Now Is Now (Again)

This is from just over a year ago. In honor of summer – the extra hours of daylight, the time to really pay attention, the abundance of sweet memories made – here’s an oldie but a goodie. Happy summer, everyone!

Plumb » Now Is Now.


Into the Fold

Warm water, peppermint soap, time alone with a zero percent chance of needing to make snacks for anyone. The conditions were perfect for deep thinking. The other day as I shaved my left leg, to be precise, I saw a scar I got last summer after a nasty bout of molluscum contagiosum (thank you, children). I realized what bad memories came up due to the sight of that scar, and it got me thinking. About all types of scars. About what they mean, truly and metaphorically. About the stories they tell.

For example, my newest scar. I was trying to get dinner on the table before we left for my son’s middle school parent-teacher conferences and noticed some blackberry on my shirt, so I applied the magic trick that gets out berry stain. I leaned over the sink with my shirt held out a bit, and poured boiling water on it. The water ran down the shirt and onto my hand, which hurt, so I yelled and let go, which made the water hit my bare stomach. A lot of pain ensued, as well as blistering skin and the need to wear a giant bandage that stuck out under my shirt (which was now free of berry stain). After a few weeks of burn cream and gauze pads I was left with a scar. I tried various methods to reduce it’s appearance, but it soon became clear that swimsuit season had changed forever.


The Underbelly

Pros: no seat belts, you can get up and pee whenever the need arises, electrical outlets at each seat, wi-fi, giant windows, no one has to drive (i.e. the parents can read or work and even do things with the kids), boarding is quick and easy, you can take lots of luggage without a fee. Cons: it takes a while.

We took the train from Kansas City to St. Louis for spring break this year. It was my kids’ first time on an Amtrak and they loved it. The pros beat the cons by far. But there was one additional positive outcome, which surprised me with it’s goodness. A plane gives you the bird’s eye view; the car gets you on the ground, feeling the distance and experiencing each place you travel through; but the train shows you the underbelly.

Clouds hung low and full over the fields as we sped through the countryside. The comforting rock of the train car, the clickety clack over the rails, the view from the giant windows all brought back memories from when I was a child traveling from Kansas to the east coast. Watching the landscape change as one state melted into another.



As an update to my last post: it did not go well.

I’d love to say that I rocked being quiet and loving my kids with actions and deep eye-gazing, but not so. It seems I like talking, and rely on it, more than I even understood. In fact, it felt inauthentic to zip it – to me and to my kids. In my attempts to communicate without speaking I succeeded in making my 12 year old squirm away and my five year old cry. Lily, my 9 year old  daughter who loves a snuggle more than anything, didn’t mind. Any attention I give her is accepted with such gladness of heart that she could clearly use more. But sweet little Mae was fully creeped out.

It could have been poor timing: on a Saturday morning as I lay in bed, she burst into my room to lament over her missing book mark. The sadness seemed overly intense; she was clearly not in a good place. And I chose that instant to fit in some face time.


It’s Like I Love Them or Something

I woke in the middle of the night with an image from the movie Captain Fantastic in my head. In one scene, Viggo Mortensen (who was nominated for a best actor Oscar) looks at his son through the rear view mirror of their live-in bus. His son has just shaved off his long brown locks, and Mortensen’s character has just shaved his beard. Both were done as an outward sign of an internal change of direction: a tangible demonstration of their respective rites of passage. Father sees son, a look of acknowledgment crosses his face – a look of respect for his son’s this-is-me statementHe runs his hand across his head. The son looks back, slight smile, head tilted up, and runs his hand across his jaw. I think it’s my favorite moment in the film (of which there are many to choose). It communicates a paragraph’s worth of words in two motions and one long look.

I love words. I like to read them, say them, hear them, even invent them sometimes. I talk A LOT, and I write, and I read my writing aloud before I post it. I even talk to our bunny to have an excuse to say words out loud when no humans are available to listen. But I think often the most significant form of communication is silence. Either for good or for evil.

When my husband


I Hear You. I See You.

Here’s what I learned from the Women’s March:

1. Everyone has a story to tell.

2. We should listen.

I went to the women’s march in little ol’ Topeka, KS, last Saturday, along with over 3,000 men, women and children. We were a small portion of the total Women’s March attendees worldwide, but we were there. As I scanned the signs in the crowd I got a sense of each person’s motivation for attending. Some people were clearly angry. Some were more sad. Some were there to support a specific cause or people group. And surely some were all three. I was conflicted about going, not because I was against the march, but because I didn’t think this type of event fit me. I am hyper conscious about keeping my word – letting my yes be yes and my no be no. In the things I promise and the things I merely say. And a lot is said by one’s actions. By showing up, or not.

In going to the march, was I


May They Dream Big

Today feels heavy. Like this scarf I’m wearing is full of bricks. But I refuse to let that feeling win.

I say today is a day for dreamers. As our new President is inaugurated, I am choosing hope over fear. Because I must. I want to scream, and maybe I will for a bit, inside my house, as a lamentation of what we have become. But then I will take several deep breaths, let my blood pressure drop a notch, and remember, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Today is a wrenching disappointment for many, but it is not the end.

I say bring on the dreamers.

We had a family double feature last weekend consisting of La La Land and Selma. Two disparate films, but with one important commonality.


Finally, Hopefully, Eventually

My brother’s dear friend, who he’s known since he was a child, died this weekend. He was 38 years old.

That sort of thing makes you stop and ask some big questions. It makes you sad and mad and confused and thankful, in waves. Like a spotlight, it reveals all that’s good and bad in glaring, brilliant relief. And for me, it makes Christmas, surrounded by family and pointing to a man who loved in total sacrifice, an even more welcome celebration of hope.

This fall I’ve been reading through the Old Testament in a Bible study. And let me be real here: I’ve been confused. I’ve read the Bible before (yep, the whole thing, more than once), but this year I’m looking at it through a more questioning lens. There are many reasons for this, but one is the simple belief that if my faith can’t stand up to questioning, to a deep, thoughtful wrestling match, it’s not very strong at all. I’m not interested in faith that ignores the mess of life. That puts up a wall against uncomfortable uncertainties. I want to meet those questions head-on.

As I’ve read this telling of the God of the Hebrews and pushed and pulled with my understanding of it, I’ve had to throw some things into the simmering pot of pondering.


Thanksgiving Do-Over

This Thanksgiving I forgot to be thankful. I spent a lot of time cooking, prepping the table, planning logistics of when to put the rolls in the oven, take them out, and warm rest of the food before the rolls cooled. Hosting family and friends on Thanksgiving day, more than a typical get-together, is a hit-the-ground-running affair. But since I didn’t schedule actually pondering my own, and our communal, thankfulness, it didn’t happen. I forgot, and it made me sad.

Two years ago when we hosted Thanksgiving, I made an effort to recognize what exactly we were celebrating. Of pointing everyone’s attention toward gratitude and of listening to each person’s thankful heart. It was memorable. It was bonding. It was what Thanksgiving should be. This year I failed as the ring-leader of gratitude. I made some rockin’ brussels sprouts (yes, that’s possible) but I didn’t host the bigger idea of the occasion, which I think is even more important.

I’m certainly not saying


The Wounds That Bind

I wanted to write about anything other than the election this week. Maybe my kids. My marriage. A fabulous song I want to share. The change of seasons. Anything but the elephant in the room.

But my heart still feels a bit raw more than a week after the election. I thought that once the actual voting was finished we would feel a collective, national release of tension, but obviously that was wishful thinking. It seems blaringly clear now that whoever won, it would have been a difficult transition for our country, since half of us feel one way and half feel another. A drastic split down the middle – at least according to those of us who voted. Sadly, we’ll never know what the rest of our countrymen/women wanted. We’re left with the reality of a jagged tear in the fabric of our country. Not a clean cut, even, but a fraying, ragged mess of threads that must somehow be patched together if we want it to be one nation again.

The first step to healing is what is always the first step:


About Me

I am a writer of truth, at least for this site. I write fiction as well, but you won't find it here. The truth is my jam, people. jbhavener at (yep, I'm old-school)

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