Facebook told me that today is National Sibling Day and that Cambridge Analytica stole all my personal data. Seems like a day to celebrate!
Basically, I have the two best siblings in the world, and no one can disagree. So there.
I was the youngest by a few years, so I was equally parts spoiled and annoying. Mostly, family folklore says I was annoying. My earliest childhood memories include being dangled over the banister by Doug and struggling for breath as I suffocated (nearly) to death in the toy box. I had apparently gone TOO FAR, so he emptied out every. single. toy and then shoved me in and sat on the lid. I fully blame him for my claustrophobia and greatest fear of being buried alive. (I could also maybe blame the Days of Our Lives storyline in which Carly was buried alive by Vivian. But then we would have to also blame my mother for letting me watch DOOL at such a young age.)
I'm guessing Brenda was equally annoyed by me. On the night of her junior prom, I was delegated the essential task of taking the traditional photo of Brenda and Rich (now her husband of over 20 years!) in front of the fireplace. Mom and Dad were already at the high school prepping for their chaperone duties. I, however, was clearly (and justifiably) angry that earlier that same day Brenda had refused to let me sleep in her full-size bed that night. Instead I would be forced to suffer another night in my comfortable twin bed that was just the right size for me. So because I was so deservedly angry, I posed Brenda and Rich in front of the mantle and snapped the photo. This was the pre-digital era, so imagine their surprise when they picked up the printed photos a week later to realize that I had snapped the perfect photo....from the neck down.
I'd like to say that I got better with age, but that doesn't seem to be the case. When I was a freshman in college, I spent a month in Paris studying the language and culture. And also the male German tourists and the wine. Doug and Brenda drove several hours to retrieve me from the airport in Chicago. I spent the first six hours of the trip sobbing uncontrollably in the backseat because I was so desperate to return to the beautiful language and culture. And also to the male German tourists and the wine. I was an inconsolable mess of "I DON'T WANNA GO HOME!" So because they truly cared about my cultural development, they planned stops at the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan and the birthplace of John Deere. While I may not have been excited at the time, today I can look back with gratitude that I had these essential experiences in American history. (Excuse the photo quality. This was still the pre-digital age.)
Despite my annoying tendencies, my siblings are two of my best friends today. Doug took me to a Billy Joel concert where I cried like a baby during "Piano Man." I can also attribute my uncanny knowledge about Larry Bird to Doug. He played the trumpet when I walked down the aisle, he routinely provides free medical advice, and he sends the best texts about our shared love of podcasts. (Give Revisionist History and Heavyweight a listen.) He loves me and my husband and my kids, and he makes a mean gin and tonic. Basically, he's the best.
Brenda (a.k.a. B) brought her firstborn to visit me in my tiny studio apartment in Cedar Falls where we watched classic musicals on DVD. She sings the best harmonies to the Indigo Girls on roads trips, and she didn't even freak out when I cried at her 40th birthday party because post-adoptive depression is REAL. When I told her we were thinking about moving to Saint Paul, she didn't complain for one second but instead, in the fashion of our Grandma Dorothy, she encouraged and supported us every step of the way. Basically, she's the best.
So today I raise a glass to Doug and Brenda. We don't always get to choose our family, but seriously these two are my #1 pick! (I'll write a blog for Cambridge Analytica some other day.)
Facebook reminded me of this post from almost SIX years ago. That means in just a few days, we celebrate SIX YEARS as a family of four. What a delightfully hard and beautiful journey. These were the last words I published before becoming a mom.
When I was nineteen, my best friend Christa and I would perch ourselves (sometimes precariously...) on stools with colored bottles purchased at a garage sale used as microphones. Our song of choice was usually something like "Angel of the Morning" or "Leavin' on a Jet Plane". We preferred this version by Chantal Kreviazuk. I would try to blend in some harmony while Christa belted out the melody. The song was simple; really so was my life. Our biggest drama was picking out what matching outfits we wanted to wear to the party that night.
Boys would come and go out of my life at that time. I kissed a lot of frogs and a couple of almost-princes before I met Chris.
Tonight I was in the shower thinking about that song, thinking about the jet plane that I will leave on tomorrow with my husband and favorite life partner to bring home two beautiful boys (photos coming soon!). The lives of all four of us are on an unalterable path that will surely contain many bumps. I've done some crying in the past few days for various reasons, but now my bags really are packed. They really are ready to go.
I looked at the spider veins as I shaved my legs in the shower tonight and thought, "That nineteen-year-old girl couldn't be me." The crows feet laugh lines next to my eyes weren't there during those college. I definitely wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) fit into the same tight clothes I wore back then.
And sometimes I want so desperately to go back. Back to the time when my biggest challenge was squeezing in 30 minutes to study for a biology test or remembering to tutor the cute baseball players for a French credit. It was so simple. So easy. It was all about me.
But now a few years have passed. Yes, sometimes I want to go back to the stool with the fake microphone and the pretend audience of fans. I want it to be all about me.
It's not anymore, though. Nope. Tomorrow when I leave on the jet plane, I will remember that this story really isn't about me. It never has been.
So I take a deep breath, recenter, close my eyes, and leap. I don't know the final chapter, but I trust the Author.
I don’t have any tattoos, mostly because it just seems so...permanent. I have been intrigued, however, by a tattoo displayed by one of my favorite singers, Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine. At a concert years ago she shared a tattoo on her arm with a quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I bought the concert t-shirt with that same quote because, well, a t-shirt isn’t as permanent as a tattoo.
The words stuck with me, so I might as well get the tattoo. I could use the permanent reminder.
I repeat the phrase to my children at least monthly as they lament the fact that we don’t go out to eat as much as _________’s family, that we don’t allow as much screen time as ____________’s mom does, that we implement an earlier bedtime than _____________’s parents.
But then I find the nagging whisper of doubt enter in. Maybe we should have more screen time. Maybe I am too restrictive with social media. Maybe so-and-so’s mom is right; teenagers don’t really need a strict bedtime. And why am I still making them eat broccoli?
I find my comparison to other parents stealing my own joy.
In several conversations with other parents during the past months, I’ve repeated my belief that right now truly is the most difficult time to be a parent in the history of the world. Maybe that’s hyperbole, but most days it feels true. I read articles like this one that outline the very-real dangers of online pornography. I see studies like this one about the escalation of teenage depression that conclude that “all signs point to the screen.” So we make tough parenting decisions in an attempt to keep our kids safe from dangers.
We say no to smartphones still, even though I’m sure my teenagers are the only two in the world that don’t have one. Or at least it feels that way. We set limits on social media access and talk constantly about the permanency of our online words and how tone can’t be interpreted correctly through text or direct message. I live in this tension of wanting to keep them safe and inoculated forever and simultaneously realizing that my job as a mom is also to prepare them for the dangers they face while also understanding that their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed. Throw in the dangers of school shootings, the frustrations with grades and homework, the worries about the junk food they’re inhaling, the concern for their hair and skin care routine (a special “problem” as the white mom of Black boys), and I have a recipe for certain anxiety with a sprinkling of sleepless nights.
When I compare myself to other parents, I’m doing it all wrong. I’m not doing enough. I’m doing too much. I am making all the wrong choices.
Deep breath. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If I couple that with 1 Peter 5:7, I feel like a more grounded parent: “Casting your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” He cares for me, and He cares for my kids. More than I do, even, and that’s a hard equation to wrap my non-math mind around. But it’s Truth.
So maybe I need a tattoo after all.
“The good outweighs the bad.”
That was my youngest son’s response as we discussed our family’s move from Northwest Iowa to St. Paul over the weekend.
In many ways, the move was most difficult on him. He had a fantastic group of sweet friends who shared his interests and innocent sense of humor. This boy is not interested in being the most popular boy in school; he is concerned with having a good friend or two, ones who truly know him. Of course friendships take time, even for 6th grade boys, but he is getting there. It’s brought great joy to watch him emerge from his shell during these past few months and find his place in this new world.
We’ve been living in St. Paul for ten months now, and after two months of silence on my blog, it feels like a good time to pause and reflect on what this move has done for our family. After several years of running his own business, Chris initially took a job for a medium-sized corporation here. It wasn’t the best fit, but like he always does, Chris stuck it out with a genuine smile on his face. After several months there, he took a job with the banking software company he used to work for back in our Missouri days. In an ironic twist, he now works from home, meaning that we could live nearly anywhere. But we’re here now, and St. Paul feels like home. It’s a very snowy home right now, but home nevertheless.
In really practical ways, our world is filled with more diversity. During the boys’ basketball season this winter, they have never been the only Black kids on the court. We went to the theater on opening weekend of Black Panther, and my children were far from the only kids of color in the theater. Their church youth group is a sea of color. This week my youngest will attend The Wiz with this theater class, and in two weeks both boys will attend the Timberwolves-Warriors game with friends from church. Life is rich with culture and experience.
Now we are in an era of nuance and identity, of providing them the opportunities to figure out this crazy “who am I?” thing. Figuring out who you are is hard for any middle school student. You have to navigate friendships and relationships while juggling homework and extracurriculars. Now we throw social media and technology into the mix along with the struggle to figure out what it means to be Black in America and how that differs from Ethiopian culture. We are trying to help the boys find their ways in all of those worlds while also helping them figure out what it means to be raised by white parents. They practice new words and experiment with different worlds. Of course we still push them to be themselves and find their identity in Christ. Their heads must be swimming.
My boys are crazy resilient with wicked senses of humor, and I couldn’t be prouder to be their mom. I pray each day for wisdom and abounding grace for all of us, and He is faithful.
I've never been one to make New Year's Resolutions, and not because I think it's a terrible idea. Mostly because self-control is hard, and I have a severe fear of failure. This year, though, I've felt the nudge to do something different. I will be choosing a word for 2018: LISTEN.
Lately I've found myself living inside of strange echo chamber. My kids do something annoying, and I start to think about how to post about it in a hilarious way on Facebook. I see my dog do something cute, and I immediately snap a photo for the world to see. What kind of blog post can I write that will garner the most attention? What status update and adorable photo will gain the most "likes" and "comments"? What kind of witty, self-deprecating comment can I add to a Facebook conversation that will make me appear charming and genuine? This mindset isn't reserved just for social media either. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed making people laugh with silly one-liners and storytelling techniques. Even though I truly am an introvert, I also enjoy affirmation. Is that true for all of us?
I don't think any of that is bad in and of itself, but I've been noticing a side effect of these behaviors: I forget to listen. I forget to listen to those around me, the friends and family members and students that I encounter in my everyday life. And more importantly, I forget to listen to the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit. Instead of praying for my sometimes-annoying children, I write status updates in my head. Instead of truly listening to my student share about the decision-making process in selecting a major, I think about the perfect story from my own life that somehow relates to her situation. Rather than truly focusing on what my husband tells me about his day, I scroll through a newsfeed or think about a recipe or remember a story I wanted to tell him. Instead of turning to Jesus, my best friend and confidant, as I try to make sense of the world around me, I think about how to compose the best-ever blog. And I don't want to do that in 2018.
I'm not 100% sure what this will look like, but I know it will sound quieter. It will include less social media presence and more time of quiet reflection. And I'm excited to see what the Holy Spirit does. I'm not signing off of my blog or Facebook for the entire year because sometimes writing can be an essential part of my personal listening process and some of my best friends are found on social media, but I will probably post less often and more intentionally. When my mind starts racing with what I could say or what I should write, I will silently think to myself, "Listen."
On Sunday we drove home from Kansas City after a holiday visit with Chris's mom. We spent some of the time listening to Christmas music. Forgive me, but I'm a sucker for Christmas nostalgia in the form of dusty records from the attic. My childhood Christmas soundtrack was Burl Ives and Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole played from LPs. Nat King Cole's version of "O Holy Night" played on our Sunday afternoon road trip. That song gets it all right, doesn't it? The holiness, the beauty, the chains and the freedom. At one point I said to Chris, "This version is my favorite. He sings just the notes."
There's some truth in our need to sing just the notes, too, am I right? Just like Nat King Cole doesn't need the extra riffs and embellishments to create the perfect version of that holiday classic, we don't need the extra busyness and chaos that we often create in the holiday season. However, in our attempt to fabricate the perfect holiday, we put up extra strings of lights and spend more on gifts than we should and say "yes" to too many Christmas parties. We would be better off if we stuck to Nat King Cole's version: just the notes.
Since becoming parents, that has been a holiday goal for Chris and me. We pare down and focus on the essentials. Tonight we will wrap gifts and drink red wine while the boys are at basketball practice. The store-bought wrapping paper won't match on the edges and the corners will not be crisp. (My apologies, Dad. You definitely taught me better.) I'll probably write names on gifts with a Sharpie. This year at least I have clear tape. (I've been known to wrap birthday gifts with duct tape.) The perfect ribbons and intricately lettered name tags aren't essentials for us. (No judgment if they are for you.)
We probably won't make it to look at Christmas lights this year, and we might not get to watch every Christmas movie on our list of favorites. I never get all of the baking done that I'd like to do, and this year we're making our own gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and frosting because I didn't want to shell out the cash for the fancy store-bought ones. But that's okay. Those things are the extra riffs and embellishments that might make us lose focus on the notes, if we're not careful.
Just the notes. So what does that means? The Gospel notes are pretty simple:
Jesus came. Jesus lived and loved. Jesus died so you and I can experience freedom and forgiveness. Therein lies our greatest hope.
Sing just those notes this Christmas, friends.
When I was in the fourth grade, our school Christmas concert featured a select choir. Students could audition with our elementary school choir teacher, and the best singers in the bunch would get to perform "The Christmas Song" in a special small group. I have always loved singing, and in the fourth grade, I thought I was pretty good. I confidently signed up to audition, all the while picturing myself on the stage in a sparkly new Christmas dress. The spotlight would be beaming on me as I sang my heart out to a crowd of beloved grandparents and teachers. The audition came, and of course, I nailed it. And then the list of performers was released. Imagine my shock when I read and reread the names, only to realize I had not been chosen.
This could be a story illustrating how it feels to be left out, but for me that story was more about my unfulfilled expectations. I wrote my own story that Christmas season, and it featured me as the main character, a singing prodigy. Little did I know that reality would instead have me watching with envy from behind the curtain as my classmates took center stage.
The holiday season is often about writing our own story, isn't it?
In our holiday fantasies, the extended family all gets along with no talk of politics or uncomfortable comments after too much wine. Our work parties include the perfect balance of appetizers and light-hearted banter, and our children are completely satisfied with every gift under the tree. (Like the year I got my Fisher Price house AND typewriter.) We have the right amount of snow for making snowmen, the weather isn't too cold or windy, and the hot chocolate is always served at the just-right temperature.
Our expectations are often unmet with our own holiday version of broken leg lamps and awkward bunny pajamas and the racist family member who always drinks too much.
Last week Chris and I had a raw conversation about the story we had written for our lives. It involved travel overseas, sometimes with and sometimes without children. It included a budget for a closet full of cute clothes and dining out whenever we wanted. The holidays would be filled with chaotic laughter with extended family followed by quiet, comfortable time at home. I would maybe have my PhD, and I guess while I'm at it, we were both in better shape and I had longer eyelashes. Chris, I'm sure, wrote himself with a beard.
Out of respect for my children I won't share details, but I will say that is not our reality. Trauma has left its footprint on our lives, and it doesn't get erased with the freshly fallen snow. Somedays, it doesn't seem fair. A Hallmark movie we are not. I often don't send out Christmas cards or letters because I'm not sure how to spin the truth in a public-worthy, palatable epistle.
I know I'm not alone in this story writing. No one writes cancer into her own story; the career-ending injury wouldn't make it past the first edit if we were writing for ourselves. A cheating spouse or the death of a loved one? No way would those events happen if we were the authors of our own story.
Similarly, if the Israelites had been writing their own narrative about the Messiah, he would've come as a powerful king, ready to overthrow the Roman empire. He definitely wouldn't have come as a helpless baby who grew up to dine with prostitutes and tax collectors just to die the death of a criminal.
I'm slowly learning to relinquish my control over my own story, instead relishing in the fact that I have the perfect Author. When I was 18, the story I wrote for myself included marrying a boy from my hometown followed by successful careers and bio children in a Pottery Barn house in the suburbs somewhere. Instead I found myself in God's story, a minor character who met a gangly dark-haired young man at a concert in Kansas City. I traded the suburbs for creaky wood floors in the city, and instead of a high-powered career, I get to help young writers find their voice every single day. I maybe can't afford a closet overflowing with a J. Crew wardrobe, but I scored the best comfy sweatshirt at a thrift store the other day, and really I would rather live in worn-in yoga pants and wool socks anyway. And a perfect family life would surely be so boring.
This holiday season I'm trying to not peek with envy from behind the curtain as others play a more important role. When that dreaded thief named Comparison sneaks in, I squeeze my eyes shut and whisper a prayer of gratitude for the life I wouldn't have chosen. Because slowly I am learning that God's story has a much better ending than any I could ever write for myself.
This isn't much of a teaching blog lately, is it? I'm writing about race and Christmas ornaments and today, Jesus. I'm apparently not very good at sticking with a theme. Or maybe it all ties together. Who knows?
For the past few months, however, I've been noticing a theme in my faith life. The Bible is full of so many outsiders. I think we in the Church (myself included) need that reminder again this Christmas season: Jesus came for the outsider, too.
Part of Jesus' lineage is Ruth, a Moabite widow who definitely should not have been invited to the party by traditional standards. She's so important, though, that she gets a shout-out in Matthew 1:5. Then later in Matthew we are introduced to the Magi. As John Piper points out, Matthew skips right over the shepherds to get to these foreign astrologers who were some of the first to celebrate Jesus' birth. Check out Matthew 8:10. Do you know who Jesus was talking about when he said this: "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith"? It was a Roman centurion, not only an outsider, but a resented outsider. In Luke 7:29-30 we read that even the tax collectors believed that "God's way was right," and in case you missed it, the tax collectors weren't part of the "in crowd." We also have women playing an essential role in the story of our Messiah, with some of the most beautiful words of praise in the New Testament being declared Mary, Jesus' mother, as she presents a humble prayer of worship in Luke 1:46-55. (It's also worth noting that by Mary was an unwed pregnant teen, most definitely an outsider during that time period.) And I still get goosebumps every time I read the account in John 20:11-18 of Jesus first appearing to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection. Look at Jesus' teachings where we encounter the Good Samaritan. See his ministry where He healed the beggars and the lepers and the most destitute of us all. Behold his dying-breath conversation with the thief on the cross. Again and again, we see Jesus display compassion for those outside of the "in group."
Even a cursory glance through the Gospels convinces us that Jesus didn't come for the ultra-religious and the holier-than-thous. As a matter of fact, they were so busy being right that they missed Him completely.
So where does that put us during this Christmas season? I think it's a not-so-gentle reminder to get out of our comfort zones and remember that the Good News of the Gospel is not just for the insiders. It's for the least expected. It's for the war-wounded refugee and the unwed teen mother. It's for the recovering heroin addict and the convicted felon sitting in a jail cell. Or, in the words of Dave Matthews, "The people he knew were less than golden hearted -- gamblers and robbers, drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers, like you and me."
For many of us, this isn't a new revelation, but if you're like me, it takes practice to move from understanding to believing, and action is often a requirement. What does that look like? It might be putting together kits to hand out to the homeless as we drive through the city streets. (I found great ideas on Pinterest that I will be putting together this weekend.) It might be preparing a meal for a down-on-his-luck neighbor or providing gifts for some foster kiddos. I think it's up to us to carefully discern on the individual level, but with certainty I can say this: Sharing the Good News with the outsider looks like lots of things, but it doesn't look like the repeated care and concern only for the insider. Jesus made that clear.
And maybe the revelation is that I'm an outsider, too, so the beautiful Gospel is for me.
I have a confession. Every Christmas season I find myself wishing I lived inside the movie White Christmas. I want the fancy dresses and the graceful dancing and the melodious crooning. I want the magical snow at just the perfect time, and I want sandwiches made for me to eat by the fire. But then I remember that I cannot sing like Rosemary Clooney, and I definitely can't dance like Vera Ellen (and don't get me started on the size of her waist!) My reality is much more Clark Griswald and a little less Bing Crosby, so if I'm not careful, I can find myself stressed and irritable and not at all jolly.
Today, however, I am pausing to take joy in my Christmas tree. It is far from perfect, too, and because of the angle of the top, it looks like it just might plummet through the front window at any moment. But it's real, and it's ours, and nearly every single ornament on it tells a story.
Because we were broke twenty-somethings, our honeymoon wasn't to a luxurious resort or spa. Instead, we stayed in a condo in Lutsen, Minnesota. With our basecamp a condo overlooking the lapping shores of Lake Superior, we explored summer in the state parks and leaned into the love we had just committed to. Our tradition of buying Christmas ornaments on our many adventures began there with a jolly-looking bear carrying a Christmas tree of his own.
I often tell my students, "Don't do college like I did." I wasn't sure of what I wanted to be when I grew up (I'm still not....see this and this), so I went back to the University of Northern Iowa to finish an already-started teaching degree. There I fell into a part-time job at the Continuing Education office where I met my supervisor, Brenda. She taught me about good tea and taco salads and gifted me with these beautiful hand-made straw ornaments. Every year Chris says, "I think these are some of my favorites" as he hangs them on the branches, and every year I say, "I agree." Thanks, Brenda.
A few short months after our wedding, we packed up all of our belongings and traipsed down to our new home in Mount Vernon, Missouri. Because I couldn't find a full-time teaching job, I began work as a teacher's aide in the elementary school. I was out of my element for sure, but I was surrounded every day by sweet children and the sweetest of teachers. I spent a lot of time in the room of Mrs. Kellie Krebs that year where we painted our very own gingerbread ornaments. Kellie showed me what it looks like to give your all in the classroom while simultaneously balancing marriage and family life. Her fourth grade students felt like they hit the jackpot every day when they walked into her room, and so did I.
Our time in Missouri introduced us to our first-ever Christian small group experience with a few married couples. In small group I witnessed the beautiful vulnerability of women sharing their sadness as they tried to conceive babies and couples making tough financial choices in the early years of their marriage. We saw job changes and house changes, and for a few years, we did life together. One tradition of small group was a Christmas ornament exchange, and while I have no idea who the Kansas City Chiefs player is that delicately balances on my Christmas tree, I know that every time I clip him to the branch, I think of that small group. The seven couples that attended are all still married more than ten years later. That is beautifully miraculous.
In the spring of our last year at Missouri, my beloved grandma Dorothy died. The trip back to Iowa for her funeral provided the perfect time to interview for a new teaching job, so a few years after moving to Missouri, we found ourselves making the trek north to Okoboji. I can't write about his now without crying because I miss my sister and her crew oh-so much, but for eight years we made our home there where we eventually became a family of four. Okoboji is bike rides around the lake in the fall and nachos at the Taco House and coworkers who felt more like family. Life had other adventures planned for us with another move northward, but our years in Okoboji will always be a tightly-held treasure for me represented by a bobber on my tree.
Before becoming parents, Chris and I took other trips. We visited my dear cousin Taylor in New York City where we dreamed of being city people while carb-loading with the world's best pizza and bagels. Because we were also tourists, we visited Lady Liberty and brought her home to hang on the tree. We also lounged on the beach at the Riviera Maya in Mexico. After being so seasick I prayed for death on a ferry ride to and from Cozumel, we bought our little sombrero so we can dream of sunshine and sweet cocktails in the middle of winter in the Midwest.
Then we became parents. Christmas with kids has taught me to release all expectations of a perfect holiday and to instead enjoy each simple moment as it comes. Adoption introduced us to the very best community of ridiculously brave parents who make daily sacrifices to provide the best life they can for their sweet kiddos. The red heart on the African ornament reminds us of that community, including Shannon and her family, who sold these as a fundraiser for their second adoption. This ornament also reminds us that part of our hearts still beats on the bustling streets of Addis Ababa.
We've also taken trips as a family where we carefully choose a souvenir to bring home. We have a lighthouse from Saint Augustine, Florida, a moose family from Winter Park, Colorado, and an ornament from the Christkindlmarket in Chicago. Because I tend to go through life with rose-colored glasses, I focus on the good memories of these trips: the Bloody Mary delivered on the beach while my boys frolicked in the waves with their cousins, the ache in our muscles as we reached the summit of a mountain in Winter Park, the great conversations we had about faith and science while exploring the Field Museum.
A glass bone balances on the tree for Rooney, a gift from the best neighbor we could have ever asked for, Lori. She took care of Rooney and loved him like her own, even when we moved across town, and she thoughtfully chose gifts for our boys each year that made them feel treasured. And of course the newest ornament to hang on our tree symbolizes our new home, Minnesota, the beginning of a new chapter where we hope to add new adventures and memories to our branches.
So our tree isn't perfect, but then, Jesus didn't come for the perfect, did He? My "merry" might be messy, but it's mine.
Rusty pines stretch high over the lake
under the finally-blue, afternoon sky.
Those towering trees have a Story to tell
as they clap their hands in praise.
Through breaks in their branches
cobalt blue races to the shoreline,
pushed by a Force outside of itself --
a rhythmic lullaby of rejoicing.
That Force, that Story --
they are also in me.
So I, too, sing a song of thanksgiving:
For the breath in my lungs,
the words flowing from my fingertips,
the Truth that I am enough.
For the beat of my heart,
the laughter leaking from my insides,
the Trust that I am loved.
Amen and amen.
I like to teach.