The house is empty but for one sleeping son and the dog at my feet.

At 6 a.m. the floors were thumping with big footed searching and loading. Skis, snowboards, helmets, gloves, backpacks all made their way out to the truck in several quick loads. Husband, sons, and friends packed into the truck and headed off into the dark morning, bound for Loveland.

Silence. It's been a long time since the house had no sound. The drum set, keyboard, and pick-ups in the living room sit poised for noise, like a toddler waiting bedside for sleeping parents to wake. The TV is blank. The aquarium is gurgling. My heart is beating.

There is something blessed about quiet when it comes between loud sounds. Too much of either makes one or the other hard to appreciate. But the sudden appearance of one next to the other makes the contrast ... well... graciously clear. Opposites define each other.

This morning I am appreciating the audio contrast like the difference between inhaling and exhaling. Quiet and loud must trade and coexist. It's a healthy pattern where people live together.

So, I am going to make some coffee and stare at the mountain. And I will be grateful for the vibrant pulse of the large bodies that have been creating much sound in this house -- the music, the talk, the laughter ...
and the quiet that comes between.

Somewhere in the clamor of the season, may you find your own quiet, as well.

Every Little Thing She Does

This link came from one hilarious Spill reader, in response to Blanket People (12.24.09). Since The Police are on my top dozen list of favorite music from high school, I'm posting it.

YouTubes like this are proof that some of us have far too much time on our hands -- or serious priority issues. Doesn't it just make you wonder, "How did they think of this?" And then, "Why on earth did they spend so much time making it happen?" In any case, because of someone else's shared passion for The Police and Peanuts, we now have Linus singing "Every Little Thing She Does."
'A smile for Police fans.
Thanks, Jamsco.

True New

When I was a little kid, my birthday marked my new calendar year. The difference of that one day gave me permission to be someone entirely new. I'd blow out the cake candles and imagine that my previous year evaporated like the smoke dissipating.

"That was when I was EIGHT. Now I'm NINE. I'm different."

All of my embarrassments and failures from the previous 12 months where sent away -- assigned to my scape goat, the other 'younger me.' Dissociative behavior? Perhaps. But, that new year tabula rossa worked for me for a long time. Sadly, somewhere along the road, I discovered that my former self did indeed travel with me. Turns out, Younger Me could move across birthday and new year boundaries.

Her memories,


and habits

came with me.

Today, I sent the Serenity Prayer to a friend of mine. She's engaging in a new start and rebooting a part of her life. A while ago, she started walking out of the habits of birthdays-gone-by, into new birth. She's starting a new year in her life. But it's not going according to a scheduled timeline. Issues of addiction, recovery and healing don't really pay attention to the calendar year. Life transformation is rather unruly that way. Personal reformation can't be given a tidy 12:01am deadline because the kind of truth that sets us free is sometimes hard to absorb in one sitting.

It's as impossible to decide on a due-date for inner transformation as it is to wish away the past.

Neither are in our control.

As the candles on my birthday cakes become increasingly more difficult to blow out, my soul is gaining a certain acceptance. Younger Me needs to be allowed to travel into new years with Older Me, because we are one in the same. I am becoming comfortable with allowing my past to ride next to the present because history can't be divorced from the future. Often, one brings healing to the other. I no longer wish it all away like smoke from a birthday candle.

I am no longer my own scape goat.

A different one showed up as a gift.

Take it or leave it, but I do deeply believe the Truth that sets me free comes from one source in the past. That Source resides outside of time, but entered it, for a short while about 2000 years ago. Our current calendar restarted after his birthday -- roughly around the point that B.C. became A.D. It was the first Christmas; the arrival of humanity's final answer. For me, that's the only important new year because it's the year cosmic hope came and altered the world with the possibility of redemption.

Obviously I'm getting preachy about Jesus. And maybe it's sacrilegious to go ahead and compare him to a gigantic ball falling in Times Square. But I do see the similarity. When the New York City crowd finishes yelling " ... three.... two... one ....Happy New Year!!!" we sing Auld Lang Syne and kiss strangers because something inside us desperately wants to believe we've been given a re-start, a reboot.

New Year's Eve is annual permission to pretend

we are in control of recreating ourselves,

for ourselves,

by ourselves.

But, really?

The most global cntrl/alt/delete option happened back when a tiny time ball silently crashed down into the world and life shifted from B.C. to A.D. With that shift a redeemed past, new creation, became possible. It was the original re-start; the genesis of my hope for healing, forgiveness, recovery, and the ability to learn a new dance in this world. For me, the crux of living a new year is about a supernaturally altered state of being, not human resolutions and the turn of a calendar page.

So, this week I'll be celebrating the New Year because it points back to one remarkable birthday and the life-changing gift that came with it. I'm celebrating my altered state -- past, present, and future -- and hoping the same for you.

Happy New Year, Friends.


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr


Merry Christmas.

Blanket People

Linus was my favorite character on Charlie Brown. He was musical, quiet, observant, and had a blanket. That was me as a kid. So, when Linus stepped out of the chaos of the season and on to center stage to speak his famous little monologue about Christmas, I felt proud for us 'blanket people.'

More important, was his message. So here's his monologue, a straight quote from the Bible. And it comes with my greetings to you and yours, this Christmas Eve.


Band Mom

Andrew Witt & Band
(Pictured from left, Andrew Leigh, Andrew Witt, Pedro Quinones, Ian Krug)

Last weekend, I got to go see Andrew play, in a new band, for the first time. Actually, we've done this kind of 'band' before. But back then, it was a hobby, not a career. Andrew and Ty were in a band for several years during middle school and high school. Their band "Doxology" has come and gone with their new stages in life. The t-shirts are all that remain.

I am once again a band mom. But this time, my son is a working musician. Now, it's his career -- not his hobby. With that, my place in the audience of his life has become vastly different. It needs to be. I'm his fan, not his life manager. And that's pretty much exactly what it means to be the parent of a young adult. In life and band, this new role makes it a little easier to sit back and enjoy the music. I might just go ahead and buy a t-shirt!

Here are pictures from last weekend -- Andrew Witt in Concert (I know, the double Andrew's can be confusing). Since some of you have asked, I'm posting. Thanks to Doug Leavy for these pictures!

2 Andrews
Andrew Witt
Andrew Leigh

For a complete list of upcoming shows, check out the website.

A Snow Day Army

It’s a kid’s version of winning the lottery. This week, extreme cold iced the streets, froze our breath, and closed the schools. When the scrolling text on the bottom of the television screen finally announced “Teller RE-2, CLOSED” my sons all smiled and exhaled a relieved, “Yesss!” The lottery was won. Homework halted. It was freedom for a day at our house.

Snow days magnify overlooked parts of a regular day. School is cancelled and suddenly the house feels a little warmer inside. The snow gleams a little brighter. Unused sleds regain their downhill fun factor. Dry hot chocolate that’s gone untouched in the pantry for weeks now steams in hot milky mugs. Granted, too many snowbound days and cabin fever starts to wear down the joy. That’s for sure. But, on a single and unexpectedly “cancelled” day, the gift of open time makes ordinary things extraordinary.

Army Blocks. On our last snow day, long-forgotten plastic army guys started knocking to be let out of their dusty box. Our 20 year old bucket of simple wooden blocks came shuffling out of hiding. And a full arena of Capture the Flag appeared on the floor. A toy story war unfolded in the living room.

And, in case you’re desperate for a low tech/ non-Wii Christmas gift idea for a boy in your life, honestly, there’s nothing like simple wooden blocks and a bag of little plastic army guys. Sometimes it's good to go unplugged. Here’s snow day proof ...

Webbed Feet

I am now stepping into the mud of web world. This month, I am launching my personal website. Go ahead check it out. Browse around. And most of all, please leave comments.

What do you see?
How's it working?
What do you think?

Really. Be honest.
I'd love to hear you input.

Kelley J. Leigh

[clAy] jar dot com



Saving My Grace

It's a hospital phone call none of us want to make. My friend Heather made that call three years ago. In the conversation below, she's talking to her mother about her 3 year old daughter, Grace. Her husband David is out in the hallway, holding their 7 month old son, Jacob.


I could barely speak the words, because to speak them to anyone outside of the hospital suddenly made the nightmare a wide-awake reality.

"So, you know how Gracie's been having a fever for several days now?"


"Well, we had to bring her to the hospital last night..."

"Uh huh..."

"We took her to a doctor yesterday who called us back to tell us that she has no blood left---its called pancytopenia."

"OK...what causes that...?"

"So she's in surgery right now and they're checking to confirm that she has..."
Long silence. No, I can't speak it because it is not true. It cannot be true.

"Its OK honey, just tell me."

"They think she has leukemia ... blood cancer."

"No...no...no...Oh God, no..."

I could actually really cry to her because Gracie was elsewhere. I couldn't really cry up until now, because Gracie was scared enough. But now, with my mom on the other end of the line and Gracie out of the room and David walking Jacob out and about, I hunched over to the floor and sobbed so hard that I could likely be heard all the way to the nurses station. And mom matched me. And in between sobs of grief and disbelief she kept saying, "Oh honey I am so sorry..."


Heather moved from that moment of truth into a long journey with childhood cancer. Her daughter Grace is now a survivor of luekemia. It's been one year since her last chemo and Grace is a brilliant little girl who is busting at the seams with words, and life. And Heather has a certain quiet wisdom and weighty gratitude about her. She has now started to document her life with cancer. And her insights are worth sharing.

Heather's blog Saving My Grace ... and Jacob is a great resource and encouragment for parent's who are walking the same difficult path. However, her overall inspiration is readable for all moms who care about their kids. For example, I relate to this quote:

"We are left to grapple with uncertainty.

Whether we believe in karma, or God, or the butterfly effect, or random chaos, we are all left to deal with forces beyond our control. At some point, we must choose to either turn things over to something greater than ourselves, or go insane trying to control every, every aspect of our lives. And every, every aspect of our babies' lives.

There is True peace in turning things over---to any higher power---even random chaos. Because sometimes our vigilance and our research and our deepest longings to make things right just won't be enough to protect us.We need to do our best to make sure that the scissors are out of reach, and that we watch our babies in the bathtub and that we speak calmly and that we don't lash out in anger. But we have no idea if the next flu virus will hit before there is a vaccine, or if the drunk driver in the next lane will crash into us, or if cancer is hiding out in our body waiting to pounce---and the greatest tragedy would be to live our lives in fear of these things or to blame ourselves when they happen.

And when I can remember that the protection of my children is not always within my grasp, I can let go and find comfort."

Heather has credibility, and she's normal, and honest. So, I want to share her blog with you.
Take a minute and go browse 'Saving my Grace.' And if you know someone who is dealing with childhood cancer, pass her link along.

Heather just finished a series of posts about gratitude, and a letter to cancer. To get a big picture of Heather's family, and journey with Grace, go click on the subject "Childhood Cancer."

And, yes, I will be a witness, she does journey gracefully.


In Repair

Hello, again! I've been away from The Spill for a bit. This should explain ...

re·pair (rE-pâr)
v. re·paired, re·pair·ing, re·pairsv.tr.

1. To restore to sound condition after damage or injury; fix: repaired the broken watch.
2. To set right; remedy: repair an oversight.
3. To renew or revitalize.
4. To make up for or compensate for (a loss or wrong, for example)*

My computer has been with Noel-the-Fix-It-Guy for the last week. My Mac slowed to the point of crawling, then stopped. The series of posts I had planned to run this week in this blog is being held hostage in a too-often overheated hard drive. The hard drive will be replaced. The goth hearse driver story will be unlocked. The story will eventually be released from it's cyber prison, and told. But first, my computer needs repair.
My car is also in repair. Today, I dropped it off at the Auto Body shop and was given a rental in exchange. The crashes are finally getting fixed. During a freak October snow storm, I slid into a fence post (click the link to read the whole story). I crunched the front driver's side. Then, 6 days later, a friend backed out of a parking space and into my back driver's side. Two wrecks in a week. My little Pontiac Vibe looked like it had been slapped around. But only on one side. You wouldn't know anything was wrong just looking at it from the passenger side. Separate insurance deductibles, claims, and adjusters have all fallen in line, so this week is repair week. The busted side and the 'normal' side will get back in harmony.

The car will get a salvaged door, and a new fender, tail light, back quarter panel thing, and molded runner, and a whole paint job, and ... well, the list is long. Our repair man ordered all the pieces ahead of time and had them ready. It appeared more like a scheduled surgery than a fixer-upper. I've got to be honest, my personal vibe has been crashed and in need of surgical repair both literally and figuratively ... many times. And, I'm not just talking about my car.

The Other Vibe. I have been married 20 years. My husband, Steve, is the other half of my brain. We are good friends. We are an awesome team. I rely on him for directions when I'm lost, a man's perspective on parenting boys, and overall, a better saner approach to life when I'm stuck in a fog. I can't imagine my life without him.

That said, we are normal. We have dysfunctions. And we've taken many years to learn a dance that we both hate to get into... and yes, we get into it. I say that thing, which cues him to say and feel that way, which causes him to respond this way, which causes me to respond that way ... step to the left, step to the right, twirl and repeat in a circle. The bad dance is one big crashed vibe.

The Dance. For the last couple of years, Steve & I have been working to get out of the bad dance. We have friends that listen to us and tell us the truth. We have a counsellor who hands us insights now and again. And we have a dogged determination to stay in this commitment -- this God covenant -- till death do us part. And some days, when the music for our bad dance starts playing, it's a white-knuckled promise to keep. But, we are in fact learning a new dance -- figuratively and literally.

We are learning to dance western. And that will be a story for another time. But for now I'll just say, every Sunday night we go down to "Cowboys" and learn a couple more sequences of the two-step. While we are learning to follow and lead on the dance floor, we are re-learning a new way to dance in life. We are in repair.
According to the dictionary a "repair" is an action which restores, renews, or revitalizes something after damage or injury.

This week, I'm seeing that the repair of relationships is like the hard drive repair on my computer, or the messed-up driver's side of my car.

  • Like my car, it's possible for one entire side of something to look completely "normal" and fine to people who are just passengers. At the same time, unbeknownst to anyone else, the drivers can be traveling together, totally crashed, damaged, needing replaced parts. Lopsided dissonance like this has to be admitted and repaired before real harmony can happen.
  • Like my computer, it's important to get into the guts of how things got burned-up and broken, so life stories can be unlocked, spoken, and shared.

This assortment of broken things teach something about where we've been. And none of it was my plan. Usually, the repair feels imposed not chosen; like the careening slide before the crash. It's like God just keeps overheating the hard drive, and icing the road, so we are forced into places of repair. And, I have to say this process with Steve definitely feels like a place where we've been led through many events we wouldn't have chosen, in order to learn how to dance a new dance.

Repaired = Restored. Renewed. Revitalized. And perhaps that's exactly why it's all worth it.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."


The Bible
Isaiah 43:19

Food for Thought:

  • Do you have something in your life that needs to be restored?
  • How can you start -- or restart -- the repair process today?

Maybe you already know what needs to happen next. Go for it. But, in case you're dealing with something that feels overwhelming, sometimes the best place to start is a simple prayer. Ask God for the next obvious step. And watch for it.

*Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003