Being the Memory Keeper

monberg-2009-2298I remember moving to the US for college and was struck by a few things.

Why do people drive into their garages and never say hi to their neighbors?  Why were the streets so quiet? Where were the people?  Everything was immaculate–yards groomed, flower beds perfect, no a hit of garbage on the streets.

It seemed strange to me, having come from a land filled with people, conversation, movement and cars, that people would live so alone.

Unfortunately, for most of us, that is what our life looks like.  I’ve grown accustomed to moving in and out of my neighborhood with nary a comment to anyone for days at a time.

Yesterday Desta and I trekked up the street to a new friend’s home.  Well, a new friend to us.  While Desta enjoyed the company of 2 little 6 year old towheads, I sat and talked with their mom.  It was so refreshing.

The conversation took many weaves and turns and at one point, we ended up talking about Kara Tippets; author of Mundane Faithfulness.  Turns out, our neighbor’s husband is the creator of Kara’s blog.

I was struck with something this new friend told me.  She said Kara had the privilege of saying good bye for a long time.  One of the things she did was create memory boxes for each of her children.  She put notes with each item–she was the memory keeper for these things and knowing her good bye was coming, she wanted to make sure the stories continued.

My first thought was this, “I need to do that.”  I need to go through the things that have lived in boxes, some for 13 years now, and make decisions.  Ask myself, “What is the story for this?  Is it worth keeping and telling? If so, I need to write it down and make sure it’s told.”

Today I started.  Pulled down a big box from Desta’s closet and took out the blanket she was wrapped in when I held her for the first time.  I took out the beautifully embroidered Ethiopian cloth I carried her around Addis in those first days.  Then I found the picture frame.  The second photo we ever saw of our girl.

And I lost it ya’ll.  I cried because this exercise is hard!  Being the memory keeper means dredging up the good and the hard. It means letting the emotions of today stir the emotions of yesterday. To be honest and frank, the emotions of today are really challenging to admit.

Being Desta’s mom lately has been really hard.  It has been filled with a lot of discouragement, guilt, anger.  My role has seemed displaced and not important to our daughter.  I’m created daily with a barrage of complaints, anger and strong dislike.  We end the day, most of the time, with similar emotions.

As I looked at that picture, held those blankets and rocked in the chair I prayed in for 2 years, I am sad and so thankful that that neighbor down the street invited us over for a play date and shared her heart with me.  I am so thankful that in the midst of this society where it is easy to be alone, to just do life solitary, that I made a choice yesterday to step outside my introverted zone and meet someone new.

I have hope that God will answer the prayers I had so many years ago for our sweet daughter. I have hope that one day Desta will realize how treasured and loved she is.  Until then, I press on, leaning in and focusing on living one moment at a time.


Summer starting…

20150606_074831The days have been full since school let out.  Each of our kids helped plan their summer–filling it with camps, soccer, basketball, pool fun and friends.

20150612_145106This is the first summer that I’ve worked my full hours during summer.  It’s been an adjustment–finding the balance  between cranking out work while the kids are at camp and making time for them.

20150614_160918We continue to work on this house–the benefits of purchasing a 1980′s builder special is there is always another project to tackle. We’ve finally, almost, completed updating all the trim to white.  Buh bye brown plastic trim and doors!

20150605_094213One of my goals for this summer was to get back into running shape and hike with the kids more.  The summer running has been hard–cross training all winter kept me in shape but tackling hills is a whole other story!

20150614_091509As for hiking with the kids–that’s been great.  The two oldest do great on long hikes. They are filled with conversation.

We’ve also headed into the field of Occupational Therapy.  We’re really hoping that soon consistent sleep and behavior patterns will show themselves much improved.  I am still longing for more than one night a week of consistent sleep that doesn’t result in a 5 am monster wake up.

The blog continues to take a distant second to life…and is a running narrative for me to remember the “that was when” moments years from now.  For now, present living is my motto.



Wordless Week


Braids and Basketball


Walks and runs in the rain because Colorado has decided it prefers to be called ColoradoNorthWest

Lorna, Thandy et all_Biblica_May2015

Great conversations with amazing work partners!


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo field trip with 12 extra special kindergartners

20150518_130015 (1)

Badly sprained ankle = boot, physical therapy and no soccer

matt in philippines

Matt inspiring kids in the Philippines

20150519_155610Yummy homemade granola!


Emily McDowell Cards.  Seriously the BEST ever.


Is it age or social media?

drdseussyoullmissthebestthingsI’ve discovered something interesting in my old age.

The people I didn’t really hang out with much in high school are the coolest adults out there!  The boarding school I attended was big and with the layout of dorms, roommates and class size, it wasn’t possible to really get to know everyone.

As with any teenager on the planet, you find what works and you stick with it.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve discovered that the people I didn’t know well in high school are pretty amazing.  I mean really amazing.  They live in other countries, take their kids on international adventures. They take care of the poor and refugees.  These people do some amazing jobs–lawyers, photographers, and teachers.

And I wish I’d know them better — because I think I missed out on a lot. I missed out on learning other ways of thinking and acting.  I missed out on seeing the world through their lens.

The good news is, since Facebook is apparently “the” thing for 30-40 somethings (if you want to be in fashion, get an Instagram account!), I can at least learn a bit through their posts.  And sometimes, I even get a chance to visit them.

So is this an age thing–you know, the older you get, the more you learn that we are really all the same? OR is this social media helping us discover things we wouldn’t have ever seen?

Rewind 20 years, take away social media, would I have the same revelations without seeing their posts?  Perhaps.

What I know is this–to quote a famous doctor,

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”


20150507_092014This morning Matt and I headed to Caroline’s school for the 7th grade history project presentations.  As we walked through the gym doors, the place was buzzing with 12 and 13 year olds.  Milling around, they were grading each other’s projects, talking about the important things in their lives, waiting to present–being kids.

Right before the fair, I read this article about the kidnapped girls from Nigeria. Remember the #bring back our girls campaign?  For many in the US, it was a brief moment of solidarity with women from another land. After a brief hurrah, we went back to our normal lives. BBOG-Logo21But for those young girls from Nigeria–many 13 years old — their captivity continued in the most horrific and terrible conditions.  The Nigerian government recently rescued many of these girls.  Good right?  Yes, good.  Except that out of the 234 girls rescued, 214 came back pregnant. _82752749_82751118Can you just stop and let that sink in for just one minute?

214 out of 234 pregnant

Can you imagine what these young girls–the same age as the 7th grade middle schoolers milling around at a history fair at school–had to endure?  And now, to have a tangible, present living reminder of that hell?

My heart is grieving because it’s not fair.   I read the banners, saw the online appeals for justice and still wonder, “We didn’t do enough!”  It is my prayer that these young women living in this land of my birth will have help and hope brought to them.

May we not forget the lives of women around the world! May we not forget that we are among the richest, most blessed people living in this land of freedom.

Dear God, come quickly. Come quickly!