Basketball, Car Trouble, Faith

This past weekend I got to take my kids to their first basketball tournament. It was a lot of fun. Our teams played well. Our boy’s team got second place. Yay team! Our girls played hard. Our cheerleaders were awesome. I had a lot of fun getting to know other parents from our school. 

I did learn something about myself. I have never been a sports person. I’m not athletic and I’ve never particularly felt like watching other people play sports. Now, I’m wondering if I don’t watch sports because subconsciously I just know I can’t handle that level of excitement/stress/anxiety/emotional involvement. The girls championship game came first before our the boys championship game and I was watching and I did not know anyone on the court and I found myself getting so upset and yelling (it was a vicious game) and cheering and I felt ALL THESE EMOTIONS and I was thinking, good grief, I’m not cut out for this kind of excitement. And then I had to watch our team play right after that. Needless to say, by the time the tournament was over I was wiped out. 

We had to travel to North Carolina for the tournament which meant we had around a six hour drive back home. I made a joke to some of the other parents about hoping I didn’t break down on the way home (FORESHADOWING). I should have kept my mouth shut (FORESHADOWING). I really wasn’t worried though. My husband had just recently fixed some things and taken the same car for a road trip and had no problems.

Just a little information. Our family drives old cars. My husband buys them cheap and then fixes them up cause he’s got skills like that. If my car breaks down, I call him, he comes and rescues me, we move on. I don’t love it. It’s what we do to live on the budget we have. It works well enough. Also means I’ve got lots of crazy stories. 

So, I’m zipping along the interstate, already feeling a little stressed. I don’t like driving at night. I don’t like driving when I’m tired. I was keeping myself pumped up with loud praise music, caffeine and sugar. Then suddenly a bright yellow, CHECK ENGINE light starts flashing and I start losing power. My car slows down about 10 mph and then does a little kick and keeps going and then the whole car starts jerking so I pull over. In the dark, on the side of a mountain road. Nothing around us. I no longer need caffeine and sugar. I’ve got pure adrenaline pumping through my veins. 

I will tell you another thing about myself. When I am in a high stress situation, I start praying out loud. And maybe swearing a bit too. It’s a weird mix. My two middleschoolers sit silently and watch me. Unfortunately for them, they’ve been in this situation before. I call my husband who walks me through some things to check. I open the hood of the car like I know what I’m doing, while my son holds my cellphone/flashlight. Everything checks out. So now my husband knows what is NOT the problem. He finally tells me to start driving again, slow down, see what happens. I check my fuel gauge, I’ve got a quarter tank, I need to stop soon and get gas (FORESHADOWING). 

So I start driving again, out-loud praying has resumed. I quickly discover that when driving on flat stretches or going down hill, my car can go about 60mph before it starts jerking. Going up hill I have to slow down to around 40-45mph. Did I also mention that I’m just starting to head up the mountain pass through the Smokies? 

It’s dark. It’s late. I’m constantly having to slow way down, put on my hazard lights and crawl my way up the mountain. And I’m just trying to get home. I turn off the heater because that has caused problems in the past, so now I’m freezing, got my gloves on, gripping the steering wheel hard. Music is off because I was using my phone to listen to music and realized my battery is low, and I don’t have the proper adaptor to charge my phone in the car. 

I’m driving along, we’ve passed all the cities and we are now smack in the middle of the mountains. Suddenly, no matter how much I slow down, my car won’t stop jerking. Out loud praying and swearing starts again. I look at my gas gauge, I’m below the E line. Way below. I forgot to get gas. I was so focused on trying to keep my car moving, I FORGOT GAS!! Y’all. I’m not cut out for the adventurous life. I don’t have the brain cells to keep track of everything when I’m stressed. I felt like such an idiot. And my prayer became, LORD, I’M AN IDIOT. PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON ME. And I almost fell apart. And it’s weird, but at that moment, I suddenly thought of a book I am reading. In the book the main character is a leader with people under him. And he really takes that responsibility to heart. They look to him for help and he knows it’s his job to help them. And I thought, there is no way an author can create a character who is better than God. God is the one charge of taking care of me, and he takes that responsibility a lot more seriously than some character in a book. He’s going to help me. And then my son quickly points out a rest area sign, Look MOM! A rest area! I debated with myself for a moment. There’s no gas at a rest area, but at least it’s a safe place, better than the side of the road and there will be people who can help me. 

We pulled in and there was a lady outside as part of the cleaning crew. I went up to her and explained my problem and she pulled out her phone and called the Highway Patrol. (*HP if you ever need to call them!). Highway patrol came about ten minutes later and gave me two gallons of gas. We got back on the road and had a little more stress trying to find a gas station out in the middle of nowhere that would be open at 11pm. But, I pulled into a closed gas station and their pumps were on. We got gas, and an hour later I finally got home. 

In the midst of all this, when everything started going crazy, my daughter asked in an uncertain voice, “Are we ok?” And I said, Listen, I’m going to get you home. I guarantee that. There might be some adventures between now and home, but we will get home eventually. And apparently her faith in me was strong because she wrapped herself up in a blanket and went to sleep and slept through all the rest of the craziness. My son even managed to sleep a bit once I got gas in the car. 

As I was getting close to home, I couldn’t help thinking, WHY??? And what came to my mind was that my two middleschoolers got to watch their mom handle a stressful situation. They listened to me pray and ask Jesus to help us and get us home safely and then they got to watch Jesus help us and get us home safely. And they also heard me acknowledge his help and thank him. Christian discipleship. I show you what the Christian walk looks like, and you learn from watching me. And you grow in your faith. And in the process I grow in my faith too. 

Next time though, I think I might rent a car. 

The Art of Being Invisible

Being invisible has been one of my core defenses since I was very young. If people don’t see you they won’t tease you. Bully you. Ridicule you. If people don’t see you then they won’t know you. If they don’t know you they don’t have any power to hurt you. 

In our society there are a lot of ways to become invisible. Being overweight is a good one. I read this article one time of a woman who did an artistic photo journey of her transformation from obesity to normal weight. One of the key things that stood out in her photos was the invisibility of being overweight. We are a society that puts a heavy emphasis on physical beauty and if you don’t fit into that category, you become invisible. 

Another way to become invisible which is more universal, is to simply not be young any more. Our books, movies, tv shows, advertisements, all focus on youth. Sure you can still stand out as an older person as long as you still have a youthful body, face, and style. 

As a mom I have found surrounding myself with children is a good way to make myself invisible. Everyone’s focus is on the children, Beauty! Youth! Sweet adorableness! 

Being overweight is a journey I’m still walking out. Ageing is inevitable. Being surrounded by kids has turned out to be my calling. These are all things that just make me invisible inevitably. Not choices I have particularly made. But the choice for invisibility that I do consciously make is the choice to be silent. 

In case you all haven’t noticed, I generally have a lot to say. As a kid in school, I was always the quiet one, but if the teacher asked a question in class, I had my hand raised, ready to answer. I like discussions. I like engaging in talks about ideas. I will gladly skip small talk, but if you open up with a heavy topic, I’m all in. 

Over the past months as our lives kind of spiralled out of control for a bit there and the amount of crazy life situations I was having to deal with reached an insane level, I resorted to all the defense mechanisms that always helped me survive in the past. Defense number one: become invisible. Retreat into silence. 

Now, I feel lke I am on the other side of the storm. There are some hurts and damage and I’ve got to help my kids walk through the healing process, but it feels like we have reached calm waters again. And I feel like I’m in a different kind of dangerous place. Being silent is comfortable. It feels safe. I sit here in my house, my kids have returned to school, and I have no desire to leave my cocoon. I have no desire to interact with anyone. Even in the relative anonymity of Facebook, I find myself writing and then erasing my comments because I just don’t want to engage. I don’t want to be seen. And while I feel like being invisible was necessary for the particular circumstances we were in, it’s not a place to stay. 

I have a great imaginary life in my head. Stories I come back to over and over again. In the past year, I have started analysing these stories. Why do I like these? What draws me to this story? And I have come to realize that the attraction in these stories is that it is someone invisible who becomes seen. Recognized. And through that recognition, given worth. I have a deep longing to be seen. To experience the true intimacy of being known. I know, in my mind, that God sees me. That Jesus’ work on the cross has already given me value. But somehow it feels like my ability to fully walk in that truth is wrapped up in my ability to also walk it out with the people around me. 

And so I find myself facing this new year wondering if I have it in me to open my mouth and speak again. To engage with people again. To take the time and energy to truly see the people around me and take the risk of letting myself be seen. 

The Christmas Newsletter

Hello Everyone, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, and while I’m not yet at a place where I’m going to be writing regularly I wanted to give you all an update on life. 

December 11th, we went to court and our foster daughter was reunited with her birth family. It’s been a three year journey and we are happy at how it has all ended, but our family is going through a transition period. 

We had a rough Fall with some tragedy in the family from which we are still picking up the pieces.

My oldest son joined the army and I’ve had to wrap my head around that reality. But, he’s home for Christmas so that is wonderful. 

Both my husband and I had relatives pass away.  

My kids have been attending a small private Christian school and it has been a wonderful experience for them. They have blossomed. It has been a joy to see them do well in their school work, make good friends, get involved in school sports and just come home happy every day. 

My older kids continue to be awesome, working hard, pursuing their goals. 

I am in the December crunch, trying to manage everyone’s schedules, all the extra events and activities. Make all the festivities happen for the family. It’s busy, but a fun kind of busy. I do feel like I’m in a race though as we approach the last week till Christmas and I still haven’t finished all my Christmas shopping. Oh well. It will happen somehow and all come together at the last minute as usual. 

All my kids will be home for Christmas and I plan on just basking in togetherness these next couple weeks. 

I’ve thought about my blog off and on but have had no words to share. The reunification process of our foster daughter was pretty intense and now I feel like I’ve been carrying around a 100 pound weight for three years and suddenly it’s gone and I’m not sure what to do with myself. When I think about writing the only word that comes to my mind is Rest. So, that is what I plan on doing for the immediate future. Just let all these things settle into place in my mind and soul. 

I just want to let you all know that God is good. He has carried me through some pretty crazy situations. He has strengthened me and enabled me to do some really hard things. His grace and peace have covered me in the lowest valleys. I am overwhelmed at his goodness to me. I am excited to see what the future holds. And right now I plan on focusing on my family, celebrating Jesus, and resting. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and take some time to ponder and wonder at how loved you are by God. 

Seeing the Light

I had a wonderful weekend. What made it so wonderful was the fact that we didn’t have to go anywhere. Minimal running around. Just doing chores around the house, homework. My husband worked on chopping wood in the yard. The younger kids did chores and then went outside to help their dad. Older kids buckled down to finish book reports that are due at the end of each month. I got my shopping done and put away. Got to practice some Christmas music with my husband. Just our family hanging around peacefully together. On Sunday we had a small potluck at our house and practiced more Christmas music with a group from our church. I got a phone call from my son who is in the army now. Sunday evening we sat around the fire and I read a big stack of books to my little kids. Just an all-round wonderful weekend. 

When I was a child and a teenager when I thought about adulthood, if I did at all, I thought about adventures. Travel. Movement. Now, as an adult, I still like travel and adventure, but those are more like fancy decorations on the cake. The cake itself is the main event. And I have found that the main event for me is the everyday living. Getting up in the morning, turning on the lamp and feeling warm and cozy in my bedroom. Rubbing my little boy’s head as I wake him up for school. Listening to the sweet chatter of my kids as they get ready for the day. Sitting in a quiet clean house and reading my Bible. Talking on the phone with my oldest daughter and laughing together over silliness. Going to the grocery store and recognizing the people that work there, having a friendly conversation in the checkout line. Exchanging text messages with my husband throughout the day.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

They feast on the abundance of your house;

    you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

    in your light we see light.

Psalm 36:7-9

In my younger days when I would hear things like, “The abundance of your house”, “river of delights”, “fountain of life”, I think my mind went to material things. Wealth. Abundance of stuff. Experiences that only money can buy. I never thought about it as peace in the everyday living. Contentment with the path you are walking. The ability to see beauty and wonder in the normal world around you.  I am learning that when we walk with Jesus we are given the ability to see things through a completely different filter. “In your light we see light.” 

This morning my kids were getting ready for school. My son had finished his book report project which included making a board game out of legos for the book, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. His siblings were very impressed and he took the time to explain it to them. And I sat there and watched them and I felt overwhelmed with how wealthy and rich I am. My children are like treasure chests full of costly jewels. They are incredible! Beautiful! Wonderful! And I have the amazing wonder of getting to be their mom and spend regular Monday mornings with them, eating breakfast, getting ready for school. My life is so rich in blessing. I don’t think there are sufficient words to describe how blessed I am. 

This isn’t a brag fest. It’s encouragement to take a look at your own life. The treasures are there, surrounding you. Take some time to see them! Walk in Jesus’ light so you too can see light. 

Georgette Heyer, Confrontation, and Warriors

I just read a new book recently, “The Foundling” by Georgette Heyer. Regency Romance fluff. Except it wasn’t a romance. It was about a young man, a Duke, who was orphaned at birth, raised by his doting uncle and his staff and now, as a young man is finding his very protected, cosseted position rather suffocating. He wants to go out in the world and prove that he can actually take care of himself without the help of all of his faithful retinue. A coming of age type book. With a lot of humor. The main character is Gilly and he is a slight, short, gentle type, not very remarkable in his looks, but very kind. He is raised with an older cousin Gideon who is tall, handsome, muscular, in the Life Guards, fought in the war, and very fond of his little cousin. Gideon helps his cousin take off on an adventure, but later discovers the adventure got a bit too dangerous so he sets off to save the day. But when he arrives he discovers that his little cousin has already saved himself and has jumped head first into a whole new set of mishaps that he handily manages on his own. Several times Gideon is ready to jump in and help, but learns along with everyone else that his little cousin is very capable of taking care of himself and does not need the level of protection he’s used to offering. 

Ok. Sorry, long summary. There is a point. In the story Gideon was my favorite character. He was a protector. Capable. Everyone is safe when he’s around. I’ll come back to this in a second. 

Lately my foster parent life has been fraught with conflict. I have had to stand my ground in conversations with lawyers and angry persons and people who are just trying to stir up conflict because that’s the only world they know. I have had to be confrontational about wrongs done and I’ve had to deal with some really difficult topics. Y’all, that is not me. In the dictionary there is a picture of me next to the word nonconfrontational. I hate conflict of any kind. I hate people being angry. I hate awkwardness. And in one sense, this is good. I do not jump into fights, I diffuse them. I need peace at all times. And if I don’t have peace, I feel like I have done something wrong. But God has been showing me that a lot of times I avoid conflict and end up with unresolved problems that just fester under the surface and get worse. I don’t confront people, but maybe there are some things that need to be confronted. So that justice can happen, or maybe simply growth of character. I am having to learn that conflict is not my enemy. I am just at the baby steps of learning this, but it seems like God is throwing all kinds of situations my way so that I can get some practice. 

Back to Gideon. I have been wanting a Gideon to just show up in my life and slay the enemy. Run interference. Fix the problem. I am obviously too small and slight and weak to have to be handling this. 

This morning during our worship service I was still a ball of nerves from the latest confrontation and I was crying out to God for help. Protection. Why are you letting all these things come my way, why aren’t you keeping all this craziness far away from me? And while I was praying and singing I got a brief vision. It was me and I was all dressed up in shiny armor with a big shiny sword and I was battling some unseen enemy. And the thought that came to me was, you don’t need a warrior to protect you, you are the warrior and you are one protecting others. And I was looking at this person and thinking, that’s not me, I’m just a weakling, but then I could see that everything I was doing was being powered by the Holy Spirit, like a lightning bolt just resting on me, feeding me power. 

A little later I suddenly remembered this book “The Foundling”  again and I realized that I had missed the whole point of the book. The whole point was that Gilly had been trained and taught by his Uncle and all his various tutors and teachers and he was ready to go out and face the world. And when he did, he slayed all his enemies and proved himself Capable and Resourceful, ready to be his own person. He didn’t need Gideon to be his protector any more. 

I admit, I do not like the idea of myself being the warrior. Safety and protection are a big deal to me, but Ephesians 6:10-17 talks about putting on the full armor of God. Paul seems to be talking to everyone. Not just the men. Not just the strong people. Not just the pastors. Everyone. Everyone needs to put on the full armor of God and be ready to stand. 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

I appreciate the leadership of my husband in our home and the protection he gives to our family. I appreciate the leadership and spiritual protection that our pastors give to our local church body. But I was called to join the struggle too. Walk in that Holy Spirit power and fight. Fight with prayer. Fight with truth. Fight with confronting wrong and standing up even when it makes me uncomfortable and awkward and longing for someone else to just come in and take over for me. 

Do I Have a Servant Heart?

I read a difficult Bible passage this past week that has been stuck in my mind. 

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10

In our culture, reading anything about slaves tends to put my hackles up. Slavery is wrong. All men are created equally. We should be kind and considerate to everyone! I find it rather offensive to think about someone owning a slave, making them work out in a field all day and then making them come inside and have no rest and continue to serve their master. Is Jesus saying I should be a slave? That I am unworthy? 

Other Bible verses come to mind.  

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15: 15-16 

Not a servant. Friends. Chosen. 1 John 3:1 says that God loves us so much that we are called sons of God. Reading these other verses I don’t feel like my status with God is that of a lowly slave. 

As I’ve thought about the passage in Luke I’ve realized that it is a good measure of how much of a servant heart I have. How firmly embedded my pride and sense of entitlement are in my very nature. 

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 43-45

Yes, we are sons of God, Friends of Jesus. Chosen. Loved. But we are called to be like Jesus, and Jesus, despite being King of Kings, God, Creator, Ruler of all, he was a servant. And we’ve been called to be like Jesus and serve others. 

The other night I came home exhausted. Right after school I had to take two of my children to a location out West, thirty minutes away, and then after being there an hour and half, had to drive to another part of town to pick up another child from sports practice. I didn’t get home till 6:30pm and I had been driving in horrible rush hour traffic for over an hour. I had expected that my other family at home would have already eaten the supper I had left prepared for them. I anticipated just grabbing a plate of food for myself and being able to relax for a couple minutes. Instead, I walked in the door and found out that everyone else was waiting for me to get home before they ate. Nothing was set out. The table was littered with homework and toys and papers. Mess. I lost it. Had a total hissy fit. Much to the horror of my poor family who were simply anticipating a family meal together whenever I got home. Later, all I could think about was the passage in Luke and how far I was from having a true servant heart. Cause I had been working hard all day, and I wanted to come home and be served. Have some rest. Get some appreciation for how hard I had been working. And yes, there is a time and a place for rest and appreciation. But sometimes, everyone in the family has been working hard, everyone is exhausted, and what the family needs is someone to come in and patiently continue to serve. 

That is the heart I want to have. And sometimes I fail miserably. But I have to realize, having a servant heart is something I need Jesus to do inside of me. It’s not something I can get on my own. I hold to the promise that says,

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

I’m trusting that God will continue to soften my heart and teach me how to serve like Jesus. 

The Road to Peace and Calm

My oldest son enlisted in the army. He leaves tomorrow for basic training. Someone asked me how I felt about that. Proud. Hopeful. Scared. Worried. My list of WHAT IFS are pretty long. In the end, I have to believe that God has his hand on my son. Every once in a while though, I forget. Have a little freak out. Then take a deep breath and believe again. 

I had a birthday this week and I’ve been trying to do a little looking back at the last year. A little looking forward. Reflecting. I’m middish forties now. You know, I really had this belief that as you hit your middle years things would kind of calm down. Not pregnant and changing diapers. Not in the buying-a-home stage any more. My husband’s work and career are stable. I’m fully immersed in raising my children. We’ve been at the same church for years and years and love it. Life should be pretty smooth by now, right? 

Instead I am finding that the role of spectator to my adult children’s lives is a lot more tumultuous than I was anticipating. My husband has learned to ask me, “Do you want me to fix this or just listen?” And I find myself now, as a mom, no longer in the fix-it role for my adult kids, and just in the listen and support role. And so I stand on the sidelines and cheer and pray and try really hard not to worry. (Let me add that they are great kids, making good choices, it’s just really easy to worry.)

I will also add that taking on the role of foster mom has done nothing to make our lives peaceful. Probably the hardest part is, again, the fact that as a foster mom you don’t have a lot of control over the situation. Your job is to love and care for the child, but the child’s future is in the hands of lawyers and judges and bio-families. And you really want to fix-it: I’m going to decide what’s best and that is what we will do. But instead you are only called to support from the sidelines while others make the big decisions. 

Maybe the word I’m looking for here is Control. I think maybe I had this perception that as I got older I would have a lot more control over things. Control means no nasty surprises. It means things go the way you planned.  Calm. Smooth. 

Of course, probably not a lot of personal growth when you control everything. Looking back this past year, I can see a lot of pain. But I also see a lot of change and healing. Growth. I was put in a lot of places I didn’t want to be. As a result, I learned a lot more about forgiveness. Patience. Kindness. Grace. Self Control.

So here I am, middish forties. My son is going off to be a soldier. I have no control over this situation at all. But I’m going to learn a lot more about faith and prayer. Fostering. I can’t control the outcome, but I’m learning a lot more about how to love hurt people. Raising children. You want everything to work out perfectly for them, and it doesn’t. But you learn to trust that God loves them even more than you do and he has a plan. 

I want control because that seems like the path to peace and calm. But really, the path to peace and calm is faith in Jesus. My middle years are full of craziness, but I can also testify that my inner life is a lot more peaceful than when I was in my twenties. My faith is stronger. And I guess that’s the kind of peace and calm that I need. 

Cross Country Race

My son, who is a freshman, joined cross country running this year. He’s never run before. Our highschool does not have many sports teams, just cross country, track, bowling… We don’t have any sports fields. It’s a magnet school with a big academic focus. No loss for our family as we are not particularly athletically minded. But, I am proud of my son for making an effort to try something new and get involved in his new school. His coach told me that he would do great. Our team is usually last place and the focus is for each student to make personal improvements. Perfect. 

I went to my son’s second race this morning. It was at Johnson University. I took two other kids with me. We found the parking, walked across a big field carrying camp chairs. We found a place to set up and I pulled out my book to read while we waited for things to start. My other kids explored the area. The girls ran their race first. After we all watched them take off, I moved our chairs over closer to the finish line so we could see the end and encourage the runners. They had to make three one-mile loops, and the last leg was straight up a big hill. 

I am finding that I really like cross country as a sport for kids. When all the runners took off, you could quickly see who was leading the pack. For both the girls and boys race there was one runner who was far ahead of their peers and you knew they were probably going to win. And every time they passed our part of the track we cheered them on. Super impressive. Wow. But after maybe the first ten runners went by, the shift of the cheering changed. Now we were just cheering each runner that went past because we wanted to see them succeed in this goal they had set, to run three miles. 

There was this one older guy, wearing his school’s colors, leaning over the line, yelling encouragement to all the runners, especially his team. He knew all of them by name and he yelled at each one, COME ON!! KEEP IT UP! YOU CAN DO IT! DON’T LET THEM PASS YOU! PICK IT UP! KEEP GOING!! His tone was kind of rough, someone you would almost expect to be rude or belligerant, but he wasn’t. Everything he said was encouraging. Even when kids, not from his team, lagging far behind the others would pass by, he’d call them out by their team jerseys. COME ON CMA, YOU CAN DO IT! ALMOST THERE!! 

There was one boy there who was running with an older gentleman as his escort. I don’t know what his circumstances were, he came in next to last, but oh, how everybody cheered! He did it! He finished! Whatever his back story was, we had all just witnessed him achieve his goal. 

In the girls race about half the runners had crossed the finish line and this one girl came tearing up the hill, full out sprinting, giving it everything she got. Y’all, I got teary eyed. It was so inspiring. Was she going to win any recognition for crossing the line? Not really. She wasn’t even in the top twenty. But she was doing her best and putting all her effort into it. And that, to me, is just as much or more than any medals or ribbons.

I came away inspired. I’m running my race too. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the top ten or if I get any recognition for what I’m doing. It’s just giving it my best, pacing myself, knowing when to sprint and when to slow down. And knowing that the ultimate finish line is waiting for me one day and I plan on finishing strong. And I’m so thankful for my cheering squad that yells encouragement from the sidelines. And I hope I can be that cheering squad for others too. 

Onion Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

The other day I made blueberry muffins for breakfast. Not really as a treat, but more because I was out of cereal and bagels and I didn’t feel like making oatmeal. I started getting everything out and was almost instantly surrounded by children all wanting to “help”.

Ok.

Fine.

My three youngest hovered around me, fetching milk and eggs, holding the measuring cup while I poured stuff into it. Everyone wanted to stir. An argument broke out on who was going to lick the spoon. Usually, I dump a can of pumpkin into my muffins, but I suddenly remembered that I had a ziploc bag of shredded zucchini in the fridge that would go great in muffins. I grabbed the ziploc bag out of the fridge and started dumping it into the batter. 

There was an instant outcry.

What are you doing??? What is that?? Why are you putting it into the muffins!

And then a cry went out to all the other kids, MOM’S PUTTING WEIRD STUFF IN THE MUFFINS!! And then more kids gathered around to see what on earth mom was doing. 

Relax guys. It’s like zucchini bread. Remember zucchini bread?? It’s good. You like it. You won’t even taste it in the muffins.

Good grief. 

Ok, so that is what was coming out of my mouth. But in my head I was having a freak-out meltdown. Because, as I was dumping that zucchini in the batter I had got a strong whiff of onions. And I suddenly remembered that when I had been grating that zucchini in my food processor, the night before, I had been grating it in order to add it to soup. And I had also been processing onions. And I hadn’t bothered scraping out the food processor in between veggies, cause it was all going into the soup. Except I ended up with too much zucchini, so I just stuck the leftover into a ziploc, all mixed up with onions. And now I had just dumped zucchini/onions into my blueberry muffin batter. And I was now having to defend my choice loudly to my children. 

I always put some cinnamon sugar on top of the muffin batter before I bake it. 

Let me tell you, I heaped on the sugar this time. (Maybe if it’s super sweet, no one will taste onions??). 

I stuck those things in the oven and then went and collapsed in my room. Away from children. Feeling depressed. What a way to start the day. 

Mess up breakfast. 

Cause let me tell you, these kids were already feeling suspicious about the zucchini. They were already on hard-alert, ready to find anything wrong that they could. And now there was actually something wrong to find. 

The timer finally went off and I pulled my beautiful onion zucchini blueberry muffins out of the oven. They looked delicious. I sent off a heartfelt prayer. Lord, you are a miracle worker and your miracles don’t have to be big and extravagant. Could you please, just let these muffins taste fine and not taste like onions??? 

And prayers were answered. They tasted great. The kids loved them. They went back for thirds. 

And now you are probably feeling very hesitant to eat anything I make. And all I can say about that is, you’re probably right to be cautious. 

Follow me for more creative ways to mess up when cooking. 

The Sufferings of Christ

It’s been a long, painful week. Stuff happened. As it seems want to do. 

I live in my imagination a lot, and what I imagined at the beginning of the week was myself, a gunshot wound to my chest, bleeding all over, entering into the throne room of God and just collapsing on the floor in front of him. No words to say. Just, here I am. Here’s what shape I’m in.  And while I was laying there imagining this, the phrase that came to my mind was, “Enter into the sufferings of Christ”. 

I’ve been thinking about that phrase all week. My imaginary hole in my chest has been bound, wrapped up in bandages. Healing medicine poured over it. I’m still walking slowly and carefully, feeling very fragile, but I’m whole. And I keep circling back. What does that mean? Why do I have to enter into the sufferings of Christ? What is the point? 

My prayer over the years has been, make me more like you Jesus. More of you, less of me. I admit, when I say that, what I mean is, I want to be more loving, more patient, more kind, more selfless, etc. I was not thinking of these verses from Isaiah 53, verse 3 and 4:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Familiar with pain. Took up our pain. Bore our suffering. 

No, I was definitely not thinking about that when I said I wanted to be more like Jesus. 

My husband and I have done some soul searching this week. Questioning some of our choices. If a choice leads to pain and suffering then it has to be wrong, right? But I keep coming back to the fact that we made these choices because we felt it was an obedience to God and what the Bible teaches. And it still led to suffering. And that kind of hurts the brain.  

Enter into the sufferings of Christ. In doing this, does this mean that I am becoming more like Jesus? Not only sharing in his joy and love but in his pain and suffering?

When I hit my crisis it wasn’t long before I turned to one of my friends for help and comfort. And yes, she’s a close friend so I would have turned to her first anyway, but it was so much more meaningful because I knew she had been in a similar situation to mine. She could empathize and give good counsel. She had already suffered through this and could meet me exactly where I was at. And she was kind of a physical Jesus to me in my sufferings. Only possible because she had suffered herself. Does suffering make us more able to be the hands and feet of Jesus? 

Through all of this, I can testify. God is faithful. He heals the brokenhearted. He breathes hope on my soul. When I am at my lowest, I find his presence the strongest. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to whisper scripture in my ear that has kept me from falling into anger or judgement. 

Funnily enough, God was gracious enough to allow me to get Covid this week. Yeah, who needs covid? But, because of that I have been able to cancel a multitude of appointments, completely clear my schedule and just have time to rest and process. I’m still getting better, but my husband only had to take one day off to take care of the kids and household before I had enough energy to cover the basics again. 

Enter into the sufferings of Christ. I’m still figuring out what this means, but what I do know is that it is a journey that makes me more like Him. And that is what I want.