Friday, December 21, 2012

White Girl on the Move

I have moley skin, of which I have been acutely aware these past months, well,…years.  Moles are a real cancer hazard and since I have had the big C word once, I am diligently doing what I can to not have it again.  Like, going to the dermatologist and cutting moles out of my skin.  Good golly, YUCK!

This is the story of my skin.  My white, moley skin.  My mousey, blonde hair, (that I highlight twice a year).  My green eyes, (which are my unique-sake’s claim in a genetic sea baby blues).  And my Dutch thighs.  This is how I became a middle class, white girl living in Denver, CO, wearing a hat on my daily walks to manage risk factors.

Dad is from Montgomery, Alabama.  When he was a teenager he worked at a trailer weighing station off the highway where his creamy skinned tanned to low-milk latte and he burnt his lower lip to a crisp.  His pouter still is very vulnerable to blisters.

Mom is from Arizona.  Dry, hot heat is her love language.  She combined baby oil and a tar roof to help any lost UV sink in.  All the boys loved her.

They met at a Southern Baptist church in Phoenix that Mom’s parents attended.  Oma being from Arkansas and Sir, (my granddad’s ironically surly title), being from Dutch-reformed Iowa, they found their faith’s home in the Wild West.  So did Dad’s brother, who introduced the star-crossed lovers in Sunday School. 

Two weeks and several tennis matches later, they were secretly engaged.  One full ocean’s distance and a year later, they were married.  Several military, trans-Atlantic moves, and one, two, three, and four kids later, they were parents to a brood that had a patent on their nose. 

And when the second child grew up she left Virginia, to the call of the west, Colorado skies.  Wearing SPF 50 chapstick, for having re-created Dad’s teenage woe.  But this time it was on a ski slope.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Last Best Year: Grown Up Christmas Wish

I’m not quite sure what this rendition of my blog will be, except posts about my life with more openness on a not-so-journey to …Humanhood?  Somethinghood.  I also hope that it will include some posts from friends about life going unexpectedly: things showing up late…or early,  or on time but different than the norm.  Whether current, past, or vicarious.  Whether resolved, raw, pain-filled, or joyful.  So if you have something to post, email me at  I will be up front that I value two things in blog posts: honesty and brevity.  Anonymity is okay.   Profanity is fine, as long as it speaks to the amazing grace where Holy and human meet; humor is definitely included in that.  Consider submitting something.  This is my grown up Christmas wish.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Last Best Year: Step One, Two, and Three

Step One:  Get a new, impulsive haircut (which, inevitably will cause an emotional crisis).

Step Two: Go to an awesome dinner, with awesome people.
Step Three: Get an amazing birthday present from Dan the Man.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Last Best Year: Deeply Personal Very Public Information

Today I turn 34.  Ever since my health went haywire at 25, I have welcomed each birthday as a gift; thankful for more time to be with people and live more fully.  More time to give, love, and heal.  I have truly celebrated aging.

That is, until sometime in the last year or so.

Although I have not made a public announcement of our desire to have children, some things are apparent: we are in our mid-30s, happily married for 5+ years, financially stable, in good health, we welcome children in our home and lives…so…”Do you have kids?”  Family building is such a deeply personal affair, yet so very public.  The answer, plain-as-day, is no.  So maybe this isn’t an announcement after all. 

We have a deeply personal story here.  Complete with joy, pain, sex, surgery, giving, receiving, herbal teas, financial worries, love growing, sobbing, chromosomal testing, medical specialists, anger, you-name-it analysis, prayer, hope, travel, drama, applications, helplessness, empowerment, fixing, waiting, castor oil, dreaming, needles, resting, discipline, licentiousness, counseling, tinctures, test kits, and God, God, God.

Any western woman knows the line the medical community draws in the sand: 35.  Frankly, I think its BS for a jazillion reasons. Nonetheless, this damn statistical line is hovering in my peripheral vision…and this is me giving it the finger.  (See that?  That’s my middle finger).  And, mysteriously, less loudly, I want to give it a warm embrace all at the same time.

Happy 34th Birthday to me!
Here’s to being unashamedly, (but appropriately?), open in my 34th year. 
My Last Best Year. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Selling Out This Christmas

I had a boyfriend in high school that was into the straight edge, hard core scene.  It was there that I learned you could “sell out” to “mainstream” music.  It was cool to use this language.  While I get that there was an element of not “selling out” to big business, the comments were primarily reputation and socially driven.  We wanted to be unique and have our own little corner of coolness.  I laugh.  After all, we were in high school.

This morning I surfed the Internet with the “Occupy Christmas” lense and continue to be delighted with the growing number of companies and entrepreneurs that are launching fair-trade, artisan craft businesses and the like. 

At the same time I have been hearing social media and social circle murmurs of how it is now “trendy” to go this direction for the holidays…negatively-ish.  As if, now – crap – more people are getting intentional about their purchasing power…???...!!!  Lets just go ahead and put a big old BS sign on that bull.  It reminds me of high school.  Praise God for this social trend, that really does justice to our society.  Jump on the bandwagon, friends.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's the Other Option?

This morning I have been catching up on some of my favorite blogs.  Sometimes this is one of the most encouraging things I do all week.  Sometimes it is one of the most overwhelming.

I am especially drawn to blogs about those helping children in extreme poverty right now.  That is happening, ...right now.  And I am prayerful about how this longheld passion of mine is intersecting more and more closely with my personal life.

To look at the number of lives, projects and leaders in the sub-culture of engaging poverty is the overwhelming part.  It feels like a big sea.  A big, big sea.  The internet torments me.

And then I look at my own life: Project I See You in the Dominican Republic.  In La Victoria, in La Canita.  What is that compared to all this?  What are we doing???  Someone else should be doing this for sure.  Someone with a better website on the internet.

But as I quiet myself, I hear my friend's voice: "What's the other option?  The other option is to not go."    And that is what I know to do, right now.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Dan

Happy Birthday, Daniel Craig Wagner.  You are a good man, my favorite companion, and a heck-of-a dancer fun-time. xoxo. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

the good old days (aka - learning how to post blog photos)

 I have always had mature taste.  Maxing and relaxing, with Mickey and Sly.
Mersi and me bonding over conversation hearts. 

Beach Body Talk

Elly and I sat at the shallow end of the ocean where the waves break for the last time.  She had dug a hole when the tide was higher that had filled with water we sat in.

“Would you like to come to my spa?  Ellyanna’s Spa of Rest and Relaxation?"
 “Why of course, of COURSE.”
 “We will start with a sand and mud treatment..."

She spread soppy, goopy sand all over my bare legs.

“You have thighs like Nonnie’s,” contemplates aloud my sweet, soft bodied, 7-year old niece. 

Yes.  I do have thighs like Nonnie’s; squishy, shapely, noticeable.

“I do.  I do have thighs like, Nonnie’s!  Isn’t that great?” 

Isn’t that great? ... It is.  It is great. 

(I have thighs like my mother’s.  And my grandmother’s.  And my great-grandmothers.  Isn’t that great?  My thighs have a story and a legacy and speak to the strength of genes, God-intention, connection and the comfort of the knowledge of where they come from).  

She leans in, belly on the sand, probing my eyes, taking my emotional temperature.
Slow seconds pass with her so near me.
She smiles, unlocking the search.
"Yep.  It is.  Would you like this sand and mud treatment on your arms?  You will have to sit up..."   

And we are back.  Thighs and souls in tact.

Blog Birth

I started this blog October 2010: at my kitchen island, with a (second?) glass of wine, whilst my husband sautéed mushrooms in a cream sauce to go with our filet mignon, on a Saturday night; bluesy music playing.

After a soul-crushing-ultrasound Wednesday, a black-hole Thursday, a hallowing-surgery on Friday. 

…questions, projections, recollections…swirling.  When life is a blur, we eat steak.
When hell threatens my core again, apparently I start a blog…and eat an expensive steak.

I had thought about blogging for years, but there was something about this loss, at this point in my story, with this movement of grief that made me say, Oh hell no.  Hell no.  This time, this fear, this loss, will not shut me down, or shut me up.  I’m writing. 

Thanks be to God.

And so I started this blog, yet held this blog birth close.  Close and protected.  Until now.  Because part of my writer’s block is blogger’s confusion: not so much what to write, but when.  So, now I weave in to this a fabric of motherhood.  Even though today we have no children in our home.

There is a very real space in life that needs more and more hopeful, loving words.  That holy, inward space; womb-like.  Lets put out there and celebrate it, no matter how the story unfolds.

There Be Dragons and Whitney Houston's Funeral

I just found this blog post that I never posted...sometime this year around Whitney Houston's funeral.  I can't really understand what I was trying to get at, but I put it out to my brilliant public nonetheless. xo,People.  xo.

Dan is in the middle of his four day, 12 hour a day work week.  Today is the one day I will have "off" for weeks.  So, I am embracing it.  I am by myself, which is really the way I like it (for a while).

Last night I watched "There Be Dragons" about the 1930s Spanish Civil War.  That bit of history in that part of the world was as brutal as only civil wars can be.  It is a story of two boys that were friends: raised in the same time, in the same town, that loved riding bikes.  And then family values, relationships, and experiences; "seeds"; grew into the men finding themselves working out their own enmity towards themselves and one another on opposite sides of the dividing line. "Many seeds are planted in a child's heart, and you never know which one's will grow up..."

This morning I am watching Whitney Houston's Funeral.   It was on CNN and Tyler Perry was speaking and I am kind of fascinated with him recently, so.  And I am kind of blown away; in a few paragraphs he shared the Gospel in the context of her story.  In some ways, these are my people: Christian, Baptist (with a capital B).  (And yet maybe a little different: mostly Black, Famous (with a capital F)).  It is fascinating to see my faith background, and some ways my family history, represented in such a public way. 

So, these two storylines are dancing through my mind, weaving together.   I know the doubts that shroud star-studded events and figures like Jesse Jackson.  I'd rather not kick that sleeping giant, but just acknowledge that he is there.  And that he is there in all of us: seeds that are growing, dragons that will be.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

You Will Never Look Like Her

Actually, "Then Meredith Said..." would be appropriate for the title of this blog (and maybe a few more).

I was 15, she was 17 (or something like that), and there I sat, staring down the pages of a Seventeen magazine.  I wanted to be Krissy Taylor.  Or rather, look like her.  In bounces my sister, who uncharacteristically plops herself down right next to me.

You will never look like her, she said.
You will never LOOK LIKE her.

And off she went.

I have told this story many times to many people over the years, because it is an important scene in my story of being at peace in my own skin.  And almost always, the reaction of these ladies in my life is something like, "Oh.  I'm sorry. Yuck.  That's mean...," with sympathy in their eyes.

Its interesting, because, even then and there, in my teenage brain/body/soul, although feeling somewhat caught, somehow I felt a little more free.

What She WAS NOT Saying:  You will never feel good about your body.  You will never be beautiful.

What She WAS Saying:  You will always have your body.  You will always be your brand of beauty.

And somehow, whether she intended it or not, I was freed up.  Gone with comparison, on with collecting.  Gone with competing, on with connecting.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Sister, MBA

My sister graduated with her MBA from The Darden School of Business at UVA (University of Virginia) last week.  She is pretty amazing. 

But that fact is only the tip of the iceberg as far as amazingness goes.  I have not yet mentioned that she is "Momma" to a spicy 10 year old and spunky 8 year old...who go to school, cheerleading, gymnastics, and have slumber parties.  And that she works full time.  And she has a husband.  And she went to China and South Africa for two weeks at a time in the last year.  Is your head spinning?  Mine was when I stayed with my beloved nieces for a week in March.  Living her life as a mom with out all the other parts almost did me in. 

I like her, love her, and respect her immensely.  It wasn't always so.   Her spontaneity (impulsivity?) and fire scared me.  I am guessing my planning (control?) and sugar ticked her off.  Not ever enemies, but hardly even civil at points, we made it through as each others most common playmate and ended up as trusted friends.  Ah, sisterhood.

Congratulations, Mersi.  Looking forward to celebrating with you at the beach in less than a week!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Your Soul Has Nerve Endings

My friend Angie throws out wise truths all the time; she breaths them.  And so when we were talking about our friends adopted children revisiting their birthland for the first time, she says, "If you imagine our souls have nerve endings, just imagine what will be awakened in them as they go into that place: the sights, the smells, the feel"

"Just  imagine how confusing that can be.  That your soul and body are saying something loud and clear that your mind does not understand.  And might not have any way of understanding fully at that time."

And then we talked about the ambivalence that naturally comes from that.  And the nurturing and love that is needed to walk through that without stomping out the soul. 

Naturally my mind also went back to the place of realizing, "Yes - nerves that are healing and hurting can have the same feel." When nerves/souls feel pain, as confusing as it can be, it can be the sensation of healing as much as it hurts.

Healing and Hurting Have a Similar Feel

I had a bad morning last week.  You know how it goes: you woke up late, so then are running late, only to realize you forgot something, and all along are in a terrible mood.

Oh, and the other added layer of life I deal with here and there: weird nervous system stuff going bizzaro-bezerk.  Its like a combination of icy-hot directly on your muscles, heaviness turned lightness turned numbness every half second,  mini-pains with pleasantly tingling nerve bundles as random as a wackado Christmas light display.  Electric, dizzying, off-kilter.  Silent on the outside, fireworks gone bad on the inside.  Freaky.

These symptoms naturally trigger shear terror and then a multitude of coping mechanisms.  As I have healed through the years, though, I have begun to believe a soothing truth in these unpredictable episodes.  And that is this: nerves that are healing feel the same as nerves that are hurting.

Its true.  My symptoms confirm it, my MRIs prove it, my neurologist affirms it.  And it is just like my momma said, "There is a lot going on in your body right now and maybe that is what nerves rebuilding feels like." 

These sensations  that were a part of my every moment 7 years ago, are periodic freaky spells now.   Sometimes the sneak attacks are all the more triggering because of their infrequency.  But I have this belief that marches against it with light: healing and hurting can have a similar feel.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"No. I'm afraid."

I am afraid of dogs.  It is not rational; more phobic in fact.  I think I was a naturally fearful child (temperament? attachment issues?  trauma in the womb?  regardless...) and dogs were the one thing that seemed okay for me to project all my fear on.  Oh - that and my brother, my ever-present best buddy, was bitten on the nose by a yappy little dog in West Berlin; true story.

Origins and psychobabble aside - I fear dogs.  (Really, just dogs I don't know).  To the point where it sometimes effects my life in certain ways.  And I am not okay with that.  I am not okay with fear dominating an area of my life.

If you have read this blog, you know the primary way this fear manifests itself is on my runs: "gauntlets of dog-ridden, fence-lined paths."  Oh, holy moly.    But I face it, and try to work through it, and today I was comfortable.  

Imagine my surprise when slap dab in the middle of the road there was a huge boxer and his buddy, the border collie.  SOMEONE CALL 911!!! 

But, no!  I have control.  I am alpha, dogs are beta.  I am calm.  I am able.  I will face this head on, "Go home, buddies....go home."  Dogs barking, approaching, snarling.  "Go home, doggies.  GO home."  Dogs moving in, Lizzy don't panic.  "GO HOME DOGS, " just like my momma taught me.  Feelings rising, traffic not budging (I was blocked on off by a busy street), dogs pursuing.

"Jesus, help me."

Car approaching, "Are those your dogs?"  says the kind, elderly man.

"No.  I'm afraid."  Three words communicated it all.

"Okay, hun.  I will take care of it."  Bless him, bless him.

I'm working on it, but it sure is nice to have some support along the way.
...More later on how the Wagners are in search of a dog to live us.  Oh, holy moly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

No Place Safer

" God's world... there are no places that are safer than other places..."
As I read Betsie Ten Boom's wise words as quoted by her sister, Corrie, I am struck once again.
This in midst of Nazi-invaded Holland.  (The Hiding Place).

Oh the ways we try to create safety: money, health, image, relationships, location.  

"The center of His will is our only safety.  Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know His will."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

7 Years Later: A Pill to Swallow

"...a bitter pill to swallow."  This is a phrase we all know well; one that holds the irony of something we must accept but do not wish to.  The bitter taste increases in our mouth.  The resistance to ingest it meets the knowledge that we cannot heal if spit out. 

I swallowed a pill that was risky; it was radioactive.  And I did not even think for a second about spitting it out.  It was easy to follow the procedure for healing - it had instructions.  Fall out instructions, follow up instructions.  I knew what to expect.

And then there are the pills that I have resisted swallowing.  They are healing pills too, but they do not have instructions.  They do not have shape and form.  I cannot touch them.  You have them too.

Days after the easy-to-swallow pill, I underwent a full body scan.  To trace the movement of the medicine.  To notice any areas of my body that were thirsty for iodine and had absorbed its deadly, and therefore healing, properties. 

Oh, to have the kind of progress report on all pills in life I must swallow.  To see how they kill cancerous things and enable healthy life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

7 Years Later: Radioactive Vday

7 years ago today, I went radioactive for Valentine's Day.  Thanks to the Manhattan Project and the iodine-absorbing qualities of the thyroid, "chemotherapy" for thyroid cancer takes on the form of a pill that you swallow.  Pretty amazing actually.

It was the most special Valentine's Day delivery I have ever had.  Said "pill" comes in a very unique package with a very specific procedure.  Step one: enter closet sized room by yourself.  Step two: notice various people coming in and out of the room in head to toe radioactive suit gear.  Step three: watch a airplane-like drink cart be rolled into your little space by another radioactive suit gear person (RASGP).  Step four:  RASGP speaks, "Lizzy.  So, I am going to open this box and then I am going to need you to just swallow this like a pill.  Here are your radio-active fall out instructions.  Do you have any questions?"  Step five: Just say no.  Step six: One compartment, two compartment, three compartment, four.  Swallow the pill, and RASGP is out the door.

Done and done.  I swallowed a pill that has "fall out" instructions.  Including that my family was to leave my meals for the next 24 hours outside of my room door and I was to come pick them up myself.  Kind of like Sloth from The Goonies.  (He turned out to be a real sweetheart).  But Dad brought it to my bedside anyways.  It was Valentine's Day after all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh Blog and Tell Me When Lent Begins

Oh blog of mine.  I have neglected you.  Too much sickness, too little energy to type...

I am not sure about your neck of the woods, but mine has been virus-ridden and sleepy-laden.  Hibernation might have been a better option for January. 

But!, the holidays were lovely and February is well on its way.  Both involve a lot of red, which is my new favorite color.  Good book ends to a icky sicky month. 

And, once again, I am back at it.  Gone are the excuses; here is the resolve.   I need to tell the rest of my 7 Years Later story, I want to tell you about Project I See You,  I have a storyline in my head about the Church that needs critiquing...  When does lent begin?  (Forgive me, I was raised in non-liturgical tradition; loving and lovely though it was).  I think I will blog daily for that season.

Next up:  memories of a radioactive Valentine's Day.