Road Trippin’

Road Trippin’

So Songbird has her driver’s permit. Gray hairs abound. It’s not because she’s a bad driver; she’s an inexperienced one. And it’s not for her lack of trying to get more time behind the wheel. I just can’t pry my fearful fingers away from it long enough to give her access. When I teach the little people I realize just how hard it is to drive. Riding shotgun is like, well, staring down the barrel of one. Certain death. Perhaps it’s the sense of powerlessness that makes me long for the real brake instead of that imaginary one I press in the dashboard. Maybe teaching reveals all that’s involved in driving. Songbird thought she was going to climb in, sync her phone, slap on a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses, and yell, “Road trip!” Then we told her she’s got to check the rearview mirror, side mirrors, and keep her eyes on the road…simultaneously. She’s got to drive for herself and every other clueless teen with a permit, the distracted, the elderly, all the overworked mothers, and the pet owner cuddling his pooch. She’s got to stay in the middle of the lane unless she’s changing lanes and then go quickly yet not too fast and remember to turn off her signal and listen to dad—no, to mom—while ignoring her siblings arguing in the backseat. Then she’s got to pretend my eyes aren’t reflecting her own inner terror. This, that, and the other. Simultaneously. Okay. Deep breath. She’s not going to kill us all even though she almost clipped the parked car or gave us all whiplash when she stopped...
Love Letters

Love Letters

Inspired by a lesson from our week’s Bible study, we all took Sharpies and wrote in our palms: The Lord’s. To say I need the reminder is an understatement. You’d think I had other things scribbled there in the middle of my hand, however invisibly—The Bank’s, The House’s, The Children’s, The Husband’s, The Worry’s, Mine. And they don’t easily fade from red to pink like those six letters. They seem indelibly etched into my heart and mind, these cares of the world. They carry serious weight. Sure, some look like holy pursuits. Take my family. God gave me Hubby and the little people, so isn’t it okay to lose sleep, time, and even myself in them? Teaching them, raising them, loving them—they’re each a full-time job. Yet my palm attests, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) They’re not mine, for we are all His. It’s fruitless and prideful to focus on my limitations as a mother and wife in the face of His unlimited love and power. I should seek His plans for their life. Then there’s my writing, what I see as my ministry. Shouldn’t I give it my all—well, all that’s left, mind you—by pursuing publication, encouraging others, spreading His Word? Yet, the letters on my hand tell me, “For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:4) This is His gift. I am His instrument. Worrying won’t get an agent’s attention; fasting and prayer will get His. God knows it all and gives me my all and all. All I can do is write...
January 22, 2018

January 22, 2018

I hate drinking water. I don’t know why that is. I will walk around thirsty all day, in and out of the kitchen, but I won’t pour myself one glass. I’ll even share my thermos with TD (believe it or not) without taking a sip myself. Not so with my little people. They drink gallons daily; we’re constantly refilling the pitcher. And not only do they guzzle water, they consume every bit of juice, tea, milk, or soda we have in the house. Me? I will nurse my coffee until it’s time to take my meds before bed. Java makes my world go ’round. And that leads me to the woman at the well, the subject of our Sunday school lesson. John 4:1-30 describes how Jesus quenched her thirst—not the kind that you satisfy at the kitchen sink, but the soul-deep need that only the Savior can fulfill. He met that need, and she shared her news, leading others to run and learn about that living water. We should be running, too, sharing “the one thing we know,” what Pastor Livingston taught in church. That one thing is Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. This is Who and What the blind man professed when Jesus healed Him (John 9). The sermon reminded us to look beyond what we see and feel, to be encouraged, healed, and filled by the Living Word that lives within us, just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for...
Singing in His Reign

Singing in His Reign

Hubby not only brings home the bacon, he wraps it around pork loin and cooks it for dinner. He works hard to make it possible for me to work hard, too. He’s like the green onions he rooted and then planted: He keeps on giving and providing and sprouting for his family’s benefit. He doesn’t just look good in the window; he enhances the flavor of my whole life. I love me some him. But that wasn’t the song I sang the other day. Tuesday was just a rainy mess, and Think Tank had soccer. Despite all my fussing about the risks of practicing soccer on slippery fields, my recommendations to check in with the coach, my requests to scour his e-mail for a message about cancelation, it wasn’t until after I’d driven through the pouring rain that Hubby realized that soccer had been canceled earlier that day. At that moment, I was humming the “Hubby-never-listens-to me-I’m-hot-as-fish-grease” tune. Hills and valleys. Rollercoaster rides. Waxing and waning. Going where the wind blows. That’s where and how my emotions travel. And God’s got my number. One minute I’m singing His praises, trusting His promises, telling folks about the good and gracious, ever-present God I serve. The next I’m questioning His intentions, fretting about delayed answers, and wallowing in my sackcloth and ashes. I wonder, “God, I don’t feel Your presence. I need you. Where are You?” From gracious to capricious in one fell swoop on my unbalanced scale. Well, God is ever present, gracious, and good. Always. He keeps on giving, loving, and working on my behalf regardless of my moods, feelings, and thoughts—and believe...
Son Covered

Son Covered

Photo by AJ Garcia “Oh, my goodness. It was just indescribable. It was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. I mean ever.” I admit, I turned a little green as I listened to my friend recount her eclipse experience. Her family had driven to a location that put them right in the path of totality. Her view definitely…well, eclipsed my own view from my backyard, during which I cast only brief glances at the sky, and through the trees no less. As far as I was concerned, it could have been an overcast day or the early evening at its peak. Nothing indescribable or amazing over here—unless you count what I saw on television. Of course, it was my own fault. I didn’t insist we drive hundreds of miles, pre-order viewers for the family, risk the crowds at a university viewing party, participate in an eclipse-focused science class, or even take a pair of scissors to a cereal box. In fact, I spent much of the afternoon in bed, writing and watching God cut a cross-country swath on CBS. Even Think Tank did more than I did by taking a push pin to an empty box of Ritz. So, that’s what I got for my efforts. But I still cried, “No fair!” “What about me?” “Is it my fault I live on the outskirts so I only get 75% while others get 97.1%? That seems to be my constant lament these days. What about me, Lord? Did you forget about me? Where’s my healing, my contract, my miracle, my path of totality, my day in the sun? Do...
Grace Retained

Grace Retained

About two months ago, the dentist fitted Brown Sugar with an “appliance” to fix her underbite. She struggled with it in the beginning. The first night, she lost it somewhere in her room while she was asleep, and she came downstairs in tears, fearing Mama’s wrath. (No worries, we found it under the pillows and toys.) She had to get used to wearing it practically 24/7 and storing it in her case during meals. We all enjoyed hearing the way it affected her speech, and we’d ask her to repeat certain words—it just added to her appeal, if not ours. But Brown Sugar was a champ—diligent, mature, faithful, and good-humored. She quickly adjusted to life with it (including our teasing). She brushed her teeth and the appliance after each time she ate. She dutifully wrapped it in a napkin when she wasn’t wearing it (because she couldn’t always keep up with the case). She soon got used to the pressure on her tooth, the dental checkups, and measuring her progress. We anticipated the day when the dentist would say she could put it away for good. Well, that wonderful day arrived at last. Brown Sugar’s hard work and patience made her precious, gap-toothed smile even more precious. The problem now? She’s struggling to get used to life without it! “My teeth feel weird,” she commented after a few minutes of freedom. Later she pointed to her teeth and worried, “They’re hitting each other. Are they moving back?” We’ve had to reassure her that all is well, that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Once again, she’ll have to get used to life without the appliance....