Tag Archive - Marriage

I’ll Be Seeing You…

My darling, you know I adore The Notebook. The romance, yes, and the fury of new love. But mostly, the deep, enduring love that doesn’t know how to let go. The kind of love that shows up day after day to tell the same story over and over again.

It occurs to me that, with 30 years under our belt, we are coming to share more with that seasoned couple trying hard to remember than with the combustible pair of young lovers. It also occurs to me that, in the event that I am Allie some day and you must be the custodian of our memories, you might like a little help…

Please don’t ever let me forget that Sunday morning when first I saw you, bursting through the back door of the choir loft at Laguardo Baptist Church with a bundle of music in one arm and a Mellow Yellow in the other. Or that week volunteering together at VBS…and the grapes. You might want me to forget that you borrowed money from me at Taco Bell on our first date, but I probably won’t. 😉 Remind me of the fast and furious knowing, the summer evenings sitting on the floor at Robbie and Clayton’s, talking late into the night, asking all the questions, until  a sleepy Clayton would call out from the back of the house, “Mike, don’t you think it’s time to be heading home?”

Tell me stories about our “young married” days at Haywood Hills; about Paul and Debo, Chris and Trisha, Rebecca and Katherine; about house-boat trips and Sunday night Pictionary. Tell me about our first house on Debra Drive and how we didn’t notice there was no dishwasher til I was standing there with a dirty plate in my hand, about the horrible grasscloth we ripped off the walls, and the night the water heater exploded and flooded the basement. And don’t forget the tiny furballs.

Make sure you tell me about our babies and how you “conducted” them into the world (always patterns of four despite the nurse’s instructions to count to ten). It seems to have worked. They are all musical. 🙂 Talk about homeschooling and children’s choir, about cub scouts and sports teams, about the puppies and the farm, about talent shows and camping trips and church camp, about watching these remarkable humans grow into themselves.

Remind me of all the places we have been. Of England and France (This is your chance to tell me we saw Prince Charles on the Chunnel Train with none of the children to correct you.) It might be best if you do not mention that we almost lost each of the boys in separate metro incidents. Mind the gap!

Include something about Venice, the Cinque Terre, Meteora, the Hagia Sophia, Costa Rica, Alaska, and the Dingle Peninsula. Tell me that once I stood before the Book of Kells. Remind me how we crossed the Grand Canyon on foot. Twice.

I might be surprised to learn that we have run marathons, even an ultra-marathon. But tell me about those. Especially the one up Pikes Peak. And in the Tetons. Tell me about the crazy cold Disney Marathon when the sports drinks and gels froze, but fire pots were burning in Epcot and I cried all the way through the Magic Kingdom.

Be sure to include stories about the long walk across Spain. Don’t forget David and Jan, Samra and Perry, Rhys, Otto, Jose, Jorge and Kelly, Paul, Mike, Adam and all our other beloveds… Talk about the hill towns, the vineyards, and the Botafumeiro.

It will be difficult to tell me about the hard time, that season when we weren’t sure we would make it. You will want to be self-deprecating because that is your way. But DO NOT let me forget that you loved me fiercely, even when I made it so hard. Remind me of friends who stood with us, who challenged and encouraged. Never let me lose sight of the fact that seasoned love is a miracle and a gift.

Talk to me about the ancient Church. About how it is so different than anything we have ever known, and yet, how arriving here was like coming home. Talk to me of the beautiful sensuality of worship, about the deep theology, about how it asks so much of us, and yet gives us so much more. About how we found healing here.

And please, please, tell me about our granddaughter. Remind me of sleepovers and duplos and make-believe, and how she gave us the opportunity to see the world like it was brand new. Tell me about the sweet surprise of godchildren and how they have blessed our life.

And when you have told me all the stories, just be with me. Sit beside me. And let the knowing between us keep us company.

Thank you, my darling, for living and loving long with me. I know it has not always been easy. Perhaps it has never been easy. But God has made something very good of our love. And I am glad you have all our stories. And I am glad neither of us has to begin again. May God grant us many more years of growing into one another, til all borders become permeable and the knowing is complete.

To be continued…

A story thirty years in the making is far too much to cover completely in one blog post. Here are a few previous posts that tell a little more:

The Martyrdom of Marriage
23
Gift
I Choose You
Further Up and Further In
Ripened Love

 

 

 

The Halftime Report…

birthday

As of today, I have breathed upon the earth for 50 years. Given that this birthday comes just five days short of my grandpa’s 100th, I am choosing to see this as roughly halfway. 🙂

For someone with my disposition, it is impossible to arrive at such an auspicious waymark without a fair amount of reflection and rumination. You might expect me to share with you some of the wisdom I have acquired over low these many years. And while I do pray that I am wiser than once I was, mostly I find myself overwhelmed with a profound sense of gratitude for the beautiful adventure that has been my life, thus far. So much more than I could ever have thought to ask for…

My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name. ~Luke 1:46,49

For planting my roots in Appalachia…
For lightnin bugs and cold swimmin holes
and the Christmas trees we dragged from the woods
Bare feet in warm soil, scent of freshly turned earth
Wobbly-legged calves still glistening and new
For tender lettuce and onions in hot bacon grease
Wild muscadines eaten right off the vine,
I thank you

For a mama who read stories to me in that voice
that will always be my favorite
Who wakened in me a love for the piano and then
showed me how to make the magic
Who sewed my clothes and permed my hair
and dried a million tears,
I thank you

For a daddy who worked two jobs to make sure we had enough
and brought treats home in his lunchbox
Who taught me to be curious
and to work hard
and to sing
and to never stop learning,
I thank you

For my brothers and cousins
For painting with poke berries
and traipsing through wild places
For all the bicycle rides
across the honeysuckle bridge
through the woods
to the store on the highway
And for the rides home
eating candy necklaces
from our sweaty necks,
I thank you

For the church that smelled of cedar
and teaberry gum
tent revivals on summer nights
hymns and Hallelujahs sailing out into the dark
For foot washins and singins
and dinner on the ground
and all the people
and the way I first learned to love You there,
I thank you

For every teacher
every mentor
who saw something in me
that I could not see
and ruthlessly drew it out,
I thank you

For that adorable 22 year old boy
who scurried into my life on a Sunday morning
and stole my heart
and upset all my plans
and became God’s provision for me
Who has stood with me
in cathedrals and canyons
and emergency rooms
Who meant it when he said better OR worse
and has loved me more than I deserve,
I thank you

For a warm, sweet bundle of joy
who exploded all boundaries of love
when she made me a mommy
and who continues to teach me about love
daily
with her life,
I thank you

For the first boy child
grabbing life by the horns from the get go
For music and hikes and food
and long, deep talks into the night,
I thank you

For the baby boy
who is taller than us all
For the way he makes life a celebration
For his courage and curiosity
his talent and his zeal,
I thank you

For the wee one
For the way I am meeting the world
all over again
through her
For the way she teaches me to wake
each morning
eager and expectant,
I thank you

For all the beauty…
For the delicious agony of words
and the excruciating ecstasy of music
For the grandeur of mountains and vastness of the sea
For lavender, and butterflies, and red tailed hawks
For cardinals in winter and the first blossoms of spring
For the wildness of summer storms
and the silence of snow
For glaciers and rain forests
and the stark loveliness of the desert
For the extraordinary places all over the world
where it has been my privilege to stand,
I thank you

For found friends in far flung places
who have knit themselves into my heart
And for friends nearby
who love relentlessly
who see what could be
and make it so
who have made my life immeasurably rich,
I thank you

For faith
that has traveled long and endured much
and just when I least expected it
blossomed into something so rich and wide
that I will never come to the end of it
For all that is mystical and sacred
For the gift of Your Presence,
I thank you.

 

*And for you, dear reader, wherever you may be, for visiting these pages from time to time and sharing your life with me. Thank you.

Ripened Love

love

Give me a ripened love
full of recollection…

love tender and fragile in
the wild, impatient spring when
romance was new and
each day a discovery

love that has borne
the heat of summer defending
its yield against storm
invader
drought
sending roots deep
to drink the earth

love that has endured the
measured violence of pruning
and known the consolation
of the Gardener

Give me a scarred love
bent by wind, whose branches
tell a story long in the making
fruit distilled
to a warm dark sweetness

ready for the pressing
and aging
still to come

and the final surrender
and the drinking up

~sm

for my darling who has loved me long

love2

Further Up and Further In

7

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
~henry david thoreau

It might have been reckless to become engaged only two months after meeting. It might have been reckless to marry only seven months after that. I can’t really say.

This I do know: I expected a great deal of my husband. I believed he would right every wrong in my world, fill all the empty spaces in me. I would, of course, do the same for him. And this would be as natural as breathing. Because we loved each other.

This way of thinking might have been was reckless.

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What we have learned over the 28 years between then and now is that people who love one another experience extravagances of joy together they would never be able to know alone. These same people are also uniquely qualified to cause hurts deeper than those inflicted by the worst enemy. We have known our share of both of these. Our friend Heather said it this way, “Your testimony is broken, battered, beautiful, & redeemed.” That about sums it up.

What we have also learned is that God can use all of this, the sweet and the bitter, to draw us to Himself. The marriage we have today has a richness and a loveliness we did not even know to wish for in the early days. And that is a testament to God’s extravagant grace, to forgiveness 70 x 70 x 7 times, and to friends who fought with us and for us when we were unwilling to fight for ourselves.

In the six years since we have come into the Orthodox Church, we have been privileged to be part of a great many weddings and marriage blessings. Marriage is a sacrament. Therefore, a wedding is seen by the Church to be, not so much a declaration of our intention to love one another, but a vessel of the mystical grace of God. This is a wondrous mystery.

Asking for the blessing of the Church seemed a fitting next step in the work that God has been doing, and continues to do, in our lives. A further grace.

IMG_2726

So on Saturday we gathered with a handful of dearly loved ones before the altar. The prettiest little girl in the world padded barefoot down the aisle in a white dress that once was her mother’s, carrying crowns on a silver tray. And the priest blessed her and took the crowns. And I walked down the aisle on the arm of this good man who I finally understand is God’s provision for me. The epistle reading was St. Paul’s exhortation to husbands and wives, and the gospel was Christ’s first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

17

Father Stephen began his homily with this prayer from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom,

“O Lord our God, Whose dominion is indescribable, and Whose glory is incomprehensible, Whose mercy is infinite, and Whose love for mankind is ineffable: Do thou thyself, O Master, according to Thy tender compassion, look upon us, and upon this holy temple, and deal with us, and them that pray with us, according to Thine abundant mercies and compassions.”

He spoke of the great love that moved the indescribable, incomprehensible, infinite, ineffable God to make a way for us to know Him, so that all of our life can be a progression towards God. And this grace, this sacrament, was an important part of this progression.

12

Then he crowned us to one another–crowns that speak both of authority and of martyrdom, and gave us to drink from a common cup, then covered our joined hands and led us three times around the altar.

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And my heart was full.

As Father Stephen reminded us, we are embarked on a journey that continues into eternity. And his prayer for us was that, just as in Cana when the best was served last, the richest and sweetest wine was still to come. May it be so.

This is a significant waymark.

A “thus far”.

A further grace.

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Further up and further in, my love…

__________________

*Many thanks to our dear friend Joel who took all the photos in the post (except Father Stephen blessing Kenz which was taken by Josh. Thanks, Josh. :)).

**The phrase “Further up and further in” is borrowed from C. S. Lewis who uses it in the Last Battle, a favorite at our house.

***Thank you, Alece, for Thoreau. His words are perfect.

****If you would like to see more photos, your can find them HERE.

The First 50 Years…

50

Dearest Mom and Dad,

To live with the same person for 50 years is an extraordinary work of grace. Ask anyone who has been married more than a minute. To love long is also an extraordinary gift; to one another and to all those who love you. For this, I thank you.

As this auspicious day has drawn near, I have wondered: when you look back over 50 years, what is it you remember? When the film reel plays in your mind, what are the images you see?

Here is a little taste of what I remember.

Music. Before any of us kids were born, maybe even before you were married, you were the song leader and piano player. And as soon as we were old enough, each of us joined you singing in church. It was like a right of passage. We sang in the cornfield and in the car, and for whole evenings around the piano. Dad had Don Williams and Merle Haggard on 8 track and mom liked WEZK on the radio, and everywhere there was Southern Gospel and bluegrass. Now your grandchildren gather in your living room with guitar, dulcimer, mandolin, banjo, and piano and sing like we sang. And your legacy continues…

Faith. God and His Church were the axis upon which our whole life as a family was oriented. We fitted our week around it; leaving the garden or the field on Saturday afternoons to wash and dress for the evening service and consecrating Sunday as a day of worship and rest and family. And though all of us serve God in different places now, the thread of faith still binds us together wherever we are.

Travel. I suppose I owe my gypsy wanderlust to the two of you. We grew up camping in the mountains or on the river. So many trips to the beach with cousins. The Great Smoky Mountains, New Orleans, Washington D.C… As retirement has given you more time to travel, I find myself following you to places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Alaska. Thank you for stoking my curiosity.

Magic. In a thousand different shapes and forms. Birthday cakes you bought us from the bakery; Snow White on mine, horses on Marvin’s. Every year. Huffy trail bikes that made us masters of our world. Piling in the back of the truck on a hot day and heading for the river. Swimming til we were exhausted, then eating watermelon and peanut butter and crackers while the cool of the water still tingled in our skin. Catching lightening bugs on summer evenings. Walking barefoot in soft earth, still warm from the plow. Watching calves be born. So. Many. Stories. Tramping through the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree. The Raggedy Man. Snow sledding. Gathering wild Muscadines….

For Better or Worse. You had a fight once. On a Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if you remember it, but I do. I remember what it was about and even some of the exact things you said. Marvin and Monty and I sat out in the back yard deciding who we would go live with if the two of you split up. I mention this mostly because it was such a singular event. In all my growing up, it was the only time I ever thought, even for a minute, that I might be one of those kids shuttled between homes. Certainly you have disagreed and hurt one another from time to time, but I have always known you were in this for the long haul. It means more than you know.

For Richer or Poorer. The early years were lean. I know that now. I don’t think I thought much about it then. Dad worked extra jobs in the evening and mom made all our clothes. But in the process, Marvin learned the electrical trade he practices today and I learned to sew. Gifts. In the time of plenty, you have been generous with us and with others. Thank you for making the most of both.

In Sickness and in Health. When I was a kid, I thought adults never got sick. The two of you didn’t. In recent years, that has changed, of course. I have watched you love and care for one another through Mom’s battle with breast cancer and Dad’s open heart surgery. A team. I remember coming to help after Mom’s surgery and being a little hurt that she preferred Dad’s care to mine. But that is how it should be. And I am glad. You tended both your mothers with kindness and dignity as their health failed. And when little Tucker was born needing extra special care, you gave him your all. I know Monty will never forget that. None of us will.

Til Death… I sometimes wonder if the two of you are aging backwards. Yes, I know that your bodies don’t always cooperate like they used to, but your minds and your hearts seem to keep expanding. Your curiosity knows no bounds. Listening to you describe your trip to the Panama Canal this year was almost as good as being there. Mom is always adding some new flower to the garden and dad is always finding some new, old fruit tree. New grand babies and great grand babies keep coming who need to ride Papaw’s tractor and eat Mamaw’s chocolate gravy and biscuits. Life is full of so much possibility. I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years hold. 🙂

Happy Anniversary!!

I love you!

God grant you many, many more…

The Fiction of Speed

heart

Yesterday was a day for talking about love. Facebook and Twitter were full of sweet tributes. Two of my favorites were unlikely stories. Couples who shouldn’t have made it, but have.

K talked about the gift of being married to the love of her life. This, in the midst of a heroic, difficult battle against cancer. A battle they are fighting TOGETHER. And this in spite of the fact that there was a time when she did not cherish him and what they had together.

W spoke honestly of her personal hell year. The year she hated her husband. In the thirteen years since, she and he have worked to build a beautiful, real, deep love that only seasons and grows with years. They have added three chosen children from Ethiopia to the two born of blood. Theirs is a radiant, vibrant family. It is impossible to say how many lives have been changed…are being changed…daily…because of them.

Both of these women were important voices in my life during the season when I wanted to chuck it all and have done with being married. They were generous enough to tell their stories. They were kind enough to listen to the nonsense that I believed at the time…all my arrogant, petty protests about what I “deserved”. Then, they were wise enough to tell me the truth. In love. To challenge me to do the hard thing. And the hard thing after that…

There is something lovely about young love. The giddy excitement. The breathless wonder. I have a friend who is living in this world at present. It is great fun to watch. But I have come to have a high regard for old love. The sort that is fermented. Tested.

Not everyone goes through a season, like Mike and I did, where they can hardly tolerate the very presence of the other. But everyone who is married will have periods when something is more “urgent” than tending the marriage. New baby. Illness. Job loss. Death of a parent…or a child. Something that seems to take all you have. This is where the battle is won or lost.

This is when you give without demanding return. This is when you daily throw yourself on the grenade for the good of the other. This love is not sexy or convenient, but raw, and rugged, and real.

This kind of love creates a safe place to become. A safe place to dream audacious dreams. A place to dare that which you would never have dared alone. A place to be chiseled and refined into something glorious. Where life reigns regardless of circumstances.

I want a love like that.

Don’t you?

I have these young friends. Too young to be as wise as they are. But they sing a song about this very thing. I kept playing it yesterday, and reading the stories of long love, and my heart celebrated men and women who are courageous enough, and stubborn enough, to hang in there long enough, to tell a great story with their lives. I share the song with you. I dedicate it to K and G, to W and B, and to all those who daily choose to die to self in order to love well. May your tribe increase.

*Post title borrowed from the song by Lulu Mae. If you like this song, you will love their album The Mockingbird and the Dogwood Tree.

Acadia: A Photojournal

Saturday, October 13: We rise before dawn for the trek up Cadillac Mountain, to be among the first people in the U.S. to watch the sun climb out of the Atlantic. We huddle in the clean, cold air as the sky warms to soft rose and apricot. Low lying clouds pulse with gilding as the disc of the sun begins to emerge. An audible gasp ripples through the crowd. I am startled by how fast she climbs. Maybe two minutes, rim to rim. Magic.

After breakfast, we head out for an explore. We drive the marathon route. It is much more hilly than we imagined. And stunningly gorgeous. We drive through quintessential New England villages with their frame and clapboard houses. We drive along the sea where waves hurl themselves into the rocky shore with a roar and flurry of foam. We pass under golden Aspens, sturdy evergreens, and maples and oaks aflame with orange and crimson. All against a cloudless sky of excruciating blue.

And I wish the run was today. And it is difficult to imagine that tomorrow it will rain. And I try to remind myself to breathe in now, and let tomorrow take care of itself…

Sunday, October 14: We wake to the unmistakable sound…of rain. And I want to turn over and go back to sleep. Because rainy days are wondrous for sleeping. But not this rainy day. I will myself to pull on clothes. We join one other couple for the early “runner’s breakfast”. They are young and precious. This is their first marathon. They seem slightly terrified. The innkeeper brings us warm banana pancakes. “It’s pretty rough out there,” he says. Yep. Pretty rough.

There is a break in the rain for our walk to the start. A mercy. We will have two others during the race; neither more than ten or fifteen minutes in duration. The temperature will never climb out of the forties.

At first the rain falls steady but easy. But eventually it gets harder and begins to seep through all our layers. I have nursed an ankle injury all through this training. It never hurts when I’m running (because my body is warm). Only after. Today it will hurt. I can’t get warm. By about mile 16 or so I am doing a lot of walking. Mike is kind and assures me he couldn’t be doing much better himself. It will be our slowest time ever. Six hours. Even the sweet young couple from breakfast will require almost five hours. We had no time goal. The real rub is that for six hours we will have no relief from the wet and cold.

And yet….there is beauty. Even here. Even now. The yellows and flames of yesterday are luminous against the gray. The sea is shrouded in a mystery of mist. Sodden evergreens drip fragrance. Men and women, boys and girls, stand in the cold and damp dispensing nourishment and kindness.

Most of all, I am grateful for the man running beside me. He and I both know that, difficult as this is, compared to some of what we’ve gone through over the past few years, this is a cake walk. So we keep putting one foot in front of another. We complain. Sometimes. We share treats squirreled away for moments of greatest need. And we laugh. A lot. And when it is over, we know today has been important. And next time life throws the impossible at us, we will remember today. And we will put one foot in front of another. One day–one minute–at a time.

Monday, October 15: Walking down the stairs is the hardest. We move like old people. (We are grandparents, after all.) We laugh at one another moving like old people. 🙂 We head out for one more romp through Bar Harbor and Acadia before leaving behind the land of lobster and fresh fish and chowder, and heading home. The morning is blustery, but warm. Sixty degrees before breakfast. Sunshine is intermittent. Sky and sea are sapphire and slate. And I can’t help thinking to myself, “This would be a lovely day for a run…”

*All photographs in the post taken on the days before and after the run. Cerulean skies are Saturday. Skies of slate are Monday. All but 4 were taken along the marathon course. We obviously did not take photographs during the race. I intersperse them throughout the race day account, in part, for irony. See more photos if you like in my Facebook album.

**Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi. It owes its birth largely to Theodore Roosevelt who also oversaw creation of the carriage road and its beautiful stone bridges. It is located on Mount Desert Island just off the coast of Maine. Find it on a map HERE. (about two thirds of the way up) Prior to the French and Indian war, “Acadia” composed a large region of French settlement reaching well into Canada. The British drove out the French settlers and renamed most of the area Nova Scotia. You can read one account in Longfellow’s tragic poem, Evangeline.

Curious. Expectant. Surprised.

The evening is soft and sultry. Unexpectedly hot for May. We sit on calico covered hay bales in the long twilight shadows, while the two of them make promises. Love and cherish. Til death. I have never seen her more radiant.

Every detail says something about who they are. Individually. And as one. Bow ties and suspenders. Antique colored glasses spilling blossoms. Lanterns, paper pinwheels, and signature cocktails served up in mason jars.

He leads her to the dance floor. His touch tender, her eyes filled with love. And their deep joy becomes the music, becomes the dance, becomes the night sky and stars and fireflies and air. I can’t take my eyes off them.

They have been dancing into one another for months. A bit at a time. Here is the extraordinary thing, as they have moved toward oneness, I have seen her becoming more and more herself. As though he is liberating something inside her, and she is liberating him. A sweet, selfless love that is curious and generous, that discovers and makes brave.

I have thought of it often since that night.

 The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own. ~Benjamin Disraeli

He is an internationally renowned jazz pianist who has played with the likes of Art Blakey and Wynton and Branford Marsalis. There is a photo on the wall of him with Dave Brubeck. He talks about these things humbly. Like gift.

Then he begins to tell us about some of his students. Students who have played with Miles Davis and Sting. Students who have become headliners in their own right. He talks about the joy of helping someone find in himself something he didn’t know was there. And I am very glad to be entrusting my son to him for the next four years.

It is gift…

…this ability to see inside someone and draw out what is there. But it is gift that can be cultivated. By listening deeply. By loving generously, without agenda. By wanting the good of the other as much as I want the good of myself. By being willing to surrender preconceived notions and allow the other to grow beyond anything I could have imagined for him.

I want to love like this.

I want to live among others like this.

Curious.

Expectant.

Surprised.

Don’t you?

*The enchanting couple above are Shawn and Madeline Lemon. It is a delight to know them. Positively beautiful, inside and out. Photograph by Brandon Chesbro.

**Jake’s instructor is to be the inimitable Donald Brown. I include the following by way of introduction. Treat yourself to a summer evening in Vienna, and jazz on a Bösendorfer. (That is perhaps only ironic to piano snobs. ;)) The piano solo is about 5 minutes in. Don’t miss it.

We said we would start with dogs…

We said we would start with dogs. If the dogs didn’t die, we would have some babies. We lost the boy dog while I was pregnant, and the girl just after Kelsey was born. Despite this inauspicious start, in twenty years we have managed to not kill any of the children. Yet. 🙂

Beloved, I can’t think of anyone with whom I would rather share the beautiful, terrifying, sacred experience of parenthood, than you. Here are just a few reasons why I am grateful you are the father of my children…

  1. You are sane. Sometimes I resent it…when I want beat the living daylights out of someone who has broken the heart of one of our babies…when I can’t sleep for fretting… But, in the end, your quiet confidence brings far more healing than my fury.
  2. You are funny. Sometimes on purpose. Sometimes not. 😉  Either way, our family has laughed a lot because of you. Thank you for that.
  3. You are generous. You provide our children with everything they need. And, you give them your time, something even more precious. You help them understand the joy of ownership by coming alongside them as they work to achieve their goals. And, by your example, you teach them to give to others with open hands.
  4. You are tender. I have seen your heart break for your babies. I sometimes envy the way you instinctively know how to be with them in those moments. You impart peace, without saying a word.
  5. You are Godly. Not preachy. Not flashy. But always, every day, honorable. A man of integrity. A man of faith.
  6. You are dauntless. Whether wilderness backpacking, snowboarding, driving on the wrong side of the road in Ireland, or letting little girls put your hair in tiny ponytails, nothing intimidates you. You have taught our children to be brave. With your words. But mostly, by your example.
  7. You are creative. Do you remember how you used to make up stories for the kids when they were little? They would give you 3 things and you would weave them into the story. A bowl of ice cream is canvas to you. And I save all your beautiful letters. I’ll bet they do too.
  8. You like to play. Our children have been to some crazy places and done some crazy things. You help make that happen. You are always up for a game, a hike, a culinary experiment, wrestling on the floor, dressing up for Halloween, etc…
  9. You know stuff. Lots of stuff. About business, about electronics, about tools and toilets and how to make doors not squeak…and about who to call for everything else.
  10. You love without limits. The children have all tested this (as have I). It is the most important thing. When we try to grasp a God who loves extravagantly, without bounds, we have had a worthy example. In you.

Happy Father’s Day, my darling! Thank you for being you.
I love you. Always.

Postcards from Paradise…

The words will come.

I know it.

But, just now, they are flying around, frantically, in and out of my head…a confusion of thoughts and impressions, remembrances and moments, ecstasies and and quiet reveries, that refuse to be contained or given shape and I don’t even know where to start or which ones go together or if you even want to hear them or if I’ve already talked about it enough and does it really matter in the scheme of things or should I just move on and only bore my family with the stories and anecdotes or would it be fun for you to have a glimpse into our week in Eden and our frolic amongst some of God’s most brilliant handiwork….

So….until I can get a handle on the words…and stop writing ridiculous run-on sentences…(Who do I think I am? Hemingway?)…I thought I would share with you a few favorite photographs. I took around 700 over the 9 days we were away. On my phone. That doesn’t include the ones on the camera or video camera. I have not even uploaded those yet. Nor does it account for the several experiences, like zip-lining or white-water rafting, where we took no photos at all.

But Costa Rica is one of the most visually stunning places I have ever visited. It seams a fitting place to begin.

Blue Morpho Butterfly on Bougainvillaea

Photograph taken at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, though we saw an abundance of these magnificent creatures in the wild. Bougainvillaea was also plentiful, covering hillsides with abandon. Glorious extravagance!

Green Crowned Brilliant Hummingbird

Hand feeding these beauties was one of the highlights of our trip. To study them up close. To feel the power of their wings as they soared past our faces. Remarkable!! (Blow this one up and have a closer look. The detail of her feathers is astonishing.)

Violet Sabrewing

I confess, this little fellow stole my heart. I am crazy mad about purple. And the peculiar hue of his feathers is positively captivating. (Note how my phone portrayed the fury of his wings.)

Lily

This graceful beauty pushed its way out of the old lava flow at the base of Arenal Volcano. The stark contrast of elegance against raw, aridity is compelling. A visual lesson in beauty from ashes.

Lavender Lilies Against Arenal

I had to scale a bit of an escarpment to get to these. It was worth it. The delicate lavender of the blossoms against the deep blue cone of Arenal wounded me with their loveliness.

Harbor at Quepos

Restricted color palette. A quiet oasis amidst unrelenting exuberance. Every time I look at it, my heart flutters. The stillness. How it washes over me. Softly. Can’t explain…

Water and Sky, Framed

I am embarrassed to say how many photographs I have of precisely this shot. I was infatuated. I couldn’t stop watching the play of the spray against the indigo sky as set off by their rugged frame.

Study in Blue

The architecture of the gnarled trunk against the assortment of blues delights me.

Pretty in Purple

I’m a sucker for purple. Perhaps I mentioned that. I suppose that’s why I spotted these, hidden underneath a big leafy bush. Like they were an accident or something. Such intricacy of form, such deliberate detail, in blossoms no more than 3 inches across! SomeONE takes great joy in making things lovely. Even those that will often go unseen…

*In case you are wondering, I do not know why the vertical photos are not centered. They made that determination themselves and, despite my best efforts, will not relent. It bothers me more than I can, or should, say. Especially in a post given to the beautiful. Alas, I have no technical skills. So imagine a perfectly centered and pleasingly arranged post. Will ya? 🙂

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