Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dear Sandy Hook Families,

If I could share my heart, here is what I would say. 

Dear Sandy Hook Families,

One moment changes everything.  My story is not your story. And yet it is.  Tragic stories happen to other people, not to people like us. One moment. Double murder of my loved ones. 16 years ago.   So began a journey I never asked for and didn't want to take. And when I hear heart-ripping, horrific stories like yours, my heart can go back to that pain in an instant.  I wish I could take away your pain. I really, really wish I could.  You will cry even after you think you could not possibly cry any more. You will ask 'why' more times that imaginable. You will be he who committed this horrific act, at his family, at society, and even at God. You will wonder how you can go on. You will hold a million unrecognizable pieces of your shattered heart and wonder if it's even possible to be reassembled.

But let me tell you this. It is possible and it does happen. You WILL heal.  Oh, your life will never ever be the same again. Ever. It's reality.  But never, ever, give up the journey of healing.  It is worth taking.  Because despite the fact that I grieve deeply for you, your tragedy has made me realize how wholly my heart has healed.  The joy I presently know in my life - deep joy - is more than I ever imagined possible in those deep dark moments at the beginning of my tragic journey.  Your journey will look much different than mine, but, with hope, I believe you too will one day heal, even if it takes more than a decade.

I offer you this present comfort, there IS a Heavenly Father who loves you deeply, who grieves deeply with close your eyes and crawl up on His lap often. Feel Him wrap his arms around you, hold you, and as he rocks you back and forth, hear him whisper in your ear, 'shhh, shhh, I've got you, I've got you.' And rest right there in the protection of His arms.  And this, Romans 8:26, "The Spirit (of God) helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  So when you have no words, when the pain is too overwhelming, just take comfort in knowing that His Spirit is interceding on your behalf.  And the prayers of a nation, as well as, the prayers of those who are closest too you, are interceding on your behalf too. May you know that God is near. So very near.

I hope on your journey will you be overwhelmed by love and transformed by the power of grace. I trust that your pain will assist you in seeing all the beauty that is everywhere around us.  And I hope one day when you hear of another painful tragedy in the news, that while your heart is breaking immensely for them, you will not only just believe in hope for them, you will also know the reality of hope - joy, once again.

My deepest sympathies, from my heart, to yours...


Saturday, December 15, 2012

This Morning

Because in light of yesterday's tragic events, I am reminded that all we really have are moments...

Daughter waking up early just past 6:30. Me whispering in her ear, "Good, extra snuggle time for me!" Her smiling back, and snuggling up with me on the couch (I'd already been awake since 4:00ish). Glow of the Christmas tree lights reflecting off the walls. Daughter's stillness next to me, except for her beating heart that I can feel against me. Dog snuggled in close by my feet. Her and I giggling over dog's snoring.  Night giving way to twilight, slowing bringing light to our room. Watching silhouetted squirrels playing early morning chase in mighty oak trees. A few silhouetted leaves still hanging onto branches. Whispered conversations sprinkled here and there...about school and Christmas. Silently, I pray for the 20 families who lost sweet children yesterday, as I kiss the top of my daughter's head. Thankful there is a God who heals the brokenness of this world. Thankful that although my heart has known deep tragedy, at this moment I know deep joy.  

Thanks, Sarah, for waking up early today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

To Make the Grinch Grin...

Grinch iphone wallpaperSo...I was subbing at Sarah's school this morning and her teacher pulled me aside and had me read her recent writing assignment.  And it absolutely made my day!! There are so many times I wonder if I'm doing anything right as a mom.  If anything I'm teaching them is sinking in.  And then I get glimpses on days like today that encourage me, that yes, perhaps I am!  

She wrote:
To make the Grinch grin, I would tell him the true meaning of Christmas. I would tell him that it is Jesus' birthday, and we give and get presents to remember the greatest gift of all. I would also play fun games with him. So he does not get mad, I would let him win each time. That is how I would make the Grinch grin. 
Isn't that just precious! I LOVE her heart!! Truth, kindness, and action.

So, how would you make the Grinch grin?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dreamland vs. Now-Land

Excuse me if this blog post is a bit of a's just me, waking up, with thoughts that kept me awake last night, just trying to sort everything out in my heart...

I feel like I'm sitting on a boat, about to set sail for new land...lets just call it Dreamland, where my dreams become reality. Where I am brave enough to leave the comforts in Now-land, in order to pursue the dreams God has placed in my heart.  I mean, He placed them there, right? So I really should not ignore these dreams, right?  We are suppose to change and grow, right? I can't always live in Now-land, because then I would never have the foresight to prepare my children for adulthood, nor plan for retirement one day, nor make provisions for if (gasp) Mike might make it to Heaven before me. (This last one is heavy on my heart right now, as a co-worker of Mike's just lost his wife to a heart-attack yesterday. I.can't.even.imagine.) If I always stay in Now-land, then perhaps I might miss the opportunity for God to use me to be an encouragement to others.

Yet, here's why I can't pull anchor and sail away.  Part of my heart tells me that the only place to live life is in Now-land. I mean, we are never promised tomorrow. Healthy children get sick. and even die. Car accidents occur. Murders happen. Cancer exists. Heart-attacks happen. (Not trying to sound doom and gloom here. I just know that we live in a broken world.) So doesn't it make sense to make the most of today? To be an influence to those in my life today? Why should I focus on tomorrow? I have today to live. To fill up. To influence.  Part of my heart says that if my focus is on sailing towards Dream-land, then I will not be present in Now-land.

So here's where I'm stuck.  Is there a way I can live fully in Now-land while at the same time seeking Dreamland? Maybe Dreamland isn't that far away. Maybe, just maybe if I keep walking in Now-land, living today as fully as I can, then I will stumble upon a bridge...and just a few steps across that bridge is the place where my dreams do become reality.  Perhaps the bridge lets me live fully in today, and yet gives me the opportunity to skip on over to Dreamland. It's back and forth, something that I can do at the same time? Or maybe not.  It's just me pondering here. Wondering. Full of hope, yet full fear. Full of possibility, yet full of questions. Full of dreams, yet full of now. And thankful, I never walk this journey alone. (Thanks, God!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Glimpse into Our Home

Our house was full of laughter tonight and I wanted to pause and remember it! I was trying to post a video, but I'm not having the patience to get it from my phone to my computer tonight, so I will just capture it in words! (The rest of my family will be glad about the no video thing, I'm sure!) 

Tonight's laughter was brought to us courtesy of my friend Lori (who shared this advent activity with me), our church who played the hilarious video on Sunday (edited version, of course!) and Jimmy Kimmel.  If you like this video, he also has a part two, which I think is even funnier!

So here's how it went down, we drew names at dinner, and each of us had to find a present that the person would have a hard time finding three nice things to say about.  We wrapped them up pretty and exchanged them.

Sarah got hotdogs (from dad), Morgan got tuna fish (from mom), Mike got makeup (from Morgan) and I got...drumroll daughter's chewed up laffy taffy (from Sarah). We each had to come up with 3 nice things to say about our present.  We all laughed and laughed some more!  For the laffy taffy, I said, "I love the color yellow, I will think of you every time I look at it, and it smells so yummy!"

After that we let the girls watch the Jimmy Kimmel video (caution, some inappropriateness for kids), and we spent the next 30-40 minutes watching some of his other challenges -- we really liked the "Kids, I ate all your Halloween Candy ones." H.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s. - (And some spoiled kids!)

ADDITIONALLY, I finally feel like I did something right.  You see, my 11 year has expressed more disapproval this year than approval for our family fun/togetherness ideas that I put in the stockings -- and while I know she's changing and growing up and our family traditions will change as she grows, it's just well, caught me by surprise this year. So when she was excited about this idea...well it made me smile! I vow to continue to find new and fun ways to connect with my girls as they grow in each and every season of life! And I will pause and capture the laughter in my heart every chance I get.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quietness (and 'Otherness')

I love my family. Giggly girls. Flirting husband. Clanging dishes around the dinner table. Arguing sisters (which I'm certain is really love in disguise.) Neighborhood girls hanging out.

BUT tonight, spur of the moment, Mike decided to take the girls into town to shop for my Christmas present! And I think my heart smiled a little bit a whole bunch at that news, because that means I don't have to worry about a dinner I didn't have planned, AND I get an evening of quiet at my home sweet home!!! woohoo! So right now, Daisy is snuggled up next to me and all I hear are the clicks of my keyboard.  I know my soul is one that NEEDS quiet. It's where I find replenishment. YET, in this season of my life, it is something that I usually don't make a priority.  HMMM, I wonder why that is.  I might have to ponder this more and remedy it.

So a few things in my world lately...

  • Being a substitute teacher in kindergarten LOTS, means I get lots of sweet pictures from kids.  Usually, I smile and thank them and compliment their work. I take their picture home and just toss them (I mean I can barely keep up with all my own girls work!) But I got one today that I think I will hang on my refrigerator for awhile. It says "I'm sorry for being goofy."  I've been in this class quite a bit this year.  You just know that this kid has a rough home life. I don't know all the details, but you see it in his eyes, feel it in his actions, experience it in responses. I just felt that I need to spend some time praying for him...and this picture will remind me to pause and do just that.  I wish all children had the opportunity to experience a childhood dreams are made of, but the reality is that many do not. 
  • Last night, we had a very special dinner guest.  After years of Darian watching my kids for long weekends, I finally get to return the favor! What joy it was to have a little one hanging at our house last night! We all enjoyed our 'Henry time' and hope we can do it again real soon! (Pretty Please, Darian!)
  • I have an amazing opportunity coming up!  Holley Gerth is an author of several books encouraging women ( She has started a 'God-sized Dream Team' - and I'm on it! The FB group was set up this week. 100 women, pursuing dreams, together. Not just any dreams, God-sized dreams. The FB group has a coffee-shop, sit-around-and talk kinda feel - I've so enjoyed what I've read on there in just the past couple of days! There are some amazing women on there, who I am looking forward to getting to know better over the next several months! Accountability. Friendship. Authenticity. Oh, it's gonna be good. 
  • I've been kinda quiet on my own blog lately because I've had some very time consuming articles I've written over at -- several giveaways for fun Christmas presents -- check it out if you haven't yet! I wrote the stocking stuffer article and the tween gift guide.  They were fun articles to write, but time consuming!  More giveaways coming too! :)