Saturday, July 30, 2016

Get in the Game

“I felt like everyone got court side seating to a difficult game I didn’t feel prepared to play.”

I was sitting in my beautiful friend’s office describing life early last school year. It was there that I first uttered aloud to her that my father-in-law had cancer. Where I confessed fear of mothering strong, representing my family name well, and being a good witness to the inner faith that sustains me when that which meets the eye appears to be falling apart. It was there that she responded with the words of grace I would later claim for my 2016 verse of the year.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:5

She let me cry and struggle, but she also spoke to my gifts as a mother and leader.

And that was what made this day’s visit fun.

I’d come in thanksgiving. We were on the front end of summer. The outlook for my father-in-law was encouraging. And, I’d just received the call to my dream position in my home congregation. Work that would intertwine my heart for promoting strong family and identity in Christ with my love of education.  She was a reference, and I couldn’t wait to say thank you and let her know that I was going to utilize all those gifts that she’d articulated to me to be the good in this new life high.

My girls helped me decorate this office to make it feel home - the result a precious mix of elementary classroom and fanciful class. Perfect for the birth through fifth grade families I serve and warm + inviting for all who enter.

My desk was moved, a large, framed photo of my girls was hung, and a few toys made their way in for the kids.

I thought I was done until the girls offered their two cents.

“Your window wall is boring and that’s the first thing people see when they come in, ya know.”

Target dollar spot string lights and a Hobby Lobby wall hang to the rescue.

For a window that looks out upon this.

Gary died the first day I sat in the chair overlooking the court and my words to my friend echoed loudly in my mind.

You need not be afraid of the game. I’m in it with you.

What do you say when life throws you off your A-game? How do you respond in the unknown?

From a holy conversation in one office to the sacred view in my own, I’m reminded to just get in the game. To always do my best and let go of the pressure to define moments won or lost.

God is near.

Peace, friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We Broke And God Showed Up. In the Cross. In You

I put on bright, cheery clothes for an appointment I didn’t want to face.

I don’t know who I was trying to convince.


It’s bogus to think the Maker of the Universe can be manipulated by fashion.


It’s true I wished to appear confident, strong, and hopeful but outer attire cannot guise inner conscious.

I left the office with the sting of bad news and acute awareness that I can’t always be all the things I want to.

My father-in-law’s cancer was back.

A new round of treatment offered a new round of optimism for all of us. Options offered comfort and living and dreaming resumed until fourteen days ago when an admit for what we thought would be a simple, treatable infection turned into a whirlwind nightmare. As we continued to wait, beg, pray for the medication to take hold his breathing continued to decline. Each of us was blessed time with him where he spoke gift affirming words into our hearts and could return description of the treasures we see in him. With joined hands we sung hymns and shared family prayer around the bed side, Gary included from under his mask.

And then we had to say goodbye.

Our hearts fractured. A tired haze set in. Tears – unending tears – fell.

The theology of the cross means The Lord will never be a made-to-order Santa nor has He left us when prayers as we have spoken them aren’t answered. Our good God’s work redeems (even when tough to see) in our weakness and, ultimately, makes our “goodbye” a “so long” because He claims victory over death with the promise of heaven.

It also means the strong, confident hunger is the antithesis of the hope I claim.

And, despite having experienced the death of my own father and years of longing for a child I am maybe getting that for the first time.

I let a friend see me in my robe and tear-stained eyes as she graciously handed me Oh My Cupcakes because I don’t eat well under stress but she knows there are certain things I cannot deny. Coffee, chocolate, and warm bread has been hand-delivered to me. Meals have been prepared. A friend showed up at the hospital and held my daughter when I didn’t have enough hands to cup the faces of my girls. Another said, “I’m coming tomorrow to be with all the kids” in a moment of need I didn’t anticipate and loaded my overflowing dishes into the dishwasher while she was at it. Flowers. Books to discuss heaven with my girls. A prayer rock. Texts. Emails. Phone calls. Space to absorb my sometimes ugly words. The list goes on. Shoulders to absorb the tears.

In my weakness He is strong.

In admitting to all the things I am not the face of Christ has been vibrantly seen.

Yesterday I bought a new little black dress for a funeral I wish wasn’t. And I won’t try to be confident and strong. I will, however, be hopeful because God’s healing and saving plan will kiss our tears and you, as the body of Christ, will bless us through.

Thank you.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

What Are You Going to Do Now That Your Baby is Going to Kindergarten?

This is the question that people started asking a year ago.

“Just keep being me.”

Ava starts kindergarten this fall and that means the complexions of my days is sure to change but I had no intentions. Maybe I would write during day hours rather than when the sun had set. Maybe volunteering in three rooms would mean more time at the school. Maybe I’d find a part time gig, although that felt less likely.

I’ve never been one do to do something just to do it.

I’ve also never bought into the stay-at-home versus working mom debate.

Words I live by and believe in.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect full-time to enter my vocabulary but that is exactly what has happened.

When the Director of Faith Formation position opened at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church my husband was called to be on the task force committee. I looked at him and said, “You’d be good at it, but I’d be great at the job.”

My author work with teens has taught me the value of investing in family relationships early so that students feel comfortable talking to their parents as bigger issues arise. Recognizing that critical window, I designed the Intergenerational dance line curriculum, creating a fun, low stress environment for mothers and fathers to draw out their elementary aged child's personal thoughts through creatively designed directed conversation. In this space I frequently give you family faith formation activity ideas. My PTA leadership means experience with budgets, and working with volunteers, and awareness of successful educational strategies. Together, it melds perfectly into the Director of Faith Formation - seeking to help families of birth through fifth grade live out the baptismal promise - in the church I have always loved, with an incredible staff, and my own children across the span of the program.

Charlie supported me from the get-go and removed himself from the task force to ensure fairness in the process. We called a family meeting to make sure the kids were on board because it would mean change.

I was called by Our Savior’s. 

Tomorrow marks day one of a new journey. One I know to be a natural extension of who I am. The heart of this work has always mattered to me and to bring it into the OSL walls feels a gift, but as I look at our own precious girls, and see them celebrate God in the good times and actively seek Him in some of the current places that most hurt, my passion intensifies.  

They’ve made me a pottery piece and helped me pick out a few things to decorate the office. I’m dorkishly excited about the planner. And, I’m pretty sure if there is an award for most elementary classroom looking office I will win.

Here’s to a new ministry.

A new season.

The next “yes” to God.

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