This Thanksgiving was so different, but no different. While Covid was a component, it wasn’t the culprit.

The holidays are not my favorite time of year. In fact, they’re my least favorite, which seems almost sacrilegious, especially because, I am religious. Not only am I religious, but Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. Tired of consumerism, but loving food to a fault, a holiday centered around foods unique to once a year and family, was just great with me. It segued into transforming the house into a Christmas wonderland. I relished the Christmas spirit, with my children underfoot or at older ages, making their Christmas gift lists overtly known. The gift exchanges with friends, baking, giving extra to those in need, I loved it all, but so much more, because it was done within the framework of my family.

Which is probably why it’s so hard to find joy in the holidays still, ten years after my divorce. Wait, it might be eleven! But I’m not counting. Those are the holidays that I still want, and cannot have. I made the decision soon after the divorce that I would not give in to the temptation of a stale emotional state. So, for the holidays, I would do my best to maintain the integrity of who I am. Each year, while on a lesser scale, but still in earnest, I pursue the holidays. I do my best to maintain a semblance of the home and traditions my kids grew up in. While the family we knew died, we don’t have to live like we died, but can live and thrive.

But that is no easy task. Thriving can mean striving, and if one is always striving, seeking that life that we desire, the one that brings us joy and peace, the process can be arduous.

Even today, with just my daughter, our two dogs, and myself, I made a full Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, a whole turkey, and the works. Because of medical issues, my daughter did not eat (these are not related to her medical issues she had in HS or college). I can imagine what some of you are thinking, and it’s probably not, “Can I have the recipe?”

Since the divorce, this family still struggles to find its footing. The reasons are complex, and for many families of divorce, this is not the case. But it is the case for ours, and I know there are others.

In spite of the big meals I make, the bounce in my step, the decorations of tinsel and sparkle, the holidays are difficult, and I find myself enduring them, instead of running into their arms with the excitement I once knew.

Well-intentioned people have advised me with admonishment to move on, reminding me that God is my husband and my father. My first response is to punch them. I want to say, “Well, that’s easy for you to say, since you have one.” Would one say that to someone who lost a child in death?

Punching them isn’t cool though, and I could not agree with them more. Without God as my husband and father, I would not be here today. Besides the health of my daughter, my relationship with my children, and living without my family during the holidays has brought me closer to God than any other thing. God created my family. It is his design. And I believe that as my heavenly father and husband, he mourns with me, with every ornament I hang, the disappointments I bear, and the tears that fall.

If you are divorced and strive to thrive, but face the glare of the holiday lights that expose the losses, and intensifies the pain, I see you. I feel you, and I know you. God created the design of family to be the pillar of our society, and our strength in times of good and bad. Every form of media emphasizes the value of family. That when we have our family, we have everything, even when faced with the most difficult of circumstances.

What does that mean then, for those who don’t have family, or it’s been dismantled beyond recognition? When that family is no longer there, like the rag that gets tossed around a bit, yet still predictably, always ready for use when needed?

There are times I turn to some of my amazing friends. Some people will turn to romantic relationships, drugs, or alcohol. Determined to wedge something into that empty space, they attempt to complete the puzzle that was uniquely made for their family.

My friends are a generous salve. They are angels in my life, divinely appointed for me. And while they are sometimes an answer to prayer, they, nor drugs, alcohol, or romantic fulfillment can answer prayers or change hearts.

Every year, it’s the same drill. I brace myself, I prepare myself, I’m disappointed, I grieve, and I beg God for mercy. And every year, he delivers in specific, unique, and holy ways that are difficult to articulate, because I think, all miracles are.

This Thanksgiving was anything but typical. It was fragmented and disjointed. I couldn’t find the answer in one TV illustration on how to handle the complexities of Covid. None of the experts on TV addressed my personal scenario. But God heard my pleas and answered my prayers. He gave me courage to find the right words when I needed them, and tenderness in my execution. Angels were on my side and in my presence. My daughter and I shared a time of conversation that united us and a memory that I will treasure; one on which we can build.

The holidays shine a light on the brokenness that we work so hard to recover. But there is one who is the light of the world, whose light is so powerful, that he will not let the darkness overpower him (John 1:5). He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34).

Covid is hard. I understand that the destruction it’s caused. But the media and God are right. That when we have the love of our families, we can overcome any hardship. Of the hardships we face,  none compares to the hardship of losing one’s family.

Being this transparent is hard for me. But I know this hard walk. It’s exhausting and discouraging when we don’t reap what we’ve sown. It reminds me of some favorite movies. One I recently saw called The Biggest Little Farm. It documents the enormous energy that a family puts into building a farm out of nothing. One fiasco and tragedy after the other occurs, until ultimately they discover how all of those mishaps shaped their farm into the success it is today.

The other movie is more relevant to this time of year. That is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  After so much sacrifice and devotion to the people he loves, George Baily faces the potential collapse of his business, and not because of any fault of his own. Through an angel, and the beautiful gift of perspective, George is able to reconcile his losses and overcome his despair.

It’s true that in the end, George has his family. But it’s God who gives him the perspective he needs to be pointed in the right direction, positioning himself for God’s miracles.

Many of us can relate to George. If that weren’t true, they wouldn’t have made a movie about it! Look for your Clarence, and let him point you in the right direction.

You can do this, because God can do this.

PS: Oh, and a whole pie. These are the best store-bought homemade pies ever.

January 12, 2019

During my talk with Bridgette this afternoon I discovered that this week is NEDA’s awareness week. NEDA stands for National Eating Disorders Association. For several years, I knew almost instinctually when it was NEDA awareness week. I discovered it during conversations at the hospital, or one of Bridgette’s providers might have mentioned it, or because I was reading an article on eating disorders, or maybe like a dog has a nose for a bone, I was in tuned to anything eating disorder related. That’s no longer the case. I’m glad we can celebrate that we are free from the world in which we dwelled much longer than we’d hoped, but today I felt a little guilty that I was unaware of NEDA’s week of recognition.

I recall visions of one day helping the world of eating disorders if we ever had the opportunity. It was a time that consumed us and defined so much of our lives that I was eager to be a resource should anyone ever want one. That is, if we ever got to a place where someone would consider me a worthy resource; as in, recovered. And we are. I’m still eager to be a resource, but our lives have moved beyond eating disorders and knowing the date of NEDA’s awareness week couldn’t have been further from my mind. Praise God. I don’t say that as an ordinary salutation, but with sincere praise and gratitude for the minutes, hours, days, months, and years that He held our hearts in his hands. Seven of them, to be exact. Not that he isn’t now, but I’m happy to say I’ve released my grip a bit.

There are many things that help a person walk the road of eating disorders (or any mental health). I am convinced of a couple of key elements to overcoming an eating disorder, but even with those two factors, I know I could not have succeeded without the Holy Spirit in me.

Below is a photo that God revealed to Bridgette and me on a day I was feeling desperate for relief. Relief from the lies my child told me, relief from the trust she had broken, relief from the meal plans I monitored, relief from the meals I prepared without her seeing me prepare them, relief from the meals I was forced to prepare to her satisfaction, relief from having to alter my cooking habits, relief from altering my own eating habits, relief from driving her to and from day treatments, relief from her volatility, relief from the dr. appointments, relief from the eating disorder circle up meals. If only relief could have been given from an Alka Seltzer. But God gave me much more than a pop pop fizz fizz. He gave us himself, Mary, and Joseph. One day, exhausted on every level and after pleading with Him, he appeared on a wall in the hospital in the form of Plaster of Paris. It was enough to get me through the remaining years, because even if he wasn’t showing up on a wall, through tears, anger, and disappointments, I clung to the day he appeared on the wall and peace that surpasses all understanding guarded my heart and mind. We continued to find relief in the form of an amazing dietician in Corvallis and her therapist in Portland. Two professionals that were integral in her recovery and for whom I have the highest respect and gratitude.

At St. Vincent’s Hospital, just for us.

Bridgette had the great satisfaction this afternoon of being a guest speaker at the St. Vincent’s Eating Disorder program. After years of in and out, we got to know the staff there well. At least 3 of the staff are still there. Working with a team is a very intimate vulnerable experience for the patient and the involved family, so they know the victory as well as we do. She was invited to come talk with both the adolescent and adult programs, sharing the details of the ugliness of her journey with the victory of where she is today. So many people believe that one never truly overcomes an eating disorder, but Bridgette was there to tell them differently.

Just like our behaviors and mind forms patterns of thought when we’re unhealthy, so do our behaviors and mind form patterns when we’re healthy. If one can get themselves to a place of recovery, and live in that space long enough to form new patterns, then overcoming an eating disorder is possible. Do I believe it can return? Yes, I do. Will I live in fear of that? No, I won’t.

As a mom of a now married young woman, I no longer have the same opportunities to observe Bridgette’s behaviors. I have to trust and continue to pray that this behavior is here to stay. One of the two factors I believe are critical (and pivotal) for patient recovery is the involvement of a parent. Some people might call this parent support, but it’s much more than that. It’s not a cheerleader telling your child they can do it. The parent who is involved, scrutinizing the food intake, the meal plans, eating the meals with the child, receiving the blows of the struggling child, etc. is the scenario that will be most helpful to the patient. I pray I will never go through that again. But as her mom, I will always be aware and will risk a harsh reply by checking in with her if I see something concerning. I love her too much not to.

So, we celebrate with NEDA a day of awareness. Eating disorders are serious. It’s not just a really skinny kid who won’t eat. It’s a really skinny kid who won’t eat and is being held captive by lies they can’t overcome. And those lies can kill them. Eating disorders aren’t just anorexia. It includes over eating, binge eating, and more. If you know someone who might need help, contact NEDA, or your local doctor immediately.

Like the first doctor said when I first took Bridgette, completely unaware of what the problem could be, “We’re not playing in the sand. Get help now.” That doctor knew the signs well. Bridgette went in for an evaluation, was admitted to the hospital and didn’t come home for over two weeks.

St. Vincent’s Hospital – A welcomed visit today.

Bridgette took this picture at the hospital today. It was a place she hated and yet the staff there saved her life.

Praise God. He is the bread of life, but we have to eat bread, too!

Bridgette has her own blog about her eating disorder journey. You can find it at:

Bridgette and Goliath


I wish I could say I got to enjoy this. I attempted having a fire again, hoping I’d figured out how to keep smoke from billowing into my house, but I hadn’t. I ended up pouring water onto it. But it sure looks pretty, doesn’t it!?

I know it’s a week late for this, but since my job isn’t a beat reporter, you can bet my current affairs will always be a day late, which is in keeping with me, because I’m always a dollar short! I’m enjoying the idea of an extra day off with our inclement weather, yet as it sits right now, the inclement weather has hit every area except Washington County. Just the idea of it is giving me a possible false sense of a few extra hours to play with, so play I will!

Playing for me is to write a blog post that’s been on my mind since last Sunday. The Super Bowl upset that I’m referring to has nothing to do with the outcome of the Patriots / Rams game on February 3rd. I had such a great time at my friends’ house eating good food, catching up, and enjoying a defensive game. While many people thought it was boring, I was engaged with anticipation of which defense was going to break down and allow the other team to score. Since Bradley plays defense, I appreciate that perspective of a game and I was thoroughly entertained.

But what did disappoint me was the halftime show. Adam Levine was fine. I wish he would smile because he’s so much cuter when he does. His gyrating distracted me. I enjoy his personality on The Voice, but I didn’t find the same sense of satisfaction in his Super Bowl performance as I do watching him banter with Blake Shelton about The Voice contestants.

The Super Bowl upset was this: the halftime show’s second performer. I’m going to expose my ignorance by admitting I don’t even know who he was. I know he’s a big deal because he performed at the Super Bowl. I’m out of the loop with pop culture. I’m not even going to look up who the performer was. I don’t care about tearing him down, and this post is about more than this performer.  My disappointment is in the people who are in a position of decision making. I was so frustrated that the second half time performer sang a song that required many of his phrases to be bleeped out. I don’t get it. I feel like sports is the one arena that should be sacred. That anyone should be able to take their child to a sporting event and trust that it’s family friendly, absent of anything that would require us to plug our kids’ ears or explain anything other than why the Patriots took so long to score and the significance of a young coach and quarterback getting to play in the Super Bowl.

We have ratings on movies and we sensor our books. The drinking age and ability to buy cigarettes in Oregon is 21. We separate state and church so extremely that we’re not allowed  to use the word Christmas in any portion of our holiday celebrations at school. Yet the Super Bowl that received 98,000,000 views smacks us with a performance that uses lyrics that are so offensive they have to be bleeped out. I’m sorry for the people who were present at the Super Bowl and forced to hear the lyrics.

We put laws and policies into place, in an effort to protect our kids, but where is our heart for our kids? Where is our sacrifice for them? There is a theory called PAC – Perceived Adult Consent. This theory was discussed as part of the Discovery Program class that I was privileged to participate in as part of my school’s strategy to help our students. PAC makes so much sense to me. It means that consent is perceived by students (or youth) when adults observe a behavior that has been deemed unacceptable, and look the other way instead of confronting it. PAC subtly gives our youth the message that even though we say something is not okay and even though we say something is important, we are not going to go the extra mile to enforce it. What they might experience is that we care, but we don’t care that much. Or they might just think we’re authoritarian, like rules, and don’t care at all.

I’ve seen PAC happen a million times, every day. It happens in our community, within families, on social media, at school: everywhere.

I understand that addressing issues takes time and energy that we don’t always have. I understand it’s easier to make our kids’ bed than it is to teach them, and it’s easier to pretend we didn’t hear the name they called us, than deal with a consequence we have to enforce. But what gets me is that people ask:

What is happening to our youth?

What is happening to the fabric of our culture?

Why are our kids so depressed, anxious, and volatile?

Why are our kids so disrespectful?

Why are our kids facing more mental and social issues than ever before?

I feel like the answer lies with us. We are what’s wrong. Who looked the other way when it was decided to use this performer at the biggest sporting event in our country? Was there a discussion? Was there an argument? Did someone advocate for our kids and consider the message this performer infuses into our culture? It is one thing for someone to access this performer on the Internet or at a concert. But we were subjected to this performance.

Don’t we all really just want to feel good? We are daily bombarded with things that don’t feel good and are out of our control. When it is in our control, why don’t we embrace that opportunity? Like Ellen does (yea, Cheerios!), or Jeep does?

Jeep opted not to spend the money on a Super Bowl ad they’ve spent in the past and instead post their ad on the Internet. Their ad was created with the same level of quality that we would expect from a Super Bowl ad, and it was beautiful. The ad makes one feel good!

Why wouldn’t the producers of the Super Bowl reach for that goal? Thank you, Jeep for knowing we want to feel good. I can think of many performers who make us feel good and don’t require bleeping. Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, to name a few. There are many more. I think Gladys Knight’s National Anthem made us all feel good!

At this time there is so much effort in both time, money, and mental strategy to understand what is happening to our kids. Educators attend symposiums in an effort to decipher emotional, social, behavioral, and mental health. Counselors spend entire days sorting through emotions so they can get students to a place where they can focus and learn. New methods for managing our students are introduced. We ask: Where are things going wrong? What can we do for them? What system can we put into place to meet their needs? More money is required within education than ever before for resources and providers. And we are paying the price.

To me, all of our efforts seem fruitless if we don’t identify the root cause, which I believe is this:

There is a lot of Perceived Adult Consent that takes place in the lives of our youth every day.

Our expectations of our kids and each other are low. We look the other way when we see courtesy abandoned. Our kids don’t think it’s important, and why would they? Our politicians hurl insults at each other and we cheer them on. We retaliate on social media with snarky replies to and at each other. And we condone profanity and obscene lyrics in a public display.

The other day I saw a post that seemed so ridiculous I laughed out loud, TO MYSELF! I didn’t post it and call her an idiot. I later shared it with a friend and we had a good laugh. But we chuckled at her style. We didn’t devalue this person by slamming her publicly.

Even at that, as a Christian with a desire to esteem people and not devalue them, whether in public or privately, I had to check myself. I understand the temptations. But if we want to make a difference for our youth and each other, we have to overcome temptations. We have to sacrifice time and our own entertainment. We have to be uncomfortable. For some it might mean working harder at being our better selves. For me, it’s seeking to be the new creature that I am in Christ Jesus, which is easy to do when I talk with him and read his words of encouragement.

If our kids are our tomorrow; we are their today.

I know our world isn’t perfect. Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world, and to take heart, because he came to overcome the world. But his love for children is great.

He said in Matthew 18: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Our responsibility for children is monumental.

I’m on a vacation that I’ve named, largely in part to remind me why I’m spending a few hundred dollars by myself and enjoying it. A purpose gives me some justification that eases my spirit if I begin to feel anxious about the money. Gosh, maybe I should keep my receipts. If my writing miraculously becomes a business I could write this off on my taxes. I’ve named this three night jaunt in Cannon Beach, My Writing/Reading vacation. There; documentation in case I’m audited. On second thought, it’s called My Writing/Reading business trip.

Marion Roach Smith and Anne Lamott both command want-to-be-writers (I’m not a “wanna be” kind of gal) to write every day. I miserably fail at that, or I should say, I’m a successful failure. Thus, the need to pay for a place that removes the distractions. I first had a place reserved in Rockaway Oregon, but in the end it didn’t work out. That would have been less distractions than Cannon Beach. My first day was filled with lovely distractions. On my way I stopped at Nehalem Bay Winery. My boss worked there and speaks so highly of it and the people she worked with, so I added that to my get away agenda.

The view from a deck

And then my good friend who has a beach house in Cannon Beach was here, and I decided that since I was already distracted, I might as well commune with my good friend. We ate at a restaurant called Harding Trading Company.  My friend and I shared chicken liver pate and Coq Au Vin with spaetzle. It was only my second time having that fancy chicken and it was so yummy. I considered going again tonight but opted for a slice of pizza and a scoop of ice cream, in case I get audited.

On my drive I played favorite songs over and over, pretending I was Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert, just in case I go to a karaoke bar, I’m prepared. My navigator to the Nehalem Bay Winery took me down Hwy 53, which I’d never been on. It’s one of those turns that I’ve passed a million times and have wished I had time to explore. It’s beautiful, rural, and curvy.

On Hwy 53

I wondered how Winky was surviving my singing and the windy roads. I discovered that he wasn’t handling it well at all when I pulled off on a road owned by Weyerhaeuser to let him relieve himself. I’m glad I’d left his kennel door open so when he needed to escape, he could.

Ready for potential karaoke performance, it was time to start some good edification with a sermon by Timothy Keller. Yes, the Timothy Keller of the Reason for God. My daughter would probably say I’m obsessed with him. I tend to share things I’m enthused or impressed with, so hence, “I know mom, you’re obsessed with him/her.” I’m “obsessed” with a lot of things.

The sermon I listened to is called The Healing of Anger

The message about anger was beautiful. I’m not going to focus on that message now. But just so you know, it could change your life. Inside of that message was an affirmation I received about parenting that I’m certain I learned from God, my ultimate guidance counselor. God is doing this a lot for me lately. Attitudes that I’m adopting in life are being affirmed, as kind of a nod from Him. As I listened to Tim’s sermon I wondered why God hadn’t sent this YouTube sermon (and other messages I’ve recently heard or read) my way long ago, giving me instant solutions when I’ve been at crossroads with so many options. I’ve had to work hard for answers, and YouTube might have been much more efficient!

But as I think about the process of some of the hard decisions I’ve had to make, especially when it comes to my kids, I needed it to come from God.

That’s not to dismiss the valuable messages and lessons we can learn through trusted friends and leaders. We should seek counsel from others. A favorite verse is Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”

But so often people keep seeking, over and over, looking for the answer. The one that we can digest, one that satisfies a form of godliness and also satisfies our earthly senses. Our best answers, the right answers, lie in God, and his answers are laid out for us in the bible. This is best received when we are in prayer, as in Philippians 4:6-7. “… in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When we are in communion with God, the answers we receive are more palatable, which really is another way of saying, these are the answers that provide us peace. If our answers aren’t coming from God, or we aren’t in communion with God, and we are seeking an answer we want to hear more than what is best, then the peace we are seeking is elusive, and we will continue to ask everyone we know and search the Internet high and low, for the answers we want. Answers I’ve received from God have been heartbreaking, yet I had peace that it was right.

Parenting has been hard. The difficulties are magnified in a broken family when parents don’t unite. I have friends who have solid structures and they face the textbook difficulties of parenting. But there are other levels of hard that aren’t of the mainstream parenting textbook. I have combinations of friends, some married, some divorced, some with good relationships with their former spouses, etc. and the difficulties among everyone are varied. But what is certain is that the painful parenting is a different kind of hard.

Our first tendency is to retreat from a child who is hurting us. Maybe our child is lashing out in anger and saying hateful things, or maybe he is rejecting or dismissing us, or possibly betraying us. None of us responds well to any of that. It can be excruciating. Because of our deep love, we agonize over it. Our natural tendency might be to give him space, as a disguise to give ourselves space from the hurt. “I’ll give him space. I’ll give him all the space he needs,” a friend considered one day.

I might have considered that for a millisecond. My reaction has been more along the lines of another option: to lash back. To convince my child that they are wrong. I’ve got a lot of ammunition ready to right this wrong and in my longing to make things right, my cartridge is fully loaded.

Depending on the personality of the child, both of these reactions can work. But personality and environment are everything in regards to interpersonal dynamics. What works for one set of people may be explosive for another set.

In that explosiveness, there’s lingering shrapnel. It can be removed, but it takes time. In the meantime we’re left with wounds that can debilitate us if we aren’t intentional about recovery. I don’t want to be debilitated as a mom. Without a partner to back me up, it has felt as if my credentials were tossed in the trash can with my marriage, as if suddenly my parenting authority had been revoked. It feels like that, but I know that in spite of our marriage being dissolved, I am still my kids’ parent. I am still mom.

In that role I want to convey truths and I want to do it in love, even when I anticipate that I will be rejected in my effort. Timothy Keller calls this strategy “performing a surgical strike.”

It means getting in close, knowing it will hurt, and absorbing the pain.

That is the hard stuff in being a parent. Being that person who teaches them when we see them making a bad decision, starting down a wrong road, or just causing them to consider a juncture they’re about to take. I think about some conversations I’ve had with my kids. Recently my daughter and I were at odds about something, and I told her that we all need that person who causes us to ask ourselves, “Is this the best decision?” When we want to be self sufficient and independent, that question might feel like a reprimand, when really it’s a blinking light that causes us to reconsider.

Like surgery, I know there are times when my words are going to hurt, that the patient is going to flinch, and the reaction could be anything from a tolerant acceptance in the moment, with a delayed painful reaction later, or it could be a roar, rejecting any effort I make. On more than one occasion you have probably said, “Parenting is hard.” It’s especially hard when we’re performing a surgical strike. And when you’ve got no back up? UGH!

This is in essence what God showed me a few years back. This is what he did as our father. He lived in truth, he did the hard stuff, and He absorbed our pain.

As our kids become young adults, our parenting is different. But they still need us. Everything in our society says they are adults when they’re 18. That message kind of drives me crazy. Our brains aren’t fully developed until we’re about 25 years old. We give them the title of adult, but they aren’t living the life of an adult in the truest sense. In the book Age of Opportunity, Laurence Steinberg urges us to not give up our efforts to teach and influence our kids. He believes that in the time before their brain is fully developed we have a unique opportunity to help steer them. We are not done when our kids turn 18.

Our kids have a way of evoking anger in us. It’s no wonder this topic was included in Tim Keller’s sermon about anger. It’s really really good. I hope you’ll listen to it!

A few pictures of my place in Cannon Beach at the McBee Cottages during my three day business trip. These cottages are super cute!

Trimline phone…even has an old fashioned coffee stain next to it. It’s a clean coffee stain.

Winky had never been to the beach. He looks pretty, and is happy to sit with me, but he’s a scaredy cat, so I had to carry him down!

This is a harder post to read than some others. Under my tab “Hard Stuff” I wonder if I have the courage to write about the hard things. I’m learning. I always hope I can write a message of encouragement. It’s a skill I’m working on. To be able to right the miracle of my story as I share the victory. But there is no victory without a fight. Some may not want to read about the fight. Most details I don’t share, but there’s got to be some that I share to reveal the story. My hope is that I improve and both you and I learn in this process. 

I haven’t been able to write for a couple of weeks. It’s been non stop for me with work and my personal life. May and June in the life of a high school is all consuming. In addition to end of school year wrap up, which also means gear up for the next year because dates, monies, staff, etc have to be determined for the upcoming year, it means graduation too, which is the big event. Additionally our school is revamping its curriculum as well as our physical building, and I’ve had my own graduations in my personal life, including a life changing event. My daughter just became engaged with a wonderful young man who I am happy to inherit. All good things, but all require both physical and emotional efforts, which means writing, yard work, and any other extracurricular activities get put aside (is it extracurricular when one isn’t in school, and is yard work extracurricular?). At the same time, it provides lots of material, and challenges my writing skills as I navigate how to express these personal experiences.

I’m praising God because in the last few weeks I’ve felt him turning minutes into hours like he increased five loaves and two fish.

Today is Father’s Day. I don’t have a father to celebrate, now or in the past. Last night I picked up some half and half from the grocery store. At the check out stand the cashier asked, “Got your Father’s Day plans all set up?” I answered, “Yep!”

I knew the guy didn’t want to hear, “Oh no. I wasn’t raised by my dad, plus he died a long time ago anyway.” Nor did he want to hear that I wasn’t celebrating my children’s dad. I too don’t like the sound of that. The poor guy was just handing me change and making small conversation. I enjoy talking to just about anyone, fortunately for him I was in deep in thought, as was evidenced by the parking job I discovered when I returned to my car: right down the middle was the parking space line. Not skewed on one side or the other, but smack dab down the center of my car. The cashier’s assumption dug into my soul for a few moments. As I walked away I reconciled in my mind the lie I had just insinuated and I worked through another event where my experience isn’t what is the norm for most people, at least not for most people with whom I come in contact.

Not having an earthly father who looked after me has been pivotal in who I am, which would be true for every person, because our fathers are pivotal in who we are. It’s why divorce is so devastating, particularly if the parents aren’t able to come together in parenting their children. God’s design places a role for both a father and a mother to raise up our children, united in one vision. When God’s design is broken, the pieces are being picked up in an effort to make things look something like whole again. If the divorced family can make a good effort, then I believe redemption in what has been broken is possible. Without that united effort, the only hope is another father, our heavenly father, who steps in for us.

Not having my own father and navigating a victorious life in the face of a broken family has caused me to seek my heavenly father, far more than I would had I been blessed with both a father and a husband. Not having an earthly father on whom I could depend has been the norm for me. My own father left my mother when I was very young. When I was about 13 I was reunited with him (I’ll save that detail for now) for a short time. The scenario didn’t work out so I returned to my foster home with a foster mom and dad. At my young age, I assumed my foster dad would be my dad. Our relationship was not altogether solid, but I accepted it for what it was. He seemed good enough. I’ll take him! Ultimately I discovered that he didn’t consider me to be his daughter several years into adulthood. I’d written a letter explaining my frustration in how they treated me when my biological mom had returned to my life and I felt a duty to care for her. I never heard from him or my foster mom again.

Those missing pieces (a mom and a dad) in my life caused me to cruise through life, not in the sense that I was enjoying the ride, but in the sense that I had no direction. I wasn’t pointed anywhere, except when I was eighteen and it was time to leave. That’s not to say I hadn’t had discipline or that God hadn’t been guiding me all along. I’d had lots of discipline (or punishments) in various forms. And God did guide me. I discovered Jesus’ love for me at age 13 (just before I’d been reunited with my dad) and I had a constant nagging sense (which I believe was God’s Holy Spirit) in everything I did. Some people might misinterpret that sense as being guilt. I did feel guilt when I wasn’t honoring God’s word that I had discovered to be truth. But no one guilted me into becoming a Christian. I was the first to discover Jesus while living in my foster home. God spoke directly to me, and it was between him and me.

As I cruised with no destination in mind, I stopped at ports and explored, storms crashed around me, and icebergs stopped me short. My exploring took me places I wish I would have avoided, which lead me to some of the icebergs.  As I’ve raised my kids I’ve had to learn to balance my desire to spare them their hurts and allow them freedom to make valuable mistakes. Not having a partner in this parenting effort, God’s word has been a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my parenting path. Among counselors, friends, and the many books I have read, I’ve relied on God’s word to give me guidance to direct my children. I want them to have a sense of direction in the hopes they are spared the unnecessary mistakes that cause pain and detours. God provided a roadmap; I believe that’s what God has called Fathers to do for their children, as He has done for us.

I have friends who have said or indicated that I should “live a little,” as if I’m denying myself of all life has to offer. I’ve lived plenty of what life has to offer and I’ve lost a lot. The message I’d like to offer is,

“Life is too short to get off track.”

Why not instead live according to the instructions from our heavenly father? There is no confusion about right or wrong or good or bad. His influence is true and pure. Even when I deviate from His instruction, I am certain of His love. I don’t have to earn it, I don’t deserve it. I simply return to Him and ask Him again to forgive me and to guide me in His loving presence once again.

At 58, I am not seeking an earthly father or husband that I look to with admiration. Yet I consider these things a bonus that others enjoy. I know this to be true from the envy I feel when I see it. Then I find myself feeling its absence. I am fortunate that the relationship that I’ve acquired with God through the detours and storms have yielded an intimacy that is reliant on Him. I trust and depend on His promises. I feel Him on the most ordinary days when I’m with my friends or gardening, especially with my children, and also in their absence. But what a blessing to have the benefit of an earthly father. They are a treasure beyond any measure. I hope that on this Father’s Day you know the joy of a father in your life, whether he’s your father, or the father of your children, and you thank your heavenly father for him.

Thank you heavenly father for lemons and lemonade.