Extended Stay

wheatI started this post when my husband was in the hospital. I didn’t get it finished while we were there… too many nurses walking in and out of the room? Amazing people, those nurses! I didn’t get to finish it the first month we were home. Still, I think about these things.

Lately, there has been so much on my mind. So many words written. So many things not really said. So many things changed. This seems to have become my life.

These last six days have been scary. These last six days have been frustrating. These last six days have been long. These last six days have been heartbreaking. These last six have been hard on our kids. These last six days have been a blessing.

Now, I’m not a biblical scholar, but let me tell you what that means to me.

The Bible talks about a sifting that will happen. In Luke 22:31 Jesus says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”wheatsifter

See, Jesus was hanging with his tribe, these men he called his disciples. They were celebrating the Passover. Jesus had told two of them how to find the place where they would eat together, and the men followed his directions, found it exactly as He had said, and made the preparations. Once all the men are all sitting around the table, Jesus gives us the words most churches now quote when they gather for communion.

communioncup2Most churches, however, stop before that chapter does. Jesus, taking the cup, talks about his blood being poured out for them, and moves right into talking about his betrayer! This comment starts an argument between the rest of the men. Seriously, they started fighting about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus tells them he would be betrayed by one of them and they start telling him why each one is better than the other. Talk about missing the point!

Once they begin to argue over which one is the greatest, Jesus talks to them about the difference between secular government and heavenly government. The people of the world want to rule over the people. When you run into a worldly person in charge, how do they treat you? Typically, they hold power, and they let you know it. Unless you can do something for them, they have little use for you.wheathands

But kingdom-minded leaders should be different. For Jesus’ challenge to be met, a leader must serve. They must honor those who are under them. Why? Because that is the way Jesus lead.

Sifting can and does happen in life. What that looks like is different for each of us. What needs to look the same for each of us is this, when we have been tested, have come through the sifter and learned from it, we are to help those who have not learned the same lessons yet.

What would the world be like if everyone who took a step up, turned and helped the next guy make the same level up? What if everyone who grew, helped the person behind them learn the same lesson without as much pain?

Maybe that’s what love really looks like.



I Miss you, Mom

Dear Mom,

I haven’t even started writing, and there are tears in my eyes. Oh, yes, this month is going to be rough. I find my thoughts are filled imgcache0.11978216with you. And when they are not directly about you, they sneak up and blindside me with some unexpected tie to you.

Sometimes it knocks the wind out of me.

I find I am really not looking forward to this 4th of July. I have looked at the photo taken July 4, 2016, when you didn’t feel up to going out to watch the fireworks, so sweet EM and SM brought in poppers and showered you with confetti.IMG_5133

I wish I had been there to see it. To see you smile. To hear you giggle. To watch you love on those babies. I know you did. That’s who you were… it’s what you did.

And yet you know life was busy. And you were more concerned about me, and all that was going on in my life than you were with your own. Because of the turmoil in my life, you even asked me if I was ok, you needed to know I woFullSizeRenderuld be ok. It is one of the last conversations we had, and it replays in my mind often. Your selfless concern you had for me is unmatched.

Just 20 short days later, you were gone. And my heart still aches.

How I wish and have wished over this last year, thaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAt I could call you for one more chat. To tell you what’s going on now. What the kids are doing now. What I’m doing now. To ask you about your own grief when you lost Grandma. I remember the trip back, and how you cried. I remember your tears at the funeral home. I don’t remember any more. I never saw you wrestle like I have wrestled. I know we had conversations about Grandma, but I don’t remember telling you through my tears how much I missed my grandmother like my kids tell me.

I want to call and just chat. Especially when I’m driving. The conversations we would have when I was behind the wheel usually were more about keeping me awake then deep talks, and yet sometimes they were really very thought provoking. I miss that.

IMG_6250I miss knowing that if something was important to me, you would care about it. No matter how trivial it really was, you still would understand. You still wanted to listen. You still cheered me on. I miss knowing that even if I had called you five times already, you would still be excited to talk to me if I called again.

I miss driving around town and you laughing, “You never take me home the same way twice.” I miss shopping and calling you to ask what that one thing was in that one dish… and you would know.IMG_6226

I miss being able to talk to you about something and not having to explain the history behind whatever it is. Because you were there and you knew what all was implied.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I was able to talk to you. Even longer since I hugged you. I hope you know how much you are loved. How much you are missed. Those babies you were so afraid wouldn’t know you… they miss you like crazy.

Anyway, I just really wanted to tell you we all love you.

Whispers in the Storm

As I have said before, here, music has always been a huge part of my life. Music speaks to my heart. I tend to take notice of lyrics, which my kids and husband can find frustrating. I don’t know how many times they try to enjoy a song and I find myself asking, “Can you not HEAR what they are saying???”

Tonight I was in the process of preparing for dinner. I wanted spaghetti squash. However, I was not at a store that carried it. So I decided I would make due with a gluten free spaghetti. Have you used that stuff? It’s a 50/50 shot at working. Hit or miss. A crap shoot.

Tonight was not my night. Tonight was chaos.

Oh, it started calm enough. Four of the kids were outside playing. My oldest two were doing their own things. I put on some worship music and started chopping. G came down to take out the trash, and changed my music, adding hip hop to my worship. J came down and added alternative rock into my worship. So much for the calm.

Have mentioned there are six kids in my household? All of them taking turns letting me know they are “starving” right this minute, and will die if they don’t eat (fill in the blank with whatever they are trying to take from the kitchen when they can clearly see I am working on dinner) right now! And when Momma says no… let the melting down of children begin.

Drama? My house? Why would you ask such a thing?

While the cutting board is on the counter, I started on veggies for tomorrow’s lunch. The next thing I know I have six additional hands stirring all the pots on my stove. And fighting over who gets to stand on the stool to do the stirring. In the middle of this fun, K says, “Is it supposed to look like that?”

Um. No.

My lovely gluten free spaghetti has followed the tired children’s footsteps and had a meltdown. What is supposed to be a yummy pasta has become a soupy goop. Ugh.

As I scrambled to come up with enough odd pasta to not waist the sauce I made, it occurs to me the song playing has played before. I start to realize someone must have changed my setting on this song, and now it’s on a loop, however I’m cooking, so I don’t check my phone. Over and over the lyrics hit me. Usually it was at the chorus when I realize it has repeated again:

His love is deep, His love is wide/And it covers us/His love is fierce, His love is strong/It’s furious/His love is sweet, His love is wild/And it’s waking hearts to life

The love of Christ is deep, wide, fierce, strong, sweet, wild. It’s covering and furious. It is a song to wake the very heart to what life should be. Abundant, full, satisfying, hopeful.

I hit pause, and sat down with my family. After the meal was done, I remembered the song, and grabbed my phone to stop it from looping… only it wasn’t set to loop. Yes, you read that right. My phone looped a song, probably five times, and it wasn’t set to do so. It played through 11 songs, plus the 5 my kids added and got hung up on this one song from Bethel Music and Jeremy Riddle.


Tonight I am going to spend some time thinking on these words, and let them whisper to my tattered soul. My God loves me, and he is singing to me tonight. In the storm, my heart is waking to life.

Furious by Jeremy Riddle

Verse 1
Nothing can tear us from
The grip of His mighty love
We’ve only glimpsed, His vast affection
Heard whispers of, His heart and passion
It’s pouring down…

His love is deep, His love is wide
And it covers us
His love is fierce, His love is strong
It’s furious
His love is sweet, His love is wild
And it’s waking hearts to life

Verse 2
The Father loves and sends His son
The Son lays down His life for all
He lavishes His love upon us
He calls us now, His sons and daughters
He’s reaching out…

His love is deep, His love is wide
And it covers us
His love is fierce, His love is strong
It’s furious
His love is sweet, His love is wild
And it’s waking hearts to life

… and its waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life

Your love is deep, Your love is wide
And it covers us
Your love is fierce, Your love is strong
It’s furious
Your love is sweet, Your love is wild
And it’s waking hearts to life

Hart Lessons

th-28In honor of the 37 anniversary of a show I loved as a child, let me tell you a little bit about the things I learned watching a campy romance detective show, called Hart to Hart.

Summer 1981. I was a young child on vacation with my folks, staying at my Grandfather and his wife’s home. He had remarried after my grandmother passed away. It was late, and I probably should have been in bed. But img_6109summer. And my parents we talking with family they didn’t get to see often. My brother and some cousins were off playing somewhere and I was flipping channels on the TV.

I can still see her tv sitting there in the living room. It was bigger than the one we had at home. In my head, I can still see the airplane img_6105taking off that screen for the start of a show I had never been allowed to stay up late enough to watch. And suddenly, the most amazing sparkling blue eyes and dark hair I had ever seen graced the screen. With an impish grin and boyish charm, he was dazzling. This man was gorgeous. I was mesmerized by someone named Robert Wagner, as only a very tired ten year old can be.img_6110

The next images on the screen were of this beautiful wavy red haired lady. Suddenly I was cursing my own stick straight dishwater blonde img_6107head. She was playful, fun and graceful. Oh to be just. like. her! In that one setting, Stefanie Powers became my definition of what it meant to be a woman.img_6111

And then there is their quirky house man/butler/friend/family played by Lionel Stander. His role is hard to define. He calls it simply taking care of them. Everyone needs a Max!

th-12The images from that episode are burned into my head. It was summer, so the current season had ended, but the newest one had not started. This means reruns. For those of you blessed to grow up in the age of DVD, this meant the only way we could see a show was th-26to wait for whatever night it was on, and if it was between seasons, we had to suffer the indignant insult of re-watching episodes. I was ok with it that summer, as they were all new to me then. This also meant I watched Downhill to Death in the summer. They were skiing in Vail, I was sweating in Indiana.

Yes, I fully admit I was an odd child. My friends were all about the young teenage boys, I th-5was enthralled with this adult couple. One of the things I learned watching this show is marriage could look much different from the ones I saw around me. This couple was in love with, looked out for, and trusted each other. They were together in almost everything they did. They fully believed each other. Somewhere in my pre-teenage mind, I set out to find a man I could trust like that, who would trust me like that.th-18

I learned a man who could make you laugh was a very th-16good thing. To be able to have fun with the people you live with creates joy in the home. Being friends and lovers is an amazing chemistry. And while you want someone who can be serious when he had to be, fun that is not at the expense of someone else is a treasure.

th-29Then there is the fighting factor. I learned you want someone who is willing to fight for you, or for those around you, or for those who can not fight for themselves. The champion of the underdog. A hero who steps in to right the wrongs and injustices around you. When someone has a heart for the hurting, they are looking out for those who fall into cannot help themselves category.th-23

While I’m sure that given enough time, I could come up with a way more things, the last thing I’ll share is their affection. This couple was always affectionate, holding hands, walking arm in arm, kissing each other’s cheeks, head, lips. Even in pretty tense situations, he would take her hand to lead her, or she would grab his arm to follow him. I believe that affection gave them strength and comfort when they needed it.

th-27Now, before you ask, yes I am fully aware they are fictional characters. Yes, I know real life isn’t that perfect. However, I also don’t think it hurts us at all to strive for the impossible. We never know how close we can get until we try.


kaileigh-1107 031Y’all. Yesterday was a month. The first 30 days are now behind us. Some hard moments walked through. Others, as of yet, still unknown. Since music has been such a mainstay in my life, as I have gotten up and moving each day, facing each trial or smile as they come my way, I find I am holding onto yet another song.

Actually, my love of this song started before this last 30 days. I fell in love with it in 2015 when this album hit iTunes. It has become a th-2mainstay in several different ways for me. I have loved TobyMac‘s music for a long time, however, we won’t talk about how long… I don’t know that either of us want to date ourselves like that… I mean we were both just babies when dcTalk started in 1987…

Anyway, his music is always thoughtful, timely, and even pretty timeless. His heart is passionate and purposeful. And there are often several that thspeak to me with each offering. The newest album, This Is Not A Test, is not any different. I love several songs, but there is one that gets to me every time I listen. And over the last 30 days, it has encouraged me in new ways. I find it is the chorus I have running in my head, a sort of background voice telling me I need to get back up:

I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet
Heart broken? Don’t drown your sorrow, move. Unanswered prayers? Don’t lth-1et yourself get stagnate, move. Nothing left to give? Don’t give up, pick your foot up and move. Yes, things are hard. It’s part of life. However, morning is coming. The sun will rise soon. Now is not the time to give into the things that make you feel weak. The bridge of the song says:
Hold on, hold on
Lord ain’t finished yet
Hold on, hold on
He’ll get you through this
Hold on, hold on
These are the promises
I never will forget
I never will forget
In 2nd Corinthians, Paul discusses being weak. His conclusion to dealing with weakness is in verse 9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Toby reminds us there is strength in the promises of Jesus. Draw on it and keep walking.
And the other lines that stick in my head and keep my thoughts running are these:
Echoin’ inside your head
Are the words that your sweet momma said,
“shoot for the moon, my dear”
So you took aim out of this atmosphere
So maybe my Mom never actually said those exact words. She never had to. My Mom believed I could do anything, and it was clear every time I talked to her. Play soccer… without a doubt. Go to college… absolutely. Move to Nashville on my own… go for it! Get married and raise six kids… perfect! Whatever I felt like was the next thing to do, she was right there to say, “Yes and amen.” The faith she had in me… well, I can only pray I live up to all she thought I could do.
With the loss of Mom, I know my cheering section is smaller. By no means empty, but for sure she left a vast void. Yet, each time I hear this song, I find my spirits lifted, my resolve stronger, my courage reinforced. I find strength to lift my head and move. I find the ability to continue on with another moment, another breath, another smile, another day. I find strength to hold on… the Lord’s not finished yet.

Key Lessons

skeleton-key-clipart-xTgLjbXTADid you know when you loose a key, you can probably figure out about a million different things you can learn from that one small act? It’s stunning how many times something keyed in on KS and me as we combed the beach for that little metal object. I mean, it’s crazy to find lessons each time we walked or talked.

First off, let me explain a little bit about me… I don’t loose things. Like almost never. Especially when it’s something like keys, sunglasses or my phone. These things are on my person nearly at all times. And, should something crazy happen, like I can’t find something, I can step through what I’ve done and find the missing. Usually in 20 minutes.

So, to not have this key was a bit stressful. As I talk to KS about this, she reminded me that th (1)things are different for me right now. The death of a parent is unlike any grief I have had to walk through before, and it will take some time to figure it all out. This key I needed was to go easy on myself.

We walked and we talked. In that discussion we concluded sometimes the key you seek is not the key you really need. Even when you think it’s exactly what you need, it’s not, and you won’t understand until later why.

Often, as we walked, I would find trash. Lots of trash. (I was kind of surprised and appalled at the amount of trash I found.) Bottles. Bottle caps (both plastic and metal). Broken toys. Lost toys. Wrappers of all kinds… who knew there were so many green wrappers and caps? When you are seriously searching for something, whatever you are searching for from guys to keys, you have to keep working through the trash to get to the right one.

Once, as we walked I found I pen on the beach. As I picked it up I almost heard the thought run through my head, “The key is to write”. Wow… Write what? Doesn’t really matter. Just write. Let the words, like the tears, flow and you might be amazed at what you find.

We walked and talked for four days. And as the last day drew closer, my stress level grew. I just knew it was going to be expensive to not have that key to turn in. However, when the time to check out came and there was no key, I sucked it up, and told the lady in charge I would only be turning one key in. Know what? It was no where near the cost I thought it was. Because sometimes, we make things out to be worse than they are.

We drove away from the condo feeling like, while I didn’t get everything back as I had wanted, it was all taken care of. Not ideal, but something I could live with. KS and I had just a couple things to finish, and then we grabbed lunch before we left. As we sat, enjoying the cloudy but warm day, my phone rang. It was not a number I had saved, and yet, it looked familiar, so I answered it. Indeed, someone further up the beach found that key. It was turned in, and I owed nothing. Sometimes the only key you need is trust.

The Key is the Key

thThis evening a my friend KS and I were going to take a walk on the beach. However, with dark clouds looming, and lightening beginning to flash for the third night in a row, we made our way back to our condo and continued our conversation.

Maybe 30 minutes later, no storm. In fact, the sky seemed much clearer, and we opted to chance that storm for a walk down the beach. And as we often do, we chatted about rather philosophical topics, while keeping our eye on the still impending storm threatening to soak us if we did not hurry back. Since we were already damp from the sprinkling going on, we decided it was, indeed, time to go in. To top it off, now we were hungry.

We approached the door, and I expected her to pull out her key to the door. She expected me to do the same. Um… key? I don’t have a key… Oh, yeah… we were completely locked out of our room. And this isn’t a hotel, remember? There is no desk clerk to run back to for another key card. No, this is a condo, and you need a number for the after hours people to come rescue you. Feeling a bit thankful the storm had cut the power our second night in and I had called to let them know, I called for backup.

About an hour later, the cavalry arrived and opened the door. Yay. Glad to be inside, we glanced at the counters expecting to see two keys… but only found one. Panic began to set in. I have no idea where my key is.

I go back to the beach while my amazing friend cooks dinner. It’s dark. The waves are relentless in their crashing at the sand. Little white crabs (and some not so little) are running all around me. All I can think is how crazy it is to be looking for the key… how I am literally looking for an key that is impossible to find on my own, and feeling like I am doing the same thing in my life. Not only can I not find said key, not having it makes me vulnerable. (Cue Jennifer Hart in my head “The key is the key”… Thanks Hart to Hart.)

And I remembered a friend telling me the story of a missionary forgetting her suitcase and then finding it on a luggage carousel from the wrong airline as they caught their next plane. The missionary looked at her and said, “And that is why we never worry with Jesus.” So after looking a bit, I gave up and came in. No key.

I told my friend my thoughts when I came in. As my friend began to talk I expected the key to be some kind of key to life situations going on. What she hit me with was grief being a key… Are you kidding me? Just hearing her speaking about it cued the tears. I can’t even tell you what exactly she said.

I basically hit a wall tonight. It was big. It was heavy.  It was dark. It was daunting.

We sat on the deck and listened to the waves crash relentlessly upon the sand. We talked a little more. And then she began to sing. Worship washed over me. Worship lifted me. Tears flowed. I could do nothing but let them come. Let them cleanse me. Let them heal me. Let them comfort me.

When she was done, I was exhausted. But felt a need to put this down. Worship. In grief. In sorrow. In pain. Worship is a healing balm. Worship is the salve. Worship is the key. My physical key is still missing, but I have a greater key to hold onto.

Two Weeks In

IMG_5131I have now lived two weeks on this Earth without a major piece of my heart. Sun up to sun down. Minute by minute. Mile stone by mile stone. Foot step by foot step. Breath by breath.

I have lost people before. I have lost people I have heavily grieved over before. I am a bit caught off guard at the depth of this loss. Well, I am and I’m not. I mean, how can you not feel a deep loss when you loose the one person who you have literally known your whole life? The one person who’s body was your place of growth and protection before you were even born. The one person who’s heartbeat was the first thing you heard.

My Mom was by no means perfect. She struggled with life sometimes. She struggled with me and my brother sometimes. She struggled with God sometimes. She shut down when she was mad. And, oh boy, she could yell!

IMG_5167But my Mom was also one of the most amazing women on this planet. She was so sweet and nurturing. When she loved you, you knew you were loved. It was like a warm blanket on a cold night. Soft, warm, comforting. She had a smile that would light up a room, soften the hardest heart, and put even the grumpiest grouch at ease. She taught me to give to people. I can not count all the times she gave away blankets she made with her hands and her heart. She loved to talk to people, learn their story. She set you at ease and lifted your heart.IMG_5207

Mom was a thinker. I already miss the conversations we would have about everything, and nothing, and life and living. I loved being able to call and say, “What do you think…” and she would have great things to say. She was my sounding board. A voice of reason when I needed one. A laugh when I needed one. A shoulder to cry on when I needed one.

Not very athletic, she was left handed, and always felt things were backwards, so I think that hindered her desire to work at sports. However, she almost always willing to try something adventurous. She wasn’t one to go play soccer or basketball or baseball. Camping, hunting, fishing, parasailing, zip lining? Yep, she was there. However, if I was playing, boy you bet she was there to watch. Sunny? There. Rainy? There. Snow on the ground and freezing temperatures? There. I wish I could show you the pictures in my head of her on the side line, standing in snow just to watch me play soccer. Even as a 45 year old adult player, if she was in town when I played, she was sitting in the stands and cheering us on.IMG_0089

Her heart though? That was the amazing eight little people who lovingly called her Grandma. Each one of them were her pride and joy. She couldn’t wait to hear what they were doing, what they said or how they did. Or talk to them whenever she could… on the phone or in person. And, how they loved her. She was so concerned when I moved to Nashville, that when I had kids, they wouldn’t know her because she lived far away. It tickled her so to hear them squeal with joy “GRANDMA!!!” as she walked into the house. She was there for each of their births. She was there for plays, and games, and cooking together. They knew her. They loved her. They miss her.

IMG_6714Even sitting here now, I find myself wishing I could ask her opinion or advice. Or just throw my arms around her for a hug. The grief comes in waves. Sometimes they are little waves and just rock me enough to take a step back. Sometimes they are big waves and are impossible to stand up against. And while I’m sure they will slow and become less traumatic, I’m equally sure they will never really calm or be still. There is a void that can not be refilled on this earth.

So do me a favor, huh? If your Momma is still here, call her. Tell her you love her. Go see her. Hug her neck tight. Because when you no longer can, it will be the one thing you really want to do.

Let It Go!

Yes, I know you just sang that title in your head. I am so sorry. However, I need your complete attention. Do I have it now? Good.

th-1A new step in parenting was braved today… It’s been years in the making. There was lots of sweating, heart pounding, pulse racing… all done by Mom. If you haven’t taken such parenting steps yet, let me tell you there is no preparing for the sight. Seriously, there really is no way to prepare for the feelings that run through you as your baby drives off alone for the  first time.

Yes, I thought I was ready. I was one cool cucumber as he got his permit (though driving with a first time driver is unnerving). Maybe, dare I say, even excited at the promises of another driver to help with school runs, practice runs, store runs and general aspects of just getting things done.

On the day of his 16th birthday, we ventured to the land of sloths, otherwise known as the dreaded DMV. Upon our arrival, we discovered a two hour wait before us, putting us right on the start of his one class he felt he really should be present for that day. Sigh. We left  and figured we would be back the next week. But life… and play rehearsal/performance… and soccer practice… and homework… and… and… and suddenly we were into June without a license. It’s summer people. Enough.

You wanna know what put him into gear to actually go? We found a car. An affordable car. His car. And it sat in our driveway. And he drove it with parents inside. Suddenly that license looked like a need to the boy.

So back to the sloths… Early. Before they opened, we were outside their doors waiting. And waiting. And waiting. For 30 minutes beyond their listed operation time. I have no idea what emergency necessitated the delayed opening. Maybe equipment wasn’t working. Maybe a coffee run. Maybe they were slowly telling jokes and laughing while the rest of us stood impatiently outside their door.

Once we were extended The Golden Scepter of the Open Door, prefinished paperwork made for short lines and a quick exit. Let there be much rejoicing in the kingdom!

That is until the child, this baby moving in a near man’s body, walks out the door with keys in hand, and you stand at the door and watch. Yep, he’s actually getting into the car. Without you beside him. Yep, he’s actually starting the car. Without you beside him. Yep, he’s actually backing up. Without you beside him. Yep, he’s actually pulling out into the street… WITHOUT YOU BESIDE HIM!!!

thAnd just like that, he’s out of your line of sight. Off on his own adventures. It is a good thing, you must remind your pounding heart and queasy stomach. It is a good thing. Letting him go is a good thing. You have given him the keys he needs to do well. This is his chance to prove it to himself, and the world. He’s got this.

And when he texts you pictures of another car like his in the parking lot of the mall, you will breathe a little easier. And when he pulls back into your driveway, you will breathe fully again. It is a good thing, Mom. Really. Let it go.