In All This, Grace

In All This, Grace

Our friends suddenly lost their beautiful baby boy this morning. Just two days old. Big, with lots of hair, they said. We were going to make the trip to Indiana to meet him next month. My eyes are red and swollen. I can only imagine what theirs are like. And somehow the sun still makes its trip across the sky and another day dawns and sets, and this is grace. Somehow a sweet young mama is still breathing, even though the breaths sometimes feel like fire, and her hand still finds her husband’s in the dark. And this is grace. There’s no way to understand why things went the way they did. But there’s freedom to ask, to yell it, to groan it. Why, Lord? Why? And this. This is grace. There’s grace in the night falling as the crickets sing their song announcing that...

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Inward

Inward

The stones were cool under my shoeless feet as I took my first step into the labyrinth, Oregon trees leaning in all around like giants protecting the silence of their clifftop sanctuary. I could see the center of the circle just feet away, but the path that ran inward turned quickly out to the very edge again. In and out and doubling back with no warning, the way into the center didn’t seem to make sense, and I wondered as I looped again along the outer edge how much further I had to go. And then one more sudden turn, and I was there. The green-filtered sunshine and warm fir breeze invited me to sit there in the middle for a while. So I did, and gratitude sang through me and got stuck in my throat like a sob. So I let the birds sing it for me. Thank You for...

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The In-Betweens

The In-Betweens

My house is staring at me. A betrayed kind of look that says, “Seriously. What have you done?” At least that’s how it feels after our family’s week-long bout with a horrible flu, followed immediately by an unexpected mid-March snow day. Muddy foot and paw tracks in the foyer and kitchen, pillows and blankets and tissues piled like modern art sculptures in across the living room, and unspeakably grimy bathrooms… all pleading with me to do something about it. Right. Now. The problem is, I can’t. I’m in that infuriating in-between stage of recovery where I can think straight enough to know what needs to be done, but my body refuses to cooperate. It’s hard for a doer like me when reality decides it’s time to just be. And, no it’s not flattering when I call myself a...

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Lighten Up

Lighten Up

I just turned forty, and it feels like a deep sigh. There’s something about beginning a new decade that hits a reset button. My thirties were a time of gathering – living new experiences, picking up pieces here and there to build a life and make a home for my family, taking hold of my own identity and passions. As I’ve entered my forties, I’m finding that it’s a time of laying down – a time of sorting through my possessions and heart to put aside extra things that weigh me down. Having given away or sold most of what we owned before we moved to Papua New Guinea for a time that ended up being much shorter than planned, my family has had a chance to start fresh. When we moved back into our house last month, beautiful people came around us like a rising tide and...

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Far As the Curse is Found

Far As the Curse is Found

We drove home from Ohio the other night. The air smelled like winter, and strings of lights hung like halos around picture perfect houses, but there was something not right hanging low on the western horizon. Smoke. There are these places burning in the Appalachians. Memories and plans burning to the ground, and the hungry fire roars on. There are these songs on the radio about how all is calm and all is bright, while the flames turn beauty to dark ash. There are these toys in store aisles, and there are these parents burying children taken out by a madman on a school bus. There’s this woman, this sweet friend with a brilliant smile, who just heard that her cancer is back and growing fast. And there’s this husband and son being brave and working hard to make...

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Getting Unstuck

Getting Unstuck

My friend Trudie just got a huge double stroller. Like the kind that might take up the majority of an elevator. Which is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago at a local science museum. My husband and two girls got in first, followed by Trudie’s three-year-old, and then Trudie with her baby and stroller. (Did I mention this thing is giant?) The young maintenance man in the corner pressed himself into the wall and stared as I tried to squeeze myself past the stroller’s handle into the one empty square foot of space beside Trudie. I tried. And failed. As the handle pressed into my rib cage, the elevator doors closed on my undignified hind end. Over and over. By the time I managed to turn the stroller just enough to let me in, my friend and husband were laughing...

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