Spinach for breakfast

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone ( just one grain, never more.) But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest. John 12:24 AMP

“Essentially, we are waiting for someone to die.”

It’s a phrase I’ve shared two times this week. For real. It is the honest to goodness truth of the reality I am currently living, I am waiting for someone to die, two someones actually. Each time I’ve shared this with my friends I’ve received the same look. Faces that hold a posture of “Huh – really?” and then when it settles in their soul – they turn to an attitude of hesitant resignation. One that agrees it is true but gosh it would be great if it wasn’t.

A tendon and an apartment.

Two pieces to the completion of two puzzles that will be made available after death.

My daughter needs a tendon from a cadaver to fix an injured knee and my parents need an empty apartment in the senior living center close to my home. Each of them, my daughter and my parents, have their name on lists. Lists they only move up when someone else..


It’s just the strangest thing.

Life coming from death.

Healing coming from pain.

Starts coming from finishes.

Yet, so it is.

It was not supposed to be this way. Humanity experiencing pain, suffering, death. It’s why it is always so hard, to say goodby. God never wanted it. He hates it.

But he uses it.

Brining good from the hard.

I’ve found that if I look close enough – I can see the lessons. The ones God uses to remind me that he is real. That he cares. That he has a perfect plan for all that believe in him – “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

If I look close enough – I can see the beauty that comes from ashes.

It’s about this time every late summer that I give up on my flowers, the ones I was so excited to plant and nurture in the spring. Their care now feels like more work then I want to exert as I eagerly await cooler weather and the beauty of fall. The beauty that comes from the changing of leaves from green to red, orange and yellow. The beauty that comes from one thing ending and another beginning.

I see the cycle of the importance of endings and beginnings all around me.

The graduation of beloved Senior Classes of our high school each spring. The students that we’ve seen grow and mature over four years, the ones that always leave. They make room for a new class of nervous, giggly, immature freshman. One ending bringing another’s beginning.

The sun that sets each night in glorious beauty leaving darkness and a much needed pause for rest and refreshment before a new day comes again.

The flowers that die and scatter their seeds which provide hope for multiple of their kind in the next growing season.

The professional that retires from the workforce providing space for the new college gradate.

The tradesman that leaves his craft after mentoring his apprentice who can now provide for his family.

The person that loses their job and moves to follow work in a new town and leaves a home for someone who has lost their job and moves to that town to follow work.

The athlete that suffers a season ending injury opening up a spot for the overlooked player on the bench. The player that when given the chance reveals her excellence and earns the starting spot on the team.

The eggs that I crack for breakfast each morning providing protein to fuel me for the day and the spinach I chop – the leaves that started as a single seed, grew to an abundant bush of leaves and when mixed with my eggs add extra nutrition to my morning.

Starts and finishes – I see the pattern all around me.

And so do you.

This simple reality that shows up in our work place, our leisure activities, our breakfast food.

The ones that can ultimately

Point us to truth.

The truth that despite the pain we may feel when one thing ends and another begins, we have hope.

We have hope even when we face the ultimate ending, when our days or the ones of our loved ones come to a close. When the cycle is complete, the race is finished. We have hope that this one big end is entrance to the most grand and eternal beginning. Our hope for a life, when as C.S. Lewis quoting Samwise in the Lord of the Rings , says “Everything sad will become untrue.”

No sorrow, no pain, no tears. We will see purpose in the hard of our earthly life. I like to think that I’ll have understanding of the blessings that came from the little deaths of disappointment and discouragement I felt in my life on earth. Like when the seed Luke talks about in chapter 24 dies – the one single seed, that upon death creates an abundant harvest.

Our beautiful beginning that we only have because of the one traumatic ending of our Savior Jesus.

His death after living a perfect life. His ending opens up our beginning.

His lonely, heart wrenching persecution when he took all our sin and pain right to the cross and resolutely completed the hardest race anyone will ever run. His death whose effects multiply daily as we share his love and his truth and his sacrifice with those that don’t understand his story and its role in ours.

Our story – the one with starts and finishes, endings and beginnings, celebration of new life and mourning death. The story that has purpose when we remember that God will use each hard for our good and others and for his ultimate glory. When we recognize the lessons and embrace the reminders.

As I wait someone else’s finish to open up my loved ones beginnings, I hold tight.

I hold tight to the God who ordains it all, all our beginnings and all our ends. I hold tight because this cycle is hard. The waiting, the starting, the ending. I hold tight while I clean out my flower bed, I pull out my sweaters as the air grows cold and when I chop my spinach each morning for breakfast.

How good that He is with us in it all.

Hundreds of new beauties can come from the death of this one precious daisy.

A hand to hold

“Look how strong you are!”

I’m not sure when it happens – I just know it does and did for each of my three children. That moment when your infant child is able to wrap their tiny fingers around your one adult finger and you feel the smidge of strength and purpose as they recognize their ability to grip.

“Look how strong you are!”

These words instantly come out of a mother’s mouth both in affirmation of your child and awe at the miracle you are holding in your arms. Each new development you see in those first weeks is remarkable. The progress in the first year of a child’s life feels like more than any other year of a human’s existence. The newborn that comes into the world 100% dependent on their parents quickly moves from nursing or a bottle to solid food. They transition from lying helpless to crawling and walking on their own. First words may be uttered, and the desire for independence that grows with each passing year begins to peak at you in the most subtle of ways.

“Look how strong you are!”

Today marks a milestone in my mothering life. Our youngest turns 20.


The memory of her gripping my finger for the first time is clear in my mind’s eye.

Maybe because she was my last baby.

Maybe because she was my smallest baby and this landmark felt even more amazing. Her fingers – so tiny!

Maybe it is because even today, she still reaches for my hand when we are walking together or driving together or sitting near each other. I learned one of the best ways for me to communicate my belief, support and love to my strong, determined, compassionate last-born is to hold her hand.

“Look how strong you are!”

As I look back at the years my children spent in their teens I realize that the words I spoke during their first year of life, that came so freely and so enthusiastically, were the exact words they needed during this season of the teenage years that again felt like such rapid growth. The tone may have needed to drop an octave or two from the higher pitch we often use with newborns – but the sentiment is still the same. “Look how strong you are” is a message my teenagers needed when navigating a world that seemed to scream about their weaknesses when held against their peers’ apparent strengths. It was a message spoken from a “I knew you when” perspective. As a parent your memory of that first finger squeeze is held up against the strength your child demonstrates when stepping up to bat for the first time in little league, or rides the bus for the first time, or gets in the drivers seat of your car and you genuinely see their strength that comes from daily, gradual growth. The biggest lie a parent of teenagers can believe is that their voice is no longer welcome or necessary. The effect your words have may elicit different responses than the smiles and coos of a baby but the reminder that you are still in their corner full of the same belief, love and trust instill a security so desperately needed in their lives.

“Look how strong you are!”

But what about those times when they’re not.

And we’re not.

Strong, that is.

When the circumstances of life appear to have the upper hand that takes a sneaky right upper cut to the base of our jaw, or into our gut. And all strength and hope feels lost. The “look how strong you are” statement falls flat because it is…




God uses each of my children to teach me much needed life-lessons. My just-turned-20-year-old is no exception. My modus operandi is to proclaim “Look how strong you are!” even when it is not entirely accurate in an effort to take my eyes and others off the hard and onto the bright side. The reality is that as we grow older so does our ability to detect inauthentic praise. My daughter reminded me once that allowing oneself to feel the sadness that accompanies disappointment and discouragement are a necessary part of the growing process and that false encouragement is no encouragement at all. I learned that in the moments when my children feel weak and I have little to offer the most important words are not, “Look how strong you are!” but…..

“Look how strong HE is.”

He – the God who knit you together in my womb.

The God who promises to never leave or forsake you.

The God who has endless grace and mercy. Giving us more than we we ask or imagine and forgiving us more times than we deserve.

The God who sent His son into the world, leaving his divine power in heaven in order to feel the strain that humans feel when their strength is tested. The God who exhibited the greatest strength when he allowed the physical sacrifice of His son through death on a cross.

His son, our Savior who defeated death and the grave to give




to all that believe in him.

“Look how strong you are!”

Today I celebrate the end of an era. I loved the teen years. I loved the conversations with my children that made me laugh, made me think, made me sometimes want to pull my hair out. I loved the evidence of moments that showed their growth, their maturity and their trust in their Savior. I loved every moment where I was reminded of my need for wisdom and strength which lead me straight to the feet of Jesus.

Today I celebrate you, Brooke. The bookend to our children. The courageous, witty, determined, passionate 20-year-old. The human that asks the best questions, that expects excellence from herself, that is willing to stay in the hard when others may want to bail. The one that takes the time to write heartfelt birthday cards and thank you notes and is quick to ask how I am doing. Today I celebrate your God-given strengths that you use to point others to Him and I also celebrate your weaknesses that remind you that your true source of power comes from the one who gave you life for now and eternity. I take your hand, I squeeze your fingers, I feel your grip –

“Look how strong you are! Look how strong He is!”

You are loved.


Brooke – She’s 20