Category Archives: Faith

Pausing

This morning I’m pausing to say thank you.   I wonder how many times I’ve driven past sunsets I didn’t watch or sat in the car looking my phone and ignored the gifts He gives just because I didn’t take the time to pay attention.

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Vacation has a way of making me slow down to look around.   This photo certainly displays the beauty of what God created.   Look at those colors.

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My kids make me slow down.   My daughter picked these on a walk around our neighboorhood from a bush in an empty lot.  Sweet.

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Difficulties can slow me down.  Sometimes in a good way.

One of my former co-workers walked into my office yesterday and handed me this note and a donation.    It made me think about the fact that our lives entertwine with others.  I haven’t seen her in a long time.  And yet, when she heard about the arson at our church this week she acted and gave encouragement and grace.      Made me cry.  It also made me want to pause and touch other people in their pain.   Made me grateful.

How about you?   What causes you to pause and notice?   What makes you grateful?

 

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Filed under Faith, Family, Travel

Whatcha lookin’ at?

I have a character flaw.  Well, I have lots actually but I have one that I have accepted.   I don’t excercise unless I have a deadline staring me down. 

I understand that excercise is good for me.  In fact, two massive studies were released this week which indicate that excercise can even prevent cancer. (Read here).    I know I feel better, look better, have more energy and properly inspire my kids when I’m modeling good excercise habits.  

You’d think that would be enough to get me moving.   But no.   Only thing that works is to sign up for some crazy event and then blog about it.    It’s the fear of total humiliation that gets me out of bed and off the couch.  

Maybe the health benefits are what make me actually sign up for the crazy event knowing it’ll force my hand.   Or my feet. 

Whatever.  I signed up this year to do the Portland to Coast. I’ve done it a couple times before. (Read here).  But this time we decided to pair the team down to 8 people which means we are all doing three turns and we don’t stop to sleep.   Crazy. 

Worst part it’s in three months and I didn’t move at all in the last six months.  

So tonight to officially kick off training my eldest and I went for a brisk mile and a half walk. I’m lying. It was slow. We took photos.


California Lilac.  I have these in my yard as well.   They grow. Fast.  The ten year old likes to pull s branch back and let go. It rains purple fluff. 


This is why I love living in the Pacific Northwest.  Those big beautiful trees. 


How fun is this?!  Go Clark County Rotaty.  I may have to go donate some copies of books I want my neighbors to read.  


Anyone know what this is named?   We want one in our yard. So cheerful. 


Prickly weed. 

We also saw a wild naked two year old running down the street.  We paused at a safe distance to make sure his parents noticed he was outside naked before we continued on.  

My point here is that on our walk we saw beauty and ugly and crazy and fun.  We got to choose what we focused on.    Some people only focus on the weeds.   They lose a lot on the walk. 

And perhaps this summer I’ll try focusing on the benefits of training rather than just thinking about avoiding embarrassment.   How about you?  Whatcha lookin’ at? 

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T-shirt Preaching

My daughter is listening. 

We spend a lot of time at home and at church and in conversations in the car talking about Jesus.   We also talk about Star Wars and the Seahawks and Beanie Babies and track and why socks disappear in the laundry.   But Jesus typically shows up in conversation daily.  We talk about how He loves us.   About how He wants us to love Him. We talk about how our job in this world is to shine and love and pray and care.  To be present in people’s pain.  We talk about how it is not our job to post a list of rules.   We talk about how shame and guilt are not our job or our burden.   That God is big enough to worry about other people’s junk. That loving Jesus and loving others is enough.  We talk a lot.
So I should not be shocked that my daughter is growing into a lovely human being who loves Jesus.   I am overwhelmed with gratitude that she’s learning about grace and love.   But last night I had a bit of a panic attack.

Last night my ten year old informed me that she was going to tell her friends at school about Jesus.  I gulped.  She discussed the options open for evangelism in fourth grade.  Her ideas included handing out notes, invitations to VBS, starting conversations and t-shirts.   And she decided that today she would start by wearing a t-shirt with a bible verse on it.   The back has an amazing promise.


So why am I scared?  Because she had decided to share her faith with friends?   I should be happy.   But I’m confessing to you that I’m scared. I’m worried she’ll get it wrong and the other kids will feel she’s too preachy.   I’m scared that she’ll be overheard by a teacher and told to shush.   I’m scared that I’m going to get an email or a text or a Facebook message from another parent telling us to keep our nosy religious opinions to ourselves.  I’m scared that some kid is going to laugh and bully and bruise my fledgling missionary.  I’m scared that she’ll carry the stigma of a goody two shoes and somewhere in high school we’ll be sitting with her crying because she doesn’t have a date to prom because in fourth grade she decided to be brave and tell people that Jesus loves them.   

See.  Scared.  And also disgusted with myself.  Those Bible verses about how if we deny Christ to people he won’t claim us with the Father are running through my head.  And the verses about rejoicing if people hate you or ridicule you are not providing any comfort.   Truly a proud, conflicted, scared, disgusted mess.

That was last night.   This morning my kiddo put on her shirt.  


And the Bible story Mark 9:23-24  Ran through my head.   You know the story? The desperate dad takes his child to Jesus.   And Jesus tells him his son can get help if only the dad will believe.  

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

That mirrors my soul.

You see my Jesus gets that I’m a mess.   He understands I can’t do it alone.  And He accepts my pitiful prayer of “I believe….help me with my unbelief.”   Both in one sentence.

So today I choose to plant my feet with my kiddo.   I choose to hold on the promises in the Bible.   And I cling desperately to Jesus who is the only reason it will work.   And He is patient with me and helps even when what I need help with is being His friend.   That’s what grace looks like.    

I really never heard of anyone growing in their faith because of a t-shirt.   But today I did.   My daughter is teaching. 

How about you?  Do you struggle with this too?   

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Calling it good. 

It’s been a good day.  Nothing to warrant a photo or blog post really but as I sit and reflect I am grateful for a mountain of simple pleasures.

My baby is in bed.  I can hear her talking to herself. Little happy noises.  Earlier she dragged out my highest heels and made me practice walking. These are the ones I threatened to get rid of because while they are gorgeous, they are super skinny heels and I tend to trip.  My three year old loves them. She really wants me to wear them. And so tonight I tromped up and down the hall and didn’t fall over once. Maybe all the running and biking and swimming is good for heel training.   Point here is that she makes me grin.

My eldest is at camp.  First overnight camp.  She was nervous.  I didn’t tell her I was nervous too. I told her she’d be great.   I sat tonight and thought about summer camp and growing up and the fact that fourth grade is no little matter.   Love that girl.

My house smells currently smells like a cake baking and bread rising.   My husband is making birthday treats for my dear friend.  He always says yes to my plans.  Currently my plans include a big pre race carb load.  Fresh mozzarella and grated parmasan and sausage and pasta.  Gosh he makes me happy.   

My hands currently  smell like lavender and basil and tomatoes from when I watered my garden.  I hear my cat meowing, ready for dinner and our nightly cuddle. 

Day after tomorrow is my big day. Swim and bike and run.  I’m scarexcited.   My Trisuit fits if you like the look of a black and pink porpoise.  

Ten days out is the 7th annual Scramble for the Kids.  Today I got to talk to several generous local entrepreneurs committed to helping hurting kids. I love that. 

Today I also witnessed a friend climb out of a personal hole today. Miracle. Inspiring. 

Talked to my mama. Planned a belated Father’s Day date with my dad and sister.  Smooched one of my nephews. 

Within striking range of a goal at work.  I love a finish line.

Lots of good stuff.  But Eaier today I got a little overwhelmed and sad.  It’s because I read the news.  Do you do this?  Lions and babies and protests.  Politics and fights and war.   I am a fully engaged citizen. I read and vote and call and write and fundraise.  But Sometimes it feels like the yuck is winning.  I can get stuck there. 

But I decided today to just not. 

Instead.

Counted my blessings.  Said a prayer.  Called it good. 

It was a good day. 

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Weight in the Court

Every so often I spend time in a court room.  I’m usually waiting to have my two minute say on a claim.    I’ve read enough Grisham novels to be interested in the drama and I’ve worked with enough attorneys to generally keep up with what is happening.   When I has a teen I wanted to be an attorney.   Turns out it’s cheaper and more time efficient to hire one than to get the degree.  But I like courtrooms. Occasionally it’s humorous.  Sometimes its sad. It’s never boring. This week, regardless that the scene was short, was remarkable.

I was sitting in the back row of the gallery.   I like to sit in the back. A better view of the crowd.   It was obvious there was one man who was not happy to be present.   The court clerk called the room to order and asked if anyone needed an interpreter or accommodations.   The man in the front row quite loudly informed the clerk he has had a recent knee replacement replacement and so he needed to go first.   The clerk marked her paper, nodded and continued her speech.

Angry man repeadly huffed and sighed and interrupted the clerk while demanding special treatment.  When he was assigned to his mediator he slightly limped out.   All judgment aside, I’m sure the surgery hurt.   He made sure we all knew.

And then there was this other man who quietly sat in the back.  He didn’t respond when she asked if anyone needed accommodations. Although no one would have blinked had he asked.  He sat quietly and patiently waited his turn.

This man had clearly survived a horrible fire.  His whole body was scarred and marbled.  He had no ears.    It looked like it must hurt to blink.  Both hands had stumps for fingers.  One leg was noticably much shorter.

When this man’s case was called I smiled because it turned out he was a self employed business owner.    I love entrepreneurs.  Especially ones who beat the odds.

When it was his turn to leave the courtroom, he picked up his documents deftly with what was left of his hands and walked out confidently  though it was obvious by gate and speed that every step hurt.

I wanna be like this guy.   Independent.  Tough.   Courageous.  Unassuming.  Patient.  Faithful.   Resourceful.

Sadly,  frequently  I’m like the first man.  Overly concerned about my needs, holding on tightly to my excuses (however valid they may be) and loudly demanding accommodations.

Now I only saw both men for about five minutes. I have no idea who they really are or the stories either would tell.  But I do know our lives are made up of choices we make in little five minutes increments.  Choices about how we handle what life deals.  And people are watching.

 I was a witness to an incredible juxtaposition of two responses to a wait in a court room.   And one man’s choice reflected character.   Weighty.  

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Nigh and Naught

Mornings at our house have a pattern.   On good days, when I don’t hit the snooze button, the pattern includes time to think.  Snooze button days not so much.   Part of my morning includes standing in the bathroom holding my daughter’s towel and waiting for her to rinse the conditioner out of her hair.   I help her get dressed, we talk about the day and I brush her hair into its familiar double ponytail.  There won’t be very many more years that she’ll let me do this so I treasure the time.    Many days while I hold her towel, I read her daily Bible verse while I stand there and wait.      Today’s verse gave me pause.

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In my coffee deprived mind the words rattled around and came up with this meaning  “God is naught.  No where.  Hard to find”.     I shook my head, hugged my kiddo’s bright orange towel closer and looked again.     Nigh.   I had associated Nigh with No, Night, Never, Nope, Nada.    Nigh does not mean Naught.   Whew.

Strange that nigh and naught are so different.   In the midst of a trial I sometimes feel like they are the same.  But feelings are not truth.  Reality starts with clear definitions.  Nigh is near and God is good.  All the time.     When I start with proper definitions I see clearly.

Last night we took our kids to the school playground around the corner.   The big sister rode her bike and ran and jumped and generally caused a ruckus.    The little sister went down the slide all by herself.  She grinned like she was big stuff.     We put the little sister back in the stroller and went for a walk on the track.     Little sister became concerned.   Asked for “sister?”.   She became worried.   Yelled for “sister!”.     She didn’t know that the one she was calling for was close by – circling, coming up fast and wouldn’t dream of leaving her.     When the bicycle went zooming past the baby settled back in for a content ride.

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And that’s what I reminded myself this morning.   When I am broken-hearted and worried I don’t need to panic.    I can call out His name because He is Nigh.  Next to.   Near.

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Welling Up

This is a busy crazy week.   Let me rephrase.   This is one busy crazy life.    I’ve developed a fairly stable system to handle this.   It involves a lot of lists.  I have a joint digital calendar and digital list with my spouse, a hard copy calendar and scheduled review session with my business partner/mother.  I have bits of random lists on my phone and by my bedside.  I have lists that track how many glasses of water I drink and if I made my bed.  I don’t always accomplish everything on my lists and most of the time I have lots of loose ends.   But it generally works. However lately there is one area of my life I’m not controlling all that well.    Tears.   I’ve had a lot of tears.

Before you worry about me and send me off to counseling (been there…done that) know that we’re doing fine.   It’s more that this stuffing all the joy we can handle into our lives has put us very close to people.  People who sometimes hurt.  People who frequently overcome. Plus I have two daughters and a husband.

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That would do it all by itself.   I’m blessed and I hurt.   And so I cry.

The resident chef and I are about to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and I still adore the guy.   Last night I spent hours of time trying to impress him with a new casserole involving peppers and cheese.  It was okay.  Kinda boring and certainly not worth the work. I really should leave the cooking to him.    For St. Patrick’s tonight he’s making the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage but just for fun he made Irish Brown Bread and Creamy Vegetable soup that are EXACTLY likes the ones we had when we were in Ireland for our tenth anniversary.  I can’t wait! When  I watch the video he made of that trip and I think about the past fifteen years and boom – tears.

One of my dearest friends had some heart ache in the last couple of years.  (Haven’t we all?)  I’ve cheered them on.  They make me proud.   I love watching how God is revealed in their conduct and character.  She sent me this photo from her recent doctor appointment.

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    Tears.  Lots of tears.

Our church is in the midst of a remodel.   Couple of weeks ago a wall was torn open and this was found.   A message written there years ago by a family friend who lost a terrible fight with cancer.    Psalm 46:1  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ”    I love that this message was placed right where it would be seen again and would testify to us all about the goodness of God and how He carried her through her battle.

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  Big tears.

My youngest is almost two and she pats when she gives hugs.  God knew at this stage in my life I’d want hugs and so He sent this sweet loving little miss.    The chef and she Facetimed me earlier today and showed me her new grin.

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Tears.   Smiling grinning sloppy tears.

My oldest will be eight in two weeks.   She’s a fierce, loyal, brave and independent kid.  Huge heart.  Last six months she’s proved it through some personal battles.  Most recently, she just raised the most money in her school for the American Heart Association.  Every time someone agreed to donate to her I smiled and felt the tears threatening.    A close friend emailed her with her donation and told her that she could see what kind of person she’d grow up to be…a person like Jesus.   My little fighter said “oh mom. my tears are welling up “.   And that’s where I’ve been living lately.   Tears welling up.

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The things that make me cry are varied and frequent.   My daughters sitting at my grandma’s piano. Holding my nephew.   Kneeling and looking into the huge big eyes of my niece.   My daffodils.   A really good joke.   Every song in Bow The Knee.    (It’s this weekend….go see it!)    Friends who take over when I can’t handle things.   My mother.   Sunshine.   A great book.     As it turns out,  even the painful tears are good.   Doesn’t make them not painful.   But painful isn’t always bad.

So I thought I’d better tell you all.  The true list that holds my crazy world together is all of you.  People who bless me.  People who take my loose ends and tie them together.    It’s a list from God that prove He is good.    All the time.    My list of gratitude to God.   And its all of you.

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