Introvercations, Polar Bears, and new (scary good) Prayers

I don’t like to overspiritualize things. But I don’t like to underspiritualize them, either.

This last week in Maui literally just dropped in my lap. A phone call from a friend here, a slight adjustment to the calendar there, airline miles here, and a text or two from generous friends there, and BOOM, this girl landed in tropical paradise for an introvercation. An introvert’s vacation.

It wasn’t coincidence. It was a flat out gift from God, affirmed by a generous husband, and addressed to a weary heart that needed time and space to just be alone and just be quiet and just be woo’d by creation.

And boy did Maui deliver …

… like long hikes where I was only slightly terrified of seeing a Polar Bear.

 

… like long snorkels alongside giant sea turtles. 

 

… like rainbows.

  

… and sunsets.

  

… and rainbows and sunsets sharing the show (I know, right!?).

  
… and shooting stars and lightning storms in the same sky.
… and time to write and think and feel and escape all the noise.

  

Quiet is one of the things most missing in my life – one of my favorite sounds in the whole world is the sound of no sound at all.

It’s extremely rare. Especially in the middle of Over Crowded, California. Oh, I mean Orange County. I digress.

So yeah, the sound of no sound – it’s like music to an introvert’s ears. It’s one reason I love diving. When I don the dive mask, the sounds of the world shut down. There is the sound of no sound. Many are scared of the “big blue”, that moment when you are transitioning from sky to sea and can only see blue above, below and all around you – it can unnerve some divers. I consider it one of my happiest places. All is quiet.

I think growing up in the mountains gave me this love for the sound-of-no-sound moments. I remember one distinctly. I was driving down the mountain in a blizzard – in a section appropriately called “Arctic Circle.” My dad would have FREAKED if he’d known how bad the conditions were and that I’d decided to keep going. Absolutely no one was on the road. No. One. Except a young girl in her shiny new Tacoma. Gosh, I loved that truck. Oh, again, I digress.

So this blizzard. There was so much snow coming down that it was what they call a white-out. All parts of the road and countryside were blanketed in a thick, thorough white, and even my windshield wipers couldn’t keep pace with the snowfall, so every few minutes I would have to stop, step out into freshly laden snow, and wipe my wipers clean with a towel.

On one of those stops, I stopped. Didn’t move.

I remember it vividly, even though it’s half a lifetime back.

No. Sound.

None.

The snow was blanketing us in. No footsteps. No tires cruising the blacktop. No horns. No wind. And snow falling on snow is as silent as it gets.

It was absolutely the quietest moment this girl has ever had.

I think I’ve been trying to get back to it ever since.

Because it’s noisy out there. And it’s noisy in here. I’ve got all the feels, and they’re loud right now. For good reason. Like a best friends’ dad dying. And another friends’ ten year old fighting cancer. Like jobs ending and traffic and bills and DMV and ISIS and North Korea and health insurance and terminal diseases and orphans and neighbor’s dogs and babies with tumors and doubts and fears and tears and brown-is-the-new-green and the loud noise of putting one foot in front of the other every dang day.

All the feels: they’re even louder than Orange County’s traffic. And they don’t run on nearly as predictable of a time schedule.

And thus the introvercation.

To you extroverts out there, a week alone probably sounds like hell. But go find an introvert and tap them on the shoulder – if you can find them in their hiding place under a rock – and I’ll bet they get glassy eyed at the idea.

In the quiet, all the feels could find their voice. Or better said, I could go slow enough to hear them one at a time. The ones that are thrilled and delighted by this life, the ones with big question marks, and those that are breaking my heart wide open.

I also brought a prayer I’ve never before prayed … last week in Bible Study we were talking about how often our prayers go something like this … “Please show me what You want me to do … today … this week … with my life.” There’s a sense of duty, of servanthood inherent in that prayer. It’s not all bad.

But there’s another way of asking about how to use our time that is far riskier, far more dangerous, far more … personal. It goes something like this … “Please show me what I want to do right now.” I know, right!? Yikes! I mean, are we even ALLOWED to pray like that!? Is that too, gulp, SELFISH?

But the conversation was birthed in this idea that maybe most of our ideas about God are … wrong. Or just not quite right. Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t submit ourselves to His will, and I’m not saying He doesn’t have plans and hopes and requests of us. And Lord knows I’ve fought Him time after time on things He’s asked me to do that I didn’t want to do. He’s big enough to get His point across when He wants to.

But He also talks about us being His children, not his servants (Romans 8:15). And about giving us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). What does that even mean? Well much of this week was an experiment in that for me. What if I actually believed this verse? What if I actually believed that God could show me what He wants by showing me what I want?

So that was my one prayer – I had it on repeat. “God, will you show me what I want to do next?”

I know, it sounds kind of silly, right? But you know, it was FASCINATING. Because sometimes it led to a nap. Sometimes to a hike. Sometimes to writing. And even sometimes to mundane work and productivity that just had to get done (no seriously!). And of course sometimes to Hawaiian shaved ice – with coconut ice cream, yes please.

But you know what it led to every time? This new glimpse of glee, and freedom, and wonder … because when I asked Him, when I really asked, even though the moments and requests were small, He really answered. 

It’s my new scary good prayer.

And don’t get me wrong, I know that this looks different in Maui than in everyday real life. But I wonder just HOW different it looks. I’m daring to find out. Because I’m going to keep asking Him this question. “Will you show me what I want to do … next … today … this week … and beyond?” I’m asking it in the big things as well as the small. I’m daring to trust that He will answer. And that I will hear.

I’d love you to join me in this prayer. And I’d love to hear what it opens up.

It’s scary. And delightful. Like taking a walk through a rain forest just kind of wondering if you’ll run into a polar bear …   

The Prettiest Taste of Summer You Ever Did See (also, a death-defying approach to the Tart of Death)

Don’t Let Summer End Without Tasting this Pie. Quick, before summer ends. Make this pie. Be your own hero.

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Daunted much? I was too.

(Photo cred to this girl as my inspiration ala Pinterest.)

I mean, it’s only the prettiest pie I ever did see. This is not a baking blog. I am not a baker. BUT YOU GUYS THIS PIE. When I grabbed this pie recipe online in a fluke I-feel-like-making-a-pie-moment, it was basically a jump from zero to hero on the first pie I ever attempted. But it was so pretty. Staring at me. I had to make it.

A normal, prudent, reasonable non-baker might have also paid attention to the many blogs that cursed the day this pie was invented, calling it “the tart of death, a “slow descent into madness” and cussing out the G*%D(*$ rosettes as just one more way Martha Stewart helps the rest of us feel inferior.

I am not that prudent.

And you guys, sometimes imprudence finds the death-defying path. This is such a story. Here is the death-defying way to make the tart of death, and taste LIFE in every sweet amazing summery bite.

Step one, according to Martha, can be found here.

Step one, according to me, is: Buy a pieshell. I mean, seriously, Mrs. Smith has got this down. This would also be a good time to buy your other ingredients:

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1 large egg

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp Chambord or brandy

1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

8ish small-medium nectarines or 4-5 large nectarines

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Step two: Pre-bake the pie crust and let it cool completely.

Step three: thinly slice nectarines. As thin as you can. I find slicing to be therapeutic somehow. Seriously, if you ever invite me into your kitchen to cook or bake, assign me the slicing duty. I am treacherously slow at it, but I can slice a mean, thin nectarine. Hint: you need a REALLY sharp knife to get these sweet fruits thinly sliced, especially the more ripe they are (and the thinner/riper they are, the easier time you’ll have in step four).

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Step four: create rosettes. This is the death part. I mean, really, it’s hell to try and do it Martha’s way. She says to wrap the slices as tight as you can, wrapping from the inner core to the outside until you have a beautiful little rose in your hand. The romantic notion that these slimy nectarine pieces want to cooperate with you and stick to each other in this lovely rose pattern is bull*%&!. I may or may not have realized in this moment that I was way out of my league, and should have paid better attention to the many warnings of those who had gone before me.

But then. Then death died. Right there in my slimy, nectarine-covered hands. Right as I was about to give up and throw the whole idea into the trash-can, along with any hope of ever baking anything for the rest of time, a light dawned. Martha ain’t got nothin’ on this. Grab a mini-muffin tin and form the rosettes in there, from the outside-in. Place a slice around the outer edge, and then work your way inwards. I may or may not have starting cackling with glee as my first rosette took shape.

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And there I stood, with a mini-muffin pan full of the prettiest nectarine rosettes in the whole Country, and I realized my plan stopped there. The whole transfer-to-the-pie-shell-thing was a different beast.

And then I remembered why God invented freezers.

Voila, thirty minutes later I had the most beautiful little frozen rosettes, easy to pop out of the tin and into the pie shell. I mean, could baking BE any prettier?

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If you want the rosettes to stand a little higher in your pieshell, you can also add a layer of nectarine slices at the bottom. But make sure they look pretty, or else they won’t taste as good. Obvs.

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The rest of the recipe makes you feel like a rockstar as you brown butter and add brandy. Yes, all the yums. IMG_5678

This custard-ish mix gets poured over the top of your beautiful rosettes and fills in the wee cracks and crevices in between.

–> Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat, whisk occasionally until butter solids begin to brown, about 5 mins. Remove from heat, set aside.

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–> In separate bowl, whisk egg, sugar, lemon juice, Chambord and salt until light in color and double in volume, about 2 minutes. Add flour, salt, and reserved brown butter, whisk until well combined. Pour over fruit in the shell, filling in any empty spaces.

Bake this sucker at 375 for about 40-50 minutes, basically until the custard looks poofy (technical baker’s term) and You. Will. Have. Conquered. The. World.

Or at least you’ll feel that way when you pull it out, let it cool, and present the prettiest pie anyone ever did see. Oh and the taste … Summer. It’s summer in a pie. Everything wonderful and fresh and sweet and just the right amount of alcohol. I prefer mine fully cooled, refrigerated. And I may or may not have been known to eat a whole one. Over a few days’ time. Don’t hate.

So seriously, go get yourself a taste of summer. And if you need any help slicing, I’m your gal.

Love Looks Like …

Love does win. But I see a lot more questions than answers about what that means, what love looks like, and what loses when it wins. Most days I don’t have answers to most of the questions. But there are five days a year that I can tell you exactly what love looks like. And exactly how it wins.

It’s probably fair to say that the week I spend each year as a part of Royal Family Kids Camp is my favorite-worst-week of the year. You guys, it’s exhausting. And my body reminds me of that with each moment I awake in a camp-bunk-bed (notice I said moment, not morning, because someone did not exactly sleep soundly). It’s hot and dusty and endless hours without quiet. Oh and there’s that pesky little thing of confronting child abuse. I will tell you, there is nothing fiercer in this life than looking into the eyes of a ten year old who has been intentionally abandoned by his mother, or a six year old who awakes each night to the terror of her mother’s recent death, or the stiff upper lip of an eight year old who has learned how to live on defense as it seems the whole world plays against him. But I will also tell you that there is nothing more enchanting than seeing those eyes start to believe they are treasured, and those dreams beginning to feel safe, and faith that someone out there actually has your back.

It’s only five days. But it’s five days of knowing exactly what love looks like.

Love looks like … Preparation. Anticipation.

A hundred+ volunteers gather a day before a single camper sets foot on camp. To prepare. To anticipate. To color. To decorate. To set the stage.

One of my absolute favorite moments of all is when the counselors and staff gather on the lawns just as the camper buses are about to arrive. Signs with each campers’ name are held close in the hands of their counselor. The cheers and the hollers that go out as the bus rounds the corner chokes me up big time. Every. Time.

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Because love prepares. Love anticipates. Love is so dang excited to meet you.

And so it is with Jesus. He who prepares a place for us (1 John 14:3), who prepares a table before me in thIMG_9852e presence of my enemies (Ps. 23:5). This year, I got to help set up the tea party table. Anything whimsical will do. Throughout the week, I know that each camper will don a silly dress-up costume and talk with a British accent, and we will say “when in doubt, pinkies out” more times than I can count.

Their enemies – both the ones inside and the ones that are waiting for them at “home” – don’t go away. But still I set the table. And I see my God in this. Preparing tables for me in the midst of my enemies. And moreso, preparing a Kingdom. One that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

Love looks like … Anger. Wrath.

Surprised? Me too. See, I’ve read “the love passage”. I know that it’s patient and kind and long-suffering. But it’s also angry. Not forever (Jeremiah 3:12), but I gotta say that I kind of like a love that can get angry.

Some people express their anger towards inanimate objects. I may or may not have uttered words of scorn and hatred towards my computer, slow internet connections, bad phone reception, and general technology this week, only to realize that really I wasn’t angry about any of those things, but about the unbelievably helpless feeling one has when an eight-year-old wears a diaper to bed.

Love gets angry. Thank God. Literally. Because you know what, I like a God who says his wrath is poured out against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. I know there are a lot of debates about what’s ungodly and unrighteous. But those debates expire in the face of child abuse.

I’m also grateful that wrath isn’t our destiny. Two years ago, I spent months and months wrapped up in anger. Deep, intense, bitter anger. Coming from deep, intense hurt. I was confused, fearful, and felt tossed away and discarded from a place that had felt safe. You guessed it: from a Church. You guys, I’ve never known such disorienting anger before.

Months later, I stepped foot back in that same Church. I would have said my anger had dissipated. A little, at least. The minute I crossed the threshold, I knew it hadn’t. And all I wanted was to be right about it. To be allowed to be angry. To hold my arms tight across my chest and say “nuh-uh, we aren’t going to be friends.” And I really didn’t want to hear one more Christian-ese-quote about getting better instead of bitter. See, I expected God to say what I had heard a lot of Christians say. He didn’t. Instead, He said, “Me too. I’m angry too.” He says that, you know, when one of His kids has been hurt. He gets real mad.

But then a Pastor took the stage and started talking about the Cross. How the wrath of God, while right, while righteous (yesssss, I’m listening … I know all about righteous wrath), was collected and poured out at the Cross. And you know, I feel real good about that when I’m shielded by that Cross as anger or frustration is cast at me. But when I’m doing the hurling, when the insults are on the tip of my tongue and the rotten fruit is in my grasp, it’s real hard to think of Christ’s cross shielding them.

Feeling that anger, giving space to all the feels, even the uncomfortable ones, is a big part of understanding God’s heart. Towards us, for us, and with us. A God who is fierce enough to get angry. But also gracious enough to collect all of the world’s wrath and let it break HIM instead of us.

Love looks like … Celebration.

One time we got a puppy. You can read more about that here. She’s taught me a lot about celebrating. Because, see, when you spend thousands of dollars on a dog’s knee surgery, and then months recovering not only from the surgery itself but also being “that girl” who sacrificed her credit card at the vet’s altar, when you’ve sat in the vet’s office judging all those that came in wearing matching scarves with their cat (not a joke) and carrying dogs on purple pillows (also not a joke) only to realize that the only thing separating you from them is one degree of crazy … well, when that becomes part of your story, so does celebration. Because dang it, every time this pup runs after a ball or chases me down the beach, I celebrate. I celebrate the heck out of every step she takes. I know how much they cost.

So at camp, there’s this thing we call “The Variety Show”. Think talent show, but intentionally substitute the word ‘variety’. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some real talent too, but mostly variety. Any camper can get up on stage and do any act they want. Tell a joke. Sing a song. Build a human-pyramid. Every camper is encouraged to participate. None is required to.

Our job is simple. To celebrate. And I’m talking scream-like-a-banchee-whoop-and-holler when someone hits the last note of their song no matter how off key it was. And we mean it. Because it’s not about the act. It’s about the actor. It’s about saying “You, YES YOU, are worth jumping up and down like a crazy person for.” If you’ve ever heard the song ‘Undignified’, you may have, like me, thought it rather ironic that most churches sing it in a very dignified manner, carefully enunciating each syllable of “I will be-come ev-en more un-dig-ni-fied than this.” My God, I sure hope so.

But at camp, we really do get undignified. Nothing makes your heart swell faster than watching grown men (most of whom wear business suits 51 weeks out of the year) get up and dance to the tunes of a ten-year-old “rock band.” Nothing.

I can’t help but wonder whether it’s what God means when He says He will “rejoice over you with gladness … and exult over you with loud singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

Because love celebrates. Love celebrates because love knows what it costs. Love celebrates because it’s not about the talent, but the variety.

And Love looks like … more.

There’s always more. I mean, really, I can’t tell you how much I love the people who spend five days each year of their own vacation time and their own money to come and give it away here. It’s not just family for the kids. These volunteers are also my family. I would fight for them. And I don’t even know most of their last names.

Still, it’s just five days. And as much as I love what can be accomplished in that wee week, I leave every year with that tug that there’s more. And it looks so very different for everyone. I’ve shared before about the statistics that moved me out of my seat and broke my hard candy shell. Those still move me. I mean, really, I’d love to put this camp out of business. And really, that’s so very doable. Not easy, but doable. I think this generation could be the one to end the world’s orphan crisis. Or at least severely disarm it. The orphaned population is at the root of just about every social justice issue that haunts us.

At camp we give out pins, little “badges” for the kids to collect as they do activities like ziplining, swimming, hiking, etc. Little mementos to say “yeah, you did that.” One of the pins is a ‘good deed pin’, a way for their selfless good deeds to be acknowledged and rewarded, everything from showing kindness to a younger camper to busing the table for one of the senior volunteers. It’s unscripted, and the good deeds abound.

But this, this orphan care crisis is not about good deeds. It’s not about collecting badges and pins. For the Christian, it should forever and foremost be an outflow of God’s heartbeat, His DNA, because He describes Himself as an adoptive father. One who has cared for orphans. Us. You and me. God says He gives us the “spirit of adoption” so that we can call him Daddy. We are rescued in order to rescue. Anything else is just empty and dumb. And will last about as long as a good deed pin.

And “rescue” takes all kinds of shape and form. There’s no automatic prescription and there are great minds and hearts around the world debating the best ways to help without hurting. So I don’t know what it looks like for each one of us. But I know that love looks like more. There’s more to give. And there’s oh so much more to receive.

She Came Back

You guys, she doesn’t get to come back this year.

It will be my first Royal Family Camp experience without that curly mop of hair.

I may feel a bit lost.

But there will be 100 other faces for Abby to kiss this August. She’s getting in her lazy-dog-days-of-summer now as she gears up to be the therapy-dog for camp week, a role she was born to play. I mean, really, she looks great in a tutu and pearls, amiright!?

Abby at Camp

So we will be back. Again and again, listening and watching for the next part of the Story (mine, theirs, and His) to unfold.

We’d love your help – our group is raising funds to make sure that kids can come at zero cost to them or their caretakers. Here’s the link …
https://grouprev.com/sendabbytocamp

Hugs and cheers and many thanks!

brooke mardell

Last year, I got to share a story on the ROCKHARBOR blog based on my time at Royal Family Kids Camp that summer.  Other true stories from this same camp have become a movie:  CAMP (easy to remember).  This week, I’m making a shameless plug to GO SEE THIS MOVIE, and I’m reposting “She Came Back” to show you a little bit of why I, too, come back each year.  

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She Came Back

Sharing someone else’s story is hard.  So I won’t share her story.  I will share mine, and where it intersected with hers.  It was only for five days, and only for moments at a time.  So you see, I don’t really even know enough to share her full story.

I first saw her name when I wrote it on her bunk bed’s sign.  I first saw her face when she peeked out from her…

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Operation Wide Open Spaces

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Operation Wide Open Spaces:

Step one: Wake up.

Step two: Realize some wide open spaces are missing in your life.

Step three: Pack your bags.

Step four: Enter “Montana” in the GPS.

Now some of you crazies might believe in a bit more *planning*. Me too. But last Monday morning, the open road called our name. We decided to throw our hands up and say “here!”

With tired and cramped souls coming off a whirlwind week of change, we had our bags packed and our car loaded within two hours of waking up.

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And of course the ever-insistent-don’t-you-dare-leave-me-home Abby was snuggled at my feet.

I love me some wide open spaces, but I’ve been living with some narrow margins.

With “Montana” entered in the GPS, my lungs breathed a little deeper with every mile we drew closer. With every new vista, my soul savored, as one taking a bite of a delectable meal that is at once brand new and yet familiar.

Now let’s be clear. I’m not generally a road trip kind of girl. I find them very inefficient, really. And I’m a girl who likes to have a destination. This is true both on the road and in life.

But I’m also a girl who’s learning to be inefficient. And learning to take detours and side roads. Who’s learning to get out and walk in the rain when traffic backs up at the entrance to Yellowstone. Who’s breathing deep of wide open spaces, both on the road and in life.

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This past week brought a new wide open space in front of me in the form of an unexpected job change (more on that later). And wide open spaces are wild.

They have dangerous things like bears and snakes and moose and bison.IMG_6969IMG_6946

And some of the greatest dangers are the ones you know are there but can’t see (ahem, Wolves).

But those wild spaces are also free, and beautiful, and seemingly endless. They speak to a crowded soul, whispering hints that big horizons are not only for mountains and rivers and prairies, but for us too.

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This girl needed a little bit of Wyoming and Montana to make it’s way into her crowded-California heart. My soul needed time. And space. For the talking and the not-talking, the hiking and the sitting, the searching and finding and the searching and not finding and the silence and the big sky and the trees and the rivers and the rocking chairs and the naps and the river floats and the dancing in the downpours.

This space – this glorious, wide, vast, diverse, and (seemingly) endless space, is reminding me, daring me, to think bigger, dream bigger, explore bigger. But also simpler.

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The thing about wide open spaces is that we all need them. Somewhere, somehow. And it’s a rare week that you get to throw your bag in the car and go find twenty million acres of open space. This week reminded me that I need to find/make/create/ALLOW wide open spaces to exist in my every day. Self-care and all. So trendy right now. So nearly cliché. So essential.

Space. In my day. On my calendar. To be inefficient. To be unplanned. It honestly scares me. Which is how I know I really need it.
What about you? When’s the last time you made space for … space? And how do you find it in the midst of your every-day?

Friday’s Rain (Week 5)

While I didn’t intentionally time this last week of Friday’s Rain to coincide with Memorial Day Weekend, I sure think it’s fitting.

Memorial Day is a time of remembrance – of both the losses and the victories. So too is this last week of the Study.

Writing Friday’s Rain has been a tremendous gift – and not a wee bit of a sacrifice – my husband gets big points in the sharing department! Week 5 is now live for download here. The downloads will remain active for a limited time. Thanks to all who have participated in this initial e-launch – stay tuned for more news of Friday’s Rain this fall!

An Open Bible at Starbucks

Sitting at Starbucks with an open Bible is a fascinating experiment.

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Now, let’s be clear. I’m not the experiment-with-an-open-Bible kind of girl. I wouldn’t call myself an evangelist, though I am an evangelical. So it wasn’t sitting open as an experiment, but because this girl needed to get out of her own office and off her own couch and the early morning led me to the land where I smell coffee but never drink it. Yep, I’m the girl who drinks tea at Starbucks.

And really, Iphoto 4 forget that life with an open Bible is becoming more and more of an anomaly. As Ihere in my grubbies and with my laptop before me, I wasn’t exactly screaming for attention. And my Bible is on the wee-side. A beloved relic from the days of yore when we sold everything we owned and traipsed around the world with a backpack. It’s small and handy. No neon sign attached.

Yet it drew people. And conversations. Some that even included the f-bomb. From me. Yeah, that happened. In Starbucks. While I described Week 4 of Friday’s Rain. Read it and you’ll see why.

Most people were just curious. “Is that a Bible?” But the question that really got me thinking was the guy who said “Why is your Bible open?”

 You know, honestly, a lot of times it’s not.

But that day it was. And it wasn’t just open. So was my mind and my heart. Writing a Bible Study is no joke, folks, and while I had certain ideas from here and from there, the coolest thing has been to remember just how ALIVE God’s Word is. To explore it and search it and listen for what comes next before I write it down. Powerful stuff.

And that’s basically what I told the young guy who asked me about why it sat there open before me. He’d never read it. He asked thoughtful, intentional questions. This is a season in my life, you guys, where God is teaching me that He’s the God who goes before us. Even in something as simple (and miraculous) as spending the morning learning the specific answer to a precise question that was still hours away from being asked.

I want to live my life with more open-Bible days. It’s not enough to carry it in my purse. The real power of God’s Word is when it’s open.

Amazing things can happen with an open Bible at Starbucks. You should try it. But don’t be the person who uses it as an experiment. Actually open it’s pages for you. Because maybe you need to hear something specific, or maybe the guy who’s going to sit down four hours from now does. Or more probably, both.

Don’t Cancel the Celebration

It can get uncomfortable, right? Mother’s Day weekend is here. And there are all these rules now.

10 Ways to Make Mother’s Day Not Horrible

4 Things to Never Say on Mother’s Day

17 Ways you Could Destroy Your Church if you Hand Out Roses on Mother’s Day

12 Do’s and Don’ts for Retail Clerks this Mother’s Day

 Could you not? Thanks

I mean, it can get a little overwhelming. I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments and blogs about taming down the Mother’s Day hoopla to protect us non-moms out there. At grocery stores. Amongst friends. And at Church. I’ve got some messy thoughts on this messy subject.

I mean, the day is about Moms. And I’m not one. So it’s not my party. But there’s all this talk about how I should be treated on their day. Wha????

It’s gotten me thinking about how uncomfortable it is to be uncomfortable. Because many of the voices are speaking from pain. And I get it. My heart has bled on Mothers’-Days-Past as I wrapped my head around my unplanned unparenthood. But it’s also bled on Christmas and Fourth of July and days ending in Y. Pain is no respecter of holidays and dates.

And pain also isn’t satisfied with being just the boss of it’s victim – it wants to be the boss of everyone else in the room, too. Pain would love nothing more than to see a room full of people feeling awkward and unsure how or if to celebrate something because it will make someone uncomfortable.

This isn’t a post about liking pain. I don’t like pain. I don’t like discomfort. I’m not the girl who signs up for the gym because it-hurts-so-good. Also, I don’t sign up for the gym for any other reason.

But I do know that pain and celebration can happen at the same time. That they can GIVE to one another instead of taking away. That there’s this sacred dichotomy of grief and celebration happening all around us every. single. day. And if we let it, it can make us stronger.

A few years ago, my bright-eyed-newlywed baby sister and I were getting some last-minute Christmas shopping done. Now, before this story continues, you should know some important details about this sister of mine. She is ten years my junior, surpasses me in all things hair and makeup, is an opera singer and a beauty queen (literally) but somehow not a drama queen. Oh, and she farts rainbows.

So there we were. As we crossed the parking lot, her little button nose wrinkled up at the scent of grease wafting towards us from the local fast-food restaurant. “What, are you pregnant?” I asked, jokingly-because-of-course-she’s-not-pregnant-she’s-a-baby-and-babies-can’t-have-babies-what-a-funny-joke-I’m-making-ha-ha-ha-ha. But then her eyes widened, her feet stopped, and she silently nodded yes.

You guys, my world fell out. I’d traversed hundreds of pregnancy announcements from the time we started “trying”, but my BABY sister was going to have a BABY?

Nothing humbles you faster than the ugly cry. In public. In a parking lot.

And bless it, that was my reaction to my baby sister’s news. It definitely wasn’t the way she wanted to deliver it; it definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to receive it. But holy cow am I ever glad that neither of us had a chance to be fake in that moment. I’m so glad we didn’t have time to prepare or take deep breaths or brace ourselves or plan speeches. I’m so glad there was no time for white gloves.

Together we hugged and cried and wiped snot (our own, not each others, thank you), and we found our way THROUGH it, not around it.

And you know what, it was hard. Like hard-hard. At Christmas she announced their news to the whole family. She made cute little jerseys for each of the cousins, all the littles that make up the family “team”. Each had their number, their birth order number, on the back. It was adorable. And painful as hell. Because with each kid that unwrapped a jersey number, 1-9, and as my parents opened their “surprise Number 10”, I was sitting there with a big fat zero.

But my zero and her 10 were two totally completely separate things happening. They were both happening at the same time, but they were not the same thing.

Celebrating her was not a way of not celebrating me. And we had to learn that. Together.

With the snot-fest out of the way, we got to have real-real conversations throughout her pregnancy. I was honest when it was hard. She was honest when it was hard. Spoiler alert: sometimes it can be just as hard to figure out how to celebrate while someone you love grieves, as it is to figure out how to grieve while someone you love celebrates.

Every day we encounter those who are grieving and those who are celebrating. Sometimes we know it – often we don’t.

At every wedding, there is someone grieving the pain of divorce.

At every birthday party, there is someone grieving the death of a loved one.

At every baby dedication, there is someone in the room feeling the ache of empty arms.

At every Church service, there is a mama celebrating as her son walks with the Lord while another mama grieves as her son has walked away from Him.

At every grocery store and fairground and park and office and schoolroom there is a heart that is full and a heart that is empty. 

So should we stop celebrating these things? Should we just tame it by saying “you know what? Every woman gets a rose today – so no one feels left out.”

Please don’t give me a rose on Mother’s Day. Please give it to those who didn’t get a full night’s sleep. Who have wiped snotty noses. Who respond to “why?” and “what for?” and “how?” hundreds of times a day. Who juggle soccer schedules and math homework and dinner menus like a champ.

Because celebrating her is not a way of not celebrating me. I want us to teach each other that. Together. In my Community, my Church, my Family, I don’t want us to tame the celebration, and I don’t want us to tame the grief. I want to be in a place where both grief and celebration have a chance to play into one another and say “aha, yes, I see you there.” I want both to be okay. Because both are okay. Even when it hurts. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because it’s okay to be uncomfortable. Really.

Let’s trade tame for real this Mother’s Day. And every day.

P.S. Pain doesn’t have to STAY the boss of any of us. In fact, that’s why I wrote “Friday’s Rain“.

FRIDAY’S RAIN: Week 2

Oh you guys, I can’t even.

“It is eye-opening and a true joy going through FRIDAY’S RAIN. A highlight of my day to sit down, work through it and be taught by God.”

AMEN!

Week 2 is now available as a free download HERE. Each Sunday for the next three weeks I’ll be releasing the following week’s study – email subscribers will receive it DIRECTLY in their Inbox. SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL HERE

Friday's Rain Card - Choose Joy 2015 copy FRIDAY’S RAIN: revealing what grief washes away

I’d love to know about YOUR journey through this E-Study. Post thoughts, comments or questions here on this site or via Facebook or Instagram.

Standing in the storm with you,

just name