$5 Pumpkins

“We had one that we sold for a dollar…. but now we just have the 5 and 10 dollar sizes left.”

The 8 year old salesman was explaining my options as I perused the back of the trailer filled with orange and green pumpkins … of the 5 and 10 dollar size. I chose a fat, round orange globe with a dent on one side and handed him a $20 bill. His mom let him do the math to determine my change. He thought for just a moment and smiled big when she affirmed his correct computations and then his dad handed me a 10 and a 5. I learned that later that day he would be heading to play in youth football game in our unusually warm Missouri weather. I proceeded into our local coffee shop ordered a dirty chai tea latte and an apple danish, loaded up my pumpkin and headed home.

My pumpkin now sits on my porch with my one traditional red mum I purchase yearly for my limited fall decor. My apple danish is half eaten – gosh its good. The cinnamon sugar crusted dough wrapped around warm apple filling reminds me of something my mom made years ago. My latte is cooling as I enjoy the view from my deck. The cloud cover and cool morning temps are providing a perfect setting for the beginning of a day that I’m going to work hard at keeping….. Slow.

I’m a natural early riser. Its unusual that I sleep past six, most mornings rising between 4:30-5, with no alarm. After my first cup of coffee I’m ready to roll. Living the life of an entrepreneur means if I don’t get to work – I won’t get fired but it also means I won’t make any money. Sitting around is just not an option. Until it really needs to be.

I recently heard that a vacation is not what we all need when life gets crazy and overwhelming. It was the opinion of this author that it is a readjustment to our every day life rhythms that will bring the relief we need . One week away will feel good but if the life we return to still holds unnecessary obligations, bars to high for our current life season and broken relationships left needing mending – the peace from our week on the beach or in the mountains or fill in the blank of your favorite getaway – will quickly slip away.

This last week I said No to three worthy and noble opportunities. One yes would have allowed me to use my love of writing. Another would have provided a way to encourage people I deeply love and a third would have supported our school community. And I said NO to

every.

single

one.

If I looked at my calendar I could have squeezed these activities in – there was room. There was room if I pushed myself to the very edge of the limits of my capacity. There would be no wiggle room, no extra, no margin, no space. I’ve learned living like this is draining and life sucking and actually quite dangerous. When my life is so full and I am moving so fast, I am certain I miss the lessons I need to learn and the loved ones that need me most.

I do not know how much smarter I’ve grown in my almost 51 years but I can say in many areas I have added much needed wisdom. Growing comfortable with a simple NO has been such a gift. The three no’s of my week allowed me the energy to dive in to the list of commitments I had already made. I was able to focus on the tasks in front of me that demanded my emotional and physical energy. I was able to pause for the phone calls from my college daughter looking for feedback on a choice she was making and another call from my dad who was reporting on my moms first round of radiation – her final step in her breast cancer battle. I could complete the tasks for my business, teach for my online bible study and also joyfully serve with other parents and students in our concession stand at our school football game. My week was full, and fun and busy.

And it was also free.

FREE.

It was free from bitterness that has come when I have over committed in the past.

It was free from scrambled brain syndrome that occurs when I fail to leave any room to breath in my schedule.

It was free to take some moments on my Saturday to chat with and 8 year old pumpkin salesman.

To learn about his life and support his business.

To add a splash of orange color to my front porch.

To sip a double shot dirty chai tea latte.

To think of you, the reader, and pray that when you put your phone down or close your computer after reading these words…

You will pause and breath and search out your own pumpkin salesman, or coffee shop or that you wont..

and you’ll experience the joy and peace of your heartfelt, powerful ability to say..

No.

my $5 pumpkin

30 minutes

I set my timer for 30 minutes.

30 minutes of writing.

30 minutes of diving into something I promised I would do 2 times a week and now its been almost a month.

30 minutes feels like a lot.

30 minutes is a lot.

When you don’t know what to say.

Yesterday I had an important 30 minute conversation with my 21 year old.

Today I took a 30 minute nap.

after I walked my dog…

for 30 minutes.

I schedule 30 minute coaching calls with the consultants I lead. This set time encourages a focused and productive conversation – no rabbit trails.

My daughter just left to begin unpacking her college boxes…. for 30 minutes.

I’d like to be able to complete a 5K in 30 minutes – I am currently at about 35 ish.

It takes me 30 minutes to get to the closest Target and Starbucks.

Our weekly family zoom calls last about 2- 30 minute time slots.

When we drive to Utah in a couple of weeks it will take about 40 – 30 minute time slots.

When I am the teaching leader for my bible study I usually use all of my allotted 30 minutes.

My weather app is telling me the rain storm that just dropped from the sky will last about 30 minutes.

Last Friday when Tom and I went out to dinner – we waited for 30 minutes to be seated.

My prep time each morning is about 30 minutes.

My favorite podcast drops each Tuesday and Friday – 30 minutes each.

This morning I made waffles and start to finish – probably took about 30 minutes.

I scrolled on facebook for 30 minutes today – avoiding writing this blog – because I could not imagine that I would have 30 minutes of anything to say.

It turns out – social media is not the place to go for inspiration.

Yesterday a professional golfer – on the cusp of winning a tournament and over 1.5 million dollars – tested positive for COVID. The news was shared with him in the most public of settings as he exited the 18th green at the completion of his round. You can bet the next 30 minutes of his life when he withdrew from the tournament and was escorted off of the grounds were some of the most disappointing of his life as a golfer.

During this 30 minute writing session I have paused once to finish off a bag of stale Cheetos and picked up my phone 3 times to be reminded by my phone timer that I am supposed to be writing for…..

30 minutes.

With each stroke of my keypad my fingers appear to be remembering and my heart, mind and creative juices are flowing. I am experiencing the beginnings of the escape that happens when I turn off the rest of the world and free the words hidden in the inner places they have been waiting to flee – while I pushed them back since the last time I set my timer for…

30 minutes.

What have you NOT done lately?

There are a gazillion things we have been told are wrong, bad, dangerous…. things that once took up our minutes and returned to us joy, peace, laughter, happiness.

Church gatherings

Concerts

Carnivals

Vacations

Business retreats

Summer Camp

Backyard BBQ’s

Meeting friends for coffee in a public coffee shop

Greeting each other in the grocery store with our smiles…

So many things.

As I look at a month filled with travel both for personal and professional reasons I realize I feel a bit out of practice. Events that in the past have stoked feelings of anticipation and excitement have currently been replaced by bit of awkward social anxiety. I certainly can’t be alone as we join together as a nation and world to get back to normal.

I’ve decided over the last 30 minutes of writing that I’m going to give myself some grace.

I think Ill take my re-entry in small chunks… setting my timer, dipping my toe in …..

30 minutes at a time.

Little happy… little sad

His voice cut the 30 minutes of silence that had filled the car. After a bit of small talk and my attempts to gather some information about the young man earlier in the ride it became clear he wanted to escape into his air pods and the music I could hear softly from the front seat. I had never met this young man before and I had hoped I would learn a bit more about him and his home country, Vietnam, on our hour and fifteen minute ride to the airport. I succumbed to the reality of the quiet ride and drifted off to my own thoughts.

‘I don’t even know what I’m feeling.”

At first I did not realize he was talking to me. He had been speaking to someone on his phone earlier in his native Vietnamese tounge but this time his words were in english and directed towards me.

When I snapped to attention – I leaned in to his comment – “Yes? Feeling about what?”

“I’m a little bit happy and a little bit sad – all at once.”

Hmmm.. I replied – “What is making you feel happy and what is making you feel sad?”

“I’m happy to see my mom, eat my home cooked food, sleep in my bed. I’m sad to leave my friends and this school. I like it here.”

This young man had developed a reputation for not caring about school. His efforts appeared to be enough to just skate by. One would think all he wanted to do was leave and never come back. For a couple of minutes in the car he revealed the label he had of not caring, not connecting may not have been entirely true.

A little bit happy and a little bit sad.

I affirmed him that it was indeed a strange reality to experience two opposite emotions at the same time. One coin, two sides – flipping back and forth between the two trying to figure out where to land. He spoke a few more words on what appeared to be a first time experience for him in his world of teen emotions and then drifted off to the silence and his music. We reached the airport, unloaded his luggage and I bid him farewell. I do not know if I will ever see him again.

Yesterday was full of happy/sad moments for our community. We celebrated the graduation of our Senior Class and the reminder that the relationships that had grown during the last year would now take on a different reality. A large portion of our student body are international students which means the end of the school year means our students will not just return to their homes around our small town but to twenty different countries around the globe. Goodby takes on a whole new level of happy/sad when it takes 24 hours and three flight changes to return to your home land.

One American student commented that she didn’t realize she would cry so much during the graduation ceremony. Another student from Armenia reminded us of her offer to host my husband and I in her home if we would ” Please come visit!” Every year I tell myself I will get better at handling my feelings on this day but like my new friend from Vietnam I have landed again in the happy/sad conundrum that sneaks into the silence of our souls in the midst of the busy of transition to a new season of life.

Little happy, little sad.

As I pulled away from the airport I reflected on my brief yet important conversation. I was reminded that so much of life is not all happy and all sad. I thought of the tug that I have when I label life ‘good’ when I’m happy and ‘bad’ when I’m sad and I rested in the fact that both joy and sorrow can hold the same space and actually work together to make it more beautiful, more appreciated, more loved.

I am grateful I decided to say yes to a last minute request to drive this student to the airport. He was an unlikely candidate to remind me of an important truth of life on the eve of dropping my son off at a camp where he will work this summer and a couple of weeks before we drop our daughter at another camp to do the same.

Little happy, little sad… all at once.

The sweet dance of life….let the music begin.

Ani from Armenia – We can’t wait to visit


Head pats, bear hugs and a hand squeeze

Allie pats my head.

Jonah gives me bear hugs.

and Brooke….

she grabs my hand.

Three humans -now swiftly moving to adulthood – grown and flown as they say, that once spent the first 9 months of their lives inside of me. They were physically closer than any human can get with another – literally attached by a cord of life, needing my heartbeat and my nutrition. Is it a wonder the emotions shared between mother and child are so intense, complex, beautiful……

I’m so glad I’m a girl.

I’m so glad I got to be the one that housed the lives created by the love of my spouse and I.

I’m so glad for the months of wonder, and heartburn, and joint aches, and weight gain and doctors appointments.

I’m beyond grateful that our journey to parenthood was simple and text book and in many ways just like I’d imagined it would be.

And now 23 years into the parenting journey I am even more grateful for the gazillion moments of joy, challenge, sweetness, frustration, growth, that far exceeded my expectations. These three humans: The head patter, the bear hugger, the hand squeezer have impacted me more than anyone else on the planet. They are gifts that took residence in my heart from the moment I knew of their existence – deeply rooted, deeply loved.

And tomorrow, for some reason, the world has told me – I should expect a grand celebration commemorating all the blood sweat and tears I have shed in the raising of my tribe. It is a pretty big bag of expectations we’ve placed on our husbands and children.

Some moms will enjoy breakfast in bed, brunch after church, bbqs with family.

Some will receive flowers, jewelry, appliances and depending on how creative the childs teacher – a sweet hand made gift you’ll have sitting on your desk or hanging on your wall for years to come.

Some will get the “day off” while their spouses take their kids to the park or the zoo.

And it will be good and sweet and lovely.

And it may not.

This past week I have read several blogs and listened to several podcast with the theme of Mothers Day. One reflected on the importance of Moms staying grounded in God’s word as they raised their children. Another was advice to dads on how to best show appreciation for their wives on this special day. One discussed the pain that many will feel due to their inability to have children, the loss of a child, a challenging relationship with their mom or the loss of their moms. All of this input surrounding this day left my mind swirling with what to say as I made my weekly pause on this blog that would post the day before the yearly tradition of showing our moms all the love.

I realized as I thought about all the ways a woman will enter this day – with either anticipation for the celebrations or the dread of another year passing in pain…there is an important common denominator that we would be wise to recognize. Whether your quiver is full or empty. Whether you are in a season of peace and calm with your children or you are feeling deep sadness over choices you or they have made that have severed relationships that seem far from being able to be mended. Whether you are on your third round of fertility treatments or your child has left this earth before you. Whether you will wake to three toddlers bouncing on your bed in excitement or the sound of dishes clanging in the kitchen as children attempt to create a feast…..

The desire for motherhood provides us all with one important gift…

the one that drives us to our knees in prayers of gratitude, anguish, anger, praise,

the gift that points us all to the need for a Savior.

Recognizing our need that can be filled to overflow with a powerful, peace giving God is the gift to all women.

The desire that he gives us to nurture will be filled, can be filled when we trust the One who does both the creating and the filling.

When I was a young mom my unspoken expectations of the day were for peace and calm and maybe a bit of pampering. The days when I felt the need for a break are long gone.

Today my desires are simple…

A head pat.

A bear hug

A hand squeeze

And the reminder that even though tomorrow I’ll physically experience only one of those three…

My Lord, my savior, my life giver …

Your Lord,

your Savior

Your live giver

will meet me and will meet you right where you are.

Let the celebration begin.

Head patter, bear hugger, hand squeezer.

Deck pillows and other avoidance techniques

It’s when I start scrolling the internet for good deals on outdoor porch cushions that I know I’ve got a problem…

I’m trying to avoid.

Finding just the right pillow that will match my newly planted flowers was top priority yesterday evening, or so it seemed. There I was three sites in when I caught myself. I had pillows placed in three different carts – some striped, some floral, some solid. Did you know you can spend $75 on one deck pillow? #Potterybarn. And yes it was in my cart. I know – I was in full out avoidance mode. After 30 minutes of scrolling I realized I felt just as empty as when I had started. The $5 pillow I had picked up at Walmart earlier in the day would just have to do.

And I would need to sit in the yuck that I was running from.

My mom has cancer.

My mom has cancer.

My mom has cancer.

Maybe typing it multiple times so it shines back at me on my screen will help it all set in. Similar to the old school discipline technique of writing sentences 100 times promising to change the behavior of an elementary child.

I will not talk while the teacher is talking.

I will not talk while the teacher is talking.

I will not talk while the teacher is talking.

I actually still struggle with this one. It’s just better if I don’t sit next to a friend in church, or a conference or anything where I need to pay attention. I’m a verbal processor so it’s very likely I’ll feel the need to do so mid presentation. sigh.

There I go again. What were we talking about?

Oh yes.

Cancer.

My neighbor stopped me a few days ago to ask about mom. He said he was sorry and that he was praying. I believed him. His wife was taken by this awful disease 4 years ago. No history in her family that they new of. Out of the blue. Just like my mom. I responded that I was sorry that cancer was part of his story as well. There we were – a man that could be my father and myself – both holding our membership cards to a club you never want to join. We share a connection, a knowing.

This week my mom got to ring the bell. The one that signifies the end of treatment… in her case her chemo. There are bells in chemo and radiation clinics all across the world. When my mom rang her bell the staff of doctors and nurses and any staff in hearing distance clapped and cheered. My dad gave my mom a long hug. She had crossed an important finish line and her crowd had showed up to let her know what a very big deal that was.

My sister sent me a picture of the event. Neither my sister or I live close to my parents so we have taken turns each time mom has a treatment and she was there to celebrate the bell ringing. She promptly sent me a picture and I promptly posted on social media.

When I clicked over to instagram to share the big news… I found I was not the first of my friends to post a bell ringing picture. My moms pic would follow behind the news that a college friends young son had also finished treatment ……

for cancer.

And then yesterday….. a young mom from my community posted a picture of her bell ringing day, one stage of her treatment finished….

for cancer.

Another friend from town posted her pic after chemo #4. 13 to go.

Geez Louise.

Another friend shared she would not be able to attend a group of friends gathering today for tea because she was making a quick trip out of town to visit her dad… in between treatments…..

for cancer.

It’s dang everywhere.

Every.where.

As I sit and write this, eyes off the deck pillows and on to the reality I’m living I am reminded of some things that have also become clear in this season.

When I posted the pic of my mom ringing the bell I received over 400 “Likes” and counting. Countless comments of love, support, prayers, encouragement. It was beautiful – It is beautiful…

This unified community that surfaces when a cancer diagnosis is revealed. When strides are made to bring it to its end.

The demographics of the cheering fans was fascinating.

Different ages..

backgrounds….

skin colors

sexual orientations.

Im certain we all didn’t vote for the same candidate for president.

Some have been vaccinated. Some never will.

Some double mask, some have never felt cotton touch their facial skin.

Some have not left their house in over a year, others roam freely around the planet.

Some city.

Some country.

All showing up. Cheering in unity for my mom.

Because of cancer.

Interesting isn’t it?

It’s the one thing, the ONE thing…. that I have found that has had the power to gather us all – to lay down our differences that feel so loud and appear to be working so hard to drive wedges in our friendships and family bonds.

So Cancer. Listen up.

We see what you are trying to do. Kill. Steal. Destroy.

Somedays it feels like your are winning. Some days the darkness feels like it’s just too much.

But Cancer – you forgot.

You forgot the power of people when we get poked in the places that connect us all – our human fragility.

You forgot what happens when you mess with one of our own – one of God’s created. One that has been given a plan before they were even born. What you wanted to use to divide is actually causing us to unite. Nice try. Nice freaking try.

Over 400 likes – from a group as diverse as the day is long.

The most I’ve ever had for a post. As an extroverted, enneagram 7 with Significance in my top 5 strengths – I pay attention to these things.

Maybe cancer is our springboard. Maybe its the place we can all sit in agreement. Maybe its the hot cup of coffee that brings us to the table in empathy, love and a listening ear. Maybe its the starting point for healing and conversation.

It’s this belief, this opportunity I see in this very hard season… It’s the truth that lifts my eyes from my deck chair pillows and on to…

You.

I actually don’t need any more deck pillows……

Forgot to Remember

It is NCAA D1 Volleyball Year End Tournament time. 5 months late.

The fall volleyball season for many colleges was pushed to spring due to…. duh..

Covid.

College athletes have pushed through regular co-vid testing, quarantine, cancelled games….

and playing in front of empty stands.

Until now.

The NCAA D1 Volleyball tournament held in Omaha,NE has allowed limited fans in the CHI Health Center Stadium for the finals. Our family loves volleyball and we could not be happier for the return of a sport we enjoy so much. It is exciting to hear the cheers of live people in the stands and not the recorded background noise we’ve come to find normal over the last year of COVID impacted sports seasons.

The sounds of the fans is so energizing.

When they remember.

To cheer, that is.

Which begs the question? How could you forget? More importantly how could Nebraska fans forget?

To Cheer.

Nebraska has the largest college volleyball venue in the Big 10. It seats over 11,000 and in non co-vid times is usually sold out. The atmosphere is electric. People of all ages show up to cheer on their Huskers who have a long tradition of winning. Tom and I are always eager to tune in to a televised home game in Husker arena.

So why were they so quiet? The tournament was held in Omaha giving the Nebraska team a clear home court advantage.

The No. 5 ranked Nebraska Volleyball team was one of the final 8 teams left in the tournament playing No. 4 ranked Texas. It was an exciting match. They were in a must win situation and the Texas fans were on their feet. They were loud and proud – waving their Hook Em horns hands – ready to usher their team in to another NCAA tournament semi final.

And the Nebraska fans sat.

They stayed settled in to their comfy arena seating – all decked out in their Husker T shirts, pom poms and one man even wore a hat that looked like a corn cob. They had all the signs of excited, loyal fans ( I mean how many people do you see walking around with a corn cob hat?)

But they remained quiet.

I probably would not have noticed this – but the TV announcers calling the game drew it to all the viewers attention.

“It’s like they forgot how to cheer!” Said one.

“Yes – the Nebraska team needs their fans to get behind them. They were playing so much better earlier in the match when the fans were ON THEIR FEET and CHEERING.” said the other commentator.

Wow.

The team needs to hear their fans but it appears they forgot how to cheer.

Texas went on to win the match against Nebraska and they went on to beat their next opponent No. 1 ranked Wisconsin in a close, hard fought match to take them to the NCAA tournament finals. As I watched the Texas/Wisconsin match I paid attention – to the fans. What I noticed was interesting and eerily similar to the Texas-Nebraska match.

The fans.

In the final determining points of the set that Texas won to send them to the finals…

The Texas fans were on their feet.

The Wisconsin fans were not.

The team that had the loudest fans….. WON.

Now…. My Volleyball Coach husband will tell me their were a gazillion other reasons Texas won. They are a tough, talented team. They won because they deserved to win.

But gosh…. there are some lessons these fans can teach us. There are some important questions I believe we as a culture can ask ourselves in regards to the way we support or don’t support the people in our lives. I fear that a year of disconnect has caused us to forget the power of connection, community and full out cheering.

Friends – your voice of encouragement matters.

How you show up matters.

Your effort in reaching out to people matters.

Sociologists and Psychologists will tell you that the rise in suicide and substance abuse has sky rocketed since we all took cover in the safety of our homes in March of 2020. We need each other. We need to feel the energy that comes when we know someone believes in us because they have told us so. If we continue down the course of passivity the implications are far greater then not making it to the finals of a volleyball tournament.

I have realized that as I work to stay connected I am going to have to make a few adjustments.

Connection takes work. Friends and family that I used to feel united to because of shared beliefs may now find ourselves on opposite sides of well…. just about anything. Our culture has no end of issues we can disagree on and it appears that we believe that if we just get louder about our perspectives people will understand. I have not found that to be true. Taking time to understand the people in my life before offering up my perspective means I will work to listen first. Talk later.

Connection means you open you mouth. In a world where we can scroll passively past the lives of thousands of people we may have allowed ourselves to believe that act is true connection. We see what is happening, we note it, may judge it or ourselves and move on. Can I suggest that a start to connection is to leave a simple LIKE or ‘good job’ underneath the post? If you are wondering who may need your words… the answer is simple: anyone you encounter who is breathing. That is the only qualifier.

Connection means you move. You make the call. You pick up a pen and paper. You shift your gaze to the eyes of the people in the store – making connection with the parts of our bodies that some writers have characterized as the windows to our soul. Take the first step. Follow the nudge to reach out to the person that drops into you mind for no apparent reason.

A couple of years ago Tom and I were leading an event for students at our High School campus. It was required. We took attendance. One young man came in late and said the words I’ll remember forever. English was not his first language so he expressed his sentiments with the best English phrase he could put together…

“I’m so sorry I’m late…. I forgot to remember!”

Friends – It’s time that we stop “forgetting to remember” ……

how to cheer.

How to encourage. How to love. How to support our people in a way that helps them push through their hard, those last final moments before the finish line. Our silence serves no one. Your CHEERS matter.

You matter.

I can hear the voices now.

“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.” Hebrews 3:13

A former HS team Tom coached. We love volleyball!

First love

It was bound to happen. I’d been hanging out there for a few months so I was sure to bump into him.

Or at least His memory.

It was Monday and I was running down a gravel country road about 1.5 miles away from home. Just like that – the song on my 80’s pop play list jumped ahead and I was back in the summer of 1986 and in the arms of the love of my 16 year old life. I’ve been stuck on this play list since I discovered the completion of my runs has everything to do with the music blasting in my ears. 1980’s music is the soundtrack of my teenage years and the upbeat rhythms of Michael Jackson, Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield fit the bill.

Raise your hand if you are old enough to remember cassette tapes you shared with your teenage love – the one that held all of your songs and especially “the song.” The names of you and your person were written on the label in black sharpie with hearts around them. The making of the tape took time, effort and money. They were gold.

Me – right here. Had one and had a Song.

The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera – former lead singer of the Classic Band Chicago. He left the band in 1986 and went on to record 8 solo albums. Thanks Wikipedia. It was his first hit single that I had not heard in years that sent me down a rabbit trail of memories that helped me push through at least a good 3/4 of a mile of my run.

This boy that filled my memories for a few minutes last Monday was my first love. We dated for four years and all our high school friends thought we were a forever couple. People were shocked when we went our separate ways after our sophomore year of college but we knew it was for the best. My daughter recently asked me if the break up was hard.

Did I cry?

Did I have regrets?

The first answer was yes. The second answer was no. And thats what I thought about when the tune started playing.

There is this beautiful gift in life that can sometimes only come with the passing of time. This means the longer one lives the more of this gift they should have. It gives one the ability to look at a circumstance from all sides to recognize the beauty in the middle of the pain. To see the joy in the midst of the sorrow.

Its called Perspective and I enjoyed a bunch of it as my feet pushed through my morning run.

As I reflected on that teenage romance that held so many firsts I found myself full of gratitude. I hold so many sweet memories from the years I dated this boy. From the awkward first date to praying his dad wouldn’t be the one to answer the phone when we would have our nightly phone calls to formal dances, football games and dreaming of the future. It was in that season that we both realized what was most important to us and it was that realization that lead us to the revelation that our time together would not be a forever but still a very important foundation for our futures.

My husband and I are getting close to celebrating 30 years of wedded bliss. It may seem strange that I allowed myself the brain space to reminisce about an old boyfriend – one that many thought would be my husband. I want to suggest that surrendering a bit of time to reflect on our pasts, whether they are filled with joy, sorrow or a healthy mix of both is never a waste of time.

What my glimpse into the past revealed…

  1. I’m glad I loved – I allowed myself the vulnerability to share my life with another person.
  2. I’m glad I lost it. I learned that despite deep sadness over broken relationships – life will go on.
  3. I’m glad I made mistakes – I needed this for my future as a parent. Holding tight to the reality that despite trying to do the best I could – my choices were not always wise.
  4. I’m glad I received grace. I see it in the ways God guided me through that season and brought me safely to the life I have today. He was so good to continue to show up ready to lead despite my attempts to go it on my own.

When the song started playing I almost skipped ahead. I didn’t need to be reminded of an old boyfriend. That’s silly. But I was about to receive the benefits of that gift, you know the one I mentioned that comes with the passing of time?

Yep – Perspective.

As I let the song play the focus on one young man in my past actually lead me to another – the one that was with me then and is still with me now. The one who yearned to be part of my teenage days and the one who strengthens me as I now parent teens. The one who lead me to the perfect husband and father. The one who shows me his Glory in the way he loved me when he died on the cross and the way he rose victoriously from the grave. How sweet to know my Lord was with me then and he is with me now and will be with me forever.

hmmm somebody should write a song about that……

” I am the man who will fight for your honor.

I’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of.

We’ll live forever

Knowing together

That we did it all for the glory of love.”

Peter Cetera – The Glory of Love

Let Jesus restore the soundtrack of your past as he prepares you for your glorious future and sustains your perfect presence. He is good and he will do it.

My forever love:)

Hand washing and other hills I didn’t die on….

“Would you like to wash your hands?”

It was August of 2018 B.C. You know – Before Covid. The question posed to my oldest and I was one that had crossed neither of our minds. And as the mom – I’m the one responsible for that. We had just arrived at her then boyfriends apartment and he had prepared a delicious meal and set a beautiful table. I was impressed. I am guessing in the moments after the question left his mouth he was not so impressed with me. As my daughter and I exchanged sheepish glances I realized that hand washing had not been a non negotiable in our home while raising my three children. They knew how to wash their hands and they would willingly do so if it seemed obvious it was needed. It clearly wasn’t a question that was asked before sitting down at our dinner table. I considered it victory when dinner was made, the table was set and we were all still alive by the time my husband returned home from work. Clean hands? – lets celebrate breathing children and a mom that still has all the hairs on her head.

My hand washing practice or lack of passion for it started when I was a camp counselor and there were few opportunities to wash hands before eating. Both the campers and the counselors would play hard and eat. Play hard some more and eat. Our hands had played tennis and capture the flag, rode horses, dug in the sand in the beach, created crafts all day long. I’m certain there were some kids that did not shower much during their 7 days away from home let alone wash hands before every meal. And as far as I know we are all still alive today.

My children who are now ages 23, 21 and 18 and I were laughing about this account with my now son in law the other day. It lead to other conversations about battles I chose to not fight. Parenting is tricky and making those calls are a challenge. I remember times as a young mom when I was hell bent on getting my children to finish their dinner. Their hands did not need to be clean but apparently their plates did. One instance was at a friends wedding when my oldest was 2 1/2. The reception was full of good food and music and distraction and she would not eat her pork chop. I remember feeling such frustration and actual anger that she wouldn’t eat and I honestly let that steal some of the joy of the moment. Wow – looking back I recognize this was such a waste of both of our lives.

As I sit at this stage of parenting I’m thankful I can laugh. I’m thankful my kids can too. I’m also very aware of the incredible grace of God that has clearly carried us all through. I’m also quite sure that the grace he gave is the grace we all will continue to need. Our journey as a family working to love, encourage, and grow in our faith in Jesus will not end until we all cross the finish line of earthly life and enter eternity with our Savior. My friends further on their parenting journey remind me of this and I’m so grateful for their encouragement and wisdom that tells me to keep entrusting our children to the one that stands with us in the battles we do or do not choose to enter.

I don’t know what hills you will or have chosen to die on with your children, or spouse or friends. There are resources we could all find that would support our way of thinking. I’m not here to debate those issues or suggest THE way to handle hygiene, or hair length, or skirt length our curfews, or screen time, or age one gets a cell phone….

But,

I will point you to the one hill… the one we all need to recognize. The one we spent significant time contemplating just a couple of weeks ago.

The hill that held the cross …

that held that man….

that held our sins.

The hill where the ultimate battle was fought and won and the grace we need in our everyday, wash or no-wash decisions of life was born.

The most important hill ….. the most important battle.

It is done. It is finished. Let us rejoice in that victory today.

My sons college apartment

Certain.

Matthew 28:17-19 NLT

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” “As you go into the city,” he told them, ” you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

I never noticed him before but there he is just hanging out in the middle of the most important story for Christ followers. We don’t know his name or what he did for a living. We don’t know if he was married or had children. We don’t know if his home was humble or extravagant. We don’t know if he was young or old. We just know one thing…

He was certain.

CERTAIN. adjective 1. known for sure, established beyond doubt, beyond question, not in question.

I’ve been in the sales industry for 17 years. I love CERTAIN. It is a delight when someone contacts me that loves my

product, wants to become a loyal customer and places a significant order. Their certainty is a gift.

I’ve been a sports fan most of my life. I love CERTAIN. I love when you’re watching your favorite team and the win is CERTAIN. You know there is no possible way for the other team to come back. Thoughts can move to deciding which ice cream you’ll order from your favorite DQ to celebrate. It’s peace and calm and celebration – Certain.

I’ve been a mom for 23 years. I love CERTAIN. I love when my adult children are all gathered under one roof and I’m CERTAIN – because I can see them – that all is well.

Maybe it is my own hunger for certainty in an increasingly uncertain world that caused my eyes to notice for the first time this unassuming character in the account of Jesus last days on earth. Jesus and his disciples were preparing to celebrate Passover, an important custom in the Jewish tradition. It was a meal commemorating the protection of the Israelites hundreds of years earlier. They were enslaved by Pharaoh and God was about to set them free. He would use His ultimate power, taking the lives of all first born children not protected by the blood of an innocent lamb painted on their door post. Passover is a beautiful celebration – one that many Jews and Christians still celebrate. Finding the right spot was important. Jesus knew it. I believe he also wanted to make some things easier for his disciples. His followers and friends were in for a rude awakening as they faced the reality that their mentor, Lord and Savior was about to be crucified. Jesus gave them the gift of certainty – in the person of an unnamed, unknown yet very willing man.

“Master – where do you want to celebrate the Passover?”

“Go to the city – you will see a certain man…”

Certain – meaning specific – you’ll know him when you see him.

Certain – meaning the heart of the man. We see no record of this servant questioning the request. I think we can assume he immediately opened his home, showed them the room that was certainly ready and allowed them full access to use for the feast. This is the ultimate display of hospitality. He opens up his home to the most famous dinner party every held. It is captured in the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci and prints hang in homes and churches all over the world. Did the Holy Spirit give him a vision of this taking place? Had he been prepping for this moment because somehow he knew he would be the one? Or had he put his trust so clearly on the love of Jesus that when this unexpected opportunity arose he knew the only thing he could say was,

Yes.

I can imagine the disciples relief when they found the man and then he quickly lets them in. I wonder if this awed them, “How does he do that – Jesus just always knows!” or I wonder if they were used to this kind of discernment they had witnessed so many times. I wonder if they realized that what Jesus says and does is always the truth and it has nothing to do with circumstances.

This blog will post Saturday of Holy week. In my opinion the most Un- certain day of the week. Nothing happened on Saturday. The disciples huddled together in fear. We don’t get any insight into the way they spent that day. Maybe its because they were in such shock they just sat in silence. Maybe it is because there is no way to put into words the loss they felt. No words. It did not make sense. Maybe if we shake our head this horror will all go away.

Some of you are in Saturday seasons – the most uncertain of times. The one where you wish the bad dream you are walking in was just that, a dream. I imagine it feels long. I imagine it may feel far from hope. I imagine the wait feels unbearable.

Today – I ask you to hold on. Your uncertain days are held by a most certain Savior. The Savior that knew a few things about that Saturday… and now we do as well.

What we know about Saturday is that it ended.

What we know about Saturday is that it was creating certainty that the man that said he would give his life for our sins – would and was actually dead.

What we know about Saturday is that the slow, painful wait created a more glorious and welcome celebration.

What we know about Saturday is that it didn’t win. All the doubt and fear and discouragement it attempted to plant in the minds and hearts of Christs followers would not take root.

Because their Sunday came.

And yours my friend, will come too.

That I am certain.

Sunday is coming!

Social Distance

“I will bless the Lord who guides me, even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. ” Psalm 16:7-8

“As you are exiting the plane please give space between passengers to create social distance to keep everyone safe.”

Are you kidding me? If you have not traveled lately let me paint a picture of the world of air travel. Flights are full, terminals are packed – masks are worn but it is impossible to social distance. The words of the flight attendant came at the end of a 2 1/2 hour flight from Orlando to Kansas City. It was full – not one open seat. Let me remind you that there are not 6 inches between passengers let alone 6 feet. We had not social distanced for the entire trip. By the looks of my fellow passengers it was clear that many had enjoyed a spring break week with the mouse – you know the big guy – Mickey. Disney world is open, people are vacationing and the call for just essential travel is not being heeded. And to be totally honest – it felt really good. Mixing with strangers, walking through a full terminal, waiting in line for a coffee, listening to conversations about work or a theme park. Our need for connection with others, even strangers, has become abundantly clear over the last year. We were created for it. We were not meant to be alone.

This description may have some of you saying – “Whew – Im so glad things are feeling normal.” Others of you may be judging the decision of myself and others to partake in air travel when despite the progress we are making towards defeating this crazy virus – in many ways it is far from over. What I know from watching the ways my friends and family have responded to the events that have unfolded over the last year is that at some level we all believe we are right – despite our beliefs landing on opposite sides of the spectrum. The tension of living with people that hold strongly opposing opinions is real. It’s an understatement to say we are living in challenging times.

As I read the words to Psalm 16:7-8 I was comforted by the truth of one who has chosen to not play by the long list of rules during COVID times that sometimes feel like they change by the minute.

Social Distance

Masks required

Distance learning

Work from home

Curb side pick up

Arrows directing cart traffic for indoor shopping

Capacity limits

Outdoor dining

Canceled graduations. Canceled proms. Canceled sporting events. Cancel, cancel, cancel.

In a world where nothing feels stable, or reliable – I need to know that the man I call my Savior is also the greatest rebel of all time. The GOAT if you will.

Psalm 16 says it clearly:

I know the Lord is ALWAYS with me…

I will not be shaken because he is RIGHT beside me.

Always.

Right.

Always.

Close.

No social distance. Never canceling his appearances. Always showing up for the celebration, the restricted areas of the hospital, in dorm rooms, in classrooms, in restaurants. He has been and will be – everywhere we choose to ask him to come. Anywhere, anytime. His presence brings peace, and power and comfort. He brings truth and wisdom and discernment. He has not left the building, your home, your relationships, your work, or those of your children, your parents, your neighbors or your friends.

But….

I wonder if in the year of feeling like so much has been taken away, we feel like Jesus has too.

Maybe the loneliness that comes from separation from those we love has blocked our view of our Savior that has never left. Maybe the drained bank accounts from job loss, the obituary lists that grow, the anxiety that shows up in our choices to numb the pain have turned our eyes off of the one who is Right there,

Right.

There.

Always.

and our light grows dim. Hope feels lost.

Friends…. may I be the one that turns your face back,

Back… to the one who is sitting

Right beside you.

When our world shut down last March…. Jesus did not.

When we moved our kids home form college. When we shortened our guest lists for weddings. When our vacations turned to stay-cations. Jesus stood his ground – in our lives and in our hearts. He was not cancelled nor will he ever be. He is with us for the long haul. every step, of every day of every season.

The good.

The bad.

The ugly.

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken for he is RIGHT beside me.

Always.

Right.

Today.

Orlando airport