We are settling into our summer routine. The boys go with their grandmother on the days that I work and when I am off…we move slow. I just cleared away the breakfast dishes–tucked the syrup back in the lazy susan, wiped the table and counters…I seem to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during summer vacation.

We broke out the waffle iron and fried up some bacon in honor of our guest. Jeffrey had a friend spend the night last night. It is Vacation Bible School week and all the grown-ups are tired. Watching Jesus move into so many little hearts is amazing and exhausting. Dwelling in Him so actively must also create hearty appetites because I couldn’t get the food off the griddle fast enough. The boys feasted as only boys can. When they ran back upstairs I felt lonely. But then, this song came on the radio and I twirled in my nightgown, made the kitchen tile a dance floor.

Now, I sip my coffee…listen to boys upstairs. And think about celebrations. It’s the topic of week 4 in God in the Yard. This chapter left me strangely empty–in part, I know, because it tells my story.

As a child of both divorce and alcoholism, I have frailties on both sides of the celebration question: structure and joyful freedom. (L.L. Barkat in God in the Yard)

And also:

…people who live with alcoholics often refuse to enjoy life. (page 34 in reference to words of Melody Beattie)

We did not celebrate.

There were no birthday cakes, no presents on Christmas morn, no Easter eggs to hunt. I have remarked before about how this lack clouds memories… swindles me out of the anchors for life’s milestones.

Without the stones to hold them down, my childhood memories drift away. One day was much like the next. There were no special traditions to hold dear.


As I sit here letting my coffee grow cold I can’t help but remember some sweetness from those early days. I have no milestones to time them by…can’t remember how old I was or other details. But if each day was much the same, my heart knows that each moment was not.

We watched kittens being born, butterflies emerge from chrysalises, and tadpoles slowly grow legs. We knew the joy of discovering secret beds of wildflowers in the woods, running through meadows alight with fireflies, and seeing our hollow from the top of a tree.

There was magic in each moment. And perhaps that was where we celebrated.

And this made the divorce all the more traumatic. When we moved to town with mom, we lost our wonder-land. We lost our celebrations.

We took our wonder to the dirty city streets. One sibling still struggles with the fall-out of that.

But it is still difficult to think on, even after all these years and for now…I must stop.

L.L. says, It is good to take grief and give it a place in our celebrations, alongside joy.

It helps us grow up emotionally and spiritually, softens the callous on our hearts.

I don’t know. I have worn my grief in turns like a crown, and then a dirty undergarment. Celebrations make me melancholy.

But I can still dance in the kitchen when no one is looking. I can twirl and whirl and hold my arms out as I go round and round. This is my joyful freedom. This is my grief. I spin sorrow and joy into one. They can never be separated as long as they are part of who I am.

There is a Greater Becoming that is part of it all. There is Beauty in the Becoming. And I never dance alone.

**This was written in response to week for of L.L. Barkat’s lovely book God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. Join me?


  1. says

    Laura, I ache for all that was lost in your childhood. I rejoice with you in all that is to be – all that you do with your children to mark their lives with wonderful memories.
    I pray that He will make all things new for you – and bring much joy in the process.
    Love you dear friend.

  2. says

    Oh, I didn’t realize you have been hanging out in my house and in my heart these past few days…

    I wrote something very similar just yesterday.

    It struck me as so very odd one day when my husband told me that he has never heard me sing. What?! I sing all the time. In fact I sing so much my son asks me to stop. Is it perhaps that if we keep our joy tucked tight, then we give it less of a chance of being snatched away?

    Perhaps the twirling nightgown (although my pjs are stained t-shirts and ratty shorts) ladies could pick a day and take their dancing and singing to the streets? Ah, perhaps not… Just a caffeine-free momentary lapse of sanity. 😉


  3. says

    “. . . to take grief and give it a place in our celebrations”: Perhaps that’s what we do when we put what hurts in another part of the heart where it hurts less; when we recall that we were made in love; when we find ourselves being more in today and looking more to tomorrow than yesterday; when we make it through with and in faith.

  4. says

    There’s a lot of grief and grace tucked in between your sentences here. You’ve given us a window into them both, and although none of us lived your childhood (only you have done that) we can feel it in this moment.

    Good processing, sister. This day I sit with you over a dirty waffle iron and routine. No waffles here… just a rare few quiet moments of contemplation as I ready my heart to put my older two boys on a plane to Bolivia this afternoon and then continue with my sorting and packing.

    It’s a hard thing… this growing up. Both for them and for me. I suppose I have my own version of grief and grace. These two boys have known the pain of having their parents divorce; and yet, there’s been grace and healing over the years as evidenced by their huge hearts that are taking flight today to the remote village of Tacachia, Bolivia.

    I cannot help but thank God for the goodness that’s come to them, in them, and through them despite all the barriers that have sought to claim them.

    Celebration indeed.


  5. says

    I read Darlene’s post yesterday and the similarities are striking. Your special heart and great wisdom ooze from every word you write.

    Despite the past and current pain,
    it’s clear God has done such great work in and with and through you. It inspires me to do more…to feel more…to love better…

  6. says

    sometimes I worry that He brings all of this across my path, that He isn’t planning to let me live shallow, without noticing what I have, who He is. sometimes I wonder if He is preparing my heart with every nod of affirmation to finding life with the pain and pain with the Life. I am quiet, needing to trust.

  7. says


    Our lives parallel, in some ways and I don’t recall joyous times, but I do moments. I was just thinking about one earlier this week…the joy of firefly’s and sharing that with my brother.

    Girlfriend…dance like no body’s business!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  8. says

    Again a very awesome writing.
    I can SO relate to every word.

    How is it that joy and sorrow are so opposite yet those of us who come from ’empty places’ mingle them together into one memory?
    It is the merging of the confusion that makes the jumbled mess.
    Thank you So much for opening up and sharing.

  9. says

    praise God for a fresh childhood filled with Jesus lived out through our children’s generation and new reasons to celebrate.

    thank you for sharing a sacred moment.

    you are precious to our Father as He sang over you this morning! Zephaniah 3:17

  10. says

    So many thoughts came through my mind as I read this. Over the Memorial weekend I visited some precious places…memories of my childhood. Walked the ground where my grandparents farm once stood, now barren of anything but the cellar where I made those famous mud pies. Joy…pain…all for a purpose. It again draws me to my memory scripture for this week:
    “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” ~ Ps 73:26.

    Believing Him~Pamela

  11. says

    Oh, my…I want this book! I went to Amazon and read a bit, and it’s so lovely and soulfully thought-provoking.

    I also read your post on your Dad. I’ll be praying for you, especially on Father’s Day.

    You have boys? I have four. Come on over and visit me!

  12. says

    First of all, I love, love that song — makes me weep every time I hear it, even when it’s on my ipod and I’m on the running trail.

    Secondly, this is the second of amazing, heartfelt, raw, poignant posts I’ve read by you this morning. You amaze. You are strong.

  13. says

    the photo spoke to me with such depth ..then the song of truth and the image of the dancing in the kitchen and the grief like a crown showed me I was not alone on the path … blessings

  14. says

    I hung on every word that you so eloquently and beautifully shared, the images vivid in my mind’s eye. There is something about being a mom that brings us back to our time as a child to revisit memories, both happy and painful.

    Perhaps the hurt and loss that you experienced as a child fills the well from which you write today.


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