Tis the Season 2010







It's now December. September was the last time I published a blog. Excuses, excuses! They fill my calendar. Life is just too busy it seems. Looking through my list of posts, there were at least five that I wrote and never published. In trying to figure out why, I re-read through some of them and realized that at those times, I just needed to get thoughts out of my head and onto the page. They definitely were significant at the time, but it wasn't necessarily anything that anyone else might find interesting, so they sit in the draft pile. This moment in this season seems like a good time to catch up with writing.


Over the past month, Christmas traditions fill our thoughts and plans, some good and anxiously anticipated, some just obligatory. Usually, decorating the house and the tree, hanging twinkling lights and playing the Christmas tunes all build spirit and excitement weeks before. It was difficult this year for us in the decorating part, almost all of our Christmas decorations are in storage where they've been since May. We put up the tree, but if it didn't have lights already attached, it would be bare. No ornaments, no tinsel, no star. It's almost comical, but I just don't see the point of purchasing all the same stuff as I have sitting in storage, only to have twice as much next year. When it gets dark and we turn on the little lights, somehow the shadows cast on the ceiling and walls seem soft and have a romantic, magical glow. It does feel like Christmas.


Then there the matching Christmas lists that are sent via text or email with the list of possible gifts I want to give people in my life. This really begins the process of thinking about those individuals on a deeper level. We start to shine a light on their position in our life, how has the relationship been this past year and what gift could possibly reflect the amount of love we feel for them. All the while a little nervous and apprehensive about whether it will be received with all the love we attach to it. Can a gift really do that?


While it all starts with joyous thoughts, high expectations of peace and love spilling everywhere, and every recipe we make turning out perfectly, it doesn't always go that way. Things happen to be so busy during this season that it's even possible to burn microwave popcorn, which typically anyone can make without much attention. I love the frenetic pace of the holidays just as much as anyone, but as the years go by I am starting to understand why it is the most depressing time of the year. Many people slide into a deep funk and find it hard to get out. The joy, peace and love just can’t catch up to them, they are resistant to it or there’s no one in their life that can be a source for these three precious things. Reality and realizations set it and it can be a very emotional time of year.


Prior to 1995, the last time I had celebrated Christmas was 1967. I’m not kidding.


As a child I remember celebrating Christmas with my family, watching my parents put up a tree. Some years it was a silver metallic tree with brightly colored ornaments and a revolving color wheel sitting just beyond it to cast an ever-changing stream of multi-colored light onto the tree. With all of the house lights turned out and it dark outside, this was amazing ambiance to a little kid! I could sit in the living room for hours dreaming and fantasizing about what might be in the wrapped packages underneath. I remember going to my grandparent’s house for Christmas dinner, bringing gifts to all my cousins. One year it was a coloring book and small pack of crayons for each of the 15 children there. My parents probably sacrificed something to make that happen. I remember one year having family over to our house and my Grandpa and uncles pretending that Santa was close by. Watching the live specials on TV that tracked Santa’s whereabouts, sneaking outside and throwing stuff up on the roof and then telling me it was Santa’s reindeer walking around up there. Then we’d run outside to see if we could catch a glimpse. But no, we somehow missed the big show, again.


Then one year after we had moved to a new state and a new home, we celebrated Christmas and my Dad told us that it would be our last Christmas. Having been taught not to question adults, the explanation he gave us of “our new church doesn’t celebrate Christmas” went unchallenged. Unlike children of today who don’t hold back at challenging an idea with their parents, we were in complete compliance knowing we didn’t have a choice. As this was the pattern of relating to my parents, I showed no emotion, no grief or no disappointment. Instead my attention was directed towards looking forward in anticipation of our new “opportunity” to be a part of this church. I liked change, even as a child, but I really didn’t know what to do with a change like this. Something that represented a family time, a connection to a story about Jesus who I’d learned about in Vacation Bible School, and those magical lights, what would the next year be without them? It was like telling a child that you weren’t going to celebrate their birthday anymore. Oh wait, we stopped celebrating those, too. I still struggle with the memories of that day in my life.


Every December, I reflect back to that particular season and every year since where Christmas was absent in my life. I say until 1995 because that’s when it all changed. Having bought into the teaching long enough that Christ, Christianity and Christmas was something to be ignored, and after having exited the church my Dad brought me into nearly 30 years before, we were faced with the idea that now we could enter into that time to celebrate. My children were 11 and 14 at that time. They had never celebrated Christmas. It was going to be a new thing in our household.


That first year however, we had a difficult time giving ourselves permission. So, with no hesitation, my son, Chris, took it upon himself to handle things. He took the small, unassuming, 4-ft Norfolk pine tree I had in the living room into his bedroom. He closed the door and began to be very busy. All afternoon he was working on “something” but wouldn’t tell us what. Came time for Christmas Eve, he revealed what he had been so involved with. Inviting us into his room, we sat on the edge of his bed, and were in complete amazement that he had taken the Norfolk pine, gently hung a small string of tiny lights around it, and placed a few items fashioned into ornaments hanging from the branches. He had made a Christmas tree. Underneath it, he had placed items he carefully wrapped in any kind of paper he could find. He knew what to do. He had been observant the previous 11 years and being especially attune to detail, he wasn’t about to miss anything significant. He then gave each of us a present. Un-wrapping it, I had to hold back tears because the preciousness of that moment was too much. He had taken things that already belonged to us, sneaked them out of our rooms and wrapped them for Christmas gifts. He wasn’t going to let Christmas go by without us not doing something. He also drew a fireplace in a piece of paper, complete with red brick, a fire blazing and a mantle from which hung four stockings. I cannot think of this moment and not weep for so many reasons. I know that at least one picture was taken of the tree, but it has escaped me all these years. What I wouldn't give for that picture.


One of those reasons haunts me today. Up until that point, my children were deprived of celebrating Christmas their entire life. Those tender, impressionable years when children are developing their emotional attachment to their world, there was no connection with the Christmas story, with Jesus or who He should be in their life. They didn’t get to celebrate the awesomeness of knowing this baby Jesus came to save the world. They didn’t get to believe, wonder and then not-believe in Santa Claus. They didn’t get to feel special and showered with gifts, each one representing love in a tangible way. They didn’t get to experience the aura of the lights wrapped around the tree that created a magical glow that’s not repeated in any other way. They never had a stocking filled with treats. Not at Christmas and not even on their birthday, when love should saturate every second of the day and a person should be made to feel like their existence in this world matters.


Even though after this “Christmas-hating” church we tried to move towards traditions and elements typical of the season, I’m not sure we ever ran on all cylinders, there was always something we didn’t get quite right. My personal belief is that not being able to start this until late in their life, there’s not the same emotional connection that I had when I was small. I see my daughter Sara beginning to teach Wyatt, who is one year old, about Christmas. I recently saw a picture of her tree, complete with a star at the top, decorations they picked out together hanging on the branches, the stockings prominently hanging in a special place and the “must have” picture with Santa. How precious this is. At the same time, my heart breaks because they missed that when they were small. I missed that when they were small. They missed the wonder that it all brings, they missed the feeling of being special enough to get presents from Santa, and they missed the anticipation of something really fun and exciting happening on December 25th. As in most things, when we contrast the “not having” with the “finally having,” a deeper sense of gratitude usually accompanies the emotions we associate with it. I really hope this is true for them, more so now than ever. I also pray they can forgive where I failed them and create new memories that will fill gaps where there are none.


If I let myself dwell on this part of the story, I’d be wrecked for days. Instead, even though this year is a little different for us, not being with our children or grandchildren, not putting up many decorations and really not purchasing even the usual amount of gifts, we can still be moved by the Christmas music, feel deeply about the messages of Christ’s birth and anticipate spending the day together, if not with others. It’s reducing it down to a common denominator, being able to rest there and absorb its full impact that even makes it possible. The common denominator is this,




“To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9.6-7)


I can be all depressed, emotional or full of regret, but the reality is that this baby who was born was called “Immanuel” meaning God with us. Even throughout all these years, regardless of our choices of how to celebrate this day, whether acknowledged or not, whether we exchanged gifts or not, whether my children got to experience it or not, He was God, born to be with us in this life. He stepped into our world to embrace us and love us in a way we know for certain that we matter. Through strong emotions such as these, through despair, depression, regrets and through the loneliness that we can feel, acknowledging God by being in adoration of that once baby Jesus will carve out some feeling of importance. We are important to Him. That’s all that matters.


Merry Christmas. I, for one, am happy and thankful to celebrate.

Finally Getting Somewhere!

This blog will be a little different. It will be more concise, not as much fluff, but none-the-less rewarding for me to write because I have some rather important news to share.

For the past few years, many things have aligned in my life that have brought great joy, peace, happiness and love. At the top of this list is my relationship with Michael, who is the love and joy of my life. Not only are we head over heals in love, find ourselves longing to just be together and do everything together, he has become my solid rock for support and encouragement. We have proven over and over that we are better together than apart. It was totally appropriate that we played Jack Johnson's song "Better Together" at our wedding reception! He has allowed me freedoms, given me validation and helped me sort through all the toxicity of the past, all in preparation for opportunities in the future. I'm truly grateful that he has allowed me to be me, loved me on both the good days and the difficult days, and extended to me the most amazing amount of love and respect. Some days it's hard to believe. My heart is full and I'm a better, more healthy person because of him.



That said, part of the transition that he has been so supportive of has been the shifting of my life enough for the gifts and talents that I have to emerge. The most significant is my writing. My computer and I have become very good friends over the past two years with all the writing I have been doing. Through the encouragement of many friends in my inner circle, and you know who you are, this love for writing has not only taken root, but it has blossomed. So much so that I have just completed signing with a publisher to actually publish my very first book! How amazing is that!! This will be the first in a series of children's books. I will have a team of editors, designers and illustrators that I work with in order to complete this project and actually get it on the shelf! This is a HUGE deal and I'm thrilled!!

Over the next few months, I may be soliciting you for feedback on certain aspects of the project. Input from others will be so helpful in making decisions about a number of details. If you want to be included in this, please email me and let me know or send me a message through Facebook. I will put you on a list of supporters who will give me honest, objective and much needed feedback!

Walking through this process with a circle of friends will be amazing. I'm looking forward to sharing more details with you as they emerge. I would ask for prayers during this process as well, that all things will come together for the good of the project, that people will be blessed by the final result and there will be a measure of success that can be turned around and used to bless others.

Let the journey begin!

Little Prayer Book

After moving a few months ago, the other day I was unpacking yet another small box with things belonging to my office. Tucked between a number of folders, papers and other desk things, I found a little blue book. It's about the size of a small envelope, about a three by five inch size. It was held together by a black elastic band so the pages wouldn't be disturbed. On the front it says "Mommy's Little Prayer Book" handwritten with a gold pen. There is also a small angel handdrawn with the same gold pen in the top right corner. Looking at it, again I thought, "how precious." It was signed on the bottom of the front cover, "from Pookie." I sighed. 

Pookie is a nickname for my daughter, Sara. She was born with an extraordinary amount of hair for a newborn, it was dark and the top stood straight up. At the time, punk rock was becoming mainstream, with hair styles similar to my little baby. So, it seemed only fitting that she be nicknamed "punkie." Over time, that evolved to "pookie." Nevertheless, it was definitely a term of endearment, then and now. At Christmas there were the 'Sara' gifts and there were the 'Pookie' gifts. The Pookie gifts were a little more tender, a little more personal, a little sweeter, and were given from a different place in the heart. My son has similar terms of endearment, it was first Buddy, then Bud, then Bubba. Now it's just Stu. I know that will make some people laugh.

Back to the book, I removed the elastic band, opened it to the front cover. The date inside said December 25th, Christmas, 2000. This was a gift that she had made for me 10 years ago. Turning to the first page, she wrote these instructions inside:




"Everybody has special prayers sometimes. And in hard times it's nice to see how God has answered those prayers. One of the best ways to do that is to record those prayers. That way you have tangible evidence of God through the thick and thin. Don't forget to record how your prayers have been answered." 




My first thoughts upon reading this again were a testiment to the wonderful teaching that she had received at Willow in the Student Impact Ministry for high-schoolers. She learned first to pray to God, that prayers are special conversations with God, that God could be relied upon and that He is faithful during the good times and the difficult times. This was a great exercise to be an object lesson for anyone who is testing the waters of prayer and their relationship with God. What a beautiful lesson she had learned.

On the next page she wrote a more personal message. At the time she made this gift, she was just about to head off for her first semester of college. That in itself was difficult enough for me to experience, and now she left behind a little piece of herself for me to hold on to. She expressed her wish that this would be a fun and helpful little gift. She wasn't quite sure why she thought of it, but that it seemed like the right thing to do, and even gave God the credit. "Guess that's God," she wrote. The last thing she wrote was "think of me while I'm away (at college), cause I think of you. Love, Sara a.k.a.Pookie". And as usual, with her signature came a hand drawn heart, as she always does. As I read this again for the first time, tears just welled up in my eyes. How I loved that part of her that was so tender, thoughtful and loving . I just wanted to hug her right then and there.

Instead, I opened up the pages to the prayers that I had jotted down. First the prayer, then the answer. Incredible to see how specific some were and that God answered them all. Everything from praying for Sara to get a part in the play at school, to helping Chris come home from school happy once in a while. God answered both of these requests. The first within five days, the second on the same day! Wow. This was working. Not that I thought writing them down was the secret to having them answered, but that I could keep track and see the goodness of God. It helped me see a little more how directly involved He was in their lives. As a mom, this was heart-warming to say the least. My first post in the book was January 17, 2001. As I turned the pages, I thought surely there is at least a few years worth of prayers in here. I prayed for my children specifically all the time, without fail. I prayed even when I didn't know what was going on with them, but knew that God did. I was anxious to relive those prayers and remember how God answered them. Many I can recall from memory, but I was certain there were some I would have completely forgotten.

Turning the pages, I started to get a sinking feeling. There were only a few more pages of prayers recorded, the last page was August 2, 2001. No, that can't be possible. I thought for sure I had written more. Quickly I flipped through each and every page, not wanting to miss anything. What I did find was throughout the book were pages Sara had written scriptures on, words of encouragement, words of strength. If I had just kept writing I would have come to these eventually and see the message left behind for me to find. But what I did not find was a volume of prayers, with answers. Trying not to feel guilty, I am justifying it with a few excuses, life got busy, the book was placed in my bedside drawer and got covered up so I didn't see it, I didn't like to write down my deepest or even my shallowest thoughts because they were so personal. Whatever the real reason, none of those erase regret. My heart is broken at the missed opportunity to reach back into a segment of life with my children and replay those prayers that only a mom can pray on a daily basis. Not that I didn't pray, but at the time I didn't really understand the value of writing them down. I was too tired, too busy or too whatever. None of that makes sense to me right now, when all I wished I had done was written a simple sentence or two. Then it would be there on the page to read later.

In just that few moments, scanning through this tiny little hand crafted gift from my daughter, I realized that it wasn't just about what was written on the pages, it was also about what was missing from the pages. What was missing, was evidence that I had prayed for them at all. The fact that their lives were and are so rich and they are so blessed gives me great satisfaction because I see God answering prayers on their behalf all the time. I know for certain that my prayers for them did not cease, blank pages are not evidence of that. I have confidence in knowing that what I do today in praying for them is the same thing I've always done. God has always been there. I regret not completing the writing in the book. As much as I love to write now, I can see the value of being able to hold in my hand my most precious thoughts and conversations to God about my most precious possessions, my children. Even through the difficulties of these past few years, I still did not write down my specific prayers. I know that so many were very intense. I would like to have seen that evidence of God on the pages, not just in my mind's eye.

I'm not sure I'm going to use this specific little blue book, but I'm thinking that instead of regreting the next decade of unwritten, undocumented prayers, I should probably just take a moment or two during the day, and write down a sentence or two about how I'm praying for Sara, and now grandson Wyatt and Chris. On my iphone I have an app that's called "Project365." It's an app that allows me to record a photo a day for the next year on a calendar style format. Then I can turn to any day and it will remind me of an event from that specific day. I like the idea enough to adopt it for prayers...."PrayerProject 365" is what I'll call it. It would be a miracle if this time next year I actually have 365 prayer entries.

The last scripture entry that she wrote in the book says "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we REJOICE in the hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2.  I'm going to hold those words a little closer, hold the book a little tighter, and lift my children a little higher in prayer to God...for 365. Amazing what a little blue book can do for me these days. Thanks Sara, a.k.a. Pookie.

Really, Only God.

Photo by Jami Dale.


For the past week my daughter Sara and I have connected because there has been a need...her car died. It's always stressful, annoying and just a total inconvenience when any hour of life has to be devoted to dealing with car issues. But needs have a way of drawing people together. It's a time to rally around and get the problem dealt with so life can be back to normal, especially in her case with 9 month old Wyatt. Babies need routine. Breaking that can be an added layer of stress. Sometimes the expectation is that this need has to be fixed or remedied by a certain method or by certain people. However, pulling everyone together allows for the best possible outcome. It allows the mixture of resources, energy, intelligence and prayer to come together in one unique opportunity to support and bless that individual who is in need. In this case, it was Sara and Wyatt.

I'm so thrilled that she called me to include me in that circle of contacts as she reached out for help. There were several options for assistance, but in my case only one bubbled to the surface that seemed plausible at this moment. And that was ok. Because realizing that I couldn't just do it all or fix it all, which is sometimes a Mom's curse, I took to the only other thing I could do - just pray. At a time like this our prayers are so specific, so exact, so intense. Any parent would go to bat with the God of the Universe for our children! That is what I did.
  
Realizing my inability to give in a way to supply a solution to all of her need, I went to God who has ALL resources at His disposal. I knew that in asking for Him to provide a miracle - that He would. I prayed that she would see His goodness and His provision in her life and that she could trust Him for the answer to this problem. I'm not the supplier of all her needs...God is. That is not my role anymore, hasn't been for a very long time. I wanted God to make Himself look bigger in her life and surprise her in a big way with the blessing she needed to move through this stressful time. And, without a doubt in my mind, knowing that He could and would, I left it with God to provide the solution. And He did.
   
Photo by Shawn Ray.

When we talked last night, she told me that she had her new car in her possession and it was a better car than she ever thought she could own. OMG...what??? already? I was shocked! As the story goes, a couple of very special friends stepped forward to offer what they had to help her. One person decided they could co-sign with her on the loan, two other people blessed her with the downpayment that was a gift and didn't need to be repaid. Wow! Is God good, or what??? Today, the paperwork will be signed and off she will go. Life back to normal. God didn't need me this time to provide the answer or solution, just support and prayer. He already knew who would be helping her, I just had to take a step back and let God work His magic. Her friends were acting on the impressions they received from God to help her in this time of need. And what a blessing they are to her. Does that mean that next time these are the ones who will provide her need? No, not exactly. They are wonderful people, but not necessarily the ones to continue stepping out in this particular way. No one needs to be that to another person. As long as we are open to the possibility that God will provide, then the blessings come from wherever He designates. Anyone can be used to bless another. I'm amazed and in awe, again, at His faithfulness to care for His precious children. Proof that He loves us indeed.

I believe that when we get that prompting, that impression, that voice telling us to move in a certain way, walk a certain direction, or talk to a certain person, it's always for a purpose. If these few friends had not listened to that, she would not be the recipient of a huge, unexpected blessing. But they did listen, they did respond and she is truly blessed by their generosity. Seeing how God works, makes me want to be one of those people chosen to help others, to give to others, to share and bless others. Not just once, but over and over and over, on a daily basis, if the need is there. I always have felt that God gave me the gift of giving. So, if that is true, then I had to trust that God will fund or resource that giving. He will also tell me when, where and for whom. It's happened so many times in the past and it will again in the future. I want to be so attentive to that small voice that directs me to help someone else. I want to be so sensitive that I see the needs of others and can't resist reaching out. I want to be so well resourced that helping seems like the right thing to do.

There is an amazing set of verses in the Bible that talk about generosity, 2 Corinthians 9.7-12:

"7-11 God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

12-15Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!"

 

Amazing how God wants to set us up for being generous and it's a win-win for everyone. That seems like a better philosophy than struggling, having expectations that can't be met, or stressing about where it's all going to come from. God knows the need and has already blessed some to be able to give when the need in another arises. We just sit back and watch His goodness fall all around us. You can't writes stuff like this, only God can...and does. Today, I'm truly thankful for His goodness being extended to my daughter. I'm thankful she has friends who truly love her enough to be there when things get rough. I always want to be generous and giving to my children. Sometimes the best gift is praying for them and trusting that God will extravagently bless them in His own way.  I'm truly grateful that she and I have reconnected, if even in this small way and for this brief moment. I'm praying it leads to many others.

Motion IS Potion!

Not sure who originated this quote, but my friend Angie told me a few months ago when we were discussing the affect getting older has on our bodies...."motion is potion." Some people say "use it or lose it." Either way, those of you in my age bracket probably understand. You know, when you sit for a while at the computer desk, or on the couch, or even in the drivers seat, that first second standing...ouch! It's a constant reminder that we aren't getting younger. It sort of makes you crazy though to realize that even simple things aren't as easy as they once were. And if there's been any sort of trauma to the body, then it's even harder. In my case, after several car accidents, my body's telling me...you better be careful, one more and we're through. Well, not permanently, just through trying to recover in a timely fashion. Once injury or trauma happens, it takes much longer for the muscles, nerves and tissues to heal. In spite of others saying, it's all in your head....its NOT all in your head. It is very real. I'm putting this quote of "motion is potion" to the test. I'm tired of my body hurting, aching, rejecting even the slightest move I want to make. I'm getting into some serious motion.






First, I've been trying yoga. It's really amazing the healing on the body that takes place from just 60 minutes in a class. It's hard at first, but the stretching and the relaxation of the muscles really does help. Yoga in a heated room is even better. It's as if you are wrapped in a heating pad but you're sweating as if in a sauna. It's actually refreshing. Plenty of water is vital.



The first class I took was a Restorative Yoga. Michael came with me. Surprisingly, there were several other guys as well. This restorative yoga worked every muscle in the body, but not to the point of stressing the muscle like weight lifting. It was stretching, stretching, relaxing, and more stretching. The results were amazing. It's also about breathing, being in control of your motions and being intentional about pushing random, wandering thoughts out of your mind. This calming helped me focus on the task at hand, which was dealing with assisting my body to heal.


Other classes have been traditional yoga, very intense and rigorous workouts. Any yoga experts or advanced participants make it look so easy. In the class, it's not about competition, it's about you centering yourself and working through your own issues, physically and emotionally. In one class, as is typical, the instructor was playing background music. A song came on that had many memories attached to it. Right in the middle of class tears came gushing out. There was no stopping them. Apparently this can happen so easily as our muscles release all the tension and stress that they have been holding. Attached to that stress and tension...is emotions. So as one goes, it all goes. Interesting process. Motion is potion, and this is really powerful stuff.




Second, I'm walking/running again. I don't care if it hurts. I'm hoping the long term results and benefits will outweigh the initial onset of pain and agony after which something stronger than Advil is usually required. I'm hoping that the motion of moving rhymically to the tunes like Lady Gaga's Dance or Katy Perry's California Girls will become something that my body becomes addicted to again. My iphone is full of music and it makes the time and distance go by very quickly. Once I stepped outside, I realized how much I needed to be there, it was absolutely perfect weather, so the fresh air was so refreshing, both physically and mentally. Today, I took Maxxie out with me, but that won't happen again. He's just too small to go the distance! I know that running a marathon is out of the question, but training to just do the most and the best I can will be enough for me right now. Motion is potion, so I think it will make getting up from the computer desk much easier in the long run.




Third, one of the things that Michael and I love to do is dance. It's not been as much fun here in the apartment as it was in the log cabin in the woods in Maine. Boy, could we turn up the music out there! Here, not so easy. We're looking forward to moving into our home and having that space for dancing and making a joyful noise. There's something about moving to the music, singing the songs and being with someone you love. It makes you feel like a little kid again, totally uninhibited and free. Many times our songs are worship songs, and that is very meaningful, very special time we share. I just learned that the yoga studio has Tango lessons once a week...that's our next endeavor. We just have to remember that motion is potion. Our bodies will thank us later.


Life is too short to always be thinking that we're sick and tired of being sick and tired. A lot of those feelings come from stress, so moving will help get us out of that cycle. I am so looking forward to the high you get from being in the groove of moving, whether it's running, walking, yoga, or dancing. There is always a point where your body slowly slides into the zone of feeling really good, when everything is warmed up and moving actually feels great. It happens after about 5-10 minutes or about a half mile walking, depending on how fast you are moving. Once you're there, you feel the aches and pains dissolve away. Your body can move better, easier, more fluidly. It feels really good. I love that part, when all things work together for good! Motion is potion seems like a good theory. I'm testing it, and I already know it works. That in itself is enough motivation for me to get back out there tomorrow.

Another August Another Birthday

For the past few years I have written and resubmitted the birthday blog about my two children, Sara and Chris, their birthdays are at the end of this month. Here's a link in case you missed it.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=695155067&v=box_3#!/note.php?note_id=123210038433


It was written in a moment of happiness, joy, love and hope. Hope that if they knew how I felt they would be blessed by knowing my deepest thoughts. Hope that somehow it might create a movement towards mending the broken hearts, chipped ego's and stretched-out-of-shape emotions. Hope that the possibility would exist for every part of our family to recover from the events of the past four years and we would emerge stronger, more resilient, more intertwined knowing that relationships are the only thing that we will take into eternity.

I look at pictures like the one above and remember the time when I got them dressed in cute clothes, set up the little rocking chair in the living room, helped Sara hold her little brother so he didn't wiggle away, and tried to make a memory by snapping my camera to capture the moment. Before and after the picture we were laughing, happy, excited and having a great time. Back then my picture taking skills were lacking for sure, but I managed to grab a few that were cute. These days, my picture taking ability has grown so that capturing a memory is so much more powerful. I really look through the lens and try to capture the feeling of the moment, not just the subject. When I look back on this picture, I still feel the moment. I look into their little faces and see the beauty and innocence of childhood that made me feel so tender towards them. I see two children who captured my heart and my life and made me feel loved as a Mom. I see sweetness and gentleness which made me feel warmth and joy at knowing these two God-given children. This and hundreds of other photos that I have really move me and take me back to that time and I grieve that it went so quickly.

I look into the picture and see what I had hoped for when they were small. I hoped for their happiness, their success, their joy, that they would have children of their own so they could feel what I felt and especially for their love, that they would feel deeply loved. It was my daily goal to be as loving as I could be, to play with them, to rest with them, to enjoy the outside with them, to bond with them, hoping it would last a lifetime. I wanted to enjoy these same feelings forever. I wanted them to know and feel loved by me for their entire lifetime.  I wanted to remain deeply connected to them, and for them to love, respect, appreciate our relationship as they got older.

Somehow, that all fell apart. Somewhere along the way, I realized that if I wasn't truly happy, at peace with myself and felt truly loved, that they would not feel this either. Through many years of praying and working through problems and issues with myself, and issues others had with me (as if that was my fault) it was crucial that I make changes in order to get to the true center of who I was intended to be. They saw me as their Mom, but as they grew older and more mature, they saw me as Mom with problems or Mom with issues, or Mom who wasn't completely present. Truthfully, their assessment was accurate.

So sad to say, but external factors were interrupting that precious relationship I thought I had with them. External factors like my relationship with their dad, the fundamental changes at a core level in the church I attended for over 35 years, the shaking up of my self-confidence in discovering that my frustration wasn't all about me. While it was no excuse to be emotionally distant from them, it was the reality. Not to mention they were growing through their own stuff as well, high school, just into college, not so perfect relationships and all the rest. But our home environment was toxic. It had to be fixed. I prayed incessently that God would heal whatever was broken. And with no one else taking responsibility or leading the recovery, I felt the burden and felt as though all of it was my fault for the failure. That somehow I let everyone down, that I wasn't strong enough to hold it all together. But never, ever, did I expect God to work the way He did in our lives. You just don't plan like that. You always plan from the perspective that positive results will be what everyone experiences. Looking back, after zooming out to gain a better perspective, I realize this was toxic thinking. I was wrong. I was not fully to blame, and I'm still not.

For me that hope still exists that our relationships can heal. The path to obtaining it is dimmed. I know it's possible, I know it's hard work, I know it's worth it. But the path is so dim on some days that it seems non-existent. So, maneuvering through the darkness is mind numbing, disorienting, scary and tiring. As I look in on these two precious individuals, who are God's children more than mine, I still see brokenness. As much as Sara's relationship with me is broken, Chris's with his Dad is broken. This tells me that something was fundamentally wrong with our family structure. It wasn't because Mom wasn't perfect, it was because our family wasn't perfect. It wasn't because Mom wasn't fully emotionally available, it was because a true leader wasn't available. I'm learning the amazing impact the role a father has in the home. When the father figure takes a passive role and doesn't lead the family, addressing what current issues are, moving towards peace, joy and love, it does have a greater chance of dying as a unit. The pressure is then on the mother who wasn't designed to be employed in this role. The children see the brokeness coming from the one who's role is to nurture but seems to be allowing this dysfunction. But the reality is, the father is the leader of the family. Taking a passive role, then deciding that it's not your responsibilty to lead the family, is irresponsible and irreparably harms each person in the family. Without significant intervention, it's doomed to failure. Our family did not have that significant intervention. We failed as a family.

That said, it doesn't have to remain so. What God has done in beginning the healing process, He will finish. Many aspects of our lives have been healed, but there are obvious areas that are more broken than before.

For this particular birthday weekend, as always, I wish the best for my two, Sara and Chris. I wish and pray for them blessings so full they are overwhelmed by them and are unable to even measure them. I wish and pray for them happiness and love that will last the rest of their lifetime. I wish and pray for God's favor to be on them and they would have opportunities to fulfill their dreams and passions. I wish and pray for them miracles in their life and that God would seem very real, close and personal. I wish and pray they would be continuously strong enough to keep taking a second, third or fourth look at what is not functioning at 100% in their life and be willing to resolve the difference. I wish and pray for their safety and comfort. I wish and pray they would reconnect with those feelings they knew when they were younger, when they felt loved, they felt special, they felt close to those nurturers in their life. No one can replace those individuals, ever. Even the scriptures talk of "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers." I'm certain God meant mothers, too. I wish and pray that wherever forgiveness is due they will take the steps to get that done. God is in the business of restoration, and it feels right for us to walk in His example.

While birthdays are to be happy, joy-filled times, I wish for Sara and Chris nothing but the most enjoyable 24 hours, celebrating their arrival into this world. If my role was only to bring them here, then so be it. I am blessed to be their Mom. My heart would be filled if they allowed my role to expand into the love, joy, happiness and successes of their life. The human heart wasn't built to withstand exclusion and I pray this is the year when all that changes.

Where the Heart Is


 Searles Castle, Windham, NH






I know it's been said that home is where your heart is or a man's home is his castle....but I can tell you, it's one thing to be content where you are, it's another to actually feel like it's home. Looking at houses this weekend has shown me that when making a choice about what to call home, many details have to align in order to make that happen.

Immediately upon walking into a home for a tour, the first instinct is to quickly take assessment on how it feels to walk through the door. Not only do you look at what's there, but you look for what's not there. What's right in front of you, how appealing is it, what does it smell like, is it too hot, too cold, is the decor anywhere near your own personal taste, if not, is the space appealing, is the kitchen big enough for a crowd to gather, are there enough bathrooms, how's the lighting, what do the floors feel like, hardwood nicely finished, padded carpeting, are the fixtures up to date, is there a nice traffic flow, any hidden spaces, how big are the closets, is there a room perfect for an office space, are there connections for upgraded technology, i.e. cable, internet, is there a man cave, how clean is the garage, does the basement smell funky, is it wet, is it dry, is there an attic, how's the landscaping, does it have a pool. And the list goes on and on.

We certainly don't need all these things before we can call it home, upgrades and improvements or touch ups on the decor can be done at anytime. But the more that are already in place, the sooner we can begin to enjoy the space and really work on getting settled. We saw a home that was built in 1903. Beautifully remodeled inside but the outside needed a complete landscape makeover. We thought, it's doable. We saw a home that was currently occupied by someone who works for Homeland Security. They were being transferred, and leaving behind a beautiful home, complete with in-ground pool and well manicured 2 acre yard. He even planted a small garden and fruit trees. We also saw a home that was really nice with a distinguishing feature of a bar in the recreation room that was made from the front of a fire engine. Amazing theme in the room, but not for us. Fortunately, the bar was not staying in the home.

We also saw several other homes, one that created a lot of interest. Beautifully built, interesting architecture, plenty of space and natural light from over-sized windows, but not one stroke of paint and not one bit of landscaping. So, rather than look at this as a negative, we actually felt like this would be a great option. We can truly put our own touches on everything inside and out and know it will be beautiful when we're done. The project was very enticing! So, we'll see. We're praying God will have favor on us and give us this gift.

A home is a home is a home is a home. We can make it a home, no matter where we land. And we know for sure that we're not going to purchase a place unless it feels like home.  It's exciting to know that God has a place for us and is directing us there at this very moment. We are planning on space to entertain, space to accommodate visitors, space for ministry, space to retire, space to work outside in the yard, space to create an amazing place to relax and enjoy.

It's out there...we just have to keep looking in the direction that God sends us....and look for the pennies and His fingerprints. We'll know it when we see it. Yeah! I can't wait!!

The Box(es)

Good days and bad days, we've all had them. And they look different to each of us.

Wyatt, photo by Sara.








For me, a good day is when I wake up and remember that I have a grandson Wyatt, who is growing so much and is so adorable. I love combing through the pictures I have on the computer, each one makes me smile and each one makes me wonder what he was doing the minute before and the minute after it was taken. For me, a bad day is when I wake up and remember that I have a grandson Wyatt, who is growing so much and is so adorable. All I can do is comb through pictures on the computer, each one makes me smile one second and cry the next. I always wonder what he is doing just before and just after the picture was taken. I know he has a life, but I don't know it. I'm afraid he won't know me either. Apparently, knowing someone as precious as Wyatt, is a privilege only assigned to some. On my bad days, I just turn off the computer and walk away, thankful that I have pictures, but long to hold and play with him.

For me, a good day is being at the store or walking around the mall and seeing things that I would love to give to Wyatt. All the adorable clothes, shoes, toys, books, movies, Cd's and other baby/little boy paraphernalia that Toys R Us, Macy's or Kohl's has to offer that are just irresistible. I always thought that I would be a shoe-junkie and buy my grandchildren lots of shoes like I did my own children and believe me, I've walked away from about 50 pairs already and he's only 8-1/5 months old! For me, a bad day is being at the store or walking around the mall and seeing things that I would love to give to Wyatt. There's a moment when something catches my eye, that spark of adrenaline shoots through my veins, my hand reaches for it....maybe even picks it up...then it hits me, his mom doesn't want this for him.  In my heart of hearts, knowing that one of my spiritual gifts is giving, I really and truly want to share what I have and what I love with my grandson. But the difficulty comes when it's not acknowledge that it's been received, or that it's a right fit, or that it's even appreciated or wanted. Apparently, being able to give to someone like Wyatt, is a privilege only assigned to some. So, on my bad days, what I see at the store or the mall, reluctantly goes back on the shelf, with a tear, a sigh and my throat feeling all choked up. My heart takes a ding, and I keep walking.Usually, Michael puts an arm around me and says not to worry.

Not too long ago I shared these feelings with a close friend, one of those "inner-circle" friends who both knows you and loves you. In the course of our conversation, my friend said to me "why don't you just buy those things anyway? You know that he would love them someday. And if you don't send them or take them now put them in a box." This was like a lightening bolt! Of course, why didn't I think of that. Go broke buying things for Wyatt that he would never get. (note the cynicism!) But the reality is, she was right. I got to thinking about this...what if I did get a special box, label it "Wyatt's Box" and when I find things that have special value and meaning that I want to share with him, buy it, wrap it and put it in the box. It would be a step of faith that says one day I WILL see and know my grandson. I already have faith, but it's the taking of the step to do something that will move me in the right direction, both emotionally and physically. I have faith that Wyatt and I will know each other, being prepared for those moments when we are together will be priceless when they do happen. Can you imagine the look on his face when he opens the box for the first time and realizes that what is inside is just for him?


My to-do list this weekend includes finding a box, and not just any box. It has to be a Wyatt Box. And while I'm at it...I'm getting a Lily Box, too. There's not the tension, drama or sense of rejection from that side, so I know it will be warmly and lovingly accepted. Both Michael and I love to give. That's just the bottom line. So, give we shall do. At least, we'll do the shopping now, and the actual giving when the time is right. Just preparing for those moments gives us pleasure and joy. In this case, the anticipation is as great as the event. We will wait until we are afforded the privilege of giving, though it won't be easy.

No more bad days because of others peoples choices. They can choose to be distant, choose to reject, choose to close off part of their life. But if every part of our life isn't 100%, we need to recognize where, find out why and get to work making it happen, life is to freaking short. My life isn't complete, isn't 100% without a relationship with Wyatt or his mom. I recognize that. The figuring out why will have to come at a later date, but for now, I'm doing what I love to do and it will be a blessing to someone. I just pray it's Wy. :)


Wyatt, photo by Sara.


Six Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Six





The number 6,326 just happens to be:













The number of miles we put on the car over the past month on our trip.
The number of miles we shared driving, about 2 hours on, 2 hours off. Worked great, never got too tired.
The number of miles we watched landscape of America go by, state after state. Each unique, each beautiful.
The number of miles we drove in anticipation of a dozen different destinations - each for a special purpose.
The number of miles we spent in the car with all of our stuff. Too much stuff. Next time, not so much.
The number of miles we shared the inside space of our car with our dog Maxx. He was really good.
The number of miles we were together talking, dreaming, planning, thinking, reminiscing, sharing memories of childhood, looking for our next opportunity, hoping for fingerprints.
The number of miles routed on the GPS. What did we do without them.
The number of miles sitting. Seemed like waaay too many after a while.
The number of miles hyped up on caffeine. Either coffee, pepsi or chai tea.
The number of miles we felt God protecting us, guiding us, leading us, watching us.
The number of miles wondering the outcome of our adventure.
The number of miles enjoying the freedom of the road, realizing it can take you anywhere.
The number of miles realizing the true value of being settled and established in a place of our own. Knowing we are heading for just that place is exciting.
The number of miles we felt our love growing stronger between us. Amazing love.
The number of miles that came between us - zero. It was a wonder-filled, never to be forgotten experience.
Here's to a million more....

One More Day...Part 1









I hope that someday you can pick up the book by Mitch Albom called One More Day. The meaning is something I think about all the time. A day doesn't go by where I don't think about the "what if?"  What if I had only one more day with my husband, my daughter or son, or extended family...what would I do? Books, messages, song lyrics, and movies challenge us to answer the question. We can't ask a "what if" question and not at least be prepared to give what would hopefully be just a hypothetical answer.

I often think of the "what if" something happened to me and I couldn't have that one more day with those I love. My heart breaks and grieves to consider the possibility of it happening. Just like my friend, Angie's car accident - totally not what she had planned that day, but it changed so many things in a moment. Anything...and I mean anything can happen in a split-second. In that split-second life can go from a well thought-out plan to a chaos induced whirlwind that seems out of control. I think about "what if" that happened to me and I was laying in a coma, unable to tell them I loved them, or unable to see them or hug them one more time. My heart breaks to consider the possibility of it happening and me having allowed that outcome. At the same time, I dismiss the notion, simply because I do not want to invite that into my life. But by doing so, it leaves me unprepared.

As I think about the unpreparedness of that situation, or any other similar to it, I am compelled to believe that there is no time like right now to have that conversation with myself...even if it is only one sided for now. I would want to share it however, with a few loved ones, even if they never respond to it. It's worth it for me to be certain they know what I would choose to do if I had one more day with each of them, which ultimately tells them how much value I place on our relationship right now. To have this conversation with myself, I'm first going to write as if I'm speaking to specific individuals, then I'll post it to share. Hopefully it will reaffirm our relationship, or inspire them to reconnect, or to begin a better one. 

If you have yet to consider the question, read the book for a little motivation, then take some time to define the preciousness of life in your own way, see things a little clearer and a little closer, make amends where necessary, step out and do what you know needs to be done, or say what you need to say. Life is precious and each moment that passes....is past. There's no retrieving it. During the day, my thoughts are with my children a thousand times. What are they doing right that second, how are they feeling, are they happy, is work going well, is the baby doing good or is he spitting up all over his mommie and a million other thoughts. Many times I pick up the phone, send a text or call. They don't answer in most cases, but they recognize that Mom is trying to contact them - hopefully they understand it's because I'm thinking about them...not because I'm trying to annoy them. I've been accused of calling too much or texting too much, but their perspective is far from reality. That's ok, it's their perspective.

Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Nothing happens that isn't supposed to happen. God designed it that way, "whatever was, is, whatever will be, is, that's how it always is with God." Within that time for everything, there is time for us to make choices about those in our circle of influence, whether we love them, whether we accept them, whether we care for them, whether we extend our hand to help them, whether we forgive them. Those are our choices. What we don't choose, is the time remaining with each one of them. We don't know if it's one more day or thousands more days. Certainly, our heart hopes for the latter. It's the not knowing that should help us choose what we can do. Not what we can't do....but what we CAN do. And there is always at least one more step that is possible.

Life is too short to live broken hearted, live in broken relationships, live in uncertainty of unforgiveness, or live empty. Jesus' words were that He came so that we can have life more abundantly. So the question is....with one more day or a thousand days...what will abundant life look like on this side of heaven?  And what will we do for one more day?


Ecclesiastes 3. The Message. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+3+&version=MSG&src=embed.

Love - Life Adhesion Molecules





Painting by: Melody Hogan, 2009












In the Beginning....God....made everything. You know the story. Genesis, the creation, Adam and Eve. God set in motion the greatest multiplication problem ever. All things were created to be fruitful and multiply. Life began and was commanded to flourish and multiply. If you've seen Lou Giglio's talk on Laminin, you might remember that at the center of a cell in the human body is a protein molecule called Laminin, which is a cell adhesion molecule, it holds the cell together and tells the cell what it's supposed to do. It's fascinating to see the scientific diagram of Laminin, it's actually in the shape of a cross! Amazing to think that the God of the universe created this cell adhesion molecule in the shape of an object that would become so significant many years on the other side of creation. It was no accident that the most important cell in the human body, the one that holds all things together, is in the shape of a cross which so passionately represents Jesus who died on it. As Lou says in his message*, quoting from Colossians 1:17 "it's in Jesus that all things hold together."  

So, if it's true that Jesus came to Earth to show us who God is...and if God is love...then Jesus came to earth to show us love. What love is, how to give it, and with whom we should share it. He basically boiled it down to two bullet points:  1) love God and 2) love others. Simple right? The idea is not to have love and keep it, not to feel loved and hold on to it so tightly that it becomes unrecognizable. That would be completely selfish. Instead, love was meant to be received, nurtured, cultivated, protected, divided and shared. If the cell adhesion molecule is in the form of a cross, and it is a part of cells in the human body, and if what Jesus did on the cross was the ultimate act of love, then perhaps we can conclude that love resides in every cell in our human body. The cells in our body are constantly reproducing and multiplying, that's what they do. At the core of our being, within our cells, lives the essence of who God is....love. And just like Laminin, love is what holds all things together. Just as the cells in our body reproduce and multiply, in the same proportion love within us can reproduce and multiply. It's what it was meant to do.

The only thing standing in the way of love multiplying...is us. Our ego, our pride, our ignorance, and even our unforgiveness. At times, we feel we can't love because of the brokenness inflicted upon us by others, the hurt that is heaped upon us for no obvious reason, or perhaps the pain that we still carry around from our not-so-perfect childhood.  We get to the point where feeling love requires a movement of both heaven and earth before it can be recognized, even looking for it can cause pain because it's no where to be found or we have become completely and utterly numb to it. Being in that place is hard, it's lonely, it's dark...and if it were up to us, we might easily decide that it's just not worth the pursuit any longer. If the cells in our body could not multiply, they would die, life would cease to exist. If we avoid allowing love to multiply within us, we die a little each day, to ourselves, to others, and ultimately, to love. But that's not how God created love to work.

As in the painting above, out of a broken heart can grow this unimaginable ability to share love in so many way, with so many people around us, as if there is an unending supply. In 1John 4:10, we are told that "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." We can't see the Laminin in our cells, but we know it's there because our bodies hold together. We can't see God, but we can know He is there because there is love in us, in our cells, in our hearts, at the core of who we are.  It's how He created it. We miss out on so much life because we don't allow love to grow, flourish and multiply. We miss the tender moments that later we wished we could do over. We miss the joy of certain times and places, looking back in anger that we allowed it to be stolen. We miss the closeness of those we so desperately want to hold, who instead push us away or avoid us because of the pain we've caused.

Rather than steep in the brokenness of our heart...live in the life that is emerging and in the love that is waiting to be birthed. Little tiny hearts, full of love, are waiting to blossom, grow, and multiply into many overabundant hearts where love is spilling out uncontrollably. Many are waiting, unknowingly, for that love to appear. Many are waiting to be embraced by it and held together to each other with the warmth, comfort and peace that love produces. Many are hoping to be saved from dying a slow death, living without love. And God....He is waiting to replenish our heart as we empty it on others. And what might be "life adhesion** molecules"....that would be love.

* Giglio message:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0-NPPIeeRk&feature=related
**Adhesion: the tendency of certain dissimilar molecules to cling together due to attractive forces.

Melody Hogan, The Creative Concierge http://www.melodyhogan.com/

Fingerprints





Painting by: Melody Hogan, 2009













Ok, this is not CSI or 24 or Bones. All of which would believe fingerprints to be the key to unlocking the case, to knowing for sure who has been there or could this be evidence enough to convict. These days, with all the forensic evidence techniques that are in use, it's only one key piece that can help solve a mystery. Whether a crime has been committed or not, fingerprints are used in a variety of ways.

When I was working towards becoming a teacher in Pinellas County Florida schools, it was imperative that a fingerprint/background check be done prior to my being allowed to work in the schools. It was a bit intimidating, especially when I had to have my fingerprints done a few times...because they couldn't get a very good print. These days there is a new electronic imaging technique that is used instead of an ink blotter. They said there are many points on the print that have to be clear in order for the print to be useable or valid. Over and over they would scan my fingers and about the 5th or 6th time it might work. It's still a mystery, but the scanner is apparently very accurate. The details really matter.

I've seen little signs at the banks now, you can opt for fingerprint identification on your bank account. This isn't something I'm ready to jump into, but the option is there. Next thing you know, we'll have to be using them at ATM's, at the grocery store, at the Walmart, at the gas station. I'm hoping that's a ways off, but if it cuts theft and illegal activity where our finances are concerned, then bring it on.

Closer to home, I remember a moment in time when Michael and I were at a crossroad in our relationship, the discussion was intense and emotions were tender. We were having this discussion at the beach, which we did many times because it was so therapeutic. At one point Michael got up, threw something which had previously been of value into the gulf. I was shocked by this and questioned him on what would prompt him to do such a thing. It was just an object, perhaps the meaning had gone out of it, but I could see no real reason for just throwing it away. So, I got up, took off my shoes and with my clothes still on, dove into the gulf, into the waves to see if I could retrieve it. He was calling for me to come back, that it was useless, we would never find it, it wasn't worth getting drenched over, just let it go. But I told him that it just didn't seem right to throw something like this away. Having it wasn't going to change things now or in the future. It took a few moments, but I think he started to believe it. So, the next thing I see is Michael removing his shoes and shirt, running towards the water. Then Michael prayed, asking God to help us find it, that he was sorry for throwing it away. He petitioned God to somehow redeem this mistake and allow us to retrieve the item from the gulf's sandy floor.

After several times of diving in chest deep water, glancing along the bottom and raking through the sand with my fingers we thought it wasn't going to happen. I tried one last time, in a different direction, closed my eyes, went down under the water, placed my hand flat on the sand to feel around, and I felt this object touching my palm. I wrapped my fingers around it, allowed the sand to filter through the water as I pulled it to the surface. I turned to him and held out my hand. He could NOT believe that I had found it. We both knew in that moment, that God had his hand of favor on us and gave us a huge measure of fingerprints to validate our previous discussion. It was a huge miracle that this small object was found on the cloudy, sandy floor, under the water and the waves. It was a huge blessing that God answered that prayer for such a small thing, allowing us to see how big He truly is. We had our miracle, we had our fingerprints. We knew God was present. He showed us in those moments that the past doesn't have to be thrown away, that He, being God, can redeem the past and even restore many times over the hurts that the past can hold. The fingerprint was that God was in the process of redeeming our past, we had to trust that and be open to the possibility that it could be done.

Fingerprints have shown us the way along a very bumpy road. On occasion we read them incorrectly, but for the most part we get it right. God has even sometimes left us a handprint or a footprint, which has even greater validation when we are confronted with an issue. The joy wrapped around finding those fingerprints is amazing, we are sometimes literally speechless. It's so easy to go from hope-less to hope-filled in the blink of an eye, all because of a fingerprint. In our case, Gods fingerprints left for us to find tell us a few things: 1) we're in the right place, 2) we're going in the right direction, 3) we're making the right decision or 4) we are being blessed simply because He wants to bless us. And as fingerprints are, each one is unique to the moment. Affirmations are very powerful and God seems to know when and where to interject them into our path.

The painting above is the second of three that I acquired from Melody Hogan. This heart with fingerprints jumped out at me because it is so significant. Michael and I, from day one, have asked God for fingerprints on our relationship. And God has never failed to show them. This illustration of fingerprints on a heart shows me that of all the fingerprints to find, the ones affirming love are the most precious. That's why there are so many. God doesn't just give us one and stop. If we allow Him, he will always leave us fingerprints of affirmation on all our actions and our direction in life. Right now, I'm waiting for the next big fingerprint....because it's coming. The waiting is hard. Perhaps it's better said this way - 'not knowing what to do while we're waiting' is hard, that would be more accurate. Regardless, I guess the only thing to do is keep dusting for fingerprints. They will be there when we need them, this we know for sure.

(to see more of Melody's artistic gift...click here:  http://www.facebook.com/search/?ref=ffs&q=melody%20hogan&o=2048&init=ffs#!/photo.php?pid=10185718&id=758020001&subject=133754906830)