My Candle Wish for the New Year


As I sat down to have my coffee this morning, I found myself staring at the words on the back of my badger crest mug, the traits of the house. Loyalty, kindness, honesty, friendship. As this year starts to see itself out with all its difficulty tonight, I shall light my candle and place it on the porch table again, just as I did at Winterdark (winter solstice), to lend its light to the night as the year slips around the corner. But, as I looked at my mug, I found myself composing my wish. I don’t think it breaks the rules to tell you what this wish and, ultimately, prayer is, as it is for you. For all of us.

I wish you Loyalty, dear Reader. I wish you the loyalty of chosen family, of the dear ones and neighbors with whom you have surrounded yourself and built your little world. I wish you the loving loyalty of any blood family who has stood by you in all and sundry. But, most of all, I wish you the loyalty of empathy, of someone who is as willing to put themselves into your shoes and walk that mile with you (or carrying you) as you would be in your turn. I guess that wish also places a responsibility on you and me, but…that is how it works, isn’t it?

I wish you Kindness, the kind of kindness that wells up from unknown places, the action that springs forward without second-thought or consideration. I wish you the kind of kindness that comes naturally along with the willingness to accept it from others. May you receive kindness without the burden of “paying it back” settling on your shoulders and soul. May you give kindness without the disappointment of expecting reciprocation. I wish you kindness without strings, ribbons, or tags. May you give and receive it in free measure in the coming year, each to each as the moment calls for.

I wish you Honesty, dear heart. I wish you the honesty to admit when things are hard. I wish you the ability to be honest about when you don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to feel. I wish you the honesty to sit in the discomfort without the need to fix things or make it better because, frequently, that is not what we or others need. I wish you the honest boundaries when you cannot take on any more emotional weight and to be able to say so. I wish you the brave honesty to admit when what you are feeling needs more than a “self-care day” or when your sadness needs more than just “a nappy-nap or a snack to get yourself right”. I wish you the honesty to reach out your hand in your struggling and say, “I need help.” And when someone else says so to you in their own desperate turn, I wish you the honesty to see their hurt and their pain, keep trite sympathy behind your teeth, and walk with them in that hard place to their needed next step. I wish you the honesty you need in the moments you face.

Finally, I wish you Friendship. I wish you the type of friendship that rings or texts your phone in the middle of dinner to check in on you, just because. I wish you the type of friendship that holds sacred space for you all to speak into and be heard. I wish you the type of friendship that provides a balm for the hidden wounds you are carrying and recognizes when you just do not have it in you to be effusive. I wish you the quiet friendships that are always there and do not require you to be “on” all the time, but allow you to flop into the pathetic little potato (or, as Gemma Correll puts it, “permanently exhausted pigeon”) you need to be at times. I wish you the soft hands required when your dear one comes to you with their wounds needing tending. When I think of deep, abiding friendship, often the spoken words of Sara Bareilles’s song “You Matter to Me” come back:

I hope someday, somebody wants to hold you for twenty minutes straight
They don’t pull away, they don’t look at your face
[…] All they do is wrap you up in their arms and hold on tight without an ounce of selfishness in it
[…] I hope you become addicted to sayin’ things and having them matter to someone.

I wish you to be able to be the friend that is needed and to have the friendship that you need, dear Reader.

As 2021 turns the far corner and 2022 peeks around the near one, I wish all of these things for you. I wish you these pillars that hold us up in the hard times. As I light the candle tonight and set it against the darkness amidst the turning of the world, I pray that you will feel a warmth…somehow, somewhere…and you will know it to be someone who cares about you. I wish you the gentlest of New Years, dear one. May it be blest.

Nudging the Door Open (NYE 2018)


As today dawned, I realized that I had nothing prepared to post. No reflection, no little story indicative of where my heart and mind are right now. Nothing was prepared. Even now, sitting in my daughter’s darkened room while she falls asleep, writing by the light from the hallway, I am tempted to feel like I failed by being too busy or full-minded to give this year much thought. But, then again, it has been a busy, full-minded year. I spent a good portion of this year feeling and being not altogether myself. Stress took a heavy toll in the first half of 2018, as did change the resulting different routines and schedules. I finally made a significant health change earlier this fall that seems to have helped immensely with some of my balance and peace of mind, along with some emotional and mental work and growth. It’s been heavy lifting and it’s not over yet, but I feel that I am better for it.

2018 was a year full of change, both for myself and for dear ones close to me, and also a year of some beautiful, joyful moments.  I was gifted with the most amazing birthday in years by my loving husband and dear friends (I’m still chuffed from that, too). I also had the opportunity to throw off adulthood and run away to Disney and Harry Potter World for a Dapper Day weekend with a girlfriend. It was utterly splendid!

As this New Year’s Eve wanes, I hear the wind howling outside the windows of my house, and I find myself hoping that it will sweep away the figurative dark and dank and cold, the literal scary and disappointing and painful of this year, sweeping the doorstep clear for the new one.

So I will unlock the door and nudge it open to let the cool, end-of-year air sweep through to see 2018 out and usher 2019 in. It may stand there on the doorstep, blinking in the light, confused and maybe a little scared, just as we are. For a long moment, we may stand there staring at it and it at us. I hope we will take a deep breath and step forward to meet the new year with kindness, courage, determination, and truth.

So happy New Year, dear ones. May your year and selves be blessed.

Holding the Days with Gentleness


2016 is almost over and what a year it’s been. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it now that I sit and think about it but I will try to put word to thought.

This year, my watchword was grace—to give grace as well as to recognize it when it is given me and to also give it to myself. I have spent this year trying to be mindful of opportunities to show grace, as well as to accept it when I receive it. I also worked to be mindful of opportunities to study and explore grace and its facets. This year, I spent my NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) in November centering my writings on grace. I explored what I knew, what I have experienced, though, and considered, and even found new levels of thought on what it means to give grace, experience it, choose it, and even to be graceless. It was, honestly, one of the best writing experiences of my life and it renewed a desire in me to write, and I am determined to write as often and as much as possible in the coming year.

This year, I went back to teaching full time. It was a quick decision after many, many applications, interviews, and then coming to terms with being home with Elizabeth for a final year. I got a call, interviewed, and made a decision all in two to three days. I had to sacrifice some things, such as seeing my baby off on her first day of daycare/preschool, but I knew that it was the right decision for my family. Has it been easy, such a quick and large life transition? No, not really, and it has taken me almost the entire semester to feel as though I have found my feet or that I belong in teaching again (still not entirely sure on the latter but for now, functional will do). I am still struggling a bit to find a life balance again—to find the correct levels in time for daughter, husband, my self-care, and my writing–but I have learned and am learning a great deal from the teachers and students I am working with now. At the same time, my girl is enjoying school and missing her friends now that we are at the tail end of Christmas vacation. She is doing wonderfully, growing quickly, learning so very much, and I am thankful beyond measure for that.

My husband has just completed a leadership development program, which I am buttons-bursting proud of him for sticking with. I know that it was a testing for him and I am ever so proud of his perseverance and determination to get everything out of it that he could. He works hard each and every day and gives all he can as a teacher and a pastor and I am constantly awed and inspired by him. This year, we celebrated ten years of marriage surrounded by friends and full of laughter and good food. It was the best method by which to celebrate (well, that and the new Star Trek film) and I am so glad that we were able to do so. I love you, darling, today and every day and even beyond that.

As 2016 ends, I have been thinking and praying about a watchword, a word of intention for the coming year. This year’s word was grace and the year before was intentioned by courage and kindness. So far, the word that has come to me is gentleness. What does it mean to be gentle? To act and react, listen, speak, and be with gentleness?

With all the fear, the worry, the anger, the darkness, what does it mean for me to be gentle? How can I be gentle with the hearts that are afraid and hurting? How can I be gentle with those who do not understand or don’t want to?

How can I be gentle with my dear ones? Gentle with their feelings, their thoughts, with honesty, in my reactions and discipline as we raise our daughter, with my loved ones’ precious hearts and souls?

How can I be gentle in my job, with my students and coworkers, with their humanity that may break out in difficult ways sometimes, much like my own?

How can I be gentle in my faith, in speaking love and kindness and giving grace to others? In following the example of the God I claim to believe in and the Jesus I claim to follow?

How can I show gentleness in my craft, in what I write and how I post on social media, the corners that I build in the world around me, both real and online? How can I be gentle and bold and courageous at the same time?

I want to hold what people give me, what they trust me with, gingerly and carefully. I want to be gentle with souls, with words, with trust, with hearts and feelings. I want to do this for others because I know how much I want it for me. I want people to be gentle with me, with my thoughts, feelings, words, hopes, dreams, heart, and soul. Just as I know how much I need grace and so I try to give it, so it goes with gentleness. I know how much I desire it; why should others not be the same? Why should I not try to give the reactions that I would want to receive?

Everyone is going through or has gone through something; everyone could use some gentleness in a world so rough and tumble. This year may be hard, this year may be scary, but I will not let that stop me. I will not let it harden me either. I will not let it take my softness away but, if anything, I will let it increase, let it seep into my touch, fill my words, prompt me to listen more than I speak. May this coming year find me holding others with gentleness and radical love, continuing to act in grace, having courage, and being kind.

Farewell, 2016.

Welcome, 2017. I call you blessed and look forward to what we have to learn together.

let-your-gentleness-be-evident-to-all-quote-1

A Time Lord’s Auld Lang Syne


The night is waning, the year is bidding farewell, her family is asleep, and her world is quiet. Until she hears it. On her back porch, that whooshing thrum that echoes through the New Year’s Eve air. Standing from her blanket cocoon on her couch, she makes her way to the back door, reaching for the handle, only to have the screen door open without warning, leaving her to jump back from the blast of cold night air.

And there he is, standing in the snow-swirled doorway like the proverbial bow-tied Peter Pan at her window.

“Happy New Year!” he crows.

“Shhh!” comes the retort and he instantly shrinks down, hand before his mouth, eyes wide with mirth.

“Happy New Year?” comes the greeting once more, only much, much quieter.

“You’re on the western side of the Atlantic, love. It’s not New Year’s quite yet,” she says with a smile at the mad man with the police box, reaching behind him to close the door and shut out the cold once more.

“Really? My timing must be off, though I’d get here right after they knocked the ball off. Oh, well, no matter! Time left then!”

“Shhh!” she reprimands again but, this time, he just smiles.

“How are you?” he asks, crossing his arms behind him.

“Seeing out the old year and welcoming the new,” she replies leading him through her small house and into a living room warmed by a small fireplace. She offers him a seat on the sofa, if he wishes.

“What brings you here on New Year’s Eve?” she then asks as she sits.

He doesn’t answer for a moment but then his words are soft and honest. “To say goodbye as well.”

Her face falls as she reads his. “This seriously is it, isn’t it? You are saying goodbye.”

This adorable maniac purses his lips and nods slowly. “Times change and so must we.”

She cannot help but glance down the hall towards the bedrooms where her husband and toddler daughter slumber peacefully. “We do change, don’t we?” she murmurs softly. “I remember the first time you and your crazy box came to me. Seems like so very long ago.”

A smile, sad and joyous all at the same time, curls his lips. “I do, too. The Girl Who Stayed Behind.”

She chuckles. “Oh, I get a title, now do I?”

“Well, of course!” he replies, “It’s a thing I do.”

Reaching out gently, she cups that cheek in her hand. So young that face but so old those eyes. Neither of them says anything for the longest time, though everyone knows that the most significant words are spoken in the space between. In the silences.

“Thank you for stopping for me that day,” she finally says, “Though I have not regretted not going with you.”

“I know you haven’t; you think I haven’t kept an eye on you? You’ve had some pretty amazing adventures of your own,” he says, “I wouldn’t have offset that destiny for all the stars in the expanse.” He stands then, moving through her home as if it was his own. Coming to her daughter’s room, he pauses in the doorway, watching the toddler dream in her crib.

“Never stop dreaming, little one. Your mum didn’t and look what it got her,” he whispers his blessing on a breath of golden stardust. He then steps from the door, closing it most of the way again before returning to the living room and her couch.

“You don’t forget, do you?” he asks, and she instinctively knows what he’s asking about.

“Not the important things, no,” she replies lowly, “And you are one of the important things.” Reaching out, she takes his hand gently. “Don’t you ever think that you’re not. You won’t be forgotten, not by anyone who has ever met or been blessed by you. It doesn’t matter where you go, what you do…what face you wear…you will always be the adorable mad man with a box. You will always be the Doctor to me.”

His smile is wobbly, his eyes limpid in the firelight, as he grasps her hand with both of his, lifting it to kiss it ardently. “Thank you,” he whispers, “Thank you for that.”

Suddenly, there comes a faint beeping from the arm of the couch. Her phone. It’s midnight.

“Happy New Year, Doctor-dear.”

“Happy New Year, my girl,” he murmurs in reply.

The moments pass and she is alone on her couch once more, her house locked up safe and sound, and there is a void in the snow on her porch, a square large enough for a person to stand in. The fire has burned down, the world is quiet. The New Year has begun.

May it be blessed.

Credit to Ashley Feiler on Pinterest

The Light Around the Door 2013


As the year begins to slip through the door fastly closing and the light of the new one shining around the one waiting to open. I am not sure where to begin. I mean, you all have been with me over the past year. I am not sure what more I can say than what has already been said. But maybe I’ll try.

This time last year I was awash with worry, fear, and despair over the care of my family, of how I was going to help take care of them. This year, the New Year has almost snuck up on me. I don’t feel so much trepidation at its arrival. There are still things to worry about but so much more to be thankful for and celebrate in.

My husband found a new job, two of them actually, teaching in a new school but also as a preacher for a small country church. I’m so amazingly proud of him for bearing through a very difficult school year last year and then going through all the rigamarole of interviews in order to find a new job. I also am extremely proud of him, even more so because he has gotten back into ministry, to which he has felt a  leading for a long, long while. It is a great amount of work but I cannot express just how proud of him and proud to be with him I am. He is an amazing man with an even more amazing heart and I am proud to call him my husband, my lover, my mate, and my partner.

My baby girl has gone from a tiny, swaddled newborn to a stepping, babbling toddler with bundles of personality.  I am amazed by her every day. Amazed, overjoyed, stressed out, chest puffed out with pride, made a nervous wreck, a sobbing mess, and a woman with stitches in her side from laughing so much at this little girl’s antics. She can now show you that she is one year old (by holding up that little index finger), and we are working on teaching her to sign “tiger” so she can tell us when she would like to watch her favorite cartoon: “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”.

It has been a whirlwind year of changes and growth. We have been blessed by friends and family beyond words and for that I am grateful beyond measure. Thank you for an amazing year and I look forward to another such one.