Running again

I’ve started running again. Not too much and not too far, but I’m doing the motions. My ankle protests and my body isn’t sure, but my heart remembers.

I started running when I was 42 years old. After my last two challenging pregnancies, I was heavy and tired and determined to feel like me again. I went back to my aerobics class and I started running. And I unexpectedly fell in love with early morning runs. I love the quiet and the time to think and pray. I love the energizing work and the discipline. I love being outside with the stars and the rising sun.

If you know me well, you know that not much keeps me from my class or stops me from walking out that door in the morning. But a broken ankle did.

Did you wonder when you heard I broke my ankle? Did you wonder what God was doing? I could hardly believe the fall–it wasn’t a stumble or even just a slip but like having a rug ripped out from under me. Sudden and hard and fast. Then our van quit in Charlotte and has needed several repairs since then. My son broke his hand and needed surgery. My husband’s job is hanging by a thread with four lay-offs in the last year and another announcement that one is coming in November. Marissa’s surgery (the one they told us was her chance of cure) was cancelled at the last minute.

Are you wondering? Does it sometimes feel like God is not answering our prayers?

Please don’t be discouraged. And don’t you worry about us. This is our assignment, our story.  We don’t understand all of the plot. None of us knows what God is doing. We just don’t and we might not ever. We need to be ok with that.

Because we know Him, don’t we?

We are getting to know Him and His faithful heart. We are learning to trust in His eternal purpose whether or not we can see it. We are learning to trust in His providence whether or not it measures up to our idea of good. We are learning to rest in His love that never lets go.

Don’t stop praying. Pray that God will accomplish every single thing He intends. Go ahead and pray for miracles and good news and relief. Pray for His mighty healing power to be shown. But pray deeper, friends. Pray for submission and peace and joy in the trial. Pray that our faith will not fail.

Maybe part of faith is just getting back up each day and living out your story. Maybe it’s just putting one foot in front of the other even when you’re stiff and tired and hurting. Maybe it’s limping along until the heart remembers.

Maybe some days faith means just standing up and starting to run again.

I was pushed hard so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. Psalm 118:13

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1










I remember

There are moments we never forget. Moments of struggle and moments of surrender and moments of sweet peace. Pain and beauty and joy.

I remember the sunny July day I wore a white dress and said yes to a lifetime promise. I remember driving in the rusted car away from all that was known to something distant and unsure, heart beating fast as the miles rolled by. I remember our first home and the hand-made curtains and the growing up. So much growing up in that little place. There were years without children and fear that they would never come. But then they came and I remember.

I remember the miracles.

I remember life then. Sweet and simple. Babies and toddlers and small ones. Tripping over toys and never getting enough sleep and holding hands. Laughter and spilled milk and Good-night Moon.

And we were blessed.

There was heart-ache, too. I remember my Daddy’s last breath and twin babies who fell asleep before they saw the sun and a prodigal boy. And all the normal hard, all the daily hard of living and loving.

I remember a curly-headed young woman, just waking up to a beautiful life, sitting on a table and being told she had cancer. I remember falling hard into this valley we’re still walking in.

I remember pain and wet tears and struggling to stand.

But what I remember most is God’s faithfulness. The miracle of a changed and growing heart. The forgiveness of my deepest sin. The guiding hand to lead our way. The assurance of His covenant love. Learning His heart and opening mine to Him. Being held in the palm of His hand.

His faithfulness in all of it.

I remember. I will never forget. For all my days and in every moment, I remember.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. Psalm 143:5







Every bush is burning

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Fall is here and beginning to change our corner of the world. The color is creeping in and will soon explode into joyous masterpiece. We wait for it expectantly. Even in our frantic living, we are waiting.

There is something about autumn that reaches the heart. What is it about dying leaves infused with color? About living plants preparing to sleep awhile? About crisp air driving us inside to home and hearth?

Autumn is a gift from One who knows all about living and dying and our need for beauty and warmth. We see Him in all the details. Every bush is burning.

Don’t you see Him?

We ran away for a few days to the mountains. (We were supposed to go the ocean before Marissa’s surgery, but October seems to be a good month for hurricanes.) It is so peaceful here and we are soaking up togetherness, soaking up family. Soaking up the earth afire with God.

We see Him, and our shoes are off.

We are still a little stunned at the change of plans for Marissa. Our goal was to finish chemotherapy and get through the surgery. Radiation was only to finish off the plan, and now it is the only plan. We are grateful for the clear bone scan and thankful Marissa doesn’t have to go through an unnecessary surgery. But her body is tired of chemo, and it seems she will need to deal with it for a good while yet. This cancer is so aggressive, and we know there is only One who can heal her.

The One who sets the earth afire.

My son broke his thumb this week, and my ankle is slowly healing. The approaching hurricane kept us from the ocean, and our family will be separated for most of the next six weeks. This world is sick and confusing and so often sad. Marissa’s cancer just refuses to retreat.

But the earth is afire with God. We see Him all around. We trust the Creator of storms and color and beauty. We have seen His redemptive work, and we believe in His promises. We have felt the cold and dark, sick places in our hearts come alive in Him. We have seen the broken healed and the blind made to see. We are witnesses to His majesty and power. We know Him, and we are known by Him.

This is His world. His beauty.  We are His people, and this is His storm. We see Him, and we are waiting expectantly. The whole earth is groaning.

Every bush is burning.

Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:24

Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36






Happy birthday

For Rissa on her 26th birthday

Remember last year? (And how could you forget?) We were reeling with shock and sadness and it was raining, constantly raining, and we were filling the days with doctor appointments and tests and scans and worry. And it just kept raining.

A soft and gentle God-is-crying-with-you kind of rain.

And your birthday was coming. You weren’t sick and it was hard to believe something so evil was lurking. It was so hard to believe. There was a heaviness that I can’t explain. Even now I can feel that first-week heaviness and the helplessness of sinking down.

But it was your birthday. So we celebrated. Remember the hurricane and the cancelled party at the park and the Howells opening up their home so that we wouldn’t all be washed away? Do you remember all the people who came to say “Happy birthday?” And the sad looks not quite hidden behind the birthday hugs?

Because you are loved.

Loved by your people and loved by your God. And it matters, because it means you are never alone.

And now it is time to celebrate again, to celebrate the day of your birth. The day you first opened your eyes to light. Alive in a secret moment and loved before time began, but now awakened to light.

Beautiful light.

And it is beautiful, isn’t it, sweet girl? The sun rising and then setting again at end of day? The sparkling night skies? The light along the path that guides you? The light of God shining in your heart? The light you bear as you testify to the truth of Him?

Beautiful Light.

And you have seen the light in a new way this year. You have felt its slow and steady warmth, and you have seen the rays peak through on the rainiest of days. You have known the Light of the world and His presence spreading peace and guiding your steps. You have been cheered by a thousand lights of kindness along the way. You have been a light to those who watch you travel this hard road.

We are born into startling light and born again when we see the Light. But we adjust to it and eventually take it for granted. Cling to the Light, Rissa. Soak up the warmth of the Light. Be grateful for the Light.

And shine on, dear girl. In this new year, no matter what it holds, shine on. On the darkest days, open your eyes and your heart to the light.

It is a gift from your heavenly Father, and it will never fail you. Reflect His light.

Let it shine.

I love you, Rissa. Happy birthday.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)