Saturday, October 11, 2014

joy of the lord


This past year has been one of
great change,
great growth,
great sorrow,
and great joy.
But most of all 
great healing,
and rebuilding.

It has been an absolute surrender of all.
I've likened it to me being moved by remote control.
With God up there holding the remote.
Infinite trust and a child-like faith.
And a backwards free-fall into his arms.
Because I know he never fails, and is always faithful.
And he just keeps holding me through it all.


Before this experience in a lot of circumstances I'd surrender, 
but then I'd return to thinking, researching, you know, not fully 100 percent releasing it.
But in an instant He transformed me and has given me opportunity
to practice this surrender all year long.  
I suspect, it'll be all life long.  
And it is the most freeing and beautiful experience.
I am forever changed, and forever grateful.
And my closeness to Christ has gone to a level I wouldn't trade for anything.

He and I together we've dug in and done massive surgery.
And I've felt him building me back together brick by brick, a stronger warrior for him.

Going back and looking over some of my writing here I am annoyed at the over-thinking I see on the screen.  But I won't get rid of it, because it's testament to change and growth.  And I'll give that girl grace.  Because that girl did not yet know, or see the whole picture.  And so many things that didn't add up and didn't make sense that she was trying to fix and repair and lay at Jesus' feet.  The light has flooded in with truth and now those things have been released.

But back to the title of this post.

The JOY of the LORD.

I know I'm being a tad cryptic. But just know that this year has been so filled with beauty from ashes and restoration for me.  And I sorta just want to shout from the roof tops how amazing God is.  How he has provided, and paved, and protected, and shown me his great love in small and big ways.

And through it all my friends would say, "Sometimes we forget all you're going through because you just keep holding it together and smiling."  And I say it is because I have learned what it really means to have the joy of the Lord as my strength.  Truly that has sustained me.  And every single night, after getting my kids to bed and cleaning up I sit down and I am happy.  I am grateful.  And I do not forget to count my stones of remembrance for all He has done.

In a very random connection I was at a birthday celebration for a sweet friend recently. It was a surprise backyard movie party.  Her favorite movie is Mary Poppins.  So the stage was set, and we had the most wonderful time celebrating, singing, talking, and laughing.
And speaking of laughing, that scene where they float to the ceiling every time they laugh led to some discussion and a statement that just confirmed what I feel about finding joy in the Lord.

A friend said, "What if we really did float when we laugh?"
And another replied, "Well if we did, we'd have to get Jackie down from the moon."

Down from the moon.

I like that.

And I think I don't want to come down from the moon.

Happy three-day weekend friends.
I hope you find moments to laugh to the moon too.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

ode to summer

As the school year begins I don't want to let too much time go by
without paying tribute to summer.

We have NEVER had this much planned.
It was too much almost to keep straight.
So I had to make a calendar for all of us to visually keep track.
So here is your warning. 
This is long.
But for my own posterity, I needed to do this.
Shortly after school got out we headed to the airport, joining two other families
for a much needed trip to Hawaii.  I wrote about it a couple of years ago, how
there's just something really healing, free, and playful about Hawaii.
The whole trip was such a blessing, on so many levels.
The trip was filled with swimming, and playing, digging, and skating.
I snorkeled every single day. 
I couldn't wait to return to favorite spots and discover new ones.
I love the weightlessness, the light, the colors, the feeling of
awe over this amazing world beneath the surface.
I really don't ever want that to end.
Here I am swimming with the giant sea turtles in Napili Bay.
Being alongside these majestic creatures, it just takes your breath away.
I even was brave enough to jump off black rock with my son.
I went up to help him because he has a fear of heights.
And then I realized why he couldn't quite do it.
MUCH more scary from up there.
We had lots of encouragement.
I would not go back down the rocks,
but my legs would not stop shaking.
So with a literal hand to hold,
I lept off the cliff.
And then so did he.
And we did it.
We did it. 
I loved watching them.
And again wanted to freeze this time.
At dinner time, we laughed so hard.
There's a big inside joke behind this picture.
It was beautiful barbecuing most nights, with the sun setting
and the kids playing.
And again, this lady and I laughing so hard I'm crying.
We go back all the way to first grade, and have
literally walked through everything together.
We have each other's backs in a way I can't explain.
We just get each other like no one else.
I could not imagine doing life without her.
The very last day was the most amazing,
I mean amazing display of God's beauty.
No joke, this rainbow that appeared
and kept growing stronger
until it was a double rainbow
lasted about 45 minutes.
It became so normal, the kids
just played with it in the background.
The pristine, velvet sand of Makena beach
with the immaculate lighting,
it was ethereal.  
It was one of those moments where I just 
soaked in the beauty and knew I'd 
remember this feeling forever.
It felt like a glimpse into heaven.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
God is just so amazing.
And it felt like a love letter just for us.
Aloha Hawaii… until we visit again.
Right off the heels of Hawaii I was gifted the opportunity
to attend the Season's spiritual retreat in Newport.
Katherine Wolf, who has become a dear friend
and her husband were on the speaking panel.
I was not only blessed by them, but all of the speakers
and the many moments for quiet and introspection.
Oh, and new friends.  My roommates, and a woman
I kept saying I know I know you.
We finally figured out we had been in the same sorority in college.
Small world I tell you!
Our lives have taken similar turns, and she was absolutely
inspiring to me.  It was all around a beautiful retreat and 
different than others I've attended in many ways.
I'd highly recommend it.

Then it was time to celebrate Independence Day!
It's truly one of my favorite holidays.
No joke, I tear up every year.
And at the stroke of midnight, more celebrating
because it's my birthday.
The next day was spent with family at two baseball
games for my son's tournament.
The younger me would have NEVER thought she'd
ever spend the majority of her birthday at a sporting event.
But this boy of mine, he has changed me.
And I was excited to cheer on his team.
The night was spent with my dearest friends at one of our
favorite restaurants.
And the very next day, we saw my son off
to his week long middle school camp with friends all 
the way back to preschool.
And I set off with this partner in crime as one of the
counselors for the third and fourth grade girls camp at forest home.
They are truly a special group of girls.
I knew many of their moms before they were even born,
and it was so neat to hear their thoughts and opinions.
Seeing them push themselves and grow closer together.

I loved our nightly talks after campfire and before bed,
hearing their hearts, and seeing them owning their faith.

While I went to serve them, I also went with the
full intention of just playing like a child myself.
Since I didn't go to a camp like this growing up,
and knowing my son had been here every summer
the four years prior I was so grateful to experience it first hand, 
and to hear how serious the counselors and staff are about 
showing God's love to these kids.
They are special people I tell you, with some amazing energy.

To see how much they pour into those kids, and to 
know they do it again week after week.

I would look around and think, these kids do not know
how blessed they are to be here, to be experiencing this,
to know these truths at such a young age.
And I would pray for them.
That they would hold onto their faith,
what they're hearing, what they're singing,
that the knowledge of God's love and 
His word would ring louder than the lies of the world as they grow.
Not long after we returned,
my college roommates whisked me away for a surprise reunion getaway. 
It was so special.  We're hitting a major milestone year.
And it had been almost ten years since all four of us spent
an extended period of time together. 
It took some planning, with three different states,
and literally planes, trains, and automobiles
to bring us to the peaceful town in Santa Ynez.
 My one roommate's husband is a wine distributor
so we had private tours.
We laughed a lot.
And talked non stop.
It was a slow, really relaxing time.
We browsed through the shops in town.
And had dinner on the porch.
It was just too beautiful.

There was so much catching up to do.
It felt a bit like traveling back in time.
When we lived together through college, just babies we were.
Now with families of our own.
It was kind of surreal.
And I missed them.
I realized, a lot.
I didn't want it to end.
But we vowed not to let more than two years
go by without doing it again.

Back at home we did lots of local things,
visiting our favorite restaurants, the antique mall,
trips to the beach, hiking, skating, sleep overs, 
and more birthday celebrations.
Oh my I know this is photo heavy.
This is what happens when you don't blog for an entire summer.
So for those of you still with me,
here was our last hurrah to summer.
My best friend (the one I mentioned above) and I 
set out to camp with the kids.  
First time, just us moms and the kids.
We went in with very little expectations.
And said, well if all goes wrong,
at least we'll laugh…. a lot.
But you know what.
It was a total success.
Their freedom.
I just wanted to freeze this moment in time.
The wind, the salty air, the sand, the crashing waves,
their made up games, their innocence.
I had this yearning to keep them under 
my wings, to protect this space forever.
As I watched them play, I prayed they always hold onto their wonder.
We were a bit sleep deprived, but it was well worth it.
We couldn't have asked for a better trip.
And just like that summer is over.
It was truly a spectacular one.
It began and ended conquering challenges,
and making new memories.
At the beginning I felt the Lord impress upon me
two things.
One, to truly grasp how great His love is and to be very intentional in seeing
how He is always pursuing and revealing that love.  
And to be expectant, ready to receive.
It isn't easy for me to receive, I'm more of a giver.
But in so many ways I received this summer.
And I am just so grateful.
And the finality of it ending,
I won't lie I was feeling sad.
In the first week of school my son said,
"I like summer mom better than school year mom."
And I know what he means. 
There are more rules, more structure, less freedom.
I wish it could always be summer,
but alas they wouldn't learn and grow
and one day be able to leave the nest without the building
blocks of the school year.
So we are getting into a groove.
And in that new groove, I'm shifting gears
and looking expectantly towards all the fall has to offer.