Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015



A Yiddish word for "overcome with emotion."

That's what I was this week when my small group leader asked each of us in the group how God had met us the prior week. 


With emotion.

As a matter of fact, I ended up the last to speak a single word and then the one who ended up a total blubbering hot mess. 

Everyone offered so many lovely ways that God had met them so personally in the prior week. Many had been on a retreat together - or really not so much together since it was a silent retreat - but with God seeking what He might say to them. 

I, on the other hand, spend a long weekend driving to see my son in Nashville, listening to podcasts of "Serial" and eating as much bar-be-que and pie as humanly possible through our sojourn in Tennessee. Meet God? Uhhhh...sorry, I was busy meeting pulled pork sandwiches and coconut pie. 

I had no real response to the question. As a matter of fact, I was a little irritated by the question. I think I might have even mumbled something about being less spiritual than the rest of those present.

I've taken many walks this week and contemplated the question further. I'm not very good at expressing deep thoughts spur of the moment, so I needed the quietness of my wildflower-lined walking trail to figure out where in the heck God was in my bar-be-que stained memory. 

And...He was there. As usual. 

He was there when we drove and the rain pelted our windshield. He was there when we walked through the most lovely gardens I've ever seen in Memphis and I saw His creative hand that designed 150,000 tulip blooms. He was there as we hugged our boy and listened to him share excitedly about his band, his life and what he was learning in college. He was there when we thanked Him for the delicious hot chicken, pulled pork and coconut pie that we ate. He was there in the simple grace of breathing and eating and doing. 

Meeting God doesn't require a reservation at a special spiritual table as I so often have to remember. He's always met me in the beauty and wonder of a simple spring bloom and in the enthusiasm of someone who is learning more about who He created them to be. God seems to show Himself to me in simple graces of the daily rhythm of life. He's often like the introverted and quiet friend who is just present with me. 

And I am grateful. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The In Crowd

One of my favorite spots in Jerusalem, Israel is the Garden Tomb. It's located very close to the old city and right next to a bus parking lot with lots of traffic all around, vendors hawking their wares on the street and pedestrians going in all directions. It's certainly not a very quiet locale...until...you step inside the garden that is filled with plants in bloom, birds chirping their songs, and pilgrims who have traveled to find respite and take communion where some believe Jesus was laid to rest and then rose again from a tomb in the garden that is now empty.
Garden Tomb entrance
The empty tomb
The back of the door on the empty tomb (not original, of course)
I don't know if that is the exact spot of the Biblical account of Jesus' resurrection as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Most scholars think that it is not. Whether it is or it isn't, it's still a very special and holy spot that brings me peace and joy each time I have visited.
Our communion in the garden

On my last trip to Israel in February, another group was in one of the garden worship areas participating in communion together. I was not able to identify the language they were speaking, but despite that, I still was familiar with a couple of the songs they were singing that I knew by heart in my own language. One song we sang a bit later was an old favorite of my grandmother's. Sitting there in that peaceful garden singing a song my dear Memom loved and also hearing it sung by others from some other part of the world gave me just a brief picture of heaven. I could imagine people of all colors, languages, shapes and sizes all singing with one voice some heavenly melody that we all will understand because what we sing won't matter so much as who we will be worshiping.

I grasped that sense of holy unity several times during my trip as I stood and listened to many groups sing in many languages at various places throughout Israel. I didn't know any of these people, yet I felt akin to them in a way I can't explain. Maybe it's that we were thinking of the same God who loves each of us so abundantly and uniquely regardless of our imperfections. Maybe it felt so special because I did not feel like an outsider looking in since we were all there for the same purpose - to rejoice and praise a living Lord and to touch and see and walk where He walked during His earthly life.

I have been a bit dismayed lately when I think about the state of things on planet earth. I see the issues in that beautiful land I walked in February in total tumult over too many problems to document here in my blog. I see those dying daily in that small country because they are on one side or the other.
And I see similar things happening around me on a very small scale when I read posts from friends on social media about cliques (grown-ups no less!) and how painful it is to be excluded for one reason or another. I see and know the pain and hurt it causes to be the one on the outside looking in regardless of age. It seems we are all divided into groups or not part of some "in crowd" in some regard at some point in our lives. 

I guess it just reminds me of what's broken in this earth's economy and how I long for God's economy of unity and one-ness with each other. For now, I pray that I can see those outliers who are looking in and catch them glancing my way so that I can invite them into a journey of grace.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace...." Ephesians 2:13-14a

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

I made a weekend trip to Houston to see my adorable niece and nephew star in the play "Peter Pan". My blue-eyed and curly haired niece was Peter (all golden tresses were disguised under a wig) and my energetic nephew was Michael. Of course I thought they were just brilliant and ready for Broadway any day now, but it was so fun to see them shine doing something they obviously enjoy doing. Their parents were bleary-eyed after many rehearsals and helping the kids run lines for a couple months, but proud nevertheless.

On the way to lunch on Sunday my niece asked if she could ride with me. She filled me in on all things Harry Potter and shared a lovely dream she has for her future that I just loved. She and her best friend hope that their dads will buy them an apartment to live in and matching lime green Mercedes Benz. I told her she should definitely ask for a convertible as they are the best.

I marveled most of the way home to Dallas at that sweet and simple dream of a 9 year old. I remember having simple dreams like that. They make perfect sense and seem within your grasp. And even as the years pass you continue to dream until one day you realize that you've stopped dreaming or you dream but talk yourself out of your dreams with all the reasons that dream is not possible or reasonable.

And I realized I had stopped dreaming. I couldn't think of a single dream I had any more. I almost wept as I drove past the lush patches of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes on I-45. My life has become all about what's practical and reasonable.

Maybe I need to allow myself to dream a bit. Even if it's not about a lime green Mercedes.

I'll take a red BMW convertible on a beach in Hawaii any day. Thankyouverymuch.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Desert of Preparation

I had the privilege and immense blessing to travel to Israel for the third time in February. Having been twice before, I truly thought that it would be fun, but nothing new.

I am so glad I was wrong.

The trip was especially incredible and so full of new insights into the Bible that I have had to take a few weeks to digest all that I learned in order to even write about it. I think I have several blog entries worth of thoughts that I'd like to share for anyone who still might stop by to read every now and again.

Just off the main highway down a long narrow dusty road in the Judean desert is the Jericho Road. This trip was the first time I've ever been to the Jericho Road. The Jericho Road is the road that Jews during the time of Jesus would have walked to go to Jerusalem for major celebrations, like the Passover. Jesus as a child would have walked in a caravan of travelers along this rocky, dusty road to Jerusalem. Jesus, as a man, would have walked this road on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples as he told the story about the Good Samaritan. He also would have walked this way to Jerusalem on his way to the last supper and his crucifixion.
The narrow road leading into the Desert of Preparation near the Jericho Road.
On the other side of the radio/tv "tower" is the city of Jericho as well as the Mount of Temptation.
The area is also called the "Desert of Preparation" because it was along this route that the traveler was preparing his/her heart for worship at the great Temple in Jerusalem. If you stand still and listen carefully, you can hear water in an oasis area at the bottom of the ravine. "Living water" as the gospel writers and Jesus might have called it.
You can see a stone-lined path where the Jericho Road winds it way through the desert.
The building is a Franciscan Monastery. The area at the bottom is a bit of an oasis also called the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" (but that's another story for another day)
If you asked me what's going on in my life for the past couple of years, I would quickly tell you that I've been wandering in a spiritual desert for months...maybe years now...trying to find my way in a dry place that seemed to have no end. At least, that's what it's felt like to me. I can catch a glimpse of God here and there, but mostly He seems far away and I feel like a wanderer looking for something that I can't even name.

Standing on the hill overlooking the area where the Jericho Road was and hearing that it was also the Desert of Preparation jolted me out of my paradigm. Preparation is a word that connotes possibilities and promise to me. It holds the thought of opportunity and answers that may lie somewhere down the road - in the future, but maybe not so far out of sight as what I had thought. It means there's something to be learned in the dryness and quiet and maybe requires a bit of stillness and listening for the Living Water nearby. There's hope when it's felt hopeless for so long.
My rock from the Desert of Preparation sits in front of my kitchen sink to remind me to be still and listen for the Living Water.
I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (a song of ascents sung on the way to Jerusalem)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Sour and (Bitter)Sweet

2013 was at times quite sweet and at other times a bit sour.

Maybe every year is that way and I only realize it in retrospect. Sometimes the day-in-day-out happenings wash over me so fast that I don't have time to assign "sour" or "sweet" until it's all said and done. And sometimes what seemed at the time like "sour" really was more sweet in my memory and with the passage of time.

The first part of the year was what used to be my normal definition of "busy." My younger son was finishing his last year of high school, so there was always a concert to go to, clothes to wash, Bible study to attend, meals to cook and normal life to live (if there is such a thing as "normal").

Then after 4 whirlwind years of him commuting 60 miles a day downtown to attend the arts magnet high school the craziness was over with some notes of "Pomp and Circumstance" and a barrage of photos and hugs and a few tears (from me, of course).
I went on my first mission trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands in July. I met some incredible seminary students from all over the world and reflected greatly on the bigger picture of God's work in the world and not just in my little burg in north Texas.

My husband and I made a difficult decision to leave our church of 16 years just after that. That topic could certainly be an entire blog post, but just not one I'm willing to write publicly. So I'll just say it was bittersweet. And hard. And no, we haven't landed anywhere yet. It's a void in my life that is greatly felt. I miss community and miss that spiritual connection with others. And it's been an interesting journey of bereftness that has brought to mind and heart many questions.

And then before I knew it, we were driving to Nashville to take my newly graduated son to Nashville to start his freshman year in college. No one prepared me for the hole in my heart that leaving him 12 hours away from home would cause me to feel. There were days that I missed him so badly that I thought I wouldn't be able to catch my breath. But I took comfort in the fact that life in fact does move on and the chicks do grow up (like it or not) and he was happy.

My husband and I had time to enjoy each other's company again for the first time in 21 years. We went on impromptu picnics, tried some new restaurants, cooked some old favorite recipes, went to movies and held hands and best of all, celebrated 25 years of marriage by vacationing in Hawaii. Very, very sweet and not sour at all.
After finally getting to the point of calling myself a "runner" (after 3 years of fairly serious running), I began experiencing some significant back issues in May. Months of doctor visits and an MRI, I finally got a diagnosis that forever will prevent me from being a "runner" again. This is probably the most sour moment of the year. I have tried to convince myself that walking is also great exercise, but find myself shedding big crocodile tears every time I'm out for a walk and pass someone enjoying a run. Only another runner would understand the loss that not being able to run means to me.

And then of course, there's the whole loss of self that has come with having my youngest leave home. Being a professional mom and homemaker for 22 years has been very fulfilling, but now I'm just not sure how to define who I am any more. And I still am not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

2013...a lot of bittersweet moments laced with salty tears of joy and sadness.

2014 finds me looking for the joy in the simple things each day. I think it's going to be an interesting year of discovery.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Sounds of Silence

Sitting in my favorite chair in the den, the only sounds I currently hear are the dishwasher and the washing machine.

No drumming.

No bass playing.

No loud music on someone's stereo.

No laughing at brother's inside jokes.


It's become a little summer ritual at my house for both boys to take leisurely afternoon siestas. 

Ahhhh...to think that at one time in my life when I had a baby and toddler, I prayed that they would both nap at the same time so I could enjoy a little peace and quiet! 

Time certainly flies a little too fast. This time next week both boys will be gone. One will be starting his freshman year of college in Nashville, TN and the other his senior year just 30 minutes away from home. I'm afraid that peace and quiet that I once prayed for will be deafening.

The clean house I always said I'd have if it weren't for toddlers/small children/teenagers will be possible (should I decide to become more fastidious). Choosing not to cook every now and then will be a reality, especially when my husband is away on a business trip. Heck, I can even eat chocolate for dinner if I want. The dog doesn't care if I set a good example.

But I'm a bit melancholy about this new "normal" that's about to commence in my life. I know I will miss the loudness that once drove me to hide in a bathtub of hot water. I know I will especially miss seeing my 2 most favorite boys every day. And I still haven't come up with an answer for the question, "What do you do?" I've said, "I'm a mom" for so long, it's become a defining phrase in my life. 

Maybe I should just answer that I'm a mom in transition. Or a post-graduate mom. 

The sound of silence and change and life as it flies by...not an easy thing. But yet a very normal thing. 

I may need a big box of Kleenex next week.