Thursday, February 27, 2014

To Be So Known

Hello Friends,

Today, during my quiet time, this truth fell on my heart in a fresh way:

O LORD you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Psalm 139:1-3 ESV

To be so known...yet so loved.

The sweet beauty of grace!

Have a wonderful weekend.


Monday, February 24, 2014

"Wild Bouquet of Friends" - From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Hi Friends,

Today I'd like to share a story about one of my dear friends. Oh, the things we can learn from those the Lord brings to our lives...

Have a sweet day. May it be rich with God's grace.



                                                WILD BOUQUET OF FRIENDS

Michelle dropped into my life just when I needed her. Like manna from heaven. Five of my seven closest friends had moved in the past year. I just knew if I stood on the end of my drive, waving goodbye to a sweetheart sister one more time, my heart would break.

Enter Michelle. I met her at church, and she was a master at making friends. Her husband had been in the Navy. And his civilian job brought many transfers, too. Moving was a way of life for her, and she rose to the challenge.

“Want to come over for lunch today?” Michelle asked.

We were scraping glue from eight foot tables. Day one of Vacation Bible School and the craft room had gone wild.

“Today?” I asked.

 I barely knew Michelle. She’d been around church for awhile, but our paths hadn’t crossed. Until VBS.

“Sure,” she said. “I’ll make pizza. The kids can play.”

Michelle had three young sons and a daughter. I had three young sons, too. Sounded like a good fit. But I was tired and the morning had been full.

“C’mon” she said, as if tapping my thoughts. “I’ll make you an iced tea. I have a nice porch and we can sit.”


My sons and I went to Michelle’s that day, and it took about ten minutes for us to feel like we’d all been friends for a hundred years. Michelle had that way about her. And by the time the boys and I loaded into our van and headed home, I felt as though I’d been given a sweet gift. Michelle eased some of the hurt of those relocated friendships.

And I didn’t even have to try to find her.

The next day at Bible school, Michelle was waiting by the door. “I need to get groceries tonight,” she said. “Want to come?”

I thought of my cupboards at home. Mother Hubbard for sure. But I’d never gone for groceries with a friend. Seemed like a solo task to me. “Together?” I asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Another friend is going to go, too. But there’s plenty of room in the Land Rover.”

I agreed. And when Michelle picked me up that evening, I was surprised. Her other friend was much younger. Single. I wondered where Michelle had met her and what we’d have in common. I expected a thirty-something mama, like me.

But the evening was a delight.

It was fun to meet someone new, and to hear about a life that was so different from mine.

And such was life with Michelle. As I got to know her better, I got to know many others, too. Michelle was different from anyone I’d ever met. And she had a lot of friends. Older friends. Friends in their twenties. Single. Married. Friends with no children. Friends with a half-dozen kids.  I’d always played things safe, choosing friends who were just like me,  but Michelle reached far.  She had friends who were working through divorces and addictions. She was a friend even to some who were hard to befriend.

And I was in awe of her. She’d more-than-filled a void. And I learned from watching her love.

Then came a sad day. The day she told me she was going to move.

“It’s a transfer,” she said. “But it will be good for my family. I know we’ll meet others who could use a new friend.”

But what about me? I wondered. Another friend. Moving away. Maybe it wasn’t worth it, getting so deep into someone’s live. Who would take her place? Who would be my friend?

The weeks rolled by and Michelle’s home became a maze of cardboard boxes. I helped her pack her life, and it felt as though I were packing my own heart.  Then came moving day. Once again I stood on the end of the drive. Michelle’s children waved like wild and mine waved back hard.  I kicked a few pebbles with the tip of my shoe as her white truck became smaller and disappeared.

Gone. Another friend.

The next few days were hard and quiet. Michelle was a pursuer. An inviter. An initiator. With her gone, the phone seemed quiet. I missed her smile. Her warmth. The way her kitchen was a haven for women of all walks of life.

Then one afternoon my boys and I were playing outside. Their laughter rose above the high squeal of the swings. But I didn’t feel like laughing. I was lonely for a friend.

And that’s when I saw the young mama.

She was walking down the sidewalk, newborn babe strapped to her chest. Her bright red ponytail bobbed high on her head. Two young boys ran in front of her, darting off the sidewalk and back on. She was young. Very young.

I pushed gently on my little son’s back. His swing flew high. The mama was just about in front of our house. I pushed again. My little guy cheered. The little parade moved closer, this mama so much younger than me.

And I thought of Michelle.

“C’mon , guys,” I said. I pulled on the chains and gently stopped their swings. “There’s a mama and some boys coming down the block. Let’s go over and say hello.”

My sons raced forward, filled with the anticipation of a new friend. I moved forward, too, recognizing that desire in my own heart.

“Hi,” I said when we reached the sidewalk. “Nice day for a walk.”

That young mama and I chatted in the afternoon sun, and in time, she became one of my very close friends. But my friendships didn’t stop there. I began to stretch out. Look beyond my own age, life stage and circumstance. Before too long I had older friends. Friends without children. Single friends. Friends whose lives were very different from mine.

And the blessing was sweet.

I still miss Michelle. But I know she’s reaching others, spreading joy, providing a shoulder, loving and teaching others how to love. And I sometimes wish she hadn’t moved.

But this special lady left me with the very best parting gift - the ability to see the beauty in a wild bouquet of friends.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Speaking Love

The package comes the day before Valentine's Day. My oldest son's neat, tidy handwriting is on the mailer. Zay and I have gone to the mailbox, and when he sees the package, he jumps up and down in winter slush.

"Does it shake?" he asks as I pull the mailer from the mailbox.

I hand him the package. He shakes it. It does.

"It's the heart candy," Zay says. And with that, he's gone. "Brothers," he yells as he slushes his way up the drive."The package from Logan is here!"

A moment later, he's down the stairs, across the patio, and into the house.

Logan buys boxes of conversation hearts for the family every year. The tradition started when he was very small. Back then he was just a tiny boy with a dollar from the tooth fairy. But he held the tradition, and even now, from college, he sends the Valentine candy. When the boys rip the package open, they'll find his handwriting on individual boxes. The writing has changed over the years.

But the giving has not.

I make my way to the house and I find exactly what I'm expecting. The boys have opened the package, and they're at the dining room table. Colorful hearts are scattered across the surface.

I luv you.
B Mine.

Sometimes the smallest things speak love in the biggest ways.

                         Lord, help me to love someone in a big way today, too. Amen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Serving Place

It's late afternoon, and it's time to gather the children and go. We're helping prepare and serve a meal at church. But I have to admit, in the deep part of my heart, I don't feel like serving tonight. I'm tired. The boys have given me a run today. The temperature is still painfully cold, and a night at home would be the sweetest sort of thing.

But we gather and go.

To me, right now, it feels like commitment. The simple right of doing what we said.

As we drive to church, I think about the million things I have to do at home. The house looks like a war zone. The cupboards are bare. Laundry is piled high. It would take my crew a full night, at least, to get to a manageable place. To a place where organization resides.

But we go. And I consider the things I can press into a sliver of evening when we get home.

When we get to church, I find that our friends have already arrived. Sweet scents waft from the kitchen. From the hall, we can hear chatter and the bang-clang of activity. The boys and I hang out coats on pegs and go around the corner.

And what I see there blesses my soul.

My friend's small daughter is wobbling through the dining area with a tray of salt and pepper shakers. She puts the tray down. Stretches far to place two shakers in the center of a table. Stands back to consider. Then moves right on. Zay thinks this looks like fun and he shoots away from my side and is soon at hers.

There's a row of children at the counter, perched on stools. They're tearing lettuce. Chopping carrots. Slicing cucumbers. There's chatter and laughter and togetherness. Gabe and Sam find kitchen stools of their own. They wash fast and pitch right in.

A friend, standing at the stove, waves and smiles. Her father has come to help. His wife, her mother, is two years in heaven and the sight of these two together tugs tenderness in my soul.

Another friend is reading a recipe and her daughter stands ready with a scoop of flour.

And I pull my apron from my bag, loop it over my head, and suddenly all I want to do is join in. I want to slide into the scene and find a place. I want to gather and give. I want to be a part of something, even just a dinner, that's not about me.

There's something about serving. Maybe it's the togetherness. The sweet form of connection that working side-by-side brings. Maybe it's a willingness to move myself from a place of priority to a place in the heart where others come first. Maybe it's that the Lord created us to love Him and love others and when we serve we hit both just right.

I don't know.

But I'm grateful to be free of my own agenda. I'm thankful for this opportunity.

This serving place, right here, is where I want to be.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sharing A Blessing

Morning Friends,

Today I'd just like to share a blessing. I have a story in the new release Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen. The sweetest part of the blessing is that my oldest son, Logan, has a story in the book, too. It's his writing debut, and I'm so proud.

Mostly, though, I'm grateful to the Lord..for reaching low and intervening and working in our lives in unexpected and mighty ways.

To Him be the glory!

I'm forever in awe.

With love,


Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Moon and Me

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

I'm standing in the frigid cold waiting for a son. He's fumbling for the key to the side porch door. It's dark. The wind strikes hard. I wait for my boy to find and jab the key, and it's then that I notice the moon.

It hangs, a silver sliver, in the night sky.

It's a crescent. Hollowed down. Scooped out. Shaved thin. What I can see is just a low rim.

We'd seen the full moon weeks before. But now the lit part is smaller. It's waned. It appears to be emptied out. Carved away. But after what looks like a disappearing, there will be a filling. A sliver will show again. And as we stand below, witnessing the waxing, it will seem like a rebirth. A restoration. A filling back up.

I stand there and wait and watch and understand that this is how I want my heart to be.

Carve it down, Lord. Skim away the parts that don't bring you glory. Hollow my deep places, the places only you see, the places where sin crouches. Bring me to a rim. Then build me back up. Fill me with Your Spirit. Less of me and more of You. 

My son pokes the key to the lock and then he steps aside. I move away from the cold. And as I step inside, warmth of the porch is a welcome thing.

But not as welcome as the filling of my heart.

Monday, February 3, 2014

From Change to Peace - The Missing Link (TRUST)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:4 ESV

We're in-between basketball games, and our van is heading for home. It's lunchtime. Sam has invited a friend along. The two have been buddies for a number of years.

I listen to them laugh, share, and exchange still-little boys things, but I notice that their voices are different than they were just months ago. They're no longer small-son soft. They're at that longing place, that in-the-middle place, the stretch of being a boy that looks over the shoulder at childhood but hasn't quite arrived at the place of being a young man.

And I know hard and fast that we're looking at change.

Those who know me well (or maybe even those who don't) understand that change is my most uncomfortable thing. In fact, it hurts. It may be true that fretting over change is my signature sin. Whatever I want to call it, change makes me sad in the most deep, quiet place.

I love exactly where I'm at. How can I know that things can ever again be this sweet?

It's a question that rattles in my heart most of the time. And why? Because change never stops. We recently re-launched Logan back to school. It's best. It's good. I couldn't be more certain or happy for him. But packing his things, loading the van, waving goodbye once's crazy- clear that watching my kids change is not a spectator sport.

When my kids change, I have to change, too.

All the kicking and screaming in the world won't hold time.

I glance behind me and catch these boys in the rear view mirror. There they are. Framed for an instant. But not held still.  And for a moment, I catch my own eyes. And I don't like what I see.

It's fear.

Fear of losing.

And suddenly the depths of my own murky heart come clear. What I'm really struggling with, what I'm truly wrestling with, isn't change at all.

It's trust.

Because in the center of me there are nagging questions...

Lord, will I still have purpose when my children are grown?
Lord, will my heart be full even when my mama-arms are not?
Lord, can I trust you enough to open my clenched fists when I want to hold tight to what I hold dear?

I pull into our drive and the pre-teens spill from the van. They're through the gate and down the stairs and across the patio to the back door. Will I arrive, to a strong place of trust, to a not-fearful place, as easily and surely as I've just come home to set these hungry boys free?

No. Surely not.

But I'll get there. In God's goodness and grace.

Because I want to move from fear of change to peace. And I've found the missing link.

Lord, help me to trust you with my days, my life, when we're heading for change. Amen.