Friday, December 12, 2014

{rejoice over me}

"Great job, Dani! You are awesome!" My boss says loudly as he delivers one of the most painful high fives of my life. 
It's at least a weekly occurrence - my boss is lavish with praise.
I squirm inside. I'm uncomfortable with words of affirmation. I deflect them, deny them, I shrug them off so they won't sink in.

"You are so beautiful." 
My husband's daily declaration, a blessing over my life, my body. 
I squirm. Deny.

"I am honored to serve in church with you," says the youth pastor. "You are such an important part of our team and I can't imagine doing this without you."
It's all I can do to stay still, to nod, to not bolt out the door. 
I'm uncomfortable with praise.

It's a strange dichotomy, a catch-22. I both love and loathe myself, Like all people, I long to hear words of praise. I am discontent when my efforts go unnoticed and I crave accolades. And yet I squirm. I reject. I deny and harden so the words roll off my back like water drops. 
Do I call this humility? Do I dare?

I sit on the couch, my morning ritual of coffee and the Word, and I try to really listen. I know I'm meant to absorb the words, that these are God's love letter to the world, to me.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. Zep. 3:17

I squirm.
I sit, trying to absorb the words, to absorb the love, and I physically squirm.
Do I dare reject these words, this love? Do I dare to question the value He bestows, to refuse Him when He rejoices over me with loud singing? The doubt is heresy, a rejection of His truth. 
I ache inside. It hurts to put aside my thick armor, my shield of low self worth. How can it hurt so much to just accept His love, to let Him whisper "You are worth more to Me than sparrows."

It spills. He captures my tears in a bottle (oh, but it must be a very large jar) and gently He breathes love over me.
Slowly I accept. Stubbornly I release my strong hold, a stronghold of self hate. I dare not reject this praise. No, if I wish to reflect praise back to Him, I cannot make Him a liar. 
I am loved, and He is good. It is enough. 

Image via Fifty Two Verses

Monday, May 19, 2014

For the love of {florals}

Florals, florals, florals.
I just can't get enough of them this spring. 
In other news, I'm bad at blogging these days.
If you need me I'll be riding my bike, day-dreaming over Anthropologie catalogs, and planning frantically for the upcoming weekend! Two of my long-time besties are getting married (no, not to each other) and I just can't wait to celebrate their big days! 
Have a happy, flowery spring week!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I've been taking some time to breathe.
So many things have happened. I want to share them all with you, but there is too much. Let me sum up.
The husband's deployment got cancelled at the last minute.
The job he was applying for fell through.
Some adoption and fertility plans failed and others are starting to emerge. 
We started training to become certified foster parents.
Work has been crazy, friendships have taken precedence over blogging, flowers have bloomed, winds have blown, tears have fallen, faith has emerged. 
I've needed this time to breathe. 
I've needed to hike, to rest, to cook good food and eat it in the company of love and laughter. I've needed to adjust, to grieve, to postpone explanations and go with my gut.
I'm moving forward with trepidation and with gratitude. I am so excited for these next few months, but also wary of clouds on the horizon.
But Spring has come, with it's blossoms and gusts, it's hope and promise and warm, healing sunshine.
Thanks for waiting while I breathe.

Images via: gypsy mess, sea of shoes

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I pruned my roses today. The bushes were still stubbornly clinging to last year's dead and shriveled leaves. The stems were turning brown and stiff and hard. And so I cut them. Ruthlessly, mercilessly, closer than ever before, I slashed them down nearly to the root. 

My grandmother stood over me as I worked, pointing out where to prune. Here. There. No, cut it lower down. She had to reassure me over and over again that I wasn't killing my bushes, I was healing them. And when I finally cut low enough I was rewarded with green, with the revealing of new life. They need to be freed of the weight so that they'll have the energy to grow back, bigger and better than ever, grandmother said. Cut off the dead parts. The new growth runs into the dead and it can't grow any farther. 

As I stare at my tiny, pathetic little bushes, I wonder if they'll ever really grow back. And yet I trust her. I trust that her seventy plus years of life have taught her more about roses than I could possibly know. And as I gather up the long branches of sharp, vicious thorns, I wonder again.

I gingerly carry the thorny sprigs across the yard and paused to stare at the cruel points. I picture them bent, tied, and fashioned into a rough crown. I imagine them shoved down in anger and mocking onto a tender brow. I wince. I look at my carefully gloved fingers and then I raise my thorny heart in praise.

I ponder just how much I am like a thorny, sharp, half-dead rose bush. I so desperately need pruning. And Jesus knows. He knows just where I need to be cut, just where I'm running into death and unable to grow. 

He knows. And he wades in, bare-handed, and grasps me by my sharpest places. His hands are pierced, my sins cut him deep like thorns. He sheds his own blood willingly, expectantly, joyfully to nurture my deep hurt and need. 

Yet when he prunes me, I am the one who cries out in pain. I complain, I gripe, I rail against his loving care of my branches. I angrily tell him how much I needed that comfort, that crutch, that seemingly necessary thing in my life. And he lovingly reminds me, over and over again, to hush. To rest. To allow him to remove the things that are holding me back, sapping my energy, and keeping me from growth. 

Why do I trust him so ill? Why can't I obey when I know how great he is, how perfectly he loves? 

I wonder. I picture myself, a closely pruned bush. I wait. 

Soon I will blossom with new growth again. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

{me again}

High desert sun, cold sharp breeze, winter brown grasses and summer blue sky; 
Harsh smell of spring on brightly chilled air, pounding of heart, wind on hair;

I run.

Limping gait, rippling lake, lagging dog, dragging my mind from fog; push past pain. 
Gasp, dry rasp, parched throat, burning arms, chilled legs, shed coat;

I spread my sun-starved bare soul.

Slow gained speed, aching knees, heart breaks free,
           I’m almost me again.

Poetry and photography by me

Friday, March 14, 2014


From my earliest memories there has always been an ideal, a story about the princess that I would like to become. I played "prince and princess" with my sister, my friends, my dolls. I don't think I ever had to be taught that I was supposed to grow up to be that princess. But the idea was there, always, ingrained in me before I was even aware of myself. I was subconsciously consumed with the deep-seated longing to grow up into a beautiful long-haired maiden, to fall desperately, hopelessly in love with a romantic and dashing hero, to be swept, both physically and metaphorically off my feet, and to ride off into the glittering sunset of true love and eternal happiness.

And all of those things happened, more or less. I certainly grew up, at least into a slightly less awkward and more stylish version of my childhood self. I met several dapper gentlemen and eventually managed to fall in love with the one who loved me back. He certainly did sweep me off my feet and onto his longboard and ride off with me. We were, and are, in fact, crazy about each other. Madly in love isn’t exactly how I always pictured it to be, but then again, neither is my hair. Disney movies and romance novels are notorious liars, after all.

But then, life went on. I always knew in a sense that life really did continue after marriage. At least I thought I knew that the big white wedding was the beginning of the story, not the end. I had looked forward, as far as I was able, into the misty future and seen a husband with a steady job, a house with a little garden and a prowly cat, and me, barefoot and pregnant and happily surrounded by fat babies for eternity. I had looked no further.

And then all of the unexpected things started happening. 

The steady jobs didn’t materialize like they were supposed to. The Air Force took us far(ish) away and opened up new doors and new challenges. The house turned into a major remodeling project and the garden into a mud pit. The cat is actually a dog who eats holes in my couch and throws up in my car. And me? Who had I become? I certainly wasn’t barefoot or pregnant or surrounded by babes and their trappings. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make that dream come true. The more I struggled, the more the picture crumbled and I was finally left as I am now: empty and weeping and totally, completely undone.

So what now? I ask myself. What is there to do now? What am I to become in the midst of my shambles? Who shall I be in this strange, unexpected life?

I have focused so hard on the outcomes, the measurable goals and planned future events. And every time I decide, every plan I make, every worry I have morphs suddenly and dramatically into an opposite problem, a totally unexpected decision needing to be made. Not once have things gone as I anticipated. It leaves me shaking and frightened and weak. I’m horribly confused most of the time.

But slowly, slowly the clouds clear. In one tiny space at a time, in one small step after another, I find myself again. Inch by painful, painstaking inch, I am growing.

I am becoming.

I am not who I thought I would be. I am much, much more and I am so very much less than anything I had ever dreamed. This process, this miserable, slow process, with its sudden starts and stops, is what my life is all about. It is about becoming. And I've finally realized that it’s not what I become that matters, but who. Whoever I am meant to be, I will not stop until I have become her. And as the next day comes and the next curve in the road arrives, I will become her all over again.

Image by d'arcy benincosa

Thursday, February 20, 2014

{on worry}

These months leading up to the deployment are hard. Right now the deployment is "certain" with a huge dose of uncertainty. The timeline keeps changing, there is a training possibility that means the deployment could be cancelled last minute and P would go elsewhere, there are fertility and adoption issues to consider and living situations to think about. And no decisions can be made without knowing the info that the AF just won't tell us yet! 
There is just so.much.waiting.
And in the midst of the waiting is the enormous pressure to worry. In my attempts to stay calm and not stress I feel like my life has been a constant cycle of yoga, bubble bath, long walk, prayer, repeat. I'm doing everything I know to keep the stress at bay and yet I still see signs of it in my body, in my face. I wake up from hectic dreams and find myself gritting my teeth until my jaw aches. I have moments of overwhelming fear and feel myself teeter on the brink of falling apart.
And yet, amid the stress and worry, I am given gentle reminders of the Lord's presence with me, of His hand guiding us gently and lovingly through this process. In this period of waiting there is fear and trepidation, but there is also comfort and confidence that His plans will ultimately succeed. I cling ferociously to His unceasing love. I remind myself daily that feelings are fleeting and temporary things. I will not feel this forever, I will not wait forever. Days pass slowly, but they always, always pass. 
It's obviously not good for me to be stressed. Thus the bubble baths, the yoga, the calming teas and the time I'm trying to spend in nature every day. I'm avoiding grains and sugars and chemicals and trying to give my mind and body every chance to cope with the stress.
But this period, however difficult or painful, is good for me, too. It is good for me to wait. And I will find joy in the waiting: I will battle worry and learn a deeper, sweeter form of trust. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Deployment Gear

We're starting to gear up for the deployment. Phillip is starting to gather up his uniforms and start to prep his stuff. So I figured while he is busy buying new camo and stacking up MRE's, I'd gear up too!
I absolutely love the stuff for sale over on At Ease Designs! I put all four of these shirts in my cart and am still trying to narrow it down to a reasonable number! Which one would you choose? I wear a medium, just in case you were wondering!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

For the love of {icy blue}

Normally in the winter I am all about bright, warm hues to bring life and heat back into the cold, dreary world. I crave bold colors and rich textures and warmth. But sometimes you just have to embrace the cold and take your inspiration from what's going on outside you. Find your hues in the snow and ice and pale wintry skies. I'm majorly inspired by this icy blue, aren't you?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

{a simplified list of things to do in an empty house}

I spent most of the evening alone tonight. My husband went to a basketball game with some kids from youth group and he didn't get home until 11. And as I sat here and wondered what to do with a totally empty house, I started to make a list. A hopefully long, interesting list of things to do with myself in an empty house.

See, in a little while my husband will be deploying for about six months. And I'm starting to try to prepare myself. I'm starting to think about it every day. To (perhaps) gently cry myself to sleep every night when I snuggle down and start to think about those long nights without him by my side. To prepare my heart, my house, my mind and plans and goals for those slightly lonely months.

So tonight I decided to start preparing. I hope to add, and add, and add to this list. And I hope to check off these items, one at at time, until he's home with me again. Rather than always feeling sorry for myself and bored with myself, I'll tackle one item on the list. I'm sure I'll do some of them many, many times. And others probably not at all. I'm giving myself room on the list to grieve, to eat my feelings, to party and dance and celebrate and cry. Because those are all big parts of life. And my life will go on, even if my whole heart is far, far away.

Things to do when alone in the house:
  • Bake something challenging
  • Sew
  • Craft
  • Work out
  • Have a solo dance party
  • Sing badly
  • Learn to play piano
  • Make a phone call
  • Clean something
  • Take a bath
  • Read
  • Eat ice-cream sundaes (or other forms of chocolate)
  • Watch TV
  • Read my Bible
  • Go for a walk
  • Play with the dog
  • Write a story, poem, blog post, song, article
  • Write a letter, thank you note, encouraging note
  • Find out about a worthy cause
  • Pray for others
  • Pack up a fabulous care package and mail it
  • Organize something
  • Plan meals
  • Plan and accomplish random acts of kindness
  • Read up on an interesting subject, like politics or another country
  • Learn a new language
  • Do yoga, or find a yoga class
  • Iron something
  • Learn to cook something new
  • Yard work
  • Plant something
  • Paint something
  • Make hot chocolate from scratch
  • Draw
  • Get rid of useless junk
  • Go to the gym
  • Journal
  • Play a computer game/video game
  • Drink tea
  • Make moodboards and collages
  • Shop online for fabulous, overpriced objects
  • Take a nap
  • Listen to loud music
  • Drink wine
  • Have a long, satisfying cry 
  • Trim the rosebushes
  • Pull weeds
  • Pick up dog poop in the yard
  • Read the classifieds on Craigslist
  • Puzzles
  • Throw a party

 What would you add to the list?