Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons (that weren’t on the holiday shopping list)

To all you beautiful ones in the medical field, you have NO IDEA the blessing you are to so many. Tonight at the ER God sent the sweetest nurse practitioner to diagnose my double pneumonia all the while holding my hand so full of compassion and empathy. Humbled by the hard work you do every waking day to make others well. Thank you and carry on carrying on!

…..and while we were at it we decided we might as well make it a date. After all…we didn’t have the kids and it is in sickness and in health.

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A Burglar In The House

I woke out of my fevered state to crashes and bumps in the night, but since it seemed not to have roused anyone else I assumed it was a mere result of my less than great physical condition…or the meds giving me the distinct pleasure of hearing things at all hours day or night.

Anyways, I did my best to reassure my blood pressure that it was simply a phantom of the night, and began drifting to the all healing sleep when “Bang CRASH rattle….” it began all over again.

Needless to say I was all ears and fully awake at this moment heart beating full throttle. I grabbed slippers and a healthy chunk of brave because it was my turn to save the day. My fearless leader and partner in crime had done his night shift too many times over the past week fetching drinks and thermometers and meds and I would feel anything but guilty awakening him once more, so I slipped out the door and down the stairs.

The noises got louder and my imagination ran wild. Who was in our house? How did they get in? Crime scenes from too much news and a few scary movies flashed through my panicked brain and I yanked the pantry door open be
fore one more thought would send me screaming all the way upstairs. (Which I’m sure that would have gone over real well for everyone after the week we’ve had….)

I took a double take through the dark closet filled with boxes and cans and there I began to laugh hysterically.

Fancy this.

A hamster.

Our hamster stuck in the crockpot and as hard as she would push up the lid to squeeze out, it would bang right back down on her again.

Shocking….and yet not so shocking as our family has the most incredible way of  attracting drama at all hours of the day and night…so why in the world would we expect to have a normal hampster?

Never in a million years would I think I’d have a rodent being the cause of bumps in the night. But I caught her. Boy did I catch her and she’s locked up safe now. (At least until the next night….)

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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

Remade to Remember

She pulls out the dusty albums hidden under stacks and stacks of photographs of the years each begging a story, and a smile comes to the lips as fingers beginning to show their age thumb through pages. It’s been fourteen years, this thing called time slipping by like sand in a glass. And it’s been glorious and tears have gushed and through it all it’s been God’s grace to knit two hearts, two lives beautifully into this thing we call one flesh.

The candles come out, along with table cloth and china and she sets the table all the while tripping over Legos and sticks and baby dolls scattered among books. How the years have changed and multiplied this thing called love. She grabs garden clippers and dances out the door to the CD player rendering the same song she danced with her beloved groom, and she heads to the field across the way gathering bouquets of summer’s first wild flowers little man a shadow all the while.

It’s funny how some things never change, this love for bottles filled with flowers, flickering light in the darkening room, plates heaped high with breakfast goodness at night and these three little faces beaming at a couple now known as mom and dad hanging on every little detail from that day long ago. They clink glasses and celebrate love into the evening cutting into cake remade to remember and she’s beaming and leaking tears all in one.

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Hours later, kids long tucked in tight, she hands him the card, the one she lost last year but found just in time for tonight. Sometimes it’s in the getting lost we actually find ourselves and she knows this better than ever after the past year of stumbling in the dark. And when it’s dark you need someone holding the light, picking up the pieces letting you know it’s going to be ok because we’re in this together and two are stronger than one. Their vows have been tested…in sickness and in health…richer or poorer and been found strong in the One holding them together. They embrace, the journey only beginning, this blooming and blazing a trail together, striding into the future.

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Italian Cream Wedding Cake

1 box white cake mix (I love Betty Crocker super moist white cake mix)

1 1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 TBL almond flavoring

Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour bottoms and sides of two 9″ round pans.

In a mixing bowl beat all ingredients together on medium speed for two minutes. Divide batter in two and pour into pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake bounces back in the middle when you tap it. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Italian Cream Frosting

1 cup butter flavored shortening

3-4 cups powdered sugar

2-4 tsp. almond flavoring (or more or less to taste)

half and half to thin frosting

Beat ingredients together in a bowl adding cream as you go in teaspoon increments until it is thin enough to frost. Beat until fluffy for several minutes. Place one cake round on platter. Spread frosting between and top with the second layer of cake. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

Mustaches and Straws

It was THE straw. And at the worst most possible time. You see I’m a bit like Mary Poppins. I tend to carry all worldly possessions in my purse, ahem, bag because you never really know when you might need something. Hungry? No problem, granola bar. Headache? Ibuprofen. Coffee breath? Runny nose? Apple or cheese needing sliced? I’ve got the solution for the dilemma: gum, tissues, hair barrettes, pens, pencils, crayons, tweezers, and yes a pocket knife that has come in handy, I must admit, for way too many excursions. And who has time to put on a face before running out the door? Besides it’s way more fun squeezing it in while at a stop light or in the parking lot so any and all people can see the transformation, which necessitates that the makeup I own…or has been graciously hand-me-downed…is crammed into what is affectionately known as my carpet bag.

This morning’s routine was no different. Throwing clothes on, shoving food down, making sure the crazy amounts of meds get in the system and that kids have on proper attire and clean faces, I grab coffee to go and fly out the door. And here we are pulled up at the ninth hour into the church parking lot putting on the final touches of lipstick when the light falls just perfectly across the face to reveal a very full mustache developing across my upper lip and there is nothing in this carpet bag of mine that can even begin to solve this problem not to mention how am I to gather these nerves and emotions about to simmer right over in time to stand in front of everyone and lead an entire set of music for morning service. I know it all sounds so full of vanity and first world problems but it has been that kind of a week and for the moment I hate cryptogenic organizing pneumonia, and asthma and pollen that has me trapped in the house for fear of another sinus infection, and the mask that I have to wear if I want to walk outside with my kids (sorry in advance to all the neighbors I frighten) and prednisone that has me going through clothing sizes and making hair grow in strange places and the endless doctor visits and allergy shots that eat up time like caterpillars on leafs and I just want to run away and hide and stop fighting this daily battle because I am weary. And weary means there will be tears and lots of them. I’m also thankful for my Saint David who stands graciously beside me all the while comforting and affirming and the myriad of friends praying and sending love, but for now…just for today….a bed of tears will do the trick, and somewhere, somehow I know I too will wake and accept all these changes without the need for control and I will remember that this is a season and it isn’t forever and there is a miracle waiting on the other side of the door. And at least for the moment I can take comfort that my day isn’t as bad as this guy has it:

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When You Just Can’t Feel Anything

I woke to all this unbridled beauty and felt nothing.

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What ordinarily takes the breath away lays frozen white just like this spirit gripped in the vice of cruel meds and nothing will shake it, not even the most beautiful feathery white form of precipitation that brings heart palpitations with its glory. How do you praise and thank when there is no feeling? When a shadow of joy is nowhere to be found? When prednisone is hitting the system, the spouse, the children, the hamster and all others just happening into my messy day and I am just doing my best to breathe?

I open The Book searching, asking questions of ‘where are you God’ because even that is a sign of life hidden deep inside, the beginning of hope about to bloom because he promises us the God hunters that if we seek for Him, we will find him and he is not far off. I find him here between the pages of Psalm 22….a much needed love letter delivered just in time:

   He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
    he has been right there, listening.

He is listening to every painful sigh, to the silent pleas  for ‘help’, to this weary heart wondering how nine months of this will ever be over and will anyone still love me in the end? The God who was my midwife at birth, who handed me over into my mother’s arms, is still the God present, active, alive, ever near.

Determined to be a God hunter of this day I pull on boots and scarves, gloves and coat to wander out into the majestic world of white and this friend, is courage, because underneath all these layers all I really want to do is hibernate and eat this all day long. But something in my spirit says ‘go’ because experience has taught there is treasure found in surrendering to the moment for we walk by faith when we are blinded by all that would consume. We leave space for God to do his work, to show up in the impossible. Perhaps these pauses in our lives are the very places God is doing the deepest work of the heart.

I round a corner in the dark wood, beauty envelopes and this soul smiles as rays of light shine down diamonds sparkling.

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