People often ask me about the name of my blog... click here to read the story.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Crash Landings

We've been watching the Olympics (of course) and mom and I decided it's stressful to watch Alpine Skiing.
Without warning, skiers succumb to the whim of the mountain.
athletes going full speed
holding nothing back
then, one minute mistake and suddenly they're launched airborne
crashing with force on the frozen ground
careening down the slope until they either hit an immovable object or lose momentum
there they lay
bodies contorted
skis broken or ripped off their feet

their Olympic hopes gone
gingerly, they pick themselves up
bruised in both body and spirit they limp off the course

The commentators, usually retired skiers themselves, pointed out where the athletes went wrong and the causes of the crashes; positioning of the skis, course conditions, hitting bumps in the hill at a difficult angle, mental distractions and slow recovery after being airborne were a few.

But to us, the untrained spectators, the mistakes seemed minor, insignificant and at times undetectable.
Yet, mistakes were made, races lost, and Olympic dreams dashed.
Years of dedication, training, perseverance and hope gone in a split second.

Sitting at one of my kids sporting events recently, I had a conversation that left me uncomfortable. It took a little while for me to process why. This person (who I don't know very well) was doubting the faith of someone based on their actions. She decided they couldn't be a Christian because of some poor choices and, to her, faulty theology.
Now it's true that the Bible says we (Christians) will be known by our
fruit, but it also says again and again and again that it's Christ who saves.
Jesus is the only one who lived a flawless life and could save us.
The rest of us are
screwed up.
Time after time we start down our mountain and make a mistake and end up airborne and crashing onto icy ground.

We all do it.
We all mess up all the time.
And in instances when we don't mess up, someone else will, still causing a crash.

So what hope do we have? How do we get up after the crashes in life?

Divorce, abuse, betrayal, financial ruin, wayward kids, addictions, cancer, health issues...sadly, the list is endless.
How do we get up and face everyday? Sometimes every moment?
One of my favorite songs by Reliant K, Be My Escape, includes the words: "the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair."
Life in grace, indeed, is not fair. It gives us what we could never deserve. It allows for me to get up and breathe and go to work and love my family and serve and function and laugh and smile and feel blessed even in the midst of pain.
So, dear reader, let me offer this blessing that's uttered in one form or another 18 times in the New Testament alone:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

(to hear the song, go to track #6)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Gift

"..will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?" ~question of intent from the traditional marriage vows

"What's love got to do, got to do with it? What's love but a second hand emotion? What's love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?" ~Tina Turner 1984

Reading all the lyrics of the popular Tina Turner song, it's obvious she's singing about physical attraction. But with Valentine's Day just past, it's an interesting question applied to life and relationships.
What does love have to do with it?
We attribute so much to love.
We get married because of it.
We have kids because of it.
Love brings both intense joy and intense pain. The joy is obvious, but the pain...oh, the pain...only someone you love deeply can hurt you just as deeply.
Love motivates both action and restraint. We do all sorts of things out of love: speak kind words, protect, sacrifice time & money so people we love can enjoy life. We also stop ourselves from saying and doing hurtful things to those we love, knowing the pain we inflict can be devastating.
But what does love have to do with living life? and is love enough in this life? without money...without hope or faith, without love enough? We may get married because of love, but we stayed married, through good and bad and thick and thin because of commitment, not love. We stay in any relationship (family friends etc...) and work out differences, difficulties and even betrayal, not based on the feeling of love, but based on a choice to commit.

There's a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Painted Veil: "When love and duty are one, grace is within you."

I experienced grace this Valentine's Day. Love and duty mingled into one.

No chocolates.
No flowers.
No jewelry.
No pretty packaging.
No candle lit dinner.
No romantic weekend getaway.
Not even a schmaltzy card.
The gift I received this Valentine's Day was, to say the least, non-traditional.

Filled with love beyond measure, it surpassed all past gifts and will doubtless be the most memorable.

The stomach flu hit on my birthday and progressively got worse until I was reduced to a shaky, light-headed, dehydrated mess of a woman. This past Sunday, Valentine's day, the day of true love, my servant-husband, waited on me.
But it didn't start on Sunday. The serving started on Tuesday as I began retching into a bowl because I was too dizzy to walk.
Over the next 5+ days, my Valentine did the dishes. He washed, dried and folded laundry. He took care of all the prior responsibilities I had. He took our children to Church. He schlepped kids around to basketball games & friends houses. He made all the meals. He continued to do his own work, checking in on me as often as possible. And, last but not least, he cleaned up after his very sick wife.

He loved me in word and deed. His actions, tenderness, and kind words spoke both love and and me (and my kids whether they get it right now or not).
Thank you, honey, from the bottom of my still shaky heart.
I love you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


It's a pattern that's repeated itself so many times in my heart and mind that I don't know when it started and can't imagine it will ever end. Beginning with disappointment leading to feelings of failure giving rise to thoughts of despair, this downward spiral starts small. But like a vortex of a tornado, it picks up speed as is draws in everything in its path. I've gotten better at recognizing it and doing everything in my power to stop it; exerting all my effort and will so it(the monster of depression) doesn't effect those closest to me. But the twister, at times an F5 but most days much smaller, keeps weaving its destructive path wreaking havoc in my heart and mind.
It's exhausting. Some days, fighting it takes so much energy. I long to give in, but I know that's not the answer and only compounds the problem.
But persevering can be so hard. Every where I look, every where I turn, every thing I read or hear is a potential threat to the contentment and hope of a moment.
That's what it is...a moment by moment battle.
In Bible study last night I mustered my strength and courage, and in between the laughs and catching up (we haven't met for 8 weeks), I shared- through tears- once again (they've heard it oh, so many times), my on going struggle to live each day and sometimes each moment, without giving up.

Just last week I was thinking that I felt pretty good...maybe it (February--it's always the worst) would be fine this year despite the gray sky's and mounds of snow (which, incidentally, will probably still be visible in May--and I'm not exaggerating or being dramatic for those of you who live further south).

But alas "...February rolls around and I roll my eyes..."

In Like A Lion (Always Winter) (track #12 on the player)
Relient K

It's always nice to look out the window
And see those very first few flakes of snow
And later on we can go outside
And create the impression of an angel that just fell from the sky

When February rolls around I'll roll my eyes
Turn a cold shoulder to these even colder skies
And by the fire my heart it heaves a sigh
For the green grass waiting on the other side

It's always winter but never Christmas
It seems this curse just can't be lifted
Yet in the midst of all this ice and snow
Our hearts stay warm cause they are filled with hope

It'd be so nice to look out the window
And see the leaves on the trees begin to show
The birds would congregate and sing
A song of birth a song of newer things

The wind would calm and the sun would shine
I'd go outside and I'd squint my eyes
But for now I will simply just withdraw
Sit here and wish for this world to thaw

And everything it changed overnight
This dying world you brought it back to life
And deep inside I felt things
Shifting everything was melting
Away oh away
And you gave us the most beautiful of days

Cause when it's always winter but never Christmas
Sometimes it feels like you're not with us
But deep inside our hearts we know
That you are here and we will not lose hope

You know, I talk about my own struggles, I don't know what yours are. Perhaps you've never experienced a despairing thought in your life-thank God. But I know that I know that I know there are individuals reading this who are hurting & struggling today with a myriad of issues. I guess I'm here to remind you that you're not alone. There is Hope.

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Heb 12: 1-3