Category Archives: How to Have a Grace-Filled Home

45 Years and Still Fighting…

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45 Years and Still Fighting…

I sat on the very last row, an early arriver for the wedding; I’d only met the couple the night before, and I was there because my husband was officiating.

I watched the groom casually stroll from the back of the room to take his place alongside my husband. They exchanged a few private words, smiling as they waited for the music to shift, signaling the start of the processional. Any moment, the doors would open and his beautiful bride would stand ready to join him, not only for the moment, but for life.

My mind wandered to the day forty-five years ago when my husband and I made the same journey, me on my father’s arm and he alongside our pastor. We met at the front of a room that is no longer a church, but that spot was and always will be sacred ground.

On this night, I bowed as my husband prayed over the ceremony and I was overwhelmed by the gravity of what would take place next. I knew that few in the room were aware of the throngs that were kept at bay by heavenly angels as these two began to make vows to one another before a holy God.

I pulled out our marriage service the other day. Surprisingly, the vows haven’t changed much. If we had known then what we know now, I’m not sure we would have had the courage to enter a covenant that flies in the face of the enemy. We stood before our pastor and about seventy-five friends and family and made promises that we couldn’t keep:

  • To have and to hold … till death do us part – (okay, the service was more King James than James Taylor, but back then there wasn’t much creativity with vows if you weren’t having a hippy wedding) We couldn’t fully comprehend just how long it would be before one of us would die. Seriously, that is not a commitment to take lightly on your eighteenth birthday.
  • For better or for worse – I had seen lots of “worse” and I was sure it would be easier alongside this man-child. What I couldn’t have understood was that sometimes, one of us would be the source of the “worse”. I didn’t know how often and how strong the enemy would come into a situation and attempt to position us at odds with each other, two very different people from very different backgrounds.
  • For richer or poorer – We were familiar with poverty. Of course, that was before we had to think about keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. We couldn’t have known that financial tragedy would strike; we would have to join hands rather than point fingers if we were to survive and ultimately thrive.
  • In sickness and in health – Two young people, strong and healthy, stood before that preacher, naïve and clueless. When chronic illness struck, it changed our lives forever.
  • To love – We were crazy in love with each other. We had experienced it as our parents and families loved us and we had witnessed it in parents who loved one another. We had no idea of how broken we each were and how much God would use marriage to reveal and heal those broken places.
  • To cherish – Webster defines cherish as keeping or cultivating with care and affection. I had no idea that my dreams would only emerge as this man coaxed me to name them; that he would need me to assure him that he was enough.

In the cool of an air-conditioned sanctuary, on a muggy Friday in July of 1972, we stepped into our story.

The humble ceremony and the small reception gave not even a nod to the epic battle we were walking into. I won’t deny that it’s hard. There have been times when I wanted to quit and I’m sure he’s been tempted as well.

We’ve recently been sharing our excitement over reaching a milestone anniversary and the prevailing comments are all summed up in a few words. “That’s a really long time.” Yes, it is.

If you are looking for a how to list or step by step guide to wedded bliss, you are going to be disappointed.

We are quietly passionate. There has never been a great deal of arguing or bickering in this marriage, but oh, there have been fights. We fight hard for our home because we believe our lives depend on it.

We’ve gone to our knees again and again for our family. When the enemy wanted him to give up over human failure I’ve literally laid across his body and declared the truth about who God says he is. He has served me in big ways and everyday small ways with complete joy.

We have realized that our love story is not ours alone; it is set amid a war with a purpose far greater than our happiness. God longs to use our marriage to point people to Jesus. We have seen a glimpse into the value of what God is doing in our marriage, a glorious story of his faithfulness.

We know that love is costly; in fact, it costs everything. Our greatest example is God’s love demonstrated on the cross. We also enthusiastically agree it is worth it. As much as I loved that handsome groom on our wedding day, my love for him forty-five years later is so much richer and deeper. We choose again and again to honor, bless and serve one another per God’s best advice for life. “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (Romans 12:10, The Message)

We believe that God is for our marriage. He has set the stage for romance, with beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, music, and deep desire for one another. “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)

I expect there will be many more battles; we will worry too much over our daughters and grandchildren. Despite our good intentions, he will leave his clothes by the hamper and I will make us late and overreact when he stops short behind the wheel.

I am looking forward to every new day with him, to every sunset he drives me to, to every doctor’s appointment I make when he wants to “wait and see”. We are finding more joy every day and I like to think the hardest days are behind us, but I know that is not likely.

Whatever the next decades bring, we are stronger because we have discovered that we have an enemy and he is not us.

Joying in this journey,

lorraine

A word to my husband, my most faithful reader, the one who believes in my dreams far more than I ever dared:

Thanks for always treating me like the beauty in the love story, honey. I’m so glad that God gave me a man who will fight for me, who has patiently loved me as the veil has lifted to reveal the beauty of who God created me to be. I love you and always will. Happy Anniversary!

 

Photo Booth 46

 

Wedding Dance 2017

 

 

Let it Be; On Messes and Control Freaks

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Let it Be; On Messes and Control Freaks

Hubby and I have been at the beach all week. Vacation paradise, right?

working from the beach

What an office! I loved working in the warm salt air.

Actually, we are both working from the beach…he is doing some work in a friend’s condo and I’m doing what I always do, just with a much lovelier view. That is, as long as I keep my gaze to the East, toward the ocean.

You see, this condo is in total disarray. All of the furniture is pulled to the center of the rooms, covered in bed sheets and plastic. Every cupboard and closet is emptied. Their contents are piled high on every surface. Finding the coffee pot was a scavenger hunt.

Messy Condo

messy kitchen

As you can see, we found that coffee pot – survival ensured!

 

 

I happiest when my surroundings are in order; I’m easily rattled by confusion. This situation, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

All of the televisions are disconnected; the internet signal is so weak that we can’t stream Netflix on our iPads. (Thankfully it’s been more than adequate during the day so I can work!)

There is no cell service.

We are both tired. We’ve had a couple of really full weeks and hubby is as put off by messes as I am.

So we spend most of our “down” time outside. As we should, it’s the beach after all!

On our first night here we walked along the beach. It was beautiful and relaxing. We’ve spent lots of time in the hot tub, as it’s my only option for soaking (there is not a bathtub in this condo…another interruption to my normal.)

I continue to work, testing new applications, with Jimmy Buffet singing in the background. It’s almost like vacation, but it’s not.

Honestly, by Tuesday evening, I was a grump. After a wonderful shrimp dinner, we returned to the mess and navigated the path to the bed. There was no TV to watch and I didn’t feel well. I flipped on my side and fell asleep fast.

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Storm clouds building down the beach – just like the ones building in my anxious heart.

After some rest, some coffee and some time with Jesus, I knew that I was at risk for missing the blessings of this week. So I began listing them:

  • I can work in close proximity to the man I love
  • We are eating every meal together; breakfast and lunch are on the balcony overlooking the ocean
  • The view…did I mention the view? I usually see only cubicle walls
  • Eating the best local burger
  • There is nothing I can or should do about this mess

That last bullet was a “Come to Jesus” moment for me. It was as if he said “Why is this bothering you? It’s not yours; don’t own anything that you have no control over.”

In that instant I knew this week was about more than the view and a messy condo. In fact, just a few days ago, I answered these questions in my quiet time:

  • Are you a control freak? My answer: Yes, I like to make sure things are orderly and neat. Somehow I think that if I can just control everything it will be ok. No wonder my chest hurts!
  • When is it hardest for you to trust God? My answer: When the present seems to be a train wreck.

This is the verse that He gave me that morning, as I confessed that I’m not always willing to wait for him to make things right, that I want to take charge and bring order and sense to everything around me.

Let your unfailing love surround me, LORD, for my hope is in you alone.
Psalm 33:22 ESV

As I write, I am also getting inspiration from the spiritual giants, The Beatles. Paul McCartney croons “Let it be”. And Jesus whispers, “Yes, that is for you. Just let it be.”

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This morning’s sunrise – right on schedule!

 

As I survey this mess, knowing that I own none of it, there is absolute freedom. I lift my gaze above the stuff and I see the ocean. I hear the constant roar as the waves return again and again to the shore. He’s got all of this; I can trust him with my life, messy as it gets.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
Surely you know!
Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 30:4-5 NIV

By his grace, in the midst of so many messes, taking refuge in him alone,

lorraine

P.S. – By some miracle of modern technology, a restart of the WIFI router has improved the signal strength and we got to watch Parenthood last night on the world’s smallest screen. Thank you, Jesus!

If you read last week’s post on my kitten adventure, here is the beginning of her new story…delivered safe and sound to her new momma:

Phoebe and Rose

 

If you missed her story, you can read it here. Thanks friends, and may all your days be “beachy”!

I’m Really Not a Cat Person

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I’m Really Not a Cat Person

The grands left for home on Saturday, just after picking up a kitten that was to become their new pet. Unfortunately, none of us are cat people and therefore didn’t know it wasn’t a good idea to let the kitten wander around a strange yard to use the bathroom before boarding the swagger wagon.

She bolted. Almost caught. Not anywhere to be found. After thirty minutes of fruitless searching, they left without her, a van full of sad children and frustrated parents. It wasn’t the most graceful of departures, but hugs and kisses and reassurances were given that we would be on the lookout.

I doubted we would see her again, but I dutifully posted in the local Facebook lost and found animals page.

The Facebook post filled with helpful advice as the day progressed, most of which was far too much effort for a kitten I was not emotionally invested in and…I’m not a cat person.

I had just spent a week with a houseful of grandchildren I am heavily invested in and I was tired. Instead of making posters and knocking on neighbors doors, I tidied the house a bit and then “cat-napped”.

As the cat lovers had predicted, she began to meow around dusk. We crawled around the bottom of the deck, sure we were hearing her cries coming from underneath. A dish of food was strategically placed within view of a window, hoping she would venture out once we were out of sight. There was no sign of her and we went to bed because I am not a cat  person.

Sunset Silhouette

These are the days that count, the evenings that we will remember. And these are three of the reasons that I depserately wanted to rescue that kitten.

I awoke to the sound of a baby crying or maybe it was the kitten? I peered at the clock.  2:30 a.m. – that was definitely a whining kitten, but weariness overtook worry and I feel asleep. After all, I’m not a cat person.

Morning came; the kitten’s crying continued. She seemed more desperate, crying almost constantly but there was still no sign of her.

Soon her cries became hoarse and weak. She had been missing almost twenty-four hours. This “not a cat person’ was getting concerned.

In full sun it was apparent she was not under the deck as previously thought. I noticed a hole in the dirt, at the corner of the deck, against the foundation of the house. Her cries grew louder as we investigated the opening.

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It was apparent she had run into an underground trench, likely forged by running water from the sprinklers. We’d found her!

Momentary relief and joy turned to panic. Hubby got on his face in the dirt and began to carefully excavate the opening. He caught a glimpse of her but the kitten retreated and went silent.

Meanwhile, I consulted with an animal-loving nephew who was giving advice via text message. He suggested we give her some time to calm down; perhaps she would venture out when she felt safe. We reluctantly walked away, and I was fearful that hole would be her grave.

An hour passed with not a sound. My earlier adrenaline rush was gone and fatigue and a bit of sadness overtook. I’m not sure why, ’cause I’m not a cat person, you know.

Neighbors popped in to offer help and I shared my concern. As we stepped onto the deck, chatting about the situation, she resumed crying.

Her voice grew louder as she ventured toward the opening.

And then, peering out of the darkness, we saw her face! She timidly approached the tuna I had placed near the opening and began to take small bites, peering at us in between.

Thankful for a twelve-year-old to navigate the narrow space, we all agreed our young neighbor was the best person to try to coax her out, most apt to be trusted by the frightened fur baby.

kitten shows her face

We all praised the kitty, trying to be totally chill so as not to alarm her. Finally, she ventured far enough to be scooped from her hiding place.

Filthy, she’d spent more than a day down a dirty hole in the earth without food, fearful and hungry. Her fur was matted with mud and fleas. And this “not a cat person” carefully washed the squirming kitty, hand picking every flea. I cared for that kitten like it was my job, but I’m not a cat person.

Dang it.

I planned to write a warm and amusing kitten story, but the analogy just made a direct hit on my heart.

Stuff happens and I feel insecure or wounded.

I’m not appreciated.

I was left out.

I was criticized unjustly.

I’m misunderstood.

I tend to follow a natural instinct to protect myself by my own means, running into a dark hole of sorts.

I try on my own to find a safe place, quivering and loudly complaining about my situation, but unwilling to take a step toward help.

As much we wanted to help that kitten, we couldn’t until she was willing to come out of that hole.

I wasn’t deaf to her cries; they pained me. I had empathy for her predicament. But she had to show her face and take those few steps of trust.

So often I run away from the promises and reassurance that God’s got me, that he is in control of the big picture. I hide and complain instead of looking to him.

These promises came to mind as I thought about our little kitten rescue and the joy that we shared when we “not cat people” knew she was safe!


But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 NIV


He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Psalm 40:2 NIV


 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14 NIV


 

Can you relate? Where do you struggle to trust him, even when you are frightened by the unknown? Do you long to be known and seen and yet run from the one who knows you and loves you just as you are?

I’d love to hear how all of this landed on your heart, friends. Talk back to me in the comments.

Growing in grace to trust him with my fears and hurt,

lorraine

Kitten2

Here she is, all cleaned up and waiting to be delivered to her family.

When Arrows Fly

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When Arrows Fly

After the call that informed me I was pregnant (there were no at home pregnancy tests – apparently a rabbit had to give its life or some such nonsense!) I waited with great anticipation to know whether my first child would be a son or daughter.

With every visit to the obstetrician I anxiously listened to the heartbeat and every time, he said “Girl”. The baby’s heartbeat was fast and that was the gender predictor of the day.

Shortly before my due date, I climbed out of the back seat of a friend’s two door car and my water broke.

My husband brought a stack of bath towels to the door where I stood soggy, still producing an impressive geyser of amniotic fluid. I waddled in and sat on the only safe seat I could think of, the toilet.

My anxious hubby hurried into the living room and phoned the on-call physician, who insisted that he needed to speak directly to me. Our only phone was a rotary, attached to the wall as all phones were in the early 70’s. I had to waddle into the living room, stack of wet towels wedged between my legs, to face the inquisition.

“Are you sure you didn’t just wet your pants?”

“Pretty sure I’ve never produced that much urine in my lifetime. Nope. Didn’t wet my pants.”

“Do you think you could have? Because, you know, that’s common this far along in your pregnancy.”

“Here’s the thing…. I have wet my pants before. I can’t laugh with a full bladder and I tend to wait too long to empty it, so let’s just agree that I have experience in this realm. This was no accident.”

Finally, we headed to the hospital where it was confirmed that I had not wet my pants. (Insert eye roll and snarky “I told ya so!”)

Twenty-four hours and zero anesthesia later, I pushed a beautiful baby girl (he was right!) into the world. To this day, that was the best work I’ve ever done. At nineteen years old I was a mom; I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the tension of motherhood.

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This is grainy, but I love this picture taken before our first trip to church at one week old.

But I loved my baby and together with her father, I was determined that she would have the best we could provide. When her sister came along a few years later, we doubled down on that commitment.

I dreamed big dreams for our girls. I drew mental pictures of their lives, illustrating my plans for them. I wanted them to know Jesus and I wanted them to be “good” girls, but I wanted all of the things that the world said they needed as well.

Somewhere along the way, their dreams superseded mine. Their lives took the form of their interests, their goals and the desires of their hearts.

I was recently reminded of a passage I discovered years ago. It compares children to arrows.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” – Psalm 127:4

I was curious, so I researched the basic points of shooting a bow:

  • Stance is important. Stand upright with your feet well-planted.
  • Keep a relaxed grip on the bow.
  • Don’t grip the arrow – let it rest on the string.
  • Pull back the string using your back muscles, not the smaller biceps in your arm.
  • Aim at the target as you look down the length of the arrow.
  • Relax your grip on the string and let your fingers slip backward.
  • Maintain your stance – follow through is key to landing the target.

Although I started this Mom gig with zero archery training I can see some correlation.

Sometimes life got in the way and I didn’t give proper attention to the unique character of each of my children. I wish I had understood more about getting to know them deeply.

There were too many times that I looked at someone else’s target. I was distracted by what others were doing, or by what they might have thought about what we were doing. Now I know that none of that mattered.

The picture that I had attached to the bulls-eye for each of my girls looked little or nothing like the lives they are living, but I’ve come to realize that those visions were mine, not theirs or even God’s.

My girls have gone places I would not have had the courage to step. They’ve navigated land mines and treacherous terrain and fifteen passenger vans to fight for and provide for their families. They’ve taken financial risks and gambled their hearts.

It’s not always pretty, this journey of mothering, but by God’s grace those arrows will land.

As moms there is great tension between our longing for our children to remain close to us in a comfortable and safe place, and the desire to see them walk out God’s call on their lives.

This Mother’s Day, I write to encourage you. God is for you and your babies. If you could glimpse into my heart, you would see it hasn’t been easy to let go of my dreams in favor of His plans. But I’m learning that as much as I love my girls, he loves them more.

He’s got them, Momma.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
– 3 John 1:4

Letting go by his grace alone,

lorraine

The girls and I

February 2015 – Enjoying Disney’s Magic  Kingdom with my girls

Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

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Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

treeThe sun was high, it’s beams breaking through the trees; shadows danced at my feet as the leaves and branches swayed with the gentle breeze. Though the air was cool, the jacket slipped off my shoulders, tied around my waist as I walked. It was as if the woods were drawing me in, inviting me to stay a while.

I inhaled deeply; the loam under my timid steps was damp from recent rains, rich with the scent of mud and wildflower blossoms. The river was just steps away, the color of my morning coffee and scattered with limbs downed by the weight of the past winter’s snow.

A plastic grocery bag was tucked into my pocket; it’s the season for morel mushrooms and this was a great spot to hunt. I determined to pay close attention to every detail as I wandered this plot of ground, wild and yet mere yards from a house filled with many beautiful and well-appointed rooms. Wilderness and refinement are neighbors on this Midwest homestead.

I was not alone. My cousin, a skilled hunter and woodsman, hiked ahead of me. I followed his lead as we broke the thicket and entered the deeper brush. I had slowed to take in the details. I thought he might have intentionally passed a patch of the prized morels as a test. He’s like that… a teacher and trainer at heart. It would be like him to set up an opportunity for me to succeed.

Woods collageOther family members went off in various directions. I couldn’t resist stopping for pictures of flowers, or downed logs and animal burrows. I fell behind, no longer within earshot of the crackling of branches and leaves as my companions trekked through the brush.

For a moment, a tremor of panic welled up, threatening to overtake my joy. I didn’t know my way out. While I had carefully surveyed every tree and wildflower in the shady thickets and examined hollow logs and the play of light with the curiosity of a child, I paid no attention to the direction I had wandered.

He would never leave me here, I reminded myself. And almost to the moment, he called out. I responded, assuring him I was fine, moving in the direction of his voice.

There were others in our small group and we occasionally caught site of one another, always hoping for a report of a find.

Finally we regrouped back at the trucks, driving out. We hadn’t gone far when he stopped and we jumped out again, this time walking to the end of a long thicket. “This is a good spot. I’ll clear the way for you to step in.”

Skillfully he parted the thorny, twisted branches and held them back as he led the way. He continued to coach and lead as I finally entered a clearing. Again I ventured off, exploring and searching but staying within earshot of my trusted guide.

I heard creaking overhead and looked up to see a huge log perched precariously between two trees – a widow maker, I would be told later. I wondered how many eyes were peering out, watching me as I was completely unaware of them. There was some calculated risk in this place, but it was beautiful and wild. There was no need for fear, rather awareness of potential danger.

Once home, I surveyed the scratches; they were superficial. Tick checks were conducted by buddies, since they tend to hitchhike in hard to locate places.

Later, as I lay quiet in my bed before sleep came, I reviewed my wonderful day. There were glorious reunions with loved ones, the simple joy of watching a dog work like a champ for a master he adores, and the peace found in a place of worship seated between two people I love.

I remembered the hike in the woods and I was grateful, even thought we never saw even one mushroom. As I thanked God for a walk in the woods, he used it to speak to me about my often misplaced hunt for affirmation.

“I’m clearing the way for you to step in. Just follow me. You’ll get some scratches, sure…but I’ll be just ahead of you, making a way. Call out to me; I’ll be listening for your voice and I’ll respond.

I’m giving you some space to explore; I want you to experience all that I’ve created for you. There is danger, sure. You may get some wounds, but they will pale in comparison to the beauty of walking with me.”

Friends I know he is leading me toward something new. I’m scared that I’ll get hurt. And I might. This life was not intended to be easy.

He is teaching me to think less about myself in the midst of a selfie culture.

I’ve found myself returning to the empty cistern of people to get my tank filled, looking for likes and loves and affirmation that only he can give. I’ve asked friends (while not openly because that’s just weird) to fill me up, to refuel me for service and I’ve come back empty. Every. Single. Time.

It’s not his plan. He’s the one and only one who never tires of me, who calls me beautiful and beloved. He will literally leave the entire flock and come searching for me (Matthew 18:12) as I wander, trying to find my way, sometimes getting lost in the distraction of the pretty things along the way.

He never tires of you. He is waiting for you to call out; I’m convinced he’s setting up scenarios for your success. He called to Peter to step out of the boat, knowing he would not sink as long as he kept his eyes on him!

Your salvation and honor depend on God alone. He is your mighty rock; pour your heart out to him and never fear rolling eyes or impatient sighs. He is trustworthy. Go ahead, lay it all out in front of him, your REFUGE. Follow him, even if you fear a few scratches. He’s got you and he’s got something beautiful for you just beyond the thorns.

By grace alone, I’m following into this new thing,

lorraine

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 (NOV)

 

Are You Decorating a Prison?

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Are You Decorating a Prison?

I settled into the driver’s seat and kissed my sweet hubby goodbye. As I backed out of the driveway, anxiety bubbled up, competing with excitement and anticipation for control of my heart. I spoke a few words aloud to stifle it. “I’m fine. He will be fine. God’s got us.”

I sipped coffee from the Tervis he had handed me moments earlier. The aroma of the caramel liquid mingled with the scent of Polo and I missed him already. Once again anxiety threatened to steal the joy of embarking on a journey I had anticipated for months.

I drove in silence for a bit, considering my penchant for imagining the worst case scenario.

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I’ve never been good at good-byes. As a child, I hid from them, usually in the bathroom linen closet. It wasn’t often that we sent loved ones on their way, but when our Hoosier grandparents loaded the car for the long trek home I was not about to stand on the lawn and watch them drive away. I quietly slipped into my hiding place, where no one was leaving. I couldn’t bear the separation.

I am absolutely sure I didn’t say goodbye when my oldest brother reported to the Navy. As preparations were made for his departure, I withdrew. With every crisply ironed article of his sailor suit readied for packing, my anxiety increased. The world was a scary place and only God knew when I would see my brother again, if ever.

Not many years later, I got married and soon after we began our family. Imagine the joy when we finally bought a brick and mortar house and made a home. I was the mother hen and my chicks were all under my wings.

My husband had noticed that I didn’t handle goodbyes well; more like I didn’t handle them. At all. He couldn’t imagine missing the chance to get a last hug and speak one last expression of love and care.

And then one day he came home with an announcement. His parents were moving to North Carolina. He would be driving the truck with their household belongings and returning home by plane.

Ya’ll, I could not even. I was distraught. Seriously. I was quite certain that I would be widowed when there was either a tragic accident involving the truck or the plane fell from the sky. I was not in the habit of throwing fits, but I threw a good one.

How would I raise our daughter alone? How could his parents think this was reasonable? Why couldn’t everyone just leave us alone in our little bubble?

In retrospect I can see it so clearly; I was a young wife making feeble, yet frantic efforts to tightly wrap my arms around all of my loves and hold them tight. I believed it was up to us to protect our family; in this case it appeared it was up to me, because everyone else had lost their ever-loving minds and thought it was a good idea for my husband to leave us.

I was not being manipulative; I didn’t have a problem with my husband helping his parents. I was genuinely anxious and fearful and wanted to hold my little family together.

Forty-five years later I’m less concerned about a traffic accident than a potentially life-threatening drop in his blood sugar.

But here’s the thing that occurred to me later that evening as I walked into a conference center filled with stunning women, as their voices and mine blended and lifted praise to the Beautiful Name of Jesus. He never called us to live safe and cozy lives. He called us to step into our calling trusting in him alone.

I listened to Jennie Allen share her surrender of “yes” to Him for ANYTHING. I looked around at the vendor booths, filled with women who had started non-profits to support children in foster care and foreign missions. They risked stepping out of safe and cozy because they knew that God was with them in the first step and every one after.

They yoked up with Jesus and heard his voice, “I’ve got this, just get into the unforced rhythm of grace and watch how I do this.”

I had tried to wall us in; my goal was to create a safe and beautiful place for us to hide. The trouble is, those hiding places become “cutely decorated prisons”[1] where we do little or nothing for the kingdom.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand.[2]

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 God’s plan is better than hiding in a closet or spinning out of control over what might happen.

The weekend was absolutely perfect. There was so much joy in every part. He is good and He is calling us out to places unknown to us but known perfectly to him. He will be with us in the first step and every one that follows.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Message

What is he calling you to, my friend? I would love to hear about your faith steps. Where is he taking you? Tell me about it in the comments, won’t you?

Finding the rhythms of grace,

lorraine

 

 

[1] Jennie Allen

[2] Hillsong United Lyrics, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Making Room for Change

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Making Room for Change

 

I really hate to throw food away. I’m not sure if it is my humble upbringing or my overall frugality, but I’m bothered when I realize I’ve let food get past its prime and have to dispose of it.

Recently the out of town grands were visiting and we made lots more food than normal. As they prepared to leave and I surveyed the mass quantities of leftovers in the refrigerator I openly lamented all of the waste.

My daughter remarked that we’d had our fill; we ate well, and the food was wonderful but no longer beneficial.

She suggested that I let it go while being thankful that we’d had more than enough. Good word, I thought as I discarded the old and made room for the beautiful fresh veggies I would pick up later at the farmer’s market.

Recently I was given lots of gently used clothes; they were mostly from the Loft, one of my favorite stores. It was a huge blessing, but I quickly realized in order to make room for them I would have to part with some things that had served me well, but no longer brought me joy. They had to go and frankly many of my “old” favorites were just that. It was time to let them go!

I’m in a season of waiting; I feel like God is on the brink of doing something new, but change isn’t something I typically embrace.

Could it be that God’s waiting for me to make room for a new thing?

I’m trying to rest, to wait and see what He’s up to.

Even as I type the words, I think “How ludicrous is that”?

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Rest is not trying; rest is surrender. Rest is restorative.

When I lie down at night and realize that every muscle is tense, that my jaw is clenched and my hands are tight fists, I have a routine of consciously relaxing from my head to my toes. I release control and allow my mind to let the stresses of life go for a bit…I focus on a favorite scripture passage or picture my favorite place to let go…the beach.

I surrender to the rest that I know I will need to face a new day. I release control of life for seven or eight hours and I sleep. It is during this rest that cells are repaired; the body restores itself from the effects of the day’s exposure to stress, toxins, UV rays and all manner of other harm.

Spiritual rest is only found in the quiet place; I hear him best when I choose to turn off the noise of the outside and consciously relax every corner of my heart, surrendering them each to his calm. It is in this rest that my heart can hear Him speak healing words of love over the places that exposure to the world have been scraped and made raw.

I’m acting on what a friend has been praying for me. I’m free falling right into the arms of Jesus; it’s the only place of true rest and restoration.

I’ll let you know how it’s going, friend.

Resting in his grace,

lorraine

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Psalm 43:19 NLT

TOM

And speaking of rest, how would you like to win a new mattress? My friend Rebecca Huff is sponsoring a big giveaway this month. Head on over to this post to see what it’s all about and learn more about getting rest through quality sleep.

The Easy Wife

Another great giveaway is happening over here on The Easy Wife Facebook page. What a great way to get started with Essential Oils! Check out Jami and Stacey’s podcast – you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will I Ever Be Enough?

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Will I Ever Be Enough?

The sound woke me suddenly and my heart was beating fast. Adrenalin was coursing as I identified the source of the alarm. Two vibrations and then a few rising tones meant that my hubby’s blood sugar had exceeded the high threshold and his monitor was alerting.

I laid there in the dark, processing the information for a few minutes and it alarmed again. This time he sat up, insulin pump in hand. He took stock of his number and administered the insulin.

Five minutes later, the alarm sounded again. And five minutes later, and five minutes later….

He dozed beside me but I couldn’t sleep. Now awake, I thought of design ideas for an improvement to the continuous monitoring device. A temporary hold on alarms came to mind; a way to communicate that insulin was delivered, now hush and give it time to work its magic already.

Still awake, my thoughts went to the previous day. It was not a good one for me. Work was fine, home was fine, my commute was fine. I was not. Fine. The tension had been building for weeks.

I reviewed my conversations, my mindset, my attitudes. I regretted spoken words. It had been ugly.

I gave much thought to my husband’s earlier wise counsel over a situation that I was struggling with.

I was filled with regret. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I was truly sorry.

The truth is that I’m overwhelmed. Deadlines missed. People disappointed. Criticism hurled. Expectations dashed. I have a litany of reasons to be disappointed with myself that I recite when I turn the attack inward.

I am as hard on myself as I am on others. “Why did you ever think you could complete a half marathon?” I have guilt and embarrassment over yet another thing that I started and couldn’t finish. Mind you, an arthritic hip is the real demon here, but I’m glad to take a beating over it.

I took stock. I asked myself a question.

“What are you afraid of?”

Immediately, I thought of my every day fears. Lizards. Snakes…most any reptile you can name. But really, those aren’t the things that scare me when I lie awake in the night, when I’m driving my car, or when I sit down to write.

The truth is that I’m afraid that I’m not enough.

When I was expecting my second child (we didn’t know she was a girl – it was the 70’s) I was afraid. I had normal expectant mom fears like birth defects and whether something I ate or something the doctor prescribed might harm my baby.

But my biggest fear? I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough love for another child.

I loved my firstborn daughter with a love that I had never known. She was our life. I couldn’t wait for her to wake up in the morning and I stood over her crib and watched her sleep at night. There was no way that I had the capacity to love another child like that. This new baby? I feared she would get leftovers. If there were any, that is.

Of course, our second daughter was born and I loved her dearly – she was such a gift to our little family.

That fear was ridiculous but it loomed large and in charge for the better part of eight months (again…the 70’s – I had to actually wait a few weeks to get a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office).

Fear unfounded. God created our hearts with the capacity to love beyond our wildest imaginations.

Back to that alarm in the night…the problem with it was lack of data. The device knew only the number that it was reading. It was not aware of the on-board insulin and therefore didn’t take it into consideration. It continued to act like there was not enough.

Through tears I confess that I am just like that. The fear is real, just like that number. There are plenty of triggers that cause me to be alarmed. There always will be. And I feel despicable. I’m ashamed. I’m afraid that no matter how much I do, how hard I try, I will never be enough. And data is proving it. The world, even good people, even some of the people who love me, will never be fully satisfied with me.

But unlike that device, I know the remedy has already been supplied. There is no need to walk about with anxiety and weariness over feeling I am not enough.

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

I recently read these words from Kelly Balarie: “If it wants to beat you, tie you down, and throw you out back for always being despicable, I assure you, it is not God.”[1]

And further, if I constantly find fault with myself, I will not have the confidence to recognize the good in those around me. I will never honestly admire others more than I admire who God designed me to be.

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I wish I had a nice little bow to tie on this post. All figured out. Got it.

The truth is that I’m taking baby steps. I’m reading the words of a trusted mentor and I’m making a choice to walk in faith rather than fear.

He is enough, therefore I am enough…

lorraine

 

What fear are you struggling with today? I pray that you too, can begin to walk in faith and I highly recommend you join me on my fear-fighting expedition.

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About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

 

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

 

[1] Quote from: Fear Fighting – awakening courage to OVERCOME your fears, by Kelly  Balarie

I Want a Perfect Christmas

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I Want a Perfect Christmas

Christmas Morning.

When I write the words, I alternate between anticipation and dread.

I’ve shared childhood Christmas memories here before. Christmas was a very special day in our family. There was no other like it – the mood in the house was positive and everything else was put on hold for a day.

As a child I couldn’t have known how desperately my mother must have missed her extended family, more than a thousand miles away. My focus was appropriately narrow; as a child I saw only the joy of our celebration.

I’m not so naïve anymore. I’ve been at this “adulting” thing a long time. I’ve come to realize that there are not many “perfect” days in this life.

I’ve also realized that perfect is in the eye of the beholder.

My natural tendency is to catalogue all that is not as it should be, or as it once was. That tendency is from the pits of hell and will steal your joy, friends.

If I’m not careful, I’ll note all of the imperfections that surround my normal life and my special days. I’ll stay in a funk and wonder why people avoid my joy-sucking presence.

I have known some memorable Christmas mornings. It’s tempting to long for those days and to mourn their passing, comparing every celebration to that “perfect” one. (My memory is also remarkably selective!)

This Christmas morning, my sweet hubby and I will again awaken to a quiet house. Our children have been celebrating in their own homes for years, making memories with their children. I’m tempted to long for the “good old days” rather than embracing the peace that will fill our hearts as we enjoy what has become our “new” normal.

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This is a little glimpse into our Christmas preparations – a couple more to add, but I think you get the idea. Lots and lots and lots of joy when we gather!

My thoughts quickly turn to the widows and widowers who will wake up alone this Christmas morning; the single parent who is navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce. I remember those in military service, on mission or even in prison. People are mourning legitimate losses all around us.

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Christmas is just another day for so many who are separated from home and family.

What about that little family on the first Christmas morning? Mary and Elizabeth spent months chatting as they anticipated the arrival of their baby boys. I’m pretty sure that not one time did Mary say “I hope I deliver mine in a stable, out of town, with no one but Joseph around to deliver him.”

The first Christmas was anything but perfect in my natural mind’s eye. I’m also positive that Mary didn’t “naturally” invite dirty shepherds into her meager labor and delivery spot with a hospitable heart. But in her joy, she was able to celebrate the delivery of the promised child. He was given to her, but she knew his life was significant far beyond that stable.

Mary’s joy was not hers alone. The joy of her son, the joy of her family, was to be shared with the world. He was also OUR promise. Jesus was Christmas; the fulfillment of the promise that we never have to be alone again.

The joy he brought is not fleeting, nor is it found in perfect moments. It’s in relationship with our perfect savior.

Before you read on….

If you are mourning a loss dear one, mourn it.

Cling to the one who knows your sorrow and feels it. His word promises that he knows your every toss and turn and he catches every tear. My heart aches for you; it is your loss that has allowed me to see the frivolity of my mourning over failed expectations.

I’m praying that God bends right from heaven and kisses your cheek.

If you are like me, fighting the urge to hope for perfection this Christmas season, go to the source of joy.

Accept no imposters, avoid the cheap knock-offs that the world is pushing on your Facebook news feed.

If you long for the joy of the “perfect” day, these verses are my gift to you.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,”
Proverbs 8:30

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dried up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

And last but not least….

“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

 Merry Christmas, friends. May your life and your joy be full.

lorraine

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Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

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Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

We recently took an eleven hundred-mile road trip to the land of my birth, Indiana. We were there to attend a wedding; we hadn’t seen most of our family there in two years.

On Friday night we gathered at a pond on a nearby farm for a picnic dinner. I popped up every few minutes to snap successive shots of the sunset with my phone as it colored the darkening sky.

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Later, as we all sat visiting, I frequently checked Facebook, email, Messenger and What’s App.

We returned to our home away from home and I gathered a few of my belongings before heading upstairs to bed. As I did, I stuck my phone in the back pocket of my jeans.

Upstairs, I began to prepare for bed and backed up to the toilet. As I lowered the jeans I heard a splash. Nooooooo!!!!! I quickly turned and fished my iPhone out of its porcelain bath. I wanted to dial Apple 911 but my phone was wet! I grabbed my iPad and turned to the internet for advice.

I had already made a wet phone mistake (apparently I should not have powered it off – don’t even ask why I thought that was a good idea). Google “wet iPhone”. You will find all sorts of conflicting advice. Don’t judge.

After shaking water from its few orifices I put my beloved device in a plastic container surrounded by wild and brown rice, supplied by my gracious hostess. She’s obviously more into gourmet cooking than saving phones, but it was rice. The google people mostly agreed it was the best thing to do.

I crawled into bed with my iPad. I discovered even more advice, suggesting that you should NEVER put your phone in rice because the rice kernels are the perfect size to infiltrate the headphone jack and charging port. I jumped out of bed, fished my phone out of the rice, and carefully wrapped its vulnerable lower regions in a tissue after examining them closely for evidence of rice violation.

Finally, when I felt I had done everything possible, I slept.

In the light of the new day, my sweet cousin remembered a stash of white rice she used for weighing pie crusts while they bake. I gently lifted the phone, with its protective sheath, from the brown rice and placed it carefully into the white rice. I was confident I was taking every measure to ensure it would dry out safely. I didn’t even consider attempting to power it up. I would wait forty-eight hours, like the good people of Google mostly recommend.

Thankfully my husband had his phone, so we still had Siri to guide us as we traveled to visit a friend and later to the wedding. We returned home late that evening, and I paused as I passed by the rice filled resting place and resisted the urge to test my phone. Forty-eight hours. Show some restraint, woman.

Sunday evening, as we headed to bed, hubby suggested I might check my phone – we had reached the magical forty-eight-hour mark. Thinking about the late hour and hoping the phone gods would take note and reward my self-control, I decided a few more hours nestled in rice would be an unselfish act on my part. I left it alone.

Monday morning dawned. I was optimistic. I had done everything the Google people told me and I took my beautiful rose iPhone 6s from its rice bed. I tried to power it up; nothing. I plugged it into the charger, thinking perhaps the battery was low. Nothing.

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Not one to give up, I found a guy, a guy who had resurrection power. Well, sort of. Like maybe a 50/50 chance he could revive my precious phone for a cost of around $300. I didn’t like the odds. It was approximately noon on Monday, September 19th when we called it. My phone was dead by drowning.

We talked about arranging to replace my phone but oddly, I was not in a panicked rush. Weird, right? Once I got over the “I am so disconnected” anxiety I moved into the freedom of it. I missed my phone, but I could wait.

Saturday morning, just over a week after my phone took the plunge, I had a replacement in my hands. Thanks to faithfully backing up to the cloud, I was able to restore all of my data and lost only a few pictures from that fateful Friday.

I’m not one to make an expensive mistake in vain. I’ve learned a few things that are worthy of sharing:

    • Never, ever, again will I put my phone in my back pocket.
    • Not everything you read on Google is accurate (as if).
    • My stress dials back significantly when I have some distance from my phone.
    • I should use settings to reduce the number and volume of alerts.
    • 75% of what is on my Facebook feed is drivel
    • Never be a smarty pants about your unblemished phone. “First pride, then the crash- the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

 

In addition to all of that, I recognized the value of stepping away for bits of time.

I’m weary in spite of getting plenty of sleep. I finally understand it’s not sleep that my body longs for; rather it needs restful periods of quiet reflection; moments to listen and focus on my heart and His voice.

Rest is something to be surrendered to, to embrace. It is not a luxury but it does have great value. Spending my spare moments immersed in social media is akin to trading the harmonious notes of a symphony for the scraping of nails on a chalkboard.

I’m trying. The problem is real – I find myself reaching for my phone like a two pack a day smoker reaches for cigarettes. I’m committed to making the better choice; for my soul and for my relationships.

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Share with me in the comments how you manage addiction to devices. I’d love to hear from you!

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. ~ Psalm 116:7

 Grace upon grace,

lorraine

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