When being a Grown Up Sucks

When being a Grown Up Sucks

I do the grown-up thing pretty well, most of the time. But some days this whole mature, responsible, doing-the-right-thing-the-right-way adult role is too much.

Like this week. Things are okay, but at times intense. I needed a break. What to do? What to do?

And then it came to me. Take a vacation! Not away from this place, but away from this time.


First – clothing. I dug out my scruffy jeans, reminiscent of my hippy days, faded and frayed, and ever so comfy, and added a tie-dyed t-shirt. Considered Birks or mocassins. No. It’s winter. I wore sensible shoes so my feet would be happy.


Then I dug out my old CDs – James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkle, and drove the city running errands, with the heater on and the window open, tunes and voice blaring, bopping to the blues at every stop light.


And do you know, it worked? I felt like I’d left my adult world behind, if only for a few hours, and enjoyed a time out (in a good way). While the 60s wasn’t the best decade of my life, it was the least responsible, and I had a degree of independence.

Yeah, it was nice.

Now I’m thinking I just might have to pop back to the 70s next weekend. Wanna come with?

Or maybe there’s something you like to do when you’re tired of being a grown up.


photo credit: IamNotUnique   photo credit: Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com)    photo credit: Hindrik S   photo credit: Sarah Elizabeth Altendorf   photo credit: Pragmagraphr


The Folly of Fixing People – 1 Goal and 3 Outcomes

The Folly of Fixing People – 1 Goal and 3 Outcomes

I used to be seriously broken. For years I was broken. As much as I tried to shield them, my family and friends had to bear the consequences of my brokenness.

Then I got better. I got strong. I returned to my previous functionality – in fact I was better than before because through that brokenness, through hitting bottom, I’d grown and was now much more able to be who God had made me to be.

Having seen the world through broken, damaged eyes for so many years, and now being on the other side, wanting to help, to fix people, I’ve come to understand a few things.

THE GOAL: We want this person to come to a place of peace and stability.

THE OBSTACLES: As human beings, we’re limited. Because of that, three things can happen when we try to fix someone.

1. We become tired – tired of hurting for them, tired of offering help and being turned down, tired of giving them what they say they need, and having them crash again and again and again. Yes, tired.

Three on bench

2. We become discouraged. It feels like a constant exercise in failure – seeking supports, advocating for the person, giving of our time, money, love, energy, putting our own lives on hold, hearing the advice of others, trying to implement it, or knowing it won’t work, but the others still insist that if you followed these steps the broken person would be fixed, and taking on that burden of responsibility. Yes, discouraged.

Tired man

3. We want our own life back. Sounds selfish, so we try not to dwell on it, but it’s true. When we’ve tried and tried to help someone, often for years with no lasting results, we want to give up, tell them they’re on their own, we’ve had it. We simply don’t have the energy to care anymore.

Woman - window

That last one, I think, is the hardest of all. Do we have to turn off the love and hope we have for someone so we can get on with our own life? Is that something we should even attempt? It goes against everything most people stand for.

If you were hoping for answers, I don’t have them. I’m asking you.

Man's hand

What’s your take on this? How do you handle it when you can’t fix a broken person who’s front and centre in your life?

Do you know the difference?

ForgiveForgiveness takes one person.



Reconciliation takes two.


photo credit: aestheticsofcrisis <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/92903356@N04/15155757938″>forgive</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: Georgie Pauwels <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/53662163@N06/22537989151″>two</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
The Audience’s Job

The Audience’s Job

A repost of a seasonal reminder…

I watched a video called “Take Identical Twins, Give Gum to Just One of Them… and Watch What Happens Next.”

As someone who occasionally stands before an audience to speak, this resonated with me.

It seems chewing gum animates the face, so the person at least looks alive. The blank stare of the other twin was the turn off. Now, if the other twin had been smiling, or responding in some way, results might have been different.

This is a clever ad campaign for the gum company, but let me share a practical application as we come into the Christmas season.

Will you sit in an audience in the coming weeks? Will you watch a quartet sing in the mall? Will you attend a concert at your church, your child’s school, your community?

Please keep in mind, you’re not watching TV. When those who perform look into the audience they need to see animation, a response. Nod your head a little. Let your lips curl up. Move to the beat, just a tiny bit. Let them see you respond to their effort. Let them know they’re reaching you.

They’ve worked hard to give you a gift. Consider your animated response a gift in return.

Have a very Merry Christmas, and share the joy!

Chapter 45. Wendy’s Book

Chapter 45. Wendy’s Book

 Christmas, 2014. It’s been thirty years, now, since our Wendy-baby was born, since our Wendy-baby died.

There was little tangible proof attaching her memory to this life, but in our hearts she’d become a world of existence.

Her birth, a sunrise beyond description.

Followed by a day, containing all a soul requires to qualify as having been born.

And finally a sunset, Mommy and Daddy gazing, not daring to avert our eyes even for a moment, for fear we would miss the setting of her life as she disappeared beneath the horizon of the living, tranquil, it seemed, until her small self had stilled. Only then could we look away, look at each other, and wonder.

Day is done. Gone the sun. Gone our daughter.

What now?

I am grateful, even today, to an unnamed mother who told my friend, the one who helped me dress our Wendy-baby for her funeral, that I should save a lock of her hair.

We didn’t tell the funeral home attendant what we were doing. We didn’t know if it might be wrong, and we didn’t want to be told if it was.

So before she was sealed in the small, white coffin, and before the coffin was forever sealed beneath the ground as ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ was pronounced, we stole from her small, newborn, now-still head, a lock of hair.

Once Wendy had been buried, a need to hold her to my breast began to swell, as my milk continued to form, my breasts to ache—to hold her in my arms, to feast my eyes on this child, hoped for, anticipated, dreamed of, for nine wonderful months, but gone before we barely had a chance to make a memory.

That lock of hair was the seed that would begin to fill my need.

Now, thirty years later, I can go to my bookshelf and find, amongst the dusty photo albums, one named, “Wendy’s Book”.

What could there be from a life just thirty-seven hours long that would fill an entire album?

Oh, so much. So much.

First, we find her hospital bracelet, certifying that yes, our Wendy was born, on a recorded date, given a name, and with a doctor in attendance.

Then we see photos of a pregnant mom-to-be, a toddler sister, a beaming father, and the house where she would have lived.

Now we find card after card of congratulations, expressing the joy we too felt at our baby girl’s birth, all popped into the mail before the rest of the drama unfolded.

Next, taped to the page, is her birth certificate, the one that shocked me when it came in the mail. I had ordered the big one, not the wallet-size. Nothing small or insignificant for our little girl! When the document arrived I took it from its envelope, expecting this to be the legal statement proclaiming her life. Instead, there, stamped in large red letters at an angle so it wouldn’t be missed, was the word, DECEASED.

I hadn’t expected that.

But back to Wendy’s Book.

Now you will see the lock of hair, taped to the page, still holding a bit of its curl. Perhaps I could have done something more artistic. No. Her hair is enough. She was alive. She had hair. In life, she had hair.

I breathe deeply, and move on.

Here is a photo, one, just one, taken after the tape and tubes and entanglements were removed from her small self. Swaddled in her pink hospital blanket, she is held in her blue-gowned mother’s arms. Here is the photo I would show people later, to say, “See? This is our Wendy-baby.” Most didn’t realize, and I didn’t offer the fact that the child in the photo was, indeed, dead.

Now we see the next document, the one that, to tell the whole story, had to be includedWendy’s Certificate of Death.

No need to linger there. We can turn the page quickly, because yes, there is more. Much more.

Over the days and weeks following April 27, 1985 more cards arrived. Condolences, sympathy, drawings by children honouring their cousin whom they would never meet. Stories were written in some of the cards attesting to the unmentioned truth that they, too, had had a baby who died.

I wasn’t prepared for how many such stories there were.

The offerings of other mothers, and sometimes of fathers, remembering their lost little one, re-experiencing their grief in honour of our Wendy, and her own full life; begun, fulfilled, and completed in the blink of an eye.

Each of these memories rounds out her story. This is Wendy’s Book.


2 Samuel 12:22-23

22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept.

I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’

23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting?

Can I bring him back again?

I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

When the Bough Breaks will be available in hard-copy by December 2016.


Missed a chapter, or want to start at the beginning?
Go to the When The Bough Breaks page for a link to each post.