Junk and Passion Don’t Always Mix

Scan 3It wasn’t our finest moment. But truth be told, we had quite a few like it.

I could go into all the details. How Tim always wanted to build his own house. How it had to be on some land out in the country. How I let him talk me, and our preteen kids, into helping him do it. But that’s a story for another time.

But we did pursue his dream. And toward the end, we had a challenging piece of sheetrock that needed to be hung. Only it was on the ceiling, three stories up, over an open stairwell, at an angle, against a large support beam.

For days, I’d seen Tim’s mind struggle to figure out how the four of us could balance on his hand made scaffold. How the kids and I could hold a 12-foot, 40lb board, while he screwed it into place.

But we gave it our best shot. Tim lectured us on his strategy. The four of us teetered on six-inch boards, high above the basement floor. With creative positioning, we finally got it in place. But when Tim let go to put in the first screw, our strength gave way, and the sheetrock slid down the beam.

We regrouped and tried again. But the same thing happened. Not once, not twice, but three, four, or maybe five times. Tim’s frustration grew. About the sixth time I yelled, “I quit!”

Grateful we’d driven separate cars; I stormed out of the house and stirred up gravel as I tore down the driveway.

The kids later told me how Tim picked up that piece of sheetrock and hurled it into the wall of brick that made up our fireplace. Then he followed my footsteps, leaving our kids stranded out in the middle of nowhere.Cannon Bluff

But, you know we both came back. And we did figure out a simple plan. Tim taught Daniel, who was the smallest, to use the screw gun. Then with Tim’s strength, we held the board in place while Daniel attached it to the beam.

If you’d been there, you’d have thought we were nuts. And we probably were. Cause Tim and I were horrible at problem solving. In fact, for 38 years we did just about everything wrong you can do in a marriage.

But if you ask our children today what they saw, they will both tell you, “A love story.”

Cause sometimes passion has an ugly side. And sometimes we bring a lot of junk into a marriage. And when that junk mixes with our passion, explosions take place.

But before you call it a day, or you think you’re saving your kids from the ugly, think again. Cause sometimes, love just doesn’t make any sense.

We lived in that house for 18 years. And the whole time there was a white swatch of sheetrock embedded deep into the brick.

Now I don’t advocate letting our passions run amuck. But I also don’t advocate using them as an excuse to call it quits. Problem solving can take many paths. But the clear path should always be the one that keeps the family working together.

Daniel Cannon bluff





He Cut Up That Car

Suzuki2It sat in our yard for years. And it drove me nuts. Tim’s pension for keeping cars long after they were of any use was the source of many an argument. If it didn’t run, I wanted it gone.

But I never imagined the old Suzuki Samurai would come to its end this way. But to hear Daniel tell the story, you’d be in stitches.

That’s right, cause they cut up that car. It became a challenge to get the pieces small enough to spread them out in dumpster all over town. And all these years later, Daniel can tell you where every piece went.

“Mom, we put the transmission in the dumpster behind the 7-11 on Liberia. And the drive train went in the one behind Osbourn Park High School…”Suzuki1

I could just imagine them, laughing all the way to their next destination. Pleased with themselves for the clever way they went about making mama happy.

They had the time of their lives, and they did it their way. Now you can lecture all you want on the rights and wrongs of what they did. But on this anniversary of what would be Tim’s 62nd birthday, I’m grateful my son has such a crazy memory of his father.

And just last week, Kelly and I were talking about that ridiculous Suzuki and how Tim and Daniel chose to dispose of its parts. And she said, with tears in her eyes, “If I had it to do over again, I’d have cut it up with them.”

Sheik Tim 8-4-01“Me too Kelly, me too.”

Cause sometimes, life needs to be a little crazy. And sometimes it’s good to challenge societal pretenses. And sometimes, it’s worth it to ignor what’s considered proper.

Tim beat to his own drum. And many times, he needed to rein it in and follow some rules. But just as many times, I needed to relax and go with the flow. If for nothing else, but to create a lasting memory in the hearts of our children.

Happy Birthday Tim. You left an impression on us that I’m grateful will never go away.

So my friends, what adventure do you need to join in on? Go ahead, throw caution to the wind, and do something crazy.



STOP! Before You Kill Someone

flagman-190063 (1)After a long days work, I was barreling down the two-lane country road that led me home. My mind was spinning with anger over something Tim had done. All these years later, I don’t remember what it was. But I do remember the rage.

I didn’t see the flagman holding one of those Stop signs on a pole. I didn’t even notice him until he had lifted his sign, and sprinted for the shoulder. I slammed on the brakes and came to a screeching halt. The jolt catapulted me out of my fury.

We shared a few sideways glances. Then the man picked up his sign and walked right to the front of my car. Without saying a word, he glared at me and turned that sign to clearly declare the word “STOP.”

As if that wasn’t enough, he then picked it up and banged the pole into the ground, not once, not twice, but and over and over for what seemed like an hour.

Then he calmly turned the sign around to say “SLOW.” And I did slowly make my way past him.

But as I crossed the bridge over the Occoquan River, I kept thinking how my anger had taken over me. How it so distracted me that I almost took a persons life.

In the few minutes I had before reaching home, I chose to think differently. Instead of focusing on what Tim had done wrong, I began to think of some of my fondest memories of him.

I thought of the time we drove all night from Georgia back to our home in Virginia. Kelly was not yet a year old. This was before car seats, so we had put the back seat down in our old VW bug, and made her a soft bed to sleep on.

It was past midnight when we pulled into a gas station and Tim got out. After pumping gas, he opened the drivers side door and I looked over at him. Something in the back seat caught his eye, and his face melted. In a voice so tender it touched me deeply, he said, “Hey boogh, did we wake you up?”

I turned around, and the warm glow of the lights fell softly on Kelly’s chubby little face. She was sitting up, caressing her security blanket close to her chest while sucking her thumb.Tim, Kelly, and Ellen 1974

The more I thought of that moment, my heart softened, and my rage subsided. By the time I got home, whatever Tim had done wrong, was now in it’s proper perspective.

We do get to choose our thoughts. And we do get to bring them captive to the will of God. And God’s will is that we think on good things. And not the things that bring us down.

So, what track are you stuck on today? And what thoughts can you bring captive? Isn’t it time to change direction?




e-Dating at 60

eharmonyinsideI met him on a dating sight. We talked on the phone a few times. He wanted to meet, so I suggested coffee. But against my better judgment, and my friend’s advice, we met for dinner.

Rigid and uptight, I knew instantly he wasn’t for me. We hugged, but he was awkward and stiff. I tried to steer our conversation toward the personal. I wanted to know about his kids and grandkids. But the most he revealed was their names and ages.

I’m not one to judge people by their past experiences. I want to leave room for men to have learned from their mistakes. Nor do I want to rank my dates by whether or not they’re good enough for me. It just sounds arrogant. So divorce doesn’t make me pull away, even if it’s been two or three.

But I’ve learned broken relationships have jaded many of my potential suitors. And the majority of the eligible bachelors my age have, possibly unknowingly, created walls around their hearts keeping them from ever experiencing much of what I took for granted in my 38-year marriage.

Yes, the bible tells us to guard our hearts. And to be hurt by someone you love as much as a spouse, can tear it to shreds. But there’s a big difference between guarding them and hardening them. And maybe that’s where Tim and I succeeded.Tim and Ellen

Somehow, though I’ll never understand it, Tim and I never crossed that line of hardening our hearts toward each other. Many times, after inflicting our wounds, we turned away, but we always came back.

Maybe there’s no big secret to a successful relationship. Sure, our mates should share many of our passions. Especially our faith. But maybe 29 dimensions of compatibility are overkill. Maybe we underestimate the power of forgiveness and simply staying in the fight.

So I’m not looking for the perfect man. And if you knew Tim, and you know me, we were far from perfect. But I am looking for a fighter. A man strong enough to go into battle – for love. Because that’s the kind of man I married. And I now know, they are the hardest to find.

It Wasn’t Funny Then

Tim and Ellen 20th Anniversary 1993Every Valentine’s Day I cry. Because I miss him. I miss the flowers, the candy, and the killer jewelry.

I also laugh. Because I remember the year of my knee surgery. How I was all alone in our big house on four acres. How I stepped out on our balcony to grill a steak for lunch. How the door locked behind me, leaving me stranded in 40-degree weather.

Had I not been on crutches, I’d have shimmied down to the ground. Had I been smart, I’d have worn more than my pj’s and slippers. Had my frustration not gotten the best of me, I would not have hurled that steak across the yard.

Left with just a fork, I did my best to jimmy the lock. I prayed the UPS truck would pull up our gravel driveway. I swore I’d scream forcing him to walk to the back of our house. I figured any shame would be worth getting back inside.

But nothing worked. So for the next five hours I huddled in the corner and tried to stay warm.

The image is frozen in my mind. Through the French door, I see Tim enter the living room carrying a box of roses. His brows furrow. He cocks his head struggling to grasp why I’m on the balcony in a flood of tears. Why I’m jumping up and down. He opens the door and wood chips from where my fork did its damage, flow down.

It’s all funny now. But it wasn’t then. Just like so many events of our 38 year marriage. What seemed like a tragedy was really not that big of a deal. So much stuff that just wasn’t worth the trouble.DSC02134.JPG

So today, I challenge you to give your Valentine a big ole hug. And make a new vow to see the humor in your story. To not dwell on the little things. And to save your energy for what really matters.

I can promise you, what you’re sweating over today, may just be what you laugh at tomorrow. So why not start the party early.