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“How Do You Like Nashville?”

People ask me how I like Nashville. Here’s the scoop: I’m not sold yet.

I haven’t been here enough to know. We moved here last August to a 2-bedroom Airb*nb we planned to stay in until the first of November of 2016. During that 3 month time the plan was to get the kids settled into a school rhythm and then I’d work with our realtor to find a house to live in more permanently. Our things have been in storage at my dad’s house for 2.5 years now since I ran away from home after my mom died we sold our house in Colorado. [Read more…]

I Choose Life

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Me and Bobby circa 1978-ish

Oh my, God! I just did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I took a baton that felt prematurely passed, and I’m going forward with it, because retreating isn’t an option. Stopping and raising my fist to the sky and screaming, “WHY?!” won’t alter time or the impending outcome, it won’t make this pain disappear or life suddenly make sense.

So I’ll embrace the pain, kind of walk through the side ache, so to speak…and I will press on.

This morning I soaked my Dad’s t-shirt for the last time with tears mixed with deep grief and appreciation that he has been my Dad on this earth. [Read more…]

I Had a Dream

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Right before waking up this morning, I dreamt a friend and I were standing in the middle of a four-lane road with cars flying by in either direction. We were discussing the vital importance of practicing the act of writing for 20 minutes everyday, no matter what…

And then I woke up

Prior to waking up and prior to standing in the middle of the road, where I was, incidentally, holding a vintage typewriter under one arm, I had been at a beautiful gathering of writers and journalists who were sitting at tables together, sharing and listening. [Read more…]

Speak: Contemplation

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

I’ve been contemplating many things for quite some time and the more I keep it in, I feel I may implode.

Why have I held these things in rather than go with my usual mode of verbally processing my thoughts to whomever may be in the room or on the other end of the phone? To be fair, my husband would attest to me processing these with him over the years, and each time he reminds me, “Adrienne, THIS is the content of your book. Write it. Write it down. People need to hear.” I love him and need him to say this to me, especially since writing it down is part of the equation: In order NOT to implode I must write these things down and get on with living.

So, again, why have I shared these thoughts I ponder day in and day out with only a few?

Open confession: I’ve feared segments of Christendom. [Read more…]

5 Minutes a Day

I’ve been pondering what I want to be when I grow up. Or, ahem, now that I’m an adult. It requires stripping my heart naked and heading back to the mud of childhood where my curls were ringlets and my belly round and everything I ever said and did was cute, because: toddler.

Cheeks rosy. Throw head back for laughter to leave the lungs and fill the room. Pudgy hands crash together and again. And again. And again.

“More! Again, Daddy! More!”

Chasing, building, looking, exploring, balancing on anything and everything considered a balance beam. Eyes full of wonder. Seeking the knees of my Mom or my Dad, the safe space where my arms and their legs, once joined, were pillars, strong towers, the safest known place unless legs encircled around their waist and my head tucked into their neck and shoulder crook.

The smoothest ride without a care in the world is in the arms of a loving parent.

What is it I want to be? What is it I want to do? Why was I made and why am I here and how can I be of help to others because many a year has passed where I’ve more than helped myself.

What is it I wanted to be all those years ago? Was there something specific? Is it there I should be looking or forward to what I want to be or right here to discover and unfold the treasure?

And now my legs are the pillars for my little guy, and my hand and arms and shoulder and ears a source of comfort and strength for my daughter. How did I come to this age where adulthood is my label but youth and naïveté fill this bottle?

 

Hospice: An Interview, Part 3

Thoughts on marriage and cancer…

As we’ve emailed back and forth, Mandy and Jay and I have talked about how “cancer” is definitely something woven throughout their love story and how it’s affected choices they have made as it relates to their marriage, friendship, and commitment to one another. Today’s interview is a glimpse into the part where “in sickness and in health” has been put to the test. How do marriages survive hardship, disappointment and tragedy? Can they make it through?! The wisdom and insight Mandy and Jay share is priceless advice whether a terminal illness is part of the recipe or not! We’d all be the wiser for putting into practice some of the examples of unconditional love these guys display. [Read more…]

Hospice: An Interview, Part 2

On Tuesday, my sweet doctor made the call we didn’t want to make – she called hospice. Within a few hours of returning home, hospice was calling us. We scheduled the admission for Thursday. My case nurse and an administrator arrived at our home with sweet smiles and soft spirits. At the kitchen tablewhere all important discussions are required to take place – we talked about the ins and outs of all things hospice.” – Mandy Smith, from her blog post on August 19th, 2016

This is what true love looks like on some days.

This is what true love looks like on some days.

Merriam-Webster defines hospice as:

  • : a place that provides care for people who are dying

  • : a place where travelers can stay; especially : an inn kept by people in a religious organization

  • :  a facility or program designed to provide a caring environment for meeting the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill

The word “travelers” is truly sacred here as I am reminded we are on a journey, and Earth is one of the stops on the itinerary. Personally, my experience with hospice caregivers is, if they aren’t angels among us, they are indeed miracle workers who somehow breathe life and nurture love into end of life situations. The depth of emotional care hospice caregivers provide is so profound, it’s not just for the patient but for all who are affected by the death of their loved one, too. I wonder why health care in America doesn’t first start out with them (maybe under an alias title without the premise of nearing death), solely for the miraculous nurturing they offer rather than all the scary tests and what if’s most people face in routine medicine? [Read more…]

My Mid-Life Crisis, Part 2 of Many…

The title for this post may be a bit dramatic, but I am going to unpack “Mid-Life Crisis” in some posts to come, but this does dabble with some of the topics one may wrestle with when thinking of a mid-life crisis, so I felt it fit.

Last year I got to travel a bit, with family, with Jason, and all by myself. I. Love. To. Travel.

Exploring the world, people watching, meeting new people and learning their stories, taking in the smells and sights and feeling the feels is breath for my soul. It doesn’t have to be glamorous…I’m not talking 5-star lodging, though there is nothing wrong with that. I’m simply saying, my Spirit loves the soil of the barrio beneath my feet as much as it thrives off the sand on an uninhabited beach. In both places we find God’s divine beauty if we let our eyes see.

So, last fall I was able to tag along to Paris, the romantic city of love, where Jason had meetings, adding a few days on the front end to explore the countryside with my best friend and lover. We drove hundreds of miles, some mapped, others our own detours, tried new wines, ate baguettes and Cuban food, stayed in mom and pop Bed & Breakfasts, listened to new music, and, of course U2, and laughed out loud together at Jim Gaffigan’s comedic genius. The French countryside and our time in Paris was just right.

Well, in the spirit of French romanticism, and trying to keep it real, I wanted to change my profile picture on Facebook…first, why can’t we just change our profile pictures without it being posted to everyone’s walls that we did, in fact, change them? Anyway, see, Ryan wants me to grow my hair back out…maybe he wants to snuggle with it? I obliged even though I really, really, really like my hair less than one inch long. It’s this love, hate thing going on…trying to practice empathy with many incredible friends and women who have lost their hair to disease, feeling what it feels like to grow it in and feel awkward through the stages of growth. Let me tell ya…it sucks! I’ve had the luxury of cutting mine or shaving it again probably 5 or 6 times, but figured if I’m going to grow it out, I should probably stop cutting it. Whoa. It’s been about 7 months and if I dyed it blue, I’d look like your grandma.

Anyway, yada, yada. I changed my profile picture from when I was tan and it was summer and I was probably 5 or 10lbs skinnier and my hair was short and maintenance free, to this one where I have a bit of a frizz head, but the lighting was right and, whatever, it’s just a picture.

But I felt romantical in it. I felt kind of demure, French film-star, pale-skinned, pretty in it, so I thought, “Well, this is about as good as it gets in the hair department for now, so it is what it is and I feel pretty.” Post.

Those words to myself, “I feel pretty,” haven’t been common to me. (Read here for more of that story.) They aren’t first or even second nature. They are words I’ve had to convince myself of in the last 4 years since turning 40, not only on the outside but deep, deep within…in the last 4 years since God said to me, specifically, almost audibly, “Adrienne, I know you love Me. I know you love others. There’s another part to that scriptural command and it’s to love yourself…it’s time you started doing that…”

UGH. Um, what does that even look like?

If I were in so-called mid-life crisis mode, filtering these truths into me, separate from God’s truth over me, it might look like nips and tucks and replacement parts and endless dieting and die-hard, bad-ass working out, striving for something, other than, in spite of any of that, just looking in the mirror and loving myself simply because I exist. Simply because God made me. Simply because when He made US, He said, “It’s oh, so, good!”

So, let’s fast forward to a conversation, one had in light of me being in a healthier place in my head and heart and body than I have been in a while…Jason says, “I really think you are beautiful. That being said, I think you should change your profile picture. It doesn’t really look like you, it doesn’t capture who I see when I look at you.”

Me: You don’t like my profile picture?
Him: No. You know I think you are beautiful. I just don’t think it looks like you.
Me: I like it. I feel French and romantic in it. Plus, you know me, I’m so literal, it’s not how my hair looks right now so I felt it wasn’t current or accurate.
Him: Ok, that’s fine. I just don’t think it looks as beautiful as you are. But keep it.

Then I get a call from my dad. “Hey, Boo, there’s this weird picture of you I saw the other day. It doesn’t look like you. You look kind of distorted…”

Me: Oh, really? Am I wearing a green sweater?
Dad: I’m not sure, I’ll have to look at it again…you look kind of gaunt, almost anorexic.
Me: Dad, not eating enough food has never been my schtick…I’m a huge fan of food. Don’t worry, I’m not anorexic. And, PS, I like that picture…I feel pretty in it.
Dad: Well, I just think you’re so pretty and it doesn’t look like you.

So, then I tell Jason, who I’ve been lovingly dishing crap to over the course of the day, “Yeah, my dad hates that picture, too…”

Jason: I don’t hate it. You are beautiful. Keep it. I just have other favorite ones of you I love more.
Me: So, the 200+ friends who liked it on Facebook are obviously blind…

(* Snap! Knee to the face! Elbow to the face! (spoken in Nacho accent…))

Thing is, they are both kind of right, these men in my life. Not that it’s not a good picture, because I like it whether it’s “good” or not, whether others “like” it or not…I know how I felt taking it, and it’s just a picture that doesn’t define me. Just as no picture represents the whole of us. But, if a photographer were to take a shoot of me, in true Adrienne style, it’d be full of sass. It’d be snarky and smart ass and I’d be awkward with the camera and saying ridiculous things like cuss words or “sperm whale” just to laugh and not feel so very uncomfortable being seen, being vulnerable.

So, in my true smart ass way that I often function, I headed to the bathroom around 11:15 to get ready for bed. I fluffed out my hair a bit. And then I texted this to Jason, down the hall, with, “Oh yeah! Here’s a profile picture for you!”

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Funny thing is, I like these, too. I like them because my Noah skin discoloration on my cheek shows. I like them because how fun would it be to just fro out your hair and not care?! I like them because Jason and I got a good laugh out of them. I like them because I think we all take ourselves too freaking seriously.

But, my hair is growing more. And it’s sub-zero this winter and I can’t leave my hair wet to dry, so I’ve been blowing it out, but then it’s cuh-razy, so I pretty much just wear a hat anyway. And I’ve almost shaved it 12 times since last week, but I’m sucking it up and just going with the fro, which I can’t rock as awesome as some sisters, but whatever. It’s hair and isn’t what this is really about, I sure hope you’ve caught that?!

Anyway, so, then Ry and I hid behind the curtains where the snowy sunlight made for a decent filter and snapped off some new pictures. Some I like and some I don’t, but the crazy thing is, they are all me and all Ryan. Who we are in the pictures doesn’t change whether one picture captures us well, or not.

 

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He won’t admit it, but he’s lovin’ my smooches…

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I'm in love with this boy!

I’m in love with this boy!

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And, so, I’m encouraging you to give yourself a bit of grace, too. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then as we scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll, let’s remember there are stories behind every picture, and so much more than meets the eye.

When Life Throws Us Curve Balls

1978

1978 was a good year…my Dad, watching over me as I take a swing. (How awesome is that International Scout in the background?!)

Sometimes being brave means taking a swing at it, even with our eyes closed. We may or may not hit a home run, or even hit the ball, but either way we can look back and know we tried, know we rose above our fears, know we gave it our all.

And then what happens the next time life throws a curve ball? Well, this time we pay attention a bit having learned a few things from the last time, we open our eyes, ground our feet, and realize, “Hey…it’s still a curve ball, life has thrown many of these, but we are still here, stronger than before…and look at that…our Father always has our back, is watching over us, and sees this WHOLE THING from a different perspective.”

I love this picture of me and my dad, taken by my mom when I was a kid in Ohio in 1978. It’s a visual reminder of something that can never be taken away from me: faith. The scariest and most tragic things, or incredibly unbelievable beautiful things, can be behind us, ahead of us, or coming at us from every direction, but faith is a deep down peace that has no explanation and it isn’t contingent upon circumstance…it’s a trust that defies surroundings, and a hope for what is grace and what is truth and what is good. All the dangers, threats, fears, and terrifying things in this world can never, ever remove our faith. Faith simply remains.

And when faith is coupled with love, there is no measurement to its impact.  

Every day has potential curve balls. Will we live in fear of the “what if’s?” of the unknown, or will we live by faith, like superhuman, superpower, cape-wearing, faith, in a God who sees the bigger picture?

This Thanksgiving I want to say “Thank you” to EVERYBODY! This is a really hard, beautiful life, and allowing everyone else glimpses of your stories inspires bravery. I’m blown away by the stories I encounter everyday! Your bravery makes me want to be more brave. Our stories matter, every single one of them. Not stories of perfection, but stories meant to be lived, and in order for that to happen, we must show up, each day, breathe deep, and press on. I’m so messy, I don’t do this well most days…heck, you saw the picture…I swing with my eyes closed…so I’m writing this to myself, too. Some days will be excruciating, others exhilarating, most days somewhere in between…but every day we are still here on this earth I suppose means it’s a day meant to be lived and shared with one another. Thank YOU for living out your bravery on any given day…every time you choose to live by faith, you shine more and more of God’s light into this dark world, exposing the Enemy’s lies for what they are…and that’s the biggest brave there is!

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

For The Love, JUST WRITE!

The practice is to simply write. Just write. Sit down and write stuff. And when you can’t think of anything to write, write about how you can’t think of anything to write…write about that

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I haven’t written every day in a row for 31 days since our son Noah was in the hospital. That season of our lives was depth-charged with adrenaline to find answers, superhuman powers to find a cure, and 5 months of sleepless love-filled nights watching him breathe, soaking in his smell, praying prayers and pouring tears and breathing in those moments knowing life is short…life is priceless.

It was more than adrenaline. It was turbo.

Thing is, in a body at least, adrenaline runs out and you tire.

Ridiculous a thing like challenging myself to write everyday could resurrect these feelings and sensations all these years later, but that’s how some of these entries have been for me…wanting to convey my heart, longing not to be misunderstood, hoping to encourage others on their own journeys who will read along.

For me, writing is so woven into who I am, it’s something I do in my head and heart all the time, all day long, so typing it out is a first step of expressing it, then hitting “publish” and letting others read it, even by choice, takes it to another level for my heart.

It’s like I’m letting you get to know me, but what I would love even more is the chance to get to know YOU.

The whole thing leaves me with what Brené Brown labels a “vulnerability hangover.”

I’ll let her explain:

 

Yesterday on the Facebook page where some blogging friends rally to encourage one another and learn from each other, I wrote: “I’m out. This is the second sentence I’ve written today.”

I was ready to check out. It was a weird feeling because the disciplined practice of writing hasn’t been that bad, though draining, but has shown me how, if I make it my own person “day job,” I could actually write the books and curriculums I want to write, by sheer dedication.

And if anything, maybe that very thing is what is supposed to come of all this gut-wrenching writing.

(photo credit: pixabay user/StockSnap)