Days of Fall

I keep waiting for Fall.

The real Fall.

The 60 degree sunny days where the air blows cool but the sun speaks of heat. The days where sweaters and leggings are a requirement and not just a desire.

It has yet to fully arrive here in Charlotte.

So I chased Fall with Erin on Saturday. We hoped in her black car and headed to the mountains. In that hour and a half ride, we lost 20 degrees of heat. We found rolling hills of trees starting their color change, making the scenery look like a Bob Ross painting. We found misty roads and foggy towns, a need for jackets, scarfs and hot coffee.

We found Fall.

It was an amazing day. One with no agenda, no timeline. On our way home we found ourselves deep in this conversation about why people love Fall. If you think about it, its a bit wild. It’s the season right before a season of death, of lack, of going without. A time when the weather is gloomy, its hours of light are short, and the hours of darkness long. Yet still, Fall is anticipated. It is waited for and celebrated. It is sought out and relished in. It’s not looked upon with fear or trepidation because of what is to come. Few I know hate Fall because it tells of Winter’s arrival, they simply love Fall because it is what is it, in the present. So maybe if we follow nature’s path even the season’s tell us, death is nothing to fear, it is simply is a season, and that although it comes and can be bothersome, being in the present is always worth relishing in.

I didn’t get on here today to just talk about Fall.

Being true to the lack of consistency in which I write, it has been forever since I have sat and put my hands to words. Honestly, I have wondered if it is time to lay down the writing as a whole. When I first began this blog it was really to capture our life with Katie Grace. A way for me to not just share our journey but for me to wear my pain. To creatively express what life was teaching me. Even the years after Katie Grace’s death I had her teaching me, writing her story quite possibly taught me more than living it with her di. This place that I am in now, it’s different or maybe I am different. I have gone back and forth with keeping this little corner of creativity. For the present for the now, I am going to hold onto it. I am not sure what it will become, or what I will become within it but it didn’t seem like it was time just yet to let it go.

Maybe it’s just my Fall before Winter. Maybe I just need to sit and rest in the beauty of the season for what it is, with little concern for what it “needs” to be or “will” be.

Maybe I will just relish in being present in the moment and whatever that creates.

My Best Yes

Charles,

On Sunday it will be 12 years since we said our first “I do.” Do you remember that day? The one where we stood as two practical strangers next to each other, reciting vows we had not written or chosen, not touching because that would make me a Jezebel, not allowed to kiss. I was so scared that day. It wasn’t being married that was scary for me, it was the man who was marrying us I was afraid of. I was scared of not acting correctly. I was scared of getting into trouble. Of saying or doing something that would break some rule that I hadn’t learned yet. Or bring an offense I didn’t know could be an offense. That 26-year-old person pleasing pain-ridden girl just wanted to get through the day and not lose her call from the Lord or the family she believed he had given her.

Our marriage was not going to be our own. The foundation of that had already been put into motion. We were “called” to be something special….something different. It was not going to be typical because “God” was using us to show the world a different thing. At least that is what I was told, so I believed. Man, did I believe it so easily? I just ignored red signs and gut checks until my insides were no longer trustworthy. God hadn’t called us to anything special, we were purely pawns in another man’s broken game of life. Objects he used to control and manipulate to bring I don’t even know what to his life. The purpose of his deception to this day is beyond my understanding. I have thoughts and guesses but his dysfunction and brokenness are his, his why never shared.

You didn’t buy it. Although deeply entrenched into the deception, you couldn’t really believe what you were hearing. The rules that you had to walk in order to even be called husband were so outlandish, your heart couldn’t settle on it. Man, you battled. Struggled to get “on board” but in the end, you couldn’t. There was too much truth inside of you. Too much intuitive knowledge of who God was and the rules simply became too much….too far. So you fought. First, you fought yourself…finding the peace that what you were intuiting was right. Then you fought the Lord, imploring him for revelation and understanding, and when you had it….you fought the family. It wasn’t your heart to fight, you wanted them to see what you saw so that they might have the freedom you found. You actually fought for them. It was never painted that way. You were always the enemy. Your revelation demonic and your heart good but misguided.

Of course, I didn’t know any of that because we weren’t really allowed to talk. The private conversation of a husband and wife were not a luxury we had. Connecting at the end of the day about the day’s happening, not an experience allowed us. I was allowed to wash your clothes, serve the family, and at some point bear your children. Those were my allowances within the realm of our “called” relationship, our “set apart” marriage.

It took you a year and a half after the day we said “I do” to get me away. You stayed and fought harder then anyone has ever fought for me. You took a heavy a burden until I was ready to leave and even then the leaving was a hot frickin mess. I technically never left the family, I left you. Funny thing though, they never pursued me. They hide me from you. They supported my leaving you. They used me as a way to get to you. But the minute they knew you were not going back to them all of sudden I was wrong. Wrong for leaving, wrong for staying away, and they could no longer support me. You pursed me though. You stayed in contact. Trusting when you shouldn’t have been. Giving when you didn’t have it to give.

I can’t believe that was 12 years ago. It’s wild to me how much we both honored that yes. That yes in the mess that we were living. How easily we could have chalked it up to a mistake and walked away from each other. Yet we stayed together. Was it because we had Isaac? Or because we had an insane story? I don’t know. It wasn’t like our marriage after we left was a cake walk.

Now no longer afraid of someone outside of the marriage, I realized how afraid of marriage I was. I went into like a cat goes into a bath. Claws out ready to fight all the time. Every wound of every man that I had not healed from or released became a wall between you and me. Every fight I would unload the pain of their choices upon you. One of your greatest fears, to be punished for something you didn’t do.

It was a vice-a-versa, you would sling at me the wounds of your youth. The wounds of others that had been etched on your heart were arrows used to shoot at me, creating this space in which I would never be enough. One of my greatest fears.

Funny how an intimate relationship does that.

We made it though. We fought with each other and at some point, we started to fight for each other. We stepped into marriage counseling for 2 years, learning how to listen to each other, coming to peace with our individual pain and how it shows up in our relationship. I will forever say, even when you roll your eyes, that is the only threesome I will ever do or encourage someone to do. Husband, wife, marriage counselor.

Marriage counseling didn’t save us, it just gave us tools. You see babe, as I look back on it. We were always for each other. It’s like in that crazy mess that was the beginning of us, we were each other’s best allies, although that is not what it looked like on the outside. Or what that man wanted us to be. He actually fought hard for us to never be in each other corners. Yet, here we are 12 years later, and I have never been more committed to someone’s corner then yours. I have never loved another soul the way I love you. I haven’t understood love from another the way I understand love from you. There are parts of my heart and soul that I was sure I would never share because it was too tender, yet they lay before you on a continual basis.

And you with me. There are places you let me that I know none have gone before me. There are entrusted stories, dreams, desires, thoughts, that are shared only with me. You have embraced your emotions, you let them out and you let me in. You model them for our son. We were a team forged in the fire of pain, deception, and manipulation. Instead of fighting the fire, we leaned into it. We let the flames burn away the imperfections, we let the heat melt us down to a liquid, and as we were poured into the mold of life, we became one.

Not the one of sameness, where we think the same, believe the same, or would even do life the same. Not that becoming one but the becoming one where we have respect, grace, and understanding for the differences. Where we give space for our individual journeys, where we give room for pain to breathe, where we give time all that the minutes it demands.

This weekend we are stealing away to have all the private conversations that husbands and wives have. To have unadulterated adult time, doing whatever it is our heart’s desire to do. There is no plan, no daily agenda. Just you and me.

You were my best yes 12 years ago when I had no idea who you were.

You are my best yes today when I have a well-rounded clear picture of who you.

You will be my best yes always.

Love you babe,

Katie

P.S. I would change one thing about our wedding day. The date. Mother’s Day weekend is simply not the best weekend to get married. Hotel prices go up, restaurants are busy. It’s a whole thing. We should just let mother’s have those weekends. 😉

Somewhere between Traditional and Progressive

Hi!

Sorry, it’s been awhile. Life has been full of transitions and new. I am sure an update as to how our move to Charlotte has gone is more than due. To be honest, there isn’t very much to write about it. It went as well as a move could go. What is it like being in Charlotte? It’s different. It’s new. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, overall it’s just good. Isaac is thriving in his new school. Thriving in a way I hadn’t yet experienced with him and school. He is embracing this drive to do well in his academics, that’s kind of a first and amazing to see. Charles and I are doing well. Actually, we are kind of killing that married life as we lean into the ebb and flow of this new life. Generally, overall, we are just good.

Now that we are caught up, I have to admit I find myself a bit grumbly this morning. Not really irritated and kind of a little bit irritated. Irritated seems like such a strong word for what I am feeling….maybe I am more discontented. I don’t even know if that word works. Maybe…maybe I am just…..

Struggling.

That’s the best word. We are in search of a church once again. Weekly I find myself scrolling through the internet, finding churches, reading reviews, looking at locations, scanning websites trying to catch the heart of a place within the black words written across their white and colorful sites. Each week, I find myself more disenchanted then the week before. Less than excited to get up on a Sunday, get everybody ready and once again walk through the doors to be the new people. New to their systems, new to their culture, new to their atmosphere. Always wondering how Isaac is doing being the new kid in class, again. Even though he has got it kind of down to an art form, I hear questions/comments from him that he too is struggling. Can we come back to this church? What did you think of that one? Do we have to go to a new church? I liked that church.

Struggling.

I used to think it was that kind of simple. You know that I just liked it so I attend kind of simple. However, I don’t believe it works that way anymore. Atlanta woke me up. God reached into my boxed world, erased some stark, harshly drawn lines that constructed this “simple” Christianity and I know more now than ever, I see that it isn’t that simple. It’s like deciding to cut your hair, you know you think it will grow back, it’s easy. That is until you are growing it back and it hits all kind of various short and medium stages that remind you why you don’t ever cut your hair. You have that stage where it’s too short to put up and too long to not stay in your face. If you wear it up, you have to use copious amounts of bobby pins to keep all the stray pieces of hair from falling. If you keep it down it falls in your face, consistently demanding your attention. The evolution of growth is not as simple as we like to think it is. It isn’t boxed, there aren’t harshly drawn lines that clearly show the path. It’s messy, with lots of questions, and lack of understanding. To be honest, lots of time it leaves you standing somewhere struggling to put bobby pins into your life to hold the pieces of it together wondering what I am going to do with this in this stage.

Struggling.

I don’t know if I fit into a traditional church anymore. I know too much. I see too much. I question too much. I mean could I sit, listen and quietly agree to disagree every Sunday. I could. I also don’t know that I fit in a progressive church either. I am still walking my path, coming into my own beliefs and understandings. I mean could I sit, listen and quietly agree to disagree every Sunday. I could. It just seems as I face the week searching, I am faced with these two choices only. Maybe in the most childish places of my heart, I want to find a church that is evolving. That is walking the same path I am. That is full of people who are discovering their own trail. I want to find a place that isn’t as full of answers as they are full of questions. People who are open to understanding that the evolution of growth isn’t simple. It’s not drawn with harsh, clear lines that define your pathway. It’s lineless, open to letting your feet wonder out to touch others path’s who are near you but not yours. It allows you to pull from others journey, to see another way, examining where that way fits in the journey you are on. The journey, you are the Lord are consistently in connection about. It kind of demands for individuality, humility, the art of learning, and discovering. It requires bravery and the freedom to let go. In the childish places of my heart, I want to find a place that can hold tradition and embrace evolution.

Maybe I am asking for a utopia.

I don’t know.

I just realized this post won’t end with a resolve. There will be no nice wrap up to this struggle. I will question putting it out there, sharing with the world, letting them into my grumble. Then again, maybe I wrote this for those who are in the same place I am. For those who are looking for a utopia, who are evolving and longing for tradition all at the same time. If that is you, you aren’t alone. We are out here. Finding our path. Making peace with the evolution of growth.

Struggling.

20 Years

It has been 20 years to the year since Charles left Charlotte, NC. It was the only place he had ever called home. He was 17 when he left, eager to pursue the things he believed the Lord had put in front of him and a little bit running from the demon’s that seemed to haunt him there. It’s a whole long story, that all accumulates up to this, he left and he never wanted to go back. Although Charlotte has held his family, his history, and his memories, he has never wanted to return. Even as we have spent more time there over holidays and just visits with the family, we would breathe a sigh of relief as we drove down the 85, excited to get back to Atlanta.

Then something happened.

It was magical. That kind of electric magic that makes you believe in unicorns and leprechauns at the end of rainbows kind of magic.

We took a walk one morning around his sisters’ neighborhood. Hand in hand we ambled and talked inhaling the cool foggy air, admiring the fall colors still holding on the tree branches that begged to be rid of them. As we strolled into the cul-de-sac and started to turn around, I looked up at Charles and said:

“You know if the Lord asked us to move here I wouldn’t be against it.”

Everything came to a standstill.

“What?” Charles responded

“I would be willing to move here,” I repeated myself

Seconds passed even the air didn’t seem to move.

“Me too,” he replied

“What?” I said stunned

That’s when I felt it. An electric current that started to pulse between our entwined hands.

“What are you saying?….. Wait……What are we saying?”

That was it. That was the moment we knew, we were moving to Charlotte.

We spent the rest of the day and the next processing. Talking with each other, talking with Isaac, talking with family and friends.

There were quite a few things we needed to fall into place to make this move happen and they have. The provision, job, housing…all of it. So here we are two weeks away from our move.

We have been letting go of stuff, packing things, organizing things, preparing for this next journey we never considered.

I think I have also been grieving. You see Atlanta was going to be my forever place. I had resolved once the Lord moved me here I was not going to leave. I was going to raise Isaac here and he would raise his kids here, or at least they would visit us here. It’s just what it was going to be. We knew when we left Atlanta years ago to move to California we would move back. We just always knew. I guess my knowing stopped there and I never considered anywhere else.

I am going to miss it. Atlanta that is. Or at least I am going to miss what I thought it was. Which if you want to read about that, I wrote all about it here https://ourhighwayfive.com/2016/02/25/home-2/ when we first moved and I was sure it was forever. I etched vows into my heart about this city. I created a construct in which the only world my life existed was one that involved Atlanta. Funny huh, to hear about me boxing my life into some neat tidy lines. Sounds so unlike me…..*read sarcasm.

That isn’t what life is always about though. We don’t always get these neat lines of construct that hold our whole world. I should understand that by now. Well maybe I do, and maybe that’s why when that magical electric moment hit….I said yes. Maybe that’s why my yes hasn’t come with kicking or screaming, it has simply come with a, I trust you, Lord. I trust who you made me. I trust our relationship. Maybe even though I still have these boxes, these constructs, I am better breaking them down. Better at letting them be revealed, better at looking at them, and better at throwing them out once broken down.

Not to say I haven’t had a million moments of WTF Jesus. I am moving to a place I never considered, to live a life I have no idea about. Everything is new. I have no vision for what it would or could look like. I have been insecure, without understanding, and overwhelmed. I also have been more excited and felt more alive in what has seemed like a while. Guess breaking down those boxes isn’t so bad after all.

I am excited to live near Charles family….to have Isaac grow up with cousins, aunts, uncles, and PawPaw. I am excited for him to hear the stories and see the places his dad grew up, for their childhoods to intersect. I am elated for Charles to be able to go back to the place he ran from and live. I am excited for the hope of a full circle.

We are moving to Charlotte and that is about all we know these days.

Grief Roulette

Today was the day 4 years ago that the doctors told us that Katie Grace was dying. I know this day is coming every year. I know what putting her to bed each night wondering if we were going to have her in the morning felt like. I know what it was like holing up in the house trying to soak in every minute of every day you had. I know what it’s like to just sit and hold your child trying to make the next 72 hours last a lifetime. I know what it was like to know she was done. I know when she breathed her last breath and what I felt when she died. What I don’t ever know is what I am going to feel each year when this time comes around. Death is simple, its grief that is more complex. It’s like a roulette wheel, you just don’t know where the ball of emotion is going to land.

In the first years of grieving, I think I wanted a timeline. A structure in which I could expect something. In true to me form, I wanted boxes in which I could check off the grief process. I wasn’t aware that I wanted that but I did. It wasn’t that way when I was logically looking at death. I knew Katie Grace was going to die at some point, I was intentional about my heart and emotions when it came to death but you see I was looking at just death. I didn’t consider that grief was a whole other beast. I did not give grief the respect that it quite possibly deserves.

Today as I write this I think I might finally begin to grasp the respect that it deserves.

You see this year I am not looking at myself to define the emotions of the next couple of days. I am not trying to box myself with expectations of what year four should look like. I am not analyzing the time passed and declaring I am here this year. Instead, I am looking at the roulette wheel of grief. I am watching the ball spin around and giving it the space it needs. I am not placing my hands on it or willing it or hoping. I am simply watching it. I guess you could say I am trusting grief. Not because I understand or have any form of control but because I respect it.

My mom and I call grief “a sneaky bitch”, it’s our inside joke whenever we are processing and need a good laugh in the middle of our tears. We joke about how it sneaks in at sometimes the most inopportune times, like when you are telling a story you have told a thousand different times but this time randomly leaves you in tears. Or when someone asks if I just have the one child and asks don’t I want more and I can’t laugh it off; instead the tears just fall. Or when Isaac comes home from school emotionally exhausted and it boils down to he misses his sister. Or how randomly you remember you should have an 8-year-old and you don’t and the overwhelming sadness makes you catch your breath. Grief, its sneaky like that. Also, it’s true. A kinder way of saying that, is grief is a mystery, a roulette wheel. It is as I am learning necessary, important, and valuable to respect. I most likely won’t ever understand it. I won’t be able to box it or capture it. I simply will be able to respect it and that matter-of-factly is enough.

I scrolled TimeHop today and the images I captured and words I penned fell before my eyes. I didn’t cry. I didn’t mourn. I missed. I loved. I appreciated. I don’t know if I will feel the same way tomorrow morning when I repeat the process. Or the next day. Or the next. I don’t know how or what I will feel on the 1st when we wake up in 2019 and will we know that this is the day we said goodbye 4 years ago. I don’t have any expectations or preferences. I am just simply standing in front of the roulette wheel at peace, respecting grief…..trusting it.

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