Run Your Own Race

I was rounding the corner at mile 12 when I heard the sirens. One mile to go, but what’s with the sirens? And then I see them.

Three elite runners.

Synapses in my brain fired in spite of the excruciating pain radiating from my knee, and I realized that these guys were about the finish the marathon. “Yep, I’m being lapped by these guys,” I thought, instead of enjoying the fact that I was in my last mile. Of course, so is everyone else in the pack around me. Yet it stings. Or, maybe that was my knee. (more…)

Lessons Learned from the Lego Men

photoTo say that my son loves Legos would be the understatement of the year, maybe a lifetime.  And so, it was no surprise when he asked if he could bring them along to church.  He pitched his plan perfectly – he’d put them in my purse until it was time for “big” church and then he’d play quietly with them.

After a millisecond pause to consider, I happily agreed.  Because every mom of a 5 year old boy knows how hard it is for them to sit still for an extended period of time.  And the same motherhood gets nervous when said children create a stir during a quiet service, and we all know that 5 year old boys squirm, wiggle, bounce, dangle, and whisper in high volumes.  It’s much more like a softened… scream. (more…)

A New Career?

smileI saw a job description today for a Happiness Engineer. Perhaps you’ve heard of this job title. I had not. But, I love it! And, I want to be one.

Essentially, this person is a customer service and support technician for a software company. They assist customers. They offer creativity in problem solving. They fix things and make people happy.  (more…)

Grace in Grieving

Seven years after the life and death of my daughter, I see patterns in my grief. There are times of the year that are more difficult  – like now, as I approach her birthday.  While Ashlynn’s birthday continues to be a day of celebration for us, the time leading up to her birthday evokes a range of emotion.  I am often restless and feel unsettled.

While I am not preparing birthday celebrations of the typical variety, I am preparing a way to honor her life on her birthday. And so, I want it to be special. I want it to be meaningful. I want it to demonstrate my love for her. But throughout all the thought and preparations, I am keenly aware of her absence. Thus the restlessness. (more…)

Baptism Gone Wrong

My 5 year old son recently asked about baptism.  He was mostly interested in the mechanics of it – the actual event- because he has heard talk of it, but has no memory of seeing someone baptized. Conveniently, we were kayaking at the time of his inquiry, so I offered to demonstrate in the water.

While it seemed like a great idea at the time, hindsight offers a different view.  (more…)

Detours and Distractions

Detours and Distractions
I had two choices according to Mapquest, and so I picked my favorite. Only, I was distracted and missed my exit off the interstate.
OK, Plan B. I’ll take option 2. No worries.
Then my thoughts started to wander and I missed that exit, too! I couldn’t believe it. I was about to cross the river and then there’d be no turning back, so I quickly pulled over to program my GPS. I should have done it sooner. Luckily, I got back on track easily and was only about seven minutes late to my meeting.
Distractions.
Preoccupation.
Detours.
They cause us to be rerouted in life. I eventually made it to my destination but it took a little longer and didn’t go as planned. Isn’t most of life that way? We get distracted and take our eyes off God. We chase our own plans and take little detours.
I used to get frustrated, even berate myself, wondering what I’d missed by inadvertently choosing a different route. But, the reality is, I always make my way back to God. At some point, I realize that I’ve detoured in the midst of my distraction and then realign (or recalculate, in GPS terms). My destination is the same, and I’ve grown along the way, so perhaps I need to let go of the idea that I may have missed something. I really should focus on what I experienced as a result of my actions and learn what I can from the adventure, all while taking in the scenery, exploring new territory, and even daydreaming a little along the way.
Yes, life is about a destination, but it’s also about the journey there. Enjoy!

Something about the Beach

Something about the beach draws me to God.  Maybe it’s the rhythmic sound of the waves. Or the combination of the breeze carrying the smell of the salty ocean spray that transports my heart and mind towards Him.

I am fascinated by the beauty and the details at the beach. All of the shells and evidence of sea creatures intrigue me.  How can each beach be so different, ever changing, yet staying the same– the same beauty, the same elements, the same praise worthy creation of God?

I discovered a new delight on my trip this week.  Sharks’ teeth!  I have found a stray tooth or two over the years, but this particular beach boasts of them in abundance.  I found one that reminded me of this fact, and so, the search begin.  At first, I didn’t find anymore.  But one night while researching the post-poison-ivy-hives that I had developed (another post for another day), I decided to take a break and see if there were any special techniques for finding these shiny black gems in the sand. And, of course, there were blogs and web sites that offered tips and strategies.  

With only 30 minutes until sunset, I was armed with new info and went tearing for the beach.  I found 5 of them in 45 minutes…yes, it had gotten dark and my dear husband was using the light in his cell phone to support my new obsession.  Calling it quits on our last night of the trip, I knew I had only one last chance to search. I checked the tide schedules and realized I would be getting up much earlier than I wanted the next morning. But, I was not disappointed. The beauty of the ocean as the sun is still rising and the quiet lapping of the waves would have been enough.  Intoxicating, actually. But, I also found eleven more of those little black beauties in less than an hour.  Each one involved a process of seeking, celebrating, and thanking God for the beauty of His creation all while living in the moment.  I was completely focused.

The cycle of seeking, celebrating, and thanking was what made it so enjoyable to focus. And,so, in a season of life where I have been struggling to live in the moment and focus, I am feasting on this important lesson.  I will see Him more clearly when I seek, celebrate, and thank Him with the same focus and intensity as I did searching for the shark’s teeth.   All else fades into the background when I know what I am looking for.

I pray that you see God’s beauty today as you focus on seeking, celebrating, and thanking Him for all His goodness.

The Journey Continues

Recently, I was asked to participate in a parent panel at a perinatal and infant loss conference. I’ve always been willing to share my journey openly with people, but somehow I struggled with finding the words to say as I was preparing for the session.

It was a safe audience: pastors, chaplains and lay ministry people. Yet suddenly, I didn’t know what to say about my grief. There were plenty of hard things I experienced and advice I could give to people working with a grieving a mother. But nothing seemed adequate. Or appropriate. Or comfortable. Nothing felt right.

 What is wrong with me? I uttered audibly. I don’t get it. I’ve shared my story a million times. I feel like I could do it in my sleep, but I can’t find the words. I shared my dilemma with my husband. And finally, as I was talking, I was able to name my struggle.

I’d been asked to share about my story as it pertained to grief. That essentially highlights my daughter’s death. And yes, she died, but when I think of Ashlynn, I don’t think of her death. I think of life. Her life. We cherished her life. We celebrated her life. And yes, we experienced her death but that’s not the part I hold onto. I focus on what she added to our lives not the vacancy that drove my grief.

Finally it made sense why I was wrestling.

And so, I took another step forward in my grief as I processed my thoughts. I was intrigued that there are still things to consider and work out related to my grief. And I was thankful for the new discovery about her life. As time passes, I have less frequent thoughts of her and so I always welcome the opportunity to think and feel deeply about her. Until the day I can wrap my arms around her again, I’ll grasp the glimpses of her life that come my way.