Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hope Held

(If life was a musical, I'm pretty sure this song would accompany this post.  You can hear it at the bottom of the blog, too.  Just follow the link.  You'll be glad you did...)

I’m not sure about you, but my heart held Christmas differently this year. 

Like many of you, I cried openly to news programs and interviews of parents and law enforcement still trying to make sense of the heartache unfolding in a small Connecticut town, hoping it wasn’t true.   And when the 25th came, I couldn’t help but remember the twenty-seven seats around dinner tables in Newtown that were empty this Christmas.   Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals sat under trees, unopened.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

I couldn’t wrap my mind around the mom, who just hours earlier had made breakfast for two littles - now desperate to find them in the faces of the scared students filing past her.  She embraced her daughter, and then waited again.  She searched.  She traced the outline of each child, but her son’s gait never trailed the pavement.

He survived, miraculously found an alternate route to safety.  A trembling mother’s empty arms were filled.

Some years back another young mother’s arms cradled a son.  There was no school shooting that day, but despair hung thick and heavy in hearts, nonetheless.  And just in time, when we thought we’d never see His form, He exploded to our world and caught us up in His embrace…as a baby.  His hands were small and His breath, shallow.  And the cup of our hearts ran over.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."


Empty to full.  All because of a child.  All because of a Son.  All because of a little baby in a humble stable, held by an obscure momma.  All because God would not stop looking for us.  Tracing outlines and searching faces, He wouldn’t rest until we were home.  He couldn’t give up.  Because we’re His.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. 

Emmanuel.  Rescuer.  Ally.  God with us.  Hope…victorious and near.

In two days, we will welcome a brand new year.  And my heart is holding it differently, too.  With more tenderness.  More heart.  More love.  Longing to grab hold of each day and live whole and well.  I don’t know what opportunities or heartaches await, but I do know that Hope has come.

I hope your Christmas was merry.  I hope your hearts and your New Year are full.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

May.  It’s been since May. 

Holidays.  Vacations.  Birthdays.  Anniversaries.  Sunrise.  Sunset. 

Seasons have changed.  Our home address has, too.  The music player at the bottom of this blog now has to be opened in another window to play.  

The space between Then and Now has been full.  And I feel like we need to reacquaint ourselves.  To sit over pots of coffee and catch up while littles interrupt our every three sentences with a parade of dress up clothes and “Mom-can-you-help-me’s” and breaks of laughter.

We’d join in, you and I, cuz those little people remind us to play.  And eventually we’d get caught up.  ‘Cuz we juggle and adjust.  Catch and release.  We make room.  We welcome-mat each other and the fragments of life shared, moving ever onward.

 Tennessee.   Our annual May family trip, ten years strong.
I love my sisters.

The woods and trees and hiking that slay my heart every May.  I inhale and sigh just looking at this picture.

Summertime littles.  

Our Eden turned FOUR in July.

And our Maizy turned ONE in October.

Jon and I celebrated NINE years in August.

And my little brother got married in November.

We welcomed TWIN nephews, born in a country on the other side of the planet, celebrated madly in our hearts.

The sunrises in our new town are stunning.

And the sunsets are not to be outdone.

Trips back "home" to visit family and friend-family are sweet.

And creating new memories with friends in this new place has been, too.

And once we caught up, we’d celebrate.  ‘Cuz it’s Christmastime.  The gift of hope-restored has come.  And that kind of hope reaches out to grasp hands with the New Year.  All things fresh and possible.

This blog space will be changing, shifting in January.  White canvases.  Clean slates.  Suns yet to set and rise.  And I’m really excited about what will come.  All things new.

I’ll be back next week with a Christmas-specific post.  I’d love to welcome you back here one last time, and then move on together.  Join me?

Happy Tuesday to you and yours.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Knotted and Tangled

I spent this past weekend cheers-ing new beginnings with my sister and moving her things into her new home.

We sorted and arranged, cleaned and unpacked.  We spoke of future memories to be made.  We painted her walls with the happy colors of laughter.

After the flurry of a busy Friday and Saturday and time apart from littles, Sunday's wake-up-slow start next to a baby playing with her feet refreshed my momma-heart.  I drank in coos and "da-da's."  I snuggled her close and breathed her in.

I sipped coffee plastered next to a little boy in pajamas.  We shared ear buds over Mumford & Sons and smiled in that quiet morning way.

I high-fived a not-so-little-girl who stayed in her bed the night before.  And relished the happy ways she shadowed me around the house.

And as we slipped from morning to day, I continued to unwrap it all because presence is a gift.

There's a story of a young woman in the wake of tragedy, freshly widowed, who packed up boxes and moved to follow her mother-in-law.  Friends.  Family.  Hometown.  Familiar.  All left in pursuit of hearts together, near, close.  And I love her words:

...Ruth answered, “Don’t force me to leave you. Don’t make me turn back from following you. 
Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, 
and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and I will be buried there with you. 
May the Lord strike me down if anything but death separates you and me!”

When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she ended the conversation.

So both of them went on...

RUTH 1.16-19

Both of them.

I'm not sure all Ruth thought about before she left home.  I imagine she hugged childhood friends a little closer and kissed family goodbye through tears.  Perhaps she walked around the home she shared with her husband and ran fingers down door frames, memories playing out like scenes from a movie in her mind.  I imagine it was hard to leave.  But the alternative, the thought of being distant, far from Naomi was more than her heart could carry.

I've heard stories of Siamese twins, born to the world sharing a vital organ.  And while some cases are operable, the oneness of the two separable, some are not.  It's life shared together or death.  I imagine the bond between Ruth and Naomi something like that.  One heart, joined, overgrown, inseparable even by the most delicate of surgeries.  Together or death.

And their bond merely echoed one that was planned before either of them were born, one that would find its way to Earth's door frames long after they gave their bodies to the ground.

God left heaven to be near us.  He packed up His power and strength and crammed holiness into the box of humanity.  He ached to be close, to be present, to unpack His dreams for our lives and hang love on our walls.  Immanuel: God...tangled and entwined and inseparably...with us.

When I climb for perspective and reassess direction, when I check my heart's compass and make sure it's still pointing heavenward, I think of the story I want to be written and retold of me.  I want it to have packing tape and U-Haul's penned in the lines.  That I left what I knew.  That I chose to stay close, to Siamese-share His heart, to remain knotted with Him forever.

I imagine that no matter where we walk today, there are hard things to goodbye and leave behind.  Maybe habits or substitutes.  Self-protection or fear or anger.  Things familiar and safe.  Immanuel-God, aches to be near.  He packs boxes and comes.  He walks alongside.  Present.  With.

I hope He finds our hearts open before Him.  I hope He find us determined to follow.  I hope we pack up and say with Ruth, wherever You go, I will go, and wherever You stay, I will stay...

I hope, in every line, our stories read, So both of them went on...  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Club Life

Jon and I are a part of an elite club.  A three-kids-three-and-under club.  And like bikers camaraderie with fists on the open road, we spot and acknowledge those among us across a restaurant or in the diaper aisle at Target.  We lock eyes and swap 'sup nods, knowingly.  We smile, 'cuz we get it. a little bit crazy.

We encourage independence and clean up messes.  We read books and listen to stories on repeat.  We play-date.  We lose track of time.  Sleep ebbs more than it flows.  Patience stretches thin.  We cry.  We worry.  We regret and "I'm sorry."  

And all the while these little people, these life-lovers, coax and remind us to notice and enjoy the world.  To escape the weight and worry.  To love today, this day, with wide-open heart.  

To laugh.

To find fun.  

To explore.  And discover. 

To drink deep the beauty of a place.

To slow down and be close. 

And to awe over the magnificence of it all.  

Live in the sunshine, 
swim in the sea, 
drink the wild air.


Join the club.  Be little.  Look for fun.  And laugh.  Hold those you love close.  Live a bit crazy.  And love today, this day.

Happy Friday, all!