All ye that are heavy laden

15Oct2018 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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I’m a visual person. If I can see something, even if just in my mind, it helps me understand it. Years ago, I had a pastor who had the most beautiful way of weaving stories into images. The way she taught left me with the gift of so many comforting visions that I return to all the time.

Images like these:

-Sitting down on the edge of a desert well, the wind tossing my hair in my eyes as dust swirls around my bare feet, looking up and seeing my Savior walking up, smiling, sitting down beside me so we can chat a while.

-Lying on my back in the sunshine, in the middle of a peaceful pasture of green, rolling hills, dotted with fluffy white sheep grazing safely in the sight of the Shepherd.

-Holding my heavy, sleeping child and handing him off into God’s strong, outstretched hands…again, and again, and again….

-Stumbling to the altar under the crushing weight of backpacks filled with heavy stones of worry and fear and overflowing bags of burdens in each hand, (thinking I won’t make it because of the pain searing through every joint and fiber of my being) but making it. And dumping my bags and backpacks and burdens off one by one, each landing hard, with the most satisfying thud! And stepping back and noting how huge that pile is and how light I now feel.

That last one has been coming to mind a lot lately, because I either keep going back and picking up all that stuff I left there for Him to deal with, or I go wandering off and pick up all new stuff because no matter how many times I repeat this journey, I never seem to learn that I wasn’t made to carry it all anyway.

I’m a human, not a pack-mule.

But my mind…my mind! It’s in a thousand places at once anymore and it’s like I don’t remember how to get back to the altar. Like my map app isn’t working on my phone and nobody else knows the address or how to go, either. So I’m wandering around, stumbling under all this bone-breaking weight and I’m tired. Like, there aren’t words for this kind of exhausted. I’m just waiting on someone to come along and walk with me and maybe wear one of the backpacks, carry a bag or two, and together we take all this unmanageable stuff where it belongs.

But I feel invisible, and my loads most certainly must be evident to no one but me, because all these people who know me well don’t seem to see a thing. They keep tossing more things at me, more things on me, hoping they’ll stick…and they usually do because I’m not agile enough to dodge out of the way. And the load I already thought I couldn’t carry is now bigger, along with my despair, because it just keeps coming and coming at me….

And at this moment, I don’t have a visual for what happens next.

Except that I share this and ask aloud:

Am I the only mama who feels this way? I know I can’t be.

And if that’s true, why aren’t we sidling up next to each other and carrying these burdens together to the One who can deal with them? We’ve stopped saying, “I remember how to get there…let’s go.”

But I ask you: has there ever been a time that those words were more needed?

When Moms Cry

21Sep2018 Filed under: Column

When I saw my son calling me just before midnight, I knew it couldn’t be good news.

Breathless, he told me that he just got home and saw that his apartment had been burglarized. Everything he and his girlfriend had of value was gone.

They are just starting out in life. Everything they own would probably fit into the bed of a pickup truck, with room to spare. The thief took their electronics and the Xbox. Not to be outdone by the Grinch, the burglar even took their phone charging cords.

Perhaps the worst loss was the missing cash. They had been stashing money back, to pay the deposits to move into a safer place in a better neighborhood. All that saving–gone.

I can’t even express how bad I felt for my boy. I’ve lived 50 years on this planet and never been robbed. He’s only 20 and already experienced it.

It’s just not fair. You moms know how we are. I’d rather go through it any day than have my child be stolen from. It just makes me sick that there are people out there with such little regard for others that they just take what they didn’t earn.

They created a GoFundMe to ask for help replenishing that rent money, and I don’t mind sharing it if you want to help. We’ve all had moments where we’ve been kicked while we’re down. And as the Bible says in James 2:16 (CEV), “You shouldn’t just say, ‘I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.’ What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help?” Don’t you just love how practical the word of God is, how it reminds us that empty words are exactly that? If you are part of the body of Christ, he gives us these opportunities to be his hands and feet, to show grace and mercy in a tangible way.

Anyway…can I just say that this whole “parenting an adult” thing is so hard? I know alllllll the older mamas in my life told me it would be like this, but like every stage of motherhood, you just don’t get it til you live it yourself.

I don’t care if they’re taller than you, and fully bearded and living hours away: when they hurt, you hurt. When they are in crisis, you want to drop everything and run to their side, whether that’s feasible or even a good idea. You never stop seeing them as your babies.

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They never stop making you cry.

(They also never stop making you laugh, smile or feel joyous, either, so it’s all good in the end.)

I talk about it often, and think about it more, this concept of a child leaving the nest. They do fly away, that’s for sure. But that place in your heart made just for them? It never, ever narrows or shrinks, or reduces in any way. A mother’s love, that thing is forever!

A Goat in Sheep’s Clothing

3Apr2018 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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Confession time: I sometimes worry about my true position in God’s kingdom. I fear that at some point, I will be horrified to find that I never really was one of the blessed sheep, but rather a cursed goat. A clever little goat in sheep’s clothing, hiding coarse straight hair under fluffy faux fleece, a goat that will one day be discovered gnawing contentedly on an old tin can, at which time my shepherd will find me out. My gig will be up!

Here’s the thing. Sometimes, I still rather enjoy the flavor of rust-coated tin crumbling between my molars. Sometimes, my tastes in life look more like the gluttonous goat than the sweet sheep, who contentedly dines on grass alone, every day of its bleating life. Is it possible that we could all be a bit of a goat in sheep’s clothing? I mean really, underneath it all, are the two animals really all that different? I suppose it all boils down to the condition of the heart. I mean, if I am worried about possibly being a goat, doesn’t that very fact that I’m concerned suggest that I might not be as goatish as I fear? When I actually used to BE a goat, I never thought about the fact that I was one. From my dusty old pen, I ate all the garbage I could scrounge up daily, and laughed at the prim and proper sheep on the other side of the field, looking like perfect round cotton balls scattered against the lush green hillside. Perhaps part of me still can’t fully accept that I, this dirty, coarse, metal-loving hooved one actually became one of them.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”

But when it comes right down to it, the whole reason that I doubt or question or fear, is a sincere desire to please my Shepherd. I want Him to pat my pretty curly head and be proud of me. When the smelly piles of garbage I used to enjoy start beckoning to my old goat nature, I question my worthiness before God because this danged head of mine almost always turns toward what used to please me. I usually just walk away, but I still wonder: are true sheep ever actually tempted to gnaw on old cans?

 

(Just a little something I wrote 12 years ago, and rediscovered today. Can you relate?)

Finally Finalizing

20Mar2018 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

May is a good month for my family.

In May 2014, this happened:

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And now, FOUR years, four attorneys, a couple of home studies and enough Ugandan paperwork to reach the peak of Mt. Stanley LATER…

We finally, finally have our court date to finalize our daughter’s adoption!

None of us ever expected it to take this long, but apparently, the paperwork Uganda sends home with adoptees is quite different from most other countries, and it was difficult to find a local attorney who knew what to do with it (although several tried). I think Violet was about to lose hope that she’d ever legally have our last name, that she’d ever receive her citizenship or see her new name printed on a U.S. passport. She had well-meaning (but clearly misinformed) friends who expressed concerns that she would be deported, not understanding that she came here legally to begin with. Four years is a long time to live in limbo. We are all very relieved this stage is almost over!

So we will go to the courthouse on a certain morning in May, and we couldn’t be happier! If you have been part of this journey and would like to be there, let me know. I’ll send you the details and you can come celebrate with us!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

-Psalm 136:1

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Work

4Nov2017 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

I am grateful today for the opportunity to work. To not only contribute significantly to my household financially, but to enjoy (for the most part!) what I do AND the privilege of working from home.

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I know I bellyache a lot on social media about how difficult it can be to work with a million distractions, and that is true. Any Work At Home Mom (WAHM) would agree. The flip side to the flexibility coin is that it’s super-easy to overextend yourself and not get enough accomplished because everyone at home needs something from you.

But the benefits outweigh the troubles, especially on nights like this, when I find an amazing deal on a hotel room and escape on a work-cation for the weekend. It’s midnight, I’m in my nightgown, sipping a cup of surprisingly good hotel lobby coffee (that runs free 24/7) and I’m getting paid for this. I may never sleep!

Anyway…freelance writing is a very feast-or-famine career. I spent several years in famine mode, so the fact that next month, I celebrate my one-year anniversary working steadily for one marketing firm? That is a really big deal!

I don’t take this blessing for granted, though. I know that it could end at any point because that’s just the way freelancing is. But I pray it lasts a long time…and that I don’t do anything to mess up this very good gift from God!

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19