Thursday, August 28, 2014


I dropped the ball recently.  Not just a slight miscommunication, forgot to send the birthday card until a day too late, tossed a red shirt in with the whites kind of misstep.  No, this was a feelings hurt, tears shed, angry words spoken kind of mistake that had me hanging my head in disbelief that I could be so brainless and inconsiderate.

Ever had that moment?

It feels like a ball of lead dropping into your stomach followed by an immediate choking sensation followed by a panic attack.

My first impulse is to go into damage control mode.

I picked up the phone, admitted my mistake and apologized profusely, but it didn't take long for me to understand that the problem doesn't really lie in my error.

I've been studying the idea of greatness for a writing piece I'm working on.  The central Scripture of the piece is Matthew 22 where Jesus responds to the Pharisees and their question about which commandment is the greatest.

And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  -Matthew 22:37-39

Love God.
Love people.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it?

By loving people, we demonstrate our love for God.  If we truly love God, we will love on his people. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Our family has been going through a time of transition. I have gone back to work at a day job which has brought about a whole new set of childcare challenges.  My husband is on the brink of another trip to China. All three kids are about to be in school, at three different schools, on different days and times. I started doing more work from home.

In a way, it's felt like standing in the eye of a hurricane. I can see all these things swirling around me and I'm very much entrenched in the middle of it, just trying to keep focused and centered to avoid being swept away.

My problem isn't that I can't manage the storm. My problem seems to be that I don't have anything left of myself to give to people.

I forget to make phone calls to chat with family.
I fail to make time to text someone just to check on how she's doing.
I don't drive up for a visit as often as I should.
I completely space on inviting someone very important to my son's birthday lunch.

So this is my call for grace.  This is my plea for forgiveness and for patience. This is my attempt to humble myself, to admit I'm a massive failure in this area, and to ask you to bear with me. You see, Jesus made it clear that we are called to serve others and that's what I've been trying to do...I need you to believe that. Where I've gone wrong is that in the process of trying to work hard to serve my family, my friends, my church, my job(s), and my community, I have struggled to maintain healthy boundaries that keep me from stretching myself too thin. Jesus had a much more hectic schedule than I do and he modeled how important it was to rest, to recharge, and to not allow himself to drain everything out to everyone for everything they felt they needed.

This morning I read the story in Mark 5 about the woman who pushed through the crowd surrounding Jesus just to touch his clothes, believing that it would heal her. Jesus is being pressed on all sides by throngs of people with illness and diseases, people with sick loved ones, people with needs too numerous to mention. They all wanted a piece of Jesus and they were literally putting the pressure on him to pony up. As he maneuvered his way through the sea of people, he stopped and turned to find the one person who had reached out and touched his garment and dropped everything he was doing to hear her story and call her Daughter. At that moment, she was his priority and he put everything else on hold to attend to her in her crisis.

But Jesus wasn't just out for a morning stroll when all this took place - he was on a mission, already heading on an urgent trip to Jairus's house where his daughter lay dying. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have been Jairus, a father desperate for anything that might save his beloved child's life. What despair he must have felt when Jesus' attention was diverted to this woman, delaying him enough that his daughter dies in the meantime.

Can you picture it? I can see Jesus, who had the power to heal every single person in that crowd with a word, choosing the priorities from among the crushing collection of needs that surrounded him. Do I think it hurt him to make the conscious choice not to do a sweeping solution to everyone's issue? Yes, I do. And then...he reaches the home of Jairus, where he is about to do the most incredible miracle of his ministry to date...and he tells everyone except his closest disciples to wait outside.

My point is this: I am not Jesus.

Shocking stuff, I know. If there is anyone who has ever walked this earth who could have handled all the pressure of handling all the people and all their things, it's Jesus. He's God and last time I checked, he can do everything. I am about the furthest thing from Jesus possible and there are times, like now for example, when I feel all the things pushing in on me, clamoring for my attention and my efforts and I simply cannot do it all. I am so very imperfect and flawed.

There will be things that have to wait.
There will be needs that are so acute, so urgent, and so significant to me that I will divert my attention from other things, important things, to attend to them. Feelings will get hurt.
There will be people who don't get exactly what they are looking to get exactly when they are looking to get it.
There will be important matters that I forget to attend to simply because I am human and I mess up....a lot.
But there will also need to be time when I just need to ask people to wait outside while I focus on doing something that is really requiring my undivided attention.

That's the place that I'm in right now.

I realize that all this probably made way more sense in my head than it does in these ramblings, but I just had to run outside in my bare feet to capture a toddler who escaped from his bedroom during what is supposed to be naptime and in the process I stepped wrong and ripped a chunk out of my big toe causing me to have to carry a screaming, flailing little boy back to his bed while limping and leaving a trail of bloody footprints in my wake. As I write these words, he is still screaming from his bed, railing at me for disappointing him, for ruining his fun, for not giving him exactly what he wants exactly when he wants it.

And that's ok.

Because right now, my priority is to change the Band-Aid on my toe because it's already bled through the first one and to get myself ready for work.

And to the one who I hurt, who I know is reading this, I again want to tell you how sorry I am that my forgetfulness hurt you. Please believe me when I tell you it was not my intention and I fully accept responsibility for my mistake. I definitely need to be more considerate of your feelings in the future.
I promise to try to do better in making you feel loved and important in my life, but I am asking you to extend me a little grace and understand that if I ask you to wait outside for a bit, it's not because I don't love you.

I hope that makes sense.

Now, I'd better get off the computer and go clean up the blood before work.  Love you guys.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nothing Will Stand

I just took this one shopping for school supplies.  For first grade.

He is currently loving listening to his Daddy read aloud from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  The cartoon versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (circa 1977) have become his new favorites.  He will do whatever it takes to hold the attention of two six-year-old girls long enough to explain to them how Bilbo managed to steal the Arkenstone from Smaug.

When his tummy feels weird, he still wants to cuddle.

Jonathan Lucroy is his favorite Brewers player even though he can't remember what position he plays half the time.  

Tonight in Target, I overheard him refer to something as a "hot mess."

Lord, I love this child.  What a blessing it is to be honored with the opportunity to be his mama.  

Last Sunday our church scrapped the plan to have worship service as usual in favor of dedicating the majority of the time joining together as a church family in prayer for the people affected by the horrible violence taking place in Iraq.  My boy bowed his head and listened as we prayed for the mothers and fathers who had lost their children, for the families fleeing for their lives, for the children who had to watch their parents be murdered.  We prayed for the Christians who refuse to recant, who "stand firm" as Paul has called us to. We prayed for the members of ISIS who persecute them, that somehow they too might come to understand the grace and mercy that can be found in our Lord Jesus Christ.  

We didn't use specific language.  We didn't vocalize details.  We didn't have to.  The tears that rolled down my cheeks during prayer let him know something was wrong.  He came with me after church to go pick up balloons for his aunt's birthday party and he was unusually quiet.

Before we went in the store to pick up party decorations, I sat in the car with my six year old and gently explained the concept of genocide and told him that it was happening, right now, to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I told him that people were being killed, grown-ups and kids alike.  I told him about the people who fled to the mountains to escape persecution and death who were left without food and shelter...but not without hope.

Many may believe that I was wrong to tell my son about these things, even to such a minimal extent.  In the moments that I watched the understanding and fear wash over his sweet face, I will admit that I thought I may have made a terrible mistake.  But I don't want him to think this "Jesus thing" is some sort of free ticket to a life of ease and sunshine and entitlement.  He needs to know that the world we live in is broken and in desperate need of rescue.  He needs to at least get a glimpse of the darkness to understand how he can be a source of light.  

Sin isn't just about the guilt he feels in his tummy when he lies about smacking his brother over the head with a light saber.  Sin is so much more dangerous than that.  So much more destructive and deadly. 


We have hope.  A sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, we have a hope that will not fail.  When my Facebook news feed is covered with updates about genocide, riots, beloved public figures taking their own lives (O Captain, my Captain....) and everyone is standing around with fingers and guns pointed at one another it makes perfect sense to lose hope.  When my phone blows up with text messages and voice mails from a dear friend whose life is turned upside down in a matter of days and suddenly she is left wondering how she can even do life in a way she recognizes anymore, it seems so sensible to blame and rage and resent.  It makes perfect sense.

Thankfully, grace doesn't make any sense at all.

It doesn't make sense that the Son of God would humble himself to die a slow, excruciating death out of abundant love for the very people who hammered nails into his hands.  There is no logic in it whatsoever according to the ways of this world.

How grateful I am that my Savior doesn't play by the rules of this world.  No, he has overcome this world.  No addiction, no hate, no violence, no vengeance, no atrocity, no betrayal is unknown to him and he has crushed them all. Not somewhat, not a little bit, not sort of.  Complete. Finished. Overcome.

It's fine by me if my son realizes the evil that exists in this world.  It makes his God that much more powerful and necessary.  That's the kind of strength I want my son to come to understand that dwells within him.  For if God is for him, who can be against him?  Not ISIS. Not drugs. Not even the mean kid on the playground who calls him names. 

Not even death.

Nothing will stand. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Where I'm At

I know, I know.

The blog has been quiet.  Crickets, really.

This is one of the reasons that I have never hopped on that "Let's use this blog to earn a ton of money" bandwagon.  I just don't have it in me.  I write what's real, what inspires me, and what stresses me out when the words are ready to appear.  Sometimes that doesn't happen every day.

Sometimes it takes two weeks.

Especially on weeks when plans change, nights get later and mornings get tougher, when consuming a total of five cupcakes within a 24 hour period seems like a fantastic idea. 

Not that I did that or anything.

Three of them were those mini cupcakes, so those only count as one and a half. 

I'm overwhelmed by the days of transition ahead - when Camp ends and along with it, my days as a stay-at-home mom.  I'm stumbling my way through the search for a caregiver for my kids without even knowing the difference between a nanny and a babysitter, worrying that I'm going to find someone I love only to discover I can't afford them or that they turn out to be even crazier than me.

In a related matter, next week is my first week at my new job and the coffee shop is closed.  I also have no idea what to wear.  

We ran out of toilet paper.

As in, not a single square to be found in the entire house.  This delightful development took place while our middle son, who has "bathroom issues," was perched on the potty in a rather precarious predicament.  (Couldn't resist the alliteration potential on that one.)

Nothing.  NOTHING will send a morning routine into Code Red faster than running completely out of toilet paper.

I went to a Lady Antebellum concert on Saturday and came about as close as I ever have in my life to getting into a fist fight.  Now by "close," I mean that the mean women in front of me started picking on my friend I was with and my mouth fell open in shock and my brain was racing with thoughts of how to provide them with a much-needed attitude adjustment while avoiding behavior akin to something you might see on an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians.  Fortunately, my quick-thinking, level-headed friend handled herself beautifully and we only had to put up with these obnoxious women for the duration of the entire concert, but at least nobody got punched or thrown out.

My kids are currently watching The Wizard of Oz and asking me tons of questions as they try to reconcile the events and characters with what they already know to be true based on the soundtrack to Wicked.  My middle kid still hasn't come to terms with the fact that Elphaba isn't really evil despite her pursuit of Dorothy with her creepy flying monkey minions and my oldest is more concerned with clarifying that the Scarecrow is in fact the Wicked Witch's secret boyfriend.

Maybe tomorrow we should stick to Frozen and Veggie Tales.

It's been a week of disappointments, celebrations, long days, late nights, sunburns, and puffy eyes.  I'm kind of in a place where I have so much that I want to write about that I feel paralyzed about even where to begin.  A long overdue Stitch Fix post?  A recap of the fattening food we ate in Savannah?  The tale of the tattoo contest at the Wisconsin State Fair?  All are dancing around in my brain, just waiting to be given the words. 

But right now I'm feeling way too fat from all those cupcakes and way too tired to even try.  Must be the sugar crash.  Thank goodness Woodmans sells those ginormous jugs of Starbucks iced coffee now. 

So that's where I'm at.

How are you? 

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