Tuesday, December 23, 2014

And that is why


An open letter to our children.

At Christmas.

You were a gift to us.
From the womb of another.
Probably through tears and remorse.
And in our lives, your dad and I.
More tears. 
For a gift unearned and undeserved.
This life.
Put into our arms again and again.
Three times the precious gift.
At airports amid crowds oohing.
And pictures taking.
And our hearts fluttering.
With joy.

The first nearly on my birthday.
A drive to Kennedy International.
With a stop along the way for a call.
To ensure our child aboard.
And then a toast and a prayer.
And back in the car.  Hearts full.
Meeting our son that night.
Wrapping arms around him.
This boy we didn't know.
But having loved from a distance.
It just kept on growing.  Still today.

And then the first of May.
A baby girl.  Amid three others.
Arriving together.  All three months old.
At BWI.  A repeat scene.
But never really the same.
How does one describe meeting.
One beautiful baby girl.
Your own.  At Gate Twenty Two.
Filling your heart and your world.
Once again.

And lastly, at least for a while.
Coming at Christmas; a baby boy.
Surprised by a phone call when all hope gone.
He is coming.  Be ready. 
And amid ice and snow and the cold.
Of Christmas.
We picked him up.  And carried him home.
To a house full of holly and mistletoe.
And two older siblings giddy with delight.

And soon.
We will add another.

This time.  Through marriage.

Another girl arriving on a plane.
A few years ago. 
We didn't know to meet her.
But love was found.  And grew.
And we celebrate and thrill.
Because this girl said "yes".
To our first-born son.

And you, our children, continue.
To be a gift to us.
Unearned and undeserved.
Filling our lives with your stories.

And it is good. 

Especially those memories.
Years growing up into what is today.
So full of fun and laughter and love.

Even the hard stuff.
Disagreements and misunderstandings.
Between us.  Sometimes.
Through trying.  Us failing you.
Again and again.
This attempt to love.  Perfectly.

And what we are learning.
More and more.

Is the radical wild of another gift.
Unearned and undeserved.

The gift of Grace.

Showing up at Christmas.

Not just a baby in a manger.
Not just cattle lowing and angel song.
Not just a lovely story.

But God Incarnate.

Cutting through the fabric.
Of our own attempts.
Tried again and again.

Bringing rescue.

And that is why.

We trim the tree.
Hang the stockings.
Pop the poppers.
And fill our hearts with merry.

You were a gift to us.
And Jesus. 
A gift to the world.

Bringing grace to our broken.

Unearned and undeserved.

In a relationship with Holy God.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Around town

Ten On Ten
Autumn in Williamsburg, Virginia today. . .



Still around the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate . . .
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, November 3, 2014

Not mine


Church people.
That's the thing that bothers me. She says. How they act.
The sunlight splayed across her strawberry blond hair.  Illuminating her smile.
Quietly sharing her experience and processing perplexing thoughts.
But somewhere deep the anxiety from a new relationship disappointing.
With people she thought would act differently.  And not disappoint.
But they did.  Some church people.

And my soul grieves.  For the perception.  For the perspective.
So often true.  Of the ones we expect so much from.  Disappointing.
Not measuring up.  Forgetting the world is watching.  And simply.  Well.
Reinforcing a stereotype.  Again.

It happens to me.  Church and people disappointing.  Too often. 

And I am one.  I disappoint too.

Because God. 

Showed up on earth as man.  Knowing.

How much we disappoint Him.  Ourselves.  Others.

And He is the only hope.

Not the church people.  Not myself. 
Not my successes when they come.
Or my failures.  Much too often.

It is He. 
Who gave the law. 

And we cannot keep it.
Preposterous to think ourselves capable.  And that is the point.
Yes.  Good works occur.  Great things happen. 
But it is unsustainable in this one life we have and wish to live well.   

Jesus had harsh words for such things.  Against those of his day. 
Praying on the street corners.  Their good deeds for all to see. 
Proud of church status.  Parading it.  Like the emperor with no clothes.

So forgive us.  The church people. 

We are not what you seek.  We will fail you. 

Because only Jesus can be for us what we cannot be for ourselves.

And the thing that gets me out of bed each day. 


His unfathomable goodness.  Not mine. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Maleficent seducing

I read today.
Men crawl through their lives cursing the darkness.

And we do.  So often.

Under our breath.
In a fit of rage.
With body language loud.

And sometimes.
We don't even recognize it.

This cursing. 
This crawling through life.
This darkness.

And sometimes we do.
Recognize it. 

And celebrate it even.
Writing books.  Making movies. 
Darkness romanticized.
Sinister titillating.

The mysteries so deep. 
Of spiritual worlds.

A bogus sense of beauty.
Evil disguised as good.
Alluring. Tempting.

Requiring less of us.
We think.
So enjoying the ride.
Believing the lie.

This celebration of maleficent.
Lives misaligned.
Appearing beautiful.  Enticing.
Seducing our weary souls.

But then.

A day arrives. 

Personal darkness.
Like never before experienced.
Disappointment deep.
Drowning.  A black vortex.

And we do.
Find ourselves crawling.
If we were to admit it.

The evil, the tragedies.
Our own lack.
Unfairness and ugly of life.
Getting our attention.

Because the enemy; darkness.
Dressed up so well.  Disguised.
Tempting.  Seducing.
And beautiful.  For a while.
And we.  Thinking it loves us.

It doesn't.

And we.  No longer celebrating.


But the story continues.
In what happened on that tree
when the nails hammered
and the Man hung.

And the sun disappeared.

A violent upheaval of the heavens.
A battle for good against evil.
Played out.  In real time.

Rescuing our own virtuoso attempts.
To decipher life.
To mitigate darkness.


When the Man hung.

The curse came undone.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Because too often I forget



Filling my empty with His full.
And giving grace where there is lack.
Showing up with exquisite kindness.
And whispering His love in the wind.

And I stand on tiptoe.
Trying to see.

His Presence.

And what I do see.

Mist covering a field at dawn.
The moon full and white.
Catching my breathe; ethereal stillness.
A holy moment. Stumbled upon.
In the early nearly dark.

Sea and sky having no end.
The stretching of blue in all directions.
Earth a canvas filled; 
this jaw-dropping vista.
Early autumn on the vineyard.


A snapshot of sunset.
Brush strokes all over the sky.
Back and forth.  Capricious tinting.
Reflection of stunning in the water.
For just minutes.  Fleeting.

And not really having to stand.
On tiptoe.

So apparent.  This.

God writing.

Above the din of broken and fear.

His Presence.


Too often I forget.

Friday, October 3, 2014

What it's not

Not just pretty pictures.  Grace.
Or happy moments.


What we call beautiful.

Is really
that indescribable something

of which for a moment
become the messengers.


Suggests CS Lewis.

To something beyond what transfixes. 

Beauty smiles.
But grace transforms.

And it is not about pretty pictures.
And words on a page.

It is about the twenty-four/seven living.
In this fallen world we call home.
The ugly stuff and the breaking stuff.

There is not a scholar anywhere.
In any field.
Who, being honest.
Cannot help but say
there is something seriously broken.
This life.

And the messengers pointing.

To the stuff beyond a church building.

God redeeming.

In the reality of this hurting world.
The fleeing of genocide. Rwanda.
And the life lived in orphanages.
And the hungry in slums.  All over.
Crying out for help. 

And here in this country.
The same because.
Brokenness written all over our lives.
And we live desperate.

Sometimes for food. 
Or shelter.  Or Safety.
And sometimes for love. 
And acceptance.

And here's where grace comes in.

It is available.
In this broken place.
Full of beauty fleeting.  Pointing.

To Redeemer God.

And relationship with Him.
When and where.
He covers our broken with Himself.
And fills our lives with HIs love.

And in receiving.

Offering to others.

This grace.

Choosing to help.
And to love and forgive.
Hard stuff.
When we would rather not look.
Or see.  Or give grace.
Inconvenient often.

And to those around the world.
Suffering so greatly.
Not leaving it to others.

It's not about a church building.
Or a pretty picture.
Or words on a page.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Anything but ordinary


It's in the simple beautiful everyday ordinary.
That life happens.

Life at it's best.

Connecting with a friend who has suffered a loss.
And giving a hug.  And listening.  And laughing.
Because there is always something good.
In life lived with God.

Despite the heartache.
Despite the loss.

And we celebrate.

His love.

And the love of community however flawed.
However much we mess up. 
Loving one another and extending grace.
To ourselves.  To others.

Because of Him.
In our lives.  Filling us.
Transforming the inexplicable.
Into something we can hang onto.
When answers do not come.

Extending a hand.  A smile.  An understanding.
Bringing the most important part of ourselves.
To another.
And making the simple beautiful everyday ordinary.
Anything but.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What that mirror tells me

Capturing beauty through a lens.
Collaging words about grace.

But truth.

Coming first.

Showing up.

Whether I like it or not.

And putting up the mirror.
To my soul.  To my futile attempts.
At being something good.
The living well.

And what that mirror tells me.

This truth.

Well.  Here it is.

That I am deeply flawed.
Irreparably damaged.
Beyond repair.  It's called sin.
And I don't like it.

But it is the truth.

And this world full of.
Broken.  Miserable. 
Shocking heartbreak.
Disappointment.  Decay.
And we blame God.

For.  Well.  Everything.

And then.  On occasion.
Watching transfixed.  Something beautiful.
Stirring my soul. Heart full.

But not for long.

Because the things of life destroy.
And disappointment runs deep.

And I can't fix it. 

Because it is I who is broken.
And sin has marred everything good.
And continues to destroy.

And myself.
Clinging to shreds of self-worth.
Hanging on for dear life.
This ride.  Life.

Leaving me exhausted.  Weary.
In my attempts to be happy.

When all along.
I've been thrown a life line.

Holy God came down to rescue.

And when we see it is our ugly.
Having pierced the flesh.
And He hung.  For hours.
And the heavens convulsed.
And the day stood still.

In shock.  
The enormity of this rescue.

I hang my head.

For I cannot imagine.
What He suffered.  Endured.
On that tree.

This Jesus.  Holy God.

Laying aside glory. 

So we can live free. 
And my deeply flawed covered.
By His sacrifice.

Dying.  And then living again.

Spilling grace all over our lives.

And rolling around in it.
Like a cat in the sunshine.
This grace so good.

But never to forget.

The price.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Morning disheveled

I want to live a life with passion.

To wake up and embrace.
Having had trouble sleeping for the thrill of it all.
For the chasing of beauty.
Another new day.

To breathe in the morning and rejoice in the new.
All quiet and tip-toeing out of the dark.
Shimmering awake with the summer sun.

Filling the senses.

And I breathe it all in.
Grateful.  And calmed.

Morning routine.  Summer disheveled.
Padding out to the garden.
Coffee in hand.  
The cacophony of birdsong.  Cicadas. 
Cone flowers starting to bend.
Their long limbs heavy.

All part of the mystery.  The beauty.
Of summer.  Soon turning to fall.

And what do I do?
I am asked all the time.

With the passion.  In the desperate.


Not destined to dazzle.
Not how I am made.

Made to love simple.
The wild and the beautiful. This ordinary.
Hot tea and good books and conversation.
Morning routine and authentic lives.
Serendipity showing up.
Color and texture and pattern.
Nature spilling gorgeous all over our lives.

And snapping the picture.
To remember.  Reinforce.

Glorious extravagant creation.
What I see.
In the morning sweet.

The promise.

Of more to come.

This beauty written.
All over our lives.

And I breathe it all in.
Grateful.  And calmed.

Because.  It softens our sadness.
Bringing joy to our day.
Connecting the dots with grace.
Of lives living frazzled.  Tempestuous.
And us.  Unsure and wanting.

But wait.  There is more.
Because beauty.

Just a signature.
For Grace. 

Amazing Grace.

And then.  Falling like rain.

And I laugh.
When my heart may be almost bursting.
For the sheer joy. 

Of chasing beauty.

Desperately.  Passionately.

In the sweet summer morning.

And in the evening rain.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nets under bridges


Heard in the news today.
Cities build nets under bridges.

For those jumping.  Those in despair.
Depression digging deep with darkness.

And we grieve.
And we will miss you, Mr. Williams.

And we are sorry.  No net could catch you.
And keep you safe.

Knowing now.  As we do.
Behind that handsome smile.

Brilliant comedy. Outrageous creativity.
Spilling all over our lives.
The gift of impromptu.  Genius even.
Handing out laughter with ease. 
And we. 
Laughing with you and loving you.
And embracing carpe diem shouting loud.

Believing it even. 

And even though you told us.
We didn't really listen.

That you suffered.

And while tributes pouring in.

Being reminded.

That for you.  Deep down.  All along.  
Despair and pain throbbing loud.
Beneath the humor.  The talent.  The smile.

And that may yet be your greatest legacy.

To show us.

Not enough to build nets under bridges.

We need each other.
In the raw and in the ugly.
When the pain churns heavy.

Because.  No one really wants to do this.

And so I thank you, Mr. Williams.
For the laughter.  But also.
For the honesty.
Amidst star struck and funny.
And all this world has to offer.

Telling the truth.  Always.
Through your life and even now.

About darkness and despair consuming.
That dark vortex of depression.
In order to validate.  The pain.  In others.
And helping to remove the stigma.

Society judging.

And hanging nets under bridges.

When what is needed is so much more.

The being there with someone.
Validation and love.
Empathy and compassion.
The courage to speak out.
To get help.  To help others.

God knows. 
Life is hard.  On so many levels.
And we struggle.

And He.
Offering unfathomable love.
And scandalous grace.
To rescue our weary souls.

And even that.  Sometimes.
Not enough to stop the sickness.
But His arms ready to catch us.

Better than nets.  Under bridges.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The wild crazy of it all

Busy.  Too busy.
Said in in the moment.
In the pride.

Doing stuff.   Important work.
Activity.  Events.
Overflowing the calendar.
In all seasons.  Life never slowing.

And in our culture.  A symbol.
Sometimes an excuse.
Sometimes just real good stuff.  This busy.
But also.


A cover.  For wounds and sorrows and pain.
When reality crashes into us.
Never stopping to feel.  Emotion running hard.

And so the dance.
To achieve and cram and stuff.
Every moment full.
With busy.

But what I am finding.
In the healing.
And in the slow.

Goodness.  Showing up.                                               

Like a child.
Intent on a project. 

Bent low.  Face scrunched up.
With smock and long handled brushes.
Tubes leaking color.  And canvas blank.

Savoring the moment.
Hurry gone.  Busy vanquished.

And slowly.

Something new emerging.

On a canvas.  In a life.


When the too-busy falls away.
The wild crazy of it all.
And the breathing slows.
And the laughter. 
It just deepens and fills the space.

Where there was despair and hurry.


Like a child.  Finding joy.

And filling a canvas.
With ordinary and painful even.
And the colors exploding.
In the reeling and then the rest.
Into something beautiful.


In the slow.

Whether an hour.  An afternoon.
A week away.   Or a season long.

To fill.  With God.
His goodness.
In the.  You're good enough.

And the wild crazy of it all.

The laughter.
It just deepens and fills the space.

When the too-busy falls away.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Leaving from my driveway


Walking down the sidewalk.
Back up to the old house.

All the myriad of days packed into that car.
Leaving from my driveway.
Never leaving from my heart.

And I sit on the porch stoop.
Rocking in the sun. 
And I think back.  All the times.
Snapshots in my head.

All the myriad of days packed into that car.
Leaving from my driveway.
Never leaving from my heart.

Girl stuff.  And God stuff. 
And smoothies in the morning.
Lives intersecting; a mama and her girl.
In the reeling and in the quiet.

Words tumbling easy.

All the myriad of days packed into that car.
Leaving from my driveway.
Never leaving from my heart.

And regrets.  There are none.
Only time.  A little more.
To sit on the stoop. 
Count stars.  Catch frogs. 

And read our books.

But never in a thousand years.
When I held that baby in my arms.
Did I ever think.
I would get this old.

And she.

All the myriad of days packed into that car.
Leaving from my driveway.
Never leaving from my heart.

Ready now.  Fully launched.
A city waiting.  A job to do.
Though life is messy.  Hearts are torn.

My job is done.

I smile.

All the myriad of days packed into that car.
Leaving from my driveway.
Never leaving from my heart.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why did I ever start this?

Why did I ever start this?

Perfectionism like fingers around my neck.
Strangling me.
Screaming for one thing or another.
The wanting.  In my life.
Getting a hold.  Things beyond my reach.

Knowing better really.
Going round and round.
In futile attempts.

But one thing getting the attention.
Again and again.

The scream that won't die.
For the want.  A life full.
And not knowing the how.
To get there.

Collaging words.  Snapping beauty everywhere I go.
The hunt.

And in the hunt.
What I am learning.  Even now.


A theme in life.
With God.  Myself.  And others.

Fear bellowing loud.
Exploding on the page.
Daily lack showing up hungry.
Throwing off track.
Scaring.  Isolating.

And me.
Running to whatever fixes.

For a while.

And it's been a theme.
In this space.
Because maybe you too.
The reminding.

And the best counseling.
Sometimes a friend.
Having already dug deep.

And in the safety.  I find.
The not-giving of trite.
Or disguised contempt.
Or weary showing through.

But gently.  Humbly.
The redirecting.
Reframing of the snap shots.
Of everyday life.


When we take off our mask.
In the real and the messy.
And still.  Do not scare.

When judgment does not knock us over the head.
In the reality of who we are.

And the scream dying a thousand deaths.
In the gift of grace.

We stop being scared. 
Stop running.
Turning around. 

And really see.

A love story never more beautiful.

Jesus.  Full of grace and truth.

And so.
Finding the intimacy I crave.
A life full.  Of Him.

The unmasking. Gloriously liberating. 

And offering it.  My broken.
To a world that sometimes scorns.
Knowing all along.
It may not be enough.
Or it may be too much.

But offering it anyway.

Why did I ever start this?


Talking about the grace of God makes me come alive.