How many for dinner…

Between 1988 and 1993 my life exploded. I married a dark-haired boy and welcomed three babies into the world (not necessarily in that order). Through all the years of turmoil and change that followed, one simple fact was a constant, there were five of us.  We were too big for lots of cars, the price of everything was times five, there were more kids than adults, but the answer to how many… was always five at our table

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Imperfect gatherings…

When my kids gather around our table these days, it is a bit of a bumpy ride. The three born to us, could not be more different. Their personalities barely fit in the room. One never knows what will spark a yelling match (politics is often the culprit), a wrestling match (a tussle over a cellphone and a mysterious Facebook friend), or mayhem of one kind or another. We’ve had good natured (mostly) water fights in the living room, blow ups that send one or another out the front door, and just a general sense of excitement that underlies both big gatherings and small.

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Fancy friends…

This past weekend, we joined a small group of friends and family to celebrate a new beginning. My friend’s handsome son walked her down the aisle to a man whose love for her was evident across the room. From the 33rd floor of a beautiful building in downtown Boston, we enjoyed stunning views. We could see the city splayed out before us as the light gave way to evening. We watched the trees light up below. We danced like no one was watching. We toasted to new beginnings and true love. We laughed in the face of their joy. It was a night I won’t soon forget.

On Facebook the next morning, there was a picture of the bride and three friends. The sight of it brought tears to my eyes. The four of us have walked a long way together. To see this friendship and this moment of joy captured so beautifully was a gift. I will frame this picture to honor and celebrate these friendships.

We are an unlikely group. We are a nurse, a decorator, a teacher, and a counselor. But we knew each other before we were many of these things. We’ve been married and divorced. We’ve weathered storms, have blown apart, and back together. We have a shorthand that few others would understand. We know each other’s stories. We share a history that is ours alone.

Individually, we each share single bonds of friendship born over empty coffee cups, Easter cantatas, small groups, and the simple fact of sharing life in a small church over many years. We’ve been there for each other’s moments of great drama and the simple sweetness of living in community. But this isn’t what brought us together last Saturday night.

There are many people I have loved over the years who I’ve lost touch with. These are people who matter, people whose influence and impact in my life have shaped me in meaningful ways. There are folks I spoke with daily that I haven’t spoken to in years. Not because of a lack of love, but because we just stopped making it a priority. Life moved on.

A few years ago, the four of us decided to prioritize this bond. We went to lunch together. We decided to celebrate birthdays and milestones. We popped corks for graduations (ours and our children’s). We planned day trips to the beach, art museums, broadway shows, and local theater. We showed up for celebrations big and small. Along with our outings, we shared text messages for prayer, asked for help, and showed up for each other in all the ways we could.

I call them my fancy friends. On the outside, it is easy to see why. What isn’t quite as obvious is their depth, their grit, and their fierce faith. These ladies have walked through fire that could have destroyed them. Each one has a story of heartbreak, of sacrifice, and of great love. Each one is showing up, taking responsibility, and living their lives to the fullest.

I hope you have friends you are making time for regularly. Please don’t think that it’s always easy. It can be a hassle. Someone has to make the reservations. Juggling the schedules can be tricky at best. Sometimes you just don’t want to go do that thing you committed to… until you get there. Today, I am grateful for friends who have shown up in my life and who have made time together a priority. I hope you make time for some friends who add some sparkle to your ordinary life.

Thanksgiving…

Most families we know are gathering around the table today. As I write this, last minute preparations are being made, check lists are being marked off, and dashes to the store for a forgotten ingredient are underway. For my family, Thanksgiving falls on a workday. As we do, we made the holiday adjust to our reality and celebrated last weekend. We gathered and feasted and enjoyed one another. Today, we will finish the last of the turkey soup. Continue reading

Six month follow up…

I laid there with my arms over my head, an IV dripping into a vein in the crook of my arm. My knees were bent with a foam wedge under them. As my body moved in and out of the round tube, my body rushed with the chemicals they pumped into my arm. A plastic voice ordered, “take a big breath and hold it.” And then later, “breathe.” While magnets whirred around my body, I could feel the anxiety rising, threatening to close off my airway. Tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. A few minutes later, the Tech said, “are you okay?” I nodded yes, of course. I’m fine. But I thought, I don’t know. That’s why I am here. Continue reading

An act of defiance…

It seems as though the world has become harsher, all sharp corners and ragged edges. The news seems to be all bad these days with more violence, and more hatred than one heart can handle. In the face of all this, it feels like the only option is to withdraw. For me, this reality has left me feeling isolated and afraid to reach out. From this place, it is easier to hold my tongue and keep the peace. And yet this withdrawal has pushed us away from each other, into groups of people who agree with us. Continue reading

An alpaca farmer…

For a dozen years my sweet husband has had a secret love. He’s been dreaming of the day when he might become an alpaca farmer. He fell in love when he helped his cousin on her alpaca farm and has been talking about it ever since. We’ve visited farms. He’s researched online. We’ve talked about the possibilities and discussed the challenges. We purchased our home with the thought that “someday” we might add alpacas. Continue reading

Mountain Day…

Each October, students at my alma mater wait expectantly for the president to call Mountain Day. An annual tradition, the bells ring out to announce the cancelation of the day’s classes. Students spend the day enjoying the glorious autumn countryside. Tradition encourages students to climb a nearby peak where ice cream is served at the top (Hoodsie Cups all around). The view is spectacular, the company is friendly, and the tradition is an important part of the fall semester. Continue reading

Workday…

They gathered, a bit blurry-eyed. It was early for a Saturday morning. Brian was the first to arrive, he is always first. Allie showed up next. Steph and Tyler brought a friend, and Teddy stayed with Auntie Kim. In the early morning gloom, they ate donuts, swigged the coffee and hot chocolate they brought with them. They were here to help their dad regrade the long winding driveway. Ten yards of gravel had been delivered and the bright yellow tractor was on hand for the weekend. They were here to work. Continue reading

Savoring August…

After almost thirty years in New England, I recently realized that although I am a fan of both October and May, it is August that has my heart. From beginning to end, August fills my soul. This year, I have enjoyed each of the 31 days, rolling them around in my mind like penny candy. Although it is my nature to jump ahead, this summer I’ve lingered over the golden light of August and allowed my senses to fully attend to sights, sounds, and delights of late summer. Continue reading