Walking Courageous

My mom remembers sitting in the bathtub, her big pregnant belly encircled by the warm water.  She felt me kicking and kicking and then not.  She knew something was wrong with me, her baby.  She prayed, “Lord, don’t let it be her brain.

So, when I was born, my appearance was actually a relief.  My little left baby leg was curled up over my right shoulder, the kneecap on the back of my leg with my little left foot pointing in the wrong direction.

The small-town Nebraska doctor whisked me away, leaving my mother alone.  I didn’t realize until after having my own two kids, how awful this must have been for her. 

But in that space she prayed, “Thank you God it wasn’t her brain.”

After receiving phone directions from a big city Omaha physician, my doctor grabbed my small and loose-jointed baby leg at the hip and ankle and twisted.  My little baby kneecap danced around and things shifted into place, so my leg now looked like a normal-foot-is-on-the-front-of-the-leg thing.

The new problem was that it wouldn’t bend. 

The doctors planned to splint my leg throughout my first months of life.  At each early child visit, they would bend my little knee a bit more and re-splint, and re-splint to the tune of my cries and (I can only imagine) my mother’s wincing. 

This splinting must have been awful and painful, and if I could have talked, I would have told them to stop.  But now I can walk. 

Sometimes I wonder if metaphorical splinting has been going on in cycles throughout my life.  Peace and joy come again and again, but always after a bout of the tough stuff opening up a space.

Recently, I read a post on social media from a friend:
Today I was overwhelmed by the stress of money, lack of time, and post Labor Day blues. For some reason, I had a sudden burst of energy after work and was able to meet up with the Pastors from our sister churches (who are visiting from Honduras and Tanzania this week). As I was quickly venting to Pastor Robson Mmanga about my current stressors, he pulled me aside and said, "Oh dear one...if you let those small things stand in your way and get to your heart, you will miss out on why you are here in this life." There, in the parking lot of Runza, I was reminded that we can't let these small issues overpower us. So... if you have something holding you back this week, I pass on this advice. Let's spend more time looking for 'these' moments and less time worrying about things that are out of our control.

And with that reminder, I can write my thanks.  Today I can catch myself seeing what is always here.  Tomorrow, well, we'll see.  For me, the walk of life is as Augustine said, a series of consolations and desolations.  An ebb and flow of swimming in the goodness, looking around and finding thanks everywhere, and then scrapping to see it in a gray world echoing like a tin can.

Some days gratitude isn't simple, it's courageous white-knuckling your hope.  

If that's you today.  Don’t be in charge of it all.  Somehow get under or over or around it, give yourself a get out of jail free card and say, "I don't really have to think about that today," take the next little tiny step that you are capable of.  

The fact that you are here is enough.  We're here together, and that's enough.  It’s always been enough.  Because you are more than enough.  Tomorrow or the next day the gratitude list will write itself again, if only for a moment.  Dare to be courageous when the splinting comes, and in between the wincing, when you want to yell at it all to just stop--Be splinted.  Breathe it all in.  And say thanks if nothing else, for the breathing.

I'll recognize you, fellow daring one by your eyes, tired and wiser, still mining thanks in your own beautiful rebellion.  Walking in the middle of your own splinting, daring even to run.

Today's Thanks:
A comedian with friends, giggling together
Chicken Tikka Marsala, yummy
A silly coffee mug each morning this week, Precious Moments then Spongebob
Teaching the meaning of "woke" to a friend
Book club real-ness with my girls
Another fresh start
Your turn. . . 


Be You

A middle school girl shouts to me in the busy, white-tiled hallway, "Hey, who are you?"

"Well," I say, stopping to turn on my left foot while the stream of students flows by us.  "I'm Evi Wusk--you say Evi like Chevy--Er, I'm Doctor Wusk.  Who are you?"

After telling me her own name, she gets to the point, "Why do you walk like that?"

"Well," I say, pretending not to be a little thrown.  "It's actually a cool story.  When I was born, my left knee was sort of on backward, so it bent funny."

"Like this?" she says, bending her arm in a contorted Z, scrunching up her face.

"Yes," I laugh. "The doctors said I wouldn't be able to walk.  So it's cool that I can walk like this, I guess."

"Cool," she says. "High five!" she says, offering up her hand.  "I didn't mean to be mean."

"You're fine," I say, as she skips away, back into the flowing sea of students.

I turn and grin, knowing that the younger me would burn on the inside after these conversations, which happened a lot more often.  Today I'm fine with it, glad to have had a real interaction, glad to have met this spark-plug person.

I've been at my new job since August 18th.  It's time for writing again.  The transition has been needed, as I've wanted to do this one differently.  I did a count for a book proposal I'm writing and realized that I've had six jobs in the ten years I've been working--just five more than my life-long farmer father.

A part of me finds this embarrassing, wishing I had more longevity on my resume, but the realer part knows it's been a journey of trying to listen to call, trying to be what's me.  In retrospect it seems that a few of these call stories have been more of a wrong number type of situation. . . but even as I write that, I know that each of those turns, each of those spaces, has led me here.

And I'm glad we're here.

I'm thankful for my darling family, my two and four-year-old who are exhausting and awesome.  Last night I lay on the couch with my little O and felt the warmness of his head, his blonde hair growing long in a way that's rebellious and cute, and I just squished him there for a minute knowing we won't be this us for long.

Whether we're shifting professions or not, we're always changing, always learning something and waking up a different person than we were yesterday, and yet we're the same.  The last year, more than any in my life, has been one where my edges have roughed off.  The unbecoming has left me more me.

And I like this me.  She seems realer and talks slower.  I think her hair is going to be less blonde, her shoes more comfy, and her clothes a little softer.  She's more okay with being her intense self--really sad and really happy--and not often in the middle like she's spent so much time wishing she'd be.  I actually think that's a cool part about her.

Maybe I'm made like that on purpose.  Maybe it's a gift.  My new job is the part-time coordinator of high ability learning at a school where I've worked before.  It's a good school where people are organized and passionate and just kind.  I say just--but it's the rubber band that's brought me back.  I was nervous for this roundabout route; not the me anymore who was here before.  But neither is anyone.  We're all growing, all finding new things to learn, all somehow walking a different path than we had planned.

The sun comes up again and again and yet the seasons change.

I haven't posted anything here for awhile, and yet I've been writing.  This new job opens up a space for words in a way I've been ravenous for.  So I've been feasting on words, like some caged animal, just freed into the wild, and feeling more awake even though I'm getting less sleep.

Isn't this what we all want, to do something that's truly us--not the us we always show everyone, but the deep us that's a bit quieter, a bit more of everything than the middle we wish we'd be.

A beautiful writer and human from Lincoln, Deidra, tells a story of her husband as a young boy; his mother was a shopper.  She would take him along to the large department stores, lower her gaze to his level and say, "If you get lost, just stay put and wait for me.  I'll come find you."

I love this story, and love the parallel between us and God.  In Gifts of the Dark Wood, by Dr. Eric Elnes, a minister from Omaha, I read a beautiful message about call.  I've been so white-knuckling this thing all along, asking if I'm a pastor or a full time mom or a teacher--all the while terrified that I'm gonna get it wrong.  Eric, like me, wants to listen and notice, to hone in on the "gentle intuitions that arise within human consciousness," these tugs that come at my belly and my heart, the physical sensations of joy, peace, aliveness, the pattern that asks us to not jump dangerously at call, but to move with intention, incrementally, a little more here, a little daring there.  But he writes something that I hadn't heard in all my reading and searching about call.  He writes that if we misinterpret, they'll keep coming.  If we miss it, they will repeat.

Ah, the grace in that.  The warm-butter grace that slows me down and reminds me that I'm enough without beating myself on the back, without moving faster, without trying to organize myself better.  I'm addicted to this grace, surprised by it again and again.  I love that grace and pray that I might communicate and be that grace, that we all might feel less alone.  Only touch that grace, like a finger making ripples on a smooth pool, and everything changes.

I'm feeling realer, like this middle school girl I met this week.  In some ways she's a little rude, but she's just being her on the surface, and I prefer the rudeness to the pretending.  And maybe I'm gonna be a little ruder, post more before I'm ready.  Dare to open the gift of me.  I'm unwrapping the bow and worrying less about who's looking, at who gawks at the way I walk.  I say that like it's easy, but it's hard to unlearn a life of wondering what others will think.  Maybe the truth is that others aren't thinking about us all that much anyway.

To live my own junior high years with a scoliosis backtrace equipped me--gave me empathy, helped me realize the hurt so many swim in Monday, then Tuesday, and then Wednesday.  But it also left me wanting to hide, to be anyone but me.  Me, after all, wasn't a good thing to be.  Me was broken.  Me was a sinner, sinner, sinner.  Me wasn't enough.

I know now this was wrong.

And not that I am perfect, but what if our perfection is just that imperfection that we've been railing against?  What if, like Nadia Bolz Weber, an ELCA pastor recently said in a piece on her beautiful church on PBS, "the jagged edges of our humanity are what actually connect us to God and to one another"?  She's a polarizing figure, but one who makes me proud I'm a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a piece of the larger Lutheran Church that will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation coming up in 2017.

So the plan for this this small-town Nebraska Lutheran gal--for today--is to stay put and wait for what is coming to find me.  I've spent enough time Googling jobs and chasing achievement and trying to find this magical something that will make me feel like I'm enough.  I am.  We are.  Loved and forgiven.  The end.  And also the beginning--not just enough, but we're each unique and important, here for something, here for each other, here to take in the crazy beauty and experience the terrifying and awe-inspiring polarities of life.  I'm a writer and a mother and a girl who is at her core thankful for all of this--the beautiful and the awful.  All of it together--including us--is a gift.  And for that today, as I sit with new smelly candle from Target and my cup of green jasmine tea, warming my hands and my insides, I'm filled with thanks.

Gratitude melts me like grace.  A different flavor of butter, but melty nonetheless.

This week I read a book like a love affair.  I gobbled it up, and snuck glances in the corners of my life.  I don't remember the last time I've read a book so fast.  I'm not in the habit of saying that we should do stuff--There's enough should-ing on ourselves without me adding to the din--but you should read this book.  I'm gonna read it again.

This book matters.  Her voice is real, and her story dares us all to embrace the gift that is us.  I don't know her, but I love her.  She's like me.  She's probably a little like you.  Her views on things are--like Nadia's--a little polarizing, but they're honest, maybe a little rude, but her on the surface.  I got tingly so often while reading this book.  I'm learning to trust those tingles, to listen to them.  I think they're a part of what makes me me--a good part, not one to ignore.  I'm a bookworm in the real sense of the word.  Worms take soil and churn it in a good way.  Maybe that's part of what I want to do with this me.

So if you can, read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.  It is intimate and searing, and it's made me think and feel below the thinking about God and identity in a way that melts like that grace butter.

So cheers to being all buttery at a new job in a new school year as the brown dry leaves fall on the green wet grass in my back yard.  Things are changing, like they do.  And I am thankful for so many things today, Gratitude Gal again, at home in my own skin.
"I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water then with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom." - C.P. Estes
Today's Thanks:
 The doctors who took care of P this week
P feeling better at home
A new coworker who stopped in to say hi and chat about Boxer dogs
Tacos outside with the family last night
Chilly air and canned yellow-orange peaches on a maroon plaid cloth napkin
A giggly text string among friends, working to spend time together
Seeing someone I love feed ice to another I love, so caring, so alive and worthy of respect
Your turn. . .


We Will Find Her

The more I start to feel like I understand the Holy Spirit, the more the Holy Spirit is beyond my understanding. And yet, we are promised that if we seek the Holy Spirit, we will find Her.  Ask. Seek. Knock--and things get opened up.

Sitting alongside other little kids at short tables surrounded by cinder block walls and paper posters of Jesus, I learned many things in Sunday School.  There and in Confirmation I learned that the Holy Spirit is the third person of God: God's spirit dwelling in us, counseling us, being with us, but how has this head understanding put its feet on the ground in my life?  

I can look back and feel in certain instances that the Holy Spirit was working through me, but can I say any of them were for sure?  The Holy Spirit is the part of my faith that I feel most certain about and least certain about all at the same time.   

For me the Holy Spirit is this sense that your actions and thoughts are aligning with something deeper.  One of the times in my life when this became tangible was when I was a camp counselor.  After the whirlwind weeks, we would load campers and sleeping bags into vans and cars and trucks, and find ourselves in an open field of freedom knowing that we were once again college-aged young adults who no longer had children under our charge.  Woohoo!

Shortly after this unchaining (if you'll forgive the comparison), we would gather for prayer.  With sun-tanned ankles hiding sock-lines beneath and friend-o (friendship bracelets) circling our arms, we would stand in a circle hand in hand.  

During this time we shared prayer concerns, and one by one random people would pipe in saying, "I've got that one," or "I'll pray for that one."  This tired circle of different experiences, backgrounds, races, and college majors, would then pray for each other.  Something about it felt strong in a way I haven't experienced in regular life, like there was a deep and Holy Spirit dwelling in it.  

In that circle I realized many of the people I'd been working closely with were dealing with complicated life behind their smiles as they hiked and sang and cleaned breakfast dishes.  How had I not known?

One of my supervisors joked that being a camp counselor equips and ruins you for the rest of life.  The experience of living and working in community reminds me that the Holy Spirit works through us, through our words, through our hands helping the needs we see and praying for those we can't.  The more we try to understand the Holy Spirit, the closer we come, and yet the more we throw up our hands and just try to love the mystery.  

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  (John 20:21-22, NLT)​

Today's Thanks:
Baking my Dad's Birthday Cake
Unpacking bags from the best trip
Morning cuddles with little ones 
Snow boots splashing in puddles (we don't have rain boots around here)
Your turn . . . 


Thankful for Mountains. . . and It’s not about the Bike (Guest Post by Cindi McNair)

Photo from http://www.movingmountainsformultiplemyeloma.com

I open one eye and blink towards the blue illuminated numbers showing 5:50 AM.  With a stretch, I roll over and slip one foot on the floor, gently sliding out of bed.  I dress in the dark, tip-toe past my husband, and quietly close the bedroom door behind me.  Next, I creep past the dog in his kennel, (who doesn’t miss a thing), giving me a quiet whimper-yawn as I sneak out the front door to my bike locked up on the front porch.  It feels like it must be nearly 80 degrees and the humidity seems 90% as I swing my leg over my bike and roll down the driveway to begin my ride.  Still sleepy, and with a yawn, I whisper “Thank you God” as I get myself ready to bike some hills, pump my legs and get my heart racing for 6-7 miles of bike trails.

They say it takes the benefits of regular exercise 6-8 weeks to appear, and the investment in your health will be invaluable.  I do feel stronger, and my husband even says I move like I’m stronger, as I’ve been doing this now for over 6 weeks now. Thank you God.  A lot of people would be looking at this as terrific progress in creating a healthy habit of morning exercise, but to be honest, I am counting the days until I can quit!  Walking and yoga are much more my style for sure.  

But I am in training, getting ready for my personal “Super Bowl” if you will, because in less than a month I will be hiking the Inca Trail up Machu Picchu in Peru with a team of 20 people, most of whom I’ve never met.  So I’m doing my best to get this bod in shape, as the better shape I’m in, the more I will enjoy the trek up 11,000 feet in the Andes Mts. to one of the most incredible places on earth.  The hike is quite a reach for me.  I’m not a hiker (haven’t hiked in 30 years since high school!) and I’m really not a biker.  (Not since college when I peddled around 40 hours a week as a Bike Cop…ok, Bike Patrol is the right language, for two summers.)

But this is like a victory lap I am excited to be working toward.  See I am a survivor, and this year I am celebrating a big victory.  And as I pondered a way to celebrate, or give back, and be thankful, I became aware of an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Multiple Myeloma (a blood cancer) through a program called Moving Mountains for Myelmona (MM4MM), through Takeda Oncology. As I learned about the opportunity, it seemed surreal that I could hike one of the most celebrated places on earth to benefit others with cancer!  The team consists of multiple myeloma patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses and researchers who have come together to raise funds and awareness for research.  

Ten years ago this October I had a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, with the life expectancy at the time of 5-7 years. I remember making the decision to take on this hike (and certainly jump out of my box) in January, being able to raise funds and awareness as I trained for the journey.  It wasn’t really about the hike or about the mountain or even about this beautiful place, but rather a way to celebrate these 10 amazing and remarkable years of LIVING.  Thank you God! Since then I’ve been climbing my own “mountain”, every day, one step after another, just keeping on, keeping on.  Working through remission, and relapse, and chemo drugs, pushing through the physical burdens to take another breath and appreciate the gift of every day's “view”.  

So as I train and climb my mountain, I have so much to be thankful for, EVERY DAY.  Having cancer allows me to live my life with intention, to not let the little things in life de-rail me (most days!) from what’s important.  My gratitude builds as I train for my climb.  And I’m counting the days to getting back to walking and yoga!  Thank you God!

(What wisdom, awesome Cindi.  Thank you.  You can contribute and/or check out my friend's story here, and find Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma on Facebook. #MovingMtns4MM)


Summer Notes: Coneflowers and Cattails

I opened the FaceTime Ap on my phone to see my sister, now a mother for the first time.  Her face was aglow, her shirt a soft cotton, plaid, her elbow curled around her little person.  A girl.  She turned the camera over to linger on little fingers.

Thank you, little Ellie, for joining us.   For being a light.  We've been waiting for you, loving you.  Your parents are two strong people with so much love ready.  Their farm will be a fantastic world to explore.  I don't know how to be an aunt, but I don't know how to do most of the things I do, so we'll be okay.  I'm so glad you're here.


I clicked on a video link anxious about what I might see.  I watched a man die at age 32, the age I am, and it didn't feel numb or far away.  I looked up his name, wanting to remember it.  Philando Castille.  I don't know what to do with this hurt.  But I see it.  Reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates with my book club has had me thinking, and this video leaves this white girl from Nebraska unsure of what to say.  My gratitude is to Diamond Reynolds, Philando's girlfriend, for helping me see at least in part, so that I might have more courage with my words.


I stood in a line of bridesmaids and turned my neck to see his face, my best guy friend.  I saw the anxiousness, the anticipation, his shoulders just a little bit higher, held up with the love that was waiting after this day filled with expectations.  As she moved through that wooden archway, so alive in her white lace, smiling that smile that looks just as gorgeous in her workout gear, sparkling all the way to the grass, his face softened, shoulders set down in a thankfulness so deep we were all in it.

You've always been top notch husband material--although a little short and well-shaven for my taste--the most obvious not-yet-father-father in the world.  That time helped you realize her when you met her.  To see you so thankful makes me thankful.  Cool how that works.

This year on New Year's eve, my husband was outside the bar with the task of lighting off fireworks when we were counting down the seconds to 2016 with knee-tapping tunes played by my favorite music choosers the world.  Instead of lamenting the fact that Ralph was outside, I stood back and saw you and your bride-to-be, living slow as the room danced around you with party blowers and silly glasses.  It sounds odd (and maybe a little creepy) to say that to watch you two kiss that night was one of my favorite moments this year, but it was and is.  As the year turned, I saw both of you shining, knowing that 2016 would hold such joy.  To be around a love like that is to be filled up.  So glad to see you two as one.  Thanks for letting me be a part of it.


We emerged from the movie, my two little ones and me.  The popcorn bucket had been too big, but we ate it all.  We headed to potty before our ride home, and the bathroom was quiet, empty after this summer matinee.  Charli asked that I notice how she could reach the sink now, how she could see her own eyes in the mirror.  

"Remember when I was three momma, and how I couldn't see, and see how I can see now."

I do. 

And she turned around grinning and grabbed my hands and started laughing for no real reason, and started jumping up and down.  And I forgot myself and jumped too, and we laughed so loud and so long, and for once I didn't stop when I started to wonder what someone else might think if they came in and saw us.  I was too busy swimming in this gift of momma love--her last summer before preschool--so thankful for time together after a year that so often felt apart.

“And now we welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been.” - Rilke

Today's Thanks:
Coneflowers and Cattails and Electric Purple Wild Flax
Huge Walnuts
Quarts of New Pickles on a Purple Dishtowel
Her first Pencil Box - Pink Princesses of Course
Cheers to 8 Years of Marriage and 33 Years of life!


Notes from a Year of Learning

So, at the end of last year, I was set up to be a church youth director.  Life happens.  That didn't work out.  What did work out was me signing on to teach eighth grade an hour-long commute from home.

In many ways this has been the longest year of my life, both in miles and moments.

While it has been long, it has also been good.  Deeply good.  No, I am not teaching there next year.  Much to my life-long farmer father's chagrin, I will have yet another new job.  Yet he always supports me no matter what.

I have taken a little rest from posting here, giving myself time to heal up a bit.  As things wind up--before the new begins--we are gifted with a shining time to give and receive gratitude.  So after this year of learning, here goes:

Thank you to my green geometric curtains, for being the first thing I put up in my classroom.  Even when everything looked hard, you were a welcome change from the white cinderblock walls.  As I took you down on the last day, we were both a little worn, but both still here.

Thank you to Audible and my Podcast App, for being my carpool lifesaver.  Many audiobooks and myriad podcasts later, it's been a year of good reading.

Thank you unique eighth grade interests for teaching me about guitars, dabbing, Jon Cena and so many video memes (Doge, Smells like meat, and others).  I didn't know these things were so critical to my knowledge base.  I get more cultural allusions than I ever would have hoped for without you.

Thank you seventh period study hall for talking with me about politics, helping me to see things in new ways and helping me learn to listen.

Thank you eighth grade students for being my educational professors.  With all the learning I've done about education, there is still so much I don't know after this year.  No matter how hard we try, we can not "research based best practice" this animal into submission.  Submission, after all, isn't the goal.  Learning is.  And learning is alive.  There is an artfulness to teaching.  Alongside my questions, some things I do know.  I know we need to 1) take care of one another and 2) keep asking what is best for the kids.  By kids, I don't mean achievement scores; I mean the multi-faceted human beings who are the key part of this.  Their unique interests and passions are not the problem that deters my lesson, but the secret sauce that brings the classroom to life.  And yes, the test scores have their place, but I want the central piece to be our shared curiosity.  Humans want to learn if we keep asking, keep digging up patience, and keep searching for connection.  When I wondered, I tried to ask, and with a few filtered exceptions, the student answers were honest and heartfelt, showing passion for their life and learning.  Thank you for daring school and me to be real.

Thank you eighth grade journal writers, for your words.  I wish that I could help all those hurts that don't go away at the end of the year. Thank you for your doodles and real questions, and connections to books written so long ago, and for your ability to write contrast instead of black and white simplicity that it seems the world wants us to see.  Thank you for making grading fun and alive, even when a large stack of composition notebooks seemed to glare at me.  Half way through the pile your words always reminded why I teach.

Thank you to my amazing bearded hubby for helping out SO much this year as I often came home a zombie, like a used-up rubber band stretched one too many times.  With a one and three-year-old in the evenings, the long days were even longer.  You were and are a gem.

Thank you to my #1 babysitter (Grandma) for taking such good care of my kiddos each day.  If every mom had the peace of mind I feel while dropping their kids off, we'd have a lot fewer stressed-out mommas.

Thank you Ashland for giving me grace as I worked there only a year.  I could have been met with snarkiness easily, but each and every one of you were pure grace in wishing me well.

Thank you God for sending me down this road of calling.  I thought I knew how this would all play out as I looked up at the blue sky after signing up to be a youth director.  You, like always, had something more creative in mind in this curriculum of awe and wonder that you have me traversing.  I have learned a lot about how calling works, and it's not an upward ascent.  My favorite things each day are almost always an unplanned surprise; this year was no different.  I could not have predicted or planned the student who wouldn't write on day one, who wrote me and wrote me and wrote me things toward the end of the year, opening up a floodgate of sometimes troubling words hidden for so long.  Thank you for the responsibility of shepherding this young one for a season.  May there be new caring adults in the next leg of the journey.  Thank you also for the ones who never wrote, no matter my tricks.  May my seeds grow into something later, for someone else to harvest.

These kids.  I keep coming back to this motley crew of eighth graders who were so alive.  Some days I wanted to run out the door, but at the end of the day, they were each a litmus test that reminded me to be present and honest and fair and kind, always willing to give it to me straight when I was not being present or honest or fair or kind.  A middle schooler is a lot like a toddler, always wearing their heart on their sleeve.  These young people understand justice in a way we adults should listen to.  It is their superpower.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Through a really challenging year, I have been softened around the edges.  I am more easy going.  I am more willing to listen.  I am different.  I am also sterner, more willing to state my piece.  These things that are so hard, these things we wish to change, they are doing something with us, if we would just breathe into them, listen to the Goodness shining beneath, hold dear to that which we hold most dear and take the next step.  We will make it there too, and it will not be what we planned.  We will be better, if not a little more worn like my green geometric curtains.  They are folded in a pile, taking some time to rest this summer, waiting for what's next.

"What the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Today's Thanks:
Bright green apples in a white bowl
Teacup from a teacher friend
Ollie saying,  "I love you momma," before anything else today
A pink tin watering can
My pack loaded for hiking
Your turn. . . 


Living the In-Between

It feels like this week has lasted fifteen days.  

I am writing this near the end of the school year, and my students are writing their names on my marker board during study hall, all wound-up after state and unit testing.   It is ten minutes to the bell, and I don't have the energy to remind them one more time to sit down.  These last days of school can seem like non-days, almost like a hoop to jump through before the real living begins with summer vacation.

As long as it is "today," we are living a day that matters.  Today is a day to encourage someone.  Today will be etched in eternity.  This can be hard to remember as we anticipate weddings, new babies, grandchildren, retirement, events, or the end of the school year.  But these days of waiting, these in-between days matter too.  

In these days that seem like mere check-off's on the to-do list of life, I can be tempted to rush things, to jump from one activity to the next.  With that attitude we can miss it, we have the total capacity to turn away from living our own life if we aren't mindful.  Maybe you're with it today, feeling God's presence and call in your life.  Maybe you're a step off the path, or maybe you're so far away you've forgotten what your path was even supposed to look like.  No matter where your choices have taken you, God is here to.  God was here, and God will be here.  We might miss it, but God won't miss us.  

So live today, this one, not some far off day in the future when you're finally rich enough, or free-scheduled enough, or good enough, or graduated enough, but live here right here, right now when you are already enough in the eyes of God.  Each day we are presented with opportunities for good, with moments where we can encourage others.  What would it look like to slow down enough to notice? 

How can we come into our lives today, into these spaces and see?  How can we turn back?  My sense is that when I go looking for the good, it finds me, usually in an unexpected place.  Even now in this crazy study hall I not only see rambunctious students, but I notice the beautiful mess on my marker board.  It was really so boring just minutes ago. 

"This is the day. . . " - Psalm 118:24
Today's Thanks:
Looking back on an old draft
A fun weekend with girlfriends
Coneflowers in bloom
Spinach and artichoke dip
Your turn. . .