I’m late for Lent.
There’s usually a stack of books on my beside table. Murder mysteries. Books about the sacred. Memoirs. One or two chapters at the most at the end of a long day send me to dreamland.
Books, for me, are spending a bit of time with another person, the writer. I might enjoy a completely entertaining story, hear another’s heart on a particular issue, or just walk beside someone through their life’s journey. I find connection in my jammies without any makeup on.
Fast forward to Sundays, my “take-a-break” day. I carve out at least SOME time alone, in the quiet. Self-help books shut. TV off. Phone on emergency-calls-only mode. Stop and stare out the window. Hash it all out with God. Often, something inexplicable happens way down deep, in the places I rarely venture.
It feels similar to what happens when I see a rainbow or a sunset or hear a beautiful piece of music. There is an unexplainable knowing that “all is well” despite all the swirling things in my life that are NOT. In fact, the silence actually magnifies the things that are not okay, perhaps because there is some space to explore them.
Mysteriously, as I sip my once-a-week cup of tea, watch birds flit by or the snow fall (which is happening as I write this), sorrow and joy, disruption and peace, the messy and the beautiful are able to walk side-by-side, neither one cancelling out the other.
The rest of the busy, hurried week, I fall into the trap of working hard and praying for ONLY the positive, happy, safe side of life. I keep my house organized, pay my bills on time, plant flowers and read self-help books.
Somehow, though, the negative, sad, and scary sides that are usually defined as bad by almost every voice around me, creep in no matter how hard I try to avoid them, stuff them down, or get all in a fit about them.
I’m like the Greek mythology character, Sisyphus, painstakingly rolling a huge rock up a mountain and just before I reach the top, it tumbles right back down to the bottom and I have to start all over again.
Anger. Confusion. Anxiety. Despair.
Thanks to those books on my nightstand and the authors who have “been there and done that,” I’m gently reminded that life is filled with both and believe it or not, both are necessary AND both are good.
Happiness celebrates the gifts given to us AND sadness brings honor to the loss of those gifts. Both are necessary AND both are good.
Back to that little bit of time when I stop the distractions once a week. It’s no wonder that I often find my true “all is well” place in those moments. Space to lean into the bad. A place to celebrate the good. God smack-dab in the middle of it, making breathing room for it ALL.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.
–St. Patrick’s Breastplate–
When one of your best friends writes you a poem and your love language is words of affirmation, you post it for the world to see.
Today we celebrate
My sweet friend E
The dearest of friends
Who could ever be
You are willing to go
Where many steer clear
To the heart of those
Far and near
Loving to you
Is connection and grace
At another’s pace
Desiring to connect
With another’s soul
Then sitting there quietly
Soft and yet bold
Wanting to know
What causes others tears,
What brings them joy,
Or heightens their fears
It’s in that place
You feels most alive
It’s in that place
We all watch you thrive
You enable others to travel
Where they may have not tried
Because you have gone there yourself
Refusing to hide
Leading while being
Right in the tough spots as well
You touch our hearts
Because you’ve been there yourself
So today I want to lift you up
And acknowledge who you are
The good, the bad, the ugly
Has brought you this far
A beautiful reminder
Where we’ve been,
Is sometimes hard
But if we will embrace life
If we nurture all those parts
We can live life quite bravely
Like my friend Esther’s
I love you!
Penned with love
By Maria Pascale for
People thought we were having an affair as we sat at the community pool and laughed and hugged and engaged in some seemingly very serious conversations, while snacks and towels and “look what I can do’s” piled up from the six children we had between us.
I guess they were kind of right. We did love each other very much. I was closer to you than almost any other man on this beautiful planet.
But they were also very very wrong.
You see, you were not my “lover,” as the gossipy types might have whispered about in the parking lot with soggy kids in towels yelling, “can we please go home now?”
You were my brother and one of my very best friends.
You still are.
Today is your 60th birthday. I’ve known you for 53 years, 11 months and 10 days, since the day I was born.
You were forced to be my brother, just because of sheer genetic willpower, but you chose every single day to be my friend. I can’t thank you enough.
You taught me how to ride a bike when I was just five and you were a big giant 10-year-old.
You were the one I went to crying when I wet my pants in class at boarding school. You told me it was going to be okay.
You were happy when I was your “little annoying sister” in the school play. You even helped me memorize my lines.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
You told me I was super smart and could be anything I wanted and not-so-secretly told me I should go to medical school when I was older.
You wrote me a long letter from college when I was a young teenage girl encouraging me that I was valuable and to cling to Jesus during those tumultuous years after you had learned some hard lessons during yours.
You included me in your wedding as a junior bridesmaid, making me feel like a grown-up and highly important.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
You had me and some boyfriend of mine over for dinner, inviting us to share your heart and your home once you were living on your own.
You became my actual pastor once I graduated from college and you had 200+ young career singles in your care. You taught me how to love God (even though you spit when you talked and I was sitting in the front row receiving all that lovely spray).
You co-signed a loan for my “new used” car after getting the call that I had totaled my other one.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
You performed my wedding and I’ll never forget the charge to us about the “fire covenant” we were making with each other.
You became my neighbor in a little sleepy town and we shared birthday parties and trick-or-treating, community pool jaunts (as you already read) and Christmas afternoons.
You wound up being the “watcher of my high schoolers” so that my hubs and I could have short getaways that probably saved our marriage.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
The bottom line is this. You were always there for me, in ways big and small, seeing me through the good and the bad and lots of the ugly.
I thought that was my favorite thing about you, but I was wrong.
When some really tough stuff came into your world, you did the most incredible thing of all. You allowed us to reverse roles just a little bit and made it okay for me to care for you the way you had taken care of me for so many many years.
Because of your humility and your bravery, I finally saw you, the amazing, kind, strong, faith-filled, vulnerable, tenacious, loving man that you are. It only made me love you more.
You, my friend and confidant, my cheerleader and my brother, are one of the best people I have ever known or will know.
The only thing that could be better than knowing you ALL of my life is if I had known you ALL of yours.
KEEP ‘EM COMING!!!
Grandmas drive two hours for a birthday party.
Grandmas wear their only “flannel” shirt for the festivities.
Grandmas stand in line for half an hour for twelve balloons to be blown up and then spend half an hour untangling them.
Grandmas ask “Alexa” to play the Blippi tractor song and then ask her to play it louder, singing along just to hear “again, again.”
Grandmas eat chicken nuggets and Rice Krispie treats and halves of grapes smashed onto plaid plates.
Grandmas learn how to capture Boomerang Instagram videos and put it all out there for the world to see.
Grandmas can’t believe they’re a grandma already, watching their daughter’s eyes sparkle with that indescribable mom love, as candles are lit and then blown out (I mean spit on).
Grandmas just can’t handle how cute that little face is and want to kiss it a million times, especially when it’s covered in green icing.
Grandmas clean Amazon out of every miniature tractor, truck, police car, backhoe and excavator and every shirt, pajama set and book with pictures of said things.
Grandmas give “see you later” hugs counting the moments until the next time, which can’t come soon enough.
When I see you, my eyes turn into little hearts! (The Internet)
Dearest Broden Bear,
Today you turn One! I just can’t believe it’s been a year since I held you in my arms at Hershey Medical Center and had that unexplainable BIG feeling that your arrival would change me forever, in all the very best ways.
Mommy and Daddy have kept you alive for 12 whole months, 52 weeks, 365 days! This is no easy undertaking now that your adventurous, free-spirited, “I-want-what-I-want”, curious and mobile self has taken over! Just less than 72 hours ago, your determination to climb the steps all by yourself led to a not-so-little tumble, complete with a bloody nose and a call to the doctor. Thankfully, you were back to your happy self very soon and went right back to the steps, not a care in the world.
I knew way back on November 18, 2017 that you would be cute. I knew you would be super special. But I didn’t know how easily and quickly my heart would be captivated by everything Broden:
- Your big blue eyes filled with wonder at anything new.
- Your six-toothed smile.
- The pleasure you expressed when eating pizza with us on Friday.
- The way you scrunch up your face.
- Your strong-willed cry when you don’t want me to leave the room.
- Bubbles of laughter during peek-a-boo!
- Your love of music already.
- The “look” of wariness when you are unsure of something.
- The way you snuggle into my neck.
- Your strong determination to get where and what you want.
- Your look of recognition and then happiness when you see me.
- Watching you giggle when you were playing with your new birthday toy last night!
One year ago, I found myself asking the questions, “What will you be like? What adventures will life bring you and you, in turn, bring to life?” You’ve already had so many adventures:
- rides in your Daddy’s 1985 Bronco
- staying up til midnight on New Year’s Eve (that might not happen again for a bunch of years)
- meeting your great-grandparents
- reading Press Here over and over and over (parents of young ones, buy this book…it’s genious)
- going to your first wedding
- eating a banana popsicle
- dressing up like a pirate with Mommy and Daddy
- putting your toes in the sand in LBI
- kissing your first fish
- loving the swing at the park
- eating Chik-Fila (if Daddy has anything to say about it, this will be a staple in your diet)
- dressing like twinsies with Daddy
- swimming in the pool at Allenberry Resort
- riding in your special bike seat behind Mommy and Daddy
- meeting a goat at Paulus Orchard
- having your first lollipop as Charlie Brown
And it’s not over . There are many many more to come! They have and will continue to range from hazardous to great, terrible to sweet, quiet to joyous, sad to wonderful, hard to exciting. One thing for sure: all of your adventures will be unique, because you, Broden, are one of a kind! But one thing I didn’t realize then was all the adventures you would bring to me! It’s been quite a ride already! Can’t wait for more!
Regardless of the kind of adventure you take, never forget above all that that you are extremely loved. The God who formed you has absolute and unconditional love for you. Nothing you can ever do will make Him love you less or love you more. He loves you just because you are you.
Your creative, smart, kind, hard-working, compassionate mommy and your free-spirited, adventurous, wise, level-headed, willing-to-grow daddy are absolutely head-over-heels in love with you. They will love you no matter what and nothing you can do will ever change that.
You also have grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who have loved you from the first moment of hearing about you. You will never find yourself in a place that you won’t be loved.
All of our eyes do turn into little hearts when we see you! It’s impossible for it to be otherwise!
Your inner soul anchored in this place of unconditional love will be of immense value for living your outer adventure to the fullest. Never forget that you have that safe place deep down inside that no one can take from you. Live in and from that place!
This year, on the day you turn one, I want to remind you again of the “bunch of verses” that God gave to me right when you were born. They are from God’s heart to mine and mine to yours:
From the day I heard about you, I have not stopped praying and making special requests for you.
I pray that…
you will be filled with a deep and clear understanding of His will for you, that you will have insight into the ways and purposes of God.
you would live how God designed you to live, from a fully-known and fully-loved place and that you would have complete trust in Him. This brings Him the most pleasure.
your life would bear much fruit from all your hard work.
you would have a full, deep and clear knowledge of God.
you will be invigorated and strengthened with all power from God so that you will have much patience and joy.
I thank God because He has made you fit to share in all that is His. He has brought you into His Kingdom, one that is filled with love.
(Colossians 1:9-14 – EJGV – “Esther Joy Goetz Version”)
Broden, how fun that you are ONE! I am so glad that you were born right before Thanksgiving. It’s perfect timing! Having you in my life gives me countless reasons to be thankful! Next November, you will be TWO and we will do this all over again! For now, I am off to your birthday celebration! Happy Birthday to you!!!
With all the love I have in my heart,
(Not sure what you will name me…maybe we will know by this time next year)
P.S. We took a picture of you every day for your first year. CLICK HERE TO WATCH YOUR SLIDE SHOW!