Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Unexpected Grace

God surprises me.

I'm a mom of two teens. I love 'em, God bless them. We have fun together in general, but I see where we've drifted into a rhythm of life and work which has given us some kind of shortened vision. We know each other well and believe we know what each other is thinking or why we're doing something and we seem to think, act and speak out from that place. Two little weeks this summer changed this for me.

Every year, my husband and son go off to Comicon for a few days. My girlie and I enjoy those days in a staycation we really look forward to. We catch up on things we want to do. Nails. Shopping. Cleaning. We just do what we like and this summer I found myself just sitting on a beach while she bodysurfed. I know this is what summer was invented for, but we do busy really well. We're very good at errands and planning. So, on this particular day, we didn't have a plan to go to the beach. We knew we were stopping for a cinnamon roll for breakfast somewhere, but the shift happened and there we were.

There are other wonderful bi-products of this few days, beyond a rich tone to my skin. Like the opportunity to be somewhere with all the distractions turned off and so I could just listen. And hear the words of a middle schooler who is blossoming into a beautiful young woman. Listen and afford her space and time to share without barriers. Or competition. Or even, a schedule. This year, the week was exceptional. I've been seeing the changes my daughter has gone through as she matures and grows in what has been a (more-than-expected) difficult school year. Somehow, with a quieter sense surrounding me, I couldn't help but notice who she's becoming -- the heart of who she is. My love grew as I just opened my heart and my eyes.

Ah. Peace.

And then it happened again, very unexpectedly, during the week my daughter went off to camp with her youth group. My husband is a freelancer. He often works from home. So, summer can mean lots of everyone time. This week my husband was gone working elsewhere and I was home. So, it was just me and the teen man. He's inches away from being the teen man-with-car. But for right now, he's still dependent for rides. And thankfully, a teen man who enjoys home.

I can't tell you exactly what we did on each of our five days this week. Oh, we put together a couple of new wood chairs for the yard. We took on a couple of other small home projects. Did laundry. Grocery shopped. He headed off to the movies with friends. He prepared the main courses of a brilliant meal, Seared Scallops and Lemony Shrimp Scampi, for his dad and me. But again, for most of it, I found myself alone with my son, just listening. Just being. 

On our almost last day together, we headed out with the intention of going to the county museum to see the monolithic rock that traveled from a quarry in Riverside to become "Levitated Mass," on display at LACMAAs he was thumbing through his music library, aiming to share some good tunes as we drove, he expressed his (always) deep hunger. He's a bit of a foodie so when he said he was hungry for mac-n-cheese, I knew we'd be chasing a specific taste. That mac was to be found in a place about fifteen miles from us, but still mostly on the way to our destination. We shifted. We dined and as we sat, he shared a few more things about himself and then casually noted how very easy it is to just hang around together. Ah. What? Repeat? Did the teen man just say he was truly enjoying just the two of us spending time? Amid this life of: Hurry up! Let's go! Is your homework done? When do you have to be there? When do I pick you up? You want to do what? No! I don't have more money this week! Get your laundry done. Where did you put it? We found time to slow and to listen and experienced the people we are. He got to see me as the not-so-stressed mom. And I got to experience him as the beautiful, kind, interested and interesting man he is. I heard how much he loves so much. Movies, good books, ideas, cooking, the Lord, his small group at church. And when he said, "Hey, I know the rock will be really cool, but I'd love to take you to the theater around the corner. Dad and I have gone there and it's the best. You'll love it. No commercials before the movies. Just three trailers. Good seats. Not like other theaters and we could see Batman together. We don't really go alone to the movies much any more." All I could hear was let's go together. And we did. 


The movie was great. He'd seen it a couple of times and was happy to point out nuances as he ate a Milk Dud.

The next day we welcomed Sissy back home from her trip and while it's only been about fifteen hours there seems to be a uncommon peace among us. I know we all feel it. And I know the source. The God of Peace didn't just provide the peace we pray for. He provided the opportunity to experience life differently, right here at home. To regain the peace that come from knowing and experiencing the people you love. The peace emanates from me because God's gift of time and vision has changed me.

I didn't see it coming and I couldn't be happier.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grace in a cake.

There is Grace in baking and so much Grace in the last couple of days.

I've been challenged a lot lately. A lot. An example would be my Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday progression.

Tuesday I found that my pooch, a beautiful, noble German Shepherd boy was suffering with his reacting-to-summer skin. Off to the vet. We traded a big sum of credit card debt for a lot of different pills and prepared to take him off for a special bath at the groomer's to help him heal. Take my money, help my pup.

The next day, my Dear dropped him off for grooming (nearly 90 pounds Just Says No to water) as I headed to work and summer school and a coffee date with my both kiddos. I dropped her at school, him and the coffee date and went to work. When I picked her up we stopped for her lunch, a burger through a drive-thru where I noticed a fair amount of steam coming off my engine. After a couple of hours waiting for a tow truck (my vehicle requires a flatbed tow, for which you wait), the lovely man at the repair shop fixed the broken hose and sent me off. Both kiddos managed to get to their music lesson and back to my office just fine.

We came home with the clean dog in tow to find our house filled with natural gas. The smell was horrible. And the house was completely closed up with air conditioning on so we really got it. After opening the house up and calling the Gas Company, who fixed the detached hose and relit the broiler pilot, we realized how amazing it was that our dog was gone for the day. Grace.

And then, the day of requests followed. Work, home, a ride to the mini golf place and a ride for the friend, get the ingredients, bake the cake, pick the mini golfers up, grab the decorating tools, decorate the cake, have dinner and then, "Hey Mom, can we get the stuff for Monkey Bread? I'd like to take it for the last day of summer school." She forgot to say: along with the birthday cake we are baking.

The miracle, for me, is that none of it ruffled my feathers, got to me, made me crabby or even got that little shot of adrenalin I'm all too familiar with. None of it. It came and went in stride. And some of it I enjoyed. Time with one the other of my kids, a creative moment and that moment, when what looked like it could be smoke and turn to flame became simply a delay in my day. That's God. That's the changing of a heart. The transformation we all seek after.

Blessings and grace.

For cake details click here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

To my son

I have lots to say to the boy-turning-man we are raising.

All I need to say is within Ann Voskamp's blog post today.

I will be quiet for now.

Monday, July 9, 2012


"So we're not giving up. How could we? Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without {God's} unfolding grace."

2 Corinthians 4:16, The Message

I read this spiritual journal, Weavings. I enjoy it tremendously. Over the years, there have been volumes which have arrived, one in particular, that I could not let go of. God met me in the pages and spoke directly to the concern of my heart at the moment.

So, last Friday night, my beautiful friend, Beth and I had an experience of God we'll not forget. A few weeks ago we thought we'd invited each other for coffee and chai and instead, He'd called us to the table. The stirrings of our hearts spoke to each other and we sat in Starbuck's writing out the outline for a Bible Study for our girls. We need to, want to, desire deeply to help them to understand how to hear God and to seek His choices for them.

I went home and meandered around the interwebs and found our outline in a study. Published. Ready. Line for line. Right there.

And Friday night when we met and started the course, we learned more about what He's doing as we spoke and lead together, unpracticed, with great ease. When the girls went off to buy groceries, my friend shared about how she'd lost heart for a while. How she'd felt like she was walking without hope. Discouraged. And God put speaking about Him in front of her. He walked into her house and said, "Come on my dearest one, I have a surprise for you." We both felt and heard so clearly that we're to be engaged in His world, His creation, His business.

I like this about God. He doesn't really want to teach me all of this life application business. He wants me to see where He's working and become engaged.

Then Sunday, as I rested on the couch I picked up Weavings and read a couple of poems referenced in the first article. This one struck me deeply:

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with the light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Is it not the perfect reminder that we need not lose hope. The grass grows. The sun breaks through and our faithful Father God is working. Around. Within. Always.

The invitation comes when we are truly hungry.

And the cover of Weavings for volume 27, number 4? Simply this:

Do not lose heart

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What love looks like

Recently, it's been quite obvious to me and a couple of my friends that God is moving in a new direction.
He's moving me.
And I don't always move as quickly as He might want me to move.

But this is impetus to move. To care. To demonstrate love. Love like this. The humble kind that moves because you must move.


God wants us to know and do His will. He wants us to know what He reveals and share this impossibly possible good news.

I'm up to the task and I thank Him everyday for people like Francis Chan who don't take the calling lightly and who encourage me to pick up and use the gifts God is bestowing daily.