March 30th, 2016
When he left for work this morning,
did he realize the significance of the tools he carried?
Was he dreading the long hours on his knees, steadying himself with only an elbow placed firmly on a sometimes shaky leg?
Or was he able to wrap his mind around the responsibility he held in his hands?
His work would be seen by hundreds in the years to come…………….and even the slightest slant in the paper or misplaced hole could destroy the rock and cause the lettering to be off………..
His work today would change everything about what the world would see tomorrow.
There was something very special to me about walking by this man as he performed such a significant task.
On his knee, meticulously drilling………………
dust flying as he carefully created space for letters to hang
which would eventually spell out the name of this Christian college.
I was moved as I watched him work……………………
A well thought-out plan
When history is being hung every decision matters.
As I approached the sign, he turned toward me,
and I had to comment on the beauty of his work.
Of course I asked if I could take his picture.
He smiled and I hope he knew in that moment just how much he mattered…………..
how much his work was appreciated.
All work deserves recognition…………
Doesn’t everyone need to know they’re changing
something about tomorrow
by the work they’re doing today?
A row of letters waited…………………
Their position on the wall would be determined by the hands of this man………………..
this man who may have showed up for “just another day of work” only to learn he would be hanging history for years to come.
I couldn’t help but think of the many things in life we may be called to do today………………….
Feed a baby
Change a diaper
Clean a bathroom
Cook a meal
Sit in a waiting room with a friend
Write a note to someone who is hurting
Create a lesson plan
Take someone’s temperature
Make a phone call
Text a friend
The list goes on and on of the many little things that may add up to make our day,
but how different these things would seem if we saw each of them as etches in a rock…………..
the hanging of history.
slips out and slips by,
sends dust flying and
changes every single thing about tomorrow.
Today, don’t underestimate your worth.
You’re a hanger of history………………..
And when history is being hung every decision matters.
I walked into my writing room this morning,
and the light coming through the window seemed to sparkle as it hung in the air,
cascading all the way to the floor.
I had to laugh as I realized it was actually sunlight reflecting suspended dust that was causing the beauty in that moment.
Dust, hanging in space, catching light.
Isn’t that what we all are????
Only God could take something so simple and create something so complex.
Who else could give the task of reflecting His light while impacting history to something we thoughtlessly sweep into a pan and toss away almost every single day?
The devil whispers,
You’re only dust. Stay focused on your frail existence.
You’re my child, created in my image.
Shine for me and make the world a better place.
Reflect My light.
Hang beautiful history.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
March 25th, 2016
As I walked through the dollar store in search of everything from saline solution to a belated birthday card,
I passed the Easter basket supplies and couldn’t help but remember the many years of egg hunts and early morning basket fun with all of our kids………….
But before I could even begin to feel a little sad,
I turned down another aisle and bright silk flowers caught my eye.
A different emotion immediately welled up inside me as I stood in front of the only Easter gift I can ever give to Nick and Adrienne.
I picked a couple small bouquets and placed them in my cart.
On the way home, I stopped to visit them.
It’s been a while since I stood there……………..
and I had to take a couple pictures.
I remember thinking, “If anyone is watching me, they are probably worried.”
Who takes photos of tombstones as if they are capturing a new memory with their children?
I didn’t care who happened to see me though;
and to be honest, I didn’t care what they thought if they did.
It was one of those moments when I felt a little anger stir………………
anger towards anyone who would judge a grieving mom or not take time to cherish the meaning of Easter.
Victory Over Death
Most the time I feel compassion for people who don’t accept Jesus as God’s Son,
but yesterday I felt angry.
When you’ve lost a child, Hope carries you the rest of your life;
and I guess yesterday I felt like anyone who doubted the power of the cross was pulling the legs right out from under the One who carries me……………
and when He falls………………
I fall too.
So my camera and my heart both snapped yesterday.
Grief took a turn I wasn’t expecting as I stood and admired the bright flowers on a grey day.
Easter is my bright flower and the empty tomb is its vase.
Doubt the beauty and the power of either one to hold life together after tragedy,
and you might as well be kicking me while I’m down.
Mock Jesus or Christianity,
and you are mocking me.
And that hurts.
I returned home, old flowers in my trunk and an old way of looking at death in my heart.
I felt the power of the resurrection stirred inside of me in a way it hadn’t been stirred in a long, long time.
Like a protective mom, I was ready to stand up to anyone who dared make light of His life, death, and resurrection.
Little did I know, God was planning to visit the very room in which Nick died just a few hours later;
and remind me at an even deeper level of how alive He really is.
I had a photo shoot scheduled for 5.
We were hoping for some outdoor family pics,
but rain brought us all inside for the whole session which is exactly where God wanted us to be.
I fixed up a make-shift studio in the family room that used to be our garage.
The room our town helped transform into a quiet place for Nick to escape the world of visitors in his last few months of life.
The room where friends and family gathered to usher Nick from this world to Heaven…………..
humming as he took his final breath.
I love that room so much and even though I rarely say it out loud, I always feel close to him when I’m there.
As the sweet family arrived, they carried in all sorts of Easter props and we began setting things up.
At one point, the grandmother was asking her little granddaughter to look up as I took a photo and said, “I have a story to tell you when we’re finished.”
I remember thinking, “I’ll bet she has a photo of her son in this same position when he was a little boy,” and I really didn’t think about it any more……………………..
until my camera fell to the ground, and God got my attention.
As I picked it up and began to take photos of this same little girl in a basket of eggs, I realized something was wrong.
When I looked at my preview screen it said, “Wait for camera to quit recording,” and as the photo appeared on my camera, I saw this:
I took several more photos and was slightly panicking as I realized that in the fall my camera had somehow been bumped into “effects” that I didn’t even know it had.
I took a minute to study my camera’s buttons and figured out how to get it back to the proper settings, but I was amazed at the photos my camera had taken that looked like colored pencil drawings…………….
As I showed them to the family, we all noticed Bella was holding an empty Easter egg toward Heaven…………
and that’s when the grandma begin to cry and share her story a little earlier than she had expected.
A story I had never heard even though I have known this sweet lady for many years.
Through her tears, she told me she had lost a baby thirty-two years ago.
Ever since the loss, she has had a magnet on her fridge of a little girl in a blue dress looking up to Heaven………………..
and even though she was never able to see her own baby, this photo has been her way of feeling connected to the life she lost so many years ago.
We knew in that moment that God had created the image she was longing to have of Bella.
Bella looking toward Heaven.
But in God’s mighty way, He created a photo that was not only unique
but also deep in meaning.
The lone empty egg clutched in her hand and aimed toward the sky was like a gift from God saying,
“My Son has risen! The tomb is empty! Death has no power over you!”
Later that evening, the grandma messaged me and I just happened to have my phone on my lap as it buzzed and before I could even open the message, I saw the screen………………….
I had to screenshot this message back to her and tell her about Nick.
And about what 7:11 means to our family.
It was as if Nick was letting us know that Heaven is so close…………………..
and death truly has no sting.
I looked at the photo of Bella again and noticed that a small butterfly was off to the side…………..
a prop Bella had been playing with and must have dropped right there earlier in the shoot.
Another whisper from God…………………
“I want to transform you.”
“I want you to be new!”
Later, Bella’s grandma messaged me and said,
“There’s even more to this story…………….
Bella was born at 7:11!”
Then she wrote these words,
“Crazy thing is, this is the first time in 32 years that I am at peace with the loss of my precious girl.”
That’s the power of the Easter story………………..
The meaning behind empty eggs and an empty tomb.
The reason this Friday is good even though it’s also very sad.
There’s nothing about it we like……………….
but there’s everything about it we need.
Dying to self is the only way to really live forever.
And don’t we all want to live forever?
This morning as I was reading in I Samuel,
my heart was hurting for Hannah.
Longing to have a child for many years, she entered the temple brokenhearted and unable to eat.
As she was crying, something must have happened inside of her because the story goes on to say that after everyone else had finished eating and drinking,
“Hannah stood up.”
I love that image…………………
A broken woman standing up.
I love the thought of Hannah finding a strength I’m not sure she even knew she had,
and I love that in that moment of supernatural strength she made a vow.
A vow that if God gave her a son she would dedicate the baby’s whole life to Him.
I think of Mary at the foot of the cross so many years ago and how she faithfully raised the Son of God and then had to watch Him die such a horrible death.
There came a point on that anything-but-good Friday so long ago that Mary had to choose to stand up and face her anguish head on, trusting God in spite of her pain.
Hannah didn’t know if God would answer her prayer and Mary didn’t know the tomb would be empty in three days,
but they stood up anyway.
We know so much more than Hannah or Mary ever knew,
and I believe we have to stand up today.
I’m praying this morning for all women who are in anguish over any kind of longing or loss.
We have to choose to live.
We have the power to walk on any kind of eggshells this world might throw along our path,
because eggshells simply mean the eggs are empty……………….
and empty eggs should always remind us of the one empty thing that changed this world forever!!
Be transformed today by the power of the Easter story.
Don’t walk one more day without the Hope of Him who conquered death once and for all.
Walk in victory.
You’ve heard this many times before, but I have to say it again,
It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.
But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Cor. 15:55-57
Who drives a vehicle in this kind of shape in city traffic and doesn’t expect to be noticed?
Bent to the point of breaking.
Held together by materials not normally found in a vehicle-manufacturing assembly line.
Rear view blocked by plastic and duct tape.
An accident waiting to happen………………again…………….
because there’s no hiding the pain of past accidents when you hold on to something like this.
And then there’s me.
Often this bent………….
this haphazardly held together…………
unable to look back clearly…………
an accident waiting to happen…………
because I’m holding on to something.
Something that needs to be released.
Pried from my grip.
The list goes on and on of all the things I’ve been guilty of “holding on to” much longer than I should –
as if holding on to them makes them safe.
The truth is,
I’m dangerous when I hold on to feelings of dislike or anger or any other negative emotion.
I’m like a truck held together by screws and wood.
I’m like a truck with no back window.
There’s no hiding the ugliness of clinging to things that make me feel so broken.
Thoughts creep up and words spew out and before I know it,
I’m the one causing the pain.
I’m the one forgetting the past and how I’ve been the one who was so wrong…………….
time and time again.
Maybe humility comes from looking in the mirror and seeing the bent and broken side of my own life.
Maybe it’s my own “selfie” I need to critique.
Maybe it’s finally seeing all that needs to be released from my own grip that makes me realize I’d better only be holding on to things that are carrying me in the direction I want to go.
When I wrap my mind around just how messed up I am,
I’m finally able to love more deeply and forgive more quickly.
I’m able to see the brokenness in others not as a fault but as a common bond.
Because we are all so broken.
And maybe, just maybe, the desire to take a picture of someone else’s vehicle that seems so out of place on a city street turns into shame as I realize someone could easily be taking a picture of me………………
and pointing out my flaws.
It’s a complicated world we live in.
We get hurt by the actions and words of others
then turn around and hurt someone else by the very things we do and say.
We are disappointed by the decisions others make
then walk away and make poor decisions ourselves.
The tightrope of expectations I put on others
becomes the very balancing act I hate in my own life.
I’m so glad Jesus sees the broken-to-the-point-of-breaking side of me and says,
“I love you………. still.”
I’m so thankful His mercy holds me together when my boards break and my screws fly.
I’m so thankful He sees my past and says,
“Don’t look back any more…………..”
I’ve got a long way to go in becoming the person I want to be,
and I’m so thankful today for broken trucks still barreling down roads…………………..
and how they remind me of my own brokenness and the truth that I need to be sure I let go of every single thing that is keeping me from moving toward the person I want to become.
Close your eyes for a minute.
Think about the people in your day-to-day life.
Are there people who have hurt you?
let you down?
Release the hurt and pain today.
And in that release,
release them to be loved by you.
After all, we can only be loved and forgiven and understood at the level
to which we are able to love and forgive and understand others.
Stop taking pictures of the brokenness around you
and begin noticing all the places where you need to be restored.
Look in not out.
First clean the inside of the cup and dish…..
I knew the minute we passed this truck that God had something to say to me………………
I just wasn’t sure what it was until I started writing.
Forgive me, Lord.
I am so very broken.
Help me let go of all the things that are unable to carry me in the direction I want to go.
March 15th, 2016
This little dandelion caught my eye as I waited to take senior pictures for a friend of mine’s son.
Isn’t life so much like this lone flower?
But the seeds of this flower………………….who can ever imagine how far they will blow????
I sort-of feel like a visitor here today.
Blogging hasn’t come easily lately, so I’ve chosen not to force it.
I’ve stepped back a bit…………….
just to see what happens.
Did I really think the world would stop spinning if I didn’t post words?
I still have a lot to learn, but one thing I know for sure is this:
Forced writing is a lot like a fake smile.
And a fake smile gets you nowhere………..fast.
I’ve waited for a moment when I felt I had a little something to say,
and Adrienne’s birthday feels like a perfect day to speak.
Birthdays are usually filled with big plans.
It’s hard not to wonder what we’d be doing today if Adrienne were still here with us………….turning 24.
Would she be married?
Would she live near or far away?
Would Erich and Evan change their plans to spend the day with her?
I thought we were done with our child-producing years when Adrienne entered our lives, so there’s other questions that pop into my mind today too.
Would Todd even be on this planet?
Would Japan know of his smile and his beard?
Would Nick and his brave fight with cancer be part of our family’s story?
Would Olivia Faith-Pallavi be our sweet girl in America
or would she be someone else’s sweet Pallavi somewhere else in the world?
These questions don’t enter my mind often,
they’re dancing around in my head as I think about the reality that Adrienne Annabeth’s short little life changed so many lives forever.
She’s now spent almost as many years in Heaven as I had been on the planet when she became part of my life story.
She knows so much more than I’ll ever know while I journey on this planet,
and her birthday seems like a perfect day to stop everything and just say,
to my first little girl………………..
my cuddle bug for six short weeks.
Thank you for teaching me, when I was such a young mom,
that life is so very fragile and every single breath is a gift.
Thank you for showing me that life isn’t always easy and it’s rarely fair,
but it’s always worth it.
Thank you for helping me realize I was much stronger than I had ever known or believed before that morning you left us,
and that I could walk again after being knocked flat down.
I could even run.
Not because I was anything special,
but because I had a Father who believed I was.
And He had plans far beyond my pain………………
Thank you for introducing me to pink and bows and frilly dresses…………………
and preparing the way for Olivia to join our family.
She would have loved you so much,
and I believe one day you will get to talk and laugh together
in a way my heart and mind can barely comprehend this morning.
Thank you for being Evan’s “Adjun” and Erich’s “Adwee-Anne”.
You impacted their little lives in bigger ways than I’ll ever know,
and I believe you’re with them……………today………….
in Boston and Dallas.
And that makes me smile.
Thank you for being Todd’s big sister he has yet to meet.
There wasn’t a day I held him as a baby that you were far from my mind,
and I know he carries a piece of you with him……………
and will carry you across the ocean time and time again as he shares God’s love with others who have loved and lost in different ways.
Tsunamis or SIDS……………
grief comes in all sorts of waves.
Thank you for removing the fear of death from my soul.
I was such a fearful child and young mom,
and you changed me.
From the inside out,
you shifted my view of life.
Thank you for preparing me for Nick’s fight with cancer.
You were there with me every step of the way,
reminding me of God’s faithfulness in my past pain.
Your little life paved the way to a harder road.
And gave me the courage to keep walking even when I wanted to lay right down and quit.
Because of you I know death has no victory………………..
But God does.
Because of you, I face today with a smile that is so “not forced”………………….
I smile because I know that even though this life is fragile and fleeting
God’s plans extend far beyond the walls of time.
Even though I’ll never understand the tiny gift of you that He gave and then so quickly took away,
I could never say “thank you” enough for being part of my story.
You are my flower, Adrienne.
Here one minute.
Gone the next.
But the seeds of your life……………..
Adrienne, my sweet baby girl,
Happy birthday in Heaven.
I live every day longing to hear the words,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Words you heard long before your mommy.
Thank you for teaching me to live for them too.
Thank you for being mine……………..forever.
I love you so much.
Birthdays are usually filled with big plans,
but God’s plans…………….
could they be any bigger than His??