On being alive

First thing this morning I went for a swim – one side of the sheltered bay to the other and back. The water was frigid and it was too early for the air to have warmed. I was the only one there. I stood in the sand looking out – seeing the beauty and feeling the chill. Thought about coming later instead.
I made myself get in.

My breath took half way across to even out. It was racing with my strokes and the coldness of the water. Racing through the dark depths. I cried at the gift of all the space to breathe – to feel my lungs full and free. To feel my breath come lightly amidst the gasping. The joy of tears and sweat and rebirth.

I start to think about how to do this always. Swim at dawn and come back breathing hard and alive. Kiss Aaron and eat bagels with my bed headed kids.

Sell everything and buy a sailboat. See the world. Move to a tiny cottage by the sea. Drink coffee on the rocks after greeting the day in the water. Make our own bagels. Eat every meal together. Feel God’s goodness and feel alive.

I wonder about how to do this. If there is a life that escapes the tightness, the tragedy, the weight, the worry, the responsibility. I wonder if I’m allowed.


Posted in Alive by the water, Everyday holy, Life in the 30's, Living with purpose | 2 Comments

On Being A Human Mother

We said goodbye to my grandmother yesterday. I got to hug all four of her children, both of my parents and my own three siblings all in one day. Everyone felt sad. Everyone felt happy.

After the hugs and the remembering and the goodbyes I went to the ocean. I needed to feel alive and it’s the place where I feel the freest to be good and sad and angry with God.  I needed a liberal dose of freedom. I noticed this about the Colbecks yesterday – for better or worse we are freer to be sad in private. So I got mad and sad with my feet wet – touching the sand. At some point (like always happens by the sea) I found myself breathing: God is love.

God is love, God is love, God is love.

I thought about you, all my children. I’m away from you for the first real time in nine years of being a mother. I hopped an airplane in the first hours of the new day, long before you will wake up. It brought me here, a whole days driving away in just a few hours to mourn. I’m thinking of today. I’m thinking of my life and the people I love and God being love and there is something I need to tell you.

I love you.

I know it’s cliche and anticlimactic and I tell you every single day but please hear me. We want unconditional love from our parents – we want it, we need it. When we think it is absent it keeps us disconnected.

So know this – know it to the core of your being. I love you. And in the wise words of Rob Bell who borrowed them from God: there is nothing you could do to make me love you less.

There is nothing you could do to make me love you less.

I need to write it here, put it down. I need to build our talisman, erect our ebenezer because I mess this most important thing up. I act like your dirty clothes on your floor, or your bickering with your sister, or your performing, affects the way I love you.

Hear me say it again because this will go on as long as I live. I will say no when I should say yes and say yes when I should say no. I will talk when I should listen. I will stay silent when you want some advice. I will chase you when you need space. I will let you go when I should pursue. I will say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, believe the wrong thing. I will work too much or too little and I will keep the house too clean or too messy. I will have too many hobbies or too few. Hear me because I will yell too much and play too little.

I will care about the wrong things.

And even though there will be millions upon millions of times when I love you well – these times when I love you wrong – when I love you not enough – when I love you like a human mother, these times will still cause damage.

So hear it again and again and again. I love you. No matter what you did last night or two minutes ago, no matter who you love, no matter how we disagree. No matter how I act.

I write it down so we can both read it and remember what really matters. I write it down as a request to please remind me when I am choosing the wrong thing, a plea to tell me when I’m not understanding. I write it down to hope you will forgive me when despite your best attempts and my own I still don’t get it. Because I am a human mother. And I need to lean hard into love.

I love you. No matter what.

Posted in Alive by the water, Everyday holy, God's love, Life in the 30's, Parenting | 4 Comments

On life and death

Lent came late this year and my beloved grandmother was hospitalized the day after Ash Wednesday.

Today she passed.

We are not a people made for death. It chafes and stings and exposes all our rawness. It brings all the brokenness of this life down heavy.

We are a people who long for wholeness and joy and wellness. We are a people who long for love overcoming all things. We are a people made for Easter. We are a people made for kingdom come.

So thank you grandma. Thank you for your faith and your hope and your example of peace. Thank you for introducing me to diet pepsi and new books and for our summer spending money. Thank you for always asking about my boyfriends and then my husband and then my babies. They loved you too. Thank you for your generous spirit and for all the times you choose joy. I meant to ask you about doubt but never got the chance. Thank you for helping save my faith anyway. Thank you for your love.

Eshet Chayil, go in peace and wholeness. Welcome home.

And till we meet again, I love you and I miss you.






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Today was my birthday

Today was my birthday. I let myself sleep in a bit, my girls have been sick for over a week and me too a bit. I’m tired.

When my kids asked what we were doing today and I told them, my three year old cried because it wasn’t her birthday. There were complaints over what was for breakfast and the school work to be done.

We did the school work and I cleaned the cats litter box and ran the dishwasher. I hugged and loved the sad children. We sat on the deck in the warmth and I tried to read for five minutes while the kids biked around and around and around and around the picnic table. I made tea for my kiddos while my own got cold, put down my own book, read stories about spring and gave cuddles.

I got birthday calls and people I love sang to me. I went for a run even though I didn’t really feel up to it while Aaron made my favourite dinner. I thought about God and being loved even when I am messing up and how faith means not knowing everything. I thought about how much I love my family even when I’m tired, that my husband saves my life almost daily and how I have better friends than I ever dreamed of.

Later as we ate we drank wine and I laughed with my full heart watching my kids in hysterics at asking Siri things like ‘Why do farts smell?’ and ‘Is it good to pick my nose?’ I lit the candles three times so all the kids could have a turn blowing them out. I brushed teeth and read more stories and gave goodnight kisses. I spent time with my husband in-between comforting Haven who keeps waking crying over her sore throat.

Today was so ordinary. It was a good day to turn 35.


Posted in Everyday holy, Life in the 30's, Parenting | 4 Comments