Category Archives: Relationships

One in a trabillionzillion <3

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I was trying to think what to send you and I keep pushing away this little story, but it persists in rising to the top and so I am going to share it. 

Do you ever have things happen that are just so sweet and tender that you almost want to hide them away in your heart? I do.

I never want to betray the sacred ground of our family life for a story and yet God seems to give me such moments to share with you – maybe something you can relate to…maybe He has a word of encouragement for you…maybe just to make you smile and think on good things in a world that is becoming increasingly hard and divided. 

So here is my little gift to you today from my heart.

A couple of months ago when I was spending the day with our crew, Graham took a super close zoom in on my face and very sweetly pointed out that I had something on one of my front teeth. 

I asked him if he was seeing a little divot near the bottom edge of the tooth and yes, that was it. 

I told him I have always had that. Some dentist along the way told me my permanent tooth had been delayed coming in and that caused this kind of chipped spot.

 I don’t know if he was correct in that diagnosis, but over the years various other dentists have offered to fill it in if I would like but I told them no. 

Graham seemed fascinated that I would pass on having this little mar fixed. 

I can understand why he would be surprised since I can’t bear having a spot on my clothes or a mascara smear at the corner of my eye and can waste a huge amount of time stressing over a chunk of hair that is stubbornly refusing to join ranks with the rest of my head. 

As he looked at me like I had suddenly grown a third eye in addition to my chipped tooth, I explained to him how I kind of love that little blemish for some reason.

 It is like a familiar friend to me and I always felt like it gave my ordinary features something special and unique. It was how God made my tooth and I actually love my little chip.

I totally forgot about the conversation and for story purposes, you need to as well….

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and another day with the band of brothers and Little Miss Thing. 

We were driving in the van and from the far recesses of the back, Graham asked me if I ever noticed he has a bald spot. 

Well, I did know that he has a tiny place on the side of his head near his temple where hair just never has grown. I noticed it first a few years ago and had asked Rachel if he or another Kindergartner had taken a scissor to it because he seemed self conscious about making sure it was covered. She told me he had always had it and yes, he was embarrassed when people noticed and commented.

So with this memory popping up, I immediately began to downplay any recollection of having noticed this on his precious head. 

Instantly he stopped me in my tracks. 

Oh no Lola!!! I do have a spot…it’s like the chip in your tooth. God made me that way. It makes me special and unique.

Even as I tell you this, I have a big lump in my throat and tears brimming thinking of the joy in his voice as he shared my own words right back to me. 

I took a peek in the rearview mirror at his beaming face as I asked him…Graham! Have you come to love your little bald spot the way I love my tooth? 

Nodding enthusiastically he replied with a happy….. Yes

Oh my word…such a moment. 

There are so many things about myself I wish were not so. 

Not just physical things, but ways I am wired and driven. 

And yes, God is in the business of transforming me more and more into the image of Christ. 

But how fun when He helps me see that some of my flaws and shortcomings (not my sins…just my human “stuff”)  are just the ways He has made me unique and different from everyone else so that we can all come together and add our flavor to the Body of Christ <3 

What’s your little imperfection or quirk that God has shown you makes you unique and uses to encourage all the other works-in-progress who share the journey each day?

Can we learn to love how we were fashioned because we love the One who made us this way? I hope so. 

You are unique and one of a kind beautiful and you are loved <3

Another year is in the books…Christmas recap and moving forward into 2019

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We packed away 2018 this week.

Another coffee stained devotional finished…another 365 days of life lived.

So before we move on into what 2019 will be, I’m taking a moment to give a glimpse into our Christmas this year in case you want to take notes and start planning.

I jest.

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My photos are characterized by bad lighting…constant movement…and anything but a picture perfect event.

Please note Elmo face down against a mug of cold coffee….or egg nog…or apple cider…or who knows what …Tia’s current novel…two calendars going…rotting bananas…and G is down at the end using all my foil to fashion action figures which Tia then decided to hide all over the house and has requested remain until she returns….

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I did have plenty o’help in preparing dinner….

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And the non-food “crackers” were once again the best part of the meal…

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although we each have our own unique style for sporting a crown…

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and one of us just never took her’s off…

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We hugged a lot…

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took some walks to burn off energy…

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hugged some more…

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played games…

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and music…

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and put on puppet shows…

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and when we got bored with the toys, we made our own fun…

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Zach stepped even further into the role of girl-dad…and untangled a princess’s hair from the infernally frustrating packaging she came imprisoned in.

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While Miss Caroline patiently waited…

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We made room for each other…

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and while the pictures may not be perfect, nor the people in them…we thank God for the gift of family that He has given us and we look forward with great hope and expectation for how He will continue to show up and show us how to love well in 2019…

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Wrapping up the Countdown <3

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We have come to the final verse of John 17 and our Countdown is ended. 

My heart feels much like our home looks…bits and scraps of wrapping paper lie here and there…boxes with tissue and gift receipts are stacked near every chair and on either side of the couch. Remnants of various bags of treats are scattered amongst clean dishes waiting to be put away. 

The departure of one child to head back to her own home and life is ticking away in my heart far too quickly as she will load up her car in a matter of hours. 

And yes, this was Christmas. 

We have laughed and eaten and celebrated and now we will hug our goodbyes and separate and live out where God has placed each of us. 

Our time together is tucked away in a crowded treasure box in our hearts and we will call on those memories when we cannot tangibly reach over and take hold of a hand or give a tight squeeze as we take turns filling another coffee mug or sharing a puzzle to work on. 

And in a similar way, we say goodbye to our time shared this Advent season looking at Jesus’ tender prayer in the Garden.

I have loved so much sharing the thoughts He prayed for His disciples…His loving words for the eleven who had remained with Him and the many who believed then and have believed in the centuries since…including you and I and all who will believe until He returns.

Our final verse is John 17:26

And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

NKJV

I told them what you are like, and I will them even more. Then the love that you have for me will become part of them, and I will be one with them. 

CEV

Eugene Peterson has a lovely way of tying this together in his commentary notes following this prayer:

And as he prayed, he gathered up the life they had lived together and fused it into the life the disciples would continue to live, praying his life work and their life work into an identity. It was going to be the same life whether people saw and heard Jesus living it or would see and hear the disciples living it.  

The Message, Eugene Peterson; NavPress, 2007, 2012. p 1672

Jesus did not rely on memories or human recollection to equip His disciples and followers. He gave us Himself.

Through His death and Resurrection, He has sent us the Holy Spirit to live in us who believe. 

The living and active Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus the Son…the Triune God…lives in each of us when we receive the gift of salvation through grace and faith. 

He guides us and leads us and teaches each one of us, so that we are equipped to be the living example of Jesus Christ in this world.

Peterson concludes his commentary with these words. 

The pattern holds: Whatever we do in Jesus’ name, we begin on our knees before our friends and neighbors and conclude ‘looking up to heaven’ praying to our Father. Washing dirty feet and praying to the Holy Father bookend our lives.   

THE MESSAGE, EUGENE PETERSON; NAVPRESS, 2007, 2012. P 1672

As you wash sheets and empty the dishwasher, vacuum the crumbs from under the table and haul the tree out to the curb…as you return to your desk or wave a loved one off to their own journey…I pray you will know the Christ of Christmas has never left you. 

So I close out our Countdown with this beautiful prayer of blessing over us from the author of the book of Hebrews:

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen <3

Hebrews 13:20 NKJV

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 24

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Christmas Eve…2018

We are hours away from having every single member of our family in the same four walls for the first time since one year ago today. 

My heart swells with so many emotions…

gratitude that this will happen again another year…

a tender respect for the fact that we are not guaranteed a repeat next year, or in truth, ever again here on planet earth.

I also weep empathetic tears for those who are living that reality for the first time..or the tenth time…or the twentieth time this Christmas. 

Life and relationships and we…my friends…are fragile. 

And we take what we get with open hands and thankful hearts as we keep our eyes on the One who secured for us our real and eternal future.

This longing in our hearts to be gathered together…this is His heart for us.

Father, I want everyone you have given me to be with me wherever I am. Then they will see the glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the world was created. 


John 17:24 CEV

I get that.

From a human standpoint I understand that desire to want my people with me but I have to lean hard into Christ to understand the depth of what He is saying that far exceeds my flesh and blood heart ability to love and care for and tend and enjoy and serve those I love. 

Because I love selfishly. 

I love because of feelings and emotions and experiences. 

He loves because God loved Him before the world was created.

He loves because He is love….perfect love. 

A love that is so far beyond my comprehension and ability and yet through Him, I too can love better…higher…unselfishly. 

When I choose to abide…live…walk…journey…in Him and with Him…I see the glory of who He is and that love transforms me and His love flows through me. 

In this season of remembering that He came to show us how…can we all embrace the way He has embraced us to His heart?

As we receive Him as a baby in the manger, let us crown Him King and LORD over all that we are and all we hold dear.

Heavenly Father, my heart is filled with joy today at the prospect of gathering with the family You have blessed us with.

But Lord, it is heavy for those who gather with an empty chair or more.

We know so many have lost family this year.

Mostly in a timing that to our human hearts was far too early.

I pray Your comfort and peace to rest solid in these homes as I picture sweet and precious faces who are moving on into what life looks like without the earthly presence of one so dear to them.

Lord, You are the God of Comfort and Peace.

Reign in our hearts as we hold together in tender prayer and the unity of belief that we will see them one day when You come and gather us one last time…together…forever.

In the Name of Him who died and now lives for us, Jesus Christ, the Messiah…Immanuel…God with us.

Amen <3

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 22

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pc/Cindie Zelhart

In the past week, a couple of friends have texted me pictures with a few of the dates I need.

One was in the airport when she realized her gate was 21. She sent me a photo and when I texted back right away another friend had already covered that, she sent me 22 and 23 just as she was boarding. 

I love it. 

I love it so much that some friends have been thinking about the countdown and noticing numbers and remembering my request…it means that they have been reading and following the passages and it means that God has connected our hearts through His Word throughout this crazy busy holiday countdown…and that is what the Journey is all about to me. 

Yes, I am tapping away here with sloppy tears and a million things I need to accomplish today, but all of it is pointless if we are not linking arms along the way as we follow THE Way. 

It is the heart of Christ that we be united in thinking about Him. He is in the ministry of equipping us to be unified…

and so Jesus continued His prayer for us with these words…

And the glory which You have gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one….

Jesus shares it all with us, you know. 

All of it. 

All the glory the Father gave to the Son, the Son gives to us. 

The one big happy family all of our hearts long to belong to…is found in Christ alone. 

Let’s remember to be filled up with that truth so that when we go out into our earthly family gatherings…or gatherings with friends…

sitting in pews or around a card table…

opening gifts or putting our end of year offering in the plate…

munching on sugar cookies or taking the bread and cup as it is passed…

we belong to the family of God through the finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

And because of this, we love others well…because He first loved us.

All the praise and glory and honor are due Him, who gave His all…HIS ALL…for all of us <3