BRAVE

This, the prayer of my heart as I languish through a day of feeling “less than”:

Be brave.

Be strong.

Don’t give up.

Expect God to get here soon. (Psalm 31)

Embrace tears. They wash clean. And know that even in these insidious moments where you doubt every step and promises whispered in dark spaces, there is redemption. There is hope.

Do hard….because greater is HE that is in you than he that is in this world. The story already has an ending. LOVE wins the battle.

And the message needed at just the right time from a dear friend….

NEVER let fear be greater than faith.

Blue Skies

The sky is blue.

Yet planes have fallen from skies, countries are warring, families fighting and this fragile body has failed me once again and all I really want is to be with you Jesus. To rest securely in your arms and have every tear from this fractured world wiped clean once and for all.

But it’s this waiting that’s wearing thin. Come Abba Father come! Set a wobbly whirling world right. You alone take brokenness and make it beautiful. For I lay all the shattered pieces before you. Write the story of my life bursting bright with your goodness….your faithfulness.

Then I will sing. Then will I dance in fields of green blanketed in blue skies.

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When You Miss Mom

On a day when the skin is red (these allergy shots have a way of being memorable) and the heart is raw and needing to take one more step makes the lungs burn, all I really want is Mom instead of being the mom. It’s then I pull out a pot to make this ’cause there’s no way closer to her than a kitchen wafting garlic, tomatoes and the sweet scent of basil.

spaghetti sauce

At the end of gulping it down Hope girl asks what’s for dessert and they, all grown up before my eyes, whip up a memory of picnics gone by near lakes and sandy rivers. Mom would pack these simple treasures of perfection. It looks complicated and oh so fancy when it’s merely a box-mixed-cupcake brimmed with your favorite filling. Tonight it’s what we had in the fridge…fresh strawberries and whip cream dusted with powdered sugar.  (Hope girl’s favorite anything strawberry shortcake.)

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And because mom hugs are miles away I’m clinging to this tonight:

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:11

We Are Family

The fever spikes, hot tears spilling from her pain wracked body drenching the pillow beneath.

“She’s not going to make the drive” he whispers to me.

Instinctively I know this too, but I push forward with plan A because there is no plan B in the works for a sick kid and a mom left alone at home without a vehicle and a husband away for work.

Somewhere between packing the van to drop him off and five minutes left before departure I surrender.  “Take the van and go honey. We’ll figure this out somehow” I mumble breathing a prayer.

Sometimes all one can do is believe these wordless sighs become prayers. That HE takes our groans and turns them into beautiful petitions carried straight to the throne room.

I pick up the phone frantic and I know just who to call.  There are those friends like family who risk anything, and all it takes is courage to ask. She assures me there is nothing we can’t figure out together.  That there’s a car free to use for the doc this morning and kids and groceries and visits to the pharmacy will all work out one way or the other.

We make it to the doc and stumble through blood draws, throat swabs, urine samples and there I am thankful for all the years of health struggles because I know what it is like and I whisper words of encouragement to this girl right growing up before my eyes through needles and pokes and prods.

The strep we thought it was comes back negative and everything suddenly becomes complicated with a follow up appointment and more tests as we wait and see what 48 hours will bring and this momma is right weary on a Monday morning before noon.

The rest of the week is a blur with fevers, pain and words like “appendicitis”, “CT scans”, and “make sure she drinks that smoothie two hours before you arrive at the hospital so the contrast will work”.

In the middle of all this THEY showed up.  The family of God tangibly present with meals, cars, kid sitting, hugs in the middle of emotional melt downs in front yards, texts, prayers…

It’s easy to say you’re part of a family, but until it functions like one, you can’t know for sure. Until you’ve bared your soul and they’ve opened hands and hearts you’ll never know. How can one begin to trust unless family bonds have been tested and found true?

The tech comes in at the hospital waiting room to tell this hungry and tired mom and daughter that all is well.  We hug and celebrate over Macdonalds singing long and loud to the radio all the way home.

Then there’s this guy who calls to say “keep the car an extra day…and take the kids berry picking just because…”.

I hang up smiling.

It’s then I know. We ARE family. A family that’s bigger than blood lines and geographic locations and maiden names and homes of origin.

It takes a family and we belong.  This heart beats all joy.

PBJ’s and Ticks

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Because I don’t want to forget….

In the middle of a chat with little man about why we don’t really have to fear ticks (right now for some very odd reason they have become the greatest thing to fear around these parts) he pipes up: “I’m going to feed them ALL a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Then with a pause all wheels turning, “Mom do ticks like peanut butter and jelly?”

And with that our lesson was over…or should I say just beginning?

For Days When You’d Rather Walk Away

The morning was new and one could smell it in the air, grass still wet with pearls of dew. Summer bounty was calling our name, berries sweet and ripe. Metal pails clinked as we marched along hearts bursting with excitement, the wood filled with song birds and crickets, dragonfly wings shimmering light. Around the bend and up a hill there they were, a sea of black and red.

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One eaten one kept the pails slowly filled but excitement quickly turned to tears as thorns tore through flesh leaving berry battle wounds. I gathered my brood to comfort, mind drifting back to the little girl in gingham under a high noon sun leaning through prickly vines to beauty waiting all glistening black, and her wincing as the barbs gripped skin and cloth.

It’s hard to push through pain to the prize waiting. Sometimes it’s easier to just walk away, but for every thorn there is sweetness and I tell these ones I’ve carried and coached and cried over that pies and jams won’t happen if we’re afraid of scratches and scrapes. And that if you’re right stayed on the goal, it won’t hurt nearly as much.

We dig back in, timid and gingerly they work. But I know, and I can taste it, all this sweetness come from thorns.

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Best blackberry pie recipe ever! (crust even better made in a food processor).

Why We Really Need To Face Our Fears

They laid her all warm and new into these wobbly arms of mine and I knew life would never be the same for she had changed me in the enlarging as I waited nine months to meet her. I never knew fear like I did as a new mom. The feedings, the sleeping (or lack of), the cries of all kinds and through all hours, and the questions clouding the small piece of sanity left after sleep deprivation. But the one always lingering I dared breathe, let alone whisper: what if something bad happens, and worse yet, if it’s on my watch? And I trembled and shook and got hard on these knees because that’s what raising up a child does. It exposes every fear you’ve ever buried and someday somehow you have to stare it down long enough and know that bigger than IT, is a God who is watching for you. Who longs to give rest. And regardless of what you do or how you control, He’s really the one who’s got it!

The millionth doctor (or so it felt) finally had a clue that something was wrong. These infections and days upon endless days spent in bed were not normal. He sent me off to another specialist and I was scared. What if they found nothing…or worse yet, what if they found something? And he did. And it was scary. And I wanted to run but there was nowhere to go. So I got hard on these knees and found a God watching, working in the dark for my good and as prednisone healed this body from cryptogenic organizing pneumonia blessings upon blessings, gifts beyond number were scattered along the way. I take my last treatment today a new person. We can either let illness enrage or enlarge the soul. The challenges in life can be what makes us bitter or beautiful. We have a choice: choose fear and control or surrender and rest.

I tuck them in tight, bellies full from the celebration of a hard season past over steaming bowls of homemade pasta with new friends, and she asks it with tears streaming…”Momma what if something bad happens?” The lump forms and my voice falters because what do you say to the one you love when you’ve wrestled and battled these fears yourself time and again? It’s then I remember truth I stumbled on when I forged into this thing called motherhood and I pull it out and read it slow:

If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?

“God’s got this” I say to her, and no amount of controlling or trying or fearing will keep us safer, or make us better. It’s in the opening of the hands, the surrendering we find rest. Ahh, how far I’ve come and yet still so much farther yet on this sojourn.

One season down….how many more to go? Only He knows and I’m ok with that.image