Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The pieces shattered on the kitchen tile. Reaching down I knew immediately the phone was damaged beyond use. A heavy breath while gathering up the casing, it seemed so insignificant, even though my normal had just changed.

Earlier that day I sat as a young mother shared with me her pain. Her normal was changing too. Cancer had taken a toll on her body and her life in scarring, demoralizing ways. Now tubes and wires hung from her limbs, and the absence of skin and roundness remind her of the stripping of her motherhood. So much of her now distorted that her young child no longer snuggled or climbed on her, but cowers on the hospital chair looking out the hospital window.

"I want to go back to normal. At home, as a mom, with my husband and child. With the normal routine, the normal go to work and pick up the house, normal." She wiped her tears with a semblance of a squashed tissue. Her brown hair falling out, matted to the pillow and bedding where she lay. A stabbing pain of empathy hits me as I sit, shrouded in locks of long hair, seemingly inappropriate for the setting. I am embarrassed by my small problems.

As I pray before bed I thank God for the profound reminder. I am blessed to be living in my normal. My phone breaking, or the toilet clogging is insignificant "normal", day-to-day blessed normal. All in the scope of a normal life. No cancer. No barriers to hugging my children. No hospital beeping and wiring and needles to interrupt my day.

I am grateful today for normal. And for the reminder that normal is amazing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's Time.

It's been years. I mean there have been one or two, here and there, but it's been years.

A lot has changed. But now it's time.

My blog has sat, relatively silent. I haven't had too much to say after tragic losses changed the landscape of my life, new learning created green little buds that took time to be nurtured and grow, and blossoms became fruit at the end of those branches.

Today I am a different person than she that blogged along these lines years ago. 

The blogs will never be the same. I will never be the same.

But today I have some new things to share. Evidence that God is real - through struggle, through death, through new life and through the process. 

And I'm excited. 

There is now, today, so much I want to share.

It's time. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Navigate By Joy

Yesterday I was speaking at a success workshop for kids. The group was comprised of 45 youth between the ages of 8 and 13 years old. I was teaching them about E.Q. versus I.Q. and the value of being able to articulate feelings. E.Q. is the quotient each of us possesses to say how we feel, ask for what we need and articulate what is going on in our hearts.

Each youth was given an assortment of colored pencils. I asked them to pick a color initially that represented their "upset" feelings. For each one it was represented by a different color. And then I asked them to pick the color that represented "happy" to them.

For me that color is yellow. Something about the color yellow ignites me, fuels me, does my heart good. It evokes images of brilliant days on the beach, sunshine, fields of happy sunflowers, drives in my yellow XTRRA, and sales at Walmart smiling at me. It makes me feel joy.

There is power in finding what brings you joy; the giggling, infectious, gotta let it out, holding your belly joy. Equally as powerful is clarifying what brings you pain.

When you find those two polar opposites there is born the ability to navigate your life in such a way that no longer depends on luck, but is guided by clarity.

Luck cannot be the fuel of your life for it is rare. And you cannot always avoid the realities of pain in the human existence.

Find your happy spot, your happy color, your joy. Navigate and fuel your life by it - and you will find your life path is truly miraculous adventure.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

God's Not A Side Dish

As I walk the halls of the ICU I can see into each room. Most of the patients are lying in the hospital beds with ventilators, beeping monitors, white gauze wrappings and crumpled non-important linens. In some rooms I catch the eyes of the visitors. Always the same look.


Usually the patients in ICU are not coherent. It is the visitor that is alert. And the visitor is suffering.

As I stop at certain rooms and sit for a while, listening to the hurts as a Chaplain, I have the profound opportunity to follow the trail of breadcrumbs into their deepest pain. Almost all of those I talk with in those rooms wish they had made God more important in their lives.

It's in those moments where we might lose someone we love that we become introspective. It's in those moments that we realize our life has been full of many things, career, money, possessions, ego . . . and that none of them really satisfy. All of the investments of time and energy truly never fill our spiritual bellies like the depth and sweetness of a relationship with God.

In those moments people realize that God is not a side dish. He's the main course.

It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities and go weeks without God. We have the time to buy that iPad, see that latest-greatest movie, try out that new restaurant . . . but in the buffet of life, we find ourselves too busy, too full of other things . . . and God time ends up looking like that half a peach with a scoop of cottage cheese.

Friend, I hope you never find yourself in an ICU with ventilators and beeping monitors. I hope you never find yourself sobbing by the side of a bed begging God to help you make sense of a terrible loss.

But if you ever do have those traumatic moments . . . I pray that you've feasted on God daily so that you have the spiritual strength to endure tragedy. I pray that you've gotten to know God's character, trust His power and will for you and your family, and feel His divine hand in your life.

In those moments big and small, I pray that you've made God the main course.

You see, God's not a side dish. He's why you came to the table in the first place.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Honest-To-God Truth

None of us like to look like liars.

But we are. In big and small ways. None of us want to be seen as self-deceived sinners. But we're that too.

It's an interesting dynamic to be human. We're smart enough to hide our sins, cover our tracks and plead innocence, and we're just narcissistic enough to imagine it doesn't matter to God. It does. And, ultimately, it really does to us too.

So friend, and I'm calling myself on it just as pointedly, when was the last time you told the honest-to-God truth about your life? When was the last time you sat down with your Heavenly Father and laid out the good, the bad and the ugly?

I'm not a hell-fire-and-damnation Christian at all. I believe God to be a sweet, tender, loving Father with a plan of Atonement through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. There is a way to be forgiven for our failures, our indiscretions and even thoughts that often derail us. The first step is to have a "come to Jesus" moment.

In my Chaplaincy program I see this "come to Jesus" moment up close and personal at the hospital when people are facing death; either their own death or the loss of someone they love. In that moment even those who've questioned the existence of God, weigh in on the choices of their lives with fear,trepidation, regret and sorrow.

We need not wait til the end of life to balance the internal budgets.

The Bible tells us in Psalms 32:1-5
"Oh the joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord."

And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone."

There may not be room to tell every single person in your life the truth about your journey, your sins, your weaknesses, your inner change of heart or your pain. Really, they may not care. They may not even be aware of your turmoil or self-deception. However, God cares. And in all honesty, you care.

If you were sitting alone in an emergency room, saying goodbye to your parent, your child, your spouse . . . or if your life were to flash before your eyes in a car accident today . . . what flashes would you see? What negatives would you want to NOT see?

Every minute we are alive we are given the grace to approach the throne of God in prayer and tell the honest truth. God promises us that nothing can keep us from His love and forgiveness.

So today . . . let it be that day . . . the day to tell the honest-to-God truth.

Go ahead. He's listening.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Power of a Mother's Spit

I'm one of those moms that out of instinct I lick my palm and swiftly pat down the unruly stalks of blonde hair on my son's head. Of course, he immediately backs up and with disgust rebukes me, "Aww mom! Geez Louise! When are you gonna quit doing that??? I'm eighteen now!"

Ya. I'm that kind of mom.

And I still threaten to take my kids over my knee if they don't behave. Even my son who towers at 6'1 KNOWS I'm dang serious. Well, at least in principle. : )

He knows I mean business. When I say no tattoos if you're living in our home, I mean it. If I say not a drop of alcohol in our house, I mean it. If I say get your butt in gear in your Math class, I mean it.

It's not that my kids are perfect. And I'm not a perfect mom. But I come from a long line of mommas that mean business. I've seen the power of a mom that spits on her hand and doesn't let her kid go out in public without taking responsibility for themselves.

Years after my own mom wouldn't hesitate for a second to wash my mouth out with soap for a bad word, pull inappropriate posters off the wall with a vengeance, or hunt us teenagers down at a party if we'd snuck out the window . . . yeh. My mom did all those things. And thank God.

We always knew my mom was serious when she said something. Just a look had us scrambling.

As I watch the news and hear about road rage, theft, violent teens killing or hurting their parents or young people vandalizing religious buildings, I'm grateful for my mom's pure grit.

I'm thankful for the spankings with the pancake turner and the times we had to hug our siblings and make-up. I'm a better person directly because of it.

The next time you hesitate to discipline your child, the next time its easier to just pick up their socks or bring them the lunch that they forget AGAIN for the third time this week . . .

. . . just remember there is power in a mother's spit.

It may just be several years until you see it's fruition.

Spit on your palm and flatten the unruliness anyway.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Wanna Be A Hottie - A Hunka Burnin' Love

What's really "hot" these days?

Ads on Facebook tell me there's a new wrinkle cream, and commercials during "American Idol" coax me to buy a bigger tv screen. There's a new "Smartest" phone, a provocative steamy singles' website, and a late night wonder drug to lose weight without trying, promising to make my thighs tight and my aging buttocks super lean and sexy. So many hot products, hot ideas and hot salespeople chanting mantras into my home and my life, promising success, love, sex, prosperity . . .

And then I open my Bible . . . 1 Corinthians 1:27 "God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, SO THAT no one can ever boast in the presence of God."

I want to know what God wants. Want to know what is top priority, what is HOT in God's perspective. Not necessarily what the world thinks is hot. I want to be a hottie, not a "hauty" . . . God says there is a difference.

Some years ago I visited the city of Orleans, France. The real place on the map, the very city that hid Joan of Arc during very turbulent times in French history. Joan of Arc was a hottie. She had visions of leading the French to victory - and as a peasant farmgirl who told of visits by angels - she DID lead the French in battles that seemed impossible. She led soldiers to battle and then to victory. She burned with a call from heaven, and with that conviction and call she was burned at the stake at the end of her life.

What do I burn for God? Do I burn with a vision given by YOU? Am I on fire with a message that You've given me for the world or do I smolder in my own weaknesses or puny ambition?

God, I want to be a beacon for YOU. I want to be part of what You're doing, a light that compels people to find YOU. Inspire me, ignite me, let me burn for truth and see Your victories in people's lives. Let my life be at stake and let me live with a call from You, not a call from Oprah, a call from a publisher, or a cat-call from the peanut gallery. Let me be a hottie in all the right places, not a "hauty" with selfish motives and agendas.

Help me burn the ships, burn the bridges, burn the avenues of retreat that keep me going back to weakness, playing small, and robbing my life of the effectiveness and victories YOU have for me.

1 Corinthians 1:18 "I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds . . . but we who are being saved recognize this message as the very POWER of God."

God, make me a smokin hot hunka burnin' love - and burn with the kind of love that comes from being on fire for YOU. Whoot! Whoot! Watchout world - girl on a fire comin' through!