Vulnerable Post

Today I was keenly aware of the scene from Julie and Julia where Julie comes home from a bad day at work and says that even though she’s had a bad day she knows if eggs and flour and chocolate are whisked together you will get a decadent dessert.

My life has been that way as of late. Potholes have met me every other day just when I thought the path was paved ahead. This is not a sob story, but rather a time when I am trying to cling to what I know, which is that if I string words together, it might make a little more sense to me. And I like to share, my heart and my food. Instead of chocolate cake tonight it was cilantro, mint, and shredded carrots. It was ground lamb in my cast iron pan and a quick round of cous cous. It was lemon, shallots, and Mediterranean olives. And I looked like Golem eating it in the corner of our living room by myself. It was missing something though. So I took it back to the kitchen and threw in my favorite spice: cumin. Ah yes, that was it, and I longed to find the “cumin” to fill in the potholes of this New Year.

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Not So Happily Ever After

Not so happily ever after as Indian divorce rate doubles

By Mark Dummett BBC News, Delhi
Indian models display bridal wear during a bridal make-up workshop in Amritsar, August 2010 Most of those splitting up are members of the thriving, urban middle class

It is wedding season in India, the time of year when astrologers say the omens are best for a long and successful marriage.

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The wrong foot, is the right one

My life is starting to feel a bit Bridget Jones'-ish.  Not in the sense that I plan on running down the street in my underwear any time soon.  Rather, this past week has been a time of expecting one thing and getting another.  Seems a tad appropriate considering New Years, a time of expectations, is upon us all.  I'm already having to release them, my expectations that is. I'm struck by the sentiment in Bridget Jones: "I like you... just as you are."  But I'm not speaking of a partner, but of my kitchen.

For the past two and a half years, Nate and I have completely remodeled an almost 100 year home that was in poor condition.  The old owners couldn't keep up with marathon (or triathlon) of cracking plaster, roof leaks, galvanized pipes, and tired wood cabinets.  We thought it would be cosmetic, but a kitchen remodel, new pipes, lights, and flooring later... just to give you a glimpse, has left us proud, but also tired at times of the wiles of a home that has lived through more wars with itself and the country than I care to mention. 

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Late Night Confession

I know how to be assertive in business; I don't know how to be responsive (not initiate) in relationships :(

It started off as a tweet. In my quiet time my thoughts grew louder until it made its way onto the page.

Here is my late night confession...

I can't ruin it and it's not [already] too late. Jesus please forgive me for thinking that You're not above or bigger than me and my problems. Seriously ridiculous.

The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and he lifts those bent beanth their loads. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does, he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him, he hears their cries for help and rescues them (Psalm 145:13-14, 16-19, NLT).

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With-ness: An Advent Reading

This past weekend, I was invited to partake in the advent activities at our church.  Every week for the past month, someone has shared a reading while other participants light one of the advent candles.  Our themes over the past few weeks have been time, openness, untamed and for this last week: with.

Here is the reading:

“I am waiting in a silent prayer. I am frightened by the load I bear. In a world cold as stone, must I walk this path alone? Be with me now. Be with me now.  Breathe of Heaven.”  Mary’s words sung by Amy Grant, are haunting in this advent season.

She didn’t ask to have this load taken off of her.  She didn’t pray for God to change the plan – she told the messenger angel: “May it be as you have said.”  In that instant the expectations of her life forever changed.

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Musings on Dating

So one thing I’ve shied away from discussing on this blog are my experiences with dating.  When I was going through my separation from my wife, I made a conscious effort to not  date, or even really allow myself to consider who I would date if the opportunity arose.  My heart was on saving my marriage, and dating would just complicate things more.  Even when it was clear we weren’t going to reconcile, I refrained from dating.  To finalize our divorce, we had to sign paperwork and then wait for 6 months.  I used that 6 month period as a transition - praying honestly for a marriage revival miracle, but also preparing my heart for a transition back into the life of a single man back in the dating world.  


I’ve got to tell you - it was scary.  I was never much of a dater in high school.

The Immeasurable Worth of a Mom : Discovered in 52 Hours

In the words of Jane Austen – or should I say Mr. Darcy -

I have to tell you Bridget: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.  

52 hours.  Start to finish – 52 hours.  I have been married almost 13 years, am 35 years old, have a seven year old daughter in first grade and a three year old son in preschool and in just 52 hours – I have realized how honestly poor my appreciation and understanding of motherhood – good motherhood – really was.  And Bridget, the mother of my children – is really good at motherhood. 

The thing is, I knew that 52 hours ago. I knew she was amazing on so many personal, spiritual, longsuffering, and gut rending levels.  But as to her mothering – I knew it at a Hallmark card cliché sort of level - a Focus on the Family 300 hundredth show on mothers for mothers about mothering level. Not the same thing as trying her pants on (you know what I mean) and walking around in them for 52 hours. 

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Negotiating with the Excessive In-Laws at Christmas

My kids have excessive grandparents.  And aunts.  There, I said it.  

I know I am not alone.  It seemed like this was a huge conversation amongst my friends last year, as many of us were taking part in the Advent Consiracy and not wanting our new outlook on Christmas to be thwarted by twenty plastic toys from grandparents on Christmas morning.  I had some friends who were really upset that their parents or in-laws were reluctant to jump on the "minimal gifts" bandwagon.  A toned-down Christmas, in terms of gifts, was a tension point for many families, including my own.

As a family therapist, I gave a lot of thought to this dilemma.  More recently, I had someone ask for my advice directly.   This was my answer:

We've had a similar conflict with the consumerism of the season (and all it represents) so I really understand the conflict.  The difficulty is that your parents and in-laws may not share your same vision. As excessive as they may seem and as passionate as you probably feel, setting limitations or rules for how family members celebrate the holidays can be problematic.

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I’ve been intrigued by light lately.

The kind that bridges black to dim,

and dim to dawn.

Decorating the heights

and beckoning life from that which is deep,

Awakening horizons and arising heat.

I’ve been intrigued by lightly lately

As in the flame of a candle,

The fierceness of its glory,

The passion of its shadow,

The fragility of its strength.

I’ve been intrigued by light lately and God being called, “the Father of lights, with whom there is no

variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

Talking about Girls with my Son

Recently, my son and I were driving home from my office (actually I was driving and he doesn't work with me; I forgot my phone charger) and we began a conversation about girls. No, not that kind of conversation, hopefully we're several years from THAT conversation, but on this day, my son actually started asking me about the girl he was listening to.

"Daddy, I really like this song, who is it?" 

The song was by Regina Spektor and so he asked if I knew her, to which I replied, no--she's a Russian born singer, who came to the U.S. when she was a little bit older than you. This fascinated him, so I continued. She took piano lessons for a long time and God gave her this amazing voice and now lots of people listen to her. Do you want to take piano lessons?

"No, but can I listen to another song like this one?"

Immediately, I am both excited that my son digs my cd collection, but a bit frazzled as I am playing a compilation and it's the only Regina Spektor song I have on this cd. I don't even pause to be dismayed at his absolute disinterest in music lessons, which upon further reflection stings a bit. So, I click the track over to Ingrid Michaelson. What do you think of this?

"Daddy, this lady can really sing too. I didn't know you liked all these girls.Does mommy know you like these girls?"

Yes, mommy knows, but mommy doesn't care. Mommy only listens to modern worship music and is a walking version of the Hallmark Channel. I have played mommy all these girls and they never seem to register. Finally, someone in our family gets it. Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor have these haunting voices and outside of trying to make a construction site in Manhattan sound more peaceful, they can do little wrong in terms of getting a lyric stuck in your head. Does mommy know about these girls? Ha! You are talking about these girls, right buddy? You are referring to the women in the cd player, right? I am now insecure, so I ask what he means.

"Yes. They sound pretty and mommy might like them," he says in a way that comforts me and excites me again. But, mommy doesn't like them. And I tell my son, that mommy doesn't like them. He is silent. So, I click over to the Smiths on the cd. He says nothing during the whole song. This happens a lot when our whole family is in the car and I play the Smiths. I am still not sure why this happens.

But when Sarah McLachlan comes on, he once again reiterates his support.

"Mommy should listen to this woman too; I like this song."

But, mommy doesn't like this one either. She likes Darlene what's her face and Hillsong and K-Love radio and a host of others I don't really listen to. And in my mind, I am wondering why there is such a thing as listener supported K-Love when I can hardly find the Smiths or R.E.M. or the Editors or Franz Ferdinand on the radio anywhere on planet earth. Satellite radio can't even pick up what I listen to. So, I think Sarah McLachlan and Ingrid Michaelson is pretty mainstream and again, those haunting voices. Even my son hears the beauty in those haunting voices, how can my own wife miss it! And it's at this point in my mind that I will refrain from going any further, because to explain fully why mommy listens to K-Love and why daddy is belting out "all these buildings and mountains...." by the Republic Tigers, will be approaching the fringe of THAT conversation and he's too young for that now. Besides, this is our bonding moment and for this one ride home, we're both smiling while Beth Orton finishes her chorus. Maybe there is such a thing as world peace.

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