“TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK: BOOM!”  

Butterfly-clock

The verdict is in. The cancer is still: somewhere.

Yup- instead of a field goal, yesterday’s appointment was a cancer grenade. (I’d say it was a cancer IED  but I doubt terrorists are involved. Even if there is a little element of terror. And Now I’m afraid I’m on some watch-list for even using the word IED. Grand)

I’ll be honest. I’m usually a “prepare for the worst, hope for the best ” kind of girl. I really thought that yesterdays appointment was going to have a happy outcome.

It didn’t. I was really caught off guard. (Why do we think we can be on guard and protect ourselves from this stuff- anyway? I’ll tell ya- it doesn’t always work.)

It wasn’t the worst news. (The worst would be: it’s too late he’s already dead.  In fact-the man you’re married to has become a bacon craving zombie. That would be the worst.)

So, like I said- it wasn’t the worst- but- it also isn’t good.

My husband’s battle with prostate cancer ain’t over. (I even tried singing before the appointment to assure the outcome. Apparently a fat-lady singing isn’t magic. Bummer. ) His PSA has crept up. Into a range that means we’re now being referred to an Oncologist.

The Dr. said we need to look at this as managing a chronic illness. This battle may never end. (Well eventually- we all DIE. Duh. But, we may have this as part of our journey for the rest of our lives. However long that is.)

That’s NOT, what I wanted to hear.

I wanted to hear: “YAY! it looks good- you beat the odds! “ I wanted to hear: “I just don’t understand- it looks like he’s never had cancer- it’s just: gone.”  (I keep asking trusting and believing that God could heal. He just: hasn’t. Not so far.) I wanted to hear: “Okay one year down- 4 more till we declare you “cancer free!”

So now what?

Well. I’m angry and scared and frustrated. I spent some time crying to and yelling at God. I took some time last night with friends. We took some time with our kids. We took some time together to talk about how we’re feeling.

Now- we take the next step. We wait for the oncology appointment and find out what’s next. Most likely it will be specialized hormone management. Which sucks- But not as much as many other cancer treatments. We’ve already done a couple rounds of that- so we know what to expect. It’s manageable. He can work.

All of which is good.

But this: sucks.

Over the course of this journey- I’ve had lots of people respond lots of ways…. my favorite? The one that’s helped the most, so far?

Carol Kuykendall during a series of emails said: that “Jesus Hates Cancer.”  I told Carol: that needs to be a book. (I still think it does.)

Those 3 words gave me permission to hate  cancer, too. I don’t have to be thankful for my husband’s cancer. (I tried to do that… it was just so WRONG.) I have LOADS to be thankful for IN this situation….. but for it? Not so much.

Those words communicated to me that while God is going to do good things in this- HE DOESN”T LIKE IT WHEN HIS CHILDREN HURT.

Those words gave me permission to feel. They helped me to stop trying to doctrinate myself out of feeling…..all the things I feel. it wasn’t helping….. it was exhausting me. It was making me feel like My husband’s LIfe was as precarious as my ability to BELIEVE enough and have faith enough to make him live. (Yeah- not going into the whole doctrinal thing rt now- but let’s just say: I was forgetting I’m not God. God, is God. He holds us. It’s not dependent on our strength- but His.)

Those words also remind me: He weeps when we weep. He knows this is hard. Scary. Sad. And real. He cares. He understands all that is involved in this struggle:

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:13-16

Funny. I may have a reminder of that verse tattooed on my back.

He is present. Even Here. I know and trust that. Even when I don’t like what I see or hear. Which if you haven’t figured it out yet: I don’t. I hate it.

And that’s Okay.

Jesus Hates Cancer, too.

“Dear Lord- I love you but I HATE cancer. Please God- continue to work in and through this whole mess. I ask you to heal- I ask you to be our strength and hope. Thank you for the mercy you show when we feel and grieve- and the grace you offer- by joining in our pain with love and understanding. We weep. But- I know you weep with us. We hope- because you are. Thank you Jesus- for hating cancer. Thank you for fighting through this journey WITH us. And with all who do. I love you Lord- Amen.”

Dear Reader- If you’re struggling- know you’re not alone. God hates the things that hurt us….. but promises to do good things in them and to be there with us. Even Here.

I watched as each woman gracefully walked to her place on the stage. Each one a picture of poise and beauty. Their Runway strut and pivot turns were  “America’s Top Model” perfect.

They were all:
• Beautiful
• Intelligent
• Resourceful
• Unique
• Dedicated
• Incredible

And, vying for the same crown. The competition was fierce. It was game on. I eyed the crown, for inspiration, before I went to take my place along side them. The glitter and prestige made me gag on my insecurity.  Nausea be darned: “I want that crown.” I thought. I strode across the stage.

The music slowed, then quieted. The announcer made her way across the stage to ask the “crowning” question of each contestant. I worked to listen to their answers and reconsider my own well-practiced one, while trying to simultaneously size the other contestants’ answers up.

Each one gave it her best. (This was a serious contest.)

Each answer was more difficult than the next.

I started to feel small. Smaller. Smallest. I don’t mean in dress size. I wondered if my answer would seem petty. I wondered if I should be on the stage with these women, at all. I wondered if I could sneak out, without being noticed.

I wondered which of them would win the crown. It wasn’t going to be me.

What was the question?

“What’s the hardest type of mom to be?”

Not exactly the type of question you were expecting in a pageant?

Well, I admit it. I lied. There was no pageant. I’ve never even been to a formal gowns, bathing suits and brutal stage lighting pageant. Please, being in one? That would be my nightmare.. Especially after 3 kids and more years than I care to count. Let’s just say, the bathing suit thing gives me hives- which might camouflage my stretch-marks, but won’t win me a crown.

I have, however, competed for the Mommy Martyrdom Crown. Several times. Whether it’s a question that’s actually been posed to a group- or one that’s implied, it’s one I’ve competed to answer.

Have you competed for the same crown? It’s a one-up-momship. A “my life is hard than your’s–so- you- should- not complain”  contest.

The thing is, no one wins.

After a winner is crowned, the rest of the contestants line up to congratulate her: “I don’t know how you do it.” “I could never do that” We offer them as blessings, but the words become walls. Miss congeniality ends up feeling “less than.” And the winner? She feels…… “more than.”

The Crowned Martyr-Mom has convinced herself (and others) how awful her life is, while at the same time convincing the others how petty their struggles are. She’s got skillz. We all do. Because we all know how to play the game.

We just don’t know how to win- because – everyone loses. We disconnect because we can’t be authentic with each other.  We’re too busy either trying to top each other or feeling guilty about feeling frustrated by “our little issues.”  In the end- intimacy is lost. Intimacy is way more valuable than a tinsel crown.

The Martyr -Mom  is miserable. So are the rest of us.

What if we stopped competing? What would it look like if we could learn to hear and understand the struggles of others without comparing our own? What if we set aside the Martyr-Mom crown for the crown of friendship?

What if we learned to respect each other’s challenges?

We are all:

  • Beautiful
  • Intelligent
  • Resourceful
  • Unique
  • Dedicated
  • Incredible

We’re also all:

  • Living with challenges
  • Imperfect
  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Grieved
  • Perplexed

At any moment in time- we could each win that crown. But, we could have so much more than that.

  • We could learn the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • We could grow in compassion
  • We could learn from the struggles of others- before they become ours. (Trust me, it happens.)
  • We could find out we’re not alone.
  • We could find help and hope in the stories of others.

How can we stop the pageant? Maybe, we just need to leave the stage. Together.

I quit. I quit comparing. I want to listen and love. I want to build intimacy not compete for martyrdom.

How ’bout you?

I will not be packing ALL of these.... At least I don't think I will be...

It’s not what shoes you wear- it’s how you walk….. Walk in love

Truth: I walk like a moose in heels. Or, maybe a like panda in platforms? Either way,  the years and physical mess that is my body, have snatched what little dance trained elegance, my gait once had. It’s gone like the Swallows of Capistrano-in October. That is- if the Duck Dynasty crew showed up with guns in hand. Let’s just say: My poise? Gone. And, it ain’t coming back.

Instead: I stomp. I stumble. (That’s what happens when your neck brace keeps you from watching where you’re walking.) I hobble and wobble. (Of course, I still wear cute shoes. because: duh- if I’m gonna hobble, wobble, stomp and stumble- it may as well be in cute shoes.) Maybe, you do too. Or maybe, you have all the grace of Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Cinderella rolled into one. (In which case: I’m trying not to hate you….in Christian love- of course.) Or, maybe you’re a wheelchair maven, or a scooter driving momma. Whatever your mode of transport- today I want to talk about how we move through our days.

Nope,  I’m not (actually) talking shoes, mobility or grace. I’m talking about attitude. Motive. Jesus calls us to walk, but not with the poise of a runway model. He calls us to walk- in love.

Another truth: I find it easier to buy adorable shoes than to walk in love.  Honestly? It may be easier for me to train an elephant to walk in stilettos than it is to manage my attitude. (Am I a licensed elephant trainer? Don’t ask- I’m tempted to lie. Just go with me here….okay?)

Back to attitude. (Even though I’d rather talk elephant training….) It matters.

Because- love matters. (It must. That, or God had a lot of space in the Bible he was just trying to fill…..)

Ephesians 5      Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Luke 11     “Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.”

Here’s the thing: Love may not fail, but, I, do. Often. When it comes to walking in love?  I stumble, stomp and wobble more than I do in heels with the neck brace. (Trust me, no matter how long I’m in this thing, it’s not pretty.)

I am less than considerate of others. I say harsh things. (I think I’m hilarious- but sometimes? I’m just mean.) I assume the worst. I am impatient. I am critical. I fail.(The list could go forever.. I think you get the idea.)

But, Jesus loves me anyway. And that love? It picks me up, so I can try to walk in love again.

Ephesians 5      Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I’ve read that verse hundreds of times– and all the verses that challenge us to be loving- and follow God.  (Sometimes searching for loopholes, if I’m honest.) Interestingly enough- He never demands that we KEEP UP with Him. He just asks that we follow. To follow- to walk behind. To move in the right direction. Toward Him.

Today- whether in heels, running shoes, ballet slippers or barefoot, with poise or with teetering, wobbly pain-filled steps- I ask you to join me in following God and taking the next step in love.  Wobbly, hobbly, stumbly or graceful….  Because You ARE loved.

Dear Jesus- I love you. Thank you for challenging me to walk in the love you’ve poured out to me. Thank you for the reminder that you don’t expect me to keep up with you- but to follow you. Today- where ever I walk- let me do so in love. amen

Photo1Maybe, it’s because I love writing. Maybe, it’s just because I’m weird. But, I think margins are a beautiful thing.

Margins are the matte for word art. Margins are the space that makes words legible. (Along with those magical spaces between words that I’ve never quite gotten the hang of. I can still hear Mrs. Keith: “Leave a pinky space between your words, Tracey…..” ) Margins are the place where doodles become ideas, and ideas-become art.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lack of margins….. not on my pages (I have auto-formatting for that. And Pinky spaces are pretty inconvenient when writing on a laptop..trust me- I’ve tried.) My pages are fine margin wise… my life? Not so much.

My life is crammed:

Speaking engagements, parenting, marriage, volunteer work, healing, my netflix cue, doctors appointments, travel, laundry, cooking, bible studies, baby showers…. I should probably schedule toilet cleaning just to make sure it gets done. There isn’t much margin on my calendar. It makes me: cranky, stressed and controlled by a to-do list. When a friend needs or wants to talk- I feel like I need a 2 week lead-time and a calendar invite.

I’m not the only one. My friends are busy too. My family is busy. My neighbors are busy. (Or dead. I rarely see them….I’m going with busy though…sounds better.)

We’re ALL BUSY.

Too busy, if you ask me.

So I’ve been doing an experiment in margins. I’ve been leaving some on my calendar. (FYI: saying “No,” won’t make you popular.  But, it WILL give you the time to spend with the people who are most important to you and to them.)

It’s given me some wiggle room. If something comes up… I can be flexible. If my kid or spouse needs (or wants) to talk… I can be there.

If I meet someone at Target who needs a little encouragement… I can take time to give it. Without missing the carpool. (well, Except for that one time…..)

Margins. I’m starting to enjoy having margins in my life.

I hope you’ll give it a try.

It’s okay to say “NO.” To good things. So you have time for the best. It’s Okay to say “No” to things… just because you COULD do it doesn’t mean you SHOULD….

Children don’t need to be in so many activities that they forget they are in a family. They will still be able to go to college if they aren’t in AP art in Preschool.

They can: take turns with activities. (One night a week is about all I can handle…you don’t have to have each kid in an activity at the same time….)

Having margins means you have time to eat together. Talk together. Be together.

Calendar margins are the empty time where relationships can doodle, without plan or focus…and the doodle time sparks love- the art of life.

 

Ephesians 5:15-17

New International Version (NIV)

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

 

Lord- help me to keep margins in my day…. help me to focus on the moments you bring me into- and make the most of every opportunity… I love you lord- amen.

Tomorrow?

We’ll talk about the Marginal…….the things that need to stay out of the center of the pages of our lives…. the things to say “No” to… and the things to let go of….

 

 

Grace and MercyLimits.  I’m not a fan. I like to problem solve. Tell me I can’t, and I’ll figure out how I CAN.  I could easily be confused, with a 3 year old. I say: “I’ll do it myself.”  Or “I can do it myself.” about as often.

The problem is- I can’t. Not always. Especially not now. Maybe not ever. But in truth? I never could. I just always try to. I try to be a jill of all trades- I have been known to: wallpaper and by myself. (One time standing on a kitchen chair in our slippery bathtub. Putting up  ceiling border. Think about it…. holding up a border until it sticks- applying pressure as the chair you’re standing on slowly pushes back and away from the surface you’re trying to stick it to….good times.) I’ve been known to Google “How to fix the pipes under your kitchen sink when they fall apart from the garbage disposal’s vibration.”  And then: fix it. (At least for a while. Newsflash: I’m not a plumber.) I prefer to offer my doctor a diagnosis consult  and suggested treatment plan when I go in for an appointment.

I’m not a doctor- nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Yet… somehow– I feel like I can.. or that I should be able to do and figure everything out. IN truth-The list of examples could go on forever.

One of the limits I’m currently struggling with- is my neck. Either again- or still. Whatever. (I think I had 3 weeks after my last surgery where it had started to feel better…. then the slow creeping decline began- again.) Another failed surgery. I followed all the rules this time. I took my calcium and D 3.  I TRIED really HARD to tell my body to grow bone. It just: didn’t. In short- my neck… (Forgive the vernacular) Sucks. It hurts. My neck limits what I can and cannot do.

It’s been depressing me. Frustrating me. Upsetting me. I feel dis-abled. In the most literal sense. I feel… hobbled.… (I never should have watched the Movie “Misery.” Justsayin. I feel like James Cann in that flick-every time there is enough healing to get better and start to do more…- something whacks me again- and I’m hobbled, afresh.) I feel like I have less to give. I feel like I have less to help with. I hate it.

I’ve rebelled against it. (Scroll down to the snow shoveling incident.. not good.) Only to end up hobbling myself, even more. I’ve been angry at myself and looking for something- someone to blame. Usually there’s just: me. So I talk to myself. Blame myself. Manipulate myself.

“Get a grip. people live with worse. Be happy with what you can do. It’s just pain. Pain is part of life, accept it and move on. Don’t let it stop you. Stop being a hypochondriac. Suck it up buttercup. Don’t be a drama queen. Why do you keep doing stupid things?”

I’m not very nice. To myself.

Which is a problem. A big problem.

Because…..I’m usurping God’s expectations for me.

No, really. I am. I expect (desire, want)  my broken, weak, pain filled and needing to heal body- to perform like a healthy one. I want to be perfect. I want to be able to do it all. Somewhere in my twisted brain.. I think I should…..

I can’t find any scriptures to support this.

Instead, I find:

Hebrews 4:16

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Matthew 22:36-40 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 1 John 4:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

Psalm 145:8

” The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
There is nothing that calls me to do it all. No verse that tells me to be perfect. Not one verse tells me to fix my own brokenness.
I keep forgetting that.
Especially when I want to do.. one more load of laundry. Vacuum one more room. Clean one more closet. Help with one more cause. Join one more study….volunteer for one more thing…Or just plain have an hour without pain. The things that set  off the internal tirade of frustration, anger and guilt I wrote above…
When I do that…. I set those expectations on and take those frustrations out on someone handcrafted by God – his workmanship created for a purpose……..
His daughter.
Me.
I wonder how he feels about that?
As a mom, I’m pretty sure he’s not a fan of that, either.
I hate to see my children tear themselves up. I love them. I want them to be kind and loving to themselves and to others…. Which, as I look at the verses above.. especially in light of Easter week- when he put that love and mercy and grace into the ultimate action….. on the cross-convinces me I need to show my back (and self) some mercy. I also need God’s grace to heal me from the heart out. More important than my neck- I need to get over my perfectionistic drive.
So yesterday, being the visual learner that I am.. I put a reminder of that- right where I need it. On my back. In the form of a tattoo. 3 hours of pain- for a lifetime of remembering….”Be Gracious Tracey, Be merciful, Tracey. To yourself and to others. You are precious to the one who formed you. Treat yourself as such.”
I can’t do it all. I’m not perfect. I’m broken. I have limits. It’s okay.  I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do it all. The truth is…We’re all broken. (in some way.) And we’re all beautiful- created by God for a divine purpose.
I hope- Dear Reader…. that you will do the same.
You are loved. You are broken. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do it all. Show yourself some grace and mercy… you need it. so do I.
“Dear Lord- You know I hate my limits. Help me to accept them and respect them. Help me to love my life and not to waste it longing for a perfect, healthy pain free one. Help me to be gracious and merciful, help me to accept your mercy and grace- I love you Lord…. so very much. Help this ink be a reminder of all these things…. In Jesus name-amen
Kudo’s to Cee Jay at Suicide Kings Tattoo’s who worked with me to create the perfect reminder- ;)

Some days, I feel overwhelmed and embattled in, a war of causes. One i didn’t even enlist in. Heres- the thing- I hear and am moved by the impassioned pleas:

Justice! Child advocacy! Healthy families! Hunger! HIV! Cancer! Poverty! Clean water! Healthcare! Orphan care! Homelessness! Mental illness! Literacy! Refugees! Chronic illness! Foster Care! Adoption! Human Trafficking! Substance Abuse! Sex Trade! Food Contamination! Child Abuse! …. The list is endless. And heartbreaking.

I care. I do. And- I can say without guilt- that I do what I can when I can, to make a difference in the lives of others. I take seriously the call to comfort others with the comfort I’ve been given, and to love  one another. Whom ever “another” happens to be.

But, I have a problem. I’m tired of people sharing their passion and at the same time…demeaning the passions and callings of others.

It makes no sense to me when compassionate people battle to claim their cause as: THE MOST IMPORTANT. THE MOST GODLY.  THE most gospel driven….The most…. whatever.

The truth is:  ALL these things matter. ALL these things (and so many others) break the heart of, and matter to God. All these things- need impassioned voices to express their value, need and to inspire others to help.

I wonder what would happen if- we stopped wasting time arguing about what the most important causes are… and started being thankful that God touches each of us with unique areas of compassion. What if we championed the causes of others instead of judging them?  (As less important that OUR cause- of course.)

I’m not sure why we do it. Maybe we feel the need to justify the things we advocate for. Maybe we think that be telling people our cause should be their priority is how we communicate our causes value. Maybe it’s because of darker reasons… maybe we want to be on the “best cause” team. Maybe it’s more about US than our cause. I honestly don’t know.

But, I know this- We are all together supposed to carry out the work of the gospel. Each one our own unique part. And I refuse to (more…)

A blue backpack has taunted me all weekend. “How are you going to send him out into this kind of world? What IF….”  The backpack stops from this:short.  Even an inanimate object doesn’t want to voice the fear we all feel.

My brain battles back… “What are the chances? Our school is safe. I have to trust God….”  But, still. tonight, I’ll pick up that backpack and do what moms all over America are doing. I’ll check homework. I’ll pack a lunch. I’ll sign notes and layout tomorrow’s clothes. Only, tonight, instead of a soundtrack of mental to do list review and complaints about smelly lunch leftovers in a lunch box, there will be a cacophony of fear:

  • “Maybe I should homeschool.” (Again. I’ve already been there.) 
  • “Are there flak jackets that fit under uniform shirts?” (I’m afraid to google this. If child sized flak jackets exist… well.. it just makes me sad.- Sadder. Which is hard to imagine.)
  • “Can a backpack be retro-fit with kevlar? Are there bulletproof backpacks? Should I talk to my kid about what to do…. IF?”

If I were a bazillionaire- I’d be tempted to buy an island and build a compound where my family and loved ones would be safe from sick or evil people. I’d put a bubble over it to protect us from chemical and biological warfare. I’d filter our air- and be sure to have a sustainable agriculture model that would feed us healthy, chemical free foods. I’d make sure we are UV protected. I’d have internet filters that would keep inappropriate content from ever being visible. (I can’t imagine surviving without the internet at this point…) I’d stockpile:  food, medicine, books and yarn. (We all have our vices.Oh and probably have weapons.. but as you can tell, i’m more about comfort than weaponry.) We could probably survive a zombie apocalypse, but, I’m not sure we could survive each other. I’ve been with these people on car trips.

We’d probably die of suffocation. Emotional or otherwise. Which- would make me a mass murderer, wouldn’t it?

It’s probably good that I’m not a bazillionaire.

Since I’m not, and honestly- even if I  were- I’m not sure I want to be locked away on a secluded island with even just my own brand of crazy….What DO I do next? What do I do Monday morning? After 20 children and their teachers were killed…. in their classroom? And a mother was killed in her home. And a broken, sick, messed up 20 year old killed himself?

Parent’s everywhere have experienced yet another paradigm shift. What once felt safe…. feels unsafe. What once was unthinkable, is more than real. I’ve spent the weekend trying not to think about it. I turn off the news after brief updates. My husband put up the Christmas lights. I did laundry and knit gifts and ordered other gifts.

But now- it’s Sunday, and the blue backpack beckons. The clock is ticking. Monday is coming. So is: carpool and pickup and leaving my child all day in the care of others….

Out of my control. (As if I have control here… but that’s another article, altogether…)

What next?

There’s only one answer….. I will pack the lunch. I will check the homework. I will pack the taunting bag and make sure he doesn’t forget it. I will layout the school clothes. I will wave goodbye as he carpools. I will be there to pick him up. I will do the next thing. Because that’s what moms do. To do anything else would be to let sickness and evil win.

I will be nervous. You may be too. I will have fleeting thoughts of island oasis’ and stockpiles that would make a “prepper” look like a sadly outfitted overnight camper.

I will pray. I will trust.

I will pray that God will protect…… I know He does… but I will also pray that God will be present – even here. Regardless of the circumstance. As he was- in Sandy Hook. In the heroic acts of teachers- and first responders, and the invisible loving arms that welcomed little ones too soon, into eternity. After a year of facing several surgeries, and cancer and financial struggles and all the rest of life we’ve experienced…- I know this for sure: Awful things happen- But- he is near. Even here.

Friday- I chose love. Today? I choose trust. In my fear. Trust that no matter what happens Monday- God will get us through- as he will those so hurt on Friday and everyday.  To choose to withdraw and to try and seclude ourselves into safety… would only be letting evil win.

Which is all grand to say… but that backpack. It still taunts. I am still afraid. The world is not safe. I want to choose trust… but how do I manage the emotion?

What works for me:

  • Honesty. I will talk about how I feel. Even though I’d rather avoid it.
  • Connection. I will listen to the fears of others. I will find solace in not being alone.
  • Compassionate Action. I will do something to help others. I need to remember that this isn’t about ME. Nor, is life.
  • Prayer for me. I can’t change my emotions…. but God can, and He can help us get through anything- even a normal Monday shadowed by fear- which is what most of us will experience tomorrow.
  • Prayer for the grieving. I don’t have words- but I can weep with those who weep- and pray that God will be present in their pain.

So- let’s start now…. together. Pray with me?

Dear Jesus-  I come to you with a weary, fear  and grief burdened heart. I come to you with a backpack taunting me…. how can I send my child out into a world that is so dangerous? A world so full of all the things that cause tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting? How can I trust …  when I know that death, murder, sickness, abuse  and accidents all happen? I trust by remembering your presence in other pain. I remember your tender care at the cancer center. In hospital rooms. In funeral parlors. I remember your love in the darkest pains of my life and how you [eventually] bring light into the darkness. remembering helps me trust. I love you Lord- and ask you to be near the broken hearted. I ask you to be with every parent fearful as they pack backpacks for Monday. I ask you to be present as we face fear and choose trust. Lord- I know that in the end- sickness and evil will not win….let the defeat begin in me. In Jesus name- amen.

Moms, dad’s how are you feeling? How are your kids feeling? What works for you?

And… if you happen to be a bazillionaire… do you have any room for a nice family of five in your compound? (Just saying…… still feels like an option….) If you’re new to my site- and are wondering why the nest pic? Enter  “Even here” into my search bar…. you’ll find the stories of how God has shown himself  in nests….

**note: I use the term evil — not as a moral judgment- but to represent all that can break people and create fear and acts like SandyHook… – abuse, mental illness, sin, evil…