Embrace the Best

I really like the word embrace. Besides the clear message of love and affection that it brings to mind, there is an intentionality to it that challenges me.
At our wedding, my husband Jeff and I danced our first dance to the popular 80′s song, Just You & I. We chose it for this line: “And I remember our first embrace, the smile that was on your face, the promises that we made.”
I did! I remembered our first embrace. It came before our first kiss and meant a lot more.
To embrace a thing is to hold onto it whole-heartedly. Both arms. That’s the thing. It takes starting with empty arms. In order to embrace whole-heartedly something has to get put down. . . 
Read the rest of this post over at the God-sized Dreams community!

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The Day After

It's the day after Winsome. I learned last year, that this can be a dangerous day for me. Adrenaline, prayers, and God have carried me through the past four days. Now that Winsome is over, my body puts on the brakes.

But while my body is crashing, my mind and heart refuse to slow down. They're a messy mix of joy, gratitude, questions, answers, anticipation, fear, some more gratitude, and more questions. Much like the disorganized boxes that fill my dining room, these thoughts and emotions will take some time to process through.

What needs to stay boxed up and dealt with later when my energy and brain cells are back?

What needs to be unboxed and get my immediate attention?

What do I want to carefully unpack, hold, and sit with for awhile, remembering all that went in to preparing it and how God used it?

And there's some trash. In our hurry to tear down, it made it's way into our boxes. It doesn't belong in the boxes or my mind. It will only take up space that should be occupied by good memories, beauty, and purpose. I don't need to ask what to do with it. It gets thrown out.

There are lessons in those boxes too. Things that could have been done better or different. And things that were done just right. I need to take note.

They will take some time to process . . the boxes and my thoughts. And that's okay. I can live with the messiness for now. Processing slow is the best way.

Because whatever they contain and however messy they are, they are evidence and testimony to a weekend full of beauty brought, brokenness bound, hearts wooed, friendships strengthened and born . . . and a Father madly in love with His daughters.

Mom, You're Enough

Sam's half-numb smile.

"Can you please come back?"

Hurriedly, I grab my bag and walk back to where I just left Sam minutes earlier after reassuring him I'd be in the waiting room. "If you want me just point, and someone will come get me."

"He wants you here," the dentist says, as I sit in the chair they've set just outside the room.

"I'm here, Buddy." I reassure him from behind in the hopes that my voice will be enough to set him at ease.

My presence. That's all I can give him.

The dentist continues her procedure. I watch. His foot wiggles and shakes. His hand tenses and squeezes his leg. And with every motion my teeth clench and my stomach knots.

I'm a mom. So his pain hurts me.

Sam is 11 years old and enduring a root canal. Plagued with teeth problems for years, his pediatric dentist says it's due to him being born prematurely . . that his teeth didn't get sufficient enamel. I'm sure being the youngest and having a mom who is a tad less vigilant with diet and dental care on number six than she was on kids one to five doesn't help. But I'll take the dentist's explanation and anything to relieve mom-guilt!

"Do you feel pain?" she asks.

He nods. I frown. He's always had trouble getting numb. He's one tough kid! His dentist says he's better than 99% of the adults she sees.

So I sit. And pray that God would guide her hands and keep him calm and lessen his discomfort.

She keeps asking him if he's okay. He keeps saying, "Uh, huh." I love that kid.

I'm not used to sitting still and doing nothing (hence I type out this post with thumbs on my iPhone). I'm a fixer. But I'm not a dentist, and I can't do root canals.

Even though he can't see me, Sam wants me near. That's all I can give and as far as I can go to "fix" this trying situation for my son.

I want to go rub his foot like I did earlier when he was being shot up with Novocain. But I'd get in the way. So I sit.

Soon enough it's over, and my warrior rises from the chair battle worn but triumphant. And still smiling.

But he's not offering to show the dentist card tricks like he was when we arrived. He's ready to go!

On the drive home I praise him for being strong. And then I ask him, "Why'd you want me back there with you?"

"I just did."

"It can be scary, huh?"

"I wasn't scared. I just wanted you there."

And a window opens in my never enough paradigm. A possibility.

My presence. Not my work. Not my words. Not even my touch. Just my presence.

It is enough.

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and other mothers celebrating her new book Surprised by Motherhood. Go here to read the first few chapters and join the link up . . . what's surprised you about motherhood?

Five Minute Friday: Willing

Five Minute Friday

It's where bloggers write for 5 minutes flat . . no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Click on the button to read more thoughts on willing.

I think He set us up, people. NO disrespect intended, but come on! It's pretty obvious.

He calls us to a walk that is impossible to sustain on our own. Then He plants dreams in our hearts that take us to the end of ourselves way faster than our own meager ambitions ever did.

It's the kind of life that will crush us if we try to walk it alone. In our own strength.

Yes, I'm sure of it. He's strategized, ordained, intended and willed to bring me to the end of myself.

Where all I have left is my weak will. The strength to show up and surrender all my hopes, efforts, and dreams. 

Where my flesh bows out, my spirit joins hands with His, and we walk . . together.

God-Sized Dreams . . Rerouted

Long layovers, rerouted plans, canceled flights, and different routes. These are the "as we speak" common experiences of 13 of my friends who just spent a restful, inspiring weekend with one another in Branson, MO. 

But as we spread across the midwest, south and east headed home, weather challenges aren't the only thing we have in common. We are all God-sized dreamers. And our dreams, along with Holley Gerth's words, brought us and about ninety more like us together over a year ago. That meeting didn't take place in Missouri but rather all over the country as women bravely showed up on a Facebook group and began to tentatively share and encourage one another in their dreams. 

A year later, many of those dreams have morphed. Some have come true. All have been challenged. And the dreamers have grown individually and in community. That's what this weekend was celebrating.

Holley Gerth's book You're Made for A God-Sized Dream was released one year ago on March 1. Yesterday on March 1, just a small representation of the fruit of Holley's book was shared around two tables. Dreams discovered, dreams evolved, dreams exchanged, and hearts encouraged.

The God-Sized Dream Team applications we filled out over a year ago asked what our dream was. Yesterday, some of us couldn't remember what we'd written, but all of us have spent the year stepping toward our dreams. And while our path today might not look like the one we imagined a year ago, we are all better for the journey.

We've had long layovers as we waited unsure of what the waiting was for. Our plans have been rerouted by all sorts of trials, big and small. Some of our "flights" have been canceled and we've had to look for new routes. But along the way, we've discovered peace and rest in the waiting, unknown strength in the trials, and friends and experience we wouldn't have known had we not been rerouted. 

Walking in your dreams is hard. The unknown is scary, and no matter how well we plan, it doesn't take long to realize our plans are tentative at best. 

But while the details may be complicated, I think the key to dreaming and seeing them come true is very simple. You show up and bring your best. Over and over and over again.

And along the way, you look for the blessing in the unexpected layovers, cancellations, and rerouting. 

My connecting flight was canceled today, so tonight I'll share dinner with my brother-in-law's family in Chicago. It wasn't at all what I had planned. It's better.

DayspringRevell Publishing generously sponsored our God-Sized Dream Team weekend and shared copies of Holley's newest book, You're Going to Be Okay, and I'm giving it away! Enter below for a chance to win!

Holley will be sharing her words at Winsome in just five short weeks! It's not too late to join us. Go here for more information!

In Between

Five Minute Friday

It's where bloggers write for 5 minutes flat . . no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Click on the button to read more thoughts on encouragement.

WARNING: there is nothing profound or even slightly inspirational in my 5 Minute Friday post this week (unless you are also a delinquent Christmas putter-awayer . . in that case you might be encouraged).  That's the thing about free-writing, you don't know what will come out.

BUT there is something WILDLY exciting and inspiring happening over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, the founder of 5 Minute Friday!

PLEASE check out her post here and then if you feel like being mildly amused . . read on ;)

There are two feet of snow outside as the wind howls and the weather man tells us it's not over yet. Spring is a hopeful dream held by some colorful, withering primroses on the antique ironing board in my sunroom.

Can I tell you a secret? Not all of my Christmas decorations have been put away. Little by little they've migrated to my formal dining/catch all room. They await my motivation and the basement boxes. It might be awhile.

Snow makes me hold on to all that's warm, cozy and involving hot drinks, books and my couch. But all these snow days have slowed my progress toward spring.

Nevertheless, delinquent and left over decorations aside, I know it will come. The snow will melt and one day I'll find a burst of strength, stuff away winter's remnants and turn over the soil of my yard and my soul. It will be time for seed planting and new dreams. 

The garden of my heart can feel it coming!

Spring is coming, and I'd love for you to kick it off with me and my friends at Winsome in Manns Choice, PA on April 4-6! Bestselling Author & Speaker, Holley Gerth will be joining us this year! Early Bird prices are still available through February 22! Click on the logo below for all the info! 

A Good Fix

I was born to fix things, problems, people.

As the oldest child, I slipped right into my role as dutiful daughter and older sister. When my mom and dad would fight, I lay in bed strategizing how I could fix it. When my little sister got hit by a neighborhood bully, I was out the door with fire and vengeance . . justice would be had. In school, I loved the tests where the teacher would give you partial credit if you corrected (aka fixed) the problems you got wrong. 

My fixing ways deepened as I grew. When my husband and I fought, I would lay in bed strategizing how I could fix us. When my kids started running into trouble, I fell full force into fixing them too.

Fortunately, I was blessed with many challenges in marriage and all the "troubles" of raising six children. Fixing was becoming a full-time job. Before long it was more than full-time, and I was headed for a life of overwhelmed delusion or the white flag of surrender. Thankfully, I chose surrender.

And I began to learn the value of broken things . . and people.

Now when I am faced with things that previously I would have felt needed fixing, I see opportunity. There's a time for fixing, but a premature fix can be more damaging than a break. The God who was willing to be broken Himself can do amazing things with surrender in broken places. 

As much as we might think we would love to have all our problems fixed, hindsight tends to show us otherwise. So much of our growth, character and deepest treasures have arisen from the broken places. Nobody really wants a quick fix. It is as worthless as it is inauthentic. Aching hearts long for empathy not simple solutions.

Watching a loved one struggle is painful. But how often is my desire to "fix" their problem, really a desire to protect my own heart from their pain. Might real love be willing to simply be with a friend in the breaking? To walk in the dark valley holding up hope and hands until the light dawns.

In the broken places of life encouraging words and the reassurance of constant love may just be the best fix we can offer.