Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Dishes are not my favorite.  However, we have four kids, and I enjoy cooking but hate a messy kitchen, so I do a lot of them.  Grudgingly.

In attempts to change my attitude, I have reminded myself of Brother Lawrence who worshipped God even in menial tasks.  And the whole bit about “whatever you do… do it as unto the Lord.”   A clip from the movie “Return to Me” will even run through my mind—the part when Grace’s grandfather tells her he is “blessed with work.”

I still loathe doing the dishes.   They just seem so overwhelming.  And infinite.

They didn’t bother me today.

You see, the back of my mind is haunted with these words, “Someone walked into a school and shot six-year-old babies.” 

I’m sorry if it seemed as though my last post was my way of wrapping it all up and moving on.  I promise I will write about other things another day, but for now I’m still stuck here.  So I write.

I have cried.  And cried some more.  And my heart is grieved.  And part of me feels like I don’t have the right to cry like that because my children are okay.

But I do not feel okay.

I taught those loveable, squirmy, sweet, enthusiastic, wide-eyed six and seven-year-olds.  Twice a week I now tutor them.  And two of my own are  first graders.  This all just hits so close to home.

The past two days I heard sirens drive past my house, and both days I wondered if they were going to my children’s school just down the road.  I sat next to my six-year-old in her school cafeteria today and felt like I couldn’t love her enough or drink in her first-grade ramblings deep enough for that half hour we shared.  When my third-grader jumped up to run out of the cafeteria to retrieve his forgotten jacket, I fought the feeling that he might not be safe going out that door.

I realize that school shootings do not happen every day.  But it did happen.  And sometimes in one way or another life is ripped away most prematurely and unexpectedly.

Today when I did the dishes, I felt so very grateful for the dishes of these children that I love so much.  One day these littles will no longer live in my house with their laughter and craziness and cuddles and mess, and that day may come sooner than I wish.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Caught up in the busyness of the morning, I had forgotten about last Friday.  That is, until the radio jarred my memory on our drive to school.  Arriving home the awful tragedy was there again all over the internet.  Funerals for six-year-olds. Grieving parents.  Questions as to why.

And I wept and prayed.  For the children.  And their families.  And the brokenness of it all.  But to be honest, I also cried because it could have been one of my friends who teach, or my students, or even me or my children.

Christmas is just over a week away.  This season of the year supposedly marked by “peace on Earth and goodwill toward men,” seems so horribly marred by bloodshed and violence.  Our world is terribly broken, and that by our own doing.

And as a mother, I want to do everything possible to protect and shield my children from an unsafe world.  And at the same time, I know how utterly impossible that is.

Yet these words echo in my mind…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Even as violence rocks our world and hope seems far from us, we must not allow evil to warp our hearts nor cause us to live in fear.  Let us instead shine as lights in the darkness.  Jesus went about doing good and healing all.  Jesus gives us His peace which does not fade in spite of the turmoil around us.  In the face of darkness, we must love as He loved, preach as He preached, heal as he healed, and pray as He prayed for God’s kingdom to come here on Earth.  We must be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people of a hurting and broken world.  Let us not only proclaim to be Christians by our words, but let our everyday lives impart the story of who Christ is by our actions.

Please do not interpret my words as a promise for safety or as a trite promise to bring world peace.  Quite the contrary, Jesus was betrayed by one of his own and crucified.  Many of the early followers of Christ were martyred and still more are martyred today.  We live in the tension between a fallen world where God’s redemption breaks through--yet not in its fullness. 

When I dropped my children off at school this morning, I prayed for them as I do every morning, even as my heart aches in sending them out into this world.  That they would learn more about God and the world that He made.  That they would know in their hearts how much He loves them.  And that their friends would see the love of Jesus in their words and in their actions.  

He is the only peace and hope that we can cling to.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The not-so-planned edition

On the off chance you haven’t noticed already, I am a planner—except for certain areas of my life in which the pendulum swings in the complete opposite direction, and I kind of slap something together last minute the best I can.

Children’s birthday parties fall into the aforementioned not-a-planner category.

Immediately after my oversight, I think about how I would like to be more on top of things next year, but the outcome is always the same:

One month before individuals birthday: Oh, so-and-so’s birthday is coming up.

Two-to-three weeks before said birthday: Ask child what they want to do for their birthday.

One week before birthday: Crap! So-and-so’s birthday is in a week!  I haven’t (called the location, sent invitations, planned or bought anything, let alone make any cutesy things from Pinterest).

This year one of my girls wanted to invite friends from school.  Read: mothers I don’t know attending the party.  And yes, I still went through above steps like I do year after year, inwardly cringing and trying not to worry about what they might think about our scaled down version of children’s birthday parties.  

To be completely honest with you, I have never been one to focus on presentation.  No one has ever accused me of emulating Martha Stewart.  If you come over, my house will be fairly clean and neat, and I will serve you delicious food.  However, I cannot promise that you will be served on cutesy plates or that my cakes, though delicious, will not be lopsided.  My girls’ hair will be brushed, but most likely not be braided, in a ponytail, or in any other stylish fashion.  And they may or may not be wearing perfectly matching clothes, because I’m okay with letting them dress themselves.

Our choices don't bother me until other people's eyes are watching. What will they think because we don't..?  I fear they are judging my mothering skills or my love for my children because we do life differently than they do.  And this little voice in the back of my head wants me to worry about everything not being "perfect."

Christmas is almost here.  More than any other time of year, the pressure is on to have the house just-so.  You absolutely must have a Christmas activity planned for each day, Elf-on-the-Shelf cleverly posed, a Jesse tree, Advent readings, homemade gifts for teachers and neighbors, 12 days of Christmas for your hubby, and the perfect gifts and crafts for your children.

“Too much of a good thing” is a very real possibility.  It's enough to make a sane person go mad.  I want you to stop.  Take a breath.  Step back.  What really makes your heart happy?  What adds value to your family?  Make these decisions based on your family, not mine or anyone else’s.  Let the rest go.  I promise you the world will not come crashing down around you.

The kids helped decorate the Christmas tree tonight.  This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  I love how the ornaments on the tree—popsicle sticks, glitter, and photos mixed with the more delicate items—tell the story of our family.  It may not look perfect, but it’s our masterpiece.  And there are only a few short years before this tradition is only a memory.

As far as the birthday party?  When asked, the birthday girl said it was “the best birthday party ever.”  I guess that puts it all in perspective.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Journey

52 miles. 54 bridges. Most of them one-lane. Over 600 hairpin turns.  "It's about the journey not the destination," is the advice given by locals before starting the road to Hana.  Rounding one of the blind curves, plunging drop-off edging one side of the road and  brick wall the other, I thought we would surely die as an oncoming car raced by, narrowly missing us.

It's about that journey?

The one where I feel completely out of control?

The one where I wonder what will become of our children should we plummet to our death?

Yes, that one.

The one with hike-in waterfalls

gorgeous ocean views
My husband in front of one of the breathtaking views.

fresh pineapple juice with real sugar cane

tropical gardens

Seven Sacred Pools

and secluded drive back into the sunset.

But if you don't slow down and enjoy the journey you'll miss it.

Fresh in my mind is a September day three years ago. 

It was a day. Spilt milk. Dropped banana bread. Temper tantrum. Train. Late to work.  Students not following directions. Worked through lunch. Meeting at conference period. My own tired kids. Grocery store. Walgreens. Busy day. all. day. long. 

But something happened that night at the grocery store that helped, even if just a little.  The kids were cranky and fighting. Again. The bagger asked if I wanted help to the car--YES.  

But he didn't just push the car-cart out to the car. He pretended it was a real car and swerved and added sound effects and spun my kids around.  He left my kids begging, "Can we do that again next time?" and wanting to know his name.  I was tired and so done, and he made my kids' day.  And in doing so he made mine as well.

Sometimes we're so focused on the difficult road in front of us that we miss the views, the waterfalls, and all the other good along the way.  We forget about the joy in the journey.

The children's letter verse this week calls out to me from behind its magnet on the refrigerator  "Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become pure and blameless, children of God..." (Philippians 2:14-15)

You see, my tendency is to complain.  When the kids are here, it's too busy and chaotic.  When they're gone, it's too quiet and dull.  When my husband tells me he has to work late, my first reaction is one of discontent instead of thankfulness for God's provision.  Instead of living in the present moment, I look for something more or different.

When Paul told us to do everything without complaining or arguing, I don't think he said it with the intent of binding us to a religious rule.  I think he said it because he knew the bitter pill we swallow when we chose to wallow in discontentment.

Philippians 4:13 is often quoted, but we hear less frequently the verse before it, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me  strength." (11-13)

God gives us strength for the journey.  Strength to find our contentment in Him and not our circumstances.  To thank Him for the good gifts He gives instead of complaining about the struggles.  So that we may become blameless and pure, His very own children.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The most political post I will ever write

I don't really want to write this post.  But these thoughts have been stirring in my head, and my heart is at unrest, and last night's conversation with friends seemed like confirmation that I should.

Here's the deal: I don't know that I really consider myself a Republican anymore.  Before my conservative friends get too bent out of shape, I don't consider myself a Democrat either.  I feel I cannot agree with either party straight down the line on each and every issue.

Additionally, I'm tired of both parties using God as a campaign strategy.  And I'm tired of Christians on either side of the fence blaming those on the other side and looking for a president to solve the moral issues with our country and right the social wrongs.

A donkey and an elephant make poor representations of the true Savior of the world.

When Jesus walked this earth, the Jewish people were looking for Him to overthrow the Romans and establish justice through an earthly kingdom.  But Jesus had something bigger in mind.  He knew that true change can't be enforced from the outside, regulated by man.  How many times did the Israelites botch that one?  

Change has to come from the heart.

Am I saying that Christians shouldn't vote or shouldn't vote according to what they believe?  Am I saying there is not right and wrong?  Absolutely not.  By all means, do the research, pray for God to give you wisdom, and vote.

What I am saying is this: maybe we focus too much on looking to a political candidate to solve the problems of this nation, when it is more important for us as individuals to live out the Gospel in our daily lives.  It is easier to point the finger at others or expect them to do the work for us than it is to take an honest look at how we ourselves are living.

Jesus said all of the law and prophets depend on this: to love the Lord our God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  That is the true hope for our world.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's over, but not really

Funny how 7 weeks of challenges can stretch over an entire summer.  This was my second read of 7: an experimental mutiny against excess.  This past May I had just written a blog post about wrestling through some questions from the first chapter when I happened upon the blog hop for “Summer of 7.”  It seemed too convenient to be a mere coincidence, so I took the hint and jumped in, and just three months later, here I am at my final post.

This experience has been life-changing for me.   It came at a time when my heart was crying out, “I want to live more like Jesus.”  Which led me to the question, “How did Jesus actually live?” and motivated me to read through the gospels again.

If you want to have your heart wrenched out of your chest, I challenge you to do the same.  Start at Matthew.  Read a chapter a day.  Slowly, not like they’re the same words you’ve heard since you were a child.  Meditate on the words of Jesus.  Start letting Him guide you to actually live them.

I’m not saying that I have this all figured out or have the exclusive bead on what it means to live like Jesus.  But I am foolish enough to believe that I can change the world. And to try to accomplish just that.  I am fortunate to be a part of a church whose members already have the poor and hurting on their hearts, and who already reach out in so many different ways.  So I recruited the help of some of my dear friends, and here are some of the exciting things we’ve started:

Community Lunch- This month our small group teamed up with the Young Adults Small Group and the woman who does our Adopt-A-Block outreach to provide a meal for members of our body who are unemployed and underemployed.  We invited and brought people living in the run-down motels close to our church to come eat with us and worked on building relationships with them. 

We have as our example Jesus, who ate with the marginalized and the sinners.  He said to invite those who don’t have the means to repay you when you host a dinner.  (Luke 14:12-14) When you eat with someone, you share more than just a food.  You invite them to be a part of getting to know you and you them.  We loved it so much we’re going to keep doing it once a month.

Swap Meet- In just a couple of weeks our Women’s Council is hosting our very first Swap Meet to encourage people to purge their excess and share with others.  We are going beyond the traditional swap with friends and inviting all to participate whether or not they have stuff to share, using the early church as our example who shared with each other so that there was no one in need among them. (Acts 2:45)  Not only is this event reducing excess in the areas of possessions, spending, and waste, but is also another opportunity to show the tangible love of Christ to others.

I suggested the book to my friend who has hosted the Summer Book Clubs at our church, who in turn read it and forced encouraged others to read it.  She happens to make little girl’s dresses which are oh-so-adorable and an opportunity to serve others using her gifts fell into her lap.  (You can read more of her amazing 7 God story here.) Suffice to say that when I want to buy my girls new dresses, I will be calling her because that’s exactly the kind of person I want to support with my dollars.

Personally, I have made changes or am working through changes in all of the areas that Jen Hatmaker addresses in her book.  Not exactly the same way she did, but the way God is pulling and tugging at my heart to change.  I could probably make this post twice as long as it is right now, but let me sum up the rest for you.  Reading 7, reading the words of Jesus, and making a decision to actually do something about it has changed and is changing my life and the lives of my friends.  Because you know what, Jesus actually knew what He was talking about.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Quiet

As of noon yesterday all of our children have left to go to their other parent’s. The quiet resounds. Time alone once anticipated now intrudes and bothers. Two whole hours and I can barely stand it. Sharing children is part of the unnatural aftermath of divorce, life oscillating between a roar and a whisper. 

I hide from the whisper. 

I long to fill the silence, to ignore its very existence, yet in the quiet is when the resolution comes. It’s when the Maker speaks His truth. 

What is there to be gained by filling it with meaninglessness? I know what He has for me, yet I push away instead of drawing closer. 

Do I fear what He might say? Do I not believe what He says? 

Or do I fear being alone and attempt to fill the silence to mask its existence? 

Trading the voice of Truth for a lie, I cling to the fear that I am abandoned. Unloved. Alone. In the quiet, I must face my own weakness. 

But the Father is asks me to let go. Release the hurt, fears, pain, lies, and shortcomings and accept His identity—to trade my ashes for beauty, my fear for His strength. 

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13) 

It’s in the quiet that he calls to us. 

Soccer practice, church meetings, work, club meetings, committee meetings, classes, social events—we pack every single minute of every single day full of noise and busyness. Filling the quiet is our specialty. Lulls in conversation create such discomfort, we grasp at straws to avoid the silence with questions as to the weather or one’s health. 

Maybe it’s because we’re afraid. We’re afraid to answer the question, “What are you doing here?” Maybe if we just keep filling up our emptiness with more and more busyness we can avoid having to answer that question. 

Yet it is our Creator who holds the answer to that question, “What are you doing here?” He is the one who tells us our story. And He urges us to rest, to pause from the busy schedule and all of our labors and the noise and stress that goes along with it. 

To listen. 

And to hear His voice. 

To pray and to worship. 

So we can be renewed.