Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Through Eyes of Faith: Purses and 2014 and Letting Go

Through Eyes of Faith: Purses and 2014 and Letting Go: I love purses.  I love going to Taiwan and finding beautiful, lovely purses.  I love walking into a store and spotting a wonderful purse.  I...

Purses and 2014 and Letting Go

I love purses.  I love going to Taiwan and finding beautiful, lovely purses.  I love walking into a store and spotting a wonderful purse.  I love receiving purses.  In fact, I actually get giddy with excitement when someone gifts me with one.   So  consequently, I have a few of them.  I have a rubbermaid bin of purses that I have in my closet and I periodically change my purse out for a different one.  Some time ago,  I was looking at the bin and thinking that when I bought another one,  I would have to get rid of one.  And I have some that I can get rid of.  But it’s really hard to do so.  I have a few that are worn,  they really don’t work as well as they used to and they are definitely older than ones I usually use.  But I have kept them even though their usefulness has worn out.  Probably because I have so many memories attached to that purse or those purses.  Purses to me are like stories,  stories of trips to Taiwan or cruises or tours through New York.  They remind me of struggles I have been through or victories I have wrought.  They remind me of tickets held or beautiful notes from loved ones slipped in to one of the pockets.    They are like pictures, memories if you will.  But all the same,  I have to let go if I want to add a beautiful, more useful purse; if I want to feel the delight of smelling new leather  and seeing shiny accessories hanging from the purse; if I want to feel my heart beating faster as I put the purse on my shoulder and feel the way it tunes in with my body as I walk.

And I think that our lives are like that sometimes.  Sometimes we let our lives get so full of what is not useful to us that we don’t allow those things in that will free us or make us happy.  Sometimes,  we need to let go of that hurt or that worry or that fear,  in order to free our mind for the better things of life.  Sometimes we need to let go of that job we hate in order to find the job we love.  Sometimes we need to let go of bitterness in order to leave room for the freedom to find a new home in our mind.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing that we need to let go.  But maybe we need to simplify or streamline something in our lives.  Maybe we  have to just simply to let go of the good to grab ahold of the best.  

 A few months ago, we sang a song  in Church.

"Only You"

Take my heart, I Lay it down
At the feet of you whose crowned
Take my life, I'm letting go
I lift it up to You who's throned

And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord

Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I'm leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything

And It's just you and me here now
Only you and me here now

You should see the view
When it's only You

 Sometimes it is hard to let go.  Often it is painful.  That is our stuff.  Those are our memories.  Those are our dreams.   Those things are a part of our life.  But sometimes,  ever once in a while we need to let go so that we can make room for what really needs to be in our lives. 

It’s risky to let  go.  It’s daring.  Maybe you will regret it.  Maybe it will lead to unfamiliar territory.  Maybe you will hurt.  Maybe you will find yourself in a broken place.  Letting go is messy.  It’s unpredictable.

  Maybe, just maybe...

There are so many questions; so many variables. 

But we need to choose - with trembling hands,  to grab ahold of the courage that it takes to let go.  In 2014,  let’s leap into the new year,  without that which bogs us down,  without that which makes our lives more complicated than it ought.   Let’s give ourselves freedom to be what we need to be - to do what we need to do.  Let’s let go.

 What do you need to leave behind in 2013? What do you need to let go of today?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Leaving 2013

As 2014 approaches,  I have realized that 2013 taught me some hard lessons.   I wanted to share them with you. 

First of all,  I learned that I am an emotional eater.  I always knew this but didn’t know the extent of it.  At the beginning of the year,  I worked so hard to lose  weight, to be more fit and to be healthier.  And I was gaining ground.  When my father in law got sick,  I simply didn’t have time for the 1 1/2 hours I was putting into exercising and instead of reaching for the treadmill,  I didn’t have the strength to make the right choice - I reached for that piece of bread instead.  When you are an emotional eater,  you eat for comfort,  you eat because that seems to be a safe place,  you eat because you just don’t have the strength to make another decision about the 5 precious minutes that lay before you until you have to dive into the next thing in your day.  It doesn’t mean that you are lazy.  It doesn’t mean that you are not self controlled.  It doesn’t mean that you are inferior.  It means that you need to re train your mind as to what comforts you; what refuels you,  what energizes you.  For me,  I realized that I not only liked exercise and physical activity,  I NEEDED them.   I needed them to put me on the path of intention.  I needed to them to stay my focus.  I needed them for energy; and for comfort.  I also need art and reading and painting.  So the next time,  I feel like I don’t have time  for this,  I will remind myself that I can’t afford to let those things be shoved to the shelf - even in the name of sacrificing my time for others or for family.  Because in the end,  when I do the things that help me emotionally,  I am becoming a better woman for it.  I am becoming a better mom and a better wife, a better pastor.  I have to schedule time for these things in my week.  Its how God made me and the thing I learned the most this year, was to accept that part of my life and let it be ok for me to have some ME time. 

I learned that numbers mean too much to me but that’s  for another blog.

I learned that in the midst of pain and sorrow and tragedy,  I needed the comfort of my friends surrounding me,  carrying me through when I felt I couldn’t walk anymore even though they were limping themselves.    We needed each other desperately in this season of our lives and we have grown stronger, better and closer because of it. 

I learned that in this next year,  I want to write. I learned that I can navigate the dangerous parts of my life when I write.  I can sort things out in my spirit when I put it on paper.  I have been encouraged and spurred on by so many of you,  my readers, to write a book.  So that’s exactly what I am going to do.  (Thank you for that.)

I learned that you will never know when you will breathe your last breath.  And those things that are really important to you will be the things that you are glad that you did. I learned that  you need to search your soul and find what those things are.  And then you need to use that as a template to live an intentional life.    I don’t want bitterness and hardness and pain to have any place in my heart and in my mind when I am spending these precious little moments that I have on this beautiful earth.  I learned that regret shouldn’t share any space in my heart.  Hate shouldn’t taunt my mind,  hate of any kind,  threatening to steal my days and my attention.

  Even the Bible says that our time here on this earth is like a wisp - it’s like a vapor - spend it wisely.  Spend it lavishly but spend it intentionally.  Spend it with those  that you would love to be remembered by and with.   Move on from those who do not honor you or respect you or encourage you to live a good life.

The biggest thing that I learned from this year is that God’s grace carries me through.  When my friends don’t have the strength to do it anymore, when family is too weak to link arms and when I am just too weak and small and frail to do the journey of the day - He comes alongside of me and He sends me a scripture or a story or anything to help me through the day.  The scripture “His grace is sufficient” rings in my ears almost daily.  Because it is.  And He is.   This has been a tough year.  It started out with me puking in the new year,  followed closely by Dylan getting sent home from England and then it really went downhill from there.  There were so many painful things that happened this year that is not even related to my father in law dying.
But I am starting to realize that as much as I hate pain,  it is a part of life and it is okay. 
Pain is okay,  because pain means that you are alive,  pain means that you are real,  pain means that you haven’t blocked up your emotions and you are letting yourself feel the happiness as well as the pain.  Pain is okay,  because sooner or later,  you will feel that freedom of a painLESS season  and when you do,  it’s deeper, stronger, lovelier because you have known what it is like to be without.  You will have understood what it is like to try to put one foot in front of the other when you feel like you are walking through molasses.  You gain a new appreciation for the beauty around you.  You grab ahold of those wonderful seasons because you remember what it’s like to crave them - to be without them. 

I learned this year that I am weaker than I thought I was which made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.   When I was able to embrace my weakness,  when I was able to be honest about where I was in my life and in my journey even through the weakest parts of my life,  I found that that sparked a strength and a vitality in my spirit that I never knew I had.  It enabled me to draw on a strength that I had deep deep down in the belly of my being and to walk on - knowing that the next day I will still be here; knowing that the sun WILL shine on the darkened skies again,   I WILL still be loving God,  I WILL still be believing in life, I WILL still be celebrating the beautiful moments of my journey.    That strength,   my friend,  doesn’t come from being strong all the time. It comes from being weaker than you ever thought possible and still walking forward. 

As I leave 2013,  I will be glad to say good bye to a year that held a lot of pain.  But I have to recognize that I will  never again be the same - in a good way.  The lessons I learned this year are what have made me who I am today.

 And I dance - no, I leap into 2014 and I believe that there is a whole lot more laughter waiting for me in the coming year!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I cried.

I cried because of the madness that this world is sometimes.  I cried because you don’t ever know and not knowing makes it as scary as a big black hole in the earth.  I cried because some days I live wondering when the next bullet is going to hit; wondering when the next massive wave is going to overtake me and I am going to feel myself drowning again.  I cried because sometimes I just want to leave the scary, the hard and painful bits of my life and live in a bubble for a while.  Sometimes I want to drive as far as I can possibly drive and just sit there and stare at the sky.  Sometimes nothing makes sense -   everything is going in all the wrong directions and its just too painful to breathe.   Because we really have no control do we?  We aren’t in control of our days or months or years and sometimes the only One that is, doesn’t seem to hear us and or want to know our opinion. I wish I was a woman full of faith but sometimes I am just a woman full of questions and no answers.

As I sobbed,  I talked to God.   I was asking God to help me navigate through the dangerous season of my life right now.  It almost seems as though it is stretched too thin.  Like thin thin ice on top of freezing cold waters - waiting for it to crack and open up.

  And suddenly I saw David, a young boy standing in front of a king named Saul.  And this is what he said,  “God rescued me from the lion.  He rescued me from the bear.  He is going to rescue me from this giant too.”

David didn’t wonder why on earth he had to face this giant.  He didn’t moan and groan about the fact that he had fought a bear and he had fought a lion and NOW - NOW he had to fight the giant TOO!!?? He didn’t cry and stomp his feet or hide and cower like the rest of them did.   And so many of us do.  We do.  We get angry or sad or scared.  But David just acted.   He saw a giant  in the camp.  He saw a giant defying his God, and he rolled up his sleeves and said,  “Let me at ‘em.”  What rose up in him that day - that he would face a giant?  He was a young man.  He was a human like you and me - who loved and valued his life.  He got scared and insecure and frightened and intimidated - just like you and me. David was not capable. He was not a warrior.   What rose up in him??  Was it faith? Hope?  Confidence?  Anger? 

His brothers told him to shut up and go home.   They basically called him a brat.  “You just wanted to see the battle David. That’s the only reason you came - you just wanted to be like a big boy and see what was happening over here.”  

The king told him that it wouldn’t end well for him.  But since he was the only one brave enough to fight the giant,  he let him.  But I know as he walked out of that room,  Saul felt sorry for the poor brave boy who was going to die very soon. He wasn’t even big enough to wear his armor.   And I know that David knew what Saul was thinking but he didn’t care.

When David faced the giant, he ridiculed him. He called him a dog.He made fun of him and humiliated him.  I wonder if at any point,  David wondered what on earth he was doing standing in front of this giant daring him to a fight with his little rocks.  What was going through his mind as he stared up into the face of the giant who was mocking him and mocking the rest of them for sending him someone like David?

I don’t think that he let his mind go there. He didn’t wonder whether he was enough for the job at hand because he knew that God was.  He didn’t wonder if his dream was too big for him because he knew it wasn’t too big for God.   I think that David was absolutely propelled by the knowledge and faith he had in his God to save him because he had seen God save him before.  He had forged that relationship with him and he knew that God was going to rescue him.  Yes,  David was risking it.  He was risking his reputation; his future, his very life - but that didn’t matter.  Because there was a giant standing there and he wasn’t supposed to be there.  He needed to be gone.

My life right now is like looking up into the face of a giant.  It’s way too big for me right now. Its way too complicated and loud and crazy.  But I remember - I choose to remember.  God rescued me from the lion.  He rescued me from the bear.  And he will rescue me from the giant too.

Do you have giants in your life right now?   Does  your life seem upside down in so many ways?   He has given you the tools to deal with that giant.  He has given you the courage.   He has given you the grace.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand.  Sometimes,  when life hits you hard,  you need to scream until your throat is raw.  Sometimes you need to run until your feet are stinging.  Sometimes you need to cry until your belly aches.  But at the end of the day,  when you stare up at that giant, with your tear streaked face,  you need to slowly roll up your sleeves as you feel that hope rising up within you,   as you feel that faith carrying you,  as you feel that relationship with your God anchoring you, and you need to tell the giant that he doesn’t belong. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Summer, Storms and Holly Hocks

This summer I could see it from my kitchen window.  Every morning when I turned on my dearly loved keurig coffee machine,  I looked out the window and I smiled.

It was my tallest Holly Hock. I think that Holly Hocks are my favorite flower.  It’s definitely ONE of my favorites for sure.  I think that they are so romantic and free flowing and strong and beautiful.  They are kind of artsy and I love artsy things.  But this one - well this one taught me something. 

It taught me that in the midst of hail, and hurricane force winds and cold, cold spurts when it was supposed to be hot - I can stand strong; I can stand tall and I can be beautiful. 

I remember after the third hailstorm this summer - looking outside at my flowers.  It looked like a marigold massacre.  Bit and pieces of petals and leaves and stems strewn all over my garden; vegetables had totally given up and pansies were one dimensional - they looked like a cruel painting against my steps.  It was awful weather for any plant to survive.

Then a day or two later,  I noticed something.  My holly hocks - even though they were horizontal - they were blooming.  They had been flattened; trampled by the weather, but still they found the strength to bring forth this beautiful bloom from their gangly stalks.

And then a few days later I looked and gasped.  There was my tallest one -standing upright.  Not laying on the ground anymore.   It was taller than I was.  It was beautiful and extravagant and strong.  You would  have never guessed in a million years what storms that Holly Hock had to weather.  In amongst the weeds, the less than perfect soil, the terrible weather, it chose to be outrageously lovely.

It felt like it was cheering me on every day.  “Yeah, Faith, you can do it!  It doesn’t matter if you’ve had an achingly cold and harsh summer; it doesn’t matter if the storms keeps coming - you can do it I I’ve done it so can you!”

The bible talks about being more than a conqueror.  I preached on that a few months ago.  I have come to  believe that being more than a conqueror has a lot more to do with your resolve to serve Jesus in the midst of “it all” rather than having all the circumstances line up perfectly in a row for your enjoyment.   I think that being more than a conqueror means that you weather the storms of life knowing that you won’t run away from the one who calls you his son or daughter.  You may have questions - you may be confused ;and you may even be a little bit angry - but you know Jesus enough.  You have forged that relationship enough. You have dug the wells of friendship with Jesus in a deep way.   You have enough  history with Him to know that he is still God, he is still good and he can still be deeply trusted and loved with abandonment.  That’s what I believe being more than a conqueror is.

So this summer I found myself looking out my kitchen window, first thing in the morning - for my Holly Hock to greet me.  Yes, I can do it - through the storms, through the ugliness and the upside down seasons, through the mixed up and crazy turns of life; through the cruel and really really hard parts.

 I can do it,  I know I can.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dearest Theodore

Dearest Theodore,

By now you have met your lovely Grandi.   I am sure that he threw his arms around you and peppered you with a hundred kisses all over your face because he hasn’t been able to do that yet.  So it would be fitting even though you are 23 today.  And then maybe he growled in your ear a little bit - that playful growl he does when he is so happy to see someone.

He has talked about you lots.  I have heard him mention you in his sermons.  He has talked about how sometimes we go through really really hard times and we always have to run to Jesus in those deepest painful moments.  That we should never run AWAY from Jesus - but run TO him.  I was always proud when he mentioned you in sermons - sort of like a proud mom - like it was always special to get into one of his sermons. 

I don’t know how birthdays work in heaven.  Did he make you a cake?  I have always wondered every year on your birthday how they celebrate in heaven.  I have always wondered if Jesus baked you a cake - this year I have wondered if Grandi baked you a cake.

I am sure that he is sitting with you in his beautiful garden drinking a cup of tea and talking about his family, and talking about Mosaic - how it’s the best Church in the world to go to, or talking about Taiwan and his heart for China.  Or maybe he is just talking about his beautiful flowers in heaven; exquisite flowers and giant roses that he has never seen before.  I am sure it’s an amazing garden - so full of lovely, precious flowers and blooms. And there aren’t any dandelions at all.  And maybe he will take you fishing after he has had his cup of tea. 

You are 23 today.   Wow.  It seems so long ago - but only a moment ago that I held you in my arms and said good bye.  My heart is a little bit raw today.  But there is a little part that is comforted and warmed - knowing that you get to spend your first birthday with Grandi this year. 

I love you deeply.  My heart aches to my toes.   You will always be missed and our family will never be totally complete even though I know that you are with Jesus and you are happy.

Happy Birthday, my dearest Theodore.  I love you to Heaven and back.

With all my heart,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not Enough Time

When Sean first heard that his grandi had gone to be with Jesus,  he cried,  “No!!  I only knew him for seven years.  That’s not enough time!”  Jer looked at him understandingly.  “I only knew him for 50 years and that’s not enough time either.”

We went to his house the other day and I wept. His slippers were by the fireplace - empty.  But I know he is walking and dancing and leaping  on streets of gold now.  His recliner chair sat empty, with some of his items on a coffee table beside it.  But he doesn't need his chair anymore because he is seated with Jesus in heavenly places and he is happy.   His clothes hung in the closet - empty.  Emptiness that is so full and so heartbreaking it takes your breath away.  But he doesn’t need clothes anymore because he is clothed with robes of righteousness, he is clothed in heavenly robes.  He walks and talks with the Master that he so fiercely loved.  And I know that he is fulfilled and he has no more pain and he has no more suffering.  But really -  as selfish as it is - I just want him here with us again.  I just want him holding Mum’s hand again.  I just want to be able to go to his house and ask him what he thinks about the refreshments on Saturday or ask him what he thinks about what kind of building we should get for the church.  Or I just want to ask him anything.  Anything at all - just one more conversation.  Because I didn’t have enough time with him. 

We admitted Dad into palliative care on the 11th, Wednesday.  I remember it well.  He was so tired; so depleted.   I looked at his room.  I knew that we were going to fill his room with pictures my son had taken of his garden for his last days.   There was another picture I was going to hang up - a picture of a cross.  Then the very next day,  Mum alerted us that if we wanted to hold another conversation with him,  that we should come because he was fading fast.  But we never got that last conversation.  We all came very quickly.  But it was too late.  He tried - he knew we were there.  He even tried at one point to sing with us.  But he was too sick.  We stayed by his bed constantly those last days.  He knew that he was loved and we knew that we were loved.  We had had many conversations with him in the last two months after the first time he almost died.  But we wanted one more conversation.   Just one more.  But let’s be honest - would one more have been enough?

 Spend time with the ones you love.  Walk with the ones that are dear to you. Set down your phones, and your ipads and your computers and your games and everything else that so easily distracts you and keeps you from listening to their heartbeat.   Carve out time in your busy schedule for them; invest and pursue and live life with intention never forgetting what is most important to you.  Because you never know when you will be breathing your last breath.  You never know when they will be breathing their last breath.   Grab the person next to you.  Hug them, link arms with them; hold their hands - hold them tightly and never let them go because those things are the only important things in this world.  Those things are the only meaning that this world gives.  The other things are shallow - they are meaningless.  Our fancy houses or our not so fancy houses - our cars- our lives here on this earth - they are nothing without those around us.  Let’s not forget that.   Our things........ none of that matters next to those people; our people; next to the ones that we walk this journey with.  Nothing. 

No matter what happens - there is never enough time.  Make memories and hold onto those moments like gold and never let them go until they are taken from you.
Because I promise you - it will be too soon that life or death will pry your fingers from the grip of the one you love. 

Life is like precious and fragile glass - you never know when it is going to break and shatter into a million pieces on the ground - never to be recovered again.  But some of us spend so much  of our lives occupying our minds with the wrong things - with the petty things; with the meaningless things.   And we waste moments and days and years - for nothing.

Don’t waste another moment,  not another beautiful second,  worrying about the future or regretting the past.  Time is far too short, it’s like a flash of lightening; a vapor.   Laugh with your family; your heart friends;  sing with them; dance with them; do silly things with them.

Because one day that moment will come when you will wish with all your mind, heart and soul,  you will wish more than anything else in the world for one more song, one more conversation, one more meal, one more day.

Because it’s never enough...

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I know all the "Sunday School" answers. (And I believe them as well.) I know God's mercy and His strength - I know that he will sustain me and I know that he is good all the time.

But mostly today,  I just feel really really sad.  And really empty - an emptiness that reaches down to my toes.

If I have learned anything in this season is that you should never go through life alone.  You should never live alone - isolated, in your own bubble,, with walls around you.  Because if you live alone, you will die alone.

When we first found out about Dad's cancer, I remember a sacred moment very well.  Dad was talking to Jeremy and he looked up at him,  eyes pleading,  "What are we going to do now?"  Jeremy took his Dad's tired hand in his and said,  "We will put one foot in front of the other, we will hold hands and make it through - step by step; just how we've weathered every other storm.  Together."
I applaud that.  Everything about Dad's life has been together - helping, strengthening, encouraging, building.  His life's passion is for others.

If you don't have someone to walk through life with - find someone.  Live your life with an open heart and outstretched hands.

The doctors say that Dad is dying.  If I am to be honest,  I don't know yet what Jesus says.  But I know what I see.  I see a man vulnerable, weak and tired - and really ready for this journey to be over - one way or the other.  But I will tell you what else I see.  I see a man who threw his whole entire life into the passions of Christ.  I see a man who knows who he is in God.  I see a man who knows his God well and knows His people very well too.

But mostly, I see a man who lived his whole life with arms outstretched, palms up - inviting one more person into his life - one more people group into his world - always building the bridge between man and God; his life's purpose.

So I don't have all the answers.  In fact, today, I don't feel I have any of the answers.  But the one thing I do know is that I don't want to live life alone.  I want to go through pain together.  I want to go through joy together.  I want to tear the walls down around me, to live my life poured out for others.  Because if I don't live alone,  I won't die alone.

I believe in community.  I believe in walking hand in hand with those around me; in sharing my tears and my deep fears.  I believe in linking arms and leaping or treading into the unknown. 

I believe in TOGETHER.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Leaving my baby behind...

Motion all around as I step into his classroom.  So much excitement - so much enthusiasm.  And I am leaving my baby behind.  All he wants to do is hug his teacher and get seated at his desk.  Expectancy pierces the air - anticipation wraps its arms around the classroom.  Smiles, squeals of delight, laughter.

I swallow the lump in my throat.  I am leaving my baby behind.  But he is not my baby anymore.  He isn't even a toddler.  He is a big boy now.  Remind me where the years have gone??? I thought it would be much easier by  now...

Hang his backpack up - say a few words to the teacher.

So many excited words are dancing in the air; worried parents are lingering behind.  He has hugged us now and runs off to meet some new friends.  He doesn't need us to stay any longer so we turn to leave.

But it is so hard to leave my baby behind...

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Am Not Ready

I feel like I am frantically running after summer, my arms flailing - screaming for it NOT to go;  pleading for it not to pass me by.  I am so not ready for it to be fall.  I am so not ready for Sean to go back to school.

I had so many hopes and plans for the summer; days of lazing in the sun; weekends away hiking up mountains and camping in tents underneath the starlit sky, nights of sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows and making up schmores.  The truth is,  I didn't do any of it.   And it was not any ONE thing or reason - it was a combination of all kinds of reasons why the summer didn't look like the one we started out with in our hearts.

In all honesty,  I am just not ready for all kinds of things that are currently happening in my life.

I am not ready to see my last child grow up.  I am not ready to see my parents aging or for my first grandchild to be so grown up;  I am certainly not ready to turn 50 in a few months.  I am so not ready.

There are so many things that I should have done by now.  There are so many things that I should have done this summer.

But I have found that it doesn't matter if I am not ready.  Time still comes and goes all too quickly.   It sizzles and dances and screeches past you and if you are not careful - if you are not really intentional with your life, you CAN miss it.  Or you can miss bits and pieces of it you wish that you hadn't. 

Days, weeks, months and even years soar by - boldly and unashamed - waiting for no one.  It's almost cruel actually.

Often I look at Sean who is seven and I have to pinch my arms and shake my head.  Where did those years go?  How did he grow up under my nose?  I remember it like it was just yesterday - holding this tiny human being in the crook of my arm - my heart so very full of gratitude.

I want to be intentional with my life.  I want to build memories and play and love life even in the pain, even in the really  hard parts of the journey,  because this day,  this moment will never be mine to live again.  It will never be mine to enjoy again.

I want to build my life - brick by brick and be proud of what I have built in the end.  I want my heart song to be that of hope and freedom and deliverance - even in the moments I feel hopeless and locked up.  Because those are the moments; those are the days I want to remember - the days I clung onto hope even when it looked bleak; the days I sang the song of triumph even when I felt my feet sinking.

I want to clear my mind of all the muckiness of negativity and worry and pain and anxiety that locks me into isolation.  I want to throw off every thought, every criticism, every insecurity that would bring  darkness to my day.  Those are all things that clutter up the mind;  make the day messy; inhibit me from capturing what I need to capture.   I want my heart clean and clear of all those things so that I can love deeply,  so that I can enjoy fully.

So,  I am not ready.  I am not ready for all of the changes going on around me but it's okay.  It's okay because I am going to put my head down and run as hard and fast and crazy as I can; I am going to run with purpose and intention and dignity.  And I am going to give this thing we call LIFE,  150%!

Ready or not...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Morning After

The morning after a large party I am always exhausted;  but it’s a good kind of exhaustion - the kind where you worked really hard and you were really successful.  So my back is stiff - my muscles are aching but my heart is full.  I have a smile on my face as I clean up the remains of a beautiful evening of sharing hearts and lives.  Potato chips still plopped in bowls and laid on the table,  strawberry creme soda with ice long melted in forgotten cups scattered around the four levels of my house,  crumpled and twisted napkins here and there, a lonely baby blanket that never found its way back to the toy box, chairs everywhere making room for more guests, more friends.

Three balloons hover shamelessly above the buffet table reminding me of a beautiful night with great friends and a lovely family.  It was a perfect evening. It was sweltering hot and the house seemed too tiny to fit the 50+ people that graced my house last night. But it was magical.  And I will tell you why.  It was magical because we shared a special evening and a special day with family and friends.   There were friends here that we get together with all the time currently and this season of our lives.  There were friends here that were in our lives deeply years ago and even though we don’t spend a lot of time together now,  even though our paths don’t cross often,  we always feel a bond when we get together with them.  We always feel a connection.  

Last night I took a moment to look around.  So many stories behind each face I see.  Some have gone through some really tough waters, cruel waves that threatened to sweep them under - all at one time or another have clung tightly to the grace of God to get them through a tough day or a tough week or tough years.  I have so much to learn from these friends - so much to gain from walking hand in hand across the bumpy terrain;  the bumpy bits of life.  How blessed I am. 
 With all the memories that we have made over the years with these beautiful souls, with all the bits of our lives that we have shared with them, last night we added one more special day - my husbands 50th birthday. 
 I love the sound of laughter in a big group of people; I love the bumping into people when our house is too crowded; the shining eyes, the sharing of hearts and ideas and opinions and dreams and fears.

I want my home to be a place of safety; a place of shelter and peace from the storms of life - always ready to accept the messy people, the broken people as well as the beautiful and the whole.   I want my home to be that place where you are safe to walk through really tough times;  you are safe to bare your soul; you are free to be that person you are even if you haven’t become that person you long to be.  I want my heart to always be open.  Never closed and hiding and waiting for life to be perfect.  I want to my heart to always be searching for that person that needs me; that person that needs hope and that person that needs grace.  I want to be the bridge that brings them across to freedom; to being whole.  I want my heart to live there - right there helping people, right there rolling up my sleeves and ready to work, ready to be involved with the good and the bad, the unlovely and the gracious. 

So today,  I don’t have a lot of money,  but my heart feels rich.  We don’t have a huge house but our lives are huge and deep and driven with precious memories and sacred times with lovely friends.  And last night was perfect.

Thank you my friends.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

It is my husbands 50 birthday today.  When he woke up I asked him how it felt to be 50 and he said that it didn't feel much differently than 49.  But I am a little bit anxious because I am coming up to my 50th birthday soon.  Fifty seem like the age where you should have it all together; where your ducks should be in a row for sure.  And I definitely still have quite a few roaming ducks who are not cooperating. I told him how I was feeling and he said,  "Well thank you for having a panic attack in my stead; feeling anxious about our age."  Because he wasn't feeling it.  He isn't anxious.  One thing I can say about Jer is that he ages gracefully.  I have seen so many things cross his path and so many obstacles come his way and he is as steady as steady can be.  He is the epitome of strength.  Not because he has felt pressured into it; not because he has felt that he didn't have permission to be weak, because I have seen those moments too.  But because he doesn't buy into the drama of life.  And what I mean by that is that he doesn't get carried away by the drama because there is always drama and certainly in our lives over the years we have seen our fair share of the difficult, painful, and very hard seasons.  But he doesn't get swept away.  He often reminds me that there is a bigger picture.  He often points me to the One who cares and who carries us.  And I can be panicked about something and completely torn apart and as soon as he walks in the room, I feel safe.  There is safety in his presence.  That's part of his authority - that safety that he will know what to do - he will know how to respond to this situation in a way that reveals grace and the bigger picture of our journey of life.

We have been through the storms of life and I am not sure what I would have done without him; without his steadfast faith in God and his overwhelming faithfulness to me and our marriage.

I always encourage women out there to wait for the man that will fulfill everything that God wants fulfilled in a marriage.  I always tell them to wait for Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now.  and it might take a little time and you might be lonely for a season but that's okay.  I read today that you can't learn how to rise above loneliness until you have truly learned the true beauty and worth of enjoying the alone times.
This is true and the reward for finding that soul mate, that person who will roll up his sleeves and walk every part of the journey with you is incredible. The reward is so worth it in every important way.

I applaud my husband today for being the man he is; for standing up for the passions in his heart; for being the steadfast strength that he is - not just to me but to so many; for being the example of what a husband, what a father, what a pastor, what a man should be.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child oh so many years ago.  I was in the hospital a month before he was due because I was very ill with toxemia.  I had just found out from a nurse that I would probably have to have a c-section.  I was terrified.  I was alone when she told me and then she left.  She was gone and I was shaking and crying; not knowing what the future held or if my baby was truly ok or not.  I was beside myself.  I felt that I couldn't go through the next phase of life; I couldn't possibly do it and I knew that somehow the baby had to come out.  The nurse gave me a phone to locate my husband and I remember within minutes  he was running to my room with his guitar in his hands.   The minute that he walked through that door,  the minute I saw his face and his bright red curly hair,  my world was all right.  In that very moment,  I knew that I could do it.  I knew that with him by my side,  I could do it because he would be with me and he would make sure everything was just as it should be.  He sat by my bed, took out the guitar and sang to me until the nurses kicked him out long after visiting hours were over.

  When he left,  my roommates had tears in their eyes and they  mentioned how lovely, how peaceful his singing was and how fortunate I was to have married such a wonderful man.  But I already knew that.  I really did and 30 years later, I still do.

Happy Birthday, Jeremy!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Orange Elephants

The other day Dylan, my older son was talking to Sean, my seven year old son about the use of word association to remember important things.  In trying to explain it,  he said, " I was having this same conversation with Mom the other day.  Do you remember that Mom?"  He directed the question to me.

I looked at him blankly.  No,  I didn't remember at all.  In fact I had no idea what he was talking about.  He got a little frustrated.  " Don't you remember? You HAVE to remember!  We had a whole conversation about it and you were sitting on the couch and I was sitting on the chair."   No.  I didn't remember at all.  I was pretty sure that it was someone else he had been talking to and it was HIM who had forgotten.  

Then that night I was laying in bed and suddenly it hit me.  But not everything.  Only a little smidgen of the conversation and it being about word association to help aid your memory.  I laid there for the longest time trying to remember the full conversation but couldn't.  It just wouldn't surface in my mind.  It was as if it was right there, but just got caught in amidst all the other thoughts jumbled in my head.

The next day when I saw Dylan,  I exclaimed,  " Dylan I DO remember the conversation.  Part of it.  It was a color.  I think it was blue.  Something to do with blue monkeys maybe???"

Dylan shook his head and chuckled, " No,  it wasn't blue monkeys.  It was orange elephants!"  

Suddenly it clicked!!  It was!! It was orange elephants.  When I thought of orange elephants it was supposed to make me remember what I was supposed to remember!! 

" But what was I supposed to remember when I thought of orange elephants?" I asked Dylan.

" I have no idea" he said, " that was for YOUR memory; YOUR word association, not mine."

So now, I am wandering around, wracking my brain, trying to remember what orange elephants was supposed to be helping me remember.  And I think it was mildly important.

Did I invite someone over?
Was it someone's name?
Was it to remember a password?
Was it to remember an invitation?
More importantly,  did I already miss it or forget it or misplace it?

All I have running around in my brain is orange elephants and nothing else - it's blank, completely totally a blank.   And it is honestly driving me wildly crazy.

I may be wrong but, I think that the word association trick is not a good fit for me.  Haha. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tears are a language...

When I was really young,  about 7 years old,  I was at a school picnic.  The day was beautiful and everything seemed so happy around me and the air was clean and fresh and the weather was pristine  and then suddenly the day turned on me.    My “friend” decided to not be my friend anymore.  To this day,  I don’t know why except that at that age,  girls and kids in general can be really cruel and mean and this was that type of day.  She just announced that she wasn’t going to be my friend anymore and then my other friend decided that she would “follow” her instead of me because everyone has to pick sides you know at that age.  And then suddenly the innocent, fun game of running around on the grass,  pulling bits of grass and throwing it at each other got really mean and they started  throwing it in my hair and trying to pull my hair at the same time, or throwing it down my shirt and humiliating me.  It was one of those nightmare days that a 7 year old remembers for the rest of her life - or at least until she is my age.  I felt so utterly alone and depleted.  I felt like an outcast; like life would never again be the same for me. 

Hurt and raw and so full of sadness for the day,  I trudged home wearily,  feeling totally defeated.  The day wasn’t beautiful anymore.  In fact,  it was cruel.     I cried,  hot tears welling up inside of me and spilling down my cheeks.  I talked to God and sobbed some more.

 Suddenly, in the midst of the sobs came a song.   A song my Mom and sister used to sing as we traveled to churches.   It was called “Tears are a language God understands”.    More tears came; more sobbing  but this time,  because I knew in the very core of my being that Jesus understood.  He understood my tears,  he saved them in a bottle because he cared that much for me.  He understood rejection.  He understood the cares and pains of the world and ugliness and the meanness and the stabbing hurt that people inflict on others and he just calmed my spirit right then.  Right there,  I knew that it was going to be ok.  Because I had a God walking beside me - sort of like a big brother and that if he cared for me, if he loved me,  if he died for me,  it would be ok.  I could go through life rejected and scorned and unloved because he didn’t reject me.  He didn’t scorn me and he definitely loved me enough to die for me.

And today,  again,  I found myself crying.   I didn’t even know what to say to Jesus.  So much to be said but not enough words to articulate it.  Not enough ways to describe what my spirit is going through at times.  I just cried and in a little spot of my spirit,  I said a tiny prayer - not even audibly I don’t think.  “Help” is all I said.  And then I remembered again that beautiful little, powerful song that I remembered when I was little.  Tears are a language that  He understands.  So true. 

Maybe we don’t have the words to voice what is going on.  Maybe the pain is too deep, too raw even to put into words,  even to face that it is happening in your life right now.  Maybe it seems too hopeless and you seem utterly helpless in your situation.  Maybe,  just maybe you see no way out - you are stuck in a really sad corner of your world with no solution, or your loved one is,  and you just don’t know what to do.  I want to tell you that Jesus understands your pain.  He understands the deepest parts of your heart.  He understands everything about you and he understands what will get you unstuck and what will rescue you and what will bring that joy back in your life.

  I don’t mean the “hahaha” laughter,  I don’t mean the fleeting happiness - I mean the real, tangible gut filling joy even in the midst of really really hard moments in your life.  They are there.  I have felt them myself and even today reached up to grab it for my own spirit.

If He is there,  if He understands,   if He is walking beside me and behind me and ahead of me - I am ok.  I really am ok.

 And so will you be.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Peace is:

Finding the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary; the quirky in the midst of the mundane.

           Holding each beautiful, tender moment like flakes of gold in tired, weathered hands.

                      Seeing and experiencing and loving the beauty in the midst of a valley.

       Truly grasping and walking and living your day and your moments Through Eyes of Faith.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Heart Friends

 Heart friends.  That's what I call them.  You know - those are the kind of friends that are easily connected to your heart.  I have a few of them.  I have a few of them here and a few of them scattered across the globe.

Yesterday was spent with friends that were not from around here; two of which we hadn't seen in years.  To say that it was a treat would be an understatement of the year.  It was not only touching,  it was epic to see them; to spend time with them again.  Sitting around the table,  eating meat and cheese with soft white buns, and bright red strawberries with fresh homemade whipping cream,  we realized that we had been friends for 3 decades.    We hadn't talked in years,  but it was as if we hadn't left each other; like we had just taken a long breath in order to start talking and sharing again.  It was that magical.

We have created a thousand memories together,  laughed until our bellies ached and cried buckets of tears.

Friendship is something money can't buy.  It's something that you have to give yourself to - your heart, your journey.  You have to be vulnerable - even raw at times.  That's what we have shared with these guys.  We have gone through moves, and babies, and deaths and weddings, and prodigals and everything in between,  together. 

Time is a beautiful thing for some friendships.  Time tries and tests and weighs - how important;  how deep you dug that well of friendship. and for these friendships, time proved that we dug the well deep.  Rich, filled with power, redeeming, satisfying, loving, friendship.

How I love these people and how I love God for bringing them into our lives 30 years ago.   Yesterday,  I needed them so desperately.

When my oldest son heard that all six of us were getting together he said,  "You know, Mom,  things could get really silly."  He remembered the laughter until the wee hours of the morning.  We've talked about crazy things - silly inside jokes that make ONLY US laugh.  We've talked about deep things - like faith and doubt, beauty and sorrow, lovely things and ugly things.  We've shared meals, and vacations, and plays and missions trips and dinners and dozens of cheesecakes and saved the world a million times through our plans and thoughts.  The list goes on and on.

This is what life is all about.  Finding people who will become the words to the heart song you choose to sing; finding your people - your friends - who walk with you through the confusion, through the beauty, through the gross darkness and through the streams of light.

Time and distance has never separated our hearts, our lives from intertwining.

I was disappointed when I saw that this poignant picture was blurry.  And then I realized how significant that was to our lives.  Through the mess, through the clouds, and the haziness and vast valleys; through the blurriness that the journey brings to us sometimes,  we link arms, we hold hands - because we can - because we are heart friends.  Imperfect but vastly beautiful all the same. 

Thank you, my friends.  


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Healing Tears

The other day when I walked out of Walmart I was literally struck with a sky that took my breath away.

I love beautiful skies.  They move me.  They get me right in the heart.  But this one was different on so many levels.  I NEEDED what I saw.

I snapped a couple of pictures with my iphone and then heart racing (yes, thats what sky pictures do to me) rushed my van to another parking lot to see if I could see it better.  As I stepped out of the van, to my amazement the entire sky was spectacular.  What I had set out to look at was beautiful enough with its hues of soft fuzzy pinks and blues - sort of like a baby shower or a soft baby blanket.  But as I turned around I actually gasped.  There were clouds that looked like they were exploding with fire.  There were rays streaming from all different directions in the sky and other clouds that looked like the tips had been dipped in exquisite gold.  It was fantastic.  It was  as if the sky was literally alive.

I stood not even knowing which way to look.  I stared,  awestruck.  It felt sacred to me.  In the very deepest part of my soul,  I knew I was having a moment with God.  Heaven touched me.  God breathed life into me.  He took my tender heart and held it in His vast and strong hand.

And right there in the parking lot of the liquor store  at Superstore,  with cars whizzing past me and people milling around,  I wept.  I wept and I wept and I wept.  Healing tears- like smooth ointment on a newly cut wound; or water on a really really scorching hot day.   It was as if a dam had broken within my belly and I couldn’t hold the tears in any more.  I was so deeply moved and so deeply touched that even now,  I feel it.   All of the pain and the stress and the worry and grief and the questions flowed out of me.   With tears streaming down my face,  I was completely, absolutely overcome with gratitude -  for my family; for my heart friends, for love,  for so many things in my life.

But mainly I wept because the God who made those clouds and made that sky and made the whole beautiful earth is my friend.  I felt like He had painted the sky just for me that night,  that moment in time.

Healing in my heart, refreshed in my spirit,  after a long pause,  I went home a stronger woman. 

Monday, July 22, 2013


Everywhere I look I see cancer.  I see cancer in the sky, in the air, in the sun.  Every moment fills my mind with all the hurt and pain of what I see my father in law going through right now.  I try to look ahead.  I try to think of something to say other than subjects with death and dying and cancer, and life, and deep subjects and I can’t.  I try to write about peaceful things, ordinary moments and all my words seem hollow. 

I go to Walmart and people are laughing and skipping and talking and loving the life they are in and I wonder how they could.  I wonder how anyone could go on with life in that way.  I wonder why the world hasn’t stopped.  Because mine has.  I wonder why everyone is walking faster than I am.  I wonder why life is going on without me. 

Cancer is vile and ugly and mean.   There is nothing about it that is remotely ok. 

And then I read Ps. 46:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though it’s waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress...
He says, “Be still and know that I am God...”

  And I realize that Jesus is enough.

  He is enough to get me through my day.

  He is enough to get me through my moment. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Not Too Late

My life is literally like a roller coaster these days.  It’s amazing how many emotions one can feel in a day,  in an hour, in a moment.  Writing is what I do when my soul is disturbed; when my heart is hurting.   It soothes me.  It takes all the jumbled mixed up pieces of my mind; my heart; all the worries, all the cares and concerns,  all the pain and packages it up in one big piece of writing.  So that I can be free - for a little while longer. 

This morning,  I was crying out  to God  as I often do these days, and I just sobbed,  “You’re too late.  He is so sick.  He is so very sick and weak.  If you had only touched him .”  Suddenly my mind was brought to a little town called Bethany, to the tomb of Lazarus and to Mary and Martha’s very soul.   They told Jesus to come.  They were personal friends with Him.  They loved him.   They told Him to come and he didn’t.  How disheartened they must have been.  But not only disheartened,  betrayed, alone,  abandoned by the one friend they knew could help.    Their ache must have reached to the sky.  He had just wasted 4 days getting there to help.  He did - you can read it in your Bible.  Yeah,  he healed the sick and preached and all that he did in a day - but this was his friend.  They were his friends and he let them down. 

Imagine Mary and Martha’s disappointment and anger when they saw him walking down the road a few days too late.   I don’t think they were excited to see him.  I think that they were just filled with grief and torment and yes,  a little bit of anger. Jesus could have made a difference.  Jesus could have touched him.  Jesus could have spoken the word and he would have been walking and talking and eating and laughing.  But he chose not to. 

But there was something that Jesus knew that they didn’t.  Lazarus was in the grave,  but it was NOT too late.  You see for Jesus to heal him before he was buried wasn’t any harder than for Jesus to heal him afterwards.  Really made no difference at all. 

Suddenly I was struck with the words,  “It’s not too late.”  And it’s not.   It’s not over til it’s over and EVEN THEN it’s not over.    I know that my husband and my son and I were talking (and I believe that the rest of the family would agree) that if Dad dies,  we will pray that God raises him from the dead,  that day and three days after.  Because Dad has never been very predictable and neither is God, so that’s a good combination for something crazy and unexpected.   

If I am to be honest,  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I so desperately want Dad to live and have a quality of life and have more years and write more books.   I am selfish,   I want him for 20 more years.   But I am constantly balancing that with what I have seen and the reality is that I have seen many die before their time so you will often hear me say,  “Lord,  I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  Because that’s real,  friends.  That’s real.  With all my heart,  I believe,  but for every smattering of faith I have,  I have a million little smatterings of unbelief.  Not ever unbelief that he is ABLE,  but unbelief that he WILL.    And that’s ok,  because there was a beautiful man in the Bible that said those words and Jesus stretched out his Hand anyways,  through unbelief and belief alike,  through pain and tears and through disappointment and hope deferred and he healed. 

But in all the unbelief and the belief, in all the questions unanswered;  all the confusion that sometimes, crowds my mind, with shaking knees and quivering hands I once again reach for that sword because  there is one thing I do know,  I KNOW...


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dare to Beleive

Lately I have been walking around in a bubble.  We all know what that feels like.  Disbelief, anger, and grief.  So much grief.

When the doctor comes to you with a bad report, a really nasty one,  it’s like someone has cut off your arms and legs and left you to die.  Not only do you feel so helpless, you are literally OVERCOME with hopelessness; like an elephant is sitting on your chest.

Last night as I was laying in bed,  I was remembering lives that have gone on before.  Lives cut way too short from cancer, meningitis, strokes.  My best friend, my good friend, my friends parents, and the list goes on.   I began to feel overtaken with grief and weariness.  Weary to the bone. 

 Suddenly out of nowhere I remembered something.

Many years ago, before we had Sean we wanted one last child.  I had 4 miscarriages.  When I had the last miscarriage,  the doctor sat us down and told us that my body could handle as many miscarriages as we had.  That it wasn’t hard on my body.  But he said that we needed to make a decision as to how many our heart could handle.  We understood that and we decided that our heart couldn’t handle another loss.  It was just too hard.

Two years later found us in England ministering to Churches.  I began to suspect that I was pregnant.  To say that I was terrified can’t even begin to describe what my heart and emotions were going through.  All I could think of is what it would be like to miscarry in another country I wasn’t familiar with. Away from my friends.  Away from my family and my doctor.  I began to wonder if I was going to miscarry while I was speaking in a church or in the middle of the night.  Was this one going to be worse and complicated and could it be life threatening?  Was I even safe?    I couldn’t do anything; be anywhere without that gnawing fear in the back of my mind.  When was it going to happen??  How was it going to happen?  Why here,  Lord?  Why now? I had given up by dream.  I had let it go.  Wasn’t that enough?  It seemed cruel to me; the timing, the situation, everything.  

Then one day I was laying in bed and the Lord spoke to me.  Clearly.  Not in an audible voice but in my spirit.  He said,  “Dare to believe.  Dare to believe that your dreams of having another child will be fulfilled.  Dare to believe that THIS time will be different. Dare to Believe that you will carry this one to full term. ”   I couldn’t shake the words.  It shocked me.  I am sorry to say that I hadn’t even thought of that as an option.  

Immediately I grabbed ahold of those words and I clung to them.  They were in fact life to me.  Dare to Believe. 

And in the end I held a beautiful boy in my arms.  But I had to take it one second, one minute, one day at a time. I gathered around  me encouragers and supporters so that they could spur me on if I got stuck. 

So today I choose to DARE to believe that this time cancer will be different.  Today I choose to believe that God will raise my father in law up from his bed of sickness. 

To dare is risky.  To dare is scary; it’s like laying your heart down on a bed of rocks - bare and vulnerable.  But today I raise the sword and I DARE to believe. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Everything is not ok

There are seasons in the journey of life where everything is not ok.  I am not talking about the bad days where everything seems to be going wrong.  Your car doesn't start, your dog runs away or you get into a fight with your best friend.  I am talking about those stretches in your life where your heart hurts - where the hurt reaches to your toes.

You go through life because you have to.  You put one foot in front of the other simply because you are not dead - at least your physical body isn't.  You smile with your lips but your heart is crying.  You act ( to strangers) like everything is ok.  But everything is just not ok.

Things move and swirl and dance around you - but you're in a bubble.  You're not in that world anymore.  Things look different, dull and lifeless.  Forever different.  And you are not ok.

And then out of nowhere, for seemingly no reason, comes a moment - a tiny moment - where things are ok.   Not wonderful or beautiful or even happy - but ok.  And somewhere deep in your soul is that glimmer of hope that there will indeed be other tiny moments where you are ok.

This was that moment for me.