don’t worry, mom

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don’t worry, mom.

she says it enough lately that i’m starting to wonder that perhaps i’m more anxious than i know.

mazzy turned 14 last week.

it’s been less like a blink and more like a night of sleep.  time passes unaware, but it happened.  you were just out of time in a way.

mazzy has always been a little timeless.

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don’t worry, mom.

i remember the daily work of getting mazzy to where she needed to be.  to read words, to walk in a walker, to go to therapy.

mazzy made me a mother.

she rewired my brain.

she made me a specific kind of person that knows nothing.  that can predict nothing.  one that steps forward without a path.

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when mazzy was dedicated at our church, my friend, rebecca prayed this:

i see you as a flower that stays closed for a long time.  and when you bloom it will happen so slowly, but you will be the most beautiful flower.

it struck me as she prayed it.

i’ve held on to it for years.

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that prayer has proven true.

and the first petals are pulling away now.

i need to hide my face.

i need to take off my shoes.

look away from me lord, for i am a sinful man.

she is the most beautiful.

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i feel like i’m meeting mazzy for the first time now that she is 14.

and i’m not worried, mazzy.

i’m not worried at all.

Posted in mazzy, mothering, time | 7 Comments

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what you’ll find there

place

have you ever felt too dependent on someone?

that sort of if i’m not near this person, i’m not quite sure the world will continue on as it should?

yeah, me neither.

bridge

when that person breaks your heart, you could have a real chance.

a chance to find out what your definition of love is anyway.  the possibility that you have been wrong, maybe for years, about what is good and what is true about your own heart.

or you could just pine for them.  or curse them.  or hate yourself.  or blame yourself.

view

often what seems to be happening isn’t what is truly happening at all.

however it takes time to tell the difference.  real time in the quiet.  maybe with a bowl of grapes.  maybe with a cup of coffee.  maybe with a view of the trees out of a window that needs to be cleaned.

i’m so proud of you.

i really am.

keep going.  keep trying.

you are so much better than i knew and i’m honored to call you my friend.

 

meet

let’s meet up and talk about the hard work we’ve done to keep our eyes open to what is really happening.  we’ll talk about how the lies are always there, waiting for us to believe a different story about ourselves.

but we want the true story.

you do and i do, too.

and somehow we’re going to hear it, first in the quiet.  then we’ll tell it, out loud, so that everyone can hear.

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ascending at your friend’s house

friends

before jesus ascended into heaven, he took a walk.

he led his followers to bethany on the eastern slope of the mount of olives, a sabbath day’s journey, about a half mile.

he blessed them, lifted his hands and bye.

mary, martha and the resurrected lazarus lived in bethany.  was he walking them home? was he seeing their house one last time?  was he letting them know there is still more to come?

jesus loved his friends.

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i’ve been taking some time to write my story and looking back, my life reads like stepping stones of friendship.  sometimes solid rock, sometimes a spider’s web.

friendship is how i understand this world, how i move forward.  befriended and being a friend – these are the roads i take.

i led them by cords of human kindness, with ties of love. – hosea 11:4

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jesus said that he would give it all up for his friends.

my children may be the ones receiving the full weight of my friendship these days.  we do the slow work of daily life together so that they can live their real lives well one day.

but heart friendship feels a sabbath day’s journey away.  the hello and goodbye of friendship is my reality for this season.

i hope it doesn’t last too long.

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greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

all the love that i’ve been shown, all the kindness i’ve tied around your wrist.  we’re all heading to the greater love of god, to some distant shore.

it sure seems that way to me.

Posted in friends, jesus, outside, real hope, resurrection | 3 Comments

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when staying at home is lame

legs

the grocery store is its own particular type of torture.

i must be thankful for the resources to be there, the choices, the strength in my legs to walk the aisles, to push the cart.  i know.  i must be.

but when you’ve done something a few hundred times it loses that certain something and just becomes a meditation for the pointless and monotony of life.

or maybe that’s just me.

also dishes.

also laundry.

also packing lunches.

also making beds.

also vacuuming.

also cleaning toilets.

also also also.

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it’s a brave new world for me these days.  we moved so i didn’t have to spend hours in a car everyday.  now each day stretches before me full of monotonous crap that i don’t want to do.

but what do i want to do?

i take eleanor to school this morning.  she’s amazing.  she’s so lovely and loving.  she’s like a mountain of birthday presents on my head.  i’m so lucky.  i tell her so.

she smiles her very pleased smile.

i’ll pick her up at 3.

hey

i’ve spent these past fourteen years raising three children.  that time is changing.  it’s morphing into them on their own and me on my own.  the rope that ties us together is getting longer.  that’s okay.  it really is.  but what’s not okay is me filling up the hours with something that doesn’t support this family.

i shop because they eat.  daily.

clean dishes on the table.  clean clothes pulled out for yet another day of school.  lunch on the counter for when they are off on their own.  a made bed is so much nicer.  clean house gives peace to the mind.  a home to come home to.

i do that.

that matters.

my life is not pointless.

monotonous yes, pointless no.

it takes discipline to remember your worth when no one is watching.  the time will come when my days are spent busy supporting something else well.

but for today there is laundry, there are dishes, there is shopping.

thanks mom.  thanks again.

Posted in childhood, contentment, hidden life, mothering, time | 6 Comments

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when the gospel goes missing

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in a drawer, tucked away like a shirt, is the gospel.

black and white beads on a thin string.  my daughter made it in a sunday school class.  its simplicity stole my heart.

i put it away.

reaching for a swimming suit i would see it sometimes.  i liked to.

it reminded me of seeds sown and hidden.  of quiet knowledge, not showy prayers in public places.

i don’t know how but once grabbing clothes i notice the beads have unstrung.

i see a lone l.  i spot an p off on its own.  the s now missing entirely.

sometimes even the hidden, true things, deep inside of us can rearrange themselves.

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i leave it.  i don’t search the drawer for each letter and string them into order again.  i don’t know why, but i do not do that.

is it wrong not to want the gospel within me to be orderly?

i know how it’s spelled – or maybe i don’t.  what’s that old question?  when was peter actually saved?

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we read words and we think we understand them.  we see living words and let someone else tell us what they mean.  gospel meaning good news, roots from gossip.  both have done their share of harm and good.

i’ve done my share of harm and good in the name of the gospel.

but it’s still within me.

it’s out of order and unreadable.  it’s confusing and out of context, but it is there.  the gospel doesn’t need me to understand it.  seeds are sown like beads out of order in the soil of the human heart.

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the farmer sows, god gives the growth, what does the soil do?

it holds fast.  it covers.  it endures the elements as they arrive.  it turns to loam.

fold a shirt, tuck it away.

remember how much i do and do not know.

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the stories we tell

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i ended up outside.

sometimes early january is friendly to outside morning dwellers.  this happens very rarely in michigan.  i still almost don’t believe it.

the water was still and the city was so quiet.  i had to take a picture.

i haven’t done this so much anymore.

take pictures, write down my thoughts.

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i could say i’ve been busy and that would be half-true.

i could say i’ve been writing other things and that would be one-fourth true.

i could say a lot of things.

but the best answer is that sometimes it is hard to say what is true.

and that’s what i’ve always tried to do.

when you write a blog (or when i do) it’s easy to slip into self-pity or narcissism or boring or absolutely pointless.  or worse yet – soapbox.  the questions of why do i have any platform to say anything to anyone started to haunt and so i’d hit delete.

sometimes it is hard to say what is true.

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the truth is i moved out of a city i love.  the truth is i lost some friends.  the truth is having the family i have is so stressful that i don’t even know what the water we swim in looks like from the outside.  the truth is i’m lonely.  the truth is the church i was a part of forever doesn’t feel safe.  the truth is the kids are better now.  the truth is i have more time on my hands than i know what to do with.  the truth is i don’t know how to process possibly being a caregiver for the rest of my life.

the truth is i don’t know how to answer the questions that life is posing these days.

so it feels better to keep quiet and still like the city in the morning.

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it’s been good to be still and know.

but honestly, i need you, too.  to tell you the truth, i like writing a letter to everyone.  i like the immediacy of this medium.  i’m bad at staying quiet for too long and i know it matters to share what i see.

i’m not sure why but the truth matters more than any of us know.

true stories.  the most compelling of the lot.  i’m easing back into this.  i’m breaking the surface of the water.  this mild winter is going to make for hospitable great lakes come summer.

Posted in beauty, hidden life, outside, writing, you | 6 Comments

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under construction

work

flowers

i’m five days into a kitchen remodel and the flowers are dying outside.

the air is cold and i don’t have a stove, but still the light is coming through the windows.

a friend drove all the way from england yesterday and i feel like i’m learning how to talk again.  i’m learning how to express my mind, trusting the face laid bare in front of me.

i wonder how many second chances i’ll get in this life.

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if i were taking my cues from nature i suppose the renewal is a lifetime of chances kind of thing.

and i feel lucky.  i feel the luck.

so keep coming around, friends from england.  friends from ireland and friends from roseville, friends from detroit city and friends from the u.p.  keep coming around and i’ll drive on over, too.

somehow we’re going to reconstruct all the places where we prepared the food that keeps us alive and it’ll be better.

somehow every beautiful flower we’ve loved is going to die.  it’s going to die right in front of our naked eyes and there won’t be a damn thing we can do to stop it.

and somehow the dead will be raised.

maybe even as soon as next spring.

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for you

or maybe not.

the clouds are floating by a bit too fast this morning.  and ella rode off to school today with her face set to the cold wind.

the mix of the divine and the wicked of this world is too much.

but i’ll keep loving you.  even when i lose you.  i’ll weep and weep to the point of wondering how i’ll breathe again at the end of it.  but we’re made to endure it.  i will love with a love so free because i don’t want to miss a single wild, beautiful moment with you.

and then i’ll see you again, whole and strong.

we’ll sit down in the kitchen and talk and i’ll thrill to hear the flower of your heart once again.

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man overboard! quick throw him this bible!

life

sometimes the story of jesus christ can get old.

you know it already.  lived, died, rose again.

you know the tenets.  you understand that redemption of bad situations into good that in turn can touch and change the lives of others is god’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

you know that.

but it doesn’t compel.

beauty from ashes?  yeah, yeah.  i know.

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there is a body of knowledge that belongs to god.

god’s story, god’s ways – and it doesn’t change.

that is true for most bodies of knowledge.  you want to study molecular geometry, you want to become a pastry chef, you want to fly an airplane?  these are bodies of knowledge and by and large, they don’t change.

after you study them and teach them to others, after you live them out in your daily work – they get old, too.

god is different though in that he promised to love you.

god wasn’t supposed to be cold knowledge that could be ingested and then sit like a stone in your gut.  molecular geometry might get old, but it never promised you friendship.

so with the body of knowledge that god brought what do you do?

mock it.

deny it.

despise it.

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here’s what i’ve been wondering –

what does a body of knowledge owe me?  what do i owe it?

can i make peace with that god’s ways can be known?  that even a life lived praying for the holy spirit to be close takes on a somewhat predictable pattern?

like marriage.

like best friends.

like a boy and his dog.

relationships based on bodies of knowledge aren’t useless because they can be known.

in my quest for new, for more, for exciting people and information that seems endless, i forget the gold ring in my pocket.

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these days i keep the ring hidden.  i’m a lot less apt to proudly wear it on my hand.  keep it to myself.  quiet.

you might not even know who i belong to or what i believe.

until i’m drowning or i see you going under.

then somehow the ring slips right over my head or yours and the knowledge of bringing what was dead back to life becomes air, becomes reality, becomes a beating heart.

that’s when i’ll be revealed.

there will be no question about who i belong to when we reach the end of human capacity to do a damn thing.

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this is what i believe.  this is who i am.

a ring of commitment.  a ring of rescue.  a ring of boring domesticity.

lord, help me never to despise the knowledge of you.

Posted in faith, friendship, hidden life, jesus | 3 Comments

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pop music and the teenage soul

beautiful

this thing keeps happening as my 13 year old daughter listens to pop music.  it takes me by surprise.  maybe it’s the scientific algorithms or maybe not.

mazzy will play another teen anthem about taking life and love by storm and somewhere a few bars in – i have to stop myself from weeping.

mind you, these are not stellar songs, but there i am shutting my mouth and blinking hard.

the bold, unwavering declarations of pop music’s inner life heard through the ears of teenager – or the ears of 40 year old mother who remembers what it was like to belt out those songs – it’s a powerful thing.

my girl

and i forgot.

or maybe i never knew.

there is a fierceness in youth.  there is a belief in one’s self that is devastating in its naiveté.

and it’s so beautiful.

the passionate, furious emotion of the teenage soul.

i forgot.

you are sweet to me

here’s how it goes:

start a really popular anthem and cue mom singing along with child.  we’re hitting the chorus now – don’t cry! don’t cry! – and look over at my girl.  my girls.  my girls and my boy.

they sing along, too and for them, it’s no big deal.

there is no welling admiration for blind free will in their hearts.  that’s only in me.  they sing as the world flies by the car window.  somewhere inside the countdown of days to when they get to drive has begun.

they listen to the music that anticipates the launch .

and it is valiant.

Posted in beauty, mothering, teenagers, the human soul, time | 3 Comments

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october reminds me of summer

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us the summer was good.

yes, i’m still thinking about summer.  i still am processing that it’s over.

we looked out the windows this morning and frost was holding fast to the top of the car, to the clover on the yard.  the heat has been kicking on.  abraham pulled out his electric blanket a couple of nights ago.

fall is upon us but still i’m recalling sunny days on the sand.

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really?

i’ve been thinking about smiling lately.

i tend to think too much and smile not as often.  i heard that mother teresa would dismiss any who wanted to work with her if they didn’t begin to smile regularly after living with her for a few weeks.

i would have been dismissed.

i sat a bible study the other day and the person next to me couldn’t not smile.  their face was a beam.  i sat with brow furrowed next to them and thought about that too much.  i chastised myself internally that i don’t have a smile at the ready.

water

we recently moved down the street from a large lake.  when i go for groceries or to the gas station, there’s a high likelihood that i’ll pass it as i drive.

when i left the bible study i did just that.  i drove down a street and the houses gave way to water.  a wide open space that sings back to the wide open space in every man, woman and child.

and i realized i was smiling.

not engineered or thought about.  just a response to what makes me happy.  apparently i like what i like and i’m way too hard on myself.

bye

i had a conversation on a beach one night about wide open spaces.

it was a couple of days after the eclipse and the moon was startling and demanding to be worshipped.  my friend had bought an extremely good bottle of wine – and us, the three of us – talked about the human soul.

how the shoreline speaks of separation from something larger.  how our insides cry for connection.  how filled up we become near it.  how we look forward to transcending the limits we’re confined by and be reunited with all of creation.

take me with you

so yeah, i’m still saying goodbye to summer.

i’m still trying to seek it while it can be found, a little in vain i realize, but denial has its uses.

luckily though i really love fall, too.

Posted in good life, outside, summer, the human soul | Leave a comment

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