Friday, December 6, 2013

(Not So) Strange

A friend sent me these two texts a few weeks ago.

"Strange isn’t it? Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" – Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Todd could've played the part of George Bailey beautifully!! Such a generous man!
I sat with her words…and then I cried. The tears were all mixed up, love and grief, sweet and bitter…mostly thanksgiving for what Todd shared of himself, but of course there is still so much tenderness there.  I asked God to remind me of some of the times I got really mad at Todd, so I wouldn’t miss him so much. (Didn’t work, but it made me laugh to think it might.) 
She quickly apologized when I told her I had cried that night-- but I didn’t want her to apologize.  I agreed with her words.  I told her it would be much worse if no one ever remembered him.  I need my friends—our friends—to remember him to (with) me.  I need to cry about the good (sharing  life), the hard (sharing  life) and the bad (the loss) from time to time.  It’s cathartic.  I hope it always will be.  Strange, isn’t it?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Super (stinky) Powers

This conversation took place in my kitchen last week.
Luke to his buddy Sam:
"Would you rather fly when you fart or go invisible when you burp?" I was cooking and trying hard to look uninterested and NOT burst out laughing.  After all, this was not said to me...there was no intended audience...just two boys discussing the big issues of life.  A somewhat serious discussion followed which included the statement, "Well, I would really like to fly, but I burp a lot more than I fart so I could go invisible a lot more."

Every time I recounted this story last week, I would start laughing--tears streaming--before I could even get the first words out.  God made boy children to add laughter to all creation. I just know it. ;-)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Greaaaat Day!

Well, I got my first "hater" comment the other least it is the first one I've read.  There may be more, but I just missed them ;-)   Anyway...It did make me reflect on a few things...but probably not in the way this person intended.

Jump (in thought)

Kids and I have been having a really relaxed summer.  It is almost time to get back to the grind of school and work.  I know those of you who work year round have absolutely no sympathy, so I won't ask for any!  It has really been nice though. 

Jump again

The beginning of the school year is always the reminder.  It is so hard to believe it has been almost 4 years.  A long time and a moment ago all in one.  I have no idea what I am supposed to have learned these past 4 years.  I do know we have two choices:  move forward in our circumstances (toward joy) or die (living dead).  Some days we take a step backward, but mostly my kids and I are moving forward--not because we always feel like it--but because Todd would want us to.  Even more,  I know God wants that.

I just had a happy, sweet memory come back to me.  A lot of days, we would stand in a tight circle and put all our hands in a pile in the center of us like we were some sports team and yell "Greaaaat Day!"  Todd started it probably because one or many of us had a bad attitude about something we were going to have to do or one of the kids was sad because he was leaving for work.  It was a reminder to put on a good assume you were going to have a great day.  It never failed to leave us with smiles on our faces and giggles in our hearts.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Giving Thanks Too

Again and again, I give thanks that my children have a wide and deep net of people who love them.  I am listening to them bicker (with each other) and laugh and play outside with one friend they have known since right after Luke was born.  This friend just told them if they didn't quit arguing she wasn't going to play the game anymore ;-)

It reminds me, once again, of the blessing of family and friends who love us in life-giving ways...who we can count on to bring out the best in us by encouraging the beautiful and not indulging the ugly.   

I am thankful that God holds me accountable in the same ways.  Although He can be quite tender with my stubbornness, He never shrinks from telling me what I need to hear when I am having a fit...or when I am hurting deeply.  Always speaking truth.  He does this to bring out the best in me, even if initially, I don't want to listen. 

He who ignores discipline despises himself,
but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
Proverbs 15:32

This next one makes me laugh because it says it like it is.  I am sorry to say I have "been there and done that" on more than one occasion.

...he who hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 12:2

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Giving Thanks

Today is Todd's birthday.  I give thanks for the man he was and the beauty and strength of him that is in my children and that I carry in my heart. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love and Loss

 I heard angel laghter again sounds just like little boys laughing and enjoying life together. I heard the sound of a boy's heart breaking too.  My little boy has sobbed himself to sleep because some of his dearest friends are moving--leaving in the morning. 

As they drove off tonight, big heaving sobs from my Luke as he waved goodbye, my heart settled into that in between place...between sorrow and joy.  This family has held our family these years since Todd died--picking up the slack many times in the beginning when I had  tasks to take care of that a little boy who just lost his dad shouldn't have to tag along for, and more recently when I have had to work at night.  Sleepovers with these 3 brothers and my son have been so full of laughter that my heart breaks along with Luke's as I think of tomorrow.  And their mom has been an angel in my life.  My heart is full to the brim with love, but so heavy with the heartache of loss.  I am thankful for the blessing of friendship. We miss them already.

Our prayers are with them as they travel to join their dad and grandmother who are suffering a great and sudden loss of their own. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Muchness Returning

I feel my "muchness" coming back...I think I must have lost it for a long while, just like Alice (in Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland).

Mad Hatter:[to Alice] You used to be much more..."muchier." You've lost your muchness. (Pointing to her heart.)

Later Alice has this to say as she steps up to her role of Jabborwocky slayer:

Alice: How's *this* for muchness?

I am glad I am getting my "muchness" back.  Todd--and many of you-- could have told me where I'd lost it, I am sure...but your "muchness" is just something you have to find for yourself.

For me, it definitely continues to be a process and not an instantaneous return. Somedays I am "muchier" than others...but I am trending in the right direction.  ;-)

Friday, March 15, 2013


PS22 NYC. 

Absolutely Beautiful! 

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Through the Valley, 2

Song of Solomon which I linked in the last post has ministered to my heart in ways I can't fully articulate.  I  listened to the melody for several weeks, and thought that was quite beautiful, but it wasn't until I really paid attention to the words that I was totally overtaken by it...crying (sometimes very hard)  almost every time I replayed it.  But the tears aren't sad and despairing ones. They are more a mixture of sorrow and trust, and they come because the words so accurately reflect my heart's cry and  my desire to know the Lover of my spirit and soul responds exactly as these words depict.  In some unexplainable way, I am so very encouraged every time I hear it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Through The Valleys

God's love for us never fails.  Even as the enemy of our soul rejoices as we walk through those dark valleys, the  Lover of our soul holds us til it is light.

Song of Solomon by Jesus Culture

Over the mountains, over the sea
Here You come running, my Lover to me

When I feel the cold of winter
In this cloak of sadness, I need You
Oh the evil things that shake me
All the words that break me I need You

Over the mountains, over the sea
Here You come running, my Lover to me

Do not hide me from Your presence
Pull me from these shadows, I need You
Beauty wrap Your arms around me
Sing Your song of courage, I need You

Over the mountains, over the sea
Here You come running, my Lover to me
Oh, through the valleys, through the dark of night
Here You come running, to hold me till it's light

I'll come running, I'll come running, I'll come running back to You

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I participated willingly in a new discipline this week...actually twice.  I started at a prompting I felt deep this is a discipline I have never embraced--ever.  I have done it before, but always with a bit of a bad attitude.  Anyway...I felt prompted for several days in a row...maybe even a period of weeks...before I succumbed to what, I believe, was Divine prompting. I am not going to share the specifics because I tend toward pride, and I think sharing details would open me up to patting myself on the back with "atta girl" and before you know it, I would be leaving God totally out of the equation.

So many people I love seem to be suffering greatly--particularly in relation to their children.  I have railed at God, off and on during the past months, about WHY is everything so difficult?   Why is there SO MUCH PAIN in this world in general, and in family relationships in particular?  My heart is so heavy as I think of all the families I know that are affected by extreme circumstances at this moment. 

As I mentioned, I began this discipline because I felt prompted,  and I thought it was a way to engage in prayer for one family in particular.  But what I didn't realize was how it would affect me.  I felt so close and loved by my Creator during the days I did this.  I was able to maintain a joyful interior, which, I am ashamed to say, has not been my norm lately.  But the amazing thing was that the very next day I had the first belly laugh I have had in 6 or 7 weeks.  I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.  I was actually laughing at myself (no surprise, huh?).  I have such a knack for putting my foot in my mouth.  Oh, I laughed and laughed and laughed.  I said something REALLY stupid, and thankfully there was someone there to call me on it.  I was trying to compliment someone who wasn't there, but it could easily have been interpreted as an insult to someone who was there.  A third person present recognized this and made a joke....and that is how it all started.  Two hours later I was still laughing.  Now you may not think much of that, but I haven't really laughed or even smiled deeply for quite some time.  It felt so good to let those flood gates down.  It wasn't until I thought about it the next day, that I connected the dots.  What a gift this was.  Thank you, God.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


The shirt I have on is just a few months shy of 30 years old.  It is a long sleeve t-shirt from the first spring formal I went to with Todd.  (You know, in college, you have to have a t-shirt for everything.)  My college roommate was visiting this weekend, and I put it on without thinking.  She burst out laughing when she saw it, saying "You still have that!?"  She is a friend of 30+ she remembers these things.    Can you believe I still have (and wear--around the house, of course) a 30 year-old shirt?  It just plain shocked me when she said that number.  30 years.  Wow.  30 years sounds so long, but to have lived it seems like almost a blink. 
30 years ago, Todd and I began dating on February 23.  Wow.  It has been 3 1/2 years since his death.  Those years seem long.  How can 30 have gone by so fast?

I met a new friend for coffee the other day.  Our friendship really only spans about 1 1/2 years, so I call that pretty new.  She seems like an old friend though.  Anyway...we were talking about friendships we have with people we rarely see.  Friendships where the connection is so deep that it stands separate from time.    You plop right down into them and they nourish you no matter how long it has been since you've seen them--no matter what life events have happened during the season of geographical and verbal awkwardness, just encouragement and nurturing. 

I was getting ready to end this post with some smarmy line about hoping your life was scandalously full of these kind of friendships, when I realized that these relationships always have a cost.  I know some who choose not to reach out and form new friendships because, to them, the cost is just not worth it.  You don't get to the  "deep connections separate from time" without experiencing life together.  Every life-long friend I have has seen me through bad times as well as good.  Honestly, I am kind of amazed I have any left after they had to walk with me after Todd's death.  But they stuck around, and  I am very thankful.  Currently there is pain and grief in large doses for many of these dear friends.  I am praying they know God holds them close (and will continue to hold them until it is light), and I am praying He will use me in their lives the same way He has used them in mine.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More than Enough

Good Morning.  Today I am reminded of the need to live in the present.  To invest my best energies toward what is happening now.  I am thankful for that reminder that came by way of a friend yesterday.  

I have also been reminded of the powerful privilege we have to pray for one another, and how God is able to speak to us through the prayers and encouragement of others.  I have been blessed as receiver of this gift all week. I honestly felt like I received radical heart surgery earlier this morning...radically changed for the better.  And this change is way beyond ANYTHING I am capable of doing for myself.  The beauty of it is that the heart transplant came as I was able to pour out my prayers, full of love, redemption, and peace for those on my heart.  Amazing how that works.   Amazing how He equips us to serve in ways we could never imagine.  Amazing how He loves us in our triumphs and our failures.  Amazing how He restores and refreshes our tattered and worn-out hearts...breathing His Life into our very beings. 

Last night, I was surrounded by sweet children as my kids' oldest friends were at the house (along with their mommas).  We gathered in a hand-held circle to pray for a particular family that is dear.  The kids voices at the end, blessedly singing the Doxology, were more beautiful than words can express...I am sure if you had been here, your heart would have thought so too.   "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him, all creatures here below.  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."  Amen.

And the glory of the Lord shone around them...
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2: 9, 13-14

I want more, because He is more than enough.  Regardless of circumstances. Regardless of how we "feel." Praying we all hold this truth closely in our hearts.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This Side

There has been a tragedy in the life of a dear friend...someone I love very much.  It is different being on this side. I want deperately to be able to share this load in a way that will help diminish the gutting pain which comes with heartbreak and uncertainty, but I know it really just can't be. All I can do is walk beside in companionship--praying, praying, praying--remembering the strength and comfort received from knowing people are holding you close in their hearts continually praying on your behalf, especially when you have no words for your own prayers. Also remembering that His Light can pierce even the darkest darkness when our eyes are swollen shut from weeping.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wise Words from Henri Nouwen

In this current season of my life, I am reminded that God wastes nothing.  A friend of mine recently sent this Henri Nouwen quote to me in an email.  I don't believe my wounds are still open and bleeding, so I am hoping I don't scare others away and that my wounds can become a gift to others. Praying you are able to let your open and bleeding wounds be lovingly tended...knowing this is painful but it is the way to healing.   Praying that those of you who have allowed your wounds to be tended are able to share this gift. 


Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.

When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.

To enter into solidarity with a suffering person does not mean that we have to talk with that person about our own suffering. Speaking about our own pain is seldom helpful for someone who is in pain. A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience. Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person’s attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.”

-Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, 1979.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Guess I missed posting this during is almost Epiphany now.  I love this music, so I will share this old post I never published.

For those of us who celebrate Advent--the season of waiting and preparation before Christmas--tomorrow will be the first Sunday of Advent.  In the Episcopal Church we do not sing traditional Christmas carols in church until Christmas Day (and after for the twelve days of the Christmas season).   However, 12 days for all these beautiful hymns is just not long enough for me, so

I found myself singing this morning--at the top of my voice--one of my fav-o-rites from my Murrah Singers days, "O Magnum Mysterium."  I decided I wanted to sing along with the choir, so I put on the album ;-)  Yes, I still have a copy, AND I still have a turntable.

Listening to "O Holy Night"  for the first time this year, I was moved to tears and to my knees.  What else can I do when faced with such love--that He would humble himself to become like us to show us the way? 

The season of Advent (time of preparation and waiting) begins Sunday.  I am praying I will slow down instead of speed up like the world says I should this time of year.  I am praying I will intentionally love and give my best to those I hold dear...and to those I don't.  I am praying that Christ's love will flourish in my heart--and that I can truly rest in the truth that "the joy of the LORD is my strength"

O Magnum Mysterium is a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Hide and Seek

I try never to publish a post while I am in the pit of despair. I don’t want to deny the struggle or pretend it doesn’t exist, but I never want to leave it there. It has been my experience that even the darkest times eventually come to an end…or at least a lessening. There have been seasons when the light flooded in without me even having the strength (or wisdom) to look for it, but there have been more times when I have very actively had to search…or really, it is the daily quest and time invested in this relationship with Christ that allows me to be found when I am lost. He calls me by name, and I recognize His voice (even though I am very stubborn and easily distracted). I wrote this post several weeks ago, but I was hesitant to post it until I was sure I really believed it myself, if you know what I mean.

There are just sometimes when I belligerently want to focus on all I’ve lost instead of having a thankful heart. I can usually feel the ungratefulness and despair building to a destructive wave of sorrow mixed with anger and bitterness. Almost like I am playing a crazy game of hide-and-seek (picture Jack Nicholson in The Shining)--where I am the hider and the enemy of my heart is the seeker. Usually I end up kicking and screaming (in fear, anger and alone-ness) as the mean and hate-filled seeker gets closer—which most certainly gives away my (not so) good hiding place. Just as I fear I am about to be discovered, I usually remember that I don’t have to do this alone. Honestly, why do I forget so easily? There is One who never leaves me to do battle alone, who is willing to fight for me and with me, and from whom I never need matter how badly I have behaved while I was hiding-and-seeking with the enemy. (And I can behave pretty badly.) The turning back to a heart attitude of thankfulness, praise and humility seems to be the first step. Of course, it is only the power of the Holy Spirit that makes this turn possible…it is totally beyond anything I can do. What a mystery.

Peacefulness, which so recently seemed out of reach, returns. I am reminded that Christ is the only good hiding place. And He continues to seek after me whenever I go off hiding elsewhere.

Isaiah 61:3
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,,
and the garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair

John 10:4
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Matthew 23:37
O Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Luke 15: 4-6
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.