Friday, November 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Tree

Linking up here...
Five minutes, uncensored, for the sake of writing.


When I was six and four feet tall
I would escape beneath its bending branches
at recess.

Everybody else could have the swings 
and the teeter-totters.
There was no place like the haven
of the Weeping Willow.

I could pull on its branches
that swept the ground
and still they would not break.
They could bare my weight with ease.

I could disappear into its leaves, 
safe near the trunk of this tree
and be me, vulnerable and free.

I loved that Willow tree.
It was my friend.
Like the way Shel Silverstein personified 
The Giving Tree...
that tree - was my shelter and refuge.

There I could dream
and pretend
and believe in the magic of living.
I could be anything and everything.
I could be alone or with other friends
who embraced the Willow's dare
to see more and be more.

Like Lucy who entered the wardrobe, 
I was transported between the sway
of tearful twigs.
Imagination was alive,
and so was I.

Six years old and four feet tall;
underneath the blessing of a tree.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Last Night and This Morning

I had worked for hours on classwork.
And still felt unproductive.
Still a list of assignments to complete.

I lay in bed, 
brain whirring, thoughts spinning,
and the all too familiar routine
of finding and magnifying fault and failure.

I prayed.
Long and hard.
Desperate for relief.
But sometimes prayer doesn't usher relief.
Sometimes prayer just reminds me to whom I belong, 
and that belonging isn't conditioned by my worthiness.

I woke up this morning
and not much had changed.
I wanted to keep my eyes shut.
As if squeezing them hard closed would keep the day at bay.
I wanted to put the pillow over my head and disappear.

Just yesterday, my daughter was busy showing herself fully alive.
And today, I just want to curl up and shut out the world.
I don't feel ready to face my day. my responsibilities. my duties.

In the economy of motherhood, I don't get to barter.
Breakfast still needs to be prepared.
Children still need care.
School still needs to get done.
Lunchtime will still come.
PB&J will need to be made.
Life still needs to be lived.

And even on days like today,
when hope is hard to access, 
hope still shouts - albeit from a distance -
that breathing means life
and life means purpose
and I have a choice.

So today, I will lean hard into the One who knows me best
and loves me most
and ask Him to help me choose well. 
To choose life.

And today, life will look like:
      breathing in and breathing out
      taking one moment at a time
      celebrating phonics victories
      PB & J crusts positioned into a square
      finishing a food chain display 
      praying for the people in the Philippines
      the living room transformed into parking lot for toy cars
      siblings playing cooperatively
      biting my tongue that might be dripping with sarcasm
      thinking the best of others, especially the ones with which I live.


And me? I’m a mess. 
I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
but God, don’t put it off.
-Psalm 40:17 (The Message)

Monday, November 11, 2013

The First Snowfall and Being Fully Alive

She runs diagonal across the yard.
A path trails behind her where her steps have separated the snow.

She plays and pretends.
As if no one else is aware or around.
In the middle of the afternoon 
in the middle of a city, 
in the first snowfall of the season that clings to the ground.

She lifts her face to the sky, 
tongue out,
arms wide, 
unashamedly basking in the glory of the moment.

Her cheeks are rosy as she twirls and spins.
She tears off her leopard fleece hat 
as if the only way to take in the full weight of the moment 
is to feel her hair wet and flat against her scalp.

I quick run, grab the camera 
stand at the schoolroom window
and snap photos.
She is oblivious and beautiful.
And then I hear it, the song-words tumbling from her lips.
The phrase she has been repeating in a rising and descending melody.

"I'm free. I'm free. I'm free."

And from behind venetian blinds, 
this momma-heart soars a little higher
because a daughter today has found wings 
that have flown her to simple and elusive heights of  
just being. dwelling. enjoying. reveling.
Today, a daughter has reminded a mother how to live.

The glory of God is man fully alive. 
- St. Irenaus

Friday, October 25, 2013


Linking up here...



"Pull yourself together, woman."

That's what the voice inside my head echoes.

Pull myself together?
Like it's some simple task on my to-do list.
Like I have the wherewithal to actually accomplish this.
Like it is completely within my power to achieve such a feat.

Pull myself together?
How is that even possible?

Sure, I can give me a pep talk.
I can stare my crow's feet in the mirror and chant a mantra of positive thinking.
I can post scripture throughout my house.
I can say no to things and create healthy boundaries.

But even when I do all this well, 
I still find myself saying again,
"Pull yourself together, woman."

And that's when I remember this way of thinking is a lie.

It's not all up to me.
It can't be.
It's not possible.
I am not strong enough.
Or capable enough.
Or efficient enough.

I can't just will myself to pull it together.
Yes, I am responsible for my actions.
Yes, I have a choice.

But the only way to find myself whole
is by admitting my brokenness
to the One who makes it His business
to pull things together.

He did it before time was marked out by seasons.
He did when time was split by incarnation.
He does it every single day of my life.

The only way I can really get it together
is to be willing to fall apart
in the hands of the One
who knows me best 
and loves me most.

For in him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:28a


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Am I Called Blessed Yet?

These days, 
life is moving
at break-neck speed.
Life is chock full
of endless to do lists.

Most everything in my life
has taken a back seat
to home education
and seminary work
and keeping in touch
with far-away family not well.

I haven't watched a movie 
in who knows how long.
Netflix is a distant memory.
I've forgotten to even wonder
if the last season of White Collar
is available to add to the
instant que.
And that's another thing - 
it's not the instant que anymore.
The nomenclature is now "My List".
But I digress.

Life is busy. full. tiring.
Every night, after kids are covered up and kissed, 
I climb down the stairs 
and open up my books and read.
And write forum posts.
And read some more.
And take quizzes.

Somewhere along the way 
I write lesson plans for homeschool.
And sometimes I talk to my husband.
Lately there's been lots to discuss 
and ponder 
and process.

And it's hard.
And it's not.
Seminary work is wonderfully exhausting.
So is home education.
So is ministry.
So is parenting.
So is marriage.

Most of the time, 
I don't miss the superfluous episodes of Park and Recreation
that leave a trail of happy tears down my cheeks.
Most of the time, 
I am content to know there is plenty of work to fill my days and nights.
Most of the time, 
I am okay to admit that while my online assignments get done, 
my children are running out of clean underwear.
(Although, it's laundry week so it's all good.)
Most of the time, 
I will gladly nod my head and confirm while I have been teaching
my children about attentiveness,
and skip counting by 9,
and the eating habits of the Inuit tribe, 
the tub sits dirty for another day. 

These days, 
life is moving
at break-neck speed.
Life is chock full
of endless to do lists.
And yet life is good.
God is good.
And I am very thankful. 

Her children arise and call her blessed...
Proverbs 31:28a

Friday, September 20, 2013

SHE (on her 9th birthday)

Today is my daughter's birthday, 
so I was excited to see 
had chosen the word "She"! 
Linking up...

--------------------------------- GO ---------------------------------

She was prayed for as she developed in my womb,
for health became an issue for me
and grief was my companion for a sister lost.

She was 5 pounds and 8 ounces small,
and 17 days early, 
and we were unprepared.

She was lovely.

She's a doting big sister,
a caring friend, 
a sensitive extrovert.

She is turning 9 today.
Growing in loveliness
and creativity
and confidence.

She reads...a lot.
She is curious
and a leader.

We still pray for her
as she develops not in the womb of my body
but the incubator of our home.

She will continue to be a joy in our life, 
not matter what comes.
But we pray 
she will love Jesus passionately, 
trust Him implicitly, 
share Him lovingly.

She will always be our daughter, 

Happy Birthday, Eliana!
We love you....for always!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sabbath Mercy

Linking up with Five Minute Friday...

It's been whole week.
A week of 7 full days.

I've made a from-scratch two layer chocolate cake to feed 16 people.
I've celebrated a father-in-law's birthday 
with homemade brunch and slow cooked beef
and mashed potatoes made from the fruit of our garden.

My family has survived a 12 hour travel day - 
in the van,
2 adults, 3 kids
not enough DVDs.

I've listened and hurt and prayed with a friend 
going through difficult days.

My online graduate work has slowly gotten done - 
70 pages of reading
a quiz on the Old Testament Canon
3 forum posts.

I've been grocery shopping -
the massive kind done after being away for a week.

I've worked with my husband to plan a surprise birthday celebration for our daughter.

I've sorted and spotted laundry and it's waiting to be washed.

I've started packing for my week away on campus for my graduate work. And secured childcare so my husband can actually go to work when I'm gone.

I've done lesson planning for our upcoming year of home education.
Lessons that will help stretch and teach a 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and a preschooler.

And now it's Friday again.
Our family's sabbath day 
(because in ministry, Sunday doesn't cut it as a sabbath.)
Our day of rest.
A gift from Abba to be and not do.
A day to still my whirling mind from the tasks that have consumed it for the last 144 hours.
A time set aside to remind myself I can let go - 
because my list will still be there tomorrow,
and the world really will keep rotating if my list doesn't get done.
Moments spaced for me to revel 
in the fact it's not about me and my work.
No, Sabbath is a day to remember it's about God 
and the work He did through His son, Jesus.

So, this Sabbath, in particular, 
after this frenzied week
and much accomplished
but more still to do,

this Sabbath...
it's a mercy.
A great big, sloppy-wet-kiss kind of mercy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Jillian Michaels and Seminary

In Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD,
in the middle of infuriating squats and strength exercises,
she says this profound statement:

Stress brings change.

I literally stopped in the middle of the workout.
I was dumbfounded.
(And perhaps my thighs were screaming for a short respite).
Still, I was immediately struck.

Stress brings change.

It's true for our physical bodies.
It's true for our emotional selves too.
And for our mental growth.
And for our spiritual journeys.

Stress brings change.

It's not guaranteed change for the better.
But the fact is, when stress shows up on the scene, 
stress will not leave us the same.

I've begun work on an online master's degree.
Seminary work to be exact.
And classes started this week.

In five days, I...

read 94 pages in 4 different books
wrote 7 forum posts (substantive responses only, please)
listened to 1 lecture
took 1 quiz
sent 2 (slightly panicky) e-mails to professors

I can't tell you how many times I wanted a paper sack.
Hyperventilate is not just a word for Martha Speaks.
Stress, he's been a constant companion of mine.
(If stress were personified I don't really know what gender it'd be, 
but after this week, I'm not in the mood to say stress is female.)

Yet in all this, I remember Jillian Michaels, and her words.

Stress brings change.

After all this work, I will be changed.
I pray it is for the better.
I pray this stress of further study is not wasted, 
brings improvement, 
draws me closer to God, 
deepens my understanding of faith, 
connects me with others who enrich my journey.

Stress brings change.

So, I'll load up on paper sacks.
and I will welcome stress,
especially if he brings desired change.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Linking up Five Minute Friday...

When I sit at the park, on a squeaky picnic table, sun full on my mothered-face, read Isaiah 40:11 and know it was just for me.

When I see the water run off the forehead of my boy whom I birthed and now get to baptize.

When I hear a melody that propels my feet or my hands to move and lift and dance and offer my whole being.

When green beans turn out just so that my sometimes too-picky kids gobble them up like pieces of sugared candy.

When my husband just stops, and smiles that smile, because we know each other deeply and fully, and he just can't help but burst with love.

When another comes along side my pain, and scoops up my burden carrying it with me until I can breathe again.

When a face, young and innocent and needy, grins big at the used bike they just earned working a drink stand at a church yard sale.

When my breath is stolen by a sunset, or the luminescence of a tropical fish, or the loveliness of a flower, or the fragile complexity of an ecosystem.

These are moments of worship...moments where God has shown Himself great and big and beautiful.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Desirable Dirt

Maybe motherhood should be measured in terms of dirt.

For instance how dirty my child's feet are. If so, I would have been crowned "Mother of the Year" the other day.

 My children, who daily don crocs, played hard at the park as they celebrated a birthday. Then we drove those dusty, dirty, croc-wearing feet across town to another birthday party where they ricocheted round the red and yellow bounce house.
It was a good day.
Their dirty feet testified to that.

And I wonder...what in my life that shows up like dirt or grime but tells others that I am living, really living?

Maybe it's the small blood stain on my shirt from tending to a scraped knee. Or the layer of dust that envelopes every room because I chose to type the script for the play my ever-creating daughter wrote.

Maybe it's the light pink oval of proof left from strawberry lemonade when children camped out in the living room. Or the chocolate crumbs of chewy goodness we turned into Super Mario brownies.

Maybe it's the grass stains on a white shirt from rolling down the hill. Or the sweat conjured from helping underprivileged kids earn a bike from manning a drink stand.

Maybe it's the wrinkled imprint on skin from kneeling on the floor to help find a book to read. Or the wet leaves on the kitchen floor from venturing out in the rain to the van looking for a beloved blanket.

It's hard to say what dirt each day will bring. 
The dirt that proves I am alive. awake. breathing. engaged.
The grime that accumulates with the work of parenting.
The dust that shouts there's more important things than the pristine.
The ick, that by it's very existence, substantiates the sweetness of prioritized days.

Maybe motherhood should be measured in terms of dirt.