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Category Archives: Life

Wings

It is Monday and I’m thinking of you. You, the mother wiping crumbs off counters — the remnants of PB & J’s made for hungry mouths which will be asking for more food just as you finally walk out of a clean kitchen. You, the woman who fought the guilt of leaving your 2-year-old at daycare this morning so that you can attend yet another day of work. You, the woman in Uganda, trying to bring home her son and aching for her daughters back home in the States. You, the mother who, frustratingly, fought the urge just to suction up your daughter’s darn Squinky conveniently lying in your vacuum’s direct path. You, the mother awakened by your crying baby four exhausting times in the middle of the night.  You, the woman still waiting for children and wondering if you’ll ever be blessed with them. You, the woman who aches for your husband just to know God as the Love-God and not just a detached, Authoritarian Father-figure. You, the woman just wanting a husband. You, the woman waiting for direction. The woman fighting fear. The woman wanting to do more than just make it through another day.

 

You.

Yes, you.

I know you don’t feel it right now, but you are more than Superwoman.

 

You are more than Superwoman because the Spirit of God, the God of space, who knows no time, the God who knows our every need and every weakness, every frustration, no matter how big or small . . . that very Supernatural Love in a Person, upholds you. No, this life He’s called you to, it doesn’t always feel like soaring on the winds (although, when it does, pay attention); this life in Christ is more like step-by-step determination and reliance. But you are equipped for this very real life. You are equipped for every squinky on the floor, every child in Uganda, every time you put your child in another caretaker’s arms, every aging parent’s doctor’s appointment, every lonely night.

 

You can fly higher than SuperWoman. 

 

Because when we dig deepest into the most mundane, the most difficult of our callings, the most trying surrender of our wills, His eye catches sight of His falling sparrow. And when we fall lowest, falling deepest into the depths of real and living trust, we see just how long His everlasting Arms really are.

 

He always catches.

 

And when we’re caught, He spins and sings and laughs and in His breathtaking way, throws us high, back into the blue. We relax in His ways. We learn to trust, mid-air, and we catch the true rhythm of our wings.

 

We fly high.

Thoughts from a Girl in the Woods

We pull into the driveway after a busy day right in the middle of a hectic few weeks. Our yard looks like a jungle. I sigh, somewhat despairingly, somewhat longingly,

“I have got to spend some time in our yard,” I say.

Firefly pipes right up.

“So you can get a breath, Mama?”

I smile, a bit startled at her astuteness, realizing that yes, subconsciously, that is what I wanted. Just to catch a breath.

Yes,” I reply. “A very, deep breath.”

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The wildlife in my backyard does not encroach upon my habitat, but we sit right in the middle of theirs. An intimidating, Tennessee version of a rainforest, lives just off our deck. We stand at the windows and watch the deer graze. Their ears perk at our murmuring and we are the ones behind the glass and they observe us like we are the tourist attraction. Today, the butterflies, flutter and float, sipping from the second butterfly bush blooms of the summer. The birds finally discover that their long-deserted birdhouse is once again filled with seed and they eat and flit, excited, I think, to tell their friends. I can hear the birds’ grapevine for myself, the trees full of extra chirping and whistling. I linger outside, just wanting to soak in all the life.

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And the sweet hustle and bustle of life being given more life.Image

I realize that my daughter is right: life does beg for more life in one form or another. When God created each living thing on this earth by His spoken word, it was good. When He actually breathed His life into the nose of Adam, His very breath was inhaled by human lungs, forever to be breathed in and out, in and out. And when we are most exhaled, the most drained, the most fatigued, whether by responsibility or relationship, what we are most craving is more life. Fresh breath to inhale. And then to exhale.

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When my children are most driving me crazy and when I most want my own space and most want them just to please be quiet, what I’m really wanting is perfect, tidy relationship. What they are usually wanting, is simply more of me.

More life.

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Perhaps it is the same in most relationships. When relationship seems most dead and most impeded by whatever, and we most want to walk away, maybe what we’re most desiring is just the strength for someone to enter in. To breathe life or to have life breathed into us.

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Maybe it’s never too late. Maybe God gives us second summer blooms, or seed in our deserted birdhouses. Maybe where we thought no life was, there’s still a space for possibility. Maybe we just need to revisit.

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Maybe we’ll find something there….

Processing Freedom and Grace

I don’t write this post for any sympathy or empathetic comments. I write it because I know I’m not alone and maybe you and I can process together??

 

It’s been one of those kind of weeks. The kind where you’re just left depleted and you feel there’s nothing left to give. Your very soul is raw and sore . . . the kind of sore you’d imagine from a deep surgical incision. You’ve received somewhat alarming news, your toddler just doesn’t *get* how to pee in the potty and you’ve cleaned carpets and sofas and several pairs of underwear a day. You get your feelings deeply hurt in a creep-up-on-you sort of way and you feel like the doormat whose “Welcome” was stomped on the way through the door. Your life feels like it’s been hijacked and how do you get off this plane ride and regain control? Where do your boundaries lie, and more importantly, where do your *loyalties* lie and how much do you push yourself to keep on giving, or how do you find the strength to just say, “no” ?

 

Familiar words seep through and begin to fill:

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Oh. Oh yeah. Just pray. So I do.

 

I sit Dove-turned-Pixie on the bathroom counter and cut little toenails straight across. I knock glass and it falls, straight into the sink, shattering open. It’s my favorite perfume and it all washes right down the same drain where I spit my toothpaste. I want to cry. Perfume’s expensive and this one in particular was a Christmas present and I can’t believe it was me and not two-year-old Pixie who breaks the bottle.

 

The irony is not lost on me. The perfume’s name is Amazing Grace.  I walk into the bathroom a few minutes later and I can smell its sweetness, resting in the air. But not because I released it slowly, spritzing it on my neck and wrists. It was violated. Violently spilled down porcelain and now it’s gone.

 

And I realize, I’ve been literally shattering myself down the drain, trying to be that Grace. I try hard to be the bottle itself. I try to give it all away til there’s nothing left in me to give and I feel emptied way too fast. I know this is not a rare feeling. I think it’s one of Woman’s most beautiful strengths and one of her strongest vices – trying to be all and fill all and love all.

No one else has depleted me. I’ve depleted myself. There’s only One who has already violently poured down Grace – and rather than wasted disaster, it was perfect rescue. The rest of us, we’re finite, and grace has to first be poured on us before we can share it with anyone else. I can only bestow little grace-spritzes from the Source. It seems obvious, but how hard I, Woman, fight it:

 

I am not the Source.

I am not the Source.

I am not the Source.

 

 

I sniff the remaining scent of Amazing Grace and I shed a few tears. Not because of the lost perfume (well, okay, yes, mostly because of the perfume), but because He gently shows me that Freedom does not come from complete self-sacrifice or giving your life away to every person’s needs. There *is* joy and freedom in those things, if we’re doing those things for all the right reasons, but otherwise we’re imprisoning ourselves to everyone’s whims.

 

No, freedom comes from allowing Him to be the Grace toward all we love. And if we’re lucky, we get to spritz some grace too.

Summer

There’s a clamor in the tree across the street. Squirrels give chase and flirt along the branches. Dew awakens the lilies before the coffee percolates and early-risers conquer the neighborhood streets with “Good mornings” and “Stay cool today!”s. A doe pauses from her woodland breakfast to survey her view. It’s summer and it’s a beautiful morning.

The dew has long been dried and the soil cracks a bit. Hummingbirds dip their heads in and out of the feeder, readying for another flower-dart. A slight breeze sways the trees and everyone stills, escaping the heat. The ever-busy bees buzz headlong into the window’s glass, their flights never halted to even gather their senses. It’s summer. It’s hot. And it’s the afternoon.

The grill lights. Watermelon’s sliced. The sprinklers offer happy hour drinks and the fans whirr, chasing the heat. The fireflies dance to the choir of the crickets and the toads belt out their bass song too. The deer search for clover again and we draw out the day with stories and tickles. It’s summer. It’s evening, and it was the best of days.

Breathing Deep

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A little Michael Buble, or even a bit of old school Sinatra. Some fun Jack Johnson.

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And a quick glance through recent photos….

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And I catch my breath. Maybe for the first time since that awful news in November.

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I realize that, yes, someone we were expecting to be holding right about now was taken away. Image

But my arms are full. I love that little one from a different angle too. My life is not perfect, by anyone’s standards. But I am loved.

And I take the dare to love again.

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We *live*.

live again.

And we fix and prepare days and memories and yummy summer food.

And I kiss and I am kissed.

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I feel my lungs take in deep, full breaths of the best air we can ever breathe:

joy in blessings. Big and small.

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I think it’s called hope for a future.

Thanks for the present.

Acceptance of the past.

Giving it all to Him.

This is joy.

A Day Wrapped in a Bow

Today offers us an unexpected gift. Just to be home, the three of us girls. Little women with braids and pig tails color in the kitchen and take imaginary day-trips to make-believe ice-skating rinks along with well-loved baby dolls. I let anxiety rise over this very lived-in house and wonder why I just can’t seem to catch up . . . wonder why I spend so much trying when I never seem to succeed. Little voices call “Mama!” from across the house and I roll my eyes as I mop the Pine-Sol and shower water currently dripping down my arm. I mutter, wondering when they’ll ever learn to seek and find me, rather than yelling across the house. I smirk now, remembering my mother wondering the very same thing.

 

I wash and change bed sheets and vacuum dust out of wall corners . . . add a few things to my resident Good Will bag sitting in the closet, for some reason feeling this great need to organize and freshen and live in peace. And even though days like this make me feel a bit restless and I mutter and complain, wishing I could just be left some quiet in order to complete my tasks in a timely manner, I realize that this is what makes a home. Little ones underfoot. Taking a few minutes to potty train and read a book, clean the shower, color on the kitchen floor, scrub a toilet, look for a missing doll, vacuum dust bunnies out of the corner, change a diaper, fix some lunch, make another mess, wipe crumbs from the kitchen counter.

 

This is peaceful homemaking at its best. I will enjoy the day.

 

The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.

~Thomas Moore

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

~1 Corinthians 10:31

Living It

(I wrote this several months back. It’s funny how a few months can change you. Refine you. Teach you. Today, my girls don’t nap and I still wipe up crumbs and fold underwear. I rush out the back door several times throughout this day and coax our car’s engine to ignore the cold, while still trying to find a time to bare the Christmas tree…. But they smile over silly, little things, their daddy-given dimples lighting me up. And I feel it. Yes. This is it.)

 

I remember how tired I was. Newborn baby in the sling, resting against my chest, and the two-year-old running wild in the milk aisle. I can still feel my tight hand-grip on the grocery cart and how I wrestled, trying to keep both it and my out-of-reach daughter in line, while trying not to wake the babe. It was dreary cold out. I was worn thin.

 

My eyes met those of an elderly woman who seemed to be surveying us in that milk aisle. I was too frazzled to make small talk.

 

But do you know what she had the gall to come up and say to me?

 

“Honey, enjoy every minute. This is the best time of your life.”

 

Now I’m not usually the type of girl who gets riled very easily. But just then, I really wanted to screech, “How can you be so cruel to say that me right now? Don’t you know I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in weeks? That my body is literally worn out? That my husband and I have barely had time to look each other in the eyes?! That I’m here in the milk aisle just trying survive this grocery trip and you say these are the best moments of my life?!?!” I don’t even remember what I actually said to the woman, but I was too tired to scream, so instead, I muffled my soul’s unbelief and gave the typical Southern smile and probably said something about how, yeah, I was trying to savor the moments.

 

To be honest, the woman’s words stuck like unwanted syrup on the outside of a glass syrup bottle, and until recently, still conjured up a twinge of panic whenever they surfaced to mind.

 

What if she’s right? This??? This could be the best time of my life?

 

Because my days are merely filled with wiping bottoms and folding underwear, sweeping floors and serving PB and J’s on Winnie-the-Pooh plates.

 

But recently, I picked up Laura Bush’s memoir, Spoken from the Heart. Whether or not you side with her husband in his politics, it is hard for anyone to deny that the former first lady has lived an intriguing life . . . doing things, visiting places, meeting world leaders and attending spectacular events that few of us will ever have the opportunity to experience.

 

And do you know what she wrote? After serving as the First Lady of the United States of America for two terms and having lived probably the most exciting time of her life, she reminisces on the first few months of parenting their twin girls:

Every morning before dawn, George would get up to make the coffee, as he had done from the start of our marriage; then he would go get the girls and carry them into our bed. We’d each hold a baby and drink our coffee while they drank their bottles, with the morning news droning quietly in the background. The start of the day was reserved for just the four of us. Those early mornings were some of the sweetest times in our lives.

 

My breath catches as I read her words.

 

That’s what I am living. Feeding hungry little tummies. Sipping coffee. Living side-by-side with the man I love. The words of the Wal-Mart lady wash over me and I realize her words just may be true.

 

And I wonder.

 

What if I lived every moment like it just might be the ______-est moment of my life?

 

Maybe every moment in our lives is *THE* something. The sweetest time. The busiest time. The most exciting time. The most difficult time. The craziest vacation. The most intimate Christmas. The stupidest recipe mistake. The wisest parenting moment. The tastiest dinner. The most hilarious date. The funniest Monday.

How will I embrace it?

The Only Steady

The house is quiet and full tummies rise and fall after a big Sunday lunch. Cool sheets surround warm bodies on a hot, August Sunday, but I patter in my kitchen and pull warm cookies from the oven. I find a peaceful catharsis in baking. I always have. I spatula-scrape peanut butter and chocolate chips off metal and carefully place onto my Pfaltzgraff. I feel just-under-the-surface full. Not Sunday-lunch full, but like any moment, I just might burst into tears, or maybe laugh until my sides hurt. Full to the brim with some sort of deep longing. Some sort of  exquisite pain. Some sort of undeniable peace. A sustaining comfort. An unbridled joy. I question the calendar days. No, it’s not that. It’s just life. This beautiful, sometimes heart-rending, sometimes joy-filled life.

 

In the last eight days . . . two weddings, one funeral, the daily housewife life, an adventure with a longtime friend who’s expecting her baby boy just any minute, a stay-cation with this gift of a family, some wonderful girl time with amazing friends, jumps on a trampoline, a new church service, evident sadness on mothers’ faces who are sending their once-little kids off to college for the first time, funny shows, the tops of pines swaying against the blue Georgia sky . . . don’t you have this life too? The way it sometimes just seems to slip, day into another day, and then, WHAM!, it’s all of life and what it’s made of all at once? The constant ebb and flow. The giving and the letting go.

 

How to live a life of faith and grace in grief? How to live a life of faith and grace in beauty?  In a marital spat? Hurt feelings? Loving friendships? Watching your children grow at warp speed and just wanting to put them in a bottle and place a mound of bricks on their heads?

 

The only thing I know.

 

Cling.

 

Your Beautiful Life

For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Hebrews 3:14

We were newlywed neighbors. Just a couple doors down and about fifty years apart. When I told you that Jonathan and I had moved into that honeymoon nest of an apartment of ours, you giggled and those blue eyes of yours sparkled. The memories of your own newlywed days in that same brick row of apartments brought a certain calm happiness to your voice as you reminisced with me about barbecues with your friends on the green lawn. You told me I’d love it there.

I did.

You’d come to the doctor’s office occasionally, to see another doctor in the practice, and when I’d get a minute (somehow I always knew when you were there), I’d sneak away from that desk of mine and run over to see you. I’d give you a knowing look and ask how your doctor was treating you and you’d give me that side-long glance of yours and ask me how that doctor of mine was treating me. The difference was, you were seeing a doctor for your health and I was merely working for one.

Then, after Firefly was born, you and Billy came to visit. I remember you both, walking up that L-shaped sidewalk, Billy with that certain little gait of his, and you in all your calm vivaciousness. You graced our small living room and sat on our enormous green couch and held our new bundle of pink and said all the things a new mother loves to hear. Those seemingly small gestures of yours . . . they meant the world.

I didn’t know you as well as some others. And I feel a bit out of place here, sharing anything about your life, while the entire church reels at the aftershocks of your passing. But I can’t stop thinking about your beautiful life. You were just that kind of person. Even if a person didn’t know you intimately, what they did know of you, they just simply loved. We couldn’t help ourselves. I can still hear your “HI!, Darlin’!!!” when I’d walk through the church nursery doors . . . you, decades older than all of us young moms, but there anyway, serving children as you’d been doing in this community for longer than most of us moms have been alive. You’d greet me from across the classroom and in your spunky, “glad to see you” steps, you’d patter over to the door and you’d ask me again how to pronounce my girls’ names. And you’d sort of shake your head in disbelief . . . I’ve never been sure if that little head-shake of yours was at how I’d named my girls such unusual names, or at the fact that you could never remember just how to pronounce them. It didn’t matter.

Because Firefly, the one you had in class all last spring just loved Miss Mancy, as she called you. She couldn’t wait for Wednesday morning Bible Study so she could go see you . . . and  watch Veggie Tales. 🙂 Often, when I’d come back to the nursery to pick up my girls, we’d all be tired and hungry and I’d have a difficult time getting the little ones out the door and into the car without a bit of a meltdown. Even while chatting with all the other moms coming to retrieve their little ones . . . did you notice?

One day, I came to pick up Firefly and you came to the half-door and just said, “That Firefly.” And you sort of smacked your lips with this proud kind of look and that side-long glance on your face again. “Don’t you just LOVE her?!”

Did you know that I needed a reminder that my oldest is one of God’s own wonderful creations? Full of her own gifts and talents and that she is more than just a little person to be herded from the nursery classroom to the car? Because you made me stop dead in my tracks and I know my very soul paused in all its frenzy. That someone would love my child like that and take the time to make sure I knew…. You made me love my own little girl all the more – helped me honor that little soul of hers all the more. Yes, you served our children and it kept you young . . . but you served us in your serving.

Now, your race is done and we reflect on the beauty of your steps and thank God for the places where your tread crossed each of ours.

I hope you know.

You are sorely missed.

Morning by Morning

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Mornings.

Every one.

More compassion.

More prying away of all we hold on tight,

all we think we need.

All we think we know.

Water, cold, refreshing, splashes awake.

Coffee percolates.

Romans.

All grace and how faith fulfills all the rules we cannot keep.

Throw a load in.

Washer spinning, cleansing all the dirty, preparing for another day of play.

Repot the rescue plant, pray for life.

Repot the older plants, roots deep, all the way through the soil, needing fresh space, room to grow fuller, to bloom once again.

All of them, lined up.

Still.

Soaking in the morning sun.

Breathing deep the fresh aerated soil.

He sets us free from things that bind.

Liberates us from our self-made pots, giving us room to bear more life.

Not mere sustaining life.

Not mere sufficient life.

Life abundant.