Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Worth the Risk

Dreams. They inspire and challenge. But dreams can also have a negative connotation. Consider statements like…
“Quit dreaming.”
“She’s just a dreamer.”
Dreams are often met with cynicism, because they’re risky. They upset the “status quo.” They’re not safe.
Join me over at God-Sized Dreams for the rest of this post and some more of my thoughts on dreams and risk!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Messy Boys

“It’s messy.” 

My friend nods. “Yes, it’s definitely messy!”

We are talking about the trials of walking beside sons emerging into manhood.

I heard once that a boy becomes a man over his mother’s dead body, and boy are there days when it really does feel like a fight to the death.

It’s a mess of emotions, misunderstanding, and some hormones thrown in to boot. Ironically, this season of hormonal mayhem often occurs right about the time a momma’s hormones are beginning to take their own first steps into the crazy dance of perimenopause. 

Oy vey! One can’t help but wonder, “God, what were you thinking?!”

I’m a few years ahead of my friend with a couple grown sons "under my belt", but I’m still in the ring with two teen boys and a twelve year old. So I offer her my best advice.

“Be okay with the mess.” {<==click to tweet}

The lesson started early with mud, sticky faces, dirty socks, and Legos. Everywhere. Raising boys doesn’t happen without a mess. And while a momma must constantly wrestle to keep the mess from getting out of control, to insist upon perfect order and cleanliness is to sacrifice a world of adventure and boyhood joy. {<==click to tweet} Learning to be okay with the physical mess is the precursor to the season my friend and I are pondering. 

If I insist on perfect behavior and don’t allow grace and love to cover a multitude of stumbles (his and mine) along this new terrain, I will sacrifice relationship.

We moms tend to tighten our grasp when things get shaky. Years ago I was on a guided horseback ride in the mountains. As we headed down the steep, rocky path, I gripped tighter and tighter to the reins. The guide rode up next to me and, seeing my strained face and my poor, tightly-reined horse, said words I’ll never forget.

“Let him have his head.”

He explained that as my brave steed was navigating, I communicated confidence to him by loosening the reins and letting him “have his head.” Talk about counterintuitive! 

At the time our oldest son Josh was just entering his teen years. I immediately thought of him and this new path we were navigating. (And I’m sure many times he felt like I was on his back!) The scarier things got, the tighter I “reined” him in. Might loosening my grip communicate confidence to him and enable him to navigate this season even better than my white-knuckled grasp?

It’s a scary premise. But in the end it was my horse that carried the responsibility of navigation. And in the end, it’s my son who will navigate the path of manhood and all it’s twists, dips, turns, and potholes. Confidence is one of the greatest gifts a mom can give her son. {<==click to tweet}

You can bet it will be messy! Learning to be okay with the mess is the key to "enjoying the ride”. Yes, it’s steep, scary, and full of opportunities for mistakes and even calamity. But this is the dangerous path we’ve chosen as moms. And we have all the promises and assurances of our great Father to sustain us.

And as I let loose (note, I don’t let go) the reins, I can wholeheartedly embrace the adventure, joy, humor, and pure pleasure and pride of watching my son become a man during these crazy years. 

Right there in the middle of the mess.

Are you raising boys too? Where have you found joy and fun in the mess? And if you're walking or have walked the road of "emerging manhood" with your boy, what's your best advice?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sure Things

The mountains outside my morning window . . . are gone.

Where they once stood, only thick, cold, grey skies remain. My eyes say it's so. "I saw it with my own eyes!" Isn't that the surest thing? It's my own eyewitness testimony. The mountains are gone.

But sight can be short and senses tricked. I know what's true. The mountains haven't gone anywhere. I can see them there in my mind's eye. Blue Ridged, sharp against a clear blue sky. Unmoveable.

Thick, grey skies can deceive. Just like cold, dark circumstances that eclipse and hide sure things.

I may not see or feel them right now, but sure things stand despite vision or feelings. God's great love and promises haven't gone anywhere.

Are difficult circumstances clouding your vision today? We can't always clear the clouds, but we can recall to mind God's promises. How has God been faithful to you in the past? How has he shown His love to you? 

Hold tight and take comfort in those sure things while you wait for clearer skies to reveal what you already know by heart.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holding On To Christmas

All our ambition comes to a head at Christmas. In lights, gifts, baking, parties. We go all out for beauty and celebration of all that is best.

And you smile. Because you're a Father. The very best.

And when we find ourselves weary worn, sugared out, and slightly to very depressed, you say "Come here, my darling girl, and rest."

You are not harsh or hard to please. No, you're all that's good. All that we love. You are the smells, sights, and joy . . . all that we yearn to hold on to in this season.

You are cozy. Like the soft warm blankets and slippers we wrap around our bodies and souls like a cocoon.

We want to stay.

But the Christmas "season" ends. Decorations must be packed away, schedules resumed. Back to the day to day.

But You stay. And You are all the ambition of my heart.

So Christmas, the very best, it lasts forever.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Winsome - A Weekend Retreat for Discovering, Experiencing, & Reclaiming Joy

I founded Winsome in 2012 after many years of dreaming about a different kind of woman’s retreat. One where a diverse group of women would gather to be inspired, challenged, and reminded of their heavenly Father’s immense love for each one of them.

I'm sharing about Winsome at Circles of Faith. Please join me there to read more about it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celebrating Beauty

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received the invitation. It’s a busy season, so I tend to scrutinize the events that go on my calendar more than normal during the month of December.
But then again the founder of Verity VareĆ© is my daughter, and her dream business was turning one. It was going to be a birthday celebration!

Join me here to read the rest of this post and find out more about the fabulous message of Vv !

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The View From Here

Rain, not snow, is falling here this cold and dreary December morning. But this post from last December has cheered and recalibrated my heart . . . .

The first flake fell all alone. I saw it as I was standing on the porch waiting for the dog to do his business. The air smelled like snow, wet and cold and so fresh!

By the time I took up my early morning spot on the sunroom couch, the snow was falling lightly. The valley below was turning white, and I could only see a bit of the mountains across the other side. A few minutes later, I looked up from my book and the mountains were gone. And then, so was the valley.

I sit there each morning for the view. The farther I can see, the better. On blue-sky clear days, the mountains twenty-some miles across the valley cut the sky with their ridge.

But now my view was limited to the tree line right in front of the little patch of grassy yard on the side of our mountain. The same trees I look straight past when my eyes are yearning for the view.

As my view closed in, so did my focus. I noticed the craggy sculpture like bends of the dead tree at the edge of the woods. The rocks emerged as the snow whitened their tops. The snow itself became more visible. My limited view became the backdrop for all this glorious heaven-pure falling from the sky. The flakes like ballerinas in a massive, soundless choreography.

My heart's view narrowed as well. As if on cue, my family's faces took center stage. We wouldn't be going anywhere. The kids would be wanting to sled. The tree needed lights. We could read by the fire. Maybe bake.

And we did. Sam and I read Christmas books as I wrestled his almost but not quite too big eleven year old body into my lap. I sledded with the boys for two hours. We ate lunch in front of the fire and watched Christmas cartoons. The tree was illuminated and decorated.

A few weeks ago I heard a piece of advice given to my son's bride-to-be . . "Give him your eyes and smile."

Those words have rung in my ears and pulled at my heart ever since . . "Give them your eyes and your smile." Isn't that what the ones we love really want? Isn't that what we really desire?

Your eyes . . the window to the soul. Eyes don't lie. That makes them the very best conduit for love.

And your smile. It's like sunshine. Warm, comforting, affirming.

That's what I want to give my loved ones this Christmas season. In the midst of the busyness, events, and gifts, I want to give them my eyes and my smile.

If I dared to tell the kids that was my main gift ambition this Christmas, I can only imagine how they'd respond. I remember physically feeling my heart sink when my own mom would talk about "keeping Christmas simple". . code for fewer presents.

Like that child, I still confuse my heart's hunger with my head's desires. My Heavenly Father offers peace, rest, hope and joy, and my head thinks these are somehow not enough. It says I need stuff. And I need things fixed. I need my people to love me and act like I think they should.

But what I really need are His eyes, searching my soul, illuminating the shadowy places with the gentle and gracious light of his love.

And I need His smile. I need its warmth. Its security. 

Christmas is all about how God feeds the deepest hunger of our hearts. God sees, and because of Jesus, He smiles.

And our hearts are filled.

a repost