Friday, March 29, 2013

Real Easter & Seeing Beyond a Flannelgraph Jesus

When I was growing up, Easter was about a new dress and shiny white shoes and sometimes a hat. In my early years, my mom slaved over a big Sunday dinner that surely included her mile-high homemade biscuits. I don't remember what else we ate, just the biscuits. When I was older we splurged on a fancy Easter buffet at an upscale hotel. It was the culinary highlight of the year. 

I'll be honest. Getting to waltz from table to table all dressed up in our Easter best and eat as much as we wanted--it meant more to me than church and the resurrection and all that. I would never have admitted it then but it's true. Easter was pageantry and special-occasion food and those fizzy dye tablets dissolving in vinegar and hunting for plastic eggs in our backyard. 

Now I'm 39 with kids of my own. My daughter thinks it's not Easter unless she has a new dress {which we haven't gotten yet.} I no longer care whether I have a new frock or not. I'd rather spend my money on a pair of comfortable shoes I can wear every day. {I've become a "sensible grown-up" and this is mildly terrifying.}

We'll dye eggs and fill baskets and probably have something special for lunch, which isn't hard to do since we normally have sandwiches and chips for Sunday lunch. Yes, our splurge is the chips. How far I've fallen. I did not inherit my mother's knack for mile-high biscuits nor did I inherit her Sunday fortitude in the kitchen. I'm tired by Sunday and therefore choose not to cook. 

Easter's significance is a melange of nostalgia, tradition, and celebration. It evokes certain feelings and memories and expectations. And I love that. 

But Easter glitz and layers of crinoline cannot obscure the reality that we have trouble in this world. A lot of it. I know trouble. C.S. Lewis wrote a biography called Surprised by Joy. I could write my own called Surprised by Trouble. 

Thankfully that wouldn't be the only book I'd write. Because here's what I know right now on this Good Friday. The world around me is full of trouble and even my own little kingdom teeters back and forth. It would be far more appropriate to wear sackcloth and ashes on Easter Sunday than a pastel dress and shiny heels. 

But the trouble I face in this world is not permanent and I don't endure it alone. You've heard that before and so have I. In fact, I'd heard it so much that it had become an abstraction. All of it. Jesus, his death, the tomb, the resurrection. It may have well been a flannelgraph narrative for all the functionality it really had in my life. That's the sad truth. 

When trouble comes, you've got some options. You can deny it, fight it, climb down into a pit, self-medicate your way through it, face it with a bullet-point strategy, or Pollyanna through your days even though you're dying on the inside. I've probably experimented with all of these approaches on one level or another.


You can tap into this resource that's too good to be true except that it is true. I know because I'm actually learning to live out of that resource and it's no flannelgraph Jesus. It's a feeble start but it's real. We can let the world turn us into victims of its trouble or we can fling ourselves into that arms of a Savior that promises to be our everything. 

Our help in times of trouble.

Our refuge in times of danger and attack.

Our friend all of the time.

Our Counselor and our comforter.

Our strength when we are weak.

Our grace when we want to hold a grudge. 

Our compassion when we'd rather condemn. 

Our peace when life's a storm.

It took trouble for these things to become living, breathing reality in my life. As I've said before, it's good to make friends with mess. 

And these things He promises to be for us? They have been living, breathing reality in my life not just in recent years but specifically this very week. You can be in the trenches of trouble and simultaneously in the trenches of grace. It seems like they should be mutually exclusive but they're not.

I've listened to a sermon by Tim Keller a couple of times in the past week or so. It's called Peace and he talks about how everything, all of our peace, comes down to the cross: 

On the cross He {Jesus} got all the consequences of what we have done and this is one of them and can't you see it? Do you see Jesus Christ just walking through the crucifixion and saying, 'I'm just keeping my mind centered on God. I'm okay. I'm content in whatever circumstance I'm in.' Jesus didn't say that. No. Because He wasn't! Why? Because He lost all of his peace! He cries, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' In fact, we're told that He died with a cry. He died screaming... 
Jesus lost all of his peace so that you could have eternal peace. And looking at that is what'll get you through. That's what will make him lovely.

Jesus entered into the trouble of this world and He allowed the trouble of this world to be heaped upon Him, the perfect and completely innocent Son of God, to the point of death. 

Because of this we can make our way through our troubled days in this troubled world alongside and because of Someone who overcame the trouble. 

And that's why Good Friday is so good even though it was also terribly bad. 

For years I'd been trying to get all of this to really mean something, to care more about Christ and what He did more than I cared about foil-wrapped chocolates and a new outfit. 

Now it finally does. Why? Because out of sheer desperation and dependance, I'm holding the hand of the One who leads me like a shepherd through the trouble of this world. It's experience to me instead of abstraction, actual heart change instead of behavior modification, reality and not just ancient story. 

It's a promise fulfilled already in this very day and one that will continue to unfold throughout my days, like the petals of the daffodils in my yard each spring. They dare to burst forth, unfold, and hold their heads high. Even though they're surrounded by the weeds of my unkept flower beds and may well fall victim to my five-year-old's cowboy boots. 

Beneath the traditions and fake Easter grass and Sunday pastel parade, there is Truth that changes you and me and our relationships with one another and this whole wide world. 

It's real. 

Happy Easter weekend my sweet friends. I pray that the glorious beauty and power of Christ's risen life in you will be more real and radiant than it's ever been before.   

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eat. Read. Love.

I'm all tapped out of meaningful stuff to write. 'Tis the weight of life and its responsibilities. It's still messy, just in case you're wondering. 

And so I shift gears and share with you the simple objects of my affection these days. Everyday indulgences have a way of soothing my soul and unfurrowing my brow. 


My friend, Kelly, introduced me to the pita pizza a few weeks ago and it's revolutionized lunchtime for me and my littlest guy. 

Get yourself a package of quality pitas. I use whole wheat but use whatever you like. Spread on tomato sauce. Top with your favorite pizza items and add cheese. I bake ours at 400 degrees directly on the rack for about 10 minutes. It's a nice change from PB & Js. 

I blame Pinterest for my latest snack obsession: Marshmallow caramel popcorn. 

I can't find the source but here's the easy recipe: 

1/2 c. brown sugar; 1/2 c. butter; 9-10 marshmallows; 12 c. popcorn. Microwave brown sugar and butter for 2 minutes. Add marshmallows. Microwave until melted, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Pour over popcorn.

I started making it for our family movie nights and then it became an after school snack and I may or may not be guilty of making it when there's not even a kid in sight. It's a tad habit-forming.

This soup. 

I mentioned it in the "mess post" but it deserves another shout out. Flower Patch Farmgirl always has the best recipes at her place. This cheesy vegetable soup was a hit with 4 1/2 out of 5 members of my family. "1/2" because my oldest guy said he almost liked it. Around here, 4 1/2 out of 5 is considered success.


Per usual with me, I've got an eclectic mix of books littering my nightstand and my van and my coffee table. But let me just mention two of them for now. 

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. Her memoir on faith has me laughing, crying, nodding, and wishing all of us who call ourselves Christians could just step outside our stuffy boxes and breathe in the beauty, grace, authenticity, and freedom that is Anne's journey. This book is raw and real and tragic and so very beautiful. Also? Her conversion experience involves the F-word. I love her. 

Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo. I'm still in the early stages of this book so I can't give a report yet. Have any of you read anything by him? I started watching interviews with various authors about a month ago and one of them recommended this book because the characters are so good. But now I can't remember who recommended it. It was either Anne Lamott or Kate DiCamillo {who I also double heart love.} 

Oh and the older kids and I finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this week. Finally. We have big plans to watch the movie and can't wait to jump into Book 5. 

And here are a couple of books that I look forward to reading. {By two more ladies I love but have actually met in real life.}

The first one is Spiritual Formation: A Primer and it's written by Richella Parham, a writer and a blogger at Imparting Grace and someone I'm honored to call a friend. It just came out and you can easily get your hands on it here. 

The second one isn't released yet but you can pre-order it on amazon. A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live  by Emily Freeman. Just order it okay? Emily wrote Grace for the Good Girl and Graceful. I have them both. I'm tapping my foot with anticipation over her next one, which is quite a departure from her previous books. She blogs at Chatting at the Sky.  


The Man have spent our not-so-long southern winter on the sofa watching great TV together. And now we're out of stuff to watch...which is sad, but probably for the best now that spring is springing. We loved / hated every moment of Downtown Abbey, along with the rest of the free world. 

In between episodes we watched The Last Enemy, also a BBC series, and it was pretty good. It's all about a hypothetical UK in which Big Brother is tracking everyone. It's full of conspiracy and unexpected turns and a love triangle. The guy who plays Sherlock is the main character. The only thing I didn't like was the eerie, 80s, space-agey kind of background music. Totally threw me off but I'm kind of weird like that.

Then we watched both seasons of Luther. You guessed it, another BBC series. We love Luther. But I recommend it with a serious caveat. It's dark. I can only watch dark if there's the faintest hope of redemption and light and there is with this show ... though in some episodes you have to squint kind of hard to see it. He's a British cop who investigates murders while dealing with his own personal demons; he's a fantastic character. And he's brilliant, but not in a nerdy, uptight Sherlock sort of way. In fact, he's quite the opposite. I hear they're making a third season and since it's on BBC's timeline, we'll probably get it see it in 2019. 

I'd love some good TV series recommendations. What are ya'll watching out there?

Other stuff I'm loving right now: 

My 5-year-old's prayers {Jesus, please help me learn to read. Help me not to wet my pull-up at night...but thank you that you love me even if I do.}

This necklace I made out of junk thrift-store jewelry. 

The beads are wooden and it has 3 chunky turquoise stones. It's fun and lightweight and feels like spring. 

This wine. 

It's perfect. Lily introduced me to it and we always love the same food and drink. Always.

And last but not least, I'm loving that I'll get to hang out with my whole family this weekend...all 22 of us. I'm the oldest of four kids and it's still weird for me that my younger siblings are all grown and married and have the same number of kids as me. 

Technically, we're all hanging out together because it's March Madness and we're kind of a basketball-loving family. But my brother, the one who's the baker, has renamed it March Fatness. His dessert list for the weekend: Cream Cheese Coffeecake, Golden "Eggs," Boston Cream Pie Cake, Candy Bar Cookies, Bale Bars, Banana Pudding, and the Helga Cake.

I feel that we may need to set up a colonic tent by the end of the weekend. I'm getting bloated just typing out that list of decadent goodness. 

{Oh and here's a random bit of trivia: "Ferris Bueller" turned 51 today. I think my forehead just grew another wrinkle.} 


Happy eating, reading, loving, and basketballing to you and yours this weekend! Anything you're especially loving right now?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Making Friends With Mess

I would die of shame if you came to my house right now.

But because y'all tell me that you love it when I show pictures of my dirty home and I'm feeling extra generous today, here's a gift: photos of my crazy house. You're welcome.

The garage looks like it threw up into my kitchen. 

Stacks of folded laundry have been patiently waiting to be put away but the boys' closet is so full of wadded-up clothes that putting the laundry in the drawers means first clearing a path through a mountain of dirty clothes and super-hero costumes. 

Dishes and dirty pots continue to breed in the kitchen even though I run the dishwasher every day. 

The hallway is lined with stuff to put....somewhere. 

The driveway and side yard have been littered for four days with junk from the garage that my littlest guy configured into a bakery. 

{I mean, this is clearly and obviously a bakery.}

My lamp broke. Again.

And my threadbare sofa cushion finally ripped. 

Much of this mess is kind of my fault.

I decided to clean out the garage a couple of days ago and what I thought would take a few hours is actually going to take a few days. Story of my life. At 5:00 yesterday, dinner came 'round like she always does, mocking me with her demanding daily-ness. I was covered in garage dust, had not a single clear spot on my counter, and felt the weariness of the day begin to wash over me. My husband was teaching late so I was shouldering the evening's responsibilities by myself. I considered the very messy, disorganized state of affairs and briefly contemplated running away.

Much as it pained me, I left the undone garage for the next day, rolled up my sleeves, and jumped into dinner prep. I stacked up all the dirty, soaking dishes and got busy, knowing that cooking would only add to the mess but also knowing that my kids needed dinner and that my hard-working husband would be starving when he got home. 

In the midst of so much chaos and undone-ness, I was making more mess...but I was also choosing life. Real life. 

Mess is my enemy. My Myers-Briggs type is INFJ. That "J" means that I'm a fan of order. It means my orientation to the outer world is one of structure and decidedness. Sure, I have a rogue spontaneous and creative streak that threatens to keep the order at bay on any given day but generally speaking, I "need" a certain level of environmental peace to be able think and work and breathe.

But yesterday? There was not an ounce of order to be found anywhere. I felt the familiar anxiety rise up from within and I knew I had a choice: I can give in to the freak-out and run around like a lunatic subduing my tiny world so that I can make dinner in a more peaceful environment OR I can just make the soup in the midst of too much mess, do what I can about the dirty dishes, still read to the kids before bed and know that I'll slowly but surely catch up on the rest throughout the week. And if life interrupts and I don't get to the rest of the mess like I want to, well, so be it. That's why God made wine. 

As surely and quickly as I processed these thoughts and resolved to soldier on, I realized that the wildfire mess spreading throughout my home mirrored the deeper stuff of hope and perseverance and choosing life even when it's falling apart. I considered these things as I stirred the loveliest soup in my dirty kitchen.

Mess, both the literal kind and the less tangible kind, has always felt like the worst kind of adversary. Much as I hate to admit it, I'm a recovering perfectionist, a lover of order, a pursuer of the ideal, a romantic dreamer, a chaser of expectation. When I was younger, I really thought that all of my big sparkly dreams would come true. I did. And I figured that if I just did all of the right things and worked really hard and married the right person, we'd live in the Kingdom of Perfect happily ever after.

But Mess came calling again and again. Despite my best efforts to clean him up, smother him with a cute throw pillow, deny that he existed, and fist-fight him out of my life, Mess kept walking through the back door, dirtying up my house and toying with my life and blasting my little Kingdom of Perfect to smithereens before I could even finish building it. The nerve.

Over many years and through a myriad of unbelievable circumstances I could have never predicted, I gradually befriended Mess. I've learned that he's not the enemy. Without Mess, I'd still be chasing Perfect and kicking Grace to the curb.

I'd think I was better than I really am.

I'd believe that my sweet life had everything to do with my sweet effort and stellar performance.

I'd disdain addicts and squanderers and cheaters and anyone who just couldn't get it together.

I'd have no use for those who'd made epic fails.

I'd have no reason to receive grace and forgiveness for my own epic fails. 

Mess has taught me that there's not a dime's worth of difference between any of us. 

Mess has shown me that I can't get it together. {And also? Why is "getting it together" the goal? I don't even like people who have it all together.} 

Mess has reminded me that Jesus did not come for those who are well; He came to heal and befriend and live among the sick and lowly {that's code for messy people.} And in case you're wondering, I'm in the latter group. 

Mess has grown compassion where there used to be self-righteousness, has allowed me to enter into the dark and embarrassing places in others' lives because I've been there and it takes one to know one.

Mess continues to teach me that the worst circumstances may ironically give way to a better life. Not a perfect life, but a real one. A redeemed one. 

It's a crossroads I seem to return to time and again. I can wait until things are all better and tidied up before I really start to live. Or I can survey my very imperfect life like I survey the ridiculous disarray of my house...

And as it turns out, one can make a beautiful and delicious pot of soup in a really messy kitchen.


If your own life is looking particularly messy at the moment, here are some related posts from the last couple of years about living real in the midst of mess:

Friday, March 8, 2013

{Fourteen Months Later} Rest, Giving Up, and Receiving My Own Life

Fourteen months ago I submitted to a sabbatical of sorts, an unknown number of months devoted to the "task" of resting, healing, and receiving Grace. I called it "The Year of Simplicity." 

We put our kids in public school after nearly five years of homeschooling. I resolved to say No more than Yes. My husband has been good and kind about enforcing margin and boundaries. He shows me lots of grace for my lack of accomplishment. 

In fact, I seem to be the only one who's really concerned with the "lack." 

Many months later, it still feels indulgent to write about it. And more often than not, it still feels indulgent to live it. Some days I feel like I don't need the rest anymore so I plow ahead, taking full advantage of that day's energy and feeling like a normal person again and wanting to pat myself on the back for productivity on a "good day." 

After all that I've learned, my default is still to equate personal worth with personal output. Where is the grace in that? I've said it before: Exhaustion is a bully.

Usually a day or two or three after one of those productive days, I crash. Overpowered by unexplainable exhaustion and its accompanying discouragement, I get the bare minimum done and wonder how someone can be so consistently inconsistent. 

A few weeks ago I saw my doctor. My newest charts show that I'm getting better, but I still have a long way to go before I'm "there." She encouraged me to be patient, to take heart that there is measurable improvement. And I feel it, I do. It's just hard to wait. 

I realize that I write in vague terms here on the blog. That's just the way it has to be. We all have our stories and though mine could certainly be far worse and tragic, it's safe to say that it's been a rough two years. In all honesty, it's been a rough seven years, with some acute crises along the way that threatened to undo me altogether. 

Details aside, here's what I know: Cumulative emotional stress will eventually have its say. You can only keep truckin' for so long before you run out of gas and find yourself broken down on the side of the road. For me, that broken-down day came in December of 2011. Life since then has felt like one extended pit-stop. {Stop the world. I just used a Nascar metaphor.}

Some people receive grace and are less prone to guilt than others. I envy them. Sometimes I have to bury my head in the sand in order to avoid the good messages that my own brain twists into condemning lies. Look what she's doing with her life; she's not making any excuses. 

And then guilt spirals into shame and shame sucks out the precious little anything I had left. 

We all do life differently and even though we're called, as Christians, to shine light into the dark and downtrodden places of our world, there are seasons in which our own light is burning so dimly, we simply have to retreat, if only for a time. 

I remind myself that God doesn't need us to accomplish his good in the world; He's all-sufficient. But He invites us into sacred, beautiful, messy kingdom work for our good and for his glory. For some crazy reason, He chooses to use us. 

On my good days, I'm inspired when I see what this looks like in the lives of others even if it looks nothing like that in my own life. But on my loser days, I'm more guilt-ridden than inspired. I tell God that if He'd just help me out a little and fix what I want Him to fix, I could do so much good in the world.

Instead, He shows me that my struggles and ongoing redemption are exactly the good He's ordained for me and for my family, for now, in our own little corner of the universe.

After seventeen plus years of marriage, I'm learning {so slowly} what it looks like to love my husband and to receive his love for me. We are very much in the trenches of rebuilding and let me tell you, it's work. Emotionally-draining, spiritually-taxing work. Day after day of that will tire you out physically as well. For so long, I didn't make the emotional / physical connection. {Please, just take my word for it. If you're in a really emotionally-draining season, prepare to be physically tired and arrange your life accordingly.}

After twelve years of motherhood, I'm realizing {also very slowly} what it looks like to mother each child with grace and love and freedom. And that is also work

My days are simpler than they've been in the past but they're richer in a way too. Sure there's the laundry, the grocery-shopping, the taxi-ing. But so very organically and sweetly, God is allowing my quiet life to intersect with the lives of other broken and struggling women. In living rooms and coffee shops, via e-mails and blog posts, Grace is doing its upside-down, inside-out, backwards thing. Beauty out of ashes. Community out of brokenness. Encouragement out of suffering. Healing out of scars. Fruitfulness out of rest. 

It's just...happening. I've done nothing to orchestrate it. I only say Yes and receive it. 

I recently scribbled this in my notes of The Ragamuffin Gospel

Is the Gospel of Grace the difference between receiving versus doing? Is the Christian life more passive than active? Responding to His lead instead of driving along as one would in an old carriage, beating life with the whip of law and control and expectation rather than knowing we are uniquely led by a loving God?

I'm no theologian but I'm discovering that great fruitfulness and freedom can be born out of giving up. And if anyone has professionalized giving up, surely it is me. 

On days when I wish I could measure my productivity and have a bit of my old self back, it's steadying to survey the larger picture, to see that God is working and moving even when I feel like I barely am. 

You can't rush rest. You can't Red Bull your way into a functional person. You can't rebuild in a month or even fourteen of them what slowly decayed and crumbled over many years. You can't live someone else's life or adopt their M.O. 

You can only receive yours.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Girl Hero & The Mom Manifesto

My girl is turning 12 tomorrow.

My kids' birthdays always unravel me on the inside just a little. I'm overcome with nostalgia and joy, regret and worry. But mostly I'm overwhelmed by the desire to grip the clock with all my might and just make it stop. It's been said a million times because it's true: babies grow up entirely too fast.

This girl is a wonder to me in every way: inquisitive and intense, creative and dramatic, thoughtful and lovely and longing to do a thousand different things with her life. She wants to be everything from an astronaut to a marine biologist to a judge to a baker / artist.

More than anything, however, she wants to have a career in which she gets to ask lots of questions. Her statement that she wants to be "a rich missionary like Oprah" now lives in infamy. She figures that following in Oprah's footsteps will allow her the opportunity to ask questions for a living, enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, and still accomplish a lot of good in the world.

She's a tiny wisp of a thing but don't let her diminutive, blonde-haired, blue-eyed self fool you. She has an inner strength that I envy, an unflinching honesty that makes me want to cheer...and sometimes cringe. Just this week she commandeered her friend's fancy stolen pencil from a girl who's been in at least two fights this year. Refusing to leave second period without justice being served, she detected a weak spot in the girl's defense, called her on it, and refused to stop the interrogation until she retrieved the pencil.

I would have never done that in the 6th grade. Never. In my 7th grade gym class, a school bully who was twice my size and had a criminal entourage to boot, stole my paisley Swatch. The Swatch that my beloved uncle brought me from Switzerland. The Swatch that was my prize possession. A friend of mine spotted the girl bully wearing my Swatch in math class and with literal fear and trembling, I approached the thief and her posse later in the cafeteria. With quaking voice, I humbly asked for my Swatch. She did not give it to me. But she was kind enough to allow me to buy it back.

So fraidy-cat me scraped together $10 and didn't tell a soul. I bought back my own Swatch from a 7th-grade female terrorist.

The point to this story is that my daughter is far braver and bolder than I was. And if she can survive her school days without getting beat up, her bravery and justice will serve her well. 

Though I love my babies fiercely, I tend to see their struggles and weaknesses, sins and character flaws with far greater clarity than I see their strengths. I tend to discipline and reprimand and redirect more than I applaud and encourage and accept. One of motherhood's greatest challenges, for me at least, is loving my kids totally and completely for who they are instead of who I want them to be.

And isn't that one of our greatest longings for ourselves? To be loved totally and completely for who we are, instead of who we're not. To know that those closest to us would tell us what our high school yearbooks did: You're so awesome. Don't ever change. LYLAS!

Mother-daughter relationships seem especially tricky to navigate. Between the projection and the vicariousness and the estrogen, relationship can get a little crazy. A mama's hopes can feel like a daughter's duty. And a daughter's independence and originality can feel like treachery to the mama. Don't believe me? Just watch an episode of Say Yes to the Dress.

I spent the first...probably 8-ish years trying to make my own girl into who I wanted her to be. I knew that a lesser-willed child would have made my life a lot easier and been the vehicle through which my own pink-tulled visions for her could come to fruition. Admitting that is more painful than I can tell you.

I wish I'd let her wear the kooky outfits and clashing colors and plastic tiaras to the grocery store and preschool and church. I fought ten thousand pointless battles that undermined her freedom and squashed my joy. During those early years, I was so intent on getting it right and taming that strong will that we both missed out on a ton of fun.

But several years ago we made a deal. I vowed not to pressure her into anything that didn't feel true to who she was. She vowed to be honest with me and not make decisions solely to please me.

We have six years together until she leaves for college and the rest of my mother / daughter manifesto is this:

1. Love her for who she is.

2. Choose to see her strengths above her weaknesses.

3. Listen when she's ready to talk, even if I'm bone-tired and just want to go to bed.

4. Chase her dreams with her. Even if I think they're ridiculous. And even if the last thing I want her to do is to try out for the cheerleading team instead of going out for cross-county which is what she wants to do in a couple of months and somebody please hold my hand and tell me to keep smiling and just support her.

5. Quit worrying so much about how she'll "turn out" and simply embrace right now. Enjoy our todays, hormonal imbalances and all.

6. Keep telling her she's beautiful even if it's not getting through and even if she says that I'm her mom and I have say that.

7. Sympathize when her haircuts don't turn out the way she wants and her "knees are ugly" and her ponytails have "too many bumps" and her "ankles look weird." {Because do I honestly think that telling her to quit self-obsessing is really going to make her stop? Does telling that to any female actually make her stop? This kind of crazy think is irrational and therefore impossible to reason away.}

8. Trust that God believes in her even when she's not sure that she believes in Him.

9. Do more "frivolous" things together, even though they cost money and even though it seems less than sensible. It's an investment in our relationship and therefore not a waste.

10. Pray. For her and with her. 


{This will likely be one of my last posts about her. She's getting older and my storytelling, as it pertains to her, will have to respect her privacy and lean more toward the vague than the specific. And that's as it should be.}

Happy birthday. You'll forever be my girl-hero.


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