Kything and Oneness.

There is this beautiful thing that can happen…  even when one’s love is on deployment.  This little breath of air and drawing back of a curtain from the haze of every day reality that clarifies things for just a split seconds and  makes you realize…

I am married.  I share my soul with someone.

I cast a bit of my brokenness over the lines in an email.  I tremble to do so because it goes against the Navy Wife code.  You  never write an email  or a letter about something that is wrong until it is fixed.

But what do I do when I am the thing that is broken and in need of repair?

I don’t feel safe in a relationship unless I can lay the good and bad at the feet of the person who claims to love me and know that they won’t flinch but will some how reach out to comfort and restore a part of what is hurting in me.

If I have to wait six months to lay some of my mess and brokeness–especially when that mess and brokeness is amplified in the crucible of a deployment–then my heart shrinks away and mistakenly thinks that I cannot trust my husband.  I grow numb and cold.

And that kind of thing can kill us.

But if in some capacity, I can lay some of that hurt and sorrow and ache on him

AND even better, if he is able to respond.

Then…

Then I see what it means to truly be One.

I was enchanted by Madeleine L’Engle’s idea of Kything from the second I first read A Wind in the Door.  Prokinoskes insists that ‘where doesn’t matter,’ but that somehow the essence of you can truly be with the essence of another regardless of distance or location.

In A Ring of Endless Light Vicki sends a desperate call out to Adam Eddington–with her being and her soul, she wishes for him there.

And he comes to help bear her back to the light.  He hears her from a distance in an internal sort of way.  And he comes and I cry every time.

There are moments of every deployment when I catch a glimpse of that.  Emails that go back and forth that seem to hum a similar tune…  Words that give me a glimpse of how my husband is growing… and I catch a fleeting vision of the good that is being wrought in all the hard.

Messages that he has penned that hold my fragile, stretched thin heart with such tenderness.

It’s already been long enough that I don’t quite remember what it feels like to have his hand graze mine.

I have to focus on specific parts of him to remember the whole of what he looks like.

I haven’t been enfolded in his arms in so long that I have to work to recall the way the smell of him, the feel of him, the strength of him can wrap around me.

But he can still wrap me in his words and in his love.  He can still lift me to The Father in his prayers.

Somehow the Oneness doesn’t fade with distance.  It is able to stretch.

This is not to say that deployments can’t be brutal to a marriage.  They can.  There is a re-weaving that has to happen on the other side and a re-negotiation of what things will look like.

Distance doesn’t always make the heart go fonder.  It can sometimes make the heart go numb.

But even so…  There can be  these moments in the middle of the missing and the feeling of acute separation and the wondering if every day you are both changing in ways that might not easily mesh back together.  There can be these fleeting moments in the midst of the pain of the missing…

In the middle of that, there are these moments when you look up and KNOW down to your toes that YOU. ARE. MARRIED to this man that you love…

And that somehow across thousands of miles and spanning the continents and the oceans that separate us our love wraps around one another.

Sometimes the where doesn’t matter.

Because…

Distance cannot change the truth that we have been made One.

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This is Me Trying…

I long desperately for the moments of empowerment and the feelings of “I got this,” to creep back in and stay.

They come and go at different points in each day, but the last couple of weeks they have been so very fleeting.  I’ll feel them for mere seconds before the next minor or major crisis breaks through the calm.

But this…  this is me trying.

I alternate between ignoring my Weight Watchers online page and zealously counting every point.  I have dreams of meeting my husband as a smaller wife, but my lack of consistency makes the numbers bounce up and down like a slinky.  At least I’m getting a good weekly dose of endorphins through Zumba.

The ways that my parenting has been inconsistent have become glaringly obvious–I see how disrespectful and hurtful the girls can be to one another and to me.  I see attitudes rage that seem unexplainable except that I observe myself not addressing them when they come up.

So… I recommit to 1, 2, 3 Magic and pray for some of the magic to come back.  I cling to the go-to script that it gives me so that I can stop the head-butting and overly emotionally talking at them.  I need the script so that I don’t yell at them, or worse…  whine at them in desperation.

Desperate and malnourished of encouragement I drag myself to the Word each morning for a crumb to sustain me.  I crawl like a parched woman in the desert to the oasis of our new church to put myself under the teaching of someone who points people to The Source of all encouragement (and I gotta tell you…  I’m pretty sure you’d have to be dead to not be lifted and loved and learned up by the preaching that happens at this church).

The days are hard and long.  I wish it wasn’t this way.  I wish I was one of those women for whom it seems that life continues on placid and unrippled when their husbands have to be away, but I seem to be landing smack in the middle of those who are grasping desperately to hold aloft even one plate of the seven spinning around me.

Believe me, each day I think, “Today is the day that I’m going to write the perky happy blog so that people who read here (including my husband) know that it’s not all gloom and doom and feeling sorry for myself (gosh, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself.  Really I’m just needing to acknowledge the hard…  Apparently several times a day).   I don’t want to be that whiny girl…  the person in your blog favorites that you quit reading every day because it’s just so darned ugly over at her place lately.

This is me trying.

Even on the days that I’m met at the Sunday School door with, “Val, she is just so sad.  I know you have a lot going on right now, but she was just so sad today,” and I’m left at a loss for what I’m even supposed to say in response.

Even on the days that the 1, 2, 3 magic leaves both girls in time out more than they are out of time out.

Even on the days that the knots in my shoulders and neck make me feel like I’m walking like a hunch back.

This is me trying.  One foot in front of the other, grabbing at anything and everything that has ever worked before…  Desperate for help that seems like it must be on par with the miraculous from God.

And maybe the hope is in the desperation…  Maybe this constant feeling of desperation and this intense knowledge of my utter fallen apartness that I exist in instead of the ‘togetherness’ I’d at least like to appear to have…  Maybe it’s that desperation that will ultimately save me here.  I can’t rest in my pride at how well-adjusted my kids are at home or in public because they just…  aren’t right now.  I can’t rest into the satisfaction of a clean house because it never gets that way.  I can’t rest into the feeling of accomplishment of keeping ten pounds off, because so far they haven’t stayed off.

But maybe if I stay desperate enough, and keep on trying, and leaning, and showing up, and letting it all unfold…  I’ll find rest in God…

And maybe that will be better than any kind of ‘together’ I could muster up on my own.

So if you see me at parent pick-up or in the hallway waiting to pick up my unhappy child from Sunday school, or in my sweatpants because I’d really hoped to squeeze in a work-out this morning, or with my kids with their hair all askew because I still haven’t figured out what the heck to do with girls with long hair and we’re too tired and rushed for time every morning for me to get them to look as cute as they really are…

Just know that I sure as heck KNOW that I don’t have it all together and I can’t even begin to pretend that I do, but  that somehow or another in this place of fallen apartness, I keep on trying…

And in my leaning and desperation and trying to fall forward, I’m finding hope and hopefully eventually some rest and restoration in The One who holds me and all of His creation in a kind of ‘together’ that is cosmic and true in the “all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well,” kinds of ways.

This is me trying.

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Evidence of Life

Five Minute Friday is here again already!!!  Sometimes it is my favorite thing all week.  This week’s word feels positively providential.

I cried a lot today.  It’s been that kind of week.

As I sat across from my pastor, earlier this week, spilling out all the things that had been held in for too long with no one to sit with me and catalog the damage, he told me some things that I needed to hear even though I didn’t really want to hear them.

He said my struggles were gospel struggles.

And he said my grief was real.

And he said my pain was real.

And he said they were good things and I was supposed to be feeling them.

I knew what he meant, but he worried that I would think that he was telling me it was good to be in pain.  I nodded that I understood that it was more about being in the process and being human and owning that humanity.

I clearly realized as I sat there that one of the things that I am feeling repeatedly right now looks something like, “I am in pain.  I am really in pain.  I don’t want to be in pain anymore.  Make it stop.”

I am impatient with my pain and with the feeling of these hard things.

Right now, all is tender….  I am alive to the ache and the pain of missing my husband.  I am alive to the grief and the deep soul cuts that came as a result of losing our church.  I am alive to the ache of worry and anxiety that come when tests are ordered and results are slow in coming.

I finally heard back on the MRI that I was awaiting news about.  After a day of being proactive and plucky, I learned that there was ‘no clinical significance’ for the abnormalities that were found.  This is good news.  A repeat MRI is indicated in a year and we’ll see if anything else comes out of that.

It’s good news, but I hung up the phone and cried for hours, and I do mean hours  For the tenderness, and the hurt of walking this without my love…  For the anxiety that has been held tight in my neck and my shoulders and behind my eyes for weeks now that seems now to have been in vain.

I am tender….  and I find that those things which indicate my aliveness…  Those moments of “I am in pain.  I am really in pain.  I don’t like it.  I want this to stop now,” need released often these days.

They spill over and I stand in it and I try to remember…

This tenderness, this teariness, this pain…   is evidence that I am alive.

Layers

So while I was driving today, I was thinking about layers.

It was a doozy of a morning around here.  My girls have decided to formally boycott getting up and getting dressed for school.  Every morning I wake them up a little before 7:30 a.m.  At 8 a.m. every morning (after a few prods and pushes), I let them know that they are running out of time.  At 8:20 every morning I start to panic and drill sergeant Mama shows up.  I yell and veins bulge and somehow… things start to move, but slowly…  at 8:40 every morning the panic mode goes into hyper-drive because we are now on the cusp of officially being late.  At 8:51 every  morning I look at the clock on the van and wonder how in the heck 11 full minutes have passed since the last time I looked at it because it shouldn’t take that long for two girls to finish up the last minute tasks of putting coats on and getting strapped in, and I hastily drive Carolyn to the student drop off spot because she doesn’t have time to walk to the playground from the school entrance connected to base housing.  At 8:51:30, I berate the children for us doing this Every. Single. Day.  At 8:52 I feel profoundly guilty especially at the gnawing feeling in my stomach which suggests that I have just set my daughters up to have the worst days of their lives at school by being Drill Sergeant Mama for a full 32 minutes and I soften my tone and remind them that I love them and that we’re going to be ok and we all can have a good day and that I’m sorry that sometimes I use a mean voice.  At 8:53, Carolyn arrives on the cusp of lateness which Carolyn tells me means that the bell hasn’t rung yet but all the kids are already on the rug.  At 9:03 Abigail and I arrive at her preschool, late for that one too, I hug her, I kiss her, and I marvel at all the together mothers who make my puddling mess of frazzled look so darned bad each and every morning and I try not to cry on my steering wheel again.

So yes.  I had that kind of morning this morning.

And then immediately after that morning, I hastily drove to the parking lot of my church where the pastor of our new church was waiting to meet with me because I had gotten to that point where letting things rattle around and bounce off of my insides over and over and over again ricocheting here and there around my head was simply too much to do.  And here…  before THAT meeting of vulnerable goo I had had a morning that nearly broke me in two.

I talked in this meeting and I poured out the grief that I still feel in such intensity over the loss of our friends and our family and our involvement  as a result of the loss of our church.  I poured out the stress and the weariness and fatigue I am feeling in the midst of this deployment and the anxiety and unease and overwhelmedness I still feel when I am processing this year post-tumor and the ways that medical surveillance will always be a part of my life, and the added anxiety and unease and overwhelmedness I’ve been feeling as a result of this “bonus” MRI and the somewhat unclear findings of it and the….  Waiting, waiting, waiting…  (We’re going on a fully 2 and a half weeks now) for my doctor to read the report and make a recommendation about an action plan.

As I was driving today I was thinking about layers…  I was thinking about the layers that I live and struggle in:  The…  Tired Mommy trying to get her kids off to school, trying to make sure I’m not too hard/too soft, trying to balance the attention that they need and the downtime I crave, trying to be a good Mom and the Failure feelings that creep in on all of us who are part of this profession of Mommyhood.

And I was thinking about the layer of being a woman whose husband is on deployment.  The tiredness of that, the sheer attrition of it…  The stress and the anxiety and the deep in the bones ache of longing for my love.

And the layer of medical anxiety past and present.

And the layer of loss of church and very, very real grief that doesn’t make sense to anyone, but is really, really real and must be felt and worked through.

There are these layers that I exist in and struggle in, in various degrees and at different times every. single. day.

I’m sure you have them too…  The every day life struggles and the normal struggles of relationships and the struggles of your deepest heartaches and fears and anxieties.

We balance them and juggle them and navigate them all every single day.

My layers were validated today and I needed that.  It was good.  It was necessary.  I was grateful.

But as I thought about my layers, I didn’t feel sorry for myself.  Instead I felt grateful.

In all of those layers…  those layers that when spoken back to me and laid out for me to see by someone else… With that outside perspective I can see their potential to be soul-crushing and I can understand why I was full to the brim of coping on my own and needed to find a safe place to lean it all on today.

But in all of those layers, I am still somehow sustained.  I am borne up under them.  It’s not perfect and it’s not clean and it’s not always pretty.  Often it is messy, frayed, shocking.

But I am borne up.  I am shored up.  And I am held as they pelt and lash like the winds and rains that whipped up around us during that drive of frazzlement that got the kids settled at school today.

In those layers I see my weakness.  I see my strength.  I see His light shining through the cracked-pot, crack-pot chinks in my armor.

And deep within me, somehow, I have to catch my breath for the beauty.

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In Which I Reveal My not-so-guilty T.V. Pleasures and the Way God Meets Me In Them

It’s Five Minute Friday!!!  I’m always so grateful to Lisa Jo for these days of writing just for the thrill of words and language and seeing where they’ll take me.

Full confession:  My kids kept interrupting me so I lost track of time and I know I wrote longer than five minutes, but Five Minute Friday again got my creative juices starting to flow!  Also, I really had no intention of admitting to you all that I am a TV on DVD junkie and that I love watching the romance of on-screen couples like Booth and Brennan on Bones unfold, but hey…  What can I say?  This is the real me.  😉  

One of my go-to coping mechanisms is getting lost in someone else’s story.  I have a T.V. series that corresponds with most of the major struggles of my life since entering adulthood.  Felicity, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, West Wing, Murphy Brown…  All of them have given me a story to slip into with vivid colors and the struggles of someone else to care about when the stakes weren’t too high.  Books have been the same kind of respite for me.  I slip into old favorites like my Madeleine L’Engle collection or the world of Anne of Green Gables and pull them around me like a comfy bath robe.  The language and the hope and the idealism help me to cocoon and re-center myself.

Sometimes I’m surprised at how God finds me there, even as I’m escaping the “real world.”  I woke up yesterday still feeling a little glum…  dreading another day of being snowed in, missing husband, and with a wicked, awful toothache.  Since I woke up earlier than I expected and knew I didn’t have to get the kids ready for school I put Bones on to zone out to.  Now I love me some Bones and this happened to be one of those mushy-gushy ones where Brennan’s intellectualism is cracking a little bit and she needs a safe place to fall and her partner, Booth, is always that.

Those scenes can be dangerous when Hubby is away because they make me miss him so much…  He is MY safe place to fall and he’s the one person who sees all of the nitty-gritty Valness in all it’s glory.  In the last few years of things that felt so much bigger than me, I put on a brave face with everyone but him.

The vividness of my imagination gave me that little comparison and then I went downstairs to start the day and do my devotions.  And what did I find?  A passage and a reflection about how God rescues us.  And it occurred to me right there, that this little ‘escape from reality’ had given me the chance to snuggle up close to the heart of God.  I miss that safe place to fall that I find in my husband and that I’m reminded of when watching my favorite on-screen romances unfold, but here God used this escape and the tool of my imagination to show me that HE is filling in those gaps.  That HE is always my first and best soft place to fall.  That I can be a spoiled brat birthday girl with Him, and the brute beast that the Psalmist calls out.  I can crumble a little bit and take off my public brave face.  My husband is the Booth to my Brennan, but God was that first.

He finds me in the funniest places sometimes.  I love that.

Spoiled Little Birthday Girl

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The standard milspouse line for a birthday when one’s spouse is away is, “As Military Spouses we know that a day is just  a day and that we can celebrate special days at our own time in our own way.”

But, as we’ve already established I’m just not doing so well with saying the lines on my milspouse script this time around.

Tomorrow is my birthday and my husband says that since it’s my party, I can cry if I want to.

My kids…  My amazing, amazing kids have been cooking things up for the last few days. I will get sweet, sweet little cards tomorrow that they have poured their hearts into.  And it will melt my heart and it will make tomorrow precious in spite of it all.  How do I dare complain in the face of such sweetness?

But this Mama is tired…  Just so tired.  Of doing it all, of being the Mom and the Dad.  Of trying to find some time, any time, to get the housework done, but still always being behind.  Of getting the house in order only to find it falling down around my ears a few minutes later.  Of parenting on fumes and trying so hard not to yell but finding myself hoarse again.  Of waiting for test results and answers.  Of planning for contingencies and unforeseen scenarios.  Of telling the kids for the 2000th time at 11 p.m. at night that they must, they must, THEY MUST GO TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW.

This Mama is tired.

My birthday is tomorrow and I never grew up all the way.  I’m just an overgrown five year old really.  I want the party and the balloons.  I want to be celebrated.  And there is a little spoiled brat inside of me warring and screaming that tomorrow just won’t be as special as I want it to be.  As it should be.  I turn 31 tomorrow and I want to feel good about it, but what I really feel is just…

Incomplete.

That’s what it comes down to.

What I really want tomorrow is him.  I want him next to me, doing this with me.  I want him to sing off key with the girls and to bake me a cake and decorate it better than I ever could. I want help wiping down the table and sweeping up the kitchen and the one person in the world who tells me that I am cherished and makes me believe it to be here to do just that tomorrow.

That’s what I want for my birthday, and I know I can’t have it.

I have to park my brain in better places than this, and I know it.

I’m trying to call my eyes and my heart to the abundance of love that God is showering upon me and the ways that he woos and celebrates me every day.  Through my kids and their pint-sized bodies and grandiose birthday overtures…  Through reminders that have been flashing over and over again of “My” verse.  Through him calling my mind back to the points in time when I have felt the most cherished by Him.

And it is in those moments that I will fight to stay and that I will try to cling to tomorrow.

I’d be lying though if I told you it wasn’t going to be a battle to keep my mind there.

This mama is tired and this road is wearying and long and I’m 31 tomorrow and baking my own cake.

His mercies are new every morning and the dawn of my 31st year will surely be no different, if I can keep my eyes open and my brain parked in his pastures of plenty.

P.S.  I have great hopes that eventually this blog will again become something other than a deployment whine fest.  Really.