Seven Minutes Broke Me

Behind the wheel for seven minutes on three different occasions today is the only time I’m alone all day.  In some ways, I’m thankful for those twenty-one minutes and in other ways– I’m not.  I’ve been craving “me” time for days, yet I’m puled in a thousand different directions.  And some sick part of me thrives in the pull.  So, I breathe deep and run the plan through my head again for how to get it all done.

The first seven minutes is consumed with laying out the game plan for a full-day’s work.  Have I generated enough in our quiet season for my girls to train and maintain?  Have I responded to all of the exterior requests?  Am I meeting my own professional goals?  Do I have time to run all of the necessary errands at lunch and still visit with the people I’ve agreed to have lunch with today?  Did I make the right change during lunch to have lunch money for our kid?

The next seven minutes follows work as I drive to pick up the littlest lady in our family.  We have plans tonight so I need to sign her agenda at the stop-light.  I need her to get her homework folder out so we can make sure the right things go back to school.  She’s buying her lunch tomorrow so we need to put her $2 in there too.  It’s a two folder night, so don’t forget to ask for the yellow one too.  Be sure to explain to her the game plan for the twenty minutes we’ll have at home to pack the next day’s snack, take medicines, and lay out pajamas.  Change your own clothes. 

I’m mentally spent and emotionally confused and frankly, I’m tired of listening today.  I’ve sat across the table from people that I’m missed and laughed at stories shared.  I’ve coached the littlest one on how to breathe and just be, but on the inside I’m struggling to do the same.  I’ve heard things that I wish I could unhear and said things I’d like to take back.

It’s the third seven minutes that breaks me today.  I slide behind the wheel for the final few minutes alone and I breathe deep.  I know the tears will soon roll for feeling guilty about feeling spent and then feeling stupid for feeling spent when I’m just doing life.  But I’m not convinced that this is the life I’m cut out for.  I’m not cut out for surface conversations where no one’s really known and tasks that don’t generate Kingdom results.  So, I turn Casting Crowns on up and beg for Truth.

And, it’s delivered.  And I’m held in the midst of a wrestling that’s breaking me.  I’m just held and it’s by the One that created me.  He’s on the throne and none of this surprises Him.  So, I ask Him.  There’s more to this, right?!?
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“Mimi!  Look!  I have a Sophia the First book bag and lunch box and thermos.  I get to TAKE my lunch to Kindergarten.”

“You do?”

“Uh huh.  And Anna and Elsa folders.”

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I watch as she pulls out each new thing we’ve just bought for Kindergarten, excited and sharing what’s new.  She can hardly stand the excitement as she moves towards her new start.

 

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 “And this will be the girls bathroom and down this hall will be my room.”

 

She breathes deep and her eyes light up with each new thought and I know that look.  I had it not long ago myself when the husband and I walked through what would soon by our new home.  And while that decision did not come without our own version of pain, I know the healing that comes from moving into a new place for a new start.

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I slide behind the wheel and I thank God for moments of “new” and He takes that moment to remind me that He makes ALL things new.  And I’m humbled by all of the new that He’s giving us and pray that our excitement to tell of His great, life-giving, new creation kind of love will grow.  That we will be more excited to run and tell someone about that than we are about our new car, new shoes, new book bag…. new whatever.

May we never tire of telling our story of being a new creation in Christ…

 

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Bringing Lunch, Hugs, and Tears

“What do we do?  Is it too soon to start showing up with food?  Do they need space or people around them?  I never really know what to do in situations like this. I like to get task orientated in these moments, but I don’t know where to start. It feels like it should be different this time, right?”

“I know.  I already asked if we needed to clean the house or do laundry or anything.  Let me just be here a little more and find out what’s needed.  Maybe you could bring lunch out here.”

 

There’s really nothing to offer your friend when you hear the news that she’s lost her husband. There’s even less to offer when you look her sweet babies in the face and think about their loss of their father.  

Even still, I found my way through their back door. And I offered lunch.  And hugs. And shared tears. And the promise that they are deeply loved and fiercely prayed for. And I tried to find things to do for them, but really—there’s nothing you can do aside from just being there.

Today, I am feeling a little less task-oriented, and my mind is flooding with questions. Questions that have no answers outside of Jesus and really… that should be enough. But if we’re honest… in situations like this, I struggle to really rest there. So today, I’m thankful that Jesus welcomes my confusion and tears, and I’m trusting that He will use this for His glory. And in the spirit of fleshing this out, I offer you notes from my journal that inspired the very first blog I posted…

 

I am reminded that God is the ONLY one who can bring peace to a whirlwind of emotions.

I am reminded that, no matter how hard you try, you can never prepare yourself for the loss of a loved one.

I am reminded that God is still in the business of picking up the pieces to broken hearts.

I am reminded that, no matter how many memories you recount, it’s not the same as making them.

I am reminded that, even in the death of one of your closest friends, God can still bring glory to His name.

I am reminded that it’s still OK to cry. “Life” doesn’t give us that permission.  Tears have great value. Not one tear that is poured out before God ever goes unnoticed… God not only gives His children permission to cry; He rather encourages it.

I am reminded that, in a room full of people that you’ve known your entire life, you can still feel like you’re very much alone.

I am reminded that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so remembering to tell each other today that we love each other is a must.

I am reminded that, no matter how much you’d like to avoid it, “goodbye” comes whether you’re ready or not.

I am reminded that God is who says He is and can do what He says He can do.  Which means, He is absolutely capable of using the death of one of His children to bring glory to His name.  He is God.

 

Now… go hug your loved ones and be thankful for the time you have together. And be bold enough to tell that stranger looking “down” that they matter. Bake a pan of brownies and walk through that neighbor’s door that’s struggling.

I’m learning that to just be is enough.  And to those of you that come beside me to just be when that’s what I need… thank you.

T’was the First Day of Kindergarten

T’was the first day of Kindergarten

And all through our house

Every creature was stirring

No one quiet as a mouse

 

The supplies were all labeled

And her lunch was packed

Her picture was taken

Nothing was lacked

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The drive was not far

We were greeted with care

The moment was coming

We’d soon leave her there

 

We made our way down the hall

She held my hand tight

I knew that we could do this

In our God’s great might

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The tears rolled quietly

This task was not light

It was harder for me

My mom was right

 

Nervous for her

I prayed all day

I know she will do this

She’ll learn the way

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I left as soon as the clock chimed five

I was ready to get to see her

She talked ninety-five miles an hour

Everything was quickly becoming a blur

 

 

She loved it!

This little one we’ve begotten

We lived it.

This first day of Kindergarten

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When God Smiles At You

When I was in college, Sunday nights used to be one of the best times to call home and catch up.  That was until my parents started going out every Sunday night to meet good friends at our local Pizza Inn.  It didn’t take long for me to be jealous of that pizza place; it was quickly edging me out of my calls home.  I would call just to hear “Can I call you back?  Your daddy and I are at Pizza Inn and Will’s visiting with us right now.”  Who would have thought that the relationships he was building then would later become his in-laws!

It’s the place we first met.  It’s the first place that our (now) family went out together.  It’s the place that welcomed the husband back with arms wide open when it was time to return to work.  It’s where the littlest girl in our home and I go to see Daddy, share cheese bread, and leave with kisses and balloons.  We celebrated turning five in its corner.  It’s a staple in our family.  It’s Pizza Inn.

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And yet… it’s a door that God is closing in order to swing another one wide open.  Our season of waiting for our family to be on the same schedule has come to an end.  And we breathe in deep and sigh slowly, thankful.  Thankful for what Pizza Inn has given our family and thankful for what my husband is going to take with him when he leaves.

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We sit at our kitchen table and I watch as our little one learns why her new after-school plan makes more sense than what we had told her just two months ago.

 “Our family has been praying for something for a long time now.”

She raises her hand.  “Daddy, I know what it is.  Can I tell you?”

“Sure.”

“For you to get a new job!”

“Yes.  Well, God has answered that.  Pretty soon I will be taking a new job at the YMCA.”

“That’s where I’m going to camp!”

They go ‘round and ‘round in conversation, trying to help her understand how this is all going to work and I smile.  Our family is already breathing lighter.  I can feel the pressure alleviating.

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Tonight, our prayers changed.  Instead of “Lord, please”, we begin to say “Thank You.”  And we give thanks for all the ways that God is allowing our family to move forward together.  And our little one gives thanks that Daddy’s going to be home by the time we walk in the door in the afternoons.  And I give thanks for a husband that is not only brave enough to lead our family, but is willing to sacrifice the comfortable to move towards what’s best for us.

And I thank YOU!  You who read this and joined us in praying.  You stood in the gaps for us when I was tired of praying for it.  You sent encouraging words our way and we are so thankful to have you walk through this with us.

We’re excited!  Y’all pray that my husband still likes me now that he actually has to hang out with me more.  🙂

Safe People

Our little lady packed her bags for my parents and I packed our bags for my Mars Hill parents.  The husband and I had blocked out a couple of days weeks ago to get away for a couple of days and just be us.  And the weekend was finally here.  We threw our stuff in the Honda and headed to the hills.

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The weekend started with dinner and food went unfinished because we couldn’t share the excitement of what’s happening our way fast enough.  I watched as my husband’s eyes lit up and he shared like he’s known them his whole life.  It felt good to finish a sentence, share new experiences, and catch up with old friends.  It was refreshing to just be us.

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That’s the thing about these folks.  You do get this sense that you have known them your whole life.  And you get this sense that they understand everything you aren’t saying.

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She and I walked campus and took in all of the changes while the men folks made homemade ice cream.  Tears were shed, laughs were had, and she was Jesus with skin on for me.

We’re home now and I already miss the genuine conversations had around their familiar dining room table.  My heart is full and I am thankful to have had the time well spent sharing hearts and filling in the gaps from our last visit.  Your heart and your story are safe there.  Grace is poured out and love is received.

A little over two years ago, I posted this.  And tonight, I’m reminded of how important it is to be a safe person for the folks you are in community with; the ones you do life with.  And tonight, I’m praying that my heart and my story are safe on this side of the state and that I am a safe person for others.

So I’ll ask you again.  What about you?  Are you a safe person?

The Gift of Waiting and Glory of Empty Dates

For the first time since my mini-me and I can remember, our whole family was together for the whole weekend.  From a Friday evening in our own backyard to a family adventure on Saturday and church together on Sunday—we reveled in the glory of empty dates on our calendar.  We shopped for Kindergarten, ate more than a take-out meal at our kitchen table, and piled up on the couch for a movie.  And we were reminded how much fun we have together.  We chose not to fill our time with the stuff that could have filled our time, but we just thanked the Lord for this gift of free time and said thank you.  We told stories from the early days of our family first coming together and we laughed often, sang loud, and napped hard. 

We took the gift of waiting (not a favorite of the girls in our home) and we enjoyed it.  And we know that this waiting will be worth it.  In this waiting, we are coming into the dreams that we couldn’t see just two weeks ago.  And these dreams match the heart of God better than the ones we had for ourselves.  And our family likes to match. 

 

And in the spirit of sharing what’s being sung in our car these days, here’s to keeping things simple…