When the World Blows Up

It was our day off and we were running errands. My husband held my hand and said with a smile, “I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.”

I smiled at him, and told him I was glad to hear that, but deep down a pit formed in my stomach. You see, I had been stressing, and I honestly can’t say I’ve been in the moment with him for over a week. Self-absorbed, lost in my own thoughts, small groups starting at church, school starting, and general overload at work with decisions that had to be made and personalities to consider but time wasn’t allowing me to wait anymore. Even my dreams had been chaotic, one being forgetting to put deodorant on for a very important meeting, another forgetting to take notes for class and being clueless for a test.

Later that evening as we were night swimming, I said, “It truly makes me happy that you are the happiest you’ve been in your life. I have to apologize that I’ve been a brat this week.” He looked intently, “On purpose?” “No”, I replied, “just stressed about work. I’m checked out in many ways. You’ve had a lot of extra to do around here.”

He looked at me earnestly and said, “Listen, I get why you’re stressed but it changes nothing. You made some tough calls this week and you did what needed to happen. In the end though you have to remember that today is all that you have. You pray for tomorrow but it’s not a given. This moment, right here, is all you have and when the whole world blows up what do you want to be doing? That’s the question. Me? I settled it a long time ago. I want to be with you, swimming, making memories, traveling, playing with the grandkids, having a life. I love the work I do but at the end of the day? At the end of the day I leave whoever is mad, whatever department needs coverage, whatever nonsense is happening at the office and I come home to relax and be with you. Time goes by really fast and I refuse to allow work to consume me. Hey, we dance really well in the water.” And suddenly I am aware of the country song on the radio playing in the background and that it is perfect for this moment.

Sometimes God speaks through a moment. The sage advice of one who has lived a little, lost someone, and come back from it all to build it better and stronger. The one who has seen people come and go, programs work and fail, and through it all has seen the faithful hand of God upon his life. The song, which I will link at the bottom, that just happened to be playing during the conversation, even that, is no coincidence.

He’s right. We can be consumed by all of the work put before us. We can get so caught up in all of the things that try to capture our attention but what is the most important thing at the end of the day for any human being? The relationships we are building with one another. The lives we are building for ourselves, the memories we are making. There can only be but one priority. It was an illusion to think there were 16 priorities. It nullifies the word. At work, my priority is to do the very best I can. I give 100%. I work more hours than I get paid to. I must learn the secret of leaving work. The art of stepping out of the office and into my role as friend and wife and mother and Nana and mentor.

Where will you be when the world blows up? Stressed and worried or living in the happiest time of your life? I learned a very important lesson last night. I hope I conveyed it well and you begin to live it better than I have!

May you be blessed to find the precious important things in your life.

https://youtu.be/ilnm5vID8M8

Joy in Simplicity

Mondays are long days for me. I arrive at my trainer’s studio at 9 am, co-lead a staff meeting at 10 am and I leave the office around 9-10 pm. Most Monday evenings I take a quick dinner break and my husband usually prepares something to eat or has take-out for me. By the time I get home for the final time he typically has a fire in the outdoor fire pit and the jacuzzi going. We sit for about an hour while I download my day and he listens.

How often do I take those little acts of kindness and love for granted? How often do I not notice the effort that was made in making a relaxing resting place for my body, mind, and spirit? When was the last time I said thank you or let him know I appreciate what he does for me?

There is a story in the Bible that was the topic of the sermon in church recently.

“David again assembled all the fit young men in Israel: thirty thousand. He and all his troops set out to bring the ark of God from Baale-judah. The ark bears the Name, the name of the Lord of Armies who is enthroned between the cherubim. They set the ark of God on a new cart and transported it from Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the cart and brought it with the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on the hill. Ahio walked in front of the ark. David and the whole house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all kinds of fir wood instruments, lyres, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals. When they came to Nacon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out to the ark of God and took hold of it because the oxen had stumbled. Then the Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and God struck him dead on the spot for his irreverence, and he died there next to the ark of God. David was angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, so he named that place Outburst Against Uzzah, as it is today. David feared the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” So he was not willing to bring the ark of the Lord to the city of David; instead, he diverted it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. The ark of the Lord remained in his house three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and his whole family. It was reported to King David, “The Lord has blessed Obed-edom’s family and all that belongs to him because of the ark of God.” So David went and had the ark of God brought up from Obed-edom’s house to the city of David with rejoicing.”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭6:1-12‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Uzzah grew up in the house where the ark has resided. He was so accustomed to the presence of God that it was common. Reaching out to steady it was of no second thought. It had lost the sacredness to him.

I have been meditating on this passage this week as I go about my work. What do I take for granted in the presence of God? What do I take for granted in the presence of God’s sons and daughters? What has become such a casual matter that I no longer even notice?

Take the journey with me and ask yourself if you find blessing in the simplicity of joy? Can you see the abundant blessings in the midst of problems? What do you focus on? Could I go on? I could, but for now, let’s just take a little walk, a deep steady breath, and contemplate.

Daddy’s Home

I had the distinct privilege of being raised by a feminist mother who applauded women’s equality and also an intact family.

My father spent lots of time outside of the home. While my father was gone our house almost held their collective breath. My mother made it clear we were not complete without my father. Once my dad arrived it was as if we all breathed a sigh of relief, as if we were finally a family, as if we were a part of a home.

Oh, we got along fine when he was away but when he came home there was rejoicing. Daddy’s home now we are safe, now we are together was the message we received throughout our childhood. It was in those moments that I saw the struggles each family member made to make a house a home. We were never threatened by my father coming home. My mother handled her business. It was not a home in which the ‘wait until your father gets home’ mantra was ever a thing. It was never a home in which my mother made my father feel useless or as if he contributed nothing. We were always keenly aware that mom could hold down the fort with one hand tied behind her back but we knew that she didn’t want to. She had a career, sent cookies to the school for party days, showed up for parent teacher conference and came home and cooked dinner.

Perhaps it is that mindset that was instilled in me that has me thinking of how important a father is to a home. It is with that mindset that I know I can’t be a father, only a mother. I understood early on that we fall short when we try to be both roles instead of being the best in our shoes and not trying fit in another’s.

My mother’s example taught me that being able to financially sustain and run a home was a necessary task and a worthwhile endeavor. She could do that and I can do that. She also taught me the importance of team work and that it doesn’t have to fall completely on my shoulders and that my ability isn’t minimized but rather enhanced in the role of marriage.

Daddy’s home. Men, you often get a bad rap for not pulling your supposed weight or not doing things the way a woman would do it. We minimize your worth and needs but true feminism acknowledges the strengths you have without diminishing ours. You are necessary and you are wanted and needed. You too help make a house a home. You are half of what creates a solid foundation for a family. Feminism was never meant to wipe you out of the picture. We got it twisted. It was always about equality in opportunity not equality in outcome. We will never win as a nation when we fight one another in our home.

Today I thank my father for believing I could be whatever I set my mind to. I thank him for pushing me to learn to think, for allowing me an opinion and for telling me I deserved a seat in the boardroom.

Today I thank my mother who showed me that glass ceilings were meant to be broken. I thank her for showing me how to deal in heels, for showing me that chores around the house were not gender specific, for showing me that a woman only puts up with what she chooses to put up with.

Today I thank my husband because although he didn’t grow up with a working mom he has applauded my endeavors. He has kicked in support at home which allows me to take classes, to teach classes, and to fulfill callings. He has a busy schedule with many demands but when he steps through the door of our house and we are together at the end of the day I can say with a grateful heart and a sigh of relief, we are part of family and we are finally a home.

The Subtlety of a Relationship

Admittedly I am an observer of people. Perhaps because I am not an extrovert when I am out in a public setting I watch people. I examine body language and watch facial expression.

Last night we had dinner on the beach. Outdoors on a beautifully clear California day as the evening begins, people began to be seated and I went into the observatory of my mind. I simultaneously chatted with my husband and I watched co-workers sit down after a conference and order drinks and appetizers laughing and talking. Soon, others came and gathered at their table. Everyone seemed relaxed and enjoying the evening. Everyone keeping friendship distance, some standing, some sitting.

At our table the discussion was on listening to children yelling in glee in the background and when that ends? When do we stop yelling in sheer bliss? Was it when the parents told us to shush? Or did we just stop expressing ourselves in that way naturally? We commented about how Erin yells in sheer happiness but Cameron no longer does. I noticed his arm around me as he tightened his grip just a little as we talked about our grands. The subtlety of a relationship’s happiness in that one almost undetectable squeeze. He’s happy in this moment I think to myself. He is relaxed and happy. “Isn’t this a great place?” He says almost in response.

At another table a couple sat down. The husband expressed loudly, “Seriously, I came out to watch you look at your phone?” Most of the time I don’t get to actually hear conversations but this guy made no bones about his irritation. She said, “Sorry.” And put her phone down. They sat together and seemed to have a good conversation after that. Sometimes we need just a little reminder about habits. My husband laughed and said, “It is just such a habit to sit down and grab your phone. I totally understand her.” I did hear him tell the table next to him that they had been married for 30 years. They didn’t seem to share the same sort of connection though. Sometimes the cares of life get in the way of the blessing.

A couple who looked to be in their 60’s were seated. They sat on the same side of the table. They ordered cocktails and began to talk. He leaned in while she talked. He brushed her hand with his. As they laughed together she put her hand on his arm. These couples are my favorite to watch. They have fostered a good relationship. Their nuanced interactions show the work they have put into their marriage. The small merging of the life they have forged together plays out in those small gestures. The subtlety of two becoming one may go unnoticed by the daily grind that is their life but it shines through if you look close enough.

I watched as a young man walked in and sat at a small table. He looked to be a young professional maybe 30? He ordered a drink and was on his phone for about 30 minutes. A woman walked in with a friend. The friend introduced the woman to the man, the man stood and shook the woman’s hand and she sat down with the man as the friend walked away. You could tell it was awkward. His leg moved a mile a minute underneath the table. Her smile and way she sat showed she was attracted to him but very cautious.

My husband and I moved a little closer to one another as we discussed them. Once again, the subtlety of a couple’s movement that you don’t even notice unless you are paying attention. Thank you Lord, for giving me the discernment to pay attention to them. He asked me, “How would like to be that couple?” “No thank you, but you know, that is how it is done these days.” He then said, “I never went on a blind date.” “Me neither.” Reaching absentmindedly for my hand he said, “Thank God I never have to.” The subtlety of a relationship when you give each other a knowing glance and it speaks everything you have to say and more without uttering a sound.

As couples walked down the sidewalk and reached for each other’s hands or walked with their arms around each other I am always amazed about how body language plays such a part in a relationship. Whether it be driving down the road and he looks over at me and smiles, or reaches over to hold my hand or sitting side by side here at dinner talking, people watching, laughing at inside jokes and never noticing the countless times we touch or glance at one another until I stop to pay attention. Until I look up from what has caught my attention and see connectivity on a different level. Until I become acutely aware of the fact that I truly do not know anymore where I end and he begins. It just becomes unconscious movements towards one another.

It’s when we’re watching tv and he moves from the recliner to the couch and I tuck my feet under his thigh and we share popcorn. It’s when we are cooking dinner and we touch one another as we move about to make our part of the meal. The public display isn’t territorial as in the man who grabs the woman’s butt in public to mark his territory. No, this is subtle, loving, genuine.

“C’mon”, he says as he kisses my temple and puts his napkin on the table. “Let’s go watch the sunset and take some pictures.”

I grab his hand and smile. As the saying goes, we may not have it all together but together we have it all.

Supreme Court Leak

Being neither a Republican nor a Democrat I often watch with interest the politics of a society gone wild with hate and vitriol. The news that the Supreme Court had a leak, which is suspicious to me, and that Roe vs Wade may be overturned, as we round the corner to a midterm is of no surprise. Both parties begin to attack to get the voters in a panic and their candidate in office. It is business as usual to distract from the real issues but we are already fried from just coming off of a pandemic. The people of the United States go crazy. On social media the unfriending, which isn’t a word but a feeling, begins because God forbid we have a thought that doesn’t align with yours.

I don’t understand the hoopla over the Roe v Wade overturn if, in fact it happens. The genie is already out of the bottle. 60% of Americans think abortion is fine. If the Supreme Court overturns it, it doesn’t make abortion illegal, it makes it a state’s right issue. If it is a state’s rights issue then it will be on your ballot. You will get to go the polls and vote your conscience just like any other law.

I happen to live in a state where our Governor has stayed executions of criminals and promised to uphold abortions. Yes, we Californians are a little twisted but we are the model for the USA so get used to it. As you know I am a Christian and I am pro-life, even for the criminal, so that last sentence was a little sarcasm and a little truth. My state is in no danger of losing abortion rights. And now since we can have home abortions I am sure you can get a couple of pills in the mail from a state like mine.

What is at stake here is your well-being. While we fight on the pros and cons of abortion there are some real life issues happening that you need to be aware of. Please don’t get caught up in the misdirection. Just because someone yells “squirrel” doesn’t mean you have to leave your post to see if it really is there. It is coming to you sooner or later in ballot form. Get educated and exercise your rights.

Inflation is kicking in and this means more families have less to put on the table to eat. This is real.

President Joe Biden has announced that we will have a food shortage. Meaning, in a time when our dollar isn’t going as far as it could you’re encouraged to stock up. That could be a problem.

20 food processing plants have caught fire in the first four months of 2022. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but we need to figure out how to prevent them in light of a food shortage.

For every $1.00 of stimulus you received it is being reported that just over $4 was spent to give it to you. That’s a significant problem long-term and not a good business model for a country. we need to get a hold of the purse strings and ask questions.

Experts say we need to have 3-6 months worth of cash in reserve. In a time of inflation we need to understand that maybe we need to slow down the spending and tighten up our belts.

Suicides, depression, anxiety is way up. Therapists aren’t taking any more clients in my county. We have a shortage of adequate providers, and many people are being left without care. This is a great humanitarian issue that needs to be addressed.

These are just a few issues that are pressing down on us. Hopefully you get the point of my post. Don’t let someone place a fear in your heart. Since time began we humans have been a resilient bunch who somehow make it through. Just because a few commentators put out scare tactics doesn’t mean your heart has to be troubled.

My best advice is whatever side of the fence you are on, understand that you don’t have to buy in to the fear. Stay calm, pray, and trust God. Vote, kiss your loved ones, and live your life. Go to work, serve your community and keep your heart and hands clean. There is Bible for all of this.

“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you — you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-34‬ ‭CSB‬‬

“There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand, because who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from him?”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:24-25‬ ‭CSB‬‬

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-12‬ ‭CSB‬‬

I Judge

I judge every single day. There I said it. It’s a fact.

I judge whether I want that second cup of coffee.

I judge how much time it’s going to take me to get to work.

I judge what the weather app is saying my day is going to look like as I look out of the window to see if I believe it or not.

I judge the songs I like vs the ones I don’t. I even judge whether I want to listen to music or listen to podcasts.

I judge what I am going to wear to work while my shower water is warming up, and yes, I put my hand in the water until I judge what the right temperature is….

to me.

I judge whether I have enough in the fridge to put a dinner together or whether I have to pull things out of the freezer.

And all of that judgement I just wrote about comes before 8 am. You could say I am very judgmental and you would be right.

And you know what else is true? All of these judgments I have come out of my heart and tell my mind what to think on these things. So when we make statements like, “You shouldn’t judge”, let’s explain exactly what that means because as humans we judge hundreds if not thousands of things every single day. It is silly to make a blanket statement about judgment when it so a part of life.

I judge right from wrong like I judge the color shoes I choose or the color lipstick I wear. So what does it mean not to judge?

It means we don’t judge motive. We don’t know why people do the things they do. We can’t see their heart and if we’re not careful we will judge them by the standards and health of our own heart’s motives and not their own heart’s motives.

That girl who we deem is wearing clothing that is too revealing? Well, maybe she has self esteem issues, maybe she doesn’t know that modesty is different in different scenarios. Maybe she doesn’t have the privilege of a dad who has spoken to her about what is appropriate and what isn’t. So before we go criticizing her for being a stumbling block, which isn’t my viewpoint on the subject at all, but that’s a different post for a different day, maybe we should find out what she knows about social norms of dressing? Before we judge how that person is spending their money, maybe we can determine that if they aren’t borrowing money from us then it really isn’t our business.

Before we go judging the person for doing something on purpose, we should try to understand why they are doing what they are doing from their heart not ours. Last week I had to buy 12 dozen donuts for my employer for an event over the weekend. I got busy and day by day I procrastinated until the day before the event. The day before the event, my boss asked if I took care of ordering the donuts. I admitted I hadn’t. He then went and ordered them for me. Clearly, I didn’t do what was asked of me. Clearly I didn’t. My first instinct was to think he wasn’t being fair and he was being slightly paranoid, “Sheesh! I was going to do it today! He sees how much I have been working.” It was in that moment when I stopped and took that thought captive instead of accusing him or worse poisoning others through gossip. How long should he give me to get my job done before he does it? What if by the time I got there, the shop had closed and the expectation of the team was a let down? Was my boss truly being unfair or was he looking out for the whole or was he doing me a favor because he knew I was overwhelmed?

Motive- mo·tive /ˈmōdiv/ noun 1. a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.

Judgments. I may not be the only one reading this who makes them all of time. Maybe you do too. I am better at not judging motive anymore since now I know I may never know the reason, especially one that is not obvious. I now know it is unfair to put my impure heart‘s reason on another’s action.

It’s A Little Thing

Driving through the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone on vacation, my husband easily spotted buffalo, elk, antelope, even a mink. I said aloud, “Jesus I only want to see a Moose. If you could just show me one please.”

My husband smiled and patted my arm. I no sooner said that then we drove around a corner and we saw this:

Yes, I am sure you are laughing as we did upon seeing it. I told my husband, “Don’t laugh too hard, God is just reminding me of specifics in prayer and that we need to take this vacation lightly.” So I said, “Ok Lord, you got me! Now just so we are clear I’d like to see a real moose please. If it’s not too much trouble to make that happen.”

We spent three days exploring. We saw chipmunks. squirrels, swans, geese, and everything you could imagine. We walked a little ways on a moose trail and my husband said, “Do you think God is just going to bring a moose to you? Maybe we need to hike in?” I smiled and said, “No, he’s going to show me a moose. I won’t have to work for it that way. I just have to have faith and know.” We went to the gift shop and I bought my granddaughter Erin a stuffed moose toy in faith.

The last few hours in the car I whispered, “I know I’m going to see a moose at the last minute. You’re dramatic that way.” We drove out of the park and heading towards Cody Wyoming. My husband said, “Sorry Babe, I really thought you’d get to see your moose.” I patted his arm and said. “My mom said I have always had great faith. How are you a Pastor and you’re already giving up on seeing a moose?”

We drive out of the park a good hour and a half and just as the sun begins to go down I point to a meadow and say excitedly, “WHAT’S THAT?” My husband, and I know he is stunned and excited because he never talks like this says, “That is a frickin’ moose.” I laugh and say, “THANK YOU JESUS!” Then we get out of the car to take pictures.

I

So why do I tell you this story? Because God is interested in every little thing in your life.

Big or small.

Silly or serious.

When you begin a conversation that turns into a prayer life, these things begin to happen.

My husband said to me that this story doesn’t seem extraordinary in and of itself. Then he said, “But I’ve seen it happen to you so many times that it is extraordinary.” And it can happen to you. Just believe and trust and know. Does it happen all the time? No, but happens most of the time and it builds my faith and I hope it builds yours.

He Saw and Believed

Dear Cameron Joshua and Erin Marie,

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Today there is a crisis in our nation and the country is in a Stay In Place order due to a virus called Corona virus, which means we aren’t able to meet together for what for us is the most blessed celebration of our faith, Easter Sunday.  I have been missing you both so profoundly as you, Erin, turn 6 weeks old, and you, Cameron, turn 3 in a few weeks. I am missing more of your life than I ever thought I would but today Hope resurfaced.

Today my beautiful grandchildren, today, your Papa got up and made coffee for us, then he showered and put on a suit and tie. I followed his lead and dressed for church as if it was any other normal Sunday. We got in our car and drove off to the church.

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.

Today your Papa went into an empty church, and said to the essential staff that it takes to preach an online message to and said, “The church may be empty this morning but so was the tomb and we are going to proclaim the WORD to more people than we would have reached normally.”

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Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

Your Papa met Jesus when he was not much older than you are and he has proclaimed him since. He wasn’t going to stay home and not reach anyone on this day, THE DAY,  our faith is built on. He was going to go to his pulpit and shout it out to the world. This isn’t any ordinary day and this isn’t a day to be taken casually. Is any day really?

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If you’ve ever preached to an empty room it isn’t easy. You get feedback and body language from those who are present and came to hear. It helps you move forward but your Papa has been doing this a long time. And he pushed through knowing he was called by God to give Hope and an invitation.

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So today he was a Pastor to a world who is scared that they will get a virus. He preached for you both, that you always know that Jesus is the center of our life. He preached to the ones who still don’t know about Jesus and he reminded me and himself that Jesus is the center of it all. While God has sat us all down, Papa is still doing what he has called to do.

I wrote all of this out in my bible today but just in case it is lost, technology will live on. One thing you will have forever is that Nana and Papa love you with their whole heart and you have a strong legacy of prayer and service to the Church and Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! He is Risen. We have hope and God’s Promises.

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I Wonder If She Knows…

I watch Cameron intently as he plays. He is serious, studious, loving, funny in a sarcastic way, and I can’t help but see my son in him. His profile, the way he assesses the environment before he either engages or not. The way he moves closer to us as a stranger walks into the room. His total refusal to call my mom Nana because as he pointed out, “No, you my Nana.” It points to his loyalty. The way he sees himself as protector.

I point all of this out to my daughter-in-love and while she smiles and laughs with me I recognize she has no point of reference to her husband as a toddler. Nor should she.

I wonder if she knows that as she mothers him the time flies quickly by? I wonder if she knows that the reason why he will pick a great wife is that she will raise a great man and have faith in herself that she can? I wonder if she knows the love she feels for her son will multiply a thousand times when she looks at his child?

No, she doesn’t know yet because none of us do before it happens. Instead good moms stress kindness, love, manners, respect, honor, humility, and education all while juggling a huge to-do list and worrying that we aren’t doing enough or that we are doing too much. In the meantime our children wrap themselves around our heart and we know that we will never be the same and we don’t want to be. No, no one can prepare you for those feelings that will come until they do.

I look at my grandson and my heart swells with joy. When we sing together or when he says, “Nana I will sing you a song” and breaks out in a toddler version of Amazing Grace it is as if angels are singing. Yes, yes, off key and pitch but nevertheless beautiful and a sound you wouldn’t trade for the world.

In those moments we do not have the profound revelation that all that we have lived through, all the hurts, pains, dysfunction that we all face will be worth it for the results that await us in the near future.

My daughter-in-love is beautiful. She is real, honest, loving, filled with integrity and character and the most amazing mom on the planet. She along with her husband are teaching Cameron the value of family, creating a strong and stable home where violence and love are opposed to one another. I heard Anthony say to Cameron in the middle of a toddler tantrum, “No, I don’t hit you and you don’t hit me. You can be angry but you can’t hit.” Above all their home is Christ-centered and they are laying solid foundation in our faith as Christians.

I am grateful she continues to humor me as I tell her stories of my son as a toddler, listens to recordings of his bath time, and has taken time to read through every single piece of art he made in pre-school. She is preparing Cameron to be a good big brother, a worthwhile friend, a man of character who will one day lead his family well. And although she doesn’t know it yet, she is preparing her heart to guide a daughter-in-love, to love her well, and to laugh and hold her grand babies one day.

I wonder if she knows that I hold her close in my heart because of who she is all by herself? My son’s wife, my grandson’s mom is all secondary to who she is. Her name is Frances Martinez and you are blessed if you know her.

Tribalism Continued

While sorting through my feelings of tribalism and it’s non-ending cycle of inclusion and exclusion I found Joaquin Phoenix and his acceptance speech something to be thought out. Take a listen:

Words like championing causes vs commonality of passion towards any issue doesn’t necessarily include or exclude unless we have no room for opinion. He talked of an egocentric world view and while his point was a natural world view, it wasn’t lost on me that even in discussion of causes we leave no room for difference. As he so eloquently put it we are best when we support each other instead of canceling each other out. There was another layer laid on my heart as I continue to work out my thought process on this issue.