Friday, September 30, 2011

Tired Enough to Pick Up a Stone

This past Sunday a friend and her daughters gifted me a cross inscribed with a promise. "With God All Things Are Possible."

The same day a 'friend' posted a 'story' in her 'status' about a mother discussing an unplanned pregnancy with a doctor. She ends with "Love says I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person." and "Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself."


And no.

Yes. I believe love often requires great sacrifice. Jesus died for us. There is no greater love.

No. I refuse to believe Christ gave us permission to throw the first stone, to type the ugly words "Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself."

And today, tired of the hate-filled rhetoric, I will write the words on my heart. Exhausted, I will pick up a stone.

Since 2008, brave women – four of them – risked sharing with me the pain of living with a secret pregnancy terminated by fear.
Each woman's story is unique
and universal. M has lived with the pain for decades.
J has spent each anniversary in bed crying until there were no more tears, unable to heal the pain of the day her pregnancy ended. Every Mother's Day T is inwardly devastated as she puts on a smile and celebrates with her children who do not know.
B was so very confident that this was the way, then the instant it was over, she heard satan laughing as she plummeted into darkness, wishing with all that she is that she had let go of her fear and asked a friend to pray.

Fear kept each woman from seeking help from a friend, a sister-in-Christ, from me and from you.

As I imagine being a woman with a secret pregnancy, I feel claustrophobic, trapped, alone. I experience the fear that will keep her from asking a friend for help. I too hear the hateful words, about women who would do THAT. I have seen the billboards.
I know where the 'Christians' stand. I can see the stones coming. I am afraid.

I believe with all my heart, that a woman chooses silence because to tell us she is pregnant is too great a risk. For every person in her life that might help her, satan whispers stories of how we will judge her. Then, to strengthen her belief in his lies, he shows her what we have written on our facebook pages.

We become satan's co-conspirators.

All life is precious. Each child born into this life, each miscarried or aborted fetus, and EVERY mother, is a child precious in God's eyes.

Today, I pick up a stone and make a promise. I will pray, without judgement, for every woman facing a heart-wrenching journey, no matter her circumstances, without regard to her choices. I pray that God will help me keep my promise, because it not going to be easy.

I am already burdened. It is going to be very hard to pray for the woman who chose to post the hateful words that inspired this hateful blog.

Jesus looked at them and said,
“...with God all things are possible.”



Monday, September 26, 2011

John 6:48

"What moves me to more deeply appreciate Jesus sharing his life with me? How do my actions and words make evident the fact that Christ lives in me?"

There is such richness here, in life with Christ. There are friend- ships and true community. A place where people help each other, support each other in time of need. There is the joy of discovery in our friendships through Whispered Hopes, a meeting of hearts,
a budding trust and growth as my eyes and heart are opened to see fragile and gifted humanity in the women
around me, the women in the clubs and the volunteers. There are moments of enlighten- ment and celebration, like my conversation with J one Sunday. His friend, a man who manages a local strip club, tells J about these women, women from a local church, who
come into the club with gifts, how great it is.
J reveals, yes he knows these women, the women are friends from his church.

Jesus' plan for a loving, united and peaceful humanity pulses through our every relational touch.

Kindness, not cruelty.

Patience, not judgment.

Encouragement, not criticism.

I used to be painfully quick to speak, always something to say, often before my brain engaged. These past eighteen months, I am discovering the gap, the place in conversation where I can hang for a few moments and think about the impact of my words.

When I hang in the gap with God, I find that that my words are kindness and encouragement, patient words of acceptance.

On a really really good day, looking in a mirror, I can see reflected in my own eyes the patient beauty of Christ.

3-Minute Retreat

Wheat Photo © Royalty-Free/Corbis



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lighted Windows

I am up at 3am with a stuffy nose. I go downstairs and heat a mug of water. As I sip it the steam helps me breath easier. From the darkness of our kitchen, I look out at our neighbors' homes. Down the block a kitchen light is on. The young couple, their two daughters and a golden retriever live there. In the house on the corner the faint glow of a television says someone is probably awake, could easily be Dad. The boys are out of high school now, their cars no longer fill his driveway. Next door to Dad and the boys, there is a light on in the living room of the single mom, a woman with an outgoing daughter who attends elementary school. The other day the girl stopped by on her bike to share the news! She is taking her first ballet lessons this fall.

I don't know their names. We are not truly neighbors, just people living in houses in the same neighborhood, a community of strangers.

Which is really no community at all.

... I was a stranger and you invited me in ...



Saturday, September 24, 2011


I am a tree hugger. Recycling makes my heart sing. Our house is not too far from the community recycling center. When our bins overflow, we load 'em into the Jeep and drive to the center.

We stand beside our neighbors sorting plastics, newspaper, corrugated, glass, metal. Used batteries and oil, old appliances and construction debris are collected here too. A tree hugger's dream!

This morning, as I walk by the newspaper bin in our kitchen,
a conversation with a friend replays in my head ... I babble on and on about how much material we take to the recycling center. My friend asks if that is a good thing, adding, "Are there more efficient ways to buy what your buying, so there isn't so much packaging?"


Yesterday, Seth Godin's blog was titled Talker's Block. He writes, "Talk is cheap. Talk is ephemeral. Talk can be easily denied."

Today. I am at it again. I am embellishing. The "we" in this story is more accurately "he" – and I might as well disclose that – because he's going to read this in the next day or two, and He's read this blog before my hands even touched the keyboard.

Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom.




Friday, September 23, 2011


Sudoku is logical. Black. White. Finite. Numbers written into squares. Right. Wrong.

I enjoy the Sudoku challenge, yet it is not a daily habit – too many shades of gray calling me into the world of words.

Scrabble. Now there's a game!

My paternal grandmother made time for Scrabble. She'd play with any grandchild old enough to form the letters into words. As we got better, she unleashed her depression-era dictionary full of words we didn't know – but she
never beat us so badly that we gave up. We bounced back from defeat, eagerly asking to play again. Some days we'd get caught up in the clamor for points, try using words we really didn't know. We ran the risk of a challenge, forfeiting a turn when a misspelling was revealed.

There was tension.

This morning, while deleting posts from my social-networking profile, I rediscovered this list:

Coffee black.
Diet Coke, never Diet Pepsi.
Dark chocolate, not milk chocolate.
Dogs, not cats.
Reading not television.
Compassion not vengence.

The words NEVER and NOT imply a person who has it all together, a neatly completed Sudoku, black and white, right answers, nothing wrong. A person whose beliefs are sharply-edged and well-defined.

As I cut and paste from my profile into my blog, I see a couple of commas missing. Vengeance is misspelled.

Today, I am more forgiving, tolerant, flexible, gray.

I am striving to be less clever and more humane.

Diet Coke? Yes, please. Diet Pepsi? No thanks, but maybe a Diet Mountain Dew or an ice tea. Thank you. Seeking the eyes of the server, making contact, acknowledging humanity.

Following after Christ brings more challenges than a Thanksgiving weekend of Scrabble with Grandma. I often get beat. I often get beat bad enough that I don't want to play again. There is tension. I am human. In my summer of waiting, when exhaustion has overtaken my body, the steady message for my soul remains.
Be still. Cease striving.

Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.

Psalm 46:10

God has this. Me. My husband. My worries. My children's heating bills. The women in the clubs. The orphans in Sudan. The fate of the world. God's got it all.

When I was a child, my maternal grandmother had awesome red hair and played guitar. Her four daughters could really sing! Her grandchildren were encouraged to join in. He's Got The Whole World is the song I remember.

God's got it.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


This morning I sat in the living room with my husband's laptop reading blogs written by friends. I am intrigued by a list of 100 books to discover, lifted by a baby dressed for her dedication in a family heirloom, touched by a mother's heart for her adult son, and awed by an adult son's love for his father.

This morning as I write, a nagging voice at the base of my skull brings back a recent conversation with a woman who seems to want my friendship. When I spoke about writing a blog, she chose "why bother" as her next words.

I sense we will not soon be friends.

Yesterday, after hours of painting old kitchen cabinets a bright clean white and soaking old hardware to remove decades of splattered colors, I found myself growing weary. With permission,
I opened the rich gray-green my co-laborer had chosen for the walls and began painting the bead-board paneling behind her kitchen table. She continued working on the cabinets. As we worked in tandem, we began to reveal the room she'd envisioned.

I hope we will always be friends.

When I find myself wanting to utter the words "why bother"
I pray that God will stop me, that God will give me time to think before I speak. I pray
that my mouth forms words of encouragement ...

... encouraging words that flow like Skittles from their bag, colors that nourish dreams and nurture friendships, words that bring just a bit of heaven to someone here on earth.


Photo Credit: I heart skittles by elizabeth932 ...

... and a handful of my favorite blogs
The Lionheart
Passion & Pursenality
Coffee With God
Cease Striving


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


"Nothing that matters has really changed." —Dr. Karen *

I flip through a collection of school photos, the once-a-year images of me. I am drawn to the confident, happy 5th grader. And pained by the 6th grader stripped of the easy confidence of childhood. I stop to write.

The ill-at-ease student in wire-rim glasses is not the target of overt abuse, but the quibbling images of beauty and the uncertainty of adolescence. She is pelted by television advertising for Barbie and Enjoli. She dreams about the romantic movie embrace of a guy she can look up to, while treading water in a pool of beauty defined as "not you" by half her classmates – middle-school boys who are shorter than her.

The 6th grader begins slouching to make herself less noticeable, to fit in with her peers. She is self-conscious about her smile, the way her front teeth are malformed. She survives the discussion with Mom and Dad about her choice not to smile in her school photo. She knows there will be no re-take.

I return to the pile of photos, find the one for the 7th grader.

The wire-rim glasses are gone and she is smiling. Her middle-class mid-American parents somehow found the resources to pay for cosmetic dentistry. She's given up on Barbie and discovered a world of boys outside her classmates. Her crush on Donny Osmond is flourishing and she is embracing the Enjoli promise.

She can do it all.

Today, I read the blog of a friend, and find treasure. Nothing that matters has really changed. The 5th grader collected pennies for UNICEF at Halloween. She ate rice during lent and her family gave the money saved on groceries to the church, for the orphans in Africa. The smiling 5th grader lives on inside me. She is the faithful one who believes: Yes! We can change the world.


* Dr. Karen, Life that Matters

p.s. A quick Google search revealed Donny Osmond is 5'8" – that's 3" shorter than me. I laughed.


Saturday, September 17, 2011


My top four mornings at Fellowship:


Lydia (Acts 16:13-15)

the day he showed up in t-shirt and boxers then put on his clothes

the day he handed over the microphone to women (Mother's Day 2009)

Just when I had identified my best-of-the-best, he puts on a dog collar and blows me away 2011.09.11




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Juice With My Coffee

6 ounces.

3/4 cup.

1 serving.

A serving of juice is a tiny glass by most household standards. Smaller
than my
mug of coffee.
Much smaller.

When I stop to measure portions, I am amazed at how small each serving is, especially compared to what is typically served. I pause and hear my nagging heart ask, "Can I live on less?"


The other day I met a co-conspirator for lunch, a woman whose heart weeps for victims of human trafficking. As we sat down with our salads and her tomato bisque, at an outdoor metal table in the sunshine, just outside a coffee shop and cafe, we bowed our heads. She said a prayer. We stopped to be thankful.

We are blessed in the fresh greens in our salads, the taste of tomato bisque, the beauty of late summer, this time spent together.

Each morning I am blessed. There is a serving of juice with my coffee. A couple slices of bread with a bit of peanut butter. Sometimes I choose strawberry jam.

Each morning I am blessed by a coffee pot that keeps that water heated so I do not need to wait very long for my coffee. I am blessed by a refrigerator that keeps the juice and jam fresh.

Today, I will stop and be thankful.

God takes great delight in me, rejoices over me with singing. Zephaniah 3:17


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


On the kitchen wall hangs a calendar, the kind with big squares, a calendar intended
for the top of an office desk. Friday is a birthday. Krystal's 27th birthday. She isn't here
to celebrate. She died. In May.
She died in May several years ago. Friday is her birthday.

God chose two people as Krystal's parents, and entrusted them with four beautiful girls. Will Krystal's mom and dad mourn? Celebrate? Or do both? Will Krystal's sisters smile and remember? Or remember and feel sad? Will Krystal's niece and nephew, young children, ever understand?

I do not know how it feels to lose a child. Or a sister. I cannot know the grief in the hearts of this family, nor their joy in Krystal.

Krystal's funeral packed the church. So many people came! Will family and friends remember two days from now? Will people reach out with a note or a phone call? Share a memory? Say a prayer?

Bring a pink flower to her grave?

As I thought about Krystal this morning I sought out something tangible – an old photo glued into a scrapbook for my son. It was taken on Labor Day weekend, just before Krystal's first birthday...
... an aging snapshot of Krystal and her older sister with my son and daughter. Krystal is the brunet in the blue pants. Isn't she beautiful?


Yes, God will banish death forever
... wipe the tears from every face

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


. . . becoming fully conscious of our animal nature and identifying with the lives of nonhumans is a way to increase our awareness that animals share the Earth with us, that they are made of the same fiber as we are, that they are our kin. Writing from the viewpoint of an animal puts us in touch with minds that are starkly different from our own — an excellent way of growing our creativity and intensifying the kind of understanding we can call writers’ empathy. Smash365: Viewpoint

It is so hot today! The sun is beating down on me so hard, even my shadow is warm. I need to keep moving. If I was the only one sitting on those eggs, I would simply expire.

This feels so much better, to be up moving around, fanning myself with my beautiful brown wings. My mate's wings are darker, more black. He was so very handsome back when we were courting. He danced and sang to me. So romantic.

When these eggs hatch, I will be so very grateful that we live in a community where every ostrich is on the lookout for danger. You know, it does take a village. And, the best part is, when someone has to chase away danger, we take turns. I love to run!


The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—
all those beautiful feathers, but useless!
She lays her eggs on the hard ground,
leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather,
Not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked
or trampled by some wild animal.
She's negligent with her young, as if they weren't even hers.
She cares nothing about anything.
She wasn't created very smart, that's for sure,
wasn't given her share of good sense.
But when she runs, oh, how she runs,
laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.
Job 39:13-18


Sunday, September 11, 2011


"Seldom do the average buyers of religious literature venture into a soup kitchen, let alone suffer true poverty and uncertainty about whether there will be food today." —Dan Allender,
Sabbath: The Ancient Practices

He goes on to describe middle class destitution as "the emptiness of an uncertain future and ... an unrealized present."

I am not missing meals, yet my emptiness is palpable. I am like a teenager opening the refrigerator door and gazing upon $200 worth of groceries, while muttering there is nothing to eat.
I overlook God's provision in each day, each meal, each breath.

This morning, as I emptied the water from our dehumidifier into the functioning and abandoned toilet in the corner of our basement, I came face to face with abundance. I was reminded of Pastor Peter's teaching on his first Sunday in the States, the disease spread by going into the jungle "to attend nature" when rain will wash the feces down into the pond, the source of drinking water for the village. Mothers sick with cholera. Children dieing.

The blessing clean drinking water is today in Kpeletayama.

We do not go into the jungle to attend nature. There are 3 working toilets within our home, each flushed with drinking water.

We are blessed with abundance.


"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I am in retreat, a place of darkness and comfort, an abstention from human contact, a gluttonous withdrawal.

I am in a cave. It is my dwelling of choice this summer.

My cave is not at
ground level, but high
on a desert cliff
with a narrow ledge
and little room for error.

I am becoming aware
that there are people
I want to push off
this narrow ledge.

Is it self-preservation? Or selfishness?

Mixed messages echo within me.

My heart argues with my brain.

My belief in Christ directs me toward love. My exhausted humanity fondles the idea of pushing people off the ledge.

When I speak with a trusted friend about this impulse, our conversation brings: figure out what you need and ask for it.

Tonight, as I read a friend's blog, he shares the words: this is where I am and I need this.

And the summer rhythm vibrates with a soft and ancient beat:
Be still, and know that I am God.

Perhaps it is not a prayer that God will give me strength. Instead, as this night ends, perhaps it is permission to be weak, to embrace the exhaustion, to let go of faded friendships and let people fall away -- to believe that God holds the power to make all things new again.


Be still, and know that I am God
Behold, I make all things new again

Photo Credit

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Heart Knows This Place

"... we began our journey from the border ... the water had risen so high that the driver could not tell if he was driving on the road or not. We engaged two boys who would swim ahead of the truck and let us know the depth of the water. In some places the water would be all the way to their necks. We couldn’t stop as we never knew when it would stop raining ..." —Eugenio, guest writer
Life That Matters

This morning, before my 9:30 appointment for a haircut, I drove out to my son's house to borrow his wheelbarrow and pick up my husband's portable workbench. My daughter arrived just ahead of me. She and my daughter-in-law are painting the living room.

The journey was uneventful. We encountered no unexpected charges. There were no roadblocks. I did not fear for my life, nor the life of my daughter. Blue skies accompanied us, but even when it rains the paved county road is fully navigable. In the worst winter storms, it is plowed and sanded.

I cannot wrap my mind around a place where traveling 223 miles takes 6 hours of hard driving, where bandits strike at dawn and children swim in front of moving trucks.

Yet, my heart knows this place. I see this war-torn land through the eyes of my friend Kimberly, a sassy red-head, a woman of frailty and strength, a woman who cares for orphans in Sudan.
Her heart is with the children. The 600 orphans in Christ-centered indigenously directed care centers. The tens of thousands* living and starving in the bush. Her heart is on two continents. She has taken mine as well.

A Heart Not Big Enough

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

* Estimated 1 million orphans in Sudan today. Source


Monday, September 5, 2011


Summer was a time of residential relocation for our children,
items destined for donation or recycling deposited in our garage,
adding to the already dormant and dusty piles of boxes on my workbench. The swing in temperature, from 91º Thursday to
46º Sunday sends an impulse of urgency – a signal that fall,
then winter, are coming. I look ahead. A winter of scraping
ice and snow from windshields of cars parked outdoors
propels me from inaction. The garage needs to be cleaned
out ... perhaps the basement too.

I will

The stuffed donkey
a gift from my grandfather
who died when I was a child.

Collars and cremains
Midnight and Snowball
our first family dogs.

Ice skates

If today I open my hands and release my clutter and keepsakes, the memories will remain. And, perhaps, making room in my home will make room in my heart.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Of Course

This morning, I feel human again. The summer cold that began 12 days ago seems to be winding down, and I am out walking with my dog Dozer.

We've been around the block a thousand times in the years he's lived here, but this morning, as he stops at his favorite Hosta, I misstep and the rain-soften ground gives way beneath my left foot. Twisting my left ankle, I begin to fall. My right knee scrapes against the asphalt alley and I let go of the leash. I close my eyes and grimace as I slide headlong into the grass, like a discarded beanbag chair.

When I open my eyes, Dozer is standing next to me – a new and welcome behavior from a dog who lives to run away. I retrieve my end of the leash and push myself into a sitting position. I check the road rash on my right knee. I stand and test my left ankle. Definitely a sprain, but not too painful.

Dozer and I walk slowly home.

I get an ice pack, limp up the stairs to my office, settle into an upholstered chair with left foot elevated, and open my devotional. "... be still and know that I am God."

I laugh. Of course. A need for stillness. My summer theme.


Green pastures. Quiet waters.

Mary, not Martha.

I shake my head and embrace the idea that I am a work in progress, a truant student, the recipient of innumerable second chances from a Teacher with infinite patience.


Psalm 46:10

Psalm 23:1-3
Luke 10:39-42

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rising Darkness

Write. Use this prompt to inspire. Write for 5 minutes:

Instead of landing the space shuttle on earth, its captain steers the shuttle into…

... a black hole. It first appears as a dark circle amid beautiful light. Growing larger as we approach, the black hole is swirling and stretching the light, pulling it into the darkness like dusty earth drawn into a tornado. We too are pulled in. Blackness surrounds us. We look back to see a port hole view of space framed by endless black. The remaining light becomes an image faintly reminding us of Earth. We are silent. We will not return.

Like Caesar will we trace on a wall the window from our childhood bedroom? Closing our
eyes, seeking comfort in
the world we remember – a world outside our cage?

Surrounded by darkness, will we discover a new beginning?

Now the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:2


Photo Credit: Window

Images: Black Hole