Here are the facts, no interpretation or assumptions. Just what I saw. You can decide what you think was going on: Continue reading The Tiny Pink Suitcase I Can’t Put Down
My pastor used that phrase this Fathers’ Day as he prayed for the dads in our congregation and I was floored. The truth and responsibility of that observation was sobering, as it should be. Father. Oh, how wonderful it would be if all fathers aspired to be worthy of sharing that title with God. And thankfully, many do.
But today I read a blog post by a dear woman who was only able to overcome the damaging influence of her own father by recounting the negative lessons she learned from him. She concluded that it was the lesson of stubbornness he modeled that ultimately saved her from him.
Reading the comment string on that post was wrenching. Readers shared about dads who had abused, dads who had died, dads who had left, dads who were just emotionally…missing. So many people have had negative experiences with fathers, and as fathers. Continue reading Sharing A Title With God
Last year I spent a fair amount of time focusing on the concept of harmony. It was my “One Word” for the year, taking the place of a litany of resolutions (which I can never keep) and focusing my attention in a singular direction that would be especially helpful to me personally.
Funny how these things work. 2013 is well past but I find I still focus on harmony and I continue to put into practice many of the things I discovered last year. I do believe that was the point of the whole exercise!
Just yesterday I came across yet another excellent way to think about harmony. Continue reading If Harmony Could Choose Its Own Team
This past week I was looking for something in a closet and came across a box of old handwritten letters. They were still in their original envelopes, held together with rotted rubber bands. I pulled them out and the next thing I knew, I had lost an entire afternoon.
What a kick to read stories from my then-25 year old sister gushing about the new job she had come to love. To revisit my mother’s fretting over her upcoming nursing board exams and hear again, at the end of every letter, how much she loved me. Priceless.
There was my Dad, telling about a fire in the building next door to the church, so hot it melted the plastic curtains in one of the Sunday School rooms and Continue reading A Costly Lesson About Closed Doors
I get a lump in my throat when I stand on the lanai of this home I’ve rented the past two months in South Florida. I’m leaving soon and I don’t want to go. (I know, I hear you playing the sad trombone for me.)
Yes, I’m glad to have avoided most of the miserable winter up north this year, and I do look forward to seeing my friends when I get back. But I was born and raised in the “Sunshine State”; I have a history here.
I’ve been gone for decades. The truth is, I never meant to leave permanently; it’s just the way life turned out. But I still have family in the area and friends that go back to junior high. When I cross the state line from Georgia into Florida each January now, I’m convinced the air smells different. It smells like home. Continue reading When Is “More Than Enough” Enough?
It’s foggy. The air is warm and thick. Below, the surface of the lake is perfectly still, the silence broken only by the occasional splash of a fish snagging a morning morsel or the whisper of wings skimming by.
I’m sipping my coffee across from an empty patio chair and a thought jerks me aware: What if Christ were sitting there, relaxing with a mug of Columbian deep roast in His hand and half a smile on His face? The incarnate God of the universe, choosing to spend a companionable moment with me at a simple plastic table?
I’m immediately humbled – and ashamed.
There are so many other places He could be and way more interesting people to enjoy a brand new day with. There are desperate souls with crushing problems and entire governments unravelling even now. I’m stunned that He would stop by here and I think, I shouldn’t be taking up His time. I don’t deserve Him.
I almost tell Him so; but I stop.
What if this is exactly where He wants to be right now? What if He intentionally opted to be here and His presence at my table doesn’t diminish His impact (or limit His intervention) elsewhere?
Well, obviously, I’d close this laptop and give Him my full attention. I wouldn’t be planning out the rest of my day, giving in to distractions, and letting my mind wander. For sure, I wouldn’t be glancing at my phone every time it buzzed.
And I’d certainly know better than to fret about my loved ones and call it prayer.
My shame at being in His presence turns to relief. I’m so glad He’s here. Tears well up in my eyes and overflow freely down my cheeks. He reaches over to touch my soggy face and in that healing moment, I exhale.
He smiles; He knows me so well. And He asks for a refill.
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Relational meltdowns leave me reeling. As weird as it may sound, I experience what I imagine suffocation would feel like: desperation turning to panic, then helplessness, hopelessness, and finally, defeat. I know, how dramatic. But perhaps you can relate on some level. Continue reading Breathing Jesus
I once took a major header in a bank parking lot in Hammond, Indiana, chasing a bad guy. (True story.) I skidded across the gravel on all fours and took off the first layer of skin on the fronts of both my lower legs and the heels of both hands.
My adrenalin was pumping, so it didn’t hurt at first; I got up and kept running. But later, when the fun was over (after we caught the guy) and I was in the ER, I realized, “THAT’S going to leave a mark”. Which it did.
Even though they anesthetized the area and removed the dirt and rocks from my legs and hands by scrubbing them with what felt like a wire brush (ouch), there was some “tattooing” effect on my legs for a long time. That was awhile back now and it’s since faded, thankfully.
I’ve actually been fortunate not to have experienced a lot of injuries that would leave visible marks, even though I’ve been physically active my whole life (and my chosen profession notwithstanding).
But we all know, it’s not just shoulder surgeries, herniated discs, and road burn that leave their calling cards. The invisible scars can be worse. Continue reading Jesus had scars, too
When I was a kid growing up in Key West, there was a young guy in our church, Charlie (not his real name). Every time someone greeted him with, “How you doin’, Charlie?” his response was always, “I’m tired.” Maybe he had a legitimate reason to be constantly exhausted, I don’t know. All I can tell you is, to this day the only thing I remember about that guy is he would always say he was tired.
I shake my head at that now, but I have to wonder, how many times do we – all of us – refer to ourselves in ways that are negative and, over time, allow them to become part of our very identity?
“Tired” seems minor compared to some labels we allow. We accept certain traits about ourselves as unchangeable or certain troubles as inevitable and we miss the truth that we often have a choice.
This morning, my pastor made this specific statement: “God is hard at work in your hopeless situation.” And I started thinking, “What in my life seems hopeless? And if God is hard at work, is it really?”
I was immediately reminded of an interesting story Continue reading The answer to this question is not as easy as it sounds
These are things I ask myself: Why does a woman long for motherhood? Just what is the irresistible draw? Is it the desire to bring a child into the security of a warm circle of love? The particular mix of hormones brought on by the passage of a certain number of birthdays? Acquiescence to relentless pressure from family and friends? An unquenchable desire to love and be loved in a wholly unique way?
Perhaps it’s a combination of all these. Whatever the answer, if God should allow her that privilege, there are a few things she should know: Continue reading The Exquisite Ache of Mothering