Silvered Cracks


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Firstly, thanks so much for your calm patience. The school year is almost done; that particular madness almost over for a couple months.

Now. May tell you a story about this mug right here? Oh, OK. Thank you!

I know that, to you, it might look a bit of a mess, but I find it quite beautiful. This TARDIS mug was gifted to me by some dear ones a few Christmases ago. Completely unexpected and absolutely delightful. I love my TARDIS mug! However, one day last year, I came home from work to find this waiting for me on my stove.

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My darling TARDIS all in pieces and an apologetic note from my father in law. At that time, I had just started back to work, our daughter was attending preschool/daycare half-day, and so her grandparents would take care of her in the morning and get her school at noon. My dad-in-awesome likes to keep busy and, as such, he helped out with the chores around the house. Again, this was my first year back to work since our girl had been born four years previous, and I was, honestly, overwhelmed with handling work and family and housekeeping. So I appreciated my father-in-law doing up the dishes and coming home to an empty sink. Unfortunately, in the process one day, he knocked my mug against the side of the sink just right (wrong?), and it shattered. Most of the pieces were large enough to fit back together, however, so he saved them for me.

I cried. Seriously. I sat down and cried over my broken TARDIS. My gorgeous “borrowed-and-blue” box had exploded. I snapped a picture and sent it to my tea-guru, sister-mama, and oldest friend in my adult life. She immediately suggested that I send her the pieces, and she would kintsugi them. If you do a quick Wikipedia search, you’d find that Kintsugi (“golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (“golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. My dear wifey had done this with some of her own broken crockery before and I found myself irrationally excited by the prospect. I knew the mug would likely not be useable again, but I would have my dearly-gifted TARDIS back whole. So I packed up the pieces in bubble wrap and newspaper and sent them off to Courtney.

Before I did that, however, I sent the picture of my TARDIS-in-pieces to one other person, my friend Daniel. He is my beloved “clever boy” and the main reason that I adore the Eleventh Doctor (“Doctor Who”) so much: the character is art imitating life to me in that his playful and buoyant personality reminds me constantly of my Dan. When I sent him the picture, his response was immediate.

Oh no no no no no. This is your fabulous TARDIS mug?! Or was this the teapot? I insist you let me send you a replacement for whichever it was. ❤❤ Time Ladies need their T(ea)ARDISes.”

Soon enough a new mug showed up in my mailbox, which I have happily used up to the present. Now, I will admit to embarressedly not telling the dear friends who gifted me the mug in the first place that it was broken for the longest time. I have finally just admitted to it. I think I did not want them to think me reckless with my gift, nor did I want them to be upset that it had gotten broken. (I’m sorry, dears, really-really!)

Now, flash-forward to last week. A package arrived from my wifey’s art Etsy shop; in it were a calendar and some prints that I had ordered. However, there was also another package from her waiting for me, and I had no idea what it is. Upon opening up the second package, I found my precious TARDIS 1.0, now beautifully put back together with shimmery silver lining its cracks and cementing the pieces into a whole. It was as though starlight was trying to burst out from the inside. It is stunning!

It now sits on my shelf with some other keepsakes, such as my first dip pen and the box for one of my newest gifted fountain pens, and reminds me constantly of the treasures that are my dear ones. How they have all come alongside me when I have needed them most, and shored up my heart and spirit in its darkest moments. A reminder that, while broken and cracked, there is still light. It can and does still pour through, even if just in bits. Thank you, my dears.

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A Long Way From Home, Day 8: There’s No Place Like Home


Today is the last day of our visit and the prep to journey home has begun. This morning was packing, tonight will be washing clothes and making sure that everything that came goes home once again. But, in the midst of all of this, I was able to spend a wonderful lunch and long visit afterward with a high school friend of mine and her beautiful baby boy.

It was nice to sit and eat and speak at length with my friend, us trading Mommy stories, our own stories and happenings, and offering insights and encouragements. It was an afternoon that was sorely needed and greatly enjoyed.

A good ending to what has been a refreshingly good trip.

Missing the Walk


Today is a day for missing. As I walked out, in mid-February, into a day that is bright and sunny and breezy warm, warm enough to eventually shed my light hoodie, I found myself just walking around the playground while my toddler played. The sun warmed cheeks, neck, and arms, and I found my heart yearning and longing, deeply nostalgic. I texted to a friend, “Today would be a great day to walk. I am missing that today: just walking and talking with friends.” And I am. I am missing it terribly.

I miss the days walking through the neighborhoods just north (I think) of my apartment on UofE’s campus, my friend Leah and I just pouring out hearts and minds because we knew the other would listen, hear, love, and pray.

I miss walking through campus of an evening, sitting out on the Circle, laughing with my friends and listening to our echoes.

I miss quiet Sunday mornings walking through campus to church at BSU, the world still sleepy, quiet, and expectant of the day.

I miss nights being walked back to my graduate dorm by my husband-then-boyfriend, only to find out that he had left his car on the absolute opposite side of campus and neglected to tell me so he could spend that last bit of time with me.

I miss those first days of spring, those days when you can’t help but be outside. Walking barefoot and talking with friends about anything and everything, spectating ultimate frisbee games, napping on stone benches. Eating in little cafes, walking around malls, visiting comic and game stores, sitting outside at the coffee shop.

I miss being able to call up a friend to ask, “Want to walk?” and usually finding at least one person who would.

Oh, the miles that I must have trekked, the states’ worth of distance covered in those walks. But the distance didn’t matter. It was the time. Time I got to spend with people, being challenged and sharpened by them, gaining insight with them, learning them, learning to love them, and letting them see me more and more. The honesty, the vulnerability, the truth that I found myself sharing with people in those moments; that is precious to me. The spontaneous games of tag and footraces. The laughs that broke from me when I was caught and, usually, hoisted over a shoulder or grabbed up in a hug.

I feel like Rapunzel sometimes. You know, living far away from anywhere and anyone? I miss an arm around my shoulder or an elbow linked through mine as we go along. I always knew I could reach out and find support. Find a friend.

I still know that, and I still reach, even if the walks have lessened and the distance has widened. But I am just missing the walks today.

NaBloPoMo Day 13: Walking Backward in Words


Last night, as my husband was working on setting up his post-apocalyptic city in “Fallout 4”, I sat on the floor of the den by his couch and opened a particular box. This box holds the dearest of my correspondence. Letters, cards, and photos, precious pieces of memory from friends, family, and loved ones. Stacks are held together by pretty ribbon, several cards or letters sometimes set together in the same envelope to save space. But I was in search of one letter in particular; it is coupled together with a candid photo of me and the woman whom I call my mentor, my “Frodo”.

Of all the years that we have known each other and the times that she has written to me, this is the only letter I have left. The others are probably packed away somewhere else that I cannot recall. So this is the only letter of hers that I currently hold in my close possession, and it is the most precious to me. This was a letter written to me for my wedding day. At the time, Erin was a missionary in Malawi and unable to make it back for my wedding (which broke my heart a little, I admit), but she sent this letter on ahead of herself, with instructions that it wasn’t to be opened until the day of my marriage ceremony. So I waited.

When I rolled out of bed on the morning of July 22, 2006, I reached over to the nightstand, where this letter sat waiting atop my journal. I opened it tenderly and devoured the words inside. It is two pages of plain paper, covered in words written in her lovely hand, and I could hear my beloved Adona’s (what equates to “Bosslady” in Chichewe) voice rising from those words to meet my ears. Even more so, though, I could feel her voice in my heart.

She wrote: “I wish you nothing but joy, Melissa, this day and always. I wish you trials and hard times to challenge you and Ben together. I wish you the simplicity of the moment. I wish you a grand adventure together, laughing, crying, and truly knowing each moment. For these things, and above all else for awareness of His Presence. I will continue to bathe you and Ben in prayer. And it is precisely these things for which I have no doubt — you will find them. You always have, since that first day I laid eyes upon you, and I saw a heart full of love and a life full of potential.”

This is an opinion of me that I have striven to live up to for the past, not only for Erin’s sake but for mine. To be the woman God created me to be, to show to others the love that He showered on me through Erin and other dear ones who have made such an impact on my life for so much the better. Erin saw what God was endeavoring to build in me long before I ever did and she guided me into ministry opportunities that have influenced me ever since.

Over the past almost-ten years, Ben and I have indeed had joys and trials, laughter and tears, and God has never left our sides, even when were stubborn and tried to do things on our own or our way. He has always been there, arms open to us and holding us tightly. And we have only just begun.

I sat and read and cried. I remembered and thanked God for my friend who, though still farther away than I would like, has done and continues to do so much good in my life. For her letter that got a beautiful day off to a memorable and tender start. And for her prayers that continue to follow and cover me day in and day out.

NaBloPoMo 2015, Day 1: Awed & Fascinated


Elen verch Phellip, also known modernly as Courtney Pritchard, has always fascinated me. The width, breadth, and depth of her knowledge, skill, and creativity constantly leave me in a delighted state of awe. She and I have known each other and been friends for about ten years and in that time, I have never failed to be amazed by what this woman can accomplish creatively. An active member and participant in the Society for Creative Anachronism, an art major, and just general overall amazing hobbyist, I have seen her manufacture (and own several) magnificent creations from pen, paint, textile, words, makeup, and film. Her journal layouts make me swoon. The beauties concocted from her needle and thread draw girlish titters. The ink samples she sends make me want to sink into their colors and write forever.

Aside from all of this, though, wonderful as it is, there is an emotional and intellectual depth to this woman that I am always plumbing, always looking further into. I am fascinated by her, her personality, her heart, her mind, her interests, the way she sees the world. This woman is become one of my best and dearest friends in the world and I am in awe of her. I do not know all of her, not by a long shot, but I have been privileged to see more and more into that lovely heart and soul. I only hope that she will continue to allow me in as she is also teaching me how to let her into my heart and soul as well. ^_^

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Hey! I Was Playing With That!


The other day on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (my daughter’s favorite show), the characters were dealing with feeling jealous and what to do about it. I held my fourteen month old on my lap and talked to her about it. Though I know that she still is too little to really understand, I know for a fact that she is familiar with that feeling already. She doesn’t have the capacity yet to recognize it for what it is or think about what to do about it aside from take what she wants but I still talked to her. I told her that, when she gets bigger, if she feels jealous or wants something that someone else has, she can come to Mommy and Mommy will help her talk about it and figure out what to do.

No one has to teach a child how to be jealous. We see it immediately in toddlers with no prompting whatsoever. They aren’t necessarily interested in a toy or item until they see you or another person with it. Then, immediately, desire kicks in and the child is at your side, or the side of another child, reaching for and/or taking the item for themselves. If it is between two children, there is no mistaking the look on the face of the other child. We all know that look or those words.

“Hey, I was playing with that!”

 It’s a protest, a cry against the sudden change. What was dear to us, even for a short amount of time, has been snatched from us, even feels like it has been stolen. I have seen Elizabeth both take and be taken from and observed her reactions, as well as those of the other little ones. My girl is not retiring or demure when she wants something but it was clear to me that she did not like being on the other side of the mirror (who does, after all?), having had something taken from her by another child. She almost seemed to wilt a little bit, coming over to me with that look in her eyes of, “What do I do?” And all I could do was hug her and give her a new toy from nearby.

Adults are no different from children in their needs, wants, and the resulting jealousy and fear. However, with adults, it tends to be less about things and more about people. We treasure the attention of the people in our lives, enjoy the novelty and excitement of meeting new ones, and relax in the comfort of familiar attentions. Whether those people are siblings, parents, significant others, or friends, we will, at some point, find ourselves in the position of “sharing” that person’s friendship, time, and/or attention with others. And that is hard, especially at the outset. For lack of a better example, adults often have the same reaction as children when someone new comes along into the life of someone they care about.

“Hey! I was playing with that!”

 However, that reaction is usually hidden away in our private thoughts and feelings (as we are painstakingly taught to do in ‘polite society’), but they are still there. We have to give up the attention of the person in question, or at least a modicum of it, to make room for this new person in their life. And you’re often very right: you were there first, you were playing with them first. We all know that people are not toys, they are not possessions to be “played with”, but the principle is the same. We have to share because interdependence and relationship are part of the human existence. However much of a loner we may wish to be, there is no escaping relationship, not really. With relationship, then, comes a vulnerability born of caring, and jealousy is part of that. If you don’t like the term “jealousy”, call it “envy”, call it “being protective” or “territorial”. Use whatever describer you may prefer, but the result is the same. It happens when you care, even the littlest bit. It can blindside you in a moment’s blink. It can make your cheeks flush and stomach flop and make you want to become the Incredible Hulk and just SMASH!

“Hey! I was playing with that!”

Life is constantly new and exciting and jarring and it comes along with new twists and turns, well-met’s and fare-thee-well’s, for all of us. Along the way, somehow, we learn to cope. We learn to deal, to speak, to adjust, to adapt, and to love nonetheless.

The Dreaded Heart Day


St. Valentine’s Day is this Friday. It is upon us, and the longer I live, the more contempt and disdain do I find in my generation for this holiday. Sure, it’s been commercialized almost as much as Christmas, but I don’t understand the deep dislike. Even when I was single, I didn’t feel badly towards Valentine’s Day. I didn’t despair that I didn’t have someone to buy me flowers or anything, really. So often, the complaints that I hear about Valentine’s stem from anger at the reminder to those who are single that they are indeed that: single, and that there’s such a big expectation (gifts, flowers, dinner, sex), as well as disappointment when things don’t go as imagined, or don’t go at all. What I have noticed about these complaints is the direction in which they point; these complaints point at ourselves, what WE want, what WE expect out of Valentine’s Day. Isn’t the idea of Valentine’s Day pointing in the other direction, outward to others? Isn’t the point for us to show others how much we love them? Not just to sit and wait to be told how much we are loved. So I refused to fall into the trap of becoming bitter and angry about “Singles Awareness Day”.

Instead I turned my focus outward. Valentine’s Day became an excuse for me to especially remind those I loved that I did indeed love and appreciate them. In college, I bought flowers and cards from the sororities that were selling them for the occasion and charity and had them delivered to my best female friends. I bought snacks for my guy friends who had a wonderfully generous “open door” policy to their home. I enjoyed running around with my Valentine’s secrets hidden in my chest and in my smile.

When I began dating my husband, I will admit that Valentine’s became a bigger deal, particular our very first one together. I was desperate to detail out just how much I loved him – “how do I love thee, let me count the ways” and al that. Now, nine years removed from that particular February 14th, I caught myself at Hallmark the other day, about to buy a dozen sappy cards, telling my daughter that we “had lots of Valentines to buy”. The truth is: no, we didn’t. I didn’t. So I put them back and picked up one for my dear husband (which I cannot wait to give to him). I still plan on spending Thursday evening and Friday morning letting the people I love know that I love them and that I am so grateful for their presence in my life.

So, instead of hating on Valentine’s with all the “righteous” indignation and vehemence of our generation, maybe you can turn it outward and focus on telling those you love that you love them in simple, meaningful (and maybe even secret) ways.

Here’s to a restored faith in St. Valentine’s Day!