Monday, January 31, 2011

Sprint Week

There's so much to do. I've never planned a memorial service before. I still have to pick out music, select flower arrangements, help with the PowerPoint, meet my dad at the bank to sign financial papers, cancel some credit cards, and notify family friends. I want to balance this responsibility with being here for my own little family.

I know people are praying for us, and that makes me know why we're doing as well as we are. Dad is better today, but he still can't talk to people about her. At least his meltdown yesterday morning was helpful. I knew it would be, and I'm glad he's well enough to be on his own now.

You are providing deep grace for deep need, and we are so very, very thankful. Help me this week, Lord. I need You like crazy. And if You could heal my cell phone, I'd really appreciate it. Give Mom a hug for me, and tell her I'm sorry I couldn't do what she asked about her secret stash. I'm sure she won't mind now. XO

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Readings and Ravings

The responsibility for writing and arranging for the obituary for Mom somehow fell to me. I looked at several examples and finally finished it on Saturday. I picked out the picture and cropped it, emailed it, and all that was left was to have the proof okayed for the newspaper, which Alan took care of for me since I was on my way back home.

Dad said he had the closest thing to a meltdown this morning when he opened the paper to find it. He found it, saw her beautiful face, and it was all over. This will be so good for him though. The healing that will come from it will be worth the tsunami. I love this quote from Doe: A crushing hurt comes to our heart and the sympathizing, scarred hand of Christ presses the wound; and just for a moment, the pain seems to intensify... but finally the bleeding stops. ~Beth Moore

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Mom

It's been a week and a day since I lost my precious mama. It all happened so fast... My poor dad...

So much has gone on this past week that I wish I'd have kept some kind of journal so I can remember it all. But like my dear friend reminds me, He will bring to my remembrance at least the important things.

Kev and Alan took this past week off, so I'm extremely grateful for their help and support. Somehow certain tasks get taken on by each of us, and everything important is getting done. Dad wasn't sure he could even make himself take a next breath, so we were glad that was automatic.

I guess I'm kind of in charge of the service. It's set for Saturday, February 5, 1:00 at their church. They're putting together a PowerPoint with the package of pictures I sorted through, both prints and digital. I'm still deciding on songs. "How Great Thou Art" for sure. I still here her walking around the house singing that.

It would be a sin to not mention somewhere here how terribly wonderful their church family has been not only through this, but throughout Mom's whole debilitation. Food, cards, visits, hugs, genuine sentiments. The word "wonderful" is a common adjective they use about Mom. It's endearing. I'm sure it makes my dad feel good. His usual response is, "She was one of a kind."

I ordered the urn yesterday. Dad said "something blue." Neptune has blue ones in stock, but they start at $200, so I looked online. It's weird to know that Costco sells that stuff online, but they didn't have anything that caught my eye, and neither did ten other sites until I found just the blue we were looking for--cobalt. I knew it as soon as I saw it, and so did Dad. Turns out the guy who runs this business is a retired mortician (40 years in the biz) and now runs this from his home. He has just the right touch, plenty nice without being too familiar, and he knows his stuff. It should arrive next week. We take it into Neptune, and they make the transfer there. I can say the words, but it makes my stomach flop.

Those first few days were agony. Seeing Dad just sit there in his chair, eyes open but not seeing anything, hardly able to speak was just agony. All Friday I kept remembering "My God will supply all your needs, my God will supply all your needs," (Phil 4:19).

It was a no-brainer that I'd stay overnight for a few days. When Alan volunteered to stay a couple of nights on Wednesday, I knew Kev and Jylle would be grateful. She keeps smiling and saying, "You're in my house!"

Dad's gotten to the point where he said he doesn't need anyone to stay the night. He even said as we were leaving for Jylle's game that we don't even need to come during the day. I still will for a while though because it makes me feel better to see him and be there while I'm taking care of business. What a swift and powerful answer to prayer though! "My God is humongous!" Mom was always saying that.

I hear her still.

I love you, My Mom. xoxo

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unheld Pain

There is a pain that cannot be contained, cannot be calmed, cannot be comforted. Like a tin roof that will not hold water, it bears down the rain fast and constant, holding none of it, save the few maverick drops at the last that hang uncertainly. This pain rain is a ruthless tyrant, and if not for the grace of my Abba, I would be swept into the gutter with it.

I woodenly do the next thing, unsure of anything. It's like walking through a breathable mud--I cannot see, but I can still function. I have no other help but the One I've asked to drive me through all this. My poor dad can hardly speak. I don't know that Alan knows what to do. No one seems to be in charge of this show, so we find ourselves somehow given the next thing. It is a thoroughly difficult mission, yet not without great, great Grace and Provision.

Thank You, Lord. XO

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Tears I Feel Today

This is a poem from a book called Dragonslayer by Anne McCaffrey. In it, Menolly composes this after her beloved mentor passes away. She is heartbroken and grieving deeply, but there is still much to be done, and the urgent tyrannizes the important.

There is much to be done in these next two weeks, many phone calls, emails, and inquiries. I will schedule a meltdown afterward. For now, the tears can flow at night where I am exhausted, but held and loved.

Song For Petterin

The tears I feel today
I'll wait to shed tomorrow,
Though I'll not sleep this night
Nor find surcease from sorrow.
My eyes must keep their sight;
I dare not be tear-blinded.
I must be free to talk,
Not choked with grief, clear-minded.
My mouth cannot betray
The anguish that I know
Yes, I'll keep my tears till later,
But my grief will never go.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Everything seems so much better when the sun is shining brilliantly, especially in the winter time when most of our days here in the Pacific Northwest are overcast and c-o-l-d. When the sun is full and so very present, every room in my house knows it. Not one goes unaffected by its permeating beams, as every facing wall and window absorb its warmth and radiate it collectively.

My Kevin goes about a little more joyful, Jylle dons those funky-cool yellow shades, the horses gambol in the fields, and there just seems to be a lightness that comes in proportion to the bright. Even when there are ongoing problems that need to be dealt with and worked out, there's a sense of it'll be all right...

As a Christian, I've heard the analogies of "sun" to "Son" and appreciate their truths. In learning what it means to live in the power of His resurrection, I'm experiencing this "Sonshine" in the bitterest of weather--literally and figuratively. In the storms and clouds and hail and ice, there is an imperturbable calm that neither grows nor shrinks. It is steadfast, unshakable, serene. This is the place out from where I want to live His Life. This is the place out from where others will be blessed as His power and living water flow.

Sun or no sun, the indwelling Son is Enough. There is no need that has ever been for which He is not Enough. This truth and the others He is revealing are invigorating, inspiring, and rejuvenating. Even when windows are darkened and wild winds force through cracks, I AM safe, and Enough is more than enough.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


"I choose to love You. I will choose to love You."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ah, Winter...

Snow shmow. It's ice that creates the real drama. At least, on the roads. We have a most dependable 4x4 half-ton truck that may as well be named Hercules. It's been our ace in the hole a hundred times when our other cars have fallen lame against winter's harshest road conditions. When this is what greeted us first thing this morning, it was a no-brainer that Kev would take Hercules to work.

Yeah, it's icy, but we have Chevy Hercules, right?

... right?

I was shocked when Kev called a minute after he left to say that he was stuck in the driveway. He was broadside halfway to the road, just slid right into the snowbank in slow-mo and not a thing he could do about it.

Hauling kitty litter, ammonium sulfate (snow melter), gloves & jacket for Kev, I opted for a shortcut through the field of snow rather than skate my way to him. Good choice. In the meantime, he'd fetched chains from the barn to lay down for traction. Like he always does, morphing into a mighty combo of MacGyver and Jack Bauer, he unstuck the truck and took Jylle to school so she wouldn't have to gauge the roads by her first-ever-winter-driving self.

I snapped a few pictures of the innocent-looking puddles along the way. One would never guess that inches away from the traction of that snow, lays ice that would just as soon smack your grandma than just sit there and look pretty.

Watching the water splash into the melt of the puddles, I was reminded of Rob Bell's book Drops Like Stars. He writes of a four year-old boy who says over and over, "Stars, stars, stars..." as he stares out the window at the rain. His mother explains that he thinks the droplets look like stars in the instant that they explode onto the sidewalk.

Magic in the mundane. A melody in the caterwaul. Victory in the tumult. Peace in the battle. Joy in the tragedy. My God delights in the upside-down, the impossible, the moment alive. Be still and know that I AM GOD. All is well...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Face of God

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as to beam forth the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. ~2 Cor. 4:6 (Amp)

I was talking to Ryan, and he shared this verse with me. He just started talking and said he was still processing it even as he spoke. As he went on, a shiver went through me. "When you look into the face of Jesus, you're looking at the face of God." God, in all His Godness, excluding nothing of His nature and essence, put on skin and flesh and walked Earth as a man called Jesus. The face of Jesus owned the glory and majesty of GOD. Within tangible pores, bones, organs--the Eternal, Self-Existent One.

When Moses asks God to show him His glory, God responds by saying He'll cause all His goodness to pass before him. His glory is His goodness. His goodness is His glory. In Jesus is all the glory-goodness of the Father. When I look on His face in worship, I am possessed by His glory-goodness.

Like Ryan, I'm still processing this. I love the immediate impact it had on my spirit. I know that means He's bringing on something. Something of His nature, and I dig that.

I don't know how accurate any of the pictures, paintings, or composite guesses are of Jesus' face. I rather like that we don't know. He becomes to each of us what we most need.

When Brett was two, I asked him if he'd ever seen Jesus. He played with a toy as he answered matter-of-factly, "Yes." Surprised, I asked what He looked like. Still occupied with the toy, he answered, "His hair is black." Even more surprised, I asked if there was anything else. "He not very tall." I asked, "What else?" He turned to me and said, "His skin is like yours." Tears flooded my eyes. Could he have actually seen You...? The only pictures he had of Jesus were in a calendar by Richard Hook, famous for his ruggedly handsome, GQ Jesus sketches. Interrupting my wonder, Brett piped up, "He was Good. And nice." Keeping it together, I asked, "Did you do anything together?" His voice grew a little quieter, "He just hold me and sing to me."

Was he making this up? Only God knows. You can imagine how I pondered this fiercely. Finally I remembered that he'd had chicken pox a couple of months before. It was bad too. Sores covered his little body from head to toe. He cried and cried, I gave him oatmeal baths, sang to him, tried everything to distract and entertain. Bedtime was the worst though. He didn't like to go to bed anyway, and this physical torment only exacerbated that dislike. As I held him and rocked, croaking out lullabies through tears, I begged the Lord to help him. I know it wasn't a fatal condition, but witnessing your child suffering and being helpless to do anything about it is a lonely agony.

Could this have been the result of a young mother's plea? Might His Spirit have held Brett in the night, the Comforter consoling His precious, hurting little one? Did He enjoy holding him like I did, delighting in being his solace? I'll never be sure in this life, but it's certainly in keeping with His nature to manifest compassion and refuge to the weak.

I've only told this story two or three times. It's very special to me, and I hold it dear. To look on the face of Jesus and see the glory-goodness of God... Unless you become like a child...

Vita Nova (New Life)

I'm in a good place. I haven't been in a good place for a long, long time. I've been in a decent place, a proper place, a reasonable, survival, rebellious, confused, or waiting place, so this is good.

The difference, of course, is where I am spiritually. The enemy can connive and manipulate and deceive like nobody's business, and I am quick to justify. Until now, I have been misled, God has been maligned, and I have been bewitched. The burden of personal responsibility for my sanctification was grossly misrepresented. "Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves" (Oswald Chambers).

It is unfortunate that desperation is a necessary condition for motivating me. Up to my eyeballs in self-centered, self-absorbed pride (for that is what doing my own thing is), I came to the end of my natural self. I do believe I have attended my own white funeral. That is the difference.

For years now I have kept back the one thing that delineates a follower from a disciple--my right to self. Oh, it was there in the beginning. I am Yours, Lord. Have Your way. Use me up. Then life happened, and I got tangled up in the razor wire of complacency and comfort. I began to grow invisible. While I was doing no obvious damage to the Kingdom, I was not building into it either. "Whoever isn't with me is against me. Whoever doesn't gather with me scatters" (Luke 11:23). The enemy is far more powerful and clever than I can handle on my own, and it was folly to deceive myself into thinking that while I was in the camp of doing my own thing, I would be safe. O, little lamb, you are not only weak and foolish, you are in mortal danger!

I don't believe it would've taken so long to come to this place if I hadn't added one particular exemption to my earnest request for deliverance from my self. I would pray, " Lord, make me desperate for You. Bring me to that place where I want You more than a drowning man wants air. But please don't let it cost me anyone dear." Always, I would ask for the whole enchilada and to have it as cheaply as possible. The banged-up, chipping, tawdry, plastic baubles I'd clung to and enjoyed privately seemed too precious to exchange for only a promise of real diamonds and pearls. Maybe later, I would say. I'm just not ready yet.

The thrill of overcoming temptation-that-had-become-habit the first time was exhilarating and encouraging. It's what inspired me to do it again a second time. On the brink of another setback, He asked me, "What is something you would just love?" I thought, and remembered that going to Israel is the one thing I'd wanted all my adult life--and I'd done that. The only thing I'd love is go back and do it again. I heard Him in my spirit say, "Let's go on an Adventure. I'll take you to Israel."

I'm all over the spiritual connotations of that! Israel, the apple of God's eye. Israel--God's people--the bride of Christ. Israel, occupied of and by God. Israel, the confluence of man and God. Israel, earthly home to the One who thought the universe alive. Israel, the beloved, unfaithful whore. Israel, land of promise and destiny, of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

My response was physical. I smiled, my stomach did a hand spring, and I felt a rush of Joy. Yes, Lord, for this I would exchange my baubles! Yes, I'll do it!

Immediately, I was ambushed by legitimate arguments and rational fears. I've failed at this a thousand times before. What was so different about this time? Sure, you say Yes now, but what about crunch time? What then? Who will you run to in the need of the moment, especially when you know how comfortable this is because it works? This really isn't so bad. Maybe this spring...

A rush of verses, recent encouragements, and thought-provokers rallied me:
  1. If you gotta start somewhere, why not here?! If you gotta start sometime, why not now?!
  2. My God will supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!
  3. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord Your God will be with you wherever you go!
  4. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ!
  5. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me!
  6. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!
  7. I am willing to be identified with Your death so that I may sacrifice my life to God!
  8. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds!
  9. We only have this time on earth to affect the kingdom in the next life!
  10. We only have this dot of time to establish how we will reign with Christ!
  11. All will come before the Judgment Seat of Christ!
  12. This body of sin is not the real me! I am crucified with Christ!
  13. Be still and know that I am God!
  14. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart!
  15. We have to go through an experience where our energies are brought to an end, where the strength of the flesh is buried in Jordan, and where we can only go on because we discover the power of His resurrection!
This is Day 3 of Vita Nova. Sounds puny, even pathetic, but it's a big deal in my world. There have been no new days at all for such a very long, sad time--"always winter but never Christmas." *

While I know I will stumble again, I combat the habit of future tripping and considering whole, great chunks of time. In keeping with my personality, I can manage a few small patches (why I have only a few raised beds in a wee, Hobbit-ish garden). Like a recovering addict, I look only to one day at a time and resist the urge to fall back into Eeyore-ism. The image of Him driving is a calming, comforting thing, even though I don't know exactly how we're going to get where we're going, but I am banking on His goodness. He is the gentlest Person I have ever known, and I do not want to leave this place.

He holds me tenderly and swaddled, and I nuzzle into the crook of His neck. I am restful, and He is plenty Enough.


1) "City on Our Knees," by TobyMac
2) Phil. 4:19

3) Joshua 1:9

4) 2 Cor. 10:5

5) Psalm 18:19

6) 2 Cor. 3:17

7) Oswald Chambers, January 8

8) 2 Cor. 10:4

9) Andy Fox

10) Earl Nash

11) 2 Cor. 5:10

12) Colossians 3:3 and Galatians 2:20

13) Psalm 46:10 14) Proverbs 3:5
15) The Power of His Resurrection, T. A. Sparks, p. 54

* Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Master

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Texas Meets the Pacific Northwest

We picked up Brett and Lydia at the airport on December 23. Brett was all smiles, but poor Lydia looked just short of a seizure, a stricken look on her face and tottering steps as she managed herself on slick and unfamiliar snow. She looked totally unsure of herself--which only further endeared her to me for all her humility and concern. What a gem. I hugged her for all I was worth, beaming with satisfaction at finally holding this lovely soul who'd captivated my Brett. When I finally let go, she exhaled in the sweet relief of that much anticipated First Meeting. Nice for it be over, I'm sure. I so wanted her to know in her deeps how very welcome she was, just as Kev's mom did for me at my own First Meeting.

She quickly fell in step with our family beat and was my favorite child for the week as she anticipated needs and met them without being asked. With her rich theatrical background, her expressiveness and colorful conversation were interesting, informative, and engaging. When I first heard her sing, it was so soft and haunting that it brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful voice... She also plays guitar and piano and knits like nobody's business! (I even hired her to knit a scarf for Zeb.)

The kids played board games, card games, head games (jk!), and got to know one another in the process. We had a bonfire one night, went for a long hike in the woods, and saw Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The two of them explored a little of Spokane and enjoyed a horseback ride. Well, it was enjoyable after she managed to stay on when my horse took off downhill early on! She taught Jylle how to knit, but somehow I let that opportunity slip through my hands. *sigh* She left me some lovely rust-colored yarn and cute wooden needles though, so I'll have to check out the knitting sites she left for Jylle.

Brett was distracted the morning they left as he considered that he might have to leave without the stand-in ring** he was anxiously awaiting for her from the post office. It arrived indeed, however, so we picked it up in Valley with Brett trying to keep the smile from wrapping around his head eight times. We drove straight to my parents' house so they could exchange a five-minute goodbye, and then we dropped them off at the airport. Kev thought Brett was so excited that he might propose on the plane instead of waiting until that evening!

At the New Year's Eve party that evening, we got a phone call from them announcing their engagement. Ryan was the only one they could reach, so after telling him, he handed the phone to me and wide-eyed, said, "It's Brett." I looked at him, and he nodded and said, "Uh huh!" We had two messages from them when we got home, both of them sounding so happy that I could hear them smiling!

He proposed on a high hill (a mountain by Texas standards, I hear) close to midnight. She nodded 'Yes' vigorously with tears sparkling in her eyes. He originally thought of doing it in front of a bunch of her friends because she's so social, but there was no party, so he opted for Plan B. A deliriously joyful young couple in front of God and a sky no nighttime could darken, I like to think the heavens sang in celebration of what will certainly be one Happily Ever After.

Thank You, Lord...

**The official one is in the process of being made.