Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Baggage Claim

A few years back, I went on a trip with some girlfriends. Just boarding the plane to our Florida destination, created unmatched excitement and anticipation--no kids, diaper bags, or schedules to worry about...just time away to recharge our batteries, for the year ahead!

We had a great time. The weather was sunny, the conference encouraging, the music incredible. All in all, a great long weekend away. I was doing fine, until we started boarding our plane home. It seemed that the airline we were flying with wasn't as courteous, on our return flight, as they were when we departed. Instead of offering to store our carry-on luggage, at no charge--now, we were told it was too big to take on the plane. We had to swipe our credit cards, at the terminal, at $25 a bag, before boarding.

Even though the dimensions of our luggage fit within the written guidelines, they didn't fit into the box at the terminal. I could feel the hairs standing on the back of my neck, as I tried to reason with the attendant. We watched as dozens of passengers filed by, with similar-sized luggage, no charges incurring for them. Finally, a promise was made, by me, to report the incident. I flew home that day, feeling angry and taken advantage of. My poor friend had to sit next me, while I vented my way home. I can laugh about that a few years have passed!

We never did get our money back. When I think about it, I still shake my head. There are much worse situations to be angry over. This one falls into the category of "life is not fair, minor annoyances." Airlines may not have 'consistently-courteous people', from one hub to the next. And life will give us baggage to carry, from one adventure to the next.

For me, it raises a question: have I dealt with my stuff? Most of the time, I think I have. But then life sends me in a new direction, and I find myself carrying around the same junk--with more to add, coming back.  Like the baggage claim, my stuff keeps going around and around...waiting for me to pick it up, claim it as my own, and deal with it.

Isn't it liberating to purge out the old, and bring in the new? We try to do that from one season to the next--getting rid of forgotten toys, clothes outgrown, things we don't need. I always feel better once I've made room for new things to enter our lives : )

In the heart, it is much the same: allowing God to bring to the surface those things that no longer fit or belong. I'm glad that He is always doing something new, in our lives! We aren't designed to carry around those old burdens...

Matthew 11:28-30

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

..and He wants us to be freed up for what He is preparing, ahead of us.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

With the Christmas season upon us, I am reflecting on the goodness of God. Letting go of the things that were never mine. Getting rid of what no longer fits. And looking to the New Year, with anticipation, of what He will bring into our lives. Blessings!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Love is Messy

An enjoyable mess...sometimes, it is fun!
A few days ago, I was awaken by cries in the night. I figured it was more of the same: croupy coughs and stuffy noses. As I scrambled upstairs to my little girl's room, there she was--afraid to move, clenching her little fists in disgust at the mess before her. Looks like the stomach bug came to visit us, as well.

While on clean-up duty, I had a flash of a memory in my mind. Myself, as a young child, sitting in my own bed, the same cries in the night...and then watching my mom, clean me up. I remember feeling bad that it happened, and that she had to get up and do more work. The sheets on my daughter's bed were the very same sheets that I used to sleep in...maybe the flowery print in this scenario helped trigger that memory.

Those sheets are in remarkable condition, for being like 30 years old. Reason being--at some point, they were put away in storage because they were no longer being used. After the divorce, I slept in that bed less often, going back and forth between two homes instead one. I'm glad to have several sets of my old sheets: they remind me of a time of security and routine in my family of origin.

In the struggle to parent my own kids, there is(at times)the haunting feeling of abandonment--lurking around me. In my heart, I've often asked, 'Mom, where are you?' I wish I could pick up the phone and tell her about the things that go on in our day. I imagine that we would laugh about this or that, exchanging some happy memories from when she was a young mom.

Love is messy. Love takes work. Love gives even when it seems there is little, to give. On the days that I miss my mom, I try to remember that she did what she could. In a turbulent time, she loved us in a way that was vital: by providing for our basic needs. It was a sacrifice that was necessary, and one that took time away from us. But she did it out of love for us. She worked so hard, and was an awesome nurse.

I also have memories of my dad, playing with us at the park. Going for countless bike rides, eating Popsicles while they dripped down our chins, attending our first Twins game, going to the Zoo. He is the most fun dad(and grandpa)ever! Life was challenging, but we had fun together. Somehow, we survived and by the grace of God, we now have families of our own to love, and have fun with : )

We have to fight for family life. In today's world, we have many demands on our time, and distractions that pull us away from what we unknowingly crave: meaningful relationships. There are some things that cannot be fixed or controlled. When I feel like life is becoming rather 'projectile' and messy, I go to my Creator and ask for help.

He is every thing that is contrary to my circumstances: strength--when weak...wisdom--when in confusion...peace--when afraid...let's go to God, who has open arms and loves us deeply...yes, even in the mess of it all.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Silence Speaks to the Heart

"They spread their wings, and fly"
Listen...the rhythmic ticking of our clock, on the wall...the tinkling water, forming ice cubes...and they rumble-tumble to a frozen bin, below...jets passing by, overhead, on a crystal-clear night...the dishwasher, humming to close its symphony of clean. These are sounds I rarely hear--only when all is perfectly still.

Sometimes silence speaks. It cries out for a voice, that is often drowned out by our noisy world. I wonder how I missed it for so long. All those years of long work hours, the need to conquer the world, as it were--my 20's were a sort of quest to see what I was made of. I think we've all been there at some point in our lives. We don't know who we really are...and then we find out Who made us.

Today, I find myself in a different kind of busy. The list of 'to-do's, slowly gets crossed off, but only to be recycled again by the same chores, different day. One day at a time, I know, I know. And as I go through my day, I hear the same faint question: "Mommy, will you play with me?" And I wonder, as I put off my 'yes', one more time, should I trade temporary organization(and sanity) for memories that will last when those mundane days add up to years, gone by too fast?

I've decided that a woman can never do enough in one day. Even on the most productive of days, the end of it leaves me wondering if I've, again, missed the best part. I silently vow to make tomorrow better. I try. And sometimes, there are those shining moments. Like earlier today, when my son explained to me, in detail, why he had constructed his Lego helicopter a certain way(our little engineer). I'm so proud of him and the wheels that are ever turning, in his little mind. Or like this afternoon, when I saw how high my daughter had learned to pump, on the swing set. Her smile was brighter than the setting sky, as I waved to her through the window. I finally did make it outside to be with them both...even if it was the end of the day.

As my kiddos grow older, I'm discovering that they need as much of my time, but in a different way. It's true that it gets easier when they become more independent. But now, they want an audience more than they need a watchful eye. They need me to cheer them on, excited for each little step towards growing independence.

The distractions of daily living are in constant competition with what we love and cherish most. I have to remind myself that someday, when I'm gone, the list will cease to matter...but the memories that we made, together, will live on in the lives of my children--teaching them what is most important: that they are dearly loved! Not only by me, but through me--I humbly hope to demonstrate some of the awesome love God has, for them.

This is for all you parents out there. We're in this together--the balancing act of practical love, i.e. providing for our kid's needs, vs. spending that quality time with them. I now understand how hard this job description is, to live up to! Thankfully, we have much grace and love surrounding us. Because we are also still kids, to Someone. Have a great fall and start to the school year : )

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Lycra-Spandex Blues

So it finally happened to me. Yes, one of those questions you never want to be asked...well, unless the answer to the question is an obvious 'yes'. This time, it was a definite 'no'. I was at the local pool, in the water, next to a little girl who had an eye-level view of my mid-section: "Do you got a baby in there?", she quipped. I replied, "No, but my tummy looks that way because I've had two babies!" LOL

It's been a hot summer, here. One the of things I hate shopping for the most is a swimsuit. By July, the kids were begging for a pool pass and so I had to find something soon. I can't recount the number of stores I've been to, multiple times--looking, trying on this piece or that. It is frustrating, to say the least. And then add to that, towing along your two children--who seem to be experts at making a scene in the stores. I'll share with you a few of my hilarious moments, in finding that perfect suit.

I was at a store, where they have everything, pushing my red cart through the swimwear section. My kids were hiding here and there, underneath the racks--pretending to not be seen. I was bent over a particular 'miracle spandex suit'--examining the push-up feature, annoyed with the underwire, not believing it would do anything positive for my size. Then I heard a male voice, practically booming behind me: "Lookin' for a suit there, are ya?" I turned around, with the cup-side in hand, facing a family member that I don't see too often. He had a rather smirky smile on his face, while I could feel the red creeping across mine. He happened to be waiting for his little boy, by the men's bathroom, inconveniently located by the women's swimwear section! Ah well, he was just being sociable. No hard feelings there.

My next trip would take me to another dept. store, where it seems they always have sales. It was swimwear this time. I finally found something that would work for me. But then I had that thought: I really should have TWO know, just in case. That was my undoing, so it seemed. The section was pretty picked over, not offering much in my size. But then I saw this mannequin. I just had to check: yep, she was wearing MY size! Was there another one the rack. Nope. I started to wonder how on earth I could get this suit off, so I could try it on. The thought of stripping a mannequin, in the middle of the store, was just too much...even for me. There were no sales people anywhere to be found. I walked up and down the isles, three times. Only found one person, and she was ringing up a line of customers.

I started feel desperate, as my kids began to whine about how hungry they were, when we would leave, and this and that. The mannequin was one of those hanging kind, on the rack. No head, no arms, no legs. Just a sculpted mid-section that represented a figure most of us never had. I looked to the right, then to the left: "Forget it, I'm bringing her in the dressing room!" And so we did. My son kept asking, "Mom, are you gonna take that suit OFF her? Are YOU going to try it on? Mom? Mom?" We rushed past the back of the store, making a bee line for the dressing rooms. I never felt so foolish and silly, in all my life! But maybe it would fit...maybe? sort of fit...not really--it looked about as ridiculous I was already feeling. Next question: "Mom, are you going to take her BACK to the rack?" Oh boy. I sure didn't want to! But I knew I had to. My kids were watching, wondering if their mother had completely lost it. So we returned 'Miss Mannequin', with her suit back on, to the hanging rack. I was never so glad to leave a store as I was that day.

So I guess what I've learned from all of this is that one decent bathing suit is enough. Maybe next season, I'll find another in a less dramatic way. If you want to see what real women look like, go to the pool sometime. We come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. But we share the same need to be loved for who we are, inside and out.  I'd rather be there, chatting up the day with my mom-friends, instead of with the 'false figurines' at the dept. stores. But that's where we have to go to get fitted...and even when you find a flattering suit, you may still get asked that dreaded question!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Neighbor's Lawn

We've heard the old cliche', "The grass is greener, on the other side." It is human nature to look out onto another's field or pasture, wondering what it might be like if we were over there, ruminating, instead of where we are now. Comparisons can be poisonous, deadening the gifts and creativeness that are uniquely ours.

 Since my kids have spent more time together, this summer, I've heard my share of squabbles and bickering: "Mom, she has more than me. Mom, he always gets to go first! Mom, I don't want her looking at me anymore...Mom, she called me 'Adrio', again!...Mom, he's being naughty--he's a dunker(what that is, I'm sure I don't know)!"

While humorous, my ears can grow tired of the daily whining and wailing of my four and six-year old. To be fair, once they get past this stage(usually after breakfast), they play well together. It is a beautiful sound to hear them role play, pretending to set up house. Sometimes the stuffed animal cats are 'nursing' their babies--so adorable. In the building process of parts to toy vehicles, there is all manner of tape, stuck to my carpet: the gray sticky kind as well as the familiar beige masking tape. We run out all the time...if you ever get a present from us, and we have to use duct, electrical, or some other adhesive--you know that we ran out of scotch tape, again.

We can learn so much from children, can't we? So much of what we observe, in their world, mirrors what we adults struggle with: significance, validation, provisions, using our gifts. It is the difficulties of life that often drive us to compare and wish that we had something better. I remember a time when I was complaining about the taste of what I was given. A wise person said to me, "do you know why the grass is always greener?...think about it: because it is well-fertilized!"

How true. When we look out onto the horizon of another person's field, we see the beautiful green, staring back at us--and hopefully, it doesn't create in us the 'green envy' we'd all like to avoid. But what we don't see is what is hidden. The refuse of life, that has been turned under in the soil of adversity. The past, the hurts, the trials that have made that person who they are, today. We don't know this unless we've walked in their pasture, with them. And it would be wise to wear the appropriate footwear, while doing so.

So let our hearts remain tender, humble before God. Knowing that He is doing a work in each of us that is not yet complete. Let us have empathy for those who are struggling; joy, for those who are doing well. On this day of our nation's freedom, let us be thankful for all that we have and for the sacrifices that have been made on behalf of this country. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Little Love Sponges

 We are counting down the days. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...June 1st: last day of school! So excited to have a break from daily drop-offs and pick-ups. While I have enjoyed taking Adrian to his rural school, kicking up some dust on the way, we are ready to be done.The days have grown longer, and the bedtimes have stretched out, later and later. The great outdoors are calling our names, and it is hard to come back inside, with so much to do and explore.

This weekend, we make our way to Omaha, NE to celebrate Grandpa Jim and Linda's wedding. Samantha will be the flower girl, which means a special t-shirt and tutu, for the rehearsal dinner--complete with a princess crown and wand. Adrian has a tux shirt to wear, as well. Yes, she will love it. She has a pretty, ivory satin dress, with slippers, for the big day, on Saturday. It will be fun for her to 'play dress up' for this special day. It will be a good time together with our family, out there. Also good time, on the road, to catch up with each other...captive audience : )

I've been busy with landscape design, yard maintenaince, and planting our own vegetable garden. Although this year, we mixed in a few more flowers, in addition to last years sunflowers: butterfly weed, nasturtiums, and a wildflower mix. Hopefully, all will come up and grown well. We plan to finish the grade in the backyard(finally). Not sure if it will be natural boulders or retaining wall block. Hence, the reason we have taken 6 years to get it done: we can't agree on which material to use. I think I've got Troy convinced that boulders--the more cut-stone kind--will look nice...we'll see what happens, with that...its always harder to design your own yard, than someone else's--LOL.

Planting season has gone amazingly well. The crops are in! All in about a week's time, with little rainy weather to contend with. A big thanks to Troy's uncle, one of our hired hands, who helped him get the job done. Troy is looking forward to a more laid-back summer, with less traveling and more time fishing, in the boat we inherited. It needs a little work, but once that is done I know he and Adrian will have a great time bonding, over bait and hook. Samantha and I will join them, on occasion...for a few hours : )

So that's the update, on us. Nothing too deep or dramatic...just the goodness of life, here on earth.
God is good. I have to say that, repeatedly. God is GOOD! He has lavished his love on us, in many ways. Lately, the best way has come from the mouths of our babes: they have been saying "I love you Mom", a lot these days. Samantha is especially verbal: "Mommy, I just LOVE you. Guess what I'm gonna do now? Give you a hug!" Love it.

They have, no doubt, soaked it up, from various people and places, in their lives. Kids are little sponges. They take it all in. Sometimes, it isn't all good--they have their moments, like any one us can have. But then we hold them, SQUEEZE them, keeping them close...and out pours the love. God knows we need it, as exhausted parents. I know some of you can relate. I like how He will send a little love, through the form of a child, at the right time. We wish everyone a fun summer together. Enjoy the parks and pools, soaking up some rays--and sharing the love : )

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seed for Sowing

A second piece of chocolate has been unwrapped. Sitting here, while it melts in my mouth, I have to say that life is good. Of course, it always is with a little chocolate. Looking back to a year ago, I'm now in a much better place in regards to what is coming ahead. There were many tears and dark days, last spring. I'm delighted to imagine that this spring might be different.

Before I get into the deep, I'd like to share about my 'little joys'. Adrian is now six years old. He loves reptiles. Yesterday, for his birthday, he spent his money on a 4-ft yellow and black worries, its not real. He went to bed with it wrapped around his neck and wearing a smile that no sleepy eyes could erase. It is heart-warming to see the way he marvels at creation. Today he was in the hayfield, chasing down some of the first butterflies of spring. Soon we will be raising Monarchs and I'm sure all sorts of 'nature things' will be finding their way onto the kitchen island-LOL.

My little Samantha will soon be four years old. She has the vocabulary of a 6-year old and plenty of charm to go with it. She loves animals, carrying purses and dressing up in tutus. She is forever finding little trinkets to carry around in her hands...and it is then that I tell her she needs her purse! She is a princess, but one that doesn't mind the dirt and the outdoors. My kind of girl. It's fun to watch her and her brother play together. They say the cutest things. This Easter, we seeded a 'resurrection garden' in hopes that it would help them gain an understanding, alongside the baskets and bunnies. We were surprised at how well they took to the idea. They were building tunnels and pretend tombs, saying, "ok, its your turn: you be Jesus and come out now." LOL
Life has a way of bringing us to our knees, doesn't it? Trying times are what bring people together. It is pain that builds bridges to the hearts of the hurting. It is broken down walls that create transparency, letting the light shine through...revealing that we are also human.

Within the seasons of life, we have different roles to play. Sometimes we are the needy, other times, we are the support for another. We sow time into our families and friends. Our workplaces. Our houses of worship. Passionate pursuits for the greater good, that tug on our hearts. And then there begs the question of taking care of ourselves: how and when do we do this?

It will look a bit different for each one of us. I have issues with the sunlight changing, hence, more winter blues than the average person. This year, I was able to treat that with a Happy Light--no kidding, that's what they call it. I also discovered(with a good doctors' help)some other deficiencies that were contributing to my feelings of depression. And what has pulled all these little adjustments together is choosing to spend a little time with God, each day.

A plan was devised: sitting in front of the light(for 30 minutes)reading, checking in, preparing for my day. I'm amazed at how much better I now feel. God is faithful. He does meet us wherever we're at. Kind of like a parent with arms open wide. He gives us wisdom to help us in our times of need. He also sends encouraging people into our lives so that we're not so alone. I'd like to share a verse that has touched my heart, in this journey from grief to joy. Psalms 126:5-6 says, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

What I believe this is saying is that when we have tears, they matter. Someplace else, in Psalms, it says that 'God keeps our tears in a bottle'. I had never considered, before reading this, that grief could be a necessary part of bearing fruit. But its hard to argue with the content of this word picture: we shall no doubt come out of a season of grief, carrying a harvest, and have joy. The tears and sadness are seed for something greater, something good...later on.

I could not imagine anything good coming from losing my mom, nearly 4 years ago. I continue to wrestle with the dreams that were dashed, when we had to say goodbye. But I will say that I've pressed into God, alot more, since we learned of her illness. There was a short period of reconciliation that took place, between the two of us. I'm thankful that we had that time to talk. Those are some good things.

Been thinking about seeds, as we've experienced the warmest March on record, here in MN. I'm sure this is true in many parts of the country as well. I have never thought about getting a garden in so early before. Easter weekend, I planted onions, shallots, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, spinach and peas. In my bay window, I have some sturdy little tomatoes and pepper plants growing, which will go in around Mother's Day weekend. The weather this spring has been amazing, to say the least. I'm so happy to see green, everywhere!

Dig in a little deeper, with me, now...all seeds have to die to themselves before they can produce. They have to be sown into the ground, buried in the dark earth. They need water, sunlight, and warm temps. And then they crack open, sprout and root in...and eventually, after the rain, the growth spurts, the summer heat--we start to see some fruit forming. And harvest time is for sure a delightful, happy time. You finally get to see and taste the fruit of your labors.

And so it is with the seasonal nature of our lives. Another verse that has been encouraging to me is Psalms 37:3, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." It is good to be able to enjoy what God has given, isn't it? Especially after a time of intense sadness. He does bring us to those places of contentment. Learning to trust, to live, to do good--to feed on His faithfulness, which is food for the soul.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Last month, we drove out to the Omaha area for a family visit...and to attend Winter Jam 2012! It was amazing. We decided to get the upgraded pass, to get in early--not wanting to fight possible crowds or be turned away. Surprisingly, there was no line and we parked right up by the front of the building. We walked in, got our lanyards scanned, and picked a seat up by stage right. Since there is no seat-saving, we were afraid to even move once we got there--LOL. Of course, you have to use the bathroom and eat, sometime! We arrived at 4:30PM, so that is a long wait until the show officially started, at 7PM. I told Troy he could guard my seat, with honor...he did good!
Many of the bands were new to us: Skillet, For King & Country, Group 1 Crew, Dara McClean, We As Human, Sanctus Real. The main reason I wanted us to go was to see Peter Furler and Phil Joel perform together. We never made it out to a classic Newsboys concert, back in the day. It was quite exciting, hearing on FB, that Phil was considering joining the concert. The fans were wooing him, day by day--with Peter's help--until finally, at the end of December, he agreed to join. Who knows how often they will perform together...hopefully, more often than not.
Before the official show started, there was a Q & A time with a few of the bands. Building 429 and Kari Jobe were up for this round. It was cool to see how genuine these artists are, in
being real with the fans. They're people(like us)who happen to be called to be in front of lots of people. Kari Jobe couldn't have said it any better: "If you have a passion for something, and it seems impossible, it probably means you're supposed to go for it...but be faithful where God has you planted, now. He will open up doors, later on."
I haven't been able to get those words out of my head, since then. It was like getting another piece of the puzzle, as it pertains to 'purpose in life' stuff. I believe God has a plan for each person. I trust Him and know that all things happen for a reason. But sometimes, you get that gnawing feeling that something isn't right...that there are bigger things, out there. This feeling doesn't come from comparison to another person, but from deep within my soul. It is the longing to know, and be known.
Sitting there, in that fifth row, watching Kari speak and tell a little about herself--I felt very content. Troy was there with me. Our row was literally 3 seats wide(our own little personal space). I thought about how much we both enjoy our kids love it with us...the worship ministry we've been able to be a part of all these years, the incredible musicians in our little church. It started to make sense to me. This really is what I love the most: doing music.
I have no idea what our future holds, in that regard. But I just have to get up each day, and sing. That I know. Its in my heart and soul, lyrics playing in my head, throughout the day. I might be driving around in the van, listening in, the steering wheel becoming a bongo...for a second or two. Lately, I've been hearing my daughter, singing along with me. That is fun. I'll be on the piano, and there's this one song I play, called, "Every day", and when I get to the end of it, I do this really cool minor tag that makes her squeal with delight. It doesn't matter which room of the house she's in: I guarantee you will hear her cheering when I get to the end of that song!
The concert was great, as you can see.
Best part was meeting Phil, after the show. We walked up to the concourse, on the second floor, and waited maybe a couple of minutes. I introduced myself and Troy, and then we saw his eyes light up: it was great to put a face to a name. Phil and Heather Joel have a ministry site called 'Deliberate People'. It's a place where you can follow a reading schedule, meet with God, get to know Him better. I decided to take on the challenge with them. It's been fun to read what they're learning from day to day. They have some great insights to share with everyone.
So back to Kari's comments, about remaining faithful where you're planted. That spoke volumes to me. God knows my heart. He knows it. Just keep on doing what you're brings joy and someday, may go beyond your wildest imaginations. (Luke 16:10, Jer.29:11)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Mosaic Family

If you've ever been in my house, you might notice that I have a thing for glass, in all forms. Depending on what season we're in, the top of my cub board will display an array of glassy items, with a strand of lights to illuminate them, at night. In my heart, I smile when I see it. Art makes me happy. It reminds me of how creative God is; His handiwork through our fingertips.

I remember going up to Split Rock Lighthouse, on a trip up north. The shoreline is often covered with pieces of colored glass, washed up from old shipwrecks that happened years ago. The once sharp edges, now worn away from being tossed along the waves and rocks. I brought home a bottle full of them once. They looked better under water, but still pretty. Its funny what we treasure, what attracts us, isn't it?

Walking by this mosaic(above), I was amazed at its eclectic beauty. I wondered how long it took the artist to mold all the pieces into place. How did they draw the scale of the picture to fit on the side of a brick building? Probably used some serious ladders, or maybe scaffolding. I think it turned out great. I don't know where a person finds that much broken glass, but I'm glad that someone has the vision to put it to good use.

In Psalm 68:6a, it reads, "God sets the lonely in families..." The meaning of the word 'family', here, probably doesn't mean just blood-related. There is a picture of so much more, in just that one sentence. The lonely. One who is isolated. One whose home may have been broken. One whose life lays in shards. I'm imagining God placing that person in an environment where the broken pieces can be swept up, dusted off, and put in a jar for safe-keeping.

We can often find someone worse off, or better off than ourselves, at any given moment. I would like to venture that all people are 'cracked pots', in one way or another. We get chipped, knocked over, tossed around, and sometimes...broken. That is the nature of living on earth. Our character becomes shaped and tested through tough times, revealing what is within. Some appear to have it worse than others, but life is still life...kinda crazy, at times.

I am a cracked, broken pot. I have pieces that will never go back together again. I've endured loss in many ways. I've experienced feelings of neglect & abandonment. I know what its like to have innocence taken away, only to be replaced with emptiness. I have felt lonely, depressed, more than I care to admit. The ache for my mom remains; for her to see all that her grand kids are doing and becoming...for the person her daughter is becoming.

But in spite of all that, I give a shout out for how great our God is. Guess what He's doing? He has that jar of broken pieces...He is the artist. He has each one of us in the place where we need to be, to shape us, bringing healing and restoration. As the picture of our life comes together, so does our family unit, along with us. He sends the right people into our life, at just the right time.

There is an expression on my wall, surrounded by pictures: "Our family is a circle of strength and love, with every birth and union it grows. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger." It holds true for us. When family comes to mind, included in that is church family, MOPS family, study group, music team, former co-workers, friends of all ages. You all have made a difference, and I thank you for being a part of our lives. Love you all, so much : )

The foundation, the Rock, that holds us together is strong. When we build upon that, the beauty is lasting and ever-changing. Each piece, carefully placed, mortared and glued down. Only God could put people together in that way. He has a plan, an idea of what the picture will look like. I can hardly wait to see it someday. Until then, we trust...we live...we laugh...we cry...we fall down...get back piece, creating something beautiful.