Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Grief, Health

Jittery

It’s a jittery kind of morning around here.

I strike up one of those “conversations” with God.

“Principal’s office” god begins his normal barrage.

[WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Can’t you get your act together? Enough with the anxiety already!]

That familiar UGH swoops in.

[This again? What is wrong with me!?!]

Newly-found voices of “up-in-arms” battle their way to the surface.

[That is NOT the voice of the real and true God. It’s those dang and destructive voices of discouragement and shame, enemies of my soul.]

I clear a just-enough space for a tender, gentle Voice.

[What’s wrong with you, my Sweet? What do you NEED?]

The ping-pongy chitchat heads into full swing.

***********************************************

[I NEED my son to keep his new job so he can pay his rent.]

[Actually, you probably NEED My wisdom to know how much to help or not help. You know, that whole boundaries thing you’ve been working on for (basically) ever.]

[I NEED this pandemic to be O-V-E-R! Like right now! It’s basically ruining ALL.THE.THINGS along with me always feeling like I’m playing Russian roulette.]

[Actually, you might just NEED a settledness of soul in the waiting, an abiding trust in Me. I really care about you and this and I know how it all feels.]

[I NEED my youngest to come home for the holidays.]

[Actually, you likely NEED to feel your sadness over missing her and confront your own loneliness without her. You NEED to grieve.]

[I NEED our financial situation to be secure.]

[Actually, you undoubtedly NEED to live in today and from a place of provision from my generous heart, instead of that never-ending, life-sucking place of scarcity.]

[GOD, HELP ME! I NEED TO BE OKAY ON THE OUTSIDE!]

[Actually, you NEED to be okay on the inside.]

This time around, I keep quiet and He keeps going.

[My daughter, it’s not going to be having all the OUTSIDE problems solved. More of them will creep up every day. What you “needed” a year ago is completely different than what you will “need” a year from now. It’s always changing.

What you REALLY NEED, however, is the SAME every moment, every day.

You need to trust, to settle, to BE in that “all shall be well” place INSIDE, the place where I dwell.

It’s safe.

Your jitters can rest.

You DO have EVERYTHING you really NEED.]

**********************************************

And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

**********************************************

P.S. One thing I do desperately NEED this morning (and any of you who might grace my presence would heartily agree): I NEED A SHOWER! Warm soapy, water, here I come!

Posted in Family, Grief, Motherhood, Thanks

TWINGE

It hits you when you least expect it.

That TWINGE of mom grief.

The lump in your throat, tear in your eye, and melancholy in your mom heart.

It might be something as simple as…
watching your 10-year-old jump in a pile of leaves knowing this might be the last time she feels carefree enough to do so because she is heading into those self-conscious middle school years.

TWINGE.

Or…
your eighth grader asking to stand back-to-back with you so he can prove he has passed you up in the mom/son height race.

TWINGE.

Maybe even…
your newly-licensed driver waving goodbye to you as she backs down your driveway headed off for the very first time EVER alone in the family car.

TWINGE.

How about…
unthinkingly grabbing your son’s favorite cereal in the grocery store a week into his college freshman year? You slowly put it back on the shelf.

TWINGE.

It happened to me today. Again. A sign on the beach I frequent often, one I had never noticed before.

A simple board with words reminding me that I am here, standing 428 feet from the Atlantic Ocean and my 21-year-old is snug as a bug 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, almost 3,000 miles away.

3,000.

TWINGE.
TWINGE.
TWINGE.

I stopped.
I stared at the sign.
I sighed.
I teared up.
I wiped my eyes with my shirt.

TWINGE.

That ever-so familiar TWINGE that…

…sparks gratitude for this mom journey I love.

…moves me THROUGH the hard of missing all the good that once was

…takes me TO the good that still lies ahead, waiting for me to enjoy it.

It won’t be long until I feel that TWINGE again.
It will hit me when I least expect it.
But I secretly don’t mind it at all.

Posted in Childhood, Faith, Family, Health, Motherhood

613

613. Number of ancient Jewish laws.

613. Almost the number of rules in our home when the kids were little.

61. Probably the number of different “Family Laws” based on said rules along with kids’ ages and stages.

All of this an effort to keep track of what really mattered and didn’t, what should be disciplined and what should be praised.

But mostly just a desperate attempt to manage the chaos that seemed to be a natural part of raising a family.

One not-so-glorious day, having reached the end of my mom rope, I screamed these words in exasperation:

“JUST TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR STUFF!!!”

“PUH-LEEZE!”

If the not-so-glorious scene had been made into a comic strip for the Sunday paper, a glowing “light bulb” would have hovered just over my red face and red head.

“AHA! MAGIC!!!”

Boxes in my brain were immediately checked for compliance:

  • Brush teeth (SELF)
  • Put gas in the car (STUFF)
  • Do NOT eat 17 cookies (SELF)
  • Do homework (STUFF)
  • No wet towels on the floor (STUFF)
  • Go to bed (SELF)
  • Get a job (BOTH). – YES. Get a job!

A new “Family Law” was imposed, one that didn’t take hours of preparation, spreadsheets and doctorates. The old charts were wadded up and saved as fire starters!

“AHH. RELIEF!”

“TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR STUFF!”

****************************

Everything in our OUTER lives is managed by this sweet, simple phrase, no matter how old we are, whether we are a male or female, who we live with, what dreams we have, or what our personalities are like.

(You could play a little game and see if you can find any that don’t if you really want to. Comment if you come up with one.)

It’s the same for me and for you, our child or our parents, our spouse or our friend, our pastor or our barista at the local coffee shop.

But what about our INNER lives? What about cooperation, kindness, generosity, respect, compassion, thankfulness, forgiveness, patience, etc., the deeper issues of the heart?

Do they land in those two columns of “self” and “stuff”?

The wisest human (not me) who ever lived emphatically says, “yes.”

In fact, he reminds us that “taking care of our self and our stuff” begins with our INNER life.

Cultivating the matters of our hearts is the best care we can take of our “selves.”

Tending to our souls is the best care we can take of our “stuff.”

His words, not mine:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

P.S. I need a new toothbrush!

Posted in Faith

19 Weeks of Darkness

19 weeks.

The time between our clocks “falling back” to “springing ahead.”

19 weeks.

DARKNESS comes earlier and there is almost a collective “OH NO” heard in the air.

19 weeks.

The apprehension of depression looms large in the hearts of those who struggle already and general melancholy arises in those who don’t.

19 weeks.

The warning of COVID numbers and “a whole lot of hurt” to come sends us wanting to pull the covers over our heads and make it stop.  STOP.  STOP.  STOP.  As if the winter DARKNESS is not bad enough.

19 weeks.

The election and the fall out either way.  Fear creeps into our minds and our stressed bodies are unable to hide it.

The “Holidays.”  Trepidation on how to navigate the risks and rewards of seeing family and friends makes this one of the most confusing seasons ever.

New Years.  No watching the ball drop with Times Square revelers and the dread that 2021 won’t be the end of all that 2020 has brought to us.

MLK Day.  The usual day of hope has an underpinning of tension as we understand that there is still SO much work to do.

Valentines Day.  We wonder.  Cute little candy hearts and cupids just don’t cut it anymore.  There’s real pain out there.  Real pain.

DARKNESS for sure.  And not just the literal kind.

19 weeks.

A womb of sorts.

A cocoon of sorts.

A tomb of sorts.

The unknown and all the possible things that could go wrong.  DARKNESS.

19 weeks.

But what happens IN the womb? The cocoon? The tomb?

Not after.  Not when it’s over.  Not when we see crocuses and robins and longer days.

But IN?  IN the DARKNESS?

There is CREATION in the womb.
Of a whole new life.

There is TRANSFORMATION in the cocoon.
Of a whole different being.

There is REDEMPTION in the tomb.
Of a whole only-God-can-do-this kind.

Gifts.  Beautiful gifts.

Gifts that could not come any other way.

19 weeks.

There will be DARKNESS for sure.

But there will also be HOPE.

Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Family, Motherhood, Thanks

Y-E-S

When your big kid texts, “Can I come home for the weekend?” you jump at the chance and say a resounding “Y-E-S.”

When your big kid pulls in the driveway, you run outside, wave frantically and give her a hug like you haven’t seen her in five years (even though it’s only been five weeks).
 
When your big kid dumps her stuff all over your kitchen counter, you hold your tongue and remember that it’s only for a couple of days, knowing secretly you miss the “mess.”
 
When your big kid asks, “Mom, do you have ___________,” you search your house until ___________ is found underneath the sink in the back corner.
 
When your big kid shows you the tomatoes and peppers she brought you from her garden, you say, “WOW! That’s amazing!” and you figure out how to use them over the next week so you can post a picture on social media and tag her.
 
When your big kid wants to take an online who-you-should-vote-for test, you spend five hours talking through all the issues, learning and listening to her perspective while speaking your own truth, both feeling more connected afterwards.
 
When your big kid rakes the leaves into a pile on your driveway, plops herself right in the middle, throwing them into the air because fall is her favorite season ever, you take a video and post it everywhere.
 
When your big kid holds her dad’s hand during your lazy, long leaf-peeping walk, you watch from behind and your heart almost bursts because you love her more today than you ever have.
 
When your big kid snuggles with you on the couch, watching football and eating popcorn, the official family snack, memories flood your mind of a little girl spinning in a circle humming while she eats the fluffy white goodness. A lump forms in your throat.
 
When your big kid gets ready to leave, you help pack her car, make sure she has air in that tire with the flashing light on, make a bag of goodies for her two-hour ride, and give her another hug like you won’t see her again for another five years (even though it will only be five weeks).
 
When your big kid pulls out of your driveway, you shout “I love you,” hands flailing in the air, as tears well in your eyes and you allow them to flow. Your heart is sad and thankful all at the same time.
 
When your big kid texts you, “I’m home,” you breathe a long, mom sigh of relief, anticipating the next time you will be given another chance to jump and say a resounding “Y-E-S!”
.
Posted in Faith, Thanks

Pattering

It’s (almost) my favorite sound in the world.
It’s happening as I write this.
I could listen to it all day and all night.

The sound of RAIN pattering on the roof.

[I get all goosebumpy (is that even a word?) when I hear it.]

RAIN speaks to quenching.

A parched soil.
A parched soul.

[Calm washes through my body, my spirit responding in kind.]

RAIN speaks to cleansing.

A mucky house.
A mucky heart.

[I peek outside, and can almost see the trees drinking it in.]

RAIN speaks to refreshment.

A weary world.
A weary body.

[The idea of a nap in the middle of the day sounds just about right.]

RAIN speaks to redemption.

A hopeless day.
A hopeless mind.

[A smile creeps to my lips, a glimmer of hope rising within.]

Thank you, RAIN.

I need you today.

#nobadweather #pluviophile

Posted in Faith

E Pluribis Unum

My Dear Fellow-Americans,

I know you are hurting because I am too. It’s all just NOT right. The people who are supposed to lead us towards “e pluribis unum” (out of many, ONE) have tried to divide us in two.

We are NOT two. We are MANY. But we are also ONE.

We prove it day after day, in the ordinary moments of our American lives.

We are ONE.

I’ve seen it play out in these past months like no other.

All different colors of fire fighters beating back the flames, not caring at all whether the people they are saving vote Red, Blue, Green or Purple or None of the Above.

All different ages of people wearing those inconvenient and uncomfortable masks just because we want to stop one person from dying.

All different walks of life figuring out ways to keep our businesses from crumbling by getting take-out, shopping local and hiring contractors.

All different creeds walking peacefully together to speak out for healing, justice, restoration and HOPE, saying “It’s enough. We want change and we want it for everyone!”

We are the PEOPLE of the United States of America.

We respect each other.
We cheer for each other.
We listen to each other.
We count on each other.
We need each other.
We help each other.
We learn from each other.
We love each other.

No one can stop us from doing that. NO ONE.

So, when someone tries to convince you that we are TWO, don’t listen. We are MANY. MANY colorful, diverse, caring, beautiful souls.

But we are also ONE. ONE in purpose. ONE in resolve. ONE in heart.

From my hopeful heart to yours,

E pluribis unum.

Posted in Faith

Spiral

It’s easy to SPIRAL into hopelessness when checking out the news or social media.

Covid. Politics. Shootings. Sex-trafficking. Addiction. Riots.

We don’t have to look very far to see what’s going wrong. It all feels heavy, dire and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Where do we start? Who do we help? What can we possibly do to make a small dent for good in this gut-wrenching broken world? Would it even make a difference?

We often fall into the trap of two not-so-helpful choices:

…draining what little time and energy we have getting stuck trying to figure out what is most crucial

or

…crumpling under the sheer magnitude of all the horror.

There’s a third option. A much better one: make the world a better place because we are in it. Plain and simple.

It REALLY does NOT matter what we choose to invest ourselves in. We might care about clean water for the planet, special education needs in our communities, or our child struggling with normal every-day life.

It can be a big-world, local community or one-person issue. We, all by our sweet selves, can be a powerful force for good.

We’ve already done it thousands of times, most of it small and seemingly insignificant: a smile, a hug, a word of encouragement, a meal made, a listening ear, a thoughtful gift.

No, we can’t do everything. But we can do something. And that is lots better than doing nothing.

You see, all those tiny, supposedly inconsequential moments of good grow into the huge life stories of hope, change and restoration.

The good beats back the bad one choice at a time, one person at a time. It’s not insignificant after all. It’s essential.

I’m not sure where your passion lies, what sets your soul on fire, what your heart longs to see restored.

Be encouraged, my friend.

Your “cup of water” for one “thirsty” person will send ripples of life-changing goodness into the world. Trust the ripple.

From my heart to yours.

Posted in Childhood, Faith, Family, Marriage, Motherhood

The Ta-Da List

17,000,000. The number of apps to manage to-do lists.

TOP priority. Get ‘er done.

The feeling of accomplishment.

Promised peace at the end of the day when it’s all crossed off.

I was trained from a bitty girl to spend time at the day’s end confessing my sins out loud and asking God for forgiveness. “I’m sorry I lied.” “I’m sorry I said mean things to my friend.”

No matter how much good I had given to the world, my final thoughts as I said my bedtime prayers were how I had MESSED UP and what I had NOT done well and who I had offended (in many cases, this happened to be the God of the universe…yikes). NO peace for sure.

Fast-forward to my adult years. Same. Same. Same. Just different stuff. “I’m sorry I screamed at my kids.” “I’m sorry I took a too-long lunch at work.”

One night, my little rebellious self changed it up. “What did you do right today?” I quizzed my husband as we collapsed into bed after wrangling four kids into their beds.

Crickets………………….

More crickets……………………

“I smiled at the store clerk,” he mumbled at long last.

I shook my head. I knew he had probably been kind, sought justice, served those he worked with, treated everyone with dignity and respect, along with all the daunting tasks he had crossed off his “to-do” list.

Lightbulb moment!

Realizing how much of our day (and night) was taken up with negative thinking, we decided to make this a best practice in the moments before we fell into slumber. “What did you do right today?”

We still began our days with a “to-do” list, but we ended them with a “ta-da” list.

It was STILL NOT the peace we were looking for, but at least a step in the right direction.

Help came in the form of what usually happened right before we crawled into bed, wiped out from the day.

Most nights, the last thing on my never-ending “to-do” list was to slip into each of my kids’ rooms and just watch them sleep (something I still do from time-to-time, even though they are giants at this point).

No matter what had happened during the day, both good and bad, it didn’t seem to matter any more. I would just stand there, gazing at their cute little heads barely visible above their comforters, completely and utterly in love with them, happy.

Yes. Yes. This must be how God feels about us.

While the “to-do” lists and “ta-da” lists matter to us, they don’t seem to matter much to Him.

At BOTH the beginning and end of each day (regardless of either of those lists), he gently reminds us, “I will quiet you with my love. I will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah)

TRUE, UNADULTERATED PEACE.

Posted in Faith

The Myth of Scarcity…and the Hope of Acorns

It’s happening again.

I’m tripping over them.
I’m listening to them crackle down from the trees.

Acorns are falling. Everywhere.

I believe wrong things. The myth of scarcity is one of them. It pours into my newsfeed. My television streams it. It permeates conversations. My own thoughts teem with it. Many of my decisions are made because of it.

And it’s downright wrong. A lie.

The myth of scarcity is the idea that there isn’t enough to go around. The world (and the God who created it) is lacking the resources to meet my needs. There’s not enough _______ (fill in the blank) for me and those I love.

At its root (at least for me) is the MEAN monster of fear. And as I know better than I would like to admit, fear strangles and enslaves me.

My reaction to its demands cause me to hoard, fret, close up and off, control, and protect myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Just look at the last six months. Hand sanitizer. Frozen vegetables. Wipes.

Acorns speak something completely different. As I unwittingly get “bonked” on the head by one of these brown nuggets for soon-to-be-hibernating creatures, I am not-so-gently reminded.

When I fret over the lack of ________ in my world, and in my own little family, copious acorns point out a better and truer reality.

NOT LACK.
ABUNDANCE.

NOT SCARCITY.
OVERFLOWING.

God is enough.
God has enough.

In fact, God is MORE than enough.
And God has MORE than enough.

Last night, I was sucked back to the myth. I started looping around about the LACK of a job for my husband. Possible LACK of money. LACK of security.

Quickly, my thoughts turned to how can I make this okay. What scheme can I come up with to get some money into our pockets? HOW DO I FIX THIS?

(You know the drill! You have your own 2 am thoughts.)

As I let our dog out today, I saw acorns strewn all over our walkway.

“Gotcha, God.” I mumbled under my breath.

No LACK with YOU.
Only ABUNDANCE.

No SCARCITY with YOU.
Only FULLNESS to OVERFLOWING.

Acorn.
Acorn.
Acorn.

They will keep falling. There will be MORE than enough.

It doesn’t matter what the job front looks like right now.
It doesn’t matter what our bank account looks like.
It doesn’t matter if our funds are all “safe and sound.”

God’s got all the “acorns” in the world. And He’s got some for me.

AND YOU.