Hiding in Plain Sight

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A ring of keys swung from her hip, and I could hear her clinking down the hall long before she came into view. Her name was Ida, and she was the geriatric security guard employed by my high school to police the front doors. We held opposing goals; mine was to avoid her and all other adults while slipping in through the triple set of front doors of the red brick school building.

Her goal was to catch me…

To read the rest of the post, join me at More to Be.

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Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Shannan Martin’s fantastic new book Falling Free: Rescued from the life I always wanted.  Leave a comment on the blog or on my Facebook page for a chance to win. I’ll choose the lucky winner on Wednesday, October 5th.

On Transformation and Weakness Made Strong

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“Now that I look back, it seems to me that in all that deep darkness a miracle was preparing.” ~Marilyn Robinson in Gilead

We’ve easily spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on her smile. First it was the headgear, then pulled teeth, then braces, and retainers, and unbelievably, braces again. I need a part-time job to afford this child’s teeth. Her brother, fourteen and already free from the shackles of brackets and wires, teases her. She hates it, and smirks when she discovers a fifth grader she coaches will have their braces removed before her second set comes off.

She is a seventeen and over it.

She doesn’t smile the way she used to–open-lipped, wonderful, wide. She is closed-mouthed, covering the scaffolding of her teeth with pursed lips. She is not a child who should keep her mouth shut. She is all things bright and beautiful, and her new Mona Lisa smile is too subtle, too unlike her in every way. She is laughter. Now, she is laughter compressed, caught behind a cage.

I can’t relate to the frustration of finally achieving straight rows, and then beginning the process all over again because your teeth simply won’t behave. I never wore braces, but I have perfected my own Mona Lisa smile. It’s the smile that covers up the change taking place behind it. The smile that hides the weakness beneath the surface, and the complicated system I’ve rigged up to manage this perceived weakness.

I am weakness made strong in Christ.

I know this, but often, I don’t live this way. I forget that the agent of change in my life is not the systems I’ve created or the people I love or my inner drive for perfection. It is the power of God come alive in me through Christ. It is sufficient grace.

Transformation begins in the quiet chambers, in the deep darkness, but it doesn’t remain silent. It can’t be covered up by a pursed lip or a cupped hand or status symbols or false humility or aspirational quotes or trick mirrors. Transformation is ugly before it is beautiful. Our metamorphosis through faith can’t be contained. It is weakness made strong, crooked made straight, darkness made light. It is a miracle preparing.

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Coming soon: A giveaway of Shannan Martin‘s new book Falling Free. I received an advanced copy, and I wrestled with it for weeks. Shannan and her family left behind their comfortable jobs and their idyllic life on beautiful patch of farmland, to live among the urban poor and work in prison ministry. This book will shake you up, and quite honestly, I needed the shaking. Maybe you do too?

Three Strategies for Dealing with our Kids’ Mistakes

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Before I had children, I assumed if you raised them right and prayed enough and set the very best example, they’d skip the rebellious stage. The lying stage. The sneak out and drink, or swear or post terrible things on social media, stage. They’d love God and love me, and I’d pat myself on the back in my gray-haired years on a job well done.

I think you know where this is going…

Join me at For Her to read the rest of the story and receive a little hope for the battle-weary mom.

When You Don’t Want Summer to End: A Serenade for the Seasons

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Come mid-August, I’m ready for the return of structured days. I’m ready for yellow buses and quiet hours and watching my kids play sports under a canopy of burnt orange leaves. I’m ready for early mornings and rain-soaked skies and school books fanned out across the dining room table. Did I mention I’m ready for the quiet? I love the muted hum that enters with the advent of Autumn.

My kids begin school in two weeks, and for the first time in many years, I want to tug the curtain back on the new day dawning, exposing us to more sunshine and summer. I blinked and an invisible hand drew the drapes on this season. This year, I’m not only saying farewell to summer, I’m also saying goodbye to this season of parenting. This abundant season when all my children live under my roof, needing me, wanting my time, my approval, my attention.

My oldest enters her senior year of high school in two weeks, and she is ready. I am ready. All is as it should be, but knowing this doesn’t remove the taste of it from my mouth. It is, like most things in life, bittersweet. We are moving into a new season, and the bright blooms of summer will fade, the sun will play hide and seek, and the child of my heart will trim away the strings that tie her to me.

I want to lament the passage of time, but I would be wrong to wish for anything other than life as it is today. This season is so good–so very hard, but so very good. Next summer, my daughter will pack her life and all of my love in a few cardboard boxes and drive into the beginning of the rest of her life. I hope she’ll remember how I used to sing her to sleep. How my life was spent as a serenade to the changing seasons.

Faking it since 1975

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My oldest daughter is guiding me through a reading of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. She read and analyzed the novel for English class in the spring, and initially, I promised to read alongside her to keep her company among the pages. Life intervened, and three months and a rather large library fine later, I’m finally sitting down to read the book long after she finished it. Saturday night, I texted her while she was on a date: “What is the significance of …. Is that just a weird detail or is it meaningful?” She replied that it was important, and it is a “known thing”. Known to whom, I’m not sure. Certainly not to her mother with the questionable education in English Literature.

My child is sixteen and far more educated than me in many ways. This causes no end of internal conflicts for me as the “authority” figure around this joint. In conversations with her about her school work, I find myself standing in the kitchen holding a greasy spatula or an over-flowing laundry basket wondering what I have to offer her. I often feel as if I’m missing the “known thing”, and I’m winging it on the general knowledge of spot removal, one thousand ways to cook chicken, and how not to tend a garden.

I told a friend recently, “I’m not above faking it,” and I realized this has unexpectedly become my rallying cry.  So far, my faking it has kept most of my former patients out of the morgue, three kids thriving across three countries, my marriage and home (mostly) intact, and my relationships breathing oxygenated air. Inexplicably, faking it has also landed me in a master of fine arts program for creative writing. Apparently, they are unaware I spent the better part of the ’90’s reading questionable novels with a healthy side of People magazine.

I find myself faking it a lot on this journey to discovering the “known thing”. As a kid, I naively believed that once I became an adult I would know everything–I would draw closer to flawless wisdom with age. And the more I age, the more I realize how far from flawless, how far from wise, how far from knowledgeable I truly am. The answers I once held fast, unravel with a swift tug. The facts and figures once memorized, drift away on a constant stream of new information. The dreams and plans I made, continue to shape-shift like shadows at sunset.

My hope is that faking it will eventually lead to doing it. And doing it will eventually lead to mastering it–mastering the mystery of the known thing. It takes humility to let my children lead me into the knowing, but I believe I’m better for it. And certainly more well read.

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Are you learning anything in unexpected places?