maybe i might love you

friends

maybe you’re like me.

maybe light has always hit friendship at a strange angle.

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i’ve always looked for the true friend, the real friend, the friend i could trust no matter what.

and i’ve never found her.

i’m watching my daughter play in the yard with her newest friend. hours of play fly by like seconds and they say this over and over.

“we’re sisters. we’re twins. we’re twin sisters.”

everything the same. everything just like me.

girls

it is good not to be alone. when you’re a child you reason like a child. the hope and belief that you find someone who sees this world just exactly the same, it’s an intoxicating proposition.

part of me wants to pull my girl aside, keep her out of harm’s way.

“friendship is dangerous ground.” i want to whisper. “don’t hand over your heart too quickly. keep safe, child. keep safe.”

alone

because at some point you realize that the person you thought saw the world just like you doesn’t and all the earth becomes shaky ground. nothing abandons like a friend.

i’ve had friends lie and i’ve lied to friends.
i’ve had friends change the course of their lives and i’ve changed course on friends.
i’ve had friends tell my secrets and i’ve told the secrets of friends.

there is no perfect friend.

just human beings wrapped in all their troubles and all their glory. just people who mess up and say their sorry. or not.

but peter and jesus met up on the beach. after god had been left high and dry by 12 of his closest friends, they sat on the shore and built a fire.

jesus seems to believe that friendship is stronger than death.

child's play

i don’t why he thinks that.

why he believes that you lay down your life for your friends. that brother and sister, mother and father, are those who hear his voice and do what he says, not flesh and blood.

god has a strong redefinition of relationship for us and friendship is nearly front and center.

i don’t know why he thinks that.

but if i’ve believed anything he’s said – i’ll believe this part, too.

maybe i might

so i’m sorry my friend.

i’m sorry if i’ve hurt you and neglected you. i’m sorry if i abused your trust. let’s meet at the beach and swim to the sand bar. we can stand there and i want to hear your heart and tell you mine.

let’s trust the great god of friendship. let’s talk through the moments that we didn’t think we’d speak of.  let’s cry and pray and laugh and talk some more.

and on that day when one of us has abandoned this old world entirely, let’s remember how peter jumped into the lake when he saw his risen friend.

let’s believe that friendship is stronger than death. and as we grieve, let’s not forget that all our conversations will pick up right where they left off.

 

repost from the archives…

Posted in friendship, jesus, me, you | 12 Comments

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moms forgiving children forgiving moms

i broke ella’s tea cup.

she found a set at an estate sale that was pretty perfect and upon carrying it in from the yard, it slipped from my hand.

way to go, mom.

its tough not to venerate your mother.  to gloss over the past and the short comings and hope your own children will do the same for you.  its like the funeral phenomenon where the deceased suddenly gets saint status even though they broke your heart.

a mother is broken.

she messes up and forgets about you and ignores you when you need affirmation.  she says the wrong thing and she hurts you and you get to see her mess up in a front row seat.

moms are given brand new babies that are pretty perfect and they break stuff.

but they make stuff, too.

both of our mothers rejected a paint by numbers life, picked up a brush and now both of our daughters are original masterpieces.

both of our mothers rejected a spirituality that told them what a woman was and hammered out a relationship with god like a blacksmith and now our daughters wear crosses around their necks forged in refining flames.

that’s the thing about a mother, she lives life right in front of you.  you invade her world. she lives for two or three or four or five, to be with her is almost like to be with yourself.

there’s no hiding for the broken mom.

i threw the pieces of the shattered cup away last night.

i apologized to ella and she forgave me quick, like the way i’ve forgiven broken plates and cups before.  i noticed it and was thankful that i’ve never held broken things over her head, that i’ve been quick to forgive.

i woke up this morning and realized i could have glued it back together.

i dug through the garbage, coffee grounds and banana peels.  old tea leaves and paper plates.  i looked through it twice.  i found everything but one piece.

sometimes a mother looks through the garbage to find what is still valuable to make things better.

sometimes there’s still a missing piece.

and that’s okay.

because we know you tried and still try.

its that you looked through at all, that you were willing.

i forgive you mom, just like you forgave me.

imperfect mothers are a given, forgiveness isn’t.  i recommend embracing both so your children know how when the time comes.

Posted in childhood, forgiveness, mothering, the human heart | 1 Comment

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the great intelligence of kindness


mazzy has been busy with her high school musical.

she’s been spending nights at rehearsal, putting together costume ideas and driving to the performing center right from school with friends who have cars.

driving in a friend’s car.  walking together out of the school to the parking lot and dropping her purple backpack onto the floor of a friend’s car.  sitting in the passenger side and feeling the wind by the lake on her face in a friend’s car.

she’s loved being a part of it.

when they get there, everyone says, “hi mazzy!”  with hugs and smiles.  she’s hanging around backstage waiting for her cue while girls in dresses with crinoline fly by and boys in tuxedos quick change into argyle sweaters.

we came to opening night and there she was on the actual stage for all of eight minutes in a 2 1/2 hour show.

it was hard not to feel disappointed.

we watched her and then she was gone until the final number where she was buried behind much taller teenagers with many hours of singing and dancing logged.

we waited for mazzy to come and receive her admirers and her flowers.  when she saw our little group her smile was bigger than her, bigger than the lobby.  any and all disappointment was dwarfed by her joy.

“you came!  i can’t believe you all came!”

there is a singer who stole the show.  her voice in the mouth of a senior in high school makes you wonder what the future has in store.  i’m a little star struck when she comes out later.  the wig is gone, the makeup is off.  we tell her how much we enjoyed her performance, but she hardly hears the praise.  she only has eyes for mazzy.

“mazzy!  you were amazing tonight!”

i watch her hug mazzy and i know that she means every word.

the star and the girl whose feet barely touched the stage.

kindness is its own form of intelligence.

it is the sort that you can’t test for.  it will only be experienced.  kindness can’t be compared to last years scores so it sounds unimportant, insignificant.  but tonight seeing the humility of this talented singer telling my daughter how wonderful she was tonight, i know there is something better than stage time.

and mazzy knows it, too.  she’s known it all along.  she’s had to learn it in ways most of us never have to.

there is vulnerability in kindness that sets things free, that loosens the strangling cords of the expectations of this cut throat world, there is genius there.

“of course we came mazzy!”

where else would we be?

you child are the great heart revealer.  the state of a human being’s heart is plainly visible around you.  who embraces you?  who avoids you?

i have both failed and passed this test of yours, thankfully it’s not offered yearly, but daily – and so here i sit with my sharpened number two ready to learn what kindness means again today.

Posted in community, friendship, high school, inclusion, kindness, mazzy, pride, teenagers, thankful, the human heart | 4 Comments

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the reliable enemy of good friday


our cat is pretty reliable in this way – if we open a window, soon the cat will appear there on its ledge.  he can also always be found when we open the back door, trying to run out between our feet and prowl these flowering yards.

the other day he caught a bird in flight.  he pierced its neck with his tapered, needle like cat teeth.  we stood around and stared down at its grey feathers puffing up in the wind against the grey sidewalk.  none of us knew what to do.  not even the cat.

today is good friday.

the day we celebrate an innocent man taking the blame for what he didn’t do.  it’s a tough mystery to unravel.  how when we love people to know where is the line of when we speak up for the wrongs done against us and where we just bear it never saying a word.

i tend to lean harder on one side or the other.

either never able to suffer an offense done to me, always defending myself, making sure everyone knows loud and clear, or quietly and passively, how they’ve hurt me.

or i keep it all inside.  folding wrongs done against me like shirts, one on top of another and another, until my heart is nothing but drawers filled with memories that i go right to and pull on when i like.


we are pretty reliable in this way – if a wrong is done to us, we have a way of dealing with it that likely does more harm than good.

the other day a man was caught in the thorny, razor-sharp teeth of his natural enemy and when he was dead, no one knew what to do.  not even the one who had killed him.


is it untrue that people live so much of life just coping from the ways they’ve been hurt?  it sounds bleak and constricted and like a hell of a lot of work.  yet, i’ve got a feeling based on forty-two years of living and nearly every important conversation i have…i’ve got a feeling that it is true.

that man caught in the jaws of his enemy, the bird on the cement, all this end of living can lead us to another way to live.

not with a chest of drawers heart and not having to rake your claws across anyone you think has done you wrong.

there is the good friday way.

we scooped up the innocent bird and walked to the trash can.  children felt responsible and we worried over the taking of the life.  we lifted the black bin lid like rolling back a stone.

then from joshua’s hands we thought the feathers still ruffled from the wind, but no.  it fell from his palm but before it hit the ground it was up, seemingly unwounded and it flew.

we watched it fly and we celebrated how unharmed it was from the wrong done to it.

a promise made of another way to leave this earth.

Posted in death, easter, forgiveness, good friday, resurrection | 3 Comments

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stout-hearted

i’m going through the motions.  laundry.  dishes.  downstairs in the basement i hear change in my son’s jeans as i go to put them in the washing machine.  i dig around in the pocket and bring out three coins.  they feel like quarters in my hand, but when i look at them, i see three words staring back at me.

no cash value.

it’s strange the things that make us calm down.  it can be random what causes us to suddenly feel peaceful.  but for me it has always included an element of surprise.

last sunday a guy named johnny prayed that i would have the courage to change my habits.

is that what is required?  courage?  i was under the impression it was a force of will or better yet – a surrendering to my own inability and asking for help.

but courage?

i hadn’t thought about it like that.

all the synonyms for courage are breathing life into my soul today.

audacity.  grit.  spunk.  backbone.  pluck.  mettle.  nerve.

do i have the audacity to change my own life?

someone told me recently that when life becomes less of a gift and more of a burden there are three things you need to already have developed.

deep friendships.

an intimate relationship with jesus.

and the ability to rest.

i’ve been running on the fumes of a couple of these as of late.  i can’t seem to force myself back either.  so to see these coins, i can’t explain it, but it helped me today.

that money is of no consequence to god has always been a warm blanket straight out of the dryer to me.  our current cultural climate is tossing out everything that doesn’t make more money.  art – who cares?  human compassion – what does it matter?

the bottom line has become the party line and i think it’s been eating away at my heart.

i want coins that say no cash value on them.  i want to take those coins into the grocer’s and buy milk and wine and food without money.

i want to remember what matters.

i want the courage to change the things i can.

Posted in depression, faith, hidden life, provision | 1 Comment

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and i’m so glad

joshua and i celebrated 19 years of marriage a couple of weeks ago.  the first four years of it there were no children.  no mazzy.  no abe.  no ella.

i remember the counseling and the fighting.  i remember how hard it was to suddenly be married in a new city where i knew no one.  i remember not knowing the first thing about putting someone else before myself.

someone told me recently that the word “saved” in the context that i used it was “tacky.”

but i didn’t mind because i know what it feels like to be saved.

over and over again, i’ve been saved.

this anniversary was pretty much spent with the kids.  we went out to dinner alone one lovely night and woke up alone one lovely morning, but the minutes and hours ticked by as fast as time tends to.

at this point i don’t know marriage separate from kids.

and i like it.

i didn’t always like it.  when i was drowning in diapers and depression, i used to count down the hours until joshua came home.  i used to count down the hours until i could drive away with a friend and not be a mom for two or three days.  i used to…

but time has ticked like it does and i hear the warnings from empty nests.  don’t put too much of your life into these kids – they’ll be up and gone before you know it.  then where will you be?

who will you be?

i’ll be the same.  lonelier.  happier.  sadder.  but i’ll be the same.  here with my saving god that has taken me from selfish and young to 40 and kind to 60 and who the hell knows.

but not give everything to them now?

…does not compute.

all my days are written.

yours are too.

19 years has flown though, hasn’t it?  if you were there and saw two incredibly young and naive and broken people tie the knot that friday afternoon in greenfield village – can you believe that was 19 years ago?

i smiled so big that day that my face ached by the end of the night.

what was i saved for and what was i saved from?

josh, mazzy, abe and ella.

and you.

i was saved for all of you.

Posted in family, grace; free gifts, marriage, mothering, redemption | 4 Comments

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a blog post about a person with down syndrome

me

i had a dream last night about bloggers who write about their children with down syndrome.

some are so famous online that you’d recognize them in public.

in the dream i was walking by lake michigan and a mother had set up her kids for a photo shoot complete with lighthouse in the background.

mazzyweus

mazzy turned 15 a couple of weeks ago.

last night she was asked to be an escort in the mr. blue devil event at her high school.

mazzy continues to unfold like a flower.

i don’t share it enough.

i share it too much.

she’s a person.  she’s her own person.  she’s my responsibility.  she’s fine.

mother and child

what is it that is so compelling to people about down syndrome?

why do they want to read about it?  why do they want to eradicate it?  what’s the mystery to be solved there?

joshua said recently that people are obsessed with the idea of their worth.  that we all have a slight notion that our lives are valuable beyond measure.  i agree and i wonder if a person with down syndrome pushes the bar just a little bit higher.

the qualities that make us human; love, kindness, vulnerability, joy and dependence – these are on display in a person with down syndrome in ways that we can’t replicate.  we are literally unable to be so free.

but not mazzy.

sweet

so here’s a blog post about a young woman with down syndrome.

her name is mazzy and she’s 15 years old.  she’s at school today taking drama class and art class and studying earth science.  later on tonight she’ll do her homework and go to dance class.

nothing terribly out of the ordinary about her life but still we read away.

Posted in beauty, disability, good life, mazzy, teenagers, weakness | 4 Comments

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unanswered prayers

bookstore

my dad was back in the stacks and the snow wasn’t stopping outside.  big, fat snowflakes falling themselves down on the lucky streets of ann arbor, michigan.  i looked over and saw my husband considering yet another collection of words to stick into his brain.

what a beautiful night.

books

tall

my mother was watching the kids.  my children were tucked in, safe and loved, at her house and i was out with my two all-time favorite men going to see a concert, going out to dinner, looking through old books on a snowy night.

what do i have to complain about?

nothing but beauty for as far as the eye can see.

books

i used to pray that i could live in a beautiful place.

but when you pray such a prayer you are putting a couple of things out there for debate. first off, i am praying and so it would stand to reason that i believe in a god that can hear me.  so there’s that.  next, i’m suggesting that i know what the word beautiful means.

or that i know what god thinks the word means.

large assumptions indeed and you know what they say about assumptions.

stacks

art

i thought god had answered my prayer.  i really did.  i believed that he had given me a beautiful place to live in, but now i’m not so sure.

“lord, i pray that i could live in a beautiful place.”

these days i’m thinking god hasn’t answered it yet.

because if there is anything to learn from this trip to the bookstore, caught in net of familial love, it’s that there’s always another book to read.

there is another idea out there waiting to be heard.  there’s a new definition, another definition of the word beautiful, better than any that i’ve heard before.  and i’ve seen beauty.  i really have.  could there be better, lord?  yes, i think so.  it’s just starting to be said and maybe i’m getting an ear for it.  maybe that’s a better prayer.

“lord, make me able to understand what is a truly beautiful place.”

Posted in beauty, family, good life, hidden life, prayer | Leave a comment

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here i am to worship, here i am to bow down

princess

i smell her hair.

strawberry shortcake.

thin arms and legs with a head too large for any human body.

i inhale and wish for the scented air i remember from the doll of my youth.  i would have taped that doll to my face like i once tried to tape mazzy’s pacifier to her head when i was a brand new mom, callous and selfish.

queen

i am holding her close right now and my nose is at the top of her head.  my real girl, my flesh and blood girl, her hair is red, too.  but not the bright pink of strawberry dolls.  it’s brown with lights high in it of red.

she is falling asleep and I am wondering what is wrong today.

i’ve become used to people staring.  i don’t care most of the time and when i start to, i hum under my breath.  i don’t know which song it was today, jingle bells or the superman theme.  the mindless music gives me courage.  it makes their wondering stares less real, more like a movie.

i don’t look them in the eye; i barely look at my husband as he carries her out of the building and off the premises.  i steal one glance before they are gone.  there she is, still fighting, still crying.  she is hitting him and i have her glasses in my hand.

little wire frames.

my daughter.

devan's street

people like to call people with down syndrome angels and that may very well be because people with down syndrome have said fuck it a long, long time ago.

maybe when they were five or maybe six, they tried for the ten millionth time to state their opinion and no one, not even dear sweet mom, could comprehend them.

again.

so right then and there it was decided.

fuck.  it.

five years of trying to be understood is quite enough, thank you.  and we admire them because we are unable to say that to this world.  we think it divine to not give a flying fuck.

people with disabilities suffer long with us.  and with a much better attitude.

i try to understand it, but who can translate the ocean?  i don’t know how to turn salt water into fresh.

mazzy

here we lay now after another tiny fiasco.  she’s asleep already and breathing deep, breath catching at the back of her throat.  she’s curled up next to me like she was curled up inside of me twelve years ago.

the girl that i’ll never completely reach.  a simple page of a life.  this complex heart behind the scar cut down the middle of her chest when she was four months new.  my oldest child, a weak thing shaming the wise.

“do you think abe gets left behind with all of mazzy’s needs and eleanor’s needs?”

my son?  the one shouting from the rooftops that he doesn’t get enough attention?  whatever makes you say such a thing?

of course.  yes.  mmm hmm.  yeppers.  just like me and her dad and the cat and every single other person on the radar of our lives.  yes sir.  mazzy’s needs and the needs of a five year old really don’t bode well for feeling affirmed day in and day out.  and guess what?

there’s not a thing to be done.

lovely life

there’s a lot of life that is more than we wanted.  we live on the fringe edges of life as we understand it and life as it is.  it’s the truth tellers that let go of the threads of that magic carpet of a wanted life, they just let it go.

i can’t change disability.  i don’t know what you can’t change.  maybe you married what you can’t change.  maybe what you can’t change just up and died when they were needed like air is needed.  maybe what you can’t change is you.

three

jesus is the stone placed in zion.

and i should like to take a sledgehammer to his girth and his strength.  i would spend my life and perhaps, i do.  i try with all my will to reduce him from what he is.

i suppose i will continue this way until i die.

i will be in mid swing to pummel the one that will not diminish and my heart will stop and i will fall onto the piles of bodies around this cornerstone.  and he will pry the hammer from my dead hands and lead me into life everlasting.

that’s what he does.

that’s what it means to follow jesus.

he is the greatest thing that we can’t change.  all these smaller true things that we are powerless to alter, they point us here.  back to the biggest truth we can’t change.

the things we can’t change are the most important parts of our living.

i lay my head back on the pillow and breathe the existence of her in deep.  if you can’t beat them, join them.

maybe that’s the other part of following jesus.  if you can’t beat him, join him.


repost from the archives

Posted in disability, jesus, mazzy, mothering | 18 Comments

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hand me that baby!

gloria

christmas was as close as i came to jesus as a child.

i wasn’t told the story.  there wasn’t a countdown to the manger in my house.  i didn’t hear about the blessed virgin turned away at the inn ad nauseum.

instead my brother and i helped my mom assemble the christmas tree in the living room. the branches with red tape in this pile and the branches with blue in that one.  she’d plug in the lights to make sure they were all working and the christmas spirit was electricity in the air around us.

looksee

we would pile in the car and there’d be christmas carols on the radio and piles of presents under the tree.  my father’s mother – her eyes would glow when we arrived for all the love and surprise she had waiting for those she loved so well.

the drama of my christmas wasn’t a baby born to save the world – it was better.

it was beating hearts that longed to hold you on a cold winter night.  it was the kindness found under a fake tree and a fake santa arriving late with a fifth tucked in his bag along with the presents for the kids.  a holy night a wholly other sort.

it was flesh and blood.

familyrealbaby

and so when i did hear the old, old story – the good news of christmas and the baby born, it fit like a glove because i’d known great love that gives too much my whole life.

i’d grown up with flesh and blood that loved me better than i deserved.

so hand me that baby.

don’t keep a safe distance or cast him in untouchable alabaster this year.  babies need to be held close and feel your beating heart.  i will hold jesus and i will love well and i will celebrate just like my family showed me how in detroit back when i was a little girl.

Posted in childhood, christmas, detroit, family, love, savior | 4 Comments

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