Making Progress (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 8)

Sep 14 2016

img_1509There are holes in my walls, and this time they’re supposed to be there instead of spontaneously appearing as precious surprises from my teenage boy’s fist.

We are making progress, folks!

Things are a mess. They’re chaotic and jumbled. There’s a sheen of dust and debris over every surface. None of which is different than normal, actually. But WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS.

I wish I could remember that every day. That it’s a series of steps toward progress, not instant completion. Like when my dad used to tell me I didn’t have to clean my whole room; I just had to pick up one thing at a time and keep doing that over and over until the room was clean. Of course, my dad underestimated the appeal of sulking on my bed and muttering into my tape recorder about how mean and horrible my parents were instead of cleaning, but he’d have had a point if my actual goal had been to clean my room instead of make my parents suffer. I mean, I made my parents suffer one step at a time until they suffered totally and completely, so I feel like I understood the spirit of what he was teaching even if I ignored the letter of it, you know? Like, my dad taught me to make slow, deliberate progress toward the larger goal of making them utterly insane, and I’m still good at making people nuts today, so WAY TO TEACH LIFE SKILLS, DAD.

Our remodel is coming along, though. We have a make-shift camping kitchen set up in the backyard on an old, peeling brown vinyl table, and inside, everything is ripped to pieces and being slowly put back together.

AND I think we’ve picked our countertops.

When last we chatted, I asked for your advice thusly: Can I do laminate or MUST I consider something else?

Guys, I was pretty set on laminate. Not gonna lie. It’s cheap, getting prettier all the time, EASY to care for, and hard to ruin. That’s a Woolsey Win, right there.

So if you wanted me to consider something else, you were going to have to talk me into it. Like, serious, sit-down, come-to-Jesus chat. I did, however, make a commitment to listen to you lest I end up with another green and orange kitchen, and what you said surprised me!

Here are the results, by percentage in favor of each option:


Given the choices of Laminate or Other:

  • 37% of you were all, “Sure! Laminate’s great!”
  • 34% of you were all, “STOP, BETH. LISTEN TO US. Quartz is what you actually want. We SWEAR.”
  • 17% of you adore Joanna Gaines, and she loves concrete.
  • 11% of you like your Corian counters (but others detest it, so…)
  • And less than 1% of you suggested other options like granite and marble, which doesn’t fit our budget.

Honestly, that’s a huge showing for quartz, so I looked into it more thoroughly.

Now, Greg thought we ought to source Phenolic resin countertops, typically used in laboratories, which are difficult to find, very expensive, and indestructible. Let’s be honest, indestructible lab counters are PERFECT for our house. We Woolseys are TOTALLY a Mad Science Experiment one foaming beaker away from setting the world on fire; we could use indestructible surfaces around these parts. On the downside, we briefly looked for some, and we can’t find any without making an extraordinary effort, except we have 5 kids so we’re unlikely to make an extraordinary effort for counters, you know? Psychiatric care? ABSOLUTELY; extraordinary effort, here we come! Counters? No. Counters are not now and are not likely in our future to rise to the level of Worthy of Extraordinary Effort. So it’s really not an option.

On the bright side, it turns out lab counters are very much like quartz counters — indestructible, unstainable, unbreakable resin — and so, while Greg, Mr. Cheap Pants, would normally put the kibosh on quartz due to cost alone, quartz is actually cheaper than lab counters, so he already self-prepared for this kind of upgrade. In our Christian house, we call this the Leading of the Lord. The Preparation of the Holy Spirit! In other words, Jesus wants us to have quartz counters!

(Please note: Jesus does not want us to have quartz counters. That’s offensive.)

Now, we don’t technically know yet if we can really afford these countertops because Greg told the countertop guy we wanted the countertop we definitely did not want so he sent the wrong bid. Greg says this is my fault because I told Greg earlier the same day that the Countertop We Did Not Want was the Countertop we DID Want, but Greg was clearly not listening when I told him the Countertop We Did Want had become the Countertop We Previously Wanted, leaving room for the Countertop We Did Not Want to become the Countertop We Now Definitely Want.

I don’t know why Greg can’t keep these things straight.

In short (too late), I’m fairly, almost, approaching-definitely certain we’re going for quartz counters. The type we’ve picked, installed, look like this:


And like this:


I tried to find pictures that show the counters with white cabinets, subway tile backsplash, and dark wood floors like ours. I think the pics above are as close as I’m going to get, except you’ll need to imagine them with perpetual paperwork, piles of sticky dishes, and an unidentifiable puddle of gelatinous goo by the sink.

In conclusion, construction is underway, I think we’ve made all the major decisions so we can actually proceed with the project, and you can say All the Prayers for Greg.

Sending love,






We’re Back On! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 7)

Sep 11 2016

Alrighty, folks; it’s been a little while since we’ve discussed this, so for those of you who’d like a refresher, feel free to check out the first 6 installments our Group Remodeling Project:

In short, we were TOTALLY UNDERWAY for our kitchen remodel in April/May before we fell rather dramatically apart and basically are just now, 4 months later, getting our crap together enough to dive back in.

We ARE, however, diving ALL the way back in, as we’re wont to do, and so we’ll commence torturing Greg together again STAT.

To date, we’ve agreed the old, crappy stove we start with the ice pick has to go, along with the orange counters. We’ve agreed I cannot be trusted to make ANY kitchen decisions without you (reference: orange counters). We’ve decided we’ll put subway tile up the walls in the kitchen area. We’ve met Betty, our new old stove and the Hero of this Tale, and we’ve decided to put her against the wall between the fridge and the sink where she’ll shine without blocking the window.


We left you hanging when it came to the range hood, but we’d previously agreed either a stainless hood against a tiled wall…


…or a hood mounted under a cabinet…


…would be fine, so Greg and I left the decision up to the expense.

The contractors tell us the former option (stainless steel hood against tiled wall) is cheapest, so SOLD.


Are you ready??

CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN, and Betty’s new home is being prepared.


Please note, for those of you not yet convinced of my inability to decorate in any way that resembles a grown-up with, say, taste, that mint green wall you see with the cabinets removed is, in fact, the original wall color I picked on purpose… wait for it… to go with the orange counters. DO YOU SEE WHY I NEED YOU?

Yes. Yes, I need you to the moon.

Which brings me to the latest.

We, um, have started construction without all our decisions made. Like counters. NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT COUNTERS. And Not Knowing will hold up construction since they can’t tile ’til the counters are in place. But the construction guys were ready to roll, and I’ve been procrastinating the heck out of this project, so I told them to go ahead and start, and I’d try to catch up.

That’s what I said.

Go ahead and start, and I’ll try to catch up. After all, if we don’t start by doing something, we might end up doing nothing, and I CAN’T START MY STOVE WITH AN ICE PICK FOREVER.

Guys, this is totally like life. Because Oh My WORD, friends; oh my word. Sometimes we just have to START ANYWAY, you know? Even without knowing the end goal. And even if we’re fully aware others will outpace us. Sometimes we have to just GO AHEAD and say all the Hail Marys and hope we can catch up. Amen? AMEN.

Which is why today’s subject is Belated Counters. Specifically, what type of material to use and what color.

Here are the factors for type of countertop material:

  1. We can’t take care of stuff. <– We can’t. We’re terrible at maintaining things and treating them gently, so if there’s a type of counter top has to be handled carefully or must be babied, polished, sealed, oiled or sanded, it’s out, friends. It will die a horrible, terrible death at my house, and no one wants that.
  2. Due to #1, we’ve ruled out granite, soapstone, wood and tile.
  3. Confession: I’ve loved our orange countertops. All except the color. They’re laminate countertops, and they are so easy to clean and maintain! They don’t stain. You can’t break them by sitting on them. They’re easy to wash with soap and water. And we never have to polish, seal or oil them.
  4. So we’re considering laminate again… I hear laminate’s gotten better. Prettier? Less plasticky? With lovely edges now? So I want to seriously consider laminate unless you all are, like, NO WAY, BETH; WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF. Check out these pics at Decor Chick, though, before you yell at me, K? I think you’ll see what I mean.
  5. …or maybe stainless steel? Now, I’m not actually sure we can afford these, but I like the idea in theory — countertops that can take what a lab dishes out can surely take what my kids dish, right? Plus they don’t stain. I have heard I won’t like all the fingerprints on them before the years it takes to develop a nice patina, and my friend, Emily, who’s weighed in, says they’re too cold for the space. Emily is good people with a pretty house, so I tend to believe her. Added to the possible high cost (we did rule out whether the steel shop in town was willing to make them — they’re not 🙁 ), and I’m not certain this is high enough on the list but wanted to throw it out there.

So, Question #1 is countertop type. Can I go ahead with laminate? Or must I consider other options?

Next, we have to discuss color. I do like high contrast looks like our dark wood floor with our white cabinets, but I’m wondering if the counter should also be a contrast to the cabinets (dark brown? dark grey?) or if it should blend in with the cabinets (lighter gray, maybe?). I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, FRIENDS. HELP ME.

On the one hand, I’m a short, round woman, and I’ve always been told not to break things up too much — do not wear a skirt of one color and a top of a totally different color, Beth; it chops you up! — but on the other hand, I’ve never actually heeded that advice, BECAUSE IT’S CRAP, and I’ll defend to the death my kitchen’s right to wear whatever she darn well pleases.

Glad we had this chat.

Nevertheless, my kitchen can’t change her counters as frequently as I change my skirt, so I want to do well by her.

Like, take a look at this photo is from HGTV’s Fixer Upper


The color scheme and farmhouse industrial feel above closely match the vibe in our kitchen, from the darker wood floors and the reclaimed wood table top to the subway tile walls and white cabinets. Their counters have that light/medium gray thing going on, which makes me think we’d be on the right track with something similar. Yay or nay??

So Question #2 is countertop color. Light grey? Dark grey? Something else entirely??

In conclusion, help a girl out. You’re my only hope.





P.S. In other news, I do not have to murder Greg, after all! Which is, frankly, hours of planning and premeditation wasted. However, because it DID turn out to be a handsaw he let the 9-year-old use and NOT the power saw AND because he didn’t let that child purchase or build a forge for melting metal and also inevitably his own flesh, now Greg thinks I owe him cake.

Ten Things that Happened the First Week of School

Sep 8 2016

It’s Day Three of the First Week of School in these parts. Here are 10 things that have happened:

  1. We’ve put the kids to bed late. Every night. We mean well, I swear it, but the Summer Schedule is hard to break, man. Also, we have to, like, stand up to put kids to bed, and we just haven’t had it in us. By Thanksgiving, though; I’m pretty sure we can have this sorted by Thanksgiving.
  2. I woke up early Tuesday, the first day of school, to a sobbing 9 year old, emotionally destroyed because his mother, who washed everyone else’s backpack because she loves them more than she loves him (and also, has he mentioned that he has to do Everything, All the Time, and No One Else Ever Does Anything?), neglected to wash his, and it smelled like rotten cheese, and 4th grade was RUINED BEFORE IT EVEN STARTED, and, no, I shouldn’t try to fix it because it’s Too Late, and why don’t you ever think of others, Mom? WHY?
  3. I quick-washed and dried a backpack before school started because I AM A MAGICIAN AND DESERVE AN AWARD. 
  4. All my kids — every single one — went to school in clean clothes the first day, without holes, AND in shoes that fit. Minus the kid who wore the same outfit the two days prior, and minus the kid who had holes in his jeans (“They’re FINE, Mom”), and minus the kid who outgrew the shoes we bought him the previous month and so had to curl his toes to shove them in an old, dirty, holey pair of sneakers.
  5. I hid in the bathroom on Tuesday night, hoping if I stayed there long enough, the kids would take their mountains of First Day paperwork to their father who failed to plan ahead as well as me and was thus available, watching TV, in the family room. Listen, friends; listen… I KNOW this is not an Inspirational Blog. I KNOW who I am and what we do here, and I’m sorry for breaking character here, but hiding in the bathroom totally worked! GREG DID ALL THE PAPERWORK. <– In other words, Be Inspired! BOOM.
  6. I woke up early Wednesday and made bacon and eggs, thinking surely this is the year I will make my kids hot breakfast. Surely this is the time for Protein and Grace and not another bowl of Just Go Get Something from the Pantry, kids. Surely this is the season of life I will learn to rise with the dawn like the Proverbs 31 Woman and not rise like the Living Dead after hitting snooze twelve times. Fortunately, my son said the eggs were gross — “like poop, Mom,” he said, *spit* *spit* *spit*ing them back on his plate — so now I don’t have to make breakfast for the rest of the school year, AND I can blame my kid’s lack of gratitude instead of my inevitable laziness. FOR THE WIN, friends. For. The. Win!
  7. Wednesday night, one kid who’s had a very rough time lately, told us we suck and he hates us and he’s quitting school and moving out and walked out of the house and slammed the door and came home 5 minutes later saying sorry and to lots of Sympathy and Love but also Consequences for being a butt. And also, my other kid keeps growling like a dragon.
  8. My husband and I passed each other on the stairs around midnight. Not to brag about our Romance for the Ages, but we made Eye Contact and said, “Hi,” and “Hey,” and “Fancy meeting you here,” and “Come here often?” He brushed my hand. He made it seem like an accident, but I think it might have been on purpose. I hope to see him again someday.
  9. I did not wake up early Thursday because it’s important to Grow and Learn and Change, and I learned everything I need to know about waking up early on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  10. Tomorrow is Friday, which means we’ve almost made it through one week of school. ONE WEEK OF SCHOOL DOWN! In conclusion, praise the Lord God Almighty for Teachers and may we all receive divine amounts of Love and Grace and Patience and Endurance for the next 35+ weeks. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS, friends.



This Is My Brain on Parenting

Sep 4 2016

Listen; this doesn’t make me proud. It’s just true.

Here’s what you need to know, where “need to know” is used in the loosest possible sense along with my discretion and sense of decorum:

I just peed part way — like, a smattering — and then I stopped peeing and got up to do other things.

I was seriously standing up, buttoning my pants, before I realized I hadn’t actually finished. Like, I was in such a hurry that I ran into the bathroom, tossed a teeny, tiny bit of urine into the potty like I was throwing a fastball from a pitcher’s mound, my Subconscious said, “GOOD ENOUGH FOR NOW, BETH; NOW OFF TO DO OTHER ESSENTIAL THINGS — GO! GO! GO!,” and I listened and obeyed her.

Allow me to note… this is not OK, friends.

This is NOT RIGHT.

But this rushing and doing and never finishing is so deeply embedded in the mama brain that she runs to the restroom, pulls down her pants, pees halfway, clenches, stands, and is flushing and buttoning before she realizes she has the inalienable right to pee all the way.


I was Pants-Pulled-Up and Button-Fastened before I realized I should not only finish what I went to the bathroom for, but that it’s OK to use the additional 5 seconds it would take to fully empty my bladder. Like, I’m allowed to take that time. Pee Completion is an appropriate and wise use of the precious and few minutes in a day.

I realize there are people who say the internet is a wasteland of potty stories and people who share TMI, but THIS IS HOW FRENETIC THE LIFE OF A MOTHER IS, friends, and I don’t know a better way to illustrate the insanity than this.


This Life of a Parent thing? It is ridiculous. Also, it is an excellent excuse for being TOTALLY NUTS.

Solidarity, fellow parents. And fellow nut jobs. And fellow humans, because, let’s be honest, we’re all weird weirdos who are weird,





P.S. I AM, however, totally rocking parenting on other fronts! I was feeling frazzled and frenetic making breakfast for my children without having had my morning cup of coffee. I was trying, man; I swear. But I was vacant-eyed and sluggish and said, “What? What?” forty-five times every time my children tried to talk to me because sans-coffee I cannot possibly be expected to understand words. Finally, one of the nine-year-olds, said, “Mom? MOM. Mom mom mom mom mom,” and I said, “What?” and he said, “LOOK ME IN THE EYES, MOM. ARE YOU LISTENING? This. Is Very. Important. HAVE YOU HAD COFFEE?” “NO, I HAVE NOT,” I said, and, “I AM DYING OVER HERE,” I said, and he replied very slowly, “MOM. HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING?? PUT ON YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK BEFORE ASSISTING OTHERS.” Which is when I realized I am the Best Parent in the History of the World because I am raising a child who sees the needs of others and speaks Love into their lives. I WIN PARENTING!

P.P.S. Full disclosure, though: after I had coffee, the same child told me he watched a YouTube video on how to make tiny drinking glasses out of strawberries and fill them with jello shots. “Naturally, we’ll need a lot of vodka,” he said. So feel free to add or deduct Parenting Points as you will.

Announcing: A Likely Story – The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans

Sep 3 2016

Announcing: A Likely Story
The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans


Friends, sometimes the Real World sucks, and right now is a Particularly Sucky time in U.S. and world history. I mean, seriously. I read the news. I see the stories. I do what I can, and then I feel helpless and tired when I can’t do more. This is something I need to work on; understanding there are Hard Things and then releasing the Hard Things so I can still Embrace Joy. Both/And, friends. I need to learn — probably a lesson I’ll be learning forever — that Light and Dark chase each other constantly across the sky and in our hearts, and we live much of our lives in the Dusk and the Dawn when we can’t separate them from each other.

But, I dunno… sometimes I just need a break, man. Like, I need a way to rest. And to live in spaces where Good triumphs over Evil. And where the journey may be long and fraught but Love wins in the end, you know? I need to remember that grace and gratitude rise like the phoenix from grime and grit and love will wend its way around and through and out of loss.

And I wish I could do those things by reading inspired and triumphant literature. The kind of books Oprah recommends! But, OMG, guys. OMG. As soon as I read that someone’s debut novel is “triumphant,” I’m all, “Nope. No. Uh uh. No way,” ’cause “triumphant” is totally code for dark and tragic and sad and thoughtful, and I know in my heart they are going to make me fall in love with a character and then KILL her, and I can’t. Cannot EVEN. I cannot live in a Real World where real things happen like people I love dying and live through it again in my books which are also Very, Very Real.

So I read other books.

And I LOVE them.

I dive into their worlds, and I live there for a while instead of here. I lay down my concerns and pick up my fictional friends’. I help carry their burdens, and they help me carry mine, and it feels like a fair trade because we each carry the magical, miraculous power to help the other live her life — my fictional friend by easing my heart and soul and reminding me what it means to be flawed and fabulous and weak and still strong, and me by bringing her to life whenever I open her pages.

In case there are others out there like me who like to fall down the rabbit hole into wild, weird and wonderful worlds, I’m starting this book club. A Likely Story is for those of us who revel in escapist fiction and long for more stories built in brilliant worlds with strong and flawed heroes and heroines; Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Legends, Mythologies, and Tall Tales of every type.

At the beginning of each month, I’ll share that month’s book selection for those of you who’d like to join me. Books will be curated along with me by several friends who are as in love with these genres as I am, including two librarians and a bookstore manager who devour every magical YA book that exists. Our goals will be to find fantastical tales that:

  1. are well-written. There’s nothing worse than reading a series and wanting to take a red pen to it.
  2. have unique, detailed, well-crafted worlds that capture the imagination.
  3. are plot- and character-driven stories that make us want to read far, far later in the night than is reasonable for mothers who are supposed to be responsible for the children come morning.
  4. champion strong women and strong men working together. I cannot stand – cannot stand – books that make men the heroes at the expense of women or vice versa.

AND we’ve picked our book for September!


The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Now, this is Ms. Wecker’s debut novel, and it’s probably even triumphant, but fortunately none of the reviews use that word so we don’t have to avoid it. Whew! Instead, reviews describe The Golem and the Jinni as enchanting, intriguing and highly original. SOLD!

In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

If you’d like to join the public Facebook group for A Likely Story Book Club, click here! (You can also always join me on Facebook here, where we often wave to each other in the dark.)

Sending love… and the hope for a little escape for us all,


IMPORTANT DISCOVERY: YOU *ARE* PREPARED! FOR ALL THE THINGS! Unless you’re actually ready for them, in which case you’re not prepared at all.

Aug 30 2016

School starts in 7 days.

We have nothing ready.


NO things, to be exact, unless you count the grubby, holey clothes my children already own, in which I fully intend to send them to school.

This is OK with me.

This is fine.

I’m over new school clothes and over new school shoes. Statistically, only 1 out of every 5 Woolsey children gives a poop about wearing clean, new clothes to school, and that one is already away at college and therefore theoretically capable of worrying about her own damn clothes this year. The rest of the minions? All of my efforts are lost on them. ALL OF THEM. EVERY EFFORT = LOST. They do not care, friends. And so, because I have neither the time nor the funds to artificially care on their behalf in order to meet a social standard for dressing and shodding children in overpriced gear so I can hold my head up in the mommy circles, I also do not care.

But people seem to want me to care. And to be prepared.

Are You Prepared for Back-to-School? <— I keep seeing articles with titles like this. And every time I think, “Hahahaha! NO. No, I’m not prepared. I didn’t have time to wash myself today; OF COURSE I’M NOT PREPARED FOR NEXT WEEK. What kind of a dumbass question is ARE YOU PREPARED?”

But then I started to wonder what prepared means, exactly.



Pared before.

What’s pared and why to I want to be before that?

And so, because I love words, I looked up the etymology of prepare. The history. The original meaning. And you know what I learned, guys? THIS IS SO GREAT. For reals. SO, SO great…


IMG_1430Prepared is derived from two Latin words: prae which means before and parare which means make ready.

Literally, the word prepare means before making ready.

Guys! Guys. Guys. To be prepared does not mean we are making ready. It means we are before making ready.

If we are prepared — if we are preparing — we are prior to making ready. We not yet making ready. We are not arrived at making ready.

Which means I AM SO PREPARED, y’all.

Next time people ask me, “Are you prepared for school to start?” I can say, “YES! I TOTALLY AM!” I am COMPLETELY before making ready. No school supplies in sight. No schedules or lists. No carpool arrangements. No clothes. No shoes. NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. I AM COMPLETELY PREPARED.


So, in case you’re in the same boat as me with school about to start or already started and you have not made ready, then YOU ARE PREPARED. Unless you’ve made ready, in which care you’re not prepared at all, and we feel sad for you.



St. Jude: Patron Saint of Chaos and Impossible Causes

Aug 19 2016

I’m in Hawaii, sitting next to an olive-green painted stucco wall on the concrete deck of the Kona Brewing Company drinking a half Lavaman Lager / half Hula Hefeweizen overlooking a Chevron gas station. The ocean is on the other side of the highway somewhere — probably — and my beer is nearly gone, very warm, and totally flat. Still delicious, though, because low standards for the win!

I don’t know why it always feels important to tell you where I am when I write to you. Maybe because I’m always asking myself that question both literally and figuratively; where the hell am I? Am I where I want to be? Where I meant to be? Is where I am OK anyway, even if I’ve veered off track or didn’t have a well-mapped plan?

We’re here on Oahu dropping our oldest baby off for college which is impossible to believe and still true, and, from the articles I see online, I notice I’m supposed to be doing things I haven’t done — like prepare for drop-off day with a measuring tape and garbage bags and a tool kit — and feeling things strongly instead of not being able to make sense of my feelings at all. I see I’m supposed to want to make her bed and unpack her stuff and we’re supposed to argue about that — her staking out her turf and me trying to “help” without asking how — and I wonder whether this is another Mom Thing I’m Doing Wrong because I have no real need to do any of those things, nor to wash her new sheets or worry whether she’ll do well in this new life. I don’t know whether I’m cocky, but I feel like I already know; she’ll do well in this new life and she won’t, like all of the humans throughout history — happy and well-adjusted, and also struggling and wondering where she fits. Where the hell is she, anyway? Is she where she wants to be? Where she meant to be? Is this place OK, even if she veers off track or doesn’t have a well-mapped plan?

This is a strange season, and I know that’s not true just for me or for our family. This is a Strange Season, friends.

  • Our kids are getting older and the Parenting Game changes its rules constantly these days. We practice flexibility like it’s our profession, the way doctors practice medicine; years of study, followed by internship, followed by residency which nearly kills us with its dangerous lack of sleep, followed by either actively working or being on call 24/7. Relentless, right? Relentless.
  • Our church denomination is trying to decide whether there’s room for LGBTQ people at the table, and we had more meetings this summer with no decisions again, which were agonizing to everyone and which make all of us on all the sides wonder whether there’s a place for us here.
  • Our oldest boy-child is suffering. We’re seeking more help for him (always), and we don’t know if we’re doing enough (also always).
  • And our U.S. presidential election … just… what the holy ever-loving fuck, friends?? I know I should put that differently, but OH DEAR GOD, HELP US, and, honestly, given the number of times I’ve prayed using the words “what the ever-loving fuck,” I trust Jesus to know that’s a sincere prayer.

This is just a Really Strange Season, is my point. Very Strange. Exceedingly Strange. Like standing on shifting sand. Or on what we thought was solid ground which turns out to be a thin crust of earth on top of a giant sinkhole that gives way so we freefall in perpetuity like Alice headed to Wonderland. DUDE; where the hell am I? Am I where I want to be? Where I meant to be? Is where I am OK anyway, even if I’ve veered off track or didn’t have a well-mapped plan or am in utter freefall??

In recent years, I’ve claimed St. Jude as my family’s patron saint. He is, after all, the patron saint of Chaos and Impossible Causes and Things Almost Despaired Of. I could think of no better fit. We’re not Catholic, except in the sense that we believe in a Universal Church that unifies, rather than divides, us. And I had no theology of saints or sainthood except to notice that American Protestants reject them as idols. So I have no idea how many good Christian people I’m offending in claiming a patron saint for our family, but I find that with age I’m less and less inclined to pay attention to who’s being offended and more inclined to pay attention to the things which seem Deeply True and lead me to Love God, who’s other name is Love, and Love My Neighbors As Myself. The saints, it turns out, aren’t idols but advocates who intercede with God on our behalf, and, while I can why see this is offensive to protestants, believing, as we do, that we need no intercessor between ourselves and Love since that’s what Jesus (aka, Love Incarnate) came specifically to change, I find the concept not at all offensive that may dialogue directly with Love and ask a saint to intercede alongside me.

In other words, I’m probably mucking it all up.

No doubt, the Catholics and the Protestants are both dismayed at this point.

Nevertheless, I’ve claimed St. Jude for our own.

Patron Saint of Chaos and Impossible Causes and Woolseys and Things Nearly Dispaired Of.

And so I’ve searched and searched for quite some time to find a pendant of St. Jude to wear around my neck and remind me that in the midst of all the mess and madness it’s OK to ask Love for help.

In the midst of the chaos and splendor, it’s OK to ask Love to hold my hand.

In the midst of impossible darkness, when I can no longer pray on my own because I have no words left and despair has nearly overtaken me, I can hand my prayer to another who will bear them on my behalf.

I found my pendant, finally, in a stall in the middle of a market in Mexico, and it doesn’t matter that I don’t know whether I believe St. Jude is real. It matters that he might be. And it matters that there’s a symbol for carrying what’s impossible and jumbled and full of despair to a Love that’s bigger than us all.

IMG_1309I found my pendant, finally, and I snapped it up along with 4 more for you, though I wish I could’ve bought EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US a pendant and a necklace to put it on and a respite trip to Mexico with sun and sand and sympathy, which, FOR THE LOVE, we all need. Still, like I keep reminding myself, I did what I could when I could do it, and, at the time, it was buying 5 pendants — one for me and 4 for 4 of you — in the hope you’ll know to the depth of your bones I meant them for all of us, with our prayers sent on St. Jude’s wings regardless of who hangs the metal around his/her neck.

Friends, if you’d like one of the pendants, I’ll do a drawing eventually, picking randomly from the comments on this post using a random number generator. In the meantime, I’m praying, along with St. Jude, that Love will attend us during the Strange Season, and befriend us in the Chaos, and make our Impossible Causes possible, and lend us some of what it takes to not despair.

With love to every one of you,