Preparing.

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It’s the day before Easter. I woke up late this morning, after a middle of the night dialogue with insomnia. Sleeplessness likes to mess with me every once in a while, and I’m not a fan. But for some reason, as I dragged myself out of bed this morning and faced a day of laundry, cat boxes, groceries, and yard work, I felt strangely peaceful and alert.

Tomorrow’s coming, after all.

The kids and I worked in the yard, raking leaves and prepping gardens that I will later plant with hope and spinach and tomatoes. In that order.

We swept off the front porch and took the snow shovels that had been sitting there since January back to the garage. Also, it’s supposed to snow tomorrow, but we are a risky bunch and decided to take our chances.

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And I bought yet even more pansies. Because:IMG_7901.JPG

You can never have too many purple pansies. Never.

And I ironed, which is a twice yearly event, so that’s a big deal. Also there were the tiny boy three-piece suits to prepare:IMG_7897.JPG

Note the clip-on tie. Very important. The nine year old, Blonde, does love his ties. Red, on the other hand, not so much. Last time he wore one he clipped it to the second button on his shirt and just called it good.

Perhaps he’ll start a new fashion trend. He accessorized this with pants that were on the right way, so he’s a fashion rock star, in my book.

And then, there were these:

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Because Easter must have cupcakes. It’s in the bible.

(Ok, yes, I know it’s not but it should be.)

And then, finally:

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The redbuds are starting to show on my little tree. Things are slowly turning soft green and butter yellow crocus are all over my neighbor’s lawn and I am just so happy.

Tomorrow is almost here, and I am so grateful.

I am just so very grateful.

 

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Don’t ever settle down.

Linking up with my favorite peeps today! The theme?

 

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It’s Friday. Good Friday, which as might know, is kind of a confusing name.

Last night, we took the boys to Maundy Thursday service (another confusing name – we Christians like to keep things all a kilter), and Red was very spiritual. Seven pm services tend to do that to him. He can get all quiet and sorta pensive.

It’s also possible he was dog-tired because earlier he was running about like a puppy on pixie sticks, but you know. I prefer spiritual.

Anyhow, Red was explaining what Maundy Thursday was all about, and then he launched right into Good Friday. (If you don’t know, Maundy Thursday it’s a commemoration of the Last Supper. Or, if you are Red, Maundy Thursday is about the Last Supper and ALSO grape juice! Grape juice in those little plastic cups! We NEVER drink grape juice at home so there is GRAPE JUICE COMING. Also a very dry small cracker thing. WHICH GETS TO GET WASHED DOWN WITH GRAPE JUICE OH SWEET NECTAR.)

And yes, I have just basically confessed that my sweet boy regards communion as a spiritual snack time of sorts. It’s a process, people.

So. Anyhow, Good Friday.

Red is trying to understand why Good Friday has any sort of Goodness in it. He says, “Jesus did not go into Good Friday all… ‘Hooray!’ Ok? It’s not GOOD. It’s TERRIFYING.”

Quick backstory: We are in line to go up and take communion while this conversation is occurring so it’s all very whispered and there’s a lot of “Shh-shing” in the background.

So, then Red is quiet for minute and I can literally SEE the little tiny synapses firing away, up inside his little Red head. And then, he blurts out:

“BUT IT’S SO GOOD. IT WAS GOOD FOR US. AND HE’S ALL ABOUT US, SO THAT’S IT! THAT’S WHY IT’S GOOD! I GET IT NOW!”

You know, we all get to get them, these little God moments where God comes up besides us and smiles gently and then WHACKS us UPSIDE THE HEAD with a God moment, because we needed it. And it doesn’t hurt, really. I mean, it can make us a little dizzy, but  it’s just really cool and kinda a moment to shout about.

But, back to Maundy Thursday – where we were supposed to be sort of contemplative and quiet and pondering Gethsemane and sad, and here’s Red, completely rocking out his God moment for all the world to see. And hear.

I wanted to tell him to Settle Down. I did. But instead, I just hugged on him and smiled to the little old lady in line with us, and I realized something:

There is no settling in this faith of ours. It’s big and changing and it breaks our world apart. It HAS to. And today, our world is to break. And Sunday? It will break even MORE. And it’s happy and it’s sad and it’s terrifying and it’s good. 

It’s so good. Thank you for Sunday, my Jesus. Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for loving us so deeply.  Whatever in the world would I do without you?

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Surrender

Linking up with my favorite place today – Five Minute Friday.

Today’s theme?

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When I first decided to walk with Jesus, instead of just waving to him from across the room, I had a few life-changing things that happened.

Ok, that’s a totally wrong. All the life-changing things happened. Like, all OVER the place. But one of  the most immediately obvious was my taste in music.

Dana, Before Walking With Jesus: Christian music on the radio? Isn’t that just Carmen and Amy Grant? It’s dork-city.

Dana After Walking With Jesus: Christian music on the radio? It must be on, all the time, twenty-four seven, dorky or no. I am praising my saviourrrrr all the day lonnnnnnnnnnng!

Still don’t like Amy Grant music though. Sorry, Amy. You are a wonderful person.

Jars of Clay, Chris Tomlin, Watermark, Phil Keaggy… I loved them. Still do. I think I even bought a few of those WOW! ALL CHRISTIAN! cd’s because I needed a bit of variety and their plastic covers were so bright and dorky. I found out something. Walking with Jesus meant I could finally stop trying to be so darn cool about everything and embrace my inner dork, and you know what? The DORK IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

And so, one day, I found Sara Groves.

And her music cracked me open, and then put me back together, on a daily basis. I own every one of her albums. We played her song, “Fly” as “our song” at our wedding. I reference her song, “Toy Packaging” every Christmas for those who need to know the struggle is real, with the toy packaging.

I just love her. She is my best-friend musician that I have never met. She writes songs about marriage, and fights with husbands, and family, and the bible, and all of it is threaded throughout with a voice that is strong in faith but still has a lot of questions.

This is me. I have a strong-ish faith. But I have a lot of questions. Like, a LOT.

Long ago, before marriage, before recovery (I am a sober momma, because me and wine broke up long ago and that’s a whole other story), before children, before a lot of things, my heart was broken into a million pieces by life and love that was lost. I am pretty sure that’s a thing that has happened to all of us – heartache so profound it threatens to scoop us up and throw us out with the trash. It’s that hard.

I would lay on my bed, feeling tears drip warm down the sides of my face and pool up by my ears, too tired to wipe them away. Sometimes my dog Norman would jump up there with me and snuffle the tears away. He was such a good pupper.

And I would listen to Sara’s song, Remember Surrender. 

You see, I was walking with Jesus, yes. But I was still hurting. And this song seemed to understand that. And with each listen, I got a little better.

Just so you know, there were ther things helped me get better:

Reading the bible. (Walking with Jesus now, duh)

Prayer. (Double duh)

Reading just about anything by Melody Beattie.

Going on long runs with Norman even when I didn’t want to (He always did, so he would drag me. We made it work).

Talking to friends. DUH.

Crying with those friends. And then praying some more. (Quadruple duh. And thank you, friends, for always listening. And always offering to pray with me. And gripping onto my hands hard while you did so, so hard that it almost kinda hurt but in a good way. I’m looking at you, Katie.)

And so, I would like to share this song with you today. If you walk with Jesus, but your heart is still sore and sad, and you just want something so badly, but it can’t be yours… Listen and get a little better.

This version has some pics with the video. They’re a little dorky. But, as you know, I like the dorky.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

This is the story of a woman who had no interest in science.

She has a sciencey husband. He was all:

“Hey! The eclipse! Once in a lifetime! Let’s drive to Nebraska!”

She was all:

“I don’t want to. Because: packing, leaving, planning, lists, snacks, endless endless snacks. Just the snacks. Oh Lord, all the SNACKS.”

We drove to Nebraska. Husband accidentally booked us a hotel room in a smoking room. YES THEY STILL SMOKE IN HOTEL ROOMS IN NEBRASKA. You should be ashamed of yourself, Nebraska. I opened all the windows (possibly broke one, I don’t care Nebraska) and there was A LOT OF COMPLAINING.

Then: Ate chicken cacciatore that was… really good. Less complaining. Too busy eating bread slathered in garlic oil and herbs.

Then: Drove to a place called The Crane Nature Center. Who knew? Cranes! In Nebraska! The complaining has now cycled down to about one or two per hour. Sunshine. Hiking paths. Pretty nature stuff. IMG_6942.jpgIMG_6943.jpg

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If you look closely: SNACKS. Of course.

Then: made friends with the all the people. All of them. Everyone was all, “This is so cool! It’s nature! And barbecue! And we’re all in this together! Look at us being all together in this sciencey, once-in-a-lifetime moment!”

Complaining: 1/2 per hour

Then: WHAMMO

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And yes, my pictures don’t do it justice. BECAUSE IT WAS AMAZING. TOTALLY.

I was wrecked. We all applauded and I cried and people hugged and the whole thing just made me realize two things:

  1. Once in a lifetime things are so cool. I wish they happened more often. But, that would change the verbage.
  2. Nebraska is awesome.

Husband and I held hands and I wiped tears. Then, Blonde came up to me and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing us.” Then Red said, “THIS IS AMAZABALLS.”

And then, a bit later, Blonde came over to me and flopped down in a chair. I said, “You ok?”

He responded, “I’m recovering.”

And Red asked, “Where are the snacks?”

Of course.

Complaining: ZERO

And THEN: We all packed up and walked past the river and the pretty butterfly field and all the people were smiling and saying hi and it was like a Happy Village of Everyone Getting Along Despite 2017, and I was kinda blissing out.

And then we ate at Tommy’s Diner in Grand Island, NE and I had the BEST BUTTERSCOTCH MALT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.

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ACTION FOOTAGE OF OUR HIPSTER WAITER WITH MAN BUN. I love him. He brought me my malt.

It was, quite simply, a once in a lifetime experience.

Complaining: NEGATORY. NEVER AGAIN. I AM SHOOK.

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Also, there is the hot fudge sundae experience.

I call this photo essay “THIS IS THE SNACK OF DREAMS”

 

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You might say I had a change of heart. A “total eclipse” if you will.

And then: on the drive home, we listened to The Last Battle and I kissed hubs on the cheeck. “Thank you,” I said. “And I’m sorry I complained so much.”

And hubs said, “You complained? Nah. I don’t remember that.”

The world is a wonderful place.

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The end.

Women Who Move Mountains

I ask you, do you have any mountains you’d like moved?

I have a few.

Last month I kept a manila file in the office for far too long. It sat there and sat there, sullen and unopened, for far, far too long.

I’d really like to provide a gut-wrenching suspenseful scene here with something fascinating IN the folder, but well, it was our taxes. Receipts, forms, all sorts of paperwork, signifying money.

I let that file sit there because I was afraid of dealing with money. I cannot help but feel that as I file through all the papers and forms… that somewhere, a paper will flitter out, fall to the ground, and on it a statement:

“This is your bank statement. You are totally out of money. This means you will end up in a van down by the river and all is doomed.”

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Ok, I realize there are a few flaws in my thinking. Let me provide a short list:

  1. We have money.
  2. If we didn’t have as much money we’d still be okay.

This money thing is because money = stability. And, did you know? Stability means that

Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What.

Catchy, right? I’m going to needlepoint that on a pillow.

Making sure that Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What is rather tiring, did you know? Also? It’s impossible, so there’s that.

I recently had the honor of reviewing this book, and I would like to recommend it to you here:

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You guys. This book is super. There are so many things I like about it, but to be brief:

IT IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

Ok, the book addresses the issue of prayer – something I have always struggled with and for good reason. By this, I mean I tend to pray a lot like this:

Dear God – WHYYYYYYYYY CANNNNN’T YOUUUUUUUUU…. (fill in the blank) AND ANOTHERRR THING….

And so on.

Now, this is NOT bad. Praying + whining is acceptable to God. God knows. He made us after all, and if he made some of us, ahem, a bit more pessimistic and screechy than others? So be it. But when I whine/pray (Prine? Whray??) it just ends up with me feeling sad and twisty when I hang up with Him.

Detweiler’s book offers clear, practical advice on how to pray in solid, joyful FAITH. Yep. FAITH with BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. The kind of faith, that, well,  you know.

It moves mountains.

I highly recommend this book if your prayer life needs a little sprucing up. If you’re feeling like every prayer is uttered with all the verve of Eeyore. If maybe, just maybe, you have some mountains to attend to.

If you’d like to know more, or take a closer look at Sue Detweiler’s book click here, and get moving. 17903556_10155247020512206_6837944691568322308_n.jpg

 

 

I’m pretty sure they don’t have chicken nuggets in the Congo.

 

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Ok, here’s the deal.

I never have done Lent.

There. I said it.

I have, perhaps, said I was going to do Lent… you know, chocolate. Or Coke. That kind of thing.

But then… I would go home and open a Coke and eat some ring dings and my brain just kinda went, “La lala la la laaaaa, Jesus loves me it’s all good,” and carried on.

I just have a really, really hard time with discomfort, y’all.

Discomfort is so… uncomfortable.

So, some of you may know that this Lenten season my pastor’s wife totally suckered me into teaching a class on fasting. I don’t like her anymore. She is manipulative and our friendship is done. DONE, I tell you.

No, not really, but still. She has a newborn, and I think I was cooing at her (the baby, not Kate) when she asked me to co-teach, and honestly, I woulda said yes to anything at that moment because babies are all sparkly so basically SHE USED HER BABY TO GET ME TO DO THIS.

I’m eating like the Congolese for 40 days. Lord help us all.

The Congolese do not have:

  • chicken nuggets (that’s a kid thing, but more on that later)
  • butter.
  • La Croix
  • Strawberry jam
  • and the worst – hazlenut creamer

They also do not have clean water and readily available medicine and soft mattresses and schools on every corner and, oh my goodness. The Congolese are so far away from my heavily coffee-creamered life, I tell you.

Every morning, as I drink my black coffee (which they do have, thank you, Jesus from whom all blessings and caffeine flow), I am reminded of this. Also, as I eat rice and beans for lunch. And, as I eat rice and beans and a banana for dinner.

The book that we’re using for the class is Chris Seay’s A Place at the Table.

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Notice, there’s a cup of coffee in the background. WITH NO CREAMER.

Ok, so either this Seay guy is nuttier than a fruitcake (which they also don’t have in the Congo, go figure), or he is onto something here.

Because here is what I am learning, on day eleven of my fast:

  1. Comfort is an idol. It’s actually just as big and hairy and hulkie as food or alcohol or shopping or any of those other, more see-able ones.
  2. I thought I could not do this because I gave up alcohol, so how DARE anyone ask me to do MORE – I did my Lent. I do it all the time. I don’t drink anymore, Ok? So I’m good down here!
  3. I’m not good down here. The weeks and months prior to this had been a tangled time of leaning on a bunch of things for comfort and they were taking over.
  4. Rice and beans are not that bad.

Sometimes I like to think that my life is this giant checklist, and that once I get one big God task done, He checks it off, gives me a star sticker and we’re done. I like star stickers. I live for them. Uh-oh. That might be another idol. If there’s anything I’m addicted to, it’s the great big Star Chart of You’re Awesome. This whole fast has taught me that as well.

Seriously. This fast has taught me about fifty majillion things. I will be sharing them with you once in a while, as well as my newfound and very deep love for bananas.

Bananas, y’all. Did you know? They are soooooooo good. I never really KNEW. I used to think they were just a vehicle for ice cream and hot fudge but when you’re really hungry? They are all yellow and delightful.

And don’t even get me started on the avocado. Praise you, Jesus.

Ok, so I’m going to say here, on day eleven, that Chris Seay is not nutty (also not a lot of those in the Congo. Especially hazlenuts. Of course.) And my friend Kate is not evil (she’s a pastor’s wife, so evil is not a part of her genetic make-up.) And that I will continue to be smushed up, and stretched out, and pulled and pushed in all sorts of ways because God doesnt really do star charts. “We’re not done here,” God tells me. “But I love you like crazy, so if you really want a star chart just grab a banana and go out at night and look up. Boom. Biggest one you’ll ever get.”

God is a bit of a smart aleck sometimes, isn’t he?

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Days of More

Hey, did you hear?

I gave up alcohol for Lent.

Yep. Also, I gave it up for December. And rainy days. And birthdays.

So, also, you know, the rest of the year. And forever. That sort of thing.

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So. Moving on.

It’s just a teensy bit possible that I have not really given up anything else for Lent in a long while. Unless, of course, you count last minute trips to Paris, or goat farming or walking gracefully. I totally gave those up ages ago.

You see, I am just so horribly bad at Lent. I do not get A’s in Lent. This bothers me. I would plan something for it, and journal about it, and chirp about it to my so-good-at-doing Lent friends, and then, BAMMO, in about four days I would have totally forgotten.

Maybe I could give up memory for Lent?

I have made my peace with it. Jesus forgave me a long time ago for my inability to half-heartedly give up chocolate for four days. But, Jesus wasn’t done with me on this subject yet. That’s just His way. You have obstacles in life? He is there. But He also says things like, “Here, let me work with you on this… for a really long while…”

Sometimes I just wish He would say, “Here. Let me COMPLETELY FIX THIS THING FOR YOU. ALL DONE! PRESTO WHAMMO!”

It would be so cool, if that were His way. And, I have heard that sometimes it is. For some reason, I never get to have the “presto whammo” version of fixing things with Jesus. I wonder why? Just once, I’d like to get the PRESTO WHAMMO. It would be so cool.

Anyhow, this year Jesus and I had a little talk about Lent. It went like this:

Jesus: No, I am not talking to you in an audible voice. I know some of your readers are gonna think I showed up in your living room, all glowy and talking.

Me: THAT WOULD BE SO COOL WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT?

Jesus: We’ve discussed this before. I think you might get distracted by the glow. I’ll stick with still small voice today, okay?

Me: Sigh.

Jesus: It doesn’t work, the grumpy thing. I’m too holy. Just bounces right off. Let’s talk.

Me: Ok, Lent? I don’t like it? It kinda feels like 40 days of gritting my teeth over not drinking Pepsi, when You fasted for 40 days in a desert with Satan bugging you, and then, AFTER that You went and died for us. I dunno. Pepsie? It seems a bit… underwhelming.

Jesus: Ok, for the readers here who did give up Pepsi, I totally think that’s awesome. She’ll get on track here. Stay with us.

Me: Oh. Yes. Sorry. Sorry, Pepsi people.

Jesus: Look, if you don’t think your fast is legit enough, then why not totally fast for 40 days?

Me: Uh… totally? Like no food? Did you have water? No water? Again, you’re sure? No food???  That’s impossible. I mean, true, YOU’RE JESUS, so YOU could handle it, but…

Jesus: Yes. I am Jesus. But it wasn’t all fun and games for me either. Ok, well let’s dial it down then. I could provide some locusts and honey?

Me: Ew.

Jesus: So… the Lent thing. It has to be under your control, huh?

Me: *crickets*

Jesus: How about this? How about you add to your life? For 40 days, you study what Lent is about.

Me: Hey. Yea. I like that! I could ADD to my life, for 40 days. You are so SMART, Jesus.

Jesus: I get that a lot. So, you’re not officially fasting, but I’ll take it. Maybe we can think of it as “fasting from distraction and adding focus.” And then, maybe, one day you can really give up chocolate for 40 days and not overthink it so much.

Me: Still doesn’t seem very comparable…

Jesus: LOCUSTS AND HONEY. I WILL SEND THEM. DON’T TEST ME.

Me: OK. Bible Study. Every day, for 40 days. I’m in. Call off the locusts!

So, this year, I found myself mired in some bad habits that had me stuck. And I realized, as one who just SPOKE AT A CONFERENCE ABOUT OVERCOMING BAD HABITS that irony was going to come up and smack me upside the head if I didn’t get my mind right.

So here is my 40 Days of More Lenten Package for you:

  1. Up at 5:30 am.
  2. Study the bible
  3. Run
  4. Eat an egg for breakfast*

* I know. The egg seems totally random, but it matters. I need something to help with my blood sugar. Like, lately, I have found myself eating Frosted Flakes and cheese. If there was a restaurant called Cereal and Cheese, I would be there. Every day. This does not make Momsie’s brain or body happy. And each time I try to make sure I make a protein shake with more than two ingredients, I want to curl up on the floor with coffee and a Ring Ding, and cry. Ingredients are HARD at seven in the morning.

I am allowing myself to run a minimum of one measly mile. If I want to go longer, so be it. I usually do because after one mile I’m all warmed up and singing along with Toby Mac and ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Or not.

That’s the plan. I’ll keep you posted. If you walk past my house and see a FedEx box labelled LOCUSTS AND HONEY you’ll know.

I’m still hoping that some day Jesus asks me to give up tightrope walking for Lent. I’d be so in.

Presto whammo.

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