Tag Archives: faith


white flag large
This is an extended family catching their collective breath on the outskirts of Mosul today after escaping ISIS. The white flag they take turns holding high in the air? A plea to not be shot. Fathers holding this flag over their infants and wives, over their nieces and small sons: please do not kill us. Partners, our feet on the ground in Mosul, came across them in this dry and weary land, and gave them a few bottles of water they had in the car, and some food. At this small kindness, grown men broke down and wept and our team felt their bone-cold despair.

“I’m not sure how to tell her story. She spoke, I listened. Periods of silence, followed by tears. Memories unpacked and peeled back. An open unhealed wound exposed. It had been just fifteen days since $23,500 was exchanged for her and her 4-year-old daughter. After two years and six months, they walked away from their ISIS captors for the last time. She heard we had come to provide food for her Yazidi community. She wanted to meet us. She wanted us to know about her captivity. She said it was important for us to hear. She said the world needed to know. She wanted to tell it for all the Yazidi women and young girls who couldn’t. She invited us inside where a kerosene heater warmed us from the bitter wind and snow outside. For the next several hours, over hot tea turned cold, I listened completely paralyzed for words as she spoke of rape and unspeakable abuse. This brave 32-year-old mother recounted with resolute determination the events which forever tore her life apart in ways none of us could possibly imagine.” – Partners Relief Team – February 2017. 

For the children and their families who have been living under the almost indescribable desolation and despair of ISIS captivity (also known as Daesh), stories like this are sadly all too common. As cities and villages are liberated from ISIS control, thousands upon thousands of Iraqi and Yadzidi families require urgent help for food, warmth and help to get back on their feet after years of oppression. An estimated 750,000 Iraqis remain trapped inside Mosul City alone and are on the brink of starvation. Half of these are children. Already the UN has suggested that 4,000 people are fleeing Mosul each day and we expect this number to significantly increase this month as ISIS continues to lose its foothold. To respond to these escalating needs, a Partners relief team is on the ground in Mosul and the surrounding area to provide food, care and hope to these displaced families. 

While we sip coffee and scroll through the internet, families in Iraq are walking through the desert with nothing but what they can carry. Families are walking away from their homes and tables they have gathered around and their cozy beds and everything their children have ever known; walking away from all that toward no heat and scarce food and not enough water.

Partners Relief & Development is urgently seeking $200,000 for critical food and essential supplies to be delivered in March 2017 to children and families in Iraq who have fled their homes to escape ISIS. We are embarking on our largest project to date in an effort to help them in providing aid on the front lines. 

Our goal, through our non-profit, Love Runners, is to raise $10,000 by March 31st and we believe this is totally achievable with your help. We are seeking 100 donations of $100. We understand that this may be prohibitive for some people so our challenge to you is this, do you have 3 friends who could join you in donating $25 each or what about 9 other people who would be willing to donate $10?  Can you imagine, turning your $10 into $10,000?! If you can’t donate but your heart is moved by the desperate conditions in Mosul, please help us by sharing the need, spreading the word, and praying for the people and volunteers on the ground in this war zone.

“There are still tens of thousands of people in the liberated areas and hundreds of thousands of people under ISIS control right now who are still living in their homes, and they are calling for us as the aid community to reach into the conflict so that we can serve them where they are,” Jeremy Courtney, CEO of the Preemptive Love Coalition, told ABC News in a voice recording.

The group delivered food to about 12,000 people in western Mosul on Wednesday.

Residents told the organization that Wednesday’s delivery was the first aid they had received. Some children cheered and said “We got it! We got it!” when they saw their father receive a package of food, the group said..

“We’ve got airstrikes and gunshots and helicopters overhead,” Courtney said in a video clip from inside west Mosul during the aid distribution as gunfire and explosions could be heard in the background.

Courtney described the aid distribution as “chaotic” and “representative of the chaos of the neighborhood and the difficulty of reaching people in those places.” People had to haggle with their neighbors to make sure that everyone got the food that they needed, he said.

“No aid has reached any of these people,” he said in the video, adding that thousands of people were fleeing, but that thousands were also choosing to stay in their homes.

The residents who received aid on Wednesday had been living under ISIS control for years until just a few days ago, Courtney said. Some had not had food for about a month while water has been shut off for three months, he said.

We want to start more than a conversation, we want to start a movement. We want to shout to the world that we will not ignore the hurt, that Jesus through us, in love and mercy, will prevail. Ann VosKamp said it best, I have saved and gone back to these words many, many times…

“We aren’t where we are, to just peripherally care about the people on the margins as some superfluous gesture or token nicety. The exact reason why you are where you are — is to risk everything for those being oppressed out there.

You are where you are — to help others where they are. The reason your hands are where they are in this world — is to give other people in this world a hand.

Caring isn’t a Christian’s sideline hobby. Caring is a Christian’s complete career. We don’t just care about people — caring about people is our job — the job every single one of us get up to do every single day. That’s it. Caring is our job, our point, our purpose. We’re here to care like a boss.

The world needs people who defy cynical indifference by making a critical difference — and that could be us.

Every single one of us can start changing headlines when we start reaching out our hands.”

Please consider partnering with us as we #StandWithThem. 

Donate Now

Just Whatever.

Hey mom, are my socks still in your purse?

Yes.  Yes they are along with your “summer reading” book.  Maybe you would like to read some of that?

No? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought.

summer reading
Yep.  That is page 2, 2 days before school starts.

Doesn’t every mom need an extra pair of their children’s athletic socks in their purse? I am also carrying 18 or so football discount cards that need sold/delivered, school supply lists, a bag of trail mix, coupons I never remember to use, and a fistful of receipts that you never know if you might need. But, not one writing utensil. My purse has become the equivalent of a new mother’s diaper bag except for teenagers. I have been a mom for almost 17 years.  Where does time go? We just seem to morph from one stage to the next and they keep coming faster and faster and it’s hard to keep your feet underneath you.

Today is our 12th first day of school and this morning the only back to school tears belong to me. Maybe it is because the dog has explosive diarrhea (sorry if this is oversharing) or maybe it’s because of this.

2016 back to school

jeep hair
Hoods up because jeep hair doesn’t work for school.

This is the first year that I am not the one do the back to school driving.  I am so over this. And before the day has even begun I received a text about a forgotten book from one kid and another with a question about the proper homeroom from the other.  We are batting 1000 already.

Maybe it’s because I am masochistic (like my love for the movies Steel Magnolias and Beaches) but I have watched this video year after year (multiple times already this morning) and every time it makes my heart hurt a little more…I just need to feel all the feels today. And eat more double chocolate butter braid.  Yes, definitely more butter braid.

I want more first days, a lot more. I know they are mine for just a moment, but they are yours for eternity. Keep them safe God, and if you would, just fill in the gaps with the things I forgot to say because I was too busy or too distracted. That would be great. That would be really, really, great.

Wishing you all a wonderful day no matter where this back to school season finds you.



  I am a firefighter. This was not what I said I wanted to be when I grew up. But for the last 3 weeks I have been busy putting out pop-up brushfires that just will not die. And I was not wrong in not choosing this profession.

Living on the fly and adjusting plans at the last moment to accommodate my new firefighting profession has left my pantry empty and my brain an addled mess.

Indulge me while I paint you a picture. Last Friday night we did an amazing thing. The Low Country Boil hosted by Love Runners, Do Good Studio, and Captain Montague’s Bed and Breakfast was a rousing success for the children of Casa Bernabe. (In fact, we had to put a waiting list together for people who want to be first in line to buy tickets to our Black Tie for Black Shoes Christmas event the first weekend of December. More on all of this later.)  IMG_7177IMG_7133

BUT, the days leading up to this event began the outbreak of fires, Dehydration, Faulty Alarms, and Tomorrow’s Celebration. It didn’t stop there though. On the morning of our low country boil my daughter and I ended up in a ditch with only 3 of our 4 car wheels touching the ground. After getting the tents, tables, and decorations set up for dinner a thunderstorm blew through, taking everything (tents included) and throwing them around and drenching them. The day after the dinner we were back in the ER for more blood tests after another post-football health episode. Monday afternoon got lit up when we had to abort our school and grocery shopping because we learned of a moved volleyball practice 10 minutes before it was to start when we were over an hour away (and sitting in the stylists’ chair for a haircut.) The grocery trip that isn’t to be was again thwarted Tuesday by another doctors appointment. Today holds blood tests and tomorrow two more appointments (my funny skin kid, not to be outdone by her brother, has developed a funny skin thing prompting an additional specialist to add to the week’s list.) We’ve had two check engine lights, (one on a rental car!) a leaky tire, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Even now I am forced to type this on my phone because it continues to fail to load on my computer.



As I was making an effort to tidy the piles I have on the counters I picked up a book my two-year old niece wanted me to read to her when she visited two weeks ago, Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. (I probably need to dig out some of the kids old books.) As I absently flipped through it my highlighted passages began jumping out at me and I gained a much needed reminder of how I need to be battling these blazes.

This is war. The fight of your life. A very real enemy has been strategizing and scheming against you, assaulting you, coming after your emotions, your mind, your man, your child, your future. But I say his reign of terror stops here. Stops now. He might keep coming, but he won’t have victory anymore. Because it all starts failing when we start praying.

Success, to him, means stirring up discord in your home, your church, your workplace, your neighborhood, and doing it in such a way that no one’s even aware he’s been in the building. He knows our natural, physical response is to start coming after each other instead of him – attacking, counterattacking, pointing fingers, assigning blame-while he sits out in the driveway monitoring the clamor inside, fiendishly rubbing his hands together, admiring just how adept he is…and what easy targets we are.

If all we’re doing is whacking at the nearest, most visible symptoms every time they pop their head up, we’re doing two things: (1) wasting precious time and energy that ought to be reserved and refocused on the real enemy, and (2) trying to fight ferocious spiritual forces by using weapons that don’t faze them in the least – weapons that aren’t even designed to hurt them.  So the hits just keep on coming.

He wants you to focus on the things that are physical and visible instead of where the action really is. The enemy who’s intent on disrupting the peace in your home doesn’t flinch when you try to force your own fixes upon it, but he does start worrying when a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a sister starts avoiding the noise at the periphery and starts making some noise of her own, right outside the door to the devil’s workshop.

Last Saturday when we came out of the emergency room there was a full double rainbow stretched over the parking lot.  It was a little reminder to me that we weren’t alone in this. God hasn’t forgotten us or the periphery brushfires that keep alighting.  It was also a reminder to me that while I am busy trying to put out the fires  I need to remember Him and not get lost in it all



A Playlist Mashup – Life and Death

width and depth

“Will you be going to the cemetery?”


The magnet thumps dully against the metal as the flag declaring our intentions is put on the roof of the car. The sky is a brilliant blue, unfit for grief and I think back to a similar sky on a similar day over a decade ago.

What do you say to the boys who have lost their mother?  What do you say to the husband who can’t make sense of how cancer laid claim to a body within a span of days?  Not years. Not months. Days.

“I am so sorry…”

Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
‘Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always (1)

There will be a day with no more suffering, no more pain, no more fears.  Even and especially when we don’t understand Jesus please flood our hurt with your comfort. Peace that passes understanding.  The assurance that covers all hurt – not removing it but allowing you to breathe through it and heal in spite of it.  And I know it and believe it and have laid claim to it.  I pray that they do too because mere words fall hollow on both ears and breaking hearts.

“The doctor will see you now.”

“You’re blood tests look great.  So, you know you are in remission…”

I grab hold of these words and hang on as if my lives depends on them, because it does.  But for how long?  And how will I know when I’m not?  And what happens then? Will I have the grace to declare God’s sovereignty over my life? When the fear becomes paralyzing, the unknown too heavy to carry, lay it down…take courage. God is striding ahead.  And if that day comes, if the results are different, He promises He will be right there with me.

This has been a week of paradigms of opposition, of declarations of continued health and the sweeping hand of death.  It’s been a week where even a diagnosis of remission is terrifying because it isn’t a continued guarantee of anything. Life’s fragility has been at center stage.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You (2)

“Hey, Mom. My homework is done and the top is still off of the Jeep.  Can I go get ice cream before I put it back on?”

The clock says its almost 9:00 on a school night.  That brilliant blue sky of the morning has faded and darkened.

“Sure.” Then, running out the door after him, even though I am ready to call it a night, “Wait! I am coming too.”

And with the now night-cooled wind blowing our hair and the heater cranked warming our feet he looks at me and says, “Thanks for coming along.”
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

And in his sincerity, my eyes fill and my heart spills over as God wakes me up to how much life there is to live in every single day. I think about how quickly time is passing us by and how I don’t want to miss a second of it because as I have been reminded there aren’t any guarantees.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long. (3)

Praising and leaning in and holding on for dear life because Oh God, how I need You.


(1)There Will Be A Day, Jeremy Camp (2) Lord, I Need You, Matt Maher (3) Blessed Asurance, Frances Crosby


Going Old School To Start

If you haven’t yet read In Love With Doing Good, please do, it will bring you up to speed.

I want to begin introducing you to The Goods that will soon be for sale in The Studio and I am starting in a most humble way with basic Red Thread…a simple friendship bracelet whose roots have really gotten to me. I have made many, many of these in my younger years and once again I have one adorning my wrist. But let me weave you a story and you will hopefully understand why.

In some villages in Nepal, the climate and soil conditions are so difficult that families can only grow enough food for two months of the year. Men from the villages go to India to find work while many women are left at home with their children, unable to support themselves because they lack skills and education.

The girls and young women in these villages are especially vulnerable to sex traffickers who deceive them into believing they will help them get a legitimate job. Eternal Threads is providing vocational training in tailoring to “at risk” girls in villages giving them the skills to earn an income that will protect them from exploitation and give them hope for a better life.

The statistics on trafficking are somewhat conflicting due to the covert nature of the crime, the invisibility of victims and are often simply unavailable due to under-reporting.   

I am not an expert on the subject but I can tell you this hit home with me as I looked at my beautiful young daughter who fits precisely within the demographic of what traffickers are looking for. It is physically sickening. If she were taken she would have 1% chance of being rescued and a 7 year life expectancy once she entered the trade. This criminal enterprise is second only to drugs bringing in an estimated $32 billion a year, $88 million a day. In the U.S. there are as many as 300,000 underage girls being sold.

In cooperation with our partners, Eternal Threads and the Red Thread Movement are able to help save over 2,000 girls a year from traffickers. Rescued girls, who live in the safe houses from six months to a year, are not only given counseling, but also receive vocational tailoring and beautician training.  

These hand woven bracelets from Nepal are made by rescued girls in the safe houses. Your purchase of their goods gives them lifesaving income that they can save to start their business when they leave the safe house. 


This is something that only cost a few dollars but hasn’t left my wrist since I got it. I can’t help but think of the very real person on the other end of this story when I look at my wrist and Thank God that she was rescued while at the same time offering a prayer for those who we have yet to save. 

Visit The Do Good Studio and be the first to know when these bracelets will be available. Please join me in the Red Thread Movement. 


Still Moments – Love Shows Up

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I love what Katie Davis says, “Not that he apologizes for the hard and the hurt but that he enters in.” We can’t always fix it. We can’t always erase it. But we can show up and maybe ease it, even for just a bit. We can sit. We can cry. We can pray. We can enter in. This is love in action. 

A Conquest for Coffee

goodLord, this week, may the good things, even though they may be less in number, shine brighter in our lives than the frustrations and struggles that we find ourselves facing. 

This was my prayer on Tuesday morning as I drove home after dropping the kids at school. My heart was heavy for my husband and kids, each with their plate full and feeling the burden of frustration as we launched headlong into another week.  I didn’t think it was an outstanding prayer at the time, just an honest plea on their behalf.  I didn’t realize how God would turn it into a lesson later in the week.

This morning the alarm greeted me and our puppy’s shrill barks beckoned me to rise and shine.  Another day was waiting.  Maybe you can relate to the way this morning wound itself out…

All I wanted to get my morning started was a cup of coffee but first I had to take care of The Puppy.  Our Old English Sheepdog, Beezus, is just 10 weeks old and we are still adjusting to life with a puppy.  (In hindsight we should have named her Sham-Wow, for we are finding out that with all of her “fluff” she soaks up the accidents she has in her crate overnight, looks awful and smells even worse.  Needless to say, we found out over the weekend that she has a bladder infection so she can’t help it, and although she is getting better, this morning she was definitely in need of a bath before anything else got done. She’s lucky she’s so cute!)

Through teamwork, my husband and I got the bath and the coffee started.  He finished puppy bathtime and I moved onto making breakfast and lunch and waking two sleepy teenagers.  I could hear and smell the coffee brewing (we have a coffee station in the utility room) from the kitchen as I went about the morning routine.  When I went to grab the pot and fill our two waiting cups I realized that coffee and grounds had found their way all over the utility room counter, floor, and everything that had been moved away from the utiltiy-sink-bathzone to the other side of the room into the unfortunate-coffee-overflow-zone.  In my haste I hadn’t gotten the pot all the way under the basket and so we had a mess. I did triage and had about 3/4 of it cleaned up, rescuing the things that needed saved from the staining, soaking coffee before needing to move onto the next morning task.

Coffee Plan B.  We would just use the Keurig to make our morning brew, one cup at a time.  My husband took this task over while we two-stepped around the kitchen, each trying to stay out of the other’s way.  He brewed the first cup, added the cream, and the coffee curdled.  Apparently, the vinegar that I had used to flush the Keurig yesterday hadn’t gotten rinsed thoroughly out.  (I thought I was being on top of things…clean the Keurig – check.  Ruin the next cup of coffee – check.)  I was past wanting coffee at this point to needing coffee.

Coffee Plan C. As I moved to the gathering of the sports items part of the morning (game uniforms, football apparel, and pre-game snacks) my husband moved back to the coffee pot, cleaned the rest of the mess up and made a new fresh pot, ensuring it would drain properly this time.  God love that man!

As my family headed out the door, I sat down with my much delayed first cup of coffee (ahhhh…) and I remembered my prayer from Tuesday morning and thought, yep there’s the frustration I was praying about.  Then God prodded my memory to each of my family members and the little shiny pieces of good that each of them had shared with me already this week.  Each courtesy of God moving in their lives.

Phil – coming back from his second trip to the West Coast in 10 days.  (He has spent more time there than at home lately and was coming off of his worst trip ever.) This was the text I got as he boarded his plane to come home. “One empty seat on this flight, and it’s next to me in the exit row.  Sometimes Lady Luck smiles on me.”

Ty – Tuesday’s forecast was 90 with bright sun and plenty of humidity.  This means football practice is especially awful  and Ty was dreading it. When I picked him up afterwards this is what he had to say.  “It wasn’t that bad.  It was an answer to prayer actually.  Literally, an answer to prayer.  I prayed that we would be able to practice in shorts instead of our pants and we did.  I prayed that we would get a pass on Lombardi’s (these are just strait torture) and we did.  I even got some breaks on scout team.”

Mae – my steady as she goes trooper.  There isn’t much that throws her.  She is my still waters run deep kid and every now and then I get a peek into what is going on in her brilliant, creative mind.  On Tuesday night she had to write a magazine article on prayer that she had me proofread.  These are her words. “Why should you pray? You should pray because you grow in knowing God. You shouldn’t pray just because you need something, you should pray to thank God and praise him for being awesome.”

Shiny pieces of good, outshining the struggle, even if they are tiny and in the minority.

Answered prayer, mine and theirs.

And I read these words from Isaiah…

“I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth the road ahead of them.  Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

God’s promise for my family and for me.    As I sat with my coffee I was reminded of all of these things and couldn’t help praising God for being awesome.

What’s your shiny good this week?

We Survived!

interruptThis week, some of us experienced our first teary-Kindergarten-first-day (maybe their tears, maybe yours.)  Some of us experienced Senior-year-last-first day and then there are a whole bunch of us that fall somewhere in between or outside of those back-to-school lines.  But, we all survived the first week!  Ok, so I will concede that while our actual survival was never in question the upheaval of a sudden schedule to conform to after 3 months of “free-styling it” can be a little rough on even the best of us.

Back to school is always a transition, and the calendar can become a to-do list nightmare, not to mention the very real reminder of the passing of time.  Navigating these waters can be tricky and today I want to offer some encouragement from Mary Ann Morgan.

When we moved to our little farm 15 years ago, I was a busy homeschool mom with three children under my wings.

My life was wonderfully hectic. Katie was twelve, Annie was ten, and Johnny was seven. I was happy as the nucleus of our home, with life swirling round and round about me.

Then, one by one, my birdies did what I had been teaching them to do all along.

They flew away. 

I felt lost, and not just a little. I could not find my bearings.

I was trying to find my place in this world again.

When we see calendars not so much as rows of boxes of things we have to do — but as boxes that we get to unwrap —  the present moment always becomes a gift.

The idea that I could continually unwrap gifts (that otherwise felt fleeting) just by writing them down and giving thanks for them was transformational for me.

I am grateful for:

glistening water from the garden hose,
summer lights hanging dreamily from a tree,
blue porches and red swings, ripe tomatoes on the sill, children snuggling chickens,
a butterfly warming her wings among Black-Eyed Susans,
fuzzy bumble bees satiated and sleepy,
summer puddles where heaven meets earth.

And on and on it goes.

I could feel my heart shifting from a sense of emptiness into a deep gratitude. The places I felt were barren were actually brimming with life.

It didn’t come overnight, but it did come with practice and the more I practiced the more I benefited.

I sometimes find myself held captive by grief and anxiety as I navigate the waters of these awkward transitions. Counting graces always helps me to find my way home into worship. Once I can get onto the path of worship, my feet will carry me into the arms of God

I may not always know my place in this world. Things are ever changing.

But in counting gifts I can always find my place in God.  

In His heart.

He alone holds me as He continues to enfold me in His love.

Enjoy your weekend! May your heart be filled with gratitude and the beauty in the everyday gifts as we roll on into this next school year.  May you find yourself enfolded in His love.

Summer Bucket List

bucket listSummer Bucket List: Watch The Sun Rise

If I haven’t crossed this off my seasonal list by now (and chances are I haven’t because, hello, it’s summer!) I can always count on football two-a-days to take care of it for me.  This morning, as I was driving home with the night sky in my rear view mirror and the sun peeking up ahead of me I was reminded of something that I wrote last summer just about the same time.  It’s core message has come to mind many times since.

It’s not Thursday but we’re still throwin’ it back.  Hopefully, the message will stick with you as well.

You’ll Thank Yourself In The Morning
originally published 8/14/14

packyourbagsYesterday was a good day.  I woke up singing the praises of the hours between 6-8 (yes, AM!) because of how productive they have been over the last two weeks.  Football two-a-days have had us rising at 5 am and on the road by 5:30 (my dear husband has been out of town for 7 of the 9 days leaving me the sole taxi driver.) But, they have also brought with them these magical hours of productivity.  (However, don’t ask me to be anything other than semi-comatose after 9 pm.)  Yesterday felt like a gift.  We had the opportunity to spend the afternoon surrounded by family at a double header between the Cleveland Indians and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Progressive Field in Cleveland.  We had “sweet” suite seats, the weather was custom-made for baseball, and we got to cheer on our neighbor in his first ever MLB start as a pitcher.  He has such a feel-good story that we even got our “suite” neighbors on the Andrew Chafin bandwagon, cheering for the away team at a home game!  At some point deep in the 3rd inning of the 1st game my 11 year old daughter looked at me and said, “When is the game going to start?” Oh dear child, we obviously have a lot to learn about baseball. I am not sure what she thought had been going on but we all shared a good laugh.  One of many for the afternoon.  This was our quintessential American summer day. However, with all of the poster-making, jumbo-tron dancing, hot dog eating excitement of yesterday afternoon, it wasn’t until we were on our way home (at 10:30 pm) that I realized I still had two pair of football pants that needed to be washed (spray the Shout, scrub the stains, wash, rinse, repeat if necessary) and more importantly dry by the wee hours of the morning.  Fun has a price.  So, while I waited on the washing machine to do it’s thing, I thought, “You should pack Ty’s lunch.  You will thank yourself in the morning when all you have to do is roll out of bed, grab a coffee, and head out the door.”  I also searched out socks (why does this always seem to be the one missing item?) and had his football bag otherwise packed and ready to go because I knew neither of us would be functional this morning.  And I was right.  And I did thank myself.  On my drive back home from the football field this morning, as the coffee began to work and my brain began to wake up I had a thought. I remembered something I had heard a very long time ago and thought it was a great reminder for all of us.

You have to live ready.

Tomorrow may be a good day or tomorrow may be a nightmare.  Will you be ready?  Is your faith something you are building and strengthening everyday?  Is your relationship with Jesus something you are nurturing?  Or, are these just things that get dusted off, possibly on Sunday, and otherwise left alone only to be unpacked In Case Of Emergency.  Are you waiting for “tomorrow” to explore this Jesus-thing a little bit deeper? If this is where you find yourself, please, wake up!

When the alarm goes off at 5am after too few hours of sleep, is your bag packed?  Do you have clean matching socks and a lunch or are you scrambling to pull it together? We have to live ready because we don’t know when the crisis alarm is going to go off.  We don’t get a notification in the mail that says, next month you will be diagnosed with a life-altering disease, please plan accordingly.  We don’t receive a call that says, please make sure you have appropriate clothing you will be attending a funeral next week. (Maybe yours?  I am sorry.  That is harsh but it is also reality.)  Ready or not, here it comes, with no warning.

We have to live ready!  We need to use and strengthen our “faith muscles” every day because if we wait until crisis strikes they will be sluggish and sleepy when we need them most. We will have to dust our faith off and hope that we remember how to work it.  It is so very easy to let our faith and relationship with Jesus rest in hibernation, only to be awakened in crisis.

This is a slippery slope, and I know because I have been there.  I grew up in a solid Christian home, was involved in church.  We were bringing our children up to love and fear the Lord.  I thought I got it.  Then God let me really have it! Oh, foolish proud heart.  I have realized that I had nothing without Him. I am nothing without Him.

The problem with crisis is that we don’t know when the alarm is going to go off.  When crisis strikes, your brain tends to go into default mode. So what is your default?  You want live ready?  Nurture your relationship with God.  If you don’t have one, start one!  If you don’t know how, ask me, I would love to help you figure this out.  Dig into His Word for nourishment, spend time in prayer, communicating with our Father.  Listen for His voice instead of just talking at Him. I don’t have all the answers.  There is not an Easy 5 Step Plan For Readiness but we can stumble and bumble through this together. There are some things you will never be ready for but with faith you can survive them with hope for a better day ahead.  The point is, don’t wait.

I can remember playing Parcheesi with my son and mom, 6 years ago at least.  In the spirit of competition there was a little smack-talk going on and my son looked at my mom and told her, “Pack your bags your going home!”  This my friends, is great advice, pack your bags.  Live ready.  You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Poems, Prayers, and Promises

kidsLast Friday night found me driving with a car of sleeping kids, caravaning north for a short weekend away.  It has been longer than I can remember since I have been putting midnight highway miles behind me. As Friday melted into Saturday I was taking a trip down memory lane.  Without anyone to protest my choice of music I had chosen John Denver in a moment of nostalgia.  The very music my dad would listen to as we headed away on summer adventures.  The very music I would have been squawking about having to listen to from the backseat once upon a time.  But it just seemed right and I could still sing every word and with those words and midnight miles, and I am sure sleep deprived delirium, there was a storm of crashing emotions.

The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long…
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile…
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do
So many things my mind has never known*

This summer is flying by in a blur of sports and laundry, camps and mowing, and stolen weekends away like the one we were headed on. And the changes? They are numerous, but the most recent is that we have a new driver in our house.  Parents who have been through this, why didn’t you warn those of us journeying behind you that the view from the passenger seat with a teenager driving is such a terrifying thing?!

This very weekend we were traveling with our kids friends in tow, leaving my husband and I staring at each other, saying, “Now what?” It’s just us, left in the dust on the sidewalk, as the kids walk on ahead, laughing and tumbling all over each other. We headed to the lake without the mountain of sand toys and shady pop-up beach tents. (They still made fun of me for all the bags I had packed although no one was complaining when they were eating the food!)   We haven’t had a vacation like this ever and it’s beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

We are also quickly hurtling towards a school year where elementary school is in the rear view mirror and we have begun discussions of what to do after high school.  The “what I want to be when I grow up” talk.  ARGH! But now it’s for real, not dreamy astronaut wishes and I think this talk may be one of the worst.

But there is still so much to do.  There is so much I want to be sure they know and bury in their hearts.  We are working so hard to pass on the legacy of faith and family that was gifted to us.  And that’s why, as I listen to John Denver, I just pray that what we’re teaching is sticking.  That although they may not always appear to be listening or watching or liking it, I pray that they are getting it.

I just want to gather my kids and all of their friends and keep them here for just a little bit longer.  I want to press pause on summer and spend more late nights laughing with them.  I want more afternoons on the lake without schedules to stick to.  I want more evenings of grabbing ice cream and walking behind them on the sidewalk. I have read the articles about raising kids and letting them go and they make me cry.  I have read the lists of things you should do and shouldn’t do, the debates on the best practices for discipline and they are all valid, all important.  I am not an expert (or even close as I confessed in “My kids are doing a really good job of raising themselves.”) and I am not going to impart advice other than to say, just love them.  Listen to them, share life with them and pray that in doing so one day they will look back knowing that it’s the little things that helped shape them into the people that they have become.

I continued to drive and ponder the words of John Denver, thinking about my parents and my grandparents, thankful for all that they gave and taught, for their influence and the gift of memories, in this place of the past and the future crashing around in my head…

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share…*

Here’s to enjoying what’s left of summer, dreaming of the future and taking some time to remember!

*Poems, Prayers, and Promises, John Denver