Room-by-Room: Living & Dining


Last year two crazy kids bought a house. They tore it open from the inside out. It did the same to them. Both the house and the people are more beautiful than they were before. This is the tour-de-blog through the before, the after, and the during.

Welcome, friend: Living and Dining.


The very first order of business was knocking out a wall to let in some light. Little did I know that a wall was about to be knocked out in my heart too. It would also bring light – eventually.


Our home was built in 1953, and the first thing you noticed when you walked in was the wall right in front of you. Closing you in – a very long, narrow living room and dining room greeted you, with doors cornered to the right and the left.

The door off the dining room led to a galley kitchen. The door off the living room led to the hallway connecting the three bedrooms, and was also your path to the backyard and natural light – through one of the bedrooms. It was an awkward design. And in case you were confused about where the living room ended and the dining room began, our predecessors left us a nice line right down the middle of the wall, demarking from the baby blue living room to the canary yellow dining room. So many wrong things in that sentence.


IMG_0801The kitchen was a goner. We knew we would have to gut it. But late one night, as I was just drifting off to bed, brilliance woke me up. Since we had to gut the kitchen anyways, why not move it? “All we had to do” was knock out a wall.

And so the wall came down. And the light came in. And doors 1 & 2 were needed no more, so we closed them both off and, gasp, got three new rooms for the price of one wall. The living room lost all signs of awkward, and became rather, well, cozy.


It’s first Christmas was the first for us to ever host Jason’s family, complete with a cheery fire in the original brick fireplace.

IMG_4007Note that we haven’t even cleaned the soot from the brick. Is that gross? We prefer it be considered preservation.


The dining room was filled with a few fun projects. Step one: Be rid of the baby blue/canary paint line. Step two: Adopt antique furniture from the Thrift Store and renew for life in the 21st century.


The whole place transformed and gained new possibility the minute we knocked out that wall.


About two days after we knocked that wall down, and long before we knew just what a difference it would make, another wall started to crumble. My husband’s job got real precarious real suddenly, and I was unprepared for it. It was like a sledge hammer went straight to my core. All I could see was what got knocked down. Like his salary and our health benefits and the safety of working at a place that is also your Church-home. I didn’t know that light had to come into some dark places in my heart. I didn’t know how attached I’d become to things like health insurance and what-not. I didn’t know that I’d been fighting against his character for months, defending his employer instead of my own husband when days had gone awry and I just didn’t want to accept what he was telling me, so I found a way to just, well, not. I didn’t know that I had so many fears sitting just under the surface. Until that wall came down. One hammer blow at a time.

But eventually – just as sure as drywall mud and new paint and texture and crown moulding were put in place to make that hole in the wall look like it had always been precisely that way – eventually my heart started rebuilding. And light was able to shine in the places that had been dark and awkward. I’m not saying there aren’t some lingering shadows in my heart, but I am saying that when that wall came tumbling down, when we had to ask family to wait on payment they’d already earned for their work, when we had to remember how to pray for daily bread because the shopping list now included plumbing and drywall and floorboards, when we heard God say that the next job He was calling to was a support-raising position, and when we actually said “yes”, slowly the light began to filter in as I slowly, painfully, even regretfully, opened my heart more fully to a God who provides even when – or maybe better said, AS – walls come tumbling down.



Dancing in the Driveway [NIAW]


“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau

This is a week-long series to invite you to look through the eyes of infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). This is not a series about the medical condition of Infertility – you can find facts here if interested.

Instead, this series is dedicated to the heart’s awakening to emptiness – and ultimately, to life. Even without an answer. Each day this week, I’ll be sharing a letter that I penned throughout this journey of infertility, as I tried to find words to describe the silent experience. Days filled with hope, cynicism, laughter, tears – and sometimes all at once.

One in eight couples are experiencing infertility right now – about 7.3 million. We are 1 in 8.

Wedding Run

Ten years ago, I was in the middle of full-swing-wedding-planning. We were only engaged for three months (I know, I KNOW!), so it was go-time from the minute that ring was placed on my finger.

There were no doubts. None. I count myself lucky in that regard, because doubt sneaks up on just about every decision I’ve ever made in my life, but I was spared that in the spousal department. It was simply the easiest decision I’d ever made.

I penned this letter to my Jason last year on our ninth wedding anniversary. It was a particularly painful summer as we’d just finished our last unsuccessful fertility treatment, my husband had just lost his job, and we were in the middle of a major home remodel. So umm, I was a little to the left of crazy.

Still, I married a celebrator. A man who is so good – so good – at pulling me out of my own head and helping me celebrate what we have, and we especially love celebrating having each other. As year ten approaches and someone in this marriage is a little less, ahem, crazy, we’re going BIG. We’re celebrating year ten ala Europe, and you’d better believe I’ll be blogging about that goodness.

As NIAW steers to an end, this letter is dedicated to beautiful relationships everywhere. I oh-so-hope that anyone experiencing unplanned unparenthood – or any sacred loss – can dig deep into the relationships they have and find much to celebrate even in the midst of crazy-town.

Dear J,

Nine years ago this morning I woke up as Mrs. Miller for the first time. 3,285 mornings later, waking up to you is still my very favorite part of the day.

There are so many things I didn’t know nine years ago. I didn’t know we would be cuddlers. I didn’t know I could love you more today than I did then.

I didn’t know how hard marriage could be. I didn’t know how bitter a look we could give one another. I didn’t know how we could bring healing to one another’s world.

I didn’t know that we’d dance so well – not the tango or salsa or real dancing – but the dances stolen in the driveway at midnight just because the moon is peaking through the mist.

I didn’t know anyone could know me better than I know myself. Like knowing what I wished I had ordered for breakfast as I look longingly at your plate, and you nudge a fork towards me. Or like that time you packed a book for me to read on vacation so that when I exclaimed, “Dang, I forgot to bring a book”, you were right there. Like knowing my favorite tea. Like the grin and grip of trusting my driving.

I didn’t know that we would explore the world. That my love for airports and cultural foods and all things related to a passport would be shared. That a spirit of adventure would root deeply in us both. That we would sell everything and then buy it back again. That the gleam in your eye – the one that comes on the verge of adventure – would be so alluring.

I also had no idea the storms we’d be asked to weather. The tears we would cry. The nights of deep and dark pain that would penetrate our souls. The losses we’d be asked to bear.

There’s something about those stormy days, though, that make it all the sweeter to hold your hand on the sunny ones like today. There’s something so much richer to clinging to one another when we’ve been through days where it’s all we had to cling to. There is a grace in knowing that this anchor holds. That our relationship isn’t determined by the number of sunny days versus dark days. That our love isn’t circumstantial. That loss, while real, doesn’t define us. That our friendship outweighs our fears.

I’ve been given a rich life with you, my love. I’m thankful every day, but particularly today, day number 3,286.



Welcome, Friend


Easter Sunday is, to me, like welcoming a good friend. A time to throw your arms wide and say “WELCOME, LIFE!”


Sometimes it’s a fling-wide-the-door and run outside with an exuberant “welcome!” as you dash into His arms. Perhaps when we are least self-conscious.

Sometimes it’s a sigh-filled “welcome back” after a long absence. Perhaps after a particularly long Friday-season.

Sometimes it’s a shy “you’re welcome to be here”, because sometimes it’s still so surprising that He WANTS to be.

Sometimes it’s a “welcome, make yourself comfortable in the mess”, because the mess is all we have to offer.

Sometimes it’s a simple, whispering “welcome home”. Perhaps when we are most sure that He belongs.

Sometimes it’s with balloons and flowers and a long-line of friends holding “welcome” signs, because you’ve been eagerly watching.

Welcoming Sunday is about welcoming the God who took death, and made life. And who is still doing so today. Jesus, the Bible says, was the first prototype of life coming FROM death, not just AFTER death.

Whether from an empty tomb, an empty womb, or any other empty place that Friday revealed, God is – STILL – in the business of bringing forth life. What a God of mystery. What a Hero to worship. What a Friend to have in Jesus.

Welcome, Sunday. Welcome, Friend.


My Valentine’s Day Tip


Step one:  Locate a florist

Step two:  Pick up a phone

Step three: Do not order flowers.  Repeat:  do not order flowers. 

Step four:  Instead, ask if they need delivery drivers. 

Step five:  Show up valentine’s morning – whether solo, with a friend, or your valentine – ready to fill your car with the scent of long-stemmed roses, daisies and forget me nots.

Step six:  Enjoy guessing people’s stories based on the type of flowers and their reaction to receiving them. 

Step seven:  Return home with cash in your pocket and a smile in your heart.  

Delivering flowers is my favorite way to spend Valentine’s Day.  I’ve signed up as a delivery driver three or four different years.  196 million roses are delivered on Valentine’s Day.  Yes, one hundred and ninety-six million.   Whether you’re for or against the whole Valentine’s Day thing, that’s a whole lotta delivered roses.

I first jumped in on the action over a decade ago, back when I drove a shiny black truck and had to rely on a Thomas Guide to get me to the next address for delivery.  Yes, a THOMAS GUIDE, people.  As in, a map on PAPER – with no shiny blue dot to tell me where I was or a red one to tell me where I wanted to end up.  I can’t even explain how crazy lost I got in Mission Viejo.  If I had to use a Thomas Guide today, I’d probably end up in Denver before I could find Laguna Niguel.

And I still can’t believe how many vases of long-stemmed roses I crammed into the cab of my truck.  Confession:  someone somewhere received 11 long-stemmed roses that day, because one snapped off in transport and I umm, hid it among the others.  I know, I KNOW.

When I got married, I told Jason about this little trick and so instead of dropping a lot of cash on buying each other Valentine’s gifts, we turned it into a day to make cash together.  I mean, a whole day together making money by delivering beautiful gifts that other people paid for and a chance to see the first smile of surprise when someone realizes “you’re here to deliver those to me?”  Win!  

So, whether single or married or somewhere in between, my little Valentine’s Day tip is that you can have just as much – or maybe even more! – fun giving as receiving.  Seriously, so. much. fun.

This year, we will be up in San Francisco for a little getaway, but you better believe I’ll have my eye out for people delivering flowers, smiling at the memories they’re making for themselves.  Even if it involves a snapped rose or two.


Roots & Wings


I’ve never have a bad attitude at an airport.  Airports are my thing.  Redbull doesn’t give me wings – airports do.  The collision of stories, the endless possibilities, the myriad of colors and voices all in one place for that one moment, but literally spreading out to the ends of the earth the next moment.  Ah, chills.  Someday I plan to arrive at LAX and throw down a wad of cash for their next outbound international flight, wherever it may be.

I first found my wings when I was 18 and boarded a plane for Israel.  I can still remember walking down the boarding gate to my plane and turning for a look back to my Mom – back in the good old days when they let people come to your gate to see you off.  She was smiling through her tears – the kind of smile that came with a slight shoulder shrug, a long-distance nudge to keep going forward.  That smile brought me so much courage, just what I needed to board a plane to a new place with new people.  Wing-spreading quickly became my favorite pastime, be it locally or globally.

But two weeks ago, when a friend dropped us off at John Wayne, you would’ve thought we were headed to outer Mongolia.  And I guess in some ways we were, since we were on our way to the Midwest.  In January.  Just in time for a Polar Vortex.  All I wanted to do was stay home –  a brand new sensation for this girl.

See, when life brought a season of storms – a friend’s cancer, unemployment, infertility being among the fiercest – I looked for stability anywhere I could find it.  I looked for roots, and I found them.  I fell in love with things like security and comfort – or at least their illusions.  I discovered rich community and simple joy around a living room, perfectly content for it to be the same living room over and over and over.  When we bought our house I was so excited that I could stay in this place for, like, forever. But now, with two weeks off, I was leaving it, and Did. Not. Want. To.

I’m pretty sure I got on that plane purely out of muscle memory.  Or maybe my husband carried me.  It’s a blur.

But I had to get on that plane – even though it was headed to the tundra – to find a truth that I’d forgotten.  I didn’t want to get on that plane, but I’m oh-so-glad I did. photo-16

Boarding that flight meant I got to see what Chicago’s river looks like with ice chunks fighting for elbow room.  I got a five mile arctic walk in with my husband of nine years, holding gloves instead of hands.  I got to spend ten dollars to buy some Thai monks in sandals a hot tea, only to see them get in a cab before my actions could trump the language barrier.

I got to see what my friend’s kitchen looks like. And where she shops for groceries.  And smell her trees and play in her snow and drink deep of the life she lives day by day.

I got to taste the glory of St Louis’ Candy Kitchen and Chicago’s deep dish and know what melted ricotta and chocolate chips can do to one’s soul.  I got to bask in time with such good friends, and trade hugs that can say more than a Skype date ever can.  And I got to meet new friends, forging bridges that I know we’ll cross again in the future.



As I was sitting in a Chicago Pizzeria, a place that looked like the quintessential “where-everybody-knows-your-name”, but where no one knew mine, I realized just how deeply I love having both roots and wings. Pictures of the 1921 Chicago Whitesox hung on the wall, and I imagined the team actually gathering in this place for a taste of the pizza pie I was about to indulge in (OMG Chicago’s food).  Thinking of their roots made me think of mine, and all the wonderful places where people do know my name.  And all the people that know the deepest truths of who I am, oftentimes better than I do.

Having roots doesn’t always mean staying home of course, but it does mean embracing the things that aren’t new, that change so imperceptibly that you might miss it if you’re not paying close attention.

And wings doesn’t always mean a plane flight – it means being ready for the things that ARE new, gifts you didn’t know you needed.  Even if you have a bad attitude about it at the start.

What about you?  Where (or who) are your roots?  How do you spread your wings?  And do you ever, like me, have to remember to reach for both? #truestself




I can still see the bubbles – I can still feel them on my cheeks.  I can hear the splashing – I can feel my two year old brother squirting me with his bath toys.  I can hear the sound of my own giggle as I tried to convince my mom to tell me – “Just tell me!  Tell me!  Plllllease tell me!”

And then Mom told me.  Dad had gone to visit Santa.  To give him my wish-list.  Magic.


I imagined him.  If he was visiting Santa, that meant he’d be in the snow.  Would he take a sleigh?  How did he know where to find Santa?  And then I knew:  Because magic.

I imagined Santa.  Would his white beard glisten as he laughed?  What did he wear when he wasn’t in his holiday suit?  Where did he keep his reindeer?  And what did they eat?  And then I knew:  Magic.

I can’t remember anything about my wish list.  I’m sure it was standard fare for a four-year old.  Probably something about a doll or a dress.  Maybe my favorite show, which was probably a toss up between Smurfs and He-Man.  But see, the list wasn’t the magic part.

My Dad knew Santa.  And Santa lived close.  In our mountains – my mountains.  From that moment on I was officially on “Santa watch” every time we roamed up to our local mountains.  Even in the summer.  Actually, especially in the summer, because that’s when he’d least expect me to find him.  I knew exactly what I was looking for, too.  He had to live somewhere with a barn so his reindeer could be hidden away out of sight, and I figured during the summer months Santa probably sported a short-sleeve red plaid shirt.  And cropped his beard.  And drove a jeep.  I was a very logical four-year-old.

It wasn’t long before my logical self grew out of Santa and discovered that “Dad taking him my wish list” was my Mom’s creative way of saying that Dad had gone Christmas shopping, and that the nights I’d heard jingle bells on the roof were my Dad stomping around, not Jolly Old St. Nick.  But it didn’t change the magic for me.  In fact, it increased it.  I mean, my Dad got up on our roof and walked around with jingle bells.  Now THAT’S some magic.

And I never experienced a traumatic transition from Christmas being about Santa to it being about Baby Jesus.  Smooth as butter for this young mind to learn about “the real Old St. Nick” and the Jesus he worshiped.  Because see, Santa wasn’t the magic part to me.  My Mom and Dad were the magic part.  Guys, my Dad KNEW SANTA.  Magic.  My Mom fed my imagination.  Magic.  Jingle Bells on a rooftop were even more magical knowing they belonged to my Dad instead of some guy with a white beard.

And now, thirty years after that little girl’s bath-time, with the bubbles and the splashing and the giggles all on-call for my wistful moments, my eyes still twinkle at the thought of my Mom and Dad knowing magic.  In fact, thirty years later, I need to remember that magic.  I became a really serious kid as I became a responsible big sister, and I didn’t exactly choose a magic-filled career.  But there are moments and places that capture it for me and take me right back to that four-year-old self.  Right back to a place where anything can happen, where the world is wide and full and your Dad knows Santa.  Disneyland has my number – they get me every time when they launch faux-snow right after the Christmas-melody of fireworks.  My favorite littles get me when they wrap their arms around my neck and whisper “I wuv you.”  My husband gets me every time he grabs my soap-covered hands and spins me for a dance in our kitchen.  New horizons get me.  The deep ocean gets me.  Stories of redemption get me.  In those moments, magic grabs me and shakes me and says “This life is full of me!  Look around and see me – I’m everywhere!”  And I know it’s true – magic fills this place we call home.  But it’s not the magic of flying reindeer or a bowl full of jelly.  It’s the magic of the people that help us imagine.  That open our hearts and our minds to what could be.  To create with what can’t be seen.

Magic is waiting – it’s waiting for me to close my eyes and go back to a bubble-filled bath time.  And it’s waiting for me to open my eyes and see what’s right in front of me.  If we’re wiling to look, we’ll find it behind and ahead and inside.  And maybe, just maybe, we’ll even be lucky enough to bring Magic to someone else’s story, whether it’s by strapping jingle bells on our boots or opening their heart to a new, quiet truth.  But he

re’s the thing about Magic: It can’t be sold but it can be treasured.  It can’t be buried but it can be lost.  It can’t be bought but it can be created.  You can’t taste it or see it or hold it – you have to experience it, and no one can do that for you. But be ready, because it can sneak up on you in the unlikeliest of places – even in the whispy memories of suds and bubbles.  Or in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

Merry Christmas – may it be magical.


The one that began with a baby and a puppy


Finn 15It all started with a puppy and a baby in a driveway.

As they crawled towards each other, we knew we were getting good neighbors.  We didn’t know we were getting So. Much. More.

That baby and puppy are now four years old.  And soon, the boy who is no longer a baby will pack up his mom and his dad and his sister and move away.  I’ve known this day was coming for awhile now, from the moment they sat us down and said “So, we got this email – and we’re just exploring – but this is possible.”  And there’s no doubt that they are heading to greatness – to a place that is filled with family and opportunities and God whispering to take brave steps.  And in that, there are many reasons for happy squeals.

But also, they’re leaving (insert whine).  And while friends moving away isn’t new – I guess you could say it’s one of the costs of living in Southern California – there is something very new about their move.  Because there was something very new about their friendship and the way we got to do life together.   So I’m getting a whole new set of questions directed towards me … “How are you doing with this?” … “Will you be okay?” …  at first I was put off by the attention, wanting to say I’m not so pathetic that my life won’t go on without them.

I wanted to say it’s no big deal.

ButI knew that would be a lie.  And it got me wondering –  I don’t know why we’re all afraid to say that the people in our lives are a big deal.  And really, how sad would it be if friends moving away was met with a “meh” and a shrug.  But somehow, I felt the need to down-play my response.  To down-play the impact their move will have on my life in some desperate attempt to prove independence or something equally stupid.  And yes, I do have other friends, but I don’t have another Nick, Karen, Finnden and Ellis – and having them for the last four years is such a big, beautiful deal.

Because every now and then we get friends that make our story better – like meeting characters in a book that you didn’t realize were even missing until you meet them and sit back and say “ah yes, this is a better story now”.  They are the characters that make you laugh so hard that no sound is coming out.  The ones that help you heal.  That grab a flashlight and hold it out in the dark and scary places God calls you into.  The ones that make you jump into a pool with all your clothes on.  That will down a cheeseburger and donuts with you at midnight.  The ones that play a major role in the scenes choked by laughter and the ones drowning in tears.

Finn 5The days that started with a puppy and a baby in a driveway became nights of laughter around a dinner table.  Talks that started with the traditional “what do you do?” evolved into “who are you as your truest self?”  Through walks and talks and game nights and movie nights and play dates and work days and heart-times and hard-times those questions found answers.  Through diapers and long work shifts and hard losses and great wins we grew and changed.  Through celebrating together.  Through mourning together.  Through sharing words, and the moments that there are no words for.  Through watching and waiting.  Together.

And somewhere, in between the simple days and the deep places, friends became these friends.  And my story was bettered because their baby met my puppy in the driveway.

I recently read this question:  “How expensive is it to be rich in friends?”  Answer:  So expensive.  Especially when you say “goodbye” or “see ya later” or “send me pictures of your new home!  and your new friends!  except the skinny pretty ones, don’t send me their pictures”.  So expensive – if you’re willing.  And we should always, always be willing.

It’s tempting – in this season of change – to decide that this is the Last Great Goodbye that I’m willing to make.  But I know that’s not me.  We decided long ago that the currency we’d most prefer to be rich in is friends, and we are indeed wealthy, so with that comes costs.  So I’m choosing to feel it all, and to be willing to feel it again.  I’m choosing to feel the deep sense of gratitude to the Great Storyteller who knew I needed a Nick, a Karen, a Finnden and an Ellis.  I’m choosing to answer questions about how I’m doing with their move by celebrating that people matter – that friends are a big deal.  I’m choosing to let myself cry even as I write this, because tears are the bodies’ way of saying that something matters.  I’m choosing to cherish each memory of Finn and Ellis growing teeth and personalities and knowing that even if I don’t make it into their long-term memory, I got to give them a special place in mine.  I’m choosing to rejoice with friends that are following God’s voice and will again be surrounded by seasons (I’ve heard there are 4) and grandparents.  I’m praying for the new friends that will fill their living room and their hearts – yes, even the skinny pretty friends.

And I’m choosing to be ready.  Ready to share life across the country instead of across the room.  Ready for surprises that show up in a driveway.  Ready to be messy and generous and needy and real.  Ready to live life that is both expensive and rich.  Ready to say that we should all be so lucky to live life so wholly together that a friend moving away is Such. A. Big. Deal.

Finn 1


The Quest for the Perfect Egg: And other messy problems


Six months ago, we set out on our craziest idea yet:  to renovate and remodel our first home.  I love that we are crazy enough to take on crazy projects.  And we’re talking crazy.  Move a wall here, build a wall there, not to mention gutting two kitchens and three bathrooms.   And don’t even get me started on the invisible stuff.

And I love the results. I am over-the-moon for our new kitchen, our new bathrooms, and the Air Conditioning that has saved our sanity this summer.  Our new house is slowly becoming a home.  One of my love languages is having our living room, kitchen, and yard filled with faces, and soon we’ll have guest rooms ready and the door will officially be opened wide!

And yes, before and after pictures will definitely be in order.

But before the after, there’s the messy.   The crazy.  The dust.  The just-one-more-thing-to-do.

This remodel project has taught me a lot about myself, and about being messy.  I’m a big fan of before-and-after, and sometimes I wait to share stories until I have the “after” figured out.  But messy is where life happens.

Having now lived through six months of a remodel, this is how I would describe it:  Remodeling is like issuing an invitation to all first-world problems to come through your front door.

Enter: the Story of a Stove.  Yes, a stove.  The Stove that has been bought twice and delivered thrice.

We grinned as we made grown-up purchases to replace our once-upon-a-college-student’s appliance collection of the past.  Our smiles faded when problem after problem arose.  It shouldn’t be so hard.  But it has been.  Countless obstacles have attacked this one part of our home, despite our best research, consumer-reporting, and careful purchasing.

Let me tell you, nothing makes you hate the first world more than fighting with a stove company about delivery, damage, broken promises, bad service, and all the requisite cash that comes from those issues.  I mean, it’s just a stove.  The classic first-world problem.  It’s not like I’m scouring to find food in the first place.

But also, it’s a stove.  My stove.  Where pancakes and spaghetti and cookies and over-easy eggs are destined to be made.  Where onions are sizzled and peppers are stir-fried and bacon sizzles.  A critical ingredient to a house becoming a home.

The Story of the Stove – with its grueling hours, mind-numbing delays, and costly detours – ended this week.  This week I got my stove.  I got to turn on my burner and see the beautiful blue of burning gas.  This, after driving like a bat out of hell to meet the handyman for installation.  Bat-out–of-hell, people.

The first night I made a beautiful egg with a golden yolk and celebrated the end of this particular first-world problem.  But I won’t pretend it wasn’t one heckofa messy road to get this “simple” thing done, and I’ll have an extra dose of grace for the next time a friend faces a first-world problem.

I think a lot of us face this – we come up against things that “shouldn’t be this hard.”  But sometimes they are.    Sometimes the things that should be the simplest can end up being the hardest.  Sometimes the things that should take minutes take hours.  Sometimes the things that seem so easy for someone (everyone?) else are your personal nemesis.

That’s life.  It gets messy.  But then again, the messy is what makes you appreciate the beauty all the more – like the golden hue of a perfect egg.



Words of Wisdom from Andy


Like a million other Office-fans, I tuned out somewhere in the middle.  But before the end, there was something that beckoned me back, and I cuddled up to watch The Office Finale.  It’s funny how characters on a show can be a part of your life – not that Jim and Pam and I were ever buddies, but watching them in the finale reminded me of the days I watched them fall in love.  And who I watched those early seasons with.  Such fun memories.

And then Andy – my third-least favorite character, to be honest (Kelly & Ryan leading the pack) – throws this at my soul: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

How true these words ring in my heart.

There are all different kinds of good old days, and I’m convinced that life holds several sets of them.

There are the days that you don’t know are good until they are in fact old – until life has given you a new perspective and you see those old days as better than they felt at the time.  Then there are the classic good old days.  The days you know are good when you’re in them.  When you look around at smiling faces, when you feel safe and whole and take deep breaths of sunshine.  When friendships are vibrant and secure and you laugh at tomorrow because the idea of tomorrow bringing change seems ridiculously odd.

But then tomorrow comes.  And it brings change.  And you find yourself looking backwards.  And wondering when you left the good old days behind.

I’ve already been lucky enough to experience several sets of good old days … the good old days of five girls crammed into a tiny apartment and living off laughter … the good old days when Jason was an RD and we didn’t pay rent or utilities or know that married couples could fight about such silly things … the good old days when we hiked backpacks onto our shoulders and cast cares to the wayside, hopping trains and planes and rikshaws … the good old days when we breathed deep of community and found the beauty of roots.  So many good old days.

Good old days are ahead, but good old days are behind, too.

It’s the days in between those good old days that can get to me sometimes.  And I’m in those days right now.  The days where things are shifting, where there is both loss and gain.  The days of change.  These are hard days for me.

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

But there’s not.  Maybe that’s part of the magic of the good old days.  There’s no way to know when they will end.  They could be as endless as an Indian Summer or as fleeting as a dandelion’s puff.

If you’re in a set of good old days right now – be it an office where you sell paper, a Church you call Home (and mean it), a sweet friendship where you can be messy, or a time of simplicity – breathe deep.  Say thanks.  And call them the good old days.  Now.  Before you leave them.  String up lights and celebrate those people and places you’ll always be glad were a part of your days.


The kind that are hard to find


There are lots of friends in this life.  But some are terribly hard to find.  They are the ones you don’t even realize you’ve found until they are a natural part of your life.  The ones who invite themselves to your house mid-flu-season with a yummy soup and cheerful flowers.  The ones who make everything they touch beautiful.  The ones who wear heart-shaped glasses that make you roll your eyes in love, because it reminds you that they live life with their heart exposed.  The kind that walk through the deep, dark ugly days – yours and their own, and while they may flinch, they don’t run.  The kind who make you laugh but aren’t afraid when you cry.

I am so lucky to have many friends like this.  They are my lovelies.  Some are near, and too many are too far away.

One such lovely is about to board a plane to her new home tomorrow.  We’re excited for her new chapter of life – and the many visits we’ll have to make to Hawaii for visits (I know, I know, we are selfless when it comes to visiting friends).  But also,  “see-ya-later” is not the same as “see-ya-tomorrow”, and it makes you look at the chapter-past, to celebrate the life that has been shared, and take a few deep sighs for what will change as life is now shared long-distance.  What did people do before text messaging, face time and frequent flyer miles?  I mean, seriously.

So today, take a minute.  Look around you and take stock of those friends that are hard to find.  The lovelies in your world.  If they are long-distance already, send them a message or a smile or maybe even an old-fashioned postcard with blue ink and everything.  If they are right next door, run over for a just-because-hug.

And celebrate.  Celebrate that God made this whack-a-doo life to be shared.