Tuesday, October 31, 2023

precious last words

 Dear Uncle Leroy,

 It's hard to find the words to tell the story of well over a decade of  being loved so well by you. You know how many times I thanked you for all the memories + you’re  legendary status in our family. From your love for my beautiful aunt, who you adored, teased and would truly do anything for, to your love for my kids, for David and for me personally. This month, while the leaves turned and blazed and fell we said goodbye to you earth-side. You hold a very deep + special place in our hearts. You loved us in a way that changed us + brought healing to our hearts. I remember and picture you in my minds eye, being the tickle monster and fun uncle one moment and  in the next moment I can see each one of my babies holding your face in their hands as you were tender and gentle and safe place for all of us. I will always remember your deep concern for me in the years that my own health was wavering. I can see see you looking me straight in the eye and telling me that you thought the world of me and my family and all the good things you saw in us. Thank you for saying those things out-loud, I wonder if you know how much we needed to hear them. Tears of graditude well up again, as I think about how dearly we will miss you + what an honor it was to be loved by and love you. 

Your last words to us are such a gift. I am going to leave them here for my children and their future children to remember: 

" You know I would still do anything for you...

So much laughter...
I have something important to tell you...

You can always pray for me...

A miracle...

It's just sweet, very sweet."

Friday, March 11, 2022

where to start

 I don't know where to start and I don't know what to say.

I just read this poem by Mary Oliver and I am feeling every word of it to my core.

" I tell you this

to break your heart

by which I mean only

that it break open 

and never close again

to the rest of the world. "

  I feel the overwhelming magnitude of what I need to process after years of neglecting the practice of writing down words. Writing was something so near and dear to my heart since I was a girl.  

  Random, disconnected thoughts swirl and blur across my mind, such as there is nothing more beautiful or rewarding than joining God where He is at work, because our good God is always working for the good. Thoughts of how proud I am of my kids. For boldly and unapologetically being who God has made them to be in our home. And for all the ways I want to learn how to the kind of Mom who points them to Jesus with my words and actions and love but never tries to take the place of Jesus in their lives. Thoughts of how undeserving I am of the husband I have been given and his patience and acceptance of who I am and in letting me have a voice in our marriage and family over the years ( that's not the culture we were raised in ). Thoughts of all the ways my family and the world at large is aching and groaning under the weight of shame and guilt for things unspoken for too many years, and for the fall-out and trauma caused by the consequences of bitterness and control in small and large ways across, not just individually but across all of time and space. 

  Thoughts of how Jesus always comes with healing in His hands, how by grace, He longs to erase the spiritual effects and consequences of all of that. To love us intimately, to win our hearts, and to walk with us in and through the questions and mystery of all the wilderness seasons. Through a lifetime of hurt and pain and suffering, the world over. 

  I want to make the time to go back and write my story down. A love story so beautiful but one that I feel I only know so little of. As a little girl I think I could have seen Jesus through a very different lens than I did but I somehow mercifully,  I was able to see Him for who he really is, full of grace and truth and beauty that makes me feel this grace and forgiveness and freedom should all be too good to be true. From a very young age until this day, I still believe in the Jesus who loves me because the Bible tells me so. Of course I have veered off course and gotten stuck in my sin and pride and independence but I believe my faith wavered over the years mostly when I felt I needed to perform and prove my love, instead of living from a place of belovedness. Which leads my heart to ask: How do I love well? How do I treasure Jesus? By loving and treasuring others well. But I don't have what it takes to do that. Exactly. Always. But easier said than done. My daily, moment by moment dependance on Jesus is where it's all for me and acceptance  that in my weakness, because of the power of the Holy Spirit I am strong. To embrace the upside-downiness of it all.

Life > Death

Light > Darkness

Healing > Brokenness

Mercy > Judgement 

Forgiveness > my sin

Hope > Despair 

Beauty > Ashes

Praise > Mourning

Freedom > all my shame

Love > Fear

Peace > Chaos

Joy> Selfishness 

Humility > Pride 

His joy, my strength. As C.S. Lewis put it, " Relying on God has to begin all  over again every day as if nothing had yet been done. " 

Which I have very much found that to be quite true in my forty years of living. 

Break my heart open ever wider and deeper, dear Lord.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Ugly crying in church

  We had a guest speaker at church yesterday. I have read and loved Dr Jerry Sittser's books over the past ten years and when he started to read this quote from St Gregory at the end of his sermon, I found myself sobbing in my seat. All day long I have been wanting to find it so I can re-read it. So happy to be back in this little memory keeping corner again. This speaks to the Jesus who knows and loves me and who I know and love because of that.

{ picture of Ruby Grace with huckleberry stained cheeks and mountain wildflowers from last summer }

  “As man he was baptized, but he absolved sins as God; he needed no purifying rites himself–his purpose was to hallow water. As man he was put to the test, but as God he came through victorious–yes, bids us be of good cheer, because he has conquered the world. He hungered–yet he fed thousands. He is indeed ‘living, heavenly bread.’ He thirsted–yet he exclaimed: ‘Whosoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’ Indeed he promised that believers would become fountains. He was tired–yet he is the ‘rest’ of the weary and the burdened. He was overcome by heavy sleep–yet he goes lightly over the sea, rebukes winds, and relieves the drowning Peter. He pays tax–yet uses a fish to do it; indeed he is emperor over those who demand the tax. He is called a ‘Samaritan, demonically possessed’–but he rescues the man who came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves. Yes, he is recognized by demons, drives out demons, drowns deep a legion of spirits, and sees the prince of demons falling like lightning. He is stoned, yet not hit; he prays, yet he hears prayer. He weeps, yet he puts an end to weeping. He asks where Lazarus is laid–he was man; yet he raises Lazarus–he was God. He is sold, and cheap was the price–thirty pieces of silver; yet he buys back the world at the mighty cost of his own blood. A sheep, he is led to the slaughter–yet he shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well. A lamb, he is dumb–yet he is ‘Word,’ proclaimed by ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’ He is weakened, wounded–yet he cures every disease and every weakness. He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it–yet by the tree of life he restores us. Yes, he saves even a thief crucified with him; he wraps all the visible world in darkness. He is given vinegar to drink, gall to eat–and who is he? Why, one who turned water into wine, who took away the taste of bitterness, who is all sweetness and desire. He surrenders his life, yet he has power to take it again. Yes, the veil is rent, for things of heaven are being revealed, rocks split, and dead men have an earlier awakening. He dies, but he vivifies and by death destroys death. He is buried, yet he rises again. He goes down to Hades, yet he leads souls up, ascends to heaven, and will come to judge quick and dead, and to probe discussions like these. If the first set of expressions starts you going astray, the second set takes your error away.”

– St. Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius, The Third Theological Oration (Oration 29)

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones -

 (makes 8 scones, bake at 400 )

 - 2 cups Cup 4 Cup multipurpose flower

 - 1/4 cup granulated sugar

 - 1 tsp. baking powder

 - 1/2 tsp. baking soda

    zest of one orange

 -  2/3 cup of dried cranberries

 - 6 tbls. cold salted butter

 - 1/2 cup of sour cream

 -  1/4 cup whipping cream ( plus more for brushing the top)

 - 1 large egg

 - 1 tsp. vanilla 

 - 2 tbls. turbanado sugar ( for sprinkling on the top, optional )

Orange Glaze -

 - 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

 - 1-3 tbls. fresh orange juice 

 - 1 tsp. orange zest 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Whisk together dry ingredients and then stir in orange zest. 

3. Grate the cold butter into the dry ingredeint + stir until the butter is evenly distributed. 

4. Stir in dried cranberries and place bowl in freezer while you stir together the wet ingredients. 

5. Mix wet ingredients into dry until it comes into a ball. Try to handle the dough as little as possible so that the butter stays cold. 

6. Turn the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Form the dough into a circle, 8 inches wide and 1 inch high. Using a a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 wedges, leaving them 2 inches apart on baking sheet. 

7. ( optional ) brush top with whipping cream and turbanado sugar.

8. Bake in hot oven for 17-19 minutes or until nicely browned.

9. Remove from oven and allow to sit for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Drizzle with orange glaze and serve.


Personal note: Not all gluten free flours are created equal. So for this specific recipe I strongly recommend you using The Cup 4 Cup multipurpose flour blend for the best results. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

{ Home }

My nearly two year old shouts “ were HOoooME!!!! “ Every time we turn on the road that’s a few blocks from our house. And it always makes me smile.

Home is so much more about the people for me than the place.
Because I have called so many houses home over the
Our home tells our story

Home for me is in his face and smile
That became their faces and their smiles.

Home is David’s strong but gentle love,
Home is Annabelle’s kind, laughing eyes
Home is Jack’s daily kisses on the mouth, even when he’s almost ten.
Home is Lucy Wren’s tight hugs and constant I love you’s.
Home is every freckle on Ruby’s face and her contagious giggle too.
Home is Willa’s requests to snuggle you, hold you, rock you.

Home is where my people are

Home is a a safe place to fall apart
Home is where I rest, cry, heal
Home is dancing and laughing in a dirty kitchen
Home is wiping up spills and bottoms and breaking up fights
Home is " I am sorry, I forgive you's"
Home is where I plant daffodils and the depths of my soul
My home is my canvas
My life’s best work of art
Home is an open-armed welcome to come and be nurtured.
To come and be nourished.
To be seen and heard and known,
And to belong.

Home is making eye contact with Jesus
Home is now and home is not yet
By faith first
And then one day, by sight
Home is where " it is well with my soul"
" I was lost but now am found "
desperate and alone until my heart found it’s forever home in you Jesus.

Declaring these Words of life over my heart + home today and everyday: 

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Years of quiet, like weeds and brambles have overgrown the path I used to take to this well worn and beloved spot. A place I used to feel so at home in. This past weekend, I walked into the school room to find David scrolling back through post after post, going back in time, with one kid on his lap and one hanging off each arm. Every last post. Laughing and exclaiming and remembering...A lump rose in my throat, a kind of bittersweet ache. I miss this space. I stopped blogging for good when I let my overwhelmingly busy + messy beautiful life, squeeze out the time I spent remembering and recounting different bits and pieces of our story. Little stories of God's goodness, daily graces and clear evidence of God’s faithful kindness,  that I have found are forgotten over time, if not preserved.

  So I am starting fresh today. And by fresh I mean that literally. I started this post last week and only got one paragraph in before I got up to do something else came up, and i got distracted and that’s as far as I got. But I came back and am picking up where I left off in hopes that I stay in this place long enough to actually press the publish button. 
So here I am starting again with today. 
March 23, 2019, a sweetly imperfect and ordinary day. 
Today we did what I have started calling " fun-schooling," My kids have worked hard to earn some extra days off before spring break by doubling up so today we did school until noon and then ran off to the library, stopped for donuts, walked at the park.The little girls did some and fairy-house building while Annabelle was at ballet and Jack at a sleepover with his friend. 
Today I yelled at my kids to stop fighting. Never helpful or pretty but it’s the truth. Today, the house was more messy than not. 
Today I kissed my husband in the rain, who is about to turn forty and who just gets kinder and more handsome with age. 
Today I gave Lucy and Ruby their first " official " piano lesson and you can see from our dining room window, purple velvet patches of crocuses blooming in our back yard. 
Today I did not cook dinner,  Costco did. Grateful for those un-homemade chicken cilantro wantons. 
Willa discovered her shadow on the wall tonight and it was a moment of magic that I tucked it away to treasure and remember in my mama’s heart. 
I am reading a lot these days, before bed and early in the morning before the house wakes up. Today I am not ignoring my soul, in order to love and care for the souls God’s given me. So today I breathed in grace like oxgeyn. 
But most of all today I am in Christ. May my life today more than anything be just that. Today I have hope and a future. “ This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us.”  Heb 6:19 
Today I am setting my mind not on what is seen but what is unseen. Make me willing Lord to risk everything on that hope. 
Today I am praying for you friend. That you would know how dearly beloved you are, and that God meets you in every good, hard or scary place, that He holds you and sustains you in miraculous ways that would spill over into joy and praise and glory. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

{ awake my soul }


  I watched a movie the other night called Noble ( A Dream can Change A Million Lives ). 

  The grief and the beauty tangled together in this story of redemption moved me in a profound way and left me overcome with emotion. It is based on the true story of a Irish woman named Christina Nobel who bravely and with great compassion overcame unspeakable trauma and devastation.  Born in Ireland in the mid forties Christina's childhood looked like year after year of poverty, grief , abandonment, abuse and incredible loss . Brokenness and pain that followed her into her adult years. One thing I really love about her story is her honest conversations with God, through every low, heartbreaking moment. It was during a especially low point in her life around 1971 that she had a dream about Vietnam:

"I don't know why I dreamed about Vietnam, perhaps it was because the country was so much in the news at the time. In the dream, naked Vietnamese children were running down a dirt road fleeing from a napalm bombing. The ground under the children was cracked and coming apart and the children were reaching to me. One of the girls had a look in her eyes that implored me to pick her up and protect her and take her to safety. Above the escaping children was a brilliant white light that contained the word 'Vietnam'." 

This was a dream which she would one day triumphantly fulfil, albeit 20 years later. In 1989, with the goal to assist children in need, Christina arrived in Vietnam.

Against all odds, Christina set up the Foundation in Ho Chi Minh City where the number of programmes has grown considerably across Vietnam. In 1997, Christina expanded the Foundation's operations into Mongolia but she still remains the principal driving force and inspiration and retains close personal contact with the children.

Christina Noble had a dream that was to transform not just her own life, but that of the lives of 700,000 children (and counting).

Taken from her website: Christina Noble Children's Foundation 

   As the finishing credits rolled I was sobbing uncontrollably.  I sat in the darkness, grief settled over my spirit like a blanket as I thought of my precious four sleeping safe and sound in their beds in such contrast to the numberless, unseen children of the world who go to sleep every night without a father and or a mother, who go to bed with hunger pains, starving for food and worse still, starving for love. Grief for the voiceless children of the world who dread the unspeakable evil that comes as bedtime and all the coming hours hold to bruise their body and soul. My shoulders shook under the weight of this grief that defies definition and God's Father heart. The words to an old beloved Hillsong chorus rose in my heart: " Break my heart for what breaks yours, Everything I am for your Kingdom's cause, As I walk from earth into eternity. " Tell me, what is it that you want me to do?" I cried, without a sound into the darkness.

No answer came. 
Yesterday, no answer.
As I fell asleep last night, still no answer. 

I woke up this morning at 4:30 am and tossed and turned,  I felt the Lord gently reminding me to consider what He has already spoken, first in His word and also personally to me.

" Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. " James 1:27

It makes just as much sense that God would speak in the shower as anywhere else. I know a lot of us do our crying in the shower. 
Four-ish months ago, on something like a random Tuesday morning. I was taking a quick shower before school drop-off for my two oldest to school. When something came to me out of a blue that very clearly felt like a call from God. I feel shy and hesitant about putting this into words. I didn't hear God's voice speak to me audibly. I don't know how to describe it other than it was maybe a twenty second visual that came out of nowhere. I saw in my minds eye a picture of a large room, a coffee shop/bakery of sorts. And I saw some of my close friends serving the customers there alongside several young teenage girls. As it played out in my head, I scanned the room and saw beautiful art, clothing and gifts for sale, all made with the cause of justice in mind. Not just stuff. Items with a purpose and a person behind the price tag. All of it, meant to bring intention, hope and awareness through each purchase. A way to highlight and provide for the needs first in our city, but also without borders. A small porthole to love the world. A way to raise our eyes as we drink our coffee, to put hands and feet to Jesus heart and affect change and transformation. A place to make visible those, who in God's eyes are most important and worthy of His/our attention.  The unloved and overlooked and unseen. In God's economy " the last shall be first." I am not someone who normally dreams dreams or has visions. But everywhere I look in the Word of God for confirmation to pursue this idea God has laid on my heart, I see it. I don't have answers and I have no idea how or if this will play out out but I am willing and ready to obey and take next steps as God makes them clear.   

I run across staggering statics like : 

 If all the orphans formed a country of their own, it would be among the 10th largest nations.

80% of domestic human trafficking victims were once in the foster care system.

According to UNICEFF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

The life expectancy of a child prostitute is 7 years. 

  Source: Pinterest

  And our hearts break and we determine not live small, selfish lives. Lets not get distracted by anything short of loving well and big.

  Target. Pinterest. Instagram. Homeschooling curriculum. HGTV shows. Netflix. Our busy schedule. Crafting. Homemaking. All good things I love and wrestle with every single day. But I pray for God awaken my heart to people first. I pray that none of those things distract me from the call to see and love people. Especially the people right under my roof. I see Satan coming at me as an Christian, American stay at home mom from a different angle. He knows this " not good "good girl " wouldn't be tempted by drugs or alcohol or lust as much as I would good, pretty things that make no impact on the Kingdom of God whatsoever. It's that tension and fine line for me of the good so often becoming the enemy of the best in my life and before I know it my energy and all the hours of my day are full of more things that really have nothing to do with Jesus transforming my heart, my family and that rippling out to the rest of the world that is thirsty and hurting around us.  I hope this doesn't come across as harsh and judgmental. I am just trying to process it in a honest and raw way. I don't want to waste my one wild and precious life on anything short of joining God in the work of loving people and seeing them redeemed and made whole by Jesus. 

  David and I have long dreamed of the future and what our we call our " forever home " and have strategized and planned  over the years about what that might look like. But really our forever home is heaven and the greater reality, seen through the eyes of faith is that what needs to come first in our hearts is " the Kingdom of God" We want to grow more and more in storing up our treasures there. I love how God is reshaping our dreams to that end.

For the few past years the Lord keeps bringing this verse  back and and singing it like a love song over me : " for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, " Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

  He has paid the highest price. He has proven His faithful love for us. We refuse to sit on that and call it good there. We will praise him with our love for him by loving people, especially the ones who have no one, no voice. The ones who are most helpless and unseen. Because He sees them, He holds them and wants to use us as His hands in our city and our world to be a part of what it looks like to give them a hope and future. 

And now what next? Start small. Be faithful in the little things.  Jesus, David, my four children. To raise world changers, lead by example. Steward my time well. To learn greatness from Jesus, who was the servant to all. To be more intentional and disciplined than ever about where I am investing my life. 

Jesus teach us what it looks like to live loved.  I know what it means to be a slave to sin and to myself but You have forgiven me and set me free and the very least I can do is joyfully rise to pour out my life out in pursuit of others, knowing that your heart is the same for them. 

" You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely to the cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in His presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that. You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. " 
Col.21-239 ( the Message) 

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.” - Mother Teresa †

Monday, February 01, 2016

{ a memory collector resurfaces and other Sunday evening ramblings }

  Early this morning I jotted down some blogging notes on a Starbucks napkin. After a series rather curious events have unfolded over the last couple weeks, and almost five years since our last move, we find ourselves moving out of our quaint little turn of the century two story home, practically just around the corner to a very spacious 1951 brick rambler with a view.  

  I wrote about another big move we move back in 2009 and how the bells were a miraculous reassurance of God's faithfulness to us. I felt seen and known that Jesus would love me in such an intimate way. Yesterday as I was hauling boxes into our new house from my mini van. I thought perhaps just vaguely I mignt have heard a sound of some sort in the distance...I dropped the box of books I was holding and sat down on the front porch steps, ears peeled as the tears welled up in my eyes. I thought at first it was my imagination. Imstead it was really and truly bells. There they were again. So faint I couldn't even make out the tune but there nonetheless. He hadn't forgotten. Even though I had.

  Unpacking boxes that have been tucked away in our basement for almost five years yesterday was surreal. But it felt life-giving to set up this little corner craft area in a basement storage room. Even with the cement floors and walls, lined with rough wood shelves, having a place to house all these precious memories makes my heart sing. Sorting through box after box and flipping through journals and stacks of loose pictures my eyes fell on entries like this: " my first love letter came in the mail today..." My eyes skimmed over page after page of my wresting with God, wresting that always led to surrender and joy throughout the years of waiting and unanswered prayers. I read these words a dear mentor had written in a card to me during that season: " God gives His very best to the ones that leave the choice to Him." I came across a letter of encouragement Joni Earekson Tada had written me after a wonderful life-changing week serving at one of the Joni And Friends Family camps. I found wedding pictures, pictures of each one of my babies. I found a little wooden box full of special things from fifteen years ago, including a tiny antique silver heart-shaped perfume bottle that David had given me, with my name engraved on it for our first Christmas together. I remembered him whispering in my ear after I had opened it, that he'd been saving it for years to give to someone very special. I came across my very favorite onesie that Jack wore as a baby, long-sleeved and cream with little brown airplanes on it. In the course of one afternoon my life flashed before my eyes and I type this in tears of gratitude. Jesus love for me has been the one constant through every single up and down, every mountain high or valley low. I have faltered and lost sight of Him countless times and daily. I have walked through brokeness, and heart break,both my own and others and found myself hurting and hurt by the ones I love most. Expectations more often than not dead-ending in disappointment  and even complete loss at times. But the One thing that stands out to me, over this collection of years of memories is that His loving kindness has never once left me. He's gently pursued my heart. He loves me with a perfect, my life for yours kind of love. 

My heart surged with conviction tonight in church as we read: " This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends. " I copied down these notes from the sermon: " Love is the essence of what and who Jesus has called us to be. The measure of maturity is how well you love. 

Jesus fill me by your Spirit with your love, expand my capacity to love and move my heart to a place of action. A laying down. A great exchange. Your life for mine. My life for theirs. xo