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Skeletons in the Suitcase

Most of you know, I recently got back from a trip to Washington. I flew down to visit some family as they dealt with various health concerns. Life sure does not become simpler as you age, teenage me did not know what she was wishing for.

The last several weeks months have been messy and full of new and less-than-exciting challenges, I have been stretched and tested in new ways. Then, as often happens, I find the growth too. I find the growth in remembering what is good, the structure that holds me up.

I got to visit with my mom, dad, and sister in a rare interruption-free environment. Life right now is a gaggle of children; it is noisy and the time can seldom be pinned down long enough for heart-felt conversations. We have moments that we cherish and I enjoy so deeply, I love raising kids around cousins, and the adventures they experience together. I love being part of the celebration of life, joyfully tumbling out of their mouths. There is so much beauty in all of that, but there was restoration in connecting with my roots.

The original nuclear family of my memory has been scattered for a decade now; one sister in heaven, and the rest of us married with families of our own. We live around each other, we see each other regularly, and we hear each other when possible, over the roar of life’s distractions.

The calmness of that weekend helped remind me where I came from, the things about my family that I love, the things that challenge me, and all of it that has made me who I am today.

The writing comes from them. It was my outlet as the 4th girl in a home awash with emotions, there wasn’t always room for another voice and so I turned to the scritching of a pen on paper.

The balanced optimism comes from them, because I was always taught to look at things from different angles, those of my friends, and through the lens of Heaven.

I remember certain idioms from my father that I find tumbling out of my mouth as I give advice to children or friends. I remember the value placed on time and the understanding of our worth.

“It takes less time to slow down and do it right the first time than it will take do it over.”

I am uncertain whether or not all my family members received these quotes as often as I did, or if my dad was speaking specifically to the girl with a tendency to dream bigger than her means, bigger than the moment at hand. My parents taught me to look for the needs in front of me, they taught me kindness and hospitality and to care for my neighbor with grace.

I think of them often as I stare at all the atrocities in our world and find myself fizzling out, helpless in the desire to defend every cause at once. There are so many worthy causes demanding our time, but I’m useless to all of them when I am stretched in a hundred ways. They taught me to look for the cause in my path and do that well.

Overtime, with practice and prayer my limitations will grow and my path can expand.

“Inch by Inch, Life is a Cinch. Yard by Yard, Life is hard.”

I got to remember who I was before I was mom. To hold the pieces of that girl in my hand and see all that I have walked through and all the wonder I witness now.

After my time with them, I traveled on to see my mother-in-love and to attempt to support her through her own crisis. I told you, life is crazy right now.

My husband and I were married quickly, less than a year after meeting, and we had our first child approximately one year and nine months after that. We have moved through these stages quickly, with honest conversation, and the understanding that we are always going to have more to learn about each other. Our Pre-marital counselor even told us that we had a leg up on some level, we had no illusion that we knew everything about each other walking in. It was an act of faith and love, it still is. Welcome to marriage.

With the rapid nature of our relationship, however, I haven’t had many one on one moments with his mom. It is usually time spent in a home filled to the brim for the holidays and there is little time to sit and hear each other’s stories. I got to hear hers, her tender heart poured out and to understand more about the shape of my husband’s life in the process.

I get to see him in snippets as our son runs around with the same determination and attention to detail that can be equally endearing and irksome, in both of them.

I got a glimpse of the structure that grew him and a chance to think carefully about the structure that we are creating, the bones that are building up our kids. I tucked those thoughts into the suitcase as I left, and came home ready to dig into time with my family.

As it turns out, my children did wonderfully while I was away and when I was back…it was time to unleash all the pent up emotion. This is good, I know that. I’m their safe place and sounding board. I get the hard emotions and meltdowns. It’s part of my job and I am thankful for it, even when it is exhausting.

Thank goodness, my husband is a clean man and welcomed me back to a peaceful home. I was able to spend the next few days focusing on relationship building and making up for lost time. I pulled out the other skeletons tucked in the suitcase, these dinosaur gifts from Nanna, and built them together.

We have a book by Louie Giglio, Indescribable. In this book he teaches Faith-based Science and one of our favorite pages is about The Bones of Faith. The building blocks of our Christian life; prayer, scripture,fellowship, worship. I love it for the message, my children just think the skeleton drawing is cool, and I work with what I can. We can patch together this Styracosaurus and Brontosaurus while we spend time together and talk about Jesus.

We can pack up all the skeletons in our suitcase and take them to the next destination, because there are always lessons to be learned from those foundations.


Published by faithlikefireweed

I am a wife and mother in the Great state of Alaska. I write about faith, food, and family, and finding extravagant grace in simple living.

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