the little things: grow old with you (kate gallagher)

Guest post Tuesday, guest post Tuesday!  Today’s words will surely put a smile on your face …and remind you that the little things really are the big things.  Enjoy these words from the girl I shared a Claire’s BFF necklace with in elementary school, the lovely Kate Gallagher.  I sure like her, and you will as well. 

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A little over two years ago, I was awakened in the morning as I have become accustomed to by my husband’s alarm on his iPhone …which was about 30 minutes before I needed to get up and an hour before my husband needed to get up. At that point, we had been married for five years and together for 12. For most of those years, I’d been awakened early by that damn alarm even though my husband would hit snooze over and over again, falling back asleep each time – something I have never been able to do. I’ve never been a snooze person, nor have I ever been able to fall asleep after being awoken by a blaring alarm clock.

So, on that morning, I had become increasingly annoyed and I finally barked in my most agitated voice, “What’s your plaaaan, CURT?” And he responded, half asleep, “Grow old with you.” I immediately regretted my snotty tone. It was the sweetest thing I’d heard come out of his mouth in a long time. Not because my husband isn’t a nice guy, because he is, but in spite of how long we’ve been together and how much we talk about our future, neither of us ever really say things like he said in bed that morning.

I come from a family with divorce(s) on both sides. My birth parents divorced when I was at an age too early to remember much. A later divorce on my mom’s side completely blindsided me. And now at 35, I’m at an age where many of my friends have been married and divorced already. It’s all around; sometimes it seems inescapable. It’s something I don’t dwell on consciously, yet I do fear it.

When my husband interrupted my morning rant with his sweet sentiment, it was probably the first time since our wedding day that the commitment we made to each other, for life, was voiced. On our wedding day, surrounded by our closest family and friends, I felt as loved, protected and invincible as I had ever felt. What he said reminded me that we made a vow to love each other till death do us part. While wedding vows are no guarantee for a lifelong marriage, remembering that day and that power I felt behind the words we said to each other gave me a little pep in my step for the rest of my morning.

My husband has all sorts of annoying habits, like waking me up before either of us need to be up, every day. But I bring my share of annoyances to our relationship too. His ability to wake up in that positive and even loving frame of mind, in the face of my crankiness, was a great reminder for me to change my perspective and to appreciate those little moments that are so unexpected! He probably doesn’t even remember saying those four words, yet two years later, recalling them brings me quite a bit of happiness. I hope I return the favor to him someday :)

backpackingKate lives in Denver with her husband of 7 years and two Brittany spaniels. She loves to cook, eat, hike, camp, bike, walk her dogs and read non-fiction while also fitting in lots of DIY projects with Curt.

wordy wedding foibles.

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A few weeks ago, I had the best seat in the house: I married my cousin.  Actually, let’s clarify the aforementioned phrase: I officiated my cousin’s wedding to her real-life Ken-doll.  But letting grammar bygones be bygones, when someone you’ve known since birth actually, finally, legitimately ties the knot, and you’re privileged not only to cheer them on, but you’re also allowed and invited and encouraged to utter a few words into the microphone, it’s nothing short of magical.

Even if you accidentally don’t use your former English teacher eyes to ensure your cut-and-paste of the vows is correctly worded.  Because up until that point,  everything’s gone smoothly: you’ve welcomed the crowd and you’ve gotten a few chuckles here and there.  A homily has been spoken (and, you think, you feel, you really-do-believe that those words formulated in your wordy-insides were written just for them).  And you’ve successfully recovered a fumble after pausing a bit too long after asking Ken-doll if he takes Kait to be his lawfully wedded wife.

I do!  He’s enthusiastic.  He takes this husband thing seriously.  But we’re only one sentence in …wait a minute, you think to yourself, are you supposed to say your “I do’s” after every sentence, or merely at the end of the avowing paragraph?  You pause again.  You’ve only done this once before: you can’t remember such itty, bitty details such as these.  Meanwhile, the audience wonders if your eight-month pregnant self has really lost it now – like, emotionally, can’t-handle-it, about-to-break-into-hysterics.  You pause some more. You think hard, but between being knocked up and having spoken at camp to middle schoolers in the six days’ previous, you’re starting to feel a little tired.  You confer with the judge standing to your right: Uh, how many times does he say “I do?”  The judge points a lone index finger upward.  You proceed.

And then it’s her turn.  As you begin to read the perfectly worded vows of affirmation, the words that have been spoken for centuries, perhaps, by those entering into the sacrament of marriage, you feel a giddy, ethereal sense of elation.  Man, I’m good at this marrying stuff, you think to yourself.  You, your belly, Ken and Kait, and the rest of the community gathered around surely are Cloud Nine witnesses to this blessed, perfect moment.

“Kaitlin, do you take Ken to be your lawfully wedded wife?”  

You look your cousin in the eyes.

You tilt your head to the side, sheepishly, hopelessly, romantically in love with this moment, with your spouse, with the perfection of shared union.

And then it hits you, just as it hits Kait and Ken and one hundred fifty other attendees: Mama didn’t edit her Word document all the way.  Oh snaps.  A giggle erupts.  Laughter fills the outdoor air.  You hear a snort, and you whisper a “Help me, Jesus,” but forgetting the microphone is right in front of you, so too the rest of the audience enters into what has suddenly become the holiest of petitions.

But really, you’re grateful.  You’re grateful that laughter has finally invaded this place, just as you’re grateful that it was you who made the wordy foible instead of she who wears the lacy white dress.  But mostly you’re just grateful that your brain can still operate in lightening-quick speed, ensuring all future nouns and pronouns in the remainder of the paragraph have properly been fixed.

For of this memories are made.

So, need a wedding officiant?

I’m ba-ack!  Thanks for your grace as we traveled here, there and everywhere …and as I continue to rest when it comes to growing a small human.  So, have you ever had a wordy foible such as this?

the ladies in waiting (in her shoes).

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I look down at my feet: they’re puffier and a little wider than usual, but what, really, is “usual” these days?  The left and the right, well, they haven’t worn heels for a good couple of months now, though not for lack of want.  Instead, they’re happiest when propped up on a chair, when resting instead of moving, when still and submissive instead of pushing full-steam ahead, instead of hitting the ground running.

Like sledgehammers attached to the end of leggy appendages, they’re kind of my ladies-in-waiting.

Because really, every part of me – my ceaseless mind, my restless heart, my growing belly – is in wait.  Baby Brother will arrive sometime the latter half of August, we think, and until then we play the Great Waiting Game.  We embrace the liminal space, the in-between time of not quite knowing, of wondering and watching.  This whole idea of liminal space, or liminalityas coined by Franciscan friar and author, Richard Rohr, is nothing short of beauty-filled to me: it gives word and definition and meaning to the tapping impatience of my toes, to the elongated, reaching stretch of my calves, my ankles, my feet.

A thousand times a day, it seems, my mind is submerged in questions (with these that follow solely about the baby – forget the rest of my internal musings): Who will he be, and what will his little personality eventually morph into?  When will he actually arrive?  Will my love for him be immediate, snap-of-the-fingers quick, or will it grow with time?  Can I truly ever love him as much as I love his big brother?  And whoever thought parenting more than one child was a good idea?  For when there are more questions than answers, when we know that change is on the horizon but it’s just not there yet, that’s liminal space.  When we feel like we’re living in the gray – even if we believe The Gray an ethereal place to be – we embrace liminality.  We lean into waiting.  We grab hold of the ellipses.  Maybe we even whisper the words of U2’s “40,” a song that loosely echoes Psalm 40’s waiting theme:

I waited patiently for the Lord,

He inclined and heard my cry

He lifted me up, out of the pit

Out of the miry clay.

 Though not listed above, my favorite part of the melody comes with the chorus, when Bono asks (and the audience repeats) the same simple question, “How long?”  How long am I to sing this song?  How long am I to be in this waiting space?  At one point or another, it’s the song we each find ourselves singing – as evidenced by concertgoers while on tour for U2’s 1983 album, War.  “40” ended the night.  And the haunting chorus “How long?  …How long?” continued its echoing lament long after the musicians left the stage.

Because it might not be our song today, but it might be the song we start singing tomorrow, or on tomorrow’s tomorrow.  And when “How long?” begins its wail, we take heart, knowing we’re not alone.  We’re not alone in waiting for news of the diagnosis, and we’re not alone in our loneliness.  We’re not alone in the newness of transition, and we’re not alone in the pain of the infertility and in the pain of labor and delivery alike.

And this, I suppose, gives my weary sledgehammer, ladies-in-waiting feet hope – for they know they’re not alone.

Today’s post originally appeared on my friend Ginger’s blog - click here to check out her words and to see the full “In Her Shoes” series.  I think you’ll love it!  In the meantime, how are you living in a liminal place?  And (more importantly), how badly do your feet want to don a pair of heels?

the little things: we’re going on an adventure (marlene hekkert).

Oh friends, you are in for a treat today.  Not only do you get to see her 5th grade Dorothy Hammill bowl-cut self, but you get the opportunity to know and learn and grow from one of my newly-favorite people, Marlene.  So, buckle up and take a deep breath as you enter into our friend’s story of a little thing today.  

I’ll never forget those words my Mom spoke to me on that crisp afternoon in the Spring of my tenth year of life. I was standing outside of Ordway Elementary School with the rest of my fifth grade classmates as our teacher gave a demonstration. I was oblivious to my Mom being escorted by a school administrator as she quickly approached me.

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I was, of course, shocked to see my Mom. But more than any emotion I may have felt at the time, all I remember is her saying to me, “We’re going on an adventure,” and then being quickly pulled away from my classmates as we briskly walked to her car. “Are we going to Disneyland,” I thought? What kind of adventure were we going on? I got giddy at the thought of it.

As soon as I opened the car door, I saw the solemn look on my Dad’s face. And then his words felt like a kick to the stomach as he said, “We had a house fire.” No fanfare. Just the few words needed to get straight to the point.

An adventure? This was the adventure? My deflated self slumped into the backseat next to my older brother as we drove home, digesting the news of how a small kitchen fire turned our house ablaze. I remember the kitchen looking like an episode from the Twilight Zone. Even my plastic horses in my bedroom had melted into a blob. Over the next eight months, my family lived in a condo while we replaced and hoped to recover what was lost.

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I think back to that time and I’m amazed at my Mom’s words during that pivotal moment for our family. She could have been shrieking and crying, throwing me into anxiety as she picked me up from school. Instead, she chose to see this fire as an adventure, knowing and believing that what was most valuable – our family – was not lost and that we would get through this ordeal together, adventure-style. Her positive and upbeat spirit helped turn something tragic into an invaluable lesson on gratitude and choosing to see things in a different light.

My Dad also modeled something small in a huge way during that season. He never pointed a finger, spoke an accusing word, or blamed my Mom for the fire. His actions spoke love and grace and commitment to my Mom, modeling God’s forgiveness in such a tangible way for me as a young girl.

The small things truly are the big things: my mom’s choice of words; my dad’s actions. Each modeled God’s character and truth that I pray I can emulate to my husband and son, friends, and neighbors. Life truly is an adventure.

bio shot 2Marlene vows to never again revert to her 10-year-old Dorothy Hammill bowl haircut or to leave a hot pan of oil unattended on the kitchen stove. She’s an editor, occasional writer, and little boy-chaser who lives in the Bay Area with her husband, 3-year-old boy, and crazy chocolate lab. Read more on her blog by clicking here - otherwise, leave a comment and encourage Marlene today!  (And if you’re new here, spread the love by cheering on be, mama. be today!) 

the little things: rough edges (melissa macdonald).

Tuesday, Tuesday!  It’s here again – and if you haven’t been able to tell, although other commentary on the blog has reached its summer hiatus, Tuesdays continue.  So, read about how one little meal changed a woman’s life …and be encouraged by the words of my sister-in-law, Melissa, in the meantime!  Read, share and cheer her on today!  

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My husband, Brandon, and I lived in Hawaii for six years after we were first married.  He was in the Navy, and was stationed at Pearl Harbor.  For the majority of the first two years of our marriage, I was a Navy wife, living on my own, as Brandon went in and out to sea on board a submarine.

When we first got married, I was not a true believer of anything religious. I really had no use for an all knowing deity in my life.  I did recognize a need for a community, and frankly, I couldn’t find worthwhile friends in the Wives Club that was established for the women who were left behind for months at a time.  The first underway I endured after Brandon and I got married left me feeling terrified.  Our small home was on the far side of the island, and it had been broken into several times.

But right before Brandon left for a 25-day underway, we had dinner with some friends of his.  I walked in shy, which isn’t my personality, and sat filled with apprehension as dinner was passed around the table.  I didn’t know at the time that this dinner was going to light a fire in my life.  

The wife, upon hearing of my plight, immediately offered to let me sleep in her guest bedroom while Brandon was away.  Her home was much closer to my work and therefore much closer to comfort for me, so I jumped at a chance to stay with virtual strangers.

During these 25 days with strangers, we became friends.  They introduced me to their friends, and invited me to their church.  In an effort to not be rude, I went to church with them each Sunday, and was cordial at dinners with the people who were part of their community.

Eventually, their community started to blend into my community as well.  We started have weekly dinners where we ate a lot and talked about everything.  And at the heart of these dinners was Jesus.  I started to feel a tug on my heart I had never felt before during any of my other religious explorations.

After awhile, the original couple moved away, but the group (with a whopping six adults), moved to meeting at our house.  Every Monday we would potluck a huge meal and enjoy each other.  We grew to know one another on an intimate level.  We knew each other’s fears and celebrations; we knew when one another was hurting.  We were never afraid to grow, to allow our rough edges to be seen.   When we had a question, no matter how absurd to our own ears, it was accepted with love and knowledge.  Eventually, our Mondays turned into Tuesday chats on the phone when one of us was in need, or Wednesday afternoon coffee dates to discuss the week’s topic, and even Friday afternoon pedicures for laughter and a feeding of unlikely friendships.

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The group eventually grew even larger.  We were a hodge podge of people from church, people from the dog park, people from Brandon’s submarine.  We really had nothing in common on the outside, yet the conversations we had each week, at the feet of an older woman, shaped us in ways we never imagined.  No matter that there were moments when our feeble human hearts would say, “our group is big enough…”, the seams would open up just a little bit more, our table would somehow get just a little bit bigger, Jesus would show that He had room.

I eventually, after weeks and months of sharpening, loved Jesus back.  We watched others have their moment of accepting grace and mercy, sitting on couches that were filthy, but comfortable.  We ate meals together, and we laughed out loud as things like sex, rock and roll, and Jesus were discussed in detail.  We created friendships and “families” that spread over the country (and Canada), that will be part of our lives forever.

The first meal with virtual strangers shaped my life.

1455110_10153600684865204_875699664_nMelissa is a wife and a mom, a friend and an elementary school teacher.  She and her husband, Brandon now reside in Idaho Falls, Idaho with their son, Jared, and their dog, Sugar.  She loves her family more than anything, doesn’t need coffee to survive, and has a newfound love for the touring musical Book of Mormon.  Leave a comment and encourage our friend today!  

 

the little things: the shopping cart (jen baumgarten).

Today you get to hear from one of my oldest college-days friends – you know, the kind you hung out for hours with in her (dreamy) three-person suite?  The one whose basement you lived with in Seattle for two months because you had nowhere else to go?  I’m grateful for our friendship over the years and over the miles – and you too will appreciate Jen’s words today.  

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It all started in the middle of nowhere which is kind of ironic coming from a girl who grew up in a small town in North Dakota.  To this day I don’t recognize that as the middle of nowhere. We were pulling over somewhere in South Dakota – nearer to Nebraska than North Dakota – so that I could go to the bathroom. Another irony. I never have to stop for the restroom on road trips. I’m only 35. No kids. Teacher. I have a bladder as good as the largest balloon you’ve seen, and yet, two weeks ago, I thought I was going to burst and quickly became a young girl begging, “Daddy, please, please find a bathroom for me soon!” as if he could just place a gas station up ahead in the middle of nowhere out of sheer will.

Within a few miles, however, there it was. A gas station. In the middle of nowhere.

I saw it right away as we pulled into the parking lot. A shopping cart. We all know the kind. It was full. Dirty. Overflowing. Resting along the window of the little gas station. My mind wondered, “Seriously? Out here? In the middle of nowhere?” as we pulled up and parked right in front of the weary shopping cart.

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As soon as I hopped out of the car and headed for the door, I saw him. His head bowed into one hand, under his fur-lined hood. The dark, long down jacket hung over his body. The last couple of bites of a slice of pizza occupied his other hand. His boots, untied, looked like they wanted to cry. I hustled into the bathroom still wondering what the story of the man with the shopping cart might be.

Confession time: I have a slight fear when it comes to homeless people. Don’t get me wrong, I also have a strong desire to love them. My efforts, though, over time, have been everything from meek to courageous, and the consequences have also ranged from simple to scary. This puts me in a personal conundrum - do I help? How do I help? Do I say anything? What do I say? Will I be rejected? Probably the most crucial question, the truth of my fear, sneaks in at the end of the list. While I don’t want it to be about me, I have experienced the rejection, and at times it has been humiliating, or scary, or disappointing. I am human. Those are feelings I don’t welcome with open arms, even though I know how much they have grown me.

For some reason, that day, in the middle of nowhere, I was stronger than my fears. As I perused the convenience store after I had used the restroom, I filled my arms. Water. Sandwich meat and cheese. Crackers. Popcorn. A bit of chocolate. As I walked up to the cash register, the man walked outside to his beloved grocery cart. I was glancing quickly back and forth between the cashier and this stranger who I was feeling hyper attached to. I believe the total of my armload came to $20 and some odd change. As soon as our transaction was complete, I grabbed the bag of food and water and headed out the door. The man was just trudging away from me across the parking lot – it was well over 80* and yet his hood was up, full body covered, head down.

“Excuse me, Sir?” I felt my voice shake as I faced this ridiculous fear that made spreading love about me, rather than about love. I repeated myself more loudly, but no less shakily.

His shuffle steps halted and he slowly turned to meet my gaze, the question, “Who, Me?” clear in his eyes. “I just got this bag of water and some snacks that I would like to send with you. It is so warm out here, we could all use some water for our journeys.”

“No, no, no, I am going to take a break from walking today, and I have some money in my pocket for when I need something,” he shared with a toothless smile.

“That’s good. I am glad you have money, but I would really like to send this with you, and I have already purchased it, so please, may I put it in your cart?” my racing heart unsure of how to navigate the potential argument that would be so easy to have with a friend, but felt so fragile with this stranger.

A smile broke onto his face, as my parents stood and watched. “Well, if you really want to,” he replied. Yes, YES, I really want to. I set the bag in his cart and wished him a safe journey. We turned and went our separate ways, but he is in my heart, constantly reminding me. I REALLY want to love like this, always.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t take money to love others well, and I am not one to say what amount of money is a lot or a little. God knows there have been times when I did not have $20 to spare. However, as I sit and drink a Caribou Coffee, I know that I am in a place in my life where I can choose to spend $20 on me without thinking about it. But that day, $20 spent on a stranger who may or may not have needed my help, was $20 that reminded me that I want to love others, all others, well. Courageously. Fearlessly. Gently. Openly.

773728_10151638759489832_1166225170_oOriginally from North Dakota, Jen also spent a good chunk of her life in the Northwest, although she now hails from Minneapolis.  A teacher by day, she’s also a proud new homeowner, loves her family dearly, and is a friend to all.  You can get to know Jen’s heart even more by clicking here to follow her blog.  You can also become Her Biggest Fan by following her on Twitter or on Instagram. In the meantime, she’s particularly curious what it means to courageously, fearlessly, gently and openly love others well in your life. What have you done today to love others well? Have you loved a stranger today? Join the conversation and encourage Jen by leaving a comment today!  

what i’m into :: june 2014

Oh friends, it’s been a lovely-wonderful-busy couple of weeks here on the homestead – so much so that you’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little absent as of late …which is exactly what should happen in these summertime months, if you ask me!  You will see Guest Post Tuesday every week, and the occasional other post that happens to strike my fancy – but in the meantime, I’m linking up with Lovely Leigh for the monthly What I’m Into series.  Join us!  

Speaking at camp!  Love Frontier Ranch.  Love middle school kids.  Love this staff.

Speaking at camp! Love Frontier Ranch. Love middle school kids. Love this staff.

I read…

Holy Is the Day (Weber 5/5) – I heard her speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and loved what she had to say.  Her book did not disappoint.

The Goldfinch (Tartt, 4/5) – LONGEST NOVEL OF MY LIFE.  Well, Les Mis still wins, but this is a close second.

The Prophet (Gibran, 3/5) – While I wanted to like this better, it just wasn’t my favorite.

God’s Hotel (Sweet, 3/5) – The idea of writing a book about Laguna Honda, an alms hospital is fascinating – in actually, it got a little too political for my taste.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1 and #2 (Riordan, 3/5) -

Attachments (Rowell (4/5) – RAINBOW ROWELL FOR PRESIDENT!  I’m happy to note that she doesn’t just stick to YA.  Loved it.

Free (Scandrette, 4/5) – Read this if you want to step into financial freedom, with a spiritual background.  Don’t read it a) on Kindle or b) if you feel like you’ve already got a hold on this in your life.

The Honest Toddler (Laditan, 4/5) – Okay, seriously – HILARIOUS.  Thank you, Honest Toddler, for your excellent parenting advice.  I will never try and put myself first again.  Ever.

I’m reading…  Handing the Truth, Everything Belongs, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3, To the Lighthouse, Night Music.  

I wore…  Oodles of maternity gear.  But – be not afraid! – I’m currently sporting a non-maternity summer dress that normally rests at my knees but for pregnant purposes is currently hiked up halfway up my legs.  (It’s also a we’re-not-leaving-the-house-for-the-rest-of-the-day kind of afternoon).

I wrote…  Six talks for a week at camp!  The homily for my dear cousin’s wedding!  Among other articles and the slow chapter-by-chapter book progression (exclamation point).  

I'm a marry-er and bury-er!

I’m a marry-er and bury-er!

I ate…  Veggie polenta.  Shrimp scampi.  Blueberry muffins with Greek yogurt.  Popsicles, ice cream and other delectable summer treats.

Le bebe?  Little Caramel in the womb still doesn’t have a name.  But he is 32 weeks along and growing like a champ.  (According to Baby Center, he weighs 3.5 pounds and is the size of a jicama …which I’m pretty sure is a vegetable no human on earth has ever purchased, but for the already-prepared slices in your local grocery aisle).

Old friends are the best kind of friends.  (Oh, and pregnant, too).

Old friends are the best kind of friends. (Oh, and pregnant, too).

And I laughed a hearty belly-laugh at this: 

Cuz, well, I am.

What about you?  What have you read and wrote and DONE this past month?  And how’s your belly, pregnant or not, looking these days? (Do some abs for me – thanks!)