The words.

Dear friends,


It’s not very often that I am unable to find adequate words to express my feelings. But the last two days have been overwhelming, so let’s just say that the experience of sharing my story on Momastery is beyond words I can string together at this moment.

I’ve been out of town for two days, more than a little sidetracked by a packed schedule of business meetings. Wednesday night when I got to my hotel room after a late dinner and I finally had a moment to read the comments — here on my blog, on Glennon’s blog, and on the Momastery Facebook page — all I could do is cry. I sat in my hotel room and cried and cried, and then I turned out the lights and cried some more. Not for me, because I’ve sat with my story for a good long time.

I cried for all the readers and all their brutiful stories and all the love and wisdom and pain they poured into their comments.

One of the readers asked what happened between my daughter and sister on their lunch date. Another wondered what’s happening now between P and me. The quick answer to both is that I’ll try to tell you as soon as I have the words.

What I do have the words to tell you about today is just this one tiny thing that was so . . . enormous . . . I still can’t quite believe it.

I was sitting in my office on Tuesday when my phone rang. It was “Amy from Momastery” who said she’d been trying to track me down to ask if they could publish my essay. My first thought was “There’s people at Momastery?”

I know. It’s not like I expected Glennon to call me from her cloffice. I never expected anyone to call, ever, so my ears were ringing and my face was turning red and I was a little bit dizzy and I was trying desperately to listen to the woman talking to me.

It was a very quick call. She asked me to email her a bio and my social media links and I said okay. The call was ending and I was trying not to be an idiot but it was hard, you know, because I was talking to “Amy from Momastery” who clearly knows Glennon, so holding the phone while I realized there was only two degrees of separation between me and Glennon at that moment made me — if not an idiot — at least a boob. I think I actually asked Amy if she knows Glennon and without waiting for her to answer said something like “Please tell her I’m delighted she chose my essay.”

And then, right after I said that, I was momentarily blinded when the world exploded into a sparkly, shiny, swirling Disco Ball of Jubilation because Amy said “I liked your essay and gave it to Glennon to read. Forgive me . . . it’s a little crude . . . but Glennon read it and all she said was ‘She writes like a mother-fu%&er.'”

That, my friends, was a sacred moment. It was a gift. One I will never forget.

If you are at all tempted to be put off by the language: don’t even go there.

My closest friends know I love a choice expletive. I watch what I say in polite company and certainly what I put in writing because I’m sensitive to the tastes of others, but in my safe place, I let ‘er rip. It would be totally like me, when talking to a close friend, to say something like “Sure, I like Anne Lamot and Joan Didion and Elizabeth Gilbert but Glennon Melton? Glennon is a mother-fu%&ing writer.”

So in six words, I instantly understood the intention of the message. And I instantly understood Glennon was my kind of gal. And — more importantly — I instantly understood I had been given the gift of being allowed inside the circle. And when women let other women inside their circle, they are doing the Lord’s work, no matter what words they use.

I hung up and immediately sent Amy the requested email with my bio and links. And this PS: “Please tell Glennon that as of today, I will instruct my husband and children to etch on my headstone ‘She writes like a mother-fu%&er.’ I will wear that badge of honor the rest of my life.”

And my husband and children know I am serious. Okay, maybe not on my headstone, because I plan to be cremated. But in my mother-fu%&ing eulogy somebody better say it.

It’s all I ask for.

With gratitude {for words, words, words, profound, profane, glorious, wondrous, plain and simple words that teach us and heal us and bring us into each others circles},

Joan ,who writes, well, you know


Day 22: Words, not my own.

Dear friends,


On Day 22 of this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the bounty of words that spill into my life.

For as long as I can remember, words have captured the world for me. Those I scoured, those I savored, those little understood, those I wrote tiny and tucked away in miniature diaries, even those on the back of cereal boxes which I faithfully read during childhood breakfasts were worthy of my attention.

Words meant something, I thought, when written down. I’d seen too many words spoken carelessly — false promises and glib answers and half-truths hanging in the air like an inconvenient fog you hoped would have broken by now. Words on paper were gospel, their power evident in stately fonts printed in black ink on crisp, white paper, and I aimed to harness some of that power for myself until I got sidetracked somewhere south of 20.

To this day, nothing moves me like the written word. I read as widely and voraciously as time and multiple distractions allow. I use every opportunity afforded me to add new and interesting words to my vocabulary, like exogenous, which I heard for the first time last month while listening to National Public Radio in my car and which compelled me to immediately pull over so I could look it up on my iPhone and commit its meaning to memory.

A new book came in the mail today — a late birthday gift for Mr. Mom — with the beautiful title “The heart of everything that is.” I might steal it from his bedside table before he has the chance to crack it. Half my ancestors are white and half are Native American and I’ve always sided with the brown skinned bunch. (It’s the subversive in me.) I knew Mr. Mom would enjoy the story and I figured I might learn something.

Speaking of learning something, read as much as you can. There’s so much to be gained, even from cheap fiction (okay, maybe not 50 Shades of Drivel), amateur poetry, weak news reporting, propaganda. The worst, most lazy, most hateful writing tests your heart, I think, while the most soaring and intelligent prose shapes your sensibilities and your intellect in ways not easily squandered.

Read. Form an opinion. Discuss.

Rinse and repeat for the sake of humanity.

With gratitude {for all the delicious words I’ve ever read},

Joan, who implores you to read this essay, the most beautiful piece of writing to come her way in a long time, and who hopes you’ll drop back by after reading and let her know what you thought of it

The happy thing. Part 2.

Dear friends,

Yesterday I told you about readers Karen and Wendy over at After the Kids Leave and their shout-out for Debt of Gratitude. As part of paying it forward, I’m delighted to tell you about 7 blogs I adore.

First this: I don’t read very many blogs. I’m ashamed, really, because being a good citizen of the blogosphere means reading widely and commenting frequently. Thing is, I’m a slow and tortured writer. Keeping up with my day job and composing almost-daily posts is about all I can manage. So despite my shallow knowledge of the best and brightest bloggers out there, here are 7 writers I follow, week in and week out, no matter how busy I get.

Ree @ Pioneer Woman — Yeah she’s blogging royalty and everybody knows her. But did you know I know her in real life? Her mother grew up in my hometown and is dear friends with my first cousin, Betty Marie. (Betty Marie, Joan-Marie, we like our Maries in my family.) I have memories of Ree  — who by the way is really named Ann Marie — from the time she was a pipsqueak hanging out with my younger cousin. As cool as Ree is, she’s not the most amazing woman in her family. I adore her mother (a kindred spirit in many ways) and I idolized her grandmother, a teacher that I always thought embodied grace and kindness. Several years ago, before Facebook, my cousin Betty Marie set up a “family and friends” website where we could all post photographs and exchange news. Ree joined us every now and then until one day she posted a message saying she had started a thing called a blog and invited us all over to the Pioneer Woman. I remember her very first post. And the rest, they say, is history.

Kate @ SweetSalty — She is the writer I aspire to be. Her exquisitely undulating prose startles me with its beauty like none I have ever read and leaves me breathless. There is nothing more to say except read her. Start with this.

Glennon @ Momastery — More blogging royalty and now under book contract and appearing regularly on HuffPost. I’m convinced Glennon can single-handedly change the world. She’s funny and she’s real and she’s the most moving female voice in the blogosphere. And, she manages to writes zealously about God without making me want to run screaming from the room. For that alone, I love her.

Yoona @ Yoonanimous — She’s a young working mother with a whip-smart sense of humor and crushing sense of style, who I suspect is a little left-leaning and therefore my kind of gal. Yoona is the only writer I know who can be both wickedly funny and sweetly earnest at the same time. She’s such a clear, fresh voice in the crowded blogosphere.

Sizzle @ Sizzle Speaks — I have no idea how I tripped across Sizz years ago, but I did and I’ve been reading her forever. We’re even connected on Facebook now and though I’ve never met her, I consider her my friend. When I first found her, she was single and living the kind of urban, hip life I imagined I could have if I weren’t, you know, old and uncool and stuck in the Midwest. Now she’s about to be married and she and Mr. Darcy have bought a house in the ‘burbs. I’ve loved tagging along on her journey and I’m standing firmly behind her and sending her love and light as she navigates a cancer diagnosis.

Kristin @ Going Country — She’s another woman I tripped across long ago. She lives on a small farm with her husband, mother-in-law and two children in the kind of pastoral fantasy I always dreamed about. In fact, when Mr. Mom and I were living on a postage-stamp lot in the middle of town, we used to talk about Kristen’s Blackrock and how we could so live their lives. Several years later, we’re on a acreage larger than Kristen’s, but there are no tomatoes, no sheep, no chickens, no cisterns of any kind. Turned out, we just like reading about Kristen’s Green Acres rather than cultivating our own. Go with God, Kristen, and keep sending us updates.

CJ’s Mom @ Raising my Rainbow — CJ’s Mom is the mother of all mothers, a smart, composed, my-God-she’s-a-saint of a woman writing about the “adventures of raising a fabulously gender creative son.” I hope you’ll open your heart to her and her family.

So that’s it. Seven women, seven fabulous blogs, seven ways to spend a few minutes in the company of virtual friends who will sustain and delight you. Give them a shout.

With gratitude {for writers who inspire and entertain me},

Joan, who loves her some good words and has been squirreled away writing some new stories of her own

Not enough words in the day.

Dear friends,

Some days, you end up feeling like there just isn’t enough something to keep you going.

Some days there aren’t enough minutes of sleep. Others, not enough moments of joy. And others, not enough expressions of friendship or gratitude.

Lately, though, there haven’t been enough words.

I hope I don’t sound whiny here, but I’ve been trying to write more of my mountain story. And that combined with a daily post has run me fresh out of words.

Which is a bit of an odd position for me. I hardly ever run out of words. I love words. I ply them, savor them, consider them, share them.

But I don’t have any to share right now because everything I had got spread thinly over a document called The Mountain, parts 16 and 17. And part 18? It’s not written and I don’t even remember what happened in that episode, or everything after it. Isn’t that weird? It’s the latest stuff and I don’t even remember most of the details.

I think it’s a sign I’ve lost interest in the story. Not of telling the story . . . I always love telling a story. But I’ve clearly grown tired of the plot of this one. Good thing, I guess, Mr. Mom is plugging along, working the case like he has for years. I used to brag about how determined I am, how driven, how willing to expend myself to reach a goal. But I pale in comparison to my partner who refuses to give up, never says uncle, and is chewing this lawsuit like a wild dog with a bone. Last night was a sleepless one for him, but while lying awake he remembered a detail about the case that — upon further research today — just might be important to the outcome. (I slept soundly, by the way.)

We’ve always said we’re yin and yang, the two of us. In the match called The Mountain, I’m down for the count and he’s still punching.

Or . . . maybe . . . he’s the choreographer and I’m the scriptwriter. I think I like that metaphor better.

Yeah, I like that a lot better. I’m going to head back to the words. I’ll try to come up with some good ones.

With gratitude {for a man of few words but many actions and remarkable stamina},

Joan, who discovered a new writer recently and loves her words

Never before had I known the sudden quiver of understanding that travels from word to brain to heart, the way a new language can move, coil, swim into life under the eyes, the almost savage leap of comprehension, the instantaneous, joyful release of meaning, the way the words shed their printed bodies in a flash of heat and light.
Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian