Feb 14 2014

A Valentine Message

 

conversation hearts

Conversation hearts

Be mine.

I “heart” you.

XOXO

We literally ingest these messages. Like some weird ritual where we hope through osmosis, the feelings of security and safety that emanate from these short notes will pass the lining of our stomachs and make their way to our hearts.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Valentine geek. My table has been decorated for six weeks. See?

valentine centerpiece

Happy Valentine’s Day

I “heart” the idea of a day set aside to gush over those I love. I made heart shaped pancakes with raspberry syrup for my family. I spent $20 on cheesy cards that will line our waste basket within days. There are heart napkins set out waiting for their debut at dinner tonight.

What I’m saying is I love the premise of Valentine’s Day. (Pun intended.)

Such Valentine enthusiasm has not always been the case. I remember days of longing to have a Valentine. Someone who would give me cheesy cards and buy me flowers and candy and take me to dinner. And I know many people who can relate. We long for someone to say they love us, to say they believe in us, to say we are special. To send us a message that we are loved, that we are lovable.

We ingest messages everyday. Some from those around us and some from inside of us.  Words are inscribed in our memory and like osmosis, so often they find their way to our heart, to the center of our being, to the place we hold a picture of who we are.

A Valentine Message.

I have a message for you, regardless of your relational status. May it pierce your heart, the very center of your being, the place you hold a picture of yourself.

Here’s my conversation heart to you in the form of a song.

Who says? Selena Gomez

Who says?

Who says?


Nov 21 2012

Thanksgiving Memory

“Are you ready?” He smiled at me as I climbed in and he shut the door.

“Uh-huh!” I glanced at him so that he wouldn’t see the terror in my eyes. Calm down! He’s not taking you to jail.

And he pulled the patrol car out of the driveway.

“I’m probably not going to write any tickets today. It’s Thanksgiving.”

My terror turned to disappointment. Reinforcing an underlying belief that I thought myself crazy. Apparently, I felt someone should go to jail. Just not me. A shining humanitarian moment.

“Oh. Okay.” Attempting to mask my neurosis.

He pointed the car toward his beat. That stretch of road that he was assigned to cover for the day. He parked on the shoulder of the freeway. Giving himself a view. And then he started a conversation.

It was challenging to follow. An unfamiliar female voice kept chanting all manner of numbers and letters and random words. She vied for attention but he continued to talk. Zebra and Mary and King. What is she trying to say?

“Um, feel free to stop and listen.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m listening.”

To who? Her or me?

But the conversation continued. My senses were a bit maxed but I tried to hang in there. Nodding where appropriate and still trying to act natural. The profuse sweating of my hands distracted me from the issue of what position to put them in.

“Darn it.” And the conversation stopped. He started the car and pulled out.

Remember Clark Kent? He would duck into a phone booth? (Remember phone booths?) Anyway, he would rip the front of his shirt and in seconds be transformed from journalist to superhero. I’ve seen something similar. David went from normal conversation to police officer in a fraction of a second.

I sat rigid in the passenger seat as he pursued an SUV barreling down the freeway. Lights flashing. An electricity charged the air. The conversation was gone. He was focused. Alert. And I was no longer a companion. I was a spectator.

I watched in amazement at this man I thought I knew. His composure and calm was mind boggling as he confronted the unknown. I became acutely aware of my lack. My lack of knowledge. My lack of authority. My lack of courage.

What would I do if the driver shot him right in front of me? Could I ever marry a man whose job required him to put himself in such a precarious position?

And then an amazing thing happened. I saw it. The razor sharp edge of the thin blue line. Sending him off to work meant endangering a part of my soul. He had my heart.

There would always be a part of him that I could not follow. I could give him my heart but I could never control where he took it. Or the possible dangerous positions he would put it in. That was just going to be part of the deal.

That was over fourteen years ago. (Difficult to believe based on the above photo. That’s not really me by the way and that’s not the really the car. Just in case there is any confusion.) My first and I think only ride along. A lot has changed since then. Children, moving, and now retirement. Oh, and moving out of state. That’s a rather big change. But one thing is the same.

He still has my heart. And on this Thanksgiving, I’m truly thankful.

What are you thankful for?

 

 

 


Aug 23 2012

WHAT?

Telephone.

Remember that game? Everyone sits in a circle.The beginning of all riveting games. One person whispers something into the ear of another person and it travels the circle. Usually, what is spoken at the end is a far cry from the original statement. Something gets lost somewhere in translation.

I like to call this marriage. Minus all the people in the middle. Unless you have children.

For example, I say one thing. My husband hears something all together different. (All right, and vice-versa.) Communication is challenging. But in our house, there’s another factor in the mix.

The language of law enforcement.

After years of having a toddler or two underfoot, I’m pretty fluent in tantrum and exhaustion. And likewise, my husband’s experience among the less than virtuous in our society has made him fluent in his own language.

Here are some examples. The first statement is something I might say. The second statement is what my husband hears after a lightning flash translation in his head.

Outing to the park. Translation, “ER visit.”

Grocery store. “Potential abduction.”

Solicitor at the front door. “Home invasion.”

The language of law enforcement.

This translation issue came to light again recently. I was returning from a weekend away. (My husband is awesome.) As we got on the freeway, I asked my friend to send a text to my husband so he would know were on our way. He likes to know these things, but maybe that’s another blog. Long story short, the auto correct feature kicked into high gear and the text that was sent was not a correct representation of the situation. It was kind of funny, I thought. So did my friend. We laughed and she asked if I thought he would decipher it. Within seconds, my phone was ringing. My husband was calling. His take on the message was that I had been kidnapped. He was not laughing. Between him dialing my cell phone and my friend answering, he had worked out which office he was going to call to roll out the rescue squad.

The language of law enforcement.

I used to think my husband was paranoid. Or that he didn’t find me competent. Those opinions made for some lively marital conversations. But I’ve come to discover that my law enforcement husband simply speaks a different language. And as I take the time to listen to the incidents that have transformed his thought processes, I find it much easier to give him grace. He loves us. And he fights to keep us separate from the horror he’s seen.

He took an oath to serve and protect. He takes that oath seriously every day. And at the top of that list are the one’s he loves. He doesn’t sit atop a white stead with shiny armor.  Somedays it’s a grungy uniform with just a shiny star on his chest. But the bottom line? I’m trying to learn his language. It’s one way I can show him I love him too.

Can you relate? What languages are spoken in your home?

 


Aug 9 2012

S is for…

Should I stay or should I go?

This blog needs to start with a preface or some sort of disclaimer. I doubt this is concurrent with blogging protocol but some things must be done. So here goes.

I am not trying to offer advice or counsel. This is simply my journey. If you have a similar journey, I hope my words resonate with you and encourage you as you discover you are not alone. If you have an altogether different journey, I hope this gives you a glimpse into the scenery from a different path.

A swift and tragic death is ugly. I’ve shared how there are days it wafts into our home like the faint smell of decay on a spring breeze. You expect to smell the wisteria outside the back door but instead…a fowl stink sends shivers running down your spine.

For so many years I didn’t get it. I pretended it was my imagination. Or it was just part of the territory. I was so blind. So blind to what was really going on. I saw the man I married turn into a different guy. I thought that was all there was to see. And that change ticked me off. And being ticked off lead me to a defining moment. A question.

Should I stay or should I go?

It didn’t take me divorcing my husband to leave. I was ready to pack my emotions in a carry-on and take the next flight out. Intentionally disconnecting and distancing myself from him. Pretend that everything was okay. Go through the motions. Discuss the day to day business of running a home and a family and leave the relationship out of it.

The way I saw it, it was about survival. My survival. Should I stay or should I go? It sounds a bit melodramatic. And I guess when you make a relationship all about yourself, you’re bound to find a bit of drama.

Our relationship had hit a place in time where I felt I wasn’t getting what I needed. And it’s one thing to say “for better or worse.” It’s an entirely different thing to live it out. My marriage got difficult and I wanted to disconnect.

And then I got hit in the head with a two by four. Metaphorically, but it hurt just the same. I was sharing my frustration with a friend and she summed up my situation in a poignant statement. “So, you are upset because he is human.” Going, disengaging, distancing myself was my way of saying that I was better than him. Healthier. And how dare he be human. How dare he be scarred and wounded.

The moment in time, where two people stand before friends and family and declare their eternal love, had faded into the past. Now, two people stood in a living room, staring into each other’s eyes and not seeing the other person.

In between the day we shared our vows and the moment in the living room, a great deal of living had taken place. A great deal of conversations and choices. And I had been just as much a part of those as he had been. But now I wanted to blame him. I like to think that I didn’t cause the PTSD but I can honestly say that for many years, I didn’t help it. I ignored it. But now, with it all out in the open, with wounds ripped open and hearts laid bare, a whisper of hope hung in the air.

Could I stay and be part of the solution? Should I stay and support him? Would I stay and own my stuff too?

I’ve heard it said that the hard choice and the right choice are often the same choice. Aghhh!

So I stayed. Physically and emotionally. I hoped and prayed. I cried a lot. I felt really lonely sometimes. But I chose to stay. I chose to love him as best I could. I don’t deserve a medal. I’m not looking for a pat on the back. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to judge or make a social statement. This is just part of my journey.

I read this today. “…We are each called to love three people in our spouse–the person we loved first, the person we love now, and the person we are loving into being.” (Heather Kopp, SoberBoots.com) Loving someone in the now and loving them into who they are becoming is sometimes a painful journey. But my husband has done the same for me. So I guess that makes us even. But who’s keeping score, right?

There’s one more letter to go in our PTSD acronym. So next week “D is for…” Can you guess?

 


Jun 4 2012

Marriage is like a Horse

Versace, the greatest! photo by Jaymie Noland

 

Marriage is like a horse.

Some days, marriage is like a horse’s rear end.

But let’s focus on the big picture.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been enthralled with the giant creatures. They are powerful and graceful. Fast and stately. Their ability to move their bulk with speed and elegance is breathtaking. And, throughout the course of history, we have used them to accomplish tasks we could not do on our own.

Marriage is like a horse.

It has the capacity to be strong and graceful. Stately and enduring. With it, we have the potential to accomplish what we could not do on our own. The combination of strength and stability has been the bedrock of civilizations for thousands of years. A marvelous creation.

And yet, like the horse, it is supported by four delicate limbs.

It is fragile. A slight break in the fetlock leaves the imposing strength of the beast ineffectual. A disruption of trust or compassion renders the relationship inoperative. A horse without the use of all four legs is glue fodder. A marriage without the full use of it’s undergirding is fractured and frail.

Marriage is like a horse.

The mighty creation rests upon fragile and vulnerable legs. I could surmise what those four legs might be labeled (and I will later) but I am soooo curious to hear what you would call them.

What are the four vulnerable pillars of marriage? Would you claim trust or tenacity on the list? Or tenderness and devotion?

Oh wait, here is a word that you cannot use.

                                  LOVE       

(Sorry but that’s way too vague. You all can do way better than that!)

So, name four things that every healthy marriage must have in order to survive and thrive.

Let’s hear ‘em!!


May 8 2012

No more white-wash

This blogging thing is quite amazing. Theoretically, I control the topics. And yet, I sit to write and I am overwhelmed with the urge to bare my soul. Perhaps it’s the lack of consistent adult interaction throughout the day. I also must take into account the fact that I am a woman and have a quota of words each day. But maybe it means that I am finally learning that it’s alright to be me. And part of being me means not having perfect children, not always having the perfect thing to say and not being perfect. Sometimes I wear white after Labor Day. (That is not an exhaustive list of my imperfections.)

I have spent a great deal of my life striving for perfection. The careful application of white wash is a difficult habit to break. Somewhere I got the message that striving to be like Jesus meant striving to be perfect. But along the path to perfection, I trampled over the lessons of learning to love others more than myself, learning not to worry about tomorrow, and remembering that God’s ways are not my ways.

What I thought was perfection was really a heap of ugliness with a shiny outward coating of white wash. The real issues, the heart issues, had been ignored for the appearance of holiness. When you give God permission, He goes after the white-wash. Sometimes He gently scrapes small pieces at a time but other times it feels like He douses it all with a highly flammable substance and transforms it into one giant ball of fire. I have frequently disagreed with His methods. Don’t worry. I’ve been very honest with Him about that. But then He reminds me that His methods are not my business. I gave Him permission. And it is without question that His motives and His means reach exceedingly beyond my understanding.

God is not a vandal. He is not sadistic in His enjoyment of watching the white-wash go up in a mass of flames. His goal is not to destroy me. He understands, far better than I, how detrimental the white wash is. It keeps me so focused on me that I am unable to truly love others. His goal is for me to learn to love others the way He loves them. The way He loves me.

“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” I John 4:11-12