Shoulders’ Song

Posted by jael on Jul 5, 2011 in Marriage, Spiritual Journey

Dear, kind, shoulders…

I continue to be humbled and grateful for your prayers, messages, calls and words of encouragement as our family navigates this transition.

I thought it appropriate to publish a couple of the messages to document the power of community in action.

These words archive more than specific meditations to our family, these words sing their own Praise about how much we impact each other in the Body.

I am beyond grateful and weep with joy under the luxurious canopy of His scandalous Grace.

Unlike a four-poster bed, however, His Grace falls down to blanket all and everywhere.


Blessed are the hearts that proclaim God is Lord!

Is anyone thirsty?
Drink freely of the Water of Life.


Thank you for reaching out to me. I know these things are never easy to
discuss and trust me since hearing about this move, my responses (and
The Wife’s) have been widely varied. I will start by saying I have learned
long ago that I cannot speak for my wife, so I will preface this by saying
these are my thoughts.

Getting to know your family has been one of the most amazing
experiences our family has undergone. There are times I wonder if we could
have ever made it without you guys. Be it advice on a baby that spits up all
of his milk the first six months as parents, or a frosty rescue mission when
Virginia turned into Alaska. The friendship that has developed between our
wives is truly remarkable.

My wife is often teased about her “Black hole”
guarding her not letting anyone in. Though this is just teasing and I do not
believe it, she can have a rough exterior at first. Somehow Jael tore that
completely down. The two of them share something, be it a bond between two
mothers or what I am not sure. Whatever it is, I know she is a better person
because of her. Our family is a better family because of yours.
The biggest pain of the entire situation is our boy. He will be losing
a world of his, and be suffering his first big heartbreak. I will admit as
you probably know already, that is heart-wrenching to watch as a parent.

I am also a better person from knowing your family. Through your
guidance I am a much better father than I ever thought I would be. I never
had a father influence. I didn’t have a role model as a dad to see know how
I would be a father when I grew up. Because of this I have always kind of
watched other families and dads and even men I have known.
Your family is the best role model on how to parent your children. For that I am grateful.
I am afraid that the relationship between you and I may have been paved with
good intentions. We still need to make it out to get a bucket of slop. I
have meant to get tickets to a basketball game to have a guys night out,
but before I knew it the season was over. Both of us have been extremely
busy. I think we could have gotten closer and you never know we may still.

The thought that has been returning into my brain during these last
few weeks is the famous saying, and I am paraphrasing:

Give me the strength
to change the things I can,
the patience to handle the things I can’t
and the wisdom to know the difference.

This was your decision, and it was between you and your family. As close as our families have become, we cannot affect this outcome.

I understand that this is quite an opportunity for you. If I have heard right, it more than just a J-O-B.

Though I am still unsure if we can completely give our blessing. For now I can say:

I cannot be happy with this.
I can begrudgingly accept this.
But I can understand this.

I will also say that you cannot get rid of us just by moving four states away from us.

I can guarantee pictures, e-mails and letters. Maybe even


Our families have come too close to simply allow them to fade away

from each other.

Thanks and good luck

Jael, we love you and your family so. I told The Boy that the only difference between living in Here and There is physical distance. We’re still his “Peeps” wherever he may be.

In this age, with email, testing Facebook Gmail chat …..

We can be there for each other.

Love you!

(Please pray for peace in our hearts here. It’s so stressful and perspective is everything. )

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah




Guest Post: The Husband ~ July 1

Posted by jael on Jul 1, 2011 in Marriage, Spiritual Journey

Yo, man. I need to tell you guys, I’m sorry. I’m taking Jael away from Town. I have a professional opportunity that I’ll never have again, and I’m going for it. The consequences are many.

I take my kids from their friends. This is big. They have friends, The Middle Girl especially, like I’ve never had friends. I know they’ll adjust and make new friends. Kids are quick to adapt.

I take Jael from her friends. This is bigger. She has friendships here that are deeper than any she has known previously, you all included. That’s ok too, because Jael is most committed to her husband and her family. At *great* personal cost, she has accepted that this is what we need to do as a family. She may never have friends as sweet, or students she is as invested in as B and young Q. She is *trying* to accept this, and is fairly struggling.

What I have a hard time reconciling is: I take from this fair city, my wife. Those friends of Jael are loosing something too.

My wife is amazing. As a person, she loves so deeply, so genuinely, so uniquely. I know, without hubris, that I take from the city I love, Jael, the likes of which may never cross its path again. Specifically, she is an educator and caregiver to your children. She is a friend to those adults who didn’t think people could love them the way they loved others. This is big. I know what I take. I take from you dear friends a Sister and caregiver that will *not* be easily replaced.

I’m sorry for that. Truly. I’ve struggled with this choice for a while. I know what I take from those who know Jael. I have to, though; I have to choose what’s best for my family. If it weren’t a once in a lifetime opportunity, I wouldn’t consider it. Please understand that.

I don’t ask for forgiveness, I only seek to give context. These choices were not made lightly. Every choice has costs. I do ask that you know that the overriding force of this decision is me. I seek what’s best for me & mine. Please, don’t credit my wife with that burden. I hope you families love her and our kids as much as ever.

I love you guys, and wish you the *very* best in this life and all that comes.


The Husband

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah



Posted by jael on May 20, 2011 in Marriage, Parenting, Spiritual Journey

The irony that I received a fabulous, bh subscribe feature for Mother’s Day and then failed to post new content this week is not lost on me.

Generally speaking, I am a big fan of irony.

I love whimsy and appreciate the unexpected in art and film.

It’s the unexpected in life that toggles my gag reflex and that has been our recent family fare.

I’ve simply had no appetite to write about the specifics.

My processing light blinks like crazy as I digest this download.

In the expanse, my children have been the fountains of creation.

It’s May after all… and my hyper-tasked tots have managed multiple due dates for projects far beyond the scope of anything I did before high school.

There has been a research papers on pediatric insomnia, an interactive sleep clinic presentation and two spring plays; Oh my!

There have been short stories, diary entries, and Geometry quizzes; Oh my!

There has been the construction of a scale model of the Golden Temple, a prayer book and a score of testing; Oh my!

There  have been soccer try-outs, fencing lessons, and soccer games; Oh my!

There have been birthday parties, jammie-jams and whipped cream shooters; Oh my!

There is also a lockbox on my front door.

Amid the warp speed of the year end’s close, we risk a new beginning in another place.

There have also been fights, tears and house showings; Oh my!

There have also been Family Meetings, discussions with heads of schools, and heart-to-hearts with friends and family; Oh my!

There have also been plans, revisions of plans and uncertainty; Oh my!

Did I mention The Husband is out of town for two weeks; Oh my!

The irony is that I have never been more busy, nor felt like I have less to say.

This is my be quiet time.

This is my time to Trust and Obey.

This is my season to wait in the shelter of His wing and know He does all things for my good.

This hour paints the sunset of how I feel against the majestic Glory of  His ever, certain Presence.

As my family straddles the end of one school year and does not know where we will begin the next, I stand in a cold uncertainty so outside my comfort zone that it freezes my thoughts like frost on citrus and I seek just one face.

I seek My Father.

I seek His will alone.

The Sun also rises.

I will dance in His presence where ever He places me.

I will Trust.

I will Obey.

I will Sing Him Praise.

And if my voice is wet, my nose is thick, and tune is uncertain, I will still sing.

I will still Praise His Name.


Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah


Bitter’s Edge

Posted by jael on May 4, 2011 in Marriage, Spiritual Journey

Yesterday, I found within me a sharp so bitter it could twain my marriage and dismember a family.

In one gestalt twist of grievance, I realized I had the capacity to cut relationship with the detached precision of a pathologist.

My scalpel tongue gleaned against my clenched jaw in clinical consideration of the Y Cut as The Husband and I hit the first immutable impasse of our marriage like a hearse.

It was entirely mutual.

The smell of potential decay cleaved in my nostrils like carrion.

I stood in the rigor mortis of that moment and knew I had to yield or the damage I would do to my marriage would be irreparable.

My pulse races now even to reconsider how concrete was that tomb.

An expansive, vile id lurked inside me like a dark mine ready to deploy.

The Prince of Peace lives there inside me too.

It was the moment just before the moment too late.

It was taught, tight tension as sharp as a guillotine.

It was entirely mutual.

I bit my tongue hard enough to taste salt.
I drew in Light.
I put down being right.
I put away I don’t want to.
I shelved blame.
Through Grace,
by His strength alone
I chose Love.

Mercy pardoned us as we forgave each other the trespasses against us.

Is more important to me than this marriage, this family and a life together.

If this is giving up, well then I’m giving up.

I think, however, this is what it means to Trust and Obey.

We are both entirely humbled we got to that raw moment, however, we are saved because we had the Freedom to choose each other anew.

And finally, in a way I have been unable and unwilling to before yesterday, I am ready to walk that Call out in my marriage.

And if this is giving up, well then, I’m giving up, because I won’t give up on Love.

Love wins.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah



Posted by jael on Apr 15, 2011 in Marriage, Parenting, Spiritual Journey

Being away from home last week allowed me to appreciate things about our home that I don’t always attend to during the normal rhythm.

We stayed at The Husband’s brother’s house for 8 nights.

He and his family could not have been more accommodating or welcoming.

In fact, The Boy wanted to take Auntie D home.

Their gracious hospitality aside, what I missed most about our home being in our own space.

I missed being able to go to the ‘frig in the middle of the night in my underwear and drink from the milk carton.

I missed having room to spread out my toothbrush and face lotion.

I missed the kids knowing where find things without help.

I missed missed wiping the kitchen counters.

I missed eating as little or as often as I liked.

I missed my laminator.

I missed The Husband being able to sleep through the night.

I missed decompressing the day with the kids while setting the table and boiling pasta.

I missed shoes in cubbies or closets.

I missed the simple routines that makes our house a home.

I missed our night-night song.

I missed the simple comfort of comfort.

I missed the hills of Charlottesville enshrouded by our blanket of community.

I missed home.

I love our home.

I love our babies.

I love our babies in our home.

I love being in our bed in The Husband’s arms.

I am so grateful to be home.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!


Extended Family Lens

Posted by jael on Apr 2, 2011 in Marriage, Parenting

My family safely arrived in Florida despite tornado-related flight delays.

As I previously mentioned the postponement, I offer the tornado context with humility.

I wonder if I would have been able to hang on to my happy Zen with the same gracious grip had I known we were flying into tornado warnings.

There were enough generational allusions to the Wizard of Oz that we had to agree to, “Stop it already, my little pretty.”

We hit Fort Meyers late with a robust agenda for the evening and next day, so our initial entry into the area felt more like work than vacation.

Today we slept in and woke up to sunshine and vacation.

It was a pancake morning and afterward the kids poured into the pool like maple syrup.

They swam like giggling porpoises in an eighty-degree pool, jumping from the steaming hot tub back to the pool as I left for a long run.

The time alone gave me time to filter recent experience.

It occurred to me that this visit with extended family is much like going to the ophthalmologist.

You know that part of the exam when the doctor puts that big, metal mask in front of your face and each time he adjusts the lens she asks you, “Which is better, 1 or 2?”

The beauty of family, of course, is that there is no exact prescription. You don’t have to walk out the door with one pair of glasses.

Like the best of buffets, we get to love and be loved by everyone.

The versatility of our family allows us to benefit from seeing our children from the unique lens of their love.

Each of the family members who love our babies helps us see them in a different way:

D: Their D honors this season in our lives. Her children are now grown, and when her eyes light our babies, they magnify the honor we have been given to have this season with these little people and be their parents.

Uncle T: The Baby couldn’t wait to get to Uncle T’s house, because his eyes sees each of our children as individuals of incredible potential. His perspective helps us appreciate the enormity of their futures, an easy thing for us to lose sight of when buried in laundry and bills.

G: One of D’s adult daughters, I see The Oldest Girl’s face when she looks at my girls. Her lens of love for her mother is entirely unconditional, and I am filled with wonder to imagine what our relationships with our children will be when they are adults.

Pappaw: Pappaw’s eyes have the steady gaze of a patriarch. They are our earthly lens of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Mamma-in-Law: Her eyes are like baptism. Her gaze renews our sense of wonderi.

Tia: Tia’s love endures and stands watch over our babies like a sentry. She helps us guard what is most important.

L: L’s eyes connect us to the simple delight of reunion. As much one of us as one of our own, she helps us see who we are as a family.

The members of our extended family help us see the gifts of our nuclear family more clearly and we are grateful for their lenses.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah



Posted by jael on Mar 27, 2011 in Marriage, Parenting

It’s only a matter of time before it happens.

It might be in a tweet.

Or an email to one of the kids’ teachers.

Or at the end of a post.

Or in a comment on another writer’s blog.

Or in a memo to parents.

Or in a letter note to the pastor

Most likely it will be in a text.

Yeah, that’s the most likely, in a text, and without appropriate relational context, like to a parent of a kid spending the night over with one of mine.

It’s really a more a question of when, not if.

Cuz I’m the mother who already accidentally hit Reply All instead of Reply and thanked The Husband, “For the most sweet and gentle of kisses,” to all the parents in The Boy’s then third-grade class.

And I’m the mother who drove to the wrong soccer field twice in the same week.

I’m also the mom who misquotes her own children’s birth dates at the doctors office.

So, now that I have adopted the “xoxo” as part of my email closing to intimates, it’s simply a matter of time.

In order to save time, may I preemptively say:

xoxo to the kids’ principal.
xoxo to the lawn care service that sent us a job quote.
xoxo to the mom who wrote for help with the fencing car pool.
xoxo to the volunteer coordinator.
xoxo to the grocery store credit card slip.
xoxo on the kindergartener’s reading log.
xoxo on the field trip permission form.
xoxo on the Friday folder.


And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!


Our Bed

Posted by jael on Mar 25, 2011 in Marriage, Spiritual Journey

The bed where my husband and I slumber seems to time travel and space shift.

There are nights it seems as small as a postage stamp and others when it feels as wide as an ocean.

Naturally, the number of people that camp in our bed, and how we feel about each other at the time, directly impacts our perceptions of our bed’s size.

There was a time it was the sweetest of play mats, and just married we were like delighted kids with new toys on Christmas morning.

Our bed can be telephone booth cozy, the only place of refuge we can talk alone without the kids.

We’ve knelt beside it to pray.

It’s where we brought our babies home from the hospital to nest.

Our bed was also the ground where upon we grieved the babies we lost.

It has taken more than one tour as a sick bed for each of us.

Sick people camp out in our bed.

In it we’ve collectively recovered from ten surgeries and more tummy bugs than we care to count.

Sad children turn to our bed.

Frighten children snuggle in our bed.

Heart broken children cry in our bed.

Our bed makes a big nest for snuggle time and reading books.

It can also be a divided island.

I am always amazed how the bed in which we usually spoon can become two hostile territories we keep even as we sleep.

How crazy is it we can walk walls and maintain hostile guard over an inane fight even when asleep!

More than any other space, however, our bed is the place we simply hold each other.

So often, I fall asleep with the love song of your breathing as my lullaby.

I bite your shoulder,
or hold your hand in mine against my chest,
as I flirt with sleep,
and thank our God,
_who gives and takes away_
for this precious husband,
this gift of time,
and this wonderful place to rest.

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

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