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I love to travel. To me travel is an opportunity to: Meet people. Experience new places, cultures, foods, climates and experiences. Aside from the hassle of it.. I truly- adore it.

But every time I travel, I run into this weird thing. I get a rental car, and because I’m licensed to drive, they just: give me the keys and I drive off. (Except this one time when I only brought a debit card and they oils to give me my rental.. that was a bad travel day. Thank you Jesus for Uber.)

Anyway. They give me keys because Mathews state I’m traveling in accepts my license as evidence that I know what I’m doing.

Except : there are differences. The signs are different here. Lights have different usages. People: in Colorado you often drive across traffic to get on a freeway. We just plain don’t do that (hardly ever) in Michigan. There are toll roads. We don’t have those. Either. So, while I’m technically licensed to drive, sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing. I screw up. Last night I stopped in a panic because my understanding of how traffic lights work- was wrong. HERE. Where I am now.

It would make a lot more sense if part of your rental was a 10 minutes: here are the rules here, boot camp. Seriously. The world should implement this.

This isn’t my first rodeo here, (go me for an appropriate western dialect analogy!) so every trip I get better. I’m learning the rules and becoming more comfortable each trip. I’m figuring it out as I go.

Sometimes, that’s what we do.

Driving while traveling isn’t the only time I experience this. It happens in so many areas of my life. As a mom, I’ll be honest, I’m driving in new territory. I may be theoretically licensed.. even experienced, but in this place? I’m struggling to read the signs, and keep us all safe. Hmmm mostly from myself. How do you parent adult children? Is that even the right question to ask? How do I single parent a teen boy?

In my faith, I’m driving a new road too. Don’t panic. My faith hasn’t changed. But the driving terrain? Our Christian microculture? Different. I’m single. I’m a christian. I love people. All of them. The world is divided and I’m passionately called to be a minister of reconciliation. One to another and each one to god. I’m not a pastor. I am a leader. And: I’m me.

In my life, I’m preparing to enter the workplace formally for the first time in decades. Newsflash: new place. New rules.

It’s complicated. I’m trying to learn to read the signs, and figure out the traffic lights.

Here. Where I am now.to there,where ever God is taking me.

Aren’t we all?

Here’s the thing. I could just get a driver. Uber works. I could: quit. Stay home. Where it’s safe.i know the rules.

This week when I got to Denver, there was a snow storm. I upgraded my rental to a 4×4. Because: it’s hard enough not to get killed here due to driver error on a good day.

It was what I needed.

One of the things I love about Jesus is this: yup. He takes us off road once in a while. He doesn’t always tell us all the things we’d like to know in order to drive it well. He’s patient as we figure it out. And he upgrades us to a 4×4 of love. And grace. He gives us what we need when we need it. Even when the road is bumpy, and snow covered. All those new unknown places I’m driving in my life? He knows. He’s given me enough to drive here. I’m licensed. I knew w just barely enough. To start the adventure. To drive and figure out the nuance of these new rules as I go.

I’ll be honest, it would feel a lot more comfortable if he’d do this a different way. Like: tell me all the things. Warnings. Meanings. Actually? A gps with turn by turn instruction would be nice.

But I’m called to something more than safety and comfort.

I’m called to followJesus. Where ever he leads.

And not having all those little details? The nuance? It makes me ask for help when I’m driving.

Here in Denver, and in my life. I lean into the wisdom of people who know. I lean into Jesus, I pray, I seek, I ask, I even sometimes listen. Maybe, that’s exactly why it works like this. To keep us connected. To him, and each other.

Maybe you’ve arrived at a place where your feeling under equipped. Like things are foreign, the rules have changed. Because you’re in a new place.

I get it. Me too.

Lean in.

Dear Jesus, I need you more now than ever. Lead guide direct, equip me for this off road adventure that is my life. And lord? Don’t let me go off the rails- I trust you with all of this, amen

I know. It’s on the “list.” The list of things that must be done between laundry loads, diaper changers and toddler tantrums. I know you picked just the right outfits. I know you are armed with enough toys, snacks and wipes to save a village of wolf raised children from starvation, death by boredom and smothering in the mysterious substance all young children produce with their fingers.(  At my house we call it: mystery goo. The gunk left behind on every surface by children under 10.  I believe it’s produced in glands that disappear right around puberty when the other glands kick into overdrive.) I know you’re watching the clock and praying Santa doesn’t need another “break” while you stand in the line of mom-torture.

I know your hands are sweaty because the signs say “no photography” but your pictures are always better than the ones the 14 year old behind Santa cam takes, and your camera is both charged and has a memory card in it. I probably know this because I’ve been sipping a late’ with my feet up for an hour, watching you check the battery and sd card between swiping mystery goo, the inevitable Christmas snot fest and promising everything from mcdonalds to ponies based on your escalating desperation for a “good” picture with Santa. I know you’re conflicted about taking the pics, I also know how much the santa cam charges. It’s insane. I’ve been there. 3 children’s worth. 

I also know late’ sippers who watch the santa line are 1 of 3 things: creepy, judgey or weepy. I fit the latter category. I promise. And I’ve got your back against the others. You don’t know this, but I’m cheering you on and praying that between boogers and poops and bribes you find a moment or two to savor all that isn’t torture about this time. 

The look of wonder at an indoor scene that looks like a broadway production. (Sheesh, I grew up with just: santa on a fake throne. There were no animated creatures or movie themes to help distract us. Which is probably why our parents all drank and smoked.) I hope you see the joy in your child’s eyes every time they move a step closer to santa. I hope you see the moms and dads around you. They’re All with you in this.  They’re also just as stressed and rushed as you are. Yup. Even that perfect chick who’s outfit matches, who’s hair is styled, and who’s make up is perfect with the kid reading a book in his britax stroller. You’re in this together. Run out of wipes or goldfish crackers? They’re there for you. 

I also hope you know this: eventually, this line will end. You’ll get your overpriced but precious pictures. You will survive and the kids will pass out in their car seats due to a goldfish coma on the way home. That little bit of spit up or pee left behind on santa? No worries, there’s a tide pen hidden in his beard, and the red velvet is actually teflon. Santa knows more than just who’s been bad or good. He’s got Mrs claus packing his bag for goodness sake! 

Finally, I hope you know that not only will the line end, but someday, much sooner than you think and you won’t know until it’s past- your days in the santa line will end too. Maybe you’ll get a year of pseudo protest as a warning. “Mom, I don’t want to wait for santa! The line is too long. I’ll email him.” And then, it’s over. Pictures with Santa become sweet memories. (It’s a little like labor and child birth, somehow we forget the pain.) 

Eventually, they go to the mall on their own. To shop for you. (Or cvs for last minute gift cards… whatever. Older kids are like that.) then, you’ll join me, the judgers who want to feel better about themselves by judging you’re parenting in the santa line up. (Which, if you ask me is a little like judging someone’s parenting in a war zone. Some circumstances are simply about survival. Duh.) and the creepy ones. You’ll stand guard against creeps with a late in hand and tears in your eyes. Not because you didn’t know this season of life would pass so fast. 

It does.

It will.

So dear mom in the santa line- if you’re desperately seeking refuge in the distraction of the internets, you’re safe here. I know it’s stressful. I know it’s torture. And I know it’s precious. I’m with you. All of us moms who’ve been there are. And we just want you to savor it like that one hot cup of coffee you last had 2 years ago. It was probably between poopy diaper changes and tantrums and laundry loads as well. Which is when the very sweetest parts of mom life always happen.

You are loved. You got this. Carry on. Ps: while the kids sleep in the car on the way home? Hit the drive through for a hot coffee and drive around looking at lights. You’ve earned it. 

Ps: always buy the cheapest photo package and ask to take your own pics. Puhleeze. Santa isn’t a jerk. Just, you know, don’t bring your own makeup crew and backdrop. There are other moms behind you trying to survive the line. Merry Christmas- from one mom to another- ;) 

Oh- and to the mom who doesn’t do santa? We’re with you too. Different doesn’t have to separate us;) happy whatever you celebrate, too!

It’s not the flight I’m nervous about. It’s not even (for once) me, that I’m nervous about. (I tend to be afraid I’ll screw up. Say something dumb. Forget something…whatever, At this point I’ve messed up enough times to know: I’ll survive and people can be pretty gracious when you just own your stuff.)

This time it’s not me stuff that’s got my drawers in a bunch.

It’s: other stuff.

Cancer stuff.(I hate cancer.)
Side effect stuff. (I’m reserving the right to hate chemo. If it doesn’t work. If it works…. I just hate the side effects.)
Kid stuff. (Kids are complicated. Mothering is hard. Always.
Dog stuff. (We’re really good at turning dogs into wild animals that attack Amazon boxes. )
House stuff. (I’m a mom. There’s always house stuff. This week it’s the norm + prep for a new roof. That should be fun. See also: Wild dogs)
Stuff.

Pretty much, it all comes down to stuff I can’t control. The cancer is still there even if I’m in the same room with my husband. So are the side effects. I can’t stop them. Kid stuff happens whether I’m home or not. The dogs will make a mess and eat things they shouldn’t. They’d do the same, if I were home.

The house is as clean as I could clean it without making myself insane or injured. Laundry is in ikea bags on my bed. Clean and folded… There are pork chops in the freezer and veggies and quinoa for dinner. I packed lunches and put out school clothes for my middle schooler. (I also told him to have a good trip, 3 times this morning. Hint: he’s not going anywhere. I am. His response: “Are you trying to send me off to the army? I thought I was going to school?” Nope. Not the army mr middle school. Just school and a mom on overload.

I did what I could to make things easy. But I can’t control what happens once the wheels on this plane leave the ground. Oops they just did. I’m no longer in control.

The truth is: I couldn’t control those things prior to take off, either.

Funny how much control we think we have, until we realize we don’t.

So, here I am, on a cramped, delayed flight to Louisville. (Can’t control that either… There’s a theme here somewhere.)

I left my husband -who’s hair started falling out yesterday due to chemo, 3 psychotic dogs, a slightly anxious middle schooler who called home for diarrhea meds before I even boarded my flight with 2 college boys to hold down the fort. I am THAT: woman, wife, mom.

There are emergency #’s and contingency plans. But, still. It’s hard.

Why am I doing it?

Because God has uniquely designed me to serve him, by loving moms. One of the ways I get to do that is through MOPS International. This week is #MomCon. MomCon is when we gather together as Moms and leaders to remember why we do what we do, and to worship and be together.

After a lot of praying and watching ( my husband… To make sure he’s really ok.) and asking…. My husband and I decided that I should go.

Even if it’s hard.

Being brave- isn’t about things being easy, being brave isn’t about not being afraid. Being brave is feeling the fear and trusting God is bigger- then doing the thing you need to do.

So…. This is me. Nervously, bravely on a plane. Heading to MomCon. To go and do what I’m called to. Because I believe God called me knowing everything that would happen leading up to this moment.

God isn’t surprised by cancer. Or “stuff” issues. God carries us through them.

As he’s carrying me, now.

The MOPS theme this year is “be you, bravely”

funny how God’s already giving me opportunities to grow more brave…. Isn’t it? It’s almost as if he knew or something…..

Praying for you, as I’m flying over the clouds. Are you nervously bravely doing something today? Tell me what it is in the comment section… I can’t wait to hear!

And if you’re heading to #MomCon I’ll see you soon! I’ll. slightly nervous but trusting brunette with a prostate cancer awareness blue streak in my hair… Say hi! I have chocolate:)

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IMG_0074.JPG 6 days. From around 6 a.m. – until….well, when ever the heck I finally stopped. I nested. Everything in my heart said: “this will be our escape. Our place of peace. Where we’ll enjoy the grace that is living away from all the mess and stress that is life. ”

I made it beautiful. It was sold furnished- all I had to do was a surface makeover to make it ours. It’s As cute a tiny respite as I’ve ever dreamed of having. A dream come true. Our own little cottage on a lake.

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I even have a desk. A real writing spot.

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And this: I can’t even believe it…..

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Just about the time I stopped furiously working- the wall of safety I thought I was building was once again hit by the wrecking ball of cancer. I did not want cancer to show its face here. Not here.

But, it did. Another bad report. More treatments ahead. More fear. More struggle. Lots of tears. Lots of prayers.

Cancer doesn’t respect boundaries. Cancer doesn’t take a vacation. It follows you and surrounds you wherever you are. Even here. In my favorite places ever.

As I was wallowing in the mess of emotion that is tied up in cancer I remembered a picture a dear friend sent me, this one:

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This is how I feel right now. In our nest of peace trusting. But also- surrounded by thorns and cacti needles.

I’m choosing to trust the one who’s holding our little nest- even here. In a place I’d never choose to nest. Cancer. Stress. Fear. Pain. Living in this nest isn’t as safe or comfortable as other places we’ve nested. The thorns reach out to tear at us every time we move. They hurt. We heal.

We do the next thing. We take the next step. Over and over.

If you’re feeling the same, I pray you find rest and nourishment for your soul. The nest may be surrounded by thorns- but it’s still being held by one who loves you. Even there.

Here’s my prayer today:blessed be your name

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