Relishing the Moment

This weekend I started reading the gospel of Luke in The Message and I’ve really been stuck on one section in chapter one (verses 23 – 24):

“When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy.”

This section is part of the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. This relatively small passage gives us a snippet into the lives of a high priest and his wife. At the point in their lives when the angel appears to Zachariah they are both old and have never had any children. And the angel appeared at the one point in Zachariah’s life that he would EVER enter the Holy of Holies and tells him he’s going to have a very special son.

Let me say this again, this is one small part of the story of the life of Zachariah and Elizabeth so I think what Luke chooses to share must be important to his point. And apparently their life had been a long, childless, and likely sad and lonely one that may have been defined more by what they weren’t (parents) instead of who they were (both descendants of Aaron the High Priest). Then Luke shares the information I am stuck on: “She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy.”

She had waited for this her whole life and had likely given up on her dream of motherhood, considered at that time an important sign of God’s blessing on a husband and wife. But when God moved and pregnancy happened, she relished it. She relished right where she was and embraced the season she was in. Like any expectant mother I am sure she thought and dreamed about the life of her future son. It’s possible she didn’t know what the angel had shared with Zachariah because he was mute when he exited the Temple. I am sure she also struggled with some of physical ‘issues’ that happen with pregnancy, especially to older moms. I had my last baby when I was 30 years old and while I know that’s fairly young, I also know there was a huge difference in how pregnancy affected my body at 30 versus 25.

But Luke doesn’t tell us any of that. All he says is that she relished the pregnancy. She relished right where she was in that moment.

This afternoon I dropped my baby, Sophalopes, off at driver’s ed. Let me rephrase that – I DROPPED MY BABY OFF AT DRIVER’S ED! I asked her if she wanted me to walk into the enormous high school building and help her find where she needed to go. She said, “Nope” and practically ran from the car. In fact, I am not sure the car had come to a full stop when she hopped out. And then I pulled over and burst into tears. Simultaneously I was caught between mourning the passing of one season (I was finally promoted out of Middle School after 9 years last week) and rushing headlong into an uncertain future. And I am struggling.

It’s hard to relish the moments we’re in. Some are hard, some are celebratory, some are flat-out horrible. Some are a combination of all of the above.  Most moments are completely ordinary, and those are some of the most difficult to remain in. Each moment is a pre-cursor to the next and each one is pregnant with possibility. But no matter what’s happening in any given moment it’s the only one we have. If we are stuck looking behind or can’t stop looking ahead we miss the only moment we can actually experience.

Elizabeth relished her pregnancy. Alone. For five months. And I am asking myself, can I relish right where I am without letting myself be crushed between the weight of the past and the fear of the future?


Just because I enjoy laughing at myself, I’ll give you this little peek behind the curtain so to speak…I decided to experiment with some different writing locales to help me focus so I tried a local bakery/coffee shop today. I put in ear plugs to mute the satellite radio that was playing a little too loud in the background. I could still hear the music, but it wasn’t distracting. Then all of sudden I found myself singing, “Play That Funky Music” out loud. Can anyone hear that song and NOT sing along? I may need to find another spot…or charge admission to the show.




Cleaning As I Go

I am woman who likes to clean as she cooks. By the time I serve a meal (which lately isn’t very often because I never know who will be home at dinner or worse what anyone wants to eat) I like to have the bulk of the meal preparation cleaned up. For instance, I just made myself a scrambled egg for breakfast, when I sat down to eat the egg I already had all the utensils used to make the egg in the dishwasher and all the ingredients back in the refrigerator. And the stove and countertop are clean. I find it very difficult to sit down and enjoy a meal while the kitchen is a mess.

Furthermore, I can’t move onto dessert while the dinner dishes are still out. I have to clean up the dinner dishes before I can serve the ice cream, or cup cakes, or whatever. In other words, I struggle to enjoy one moment until the remnants of the last one are nice and tidy. But that isn’t real life, is it?

JellO Salad

(Remember these?)

I’ve been in the middle of a messy place for many months. In my last post I mentioned that I was uncomfortable with my own thoughts and that they are playing tug of war with some of my most closely held beliefs. I’ve been waiting for those thoughts to tidy themselves up before I shared them. But that hasn’t really happened. I told a friend I feel like I’m waiting for the Jell-O in my mind to set before I can pull it out of the fridge and serve it.

I’d like to say it’s for some noble reason, but the truth is I’m a big chicken. I am afraid others will look at my mess and judge. I am afraid of being misunderstood. I am afraid of being wrong or being perceived as wrong.

As of this moment, the Jell-O’s not set and I’m done waiting for it. I’m pulling it out of the fridge and serving it up. There may be times we have to drink it with a straw because it won’t stay on the spoon, but I’m rolling with it. I don’t know how often I’ll be serving and I don’t know what I will be sharing, but waiting on everything to sort itself out in a nice and tidy presentation isn’t working for me anymore.


All the Days :: True Love


When you are inextricably trapped, stuck, incarcerated by 9 inches of snow and a 45-degree driveway, it tends to bring out the best, worst, ugliest REAL in all of us. If anything was hiding just beneath the surface of a quiet, nicely polished veneer of calm in any member of my family, well…after three days of lots of togetherness, it’s all hanging out now.

I would love to say that we embraced this time together in true Brady Bunch fashion with lots of sing-a-longs, board games, and crafting…well, there was some crafting for about 15 minutes…but that would not have been US – The Popes. Instead, in one room there was a three-day marathon of ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ and in the other was non-stop channel surfing between the World Fishing Network and the Outdoor Channel (I want to meet the heads of these two networks and have a heart to heart with them – WHY ARE THERE SO MANY COMMERCIALS? WHY ARE THEY SO LOUD? WHY DOES THE BACKGROUND MUSIC DROWN OUT THE FISHERMAN TALKING SO MY HUSBAND HAS TO TURN IT UP TO HEAR THEM????). And in the corner was me. With my ear plugs in.

In all honesty, I am quite proud of how we handled our unfortunate incarceration, there were no major melt downs until the end of day three. Sadly, it was Valentine’s Day and we were all just d-o-n-e. So instead of the day representing how perfectly our love manifests itself every single day (insert raucous laughter right here), it was messy. No cards. No candy. Flowers never arrived. Lots of frayed nerves and very little capacity to hold anything in. We were a group of people whose filters were eroding faster than the melting snow.

Valentine’s Day was probably better represented in our home the other 364 days this past year:

  • the day when Popey shoveled those 9-inches of snow off of said 45-degree driveway;
  • every single day for four months when Popey had to work 14-hour days, 7-days a week out of town;
  • the days when a week’s worth of filthy-sweaty-construction-site laundry had to be washed, dried, folded and packed up to leave again in just six hours;
  • the days when a week’s worth of food had to be cooked and packaged as individual meals to send to work with a man who didn’t have time to stop and eat or even go through a drive-thru;
  • the days of sleeping alone in two cities because work and family don’t cohabitate for us;
  • the days of mothering through the tough, rocky emotions of three teen-age girls alone;
  • the days of crazy long beards;
  • the days of crazy short hair;
  • the days of just plain C-R-A-Z-Y;
  • the days of just plain;
  • the days when he said, “Let’s go out to dinner,” because he knew I was spent;
  • the days when I said, “Let’s stay home for dinner,” because I knew he was spent;
  • the days we spent in bed watching TV together when he only had one day off that week and was too tired to do anything else;
  • the days when one of us or both of us realized we don’t understand the other one nearly as well as we thought, but we love anyway;
  • the days one or both of us realized we don’t understand ourselves as much as we thought we did, but we cling to the other one in desperate hope that they’ll hang in there with us through it (it’s possible that one was just me);
  • the days of getting up and doing all the things married people do when they are tired, lonely, feel misunderstood and misrepresented, and missing the fairy tale they thought they signed up for on day one when they said ‘I do’;

The ordinary days of what true, messy, real love is. Most of the time it’s just showing up, even when you have nothing to offer, and doing the best you can and trusting Jesus for the rest.

And then there’s the day after Valentine’s Day while you are typing a blog post about true love, and the bedraggled UPS man shows up in the melting snow and ice to deliver the two dozen roses that were guaranteed for delivery on Valentine’s Day. And they are beautiful. But they pale in comparison to the brutiful mess we make every other day of the year.


Thank you for loving me well Popey. For almost 27 years you’ve taken good care of me and loved me even when neither one of us knew how. I pray we have many more brutiful messes together. I know there will be more messes because I understand now what I didn’t on our wedding day – neither one of us have any idea what we are doing!

(And for the sake of my sanity – please turn down the fishing channel…uuuuggghhh!)

The Truth

Last week I found myself on the other end of the line of someone else’s crisis. After two panicked phone calls and several text messages that didn’t feel sufficient or comforting enough for someone coming unraveled (her, not me this time), I was suddenly overwhelmed by the peace of The Truth. And I heard God whisper to me that He is enough for me, and He is enough for her. In Him she is safe and well loved. And I can relax.

So I simply sent texted the following:

“You are the righteousness of Christ. You are complete in Him. You have EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness. In no way are you deficient or ill-equipped to handle whatever comes into your life because you have Christ, the Creator of the universe (and you) living inside of you. And you really can do all things in Him. Not by yourself. He sees right where you are and is crazy about you. He doesn’t care if you handle things perfectly He just wants to do life with you. Every second of every single day.”

As I typed that message the words rang through me like a bell.

He is more than enough.

For me.

For you.

For all those we love.

In any storm we face.

Psalm 46:10a (ESV) ~ “Be still and know that I am God.”

I’m No Multi-Tasker

Years ago I remember one typical Wednesday evening leaving my office in downtown Charlotte about thirty minutes late.  My kids were little so I had to pick them up from afterschool care by six.  Obviously I was going to be late, barring a miracle right up there with The Parting of the Red Sea. Unfortunately, there was some unfinished disaster at work that I had been unable to resolve before I left. And my husband was running late from class. And he and I were both supposed to be at church by 6:30 pm so that we could practice with the worship band before service. And we had to eat.

(There are just so many things wrong with those first few sentences! And it feels really strange that I’ve never written in this space about singing with church worship bands for 18 years of my life…material for more posts!)

On the ride down from my office in the elevator to the parking garage I closed my eyes, ignoring all of my co-workers and friends, and mentally prioritized the challenges I needed to take care of ON MY DRIVE HOME (the all caps are just to reinforce the insanity of the situation).  So when the elevator doors opened I practically ran to my mini-man, jumped in and pulled off almost before I had time to close my door.  I then proceeded to cut other drivers off –you can read “other drivers” as “people who were as worn out, spread thin, beaten down, exhausted and frantic as I was”–as I wound my way up and out of the bowels of the prison I worked in.  (Just so you know, all those pretty, shiny, glass and metal buildings downtown wherever you live are an illusion.  They are really prisons where the bars are invisible but daily people slave away without ever feeling like they accomplish anything, trying to keep their heads above water and not get fired…or maybe that was just me).

As soon as I shot up out of the parking garage like a cannon ball and had cell service I called the school and let them know I was going to be late.  Then I dialed the local Italian restaurant near home and ordered a pizza for pick-up. When they asked for my name I just told them I would be the woman running in the door like her hair was on fire. As soon as I hung up from that call my phone was already ringing. My boss and I then spent the rest of my drive hashing through some “life and death” issue that had to be resolved before I went to bed that night.  I think whoever invented the technology that allows us to be 100% available 100% of the time should be shot. And for goodness sake, what life and death issue can a bank really have? It’s just money people!

The rest of my trip was a total blur, but I remember standing on the stage at church at 6:30 pm, exactly on time, quite proud of myself.  I had faced multiple challenges, but I had masterfully used my multi-tasking skills and conquered all obstacles. I am pretty sure my kids ate in the van and I seriously doubt my husband and I said anything to each other on the way to church, but we made it.

We made it, but I had to work until midnight when I got home to meet a deadline. And then I had the privilege of getting up at 6:00 am the next day to start the whole thing over again, after waking up all night every hour on the hour because of all the ANXIETY!!!

In case you are reading this and thinking, “Wow! That sounds like my life,” or “Wow! She’s insane,” please know three things: 1) that scenario happened multiple times a week in my life during that season; 2) it’s not a life; and 3) that specific incident happened only a few short weeks before I had what I like to call an “episode” when I cried uncontrollably for three days and I had to be on antidepressants for several months just to function.

It was terrible and it was torture.  If I was with my family I was worried about all of my problems at work and how the world was going to fall apart if I didn’t solve them.  If I was at work I felt terribly guilty about my failure at being a good wife and mother.  And I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough to serve God.  Multi-tasking gave the illusion of life by keeping me so busy that I didn’t have time to stop and think about everything I was missing…like breathing and laughing.

All that to say, I used to hold a graduate degree in multi-tasking, but no more!  The other day I was trying to turn left at a busy intersection at night and I had to turn down the music and cease all conversations in the car so I could concentrate and make the turn safely.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that lately it’s been difficult for me to pause and put my thoughts down in this space.  I have TONS of them, my brain never stops and I feel like I am in constant conversation with the Lord, but my thoughts haven’t flowed out of my head and onto the blog as frequently as I would probably like.

My sweet Madelou pointed out that since the beginning of 2014 she and her sisters haven’t had a full week of school (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm) because of exams, holidays, and our CRAZY NC weather.  Plus our dog died. Plus my husband’s work schedule has changed multiple times. Plus…a hundred other things.  So I have just naturally been more engaged with my family.

What I really appreciate about this season is that as God has healed me with His Love I don’t feel the pressure to make things happen. I don’t feel like I have to write things down and publish them. I am free to be in the moment.  When I am engaging, embracing and enjoying (most of the time) each moment I move through and the people I move through them with, there’s less room for multi-tasking.  There’s nothing to prove, just plenty to be.

Someone asked me the other day about my slower posting frequency lately here on the blog.  I love this space.  I believe that one of the ways Christ uniquely expresses Himself through me is in writing.  But recently He’s been expressing Himself in other ways through me and I am just going with the flow.

Discovering what it means to be Fully Alive (or Totally Crazy)!

Restfully abiding in Him, trusting Him for all the outcomes, or lack thereof.


Fully Alive?

So I asked God for a word for 2014 and He gave me two, Fully Alive.  Sounds a little exciting, doesn’t it?  I had visions of adventure, mystery and joy.  Somehow Fully Alive (as opposed to dead) sounded exciting and happy to me.

So far though, Fully Alive has been TWO hot, messy emotional melt downs; being angry for multiple, ridiculous reasons that make no sense at all; experiencing a traumatic loss and walking through grief; being happy, joyous AND overwhelmed and feeling unworthy for ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING; and simply being confused.  And since I’ve decided to be kinder to myself, there was also one brief moment of total brilliance that I really enjoyed.

And literally, as I am writing this, another bird just flew into my house.  And he felt trapped.

And I feel trapped.  Trapped inside a body that refuses to cooperate and just be fine.  A body that won’t just sit down, shut up, paint on a smile and pretend to be happy regardless of what’s going on.

I am forty-five years old and all of a sudden I have emotions and they are whipping me around like a ride at an amusement park…minus the amusing part.  Apparently I was born with them (AS ALL HUMANS ARE!) I just became very adept early in life at stuffing and hiding them.  It really didn’t seem to matter to anyone else when they made an appearance.  They were inconvenient and inefficient and so down they went.  Down into the pit of my stomach where they hid.  Until now.

They aren’t hiding anymore.  They won’t be quiet and they won’t leave me alone.  They don’t care how embarrassing, inconvenient and inefficient they are.  They are coming out and are on full display.  This really is some of the ugly part of life.

Fully Alive people have emotions.  And they allow themselves to be human and experience them.

This is hard for a woman who wants to do her hair, put on her lipstick, tuck in her mess and say, “I’m fine.”

Well I am saying it right now, I am not fine.  Fully Alive is hard.  It means being vulnerable and living in relationship with others and engaging with them even when it’s painful.  And it is painful.  And messy.  And beautiful.  And exciting.  And overwhelming.  And worth it.  (I am really counting on that last one being true because in this moment I’m wondering).

It’s 2014, I AM NOT FINE, but I’m Fully Alive.

Pray for my family, they look scared.  🙂  I think they are wondering if Fully Alive might possibly mean Totally Crazy!

Sometimes It’s In Spite of Us


I shared earlier this week about the brutiful passing of Liv Loo’s dog Oreo.  All I will add to that traumatic tale is that grief is definitely a process.  His loss is felt by everyone in our home.  The other morning I came home from carpool and I was completely alone in the house for probably the first time in almost 10 years.  And it was really weird.  I was the only living being in the house and I could feel it.

Let me be clear:  I AM NOT A DOG PERSON.  But Liv Loo, Sophalopes and Popey are.  In fact, most of the time I am fairly certain that they liked the dog more than me.  Just sayin’.

At dinner the other night I noticed that Popey was moving the extra fat from his corned beef to the edge of his plate.  Towards the end of the meal he realized he didn’t have his four-legged buddy to share the scraps with.  Then it dawned on him that he had eaten his entire meal without Oreo’s tail beating him in the leg as he happily waited for the scraps.  It was sad.

While I AM NOT A DOG PERSON, I do appreciate the joy that Oreo brought to my family.  In particular, I am forever indebted to that little dog for the unconditional love he lavished on Liv Loo at some of the most difficult times of her life.

After Liv’s first hip surgery when she was 10 she spent two months in a wheel chair, unable to put ANY weight whatsoever on her right leg.  Unfortunately, our house was not designed for the disabled.  All the bedrooms and showers are upstairs and moving her up and down the stairs every day was too risky in our opinion.  So the decision was made to have her stay at my parents’ home where everything was on one floor and someone could be with her all the time.

It was very difficult on all of us, but particularly on Liv Loo.  She was very lonely and felt abandoned.  In hind sight, well…of course she felt abandoned!  But at the time, we were simply trying to make the best decisions we could that would hopefully result in her eventually being able to walk normally again.  And now thankfully, she walks normally, with minimal pain.  However, it came at great emotional cost.

During those two months of DON’T PUT ANY WEIGHT ON HER RIGHT LEG WHATSOEVER, two close relatives (they shall remain nameless) decided that what Liv Loo needed was a dog.  She had been asking for one for a long time, but I felt like we had enough on our plate raising three kids, two jobs, piano lessons, karate, church and Popey back in college  That was even before Liv’s diagnosis.  Who had time for a dog?

The minute they ‘surprised’ us with the dog all I could think was, “I need this like I need a hole in the head.  They are giving her a dog, but how the heck is this wheel chair bound kid supposed to take care of a dog????”  That was one of the most overwhelming moments of my life.  I AM NOT A DOG PERSON.  And at that moment I became THE MOTHER OF A DISABLED CHILD WITH A DOG!  I really almost lost it right then.

However, I was not the only one in the story.  My daughter needed the unconditional love and affection she got from that puppy almost as much as she needed water or food.   And so God loved on her, in spite of me.

Every night while she recuperated at my parents’ home my Mom would come home from work and she would push Liv Loo around the block in her wheel chair so Liv could ‘walk’ Oreo.  Usually Oreo’s short legs gave out on the first half of the block and he would ride on Liv’s lap in the wheel chair the rest of the way.  He watched tv with her.  He played video games with her.  He sat with her.  He loved her.

Once she and Oreo came home Sophalopes quickly adopted him as her own.  Against Liv’s wishes, and probably Oreo’s.  Liv and Soph were still fighting over him until the day he made his last trip to the vet.

One of my favorite memories is when Soph was about five or six.  I was sitting in bed one night reading and Oreo came flying up the stairs.  He was moving so fast that it didn’t even look like his feet were touching the ground.  He flew up under my bed and barely came to a stop when I saw Soph coming up the stairs.  She was clutching her favorite blanky (the blanky’s name was Bob – another story for another day) in one arm and she had one of her doll’s roller skates in the other.  Apparently she had been trying to put them on Oreo.

Soph carried him around like a purse.  She painted his nails.  She sat him in her doll stroller, strapped him in like a baby and pushed him around the house.  But when Olivia came home, he knew who he belonged to.  He was all hers.

So I would just like to say thank you Oreo for loving my family well.  You brought joy to the Dog Lovers in this house.  And for those of us who aren’t Dog Lovers, thank you for putting up with us and trying your hardest to win us over.

And thank You Father for knowing that I only see in part, even on my best day.  Thank You for loving my children better than I ever could.  Thank You that sometimes Your Love comes wrapped in fur at what seems like the worst possible time.