Monday, July 6, 2015

Otherwise and I'll Be There For You

As a general rule of thumb, poetry bores me. But occasionally a poem that I enjoy surfaces, and when that happens I like to share. Enjoy!

by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

I'll Be There For You 
By Louise Cuddon

I’ll be there, my darling, through thick and through thin
When your mind’s in a mess and your head’s in a spin
When your plane’s been delayed, and you’ve missed the last train.
When life is just threatening to drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page
When somebody tells you, you’re looking your age
When your coffee’s too cool, and your wine is too warm
When the forecast said, “Fine,” but you’re out in a storm
When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum
And your holiday photos show only your thumb
When you park for five minutes in a resident’s bay
And return to discover you’ve been towed away
When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste
Just stick on your hips and don’t reach round your waist
When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes
When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear…
When you break a rule, when you act the fool
When you’ve got the flu, when you’re in a stew
When you’re last in the queue, don’t feel blue
’cause I’m telling you, I’ll be there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

happy wednesday

Some good links ...

1. Sheryl Sandberg's fresh, excellent essay on grief

2. Awesome story on an Australian man whose rare blood has saved two million (!) babies lives. Makes you want to go out and donate blood, even if you hate needles and pain as he says he does too.

3. Ann Voskamp does it again. Cried reading her powerful piece: How To Have What All Our Hurting Hearts Want Most This Father's Day.

4. And this one by Voskamp on family is absolutely beautiful too. In case you don't find time to read it, here are a few lines ...
"Family is a verb. Family is not just what we are, it’s something that we actively keep on making. With every phone call…. with every trip to the grocery store and filling up the minivan with gas, with every filling up of the washing machine, with every putting the other ahead of you, so that you can put regrets behind youEvery time we make time for each other, we make family." [A.V.]

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Words, Running, Joseph

Maybe sometime putting words out there - something that seems so simple - is really the most important thing. Like after I wrote my last depressing post and wondered why I was even bothering, but then felt relief in the days afterward. From the words of others, from the weight off myself, and from good ole G-o-d.

I know the power of words and yet it's a lesson I am continually learning and learning.

Yesterday I ran the Red Rose Run. Was thrilled to meet my goal, and beat my time from when I ran it three years ago ... back in the days of no baby and endless free time. Apparently becoming a mom really did increase my endurance, physically and mentally, woot woot! My forte has always been pushing up hills and it still is. (I think this is in running and in life.) The time I find myself passing anyone is when there's a hill.

I felt like I should yell out some encouragement to the other runners on the hills. (This race is kind of annoying because the first half is mostly downhill, and the last half is mostly uphill. But Lancaster city is hecka beautiful and I love the route.)

I love when there are people clapping and cheering as I run by. And I get stupidly annoyed by the people who watch and do not cheer. (Again, I think this is not just in running but in life.) Smile and clap and cheer if you're ever watching a race. Your encouragement could make all the difference. We're here to encourage each other. It's not that difficult, but it's like we get afraid to just open our mouths and say something simple.

So sometimes I yell to the people around me while I run. It might annoy them or not even phase them, or maybe they love it. But I did it yesterday and it spurred me on. The Stroller Strong Moms group I was part of in Georgia might be what really got me into that. The other moms were so verbal and encouraging, at a time I was (debatably) the most out of shape and insecure about my body. No wonder I loved being part of that group so much.

The message at my church today was powerful, and that was what really prompted me to write tonight.

It focused on Joseph. My dad's name is Joseph Benjamin, and maybe for that reason or a host of others, I have always found the Biblical story of Joseph fascinating and easy to connect with.

I never took note that when Jacob (Joseph's father) blessed his sons, the blessing of Joseph was that he would be "strengthened by God amidst tremendous opposition." And Benjamin would be a "fighter." I can see the power of a name and that my dad has had these blessings very much available to him in his life.

I'm a huge fan of our pastor. Once I told Lance how my Grandma Shank and my mom were/are weirdly big fans of their pastors, and he pointed out that I'm the exact same way. Huh. He was right, I am. So today the pastor was moving quickly through the historical portion of his teaching on Joseph, and I had a feeling that this meant he was getting to something REALLY GOOD. I was right.

Wounding. Boundaries. Grace. Testing. No fear. That's what he touched on from the life of Joseph, and my pen was flying.

I don't know if it's because he is from Austria so he has that blessed outside perspective of Lancaster County, or he's super in tune with God and his people, or all of the above, but he frequently points out simple truths about Lancaster ... and they are always right on.

He talked about the Wailing Wall in Israel, and how the Jewish culture honors their emotions. Weeping is a sign of healing. But in Lancaster County, people have a tendency to suppress their emotions. Oftentimes addictions are developed to cover emotions up. If you do not grow emotionally, you cannot grow spiritually. It is important to weep.

Joseph steps away from the things that are going on quite often because he needs to weep. My dad has talked about having "crying spells" where he cannot stop crying. I used to try to tell him, "That's okay. It's normal to cry and it's better to get it out than to hold it in." And then I started experiencing this myself, and I could better understand his disorientation over these so-called spells. That understanding coupled with an irritating sense that he's not actually listening to what I'm saying has caused me to instead just say, "uh-huh" whenever he brings this up, because alas: I do not like to waste words when I feel the person listening is not actually listening. (Classic introvert?)

"When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
       His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said."
       But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." [Genesis 51:15-21]

Joseph honored God, he honored his emotions, and even though his brothers were the ones who put him through hell, Joseph was the one who was able to tell them, "Do not be afraid!" He reassured and encouraged them.
"They’re talking layoffs at work, slowdowns in the economy, flare-ups in the Middle East, turnovers at headquarters, downturns in the housing market, upswings in global warming, breakouts of Al Qaeda cells. The plague of our day, terrorism, begins with the word terror.
 We fear being sued, finishing last, going broke; we fear the mole on the back, the new kid on the block, the sound of the clock as it ticks us closer to the grave. We sophisticate investment plans, create elaborate security systems, and stronger military; yet we depend on mood-altering drugs more than any generation in history. Moreover, “the average child today … has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950s.” 
Fear, it seems, has taken a hundred-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversized and rude, unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and unproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good. 
Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison of unlocked doors. Wouldn’t it be great to walk out? 
Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?" 
[Max Lucado]

You are a child of God. Do not be afraid. Throughout history, there have only been a handful of people who TRUSTED God.

In the genealogy of Jesus Christ himself, is a long line of people who messed up. It's Joseph's brother Judah who ended up in the line of Jesus. Judah, who slept with a prostitute that was actually his daughter-in-law and then wanted to have her burned alive, until it was revealed that he slept with her and he couldn't hide it. His hypocrisy was exposed, but that wasn't the end. He had a major change in his character, from lowly to strong, and later he was willing to lay down his life for his brother Joseph. Awesome.

This is wildly reassuring to me. It doesn't matter what I've come from or what I've done, I can choose to honor God ... to not be afraid ... to trust Him like so few take the risk to actually do ... and it will all be worth it. Every single circumstance.

I'll end with these words from Pastor B ...
"All of these struggles are just a small part of a much bigger story that is larger than we could ever understand ... True ministry for God happens in the crucibles of your life. It is the things that you go through that reveal God to this world ... At your entrance into heaven, God will wipe away all of your tears. You will be weeping and you will see the big story, and you'll see that it was all worth it." 

recently read for june 7, 2015

Down Came the Rain
By Brooke Shields
This was a spontaneous library pickup. I feel like this book would be like salt on an open wound for readers with postpartum depression who can't afford a nanny, live-in help, vacations, etc. It's like she doesn't even realize her luxurious lifestyle is a completely foreign universe to most mothers. It was good to read a first-hand perspective from someone who went through PPD, but overall disappointing and un-relatable on many levels.

We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
Hated it. Certainly a page turner, but in a weird way. Young adult fiction about a wealthy family that reads almost like a mystery.

The Hardest Peace
By Kara Tippetts
You've already heard me talk about how AMAZING this book was, and I highly recommend it to every mama. (I'm not sure if I would have appreciated it as much pre-motherhood? Probably just in a different way.) Cried so much. Her writings and insight are incredible. One of the best books I've read in awhile!

Daring Greatly
By Brene Brown
Brene Brown is one of my favorite writers because she researches things that I've thought about but never could quite put into words. Her findings are encouraging, challenging, and just very interesting.  The chapter on vulnerability in parenting stuck out to me the most, probably because that's my main realm of influence right now. A great book!

This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage
By Ann Patchett
A collection of essays by a very successful writer. (It is not a book about marriage, but there is a small section on hers.) This book gets a lot of hype from writers, and while I can see that she is clearly great at the craft of writing ... I wasn't moved by what she wrote. Found the content kinda blah, but there was some sparkle here and there.

Some Things You Keep
By JJ Landis
A wonderful memoir by a local (if you're from Lancaster) writer. Starts with her mother committing suicide when she was in middle school, and follows her life through many ups and downs, and into an awesome future of figuring out who she is. I really, really liked it. (Feel free to borrow my copy, I got it signed at her library release.)

What are you reading? I'd ask for recommendations but I'm in the middle of one, and STILL need to pick up the next book club book. (Luckily this is for the world's most laidback and enjoyable book club, phew.) But I have an ongoing "to read" list (I love listmaking) so please do share anything that you've read and loved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

just as quick

Tonight after work and dinner, Dax was sitting in my lap and I was reading Llama Llama Zippity Zoom to him on repeat. I'd finish and he'd flip it back over - his way of telling me to read it again. I could read the same thing to him all night, because I love when he actually sits down and snuggles into me and relaxes. After 12 rounds or so, he is ready to move on to something else - and that's okay too. I love to watch him play and imagine and enjoy his surroundings. I love to watch his eyes light up and his mouth turn into the biggest smile, and his whole body let out the best giggles that I've ever heard.

I've been thinking lately of how much I love when Dax smiles and he is happy, and how that must be what God loves about me too. If I am honest, it's hard for me to believe that God wants me to be happy. Even as I write this my mind thinks of dozens of retorts, like "we weren't created to be happy" and "there's more to life than just happiness" and "Christians are supposed to have joy, not happiness" and on and on.

Maybe I get caught up in semantics, but God just looks right inside of me. He knows what's going on and when I smile, really smile, I think that makes Him smile.

I can't really say that I'm in a good place right now, or that I have been for what feels like a really long time. (Since we moved last summer.) Exhausted, discouraged, lonely, and repeat. I haven't been writing (not even journaling) and that's partially lack of time and energy, and mostly because everything comes out too depressing even for me.

I read an essay about a girl (beautiful, athlete, all the accolades) who semi-recently killed herself during her first year at college. Jumped off a parking garage. It sounded like some of her family was not totally shocked, but overall no one really saw it coming and couldn't understand why. Or is that just a thing people say out of pain and guilt? Like if they say out loud that they didn't suspect anything, that will dissipate the gnawing feeling inside of them that they could have reached out and they didn't?

The article delved into the idea that we all create a face online that we want others to see, and because social media is such a prevalent part of everyone's daily life that created face is what others believe. The article mentioned, in passing, that there's such backlash for negativity online that sometimes we don't share the negative for fear of being viewed as negative or being depressing ... um, yup.

I would say that backlash exists in real life as much as it does online. It's just that we commit more time to internet life than ever before, so it's an easy "new" source to blame. I don't want to be a depressing person bringing everyone down, or come across as ungrateful. I find it extremely difficult to talk about how I'm REALLY doing and what I'm feeling. How to tell someone that yeah I had this really great moment, but also there's this stuff I don't really want to say out loud ever to anyone.

For every happy post there are oh-so-many more that aren't posted because you're not allowed to talk about your marriage, your family, or your in-laws, and you're not supposed to show emotion - just "calm down" and remember that "it could always be worse." But what if that just doesn't work for you? I don't know.

I don't have a good ending or point or answer. I wrote to discipline myself into writing something, and because my mind was racing too much to try to go to sleep. Now it is way past my bedtime. I finished crying, and my kid must have sensed it and decided to pick up where I left off as he is screaming at the top of his lungs in his crib. Have mercy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

15 months

dax will be 15 months on may 21, so here are some things about what he's up to these days.

i love this age. the best parts? his smile and laugh, and the way he wraps his arms so tightly around my neck. watching him experience new things, and seeing him take it all in. the hardest parts? hmm. not knowing what's bothering him at times, trying to discipline him, and saying no all the time but feeling like it's not getting through (or he is refusing to listen?) and he's acting like a wild banshee while everyone else's kids seem easy and angelic. (what's the secret?! how does this work? help!)

{going to the library is fun as long as you can  shield his eyes from the computers at his level.}

- started saying mum/ma ma ma. sounds british, which is adorable. while he says da da in a happy or excited tone, the mum sound/word is reserved for panicked moments and/or sadness.
- loves new places, meeting people
- likes to stare at a person and walk backwards
- squats a lot
- does a happy dance (basically lifting each leg up high and stomping it down while waving his arms and grunting/cheering happily) whenever he 1) sees dad lifting weights, and gets to play with dads weights/bar/bench and 2) when he sees his cousin lana.
- still cries when it's time to have his diaper changed, and sometimes when it's time to get in his car seat.
- it's a victory when he lasts the church service in the nursery
- still in a bit of a separation anxiety phase, very clingy to mom.
- loves water. whenever he sees water outside he wants to go in it. (or else melt down.)
- loves taking baths. he will turn on the shower, then laughs] while he gets drenched and you scramble to turn it off.
- has the biggest smile, and all sorts of great laughs! giggles that go deep.
- loves to be chased.
- likes animals, and pointing at them and jabbering away in a serious tone.
- is a ham with a great sense of humor
- loves to run and explore
- outside is his favorite place to be
- walks "patrick the puppy" (a wooden dog on a leash) outside to get the mail
- loves weightlifting and will lift random objects over his head and look around for mom and dad or whoever is watching to clap, because i always cheer wildly when he plays with his barbell
- naked = happy
- throws pretty well. likes to run up to mom and throw balls in her face from a few inches away.
- fascinated by lawnmowers, vehicles, trucks, tractors, anything with wheels or an engine. every monday after lunch we go outside to watch the neighborhood lawn crew, dax furrows his brow and darts his head around to watch their every pattern. they wave and smile, and he stares and sometimes yells over the noise in delight.
- wrestles with dad and grandpa peifer
- imitates dad
- favorite toys: his lawnmower, barbell, mini kitchen, school bus, trucks, using dad's deodorant as a phone and talking to whoever it is he's talking to
- tries to ring the doorbell every time he walks into the house
- loves to sit on adult-sized furniture, and is starting to enjoy his little rocking chair
- likes books, especially llama llama red pajama! usually prefers to turn his own pages and sort through in his own style/pace
- very tough, doesn't cry for long when he gets hurt
- likes to bang his head into his parents heads/faces. hurts us, but somehow does not seem to bother him. every night when lance holds him to brush his teeth he gets a nixy sparkle in his eyes and somehow still catches dad off guard and WHAM, slams his head into him. if dad manages to miss the head bang, dax will start hitting him with his hands or use the toothbrush as a weapon. it's a mess.
- still teething, but the drool has lessened ever so slightly. (knock on wood ...)
- loves grapes, blueberries, avocados, bananas, teddy grahams, scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes
- drinks water like he just ran a marathon, chugging and panting
- has a special and unique bond with both dad and mom. gives dad a look and smiles because he knows dad will do something crazy to make him laugh. goes to mom for snuggles and hugs and comfort. the rumors i heard about that "mom and son bond are so true, and i love it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Have you ever heard of, or created, scherenschnitte? My brother and I made it (Somehow? How did we do that? Why did we do that?) once when we were kids, and most of the joy was in saying the word and giggling endlessly.

Scherenschnitte is German for "scissor cuts," or the art of cutting paper designs. I'm not sure why I chose Spanish classes over fun languages like German or French in middle school. Oh that's right, everybody chose Spanish and I wasn't ready to be unique yet. Kind of like how I intentionally spelled myself out of the last round of the spelling bee because I didn't want to win and have all of that attention. Oy vey.

That's all I have to say about that, except that I am posting links and quotes AGAIN ... so I felt the need for at least a little creativity in my title. Enjoy.

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Kristen Bell has such smart things to say in this interview. She and Dax Shepard are one of many celebrity couples on my dream list of people to have dinner with. (See also: Jim and Jeanne Gaffigan, Chip and Joanna Gaines, etc.) Love this: 
"You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don't figure out how to cook without reading a recipe. Therapy is not something to be embarassed about ... I thought I had this life thing down pat when I met my husband. I didn't realize that I needed a much bigger toolbox to have confrontations and disagreements with people."  
[Kristen Bell]

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Glennon Melton on Why the World Needs The Mentally Different ... BRILLIANT TIMES INFINITY. (Worth reading the whole article.)

"Because yes, I’ve got these conditions—anxiety, depression, addiction—and they almost killed me. But they are also my superpowers. I’m the canary in the mine and you need my sensitivity because I can smell toxins in the air that you can’t smell, see trouble you don’t see and sense danger you don’t feel. My sensitivity could save us all. And so instead of letting me fall silent and die — why don’t we work together to clear some of this poison from the air? 
What we who are mentally different need is respect. We know we need help managing our mental differences, but what we ask for is a shift in your approach to helping us. Instead of coming at us with the desire to change us because we are inconvenient to the world—come at us with the desire to help us because we are important to the world. We want you to see that with a little help, we can be your prophets, healers, clergy, artists, and activists. Help us manage our fire, yes, but don’t try to extinguish us. That fire that almost killed us is the same fire we’ll use to light up the world. " 
[Glennon Melton]

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{One-year pictures of my little love. TECHNICALLY 13 months, because who can remember to schedule pictures on time. Maybe you can. I did not. Today he is 14 months.}

"slow down.  put away distractions.  make a cup of morning tea and sip it while sitting.  watch your babies prance on the couch.  put a couple drops of lavender oil in their bath and make them giggle.  have a day where you only let him wear diapers and sun hats.  take lunch to the library or park.  watch them smile.  feel yourself smile back.  hold them close when they ask for snuggles.  hold them closer when they don't.  teach them how to read by flipping the pages one by one.  sit back, and watch them try.  get carry out for supper.  show them how to really eat chips and salsa.  hoist them up on your hips and belly and back, they are only so little for so long.  let her put your make up on.  let her wear your heels.  take time to show them little things like peeling a carrot or folding a towel.  let them run barefoot everywhere and wear snow boots on sunny days.  if she sees a puddle, tell her to go for it, laundry takes all but a minute.  slow down.  savor life.  hold onto these moments tightly." 
[from the mama watters blog]