Thank You

I know an incredible number of good people.

We-e-e-e-e-e-ll, it seems that only one of us took the talk after Scott’s funeral seriously (Scott Stories).  We were going to slam the old book shut and start a new one together.  The old one has been slammed, indeed.  But instead of writing a new one with me, J decided he’s leaving, for the third and final time.  The Lord told me the night before J did that he’d made his choice, and so I’m currently dealing with all the unpleasant decisions that need to be made.  I could write thousands of words about the roller coaster of emotions I’m wanting to get off of, about the hindsight that illuminates the truth that I forgave many, many things over the years that were so not okay, but frankly, I don’t want to write about all that.  I’m experiencing it as it is, so why give it any more attention than necessary?

Instead, what I want to say is thank you.  Friends across the country reached out to me when I broke the news on Facebook, and many of you continue to check on me nearly 2 weeks later.  I am humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of support y’all have given me.  There’s such healing in just knowing I matter to people.

For most of my life, I have felt completely alone.  Well, okay, I’ve always known the Lord is with me, but in terms of people, that’s a different story.  There have been so, so many instances where I’ve walked through things that people had no clue about, or they couldn’t relate, so they just backed off uncomfortably.  It’s not a good feeling, and after time, it leads to not really trusting anyone, while at the same time, desperately needing someone to come alongside and be supportive.  That push-pull is exhausting, and I can’t speak for more extroverted personalities, but it tends to make us introverts draw inward even further.  Which further heightens the sense of aloneness and keeps us from reaching out even when we really should.

Initially, I posted about this situation on Facebook because I knew it would get out eventually, and I didn’t relish the idea of having to talk about it over and over when the questions started coming in.  But instead of questions, people offered prayers and hugs and shoulders to cry on.  They sent private messages telling me about their own, similar situations, asking me if I’d slept or eaten that day, reminding me that I matter.  And I began to experience something that many of my fellow humans already know:  there’s a cushion of peace and acceptance in hard situations that comes from sharing your brokenness.  I guess there’s always the chance of someone being horrible about it, too, but that has not been the case here.

So, my friends, thank you again, even though the words aren’t adequate.  Your love has been life-giving to me in a time that I have questioned every good quality I have.  The simple act of taking a few moments out of your days to reach out has helped me breathe a little easier and keep moving forward.  The sleeping and eating parts, I’m still working on.  But it will all balance out eventually, and maybe I’ll get skinny in the process.  The Lord has been very, very present with me, and he said, “It may be over with him, but it is far from the end for you.”  So I’m hopeful for my future, and I am held afloat by the concern and care from so many good people in my life.

Thank you. ❤

Scott Stories

Warning: this is not an easy read.

Around 8 o’clock Thursday night, I was already in my pj’s and about to start a book, when my doorbell rang repeatedly.  J was at work, and M was whaling on his drums, so I got up to answer it.  One of the twins from next door stood there.  He said, “I know it’s late, but I need to tell you about my father.”  As I ushered him in, I asked, “Is Scott okay?” and the twin said, “No. He’s dead.”  I quickly ran to get M, and as the other twin showed up, they began to tell us about the events of the previous night.

The twins, their girlfriends, and Scott had gone “4-bying,” their name for mountain crawling, in Scott’s tricked out, yellow Jeep Wrangler.  The boys and their dad had done this a hundred times; this was the girls’ first time.  And all was well until a brake line got cut and the trip back down the mountain turned into a rollover that ejected everyone but Scott from the Jeep and crushed his skull under the roll bar, killing him instantly.  Everyone else walked away with scratches.

I listened, I hugged, and I offered the boys and their mom whatever they needed that I could provide, but there really are never any “right” words in situations like this.  They told us they would give us the funeral details soon, and they left.  And I spent the rest of the evening in deep thought.

Scott was what could only be described as “a character.”  He cussed like 10 sailors, lived loud, played hard, was constantly pulling his Jeep or snowmachine out of some absurd situation, and had an incredibly compassionate heart.  He had opinions about everything, and what I thought of as a “cowboy code” of morals he lived by.  I always told him that if I ever wrote a book about my life in Alaska, it would be replete with “Scott stories.”

From the moment we moved in next door, he looked out for M and me, even texting me whenever a strange car would show up in my driveway and I wasn’t home.  He taught M how to process salmon, how to use a weedeater, how to replace a dryer hose.  He offered a male presence to my son until J moved back up here, and then he befriended J as easily as he had us.  He treated me with genuine respect and chivalry, all the while spouting his very colorful opinions about everything under the sun, and looked at me with admiration when I disagreed or called his bluff, which I did often, and which his wife found hilarious.  I could only take Scott in small doses, and yet, I think he might have been one of my very favorite people.

Someone that loud, that colorful, leaves a huge void when he’s gone, and my heart hurts so for the twins and their mom.  Thinking about the difficult time in front of them led me to take a good look at my own life.  It felt very cliche, like a bad movie, but the truth is, humans start re-evaluating everything when there’s a loss of life.  We just do.  So I asked the Lord what he wanted to show me.  His answer was J and me.

The last post I wrote ( addressed my concerns regarding J coming back to Alaska.  And I have to say, much of my hesitation was justified; it has not been easy, nor nearly as smooth or rapid as I had hoped.  But as I listened to the twins tell me about Scott, it hit me anew how none of us are promised tomorrow.  And when the Lord started talking about J and me, he said, “I’m not saying anything is going to happen, so don’t go down that road.  But it’s time to let your defenses down and really go a new direction.  The old stuff reeeeally doesn’t matter or fit with this new way.”  I knew he was right because I so wanted to be able to see a hopeful future, as opposed to an empty one.  In order to do so, I would have to trust him.  As I surrendered those defenses, I physically felt a mental and spiritual shift (I know that sounds weird.  If you haven’t experienced something similar, I don’t know that there’s any way to make you understand it).

About 2:30am, I gave up trying to sleep and woke J.  I had called him after the twins left and filled him in, but he got home from work around 1:30 and went straight to bed, so we hadn’t talked.  And I needed to talk.  It turns out we had similar thoughts and experiences in response to the news.  As J said, “If something happened to me, I would want to be missed, not remembered for all the hurt I caused.”  He compared our past to a terrible book that no one wants to re-read.

So we both agree that the old book of our lives is finished.  It is slammed shut.  There are no new chapters to be written in that book, no old ones to be reviewed.  Instead, we are to start an entirely new one together, but rather than us writing on the pages, we will let the Lord author our story.

As I’ve written this blog, I’ve realized how unpretty the language is, but maybe that’s okay because the events recorded are not pretty events.  The sentences are choppy and stark because the reality is harsh.  Even so, I see evidence of beauty for ashes, at least in my own life.  And Scott’s family will be all right, eventually.  They will find their own beauty.  And we will be there for them in any way we can as they search it out.

Thank you, Scott, for your profound impact on all of our lives.

Martians and Mailboxes

Back when people got more than just junk mail and bills via the US Postal Service, I was a letter-writing fool.  I loved to write to friends all over the country – and oh, the anticipation of receiving a letter in return!  Sadly, those days are long-past.  I don’t stalk the mailbox anymore because, really, City Utilities and Sprint just aren’t that exciting. But I do appreciate our modern-day equivalents to letters, things like email and social media messaging.

Wait, equivalents?  No, sorry.  There’s nothing quite like a handwritten note.  So, okay, our modern-day…methods of correspondence?  I guess that’ll work.

As I was saying, I do appreciate our modern-day methods of correspondence.  Just like I kept a box for all my letters back in the day, I keep personal correspondence in my virtual inboxes.  Occasionally, just like with the letters, I go back through the box and re-read the notes people have sent me…which is exactly what I was doing before I decided to write this blog post.  In fact, I’m writing this because of a looooong chain of messages with one particular person.

I have this friend we’ll call Marvin. (As in, the Martian.  Trust me; it fits.)  I began corresponding with Marvin before I ever met him.  He was one of those people who seemed to know everyone I knew and many I didn’t, and his very funny comments kept popping up all over my Facebook news feed.  He was really kind of an odd duck, from what I could tell, but he had some depth.  One day, I read a note he posted to a mutual friend’s wall, and I felt like he had, well, read my mail.  So I messaged him, conveying my appreciation for his insight, and thus began a very encouraging and uplifting friendship.

Marvin is erudite and friendly, creative  and quirky.  His favorite color is tie-dye, and he has a penchant for purple socks and mannequin heads.  (Perhaps best of all, he has a very firm grasp on the intricacies of proper English grammar and punctuation. This, of course, is a prerequisite for my true friends; I forgot to mention my unfortunate tendency to mentally “red-pen” any and all correspondence I receive.  Marvin saves me time and effort. 😀 )  He is truly a unique person – and he’s quite comfortable to be one.  Just watching him live out life as himself has helped me to become far more comfortable with my own weirdness.  He loves people and accepts them as they are, and they, in return, gravitate to him and Mrs. Marvin (who is equally as cool).

Like any oddball, Marvin is sometimes misunderstood by the more “establishment” among us.  I have seen his motives questioned when there was nothing amiss, and I have seen people put strictures on him that were ridiculous at worst, unnecessary at best.  I can speak for his delightfully original character, though.  Is he perfect?  No, of course not.  He gets his feathers ruffled for funny things (like all of us, quirky or not), he eats waaaay too much Tex-Mex (I heard he lobbied hard to have his most recent grandbaby named Chuy), and sometimes he speaks such fluent geek-speak that I have no idea what he’s saying, but he’s the real deal.  You need a friend, he’s it. You need a unique perspective, he’s got it.  You just need a hug – he’s good at those, too.

I want to encourage you to take some time to get to know someone you might consider weird or different.  You may find one of the most genuine friends you could possibly have.  At the very least, you’ll look at life from a different perspective, at least for a little while.  Oh, and I also want to encourage you to comment on this blog – tell me about that odd someone you love.  Unless, of course, you want to send me a letter. 🙂  In that case, PM me for the address, and be sure to include a SASE for a prompt reply.  I’ll be standing by my mailbox, laptop in hand, waiting!

My Yafa Chaverah

Someone who doesn’t know or understand me well was criticizing me to one of my friends once.  Among the things she said:  “That girl doesn’t even have any friends!  Every time I see her, she’s by herself.  She just sits there away from all of us  – what’s wrong with her?”  (This individual, quite the extrovert, was only correct in one of her observations – that I “sat there away from all of them” – but you should understand the context of this.  We were at a 50-hour worship event called Fire On the Altar, and I very much considered it me-and-God time.  I didn’t want or need anyone else around.)

I am, by nature, an introvert.  I am not overly expressive of my feelings, but this does not mean I don’t have them.  I do prefer being by myself to being with crowds of people, but this does not mean I don’t have friends.  The people I love, I love deeply.  And they know it.  I tend to open up a little more to people I am close to, but I am choosy in getting close.

Today I want to honor a woman I consider one of my very closest friends.  After the Lord and J, she is the person I turn to when I have good news, when I need prayer, when I need my butt kicked.  She is my yafa chaverah, my beautiful friend.

We met through a mutual friend at a gathering, where I was (naturally) sitting on the sidelines observing.  She radiated sweetness and strength at the same time, and I was quite drawn to her, something that doesn’t happen often.  She felt the same about me, and we began to forge a friendship by getting together over coffee and just talking.  It’s interesting, because she is a fair amount older than I, in a different stage of her life, and one of those people everyone loves.  But somehow, we have built a true and wonderful relationship.  Her husband travels a lot on business, so those chats over coffee have morphed into what I call our “slumber parties.” 🙂 I’ll get out of class around 9:30 and head over to her house, and we will sit on the couches, bundled under blankets and drinking waaaay too much coffee, until the wee hours of the morning, talking  and talking. Her husband has asked what we can possibly find to talk about for 5 or 6 hours, and we just have to laugh.  We talk about what the Lord is doing, or about our families, or about Israel, or about all the dietary changes I’m walking through and why, or about politics, or about the constellations, or about dreams, or any number of other things.  It takes time to cover all this ground, you know? 😉

One of the reasons this friendship is so valuable to me is because so many of my relationships are the mentor-mentee type, with me either pouring into another person’s life or sitting and receiving from someone more knowledgeable than I.  I love these relationships; each has its strong points, but there are times I need not to be in a “role.”  With my yafa chaverah, we are just ourselves.  We are two women who love the Lord and love each other.  I always come away from our time together so refreshed – and that really is the word for it.  I think it’s because there is absolutely no pretension in this friendship.  I’m not afraid to ask the “dumb” questions or admit I don’t know something; I’m not afraid of what she’s going to think if I tell her that my life honestly sucks right now or that I did or thought something less than Christ-like.  It’s a safe environment in which I can absolutely be myself with no fear of judgement or misunderstanding, and that is SUCH an amazing thing.  I think she feels she has the same with me, and that, too, is amazing, that someone would find a friendship with me to be a place of refreshment and safety.  We have given each other liberty to speak into the other’s life, be it good or corrective (which isn’t necessarily NOT good!) or concerned or questioning.  It’s a beautiful thing.

This woman is a good friend to everyone around her, and she is a good daughter: I have watched her navigate a not-always-easy relationship with her father, in which she has had to make some executive decisions concerning his well-being.  She has never treated him with anything less than honor.  In addition, she is a great example of the love of God: she feeds the homeless, puts together backpacks of food for undernourished children in our area, supports several worldwide ministries, and has a heart to see people moving in freedom.  She has a lot of wisdom, and I have benefited greatly from watching her in action.

I don’t need tons of friends, but it is lovely to have one like this one.  I am so very thankful for my yafa chaverah.

Honor Among Weirdos

My husband is the most amazing man I know.  This has not, however, always been the case; in fact, he started out taking the top slot on my “Most Annoying People EVER” list…

Seriously, he was a giant pain in the butt.  I met him in a training class for a job, and he thought he was the stuff.  He introduced himself to the class like this: “Hi, I’m J.  I like long walks on the beach and special times with my lady.”  Et cetera.  Blecch.  I remember rolling my eyes and thinking, “There’s one in every class,”  and he was definitely it.  While I sat in the front row, aced my lessons, and even wound up writing tests for the trainer, J sat in the back and flirted with every girl under the age of 20 who was part of our group. (I tease him to this day about his partiality for this one girl who shaved her eyebrows off and drew them back in.)  He was always butting into my conversations with other people, too, and making snarky comments.  The final insult came one day when he literally hip-checked me in front of the class and sent me flying.  I. Was. Ticked.  (And you know what his excuse was?  I found this out years later – he knocked me over so he could get his arms around me under the guise of “saving” me.  Sheesh.  And people wonder why I call him “Suavier.”)

[Not a very auspicious beginning to one of the greatest love stories of all time, that.  Enter those two most amazing words, “But God.”]

I was prepared to ignore J for as long as we worked for the same company.  And then one day, we got paired up on a project that was supposed to take two days.  It took us two hours, and we spent the rest of the time talking.  This was where my initial attraction to him began.  Now, mind you, I was not even remotely physically attracted to him (though he did smell amazing and had great shoulders) because the man shaved his head bald and wore a goatee…probably my least favorite guy look of all time.  But boy, was he smart.  Being true to my very strong INTJ roots, I found this quite sexy. 🙂  All of a sudden, we were inseparable.  And then one day, the Lord told me VERY clearly (like, so clearly that I did a double take and looked around to see who was talking) – twice – that I was going to marry J.  It had to be a God thing because my response was, “Okay.”  No argument, no hesitation, even though he didn’t have a relationship with God, and there was no way I was going to be with someone who didn’t.  I just knew.  But I did not tell J what I heard…until about two weeks later, he sauntered up to me and said, “You know I’m going to marry you one day, right?”  Well, at that point, we had to talk.  I had to tell him I couldn’t even consider dating him and why.  It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had, but I was totally at peace about it because I knew what God had said.

I’m going to skip over J’s journey toward God because that is his story to tell.  I will say that it was in no way because of me that he began pursuing God – God had been pursuing him for a good while – but I was privileged to walk alongside and witness the transformation.  And eventually, I did marry him.  Can I tell you that I am so, so, SO glad I listened to the Lord?  And can I tell you why I honor my husband so very much? (Um, it’s my blog, so I’m gonna. 🙂  Here goes. )

He is a man of incredible integrity.  I’ve never seen him tell a lie, shirk responsibility, or do anything halfway.  He does not exalt himself and in fact puts others’ needs before his own.  He is passionate about the Lord.  He is very gifted musically.  He has an amazing work ethic, going above and beyond at his job all the time.  He is a wonderful father to our son and has never seen child-rearing as “women’s work.”  He does laundry and dishes and bathrooms, too – really, any housework that needs to be done.  In fact, traditional gender roles don’t exist in our marriage…which brings me to an explanation of the title of this post:  We are weird.  He’s weird.  I’m weird.  We’re weird together.  I can’t even count the number of people who have told us how unique our relationship is.  We joke around that God put us together because no one else would put up with us, but the fact of the matter is that what seems VERY normal to us is quite revolutionary to others.

J likes me.  A lot.  Quirks and all – and those are numerous. He holds me in high regard.  He has told me (and demonstrated) that he will do anything I need him to in order to help me go wherever God has called me.  He doesn’t believe I have any limitations whatsoever on me.  He calls out the talents in me and freely acknowledges the things I’m better at than he is. He’s always telling me I’m beautiful and insists he will keep saying this the rest of my life, whether I believe it or not (which I mostly don’t). And he GETS me.  That man always knows the right thing to say when I’m discouraged or annoyed about something – and the things he says would make no sense to anyone else but are exactly the right encouragement for me.  He understands my need for alone time because he is much the same; consequently, he does everything he can to accommodate it and doesn’t get offended because I want to get away from everyone.  He pays attention to the the little things that make me happy – he’ll come home with lavender epsom salts or 81% dark chocolate or a bottle of Tempranillo just because I like them.  He trusts me implicitly – he is not threatened by my guy friends – and this is the one most people just can’t fathom:  there is not a jealous bone in his body.  When my dear friend whom I’ve known since I was 17 was home from the Army on leave, and it had been 6 years since I’d seen him, J sent me on a day trip to go hang out and catch up – and he sent his regards because this friend has stayed in our home and J genuinely likes him.  Heck, he’s even embraced my ex-in-laws as family (and vice versa).  He says if someone is a friend of mine, it’s for a good reason, and so he sees value in that person, too.

Sometimes I hesitate to talk about how great my husband is because it seems to annoy people.  They don’t seem especially happy about my happiness.  I realize this is their issue, but I don’t want to cast my pearls before swine, either.  Is J perfect?  No way.  He has a number of flaws.  But I truly like, love, honor, and esteem him.  I think he’s amazing.  Not a day goes by that I don’t get some little reminder of how great I have it in the husband department, whether it’s one of his thoughtful gestures, or (sadly) more commonly, it’s a woman complaining about her own husband.  One thing I will never do is speak badly of him to anyone else.  I believe strongly in the idea of the power of life and death in the tongue, and I will not dishonor or injure my husband by describing him in a negative light.  Besides, there’s so much good to talk about. 🙂

J, I honor you.  I am so thankful God put us together.  It is a privilege to spend my life by your side – and it’s a lot of fun, too.  Thank you for being wonderful and for bringing out the best in me.  Thank you for listening to God and striving to be all he has called you to be.  And thank you, honey, for shaving off the goatee and letting your hair grow out just a little. 😉



My Blog, the Anti-Slam Book

If you were a junior high girl in the 80s, you’re familiar with slam books.  For the uninitiated (and non-girls), these are spiral-bound notebooks in which each page has someone’s name written at the top.  The notebooks are passed from person to person, and everyone writes whatever she wants about the person named on the page.  Sometimes the comments are nice, but generally, they’re the hateful things you’d never say to someone’s face but might have thought; thus, the “slam” in the books’ name.  I was definitely slammed a few times (which sucked), but I also confess to writing my fair share of mean comments.

Thankfully, that was many years ago.  Today I’m more interested in honoring people, seeing the good things in them.  So I’ve decided that 2012 will be a year of honor on my part, and from time to time, I’m going to use this space to write about a friend or family member. You’ve probably noticed that I never use real names in my posts, and these entries will be no different.  But hopefully the people I profile will recognize themselves  – or maybe even take a closer look because something I’ve said surprises them in a good way. 🙂

NOTE: If you aren’t comfortable with potentially being immortalized in print (!), please send me a private message letting me know.  I’ll honor you by NOT writing about you.

I’m looking forward to writing these posts! 🙂