Thursday, October 25, 2012

Savoring the Stories

(This year, my church is reading chronologically through the Bible. We have an accompanying blog, which I write on from time to time. The following blog is my most recent entry posted there.)

Only one chapter today in our daily reading! A light day…hooray!

(Read Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded. Attempt to close my Bible. Reopen. Reread Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded…)

Wow, how many sermons and teachings based on this one chapter have I heard? Sending out the seventy-two. Demons submitting to them. The Good Samaritan. And the infamous Mary and Martha conflict. I confess that until this moment I didn’t realize they were all nestled into Luke 10. And I wonder, how many times have I rushed through Scripture without pondering the stories unfolding before me? Without considering the people who are involved? Without really listening to the voice of Jesus as he speaks?

These are not tall tales or fairy tales, but true tales of people who walked with Jesus, learned from him, and interacted with him. Consider the seventy-two. Jesus chooses them from the disciples following him and appoints them to go before him and prepare the way. He doesn’t send them blindly on their way, but he equips them for their mission. Then, they return to him, filled with joy, marveling at the effectiveness of their ministry: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (v. 17).

Frederick Buechner reminds me, “Whatever else they may be, the people in the Bible are real human beings,…and it is not the world of the Sunday School tract that they move through but a Dostyevskian world of darkness and light commingled, where suffering is sometimes redemptive and sometimes turns the heart to stone” (The Clown in the Belfry, p. 41). Hmmmm. Sounds a lot like the world that I am moving through. You?

Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two establish this truth: “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you…But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you’ ” (v. 8-9). Sometimes people will welcome the light; other times, they will reject it.

He then lovingly shepherds them through the experience of both acceptance and rejection: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me” (v. 16). Success wasn’t theirs to claim, and rejection wasn’t theirs to own. It was all about Jesus. It is still all about Jesus.

We are still chosen and called for a purpose. We are still equipped and empowered by Christ within us to move through this world and speak into the lives of others. And we are still wholly dependent on him for our successes and safe in him when we face rejection.

And that’s found in just the first 17 verses of Luke 10. There are 24 more verses to consider.

A light day? Maybe not.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Dear Students,

Recently I discovered a wonderful blog with some beautifully-written prose and poetry: This poem was especially timely as I am in the midst of my first semester of teaching in many years, and it expresses so powerfully the truth I yearn to communicate to the high school senoirs sitting in my class. Read, enjoy, and visit Becca's blog for more of her stunning writing.

Dear Students,

My dream for you
has very little to do with grades
or test scores.

Alone, they are nothing.
They are marks on a page
that filter into systems
where marks on a page
define too much.

For the eternity I have seen
is vast and wild,
and percentages could no more capture
what I have seen in you
than a formula of space miles
could capture the glory of a million fire suns
spinning blue and gold
in that cold, far silence
where the angels dance.

My fear for you
has little to do with those raw things
people your age tend to think aloud.

On the contrary, I am thankful that you are defiant
of convention for convention's sake,
of a flat, white, faux-Jesus,
of insufficient answers,
of a life without passion
and adventure.

I am thankful because these things tell me
you have not let the drowsy drone of earth
quell your newborn scream.

You are unsatisfied, child,
as you should be
with these clay-bound earth-breaths.
Be so always.

My only grievances are these:
you do not realize how beautiful you are,
or how powerful,
or how loved.

You have given up too soon
on yourself.

You have allowed sixteen years of
flat, red marks on flat, white pages
to name you;
and you ask me to nod while you toss out words
and scratch at equations,

This I will not do.
For I have heard your true name
whispered by the great Lion,
the One Who spoke worlds into being.

He showed me
the manner of royalty you are,
men and women created for greatness.

I will expect nothing less.

~ Becca, Little Boots Liturgies

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hearing the Music

Last night Tim posed the question, "How do I express my individuality?" He's part of a men's group, trudging through a fairly hefty workbook, and sometimes questions like this will bump into a dead end in his brain. He'll turn the question to me, hoping my response will kick start his own. (It often does.)

As I reasoned through the various things that I believe express my individuality, I realized that it would be easier to answer the reverse question, "How do I suppress my individuality?" This moment was an epiphany for me. Mostly because it has not always been true.

I spent a lot of my youth (as most youth do) wanting desperately to fit in. Then, somewhere in college, that shifted to a quest to discover who I was. Finally, out of nearly two decades of marriage and a dozen years of parenting, I have been stripped of pretense (most of it) so that the real me is exposed. (Who has the energy to maintain pretense in the midst of marriage and parenting?!)

As an observer of my own children, I realize that they ARE. They are who they are, and they always have been. Seth entered this world with a laid-back posture, kind demeanor, quiet soul, merciful spirit, and keen intelligence. Reed arrived with an energy and spirit, wit and creativity, spunk and sass very different than his brother. And as they have grown, these traits have continued.

It's my delight to nurture and protect these traits in them...this individuality...and to build them up when others want to tear them down (be like us, look like us, act like us...). It's fascinating to think of someday launching two adults who know who they are, whose they are, and what they have to offer this world.

As for me, I no longer apologize for my spunk and sass (wonder where Reed gets it), I cherish my creative bent, and I am grateful for those God has sent who cherish me and don't want to change me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Two weeks ago we moved from our home of ten years to a new house. Actually, it's an old house but new to us.

On the day of the move, I found myself lying on the floor of Reed's empty bed room crying. Not great heaving sobs, but quiet, heavy tears of remembrance. I laid on the dusty carpet and remembered painting the ocean mural that surrounded me, the giant red squid at my head. I saw the echos of bunk beds holding two chatty brothers night after night after night. I remembered middle-of-the-night calls, "Mom...can you come lay down with me?" All beautiful memories, all lived within these walls.

In this house, I rocked a baby, nursed a baby, and grew a baby into a boy. In this house, I loved a boy, snuggled a boy, and saw him turn into a teen. In this house, I expected a baby, prepared for a baby, and lost a baby. In this house, I loved with a whole heart, laughed with abandon, and cried with no shame.

It was a good house. And I am grateful.

Now, I'm nesting. Displaying photographs. Hanging art. Shelving books. All of those things that make a house a home for me. The creaks of this house are different. The nighttime shadows a little creepy. The scent of the rooms unfamiliar. And my spirit tells me, "Give it time..."

Sit in your favorite chair and enjoy the new view...

Snuggle beside Reed in his new bedroom...

Listen to the boys practicing their piano...

Watch the cat exploring every nook and cranny...

Take the dog out to run in the big backyard...

In time, these things will become routine, and the shadows will seem friendly and the smells will be intoxicating and the creaks will be endearing. Give it time...

Friday, August 10, 2012


Last weekend eight friends from across the country joined me in the Smoky Mountains for a girls' getaway. Now, I know what you're thinking: four days of sleeping in, eating out, and hitting the outlet malls. (After all, it WAS tax-free weekend!) As tempting as that plan sounds, our weekend looked very different.

You see, these ladies came into my life over the past two years as we served side-by-side at a women's retreat in Colorado. We joke that eight days shared at this retreat equals eight years in real time (kind of like human years/dog years). We've shared our stories with one another - the good, bad, and ugly. We've worshiped, laughed, cried, and learned how to listen and pray together.

And that is exactly what this weekend was all about. We didn't go into our time together with a plan. No schedule. No expectations. Instead, we each arrived with a desire to engage, to listen, to surrender, and to intercede. It was beautiful.

On Friday, we were all set to go tubing. How better to introduce outsiders to East Tennessee (other than a trip to Dollywood, perhaps)? Just as we were finishing lunch, however, thunder rumbled and the skies opened up with rain. Instead of withdrawing for naptime, we gathered in the living room and began to listen to Karen's story. Listening turned into praying.

It was like that throughout the weekend. One by one, we would talk about our lives, our fears, our desires, and where God is (or where we don't see him) at work. And we would pray. It was as natural and easy as having a conversation with a dear friend.

For much of my life I thought that for prayer to be effective it had to follow a certain formula. If I missed a step (i.e. confession), then my words would either not reach God's ears or he would dismiss me because I'd not followed correct protocol. What I'm learning is that only one thing is required for effective prayer: surrender.

When we surrender in prayer, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and to provide the words. Romans 8:26-27 explains it this way: "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."

Prayer (or any other part of our life in Christ) isn't about method, requirement, or duty. If it is fear-based or formulaic, then I'd pose it's not Spirit led. I've found that true communion - with God and with others - comes when we lay everything else down to be present and to surrender. My weekend left me with such gratitude: for beautiful friends who are following God, fierce allies who are willing to pray, a patient God who continues to shepherd me, and the sweet experience of surrendering in prayer.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Welcome Home

Our family has been packing for a move. Not across the country or even across town. We’re simply moving a few miles to a house close to my husband’s work. However, we’ve learned through nearly twenty years of marriage and now six moves, every move is a big move. This one seems especially big as I sort through ten years of accumulated “stuff” and recall the ten years of memories that have taken place within these walls.

As I have processed all of these times – both the bitter and the sweet (mostly sweet) – I have remembered the gatherings, both large and small, that we’ve been privileged to host through the years. The people who have graced us with their presence…

The small group that circled round our den to study the Word, watch the Superbowl, or share a meal. Couples that joined us for a game of Canasta or Scrabble. Girlfriends who offered me connection while I offered simply a mug of Chai. Elders who gathered late on Wednesday nights. And our son’s small group that somehow makes a weekly Bible study a rowdy, full-contact sport.

While each of these encounters differed, they all shared one common trait: They were all expressions of community. Through the years I’ve learned that when we open our home to others, we open our hearts to them as well. These people shared laughter and tears, joy and sorrow with us. They filled this home with life and brought their own unique voice into the conversations that have taken place here. And most importantly, they have revealed Christ to us…how he loves us, how he accepts us, and how he provides relationships to nurture, console, encourage, and grow us.

I recently read a plaque that said, “Welcome home. Feel free to be yourself.” Yes! As a family, we yearn for those who enter our front door to feel comfortable being who they are…the good, the bad, and the ugly. For our guests to feel so at home they can kick their shoes off (or keep them on); they can sit in the well-worn armchair that clearly says, “I’m the favorite” and feel at ease; and they can share their hearts and know they are safe.

My parents had their own plaque hanging at the entrance to their house. It read, “To all who enter here, know this is a Christian home.” A visiting friend once remarked, “Whoa, that’s serious!” Perhaps he read it with an inferred tone of warning. I actually like that declaration because it makes a promise: This home is a place of peace where love is real, forgiveness is offered freely, grace is plenty, and you are always welcome.

As we continue life in a new house, we pray that it is exactly this kind of home. One where Christ reigns and community thrives. You are welcome. (Just give me a few weeks to unpack the boxes!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beach Bliss

Celebrating the 14th Annual Dunham/Tucker/Nelson Beach Trip! This year we vacationed in Seagrove Beach, Florida, where the entire family (including two dogs) got away for a week of rest and play. Here are some photos from our fun week together:


Celebrating Tim's birthday (below):

 Amazing seeing how the boys have grown up from year to year on this annual trip!

Our family 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hungering for Holiness

Let me start with a confession: I never read the book of Leviticus from start to finish…until this year. I mean, after Creation and the Fall, Noah and the flood, the stories of the Patriarchs, slavery in Egypt, and the Exodus, Leviticus seemed like an engineering textbook misshelved between well-worn copies of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Usually, I’d skim through it (or skip right over) to keep the story moving.

This time because our church is reading through the Bible together, I was motivated me to keep reading. And I discovered something incredible in the pages of Leviticus. To imagine my surprise, join me in reading through Chapter 11. God is sharing a rather detailed list of clean and unclean food with Moses and Aaron. It appears that fins + scales = clean. Flying insects + jointed legs = clean. Cud chewer + no divided hoof = unclean. The weasel, rat, and skink are also off limits, I learn.

Let’s pick up this appetizing education in verse 42:
You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all fours or on many feet; it is unclean. Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them.
That’s when we get to the verse that arrested my attention—verse 44: “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

I keep reading, and there it is again in chapter 19 verse 2. God tells Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’ ” And again I read it in chapter 20 verse 7: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.”

There’s a new thought—a God-given instruction with huge implications—planted right in the middle of Leviticus. Until this point, we’ve seen the word “holy” used only a few times in the Scripture: once in Genesis referring to the Sabbath and three times in Exodus referring to the tabernacle, the altar, and the offerings. But here in Leviticus, it is applied to mankind.

What exactly does it mean to “be holy”? The Hebrew definition of holy (kadosh) is “set apart for a purpose,” and in Greek, holy (hagios) also means “the set-apart ones; set apart (or sanctified) for a separate purpose.”

Lest we think this is an instruction solely given to the Law-abiding Israelites, and thus not applicable to those of us living under grace, let’s look ahead to the New Testament. In 1 Peter 1:15-16, we read, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ ” Sound familiar? When God instructs mankind to “be holy,” he means us.

How are we to “be holy” or “set apart”? I’m caught by the wording of these verses. God doesn’t declare, “You are holy, because I am holy.” No, he instructs us, “Be holy…” We have influence here—that free will that we’ve seen in action since Eve decided to eat in Genesis 1. What does it look like in the matter of holiness? Jerry Bridges, in his book The Pursuit of Holiness, explains it this way:
No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking; He does not do that for us.
A.W. Tozer explains, “The holy man is not one who cannot sin. A holy man is one who will not sin” [emphasis mine]. So, is holiness merely a matter of behavior? Wise choices? Sin avoidance? No, it’s so much more. I like the way Charles Spurgeon clarifies the difference: “Holiness is better than moral­ity. It goes beyond it. Holiness affects the heart.”

“Holiness affects the heart.” When I became a Christian at the age of seven, the pastor invited me to “ask Jesus to live in my heart.” For many years, I thought of these words as merely a church-y saying rather than the unbelievable truth that it is: When I received Christ, my heart of stone was replaced with a heart of flesh (Ez. 11:19). Paul explains, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

So, what does holiness look like? For a glimpse, let’s turn to the Psalms and consider the words of David, described as a man after God’s own heart (i.e. holy):
Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever. Psalm 86:11-12

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sweet Summertime

For the past eleven years, I have been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. This gift is never sweeter than the summer months when my boys are home from school. Our days are leisurely, long, and lazy...what else should a summer day be? Seth and Reed's favorite days are those we've labeled "pajama days," and they are exactly that. They lounge in their pjs all day, with nothing but free time stretching ahead of them. Bliss.

I confess that sometimes I tap into my inner child and leave on my pjs too. It feels luxurious to enjoy drawstring pants, a sloppy tank top, and a disheveled ponytail all day long. We curl up on the couch and watch back-to-back episodes of "Chopped," our latest television treat, evaluating each of the chefs and imagining what eclectic ingredients would be in our "mystery baskets."

These sweet summer days won't last forever. It dawned on me recently that we only have four summers left with Seth after this one passes. And most likely during some of those summer days he will be experiencing his first taste of the working world. This awareness makes me savor these days all the more.

For boys curled in their beds with sunshine coloring their flawless skin. For the sight of them playing side-by-side. For the sound of them chatting it up. And for the desire they have to still cuddle up with mama on the couch. It is a gift that I do not take forgranted.

Friday, June 29, 2012


We've been contemplating a move recently, and I confess that the mere thought of packing up and leaving our home of 10 years raises quite a bit of anxiety in me. Anxiety is often stalking me, waiting for me to allow it to dig in. It's never good when I give it such permission. It's not a welcome friend, but rather a nasty parasite, like a tick, that sucks the peace and joy from my heart and life.

So, recognizing the sight of this all-to-familiar foe, I began to pray against it. As I laid in bed, thinking about the move and being honest about the emotions that were stirring within me, I had this thought: "It wouldn't be an adventure if it wasn't at least a little bit scary."

That's true. By nature, an adventure requires that we step out in faith, that we take a risk, that we leave the known for the unknown. That is unsettling and scary. And it's not a bad thing.

I could chose a life of comfort and determine it's better to stay in the boat than to rock it. Yet, that is not the life I desire or the life I am called to. It's not the life that any of us are called to. We are called to follow God where he leads...and that is oftentimes surprising, unsettling, and scary. Think Abram. Moses. David. Ester. Paul...

We have heard of a local family who recently followed the call to move their family to Ghana to minister to the people there. They were obedient, and now their family of six is adjusting to this new home in a very new and different land. We have friends who are moving their family, including four little ones, to Guatemala for the next year. They will minister as they work to provide clean water to the village that they will call home for the next year.

Our upcoming adventure is nothing like these two brave, faithful families who have left everything for the sake of the call. After all, we are not leaving town, changing jobs, or trading schools. Yet, their example encourage me to live with courage, move forward (even in the uncertainties), and embrace the unknown as part of the adventure.

What a gift to have visible reminders in faithful friends of what it means to live by faith, not by sight.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

44 Hours

Three years ago this month I went on my first international mission trip. And it lasted 44 hours.

No, that wasn’t the plan. Our small team from Providence intended to spend five days in Haiti ministering to a group of orphaned children. Instead, I spent one day traveling to Haiti, one day with the children, and one day traveling home. You see, a member of our team became seriously ill on our second night in Haiti, and two of us had to accompany her back home.

As the drama of that event unfolded, it looked like I would be able to stay in Haiti to complete the trip. Then, only minutes before reaching the Port Au Prince airport, I learned I would be leaving too. My bag remained at the hotel; my goodbyes to teammates left unsaid; my hugs to the children not given. Luckily I had taken the sage advice of my husband and had my passport and identification in a pouch around my neck. I was homeward bound.

I confess the days immediately following the trip were filled with grief for what I had missed. For my all-too-brief time with the lovely, loving children. For my inability to “do more.” In time, however, God brought clarity and revealed how much he actually accomplished through that brief experience.

The first lesson I learned prior to leaving for Haiti. You see, I was battling anxiety as I thought about leaving my two young sons to go on such a trip. What if something happened to me? What would happen to them? Who could love them, affirm them, cherish them as I could? As I considered questions such as these, God asked, “Do you trust me?”

My immediate response was, “Yes, of course I trust you.” His reply struck me mute: “Do you trust your children to me? Am I enough for them?” I had to wrestle with that one. Did I trust that if something happened to me the boys would be okay? Did I believe God would care for them and nurture them? In the end, God helped break a stronghold of fear in the heart of this mother.

The second lesson was an insight regarding the qualifications for missioning. Henri Nouwen asks it best: “What is required of a man or a woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times and speak a word of hope?” Recently I revisited my personal blog, where I found this post dated May 23, 2009:
“As children of God, believers in Jesus Christ, and His disciples on this earth, we often find ourselves asking this same question. I know I do. And the word God has kept bringing me back to over these past several weeks is COMPASSION.”
Brennan Manning defines compassion, “The etymology of the word compassion lies in two Latin words, cum and patior, meaning to suffer with, to endure with, to struggle with, and to partake of the hunger, nakedness, loneliness, pain, and broken dreams of our brothers and sisters in the human family.” Manning’s words affirmed my mission and my qualifications for the Haiti trip: “To live in the name of Jesus Christ is to bear the name Compassionate One.”

The final lesson is one I was recently reminded of as I read through the story of Ester. As Ester ponders her situation in the palace of King Ahasuerus and the choice before her, Mordecai says those familiar words, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

For such a time as this. As we read the Scripture or examine history, we see people who God appoints for certain tasks: Moses, Ester, King David, Paul, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Hudson Taylor to name a few. When we think of these giants, we don’t feel adequate, do we? I learned through my trip to Haiti that God does appoint us for certain times and specific tasks, and it doesn’t take a giant to fulfill his charge. Just someone surrendered to his will and obedient to his call. He provides the power.

Looking back, I realize that it doesn’t take five days, five weeks, or even five years for God to accomplish his will. He operates outside of our notion of time. Most often it seems he operates like a farmer, cultivating crops that take time to mature. Yet, if he desires, he can bring forth a harvest in as little as 44 hours.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Teenager? Impossible!

How can it be?!
Today this sweet smile is 13 years old.
This golden heart belongs to a teenager.

While the world wants to fill our hearts with dread
for these teen years,
Your dad and I look ahead with nothing but hope and joy.
You will be what you have always been...

Kind, compassionate, tender and loving.
God made you that way, He will protect you,
and He will establish you.

We are blessed and honored to be witnesses
to your life.

Happy 13th birthday, Seth!!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fiery Field Day

The Burnett Bulldogs were fired up for fourth grade field day! Though they didn't take home the trophy, they showed plenty of spirit as they chanted up and down the halls, "Who let the dogs out?! Whoo, Whoo-Whoo!" Proud of our own bulldog and the spirit and hard work he showed on field day and each day of his fourth grade year.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beauty and Story

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Storyline Conference at Belmont University. My sister, Beth, attended Belmont more than a decade ago, and I hadn't been on its campus since her wedding in 1996 (she married at Belmont Mansion, pictured above). What a beautiful campus!

The writer Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz among other titles) leads the Storyline Conference, and it was a thought-provoking two days. Miller challenges people to examine the stories they are telling with their lives and to consider how they can live better stories...stories that bring life, affect change, and usher in the Kingdom.

Three men that Miller interviewed during the conference were true inspirtations to me: Jamie Tworkowski (, Al Andrews (, and Bob Goff ( Visit each of their websites to learn about these men, their lives, and their stories. Wow!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Double Digits

Ten years ago the sun shone brighter...
The sky was bluer...
We all smiled wider...
We welcomed a true wonder.

Happy 10th birthday Reed!
You are sunshine, blue skies, smiles, and a wonder,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Eggheads

It's no small miracle that I got these three to stand still and smile for this Easter photograph. While the days of matching plaid shorts and fancy Easter baskets are gone, I was thrilled to receive a request for our annual egg hunt. It may be the last time our near teen participates in the festivity, so that makes it all the more sweeter. Happy Easter to all!

Resurrection Moment

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Luke 24:1-6

"The love of Jesus is the most prevailing and magnificent force in the world: stronger than every rejection, every failure, every tragedy, every worry, and every hurt. Until a resurrection moment occurs, until the unlimited, unbridled, and unrelenting love of God takes root in our life, until God’s reckless pursuit of us captures our imagination, until our head knowledge of God settles into our heart through pure grace, nothing really changes.

The love of God; that irrepressible force that resurrected Jesus from death and rolled back the stone that sealed his tomb, setting him free, is unlike any other love. And it’s not based on anything we do. If it was, and that 'anything' somehow gave way, then wouldn’t His love disintegrate as well? Yet that’s the furthest thing from what could possibly happen. Nothing is stronger or deeper than His love. As 1 John 4:16 says, 'God is love.' ”

Fil Anderson

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:28-30

"The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr. His death was not something that happened to Him— something that might have been prevented. His death was the very reason He came.

Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us. That contradicts the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ. It makes the Cross unnecessary, and the redemption “much ado about nothing.” God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ. God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death. “We see Jesus . . . for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor . . .” (Hebrews 2:9). The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ— “It is finished!” (John 19:30). That is the final word in the redemption of humankind."

from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


As Lent concludes, and with it my Lenten observance, I pause to reflect. Before moving out of this season, I want to consider how I moved through it. And to do so honestly. That's the difficult part. I feel like I should start with a disclaimer, a excuse. However, I'm not. Instead, I am going to extend some grace to myself and accept what this Lent was rather than what it (or I) was not.

This year I intended to observe Lent by mindfully, soulfully, and faithfully praying, worshipping, and writing. As I reflect, I acknowledge that I only met with success in the practice of writing...and even in this I regularly had to remind myself of the original call, remain aware of my motivations, and resist the urge to write out of duty rather than desire.

A blog I recently read posed the question, "Have you fallen prey to Lenten angst? Where have you been relying on muscling yourself into change, and where have you relied on the Spirit?" The writer defines Lenten angst as "Seeking to overcome the flesh through fleshly effort; unwitting (and ill-fated) attempts to will oneself to a higher spiritual plane."

I admit that the past 40 days were sprinkled with a fair amount of Lenten angst. The villian named Forgetfulness also snuck onto the scene to distract me from it was all truly about. And in the end, I am left rethinking the decision to take up rather than lay down during the season of Lent. These are all thoughts I will ponder between now and next year.

I appreciate this explanation from writer Valerie Hess. She reminds me: "The forty day journey to Easter that Christ-followers make each year is called Lent, from the Old English word that means “lengthen.” The days are lengthening and our souls are invited to lengthen also. By that, I mean we are invited to journey from where we are to a more complete version of who God created us to be. We do that through the disciplines of Lent."

Pastor Keith Meyer echoes, "The desired result is not just a seasonal increase of activity that wanes after Lent, but for deeper character for every day of the year."

So, as Lent concludes, I ponder, "Am I a more complete version of who God created me to be?" I give thanks for all that I learned through this season. And I pray that the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth have been pleasing to God.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


A walk in the woods this weekend evidenced the coming of Spring as life pushed through the pine needles and dead leaves. Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) was blooming profusely, and its white flowers shone like diamonds on the dull earth.

The temptation is the reach for the budding beauties to take one home; however, as Wikipedia instructs, "Picking a trillium seriously injures the plant by preventing the leaf-like bracts from producing food for the next year. A plant takes many years to recover."

It's difficult for us to have self-control, isn't it? I've noticed people stopping alongside Pellissippi Parkway, the main road leading to my home, to pick armfuls of the gorgeous daffodils that bloom there. Though there are signs posted forbidding this behavior, they can't seem to resist. And it drives me crazy. I want to honk my horn and shout "Stop!" The daffodils are there to herald Spring to all passersby.

Yet, despite my irritation of their behavior, I can act in the same way. When I pull out a camera to capture a scene on film rather than just being in the moment and letting my heart capture it. When I feel compelled to write about an experience rather than just remaining present and letting it wash over me.

We want to capture the beauty, freeze the moment, and cling to the glory that passes before our eyes. If we could understand our place in it...not as onlooker, but as participant...and cherish it as a gift, then the beauty would still bloom in our hearts long after the petals have fallen.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Removing Myself

This weekend our church is having a women's retreat - the first one we've had in quite a long while. While many things pull at my shirt tail to keep me home, I am prying their grip and heading to the mountains.

As I prepare for this time away, I consider this idea of retreat. Let me continue to introduce you to Conversations Journal with the article "Thin Times and Thin Places," written by Margaret Guenther. In this excerpt, she contemplates the idea of retreating and Jesus' own example. She writes,

For me a retreat is a prayerful going apart, removing myself for a brief time from the clutter and busyness of everyday life. I’ve learned about this from Jesus. Again and again, he simply walks away from activity - preaching, teaching, healing, sharing meals with friends, and sparring skillfully with those who would trip him up. He goes away to pray, sometimes with his friends and sometimes alone. We’re not sure exactly what this means: Scripture is very sparing of details about means and method. Sometimes the crowd follows him, and often it is waiting when he returns. Remember his return from the Mount of Transfiguration: he enters immediately into a scene of agitation and activity, where the disciples have tried in vain to heal the epileptic boy, the scribes are arguing, and the crowd is surging. Real life is never far away.

The lesson here is clear: the retreat comes in the midst of life with all its demands. “Real life” awaits us upon our return. If we wait until there is time, we will never follow Jesus’ example and go apart.
How true! How often do we deny ourselve these moments of retreat and renewal because we have so many other demands vying for our time and attention? If we wait for a good time to get away, we'll never get there. These words of Ms. Guenther were so good and timely as I prepare to leave behind soccer games, tennis lessons, and loads of laundry and enter into a time of personal and communal retreat.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Publication Plug

In yesterday's blog post, I referenced Conversations Journal. My friend, Tara, is the Senior Editor, and for some time I've been a fan of CJ's Facebook page and perused their website. Recently, however, I realized it wasn't enough and I became a subscriber of this fantastic publication. Published twice a year, Conversations Journal examines one theme thoroughly in each issue.

Currently I am making my way through the issue "The Problem of Pain." With articles written by Philip Yancey, Richard Foster, Larry Crabb, and many other excellent writers, it is not only thought-provoking, but it feels like engaging in a master class on spiritual transformation and the journey of the heart.

Please visit Conversations Journal at and be blessed by what you will find there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spirit-Led Lent

When the season of Lent began, I felt the call - and desire - to write again. To do this, I've tried to blog every day (except Sundays) these past five weeks. I'll be's been quite a challenge. I hadn't written anything in nearly a year, so to go from there to writing (and publishing) daily was going from a dry spell to a downpour overnight.

It's been a challenge to write from desire rather than duty too. If I sit down at the keyboard and feel angst about what I'm doing, then I try to walk away. However, I have also had to resist the temptation to give up. Instead, I have to tune in to the Spirit's movement...when I am writing, what I am writing, why I am writing.

On Conversations Journal's blog, Chuck Conniry wrote a thoughtful post entitled "Lenten Angst." It was a timely reminder of what Lent is all about and why we adopt any kind of Lenten practice. Here's a excerpt:

Lent invokes a tug-of-war between our better and worse selves—a tug-of-war to which we would otherwise be oblivious. “The flesh” is that part of our sinful selves that salvation has dethroned but not destroyed. Whenever our flesh goes unchallenged, we are at rest—at home in our less-than-noble selves, blissfully unaware of the spiritual apathy that is silently suffocating our souls. And whenever we apply pressure to the flesh, the struggle commences anew.

In the season of Lent (and in Lenten-like moments throughout the rest of the year), we are drawn from the troughs of slumbering indifference toward new peaks of spiritual vibrancy. But this process is not painless, and the route from trough to peak is hardly intuitive. It produces what we could call “Lenten angst” – a phenomenon that occurs whenever we apply pressure to the flesh.

This is precisely the point at which Lent poses its greatest risk. Like the default setting on my Internet browser, my first inclination is to seek to overcome the flesh through my own (fleshly) effort. My friend’s question—actually my visceral reaction to his question—alerted me to my own Lenten angst, which is nothing other than the product of my unwitting (and ill-fated) attempts to will myself to a higher spiritual plane.

Paul recalibrates our spiritual settings when he says, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). In other words, trust the Holy Spirit to bear the appropriate fruit in your life (cf. vv. 22-25).

Rightly understood, Lent puts us in a space in which we make ourselves available to the ongoing transformative work of the Spirit. It reorients our interest to things spiritual—and challenges us to lean on the Spirit whenever we feel the creep of Lenten angst.
I have certainly found Mr. Conniry's words to be true as I've practiced the discipline of writing throughout Lent. When I try to make myself write, I am rendered mute. When I make myself available, the Spirit can move in me and through me, can speak to me and through me, and can sustain me and equip me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gift of Grace

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4-10

Grace. It's a such a hard concept to understand and such a difficult gift for us to accept. Even though salvation is bestowed freely when we receive Christ, we live as though it is still somehow up to us. The familiar "works vs. faith" debate.

This has, of course, come up in my Bible study of Romans. In the first three chapters that we've been studying, Paul is writing to the Roman believers about the Law and its role in the lives of Jews, Gentile, believers, and unbelievers. Our discussions reveal how tempting it is for Christians today to still live under the deception that our works somehow earn or secure our salvation.

My pastor recently wrote an excellent blog post about this very topic: Please take a moment to read his thoughts. They may bring clarity to you or help you offer peace to someone else.

Monday, March 26, 2012


This year our church is reading through the Bible together. In the past three months, we've read through the first five books - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy - as well as Job. (We're following a chronological reading plan.) I have to confess...I've never read the Bible through, cover to cover.

Likely I've read it all in a hop-skip-jump fashion given the fact that I've been in Sunday school, church, and Bible studies since my diaper days. However, when I recently perservered through Leviticus I had to acknowledge I'd probably never read that entire book. Now I have. Whew!

I'm also engaged in an inductive Bible study in Romans with a group of ladies. We spent the first four Wednesdays of the study covering Romans 1. So, to compare the two approaches to Scripture, one is like a loop on the Daytona 500, the other like a pony ride at the county fair.

However, something extremely cool happened recently during our Wednesday morning group. I forgot what we were talking about. Or more specifically whether we were talking about Romans or the Old Testament Scripture I've been reading. No, it wasn't a ministroke. It was the realization that it's all connected, it's all the same story, it's all the same truth.

Here are a few verses from this week's study of Romans 3:
What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. (verses 1-2)

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (verses 19-20)

For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (verses 29-31)
Imagine spending months reading about God giving the Israelites the Law while also reading Scripture like this from the New Testament?! It is incredible to see God at work throughout history and communicating through a book penned by more than 40 authors, written over a 1,600 year period from 1500 B.C. (Job) to 95 A.D. (Revelation), but inspired by the one and only Holy Spirit.

Even though I know that the Bible is inspired by God and is one story unfolding from Genesis to Revelation, I've always paid attention to the divisions in the book I hold in my hand: books, chapters, and the big one - that white page two-thirds through the book with the words in capital letters: New Testament. Those designations subtly separate the story I'm reading.

In this moment in Bible study, however, I was reminded how it is all one story, HIS story, in a fresh way that stole my breath. What a gift, after years of reading, studying, and learning His Word, to have it surprise me yet again! I echo the writer of Hebrews: "The word of God is alive and active."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chef Seth

Our family stands on a precipice, and from all we've heard the journey ahead will be daunting...we will soon have a TEENAGER. Cue scary music.

Now, maybe I'm just optimistic, but I don't buy it. It seems that in every new phase we've entered with our boys, I've remarked at least one time to Tim, "I wish I could freeze time. This is my favorite age." In my deep heart, I feel I will utter these words again about my teenage sons.

As Seth sits just six weeks shy of his 13th birthday, I can say it continues to be a delight to watch him bloom. Yes, we already have inexplicable mood swings and sullen states that are difficult to endure, but let's be family puts up with the same from me from time to time (and my teen years are oh-so-far behind me).

Among his interests is a new desire to cook. He has certain favorite dishes that he wants to learn how to prepare. So, this past Saturday, he tackled his second recipe (enchiladas being the first): Cashew Nut Chicken. Can I just say, "Yum!"? Seth wasn't too pleased because our recipe was the Chinese version and not the spicier Thai version he'd hoped for. So, we're back to the cookbooks to modify it for his second try.

As a mom, I couldn't be more thrilled to watch Seth grow...even into a teenager. I thought there would be sadness as he grows up and needs me less; however, I am learning that he doesn't need me less, just differently, and that whether we sit snuggled in a rocking chair or stand shoulder-to-shoulder over a steaming skillet, we share a precious bond that may change but will never break.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fishy Friday

Luckily the fish were biting today! Tim, Seth, and Reed enjoyed a day on the water with our friend, Bruce, and they were some fortunate fishermen. From their account, they caught 20-30 fish. Could it be a fish tale? I'll just have to take them at their word!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Since writing about Psalm 91 and considering Moses' journey, I've found myself stewing on this idea: [Moses] has seen God, talked with God, and experienced God like none other. He has witnessed the power and glory of God, and he wants God, not land. He knows the journey is about something much greater than an inheritance of land."

Writing that triggered an awareness in me. The awareness that so often my gaze is on the journey right before me: nurturing a good marriage, raising good kids, being a good Christian... Is The Good Life what this journey is all about?

Honestly, it sometimes feels this way. My default setting is to live like the path of "good wife, mom, Christian" is the path leading toward fulfillment. In the end, I should have a happy marriage, well-adjusted, productive children, and a satisfying ministry most likely in my church of choice.

And that makes me sad. Because that is not what I want in the end. Just like Moses didn't want an inheritance of land to be the culmination of his story, I don't want "good" to be the culmination of mine. Of course I want a marriage that endures, children that thrive, and a spiritual life that is vibrant; however, I want something else more.

I want God. I want to encounter and engage God in the same way as Moses. I want intimacy with Him. I want to communicate with Him. I want to be obedient, humble, yielded, and satisfied. I want to look beyond the "good" of this world and see the "great" of the one beyond.

Imagine Moses as he climbed Mount Nebo. He wasn't filled with grief or regret or bitterness. Oh no, likely he was bursting with joy and with anticipation - not because he was going to see the Promised Land, but because he knew was going to soon be in the presence of God forever.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dwelling Place

Preface: This year I am editing a blog for our church's website. It corresponds to the special journey we are taking as a church: reading through the Bible together being one aspect of it. From time to time, I also write for it. Here is the blog posted today...thought it could serve double duty by appearing on Tucker Tracks too.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:9-12
It’s so tempting to read Scripture in isolation. To take a passage and make life application with no thought to author, audience, context, or what the rest of the Bible says. For example, in reading Psalm 91, I can celebrate the fact that I can look forward to a life free from harm, disaster, and even stubbed toes!

Hmmm. Wait a minute…If that’s true, then why did my son whack his big toe on his dresser last night? Ouch. And why has my husband been struggling with illness these past eight weeks? And, come to think of it, why did last week’s storm damage our roof?

What’s one to make of the promises of Psalm 91 when we can look around Providence on any given Sunday and see faithful believers suffering and dealing with disasters of their own?

That’s part of the beauty and benefit of reading through the Bible, as we are with The Journey. We are thoroughly immersed in context and can, thus, interpret what we’re reading through the lens of the rest of Scripture. No verse or passage is examined in isolation like a lone star in the sky. Instead, we’re seeing the constellation surrounding it and the bigger picture it reveals.

So, let’s consider Psalm 91, because I confess it is a difficult one for me to understand given what I see around me and experience in my own life.

First, who wrote Psalm 91? If you look for an author to be named, you won’t find one. Many biblical scholars suggest, however, that Moses is its author based on the fact that he wrote the preceding Psalm 90. Also, a bit of unique phrasing in Psalm 91 is similar to a phrase in Deuteronomy, also written by Moses.*

What difference does it make to consider the author when reading Psalm 91? Well, clearly it’s not crucial, or God would have inspired a byline; however, I find it helpful to consider that these are likely Moses’ words. Why?

Well, as we conclude our reading of the Pentateuch (the five books authored by Moses), I feel like we’ve gotten to know him fairly well. We’ve been fortunate to see his story unfold from babe in a basket to hothead in the field, from murderer to exile, from reluctant follower to faithful servant to humble leader. And we’ve certainly seen him deal with challenges, disappointments, and disasters.

Moses, who dwells (yashab: to abide, to remain) with God, speaks of a rescue and a rest that one experiences only in God and even in the midst of hardship. His eyes were fixed on God and set on a Promised Land beyond Canaan.

In fact, I often wonder why Moses doesn’t get upset when he is told he will not be entering the Promised Land. Here I confess my self-centeredness when I admit that if I were Moses, I might have argued with God’s decision and pleaded my case. My heart aches for Moses to enter into the land himself and complete the journey. Clearly, though, Moses doesn’t grieve this loss.

Why? He has seen God, talked with God, and experienced God like none other. He has witnessed the power and glory of God, and he wants God, not land. He knows the journey is about something much greater than an inheritance of land.

Perhaps if Moses did pen Psalm 91, the deliverance and salvation promised in its lines refer to something more, something greater. Perhaps it refers to our ultimate homecoming, when we will be given more than an inheritance of land, but a kingdom to rule? More than an encounter with God, but an eternity with him?

Spending the past three months with Moses as we’ve read through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, I have come to marvel at his courage, his patience, his humility, and his faith. I’m reminded by Psalm 91, whether he is its author or not, that I want to make my dwelling place in God so that in the midst of this life I can experience peace knowing he is my rest, my refuge, and my deliverance.

* Some biblical scholars suggest that David is the author of Psalm 91. In either case (Moses or David), both men dwelled (yashab) with God.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Fever

The first day of Spring deserves some recognition. We paused from our hard work to enjoy a free Italian ice on Market Square...yum! What a beautiful day to soak in the sun, sit on the grass, and rest from our labor!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Break, Tucker Style

No sunning on the beach, hitting the slopes, or mingling with Mickey on this year's Spring break. Oh no, I've hired the best crew to help with some projects around the house - dusting the miniblinds, cleaning windows, and even scrubbing bathrooms! Foremost on our DIY list: repainting Reed's room. Here are a few photos of the boys experiencing their first-ever painting project:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Shame Gremlin

Brene Brown recently presented a second TED talk, in which she continued to discuss her research in the areas of vulnerability and shame. Again, I found myself mouth agape as I watched her speak.

Yes, I love her stage presence...vulnerable and funny and smart. She explains, "It doesn't matter if we're on a stage, sitting at the table with our family, checking out at the grocery story, or at a party - the people who matter the most are the ones right in front of us." She connects with her audience as she speaks honestly and eloquently about areas that I have and continue to wrestle with (as does all humankind, I'd guess).

So, how about second cup of tea? Take 20 minutes and spend them listening to Brene Brown talking about shame.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vulnerability Ted

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable. Madeleine L'Engle
Last year my sister sent me a link to the following video, which captured me. I immediately sought out information about the speaker, Brene Brown, as her emphasis on living wholeheartedly generates a huge "YES!" from me. It's a word I've come to understand and appreciate in the past seven years.

In this video, Brene displays such authenticity and vulnerability - two traits that are the core of her research and teaching. She writes, "When I'm standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I've learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if want to know joy."

Please fix a cup of hot tea, settle in, and take 20 minutes to watch as Brene speaks about "The Power of Vulnerability."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


When we learned that Tim was ill with a dissected carotid artery, I confess that panic surged in me. Fear found its way into my passenger seat as I drove home to meet Tim after a tearful phone call to me at work. Fear nestled in comfortably...this wasn't its first time serving as my copilot.

In the quiet night that came, I lay sleepless beside Tim, who amazingly slept better in the nights following his diagnosis than he had in months, and tried to pray. However, I found myself uttering no words and surrounded by the silence.

It was there that the words came back to me: "We don't work without you." I had uttered those words, lying on this same bed, only 24 hours earlier. Now, in the quiet, I realized that they exposed a deep fear and dangerous agreement I was living under.

The boys and I needed Tim to make our life hold us sustain us, nurture us, and love us. Without him, we would fall apart. Without him, despair would overtake us.

And in the quiet, I heard the truth: That's a lie.

This wasn't the first time I'd wrestled with a similar agreement. Three years ago when I contemplated a trip to Haiti, I faced the belief that if something happened to me, Tim and the boys would be lost. The boys would have no chance to grow up knowing the deep love I hold for them, receiving the affirmation I offer, or experiencing the security that would come from my constant and dependable presence.

In that time God raised a question, "Don't you trust me?" And in my contemplation of that question, I was surprised to discover that no, I didn't believe that He was enough...or at least I wasn't living like it. I came to the realization that if something happened to me, yes, God would be enough for my boys. He offers a deeper love, truer affirmation, and eternal security that I can only hope to mirror to them. They would be more than okay. This discovery ushered in a deep peace I'd never known as a mother.

This memory came back to me in the quiet darkness of our bedroom as I listened to Tim's deep breathing. I love him deeply and yearn with my all for him to be well, to be here. But in that moment, I knew that my words the night before weren't true. We could work without him. And he would be the first to remind me that he is not our anchor.

When this lie was exposed, my companion of fear left the shadows of our bedroom and, more importantly, the shadows of my heart. I was free to walk through this journey holding, not gripping, Tim's hand, knowing that all will be well.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Carotid Challenge

The first week of 2012 Tim had the opportunity to ride the Dragon Challenge at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. Little did he know, he was living a metaphor for the near future. Just two weeks later he found himself on a different kind of roller coaster.

A week after our return from a vacation to Orlando, Tim developed an ear infection. His treatment included steroids, antibiotics, and even blood pressure meds. Two weeks into this treatment, he mused at the dinner table one night that the left side of his face was experiencing numbness. I had noticed that his left eyelid was a bit droopy, so immediately my "worst-case-scenario" mind rushed to all types of diagnoses - none of them pleasant.

That night as we lay in bed and Tim joked about his facial numbness, I finally said to him, with what I am sure was a very severe expression, "Please take this seriously. We don't work without you!" The next day, with some additional encouragement from his coworkers, Tim did go to the doctor.

It was at this point that the cart he was riding crested the first hill of the coaster. Forty-five minutes after he texted that he was at the doctor, he texted that I needed to come pick him up...he had fainted twice. By the time I got to his doctor's office, he was as pale as the linoleum floor he was lying on.

Cue big, stomach-lurching drop as the coaster speeds out of control. Ambulance ride, emergency room, tests, scans, doctors, and a lack of diagnosis. He came home, returned to work, and continued to experience headaches and facial numbness. Just as one hill leads to another, one test led to another, and the MRI led to an MRA, which finally led us to a diagnosis.

Dissected carotid artery.

He called me at work to tell me, and we both raced home and poured over the Internet for the next hour trying to understand what this meant. The short answer: Tim is very lucky. This condition is apparently extremely rare in someone his age, and it is usually found after a stroke (or worse). Tim did not experience a stroke. All of his other medical issues led us down the path that led to a diagnosis before this happened.

The vascular surgeons we consulted believe that his artery will heal on its own in time. Tim is taking blood thinner as a cautionary measure, and in three months he will have another scan to check the progress of its healing. Until then, he will have to take it easy (which is proving to be not so easy).

We are learning a lot through this experience - both of us. (I will write a bit more about my journey in a subsequent post.) While I am one to usually avoid roller coasters at all costs, this is one ride that I'm glad to share with Tim. When it gets to one of us, the other is there to encourage, "Hang on. It will be over soon!"

Monday, March 12, 2012


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Entering In

Five years ago we lost our third child 12 weeks into the pregnancy. I have to confess, I hadn't given any thought to the possibility of miscarriage. Though we struggled with fertility issues for a while, I was naive enough to believe that once I got pregnant I would stay pregnant. And I was blessed with healthy (although greatly nauseating) pregnancies with Seth and Reed.

They stayed put for their 40+ weeks and entered the world in a manner that suited their mom's personality: scheduled inductions and brief labor. In fact, both deliveries took almost the same amount of time: both induced at 6 a.m., one delivered at 1:50 p.m. and the other at 1:49 p.m. Pretty cool, huh?!

Our third child entered the world in a much different way. Instead of expectancy, there was fear. Instead of joy, there was grief. Instead of physical pain, there was the pain of heartbreak. Instead of labor, there was loss. However, as I remember the night of our miscarriage, I can recall the presence of God thick in the room, His Spirit moving through us, causing us to do what was humanly impossible.

In time I have learned to accept the seemingly incompatible emotions that fill my heart where this child's name is held in secret: grief and joy, mystery and knowing, absence and the promise of reunion. God's Word speaks assurance to me that my child is not unknown, is not lost, and is not forgotten.

So, as Spring arrives, I remember this life, this child, this hope. I enter into this season, mindful of what is not and what will be. And I offer thanks for new life that erupts from the earth so beautifully and so timely, reminding me of life, not death, of hope, not despair, of joy, not grief. Welcome, Spring. And thank you.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones are marked in time - most honored with celebration and marked by joy; some remembered with grief and marked by tears. As March arrives each year with the blooming daffodils lining my route home, so does the memory of loss and the vacancy that resides in the place where a life should have flourished.

Andrew Peterson writes,
Michael Card’s book A Sacred Sorrow talks about the Hebrew word vav. It’s a word that means “and yet”, and is a crucial ingredient in almost every lament in scripture. Again and again, when you read the psalms, you hear the psalmist crying out against God, shaking his fist at the skies, demanding justice, wailing and abandoned, all but accusing God of being unworthy of our worship–basically, the psalmist is throwing a fit. Then, as if he’s exhausted himself, he says vav. “And yet, I will praise the Lord.” In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I believe in my bones that you are good. Your intentions for me are loving and kind. I believe in your presence though it feels like you have forsaken me. And yet. And yet. And yet. Those two desperate words may be the most faithful prayer we ever pray, and our most triumphant battle cry, though we whisper them through tears.
And yet...