Thursday, May 31, 2012

Status Updates

I haven’t had a date with my blog the way I’ve been pining for lately, but I have been updating my Facebook status regularly. I decided to post some of my recent status updates to give a glimpse into my life. Besides, some of my non-Facebook friends might like to know what’s been going on in my life!

  • It's raining. What a GREAT day for curly hair and a little boy's answered prayer! (5/31/12)
  • Jackson's bedtime prayer: "God, please help Mommy have her hair curly tomorrow. Amen." I wore my hair straight today. Apparently he prefers curly! Guess I'm gonna need to answer some prayers tomorrow. (5/30/12)
  • If God doesn't have summer ripened peaches in heaven, I'm gonna have to ask Him to rethink paradise for me. (5/30/12)
  • ‎"Food additives and condiments... not preservatives." [A quote from European Vacation] (5/25/12)
  • Leaving so soon?! Goodbye Florida! :( I'll try not to whine. (5/23/12)
  • ‎'Tis so sweet... (5/17/12)
  • One of the first times I ever attended The Crossing, I saw a video of baptisms just like this. I felt God whispering to my heart as I watched these people at this church truly celebrate God's love. Back then, I didn't quite understand grace or redemption or even the fact that God might want me for more than just a once-a-week obligatory visit with Him. But I knew by watching a video like this that there was something deeper out there, and I knew I had to find it. This video shows our 2011 baptism celebration. Oh, joy! (5/14/12)
  • Highlight of my day so far: making silly faces with a little boy in the car beside me. It makes traffic so much more fun!
    And it's a reminder that I keep becoming more and more like my mother. Before I know it, I'll be calling "Howdy Doo! How are you?!" to strangers. Oh, lawd! (5/14/12)
  • After a work day at Strong Tower Ranch with the Outreach team from The Crossing, I did a full-body check on my girl for ticks. I thought of my friend DeAnne, wishing Lyme Disease didn't exist. Thank you for inspiring me to keep a better eye on my family's health, DeAnne! (5/12/12)
  • Learning about Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity tonight at church. There are cool stations set up with each religion's holy texts and symbols. I love that my church doesn't shy away from questions. (5/7/12)
  • There's nothing like an hour in a crowded airport to remind me of humanity's desperate need for a Rescuer. (5/6/12)
  • Saying goodbye to ATL. Great worship at Buckhead Church, then lunch with one of my long-time friends. It's been a good weekend! (5/6/12)
  • Toured my old house yesterday and today I get to tour my old stomping grounds. It's a great day for a reunion! (5/5/12)
  • Someone please tell me why the Atlanta airport has mechanical trash cans. (5/4/12)
  • Ready for takeoff! Can't wait to arrive in ATL for a weekend adventure with my sugar, and catching up with old friends. Yeehaw! (5/4/12)
  • She rode the bus and on the way to school, asked Jesus to be her Forever Friend. That happened two years ago today. Happy anniversary to my baby girl! (4/30/12)
  • Here we go! One last week of planning before my 20th high school reunion. I'm looking forward to going home AND seeing some great old friends! (4/28/12)
  • Happy wedding day to my friends Steve and Amanda. I can't wait for the festivities to start! And I'm so lucky that my friend Michael trusts me enough to allow me to be his second shooter again. Love and photography are two of my favorite things. It's going to be a fantastic day! (4/27/12)
  • Six glorious hours: no mommying, no wifering, no employeeing. Just me as me! Don't interrupt unless the house is on fire. (4/26/12)
  • I'm hugging my kids a few extra minutes longer this morning. Life can change so suddenly. (4/25/12)
  • The highlight of my day so far is hearing my five-year-old belt out these lyrics: "Oh, death! Where is your sting?" I'm grateful for that little boy changing my outlook on the day. (4/20/12)
  • ‎"I hear these people asking me/How do I know what I believe?/Well I'm not the same me/And that's all the proof I need./I found love, I found Your grace./You stole my heart that day." Britt Nicole, All This Time (4/18/12)
  • I can't wait to end this day and get another chance tomorrow. Please, God, help me feel better in the morning! On a positive note: I just had 2 bites of banana and so far, so good. (4/15/12)
  • Thank God for Facebook. I can look at my friends' race stats to cheer them on in the GO St. Louis race while I'm sick in bed. Go Team Living Water! On a side note, anyone had food poisoning? How did you know? (4/15/12)
  • “It's time to bring this ship into the shore, throw away the oars forever...” REO Speedwagon was on the radio. It's charmingly (?) vintage now. Yikes! (4/12/12)
  • Still wrapping my brain around a fantastic honor my friend Gina asked of me this weekend. It's an answer to something I've been asking of God for so long, and to hear the news on Easter weekend makes it even more beautiful! (4/8/12)
  • The auditorium is full. People are worshiping in our lobby at the first Easter Sunday service at The Crossing at Mid Rivers. Jesus is alive and speaking! (4/8/12)
  • You are so loved! [John 3:16] (4/8/12)
  • First Saturday worship service at The Crossing at Mid Rivers. God's message rang out loud and clear. I continue to be amazed by those who pour their heart into serving so others can hear about grace and redemption. I am surrounded by some fantastic people who Jesus uses to shine so brightly! (4/7/12)
  • Today is very likely THE day they crucified my Lord. I had no idea until I read this in my devotional: "From historical references in Luke's Gospel, we can date the Lord's death to a Passover between the years AD 27 and 34. Scripture also indicates Jesus was slain on a Friday. Passover Friday occurred in the years 30 and 33, with the most likely date being April 7, 30." Near to the Heart of God by Robert Morgan (4/7/12)
  • Jackson asked me this morning when he is going to die. We talked about it and what happens after death. When I told him that he'll get to meet Uncle Jackson, Steeley, and Grandmama finally, his smile shone with joy. Because of the cross, I have hope on this Good Friday. I get to tell my boy that death is NOT the end of the story! (4/6/12)
  • Another perk of my job is that I worship where I work. There is nothing more inspirational than hearing Easter worship rehearsal while I am sitting in my cubicle. What a soul-satisfying joy! (4/5/12)
  • She asked me to be her maid of honor, so I got to stand beside her while she vowed to be his wife. For 20 years, I have been blessed to witness the growth of a marriage that has deepened and become more committed through loss, deployments, and many struggles. Today, I am honored to say happy anniversary to my best friend and to her husband, who has become my brother (and one of the people I admire most in this world). Congratulations on 20 years of marriage, Mary! (4/4/12)
  • Sweetest words my son has ever spoken: "Can we lay here for just one more minute?" The wild child actually asking for another minute of cuddling?! Be still my heart! (4/3/12)
  • "I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. ...Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life." Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (4/1/12)
  • The highlight of his day was also the highlight of mine. Thirty seconds in the Ticket Blaster made his birthday unforgettable! (3/28/12)
  • OH... It's "Zou Bisou Bisou," not "Zooby Zooby Zoo." No wonder I couldn't find it on iTunes. God forbid I ever visit France. They'll kick me out before I even get through the airport! (3/26/12)
  • Lessons from the front row: 1) Fight the impulse to go introduce yourself to the band. Even though they are so close to you and feel like besties now, there is still an arena full of people behind you. 2) EVERYONE can see you. People you didn't even know were at the concert will text you saying, "I see you!" The front row is NOT a place to pick wedgies. 3) You may find yourself standing when no one else in the arena is. Keep standing anyway. It's not about them. 4) The front row is really loud, but it rocks. It feels like a private concert. Awesome! (3/24/12)
  • I am a failure as a mother: my daughter has never eaten a Twinkie. She didn't know what one was, and thought the only definition was dressing like someone else. Thank God she has a father who is knowledgeable about sweets. He remedied the situation today and fed her the first of many Twinkies! Next up, he's on a mission to find Chocodiles. Yum! (3/24/12)
  • Best way to start my day: when my eight year old bursts into my room saying, "Mommy, come see the sunrise. It's beautiful!!!"
    I love how God gave her a heart of gratitude for His beauty with eyes wide in wonder at His creation. (3/21/12)
  • Thomas Ken died 301 years ago today. "Who was he?!" you ask? He wrote these words: "Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;/Praise Him, all creatures here below;/Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;/Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." (3/19/12)
  • I just spoke to Hannah. She is headed home from the hospital with a closed head injury, which means a concussion. She has a major headache and has to take a break from soccer for a while, but the crisis is over. Thanks for your prayers, everyone! (3/9/12)
  • Prayers needed for my niece, Hannah. She got a nasty soccer ball to the head tonight, and is at the hospital. And pray for my sister Mary, who is an hour away and frantically trying to drive (safely) to be with her baby. God, cover both of them with your protection! (3/9/12)
  • Got hacked today. I have spent the evening reading up on privacy policies, removing myself from lists, and changing passwords and settings. (3/6/12)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Holy Ground

Here’s how I know God exists:IMG_1086

And here’s further proof:IMG_1087

It doesn’t look like much, does it? It’s not much more than a photo of something I did this weekend: help friends paint their new house.

But God was present in this room. It was holy ground as I got to witness my two friends talk to one of their friends about Jesus. The conversation started like any regular conversation. All three of us couples go to the same church. Dan and I started attending first, then we invited the new homeowner friends. They were not interested in religion, but God changed their lives through our church. After a while, they invited couple #3. The husband of couple #3 had a bit of animosity towards God, but he is in the process of melting.

This weekend, I listened to couple #2 explain Jesus to husband #3. I just sat in the corner, painting the trim around a window, and listened to the Holy Spirit weave its way into the hearts of those around me. I am so thankful I was facing away from everyone else in the room because my grin was so huge, they would have thought I’d gone insane if they had seen my face. The whole time I listened, I praised Jesus for revealing Himself to us even in the middle of mundane tasks.

What a beautiful moment I got to share with my Creator and the people He loves. Amen!

Friday, May 18, 2012


Remember this big fat caterpillar that we captured last September?298389_2467977136406_1161655918_4926434_2057664458_n

Last month, I put a newspaper in the recycling pile on top of our beer fridge in the garage and this is what I saw._MDS5193

Our caterpillar emerged from his cocoon! It only took him six and a half months, but it was worth the wait._MDS5324

Pete the Polyphemus moth (as we named him) was glorious and gorgeous in every single way._MDS5276

We know for sure he is a male, because of his bushy antenna. Male polyphemus moths have bushy antenna so they can detect the pheromones that females emit for mating._MDS5341

The sad news is this: once eclosion (hatching) is complete for a polyphemus moth, they live only about a week._MDS5245

That means our guy didn’t live long after these photos. It’s sad to think it took months of darkness for him to have such a short time to spread his wings. We should keep that in mind as we go through our own lives. Sometimes the darkness lasts a while because it’s when the most important transformations occur. Transforming is the goal, the purpose, the journey; NOT the transformation._MDS5354

The time after the transformation is short because that’s really not the point of it all; in the act of transforming is where we find our authentic selves.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

20th Reunion

When I was a junior in high school, the time came for class officer elections. I had been Junior Class Secretary, and thought I’d like to “move up” for senior year. I considered running for Senior Class President until I found out Scott and Manuel were running for the position. I thought there was no way I’d win against them. Besides, the class president is traditionally the one to plan all the class reunions until the end of time. I did NOT want that job, so I decided to run for Senior Class Vice President instead. I led a great campaign, reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon in the movie Election – you know, “Pick Flick!” and all that. Here’s my fancy campaign sign that covered one ENTIRE wall of the high school cafeteria.1991-05 cafeteria - election sign

Yep. I was bold.

I won the election and ended up being the voice of reason with three laid back class officers. I drove them nuts all year long, being uptight and worrying about Prom plans, graduation speeches, and being emcee of special events. Yes, very typical of me.

Fast forward twenty years, and I’m still uptight but now I’m worrying about the class reunion. Because, of course, I still ended up being the one to plan the five year, ten year, and twenty year reunions for my high school graduating class.

My twenty year reunion was last weekend, May 5,  in Atlanta GA. I planned it, along with a handful of other classmates who are detail-oriented like me. I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to plan because we hired a company that specializes in planning reunions, but it turned out to be a pretty rough ride. I planned it from out-of-state, and Facebook made things more difficult as alumni started contacting me instead of the reunion company. By the time the reunion rolled around, I just wanted to Get. It. Over. With. and be done with all the planning!

I knew it would be a fun weekend; I was getting to fly home with my husband – sans children! – and have adult time. What could be bad about that? But I didn’t expect it to be the incredibly great weekend it turned out to be.

It started on Friday after our plane landed in Atlanta. We ate at The Varsity in downtown Atlanta. This is the world’s largest drive in restaurant. The food is greasy and messy, but it’s a staple in Atlanta. The onion rings are the most God awful piece of fried slime I’ve ever eaten, and every bite was simply glorious. Yum!IMG_0993

We drove to the suburbs, close to where I grew up, and checked into our hotel. We had a great view of the Atlanta skyline (far away, but still visible) and relaxed for about five minutes – I couldn’t WAIT to get in the car and drive to the neighborhood where I grew up. We saw my old house, and the gracious new owner gave us a tour. It really is a beautiful thing to see my house loved again by a great family.IMG_0999

We also stopped and visited with some old neighbors, and listening to them talk made me miss my parents all over again.

Friday night’s dinner was a highlight of the weekend for me. We met up with a dear old friend named Misty. She is the woman who was holding my hand during a prayer in high school, when I decided to follow Jesus the first time. She has since become a preacher’s wife, and has been battling cancer for the last two years of her life. Her story is heart-wrenching, but her face still shines with a smile and an inner light. I was blessed to be able to give her a gift from nine anonymous people who wanted to touch her life, and seeing the joy on her face was like getting a personal glimpse into heaven._MDS6506

A group of friends joined us for dinner, and we had such a good time laughing and telling stories. Two friends joined us for drinks at the hotel afterwards, and we had a beautiful conversation about church and Jesus and reaching out to others._MDS6509

Saturday started with a tour of my old high school, which is in the middle of being renovated. It was fascinating to see how the builders are salvaging pieces of the past and building a fancy new building. And this photo is proof that I am the ultimate high school dork: I actually wore my senior class t-shirt to the tour!_MDS6558

The best part of the tour is when four former teachers showed up to say hello to the alumni. I got to see my homeroom teacher (who was also the sponsor of the school newspaper when I was editor)._MDS6583

And my favorite Latin teacher showed up too. She was close friends with my family, so seeing her was like a whispered hello from my missing loved ones._MDS6586

After the tour, we headed to the reunion hotel to check in and get ready for the evening. While Dan napped in the room, I went to the lobby to finish up notes for my welcome speech. I sat alone for a few minutes, then other classmates started checking in at the front desk. One had a cooler with him and before I knew it, we were all standing around greeting each other and giving huge hugs. Honestly: there was such genuine joy in seeing each other again, and I started getting so excited about the evening. I reluctantly said goodbye so I could get dressed for the party and wake Dan.

We went down to the reunion banquet room, and joined the party. At one point, I stood across the room and took a moment to watch people as they registered and walked in. I’ve never been to any other school reunion, so I don’t have much to compare it to. But I will tell you I watched people squeal and hug and welcome each other like the long-lost friends they were. It made me wonder if that’s what heaven will be like. I didn’t feel any sort of stand-offish attitudes, and I didn’t see any people who were stuck in the same high school cliques from twenty years ago. People were happy to see each other, meet other spouses, and catch up on each other’s lives. And that’s another thing: the spouses! I watched spouses have almost more fun than the alumni at our class reunion. We had to break up the fun for a class photo, then we watched our senior class video and looked at photos from high school days._MDS6612-

Then the dancing started, and everyone really enjoyed themselves. For me, all the planning was encapsulated in this one photo from the evening:_MDS6695

It’s my friend, Misty, who was on the verge of death a year ago. This photo shows her alive, happy, and dancing her little heart out. If that’s the only good memory that came from the night, it would have been more than worth all the work.

And speaking of all the work, I had at least 15 people approach me and thank me for all the work I put into planning the reunion. That’s not what it was about for me; I would have done it even if no one knew I was planning it. However, it was an added kindness to have my classmates’ support and encouragement.

As if that wasn’t enough, God blew me away through four separate conversations. I won’t go into details because it’ll sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but I will say this: four people had in-depth conversations with me, thanking me for ways I have changed their lives. It touched me so deeply to hear their words, and I know without a doubt it was the Holy Spirit reminding me who I am deep in my soul. At first, I started to shrug off the conversations, and then I felt God putting His arm on my shoulder and telling me to just sit and soak it in, and let these people love me with their words. I was so humbled that they cared enough to share their hearts with me – at a class reunion, no less!

My evening ended in one of the best ways possible: I got to dance to OUR song with the most handsome man at the party. I don’t get to dance much these days, so this was extra special for me. We ended the night with drinks at a nearby bar, then bedtime at 2:30am._MDS6794 (2)

The next morning, we made it to nearby Buckhead Church. This is one of five churches in the Atlanta area that does what my St. Louis church does: the pastor preaches at one location, and he’s broadcast live to the other locations. It was a great worship service, complete with two baptisms and a meaningful message from the lead pastor, Andy Stanley. After the service, Dan and I got to tour one floor of their children’s ministry and I took lots of photos for ideas to try at my job.IMG_1006

We had lunch with one of my best friends from high school, and had mimosas and delicious pub fries with BACON mayonnaise. Yuuuummm!_MDS6802

We headed to the airport, and I felt sad to say goodbye to a great weekend and my hometown. While we waited for our plane to taxi down the runway, I looked out the window and thought back on all the times I’ve flown in to and out of the Atlanta airport. I wondered how many times I did so with tears in my eyes. I remembered flying in after my brother died, and flying out after my honeymoon. That runway and those ugly orange-colored terminals stand out in my memory, because seeing them always meant home for me.IMG_1027

The flight took off, and I studied the terrain of my hometown with tears in my eyes. I hate saying goodbye to home again. And while I stared out the window, I had a hard time remembering what I was looking at because I haven’t lived there for twenty years.IMG_1034

Our plane climbed higher, and I got distracted by the cloud formations surrounding us. I got the camera out and started snapping photos, my heart full of gratitude for a satisfying weekend and for the beauty of God’s world right outside my airplane window._MDS6819

It wasn’t until the plane started its descent that God broke into my thoughts and spoke deep truth to me. You see, I’ve spent twenty years grieving the fact that I’ll never go back “home” to live again. I’ve felt like a Georgia girl in my soul, never adopting Missouri as my home. Even though my husband and children are all born and bred Midwesterners, I never felt like Missouri was home to me. And then, I looked out the window of the airplane and saw a town that I know better than any other home on this earth. I saw landmarks I recognized, interstates I drive on regularly, and I felt God telling me to claim this town as my home. And, finally, I didn’t fight it. My heart accepted the truth and allowed Missouri to step inside and nestle. I know this is home for me now, and it’s where I belong. By this point, I’ve spent more of my life in Missouri than out of it, and it’s where God drew me back to Him. This weekend was a culmination of that, and He showed me that I am His no matter what my street address says.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


On my way in to work this morning, I was driving behind a big truck with three wooden pallets strapped to its roof. They were wobbling in the wind, and the thought occurred to me that the pallets could fly off at any moment and crash into my windshield. My imagination went to the worst case scenario, and I thought, “Wow. What if today was the day I died?”

My first reaction to that was a sense of joyful peace: I would get to be with Jesus today! Then before even two heartbeats could pass, my mind locked onto the image of my children’s faces. I thought: Jesus, not today. Ages five and eight are too young for my babies to say goodbye to their mommy. What would they remember of me after knowing me for such a short time?

If I were to die today, have I taught my children enough about their Father to sustain them until they might meet me again?

While I know my daughter was baptized this past summer, I worry that a huge loss in her life might cause her to turn from God, the same way I did when my brother died. And yet, I know my turning away wasn’t permanent. I know the Bible tells us that once we are God’s, nothing can change that. So I rest and trust in that.

Still, I wonder what she would remember of me if this morning marked the last time she ever saw me alive. Would she remember the way I wake her before school, lying beside her and holding her in my arms? Or will she think of my sighs and short temper I had last night when she spilled in the kitchen and then grumped at me for asking her to take a shower? And, God forbid, will she somehow equate her bad attitude with the reason I died? (I have a friend whose dad died in high school from a heart attack. She loved him, and he loved her. But their last conversation was an argument, so she spent years thinking the argument raised his blood pressure and stressed his heart to death.)

What will Jackson remember of me? Laughter and cuddle time in the morning, when I force him to lay with me until the timer on my phone dings? (He’d much rather be up bouncing around already.) How vague and unformed would his memories of me be after getting just five years of life overlapping with mine? Years from now, would he smell my body spray and have some slight memory where it could have come from?

How do I make an investment in their lives today that will last until their last breaths?

Because in the midst of busy life and all the tasks that pepper my days, the Kingdom of God – and our eternity with Him – should always be the first priority on my list. It doesn’t matter one bit whether I got the laundry done or dinner made or replied to all the emails in my In Box if I haven’t done something for His Kingdom today. And the best way I know to build His Kingdom is to start in my little home with the lives He entrusted to me.

There was a day when I would have worried about an additional person in this mix. I would have worried about seeing Dan again, after my death. The beautiful thing that struck me this morning (Yes, in the midst of such morbid thoughts, there was rejoicing!) was the realization that my husband is going to join me after death. What a gift I can never repay to my Father!

And, no, I don’t believe just so I can get the eternal reward of Heaven. In my earlier years of life, that was the big carrot that dangled in front of me, and the reason for my need to check off the religious boxes on my To Do List of Life. The childish bargains I made with God have fallen away: IF I believe, then You will let me in the gates, right? They were replaced with a soul-deep awe of His grace for me as I finally understood that He wants me home with Him regardless of what I check off the list or what the “If/Then” pieces of the bargain entail. With Jesus, there is no “If/Then”: there’s just BECAUSE.

BECAUSE God is my Father, He wants me home with Him.

Jesus, help me to teach my children about your BECAUSE so one day they can share in the awe and joy of your grace. Show me how to love them in a way that points to You every single day. Amen.


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