Twenty-Two Things

We averted disaster today.

Serious disaster.

As we sat at the kitchen table, still in our pajamas and me not even halfway through my first cup of coffee, the kids noticed fog rolling off the barn roof.

Or was it steam?

Wait, No. No, my son said. I think that’s smoke Mom.

And he stepped out on the porch to smell the air and then went running one way while I went running the other to throw on a pair of pants quicker than I ever have in all my life while at the same time dialing the number I’ve answered hundreds of times.

911, where is your emergency?

As I calmly told her my address, phone number, and directions to my house, I pushed my feet into boots and ran out the door, barking clipped directions to the kids still in my eyesight.

My big boy has his Daddy’s cool smarts and he’d hit the breaker to the barn before I had even hit the driveway, and he walked straight into the smoke to find the source and had the melting and burning tote that’d served as a home for a wee chick drug out to the middle of the driveway where it went up in flames and continued to melt blue plastic ooze onto the gravel while my hands started to tremble and my voice cracked on the line.

It seems that the chick we’d had bedded down in the cozy warm tote had jumped out during the night to visit with the rest of the party animals (hens and turkeys and pullets oh my) who were all enjoying the soft farmy smells of the hay barn for the past two nights while we finish getting their winter pen ready.

When wee chick (after today he carries the name of Fireball) jumped out of bed, he must’ve knocked the heat lamp loose and down into his tote, which melted plastic and scorched hay in the process.


My barn is full of a winter’s worth of hay, and as I hung up with Dispatch and listened to the approaching sirens, it took me less than two seconds to imagine how quickly that structure could go from the rolling smoke we’d found to being fully engulfed. How quickly that would put my surrounding woods at risk. Our precious neighborhood. Our cherished livestock.

So today I’m thankful for many things.

For my boy’s quick mind and quick actions. For our firefighters who were here within five minutes and even though the danger had passed, they came anyway and they made sure my barn and our neighborhood was safe. For being late starters. Had we been engrossed in school instead of milling into the morning, we would have missed the smoke altogether, which means we would’ve missed the flames.

Most of all though, I’m thankful for the lesson we learned today. We will never …ever…EVVVVER…put a heat lamp in the hay barn again. E.v.e.r.


It was clamped up high enough but it got knocked down by a weird accident and it could’ve quickly caused tragedy. So we learned.


I learned.

And tonight, on the eve of my twenty-second wedding anniversary, I realize that I’ve learned some lessons about marriage too. Some little lessons, some MAJOR lessons. I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to make things flow, just like I’ve learned how to do things here on the farm.

Some have been scary lessons, and there have been near-losses, and some have been not quite so dramatic. All of them though, have been important.

Twenty-Two Things I’ve Learned in Twenty-Two Years of Marriage

  1. Be stubborn. There have been times in our marriage when the only thing that has kept us together is our scrappy stubbornness to not let go. Marriage is worth fighting for and sometimes you have to muster up every once of stubborn you have to save your marriage and make it grow. After becoming a Christian, I learned that the big word for this is perseverance, but round here we just call it being stubborn. In a good way. Be stubborn. Don’t give up.
  2. Forgive. Lavishly. My husband is so much better at this than I am, but I’ve learned from him. Love means you will get your feelz hurt sometimes. Talk it out, be direct, work it through, forgive. You were forgiven much. Forgive much.
  3. Give grace. When I set aside my ego and my demands and extend the grace to my spouse that was poured out on me, he is better able to see our love unclouded and pure and be the man God made him to be. And the same goes for me. It really does go back to treating others how we’d want to be treated. Don’t ever tolerate abuse, but extend grace whenever you can.
  4. Make a home. Wherever you are, make a home for the two of you. Make him want to be home with your soft and curvy self and just like the Don Williams song,  make him feel like a king and not a regular Joe. Clutter bugs or neat freaks, make that place YOURS. Together yours. It’s your haven and without a haven the world will be cold. Make your home and even if it’s a little crazy, keep that craziness warm and cozy and his and yours and help keep him comfortable and happy to come home.
  5. But don’t strive for a perfect home. . Perfect is a falsehood and striving for it will exhaust you and strain your marriage. Make your imperfectness perfect for you and save the real perfect for when we get to Heaven.
  6. Keep the Balance. You might have to say no to some things. Heck you might have to say no to a LOT of things to keep the balance. You are the yang to his ying and he’s the leather to your lace and as my kids tell me, my husband is the calm to my crazy or the whoah to my go. Keeping the balance is a constant pursuit and sometimes a true act in assertiveness and patience. I’ve lost time with friends, we’ve said no to great opportunities, we are constantly learning how to better calendar and communicate, and sometimes it’s an out and out battle to maintain it all in a non-crazy way. Schedules, school, time with kids, time as a family, housework, finances, friends, church service, health issues, work issues, chores, rest…it can seriously be a job trying to keep it balanced. Be diligent. The train runs best when the tracks are balanced. This changes with each season so stay aware. Find your balance and keep it.
  7. Year ten: Finally feels like you might be getting the hang of marriage.
  8. Year fifteen: Feels like you’re off to a good start at doing a good job at marriage.
  9. Year twenty: Feels like you just finished a 100-mile warm-up marathon and you’re sweaty and smiling and standing at the starting line excited to run the next leg of the race.Mr. and Mrs. Rankin


  10. Love is a choice not a feeling. Being married means there will be days when you might look at your spouse and wonder what you were thinking all those years ago. Listen, if you have a faithful spouse who has loved you for years and hasn’t given up on you, you have a gift and you have a treasure and a you have a choice to make. Don’t you dare fall into the way of thinking that our world teaches, this fickleness in marriage, this feeling of wanting to flee when the butterflies migrate. Love is a choice. Make the decision and the feelings will follow. Choose faithfulness. Choose dedication. Choose to love your spouse.
  11. Get a room. Yep. Something happens you leave your home with your spouse, especially when said home is full of kids. A couple’s weekend away clears the head and refreshes the heart. Try to take one at least once a year. We honor our anniversary this way. I know it’s hard. Do what you can to make it happen. But don’t make your expectations too lofty. A tent in the back of his pick up truck. Trade babysitting with another mama. Enlist Grandma. Your bff. A camper out in the driveway. A local motel. However you can do this, make it a habit, set any arguments aside, and protect this time with flexibility but the ferocity of a mama bear.back roads
  12. Get a room for two nights, not one. I know it sounds outrageous. But the first 24 hours is a working-it-out, calming-the-mind, exhale time. One day isn’t even enough relax to let you unpack your makeup bag. Especially if you have an 11 a.m. check-out. Save your coupon money, get a good babysitter from church, work on this all year…take TWO nights off. Trust me.
  13. Squeeze in dates when you can. I know this isn’t always an option. But when my third baby turned ten-months old, I realized that I hadn’t had any quiet conversation with my husband since our two-day hospital stay when she was born! We hired a sweet teen from church and we budgeted a date every single week. After a year we realized we could probably drop back to every other week. Then it went to once a month. Then every couple of months. Now that we have teens, we’re back up to every week because it’s a little bit like toddlers in the house but opposite. We need time away from all the big, busy ears.Do what works. What is good for one couple may be burdensome for another. But do make sure to set some time apart regularly to focus on being alone and don’t you dare let ANYONE make you feel guilty for it. My husband said it best when I once hinted at the cost of one of our dates, It’s an investment in our marriage.
  14. Listen. Really listen to your spouse. You may truly be the only one who does. If you find that your mind is too busy to listen to your spouse, it’s time to clear some space. Your marriage is your ministry. Run your ministry well.
  15. Do what your spouse loves. This one is so, so easy, and so, so hard. Just do what they love. In the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the car, in their love language…find out what they love and do that.
  16. Your spouse should be your best friend on earth. I’ve lived marriage otherwise, and trust me, not being best friends with my husband was living a different marriage than what God had for us. It took us a long time and a long road for us to be best friends, but once we walked to it, gasping and panting, we found our stride. Don’t give up if it isn’t the case for you. If there are two of you willing to do marriage like God planned, you’ll find your stride. Make your spouse your best earthly friend.
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  17. But your husband isn’t your girlfriend.  I only have a small circle of girlfriends so for most things I lean on my husband. One thing is clear though. He ain’t a girlfren, girlfren and it’d be unfair of me to put that expectation on him. If I want him to act like a man, I treat him like a man not like one of my women friends.Let him dry your tears and strongly hug you tight and pray with you when you’re vulnerable or tired and manly pat your behind and expertly fix your car when things are falling apart, but don’t be upset when he isn’t excited to stay up late crying with you over Beaches and Haagen Daas on a PMS night. Cut him loose from that wish list sister. It isn’t fair to expect him to be like you, he’s NOT like you. And he’s not like your girlfriends either. I know for me, in my marriage, one of the 22 things I’ve learned…is I expected for TOO LONG that he fulfill ALL my friendship needs.

    God didn’t call our men to be our women friends. I wish we all had perfect women friends. You might, I might, we all might. But if we don’t, don’t try to make your man fill that role. He has a role as your MAN. Let him be that.

  18. Don’t keep close friends with the opposite sex. I might take flak for this one but I strongly believe keeping close friends of the opposite sex can cast a shadow of doubt on the trust between you and your spouse and impede the integrity of marriage. I’m not talking about casual friendships with co-workers, fellow parents, and church folks. I’m referring to close, confidant-type friendships. I’m talking bff style friendships.  I’ve seen the detriment in my marriage, friends’ marriages, and marriage in our society in general. If  you do have a close friend of the opposite sex, please make sure your spouse is fully involved and included and knows the dynamics well. Your main squeeze should always be your spouse.  Keep your boundaries when it comes to friends of the opposite sex and always make sure that you are sending a strong message of marriage. To your friends and to your spouse.
  19. Make God your best, best friend. My dear friend Ms. Kreta will tell you that Jesus is the cake, her husband was the frosting. It wasn’t until I started walking with the Lord and doing marriage HIS way that the fight became focused. You may not be there yet, that’s okay. It took me a long time too, and my husband even longer. But once we began to realize how sweet God’s way of marriage is, we became a cord of three that was no longer easily broken. If you’re there already, praise Him. It is the greatest treasure and friend that your marriage -and your soul- will ever possess.
  20. Don’t flirt. It’s raises doubts and it’s just not fair. One of the most precious things I’ve ever seen and a treasure I hold close is my husband’s refusal to succumb to flirtatious advances from other women over the years. Because he doesn’t flirt, I don’t doubt him. Extrovert or not, flirting plants seeds of doubt. Unless it’s with your spouse, just don’t do it.
  21. Keep private things private. You may come from a close family. You may be an open book. There are things that are whispered in the dark that belong to the heart of your spouse and should never be repeated to another soul. You are building a life together, a history, a heritage, a TRUST. Don’t repeat what is confided. Even if it’s small. The two of you are literally an island, and unless you have permission, keep the private, intimate, personal stuff between you.
  22. Make eye contact. This one is hard. You may or may not have this skill down. I hope for you that you do. I don’t. I either stare with a furrowed brow and look angry or I avert in an uncomfortable need to make distance. I have to work at the in-between. Make eye contact when you speak to your spouse and notice how it bumps up the level of intimacy in your conversation. When you say something that you really want to get through, look into your spouse’s eyes. Practice if it’s uncomfortable. Trust me. Your eyes get your point across more than your words ever will. Let your guard down with your spouse and allow yourself to make uninhibited eye contact.
    JULY 2014 011Because I’ve never written a list like this and probably never will again, I’ll throw in two more very important ones.
  23. Hold hands. It seems small but it’s not. I remember during a particularly difficult time in our marriage, a co-worker saw us at the store. He said later that what he noticed about my husband and I was that we were holding hands. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d held hands with his wife. They were three decades into marriage. I hope he holds his wife’s hand more often now.In twenty-two years, it’s one small thing that I’ve realized makes all the difference. When it’s bumpy, holding hands secures the ride. When it’s time to come before the throne in prayer, holding hands unites. When it’s sad, holding hands comforts. When it’s happy, holding hands celebrates. When it’s quiet, holding hands is connection. When it’s intimate, holding hands confirms. When it’s angry, holding hands is a sign of peace.

    I know my husband’s hands better than I know my own. They are comfort and they are joy and they are callused and they are soft and they are strong and they are peace and they are love. Hold your spouse’s hand every chance you get and don’t ever stop.

    Lastly but most importantly I believe:

  24. Pray together. Often. Even if it’s awkward. Do it. There is nothing, no thing, that has brought my husband and I closer than praying together. We prayed together before we even knew who we were praying to, and then once we did, we awkwardly bumbled our way into regular and natural conversation with the one who made us and designed marriage. Find a great couples devotional, get with a prayer group, or just clasp hands and pray. You will soon realize that the answer to most every problem that comes your way is to pray and seek God’s will and guidance in all things and that when you face them together with a bowed heart, you’ll face them stronger than you could ever have imagined.10923198_10204094321099220_7355868044455328324_n

We’ve seen dark times and we’ve seen bright times and we’ve done half a marriage without the Lord, and half a marriage with Him, and I only hope that we’ll have another twenty-two years and then another twenty-two after that.


DSC_0636 (2)So there’s my list for this day and this year and maybe it will bless you as you travel and grow and learn with your beloved.

I’ll have to add to my list next year.

Because I’ll never quit learning.

And I’ll never ever, ever leave the heat lamp in the barn again either.
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 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…Song of Solomon 6:3

Library Day

Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to live at the library. The smells…the shelves…the order…the WORLDS.

I wanted to read every single world that was tucked between all those covers.

When my babies were little they’d kick off their shoes and curl up on the floor with a stack of books as tall as they were.

I taught them how to find books, how to love books, how to write books, how to learn with books, how to lose books. (Only $22 in overdues this trip!!) when my eldest hunts the aisles for a title he’s been dying to read, one of my favorite books of all time, a 900-pager of an epic, Lonesome Dove.

How my heart smiled when my ten-year old comes to find me with two copies from the grown up side that relate to her latest science curriculum and the passion of her heart, animal care.

To hear my youngest politely ask the librarian if she could help him find the latest release from an anime series his big sister introduced him to made me beam. My big little boy is a bona fide biblovore now too.

My eldest girl brings the wish list she prepared on her iPad and busies herself finding them.

And when she makes her way back to the table and I ask her if she found what she was looking for, she says “No. But I did find some. Just a few this week, but it’ll hold me for awhile.”

And I think yes…yes, that’s exactly what these good stories do.

They hold us for a while.


“I have always imagined that paradise will be some kind of library.” -Jorge Luis Borges

Do you love the library as much as we do? Tell me what you’re reading this week!

Never Let Go

It’s a funny thing when God answers prayers that you didn’t even know you were praying.

When He sends friends you didn’t know you were in need of…

When He sends a new routine you didn’t know you were missing…

When He sends people to fill a void you didn’t even know was there…

All those little ways He tells you…

In the good times and in the bad times…

In the happy times and in the mournful times…

In the easy times and in the hard times…

He never lets go.


Oh no, you never let go, every high and every low,

Oh no, you never let go, Lord you never let go of me.

Bigger and Tireder and Come Unto Me

He said Come unto Me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.

He didn’t say Come every Wednesday or Come unto me even though you’re exhausted or Come unto me or else we won’t be friends anymore.

He said Come unto me all you who are weary…

And they don’t tell you in the pregnancy books that there comes a time, way past the first roll-over time, way past the sitting up time, way past the solid foods time, and wayyy past the first-steps time…


There comes a time when it seems a little like it did when there were babies in the house, and a little like it did when there were toddlers in the house…


But it’s all a little bit different and a little bit bigger.

Because they’re bigger.


You should be tougher but you don’t feel much tougher.

In fact, when you talk to mamas just a wee bit older than you, you might whisper it to them quiet and confidentially and maybe even with a hint of a doubt in your tone while you secretly hope that maybe they’ll understand.

You really hope they’ll nod knowingly and that they won’t tell you that you’re wrong. You hope they’ll hug you and say OH HONEY YES.

It’s harder than it was.

It’s just a different hard.

You feel somehow weaker than you did even though you never ever thought you’d feel weaker and more vulnerable than you did with no sleep and no makeup and milk streaming down your chest and soaking through your shirt and onto your mattress and into your days while the beautiful baby just screamed and screamed and constantly needed a new diaper.

You’re tired.

And that just seems so wrong because they sleep all night now, a long teenager’s sleep late into the morning for their growing bodies if your day can spare it, so a full eight or nine is your delight, and most mornings even a leisurely cup of coffee is yours before they arise…and they do work now, real work that makes yours easier.


But they take more of you now.

More mind muscle. More money. More miles.

They take up more space.

In your house.

In your head.

In your heart.

There are more of them and they are bigger and it’s just all bigger and a little more overwhelming but you’re older now and wiser now so you handle it better but handling it better makes you tired sometimes and it’s a different kind of tired.

And sometimes coming unto me looks a lot different than what a mama thought it would way back when they still napped in the middle of the day and still needed you to buckle them into their car seat.

A quiet time isn’t always ever a quiet time, and me-time doesn’t work and long ago when they were toddlers I cut out a magazine piece that said me-time comes when the babies are grown and now that mine are almost there I see.

I see how it is that I don’t really feel like taking that me-time anymore unless they force me, and now that more than two of them fill a room while college and jobs and future fill their horizon…

I’m glad my me-time revolves around them.


It means saying no sometimes.

It means that I actually had more time for friends when my babies were babies and we could all get together over diapers and coffee and Cheerios and Boppies.

It means that pulling in to them instead of pulling away needs to be my daily priority.

It means that I may lose outside opportunities in order to stay inside the circle of these years.

It means that my growth might actually be watching them grow and that is what my job is right now.

It means that I might have to work through the new ages and stages and grow right along with them.


It means that I might be lacking for folks outside of here and seem shallow when in truth, I’m growing deeper and broader in my care and attention.

But a mama still needs come unto me and thankfully, He stands and He knocks, and what a comfort…what.a.comfort. to know He’s there.

That He is always there.

That when my quiet time is driving-down-the-road time, He doesn’t abandon.

He’s there.

That when I’m extra busy or frazzled or full, He doesn’t condemn.

He invites.

That when I forget, He doesn’t write me off.

He gently prods.

That when I’m exhausted, He doesn’t shame.

He comforts.

That He loves.

That He forgives.

That He encourages.

That He holds.

That He stays.

And that unlike this time that rushes…that goes…that hurries…

He doesn’t.

He still says come unto me and when I’m weary and when I’m burdened and when I’m heavy laden…

He doesn’t pressure but He waits.

And He gives rest for my soul.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails and never gives up it never runs out on me…your love…it’s your love…

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

Your love never fails and never gives up it never runs out on me…your love…it’s your love…God it’s your love.

~Jesus Culture


In a season that catches by surprise, I’ve come to anticipate the unexpected.

Four kids fill this house and this calendar and these rooms…

and the minds and the lives and the hearts of their parents.


Critters live and critters die, and sometimes it comes by way of sudden chirping from the woods when a nest of nine stumbles and weaves behind mama turkey, and sometimes it comes by way of the quiet death of a loud guinea or the noble fight and fall of a beloved pony.

“Moment by moment” round here is never an exaggeration.



But what’s never expected is the cold stare from one who was once a warm friend.

What catches by surprise and catches in the throat are the words stuck that stream through quiet moments and that are outlined with bold strokes of anger and frustration but mostly just scream Why?? When?? I thought we were friends??

And a rejection like that can make a mama pull in and pull close and focus on just the ones around her, the ones she knows for sure love her.

Making friends never gets easier does it?

And down deep, isn’t there always that little girl who lives inside of us? That first grader in a room full of new classmates who’s standing there awkward when she realizes she’s tied the back of her dress up into her waistband while she shifts from foot to foot at the front of the classroom with her underwear and tights all exposed to the world?

Don’t the bruises get blacker when a soul gets older?


And when the demands are so great a big gal feels small and sometimes has a hard time breathing let alone doing anything extra, a mama can only just bear down and push through the cramp and know she’s doing what she was meant to do in this moment: deliver these babies out into the world.

She’ll keep pushing and she’ll keep grunting and she’ll try not to swear even though she might yell out during the especially hard parts.

She didn’t know it’d be like this over a dozen years after they were born.


And sometimes just the day to day can be enough to make us keep things shy and reserved and holding the heart close to the chest and the real feelings tight in the pocket.

Enough of the keeping it tight can make us keep it closed and before we know it, we’ve holed ourselves up while we tell ourselves we’re just in a quiet season of bearing down.

And then the real unexpected…

The exceptional unexpected.

The beautiful unexpected.

The unexpected gift of the unexpected time of an unexpected dinner with a couple from church, two souls just ahead on the sidewalk, and all the unexpected tears and laughter that come from that kind of unexpected encounter.

How the path we’re walking is so very familiar to them.

How the struggles we wrestle are ones they’ve conquered.

How the unexpected keeps on into the empty nest years.

How the unexpected keeps on…

My heart carries the day this month that we drove to the place where we sailed to the spot…

that gate where three seas meet, -just past the sanctuary for mariners- and the wind blew fierce and the waves pounded hard and how could I not feel God hold me there in that spot where warm tears of praise slipped down cold cheeks of wonder?


The whales of September came by surprise and Native founders sailed those waters on kayaks and I sailed them with my children who stood bravely against the gusts and they braced themselves to the threat and they laughed into the wind because they are young and they trust their father and their mother, but they especially trust the One who made the skies.




The joy we’ve had this month can be lost in the hard of this month and the hard of lost friendship and the hard of this life…

but when I focus on the good…when I fix my eyes on the pure…the hard isn’t so hard and the good is pure joy.

The unexpected moments from the unexpected trip that grew my babies and grew my mama and that grew me.

The unexpected victories that taught us that sometimes a person will win when they practice hard but that sometimes even hard practice won’t win, and that that’s okay too.

The unexpected setbacks that taught us that sometimes a plan needs a bit more time and a bit more stitching before it becomes a whole quilt.

The unexpected friends that came with what could’ve been a tight and tough competition but instead turned into a tight and tender time.


All the unexpected.


How the unexpected keeps on…

And then, just as a mama might start to come out of her September shell and decide rejection won’t keep her because she’s already accepted by the One who made her and Who holds her…

a routine night at church brings the unexpected, a gift, a sweet out-of-the-blue message and warm watery eyes from a new friend who is trailing just behind on the parenting sidewalk, and she might think it a small gift…

but it is bigger than that.

It makes me think of you she tells me.

And I tear up some because I don’t know her that well yet but still she thought of me, and by thinking of me she didn’t reject me, and by not rejecting me she reminds me that even when the world is cold and some people are cold, we really are each other’s keeper and we needn’t be cold back because if we are…if we close ourselves off and make ourselves cold…

we won’t ever make this planet warmer.

How the unexpected keeps on…

So I squeeze her once because her gift is so precious.

I stare at it for a second and see how perfect it is and how sweet the words are, and she smiles and I smile and then I squeeze her again because I’m so touched at her gift and how it is straight from her heart.

And so very unexpected.


I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
~Big Daddy Weave

North to Alaska

Our July is usually so busy I want to run away when I get to the end of it.

I’m totally overwhelmed, drained of energy, and ready to up and move to a place where there are no farm animals, no fishermen, no motor homes, and no boats.

But every July, on the 27th, I remember…

I chose this place!

It was nineteen years ago today that I rolled into this amazing place that became my new home.

It had been a boyhood dream of my husband’s to move here after high school with his best friend, but meeting me changed all of that.

When, years into our relationship, he told me of his past plans, I chastised him for not telling me sooner and told him I would’ve gone with him.

Thus began the planning and the saving and the letter writing with his friend, who’d long since settled in the land the two of them had talked of.

And when his friend came back for a visit and his folks were planning a haul of goods up the AlCan, we took our dreams and we hit our knees and we asked if now, right now might be the time.

Those good folks were thrilled to have another driver and they packed their goods and they packed my husband and I sent our valuables in the valuable trunk he’d built on our first Christmas. His Daddy shook his hand and told him he always had a home to come back to and we all stood and waved goodbye as the tooley fog lifted off the cornfield that June morning.

the bridge

I talked to him every night, but one afternoon he called in the middle of the day and a call at work meant something big and the big thing was a job and a job was the go ahead for me to give up the steady paycheck that tied us to somewhere secure.

I hung up the phone and went to my boss and gave her my two weeks’ notice and that night I started selling all that was left of our stuff.

I was Alaska bound. Even though he was already there, WE were officially Alaska bound.

On a humid July morning, my mom and I rolled out of the only state I’d ever lived in with my big brown dog and my little tranquilized cat and all I owned on the top of my red four-door sedan.

We rolled into Alaska six days later, and on the night of the 27th, when I’d made it to our new town and stopped at the first gas station I found for a pack of cigarettes and a Diet Coke, I knew I was home. I knew I would never want to leave this place.

And I haven’t.

Oh we’ve flown out a few times for family trips and the occasional vacation, but this place is a place that holds a person. When we think of how much easier it’d be in the Lower 48, how much more affordable it is in other places, how many more people there are for our kids to know…

…we come back to the fact that we’d have to leave Alaska.

I lost the cigarettes and my ability to drive in big cities and freeways.

But I found the Lord.

We came up not knowing one another that well.

But we wrestled our way into being best friends.

The two of us didn’t have any furniture.

But now we have a house full of it because we have all these kids.

We only knew one family and held them close.

But now we know many families who hold US close.

Nineteen years.

Not long at all.

And when I look at my calendar and the crazy amount of writing on all the squares this month, my eyes fall to today’s and I remember that I really don’t want to run away. I already did that nineteen years ago and every day since…

I’m home.



OCTOBER 2015 360