This boy…part two. Broken bones and immense pride

Okay, so I shared in part one of this story that our boy had an amazing opportunity to explore his delights of language and Asian culture. He had a fantastic time, and was scheduled to remain with this group through the end of August.

And then he fell. A simple accident, carrying something and hit a wet patch where stone met wood. We don’t know exactly how he hit, but he broke his humerus into four pieces.

We received the call at about 4am our time on a Sunday morning. They had actually tried twice already to get us…once when the bone broke, once at the hospital. Now they were back at the hotel and preparing to drive him to the airport, a three hour drive, to send him home.

We started scrambling to find a flight for me. A fourteen hour flight. We worked with our international insurance. He was feeling pretty good, but he looked a little wide eyed. He was still grinning, though.

Then our insurance team got a look at the x-ray. Hold everything, they told us. Put him on that plane and his arm will begin to swell. There are nerves and arteries involved. They would have to divert the plane and there would be a very real possibility of having to amputate that arm.

Well. That got our attention.

That’s one of those moments when you realize you have very little control over very real situations in your life. There was truly nothing we could do in that moment to help our boy. We could flutter around and talk to insurance. We could make plans. We could arrange things…but none of it was going to do anything to mend those bones that needed immediate attention.

What did we do? We relied on those who knew things better than we did. We relied on the international travel insurance. We relied on the hospital they directed us to, and we we so thankful for the amazing team there. They called for immediate surgery.

And we prayed. And we called all our friends to pray. And then we prayed some more.

And this was not a desperate act with no hope. This was not a wish thrown out to the cosmos.

We prayed to the God who created our boy to be immensely independent. We prayed to the God who stirred the desires for travel and for experiencing other cultures. We prayed to the God who knew our boy intimately better than we did.

We prayed to the God who orchestrated this whole trip, and who knew the entire time we were giggling and planning and oohing and ahhing over his sill grin…the whole time, that this was part of the agenda.

We prayed, and then we trusted.

We did debate bringing him home early, and we did debate my flying out to get him. Then he said he wanted to stay, and we trusted some more.

And the boy went through the whole thing with an amazing maturity and humility. We received nothing but words of compliment for how he carried himself. He was still grinning. He still got to see the country, even though he did not get to continue with the English language lessons.

He made memories. He saw amazing things. He met amazing people.

I prayed before he went that he would encounter Jesus in ways that could only happen on this trip. I prayed that he would know Jesus better, and would know the giftings Jesus had given him when he came out of this. I prayed that he would grow in confidence.

I hope that has all come true. I know that he is coming home after having walked through his first international trip, his first broken bone and his first surgery. He did it on his own. Kinda. He was surrounded by wonderful people, and he was lifted in prayer by an amazing network back home.

Steve and I learned a whole new level of praying. And we learned when really difficult things happen, and I know this is actually fairly minor compared to what some of our friends have navigated, God shows up. This is new territory for us…sending our kids away from us and watching them navigate life. This was a bit of baptism by fire. But we’re on the other side of it, and I’m back sitting here in Chicago waiting for the boy to come through customs.

I wonder what the next adventure will be.

This boy…part one. Delight and gifting, and….Asia

This boy. Since he was the smallest of boys, he has been independent.


He did not want to be rocked and cuddled to sleep; he wanted simply to be laid down and he would take care of the getting to sleep bit.

He wanted only the minimal instruction in conquering new abilities. Riding a bike without training wheels took no time as he got the concept and then was off ripping down the street with a buddy, laughing loudly and making up stories.

And probably filming.

At fourteen he went off and found a job. The first option, Baskin Robbins, was a nod to a lifetime dream of being an ice cream taster. He found that the staff wasn’t very responsive, so he turned his attention to Culver’s. Think burger version of Chic-fil-A. Secured the job, and employee of the month on his second month. With no help from us.

This boy’s mind is filled with stories and adventures and ideas. He is so quick to understand something, when he is interested. His first love has been movies. He loves watching them and for a season we thought he might be interested in acting. Until stage fright made the acting less than enjoyable and he turned his attention more to the making of the films. He has a series he has done with a cousin over seven years or so. Five episodes a year. They have a website, a plot, character development, drama, great editing and humor. He would probably kill me if I attached the link.

Language has taken ahold of his attention in the last few years. French he is comfortable with, Italian he began teaching himself and some others, until he became bored and picked up Korean.

He loves Asian culture right now. Korean culture. Not so interested in Nashville culture.

So when a family friend called and invited this boy to go to Asia for the month of August, he was all in.


We have grown familiar with the knowledge that this boy probably won’t live in our city for his whole life. He is too curious, to independent. He is going to travel, and he is going to see the world. And he very well may find a place far away that he loves. We are familiar with the knowledge, but since he is only 15 we have not completely accepted the knowledge.


A friend, who may be a grown up version of our Nate, encouraged me not to say no from fear. If there was a legitimate reason to say no, that’s fine. If, however, the no rising up in your throat like a lump because, well, it’s Asia, then maybe let that “no” go.

First international trip. With folks he has never met before, and just a knowledge of stories of the friend who invited him. We said yes…but we were with our worries.

So. I flew the boy to Chicago on July 31st. We met this friend known only from stories, and I almost took Nate on home with me on August 1. Instead, I handed him off to the care of our friend, and his friends, and the great care of God.

And I did not cry in front of him.

We watched diligently the path of his flight, and were thrilled when all the members of the team arrived. He was headed to help out some who were teaching English in two camps.

Languages and Asian culture. Is God not delightful in how he stirs our interest and then plops something like this in our lap?

Several years ago, we sent Nate to a sleep away camp for a week. The older boy had gone, lots of friends went, and we thought it would be great. We poured over pictures the camp posted every day for a glimpse of the boy. We questioned and doubted when we saw him standing with arms folded, away from the group. We worried.

This felt somewhat the same, except for that 14 hour flight of distance.

We poured over every picture he sent.

The pictures emphasized how far away he was. How different the culture and the faces.

They emphasized how he was doing something so big, so completely different than he had ever done. He had never worked with kids. He had never helped teach English.

It was so different…and yet, the joy we saw in every picture made us so happy. No folded arms. No standing at a distance. Just a big silly grin in every. Single. Picture.

He was right where he was supposed to be, and the gifting so God had placed in him…the things that delighted him and sparked that enthusiastic learning…they were shining through. The reports we heard back were awesome. He was engaged, and loving it…and we were so happy!

Eleven days in and we thought how awesome it was that he still had a whole different camp to help with in a different city, and then on to six days of sightseeing!!

Experiencing a different culture is awesome in any way we can get there, but to get to spend a whole month in a different place really allows such a deep understanding. So awesome. We were totally excited!!

God had been so good to orchestrate all of this.

And then. Well, things changed.

And that’s a great place to pause. Yep, that is a broken arm. Broken humerus in fact. Broken into four pieces and requiring emergency surgery. . A 14 hour flight away.

That’s not the focus for the moment.

For the moment, the focus is the fact that God is stirring things in our kids…things that are probably deeper and greater than we can imagine.

Right now, Steve and I are in that strange transition from orchestrating and directing and shepherding our children, to more of an observing and praying and advising role.

With the oldest at college, and now this adventure with Nate, we are realizing that the role of parent is so completely immersed in loving fiercely and guiding and engaging…only with the goal of a separation and a lessening of the need for us.

I know, I know….we are still needed. We are still engaged and we are still loving fiercely. However, our dependence on God to do the more intimate direction and protection has come in to very sharp focus very quickly for us.

I have to confess, the sheer speed of this transition has been a little dizzying.

Suddenly, I look at these boys and I do not see children I need to protect and worry over. I see young men who are beginning to be aware that God has equipped them and directed them and is going to use them. I see the bit of fear, and I see the bit of anxiety…but my word have I been struck by the delight and the joy as they step out.

So, with our littles still in our care, let’s keep pouring in and loving fiercely and engaging. Let us keep praying for those delights to be directed by God and for Him to begin equipping and preparing. Because, my friends, in the blink of an eye we will be struck by the character and the strength and the joy these children of ours have developed. We will be struck that we are sending young men and women to go bring a hope and love and courage to a world that is so in need of hope and loving and courage.

Even if the direction takes them across the ocean, or just a few hours away. Even if. God is working and when He is and we give the freedom for them to step out…we’ll see the joy in their big silly grins.

It wont be without challenges though….so follow me on to the next post and part two.

The Last Game….

That was hard.




Our final weekend of youth hockey. Our final weekend of loading everyone up, with all his gear, and trundling off to the ice rink. Steve and I knew this would be tough, that it was the first of the big “lasts” of this year.


And it was tough. We won three games and came to the Championship so excited about how the weekend had gone, and yet feeling the weight of this last game. This final game ended up not only in a loss, but in a sour loss. Bad calls, missed moments. The loss shadowed the three victories.


So this morning I watch my boy walking around with his head hanging a bit, with a sorrow in his voice. I know, it’s just sports…but, well, it isn’t.




Somewhere around 700 hours at the rink, more than 300 games played. Steve and I were either sitting on cold bleachers or one of us watching via Periscope. Every game.




Stinky gear. Moments of frustration and tossing gear at the truck more than in the back. Moments of shouted anger and shouted delight. Our truck has 230,000 miles, and a great number of them could be allotted to hockey transport. This game about a little rubber puck, a stick and some skates has set a rhythm to our lives for nearly ten years.




We have learned the great delight of cheering for our boy. We have learned the companionship of standing in the stands, or in the freezing cold, with other parents and making ourselves look foolish as we gasp and cheer and shout and moan.




We have watched a child learn to skate. Learn to handle a puck. Learn to shoot. Learn to defend. Learn to skate faster. Learn to hit. Learn to take a hit. Learn to shoot harder. Learn to skate even faster. Backward. Learn to take a deep breath and defend against guys much bigger…but not back down. Learn to take responsibility for his role on the team. Learn the discipline of showing up to practice when it is fun, and when it is not. Learning the meaning of skating suicides.




Learning to value something so much that when it ends sourly it makes you want to cry. Or punch something. We have watched a little boy grow and mature with the help of just a game. With the help of coaches who cared and teammates who pushed him. That is quite a foundation to leap from high school to the next adventure…quite a lot a little rubber puck and a stick can accomplish.




So, Zach.  Today, be mad enough to punch something. Preferably inanimate. Be sad enough, and disappointed enough, to cry, even if you have to do that in the shower. Be glad that you had something for all your youth to care enough about that it sparks deep emotions.


tying skate


Experience those emotions. Don’t ignore them. They are part of the best of this story.  Today that loss is heavy. You feel the responsibility as part of the team, and the sourness for the things out of your control which were unfair. There is nothing easy about leaving on a loss.




But Know This: Your dad and I loved watching you skate. We loved watching you do something you loved. It brought us great delight. Know that that delight is just a glimpse of the delight of God in you as you walk and move and become the man He has created you to be from before we knew you.


Know this, that  we have watched every game you played, and we never got bored. We were as excited when the puck dropped last night as we were when you stumbled on the ice the first time. Last night was as fresh and engaging as your very first game…and we feel the loss with you.



Tomorrow, though. Tomorrow remember the wins. Tomorrow take the time to relish all the joy this sport has brought you. Tomorrow think about how you played your best games this last weekend, with probably your best game ever that very last game. You went out playing hard and with all you had.


2016 Champions


Tomorrow think about how you can appreciate watching a game in a completely different way because you know the feeling of the ice beneath your skates.


Tomorrow think of all the folks who came to watch you play, who cheered you do something you loved.





And now is that moment when I get to use my favorite Frederick Buechner quotation once again:


“There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him, but all the more fascinatingly because of that, all the more compellingly and hauntingly. . . . If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” – Frederick Buechner


And this…the ubiquitous quotation usually attributed to Dr Suess (even though it’s not really for sure he said it, but it sure fits!)


“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” –

Dr Suess or someone much like him.






Well done 74.

Becoming a Great Man…Happy Birthday, Nate

There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great. – G.K. Chesterton


15 years. (and in the following pic, his friend is doing thumbs down because it was just before we moved away.



In so many ways, it seems that our Nate should be older. He carries himself as an older teen. He has a confidence and independence that is eager to be let loose…he is the first of our kids to pursue a job, completely on his own. And now I hear from his bosses how his work ethic is great and his attitude fantastic.


And yet, I turn around and can see that little boy so full of life. He has always felt things deeply.




Now he is maturing before our eyes. The mischievous youngster who was always pulling pranks and coming up with new adventures is becoming the young man who is planning trips to Europe and college in New York.




There are things about our Nate that have not changed, and that’s why the quote on the top is in bold…when you know Nate, you are impacted by being in relationship with him.




He will challenge you. He will question why you think the way you do, or why you judge a person a certain way…and he will also know how to make you laugh and how to make you know you are loved. He is intentional and wise in his relationships.




This boy, who always had the biggest laugh and the craziest stories, can read people better than most. He can tell if you are down, and he can tell when he is pushing buttons…sometimes just to continue pushing them. But he still has the biggest laugh, and he can completely delight in the antics of our cats or something silly on the internet.





He loves life. He is all in. 




Except when he is sleeping. Well, then he is all in to the sleeping and impossible to wake. He does everything with gusto.


He has plans, plans for making films and telling stories through them. He has places he wants to see, and he is learning the languages of those places so he can experience and see them to the best of his ability.




15 years. The changes over the last few have been remarkable. He now is almost…maybe right at…as tall as his dad. He is lanky and strong and can stick his feet behind his head when he likes.



Nate is Nate. He is all these things combined to make this unique 15 year old who can bring delight and laughter and curiosity, and make you aware that life is grand and it is good to be alive.




He has the possibility, and the ability to make those around him feel great. That is a special quality. I can’t wait to see how that character grows in the coming years. The awkwardness of the early teens is leaving, and the confidence and maturity of nearing adulthood is beginning to appear.


15 great years. More to come. More adventures. More mysteries. More making of movies and telling of stories. More laughter. More discovering what delights. More of life. Thankful that he will bring us all along for the ride.




Happy Birthday, my Nate.

It’s not wasted time…

I really don’t have time to sit and just read, to sit and doodle in my bullet journal. 

I don’t have time to read just for pleasure…even if I come across things like this from Madeleine L’Engle:

If I am to be constant in loving and honoring my mother I must not lose sight of ‘ousia’. It’s a good word; it’s my new word. Last summer my word was ‘ontology’: the word about being. This summer I need to go a step further, to ‘ousia’, the essence of being, to that which is really real….

…I learn slowly, and always the hard way. Trying to be what I am not, and cannot be, is not only arrogant, it is stupid…

And This…

“I’m much more use to family and friends when I’m not physically and spiritually depleted than when I spend my energies as though they were unlimited. They are not. The time at the typewriter (!) and the time at the brook refresh me and put me into a more workable perspective.”

I have been attempting to write this blog post for about two weeks. 
I think.

I’ve actually lost track of time a bit…the last few weeks have just been a flurry of activity. I had pictured homeschool life as one of tranquility, with morning lessons on the couch, possibly with a fire in the fireplace. Children blissfully passing our book around and reading allowed, to the rapt attention of their siblings.

Ok, maybe I never went quite that far. But I really did think that it would be a peaceful existence. There would be less demands than a “regular” school life. Last year we put our house on the market in December and moved in January. That was not conducive to peaceful schooling. This year, I am just deeply aware of the errands and the busyness. 

My homeschool life feels a bit more like holding on to the tail of the tiger and hoping he doesn’t catch me. It has been chaotic and unpredictable. One child is working 15+ hours a week, but he doesn’t drive. One child has twice weekly soccer practices, while another has as many or more hockey practices. I have physical therapy appointments at least twice a week trying to manage a new onslaught of headaches. Annoying. Then there are Tutorials and church and …. 

I caught a friend the other day as we walked in to Tutorial for our younger kids and gave her a hard time for not responding to a text. She confessed to just being overwhelmed. And we connected in that moment…we all are feeling it a bit.

Life is busy. 

I have a tendency to think…”next week, I’ll find the rhythm. Next week I will be more organized and more on top of things.” Before I know it, next week has come and gone and looked a lot like last week. 

Dishes take awhile to get cleaned, and the laundry will forever be my nemesis. 

The kids are helping more, and that is good.

But there is a feeling of inadequacy that sneaks in on me, and I have a feeling it sneaks in on a lot of us. We see the good our friends put out there…they look put together and cheerful, and the anxiety that is just under the surface for us begins to come more forward. Our failures that morning are more glaring.

So…my answer is to go and drink good coffee, listen to good music, and doodle in my bullet journal. Pretending it is all put together with a nice flourish? Nah…but the sanity that comes to me in these few hours a week bring a peace to my chaos. 

The above quote from L’Engle comes from her book The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, which is her final journey with her mom and their experience of Alzheimer’s / Dementia. This is one of my favorite books, part of the Crosswicks Journals. Find them and read them. 
Preferably over coffee and with time taken away from demanding things.

We have to find who we are called to be, and we have to find a way to be comfortable in our skins and in our callings. And right now my calling includes laundry and dirty dishes and driving all around town in unpredicatable schedules.  Right now my calling is being the daughter of a mother who no longer remembers, or even is able to use language. Right now my ousia is being that daughter from a distance, and that is difficult…but it is also being a mother myself, and that is surprisingly a blessing. 

It is a blessing when I protect that core of ousia. These coffee breaks are not frivolous. They are life-sustaining. They are moments my brain is allowed to work the way it did before homeschool…and it informs how I homeschool. These moments give the space to feel what it is to be the daughter of a mother who no longer remembers, and to value all the more the memories I hold dear. They allow the space to write about those memories, maybe in a protest for the memories Mom no longer can share. 

That is part of this. The pace of life is frantic, and that does not leave room for truly being, and for remembering. There is a discipline to remembering. There is a discipline to just being. And when we make space to read those who are living well, we read things like this:

“My memory of Mother, which is the fullest memory of anybody living, is only fragmentary. I would like to believe that the creator I call God still remembers all of my mother, knows and cares for the ousia of her, and is still teaching her, and helping her to grow into the self he created her to be, her integrated, whole, redeemed self.”

If you are feeling fragmented and frantic and out of sorts today, know this…so am I. So are a lot of us. So take a breath, and remember that we do not walk this life in some demand for perfection on our own skills. We walk this life in an experience of growing and knowing in the care of a Creator who knows who we are. He knows who he is forming us to be, and how it all works together. 

So relax. Be prepared, and live with the best ability…but in the freedom that God is involved in all of it. That we have a core of identity we operate from well. Be still and know…know who God is and know who you are in Him. Take a breath. Doodle a bullet journal. Read something that truly speaks to you and makes your brain come to life. 

Then go wash those dishes with a bit more twinkle in your eye and joy in spirit.  And maybe invite that friend out for coffee who seems the most overwhelmed…and remind them of all of this as well.  (And while we are all trying not to be perfectionists…note that I misspelled September in my glorious Bullet Journal above!)

Mark the Time….

I sat in our Homeschool Tutorial’s walk-through the other night and was surprised at the catch in my throat as they announced the seniors. We have been talking about Zach’s senior year for some time, commenting on how amazed we are it is finally here. We have talked about all that needs to happen this year, all the details and all the good things. We have talked and talked and talked.



And then the headmaster began announcing the seniors by name and we all applauded and cheered as they stood. Zach is always last, alphabetically. Each student standing and being applauded sank in a little more…all of his friends. And then my boy. How is my boy a senior?!




I was going to spend today trying to write some hints and advice about homeschool. I have some friends who are entering the “upper years” and thought I might have something to share.

And then I found this picture, and well…I decided to switch gears and just focus on this boy for today.



I have not done our “school pic” for this year, and I am realizing I have not been incredibly faithful in those through the years. But I do have a few.



They mark the time. They mark the growth. And when I see them they make me stop and look at that little man. The first born. The one who has born the brunt of our stumblings as parents, and has taught us so much.



We had no idea then what our school journey would look like on that first day of kindergarten. We were so excited about school uniforms and new backpacks!


My beautiful picture


Not every start of the school year was glorious.




There were so many high moments, though. Zach attended a small Christian school from Kindergarten through 5th grade. He had some great friends, and learned so much. Looking back it feels like a lifetime ago, as we enter our sixth year of homeschool…these pictures of little boys in uniforms!






These just make me smile. The life that was happening, and the boys they were becoming. The character that was being formed.


And Zach leading the pack.





The reality of this being his last year of education under our roof is settling in.


When Zach was just a baby our pastor talked one Sunday about parenthood and shared his experiences. One thing stuck with us more than any other. He said he was weary of hearing parents constantly talk of dreading the teen years. He challenged us to speak with hope and excitement about the teen years, about our children growing and becoming their own identities and people.

Speaking with expectation that we would enjoy and delight in every phase.



And we have. We have loved seeing the people they are becoming, and relating on new levels with our children. It has truly been delightful.


But we need these moments to pause. These milestones to look back and remember the tenderness and innocence. To remember the foundation that has been placed to bring them to this moment.


The brink of adulthood. Whew. The time really does pass in the blink of an eye. This seems like an apt time for one of the most used quotations on this blog…


“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 



I am hoping, praying….watching. Waiting to see that the seeds we have planted in this boy continue to bear fruit. The seeds of faith and of hope, of compassion, of determination. I am watching and always wondering if we have done enough.


Ready for a heavy quotation? This time Chesterton…


“Every education teaches a philosophy; if not by dogma then by suggestion, by implication, by atmosphere. Every part of that education has a connection with every other part. If it does not all combine to convey some general view of life, it is not an education at all.”


Whether homeschool or private or public or some mix…we have these souls in our care for such a short time. The clock is ticking more loudly this morning for me. I am more aware that this will be a year of saying “the last time to…”.  The danger is to try and tick off all the checklist and cram in all the information.


I think…and we’ll see how it plays out…that it is more about living with wonder and pointing out how mysterious and amazing this world is. It is about constantly pointing to and reminding of the God who has created and who continues to participate in this amazing creation.


I think it is about reminding these in our care to be aware. To listen to their lives, as Buechner says.


One more year we have. One more year to pour in to this young man all the truth we can. Not just through our words. Through how he is loved, and how we live. One more year to live our faith before him. One more year for all the connections to begin to make sense and become more of a whole than a bunch of lessons.




Whew. I still need to write the tips and ideas about homeschool this year. I still need to finish my bullet journal. I still need to do the last few details of registrations and tutorial requirements…but first I need to pause. To remember, and then to act with expectation and delight as we begin this next phase.




Hopefully this will stick (one more Chesterton, I can’t resist!):


“What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.” 


Join the club…and wave.

I am driving my husband’s Jeep today. One of my favorite things about driving the Jeep is the wave…each Jeep heading my way causes me to prepare. Hands on the wheel. Fingers ready. Glancing to see if the driver is looking…and Jeep wave!

Woohoo! Most of the time, the other drive waves, or at least does that hip-cool one-or-two-finger raised kind of wave.

I am in the club

Actually, a friend who has a coffee shop is having a Jeep rally today and I wish I could be there. Literally hundreds of folks showing up just because they all have Jeeps. To wave and acknowledge they are all in the club.

It got me thinking, though. What if we could recognize something in the folks we see through the day, what if we could see we are in a club of a different sort?

That weary looking woman you just passed on the interstate…she is coming back from visiting a parent in the nursing home. She is heartbroken because she can no longer care for them at home. The other person dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or some other illness. The parent who is dealing with a seriously sick child…what if you could see at a glance they had something in common with you. And you could give them a quick wave, a quick raise of your fingers to acknowledge you are in it too, that you understand.

Or maybe not even so dramatic. Maybe just that mom in the grocery line with the not-so-healthy food who is just worn out and could not come up with a meal plan for the night and is doing her best, but feeling overwhelmed. Yep, I think all of us moms could wave to her at some point.

Or maybe the young man who is about to enter college and wondering how he will measure up and if he is ready. Anyone waving to him? Or the young girl who is hoping she is pretty enough and smart enough. Yep, we can go on and on and on in the list, and there are countless ways we can relate.

Here’s the thing. We are all broken. We are all insecure. We are all overwhelmed and a bit fearful at times, just as we are all confident and joyful and filled with wonder at other times. We are all in this club of being human. How great would it be, though, if in that moment when things look a little fearsome if someone caught your eye and waved.

I see you. I relate. I’m overwhelmed too…but hang in there. There’s hope. 

Maybe it is a little bit of this….not just acting as though all is well. 

Allowing a little of our struggle to leak through sometimes. I’m reading Hannah Coulter from Wendell Berry right now and this caught me today, as she talked about people answering “fine” when they are asked how they are in a community walking through grief during the war…

There is always some shame and fear in this, I think, shame for the terrible selfishness and loneliness of grief, and fear of the difference between your grief and anybody else’s. But this is a kind of courtesy too and a kind of honesty, an unwillingness to act as if loss and grief and suffering are extraordinary. And there is something else: an honoring of the solitude in which the grief you have to bear will have to be borne. Should you fall on your neighbor’s shoulder and weep in the midst of work?  Should you go to the store with tears on your face? No. You are fine. 

 (Here’s the key part…pay attention…)

And yet the comfort somehow gets passed around: a few words that are never forgotten, a note in the mail, a look, a touch, a pat, a hug, a kind of waiting with, a kind of standing by, to the end. Once in a while we hear it sung out in a hymn, when every throat seems suddenly widened with love and a common longing:

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

Loss and grief and suffering are not extraordinary, but that does not mean they are an easy burden. We do often bear them in solitude, but how deep is the consolation when a hand of understanding is placed on your shoulder? I have had moments when the floodgates are open and tears come flowing just because someone asked a question.

There is so much burden around us these days. There is joy, and I like to focus more on the joy. I post lots of pictures of my kids smiling and laughing and enjoying life on Instagram…and it is not fake. We enjoy life. But there is burden and there is grief. And there are days that someone simply waving from a Jeep can make me feel more human and less alone.

Tomorrow most of us will fellowship somewhere with other believers. Look around. Catch someone’s eye. Wave. Remind them that they are not alone, that we are in this club of life together and that we all bear griefs and sufferings and burdens in solitude, but that comfort can get passed around. We don’t even have to know the details.  Maybe when we are a little more honest that the burdens are there, we can sing with a little more longing for the day all the burdens will be lifted.