Iraq Journey

Compassion Bloggers: Guatemala 2010


Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

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Flying Free

September 16, 2010

“Fly free?” she asks

without a care

and turns, to sing

the wires, there

She knows not.

“Fly free?” she asks

with trembling chin

must leave this cage

still chained within

(but how… ?)

She knows not.

Fly free!” she soars

above the trees

and freedom, it is

she sees

She knows it.

I love this Lisa Leonard necklace. It’s one of my favorites.

For some reason, wearing it close to my heart

always reminds me of freedom.


Speaking of flying free, my amazing mother has finished an online move and has begun a fresh, beautiful new blog. And now, she’s beginning to tell her story.


The winner of the Moja Creations snack set is sweet Tracey of Make Room For…! Congrats Tracey!


Have you ever been separated from the one you love? I’m looking for suggestions, ideas and stories of how you, your spouse and/or your children have stayed connected during deployments and other separations.

The Judgment

September 13, 2010

I was only ten when I learned to turn up my nose to people who weren’t “like me.”

Actually, I had learned it a few years before (not from my own parents so much, but from those with whom we were surrounded) and was simply starting to put my training to good use.

I was ten, and we were at a school related function. In the ’90s, there was a Southern California woman who frequently hosted classes for regional homeschoolers, covering everything from Noah’s flood and climbing Mt. Everest to space travel and chemistry.

This was the day for chemistry. I loved chemistry. I was the girl who aced her chem class in 11th grade and relished in formulas (of every variety). I loved this particular one day class and ate up everything we were taught.

But it wasn’t my affinity for chemistry that was making me proud that day. I didn’t look down my nose at the other kids because I was a ten year old who loved the periodic table.

When it came time for all of the students to separate into small groups for experiments, I stopped myself from rolling my dark hazel eyes at the group to which I was assigned.

The other kids? They weren’t real homeschoolers.

They didn’t look anything like me. They were in jeans and tank tops, t-shirts with television characters on them. The two other girls had chin-length hair and the boys said words like “dude,” and “rad,” and “aw, man!”

These people certainly weren’t like us. They weren’t “likeminded.”

They were a disgrace to us true homeschoolers, those of us who were members of the club, we who knew what was really right and wrong. We who knew how to keep “the look.”

We who truly pleased God.

I did the science experiments with these kids, but stayed a safe distance from them. After all, I didn’t want to be tainted by their ungodliness.

Because, wasn’t it true that if you hugged a pig, you would just get dirty… the pig doesn’t get clean?

I was ten years old. And to me? These people, in their stylish clothes and with their cool words, were just like those dirty pigs.

I was 24 years old.

(It was a few weeks ago.)

I’d stopped turning up my nose at the people in jeans and short hair. I’d learned the reality of grace and love and had begun to realize that true godliness is wrapped up in the love that Jesus shows and pours out, and that we are to return that love to Him and those He places around us.

I no longer thought of people as the dirty ones from whom I needed to stay far, far away.

I thought I was done with wrongful judgment.

And then, I saw them.

A family traveling with several daughters my own current age.

And this time? The roles were reversed.

I was the one in the jeans. They were the ones in the jumpers.

I rolled my mental eyes as I said hello.

Certain they were analyzing and thinking me “worldly” and “ungodly,” I smiled politely and said no more.

I interacted as much as the situation required, but stayed a safe distance away.

Mentally, they were on one side of the spiritual fence, I was on the other.

We weren’t at all “likeminded.”

My nose had been high in the air for an hour before I realized

I had

done it


I hadn’t learned a thing.

Dear Little Man in the Bible Club

September 9, 2010

Little boy of mine,

I was watching you tonight.

In that Bible club at church.

It was the first time I’ve had the guts to do something such as a Bible club since things fell apart a few years ago and my view of the world and church was shaken, remolded, renewed.

I was proud of myself, Little Man, for deciding to not only let you be a part of this, but for agreeing to teach your tiny preschooler class. It was a huge step for me, and we were going to make it count.

I had it, planted firmly in my mind, how this night would turn out.

I thought back, to when you were a tiny baby, and those times I had imagined you, taller and talking, old enough to participate in the Bible clubs of our churches.

Back then, several years ago, during that era in which innocence reigned, I knew you would be the good kid, the “churched” kid, the one who knew all his verses, wore his pressed uniform, and sat quietly, obediently, listening to the story. I imagined you with your hair neatly combed and swept to the side on a Wednesday night, face clean and Bible in hand. I didn’t question it, because that’s just the way we did things…

…back then.

Tonight we went to Bible club, Little Man. You were so excited. You’ve been asking for days if this was the day.

We barely made it out the door on time. Your brother was crying from a late nap and a hurried supper. I sighed. My heart was rushed.

We walked in the glass doors, a bag of notebooks and colorful papers slung behind my shoulder, and you promptly announced that you had forgotten your Bible. I sighed. I had forgotten. Where was my brain?

We walked up the stairs to the tiny classroom and I caught a glimpse of your milk mustache. I sighed. I hadn’t even wiped your face.

You found a seat with the other little people and we slowly started the first night of your much anticipated Bible class. I fumbled my way through the lesson I had thought I was prepared for, and searched for papers I hadn’t realized I would need. I sighed. I didn’t have it all together.

You were antsy. You wiggled. You got out of your seat. You talked too soon. You were irritated with your brother and made angry faces. I sighed. You weren’t making this easy.

We played games on a colorful square and you weren’t sure how to play. You wanted to do everything right away and didn’t stop to listen for directions. I sighed. You were causing a scene.

Where was that boy I’d imagined? The one who would do everything just right and would look the part?

We went home.

Me? Defeated.

You? Thrilled.

I put you to bed and was cross, frustrated and mourning the loss of my expectations.

I knelt beside your bed and you wrapped your little arms around my neck in the dim light.

Mama?” you whispered, your lips close to my ear. “That was so much fun. Thanks for teaching me that Jesus loves me more than anything tonight.

And then

I cried.

Surrender. Of my ideals, expectations and my ingrained need for perfection.

Love. Of Jesus, of the precious people on this earth, including my own family and even people who have hurt me.

God has me camped out on those two these days.

It is hard. And it is good.

Go Back…

August 16, 2010

If I could turn back the page and find the chapter of a week ago…

I’d be rushing through a morning, brushing little teeth, tying shoe laces,

hopping in the car to drive two hours to the airport.

I would come home that afternoon, one less passenger,

unaware that the week ahead would prove difficult, overwhelming,

that tears would be shed,

that the very walls would witness heaviness of spirit.

But, neither did I see the moments

of smiles when a picture was drawn in crayon on a green page,

of dancing when a DVD arrived from Afghanistan,

of giggles in the morning, toddler time snuggles,

of being rescued both physically and emotionally by ones who love us.

If I could run backward, and end up last year,

I would be running in the door from the gym,

swapping a bag loaded with a water bottle, towel, and membership card

for one filled with swimsuits, sand shovels, sunblock and oversized towels.

We would head to the beach, shoulders tan from a long summer.

The idea of moving to the Colorado mountains would simply be hypothetical,

and the journey through another deployment seemed distant,

mere cloudy hues in the bright San Diego sun.

If I could turn the clock and  find myself a girl of five years ago,

I would be on top of the world,

and yet sick as could be.

Still basking in the glow

of one whole married year

to the man who was

more than my dreams.

Newly expecting a baby,

praying daily that we’d actually hold this little one.

I would have just stood as a bridesmaid,

clothed in laughter and purple,

unaware that only four months later

the groom would reach ahead and grasp eternity.

If I could bend the calendar and see ten years ago,

I’d be a bright eyed teen

in a pink flowered jumper I had made myself,

espresso dark hair to my hips.

I would be helping with breakfast

for a family of four

in a home overflowing with light and joy.

I would be few of friends,

but have a mailbox full of letters bearing pen pal addresses.

I would pore over magazines with black and white pictures.

I would have no idea that within a year

our family would receive the first shaking

of long-held ideas.

Nor that, 366 days later,

we’d be mourning the untimely death of

a beloved uncle.

I couldn’t have seen I was living in the end of an era.

If I could jump into a timeline and land twenty years ago,

I would be a pony-tailed girl

in a polka dot sundress and pink dinosaur high tops.

I would have a mama who was newly following Jesus

and I would be singing The Butterfly Song with Psalty

in the back seat of our Volkswagen.

We would be just months away from welcoming

a new little dark haired boy

to our tiny family.

My daddy would be starting a new job,

a firefighter in a California desert city.

He would swing me into his arms and dance with me in the kitchen.

My heart was safe and innocent.

I didn’t know,

in these long-ago days,

that this earthly life is filled with change,

with pain,

with love,

with heartache,

with joy.

Some days, I wish to go back.

I long to be the unseen hand,

changing life courses

and altering

a moment

an action

a look.

But would I,


{I don’t know.}

“I could have missed the pain,

but I’d have had to




~from a song I can hardly listen to, because it always makes me cry

Look back, a week ago, twenty years ago?

What of your dance?

Be Still

August 13, 2010

It had been “one of those” mornings.

It was the middle of December 2007–Christmastime. Things were crazy. Everything from the past two months seemed to have hit me that day–my newborn, my husband’s surgery, a trip to Colorado, Christmas preparations, and a deployment date looming in the near future. This particular day was filled with a million little things, and I felt I was hanging by a thread.

In the late afternoon, I finally managed to find a moment–one moment. I thought if I could just take a quick hot shower right then, it would wash away the craziness of the day and all would be fine.

An hour passed, and between several phone calls and door-bell rings, I still wasn’t in the shower.

A harried mess. That’s what I was. I sat Troy down in my bedroom with a stack of books and a couple toys, put 6-week-old Merritt in his bouncy seat, and hopped in the shower.

But, unlike my expectations, the stress didn’t wash away with the water. I could only feel the tension in my heart building as I ran my long to-do list through my head. I could hear the ringing of the phone–again. The baby was beginning to get fussy and Troy was tired of looking at books. It had been all of two minutes.

I pushed my hair under the stream of water, letting it rinse the shampoo out of my hair. As I wiped the water beads out of my eyes, I heard a whisper.

Be still.

Gently the words came. I pushed them out of my head, trying to focus on the days, weeks ahead of me. There was so much to think about, plan for, keep straight in my head. How desperately I wished time could stop and give me a week to catch up. It was all just so much and I…

Be still.

So softly, that Voice spoke directly to my heart.

Lord, don’t be ridiculous. Be still? Now? Not happening.

I heard the baby crying with all his might. Hurry. Rinse out the conditioner. This shower had taken long enough. Next on the list? Get dinner started and then I’d have to hurry…

Be still. Quiet your heart. Know I am God.

I sighed aloud. Okay, Lord. Okay. Quiet my heart. I’ve made a note of it and I’ll be sure to do that. Maybe once the kids are in bed. Or something.

That still, small voice is persistent. Our little back-and-forth continued as I finished up my shower and went about getting ready.

Be still, and know that I am God.

Lord, my heart replied. I already do know you are God. Of course I do.

Be still, and know that I am God. Quiet your heart before me.


This evening, things were completely chaotic in our house. What was really only about thirty minutes felt like days.

We were on our way to our church’s annual mission’s dinner. I had made food, was scheduled to work in the nursery for the service after the dinner, and was hoping to catch some of the preaching through the television screen in the nursery.

But my reality at that moment wasn’t so rosy. Both boys were crying. This was not just fussiness or whimpering. Troy was sobbing as if his life was ending. Merritt was screaming with everything in him.

I was beside myself.

I hurried them both along. I tossed brownies on a plate. I ran in my heels to fill diaper bags. I replaced the binky. I consoled. I held. I got impatient and spoke too harshly. I walked into the kitchen, away from the boys, and let out a long, at-my-wit’s-end-again groan. I put the baby in his carseat, directed Troy to the door, slung my purse and the diaper bag over a shoulder and picked up my plate of brownies, nearly forgetting to grab my Bible with that extra hand I don’t have.

And then I heard it in my heart, always so soft and gentle.

Be still.

I was frustrated. Lord, this is NOT the time. I don’t have a second for stillness right now. This is crazy. I feel like I’m falling apart. I don’t even know what I was thinking in imagining I could go to this dinner on my own with the boys.

I locked the front door.

Be still, and know that I am God.

Lord, please, please… what are you trying to tell me? I DO know You are God. You know I can’t be still right now. I don’t understand.

My Jesus is so loving. You know I’m God? Do you really know I’m God? If you know I’m God, you know I’m capable of handling all of this. You know this moment would be better if you placed it in my hands. You know I will fill you with My perfect strength in this moment of weakness. Quiet your heart before Me. Be still, and know that I am God.

I was stopped at a red light. I closed my eyes. This wasn’t a mere suggestion. It was a command.

Be still. Know I am God.

The boys were still crying. I told myself to never again pack so much into one long day.

I don’t feel it, Lord. I don’t feel quiet or still. But I do want to truly know you are God. Please let me see You in this moment, Jesus.

Are you weary tonight? I am. Are you frazzled or is your heart troubled? To say that there is ever time for real stillness in the life of a woman is nearly laughable.

And yet, He whispers…

Be still.

Know that I am God.

Until we’re still… until our hearts are quieted before Him… until we stop waiting for things to slow down before really looking into His face… until we obey His command to be still, even when there is no stillness in sight, we can never expect to fully know He is God.

Be still.

This was originally posted May 3, 2008 ~ halfway through our first deployment.
But I needed it… today. Five months into our second deployment.
For exactly the same reasons it was written over two years ago.

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