Friday, May 31, 2013


Linking up today with Lisa-Jo over at Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompts is imagine.

The afternoon was cool and cloudy, not the weather I'd hoped for this May weekend we'd headed to the beach for a getaway and to celebrate my birthday. As we strolled along the promenade (which sounds much grander than it is), we stumbled across a bench with a Happy Birthday banner strung across the back, a flurry of bright colors popping through the day's grey.

My first thought was that a little girl was having a birthday at the beach and perhaps this was to mark the meeting place for her friends or maybe it was a stop on a scavenger hunt. Then we pretended it was just for me and snapped a photo.

The next day, we rode our bikes along the promenade and as we meandered along, I was reading the backs of some of the dedication plaques on the back. One of the plaques caught my attention because it was in memory of "Mustang" Sally B. As a Mustang convertible loving duo, we laughed and began to imagine who Mustang Sally was. Then I saw her life dates ... and her birthday was the day before. The day we saw the birthday bench. The birthday banner was nowhere to be seen this day, but I thought we had once again found the birthday bench.

Who was Mustang Sally? How much fun did she have at the beach? How much was she loved? So loved that someone took the time to commemorate the 98th anniversary of her birthday with a banner on a bench at a beach?

I had imagined a little girl's birthday celebration or a leftover banner someone just hung on a bench just for fun. I hadn't imagined the love of a husband, child or friend celebrating a life that wrote nearly a century of stories.

Who were you, Mustang Sally? I've been imagining your story ever since I saw your banner.

Note: Upon closer examination of the photo, it turns out that the birthday bench didn't belong to Mustang Sally after all. But it made me begin to imagine and wonder about the stories and lives of the ones whose names were on the bench plaques. So, thank you, birthday banner hangers, for providing some color on a dreary day and for sparking some imagination in this overwhelmed mind.

Friday, May 24, 2013


It's time for Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is view.

The view I love the most is my front porch looking in.
(from My Front Porch Looking In by Lonestar)

It really is. As much as I love to travel, I truly am a homebody. I work from home (mostly), which suits me well. When we moved into this house almost five years ago, we lived in a construction zone for nearly a year as we basically gutted the entire first floor (i.e., the main living area of our ranch house), so while the projects will never cease, I am grateful to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

But it's not the structure or the wood-burning fireplace or the beautiful kitchen that create the best part of the view; it's the ones I love. Looking in from my front porch, I see:
  • My husband who makes me laugh, works beside me, is my partner in crazy capers, and provides a safe place for me to land. Every time.
  • Our two four-legged loveys who keep me company during the day, provide joy (and challenge!) on a daily basis and never let me forget that sometimes it's important to just stop and show a little love.
  • Girlfriends who come to share their lives and study the Bible together.
  • Grown kids coming for dinner and a mad game of Royal Crowns.
  • Relatives gathered around for Thanksgiving or birthdays or just because.
  • Friends who come for dinner, stop by on a bike ride or come to keep our (almost) annual gumbo-making tradition.
The next time I'm feeling the need to take a deep breath and regain perspective, I think I'll head to my front porch and take a good look in.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Linking up today with Lisa-Jo and Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is song.

Songs can evoke such powerful memories, can't they?

"So Noah, he built him, he built him an arky, arky": Singing this with my mother at a mother-daughter banquet dressed in identical dresses (mortified on various accounts)

"I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away": The worship team sang a particularly peppy version of this one morning and a friend had the same comment as I did: I want them to sing this at my memorial service.

"I love rock and roll, put another dime in the juke box, baby": Secretly listening to the disallowed Top 10 at 10 on Q107 under the covers with the volume as low as it could go. A wanna-be Joan Jett.

"My brown-eyed girl, you my brown eyed girl": Forever when I hear this Van Morrison song, I will raise a glass to Pam, the brown-eyed girl, and remember how her favorite band played this live at her memorial service. PRICELESS.

"I had an El Camino and it got stuck": A completely fictitious song that has no other words, but cracked us up every time a friend's El Camino ... got stuck.

"How Great Thou Art": My childhood pastor closed every service having someone sing this. At the time, I thought it was repetitious. Now, I truly think "How Great Thou Art."

"Ring the bells, oh, ring the bells": The pastor's wife singing this in her vibrating voice every.single.Christmas.

"Friends are friends forever ...": Lands me right back in junior high every time. Thank you, Michael W. Smith.

"How beautiful the hands that served": A dear friend sang this Twila Paris song at our wedding while we took communion.

Pachabel's Canon in D: A classic favorite that our organist couldn't (wouldn't?) play for our wedding.

What song brings back memories for you?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two Years

I woke up this morning at about the same time the phone call came two years ago. "She's gone." How could it possibly be two years since we said good-bye and heaven said hello?

So much life has been lived here in the last two years. Life I wish she had shared with me, with us. Moments and months when I absolutely needed her to have my back, cheer me on, walk beside me. Joyful times when I felt like a piece of me was missing because she wasn't there to dance beside me. Words and events that triggered a memory that only she and I could truly appreciate together. Songs that made me think of life lived together, in good times and bad.

For the past week, I haven't been thinking about this day, the anniversary of her passing. I've been thinking about May 15, 2011, two years ago yesterday, which for me was an amazingly difficult yet beautiful day. The day I said good-bye. And I am going to write about that day, I must write about that day. For me, for M, for God's glory because without His undeniable presence that day, none of us could have taken one more step, doing what we needed to do to love one another well.

When I woke up this morning, realizing the date and the time, I immediately started thanking God for her life, for her friendship, for how she let her light shine until her very last breath. If I focus on being thankful, joy starts to crowd out the pain in my heart.

She was and continues to be an inspiration to me. When the news came that the cancer was back, she picked "This Little Light of Mine" by Addison Road as her theme song. I was so proud of how she lived each moment of those last months letting her light shine to everyone around her. She truly believed:

One day there will be no more pain
And we will finally see Jesus' face
So until then, I'm gonna try
To brave the dark and let my little light shine.

My dear friend, you did brave the dark and you did shine your light. The reflections are still burning bright. I thank God for you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Thanks

Mother's Day has always been a bit of a challenge for me. My mother and I don't have a gushy, sentimental relationship, so standing before an array of hundreds of cards that never said quite the right thing always seemed a pressure-filled pursuit leading nowhere. As a single young woman, I often felt isolated as mothers were recognized during the church service. As a newly married stepmom, I felt alone as the "real" mothers received accolades and praise.

But I've come to see Mother's Day with a renewed perspective. Perhaps I've matured or maybe now there's a more universal recognition for the role many different women play in our lives. Either way, I am grateful for all the women who have poured themselves into my life and the lives of those I love. To a particularly special few individuals:

My mom - Our relationship has not always been easy, but I am grateful that we have held on and been given the chance to deepen and renew our relationship. Thank you for the sacrifices you made, for the rules you established and the example you set.

My mother-in-law - Thank you for raising your son to become the man I married. Your influence was foundational to who he would become and I thank you. I am grateful you welcomed me to your family with open arms and that you love and encourage me always.

My husband - Thank you for trusting me to be part of your children's lives. You are my best friend and greatest encourager.

To L, N and J - It's a journey, isn't it? I am grateful that God has given me the privilege to be in your lives. Thank you for your grace for these last 15 years as we worked together to figure it out. I look forward to the next steps on our journey together. I am always on your team - guaranteed.

To R and J - God has added you to our family in the past year and I am thankful for your lives, for how you love and encourage your spouses, for who you are and all that is yet to be.

To M - You and I are not where we ought to be and that breaks my heart. But God is faithful and I trust him to repair what is broken. I shed tears for you in church this morning because I can only imagine how difficult this day must be for you. Please know that you are loved, always.

To my sisters-in-law - Thank you for working hard to raise great children. I am thankful for all you do for your families.

To my niece - What joy to see you embrace motherhood and so fully delight in your angel. I am proud of you.

To my friends - Thank you for being there for me in a million different ways. Whether we've been friends for 25 years or two, words are inadequate to convey how blessed I am that you walk the road of life beside me.

For each of you, I wish for beauty and joy, today and always.

Mother's Day

Friday, May 10, 2013


Linking up today with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is comfort.

It was the second time in nine months that we had gathered in the medical center's chapel. Once again, we were joining hearts, hands and voices on behalf of a little guy in the NICU. The Spirit of God was palpable in the room that night. Scripture was quoted from the heart and read from the pages of our Bibles; prayers of praise, thanksgiving and intercession were offered; songs of praise and worship were spontaneously interspersed in between the spoken word. We stood together and raised our hands, beseeching God for His hand, comfort, wisdom and healing. We had church that rainy evening for 90 minutes or more, coming together as a family of believers. We had witnessed God's providence in one little life and we were trusting Him for healing once again.

The first time we were in that chapel as a church family, it was one of our own we were surrounding in prayer. J had arrived three months early and so much was unknown that summer evening when we gathered. Mama was resting upstairs, J was in the NICU and his daddy was with us in the chapel. This time, we were with a family who live 90 minutes away, but had found our church and made it their own over the past several months as A has been in the NICU. Few of us know the family well, but all of us knew that God had brought them to us and us to them for this season.

We are a tiny church, so the likelihood of two babies with critical health needs in our congregation within a year are small, despite living within the shadow of a major medical center. But God moves in mysterious ways and teaches us as only He can. I know that our worship and prayer that Sunday evening brought comfort to A's parents, but it also brought comfort to the rest of us gathered together, comfort and joy knowing that God is in control and is the author and finisher of our faith.

Note: A Five Minute Friday entry on the stories of J and A is wholly inadequate to express God's mighty work their lives, the lives of their families and the lives of those of us who are privileged to be part of their stories. The times of prayer and worship that we have had on behalf of these little ones have been instrumental in the spiritual lives of individuals in our church and in our congregation as a whole. It's a beautiful thing.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Linking up with Lisa-Jo at Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is brave.

I don't think of myself as a brave person. Oh, I'm no coward. I just prefer to take the path I'm fairly confident about versus jumping courageously into the unknown. Calculated risk is how I prefer to think of it. (The primary exception to that would be becoming stepmom to three children while they were in/around the crazy middle school years. I don't know if I'd call that brave or not, but God has been faithful in writing that story despite my overestimated confidence!)

It's much easier for me to think of bravery in the lives of those around me. Like the young woman whose first plane ride will be a 20-hour trip to Africa on a missions trip this summer. Or the sister-friend staring down an initial cancer diagnosis and then courageously fighting recurrence and bravely surrendering her life repeatedly to God each step of the way.

And my mom. Like me, I'm not sure you characterize my mom as being brave, but I think she is. She was primarily a stay-at-home mom for our growing-up years and when I went to college, she decided to go back to pursue a nursing degree. She had only one or two college classes completed and those were from decades earlier. At the local community college, she found herself in the same classrooms as the classmates I graduated with, young people she had overseen through the years when she would serve as a substitute teacher. Earning a nursing degree is not for the faint of heart and it takes bravery, courage and determination to start down that path when you're 48 years old.

I also think my mom is brave because she left her life in another state and moved to a retirement community in the state where one of my brothers and I live. She didn't need to move - she's very active and in excellent health, but she made the move so that if something did happen, she'd be closer to family and she'd be the one making the choice of where to live, saving my brothers and I the need to make that decision on her behalf. She wanted to become part of a new community while she could still be active, make new friends and enjoy new discoveries. It took a number of years and multiple visits to various retirement communities, but when she was ready, she sold her house, left her work, her friends and her quilting group, and made the move.

I call that brave - to leave the life you know to reestablish yourself in a new community in your early 70s. I also call it brave because she made the choice not to "age in place" but to make proactive choices about her future while she was fully capable of making them. She saw it as an opportunity, not as a threat to her independence and well-being, something I know is a struggle for many (and admittedly, may be a struggle for me when that day comes!). And her bravery has resulted in a thriving, active life. I don't know that I've ever seen her as happy as she is.

So here's to my mom and to all the brave women in my life. Women who are brave and faithful in the small, everyday things, and women who are brave and obedient enough to take a leap into the great unknown!