five minute Friday, grief, writing

Five-Minute Friday: Heal.

The girls got shots this week.

Their band-aids were pink camouflage and yellow crayon, but that didn’t make them easier to remove. Lucy, who is curious about blood and bodies, peeled hers gradually, imperceptibly, during library story time and when she was supposed to be setting the table, over the course of days, and finally peeled them all the way off.

Nora, though, has a strong memory for pain. Her legs hurt already. She knew it was going to hurt more, and she refused to let anyone touch the band-aids. “They’ll come off when they’re ready,” she declared, and her fierce eyes dared anyone to disagree. Even when one band-aid end caught on her skirt and pulled away, she defied anyone to help her pull it off and left the loose end flapping as she went about her life.

I know how she feels.

Last weekend, I had the chance to sit with other women who tell the truth and take some time to reflect on writing. Over tea and talk, I processed some of why I haven’t written much here over the last year. Next month will be a year since we lost my Gramp, closely followed by Gram, and then Grandmother in the summer. The tangled feelings seemed too complicated to write, but I couldn’t write anything else, either.

Being a writer who isn’t writing is like stuffing socks into a drawer that’s already overstuffed. I keep cramming them in there, even though it’s full to bursting, even though it won’t open all the way, even though I know that more socks will make the problem harder to fix later. I can’t afford the time or the patience or the fortitude it takes to open the drawer and set it right, so I shove a few more into the front and slam it shut until later.

“Later” is not some magical moment when we suddenly have what we need.
“Later” is just when we decide to act with what we have and rely on God for the rest.

Later, for me, is now.

It won’t be easy to write my way through what feels like a mountain of unprocessed grief, but I can’t afford to wait any longer. I’m pulling off the band-aid. I need to heal.

For more five minute reflections on healing, check out Heading Home.
#HolyLens, 100 days project, radio silence, writing

On radio silence, life overwhelm, and dormant creativity

I sometimes think that consistency will elude me forever.

Is it impossible for me to blog properly and post at regular intervals? Probably not. Maybe I lack focus or am too undisciplined. Maybe I just have too many interests to plug away at one constantly. Maybe my time is too limited to justify pouring all my energy into one thing when there are so many things I could be doing.

Maybe I’ve just been struggling a little under the sadness of losing two of the most important people in my life so close together.

Whatever the reason, I haven’t had the energy to write and publish here in a while. I’m grateful for those of you who checked on me to see if I was okay. I’m also grateful for those of you who will come back and read my words again now that they are starting to flow. Thank you.

The hardest thing about being a writer is that when one does not write, neither does one fully live. Although I sometimes don’t feel like writing, the side effects are unpleasant. Without the lens of words helping me to make sense of my days and thoughts and feelings, things get jumbled up and are hard to untangle. I haven’t found the words yet to write about my grandmother’s death and the pain of having to miss her funeral. I expect those words might come. In the meantime, though, I need to be writing again…and I’d like to be sharing here with you.

To get things started, I’m joining in the #100daysproject. This project is an effort to do creative work for 100 days in a row. While I won’t be publishing here for 100 days in a row, I am going to post a photo on Instagram and share some thoughts there with the hashtag #100daysofholylens. Photography as a spiritual discipline works for me as a way to remind myself that ordinary life is beautiful. Even when things feel pretty terrible, God is with us, and His fingerprints are everywhere. We only need to look for them in the tiny, beautiful, holy moments of our days.

If you want to join me, even if you can’t post every day, you’re welcome to share my hashtag so we can find each other.


Why I love the…(on writing, interrupted)

If I could only finish a sentence.

Sometimes, I think my thoughts don’t come out in linear ways anymore. It feels like maybe there isn’t a coherent thought (that begins with a beginning and has a middle and an end) in my head at all. Has having young children around all day given me a form of conversational ADHD? Is writing with dashes all over the place just part of having little folks interrupting me constantly?

Maybe I can’t even think from point A to point B without interrupting myself.

I read recently that writers should never interrupt their own thoughts. Good writing starts, progresses, and finishes. It doesn’t interject with other ideas in the middle of ideas already in progress.

I know I have a bad habit of interrupting myself. I wonder sometimes if I interrupt myself to avoid having others interrupt me. The worst feeling in the world is being talked over, and it happens to me a lot. I can’t finish a sentence without someone asking for more water or to be wiped or to have her ponytail tightened or her velcro on her knight costume adjusted or to have the duct tape torn into smaller strips.

Maybe this is at the root of my love affair with the ellipsis.

I use it liberally, I know. I don’t always end my sentences…sometimes I just leave them hanging while I talk about something else for a minute. It’s not clean and tidy, but neither is my brain. Its inner chambers are littered with bits of colored paper and pencil shavings and paper doll shoes and Legos. Getting from here to there without an interruption isn’t happening very often, so maybe I choose to embrace it? Maybe stream-of-consciousness is just my thing these days.

There’s some freedom in accepting that where we are is where we are. There’s joy in deciding to embrace what’s before us. Maybe this extends to punctuation, too- deciding to go with the flow and use dashes and ellipses with joyful abandon might signify that I’m coming to a peaceful place with my vocation and how it looks right now.

Interruptions abound. Maybe it’s okay that my punctuating reflects that.

five minute Friday, writing

Five-Minute Friday: Messenger

Five-Minute Friday is a group writing party hosted by Lisa-Jo at her blog. Everyone writes for five minutes in response to a one-word prompt without worrying or overediting. We then share our words with the community so we can encourage each other. It’s not about being perfect- it’s about loving words and sharing the fruit of that love with others. 
We started it because he always woke up so, so early…at the first chink of light peeking in from behind his blackout curtains, he was wide awake and ready to go. He’s always been like that…ahead of us, somehow- hard to predict and a challenge to keep up with. 

We started leaving him messages.
He was an early reader, self-taught, blazing through books and words the way he blazes through life in general, a seven-books-before-breakfast kind of kid. We’d write to him, draw him pictures, leave them taped to the wall outside his room.
“When the big hand is on the 7, come and get us and we will have breakfast. Please play quietly in your room until then.”
“Good morning! Today is Sunday! Please choose what shirt you want to wear to church and then you can use the Legos in the living room until we get up.”
“At 7:00, you can come get Daddy’s iPod and play a game while we get ready to go to the store. Please don’t wake up the Sisters.”
It became our ritual…something he looked for every morning, something we did every night. Sometimes the messages had themes that went on for weeks…mythological creatures, numbers made of Legos, drawings of little Playmobil characters, Vikings, an animal for every letter of the alphabet. The messages communicated something so much bigger than information. They told him he mattered, that his interests mattered, that we cared that he was up before the crack of dawn and wanted to connect with us.

Then, one day, the messages started to appear in our room. They were slipped under the door or taped crookedly to the wall by the dresser, complete with illustrations and creative spelling. They told us he was excited about breakfast or that there were only three more days until the weekend. They told us stories about knights and what it would be like if the planets in the solar system had a sleepover. Most importantly, they told us he loved us. 
The Chick-fil-a cow as a knight and my very own golden ticket
Sloth. Self-explanatory.
Mama and Daddy, dressed as knights with our own heraldry.
No matter how hard I might find it sometimes to understand this boy, there is one thing I know. He and I speak the same language – we feel love in the written word. His writing wraps around me like a big hug from his increasingly lanky arms. With stacks of his messages everywhere, I can’t bring myself to throw any of them away yet. He’s piled his heart up in my bedroom, one sheet of paper at a time.

As long as I can write to him and he to me, I know we will be able to handle whatever challenges arise. 
For more Five-Minute Friday reflections on “messenger,” visit Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog.
Five Minute Friday
five minute Friday, writing

Five-Minute Friday: Write

Oh, wow, it’s been a long time since I did a Five-Minute Friday. Today, I’m jumping back in again in my effort to take small steps to conquer Big, Overwhelming Things. It’s easy to join in the writing fun- set a timer for five minutes, write on today’s prompt without over-editing or heavy self-criticism, then share what you’ve got and encourage the writers around you. If you’re feeling brave (or even if you aren’t!), you can link up your post here at Lisa-Jo’s.

Here we go…five minutes on the clock.


The pressure starts at the back of my neck. It stretches around the sides of my head, ending up someplace behind my eyes…and that’s where the pain starts. A tension headache like this one can keep me awake all night, my head so full of whirling, churning thoughts that it might explode at any second.

How I wish for a tiny valve on the side of my head, something I could release to let the thoughts run out my ear canal so they wouldn’t be cluttering up the inside of my brain this way. They fly back and forth, crashing into each other, making me see white lights when they collide.

There is no such valve, but there is paper and pen. The next best thing. The only way to get those thoughts out of my head and safely tucked away someplace so I can get some rest.

I haven’t been writing enough lately. I’ve been busy with other things. But writing, like sleeping, only seems like a luxury. When I don’t take time to scribble the thoughts down, they fester and corrode and turn dark and dangerous. Letting them out into the light is the only way to stay healthy, to be strong, to be really alive.

For more Five-Minute Friday, click the link below.
Five Minute Friday