The Other Side

Dear Sweetboy,

It’s hard to be a teenager. We get it. We used to be adolescents too. Shocking! We know.

Having a younger sibling can make navigating this teenage journey particularly challenging. Especially when they do annoying things that cause you to seek refuge in your room for some much needed alone time. And, it gets you nowhere when your sibling is literally holding up her iPod and blasting Adele’s “Hello”, from the other side of your door.

And singing along with All The Feeling.

And every decibel available to her voice box.

Here’s the thing – you’re good at turning her annoyance into a game. We see you making her laugh so she no longer wants to pester you. You don’t realize it, but we notice you beginning to take challenging situations and turn them positive. (See? Singing “You Gotta Think Positive” worked!) You will need this skill every single day, the older you get.

You’re already making choices as a teen that give us reason to believe you will be one amazing adult. And that makes dad and I hopeful for your future.

We know the world is telling you that you need to charge down the hill now that you’re on the other side of childhood.

But, hey… don’t do that.

Give yourself time to grow up. Slow your roll every chance you get. One thing leads to another more often than you can even imagine. We don’t want you to get going so fast that it takes a crash to slow you down.

Rolling along will expose you to Evil. So, when you bump into Evil, because you will, remember to cling fiercely to any joy you can. That’s the antidote to Evil.

Fight for your joy, Sweetboy.

And be cautiously optimistic.

We desperately want to keep you from becoming jaded about the joy to be found in life because there is so much joy to be found, son. Despite everything going on in the world that we could stay angry and disheartened about, and despite the bad things that happen to us and around us, joy is still out there waiting to be found.

If.

If you’ll just do you and be kind.

Stay in your own lane, but be willing to reach across the lines and help anyone who has fallen down in the lane next to you. Do this as often as possible. It helps build bridges.

And relationships.

And joy.

Be kind even when it doesn’t make sense to the watching world. Eventually, this too will build bridges and relationships. And joy.

And when life seems out of control, or people seem out of their minds, or both? Shout out to God.  He is always there, ready to help. His ultimate goal for you, son, is to make you more like Him and help you find and spread joy while you are here on this earth.

Find the joy and chase it, Sweetboy.

It’s there.

On the other side of childhood.

Yes indeedy.

Love,

Mom & Dad

 

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Restore Unto Me

I’ve been calling out to You, Lord.

And you keep answering.

Thank You.

But, Lord, may I ask of you one more thing?

Restore unto me, the joy of my salvation.

Because, it’s missing.  And I feel like I’m chasing it down like a one woman army, lately.

But life is like that – one moment I’m sure of my place within my days and the next morning I plant my feet on the floor and feel the whole thing shift. I know that You won’t leave me or forsake me in this place where I feel unsure, unsteady. I also know that You will be there to catch me and put me back on my feet.

Every time.

You are the surety to my movements.

But, it’s in the calling out for You that I am most surprised, these days. Just the seeming need to blurt out, “I need You, God! I don’t even know why or what for. Please! Be near!”

I feel much like a toddler who has discovered the word “Dada” and has seen the effect speaking this word has on The Hearer. I keep calling it out, over and over. Because, for reasons I can’t fathom, and am not sure I’m ready to at the moment, I am needing my Father in that way.

So, I will continue to lean on You, Abba, and claim it as gift that You answer when I call.

Every Time.

I choose to trust in the reassurance I find in Psalm 143:8,

In the morning let me hear about your faithful love, because I’ve put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should live, because I trust you with my life.”

And You will. 

Because, You do.

Every time.

Without fail.

I will be restored because I believe you are The God of Restoration. Anytime the world swirls, my head spins, or my legs sway, You are there – sure, steady, and strong.

Ready to restore:

              Joy

                  Peace

                          Love

And I?

I want it all.

I need it all.

Yes indeed.

May I pray that for you, too, Friend?

For When You Want to Go Down the Dark Road

I find myself in that halfway point between wanting what God wants for me and wanting what I want for me. Right now, anyway, it sure feels like those are diametrically opposed wants.

In spiritual reality, my want is His want.

But, the flesh wants what the flesh wants, doesn’t it?

It feels easy to share the parts of my heart that are dark, in the hopes that those of you reading with darkness in your own heart will know you are not alone. You all help me remember that I’m not alone. The rebellion stirring around in my heart is no less palatable to my spirit when I share it, though.

As if to prove to the rebellion that it doesn’t belong there, so many times when I go to write out of the emptiness, God swoops in and inspires writing that is more joy-filled. Light floods the recesses and all of a sudden, I don’t remember what darkness I was writing to banish, in the first place.

I want to live so that Your will be done, Lord.

Human hearts being the wretched things that they can sometimes be, I find myself returning once again to the words that I originally intended to get out. The ones my flesh want to write.  I string together the thoughts that most seem like they need to get out. I try to stay on the dark road.

He lovingly redirects me by way of joy. He makes hope overshadow all.

I’m able to stay there – in that hope-filled place, for a time. Inevitably, my rebellious heart starts thumping to its own beat again, completely out of tune with God’s heart. And before I know it, I’m headed back toward pondering the angst within me instead of remembering the joy of my salvation.

How long, Lord?

When I do try to head back to that wallowing place, grace always comes. We know this. Don’t we.

There is a verse that never fails to woo me back toward The Light of All Hope. It truly sings the song of my people.

And, I have a feeling it will for many of you, too.

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.” 

Ephesians 5:8 (The Message)

Brightest_Light_Missindeedy

No more groping along.

It’s the Brightest Light, for me.

Only The Brightest Light.

Yes indeedy.

Cheers to You, Friends!

Over the last decade (and change), since becoming a mother, I have had different friends enter the landscape of my motherhood. Each has contributed something precious and necessary: community, advice, support, assistance, and laughter.

Must. Have. Laughter!

While all of my friends aren’t mothers (hello Jason, Joan, Sarah!!!), I’m focusing in on those fellow mamas today.

Some have come alongside to help me see clearly, when my eyes were too filled with tears to do so on my own. I’m thinking of my sweet friend Ally, who listened as I relayed a devastating fear about Sweetboy, and just held my hand and patiently listened and prayed with me.  And Dana, who hears my deepest anxieties, and prays with me then and there to allay them. They are truly like Job described when he spoke of a friend interceding on behalf of another – “…let him plead with God for a human being, like a person pleads for a friend.” 

Also, I’m thinking of a brave and kind friend, Aimee. We met as part of a weekly playgroup for Sweetgirl when she was a toddler. I was unable to see some obvious developmental needs emerging in her, so focused was I at the time on getting Sweetboy acclimated in our new town. Her words were so kindly spoken at just the right time.

Others have helped lift my eyes to the Right Place, when I forgot to. I think of my bold friend Kim who walked with me through my initial depression diagnosis; and, who weathered a mighty storm, side-by-side with me, with our then shared church family. She truly modeled Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a {sister} is born for adversity.”

I have deep thankfulness for my friends Rae, Kristy, and Erin, who push me and encourage me to keep writing and dreaming and become the best little writer that God wants me to be!

And then, there have been the precious few who have provided much-needed comic relief. My fiery-haired friend Erin, quick-witted friend Janet, and round-table friends Monica and Katie . I welcome the bellyaches from All The Laughter, and their cheerful hearts truly do bring a smile to my face. Often!

These are just some of the friends in my life. And, I cherish each one. Speaking with older friends and family members about their own friendships, I see the eternal Truth and Wisdom in these Words:

Two are better than one, because they have good pay for their work. For if one of them falls, the other can help him up. But it is hard for the one who falls when there is no one to lift him up.

Each new friend that God graces me with, online or off, provides more reasons to be grateful. Whether we share a love of God, writing, or eating – whether we’re commiserating over how hard it is to be a parent, spouse, or not eat – having friends to lift me up is truly a gift that I cherish.

And a special shout-out to those of you in this here blogosphere – you hold a special place in my heart. I can’t hardly express how much joy your comments and encouragements bring to my heart.

So…

Cheers to you, my friends! Thank you for being one.

Yes indeedy!

Here_To_Friends_Missindeedy

 

Community Wide Joy

There are things that spread just as quickly as runny honey on a piece of toast.

One of those things is joy.

Joy can spread like wildflowers if given the right environment to do so.

And what is the right environment, you might ask?

The best place to grow joy, and then spread that joy, is a place filled with hope. Lots and lots of hope!  And you will find that right here, at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study Blog page.

We are a community of women who are seeking real hope for real life. We want to know more about the God who allows the deeper things to change us.  The God who brings us beautiful things like babies, and yet can allow hard things like infertility.

We don’t shy away from hard things in this community.  And, encouragement runs rampant.

Doesn’t that sound like a place you can take a deep breath and feel safe in?

Each week, we gather together to discuss a book, yes.  But, we also do life together.  We rejoice with one another when God provides victory, or relief, or healing.  We mourn with each other in the midst of tragedy or upheaval of families.  And, maybe most importantly, we pray for each other in times of crisis and questioning.

Sharing life’s happier moments right alongside life’s more tragic episodes might seem odd. But, isn’t that the way life is?  All The Easy mixed in with The Hard and shaken all up and poured out, every which way?

Shouldering burdens alongside one another makes hard times more bearable. And, certainly, experiencing others’ joy alongside them makes it seem as if it’s multiplied!

That joy quickly becomes community wide.

Especially in this one!

I hope you’ll consider joining in with this amazing group of people just seeking to find The Hope.

You will seek Him and you will find Him.

I promise.

HE promises!

Yes indeedy.

 Want to see what others think about the word “community”? click the button below.  I hope we see YOU there!

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In the Moment and Beyond

JOY

Go…

Hands that are clapping so fast that I can’t identify the beat;

Feet that run so swiftly to greet me that I can barely track;

Hands that hold so tight, that catching a breath is difficult, if even possible.

These moments of unbridled joy are a beauty to behold, in my little family. I don’t take them lightly.  Because, I know what is on the other side of this word. Here. In this house.

So, when you, little 5 year old, soon-to-be-six, squeeze my ample cheeks between your hands and squeal with glee over some inside joke, I burst.

Each time that you, ten year old, soon-to-be-eleven, wrap me in a hug atypical of your age, I marvel.

And as you, husband, with the hands that work hard all day to provide for us, caress my cheek and report of your thankfulness for all of this. For us.

It is then, that the joy takes over. And lingers. Even after the moments have passed.

The joy in knowing that each of you love me so, yes. But also in the understanding that you, too, feel it beating inside of you.

Even if for a moment.

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and my writing friends over at Five Minute Friday.  Join us to see what others shared about the word “joy”. And, maybe, to share your own, too? Set a timer for 5 minutes. Pour out your heart.  It really is that simple. There is just one rule: You must encourage the writer before you.  Click the button below to join in.

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Living in The After

We celebrate Sweetgirl’s 5th birthday today (Friday).  So, I’m up late preparing.  I thought I’d take an extra 5 minutes to write with my friends over at Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday community.  I’ve missed them so.  Click the button below to join in or to read what was written in a frenzy of unedited heart-to-fingertip-to-keyboard minutes.

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AFTER

GO…

He_Is_Risen_Missindeedy_Blog

It’s taken far too long for me to exhale. Moving into new diagnosis and new stages of development and awareness and territory.  I realize, now, that I have held my breath for far too long.  My days of mothering, loving, moving in and through and maybe, most of all, my days of Dark, have caught up to me.

After I exhale, I realize that what I needed is not what I had thought at all.

It is not more hours.

It is not more cooperation.

It is not even more love.

What it is, that I need, is to recapture the joy.

There is joy in the morning.

And I had forgotten.

It took a Sunday of rejoicing and pondering what all happened after the pierced nails wouldn’t hold, for me to get it.

He did that so that I could do exactly this.

And that?  That is cause for joy.

Oh, yes indeedy!  And I am going to slather myself in the joy of this rememberance.

For it is a time of celebration.

A birthday.

And, a new beginning.

And, also? A realization, and no small one, that because of what was accomplished after that horrendous Friday at Calvary, I can joyfully go about my days.

No more holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It already has.

And He won.

I forgot.

But I remember, now, that I’m living in The After.