Game Changer

red shoes

ruby slippers

What if you lost something.

Or it lost you. You knew it was lost when you left it, but you didn’t know the full measure of what the leaving meant.

Once you grasped the leaving and the loss, it was too late. There was no going back. You were certain you would never find it again and it would never find you.

Then one day, quite by surprise, there it was. You could see it in the distance. And all you could think was how to get to it.

Put on your red shoes and click your heels. It’s time to go home.

*  *  *

One Wednesday morning last October, I rounded the corner onto my street. Something was out of place. My husband’s truck was in the driveway.

A little background: my husband’s marketing prowess helped the company where he had worked in St. Louis to sell out of their product all three years he was there. That success in turn attracted a buyer to purchase the company. My husband was wooed to Wichita, family in tow, to lead marketing at the acquiring company. He was supposed to be at work, but he met me at the door.

tornado shelter sign

tornado shelter

“What’s wrong?” I said. “Are you sick?”

“No.”

“Did you get laid off?”

“Yes.”

We’d been nine months in Wichita. Enough time to uproot a family, plop them down on the flat prairie of Kansas, cycle them through homesickness, new schools, new churches, new grocery stores, positive performance reviews, and one nasty tornado. Nine months in Wichita and they cut him loose.

I bought my ruby slippers when he still had a job. Little did I know, they were ripe for this journey.

*  *  *

Within weeks, colleagues called upon my husband as a consultant. This comes as no surprise to me. He’s a creative, strategic thinker. A rainmaker. A walking encyclopedia of agriculture. A good man who’s really good at what he does. We thought consulting would be a temporary gig, but he enjoys the work and he’s doing well. Maybe he’ll just keep right on building his business.

Wichita is not our home. Without the job, there’s nothing to keep us here. But where to go? Home of course. And where is that?

sold sign

deja vu

Home for us is a toss-up between Missouri and North Carolina. We love them both. We didn’t expect to have to choose. Not now, anyway. The last seven months have been a roller coaster blur of weighing good options against each other and agonizing over what to do.

All that is about to end. 

We’re surrendering to our inner South. Moving back to sweet tea and barbecue. Home to where we met and married.

Friends and family wait with open arms and long drawls. Fireflies and tadpoles, tall pine trees and dolphins arching out of the Atlantic at dawn—I like to think they wait for us, too.

We’ve coaxed our son with tales of your finest, North Carolina. There’s no place like home.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near Your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
they are ever praising You. Psalm 84:3-4 NIV

Carolina In My Mind by sweet baby James Taylor.

Plans for our move are about to take over my life.
Please bear with me. I’ll blog when I can!

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I’ve Joined the Underblog

While many websites with clever names compete for attention in the blogosphere, Project Underblog speaks to my heart. 

Project Underblog

Project Underblog honors the small and mighty blogging voices. The Underblog is more interested in your words than your page views. Novel concept these days. Underbloggers are resilient, determined, thoughtful. They’re genuinely nice people. Low on snark, high on encouragement.

Content for Project Underblog comes from a pool of submissions along with posts from a core group of monthly contributors.

Guess who’s the newest monthly contributor?

origin_1004899160

image credit: The J Train

My first post as a Project Underblog contributor is live today. It’s a humorous look at Debunking Eight Rules of Blogging. Those of you who blog know there are a lot more than eight “rules,” but I was already waaay over my word count and had to stop. That’s your cue to pick up the ball and run with it. Go, read the post, and comment on your favorite (or least favorite) blogging “rules.”

As a contributor, I’ll be on the lookout for great posts. Don’t be surprised if I encourage you to submit a post for consideration on Project Underblog. I’ve suspected all along that several of you are superhero material. Perhaps you are an Underblogger?

We shall see. I might even let you borrow my cape. 

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin… Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Please click to read:

Debunking Eight Rules of Blogging

medium_315490873

image credit: Gord McKenna. Click to read Debunking Eight Rules of Blogging on Project Underblog

From the girl with the Hello Kitty kitchen, here’s a link to Underdog by Lisa Loeb. BONUS link: Ride your inchworm down memory lane with the theme song from the cartoon Underdog.

photo credit: The J Train via photopin cc
photo credit: Gord McKenna via photopin cc

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Poetic Pause

April is National Poetry Month.

image credit: JMR Photography

image credit: JMR Photography

I’d hoped to throw a grand Poetry Slam Party like we did last year. As the month wanes, down to the last two days now, that window is quietly closing.

My friend Corey celebrated the month rightly, posting a different selection every day in April. These poems came as perfect, compact gifts. Sugar cubes to swirl in mint tea. Addictive, steady shots.

One poem Corey posted was written by our beloved poetry teacher at Carolina, Michael McFee. It reminded me why McFee was the teacher. Speaks to me still. And so I steal it from Corey, who stole it from McFee, so it may speak to you.

Michael McFee Directions

Read more poems by Michael McFee at The Poetry Foundation.

Pause and post your own favorite poetry selections in the comments if you wish.

photo credit: JMR_Photography via photopin cc

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Beyond Holy Week

While I was on my spring blogging break, I checked the feed during Holy Week to discover the internet was in shambles.  

window bride

window bride

Lines were drawn in the sands across America. The days leading up to Easter saw pundits throw off their gloves to strangle each other in hand-to-hand combat. Facebook profiles hemorrhaged red equal signs matched by a flow of crosses. Twitter burned with the carnage of our civil discourse about gay marriage.

People ridiculed the Bible and took cheap shots at my faith. Folks in some religious circles seemed to suggest Christians just sit this one out. Political strategists advocated surrender, declaring the issue a lost cause in a zero-sum game. Do we want to be right or win elections? 

Scant little was said about how we might address the actual issue: Can we as a nation find a way to extend legal protections to long-term, monogamous gay couples while at the same time protect the religious liberty of those whose faith prohibits homosexuality? I could have missed it, but I haven’t heard much from either side about an equal-but-different, civil-union-type solution.

Maybe we don’t want a solution as much as we want a fight and a Supreme Court verdict like Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, we all know how well that settled the abortion debate.

My sweet father-in-law served two terms as a county commissioner. During his first campaign in 2000, we discussed Roe v. Wade. He expressed to me the frustration of pro-life Christians who felt blindsided by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. “It happened,” he said, “and we did nothing.”

I naively thought this marked his generation’s legacy with silence and inaction. After Holy Week this year, I think I understand a little more of how he feels.

Proponents of gay marriage think they’re right and that this is a question of equality. If you express a different opinion, you’re labeled a bigot. On the other hand, many Christians think gay marriage is a threat to First Amendment freedoms and that this as a question of religious liberty. If our federal government “redefines” marriage to legally include both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, where does that leave the church? Where does that leave religious schools and institutions?

Will there be exceptions? Or will the state cross the line and require all churches to perform same-sex marriages, hire homosexual staff, and censor the first chapter of Romans or face prosecution for discrimination and hate crimes? Think it could never happen? Private sector examples like Hobby Lobby, Sweet Cakes Bakery, and Arlene’s Flowers show how eagerly religious liberty is being challenged. Is this too a zero-sum game?

The tidal wave of little equal signs and crosses on Facebook and the tumult of mainstream media bias during Holy Week chilled the dialogue of regular citizens. This debate has instilled fear in people to voice their convictions.

But bullying the opposition into silence isn’t progress.

rick warren quote

image from Pure Purpose on Facebook

Some of us are straight. Some of us are gay. All of us defy GodWe’re all guilty; that’s why we’re all in need of Christ. No one is in a position to condemn. But what does it say about my faith if I’m scared silent to speak what I believe?

EstherShadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel are in the Bible for a reason. So is the account of Jesus before Pilate. There is Truth that stands alone and isn’t relative to our whims, preferences, culture, courts, or circumstances. 

flag in Reagan National

flag in Reagan National

I disagree with the idea that engaging in the political process and conversation means you’ve traded faith in Christ for faith in government. God has blessed American believers the gifts of freedom of speech and religion, among the many other gifts of our Constitution. We are called to be good stewards of those gifts as much as we are called to be good stewards of all the resources God has given us. Use it or lose it.

No one enjoys being the object of ridicule, spite, and retaliation. We hope bullying doesn’t happen and we answer it with grace as best we can when it does. Christ promised that people would hate Christians the same way they hated Him. In all this, God is sovereign; His plans will be accomplished.

Americans may never unanimously agree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. But I hold out hope we can find ways to live alongside each other in peace, with respect for our different beliefs, and under the protection of our Constitution. 

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:36-38 NIV

How are you processing the events of Holy Week?

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Heart of the Matter

Boomer, my yoga instructor, faced a life crisis earlier this spring when her 50-something husband had emergency bypass surgery.

faceted heart

faceted heart

She’s the more talkative of my instructors. Responsible for phrases like Vikings and temple dancers, bellies on vacation, and the duck index.

I like the banter.

“Stretch the myofascial tissue.”

“Stop carrying enormous handbags.” 

“Stand up straight or you’ll end up with a hump on your back and a walker!”

He survived the surgery. She missed a week or so of class. I don’t think she realizes it, but a new theme has surfaced in her coaching.

“Engage your thighs. You should feel them working, pumping blood up, strengthening your heart.” 

“Open your chest. Don’t let it close over your heart and lungs.” 

“Remember to breathe…” 

And then last class, this one.

“It’s amazing how easily the heart gets involved with everything.”

Yes, dear teacher. It is.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Nothing Is Wasted, my new favorite song by Jason Gray. Listen. Take courage.

 What’s on your heart today?

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When We Have No Words

We turn to the One whose words never fail.

Psalm 91:1-2

Please click to read the full text of Psalm 91.

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Comic Relief

I mustache you to enjoy this emoticon moment on Twitter with blogger Jenny Dewey and her fiancé Mark.

happy mustache emoticon

happy mustache emoticon

Twitter does have some redeeming qualities. 

:3

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

And now it’s time for a silly song with Larry… Love me some VeggieTales.

What’s your favorite emoticon?
Please demonstrate in the comments.

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