One Day

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself,
tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

OneDayHH

Every year around this time, the lovely Hollywood Housewife does this project called One Day, where she invites us all to spend an entire day photographing the details of life — the mundane bits that make up right now. I’ve wanted to participate for a while, but every year something has gotten in the way.

This year, I was determined. I put my a sticky note on my phone labeled ONEDAYHH!!! so that I would be sure to remember, first thing in the morning, that this was a day to be captured.

I know that there are all sorts of things to be said about the problems with being attached to your iPhone. To always taking pictures and tweeting about things instead of entering into them and being fully part of them. I get that. And in many ways, I agree.

But I also know about Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is about the alarm clock going off too early. About the long, short days — the temper tantrums and the quick-get-your-shoes-on-or-you’ll-miss-the-bus, and the deadlines looming and the waiting for bedtime. But Kairos — Kairos is about what God is doing. About that moment outside of time where everything happens. Where the world stands still and you are noticing it all. The bush is burning, and you are shoes off, seeing it, filled with awe.

And I know that last Wednesday, that wacky little phone with its quick shutter helped me see the Kairos in my everyday Chronos. Instagram — with all of its tricks and filters — didn’t so much “dress up” reality for me. Instead, it helped me see the beauty.

Anyway — feel free to stop reading right here. Go put your own sticky note on your own phone and commit to capture the day. So what if the “official” day is over? You can still play along! Maybe you’ll see your own little glimpse of Kairos in your random, lovely details.

(But you know, if you’re interested in seeing my totally narcissistic collection of photos, feel free to keep scrolling. It’s mostly for you, Mom.)

(Also? You can always follow me on Instagram here!)

First thing in the morning selfie. Only because I'm doing @hollywoodhwife's #OneDayHH linkup -- documenting the details of one entire day. Black and white and filtered because I'm not THAT crazy.

First thing in the morning selfie. Only because I’m doing @hollywoodhwife’s #OneDayHH linkup — documenting the details of one entire day. Black and white and filtered because I’m not THAT crazy.

Early reading by light box. Denise Levertov is my current obsession.

Early reading by light box. Denise Levertov is my current obsession.

Liam is up. And having a tantrum for no reason I can understand. Just like every other lousy morning of Age 3.

Liam is up. And having a tantrum for no reason I can understand. Just like every other lousy morning of Age 3.

When Daddy's out of town, Dane gets to sleep in Mama's bed. Early morning snuggles with my oldest.

When Daddy’s out of town, Dane gets to sleep in Mama’s bed. Early morning snuggles with my oldest.

7:13 and the sun is finally coming up. #nofilter

7:13 and the sun is finally coming up. #nofilter

A boy and his bead project. My 3yo's favorite morning activity.

A boy and his bead project. My 3yo’s favorite morning activity.

Frozen microwave pancakes. To the genius who thought of these -- one million thank you's.

Frozen microwave pancakes. To the genius who thought of these — one million thank you’s.

Banished outside because he keeps trying to eat the kids' breakfast. Sorry Marty.

Banished outside because he keeps trying to eat the kids’ breakfast. Sorry Marty.

Lunch box packed and ready to go. Today's menu: peanut butter sandwich, mini peppers, grapes, string cheese and a chocolate marshmallow cookie for dessert.

Lunch box packed and ready to go. Today’s menu: peanut butter sandwich, mini peppers, grapes, string cheese and a chocolate marshmallow cookie for dessert.

He was excited to wear orange to school today for United Against Bullying Day. "Mom, if there's a bully, I'll just smile at him, and he won't know what to do!" I love (and fear for) his tender heart.

He was excited to wear orange to school today for United Against Bullying Day. “Mom, if there’s a bully, I’ll just smile at him, and he won’t know what to do!” I love (and fear for) his tender heart.

Ready for the day. Thank Jesus for chunky sweaters, infinity scarves, and fall boots

Ready for the day. Thank Jesus for chunky sweaters, infinity scarves, and fall boots

Andrew's out of town, so, naturally, the garage door broke. Can't even close it manually. Please, no one steal our stuff.

Andrew’s out of town, so, naturally, the garage door broke. Can’t even close it manually. Please, no one steal our stuff.

Our sweet church.

Our sweet church.

If you would have told me seven years ago that I'd be going to a weekly women's Bible study -- and loving it -- I would have laughed in your face. Grateful for the grace-filled places God has brought me.

If you would have told me seven years ago that I’d be going to a weekly women’s Bible study — and loving it — I would have laughed in your face. Grateful for the grace-filled places God has brought me.

Also...yumminess.

Also…yumminess.

"We need to go to the moon. I'm gonna drive the rocket!" Driving with Mr. Liam.

“We need to go to the moon. I’m gonna drive the rocket!” Driving with Mr. Liam.

Mama Friend: the one who comes in, sits down at the table, and starts picking up your 3yo's sticker explosion like it's no big thing.

Mama Friend: the one who comes in, sits down at the table, and starts picking up your 3yo’s sticker explosion like it’s no big thing.

Lunch! Of! Champions!

Lunch! Of! Champions!

The kids ate all the Mac and Cheese, so I'm settling for a green (well, brown) smoothie...and some Cheese Puffs to balance things out.

The kids ate all the Mac and Cheese, so I’m settling for a green (well, brown) smoothie…and some Cheese Puffs to balance things out.

Rest time for Mom, Legos with a friend, and Liam's latest TV obsession: Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs.

Rest time for Mom, Legos with a friend, and Liam’s latest TV obsession: Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs.

20-minute nap on the couch with this shaggy thing.

20-minute nap on the couch with this shaggy thing.

Alright Book 2, you unruly thing . Let's do this.

Alright Book 2, you unruly thing . Let’s do this.

Look who made it home from his business trip!

Look who made it home from his business trip!

Off to the bus stop to pick up Dane...with some shenanigans on the way.

Off to the bus stop to pick up Dane…with some shenanigans on the way.

Home!

Home!

That time of day when I ask myself, "how in the world did the house get like this?"

That time of day when I ask myself, “how in the world did the house get like this?”

Temper tantrum redux

Temper tantrum redux

Sitting on the bathroom floor in potty-training solidarity.

Sitting on the bathroom floor in potty-training solidarity.

A post-tantrum snuggle.

A post-tantrum snuggle.

Dane's stash of necessities for pretend camping in the garage.

Dane’s stash of necessities for pretend camping in the garage.

On an adventure. The compass was supposed to go in his Christmas stocking, but I buckled and gave it to him early.

On an adventure. The compass was supposed to go in his Christmas stocking, but I buckled and gave it to him early.

Candles lit. Dinner wine poured. Various leftovers in the microwave. #scroungenight

Candles lit. Dinner wine poured. Various leftovers in the microwave. #scroungenight

Laid back Wednesday night dinner.

Laid back Wednesday night dinner.

Neighborhood ducks.

Neighborhood ducks.

Some days, it's hard to be five.

Some days, it’s hard to be five.

The kids are in bed and yelling at me from their rooms. I'm ignoring them, watching #ManhattanLoveStory, and eating all the chips.

The kids are in bed and yelling at me from their rooms. I’m ignoring them, watching #ManhattanLoveStory, and eating all the chips.

Kids are asleep. VICTORY LAP!!!

Kids are asleep. VICTORY LAP!!!

He is my spirit animal. He usually looks like I feel.

He is my spirit animal. He usually looks like I feel.

Finishing out the day with some TV with the husband. Andrew and I just finished #parksandrecreation and decided to try #blacklist. But all we can see is Robert California. #theoffice #forever #wewatchtoomuchtv

Finishing out the day with some TV with the husband. Andrew and I just finished #parksandrecreation and decided to try #blacklist. But all we can see is Robert California. #theoffice #forever #wewatchtoomuchtv

Psalm for a Lost Child

A month ago today, my dear friend lost her twelve-year-old son unexpectedly. He went to bed one Friday night in September with a cold, and the next morning, he didn’t wake up.

In my life, I have been shielded, so far, from debilitating griefs like this one. Loss is an ocean, and I am out of my depth as I try to tread this dark water with my friend. I don’t know how to “walk through this” with her, and I’m starting to hate that phrase — as if there is any “getting through” this kind of thing at all. As if I could do this “with” her — as if this were anything but the loneliest kind of grief.

Still, I’m learning to show up in the unknowing. To have the courage to talk and to ask — even if it means I say the wrong things more often than I say the right ones. Most mornings, all I can do is clasp my own remembrance necklace around my neck to remind me to hold the empty space. To remind me to pray. To remind me of Jack.

Today is the one-month anniversary of Jack’s death. Today I’d like to share the piece I wrote for his funeral. This is the best way I know how to join my friends in their pain, to make space, to remember.

photo credit: Filo.mena via photopin cc

photo credit: Filo.mena via photopin cc

If this was your plan, God, it’s a lousy one.

There. I said it.

What sense could there be in taking a healthy twelve-year-old while he sleeps? Contrary to the sympathy cards with their pastel colors and cursive sentiments, I do not believe you needed another angel in your heaven – filled as it is already with so many we have loved and lost.

You were there, God, in the moment Jack stepped from this world to the next, and you did not stop it, did not intervene, did not give us the miracle – and we want to know: What master plan would make this all okay?

You have plunged us into an ocean of grief, and we find ourselves confused and angry, pitched back and forth by questions with no answers. Why and why and why?

Here in this place, Hope feels as small and flimsy as a piece of driftwood.

Let it be enough.

Remind us that, in fact, your plan is not death, not death, never death – only ever redemption. That in spite of all of this grief, you have always been about repairing what was broken, returning what was lost, making things right.

Let this be the solid thing that we cling to, a raft that carries us through the grief. Where there are no answers, Lord, let your Love be the Answer, strong enough to hold the full weight of our anger. Our pain. Our broken, bleeding hearts.

If we’re being honest here, God, Heaven seems like a cheap consolation prize for an empty twin bed, Lightning MacQueen sheets still rumpled and waiting.

Teach us to lie still, our backs against the sturdy raft of incomprehensible hope and look to the sky.

Show us the stars as they come out, both visible and invisible, pinpricks of light scattered across the whole of the dark. Lighting it just a little, just enough. Let those stars be signposts that point us to that foreign city where all is being made right, where we will find each other again.

May heaven become real in our hearts – that place where Jack is running, where Love is winning, where that terrible machine of Pain and Death is being dismantled, finally, one piece at a time.

You are standing at finish line that is also a starting gate. Teary-eyed, open-armed, waving that checkered flag. Calling us home.

One Year Bookaversary

when we were on fire - landscape 2 - smaller

My book is one year old today!

This morning, I went back and re-read the round-up for the When We Were on Fire Syncroblog that we did during release week last year. And I was floored all over again by the wisdom, insight, and clarity of your words.

The details of the stories are all different, and yet there are so many common threads that tie our faith journeys together. Striving and failing. Believing and doubting. Waiting for someone to say You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

If you haven’t read the book yet, this would be a perfect day to order yourself a copy! It’s at Barnes and Noble or IndieBound or Books-a-Million, or of course, that giant mogul Amazon. You can also read more about the book itself here and watch my cobbled together “book trailer” here.

To celebrate one year, I’m going to eat cookies for breakfast. And also give away three copies of When We Were on Fire. To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me something good in your life today.

Thanks for sticking around, friends. It’s been quite a year.

In Transit

photo credit: ** RCB ** via photopin cc

photo credit: ** RCB ** via photopin cc

It’s Sunday afternoon, and both of my flights from Peoria to Minneapolis are delayed.

I’m mostly not bothered by this, though I do wish that there was a restaurant in the Peoria airport. Still, the airport seems as good a place as any to write and watch online TV and recoup from a busy weekend speaking. I learn that my flight has been pushed about the same time that I realize that my only dinner options here are nachos with pumped cheese, heat-lamp pizza, or a bag of Lays. So I decide on wine instead.

There is only one option for red and one for white, and when I order the cab, the woman in fluorescent pink shirt at the bar fills the glass up all the way to the top so that the red wine is flush with the edge. “Wow,” I say, taking a few classless slurps like a puppy before I can finally pick it up and drink it. “For $7.50 a glass, this is how I pour,” she’d said grinning a wide-crooked-tooth smile, her whole face glowing holy in the thrown light of the football game on hanging, sports bar TVs.

And who knows? Maybe it’s that over-filled glass of airport cabernet, or maybe it’s the afterglow of the weekend itself — exhausting and intoxicating and beautiful. Sorting through faith past and present over wood fire pizzas and fancy coffee, heavy chocolate cake and salted caramel ice cream, eating and talking with the pastor and his wife and my childhood best friend late until way past my bedtime. Maybe it was speaking that morning at their beautiful little church, the homeless man in front grinning at me under a mop of unkempt hair, the audience nodding like they understood exactly.

Whatever it is, I can’t seem to stop looking around. I can’t seem to open my computer and make myself write. I want to make small talk with the woman working the bar. She’s having her first baby, her stomach just beginning to round. It’s a boy, she says. We found out early because he was showing it off. I want to talk to the guy next to me, who shows us pictures of his six-month-old daughter and talks about the book he wants to write — the one about his grandfather and the war.

The airport is overheated, and we’re all sweating under the lights, and even though I know it’s perspiration and overhead lighting, it looks to me like they’re glowing. Like they’re straight from an old episode of Touched by an Angel, an open beam of heaven pouring over their seats.

Sometimes I’m stopped still when I ask questions. When I listen. When I stop trying to figure out how to write my own story and listen to someone else’s. So I sit at the airport bar and slurp my extremely full glass of cab, and I am dazzled by the beauty of all these strangers, loved as they are by God, known as they are in all their details. I’m almost disappointed when the flight gets un-delayed, and I have to abandon them mid conversation and hurry to my gate.

But there are people glowing there too — flight attendants talking wryly about the O’Hare delays, rolling their eyes about furious customers. Like we have ANY power to change anything here, they say under their breath to me. Their airport uniforms have little bows tied stiffly under their chins. I ask if they’re itchy. You have no idea. One of them says to me, and then she tags my carry-on and takes it into the airplane for me.

There are six of us on the flight, and it only takes a half hour to cut across the endless farmland between Chicago and Peoria. The thin Indian man who gets off with me has been in town to meet a girl that he met online. How did it go? I ask. He looks at me sadly, Not good, actually. 

We walk at a quick gait through O’Hare, pulling our rolling, carry-on luggage behind us, and he tells me how perfect it seemed in writing, and how quickly it disintegrated. I don’t say much, just listen and nod and make sympathetic sounds.

When it’s time to part ways toward different gates, he turns and says, How do you stay so positive? And this would be a great time to tell him about Jesus if I knew what that meant anymore. Once upon a time, I would have known how to segue a perfectly leading question like that one into a three minute testimony and a quick gospel presentation.

If I said Jesus, it would be the truth…but I don’t think it would sound like truth. It would sound like a sound-byte, a reduction, a cliched religious gold star.

I want to tell him that he is beautiful; that everyone here is so beautiful. That every so often, it feels like the heavens part open Touched-by-an-Angel-style, and I can see everything so clearly: we are all in transit. Weary travelers, being led quietly home.

I want to tell him that I’m thinking of God, that I’m thinking of Love, that I don’t understand how God can be close to all of us at once, but that in this moment, I believe it more deeply than I have in a long time.

Instead I shift and grin dumbly at him. He looks at his watch, Keep smiling, he says. And I do. I smile at the woman in the leather boots and the old man on the electric wheelchair and at the woman at gate C8. Did you have a nice weekend? I ask her. Busy. I was moving, she says, scanning my ticket. Next to her, a tired eyed woman fields an angry call. I can tell because she keeps saying, I’m sorry, sir. I’m sorry. Yes I know. I’m sorry. I ask her about the move and she talks and talks. She tells me about loud neighbors and unpacked boxes and new possibilities, and her eyes shine with hope.

In the waiting area, I smile at the woman next to me, who tells me that she just got a new job in Boston. When she leaves, I smile at another woman, and she tells me that she’s heading to a job interview. So many people. So many stories. Listen, listen, listen.

In transit, I never do tell anyone about Jesus. But it’s like Jesus is telling me about them. It’s like he’s pointing out each person, showing me his great love, one by one, all of us found. One by one, strangers tell me their stories, unbidden, and it’s like God is filling my cup all the way to the tip-top with goodness, like it’s more than I paid for, more than I bargained for.

My flight is two hours delayed, and I am exhausted and happy, knocked off balance by all the beauty. The plane boards, and we all settle into our seats. We are in transit. We are, all of us, on our way home.