Author Archives: allthingshopedfor

These Days

Fall fell upon us
The bigs are back in school
You and me
have big things to do
in our pj’s and disheveled hair
pull things out of drawers
off shelves
test the theory of gravity
over and over again
with big grins and thrills of delight
over sound and unexpected consequence
big things
like climb all those stairs
and come back down
five pudgy fingers
clasped tight around one
dance to lullabies
and mama’s favorite rock tunes
cry with you in my arms
as we spin around the room
to love songs
written just for you and me
I get to look into your eyes more
these days
with just us two
see you think
nuances of emotions
wonderment and frustration abound
I get to see you, know you, calm you, help you,
love you
(what a gift
how do I deserve this?)
words forming
in emphatic syllables of garbled sound
increasing in decibels with big body gestures
as I guess
ball? bear? hair? there?
we are figuring out our language
you and me
dancing to rhythms
of this precious life
thankful beyond measure
for the everyday normal
of nothing too special
that exceeds anything
special,
so special.
The world, my God,
is here now.


Streams of Sunlight

The rains did come. I woke in the middle of the night with the most horrible migraine and needed to take the medication that I hate to have to take if I had any hope of caring for my children the next day. (sidenote: I don’t like to take medication, I’d rather remedy the source. I could give you the laundry list of natural and western medicine assessments and remedies I have pursued over the last 15 years, but why bore you? They go 3 generations back and magically go away with menopause, something to look forward to I guess)

So it was a slow morning while I waited for my pain to dissipate. But we played inside and had a special guest to tea until us Seatteites couldn’t stand it any longer and headed outside to play in the drizzle. We played my 5 year old son’s favorite games, which is anything with a ball or a frisbee, but a round of baseball and soccer kept us smiling until the drizzle turned downpour. We were so soaked and cold that a warm bath and cozy nap fixed us up well. By afternoon the clouds were clearing and the sun was making it’s way out. I ended the day talking and laughing, and reading Anne of Green Gables with my 7 year old daughter until way past her bedtime.

By morning the brightness and warmth had returned. I smiled at seeing my daughter cozied up in the windowseat reading Pippi Longstocking for most of the morning.
I laughed as I patiently taught my determined 20 month old to blow her own bubbles until she no longer put the wand to her lips to eat soap. I reveled in childhood wonder as my son caught small eels and crabs on the beach in his ocean water filled bucket just as I had done with little frogs at my childhood lake cabin.

By midday we said goodbye to the last of our summertime guests at our Salmon Fishing Lodge and the work of ending began. At dinner we talked about our favorite memories from the summer. I cut potatoes and one slice looked like a heart. It resembled the luck I feel when I find a rare heart-shaped rock on the beach for my kitchen window collection. Through small everyday moments of life, the problems and frustrations that were clouding me faded. They are not gone, and at the risk of appearing fickle as the weather, I must admit that the sun shone brighter than the issues of the day. I’d say they were “God-sightings” if I were encouraging my children to see blessings in their day. But I believe God can be seen and is in all things, even in our trials. It is I that rise and fall with the tides of circumstance, much as I seek to be steadfast and strong for Him. The real strength is always in Him. But I do appreciate the sun, the light moments in life, and I will soak it in and say “thanks be to God” for each bit of it.


Storms-A-Brewing

Summer is ending and I am not ok with that. Today was a bright sunny day. We played outside, walked on the beach, shut the blinds and opened the window to feel the breeze at dinner time. The rains are set to hit tomorrow. It will be September, fall is near, and the beginning of everything that’s too much. I am just not ready. We’ve been sprinting too long and the marathon is yet to begin. I want to live the summer that seemed to pass us by.

But I want this season to be over. It has been a hard one, at times, and in ways. Not persistent or constant, tragic or torrential, just hard, at times, and it casts a shadow on the sun, that eventually did come. It always does.

I could detail the woes of business worries, lament unforeseen burdens of new roles in life, complain in the chorus of moms who go it alone while their husbands are gone or work hard, too hard, to sustain their family, follow their passion, or both. I could whine about sickness and chronic pain that renders me nearly useless too often these days. I could go on, get more specific. But I won’t. For I fear I shall be over-shadowing that which is so very good in it all, not a sappy silver lining, but truly, so much is so good.

I fear coming across negative, complaining, self-pitying, not optimistic enough, faithful enough, passionate, content or hard working enough, worry I must work harder to make it better. The weight is upon me.

But you see, it never is.

“My yoke is easy,

my burden is light”

He says.

And I believe Him but

I believe Him and

Life is just hard sometimes

and I have be the one to live mine

not alone, ever

I

Believe

Him.

Tomorrow it will rain

My children will smile,

I will hold their soft skinned limbs

feed and nurture them

with all that I have to give

no matter the pain

we will play

the sun will be there too

no matter the storm

it will just be there, and I will know it, feel it

done nothing to bare it

always

light, He reminds me

light


Keeping Vigil

I am awake much too late, and not haphazardly. After a long weekend of late night wedding celebrations and a long play-filled visit with dear friends from childhood, I was more than ready for an early night’s rest. But alas, my husband is on a journey north, a long journey, after a long weekend for him too, and I am prone to keep vigil until he arrives safely at his destination. I will not sleep soundly until he does. God bless me when I have teenagers!

My husband Scott gave an inspiring homily at the wedding of JIm and Mary Anne Frank about the work of a relationship. Citing wisdom from the New Testament and referencing the tides he bases life around when fishing, he gave a charge to all in relationships to serve one another wholeheartedly and be ready for the changes, and there will be goodness. He danced into the night with a grateful wife and 3 giddy children. It is a rare treat to get to be at a wedding together as the salmon season in Canada usually takes precedence to everything summer. But now he is a pastor, and his work divides his time, forcing a bit of normal summer life upon him when he is home overseeing ministry rather than the 18 hour days a seasonal resort requires of him. But, he must to return north.

His long journey began at 4:00 a.m this morning in Spokane so that he would be able to take guests fishing at 4:00 a.m. the following morning in northern British Columbia. He caught a flight to Seattle in time to pastor and preach at our satellite campus church, Bethany North. After the final chair had been stacked and the last storage trailer had been parked, he headed north toward the Canadian border for the beginning of a 10 hour trip. Meeting an overbooked ferry early in the day added a 2 1/2 hour wait to his journey and negated his chances of catching the last possible ferry to Malcolm Island, his final destination. McGyver-style, he figured it all out and had a boat delivered to the main Island, so he could arrive at his final destination in time.

As I nestle my children to bed, gather up my own good book to read and snuggle myself in at a very reasonable hour, I find I am wide awake waiting and can’t focus on my reading. His cell phone coverage is spotty in the more desolate parts as he drives the length of Vancouver Island so when he last could call I asked him to text when he arrived at the boat and then again when he had made it across. I have seen what can be in the water during the day. I know every last person at his destination will be sound asleep. The night crossing has me anxious, as does his late night drive after long full, albeit fun, days. I will keep vigil for him.

11:26 p.m. the first text comes in: “Port McNeill. Beautiful night for a boat ride”

I have been waiting and praying, for his safe arrival. He must be exhausted. I wish I could give him the gift of sleep he so often offers me when he’s up at fisherman’s hours in the off-season months to care for our early risers. I would drive the car or the boat late into the night while he slept, if only I could be journeying with him. But I am now hundreds of miles away and my only point of common reference is the dark starry sky out my window. I pray it will be bright for him.

My favorite lullaby to my children is my favorite for the words,

“Sleep my child
and peace attend thee,
all through the night.
Guardian angels God will send thee
all through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber steeping,
I my loving vigil keeping,
all through the night.”

That is what I do, keep vigil at night. I hear every sound, every cry, every pitter pat of tiny feet, every questionable bump in the night inside or outside. I am alert, even when I am sound asleep, I will awake and take on the night. I will do everything I can to nurture and protect my family, every hour of the day. I would have done well as a Shepherd and honored to be in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But the reality, is I can only do so much. Really, I can’t do much at all when I consider what truly might take my child’s breath or put us in danger. The real comfort of this lullaby comes not in resonating with my loving vigil, but the prayer of the beginning: Peace attend thee, my child, God will send Guardian Angels (Thanks be to God). I only keep watch, it is He who will protect thee. (Please and Amen).

I swoop into my children’s rooms each night just before I go to bed to hold my vigil one last time before I seek my own sleep. When my husband is away, I am all the more vigilant. Tonight though, it is his journey away from us that keeps me waiting and watching for his safe arrival. I realize how powerless I am from afar to protect him, just how powerless I will be as my children grow older, gain more freedoms and eventually depart from my home. But still I will keep my vigil, still I will pray. My only strength is His, that He provides guardian angels, that He keeps watch.

12:02 “Home. Bed. Goodnight.”

12:03 “Oh good, I love you!”

“Sleep my child and peace attend thee,” He whispers to me.


Great With Child a book review

Resolution is in sight! As I transfer all my files from one computer to another and onto an external hard drive for safekeeping until I get my pc wiped and re programmed (today is my appointment!) I am coming across things I have written in the past and thought this was a fun piece to share. Great With Child is easily my favorite book of all time. And, THIS was actually my first publication, it was for our MOPS newsletter a few years back. I hope you enjoy…

I have a bit of an obsession with books, not that I find much time to read them these days, but even so, I yearn to consume the written word with an insatiable hunger for information and inspiration. Books on parenting, devotionals, a good novel or two, professional resources and plenty of abc’s and 123’s are strewn across my headboard, jammed into shelves in every room, packed into my office and sometimes placed strategically near the toilet (where it seems I get my most consistent reading in these days). Of all these books that serve one purpose or another in my life, there is one I go to like a latte after another night of broken sleep and savor like good chocolate after a season of lent. Great with Child: Reflections on Faith, Fullness and Becoming a Mother is a favorite manuscript in my library. My mind and soul yearn for the words on these pages as a most genuine reflection of the range of emotion I feel at this great juncture.
Debra Rienstra, an English professor from Calvin College, writes with eloquence, humor, candor and faith about all topics feminine. We get to ride the river of life with her from the deep yearning for motherhood, to the grumpy perfectionism that rises in us as we seek to “nest” just-so; laughter over various bodily fluids excreted by mother and child soon after birth, to reverence over our ability to join the Creator in creation, shedding blood to have children as Jesus shed His blood for us. Rienstra shares the story, that feels like pieces of every woman’s story, of her own struggle toward conception, the sacred walk of pregnancy, questions of identity in work and relationships, and the ultimate bliss, chaos and meaning that comes with a child.
Drawing on a myriad of writings both secular and sacred, she is single-handedly the best book-club resource for mothers who would like to stay connected to something intellectual without sacrificing these fleeting days of splashy bath times, wide-eyed-wonder and high pitched “I wove yous.” And the best part is the book can, and should be read a little at a time. One paragraph, one sentence even, begs to be tasted and savored. Akin to a dear friend speaking words of truth so piercing that tears well-up at being thus well known, Great with Child illuminates the sacredness of womanhood mixed with motherhood as a beautiful tapestry, breathtaking overall and precious in detail.
Daunting to find one quote that might exemplify the book, Rienstra’s own response to how she did it sums well. One asks “You wrote this book during your third pregnancy and then during the baby’s first year? Are you crazy? I haven’t been able to write up a decent grocery list since my first baby was born!” Amen sister. Riesntra’s responds “I am not exactly sure…I had to do it…Giving life to a child seemed to irradiate my thoughts about everything else – the body, womanhood, culture, God-everything. I wanted to read something that treated motherhood in the fullness of its dimensions, social, and personal, body, mind, and soul.” And to her newborn son, and thus vicariously to us all “For you is the mystery waiting, for you it was hidden for ages in God who created all things. Be rooted and grounded in love. Comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth. Know those things that surpass all knowledge. Be filled to the measure, my little one, with the fullness of God.” And again, I say, amen.


I’m Published!

Someday I will get into a good rhythm with this blog (having my pc fixed will help!). In the meantime, I wanted to share the good news that I have published my first official article! I am pretty excited. It was quite a thrill to pour myself into something heartfelt and then see it arrive in my mailbox in print.

I just discovered I can point you to the online version, so until I have my pc all to myself again to do some more blogging (I keep stealing my hard working husband’s whenever I can) here is the link to some other writing I have been doing. Once you get there click on the Spring 2011 Newsletter and scroll to page 11. My article was given the title “From Happiness to Grief and Back Again” (my original title was “A Case for the Range” which was obviously a bit out there to make sense to the masses – I’ll take the edited title:). Or you can go to http://www.wamft.org and click on the newsletter tab to get there.

If you take the time to find and read it I would love to hear your thoughts. It would not only mean something to me personally but professionally it will inform my work as a therapist too. If you have a story to share of when you have felt affirmed, and therefore cared for, when you were not at your best and it made you better, I would love to post those too.

I definitely feel encouraged to get some more inspired thoughts out there as soon as I can!

Hope you feel encouraged in whatever emotional state you are in today (you’ll see what I mean:).


Pause Explained: Computer Problems (Argh!)

I have been on hiatus here every since I downloaded my Italy pictures to my laptop. I overloaded my hard drive (one theory – I am praying it is true and not something worse) and cannot get my pc to turn on. It was a dumb move. My laptop was running a little slow before I left so I took it in to the amazingly helpful mac store (seriously, amazingly helpful, kind, patient, speak in human) and the genius bar rep told me I just had way to many things on it, showed me how to get a good view of everything I had, brainstormed other ways of storing things with me and taught me how to run some regular diagnostics in the future. I felt affirmed, empowered and equipped to take care of my issues and move forward. What more could a therapist cask for from an IT session?

So, unthinking me, high on Italy, just added a ton of new documents for writing ideas, can’t wait to get blogging and show off some of the amazing Italian vistas and new faces in my life, forgets all this and downloads a boatload of new pictures. Crash!

Well, good ol’ genius bar guy at the Mac store gets me all set up again, again treats me like a semi-intelligent human being, even after I come in tail between my legs admitting I should have known better not to do this and actually teaches me how to rescue my own hard drive so that I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to someone who will look at me like I just fed my children cyanide. (whew that was a long sentence!)

So, that’s what I have been up to…transferring the entire contents of my hard drive (thousands of pictures, everything I have ever written of any significance (or insignificance), importance, work, creative or practical-life related. Let’s just say I said quite a heartfelt “Amen, thank you Lord!” when he showed me how it all could be retrieved.

That, and all the other tasks, duties, lovelies and grinds of life that I can’t wait to write about. So stay tuned…

* I am so excited to share more stories (and PICTURES) from Italy!
* I am in a season of transition and looking forward to sharing some thoughts, insights and questions around that.
* Always, there are pondering about parenting, faith, life as a mom, woman, child of God to share too – all locked away in that gold mine of a hard drive I am so diligently recovering. (The process is great by the way, such a good chance to de-clutter and take stock, much like moving, which I just did, so really this has kind of been a good life over haul for me.)

Be back soon!


Mass

Cathedral in Tuscany

On that first morning in Montalcino, I strolled down to breakfast on the hotel patio that once were the barracks of the town. The outside wall plunged deep into the greenery below to reveal awe-inspiring views of the classic Tuscan landscape below. Picturing a table for one to enjoy the view, I was surprised to see a table full of people from my class that wasn’t to begin until evening. I nearly ducked and covered but was spotted and invited to join them. We exchanged names and cities of origin, made small talk and navigated the awkward beginnings of connection while I secretly planned my escape.
Janeen is a chef in her 70’s who doesn’t look a day past fifty. She is from New York with an accent and authority to match. After I had taken a few bites of my fresh yogurt and peaches, and doctored my tea just so she announced she was going to Mass, as if, of course, we would all join her. Without much thought, I nodded. Church sounded good to me. Mass though? I admit I felt a little intimidated. Being an English speaking Protestant pastor’s wife, fear of awkwardness has kept me from attending church in Europe where Catholicism dominates. I had been to a few Catholic Mass serviced with dear friends growing up, and that was difficult enough to feel like I fit in and could follow the routines, let alone the idea of trying to follow along in another language. Moments like these are good for me, to remember once again what it is like for someone to think of coming to church with me. I am always seeking to get past the culture of church that would ever make anyone feel like an outsider. There is something so beautiful about ritual though, and I have come to appreciate more and more the Catholic approach to following our shared savior.

Janeen charged us up the cobblestone hill to the church as if we were running late for the F-train to Manhattan.

“I have been to church everywhere I travel to. Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, wherever I can get my God fix while I travel.”

“Oh, I said” a little curious about what Janeen really believed. “So, what kind of church do you attend in New York?”

“Presbyterian” she said “I am a Steven Minister at my church there and attend every Sunday. I have to have my Sabbath.”

I just smiled at her and followed her confident stream into the Cathedral. There I watched her cues, and those of the locals, for the ups and downs and hallelujahs and amens. Themes became evident in the little bit of language I could translate. Then we began to sing and sounds were familiar. My heart started to beat faster and that familiar lump lodged in my throat. I sang through. The words that I stumbled and jumbled over in trying to speak the language flow effortlessly, beautifully even, off my tongue as I sang them. Italian hymns translated in my heart and I was worshipping the God I know intimately, who transcends language and culture, everywhere.

Then the Lord’s Prayer…

Padre Nostro

Padre nostro che sei nei cieli
sia santificato il tuo nome
venga il tuo regno
sia fatta la tua volontà
come in cielo così in terra.
Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano
Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti
Come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori.
E non ci indurre in tentazione
Ma liberaci dal male.
Amen.

The familiar rhythmic hum, the same pauses, the purposeful prose of these words enveloped me into this community, reminded me why we do this together, why we gather. Never are we alone. Our God, our same God is with us, and we gather to celebrate and symbolize our trinitarian relational faith..

Padre Nostro translates to “Father Who is Ours” I love that.

Mass was followed by a long shared lunch under an umbrella on a patio in town. We shared the daily special ravioli and a salad as if we’d done it a hundred times before. She tasted my Chardonnay and I took my first sip of the trip of Brunello. After swapping stories about faith, kids, motherhood, careers and passions I was bonded to Janeen for a lifetime. My mother-like God-loving full-of-zest-for-life new friend from the other side of the country, on the other side of the world.


Process or Prophecy

I signed the waiver detailing the inherent risks in travel and read the recommended reasons for travel insurance. One was to get my body home in the case of my death. I feared leaving my children, “what if something happens to them while I am gone?” I thought, “what if something happens to me and they have to endure the loss?” It was unbearable to consider.

But suddenly I had arrived in Italy and Scott was with me and everything was as we had remembered on our honeymoon. I was happy and at peace. It was warm, the sun was shining and we were walking hand in hand down a cobblestone street in Montalcino, smiling at one another and taking it all in. The road was wide with tall stone houses all in a row to our left and the low town wall beside it with a view of the bright green Tuscan landscape rolling beyond. Even the furniture in our room was familiar, pieces had come from our home. I felt welcome and secure.

Then Scott was gone and I was walking by myself again along the road looking out over the bright green hills touching azure blue sky, signature cypress trees, and a few terra cotta colored villas when two parachuters came gliding slowly down from high above. It was a breathtaking sight, I felt the allure of their adventure. Except one was having trouble. The red parachute was billowing all around his body, sucked to him with only small pillows of trapped air inside. His arms and legs were flapping frantically to push it away and up so that it could gather air again. My heart was pounding as he started falling faster. I started running toward him. Someone must help him! I must do something!

Running closer I knew I was helpless. I was too far away. Immediately I prayed, big, strong, you-better-hear-me-God prayers and I ran to the edge of the green, then gasped for air, and jolted awake.

Body sweating, heart still racing, I was trembling as I looked at the clock, 4 a.m. I started to cry, the dream like a postcard image burning bright colors in my mind. It was too real, too symbolic. Was it process of prophesy?

Over the next few days I couldn’t shake the fear I felt in that moment and wondered if I was going to be able to do this, if was I making a big mistake. Our family has already been devastated by grief, could I knowingly make a choice that involves some level of risk? Oh Dear God, these inevitable losses will happen someday, I know full well, but please not now, nor anytime too soon, I just don’t think I could bear it quite yet.


Hoping for Italy

Tuscany

I heard of the trip years before, three or four maybe, when I had gifted my husband, the writer-in-residence of the relationship, with a class studying narrative non-fiction. He’s written poems and lyrics, a screenplay, a book, an inspiring blog, sermons to change your life, and short stories that earned him English Department Scholar for his graduating class at Whitworth. He’d been to 6 continents by his late twenties and has plans to visit Alaska and Greenland as final frontiers, until the next destination calls. A writer and traveler, perceptive and proactive, I’ve loved him and wanted to live the adventures of life with him from our first encounter.

But that is him, and much as I could talk on and on about the great things he’s done and how wonderful he is, this is about my adventures though, lest I fall habitually into my most accustomed role as supporter and encourager of all that is around me, and not so much what is within.

It feels crazy to think of taking this trip at this time. My baby daughter broke her arm this week after bracing herself from a fall. We were up multiple nights caring for her in her pain, in the ER and as she transitioned to life with a cast. My husband’s busy season of work begins next week. I have so many end-of-the-year-events for my kids that I am having trouble keeping track. We are still living amongst boxes and unpacked bags in our new home. What kind of wife and mom am I to leave my family at such a time? Let alone the expense! As a church, and as a family, we are currently in a season of seeking to live more simply in order to raise money for wells to bring water to people in need in Africa. We will not draw from that donation, but still I struggle with Christian guilt around things like this. (Luckily I am married to my pastor who understands grace and celebration of life far better than I and continues to bless me with reminders)

We live a full, FULL, life with our 7 year, 5 year and 17 month old children, careers, ministries, volunteer work and activities. I am a binge and purge sleeper, rare that I get myself to bed at a decent hour, but relish it when I can luxuriate in it. What mom with any passion in addition to motherhood does get regular sleep? It is at night when all the ideas of my days that go untapped unleash. I get a few paragraphs into a blog, (but rarely have time or bravery to edit and post), pen a journal entry to one of my children capturing an epiphany of their personality, significant moment from their day or a prayer for their life, or daze out over a few hundred e-mails I must deal with at some point, so why not now? feeling that fleeting wink of a high like I have actually checked something of off my ever long to-do list. Life as a mom makes the hours in the margins bulge.

May I make myself perfectly clear though, I adore my life as a mom. I embraced motherhood like I did swimming, diving confidently, deep and excitedly into waters that felt more like home to my immersed body than dry land ever had. I have relished it, found purpose for my in life in it, and in seasons, have sought to maintain my identity as an individual with interests before and beyond early it. It is easy for these pieces of myself to feel lost, like all those little mismatched socks in the ever-bearing pile of laundry. The demands of mothering are constant, require more of me than I sometimes have to give and are wrought with rewards beyond measure.

Following my recent miscarriage (two and half years after the devastation of our stillborn son) Scott secretly inquired to see if there was still room in the writing class to Montalcino, coming to the realization that recent circumstances in our lives, including the miscarriage, could make the trip a possibility. I felt a call to write a few years ago and have sought to follow that as time and life circumstances have allowed. One of those pursuits was a writing class this fall in Seattle where I had learned of the Italy class and had kept the flyer for the trip on my bulletin board ever since, even brought it with us on our recent move to our new home. Scott and I spent our honeymoon in Italy, a whole week exploring the Tuscany and had particularly enjoyed the small hill town of Montalcino known for their Brunello red wine, the most reputable in the country. I remember reading in Anne Lamott’s book Operating Instructions about her life as a new mom that she had been a food critic at the time. How wonderful, I thought, to eat amazing food and be able to write about it. I thank God for every meal and have had experiences with food like that felt divine. I held hope that one day it would all come together to go and learn how to form gratitude for delicious food into inspired words. One day, when I was not pregnant or nursing. One day when we had a little extra money set aside. One day when we could use some airline miles for tickets and the kids could be cared for while Scott worked and I could leave my work and obligations for a bit and, and, and…one day.

There was one spot left, this would be one day. This is why I love my husband. Not because he is regularly so extravagant (he is typically wisely frugal) but because he believes in pursuing life experiences. He makes things happen.

When I met Scott at a Young Life fundraising event we were both nervous young college students speaking to a room full of respectable donors about our love for God and our love for kids and our dedication to ministry. We were each immediately smitten in hearing the other’s passion and priorities. I was volunteering at various stations throughout the evening and when Scott coincidentally kept showing up in the vicinity I gradually realized this was on purpose and gained the courage to notice and respond. Our first conversation is etched in my mind. A piece of that was discovering he was studying American travel literature and after graduation planned to travel to every state in the lower 48 states of the U.S. and write a book about it. He spoke with such assurance, humility and purpose that I knew he meant it; rare for a young college graduate, or anyone I’d ever met for that matter, to have such a vision and follow it. I knew him for 3 life bonding months before he left. Much as my heart ached to see him go, I knew he must in order to be the man he was created to be, and the man I would always adore.

In addition to securing my place in the class, Scott booked airline tickets scraping together some hidden air miles and made arrangements for the care of our kids; things I needed to come together well in order to feel any peace about going. He kept telling me it was so important for our kids to see me follow my dreams, to offset the mom-guilt he knows plagues me whenever I feel like I am being self-indulgent, much as I agreed with him. I preach self-care, but still it is hard to feel worthy of such an experience. It was also very scary to think of being apart from my family when life so recently reminded me once again how unpredictable our days can be; both a motivator to pursue my passions while I can and to never leave the vicinity of my loved ones.

So I am off to Italy, to follow a dream and a call, learn a new craft, relish some time of creativity and solitude, and meet new friends from all over the country. I will ache for the voices and hundreds of moments of physical contact I have with my husband and little ones who hug and climb and cling and fall and need me throughout the day, as I need them.

This is how we live – longing for togetherness and connection even as we seek to live out our unique purposes and passions as individuals. The beauty of it all is how we dance, in and out of sync, sometimes solo and adrift moving to the rhythms we alone perceive and sometimes in embrace aware of the joy and shelter we share in and create as we move. We sing and we cheer and we smile and we delight when we gather in our living room with music turned loud passing baby and big kids up and down and around for swings and for dips and stealing a kiss or a twirl, remind each other of why we seek so purposefully to capture and cherish this beautiful life we have been given.