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Showing posts from 2014

The gift of Christmas

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I'm not quite ready to pack it up and put it away.  I want to delay the farewells to another Christmas season, to just hold on for a little while longer.  I sit near the tree in the quiet hush before daybreak as the lights throw strange shadows to the walls.


My love was planted many years ago in the gentle soil of my childhood, and now it has sprouted out all of these arms that reach for what I have grown to hold precious.  Christmas looked and felt different then.  It was very much about the presents, but even in the midst of gift giving I was learning the importance of seeing family and friends as something to cherish.

I look at the blinking branches holding steady the memories of years past; four pairs of ceramic booties with birth dates inscribed, cardboard toy soldiers with colored paper hats, foam wreaths with my children smiling wide between the glitter.  It is all haphazardly hanging.  It is all so terribly beautiful in its representation of life.

We sat around the large …

When your tree isn't ready for Pinterest

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Life never seems to follow the picture I create in my mind, but then I'm a bit of a dreamer.  I get lost in the imaginings of perfect scenarios, those happy Norman Rockwell paintings.  Every year I hope for a heavy snow to fall on Christmas just to feel the slowness of a day that keeps you right where you are.  It stretches its cozy arms around while the fireplace pops and hisses, all while we sip that frothy, rich cocoa as white lights of the tree throw shadows on our faces.


This has never happened anywhere but in my vague imaginings, and yet some version of it finds me hopefully wishing.  Tis the season?


We erected the Christmas tree this week.  My children, all together in their joy, pulled tokens of preceding years from these intimate boxes.  It was furious excitement all about the room as the carols whirled happy tunes in and out of the background.

Divine restraint kept my hands away from the heavily decorated base of the tree.  I stood away from those twinkling lights, away…

Seeing a beautiful life

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It was last year that I posted my list of thanks each day in November, and I had no shortage of things to say.  When you really focus, you see that there is greatness all around you.




I am daily reminded of the goodness of God.  I see it on the faces of my children, and not just in the smiles but in the temper tantrums and ugly attitudes.  I feel it in the warmth of my home.  My home that hasn't been dusted in weeks and displays the art of fingerprints on the walls.  I touch it in the embrace of my husband who stands imperfectly by my side.
It overwhelms me when I see the beauty of this life.  It is painful and difficult, but also it is lovely.  I'm learning that a life does not have to be perfect to be blessed.  All that I have and all that I do not have are gifts.  My hands are open to receive what he has given, and also to what he has taken away.  The good and the bad have been given to God, and he is the one who can change my perspective.

He makes beauty out of ashes.  He t…

A new season, a new day

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Time surrounds me.  It is all of this blank space begging to be filled.

I should do something.  I should go somewhere.  I should enjoy every single moment so I do not waste these opportunities that have been so rare.  I don't.

I haven't adjusted yet.


I've dreamed of freedom.  I've wished moments away that felt too difficult to endure.  There were nights of exhaustion that required me to get out of my bed and check on a crying babe in the crib.  Nights that a little hand would touch my face to stir me from sleep to tell me that they were afraid.   I would open up my covers as those pajama covered feet heaved themselves up and into the crook of my arm.  That steady breathing came in the comfort of safety while the numbness and tingling moved its way to my fingers with the lack of circulation.  I thought this season would never end.

But it has.

I tried to savor the best of moments.  I somehow knew even while I lived it, even in the struggle that I was holding happiness.…

I wish that i was brave

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"No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends." John 15:13







I wish that I was brave.  It's a noble trait we assign to those in uniform, admirable.  I suppose it's not something that you can be sure you possess until you are tested.  It seems to be more of a decision.  I have a sister who is brave, and I'm a part of her story.

It was a warm summer night.  It was 1980 something; a time when kids left the house early in the day and came home just before dark or occasionally just after if we were all in the cul-de-sac playing kick the can.  There was no worry on the parents behalf that they wouldn't be safe, at least not in my home.

We were one of four houses on the dead end street.  It was a place of great memories for me that included kick ball games, bike riding, tree climbing and fort building in the nearby woods.  It was a quiet neighborhood.  She must have been 9 that summer, and I trailed behind by a short 17 months.

We had spent …

Bent in the stillness

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I remember tiptoeing past her so as not to disturb as she was bending over the chair, head buried.  Not that she would have heard me in the midst of her deep secret telling.  And I listened as her heart cried out the hidden parts that shook her down to where she was.  Down to her knees where she stayed for a time I could not imagine, and she wouldn't rise until it was all wrung out.  Her eyes and her heart leaving behind parts in that chair where my mother reached out to touch heaven on our behalf.

Time ticks by and I look back at myself, the mother of two children toddling around.  My prayers were quiet whispers of safety made in a comfortable bed because I didn't understand that danger was already lurking around the edges of their souls.  The time for kneeling in front of chairs was not now, and I had all this life before me.


But the thief of souls comes to seek and kill and destroy and it's when a son grows old enough to choose how he will live his life that the fear of…

Living large

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I peered through the glass then adjusted my position until I could see clearly.  They were hard to find, being so small in such a large tank, but I knew what I was looking for.  The smallest one was flecked with a tinge of green on its underside.  The other two were just showing signs of their mature color, and I was excited to see the orange and yellow of their bellies.  Our toads joined the family nearly a month ago, and we've been checking on them daily to ensure they had plenty of water and food.


They originated from the tropics where they are indigenous to the rain forests.  I feel a twinge of guilt that they are confined to the space of an aquarium.  Do they know what they are missing out on?  No doubt they are loved and cared for.  They do not have to worry about finding food or water.  They do not have to worry about being hunted down or accidentally squashed.  But are the guaranteed basics of safety and comfort a fair trade for the exotic environment they were created fo…

Boxes

I've been working through a book that asks tough questions.  It gets down into the bones of your soul.  It pries into your past, and begs you to look at the raw hurts that have been tearing away the best parts of you since you were a child.  We all carry wounds, there are scars barely covered by the thin pink of our skin, and we know if it is touched again it might break open and we would bleed to the point of emotional death.

There is fear in pain and death, so we tend to ignore the fact that it is a very real part of living.

I am 34 years old and I still struggle with insignificance.  Looking back, this has been a theme in my life.  As a child, I longed to be loved and accepted but found myself feeling lost in the shadows of the outspoken.  It is quiet there in the dark.  Your voice can't be heard.  You find the insides of you screaming to be accepted, but you are too afraid to ask if you are enough.  And so you sit alone hating how you feel.  I'm not good enough.

Rejec…

Nature sings

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She heard the voices of the trees Swaying arms swept wide by breeze Turning blades over the meadow Brushing yellow folded leaves Nature's song sang to her wonder A tune she held within to ponder Feeling sweet the breath of autumn Knowing that it breathed beyond her Sweeping out the present worry A lightened heart rose high with fury Soaring on this cleansing wind With ne'er a thought nor want to hurry There the rays swept golden, shining Breaking through the clouds soft lining Lighting up her face so thankful All shall be in His own timing.

Every hello is a slow goodbye

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She held me.

Looking into my face, she marveled at the miracle in her arms.  Those small, pink toes that fanned out when they were tickled, and the anxiously gaping mouth that searched for her.  The slow yawns and the tiny dimples nestled themselves in her memory.

I know this, not because I remember but because I held my own miracles birthed from that place of love.  I felt it at our first hello, and that was when I knew how I never wanted to say goodbye.


Love clings like that grip that holds your hand before she gets on the bus to kindergarten.  It grasps tight  like the last embrace before he drives halfway across the country to attend college.  It's that arm that rests in yours as you walk her down the aisle, and another one takes your place beside her.


It is risky to love.  Love requires vulnerability, sacrifice, and honesty.  It can be painful to do any one of those things, but the reward far outweighs the risk.  So we say hello to love, and we all know that it is really ju…

Losing buttons and opportunities

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I'd done it again.

I lost my cool in the twilight of the evening, and sent her away with the makings of her necklace minus the button that fell down the vent in the floor.  She'd wanted me to fish it out, and as though I was certain it was forever banished between the construct of our walls I delayed the hunt until morning.



She howled her way into the next room over, and I knew I was hoarding some kindness.  Sadly, I didn't care at the time.

An hour before, she was working steadily in her room for quite some time, looping each shell and spare button onto the string of floss.  She wanted me to tie it up tight so she wouldn't lose one precious part of her creativity.  I fumbled with it in the dark before the whole string came undone in the tragedy of a moment.

That was really the undoing of us both.  She was devastated; I was frustrated and we both hollered out our displeasure.

I laid quiet in my bed wanting to hear her cries settle, as if the only thing that mattered wa…

When no one likes your Facebook status

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I am looking back, and I see her small form sitting on a low stool in front of the shelves of books.  She is pulling them out with her child hands and noticing their covers behind the thickness of her glasses.  She is happy in the surroundings of all of these words that lead her into other worlds where she can get lost and found in the imaginations of their authors.  She is dreaming amidst the quiet of the library and the smell of old paper books.  I am the only one who notices her sitting there in the midst of her reverie.  I am the only one who shares her quiet adventure of someday seeing her name on the spine of a book.  I am looking at the little girl, me.


The morning is humid, but the temperatures are cool enough to keep a good pace.  My headphones are in, but I don't notice the music that is playing.  I begin to think as I so often do during a run, and my thoughts begin to organize themselves as if I were writing their story.

I think about the little girl in the library, and…

Beauty over ashes

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My hands are clean now.  I took care of that last night as I watched the dirt swirl inside the porcelain sink before it was swallowed down through the pipes.  I looked long into the art of it, finite bits of Cristo Rey being washed away by water I can't drink.  I'm amused.  I can't remember the last time I was so dirty.

There are some particles still clinging to me that can't be seen.   I breathed them in and they nestled themselves down close to my heart.  I feel them there, a longing.

Our group of nearly thirty boards the yellow bus and we travel through the paved streets of Nicaragua.  The blur of skinny cows and smoking volcanoes passes by our periphery.  I am quietly lost in my thoughts and curiosity.  I welcome the experience.

The bus slows and sways into a sharp right turn as it heads onto a dirt covered road spotted by its own display of ditches.  We wobble our way through the overhang of sparse trees as we stir up dust clouds behind us.  Though it is the rainy…