Tuesday, April 28, 2009

this was a juicy hamburger and
strawberry milkshake day. blue the
color of topaz in the sky. the pacific ocean
35 feet from the hotel. brisk air as the salty
waves curled toward shore outside our hotel

tom, my brother-in-law, had business to cover
twelve miles from the oregon coast, and he and
jan asked me to come along. a king-sized
bed and a roll-a-way. just what we wanted,
except tom insisted i sleep with jan, and he
took the roll-a-way. just like tom if you knew

have you ever driven through massive
redwoods, and seen the river racing far below?
stood at the foot of one of these magnificent
trees, shooting high into the sky? so high that,
even squinting, you cannot see the top?

NOTHING God makes can be replicated by
man! not in our bodies. not the majestic
ocean that stretches even beyond the horizon.
jutting mountain peaks with a dash of snow.

sitting in the tiny, home-spun space,
sipping straws of the best ever milkshakes,
i knew how incredulous God's love is for
flawed mortals.

morning light burned through the curtains.
we took the elevator down to the free breakfast
in the lobby. children giggling. orange juice
spilled. i, with p.j. bottoms and a top on. laid
back. some couples animated with each other's
conversation. one man, alone, scowling. peel-
ing off his yogurt top as if he were yanking the
skin of failure off his miserable bones. his
bleak life. one baby screaming. high strung.
needing something, but no one knowing what.

i looked around.
so much life encapsulated in this
one hotel lobby.

we were having fun, but in the damp
quietness of my soul, when i least expect
it, a shadow falls. suddenly, my imperfec-
tions glare at my moment-before peace.

the essence, my entire adult life, is that
God only looks at the heart. our motives.
our love for Him. the clean intention of being
pure and perfect. even as perfection is as
theatrically warped as one lost mis-step...
in a brilliant performance that thrills the
heart and makes one weep. the unnoticed
error obscured completely.

do you ever move from a place of
peace to a cloud dangling overhead?
stealing what was just joy, to now doubts
of your worthiness? i do.

do you get lost in what it really means
to please God? to know your servanthood
is pure? deserving? i second-guess myself
all the time.

my father prayed and fasted, often ten days
at a time. he always seemed sad to me. my
brother set the tone, and he did not match up
to my father's standards. every waking moment
i was trying to make my dad's face light up.
at 7 yrs. old. 12 yrs.old. and through my teenage
years. attempting perfection was an everyday
effort for me. and utterly impossible.

i think i've finally learned to retrace my thoughts.
what had i seen on a billboard? what song had
just played on the cd? feelings are triggered by
something as simple as what someone
said to me that shamed me. once figured out,
a slice of sun trickles into my wound.

if this is not a milkshake and hamburger day,
walk around the block several times. endor-
phins help. do something beautiful for some-
one in your neighborhood. find a chair at the
mall, and watch God's incredible creations.
beauty lives in all of us. somewhere.

"Lord Jesus, i long to be perfectly whole.
i want you forever to live in my soul.
break down every idol. cast out every foe.
now wash me and i shall be whiter than snow."
(author unknown)

take a finger,
and write love across
the sky. dig a toe into
warm sand, and know that
God counts every grain on every
beach in all the world.
life is not defined by strawberry
milkshake days so much as
by the fact that God sticks them in
here and there because He loves to
surprise us. and lift the heavy loads
that life demands to purify us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

a man wrote my children
a letter today about their mother.
he addressed my sons by name.
taylor, brock, colson, brandt.
we really love each other. and
he told the story of his youth ministry
in the 70's and 80's, and how my simple
books shaped his life. i wept.

i am making copies for each of my
sons, and they are going to be so
blessed. blessed because our journey...
the five of us...has been shaped by hardship
and struggle. something beautiful happens
when we stand together through deep waters
of adversity, and days of sorrow and loss.
even more powerful, God is placing wonderful,
loving, caring men into my sons' lives. and
they will be so proud that God has somehow
used their imperfect mom to make a difference.
i remind them that ANYONE can make a
difference. one plus Jesus plus love.

i also received a letter
this week from danae.
17 yrs. old. young and
vibrant and passionate about
Jesus, and taking Him to her
world. some day, i will be gone,
and she will take my place, and others,
reminding the world that Jesus
lives...and He loves. and
His love changes

that is all there is.

almost every day,
i drive over to panera's.
a bakery, and soup and sandwich
place. i made a decision to go
on Easter Sunday afternoon because
i am building bridges to the owner.
he is in my neighborhood.

the parking lot was completely empty.
fearful it was closed, i got out
of my car, anyway, and was
thrilled the door was open.

jerry was at the counter.
wow! i'm sure glad to see someone.
are other places as forsaken as
we are?

yes, i smiled.
so happy to reassure him
that his business wasn't going
under. i bought a shortbread
cookie, a bear claw, and yogurt
with granola. my favorites.

he thanked me so much
for always coming in and giving
him business. for bringing my friends
in, too. so happy! that is how i feel
when i have touched someone
in Jesus' Name.

one day, i went in, and autumn
was behind the counter. a single
mother of three. i ordered, paid,
and asked where we leave tips.
she said they didn't have tips there.

i stood there. thinking. praying.
opened my purse. i had a $100
to pay a bill, but pulled it out,
and rolled it up. sticking it in
autumn's hand, i said...

put this in your pocket.
i love you, and Jesus does.

later, i found out she bought
groceries for another single mom,
and herself. thanksgiving was the
next week.

people loving my children.
all of us trying to love the world.
fresh and glistening and pure.
God promises bright, happy
tomorrows. you'll see.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

jan, my twin sister, was just here
for three days. i've walked my husband
down the road of cancer, and now, jan,
my dearest friend in the world.

i drove her home to sacramento,
and then headed to modesto, to take
colson, my son, to dinner, and to walmart
to buy what he needs for a new job. again,
saddened by his struggles as i am with jan's.

i began to think of Holy Week.
yesterday being Good Friday.
i called each of my children.

remember, today is when we humble
ourselves because Jesus died for our sins.
remember to look for the poor. do something
in Jesus's name for someone.

brock drove in from long beach.
my second oldest son. last night, late.
we'll go to church together tomorrow
before he heads home. Easter Sunday.
the JOY of the Resurrection!

"how precious is the flow..
that washes white as snow..
no other Fount i know..
nothing but the Blood of Jesus."

being brilliant didn't deliver me
from my sins and addictions and corrupt
core, willpower (and you have to have this
to qualify for three boston marathons...and
run ANY 26.2mi.race without stopping) couldn't
lead me out of darkness. only the Blood
of Jesus.

for jan. for my children. for all of us.
only Jesus's Blood can free us of enslavement.
fling the doors of imprisonment wide open.
we are all broken in some way. sick, and
needing healing. of body. or heart and soul.

cry out today.
to the ONLY One who offers
deliverance. the One who moves mountains.
slices through every impossibility,
and raises clean sunrises out of
dark, polluted fears and failures...and
the ropes of terror that bind us. cripple us.

i am not a saint.
i need all the grace everyone
else does. let's drink of the Cup,
and eat the Bread together.
and know...ALWAYS know...
that the Blood will NEVER lose
its power.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

today, i took care of a newborn baby.
beautiful. tiny. that sweet-baby smell.
it brought back so many memories of
when my four were newborns.

then, suddenly, they became teenagers.
almost overnight. and i was a single mom
through most those years. living by faith.
will had died, and cancelled his life-insurance
policy. we didn't have him, or steady finances.

i have loved every stage of my children's lives,
but do you remember when you were a teenager?
my sister and i hardly put our heads on the pillows
at night because we were afraid our teased hair
would get squashed. when we hated how we looked
en route to school, my mother would say,,,oh,
you are young and beautiful!

young?!! what did that
have to do with anything?!
i have said the same thing to my sons,
and they have looked at me the same
way i looked at my mother.

none of my children have gotten into
drugs. so far, no girl has gotten pregnant
that i know. but i had two children that
just fit perfectly into the school box.
homework. projects in on time. studied
on their own for tests. and i have two
who got a's on their tests, but could NEVER
get their brains around homework after 8 hrs.
of classes. my favorite letter of the alphabet
became "d" because it meant they at
least passed the class.

brandt, my youngest, who is now a firefighter
with the air force, would gladly tell you of some
of his escapades. how he and his friend stole
lighters from long's drug, and accidentally burned
an abandoned house to the ground. and how his
learning instructor called me every single day of
8th grade.

mrs. anderson?
brandt went across the street today
and pushed a port-a-potty over where there
is construction.

mom, i don't know why i did that.
i just thought it was a funny thing to do.

colson's english teacher happened to sit
behind me one sunday morning at church.
i had authored 17 books, and was terrified
colson had not passed her class because,
of course, he never did his homework.

even brock, in gifted classes, came home
one day and said,
mom, i have to drop out of high school.
i can't go on. i'll take my GED tomorrow
if you will let me.

and then,
all those car accidents
divided up between four teenagers.

remember the one thing that matters
more than ANYTHING else: relationship.
no matter WHAT my children did, i believed
our relationship was all that really mattered.
they would tell me things i honestly can't
believe most teens would EVER tell their
parents. about sex and pornography and
the terror of rejection.

i wanted to say alot of things,
but i just listened. they trusted me.
it gave me a window in how to pray for
each of them. i would go in, every night,
and talk to them after the lights were out.
lying next to them, in the dark, where words
and emotions came so much easier.

i'm not a child expert,
but if we don't have a loving
relationship with our children,
then they will wander farther away.
yes, i had rules.some might seem silly.

no piercings until you are l8.
brock never complained, but on his l8th
birthday, i went with him to a tattoo shop
where some guy was supposed to be the BEST
with piercings. he had so many on his face that
i could not even really tell what he looked at.
i would not have even wanted him to touch me.
brock and i subtly eyed each other. i put $40
on the table. and stood by brock while he got
his lip pierced. it looked horribly painful, but it
was the best moment of brock's life, i think. smile.

no matter where your teenager is,
and i have seen mine fight and scream
and heard them use school verbage that
melted my insides. BUT, i told them every
single day that i was so PROUD to be their
mom. that i was the richest lady in the world.
i have hugged them. baked them brownies at
10p.m. at night. i've tried to keep my feet on
the ground, and take their momentary insults
without reacting too much. and yes, i called
the police one night because one of my sons
refused to show me any respect. but...

we are wrapped together
by chords of love and loyalty
and mutual respect. and in the
darkest of times, we run to each other.
if your child does not graduate from high
school, it is a disappointment,but there are
worse things. one of my sons is having
such a hard time finding himself. he is
in another city. staying at different friends'
houses, and i won't let him come home
because we have tried EVERYTHING together.
i tell him i think it is my fault. i'm not very
good at boundaries, and he NEEDS that.

often, i drive to where he is.
take him out for his favorite sandwich.
get him a haircut. sometimes buy him
new underwear and socks, and maybe
a cd (he chose johnny cash. i approved).
but i don't give away money. i don't let
him see my tears when i drive away. i
know he has to figure out, on his own,
at 21 yrs. of age, how to find himself.

he calls every few days.
we always talk about how much
we love each other. i've told him,
in the past, that self-respect doesn't
just walk in the door, but i don't
anymore. i remind him, though, to
cry out to Jesus. to pray. that i'm on
my knees, for him, every day.

don't compare your family to
other families. to how well their
children seem to be doing. don't torture
yourself this way. i'd much rather my
children wander around, and find themselves
today than when they are thirty-five and forty.

between us and God.
and between our children,
wherever they are,
and us.
that is everything.