All that We Let In

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Winter seems to have started early this year. Some years we can squeeze in some warmish days even in November, but not this year. By the end of October, snow began to slip down from the sky now and then and by the time November started, it wasn’t melting away between snowfalls. Today as I look out my sunroom window, the field is covered with snow with just a few clumps of dirt poking through. The sky is gray, the trees are a darker gray, the snow is white. Gray and white are the only colors of this day.

A friend of mine who has always lived in Minnesota was wondering in a Facebook post why in the world he still lives here. His tone was weary and any of us who live here can understand it. It takes a certain amount of tenacity to live here. One has to be able to find the good in this long, cold season it and that is hard for those who don’t like ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, sledding, etc. Personally, I’m not a fan of any of those things either – but this year my younger son and I have committed to trying snowshoeing. Maybe that will be our ticket to getting outside a bit more this year.

This is only my third winter back in Minnesota. I was away for 16 years – western New York (where the winters were worse than here), Colorado (where winters were about perfect – snow but also a lot of sunshine), and Texas (where it could easily be in the 80’s on Christmas Day). Each year as the “snow birds” in my congregation leave to head south for the winter, I wonder if I’m going to get to the point someday where I just can’t stand the winters and I decide to move away because of them. Admittedly, when we moved to Texas, part of the seduction was that when we went to interview at the church it was February and while we were still wearing winter coats in Colorado, the grass was green and flowers were beginning to bloom in Texas. It was nice to have five years of warm and hot weather, even though the summers were tough to take. There was no way to enjoy being outside on a summer day until after the sun went down, and it seemed sad to me that the months my kids were out of school, it was nearly impossible to be outside. The boys couldn’t run around barefoot in our yard because of the fire ants. Rattlesnakes were always a possibility. However, being able to be outside in short sleeves in January now and then was pretty wonderful. After a few years there, I was surprised that I got to a point where I longed for a good blizzard. I didn’t think it could be possible, but I eventually missed winter. I missed a good ‘snow day.’ I never missed driving on icy roads, but I missed winter.

I missed the great diversity of seasons that Minnesota has in abundance: bundling up and heading outside when snow is falling in fat, wet snowflakes, the first Spring days when the sun is just beginning to gather her strength again and people eagerly strip off the long layers to soak in as much Vitamin D as possible, summer days by the lakeshore when everyone is outside and lingering in conversation, the onset of crisp Autumn and the leaves so colorful it takes your breath away.  It’s all these times and seasons and the moments in-between that make Minnesota fine by me. Each of these seasons strike up memories for me because they are the same seasons I shared with my parents and friends when I was growing up. People who grew up other places don’t understand it the way we do – how the snow can squeak and the air sounds tinny when it gets cold enough, how your heart aches to watch a perfect summer day come to an end because you know how precious those days are, how there is no smell as sweet and good as peonies and lilacs on a May morning, and the immensely bittersweet days of an “Indian Summer” in October. I wanted my kids to understand this language, the difficulty and beauty of living in a place like this.

There are pluses and minuses to wherever you go. While I lived in Colorado and New York and Texas, whenever I vacationed, I came back to Minnesota, because this was where my parents were. Now that I live in Minnesota, I can vacation anywhere I want – I see more different places now. Since we moved back here we have traveled to Norway a couple times, the Black Hills, Montana, and I get to see my friends so much more often. I like that. I can plan things with my brother and his family who live only 45 minutes away and if the plans fall through it is no big deal because I will be able to see them again soon. It isn’t like a yearly trip back when everything hinges on being able to cram as many visits with as many loved ones into the few days I am back.

I’m glad my home is here now, but I am also glad I lived away for a while. I needed to do that. I needed to know that I could go away and create a life for myself elsewhere, experience other places, really get to know the culture of other locations. That was important to me. I’m glad my kids have lived somewhere else – but I’m thankful we could come back. I’m thankful my parents’ graves are only an hour away and I can go visit them and the place I grew up anytime I want. I’m glad my kids have a connection to my past and to my husband’s past by living in the state where we grew up. However, because they weren’t born here, they know they don’t always have to stay. They know I might not always stay. I tell them that we are here for now and that I hope it will be a good long while. I would like them to not move again until after high school. I would like them to have the sense that they have roots somewhere. I would like to invest in this church for a good long time and see what we can build together by the grace of God. But I’m open to that someday I might be called away. The Spirit is always at work and I want to be open to the motion of that Spirit, but for now, I’m so glad to call this cold, snowy place ‘home’.

I’m committed to taking these winter days one at a time. They can’t be rushed, and while sometimes it might seem difficult to find something to savor in them, I’m interested in trying. We bake cookies and bread, I spend more time writing, I remind myself that Spring will come but now is the time to be in winter, I give thanks for my warm home and that I have a commute of 200 paces up to the church.  I keep an eye on the weather and try to be out and about when it looks like the roads will be dry. One of my favorite things is how during the dead of winter when there has been a series of snowy, icy days, the first day that the roads are dry – no matter how bitter cold it is – people come flooding out of their houses again. The stores are full, the restaurants and churches are full – everyone gets out while they can to see other people and see some different scenery before the next snowstorm hits. There is a certain sense of camaraderie about it.

Wherever you go, there you are. There is so much to love about each place.

In Colorado, I climbed mountains on my day off. The sky was brilliantly blue most days and it was hardly ever below zero degrees. The spirit of the people there was so free and I felt at home there. Most everyone I knew there had transplanted there from somewhere else. It was easy to find a community in a place where everyone was searching for community.

In Texas, the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush and all the wildflowers of the Spring were indescribably gorgeous. I could go running outside any day of the year and it was never too cold, and in the summers I just had to wait until the sun went down and the temperature was tamed a bit. There is no other place I have lived that was so wild, proud, and different from where I grew up.

Western New York was green and the air was thick like soup in the summertime. I drove up to Toronto all the time, I smoked one million cigarettes. The people were hip and interesting. They were also hearty people who all knew how to drive in extreme winter. They had a biting sense of humor I didn’t understand.

I have called all these places home and I was glad to do it while I did. I’m so grateful for all that came to my life because of those places and the people I met there. And it is good to call this winter place home again.

 

All that We Let In

By the Indigo Girls

Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin
But we’re better off for all that we let in

Lost friends and loved ones much too young
So much promises and work left undone
When all that guards us is a single centerline
And the brutal crossing over when it’s time

Oooooooo
(I don’t know where it all begins)
Oooooooo
(And I don’t know where it all will end)
Oooooooo
(We’re better off for all that we let in)

One day those toughies will be withered up and bent
The father son the holy warriors and the president
With glory days of put up dukes for all the world to see
Beaten into submission in the name of the free

We’re in a nevolution I have heard it said
Everyone’s so busy now but do we move ahead
The planets hurting and atoms splitting
And a sweater for your love you sit there knitting

Oooooooo
(I don’t know where it all begins)
Oooooooo
(And I don’t know where it all will end)
Oooooooo
(We’re better off for all that we let in)

See those crosses on the side of the road
Tied with ribbons in the medium
They make me grateful I can go this far
Lay me down and never wake me up again

Kat writes a poem and she sticks it on my truck
We don’t believe in war and we don’t believe in luck
The birds were calling to her what were they saying
As the gate blew open the tops of the trees were swaying

I’ve passed the cemetery walk my dog down there
I read the names in stone and say a silent prayer
When I get home you’re cooking supper on the stove
And the greatest gift of life is to know love

Oooooooo
(I don’t know where it all begins)
Oooooooo
(And I don’t know where it all will end)
Oooooooo
(We’re better off for all that we let in)

 

 

 

Twist of Fate

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Stranger Things 2 was such a glorious television-watching experience that I find myself still thinking about it quite a bit in the days since I finished binge-watching all 9 episodes. The storyline was engaging, even gripping, but one of the parts I enjoyed the most was the soundtrack. It was pure 80’s gloriousness. I loved how they used Scorpion’s, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” to introduce Billy’s character, and the “Snow Ball” at the end was filled with delicious musical flashbacks for any kid who grew up in the 80’s. One of those songs was “Twist of Fate” by Olivia Newton John, a favorite when it came out in 1983 on the soundtrack of the movie, “Two of a Kind.” Olivia Newton John was the coolest as far as I was concerned – she was beautiful, thin, had a gorgeous voice, and she got to kiss John Travolta. What more could anyone want? Thank you, Stranger Things, for reminding me of some great music this season and in the last one as well. You have inspired some fun additions to my morning running playlist.

Plus, watching a show that takes place in the 80’s when I am now in my forties gave me much to think about. I know who the Steve, the Jonathan, the Billy were in my high school. I would have had a crush on all three at different times – but mostly Jonathan. Me? I was not the Nancy, I was the Barb. I think Barb would have probably turned out pretty cool when she grew up if she hadn’t been killed by the Monster from the Upside Down.

As I was scouring through Spotify looking for some more 80’s goodness, there was no shortage of top-40 hits to choose from. Yesterday as I was driving across the snowy Minnesota roads, I listened to Laura Branigan, Heart, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bonnie Tyler, Sheena Easton, and the Go-Gos. It was the soundtrack of my youth and brought back countless memories of listening to my clock radio and record player/tape deck at all hours, plus watching “Solid Gold” and waiting with anticipation to see the Solid Gold dancers count down the top hits of the week.

I was ten years old in 1980, so the 80’s was a formative decade for me. Looking back, I wonder if it was a scary time to be the mother of a daughter who was coming of age. There was so much big hair, shoulder pads, heavy make-up, and women who seemed to believe the only way they belonged on stage was by pouting their lips and giving a seductive backward glance. Or, perhaps more appropriately, this is how they were told they had to perform in order to keep their record deal? Either way, these were my role models growing up. The bigger I could get my hair, the better. The more blue and sparkly eye-shadow, the better. The make-up and the hair was easy. The hard part was figuring out how to appear sexy-cool like Madonna and Cher and not feel absolutely preposterous in the process. I never did figure that out.

When my musical tastes for me and for many shifted in the 90’s, it brought me joy that I could see myself more easily in some of my favorite singers. I was exposed to a wider variety of music than just what played on the radio stations in rural Minnesota and started going to concerts. I reveled in the Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Shawn Colvin, Kristen Hall, Alanis Morissette, and it was a joyful relief to see that none of them felt like they had to crawl on all fours across a stage or lick their lips seductively in music videos in order to get anyone’s attention. They wrote music and they sang heartfelt songs, wearing actual clothes, with hair that was not shellacked into place. The music was meaningful, too – about everything: rage, creativity, love, peace, solitude – a whole beautiful range of emotion. It was so contrary to the top-40 music I heard from women when I was growing up which was usually about love, sex, or a break-up. I don’t blame the female artists for this. I have no doubt the range of their music would have been much broader if it were up to them instead of being told they had to act and sing a certain way in order to be marketable.

Music became a means of communicating with other people as time went by. I began to understand others through the music they listened to and the importance they placed on music. Especially with men, music became the thing I had in common with them. I might be painfully awkward and shy and never know what to say when a cute boy was around – but if the topic turned to music, I was fine.  I knew who Bob Mould, Trip Shakespeare, and Run Westy Run were. I knew all their songs, had all their albums, and could hold my own in any conversation about them and their music. If you wanted to talk about Van Halen, the Billys or the Gear Daddies, I was your girl.  When other girls were largely uninterested in attending the Hole concert or standing in line at First Ave, or sifting through CD’s at Cheapo, I was interested and ready to go. I dated a few musicians and had a crush on absolutely scads of them. I could make a killer mix-tape, absolutely kick-ass mix tape! It still makes me sad that this is now a completely lost art.

After hanging around with enough guys who were music snobs, I became sufficiently snobbish about music as well. For my wedding dance I hand-crafted a playlist for the DJ and he was not to take any detours from that playlist. Apparently, I didn’t make this point emphatically enough because I was horrified when he started taking requests and “Boot-Scoot Boogie”, songs from the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar, and other unacceptable songs were polluting the air. It is my only bad memory from an otherwise altogether lovely wedding weekend.

I’m still a little snobbish when it comes to music. I like what I like. It’s the same way I am with clothing – I can’t really explain why I do or don’t like an article of clothing except that it has to feel good and look good and the fabric has to hang a certain way. With music, my playlists range from the saddest, softest folk tunes to Nine Inch Nails. I can’t explain why I like what I like except for I like the way it falls on my ears and makes me feel or remember.

These days, I don’t listen to hardly any Top-40 music except when my boys are in the car and they want to control the radio dial. Every now and then we have a song that we all like, but most of the time the music they choose is some horrid rap thing or inexplicable Taio Cruz-sort of music. I don’t like or understand it and it has become the surest sign to me that I am getting older. I’m sure the way I feel about their music is exactly the way my mom and dad used to feel when I would turn up my cassette player and listen to Prince and Sheila E. super loud.

Every generation is shaped by their music, aren’t they? My mom loved Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. She remained a steadfast fan her whole life. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Cure, the Smiths, the Pixies and the long summers and college friends they represent. Whenever I listen to Bon Jovi, I’ll think of the night I was first kissed by a lakeside campfire in northern Minnesota. Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett recalls for me the day in 1977 my dad told us he was going to leave us, and I was heartbroken, yet secretly glad at the same time – but then he never did leave. The Tragically Hip and Amanda Marshall were the soundtrack for the years I was a new pastor in New York, weathering long winters, driving by the light of the Marlboro in my hand, and my last months of being single. When I was pregnant with my sons, I played the Samples and the Killers on high volume with the hopes that my boys would listen in utero and grow an affection for them as well.

Thank God for music. Seriously. My youngest son says he wants to be a musician when he gets older. While other parents might cringe at the possibility that their child is going to pursue an unpredictable, unstable life in the arts, I just smile and tell him, “You do that, son.” Make music. Create. Because every time you listen to the Muse and form something out of nothing, you shift the world a little bit – for yourself and for others.

olivia

Twist of Fate

Recorded by Olivia Newton-John

Do we deserve a second chance
How did we fall into this circumstance
We weren’t so straight and narrow
This is much more than we deserve

A higher voice has called the tune
Two hearts that lost the beat will now resume
The gift of life extension
By divine intervention

It’s gotta be a strange twist of fate
Telling me that Heaven can wait
Telling me to get it right this time
Life doesn’t mean a thing
Without the love you bring
Love is what we’ve found
The second time around

Don’t understand what’s going on
Woke up this morning all the hurt was gone
This is a new beginning
I’m back in the land of the living

It’s gotta be a strange twist of fate
Telling me that Heaven can wait
Telling me to get it right this time
Life doesn’t mean a thing
Without the love you bring
Love is what we’ve found
The second time around

Iowa

Reflections on Shuffle Play

Twenty-one years ago today, I left an internship at a church in Wyoming. I was supposed to be there for a whole year but ended up being there two months. It had been the perfect storm of me needing affirmation in the gifts I had for ministry, but receiving instead daily verbal abuse and experiencing indescribable loneliness. I have never felt more like a failure than I did the day as I drove away from that church and that experience.

I didn’t think I would return to seminary or to the path leading me to ordained ministry. I truly believed I was out for good, unfit to serve God as a pastor. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but it was apparently going to be something else. Bridge burned. Over. I didn’t say goodbye to a soul. I didn’t even go back to my office to pick up my books – I just started driving East and vowed to never return to that sorry town.

But then, a few months later, after a whole lot of beer and prayer, I did go back to seminary and went on to complete another internship and now I have been a pastor for 18 years and a few months.

This afternoon I had lunch with a friend who is in the midst of seminary and just found out she is leaving her internship church – an extremely unhealthy church. Unlike me, she is going about her ending differently, better: she told the bishop about all that she was going through, she got help, and the bishop is getting her out of there and into a different, hopefully healthier church. She was able to ask for help and I’m so proud of her for that.

I wish I had known how to ask for help twenty-one years ago. Instead, I drowned in the shame that I hated where I was and I hated how my supervisor was speaking to me. I blamed myself. I believed fully that if I were just better/stronger/more outgoing/prettier/thinner/etc. that my supervisor would be a nice person and I wouldn’t feel like I was going to die every time I drove up to that church. I did talk to my seminary about how hard things were, but when they did nothing to help, I wish I would have demanded they listen to me, demanded they help or get me out of there. Instead, I tried for two months to suck it up and tough it out until I realized the survival of something deep within me was at stake.  I packed up my truck in the dead of night and drove away. I smoked ten thousand cigarettes and cried an ocean. I said, “I’m sorry, God” on repeat until I crossed the Wyoming/South Dakota border. I was crushed by my sadness and shame. Even when I finally did go back to seminary, I slunk around the halls trying to take up as little space as possible. I felt called to be back there, but I also wished I could just be invisible. I didn’t want to talk about what had happened. I saw the entire situation as such a personal failure of mine that I would often lie and make up some story about how the internship supervisor had left and so my internship just ended early. It was only when I began to tell the truth about what happened that I began to heal, and I began to see the event with clarity.

It’s so long ago now, and I hardly ever think of it except for when I talk with someone else who is having a hard time maneuvering through some hurdle of life. I listen to how they are handling it and I think about that autumn in Wyoming.

I hadn’t known how to demand help. That is not surprising. I was raised to not make a fuss, to deal with problems quietly, secretly even. It’s like Dar Williams sings in her song, “Iowa:”

“But way back where I come from,
We never mean to bother,
We don’t like to make our passions other people’s concern,
And we walk in the world of safe people,
And at night we walk into our houses and burn.”

I never knew anyone who actually spoke about their negative feelings – rather, I watched people bottle up emotions until they exploded in anger, tears, or were submerged in alcohol. Problems weren’t tackled, rather they were a sign of failure and a source of shame. The only solution was silence and secrecy.

I’m not sure where that comes from but it is common among those with Scandinavian heritage. We like to joke about it sometimes but it is really no laughing matter. Does not talking about difficulties come from a sense of not wanting to complain? From knowing that it could always be worse so why torture yourself with festering about it? Move on. Get over it. Have a good cry alone in the bathroom and that is that?

The last twenty-one years have been a long process of learning as an adult how to communicate better and live authentically. I still have plenty of room to grow when it comes to communication, but I am pretty good at defending my right to do what I feel called toward and staying away from what steals my joy. I don’t have patience for toxic people or toxic situations anymore. I don’t feel it is my duty to suffer them – and somehow making up my mind about that must have changed something in the air around me, because while I used to seem to attract toxicity, I no longer do.

Sometimes I think about how I would have handled my Wyoming internship if I had encountered it later in life. It is impossible to know, and ultimately, while it is an awful memory, I am certain it was a necessary stepping stone in my life. At some point each one of us must face an asshole, a horrible situation, get pissed off, and then see what we do. I could look back that time and see it as I did for a very long time: weakness because I didn’t leave gracefully, because I didn’t know how to respond perfectly, because I didn’t demand help in a way so that my seminary actually helped me…OR…I can see it as I choose to see it now: strength – how I took a baseball bat to that experience and smashed it when I realized it was killing me. My departure may not have been smooth, but it was effective.

And while the experience was devastating, as is often the case, beauty came out of the ashes of it. Dear friends, extraordinary adventures, travel, even getting reacquainted with the man I married – so many good things came out of the fact that I left that awful internship. In the long run it didn’t matter how I left, all that matters was that I did leave and I moved on. For all the pain that short period of time brought to my life, no one would hardly remember it anymore except that I still feel the need to tell the story now and then.

These days I can’t help but do that – because I understand that telling the stories of our difficulties is important. It’s medicinal, life-saving.  I never would have believed it when I was growing up and so busy learning how to keep secrets and isolate when there was any kind of trouble. But time has revealed to me that when we have a survival story to tell, it cuts us when we keep it inside, but it heals us when we let others know.  Our survival stories assure others that they will survive, too. Telling the truth and sharing compassion is so much better than hiding in the safety of silence.

So, twenty-one years ago right now I was at a Bible Camp in North Dakota for the night. I drove directly there after I left Wyoming because I had worked there a few summers before and the director was a friend of mine – and I had an immense, all-consuming crush on him. Perhaps I was hoping my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad luck would start turning around and he would turn into Prince Charming and sweep me away from the shit-hole my life felt like that night. That didn’t happen. But, he did build me a fire and let me sleep on a couch in the retreat center. He didn’t ask any questions about why I was roaming like a cigarette-smoke covered ghost through North Dakota on Halloween night, just gave me a “hello friend” hug and a warm place to stay before he left to go to a Halloween party.  I stared at the fire until I fell asleep, left before dawn to keep driving and crying and driving some more. I made it the rest of the way to my parents’ house in Minnesota and mom welcomed me in.  She had my favorite supper waiting.

lonesome

Iowa

By Dar Williams

I’ve never had a way with women,
But the hills of Iowa make me wish that I could
And I’ve never found a way to say I love you,
But if the chance came by, oh I, I would
But way back where I come from,
We never mean to bother,
We don’t like to make our passions other people’s concern,
And we walk in the world of safe people,
And at night we walk into our houses and burn.

Iowa

How I long to fall just a little bit,
To dance out of the lines and stray from the light,
But I fear that to fall in love with you
Is to fall from a great and gruesome height.
So I asked a friend about it, on a bad day,
Her husband had just left her,
She sat down on the chair he left behind, she said,
“What is love, where did it get me?
Whoever thought of love is no friend of mine.”

Iowa
Once I had everything,
I gave it up for the shoulder of your driveway
And the words I’ve never felt.
And so for you, I came this far across the tracks,
Ten miles above the limit, and with no seatbelt, and I’d do it again,
For tonight I went running through the screen doors of discretion,
For I woke up from a nightmare that I could not stand to see,
You were a-wandering out on the hills of Iowa,
And you were not thinking of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave the Light On

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

The season of white, gray, and cold has begun. The wind is whirling snow past my window and clawing at the front doors of the church. Every now and then, the building creaks, but my office is warm.

It is the brief lull between Reformation Sunday and All Saints Sunday. My mother died during this lull in 2011. I remember leaving the Fall festival on Reformation Sunday at our church to go to the hospital to see her. By that night I knew she was dying. She was so weary, so frail. I stayed as close to her bedside as I could while gracious friends watched my little boys. In the brief moments when she was awake, she was no longer speaking to me, but to loved ones beyond time and space. She smiled and laughed as you do when you see old friends. If I tried to interject and say something, she almost looked dismayed. Her sights were no longer set on me, on this realm. She was looking ahead, looking forward, already gone in so many ways. Her body just had to catch up.

It was a Tuesday night when she died. It was an early Wednesday morning when she died. It was All Saints Day. It was All Souls Day. It was November 1. It was November 2. Both are true to me because when I fell asleep on the hospital couch in her room on All Saints day, my mother was still breathing. When I woke up on All Souls Day, I could no longer hear her breathing in the darkness and I knew she was gone. I waited a few minutes before I went to turn on the light.  I knew as soon as I saw her it would be real that she was gone.

Finally, I got up and moved toward the light switch. I turned on the light and looked toward the bed and there she was. Her skin already yellowing, her life had slipped away while I slept. I sat next to her as the nurses came in and out with their questions, helping me process what needed to happen next. Looking at her face was so hard because she really didn’t look like her already – so I looked at her arms, her hands. I thought about all those hands had held – me and my brother when we were babies, they had cared for my dad all the years he was sick, they had typed up church bulletins and newsletters, manuscripts, they had done countless loads of laundry and dishes, baked bread and birthday cakes, they had journeyed to beautiful places and hard places, they had held the handkerchief she carried around for when tears snuck up on her, they had held a whole lifetime, and now their work was done.

In slow motion I made the calls I needed to make. It was still the middle of the night and the world was sleeping – my husband, my brother – I left them messages to tell them mom had died. With no one in my family awake to talk to me at that bleak hour, the funeral director from Minnesota, who had handled my father’s funeral the year before, was a warm and welcome voice. His northern accent was comforting as I sat there in that Texas hospital. He sounded like home.

The city of Waco was hushed as I walked out to my car. I think it was raining slightly as I drove and cried and drove some more. The hospital was about an hour from my house. I noted to myself how the world felt so different now, and of course, it was. It was now a world that no longer had my mother’s smile, voice, wisdom in it. This world is still sorely lacking for having lost those precious things.

And now somehow six years have passed since that night/morning. I’ve gone to sleep and woken up thousands of times in a world where mom isn’t anymore. My boys hardly remember her but they know well my stories of her. They know that their mom loved her mom and there’s a well of sadness that still springs up out of me sometimes, and that’s okay. My shiny stone of grief I carry around is precious to me because it’s one of the ways I hold on to her.

But it is just one of the ways. There are so many other ways I remember her, too – and as the years pass, I want to be better at remembering her differently.

I want to remember her with laughter because she loved to laugh. Her laugh was like silver bells over the snow: light and sweet. She laughed easily and often.

I want to remember her with friendship because she treasured her friends. Being married to my dad was hard work and so it was her friends who saved her and brought her joy. She made time for them and they were fiercely devoted to each other.

I want to remember her by being a kick-ass mom. She loved being a mother and she was so good at building a home. Not necessarily the tasks of being a housewife – she hated cleaning, she wasn’t a great cook, she cared little about decorating, but she knew how to make a home. She made time for us kids, giving us herself, always.

I want to remember her by welcoming my years. Mom was not vain. She never colored her hair. She never wore makeup. She was fully herself and present in whatever age she was at. She didn’t have time for nonsense. She lived the life God gave her, neither rushing the years nor wishing for the past to return.

I want to remember her by being me. That’s all she ever wanted for me. She gave me roots and then she gave me wings and she would be so disappointed if I didn’t fly. She was proud of me no matter what I did – when I stayed close to home and when I adventured.

It does me no good to build a monument of pain in memory of her. I didn’t mean to do that, but in many ways I have. I’ll always think of her, miss her, tell stories about her, but I don’t want the narrative I tell about my mom for the rest of my days to be full of sadness when her life was not that way. She was joy and laughter and friendship, welcome, gentleness, a loud “yes” to love and goodness.

Where I grew up, about five miles outside a small town in northern Minnesota, we had a yard light out by the garage. If my brother or I were out past dark, mom would turn on that yard light so that we would have a light to welcome us home. It was such a small thing, but so lovely to turn the corner onto our lonesome gravel road and see that light in the distance. It was mom saying, “I’m thinking of you. Be safe! Come home soon. Welcome back.” She continued to do that long after we had moved away from home – if we were coming for a visit and arrived after dark, the light would be on.

A few years before mom and dad died, they were both in the nursing home for a while and I came back to Minnesota to see them. I flew in at night and drove up to the house. It was going to be the first time in my whole life I would sleep in that house alone.  It was the dead of winter and as I approached, there was no light on to welcome me – everything was silent and still. Mom had told me the heat would be on and to make myself at home, but without the light to welcome me, the place felt alien and I just wanted to go sleep in a hotel. I probably would have if I weren’t already exhausted from travel and if there had been a hotel anywhere nearby. I stayed that night at the house but hardly slept at all. The house creaked in sadness as the wind and snow pelted against it. The rest of the nights I was in Minnesota I stayed on the extra bed in mom’s nursing home room. Being close to her was all the light I needed.

Perhaps the rest of my days, my task is to remember to leave the light on for other people. For my children, by loving them the best I can, giving them a warm and welcoming place to call home. For my congregation, by pointing them toward Jesus and helping our church be a place of grace. For my friends, by being supportive and listening, and sharing of myself. For strangers, by not being afraid to let others in. Offer help. Offer a smile. Offer my time.

Leave the light on. This is how I choose to remember my mom for the rest of my days to come.

light on

 

Leave the Light On

By Beth Hart

I seen myself with a dirty face,
I cut my luck with a dirty ace
I leave the light on
I went from zero to minus ten
I drank your wine then
I stole your man
I leave the light on,
I leave that light on.

Daddy ain’t that bad he just plays rough
I ain’t that scarred when I’m covered up
I leave the light on
Little girl hiding underneath the bed was it something I did
Must be something I said
I leave the light on, better leave the light on.

I want to love
I want to live
I don’t know much about it
I never did seventeen and I’m all messed up inside
I cut myself just to feel alive
I leave the light on twenty one on the run
on the run on the run from myself

From myself and everyone
I leave the light on, I leave the light on
Better leave the light on.

Cause I want to love
I want to live
I don’t know much about it
I never did,
I don’t know what to do, can the damage be undone
I swore to God that I’d never be what I’ve become
Lucky stars and fairy tales
I’m gonna bathe myself in a wishin’ well
Pretty scars from cigarettes
I never will forget, I never will forget
I’m still afraid to be alone
wish that moon would follow me home
I leave the light on
I ain’t that bad I’m just messed up
I ain’t that sad but I’m sad enough
God bless the child with the dirty face who cuts her luck with a dirty ace
She leaves the light on, I leave that light on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Song

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

My Song – by Brandi Carlile

When I haven’t written for a week or two, I can tell that something is “off” for me. My thoughts get too bottled up and crowded in my brain. The simple practice of writing each day is medicinal for me – it eases something in my heart and mind.

So most days, I write. It brings me pure and simple joy and release. The trickier part is sharing what I write.  Sharing my writing feels like something I ‘ought’ to do – but as soon as I think of the eyes of others reading my words, I begin to mold and fashion the words into something I think others might like instead of letting them just be my own unique creation. When I change my creation to suit others, I begin to hate it. The process of writing becomes work.

Writing takes bravery: once it’s out there you come face to face with the truth that it’s quite likely many won’t want to read it anyway, or they might read it just to be kind or skim it out of curiosity, or perhaps they will make some comment that shows they really didn’t get it or even disagree heartily with it. This is true with any writing – even that which you have gone over with a fine-tooth comb to make it as palatable to the masses as possible.

However, to share your own honest writing, your great truth-telling and sentences just as you like them shaped, thoughts expressed just as you want to express them – not thinking about how your mom or your friends or your congregation might want you to express them – that takes the utmost courage. It takes courage because you are trusting that your own unvarnished insights and opinions matter and have worth all on their own – even if not a single soul likes it or comments on it. Trusting that the unique creativity that God gave you is beautiful just because it exists, not because it needs to be molded or shaped into something marketable or profitable is the spark that lights fireworks in the soul.

What would you say if you didn’t feel you had to bite your tongue? What would you write if you weren’t so worried about what others would think? Perhaps those words, spoken or written, are exactly what your family, your community, your world are needing to hear and see.  Why else did God give them to you?

Writing

“My Song”
by Brandi Carlile

Everything I do
Surrounds these pieces of my life
That often change
Or hey, maybe I’ve changed

Sometimes seeming happy
Can be self-destructive
Even when you’re sane
Yeah you’re only insane

But don’t bother waking me today

Here I am
I’m so young
I know I’ve been bitter
I’ve been jaded
I’m alone
Everyday, I bite my tongue
If you only knew
My mind was full of razors
To cut you like a
Word if only sung

But this is my song
This is my song

I live everyday
Like they’ll never be a last one
Till they’re gone
And they’re gone
I’m not too proud to beg for
Your attention and your friendship
And your time
So you could come and get it from now on

Here I am
I’m so young
I know I’ve been bitter
I’ve been jaded
I’m alone
Everyday, I bite my tongue
If you only knew
My mind was full of razors
To cut you like a
Word if only sung

This is my song
This is my song

And it’s you
It is you

Here I am
I’m so young
I know I’ve been bitter
I’ve been jaded
I’m alone
Everyday, I bite my tongue
If you only knew
My mind was full of razors
I’m not sure I can take it
I’ve nothing strong to hold to
I’m way too old to hate you
My mind is full of razors
To cut you like a
Word if only sung

But this is my song

Even the Losers

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Even the Losers

By Tom Petty

Tom Petty died a couple days ago. His death came right on the heels of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. In the midst of all of this, a baby was born in our congregation. Death and life – the seasons go round and round.

I grew up listening to Tom Petty. His older songs were the soundtrack to rides on the school bus, the days I spent glued to VH1, and later on – the music I listened to with friends and boyfriends. “Even the Losers” has had a perpetual place on my running playlist for decades.

You aren’t supposed to say you feel like a loser. No one is supposed to admit to this. We are supposed to see ourselves as winners! Try! Do your best! Believe in yourself! And yet, in our times of quiet truth-telling, most of us have felt like we weren’t winning. I have felt this way – especially when I was growing up.

Painfully shy, I spent all of elementary, junior high, and high school perched firmly on the outer edges of anything cool. I had a rich fantasy life where I dreamed of the handsome popular boy calling me, of being an actress, a singer. When I was alone, I could imagine I was anyone, on the verge of being anything – but when I was with other people I was faced with the reality of my shyness, my inability to ever know what to say, the painful surety that whatever I did say would be wrong, stupid, or simple.

I’m not a whole lot different now. Sure, I can function in society and in my work but I’m an introvert, through and through. I get anxious leading the smallest Bible study. I get a tinge of nervousness just returning phone calls. Before every one of the thousands of sermons I have preached, I’ve felt butterflies to panic.

I don’t spend much time anymore wondering why it is this way for me – rather, I I’ve learned how to build on my strengths: Less meetings, more writing and creative pursuits. I know that if I have a day full of being around people, leading activities, or public speaking, I need to take some time alone after that.

For example, last weekend I went to Homecoming festivities at my old college. I spent most of the day with my closest college friends and that was wonderful – talking, walking around campus, eating together. Then, in the evening there was a gathering for our entire class. As soon as we got there, I wanted to run away. I didn’t have any energy left for making small talk with virtual strangers – I left after about 25 minutes and went home. Maybe if I had started the day with that big social gathering I could have tolerated it longer, but as it was, I had no shred of extrovert left in me.  That Homecoming weekend of constant interaction with friends and strangers left me exhausted – it took me a couple days to feel normal again.

This feels like a flaw in my character and yet I know that it is just the way I was created. I can’t use my introversion as an excuse to lock myself away and not contribute to the world, but I do have to make sure I get quiet time.

It’s a bummer that quiet kids often feel like “losers.” Usually, the popular kids are the loud, animated ones. Everyone knows who those kids are and what they are about. Quieter kids often are harder to get to know – we keep our thoughts close. We don’t like talking just for the sake of talking.  We want the conversation to be about something that matters.

So, we sit on the sideline, looking for the interactions that matter – and we like it there except that sometimes it is a little lonesome. We see the extroverts talking loudly and laughing and gesturing wildly and wonder for a split second how it might be to be like that.

But then we are more than content to go off and write, walk and observe the leaves changing, read, contemplate life, explore – all on our own for quite a long time until another soul comes along to serve as a gentle companion.

I think that is what Tom Petty meant when he sang, “even the losers get lucky sometimes.”  No one is a loser, but every one of us has felt that way at some point – and what a blessing it is when something or someone comes along and we suddenly know we are winning. In our own way. On our own terms. In God’s always-surprising timing.

 

“Even The Losers”
Well it was nearly summer, we sat on your roof
Yeah we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I showed you stars you never could see
Babe, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me

Baby time meant nothin’ anything seemed real
Yeah you could kiss like fire and you made me feel
Like every word you said was meant to be
Babe, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me

Baby even the losers
Get lucky sometimes
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes

Two cars parked on the overpass
Rocks hit the water like broken glass
Should have known right then it was too good to last
It’s such a drag when you live in the past

Baby even the losers
Get lucky sometimes
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes

 

Love Like We Do

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Love Like We Do

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Last night I preached at a worship service at my alma mater – Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. It is Homecoming week there and I was pleased to be invited to go back to preach. My class is having our 25th reunion this year. On the way west last night, I thought about the cassette tapes I loved most during freshman year – then, I turned up Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians loud.

I still wear my Concordia ring, but I always felt on the fringes when I was there. I was not popular or well-known on campus. I was usually working a couple jobs and not terribly dedicated to my studies. I spent a terrific amount of time writing in my journal and daydreaming about finding true love. That and some Habitat for Humanity trips, and making a few friends for a lifetime sums up my years there.

I felt immensely lucky to be a student at Concordia. Growing up poor, I never dreamed I would be able to go to a college so nice. I remember feeling so spoiled at living in the midst of all the nice furniture, shiny linoleum, warm and inviting rooms of that school. I could take a hot shower every day! I could tell when I went into the dorm rooms of the other girls that I had grown up quite differently. Most of them had plump new comforters and pillows adorning their beds, all sorts of decorations and storage systems that had been bought just for their daughter to bring to college. Whereas I brought nearly nothing. I looked longingly at my roommate’s fancy electric typewriter, her beautiful clothes, her ability to order a pizza on her credit card anytime she wanted. While I was a student at a nice private school, I was still a poor kid who grew up in a house that was held together by duct tape.

In the springtime each year, I learned to walk slowly and frequently by the dumpsters outside our dorm because many of the girls couldn’t be bothered to bring home a lot of their stuff. They knew they would just get new things next year – so they would toss out piles of beautiful, fluffy, folded towels, mostly-full bottles of shampoo and hairspray, school supplies, books, crates, even piles of cassette tapes and CD’s! I scavenged through what they discarded and I honestly felt lucky – so lucky that I could have their leftovers, their castoffs. I felt lucky that I knew I didn’t take anything for granted and I never would. I had the wisdom and tenacity of growing up poor, and then I had the luxury of living in the midst of excess and finery. Both taught me a great deal.

So I wear my Concordia ring and sometimes I smile because I know that perhaps when people hear I graduated from there, they get a certain perception of me. Spoiled rich kid who went to a private Lutheran college. But I know there were many of us who did not fit that mold at all. We may have been on the fringes. We may have felt like imposters there sometimes, and yet we did find our place. I found a lot of things at Concordia (in addition to dumpster treasures). I found some of my best friends. I found a school that honored and respected the faith tradition that is so dear to me and it nurtured my calling to be a pastor. I found so much laughter, many great challenges, some despair, and a home for four good years.

I am a Cobber. (Yes, our mascot is a corn cob).

concordia

 

“Love Like We Do”
Life is better than the days behind
What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine
No aggravation that we can’t get through
A situation for the lucky few

And every day is just a little more
Of time together to be happy for
I’m happy even when the times are rough
‘Cause any time with you is good enough

When we love like we do
Love like we do

I don’t believe in hatred anymore
I hate to think of how I felt before
When anger overwhelms your very soul
It’s hard to realize you’ll ever know

When we love like we do
Love like we do
Love like we do
Love like we do

Life is better than the days behind
What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine
No aggravation that we can’t get through
A situation for the lucky few

When we love like we do
Love like we do

America’s Sweetheart

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

America’s Sweetheart

By Elle King

I just listened to an interview with Hillary Clinton on Fresh Air. It’s wonderful to finally hear her perspective of the events surrounding the election. I have always liked Hillary Clinton a great deal. She is smart, eloquent, accomplished, and tough as nails. I can’t understand why some seem to hate her so much and look for every reason to trash her and belittle her. During the election, I heard one elderly gentleman say that the reason she did so much better in the debates than her opponent was because she got the debate questions ahead of time. That was the only way he could make sense in his head that she was doing so well. It couldn’t possibly be that she was smarter, better qualified, more knowledgeable, an infinitely superior speaker, and more prepared than her opponent.  Nope, must have gotten the questions beforehand.

There is not a single woman who will be surprised at his statement, though. Our whole lives we have heard echoes of this. “Our new pastor is a woman, but she does a pretty great job!”(Impossible, but true!) “Oh, you are a pastor? Is your husband a pastor, too?” (Nope, I came up with the idea all by myself!) “So are you the youth and family minister? May I speak with the Senior pastor.” (You are speaking to her.) “Where do you get your sermons? Does the synod send those to you?” (Nope, just me and the Holy Spirit write those babies every week).

Now, I must admit that for every case of sexism I have encountered, there have been plenty more cases where people have been supportive, encouraged me, congratulated me on my accomplishments, and been all-around awesome.  This may be because in my denomination, women have been ordained since 1970. They are used to women being pastors and pretty much rocking at it. It’s mostly when I venture into circles outside my own church and denomination that I hear the most abrasive sexism. When I do experience it, I feel a mixture of anger and pity. Mostly pity. I know that for someone to say something that denies the strength and capabilities of women means that they are either trying to compensate for something that is missing in their own lives, are jealous, or have deep-seated anger issues toward women that they may not even realize. Perhaps they have been surrounded by patriarchal systems their whole lives and just don’t know any better.

While I still sit stunned and sad in the shards that remain from the election, I’m so thankful that Hillary Clinton ran for President, and now is telling her story.  Her strength is admirable. To weather all that she has in the spotlight, to do so with grace and class, to keep hammering away at that glass ceiling – she is a fierce champion to so many of us, no matter what the results of the election were. No, she may not be all of America’s sweetheart – but she still has my vote.

You keep on being you, Hillary. I dedicate this song to you today.

 “America’s Sweetheart”

No, there ain’t nothing that I gotta prove
You think your words will make me black and blue, but I
I think I’m pretty with these old boots on
I think it’s funny when I drink too much, hey
You tryna change me, you can go to hell
Cause I don’t wanna be nobody else
I like the chip I got in my front teeth
And I got bad tattoos you won’t believe

So kick out the jams, kick up the soul
Pour another glass of that rock and roll
Turn up the band, fire in the hole
Gonna lose control tonight

What do you want from me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
So beat the drum with me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
Well, they say I’m too loud
For this town
So I lit a match
And burned it down
What do you want from me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
But you love me anyway

My hands are dirty and my heart is cold
Them boys I’ve been with say I got no soul, when I
I need another honey at the bar
I’ll think it’s funny when I break his heart
My kind of medicine is whiskey straight
I got a mouth to put you in your place, and they
They said I’ll never be the poster type
But they don’t make posters of my kind of life

So kick out the jams, kick up the soul
Pour another glass of that rock and roll
Turn up the band, fire in the hole
Gonna lose control tonight

What do you want from me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
So beat the drum with me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
Well, they say I’m too loud
For this town
So I lit a match
And burned it down
What do you want from me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
But you love me anyway

You love me anyway
You love me anyway

Kick out the jams, kick up the soul
Pour another glass of that rock and roll
Turn up the band, fire in the hole
Holler if you ready, gonna lose control
Kick out the jams, kick up the soul
Pour another glass of that rock and roll
Turn up the band, fire in the hole
Gonna lose control tonight

What do you want from me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
So beat the drum with me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
Well, they say I’m too loud
For this town
So I lit a match
And burned it down
What do you want from me
I’m not America’s sweetheart
But you love me anyway

You love me anyway
You love me anyway

I’m not America’s sweetheart

Raise Your Glass

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Raise Your Glass

By Pink

I hardly ever drink alcohol anymore. This isn’t a religious decision – if you know anything about Lutherans, you know that we don’t mind drinking now and then. However, I have come to a point in life where I am able to clearly see how alcohol mostly just makes me sad and slow. When I do drink, I too easily have too much and then it messes with how much I eat and it is a downward spiral I don’t want or need.

I easily fall into addictions: food, cigarettes, alcohol – each of them have had their way with me at different times in life. I used cigarettes to eat less food. I used alcohol to numb my sadness about weight I had gained. I ate food because, well, I just loved food.  When I was a kid in a house with too much yelling and sadness, food was a quiet friend I could turn to. Food was always present, and I hoped it could fill up the empty spaces.

But it never did. Addictions never will. In forty-seven years I have learned this over and over and over again.

Right now I am at a relatively healthy place in life….I suppose that is why I can write about it openly. I have stepped far enough back from any addictions to really see them for what they are. Alcohol, cigarettes, and junk food each masquerade as happy, fun things, but they are so very sad. They pretend to be friends, but they are such fake friends. They promise fun and carefree – but what they deliver is muddled thoughts and diminished days.

I don’t say I will never have these things again – that would be pointless. Sometimes, I will and do indulge. Sometimes a glass of wine with my friends, or a cigarette alone on the church steps, or a bag of Doritos in front of the television will be just the perfect thing. But I have too many books I want to read and miles I want to run and thoughts I want to write about to set aside much time for these empty things anymore.

So, I raise my glass (of iced tea) and toast to experiencing these years in as healthy a way as I can. I raise my glass to the simple but lasting joys of living without the need for anesthetics, numbing. I raise my glass to wholeness, peace of mind, and experiencing the fullness of this good life. Here’s to temperance and tenacity. Cheers.

 

“Raise Your Glass”
Right, right, turn off the lights
We’re gonna lose our minds tonight
What’s the deal, yo?
I love when it’s all too much
5 a.m. turn the radio up
Where’s the rock ‘n roll?

Party crasher, panty snatcher
Call me up if you’re a gangsta
Don’t be fancy, just get dancy
Why so serious?

So raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways, all my underdogs
We will never be, never be anything but loud
And nitty, gritty, dirty, little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass!

Slam, slam, oh hot damn
What part of a party don’t you understand?
Wish you’d just freak out
Can’t stop, coming in hot
I should be locked up right on the spot
It’s so on right now

Party crasher, panty snatcher
Call me up if you’re a gangsta
Don’t be fancy, just get dancy
Why so serious?

So raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways, all my underdogs
We will never be, never be anything but loud
And nitty, gritty, dirty, little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Won’t you come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass!

So if you’re too school for cool
And you’re treated like a fool
You can choose to let it go
We can always, we can always party on our own

So raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways, all my underdogs
We will never be, never be anything but loud
And nitty, gritty, dirty, little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Won’t you come on and come on and
Raise your glass for me!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass for me!
For me

 

 

Things Happen

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Things Happen

By Dawes

Last Summer, my older son had his tonsils taken out. We knew he wouldn’t be feeling good for a bit after the surgery but had no idea that the healing process was going to be as long or complex as it was. Our poor boy pretty much sat on the couch for a week, woke up during the night crying from the pain in his throat and ear, and lost thirteen pounds. After a week had gone by, it was time for both the boys to go to Bible camp in North Dakota but Owen was nowhere near ready to leave the couch yet. So, I left with our younger son and Owen stayed home with my husband. We decided that if he was feeling better in a couple days, Chad would bring him to camp to join us.

It turned out that Owen was feeling better, so he came to camp but we realized quickly that the loud noises of 100 other kids made his ear throb with pain. So instead of him staying with the other kids in the cabin and joining them for their activities, Owen spent much of his time with me in the Retreat Center. He watched movies and rested his ear on a heating pad, I read, we talked.

I take pictures of country churches. The smaller and more remote, the better – and being in North Dakota for a week I was excited to take some time prowling around the backroads and looking for churches. There was one I had read about that I particularly wanted to see but it was a couple hours away. I didn’t want to leave Owen alone all day but I also knew he doesn’t enjoy the picture-taking days as much as I do. In the end, he decided to come along. We stopped at Walmart and found some little warming pads that he could use if his ear started to bother him.

It was a splendid and simple day. Somewhere in the middle of North Dakota, there was a crazy-good radio station that was playing some great stuff. The lyric, “may all your favorite bands stay together” caught my ear and before I knew it, I was searching for the name of the band. It turned out to be Dawes – so when the radio station faded out, I looked them up on Spotify and fell in love with them immediately.

Their songs became the soundtrack for that day. Riding around the countryside of North Dakota with my eldest son, who is so close to being a teenager it takes my breath away. We rode along through sunshine and then pouring rain, along interstate and then miles of gravel road until we found the little church we were looking for. Like a tale in a storybook, a man with a glass eye was there and he let us in the church and told us stories about that magical little place on the prairie. He lifted up the trap door to the cellar fellowship hall and we went down there to see pictures of that congregation’s rich and beautiful past. Even though the thunder and lightning kept me from taking many pictures, it was worth every minute and mile to get there.

We headed back toward camp, stopping at some other churches on the way – I took photographs and Owen did bottle flips on the front steps. We stopped to eat. I had soup. He had 1/8 of a pancake (still not much appetite). The sun came out and the shadows were growing long.

Some people say they don’t know where the time goes. Some people say they missed out on their kids growing up. But I know where the time goes – I have every second of it stored in my mind and heart. And I have not missed out on my kids growing. I have been here every day. I’ve reveled in their laughter and I’ve dried their tears. I have shown them the joys of cupcakes, meteor showers, watching for the space station to fly over on a quiet night, a great movie, singing around a campfire. I’ve taught them to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “have a good day,” to say their prayers, that love is the most important thing.  And I have understood with each day how precious these days are. I have not taken a smidgen, an iota, the tiniest whit for granted.

Sure, there were times I got tired of them always wanting to sit on my lap or weary that as soon as I went to the bathroom they needed me DESPERATELY! All that is mostly gone now. With each day they get more of their own lives and need less of mine. I know we will always be knit together, but it changes.

So, I’ll treasure every second I get.

I’m a mom who never thought I wanted to be a mom, but dear God, my boys fill my heart full.

bottle flips

 

Things Happen by Dawes

I could go on talking or I could stop
Wring out each memory til’ I get every drop
Sift through the details of the others involved
The true crime would be thinking it’s just one persons fault

Like an honest signature on a fake ID
Like the guilty conscience with the innocent plea
You can just ignore it, put it out of mind
But ain’t it funny how the past won’t ever let something lie

Let’s make a list of all the things the world has put you through
Let’s raise a glass to all the people you’re not speaking to
I don’t know what else you wanted me to say to you
Things happen, that’s all they ever do

In a different time, on a different floor
I might mourn the loss of who I’m not anymore
So I’m driving up to Oakland for a good look back
And a few revisions to my plan of attack

Let’s make a list of all the things the world has put you through
Let’s raise a glass to all the people you’re not speaking to
I don’t know what else you wanted me to say to you
Things happen, that’s all they ever do

I think I’ll see Lily, see where she stands
I can’t help how I feel, I don’t think anyone can
Sometimes we’re lovers, sometimes we’re friends
Behold the magnetism between two dead ends

Let’s make a list of all the things the world has put you through
Let’s raise a glass to all the people you’re not speaking to
I don’t know what else you wanted me to say to you
Things happen, that’s all they ever do

Lets’ make a list of all the things the world has put you through (we can qualify the spirit guides we listen to)
Lets raise a glass to all the people your not speaking to (or why are moms compelled to bronze your baby shoes)
I don’t know what else that you wanted me to say to you
Things happen, that’s all they ever do
That’s all they ever do
That’s all they ever do
That’s all they ever do