18 Aug

Cue the Woodland Creatures

snow white

It is a scene that will probably unfold a thousand or more times in our lifetime. Nothing special or exciting. Me with a broom. Him, elbow deep in the day’s dishes and soapy water.

As I swept through the kitchen wearing my sweats and my hair pulled back in that I-haven’t-showered-yet-and-my-hair’s-a-wreck style, I felt invisible. Or maybe hoped I was.

Psssstttttt…

Green eyes sparkling he smiled at me.

I love you.

And then there they were…those butterflies my hunky hubby can still give me. Not the I’m so nervous are those vultures or butterflies (although I did get plenty of those when we were dating!!). No, these are the, how in the world did I land you kinda butterflies. The good ones.

As I stood there and looked at him my sweats and t-shirt could have been a ball gown. Someone cue the woodland creatures and fire up the orchestra,  because I felt like a princess.

Love is a beautiful thing. Steady. Always there….

…and so easy to take for granted.

I think back to those newlywed days, when the nearness of my hunky hubby was intoxicating. How a touch of his hand sent electricity through me…that often just shorted out my brain and made me dumb. His love was all I could want on this earth.

We celebrate 10 years of marriage in a matter of weeks. His kitchen proclamation of love reminds me….we are in love. We are parents, homemaker and manager, we are neighbors, friends, son and daughter….we wear more titles on most days than I can count or would care to admit. But, more than anything else…before anything else…we are husband and wife.

I love that man with everything I have, but I so often forget to tell him. I try to show it in favorite meals cooked, ironed shirts and a picked up house. I try to model it for our children in respect, reminders and commitment. I try to tell others as I sing his praises, write about him in my blog, or plain brag on my man. But, sometimes, the simplest, the most direct just falls by the wayside….the words.

We all need to hear words of love and adoration….whatever the relationship. Parent-child, friend-friend, husband-wife…you name it.  Speak them today. These words of life and love. These words that change moods, battle demons, lift spirits and make hearts beat faster. In whispers or in shouts! In ball gown moments or sweats in the kitchen moments.

Speak. Love. {and cue the woodland creatures!}

 

04 Nov

Our Shabby Chic Love

wildflower love

It is nearly 5 p.m.  I am in sweats, I haven’t showered today and I smell like a combination of sweat and carpet cleaner.

Over the past few weeks I have battled with shingles followed by a cold/bug/system slowdown/thing, keeping me at arm’s length (if not more) from my husband.

And today is our anniversary.

As I try to guide the carpet cleaner over an area rug that slides and moves and flips over, he comes to my rescue. Planting his big ole boots on the corners of the rug my hunky hubby helps me finish this push to clean our home. And I begin to clean the rug he begins to dance. He shakes and gyrates as I clean and laugh. Then he jumps up, lands both feet back on the corners and gives me a view of the same dance from his backside.

I love him.

I think back over our nine years. We were one of those newlywed couples, the ones that always wanted to be together, to somehow be touching…close. I don’t think we were too smoochy in public, although in all truth I can’t remember because somehow I only had eyes for the green-eyed boy I married. I remember spending hours getting ready for our anniversary date…working hard to look good for him.

And I wonder, for a brief moment is romance dead? Did I kill it? Shouldn’t I be showering, makeuping, trying on half my closet only to put on the first thing I picked??

But, then there is this man gyrating in the entry way and I laugh. And I know. Romance isn’t dead….its different….it is intimate and just ours.

As newlyweds we lived our love out loud and in front of everyone. Smooching. Holding hands. Cute. Cuddly. Sickening. (he, he) It was sweet, this blossoming marriage. Our days were filled with each other….because that is all we had.

Then came children, more furniture, a bigger house, more land, church commitments, serving, homeschooling, and so much more. And what was cute and cuddly was tested through postpartum depression; sick kids at 3 a.m.; the death of loved ones; lean months and rough patches.

A few years ago I lamented over the loss of that newlywed stage. Saddened that we just weren’t those two people anymore. I focused on what I thought was lost, not on what we had found.

We found what love looks like when it is refined by the fires of life. That at 3 a.m. we are like a Seal team — silent and on task we combat sick kids, huge messes, and nasty things quickly. That death comes, to us all, and there is no other place to lean but on each other when our hearts hurt. That money will be tight, nerves will be stretched and plucked and life is hard.

I’ll always adore the time we had together when our love was new and shiny. Before life began to “distress” it (think shabby chic here!) a little. I’ve learned that romance isn’t dead…it just isn’t shiny or store-bought anymore. Like these wildflowers (weeds maybe?!?!?) that my hunky hubby put on the breakfast table a couple of months back….our romance is simple, intimate and just for us.

wildflower love

 

Some women may not be moved by little things like chalkboard expressions of love and vases of wildflowers, but I was…am.

Some women may not be moved to laughter and overwhelmed with love at this rug-cleaning Magic Mike moment, but I was…am.

And that’s what I mean.

In the nine years we’ve been married we both have more grey hair, a few more wrinkles (mostly laugh lines!), we have both grown a bit around the mid-section, but we’ve also grown into our love.

I never thought I would get married or be a mother, and I am so thankful that God’s plans weren’t my thoughts. I am blessed beyond measure to be the wife of a man who takes life as it comes, seeks God, laughs heartily and loves whole-heartedly. Here’s to another 60 years, hubby….now I think there are more rugs to be cleaned.

07 Jun

Lessons the Ladies Have Taught Me

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It will end as quietly as it began. In a small Bible study in our home.

For most people the day will be unremarkable, but for me, even the square on the calendar is already full of memories, lessons and an unbelievable cast of characters.

Next week, I’ll teach my last women’s Bible study, putting a period at the end of one of the most beautifully life-changing seasons of my life…serving in women’s ministry. 

I got into women’s ministry, because I thought women needed a safe place to exhale and allow Jesus to love them….and I thought God was going to allow me to help Him love on them. And while, I’d like to think, that is what happened along the way, the truth is women’s ministry changed me, taught me, molded me. This Jesus girl needed to learn how to love and be loved and there were some lessons I had to learn along the way.

Lesson #1 – Where there are women, there is food

Be it a Bible study, a movie night, a retreat or anything else Jesus girls can bring some vittles now. Tables, counters, and plates piled high with deliciousness prepared and served with a whole lotta love and good bit of laughter.

 

Lesson #2 – We all need a place to just be women

Wife. Mother. Sister. Daughter. Granddaughter Friend. Ministry Leader. Executive. Teacher. Bookkeeper. Hostess. Maid. Neighbor. Servant. Helper. Driver. And SOOOOOOO many more. Women wear so many hats and take on so many roles everyday that it is often difficult to just set everything down and exhale.

And the truth is, most of us, don’t create space to exhale in our lives. We push and rush. We forgo sleep and beat deadlines. And we are tired and hurting. Unfulfilled and overworked.

This is where women’s ministry comes in — it gives us a space and place to allow women to just sit — to worship, to pray, to breathe, to feel God. A woman grounded in Jesus blooms in ways that people cannot miss. When women are refreshed and healing. When they are filled to overflow with the sweet truth of Jesus they pour out.

As women ministry leaders and teams it our responsibility to give women a safe place to immerse in the Word, find discipleship opportunities, and receive the love of Jesus from their eternal sisters.

 

Lesson #3 – We have got to get real

In the beginning I wanted women’s ministry to be pretty. Cute little parties. Music. Flowers. Decorations. Prizes. Pretty. But I soon found that life isn’t pretty. And ministry isn’t speakers, programs, or budgets. Ministry is life….it is a couple of Jesus girls looking for answers…for Him.

We need to stop entertaining people and start engaging. We need to be bold and brave, and take on topics like domestic violence, food addiction, parenting. We need to dig into the Word and help women make sense of it, apply it…GET it!! We need to turn off the movies, disconnect the sound system, and get women talking to each other…ministering to each other.

We need to put on our Jesus girl t-shirts and lay ourselves bare. Share our struggles, speak up about what we don’t understand, and pray for each other. No more prayer request gossip line sessions where we write it down and promise to pray later. Grasp hands, ugly cry if you need to, intercession for each other.

We need to learn to pray, laugh, learn and talk with unabashed honesty and be real with each other.

 

Lesson #4 – It is like herding cats

Somehow it doesn’t matter if there are 5 women in the room or 150, women are hard to lead. God harnessed incredible power and put it in women — passion, love, excitement, drive — and wrapped up in beauty, hormones and emotions. Then we wrap it all up our latest Kohl’s super-cheap, wicked-cute sale find.

You have to have the finesse of a well-seasoned politician; the moves of a Super Bowl receiver; the sense of humor of Betty White; the thick, tough skin of John Wayne and the wisdom of Solomon all wrapped up in one broken and flawed girl who is just trying to follow God. Cuz, us Jesus girls, we can have opinions (that we don’t mind sharing), and drama (Steel Magnolias ain’t got nothing on us), and comfort zones (and if you change something or move us out of it you WILL hear about it), and we have IMPOSSIBLE standards (how the church used to do it or how the church the down road did or how it looked on Pinterest).

It’s like herding cats — they go where they want, with claws and a sometimes a bit of hissing.

 

Lesson #5 – If it is not about Jesus, we have failed

 

I don’t care what the topic is. I don’t care what the point of the gathering is. I don’t care why the church/ministry/Bible study/group has decided to do it. If it isn’t about the Gospel — living it, teaching it, breathing it, learning it, sharing it….it isn’t important.

We don’t have to make Jesus flashy or fancy. There need be no entertainment or show. People need Jesus. They need us…the church…the leaders…the Jesus’ people…to live like Jesus works and help them find His Truth for their lives (in Word and in deed).

If we aren’t giving women the chance to learn about Jesus, equipping them to share Jesus in their lives, and loving on them like Jesus (through TRUTH and SERVICE) then we have failed.

“…one thing is needed….which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

 

Lesson #6 – God always shows up

No matter what we plan. It isn’t about us or our plans. It is about God and His girls. Year after year — church after church – event after event — woman after woman I have seen it. When we help women carve out time in their schedules to seek God — He shows up!!

He touches a hand lifted in worship.

He whispers to a weary heart surrendered in prayer.

He speaks in the testimony of His daughters.

He breaks through pain, He repairs friendships, He places the “right” person in our paths.

He is the comfort of a meal cooked for a hurting family.

He is in the laughter when His girls gather.

He is in the reflection of stain glass window when your knees are knocking as you speak.

He is in every detail….we need just look.

And that, really is, what I’ve come to know through this journey. That God is in every detail. That it isn’t our time or talent that make anything successful…it is the pure and holy love of our Savior wrapping around us.  He is reflected in every woman I have been blessed to laugh, cry, pray, talk, debate, learn, lead, follow, study, hike, play, serve, worship,  and love with over the years.

 

 

30 Nov

Love-Shaped Holes

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There’s nowhere to hide when it hangs in your living room.

The one with her name on it.

The one he carved.

 

The one from her favorite store.

There they hang.

Here I sit, a puddle on the floor. Tears flowing down my cheeks, the cold bitter sting of grief.

Christmas has come. It didn’t ask for permission or pause to breathe in my hurt. It has arrived full of sparkle, tinsel, child-like glee and memories that bear painful witness to the holes in my life.

Scented candles, yummy baked cookies, cold crisp air that begs for snow. Yet, it is hard to breathe when grief hangs heavy.

Twinkling lights, flickering candles,  brightly wrapped packages of every shape and size. Yet, it is hard to see when tears blur your eyes.

And as if haunted by memories I’m scared to forget I try not to remember. The faintest trace of a memory and I blink it away…don’t want to remember what it felt like to hold you when my arms still ache from losing you.

I don’t know Christmas without you….perhaps the truth is, I don’t want to.

And my eyes drift to the ornaments that remind me of my why…of our why…of the reason for the season. {as cheesy as it sounds}

The one who hung on a tree, for me.

The one who died on a tree, for me.

And I beg in my heart, Jesus help me to see you as enough. To hold you higher and greater than I hold my grief.

Help me to celebrate you…YOU.

As our children decorated the tree this week, their laughter and excitement nearly hurt my ears. Oh, for just a bit of that bottled!! They meet each Christmas carol, twinkling light, box of decorations, wrapped package and Christmas card with wild abandoned.  Their excitement and love are contagious as they hurl head long towards Jesus’ birthday and the gifts He gives us.

And, even as I grieve, I want that. I want a childlike spirit that chooses Jesus’ joy over tears. That embraces memories and adventures with the same excited passion.

And again, I ask you, my Jesus…will you help me to celebrate You?

Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:4 promise there is comfort yet for me {for us…those who hearts have love-shaped holes}….Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Oh, the sweet promises of Savior who comes close.

As I sit at the foot of my tree, hands clenched, eyes burning, tears falling, I know.

I have a part to play in this mourning-comfort equation. These clenched hands that hold grief like a blanket over a raw and scared heart…they have to let go. Open hands receive grace…receive Jesus…receive Comfort. Letting go of grief, letting go of mourning, allows my sweet Jesus to pour into my hands the blessings of Christmas…of grace…of Himself. And those love-shaped holes in my heart are filled with memories of people who were gifts for a season and promises of greater love and reunion in eternity.

And as I open my eyes, I see…

You see, my grief-filled reminders hang on a tree that stands in remembrance of gifts Jesus gave us. That my grief hangs on our Jesus tree is not lost on me. That this picture of what He has given me is bigger than my heart can take in. This life — full of grace-filled memories, love -filled relationships, God-blessed breaths– this life!! Grief hangs on my tree. So do memories — of trips, travels, loved ones, little hands, my hunky hubby. So do dreams — of  travel, of some days, of my girls, of writing, of ministry.

You see, this Jesus tree, it is a reflection of my life and I can sit and stare for hours at one spot, one piece.  And that piece will become overwhelming, all-consuming for me. Too much. But it is when I back up and see it as piece among many…as a part of whole…not the whole. I remember….I see…

There is much to be celebrated even when grief hangs heavy….especially when grief hangs near. There was life lived in those love-shaped holes, and there is life to be remembered and love to honor. There is grace to share.

And, there, in the midst of it all…holding it all together…making it all stand apart…is Jesus. And I know He knows how my heart feels….for He wears love-shaped holes on His hands for me….

28 Nov

A Tradition We Happened Upon

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It was just the two of us…so in love that the rest of the world just faded away.

Him and me. That green-eyed boy who made me his wife.

 

Our honeymoon was an amazing, extravagant cruise around the southern Caribbean.

We wanted something to remember the trip by…each island…each excursion…each time he introduced me as his wife…each place we celebrated this gift of marriage. We found a Christmas ornament on the first island we visited and thus a tradition began. At each island on our trip we found a Christmas ornament that said where we’d been. They were the beautiful highlight of our sparsely decorated tree that year.

 

Reminders of that trip for years to come….

We do it (or try) on every trip we take now. A Christmas ornament to hang on the tree, something that whispers of trips and love, memories and laughter. And this year, as our kids excitedly yanked each ornament from the bins we heard the “ooh”, the “aw”, the “remember”!! The memories began coming to life and played across the screen of our Christmas decked memories.

Princesses and Pirates….and a magical family trip.

 

The trip to Louisiana that was a walk through family history.

The last trip to a family vacation spot before illness and time changed our family landscape.

 

 

 

There are dozens more ornaments from all over…trips where we forgot suitcases, grieved for loved ones, and enjoyed the scenery. Trips that filled photo albums and family stories. And as each year passes and the Christmas tree bears more and more memories can you imagine the stories, the time…the love? That our yesterdays will decorate our tomorrows is a gift I didn’t know to ask for, to plan for, to give or to receive.

Tonight, as I sit in the glow of the Christmas tree and remember all the moments, all trips, all the Christmas, all the love that shines  into my life I’m sure I will be overwhelmed by it all. Gloriously, gracefully, happily overwhelmed by a tradition we happened upon.

26 Nov

A Defeated Holiday

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I laid in the dark, eyes closed.

Echoes up the hallway delivered the sounds of the holiday…laughter, cups clinking, football on tv, kiddos feet running back and forth, stories, chatter, smack talk, dishes being scraped or piled high.

It was a day…a week…a month…a season…to give thanks and as I lay in the dark thanks seemed far away.

Buried under piles of blankets and cold medications my week of Thanksgiving preparations had been pushed off onto another; one goal, now, to get over it. To be healthy enough to cook for the family that would gather round in days…hours…minutes…..

Super-sized balloons and Rockette kicks filled the living room and my determination pushed me into the kitchen. I was well enough to push through and enjoy this day of my favorite things (or many of them)…cooking, eating, family, giving thanks….living.

And yet as the meal drew closer and the house filled up I found myself fading quickly. I managed to eat a few bites of food and help serve those pies that looked so good.

And then while others were busy I whispered to my hubby, I need to go lie down.

Defeated I lay in the dark.

This cold, strep, flu monster thing had won. I was down and hardly thankful.

But as I laid in the dark, I began to listen to the stories and the laughter. The love that fell from Grandmother voices into child ears. The cheers and smack talk of football fans gathered with coffee and second pie servins. Thanksgiving was filling the house — the scents still lingered, the love was being lived out, and the sounds swirled around me.

And there in the dark, I found something….my thankful.

I’m thankful for our family (near and far).

I’m thankful for this house where we host Bible studies, throw parties, celebrate holidays and live our slice of Jesus.

I’m thankful for grace….the gift of unmerited favor that flows into my life from a God I can hardly comprehend. This gift that allows me to love and serve Him and those He blesses me with.

I am thankful for you….yes, you my friend. Some of you I know and I can think of your sweet faces as I write. Others, we’ll not know each other this side of heaven perhaps, but I pray for you, I dream of you, I write for you, I laugh at my life with you and I pray that you are looking for kisses from our God who loves you so much!!!!

There in the dark of Thanksgiving I felt a nudge in my soul….you’ve got it all, every day, don’t lose sight today. And I had, I had lost sight of all the reasons to say thank you…of the feeling of counting grace.

My grace is sufficient for you…{2 Corinthians 12:9} When I saw my life through His filter the truth of these words NEVER rang so true.

Happy Season of Thanksgiving, my friends.

05 Nov

Who is Flirting with Your Man?

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I watched her tilt her head slightly as she talked to him. She leaned in against the counter, head tilted, laughing a little when she spoke.

She was flirting. With him.

WITH HIM. Him…my husband…she was flirting with him.

I  grew to the size of the Hulk…big, imposing, angry…a force to be reckoned with. {in my head} Outwardly, I stood close by watching, trying my best not to snarl or let on that I was one head tilt away from needing bail money.

And somewhere deep within me a whisper pricks my heart, makes my soul ache. Are you mad cuz she’s flirting or mad because you don’t flirt with him like that anymore?

He never flirts back with her. In fact, he says later he didn’t notice her flirting, and that should be enough to make my wretched, jealous inner witch stand down, but it’s not. I am irritated and wound up, and the more I dwell on it, the more I wonder why I am upset. Why is this nameless girl in some random restaurant {who my husband didn’t notice} causing me to lose it?

That voice somewhere in me really is at the core of what’s bothering me…do I flirt with my husband?

I think fondly back to dating, engagement, and newlywed moments. Times before kids, ministry, bills, family struggles, and life put space between us. Stolen kisses on the way to the car; holding hands across the center console; secret winks and glances across crowded rooms; being excited when he walked in the room; emails sent full of flirtations and plans; late night calls that whisper “I am home, I miss you;” being introduced as “Mrs.” and “my wife” made me giddy and proud.

Love blossomed under showers of flirtations, discovery, interest and chemistry. Electric moments punctuated the every day sentences of our life — his hand on the small of back, kisses under the mistletoe in our kitchen, a hug that lingers in the moonlight.

Perhaps this nameless girl awakened something in me…the drive to be the one that flirts with my man. Do you flirt with your husband?

So here is the mission {should you choose to accept it}: flirt with your husband. Find little ways, every day, to turn his head…make him feel sexy and loved…be the woman who surprises him…the one he doesn’t want to take his eyes off…reassure him that he’s attractive, he’s wanted, he’s important to you…

…play footsie at dinner…

…catch his eye from across the room…hold his gaze…

…walk him to the door and kiss him {like you mean it} before he heads out the door in the morning…

…text him — thoughts, plans, what you are wearing….

…steal kisses…

 

…hold his hand in the car…

…touch his arm while he’s talking to you…

…stand closer, lean into him, linger…

…hang mistletoe someplace unexpected {hey Christmas is coming!} and hijack him…

…wear that shirt he likes on you, or those knickers, and make sure he knows you have them on…

…leave love notes on the mirror, on sticky notes around the house, in his shoes, on his steering wheel…

…flirt on Facebook or other social media…

…offer him a back rub or foot rub…

…greet him with his fav dinner dressed in something skimpy…

…be interested in what he’s interested in…

…do things to make him laugh…

 

So you get the point. I’m sure there are a million ways to flirt. So get to it…I am. Tonight, in mere minutes actually, we are headed out for date night. I will flirt with this green eyed boy who stole my heart. Not because some woman did, but because I have been given the amazing blessing of calling him husband and I want him to know he is loved, adored, attractive, needed and wanted.

I’ve heard it said before, and I’m sure they are right, if you aren’t paying attention to your man someone else will. And so my question is, who is flirting with your man?

16 Oct

A Weedish Offering

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The front door crashes open.

Little hands meet mine. Palms open I receive little flowers…broken, mangled, dry, crushed….beautiful.

I cherish those little yellow flowers, the clover, the grass, and whatever else finds its way into the little bouquets delivered by peanuts with sparkling eyes.

I trim them carefully and place them in vase, with all the loving care the florists use for the most expensive flowers and arrangements.

They look little, broken, dry…almost weedish…in their tiny vase. A vase salvaged just for small little, weedish bouquets. Every time I fill up the vase I wonder if this is the last time. Will they grow out of it next week? Will the somedays when little boys aren’t interested in kissing their mamas and delivering flowers come too soon?

His little love offering to me….

 

I begin to ponder these weeds. That no matter how they look, how clumsily they are delivered they bring joy to a mother’s heart.

I suppose my life…my offering to God…is not much more than this handful of late season weeds.

This sin-wracked life is broken…mangled…dry…crushed.

But as I seek my God, who longs for me to come to Him, perhaps the light cast on my handful of weeds changes. Perhaps as I come to God…as I try to be the woman He made me to be…perhaps my weedishness softens.

In the light of Heaven’s grace…of mercy…of eternity…of a God who knows that my dirty hands clenched tight around this life are trying to learn to deliver all I have to Him…my handful of weeds looks breathtaking, lovely.

You see, nothing matters with out the light of God cast on it. If we are living only to survive, not to thrive and shine. If we are living to fill up on what the world offers, not pouring out what God has given. If we are clutching our lives, instead of offering them up for God to mold, direct and breathe life into. It is an ugly, sad bunch of weeds.

But, oh my friends, how does it change when we are willing to open our palms and hold it all to the One who says, Come!! I wonder does God’s heart swell like mine when little palms deliver little offerings? Does He kiss our foreheads with heavenly glory just as I kiss my peanuts?

I watch my little man run off. Off to find more flowers to deliver. Some will be dropped, lost along the way. Others will be bent, broken, mangled. Some were dry and wilted before they were ever delivered. But for my little man, it is never about the flowers or the run up and down the hill to get them. No, it is about giving them to his mama.

The lesson there for us is palpable….the lump in my throat is too…our life is meant to be lived full of joy and expectancy as we go about the business of living for our God who loves us. Who dotes on us. Who is the beautiful light that changes all we are and all we offer.

What handful of weeds can you offer to your Jesus today? Can you give Him control…trust that He is big enough for your circumstances? Can you serve someone in His name today? Can you tell someone about the Savior who waits open-handed for your weedish offering?

 

 

Father, thank you that see the beauty in my broken, that you receive my offering from grimy hands, that you loved me enough to give me Jesus. Thank you for little peanuts whose simple, unfiltered love teaches me about how I can and should come to you. Thank you for accepting my weedish life and help me to continue to offer it to You. Amen.

26 Sep

We Love You and We are Armed

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Hiding in the bushes, gun laying next to me, camera around my neck I had no idea how the next few minutes would turn out.

Children laying in the bushes and in the car. My brother strategically hidden next to the garage.

We were ready.

Would he be surprised? Would he have fun?

As my hunky hubby backed down the driveway I saw the door open on our van. One foot barely out of the car, hubby was barely home and there was a small child firing a Nerf gun at him screaming “happy birthday!”

Small child running off, my husband quickly made his way to the table on the front walk. Slapped on a birthday hat and picked up his gun. The look on his face told me he was surprised, and he was ready to play.

Over the next hour, our family shot at each other, screamed, laughed and played.

Somewhere in the midst of the “warfare” as I watched my husband run after our children and all of them laughing I began to think of all we have to be thankful for as we celebrate his birthday this year. A father that plays, prays, snuggles, leads, guides, protects, provides and loves fiercely! A husband that pauses in the midst of shooting at his wife to kiss her and say thank you. A husband supports and loves unconditionally.

What better way to say we love you than to shoot at him?? (oh, and, build memories, laugh and have pictures to speak the volumes of fun we had)

Today is my husband’s birthday. We will have birthday dinner, presents and more traditional ways of celebrating. But I think a new family tradition may have been started (we are all talking about just doing it now and then…oh and how much of a marriage workshop it could be!!). The gift of laughter is what I gave my husband this year. Joy.

Father, thank you for the man you made, for the roads he walked in the years before we met. Thank you for his sense of humor, his loyalty, his work ethic and drive to provide for our family. Today, though, more than anything I thank you for the chance to love this amazing man of God you made and a day to celebrate what he means to all of us. Amen.

20 Aug

My Name is Mine

My Name is Mine

I have always hated my name.

Wendy.

So boring. So plain.

In middle school I wanted to be Missy or Melissa. {yeah, I don’t know why}

After reading “Anne of Green Gables” I wanted to be Anne, with an “E“.

In high school Spanish class I chose Antonia as my name, Toni for short. Oh, how I wanted that to stick forever!! Especially when the boy I had a crush on took to calling me “Toni”.

I sought out nicknames, titles, anything so that I wasn’t Wendy.

Flash forward many years. With lightening filling the sky in a wondrous heavenly light show. Josh Groban’ “You Lift Me Up” filling the air. A green-eyed boy said, “Wendy, will you marry me?” My name never sounded so lovely. Seeing the love in his eyes, tasting forever in his words, I saw beauty in my name. Oh, I would never change it…that I might always be Wendy, the girl those words belonged to.

Belonging to my hunky hubby. Being  part of his forever has changed my life. Changed my heart.

As though giving a girl who felt unlovable, a girl who couldn’t imagine ever being anything more than alone, a lifetime of love wasn’t enough. God has whispered more.

 I have called you by name, you are mine… Isaiah 43:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long before eharmony and diamond rings. God called my name. He took the empty name of a cartoon character and placed it back on me like a title. Wendy. I didn’t know that I would grow into that name…that God knew who I was, but He was calling me to become the woman He designed. Wendy.

Years ago, in the days of Anne with an “E”, someone gave me a little card with the meaning of my name on it. It said, “white browed wanderer, seeker of truth.” I didn’t understand it, but I never forgot it. Little did I know that someday I would become a seeker of His Truth…a Bible study teacher whose heart beats to teach others about the Word. About Truth!

When I bowed my life and heart to Jesus. He called me His…Wendy. In that name He wrapped up my history, saw my future and gave me His forever. Forever. You are mine…forever.

Oh, I would never change my name. That I might always be Wendy, the girl those words belonged to.

Then this morning, I was met with this grace. This whisper.

I have redeemed you (Isaiah 43:1)…I have written your name on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49:16) 

Oh, don’t you see, my friends. As sure as the sun rises, God calls us. Loves us. Knows every detail about us. That knowing all that we would fail at, the sin we would wrestle with, our temper tantrums, and all of our shortcomings Christ chose the cross…the nails. Our names are written in His scars. And He calls you by name.

Take a moment today. Still your mind and just listen. That you would rest in that hope. That you might taste forever in His words. Know that the God of the universe, your Creator, calls you “mine“.

Rest in the security that when you come to Christ, your name never changes. You will always be Mine, His girl.

16 Aug

When Grace Comes in Goodbye

goodbye 2

Hands that…

…washed lanterns before electricity

…held guns in war

…held the hand of his bride

…rocked his babies to sleep

…swung a hammer

….seemed still only in sleep

…worked in the garden

…swung a golf club

…delivered meals to those in need

…played cards with his brothers

…hid Easter eggs for hours with his grandchildren

…kneaded bread

…mixed the best ice cream sundaes

…held his granddaughter’s hand as we danced at my wedding

…fed his great-grandchildren

…held his wife’s hand as age and illness robbed her of every memory but those of him

…gripped her hairbrush in his sleep after his love of 63 years passed

…hands that held my heart and shaped my world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even in the final hours of his life, my grandfather’s hands brought me comfort.

Kneeling by his bed side, I fought tears and heartache. He was ready to go. Heaven was readying his spot. But, even as the logic of death and life well lived played in my mind…my heart broke. What would my life look like without my Grandpa? Who would adore me and make me feel like no one in the world could hold a candle to me?

And there in those moments, a breath away from each other he mustered the strength to hug me, to tell me loved me…to rub my cheek with his hands. To say goodbye.

I was blessed to call him Grandpa. And my life will forever be a tribute to his love and what he taught me. And I know, that I know that I know, that God gave me a glimpse of His love in the hands and heart of my grandfather.

How blessed I was to share a goodbye that echoed a life of love. That the Lord would give me a graceful period to end the chapter filled with stories written in the life of a man many knew, most respected, but only a few called “Grandpa”.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

01 Jun

How to Make it from Day 1 to Day 23,044

ring

It is just an inscription.

Words etched in a ring for day number one.

If you don’t know the story, don’t know the numbers, don’t know the love…

…they are just words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staring at my green-eyed boy moments away from “I do” and “kiss your bride”, I thought there would never be love deeper than that moment.

Little did I know, that this was the beginning…the beginning…not the depth of love but the shallows.

That sickness and health and for richer and poorer, would mean wading in. Ultrasounds and c-sections. Drama and deaths. That everyday moments and late night giggles would make our love deeper, stronger…real.

That life would draw love into real light and real difficulties.

That Jesus will be what glues us together when the kids are sick, when the money’s tight, when the calendar is too full, and life is tough.

Standing there I was overwhelmed by roses and dresses, rings and vows, love and future.

I never envisioned myself a bride, a wife, a mother, a partner. Standing there a princess bride staring at my sweet, green-eyed prince I could not see our future or know what love what grow into, the truth of our vows (and the testing they would go through), or that day one was not the peak… merely the foothills.

As I dig through the jewelry box full of old suitcase keys, brooches and clip-on earrings, flashes of my Grandmother dance across my memory.

Then tucked under the flap a glint of gold makes my heart skip a beat….

My grandfather’s wedding band.

“Esther to Paul always 3-19-49”

Engraved with her pledge…always.

63 years they had together.

Her pledge of always…on day one.

I’ve begun wearing the ring on my right hand. A reminder of my grandmother, a Proverbs 31 woman. A reminder of her words in her autobiography about how they made it from day one to day 23,044. “One thing I know for sure is that Paul and I tried to laugh our way through troubles and we prayed our way through emergencies. We learned that helping others it the best way to be happy yourself.”

That’s it, isn’t it? The secret to 23,044 days full of the everdayness of life…prayer, laughter, service….love and Jesus.

This ring, now more than symbol of their years but a daily reminder for me…of the woman I can be in Christ. My grandmother loved Jesus. And she loved my Grandfather. And through Jesus she was a devoted wife, even after her memory was gone and she’d forgotten all of us she still remember him. Her love. Her Paul.

Some day, Lord willing, my hunky hubby and I will have thousands of days behind us. We will have years of love, parenting, and life and Jesus between us. I pray that we still have a spark…like my Grandfather (even into his 80’s) hollering “woo-woo” when my Grandmother would flirt with him. I pray that our lives will be filled with laughter and comfortable silences, memories and plans.

But I pray, more than anything, that the story of our life will point to our Jesus and our dedication to the love He has blessed us with.

This much I know…

…day one was amazing (although mostly a blur)…

…day 2769 finds us more in love with each other and the God who knit our hearts together…

…and we will be blessed to love each other one day at a time.

 

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