Do you think it’s possible to be grateful for things that don’t seem very pleasant, or at ALL pleasant, at the time you are experiencing them?  Maybe possible, but not very probable?

Do you think God is honored by our lips uttering Thank You, when are hearts are heavy and broken with the pain of sadness or loss?

Is there any personal gain in a posture of thankfulness, no matter the circumstance?

This is where I can’t answer for anyone but myself, and have nothing but my own experience to draw from.  My losses have been big.  Relationship and  Health, to name two big categories. There are others that best go unnamed…we all have those.

What you may or may not know about me is that I am FAR from perfect.  Really, really, really in process, people. I’ll list a few of my in-process character flaws for you here:  impatient, insistent, know-it-all, impulsive, and incredibly disorganized. I can  look good, but I’m really just as broken as you are.  This admission is critical lest you mistakenly think I’m somehow not as…flawed as the rest of us are.  I promise you, I am.

The realization of my state of brokenness put me in a position of thankfulness, by the way.  That was the starting line for me.

I also had a theology that included the expectation that life here includes some measure of sadness and sorrow.  That there is value to be had in suffering, if you will.  I realize that this is unpopular, but that life view helped me when I came face to face with loss.  I don’t recall a crisis of faith.  I didn’t question the ultimate  goodness of my God, and I do know that I have been able to keep going, despite real and deep hurt.

You can’t, wait…I couldn’t… see clearly when I was in the middle of a mess. But I knew deep down that if I kept walking, at some point those clouds would break, and my thankfulness uttered in confusion would give way to gratefulness for what pain yields.

Thankfulness cried out in hurt is a gritty gratefulness, a heart determined to cling to what you know to be true. God is good, no matter how dark the day. God is for my good, no matter how deep the pain. And I want my life to bring God glory.  Gratefulness is but a road.

We follow

Everything is changing, and I don’t know who to see about that.

The ground is shaking . Because That’s what happens when someone is sick.

And she is really, really sick.

She’s the sister I’ve loved the longest. She already WAS when I was born.  She leaned over to look at me and softly said “My sissy”.

My sissy indeed.  Knit together and friends.  Forever friends. Forever sisters.

Forever sisters walks alongside her as she walks into the dark of cancer. Sisters surround, pull together, gather up and tuck each other close. Safety in huddling. Safety in four sister’s love.


Can we hug enough to make this go away? Can the love we share chase this cancer back into the dark?

We aren’t the girls we used to be…but we are the girls we are today.

Years and years of secrets and whispering, giggling and hand-holding and defending is now the strength that buoys us.

On phone calls and tears and prayers and hand written notes. And cozy gifts to keep her warm and safe.

The pain of being unsure. Uncertain. Scared. Wanting so much not to be scared, but still . Scared

We.  Can’t. Do. this.

She. can. do. this.

She is doing this.

We follow her.



I’ve thought for years about the contributions one person makes in the world.

In a world crazy with fear and hate, how does one woman change anything? I wonder sometimes how I even impact those around me, let alone the world. And even in my own life, what do I do to make significant changes?

Last night was the last evening of our Christmas concerts at church.  And every year I get a bit more of the answers I long for.

I sing in the choir. And so do 40 others.

40 singers.  40 individual voices. 40 people contributing individual talent. And possibly 40 people thinking their contribution is small…nothing.

But this amazing sound is created.

Music. Soaring, beautiful, heartbreaking music.

The goal is to be so united and joined that you cannot distinguish one voice from another. To create one sound.

I can hardly wait, because when it happens, it’s so profound that my heart is surging and my soul is worshipping. Indescribable joy.

And I get it. That’s it.  That’s how the world is changed and I am changed. My voice joined with 39 others.

One voice heard by one heart, one soul…

At a time.




Not for Nothing



I keep wondering what will be left.

After all the trying, all the hoping, all the tears, after everything has been thought through, said, whispered, and prayed.  When my plans can’t budge what is best.

I still don’t know the rest of my dad’s story, but I know who is the Gracious Storyteller, dare I say the Author.  There are pages that we can’t see…parts of the book where the ink isn’t visible to our teary eyes.  And even though I can’t see everything, and I twist and swing against my confusion, this story will end with Restoration.  With a healthy, cancer-free dad. No more tears, no more darkness.  No more disease.  No more death. No more leaving daughters and wives. I believe.

Tears that fall aren’t wasted.

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that…

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Nonetheless. Joy.

I met this young woman, a college student then.  A wife and mother now.

Back then, my littles were little, and occasionally needed a babysitter. And so this lovely person drifted into our lives, faithfully watching them if we were out.

And they loved her. She had huge hair, wild and free.  And sparkling eyes.

So it isn’t surprising to me that she is loved so remarkably today…in Conway, Arkansas , no less, and in hearts no matter where.

She’s Pink, but not because she wants to be. Breast cancer never issues an invitation with an RSVP. It comes uninvited, swift and scary. It offers fear and worry…yours to take.

I still know her, although not in person.

I know her because faith friends are always faith friends.  And I know her because her blog is her story. And because her story is joy. Beautiful joy.

Imagine joy in breast cancer. Breast cancer defeated, then returns. Still joy.  Deep joy, unwavering joy.

Maybe you want to know her too.

Moving On

Hot Dogs and Marmalade

“He was my mentor,” she said to me as she gave me a hug. “If there’s anything — really anything — I can do, don’t hesitate to call.” She was a woman doctor, a little older than me, who had known my father for many, many years.

I couldn’t respond. My eyes well up with tears at the slightest provocation these days.

This past Sunday in church, I stood in the communion line behind an elderly couple, he supporting her down the aisle, waiting for her to dip her bread in the cup and get it into her mouth before he took his. I felt the tears.

Then it was my turn. “The body of Christ broken for you,” said the pastor as he extended a chunk of bread toward me. My friend held the cup. I think she said my name as I dipped the bread. I was too…

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I didn’t come up with this, so I must have heard it somewhere and adopted it…

Regardless, it has become my personal thing…mantra…saying…thought said out loud.

The posture of battle is praise.

It’s what I hope my children tell their future children.  Grandma lived her life this way. She knew a secret.  The way to deal with anguish, worry or failure…Praise God.

Praise.  God.

Before the battle, position yourself in the posture of praise. Knees to ground.  Hands up. Deep, full breaths.

A posture of gratitude and trust.  An acknowledgement of God is God, and I am not Him.

Receiving.  Then reflecting from the overflow.

Praise as response, praise as precursor.

Praise over, under, through.

From Your hand.

Through mine.white-heart-on-dooe.jpg



Smooth Surface

clear lakeSmooth is easiest, of course.

The glassy surface.  No wind. Clear. Beautiful and predictable.

But there will be no sailing on that water.

Best to stay on shore.  Watch from the edge. Let the worries keep me here.

It’s just not enough for me.  It never has been.  I want to move from where I stand.

A hunger not satisfied in my own efforts.

It’s a question He asks. Will you leave the shallow edge. Will I?

I long for deeper. Ruffled , troubled waters.  Wind.  Full sails.

In the yielding is the radical.

To follow as He beckons. To see what He sees. To know Him.

To listen.



No more exuberant greeting, freshly shaved face, or tender hug.

No more fist bump as he passed our pew after communion.

I never realized how much he did for me.

And now he’s gone.

What do I do with that?

He’s gone, and dad’s gone.

The tweed gentlemen…patriotic, honorable, kind.

After dad, his presence comforted.

When I hugged him, my cheek brushed his sportcoat, his cologne a reminder of  good and of memories. And he always kissed and patted.

Did he know he served my heart? Did he know his kindness was precious?

I won’t again walk into church without remembering him.

The tweed gentlemen aren’t here.

but are There…




Chased. Captured by Grace

” And by Your grace I’m made what I’m not. My unrelenting, ever creating, my ever chasing God. ”

It only happens when I’m captured.

I wait to write. Until I can’t wait any longer.

Because it has to be authentic. Artificial has no place here.

I heard it this morning.  Grace in the showering, hair and toothpaste. Grace in the making of bed…

The music captures, his voice and lyrics.  “At the well, I heard You call my name”.

Calling me by name.  Grace

“I drew You water but You drew me further”

Can it be?  He chases?  He redeems?

Being made into what I’m not.

This I know for sure.




Raspberries and 100 degrees

I remember begging.




Hot tears, blonde curls, big blue eyes.

And the reluctant “Yes” that he finally spoke.

So I rode my bike to the patch, so excited to be 13 with a job….picking raspberries at 7 cents/pint.  oh, and all I could eat…

The patch sat in the bright sun and black dirt, plump red raspberry dots on brambly bushes with sticky stickers, ready and waiting.

It was so fun, those first few days of hot skin sunburning and mouth full of warm fresh berries.  Picking and filling the pints, proud of quick, fast fingers.

The heat began in earnest on day three, beating and relentless on bare shoulders already scorched and sore, The stickers felt prickly, and fingers didn’t fly as easily.  100 degrees by noon.

Mrs. Farmer was screeching, urging us to work harder, faster, with less eating.

Day after day, dropping my bike to go out in the patch.  Hot sun, tired.  No longer eager.  The raspberries began to taste sour.

Begging again…this time to quit.

Please, dad.  Please.


More tears.  So many more tears.

Please let me quit.

And his steady gaze.  Looking straight into me.

“No, you may not quit.”

“You will finish what you started.”

I couldn’t be in the presence of a raspberry for years.  Years.

But I didn’t quit.

I saw it through, that 13th summer.