is peace. There is quiet. There is calm. There is strength among the women of this family who sometimes have nothing in common - except for the love they had or have or will always have for my dad.

I want him to pull through.
I'm not giving up, yet.
I'll head back up there today, and grab a hold of his hand again, and squeeze.