Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And Yet - Thoughts on Advent

It makes me sad, when we do that thing that we are so good at. We protect the status quo. We immediately defend. We build our trenches and bring our weapons up to attention. We are ready to do battle against anything that might question, push, or second guess all that we hold dear.

******

I sat in that auditorium, listening to the sermon. He spoke about the Shepherds. How they were outcasts. Ceremonially unclean. Unable to give testimony in court. Yet the angels heralded the Christ Child’s birth to them. No one would believe them. They couldn’t enter the temple but they were allowed to worship at the feet of God incarnate.

And yet.

I thought about Jesus. How years later He would hold children in His lap. He would look into their eyes and then tell us that if we wanted in on this Kingdom of His that we would have to be like them. A child. Powerless. Not given full standing in society. Be like them.

And yet.

When the world was hopeless, when weeping had replaced joy and life was laying shattered on the ground He came back. Pushing through. Changing things forever. Turning the whole thing on its head. And He showed Himself for the first time as the resurrected Savior to women. Women. And they couldn’t give testimony in court. And they were second class citizens.

And yet.

******

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/512354895077476784/


I have grown up in a culture, in a society that has kept its fences so tightly guarded. And we look out, scanning the perimeters to make sure that no one is sneaking in. There is a small gate that is guarded. You can (maybe) enter there if you do what we say, what we believe, what our understanding has always been. I think we are scared. It’s not supposed to look like this.

And yet.

And yet as I read Scripture, as I walk with Jesus, I see something new. I see something old.

I see a God who has taken the unlikely, the marginalized, the unclean, the Samaritan, the Jew, rich and poor, the Gentile, male and female, child and adult. He has taken them by the hand and said, “Hold on.” He has held them tight as He jumped over the fence that we’ve made and with His strength and grace He has taken them, He has taken us, to the safety and center of His pasture.   And we are still on the outside, looking out, scared, defensive. But He’s with us. Right here in the center. And He’s bringing folks with Him and we are too blind to see it.

******

We fight for our doctrine and theology. And while doctrine and theology are good, they aren’t God. And if we spend all our time fighting and fearful we don’t have room for Him.

There is room. He is clearing a path. He’s making a way. And I am left with two choices. I can stand near the fence or I can run wild to the middle where it is messy and muddy. The middle where I’m not always comfortable. But Jesus is there. I can trust Him to sort it out. I don’t have to. I just want to stay in the center where there is love and grace, because when I’m there I can feel the shift. I can feel the Kingdom tremble and turn and I start to see.

******

Let’s start being ready for the extraordinary. The miraculous. The unexpected.

The entirety of Jesus time on earth was spent with the less than, changing everything, and here we are 2000 years later and we stuff this big, crazy God in a box of our own making. We have birthed a theology that says how He moves, how He acts, and who He loves. I want my wild God back. The one who dares to pick the outcast and show them honor. I want to serve the God of Scripture – the one who says the first will be last and the last will be first. I want to blow the lid off my ideas, my misconceptions, my beliefs based in tradition but not on reality.

Reality is wilder than I’ve been led to believe.

I don’t want the static I want the ever moving.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I've Seen The Light - 30 Thankful Days

This post was written on November 1st. After I wrote it I discovered my laptop no longer connects to the internet. Le sigh. So, it has taken me a while to get this where it needed to go. Apologies in advance and all that good stuff……

I was one of the many, perhaps you were too, the ones who went to Harvest Parties, Fall Festivals, and Hallelujah Nights. We dressed as Rebecca, Ruth, Moses, and Peter. Sometimes we were daring and went out on a limb as Laura Ingalls Wilder. We spent our Hallows Eve in church basements that protected us from the darkness that seemed to press in from all sides.

We did our best.
Our pastors did their best.
Our parents did their best.
******

Last night I took three pirates into the darkened streets of my neighborhood. And I found light.

Our feet walked through puddles and wet leaves up and down our neighborhood block. Streetlights burned bright and jack-o- lanterns lit the way. Some houses had music playing; some window displays; one an animatronic light and musical extravaganza that was on par with the Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World.  And all the way the giggles of my girls and their friend traveled  intermingling with the other laughter and squeals of delight from the dozens of children that swarmed the sidewalks.

Our neighborhood is just that – a neighborhood. When we moved in at the end of this summer, we quickly found that out. We've met most of our neighbors and have been given folders of information – phone numbers, meetings, annual parties, etc. But never have I seen so many neighbors as I did last night.

Despite the rain, we were all out there. Kids gathered in groups. Parents shook our hands and introduced themselves. We met more neighbors yesterday than I have in my almost 40 years. Everyone was kind. Houses were decorated and inviting. And in over half the houses, the owners were not just waiting for the doorbell to ring, but sitting outside, ready to welcome the least of these.

And this is where I’ll probably lose you, but it almost felt, dare I say it, holy.  And if Jesus were here today, I can’t help but think he’d be dressed up, walking up and down the street with the kids, laughing and helping hold umbrellas to keep them dry. He’d be standing with the parents, asking them how they've been doing. He’d be smiling at the folks opening up their homes thanking them for their kindness.

I grew up in a church culture that wanted to be far removed from Halloween. And if you were going to dip your toes in, it was as outreach - a way to reach through the darkness and show God’s love. But last night I didn't need to set up outreach. I didn't need to do ministry. I didn't need to be “intentional.” My neighbors, the ones that I have been told my entire life to reach out to were the ones who did the reaching. They brought joy to my girls. They told them they loved their costumes. They treated them like they were part of the community. They made them feel special. They blessed my kids. They made this mother cry with gratitude.

Sometimes, most times, holy work is here in the everyday.

So next year we will turn on our lights, get a ton more candy and goodies to pass out, decorate our stoop, dress up, and welcome our neighbors, because they have welcomed us.



This year, as I did last year, I’ll be *attempting* to blog each day in November, listing five things each day I am grateful for. Think of it as advent for Thanksgiving. The amazing PrudyChick is hosting again, so why not join along?


01                 Trick or Treating with my girls
02                 Humidifiers and Vicks Vaporub
03                 Pumpkins lining rainy steps
04                 Joni Mitchell songs that remind you how far you've come
05                 Bursts of brave that shake you to your core

06                  Dress up. Always Dress up
07                  Time with my family
08                  Learning what it is to love your neighbor
09                  Sitting next to a friend
10                  Being able to smile, even when the croup is raging

11                  The Sunday paper
12                  Coupon inserts!
13                  Taking drives with the family
14                  Being able to treat your kids 
15                  Sleep

16                  A morning at preschool after a long long sick days
17                  The public library
18                  Rental vans
19                  Monsters University
20                  Notes from friends

21                  S'mores Parties
22                  Homeschooling my kids
23                  Reading books together snuggled under blankets
24                  The excitement in planning an anniversary date
25                  Opening your home to others

26                  Chicken mummies
27                  Husbands who make the chicken mummies
28                  Kids excited to make the chicken mummies
29                  The brilliant (?) thought to use the cheaper cornish game hen instead of a chicken for said chicken mummy
30                 The sound of your children singing a funeral dirge for the chicken mummy




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Somewhere in the Gravy

Monday mornings are rushed and somewhere in the hustle and little girls streaking by looking for backpacks and shoes I glance down and realize that I am missing my watch and my wedding band. It still takes me a moment to bring to mind their location – the shelf in the bay window over my kitchen sink.

******

Try as I may, I am not always the best at honoring the Sabbath, or at least doing it the way I imagine it should be done. Somewhere in my mind are pictures of candles lit, soft music playing, and a family tucked around a fire, each with their own book as a way to remember the week that passed and birth the new week into existence. There is a quiet solemnity in this picture – something almost ethereal.

Sundays in my home are spent in a different way, and the sounds of the referee’s whistles blowing from the TV in the living room and the rustle of pompoms as my oldest creates Steelers cheers is just as beautiful to me.


Sunday smells of garlic, onion, wine, and tomato on my stove top.


My husband is half Italian. He tells stories of his grandparents who barely spoke English. He doesn't remember a lot, but he remembers the table. He remembers the food. And so I took it upon myself to attempt to master meatballs and gravy (gravy sounds so much more Italian than sauce you know). I am quite certain that I don’t do it in any authentic manner, yet my husband once told me they were the best he ever had, and since he is not prone to complement just to make me feel good, I hold tight to his words with quiet pride.

On Sunday afternoons after church, I try to lay out some easy finger foods so they can all help themselves. Leftovers, sandwiches, cheese and crackers, sometimes chili that I put in the crockpot that morning – whatever it is doesn't matter. As long as there is food – and it is plentiful – then I have done my part and can start dinner.

First I make the meatballs. It is now that I take off my watch, take off my ring, and set them on that sunny shelf that looks out to the neighbors back deck. I plunge my hands in the ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs, shredded zucchini, Parmesan and medley of spices. I used to hate the cold feeling of the meat and egg, but almost ten years into this marriage, it now feels like home. I roll them into balls and place them on the baking sheet. My oldest is sitting at the counter next to me, drawing and creating. She tells me she can’t wait to eat them and I can see that she is now watching me form each meatball. I angle my body so I can see her and tell her stories about how her Daddy’s grandparents spoke Italian and would say “Mange! Mange!,” to him until he ate all his food. We talk about what she learned in Sunday school. She tells me what she’s been talking to God about.

We put the meatballs in the oven and get to the sauce. Onion, garlic, and spices slowly sweat out and then the splash of wine. More shredded or pureed vegetables (whatever is leftover in the fridge) go in and then the tomato sauce.  A pinch of sugar and salt is all it needs. By now the meatballs have browned enough to be put into the sauce to finish cooking. The pan will sit on low the rest of the afternoon until my husband can’t take it anymore and begins to eat them right out of the pan.

******

Being in this house, our home, has made me nostalgic and I think often of the memories my girls will carry with them. Our photo albums are filled with Disney, parks, zoos, swimming pools, and dance recitals. But I suspect that the memories that are etched deepest into their hearts and minds will be the things that are rarely photographed.

I imagine them remembering the way that my hands smell of garlic on Sunday nights as I comb out their hair after their bath. The way that I tell them to make sure they always add the garlic after the onion so it doesn't burn. How when we make brownies we always use a fork to stir because I am convinced it works better than a spoon. That an important part of each and every day is cuddle time. Old hymns sung in the car; dance parties in the living room. And bread that is baked and kneaded at home is far superior to any other bread and must be consumed in its entirety in one day.


That sitting on the couch, cuddled in blankets on a Sunday afternoon watching football is just as holy as anything else you can do after church. And that God is somewhere in the gravy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Slaying Dragons

I sit in a room full of creatives - writers, artists, musicians, artisans, and prophets. I hear the speaker's words of life, encouraging us to find our center.....our purpose.

And all I see right now are my girls. As much as I want to deny it or minimize it, my world revolves around three little girls and I'm okay with that.



I see my big girl, hair flowing down as she sits and stares at the stars, whispering prayers up to a God she hears and talks with throughout the day and night.

I see my middle, with that smile that radiates love on her expressive and cherubic face. If you've ever been given a hug from her, count yourself lucky.

I see my little, full of fire and joy shrieking with delight. She sets the world ablaze with her passion. She is not one to be controlled.

And I know my center.

I want my girls to grow up knowing they can slay dragons. I want them to be the hero of their own story.

I want them to climb towers.
I want them to cross moats.
I want them to stare down fear.

I want them to never see themselves as second class or as a supporting character.

My girls are the main characters in a great adventure that even now is being written for them and through them. They have been created with purpose. They are going to change lives. They will be the stuff of legends.

They are truth tellers, light bearers, and hope whisperers.

I want my girls to grow up slaying dragons.

I want them to burn with passion. I want them to be filled with determination. I want them to create. To sing songs that are born in their heart, to paint with both broad and fine brush strokes, to draw with inhibition, to weave words that come to them in dreams.

I want them to build. I want them to build skyscrapers, foundations, relationships, themselves, and each other.

I want them to fight. I want them to fight injustice. To fight for the oppressed. To fight against excess. To overturn tables. To find not just their voice, but to find their roar, holy and unstoppable.

I want my girls to slay dragons.

I want them to bleed Jesus. I want them to be filled with purpose, passion, joy, love, strength, peace, faith, and fire.

I want them to be light in the dark places. To bring hope to a world that is cynical and tired.

I want grace and mercy to ooze out of their pores. I want them to see - to never be blind to the circumstances of others. I want them to look past others' quick judgement and condemnation and see the beautiful and broken world through the lens of love and compassion and unfailing hope.

I want them to find their center. And whether they find it walking through fields of flowers, the hard pavement of city streets, or in the dusty roads of lands an ocean away, I want them to grab it and let nothing stop them.

I want my girls to grow up slaying dragons.

They have Jesus running through their veins. They aren't made to be boxed in, labeled, or told what to do by a world that judges them on their looks and their hemline. I'm tired of hearing it from others - they certainly aren't going to hear it from me.

My girls are going to grow up to slay dragons - that's how their Jesus made them.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pssst......I'm Still Here

Hey! Remember that time I took the summer off from blogging? You know, how I told everyone, made a big announcement, and all that good stuff? 

Yeah, me neither.

But, I did end up taking the summer off (even from my beloved Twitter - gasp!).

I didn't plan to, but I did.

******

My one year "blogoversary" was on July 26th. I actually started to blog for it, but that Mary spirit, the one that holds all these things in her heart, was on me and I stayed quiet.

My first post, my very first one, was a prompt via Sarah Bessey, about what's saving my life right now.

That post was probably one of the most honest and vulnerable things I have ever published. It was in part, a lament. I cried out, so very discouraged at that stuck feeling. Of not being able to be the family we felt we should be because we were stuck in a third floor condo. 

******

Then we bought a house. In our neighborhood. With a little backyard (if by backyard I mean a small concrete pad, but boy is it wonderful), room for the girls to sleep, play, homeschool (oh yeah, doing that too). 

Our dining room is even bigger than what we had in the condo, and now when we are sitting down together at our table, I don't see the empty chairs, I see the faces of children who need a family and I know that soon it will be full. 

******

It's been busy. It's been stressful. It has been unimaginably wonderful. Not a day has gone by that I haven't found myself crying for the beauty of it all. 

For all of the work of it, there has been an unmistakable whisper in my ear....

"It is good."

******

I thought I knew what grace was. I have been learning its lessons over the past few years. But this summer I realized something. You can't just float down the river of grace. Because if you do, you see others around you and even though you are being held up by its strong current, you will slowly begin to look around and judgement, cynicism, and insecurity will start to seep in. 

It's here that you are left with a decision. Get out of the river, or let the current take you. Stop fighting, and just release.



I've been drowning in grace and now I can finally breathe.


******

I have lots to say. I have lots I want to talk with you about.

It's good to be back, friends. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Following a Wild God - A Fairy Tale of Sorts

As a momma of three beautiful girls, I find myself telling the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears over and over and over again. I have NO idea why my girls love it, but it is definitely on our top 10 list. As is often the case with story, we find ourselves in the center of it. So I’d like to introduce you to my story, really our story, of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

******

Let me start by telling you about Papa Bear. If you are reading this, I’m guessing you have met Him. For some, it might have been as teens, for some as adults. For me, it was when I was three years old. And for the record, don’t let anyone ever tell you that if you meet Papa Bear when you are young, that it isn’t meaningful. Sometimes the younger you are when you meet Him, the clearer the picture is of Him.

Papa Bear is loving and very protective.
Papa Bear wants to have a genuine relationship with all of His children.
Papa Bear will take you on adventures and through the wilds in ways you could never dream.
Papa Bear will fight both for His children and for the knowledge that His children are an active part of the Kingdom.

Throughout the Bible, Papa Bear has been showing others how valuable his cubs are.  We see in Mark 10 a passage that powerfully points to a Father who is passionate about His children.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

What is perhaps most striking is how Jesus is described: “Indignant.” Often we gloss over this passage and picture a gentle Christ, sitting on a large stone, gently holding a couple kids on His lap, somewhat similar to Santa. But I don’t think that is accurate. I have no doubt that in the children’s eyes he was compassionate and loving. But there was anger as well, because someone dared to keep Him from His children. This wasn’t the first time Jesus had told his disciples about how much He values children.

Right before that we hear another story where Jesus took a child in His arms. Mark 9:33-36.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

There are many things I love about this passage. First, during this time we learn in verse 30 that Jesus was trying to have some uninterrupted teaching time with His disciples as they were travelling. Yet, there was at least one child around. He didn’t send the children out of the house, or in the other room. He allowed him to be with Him. Not only did Jesus notice this child, he took him in His arms. He could have made any comparison, used ANYTHING to make this very important point, but He chose a child.  He chose a child!

Jesus continues on a few verses later:

If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

I am drawn to the fact that Jesus is still using children in His description. It is entirely possible that as He continues discussing the importance of children, that He is still holding that same child in His arms. And why wouldn’t He? That child seemed to understand the Kingdom far better than the disciples did.

It is no wonder then, that when shortly later when parents were bringing the children to be blessed, that Jesus became indignant when the disciples tried to stop them. Here they were, stopping the children from being blessed by Jesus, doing the very thing they were told not to do, treating them as nuisances.

It seems pretty clear. The children recognized who Jesus truly was long before the disciples did. And Jesus knew that they were as much a part of the Kingdom as anyone else.

******

And now, I would like to tell you about the Baby Bears in our story.
There was a story passed around through email several years ago. While maybe not Biblically accurate, there was something in it that always rang true to me. The story paints a picture of a girl age 5 hovering over her baby sister. The mother watches for a moment as the little girl whispers to her and then places her ear near the infant’s mouth. “What are you doing to your little sister?” The little girl replies, “I’m asking her what God’s voice sounds like. I’m starting to forget.”

This is one of those heartwarming stories that is cute, but not based on fact, right? But ask any who has rocked a crying baby, silently praying for them, feeling a once rigid body relax as prayers are sent to a Heavenly Father. There is a smile, unlike other smiles, when I hold my baby girl and tell her that Jesus loves her. There is knowledge, some uninterrupted direct line in their hearts that goes to their Creator. They seem to be born knowing that they are loved by God. 

But somewhere along the line, they begin to forget. The adults in their lives disappoint them. Their God ambassadors, also known as parents, lose their tempers, hurt them, and basically act human. And there are some who have unimaginable and unspeakable harm done to them.

Psalm 8:2 states, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” The image painted of not just children, but infants, is staggering. There are not simply these fragile, weak and dependent creatures that spend their days sleeping, eating, and waiting for diaper changes. No, these children are designed by their Creator with a purpose. Even at a young age, their life is an expression of pure worship, even though we have a tendency to ignore them. These are people who have a role in the Kingdom. 

These are people who God has a relationship with.

******

There are two characters left in our story, and this is where we come in. There is Mama Bear, and there is Goldilocks. We have a choice which role to take on. We can be Goldilocks. We can put ourselves as the center of the story, thinking it's all about us. We can keep busy doing our Kingdom work and pat ourselves on the back for reading them a Jesus story as we "prepare them for the future."

Or, we can be Mama Bears. We can stand up to others who hurt the Baby Bears, whether intentional or unintentional. We can love them, nurture them, and with every interaction point them to their Papa Bear. And we can whisper to them to explore and follow Him into the wild.

I look at my girls and I watch how they pray. I see it in their eyes. They hear Him. And I'm realizing it's more important for me to step back and give them space to hear Him. We're following Him together.





I am so excited that I was able to contribute to the book Wild Goslings: Engaging With Kids in the Mysteries of God. You can go to Amazon and download it here. You can also find us on Facebook here. You'll be glad you did! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sometimes We Are the Enemy - A Reflection on Psalm 64

I baked today. 

For probably the first time in over three months, I baked for no other reason than I wanted to fill the house with good smells. I wanted to watch Katie stir the batter with equal parts care and artistic flair. I wanted Sophie to beat the eggs as her smile widens with each pass of the whisk. I wanted Lucy to fold in the grated zucchini, proud that even a two year old can help. 

We talked about lemon zest as I generously added it in and smiled and laughed. We sat in front of the oven, just watching it bake, because we simply wanted to. I have a must-do list that is many, many pages long and needs to be completed. But this? This was important.



The loaves baked and there is something about that lemon-scented bread that centered me. The girls each ate a slice, hot out of the oven, dripping with butter. I do declare I heard the Lord himself say, "It is good."

Now they color and make an army of paper dinosaurs out of paper stars while I slip away to write. We all are happy.

******

I meditate on Psalm 64 as I have been for days. And I read the words:

They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear.

I've been hurt by the words of others. I have cried out into the night, praying that God would swoop in and intervene and set all things right. I still wear the scars that don't seem to fade with time. They have changed me, good and bad, into the person I am today. 

The enemy is the tongue. 

The enemy is my tongue. How often do I bemoan others, unaware of my own culpability? We fight back, launching words and blog posts like arrows, hoping to penetrate the opposition's position. Hoping to highlight their weakness. Win the battle. 

There is so much hurt. So much wrong. So much pain. 

There are boys being shot when walking home at night. There are children being shot in parks while watching fireworks in my city where a total of 55 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend. There are little girls who are so abused and neglected that they have maggots growing in their wounds. There are people dying of hunger every day. There is so much bad, so much wrong, in the world that sometimes all I can do is bake a loaf of bread and try to catch my breath because if I think about it to much I might just break down forever.

******

I think about Psalm 64. I think about those who sharpen their tongues like swords. But what if we do, but don't aim at the innocent, but instead......? 

I will fight against injustice. I will fight myself and my own desires. I will fight to see His Kingdom come.

Jonathan Martin said on Twitter today:

The work of Jesus is to bind up the brokenhearted. You are surrounded by broken hearts on all sides, so roll up your sleeves & join him. What feels like poison to you will one day be the antidote for someone else. Your wounds will be a resource for healing - so don't give up.

And the brokenhearted are all around us. And the world is moaning and crying out in pain. And I can't act like I don't hear it. It's time to use our words for Kingdom work.




Friday, July 12, 2013

In Which I Think I Feel The Holy Spirit - A Guest Post for Sarah Bessey

Photo Credit: Jennifer Upton A Shared Lens
It was July 26, 2012 when I wrote on this blog, for "real." It was a synchroblog for Sarah Bessey and I wrote my heart out. And Sarah, graciously, came to all of us who posted. She read our words and shared comments. That comment gave me a nudge to keep writing. And here, almost one year later, I have the amazing opportunity to share my words on her blog. I am truly overwhelmed and humbled.


Join me there, as I share a story that's been stored up far too long.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Magic Breaks Through

The drafts folder is full of post upon post that aren't quite finished. This summer has been wonderfully relaxing. We get so tired with the constant demands of our normal, everyday schedule, and this bit of laziness has been good for the soul. But the lack of firm schedule and the heat of made our days blend one into the other and here I am on a Wednesday morning, realizing that again, I haven't posted this week.

Photo Credit: http://asharedlens.smugmug.com/Weather/Sunsets/24949647_HxKMrT#!i=2332245631&k=hnNH5jb&lb=1&s=XL


There is a lot that has been happening; a lot on the horizon. Some words flow freely. Some are stuck, just waiting for the moment of release. So much good coming. So much. I have that Mary feeling I get every so often. I'm just storing these things up in my heart.

I've been challenged by words this past month. And I've been angered by words. I've been encouraged. And I've been brokenhearted. 

But as disappointed as I can be in the words of others, I've found a new joy, a new beauty in the Words that I've known since I was a child.

I held my Lucy girls in my arms on the couch as she drifted off to her nap. As busy as life gets, there is something perfect about taking the time each day to let her fall in her momma cocoon. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Softly sleeping, I watched a few minutes of Call the Midwife (if you don't watch this, I just don't know....) and the words spoken by one of the nuns in the scene filled my heart like an orchestra's music swells to fill an amphitheater.

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26

Even in the King James, the words found their way to the deep places. And all the theological poundings and fighting and are pushed aside as I just sit in the knowledge that I am loved. I have life. 

And suddenly this day seems almost magical. Can't you just feel it?

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I can tackle the rest of the words. But for right now, I'm going to rest in this. The knowing that I am held.

It is good.

Friday, June 28, 2013

We are Turning Flowers into Crowns

A young girl, sun shining through the clouds behind her as she sits on a hill, blanketed by the thickest and greenest of grass. The wind blows through her hair, smelling sweet of lilac, as she carefully, delicately, creates a wreath of flowers which she places on her head.

Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/25403185368173978/

This. This is a picture that I have had stowed away in the recesses of my memory since I was a child, undoubtedly placed there by Anne of Green Gables and episodes of Little House on the Prairie. Try as I may, I was never able to make such a wreath. Flowers are delicate and too much manipulating and soon those flowers are just a pile of stem and petal in my hands, stained yellow from the pollen.

You have to be careful with flowers.

******

I don't sit on a hill and crochet flowers into crowns. My hills are asphalt and my time is short. But words, I will craft my words and find within them wreaths, necklaces, anything I choose or can conjure up. I will sew, oh so carefully, these letters together and make a garland. And this garland, this small piece of beauty in a world so often dark and cold may be offered up to you. I will offer them to you, with trembling hands, for you to hold in yours.

You have to be careful with words.

I want to sit with you, and share. I want to trust you enough I can pass my words to you and know that you will watch over them, that you will keep your hands open, being careful not to crush them. 

I want you to see the beauty in them. I want you to ask me about them. You don't have to agree with them....really, you don't. And here's what's so scary. You might not like them at all. Not one bit.

That's okay.

But don't throw them away. Don't toss them away. Remember that someone put time into them. Someone dared to peel back the layers and share some of the deepest parts of themselves. Or maybe it was just a reflection on the day, full of light and glimpses of dimpled cheeks and blonde ringlets. It really doesn't matter. They still deserve care.

For I will take care of your words. I will read them. Think about them. I will look at them, in all of their beauty. I might share them. I might hold them up to my little corner of the world and say, "Look at these words, drink them in. Let them settle into the corners of your soul." Because that is how you handle words. Or I might not like them at all. Not one bit.

That's okay.

I will still appreciate these words, but more so, I will appreciate you, the artist that wove them together. I will be grateful that you esteemed me enough to share them with me. And for that I say thank you.

******

I'm 38 years old. I don't have time to live in a Utopian world. 

I'm 38 years old. I will make my world what I want it to be.

******

Resistance has been pressing hard around me. I've been frozen, fearful of writing out my words. Unable to create my garland. Today. Today I pushed through. I don't need approval. These are my words to speak. My flowers to weave.

We all want to be seen. To be heard. To have the respect of our peers. I know. I know.

This isn't that.

This is finding those people that believe in you. Who hear the beauty in your words. I'm finding my people. 

******

Come to the hill. Be it soft grass or concrete and asphalt. Come. Share your stories. Shout it out. I'm here to hold your words, the garland that they are.

We are here, turning our flowers into crowns.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When the Clouds Roll In

We are three weeks into summer vacation, and already I find myself using the word more than normal. When togetherness can be too much, and there is no alone time, little hearts, little minds, little egos get bruised and battered. And I hold her in my arms, brushing her curly blonde hair with my hand and I whisper, "Grace, baby. Grace."

And When I realize that I haven't written since they have been out of school, and I miss placing words together, I whisper, "Grace, momma. Grace."

It's a little word to write out, not many letters, but we know its meaning is deep and wide and full of all that brings life to us.



******

I hesitate sharing that verse. I know enough from my education to understand the verse was not intended to be reduced to a self-help mantra. I get that. But when I pray for her I think of it, and I wonder if it settled on my heart and mind because I am meant to share it. But I am quieted by the noise of wise admonitions that we should be so careful because that's not what it meant and it is wrong to misinterpret and maybe something about foolishness and Pharisees. I don't know....I just know I find myself silent.

******

I let my insecurities get the better of me. It's burning deep down, aching to come out. I need to write it out. But wait, now is the time we are all to let the experts guide the discussion, we are only to learn. And so I find myself, still silent.

******

Three weeks of silence. Each day busy, full of new activities, new rhythms, new.....everything. And I've let this silence settle in deep, just as the clouds have rolled in and covered the summer's sun. So I'm gonna stretch. I'm gonna speak. I'm gonna sing.

I'm gonna sing. And I hope you sing too.



******

Thank you for your patience during this quiet time. I've missed writing. I've missed connecting. I have some exciting things coming up.....I hope you stick around.

And be sure to check this out; I'm really proud to be a part of this! Wild Goslings 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And It Is Good

She walks through the meadow, green grass past her ankles, brushing up against her, soft and cool from the morning light, releasing its fragrance.


Photo Credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/5136987046786652/



And as the sun makes its place in the mid-morning sky, the clouds, so fluffy you dare believe you can touch them, break forth, opening the heavens to show the bluest of skies. She looks up to take in the creation in all its glory and holy air fills her lungs. And she yells out, as the poets and prophets have done from years past and still present. 

BEAUTY! 

BEAUTY! 

BEAUTY!

Here, in the hills and valleys filled with wildflowers that spread their intoxicating scent, she scans the horizon. She claims this space and calls it His. 

Here there will be beauty. Here there will be love. Here there will be truth. 

There will be words of praise and cries in the dark. The ground will grow wet with rain - His tears of joy, His tears of sadness.

And the mighty, righteous oaks will grow strong over the years. She will rest in its shade - rebuild - renew. She will find renewal from the desert place.



Photo Credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/488922103265978874/


This. This place is where she is grounded, where her strength will rise up. And this ground, this holy foundation will not be trampled with anything other than holy wrestling and the dancing that comes from the most raucous of parties.


Here we celebrate it all.


And it is good.



This was a three minute write, scribbled down on a legal pad during a writing retreat. As we sat in a circle talking about what to do when you feel "stuck" during the creative process, I looked up and saw my friend and for whatever reason, in that moment I knew what I wanted my blog to look like and these words poured out. Thank you for reading and for your comments of support. I like this place.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Breakthrough - A Reflection on Psalm 57



I've spoken before, about these Psalms, about my heart clamoring alongside David's very heart. I have felt it coming from all sides and cried out to my God, praying for deliverance, asking for help. I look back on my Bible and I can see tear stains next to some of these Psalms, the ones that I would read aloud over and over as my prayer to God when my own words failed me. 

But today. Today I read this Psalm, a Psalm of deliverance and praise.

Praise.


I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!Awake, my glory!Awake, harp and lyre!I will awaken the dawn.I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;I will sing praises to You among the nations.For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavensAnd Your truth to the clouds.Be exalted above the heavens, O God!Let Your glory be above all the earth.

How did I miss that? How have I never noticed the words of praise that came from David's lips? These are words that have filled the songs we sing at church. These phrases and word combinations are ingrained in me and as I read them I can hear the melodies that accompany them. And yet, in my fear, in my longing, in my desperation the only words I saw were his words of supplication. 



Today I am sharing at my friend Steph's blog, Everyday Awe. If you haven't managed to read her encouraging words, be sure to check it out. Each Tuesday morning she leads us through a Psalm, encouraging us to dig in and let the Scriptures meet us where we are at. I'm so grateful for her and for this opportunity! Join us!



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chasing The Green Light

I haven't opened up my blog page much the past few weeks. The more words I have floating in my head, the less I seem to put in this space. I don't know what to do.

I've wanted to write, but when the sun shines, and I have to choose between going home to write and taking the girls to the zoo, I find myself surrounded at night by sun-kissed girls, hair curled with humidity, dusty feet, and mouths turned up in a content and exhausted smile. I think I've chosen well.

Today the sky is gray and wet, although the sun is trying to break through. The air is muggy. I've resisted putting on the air-conditioner.  No babies. No pregnant women. I can suck it up. After all, it's only May.

We finally got the last of the school letters in the mail. My dream school? We are on the wait-list at #337.  We received two offers, neither we are accepting. As my friend Danielle said, it's time to roll with the punches.


Photo Credit: http://www.iwallscreen.com/stock/green-light-nature-desktop-wallpaper-forest.jpg


I've been thinking back to those literature classes in high school, and how I did far more work for those than I did for any of mine in college, even as an English major. We would fill three inch binders thick with research from the University of Dayton library all day Saturday, making copies at Kinko's at midnight on Sunday. T.J. Eckleburg, I still remember you as Thomas Jefferson, looking at what the United States had become, watching us in our sin and frivolity. 

I spent so much time in high school and college surrounded in words. They hemmed me in on all sides, guarding my heart. When I remember that time, I can never decide if I wish I had spent more time lost in those books and in my words that I scratched out, moved by what I had been reading, or if I should have spent more time living outside the printed page.


My husband took me on the absolutely most amazing date a few weeks ago to celebrate 13 years of being together. Our favorite restaurant complete with celebrity chef sighting and then the Great Gatsby.

And I held my breath, tears rolling down my face, as the words tattooed in my mind found themselves spoken:


He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. 
He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....
And one fine morning - 

So we beat on, boats against the current, 
borne back ceaselessly into the past.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Joy - A Reflection on Psalm 55

Dear Lucy,


I can't believe my baby is two. You entered the world my love on a a laugh and you have been full of joy ever since. Your eyes sparkle and tell stories that your words aren't able to yet. There has not been a day gone by in your time with us where you have not serenaded us with your laughter. 



Lucy, I pray the joy that brought you into this world, the joy that came into our lives with you, never leaves. Your birth, your arrival was a tangible reminder that joy is possible. That joy should be sought after and tended to with care. You made me believe that I could feel joy again.



But someday. Someday someone might do something to you and the pain you feel will seem unbearable. They may seek to take your joy. Hang on. Don't let them. Your joy is a gift given by your Creator when you were formed.

When I crack open my Bible to Psalm 55,  I can see where my tears fell on the page and instantly I am transported to a different time, a different place. And the emotion comes back almost as strong as it was all those years ago and I struggle to catch my breath.

I would curl up in a ball crying, holding my Bible close, praying for the madness of the situation to stop. I'd read David's words and I knew he was the closest person around to understanding how I felt. 


Listen to my prayer, O God,

do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.

Your arrival, my dear, is a reminder that those days are over. That the time of being under the weight of other peoples' words and opinions are at an end. 

I'd love to think that you will never have to go through all of that. But the world.....well.....

If and when it happens baby, don't do what I did. Don't find solace in David's cries. I don't want you to let your heart be soothed by his words of anguish and requests for "justice." I want you to be so rooted in Him, your Creator, that when you read Psalm 55 all you do is cast your cares on Him, for He will sustain you, not allowing you to be shaken (v. 22).

The world is full of hurt people. And in their hurt and pain they may hurt you. All I can say, is grace. You will need all the energy you can muster to give it, but it's better to spend it parceling out in small measure the grace that has been given to you extravagantly  than to focus on the hurt.




So Lucy dear, read these words and tattoo them to your heart. They will carry you through.


But as for me, I trust in You.

Happy Birthday, dear child.

Love, Mommy