Focusing on what is…

If I throw a party and 30 people tell me they are coming, I will still grieve the several who say they can’t make it. If I write a paper and it earns an A-, I will focus on the points I lost. If I follow my fitness plan and walk two days this week, I will brood about the day I missed. If I am forced to choose between two good options, I will often pine over the one left behind. If I am appreciated and loved by five people, I will still focus on the one I can’t charm. The topic doesn’t really matter, I will inevitably focus on what isn’t.

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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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Advent…

I’ve been thinking about the way the twinkle lights on the houses on my drive home each night brighten the long winding road. Lights strung over the roof line, across the fence, or along the front porch provide cheerful relief to the dark and gloomy drive. The thirty-seven miles between my office and my house afford me the chance to appreciate the way the light brightens the darkness. I am grateful. Continue reading

What I want…

At this time of year, as the calendar accelerates toward the holidays, I’ve been known to lose my footing. I never decided to over extend us financially, but I couldn’t decide if it was enough. You know, enough gifts, enough money, enough magic. I didn’t want to wake up on Christmas morning feeling hung over from too much… everything. Too many cookies, too much rich food, too many late nights and early mornings, and too many parties, events, and outings.  I didn’t want my children to groan, “No mom, not pizza again.” I didn’t want to wish away the wonder of the season, but the pace and scope of my expectations pressed in until I felt crushed by them. I didn’t want to be crabby and cross with the people I love best, but I was pulled thin across too much and they were the ones who came up empty. Continue reading

Little things…

Fall is coming to a close around here. We’ve moved through the darkest, rainiest month. Everyone else complained about the gloom. The wet made me feel like home. The deep cold and dark pushed us inside, the wood stove’s glow pushes back against the raw damp. This season of transition moves us steadily toward the dark cold of winter. Continue reading

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

Light in the darkness…

In my family, we are counting down the days until the end of 2018. By any account, it has been a grueling year. We’ve said heart breaking goodbyes, faced life shattering diagnoses, and found that there is still time for another curve ball to be thrown. As the hits have kept coming, we’ve lived through two new cancer diagnosis in the last month… We just keep moving forward. We simply don’t know what else to do. 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