birds taking flight near face rock, oregon

this one is for all those moments we spend with halfway outstretched wings.

these are the times when we can tell by the looks around us that people can’t tell if we are coming or going and to be honest, we aren’t quite sure either.  when taking off and crashing down looks a little bit like the same thing, we hover awkwardly, making hasty decisions when we should consider more angles or maybe being way too hesitant and “missing the moment”.  these are the times we wrestle with ourselves, with the way we’ve always done things and the new ways in front of us, and maybe even shake a fist in the air because we get tired of waiting for answers.

when God moves on your heart, you don’t always make the right choices.  just because you hear Him speak doesn’t mean heavenly wisdom drops down from heaven and saves you from speaking too much, too soon, and too harshly.  just because you see miracles being done and it is every bit as mind-blowing as you imagined it would be doesn’t mean that you’re immune from your lifelong vice of being a control freak over trivial things.  God-given vision for a new future doesn’t protect you from selfishness, pride, fear or apathy, and sometimes we give in and let these things rule for a day, or a season.

but that’s ok.  because whether we are taking off, or landing, or changing directions suddenly, we are moving.  moving with our Father and our flock towards freedom and adventure and a newness of life that might require some awkward stumbling is WORTH IT.  we are moving in a complete drenching of radical grace, with second and third chances, seventy seven times seven chances, grace that carries us through each day that we crash and burn.

once in a while, we do catch that fresh wind just at the right moment and up we go, answers in hand, full of vision and determination, skyline crystal clear with endless possibility, thanking God every moment of that season for letting us experience flight as we were intended.

but if today is not that day, it’s okay.  we can enjoy the evening air and the magic of the setting sun and relish in the endless love of the One who not only gave us wings to fly, but feet to land on when we need to be on solid ground.



sometimes, actually all the time, my daughter tells me to wait.  she holds her hand out, palm facing me, as she pauses while trying to put on her pants.  “wait, mama.  just wait.”  sometimes we are in a rush and i have to put them on for her, while she screams in protest, her independence ripped from her little hands.  it seems everything is a little more dramatic when you are two 🙂

you may have guessed that i’m not what you would consider a patient person.  maybe you aren’t either. not only do i dislike waiting, but i like everything to be done fast. i like listening to fast talking speakers and when people speak slowly, i have a hard time paying attention.  i rush my kids when they don’t need to be rushed and i rush in doing tasks that would benefit from a little more attention.  usually spilling my coffee on my checkbook or stubbing my toe for the 1000th time is a clear sign to me that i need to slow down, but sometimes i just keep on rushing.

so the word “wait” is not something that feels good to me.  sometimes it feels like i am being put off, being made to put on hold something that i deserve now.  sometimes it feels like i am doing nothing at all and that idle time feels like a waste.  funny how my dislike of waiting shows my entitlement and the way i hoard my time.

brennan manning spoke of waiting in a way i had never heard before– and forgive me, but i lent the book out and can’t find the direct quote anywhere online, so this is purely by memory.  he said that waiting was not doing nothing, but it was letting your soul grow up.  that resounded with me deeply– to me, waiting always equaled doing nothing. it’s why i’m always 15 minutes late to everything– i’d rather get a few more things done at home than get there early and wait.  yes, i know, faulty to the core, but that’s truly how i viewed waiting.

so if waiting is letting your soul grow up, then apparently i am still a child, because i’ve gone through life doing whatever i could to avoid waiting of any sort unless absolutely necessary.  there are two types of waiting in life…the first a simple waiting, like when you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment or waiting for your child to gather up their things after school which may or may not feel like the longest 10 minutes ever…this type of waiting has an immediate end in sight, so it’s even more shocking to me when i realize my impatience in times like these.  like a toddler who impatiently stomps his feet when they are waiting for their turn on the slide, instead of stomping my feet i have filled my waiting time to the brim with distractions, feeding the lie that i must be doing something at all times.  i text and email and browse online while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  we call it multitasking, but sometimes it is just a way to prevent impatience.  instead of growing in patience i am just avoiding the feeling of impatience.  i’m actually thankful for all the little things that make me wait several times a day.  it is always an opportunity to practice patience and graciousness in frustrating situations and without these, the second type of waiting would be near impossible.

the second type of waiting is open ended– waiting for a call back for a desperately needed job, waiting for a tax return check to come so you can fix your barely hanging on car, waiting for lab results when your biggest fear is cancer.  it’s the kind that may or may not come, and you might wait a day or a month or a year or maybe even years and years just to hear an answer that you weren’t expecting.  waiting in these situations can make you feel hopeless, like God has left the room and isn’t coming back anytime soon.  the silence when you cry out to God and there’s seemingly no answer, the closed doors in business matters, the college rejection letters one after another, the estranged spouse’s refusal to work things out– they etch deep lines of pain in our hearts and it is all too tempting to throw in the towel and say forget it, i’m done waiting, i’ll take another path.  in these times i find myself not only distracting myself from the waiting, but actually trying to take action to make things happen on my own.  this is way more damaging because once i start to take action on my own, i run the risk of taking credit for the answer (if it’s a good answer) as well as possibly doing things that not only affect my own situation but others as well.  it takes all the weight off of what God will do and puts it back on me so i can at least retain control…and it never goes well.  in the quiet of the day, if i will stop and let God speak without trying to persuade Him that i know best, i MUST trust that His answer will come and that i will know it is what i’ve been waiting for.

what awesome hope we have, that the promises of God are tried and true for His people.   as God enlarges our capacity for waiting in the small things, we can sit and be still, even for 30 seconds, without or phones or tv or books even.  we can just BE in the moment, knowing that while we are seemingly doing nothing, we can see it as our souls growing up, and that there is nothing we can do to speed up or slow down time.  in every second that passes when there is a crucial answer waiting on the wings, i can know that God is at work making a masterpiece that i cannot fully understand, and my piece may or may not end up looking how i want.  but i trust the Creator of time and space to answer when He chooses.

“they who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” -isaiah 40:31



on monday i went for a run.

i came home and looked up a few interesting definitions from merriam-webster online. it’s what nerdy book lovers do sometimes!

RUN >>>

…to go faster than a walk; specifically  :  to go steadily by springing steps so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in each step

to go without restraint :  move freely about at will

to flow rapidly or under pressure

to contend in a race

to function, operate

to flee, retreat, escape

to continue in force, operation, or production

by 5:00pm i was just done with the day.  my face said it all… “okay monday, you did it, you won, along with all your friends. now let me wave my white flag and hide in humiliation.”  winners: disobedient kids, impatience, my spicy temper, disorganization, procrastination, full laundry baskets, miscommunication, pride.  loser: me.  ryan took one look at me and said GO RUN.

i read an article recently about something called the 15 minute rule.  it says that if you can get yourself out the door for a 15 minute run, you’ve conquered one of the big hurdles of running- just getting out there.  i had just read this earlier so i decided i’d just walk for 15 minutes and then come home to try and ride out the rest of the disaster of a day.

as soon as my feet hit the gravelly asphalt i took off running.  walking somehow never occurred to me once i felt the breeze on my face and saw the sky starting to turn pretty.  i didn’t go fast, but sometimes i think you just need to move so you don’t cry.

now, only the ones that really love running know this–the rest of the world sees us and thinks we somehow love torturing ourselves with unnecessary pain but we have a secret.  we don’t JUST run because we need/want exercise.  the run isn’t the end game.

we run so we can be nice people.

we run because it makes us feel playful and it feels good to go fast (well, for some of us fast is just a dream, but still we try!).

we run so we are too tired to argue with our spouses about trivial matters and we run to burn off righteous anger about serious injustices.

we run because we need the quiet in our heads.

we run because we just can’t get enough of the sunset and the mountain breezes and the sweet smell of gardenia in the neighbor’s yard.

we run because we have hidden wounds that we never talk about, hidden fears that haunt us at night and problems that go years without answers.

we run because we are weary parents, and frustrated bosses, and left out friends, and sometimes we just don’t what to do but to just run.

all of this…was me tonight.  i had gone through the first and second cups of coffee already (you know the ones where you sit at the table and sip furiously, trying not to burn your mouth but trying to inhale deeply and figure out what you did wrong and why all of the kids are fighting about everything at once and nothing you say matters). i talked to friends, my husband, listened to music, nothing was working.  i prayed but i couldn’t concentrate. i needed a serious attitude adjustment…there were too many things left undone on my list for the day, and that unfinished feeling gnawed at me.  all of my kids seemed to need mommy time all at the same time and no matter what i do i just never seem to have enough hands or hugs or attentive ears.  there were too many things that needed fixing. and then ryan said the magic words: just go.

and you think about taking a nap instead, but somehow, you find a tiny bit of something in you that just says “ok girlfriend, get out there and just do it.” i wish that tiny bit of something were more magical and dramatic, but, well, sometimes that something is just all the caffeine you had, plus a reminder from your nike+ app that you are supposed to run 3 miles today…well, God works in mysterious ways, right?

so you get out there…and you just go. step by step you just get down the street, and then you just get around the block, and then somehow you are sailing free…

and somehow when you have taken just one more step that you thought you couldn’t take, when you’ve run a little farther than the day before and pushed through the fatigue and sore joints, when you realize you’ve reached your goal and then some and it wasn’t even close to as bad as you expected, then you start to feel something else– joy, or is it peace?

and then you start to thank God you have shoes. and feet. and legs. and lungs.

and then you start to thank God that you are running for fun and not running for your life.

and then you start to thank God that you actually need to exercise, because it means you’re rich and sheltered in a global context, and you are not carrying water jugs all day or working in a back-breaking sweatshop or even having to grow and harvest and grind your own grains and milk your own cows and plant your own dinner from start to finish, praying every moment for the right amount of rain and sun to provide dinner for your family this year.

and then you start to thank God for your healthy family and the fact that even though you lagged on the dinner prep tonight, your family will not starve nor pick through garbage to eat dinner.

and then suddenly everything becomes right again, not in the world but in this moment, and you realize it needs to start with taking responsibility for the things you did wrong.  apologizing for quick tempers and condescending attitudes and unsolicited critical comments doesn’t cure the world of evil, but it heals families and marriages and friendships and even brings peace to your actual neighborhood and church communities.

so…back to monday.   5.03 miles later, yes the .03 counts, after fleeing my shipwrecked monday, snarling and complaining, i floated into my house. legs fatigued and stiff, sweet husband at the table with dinner all prepared, kids happily slurping top ramen and crunching frozen peas.  the battle wasn’t with my kids or anyone else for that matter.  it was with my attitude, the question of “how will you respond?” always at the forefront of the fight.

“therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -hebrews 12:1

little eyes are witnessing me at my very worst every day, and they still love me and call me mom, even as i run out the door in a rush to get a little piece of sanity.  with each run i can practice laying aside my excuses, sore knees, and weary muscles in order to press forward.  to go one more mile, one more lap, and a few steps more.  the physical act of pushing through a hard run gives me a greater capacity to push through in other areas of life.  practicing kindness, generosity, and forgiveness when my situation tempts me otherwise, helps me to love better and more genuinely, and there’s never a time when i am not in need of this lesson.

i love merriam-webster.  thank you dictionary people for recording all the crazy ways we use single words in english.  you know what? i had a hard monday, but i RAN.  i went faster than a walk.  i moved freely at will, without restraint. i ran under pressure.  i sometimes forget…i AM running a race.  i can function and operate again like i should.  i get to flee from my complaining attitude, retreat from my pride, and escape from my house before i do any more damage with my lack of love.  i came home, ready to continue my God given privilege as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.



here’s to words…

words, words, words.  words have always been my soul’s language.  i have always written, since i was a little girl and all my stories were about talking animals and secret passageways.  i wrote poetry that i hid and songs that i sang to empty practice rooms.  i wrote essays i hoped would capture the attention of my lit teachers and essays i hoped would answer questions i didn’t know were there.

then i got tired of imperfect writing.  journals that were too messy or had unfinished entries.  letters that just never said what i needed them to say.  papers that were covered in red marks from favorite teachers and crumpled up ideas littering my dorm room floor.  i used to write because i could, but as i grew up i kept it all inside because i could never find words that were good enough to make beauty out of the pain of life, and it didn’t seem worth trying and failing.

so i tried other things.  i have always loved music, and i could listen all day, but was never good enough at it to speak fluently what was inside my heart.   i have now grown to love photographs.  i love the frozen moments and how they make us feel.  i love what the blur of a runner or a tiny new bloom does to inspire us to want more out of life.  but then there are missed moments and dying batteries and times when the light just doesn’t look the same as it did on that day, and there is a sorrow to the capturing.  i also love paintings, and the symmetry and balance of good graphic design, and the drama of dance, but i admire them from a distance.  i keep trying new art forms, learning new things like wood burning and gardening and nothing seems to fit just right.

and then i realized that words are my first love.  they capture my heart, phrases crafted so perfectly together that the first read etches them deep into your eyes.  words can paint a scene without brushes.  words can cause harm without weapons.  words can heal without medicine and words can make beauty out of thin air.  i went back to reading, and ignored writing, and then something happened.  words became a salve that covered over old fears and my perfectionistic criticism.  God’s gift of words, of the richness of language and how He communicated who HE is through words, healed my ache to find meaning in something that would never be what i needed.

and then words became alive again to my heart.  His words became alive (to me), His WORD was alive (now that my eyes were paying attention!) and active the whole time, and the expanse of vocabulary words that we have to describe the riches of His glory suddenly became like grains of sand stuck to us after a day at the beach.  words, everywhere words, in my dreams, in my thoughts, in my moleskin notebooks and in red letters in an old Bible.  words like grace, redemption, mercy, inheritance, finished, adopted, Abba.  they wrap me up in boundless love and endless belonging.  mercy is even felt right now in the typing, that i can use letters on a keyboard to say what is only felt most honestly in the deepest part of my soul.

here’s to a new season of old words, new words, difficult words and glorious words.  words that cut with precision and words that open wide a field of possibilities, that inspire people to dream bigger and love better and forgive faster.  here are words i have carried around for years without anything to say.  here’s to saying it now.

here’s to words…