A Glimpse – I Choose Hard

“You and Ryan seem so calm.”

This was a phrase I often heard when Luke was in PICU for almost 4 weeks during December 2019 and into January 2020.  We probably appeared calm because we’d experienced the worst-case scenario. Someone died on our watch in 2010. We’ve waded through the depths of hell and survived; not only survived but found immense joy on the other side of our grief, but that’s not the only reason.

What most people didn’t understand was how difficult normal Luke was at 15 years old. Baseline Luke was hard. The restlessness, constant high-pitched screams, puberty, incontinence, and the inability to verbalize what he wanted or even understand what he desired made it exhausting to raise this unique individual, but we did it. We went through the motions and thanked God for giving us a child who taught us numerous lessons through his fragile life. But it was still hard.

As Luke lay quietly sedated in PICU a few years ago, I was given a glimpse, a glimpse much like Nicholas Cage experienced in the beloved movie, Family Man. A 25-day glimpse of a different life.  Not a life in ICU with beeping machines and lifesaving equipment; instead, a life at home; away from the beeping machines; a life I returned to after Ryan relieved me at the hospital; a life with the other kids. A life where I awoke to the rising of the sun and not to my 15-year-old screaming over the baby monitor. A life where I had the freedom to run to the grocery store for milk and not worry about who would stay with Luke; a life where I didn’t have to constantly decipher what my non-verbal child wanted, and a life void of diapers and wheelchairs and walls smeared with food from wherever he ate his last meal.

An easier life. A life of peace or more peace than I was used to. A life of occasional silence. A life without Luke.

Struggle has a way of forcing beauty to the surface. The pink cactus, planted in a dry, parched land – sinks its roots deeply into the brittle soil; willing its way to the surface – beyond the menacing thorns, the bright pink petals unfold in majestic glory as the soul reaches for the sun.

The hard, holy treasures of life. Dull glittering nuggets that contain what really matters – unearthed through trauma and agonizing moans and breaths that can’t be released and heartache that brings a mama to her knees as she begs God to intervene and heal her son.

I wrestled with the Almighty for days as Luke lay in ICU. Weeping, moaning, begging – my thoughts scary, laced with guilt There’s peace, it’s quiet; my heart isn’t racing, I slept all night…

In the garden of Gethsemane, beside the cords and tubes and beeping machines, sweat dripping from my brow, pleading –

Father, grant me the strength to endure the hard, screaming, physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining cup you have asked of me to drink.  Please spare my son. I choose him. I choose the difficult path you have called of me.  I choose life. Give me the grace and strength to walk the road. Crucify every desire for prideful control. May I serve the least of these in your kingdom, and may I serve them joyfully.  Yet not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22

This is my road, my journey, and this is the way I must walk. I choose the narrow, parched path where only the pink petals bloom; the path lined with thorns and littered with dull and dirty nuggets – nuggets masking a priceless treasure beneath the smut and the grim, and the walls smeared with food. I choose hard and holy.  I choose Luke again and again and again.

Just keep livin.


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The Caregiver Life

This January I committed to reading my Bible every day. Some days it’s easier than others, and some days I’ll head to bed, remember and quickly open it up! Honestly, I don’t pour over the Word for hours (or even an hour), but instead, I try to read at least a chapter a day and then read a passage out of my devotional book.

When I was pregnant with Luke, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t have quite the time to dedicate to my devotions after my special boy was born because he would require a lot of care with his disabilities. In response, the Lord whispered to my heart that “yes, devotional time is beneficial and should be pursued, but there would also be times when my worship primarily consists of the hard and holy work that he called me to do. Since that comforting revelation, I don’t approach devotions with as much black-and-white fervor as I might have in my younger years.

Last Monday morning, before the kids were awake, I sat down in my favorite oversized chair and opened my Bible. I was in Zephaniah, a book that I couldn’t tell you much about because it’s not highly quoted or studied. Zephaniah chapter 2. I stopped as I read verse 3.

Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly, perhaps, even yet, the Lord will protect you.

This was an admonishment straight from God to his chosen people. This was and is apparently the definition of what God desires from us, his people. The Lord clearly spells out what makes him smile, what lends to supernatural protection, and what is desired of us and it includes: to be humble, to seek to do what is right, and to obey.

That’s pretty simple.

That’s the message to those of us who claim to be Christ followers.

And you know what? That’s pretty much the definition of the caregiving life.

As caregivers, especially those of us who have been doing it for a long time, we often feel like our lives have very little meaning. We change diapers. We assist in mobility, we clean up lots of messes, and we sit in quiet spaces, or maybe not-so-quiet spaces if we’re dealing with aggression or behaviors. We humbly watch and assist our loved ones. We might feel like our lives are not amounting to much or don’t have a lot of purpose. Or maybe we feel like our loved one has held us back from pursuing our own passions or dreams. Or maybe, we’re too tired to think about it at all.

Let this verse bless you today as you serve those who need you. As you obey what the Lord has called of you in caring for someone. As you seek to do what is right by your family and by society at large. Know this, the Lord is pleased because you are doing exactly his will for your life. You are bringing glory to his name. You are making him smile.

Just Keep Livin.



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Go Play!

I’m back! Monday Musings took a short sabbatical due to the holiday last week, but now I’m back, sort of 😉  The kids begin summer break today so that means everything work related takes a little bit longer for me to accomplish, but I woke up with this excerpt from my book Blended with Grit & Grace in my heart and thought it would be a good reminder for the moms who have a wee bit of anxiety with the lack of structure that arrives with summer break.  Just keep livin.  

I shooed one of my children out of the kitchen, annoyance growing by the minute with yet another complaint of boredom or a long-winded tale about how one sibling had grossly mistreated another. It sure felt like we were on day 100 million of this year’s particularly long winter break, which marched on and on and on with the recent bout of inclement weather and now influenza circulating throughout the schools.

Ahhh, good times.

I sighed, frustrated at how much energy the kids required during these days without school and irritated with the constant boredom. We had purchased a beautiful property in the middle of rural Tennessee on thirty acres of land, a mighty river flowing in our backyard, with the expectation that our children would spend their days romping through the fields, building forts, playing tag and hide-and-seek, plucking fresh fruit from the apple and pear trees, and whatever else they were able to convince one another to play or do, but that wasn’t generally the case. Usually, they were inside the house, bellyaching about how bored they were.

I returned my attention to the pot on the back burner of the stove, which held dinner for the evening. I began to stir, slowly encouraging the flavors of a simmering beef stroganoff to meld together, an easy family favorite consisting of hamburger, chopped onions, garlic, and mushrooms drenched in a cream-cheese sauce. I inhaled the savory aroma as music played in the background. “I’ll praise you in this storm,” belted out an old-time favorite by the popular group Casting Crowns.

I’d been experiencing a bit of a faith crisis in the recent months as I desperately grasped for control while life spiraled further away from me. So many balls were in the air. The hormonal issues that inevitably arrive with aging. Teaching, which I loved but didn’t love as much as writing. Writing, which was my passion but doesn’t really pay the bills—at least not yet. Raising eight children, now with several teenagers and a toddler. Struggling to do right by Lucas, in pursuit of the best options for him but also needing to sacrifice more of our limited resources and time. The list went on.

It felt overwhelming 90 percent of the time, and I knew I wasn’t handling the demands well. Most of my prayers were more like complaints and resembled grumbling as I begged for superhuman strength to get through the days—annoyed that God would bequeath so many responsibilities upon my weary, aging shoulders.

“Praise you in this storm, huh?” I muttered. I had fiercely believed those words during the most difficult days of life—as a baby grew in my belly in 2004 (a child proclaimed terminal even before taking his first breath) and again as my husband Jason took his last breath here on earth. Now, in my current reality, with a healthy family, a good marriage, my daily needs met, I couldn’t seem to muster up any praise in this pathetic little pity party of a storm I was having for myself.

Jesus, help . . . , I sighed in resignation and frustration.

Go play, I heard gently whispered in reply.

What? I wondered.

Go play! Stop complaining and stop focusing on the negative, and stop stressing about everything that I ultimately control, and stop the bellyaching, and go play! Enjoy the life I made for you! Bask in my creation, jump on the trampoline with your kids, breathe in the beauty of nature all around, enjoy your life, enjoy what I have created for you—for your pleasure! Take joy in the food you are preparing, savor the chocolate pie, sip the chardonnay, make love to your husband, read a good book, teach your daughters how to sew. GO PLAY!

Could it be that my questions about life, faith, and frustrations could be answered in one simple command? Go play? That’s exactly what I wanted my children to do when they were bored and moaning and groaning about everything in life. I desired more than anything for them to stop complaining and bickering and go play! To enjoy what we had purchased for them! To enjoy the beauty of their lives! Could it possibly be that the God of the universe wanted the same for his child? For me to honor him through my enjoyment of what he’s blessed me with?

My perspective shifted, as it usually does when the Almighty has words with me, and a slow smile crept across my face as I poured myself a glass of chardonnay and headed to the back porch to sit with my husband. As I opened the door, still slightly hesitant about leaving numerous tasks undone, I heard a whisper laced with joy, which urged me forward:

Yes, my child, go play.


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