west point

A Deadly Dose of Nostalgia

Recently I've been writing the first few pages of my first book. And it hurts. IMG_0968

It hurts because it's hard. It hurts because the things I write today often don't read so well tomorrow. It hurts because most of the time it's so overwhelming I can't see straight. And it hurts because the subject matter I'm writing about sends me deep into the throws of nostalgia. The deadly kind.

The book I'm writing is about three women who attend West Point. And when I start thinking about West Point, traveling up there to do research, spending hours upon hours looking at photos of that place... it's hard not to get lost in it all. Lost in the memories of middle school and high school—and then just kind of lost.

It got me thinking... when you start thinking back, does it prevent you from moving forward?

IMG_0919This is West Point. My once home.

Nostalgia is this gut-wrenching feeling of wanting to be back in a place you once were with people you once knew or in a time you once had. The dictionary says nostalgia is "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period of place with happy personal associations." Right. So if nostalgia takes you to a happy place, why, so often, does it leave us in a state of utter depression?

I think it goes back to my thought life. Fostering a healthy thought life is the key to breaking the bonds of nostalgia. If I let my mind dwell in the past - my brain can conjure up memories (true and false) that can taint my enjoyment of the present.

Whatever is true. What is true is that I live in Nashville—the greatest city in the world with some of the greatest people I've ever met and some of the closest friends I've ever had.

Whatever is noble. What is noble is that I'm trying my hardest to live in the gifts I believe I've been given, to the glory of God, for better or worse.

Whatever is right. Whatever is pure. What's right and pure is knowing the ways God has blessed me here and now, today.

Whatever is lovely. What is lovely is looking in the mirror and feeling content with who I am now.

Whatever is admirable. What is admirable are the ways other people in my life are living for today and giving their lives away to others.

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy.  Think about such things. 

Philippians 4:8. 

Lord, help me. This hurts.

Spotlight on: A Military Mom.

Did you know today is National Military Spouse Appreciation Day? Then of course... this Sunday is Mothers' Day.  Somehow these two holidays create a perfect intersection for the most influential women in my life: military moms. military spouse appreciation

Military moms move around the United States at a speed illegal on most major highways. One year here. Two years there— three if you're really lucky. The U.S. Army doesn't give much weight to 4th grade best friends or high school graduation years or your favorite OBGYN or your next door neighbor. They deal in Duty, Honor, Country... and orders.

My mother, Laura Sholar Carlton, the oldest daughter of a North Carolina family with its own military roots, handled the hustle with grace, humor and humility. She was a military spouse. A military mom. 27 years in th U.S. military, and believe you me, she earned her stripes. She defended and supported a man in uniform. She raised children, created a delicious nightly meals, provided countless hours of family therapy. It was no small calling.

And like so many other military moms, she prevailed. She taught the power of rearranging furniture to make a new house look like home. She proved that simmered onions and garlic make any new house smell like home. She consoled when I cried about leaving. She comforted, or more precisely, offered Ben & Jerry's ice cream when things got really bad. She insisted that tears are a gift, and that moving can feel like death, and that God can give new life in any new place—and He always, always did.

But more than that, God offered me the best kind of mom there is: a military mom.


love you mom.