open letter to my son on his second birthday.

Dear Dax, 

A year ago, you woke up completely unaware of what was awaiting you — a house filled with family and friends who traveled near and far just to fawn all over newly-one-year-old you. 

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You managed to conquer over-stimulation, a late nap, and even melted cupcakes (baked from scratch by your culinary-inept mother) to have a pretty awesome day. 

daxbdaycake

 

And just like that, your second year of life started, and today, almost as quickly as it got here, it ended. It is your second birthday! You’ve been bumbling around on this planet for two whole years! It doesn’t seem very long to you, but I can barely remember life without you. Of course, purely biologically speaking, half of you actually was inside my body ever since the day I was born so really, you HAVE been here with me all this time.

Not even a month after your first birthday your dad and I had the biggest scare of our lives as your parents when you suffered a febrile seizure. Thankfully, I’m sure you don’t remember The Worst Tuesday but I’ll never forget it. The image of you seizing in my arms will never leave my memory and each and every day I am so unbelievably grateful that it was a relatively minor issue. And ever since that day, we know that if you ever have a fever we need to be diligent in treating it so we avoid a recurrence. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn this year, for sure. 

seizure

A late bloomer like your mama, you didn’t walk until you were 15 months old. Part of that is my fault, I guess, for this reason: I knew that once you started walking, there was no turning back. With the knowledge of this skill, you’d go from “baby” to “toddler” and, just like that, you’d be off. And so I did my best to keep you in my arms as much as possible to delay that monumental milestone, but I could only do so for so long. Now, those fears I had have been realized. You are no longer my baby. You are my very independent toddler who prefers walking (running) to being pushed in a stroller, carried, or worn thankyouverymuch. 

walking2

walking1

And while it is a bit sad for me to say goodbye to those precious baby months, it has been so fun to see you explore this world on your own. Like in the above picture, for example: you can just barely see a bandage over your left eye, which shows how brave and adventurous you’ve become since learning how to walk. You’re still your mostly-cautious and analytical self, but sometimes you can get a bit excited and accidents happen. I deeply cherish those times you let me hold your hand as we carefully take it all on together.

flannel

 

lookinup

 

You had your second Christmas this year but since you weren’t eating solid food the year before, you finally got to participate in your family’s tradition of eating waffles on Christmas morning. You seemed to like them a little bit and I, because I’m an emotional time bomb, cried.

christmaswaffles

At your 18-month checkup, the doctors had me fill out a form answering questions about your verbal abilities, social skills, and motor skills. I was so proud when the doctor told me that you scored above average in all those areas! I mean, your father and I know how smart you are. But having a doctor affirm it resulted in some serious high fives.

You’re so smart, Dax. So stinkin’ smart. 

precious

When you turned one, you could only say a few words — “dada”, “nana”, and “mama”. But now, with your first birthday far behind you, you can say so many things; from types of food, to manners (“peez” for “please” and “deeyew!” for “thank you!”), to all your letters and numbers (though, to be fair, “W” is still hard to say and you still believe that 6 is actually 9 but we’re working on it), to our friends’ names (Grandma is “G-G”, Molly is “Mayee”, Casey is “Zee”, and Savannah is “Nuh” just to name a few), to places and things, your vocabulary is growing each and every day!

dax1

You also say “no” a lot which, I’m told, is to be expected at your age. It can be cute sometimes but it also gives me heaps of opportunities to refine my patience. And let me just use this letter to tell you thanks for that. Even in frustration, my sweet boy, you are making me a better person everyday. 

grumpasaur

So, I have to confess something: The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should not watch any television before the age of two. 

I’m sorry to inform you now that your father and I didn’t meet that timeline. You watch TV everyday. Sometimes pretty close to your face. Sorry.

wiiu

Your favorite shows are currently, “Curious George,” “Super WHY!”, “Dinosaur Train”, and basically anything else on PBS. While I guess we kind of failed as parents in this regard, I’ll say that it has been so fun to see you fall in love with these characters. I’m pretty sure you have a crush on Princess Pea, which is a great choice but I hate to break it to you now that royalty rarely ever marry commoners unless you’re smokin’ hot like Kate Middleton. Not that you aren’t incredibly handsome. I’m just here to help you manage expectations.

bowtie

Even though you look a lot like I did when I was your age (minus your bow ties) there is one way in which you are distinctly your father’s child: your love of sleep (or “ni-ni”, as we call it). While you’re down to only one nap a day, that one nap usually lasts about four hours and you usually (bad dreams notwithstanding) sleep through the night until about 8:00 AM. I gotta tell you — you’ve set the bar pretty high for any future siblings. I’m certain we won’t be blessed with a great sleeper like you twice in a row. Please never ever ever doubt my gratitude for this trait you’ve inherited.

sleep

Nap time 6 months and 23 months

While there seems to be a million things that have changed since the day you were born, there are still some things that are the same. Your pacifier is the biggest one. You are very attached to that thing. Even more than you used to be, I think, because now you prefer to have not one, but at least two of them with you in your crib. Sometimes three. I’ve capitalized on this by teaching you how to count them. You excitedly shout, “TWO!” when you have one for each hand and it’s obvious that you’re very proud of yourself. 

You also still nurse a couple times a day. Some days I feel like you’re just about weaned, but you’ll surprise me by jumping on my lap and asking for milk. As much as I wish I was ready to be done, I’m not. So I don’t push it. Mostly because it usually results in some pretty great snuggles.

snuggle1

snuggle2

This year you have taught me more about myself than any class, life experience, or book could teach me. Not only are you in your “terrible twos” and thus teaching me the true meaning of grace and forgiveness and patience, but you’re also teaching me so much about love and trust. Without even realizing it, Dax, you are teaching me each and every day what it means to be your biggest supporter and also your gentlest corrector. You’re teaching me that mistakes don’t equal failure and that failure doesn’t equal being unloved. You’re teaching me that not only is it okay to not be perfect, but it is preferred. Messy is best because messy is real. 

Today you are two and that’s truer than true. There is no one around who is two-er than you. 

I love you, Bubs. Happy birthday!

Love, 

Mama.

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Filed under life, motherhood, personal, Uncategorized

enjoy the song you’re currently listening to.

I’ve started running seriously again and, as I’ve said before, what you listen to on your run is totally half the battle. (It’s possibly even more than half but LET’S BE HONEST, I’m even more terrible at math than I am at running so let’s just move on.)

My run this morning was particularly laborious. Not only is is already full-blown summer here, so the 90-degree-already-and-rising heat was mercilessly beating down on me like a fiery fist, browning up my arms with a quickness, but the wind was also crashing against me (and poor Dax in the jogging stroller) with full force which made it feel like I was trying to run through a wall.

So naturally every bone, cell, and fiber of my being was calling out to me, “Why are we doing this? This really sucks. Please stop doing this. Please go back home and put us back on the couch so we can die in the comfort of our own home.”

And I really wanted to.

Then a really silly song came on my running playlist and I made a genuine effort to move my attention to the song from the pain in my body and just enjoy the music. And it worked.

Then the next song came on just as my body started to scream more furiously at me. And I focused on THAT song and pushed through.

And that was my mantra for the rest of the run. Just try and enjoy each song, each as its own little piece of art, from beginning to end. Keep the legs moving, keep the breath going, and just enjoy the song. And you know what? I didn’t die. I finished the run and perspired a good gallon of sweat then took a shower and I felt great. And now I’m blogging. BLOGGING! Like I’m supposed to!

Not to be a total downer, but I think it’s safe to say that when we walk through this life, pain is inevitable. Disappointment is pretty much par for the course. People are going to let us down, our jobs are going to get frustrating, our families are going to be strained, and some of our relationships are going break apart. And all of that sucks. Just like when I’m running and hate it, my M.O. when life gets rough is to shut out the world and ball up on the couch and die a little bit.

But by doing so, I miss out on the “songs” I’m currently listening to, or the art surrounding me: my son’s laugh, the blue sky, the grass between my toes, good food (particularly PASTA!), and so on.

If we shift our focus from our obvious and inevitable hurts to the hidden art around us, we can get through each day. We can finish this hard run, one song at a time, and be better for it.

What “songs” are you listening to currently? What “art” can you appreciate today?

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the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

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a christian’s open apology to gay people.

Dear gay people,

Yesterday World Vision, a Christian organization that sponsors needy and hungry children all around the world, announced that they were lifting a ban they’d previously had in place on hiring people who were married to/in love with someone of the same sex. And I, a Christian, was elated.

“Oh, this is going to be huge!” I told my youth pastor husband when I got home from work. “Finally, we’re turning a corner!”

When I went to bed last night, I thanked God for this public proclamation and I also thanked him for making you, each and every one of you, just the way you are. And I thanked him because in that moment, I felt like you might actually know that you are really loved by Jesus. Because you are

This morning my son woke me up at 5:30 (he’d had a bad dream, I think) and after I snuggled him back to sleep I found myself having a hard time drifting back myself. So I mindlessly checked my Twitter feed, hoping the methodical scrolling through tweets would make my eyes heavy enough.

What a huge mistake.

I tumbled down a black hole of tweets from fundamentalist Christians and Christian organizations who were withdrawing their support from World Vision. Unfortunately, it seems that these people/organizations hold doctrine over love and serving the poor. And I got angry. And very awake.

I tossed and turned in my bed, fighting the anger, and then thought there was only one way to go about this. So I got out of bed and opened my laptop just to say one thing:

Gay people, on behalf of all Christians everywhere (including the ones who treat you this way) I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’re consistently battling against a group of people whose entire platform is love. I’m sorry that you are made to feel like you’re broken by a group of people who are called to lay their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. I’m sorry that you’re made to feel like the “least of these” by a group of people who are called to serve and love the least of these and who also somehow ignore that call when it refers to you. I’m sorry that you’ve been told that your marriage is any less God-honoring than a heterosexual one, even if that heterosexual marriage ends in divorce.

Please know that you’re not alone, gay people. While I’m not gay and have never had to endure the pain you have endured from Christians, I’ve been hurt by them, too. And I grew up in the church!

When I was nine years old (a baby!) I was brought into a meeting with the children’s director and the lead pastor of the church I was attending. They sobbed as they told me that I was too outspoken and too loud and that, “God didn’t like that.” Being an opinionated kid without a shy bone in my body, I furrowed my brow.

“But didn’t he make me this way? And doesn’t he love me? Why would he make me be a certain way if he didn’t like it?”

They didn’t have an answer for me.

This was the first of many encounters like this; I’ve always had Christians wag their fingers at me for the way I talk, behave, or think. And as a Christian, sure, I believe that God does call me to be one of his priests. I do believe that he calls me to a higher standard of living. But he also calls me to be an ambassador for Christ, the one who dined with sinners and threw parties with tax collectors. And above all else, he calls me to love him and love his people. (Mark 12:30-31)

People have told me that I have a low view of scripture because of my love and affection for gay people. Maybe I do. But if loving others regardless of their sexual identity (and, you know, also occasionally sporting a polyester cotton blend) means I have a low view of scripture, then fine. I’ll concede that argument.

One last thing, gay people: if it makes you feel any better, my marriage isn’t any more biblical than yours. Sure, I may be a woman who is married to a man, but last I checked, my husband isn’t splitting his time between four other wives and 700 concubines. So fret not. You and your “unbiblical marriage” are in good company.

I love you. Each and every one of you. And Jesus does, too.

And once more, I’m so very sorry. Please forgive us/them. We know not what we do. (Someone said that once.)

Love,

Lindsay

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can you hear you? we can.

This post has been swirling around in my spirit for the better part of six (!!!) months, but I haven’t really had the real words for it until now. (Actually, even now, I’m not entirely sure I have all the right words. But what I am sure of is that there is becoming increasingly less room in my brain for unimportant things like blog posts so I’ve got to get out whatever loose scraps I can to make room for all those important 90s song lyrics I can’t seem to forget.)

I have this friend whom I dearly adore. She happens to be strikingly beautiful, dangerously talented, wickedly smart, and hilarious. I want to tell you so many other things about her, including her name, but I can’t do that because I’m pretty sure she reads my blog and if she knew I was publicly affirming her in such a way I bet money she would very likely turn fifty shades of burgundy and demand that I remove the post immediately.

And this post is way too important to me for her to do that. So let’s just call this amazing girl Kay.

The thing about Kay is that no matter who you ask — whether they’ve known her for five minutes or her entire life — they’ll all say the same things I just did: that she’s a walking phenom; a force to be reckoned with; someone that transforms the earth from merely a revolving sphere of dusty rock to a beautiful, magical work of art. I’d venture to say that anyone you ask wouldn’t be able to find one, single bad thing to say about Kay.

But here’s the thing: none of us have to say anything bad about her because she says all the bad things about herself.

If you compliment her, she will deflect it. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s worthless. Or ugly. Or something equally wrong.

And it hurts my heart so very badly, not because all those things are untrue, but because to her, they are. 

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to exactly ZERO people when I say this, but Dead Poets Society is one of my all-time favorite movies that I don’t own (DAN WHY DON’T I OWN THIS MOVIE?!?!). One of my favorite quotes from the film comes from the character of John Keating, played by Robin Williams:

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

Whether you believe it or not, words have power. They have the power to build us up and they have the power to break us down, either in one fell swoop or in tiny bits and pieces, methodically chipped away over a period of years. And as loud as the words other people say to you can be, the words that come out of your own mouth — bubbling over from whatever is in your heart – are, strictly from a physical standpoint, the loudest ones. 

shh

The season of Lent began yesterday and, as you all know, I love to fast things for Lent — my hair straightener, all liquids except water, fried foods, the list goes on and on. But this year, I chose to fast something less tangible.

Words. 

Not cuss words, mind you. But certain words that I can’t write here on this blog. Words that, when strung together in lengthy, negative diatribes, damage my spirit. Words that break me down bit by bit. Words that change my world but not for the better. Words that, when flying out of my mouth, are the loudest in my own ears.

I hate hearing all the things Kay says about herself. It is heartbreaking and infuriating. But even more than that, I hate that she hears them. Because in this screwed up world, there are enough people who can say crappy things about ourselves. Why must we give them fuel for their fire?

I can hear you, Kay. Can you? Can you hear you? If so, could you stop talking about yourself for one minute and let me talk about you? And let me talk about how you know how to make anyone laugh. Let me talk about how you sing so beautifully it gives my goosebumps goosebumps. And let me talk about how you’re so stinking smart and capable and can do literally whatever you set your mind to.

I can hear me. Can you?

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Filed under personal, transformation

YOU RUNNIN?

Over the past five(ish) years, I’ve gotten into a pretty complicated relationship.

No, not with Dan. That relationship is great and fine!

I’m talking about my relationship with running.

A few years ago, Running and I were, like, inseparable. Things got pretty serious when I did a half-marathon in February of 2011, but they tapered off when I tore my ACL later that year and then (while in recovery) got pregnant. (Hey, at least I was getting SOME exercise! HEYOOO. Sorry, Mom.)

I never thought Running would ever come back to me. I thought that, once my ACL was torn and that my kid was born, taking away every tiny ounce of energy I have in me, Running was “just someone that I used to know.”

But turns out Running is pretty forgiving and we’ve been seeing each other again lately. And I gotta say, it’s almost like things never changed.

(Well, except that my right knee kind of pops every other stride now but HEY it still works, so…)

Anytime I pass another runner on one of my runs, I always think the same thing:

“WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO ON YOUR iPOD?! IS IT MUSIC? AN AUDIOBOOK? A THIS AMERICAN LIFE PODCAST?!?!?!”

Running is, like 99% mental, 1% physical, so a killer running playlist is essential. You can’t just put your iPod on shuffle and just hope for the best because you know the second you do that, your iPod will retaliate by ONLY playing every slow, boring ballad in your library and you’ll give up and go home and check on Kathie Lee and Hoda.

Seriously it takes everything in me to not stop other runners and demand they tell me what’s on their running playlist because IT’S THAT IMPORTANT.

So, in the event that you think that about me, let me erase all inquiry:

SONGS LINDSAY RUNS TO:

  1. “Rise Up” – David Crowder Band. There is no better, GET UP AND KICK BUTT song than this one.
  2. “Rumour Has It” – Adele. Makes me want to run to my most recent ex’s house and punch him square in the jaw.
  3. “Miss Murder” – AFI. Because angst.
  4. “Dance Inside” – All American Rejects. Perfect lyrics for the point in your run where you are starting to feel like garbage. “I’ll be fine/I’ll be fine/Is this fine?/I’m not fine!”
  5. “Say This Sooner” – The Almost. Skank-tastic!
  6. “What The Hell” – Avril Lavigne. CONFESSION: I could just put this one song on repeat and it would be enough to get me to run/dance anywhere. It’s infectious.
  7. “Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys. I mean? Duh.
  8. “Lazy Sunday” – Chris Parnell & Andy Samberg. For two reasons: it’s hilarious, and they rap about cupcakes, which I don’t feel guilty craving once I’m finished running.
  9. “So Serious” – Electric Light Orchestra. I picked this song for no other reason than it reminds me of my husband who is, hands down, the funniest person on the planet to me and I just can’t help but smile when I hear it.
  10. “Robots” – Flight of the Conchords. Ditto to the above.
  11. “Shelter” – Jars of Clay. A favorite that will never get old, perfect for a cool down.

What’s on your running playlist? Please just comment and tell me so I don’t have to maul you the next time I see you out for a jog.

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some stuff i wrote.

Last weekend, a good friend of mine let me know that there was a free writing workshop being offered by an author who was in town to speak at a church. As you can tell from my dusty blog (hello cobwebs) my spirit hasn’t exactly been… um… pleasant enough for blogging…

Oh well — if you can’t be honest on the Internet, where can you? 

I’ve been in a major life funk lately.

There I said it.

And I hate blogging when I’m in a funk because it makes me re-feel all my funky feelings and, because I write on the Internet, it subjects all of you lovely people to my funk, too.

It must have been providential, then, that this workshop was titled, Open-heart Writing; like open-heart surgery, it is painful but life-saving.

The author gave us three prompts (one at a time) and gave us ten minutes to jot something down (on PAPER! with PENS!) And, despite the time crunch and my inability to edit, I kinda liked the things I wrote. So I’m gonna share them with you, the Internet, in lieu of a funky-feely blog post.

Cool? Cool.

PROMPT 1: Describe the room.

The room is golden, both in color and in ambiance. It doesn’t sparkle though, fighting a looming tarnish. The windows pour in a summery stream of mid-February, south Florida morning, as I sit between a Diane and a woman whose name will always be to me, Also Talks WIth Her Hands.

Laura sits at the head of our mango-colored table, adorned with silver rings on her fingers and around her neck, and her crooked smile and quiet voice reminds me of Erica.

PROMPT 2: The most important room in my life. 

Converted

Walking along the maroon, cracked tiles, the soles of my shoes always stuck a little bit, presumably because there was residual barbecue sauce forever festering in the pores of the tiles. The smell has gone, but the look of the interior of Mickey Andrews’ Barbecue Joint (was that its name?) would always linger in the church corporate gathering area.

It was in this dark, awkwardly arranged ex-restaurant where I was reintroduced to a guy named Jesus Christ who, contrary to everything I’d ever been taught as a small, loud-mouthed girl, loved me so very much just the way I am.

Being a converted barbecue restaurant, the dining tables exchanged for handmade wooden cafe tables and broken stadium seats, it doesn’t really look like a church. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much.

There were no stained glass windows, only dingy double panes dressed in cheap, plastic blinds. There weren’t any bad, last supper themed murals. Instead there was a thick coat of dark red matte and framed artwork by members of the community. Instead of a chancel with an organ and handbells, there was a rickety, slapped-together collapsible stage precariously cradling a drum set and a few acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a homemade stool for the pastor to teach from.

PROMPT 3: Tell the story in this photo. 

1513273_10103941578941053_1881118843_n

 

The hot, sticky air disguised itself as that of mid to late May, but the calendar, turned to the twelfth month, called its bluff. Comforted by the shelter of a banyan canopy, sweating in long sleeves, you and I struggled to keep up with a smaller, more wild version of ourselves, who had just learned how to walk.

Stifled by both the south Florida winter’s heat and the reality that a toddler and a clock ticking seconds closer to nap time were a volatile combination, our appearance was remarkably pleasant. The perfect little trio, an enviable Christmas card, telling terrible lies to all its recipients.

“Things are beautiful and perfect here! We love our life! Cheese!” was what we said on the sandy path, our unruly boy trapped in the binding and protective embrace of a tired and frustrated father. Deep in our eyes, though, the truth was louder.

Sadness, loneliness, and betrayal leaked out of us onto the card as the cruel sun climbed higher behind the defenseless branches. But we are here, alive and robust in perspiration, together in a beautiful and clumsy dance of survival.

Like the Spanish moss to the stretching limbs, we are committed to growing and stretching upward, downward, and in spirals.

The end.

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