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Speak: Contemplation

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

I’ve been contemplating many things for quite some time and the more I keep it in, I feel I may implode.

Why have I held these things in rather than go with my usual mode of verbally processing my thoughts to whomever may be in the room or on the other end of the phone? To be fair, my husband would attest to me processing these with him over the years, and each time he reminds me, “Adrienne, THIS is the content of your book. Write it. Write it down. People need to hear.” I love him and need him to say this to me, especially since writing it down is part of the equation: In order NOT to implode I must write these things down and get on with living.

So, again, why have I shared these thoughts I ponder day in and day out with only a few?

Open confession: I’ve feared segments of Christendom. [Read more…]

Our Next Adventure

So, I’ve drafted a few versions of this. One is the detailed version that doesn’t leave out any specifics, emotions, or thorough history. Another is the elevator answer. And then there’s this one for sake of time and sanity and also so I stop procrastinating from the inevitable of purging and packing once again:

The Graveswolds are moving to Nashville this weekend!

Short answer: We don’t really know. We just know an undeniable door has been opened to us and we feel God leading us down that way for this new season. We’ve only been there twice before, and those trips for me, at least, were in May and June of this year. Nashville had been on my heart for about 10 years but I didn’t really know why…so, I just prayed for friends I knew there and for God’s love to be poured out there.

Anyway, we’ve been praying about what our family values as it relates to time, love, life, serving, and experiences. We knew we didn’t want to spend our lives in the car commuting kids to and fro because: life is short. And we really wanted to be involved in their schools and with their friends and their families. Our desire for a smaller radius of life for school, community, and service, and convenience to an airport for Jason were key. And accessibility to creativity and team collaboration was one of my big needs.

While we were in Nashville checking out the city the first week of June, friends encouraged us to apply at a wonderful school, K-12, which was a big leap for Jason and me since financially it wasn’t feasible. (***SOOOO many details leaving out for sake of time…) Then, after spending the rest of the month in Denver with family, they called to tell us they had spots for both kids and offered generous scholarships. Jason and I have been a bit verklempt ever since…humbled they would make room for our kids, so excited and grateful for the awesome experience available to them, and us as a family. So, we took that as a door flung open and are walking on through. We’ll rent an Airbnb for a few months while we get them rolling in their school routine and Jason and I will search the area for the right space for us to put down a few roots. I’m really excited because I’ve decided to relocate my non-profit down there, as well, so am looking forward to get back to 1/2 or 3/4 time work this fall.

 

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That’s the short version and the only one I have time to share at this moment! We are so excited and hope our journey and yours will continue to overlap in the future! Many thanks for the love and prayers and cheers and support over the last couple years while we wandered a bit.

I suppose I’ll need to brush up on my accent and , “Y’all!”

 

I’m the New HGTV Star

Okay, before you read further, I jest. I’m not the new HGTV star, but I have recently put on a new hat, a hard hat at that, and have kind of naturally slid into the role of General Contractor on a remodel. Blue prints are in my DNA and I think I might have a new itch…

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“Knock out that wall. Knock out that wall. And knock out that farging wall…” – name that movie?! First one to list the name of the movie in the comments, I’ll ship you a tape measure key chain.

Let me share more details…

So, as some of you know, we “ran away from home” what is now almost a year and a half ago. And by “ran away” I mean, we, the “Graveswolds” as we sometimes ridiculously refer to ourselves, decided that because Jason worked from home, and “home” is wherever the 4 of us are, it would be an awesome idea to sell most of our belongings, house included, and spend a season in “flexibility.” This time has included stays in Colorado, California, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, France, Hawaii, Australia, an overnight in Nebraska where I got to hear and meet the raw-thentic Glennon Doyle Melton, and an upcoming trip for me (the #loneviajera) for the first time ever to Nashville, TN, for some serious girlfriend time and a hunormous Bevy brainstorm with our new CEO (details on that later…). This doesn’t include all the trips Jason’s taken on his own for work, but it’s at least given us the opportunity as a family to tag along once in a while and be together.

Anyway, part of our time in SD has been to reconnect with old friends, apparently make great new ones, and hang out with Jason’s mom, who has been a widow now for 18 years, as she retires. Prior to her leaving for what will be most of this semester to be with one of Jason’s sisters and her family in a time of need, she invited me to meet her for coffee at Caribou, aka, my office.

She has been wanting to update some things in her home for several years, to make it less maintenance for when we all gather in the summer and as she travels more, but she worked full-time and has been on the go quite a bit as bonus grandma of the century, so hasn’t had time to do it. Having known me for 25 years now, and knowing I’m the daughter of a builder and LOVE remodeling and design, she asked me at the coffee shop if I’d go ahead and remodel her house while she was out of town. She told me she trusted me and to go for it!

WHAT KIND OF AWESOME MOTHER-IN-LAW DOES THAT?! 

MINE!

(NAH, nah, NAH, NAH, nah!) (Just joking…)

So, I called a local contractor in January to see if he had some time to do a few minor structural things…because, I knock out and rearrange walls in my head all the time when I walk into spaces. It must be in my genetic makeup…Anyway, we emailed back and forth, crunched some numbers, and he lined up a few sub-contractors for some of the jobs, but I told him I also had a few subs I had learned about in town and would be contacting them for references and price comparisons.

Can I just tell you, I’m KIND OF having a blast!!!!

I now know a great tile guy, an incredible taper, sheetrocker, painter, hard working contractors and carpenters and gas-line guys. As the daughter of a builder, I watched and observed the process over the years. Our dad would take us to his job sites once in a while and it would be fascinating to see a home, resort, neighborhood, or commercial property go from ground break to foundation to plumbing to lumber and electrical to sheetrock to finishes, etc, etc. I loved my dad’s big pale green drafting board and the rolls of old blue prints stacked in the corner. My sisters and I grew up sketching floor plans and flipping through Architectural Digest and appreciating the beautiful design and construction of landmarks, rather than necessarily paying attention to where or what we were visiting.

I loved, then, watching my mom walk in and choose finishes and design elements, then see all of it come together. Decorating and staging was one of my mom’s favorite jobs, so seeing a place my dad had built eventually transform into a home, either for us or for sale, was simply part of my upbringing. As I look back at memories of my childhood I can trace my lifeline according to which house we lived in, in which city or state, and by the decor. Much of it traveled with us, like my mom’s blue and white china, my antique sleigh bed, and the old hutch that was my parents first piece of furniture. But one reason this season of travel and uprooting was an easy idea for me was that, no matter where we lived and which things made it to the next house or not, my family was always there.

Anyway, I’m waxing nostalgic and what I meant for this post was to share a bit of show and tell of the process of what I’ve been up to over the last 2 months. The job should wrap up in the next month, fingers crossed, but this is kind of why I haven’t been faithful to my other love, writing, as of recent…

(*Disclaimer: I have moved around 30x and have become quite efficient at purging and packing up rooms, and, as a result, didn’t take pictures BEFORE, before, where the house looked all pretty the way my MIL usually has it decorated. I had already packed up breakables and artwork from the wall, but you can get the gist of it…)

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My MIL LOVES the ocean/water/sunlight like no other woman I’ve ever known, so the vision behind the transformation you will see is to bring in as much light space as possible. Watch the walls and ceiling progress…

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Life at Nana’s has been fun for these two. Living on a lake? Yes, please!

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See the cold air return on that wall to the left. Well, that’s the place I thought it would be perfect to smash through and make the new entrance to the hallway/bathroom/bedroom area, rather than through the kitchen where it was previously.

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A little tough to tell because I had emptied the fridge already and the doors are open, but there is a doorway to the right of the fridge, as well as a short wall behind it. My vision was to eliminate the soffits in the kitchen to create ceiling height/space. Also, the fireplace had a wood burning insert in it that hadn’t been used for almost 20 years, so the vision was to convert it to gas and modernize the brick facade.

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Graveswold family dog pile heap of exhaustion and the night we moved down the lake to a friend’s cabin.

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One of my favorite things on a job site! Evidence of sweat and hard work!

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I asked my MIL what her dream was for her space. Her DREAM, dream kind of included a whole new roof. BUT, instead we created light and height and space by cutting in a second skylight, removing soffits and that small wall behind the fridge, and opening up the space between kitchen and great room. (Prouty Construction, South Dakota)

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Jason was savvy selling even the cabinets to someone else in town who was able to use them. New to you!

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You can see on the far left of the photo where we created a new hallway.

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Where you see the two new sheets of drywall is where there was once the back of a closet and a doorway to the hall. Also, yep, under the ladder which was where the former apartment sized dishwasher was, we replaced sub-flooring.

Be sure to tune in again…there’s more progress to see!

Who is Invited to the Table?

A year ago when we sold our house and stuff and embarked on this journey as The Graveswolds, God put two words on my heart: GATHER and TABLE. I said, “Really, Lord!? You are teaching us about hospitality, but we don’t even have a house OR A TABLE?!”

And He said, “You don’t need those to experience hospitality. Wherever you go, gather around tables with friends and strangers and break bread. Share your hearts and listen to those gathered. Do this often. This is Kingdom Come. This is the work of peacemaking.”

I’m sorry I haven’t spoken up sooner, at least not in my writings or a more formal venue. I honestly thought my voice and heart didn’t matter on a scale other than loving others and practicing peacemaking in the day to day.

I’ve rethought that a bit…and my voice and heart matter big time, just as much as yours!

I’ve grappled with these feelings, and a deep down knowing, for likely my whole life. The last several years they have resurrected, and too many “coincidences” and gut feelings have “fallen into place.” When I was a kid growing up in Arizona, there were reminders everyday, but since life seemed peaceable, I wasn’t sure what to do with how I felt or the things I wondered. It just was what it was and life kept going…my life kept going, at least.

Specifically, these feelings resurfaced when I found myself in Auckland, New Zealand and Australia, last year on holiday, and again, just a few weeks ago. I walked the streets freely, my accent the only thing distinguishing me from the locals at first glance, and that, only if I used my voice. I sat stunned on a park bench one day, overlooking the bustle, watching the swells of people, diverse, colorful and living, thinking of tensions around the world and back home on American soil. And I can’t say it any other way as I thought,

“Holy shit! Some Europeans just went all over the whole freaking world and started ‘discovering’ other places to live, in spite of whoever lived there first…”

Not only that, they swung by Africa and other countries and continents to do a little “shopping” on their way there, for a “workforce” to make their dreams come true. What the what?! #$%^&*?

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A bumper sticker on the back of a car we saw while recently in Australia.

As a kid, celebrating Thanksgiving and learning about the earlier days of the “discovery of the New World” and the founding of the United States, my young heart wrestled with some key, un-ignorable logistics.

Wait…people were already here, so really, did Columbus ‘discover’ a New World?”

I remember a commercial with a Native American chief atop his beautiful horse, overlooking pollution, a tear streaming down his cheek, and my guts hurt. Every single day of high school, and then some, I drove across an Indian “Reservation,” past government-issued housing, to get from my custom home to classes and activities. I pondered, too, the very real possibility that maybe some of my German blood could have been traced to the brutally hateful side of things in the world wars, but hoped they had sheltered or helped, and seen the deception, instead of the devastating alternative. I wondered if any of my earlier Stateside relatives had befriended Natives or rallied for or against slavery in America’s history, or civil rights, which crowd they followed, or if they blazed trails of healing instead. I hoped distant relatives had loved well as much as it depended on them…

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Me, circa 1977, leaning against our house that was an old hunting lodge my parents remodeled, along the banks of the Maumee River in Ohio.

 

I am a vanilla white, mixed breed American girl, born and raised in the United States. From word of mouth, as well as DNA testing, my bloodline includes: German, French, Swiss, English, Irish, Scottish, early Egyptian Jew, and 2.67% caveman… (“23andme” is an interesting way to learn about genetics from a medical standpoint, as well as an historical one). These things don’t define me, but they are part of who I am today, no matter how far removed I am from them.

My family moved to Arizona in 1978 to be closer to relatives. Had my family personally removed the Natives from the Phoenix metro in order to move there? No. We didn’t. We simply moved into the neighborhood, just as we had on the riverbanks of Ohio where we found exquisite Native tools and arrowheads, and, as an adult, I’m aware of this now, mindful of this, conscious of the fragmented reality that my freedom to move about wherever I want, to vacation to the ends of the earth, to drive and fly here and there, have come at a cost.

I’m a peacemaker. Why were there battles in the first place? And if someone “won”, that means others lost, and I don’t really think we have “enemies” since our battle is not with flesh and blood, soooooo, what does that really entail? What happens to the “losers?” Is there a better way to do all this? Is anyone actually speaking to each other or are WE all just pulling weapons on one another, pointing fingers, erecting walls, or corralling people into segregated groups, heaping label after label after stereotypical label on each other?

One thing I know…we have hurt one another. WE. There is no “us” or “them” but WE. And WE belong to each other. WE are a family of humans who cannot choose the members. WE ARE FAMILY. But this God-breathed human family is hurting. We may not have family trees to point a finger at who the bad relatives were versus the good ones, but the human family has a common trunk in the Tree of Life and the breath of God, and somewhere in the Garden WE began distinguishing, deciding, and judging between each other rather than belonging to each other.

I’m from a mixed bag of a lot of history…none of us knows all the specifics on how our blood has been woven into this world’s pain. I know I’m not a racist, nor do I have ill will towards anyone, but the reality is, not knowing what to do about the broken system doesn’t bring healing if I don’t do anything at all. If I’m going to be completely honest with you and myself, I can hope and wish and pray all I want that my ancestors were trailblazers of peace, but here I am today, comfortable in society in 2015 while heartache abounds on every side, so there’s been a breakdown somewhere along the line.

It’s not a matter of pointing fingers…we all have logs in our own eyes. WE have ALL hurt someone at some point, just as WE have all been hurt. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I am sorry. And I forgive you. I’m responsible for my life and actions and how I see and treat others. Help me understand…will you please tell me your story?”

I think TODAY is as good a day as any to start trailblazing peace and love. It starts with US…you and me. WE must stop waiting on systems to clean up the messes of our ancestors, no matter the color of our skin or our dark histories. Our SOULS run deeper than systems. We each must take responsibility for loving others well. Our present state of being is not without context.

The quote at Hemingway's in Manly Bay, Australia, the night I met a friend for dinner.

The quote at Hemingway’s in Manly Bay, Australia, the night I met a friend for dinner.

Have you ever heard the statement, “Can’t we all just get along?” Some people don’t believe it’s possible, but WHAT IF we tried? “Getting along” doesn’t mean everyone is best friends or believes the same things or even shares all the same interests, but it does imply seeking the good of all people, as long as it depends on each of us. At a table, we are compelled to sit with others and look into another persons’ eyes, to really SEE them and HEAR them and seek to KNOW them.

In this beautiful, bustling, broken, and hectic world, I believe there’s been a breakdown in making peace over time. We are naive to believe ALL the Native Americans and ALL the Pilgrims sat around that first Thanksgiving table…or that just because the lunch counters didn’t have dividers anymore that all the white guys saddled up next to the black guys for biscuits and gravy…or that within our own families, certain relatives were ever even on the guest list. Perhaps mealtime got interrupted, was hurried, or became all about the food and not about who was gathered there to share stories and break bread?

I’m a simple girl…idealistic, but unabashedly hopeful. As long as it depends on me, God has given me a glimpse of my life’s work and it’s to live and breathe peacemaking, everyday. I don’t know all the details of how it will work or look, but Someone modeled Love for me many years ago and it looked a lot like gathering around tables, breaking bread, and sharing stories.

 

Maybe the basic act of breaking bread together again
is where everyday peacemaking must begin?”

What Imprisons You?

(*Warning, if you watch this video, you might cry. Here are the lyrics)

I’m wrecked by this video. Like, I’m choking tears back in this public space I’m calling my office today.

This song has been on repeat for more than a year now…along with the rest of the epic album, but I guess some days we are able to see, hear, or view something from a different perspective. Never once did I imagine this video to the words I’ve replayed…

So, any of you who have been here for a while know I’m a die-hard U2 fan, but I’m not a creeper…I don’t wear blue sunglasses or black leather from head to toe or know the names of every one of their family members, though I think Ali is the backbone of the whole operation…well, the God she loves…but, I will let you in on this: besides maybe the fact these are songs written and sung by a bunch of men, the songs of U2 are more often than not, the cries of my heart…it’s my own journey I picture when they sing. So many of their songs I sing to God, just He and I, face to face, no secrets, nothing hidden. Other days it’s them cheering me on, like to get on my boots, that I’m beautiful, how I’m always thinking about the end of the world, how the death of her was not the death of me, that my voice is meant to be heard, reminding me how the ache in my heart is so much of who I amhow I must free myself to be myself...

U2 puts melody to words I could only dream of expressing.

Before I came to “work” today, I was thinking about “The Test” of Jesus in the wilderness. I’ve read it dozens of times, but wanted to open it up a bit, through the lens of empathy, because it was there in the wild where Jesus was tempted by everything we would ever be tempted with. Honestly, I had to go back and see if it was a simultaneous fast/temptation. I had to confirm the timing of when Jesus was at His weakest, physically, and when Satan showed up to entice Him with really awesome things like sustenance, abusing God’s grace, and power over the earth’s kingdoms.

Part of me was hoping the Test happened during the last few days of the fast, like while He was prepping, but before He was totally ready…

In The Message the wording is, “Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights.”

But see, it didn’t. He prepared. Jesus’ eyes were open, even though His vessel was empty. The Spirit led Him into the wild for the Test…Jesus prepared for it because the Devil was ready to dish. He prepared for it, I assume, as an example to us of the day to day choices we’d be faced with one day…

The Devil is always ready to dish, whether we are prepared or in the midst of preparation or even when we aren’t ready for it. Jesus exposed his schemes: The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

Jesus follows this scary, fearful statement with TRUTH…life-giving truth, HOPEFUL truth, chain-cutting, unleashing, FREEING TRUTH,

I came so they can have real and eternal life,
more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Logistically, I’m not sure how Satan and Jesus and Holy Spirit scheduled this meeting, other than looking back to a book most people avoid reading, because they think if they read it, it’ll happen to them, too. You know, because avoiding hard and painful things make them magically disappear…but in the book of Job, God and Satan have a couple of exchanges where the life of Job is center stage. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but I imagine it could have been arranged this same way…

I don’t know how God works. He made me, not the other way around, but I do know this: I am tempted on a daily basis, whether blatantly or, what I suspect, subtly. Gone unchecked or unconfessed, I think our temptations slowly build momentum. We don’t necessarily have face to face encounters with the Devil himself out in a dry arid desert to be enticed with things that make us feel good. There’s plenty of battle that goes on in our minds and hearts…but the thing is, there they aren’t real yet…hence, our need to expose it to God, or confess it to another before it becomes more than it is.

In the U2 video short above, Woody Harrelson’s character wasn’t born a criminal. And it doesn’t even speak of what line he crossed, what subtleties added up to the tipping point that landed him in prison where the hope of repentance and time to think would bring healing…or at least, eventual release.

The scene in the car where he and his daughter sit in silence, the tension in his face from the familiarity of the deafening silence of however long his sentence was and wanting to breathe and sing and shout out the window for the world to know, “I AM FREE AND THIS IS MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER AND I LOVE HER AND IF YOU JUDGE ME BY THE CHOICES I MADE, YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO SEE THIS SWEET REDEMPTION, BUT SHE’S SITTING NEXT TO ME. AND IT’S THAT PART OF ME THAT NEVER LIVED BEHIND BARS…I’M NO LONGER IMPRISONED.”

Over the course of many years, throughout different seasons, I have been imprisoned by the compounding effects of fear, insecurity, laziness, anxiety, discontent, comparison, what if?, longing, wandering, complete disregard, apathy, pathlessness…the list goes on for me, at least.

But, the sooner I recognize the subtleties, unpack them, bring them to light, remember that between God and I, there is no such thing as a secret, confess to loving people that I don’t have my act together, the less of a grip the temptation has on me.

By God’s original design, we were meant to live free…what subtleties have crept in to imprison you?

Series: Practicing His Presence – Guest Post with my daughter

Today as my daughter and I spent time in homeschool praying, reading, and listening to God, He told her something pretty neat. You see, every. single. morning. she says, “What are we doing today?” And every. single. day. she says, “What are we doing tomorrow?”

She wants to know. She wants to know specifics. She loves writing things down and having things planned, though she is mostly flexible when plans change or shift.

Thing is, I have no idea. And I HATE to disappoint her, telling her one thing and then it not happening. Sometimes I have a clue as to what’s on the agenda, like the staples of meals and homeschool and bedtime, but in this time of complete uproot and total transition, to give my children concrete answers about concrete plans would convey I know anything about anything…and I’m not a fan of pretending OR lying.

In the past what has worked is to simply deliver life in a series of surprises (even when I had planned it all along…), like one morning when Emily was two months shy of 4 years old and I was pregnant with Noah, she woke up to a packed suitcase and a plane ticket to accompany her dad to California for a long weekend while my best friend, Molly, came into town from Kansas City, and she and I remodeled Em’s room into a “big sister” room. Not only didn’t I tell Emily about the trip ahead of time to save myself from millions of questions about when she was leaving, but she didn’t know she would have a surprise when she got home, either.

Win, win!

She had a weekend away with her father, one who loves her and whom she loves, and that was enough for her. At least when she was 4…lots of life has happened in the 8 years since then, and it’s NOT A FAULT of hers to want to know. Heck, I’d love to tell her and on some days I’m able to lay out a general plan, but with our impending season ahead, I can only tell her a month at a time, even knowing the sheer audacity of stating plans more than a day in advance is foolishness to God.

So we wait. And we trust.

And this is what He shared with her this morning during our 5 minutes of quiet listening:

Em said, “He told me that I don’t have to worry about today or tomorrow or try to plan the future and know every detail, but to let Him take care of it and let me enjoy what He has planned.”

And then she read this in Proverbs 27:1, since it’s the 27th day of the month: “Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.”

This picture was from when the trip was over, hence the sad face...

This picture was from when the trip was over, hence the sad face…

Upon entering her new "extreme room makeover" digs...

Upon entering her new “extreme room makeover” digs…

One happy kid, who never even knew it was coming!

One happy kid, who never even knew it was coming!

None of us may know the first thing about tomorrow, but we can know the One who has tomorrow in His hands.

Lessons in Perspective

As I’ve been packing for this year of jubilee, a year of uncertainty and excitement and purging and dreaming, it has been a journey of memories, going through every drawer and cupboard, finding pictures and notes and mementos of a whole lot of life lived.

And even in the living and losing, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Do I want my son back? Yeah. It’d be awesome to see Emily have a brother closer in age and to see Ryan want to be wherever Noah is…but I wouldn’t change our history, because it has molded who we are presently and each of us reflects Noah’s impact on our lives. We are all stronger for knowing and loving him…

I have one of those drawers in my dresser with treasures and keepsakes, hankies and heirlooms, pictures, relics from travels, each piece with a story of its own. As I was going through it the other night, making no headway on actually purging or packing, I came across some notes I had jotted down years ago for a speaking engagement. I wanted to share them here as they are handwritten and may get lost in the move. I also wanted to share these notes because re-reading them tonight it somehow felt fresh, as if someone else needed to read it. I’m not going to take the time right now to give a play by play of what was going thru my head and heart when I wrote this, but if any of it resonates with you and you’d like to open a discussion, I’d totally be down with that…

“Peace, Perspective, and Perseverance”

Moses’ Mom’s level of trust at the river’s edge was, “Did I really just do that?!” while his sister was thinking, “Did you just stick my baby brother in the river?!”

  • I knew Noah was God’s kid from the beginning – he was dedicated to God in the womb.
  • Not until we went to the hospital did I begin to grasp just a glimpse of the “bigger picture.”
  • At first I thought that meant a miraculous healing, one that would lead many to Christ’s unconditional love – that’s when I tried to cut a deal with God.
  • As things progressed I thought it would be God raising Noah from the dead in order to reach people for Him.
  • It never crossed my mind that in Noah’s death people’s lives could be reached because his life was so short in human terms. A tragedy.
    • I thought I had it all figured out how it would look…God either heals Noah or raises him from the dead, then for the rest of his days, we would spread God’s love to the ends of the earth.
  • It made total sense to me and God got all the glory either way…
  • When it was clear in the natural what God was requiring of us, I remember thinking I would still have faith in God and trust Him but I most certainly wouldn’t believe in/or pray for healing and miracles…
    • That’s when my heart changed…
    • I realized I had boxed God in…
    • I surrendered to God’s bigger picture:
      • That JUST MAYBE He knew what He was doing since He was the:
        • Creator of the Universe
        • Put every star into place
        • Made man out of dust
        • Knew the hairs on the heads of over 6.5 billion people, etc
      • That JUST MAYBE He saw physical death in a WAY different way than we did…(like the Garden of Eden where they were able to experience His physical presence…)
    • So, what then? Could I truly trust God with Noah in the total sense of the word?
      • If I didn’t, I couldn’t trust Him with smaller things…
    • I realized the healing or miracle wasn’t that the story turned out the way I wanted but that my limited heart could be miraculously healed enough to TRUST God and that He is true, no matter what I see or feel…
  1. PEACE > TRUST GOD > BEYOND UNDERSTANDING IN THE MIDST OF AND DESPITE CIRCUMSTANCES
  2. PERSPECTIVE > BIGGER PICTURE > WHERE WERE WE CREATED TO BE? > FOR WHERE AM I LIVING?
  3. PERSEVERANCE > PURPOSEFUL/INTENTIONAL LIVING, A PURSUIT OF WALKING IN THE SPIRIT > ABUNDANT LIFE HERE DOES MATTER FOR THERE!
  • The other day I told Em I loved her as big as the Universe. She said, “Mom, do you love me more than you love God?” I said, “No, sweetie, I don’t. I love you as BIG as I can love you on Earth, which is really, really huge, but I love God more than you or Daddy or Noah, and it’s in loving and trusting Him that I have the ability to love you exactly how you were designed to be loved…” And after saying this to her, I felt a little like Moses’ Mom probably did as she knelt next to that raging river…

(*I have a ton of journals and notes and thoughts running through my head and heart, things I want to share here, but presently don’t have tons of time to scribe. We close on our house in 3 weeks and then will start traveling right away. I want to share more on that, but for now, I just felt like I was supposed to share this…)

In the words of my Mom who said this every. single. night of my life:

“Goodnight. God Bless You. I love you.”

10 Things I Love About Our House

Our realtor asked me to write a list stating 10 things I love about our house, neighborhood, and community in order to share with potential buyers. I thought I’d share it here because for me it’s so much more than a way to sell our house. Even though my heart is longing and ready for adventure, ready to be free, excited about not keeping or cleaning a house for several months, writing a list reminds me why we have homes and live in community with others in the first place.

1.  Our kitchen/great room area is my favorite place in our home because it’s where laughter and heart to heart conversations and dreams and tears have all been shared, usually over tea or a meal, maybe at the counter, the table, or over on the couch, or even near the fireplace. So much happens in the heart of our home and this space is definitely the heart.

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The Kitchen, the heart of our home, the place where I sip tea, make soup, and greet each family member as they wander down in the mornings. Em and I made that painting with the dark orange doilies in the background, those chairs around the table are from Jason’s grandparents centurion farm, that’s Danielle Walker’s “Against All Grain” always open on the counter, and those are ginormous zucchini’s from our garden.

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The Great Room, curtains sewn with my Mom, leather ottoman found by parents at a garage sale, big “G” $1 at a garage sale, painted blue vases part of one of my spray-painting streaks…

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Front entry way, free gigantor mirror from friends, matching lamps on sale because my Mom always taught me that EVERYTHING goes on sale, ceramic balls from one of Jason’s trips in South America, buffet console just makes me happy…

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Antique sleigh bed, which was mine as a kid, is from lat 1700’s, leaves lend a feeling of snuggling under a tree reading endless stories, and the beautiful quilt was hand made by my friend, Kim Arnold, who included “xoxox” just for Ryan, that little lover you see perusing dinosaurs on the flood….

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Washer and dryer NOT included in sale of home! (Well, at least these aren’t…but the real ones in the laundry room are included!)

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I love this book nook at the top of our stairs. The Nativity scene was carved by my brother-in-law. The shelf I picked up at A Paris Street Market one weekend years ago when my girlfriends and I would meet at the crack of dawn with cash and coffee in hand ready for deals, and the framed pastel portrait is of me circa 1975 when we lived outside San Francisco and had gone into the city for Dim Sum and cable car rides.

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Ahhhhh! This is the beautiful and beloved Honeycrisp Apple tree in our backyard and this year the birds didn’t get to them first! We are so grateful to enjoy the harvest before we pass the baton to the next homeowners. They are the BEST!

2.  I love the decor in our home, because as I look around almost every piece has a story behind it, especially as it relates to someone special in my life, like a friend or family member who helped me paint something or found me a great piece at a garage sale or helped me sew or design a nook or corner. It brings my heart joy to know many hearts and minds have worked together to make this space comfortable and beautiful.

3.  The backyard of our home has been a haven for us.  It has been the scene for many games of tag, a ton of birthday parties and other family gatherings, the site for several seasons’ worth of zucchini, lettuce, and kale, quiet mornings with hot tea and reading, a place to talk over the fence to neighbors now friends, as well as the best campsite in town where stargazing and time with friends lasts into the late night. I love our backyard! It’s been a labor of a lot of love, blood, sweat, and even tears.

4.  This neighborhood has been good to us. We were among some of the first families in the neighborhood so it has been neat to see it fill in and meet new people in the process. We all have our stories and it’s been an honor learning some of the stories of the people right around us who call this place “home”, too.

5.  Two specific features I appreciate about our neighborhood are the quiet, low-trafficked streets and the park just 10 houses down on the left. My kids have grown up at the neighborhood park, taking their friends there, us talking to the other parents as the kids play and wear themselves out. It’s a great draw in building the community of our neighborhood.

6.  We live in The Meadows, a great master-planned community with ample sidewalks, parks, open space, hiking and biking trails, and HOA’s which keep the up the pride of residency. We are so excited to see what the town of Castle Rock has in store for the town center of The Meadows as it will really add to the “small town” feel west of the highway. And, we are only 10 mins from one of the most beautiful hikes at Dawson’s Butte, my new favorite serene spot. The views are spectacular wherever you go in The Meadows.

7.  Back to our house…I just have to say, the basement is another favorite spot because it’s always been a place for guests, short and long-term, as well as the setting for my creative heart. It’s where I’ve sewn for hours on end, designed and repurposed vintage jewelry, and spent time snuggled with my kids doing homeschool. It’s also been the place where I meet the yoga mat in the quiet of the morning or walk or run off stress in the workout room.

8.  We used to live in Denver, and though it was fun and close to many things, I’m so grateful we made the move to Castle Rock. This place has a small hometown feel without the hustle and bustle of a big city, but is close to downtown Denver or Colorado Springs for major events. I rarely leave here, though, because it has plenty to offer, including our local coffee shops, Lost Coffee and Crowfoot Valley, the best antiques and window shopping around at The Barn, as well as our fantastic local date night hot spot, Uniscali where my husband and I pretend we are in Spain having tapas for happy hour, or where I meet my sister and girlfriends for a glass of wine once in a while.

9.  Having been here 7 years, it’s been fun to meet local shop owners and business people, exchanging names and stories, feeling more like a part of a small supportive community than just a number in a big city. This has also helped us develop trusting relationships in order to know where to have our car serviced or where to get natural health care or where to get our hair cut. It’s also fun to have the folks at Sprouts or Natural Grocers greet me and my kids when we run in for the 5th time in a week because I’ve forgotten something.

10.  Wow! 7 years seems like a long time and we’ve built many memories in this home! We hope and pray this home will be a blessing to the next family who lives in it, making their own memories, celebrating milestones together, and inviting others in, as we have over the years, to break bread and further build the community.

On Weddings and Funerals

In preparation for my Mom’s memorial (funeral) service, I wrote out more than a dozen pieces, trying to figure out just what to say. Once it was determined I was the one who would be sharing the message, I prayed and pondered how to sum up 42 years of MY memories with a woman who lived 26 full years of life even before my arrival to this earth. My Dad said he wanted me to share but with one stipulation: I couldn’t say “pissed off”. I asked, Where have you EVER heard me say that?” He informed me that it wasn’t only my Mom who had listened to my radio show several years ago, but he did, too, and he heard me say it. I assured him, “Dad, don’t worry…I won’t say ‘pissed off’ at Mom’s service…but I’ll probably drop an ‘eff’ bomb…” (*if you could only be a fly on the wall of our family’s inappropriate sense of humor…at all the inappropriate times…hey, laughter is good medicine.)

Except I didn’t drop an ‘eff bomb. The problem is, whenever I speak publicly, no matter how many hours of preparation and rehearsal are poured into it, I still get nervous out of the gates, then warm up after a few minutes. And my Dad said I couldn’t cuss, and it wasn’t a wedding where I had already had half a glass of wine to relax, so my usual alternative is a joke to lighten people up… (*Hello!? remember WHY people have asked me to speak publicly over the past 8 years…because my son died…and people always think it’s going to be sad, even though it’s not…I need a new platform…just sayin’…) But it was my Mom’s memorial service, so without cussing, wine, or a good joke, I awkwardly fumbled and barely scratched the surface to only ONE of the angles I wanted to go in sharing about my Mom and her impact on my life.

Then, of freaking course, I left my computer in the other room with all of my notes and ended up winging it…but whatever.

After I worked out my nervous kinks, I was so glad to be sharing at my Mom’s service. I’m very comfortable not only sharing my heart candidly but sharing about death. I think funerals, (and talking about dying and death) are kind of important, I mean, especially since everybody dies and all. Yet we avoid the topic like the plague, as if that keeps it at bay, and don’t even plan services until a person has died.

You see, I don’t think weddings and funerals are really all that different. In both cases we celebrate a sacred love shared between two key players. Weddings are a blissful time where there is all the time in the world, seemingly. Funeral are the bittersweet reminder that God holds the number of our days in His hands…life is short this side of eternity, living with intention is key, and that even though those of us left over will be sad, it’s momentary, and the gathering of people to celebrate the one who has died is truly an opportunity to share joy! And, baby, my Mom loved a good party, especially the pretty decorations! Music, stories, food, and tears are present in both scenarios…and if it’s a funeral, there is most certainly dancing going on, too, though we just aren’t able to see it.

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...a friend made the "It is well with my soul" placard for my birthday earlier this year...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…a friend made the “It is well with my soul” placard for my birthday earlier this year…

Anyway…I can honestly say, I’m not sad for her. I don’t grieve without hope. There is a vast difference between grief and despair. Grief is a true emotion meant to be expressed over great loss, and for me, the loss of my Mom’s physical presence in my life is great because I loved her dearly and was loved unconditionally by her, but I’m not sitting in the corner of my closet, hopeless and in despair. I know it’ll hit me in the thighs in a few weeks when things “wind down”, I realize I can’t carb-load anymore, and the reality hits that she’s not on a trip with my Dad, out of cellular range, so that’s why she isn’t calling…believe me, I’ve already wanted to ask her something specific and the answer is gone, with her.

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The little Dutch house is part of a canister set she put flour, sugar, tea, and coffee in over the years.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn't pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn’t pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

God gave me a vision of my Mom while she was alive but on her last full day of life, and this as I sat behind her ailing body, rubbing her back as she tried to breathe…she was sitting on the edge of something and had her head turned, looking back at me over her shoulder. She was alive and young and vibrant and her smile was one so wide and beaming, I had never seen one quite like it captured in any photograph. Her eyes were bright and so alive and the look on her face was that of anticipation and excitement for what was before her, more glory than she had ever known…and then she danced with all of her might, and I could no longer see her…

Because apparently dancing takes place not only at weddings, but also in the midst of sacred encounters…

Why Wait?

“I’ll run a marathon when I lose 50 lbs.”

“We’ll travel when the kids are out of the house.”

“I’ll go back to school once my kids are through school.”

“When I’m feeling better I’ll do such and such…”

“When I have more money I’ll be able to do (whatever ‘it’ is…)”

You and I could sit for hours and write out lists of passions we have not only deep in our hearts but likely kept just at bay or beneath the surface, all things which are powerful, necessary, even how we are wired, yet things we have told ourselves there is “time” to “one day” accomplish such things.

Why wait?

Unless God Almighty has specifically asked us to “wait” on the timing of something, if the waiting is for “so many reasons” or because we are afraid, then the waiting is self-inflicted, and not “holy” at all.

And I’m not sure what I’ve been waiting for. Oh, wait, yes I do. I’ve tied into the lies that I need anyone’s permission to do or say or act on anything the Lord puts on my heart. And this “waiting” has been disobedience.

I’ve waited for bloggers to “network” to believe  I had worth as a blogger. I’ve waited for groups to ask me to come speak to believe I have worth as a speaker. I’ve even waited to write a book to believe I have worth as a writer.

And by “worth”, all of the above things imply the granting of worth from others over me. Have you ever done that? Have you ever waited for the permission of another to believe your worth? I have, though I do not do it in all things. Yet, I have done it and there is no time or circumstance like the present to give me the swift KICK I need to step out into deep waters and walk a life of complete faith and trust that it’s only God’s worthiness I seek.

God has been telling me for years…YEARS…to SPEAK. I have boxed in what I’ve believed that to look like and therefore have waited for the permission of “man” to get going…Sure I’ve used this blog at times to share, but I’m talking SPEAK, like sharing everything He has ever put on my heart with whomever is hungry to listen. My Mom’s current tenacity to preach in spite of her circumstances has stirred up in me a desire to be obedient, as well. Obedient to the tug at my heart and the words He has shared loudly in my head.

And not to care what people think about me, but to just live and share and love the best I know how.

So, that’s just what I’ll be doing. And whatever it is The Lord has put upon your heart to do, don’t look around and throw out declarations that you’ll do it once such and such is completed. If He is asking you to do something, He will provide the time and space and way for you to make it happen.

My friend posted this on her Twitter the other day and I’ll leave you with it: “I’m not a product of my circumstances. I’m a product of my decisions.”

What are you waiting for? There really is no time like the present! GO FOR IT! With God on your side, there is nothing you CAN’T do!

*Below are some study notes for some “Bedside with Bebe” sessions she was unable to share verbally. One is about the Holy Spirit, and another the Deep Waters of the Holy Spirit. Our Mom sent them to me last week as attachments and asked me to make them public. They are meaty! I pray they will bless your heart and draw you closer to the Heart of God: