Monday, August 3, 2015

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

I straightened my hair today. I haven’t done that consistently since my past life when I was in fact a hair dresser. Those were the days. Up early so that I could pull, press and heat my curly locks into submission. No more. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my hair has a mind of its own and as such can curl up like Medusa at a moments or humidity’s notice. But I digress. I straightened my hair today because I’m traveling, and since I have a red eye/day/ridiculously long flight time and I want to land feeling and looking somewhat like a normal person and not like a mythological creature, I straightened my hair into submission. Wish me luck.

So I’m traveling. Traveling is weird, y’all. It is weird the things and the people you see. For example, I spent the first leg of this trip sitting next to a man who very much resembled Jesus in all the Sunday school pictures, and had a head full of dreadlocks. Dude had some seriously long hair. I thought of asking him for a blessing, but he was quick to don his shades (bright future and all) and take a nap. Who naps at 5 p.m. on an airplane? Jesus would have chatted with me. But alas, I was left to pull out my old an tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and settle in with some Scout, Jem and glimpses of old Boo Radley. Next stop, Denver.

I’ve never been to Denver before. But I didn’t get a chance to play either. This is one of the things I detest about flying. You land in some cool places, but due to timing or airline security similar to that of Fort Nox, there is no escaping to explore. Case in point: I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Boston. Like, always. I’ve always wanted to live in Connecticut too. I’ve never been to either place, I’ve flew over them once, but I feel like I should probably live there. Don’t ask me why, because I can’t tell you. Just like I’m sure that some day when I visit Scotland, I may never come back. But I digress. Boston. Always wanted to go. Today I will. In fact, I will be in the city for six hours. Unfortunately those hours are between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., so I will not be venturing beyond the highly guarded gates of the terminal. Dang it. Instead I will be fervently trying to take a nap. Again, wish me luck.

So here I am, on the flight to Boston, second leg of this journey that I’m so freaking excited for, and I’m sitting next to a guy who is watching a cartoon. Like underwater, floating jewels, anime(?) cartoon. I myself like cartoons. Like Disney and Pixar. He’s probably in his almost thirties. I’m thrity-four. Do grown men watch this? I did not know. Apparently they do. I don’t understand the whole anime thing, no judgement, just don’t get it, I just wasn’t really expecting him to pull out his little lap top and drum up a cartoon. But hey, to each his own and all that.

And after all, these planes are boring. I tried to keep myself entertained and bought a magazine. Glamour. It was always my go-to girl mag for trips and a little brainless fun. Did you know that army green is the new in color for this season? It’s not just for camo anymore ladies. Unless of course you live in Montana, in which chase it’s only for camo, let’s just be honest. Anywho, army green is good. Loving your body is good (it’s about time) according to Amy Schumer who apparently is a 160 lb comedian. Because we have to put her body weight in the magazine to really convince everyone that it’s okay not be a perfect size 00 and still be a woman. Ahem. Contradiction much?

Alanis Morriset also had her two cents on finding love. It’s the twentieth anniversary of Jaged Little Pill (say it aint so!) and she’s getting some press for it. I’ll be honest, JLP was one of the first CDs I ever bought, and certainly the first grunge rock one that I felt a little concerned over my mother listening too. But I loved it. Still do. It’s my go-to flash-back music and what’s not to love about those guitar strums and the raspy voice? But really, Alanis? Love advice? For promoting JLP? Hmmm I may get my love potion #9 elsewhere. Call me crazy.

Oh, and we’re going to hell in a handbasket. Just and FYI. According to the esteemed mag, there are six superpowers that every girl could use. 1) Turbo thumbs-to get your text joke out the fastest. 2) Ex-Ray vision: to avoid that former flame, of course. 3) Bad-Vibes force field: For all those annoying people who just may rain on your parade. 4) Superbass: so you can rap like the best of ‘em. 5)Gymvisability: to mask that pesky sweat when you get your work out on at the gym. And 6) Like Magnet: so you get thousands of likes with each social media post. Hello fame!

Sweet lord almighty. For real? For real. And we wonder why our next generation is so self-centered and unable to handle the hard stuff-like not winning a metal because you just weren’t as good as the other contenders. Or not getting a job because you have to actually show up and do the work. Or not passing a class because that deadline, was actually a due date, not a guideline. Seriously, can we have some super powers a sister could really use? I’ve got a couple. Here’s my list:

11)      Compassion: The ability to look beyond yourself and to the needs of others, recognizing their trials and heartache and helping them through.
22)      Steadfastness: When the job is hard and the kids are screaming or the paper is due, the continuous ability to push through, knowing that your best is what’s needed and you are capable of success.
33)      Forgiveness: Moving beyond what someone else did and offering forgiveness. Not because we have to, but because we want to.
44)      Self-confidence: Loving the fact that our body sweats because we push it hard and are able to do so.
55)      Grace: Looking beyond what appears on the outside and being able to put ourselves in some one else’s shoes for a bit. Maybe Debbie-Downer is having a rough time and needs a little help, not a little righteous indignation.
66)      Love magnet: Let us look on others with love-not putting ourselves first but being servant-leaders.
Call me crazy, but if we had these super powers, I think our world would be a much nicer place. Sorry Glamour, but you let me down. Okay, I should probably log off. The anime is getting interesting. I’m pretty sure I just saw a beetle with a halo.

Ciao love. See you in Boston.

Okay, the wifi didn’t work on the plane. Liars. So here I am, sitting in the Boston airport. It’s 2 a.m. I should be napping. Was planning on napping-but no. Because here in Boston the terminal gods wake up from their naps to kick you out if you have a connecting flight. Seriously. Lady was crashed out on two chairs put together (totally my plan) and booted all us connecting flights out of the terminal. We can re-enter after going through security. Again. Which opens at 3:30 a.m. There goes my nap. I’m trying not to be too snarky, but it’s late (early?) y’all and I had found a super comfy chair in an almost not blaringly lit area by my gate. Sigh.

But, in happy news, the flight here got substantially better. See the flight attendant liked me. I must have reminded him of someone he knows. I got complimentary wine and Godiva! And no, not all chocolates are created equal. This one was particularly tasty. And he told me I was very pleasant. I’m trying to keep that up, as I sit on the cold floor outside the security check point. Because they may kick you out of the terminal, but they don’t supply chairs. God forbid.

Anywho, aside from the flight attendant thinking I was the best thing since sliced bread (love you too, Adrian!), the passenger next to me was pretty cool too. We ended up talking mental health and Christianity and voodoo and all the fun stuff and I think I have new resources for hitting academia this fall! Wahoo! And maybe some great clinical ideas too! So it wasn’t so bad, in fact probably one of the more enjoyable flights I’ve ever had. And I have books to look up, thanks to my seat-mate. Good times.

Now we just wait. Until The security guards show up and I can peal myself off of this floor and go back through security (again). I’m half tempted to rent a car. How far is it from Boston to Erie?


Goodnight sweet reader. I’ll catch you on the other side of security. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Love Story

This has been a dangerous summer. Three out of four of my children have made trips to the emergency room. And we've come home with stitches and staples and transfers to different hospitals. We have physical wounds and injuries, and we've had emotional hurts and heartaches. There has been a spiritual battle raging over my home, and it has manifested in physical and wounding ways.

Wounds that are not just born of flesh and bone, but of spirit and soul. These are the deepest. These are the most dangerous and we have struggled. But we are not alone. I've heard and read again and again this week that we are pursued. Pursued by the lover of our souls.

Oh sweet reader, the bible-this gospel, it is a love story.

As a woman, I love the love stories. I soak up Hallmark movies and sweet stories. I am lost in the romance and the simplicity of building a life and a relationship with someone who loves. I revel in the pursuit-the first moment when boy sees girl and the game is on, because she's worth it. In every good love story there's a conflict. There's a time when one or the other turns away and questions the validity of the love and relationship. The pros and cons are weighed and they are left to decide if this fragile bond is worth continued work. If it really is love.

We humans are fickle like that. We want it all, but we don't want to put the work in. We want the chase and the romance, but when it comes time to put the work into the relationship, we get lazy. We want to be pursued at all times. We want the constant feel of being sought after. And that's just what Jesus does.

We see it in the old testament, with Gomer and Hosea, Noah, Hannah, Ruth and Naomi, Esther and over and over again. His pursuit of us is flooded through the new testament in the stories of his healing and provision. The miracles and the parables and the time after time again of grace upon grace. Then we see it in full, the ultimate sacrifice. The purest of love and the holiest of offerings-all for our hand. The dowry paid in full. The bride-price met and lavishly overspent.

He has followed us, caught our eye, and patiently waited for us to come to him. The sweetest love story. The most beautiful redemption from ashes. The scars that are made whole and the silver of our souls that is refined through the fires of his refinement.

It has been a hard summer, and it will continue to be so. There will be growing pains and heartache as the spiritual battle fought on this place continues. It would be easy to see this conflict and doubt his love. How simple to say that he must not care-that this relationship means nothing and I am on my own. But I know that this is just humanity talking. I know that the lover of my soul is never absent, never distant, but always present. I know that it is love, as beautiful and as pure as love can be. Because each day we are pursued. And each day we have only but to say yes.

Joining today with Lisha and #GiveMeGrace

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Leaning In

The summer is nearly over, friends. With the scorching of June and the blessed reprieve of a slightly cooler July, I can't wrap my mind around the nearing end of this season. In just a few short weeks I'll be sharpening my metaphorical pencil and heading back to classes, tossed into the throws of academia. How did we get here, to this mark past the mid-point of this year? Of 2015, which just seems to have started a few days ago  when the word faithful wrapped itself around me like a blanket of comfort for what I knew may be a difficult year. 

And it has been. This summer has been one of the most difficult I have ever faced. A spiritual battle has raged in our home and across the tenuous lines of relationships and health. There have been moments (days...months...) when I have wondered if we would come out on the other side. I have found that I've had to lean in. To trust not on myself or on any one else, because we don't have the answers. I have had to rely on the fact that he has promised to be faithful.

And he is. 

I went back and read through where I was at the beginning of the year. There are goals I haven't met. There hasn't been a half-marathon, at least not one I completed. I wanted more peace for this year. yet 2015 has likely been one of the least peaceful years of my life. I often feel as if this world is crumbling around us, and I wonder how long before the Kingdom comes. I see social media alight with news and degradation, like a cyber civil war where we tear each other apart without seeing the fault lines we all stand on. We just wait for the earth to quake from the fire in our words.

But amidst all this, it has also been a year of growth. Leaning in has been something that I've learned and then something I've craved, like the breath I need to survive. It doesn't come natural to me as it stems from a root of vulnerability, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable-which I'm not good at. Yet it is so very necessary, and being vulnerable doesn't mean that you're weak. 

My prayer life has grown, as a result of this learning to lean in. I don't pray for the material, I pray for things unseen and lives to be molded and shaped. I pray for shalom from Jehovah-jireh. I know that I'm not alone, because El Roi watches over me. I have spent more time in the word, committing it to memory and have tried to carve out a morning ritual with #SheReadsTruth and Beth Moore. 

My daughter asked me a few months ago why our radio seems to always be playing the Jesus station. I sensed her teenage apprehension at listening to music that didn't scream of love or broken hearts. I understood it and I remember bargaining with my own mother over the radio dial. My answer to her was simple-it brings me peace in a house that hasn't been so peaceful lately. But what I realize now is that it helps me to continue and lean in as well. And subconsciously, it's helping the others in my home too. I hear them, singing along under their breath-the lyrics playing through their minds unaware. We lean in together, sometimes without even realizing it. 

As this year continues to race towards the finish, (only seventeen more Fridays until Chrismtas!)(you're welcome) I pray to continue to lean. To dig myself in deeper. To remember the promise that he made to me at the beginning of the year. To remind myself to hold up my end and be faithful too. 

Would you like to join me? 

Deep breath...now lean in. 




Friday, July 17, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Free

I missed the party, but I'm here for the words! Joining Kate and my #FMFParty girls.

Prompt: Free

Go.



There is a storm brewing. I can feel it in my bones and smell it on the air. The rolling thunder echos in the hills to the north and the tension builds. But it pales in comparison to the week we've had. A week away from home and my family. A week of stress and wondering. A week of tied down and chains. And it is beautiful to finally be home.

The babe wanted to jump on the trampoline. His chubby little legs begging to be like the big kids and pulling me along with him. Out side, the air swirling around me and pulling my hair in my face I jumped.

One.

Two.

Three. A little higher this time and spread my arms wide, head tossed back in revelry of the feeling.

Free.

That's what it felt like. I watched a crow dip and dive, carrie don the current and I imagined my arms spread wide like the wings of the bird. The air lifting me higher and higher until my feet no longer pressed against the give of the net.

For just a moment, the weight of the world was gone and replaced with a carefree, soul cleansing feeling of freedom and I drank it in. Deep loud gulps like a woman starved for fluids.

My toes landed first, sinking into the trampoline. The peels of laughter and giggles from my middles and little filled the air. I breathed deep the air that is thick with a storm and I let loose the chains that have been wound 'round me so tight.

Free.

Stop.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cobblestone Blessings

I was blessed today. By a woman from Nigeria named Uma, in the middle of a courtyard. She had set up a place on a bench with her wares. Grass baskets with the colors of Africa that I remember so well. I stopped to chat with her, the deep accent and gentle eyes under the grey speckled hair drew me in. She talked to me of her calling by God. The one that brought her from West Africa to my sleepy little state.

She talked of obeying the call. She spoke of discipline. And we prayed as a cord of three stands and two drawn together. And she got me to wondering about entertaining angels and Jesus in our midst. I think she was put there just for me.

It has been a hard week and I'm away from my family and missing my babies. I don't think I've ever been in such a vulnerable place before and my heart is tender and bruised, my eyes red-rimmed and my hands often shaking with concern. There have been few to confide in and even less who could understand the threshing of my soul.

I did not tell Uma my story for in truth it is not fully mine to tell. And yet a part of me feels that she knows. Inherently from the depths of her own heart or through the familiar pull of a calling.

We found sisterhood there on that ancient cobblestone.  I left her with a smile and a wave as she blessed my time here and wove my family in the words of her faith. There is comfort in knowing that the paths we travel may feel lonely and dark, but there are those waiting to travel with us, be it a mile or a step, and it all starts with a simple hello.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Put on Love

It is quiet this morning. I'm up earlier than normal thanks to the birds in the trees beside my bedroom, and the middles and little are still soundly sleeping. The boys in their room and Lil' Girl on the couch downstairs, remnants of a hard sleep and the comfort you find in being where everyone gathers.

It is finally cool this morning, a blessed reprieve from the heat and sticky confines of this summer that got too hot too fast and I'm enjoying the heat in my coffee. It is good to be home. I spend much of last week away, in my other home-the valley of my youth where the mountains are tall and breathtaking and the lakes and rivers abound. There where family has gathered once again, called back by the siren song of the Rockies.

It is a hard line here, just two hours away but a lifetime in the lines of topography and family history. And my heart is still called back to the mountains and the water. I need water like I need air. The ocean is best but lakes and rivers suffice. There is something so calming and peaceful about a great expanse of hydrogen and oxygen mixed to make the life line of the land.

We had a hard day last week. We had many hard days but it seemed to start with one, where the damages of pain done by others rose up in the actions of our children and it was all we could do to hold on and wait for the ebb of the tide to recede. When all calmed for a moment I found myself out on the porch, my heart longing for the sea. The ocean soothes my soul.

But it is twelve hours west of here and nowhere near a short drive, so I held my breath and waited for peace. The next night I laid the babe down on a make-shift bed in my parents house and as he wrapped me 'round his finger asking for just one more hug, one more kiss, I was reminded that we missed this with the older kids.

We were not there for them to ask in a sleepy two year old voice for just one more. Just one more reminder that they are loved. Just one more minute of my time before they are swept away to dreamland. We missed it. We missed the moments of sheer giddy laughter at the sight of something new. We missed the bear hugs of uncles and the secrets from cousins. We missed the trust that was built in knowing that mama was sleeping in the bed next to you and Grandpa was just down the hall. We missed so much.

And they missed it too.

My heart aches for the children they were. The ones with no security and the valid fear of unknown. My patience is stretched when the trust is broken again and again and they don't seem to care. I have to remind myself that they have built walls of protection around their hearts and minds and that those walls may never come down. Even though they're safe now. I have to remember that there has never been a home to them. That this place, in my arms and under my roof still seems temporary. That they haven't found the truth in the vastness of my heart, even though they are trying. I have to recognize that they may never feel like they can go home, because they may never realize what home is.

We are a mess of tangled, broken and bruised hearts, the lot of us. Some days are good, and some we struggle to make it to bedtime. Last night I laid awake in bed, praying prayer after prayer for peace and patience and joy to fill my home. For love to let loose itself in all of our hearts and for joy to flood our thoughts and actions and bind us together. Each day is a reminder to put on love. To wrap it around me like a cloak that gives off light and draws them in.

We are making baby steps in this patchwork of a family, but we are still standing. I find peace in the ripples of the waves on the shore and the gentle sea song in my memory. I pray for it to wash over us like the cleansing waves of a cool lake on a hot summer day. And I bask in the reprieve when it does.


Joining Jennifer Dukes Lee over at 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Does it? #LoveWins

I keep seeing the hashtag #lovewins. It's flooding my social media feeds and even my television with like a technicolor megaphone. It's been interesting watching Facebook over the last few days. Many of my friends are commenting on how pleasantly surprised they are at the lack of negativity over the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage between any consenting adults. Their statements sadden me. They show just how little love really is winning.

I've found that no matter what your stance on a social topic, love is often the last thing that is winning. The common courtesies of kindness seem to only apply when my opinion aligns with yours, otherwise opposite viewpoints are seen not as merely an opinion or belief, but as intolerant. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the grey line you fall on, if there is disagreement, there is discourse. Love doesn't win.

And love isn't winning around the world, friends. Love isn't winning when our eyes are drawn from the realities of life and death to focusing on what your neighbor is going to say about their personal life and readying for a fight. Love isn't winning when you're gearing up and thirsting for an argument. Love isn't winning when the church divides and lines are crossed based on the cross. Love isn't winning when we forget that around the world men, women and children are actually dying for their beliefs.

Love isn't winning in Syria and Iraq, where children are crucified and used as suicide bombers without ever realizing what they are doing. Love isn't winning when little girls are sold into sex slavery for the cost of a package of cigarettes  and mothers who are forced to leave children behind in an attempt to save others. Love isn't winning when men are being decapitated on a beach because they love Jesus. Love isn't winning when people are forced to convert lest they be sentenced to death and torture.

Love isn't winning when a baby is ripped apart in the name of choice. Love isn't winning when a woman suffers in silence because she thought she had no other option. Love isn't winning when a child hides in a closet because the darkness there is better then the fear that accompanies the darkness of their room. Love isn't winning when more than 20,000 children in our own country are left homeless and without a family. Love isn't winning when we tear each other apart.

Maybe I'm jaded. Or maybe I'm just bone tired. But I don't see love winning. Not yet anyway. But I have hope. I've read the last of Revelations. I know who wins, and while it may feel like I'm playing on the losing team sometimes, I know how this story ends.Even so, I brace myself for arguments as I type these thoughts.
But I am comforted by the ending, because it's not just love that wins, it's Jesus.

Joining my friend Lisha Epperson today at #GiveMeGrace.