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Monday, November 30, 2009

anybody home (home home home home)?

there's an echo in my head.
i kinda thought it was gone.

just when i was getting the hang of my empty nest, it got emptier feeling yesterday.

my birds were home this weekend. the entire extended flock were over wednesday nite for a bonfire. and some petros. mmmmmmm. what fun. to have christmas music blaring over the outside speakers, the smell of campfire clinging to their clothes, the gaggle of kids huddled around the computer as they shared their favorite youtube videos and the eruptions of laughter seriously made my heart feel as if it might explode. (the only downside was the lost battery charger and the very dead battery of my camera. booooooo.)

i've missed my birds.

after a luxuriously long weekend of family, food and fellowship, my birds have returned back to their respective roosts, and my nest has more room in it than i'm sometimes comfortable.

ask me last week at this time how the empty nest thing was going, and i would answer with an enthusiastic FINE!!

and it is fine. really it is. they are just where they are supposed to be and are thriving and experiencing life as it is meant to be lived. (i.e. not in their parent's home) i want my birds to learn to fly on their own. i will not be here for them forever. it's time. and i'm okay with that.


it's just that i was getting used to that whole idea and then they came back to our nest. and it felt all snuggly and right.

i'll get used to it again. really, i will.

but then they'll be back for christmas.

i love my little migratory birds. i'm looking forward to them coming home to roost for awhile. and i'm sure i'll get over my empty nest again.

and again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


giving thanks this year for my many blessings.
i could list them here, but i don't know. i'm not sure a list of my blessings would mean overly much… almost like reading someone else's mail, i guess.
all it takes is a 360 panoramic view of all that is around and it reminds me that whatever i am struggling with really pales in comparison to what others are dealing with. all things being relative, however, and i don't for a minute to minimize what is going on in my world, because it is significant to us (and to my racing heart).
so this thanksgiving, i'm going to the author of my story, my life, and giving Him thanks for all that is in my life. the good and the bad. the bright and the dark. the hilarious and terrifying.
thank you for loving me, Lord, even in my imperfect fallibility, thank you.
thank you for saving my life.
thank you for everyone in my life (the good and the annoying, the encouraging and the ones that suck the very life from my soul… thank you one and all).
thank you for the lives you have entrusted to me.

i have blessings so numerous, that i feel unworthy of such gifts. i treasure each and every one and thing and never for a minute want to forget how very much He loves me.
may you be wrapped in the loving arms of your Father this holiday season. may you be surrounded by people who bring you joy, and may He grant you an extra measure of mercy and grace to deal with those He has brought into your lives that make you grit your teeth (every family's got 'em, y'know).
giving thanks with a greatful heart.
my cup runneth over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

i am alive… barely

just a quick post to say that
a) the two day bazaar (or should i just say bizarre) is over. we sold some stuff, but overall was a giant disappointment. lots-o-stress for nada.
b) our family's business that has been undergoing some economic-times struggles is still alive… but it's tough times right now
c) kids are returning from college this week
d) lots of responsibilities for the fam business = my life is not my own.

stress is really rocking my world right now. and so is time management. and shepherding young adults is proving to be challenging.

never had a panic attack until this week. i'm still convinced i have a heart issue. lamenting the fact that i should have been in better tune with my body via yearly physicals. ( i have one scheduled for dec 3. new dr. because the old one is out of network)
thinking about this is causing my heart to race.

stop the ride.

i wanna get off.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

hand in hand

i have a lot to do today. i had a lot to do yesterday, and i even managed to get most of it done. it wasn't easy, though. and i was up at 4 am so technically, i should have been able to get everything done, my house cleaned and meals for the next two weeks made and in the freezer.
but i have A.D.D.
so i began several of those things in the midst of doing what i was supposed to be doing. and i did watch an old episode of grey's anatomy (did you know lifetime is showing them from the very beginning?? my DVR is in heaven!) and clean my office some and begin to organize some paperwork. oh, but it's beautiful outside. i'll take some pictures. and edit some pictures. and post some pictures. oh. work. yes. back to work.
so i have a lot to do today. it's saturday. and i have a show on friday where i have to have plenty of my wares to sell (photos to come late in the week). we're trying to get this little business endeavor off the ground, but i still have responsibilities to keep first. wife. family business. mentor.
so in the midst of all i have to do, i'm also a classic procrastinator. did i mention the tree out front that is a cornucopia of autumnal color?
i have work to do.
and blogs to stalk.
and dust to eradicate.
A.D.D. + procrastination = bane of my existence.


but did you see that rose blooming right in the middle of fall?

spectacular. must get my camera.

Friday, November 13, 2009

cornflower skies and autumn

bathed in the morning sunlight…
is the tree outside my door…
spectacular visual poetry…
written by our Creator…
a symphony of colors…
singing praises to the King…

Monday, November 9, 2009

journeys…it's a continuing story

woke up sunday to dreary skies, but at least it had stopped raining. headed to the dining tent to have breakfast. upon opening the doors, angels were singing…

biscuits and gravy. sausage patties. and other stuff i didn't care about. my eyes were captivated by biscuits and gravy.

well that is a little overstated. my stomach's anticipation clouded my vision, because anyone can tell you there ain't nothing too beautiful about a big pot of gravy for biscuits. in fact, you'd best avert yer eyes. it's ain't purty.
but it sure is delicious…
and i know, i shouldn't get this worked up about food… any food… but i couldn't help it. doe river gorge's biscuits and gravy are pretty much out of this world. side-by-side with a sausage patty, and you've got down-right heavenly. (not too heavenly for my arteries, but whatever!)

alright, i completely digress here. it's not about the food. it's about the stories!

our final meeting time before packing up and heading home. stories about how a life in Christ has changed us and what it looks like going forward.
i thought this would be the easy part. you know, the part where my life is so much better, and on and on. this is redemption! eternal life here on earth! the good part!!

i was completely unprepared for the eruption of tears that began the minute i began speaking.
i became a believer at that conference. my walk with the Lord was more like a crawl, but it was a beginning. i couldn't tell the hubster about my experience. it's not unlikely that divorce papers would follow. he was not in the least bit interested in spiritual things, and having been raised in a very religious home, he wanted no part in empty religious practices, even though we were attending church regularly. so i read my Bible on the sly, and my growth really was very stunted that first year. i came to the decision to join our church, and invited the hub, but was clear that i didn't want him following suit just because of me.
it was during this process where the Lord got ahold of my mate and transformed his heart. his conversion was of the lightning bolt variety—a moment where he became weak-kneed and his heart became inhabited by the living God.
our lives changed dramatically from that moment. people could see the differences in us, and many of our relationships changed because of our new-found purpose in life. many of our friends faded away, but the Lord blessed us with new friends—deep, intentional, real friends.
our "first encounter with Christ" occurred not long after became Christians. our son had been shoved into a brick wall face first at the hands of a bully, and the Lord calmed our hearts in such as way as our first thought beyond the immediate safety and care for our son was mercy and grace for the young man who hurt our son. (and He continues to resupply this every time boy wonder has surgery…over ten at last count) it was evident that that was not us, it was clearly the Holy Spirit, because just months before, we would have been filled with bitterness and hatred.
three weeks later, my dad unexpectedly died, and again, we encountered Christ in such tangible ways. the body of believers surrounded us with prayer and assistance, and the Lord gave me the ability to share my testimony at my father's funeral. i had been too afraid to share my new-found faith with my father for fear of rejection. i was convicted i would never let another opportunity to share Jesus pass me by. as a new believer, sharing my testimony was frightening, but the Lord gave me the courage to share and the composure to speak without crying.

because of my past, the Lord called me into crisis pregnancy counseling, which i did for three years. every single day of that ministry was difficult and uncomfortable, but the Lord equipped me to serve. He nudged me into leaving that ministry when He showed me that serving young teen girls would ensure that many would never darken the doorstep of a crisis pregnancy center.
nine years ago, i became a youth leader. i began with middle school girls, and now lead high school girls. it is the joy of my life to share the precious gift of Jesus with them, and to lead them into a love-relationship with Him. reminding young girls that they are daughters of the King of Kings…perfect princesses, created by the master of all creation, his workmanship, the beauty of his very image.
it is my honor and joy to serve Jesus in this way. to breathe truth into their lives with love.
our God is a God of redemption. of mercy. of grace. and when i remember where i was and how he scooped me up from the cess-pool of my life, i weep in gratitude.

Jesus saved my life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

the journey continues…

after a very relaxing afternoon of just being, we gathered for dinner and then proceeded on to the evening meeting time.
during this journey, we were sharing about how we came to be aware of Jesus in our lives.
"i'd love to tell you that after suffering such pain and brokenness, i turned my life over to Jesus. this was not to be. instead, i did what i had done up to this point my whole life: i picked myself up, and pressed on. i dealt. i stuffed my real feelings so deep down so i wouldn't have to feel the pain. i put on my happy mask and did it my way. i'm strong. i can do it.
i didn't date at all the rest of high school (not a huge surprise). i learned to distrust guys and rely on myself.
a year later, i was on my way to tennessee to go to college, much to the dismay of my parents. because of my willfulness, i earned the right to put myself through school. this was only the first of many times my headstrong ways cost me.
life in the "bible belt" was a new environment for me, and i had never really encountered anyone who talked much about their faith other than complaining about having to go to church or mass. most of my friends didn't really go to church, and those that did weren't exactly sold on the idea. the Lord placed all kinds of sweet people in my path both in college, and then in my work environment. for the most part, these were nice people, but it wasn't like i was wanting what they had in their life. they were just nice people. {note: not a single one of these people shared the gospel with me. i'm sure it was all how God wanted to see it all play out, but it's a reminder to me not to be afraid to share the good stuff.}
i met my husband while i was in college. he, like the few relationships i had prior, was older than me. perhaps because i still didn't trust, or was looking for stability because my life seemed so chaotic. for whatever reason, we seemed to gel, and got married four years later. immediately, we had our two children, and it was clear to me that we didn't have what it took to raise responsible, moral kids.
having kids landed me back in church, seeking… but still ellusive. it took three years before the Lord was able to penetrate my hard, self-reliant, prideful heart.

it was a women's retreat that i had my first close encounter with Jesus. the speaker spent the weekend unpacking the picture of a house. the theme related to how Jesus wants to take up residence in our house. it was just the analogy i needed. my house had been boarded up for so long. i didn't need anyone coming into my house. i was fine. didn't need help. didn't want company. and i certainly didn't want anyone coming in to my house to show me where i needed to clean. thank the Lord that He is persistent. He knocked, and i opened the door and invited him in."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

journeys. part three. for real.

doe river gorge is beautiful. and in the six or so years i've been coming here, it's always ablaze with fall colors and a cornflower blue sky.
not this year.
after our morning meeting, we went back to our cabins for some "cabin time." there, the students had a chance to dig a little deeper and see perhaps how the mornings stories might correlate to their own journeys.
the girl who was struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. the sporty guy who struggled with the different masks that he let people see. so much that he wasn't even sure which mask to wear when he was by himself. the girl with self-esteem issues and also what to do with her childhood faith now that she's a teen. the believer with peers without spiritual grounding. or the "normal" guy excited about sleeping with his girlfriend.
our time was gritty. really gut-wrenching. girls struggling with self-esteem. pressures from parents to excel at everything and measure up to perfect siblings. what to do with little sisters dabbling in dangerous activities. loneliness. living life radically for Jesus.
we had never had quite that much of a break through before, and it was clear that the different stories were resonating. and it was happening all across the camp.

we all blew off some steam with a little football game in the rain. guys against girls. guys on their knees. girls on foot. (with baby oil on their legs… wishful thinking that this would make them harder to get a hold of) it was muddy. it was intense. in the spirit of not wanting to be a quadriplegic, i did not play, but took pictures. the girls managed to make it out of there with a tie.

with the wet day, the activities they would normally do (zip line into the lake, high ropes, technical tree climbing, mountain biking, paint ball) took a backseat to hanging out, talking, and just being "chill." God continued to do a work in the free hours of the afternoon.
there's more…

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

journeys. take two.

the day dawned with mixed skies with blustery winds. the mountains are spectacular in just about any kind of weather, and today we were treated to the smoky variety (aka smoky mountains). leaves were falling in droves with the gusts of wind and several of the students were having a contest to see who could catch the most (an entertaining activity to watch). as we were standing outside of the lodge where we had our morning devotions, the Lord blessed me with a reminder of his promise.
the sun was behind the mountain which made such a beautiful shadow on the ridge. the clouds were moving overhead so rapidly that the landscape in the sky was changing so quickly that it was like watching a movie. a snapshot would be a visual reminder of that time even though it would fail miserably at capturing the beauty of the moment.
after yesterday's sharing time, the students were invited to make observations of what they had seen. to try to put a word or phrase to what they noticed about the speakers.
needy. self conscious. wreckless. angst-filled. hopeless. cocky. worldly. lost. lonely. confused. unchurched. broken. angry. bitter. apathetic.
you name it. it was out there.
journeys part two was more sharing from a high schooler's point of view. afterwards, the students were invited to ask questions, and the speakers would answer like we would have as if we were still in high school.
i was third to share. yikes. my heart is pounding. focus.
"welcome to milwaukee. moved again.
but unlike our last move, this one was right in the middle of spring break and i entered into school being the only new kid. frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. and no one knew me as the medical freakshow girl anymore, so it was kinda strange when people treated me like i was normal.
believe it or not, but the popular kids liked me and wanted to hang out with me.
me? popular? are you kidding me??
dave, this incredibly gorgeous specimen of a senior started talking to me and it wasn't long before we were "going out."
ummm. i'm going out with a guy. who thinks i'm pretty. a guy thinks i'm pretty??
two friends have warned me about watching out for dave. huh? what could possibly be wrong with dave? he noticed me and wants to be with me. what the heck could possibly be wrong with that?? i really don't care what they say. i have a boyfriend.
graduation night, and i'm at a party with my friends, and dave is there. after a while, he asks me to go for a walk. we stop at a nearby golf course, and we sit on a hill overlooking the course. there's a little makey outy, and before long, it's getting out of hand. i'm NOT that kind of girl i think, and i try to push him away. this only seems to spur him on and the next thing i know, i'm pinned underneath him. i'm struggling now, and panicking, but nothing is working. this is NOT how i expected i would lose my virginity. with a hand clamped over my mouth and searing pain.
i don't remember how i got back to that party, but i did, and my friends drove me home. i didn't say a word.
i never wanted to give dave the satisfaction of knowing how much he hurt me, so i pretended nothing happened. thankfully, i didn't have to see him in school, and soon he was away to college.
the only person i told was my sister, who is 9 years older and lived a thousand miles away. who else would believe me? and i could never tell my mom. she always protected me. it would kill her to know she couldn't keep me safe.
i was wounded. and empty. and stuffing my emotions down so no one, not even i, could see."
more tomorrow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

journeys. part one.

sleep was illusive the night before we left for camp. i ended up just getting up at about 3 and worked on a few projects, watched my dvr'd greys anatomy and thought about my upcoming weekend at doe river gorge.
i knew it was the enemy that woke me… telling me all the things i'm too willing to believe.
i also know that Jesus squashed down the feelings of defeat. i know in my heart of hearts this is what i'm called to do… i just don't have the confidence sometimes that my story has eternal value.
we arrived to camp to a pleasantly crisp fall evening. almost a full moon occasionally obscured by wickedly fast-moving clouds. so beautiful and so impossible to capture. for me, it was a welcome distraction as we waited to go into the the tent for our first meeting.
i was so nervous about speaking and how to tell my story.
six of us leaders were going to be journeying with our high school friends throughout the weekend. the first two sessions we would be speaking as if we were in high school. the last two would be as we began to notice Christ and then our lives since, and up to the present.
i had some pretty gritty things to share and i realized that i have not really completely healed as i have done a good job of continuing to stuff issues down so i don't have to feel the pain.
unstuffing my life scared me. although i couldn't really put my finger on the fear. what exactly was i afraid of?
other than public speaking. yikes. i'd rather eat a live spider.
okay, that was a lie. but not far off of the fear and trembling of addressing high schoolers!
get a grip. okay. first meeting. . .
all of us are in the gathering. as our song (a song each of us had previously chosen to reflect our journey) played, we emerged from the crowd and went up front and each shared for about 3 minutes. porcelain heart by the barlow girls begins to play… my turn.
"just moved. again. freshman year and i'm the new girl. not like that is bad enough, but after just three months in school, i disappear for two months and come back in a body cast. i'm fourteen years old, i have no friends, and now i look like a medical freak. i can feel the stares, and i'm sick with anxiety. and since i had to learn how to walk again, i have trouble with tripping. falling in class… with an armload of books… i learn to laugh at myself. making jokes about my situation helps. i'd rather laugh at myself before people can laugh at me.
ohmystars, could life get any more humiliating?"
to be continued…