Don't You Cry.

“Ding, ding,” goes her Hello Kitty bell as she peddles hard around the track. Her bike flops lopsidedly from one rickety training wheel to the other. She doesn’t want to take them off yet. The sun is hot on our backs and the air is painfully dry.

This is where we live now. It still doesn’t feel like it.

My phone is in the purple and white basket clipped onto the front of her bike; it’s playing Guns N' Roses' Don’t Cry as we circle the track, waiting for her brother's practice to be over. I’m humming along and pretending Axl is singing to console me, (and also pretending that the lyrics are not largely a bunch of relationship garbage – I mean genius – I mean garbage.)

She is excited to have the important job of carrying my phone, especially whilst it blares music. Happily, she dings her bell along like the 6th member of the band. We just need some tight American-flag biker shorts and a lot of pomp and then we'd be all set out here.

The months since moving to this place have been long and difficult; the changes have been a constant struggle, launching me into yet another "difficult phase" of my adult life. Has there been anything but a succession of difficult phases? 

Well, so, this is what I’ve come to... “bumping” a 1991 hit from a four-year-old’s bicycle when I really do feel like crying at 4:00 in the afternoon?  

I fear I keep repeating myself, but gosh life is hard. It’s hard with really, truly big problems at a lot of times, and a lot of other times we take our small problems and inflate them into bigness.

Today, I am tired of this sadness so biting. And while I’m at it, I’m tired of limping for the last six years and ending every day in pain. I’m tired of nerve damage and hot flashes and treatment side effects and…  and parenting failures, and... I’m tired.

We all grow weary of our own burdens at times, don't we? I know so many of you, dear friends, struggle with your disappointment, your loneliness, your heartache, your stress, your pain. Maybe you also need someone to tell you today, “don’t you cry,” or hey, “go ahead and cry” - whichever it may be that you need.

So while I ironically seek some console from infamously self-destructive, hedonistic 90's rock-stars, I know it's actually humility, realistic expectations, and outward focus that will push me through.

I hope it will for you too.

I hope you still walk; peddle; ding your bell; play your music.

And of course, even though sometimes it doesn't feel like anything, would that we remember “There’s a heaven above you baby.”

Sometimes that's all there is.

Guns N'Roses: Don't Cry. Written by Duff Rose Mckagan, Izzy Stradlin, Matt Sorum, Saul Hudson, W. Axl Rose • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group


Like a Weaned Child

I’m a few paces behind my lanky 8 yr old as the office lady leads him around the unfamiliar school. His thin shoulders are hunched forward and he’s not making eye contact. Each time she speaks to him, he nods his head with an only-slightly-perceptible movement.

His face is brave though - so brave. I don’t understand how he is not crying. I am.

Visions of the beautiful, familiar elementary school we said goodbye to just last week are haunting me. I want that back for him. I want it all back. I want to have not had to say goodbye to such a place as was our home that I loved. I don’t want to be standing in this loud, hot hallway right now, outside a second grade classroom I’ve never seen before and discretely wiping tears into my cheeks.

How will he remember where to go tomorrow morning on his own? Will anyone sit with him at lunch? What will recess be like? ...Why are we making him do this?

My throat keeps tightening into sadness in the coming days as I try to push through the newness of so many life changes I wasn’t looking for. And when the tears do come for my brave 8 year old who misses his old friends, his old teacher, his old everything, I can’t choke back from joining in with him. "I just watch the kids play. I don’t know how to play with them. I want to go home," he tells me.

So do I. Even though we chose to make this move to be with family, I feel a bit lost and lonely amidst them right now. Oh, I know it will get better. But with 7 moves already under my belt since marriage, I am ill-prepared for how awesomely difficult #8 is proving to be. There wasn’t supposed to be a #8. And I really, really liked #7.

By week two, my son has gained the confidence to join in the games at his new school, to say, “Hey, can you teach me how to play that?” He doesn’t fight going to school in the morning, (well, not any more than he normally would anyway.) He goes several days in between pulling out his goodbye letters from his old friends and hungrily re-reading them. He seems happy again.

For such incompetent, dependent beings, children can be remarkably resilient, can’t they?

There’s a Bible passage that says:  Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. (Psalm 131:2)

Sometimes is takes a lot of courage to say, “Hey, can you teach me how to play?” And nearly always, it's a challenge to have the reason to see that joy can be chosen, independent of circumstances. 

As for me, I'm still fighting the weaning process; I'm pretty much screaming inside, "Give me back my milk! I want my old joy back." I'm apparently trailing behind that lanky 8 year old of mine in more ways than one. I am working on putting my banging fists down and resting against what I have given up; I know it is only then my hands will be free to embrace what I have now.

So every day I try again at managing without that which I had become excessively fond of, (the definition of wean.) I reach for the composure to quiet my soul. I try to let go of #7 and draw into the goodness of #8.

It will be good here. I will live with joy through this, as I have fought to through the challenges that came before it. So can you... through your struggle.

May God help us draw upon our child-like spirits of resilience.
May we have peace even without the sweet milk of our desires.


The Transformative Power of Sweat Equity... AKA My Before And After House Pictures

Don't you love a good transformation?

My favorite is when a lost soul finds peace in God and therein transforms from selfish ambitions to focus on others.

I also like when the sun transforms nuclear energy into ultraviolet, infrared, and gamma energy. Just kidding. I don't even understand energy transformation. Plus, I live in the Northwest and haven't seen much of this thing called the sun in like 6 months.

Falling ever so slightly short of the transformative power of Jesus Christ, or electromagetnic energy, house make-overs are pretty cool too.

Mine has keep me from writing to you fine people for the last two years. We've been working A LOT on the deferred maintenance, late 80's home we purchased as first-time home-buyers.

The brass was a-shinin and the honey-oak was a-plenty when we arrived in 2014. 

But I loved it right from the beginning.

People say, "You'll know The One when you see it" about wedding dresses and houses. I could have worn any of the half dozen wedding dresses I liked best, but I literally walked in the front door of this house and knew it was right. 

We bought it via long-distance. I had seen it once; my husband saw it for the first time two months later when we moved in. So... it's a pretty good thing it worked out for us as well as it has.

The number of hours we spent sanding, painting, digging, trimming, sanding and painting more, spakling and skim coating, cutting and building, and sanding and painting some more is almost painful to recall. My hands are aching at the mere memory.

There were many, many weekends and late nights of work, and probably just as many trips to Home Depot. 

Some of it was fun.

Master bedroom

Master bathroom

Tile and electrical work was hired out, as was the composite deck in the backyard. We did everything else, sometimes with help from handy family members.

A pretty careful budget was maintained over all. Hard work and creativity are excellent money-savers.

Guest Room                                                                                         Office

Kids' Bedrooms

I could easily write a post on each room. 

...But that sounds like a lot of work. And I'm not a home blogger.

Finished basement: from dark man-cave to kid-friendly game space

I'm super bias but I think it's a pretty great house in a really great city. I have felt overwhelmingly privileged to live here the last 23 months.

Oh, but now we're moving. 

It's a story for another day, but in short, we're moving to a new state to be with family. 

I guess you could say: we're making a transformation from a truly lovely place to live -- to a life with truly lovely people.

Maybe in 2 years I'll have another house of photos to share. But I kind of hope not.