Weeping With Jesus

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We do not weep alone.

Urban Hallelujah

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Perched high on a balcony, taking in my last New York City sunset, I admitted to God what I could no longer hide: that in spite of everything I was eternally grateful for, I really was just so, so sad…

That in simply a mere year and a half of living on the East Coast – the place where God had so clearly led my family and me – I had seemingly lost everything I held most dear.

With tears streaming down my face, I watched as the setting sun painted majestic hues above the East River sky, and I questioned aloud if such beauty could ever be restored in my life…my home…my heart…or my marriage…

But it was then that I realized: God wept with me.

There’s a story told in the Gospel of John in which Mary and Martha lost something precious to them also – their brother…

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If I Could Write You A Letter…

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Because darkness doesn’t discriminate.

Urban Hallelujah

tutu in central park

If I could write you a letter…

I’d start by acknowledging the bitter, cold truth that no matter the strength of the relationship built, nor the good intentions expressed, or even the pinky-promises exchanged, everyone has the capacity to let you down. Everyone! And you can either be anchored in that reality or crippled by it. May you choose to love fearlessly anyway…

I’d tell you that while you’ll spend the first quarter of your life searching tirelessly for the person you’re going to marry, that you will likely spend the rest of it working TWICE as hard to stay married. And upon realizing this, you will likely want to right hook Cinderella to the throat for not telling you such a thing! And believe me, you wouldn’t be the first one…

I’d tell you that no amount of makeup, self-tanner, or fake eyelashes can make you feel worthy enough after a broken heart (and that at…

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Tattoos, panting and wardrobe discord

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I put on a few pounds over the winter. I wasn’t too worried about it, summer does eventually come in Minnesota and I knew I’d soon be out playing in the sun, and comfort foods would take a back seat to days that the lake, hiking, and biking my favorite trails.
But, my clothes don’t fit quite right, just a little pulling and tugging in areas that last summer didn’t pull and tug.

On one of my excursions out of doors, I was immediately faced with several wardrobe malfunctions and a hair tie emergency. While facing these challenges I was passed by a couple of bicyclists. One had all white hair, and the oddest looking tattoo on her calf. It occurred to me that we are fast approaching if not already in a generation of adults and old people that have many and ridiculous tattoo’s and bear names like Trevor, Hunter, Destiny and Tiffany. Imagine it, adults with these names. In about 5 years we’ll be introduced to a line up of Chloe, Zoe, Tyler, Conner and Noahs. Don’t get me wrong, I love tattoo’s. I have one, and want more. I admire them, some of them are amazing works of art, and others obvious expressions of bad bad decision making.
Back to my wardrobe malfunctions.

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True to form at precisely the same moment I was attempting to discreetly remove my ill fitting shorts from places no man has gone before, I was passed by a rather attractive and fit young man bounding up the hill like a gazelle. Slightly embarrassed, I began to whistle along to the song playing in my ear buds. You know, to demonstrate my cardiac endurance and that just because I was walking and slightly panting didn’t mean that my lungs weren’t capable of such exertions. To my delight as I reached mile one, I hit my groove, I loosened up, my stride lengthened and I began to walk faster. Which in turn increased the number and frequency of my clothing glitches.
Step, step, pull, grab, step, step, step, twist, yank…repeat.
At this point I consider running just to end this screw up of a workout, but I quickly recall that I wore a “walking” bra, not a “running” bra. So all the ladies out there know how that works out.

Why?
Why is it when you are battling all these issues, including the hair tie breaking which causes your beautiful long tresses to be glued to the back of your overly sweaty neck, you are passed by the tiny little zero? You know who I am talking about. The size zero, with her flat stomach and non existent evidence that she just gave birth to that adorable infant in the stroller that she pushes while prancing past you. Oh yeah, and she was wearing pink (always with the pink), there is ALWAYS a bobbing pony tail too, and is that a sports bra you’ve got to be kidding me – you don’t need one honey, it’s just that, there’s not…never mind. Don’t get your undies in a bundle (and not just because mine already are), I’m really just jealous that I didn’t look like that after my pregnancy…twins…they wreaked much havoc on my body. I don’t care how old they are…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

jogging stroller

Was that an iced coffee in the cup holder?
Step, step, pull, grab, step, step, step, yank, twist, step.

Music is key in any exercise routine. It can speed you up, slow you down, motivate you, make you cry, or cause a spontaneous dance party mid workout. I particularly enjoy the songs that start out with intros that have rain storms or leaves rustling or babies cooing. They always illicit a certain reaction in me. Hearing these among the passing traffic, real birds and barking dogs, I invariably presume there is a heinous attacker about to overtake me and leave me for dead. So I quickly spin around to face them so they know…that I KNOW they are there, I make eye contact and look determined and fierce, only to meet the air.

attacker
Pull shorts down and out…resume walking activities.

With all my chafing skin, dripping sweat, pulling and tugging.
How come I didn’t notice? Where the heck did all these elite athletes come from? They weren’t behind me a second ago. No doubt they are in training for the Olympics. Bulging biceps, ripped quads, sculpted shoulders and killer abs. Well, OK maybe that is exaggerating a bit. OK maybe a lot.  OK upon closer inspection they are just over middle aged men, OK just one, with a white ring of hair around their head, springing forth gallantly in their running pursuits, bounding up hills, not seeming to breath hard or even sweat. Heavy sigh.

On the upside, the same middle aged men passing by in their Corvettes and Mustangs are checking me out! Probably because they haven’t seen this much flesh jiggling and bouncing for months. I realize this isn’t really an upside, but with all the emotional trauma that I have just experienced in this brief walk, I’ve just got so little to work with at this moment.

Eeek! One of my favorite running songs just came on! Oh, how I want to run, it just gets in your blood and you must RUN…but alas no running bra, and despite my woes and tribulations, I do not have a desire to knock myself out, so I refrain and just pump my arms a little faster, swollen fingers and all.

Finally, I have decided to just roll up my shorts and put them where they were determined to go anyway, problem solved.

3 o’clock heart attack

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A parking lot, a parking lot of a high school. At 3 o’clock. I can probably stop typing and your imagination can take over, but I had 3 heart attacks in the course of 8 minutes.

You see, my kids do on-line school at home. It was a decision made by their father and I. It’s not that we didn’t like the school district we were in, but we wanted to give them a little more time before being launched into the deep miry pit of teenagers that is middle school. I don’t advocate for everyone to home school, we don’t sew our own clothes, nor are my kids gifted and talented in such a way that confounds educators, and they’re not on the fast track to Harvard. They are just the regular, super intelligent, fabulously good looking and adored by their parents variety of teenager. This is not a home school sales pitch so keep reading, but it was right for us.

Enter drivers training.

Drivers training classes are held at the local high school. It makes sense. That’s where most of the teenagers are at around the 3 o’clock hour, they can’t drive yet – so bring the goods and services to them. I had to drive my sweet little cherubs to the high school for their 2nd day of drivers training.

OH THE HORROR OF IT ALL!

I got in the never ending line of mini-vans and SUV’s, speeding up and slowing down trying not to jack hammer my car into oblivion with the strategically placed mountain peaks called speed bumps every 100 feet. As if those would slow down a teen driver that has nary a clue how to put gas in the car nonetheless the price of shocks and struts. Geesh. I was informed by my kids that we were a bit early and they didn’t want to go in yet. I don’t blame them, they don’t know anyone, they are just two UFO’s (unidentified floundering objects) in an entrenched society of teen hierarchy and caste systems lead by confusion. In my imagination its similar to the animal kingdom and I had visions that they may in fact be eaten by a poor ravenous misguided anorexic just trying to fit in.

I parked the car and we just sat for a few minutes. Throngs of uniforms, hair, backpacks and keys swinging on long strings came bounding out of the building, jumped in waiting vans, and skipped to their respective cars. I made a mental note that these cars did not look like the first car I drove to school. The speed bumps alone would have pounded all the rust off my Chevrolet Chevette and I would have been left with a disintegrated version of what once was a car. The kids hopped out and made their way to the door.

mother of all speed bumps

I put the car in reverse, looked behind me, left, right, began to back out slowwwly and with no hair or backpacks in my view, I pulled out a little more quickly – WHOOSH – there was backpack! How did he get there? Why was he so unbelievably close to a vehicle backing out of a parking spot?! Curse the little wretch! I continued to pull out, put the car in drive – ZOOM – a little brown Ford Focus buzzed right out in front of me. I paused to reflect the value of life, as I watched an Audi, with a driver holding a Hello Kitty phone, turn on two wheels to get out of their parking spot, then a really nice Ford F-150 squeal out of their parking spot. Seriously, was that a gun rack? How did these kids get…why do their parents not…where are the cops…is that an infant driving that…never mind.

I navigated the speed bump terrain back out to the road and began to suspect every vehicle on the road of housing a teen driver. I think I wept a little. I survived the whole debacle and made it home.
Just wait ’til MY kids are driving! They are going to be the most careful, courteous, defensive teen drivers in the world!

Yeah, right.

Sorry world, but you’ll have two more knuckle heads to contend with on the road in about a year.
In the mean time – stay out of high school parking lots, your heart will thank you…and your shocks.

I’ll put down the spoon tomorrow

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Sometimes ice cream isn’t enough when it snows in April.

Why is it when I’m super stressed one of the things I run to is food? Yesterday it was pizza and chocolate, today it’s potato chips and ice cream. I’d love to get out and exercise…well, I’ll come back to that.  When I’m done with the food binge, I feel like crap, and going into it, I know it’ll end that way. My body is lethargic, my stomach is upset and I just want to throw up – the food and the feelings. Then enter the acne breakout that haunts me for a good two weeks after my emotional binge, just to remind me of my failure to overcome the power of “tin roof” ice cream.

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Being a Christian, I know the answer. That is to say, I know what the answer to depression, stress and overwhelming anxiety and sadness is. Depressing days and ugly moments scream “GOD”!  It’s where we find the answers! It’s where we should turn when we’ve run out of tears BLAH BLAH BLAH!

He is the answer…
I know that already.
I even believe it.
I’ve even experienced it.

I’ve walked through horrific situations of my own. (read here: scraped, scratched and clawed my way through). I’ve held the hands of friends who were so devastated by their circumstances they couldn’t muster enough strength to throw themselves on the floor just to get out of bed. Rape, abortion, substance abuse, death, broken hearts, broken minds, jail, PTSD, broken marriages, infidelity, anxiety, fear, night terrors, and last but not least just plain old sucky days.

I’m always poised and ready to jump in, walk along side someone in their pain, and be their soft shoulder. Just call my name…and I’ll be there (yup just like the song). Sometimes you don’t even have to call my name, sometimes I just show up.
It’s not me, it’s not that I’m such a fabulous person I do all these things without regard to self – but it is God in me. He let’s me participate in others pain.
I love it.
I live for it.
It’s not a sick desire to watch people suffer, but rather an intense and life altering desire to witness the redemption on the other side. The victory.
The euphoric feeling when someone can stand on their own two feet again and say “I’m good – I got this – I can do this”.
It brings me hope.

I don’t try to take the place of God in their circumstances, I do in fact, try to direct them back to Him. I’ve got just the right scriptures tucked away in the recesses of mind that I can pull out when needed, but I do try to fill the physical gap. The gap between earth and God. That vast expanse where the presence of God is, well…missing.
I KNOW, I KNOW – He never leaves us or forsakes us, (Joshua 1:5 – see what I’m saying) but sometimes we just can’t tell He’s there, and a real physical person can seem so much better than dropping to your knees and praying to the air (AGAIN and again and again).

I’d like to sling around some Christianese and a few well timed encouraging and uplifting scriptures, sing a few Churchy songs and prance through a field of flowers in a perfectly fitted sundress, whilst smiling and declaring how wonderful life with Jesus is – but I’m fresh out of: scriptures, songs, fields and I’m bloated (dresses don’t fit perfectly when you’re bloated). I am after all having this conversation with my friends Ruffles and Top the ‘Tater and my other friend – round 2 of tin roof ice cream for the day, AND to beat all – it is friggin’ SNOWING – STILL…YET AGAIN! I’d get outside and run or walk or bike, but it. is. Still. S.N.O.W.I.N.G!

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This bout of depression won’t kill me, I’m old enough to know that.
It won’t even make me gain the 10 pounds I feel like I already have.
The stress will ebb and flow.
I will pray, and find some scripture that encourages me.
The snow will eventually stop and Minnesota will soon be plunged into percentages of humidity that would make the rain forest natives cry out for relief…and we’ll rejoice in it after this past winter.(well, almost past)

As for now, I can only do the best I can with what I’ve got, and all I’ve got is chips, ice cream and a God I know will squeeze my hand when I reach for His again, and remind me He hasn’t left me.

I think He’s just waiting for me to put down the spoon.

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A shopping or Easter story…you decide.

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Let us consider for a moment that you and 7,482 other people need to make a trip to Target the day before Easter to get all the last minute stuff you need for your planned festivities. 

You muster and summon the courage to dodge carts, empty shelves and hysterical people and carry on, you are after all on an “Easter mission”. Enter stage left the harried mother with 2 sparkly little lamb chops in tow that have, are and will continue to demonstrate that their Momma listens to nothing other than Christian radio. (only good mom’s do this you know)

While just trying to pick out an onion you are blessed to hear the 4 year old with the 2 year old as back up singing “GOD’S NOT DEAD – HE’S SURELY ALIVE”!
Soooo cute!

Precious little cherubs that they are carry that mantra throughout the store. You move to the next aisle and POOF there they are! 
Awww, smile, cute.

After about the 9th assault (I er uh mean, rendition) your smile has turned to a grimace and you try to move on by going to a different section of the store…with or without the much needed onion. Even as much as you love Jesus, this along with the 12,666 other people, makes you consider whether or not you are actually a Christian.

Ah, but to no avail, surely the smiles, pure satisfaction and joy on the mother’s face have encouraged the little rascals, not just keep singing, but to reach decibels that only dogs can hear.

Around minute 12, you renounce your faith, and hope the oblivious mother and her little demons won’t be at the church you’re going to tomorrow because after all you’re just trying to demonstrate and spread the love of Jesus around!

Dang it all! 
Forgot the onion.