Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hope Lives

Hope lives today,
even with desires unseen.
Instead of wishful thinking,
Hope provides a place on which faith can lean.

Hope anchors my soul;
a truth learned while living.
The results in my heart convince me;
Hope I received is hope I am giving.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rockin' Praises

I'm ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe.  Ready to sing;  ready to raise a tune: 'Wake up, soul!'...I'm thanking you, God, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country.  The deeper your love, the higher it goes.  Every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.  Psalm 57:7-10

Raindrops, tap dancing on the windows, kept me awake off and on during the night.  As I tossed and as I turned, the faithfulness of the Lord over the past week, year, lifetime flashed in my mind...vignettes of victories won; clips of comfort provided; and pictures of perseverance...

When daybreak arrived, so did the voice singing praises.
"Be  exalted, God, above  the heavens.  Let your  glory be over all the earth!"  Psalm 57:11
Awakened and spilling thanks like raindrops for:


raindrops on parched ground

cool morning air

joy coming in the morning after a sad night

purposeful living

news of healed body

margin, that is, clear space in a packed world

displays of covenant loyalty, day in and day out

rainbows, double rainbows!

butterfly sightings

freshly planted pansies

Joining the Gratitude Community in giving thanks.

holy experience

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What to do when you are tightly wound...

Worry, worry, worry - stowaways on my journey;

Insight told me that I needed to trust God more, then I'd worry less.

Sometimes, the harder I tried the more I worried!

Worry, worry, worry - stowaways on my journey;

Easy to go there - difficult to let go - until...

I discovered how humor can disconnect my worry wires.

A few years ago, I searched for yet another hair care product that would smooth the tight curls and tame the frizz.

On the shelf I saw a familiar product name and the words: Lasting Control for Curls without Frizz

Well, the decision was made: I had to buy the product that gave me control and no frizz.

After all, wasn't that what my worry, worry, worry was about - control?

I digress...

Anyway, I bought the hair care product.  I used it for about five days.  The results were average, but not a complete waste.

One morning when I picked up the product (with a very worry-filled mind), I took time to read the label.

I laughed and laughed and laughed.  What I had never seen on the bottle were the words:
Tightly Wound

Yes, folks, even the hair care product knew the state of my soul that morning!!  I indeed found myself tightly wound - worrying about this, anxious about that.

Now, before you run out to the store, know that the product was a vehicle for God's words to me - 'you need to loosen control, then the worry will lessen.'

I don't use the product for my hair, but I surely remind myself of the story behind the

Hair's still curly and sometimes frizzy, but I am happily out of control -
um, most of the time!  I am learning to trust God more each day...

Feel free to Jam with Faith Barista and tell your story!

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nothing Between

Seeing Jesus in the dental chair can be a stretch, but that is what happened to me today.

The kindhearted and technically skilled dentist spent time and tools removing dental plaque hidden deeply in the gums.

As I heard his gentle voice checking in with me:

"How are you doing?" or "Lift up your chin and open as wide as you can", I wanted to obey.  I wanted to cooperate with removing the barriers to oral health.  I wanted nothing between my teeth and gums that would harm the way they worked together.

So, I listened; I obeyed.  I heard the teaching and eagerly nodded my assent to what needed to happen on my end to keep nothing between.  Armed with bristles and floss; water pic and toothpaste, I will keep nothing between.

As I pondered my relationship with the Lord while reading chapter one of Isaiah, I wondered: what hinders my closeness to the Lord?  Is there anything for which I need to repent?  Has the wear and tear of living come between us? 

I made a decision.  I will actively seek to stay in close relationship with the Lord allowing nothing between my soul and the Savior

Not ingratitude, not the "plaque of daily living", not indifference to the sufferings of people, not the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, nor the pride of life.

Open my eyes Lord.  Help me keep the way clear.  I need to see you.
Nothing between my soul and the Savior, so that His blessed face may be seen...Keep the way clear!  Let nothing between.
How have you seen Jesus today?  Share with those of us who are walking in community.

holy experience

Monday, September 20, 2010

Preparing the Way

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:23
What to do when a season for the reframing project comes to an end and so much remains unheard.  Like a door opening to a fall, my heart and my head brace for the next season.

I spent a weekend in the mountains with pen and paper poised, ready to write the wise words He would speak.  I watched and I waited; the words absent on the pages.

I waited and I watched.  The words began to form from my lips, not His.

The thank offerings spilled out word upon word as I beheld beauty and provision, celebration and quiet, salvation and purpose.

I continue to speak out loud thank offerings to my Creator, my Lord, as I move into a new season. 

Thank offerings honor the Lord and prepare the way for salvation.

Thankful words pour from my lips to His ears.


enjoying crisp, cool nights

sleeping in warm beds

eating apple and cranberry pie after a hike

crackling yellow and brown leaves underfoot

seeing red, brown, green, yellow tree leaves on display

watching a shimmering lake

catching sun burning off fog

joining in laughter and listening in a cabin

hearing God through the voice of a mother and a father

hearing God through the voice of a two-year old boy

experiencing wedding celebration in three languages

connecting heart to heart in a quiet moment

meeting a majestic moose on the night road

sharing goods and foods and friends in common

hearing reports of generous-hearted teens

bonding time away with daughter

giving language to emotions

acting on compassionate feelings

understanding more of the heart of God

repenting for smallness of my heart

opening to a more excellent way

You may wish to pave a path of thank offerings with the Gratitude Community at Ann's blog

holy experience

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"I See You Doing Better"

When I was a young girl, anxiety and fears accompanied me like clouds on a foggy morning.  I functioned off of fear.

By God's grace and love, with encouragement from loving family and friends,  I began to shed the shroud of fear.  Truth read slowly became truth lived - line upon line, precept upon precept.

However, like an onion, layers of fear required peeling over time.  Steps forward brought excitement and hope.  Steps backward taught me to give and receive grace.

Love came calling, resulting in marriage and two children.

Remembering my childhood experiences, I desired to see my children walk in love and not fear.

So, when I noticed evidence of fear in my eight year old son, I shared the truth:
God is love...There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4:18 (The Message)
He listened.

One day, while in the car, I looked in the rear view mirror and gently asked:
"Son, how are you doing with fears."

Then came his little boy voice from the back seat...unexpected encouragement for the soul of his Mommy Teacher:

"I am doing better now that I see you doing better."

Layer peeled back; truth rushed in; healing and light flooded my soul.  I was so hard on myself when evidences of fear seeped from my heart. 

"Yes, son; you are right.  I am doing better...and so are you."

I needed that encouragement.  Prayers, experience, and application of truth produced in me growing trust in God and faith in His love, but l knew more fear-shedding was required.  I leaned more onto the Everlasting Arms.

That little boy is now a young man.  He speaks with wisdom, insight and encouragement.

I remember to stay open, allowing layers to fall off at the skillful hands and lovely feet of Father's ambassadors.

Encouragement allows faith to grow.  The growing continues...

Your turn.  Serve up your story of unexpected encouragement with Faith Barista.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Zooming to the Bottom

Claire's current photoplay stretched me taut. 

Using the close up camera feature: new to me. 

Focusing on the bottom of a bowl and a square serving dish: new to me.

But like the long, luxurious stretches at the end of an exercise session, this stretch left me sighing - I want to learn more about capturing on camera what I see with my eyes.

For now, I am zooming to the bottom.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grateful Brokenness

After a week of reading the posts of Compassion bloggers in Guatemala

and reading The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns


I found myself singing Hillsong's Hosanna in the Highest throughout the day.  The lyrics that played over and over again on my lips and in my heart are:

Heal my heart and make it clean open up my eyes to the things unseen; show me how to love like you have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours; everything I am for your kingdom's cause; as I walk from earth into eternity. Hosanna in the highest.
Gratitude bubbles up from my heart for:


heart cleansing words


eyes opened to the world

Good News

willingness to live out loud

grace for living

seed for sowing

opportunity to write words of encouragement

more than enough

people to love with Love
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.   Micah 6:8 (The Message)
Counting up 1,000 gifts with the Gratitude Community.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Poised and Ready

She sat regally on the bench waiting for the bus.  The teal colored pillbox hat perched lightly on her head as the wispy netting grazed her forehead, shielding sparse eyebrows.  She stared straight ahead with deep concentration.  Her wrinkled hands held tightly to the worn, brown leather purse.  Brown age spots dotted the tops of her hands as the veins swelled like tributaries from a mighty river.  A long, silver car slowly approaching the bus stop stopped.  Unfolding himself from the driver's seat, a tall, thin man emerged.  He began walking toward her.  Her unblinking eyes flinched momentarily, squinting as the man approached.  He nodded his head slightly; her face creased with an ever-widening smile.  He offered her his arm.  She rose from the bench, walked to the car, and entered the door that opened to receive her.  She sat poised and ready.  Her son sighed with relief; he found her.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reframing Life in the Presence of Critical and Chronic Illnesses

Back to School!

Today's post comes from my friend Julie.  Julie and her husband parent two children, Sierra and Sawyer.  I gain new perspective whenever I listen to Julie.   Grab a cup of tea and listen in to a slice of life from a hope-filled family.  

 Can it really be that school starts tomorrow? Is the summer almost over? Say it ain't so, Joe. It has been a GREAT one. Yes, Si started it off with tons of medical appointments, but once that was out of the way, the fun kept on rolling.

Four years ago at this time, Sierra, now nearly 15, was in the midst of chemo, kidney and heart failure. Next summer, dialysis, wheelchair, swooning. The following summer, rebounding from her 2nd kidney transplant and all the chaos that comes with moving to a new house. Last summer, moving toward more stability and what passes for normal around here. This summer -- nirvana, Ayers & Mutchler style.

As noted above, Sierra's life still entails, and will likely always entail, lots of medical support -- doc appointments, tests, meds-meds-meds -- 30 plus pills a day, feeding pump, etc. Her significant intellectual disabilities make every day an interesting adventure. But at least this summer there were massive doses of fun-squared blended in, especially this August.

The month kicked off with Sierra at sleep away Camp Sunrise (cancer camp) for a full week. She was home for only a few days before off we all went to Milwaukee (that's in Wisconsin ;-) for a long weekend to celebrate Max's parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. We also managed to visit the Wisconsin State Fair (which would eat the Maryland State Fair for a mid-day snack) and we dined on deep fried cheese curds and deep fried pickles (whoa, those pickles completely rocked).

Pit stop back in Balto for a week to repack our bags (and go to work for the grups) and then we took a true-blue, kid-centric, wacko-fun family vacation to see Grandma Jane and Grandpa Leo in Tampa -- and to the Nickelodeon Hotel and Universal Studios in Orlando. There were slimings, Sponge Bob low-fives, a beach romp with Grandma, sing-a-longs with Barney, and flights through Hogwarts with Harry Potter. It was all wonderful, magical -- full of kid smiles, squeals, and laughter. Moments to remember and pull out on rainy days -- memories which can re-energize and nurture hope for more, and more, and more sweet times.

Of course, real life is messy, even vacation life, so there also was overly tired and cranky kids (and sometimes even parents) worn thin and mean by too much time spent in planes, trains, and automobiles.

There was a little, pink, Firefly cell phone that even went airborne, we suspect, on The Mummy ride. Miraculously, it survived its night in the tomb and was reunited with Sierra the next day at Universal's Lost and Found.

Not reunited with Sierra was her yellow purse, pink wallet with a few dollar bills and clear contact info for me, AND her iPod Touch. That somehow disappeared while we were at Nick Hotel. Sadly disappointing that some parent did not take the opportunity to teach their children well when they stumbled upon that purse.

Sierra can be pretty forgetful, and as she most likely left the purse in a common area of the hotel, Max and I were sympathetic to her loss, but also saw a teachable moment. The iPod Touch (a hand-me-down from brother, Sawyer, 11) is a much beloved, helpful, and instructive toy for Sierra. She uses it at doctor's offices, on planes, when she feels anxious and needs to calm herself and focus, etc. As tough as the loss was going to be for her, we decided we'd wait until her birthday on 9/28 to replace it. Or that was the plan.

On returning to Balto and reading a facebook post about a young adult with cystinosis, plans changed. I'm fb friends with many parents who have children with cystinosis, or young people living with cystinosis. There are only about 300 people with cystinosis living in the US. Its great to support each other through the web, even if we are not able to physically be close. We cheer each other on, and comfort each other when times become challenging.

As I read a fb post after getting home about a young man who passed away at age 25 from cystinosis in Tampa Bay, coincidentally, at the same time we were vacationing in Tampa Bay with Max's folks, my perspective on lessons and time changed. Preston's Story: Although we hold on to the hope that the medications and interventions developed during the last few decades will slow down damage from the disease and improve quality of life, there still is no cure -- for now. Preston's loss of sight in particular reminded us how important it is to give Sierra her hourly eye drops all day long. Everyone living with this disease is an inspiration as they tell a story about perseverance and resilience.

We don't want to spoil our kids. We want to help them learn and grow in to good, kind, caring, responsible, loving, thoughtful people. But we also are constantly reminded about time -- how uncertain it all is. Three young people with cystinosis have passed away this summer. Three out of three hundred in a few months time. If an iPod Touch can bring Sierra some comfort and joy, why wait until the end of September? Happy Birthday now! Let's make every day a birthday for all of us. Like a birthday prompts, let's look back at life and think about all the good and the hard and how it has brought us here, and anticipate the future with hope, and yes, maybe some trepidation as our path through this patch of forest has not always been free from brambles and hungry wolves. Sure, we need to keep watch, but even more importantly, we need to keep joy.

Sierra has proven herself to be one tough, if tiny, contender. Because the future remains uncertain for any of us, especially those among us living with chronic and/or critical health issues, we're trying to be mindful of making each day a summer vacation extravaganza, birthday blow-out, anniversary bash, and joyous holiday celebration.

So, on this last day of summer vacation, I'm going to dance with my kids, build puzzles with Sierra and help her play solitaire on her new iPod, smash some zombies with Sawyer and sing his new favorite song with him which he's belting out and blaring loudly and endlessly as 11-year old boys like to do, and go out to eat at Edo Sushi -- making sure to bang the gong as we enter and exit the restaurant to call out the joy and make this day sweet and memorable.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Age of Opportunity

My husband and I shared in the celebration of a special friend''s 13th birthday.  As a group of us spoke blessings over Kay for this new journey, she beamed like the candle lights on her cake.  What a great Age of Opportunity for Kay and her parents.

I reminisced about the times when my adult children began their journeys toward adulthood. 

When our daughter was 13, we encouraged her to begin to ask the Lord for direction for various aspects of her life as we also inquired of the Lord.  Her faith grew as she learned to hear and heed the voice of God.

On our son's 13th birthday, I moved out of my spot opposite my husband at the dining room table.  My son took that spot while I moved to where he sat to eat since he was a little boy.  This growing young man moved into a new position in the natural to match his new position spiritually.  He learned many aspects of being a man of God from his father.

My thanks are plentiful as I continue to reflect on the opportunity to impact the lives of teens.  I am thankful for:


my husband's consistent, loving, and faith-filled parenting

a daughter who walks in faith

a son who appreciates the worth of prayer

parents who provided foundations for growth

teens with whom we relate on a regular basis

friends who helped me grow as a parent

helpful and faith-filled parenting examples

wise words from  the Word

grace upon grace from the Father

books that inform, teach, and challenge

 Consider joining Ann Voscamp's gratitide community and list your thanks.

holy experience

Friday, September 3, 2010

Family Fasting

We returned home from a week of an extended family vacation at the beach. 

We enjoyed food, fellowship, and funny stories.

During the same week, I heard in some cases, and observed in other cases, the brokenness and pain of illness, sorrow, and unmet desires in extended family members and friends.
Is not this the kind of fast I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Isaiah 58:6-7
Over the years, I experienced the grace of being set free from chains of injustice and cords of yokes.  Loving care provided me with shelter, fed my hungry spirit and soul, and clothed my nakedness. 

So, it is with a desire to comfort people with the comfort I received, that I fast.  With God's grace flowing through my heart and hands, I fast by...

loosing chains of injustice

untying cords of yokes

setting the oppressed free

breaking every yoke

with the Father's love, the compassion of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Horizons Unlimited

Ocean views remind me of how far I cannot see;

 What looms so large in my life, appears minuscule in the presence of Light

Despite unknown solutions and unclear plans for the future, my heart trusts in the One who gives wisdom and guidance.

"I see the limits to everything  human, but the horizons can't contain your commands."   Psalm 119:96