Archives for July 2015

Making Room for Old Plans Made New

dale roberts via

Two years ago, I asked an artist friend to create a painting of Switzerland for my husband’s fortieth birthday. I took photos of my favorite view, one that belonged on the face of a postcard, and someday I hoped, on a painting. I sent the artist the photos, he sent me some sketches. I congratulated myself on a job well done.

My husband is now 42, and we live in America, and until a few days ago, we still didn’t have the painting. For 18 months we had a blank space above the sofa, left open and waiting. Eventually, we found another painting from the same artist and used it as a placeholder. But the placeholder grew on me, every time I look at it I forget it wasn’t meant to permanently steal the show. I see it as an unexpected gift, something I never knew I wanted or needed, but that fills a blank space not only on the wall, but it fills a part of my soul.

When we heard the Swiss painting was complete, we couldn’t drive there fast enough. The artist and his wife revealed it to us with a glass of wine and the light arranged to capture every nuance, every color, just so. We teared up because it’s simply that beautiful. It captures a sliver of time in our family history that was so difficult and charming and beautiful in its adversity. It’s a masterpiece, and I don’t say that lightly. It was worth the years we spent wondering and waiting.

When we arrived home with the painting we immediately put it in the space we originally intended, removing our placeholder painting. And to my surprise, it doesn’t fit. It belongs here in this home, just as much as the memory belongs in my heart, but we need to find another place for it. The temporary art claimed its space. The new painting will find a Swiss-shaped space all its own.

I’ve discovered this kind of shifting of plans and dreams and spaces applies to more than works of art. Like you, I dream of what if’s, I plan for what could be’s. I set aside a place in my heart for the dream I imagined, and the image fits perfectly. But life comes along and fills those empty spaces with other things, good things, often times, even better things than we ever expected while dreaming.

Sometimes I feel guilty when I realize the dream has shifted, and the space filled with something good, but unexpected. I feel guilty when the things I planned for and dreamed of don’t fit exactly where I thought they should be. I’m learning that when time takes over, desires shift. Something unexpected arrives, and I must learn how to make room. Make room for the new, make room for the old, make room for dreams fulfilled–both hoped for and unexpected.


Are you making room for something in your life? What dreams have been fulfilled? What has unexpectedly come your way?

Trading Fears


I leave home this Friday for my first residency at Graduate school. As if starting a new job wasn’t enough change for my husband and kids to adjust to, I’m also beginning a two-year MFA program at the same time. Friends and family ask if I’m excited and I always reply yes, if excited means the same thing as stomach-churningly nervous. Excuse me while I hyperventilate in a corner. Sometimes excitement and nervousness feel like a similar emotion. This is not one of those times.

Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace change. I genuinely look forward to something new and novel in my life. If you scratch the surface hard enough, right beneath my suburban mama exterior, you’ll find someone terribly afraid of living an ordinary life. I often wonder if I’m simply trade one fear for another.

Here’s the thing about grad school. I’m dubious about whether or not I belong there. I still wonder if the acceptance letter was a hoax, if the scholarship money they awarded me was intended for someone else, if somehow this is one giant mix-up. I began reading one of the poetry books assigned for our required reading, and I literally had to google one obscure reference, if not three, in each ten line poem. What the what? What is this man saying to me? What the heck is “unteachable rain”?

Friends, I’m in trouble.

There will be more to say on this topic, but I’ll sign off with this for now–I don’t think I belong, but that’s kind of the point. Trying new things, stepping out into the unknown, trading normal for nervous pleasure–this is what makes change so appealing and why  it’s important to add a little into your life every now and again. The search for “unteachable rain” makes life more interesting.

Home Is a Warm Welcome

I grew up in a family of introverts who pretended to be extroverts for much of the week, while pastoring a small suburban church. On evenings and Saturdays, my family returned to the natural order of the introvert: quiet, calm, with no excessive talking. While my parents filled their days with church members seeking counseling, phone calls, drop-ins, and members simply wanting to chat—at home, they needed time to recharge. They filled their free time with, well…nothing.

I remember my childhood home as one of varying degrees of peace and quiet. For a bookish girl like myself, this fit me perfectly.When my husband and I began dating, I entered into a family of extroverts of the intense variety…

To read the rest of the story, please join me at (in)courage, one of my favorite spaces filled with my favorite people on the internet. Want to see less competition and more women encouraging other women? Sign up here to receive daily posts from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox. 

A Bit of News


After fourteen years out of the workforce, I started a new job a few weeks ago. I haven’t written about it because the change is so new, I wanted to be sure I stuck with it. I habitually quit things—historically, much to my husband’s chagrin, I quit jobs.

My feelings about it lie fresh on the surface, like a new layer of skin after a sunburn peels away. On any given day, I gently inspect tender pink feelings of working-mother guilt, sadness over the delay of my full-time writing dream, and elation over the fact that people actually pay me to leave my house wearing real clothes a few times a week…

Today, I’m honored to write at my friend, Michelle DeRusha’s place. To read the rest of this post, please join me there. As always, thanks for reading.

A Nooks and Crannies Kind of Life

DSC_7684 via

How quiet it’s been here this month! I wish real life were this silent in the summer. I feel as if I handed in my ticket to ride the tilt-a-whirl, and some bored teen with their eyes glued to the control board won’t stop the whirl and let me off. At first, it’s fun to watch the world flash by in a blur of color, until the vertigo sets in, and you realize what you’re missing.

I’m missing long, quiet mornings accompanied by the soft hum of the air conditioner before the kids wake up. I’m missing lazy days. I’m missing time to think. This is what I crave most–a Thotful Spot–like one you might find under a wooden sign in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Recently, a number of writer friends have talked of how they’ve given over the sweet freedom of their summer hours to work on  bigger projects (code words for: book). This news always leaves me a particular shade of green. How I wish I filled my hours with my laptop and my thoughts. I wish I crammed my day full of words. However, I find myself fitting them very occasionally into the nooks and crannies of my everyday, the English Muffin of my life.

I find myself wondering where you are, dear reader, and what you’re doing this summer? How do you fill your days? What do your hands hold? Where is your Thotful Spot? Mine is on a one mile loop of concrete through a circle of green at the local park. I haven’t been there in weeks.

I do hope that whatever your hands find to hold this summer, whatever your mind wanders to most, will bring you joy in the nooks and crannies. I pray you find moments of serendipity where you reach out into the colorful blur and you grasp something lovely.

What would it look like if you captured it?


Stay tuned for more words later this week. I’ll break my streak of posting once a week, and guest post in a few special places. Plus, I’ll share a bit of news.