Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What Now

"Getting enmeshed in a resisting “no” and in the unanswerable “why me?” is a recipe for self-inflicted suffering." David Malham-ALS patient/former grief therapist.

He reminds me that "No" will return, making infrequent visits, but I must not feed them. 
Focus on What Now?
He reminds me;  I've never questioned the blessings. Why should I question the trials?
There is an appointed time for everything. 
It's time to heal.

Monday, March 19, 2018


I'll be returning home in a few weeks. Nothing will be the same. It won't be filled with my plans, my things, my people.
How does a 60-something on her own begin again after a devastating blow?
I planned to be a full-time, hands-on grandma with a full-time grandpa by my side in a house filled with Lego's and tea parties. I've been filling that bucket for a long time, but the hole of reality keeps draining the Dream.
Others look at their bright side of my reconstruction; please look at it through my life!
I can't find any gleaming redemption today.

There are only two alternatives: give up or reset.

Most of you know I'm brave enough to speak real and raw . There's always someone hanging by a thread who needs their ugly validated...who needs a fellow valley traveler.
One reader finds a local furniture shop specializing in one of a kind global pieces; she's ambushed once again, grieving the collection she amassed while working abroad.  She wanders the store, tears flowing, wanting more than her memories, wanting her own treasures to welcome her home.

I want my living, breathing treasures.

Then God whispers...or does He shout?  
A man without a home stops this "pitty partier" right dead in her tracks with one simple exclamation. 
Life is a gift...everyday, life is a gift!
And I realize I can't reset until I swallow whole this truth.
I've stopped counting the gifts...yet, there are so many to name.
I have a pulse; somewhere there's a new purpose.
I inhaled and exhaled first thing this morning; God will breathe life into my new home. 
My wise friend only dreams of four walls and a roof over his head, I've been gifted with a real live house!

Get up! Give thanks! Leave the rest to God.

I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.
Mark 2:11

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Twin Fruit

So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. Exodus 2:25 NIV
The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. Exodus 3:7 NIV
So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped. 4:31 NASB

Planning for an upcoming retreat, I ran across the word concern throughout the story of Moses.  The verb (paqad-cared enough to visit) intrigued me. After a rather lengthy search on the topic, leading me to the fruit of the Spirit, I am learning kindness and goodness can't be easily separated. 
You just can't have kindness (chrestotes -tender concern) without goodness (agathousune-uprightness of heart and life.)
Kindness is a tender(concerned) heart that naturally leads to goodness: kindness in action. 
Pretty heavy stuff when you think about it. If we are following the heart of God, we can't have passive concern. We act upon it. 
It's a lot more than manners; it's a matter of the heart.
Throughout Scripture, God repeats his deep concern for the heart of man: the spirit, the attitude, the motivation behind our actions. David writes that 'God searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.' (1 Chronicles 28:9)
So what is the state of my heart as I prepare for Easter?
What heart condition has God found in me that needs repair and remorse? Does He find delight in a heart in sync with His?  During this Lenten season, what kind of heart would you ask Him to create in you? A tender or pure heart...a giving or even, forgiving one?
Did you catch create in you in the last paragraph?  This whole twin fruit kind of living is a supernatural thing; we cannot attain it on our own. Paul testifies, "but it is Christ who lives in me." Galatians 2:20  As with all of the fruits of the Spirit, we must be filled so we can be emptied. The character of Christ flowing from us...Did you know generosity is a huge outpouring of these two fruits? Without Christ living in us, how quickly do our open hands fold into tightly clinched fists? Without a constant filling of the Spirit, our heart grows stingy.
Will you join me in asking the Lord to fill us with tender concern for others as we approach Passover and Holy Easter Week?
Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life...Psalm 23:6 KJV

Friday, February 23, 2018

Six months

Six months...and this is the progress on my home. At least there is some; many still can't find a contractor.
Many can't afford a professional builder.  The wait takes its toll.
We are so tired! I, personally, have slipped into an undeniable brain fog. I can't string two thoughts together, not to mention pick between Sherwin Williams' Crushed Ice and Simple White for future walls
What I most fear is that I'm too exhausted and broken to care for my family and friends even though I dearly want to be present in their lives. 
I think I speak for a good lot of Harvey victims survivors. The heavy malaise of six long months spreads through our neighborhoods and the recent rains have dampened spirits as well as debris- lined streets.  Even those back in their homes stare at floor to ceiling boxes just waiting to be unpacked. And then they realize on important days, like "dress like a cowboy" day that boots and hats never made it into cardboard homes. The still to do lists, purchases, tax considerations loom heavy. Harvey never ends!
In the midst of mass murder and devastating diagnoses, Harvey seems a bit insignificant, doesn't it? We really are thankful for the support of friends and strangers over the months. We really are...
But the realization of six months smarts a bit.
We're still a needy bunch; hugs and encouragement welcomed.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Yesterday...we all were looking for love, some in red envelopes, others in the ash.
I was busy spreading joy in my own corner of the world because living without my valentine is unbearable unless I choose to reach beyond the pain and love others.
While weaving valentine deliveries amidst the mundane, I was unaware that students and educators huddled in closets, texting their families frantic heart cries. Some their last.
Like many, I ended the day in sorrow. Once again, a senseless shooting shattered our peace.
This morning, questions lay unanswered.
Why God? Why does this have to happen over and over, especially to our children?
I want to huddle myself, hide from another tragedy.
How many can one personalize?
The usual indictments and solutions cover the airwaves this morning, yet, again, they fall short.
Where do I run when I can't find the answers?
Where do I run when the talking heads leave me weary?

I lift my eyes up to the hills, to my Maker.  Not for answers or solutions, but for help. Help to continue to feel the pain of others, help to continue to spread joy amidst the ashes. 
Chris Martin echoes: Still I always look up to the sky; pray before the dawn. 
I sit in the ashes of sorrow and look up!  To the only One who can heal the brokenness, who can keep us from evil. 
I enter this Lenten season looking up, praying before the dawn and into the night—laying bare my life to the One who keeps it. I pour out my sorrow for being part of the broken. Today, I don't seek answers; I seek the Answer. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams. Bing's version is still the best and the sappy song gets me every time it plays. 
When my travel plans were thwarted, I picked up the pieces of my broken heart and asked God to make a way for me to be in my own home, if even for a couple of days. He did not disappoint. 
It took some creativity and resourcefulness since I have open walls, no water heater and little kitchen. 
I just wanted my home. I packed up my beautiful wreath from the preschool department, my hilarious Santa from the Rogers and paper goods and baby wipes.  (Yes, a girl still has to take some sort of a bath.) I bought a butterfly chair and stool from the local sporting goods store and some comfort food.

Now I'm not kidding myself, Christmas alone in a drafty, dirty structure is hard. Ask Mary; her Christmas nursery was similar. 
But if I've learned anything these last few years, it's to embrace the hard. Move through it. Let it teach you.
Are you asking the obvious; Why would you subject yourself to the loneliness of this kind of Christmas?
A thousand times I asked the same and a lot of other questions as well. God, why do hurting people have to hurt others? Hasn't there been enough loss? Should I move?  and even, Should I remarry?!?
Truth be told, I turned down a host of invitations to share in friends' family Christmases, but I knew I'd be even lonelier, missing my people, my grand babies.
I entered this crazy idea knowing one huge truth: We meet Jesus in the loneliest places. 
The entire advent season I came to Bethlehem to see and I knew I most likely would find a lot of Jesus on this most unusual Christmas Day.
He did not disappoint me. He wrote His NAME all over his birthday. He provided memories of a home filled with His love, the kindness of a Starbuck's employee when I realized I forgot the coffee, the solace of the Scriptures.  Sometimes, He's awfully hard to find in the flurry of holiday. Oh, but in the still...
I've lived long enough to realize Christmas plans can come crushing down...unexpected illness...unexpected loss...unexpected weather, so I don't bank my joy on one day anymore. 
Christmas joy is that hidden gift mistakenly left under the tree. Waiting to be unwrapped the day after and after and after. Waiting in the hard...waiting for a home.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Charles Wesley

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I remember it well. My friend and former pastor sat amid piles of wrapping paper on a beautiful Christmas morning. Christmas fell on Sunday that year and we postponed our normal routine to gather at Westbury Baptist Church. 
I paraphrase Dick's question to the congregation that morning—so what do we have left when all of the presents have been opened? 
Fast forward to this December...
There are no trappings; there are no walls. Hurricane Harvey swept away the likeliness of a familiar Christmas for many of us.  Other storms have cast a shadow over our celebrations; illness, death, brokenness shatter our Hallmark holiday.
We miss our mantels filled with shiny balls and evergreen, our stockings hung in a tidy row. Our trees no longer stand in the corner, decked with ornaments collected over a lifetime. There sits an empty seat at the table.

The premise of Dick's question still stands regardless of the circumstances.
What remains?
What cradles our souls when all seems lost?
What kindles joy when dreams never become reality?
What remains?
An infant king...a guiding star...hope found in a feeding trough and so many more gifts that lay ready to be unwrapped.  

Come to Bethlehem and see
 Replace the mountains of gift wrap for simple swaddling cloth
Like Simeon of old, let's embrace promise fulfilled

You may have your merry little Christmas, but the manger offers so much more...lasting hope and healing.
Oh, won't you come and see?
Abandon the lists and rest in His presence. This little Babe who journeyed to the Cross will not rob your joy or leave you exhausted. He promises to carry you through the loss and loneliness of this season. 
Oh, won't you come and see?
Come to Bethlehem and see...