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Month: January, 2012

The List.

I have a list.  You know the kind.  It’s not one I’m proud of.  That ugly record of wrongs that I insist I have the right to hold on to.   The items on the list are etched into memory so I can carry them wherever I go.  And this – this is The Ugly.

There is that familiar chapter, quoted at so many weddings, that speaks of The Beautiful .  “Love is patient, love is kind… Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

We spoke of these words before our own union, two young fools in love.   We saw the Beautiful in each other, noticed that kind, patient, selfless love in one another, the image of God stamped.  Vows were made before our Father and His Church and in a sacred moment I am his and he is mine.

This love – patient, kind, giving, selfless – is Beauty I wish to behold each day in us.  It is the stuff of a great marriage, a great life.  The Beautiful has taken my breath away countless times, as I’ve learned what it is to love and be loved and I have been caught up in the sheer joy of it.

And yet…  At times…

I choose something different.  The self.  The list. “Because I have a right to be hurt, and you were in the wrong, and shouldn’t you have known better by now, and why do you deserve to be forgiven anyway?”

The list is a mask I use to hide behind my own shame.  A way to keep him at a distance so I don’t have to face…me.  If I have the list, I can be right, I can be first…

But even as I defend my rights, hold on to my anger, I can feel the ugliness of it.  And Beauty whispers its own fragrance.  Calls me to lay it down.  Love perseveres…

There is no love that is apart from Love Himself.  And the God of Love bore the weight of all wrongs, and cast the list into a great sea.

I have been forgiven much.  Loved much.  And when I stop and breathe in the fullness of it, I am overcome.  Love never fails…

Good news.  That the Author of Love pursues me with his unfailing love.  And that in His great story He chose to unite me with a man who would make love something I could feel and touch and see.  And it is Beautiful.


1,096 Gifts.

Every day counts.  Every last one.

Our 55 foster children taught us that.  The phone rings and we scramble, make beds, pull out plastic bins of clothes and whisper a prayer for the little one who has been torn to their rescue.  They walk through that door with any mix of hope and fear, longing and loss, confusion and understanding.  Then a chapter begins, but will it be for a few hours?  A day?  Two?  Will days turn into weeks, weeks into months?  Seasons may even pass, but in a single moment the page can turn, and we will be scrambling, packing, sometimes shouting our prayers and… saying goodbye.  Even our goodbyes have no definition, our parting no foresight.

That is the story of the hellos and goodbyes but the real story is in those days in between.

We had just begun our most difficult goodbye yet.  I ached with the pain too many mothers know.  In those precious in-between moments, not by planning or the words of the law but by one of Love’s miracles they had become in my heart my daughters.  And in my heart I had become a mother.   But the story wasn’t what we had drafted in our minds and we were broken.  The grief swelled and the emptiness burned.

What do you do when your plans fall apart?  I wish I could say I knew.  I just remember scrambling from thought to thought, looking for some escape, some new plan to make sense of this heartbreak.   Foolishness, thinking that I who was not in control could find something new to hold on to and control on my own.

Ah, grace.

Grace found us.  Here in our scurrying, in our doubt, in our indignant anger, Grace had a plan all of His own.  Even now, thinking of it, I am humbled to tears.  Because Grace gifted us with a son.

He turned three today, that sweet child of mine.  So much life, joy, hope, and love we see in him, this little bearer of God’s image.  He is three with all of the things that normally go with it… the tantrums, the (especially) messy potty-training, the embarrassing public behavior.  But this day, each one, is a gift.  A grace-filled, messy, God-given, beautiful gift.

                        Every moment’s a chance to love you

                        Every day a new day to teach you that

                        Every good and perfect gift comes from above…


So with a full, grateful heart I say thank you to the Giver of these good gifts.  For these 1,096 days with my precious son.

                        So even when time seems to fly right by us

                        Even when heartache comes to try us

                        I will hold you

                        And we’ll hold on to Jesus

                        With every little moment I’ll love you, little one. 

Capes to Crosses

By Matthew

Superheroes wear capes.  This is a fact we all know.  However, you may not be aware, but there have been epic battles between men of formable strength and boys with powers to stop time fought here in my very own living room.  It’s true.  In fact, sometimes these heroes can fly like birds.  Other times, they use powers of  fleet footedness to escape impending peril (a.k.a. pajamas).  This is a magical land – dreams turn into reality, and action is never lacking.

But superheroes are commonplace.  Or, in these parts, about as common as bears, dogs, and monsters.

However, you can imagine my surprise recently, when in a land not too far away (a.k.a. the dinner table), my three-year old announces boldly, “I’m big Jesus, and Casen is baby Jesus.”  This is not a typical statement one makes between bites of  noodles.  So, I’ll admit, this proclamation was met with a few chuckles, as well as a proud smile from mom and dad.

To be a superhero, all we need is a cape.

“Yes my child.  You can be like Jesus.”

And there you’ve done it.  Once again you’ve taught me.  You know the truth that imaginations and reality are not clearly divided – for the Kingdom is already here.  So join me, my son…


Let us put on our tunics and walk the dirty streets  

Heal the sick and cure the lame

Let us seek justice and compassion for those with no voice

Let us call evil by its name without apologies

Let us dine with the outcasts and speak Truth from the hills

Cast out devils and pray in your name 

Your Kingdom come,

Your will be done

On Earth, as it is in Heaven




“I lift up my eyes…”


When I picture hope, I see those two pairs of dark brown eyes looking up, believing in something more.


“…to the mountains…”


Where to turn? What hill after this valley?  What refuge after this battle?

They’ve begged her to put the bottle down, pleaded.   They want to see her smile, laugh, check their homework, do the dishes.  Be there.  Yet deeper into the valley she goes, towing them along.


“Where does my help come from?”



Is there a place where help flows down, where you can drink hope like water?  They’d travel anywhere, wouldn’t they?  Search high and low for this help, this well.

But hope is here.  Because Hope has come.  He has seen those eyes, felt the wet of their tears.  And has come to be there.


I read the words aloud to these precious children, “My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.”


These words, truth spoken into their life, have been sung over me as well…

We could squeeze more than 50 of us high-schoolers into that living room.  Every Tuesday night we came, gathered, prayed, grew friendships, told stories of Hope come and coming.  In that giant circle we sang to our Maker.  And we also sang to each other.  Sang that precious truth that Help has come.  One guitar and tens of yearning voices raised this psalm of hope.


I must now sing these words to them.  Their Help has come.  Even where I cannot be, He is there.  Hope has come.


May that truth ring in their ears, in mine, in yours…

Make a joyful noise.

It was as if he knew.

Big blue eyes stare down at chubby fingers with wonder.  “These are my hands?”  They reach, grasp, hold.  He always seems amazed at just what his little fingers can do, as if each time he grabs his red block it is the first time.  So much wonder in a child.  Eight months new, and everything fresh, real, alarming.

So when two little hands first meet, finding each other, clapping – instant surprise, immediate joy.

It was as if he knew… that this is what his hands were made for.  His first applause – for who?   His joy, giggles – for what audience?

These little hands, so perfectly crafted, ten grasping fingers, palms outstretched, give praise back to the One who made them.  These hands – his hands – were made to worship.  He must know.

Know what I must relearn daily, hourly.  That this body is not mine.  This vessel, meant to be used.  Intended for great joy.  Intended for worship.   A child discovers they can make a noise, and it is filled with joy.  When he sees that his hands can come together, make noise, and do it all over again, he finds joy so freely, so simply.

How can I praise you, my King?  When my hands come together, do I smile at the sound of it, knowing You receive some glory in my living as I was intended to live?   My life worshipping as it was made to worship?

Teach me, child, your simple joy.  Let us worship our Maker, together.