Saturday, November 2, 2013

Her Little Pink Question

"Mommy, why is October pink month?" asks my ever curious 5 year old. She's glancing back at the grocery stand covered in pink ribbon products. I wonder how I would have answered her question had things been different.

What would I have said if my forever friend had never called with cracking voice, "I found a lump..."  

The flashbacks come quick bringing a pit in my stomach and chills across my face. 

I'm in her guest bedroom, writing a letter of hope begging God she'll open it years and years and years from now, only to remember. I'm throwing my phone in the grass, her husband's news of a double mastectomy and months of chemo pounding in my head. I'm on a couch across from her mom who through tears is steadfastly thanking our Lord for this trial, while the rest of us sob and ask that His mercy would come quick and save. I'm pushing a stroller next to her. Leaves crunch under our feet and we watch our children run ahead laughing. She wears the first hat out of necessity. It covers the clumps that began to fall that morning. And some days there are no words. And all you can do is pray through your eyes.

There are many images and they are different every time I stop and think pink. I don't have her full pinked perspective. But when you've lived even just a bit of pink you don't have an average answer when your five your old asks, "What's with all the pink?"

Before, I may have said, "I'll explain it when you're older, honey. Now grab your granola bars. Let's keep moving." 

Do I wish that were the case? That it had all never happened. Not for a heartbeat. And here in Safeway, two years later I'm thankful she stops me in my tracks. I'm thankful her little pink question interrupts my thoughts of what's next on the list, because I have been given a much better answer.

"Do you remember when Aunt Kara was sick and had to take that yucky medicine?"

"Kind of."

"And do you remember how we prayed that God would help her get better?"


"Well, this is the month when we remember that God always hears our prayers. That He healed her, and we pray for anyone else who might be sick like Aunt Kara was."

The 3 year old blonde interrupts from the cart. "Yeah, cause God loves us!"

And with those words I see my friend, not like she was before the cancer, not like she was during the cancer, but how she is now. Her smile a little brighter.  Her steps more purposeful. Her heart overflowing in compassion more than ever before. And I know it deep again. The sweet blonde is right. God does love us.


The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Restart Button

I have a couple of girlfriends who I call on days that are rough. I hope you do too. We all need these friends, because we all have these days. You know the days I speak of. Days where the house is filled with grumbling and complaining or worse, screaming and crying, and that's just my behavior, not to mention the kids' nonsense. It's sometimes as early as 9:00 am when I know I need to call for help.

On one such day, I called and complained that I just needed a pause button. One that would give me a break, for just a few seconds.  A button that would briefly stop the madness. The world's madness, the children's madness, MY madness. Or better yet, a rewind button!  I could go back to point where it all fell apart, make a better choice and ultimately change the outcome.  She said something I've come back to time and time again. 

"Yeah, I don't think we get those buttons, but I do think Jesus gives us a restart button."

A restart button

Oh friends, I can't remember or begin to tell you how many times I've had to apologize, and ask for a restart, to my children, my husband, my friends, and most of all my God.

I'm not sure what humbles me most, the endless times He allows me to restart... not seven times but seventy-seven times. Or the length he went to purchase my many restarts... even death on a cross.  Perhaps it's the Spring flowers, or the new growth on the trees, but something keeps reminding me that when Jesus walked out of that tomb, God pressed the ultimate restart button.

I should probably end there. Enough said, right? 

But, I haven't said much here lately and I feel the need to explain.  I hit pause on this whole blog/ writing journey. It was a time in my life when I needed to be writing His words and not my own. I mean this literally. For at least 15 minutes a day I became a monk. I would diligently re-write some exact words from the Bible with the hope that as I impressed them time and time again on paper, they would also etch their way into my heart. Extreme? Maybe. Helpful? Most definitely.

I even pressed pause on Facebook for a while. I tried to take my hands away from my phone, and put them back into the pile of laundry that needed to be folded, or onto the family card game that needed to be played. My eyes were on the faces in front of me, instead of the ones that were miles and years away. Sure, I missed announcements of engagements, newborn babies, who worked out, and what's for dinner. But, the minute I logged back on, I missed the calm that came from unplugging.

While all of these were wise decisions, I still felt a nudge to keep listening, keep thinking, and most of all keep writing.

So I sit here in the dark of night, searching this bright screen for the, "restart button." Hoping that anyone reading won't mind giving me the same grace my Heavenly Father offers me time and time again. I don't always accept it as soon as I should, but the alternative is to allow rot and decay to set in. So for this moment, I'm choosing a new creation, a clean slate. I'm choosing to start again... Knowing full well that I may need to make this choice again in the next 10 seconds... Thanking my Savior that I can, because of all He did.


And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 
~Philippians 2:8 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 1:9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here! 

~2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, April 15, 2013


I've been feeling lonely. I'm not going to write a long sob story about this, because I truly am surrounded by people who love me. More so, I am going to make the choice not to let this emotion lead me down the spiral of self pity.

However, this  morning  I could not live in denial either.  As I was blow drying my hair, I let my emotions come to the surface.  My eyes turned weepy and in my rarely quiet house I told God the truth. It sounded something like this. (Think whiny voice in my head.)

"I am lonely, I just want a little encouragement from someone. I know I need to stop looking for it from other people, but I really just want some one to cheer me on, tell me I'm doing a good job..."

When my curly locks were finally somewhat tamed. I sat to write my memory verses. I opened my bible app, and before I could navigate my way to Philippians, these "verses of the day" caught my eye.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
~Hebrews 12:1, 2

His display of amazing love for me came on that lonely cross He endured two thousand some years ago, but He also showed it today in a brief moment where He encouraged me with His word when I least expected it. How sweet is the grace of my God. The maker of the universe is also my friend who has designed time to give me words of encouragement when I need it most.

Feeling lonely? Tell our maker. He longs to bless us, whether we are expecting it or not.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Where does my soul stop?

Her soul apparently stops at white cabinets. She's shopping for her first home with her fiancé on cable television and she says her dislike for white cabinets goes to the depth of her soul.

I scoff and make an immediate judgement. It's wrong of me and unfair to her. I've said many comments that were dumber than this. Still, I can't let it go. As I watch her explore and then choose between the three large houses that her generous budget can buy her, I see she means it. Girl really does not like white cabinets.

"To the depth of her soul."

After today for just a quick moment, I wish my soul stopped at cabinets. Truth be told, my soul is hurting deeply for the woman who was just told she has 3 different types of cancer in her chest.

My soul longs for the chance, the strength, and the grace to hold his hand once more as his time here narrows. To be physically close enough to yell in his deafened ears, "I love you, Papa." To hear his patented response, "Same to you."  Just once more.

My soul is discouraged when I watch her struggle with the anger, the pride, and the stubbornness she unfairly inherited from me, from Eve. Her voice is loud and argues truth;  "I know I need to do the right thing. It's just hard!"

It is hard. This life, this world, this struggle.  She's 4, but she's right. "It's just hard!"

No, my soul does not stop at cabinets. Surely I would feel less pain if it did.  Instead, the layers of my soul have been pierced, and He continues to dig deeper. It is a painful unearthing. He tills and I am like the red Alabama clay I was born on. Difficult, but not impossible.

Why I ask Him?  Why must it be so deep?

The answer is odd, but clear. Seeds don't grow on cabinets.

"Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." ~Matthew 13:8

The cancer, the dying, the sin, all of it breaks through to the muddy layer of my soul. It's a layer watered by my tears, cold and messy but now soft and ready. Ready to nurture seeds. Seeds that will sprout compassion, comfort, and character. Seeds that by His grace will one day produce a crop.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Searching for ~ Part 2

If I write anything, it's because my family is asleep. For example, my children are currently tucked in their beds and my husband has been asleep on the couch for an hour now.  Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives just wasn't captivating enough to keep his weary eyelids open.  However, my mouth is watering for those Thai chicken wings Guy is chomping.

I wrote about the great key loss and my frantic search, on my iPhone from my bed with my beloved snoring beside me. As a story will do to its writer, it changed me first. I was ready to wake up early and begin searching for my Jesus. I planned to get up 30 minutes earlier than usual. I would shower and grab my coffee and Bible long before the children were calling from their beds.

I nudged my man, and told him my plan. I was setting my alarm, but if I wasn't up when he got up, then he needed to wake me. He chuckled and said with sarcasm, "OK, sure." Before, I would have been bummed at his unbelief in me. But this time I was confident I didn't need his help. After reflecting on my frantic search, I knew I would prove my doubting husband wrong. He would wake to find me sitting in the sun room, coffee in hand, scouring my Bible for my Jesus.

I knew just what I wanted to find. The parable of the the woman tossing her house upside down for a lost coin. It was a coin right? I couldn't remember the exact details, but I would discover them in the morning.

The only thing I've forgotten to mention is that I'm not a morning girl.  Unless there's a beach and a sun rising over it, I'm in my bed until the last possible second.  So when the alarm went off half an hour early, I did what I was highly motivated to do.  I pressed snooze. When my phone chimed 9 minutes later, my husband nudged me and mumbled, "You wanted to get up." I quickly thanked him for helping me said, "I lied, let me sleep." He laughed, and I slept.

I finally made my way to the coffee pot an hour after I'd sent my love off to work, and finished eating breakfast with my children. I tried not to be too hard on myself. I remembered His grace abounds, and I should offer it to myself. The smell of  that precious black liquid woke me from my sleepy fog, and I realized my longing was still there. I still wanted to search for my Jesus.  I quickly jumped to plan B.

"PBS kids, anyone?" Of course they both agreed.  Within minutes I was in the sun room with my coffee and my Bible. I was ready to search while listening to the sweet sounds of Curious George.  Unlike yesterday I was not giving up on my search. I was eager to relate my experience to that parable Jesus spoke so many years ago.

I looked in the first gospel of Matthew. No parable of a lost coin. The search continued to Mark. I checked all the subtitles. Again, no parable of a lost coin. I was really hoping I hadn't imagined its existence, when I finally found it in Luke.

"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." ~Luke 15:8-10

His red words stared at me. He is not the lost key. He is not the lost coin. Jesus is God. He is never lost.

I am. I am the lost one.

He came looking for me, He tore through the house, and motivated by love He did the unthinkable.

For me; the sinner, the girl who can't wake up early, but does think she can control her life.

His words humbled me, and I had found my Jesus again.

The Jesus who had found me, rejoiced over me, and reminded me again to repent of my self reliance, and rest in His grace.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Frantic Search ~ Part One

All day I reminded myself I would leave at 4:00. We stayed at my in-laws for naps, so we would only be 15 minutes away from the dance studio. The girls' class starts at 4:30, and I teach a ballet class in the room next door at 5:00. My sleeping beauties were awake by 3:30, dressed in their pretty pink leotards and tights, and after the usual squirming, their soft curls were pulled into sweet ponytails. 

I even remembered to grab some fall clothes that had been stashed away in a closet there. I tossed them in the back of that mini van so proud I was not only on time, but also remembering things on my mental checklist!

I summoned those girls. Had my sweet ballerina's buckled in their seats and went to grab the keys. 

Keys, where are the keys? 

Come on, I don't have time for this. Where are you keys? 

A very loud silence came when I shook my messy purse. The absence of that saving jingle, was like a tornado siren. The storm is coming... Take cover, Mama's gonna blow!

I'd love to report that I remained calm. That I remembered the verses given to me that morning, Come to me and rest, Do everything without complaining or arguing, but once I had finished digging through my dance bag, the lunch cooler, and the girls' dance bags, my huffing and puffing began.

"Mommy, I need to go potty," my 2 year old whines. 
"Can you hold it? You have to hold it. Until we get to the dance studio. Stay buckled!"

I ran back into my in-laws, hollered to my father in-law that I was back and looking for my keys. I briskly started the retrace your steps act, which is always so demeaning. They were no where. 

"What is this day?" The complaint came quick and easy.

The clock on the oven read 4:20. Ugh, I'm done. I ran back to the car scanning the grass in case I had somehow dropped them. My children are now screaming, "Your phone's ringing!" Like that's of importance? 

I see it's Miss Charlene, their dance teacher, my amazing colleague and sweet friend. I'm listening to her message warning me about traffic on the way to the studio, she's hoping I'm there already, but no I am not.  I knew then I had to do the unthinkable. 

Dump my purse. 

There's a really good reason my husband calls my purse a trash can. Even my two year old gasped when she saw the litter of coins, receipts and crumby Ziploc bags falling from my "looks really cute on the outside" purse. 

No keys.  Just a mess. A really big mess to scoop off of the floorboard. I scoop, and tell myself, "Don't cry, there are worse things," but in this moment I can think of nothing else but melting into a puddle of tears. 

There is a shred of perseverance left in me, and I don't! I unbuckle the very intelligent 4 year old and tell her to look under all the seats, search everywhere for Mommy's keys. I am texting, "Sorry we will be late," to Miss Charlene as I run back inside. My dutiful father in-law has a flashlight in hand looking under beds and behind trashcans, but still nothing.

I call my husband, explain how I am doomed. The girls will have to miss their class. I will borrow his Dad's truck, and no I'm not sure how I'll get home tonight?!

It's 4:39.  My class of 12 young ballerinas starts at 5:00. I break the news to the girls that they will have to miss dance class, and try to tune out their cries of disappointment. Instead I am listening and officially agreeing with the voice in my head telling me, "You are a horrible, unorganized mom." 

I have no other option. I GIVE UP! I unbuckle the now screaming two year old. And there, under her bottom draped in pink chiffon,  in the raisin stained crack of her car seat are my keys.

I am out of breath from reliving this as I type. What's the take away? I can't decide?

1. Listen to your children. If I'd let her go potty I would have found them 20 minutes sooner. Ah yes, but she is also the one who wants to eat chips for breakfast, and dips her PBJ in ketchup.  So no, I don't think listening to her is wise.

2. I know, Give up sooner! Stop trying to make it all happen. Just give up. As soon as you do, the key is revealed. Ha! How about that pun? No, too cheesy.


3. Look for something different.  

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  ~Jeremiah 29:13 

I seriously looked like a madwoman for those keys. In my mind, everything depended on the outcome of my search. My career, my motherhood, and most of all my pride.  Finding the keys would be my saving grace.

Hmm, Saving Grace...

How often do I seek His face this way? When was the last time I was out of breath from tearing through the pages of my Bible? When was the last time I did the unthinkable and dumped the dirty contents of my heart in an effort to find Him? 

Somehow the ways of this world lull me into a soft leather seat, inside a gray minivan. A parked minivan, that is going nowhere. 

Quick!  Everyone, out of the car. We have to find Mommy's Jesus!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Treating Myself

Lately I've been treating myself to a break. Not a vacation, not a lapse from responsibility, just a break from trying to capture every moment, emotion or good thought in the most perfect words. Hence why I haven't posted in a while.

Instead, I have been trying to live in the moments granted me and enjoy them. I've tried to resist the urge to manufacture them or over analyze each one.

This is no easy task for me. I am often moving too fast. My brain is a lot like the energizer bunny. It just keeps going and going and going, until my husband rolls over and says, "turn it off." It's often in overdrive trying to find, understand, or create meaning for whatever the day brings.

The funny thing is that after years of over thinking...I'm learning it gets me nowhere. Actually, that's not true. It usually puts me behind, in a place where I've missed my chance to enjoy, experience and give thanks. Thanks for the child wearing on my patience or the shelter I'm trying to keep clean or the mere breath I am breathing.

A few thoughts that have spurred me on to treat myself:

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it. ~Isaiah 30:15

"Sometimes attentiveness may feel like letting go — more like being
captured by the grace of the moment than trying to capture the grace
of the moment." Ann Voskampf

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living. ~Psalm 27:13

In my attempts to rest, I have not gone to a spa or on a shopping spree. I've just been trying to taste the goodness of the Lord.

I've opened the blinds and watched the sunrise from my bed over the field of green behind our new house. I told myself it was OK to relax and spend another minute snuggled under the covers in the morning light. The soaked pull ups needing to be removed, and the growling tummies wanting to be fed can actually wait one minute. I don't think God minds if I linger in my room another minute in order to let my heart whisper its thanks to Him.

I've also enjoyed more time at night with my hubby. Instead of busying myself by adding more pins to the boards I'll never get around to, I've just sat with him and watched The Voice. Man can those people sing!

I've even said, "Yeah, why not?" when my girls ask to walk to the park even though the set in stone nap time is quickly approaching. And don't tell, but I even let them play 20 minutes longer in their new backyard before calling them in for bed. I'll admit this is in part because it gives me another chance to whisper thanks as the sun
sets through the trees, but I also don't want to stop my girls' living either.

Tasting these new little treats I've been allowing myself, I've realized two things.

1. They aren't really new. They have always been available to me, but my striving, my haste, and my self imposed structure or let's face it my need to control things have been robbing me of real living.

2. They are moments that are good and perfect. They come from God alone. And the most astonishing part of all... He loves me enough to grant them, each new morning, each hour of quiet after the little ones are fast asleep, each sunset. No matter how I choose to spend them, self absorbed or humbled and thankful, He keeps giving them. Each one a treat. Each one GRACE.