Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 28

On this day, the birthday of my firstborn sons, I am keenly aware of how deeply grounded I am to the beauty of this earth, to the light in this world, as I celebrate one son’s four years of life.  At the same time, my spirit is lifted high, as I remain mysteriously rooted inside the realm of heaven.  I also remember one son’s precious life on earth, trusting that he knows true birth more fully than any of us. And so I celebrate life today, life seen and life unseen, birth witnessed and birth beyond sight. 

We celebrate four years of life with Jack.

And we remember the joy of life with Webb, knowing we will one day celebrate eternally.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Morning has broken.  The sun’s light creeps dim in the kitchen.  The trees stand still, at attention, waiting for the wind to wake them.  Inside the home, the family gathers around the table to break the bread of cereal and oatmeal, coffee and juice.  Whole milk dribbles down the chin of the youngest while the oldest scoops bites too big of yogurt.  Daddy swigs his last sip of black coffee as I add more blueberries to my oatmeal. 

A basket sits in the middle of the table.  It holds pieces of paper, words on scraps. It is a basket of thanks, a collection of gratitude.  It holds words from my husband and sons and words that crept out of my own pursed lips, words that slid through my own gritted teeth.   One son says, “I am thankful for Batman,” and I write it down.  The other son says, “My chickens, Mommy” and I copy his words.  Daddy grabs the marker and writes as he speaks, “I am thankful for my family.”  Six eyes shift to me.  “What about you, Mommy?  What are you thankful for?” 

I stare at our basket of thanks, scraps of paper piled high, weeks worth of gratitude mounting in the center of our table.  There is so much to say to the child’s question, so much for which to be thankful.  Yet, I am silent.  Perhaps, I do not know where to begin, and maybe I do not know how to end.  It feels wrong and empty to offer thanks for measly things when that for which I am most unthankful swallows Batman and chickens into the dark, bottomless belly of sorrow.   

But He says to give thanks, always, in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Could He mean this too?  This season, when I slam into birthdays and holidays with every new week, and each gathering is laced with undertones of sadness? Must I give thanks even now, in the middle of staggering pain, while I visit my son’s grave and drive home to dress a turkey?  Did He mean it when He said, “in all circumstances?”  Even this? 

The eyes around the table are still waiting for my offering.   “Mommy, what are you thankful for,” he asks again.   “This,” I say.  For this, I am thankful.  No, not for the grave, not for the death, but for this, this gathering around of a family with hearts broken, but hearts full, offering thanks on small scraps of paper as a trail to Him.  I am thankful for a family who sits down together in the thick mud of grief to give tiny, meager offerings.  I am thankful for the son in heaven who knows gratitude complete, and for the sons at the table who are learning gratitude in pieces.  And I am thankful for the One who sits on the throne, and the One who sits at my table, the One from whom all these blessings flow.  “Yes,” I say.  “I am thankful for this.” 

Did you mean it, Father, when you said, “in all circumstances?”  Even this? 

Yes.  Even this.

He asks me to give thanks in it, not for itI toss my words into the basket.  And there it is, my thanks in it all.  It feels small and unimportant beneath the weight of heavy loss.  It feels small and unimportant beneath the blanket of abundant grace.  But it is what we have, the offering that we can make.  And so we give thanks, even now, in the middle of this.  Yes, even this. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Toes grip the edge
Shoulders lean over
Looking for known, finding desire

I feel it; the stirring,
The breaking through,
The pushing back

I sense it; the rising up,
The swelling within,
The brimming over

Shattered heart rattles
Tired hands tremble
Edging towards Unknown.

Brain is dizzy
From soul stirring
Fumbling for solid ground.

Is this the way to new joy?
Shedding and shaking?
Purging and risking?

This? This life on the edge?
Flesh shouting for safety?
Spirit begging for adventure?

Is this the way to wholeness?
Doubting mind gathering heart pieces to protect?
Believing soul cupping heart pieces to scatter?

Is this the way to the Cross?
Toes curling and shoulders leaning?
Shards of shattered heart pieces rattling?

This? This promise of pain?
This stepping out?
This wondering if holy hands will catch?

image via pinterest 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


It happened in the most ordinary of moments, the most mundane of circumstances.  The block tower stood tall and the puzzle piece was found.  The sippy cup dripped steady water on the wooden floor while the brothers flipped through the pages of the dinosaur book.  But what happened inside of me was anything but small. 

I felt it low and deep, in a hidden, dark corner within.  If I had not been so still, if the moment had not been so small, I wonder if I would have even felt the flicker of the flame.  It started as just a spark, small as a star, but as I gave it space, embers of openness, the flames began to catch.  These flames stretched out their fingers and began to touch each nook and cranny of my spirit with their fresh heat.  A fire spread, gaining steam with every second that I allowed it.  I threw in only the kindling of wonder and awe, captivated by this new force, aware that by moving even slightly, I might somehow smother these precious flames.  Soon it was wild within me, melting through dense layers, then tearing down thick walls.  In no time at all, this fire that started so small, was rampant and out of control, singeing through darkness and roaring through silence.  And I sat on the floor, next to dripping water and turning pages, with my soul ablaze.  

I have often felt this way with grief- overtaken, consumed, hot with despair.  But this was different.  For these flames did not burn.  These flames did not hurt.  Their smoke did not blur my vision, but instead, allowed me to see.  What could ignite such a fire?  What could cause such a force to spread?  Only the clarity of such thick smoke could lead me to the answer; that this wild fire of my soul began with the smallest flicker of the flame of hope. 

My cheeks became wet with ashes and a smile covered the rubble.  My son noticed and asked, “Are you so happy, Mommy?” 

“No, son.  I am better than happy.  I am hopeful.” 

And the fire rages on.