adoption, chronic illness, depression, family, journey, marriage, writing

The ugliest of secrets…

There are so many things… layered things deeply woven within my journey as a wife, as a woman and as a mother. We are subconsciously trained, here in this culture we call home, to look at the beautiful, well put together women and wonder What’s her secret? While also bristling internally about the knowledge of what our secrets are.

I may not know what hers is, but mine- Mine is ugly. It does not lead to put together, it does not lead to beauty.

My secret is the shame attached to every single element of my real, genuine life. My motherhood, daughterhood, marriage, sisterhood… On and on. You tell me a story about your father and then ask me about my own dad. I smile and relay the information, while the secret part beneath the surface that remains unsaid screams the truth- I don’t really know my father. My dad isn’t actually even my dad. He’s someone else’s dad. He loves me, I love him, but our lives are different circles of things now and though we exchange and annual something-or-other, we are pretty separate and that is ok. What ownership do I have of him? None. Fatherless and unvalued, there in lies my secret shame.

Your sister is your best friend, and now you’re asking if I am close with mine? I have several sisters but am close with two of mine. Sisters are the best! Except, gurgling just beneath my horizon there’s more. There is a defect within me, there must be, and the reality is that they aren’t really my sisters. Not beyond the word anyway. I have no one real, that is mine. Shame.

My marriage of twenty-five years, what’s our secret? It hasn’t been perfect. There hasn’t been faithfulness. There hasn’t always been stability, honor, honesty, love… Ease. If you only knew…

Shame… Shame eats away at the fact that my children are not from my womb, shame lives in the many words and perspectives who’ve challenged my motherhood and questioned its validity. Oh, Hallmark of consumer driven holidays, do I deserve a Mother’s Day nod, a celebration, am i even a real mom at all? World, which reiterates over and over a woman’s purpose is to bear children- and Very beginning of the Bible which explains a woman’s curse will be painful childbirth- who am I? What am I? 

My secret is shame. My truths, the REAL truths, they silence the shame. For awhile anyway- but it always comes back. Today- today I see it for what it is.

Shhh, between you and me, tomorrow I may forget again…

(this post is in participation of the FMF prompt on Secret. to see more, visit the link.)

entertainment, family, gratitude, journey, list, marriage, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

I am in love, (of the head over heels variety) with the blossoms on our trees. It is like Michigan woke up one morning and realized it had forgotten to dress in its spring apparel. I know, by now, that there is no “this time of year” sentiment rooted in fact, here in the mitten state. The weather is never the same. Even here, in the just-over-half-way point of May, a huge snow storm could fall on us at any point in time. I know the drill.

Sadly the blossoms are blowing off as quickly as they came. I feel the need to stomp my foot and ask God if the beauty  really has to be so fleeting… Then this might be when God smiles lovingly and points out the huge pimple on my jaw line and I sigh. (imaginary conversations are my specialty)

This week I’ve been lucky to love quite a few things. Some old, some new, and I am super excited to share those things with you…

  • This website is really time-consuming, but super moving. I am a big “fan” (the word seems almost inappropriate) of things which stretch the boundaries of my empathy and ability to relate to others. This is very much one of those things. (Another was this book… And if you happen to be pretty conservative and fear it will be like the Netflix series, I assure you, it is not.)
  • I think the husband & I feel like we watch a fair amount of shows on TV, but in comparison to the national average, we watch a lot less. That being said, I have to be honest and say that I am really glad the few shows I enjoy on regular TV are wrapping up for the season. For the most part, each time I watch a season finale, I find myself grateful.
  • Yellow Box Flip Flops are my life, in the summer. Truth be told, I dream of living somewhere where I can be in them all year long. Their soles just offer so much support. BEST. SHOES. EVER…
  • This sort of thing either annoys you, or your entire day will be made and you just might love me forever. Either way, this is my special weekend gift for you. You’re welcome…
  • I get it, it looks weird. I also get it, Wes Anderson movies are quirky… But seriously, if you like dogs AT ALL, you need to see this film. I knew I would love it, the issue was finding someone to see it with me. And finally, my husband reluctantly went, and really enjoyed it.

I have a really big week, coming up. There are a lot of stressful things, and some really exciting ones… I could use (and will take) all of the positive thoughts/energy/prayers you’re willing to share!

I’m not going to lie though, i am really excited for this… I wish I cared about the actual event, but I just don’t. I enjoyed the last one. My daughters and I made a big party out of it, and it was really fun/special. This time around though, I just have to admit: Will Ferrell makes everything better.

books, entertainment, family, food, friendship, gratitude, journey, list, marriage

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

This was one of those weeks where the good things were really good, and the less than great things were pretty low. As I’m typing this I am on a post recording high, from an episode very near and dear to me. Every single time I sit down to do an episode, it feels like the world opens up a bit wider and it somehow makes a little more sense. It is almost as though there are these full circle moments coming into clear focus, and leaving me in awe. In and of itself, the show is a very technically flawed free app. Beneath that though, where the gooey, glorious heart of it lives, there is something so much bigger than anything I could orchestrate and I am so grateful to be a part of it. This show is a humble little blip in the deep and ravenous sea of podcasters, sponsors and expense sheets. We are an every growing community of women, filled with a fire to make something better simply by being real and supporting one another. It is so odd to think, but that really does make the world better for someone.

If I am never a part of anything else, I think this podcast will never stop being my favorite.

Beyond that, it was a week which included cupcakes, coffee & sharing with women, family dinners, sunshine, pulling the summer clothes out of storage, packing the winter ones away, so much criticism, breaking pointes/boundaries, changes, possibilities, acceptance, so much tension dissipating into true peace and some of the most raw and transparent conversations i’ve had in ages… This blissful Thursday night/Friday morning finds me filled with gratitude and trust.

Beyond that:

  • Boise Boys. If you haven’t watched this, you should. It likely won’t evoke longings for home, like it does for us, but it is honestly just so fascinating. We don’t know either one of them, but we have about a thousand personal/real-life connections to Luke Caldwell, so we practically know him. Right?!?!
  • Goat Milk lotion. Have you used it? I am a constant hand cream user, and the problem isn’t the cream but it’s my skin. Super thirsty, I guess. Anyway, we were out of town on Sunday and I found a sample bottle of this soft scented goat milk lotion on a shop counter. I put a small dab on my hands and probably didn’t use lotion again until Monday. It was amazing and now, now I must acquire some. (note: adding to list of reasons why I need goats in my life.)
  • On Saturday I made Blackberry Cobbler. I totally want to claim that I made it for my cousin, and I really want to claim it is because I am so thoughtful and remembered that it was her favorite and that my grandmother always used to make it for her. Truth is, I didn’t remember that… (At least not consciously) also, I have never made blackberry cobbler before. My grandmother’s peach cobbler has been a stable in our summers, forever, but blackberry has never crossed my mind. Then I made it, and it was heaven. This summer we will not have cobbler- this summer will become the Summer of Cobbler. You’ll see…
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society Trailer. It appears that Netflix will have it in August and honestly, I cannot wait. I loved this book and am loving the trailer so much. (PLUS it’s like a Downton reunion!)
  • I have developed this odd little bad habit of setting beverages on the back of my couch. Where we are currently living happens to be the very first living room where my couch is flush against a wall. I eventually began to utilize the very convenient “shelf” that is the its back. It’s not a big deal really, no spills… But, my swell bottle and coffee cups sometimes scuff the paint on the wall. There have been times my husband has come home from a business trip to a few forgotten (empty) coke zero cans planted there. My husband found a few pieces of reclaimed wood and he put together a humble little “sofa table”. We didn’t need much, basically just a holder for Misty’s pluthera of beverages. (#drymouth) It was the sweetest thing and I LOVE it. As if the gesture wasn’t sweet enough, he also built an outlet, complete with USB plugs, right into it. Seriously, this guy is the coolest…
chronic illness, depression, family, friendship, gifts, gratitude, journey, list, marriage, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Of all the sunshine goodness that began this month of May, there was a little balance struck with sore throat/chronic illness junk. I’m secretly wanting to lay in my bed and binge netflix with an abundance of throat lozenges and Coke Zero. With the husband away on business, and these two crazy dogs needing things like food, walks and playtime, this isn’t likely going to happen anytime soon…

With May upon us, there is a sense of hope around. Do you feel it too?

This week, I’m loving…

  • This mom t-shirt may be my very favorite thing EVER.
  • These sunnies are FABULOUS! My mother’s day will be shared with a red pair because, well, they are so fun! (and because, if Michigan cooperates, we will be spending the day in the sunshine!
  • My sister Jennie got me to watch this show when it first premiered, and I really liked it. But then, life happened and I stopped watching it 4 episodes in. I did dive back in last week, and wrapped it up last night. I really loved so much about it, and have developed some firm opinions about how I think the second season should unfold…
  • since I learned I can’t do Keto, I have also not been feeling the best. So, unfortunately I am apparently loving carbs. No links. I do not recommend loving things such as toast, Dave’s Killer Bagels and peanut butter sandwiches…
  • My husband put this on my dash last week. I am a pretty regular user of the Marco Polo app and this mount has made all the difference! (thanks, husband!)

Also, don’t forget The Collective has a new episode this week! It is my favorite, so far! Good stuff!

Go into your weekend with zest and a spirit of openness… Amazing things await!

adoption, entertainment, family, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage

When two young, married kids learned the hard way that starting a family wasn’t an automatic given, life turned harder than either of them had imagined possible. Through miscarriage, bouts of infertility and a traumatically failed foster care adoption, hope became this certain thing they each believed did not belong to them…

Anyone who knows me, or us, knows that this is our story. This is also the story of so many other couples. Maybe a few details would be different but the key elements- the vital heartbreak and hopelessness- that is the same… It was that journey, the one which felt the length of centuries, but was really only the length of seven years, which set the stage for our actual parenthood. When the foster babies we’d believed were the answer to so many Please, God, give us a family prayers were taken, my husband emphatically and protectively decided that enough was enough. He was done, we were done. No more hopes mutilated, no more trying to have faith that my achingly empty arms would soon be full… No more.

And so, fast forward about five years. We had very hesitantly signed with an adoption agency. It was all an awkward and cautious dance, really… Within ourselves, with those around us, with dreams and ideas, prayers, and especially with each other. It is often talked about how the loss of a child is seldom something a marriage survives and I am here to say that infertility treats a marriage the very same way. There are just genetic ways that women tend to process, cope and grieve which often seem foreign to a man. This is also true from men to women.Those times when a couple need to draw together, often leads to them pulling far apart. Immersing ourselves back into the family journey, no matter how delicately we tiptoed, was a terrifying attempt. We were each so jaded and scarred from the time before. Just as we were both settling in to that same-page way of things, and trying to move towards whatever path this adoptive journey led us- a call comes asking us to consider taking a four-year old little girl. She’s unsafe for other young children to be around. She’s been hurt. She’s aggressive and reactive. She’s coming from every imaginable trauma. Please, please take her. Now.

The past bites us viciously when we least expect it. Carnal instincts are there, within us, no matter how hard we suppress them. When you unite a mother with a child who is a viciously shattered, wounded little bird- something happens. I never knew how protective I could be. Would be…

Our adoption of that little girl took far too long. With every investment of thousands of dollars, the path would only lead to an unscalable brick wall, closed-door and the urgings of another avenue followed by double the dollar signs. She was four when she came home to us, and thirteen when a judge finally made us a legal family. For nine years we were bled dry, gave birth to debt and lived in a constant state of fear. Hope sometimes speckled our lifelines, but mostly we waited for the big-bad-whatever to ruin everything we were fighting for. With each closed-door, we would have the talk…

What if it doesn’t work out. What if someone takes her. What if we never get to adopt her. What if? What if? What if? The seeds which had been planted when those twin foster babies were taken, as I lay a mangled mess of salty tears and agony on the floor bloomed, and they bloomed vibrantly. We’d flee. We’d run. We would protect her at all cost, no matter what came her way. We’d face prison. We’d find the money and hire someone to make sure no one from those who had hurt her would ever have the chance again.

There were a lot of frustrations. There were season upon season of sleepless nights. There were a lot of Oh gosh, it’s happening- this is it, type scares. I grew far too familiar with the feeling of blood running cold. I grew far too comfortable with the idea of doing what I “had to”, even if what I had to might be wrong. My ethical compass, typically solid, grew blurred when it came to our little girl.

Thankfully, I never actually had to make the decision. Even now, years later, when I look back I realize I have absolutely no idea if I really could have gone to such extents… What I am certain of is that I gave up everything and devoted my life to give her love and keep her safe. I also know that there is no way I could have made it through even a month of that journey, much less nearly a decade, without a solid faith. God has never promised me that he’d hand over anything and everything I asked for, but what He has given me is a peace when peace seems impossible, and a quiet security and strength when the world around me raged in uncontrollable stormy chaos.

I shared this story as an experience about a relevant time, in my life, when I struggled with my moral boundaries and what I knew was right or wrong, for me. This post is in partnership with the film Wraith from writer-director Michael O. Sajbel (One Night With the King).

Wraith (rāth) noun: a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen
after, or shortly before, their death
Something’s very wrong in the Lukens’ house. After living uneventfully for years in their historic home, the Lukens family have
somehow awakened a ghostly presence. Who is this frightening spirit and why won’t leave their 14 year-old daughter, Lucy, alone? Everything changed when Dennis and Katie Lukens discovered they were pregnant
again. Expecting in your 40’s is always high-risk and dangerous, so when the Lukens
decide all options are on the table – including termination – the unexpected starts to
happen. Sinister forces are now conspiring against the family. But is this eerie,
wraith-like spirit actually trying to haunt them…or help them?
Wraith is available on all VOD platforms and Blu-ray/DVD May 8