Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend Away and Back Again

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
Ephesians 5:8

My husband and I took a mini-away-time this weekend while my daughter competed in Special Olympics.  We went to the beach.  I loved the beach - but I missed the trees.  God's hand is everywhere.  Every.  Where.  Gorgeous!  He is an amazing artist! (And, my daughter got a bronze medal and got to dance the night away....)

Linking with:
Hear It On Sunday

Sunday, October 13, 2013

John 4:14 - The Word

...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. 
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:14

I can't get over the Word 
in so many ways
God said Let there be light and there was.
With a word He created
And Jesus was the Word with Him in the beginning
And we read the Word to know him
I can't get over the Word
In so many ways....

Heavenly Father, on this still Sunday morning, thank you for your Word - in so many ways...

Linking with:

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Thank-You Card to Jesus

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Nobody writes much about where you grew up, your home, your clothes, your shoes, your school.  I mean, we don’t even know very much about your childhood at all, except for the time you talked to the rabbis in the temple – when your parents thought they’d lost you. So I guess most of it really wasn’t worth mentioning.  I mean, it was probably all kind of ordinary back in those times. 

But one day, you started calling people to you.  Disciples.  They were ordinary men, but you saw something special in them, didn’t you?  You saw who they were going to be.  You had big plans for them. 

Then you started teaching.  And Jesus, this is the best part.  You used stories about ordinary people and ordinary lives to teach your extraordinary message of love, of forgiveness, of the Kingdom of Heaven.   
Thank you.  Even if I don’t count the miracles of healing and transformation, even if I don’t count your resurrection, even if I don’t count all of the supernatural, God-parts of your life – you showed me something.  You showed me how very extra-ordinary life can be.  You showed me the holy in the every day.  You showed me God in the ordinary.  You showed me grace.  Amazing grace.

But I can’t discount your God-side.  Because you are.  The Way.  The Truth.  The Life.  So you didn’t have to do what you did.  You didn’t have to live, walk, breathe, eat, sleep, laugh, and cry.  You didn’t have to suffer the punishment and death of an ordinary criminal.  But you did.  For us.  For me.  And that made everything extraordinary.

Jesus, thank you.

Linking with Lisa at Five-Minute Friday

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hearts Like Jesus

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:3

A team-building activity.  Simple rules: tie a rope at the waist height of the tallest group member between two trees.  Each member of the team needs to go from one side of the rope to the other without going under or around.  No talking.  First group done wins.

Her group didn't win by being first.  They didn't win the prize.  They won my heart.

Sometimes I just have to stand back and let things work themselves out.  And it's hard when I want my daughter to succeed so badly.  And these rules seemed impossible.

I watched her group from across the parking lot.  Each girl, except my daughter, tall and lanky.  Athletic.  They started jumping over the rope.  They were laughing and having a great time - and my daughter, who has Down Syndrome, was right there with them, laughing along as each girl took her turn.  Easy breezy.  Except my Sierra - low tone, short stature, a little extra weight.

It came to her turn.  I watched without speaking; I knew she couldn't jump it.  I wanted to wave a magic wand and give her just a little bit of their athletic ability, of their carefree confidence, just a little bit of their typical.  But those kinds of magic wands don't exist.

Her right arm crept up her back behind her, a sure sign that she's unsure of herself.  A sign that she's going to forge ahead anyway.  I've seen it so many times - when she walks into and introduces herself to a group of people she desperately wants to be part of.  Her graduating class at rehearsal.  The 70-member youth group in Texas.  Special Olympics - track and field, and bowling.  And she wanted desperately to be part of this group of girls - the girls who didn't think twice about jumping over that rope.

I watched them - gathered on the other side, talking and laughing.  I saw them look at my girl; I saw the realization of her limitation dawn on their faces.  And I saw them wave a different kind of magic wand.  A heart-like-Jesus wand.

Walking back around the trees, they gathered my girl up in their arms and lifted her over the rope.  Laughing and having a great time.  Easy breezy.  They were the last team to finish.  I have heard that sometimes you have to be last to be first.  I believe it.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing us your heart.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for guiding us to live with a heart like Jesus.  Thank you, God, for putting these girls, these letters from Christ, in our lives.

Linking with Jennifer, Beth, Michell, Tracy, and Emily at:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Autumn's Canvas

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:2

Rain fell yesterday -
Slick acrylic-leafed luster
Like modge podge on trees.

Fathomless color,
Swimming in translucent light
On Autumn's canvas.

God is the artist
Of this watercolor world
I, too, thirst for Him.

God in Heaven, Artist of our lives, thank you for the rain, yesterday, and the reminder that You are always present, sovereign, life-giving, and good.

Linking with:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Journey - Destination Unknown

I'm with my math class.  A word problem is on the board.  Some of my students are already circling and underlining words, writing down their thinking in the margins, rewording the problem.  But I already see a couple of hands up.  Insistent hands attached to bodies that barely stay in their seats.  Excited hands.  And I walk around to see the work - I want to see how my students are thinking - I want to see their math brains translated onto their papers.  But the hand-papers are blank.  Empty.  Nada.  Nothing.

And I turn away from them saying "I know some of you already know the answer.  Thank you for wanting to share.   Now I need you to show me how you got it."

"I just know it."  They sometimes tell me.

"It's too easy."  They sometimes say.

"I don't know how I got it, is it right?"  Trying to please, faces all screwed up with earnest need.  Need to be right, to check off the box, to go to the next problem, a trail of answers in their wake.  But not a real trail.  Like Hansel and Gretel, the breadcrumb answers disappear and the students become lost in the Forest of How, because the destination has become their goal, not the journey.

But the learning happens in the journey.

I went on a walk with my daughter last week.  Through a park with multiple trails in the woods.  Trails I didn't know.  With signposts along the way.  Destination unknown.  As we walked, I thought about this thing, this trail, this journey we call life.  I thought about how journeys differ, based on circumstances.  On beliefs.  On events.  I thought about justification and sanctification; I thought about how we are changed through Christ.

And the whole walk became a metaphor.

The journey begins with faith.
Faith:  the bridge between belief and hope.  Some will never cross the bridge.  Some will never experience the unknown, the un-imagined, the un-safe.  But neither will they experience the cool of the trees, or the diversity of the trail, because they will stay always in the sunlight, always on pavement - not taking chances.

Some will.  

Reflections along the trail... 

Memories of other times, 
other journeys, 
other destinations.
and forgiveness, 
and grace.  

Humility for grace - 
a gift undeserved. 

Beauty in the small things -
the unnoticed along the side of the trail.

Surprising color,
delicate detail.

Things we miss
when our destination is the goal,
when speed is of the essence,
when we focus only on the finish line.

Beauty in the light,

in the turning, 
in the imperfect, 
the unadorned, 
the simple.
Beauty in the broken, 
the fallen,
the great become small,
the humble -

stripped down to final truth -
true wood -
Journey on the trail - 
through places of sunlight 
and places of shadow.  

Not always a wide road, 
but a narrow one 
made by the footprints 
of those who came before.
Expect changes.

A single breath of wind to throw seeds.
A single breath of God to throw seeds for new life.
For hope.
For love.

Beauty in change.


through faith, 
through beauty, 
through change.  

Around the bend - 
not always visible, 
and there will be hills.

And there will be brokenness along the way,

soul-stretching brokenness 
in all the fibers - 
of our being. 

Brokenness reaching for grace.

Grace like light, 
breaks through the canopy,
illuminating the shadows,
the dark places,
like an artist
casting highlights on a canvas.

Like God,
opening and closing
doors and windows.

As we walked, my daughter and me, the trail whispered ...


This tree -
a metaphor of redemption.
White trunk,
stark and bare
in the midst of the healthy,
the upright...

Like a life laid bare, 
no covering, no protection, bark peeled
open, crying

Held in arms of grace.

He will not leave
He holds us.
He catches us
before we

We journeyed on, my daughter and me.  And the whispers didn't stop.


I will wrap you in my peace. 
In my love. 
My joy will twine through you. 
I will be in you as you are in me.

the path winds narrow,
light-dappled limbs overhead,
leaves lay like old sin.

God in heaven, Creator of all things, thank you for this place, this changing place that is not our destination, wherever it is.  Help us to see what you want us to see, to hear what you want us to hear, to know what you want us to know.  Thank you for joy in the journey.

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Linking With:
Michelle at Hear It On Sunday
Barbie at The Weekend Brew
Janis at Sunday Stillness

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Psalm 144:3-4

Just thinking about how we could be in the eyes of God - and how He loves us anyway...

Linking with 
Still Saturday at Pollywog Creek
 - what a lovely place to visit...

Friday, October 4, 2013


Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 
Revelations 1:19

There are days when words flow like water - easy, bright, cleansing.  Praise is easy.  Thanksgiving is easy.  Worship is easy.  God is God.  I'm not.  It's as simple as that.  And we are surrounded by His Glory in every big and little thing.   Sometimes I wonder, if it's easy is it worthwhile?

There are days when it's a struggle to write.  To write with meaning.  To write with purpose.  To write with heart and feeling.  To draw people in and make them care enough to stay.

There are days when I ask myself if it's worth the pain of memories torn out of hidden places by their roots, in order to get to joy.  Because it is a journey to joy.  Every story.  Every word, every sentence, every period and yes, every-single-last dash are intentionally placed, tearfully placed, passionately placed on this screen - footsteps to joy.

He said "Abide in my love, keep my Father's commandments, so that my joy is in you and your joy complete."

His brother, who knew him said "Count it as pure joy to encounter difficulty, because difficulty leads to perseverance and with perseverance, there is room for wisdom."

My writing is a journey to joy.  A journey to the Father - to obedience, to love, to that place of abiding.  It's passion.  It's burden.  A gift that purifies, distills, and questions.  Reflecting, remembering, rebuilding.  It is a tool.  It is an obsession.  It is untangling.  Getting to the root of.  Seeking.

It is sharing.  Community.  Fellowship.  It is a metaphor for relationship - each letter teamed to build words.  Words united with punctuation to build thoughts and sentences.  Sentences laid, as bricks and mortar to set a foundation of thoughts and ideas.  It is celebration in diversity.  It is argument.  It is need.  It is succor.  It is encouragement.

It is worthwhile.

Thank you, Father, for this gift called writing.  
Put your loving arms around your writers - the ones who struggle with their thoughts and words, 
the ifs and the maybes - and the ones who make us pause and consider, the ones who make us think.  Bless them with clarity, with purpose, with platform.

Linking with Lisa at Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beyond Down Syndrome

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, 
that you also love one another. 
John 13:34

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22

I am in the office.  The room is dark except for the light of the computer screen in front of me.  I am reading another birth story, another family surprised in the birth of their son, a son with Down Syndrome.  A family whose joy at the birth of their child was tempered by the diagnosis of Trisomy 21.  And it is so familiar.  And heart wrenching.  And I feel tears pool again because this scene, this moment still lives fresh in my memory - 22 years later.  Because in that moment of revelation there is loss.  Loss of a life expected.  Loss of dreams of what could have been.  Loss of solid ground.

And then I hear the creaking of the floor above me, and soon the sound of feet on carpeted stairs.  And then I feel my daughter's soft arms wrap around me from behind my chair.  I reach up and pull her arms tight to my chest, savoring the moment.  Good Morning. My voice breaks the stillness.  I turn and look at her face, reflected in the light of a thousand pixels.  And my heart, oh my heart overflows with the love I feel for her, captured by that morning hug like a beam of warm afternoon sun caught in a prism and then exploded into a hundred rainbows.  My heart explodes in a hundred rainbows of love.  For this daughter.

And I know that I share this feeling, this expansion of the heart, with a thousand other mothers - a million mothers - countless others who love their children as I do mine.  And I realize, again,  that there are fewer differences between us than there are shared experiences.  My daughter has Down Syndrome.  It has been a journey of joy, not a death sentence.

Yet there are differences.  More doctor visits.  Therapies.  Early Intervention.  IEPs.  Inclusion vs self-contained.  There are decisions to be made and scaffolds to be built.  There are differences.  However, great strides have been made in quality of life, in education, in health, and in acceptance of our differently-abled population.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  I'd like to share a few facts:  one out of every 691 babies born will have an extra 21st chromosome.  Although the age of the mother is a factor, the majority of these babies are born to mothers under the age of 35.  Down Syndrome occurs across the spectrum of race and economic level.  There are approximately 400,000 people living with Down Syndrome in the United States.  The life-expectancy of someone with Down Syndrome has increased from 25 in 1983, to 60 today.  Cognitive and developmental delays are very much a part of life with Down Syndrome - and the range of these delays can vary greatly.  With help and support, people with Down Syndrome lead full and productive lives - they work, they attend school, they participate in their own life decisions.

I am in the office - thinking about the things I wish and hope for my daughter - things I wish and hope for the people around her - things I wish and hope for new parents and other families with sons and daughters.

I wish that being 'special' wasn't an automatic label based on a diagnosis for a young woman who, in my eyes, has truly EARNED the description based on her unique personality, her unique outlook, her unique actions.

I wish that people would take time and effort to get to know her - get past the challenges of understanding her speech, past her loops of conversation topics, past her wanting to please, past her drama moments - to her sense of humor, to her empathy, to her unique intelligence, to her spirituality, to her joy.

I wish there wasn't disappointment in the disability, but rather celebration in the ability - I wish it was called Up Syndrome.

I hope that other parents, other families, other communities can learn as much from their differently-abled members, sons and daughters, as I have learned from mine.  I wish them joy in the journey of mixed challenges and blessings.

I hope that my daughter will be safe from any who want to take advantage of her.

I hope she continues to search for and find purpose.

I hope she experiences true friendship.

I wish for more than surface acceptance - I wish for relationship - for my daughter, for others like my daughter, for the families of people like my daughter, and for the communities in which they ALL live.  Active, vibrant, caring. supporting.  Beyond Down Syndrome.

Jesus calls us to fellowship - to love one another as He loves us.  Unconditionally.  With compassion, forgiveness and grace.   I wish for the kind of fellowship that sees the heart of its members - that celebrates the differences - that cultivates all parts of the vine - and recognizes the fruits of the spirit in every member - no matter the number of chromosomes.

Heavenly Father, Today I thank you again for the gift of my daughter.  She is your perfect child.

*** If you are interested in more about Down Syndrome, or about reading some other blogs, please feel free to use my Down Syndrome tab.  I highly recommend the blogs by Noah's Dad, and Kelle Hampton for stories.  The National Down Syndrome organization sites are full of information and other resources.

Linking with:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

can you imagine?

i saw a music video.  
sound was on, all the words running together 
and the bass thumped thumped from the box, 
through the floor, and drove me.  

the music drove me, 
but the images remained.  
i can't remember the song;
i can't remember the artist.  
it's the images.

there's someone talking, 
hands waving, 
body posture all tight 
and wound up.  

bullets from their lips.  
streaking across a room, 
across a road, 
across a field.  

embedded in our words.  
escaping from our lips.  
shot from our mouths.  

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, 
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

and i want to see the other side of this video.  
i want to see love in our words.  
so much love that it escapes 
- tendrils of love escaping from our lips.  
from our mouths.  
like beams of light.  
like falling stars 
- streaking across a room, 
across a road, 
across a field.   

i want to see wisdom 
flowing like cool hands on a hot day.  
like cold, clean water, 
crisp and refreshing.  

i want to see hope 
like a new leaf, 
unfurling in the springtime.  
like a rosebud, 
unmasking velvety-soft petals in a shy pageant.  

i want to see encouragement 
in rainbow array, 
spilling out in playful waves.

can you imagine?  

God, help me speak rainbows today, not bullets.  
Help my words be words that heal, that bring hope, that love.
Jesus, help me tame my tongue to your service.

Linking With:
Titus 2 Tuesday

Monday, September 30, 2013

Heavy-Duty Thinking

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! 
For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  
But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; 
you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
Acts 5:38-39

During the past month, I have done some heavy-duty thinking about the purpose and goals of this blog.  And, in a supernatural I'm-sure-God-is-working-in-this way, I have seen waves of encouragement and support roll across this Christian-blogging community.  Writers are posting - don't be discouraged by not knowing who you reach.   Don't be discouraged by comparing your posts to others - other writers who truly excel at their craft - other photographers who regularly capture exactly that special moment - other bloggers with more followers, more friends in their circle, more likes. 

So.  Heavy-duty thinking.  Self-evaluation.  Self-searching.  And yes, I am guilty of comparing.  But, this is what I've come up with:

 Christians comprise the largest percentage of the world's religious population (which in 1970 comprised about 82% of the world population).   The religious population is projected to increase by 2020, to around 90% of the total world population.  Of this, Christians will again make up the largest percentage.  Christianity is not the fastest growing, however.  Islam is the fastest growing religion.

This graph shows the projection of change - it shows a 'shift' of Christianity and Islam to the Southern Hemisphere.  My concern is the drop in North America, Europe, and Oceania.  Guess what - these are the countries most reached by blogs, and where blogs are most read.

Between 10 and 20 percent of bloggers write about religion/spirituality.  That's you.  If you are blogging from the United States, your blog is one of perhaps 3 million blogs.  Of those, let's guess that the statistics follow the world population - maybe 33% are about Christianity and for the sake of accuracy, put a give or take on it.  Give or take 10 percent and you have somewhere around one million blogs about Christianity.  Wow.  So of course you're going to feel a little lost in the mix...but look at the next statistic...

These are your readers.  Again, let's play with the population...  33% are Christian - maybe looking to read about your personal experience, your application, your encouragement.  That's a potential readership - again give or take - of 40 million or so.  Ok, so I'm being optimistic.  Take 10% of that - it's still a readership, in the US alone, of people who are already reading blogs at least on a monthly basis, of four million,  

Think about it!  Across the blogosphere, across our computer screens, we have the opportunity to change the world!  

Remember the trend - Christianity moving south?  Here's the part that really grabbed me.  When you pull the stats apart by region, the US, Northern Europe, South America, and Oceania are predicted to lose Christians.  Guess what they're expected to lose to?  Agnosticism.  Agnostics are people who don't believe in anything really - they don't deny the existence of God, but they also don't believe in God.  You can read about the trends in this report: 

Here's my guess.  These people haven't been shown God in the world.  These are people who believed because they were told to believe, but never really had any kind of life experience that cemented their belief.  

This is where you can make the biggest difference.  Don't deny your Christianity.  Don't mess around with the little things.  Proclaim, loud and clear, who you are and who you represent.  Show, in your writing and in your photos and videos, your tweets and your posts, the presence of Jesus in your life. Describe the miracles.  Define the joy.  

You wouldn't be writing if you weren't nudged by God.  I think He understands this blogosphere better than anyone.  He's using YOU.  You.  And you don't know who you're going to reach with your amazingly talented writing, or your amazingly sincere post.  

It's not a question of comparison or discouragement.  It's a question of what you're going to say, today, that might make a difference in someone's life - somewhere, somehow.  And it's God's plan - you may or may not ever know the difference you've made - but believe that you make a difference.  

Look at today's verse!  Our God is amazing - like Paul was looking 2000 years in the future.  Do you believe your blog has a God-purpose?  I do.

God, thank you for opening up an opportunity for me to do what I love and serve you at the same time.  Thank you for the encouraging community of bloggers I've met.  Help us to be missionaries for you.

Linking With: