Scar colored lenses.

Version 3

Natalie was invited to her very first birthday party. It was kind of a big deal. For nearly six years she had to stay home while her big brother and sister attended these lavish affairs. Today was different. Today, it was her turn and she was going to par-tay.

Natalie’s BFF was having a real tea party with real tea and cakes and party dresses and bells to call servers to wait on them hand and foot. That basically covers every item on Natalie’s list of things she expects to find in heaven, except Jesus. I texted to see if we could just drop her off early. The gracious hostess said yes, and we thanked the Lord that we made it before the explosive excitement building pressure inside Nat took out innocent bystanders. We picked her up a few hours later, and the entire way home she regaled us with details of the party. Her chatter was incessant and I had no worries at all that she had the time of her life.

The next day, I opened a message and found that picture. Admittedly, it is a cute picture of my kid with a fun photo prop. Except my kid was born with a facial deformity. One that affects her smile and has left jagged scars on her delicate skin. That fake grin on a stick became a great equalizer and on the surface, she was just like every other little girl at that party. She intentionally picked a photo prop that concealed every trace of what she had been through.

Why did she chose that prop? Does she hate her face?

Without a word, I closed my laptop. I did not even respond to the message. No polite thank you for the invitation. No gushing about cuteness. No mom praise for pulling off a fantastic party. Nothing but a stunned stupor and deep breathing.

My husband noticed my drastic change in my demeanor and wanted to know what was wrong. I showed him the picture. His response was short and tender, but impactful, “It’s Natalie.”

At that, I let everything go and succumbed to the scourge of tears that had threatened since I first looked at that picture. I wailed. All my facial orifices leaked. It was ugly. And wet.

He is right, of course. It is Natalie, our little girl. Our gift from God. From the beginning, He has been with that child. So many times we have thanked Him for making her strong and plucky and resilient, knowing she will need those characteristics to endure her life. He didn’t give her a hardship and leave it at that. He gave her the ability to endure and even overcome it. He gives us the ability to parent her through it. No, it isn’t easy, but yes, He is faithful though it all. He has never failed.

Further, Natalie has never even hinted at scar insecurity. I just saw a picture and assumed the thing I most fear had happened.  (Coincidentally, always assuming the worst is a trait I despise in other people. That makes me both histrionic AND hypocritical.)

There is one thread of imparted wisdom that I cling to in unsure moments regarding Natalie: “The way you handle it will be the way she handles it.” I decided to stop speculating handle it head on. (After I stopped blubbering, cleaned myself up, and was sure I could maintain my composure long enough to have the needed conversation. So, like the next day…)

“Natalie, come look at this picture Mrs. J sent of the party. You had so many friends there, and those photo props are awesome,” I began.

“I know, Mom!” she gushed. “I really wanted the hat, and the pearls were my next choice, but they were both taken. So, I just chose the lips because they were pink and white and they matched my dress.”

She chose the lips because they matched her dress. That is just like Natalie.

“I think you made a great choice,” was all I could manage to say right then.

“I know!” she quipped over her shoulder as she skipped away in her party hat while carrying her party purse.

That was all. The end.

I had allowed myself to get worked up, thinking my baby despised her scars, when her mind was no where near them. She was only thinking of the party, and her dress, and having more fun than a nearly six year old can imagine.

I was projecting my concerns onto her. When I do that, I am forsaking God’s promises in favor of worry and fear. Perhaps there will come a time when the scars of her facial deformity will make her want to hide. But maybe they won’t. Regardless, God will be there each step of the way, equipping us to handle it.

Scars. If I examine every experience through scar colored lenses, then scars are all I will ever see. Worse, she will learn to do the same and those scars will them become all that she sees.  Hello, self-fulfilling prophecy, let me show you the way out.

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul. Psalm 94:19

Photo by Hollie Feickert

Photo by Hollie Feickert

Let’s socialize

I am really scared to put myself out there, so I have done it in baby steps. It started with this blog. I told myself when I got to the point where I could handle it, I would actually tell someone about it. However, “the point where I could handle it” has proven to be a very arbitrary measure. Also, that was nearly three years ago! Let’s face it – I am a big chicken and I will never feel ready. It is time to let go of my fear and do this.

I now have a blog specific Facebook and Twitter. I even added little social media buttons to the bottom of my posts. If you are so inclined, please like and follow.

You are the best. Thanks for listening and supporting and encouraging.

Mixed signals

Inevitably, when I decide to do something, I run into every obstacle imaginable. Like when I announced I was going to write a book. I made it 9431 words before I fried my laptop. Dead. Kaput. Complete with sizzling, smoke, and an acrid odor.

Did I mention that this is the second laptop I have fried courtesy of a “liquid spill” in less than one year? I decided to get serious about my writing last February, and the SAME THING happened. (Not quite…that was Cinnamon Toast Crunch and I was careless…)

This time, it was a really freak accident. I wasn’t intentionally careless. I didn’t do something remarkably stupid. At the time, I was convinced I was being vigilant.

You wanna know what caused the catastrophe?


Yes, I am going there. I blame the kids.

Whatever. They didn’t know that the bag they negligently scooted under the littlest’s feet contained my laptop. They didn’t know they perfectly positioned it to receive the tiniest amount of soda that she was bound to spill as I passed it to her in the Taco Bell drive-thru. They didn’t know that she would understate the size of her spill so I would believe it was just a trickle when it was clearly all of it.


Anyway, fried via root beer. That was the official diagnosis of the laptop.

Fortunately, the good people at Apple were able to repair the damage. Thank the Good Lord Jesus, my hard drive wasn’t damaged and all of my work is safe and saved, but it really set me back. Pre-root beer, there was progress in the form of nearly 2000 words per day. It was all crap, but I was writing actual words. Words that formed intuitively, without thought or intention or real effort. Words that expressed fledgling ideas that would grow and develop. Words that could be crafted into something tangible, like sentences and paragraphs and chapters and stories that could fill pages and minds. That root beer didn’t just flood my motherboard, it quenched my creative spark and washed all the words away.  Not one has escaped since the drive-thru mishap.

Unless I get incredibly creative and locate a cache of misplaced time, I am destined to fail NaNoWriMo 2015. After I declared my intention to the world. That is the worst. The world will know I failed. It will be documented on the interweb for the viewing pleasure of everyone for all time.

When things like this happen, I really struggle deciding if this is a sign from God that I shouldn’t be doing this, or if it is an attack of the enemy because I am finally doing what the Lord placed me here to do (my Pentecostal is showing). It is hard for me to ignore that TWICE I have committed to writing a book, and both times I have let the smoke out of expensive electronics required to complete said book. Is this God’s way of telling me that my dream isn’t His plan? Am I exaggerating my gift? Is my ‘calling’ really just a human aspiration I flavored with evangelical speak?

Because I believe absolutely in God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, I am loath to view anything as a random event. I believe God uses everything for His purpose, and further, he choreographed every flitter and flutter of everyone’s and everything’s existence. There is purpose in the great soda flood of ’15.  Maybe it will be revealed tomorrow or fifty years from now, or by the time I finish this monologue. Maybe not. Regardless, there is purpose.

I am unsure. I don’t want to stop writing, but there is no denying my discouragement, frustration, and confusion. I tell myself that those are not things that come from the Lord, but I continually return to those places. My humanity is diseased with pessimism and uncertainty and fear of failing man.

But in Christ there is freedom. There is freedom to experience setbacks and recover, to learn and adjust, to be disciplined and amend. There is freedom to stop and assess and freedom to plunge in with both feet and eyes tightly shut. There is also freedom to wait. I am not bound by human nature, dejection, or skepticism. I am not a slave to man’s opinion or whims.

Officially, I have decided that the setback is just that, a setback. It was a good opportunity for me to ponder things like my pride and motives and intentions. For now, I am going to keep plugging along, giving this over to God every step of the way. I chose to exercise perseverance and trust in the Lord.

Admittedly, easier said than done.

Will I ever get my book written? I dunno. Will I continue to write, anyway? Yes.

Mostly because I don’t know how to stop.



I am a Pharisee.

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Matthew 5:46-47a

There is a war waging within my heart. I am torn between justice and grace, and both seem to been delicately woven into this tapestry of ambiguous holiness. I don’t know which thread to pull. I don’t know which value to pursue.

There have been several small offenses hammering away at my sense of fairness and integrity. I feel like my foundational values are being attacked; but what is worse, is the feeling that my Christian sisters and brothers are the aggressors.

It’s easy to love those who think like I think and say what I say and do what I do. The challenge is loving the dissenters. I don’t like being wrong. I don’t like being questioned. I don’t like feeling judged. I don’t like admitting my mistakes or being accountable for my failures.

I experience my share of indignation when injustice occurs, especially when it occurs at the hands of Christians or in the name of Jesus. I become incensed and outraged and throw around words like “hypocrisy” and “Pharisee” and even “self-righteous bigot”. But when does one injustice excuse another? When does indignation trump grace? When I repay hate with more hate, is it justified, or does it make me equally guilty?

I am no better than your average Jesus hating Pharisee, who clings to laws and tradition at the cost of grace and redemption. The only difference is the laws and traditions to which I cling. My brothers and sisters in Christ deserve just as much grace as the lost.

That doesn’t mean I ignore their sin or cover their blunders. That doesn’t mean I excuse them from the consequences of their actions or hide the hurt they caused. I should confront sin, just not with more sin.

We are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to do dumb things. Someone is always going to be hurt. No, that isn’t okay, but it’s an unavoidable. The question is, when a hurt occurs, am I going to perpetuate it by separating over differences and starting a war of opinion, speculation, and interpretation, or am I going to move into a realm of grace and healing and try to find solutions by uniting in love? Am I going to pick up stones to aim at my brothers and sisters for their indiscretions, or am I going to pick them up, dust them off, and carry them to the feet of our Savior?

I hate the pool.

I bought our family pool pass today, effectively committing all of our summer free time to the considerably chlorinated concrete concavity of clamorous congregation. While this delights my children, it leaves me apprehensive. On the scale of rural activities that most resemble ancient and forbidden methods of  introvert torture, I would place going to the pool somewhere between quarter auctions and the summer reading program at the library.

Allow me to explain:

1. Noise. Quiet is my default. As is my environment, so goes my thoughts, meaning: if the setting is chaotic, so are my brain waves. I can’t think while surrounded by all the boisterous  pandemonium characteristic of the pool.

2. Toes. My toes are naked and un-manicured. Also, they are kind of hairy (if I am being honest). I like to keep those suckers hidden so I am not required to maintain them. Unfortunately, closed toed shoes are not conducive to the pool.

3. Bodies. People come in all sorts of beautiful shapes and sizes, each created by God. If you got it, flaunt it. If you don’t got it, flaunt it anyway. Personally, I like to park mine in a lounge chair and attempt to read a book. My issue is not with appearance. It’s the number of those beautiful bodies occupying one small area. I need space the pool doesn’t afford.

Also, the lounge chair to body ratio is woefully inadequate. Often I am left sitting on the concrete.

4. Concrete. Scorching concrete. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE… Burning everything that touches it.

5. Logistics. Given that my skinny pale ginger is pretty easy to locate,  all my children should ideally stay next to him at all times. Problem solved. They would be so easy to find. But, that is no fun, they say. I relent and succumb to the constant neck craning and stretching to verify the status of their well-being and accommodate their wanderings.

6. Cancer. My people are pale.  Looking out a window will make them turn pink. Each break, we apply sunscreen like a NASCAR pit crew, seeing how fast we can finish all three while still being precise and making sure all exposed skin is lathered in SPF 50 before the whistle blows. Lord forbid they miss one second of swim time for the sake of cancer prevention.

Yet, I can never seem to adequately apply sunscreen to myself. Inevitably, I burn in the most awkward ways . I forget one of my feet or my armpits or the back of a leg, or trust the five-year old to adequately spray the SPF on my back.

7. Paraphernalia: Suits. Cover-ups. Sunglasses. Flip-flops. Snack money. Water bottles. Towels. Sunscreens. Books. Floaties. Hair ties. Goggles. A bag to put it all in. Why does it take so much to go to the pool? Then there are the after pool activities (dance, library, volunteering, play dates) requiring their own special and separate impedimenta.

I’ll stop there. You get the idea. I am not a fan of the pool.

Yet, I forked over a small fortune to buy a season pass for our family.

I know.

Here is the thing: we are weirdos who homeschool year round. We spend all day together, every day, all year long. The kids need space. They need to burn energy. They need to see their old friends and make some new ones. They need to laugh and play with people who get them. They need good summer memories.

Okay. And I need something to motivate them to finish school each day while everyone else is enjoying summer vacation.

How do you spend your summer days? Do you love the pool? Do you hate it? Did I leave something off my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!