Box Breakers, Bridge Makers


Judgmental people who can’t relate to the concept of grace say “I know you” with condemnation and keep you locked in a box, expecting you to trip and fall because of blemishes in your personality and past.

Merciful people who’ve experienced grace say “I know you” with understanding and love you anyway.

Filled-to-the-brim-with-grace people say “I know you” with no agenda, love you, don’t bring up your past mistakes, hold no grudges or judgments, and encourage you to keep growing. They don’t confine you to a box that’s filled with all your mistakes. Instead, they embrace your own unique self and see how the rough places can be flipped (e.g., “stubborn” is also the flip side of “persistent”). They break the box and turn the broken pieces into a bridge where reconciliation is possible.

Isn’t that last one the epitome of the Gospel message? Isn’t that like Christ? Aren’t we all broken pieces that, when put together, create a beautiful mosaic?

Someday, when our lives are finished here on this Earth, none of the things we think matter now will matter at all.

Always be willing to work at relationships. Personalities will clash, but somehow they’re all meant to mold you, and the other person, for good. Look for the good, let go of the bad, and move forward in healing. It isn’t always easy, but not much that’s worth anything is. Refuse negativity, embrace joy and peace, see situations from another’s perspective, and find some common ground.

We need more people who are box-breakers; we need more of the full-of-grace people. And, in turn, we need our “selves” to be full-of-grace box breakers too.

Just some thoughts on a Sunday evening…

P.S. —  Recently, I had a good time talking to Jesus while washing dishes. At one point, I asked Him to help me break through all areas of my life — to not just do what’s necessary, but also what’s possible and what seems impossible (following the St. Francis quote) and to be better at being a kid of His.

Later, as I walked by my open Bible (earlier, I had accidentally caused the pages to turn from the passage I’d been reading yesterday when reaching for a piece of paper), the thought came to me to see what was on that page.

As if in highlights, I read: “The Breaker, the Messiah, will go up before them. They will break through, pass in through the gate and go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at the head” (Micah 2:13, Amplified).

I love when He does things like that. Yes, He will go before me and cause the breakthroughs as I keep walking with Him. And He’ll do the same for you. Be encouraged. He is with us always, through everything…in the good times and in the times that aren’t good…

He’ll break through those places in life where you thought you were stuck…whether that’s in grief or loneliness or illness or unforgiveness or depression or anxiety, or even in daily ruts or being caught in your own mind. Whatever it is, He is there waiting to help us. I love Him. But He loves me/us more. Isn’t that something? Right in the middle of our “stuff,” He is there with arms wide open to hug us back to wholeness, to cheer us on to victory, to help us with whatever breakthroughs He knows we need. Just like a good earthly father would do, only better…



Made pear preserves again today… Messed the kitchen up so much that I decided to get fast food for Mom and me tonight… And just when I started to set the tray down, I saw, in slow-motion, my 16-ounce root beer fall to the floor and spill all over the rug. For a second I just stared in disbelief. Once again, the klutzy part of my self had made an appearance.

And then I got to work cleaning it up, grabbing towels and paper towels to dab the soda. I didn’t need that root beer after all. But I wanted it. But the hot tea with liquid stevia was better for me anyway and tasted delicious.

What I was happy about was that no foul word passed my lips. Oh they wanted to come out. They pressed on my teeth and my lips so hard. But I used self-control and the desire to let them escape passed. And that felt good. Really good. (And, actually, my restraint probably had more to do with my mom watching a praise show at the time. 😉 ) It’s always better to laugh anyway. Unfortunately though, sometimes you even have to reign in laughter…

When I worked as a waitress several years ago, I tried my best to be the best waitress I could be. Well, yeah. That didn’t work out very well. I ended up spilling eight glasses of red wine on one man, and one pitcher of beer on another guy (separate nights, different restaurants). But what made it worse is that I started to laugh and had to run back to the kitchen to laugh it all out before going back to offer them free dry cleaning. Oy vey!

And now…the point to my story is that, with a different perspective, it was just root beer, and it was just a rug. Everything that happened today, the ordinary stuff, including the spills, is part of life. We’re here… We’re breathing… We keep moving forward…

Pray for those whose loved ones are no longer here, the ones who would love to have one more day to spill something, to laugh in awkward moments, to do everyday, ordinary, beautiful things… Pray especially for those whose loved ones died in tragic, horrific circumstances — especially, today, for those whose loved ones died on 9/11…in planes…in buildings…as victims..and heroes…

Promise to never forget them, to never forget what happened. Promise to let go of things that don’t matter, and to laugh when you need to, and find the beauty in everyday circumstances, and to thank

God for all your blessings. God bless you on this contemplative day…and always… ❤

Resurrection Seeds…


Some friends have seen our garden…the one with the tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants…the one with the basil, rosemary, lavender…and the sunflowers. I take pictures and show them online. I love to garden, and I love harvest time. But some would have a hard time believing those pictures and that garden are one and the same.

I wonder sometimes if they think I’m embellishing the truth—that maybe the pictures are from another season. But, no… You see, the pictures I post are close-ups. Every plant gets its close-up shot, sometimes several, especially the sunflowers.

You can’t see the weeds that grow abundantly right now, that I don’t have time to get rid of. You can’t see the chain-link fence that they grow next to, nor the small space they inhabit. But when you get up close, you see the magnitude of their beauty.

The same is true of God. He’s right there in the midst of our weeds, next to our chain-link fences that keep some people out of our lives and keep unhealthy ones in, right there in our closed spaces where we sometimes feel we can’t escape or even breathe well…or closed-in spaces that make us feel safe but offer no room for growth…

But right there, there is God, up close and personal if we really look for Him… And, as Scripture says, if we go after Him with our whole being, He will let Himself be found by us.

Jesus is just like that sunflower that turns its face up toward Heaven, then bends toward us, leaving resurrection seeds… Such grace, such beauty, such power for all of us who would want Him beside us in this garden of life…

Dining Rooms & Garden Treasures


Last May, while out in the garden planting more sunflower seeds, I was talking to God about my mom. She was in her fifth month of defying the doctors’ prediction of having only weeks to months to live — at the most, six months, they said.

I knew they were wrong. After she had broken a hip, I heard God tell me that she would live and not die, that it wasn’t her time to go Home yet, which was different from my dad, who went Home after battling lung cancer when I was a young teen.

With my mom, I witnessed a miracle. She had been in intense pain, but as soon as a Catholic Charismatic deacon prayed over her in Jesus’ Name, the pain left immediately and her back straightened. Nurses ran around telling everyone it was a miracle, and the doctor at the rehab facility wanted to know if she hid pain. To this day, Mom has not needed to take a pain pill after leaving that place.

Back to the garden. While planting a seed, I looked back at her house, the house I came home to as a newborn.

“Lord, I had always wanted to build Mom a dining room.” It’s always been one of my regrets, but finances never allowed for it.

My mom grew up very poor. Her parents were sharecroppers, and the house they lived in with Mom’s brother and sisters would be classified as a shack to most people. Their little house had dirt floors and the windows had no glass or screens, just wooden slabs to pull down over them.

And the one thing she’d always wanted was a dining room. She never had a formal dining room. Even this old house now only has a space in the kitchen for meals.

One of the only times I saw my mom shed a tear was when we were driving around town several years ago, and she pointed out a neighborhood she liked, and told me that she and my dad were going to purchase a house there, one that had a dining room, but he had gotten transferred to Germany instead. And so they rented this house and came back to it later.

Back to the garden again. After I talked to God about it all, I felt His Presence so strongly and sweetly. I felt He was right there beside me. I then broke up new earth along the fence, but my shovel hit something. When I bent down to get rid of the “rock,” I instead pulled out a spoon. It was a piece from my mom’s set of tableware. For a while, I just stared at it. It just seemed so odd.

Many years ago, the fence had beautiful wild white roses growing over it. My dad had planted them, but later years, my mom had dug them up because of too much maintenance. Maybe the spoon somehow ended up there during a lunch break while planting, or after one of our summer backyard picnics.

As I dug again, the shovel hit something else: half of my dad’s old Diners Club card. And then I found some old siding from when the house was first built.

And then I ran inside and cried a little bit. Because although I didn’t hear an audible voice, what I heard in my spirit was this: “Your mom may not have had a dining room here on Earth, but don’t worry. In Heaven, she’ll have the most beautiful dining room with a feast that never ends. And not only will I be there waiting for her, so will your dad.”

It was truly a magical moment in so many ways. A healing moment. A reassuring moment. Alone in the garden, but not alone at all. Jesus was with me. Jesus is with us — with all of us who want Him. And that makes all the difference.

One year and one month later, I still have that spoon and diners club card, and still with the dirt on them, in a clear plastic bag. It’s reminder of God’s goodness.

And Mom is still here with us. We went outside today and I pointed out the three cucumbers growing, and the peppers and eggplant, and all the new little sunflowers growing along the fence – that will, by the end of summer, be about eight feet tall.

If someone ever tells you there’s no hope, don’t believe them. There is always hope. And if the answer doesn’t go the way you want, like with my dad, just know there’s a reason, and one day, if you keep trusting Him, and keep building your faith in Him, He’ll make it all work together for good somehow.  He always has the last word, and He always will.

P.S. — I hope you find your own kind of spoon, Diners Club card, and tile someday too…

I Didn’t Intend to Buy a Pizza Today…


This morning, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11, after a semi-long evening of caregiving the night before, I woke up without the alarm clock. The time showed it was minutes before the first plane hit the World Trade Center all those 13 years ago… I thought about it and said a prayer, and then drifted off to sleep for a few more minutes. When I woke up again, the clock read “9:11″…

After a morning and afternoon of watching news programs and remembering and crying all these years later, I realized this will stay with me forever, as it should for all of us…

Thirteen years ago, I had just gotten back from a month-long writing intensive in L.A. I woke up that day to get ready for grad classes, and turned the television on to see the beginning of the horror. My mom called me from work to tell me what had happened. We and everyone else were in shock. How could this kind of evil happen here in our very own country?

This evening, after running down the street to get my mom a smoothie on this hot day, I doubled back after seeing a little bird run across the hot pavement with his mouth wide open. I wasn’t sure if he was headed for food or if he was so hot he needed a drink of water. I tried to find him, but couldn’t. I tried to tell myself that he was one of the three starlings now finding food in the grass nearby.

As I started to leave, I noticed a sign with a good deal for a pizza. I didn’t intend to buy a pizza today, but I went with that leading.

Right after ordering, an elderly gentleman walked in and ordered that good deal too. We waited together, talking for 10 minutes. He had a kind heart and a slight stutter. He mentioned that he couldn’t believe it was 9/11 already again, and how much evil was in the world, and how great our country is. He talked about growing up with many siblings and that he was the 12th of 13 children. He asked if I had children, and then said he had one son … but that his son went Home to Heaven 12 weeks ago, after developing pneumonia after surgery… He talked about how his son loved music, loved to play music, and how he’s up there now making beautiful music with the Lord and the angels…

And then my pizza was ready. I started to talk more, but could tell he needed a break after he said, “You enjoy that pizza!” with a bright smile and misty eyes. We said good-bye and God bless you, and I left as his pizza was about ready.

Life keeps going…

Some of us are here for just a short time, some are here for decades… And we all leave in different ways…

That day 13 years ago, so many lost their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, teachers, mentors… Roles ended, memories started… New York, D.C., Pennsylvania…

I know some people say we should just move on… That, since it was 13 years ago, the best way to honor the ones who were killed would be to live life to the fullest today.

On my walk, I saw people out running, kids playing baseball, people on their way home or to work or out to eat or the movies… And all under a brilliant, colorful sky with dark clouds too…

Those of us who are left have so much to be grateful for…

We’ll all have to leave sometime; our stay here is not forever…

Time is precious…

One of the stories I heard today was about a woman who was trapped in one of the elevators in the Twin Towers. She was rescued but died in the ambulance. She said she had an out-of-body experience and saw the workers, felt the peace, and was taken to Heaven, where she saw her grandparents and Jesus — and that Jesus told her she still had work to do on Earth, and she then went back into her body.

And then there was the story about finding the cross in the middle of the rubble… A sign of hope…

I want to work hard to turn my dreams/goals into reality here. Hopefully, by the time it’s my turn to leave, I’ll have accomplished my life’s mission.

And I hope no one ever forgets what happened that day. I don’t mean just having the knowledge that it happened, but that, in the middle of living life to the fullest every September 11, we’d all have a really strong sense of what occurred.

If we don’t, we should stop for a while and really remember… It’s hard. It’s gut-wrenching. But it’s necessary.

I’ll never forget. And I don’t want to forget.

The Cicada’s Shell

I found this on the pear tree. A shell left behind from the cicada’s old life. We’re all inside “shells,” waiting to emerge into something greater. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to hang on to everything that’s already here. Not fond of change. But we’re all changing. So we can either move forward and fly into our dreams and goals, or we can drag our heels and stand beside old shells…wishing we could go back inside, wishing everything could stay the same.

(P.S. — Here’s a neat time-lapse video of a cicada shedding its skin:

God Gave Me Flowers!


On Facebook, once in a while you’ll catch posts from friends whose husbands/boyfriends sent them flowers. I love that! Such lovely expressions of devotion…

Well, last Sunday, after the neat experience finding that Scripture card (see previous blog post), I had on my list to pick up some marigolds and begonias at the garden center.

On the way though, I stopped by the local hardware store. A clerk asked me, “Would you like some flowers?”

“Flowers are on today’s list!” I told him.

And then he showed me an almost-empty section with five little raggedy plants sitting in their plastic pots. A sign with them had “FREE!!” marked across the sale price.

“This is all we have left,” he said. “They’re not in the best shape, so we’re giving them away. Do you want them?”

I have a heart for raggedy plants (and animals!). “Sure! Thanks! What are they?” (Only one sported a flower.)

“All but one are marigolds.”

And that made me smile.

Thank you, my Love, for the flowers you gave me!

P.S. — Isn’t it something that sometimes when God gives us a gift, He wants us to nurture it until it’s strong and beautiful to behold? (Oh! And I bought the begonias at half price with coupons at the garden center.)