On Christmas Card Cramps and Connection

Every Advent season, when my husband sees me stooping over the pile of cards and envelopes, flexing and unflexing my writer’s-cramped fist, he asks “Why?”

Why spend all that money creating and sending cards that are likely going to be read once and then hit the waste can?

Why spend hours in an already busy season writing and folding and sealing and stamping?

Why bother when most people are already connected through various forms of social media?

This is my Why.

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On (Re)naming an Adopted Child

The boys have been talking about what their names would have been had they been girls. Gray would have been Ana (these were pre-Frozen times, people). Reed would have been Fern. And Miles would have been Brooke. Funny how, even though they are boys, those other names still seem to suit them. Or maybe mother dreams just have a way of sticking.

I’ve thought about names a lot lately. We submitted our last piece of adoption assessment paperwork last week. (By this point, I feel we should be cleared for jobs with the FBI or CIA — we have been fingerprinted NINE combined times and evaluated from angles I didn’t know we had. Wondering why I haven’t been writing much? My hand is still cramped up from recording my relationship history from the 90s to the present day on more than one form. But I digress.) 

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The Cusp

The bald eagle circles the river basin and returns to her nest at the top of the pine. The hungry eaglets chatter to her. Their squawks and squeals echo across the water.

Daylight is growing longer. My dog trots along beside me, sniffing the deer trails, lunging at the disappearing flash of rabbit tail. He’s just a year old, springy and deft – and today he is more attuned than usual, picking up on the new action and songs of the wild.

Back at home, the first green shoots of tulips are showing themselves along the path between my house and garage. They’ll be dusted in snow another time or two before stubborn winter gives way and spring bursts into full glory — but that’s not stopping us from dragging dusty lawn chairs from storage and setting them up in that patch of sun in the driveway where we’ll page through seed catalogs and dream about kneeling in a jungly July garden. Continue reading

On What’s Real

As I pushed my three-year-old son’s dresser drawer to a close, the framed army photograph of my grandfather tipped over and landed face-down with a thump.

I propped it back up, blew a piece of dust from the glass, and said, “Sorry, Papa.”

Miles looked for a few long seconds at the 1940s photo — the perfect wave of my grandfather’s hair, his tan army-issue shirt, the eyes that were even bluer in real life than in that colorized photograph.

“Is he still real?” Miles asked.

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The Book Basket: And Then It’s Spring

Welcome to The Book Basket, a place for sharing seasonal reads and other literature we are enjoying in our home.

Reading to my three sons is hands-down my favorite thing to do with them. Reading time is bonding time and learning time rolled into one.  When we read together, we slow down, regroup, and connect.

It’s the best part of our day, every day.

I have a large collection of books sorted by season and theme that I rotate out every few months, and I’m always particularly happy to see this book when I reach for the spring stack…

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Grand Edits with Paula Conery and Mindy Thoreson-Sertich: Revising Life with Multiple Sclerosis

In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, I am honored to share the stories of these two warriors from my own community.

Paula and Mindy, your spirit of hope has inspired many. I count myself blessed to know you both. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. 


Paula’s Story

When Paula Conery went to the optometrist seeking relief for a case of optic neuritis in 1999, she had no idea she was on the path to uncovering a life-changing medical diagnosis. Paula was sent to a neurologist who ordered a spinal tap and an MRI that revealed multiple lesions indicative of multiple sclerosis.

“The neurologist came in and told me I had MS. For most people, it takes three documented attacks for a diagnosis. I was diagnosed just like that. I thought, ‘I don’t have MS! I play basketball. I run. I don’t have MS.’”

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Grand Edits with Austin Lucas: Revising Life after Substance Abuse

This post is the tenth Grand Edits Guest Feature Story here on Revisions of Grandeur.

We’ve heard from one woman who battled cancer and one who said a premature goodbye to her father. A young man whose life course changed within a second, and another who watched his child struggle for years. A mother whose child received a terrifying diagnosis, and another who had to bury two of her precious babies.

Life unleashes some brutally painful attacks doesn’t it? Most of the time, we never see them coming. There’s no way to prepare. We are subject to our circumstances.

Sometimes, though, the attacks are sneakier. They come from within. The wars we wage are against our own selves. We’re on both sides of the battlefield — and only one side can be victorious.

For my friend Austin Lucas, the attack was a slow advancement –a letting down of his guard. A befriending of the enemy. Before he knew it, he found himself in a full-on raging battle.

It wasn’t until Austin surrendered that he regained his position of strength and fortitude — that he was able to strike back against the forces that had divided himself against himself.

Austin’s story is a compelling reminder that we never have to fight our battles on our own.

We’re never forsaken. We’re never alone. And we’re never too far gone.

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Grand Edits with Lance Ellis: Revising Life after Losing a Child

As Father’s Day approaches, we’re reminded of all the things a dad should be…

The protector, the provider, the fixer, the giver-of-knowledge.

Lance Ellis willingly embraced all of these roles. He couldn’t wait to teach his kids, help them solve problems, and bring them along on adventures.

He had plans. Plans to be a teacher. Plans to marry his sweetheart, Jill Johnson — to make a home and have two children, maybe even a dog.

But life had different plans for Lance, and he wasn’t able to do those things exactly the way he wanted to. Only when he surrendered his own plans — when he became willing to be shaped by his circumstances, did he arrive at the realization that plans and efforts are not guarantees, and the only thing a father can really provide for his children is unconditional love.

This is Lance’s story. Continue reading

Grand Edits with Jaclynn Kreider: Revising Life After Losing a Parent

When Jaclynn Kreider was a young girl, her father, Jack Kriegl, was her hero. They enjoyed many of the same things – playing sports, Green Bay Packers football, skiing, hunting, trapping, and spending time outdoors.

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The Kriegl kids with their dad (L to R: Aundrea, Jaclynn, Joe, John, and Jack)

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