Dear Holly…

by Kari

skeeze / Pixabay

Three years ago
we took a step
FORWARD
TOGETHER

And I’m humbled to
GROW
with you

Ups and

D
O
W
N
S

Twists and turns
SURPRISES and
disappointments
have not rocked our journey
FORWARD
TOGETHER

Because
God
Knew
God knew we needed
EACH OTHER

…on that little tea hike in the woods
…on that crazy trip to Portland
…on the phone when I questioned cutting off my dreadlocks
…on countless occasions of tears and silence

You share my joys
Help carry my load
You see my heart
And help tune it towards
our Father’s

And so we
GROW
offer grace
unconditional love
in the mysterious places

W
I
T
H
I
N

Continually asking Christ to
accompany us in our
COMMITMENT
PARTNERSHIP
FRIENDSHIP

I thank you
SINCERELY
for holding this fort down
over these many months…
for believing in me,
being patient with me

You are a beautiful writer
INSPIRATIONAL
EFFECTIVE
CONNECTING
INSIGHTFUL
LOVING

Happy 3rd Blog Birthday Holly!

 

 

 

skeeze / Pixabay

We Don’t Have to See Eye-to-Eye

by Kari

445693 / Pixabay

For a few years now our church has taken VBS off-site to an underserved area of our town. It is privilege to learn, share and grow in this amazing community of people where there are many needs and many hands helping to bring light, love and hope.

I am sometimes at odd with myself as I lament how some of us who love this community used to walk hand-in-hand together only to part ways over reasons not always understood.  Now we fumble, bumble and stumble alongside one another in service instead of doing it in unison.

And guess what?

I’m okay with that. I am learning to celebrate the mystery and the love and the grace as we serve alongside one another and not necessarily hand-in-hand.

biancamentil / Pixabay

biancamentil / Pixabay

Is there a redeeming work
in Christ’s body
when we don’t see
eye to eye
yet work side by side?

Alleluia, yes.

Is there still a heart beat
when I feel cold
and maybe you do too
yet wordless glances
speak love?

Alleluia, yes.

Is there forgiveness
when walls are built
built, to protect
but does not love prove
to seep through the cracks?

Alleluia, yes.

Is there love written
in graffiti beautiful
because much is there
that cannot be understood
about our mysteries?

Alleluia, yes.

Is there our Jesus
with you, with me
and someday
we will be made whole
forever hand-in-hand?

Alleluia, yes.

Dear Friend, I Want to Know

By Holly

Olichel / Pixabay

Dear Friend,

I used to believe Facebook posts matched real life and everyone around me felt fulfilled, content and popular.  But vulnerability is more than a just a buzzword now, and we really do share the struggle.

We’re stressed out moms who are tryingtrying to be real, not perfect.  When you ask me how I am, I never say, “fine.” We left words like that back in our pre-vulnerable days.  Instead, I tell you how I really am with connecting sighs and worn-out eyes that say, “oh, you know how it is.”  Between sips of Oprah Chai, I wonder out loud if that sentence I uttered at breakfast this morning will be the very one that sends my daughter to therapy when she’s 30.  Unashamedly, you show up at book club toting bags of store-bought popcorn, I pay people to clean my house and we both own taboo statements like, “The PTA is not for me.”

We’ve progressed from wondering to asking.  I no longer look at your weedless yard, gourmet meals or toned arms and wonder how you did it.  I simply ask.  And you answer.

We come as we are.  Instead of showing up at church with my mascara just right, I come with eyes a certain shade of red, cheeks still damp.  And you hold out your arms.

I say the things that I was sure no one else even thought.  You say, “me too.”   We learn that we are not alone.

Long ago, we established that life is hard, marriage is harder, and there is a fine, fading line between motherhood and impossible.

You and I, we’re part of the collective shift toward authenticity, members of the tribe that slayed Superwoman.

We’re the movement that rejects all pretense; we stand up for the cause of Real.

You don’t hide your fears and failures.  I share my precise flavors of shame.  You invite me to sit in your unvacuumed rooms; we rummage through our junk drawers together.

I love this about us.

And.

There’s something else I want to know about you:  Your secret wins.

How proud did you feel when they chose you for the promotion?  Will you trust me with these feelings, too?

What does your excitement look like, untempered and uncontained?  I want to experience your thrill when your son hits another home run or your daughter wins the spelling bee.

When did you feel like the World’s Best Mom this week?  I want to hear how you amazed yourself because you turned a chaotic Tuesday morning into a tender one with just a few slow words and a hug.

What do you love about yourself when you take a long, hard look in the mirror?  What was your fleeting thought made you feel absolutely brilliant today?

I believe there is power in sharing our wins.

So, will you tell me what went on in your head the moment before you stood up for yourself, how victorious you felt afterwards and what you did – just yesterday – that made you feel brave?

What was it about the way you prayed last night that made you know God was there?   And what about the moment you felt more loved by your husband than you’ve felt in months, how you talked yourself out of that gummy bear binge and how you felt invincible holding that Warrior II pose?  I want to hear about these, too.

Can we share the stories that write our happy tears, the shapes of our inside smiles and what lies behind our fist-pumping yeses?

I want to hear you take credit.  I want to help you own your wins.   I want to share your joy.

Friend, I never want to stop struggling with you.

And.

Let’s triumph together, too.

When Facebook Makes You Jealous

By Holly

JESHOOTS / Pixabay

There must have been a dozen of them.  Unified by perfectly curved smiles that matched their 40-is-the-new-30 figures, the group of women I barely knew posed for their Girls Weekend photo.  I could almost hear them screaming, “Having the time of my (perfect!) life…with all of my (perfect!) best friends!”

My scrolling thumb froze midair as the particular brand of jealousy that only social media can induce rushed through me. Thinner.  Younger.  Prettier. Richer. Happier.

It all happened so fast.  One minute I was happily crawling into bed with my Lisa Jewell novel on a Friday night, and the next I was questioning everything from my appearance to the quality of my friendships.  Ridiculous.  I can’t really be jealous.  I hardly even know them.

Having mastered the art of saying no to what’s going on inside me and yes to what’s going on around me, my thumb scrolling resumed.  Surely I could find a jealousy antidote in another post – a photo of someone, somewhere that would catapult me into a state of “more than,” one that would make me say to myself, “At least I…”

But, miraculously, a new awareness within me won.  What am I doing?  I thought I was past sticking “At least I…” patches over my real feelings.  With a nervous inhale and upward thumb swipe, I went back to the photo and decided to get curious about my envy.  First, I gave myself permission to feel whatever I was feeling.  Next, I asked my jealousy some questions:  What are you trying to tell me?  What are you – really – made of?

When I made space for answers, it was as if the lid on a container holding all of the relational losses of my life.  Out spilled a messy heap of pain that tried to reorganize itself as jealousy to be slightly more presentable.  But, sorting through the pile, I saw faces.  BFF’s from my school years who are strangers now.  College friends cut off by thousands of miles, decades and demands of the adult years.  I held broken bits of my heart – the still-healing ones and the ones that haven’t started – that were the recipients of unexpected rejection.  And I felt the energy of sadness, the kind that comes from years spent living from an unhealthy desire to feel chosen instead of known.

As it turns out, my Facebook jealousy wasn’t about their appearances or my assumptions about their lives.  It wasn’t even about my less than perfect life.

And, surprisingly, instead of feeling ashamed of my initial surge of envy or critical of my own superficiality, my soul was nurtured by acknowledging truth without judgment.  Suddenly, all of the other times I felt that same sinking feeling when “perfect life” photos flashed in front of me made a lot more sense.

I breathed out relief, one of those slow exhales of understanding that clears the way for a new breath in.  And I saw that truth without self-judgment is a nudge toward freedom from our tangles of pain.  It is a tap that feels slight, but moves us far.

I Guess I’m Just Not Memorable

By Holly and Kari*

jarmoluk / Pixabay

“Sandy” and I have met many times.  She and I share a lot of “kid overlap” in our suburban circle – you know, the same school, activities, neighborhood.  Our kids aren’t friends, but they are friendly.  Sandy and I have crossed paths at birthday parties and school events, but we have never had a significant conversation.

I can’t say whether I like or don’t like Sandy.  I don’t know her.  I’ve heard she’s nice though.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I ran into Sandy in an unexpected place.  I smiled; she stared blankly. While I debated about striking up a conversation, she concentrated on her phone.  On our way out, she happened to be in position to hold the door for a group of us.  We made eye contact.  I said, “Thanks, how are you?”  Again, that empty stare.

Maybe she was being rude, or maybe she didn’t remember me. 

I shrug it off
I wince
I down play
but inside scream

“why on earth
did she forget
my face, my look
my esteem?”

I flushed with a hot mix of judgment and embarrassment.  What in the world?  It’s not like I thought we were friends.  But, she doesn’t even know who I am?  Anger began to simmer in me.  Anger, my go-to emotion, more convenient and convincing than pain.

The Sandy interaction occupied my anxious mind the whole drive home.   By the time the roar of my garage door pulled me back into awareness, “What a ___________!” had shifted to “I guess I am just not memorable.” Fear confirmed.  People don’t remember me.

Then…

Maybe I’m just not worth remembering. I mean, what about me stands out?  I wear glasses, let my hair air dry and fight with eyeliner every morning.  I’m not interested – or interesting – until I’m comfortable around you.  And that’s going to take more than birthday party introductions.

What does an introvert like me do about this fear?

Not sure.  But I wonder if it works like most fears.  When I shared it with Kari, she said she had the same fear.  What?  My dreadlock-wearing, super-relational, uber-memorable friend has this same fear?  I know her well, and I would never have guessed.   I’m pretty sure that fear, in the presence of “me too,” has no choice but to shrink.

I think it through
I laugh
I do same
but fail to see

how many people
have I forgotten
even quite
innocently?

Curious about our new format? Catch up here.

*Poetry by Kari, prose by Holly