Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love and War

Suffice it to say, if you know me you may be aware of my default “angst” setting regarding all things romantic, cuddly and potentially pink. Valentine’s Day therefore is right up there in my book with having my teeth scaled or getting a mammogram (Hey –I’m over 40. Humiliation happens) Yup, Tam’s a hater from way back. While other girls were getting silly little rosebuds with ribbons and boxes of kitschy conversation hearts from “secret admirers” (harrumph! They were probably sending them to themselves) I was sitting in the back row in the trumpet section blowing spit out of my valves and making duck calls with my mouthpiece. All I wanted out of High school in those days was me, and that’s all I got.

Fast forward to single life and college, my first part time job as a cashier at U-Haul and I receive a pretty little sequined heart box and a bouquet for Valentine’s Day from a wonderful auburn haired, blue eyed Nordic man. (My dad. At the time I was his only girl.) Enter reality as my boss snorts his derision and says “If you weren’t so damn mean you could get a real guy to send you flowers.” Yeah. That happened.

While I never blossomed into a fairy tale princess, I am now permanently married with two almost adult male spawn (depends on the day. They vacillate between 4 and 40) My husband is a man’s man. He replaces the wax ring on the toilet without instructions. He can field dress a javelina (it’s a wild pig that eats cactus. Booyah!) He eats fresh jalapenos for fun. The scent from his work clothes could be bottled and sold as a weapon of mass destruction. Frilly little cupid in his ruffled diaper doesn’t stand a chance in this house. And while sometimes I wax a little girly and contemplate sugary moments of waltzing, and orchids and the click of real silver against bone china I’m ok with the trade-off of protection over pursuit.

Truth is my much maligned He-Man would fight a bear for me and the boys and we’d get dinner and a show out of the event. Romance may be wonderful, but real love in all its grit and imperfection is the better option. Real love stays up all night in the emergency room with a vomiting child. Real love holds your hand praying and telling you you’re good when you’re shaking so hard the entire hospital gurney is rattling and you cannot breathe, and you know you are going to die in that moment. (True story. Tam is allergic to morphine. Whodathunkit?) Real love untangles a strangling pet at three in the morning in the mud. Real love caresses the hair on your daddy’s head after he passes away, then stands at your side and sings “Open the Eyes of my Heart” because real love knows you need peace and you want to be strong in the moment for the family that is shattered. Real love knows I’m a better warrior than a romantic, and that’s ok.

He’s not perfect. He got me a stove once for Valentine’s Day. He’s still on the list for that. But life is so hard sometimes and when I find myself at that place of “done” my forever husband is there to pick up the pieces and get me battle ready again. We’re in this together for the duration, and that’s all I ever really wanted. Takes a special man to deal daily with a war horse. He is that man.


Friday, February 14, 2014

On Kisses from God...

So I was sitting in my shower this morning, scraping off my glittery nail polish (note to self. Your toenails are terrifying. Seek professional help. Really) and ruminating over a dream I had in the predawn hours. You see, since an onset of severe sleep apnea I rarely remember my dreams and when I do, they’re stupid. Last one I had I was having a conversation with a blue dog.

You see, I am about as spiritual as mac and cheese – and not the ooey gooey Velveeta joy in an orange box, but more the generic Kraft knock off with that dayglo powder that sticks in in a defiant pasty curdle on the edge of your spatula. That stuff. Last night however, I dreamed of Colleen. I saw her dressed in cobalt, the air around her alive with light. She was singing a song I’ve never heard before and she was surrounded – not by angels but by some of the Worship Team, the choir and her family. It was so real I could have reached out and touched the shoulders of the people worshiping with her…

Chalk it up to that cold Carl’s Jr. bacon western burger I munched on the way home from her Life Celebration or the staccato firings of dendrites attempting to soothe my overwhelmed heart,  but I believe it was a little kiss from God. And I’m tasked to hold it lightly on my fingertips for a moment then send it off gently to someone else in the hope that it lifts a soul, just a little. Only God can infuse my dark words with light for someone else. I don’t have that power.

To those of you commented on my Facebook page yesterday, you have no idea how humbling that was. Truth is I write because I’m not an adept musician (bagpipes on a worship team….uh no.) and the first time I heard myself recorded while singing, I was shocked to know that I sounded more like Kermit the frog than Stevie Nicks (I’m also twirl impeded. Sigh) I write because I’m so much better on paper than in person. Take away the me in the mirror, the imperfections, and there is no filter to dilute the depth of emotion I want to convey. I have no desire to fill up journals with morose, self-absorbed ramblings. I have enough of those rotting on my bookshelves to paper the cages of Petland for the next millennium. I write for you. Because I love you. Because you matter. Because I see that light within you and I am drawn to it. Maybe my words will be the mirror that lets you see that light…you’re alive with it and it shimmers around you – effervescent and beautiful.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mixing Grief and Joy

The middle of the week is winding down and I find myself on autopilot.  In of my first official returns to blogging early last month I told 2014 to bring it. In retrospect, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

Truth is 2014 is gearing up to be a continuation of 2013 which was simply an extension of its wearisome predecessor 2012. Honestly, I can’t remember the last “good” year I had.  Work is still a blur. I’m still fat. I still don’t have that book keeping business, or that publishing business or a clean kitchen floor and now I find myself dealing with the most aching grief I’ve felt since my dad passed away in 2009. All this in the face of everything I’ve been reading and hearing in my heart when moments are quiet and I look up, praying under my breath for that flood of indescribable joy I know is but a blink away….

Last Friday, one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the blessing to experience, if even on a surface level won her four year fight with the monster that is Lyme Disease. The first time I saw Colleen and her husband was in 2005. It was a summer Sunday morning and I and my family attended a local church called Believers Center for the first time. We were looking for a new home after making a wrenching decision to leave our Lutheran church. I remember we talked about how we didn’t want to go “Pentacostal”, or “large”. We just wanted a quiet small place to disappear maybe on the back row on Sunday morning. I can’t tell you what song was being sung but I do remember that the music was totally amazing and I and my whole family wept through all the songs. We’ve been going to BCA ever since. Along the way, we grew to love Colleen and Jaris and the rest of the worship team like family. It took me about three years to gather the courage to join choir (because I was scared Colleen would actually hear me sing and toss me out) and I still remember one of my first practices when she turned around and said, “I can hear you. It sounds good.” I think I forgot all the words to the songs for the rest of practice. I never lost that sense of awe and respect for Colleen. I keep it in my heart even now as I consider her grace, her tenacity and her impact on others as she battled a monster that just kept coming….

I’ve been so blessed to know other people in her extended family. One of her nephews was the first friend my younger son met at BCA. My older son is close to another nephew and a niece. Her husband Jaris was instrumental (no pun intended) in helping our younger child play bass guitar and Colleen herself mentored our older son in choir and on the Worship Team. We learned to worship watching Colleen and the rest of the worship team and now with her passing, we are learning how deep love and grace can go in the face of loss.

I know so many people would look at Colleen’s passing as failure on multiple levels. Why would a loving God take a beautiful, strong, gifted woman away from her husband, her children, her church family and her circle of influence. Why would He let her suffer? And the worst – where was her faith for healing? Honestly, before 2005 I would have been asking those questions myself. But Colleen and others at BCA have taught me that none of those questions are even worth contemplation. The enduring part of Colleen’s legacy is so evident in those who love her, who have responded with that mix of joy and sorrow knowing she isn’t here, but she WON and is where she always wanted to be, at the feet of her King and Father. Whole and singing and dancing and laughing that huge laugh she had. That love has been on display in the responses of so many, and it is proof that love, not death, is the most powerful force on the planet. We cry because we miss her. And that’s ok. But torment and tears and suffering are all temporary. We are destined for a time and a place where there will be no sorrow, and no suffering. Colleen lived her life like that. I want to live mine like that too.  I hold on to the very real hope that the aching grief will indeed pass and that flood of indescribable joy is only a moment away.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Songs Unsung - For Colleen Cawthon

Songs Unsung

So we live in these two worlds  
This aching dark this perfect light
A standard of love unfurled
No more struggle you’ve won the fight
Tread the threshold of forever
Your joy has just begun
There is grace to surrender
There is one more song unsung

Where is God in the chaos
When torment takes us down by degrees
A little more broken every moment
Down in the dirt and the fight on bloodied knees
God is there in the heat of the battle
Telling you you’ve already won
He is your words when you cannot speak
And your music for songs unsung

And I will dance in the depth of sorrow
And I will sing In the midst of pain
And I will live today and hope for tomorrow
When I will see you whole and rejoicing again
Tears are temporary in this place  
Your celebration has begun
Standing with Him face to face
Singing sweet songs unsung

TL Boehm


My heart simply can’t process multiple emotions, and my words can’t articulate. I know life without God. Without worship. I have written about darkness, about despair - about selfish things that will simply burn in the end. I was one of those people who watched Christians perpetually fail that love litmus test. But eight years ago when I and my family worshiped for the first time at Believers Center - truly worshiped with tears of joy spilling unhindered - all that was lifted. Colleen, Jaris and the Cawthon family have been so important to us. I've watched my family grow to be strong men of God. Worshipers and prayers who use their talents, time and energy to help others. Right now in this moment my heart aches in knowing so many are grieving and missing her. But it is also galvanized knowing that she fought a monster. And WON. And that means the rest of us, we win too.