Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Snark Attack!

The kids gather around the table like a Norman Rockwell painting. I can tell you why the man chose to paint.  You could never really hear what’s coming off those lips.

I envy him.

They sit down to feast.  For a moment I think it’s my cooking but in reality, they feast on each other.
We have a word for it,  snarkasm.

My boys are so fond of it, they could be professionals and are self-described, “snarkastic.”

It’s a scary, possibly sinful blend of sarcasm and snark.
The oldest starts.  He calls the brother a name and then like dominos they fall  into the one-upmanship that is snarkasm.

They pull it all out and lay it on the table.

Their dad and I can barely catch a breath defending this one roaring and that one retorting.

Like mama used to say, “it’s all fun, until someone gets hurt.”  And they did. The jabs went a little too far and finally someone bled.  You see it in the silent tears.  Stopping in the laughter; we all now sit quiet.

Words can build cathedrals of hope and promise, but even quicker they can destroy hearts and healthy esteem.

The daddy and I reel them in and ask they start building each other back up.  We want one thing positive out of each mouth about at least one sibling.  The snarkers fall silent.

The eldest takes charge and builds his compliment with enough humor to almost drown it but still manages to float long enough to please.

The next one goes and the next.  But one, one lone soul at the table, the one that had shed a few tears cannot muster a word. That is the power of words.  If you fill a mind with enough negative, the heart becomes mute.

The tribe sees this.  They rally around the now silent child.  They repair and recite all the positives they know and had chosen not to say.
I get it.

I can find a hundred blessings in a single day if I choose to look, but blindness often takes the first turn. 

It is that one worry, that one irritating out of control situation, the child that keeps me up at night, the one thing I can’t get done; blind, deaf and dumb to all He has done; all He has said and all He has promised.

Isn’t it these very things, these things that make us feel small that should cause us to crave big, to forget the lack and remember the fulfillment and the Fulfiller.

The One that allowed our lack or our doubt or our short gives us the appetite for abundance.

We look into ourselves, when our focus should be our Savior. We run for the gap;  I need to run to the gap filler. He fills and satisfies and overflows us with grace.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Seeing Clear

The little girl comes home and tells me someone told her she comes from a bad country.

A bad country.

A country defined bad in the eyes of a child because it is labeled non-Christian.

How does a mama respond? I try to hide my bear claws and the temptation to say this proclaimer of bad was “bad” himself.  I resist showing her the headlines revealing to her the bad in this, her adopted country.

I can get sick over racism, so much of which I do not understand. White, churched and suburban.  I am naïve.  I am sheltered.  I am blind. I was raised by parents whose response to Civil rights was to teach us to “not see color.”

Oh, that it was so easy.
If we were not meant to see color, God would not have revealed them. Each color, each race, each religion, each philosophy embraces their own  tears and traditions.  I need to see.

How do I explain something I can barely understand myself?

Difference is not bad. 

The devil, he is the inventor and deliverer of bad.
He is the one that blinds our eyes to the value of people no matter their origin.  He is the voice that speaks untruths when misunderstandings come. He is the fear monger and the terrorist.

What do I tell my child?

I show her the Church.

I show her a God that created all colors and skins and faces.  I show her a God so full of love, He lights a fire for Himself in the darkest spaces.

I show her God’s people who need to respond in prayer and love even when bad chokes the desire for charity out of our very hearts.

I show her a Jesus that stopped for the unclean, the diseased the foreigner and tell her that is who we need to be, not because of who they are or are not, but because of who He is.

He placed value in each of us when He breathed life into lungs, we must find value therefore in the perceived bad, the good, the holy, unholy, clean and unclean.

Being indifferent to difference is not the answer.  Being obedient.  Being lovely.  Speaking truth is the beginning.  Opening ears is the method.  Extending hands is the ministry.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Walking into a high school classroom,  funny how all those old feelings rush back.  The same anxiety, the same wish to be someone different, something different.

I sat looking at 48 eyeballs and talked about leadership. 
I rarely get nervous, but for all the world, I felt I should be on their side, listening to a teacher, learning stuff I could drag into my adult life.

I wish I would have known then what I know now.
I wish I could tell my sophomore self that comparison kills joy.
I wish I could have believed that life would be okay, not because of talent or book knowledge but because of Jesus.

I wish I could have known that what my parents poured into me was the stuff I would one day pour into my children and I desperately wish I would have listened more. I wish I would have breathed encouragement into those around me instead of thinking about ethos and ego.

I wish I could reach back in time and ask people about their redemption instead of worrying about their acceptance.

A glance in the rearview mirror sharpens the view forward. I veer off the teacher’s agenda and speak of passion and purpose and journey and remind every person in that room that God has created them for His glory and I hope I remember my words.

I hope I remember them when I feel weak and tired and insufficient.  This is how HE made me;  it is a constant reminder that I need Him.

I start;  He finishes.  I hope;  He finds me.  I expect;  He fulfills. 

Oh my dear 15, let Him lead and remember following Him is nothing short of glory.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


The little girl objects to it.
She asks what EXACTLY do I mean by it.  This word, “hmmmm”  that I evidently use far too often.

“Does it mean yes or no?” she demands.

“Hmmm,” I begin, “because I honestly don’t know.”  At age seven, there is no ambiguity.  There is black and there is white, there is yes and there is no.  I envy her that.

A little girl born with a hole in her palate who has struggled now through two languages knows exactly what she means all the time.  She may struggle with articulation.  She never struggles with expression.

She uses words like art.   I need to learn her magic.  I need to take the wand of words and paint beauty.  I need to learn the stroke of spreading Jesus on this canvas of life.

Paul tells us our tongue drives us, like the helm of a ship.  The tongue has the power of life and death. Yet we wield too many words, or in my case at least with my daughter, too few.

Daily we open dozens of conversations to build up or to tear down.  What shall we choose? Like the ship, a storm can cause the tongue to go adrift with children, spouses even strangers.  We curse the darkness of life and in so doing shut out light.

We can receive a thousand compliments yet hold sacred the one critic.  We can see Jesus all around us yet turn our ears to the voice of the Liar.
I have done it more times than I can count.

We applaud every step a baby takes, yet condemn every misstep of the teen.
We adore the fiancé yet critique the spouse. We praise a Jesus that answers yes yet frustrate with a Father who allows pain.

How do we turn this inside out?  How do we get a glimpse of the bigger plan, the more Holy Ground? My daughter whispers she wants to hear my voice.  Perhaps that is it in a nutshell,  simply listening for His.

Perhaps by turning my ear more towards Him, my words will begin to speak grace.  He never tired of the extending of compassion, why do I?  Schedule perhaps, priorities unfortunately,  pride indeed.

To truly grasp grace, we must listen with gratitude and see with the heart of surrender.

Friday, December 29, 2017


It starts early in the season for me, this preparing and packing.  I make lists and shop and then wrap and pack.

For me it is a race to get done.  Many years ago, I had this crazy dream that literally haunts me to this day.  I wake up in the dream to Christmas eve and have slept for so many days I have nothing for the children’s Christmas.  I am quite literally the Rip Van Winkle of Christmas.  In my dream, I am terrified of the reaction of my children to a gift-less Christmas.  I race around the house wrapping little items I have stored away from years previous. 

It is an oddity that this dream/nightmare dictates my behavior but each year we shop in October, wrap in early November, pack and seal our treasures in plain brown boxes and then delight on December 25 to see boxes opened whose contents we literally cannot remember. 

I am good at packing.  Christmas afternoon, I begin to store ribbons and bows.  By New Years, the storage tubs come out and we carefully bag ornaments and wrap china and store wreaths waiting on the next 11 months for the festivities to begin again.

I am crazy in love with asking the kids dozens of times what surprised them.  What they will remember about the holidays,  what was their favorite event etc.  I hope to pack up memories we will relive for years to come.

I want to pack the glory of this day in my heart.

I wonder how?

This seems a magical time where the tyranny of urgent cannot triumph over the day.  It is more than a day off work, it is a day of reflection of pondering of procrastination and joy.

I think of Mary “pondering in her heart.”

How do we become ponderers for more than one day in the year?

This day, this event that we hold sacred above all other days, how do we store it into our heart and let it seep into the days and weeks to come. 

I think of this private place that Mary found and wonder if I can find it too.

How do I find a place in my heart where only my thoughts and Jesus live?

Grief, joy, expectation, wonder, disappointment, failure, frustration….  how do we keep them for Him such that He can fashion them into what brings Him glory?

Isn’t that the essence of it all?  This living, isn’t it a journey of experience married with the joy of our salvation?  It feels like a tug of war.  The natural with the supernatural.  The mundane with the miraculous.  The transformation from isolation to salvation through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

How does it seem so clear on one perfect day and so oblique the next?

I think we rely too heavily on the preacher to teach it.  This dance of pondering is for two,  us and Him.

It is the storing up of truth insolating against tyranny.  It is the runner training for the race.  It is the wonderer never losing site of the wonder.  It is the allowing of Him into the secret places.  The inaudible understanding of a Good the outpaces the bad and a Truth the usurps every lie. 

It is the quiet space of glory;  it is the heart that ponders.