Let It All Hang Out–In Style

It’s all about opportunity. And a little hard wiring.

At the wedding of Kate and Alex this past weekend, festivities included a dance floor. And a DJ with a sense of humor.

Huck, my kindred-spirit grand from Austin, could hardly be contained. At two, he’s got more energy than the rest of the family unnamed-2put together.

And he has rhythm.

Like many weddings, it took time and a few songs to get anyone out on the dance floor. Moms dancing with their kids are the first out. Then the older kids. Then the Millenials. My age group rarely gets out there, whether out of embarrassment or because the popping of joints conflicts too much with the music. It’s a toss up.

I was out there for a bit, dancing with my girls. Decorum be hanged.

Huck wasn’t waiting for anyone. When the music began, he was out there, clapping to the beat and moving like a whirling dervish. He didn’t let up. He moved from one song into another, trying to get some of the little girls to dance with him. All of them were “older women”. Five, six years old. They wouldn’t dance with him, but that never dampened his spirits. Alex’s nephew finally took pity on him and danced with him around the room.

His face went beet red, but that didn’t slow him down. His exuberance is all part of who he is. He has two speeds: off and full throttle.

unnamed-5The day after the wedding, as we were packing up and getting ready to fly to our individual destinations, we decided to go to a local donut shop that had a stellar reputation and more types of donuts than I could imagine. He grabbed his in two hands and dove into it like someone who’d been without food for weeks.

Exuberance. Joy. He’s not embarrassed by what others might think. He doesn’t feel shame because his dance moves are a little over the top. He’s not self-conscious because he’s living out loud.

He knows how to enjoy each day. He moves to the beat of his own drummer and doesn’t care if the drummer doesn’t belong to any recognizable band.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost some of that spontaneity. That whimsical approach to life that can be lived out with eyes wide open, fearing nothing but not trying.

I want to have more of that whimsy and fun. More of the unplanned and unscripted. More of the freedom to enjoy the moment without worrying about what might happen tomorrow.

God lives with us in the moment. Reminding us what He’s faithfully done in the past, how He will faithfully show up in the future.

He wants us to live now with the joy with which He created us. Live today, not stressing about the things we can’t control tomorrow.

Some may say, “I don’t think He had such a great time making me.” Wrong. The great delight the Lord has in you, having been made in His image, is beyond what we can comprehend.

So what?

Enjoy the person God’s made you to be. Don’t compare yourself with others. Our uniqueness is a gift. To be celebrated.

Add a little rhythm, and you’ve got it made.

Why Wait?

Weddings bring families together like nothing else–except possibly funerals. They’re opportunities to gather to celebrate the beginning of a new home, a new family, a new norm. Two lives intermingling in a precisely scripted event that is often nine parts unnamed-4focused on day-of celebration and one part “What comes next?”

This past weekend we celebrated the marriage of my niece, Kate, to Alex, the man who captured her heart. They’d both set high standards for a spouse, wanting to make a decision they could live with for the rest of their lives. Unwilling to compromise on what was important to both–a trustworthy person, filled with integrity, who loved Jesus. They were two puzzle pieces finding each other for the perfect fit in a puzzle filled with oddly shaped pieces. They’re kindred spirits, travelers on this life journey together who enjoy the same things.

They waited. Neither thinking it would really happen. The joy they’ve found in each other is beautiful.

What made it even more significant was my six children flew in from all over the country to be there to honor their cousin. They showed up. Celebrating family is a value that our kids have embraced. So an extra bonus was the chance for us to be together. It’s been a long while since that happened.

It’s worth the wait when we connect like this.

unnamed-2Some things are always worth waiting for. Being married to the right person is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. I’ve seen too many people begin with a beautiful ceremony and end a few years later with a bitter taste in their mouths. Time spent with those we value is worth waiting for. Investing in people you love is never a waste.

Rushing things can often be less than desirable. Moving quickly through a project just to get it done may have unsatisfactory results. Giving someone who’s young and immature too much responsibility too quickly could overwhelm them.

There are some things for which we shouldn’t wait. Or hesitate. Good deals that happen once in a lifetime shouldn’t be ignored but acted upon. The chance to do the right thing for someone else should never take a second thought.

Making a choice about eternity isn’t something that should be put off. Waiting till you’ve lived life on your own terms, in your good time, shouldn’t dissuade anyone from considering what will happen once this life ends.

Solomon, a wise king of Israel, said that God has set eternity in our hearts. The sense that this isn’t all there is. The fickleness of life would seem incredibly unjust if there is but a small percentage who live in hope when so many live in fear. If this isn’t the sum total of our experience, shouldn’t we consider what the possibilities might be for what’s next?

After this life is over, where we spend eternity is determined by what we do with Jesus. Receive the gift of His grace and forgiveness. Or try to make it on our own good works.

Kate waiting for Alex? Best possible choice.

Hesitating about where you’ll spend eternity?

Why wait?




I Don’t Want To Get My Hands Dirty


When presented with the opportunity to plant little growing things, I’ll pass. Every time.

Not only do I not enjoy gardening. I’m truly lousy at it. The things I plant tend to die. Quickly.unnamed-2

So when entering a meeting where repotting root-bound plants was the focus of our time together, I cringed. I valued the illustration it represented. Life in transition. What moving from one place to another, one season to another, one epoch adventure to another can look like.

I didn’t want to get my hands dirty.

Gardening is messy. Dirt under my nails. Mud shows up in places it shouldn’t be. When finished, cleaning up is always necessary.

Little pots of purple mums had been purchased for this exercise. All needing bigger pots than they were in. All looking at certain death if they weren’t given more room to grow. (A little bit of drama helps make gardening palatable.)

The picture of transition is moving from a place of comfort, of being known, to a new place of not-yet-understood structure, no definitive status and a sense of uncertainty. All part of change.

Being repotted in life.

It’s messy. Mud-in-wrong-places messy. Uncomfortable messy. Messed-up messy. That’s what change brings. No matter unnamed-4where we are in life.

Engaging with people and being willing to expose my dirt is messy.

Folks in our group transplanted the little mums. Ripping them out of their familiar tiny pots; giving them space to grow in bigger ones. Lauren delicately separated roots, putting the plant gently in the new pot. Patting the dirt down. Mike, on the other hand, was much tougher with his plant. Methodically removing dirt, separating the roots, pressing the plant firmly in its new pot.

Difference in approach. Lauren didn’t want to get her hands dirty. Mike took the all-boy approach. Dirt is good.

Every plant got a new pot. New home. A chance to grow and thrive.

Not all the mums will do well. Some will be forgotten or overwatered. Some will get knocked over and not survive the trauma. All will begin somewhere new. For now.

We’ve all been potted somewhere. Where we begin is rarely where we stay. As we grow, there are times when we’ll flourish because our pot is the right size, and we’re being nourished as a healthy plant should be.

There are times when we’ll wilt due to stress, pain, loss. We’ll lose leaves. Life may feel dry. Our roots will feel weak. The willingness to invite others into the dirt, to own that we have dirt, is hard.

Does anyone want to get their hands dirty with our stuff?

God chooses to. He cherishes working the soil around us so we can grow. Nurturing us so we can thrive.

It may require pruning. Cutting back some of what we think is good to make room for what’s necessary. Pulling off dead blossoms–those things we hang on to because they’ve become part of our identity–encourages growth.

God never hesitates to get His hands dirty with our stuff. He delights in causing us to grow and flourish.

I need to be willing to get my hands dirty. Engaging in the dirt of those around me. And my own.

If the pot is right, why not?






I Dunno

He prefers jumping to standing still. Throwing to holding. Ignoring to listening.

He loves “boonies” (balloons) because they’re soft and bouncy.

He’s clueless as to why he does anything.

Two-year-old Ryken, with increased verbosity, has a stock answer anytime he’s questioned about his actions.unnamed-2

“I dunno.” Usually followed by a shoulder roll or raised hands. Or both. All indicating innocence, lack of experience and wisdom and the general “Don’t hold me accountable. I’m two.”

He wins everyone over with his sweet smile, huge blue eyes and mop of blond hair. Which will work for him for another couple of years.

His four siblings think it’s cute. They’ll acknowledge his foibles and ask why he’s doing whatever he’s doing. They laugh when he quips, “I dunno.”

Unless what he’s throwing belongs to one of them. Or what he’s jumping on is one of them. Tolerance and humor then move to frustration and anger. Cuteness doesn’t cover broken toys, ripped books or a sore stomach.

Our home is not kid-proofed as it used to be. I should be careful of what I leave out when the grands are over. I don’t think about it.

unnamedI have a coffee center with a display of Starbucks mugs from around the world. Some given as gifts; some collected as John and I have had the chance to travel. Ryken is fascinated by the mugs.

He’s already broken Bali.

It wasn’t mean-spirited. It was gravity. It was there. He picked it up. And dropped it. Ceramic meeting tile always results in one outcome. Shattering.

He can learn not to touch. Children are trainable.

At two, they’re also prone to orneriness. Colorful mugs are calling to be touched and picked up. And dropped.

It’s easier to tolerate Ryken’s actions and try to waylay him when his interest strays to breakable things.  Uncomfortable and inconvenient things. As Nana, I can laugh at his escapades, forgive occasional faux pas, whine about it later. I don’t need to train him in all appropriate behaviors. I’m the fun Nana. I can enjoy him and all the grands–and send them home to their parents.

It’s tolerance. When did I abdicate to convenience?

We live in a world that strives to tolerate everything because no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. If I stand up for something that’s right and true, I’m labeled as intolerant and close-minded because I’m not letting people be who they are.

I’m going to anger a lot of folks by making this statement, but here it is:

I believe in absolute truth. And that truth comes from an absolutely perfect God. Who chooses to love us and engage us in life.

I used to think all people could agree on a few basic things. Integrity. The value of life. Treating others with kindness. Recognizing we share a world with a variety of people who don’t think or act like we do.

That’s not how it is. Frankly, it’s not how it’s ever been. Brokenness has existed since the beginning of time.

Does that mean we don’t speak up when someone is wrong, when others are being hurt unjustly? Do we just say, “That’s how they do it.”?

I dunno. You tell me.

Messy Matt Makes A Move


photo courtesy of NASA

photo courtesy of NASA

I’ve loved storms since I was a little girl. I’ve never been bothered by bursts of thunder and strobes of lightning.

I enjoy angry skies.

Not everyone does. I’ve got friends who hide in their family room with the TV turned up so they don’t have to hear storms. We had a dog once that cowered under anything he could fit beneath, trembling because of the cacophony of thunder and lightning together.

We get our fair share of storms in Florida. We’ve seasons where daily precipitation shows up long enough to make the atmosphere miserably humid and lightning appears sporadically to necessitate postponed soccer games for the requisite thirty minutes since the last close bolt.

Lost time. Muddy uniforms. Gross, smelly shoes. Annoyances.

They’re also the providers of puddles, the sustainers of splashing and the makers of mud. Necessary tools for being reminded of the kid that still remains in all of us.

Matthew is a different breed. A hurricane that has morphed up and down the scale of severity, it’s done serious damage to Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Cuba. At least 20 people are dead. It’s expected to grow stronger as it approaches the U.S.–there’s no land in it’s way to slow it down.

There is a certain majesty in such power and ferocity. Matthew may hit Florida as a category 4 hurricane–wind speeds up to 156 mph. Maybe worse. Power greater than I can grasp.

It’s human nature to try and corral powerful things and use them for our benefit. Taming a wild horse. Solar panels and wind turbines to harness forces of nature that are persistent and strong.

We can’t do anything about hurricanes. We can plot their supposed path. Watch their progress. Prepare ourselves with supplies should we be affected by damage they cause. Get out of their way.

And show up to help those who’ve been affected by the damage they cause.

Control it? Minimize it? That won’t happen. We’re at the mercy of such a storm.

Life produces storms like that for each of us. Circumstances over which we have no control. Times when everything we thought we held together breaks into a million pieces like shards of a shattered mirror. And we’re left standing in broken glass.

Twelve years ago Hurricane Charlie flew through Orlando, ripping up trees, spawning tornadoes, cutting power to a multitude of homes. We sat it out, hearing objects hit the house. Listening to wind that sounded like screams.

There was a lot of devastation. People reached out to others to help where they could. Neighbors helped neighbors they’d never gotten to know. Communities pulled together to help those who were hurting.

Bridges were built because of the storm.

God showed up with skin on. Loving. Encouraging. Coming alongside hurting folks.

Storms will happen. We can’t control them. We can respond with compassion and generous hearts to those who are afraid or hurting.

Because at some point we’ll all be in the center of the storm. Needing help. Needing hope.

Needing God with skin on.

photo courtesy of Lucy Chian

photo courtesy of Lucy Chian