Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Word I Forgot that Changed My Life

Well hello there, my little blog.  You haven't seen the light of day in what...3 months?  Sorry.  The little bit of public writing that I've done happened over at Velvet Ashes, in November, when I chose to be more open and authentic than was comfortable for me.  I chose to be very real about what I had been going through.  I shared about how my family and I spend time in counseling this past summer.

Today, I'm continuing the story.  I'm sharing about my One Word for 2014, looking back at the year and the journey that it was, where I'm at now.  This should explain a bit of the quietness around here. 

Continue reading "The Word I Forgot that Changed My Life."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Beginning of "Us."

“Are you ready to talk about this?”

Your voice was so calm and smooth.  I, on the other hand, blanched with panic, knowing full well what you were asking.  We were supposed to be working on my college homework assignment, for goodness sake.  But apparently you had other plans.

“Talk about what?” I asked, trying to sound innocent over the thudding in my chest. 
“Us,” you said.

No, I was not ready to talk about “us.”  I thought we’d keep dancing games around our mutual attraction for months to come.

But you’re not a guy to play games, are you?

I actually told you, “No, I’m not ready.” But that didn’t deter you.  You plunged ahead.

And that was the beginning of us.

That night you set our relationship on the course that has us celebrating a decade of marriage today. 

Ten years and now we’re two people rolling over to turn off morning alarms. 

Ten years and somehow we have three humans we’ve grown ourselves.     

Ten years and we’re in the middle of potty training, forever potty training.

Ten years of life side by side.  Ten years of moves and flights and plans and dreams and study and play.

Ten years and you come home at night, walk into the kitchen as I stir dinner, and I think “Gosh, there’s no one in this world I’d rather see right now than you.”

Because you and me, we make us.  And I love us. 

I love us even on the days when all our brokenness hangs out, because there’s something beautiful in knowing all the broken bits of each other and saying, “I love you still.  I choose you still.”

Today I want to remember, Love.  I want to live all the million moments that have made us, us.  Let me pen it down, so that decades from now, when we’re all wrinkled and trembly, and our minds have grown foggy, I can reach my hand for yours, and we can read and remember.  We’ll remember the first decade of us.

Remember driving away from our reception (and heading to Taco Bell, yes Taco Bell), just the two of us?  Remember the tears that fell, because the day had been just completely perfect?  The bubbles had been crusty dried bottles (perhaps that’s why they were clearanced??) and we never ever even saw the food table. But none of that mattered.  It had been a day full of magical moments.  And now what remained was the celebrated bliss of being Mr. & Mrs.  

Remember how we stood on the beach of Mackinaw Island and I told you of the ache I felt?   That this love I had for you was so strong it hurt, that I couldn’t imagine being happier than I was at that moment ever. 

Remember wandering through the streets of Venice, and listening to pure music echo off cathedral walls? 

Remember how we must go back to Italy one day and not eat off the menu touristico?

Remember that day when I cried on your shoulder in a parked car in Missouri, pouring out tears for the way you were helping me awaken to grace, beautiful grace.  I think that’s when I knew I needed to marry you.

Remember the blinding rain that made us pull over into that countryside driveway, how a quiet dark car set the mood, how the farmer turned on his lights and opened his door, and we peeled out before he could holler at us to stop making out in his driveway?

Remember standing at the airport check-in counter, frantically rearranging bags to get them under weight? Such precious novices about to board our first flight to China. 

Remember how in the dormitory room during orientation to China, I raged sick with fever, and you climbed into the little rock-hard twin bed with me and we held each other tight, wondering if moving to China was the biggest mistake of our lives?

Remember the number of students that could squeeze onto our first China couch?  Those rowdy games of spoons, losers punished by singing?  I think that’s when we first began to think, “You know, maybe we’ll stay.”

Remember standing outside the shopping mall, waiting for it to open? Waiting to purchase the stick that would tell us if we were parents?  The instructions were only in Chinese, so I had to pull aside a giggling Starbucks employee to explain to me how to take the test.  We rushed home, much to the relief of my waiting bladder. Then that little pink line said, “Yep, you’re lives are forever changed.”

One by one these three little people entered the equation of us.  There was the agony of waiting for Ellie to arrive. “Will she ever come?”  There was rush of “Get to the hospital NOW!” for Aiden, my head in your lap in the back of a taxi. There was the gasp of “It’s a boy!” for Titus. 

And always, there was the hushed awe in the hospital room, after everyone would leave, when just the three of us would bask in the wonder of it all, the scent of new life in the air.   

Three babies born in three countries.  Fun to say.  Loads of paperwork though, huh?

These ten years have been a lot about finding the you and the me of us.  It’s been the discovering and stepping out in faith into what we’re each meant for. 

Remember the YMCA hotel room when you first spoke the letters “PhD”? 

And can you think of how we would have laughed if someone told us I would one day be the founder of an online community?  Yeah, ME, the girl who has always run to you for the slightest computer glitch.

Let’s think for a moment of all the times we’ve questioned our sanity, all the times when our life and travel and dreams and children have stretched us beyond ourselves and we’ve wondered what in the world we’re doing. 

There have been some of those times, haven’t there?

Times when we don’t know how to keep on with it all.

Even in those hardest of times, we’ve always believed in each other, believed for each other.    

And now we’re entering this new season, a season of pruning, of cutting back, and finding what we need for wholeness.

We’re finding us again, not the old, younger version of us, the ones with honeymoon stars in our eyes, but a new, deeper us.  An us that knows the stretched out parts of ourselves. 

I like this us. 

I like who you are and who you help me to be.  I like this family of ours, the beautiful, loud, crazy lot that we are.

Let’s remember we won’t always have wriggly little bodies climbing all over us while we watch our wedding video every September 18th.  They won’t always be there bobbing their heads to the music and squealing with delight at “the kiss.” 

So let’s bottle up the memories of these days.  Exhausting though they may be, they are glorious.

All the moments of today are making the us of tomorrow.  I think I will like that version too. 

I’ve said it at least a million times, but let it ring with depth today…

I love you. 

I love the dish-washing, gift-giving, tender-hearted, wisdom-anointed man that you are. 

I love that you are mine and I am yours and that we get to be us.  Because I love us.

Here’s to 10 years, the first decade of many.  A lifetime just begun…


Thursday, July 10, 2014

For the Days When It's Hard to Enjoy

The littlest one wakes from a jet lagged nap, fitfully inconsolable. Screaming, screaming, nothing soothes. Weary and frayed, I decide to get out, to take him for a walk.

On my way out the door, the husband and I get into a spat. My temper flares. We're here to enjoy, but we’re all of us a mess. I march out the door.

The boy strains against his stroller straps, wailing for all the neighborhood to hear. He wants his happy place, close to my heart. So I strap 30lbs of nearly two-year-old chunk to my chest and take off down the road. He snuggles in close.

The sea pulls me like a magnet. I’m pounding the tension through my heels. I traipse through the forest, skirting puddles of mud. The air mists, the sky wisps grey. I come to the edge of the sea, on the shelf of a cliff, looking down at the sand. All around me is fog, I’m in the midst of a cloud, rolling in off the water.

My breath is steadier now. The boy is perfectly perky now, the jet lag demons have vanished. We find a bench and settle ourselves. I sit to sort myself, to wade through the thoughts and feelings swirling within. And I feel nothing but in the thick of the fog.

In the fog of life.

I long to see the horizon, to see hope and promise on the other side of “It’s all too much” today. But the fog lets me see only where I am, what’s right before me, no farther.

When I stop straining to see the horizon, when I look down at what I can see, it’s then that I see – the beauty around me, too easily missed when fighting the mist.

The flowering grace of right now.


Continue reading over here...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

To Those That Send Me...

To get my juices flowing for a post on "Hospitality," I looked up the word in the dictionary.  Original idea, I know.  Here's what one of the definitions said: "Hospitality is to treat others with warmth and generosity."  Those words triggered a rush of memories and a flash of faces, faces that are to me the definition of warmth and generosity.  So this post goes out to those people.  You know who you are...


I didn't know that I'd need you like I do.

I didn't know how much your prayers and send-offs would bolster my soul.

I never knew that I'd only ever be able to go and serve the world because I was first served by you.

When you showed up at the church, arms ladened with food and pretty things, to send us off in style, I didn't know how much it would mean to me.

When you set up tables in the early morning hours and sold your things for me, I didn't know that I would crumble when you handed me wads of cash.

When you gave me pictures, cards and light-weight gifts, when you scratched "We'll miss you!" on chalkboards, I didn't know it'd melt me right through.

Keep reading over here...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In Which I am in the Middle Fog

When I chose “embrace” for my One Word, I thought I knew what I was in for.  I thought I knew what 2014 would be about.  I wrote a list, remember?  Halfway through the year there are already some ironic twists.

Remember how I said I wanted to embrace people, just as they are, no longer wastefully wishing, “…if only they would....”  

Well, what do you know, the Father has flipped that one on its head.  Who knew that embracing others, their limits, imperfections and all, first means reckoning with and embracing my own. 

I strain against all the ways I am not enough, all the ways I should be more, how I should be beyond this struggle, how I know what I ought to do and yet I do the opposite.   

Who I want to be is the carrot ever dangling before me.  I trip and stumble along, ever reaching, yet never grasping. 

Grace whispers, “Do you dare to stop the straining?  To stop and embrace who you are now?”

Fear calls back, “But then the carrot will fade off into the horizon, and I’ll be left as just…me…the one with daily failures nipping at her heels.  How will I ever grasp the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control that I so long for?

Grace is wildly risky like that. 

Does a plant produce fruit by its own effort?  Or does it simply embrace what life gives it in each moment, the taste of rain, the kiss of sun, the harshness of winter, while the Maker does the work of growth? 

I don’t know… I feel like I’m half way through this post, this soul searching.  There's no conclusion, just lots of questions. At midway through the year, I'm in the middle fog of it all.   
So this is me embracing my own limits, calling this enough for now and to be continued…

How are you at embracing your limits?

Friday, June 6, 2014

In Which I Live the Story of Snakes and Storms

I’ve reached a point in my life when I no longer feel the need to do something just to be able to say I did it. 

When you’ve eaten dog intestines and ant-filled eggs, when you’ve climbed volcanoes and bungee jumped from towers, when you’ve back flipped from cliffs (in younger, limber days) and munched on scorpions, you eventually reach a point when you’ve done enough crazy things.  You have enough stories to tell.    

So when a friend said, “Let’s go sleep on the Great Wall!”  I whimped out and said, “Uh…how about we find a hotel near the Great Wall?”  I was promptly told that would defeat the whole point. 

Well, then. 

Eventually I gave in and signed up to go.  My friends are very persuasive. And I like them enough to spend my one night away from the kids getting the opposite of a good night’s sleep.  I must really like them.

So we’re sitting by the fireside, eating dinner (I do LOVE a campfire dinner), when Kristi says, “I hate to say this, but there are ... snakes right over there.”

I look over, expecting to see a couple little garders.  Suddenly I’m yelping, “Oh, my word.”   There, not a stones throw away, are two very large snakes (4 to 5 ft long and thick as a baseball bat). 

We have no idea if they are poisonous or not.  A quick google search says the chances are 50/50.  Splendid. 

We circle closer round the fire, keeping a weary eye and ear on the snakes that are romping quite vigorously in the bushes.  They are very … into each other.  We yell, “Get a room!”  And they pay us no mind. 

I’m debating how wise it is to sleep with not more than a few yards and a tent between me and couple of rambunctious serpents.  I start scheming how we can pay a couple of local village boys to come and be our hired hit men.

But my plans are interrupted by frantic texts from my husband.  “Are you ok??” 

I think, “How does he know about the snakes?” But I answer, “Yeah, why?” 

“It’s storming like crazy here.  The worst storm I’ve ever seen in Beijing.  It’s heading your way.  You need to take shelter now!”   

Our van dropped us off and won’t be back until the next day, so we have no choice but to scurry to our tents. We pull out the rain covers we said we wouldn’t need because there’s no forecast for rain.

We hear the thunder start growling in the distance.  It’s clearly moving fast. Within minutes the rain starts pelting, the wind whipping.  We dive into our tents, giggling with adrenaline fear.

Broken branches thunk against our tent.  Rain drives in sheets.  Lightening illuminates our tent.  A large tree right near our campsite uproots and blows clean over.  It was a long night.  

We awake damp at dawn with achy backs and creaky limbs, but glory, we’re alive.   I promptly remind everyone it was my idea to stay in a hotel.

But then we climb to where the Great Wall, a wonder of the world, crowns the mountains around us. 

We climb and breathe, life coursing through our veins.  And I think, “Well, I’ve got another story to tell.”

Photo Credit: Liu Shuquan via Compfight cc

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Chinese Friend Visits America and Then She Gets It

My Chinese friend had just arrived back in China after her first trip to America, her first experience in a Western country.  She came to my home for a visit, as she had done many times before.  But there was something different about this time, as if she looked at me and my home with a whole new perspective.
In the middle of telling me all about her travels, she paused, looked at me for a moment, and then she said it.
You sacrifice a lot to come here for us.”
Her words caught me off guard.  I swallowed hard, blinking at the sudden wetness in my eyes.
I stammered to find a response.  Part of me felt I should brush off her praise.  What we do?  It’s no big deal.      
But to say that would deny the fact that her words felt like a balm.  Someone that I came here for acknowledged the price I pay to come.  I don’t know why I needed to hear those words, but I did.
Keep reading over here...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Thought My Kid was Dying...Again.

I heard a crash from my kids' bedroom.  The kind of crash that makes you sprint towards it.  I found my three-year-old son on the floor.  I picked him up to find blood gushing, and I mean gushing, from the back of his head.  I'm not a screamer, but I screamed like I've never screamed before.
That makes for the second time in a month that I thought my kid was dying.
Continue reading over here...

photo credit WanderingtheWorld ( via Compfight cc

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In Which I Share My Deepest Fear

This is officially the hardest post I’ve ever written.
I somehow failed to realize that in challenging people open up this week at The Grove and share their fear, their deepest insecurity, that it would involve ME peeling back the layers of myself to find my fear. And then exposing it for all to see.
Whose grand idea was this anyway?

I wrestled back and forth, pounded it all out, thought I was nearly finished, and then…well, then I scrapped it all.  That wasn’t the fear I needed to share with you all.  It would have been easier, because that fear had me looking a bit more “together." And, well, I try pretty hard to give off that image.
But no ... here’s the fear I don’t want to share, and maybe that makes it the one I need to share.  So here I go...
Continue reading over here...

And in lining up with being my real self, here's make-up free me...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In Which I am Undone and Made New Again

I've always been infatuated with words, both in writing and reading.  Somewhere stacked in storage boxes are a zillion pages of my childhood journals.  And my parents, clever people, they would discipline me as a kid by taking my books away.  I thought I would die.
But somehow, poetry was never really part of this love affair with words.  I am not sure what exactly possessed me to launch Velvet Ashes' very first day with some of my own poetry/prose (See, I don't even know what to call it!).   I still can't believe I did that.  Because poetry is not a form of expression that I have any comfort or confidence in doing.  And honestly, it's also not a form of writing that I've sought to read very often either.
In the last few years, though, something has happened.
I have a budding new love for poetry.
I can point to three reasons for this:
1.  Writers I love and respect have shared how poetry has moved and shaped their lives.
2.  I've sought to expose my children to poetry, and in doing so have exposed myself to its beauty as well.
3.   My weekly time at The Grove.  Poets have been showing up and offering the gift of poetry in this space made for words, conversation and art.  And since I host it and respond, I read line by line through these poems, really reading them, pausing to savor and taste.  And week after week, I think: goodness gracious, that's gorgeous!  So simply profound.  
So this week at The Grove our prompt is "Poetry," and for those of us who are fresh-faced to writing our own poems, it's being suggested that we start with Psalm 23 as inspiration. 
 So here's my Psalm 23...

Jesus, You take care of me.

I have enough.

In You, I am enough.

You give me my favorite place
Here You refresh and renew.

You lead me in Your purposes for me.

You were with me.

Through Your people and Your Word, you comforted me.

Ultimately I have nothing to fear.

Whatever this broken world brings

You are my hope, my sure anchor.

Your presence fills me

And I am undone,

Made new again.

Your goodness and mercy go before and behind,

Every day of my life,

All over this world.

In you I am home

Now and always.


A humble stab at poetry, but gosh, I really, truly enjoyed doing it.  I may have just found myself a new way to pray.  What's your favorite way to pray?    

I'm Finally Ready to Talk About My Son's Disease

Aiden and I were leaving his check-up appointment this week.  We walked out of the hospital and turned down the sidewalk.  We looked up and saw a white man barreling towards us.  His hand clenched a phone to his ear, his eyes wide and frantic.  I’m quite sure he never saw us as he sprinted, full-on sprinted, towards the doors of the hospital.

We kept walking and suddenly I’m weeping. 

Because now I know.

Now I know what it feels like to have something very, very wrong with someone you love more than life itself.  You can imagine what it would feel like, but not until you’re trembling with the reality can you ever really know.

I wept because seeing that man’s wild eyes took me back to four weeks ago.

I’m sitting in a hospital waiting room in Northern Thailand.  My three-year-old boy is slouched and half-sleeping in my arms.  His fever has been raging for eight days now.  His body is splotched with rash, his tongue fuzzy and bumpy, his lips cracked and dry.  We’re waiting to see the fourth doctor of the week.*   

The room swarms with parents and sick children.  Nurses scurry to and fro.  Every bed in the hospital is full. 

I’ve waited long enough.  I’m done with these trips back and forth to the hospital, these medications tried and failed.  My boy is not better, only getting worse.  Mama bear takes over.  I march up to the counter, heaving him on my hip. 

“I need to go to the emergency room,” I tell all the white-capped nurses. 

This sends them scampering, searching for his chart.  I do not move. 

Soon I’m being escorted to see a doctor.   

Moments later, she’s telling me, “I think he may have Kawasaki disease.”

Kawa-what??”  The word “disease” exploding in my brain.

I don’t understand anything she’s saying.  I hear the words “serious,” “urgent” and “involves the heart.”

I choke against the fear rising in my throat.  I try to ask her questions.  She’s says I can look it up.  I ask her again, she says we’re doing blood work.  Talk to the specialist after the blood work.

Rapid texting to my husband: “Kawasaki disease– look it up.”

I’m back in the waiting room.  And there in that frozen moment, tears gushing down my face, I’m feeling all the pain of all the mothers all across the world with dying children in their arms.  I’ve imagined this feeling, every mother does.  But now I know.

Aiden raises his head up off my chest and looks at my wet face.  I pull him back to me and kiss him in his hair.  I whisper what I’ve been telling him for 8 long days now, “Mama’s going to take care of you.  You’re going to be ok.”

What if I can’t?  What if he won’t?

What if I can’t?  What if he won’t?

There are blurred and vivid memories from that day of eternity. 

We’re pinning him down, the IV going in.  He’s screaming, “Help me!”  He’s ferociously mad at the nurses.

We’re waiting for a room to open up.  I’m curled up on an examining table with him.  He’s quiet for a while.  Then he’s trying to rip his IV out.

Side affect of Kawasaki?  Extreme irritability. Yes, extreme irritability in a three-year-old.  I’ll spare you the details and let you imagine. 

Throughout the day we crash course ourselves in Kawasaki.  No one knows the cause of this rare disease.

Turns out my mama heart could have been spared with the words, “Treatable” and “With treatment, a very good chance of full recovery and no long term complications.”  My gut is still in knots, but slowly I begin to breathe.

By evening we’re pumping intravenous immunoglobulin from over a thousand people’s blood into my son.  There’s constant monitoring and medications, and finally, five days later, he is released from the hospital. 

This week was his follow-up heart-scan and blood work, and it showed that he is blessedly back to normal. 

Thank you, thank you Jesus.

And thank you to everyone who loved and prayed us through this time.  We will be ever, ever grateful for how you held us up.

My boy’s heart is back to normal.  I think my heart, however, is still recovering.  The fear I felt has made a mark, left a scar.  It has me weeping for people running wild-eyed into hospitals.  And it has me lingering in extra long snuggles with my babies, sneaking an extra peck on their cheeks, sighing content at the sound of their giggles.  Scars bear their own beauty, I think.  They link us tenderly to the pain of others, and they form a forever reminder to embrace each day as a gift.

Do you have a scar that's done this for you?

*Kawasaki disease is a very difficult disease to diagnose because symptoms show up in a gradual progression.  Once we got the diagnosis, we received excellent care, and we were grateful to be in very capable hands.    


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wait, Now Who Am I?

So I rolled The Grove's word prompt around in my mind this week.


And then I rolled it some more,


And then I felt…tired.

The word has such a “goal oriented” feeling to it, like it’s going to rattle off a bulleted to-do list. Now, Lord knows, I’m a list maker, an achiever of goals (or at least a believer in goals), but I have a hunch that the last thing that either you or I need right now is a to-do list.

I know I’m not preaching to a bunch of slouches here. I think we're a can-do kind of people. And so we do, and do, and do some more. And somewhere along the line my identity and perhaps yours becomes wrapped up, woven as one into what we DO.

Have you ever had a time in your life when what you DO is stripped away from you? You’re suddenly left floundering, asking, “Wait, now who am I?”

Yeah, been there.

There was that time I left everything I ever knew as a barely 18 year-old for the mountains of Ecuador. No longer the student leader.

Or the time I had to let go of teaching and that master’s degree. Gah, the classroom was my place!

And then all the days of sending my husband off to do the big important things, the things we used to do together, as I stay home to scrape dried jelly off the counter.

Yep, there have been tears for all of these. But go back and change it?

No, no I wouldn’t.

It’s been this stripping down and away that’s brought me to my knees, helped me find myself in Him. 

Read the rest over at Velvet Ashes...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Heart is Sad

"Mom, is some other family going to come live in our home?"  my nearly six-old daughter asked me.
"No, honey, we're going to Thailand for six weeks, and then we'll come back.  This is our home," I said in my most assuring voice as I packed the last items into our carry-on.
I knew she was thinking of  our last home, the one we left in California five months ago.  We had made sure the kids saw our apartment empty, so they knew it wasn't home anymore.  We told them that another family would come live there.  Our new home was in China.
"But what if they don't know we're coming back, and they just come in?" she pressed, obviously not convinced.,
I paused in the middle of our get-to-the-airport ordeal to kneel and look into her worried eyes.  "No one will come and take our home.  You don't need to worry.  We'll lock the door, and it will be here when we get back."
"Maybe we should put a sign on our door that says, 'A family lives here and is coming back,'" she says.  I mentally add this to my list of "Signs your child is a TCK."  And I picture her telling this story to her counselor someday.
Moments later, we're in a van pulling away from our building.  My son suddenly starts freaking out in grand three-year-old tantrum style, lashing out at his sister next to him.

Keep reading over at Velvet Ashes...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

On Friendship, Status and the Walls Between

It should be enough. But it isn't.
Our faith and our womanhood should be enough to bond us to one another, enough to join our lives to journey together.
But all too often walls are built between us.  Status stands in the way.
She's married.  She's not.
She's got kids.  She doesn't.
She's older.  She's young.
She's like me.  She's ... not.
When my family and I left China to go back to the States for a two year study leave, we moved to a place we'd never lived before.  We had to build our friendships and social life from scratch.  After five years on the field, five years of having our social life determined by the teammates that were chosen for us, I was rather looking forward to a wide range of friendship options to choose from myself.
So we found a church, a Sunday school class, a small group, a MOPs group.  After a few months, I looked around and something struck me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Waiting for the "Some Day" to Share My Voice

I used to think that the time to share my voice would come later.  It was that elusive "some day." Some day...when I have more life tucked under my belt, when the kids are older, when I have more time, when I've had more training, then perhaps I'll  have something of value to share.
So I held back, waiting for the "some day."
Then I read about some women, some real-life hero/mentor kind of ladies.  These women were living in the "some day" of my imagination.  Their kids were grown and gone, they had years of living and learning to draw from.  Surely, they had people knocking down their doors, lining up to drink from their wells of wisdom.
But no.
These ladies were lamenting that they feel like they are too old, too out of touch, too out of style to be wanted, to be needed.
So they too hold back, feeling like their day has passed them by.
That's when I saw it.  That's when it all clicked...

Read the rest over at Velvet Ashes.  We're at The Grove sharing on the prompt "Voice."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Letter to My High School Self

Dear Me,
I see you there standing in the high school conference auditorium.  Your hands are lifted high in worship.  The anticipation is beating in your heart..  You know it's coming.  They are going to make the altar call for those who want to commit to serving the Lord full time.  You've thought and prayed this through.  You know in just a moment you'll be walking down the aisle.
Perhaps while you're at the front, I'll slip in quietly and place this letter on your chair.  Some words for you to hang on to through the years that follow this night.
I know what this  means to you.  Tonight is a mark of surrender in your soul, an altar of acceptance.  You're grabbing hold of God's hand to say, "I'll go where you lead."
So I'll not keep you from that stage tonight.  Because it's going to be powerfully life changing for you.  But even in holy, anointed moments, lies can creep in.  And I'd like to keep you from this lie....
Read the rest over at Velvet Ashes.  We're sharing our Letters to Self today at The Grove.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My One Word for 2014

When your One Word finds you, it’s really no use fighting it.  For some reason, I still did.  I listed all the reasons why it shouldn’t be my word.

Reason #1: That’s Jessica’s word
Reason #2: …uh…well…um….

Ok, FINE!  I give in.  It’s my word.

Like Jessica, I’m coming out of a year on Fearless.  I went into last year ready to do battle with Fear.  But I’m coming out of that year realizing that fear is not something to fight.

I found this nugget of wisdom coming out of my own mouth when addressing my five-year old:  “Is fighting a good choice?  Does fighting make things better or worse?”  Cue my own light bulb.

This year, I’m feeling called to embrace WHAT COMES.

For me that means not fighting against fear or stress or worry, because that’s really just fueling those fires.   

Embracing means acknowledging the realities of fear, stress and worry in my life. 

Embracing means examining which of these I’m meant to live with and which ones I can say, “This is our goodbye hug.”

Some things are here to stay, and that’s OK. 

A TED talk showed me studies on how stress is not the enemy.  It’s our attitude towards stress that makes a difference.  I’m the kind of person can stress out about being stressed out. 

So this year, I’m ready to embrace.  I want to roll with the stresses, the plane rides, the jet-lag, the child tantrums, the sloooow internet, the challenges that come with life overseas and little ones and big dreams.  Because these things are all happening this year.  This is the life I’ve chosen and wouldn’t trade.  So rather than fighting the accompanying challenges, I’ve got to accept them.  I can live with challenges or against them.  I want to live with.  

I’m also feeling called to embrace PEOPLE.

I’m shamed to think of all the time I’ve spent thinking, “If only this person would...” 

Newsflash: Trying to change people doesn’t work.  And wishing them to change usually just hurts you and the relationship. 

So this year, I’m setting out to embrace people, just as they are. 

Finally, I want to embrace NOW. 

I often long for stability.  I know, I know, wrong profession for that.  The temporariness that so often accompanies this kind of life can cause a detachment, holding people and things at arms length because you really just never know how long they will be in your life.       

But that’s no way to live. 

This year, I want to fling my whole heart into NOW.  Rather than pining away for stability, wondering how long-term anyone or anything will be, I want to fully embrace all there is NOW.

Because today is all we ever have. 

Here’s to 2014…a year to EMBRACE.  

Linking up with Velvet Ashes at The Grove