Wednesday, September 17, 2014

50 Women Every Christian Should Know (Make that 51)

My mother taught me to pray and her pragmatic faith was handed down to her from her mother. I was the third generation of a “work out your salvation” faith, the kind where you earn what you get, when I met Jennifer.

I was in third grade. She was in high school, maybe 16 or 17—one of the big kids that rode my school bus. The big kids sat in the very back—away from the driver’s prying eyes. One day, when the bus was too crowded, our driver made me and my best friend go to the back and sit with the big kids. I was terrified.

I sat with Jennifer. She never stopped smiling at me.

That day sparked a special friendship. Jennifer started sending me notes, delivered by her cousin, who was in my grade. After she graduated high school, the notes turned into letters. We corresponded all through my grade school days, junior high and high school, and even some while I was in college. We stayed in touch always, even if it was just a Christmas card. Her letters comforted me through my parents’ divorce, friend troubles, and just the regular stuff of life. She shared her faith with me in her letters.

I love the Lord so much, she would say. He makes me so happy! I wish you could know him like I do!

That girl changed my life because she believed in me. Because she told me over and over again that I was special.

I always wished I had a little sister. If I did, I would want her to be just like you!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jennifer lately. As I read Michelle DeRusha’s new book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, I am penciling Jennifer’s name into the table of contents—below those weighty names from history.

Because everyone should have a Jennifer in their life.

Jennifer taught me that there is more to faith than discipline. There is passionate love—a living, breathing relationship. As I read through the stories of the 50 women Michelle has chosen for her book, I see that these faith giants knew this too.

And you know what else? This beautiful book does more than makes me remember Jennifer. It makes me want to be a Jennifer for someone else. We’re all creating legacies. 50 Women makes me look closer at mine.

Maybe I’ll pencil my name into the table of contents too.


Do you have your copy of 50 Women Every Christian Should Know? You are going to want this book. And you are going to want to share it. Head on over to Michelle's blog to find more posts about it and some good giveaways. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Playdates with God: First Days

I had forgotten how easy it is to fall in love. How it feels to hold a small, helpless bundle; how the universe seems to fall in place when looking into a baby’s eyes.

My dad called to tell me the baby was in the neo-natal intensive care unit at a hospital near me. His mother not available, family members were taking it in turns to be with him, so his first days would not be so lonely. Could I stop by?

I thought of the boy’s mother—how it seems like only yesterday that I received word of her birth. How sweet she was, and innocent. And now, this little one who shares a smidgen of my blood.

I met my stepmother in the hospital lobby and she led me through those long hallways up to the NICU. And it was love at first sight.  Soon, I was lost in baby-scent and that glow of holding a piece of living, wiggling love in the arms. That I would be invited—even welcome—into such a place is a wonder, so I took my arms and legs and world-soiled self into that sanctuary of love.

Just to hold a baby.

My own babies are taller than I now—but I felt that pull as soon as I walked through the door: the slow of the first days. But there was no beaming mama here, and my heart did the deep fall as I took him in my arms. I felt my heart pace with his; slow in time to this peace that knows these are the important things.

I exclaimed over petite nose, silken hair, long fingers. I had to look at his tiny feet—run my finger along the sole of it.

And something about his sleeping peace opened me up and I remembered. I remembered the stories of my own’s first days, as women do, and love was thick as we breathed it in and out and whispered it into the air around us.

He slept the entire time, and our love made a bed that cradled him soft—spoke a secret lullaby.

I studied each curve of his face, drank in his little dream sounds and I remembered this:

Some scientists calculate that humans create 1.8 million synapses per second from their second month in utero to their second birthday. The brain makes synapses to store information. Each thing we know is embodied in a network of neural connections.  (David Brooks in The Social Animal)

I looked at sleepy eyes and wondered what is going on inside that beautiful brain of yours? He—storing up knowledge while we sit and remember and spread thick love all over him.

We fall in love and I hear a tiny whisper as I tuck that baby back into his bassinette—loathing to leave: I am here. I am here in the first days. I am here…always.

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Garden Notes: A Peck of Peppers

I must admit my garden has been a bit neglected lately. I’ve been somewhat distracted. There was the painting of the dining room.  Then I looked around at the furniture and decided it needed lightening up too. This has resulted in one messy project after another. I’m in the process of stripping and sanding my office hutch.  It has very much been a case of giving the mouse a cookie. Because, when you are getting ready to launch a book release, the best thing to do is begin a tedious, time-intensive project. If I ever finish the room, I’ll share some photos.

So, this morning I head out to the garden to find a pepper explosion. My poblanos have matured to robust beauty, as well as a peck of serranos. There are always jalapeƱos for picking, and yellow onions too.  Nothing makes me happier than a colander full of fresh-picked, home-grown produce; and although the woodpecker decimated my tomato crop this year, this lovely assortment has me thinking one thing: salsa.

A quick internet search yields promising results. I think I’m going to try this recipe for canning, and this one for a quick table salsa. I'll let you know how it turns out. Of course, I have to continue with the stripping and sanding, so who knows when the kitchen will be humming with such goodness. But...I’ve been known to work into the night on such things.

It feels good to focus on home this week—to dream of making our space more beautiful and of putting goodness on the table. This makes me happy.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

West Virginia Morning: Silver Bullet

This morning, right before awakening, I dreamt that Teddy and I were stuck on the railroad tracks at a crossing—a silver bullet fast approaching. I did not feel a sense of panic, just consternation at the long arm blocking our escape. And beside me, just calm as he could be, Teddy said simply, “Mother.” 

I opened my eyes then and stared at the ceiling—replaying the image of that train rushing toward us. That’s when the panic washed over me, settling like a pit in the low valley of my gut. I could hear my son’s voice say over and over again, “Mother.” In that simple naming of me, my dream-son was telling me that it is time for action—time to move.  And the name of motherhood with all its weight presses down on a woman until she can’t hardly breathe.

Usually my dreams are easy to interpret. In my waking life, I wear emotions like a second skin; it’s been a curse and a blessing my entire being that I cannot hide how I feel. There is a story of when I was five or six—how my sister stuffed my pockets full of candy at the Garden Fresh. My mother said all she had to do was look at my face to know we’d done something naughty.

My dream life is much the same. Those stories my brain conjures at night are usually transparent. God has used them to move me to action many times. But this train nightmare has me puzzled. I keep asking myself, what am I not acting on that is endangering my son?

The answer, when I put it this way, could be any number of things. But they are not things within my grasp. This makes me wonder about the faith it takes not to act. This makes me pray for patience in the waiting. This makes me sink in to the hard work of trusting.

I will wait until the silver bullet of God’s love strikes us down.

Today, at the High Calling, Micha Boyett shares a beautiful story about mothering. A good read for the mother in all of us. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Playdates with God: Rest as Worship

Last night when I took Bonnie out for her final go-around, the swollen moon loomed low; casting a silver glow over this little place we call home. As I stepped out on the porch, I caught a glimpse of Kairos, but before I could grab him by his hair, he was gone. So I sat down on the steps and closed my eyes, hoping he would return.

And though my eyes seemed closed to the holy dripping of time in that moment, I received the next best thing: a slowing. I listened to the cicadas strum their song and let my senses saturate with dewy night air, and I felt peace settle into my spirit like the blanketed night coming on.

I may have mentioned that I’ve been having trouble resting. There are too many thoughts bumping around in my mind and they won’t let me be. I’ve been reading a book on Sabbath with my friend Shelly’s book club, and our Bible study group just started this book on spiritual transformation; so I’ve been thinking a lot about rest.

God doesn’t need to rest after creating the universe because he’s tired. He rests because he is holy, and everything that God does is holy. God rests. God is holy. Therefore, rest is holy. It’s simple math.

Rest is holy.

Those words resonated in my spirit this morning as if I’d never heard the like before. And I knew it was because I needed to hear them. I’m going to start thinking of rest as worship—a time to listen for God. I think I have always practiced it this way, but I haven’t necessarily thought of it this way beforehand. Maybe I’ve thought rest is only for me. And it is, of course. But it is also a way to God’s heart.

How about you? Is it difficult for you to rest?

This week at The High Calling we are talking about Storytelling. Will you join us?

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button: