Because Valentine’s? It’s Just a Day…

Valentine’s Day.

A day I’ve loved to hate.

A day I’ve loved to love.

But really?

It’s just a day.

There were the tortured years. Years I weighed my value on the scale of this Love-Day. This day that loved to remind me I was unlovable.

Very few places can rub your nose in the single-with-no-significant-other mud like the dirty, gray hallways of high school.

Every. where. you. look. Balloons and stuffed bears. Candy hearts and pink roses. Declarations of love at every other locker.

I hated every moment.

Right or wrong, as a teen, Valentine’s Day only served to remind me I was insignificant, invisible, and alone. And while none of those were actually true of me—I felt they were.

Even now, after decades of having my own Valentine, the 14th of February always comes with emotions that conflict and feelings that confuse.

There are so many lovely parts of this day for hearts. It’s a day that reminds us to cherish one another. There are also candlelit dinners and whispered words of passion. Not to mention love notes and chocolate and exquisite bouquets.

What’s not to love?

A lot.

Forgotten women. Teenagers with lonesome eyes. Overlooked children. Broken hearts. Unmet expectations. Feelings of worthlessness.

See what I mean?

Here’s the thing. Boycotting this day isn’t the answer. We should celebrate each other—our romances and our friendships.

I could be cliché and mention that the celebration should be all year long, but then I will also mention we’re human and apt to have days of grouchiness and lamentation.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I just hate the way it plays with our emotions—especially as women. We have a deep desire to feel beautiful, to be noticed.

But a day can’t define our worth, whether we have a lover or not.

That’s the lie I often allow my heart to hear.

When the truth is, only the Love borne through arms stretched across splintered wood can make me know, really know, I am worth more than rubies.

A day can’t tell me my soul was purchased by a heavenly King.

But the self-doubt struggle still exists. And February 14th only seems to point out my cracks with pin-point accuracy.

I remember my first V-day with Prince Charming. He, no-joke, earned extra cash by helping deliver arrangements for a florist during the peak season.

I lived in a sorority house where I watched bouquets of roses arrive all day, my sisters ooo’ing and ahh’ing over each one. Every time the doorbell rang, my heart skipped a beat. I hoped beyond hope my favorite delivery boy would arrive.

I waited all day.

And I may or may not have gotten a bit angry.

Where were my flowers?

When they finally arrived? I wasn’t disappointed. It was like a scene from a movie. I soaked in the squeals and giggles as I walked those gorgeous pale pink roses up the stairs.

Sweet Lord, I was in heaven.

I felt loved. I felt cherished. I felt valued. I felt important. I. I. I.

And there it is. The struggle of this day has always been because, well, I make it about…wait for it…

Me.

What if this day torments and frustrates because I tend to focus on what I get out of it? What if, instead, I use Valentine’s Day to focus on loving well?

Tomorrow is just another day. A day I can practice loving those inside my circle and out.

A note or two for colleagues. Candy for my students. Gifts for my Prince with no expectations in return. Coffee for a stranger. Words of encouragement.

Acts of kindness.

Changing how I see Valentine’s Day requires I pour my heart into others.

It doesn’t mean moments of loneliness won’t lurk and sadness won’t creep. It does mean, dear sisters, that we can fight back against the dark. We fight with the way we love.

So love deeply—not just tomorrow, but every day.

Because you are worthy. You are valuable. You are cherished. You are a treasure. And you have buckets of love to pour out and over a world humans desperate to know they’re worth loving, too.

Because real joy? The joy that wells from deep within? It doesn’t bubble and overflow from what I get.

But from what I give.

Posted in Joy, Love, Struggles | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dear Mom. I Get it Now…

In honor of my Momma’s birthday and her steadfast love.

I get it now.

I understand why you never had new clothes or pretty jewels. It makes sense that you didn’t have a fancy car or a passport full of stamps. I know why romantic trips with Dad rarely happened.

The homecoming dresses and sports lessons and youth trips and birthday parties and school clothes and winter jackets.

There wasn’t a nickel left to call your own.

I know why I may not have all the nice things. And I’m okay with that because you always were.

I learned sacrifice is easier when it means your kid looks for you when he shoots a basket. Did you see that, mom? I want you to see what I did.

When I wipe down the top of my refrigerator or remove table-top knick knacks to dust, I may still bemoan my existence. I may still hate cleaning above all other things. But now I know why you taught me to bleach a toilet and mop a floor early in my years.

Taking pride and care in my home comes with cleaning the messy and scrubbing the dirt. The drudgery has purpose and the effort has meaning—this care and keeping of the place our babies sleep.

Comet will always be my friend.

I get why you didn’t share your fears. You didn’t want them to be mine.

When Ella was just three and inhaled the scent of a well-loved book, I knew. When Caleb chose the library for our afternoon date, I knew.

I knew the reason you said that while there might be days I’m alone, I will never be lonely if I love to read. I understand why you carried bags of exhaustion and stories out from the library.

The love of knowledge is now my constant companion and teaching my own Ella and Caleb is my lofty goal.

I would get so angry. So mad for every.single.thing you made me rework or revise. My temper welled, as I removed a stitch or rewrote essays filled with mistakes.

Even now when I want to avoid striking a word or phrase from the thoughts I write and just hit submit. When revision is tiresome and tedious. When I just don’t want to give any more effort. Your words stand firm.

Any thing worth doing is worth doing right.

I use your words with my own two babes. Because excellence is worth the work and correction is a gift.

All the no’s despite my tantrums, my rants, my raves. All the firm boundaries I pressed against with sheer force of will. All the ways you kept the reigns tight. They protected me from myself—from the parts of me I didn’t yet know were there.

Those boundaries taught me I don’t always know what’s best, and I’m never entitled to my own way. Because life isn’t fair and the world doesn’t revolve around me.

There were battles I wanted you to fight in my stead. Wars I wanted you to win. Hard steps I wanted you to take for me. But instead?

You watched as I struggled and clashed. Why couldn’t you have just done the hard for me? Why couldn’t you save me from the bruising and scars?

I get it now.

And I’m grateful.

For while you didn’t fight my battles, you never left my side. You dressed me in armor even if you didn’t raise the sword. There are battles that we must fight on our own so we can be our most courageous selves—to be our best selves.

You knew that when I didn’t.

Now, I stand by my own two treasures handing them helmets and Truth. I never want to cripple them because they don’t know how to fight.

I get it now. The standing by? It yanks your heart out and beats it bloody on the muddy ground.

And sometimes the strongest, bravest step you can take is to just stand by.

Because strength is what we want to raise.

I get it now.

Strong is the only way to mother.

Strong is rising in the tender hours just before dawn to kneel down before the One who loves your children more than you ever could. It is praying the promises of scripture over the heads of the babes you bore. Strong is trusting in the plans Jesus has for your children and not in your own.

Strong is knowing you can’t mother alone. Strong is knowing we are weak.

Strong is acts of selflessness. Standing firm and standing by. Teaching and preaching even as exhaustion drips into your veins. Never giving up on the lives you birthed—even when they may bite with words that chew on pieces of your soul.

Strong is grace. It’s tenderness and compassion when the whining never ends. Knowing when to let go because your child refuses to learn from your mistakes. Unconditional love when it isn’t returned.

And never having a new pair of shoes.

Strong is the only way to mother.

I get it now.

Because strength mothered me, and I learned to mother from her.

My mom is a definition of strong.

I will learn from her the rest of my days.

Her children arise and call her blessed.
Proverbs 31:28

Posted in Beautiful Life, Motherhood | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gratitude is a Game-Changer

My Court Jester, my Caleb, loves his shoes. He is seven and spends his birthday and Christmas money on new kicks. The boy is particular—like over the top—about what shoes he wears with what socks and what outfit.

On the flip side, I missed the female shoe-love gene. I’m happy in my Birks or a pair of flip-flops. The last thing I want to shop for is a pair of shoes. But not my Caleb.

Shoes are his serious business.

So when my little man needs a consequence for behavior, he looses the privilege of picking out his shoes the next day. Strange, I know, but it’s effective.

A few nights ago he got in trouble and had to endure the consequence. I told him I was picking his kicks the next day.

Oh the horror! Oh the cataclysmic travesty! His life was over.

The alligator tears and sobs lasted for, well, let’s just say longer than they should. They lasted through the bed-time routine and halfway through the reading of Horton Hears a Who, where “a person’s a person no matter how small.” The irony was lost on my sobbing second grader.

Finally. He curled up next to me, took a deep breath, and shared his newest revelation.

Looking up at me from the corner of his eyes, he mumbled, “I have a terrible life. My parents make my life terrible.” With a half grin and a shaky breath, he pressed into my side, and I smothered him with hugs and kisses.

Yes. His life is just awful.

It didn’t matter he had a momma reading a book to him in a soft bed. It didn’t matter he was cozy and warm. It didn’t matter he had a fully belly or that he was surrounded by toys to play with and clothes to choose from.

My sweet boy only focused on what he lacked. And this focus dictated his perspective. And his perspective ruled his emotions.

Caleb is not alone.

I often join him in my grumpy, dramatic tantrums. I only got six hours of sleep. Ugh! I don’t have time to finish reading that book. There are too many essays to grade. How can we not have ice cream in this house? Is there ever a month when I can stop worrying about bills? Sick—again!? But I just bought pointe shoes three weeks ago. How can they be dead? Is there a night this week that I can just be home?

My list of complaints and whines and moaning can go on. And on. And on.

I’ve written about it here and here and here. Ann Voskamp symbolizes the very word. Scientists confirm it.

Gratitude changes our perspective.

An attitude of thanksgiving brings joy. When we focus on our gifts and our blessings, we are able to see our lives in a new way. We realize that maybe our lives aren’t so “terrible” after all.

There’s a miracle recorded four times in the Bible. In this miracle, Jesus uses five small barley loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of over 5,000. Tucked away in this story is a truth I have only just seen thanks to this podcast by Steven Furtick.

John 6:11 states, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”

Do you see it? Jesus gave thanks over the scarcity.

Facing a crowd of thousands, Jesus and the disciples only had the small portion of bread and fish.

Yet.

Jesus was grateful for even that tiny offering.

He gave thanks over the scarcity—the miracle occurred in the scarcity. Had there been no need, a miracle would not have been necessary.

When last did I show gratitude over our family’s financial struggles because those struggles give me an opportunity to trust God more?

When last did I thank God for such a little time left in my day because my hours were filled with the care and keeping of my family and my students—an honor and a privilege?

When last did I thank God for stacks of laundry waiting to be folded because I had laundry to fold?

My perspective changes when I view my life in terms of what I do have instead of what I don’t. On the days my anxiety rises and I stomp angrily through the hours, I need to ask myself where my focus has been. Those moments when my frustration reaches the pinnacle, what peak am I viewing my life from?

Having a perspective of giving my God gratitude changes everything.

Thanksgiving is a day-changer, a game-changer, a life-changer.

And today? This week? I was desperate for the reminder.

Because I have so much to be thankful for…

Posted in Beautiful Life, Gratitude, Joy, Struggles | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Tis the Season for Crazy

Last night my husband and I sent the Court Jester to Family Reading Night at school.

Without his family.

Prince Charming was helping with our church Christmas program, and Princess Ella rushed through two different rehearsals. Where was I? Starbucks. At a meeting. What was I doing while I was meeting? Sewing pointe shoes.

At least I was surrounded by women I love, and there was coffee.

Did I mention my son went to a family night without his family?

Yeah. The mom guilt was thicker than my grandmother’s fruitcake. Even though my meeting was for my daughter’s ballet school and I was sewing her ballet shoes, the Court Jester still got lost in last night’s seasonal shuffle.

‘Tis the Season for Crazy.

We all know it. We all experience it. We all attempt to stop it.

This week, I’ve lived through four late nights, three long meetings, two stacks of essays, and a partridge in a pear tree. My crazy is normal.

After leaving my meeting last night, I walked to the car, pulled the handle, and opened the door. It wasn’t until I was half-way in that I realized the car wasn’t mine. Yeah. I’m that woman this time of year.

Or maybe I’m that woman all year.

Ella will turn 14 in less than a month. This morning? That sweet child of mine continued to give me grief for not having an Elf on the Shelf when she was younger. The Court Jester continues to talk about Snowflake, his classroom Elf.

Caleb – Why can’t we have one, mom? Because he freaks me out. Who wants a creepy Elf staring at them all day?

Ella – Well, when I have kids, I’m doing Elf on the Shelf for them. That’s fantastic darling. You’ll do an amazing job, and your children will be the luckiest in the world. (unlike you, apparently…)

I told Ella I was just making sure she would get her money’s worth as an adult when she has to seek counseling for all the ways we screwed up her childhood.

(Side-note: I’m not anti-Shelf-Elf for any other house—just mine. Only because I couldn’t possibly keep up with moving an elf every night when it’s evident I can’t recognize my own car.)

Every Christmas I race into the madness and promise myself I won’t do it again.

Then I break my promise.

Year. After year.

I want the slow and the nights of hot cocoa while drinking in the lights adorning our tree. But slow is not the reality in this season of my life. I have a teenager and a seven year old. I’m a teacher with mountains of papers to grade. I’m in love with a man whose responsibilities equal my own. Slow isn’t really an option.

Sure, there is the busy of my life I can control—and I do. I have learned to say no. (Halleluiah. Amen.)

Still, there is the busy of my life I can’t control.

The slowing and breathing in of Christmas is beautiful. I’ve written about it every year. I crave the quiet moments of the season when I draw my children near, and we whisper of the newborn King.

But this year? I’ve realized that just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I can’t embrace this magical time.

Because Christmas is woven into the very fabric of my life.

And my life? It’s messy. It’s crazy. It’s chaotic.

It’s also beautiful.

Christmas exists with or without my crazy. One might even say Christ was born because of my crazy, because of my broken. The more hectic my life gets, the more I need my Savior—my Emmanuel—my God with me.

The meaning of Christ’s birth is threaded into my soul—knitted together with all I do and all I am.

Christmas resonates in the middle of my frenzy. There will be scattered moments of stillness, but mostly I will be keeping pace with the hustle and bustle. In the midst, Christmas will be there. It’s always there. Because the Joy of this season is the Gift lying in a manger sent because my Creator loved this world with all He had.

My Christmas may be a bit crazy, but the true beauty of this season isn’t lost.

Rather, I need it more.

So I choose to see, even when life won’t slow.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Christmas, Joy | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let My Words Be Few…

Friends…God never promises easy. And there have been times when the fear of losing my dreams has been so real, I can smell the acrid smoke and ash as flames destroy the path I was walking.

But I’m learning. The hardest times? They’re my invitation to trust. To trust in a Jesus who wants my best.

Today, I am honored and down right blown away by the invitation to be a guest on my friend Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation. Join me there?

I can’t remember a time when my pencil didn’t scratch across paper or my fingers didn’t tap, tap, tap on a keyboard.

Writing is part of the air that fills my lungs and allows me to breathe. Crafting sentences into ideas is the way I express my most authentic self. I’m sure you can relate.

So what happens when God whispers, stop? 

To continue reading, please click here: The Write Conversation

Posted in Struggles | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

She Did What She Could…

I watched as the Keurig drip, drip, dripped the bitter liquid into my mug. Energy to get me through the next two periods.

Desperate measures were needed. Okay…maybe not so desperate and not so out-of-the-ordinary. But still. Even after grading hours over Thanksgiving break, I still have two stacks of essays and five classes of journals to go.

As coffee brewed I lamented to one of my dearest colleagues. The one who teaches me daily of grace and kindness.

“She did what she could,” my friend whispered.

I nodded and agreed. It’s all we can do, right?

Then she stopped me in my tracks. “It’s one of my favorite scriptures. I have it circled. On days like today, I tell myself over and over—she did what she could.”

Wait. How have I missed these soul-saving words? These words of healing balm for the anxiety-ridden heart.

Where? What story?

“It’s when Mary anoints Jesus with perfume.” My grace-giving friend smiled, and we headed to our classrooms.

But all day long, the phrase she spoke circled in and out of my thoughts.

She did what she could.

The story in scripture is beautiful. Mary ventures into a crowded room with a bottle of expensive perfume. Not just any bottle, but one of great value. Alabaster.

To the shock and disdain of those around, Mary broke the bottle and poured the lavish perfume over Jesus.

His words stopped the rebukes that fell heavy on her shoulders. “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”

While her actions may seem strange to us, in the custom of Jewish burial, a body was rubbed with oils and perfumes. What Mary could not have known was the crucifixion of Christ was to take place only days later.

Her offering—a sacrifice of immense value—ministered to the Creator of heaven and earth.

But did you hear His words?

It wasn’t the value of her gift. Jesus’ response was that Mary did what she could. It was her complete surrender. For Him, that was enough.

For us? His words are freedom.

Even thought I need constant reminding, I’m free from the chains of anxiety. Anxiety that has been thick these last few weeks. Anxiety that has chased close, yapping and barking—telling me I will never get it all done, that I’m a failure.

My task list keeps growing. Midterms peak their evil heads around the corner. Countless errands and chores around my home add to the weariness. The Christmas season intensifies my pounding heart. And I’m fraying in all the wrong places.

But.

If I live with my Jesus in mind, if I work to serve His purpose, and if I do what I can, then it is enough. Because, friends, Jesus makes it enough.

It wasn’t Mary’s offering that was enough. It was that Jesus made it so because He saw her heart—a heart of sacrifice. She selflessly did all she could when she broke the jar and poured out what she had.

The same is true for us. When we give Jesus our all, He will make it enough.

She did what she could.

Allow those words to sink into the depths of your tired soul.

Do what you can.

And then rest.

Because truly? I can never be enough for anyone. Nothing I do will ever make me a perfect wife. I could move mountains for my children and they will still require more. I could work 80-hour weeks and never be everything my students need.

I am never enough.

But I can do all I can.

Jesus whispers that my offering is plenty.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Relationship with God, Struggles | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Bedtime Chaos and Some Thanksliving…

I’m sitting in the dark with my Court Jester scooted as far away from me as possible. I’ve told him no to a request, and his world has crumbled into dust.

He blames me for his own catastrophic Armageddon.

I want Daddy to put me to bed. I want Daddy to put me to bed. Over and over again from his grumbling mouth tucked beneath blankets.

He’s even put a pillow between us. Muffled and angry. Huffs of frustration and hot tears. He hasn’t gotten his way.

I’m standing my ground.

Sort of…

Does ignoring him count? I feel like I could write my own Thanksgiving version of Twas the Night Before Turkey Day…

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring. Oh wait. Can’t do that because my very own Caleb-turkey is thrashing and rolling, which definitely moves us past stirring.

Peaking over my shoulder, Caleb just asked if I put indentions in my paragraphs. (um, no?)..He’s reading my words, smiling, and snuggling close.

Just like that, the show’s over.

But even in the chaos of bed-time or the freaking out because the real turkey is still stone-cold frozen or the midnight run you make to Walmart for that one. last. thing–even in those moments, Thanksgiving is possible.

The Court Jester is now silent. His body still, and his breathing slow. The deep breath I’ve waited for all day comes.

This is the thanksliving.

Living and breathing thanks despite our frustrations, our tears, our tantrums. Because beauty surrounds when we look close.

Daily graces peek through covers and shine light into our dark nights. Gratitude for those moments shifts our eyes heavenward. Focusing our vision on the God Who Sees us in the midst of our hard, in the midst of our painful.

Learning to live out our thanks in those moments?

Joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. Joy in the midst.

And Thanksgiving comes alive. It’s no longer about a day–but about our living, breathing existence.

So this Thanksgiving I pray morning wakes fresh with gratitude in your hearts for even the smallest graces and moments of brilliant light.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. Shall we journey to walk with thanksliving together?

 

Posted in Beautiful Life, Gratitude, Motherhood | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When I Wish for a Different Life

Lately? I’ve been feeling harried and haggard. Frayed at the edges and rushed in the middle. Because life is ballet mom, flag football mom, wife, teacher, migraine sufferer, committee member, writer, all the other things and somewhere in there—me.

Have I mentioned lately I have ADHD? Because that’s a thing too.

Last week Prince Charming came in the door the same moment the ballerina and I were leaving. Hello. Good-bye.

You’re picking up dinner, I called through my car window.

I wasn’t cooking. I had decided.

I know you understand…you’ve been there too.

After I dropping my girl off at Nutcracker rehearsals, I headed to my favorite coffee shop. (I’m a cliché…) With computer and books in hand I knew I had several hours of lesson prep ahead.

A sweet friend I hadn’t seen in ages stood in front of me at the cash register where I soothed my ache with carbs and sugar. We said hello, and she had the pleasure, rather misfortune, of asking how I was and getting an honest response.

Basically? I spewed words of stress, anxiety, and angst her way. Bless her heart for standing there with a smile on her face as I huffed and puffed about wanting to be just a mom. About how I was desperate to have my children in school while I didn’t work. That way I could have a clean house and a home cooked meal instead of gross toilets and 1,000 frozen pizzas.

I know I live in Lala Land, and it doesn’t work out that way—but still.

Yesterday? I walked in the door at 4:30, began grading at 4:45, and didn’t stop until 10:00 last night except to eat a dinner that, yet again, I had no role in creating.

And then? As I got up from dinner to go grade some more? My Court Jester wrapped his arms around me and broke my heart into pieces.

Why do you have to be a teacher? I wish you were just a home-mom. Then you wouldn’t have to grade papers and could spend more time with me.

Yep. His words exactly. I know because they burned a hole into my innermost being.

I’ll take five heaping helpings of mom-guilt please…

And if you’ve managed to read this far before thinking, “What does she have to complain about? She has a great family, a steady job, and no real worries in the world,” then kudos.

Because you’re right. I love teaching. My family is precious. I know I shouldn’t whine.

The self-reproach weighs heavy as I complain about a life that’s pretty dad-gum great. But maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe your crazy-busy life is beautiful, but maybe there are days and weeks you feel like if someone pulled one more thread from your delicate balance, you’d unravel into a tangled mess. A mess no one can fix.

Contentment is hard to get right.

Most days I get it wrong.

Because most days? I want to be a home-mom. I don’t want to grade until my eyes are bloodshot and so dry my contacts have glued themselves to my corneas.

Most days I’m desperate for a home that is clean more than once every six weeks or so.

Most days I want to cook a meal for my family that doesn’t involve a microwave or a box-mix of anything.

Most days I want to be the mom that doesn’t have to miss field trips and special events.

Stay-at-home moms have crazy, insane lives, too. I know because I was home when Ella-girl was young.

But I’m not home now.

Don’t hear me wrong. My life’s not harder because I work full time. Nope. That’s not it at all.

My real problem?

I want what I can’t have.

There stands the struggle. The envy and the dissatisfaction. Discontentment has a staring contest with my emotions, and I blink first.

When I focus on what my life isn’t, I lose sight of what my life is.

When I get contentment wrong, it’s because I haven’t gotten gratitude right.

And there is the miracle in this mess. The miracle of this life is communing with the Father,and turning a heart of dissatisfaction to one of Thanksgiving. Living with contented heart means living a life of constant gratitude.

Gratitude for surprise cups of coffee given by the student as I walk into the school. Gratitude for the Godiva truffle a student shares because it was her favorite, and she wanted me to love it, too. Gratitude for my babes who jump in the car with me at 9:00 pm and head to the park so I can take pictures of the harvest moon. Gratitude for my Love who picks up my slack without complaint. Gratitude for the music that softly plays in the background as I write from a plush chair with the gentle glow of the lamp nearby.

Can I still struggle with the hard days? Days I want to crawl into bed and sink into the shadows? Without doubt. Because there are some days when we are overwhelmed by the tragedy taking place in our own corners of the world.

But.

The more gratitude swells, the higher the tide comes in to wash away the discontented sand that scratches and sticks to my skin.

Maybe. Just maybe…contentment isn’t so hard after all.

Posted in Gratitude, Motherhood, Struggles, Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

When My Words Are Insignificant

What do you write when you’ve held your babies as the wind howled and windows creaked and branches flew and trees fell? What do you write as you watch the videos of boats saving souls in places water rose to rooftops?

What do you write?

What words do you use when a monstrosity like Maria bites down on islands, ripping and tearing and gnashing homes as mamas hold their babies with fear I can’t comprehend? What words do you use when humanity digs through rubble because the Richter scale registered 7.1?

Are there words?

I’m not sure.

My thoughts are scattered. My burden is heavy. My prayers are constant.

How does one make sense of a world suffering?

I don’t want to tell you I’ve been anxious. I don’t want to tell you I’ve stomped my feet and fussed about the inconvenience of living away from home for eight days while waiting for power. I don’t want to tell you I’ve asked God why.

Instead? I want to hide in my hole and ignore the emotions racing skid marks on my mind.

Because I have been anxious.

Because I have stomped my whiny, first-world foot in an air-conditioned home complaining that my routine had been interrupted.

Because I have asked God why. Why the One in control of the winds and the rains allows Harveys and Irmas and Marias and earthquakes and catastrophes.

I wish I had answers that relieved every. single. doubt.

I could give you my seminary-trained, theological answers. Answers I know to be true. I could say all the right things—things I believe. Things like “there is a purpose and a reason for everything under heaven.” Or words like “rainbows always follow the storm.” Or answers like “God works all things together for our good” and “God’s ways are not our ways.”

And I believe those truths. I trust God. I know He is good. I know He loves us unconditionally.

But I don’t understand Him. And I struggle to keep from shaking my frustrated fist of whys in His direction.

So tonight? When my words are insignificant and full of whys?

I step into the truths I know.

I know God is big enough for my questions. Better that I run to His arms with my anger and whys than stew in my own anxiety-ridden confusion.

I know I can hold faith and questions in the same hand. Because He is God. I am not. I will always have questions. But I will also trust the One who stretched blood-stained arms across splintered wood for me. For you.

I know pain and tragedy and brokenness can bring beauty. Our fractures always allow His light to shine in the dark places.

I know it takes immense strength to trust what cannot be fully understood. But better to trust than live without the hope Jesus brings.

I know that even in the doubt and fear, I can be the hands and feet of help and support. Courage is action in spite of fear.

I know that bending low in prayer brings peace—even if I have to bow my head again and again and again. And again.

I know this world is not my home.

I know Hope because Jesus loves me this I know.

And so tonight? As the bitter cries of humanity ring in our ears and the aching groans of earth are felt deep, that Hope will be enough.

Even with my questions.

Posted in Hope, Relationship with God, World Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fighting for Prince Charming

IMG_6560I can change a tire. I know how to check my oil, washer fluid, and radiator. I can jump off my car and change the battery.

I spent one week of my summer as a college student reroofing a house. With a hammer—not a nail gun because that would have been too easy. I can refinish furniture, and I know how to use a table saw. Laying tile? No problem.

If I could work in my yard every day and never have to dust another lamp or clean another toilet, I’d be a happy girl. I secretly envy those who work with their hands creating, building, landscaping, fixing.

You know. All the “man-things.” Or so the stereotypes say…

I’ve lived alone before. Did my own shopping, paid my own bills, hung my own pictures, installed my own shelves, fixed my own holes in walls.

I’ve been known to hack the heck out of a snake and power washing is just fun.

My point?

I’m not a damsel in distress. I can take care of myself.

I know a little something about being a woman in a man’s world. The first seminary class I walked into was with shaking knees and a churning stomach causing me to gulp down the nerves and raise my chin up.

Only one other female student floated in the sea of testosterone. And that ratio continued through most of my studies.

I never forgot the night class, when coming in after break, I overheard a classmate say he could never learn anything from me. That I could never teach him anything.

Well. Okay then.

I guess he couldn’t teach me anything either. Except maybe patience…And I certainly didn’t need him in my life.

But I still need my Prince Charming—my Knight in Shining Armor.

My daughter and I live in a world full of mixed signals. We don’t “need a man,” except when we do. And a woman can do anything a man can do, except when she can’t.

Independence is vital for a young woman today and teaching her to stand on her own two feet is essential. But just because she can stand alone all her live-long days, doesn’t mean she must.

Because if I’m being honest, I’m usually in need of rescuing. And knowing there’s a hero willing to fight for me is calming. Even if I’m doing my part in kicking some villain butt instead of cowering in a corner.

Yeah. There are men out there who aren’t a gallant anything.

Men interested in collecting not saving. Men looking for trophies and conquests. These are the men who hoard women under their wings of protection. Men who aren’t interested in kindness or saving or generosity or grace—but only interested in power, only rescuing to control.

These men? They know nothing of Prince Charming or the Princess. And women never need their kind of rescue.

But what if you want and need the rescue of a true protector—one who honors and cherishes and loves, one who’s ready to storm the castle wielding his sword and shield? Is that okay in today’s society?

Here is what I know. After 19 years of being married to a prince among men, I’ve decided it’s okay to want the rescue. To desire the man who protects, shelters, shields.

It’s okay to want the gentleman. The one who opens the doors for me, gives me the umbrella going without, fills my car with gas, and lifts the heavy furniture.

I want the man who wants to protect me from myself.

I want my valiant knight.

I want to teach my son, Caleb, to be a prince too.

And I don’t believe I’m weak-minded for saying so.

Because really? We’re all in need of rescuing. There’s not one human who doesn’t need someone to climb the highest peak or swim the deepest ocean to save us from ourselves. Humans aren’t made to go at life alone.

I’m not saying a woman must have a man to live a fulfilled, amazing life. That is not my heart. But we do need community.

Sisters, it’s okay to want the rescue.

It’s okay to yearn for your own fairy tale that colors different from Disney in hues of truth and a spectrum of stained glass beauty.

Because being the Princess worth climbing the tower for? Worth risking everything for?

It’s a healing balm for the sore muscles and bruises we bear from fighting alone.

And while my own Prince Charming is a most gallant knight, he’s only a reflection of the One who rescues my soul. The One who heals my most broken places and deepest wounds. The One with a battle cry more fierce than a legion of evil beings.

Knowing I can’t fight my earthly battles alone, opens my heart for the Savior of my soul.

So I will fight for Prince Charming.

Because being rescued is a gift.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Love, Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments