Well hello there! Welcome. Long post ahead, so grab a beverage and settle in…
It’s been awhile. I took a long-ish hiatus from blogging…and then from social media…and it was one of the the best thing I’ve ever done in terms of creative rejuvenation. But I missed connecting – sharing laughs about the strange beauty of life, tossing new ideas back and forth to see what shakes out. But the platforms run by algorithms exasperated me. I don’t want to play that game or work that hard to connect. So here I am, dusting off the blog and re-learning how to write without emojis. (Like the ones I’m itching to insert here, to show both crying laughter and jazz hands for attempting something that now feels way harder than it should be). I think this is a good place to be.
I’ll skip the part about how weird and constricted life has been for all of us over the past 8-9 months and jump right into how my life was weird and constricted for a few years before then, so I feel like I came into this season of quarantine with a bit of a running start. But then things got good again. I had some wins, and found solutions and work-arounds that actually worked. It was as if my prayers had been on back order for so long that I forgot I’d ever asked in the first place. But then: Voila! There was Jesus, standing on my porch with a smile and a special delivery.
I’m back to tell those stories. Because what we need right now is tangible proof that God has not lost our files. Evidence that every prayer is heard, and the response is underway, even if we can’t yet see it. I believe that if you’re in a season where Jesus is on your porch delivering? You need to TESTIFY to the truth of that reality to encourage the rest of us who are piddling around with our little distractions and trying not to be too obvious as we keep glancing down the road, hoping today might be our day.
So here I am, baton in hand, ready to lead a new parade. I think we need one, right? Grab your trombone or your sparklers or your little beanie from when you were a Girl Scout, and gather here. We’ll figure out the formation as we go.
What I’ll do today is give an overview of the things that have changed in my life over the past year. Then, most mornings, I’ll show up again and go deeper, see what story God wants to tell.
Let me come clean: In the past I’ve been kind of stealth about how Jesus-ey I am (although anyone who knows me knows the truth, because I tend to blurt…) But I’ll endeavor to be less subtle this time around, as I don’t think it’s all that helpful. And it’s dishonest, kind of like the celebrities who are back to zero body fat five days after having a baby, yet insist they eat whatever they want but make sure to do a little stretching everyday….
But even at my most outspoken, I think the presentation of my faith comes out a bit differently than what many associate with Jesus’ people, because it was formed at a quirky church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was, at the time, a place most Christians had given up on so there was no pressure to absorb or conform to the prevailing Christian Culture. What a blessing that was!!! (As I type this I realize that this should make the top 3 on my gratitude list every single day.)
So anyway, yeah. You should know I’m into Jesus…well, the whole Trinity, actually. And that’s a good thing.
Okay…here’s the quick rundown of what has transpired, in no particular order of chronology or importance, over the past year:
We found a therapeutic boarding school for #2 Cherub…and she is thriving. I am still brought to tears by this miracle, because we were in a baaaaaad place, so much worse than anything we would have thought possible, for a really long time. Which is incredibly common in adoption, but nobody talks about it. So I’m going to talk about it, and share some of our experiences.
If reading this makes you think I’m going to tell stories that will shame or embarrass her, fear not – I won’t. Because the reality is, her struggles (and ours) make incredible sense within the context of what adoption actually is – the reality rather than the fairy tale – and so every single thing we went through is what thousands of adoptive families are also going through in similar circumstances. I can tell the stories, generalize the specifics, and still be 100% telling the truth. I’ll be super blunt and candid about my fury at the professionals and institutions who were supposed to help us and left things worse than before they arrived, and super celebratory and thankful about where we finally found help and hope, and how and why it’s working.
I’ve held off telling this story until we had a better ending – one with hope for #2 Cherub’s future. Now we have hope. But getting here, and what it takes to make this happen for her, has entirely changed the advice we give to anyone considering adoption. (Don’t worry, we’re still very pro-adoption. But also pro-better information.)
#1 Cherub is in college!!! And I learned what it means to trust God in a whole new way in terms of what is possible and to step WAAAAY back to give him space to figure it all out. Once he was safely in his new dorm, I also had to forgive myself for all the things I tried and failed to be for him, and to re-contextualize our relationship and our adoption experience in terms other than the ones we went in with. Creating space for new perspectives is such a theme in this season. He is home now for an extended break due to the pandemic (his school dismissed students from Thanksgiving on), and it has been incredible to see maturity unfold in so many specific ways. It’s an honor to behold, even though my role is…vague. There’s no Define-The-Relationship talk coming. We’ll just let it unfold and see.
We moved! It was unexpected. I didn’t know we were looking. Then Steve emailed me the real estate listings to two houses, and we bought one of them the next week. (Real estate moves FAST in this part of the country. I always laugh when I watch the TV show Home Town, and Ben & Erin show two Mississippi houses to their clients and then say, “Take your time…there’s no rush!” Here, you have about twenty minutes.) Anyway, our new home is both a wonderland – a beautiful piece of land with trees and a pond – and a huge challenge to my imagination, as the inside and outside of the house is dark and almost entirely brown. The walls range from Dijon Mustard to Army Basic Training. The enormous marble counters look like a coffee maker exploded and the debris sunk beneath the surface just as it hardened. The windows shun light. And well, we’ve always lived in condos, so a whole house in any color is both amazing and overwhelming in equal parts. But the house FEELS GOOD. There is hope here, and a sense of possibility that syncs up errily well with how we feel, too. It’s an excellent challenge, and even amidst all the brown, I want to climb up on our roof and shout about the awesome power of a geographic/scenic/atmospheric change to speed up inner healing from tough times.
I gained 20 pounds, and then recently, after three years of trying and failing, I ungained about half of that and feel like myself again rather than just like someone who has given up. (See how I made that whole thing the sub-heading? It was a WHOLE THING, so there you have it.) I had given up. In so many ways. Weight takes so many different forms, and it’s just HEAVY. But I stumbled onto a way to un-give up, so I tried, and it works. There wasn’t any secret method or scheme; I won’t invite you to buy special protein shakes so you can have chiseled abs and a bikini bod. “Get Fit With Trish!” will remain a joke line (until I launch my dream business combining Prancercize with step-aerobics…) But there are some gems in describing the process of what it looks like to un-give up whatever extra weight one has acquired, in whatever way.
I wrote a novel (and 2/3 of another). But don’t click over to your bookstore yet. I workshopped a small scene of the first novel in a writing class, and the reaction was so chaotic and hysterical that I dropped the project like a hot potato…and then I wished I was still blogging, because what happened in that class was a dynamic worthy of dissection and discussion. I thought I was writing a political thriller – like the paperbacks you buy in the airport before a long flight. But my decidedly mediocre and still in it’s very first draft chapter kicked off a firestorm of anger, indignation, and borderline shunning around questions of race, privilege, and political correctness that was as bizarre as it was thought-provoking. The scene would have made a good film, if all of us were playing parts. But as it was real life, it will definitely make a good blog.
And finally, most importantly to me…
Steve and I are still happy. Marriage is real and good and it works. A friend told me recently that someone recommended my second book, A Maze of Grace, to her during a thorny patch she was in. I was like, “Oh that’s so cool!” But inside, I was more like, “Eeek…that book came out 10 years ago…what did I say?” I pulled a copy off the shelf to see what she was reading. I was relieved to see that 98% of what I wrote about marriage then is still true for us now – that the unusual things we did to start out have stood the test of time, trials, heartbreak, loss, adventure, and all the ups and downs our vows tried to prepare us for. And if a happy marriage felt like a miracle when I was a newlywed at age 35, it feels like something bigger and more unlikely 17 years later. So it seems worth writing about how these beliefs and practices have continued and evolved over time, especially as life got difficult. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face…”
I guess the theme here on my blog now is that even if you’ve given up – on God, on yourself, on other people, even on life – you can un-give up when an opportunity presents itself. That’s allowed. And while I’m not someone you should necessarily follow for specific decorating advice or tips to curate the perfect-looking family – I’m a good person to keep an eye on if you’ve given up and are edging around the idea of reconsidering that choice. I’m proof that God cares about the things we care about, and that if we take a breath and don’t panic, Jesus will show up with the answers to our prayers, along with some bonus things we didn’t think of or even dare to ask for. And that God has a direct line to our imagination: He sends ideas that aren’t what we expect that produce results beyond what we can imagine. Even when we’ve given up, God hasn’t.
Jesus told His disciples, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
I’m proof that it’s true. You are, too. You just might not know it yet. (Insert wink emoji, followed by a heart.)