Love will not betray you

Serve God, love me and men
This is not the end
Live unbruised, we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea one on shore
My heart was never pure
You know me
You know me

And man is a giddy thing

Love - it will not betray you,
dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man
you were made to be.

There is a design,
An alignment, the cry
Of my heart to see
The beauty of love
as it was made to be

~Sigh No More, Mumford and Sons

The basilica shines black against the white snowladen sky.

I hover and take photos through the cracks behind the altar,
and watch people pray.

Yes, everything that has breath...

Praise the Lord.

Searching for the love that does not betray, dismay, enslave.
The love that sets me free.

Flames in the city

The waning sun gets caught in the framework of skyscrapers

a sun dog shoots straight up from the basilica

buildings are lit aflame by the sunset

and we dress up and go out for dinner, just the two of us,

and love burns fresh and new with promise of even better years to come.


Gratitude journal, numbers 116-187:
123. God's vigilant pursuit
127. Grace = "one-way love"
130. Driving with the window down
139. A break coming soon
144. Tapping trees
146. "if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many." Ecclesiastes 11:8
148. Holding Uriah Fugate
150. Garden planning in a blizzard
157. Sweet southern drawl on the telephone
159. Best friends to whom distance matters not a whit
162. Laughing hysterically because Caleb doesn't understand sidewalks
169. Sunrise white light through the piney hill pendulous with new snow
174. Two whole days with my niece
178. Honesty with my Mama
180. WAKING UP from nightmares
185. God welcomes cripples to the table
187. He makes "all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces" Is. 27:9b

Come, Lord Jesus

Please take a moment to visit my friend's Caringbridge page and say a prayer for this family who just lost their 7 year old son to leukemia.

He who testifies to these things says,
"Surely I am coming soon."
Come, Lord Jesus.
Reveleation 22:20

The baby is not so "baby" anymore

His birth was fast and crazy and downright shocking.
I remember my friend crying on the phone because we had a boy at last.

They came to get me for my tubal just 2 hours after he was born.
I just couldn't leave him, and there was a niggling doubt somewhere,
deep in my subconscious: was he meant to be our last?

Six weeks later, I had the surgery anyway.
A month after that, I was diagnosed with cancer.
And we praised God for His direction 
as I couldn't get pregnant while in treatment.

After my first clean cancer scan in March, 2009, Aaron came to me with an adoption dream. From what I read, it's unusual for the husband to be the one dreaming of adoption instead of the wife. We started paperwork and announced our plans to our friends and family.

But cancer came back, and paperwork stalled, and adoption 
is a far distant dream instead of one that will be realized quickly.

And in the autumn of 2009, I prayed for that next baby, 
Caleb's little brother or sister,and God answered in crazy ways, 
and I got pregnant, even after the sterilization.

I gave in, heart and soul, to the dream of another baby. 
It didn't feel like a dream at all, because it was so God-sent.
But it withered, and died, and I had 3 surgeries, and no baby to hold.
My abdomen filled with blood and my heart filled with grief.
We buried our baby, all 14 weeks of him, on the hillside in a silver urn.

The kids still count Theodore when people ask them how many siblings they have. I feel embarrassed. Who grieves a baby one never met? Yet another thing in my life I should "just get over".

Two more years pass, and I still have cancer.
No adoption.
And I don't have any more babies.
He is still my "baby".

Our family is growing up, and new vistas open before us.
An overnight date this weekend with my husband
(can't do that with a nursling).
Trips are easier to take.
Little hands learn chores and daily life gets easier.
We revel in new stages, having little readers,
children who play outside for hours.

Happy birthday, my sweet baby boy.
(February 21st, I'm a little late with this)

I don't know what the future holds,
whether or not you will ever have a baby brother,
but for this moment, I love whispering in your ear,
"You are my favorite boy in the whole world."

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
Psalm 22:26

We're in this together

I'm a closet introvert. I don't really come across as an introvert in most situations, because my real self is buried so deep under a well-polished public persona I spent my adolescence and young adulthood constructing. I am in a recovery group at the moment, the first time I've spent any time in a therapeutic group of any kind (or therapy, for that matter). I've avoided them like the plague until now because I haven't built a "person" to "be" in that setting, so I feel awkward and exposed.

I've heard some phrases in the past few weeks that make me want to stand up and walk out. Things like "you can't heal alone in the dark". Right. So the way I've been trying to do things for 30 years is completely wrong? I've always thought of friends as people to have fun with, let your hair down with, let loose with. My favorite memories of my entire life are those times you are literally rolling on the floor laughing together with a best friend. Occasionally, I've been forced to be emotional in front of my friends. And I can't say it's ever felt good or right. I know there are certain things I'll always have to process alone on a hillside with God. There are some emotions that run too deep for words. Beyond expression. Like certain moments of certain songs, the music just so close to agony and so close to ecstasy that you can't name what you're provoked to feel.

I scrub the island to a polished gloss and my mind races through all this. There is something to this being seen by others who can recognize you. Something I can't really deny. Something I can't push away for the sake of maintaining my still, quiet, and lonely soul.

This particular part of the journey reminds me of housework (to be honest, I do so much housework, I'm constantly looking for analogy to distract me from the never. ending. work.) Before you start, it's overwhelming; you don't even want to look at the mess, much less put your hands in it and get started. Then there is the inevitable hopelessness once you start the task and realize it is really as big as you thought it was going to be. But somewhere in the middle, the tide begins to turn, and you see a light at the end of the tunnel, like maybe, someday, the work will be done and it will be clean in here. And then it's done, and you sit back, and sigh, and marvel at the peace of that cleaned up vista. My soul is the same and I can't wait to see things all cleaned out for that brief moment of "I did it!" at the end of all of this.

8 ft. island & 7 ft table - ALL clear!

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be
~The Cave, Mumford & Sons~

Love IS a one-way street

Disgrace is the opposite of grace. Disgrace destroys, causes pain, deforms, and wounds. It alienates and isolates. Disgrace makes you feel worthless, rejected, unwanted, and repulsive...Disgrace silences and shuns. Your suffering of disgrace is only increased when others force your silence. The refusal of others to speak about your assault and listen to victims tell the truth is the refusal to offer grace and healing. ~from Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb

Disgrace is what robs you of joy, of hope, of identity.

It robs you of the eyes to see the sunset He sends every evening.

You can't be the child in the starlet sunglasses on the gravel driveway in the false spring. Disgrace tells you you have nothing to smile about.

Disgrace tells you that the things you thought you were good at...well maybe you never were that good at them. You certainly aren't now. It focuses all of it, all your energy, back inside, looking at that rotting pit that you hide inside, the sins and the sorrows and mistakes and selfishness.

And that is exactly where Satan wants you to be.
Looking at that pit and thinking there is nothing good that will ever come out of that pit, certainly nothing that could ever bring glory to God.

Except that...
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (Proverbs 26:2)
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. (Proverbs 29:25-26)
This one-way love thing; in two paragraphs, the authors of Rid of My Disgrace tore down some huge misconceptions I have had my whole life. I have never understood love, the true kind of love anyway. I crave it, but I don't comprehend it. Serious doubt creeps in every time I try to grapple with the juxtaposition of certain parts of God's character: "justice" and "mercy" don't seem to fit well together, nor do "jealous" and "deliverer". I understand, in the logical brain part of me, that Jesus paid it all, so the sentence leveled on me by my sin has been satisfied. 

But when the curses that echo inside my own head resonate with what someone else is leveling on me, someone else's judgment of me, it is hard to keep that one fact in mind.

I mull it over, the disgrace concept. One-way violence. Is that what Christ experienced when God's wrath was poured out on him on the cross? Is that what he cried tears of blood for that night in Gethsemane? How many times in life are we given disgrace - one-way violence - instead of grace - one-way love? Remember being in junior high, high school, college? Do you remember disgrace? Do you remember "one way violence" in your past? When we suffer, when bad things happen beyond our control, that's one-way violence. Whatever the source.

Grace. That might take a lifetime to sink in. But in those dark places, it's our only option. One-way love. I've got nothing left to give, I'm totally at a loss. I have to take it, this one-way love. Whether or not I take it, He's still giving it. That's what makes it one-way love.
Grace is love that seeks you out even if you have nothing to give in return. Grace is being loved when you are or feel unlovable. Grace has the power to turn despair into hope. Grace listens, lifts up, cures, transforms, and heals. To your sense of disgrace, God restores, heals, and re-creates through grace. A good short definition of grace is "one-way love". This is the opposite of your experience of assault, which was "one-way violence". To your experience of one-way violence, God brings one-way love. The contrast between the two is staggering. One-way love does not avoid you, but comes near, not because of personal merit but because of your need. It is the lasting transformation that takes place in human experience. One-way love is the change agent you need for the pain you are experiencing.

Jeremiah 17:8: “He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” That was it! There was an unseen Source of secret nourishment that is needed by all of us. The cause of the drying up of life’s joys is incidental. When they dry up — is there, can we find, a secret Source of nourishment that the deadly drought cannot reach?…Is it possible for a Christian to put forth green leaves when all he enjoys in this life is drying up around him? ~from Green Leaf in Drought

It's the right time

There's a time for every season under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The snow falls in grainy powdery magnificence, and we make ice cream.
Amy gets a genetic diagnosis.
I face some ghosts from my past.
A dream withers and dies.
I panic around new people.
And so I am told I have grief and I have to feel it.

I'm improvising, and the ice cream falters for a few minutes,
and the kids are crowded around throwing out ideas.
I balk at this whole grief idea.
I run from grief.
It's how I survived as a nurse.
It's how I've survived as a parent.
It's how I've survived as a cancer patient.

But this seems to be the season. And just like the ice cream, that comes together in sprinkled splediforousness, this season seems to be for grief in a lot of ways. I give grief a little window, a little wiggle room in that deep down dark place I think is my soul. And open my Bible the next day, and it's confirmed. This is the season for it, honey.

In that day the Lord God of hosts
called for weeping and mourning,
for baldness and wearing sackcloth;
and behold, joy and gladness,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating flesh and drinking wine.
"Let us eat and drink
for tomorrow we die."
The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:
"Surely this iniquity will not be atoned for
until you die," says the Lord of hosts.
(Isaiah 22:12-13)

If it's time to grieve, 
and you blow your wad because you're on your way out anyway,
that's not okay.
If He tells you it's time to weep, and you numb your pain at the feast,
that's the wrong decision.

If you try to make snow ice cream in summer, good luck.
If you try to ignore your pain, good luck with that, too.
Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
does he continually open and harrow his ground?
When he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter dill, sow cumin...
For he is rightly instructed.
His God teaches him.
(Isaiah 28:23-26 exc.)

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Do you remember the book "Owl at Home" by Arnold Lobel? When Owl makes tear-water tea? I think I am going to try it.

Image credit:

Powder day

The "powder days" of my memory include mountains.
Or at least really big hills.

Now it's four kids, two snowboards, and a slight incline.

Caleb goes flying in the first 10 feet, his weight on his 3rd birthday
not nearly enough to keep him atop a snowboard in 18" of fresh snow.

The older kids are starting to get it.
Rosy, in particular, has an excellent sense of balance.
45 feet downhill, she's still riding, even sans bindings.

Amy gets frustrated, but she's bound and determined.

Really, they could all care less, as long as I'm out there with them.

Almost 32. Right femur aching. Can't resist the fresh fallen snow, anyway.

Here's to "powder days" of all kinds...
and the joy of growing older, and life changing...
and joy remaining!