Thursday, November 14, 2013


And from 2008...


      Well, it’s that time again and I’ve been avoiding it like the plague. We’ve just so enjoyed the past 6 months that I figured the longer I could put it off the longer we could pretend she was well. We ran out of refills on her meds well over 3 months ago. My pharmacist, Jihad, who despite the connotations of his name is one of the warmest and most peaceful men you will ever meet and has become a very dear friend to me since May was diagnosed last year. He has faithfully called the doctor to request new refills each of these last few months, however, I knew it was coming…refill approved, but follow up appointment is required.

       I could tell something was up with her, I’d noticed it for a few weeks now. She seemed happy enough, but just a little sluggish. I stared at her as she moved through the house. With her stuff, it’s so hard to say…really only a mother can tell, like when a mother knows her infants cry means hungry instead of sleepy or tummy ache instead of a wet diaper. But so much of that was lost in this whole thing, that natural knowing of what she needs. The hows and whens and whats of my motherhood were stolen through this process. I had once so fervently believed in my abilities to nurture her and now I don’t even know what to feed her.

       So I made the phone call, “Yes, Wednesday of next week is fine,” and dug out the lab orders the doctor had given me at our last appointment. “Have her blood work done in about six months, okay?” Six months seemed irrelevant at the time, I was so giddy and starry-eyed by the news she had just given me… “Her labs are perfect, in fact it seems her liver has completely regenerated itself, her body is responding miraculously to the medications.”  

        But now my six months were up.

        “Girls, hop in the car, we’ve got to run some errands.” They grumbled as they always do when I drag them to Vons and Wal-Mart. 

        “We’re not going to the store, girls.” May hopped in the front seat and glanced down at the all too familiar carbon lap slip resting on the dashboard. She dropped her head as her eyes welled up.

        I’d tricked her, my little lamb to the slaughter.

        “Come on baby, you’ve done this a million times, it’s no big deal, you’re an old pro at this now.”

        She stared out the window.

        I patted her leg, “It’ll be fast sweetie, in and out, I’m sure Jason will be there. You love Jason.”

         “Mom, I don’t want to talk about it.”

         We rode in silence the next few blocks to the lab, Summer plugged out with her ipod and Jazi doodled pictures in the backseat.

          Behind the counter was an overweight Asian woman with an apparent inability to smile. “Is Jason here?” I asked her.

          “No, Jason hasn’t worked here in two years.”

          Why I began arguing with her I still don’t know. “That’s impossible” I told her. “He was here the last time we drew her blood, he always draws her blood.”

            “Not in the last two years.” She said leaning over the counter on the palms of her hands.

            “It hasn’t been two years, we were here just six months ago, and you weren’t here and before that Jason was here every week.”

           “Well, not anytime in the last two years,” she said shaking her head and rolling her eyes.

            May tugged on my sleeve, “Mom, Jason wasn’t here the last time.”  

             I took a deep, anxious breath and turned back to the woman. “Well then just give me the best person back there, the most gentle you’ve got….” And then I added snippily, under my breath, “but it hasn’t been two years!”

             She scribbled something down on a yellow post it and stuck it to May’s chart. Then she told us to take a seat, that they’d call us back when it was our turn.

            A few minutes later some new guy opened the door and called her name. “Muh-hall-uh”.

             “It’s Mahala,” I told him as May and I followed him through the door.

             You could tell right away he was green. It may have even been his first day. I sat down in the seat and May climbed up into my lap and plopped her left arm palm side up on the table. “I think this vein is better today,” she said, “but I feel kinda dehydrated so it might be hard to find.”

              He was fidgety, skittish even. He pressed his pointer finger in the crease of her arm and then asked to see her other arm.

              I let out a deep sigh. I could tell May was starting to fret. I can always tell because she gets kinda spacey and whimpers a little.

              “Um…I... think it might be better if she sat in the chair by herself, she’s a little too high up being in your lap,” he stuttered as he spoke.

              But she always sits in my lap when she has her blood drawn, since the first time, when she was only eight. I hold her tightly in my arms and pray through the whole thing. Jason knows this; it’s never a problem for Jason.

               “Actually…Mom, maybe you should just go,” May said as she looked up at me with those deep green eyes…those eyes… they would make even the hardest of hearts melt into a puddle on the floor.  

               “Would that help, sweetie?”

               “Yeah, Mom, I’ll be alright.”

                “Okay, what ever you need, Love.” It all happened so fast. Before I knew it, I was back in the waiting room, standing like a guard, just outside the door.

                “Mom, where’s May?” Summer asked.

                 “She’s still in there, baby.”

                 “Mom is she okay?”

                 “Yes, honey, she’s fine.”

                 “Mom are you okay?”

                 “Uh, huh…yeah honey…”

                  I stood there on the outside. Time stopped. My heart raced, my throat closed.  I listened to her soft whimpers through the closed door.

                   “Mommy, mommy…come sit down. Jazi tugged at my hand and led me to my seat. I sat down and Jazi wiggled up into my lap and brushed her tiny hand across my cheek. “Oh…its okay Mommy, “she said, “May’s gonna be okay.”

                   “Mom, you’ve gotta hear this song.” I heard Summer say it but I just stared at the closed door. “Mom, here listen to this…”

                    She tried to hand me her earphones but I waved them away. “Not right now sweetie, I’ll hear it later.”

        “No Mom, listen now…it will make you feel better.”    

          I looked down at my other two girls, the healthy ones, the ones who seem to get the least of me…and I missed them terribly. I wrapped my arms around them and squeezed them close to my chest. “Okay Sweetie, give me the earphones.”

          The music filled my head and my heart swelled.


“I can change the world…with my own two hands

make it a better place, with my own two hands

make it a kinder place, with my own two hands

With my own, with my own… two hands

I can make peace on earth, with my own two hands

I can clean up the earth, with my own two hands

I can reach out to you, with my own two hands

With my own, with my own… two hands

With my own, with my own… two hands

I’m gonna make it a brighter place, with my own two hands

I’m gonna make it a safer place, with my own two hands

I’m gonna help the human race, with my own two hands

With my own… with my own… two hands

 With my own… with my own… two hands

I can hold you, in my own two hands

 And I can comfort you, with my own two hands

But you got to use… use your own, two hands, use your own, use your own…two hands

With our own two hands… with our own… two hands…with our own two hands

With my own…with my own…two hands”


           Tears ran down my face as I held my babies and swayed to the music and I realized that behind that door, and in my lap, were not only two, but six little hands. Six hands with the ability to change the world, make it a better place, a kinder place, a brighter place, a more peaceful place; that they would be hands that would reach out and hold and bring comfort that would help the human race. I also realized that more and more, as they were able, I would be on the outside of it all. That their path, their story, with all their own sufferings, all their own joys, was between them and their maker, hardly any of my business at all. And I understood what she was doing in there; she needed me out of the way, so she could draw close to Him. Through all of this horror…she found Him…I know this. I may have lost my ability to know what to feed her, but she gained the understanding that He knows, and that He has, what she is hungry for.

          When she finally came out of the room, both her arms were bandaged and bruised. I rushed to her side.

           “Did he get it, are you alright?”

            “Yeah, Mom…I’m fine, can we go now?”

            As we walked towards the elevator I put my arm around May’s shoulders and Summer and Jaz huddled in close. “Well, that guy was totally out of it, huh? I mean he must have been new.”

             And her reply was so typical May. “Yeah, I felt so terrible for him. He was so nervous, he couldn’t find my vein, he even had to get his boss to help him…and I think you made him extra nervous, Mom” she said with a chuckle.

              She was so okay…she was more than okay. She was extraordinary. And I’d bet good money that she changed that new guy’s day, with her kindness…and with her own two hands.

            When May was 3 days old I lifted her to the heavens, high above my head, I raised her tiny body and with trembling hands sang,


“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.

Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

O to grace how deep a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.

Let thy goodness, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”


       Here’s my heart, Lord, seal her for your courts above. He had given her to me and I knew I had to give her back. That she was only on loan; that each day that I nursed her, bathed her, rocked her to sleep was borrowed time. I’ve known it all along. I knew the first time I held her, the first time I held each of my babies, that all that magic swaddled up in my arms was so much bigger than me. I knew that there were many things I’d be instinctually good at and I trusted the women around me to help me muddle through the rest. I knew Jon would shine. But I also knew that there were some things we were never meant to do and that her deepest longings could be met by Christ alone. But that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier, the three year old in me still wants to grab her tight and scream, “Mine!” But that’s not what is best for her, and a good mama does what is best for her baby.      

        So when Wednesday morning came around I knew what I had to do. I hunkered myself down on the landing of our stairwell, where the morning sun streams through the window, and I raised my hands to the heavens and gave her up…again. I let her go, again. I gave her to the One who had given her to me, the One who created her, adores her and knows… and has…every thing she needs.

         I had no idea what the day would bring. I had prepared for the labs to show the worst, played out all the scenarios. I had allowed my mind to go there…and see if I would still say God was good, all the time. Oh, how I hoped I would, how I hoped I would have the courage to be faithful.

        Well, I guess for now, I won’t know the answer to that…because by His great mercy and grace…she is still well. Her sluggishness attributed to normal adolescent growth, three quarters of an inch taller, actually. The doctor says she’ll probably be taller than me soon. Her liver is still perfect, her thyroid is perfect and the medications are daily stabilizing her blood sugar. He’s on the case, He hears my cries. Not a night goes by where we don’t still lay our hands on that sweet baby and pray for each cell, each part of her. And we know there is no guarantee that her health will always be well…however through all of this I hear her singing, I lean my head on the hallway, just outside her room and I can hear her. I think she knows I’m there; maybe it’s her way of telling me she’s okay…and she sings,


Well, I could sing unending songs

Of how you saved my soul

And I could dance a thousand miles

Because of your great love

My heart is bursting Lord

To tell of all you’ve done

Of how you’ve changed my life

And wiped away the past

I want to shout it out

From every rooftop sing

For Now I know

That God is for me, not against me

Well, I could sing unending songs

Of how you saved my soul

And I could dance a thousand miles

Because of your great love

I want to shout it out

From every rooftop sing

For now I know

That God is for me, not against me

Everybody’s singing now,

Cause we’re so happy

Everybody’s dancing now

Cause we’re so happy

If only I could see your face,

See you smiling over us

Unseen angels celebrate

The joy that’s in this place!

The Joy that’s in this place!



Motherhood is Kind of a Rip Off

I just found this little rant in the rubble of my email, written in 2007. May was only 11, Summer was 10 and Jaz was just a wee 7. A sad bit of prophesy...

 Motherhood is kind of a rip-off. It all starts as passion ignites a tiny wildfire within, you rub your hands across the surface of your swelling belly and drift you go, ever so lightly, and ignorantly, into the distance… Will she have my eyes? Will she have his smile? Will she be healthy, will she be strong? Will I be good at this? After all I did forget to change Baby Alive’s fake poopy diaper and that mushy stuff did mildew and stick to her plastic bottom. But I was only six, now I’m a grown up, surely I’ll now know what to do.

 So you make it through your first pregnancy and it’s all about you and baby. People say you glow; they talk about your baby. You now tear up when you see pictures of the Madonna and Jesus. You recognize a deep, quiet place that you never knew about yourself that turns everything you once believed upside down and now your rose-colored glasses…well, now they are baby-colored glasses. How will the price of eggs affect my baby? How will this culture affect my baby, how will this air affect my baby, how will this war affect my baby? Even before the child’s birth, born in you is Mommy. Stairs become death traps, boiling water… a trip to the emergency room, a fast car… an asshole trying to run your baby off the road.

 And so begins the barrage of timeless questions and the pressure of answering correctly. How long shall I nurse her?  How do I comfort her? What do I do when she is sick? When she is an infant, the sleepless nights will leave you scattered and unkempt, your mistakes will be many and you will shutter at every near miss of potential disaster. Each time she falls, you will brush her off, soothe her cries, cradle her in your breast. You will be responsible for the healing and the fixing and the cleaning and the finding and the everything… You will never sleep again, not really, not in the way you had when you were the child and your mother lay awake in the next room wondering, worrying and praying. You will never really eat the same either, not without making sure she has been fed first, that her tummy is full and doesn’t hurt and that you picked out all the stinky little green onions from her plate of casserole.

You’ll throw fits in doctor’s offices when she has a fever, you’ll demand an answer, search to the edges of the earth to find solutions to her challenges, remedies to what ails her. Mommy is unstoppable; you can swim in her love.     

She will grow and much of you will stay the same. Day in and day out, with each ticking moment, you will feed her and wash her and discipline her and make sure she brings a sweatshirt each time she leaves the house. (When she is thirteen she will roll her eyes at you, but one thing you have learned in your old age is that you never can tell when the weather will change.) And if you are a good mom, you will pray for her, you will ask her forgiveness when you blow it and you will tell her you love her each and every day.  You’ll learn these things from all the parenting books you’ll pick up at Borders with your husband on date night. And at dinner you’ll talk about what she’s going through at school and you’ll pray she loves Jesus enough to rifle through all that peer pressure. Then, because after all it is date night, a time to celebrate what started the tiny wildfire to begin with; you’ll stroll, hand in hand, off to see the newest movie about family life and parenthood…just the two of you… Mommy and Daddy.  

And all of it is worth it because she is your baby. When Mommy was born in you, death to yourself became second nature. Guilt became your new best friend and depriving yourself for your child, an often joyous, and always righteous, sacrament. Love and devotion to your baby is a calling bigger than you, in instinct of miraculous measures. This is what the Hallmark cards are made of, tributes to the mothers who sacrificed and poured out and never gave up, whose love taught, protected, encouraged and moved mountains.         

Sure, you’ll nurture here and there the things that still make you, “you”. You’ll paint or write or take a class once in a while. You’ll laugh at the moms who have soccer-mom bumper stickers…as if your baby’s goal last season wasn’t the highlight of your life.

But all in all,  you know that nothing, nothing at all, no measure of success or fame, no praise of friend or colleague can come close to that sleep-in-the eye yawn and her stuffy-nosed, “Mommy, I love you.” And as for her, “Mommy, I need you,” well… the whole world will have to stop for that. My baby needs me; now get out of my way.

However, here’s the catch…she will leave. And you are virtually dismissed, stripped of your duties. Oh, it doesn’t happen overnight if that brings any consolation, it’s a slow and agonizing process, like the daily peeling of a bandage, piece by piece,  one day she’s using a fork, one day she’s tying her own shoes and one day she’ll be driving a car…“No,” she’ll say, “I can do it myself.” And you should be so proud. You’ll have raised her so well, she can do it herself. That’s the catch. You do a good job and they can do it themselves. And then she’ll get in that car… and she’ll drive away.

And so you have to let go.  Hmm…I’m laughing out loud. It’s the game of tag you were never meant to win. From the moment they leave your womb, you chase them and they are never really caught… never in that place again; that deep, quiet place where their very shape was formed. That place from which their heart first began to beat and every hiccup, every sneeze, every kick… was known to you, from your inside. That tiny ignition of wildfire now spreads out and beyond you. And it begs the question, was she ever really mine? Was she ever really my baby?

And the truth is she’s not even really a baby anymore. She’s trapped somewhere between my baby and her own lovely young womanhood; a place undefined and reckless and full of potentially immeasurable disaster but also of great wonder and creativity and innocence. And so again begins the barrage of timeless questions and the pressure to answer correctly. How do I let go? Where do I let go? When do I let go? What things do I keep a tight hold on and for how long? Will she remember her sweatshirt? Will she where her seatbelt? Will she be okay when she is sick? And will she love Jesus enough?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Growing Up by Run River North

It's an amazing gift to have teenagers that share cool music with me... 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Table

Jon and I got, yet another, piece of scrap wood to test out stains for our kitchen table. We've been to three different hardware stores and bought several cans of varying shades. There's no real method to the madness, I just keep slopping on the colors, waiting for magic. Our garage is beginning to look like Jackson Polluck's barn.

It's been a month since we finished the table...we built it as a gift to each other for our twenty-first wedding anniversary. I did most of the designing. For weeks, I poured over magazines and blogs, researching color and style and shape. Jon listened earnestly to every detail. On date nights, we walked through furniture stores and ran our fingers atop tables and chairs.

We have the same taste mostly. Simple, Shaker-like, warm. I wanted an honest table. He wanted a strong table. We wanted a table that would last, that would one day host son-in-laws eating gumbo and grand-babies slurping up rice cereal.

Jon can build anything. Years ago I brought home some old cupboard doors that Mayli had torn out of her kitchen and Jon made me a bench that we still use to this day. He built a cradle for Summer, a toddler bed for May, and two sets of bunk beds.

He even built a kitchen table once before. Oh, how I cried the day he brought it home. I had asked for a small knotty-pine breakfast nook, back then it was just the two of us and baby May. He brought home what mildly resembled a pool table and could quite comfortably seat at least ten people, had we had room for that many chairs. We had to take the windows off the side of the house just to get it indoors.

But this time, we planned better...

We decided on the length, and the depth and the height, every angle. We measured it to where his elbows would rest and where my feet would land.

We chose the lumber, piece by piece. Jon shuffled through the heavy stacks, and I pointed and nodded, or pointed and grimaced. "This is a nice one," he'd say, and I'd agree.

Jon built the table in just 2 days, eight feet long, with matching benches on both sides. The wood is worn and imperfect and scarred in some places.

It may be the most beautiful piece of furniture on the planet.

As I stood this morning in my Polluck-garage, head cocked and squinting at the drying colors on the scrap board, my neighbor hollered over, "Watching paint dry again, Tami?"

I nodded and smiled.

I'm just so afraid to stain it wrong, ruin it's unfinished beauty...

I need Jon. I'll have to wait until he gets home from work. I'll have him look at the color and remind me of what I am going for...remind me of our original vision. The process gets fuzzy for me. I can see where I want to go but I don't always know how to get there...but Jon is a natural builder, sees the finished project.

Well, now it's been nearly a year... We're just about to celebrate twenty-two and I never finished the post, because we never finished the table.

One of the benches still has various stains slopped on an end...but all of them just ended up looking Faux. And I hate Faux. Our original vision was that nouveau-barn look that keeps popping up in Restoration hardware and model homes. We looked into the reclaimed wood thing, but it was super expensive. It would have been about five grand for the amount we needed. I think we spent less than two hundred dollars on our wood at Home Depot, and that's including the nails.

So I think I've finally made a decision...I think I'll rub it with some wax...go with the grain...across the top and on the edges. I'll fill a mason jar with Tuberose and light some candles... and I'll let it It'll host Nana's casserole and warm bowls of soup and coffee on bright mornings...and there will be laughter there...and surely some tears. It will be a homework spot and a bill paying spot, a spot to tell stories and to listen.

It is still unfinished, time will change it on it's own. It will get worn and it will be loved...just the way it is...imperfect...but honest and strong.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Cussed Out the Orphans...

I cussed out the orphans. I was sorry for it even as the words left my lips, but still like vomit they came spewing out.

I was having a moment.

In my defense I had held strong for days, even as I left her at the airport, I bit my lip, held back my tears, and saluted to my little soldier for the Lord. But as the days and nights stretched long and quiet, her absence ran icy through my blood. Even the yellow bell peppers at the grocery store made my belly turn. Summer eats them like apples, has since she was a little girl.

The real problem is, I am animal. And all of my lofty ideas about God and purpose and servant hood can not override the mama bear inside of me. And I roared, I stood tall on my hind legs and snarled my teeth wide and clawed at the bare air in front of me.

With great regret, my still-home cubs were in ear shot, and they whimpered and scurried to their corners of the cave.

I emptied the dishwasher, crashing and slamming the cupboard doors, sobbing in a swirl of anger and fear.

My fault, really. I had read the news. You should never read the news when one of your cubs is in a third world country, hours outside of a city, with no internet, no phone. There are wars and rumors of wars, and floods and famine, disease and death. Pick any night of the week, always a tragic story, the kind where you shake your head in disbelief and wonder how this world could be so ugly.

And I know that's why she went. I get it. I know that love is worth dying for. But tell that to my heart, tell that to my adrenal glands.

One, two, three, four...five. Five days left until her blonde ponytail will come bouncing out of the terminal. I know her face will be all aglow and she'll chatter endlessly on the car ride home about how the Lord moved and how the orphans smiled. I know she'll seem taller...and wiser. And I know she'll leave a part of her heart in Haiti forever...I'm just really ready for the rest of her to come home.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Quiet Here...

I can feel the doom lurking in the corners. The hot August air swirls dust bunnies and cobwebs on the living room floor. A soft splash echoes from Jasmine who lays stretched long in the bath, reading. At nearly thirteen she is lovely and soon to be taller than me. But the bedrooms are quiet. The refrigerator hosts only a few necessities for feeding just three and the pantry is nearly bare. Yeah, I know, they'll be back, but for how long? May a month, Summer a year...and then like feathers soft in the wind...their gone again. By this time next year, I'll have two in college and a freshman in high school. Up, up, up and away.

It's not that I would have it any other way. When May took her first steps, we hooted and hollered, squeezed her tight and said, "You did it Baby, you walked!" She threw back her head and giggled long and deep, so proud. Each step we've celebrated. And always following me...lingering in the shadows...I knew. I knew we were teaching them how to live without us.

And oh, goodness, they are so glorious...they are smart and funny and courageous and accomplished. They have great big giant hearts, and this old world is lucky to have them. They will fly and they will thrive and they will give back. No mama could be more proud.

But I don't quite know what to do with myself and this looming empty nest.

I am Mama, it's what I love, it's what I's who I am. I know...I know, that's not fashionable anymore. And in these parts, you don't find many traditionally run homes. Both parents work, they have to, they say. But Jon and I have found that there are several creative ways to run a household on one income, and the trade off being the one who was able to be here all these years, for every first step, every scraped knee, every tear, every belly laugh, every everything, is a choice I'll never regret.

But when they are gone, who will I be? Sure, I have hobbies and Jon and I still want to travel someday. And Lord knows, I'll have to do something to help with that college tuition. And I even have some buried aspirations and hibernating dreams. I was so young when being Mama overtook my every waking, and every sleeping moment. There are for sure some things left undone.

And I want to grow. I want to become something new. I want this new phase to be a birth and not so much of a death. And I want my kids to be proud of me. I don't want to muddle around in this house waiting for them to visit, guilting them into visiting. I want to fly too. I'm not really sure what that will look like, maybe it won't look like much to the outside world. But I know it's coming...and I'm getting ready, feels like I'm about to jump off a cliff, and I really hope the parachute opens.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Jesus Gave Me Yoga

...for julie

I became a Christian at Calvary Chapel. I was swooned in by the music. My heart softened by the dim lights and the melodic repetition ... He who began a good work in you…He who… began a good work in youuuuu…he’ll be faithful to complete it, he ’ll be faithful to complete it…He who started the work...will be faithful to complete it in you… I know you are humming it now. I can see my friend Lynn up on that stage, her wide teeth-showing smile, the light in her eyes, pointing her long pink fingernail right at my heart and singing …in you!
 I’d plant my bare feet to the floor, wiggle my toes on the carpet, close my eyes and raise my hands, fingers wide, high to the Heavens… Lord, I lift your name on high...Lord, I love to sing your praises… I’m so glad you’re in my life, I’m so glad you came to save us, You came from heaven to earth to show the Way, from the earth to the cross, my debt to pay, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, Lord I lift your name on high…
Unified with my community of worshipers, the declaration of celebration would begin…
Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above, with wisdom, power and love, Our God Is an awesome God!!!
We sing glory, honor…the battle belongs to the Lord…
And I’d drop to my knees, bow my head… No one but you Lord, can satisfy the longing in my heart, nothing I do Lord, can take the place of drawing near to you….cause only you can fill my deepest longing, only you can breathe in me new life, only you can fill my heart with laughter, only you can answer my heart’s cry…and the tears would stream, just as they are now, bathing my soul.
And as my heart rate slowed and I began to breathe deep and calm, my voice lifted from my belly…
In the morning when I rise…in the morning when I rise…in the morning, when I rise…Give me Jesus…Give me Jesus..give me Jesus…you can have all this world…you can have all this world…but give me… Je..eee…sus
Back then I went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays.  And by Saturday and Tuesday my chest would start to ache for worship. I’d drive to church with joyful and desperate anticipation, knowing God would meet me there and my heart would find rest as the music began. The stark newness of spending time in the healing presence of God was food to my young starved heart.
Give ear to my words, oh Lord… consider my meditation…hearken unto the voice of my cry… my King, and my God… for unto thee will I pray…my voice shalt thou hear in the morning,  oh Lord… in the morning, will I direct my prayer unto thee… and will look up...
I would look up, and the Lord heard my cries and my prayers as I meditated on Him in the morning and in the evening. I would sing… and I would release… and I would hold on to hope with my words, my breath, my mind, my body and my spirit.
And after… I was clean… my heart washed, my mind clear, the ache in my chest replaced by the calming balm of the Holy Spirit…like magic.  
And with that I was able to face another day, tackling the battles of my mind… and winning.
But now that I’m wrinkly… My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold… And I know how I ought to be…  Alive to you and dead to me… But what can be done for an old heart like mine? Soften it up with oil and wine… the oil is you, your spirit of love… please wash me anew…with the wine of your blood…
But the charismatic faith of my youth has wavered and often I find myself jaded and self- conscious. But life still kicks my ass… and I’m still just, if not more, as desperate for peace and rest and sweet release.
I told this to the Lord recently.
He replied, “Namaste”…well, not audibly, but in that God-leading-me sort of way. 

In yoga practice, communally we start the flow, standing at the top of our mats, we spread our toes wide and ground our bare feet to the earth, the music is soft, the lights are low…I am swooned in. We shut our eyes, hold our hands to our heart’s center in prayer… and we breathe. Inhale deep through the nose, audible exhale out the mouth… and let it go. The air there is 110 degrees and as the beads of sweat drop and pool to the floor, the cleansing begins.
The instructor says in a soft voice, “Set your intention for the class, maybe a word, a focus that is thankful and restorative.”
And I hear, “meditate on whatsoever is lovely and true.” (Philippians 4:8)
Arms overhead, fingers fan wide and a gentle back bend… look up… and open the heart…
…then forward fold, half way lift, crouch and curl, head bows and fingers touch the floor…and my whole body worships.
…Oh come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our God,our Maker…
Half way lift and rise, biceps to ears for mountain pose…heart to sky, fingers wide… and repeat gentle back bend…
Then she says, “Cast off that which is no longer serving you.”
And I hear, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18)
Forward fold, half way lift, crouch and curl, fingers to the earth, bow head…
Breathe here for a moment, in through the nose, out through the nose… and rest.
Rise again, flat back strong, arms wide in a reverse swan dive, lift with your legs and belly engaged, relax the shoulders, arms reach to the sky…mountain pose!
My breath is an ocean, my feet root down to the earth, my hands stretch to the heavens… my muscles are alive… and my body rejoices…and in this moment, I have victory.
Balancing Eagle Pose...
“Remember,” she says, “you are not your pose, listen to your body, honor and bless the body that you are in today.”
My body is God’s temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Left arm under the right for eagle arms, left leg wraps around right to balance…find your Drishti, your still, focal point… so you won’t fall...and squeeze…
You’re here for 3…2…1…now same thing, other side.
“Beautiful job Yogi’s, now shake it off and let it go.”
Down dog, lunge through, rainbow it out, Warrior Two, bend your knee deep into your warrior pose, fierce and strong,  feel the stretch… reverse the warrior, lift your gaze, stand firm…
They will be as a mighty warrior.  (Zechariah 10:5)
Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  (1Corinthians 16:13)
…I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all, I'll stand my soul Lord to you surrendered…all I am is yours…
I’ve exercised before, I know the serotonin rush that comes with a good sweat, but setting your intention for that hour to be honoring to God, to be in His presence, to immerse your whole body ,mind and spirit in a practice that is centering and cleansing and forgiving and excepting… is truly magical.

Jon gets this. He mountain bikes through the hills near our house and he comes home drenched and dirty, with pink cheeks and looking like a boy. He says out there he hears God. When he reaches the top of a long, steep hill, he climbs down from his bike, bends his knees in the dirt and raises his hands to the sky. As he pants for breath and rest, he praises God and His great creation.
Now a warning does need to be said. For sure, yoga can deviate into darker places masquerading as light. And I am in no way saying that yoga itself should be worshiped.
You shall have no other God’s before me. (Exodus 20:3)
My friend Julie brings a tiny gold cross and places it at the top of her mat for focus and protection.
And trust me, I have more history with occult activity then I care to recall and after eight hours of deliverance prayer, I am in no position to play with fire. But I do believe Jesus gave me yoga.
I was stuck…stuck between an aging and tired faith and my desperate need for daily renewal. And as only sweet Jesus can do, he gave me a way out.   (1Corinthians 10:13)
…when my heart runs dry, and there’s no song to sing, no holy melody, no words of love within, I recall the height from which, this fragile heart has slipped…And I’ll remember you…I will turn back and do the things I used to do….
My bare feet ground down to the earth…my hands stretch to the sky… gentle back bend and my heart lifts and opens…hands to prayer and I crouch and curl, fingers to the earth, I breathe, I bow my head… and I surrender… I release…
…for the love of Youuuuu…
 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
At the end of class we lay on our backs, arms to our side, palms open and we close our eyes… and in quiet and stillness… we rest.
And then the instructor says, “The highest light in me honors and respects the highest light in you.”
And I hear, “Love one another, for love is of God.” (1 John 1:4)

Namaste, Amen.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Jesus Wept

When my baby girl died in my belly, I wept, like hard rain. Christmas came soon after and the babies at church were dressed in red velvet dresses and white tights.
My chest ached heavy.

One of our pastors at the time came up to Jon and said, “Your wife is not exhibiting the joy of the Lord and that’s a sin.” He said that I was not being a good witness for Jesus. I felt ashamed.
Six weeks had passed since I had labored long hours and our tiny Kala Maria had slipped lifelessly from my womb.

Jesus wept.
I got an email the other day from a young missionary girl in Cambodia who sheepishly confessed that she was feeling sad. She said that she knew God had given her a gift of joy but that lately she had been reflecting  on specific times in her life that had been super hard and confusing and painful. She said the Lord had been showing her, that throughout her childhood, she had been taught that no matter what is going on inside, that she should dress it up and make it look beautiful on the outside, so that no one knows. She had been taught there was shame in pain too.
A broken spirit and a contrite heart, these the Lord does not despise. I turn this up loud when Fernando belts it out on my stereo.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,  a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
Sometimes it’s time to weep. Surely Jesus thought so.

Even though he had the power and intention to restore Lazarus life, he was sad about death and He was sad because his friends were sad.
Strange that I’m thinking about all this now, because I have actually been feeling really happy lately. But I am so acutely aware of the process God has taken to bring me to this hilltop season, the long and grueling battle where clinging to the mane of Aslan was my only hope for survival.  In God’s timing Joy has returned, but not because I chose it…but because it chose me. And it could not be rushed or conjured up.

God decides the time for birth, death, planting, uprooting, killing, healing, tearing down, building, weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing, scattering, gathering, embracing, refraining, searching, giving up, keeping, throwing away, tearing, mending, silence, speaking, loving, hating, war and peace.  God decides.
And experiencing shame, from the roller coaster of emotions that come with these seasons, is from our enemy.

There’s this scene from the movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, where Jennifer Garner, and some guy who plays her husband, take their little boy to school for the first time. They’re all nervous and overbearing and checking twice to make sure he has his lunch and then the dad says, “Have a good day son!” Jennifer flashes her golden smile and then says to her husband, “Oh no Honey, don’t say that, it’s too much pressure.” So then the dad yells out quickly, “Have the day you have, son.”
So have the day you have… Jesus’ name will still be The Great I Am.