Showing posts from 2015

He came to fail

I wonder how she felt as she wrapped her new born baby in strips of cloth.  Did she wish she had a proper place to lay his tiny head?  Only months before, she had been promised that her child would be great, and his kingdom would reign over Israel.  She was called into royalty, and I'm sure this was not the beginning she had imagined for the future king.

And in 33 short years, she would live to see how his humble birth set the precedent for his humiliating and painful death.  She wept below the foot of the cross, as her boy suffered in agony while a mocking world listened to his words, "It is finished."  By all standards of what humanity can comprehend, his life was over and he had failed.  And what of her promise?  What of the moments she had gathered over the years and held so closely to her heart that reminded her that her son was purposed for greatness?

You and I have the benefit of seeing the whole picture.  We get to know how the last chapter reads.  It wasn't …

The Night Still

The night so ordinary, still The quiet sheep did have their fill Beneath the stars the shepherds lay The town of David not far away
When suddenly a glorious light Broke through the dark, removed the night The terrifying sight did see By lowly shepherds on bended knee
And as the beings offered praise As if they'd sung this all their days The silent shepherds heard their song As more did join to sing along
Glory to our God on high! His son, just born, has come to die Wrapped with cloth in manger lay The prophesies of old did say
Beneath that mysterious star was found A tiny one they gathered round With awe and adoration speak Of Savior that they all did seek
And remember we that Holy night Imaginings hold wondrous sight As we come to worship him With heads bent low and lights so dim
And shall we sing the angel tune  A glorious song in brightest moon To share with those in darkness now Good news to hearts that will allow?
Glory to our God Most High He sent his son that he should die …

The one gift we all can give

It is born out of need every year.  We gather them up and bring them to the makeshift hospital I've set up in our home.  The lame and broken are scattered on the counter before me, and I get to work restoring them all.

One year, I remember, I cared for two decapitated Cinderellas.  The tragedy of it all overwhelmed my little girls whose pictures were forever posed right beside the delicate ornamental characters, their smiles clueless to the brokenness so close to them.  It was a strange site to see such happiness as they sat there unaware of their neighbor's plight.

A dab of stubborn glue healed the situation and those resin ornaments were placed back on the tree.  You'd have to look closely to see the hairline scar, a reminder of the past.

It's nearly Christmas.

Our Advent calenders are dwindling down, and the kids are full excitement.  I remember how slowly the days would pass when I was younger.  Now I feel there is barely enough time to breathe deep before another …

This waiting

I was on my knees leaning into the shower stall, body curved over the large bowl that held dirty dishes and soap suds.  I was surrounded by glass plates and silverware that dripped quietly from their resting place.  For eleven weeks I have been washing dishes in this bathroom, waiting in patience for a kitchen sink to be installed in this new space we call home.  And save for a few fleeting moments of heavy sighs at the pile that replenishes itself daily, I have not found discontentment.

I know that this season is temporary, and that the end to these moments is just ahead.  God has blessed me with a perspective that has filled me with peace, because I know how he uses quiet moments to do a holy work.  And even in this waiting, I feel I am being changed.   Small reminders come to me as I lean over a stack of dishes.  I am seen, I am loved, I am called to be present this very day.  He is with me now, comforting me, encouraging me, reminding me of who holds my tomorrows.

I'm not in a…

What I don't want to leave behind

I suppose if I could, I would invite you over.  We would sip coffee or tea, whatever your pleasure may be, and sit for a while talking about things that matter and things that don't.

I would share with you how we are still trying to get settled after eight weeks of moving, and how I'm not sure we ever will be.  You see, my life is different now.  I would try to explain how, but I'm quite sure the words would fail me just as they have every other time since I've come to this realization.

I am stuck in transition.  I think about this as I lie down in a bed that I've paid for, but no longer feel is mine.  It is a familiar possession, but one that I know is temporary.  Soon, I will leave it behind, because I'm just passing through.

Every single day I think about that future I am walking towards.  I know where I'm going, and I know something of what it takes to get there. I'm excited and I'm scared.  I am joyful and I am sad.  But always I am moving forw…

Confessions of a good girl

I was ending my sophomore year of high school when the conversation took place.  Her fair blonde hair was pinned perfectly away from the gentle curve of her neck.  A few curls framed  her face and spiraled down to her shoulders.  She was lovely as she spoke.  The gist of what she said was this, "I don't know if it is a sin or not, but if cutting my hair is going to keep me out of heaven, then I'm not going to do it."

I admired her conviction, her "better safe than sorry" standards.  I'd never really thought of it as a sin, and although my father didn't allow us to cut our hair my mom would trim it straight on occasion.  I began to wonder if it was wrong.

I was always a good girl.  A rule follower.  I worked well within boundaries, as long as I knew what they were.  Without realizing, I began to work hard at not failing.  I wanted to please people, and I wanted to please God.

The school that I went to was rigid on rules.  I believed that if I followe…

There lived a little girl

There lived a little girl
Quite a lovely one, you see
With golden hair and bright blue eyes
That twinkled merrily

She loved to whisper stories
To her blankie late at night
And color vivid pictures
All in all a glorious sight

And this little girl was wonderful
Her mother told her so
But she wasn't always pleasant
(Though she preferred that no one know)

For in certain times she felt it
An uprising deep inside
That bubbled to the surface
Where it had no place to hide

Now that chipper little girl
With her spaced and winsome smile
Turned into an angry bee
Who did buzz a long, long while

She would raise her voice an octave
Stomp her feet and pull her hair
How she wished that she could settle
But her life just felt unfair

She would hear her mother calling
"Little one, let's settle down,
Use calm words to tell your story,
Trade a smile for that frown."

How that little girl was thankful!
For the patience in mom's voice
For she knew that she was loved
When she made an awfu…

A new season, a new day

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 was loved first

For most of my life I have believed I was shy.  It was the excuse I would offer to escape the discomfort of engaging in conversation.  I felt awkward and out of place in most social settings, and it was my relief to hide behind the charms of my slightly older sister.  But recently I have come to the understanding that these feelings were not the result of my personality.  I am not shy; I am broken.

We stepped out into the pale yellow sun, and welcomed the cool breezes that swept between us.  We heard the slight rustling of leaves as hand in hand we moved along the winding stone paths of the San Antonio Riverwalk.  The green water snaked through the arched bridges calmly unaware of our presence.

We sat down at one of the many cafes that lined the quiet beauty, and over the crunch of tortilla chips we talked about the following day.  We had come to Texas for our missionary orientation, and we were anticipating the stories of people who shared our passion.  We imagined that most of the o…

A call to deeper faith

I am writing from Kerrville, Texas, a little town an hour north of San Antonio.  Tim and I are here for our missionary orientation for Commission To Every Nation.  It seems surreal to be here, but a lot of our life has been feeling that way lately.

Back in May when we shared God's call for our lives to our church, it was quite a surprise (shock?) to many people.  But God had really been speaking to us for many years about going deeper with him, and all along we were saying yes.  He had planted in our hearts a desire to know him more, to love him more, to seek him more.  The how was really just a matter of detail.

There were a few people that we invited into our story before it became common knowledge.  We spoke over tables and in chairs moved close to one another.  These were people who knew us well, and loved us completely.  And when they allowed our story to settle down into their hearts and minds, they shared with us that it was really no surprise at all, this direction our lif…

The care and keeping of our children's hearts

It was after they had gone.  The small crowd who loved us through their serving dispersed to the places they call home, and we travelled the 3 miles back to the one we were moving from.  The rooms were empty of tangible memories, and only our voices decorated the walls, calling back to us in echoes.

I was walking halls and checking closets before I peaked into the room with the sea foam walls.  There sat the child who had been the most excited to leave this home, head buried in arms and knees pulled up under the chin.  Those slight shoulders were shaking, and I sat down beside the small gasping sounds that were too strong to keep hidden.  They held no regard for the owner's wishes.

It had caught her off guard, the emptiness of the house, the finality of the move.  So we sat there in the stillness, and embraced this necessary sadness.  And all the while my heart whispered to heaven, a desperate cry that God would take care of my children.

I don't know what is in store for our f…

What I suppose I should be feeling

When I got up this morning and realized it was Tuesday, I felt excited.  Why?  Because I wanted to share another song off of my playlist for Tune in Tuesday.  I've thought all week about what song I would choose, and it was last night that I knew I wanted it to be based on my current situation.

On Sunday, we moved out of our home to pick up residence with my brave sister Nancy and her family of six.  (Just for fun, I wrote a story about her bravery HERE.)  We mostly fit three levels of a house into one, and as you can imagine things don't exactly fit neatly into place.  
I enjoy visual organization.  I like clean lines, and tidy spaces.  When I work at the hospital, I straighten my patient's rooms.  When we go out to eat, I pile plates and discard straw rappers.  My children's collections of "things" disappear when they are at school.  (Do not tell them!)  That is not my reality right now, and it won't be for some time yet.  But last night, as I was walki…

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This ending chapter

I heard the true story of a man who had a good life.  Things were going well for him, and he was happy.  But one day Jesus found him, and all of the moments that had brought him contentment no longer seemed to satisfy.  He didn't necessarily want Jesus, in fact the whole idea seemed to ruin the good thing he had going.  But his heart was being pursued by the one who truly loved him, and he was changed.  I have come to believe that once a life has been touched by the goodness of Christ, it cannot stay the same, and even if we never choose to follow after him he will always choose to love us.

I remember the day we moved in.  It was the middle of December, but the snow hadn't bothered to visit here in Cincinnati.  We spent the first night sleeping on the floor, and in the following days we managed to erect a Christmas tree in the empty dining room.  It was a lovely holiday in our new home that we built from the ground up, and not one of us cared that everything was out of place f…

Remembering still

Thirteen years have passed.  More than an entire decade.  Not that I thought I would ever forget, but the remembering still surprises me.  April 26th would have been her birthday, and every year for the past thirteen, I remember.
I kept the small blanket I wanted to wrap her in, a pale yellow with a tiny print of animals on the edge.  In my excitement of learning the news I had purchased it.  It seemed a frivolous buy for someone so careful with their money.  It lays silently now in a wooden chest that smells of cedar never knowing the warmth of its intended body.
That same chest holds my hospital bracelet, the sonogram picture, and a little angel shaped box lined with blue velvet.  'Mathia" is etched on the lid in flowing script.  I suppose those are all representations of her death, but I keep them because I have nothing of her life.  So brief, her life, like wisps of smoke that disappear into the air once the fire is gone.  I never saw her face, but I know it was beautifu…

I'd come to Nicaragua to die

I'd come to Nicaragua to die, that was becoming evident as I stared out the dusty bus windows only a few hours after I had arrived.  Not in the literal sense, though one can never rule out the possibility, especially after experiencing the general flow of traffic.  But in the sense that this is the story that God was writing for me to know him more intimately.

My eyes were searching for something familiar, something I could hold onto that reminded me of my other home in the states.  They say missionaries always talk of two homes, the one where they were born and the one that they live in.  I was stuck somewhere in between.

A few weeks earlier, I had whispered it secretly to a friend, not wanting the truth of it to be a common conversation.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to look it straight in the face.  After all, I have found that I tend to ignore the hardest happenings until I feel the strength to endure them.  I'm not sure any of us are ever ready.

But it had moved quick…

The blubbering Hall of Presidents

Well, I wasn't exactly blubbering.  It was more of a faint trickle down the outside corner of my eye.  The left eye to be exact, and I only remember because my curious daughter was sitting there when she caught sight of the tear that I was trying to hide.  It was moments later that she loudly questioned, "Are you crying?"  It was too dark in the theater for me to see her eyes roll, and I was glad because that also meant that no one could see the blush on my cheeks.  I happily ignored her by pretending I was enthralled with the animatronics show.

It was a fair question, I think.  After all, how many people actually get emotionally involved with The Hall of Presidents in Disney World?  If you've never been there, I'll tell you that it is not something most people (just me?) cry over.  It goes through the history of the United States and highlights the most notable leaders of our country.  I was doing well until they came to Abraham Lincoln.

Larger than life picture…

When all the world chatters

It was nearly midnight, but there is something about summer that allows me to ignore the fact that I like to be asleep before ten.  So I nestled myself into the coziness of my bed, and scrolled through the information highway.  I somehow came upon a blog that was written by a missionary from the same city that I am moving to next summer.  My interest was wide awake, and I clicked on post after post to get a view of what my life might look like there.

Some of the posts were centered on the beauty of the mission, some on the struggles of life that go along with living in a country other than your own.  As I continued to read, I saw less of wonder and felt more of fear.  This is not a feeling anyone welcomes, especially with a mind that is already processing so many other strong emotions.  I was desperate to talk it over with Tim, but he had already met his dreams and I didn't have the heart to pull him into my nightmare.

Instead, I turned to Pinterest because, you know, pretty thing…

Your Nicaragua questions answered

The decision to move our family to Nicaragua was not made quickly or easily.  It was something that had been stirring in our hearts for years, but we were not aware of until more recently.  I'm not saying that we knew for a long time that we were going to be missionaries to a foreign country, not at all.  In fact, I still look at Tim sometimes (often) and say, "I can't believe we are moving to Nicaragua!"  What I am saying is that God has been preparing us with different challenges in our lives that have forced us to answer this question, "Are we doing what God has asked us to do?"  Each time we answer that question we are either brought closer to his plan for our lives or further away; it's our choice.  We believe with certainty that God has invited us to follow him to Nicaragua, and we want to answer him with a firm but humble yes.  (I blogged more specifically about this HERE.)

We are go…

In whatever state (or country)

When I was told that it wouldn't be a good idea to fill up a moving truck and drive it through Central America to our new home in Nicaragua, I realized that fifteen years of accumulating life would have to be sold or given away.  I processed this over the next few days as I walked around my house holding memories, and accepting the truth of my circumstances.  A sense of sadness lingered near the edges of my mind as I looked at the things that had brought me happiness.

Many years ago when Tim and I lived in our first house, there were numerous projects that needed attention.  Our two year old son had spilled a bottle of laundry detergent on carpet that was already in poor condition, and that blue stain taunted me day after day.  After pricing out new carpet, I realized that it was not something we could afford, and I would have to live in harmony with the ragged mess.  It became very clear to me that my contentedness was in jeopardy, and I had no way of fixing it on my own.  I knew…

Follow me

I've thought a lot about this day.  It has run through my mind on repeat, the words I would say.  Always they came to me in the quiet moments touching those deep places that only God has seen and understood.  And I have prayed all along the way that I might help you to see my heart, that I might hold your hand and lead you to the view that fills my soul.

For many years now, I have felt that God was preparing both Tim and I for something different.  I didn't know what it was, but there lived in me an unwavering knowledge that our lives would not look as they do now.  If you had asked me seven years ago what that would be, I would have guessed that Tim would be called into full time ministry as a pastor.  You would have thought that I was right when he was ordained in our church in September of 2012.  But the door did not open for us to pursue that path.  Truly God had his hands on us, encouraging our hearts and speaking truth into our spirits that we were not forgotten, and he …

Laying down secret

Because God is good, I write to remember.

Because God gives grace, I write to give thanks

Because God is faithful to repair these broken parts of me, I write to share the story of his mercy.

The moon peaks through windows of the room casting shadows.  She is settled in for sleep, and her sister lays beside her.  When she closes her eyes she remembers all that remains unsettled.  How many nights, she wonders, has she prayed that God would forgive her?  How many nights would she remember the sickness of her secret, and lie awake beneath the coverings of shame?

Trees move against the wall, and little legs squirm beneath blankets.  She is overwhelmed by what she knows, and she tries to forget how she was held down.  Her stomach turns inside her as the familiar nausea returns.  She tries to forget how her eyes were opened to the disgust of sin.  She wants to escape her thoughts, and she wonders if she had been able to escape the Evil if she would be laying here right now in her bed of guil…

The begrudging will of God

I was just a girl, but I remember now with amusement the thoughts that kept me awake at night.  I was never one to ask my parents incessant questions, but I did ask a few that I just couldn't seem to satisfy on my own.

I would spend sunny afternoons dreaming of my future and my wedding.  It was the dress that I considered mostly, and then the husband.  I would wonder if I already knew him, and if not, what he might look like.  Would he have strong hands like my dad?  Would we live in a brick house?  Would we have kids?  Of course we would.  At least four, maybe five.  Six?

These questions would rotate in my mind, and when I just couldn't hold them close enough I would offer them to my parents.  "Do you think someone will marry me?  What do you think he looks like?  Will he smell good?"

I imagine my parents were thinking the same thing I do when my kids ask questions that just can't be answered.  They would generalize something that would satisfy me, and not give …