Beautiful Sunday blessings to you, Friends!
What grace that we are loved
by the One who IS love,
whose love never changes, never fails,
whose love is wholly undeserved,
and beyond all limits of time and space.
Encouragement from the One who created you,
who knew you before the beginning of time,
and loves you beyond all human understanding,
the God who gave up His life for yours,
to redeem you and every hour the locusts have eaten,
who forgives you again and again and again, forever,
who pours out grace upon grace upon grace
every moment, every step, every breath,
waiting with arms wide open to welcome each beloved child home.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
When I’d first heard of the event, I knew I wanted to go. Maybe needed to go. Just because I knew a little bit of the artist’s story, enough to believe her life might speak to mine.
So I put a ticket on my birthday list.
I wasn’t going to ask any of my friends if they were going. I just wanted to slip quietly into the back and let the evening happen.
Then I thought of my friend. We’d attended this event together every year since her husband died. Even that first year, just weeks after his death, tear-stained, arms wrapped around each other, holding on, getting through.
I wondered if she was going. Felt a little selfish for not asking.
So I sent her a message.
She was going. With a small group of friends and relatives. “We’d love to have you join us. We’re going out to dinner first.”
“I think I’m at Children’s Hospital that day,” I messaged back. “Can I let you know?”
But the truth is that I didn’t want to go to dinner or be social or engage. I just wanted to sit quietly in the dark and breathe.
Tuesday evening, late, less than 24 hours before the event, a friend I hadn’t seen for a few of years sent me a Facebook message.
“Hi, do you know of anyone with extra ticket for tomorrow night’s event?”
“Why?” I wondered. “Was it sold out?”
“Yup. Two weeks ago.”
Immediately I thought of my ticket. My one ticket. All she needed. Yet somewhere deep inside I heard, “No, you need to go.”
“Let me check,” I messaged back, “and I’ll let you know.”
In the morning, I contacted another friend, because if anyone would know of an extra ticket to any event, anywhere, it would definitely be her.
She immediately texted back, “Yes!”
Moments earlier, in a staff meeting, a co-worker had mentioned that she had an extra ticket — one extra ticket — for the Laura Story event that night if anyone knew of someone who needed one. Wow!
This whole unlikely group met in the lobby that evening – my beautiful widowed friend, her friends who’d gotten there early to hold our seats, the friend who’d asked for an extra ticket, the friend who’d found one…and me.
God had ensured I’d be there that night, if for no other reason than to facilitate this ticket exchange.
For while I was retrieving the ticket from one friend, my sweet widowed friend was discovering that the friend who’d asked for a ticket, also a young widow, was there…alone.
God had brought us all together in that space at that time, on purpose, to lean close, grasp hands and cry together in the dark.
“It’s hard to raise sick kids.”
“Hard to lose your person.”
“It was hard and lonely and dark that first week. So, so hard.”
Grace spilled raw as we slipped through the doors and into the dark. Gathered in, leaning close, voices rising, tears splashing in the candlelight.
Hope flickering into flame.
Love washing over weary souls, long and deep and high and wide.
Wrapped in the arms of community. Beautiful. Perfect. Unearned.
And without end.
We love because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19
There could be no truer wisdom than that.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. ~ Henri Nouwen
The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen
For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God. ~ Saint Teresa of Avila
Sincere, according to Merriam-Webster, means “having or showing true feelings that are expessesd in an honest way; genuine or real; not false, fake, or pretend.”
Just. Honest. Real.
Never boastful or demanding.
Never proud or rude or jealous.
Always patient. Always kind.
Never irritable or unjust.
Genuine and hopeful.
Never failing. Never fading.
And never, ever ending.
That, my Friends, is LOVE.
Wishing you a day steeped in the genuine love of Jesus!
Welcome to February, Friends!
Today marks the beginning of a brand new photo series, 28 Days of Love.
Stop by for a moment each day,
pause, breathe deeply,
and drink in the beauty of Creation,
the truth of Scripture,
the thoughts of Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King,
Dante, Seneca, Karen Sunde or Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Each day — new beauty, another facet of the depths and radiance of Love.
My oldest turns 21 tomorrow. And I wonder how that’s even possible.
I look in the mirror and see such change from the short-haired, high-heeled, 27 year old who had no idea what to do with the tiny, bow-lipped, perfectly formed, newborn son gently placed in my arms on that first cold January afternoon.
He’s taught me so much. To be a mom, really. To swaddle and bathe and feed and clothe and comfort and care for a brand new little human. He’s taught me the depth of love, and of desperation, as I held him hot and wheezing with pneumonia at seven weeks old, as I buckled him into his car seat and drove him to ER when he wouldn’t wake from his nap at eighteen months.
As I held him and walked him and rocked him and played with him and fed him and taught him to tie his shoes and hold a crayon and scoop sand and roll out dough and read.
And somewhere along the way, I learned to balance desperation and protection. Learned to let him run and climb and chase and tumble and roll and laugh and sled and skate. Learned that it’s OK for little ones to fall down and get dirty and play.
Learned to sew and watched him play in a whole array of masks and capes. Every single day.
He’s taught me to see, this almost man of mine, to discover the beauty tucked into ordinary moments and everyday objects. To turn them over in my hands and discover the patterns, watch the way the light reflects, notice the colors in an endless array of hues and shades. He’s taught me perspective. And to feel music – and to listen. Deep.
He’s taught me to weigh my words and choose my battles wisely – buckets of words spilled over, poured out, impatiently, angrily splashed across too many days. Words that sometimes wounded his heart.
And he’s taught me patience. Together we’ve learned forgiveness and perseverance and to never, ever give up. Even when we’ve wanted to. Even when it’s all we could see, the only words we could speak. Even when it hurt just to breathe, he didn’t let go.
And neither did I.
We held on. And spring came. Like it does every year.
And tomorrow, I will stand on the edge of this crisp new year, amazed at my firstborn son, grateful for each day he still sleeps under our roof, joins us at the table, shares his words, his music, his art – his heart – with us.
Thankful for every single beautiful, impossible, laughter-filled, overwhelming, joy-brimming, incredible, frustrating, adventurous, desperate, busy, ugly, wonder-filled one of his 7,765 days on this earth.
And awed that God chose me…me!…to be his mom.
It’s been an interesting six weeks here. We’ve had our second brush with suicide, and our second with self-harm, my Dad was diagnosed with melanoma in the lymph system, I’ve had two surgeries, neither big, but both resulting in plaster wrist splints for two weeks followed by braces for four more, a friend of our daughters’ was missing for five days resulting in an FBI search (which thankfully ended well. She was found safe and is home.), my Dad’s six hour neck resection surgery, and a call from my son who’d been in an accident which totaled two cars and badly damaged ours, but thankfully no people.
For weeks, my legs have felt like lead, physically exhausted, but my heart has been (mostly) calm. Not when we rounded the bend and saw the night sky swirling red and blue, lit up by four squads, four fire trucks, three ambulances, and two wreckers at the scene of our son’s accident, but aside from those few hours, mostly, unexpectedly calm.
Because somewhere along the journey through these past two decades since I became a mom, a deep faith has been forged, anchoring me to a strength beyond my own, a peace indeterminate of the circumstances. Somehow in the most chaotic, unexpected moments, I know deep in my soul I will survive, will make it through no matter what tomorrow holds. It may be what I least expect. It may be every kind of awful. It may be the hardest road I’ll ever walk, but I will not be alone. Not ever. Not for one, single second.
Because I am His, beloved child of God, held in His Hands, and headed for home.
And in that realization, I’ve discovered I can breathe. Because it’s not about me. I cannot take my children’s pain, cannot own their expressions of it. I can only trust the One who loves them beyond all understanding, who knows all, sees all, and can redeem all.
I cannot control. Cannot make something happen or keep something from happening. I cannot protect my growing-up kids or my parents, or keep them safe, or eradicate their hurt or fear or anger. But I can listen. And love. I can be there in the pain.
Expecting nothing in return. Not change or results or reconciliation or recognition. Just love, poured out, for Love’s sake alone.
And therein lies the freedom. Loving without expectation as Jesus did. He didn’t coerce or cajole or pressure or push or urge or expect. He simply loved, perfectly, completely. No strings attached. And it was enough. Because He is enough. All we need.
No, we cannot take our children’s pain, cannot own their expressions of it, but we can trust the One who loves them beyond understanding, the One who knows all, sees all, and can redeem all.
We love because He first loved us. And in that peace, in His deep and perfect love, our hearts rest.
the beauty of the soul. ~ Saint Augustine
the poetry of the senses. ~ Honore de Balzac
bestowed as a gift
— freely, willingly and without expectation. ~ Leo Buscaglia
a gift, precious and rare,
poured out from the heart of the Father
across our lives,
spilled to nourish and sustain,
to draw each wayward child
HOME. ~ Cindee Snider Re
Because God IS love. ~ 1 John 4:16
Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.
~ Francis of Assisi
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, Friends!
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 Peter 4:19
I didn’t ask to be
in this place,
learning to text
over pizza and games,
but they came.
Knocked at my door,
stretching my heart
as their smiles,
while I choked
on the shards of their cry,
Is there room for me
And walk away
from these kids
whose lips have called me
exploding my discount
disrupting sleep and
this is Grace!
Love too deep
to ever fit inside
*Written for the kids of my heart: You are each a joy and a blessing, challenging me to laugh more, pray harder and be a better person, and I am forever changed. I love you all deeply from the heart, every day imperfectly, learning that that is exactly where Grace pours in and God ignites the tender flame of faith.
**Sharing with the community of dVersePoets today where words spill and poets speak.