Sunday, December 21, 2014


I went for a walk this morning. It was hard. My body didn't feel up to it, it rarely does. But while my full house breathed deep and heavy, I pulled May's college sweatshirt over my head, and tip-toed out the front door. I love mornings, you wouldn't think this was true, because I do own a mug that says in bold black letters, "Good F-ing Morning", but really I do think mornings are absolutely lovely, I just also happen to think the mug is funny.

It was kind of a hazy morning. Winter in California doesn't really know what it wants to be. The honeysuckle and jasmine are always so confused. Just when you see snowy peaks over the Inland Empire, a string of days will come so bright and warm that random blossoms will spring from the greyest of vines.

I stuck my nose deep in the yellow of a honeysuckle this morning. I inhaled the velvety sweetness and closed my eyes. I wanted so badly to pick it, stuff it into the pocket of May's sweatshirt, so I could take it out and smell it later. But it was all alone out there this morning, peeking out from it's wiry branch, and I thought it best to leave it for the next passerby. Although, I don't know if many of my fellow morning trail blazers would crouch down, booty in the air, eyes closed, face pressed into this quiet solo bloom, but one has to hope.

It's four days before Christmas and the faces of my community are mostly friendly but also frantic and tired, and I'm sure mine reflects the same. We are all doing our best to be merry in this season. Along the way, people pass me a lot, I walk slow, but I keep hearing Annie Lamott telling me, "One does what one can, one does what one can..." She is so good to me. I practiced grace for my legs, they kept going, they were good to me this morning too.

I walk in flip-flops, my wide-spread German feet need to breathe, only my dad really gets this. So I trade blisters for shin splints, but my feet hug the earth and I think this connects me more to God.

And I had so much to talk to Him about this morning. My kids, my friends, my husband, my siblings, my mom, my dad, the general state of the universe. My head was so foggy, blurred by the traffic and the shopping and the wrapping and the hoping of the last few weeks. I asked God to put a song in my heart but nothing really came, so I just kept on walking and breathing, step after step and eventually some of the holiday anxiety lifted.

As I came to the end of my walk, I rounded the corner near the bottom of my street and a butterfly crossed my path and landed on one of the square bushes that lines the trail. I have never seen a butterfly like it before. It was magnificent. It was sort of a blend of copper and mulled wine, like it was a holiday-themed butterfly. It sat still on a leaf, wings spread wide, displaying it's intricate beauty, shimmering in the light and a wild contrast to the bland backdrop of trees and bushes.

I immediately thought of my friend Julie, I think if she was a butterfly, that's the kind she would be.
She's Italian and passionate and smart and witty. And she sparkles in all the right ways, not show-offy, just talented and kind and dedicated to God and her husband and her kids. She is my Jewel.

And then I started to cry. And God stopped me in my tracks. I said out loud, "I just want to be a bush." And then I said it again, "Do you hear me God? I just want to be a bush!"

He said no.

And I realized something about myself that may not be a new realization, but when God reflects something back at me from His creation, I tend to take notice.

I've always wanted to be a bush. I work really hard at trying to be a bush, to just blend in to the backdrop, to be "normal". Hah!

But now I'm thinking maybe that's not really what God wants me to be.

Maybe God wants me to be a butterfly, like my Jewel. Maybe God wants me to spread my wings a off my intricate beauty... and  maybe even fly...maybe He's got colors all picked out just for me...and maybe, I too...will shimmer in the light. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I bleed a lot. I always have, and I'm not really sure why. Every doctor seems to have a different opinion. But the flow is heavy and it can be super painful. From the loss of blood, my body has become depleted. A few times a year I go in for an IV drip of iron. It's so expensive. As I sit and watch the black liquid poor into my vein, I think of all the things I could have bought, all the things my girls need, all the bills I could have paid.

When I'm bleeding super heavy, I seem a little bit crazy. I can't focus, I can't finish my thoughts. I don't understand the things people are saying around me. I get tired and irritable. It's embarrassing. And its so gross.

Sometimes it can cause terrible nightmares. Last night I dreamt I had lost my glasses and I couldn't see and someone had stolen my purse and my license and my phone. There was a man sitting between me and my children. I called to them saying, "Girls, call Daddy, I can't see anything, tell him to pick us up, I've lost my purse." The man started yelling at me and threatened to call the police if I came any closer. "What are you talking about?" I said, "These are my kids." The man started dialing 911. Then the man called someone else and told them he'd called the police and to please pray for the children because their mom was crazy. I called out to my babies, "Girls, you have to call Daddy, I've lost everything!" They just stared down at their phones. The man laughed. "No!" I shouted, "This isn't right!" The man's laugh grew louder. "Nope, nope, no way!" I yelled as I pointed my finger at his face. "This isn't real, my children wouldn't treat me this way, you're not real, this is a dream!" And poof, I awoke.

I went to the bathroom to bleed some more. Then I grabbed my glasses and my bible and went to the couch. I wanted to read about the miracle of when Jesus healed the bleeding woman. I began to read in Mark, and I read, "she had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse."

And I cried. I cried because I realized that the miracle wasn't really about the healing. The miracle was that... He saw, that He sees me, that He knows when I'm bleeding, when I'm hurting. He knows. That's the miracle. Emanuel, that's the secret! He knows each tear that falls. The miracle is His compassion. Emanuel. Emanuel. Emanuel. God loves me...and today it feels brand new.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014


The summer flowers in my pots are blown out and wild. Save only one young green shoot that has sprung up through the leftovers of July's glory. I remember planting it many months ago. I had picked up the bag of bulbs for a dollar, knowing at the time it was well past their planting season. But I shoved them deep in the soil anyway, under summer's chamomile and lavender, with the hopes of maybe a few blooms in the spring. But this early one is such a sweet surprise. I have been watching it unfold throughout the week, in between the endless trips to Target and the mall.

"Oh, mom, I forgot to get...and what if I need...and do you think my dorm will have?"

So we make the list and off we go again. My Summer is my planner, my prepared girl. She could live on an island for a year, from the boxes of supplies stacking up in our garage.

 "Sweetie, you are only an hour away, if you forget something, I can bring it to you," I tell her.

But I don't think she can hear me. I can see the wheels turning in her mind. She hasn't really been here for weeks now. So much of her is already there, walking the pathway's to her classes, lost in all those daydreams of what is to come, and come ever so quickly they will.

Tomorrow, 9am.

It is no surprise to me that in this morning's warm sunlight, that young green shoot is in full bloom. It is also no surprise to me that it is yellow. Eighteen years ago I brought my little Summer baby home in yellow. It has always been her color, my sunshine girl.

Soon I will clean out the pots on my porch and make room for falls wine and wheat colored mums. I will shake out the dried sprigs of chamomile and lavender and the wind will carry their seeds away. I pray they will land and take root somewhere kind. They have quite a journey to brave. They will have to hide from the militant gardener, with his ceaseless noise polluting blower. I'll never understand the need to push leaves around with a bossy machine, when God does a pretty decent job of it all on His own, swirling the fallen shades of gold and red in the Autumn breeze.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Sea

Tick, tock goes that mean old clock. One, two, three and four... and then no more. My little LuLu stretches big under the covers, in her boxed-up room. The past few days her heart has raced and teeter-tottered between joy and thrill to nausea and fret. She fears she will have no friends. My sparkling girl.

This Sabbath morning the house is full and still deep in slumber. A chorus of deep and slow melodic breathing sounds out from every room. Even the couch cradles two baby girls with scraps of midnight crafts scattered half finished on the coffee table. Just like thirteen year olds at a sleep over, but they're not. They are twenty and spent the late hours of the night creating pintristy decorations for October's wedding. Lace will be the first baby girl to marry come this fall.

And in six days, another adventure begins for my May. Hah! Was she ever really mine? Up, up, up, and away, her wings stretch like an eagle... and she soars, oh sweet Lord, she soars!  And even though my tired and fragile heart rattles around in my chest, I accept that her mission is bigger than mama and any attempts to tether her would wound those beautiful wings. But I will have grace on myself, I will not let Shame accuse me in my episodes of worry.

My Jasmine, who is in all perceptions, still sort of mine, starts high school tomorrow. Each day her petals delicately unfold into loveliness and leave behind the baby bud she used to be. And now comes dances and football games...and boys!

And the man who holds us all stirs behind me. Rest is a hot commodity for this sweet guitar playing hippy boy turned Vice President in a tie.

And the sea...

still touches the shore and recedes...

and repeat, repeat, repeat...

Monday, August 11, 2014


I trace my fingers over the words one another, as I have loved you...

My lip trembles

I press in...

with fear

so much fear.

The band plays...

Go before me, through the valley

Speak to me, for I know your voice.

Do I?

Lead me homeward, gentle Shepherd,

God of love, God of grace.

Tap, tap, tap...

goes the knock at my door.

and with fear

so much fear...

I look to see if He's still there.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Just Another Day in May

It's too quiet here...again. The stretches have been peppered in over the past few years, while at dance practices and friend's houses, but the inevitable long stretch of silence is within days and I'm finding it hard to catch my breath.

May stirs in her bed, her last sleeping-in day before the early rise of her summertime job. I try to type quietly as to not disturb her in her sand-in-the-hourglass morning of rest. She leaves Monday for the mountains, the kids at Camp Pondo need her, she tells me with a smirk.

Summer is at school for her very last Friday ever of high school, next Friday she will graduate and next Saturday she will be on a plane to visit a long lost friend in a distant land. And come ever-so-quickly in the fall, she's off to college.

I will pour myself joyfully into Jasmine the next four years and savor her still-left moments of being a young girl. But the opening ceremonies of this season of her life are upon us. Today I will only see her for an hour, I will pick her up from school and than drop her off at a sleepover birthday party.

and so it begins...

But I hate the term "empty nest". It's so dismissive of my continuing job description. May's first year at college she called me three to four times a week in the middle of the night. I'd awake in a panic assuming the worst.

"Hi mom, I wanted to tell you about my classes today."

And as I settled into my pillow and listened to her soft voice, I remembered college kids keep all hours...just like newborns.

So I'll tend to the nest, weave in new leaves and grasses, branches and scavenged yarn. I'll keep it warm and open.

And I'll keep my eyes lifted to the sky...because I know their wings will always fly them home.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Hope Abounds

All was lost. There was no more breath. The enemy had ravaged through the land, like locusts, leaving a dry and barren desert.  Hurt and bitterness had consumed the sweet rhythms of the heart.

It had been nearly five years since I had heard the laughter of my dear old friend...twelve...since I had seen my sister's smile.

The smell of gunfire still in the air, the enemy had won the battle.

And left only was the ache and the empty space where there was once flesh and blood, flesh and blood made in the image of God. The mind races, loops over the conversations, the ugly words. One tries to zip themselves tight, shut out the memories of kindnesses and rescue...but then a song plays or the scent of Tuberose wafts through...and the heart sinks, the belly turns.

And in the darkness of night there is no rest...

But then on a seemingly average day...a letter arrives in the mail...or a phone call is made...and suddenly there is breath once again... and rivers of heart-washing tears replenish the land. New growth cracks through the hard surface. And where there was death, there is now new life.


I had forgotten about Grace. The miraculous and
transcending magic of Grace. The Grace that means that no one is ever really lost...and that Hope abounds.

My daffodils have been chanting this at me for several weeks now, as they stretch tall through the sea rocks I had scattered above them last September.

I know as they push through the heaviness of the stones, it will make them stronger. And their bright shining faces will turn towards the Son in a grand celebration of life. It's been a long time coming. The winter was cold and dark and had no foreseeable end.

But now I bathe long in the sweetness of forgiveness... the laughter of kindred hearts...what a tender surprise!

And I am reminded of the ridiculous reality of Hope.

Oh sweet Resurrection just never gets old!
I could hear it's story for a thousand years ...
and still want for a thousand more.

Monday, January 13, 2014

All the Poor and Powerless...

As the black leather glove pummels the side of my face, the slow motion camera catches my blood and spit and sweat as it flies through the air. The crowd goes wild.

I try to shake it off, but my vision is still blurry. I try to duck as the glove strikes my other cheek but now I'm down for the count...

And the scene plays out as I travel back through all the ugly and all the good...and I can hear the growing rumble of the crowd, "Tami...Tami...Tami..."

"It's not how hard you can hit...but how hard you can get hit...keep moving forward...Get up! Get Up! Get up!"

(Yes, I am now getting my guidance from Rocky Balboa.)

But the truth is, I've been in the ring for as long as I can remember. I always get up and I always move forward, but the troubling thing is that so much of me is still broken, still bleeding.

I guess I thought I'd be all healed up by now. Surely that's what I was told. I am a new creation after all.

But it's just not that simple.

And in so many of my circles, I am still cowering in the corner with Shame that I am not "choosing joy."

"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances..."

"Jesus Wept."


And so we're back here again as the inner battle rages on, debating my state of mind, with the politicians, the lobbyists, and the spastic court jesters all chiming in. 

But something new is happening...standing in church yesterday, I heard that Faint Whisper...

All the poor and powerless
And all the lost and lonely
All the thieves will come confess
And know that You are holy
And know that You are holy

And all will sing out
And we will cry out
All the hearts who are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy

And all will sing out
And we will cry out

Shout it
Go on scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God
We will sing out
And we will cry out

And as the band played on...Shame started losing her grip.

Truth is, I so often feel poor and powerless and completely unworthy. I can be 9 years old again in a heartbeat. And time and time again, I feel lost and lonely.

Sometimes, I do have fantastically happy moments, joyful even. Those hilltop ah-ha's where the Son shines blindingly through. But even when those hilltop moments come, like when I was on an actual hilltop in the Andes with my lovely, healthy daughter, my heart was still heavy and overwhelmed by the poor and powerless circling around us, begging for our loose change.

So now I'm starting to think that this part of me that I've been trying to cure for so many moons, might just be here to stay. And maybe it's supposed to. Maybe having immediate access to all that raw pain is just who I am. Maybe it's even somewhat useful to the universe. Maybe Shame needs to be bitch-slapped so I can get on with my life, but maybe, when the dust settles, my authentic self will still be a bit gloomy, and maybe, just maybe, that's just how I am supposed to be.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Summer Grace: STOP

Summer Grace: STOP: What if we all just stopped  Fell silent For once, what if we looked up and around us What if, just for a moment, every sing...