Monday, December 17, 2012

Marriage in the Ordinary

I've had every intention of writing Advent related posts this month. I have some great ideas in my head and they want to get out, but they will have to wait. 

This topic instead is forefront in my mind...

A friend from college is getting divorced. 

He stated that he and his wife are "choosing to end their marriage."

Choosing to end their marriage.

I couldn't figure it out for a few days. 
What was gnawing at me about his words. 
They are, after all, commonplace enough in our culture.

But still...choosing to end their marriage?

That sounds like a one and done kind of decision when we speak like that, doesn't it? And that - well - that just seemed highly improbable to me.

Then the ton of bricks hit.

Every day with every decision, seemingly small or large, I choose to nourish my marriage or help it wither.

When I choose to be selfless, I bring life to my marriage.

When I notice the mundane gestures, I feed my marriage.

When I say thank you, and hold my tongue. 
When I remember to kiss him goodbye or goodnight. 
When I stop to look him in the eye 
or watch a Nova documentary, I am choosing to keep my marriage alive.
When I take time to fix my hair and make-up for the date I've planned for us, I nurture my marriage.

I don't wake up one day and decide to end my marriage. 
That decision is made little choice by little choice over days, weeks, months, years. 

Choosing to end a marriage is a cumulative destination from our behavior in the everyday, messy, ordinary, unglamorous, gotta-get-done days. 

I need to be reminded that everything I do matters. 
That every little action has the potential to build momentum in my marriage toward a particular direction.

What am I doing today to nourish my marriage?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Year

One year.

The time that has passed since beginning this blog.

I did it for me.

And told about 4 people...literally.

I have linked a few comments on other blogs to this site but that's it.

It's a place that is secret yet open to anyone who might find it.

A place where I can write and process and remember.

A place I still feel unprepared to acknowledge publicly.

A place I hold close to my chest.

Is that weird?

I am unsure, but I think I like it this way.

At least for now as much as it is in my control.

One year. 

Of keeping an on-line journal (albeit sporadic at best).

Of having an outlet to express, create, speak.

To have a voice but to know it's quiet.

One year.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coughs in Hotel Rooms

I cradled her close. 
She was exhausted, half-asleep but compromised by a persistent cough. 
Our family of 5 was sharing a single hotel room. We all needed our rest. 
So, I did what any parent would do that loves their sick child (and wants the others to stay asleep). 
I cradled her close,
lay down on her mattress, 
rubbed some menthol on her chest, 
and cuddled her close.
As she coughed and moved restlessly, I just held her closer. 
And I prayed. 
There has to be some special faith in an exhausted parent's prayer. 

And as I remember that act, I think of God. 
How He must love to cuddle us close when we are sick; 
the soul kind, the heart kind, the body kind. 
Giving what He has to offer, which is out of HIs abundance, 
as opposed to my limited "whatever-kid-medicine-I-packed" supply. 
And God, well, He never tires. 
He holds us fully aware, not half-asleep and desperate for rest.

I gave that early morning out of the best I could, which wasn't much.
God does too...He gives out of His best too. 
But it's always more than enough.

So, I'm thankful for coughs at 1am in small hotel rooms.
You just never know what might let you glimpse straight into the heart of our Father.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where's My Rock?

I need a rock.

A rather large one.

Because I want to crawl under it.

I am just plain tired.

Tired of everybody and anybody who decides they have a right to an opinion about anything and everything all the time and it's adequate to post it, status-update it, tweet it.


I need a rock.

Even a small one will do.

Because I just want to make my home there for a while.

A space that's mine. And quiet. 

Where noise and chatter has ceased.

Where rhetoric is just a oddly spelled word, not the buzz word.

Where respect is given because mutual respect is a given.

Where people are free to think critically without being critical.


Stop the presses! Slow the media train! Silence the internet!

I need a rock.

Right quick.

Right now.

Because I want to crawl under it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Sometimes life stinks.

And sometimes life is reveling in the fact that there is underwear to actually wash instead of diapers to change.

Sometimes life is dull.

And sometimes life is squealing kids in fairy wings and Daddy on a toy broom toting remote controls while shouting, "I am gonna change your channel".

Sometimes life is hard.

And sometimes life makes it hard not to just throw you head back and laugh from sheer joy.

Sometimes life is complicated.

And sometimes life is as clear cut as all 3 kids wanting Mommy's lap at story time.

Sometimes life can wear you thin.

And sometimes life's pleasures are as thick as peanut butter faces that kiss you goodnight.

Sometimes life is loud.

And sometimes life gets just quiet enough to really see and hear and savor the wonder-filled moments.

Sometimes life is difficult.

And sometimes life is just what it is supposed to be...stinky and dull, hard and complicated, tiring and loud and difficult...and...sweet squeals and loving husbands, unabashed joy and laps too-small, sticky kisses and reflective minutes...and easy to embrace the all of the everyday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Written a Couple of Years Ago...

All my hurry ups and let’s get goings
All my raised voices and hasty shushes
All my blindness and deafness 
and just all-around lack of sensory processing


There are important things to do
Tasks to accomplish
Boxes to be checked
Sinks to be cleaned
Value to be earned?


Father, I need You!!  
I need your eyes - to see beyond myself, to see where real value lives and breathes and shows up.  
I need your heart - one that beats my pulse in rhythm to the meandering pace of Divine andante.  
I need your ears - to hear the harmonies in the chaotic melody of preschoolers.  
I need Your hands - to extend healing (both reactive in the binding of wounds and the preventive in the gentleness of loving instruction).  
I need Your words - spoken from a place of depth authority and peace, not frantic phrases clawing to maintain control.

I fear failure and yet feel that is my one abiding accomplishment.  
Missing the mark.  
Struggling on my own.  
No surrender.  No stopping.  No peace.  

How do I become something I thought I was but have discovered I am not?  How do I become?  And why adolescent questions of identity?  That time of self-seeking should be done or so it seems.

I feel like I live my life invisible - not impacting anyone of any magnitude.  I feel forgotten. 

And yet, 
my children are the ones to whom my life is most visible.
The ones who see all of me.  
The ones I fail each day.  
The ones I impact the most.  
The ones I hurry and rush, dismiss and shush.  
They deserve better.  
I deserve to be better.  
You deserve all of me flawed that I might give all of me filled.

Help me, Father!  I need You.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


We offer You, Lord...

          our thoughts: to be fixed on You;

                    our words: to have You for their theme;

                           our actions: to reflect our love for You;

                                      our sufferings: to be endured for Your greater glory.

We want to do 

                what You ask of us,

                             in the way You ask,

                                    for as long as You ask,

                                                 because You ask it. 

taken from:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

Motives matter.
The action, from outside, may look the same.
The heart might be night and day.
I am reminded me that God is more concerned for what's happening in the hidden parts, and not in the visible behavior.


We got flowers.
I came home from a two day trip and saw them beautiful on the table.
Lavender-gray rose. Purple iris. Yellow gerber daisy.
Aromatic and lovely.
My husband tells me someone from church sent them.
The card simply tells us we are appreciated.

The next morning is Sunday. 
As I consider this gift, I am struck by the blessing of it.
That someone thinks enough to send such sweetness.
But it's more than that.
This someone doesn't have money to throw around.
Their budget is tight. Really tight.
And cut stems...well, they are not cheap.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I am reminded of the widow's mite.
I wonder if this is a glimpse at God's joy in the offering from His children.

At church, I seek out the giver to tell them thank you. 
"You're welcome, " they say. "I want you to stay encouraged."
And then my gratitude is interrupted with these words, "I felt bad about...".


I develop a pit in my stomach.
This gift seems to be a guilt gift.
Something expensive given because they thought they had offended and felt guilty.

And my heart breaks.
The gift changes somehow.
That which was blessing sours slightly.
That which was given from gratitude transforms to a forced gift of penitence.
And I am stunned. Hurting.
And I wonder if this is a glimpse at God's sorrow when His children give to Him out of obligation.


Motives matter.
Why I give to God makes a difference.

My actions, from outside, may look the same.
But my heart might be night and day.

Too many times in my life, my offering to Him has been colored by duty, obligation, guilt. 
And I am just naive enough to think God actually wants me to give to Him from a place of joy, gratitude, love.

I want to bless my Abba's heart, not grieve it. 
I want to give back to Him out of my poverty because I know He is good, not because I am supposed to.


Forbid it, Lord, that I would come to You in thankless obligation. Instead, birth in me an ever-thankful heart spilling over in gratitude to You.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

By Faith

"How do I know, Mommy?
That the God I love is the right one?
Sometimes I am not sure.
I live here and I love God and I think I'm right.
But people in China believe something different and think I'm wrong.
So, how do I know?"

I tell her those are great questions.
I tell her that those questions are important.
That God has no problem listening to our questions or our doubts.

I tell her I've felt that way too.
That I've asked questions like that too.
I tell her that's when I ask God to show Himself again to me.
To help my unbelief.

I tell her that faith is the difference.
We have to make a choice about what we believe and walk it out in faith.

I tell her I love her.
And God does too.

I tuck her in and kiss her head.

And I shake my head at her wisdom. Her depth.
I chuckle that my 7 year old is asking the very questions my thirty-something heart sometimes entertains as well.

I can't teach her all the answers.
I don't want to.
I can teach her how to find answers.
How to discern truth.

I want our home to be a safe place for honest questions. 
A haven where doubts don't have to cripple. 
A space where seekers are nurtured.

So one conversation, 
one question, 
one late-night doubt at a time, 
I pray God will build a home of faith in each of our hearts.

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see." 
Hebrews 11:1 (The Message)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crying in 3-D Glasses

I had never been to an IMAX 3-D movie before.
An 8:50 showing on date night.
2 tickets for $25.
(cough, cough)
We walk to the very end of the hallway which opens up to a separate section. 
Just for IMAX.
We walk into the theater holding ridiculously goofy looking shades.
I see the screen.
Quite intimidating really.
It seems to engulf me along with the wall.
The sound in that space is palpable.
I was overwhelmed by the pre-movie IMAX promo.
I am beginning to understand that $25 is really paying for an experience.

The Amazing Spiderman was the film.
And it was a fine piece of Hollywood Blockbuster-ness.
I really like Emma Stone. 
Well, her acting. I don't know her.
But I find her characters endearing and girl next-doorish. And I like that.

I was doing fine.
Me donning my 3-D eyewear like everybody else.
Engaged in the story and working out my anxiety of being in such a large, loud space...I think that's rooted in a control issue I have.

And then the movie could have halted.
I couldn't enjoy the experience anymore.
In the middle of a big film on a big screen with a big reptilian villain, I chance a glimpse of a little girl sitting in this theater watching this spectacle.

Suddenly, I am nauseous.
I can hardly sit in my seat.
All our technological advancements mean heartbreak for me.

For the last hour of the film, I look more at that precious mop of blonde ringlets than what I paid to see.
Each fight scene is a little harder to endure.
Each scripted scream diverts my eyes to this little face to search for tears or upset or fear.

I want to scoop her up.
Play with her.
Tell her she's loved and special.
Protect her.
But I do all I know to do 
- that which doesn't feel like enough but is best.
I pray for her.

I pray that somehow God would protect this little girl from what she sees.
That somehow, though she sees, she would not see. 
Not remember.
Only God could answer such a prayer.
I pray He would keep her safe and secure. 
Something I can't do and don't feel her parents are doing either.

Finally, the credits roll and the tears fall. 
I can't move.
Or look my husband in the eye.
I just watch her leave and let my heart hurt.

He slips his arm around me while I silently emote.
He knows there is nothing really to say.
I wouldn't know how to say it anyway.
I just hurt. Deep and through.

I wonder at myself.
At these goings on inside.
Why? What? Where?

After three long years of desert, I am bearing emotional greenery again.
But this night, feeling something means hurt and pain.
I am ok with that.
Pain means I am alive.
Waking up to life. 
That's what I have been created
Abundant life, actually.
Having life abundant means I fully engage in the world around me.
All it's facets and angles and offerings.
Sweet and bitter. Easy and difficult.

For this night, blonde toddler ringlets were a reminder that God is doing a resurrection work in me.
For this night while I wear 3-D glasses, God is bringing me to life. 
No more two-dimensional desert dwelling for me.

And I I awake, for what work is He preparing my ever-emerging heart?

Whatever comes, I don't want to forget how I feel tonight. 
I want it to drive me to faith. to passion. to action.

There's a whole hurting world in need of resurrection work in their life. 

And maybe, just maybe, the resurrection work God is doing while I wear 3-D glasses will help to bring life to another...maybe even a precious toddler with blonde ringlets.

Monday, June 4, 2012

the preserving of self

An innocent word spoken but
I bristle and my defenses go up.
Past history seems to say this could lead somewhere painful.

A critical word said and
annoyed I line up my justifications in my head.
Past history seems to tell me I might have to prove myself.

A tired word falls on tired ears and
I have only enough energy to be wounded.
Past history tells me I will have trouble letting go.

Isn't it just the way life goes sometimes?
We hurt and we get hurt.
Sometimes without intent.
Sometimes with.
Regardless, it hurts.
Tears a little at the heart inside.

When it happens enough, when hurt becomes more common than rare, I find myself apprehensive. 

Apprehension turns to caution.
Caution turns to slight retreat.
If hurt lingers, slight retreat turns to emotional stiff-arming.
Stiff-arming turns to withdrawal turns to isolation.

And all the while I tell myself it's self-preservation.

What I don't realize...what I am just coming to understand...
is that there is no such thing as preserving yourself.

I pick up brick and mortar and I build a wall to keep me safely in. I have soothed myself with the thought I am protecting myself from future hurt, future pain. 

What I don't realize is I am cutting myself off. Like an emotional tourniquet that will restrict blood flow. But the problem is once shut off, shut away...only death follows.

The heart is a muscle and left unused it will do what any muscle does - atrophy. My figurative heart will do the same. Left in my walled tower where I feel safe from further hurt, I am just cutting off the life-flow to my soul.

My feeble attempts at self-preservation can't preserve myself at all. I can't save myself from hurt. from pain. from struggle. I can't save myself. period.

Self-preservation can never keep me right where I am. My emotional well-being at this place in time is only for this moment. If I lock myself away with self-preservation as my intent, I will find myself, 2 years down the road to be less emotionally mature than before.

It's not like I am garden variety green beans meant to be canned for the coming fall. Vegetables can be preserved. My emotional health can not be by labeling relational retreat as self-preservation.

All self-preservation really does is stunt my relational growth.   All self-preservation does is keep me hidden from others and myself.

Self-preservation is an impossible reality. 


Yet, God in His mercy, knows a pained heart needs room. Needs healing. Needs space. 

A place not of my own construction through offended senses but a place of safety where He can tend to wounds. 

When I take my pain to that place, I slowly lose my desire to attempt preservation of self. I have, in it's stead, given myself over to the One who knows me best and loves me most. And then, wonder of wonders, I find my heart - soul - self has been kept by Him. A kind of preservation in a way, I suppose, but by Design. 

God yearns, just as I do, to keep me from undue injury. 
He longs, as I do, to shield me from future pain. 
He does so by tending to my heart not tending to my tower.
He knows what's best for me - and He gives it. 

Life. Blood pumping amply to all of me. 
Hurt becoming scar not wound. 
If I will but run to Him and not just run away.

And in the process, I am more than preserved. I am not just patched up for more surviving of life. I am given the possibility of really living again - fully engaged in relationship and unafraid. 

I'm hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing... 
- Psalm 69:29 (The Message)

Monday, May 7, 2012

I see God...

in the drone of unison prayers
in cassock-clad seminarians sporting cowboys boots or cigarettes
in made-up jokes of a 7 year old
in the able worship of those with disabilities
in a friend's faithfulness
in wind-blown face while biking down a hill
in mourning with those who mourn
in the belly laughs of children
in puddles made for jumping
in my weakness in illness
in smoothing hair from a sleeping child's forehead
in discovering a book authored by a college classmate
in adirondack chairs by the lake
in solitary walks on rustic roads
in a room filled weekly with donated candy
in siblings cooperating
in my husband's constant love
in wilderness triumphs and desert joys
in renewed strength 
in a good night's sleep

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. - Psalm 34:8 (msg)