Archives for category: Parenthood


My son called a few weeks ago with some exciting news and all I kept thinking as I sat there smiling on the other end of the phone was that I was thankful for the front row seat to so many cool things. And I told him so.  But as soon as I said it, I thought, well, that sounds pretty presumptuous.  But he agreed and was like “yeah, me too Mom…” And as I thought about wanting that front row seat, I kind of laughed at how things have changed through the years.


I grew up liking to sit in the middle row. In class. At church. At weddings and public functions, I liked being not too far back, but not too up-close-and personal in the front row either.  Then, when I became a mom of quite a few children, I quickly found a new and great appreciation for the back row…the VERY back row.  It’s close to the door in case there’s a need for a quick get away.  It’s important to have a clear safe straightaway exit if there’s an unexpected (but expected) need for a diaper change, feeding, or disciplinary “pow-wow.” Yep, way back when as the variables in my life increased and my world included lots of unknowns, that’s when I started so appreciating the back row. I could focus on the tasks at hand without feeling the unnecessary strain of doing it in front of lots of onlookers.  So for years, the back rows were where I felt most comfortable because keeping my ‘little ducks in a row’ …or not…was easier there.

chase and zac in wilmington

But, how ironic is it that now, I WANT front row seats!  And how ironic that those very ‘children’ who gave me such a grand appreciation for the back row are now the ones who are giving me a front row seat to so many amazing and beautiful things in my life?  ALL of  their journeys and successes, their dilemmas, their failures (or not-yet-successes), their quirks and jokes and laughter, their new arenas and experiences that come with them…ALL of it makes me thankful for the glimpse, the window, this front row seat  that I have into their lives.

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But it’s a window… It’s not a door to bust through and invade and take over. It’s a window. It’s not a camping out spot,…it’s a view, a seat, a place to sit and marvel and watch and experience. It’s a place to be available to these “stars” in my life as they live out the scenes of their every day lives…available to reach out to if they want to, or merely observe if they carry on and don’t. It’s a place to enjoy and weep and pray and laugh and be through it ALL.  All that I see, that is. Am so aware, there’s so much of who we all are and do and be that others don’t see. (Thankful that prayer can reach even there…) But the part I do see makes me so thankful. And it keeps me on the edge of my seat in this thing called life. In a good way, in a hard way, and in a way that keeps me so very alive and vested.


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There’s nothing like the joy that comes from watching someone ‘do their thing.’ It’s especially sweet when you’ve had a backstage view of all the rehearsals and practices, attempts and fallings, fears,  and fatigue and risings-up-again, …all of the not-yet moments that were so very necessary to the developing of the moments of doing-one’s-thing. And we all have a ‘thing’. Just gotta find it. And help others find it. Because we were born for “it.”


Am thinking God knows how we’re wired. He knows “the paths that we should take…”  He knows what makes us tick, or ticked off, what makes us passionate, what makes us feel most alive and in our zone. And when we find that ‘it’, it is a joy. But not just to us. It’s a joy to those who have front row seats, to those who are the beneficiaries of the use of the giftedness, beneficiaries of people using their skills to make an impact can whatever way they can. At different seasons of our lives,  we can lose  our “it” that we were born for by having it take a back seat to the needs of the now, the needs of those in our lives.  Moms can get really good at that…losing (or postponing) their “it” that is. So can husbands and dads who are trying so hard to provide and be there for their families.

hope helping

But we’re not meant to always and only have a front row seat to others’ lives. Others in our lives can also have a front row seat to ours. Have been cognizant of that in recent years and am hopeful that in the same way that I laugh out loud and have tears streaming down face with pride watching people do their thing, that those in my life can actually even have moments like that with me. Because we are in this journey together…however short or long it may be. And we impact each other. We do. We inspire or we don’t. We encourage or we don’t. We build up or we don’t. None of us can be all things to all people. We’re not meant to have that place, to fill those kind of voids. But am thinking that our love can point to the God who is and does. Am thinking He is meant to have that place in our lives and does fill the voids. And we can be little windows in people’s lives to remind them of that.



I love that some people will have arenas filled with people watching them ‘do their thing’. They will be celebrated by tens of thousands of people and will be well known. They will be encouraged by many and applauded. But I equally love watching someone quietly be faithful to their task when there’s no audience, no cheers, no front row seats. That the beauty that shines in the arena, shines in the quiet places that no one sees. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the gifts of the precious lives in our midst. How many are the opportunities daily missed because we fail to see the value of those in our midst and to connect. Who do you have a front row seat to?  Are you glancing at your watch as they share and do their thing or are you engaged, vested, encouraging, applauding even?  And what do people who have a front row seat to me see?   Do I even realize that they are there? Do I know how my actions impact them?


We only see in part now, for sure, but I’m asking the questions of myself because I’m so aware that we impact each other. And the people in our lives are gifts. Gifts. To be treasured, encouraged, admonished, loved on, even more so when they might not deserve it or feel worthy of it. “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.”  The world sure can be a harsh and angry place. Although technology  has given rise to the potential for connections, people seem more divided and fragmented than ever. Am thinking that a little encouragement, a little applause and recognition, a little awareness that keeps eyes off me and on someone else, can go a long, long way. For those that are cheered, and those that do the cheering as well.  The cool thing is, in this thing called life, one minute you’re sitting in the front row seat, and the next, someone is sitting in the seat watching  you.  And if we let ourselves, we can be encouraged and moved and drawn in by the beauty of the other person’s story, their script, their life. Humility can be a gateway to inspiration and encouragement and growth on both sides of the ‘stage’.


Would that we would have a front row seat to applaud and encourage many. In word, in action, in prayer…would that we could get our eyes off of ourselves and our agendas to enjoy the ride, even when it isn’t focused on us. Self-centeredness looks to  me more like a merry-go-round with the ego-centric self going around and around and around and around and getting nowhere. And all the spectators kind of do the same thing. Front row seats to others’ lives can definitely feel like a rollercoaster ride for we experience the ups and downs and comings and goings and failures and victories, and all of the emotions that go with it. But I’m thinking it’s a lot more impactful …and fun. And I’ve learned that whether you’re in the front row seat of the rollercoaster, or the back, you’ll still experience the whole ride. (My kids have encouraged me to do the front row seat on that a time or two…and I’ve encouraged one or two of them to get on the rollercoaster…)  But the merry go round…there’s no front or back, there’s just a point that the whole world of the merry-go-round moves around. Around and around and around.

So, am thinking that front row seats are a good thing. On rollercoasters, in class, and when it comes to having eyes to see the people around us. Yeah, the ride can be a little wild sometimes…up, and down, and up and down, but there’s nothing like a good story unfolding before our eyes…if we have the eyes to see it. Here’s to front row seats and rollercoaster rides, and encouragement that puts our eyes less on ourselves and more on others. Here’s to front row seats and using our gifts and encouraging others to do the same. But let’s not do away with back rows…there are moms out there with young kids who need the back rows…for a season anyway. There’ll be plenty more years for front row seats…


So there’s a few (more than a few) thoughts on front row seats. Here’s to yours and mine.

Blessings ~


P.S. I love Zephaniah 3:17 that says the Lord delights in us with singing.. that He is in our midst and delights in us with shouts of joy. He delights in us like a dad on the sidelines or a mom in the stands or a sister or brother in the audience cheering like crazy. He sees. He watches. He delights.  Am thinking His is the ultimate front row seat of it all. That’s pretty cool. And He calls us to know Him and love Him and see what He’s doing…to have a front row seat to His heart as He has a front row seat to ours. And that’s the most amazing story of all.

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

…”shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. “

Philippians 2:15-16



In the Spring, my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful mandevilla plant. It’s been growing beautifully and is filling up the trellis behind it. But one day, I noticed that a vine had reached the top of the trellis. And there was nothing close for it to cling to. Day after day, it grew in the same direction…seemingly reaching for something to cling to. It grew and grew and was just floating in the air, apparently searching for a landing spot.


So, me and my rescuing self decided that I’d go ahead and help that little plant find a support, something to cling to. I gently took the tender shoot and led it back to the trellis. I thought it was no big deal and that the vine would go on growing, and twist and twirl itself around the trellis.  I was wrong.

Within a few days, the shoot was turning brown, and soon, part of the vine fell off all together.  Where was the point of decay?  Seemed to be right where me and my well-meaning self moved that vine. I was pretty shocked because when I had moved it, it was done slowly and easily and seemed to place no stress whatsoever on the plant. But obviously it had. It wasn’t ready to cling. Not to what I had chosen. And me choosing what and where to cling to for that plant wasn’t helpful. It was damaging. It was forced…and the mandevilla plant would have no part of that. Instead of helping, I hurt it.

(Case in point. See the healthy shoot on the left?  It’s doing just fine without me. And the one on the right..far right kind of whitish looking shoot…it’s still recovering from my ‘helping’.)

So here’s the thing. We’re made to cling. We are. Like mandevilla vines searching for a trellis, we are made with hearts and minds and bodies that yearn for connection. And sometimes the people, ideas, or things we cling to make us stronger, wiser, and more productive. And sometimes the people, ideas, or things we cling to make us weaker, stupid-er,  and ill-equipped. And we, the cling-ers get to choose. But you don’t get to choose what another person clings to. Nope. They’ve gotta choose that for themselves.

As a mom, as a wife, as a friend, there have been so many times when I thought I knew what (or Who) might be best for my loved one to cling to. And no matter how well-intentioned my thoughts or desires were, interventions that force issues could be more damaging than helpful. ( Note: I so know interventions can help lay things on the table, and persuade, and bring things to light, but bottom line, a cling-er chooses what it clings or does not cling to.)    Kind of like with my mandevilla.

Like a mandevilla vine that is not yet ready to cling, sometimes folks need time on their own to decide when and to what to cling to. We can know something is so good and right and true and ‘gently bend’ their little shoots of a son or friend or husband toward the trellis of truth. But if that plant isn’t ready, it won’t cling. Might have to be floating in clouds of in between for awhile.  So often, well-meaning folks can ‘arrange’ (force) connections that aren’t healthy. Seems to me that timing is important.  It also seems to me that willingness is important.

So now, lesson learned, with regards to the mandevilla at least! There are three shoots flying in the wind above the trellis, and I’m not intervening. The mandevilla is on its own. I’m pretty sure it’ll find its way. And I’m believing that for some of those in my life as well. Gonna pray, encourage, and ensure some supports are available….and then wait. Am often amazed at how well things work out when I pray and get out of the way.  With mandevilla plants, and with people.


Am believing there’s a Sovereign Hand of grace that knows a bit more and has more power than I do. For me. For you. For those we love.


Blessings ~



“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word…”

Psalm 119:25


Nothing like coming back into your classroom after a long day of teaching and wondering if anything you did, said, or taught made a difference…and then, then… seeing this. It encouraged me to the core, especially when it came as a sweet message from a little guy whom I have heard say, “too hard”, “I can’t”, and “I won’t” so many times. (And the one whom I have had to ‘redirect’ quite sternly and emphatically so very many times.) Yep.  Made me smile just about like the drawing.

Holding on to the truth that even when we wonder if anything is making a difference (as parents, spouses, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, ….people…), well, we gotta follow the same advice we give….to try, to press on, to make an effort, to do what we can, to take one step at a time, to be patient with ourselves, to….Hope.  Yep. Gotta hold onto hope even when we feel like saying “I can’t”, “I won’t” or “too hard”…  We never know who may be listening and taking it to heart. (Maybe sometimes who we may least expect…) Yes, holding onto hope is  a good thing.

Blessings ~


“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:23-25

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…:

Philippians 4:13


So, my son and I went to Verizon today. I usually dread it because of the wait time, but it was only a 15-minute wait tonight, so I just walked around and looked at the oh-so-upgraded phones that dwarf my little iPhone 4s (which I am a proud carrier of by the way.) Anyway, as I looked at one of the phones, it was kind of in the case catty-corner and so I tried to straighten it, to fix it….

Wrong move.

I soon saw flashing lights and heard an awful alarm sound.  Oops.  Big oops. And then I saw a man running around the store looking for the turn-off-the-alarm-key.  And then I raised my hand and smiled and said that this phone over here was the one ‘ringing’. Ha. He waved back and did not look in the least bit concerned that I was a threat to his phone or to him. (Maybe I should be offended by that, but I so was not…)

Now years ago, I would have been ultra-embarrassed and possibly mortified by setting off an alarm in the store. The running-around-man finally found the key and he smiled and said, “No worries. It happens all the time.”  And maybe, that’s part of the reason why I wasn’t embarrassed. (Well, I was a little embarrassed, but not totally mortified.)  Maybe it was partly because I have made enough mistakes  (they ‘happen all the time’) to know what are those mistakes to stress over and what are those to just laugh at myself about and move on.  We all got a good laugh (yes, at my expense), and thankfully within about 3 minutes, we moved on.

But after the fact, I did decide that I would no longer browse the phones, but would rather choose to sit with my hands to myself  and wait. I think it was a good choice, as no other alarms went off in the meantime. (That’s the beauty of making mistakes…learning from them!)  But as I was sitting there I kept thinking about the whole propensity to fix things.  Sometimes we moms get in that mode of ‘fixing’. Fixing collars, fixing hair, fixing this, fixing that, (even catty-corner phones).  Sometimes we wives do as well. Trying to fix an unwilling ‘fixee’ might turn out to be a dangerous path. Depending on who is or is not wanting to be fixed, it can really backfire. A lot. I can remember a dear mentor of mine joking (sort of)  with her husband in her strong New York accent  “You’re not my Holy Spirit…” And that’s the bottom line. There’s a readiness factor in being fixed. Sometimes pre-mature fixing only slows the process and builds resistance.

So here’s my two cents. Sometimes, it’s so not my place to fix things or people. It’s my place to observe, to see, to pray through, but to not try to wade into the waters of fixing things that aren’t mine to fix. It can create lots more chaos. Sometimes that chaos might involve damaged relationships or enablement of wrong patterns, or heeding off natural consequences that would be the best teacher.  And sometimes trying to fix things might create chaos that comes with alarms and bells and people running around crazy trying to undo the ‘fixing’.

So, my two cents says, that fixing things that I am responsible for…am all for it.  But when it comes to fixing things that other people are responsible for, well, maybe it’s best to sit back, pray, and keep my hands to myself. We all have our own paths to walk…and our own mistakes to learn from. Take it from me and my little trip to Verizon.



P.S.  There may be some of you who were concerned about Tanner’s embarrassment or mortification factor. He handled it just fine. Am thinking he’s had some practice with not being embarrassed by his mom’s blunders (although this was the first one involving flashing lights and alarms. oops…I mean it was only the second one involving alarms and lights …there was that speeding ticket…). My little blunders have helped teach my teenagers to let it roll…and Grace abounds 🙂

P.P.S. And of course, there are definite times of helping, fixing, and aiding…but one thing I always need to remember is to make sure I’m working on fixing the stuff in myself before I try to fix the same issue in someone else. Walking alongside and mutual encouragement /accountability is a lot different than “fixing”.  Like Jesus said in Matthew 7, we’ve gotta make sure we have the plank out of our own eye before we try to take a speck out of another’s. Humility can be a huge advantage when the time for fixing does arise. My two (more) cents.



quiet hope

So this one?  She’s at that place where there are lots of “life-changing” decisions.  There are lots of pressures to make the right choices.  There are lots of responsibilities and voices and people saying this and that, this and that and expressing their views.  And that’s all well and good for a time. I mean, it’s true.  But there are some things that we need to remember amidst all the voices and the noise of a world that often screams of what we are supposed to or not supposed to be, do, and think.

Yes…in a world of lots of opinions, and thoughts, and ideas and truths and options and activities and noise to fill our worlds from morning till night, well…it’s always good to have a little solitude.  To enjoy the view.  To see things from your own lens, your own perspective, your own place and space.  It’s always good to breathe a little fresh air and know that in the end, you’re the one sitting in your space.  You’re the one walking in your own shoes.  You’re the one who gets to or has to live with the choices and all that comes with them.  In the end, we find our way by taking time to stop, think, pray, see, and just take it all in.

Cause, bottom-line, there’s a lot of beauty.  There’s a lot of beauty around us.  There’s a lot of beauty within us.  There’s a lot of beauty in how the world around us and the world within us can connect.  And it’s good to find a little time and space away from the noise to be intentional about making that connection occur.  A little solitude is a good, good thing.

I love the verse that says, “In quietness and trust is your strength.” It’s Isaiah 30:15.I’ve quoted that verse to myself so many times.  I’ve written it on reminders on my mirror. I’ve underlined and starred it in my Bible.   But there’s more to the verse.  It says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength. But you would have none of it.'”   Yikes.  I so don’t like that last part.  That doesn’t pertain to me, does it?  Of course not.  Or maybe, yes, it does.  Interesting how the strength, the quietness, the trust comes after the repentance and the rest.  There’s a turning from and a turning to.  There’s a turning from the way that’s counter to the way that God would have us live, and there’s a turning to the Sovereign God who  is worthy of our trust.  One leads to the other.

And this Sovereign God?  He knows my girl right there.  He knows her better than I do. And He knows her gifts even better than I do.  And He loves her and knows what’s before her and behind.  And He loves her right where she sits. He sees where she will be and what she will do.  My prayer is that she always takes the time to “Be still and know that He is God” and that she’ll know that no matter what the decisions ahead, there’s grace that fills in the gaps, and the love of God that can fill, direct, redeem and renew and restore. Oh, and all of the pressure regarding “life changing” decisions?  Yes, I know they are important, but all is well for those who cling to the God who doesn’t change.  There’s strength in trusting the God who truly Has us in His hand and can use all things for the good for those who love Him and seek Him. Yes, in quietness and trust is our strength. Thankful for that Truth today.

Blessings ~






So, in recent weeks, I have heard reference to a story multiple times. It’s a story in the Bible of a man who had been sick for a long time.  I’m not certain of the infirmity, but according to scripture, he had been waiting to be healed for close to 4 decades.  Yep, almost 40 years of waiting.  So Jesus comes along and asks him a very obvious question. This is how John 5:1-5 tells the story…After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

I bet there were some raised eye brows and then maybe some snickers then. Of course he wants to get well, right?  I mean, of COURSE!  But Jesus asks.  And Jesus is good at cutting through all the layers of facade to the heart of the issue.  He merely turns the most obvious assumption (that this man indeed does want to get well) into a question which encourages the man to take ownership of the issue.  And what does the man say? It’s pretty comical actually. He starts the blame game a bit. John 5: 6 states,   The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”    Observation number one…we need each other.  He could’ve asked for help.  Observation number two, he blames his not being able to get in the water on having others stepping in before him. If it were his child he were concerned about or a family member, would he have pushed through with everything in his power to ensure that they’d get in the pool.  Did he advocate for himself and his ‘becoming well’ with that same passionate whatever-it-takes motivation?

And I wonder…I wonder if he had actually become somewhat comfortable with his infirmity.  That is to say that  I wonder if his scars, his infirmity, his lack of ‘being well’ became such a part of his identity that he had lost the drive that would make him scoot with abandonment to the pools with the desire to be healed. I wonder if he forgot what it was like to desire to live without the affliction.  Sometimes, when things are not within our reach, it just hurts too much to desire it, to hope.  A hope deferred truly does make the heart sick.  We wait, to no avail, and then we stop expecting, hoping, wishing, and become stuck in the place where we are. Or, we realize that it’s “easier” (short-term), to just stay stuck…because it takes a heck of a lot of effort to move from complacency to becoming well.

I recently had the honor of being around a number of people who struggle with alcohol and various addictions.  They had all gotten to the place where they were tired of sitting at that pool’s edge living with their battles and most said, “YES”, I want to get well. They said “yes to working hard, sweating through, and overcoming the challenges they were facing as much as it depends on them. Some had had friends, or legal ramifications,  literally drop them in that pool of water, that is to say, the desire for them to get well was owned by someone else. These were the ones  that seemed half-hearted in the attempts.  But the ones who knew how life had gotten so out of control that truly said, “YES”, I want to get well…those seemed to be the ones who were hungry, passionate, striving for something more.

A loved one of mine was in their midst.  He kept saying that after the number of weeks he was there, he could do this on his own.  He could muster up the energy and courage to fight the battle on his own.  And I was terrified.  Because, although he had taken steps and had the desire to get well, the “well” that he wanted was very shallow…for it takes time to deal and heal and develop patterns that reach to the core of who we are and heal from within.  I know God can heal in a heartbeat, but I also know that there are scars that come along with almost any affliction/sin/sickness… some visible scars, some so deep that we don’t even know how much they effect our daily lives. And I wanted more for him.  So much more.  I didn’t want the toe dipped in the water and a short – term heal, I longed for him to have that total immersion, that total commitment to being truly ‘well’.

So here’s the thing.  He said yes.  He mustered up the courage to say that there was a big need that he couldn’t handle on his own.  He  said yes to the fact that it wasn’t a quick fix, but would take time, energy and a lifestyle change. He said yes to the commitment to courageously seek change, to seek to be well not just for the short term but for a life time.  He said yes.  And all I kept thinking was that he’s alive again. ALIVE.  And he knows and I know that when you’re alive, you feel things.  Good things. Bad things.  You’re not numb, anesthetized to it all, you feel…  Complacency can feel like comfort, but looks more numb.  Risking, living, breathing, changing, all costs.  It hurts. And there are times in our lives when we are so aware of that. Taking risks, growing, sets us up for rejection.  But it also sets us up for a possibility to truly make an impact, to share, to lose, to gain, to LIVE and ultimately to live the life that God created us to live.  He knows the plans He has for us.  It is ours to walk in them, …or not.

Well, I say all this to say, that I’m thinking there are areas in my life where I’m a little too content to sit by the pool.  There are areas in my life where I’ve been passively “waiting”, when I need to be actively scooting toward the waters of change.  I love how Jesus can change, redeem, renew things in a heartbeat, but often, the first steps begins with our acknowledgement not only of our infirmity/sin/habits, but of our desire to be well.  He will do what we can’t if we will offer Him what we can. I love that so much.  God loves us…so much.  He doesn’t want us stuck, comfortably numb waiting for what He has already offered.  He calls us to a life of risk, of adventure, of passion, not a life of waiting by the pool.  Life is short.  Life is also a gift…not just to us, but to those around us.  We impact.  If our lives are spent blaming others for why we aren’t this or that, we may be missing out on so much.  LIke the man by the pool, we can rationalize why we are still stuck in this or that area of our lives, but we need to ask ourselves, do we want to get well?  Excuses can so be rationalize and laughed at and made light of.  But excuses keep us stuck.

So, when my loved one said, “YES” to taking the short term hard road for the long term gain, I rejoiced.  He was choosing to grow.  He was choosing to LIVE.  And each step, each day, each “yes” he says in his life, is like a little green shoot on a vast tree.  It comes quietly, and appears so small, so tender at first, but over time, the leaves grow and cover a vast tree.  One step plus one step plus one step leads to a journey of growth.  And he is being an incredible example to me of being courageous to say I don’t want to be ‘stuck’ here anymore.  And as I watch the process unfold, I am aware that it truly is a process. Like so many good things, it takes time.

And that brings me back to the photo, to the visual that encourages me so much.  See that little teeny tiny shoot of a green leaf?  It’s just one little leaf.  But one plus one plus one plus one equals an infinite number.  Pretty soon the leaves will just cover the tree.  What will draw out those little leaves?  Sunlight. The sunlight beckons the little leaf on out…and provides nutrients to allow for that little leaf to grow and join other little leaves that end up covering a tree.The love of Christ is so like that.  The warmth, the light, the truth of Christ just beckons us onward, to be enveloped and embraced by the wonder of being loved. And when we know we’re loved so deeply, so totally, in such an all consuming way, it makes us want to grow, to leave beyond the sin, the complacency, the habits, and flourish. It makes us want to scoot with abandonment to the pool and say ‘yes’, I want to be well. I want to be WELL.  And then….then we can say, ‘it IS well, it IS well with our souls’…  Thanks be to God for the love that fills and moves and motivates and heals to depths we don’t even know are there.  May we forever be aware of the love of God that urges us to leave behind the complacency and not only say ‘yes’ to being well, but be willing to scoot and  jump into the pools with abandonment.  I can’t help but think that like a loving Father waiting in the pool for his child to jump in the water, God is waiting with arms wide open for those who trust in Him.  Here’s to little steps and big leaps.



“…His loving kindness leads me to repentance.”

 Romans 2:4


Chase in time out

This little guy knows a thing or two about endurance.  He endured many a “time out” or two.  I endured giving many a “time out” or two.  Per day.  When he was between the ages of 3 and 4, he sat by trees, in chairs, at the edge of swimming pools, on stools, walls, and on the sidewalk. He was quite consistent with pushing boundaries, which as you mommas out there know, meant I needed to try to be consistent with responding to them.

And for that I needed endurance. Big time!  Many times I considered turning a blind eye to what needed to be addressed because  my mommy-endurance was fading.  Phew.  Thank goodness that this stage didn’t last too too long.  And thank goodness that we only need to endure one time out, one altercation, one issue, one moment at a time. I think that’s a crucial part of the key to endurance.  Living in the moment, one moment at a time.

We laugh about it now.  I have pictures of Chase in time outs all over the place.  (This one is my favorite though!) Did the endurance pay off?  I think it did.  He still has the stubborn, tenacious spirit that will help him to endure many ups and downs of life, but by the time he was 5, he learned a thing or two about respecting boundaries!  I want to believe it made a difference.

Discipline is never fun.  But it is for our good.  Our long term, deeply-impacting good.

Hebrews 12:5-10 says, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him.  For those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”  Hebrews 12: 5-10.

I want to believe that in disciplining my son, I helped to “make straight paths for his feet”, and encourage his strength and tenacity and endurance to be used for the right things in the right direction.  And now, as my family goes through some “time-outs” of our own, I want to believe that God will use them for our good and His glory.  Because, after the discipline, comes the freedom.  After Chase sat in that time-out at the park, he ran and laughed and played and his conscience was clear.The “sentence” was over and he was free to enjoy his little 4 year old life with lessons learned. May we endure discipline with the deeply abiding belief that God is good. And He is with us.  And………weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (or the time after the time-out!)



hope helping

Thankful for

hands that help
clean pots
running water
family gathered
linen table cloths
candle light
sunlight through the window
daughter who loves to cook
sons who love to eat
this moment in time

Yes, I’m thankful for simple, daily, ordinary things
that feel extraordinary when I step back
to realize how very thankful I am for them.

Purple Ribbons

I put a wreath on the door today. It was just a simple thing. I didn’t even know if anyone would really notice. I loved the simplicity of the wreath with evergreens and pine cones and white lights. I added a shimmery purple ribbon and it reminded me of an advent wreath. All of my children would be coming home and under one roof for Thanksgiving, and from the time they walked through the door to the time they left, I wanted them to feel welcome.

I did the ‘mom’ things like baking and lighting candles and making sure we have enough clean towels. I made a few trips to the grocery store to check all the things off of the list. But more than anything…I rested. I prayed. I read my Bible. I sang. I even blogged! I cleaned but knew that if it didn’t all get done it wouldn’t be the end of the world. On this very busy day, I was even in my lavender robe until 11:15 in the morning! I think it’s been ten years since I’ve been in my robe that late in the day.

And now, at day’s end, I’m sitting here smiling. I’ve bear hugged my kids and welcomed them home. They’ve eaten and laughed and spent time hanging out with each other while I get some other things started in the kitchen. We’ve already burned a batch of cookies, and I’m working on the pumpkin pies. (Not burning them, baking them!) The turkey that has been “thawing” in the downstairs refrigerator for four days is still as frozen as all get out, so I’m guessing there will be a saga of the turkey this year. And almost all of the bacon that was cooked and ready for the breakfast casserole has already been eaten in B.L.T. sandwiches by some of my hungry sons. But all is well and I am thankful for this moment right here right now with the people who are with me in my home.

It’s one of those days that has been full of flaws, but I can look back on and just smile. Those ‘little things’ that I didn’t even know if they would be noticed? Three of my kids commented on the wreath. My daughter commented on the candles and my son said it felt like a breath of fresh air walking in to our home. Maybe the little things make a big difference. Sometimes making a little effort can make all the difference in the world. I’m learning to once again, make those efforts to really move toward my children who are really not children at all, but teens and twenties fast moving into their adult years.

Sometimes as a mom, I need to remember that they are here for a short time. My children are gifts and not a given. My relationship with them is a gift…not a given. It is something to be treasured, nurtured, and worked on. I’ll always be their mom, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will want to come home for the holidays or want to spend time seeking me out. I will never be on the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. I will never have my own recipes printed in a cook book. But as my children become adults, I want them to know that no matter where they go, or how old they are, there is always a place for them here in our home. And home is not the place, it’s the “who” loves them that is in the place. They belong. And if putting a wreath or lighting a candle or making BLTs with the bacon that’s meant for the breakfast casserole can help them to know that to their core, then so be it. Sometimes “what” has been done points to the “who” that loves them.

Oh, and here’s a side note. I’m a child too. We all are. The greatest gift in my life is knowing that “I belong”, and one day, I’ll be Home. I love that scripture says that God is preparing a place for those who love Him. I guess He’s the best Home-Maker of all. I can’t imagine the “Welcome Home” we as Believers will receive when we are finally Home. From what scripture says, no one can. But I have a feeling it will be more about the “Who” than the “What” that we’ll see. In fact, I know it will.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

1 Corinthians 2:9

The Culture of Baseball

baseball chase running sepia
It really is like a little microcosm, this world of baseball.

Players dress alike from their cleats, to their hats and everything in between, for they are a team, united in purpose. Each individual has a role to play, and if they succeed at playing their role well, it effects the whole team. One for all and all for one, but each one competing for a spot on the field, not on the bench. They play with heart and soul, strength, and endurance, patience and tenacity. They are an obedient brood: when the coach yells “SLIDE!”, they slide. When he directs them to “Bunt” they resist the urge to blast one out into center field, and they bunt.

Baseball Line

Coaches of baseball must have nerves of steal, for it is a game of strategy, and the techniques major on minutiae. Every detail matters from the position of the feet, to the timing of the swing, to the turning of the head. It all matters, and one little change up to the left or right can be all the difference between a home run hit and a fly out at short.The coaches have their signals that can be intricate and complicated motions to tell their player a one word command such as “Steal”, or “Bunt”. It is indeed another language that the players must learn, and follow or risk the wrath of the team and coaches for not knowing the signal and falling short of the team plan.

Baseball Culture sepia

Spectators know the ins and outs of each player’s strengths. They watch and cheer and critique the players and coach’s every move, for they know the game. They enjoy the food, for in the culture of baseball, there are definite foods to be expected in the concessions stand. Hot dogs and popcorn, pizza, and soft pretzels with mustard, candy bars and nachos are the stuff good concessions stands will always serve. Soda and slushies are the favorite drinks. There are children who come and are out with their mitts trying to catch the foul ball. Others just run up and down the stands getting the next slushie or bag of popcorn.

There are statisticians who keep track of every success or failure down to the strike or error. There are umpires, announcers on the field, who have perfected their own signature announcements of “STRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKE” and “BAALLLLLLs”, and “YOu’re OUT!!”s. There are box seat announcers who dramatically inform the crowd of the last play and who’s to come, and entertain with songs that everyone knows the words to.

There’s a love for baseball that lives in the heart of America. It’s a sport of teamwork and tradition and guts. The Babe Ruths and Jackie Robinsons of yesterday inspire the youth of today to play hard, work hard, and let the love of the game propel them to excellence both on and off the field. That’s the beauty of the effect of baseball…on a good day, the player takes what he’s learned on the field and in the day in day out practice, and applies it to doing their best off the field and in life. The culture of this microcosm of baseball can be a great influence on a kid going from ‘showing up’ to truly growing up. Players learns to sacrifice their agenda for the team, and learn the value of working hard. And the great thing is, that working hard makes playing hard all the more fun. After all, baseball, in its purest form, was just a game that was intended to be fun. Period.

Without Tide
So bring on the popcorn and baseball and mitts and hot dogs and bats and dirty uniforms. And you moms of baseball players, bring on the ibuprofen and ice packs and laundry detergent with bleach.Baseball season can now extend late into the Fall when it is 32 degrees outside and the parents of the “boys of summer” are freezing with their blankets on the bleachers. Yes, tomorrow at our house will be another Saturday of waking up at 6 a.m. to begin a day of more of this beloved sport of baseball. And this mom has taken this time to remind herself of the reasons why this beloved sport is beloved. Because when it is late on a Friday night and the weather forecast for the morning is 29 degrees, this mom might just prefer to sleep in on a Saturday…but will follow the lead of her disciplined son and sacrifice for the good of the team. Go Post 82!

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