A View from the Bottom Bunk

img_5104

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand.

Easier said than done, of course, but this is my husband and I’s go-to advice for our three-year-old son when we know storms are imminent.

Two nights ago, however, we were no match for the incessant thunder and lightning.

At approximately 3:45 a.m. we awoke to my son’s tearful pleas: “Mommy! Daddy!” There was something different in my son’s voice this time – a blend of emerging maturity and raw fear. He sensed what was happening, yet couldn’t prevent himself from the human desire for certainty…and control.

I led my oldest child down the ladder as Mother Nature illuminated his small room with urgent pulses of white. The night’s antidote would be snuggles with Momma in the bottom bunk.

And, in that 10-minute embrace, shadows weren’t the only images that danced across his walls.

Continue reading “A View from the Bottom Bunk”

When Jesus Is Gay

img_5084

Once upon a time, a little girl learned about Jesus. He had a beard, just like her father, and the bluest of eyes. The Bible told her that he was a warm man – the kind who never met a stranger.

But the sermon always took a Southern Baptist turn for the worse when homosexuality was mentioned. What happens to those who are intimate with the same sex?

Hell.

Continue reading “When Jesus Is Gay”

The Day I Lost the Cape

img_5044

I know my husband and I have gotten too busy when we begin to bicker through text messaging. A few weeks ago, such was the case.

Our morning began with a small request made lovingly.

“When you dress A, please remember to put the barrette in her hair.”

I may live in the genteel South, but my daughter’s barrettes serve more than an ornamental purpose: they hold back her untamed mane. If I don’t have the time for a real conversation with my husband, then scheduling a haircut is a luxury out of reach.

With a rushed family goodbye, I departed for my 8 a.m. class. And just before my second class began, I heard the vibration. In addition to the barrette, I had also asked my husband to snap a picture of the kids at preschool drop-off. Nothing brings sadness quite like missing Pajama Day. But, alas, a picture!

Only my screen seemed to validate distrust and incite a surprising anger.

Two kids. Two smiles. And no barrette.

Continue reading “The Day I Lost the Cape”

The Year My Husband Stole Christmas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Five years ago, there was no tree, no stockings, and no cheesy Christmas card. I remember the pictures we took that season. I forced every smile.

To be honest, our marriage had crumbled. Sure, every friend and family member who was happily anchored offered sound advice:

“Never go to bed angry.”

“Always say I love you.”

And my personal favorite, “You’ll always have each other.”

But a miscarriage ruined everything. I wanted to keep trying. My husband wanted to finish his PhD. And it seemed we were in pursuit of different children.

Continue reading “The Year My Husband Stole Christmas”

Letter to a College Football Coach’s Wife

img_3989

Dear B,

You are a daughter, a sister, and a mother. To the greater world, however, you are largely known as a college football coach’s wife. When we first met, you chose not to volunteer the latter. You positioned yourself as a preschool mother ally and, in doing so, earned my deepest respect.

I know today must be difficult. When your husband’s team wins, the world laughs with you. When they lose, you fear for your life. Last night, the points did not fall in our favor. I didn’t see you at pick-up.

Continue reading “Letter to a College Football Coach’s Wife”

Boy Bands Ruined Me

img_3964

During my youth, my family could easily predict my mood. Happiness? Jay-Z. Sadness? Linkin Park. Teenage lust? Boy bands.

Looking back, I think what did me in on the latter was the cheesy charm.

“I’ll never break your heart.”

“You’re all I ever wanted.”

“For the rest of my life, you don’t have to think twice.”

These lyrics may have echoed across the globe, but for an insecure girl in a little mountain town with limited dating options, they offered a sunnier forecast.

Only what I didn’t realize then is this: I was sowing the seeds of future discontent.

Continue reading “Boy Bands Ruined Me”

The Ones I Couldn’t Save

img_3710

Several years before I became a mother, I was a high school English teacher…and probably inappropriately maternal.

One particular student comes to mind from my first year in the classroom. He demonstrated a gift for the written word. His passion for music was contagious (think drummer). And his family was in the midst of a financial crisis. He always seemed to end our conversations with the same urgent question: How am I going to survive? 

But I am a teacher, and – every so often – I struggle with a God complex. I want to save every last one of my students.

As an unmarried, 23-year-old I couldn’t offer him money or a safe home. He did, however, mention that his birthday was quickly approaching. And so I did what any loving woman without children would do.

I celebrated him as my own.

Continue reading “The Ones I Couldn’t Save”

Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear

img_0037

When life hands you a free milkshake, you say “yes”. But, the truth is, the last thing I wanted was more food.

For several moments, a scene had been eating away at my thoughts. A homeless man – not more than 30 years of age – waited on a curb of desperation outside of our local Walmart as we drove past. To help or not to help? The restless toddlers in the backseat only encouraged the excuses my mind so effortlessly generated.

No. Not tonight.

So we stayed the course to Chick-fil-A. The kids would share a “happy” meal, I would enjoy a leafy green salad, and the sunset would end a perfect evening.

Only I ordered fries I couldn’t eat. Then my son’s order was wrong, which resulted in four free chicken nuggets. And, perhaps most surreal of all, a cashier placed a free milkshake in my hand: “We forgot the whipped cream and cherry. Here!”

As my son’s ice cream cascaded down my wrist, I pondered the sticky dilemma. Light was fading, and so too was an opportunity.

Continue reading “Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear”

In Sickness

img_3447

I hold this fear that I will die before I see 35. I worry I won’t know my son and daughter as teenagers. The very thought of never meeting my grandchildren, indeed, takes my breath away.

But I am overall healthy. I run 3-4 days a week. I don’t drink. And my days are fueled by oatmeal, nuts, and vegetables.

Recently, however, I was quite ill. Six hours of vomiting – to be exact. The virus was so powerful that I found myself gasping for air between commode encounters. On a makeshift bed of well-used towels – given to us at our wedding – I laid myself down. At 2 a.m. the Earth is silent.

Until, that is, I heard a door creak.

“I think I’m dying!”

“No, you’re not.”

And, with that, a hand I know so well rubbed my back.

Continue reading “In Sickness”