Archives for August 2013

Inhaling summer

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Summer continues in the Northeast. It feels never ending, but not in the watermelon and lazy days by the pool kind of way. It’s more of a never-ending list of things to accomplish before we return to the daily grind of buses and schedules and trips to the store sans kids. School doesn’t begin for a number of weeks, and I plan to take a wee break from real life and from blogging this week. I may pop in with a few general notes on life I want to capture before they escape, but otherwise, it will likely be quiet around here.

Right now, Michael Jackson and Seal are competing for air space outside the open glass door, but my ear is trained to the sound of water lapping at the dock. I realized today just how very funny my kids are, how quirky, how prone to exhibit true beauty and ugliness within the space of three minutes, how very much like me and their father they have become. I admitted to myself how impossible a task it is for anyone to make me do anything I don’t want to do, and then I shrugged on the t-shirt with the long sleeves in this ridiculous southern heat just because my husband asked me to. Every day I try to read a little, and I find the words swimming on the page and I end up asleep. I ran at six-thirty this morning and I hated every minute of it. I’m reconsidering this running gig as a hobby. It’s more like self-flagellation without the incense and fancy movie effects. It looks like sweat and strain and ice cream cones melting down my thighs. This is my last deep inhalation of summer. What’s yours?

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I’d love to hear from you this week. Did you know I’m on twitter @KimberlyACoyle? I’d love to meet you there. I’m on Pinterest too, where you can catch a glimpse of the stunningly gorgeous life I lead in my head, although my real life looks decidedly more wrinkled and colorful and loud. So let’s meet here or on Twitter or Pinterest, and tell me what you’ve crammed into the last few days of summer? What are you reading, watching, pinning, and listening to as you prepare to usher in this fall?

Great heights

For months, my husband tried to talk me into it. He said it was something he’s always wanted to do, his dream, his one last wish before we left Switzerland. (PS. I can name at least five other things he’s described as such). I believe he secretly refers to me as “Dream Crusher” because as a rule, I take a lot of convincing. Especially when these self-proclaimed “dreams” involve me facing my biggest fears such as dirty toilets or public speaking or, in this case, heights.

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This particular conversation came up the day we accidentally stumbled upon an Adventure Ropes Course in the forest. As luck would have it, we weren’t dressed properly for climbing that day. Climbers frown on ballet flats, so I gratefully stood aside while M gathered information and pamphlets. I planned to conveniently lose said pamphlets as soon as we returned home. Any chance he might convince me, disappeared as I watched an athletic young guy fly by me and zip-line head first into the trunk of a tree. I envisioned a head wound in my future.

It rained for most of the spring and summer this year, and I thought my husband put the idea aside, until a break in the clouds and a visit to the mountains told me otherwise. Somehow he guilted and shamed, or some might say “encouraged” me to give it a try. Armed with an unflattering pair of hiking shoes, a harness, and three kids, we set out for the Seilpark.

I’ll be honest, this is not one of those situations in which I conquered my fear and I feel empowered to write a treatise on facing our fears head on and also, I am woman hear me roar. This is exactly what I thought it would be. It is me, climbing on the baby ropes course with my eight-year-old. Me, in leather gloves and a terrified death-grip, ignoring the shouts of “look at me Mom!” and “Mom, I need help!” Me, snapping at a six-year-old who crowded me in.I ignored the cries of my baby, I think my eggs dried up from fear, and I was literally a few feet off the ground. This was me, sweating hard work and swear words, while my big kids stood below and cheered me on.

I reached the end of the course, which I feel confident was designed by satan, and looked them all in the eye and said “I’m done”. My husband took one look at my face and handed me the camera, while he and the two big kids took off for the high ropes courses some 65 feet above the forest floor. I stood on my footstool of moss and earth and watched my children fly through the trees above me. I watched them skim along the highest branches, flying into the face of fear, forgetting for a time what it feels like to be bound to gravity and dirt. It gave me a glimpse at what my children can be, not because of me, but rather in spite of me.

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I have reached the point in parenting, in which I no longer look like the hero. I no longer wear the red cape with a child strapped to my waist, two more clinging to my feet, and the answer to every squabble and fear tucked underneath my arms. I want to say, “Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain, kids.” She’s earth-bound, cape-less, afraid of the great heights you will reach in spite of her. She is already smaller than you.

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I know this is the way of things, but I wish my superhero days could last a wee bit longer. I want to reach great heights too, but already my children outdo me. They outshine me, and thank God, they outlive my petty fears for them. The trees clap at the sight of them in flight, and with a flick of my worn out cape, I do too.

Quiet rest

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“God has told his people,
‘Here is a place of rest;
let the weary rest here.
This is a place of quiet rest.’
But they would not listen.”

~Isaiah 28:12

I read this verse a week ago, when it popped up in my inbox sandwiched between store sale announcements and Facebook notifications. I read it, and my eyes rolled like boulders until I could almost see the back of my head, and a tiny little “yeah, right”  leapt like a flame into my throat. I wanted to cry at the thought of it, this quiet place of rest that we’re told exists.

“Here,” God says.

And I find myself wondering exactly where “Here” is and how do I get there and what will it require of me to step into this kind of rest?

Will it require that I quiet the mind that runs marathon laps around the to-do list and the who-needs-correction-now list? Will it require that I say no to more sleep and yes to early mornings of wordless prayer? Will it require that I accept my limitations, regardless of the piles of paper calling my name from the dining room table and the unpacked boxes wooing me with their packing-tape grins.

I want to listen, to step into this promised land of peace, but I find myself incapable of it most of the time. I wonder why rest can’t come in the form I choose, like, for instance, a modern-day Mary Poppins? Why can’t rest look like a nanny who clears the messes and doles out the spoonfuls of sugar and puts the house magically in order? Or, rest might look like a day sailing on an emerald lake. Perhaps rest might take the form of an assistant for my husband, he possessing the mindset that we Coyle’s can rest when we’re dead–and if we’re not dead, we better have a good excuse, such as physical incapacitation with potential for death.

I don’t know what to do with this scripture. I want to know this rest, but I want to know it on my terms. I want it to feel like a finishing, a ticking off of the list, a TV show at the end of a interminably long day. But, perhaps rest looks more like a beginning. A leaning in, a listening, an exhalation of expectations, and an inhalation of God’s spirit before the day runs away, and I with it.

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What do you know of this place of quiet rest? Have you been there? What form does it take for you?

Five Minute Friday: Small

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Small. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Small

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The first time my husband and I walked the cosmic pathway at the American Museum of Natural History, it wigged us out. The exhibit lays out the history of the universe, the relative size of our planets, the multiple galaxies, the hair like sliver of time we have existed on this tiny, rotating planet.

My husband looked at me and said “How is it possible? How, in the vast expanse of the known universe, is it possible God sees us? We are a speck in space.” And when I got over my fear that he was in the middle of a full-blown crisis of faith right there in the museum gallery, I realized the validity of his question.

We know so little of the greatness of this universe. We know a fraction of the skies and of the science that governs them, the pop and fizzle of stars. We know only that we are small, and yet, we are loved. We are known. We don’t know where the deep of the skies ends, whether it is still being created at a distance, but we know this earth was hand carved, spoken into being, and breathed into life like our very spirits.

I left the museum that afternoon feeling smaller than before, but secure in the knowledge I am loved by a God who thinks big. A God who sees this small speck and creates for me a universe of mystery and light and beauty.

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Have you ever visited an exhibition like the cosmic pathway? A planetarium, perhaps? What did you think?

Having a bad hair day

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Every few days, I receive an email or a phone call from well-meaning family or friends asking how I’m doing with the transition of our move. They take a gentle approach, offering the question in the same manner one would try to aid a wounded animal, all soft voice and slow hands. It’s sweet, and given my predilection for drama and behaving as if the sky is falling in over something as simple as my inability to  find the missing set of white sheets, they’re wise to move with caution.

My response is always the same. I’m surprised, shocked even, to find myself sure and steady, knowing we have made the right decision for our family to move back to America. It’s possible I’m self-medicating with a weekly hit of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, but otherwise, I feel content.

After gingerly stepping around the question of my state of mental health, my loved ones then ask if the kids have adjusted to their new/old life. And I have nothing to report other than they are brilliant and part chameleon. Our dog on the other hand, has lost his mind. I attribute this to the brilliant idea of having him groomed two days after he moved into our new home. Apparently, the family member he stayed with during the move, did not realize that brushing the top 1 inch of his coat did not constitute grooming. When I took him to the real groomers to cut out all the knots in his fur, they greeted me with a sad shake of the head and promptly handed me a waiver to sign.

The waiver was a thinly veiled admission of animal cruelty and owner negligence disguised as permission to shave my dog bald. He may never recover. When I sent my husband a photo of our newly balded dog he asked why I had a squirrel attached to a leash. The psychological trauma of signing the waiver wasn’t enough, and now the dog has taken to pooping on my antique oriental rug as retribution. Poor pup has a bad hair day, all day, every day.  I might need to invest in puppy prozac, or at the very least another slice of cheesecake.

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Are you experiencing change this summer? A move, a job loss, a seriously bad hair-do? Note: The photo above is obviously a “before” shot. I can’t even bring myself to post an “after”.