A few of our favorite things…

fireworks

Do you want to know something?

I love this space.

This quiet little corner of the internet where we hang out together.

Sometimes people ask me why I write.

There are a few reasons.

I write because it makes me a better listener.

I write because it helps me process life.

I write because it is a non-scary way to share parts of a story that I believe matters.

And I write because every once in a while, I get to share in a sacred moment when you open your heart and I get to hold your story in my hands for just a moment.  I get to tell you that your story matters too.

I love that parts of my story resonate with you—even if the actual details of our lives are very different.

But I never really know which parts those will be.

Sometimes I write something that I think is earth-shattering and y’all already know it.

And sometimes I write something that I’m all “meh” about and it gets spread all around.

So, without further ado, here are the top 5 posts that you liked in 2015:

5. Waiting for the Promise: Foster care, disillusionment and hope

4. Torn: I didn’t even write this post in 2015 and it was one of my most-read. It’s absolutely as true today as it was on the day that I wrote it.

3. On Perspective: This one was a long time in coming. It was tough for me to figure out how to tackle the topic of poverty and privilege honestly without being condescending.

2. The Thing Nobody Tells You: The number one thing that took me by surprise on this foster care journey is how much genuine compassion I would feel for my babies’ birthmoms.

1. You are Beautiful: I guess y’all aren’t all beach people!

So, according to the numbers, those were your favorites this year.  Here are my favorites that didn’t make the cut:

Broken Together: Grief is weird.  But it shows you who’s got your back when the rubber meets the road.

I Met Her Once: Because how can you not love this story?  Seriously.

Loved to the End: If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s this.

Happy New Year, friends!

I hope that it is full of much that you love.

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All is Well (remix)

A few days ago, I wrote this post in a moment of calm before the storm.

It was true then.  And it still is.

It is well.

These are the words I sing this morning.

And they are coming hard.

Because here is the truth today.

I know it sounds melodramatic, but sometimes I honestly cannot imagine a life that is harder than the one that I am living right now.

This life stuck in the interminable wait for paperwork that is overdue.

This life where everyone has an opinion and no one has any particular sense of urgency about a baby who is their job but your life.

This life where all the stories of the little ones—each one sadder than the next, tear your mama-heart to shreds and you feel helpless to do anything.  And you hate that.

These long days with no sun, startled awake by fear that feels ten times bigger in the dark.

Fear, still, that you will love and lose.

Fear that will not leave until you say his name one hundred times.  Maybe one thousand.

Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.

These days with a little one who doesn’t so much believe in sleep.

And a bigger one who is triggered by all the things at Christmas.

(And I say this with all the kindness in my heart, but until you have loved and parented a child from a hard place, don’t you dare tell me that “all kids are.”  You.  Have.  No.  Idea.)

These days when you look in the refrigerator and there is no milk, so you have no choice but to corral three grumpy people and make an appearance in a public place.  For a blessed gallon of milk.

My life is full of much that I love.

And some days it feels so very, very hard.

And still I sing.

Because it is true.

In a way that has nothing to do with me.

In the calm before the storm.  In the eye of the storm.  In the carnage and the rebuilding.

It is true.

Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on you.

And it is well with me.

All is Well

All is well.

This is the song that I hear on the way home tonight.

And I know that it is true.

True in the now.

True in the not yet.

All is well.

The words seem right on this day of staying in pajamas until the afternoon.

This day of frozen pizza and afternoon naps and shared giggles in the back seat.

This day of a little one who gives me sloppy kisses right on my mouth.

And a bigger one who chooses to talk about the Big Feelings instead of letting them fester.

This day of wrapping presents at the eleventh hour and calling it good enough.

All is well.

Two of my sweet friends catch me tonight at church and ask me how I am.

They know my story.

They expect me to tell the truth and raise an eyebrow when I say I am fine.

But, today, this is true.

I look around and see that much is un-well.

The big things, yes.

And so, so many things that don’t make the news.

The little ones torn away from all that they’ve known.  One week before Christmas.

The mamas and daddies stuck in a cycle of violence and addiction.

Human beings who love and hurt and know that they are not doing the right thing.

And still can’t break out.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

All of us.

Not just the ones gathered in sanctuaries, lighting candles tonight.

All is well in the not yet too.

When redemption wins for good.

And the little ones are all home.

And addiction loses its power forever in the light of love.

Emmanuel.

All is well.

Undivided

We think we get more done when we multi-task.

Sometimes we even brag about how busy we are.  Doing all the things.

But, I know, the days that I feel the most frazzled and irritable are the days that I spend trying to make doctor’s appointments and text with social workers during my lunch break.

The days that I rush to finish up one last work e-mail as my daughter begs to tell me all the third grade drama from lunch.

Blessed are the pure in heart, he says (Matthew 5:8).

The ones undivided.

With a single purpose.  A single pursuit.

This kind of purity is one hundred times harder than the kind that we talk about with awkward, gender-segregated groups of hormonal teenagers.  (Although I must give a shout out to my mom and youth leaders for having those conversations with my sullen, adolescent self.  I imagine that they saved me a lot of mess.)

This kind of purity is not about how much we can get away with and still be ok.

In fact, it’s not about what we DO at all.

It’s about an undivided heart.

A single eye.

A life centered on just one thing.

Blessed are the pure in heart, he says,

for they shall see God.

Because, friends, here’s the thing.

Once again this God-man is asking us to do something impossible.

Except

Jesus.

Isn’t it always except Jesus?

This call to purity is not about rules.

It’s not about behavior.

It’s about surrender.

Again.

About rescue.  Transformation.

About seeing through redemptive eyes and speaking grace-filled words and touching with healing hands when we don’t have any of those things.

Except Jesus.

Blessed are the pure in heart

for they shall see God, he says.

Indeed, if we are truly looking when we ask for a heart undivided,

There is no doubt—we already have.

When the call is to stay

He is a crazy man living among the dead.  (Mark 5)

But Jesus sees beyond the crazy.

He calls the man’s demons by name and sends them hurtling over a cliff in a herd of pigs.

Now he is just a man.

A man with a story.

The crowd begs Jesus to leave.  They are not sure what to do with him here.

Often the call is to follow.

Perhaps the man knows this.

In any case, he asks to go along.  To follow.

But today, here, the call is different.

No, no.  Jesus says.

Stay here.  Go home.

Tell your story.

Not to the ends of the earth (at least not today).

But to your family.  To your neighbors.

Tell of God’s mercy here.

I’ve written before of my pull toward wanderlust.

I want to go.  To follow.

But this story lodges in my head this morning.

No, no.  I hear him say.

Stay here.  Go home.

Tell your story.

It doesn’t feel big.  Or loud.  Or particularly important.

In fact, it feels downright hard in the normalist possible way.

But, friends, it matters.

Telling of God’s mercy here.

When the call is to stay.