Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2015

The Red Cup of Starbucks and Why as a Christian I'm Okay With It

The American Christian world, it seems, is losing its marbles over the redesigned Starbucks cups. Just in time for the holiday season, the company has intentionally decided to eliminated the words Merry Christmas from its new design.

There are articles splashed across the interwebs of how this redesign is emblematic of the Christian culture cleansing of the west.

There's been talk of boycotts.

Of protests.

Of a revolt!

You know what I think about this red cup redesign? Good.

Now, before you draft that hate letter to me, let me publicly declare that I am a Christian and I believe God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. I also believe that maybe this red cup shake-up is getting under our skin as Christians because there's a truth there we don't really want to admit to ourselves.

Because maybe we need the reminder to say it intentionally out loud more often, instead of relying on some printed words on the side of a cup to be our mouthpiece.

Because maybe rus…

An Open Letter to the Girls who Bully Alexis

Thank you! No, really, I mean that. Thank you. Because if it weren’t for you – if it weren’t for the pain you intentionally inflicted and your desire to break one particular human spirit, the rest of us in this world might never have met such an incredible young lady.


I was so angry when I saw the passionate post her Mama wrote. Reading about your behavior sent me spiraling back to the days when I watched my own daughter get bullied. It made me furious to think of another child so close to my home going through the same thing. Except I wasn’t as courageous as this Mama; I just sat quietly. I encouraged my daughter to let it go and watched her get more and more sullen and depressed because those girls never let up. I made a mistake back then. Mamas need to stand up. Because when one Mama stands up, other Mamas stand up with her. 
I pray that you realize it’s time to let up.
Then I started reading more about Alexis. Learning who she is --- and my anger quickly gave way to something else: …

The Forgotten First Chapter

A lifetime ago I took a creative writing class at the private Roman Catholic university I was attending because it made total sense at the time that as a girl who had a long, detailed list of debate questions with the Catholic religion, I ought to pay an exorbitant amount of money in tuition getting schooled by a bunch of nuns. Except, none of my classes were actually taught by nuns. Apparently creative writing did not attract the habits. I kind of felt cheated because it really was a lot of money and you'd think I could have experienced at least one semester of a ruler rapt against my knuckles just to say I survived.

Anyway. My actual point is to tell you I just came across one of my old writings from one of my classes. Our assignment was simple: Write a first chapter of a fiction novel. Since it was a gazillion years ago I have the original on a floppy disk somewhere -- but I wanted to share it with you so I retyped it. Except my chair at my desk is too short so now my shoulders…

In This Moment

There was a gaggle of boys at the pool yesterday. Ten years old, maybe eleven. Jumping all over each other, laughing, dunking heads beneath water.

I found myself watching from my chair, laughing when they laughed even though I had no idea what was so funny.

I turned toward my own son struggling his way down the length of the pool, his instructor at his side, voicing words of encouragement every few strokes. He hates the front crawl. His strongest is the elementary backstroke. He could float on his back for days. I could tell from where I sat that my boy did not want to be doing that front crawl.

The boys pulled themselves out of the water. Skin and bones dripping as they pushed and pulled each other toward the locker room.

"I wonder what Brody will be like if he gets to be that age," I thought.

I snapped aware: what do you mean if he gets to be that age? I chastised myself. What kind of mother thinks like that?

But there's a truth in that. A hard, scary truth that mother…

The Way this was Supposed to Be

This school year was supposed to be the one that officially began Brody's elementary education while ending Avery's. They were supposed to be at school all day, together. Sibling bookends - one in Kindergarten and the other in 8th grade.

This was the year I was supposed to be able to join the car pool lane. No more parking and walking my child into the preschool rooms. This year I was supposed to pull up and wish my kids a good day and watch while the older sister made sure the younger brother stood in his class line.

This was the year my kids would finally eat in the same cafeteria during the same lunch hour. Their daily schedule lining up just so.

This year, Avery was supposed to fill me in on what her brother acted like on the playground and in the hallways. She was supposed to be my spy.

This year Avery was supposed to be at the top of the student food chain. The treasured final year, filled with class fundraisers and a class trip where the students slept in hotel rooms in…

On Living Life to the Fullest

Today is my 42nd birthday.

Oh, to be 27 again!

But only in body. Because in mind I was a complete mess. You don't realize it at the time. At 27 you think you've actually got it all together. It isn't until perspective aging provides that you realize you were about as stable as a kaleidoscope.

Sure, 27 was full of fun times. Less responsibilities, more recklessness. A whole lot of gotta live life to the fullest!

But there's something about maturing. Something about tackling another decade - or almost two - something about surviving friendship shifts and parent-teacher conferences and grief and incredible joy that allows you to finally realize that life isn't as simple as just whooping it up to live life to the fullest.

It's more about living life fully with others.

It's more about learning life fully through others.

And it's all about loving life fully through all its tragic moments. 

Living life to the fullest used to mean drinking on the boat every day…

The Awkwardness of Idle Chit Chat

A couple weeks ago I was at church sitting by myself in the middle of the pew minding  my own business because I prefer to mind my own business. But mostly because when I'm out in public it's kind of way too overwhelming for me when there are lots of human beings that I do not know surrounding me who run the risk of attempting to communicate with me. I call these people 'strangers' because I feel strange when people I don't know try to talk to me.

I don't know why it's easier for me to stand in front of a thousand people baring my soul than it is to spend twenty six painful seconds commenting about the height of corn to someone I've never seen before, it just is. It's how I'm wired. (And for sake of context I live in Wisconsin. Corn is a very important topic to us here.)
Anyway, I'm sitting peacefully by myself - in the middle - away from all other human contact - when I become aware that a stranger has sat at the end of the pew. Immediately…

The Mango Tree Church

On my last visit to Haiti, I met a man who loved Jesus. He sat under the shade of a mango tree talking about many miracles and graces this God of the Bible bestowed upon His people. How this precious God still does so today.
Soon, people stopped to listen.
The people of the village were poor. They went without food for their bellies and shoes for their feet. They lived too many in a single dwelling with tired eyes and tired souls.


But they listened. 
The man continued to speak.
He heard God telling him to build a church. Build it here. In this place where God's people had nothing.
So he did.
This is that church:

Held together with twigs and thatch, holding together the hearts of God's people. It stands under the mango tree. A house of truth. A house of hope.
The pastor greets us. It has been a long time, he says, his thick calloused hands reaching out to us, but God has been good to bring us back. We hug tight his heart, his love, feeling every bone, his skin keeps his body t…

The Broken House

I'm leaving for Haiti Monday morning. I cannot begin to explain how excited my soul is to get there. I need Haiti. I crave the Haitian air, the sun that's brighter than any sun I've ever seen in Wisconsin and the jostling of traffic and bodies criss-crossing in Port au Prince as we try to leave the city. I need the cadence of the Creole language, the slow rhythm of feet on gravel in rural villages, straight spines and soulful eyes overflowing with a wisdom of experience that reminds me I am just a small drop in this incredibly huge world.

I had my bags packed by Friday afternoon. Everything ready except the clock on the wall.

So I spent the rest of yesterday and all of today passing the time. I Read for hours under the shade of an oak tree. Mowed the lawn. Went to church and sang extra loud. I did laundry, swept floors and vacuumed carpets. Then I did more laundry. I emptied garbage cans and washed counters. And I started to look, really look at the walls that surrounded m…

The Preparing of Hearts

I can't call Avery's death a tragedy. How she died, yes, absolutely. But that she died? I can't. I just can't.

Avery loved God in a way I never understood when she was alive. She lived for Him. And, while she certainly loved me like crazy, I can't help but think she saw me more as her foster mom. The earthly mama-heart loving her like my own while the ultimate goal was reuniting her with her real father: God in Heaven.

She lived her earthly life with the sole purpose - and soul purpose - to ensure one day she would go home to live with her Lord and Savior. And she did just that. How could I think it was tragic that she made it safely home into her Daddy's arms? 
But even knowing that.... man, it's hard, you know? To be, well, to be here when she's not.

I miss her every single second of every single day and unless you've gone through such heavy loss you won't understand how it is entirely possible to stand around a kitchen with friends joking and…

Speak Louder than the Photo

There it was. Posted for all the world to see. Or, rather, for all the friends of friends to see.

A series of innocuous photos. This family, bright eyed and smiling, arms wrapped around each other in one pose, cheerfully jumping off some concrete steps in another. There were pictures of just the grown siblings, just the grandchildren, the whole group with the grandparents, and with each separate family unit: mom, dad and children. 
Undeniable proof in each photo: Smiles. Camaraderie. Friendliness. Joy. Love. Acceptance
And my heart broke.
Because for me those photos symbolize the complete opposite of love and acceptance. They represent complete failure. They represent a whole lot of hurt. They represent a past I was unwelcome in and a future where it's best to pretend I don't exist.


Ten years ago I decided to take a dating sabbatical for 1 entire year. More than that, I intentionally swore off flirting, handing out my phone number and even taking inventory of eligible men in…

The Addict's Mama

My aunt tried to call her children to tell them Avery had died. I think about that sometimes. Those phone calls. How people found out. The numbers that were dialed first. The words that were spoken. The reaction.

I remember calling my cousin on the way to the hospital. To this day I feel so bad that I put that responsibility on her. Avery died. Please tell the others...  Can you imagine receiving such a phone call?

My aunt called her children. Except she couldn't get a hold of Little Luke. I used to call him Ducky when he was little. The most perfect child I had ever laid eyes on.

Luke was sweet. Gentle. Loving. He had the best giggle in the world. And I adored the way he said my name in his precious voice, unable to pronounce the "r"... Bwidget.




In the months before she died, Avery started insisting that we write Luke a letter to tell him we were praying for him. I never did that. I didn't know then what I know with every fiber of my being now -- that, whether or no…