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On A Summery Day In June

On a summery day in June, we found a toad. This momma taught her boy how to hold it--not upside down, not too squeezy around the tummy--but just like this so as not to traumatize the critter. And the momma taught the boy that you have to let the toad go if you want it to live. Toads are not so happy in your pocket or in a bucket for a week, though it's hard for you to let them go. You might tell your momma afterwards, "I miss that toad." On a summery night in June, we all looked for fireflies. We smelled the honeysuckle. We found a nest of baby bunnies. This momma prayed and she asked God lots of things like, "Please help us. How are we supposed to live this hard life?" On a brand new morning in June, this momma looked up at the sky. She caught a glimpse of God-glory, shouti[...]

When You Wake Up With A Rebel's Heart

This morning I woke up with a rebel's heart. Does that ever happen to you? As a Christ-follower, I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. And I want to love my neighbor as much as I love myself. According to Jesus, these are the two greatest commandments. But, some days temptation comes and I go all rogue on Him. Temptation is very tricky. I know you already knew that. But, temptation dangles the thing we crave out in front, without showing us the hook that will catch in the back of our throat. There are a million different ways to run away from God and rebel against Him, bringing death--the spiritual kind-- every time.  But it sure feels good at the moment. This morning, when I was struggling along, and realizing this particular temptation could easil[...]

How I'm Blessing My Baby (Before I Know Their Name)

When I found out I was expecting a fourth child, (and even though we were planning and hoping for another little one) I still groaned. I groaned because I don't like having a big belly. I just don't like the way I look or feel, at all, with a big-o belly. A couple weeks went by, and every time I looked in the mirror, I felt disappointed. Disappointed in myself for never losing the weight from the second kiddo. And somehow I let that disappointment turn into regret for this new life. There's something in our culture that seeps into our thought process, without us being aware that it's happening. It's this notion that children are an inconvenience. An unwanted burden. It pervades our society and even when we don't want to buy into it, even when we know better, somehow we still l[...]

Dear Tired, Wandering Heart

Dear tired, wandering heart, Jesus is your Refuge. When you wake up in the night, with the weight of the world on your chest, you can make your way to Him. He's not too far. When you've sinned, again, and your heart condemns you, you can make your way to Jesus. He isn't crossing His arms and scowling at you. He's waiting for you to come running. When you're confused about some things, and you need answers or direction, you can make your way to Jesus. In Him, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge can be found. Whatever your day demands of you, Jesus is your Strength. When your knees are wobbly, He'll help you to stand. Whatever troubles are just up ahead, Jesus is already there. Remember how He got you through those last turbulent waters and He kept you from sinkin[...]

What All The Green and Growing Things Are Really Saying

The other day, I slid open the glass door, stared out into the backyard and cried a little. I cried because the winter had felt long and cold and bleak but it was clearly over now and I was overcome by all the green and growing things. I was overcome by a God who could wake sleeping things back up again. And make seemingly dead things burst back to life. I'm daily moved by a Kingdom that is full of light. And love. And vibrant life. Our days here can be awfully hard. We've got these pestering fears. Our hearts fracture. Our hopes get trampled on. There are difficult relationships to work through. Questions that we don't have answers for. And sometimes we're moving along just fine, and then someone else interjects their fears and we feel like we should just go ahead and be sc[...]

How to Feel (And Give) Jesus' Love

You know the way I feel most loved by Jesus? It's through people. I mean, I know Jesus loves me. I feel it when I'm reading His Word. And when I'm looking at the sky. Or a wildflower. Or a tree frog clinging to my kitchen window late at night. But, when I'm with people, and we're all laughing by a fire, or praying together, or telling each other about our day or some random thing that happened--that's when I most feel profoundly loved by Jesus.   Now, I'm not necessarily fully aware of it in the moment. But, later, when I'm by myself or awake in the night, I remember what it was like to be with those people that I loved and that loved me and that's when I sense Him most. I feel Jesus. As if, He was standing right there with me all along and I could see the fi[...]

When You Just Need Time to Heal

Today it rains. The yard is undergoing this slow and steady transformation from its sleepy subdued self, to its verdant green, waking up, alive self. We’ve been sick but we’re all better now. The stomach bug took every last one of us out. At one point, I was laying on a sleeping bag in the yard, watching the kids play when I realized that all you can do with sickness is get better. You can’t worry about the laundry. Or dishes. Or muster up enough energy to clean all the messes up. You just have to be okay with making messes and sitting still and listening to the life around you until you heal. I told God that it was funny how much I must get my worth and value from all my “doing.” Because when I couldn’t do anything, I found it necessary to have these chats with myself that th[...]

Questions for My Birth Mom (And What To Do With Our Hard Things)

There are a hundred things I want to tell you these days. But, it’s hard for me to get my fanny over here to this quiet place to scribble it down for you. Because I figure out what I want to tell you when I’m driving down the highway, or when I’m taking a shower, or mopping the floor or standing in the check-out line. And how do I save it up and tell it to you later? Sometimes words have a way of flying away. Or they’re just not at all sufficient. Some things I want to tell you aren’t words at all. They are feelings. They are colors. They are memories full of meaning. They are deep, deep things that are hard for me to reach up and take hold of and pin them down. But, I’ll try it anyways. Because it’s worth it. Because you’re over there, doing your life. You’re running to the store. [...]

How My Daddy Helped Me With My Writing Life

When I was just a girl, oh around the fourth grade, I believe, I came home one afternoon with a school project. The assignment was to build a bird’s nest, as best as we could and bring it into class to be assessed as to whether or not our nest-making abilities were as good as the bird’s. When I got off the school bus and mentioned it to my Mom, she suggested that I ask my Pa to help me with it, since he was the artist. My Dad was always a hard-working mechanic man, and a day or two later, he walked out to the front yard with his greasy hands and his blue work shirt and we set out together, looking for twigs and leaves and a few strands of bendable brown grass. My Pa told me how the birds often like to gather bits of hair or fibers, something soft to line the inside of their nests wi[...]

When It's Hard to See the Way Before You

Child, lift up your head. Raise your eyes up to the hills and look to the horizon. There’s new light breaking in. Hold it there, in your gaze. Let it warm your face. You’ve got these eyes that can see by faith, the unseen. Everything that can be touched and held is perishing but there are things that keep breathing and remain. Truth. Hope. Peace. Love. I’ve seen the way you struggle here, like a child in the long black night, crying out for momma. Holy Spirit, draw us close. Teach us a song to sing. Open your faith-eyes, my love. Let your eyes adjust to the light. Some distance from here, there’s an ocean, deep, and waves that can’t stop pounding on the shore. Those swells grab hold of shells and glass and little bits of coral, then tumble them around until all the edg[...]

What Love Is (Because the World Is Tricky)

Today I walked into church, late as usual and scooted into the seat next to my friend. Everyone was singing and she had her eyes closed but I could see that she was crying. "What's the matter?" I whispered as I put my arm around her. "It's Valentine's Day," she shook her head and then she cried some more because she really wants a man, particularly a man who loves Jesus, but she hasn't found one. Yet. "Oh, yeah." I nodded. "It's such a crappy day."  We both agreed. And then I got mad at whoever made up Valentine's Day. Why did they have to go and do that? My momma told me back in my single days that Valentine's Day was mostly a big marketing scheme. The stores hype it up because they can make a lot of money off of cards and chocolate. I think she was trying to make me feel better[...]

When You Feel the Weight of Things (And How to Feel the Love of God)

Some days I wake up and feel the weight of the aching world upon this little chest of mine. I don’t even know where all the angst is coming from. Is it really that bad, or do I just need some breakfast? My children need a hundred things from me. How did they become so awake in just five minutes and need all these things? Someone starts to scream. Someone’s kicking someone. Someone just stole someone else’s chocolate milk. Someone says they are NOT going to the library with the rest of us today. Someone's hiding in the closet. That sounds like a good idea to me. I sigh. I need a hundred things from God. Like hope, comfort, energy for these little ones, and a protein breakfast, just to name a few. Mostly I just want to be held. Is that too much to ask from the Maker of the[...]

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