Year 4

January 31, 2015

Every Birthday, I write a letter to my son. Here is this year’s:


Dear Son,

This fourth year of your life has been hard. Really hard. Hard enough to make your mama’s knees get worn out from praying. Hard enough to make us cry many tears. Hard enough to consume our lives, our minds, our souls, even our bank accounts.

You have been sick.

I remember last year, as the impact of your illness was just beginning to show, my prayer was that by your 4th birthday you would be well. Back to strength. Back to health. Back to ability. But I did not get that prayer. You are still sick. You are still struggling. You are still behind. You still lack ability. Every day I find myself whispering to God to bring you back fully, completely. Every night I am thankful for the small inches of growth given that day. And on nights I have nothing to say thank you for, I simply breathe out prayer for strength to keep moving through this.

When I think of all we have lost, I drown in sorrow. But we have gained things too. We have gained a knowledge of you that I don’t think we would have had without this long illness. We have learned that parenting can so easily become wrapped up tightly in small silly things that drive parents crazy, and we have realized that those things matter so very little in the face of what truly matters. We don’t “sweat the small stuff” and so we rejoice that you drew on your sheets with a marker knowing that a few months earlier you didn’t have the strength in your hands to hold a marker. We don’t get irritated at the stream of jargon from your lips because we know that you could have easily been kept silent forever. There are big things and there are little things, and we don’t waste our stress on the little things. In fact, there’s little margin in the bandwidth of our stress levels to stress the little things. We have to reserve what we have for things that matter. Read the rest of this entry »


December 12, 2014

I cried all the way there, attempting to dry up 10 miles out so no one would know. Growing older has a way of teaching you to put feelings in their place, to be able to do what is needed at the moment. They still live side by side with the to do lists and everyday demands. So 10 miles out I organized my soul and then pulled my old car into the parking lot of the church.

Smiles, songs, intense conversation over theological matters, that internal cringing that happens in many of us at particular phrases that don’t fit right, the warmth of seeing human interaction blossom into love. For me, it is the regular inner whiplash of being part of this group of friends and colleagues one moment, and then not being part of them the next moment. I text my husband and then message with a friend, realizing my multi-tasking skills have grown exponentially with age but thinking I really shouldn’t be multi-tasking at all. And I decide silently that I am not up for lunch today after the meeting, pining instead for the safe and lonely confines of my car seat and the open interstate ahead of me.

The conversation dwindles and the clock tells us it’s time to break for the month. Except… he turns to me. This kind weathered face that has wept tears of his own when burying a child. This gentle voice, the man who runs these meetings- the man who tenderly loves the pastors in his region and under his care, the man who restored my faith in church authorities- turns to me. And I outwardly cringe, because I know he will ask. He will peek through the professional exterior and ask what I don’t want him to ask today. “How are you?”

I’m asked those questions so much. Because we are trained to ask “How are you?” in this culture. I ask them too. But we are not trained to hear the answers. And we are not trained to always give the answers. The real ones. There’s something incredibly safe about not having to answer that question in any sort of way that betrays how weak, broken, sad, scared, enraged, aching, closed-minded, frightened, indifferent we really are. In some ways, the formality of asking it protects us from the realities of having to share our lives.  Read the rest of this entry »

That Christmas Spirit

December 11, 2014

I’m having a difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit. It’s not really a “bah-humbug” sort of funk. It doesn’t stem from an ungrateful heart. It doesn’t come from a place of self-focus. At least I don’t think it does. I will pray about that.

I feel quite heavy-hearted this Advent. Sure, the tree is up and I get to watch the lights twinkle in the eyes of my son. And yes, we are wrapping gifts and planning the big family meal. Yes, we are moving through all the plans and rituals of this season, but for me it feels other-worldly. I can drum up a strange sort of happy if I work hard, but this year, I am not humming carols in my quiet moments.

Instead it’s a heavy time for me. I realize sometimes that my throat feels so tight as I plod through a child’s recovery. I realize that hopes of my future are harder to hold when a life calling grows stronger with age, but the doors open and close and I have yet to walk through. That there are moments when prayer even seems too hard. When the anxiety that we so often pray away breaches the levees destructive and big. At night in the dark I realize the truth of the proverb when it somberly declares: hope deferred makes the heart sick. 

Heart sick.  Read the rest of this entry »

When a Dream Matters

August 23, 2014

I have never been very good at baring my soul and asking for prayer. I don’t know that it’s pride as much as it’s fear, along an incredibly powerful ability to minimize my needs in light of what others are suffering. Sometimes it’s my education that gets in the way too. But mostly, I think it’s fear. Fear of opening myself up to being someone who desperately needs the faithful prayers of others. And a (not so) little touch of introversion thrown in as well.

I do pray for myself. I pray for the people in my life. I pray for my family. But asking for prayer… tough for me. And I know that I’m not the only one, because I’ve met many people like me. We sit back and sometimes roll our eyes at the consistent prayers of others asking for a community to lift them up in these matters, but deep inside we ache for the ability to bare our souls so powerfully. But when we bare our souls we then must welcome the outpouring of love and grace often given to us and that can be just as hard to receive. Or we fear, wrongly, that people will laugh at our pain or slap their trite answers on top of which hurts more than our silence.

And so we suffer in silence, throwing our desperate prayers around an empty room, throbbing in our hearts to just have someone- just one person- read our minds. And it rarely happens that way.  Read the rest of this entry »