Thursday, September 7, 2017


"I have a lot of faith and a lot of fear a lot of the time"
 - Anne Lamott

School has started back up,  and the kids' schedule is cresting the peak of the semester roller coaster.  Soon we will be careening fast and furious,  around and around, in and out, upside down and right side up.  Fortunately, what looks like mayhem is actually quite organized!  I am spoiled by carpool and bikes and little legs that carry my kids to and from school, practice, lessons.  On normal days, everyone leaves the house by 8 am freeing my own schedule up to start whatever tasks present themselves to me.  This is most often work, with a load or 2 of laundry, plus a dishwasher full of dishes.  The days come and go, hours ticking by to the metronome of the second hand. 

The summer brought activity as well, and we were thrilled to get to go camping, backpacking, fishing, and driving to some beautiful places.  The Grand Canyon greeted us with scenery so beautiful it shocked me.  The lakes that I paddle boarded on provided contentment and peace as I explored this new hobby.  From walks in our own neighborhood, to hikes up mountains far away, our family experienced a great summer of togetherness. It was a final summer having all 6 of us live at home as our oldest has now moved into the dorms at her college.  As we checked off the days of summer, we moved closer to the new changes and experiences that were ahead.   

Whenever there is "new" in the family, it seems like it brings significant change to my mama heart. It has to learn to beat a new rhythm,  feel new feelings, dance a new dance.   I'm not a super big fan of Change, yet I know that it is a part of our family,  acting as another member demanding time and attention just like everyone else.  Now I don't have a Christmas stocking for "change" or have a place at the table for "change"  - I don't even know how old he/she is... but I know that Change lives here with us.   Change affects us, and challenges us, and requires that we listen and pay attention to it.  
One morning, I sat in my favorite chair on the front porch praying. One of the kids had made some choices earlier in the summer that had me all tied up in knots.  Through tears, I told the Lord... "I cannot breathe over this." My admission came from a place of desperation because when you aren't breathing, you aren't living. And I felt dead.  Even though we were having a summer full of outdoor activities and fun family outings, I was basically walking dead all the way through them; pasting on a smile and doing my "job" as the mom, all the while holding my breath, drowning because of how my world had changed.  As I sat there crying out to Jesus, I felt Him say to my spirit "Let's start with the basics.  Inhale. Exhale".  Ironically,  I will tell the kids when they are hurt or crying that we are going to do yoga breathing... "Inhale. Exhale".  Just the basics.  I felt like God was tapping into something I already knew... that the basics was what I was being instructed to do.  Nothing fancy, just in and out.

That very day, I decided to move with the changes rather than against them, and slowly work on breathing again.  Inhale - Receive God's help.  Exhale - Believe He is with me.  Inhale trust - Nothing is too hard for my Sovereign Lord.  Exhale Fear - My God is holding my hand telling me He will help me.  Day after day, this practice became my very way to live.  I had to speak God's word over these changes that had been threaded through our summer months or else I was going to die inside. When I was speaking, I was breathing.  When I was breathing the trauma felt manageable, the fear less monstrous.  
Now, I spend moments every day with a set of note cards that have written reminders of God's love, His faithfulness and my dependence on Him.  The oxygen of my soul is the scriptures I have copied from my Bible onto the cards.  I am fearful, AND I am faithful.  I am terrified AND I am trusting.  What I have learned this summer is that the expectation isn't that I must be one or the other.  Some days, most days,  I am both.  There are minutes I feel stronger and some weaker.  But just because I have fear, doesn't mean I don't have faith.  And just because I trust in my Heavenly Father, doesn't mean that there aren't  moments where I'm terrified.  My therapist said that when a body/mind/spirit/heart/soul goes through a trauma (the changes that I went through), it's a little bit like being struck by lightning.  All circuits are shorted out, all connections need reattached, portions of whatever has been struck are broken or paralyzed. Her words identified exactly where I was at.  Paralyzed, broken, unattached.   As Catherine Wolf so eloquently taught me this year through her book "Hope Heals", there is a phenomenon called Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome.  The thought that even when you encounter suffering, or hardship in traumatic ways, there is the possibility of growing through it, rather than just stressing through it.  But growth requires breath.  Without oxygen, there is no life.   So I must continue to breathe, and choose to move with the changes that come, and relax in the rhythm  of "Inhale. Exhale" to the praise and Glory of my Emmanuel.

Quote by Ann Voskamp

Thursday, July 13, 2017


This morning, Facebook re-told me the story of  June.  It showed pictures and words that highlighted the events that I had decided were worth mentioning.  A slideshow of happy faces and pretty places was on display, reminding me of how much fun the month was.  And the truth is that the month WAS great.  and yet... I also knew that it wasn't ALL great.  I knew the truth that we had endured some moments in June that didn't get posted; hours spent in places that I wanted to hide from the world. I had cried countless tears,  and prayed innumerable un-posted prayers.

 Social media is an interesting thing.  On the one hand, it keeps a record of the wonderful moment we have.  It holds the memories of what we felt worthy of sharing.  What isn't posted, doesn't get shared; in fact it's as if it never happened.    But that doesn't mean it didn't, doesn't mean we don't remember.  We just bear it without audience.  Many times, I will be with a girlfriend and she will mention something I posted and ask a question or make a comment.  But where is the platform to share the un-postable stuff?  The things that nobody would want to press "like" on.  I find myself staying silent more than I want to.  Keeping the hard things close to my chest.  It isn't that I want people to only think that my life is grand, or delude folks into thinking that my days go by trouble-free.  Surely, we are all better in touch with reality than that.  But I think that I imagine sharing my sad heart and then I entertain the thought that in sharing my burden I will experience rejection.  Sadly, this has happened before, and in the back of my self-protective mind I hear "You're too much... You're too sad... You're too... TOO."  So I stay quiet with only my thoughts to accompany the moments that don't deserve a "like", wishing that I didn't feel TOO much; hoping that I'm wrong when I do actually send the text that says... " Please pray - I'm hurting".

Don't get me wrong... in the last month I HAVE sent the SOS text, I HAVE made the phone call hollering "HELP"!!  I have first-responder -folks, and I am eternally grateful.  But as I walk out my front door into the real world, I feel like I need protected.  Protection from what people THINK life is like, unless they know.  Protection from the assumptions and the ideals. Protection from my own disappointment from the truth that life isn't what I thought it would be.  As I read one of my favorite passages, Psalm 121, I find that the Lord Himself is that protection.  It says

"The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I read a post on Instagram that challenged me.  It was a picture of medical supplies that live in this dad's house, supplies that help his sick son to take breaths.  In this post, highlighting the medical supplies sitting in his kitchen, the writer said...

 "These are not the scenes in life you plan for, but if you stop trying to control them, they'll tell you how they are beautiful."

While I am not yet as progressed as this dad, I am daily trying to be thankful for the unplanned scenes in my life. Interrupted sleeps, trips to the ER, heartaches and heart breaks.   I'm not great with the unplanned, with things that take me by surprise.  I prefer some prep-time for most of life.   I'm behind in my goal to be "ok" with things; chastising myself that I should feel better by now.  But if only you could see my efforts.  I am trying, hoping, asking for God's strength to carry me even in the things that are unplanned by me.  

Deuteronomy 31:8
The Lord Himself goes before you (PREPARATION!!)
and will be with you.
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
Do not be discouraged."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's five short weeks until school is officially out!!  The list of things to do is longer than the days we have to do them! Concerts and projects, meetings and deadlines.  We have a reading log that might NEVER be finished because it's for my youngest child, and well... I'm not going to lie - I am pretty tired of signing my name to a reading log.  Must press on... Must press on... 

Two major endings are upon us.  We have one mini who is graduating from elementary school, and one mini who is graduating from high school.  Both occasions call for great celebration and We. Are. On. It!!!!!  The years that the kids have spent at both schools have been been full of things that have educated their minds AND shaped their personalities.  

When Marky first stepped onto the high school campus, I wouldn't have ever imagined what blessings were coming.  Dance team, jazz choir, concerts, friends, opportunities for travel, games to attend.  It has been 4 years of constant go-go-go, and we have loved it.  Now, this child is ready.  Cooked.  SUPER ready for the next phase of life.  Adulting.  Just like high school, I'm guessing that she will find it mostly fun, sometimes challenging, and always full of growing opportunities.  She was born for greatness and this is such an exciting time for her.  

We've spent 13 consecutive years with 4 kids at our elementary school.  All of the kids walking the same halls, driving the same route to school, sharing many of the same teachers year after year.  We've had amazing years here and we have had some years that we just had to get through (4th grade girls - ICK!!!). There have been 4 different principlals, and so many teachers that we adored, (also too many substitute teachers that the kids did NOT adore!!) jump rope competitions and ECO week, talents shows, book bowl competitions and too many concerts to count.  Year after year, the kids have duplicated drawings and repeated school projects, each one designed to be the same yet finished with their own unique touch.  No two have looked alike, all four done completely different, yet all meeting the same criteria - DO YOUR BEST!  And this boy has!!  He has made some amazing friends and accomplished great things, and now he can't wait to join sister #3 at the middle school.  

We're leaving these schools better than when we started them.  This oldest child and this youngest child, saying farewell to  all of the good that they've done, and carrying with them all of the GREAT things that they have been entrusted with.  Strong character, great minds, and memories for a lot of tomorrows.