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How to Overcome Your Past. (And those dark thoughts.)

When I was little and before I was adopted, I saw things. And heard things. Things little people were never meant to see or hear. I saw my birth mom prostitute herself with men. She'd bring a different guy home, so many nights, and I really wanted to sleep next to her, so I would curl up down at the end of the bed just so I could be a little bit close. Those things have a way of staying with you. And my birth dad was addicted to pornography, I suppose, so he'd leave the magazines out and I'd look at them so curiously. My birth mom had some crazy sense that those images weren't good for me, so she'd snatch them up. Then fuss at him. Now that I'm all grown up, I think about the irony of that.  Her bringing men home while I slept on a pallet on the floor or at the end of the bed but[...]

What to do with your hard things

  One morning, I sat on the couch and had coffee with my Hope girl. Well, she had some creamer, with a little bit of coffee in it. I asked her if there's anything she's been thinking about lately. She only just had ten things. Ten very big, heavy things, that made her cry into her coffee cup. Ten things that she's been carrying around in that little tender heart of hers--things that made her feel scared and afraid. Some of those things that had created anxiety in her chest, were words I had said out loud to my friends, about my own fears. I didn't realize she was quietly listening. We forget that us grown-ups can process out loud and then be fine. But, kids absorb and worry. There were some words I had rashly and flippantly spoken, that I had to apologize for. So, w[...]

What the Sky May Be Shouting To You Today

Most days, I crave the sky. I'll be sitting on the couch in the evenings, brain dead, you know, because it's the end of the day, and we're watching a show, and I'll glance outside to see the softest light, slowly fading. I get this itch. I have to get out there. So up I go and steal away out into the backyard, and I find that one big patch of sky through the trees and look up. The sky bellows down, God-glory.  Somehow this helps me breathe in deep again and feel refreshed. I take it all in, the work of my Maker's hands. And sometimes I tell my husband that we need to the drive down to the lake. Because if you can get to the lake, then you can drink in so much sky. I've got this hunger. I need to watch the light breaking in and see the clouds shift and swirl like eddies in a[...]

When You're Down in A Deep Dark Hole and You Can't Get Out

I met this girl the other day. She'd recently gone through an intense amount of trauma. You could see it in her eyes still. The "I'm terrified but I'm trying real hard to be brave and show up anyways" look. She told me bits and pieces of her story and we prayed. Two strangers, trying to make sense of life and faith and doubt and the hard parts of being human. She told me that for a while there, she hid, down in a deep hole and she couldn't get out. Literally, the trauma had so affected her body, that there were days when she couldn't get out of her bed. But, Jesus came and He was helping. Little by little by little. Helping. Some of us didn't know that Jesus was like this. That He would come looking for us while we're hunkered down, in our hidey holes. We thought that no o[...]

When You Want to Hear the Voice of God

In 1980, I was born in a little town in the South. It happened in Spring, while the earth turned green and the bees droned and the forsythias bloomed. My birth parents were two very broken people. We ran away a lot, from the police, and I got dropped off at stranger's houses and there were foster homes, and I felt lost. But, this is not the story of that. This story is not so much about being lost, as it is about being found. When I was about three or four, it thundered and rained and I stood in a living room, somewhere scared and asked my birth mom why it was so loud. She told me that God and the devil were up in heaven fighting. The thunder was because one of them was mad. That was my first introduction to God. He is up there. Somewhere. And He's in charge, kind of. When[...]

When Father's Day is Painful

The other day, we took the kids to the splash park. And as I was sitting there, enjoying the wild antics of my children, running and romping in the fountains, I heard a stranger say distinctly, "Dad!" It startled me. Because without warning, I was jolted back to a life where I could talk to my own dear Pa again. That simple word, "Dad," flooded my mind with memories, us laughing over silly things. I sat there crying on the splash pad, turning my face away so no one could see. Good thing there was water all around. Maybe nobody noticed the tears. But, in that moment of grieving, when somehow I wanted to just sit and cry, the Holy Spirit whispered so kindly but swiftly, "Little lovey, just thank Me. Thank Me for all those talks with your Daddy." So, I did. "Thank You, God! For givi[...]

How to Slow Down Your Summer and Enjoy Your Life More

  We're home now. Home to our yard full of dirt and grass and frogs for Sam to catch, and weeds for me to get to pullin.  There will be popsicles with the neighbor kids and evenings where we taste honeysuckle from the ditch and chase after fireflies and there will be bonfires with s'mores sticking to our chins. And we'll take numerous trips to the beach, and just sit out in lawn chairs, visiting with friends. I think I missed that part the most, while we were on the road. The part where you just sit still, outside somewhere, underneath a shade tree, with a glass of lemonade or sweet tea, and swat flies with someone you've known for years and tell stories and laugh. The whole summer is laid out before us and I want to slowly drink it in. I don't want it to pass by i[...]

How the Ordinary Moments Can Be the Most Impactful Ones

Today, I was helping Brent wind up the hoses to our trailer, as we packed up for our final jaunt to home. As I bent down to secure the hose in place while Brent wound it round and round, I had a flashback memory of me and my Pa. There we were again, out in the yard, Pa teaching me how to wind up the water hose. There's an art to it, you know. You can't just wind a hose up any old way or else it'll get all jangled and kinked up. When the memory came, racing back in vividly bright colors, I cried, quiet. Because winding up a water hose with my Dad was the most ordinary moment I can imagine. But, you never know which ordinary moment will lodge itself secure in your memory and then come traipsing back years later, in the most brilliantly alive narration. I paused and just let th[...]

Road Life: The Parts I Love (And Don't Love)

If you ask me what I love about traveling, I'll tell you that it's the parts that allow me to pause, and soak in my kids' childhood, just like I did when I was back home, out in our backyard. The other day, we played out on a playground in Ruston, Louisiana, at the church where we stayed. Wherever we land, we make our own backyard, always finding some green space, and this church had the biggest field, edged in by pine trees and hardwoods and dappled with ant hills (which we were careful not to stand on top of.) And if you walk all the way up the hill of the parking lot, there's this little playground, fenced and mulched and inviting us to romp. I sat on the bottom of the slide in the gentle warmth of a Louisiana spring, and just gazed at each of my children, enjoying their l[...]

The Words My Pa Gave to Me, Before He Died

I wasn't always so great at talking to my Dad. Especially during those teenage years, you know, it was so very awkward. I would have these things I needed to tell him though, some struggles I was going through, and so I would tell my Mom first. And then she'd have me and Dad sit down together in the living room, and somehow, we'd stumble it out. I'd tell him my hard things. And he'd challenge me in some areas where I was stuck.  And give me advice. Good grief, it was excruciating to work through. I hated it. And I loved it. And now, I'm so glad my Mom had us do that. At some point, a few years ago, I decided to call my Dad on Saturdays. Because it was always easy to talk to my Mom. I'd call and we could talk for an hour, no problem. But, I realized after years of this, tha[...]

When My Pa Went to Heaven

My Pa went on to be with Jesus, and I try hard to remember everything. I scratch around for everything I can possibly recall about him, for days. I lay down at night, and search the memories, the colors, the moving pictures, the snapshots in my head, because if I can just remember all the things, then somehow I can hold on to him. There I am again, about 10 or 11. It's Thanksgiving Day and we live down a dusty dirt road. Family is coming over for lunch and my Pa is down at the culvert, trying to clear out the dam that the beavers built, that's making the water flood over the road. My Mom tells me to take Dad coffee, in that plastic cup that we kept from Hardee's. Or was it McDonald's? Either way, I set out down the stretch of road, with a warm cup of coffee for my Pa, and I feel so [...]

Trailer Life

We're at this RV park in Arkansas. (My Pa has been sick, so since we were already driving through, we decided to take a week to be close to him and my family.) We usually live in church parking lots, so this is our first time to stay in an RV park. There's this fun and interesting community here. That's us, in Gigantor. When you drive Gigantor into an RV park, everyone comes out to meet you. There was the retired Marine driving by in his Jeep who stopped to chat for a bit. He was cussin' until we told him what we do. (Ministers to the church.) And then he was like, "Let me tell you something! I'm real proud of what you guys are doing. Real proud." And we were like, "Well, we're really proud of you, for serving our country." And he was like, "But, not as proud as I am of you." The[...]

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