Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Llama, Llama, Taciturn Drama

My husband snapped this photo yesterday while we visited the zoo.

It makes me laugh. 
Not out loud.
But profusely on the inside.

Most of the time, I try hard to actually say something in this space.
Now, I suppose that could be up for debate.
Not everything which stirs me may stir those who stop by here.
My struggles may not be shared by others.
And that's ok.

This space is for me.
And if someone else is 
or encouraged 
or moved 
or even angered 
by what they read here, 
well, I give thanks.

(Side note: The people pleaser in me is attempting to really embrace the "thankful if someone is angered by something they read here" part.)

But today, I don't have much to say.
I have much on my mind.
Stirrings in my heart.
Yet those are still mine.
Private and close.
Not fully formed.

So, for today, I am simply sharing
a photo of a South American camelid 
that brings a smile to my heart.

Monday, April 29, 2013

When Ice Cream Hurts


We had planned to surprise them with this fun idea.
We were going to get toys picked up.
Get pjs on.
Brush teeth.
Pick out tomorrow's clothes.
Read the bible.
Sing and pray.

And then, 
out of the blue,
when they least expected it,
we were going to yell 
"Pajama Run".

We were going to tell bedtime to wait.
We were going to start off this week with a bang.
We were going to bless our kids with ice cream,
by climbing into the van,
in their jammies, 
after they'd already brushed their teeth, 
and drive to Sonic 
and let them order a treat.
Any treat they wanted.

Things didn't work out as we planned.
By the time we got past the singing and praying part, 
the kids' behavior had eliminated the planned blessing.
As much as we wanted to, we couldn't allow such a unique and rewarding opportunity to follow an hour of bad behavioral choices.

And my husband and I were sad.
We felt loss.
And I think the most difficult part was knowing the kids didn't even know what they were forfeiting.
They had no idea their decisions had relinquished a blessing.
Oh what could have been...and they didn't even know!

And I am humbled by the thought that I am exactly like my children.
I push back against God's better ways.
I rebel against His prescribed path.
I see only the life right in front of my face.
And sometimes, though I can't prove it, 
I am certain God has had an unexpected blessing waiting
and I chose badly.

I don't want to be a downer, 
but really...
how many blessings have I given up because I was 
too busy? too proud? too scared? 
too oblivious? too preoccupied?
too rebellious? too self-sufficient?

And I think, though I can't prove it, 
God must be sad in those moments.
Those unwitting eliminations of blessing.

He so wants to give to us.
More than we expect.
And sometimes, those gifts are dependent upon 
our willingness to submit first.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flint and Fear (Part 1...maybe)

I have grasped this before.
At least cerebrally.
If not experientially.

Understanding is a great deterrent to fear.

Understanding is gained through 
knowing someone or something.
And knowing, by its nature, 
diminishes ignorance.

Ignorance, however, can be a great friend to fear.

When we are without knowledge, 
and thus without understanding, 
fear can easily make reason to a pile of rubble.

In the animated film Beauty and the Beast, 
as the rioting villagers head out to storm the Beast's castle, 
they sing these lines...
"We don't like what we don't understand; in fact, it scares us..."
Who knew Disney could turn philosophical?

But I have grasped this before.
At least cerebrally.
Understanding is a great deterrent to fear.

Knowledge really can be power.
When one feels armed with understanding 
of another
or a context
or a circumstance
or a system
there is greater hope of acting even when afraid.

I live in, 
what many surveys deem, 
one of the country's most dangerous cities.

I live in, 
what some polls have described as, 
one of the country's most miserable cities.

Jobs have left.
And so have people.
Drugs are common.
And so is homicide.
Blight is abundant.
And arson prevalent.

I have plenty of reason to fear.
And the truth is, I have.
I have lived afraid.

I have allowed fear to 
have a voice 
and isolate me.

I have permitted fear to 
draw my proverbial shades
and ignore my neighbor.

And as the neighborhood around me changes.
some say for the worse, 
what I need is some understanding.

I need to understand my community.
My neighborhood.
My neighbors.
I need to understand 
a city can suffer from stress 
for so long that it's crippled.
I need to understand 
how to function effectively 
in an ever-transitioning and needy area.

And maybe, just maybe, 
some of that understanding
can burgeon 
into hope
and compassion
and courage
and action.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble 
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A (spring) Day In Our Life

There's something about 
the first 
spring day.

The first day you could shed the jacket.
Glory in warm sunlight.
Chase a bunny in your yard.

The first day you could grill hot dogs
after the pork got too dry.

The first day kids could carry out markers
sit on the sidewalk 
and draw in their nature journals.

The first day you feel comfortable
standing at the lilac bush
urging those buds to open.

The first day an outside ice cream shop
sounds tempting...
even if you don't actually go.

The first day you would blare music
roll down windows
and go on a road trip...
if you didn't own a mini-van.

The first day a blanket of grass
seems an inviting luxury.

The first day to feel disappointment 
that it's laundry day
and that means being inside.

The first day that 
even though it's bath night
and church is tomorrow
you allow more child's play outside.

There's something about the first real spring day.
Something sweet
and fragrant
and soothing
and harmonious
and lovely.

When spring came...there were no problems 
except where to be happiest. - Ernest Hemingway

Friday, April 26, 2013


A sweet friend unexpectedly dropped off encouragement at my house.
Framed in black, a picture she drew.
Of purple tulips...my favorite flower in my favorite color.

This gift after sharing my recent struggle with fear.
This gift after years of encouraging each other through,
what we lovingly call "the crazies".

Added to the picture was a CD.
On that CD, this song was included. 
If you have a quiet moment, maybe you'll want to listen.
Really listen.

After hearing this song, 
I think I live much of life
hoping God will show up 
when the next struggle emerges in my life...
forgetting He's already there.

I think I live much of life
praying God won't leave me hanging
the next time the bottom falls out...
forgetting He's already holding me up.

I think I live much of life
assuming God will have to multiply Himself
to meet the ever-increasing demands of my existence
forgetting He's already all I need.

Always has been.
Always is.
Always will be.

This song reveals my small, finite view of God.
Exposes my self-centered image of God.

This song is about who God is.
In His fullness.

God will not have to evolve 
with the changing seasons of my life.
He's already enough.

God will not have to regroup and take stock
when the next crisis dawns.
He's already sufficient.

God won't need to huddle up as the Trinity
to ensure He's covered all the bases. 
(I know...mixed sports metaphors.)
He's already all I need.
All you need.
All this world has ever needed.

He is.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, 
the Beginning and the End." - Revelation 22:13

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Little but Loved

I was feeling small.


Not amounting to much in my estimation.

I was feeling incidental.
As if nothing I did added up to much.

It stinks to feel little.
Inept and lacking potential.

It's enough to make me grumpy.
Caddy. Nit-picky.
Downright unpleasant.

And then I turn to this song.
Perspective for my skewed outlook.
Shaken from my self-centered world, 
I am reminded
"For Thine is the Kingdom..."

Not my kingdom.
Not my sandbox.
Not my rules.

This life of mine is not for me.
This life of mine isn't even about me.
It's by Him. For Him. Unto Him. All for Him.

I was created in His image (Genesis 1:26)
for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
prepared by God for His purposes (Ephesians 2:10)
for His glory (Romans 11:36).

That's enough to remind me 
my contribution of faithfulness
may not reach around the globe
but is not small.
Not insignificant.

That is enough truth to fight the lies that creep in.
Enough truth to fight prideful agendas.
Enough truth to stand secure in the knowledge I am loved...
beyond compare,
beyond reason,
beyond my limitations.

And that makes me far from trivial.
Or incidental.
Or negligible.

I am indispensable.
Planned for.

May Jesus himself and God our Father, 
who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of 
unending help and confidence, 
put a fresh heart in you, 
invigorate your work, 
enliven your speech.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (The Message)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Easter People

When the church tells time, Easter is a holy day.
24 hours set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
A day given over to hope 
and freedom 
and life from impossible death.
A day that begins with angels greeting faithful women.
Rolled away stones.
Deserted grave clothes.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Shelter

Trees bend.
Neighbor's windmill rapidly spins.
Back gate swings hard open.
Then closed.
The lightweight subject to the rule of blustery blasts.

I watch from inside.
Seeing the effects of invisible gusts.
I hear the howling winds.
Unfriendly. Strong. Orotund.

I view weather from insulated walls.
Safely shielded and kept.

God is as my house in tempestuous weather.
He secures, protects, buffers.
He is my refuge.
My shelter.

I long to dwell in your tent forever 
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Psalm 61:4

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Look at Daddy

Four years old. 
That's how old our daughter was 
when summer dawned and her fear of ants emerged.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Red Fish Tail

I took the kids to the art institute last week.
And they made art.
Inspired by Alexander Calder's sculpture entitled "Red Fish Tail".

The Prey

This sculpture is suspended from the ceiling.
It's considered a mobile because it has parts that move.
But there are parts to this piece that remain stationary.
That's called a stabile (pronounced "stay-beel")
The kids created art that included both a mobile and a stabile.

And me...I am struck.
I exist wishing to create art by the very life I live.
And there are facets of my life that are fixed, certain, sure.
And there are facets that are fluid, changing, moveable.
I am part mobile and part stabile.

I am found in a collaboration of crimson metal and wires hanging above my head.

A piece of art.
Projecting life as I live it.
As I suspect we all live it.
With some aspects firm and steadfast.
And some uncertain and transitory.
And I think I like it that way.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Getting Ready for the Day

The number of times children 
interrupted my 
routine to ask a question.
Or to whine.

Well, not that many.
But it was a lot.

And some days, 
I might want to sulk about that.
or pull out my hair.
or raise my arms in surrender.
or run far away fast.

But not today.
This morning, 
               grace reigned.
                                   and patience.
                                                       and smiles.
                                                                           and joy.

This day has been a morning 
of acceptance and embrace. 
This day God reminded me 
that my routine for 
is simply a part of my day.

Shampooing my hair...it's a part of my day.
Washing my face...it's a part of my day.
So when my children need something, 
even if I am drying my bangs, 
I am not getting ready for my day.
I am living my day.

The only "getting-ready" part 
about it 
concerns my faithfulness.

My faithfulness 
in this small circumstance 
can prepare me for something to come.

My ability 
to greet interruption as opportunity 
gets me ready for parenting 
                 with greater grace.
                                        with wider patience.
                                                              with bigger smiles.
                                                                                    with deeper joy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I don't usually sit this close to a window.
A light portal displaying a world of cloud cover and drizzle.
Yet light permeates still.

The room I'm in is dark.
Lights extinguished to make fort-dwelling more adventurous.

And me, I feel stuck between the two.
The outside world.
The inside responsibilities.

I spent the weekend away. 
Teaching. Speaking. Meeting new friends. 
I spent the weekend feeling alive.
Useful to someone over 4 feet tall.
And I returned refreshed, energized, fuller.

And now it's Wednesday.
Less than 72 hours back
and the struggle ensues.

How to be fully alive right where I spend most of my time?
How to be patient when interrupted for the 437th time?
How to lovingly instruct instead of internally implode?
How to create art with the mundane colors of math lessons and lunchboxes?
How to live in contented hope?

You know me best and love me most.
So all I do and all I am
...for You...
that I might know You better and love You more.