August 30, 2011

if today...

If today you are running a little low on power ... seems as though everyone nearby is just humming along ... plug in to the source that makes this world go 'round.

And if it looks (feels) like a storm rolled through this place, broken limbs and wreckage all around ... remember the One who is able to mend all life's fractures.

He's the same one who uses the broken things for good, the bare spots for new growth, the inconvenient for fresh perspective. Ah, if you believe ...

And if the clean-up feels daunting, the air too warm, the lights too dim, the kids too restless--

remember this life that is but a breath.

Because it all comes and goes too soon like a breeze ... yes, somedays, like a hurricane.

And this, today, is what we've been given.

Wishing you power and peace, friends! the warmth of light and the good company of family and friends. hoping you are making memories together, with or without the modern comforts of home. praying that you are safe ... that we are all up and running again real soon ... with new stories to tell.     

August 27, 2011

When the storm comes ... Go camping


When Isabelle tore through our town eight years ago, we had just been married for two. In between jobs and states, we were home again-- living with my parents. We had no children … just a crazed kitten. My sister was home too with a child and a cat. My brother as well-- here for training nearby with a family back in Alaska. The house was near full for the first time in years. We were job hunting, house hunting, life-hunting... 
And I took my first job as a nurse- night shift on the ICU- and I was all backwards. Craving dinner for breakfast and packing lunch at 6pm-- missing my husband while I slept through the light hours and he through the dark.

We knew that storm was coming and I finished my shift to drive the interstate home. The sky was hazy, eerie green and that little blue Saturn moved alone across empty lanes of road. Everyone all tucked in at home … waiting.

And I got home just in time to join husband and company. We took front row seats at the kitchen table while the clouds rolled in. We stayed right there for hours.

And when it all picked up and the dark sky grew darker, the mood felt a little ominous. The wind howled ugly and the trees bent and stretched. In our woodsy neighborhood, those trees started to fall under the weight of the wind-- just cracked and crashed to the ground. We all sat quiet with wide eyes. When the trees groaned and leaned, we shrugged our shoulders up to our ears—ducked and winced in unison—then waited those few seconds while trunks fell heavy through others before landing with a THUD.

My Army dad, ever assessing the risk, looked nervous. And that made me the most nervous of all.
Because when dad isn’t certain … no one else is certain either.

And what do you do when your rock starts to feel a little shaky? When everything around you points to a potentially wild ride? When you can’t will the elements to behave?

I sat in my corner seat at the table and we braced for a storm-- lanterns lit, supplies at the ready.

And when I couldn't take my eyes off of those trees, the fear got the best of me. 
So I decided to go camping— under the only roof that doesn’t collapse under too much rain.

I flipped through the Book that doesn’t break and looked for Him who can’t be undone.
I built a tent and while the storm raged outside, I sat quiet under words. 

Praise the LORD, my soul.
LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind... (from Psalm 109)

Because it helped to know that He knew...

And we rode it out and all was well and it could have been much worse. We lost some trees and we lost all power and for a week this town was unshowered. The lawns looked like lumber yards;  the men stayed out too long with chainsaws.

And today this little family is perched at the kitchen table, bracing for a gal who goes by Irene. The yard is too wet and later tonight, the wind will howl wild. The trees are tall and too close to this home. I'll try not to jump ahead to "what-if."

We will likely camp out again, with flashlights and little girls and that Book that reminds me He is bigger. I'll sit tight with the knowing that He isn't nervous ... and that even this whirling-dervish girl isn’t out of His control.

There’s a storm coming around these east-coast parts. Have a camp out too?
Stay safe and we will see you when we see you, friends?!

August 25, 2011

At work on a Wednesday ... if you're living like a fugitive

I'm at work on a Wednesday, logging details on each kid before clocking out to drive the forty minutes home. It's eleven o’clock and the news is on.

The lights of the community room are off and it still smells of burnt popcorn. There are black and white bits strewn on the floor, cradled between plastic couch cushions. I am half listening and half typing-- documenting medication administration, bedtime compliance, group attendance...

I hear on the t.v., "Fire, robbery at 7-11, an endangered runaway missing tonight..."
I glance up and catch her picture. My chin drops with my heart and I feel it in the gut.

She is one of ours. She is sixteen.

This gal on the run is no stranger to these halls and I have witnessed, firsthand, her ability to flee.

And I’m not surprised that she is on the run.

She's been with us several times-- in and out again. The last time she resided with us, she jumped up and over that chain link fence while kids and staff stood frozen-- basketballs and tennis rackets in hand.

She hit the concrete and just kept going.

We called the police and they found her, claimed her. Then a family member claimed her too …
but only briefly.

I thought she would have come back to us by now.

Because she usually calls to “check in” around this time of night, when the lights go low and the anxiety turns way up. We always answer, pass the phone, and encourage her. We ask her where she is and what she is up to and is she taking care of herself? She tries her best to shock and stun us but there is nothing new under this sun and we simply stay kind and objective.

We remind her all that she learned here.

And then she asks if she can come back.

But she hasn't called lately.

And I am surprised by this--

because she was six the first time she moved in and I wonder if this place, though sort of sterile, was the best place she ever laid her goth-black hair. She lived in nearly every room on this hallway and bits of her-- like that burnt, smelling popcorn-- are scattered all over, hidden in cracks.

Often here for a year at a time, she passed full seasons and stages of her life on this hallway.

In the piled-high 'donations' room there is box labeled with her name. Every time I rummage through that space I catch a whiff of her: loose papers with dark words, worn through black jeans, black composition books, black spiked belt, sketchbooks in black ink that make me wonder if she ever drew a rainbow or an apple tree ... or a puppy.

And there’s the baby doll-- the one we gave her at Christmas when she admitted she had never owned one. She painted that baby’s fingernails black and tattooed her fat little arm in ink on the night she unwrapped her.

And then she carried that baby everywhere.

She ate good food here and she slept in safety. She went to school and worked through near-debilitating trauma. With all-star therapists and lots of time, she waded through her past in safe space. Her countenance softened and she stopped wearing black around her eyes.

We cheered her on but she felt unworthy of the praise and every time she made major progress,
she panicked. She was afraid to think of things getting better… for fear they would just get bad again.

During these times we watched her close-- logged her every move on a yellow caution sheet-- because we knew her patterns and how fast she could outsmart us.

And more recently I find, in a pile of girl- things labeled MISC: a black underwire bra with no wires.
I assume it is hers, because she just wasn’t safe and we had to take every precaution. Despite all our efforts at safekeeping, that mastermind girl wasn’t daunted by hovering staff.

I'm still typing on the computer and I'm in my head. I'm with her on a night not too long ago. She panicks again and I find her in her room. Follow my gut and do premature check-in. I see what she's done and I grip her hands and grab raw wrists- stinging arms- and escort her to safe room. I scrub her down in silence and wrap her in gauze and then I do what they say not to do.

I plead with her to deal with her "stuff."

I tell her again ... how she has high value, how she is loveable, how she has a purpose and it won't always feel this bad, cut this deep. She drips red onto white tile and paces four steps one way, four the other. Back and forth, over and over. Tears fall hard and saltwater dilutes this wine and in the moment I don't know which is thicker.

She rants about fathers gone and mothers who should have protected from step-fathers. She yells why and she looks right into my soul ... hurts so deep and she is numb to tears and sting alike. I am feeling it for her and I have to turn around for a minute and breathe. Because there are no good answers and I can’t cry like this and how do I stay therapeutic with my mother heart bursting?

I just want to hug her tight.

But this girl doesn’t do hugs and the hurt is here for the taking-- wide open, visible, gushing--

only I'm not the one who can bear this burden.

And in this room I pray she might meet the One who can.

But that was then and she isn't under our roof tonight. I wait to clock out-- hoping the phone might ring and I wonder when this grand chase will end. She is a fugitive and I know full well that she is wanted.


The news has moved on to other news but I am static, praying the Hound of Heaven on her heels.
She is on the run and being pursued. If she only knew by whom, this charade could cease.

I stand up to go and I call to her in a whisper … “Come home, girl."

If you are on the run, I pray you might cease this game of chase. Run home. And should you chance upon a girl in black,  or any young soul whose appearance may offend ... I pray you might look closely. He/she has walked a long road. Might you see, instead, a young beggar just like you ... and then graciously offer the bread.

August 23, 2011

if your roots feel shallow...

My earliest memory is walking in the woods with my mother.

On a hill overlooking the Hudson River, we called it the Readout Trail. And I was the youngest of four with five years between me and the third. So when that yellow bus pulled up and drove away with brothers and teenage sis, I had my mom all to myself.

The trail started across the street and catty-corner to our front door. We would step off that sidewalk and dip down into trees, lower and lower... hand in hand. And a tiny-girl memory can be skewed but some things stick in hyper-color. And that green patio awning would disappear up and to the right and out of view as we descended. Together. We would talk and listen and discover.

And growing up all I ever wanted to be was a mother ... like her. Full of peace and that calm quiet trust. And the way she reminded me always that "faith is a gift, Mary Abigail." I would catch her whispering prayers. And she always believed that we were "little people" with little spirits and she didn't usher us out of her presence. She was safe.

And I think on legacy now, this little clan under my roof- and I wonder if they catch me whispering prayers. If they know they are safe with me, that I value the little space they occupy.

Because security in my mother’s space taught me about security in His.

Later when I didn't feel safe in other places ...was sure I took up too much room ... I knew He would not usher me away. And in the years that followed, when I so often chose wrong, I was not afraid to go to Him, grab that tender hand.

When my mother was young, she went to church alone. Her father would drop her off on the sidewalk and pick her up again, at her second-grade request. In all of her growing up, she managed to get there ... to meet Him in the sanctuary. It wasn't until those West Point years, all those years and children later, that she joined a bible study and met Him in the Word.

And I wonder about this too. How does a person with little spiritual heritage find one? Aren’t' we all bound up in family roots and how does a new root spring up from a place where there wasn't one?

Cara and I, too, have been woods-walking since she was tiny. A part of me feels compelled to get out there and hold her hand under the trees. But I know she is logging her own memories-- not recreating mine. And from what I can see, this Jesus heritage we are passing on is so very young and I fear we won’t get it all right.

And I rest in knowing that He knows how far it reaches. Perhaps all I need to know is that we- right now and everyday- are reaching straight to Him.

From there we are grafted straight into His heart and this family tree becomes ever-so-simple ... and  beautifully complex…

us claiming Sonship from the Father direct while we join the most beautiful expansive picture of family.
Far and wide and ever reaching-- binding soul-branches all over the globe to one singular Tree.

As we walk these tree corridors I ask to be a little more like my sweet mother, and a lot more like Him,

because these days are vibrant and they will stick in little girl minds.

I ask for grace and peace, kindness, goodness—

and I ask that this little girl's reach, because of her roots, would extend far beyond this little family line.

August 18, 2011

if you need a change of scenery...

There are days when you just have to get out of the house. Not away from the people, necessarily, but out from under the roof. Today I'm tripping over plastic pirates and diving to rescue tiny gold chests and parrots from toddler grip and that ever-slobbering mouth. The cheerios have overtaken me and an ant or two have come in from the rain. I redirect them to the strawberry jelly under the highchair and go about my business of picking up baby dolls, dinosaurs, and tea cups. Did I mention the cheerios and how do they migrate to every room!? The couch cushions are off again. Pride Rock is in my living room. Someone is unclothed and growling at me from the armrest; the nightgowns are in a heap; someone else is smelly...

It is time to go.

Hoping you might find a space to breathe deep today.
Find your home in Him again-- then return to those walls and embrace love.