Unrealized Gains

The other day, one of my daughters complained to my husband that she’s so tired of everyone always asking her if something is wrong.

Yep. She’s my daughter.

I don’t know what to do about us. It seems nothing is ever good enough. On the one hand, I am quiet and hard to read. On the other, I’ve been told that I wear my emotions all over my face more than anyone. On the one hand, I have many interests and try my darndest to pursue them wholeheartedly. On the other, any time I do anything that people think is worthwhile, they all try to pressure me to do more of that thing, rather than just appreciate the thing for what it is. More, more, more. I just seem to never be enough.

It is true that I didn’t finish my post high school education. And I’ve never really honed any one skill. And dang it, while I have all these ideas floating around up there all the time, I never really get to a good two thirds of them. And trying to articulate them to anyone else? Fat chance. And don’t even get me started on how many ways I’ve been a less than ideal mother/wife/friend/employee. Sho ’nuff.

It’s never enough. It really never is.

Which is why I’ve been letting the less, less, less of Lent penetrate deeper than ever before this year. As I prepare for our Maundy Thursday service tonight, I am more aware of my emptiness and I am more shaken by what I know is coming. The betrayal, the stripping bare of the beautiful altar, the crying out of the choir, the lights going out, the door slamming. And all will be black for three days.

I feel like it’s my heart that’s been stripped bare.

Waiting for the more, more, more.

Fifteen Minute Break

I sit at my desk and I allow myself to take it all in.

For fifteen minutes.

I see the framed picture of three girls on the first day of school next to my computer screen. I see the blue, cloudless sky, made extra bright by the violent thunderstorms that ripped through last night at midnight. I see a city carpeted in the deep, brilliant green of spring and I am thankful for my perspective of being seventeen floors up. I see piles and piles of green and white envelopes, waiting for tax forms to be inserted into them. I see my little, old cell phone, framed in deep, metallic blue. Sometimes it vibrates when my people want to talk to me. I love those people. I see those people in my mind.

I hear Ray Lamontagne singing to me as loud as I dare allow him to sing. Only I can hear him; he is all mine. I hear people on phones, some yelling about crazy, entertaining things, some talking in civilized tones about civilized things. I hear the voices in my head joining along with the crazies. I hear the hum of my space heater under my desk, warming my bare toes and making me happy. I hear my phone vibrate when Carlee texts me one more Hermosillo memory.

I smell the ink from the copy machine next to me as it spits out warm, newly-printed-upon paper. I hold it up for a moment to drink in the deep, rich smell before it evaporates into nothingness. I smell my lotion as I slather it on my thirsty hands. I smell the UPS man when he delivers a package. I think he forgot to put deodorant on this morning.

I feel the nerves on the back of my legs telling me I’ve been sitting in this chair for too long. I feel the straps on my new sandals cutting into my feet. I feel the need for coffee as I have every moment of every one of these 32 days of Lent. I feel like I just might make it eight more days. I feel the need for a savior as I have every one of these 38 years of my life. I feel very, very thankful for Easter and am looking forward to it this year more than ever.

I never got that fifteen minute break. I never usually do. That’s okay though. It means that I’ve been able to revisit my senses for little moments here and there over these last two hours. And now it’s time for lunch where I will taste mustard glazed pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, broccoli and water with some kind of powdered substance in it. But not salad.

Today, I shall not taste salad.

Somebody Loves You

This has been quite a week for my family. Both of my grandpas, in two different parts of the country, were hospitalized. Both of my grandpas that I hardly ever get to see anymore. One lives in Oregon, one in Illinois. And how I love them both. As we were praying for my Oregon grandpa, my Illinois grandpa was making a trip down here to Texas with my grandma for a music festival. As soon as they arrived, they knew they needed to go to the hospital. He was having a heart attack. After the initial scare was over and we knew he was going to be okay, we decided to go ahead with the music day at my mom and dad’s that had been planned for so long. Many musicians came and boy, was there music.

My grandma gave a little welcome speech to kick off the day

My mama made a whole huge pile of chimichangas

And we were off. Nothing like a little hamboning and barefoot clogging to start us off

Then Callie sang “One Moment More”

It was a tender moment


And Sadie followed up with “I’ll Stand By You,” which we hadn’t heard her sing since she was ten. Boy did she sing it.

Gracie-Face held down the stairs with her three cousins

And the music just kept on going






Kirsty was even here from England so of course, we did a little something

And my grandpa’s twin brothers were here from Kentucky, so they tried to make us all cry too


But there was lots of smiling too




We even got a rare teeth-smile from Sadie





Sadie, Shelby and Callie did “Down in the River to Pray,” with Lyles using his voice as bass

It was a full and wonderful day

There was only one person missing

So we went to see him today after church.

I’m telling you, we know how to laugh in hospital rooms





Then we got permission from the nursing staff to bring my grandpa’s guitar and amp up from the car. They took the oxygen monitor off his finger so he could sit in a chair and pick his guitar and they adjusted all the wires so they wouldn’t beep while he played. They left the door to his room open so the rest of the floor he was on could enjoy his music.


He sat there, in his hospital gown, and he played and he sang. Somewhere on an old cassette tape, we have a recording of my grandpa live at the Opry on the night of my 4th birthday. We have his voice, crackly over the am radio, dedicating the next song he was going to sing to his little granddaughter, Leslie. I can’t find a recording of that song anywhere right now, but the words go like this:

Somebody loves you each hour of the day
When you’re around dear or when you’re away
Somebody loves you sweetheart can’t you see
And that somebody is me

And here’s what it sounded like in that hospital room today:







We can sure cry in hospital rooms too

And here I am with my Oregon grandpa last summer:

O God, support us all the day long,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.

Then in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,
and a holy rest,
and peace at the last,
through Jesus Christ our Savior.