Angels among us, again and still.

What do you think of when you hear the word Angel? Do you envision a celestial being sent from God? Someone or something flying around with feathered wings and a halo? A small creature sitting on your shoulder, whispering in your ear. Or do you think of a person with great character and strong faith who walks among us doing great things? A messenger from God in human form. Or do angels come in all forms? If we look, do we see angels all around us?

I have written before about angels. I believe in all those that I listed above. I believe that I have seen and experienced both earthly angels and Heavenly Angels. I believe that God has sent angels to walk among us and to be with us every day.

Some days our angels are here. Watching us live our lives, helping us with our daily existence. Those are the angels that cause us to pause a little longer than needed at a green light, just to see a car speed through the red cross light, that would have hit us. The angel that catches us when we trip, so that we don’t actually fall all the way to the ground. The angel that whispers where our keys are, when we are pulling our hair out looking for them.

Some days our angels hold our hands in silence, wishing they could help but knowing some lessons we have to learn ourselves. Or screaming with all their ability, as we ignore them and just let our pride lead us in the wrong direction. They sing with us during our times of great joy. Or they wrap their giant wings around us as we cry ourselves to sleep at night, wishing we had just one more day with that one we loved and lost.

There are also amazing people all around us that are Gods messengers clothed in human skin. These are the people that drop everything when you call for help. The ones that know what to do even when you don’t ask. These are the friends, family and sometimes strangers that God puts in your path when you most need them.

Last week, Kirby and I were in New Orleans. I had been there once before, but Kirby hadn’t. Our fist evening, after dinner, we went for a walk down Bourbon St. in the French Quarter. After just a couple blocks I told him that I had seen enough and was ready to head back to the hotel. I had seen enough depravity and debauchery. I even told him that I felt we had passed through the seventh ring of hell.

We headed back to the hotel, via Walgreens. Walking through the store, the most unusual “person” crossed our path. A man dressed as the devil stood before us. All in red, head to toe, with horns and a tail. Painted face and all. It wasn’t until hours later, when I woke in the night, I realized what I had really witnessed in that store

The clothes that the man wore were tattered and dirty, and his shoes were worn nearly all the way through. He was at the counter buying the bare essentials of life: bread, milk, peanut butter and deodorant. Those things that most of us buy when we need it, without even thinking about how we will pay for it. But this man wasn’t paying for it, another man was. Standing next to the “devil in red” was a young man dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. I was so busy watching the older man, I didn’t even pay attention to the man in jeans until I noticed that he was paying. It was obvious that the 2 men were strangers, only in the store for that purchase. After the transaction was done, the man in red asked the other young man if they could pray together. They prayed and parted ways. Probably to never cross paths again.

The scene could have been a parable written by Jesus himself. A messenger from God, dressed in jeans and t-shirt, went out of his way to help someone that most of us would have crossed the street to avoid. Someone that needed to feel Gods love, but instead caused fear in most who crossed his path. And an angel that didn’t do what he did for attention, just to help someone in need.

Tonight I thank God for all the angels in my life. Some of those angels are people that are reading this blog. People that love me and I don’t always remember to thank. And for those angels that I know are here but I only feel but don’t see. I hope you feel them too.


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I wish I knew what to say and how to help…..

Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced by “We”, illness becomes wellness.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Today is going to be a rough day for me. Last night I learned that someone I love made his journey to the next place. He was way too young to have made the journey, but his life here was tormented and I am hopeful that at least he may now be at peace. That said, grief is a human emotion, and he will be missed. I just hope that wherever we go from here, he knows that he was loved.

Mental illness is just that, an illness. It carries such a terrible stigma that makes it hard to discuss. We hide it from the world, burying it like a box of shame and regret, hoping that the “normal” people won’t discover it and judge us. The healthcare system is unable or unwilling to help with so many. Individuals with these terrible ailments are forced to rely on their family, or even worse, survive on their own in a world that makes no sense to them.

Can you imagine being ashamed of an illness? When you find out someone is sick, you usually run to their side. We fix them meals, run errands for them and sit by their bedside. We secretly cry for them. We pray for them. We do anything they ask us to do. Most people with a mental illness are afraid or embarrassed to ask for that same help. As if they have done this to themselves, afraid of being judged, they hide the truth from the world. They suffer in silence, separating themselves from the world around them. Crouching in dark corners hoping it will get better, until they just give up. Mental illness scares us. Lets be honest, we don’t understand it, so we avoid anyone afflicted. We don’t know how to help, so we act like it isn’t there.

If you have never experienced depression or anxiety, I envy you. From the inside of depression, the world outside is dark and scary. Finding joy is a dream and getting out of bed in the morning can be a daunting task. Just sitting up and putting my feet on the floor were sometimes nearly impossible. But I was lucky. I found help. My doctors, my friends and my family were all there to help. They carried me through the dark days until I was able to see some light again. I found my way out of the tunnel, but not everyone is that lucky. Not everyone finds that light again. Not every case can be treated. Not everyone is able to find help.

Today, I am praying for Nathan. I hope that he has found peace in the next place that he could not find here. I hope that his mind is clear again. I hope that Ryan met him as he entered, and welcomed to that beautiful place God has created for us. I hope he is happy.

I am also praying for all those effected by his death. As I said, grief is a strong human emotion. There are people I love who are deep in grief today. As they plan to say goodbye, I hope they know how much they are loved. I hope they feel God’s presence. I hope they know that He is catching their tears and holding them close.


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Where is the edge of your comfort zone?

If you know me, you know that I love babies. I especially LOVED my babies. Before Mallory was born we decided that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. It was going to take some financial choices, but Kirby and I decided that we weren’t going to put the kids in daycare.

I was glad I was able to stay home. Being a mom was the best job in the world. It was the best and most fulfilling, but far from the easiest. Most days were great. Most days. Occasionally, there was one of those days that made me think I was going crazy. One of those days where I was hanging on the thinnest thread, afraid if I moved that my whole life would completely unravel. One of those days.

In those days, our house was always noisy. I am not complaining, I usually enjoyed the noise. Even on the bad days, I never regretted my decision to stay home. These days, our house is very quiet. I can’t believe how much I miss tripping over shoes, making school lunches and washing off sticky hands and faces. I miss those days.

Today I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, and the rain wasn’t helping. I went to the mall to walk and force myself out of the house. I was walking through the food court when I noticed a young woman with her 3 small children. They were sitting at a table, drawing a quite a bit of attention to themselves. The children weren’t out of control or disrespectful. They were just being kids. And the mother didn’t look like a bad mother, just a tired one. She was having one of those days.

My next move surprised even me. I took my lunch over and asked if I could sit down with her. I told her that my kids were grown and I hated eating alone. She shrugged and said of course. So I sat down across from the mother, next to the oldest child. The mother was very quiet but the little girl next to me was more than willing to visit with me. Obviously unaware that I was a stranger, she spent the next several minutes telling me her life story.

She told me that her and the whole family had been sick and were out of the house for the first time “in forever”.  She went on to say that “mom is crabby and very tired.” The mom was embarrassed, but it made it possible to break the ice. I told her how well I remember that feeling. Those days of total exhaustion. Those days we hate to admit we all have.

I sat with the family for quite awhile. Most of the time I spent visiting with the oldest girl while the mom interacted with the other 2 kids. She was able to get the toddler boy to eat his lunch and feed a bottle to the baby. She even took time to eat some lunch herself. By the end of our visit, the mother looked much more relaxed and all 3 kids looked like they were ready to go home for a nap. We said goodbye and went our separate ways. I told her that I hoped to see her there again.

I hope that I helped her. I know that she helped me. I hope that I didn’t intrude on her space. I hope she enjoyed the lunch as much as I did.

Last Friday, our book study group talked about stepping outside of our comfort zone. Walking over to that table was a giant leap out of what I consider comfortable. My gut told me that the mother needed a little extra help, and God pushed me over there. There was a chance that things could have gone very differently, but I very glad it didn’t. I honestly think that God put me in that place for that reason. I feel like God used me to be His hands and feet today.

Dear God,
I feel so honored when you use me to do things for you. Thank you for encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and be a tool of Your love. Please help me to continue to do that would please you.

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Discussing our beliefs, is an important part of our faith.

Last Sunday I helped to facilitate on new church school class for adults. It is based on a video based program called NOOMA. NOOMA is a series of short films promoting spiritual reflections on individual life experiences. The name NOOMA comes from a phonetic spelling of the Greek word πνευμα (pneuma), meaning “wind”, “spirit”, or “breath”. The video series consists of 24 videos featuring Christian teacher Rob Bell. It is a series of short films that explore our world from a perspective of Jesus. NOOMA is an invitation to search, question, and join the discussion.

Jesus lived with the awareness that God is doing something, right here, right now, and anybody can be a part of it. He encouraged his listeners to search, to question, to wrestle with the implications of what he was saying and doing. He inspired, challenged, provoked, comforted, and invited people to be open to God’s work in this world. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Jesus started discussions about what matters most, because for Jesus, God is always inviting us to open our eyes and join in.

The video we discussed for our first session was

Breathe: “Our physical breath is actually a picture of a deeper spiritual reality.”

A couple years ago I wrote about the importance of the word breathe:

And so, I looked through the list of videos and picked this one. The video gave me another perspective on my word.

Is our physical breath actually a picture of a deeper spiritual reality?

With everything that we’ve got going on every day, how many of us ever think about our breathing, about the meaning of breathing? Yet, for thousands of years, people have understood that our physical breath is a picture of a deeper spiritual reality. In the Bible, the word for “breath” is the same as the word for “spirit.” There’s an inherent dilemma at the core of what makes us human. We’ve all been created in the image of God and possess immense power and strength. And at the same time, our lives are incredibly vulnerable and fragile. Maybe if we had more insight into the meaning of breathing, we would better understand how God created us as human beings.

Next Sunday we will be discussing

Rain: “Where’s God when life isn’t going like we want it to?”

Things don’t always work out the way we want them to, or the way we think they will. Sometimes we don’t even see it coming. We get hit with some form of pain out of nowhere leaving us feeling desperate and helpless. That’s the way life is. Still, it makes us wonder how God can let these things happen to us. How God can just stand by and watch us suffer. Where is God when it really hurts? Maybe God is actually closer to us than we think. Maybe it’s when we’re in these situations, where everything seems to be falling apart, that God gets an opportunity to remind us of how much he really loves us.

I hope you will consider joining us.

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Confession is good for the soul.

I have to make a confession. And since no one reads my thoughts, I figure this a safe place to do so. (I am just kidding, I thank each of you who takes the time to read my wandering thoughts)

My confession is that I am scared of dying. I am absolutely terrified. It isn’t the actual process of dying, although I am not looking forward to that, but it is the thought of not being alive. As a woman of faith, my heart tells me that I have nothing to fear. My heart tells me that I will take my final breath here and then be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven. My heart tells me that I should excited for what comes next:

  • I will get to see the Son of God, who died for my sins.
  • I will be in the presence of our Father.
  • I will be reunited with all those who have gone before me and meet the ancestors who helped to shape my life.
  • I will be saved.

God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself.    Psalm 49:15

But, I am still scared. My heart may know those things, but my head can’t get wrapped around it. My head tries to understand how this can all be true. I am afraid that I will be forgotten and that I have not done enough here to have made a difference.

We are constantly told that we should do our best not to “leave a footprint” on the earth. Environmentalists tell us that we each are doing harm to the planet and should try to leave without there being any sign that we were here. In that way, I do hope that I leave the world better than I found it. But the “footprints” I do want to leave are the ones that are on the hearts of those I have known. I hope that I have lived a life that has been pleasing to God, and that He will be as happy to see me as I am to see Him.

Give your fears over to God, He is up all night anyway…..     Author unknown

So tonight, I am going to give my fears to God. Something that is very hard for me to do. I am going to ask Him to help calm my fears and help me to find better ways to spend my time. I am going to try to live a life that pleases Him, and look forward to the day I see His face.

Dear God,
Thank you for all you have given me. Thank you for making a promise to us that Christ died so that we may live with you in eternity. Please help me to trust in that promise and stop worrying about what happens after this life, knowing Jesus has already died so that I can live.

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What is age?

You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. George Burns

Is there a magic number when a person is considered old? How do you feel about aging? Do you fear aging or do you embrace the course of nature? I think it is all a matter of perspective. I know a young man in his late 20’s who says that when he turns 30, he will be old and thus dead inside. On the other hand, some years ago I met a woman in her 90’s who said she never felt a day over 30. Their perspective on that number is obviously very different.

I will admit that my 30th birthday was one that I struggled with. I approached the day with dread about being “so old”. I am going to throw my mom under the bus and blame that feeling on her. (Sorry Mom!) Throughout my childhood, on each of her birthdays, she would announce that she was turning 29, again. Without thinking about it, I convinced myself that no one would ever want to turn 30. A woman that I loved and respected didn’t want to, so why would I ever want to? But I did turn 30, and then 40, and then 50… And I am still aging. My perspective on that age has changed too.

Today, while serving lunch to an elderly woman through Meals on Wheels, she said:

“Don’t ever get old, it is miserable!”

It took every fiber of my being to not explode. You see, in the years since that 30th birthday, I have learned some important life lessons. I have learned that growing old is a privilege not a curse. I have learned to appreciate each grey hair as a gift given to me as I “get” to enjoy each passing day. I have learned that I “get” to age, a privilege that not everyone gets.

Yes, as we age, our bodies show the signs of living. But today, I will remember that the aches and pains of growing older are so much better than the aches and pains that some must suffer through at a much earlier age. I will remember that moving slower will be the result of the years that I got to run. I will remember that my memory getting worse is because I have been blessed with so many memories through the years. And I will continue to thank God for all he has given me, including more candles on my birthday cake.

Dear God,
As humans, so many of us fear aging. We fear the thought of losing our independence and our abilities. We complain about getting old, without thinking about how lucky we are to have long lives. Help me to appreciate each day as the gift that it is. And until the day we are welcomed to your kingdom, may we appreciate the life that you have given us here.
In Jesus name,

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Please pray for Tom

Last week I told you that my goal was going to be looking for new ways to enjoy life.  I wore my silly socks, I made faces at a baby, I did the jump around at the Badger football game.  I bought presents for a friend, I helped plan a first birthday party and I sat in my garden.  I sang along to my IPod while I volunteered at American Cancer Society. I spent the week not worrying about what others might think of me.  And, I enjoyed it.

It was not a selfish week, not a week of my joy at the expense of others (although anyone who had to hear me sing might argue with that!).  I did things that I enjoy, and shared that joy with others around me.  It was all just simple ways to enjoy the world around me.  I needed it.  Deep in my heart there is sadness.

A year ago I wrote about Jack:

A couple weeks ago I learned that Jack’s God-father, who is also a friend of our family, was diagnosed with a terrible disease that has no cure. Today we got to visit them at an open house. It was great to see them, but emotionally draining to see what is happening to the mind of a man who is so strong and eloquent. We first met him when he wrote an article about Ryan nearly 10 years ago and a final article after Ryan passed away:

So tomorrow I will continue to look for and share simple joy in life.  I will appreciate each and every day that I wake up, in honor of those who would simply wish for one more day. I hope that you find joy this week too.

Dear God,
This world is full of human pain and suffering.  We all have struggles and we all have pain.  Each day we are faced with things that try to beat us down. Thank you for caring for us, for loving us and for giving us a hope of the joy we will find at your side in your kingdom.  Please help Tom and his family find peace.  Help his doctors and nurses to ease his suffering. Show us all how to help him.

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