If I Could

If I could take it all away,
If I could change it now, today,

If I could say let’s start again,
If I could have you tell me when,

I couldn’t see around my confusion
I couldn’t see it was just an illusion

I wanted to believe it wasn’t you
I wanted to believe the feelings were true

I broke your heart
I broke apart

I found myself yearning
I found myself learning

I want romance and affection
I want communication and connection

I would ask you to open your heart
I would remove what keeps us apart

I would work to make it right
I would keep reality in sight

I would forgive and forget

I would ask the same of you

If I could.

Through Other Windows

Inspired by a late-evening drive, just after dark, when I could see into people’s windows.

What goes on through other windows?
Windows of houses
Windows of homes
Windows of the soul.

Is it warm
Is it safe
Is it whole
Is it full?

From my view through other windows
It’s always more
It’s always enough
It’s always complete

If you look through my window
It’s a wreck
It is love
It is home.

Pedal!

Love is like going down a big hill on your bike when you were a kid.   Some kids fly down and never think twice about what could happen.  I always admired those kids.  Some kids, and my hand is up, go down a little at a time.  Some kids, don’t make it down at all.  Here’s why…

If the head is in control saying this is too steep, I don’t know what’s at the bottom, just put the brakes on a little.  Slow down.  Stop.  I am scared.

The heart is saying wait a minute, this feels a little exciting.  I like the wind in my face and the wobbling of the bike.    I can’t wait to see what’s at the bottom!  Hats off and hair flying.

About halfway down, the head has convinced you you’ll never make it.  The heart is screaming for joy.   You’re confused, so you:

A-pull over and catch your breath and go back to the top to try it over because your head has convinced you that no good can come of this.  You’re going to crash and it’s too scary and you always crash and it really hurts and it isn’t fair and you don’t want to get hurt again.   You tell yourself you’re just not good enough.

B-you slow down a little to appease your head but your heart carries you forward and your legs are pedaling like mad and you can’t catch your breath and you’re so excited you could pee your pants because there is the bottom of the hill and you’re going to make it and … you did it!!!

If you choose A, you will never get to experience the finish.  You will stay safe and confused and afraid and you will start over again and again.

If you choose B, you will be terrified and exhilarated and you will see that there are so many new things beyond the bottom of that hill.  You may have crashed and skinned your knees and busted your lip but you got to the bottom and you are in a new place.  You have crashed before but you tried again and you got stronger from it.  You can see more hills to try and more places to ride than you ever thought possible.  Maybe, just maybe, this turns out to be the best thing you ever did.  It truly is your choice.  There isn’t some aha moment where you realize that you CAN do it.  There is a time where you realize you WANT to do it.

Love is a natural part of life.  So many people fear it and continue to put on the brakes because they don’t want to get hurt.  The alternative to letting your heart guide you is that your head might keep you in a “safe” place.   You are sad and hurt and unsure all the time.  You never get to know what could happen.  You miss the reason God put us all here.

By letting your heart choose and by listening to what God is already telling you, you open yourself up to new possibilities and all the joy your heart can hold.  Better yet, get your head and your heart into a partnership where your heart can take you places you’ve always been afraid to go but your head can help you avoid some of the bigger rocks.

You may get hurt but you may not.  Isn’t it worth trying?  Only you can decide.

Of course it’s not just that simple, but then again, doesn’t this make you think?   Not everybody gets hurt from loving and caring for another person. Not everybody leaves.  Even if it’s happened before, it’s not going to happen every time.  If you find the right person, it is worth the risk.

Don’t let your head tell you you’re not good enough. Don’t give in to thinking that somebody else is better suited for the ride.  You are it.  You were built for this and you are the one.

Nobody says you must get to the bottom of the hill at breakneck speed.  Go at a pace that’s better for you.  Make your way to the bottom of the hill.  But go.  Don’t stop.  Don’t go back.  You will be so glad you did.  I promise.

The Roller Coaster

The roller coaster that is our life never stops. With every vibrating, thrilling experience that takes us upward, the excitement builds. Once over that crest we are falling helplessly, maybe even hopelessly, but guess what?!?! There is a bottom and we get to climb again. The plunge is not forever. Some of the curves and hills are gentle, some take our breath away, but there’s always moments to catch that breath. We get to the station and people exit our life while new people come on-board. This is where we look around to see who’s still beside us and who is willing to continue the ride.

Real Wood

Don’t put that in your mouth.

Don’t put that up your nose.

Don’t hit your brother.

Don’t wipe that on your sleeve.

Don’t eat that before your dinner.

Wear your coat.

All our lives, our parents and other well-meaning adults, tell us what we should and should not do. You get the picture.  We expect, that after we reach grown-up status ourselves, we won’t have people giving us those directions/reminders anymore.  At least, that’s what I thought.  My husband and I went to the big, fancy furniture store in our town during our first year of marriage.  We needed a table and chairs.  After much searching, we settled on a round, oak table with 6 chairs and a leaf.  You know the kind…it was the same one that everyone else settled on around that time.  After we filled out the paper work and signed on the bottom line, we were allowed to have our new table and chairs delivered.  As we were preparing to leave the big, fancy furniture store, our salesman, Frank, positioned himself between us and the front door.  “Now folks,” he said, “what you bought today is REAL wood.”  “You have to treat it like real wood.”  He continued by adding, “You have to clean it and you have to take care of it.”  “Don’t do anything on the table that might harm the wood.”  There.  He did it.  We were transported back to 5 years old by our salesman.  As we got in the car, we rolled our eyes and told each other we couldn’t believe what he had just said.  How old did he think we were?  He wasn’t our dad.  How many years had we seen our parents taking care of the ‘real wood’ at our own houses?  Good grief!  The table, the chairs, and the leaf were delivered the following week.  We proudly ate our dinner there every night and carefully cleaned up after ourselves.  No sweaty glasses on the table which might leave a ring.  My grandmother gave me several tablecloths to keep the crumbs and dust away.  On Saturdays, I dutifully got out the Pledge and proceeded to clean and shine the real wood.  Then we had our first baby.  Our table took on a whole new life.  It became the place to dump the cheerios, the juice, the spaghetti, the ketchup, you name it.  Pretty soon with daughters number 2 and number 3 arriving, the table was the hair and make-up salon, the nail parlor, the art studio, and the thinking spot.  After they started school, it became the homework desk, the place where frustrations were released over said homework, and the counseling center.

Most Saturdays, or as often as I could find the time, I still got out the Pledge and the rag and cleaned and shined.  However, as you can already imagine, during this time, we had let Frank down.  The table had glitter in the little carved swirls, there was paint in front of Abigail’s spot where she wanted to get a print of her dog’s paw, and there was a slight gouge where a cartwheel had landed badly.  Yes, Frank, the ‘real wood’ was showing signs that people had not treated it like you had instructed.

I have had the table for 25 years this year and as I sit at it in my kitchen, in my quiet house, eating my dinner for one, I can relive every event, every tear, every project, and every secret, that is visible around my table.  Frank, I spent months mocking you every time I cleaned that table.  I even stuck my tongue out at you a time or two thinking how silly you were for telling me, the grown up, how to take care of my furniture.  Frank, I spent a few years being sorry for letting things happen to the table that you wouldn’t approve of.  Frank, I have spent over a decade being grateful that we treated that table like it was part of the family and not just some piece of ‘real wood’ that had to be pristinely taken care of.

This table now tells the story of my life.  When my children gather around the table with me on rare occasions in their busy lives, we always come back to at least one story about something that we remember happening around it.  This table, while not always treated like ‘real wood’, was happily treated as family.

Our own personal lives are much like my table.  Many admonish us to live this way or that so that we are preserved and pristine and perfect.  The truth is, we live lives that cause us scars and scrapes, dings and dents, glitter in the creases.  When you truly live your life the way our heavenly Father created us to live, you show your wear and tear.  I believe that God looks on us in our weathered state and smiles.  He loves to see that we have put His creation to good use.  So, friends, use your table, use your life.  Make memories and milestones.

Waiting on Ellen

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Okay, raise your hand if you’ve ever daydreamed about being on the Ellen DeGeneres show and she calls YOU up to the stage.  In your daydream YOU receive the make-over/new house/new car/mortgage pay-off/etc…  Please tell me I’m not the only one.  That’s all well and good as long as we don’t start believing that’s going to have to happen for our situation to improve.  If X happens, then I’ll finally be out of debt.  If X happens, then I’ll finally be happy.  If X happens, then I can start helping other people.

I watch the non-famous people sit down on her couch or take her phone call from their own couch and they scream for all to hear.   Sometimes they answer their door to see her helpers broadcasting their reaction.  I picture it being me.  Except recently I have decided that it doesn’t need to be me.  If Ellen comes calling in any form, I’ll be so excited that I’ll scream and cry and probably pee my pants.  However, if she doesn’t, I’ll work on a plan to pay my bills and save something.  Anything.  I’ll work on loving how I look, how I sound, how I feel, and how I am, so that I’ll be happy.  Happy with me.  Not the me that’s waiting on someone else but the me that is smart and beautiful and loving and blessed.  I’ll work on finding a way to be kind to strangers and friends and family every single day.  Not just the days when I feel like I have a little extra money.  Days when I feel like I have nothing.  Those are the days when I can be the most help because then I can truly give of myself.

The one I should be waiting on, the one I am waiting on is my holy Father.  He has the power to do so much more than any earthly person.  He is the reason I get up every morning.  He hears me cry when things are falling apart.  He hears me shout when my excitement bubbles over.  He also should be the one who hears my thanks and praise at all times.  He should be the one who hears that His Will and not my wants are what I desire.  Instead of putting the things of this world first and waiting on them to make all my dreams come true, I will put Him first and He will give me the life I couldn’t even dream up.

So, while I’d really like to meet Ellen one day, I’m also coming up with a new daydream.  In this new dream, I’m sitting in her audience watching someone else on that stage, on that phone, and at that door.  I’m cheering for them and crying tears of joy over their new blessings.  I’m so happy to know my God sees the greatest need.  Not just the greatest want.

The Huddle

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On my way home from work each day, I pass what used to be a church.  Out in front, 2 years ago, they had displayed a large nativity scene complete with a wooden stable.  As the Christmas season ended, the figures of Mary and Joseph and the kings and a shepherd or two were pushed together.  Thus started The Huddle.  The church has since moved on, hopefully to a new location, but they left the holy family behind.

Every day I saw these key players in my faith huddled together but what where they talking about?  I made up story after story.  I called a friend who plays college football and asked what exactly goes on in a real huddle.  He said, “It’s usually just the quarterback getting the plays from the sideline and telling us real quick.  If there’s a little break we will talk about what we all need to do.  So everyone CAN talk but there usually isn’t much time because of the play clock.”

Now that I know what goes on in  a regular, football huddle, let’s figure out what’s going on in the Holy Huddle.  First, the QB has to be Mary.  She’s the one getting the plays from the Heavenly sideline.  The omnipotent coach, God, has said there’s not much time and they need to make this play count.  It will be one of the most important plays ever.  Joseph is our center and he is getting Mary exactly what she needs and blocking for her while she’s getting ready for the play of a lifetime.  The other players are all doing their parts and agreeing that this is the right thing to do.  The kings are our receivers and they’re going to run a fake pattern after the huddle breaks.  They want to draw attention away from midfield because Herod, the coach of the other team, really wants an interception.  The shepherds and animals crowd around to buy our QB some time until she barks out, “Bethlehem!”  Then, there He is.  Our faith, our hope, the light of the world has Touch(ed) Down.  The play has been called, executed to perfection, and now we win.

I’m keeping my eye on the huddle I pass everyday.  They are getting ready to remind me, once again, that I am saved.

Unlimited Refills

I remember going out to eat as a kid.  How special was that?  The only problem was the drink.  You got one chance, one shot, one cup.  I was allowed to order a Coke but only on those rare occasions.  The cup would come, the straw would be sinking down to the depths of that fizzy treat, and out would come the admonishment that every kid still dreads to this day, “Don’t drink all of that before your dinner comes because you’re not getting any more.”   Back in the old days, restaurants would bring you one drink and if you wanted refills your parents would have to pay for them.  The only thing that was free was the water.  Who wants plain old water?   Ick.  As Charlie Brown said, “ARGH!”  What would happen then?  I would drink just a sip and then, like a kid possessed, I’d have it drained just as the dinner was arriving.

Well, kids today have never experienced that trauma because now there are restaurants where you go back for unlimited refills yourself or where your server frequents your table asking, “Would you like a refill?”  So not fair!  Why did my generation have to walk all the way across the room to change the TV channel AND only get one cup of syrupy goodness at a sit-down restaurant?

Aside from the obvious comments I could make about calories and weight gain and the state of our bodies today, I am so grateful that unlimited refills have been the norm for all time from our Father in Heaven.  Drinking deeply of my Father’s love will never result in the slurping of the straw at the bottom of the ice-filled cup.  Instead, it results in my Jesus asking me if I want a refill.  Forever.  The choice is mine.  Of course, I do!  Some people think that they aren’t worthy of those unlimited refills.  Some people don’t understand and walk away after a few sips.  What I have learned is to keep saying, “Yes!”  Bring on the refills on compassion, on providence, on care, on faith, on hope, and on the best one of all, love.  Thank You, God, for always refilling my cup as long as I come to You and ask for more.

Enemy Territory

I may not live on the front lines of the war-torn Middle East but I, like every other human being, live in enemy territory.  The enemy?  Satan.  He attacks in whispers, in shouts, and every possible delivery in between.  Some of these attacks are subtle.  You might not even make the association.  Some attacks are a bold, brazen, broad daylight drive-by.  When we recognize the attack, we build up our defenses.  We put on the armor of God.  We fight!  But what happens when it’s a sneak attack?  We must recognize it first which is sometimes an almost impossible task.  We need our friends, our loved ones, and our prayer warriors to point out what we cannot see.  Sometimes, through prayer and persistence, God makes it abundantly clear.

I’ve been hit with a sneak attack lately that related to this very blog.  I have been feeling the call to write.  I’ve felt it my whole life and always enjoyed the physical act of writing letters to people, writing my ideas down, scripting conversations so that I could read into them a little more, but recently a bigger urge has been washing over me.  God has laid it on my heart to put my thoughts down where they can be of use instead of just traipsing around in my head.  I think the story of my writing is the stuff for another telling but now let’s just say, He was insisting.  I was doing a lot of lip-service about getting started and acknowledging the call but that’s where my participation stopped.  I was attacking myself.  I wondered, loudly, why anyone would want to read my thoughts.  I wondered how my writing could possibly be entertaining or moving enough to mean anything to anyone other than me.  The enemy was cheering me on from the sidelines.  Finally, I could stall no more.  I knew my time had come.  I needed and wanted to write.  Que the enemy…The bill for our internet services grew outrageously out of control until service was cancelled.  Do you hear the snicker behind the quiet deed?  The enemy knew it would only take a flimsy excuse like that to sideline my momentum.

With my resolve beginning to grow, I knew I only needed my word-processing software and not the whole world wide web.  Ready for this?  My oldest daughter called me and desperately needed my laptop at her house.  Her laptop wasn’t staying connected to the internet to access her online degree classes.  Do you hear the enemy’s giggle as the laptop is handed over?   My daughter promised two weeks of use and then I’d get it right back.  I decided that wasn’t too long to wait and THEN I’d get started…I promised.  Two weeks went by and the laptop was waiting for me to go pick it up.  By then, my youngest daughter had come home for Christmas and was working diligently on her own laptop.  The symbolism wasn’t lost on me and the guilt was seeping in.  As I headed for the car keys to go pick up my laptop, I watched in slow-motion…you know how disasters happen that way right before your very eyes…as the cup of water in my 4-year-old granddaughter’s hand was moving and then tilting and then dripping and then pouring water all over the busy keyboard under my daughter’s fingers.  A mad dash ensued to prevent the inevitable and we managed to stave off total disaster.  After dripping and drying, we discovered that only the 6’s, the t, and the y didn’t work.  In my mind, I was trying to mentally list how many words used t and y.  Yeah, too many.  A call to HP confirmed it had to be shipped to them and would thankfully be repaired.  We just had to wait for the shipping box to arrive and they would try to do this all as expeditiously as possible.  Now, I hear downright cackling from the enemy.  As you have probably guessed, my baby needed to take my laptop back to college with her as soon as we could go pick it up from her sister.  The thing was, I now saw all the attacks.  Everything quietly orchestrated to keep me from sharing God’s word and my, all-to-willing participation to give in to the despair and procrastination.

Well, not this time Satan.  My pen and my 99 cent spiral notebooks have given me the platform to shout out the promises, the love, and the calling that keeps working its way into my life.

We all have our enemy attacks.  All of us.  Some are as harmless as not being able to use our computers.  Some are downright tragic and debilitating.  Many are in-between.  When you listen and remember to Be Still, you hear the behind-the-scenes war that our enemy tries to wage, but most importantly, you hear God speaking His Will over your life.  Who will you listen to?  Who will have control in your territory today?