3 years ago

Enter the Dirty Thirty. Gladly.

Hey thar. I took a leave of blogsense last week, as the Svells up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T from Happy House- i.e., we moved out. We’re kind of in housing limbo right now (crammed into my parent’s house) until we know whether or not we’re getting relocated for Craig’s job- so can I ask you guys to pray for God’s holy will to be done? Obviously, relocation in the middle of my pregnancy will be a total circus act and you can expect I’ll be a total drama momma about it, but it will be good in the long run for our family.  I’m already nursing the most extreme sciatica I’ve ever experienced and I’m only 18 weeks along!  Who gets sciatic pain that early?!  Me. I win.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
Home is where a TV is jimmyrigged to a three legged table showing Sleepy Booty. They don’t even notice it’s empty.

Boring stuff aside– It’s November!  That means ’tis the season of MY BIRTHDAY! And I am turning thurdy.  burdy.  I have a big fat giveaway planned this month for YOU in thanksgiving of your readership, loving comments and support this year- and I cannot wait to spill the beans– It’ll be a few somethings of gorgeousness, sparkles, good smells, and flowy loveliness- AH! I just can’t wait.  So stay tuned.  :)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got going on in my brain about turning 30, if you’re so inclined.

ALSO! Make sure to check out Kelly @ This Ain’t The Lyceum for her reflection on Heroic Patience tomorrow for Olivia’s 10 Virtues of Mary series.  If any momma knows about heroic patience, I bet it’s Kelly.

xo, Carolyn



Enter the Dirty Thirty, gladly.

A while back, Jen asked us to share theme songs to our lives.  She asks what songs we have emotionally attached to a specific time in our life.

I’ve wanted to do it ever since then- for example, The Killers’ Mr. Brightside will always, always, always extract me from the present and warp me straight to my sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati, into a friend’s hip apartment, crowded with dancing skinny jeans and cigarettes: hipsters before being a hipster was a thing, because- we were artists, oui.
Coldplay’s albums Rush of Blood To The Head , X&Y, Parachutes, and the Garden State Soundtrack will always transport me to a dingy drawing studio where I spent 10 hours a day scribbling my heart out.  Oh my gosh, what a fartsy little emo.

Jen has also asked  (even longer ago) the INTJ nightmare of “what song best describes your personality type?”  I knew right away that short of composing my own song, I’d never find THE one. The one which best describes me? pfft. I know how haughty that sounds, I do. But it’s not arrogance, I prom. It’s part of the INTJ personality; needing precisely what was asked for, not something kinda sorta close, not something with only parts of it which match, not something with lyrics that work but the music doesn’t.  So I didn’t participate because the limit does not exist. I really did want to participate- so it’s remained in my head all these months, something which I suspect is also telltale INTJ.


Since I’m turning 30 this month, I thought it’d be real good and annoying to find something which reflects my twenties, and the hindsight I have about it today.
Exit if you must. bye.

Also, Amazon affiliate link alert. ;)


It hit me at 8am one morning as I was kind of, maybe sobbing just a tiny bit over a mixing bowl filled with scone dough while listening to Mumford & Sons Babel:

Now that I can look back upon my twenties –I am so glad they’re gone, but they gave me so much.
Not to say that I’m not filled with gratitude for the gifts I’ve received in those years (I had a reconversion to the Catholic faith, I married Craig, we had 3 beautiful babies, and are expecting a fourth).

However, it has been a decade of stumbling, believing I was invincible, then being hurled through physical space –literally. 2 car accidents– and realizing that my own fear and avoidance of fragility and ordinariness was, in truth, the reality.

My twenties end in surrender, faith, and a deep longing to earn wiry, white hair …and even to eventually lose my straight, white teeth.

Babel describes the conflict and pull of earthly flesh, often stretched away from divine truth (which is etched into our eternal souls –whether we like it or not) while we seek out empty fulfillment and our own “personal truths” in earthly life.   Often, you’ll wonder if the artist sings to a lover.  Consider it a little further, and many of the songs might also be heard as a prayer, a cry, or even anguish sung out to our Creator, or even vice versa depending on the song.

When I first pressed play and listened to the whole thing, beginning to end, I felt the pain and loss of parts of my soul which I’d so purposely shredded and thrown to the sky as confetti in my early twenties, not expecting to see it ever again –yet I was later shocked to learn it lands, and the tattered parts of my soul had now become the filth stuck to the bottoms of others’ shoes, and I felt dirty and unworthy. And how could that ever be washed away?

I felt the utter loss of control over things in my life which I’d felt rightly entitled to own, experience, and make happen the way I felt it was supposed to go.
But musical and lyrical beauty rush through and reflect in Babel, showing the other side of despair:

property of Carolyn Svellinger

The strange, redemptive beauty of realizing that pain and suffering and loss have not been for nothing, if you have the patience and courage to face it, learn from it, and use it.
And that’s where my inner emo girl usually weeps: the understanding of redemption.  (And for the record, I don’t think that’s emo. I think that’s called grace.)

The bittersweet wisdom that I will unquestionably continue to face physical and emotional pain; I will continue to stumble, and trudge, and sometimes grow obstinate and angry; that I will come to know intimately the dark vacuum of loss, and perhaps more intense than I’ve ever imagined– is not for nothing.

In fact, these are tools for my strength and if I so wisely choose to wield them in the proper way, this instrument of suffering is necessary for my redemption according to God’s holy will –which I can never know with certainty.

Ironically and quite counter to our cultural norms, these musicians welcome that battle in their music.  And finally at thirty, so do I.
This is what I think of when I hear people use the oft crassly-meant term of “dirty thirty” : the willingness to enter war for our souls and those of our loved ones.

…and those of our loved ones.  I understand that in my suffering, no matter how little or intense, I can use it to aid in the redemption of my loved ones– especially those who do not know God.  Don’t let your suffering go to waste. Offer it to Jesus on the Cross in reparation for the sins of your loved ones, the sins you don’t know.  This makes bearing that suffering a weapon against evil, and ultimately, eternal fire.

Here’s faith I have many years to learn better and love deeper.