rituals: to infinity …and beyond (ginger lobdell)

Oh man, it’s only week two of RITUALS, and I’m already a weepy mess.  Once again, we’re looking at those ordinary, not-so-boring rituals of our everyday lives that make the story deeper.  And for my friend Ginger the words she’s whispered to each of her boys at the end of the day, every day of their young lives, CERTAINLY makes the story deeper.  Enjoy, oh, enjoy.  
Ginger open

My shoulders fell as I stared at the dirty pots and pans in front of me.

The rumble of brotherly wrestling from my older sons traveled down the hall. That wasn’t the sound of boys getting ready for bed. They didn’t seem the least bit tired, but I was exhausted.

Sigh. Maybe I should just tell them goodnight so I can cross this day off the calendar. They’ll understand.

My husband was deployed somewhere in the Middle East with the military, and I had spent a long day worrying about my Beloved while holding down the fort here at home. I couldn’t wait until I could crawl under my own covers and finally let this day fade away.

“Mommy, may you please snuggle with me?”

My youngest just looked so cute standing there in his dinosaur jammies, big brown eyes looking up at me. I love how he still mixes up his words sometimes, and I couldn’t say no.

Sure, Honey. Go brush your teeth and I’ll be right there…

The dishes would just have to wait.

I separated the big boys, sent them to finish getting ready for bed, and promised each one that, “Yes, I’ll come snuggle with you, too.” 

I collapsed into our littlest’s bed, and he snuggled close as I put my arm around him.

We chatted about the things important to him that night: how “pokeypines” have quills, how spiders have eight eyes, and how a brother ate the last cookie. Then we prayed together, and I kissed his squishy cheek goodnight.

Quinn, do you know what?

“You love me.”

How did you know that’s what I was going to say?

He smiled and pulled the covers up to his dimpled chin. “Just because! I know you love me. Goodnight, Mommy.”

I’m so glad, Honey. I DO love you! Then I added the thing I’d said to them every night since they were born, To infinity… and beyond! 

I walked across the hall to my middle son’s room. His freckled face beamed up at me from over a Wimpy Kid book.

“Mom, you’ve gotta read this part!”

We sat and laughed together as we followed the latest shenanigans of Greg and Rowley. He prayed his sweet little prayer, and then I gave the top of his crazy hair a smooch. “Blech!” he giggled as he wiped away my kiss.

I love you so much, Aiden. To infinity… and beyond! Our familiar bedtime phrase made him grin.

“I love you, too, Mom!”

 My oldest son was humming along to the song playing in his headphones. I tousled his thick black hair aside and kissed his forehead.

Goodnight, Camden. Sleep well, Dude. I love you.

And I turned back toward the door. I left off our last phrase, guessing that he was getting too old for Toy Story humor. I usually tried to not embarrass him too much.

“Mom, can I talk to you about something?”

I recognized the hurt in his voice, and I realized that my little guy who wasn’t so little anymore needed me. Everything else faded away as I sat down beside him and he let me into his world. I listened as his thoughts, his fears, and his questions all came trickling out as he shared what was on his young heart.

I looked down at our feet as we talked, amazed to find that they were the same size. I wondered how I could have blinked and missed that he was not a little boy anymore. He had grown into a young man, but he would always be my baby.

I gathered him into my arms when a tear escaped down his cheek, and I held him. I don’t know how long we sat there, but after a while he looked up and gave me a hint of a smile. There’s my boy. He’s going to be okay.

I ruffled his hair once more, and hugged him close before turning out the light.

Goodnight, Buddy. 

“Goodnight. Hey, Mom? I love you. To infinity… and beyond.”

Ginger bioGinger is wife to her Beloved, mommy to three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas girl! Her Yellow Brick Road has led her through deep valleys of loneliness, betrayal, incredible heart ache, divorce, illness, and searching. She has also encountered the glorious paths of motherhood, friendship, rapture, butterflies – oh the butterflies, promise, hope, healing, new beginnings, and a love that she had never known possible. She would love to share with you how it came to exist in her very own not-so fairy tale at justoneoftheboys.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

the little things: saying good-bye (ginger lobdell).

Friends, I want you to meet one of my favorite internet-friends, Ginger.  She is a storyteller, and for today’s guest post spot, she catches that moment of saying good-bye just perfectly.  So enter in to what she has to say today …and be sure to cheer her on afterwards.  Love to all!

Nothing is small, in fact...

It was the time that every divorced parent fears – the moment when your heart is ripped from your body as you say goodbye to your precious little ones. His Friday evening had rolled around again, and it was time for hugs and farewells as my boys left to spend the scheduled every other weekend with their father. These are the times that I dreaded the most.

“Bye, Mom! See you Monday! Love you!”

Our middle son jumped down the last three stairs and gave me a high-five as he started toward the door. I caught him and planted a smooch on his freckled cheek. “Blech,” he giggled as he wiped the back of his hand over the place where I had kissed him. He’s not a fan of showing affection through physical touch, so I’m used to him brushing it off.

He turned around and smiled up at me as I gave him a quick hug. “I’ll miss you, Mom! Tell Daddy Joe HI for me and that I miss him, too!” 

“I’ll do that, Buddy. I love you so much!”

Our youngest son grabbed my hand, wrapping my arm around him and his backpack filled with his favorite stuffed animals. I can’t believe my baby is getting so big.

“Bye-bye, Momma! I yuv you!”

“I love you, too, Honey. I’ll miss you so much while you’re gone!”

I nuzzled my cheek against our oldest son’s black hair as he threw his arms in a bear hug around me. When did he grow to be so strong?

“Love you, Mom! I’ll miss you!”

“I love you so much, Dude! Have a great weekend!”

Sighing, I watched them climb into the car. Every other weekend… You’d think I would be used to these goodbyes by now, but the part where I watch them drive away never gets easier, even after all these years.

I almost turned away from the window. I didn’t want to watch them leave again…but something held me there. Our middle son looked up to see me waving at the window. He waved back, and then he blew me a kiss.

I yearned to run after my boys, and wrap them up in the safety of my arms for just a moment longer, but I knew that I had to let them go.

My eyes welled up with all of the emotion that I had been holding back. That little moment in time, and those little fingers blowing me a kiss, was greater than any gift that I could have ever wished for myself. A peace trickled over me as the taillights faded into the night.

Everything is going to be okay. I promise.

As long as I live, I will cherish the gift I was given that day. I know that it was just a small thing, but to this Mommy’s heart, she was given the whole world.

“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart…” ~ Luke 2:19

Ginger ~ Justoneoftheboys.comGinger is an Air Force wife to her Beloved, mommy to her three growing boys, and a Kansas girl. Her Yellow Brick Road has led her through deep valleys of loneliness, betrayal, heartache, divorce, illness, and searching. She has also encountered the glorious paths of motherhood, friendship, rapture, butterflies – oh the butterflies, promise, hope, healing, new beginnings, and a love that she had never known possible. She would love to connect with you on her blog – Just One of the Boys, and on Facebook!  So, what did you think of Ginger’s moment?  How did her words touch you?


the ladies in waiting (in her shoes).


I look down at my feet: they’re puffier and a little wider than usual, but what, really, is “usual” these days?  The left and the right, well, they haven’t worn heels for a good couple of months now, though not for lack of want.  Instead, they’re happiest when propped up on a chair, when resting instead of moving, when still and submissive instead of pushing full-steam ahead, instead of hitting the ground running.

Like sledgehammers attached to the end of leggy appendages, they’re kind of my ladies-in-waiting.

Because really, every part of me – my ceaseless mind, my restless heart, my growing belly – is in wait.  Baby Brother will arrive sometime the latter half of August, we think, and until then we play the Great Waiting Game.  We embrace the liminal space, the in-between time of not quite knowing, of wondering and watching.  This whole idea of liminal space, or liminalityas coined by Franciscan friar and author, Richard Rohr, is nothing short of beauty-filled to me: it gives word and definition and meaning to the tapping impatience of my toes, to the elongated, reaching stretch of my calves, my ankles, my feet.

A thousand times a day, it seems, my mind is submerged in questions (with these that follow solely about the baby – forget the rest of my internal musings): Who will he be, and what will his little personality eventually morph into?  When will he actually arrive?  Will my love for him be immediate, snap-of-the-fingers quick, or will it grow with time?  Can I truly ever love him as much as I love his big brother?  And whoever thought parenting more than one child was a good idea?  For when there are more questions than answers, when we know that change is on the horizon but it’s just not there yet, that’s liminal space.  When we feel like we’re living in the gray – even if we believe The Gray an ethereal place to be – we embrace liminality.  We lean into waiting.  We grab hold of the ellipses.  Maybe we even whisper the words of U2’s “40,” a song that loosely echoes Psalm 40’s waiting theme:

I waited patiently for the Lord,

He inclined and heard my cry

He lifted me up, out of the pit

Out of the miry clay.

 Though not listed above, my favorite part of the melody comes with the chorus, when Bono asks (and the audience repeats) the same simple question, “How long?”  How long am I to sing this song?  How long am I to be in this waiting space?  At one point or another, it’s the song we each find ourselves singing – as evidenced by concertgoers while on tour for U2’s 1983 album, War.  “40” ended the night.  And the haunting chorus “How long?  …How long?” continued its echoing lament long after the musicians left the stage.

Because it might not be our song today, but it might be the song we start singing tomorrow, or on tomorrow’s tomorrow.  And when “How long?” begins its wail, we take heart, knowing we’re not alone.  We’re not alone in waiting for news of the diagnosis, and we’re not alone in our loneliness.  We’re not alone in the newness of transition, and we’re not alone in the pain of the infertility and in the pain of labor and delivery alike.

And this, I suppose, gives my weary sledgehammer, ladies-in-waiting feet hope – for they know they’re not alone.

Today’s post originally appeared on my friend Ginger’s blog – click here to check out her words and to see the full “In Her Shoes” series.  I think you’ll love it!  In the meantime, how are you living in a liminal place?  And (more importantly), how badly do your feet want to don a pair of heels?

my writing process.

When my new friend, Andrea, invited me to participate in a blog hop about my writing process, how could I turn her down? For those of us who stake claim to Writer’s Block and the Writing Muse and love a good argument with our insides over the “just perfect!” word, this kind of practice is nothing short of nerd-citing. Plus, Andrea is a real-life author – not just writer – whose book comes out in October. Check out her site, and pre-order her words now!  But for now, read on to learn more about my own writing process.  

Photo cred: Flickr Creative Commons
Photo cred: Flickr Creative Commons

What am I working on/writing? I always answer this question in three’s: blog writing, guest posts and articles for submission, and le book.  I typically try to provide content for the blog an average of 3x a week, and then a huge part of writing today involves networking with other people who are doing what you’re doing.  Smack dab in the center of my desktop, there are always a couple of articles I’m musing over for other websites and blogs, both paid and unpaid.  Finally, Mondays are set aside for working on my book, a statement of which is still the Weirdest of Weird to hear my mouth utter or see my fingers type.  Tentatively titled A Hundred Times an Hour: A Memoir of Belief and Disbelief, the book follows the year after leaving ministry, when I went through a spiritual and emotional journey of grief and loss and found-discovery again.  It includes flashbacks to moments of extreme belief (and disbelief) from childhood in particular, and otherwise, me, myself and I are just beginning the process with agents and publishers and the wide, wide world of book proposals.  We’ll see what happens!

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?  I tend to just scratch the surface in blog-writing, perhaps because the writing is just more fast-paced, and I’m not spending days and weeks (…and even months) on a single sentence.  That being said, similarities persist: I’m a storyteller who uses language to help my readers really feel the feels, if you know what I mean.  I write in a raw and authentic sort of way, and humor, even if it’s a hard story to tell, is part and parcel of the story my fingers tell.  I pull from those who have written before me, adding wit and intelligence to the dialogue – and hopefully at the end of it, my readers are encouraged in knowing that they’re not alone!

Why do I write what I do? …because this is the story I’ve been made to tell, at least right now.  I’ve told a few people the story, but when I initially began the book-writing process, I thought I’d write a memoir of change – because, of course, I’ve experienced a whole lot of change in a short amount of time (from single hood to marriage and a baby, leaving a job and moving countless times, just to name a few, in less than three years).  But then I got knocked up, again.  And I began to experience pregnancy insomnia.  And I happened to come across a line from an Emily Dickinson letter, in which she writes, “…I believe and disbelieve a hundred times an hour.”  I’d wake up in the middle of the night remembering all these times of belief in my life, and I began to write those memories down, extracting nuggets of remembrance from them.  That idea somehow found its way to my own journey in 2013, morphing and melding and joining together with that original theme of change, just in a different sort of way.  So I’d say that the Writing Muse paid me a visit, and I heeded her advice.

How does my writing process work? I usually write about 15 – 20 hours a week, although we’ll see what happens in these summertime, pre-baby #2 months.  But here’s what I can’t do: I can’t write with my son beside me.  It’s like he knows that my attention isn’t on him, so he does everything in his Super Ninja Almost Two Year Old power to let me know that he is much, much more important than the words I’m trying to craft (which, let’s be honest, he is).  So we hire a sitter for about 10 hours a week.  I also write during nap time, or I write at night, if I’ve got pending deadlines.  And I think this is more than okay. The HBH believes in the financial investment, and I believe in the emotional refuel that time away from him gives me.  (Of course, the current rhythm is about to be severely disrupted and redefined come late August, so stay posted).

Thanks for reading – and the cool thing is that the writing process baton keeps on twirling!  So, keep your eyes peeled for next week’s writers, who’ll be posting on their own websites: 

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun HeadshotDorcas Cheng-Tozun has been a nonprofit professional, social justice advocate, expat, and consultant, all before settling on becoming a writer. She particularly enjoys writing essays and blogs about the messiness and beauty of human connections, parenthood, social change, and personal identity. Her personal essays and short stories have been published in Hong Kong, the UK, and the US. She is a regular contributor to Asian American Women on Leadership and serves as the managing editor of Estuaries. Her current projects include a memoir about living in industrial China as a Chinese American and the daily adventure of keeping up with her toddler son, of which she can only focus on one at a time. Follow her at www.chengtozun.com or on Twitter.

1094784_10153139436970707_1543796095_nGinger is a military wife, mom to three little boys, bookworm, lover of beauty and Kansas girl.  Her Yellow Brick Road has led her through deep valleys of loneliness, betrayal, incredible heart ache, divorce, illness and searching.  She has also encountered the glorious paths of motherhood, friendship, rapture, butterflies – oh, the butterflies, promise, hope, healing, new beginnings and a love that she had never imagined possible.  You can find her in her little corner of the blogging world – Just One of the Boys, Facebook and Twitter.  There really is no place like home.  


Well, that’s it, friends.  What’s your writing process?  What of mine might help you in your own finger-typing journey?