I can remember the exact moment anger was introduced into my life.  I was 22 years old, living in a tiny apartment in Athens, Georgia.  I had been acting horridly towards my husband for a week-and-a-half, and couldn’t figure out why I was so…”edgy”  (The words hostile and venomous also come to mind).  One night I was up at 4:00 am, nursing Madeline,  just simmering and festering and brooding in the rocking chair. I can only imagine the expression on my face – contorted and sour, smoke rolling slow and steady out of my ears.  And it occurred to me – I’m angry!

I thought I’d been angry before, but when I felt real anger, I realized that this was a wholly new emotion and I had NO IDEA how to handle it.  Sort of like being in love.  You think you’ve been in love, until you really fall in love, and then you realize that, in hindsight, you probably didn’t love your 8th grade boyfriend.  Rita Rudner once said, “Before I met my husband I’d never fallen in love; I’d only stepped in it a few times.”   And that’s exactly how my first experience with anger felt.  I’d been irritated, frustrated, wronged, and hurt – all of the precursors.  I’d dipped my toe into anger, testing the waters. But during my 22nd year of life, I fell in.

So at 4:00 in the morning, when I was finally able to put a word with the emotion, I felt simultaneously furious, and utterly hopeless.  “I’ve never dealt with this before.  How do I survive this?  How will my joy survive?  My marriage?”

I’d heard sermons and read books about anger, and how Jesus says to be self-controlled – not to let anger determine your behavior.  He also says to forgive, to turn the other cheek and love your enemies.  I used to tell people these things all the time when they’d come to me with their anger.  I told them to take a walk, exercise, get some air.  Take a long shower, pray pray pray.  Ask for the mind of Christ – that you would have the ability to see people like God sees people.  To see their need and hurt and sin and complexity – and that out of your new vision, compassion might be borne.

I’d heard all about how anger is a poison – that it affects your life much more than the other persons.  That whomever you’re angry with is likely as happy as a clam, totally unaware that you are in danger of a stroke because you’re sending them mean thoughts of flat tires and bad haircuts with such intensity.

But when I was angry, it still felt like there was a piece missing.  A key that, when I found it, would unlock my heart and all of the advice would just fall in and I would grow into this bigger, forgiving person.   But I couldn’t find it.  I felt powerless against this new emotion, that, for the record, is just as enslaving and consuming as any other sin or addiction.

I wanted to find all the people whom I gave advice and say, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t appreciate what you were feeling! I didn’t know you were consumed.  I didn’t know that the word “forgiveness” didn’t compute, that it felt foreign on your tongue.  I know, now, that you were looking for the key.”

For the record, there is no key.  And if there is, it’s something like getting over yourself.

There were three things that brought me through my year of anger.

Yes, it took me almost a full year to learn how to deal with new, real anger.  Sometimes I relapse, but at least I know how to handle it now.  (It should be said that my way is not necessarily the most efficient way, or even a good way of dealing with anger.  I’m sure there are people out there with great exercises and strategies, and if it had occurred to me to talk to someone, I probably could have saved myself a lot of stress.)

But for me, what worked was:

Commitment
Love
And letting go.

Commitment.  I was more committed to Jesus than I was angry.  In fact commitment to Jesus was about the only thing in my life that was bigger than my anger at the time.  (From my perspective, anyway.  Everything about God is bigger than everything about me.  And there were certainly much larger problems in the world – but when you’re angry, you tend to think that the whole world is about you and your hurt.)  So the thing that saved me was that anger could never be primary.  It never really had full reign of my life, my choices or my heart.  Christ had that, and it saved me.

Love.  I loved Jesus more than I was angry.  And because Jesus was primary in my life, I was still able to love Dan more than I was angry at him.  Not in a doe-eyed-drunken-puppy kind of way, but I had a deep appreciation for who he was as a person.  I believed in him, irrevocably.  I have every single day since the day we met – true story.  And no matter how angry I was, I knew that if we could get it right, it would be so, so good. (And it is now, for the record.)

And letting go.  At some point I became exhausted of the sensation that my blood was actually boiling in my veins as I nursed Madeline in the middle of the night, while Dan slept peacefully in the next room.  I felt weary and batterd, not like myself.  Who has time for that?  So I let go.  Which is a useless thing to tell someone who’s feeling angry because it doesn’t compute – they’re looking for the key.  Except that at some point, that’s the only thing there is to do.  Letting go is the key.

As I committed myself to Jesus and to Dan, I was able to let go.  And once I did – all of that advice actually helped.  I went on walks, I took long showers, I prayed a lot.  I forgave a little bit at a time, inch by inch across my heart until I wasn’t angry anymore.

Believe it or not, this is the longest introduction ever to what I actually wanted to write about, which is peace.  But I think peace deserves it’s own post.

So if you’re angry, I understand.  I know what anger feels like and what it can do to your insides.  But please don’t stay angry.  It will poison you and steal your attention away from good things, worthy things, and focus it on the sensation of boiling blood.  And boiling blood is really lame compared to the sweeping, overwhelming, totally freeing, ocean-sensation of grace.  Compared to laughter, connection, and trust; compared to joy, anger isn’t really something worth holding on to.

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I love his "eyeliner."

He thinks he's in charge of things.

His bath was a success - nobody lost any limbs.

He is a good sport.

**Disclaimer**
This post is an op-ed of sorts, featuring an opinion/personal conviction/pet peeve of mine.  Not exactly the type of writing you’ll normally find here.  Disagree as you please; I will climb down off my soapbox momentarily, and then we can be friends again.  It’s nothing personal.

Dear other mothers, or soon-to-be mothers,

Let’s have a chat.

I don’t know if there’s a delicate way to say this, so I’m just going to shoot from the hip.

Please, please do not discuss your child’s bodily functions on Twitter or Facebook.  I’m not bothered by the lesser offenses, farts or burps or whatever.  I mean to say, we do not want to hear about the goings on of your infant’s/toddler’s excretory system.  Ever.

I waited until AFTER I had a baby to discuss this, to see if my opinion would change with motherhood.  It has not.

As I see it, there are three kinds of “Excrement Statuses.”  They are all equally gross, and, speaking for the general public, we would appreciate it if you would keep all three to yourself.

1.  The “Cry for Help/validation” status (usually sounds something like this):

“I’ve already changed little Suzie FIVE times this morning and she just another naassssttyy diaper.  Ugh.  I guess I’ll be washing clothes all morning again- SIGH.  Motherhood is the hardest job in the world…”

First of all, do you see how gross this sounds when it isn’t referring to your own little snuggle bug?  Secondly, I have a child.  She is two; she is potty-training.  I GET than a lot of times, your entire day revolves around your child’s excretory system: the diapers, the washing clothes/sheets/the carpet six times in one afternoon.  I know how quickly a mother can go through a bottle of carpet cleaner, or a bottle of anti-anxiety meds.  I get it, I do.

And since this is addressed to mothers, let’s just be frank.   I know that as kids reach that precious age of learning how to take of their own diapers, “things” get on the walls, and their stuffed animals, and things similarly difficult to wash – and it makes you want to fake your own death and run away to Mexico.  I’ve been known to take a picture of the bio-hazardous area and send it to my husband on the phone, to say, “I need you to come rescue me because I’m about to go insane.”

(For those of you who don’t have kids, let me clue you in on a little secret.  Mothers do not like cleaning up icky things any more than you do.  If some excretory-status-posting-moms have led you to believe this, you’ve been deceived.  Giving birth does not magically turn off your sense of smell, or your sense of hygiene.  This notion that mothers smile and hum and sway back and forth lovingly as we change dirty diapers is a MYTH.  We hold our breath, scrunch up our faces and do what we’ve gotta do because we love our kids with a sacrificial love.  We don’t enjoy it; we endure it.   Consider the myth busted.)

At any rate, I confess to having sent Dan an attention-seeking “cry for help” text/photo/frenzied phone call.  But he’s my husband, and he signed on for this.  I’m allowed to cry to him for help, and you can cry to your husbands (or parents, or best friends, or nannies, or boyfriends, or counselors)  for help, too.  But a facebook stauts is not an appropriate place to discuss how many onesies you’ve had to wash today.  It’s just gross.

2.  The “Funny” status:

This one usually revolves around the same kind of incident as the “Cry for Help” status – the mother just tends to be having a better day, or a better attitude, or more medication or something.  It usually sounds something like this:

“Oh. my. gosh.  I didn’t know so much could come out of such a little person.  Ew!  HA HA HA.  At least he’s a cute little stinker!”

Here’s the thing: If you want to write a book, or start a blog about the surprises and joys of motherhood, I encourage you to do it.  It might even be a hit.  But if you’re going to post observations about bowel movements or projectile vomiting, or projectile anything else, may I suggest doing it in a place where people CHOSE to visit and read? I have a few precious friends that are all having babies about now, and you know what?  I would totally go to their blogs or read their books – because I care about them, and I care about their kids.  I would read about their children’s bodily emissions, and laugh out loud and swap stories and empathize.  But when my phone buzzes and it’s a tweet from you about how hilarious your kids most recent potty-training mishap was?  I was thinking about what snack I should make for Girls Night this week, and now I’m thinking about things that come out of your child’s tush.

I understand that the perky, ever-loving optimist in you is so, so tempted to share your “there’s-humor-in-every-situation” attitude with the world. Once I was changing Madeline on the changing table in her bedroom while my mom, my best friend Megan, and my husband Dan were waiting in the living room.  Madeline started going and would not stop. At first I was grossed out, then amazed, and at some point all I could do was laugh.  I got myself into hysterics in the bedroom, almost crying from laughing at the insane brilliance and hilarity of the human body.   But I DID NOT share it on Facebook.  Mom and Meg and Dan being seriously disgusted and refusing to “come see” served as a nice reminder that not everyone would find it as funny as I did.  I’m only sharing it now (on a blog, where you chose to come, and chose to read this far into a post about bowel movements) to prove a point.  Laughing at life is healthy!  If you’re a “Funny Excrement” poster, I admire your zest for life.  But please, no Facebook or Twitter.  I will be sure to check your blog when I’m not eating on my lunch break.

3.  The last type of Excrement Status is the “VICTORY” status.

At my present stage of parenting, this variety is the hardest for me to resist.  It usually sounds something like this:

“Madeline pooped in the toilet this morning!  All by herself!  Aaannd, we went to Wal-Mart for 2 hours and she was dry the whole time!”

I understand on a deep, deep level the TRIUMPH of a morning/trip to the grocery store with dry undies.  Or the first time your kid goes to the potty by himself. I know all about the praise, and the celebration, and the M&Ms.  In our house we sing and dance, too.  But I have to remind myself (as should you) that the VAST majority of my (your) hundreds of facebook friends (like people from high school, former professors, and kids in the youth group) don’t wan’t to hear it.

I have a little group of people I email these victory stories to, since it really is too exhilarating to keep to myself.  It’s like 2 years of back-breaking work are about to pay off, because now my child is leaps and bounds closer to successful independent adulthood, armed with speech and bladder control.   I’m not saying don’t share with people in your life, I’m just saying…

In the words of an anonymous friend,

“I want to hear about your child’s BMs about as much as I want to hear about yours.”

Which, to help you read between the lines, is none.

I made a resolution before I ever had Madeline that I would not be an excrement-status-poster-mom.  And to date, I’ve kept my word.  My statuses are about Madeline all the time. They are about motherhood and housekeeping, since that is what I’m doing with my life these days.  I am proud to be a mom, it is one the best things I’ve ever done.  I have shared quite a bit of Madeline’s life very, very publicly.  But I have not, and armed with my little group of email friends (and my own stubbornness), will not impose any information about Madeline’s bowels on your Newsfeeds.

Who’s with me?

Birthday Bling. Thank you, little Madeline.

“When you’re twenty-five-ish, you’re old enough to know what kind of music you love, regardless of what your last boyfriend or old roommate always used to play…”  [Shauna Niequist in Bittersweet]

I like Glee, and maybe possibly some Lady GaGa – I don’t care what anyone says.

Today I turn 25.  25 on the 25th of August.  If I were into numerology (or anything at all to do with numbers, like, say, mathematics) I might think this was significant.  As I was thinking about this birthday, and the first quarter of my life, I started to write something like, “I’m a little heavier than I was at 24…”  and then I realized that’s not true. I’m heavier than I was when I was 22 – but motherhood and sweeping life changes (but mostly motherhood) have sort of blurred the last few years together into one big season.  A lump of time that isn’t measured by days or months or years, but by exactly how long it will take to get Madeline out of pull-ups.

At any rate…

I just finished a book titled Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, and in the book there is a chapter called “twenty-five.”

It contains one of my favorite little snippets of the book, which you should all go read, by the way.  I thought I would share, in honor of 25.

Shauna writes,

“I felt more and more like myself with each passing year, for better and for worse, and you’ll find that, too.  Every year you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it.  I promise.”

Yes.  I love it.  I was telling a friend of mine, a few months ago, how much I love the “softness” I keep discovering in myself.  Not just around my abdomen, either.  I actually really hate that softness and wouldn’t mind if it got lost in the Bermuda Triangle or something, never to be seen again.  I’d even throw it a going away party.  Bon Voyage, little mommy pouch!

But I love the softness that marriage and motherhood and growing up has formed within me.  I’ll look back through pictures every so often and wonder how on earth Dan could have fallen in love with someone so brash – with such a compulsive need to talk and laugh all the time.

A few weeks after I had Madeline I tried to express to a friend what motherhood was like, and all I could think to say was this:

“I’m softer.  Everything about Madeline is soft: soft hair, soft skin, soft little pink clothes, soft blankets, soft sweet breath, soft hands, soft feet, soft little baby noises – squeaks, squawks, yawns, hiccups, and sighs.  Everything about her is delicate, and it’s contagious.

There is a transcendent gentleness in the house, now, and things inside of me are shifting.  I’m less of a brash, trendy, twenty-something, and I feel like I got out in the nick of time.  Something in my core has settled into its proper place, and I think I’m learning something that’s central to womanhood.”

I “get” compassion in a whole new way.  I have a better understanding of meekness, humility, and selflessness – all of those virtues that brash, loud people are afraid of.  I used to be afraid of them.  I thought that the two were mutually exclusive – that I couldn’t be funny and social, and still be meek.  Oh, but I can!   And when we’re honest with ourselves, those intimidating virtues (like humility, that are so completely contrary to our nature) are magnetic.  If I were choosing friends, I would choose humble, kind, wise, soft, compassionate people…and funny…who listen to good music.  Those are the kinds of people I like to be around.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  [1 Peter 3:3-4]

Let me be clear, I’m pro-goofiness and loud music.  I LOVE fashion, and over-sized jewelry has a very special place in my heart.  But it is not where my beauty comes from.

People always say you shouldn’t pray for humility because then you’ll end up getting humbled, which is uncomfortable by definition.  I think that’s absolutely silly.  I so desire humility, because it’s so much more beautiful than brash.

At 25, I’m praying for humility.  Trading perfect skin for groundedness.  I’m learning (note the present progressive tense of the verb) softness, and “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”

Oh, I’m also gonna party like it’s my birthday.

Celebrating with my dolls circa 1988.

Shelley Lake, Raleigh, NC.

I received a box full of awesomeness in the mail this week from my friend, Megan.  It contained:

  • Cute-as-pie jammies for Madeline
  • An adorable journal/notebook (and it’s college ruled!)  (Have you seen my stash of these?)
  • An Anne Lamott book
  • B-E-A-Utiful coasters that match my living room
  • A water bottle with a little bird on it that says “Hope”  (which is Madeline’s middle name and has such significance to us.  Also, Madeline has been our “little bird” since day one in the hospital, when she gaped her little tiny mouth for food, like a baby robin.)
  • A bag with a similar adorable bird.
  • And a new clutch/wallet.  Orange, because she knows me.

Um, wow?  She informed me that she has been collecting the awesomeness since January, and I believe her.  Everything was wrapped neatly in tissue paper, and there were little sticky notes with comments/explanations on them, so it was like she was there opening it with me.

The goods.

I sincerely hope that all of you have a friend like Megan in your lives.  Megan is my confidant, my “person.”  She is the one I tell when I can’t tell anyone else, but I’ll die to keep it in.

I think the best way I can explain our friendship is to share what I shared with Megan on her wedding day:

“Megan,

You are my very dearest friend.  You are also, far and away, one of my goofiest friends.  I have memories that span a decade of you and I dressed up in legwarmers, scrunchies, and ridiculous make-up dancing around eighties pop music – as a way to spend a Tuesday night.

I remember the day that Megan confided in me in her dorm room at Liberty and said, “I have a crush on Scott.”  I was so overwhelmingly happy!  I thought, “Scott is smart and respectful and a gentleman and he loves the Lord,” but then I paused and thought – “I don’t know if he’s goofy enough.”

I didn’t say anything, I just sort of watched to see how it would all play out.

My fears were dissuaded a few months later – after Meg had snagged him for her very own.  We were going out to dinner for Megan’s birthday, and as we were standing in the parking lot I saw Scott take off running towards the car.  He ran and jumped and slid into the driver’s seat through the car window!  It was super smooth and well rehearsed.  For a moment, he was Jackie Chan.  I was so impressed!

A few days later Megan showed me a video of Scott and Company, just a bunch of college dudes dancing like absolute idiots to “I Like to Move It, Move It” from the Madagascar soundtrack.  All by themselves in the car, delighted with their own silliness.  I think that was what clinched it for me:  I thought, goofy?  Check.  This is going to be a perfect fit.

Megan's birthday dinner, just after the Jackie Chan incident.

There are people in my life that I’m friends with because we click, we have a lot in common, we have chemistry.  And then there are people that I’m friends with because, over time, we’ve learned how to be good friends to one another.

And that is the very special kind of friendship that I have with Megan.  She decided a long time ago that what was important to me in my life was going to be important to her in her life.  When we moved apart for college after spending 6 years together in Raleigh, Megan sent me packages and cards.  We spent time on the phone and on the computer chatting.  She saved her hard-earned money and came to visit me every year.  (The first time, I remember, we were totally college-student-broke, and she was content to lay on my couch and watch FRIENDS, and collect our nickels and dimes to buy Ramen noodles at Wal-Mart for dinner.)  And while we certainly DO have a lot in common, and DO have a blast together – the thing that has allowed our friendship to endure is the fact that we learned how to be friends.

She was the first to visit me when I had Madeline, the first to visit when we bought our new house.  (Since this time, she was the first to visit our new home in Alabama.)  Megan, you are loyal and (sometimes brutally) honest.  You are generous, and you are the best friend anyone could hope for.   I know that in the same way you learned how to be a great friend, you are going to learn how to be a great wife.

After all, there’s quite a bit of overlap.  Consider things like communication, generosity, compromise, commitment, vulnerability, forgiveness, and plain having fun.  Scott – you are blessed among men!

So here’s to Megan and Scott – may you always be students of life; learning how to be better wives, husbands, and followers of Jesus.  Congratulations.”

Today I’m feeling very grateful for goodies in the mail, a new book to dive into, and friendship.

“Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.”  [Ralph Waldo Emerson]

Megan's wedding day. Photos by Brooke Courtney

Saturday I made the quick trip up to Nashville to visit my friend, Cindy, from college.   She is one of those rare gems of a friend that refuses to let me fall out of touch (which I am pretty skilled at).   She is the kind of friend that I can exchange Facebook messages with once every six months (or longer), and then go for visit and pick up right where we left off, without having to cut through any discomfort or small talk.   Cindy is personable, quirky, wise, and hilarious – and I love all those things about her.  When I was a freshman in college, Cindy accompanied me and two other friends on what we all still refer to as “The Best Spring Break Trip Ever.”

When I came up I65 and saw the Bell South Tower and the rest of the Nashville skyline, I wanted to tweet at all the famous people who live there and say, “I’m here!”  I recognize that this is a really obnoxious non-famous-person thing to do; so I showed restraint.  You know, to save my dignity.

I was there for one night and Cindy and I made sure to get Starbucks at Barnes & Noble, dinner at Cheddars, and dessert at a GENIUS frozen yogurt place called Sweet CeCe’s.

The shoppe in Nashville is roughly 4x this size. Some call it overkill, I call it delicious.

You grab a cup, choose from maybe 12 flavors of soft serve, and then choose any combination of toppings your little heart desires.  They weigh your cup at the check out, and charge by weight.  Tip:  whipped cream weighs almost nothing.

The shoppe we went to has an entire WALL of toppings, in tubes that go the whole way to the ceiling.  It was very Willy Wonka, only less creepy.

Madeline performed as well as any two-year-old could ever hope to.  She handled it all with grace: the new places, new people, an unfamiliar place to sleep, and the hours of riding in a carseat that restricts limbs a little less than a straight jacket.  I am so thankful that she is a better traveler than I am a navigator.  Which brings me to the purpose of this post:  the drive home.

I left in the morning, so that I could be home in time to help Dan at church.  I was making great time.  I sent Dan a text message 45 minutes before church started saying, “I’m in Huntsville!

20 minutes later he replied with, “Where are you???”

To which I replied, “I don’t know.”  (My whiney voice was implicit, I think Dan got it.)

It all happened so fast.

You would think that a well-educated 25-year-old would have a pretty good grasp of geography.  Or at least East versus West.  (This is because you’ve never see me try to determine my right from my left.  It might also be helpful for you to know that for a long time, I thought Bolivia and Guam were both in South America.)

I was exiting I65 onto a highway that I KNOW, that I travel often. The sign at the end of the exit ramp lied to me (EVIDENTLY it was a “tad” twisted around).  It told me that Huntsville was to the left (west) when it, in fact, is not.

I followed the sign blindly.  So much faith.  There is a life lesson here somewhere, something about critical thinking and not believing everything you read.

I drove west and west and west – about 20 minutes through farm land before I thought, “I should be in Huntsville by now.  This looks nothing like Huntsville.”

I turned around on a gravel road, and almost immediately saw a sign that said, “Huntsville – 52 miles.”

My head almost exploded, because at this point in our journey I was bursting.  I didn’t want to stop for the bathroom and wake Madeline up, since she had to be a happy traveler for at least another HOUR.  It was a torturous mind game, weighing the pros and cons.

“If I keep going, Madeline will stay asleep and I won’t have to listen to a British woman singing nursery rhymes for an hour.  If I stop, my bladder may not explode within me.”

I was miserable.  The only other time I’ve ever had to pee so badly was on an airplane flying from Raleigh, NC to San Diego, CA.  I was in the window seat with two sleeping passengers between myself and the aisle (whom I’ve since forgiven).  Two hours into the flight I was sweating and feeling faint.  When we deplaned my friend, Beth, and I rushed to the bathroom and confessed to each other as we were unzipping our pants, “I’ve had to pee since KANSAS!!”  “Me too!”

With every mile I drove back east I was amazed at how much faith I had in the signage.  “I can’t believe I drove this far.” Sigh, ever the optimist.

It was about that time that Dan called and asked, knowingly, “Are you lost?”

__________________

My mom has moved a lot, more than your average bear, and I’ve learned volumes watching her do it.  Shortly after moving to Texas, she called me and shared stories, some funny, some tearful, about finding her way through Dallas.  She explained how one road had 6 names depending on which stretch of it you were referring to.  She explained the access roads, the traffic, the maniacs in over-sized trucks.  She explained how every exit is backwards, that everything loops around seven times.  She said, “I’ve just learned to trust the signs.  You have to turn right to go left, you see something off in the distance, but there is no logical path from here to there.”

And somewhere in middle of her stories she gave me precious, sage advice that I will remember for the rest of my life.

She said, “You know what I’ve learned?  You’re never lost if you know how to get home.”

(I hope you’re already applying this to your life; it is so much bigger than driving.)

“You’re never lost if you know how to get home.  It might not be the shortest way, or the easiest, but as long as you can get back to somewhere you know – you’re never lost.  I’m not afraid to turn around – more than once.  You can go anywhere, you just can’t be afraid to turn around.”

________________________

“Are you lost?”

He didn’t know it, but phrasing the question just so brought me peace by the truck load.  I said, “I may not know where I am, but I’m not lost.”

So many times in life I’ve been in the middle of a new place, a big decision, something unfamiliar and scary where nothing is certain, and I’ve remembered my mother’s words.  “You can’t be afraid to turn around.”

One of my very favorite songs is the Old Shaker song, “Simple Gifts.”

“When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”

As much as we hate to admit it, much of life is trial and error.  We know almost nothing with certainty, and life is notorious for slamming us upside the head with curve balls we didn’t see coming.  When I find myself spinning, reeling, and seeing stars from the most recent curve ball, I listen to this song, and miss my mother so much my bones hurt, and I tell myself, “to turn, turn will be my delight, till by turning, turning I come ’round right.  Don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed, don’t be too proud to turn around.”

“You’re never lost if you know how to get home.”

Home is a loose concept for me, for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here.  For some people it’s a city, or a house, and sometimes I’m jealous of those people, because I imagine that would be really nice.  Home is a little more intangible for me, but I know it when I feel it.

But what I know, is that I’m fortunate to have a loose definition, a loose experience of home, because I will never be really lost.  Home is deep in my soul – an encounter with Jesus, the God of all comforts, that is intimate and familiar.  It is HIS voice that is home to me more than any other persons, and in His unfathomable grace and goodness He has made Himself available to me anytime, anywhere, through prayer, his Word, and the Holy Spirit.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.”

All praise and glory to Jesus, I will never be lost again.

I don’t know where you are in life, but wherever you are, if you are feeling a little lost, don’t be afraid to turn around.  There’s no shame in it.  You might not know exactly where you are, but you’re never lost if you know how to get home.

Yesterday, I brought Madeline a bowl of fresh blueberries into the living room for a snack.  (While she was watching an episode of Dora where Dora and Boots are hunting for blueberries.)

I cannot overstate the melodrama of her response.

“THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for my BLUEBERRIES!  I LOVE you, mommy!  You’re the sweeetiest mommy in the WHOLE WORLD.”

Then she thew her arms around my neck and giggled as she took the bowl from me and just stared at the berries – like it was too good to be true.  Her whole face was glowing.

Let me tell you something.  In that moment she could have asked me for a pony and I would have cashed in our life insurance policies to give it to her.  Her response made me want to give her the whole world with bows and cherries and sprinkles on top.

It doesn’t bother me one bit that she borrowed the phrase “sweetiest mommy in the whole world” from an Elmo video, in which Elmo was referring to a cat.

Never underestimate the power of a little (or a lot) of gratitude.