Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

Today I sat in the backyard, mosquitoes at my side, green leaves above me. The green leaves were dancing, touching one another and running away. I watched them for awhile. I took a picture, but it didn’t do it justice – so I memorized it, wrote it down, and sent a prayer up above thanking God for the dancing leaves.

I’ve been doing a lot of giving thanks lately. I carry around my little notebook, tucked in the back of my purse, and I write down a list of things I thank God for. A challenge to find 1000 gifts – gifts of grace – in each moment. I can’t even describe to you the joy that’s exploding in my heart as I look for God’s gifts each day. I’m hungry, searching for them, and when I find them it truly is the sweetest gift of grace. Like manna to my hungry soul.

I am being reminded constantly to give thanks in all things. In the hard days. In the tears. When my heart is hurt. When relationships seem so hard.

Pulling out my journal and writing down my thanks. Praying out my words of praise. Naming the good gifts He gives.

And so I thought it timely, underneath that dance of the leaves, to write my gratitude to you. Life hasn’t been perfect and our relationship never has been, either – I guess none ever are. There’s been hurtful words dripping with pain; there’s been hard conversations where we’ve put on glasses that wouldn’t allow us to see the other’s perspective. We haven’t always been what we each needed.


The leaves above me whisper grace and I open my eyes to see you in a different way. I see your hand outstretched, reaching for your long since grown up girl. A gift.

The way you laugh in delight, your eyes mischievous, when you’ve told us a something only you will ever find funny. Another gift.

When you text me, the moment I need to hear it, that you’re proud of me. Yet another gift.

The way new passions that make you feel alive give you breath in your lungs. When you work long days, hard days, frustrating days, ever the hard worker, an hour early to work. Long strides across gravelled roads, taking each step in each moment with eyes ahead. Each weekend filled with family. Soccer games watched. Oil changes made. Engines checked. “Expensive” coffee paid for in Starbucks. Shared chocolate bars. Montreal Sangria. Washed bathing suits for the next hot tub visit.


Dancing leaves, soul food, kind of gifts.

And I want to name the gifts you are. Whisper them tucked into prayers. That God is good, and you show me signs of His goodness.

You are loved, Dad, on this day and always,

for you are a gift.




“I think your heart must be mending,” she says as I dance past her. Toes on the floor, hands up, I float by her, collapsing into the chair beside her own. I look at her recently done hair, the eyes hidden behind the glasses. She smiles up at me, waiting for a response.

I think for a moment, feeling the cool leather beneath my hands. The stitches keeping the material tightly bound in place. Does it take just a few stitches to return a heart to its rightful place? What do stitches even look like? What does mending look like, I wonder – does it look like a dance down a hallway, a glimmer in the eyes?

“I guess it is,” I answer her slowly.

But my hands still rest on the stitches.

I wonder why it’s hard to give it up. Sometimes I think we cling to the broken pieces because we aren’t really willing to be healed yet. I think we hold tightly to them, because they tell us a story, of who we once were or hoped to be. Stitches tell the story of what won’t be. They tell the story of broken hopes and promises and dreams.

Sometimes I forget that they also tell the story of healing. Sometimes I forget that in the goodbyes, there’s always hellos, too.

There’s always hellos, too.

There’s new hopes,

new promises,

and new dreams.

Lately there’s been a lot of chapters ending. There will be more goodbyes, and packed boxes, and cracks that will need new stitches.

I confess that the ending of chapters is the hardest for me. Letting go of the broken pieces, even when they are carefully taken out of my clenched hands, is the hardest. I hate the unknown. I hate the blank pages.

And yet, as a week closes in which the beginning of adventures have been written, I am choosing the hellos, too. I am resting hands on stitches and letting eyes see good, see hope, see healing.

Not just endings.

But beginnings, too.

When it’s too easy to miss the moon

She tells a story of a moon. (And yes – I know I talk about the moon a lot, but bear with me in this story).

Beside her, six kids are readying for dinner. Dishes are scattered across the counter and food is ready to be played. Behind her her husband comes over, waving to her. “Come here,” he says. “You need to see this.”

But her eyes are on the dishes and the readied food and the hungry babies. “Now?” She asks


“Can’t it wait until after dinner?” Eyes on the clock.

He’s insistent. And so she follows him, to where he stands, and then his hands are on her shoulders and he steers her to where she can see. The moon. Beautifully high in the sky, casting a glow on the fields below. “I thought you’d want to see it,” he says quietly, and after a nod from him, she picks up her camera and is all legs as she hurries out into the field.

And all I can think about as she writes of this moment is how often we miss the moon. 

We fill minutes with things and people so time passes us by. I never want time to pass me by. I never want to fill it so full that I miss what I’m even filling it with.

I pile expectations higher and higher and higher until I am drowning underneath them. And their weight threatens to destroy me. But I keep piling.

And in the process of to do lists and dreams and unwashed dishes and unfinished laundry and a never perfect body … I miss the moon.

I miss the moon.

And I am so afraid I’ve lived 26 years and missed it. I’m so afraid I’ve done big capital L Living I’ve forgotten life is lived in the moments in between. When we see who’s in front of us. When our feet slow even though we’re late but the lilacs wrap their scent around us and stop us in our tracks. When we laugh at the ducks that waddle up to picnic blankets and dance and bellow and wail in the middle of a traffic jam. When we find ourselves in the middle of a mosquito-filled patio, raspberry pie stinging our tongues with it’s sweet tartness.

I’ve longed to press forward these days. To skip tears and heart breaking and be on the other side of the valley.

But I’m afraid if I did I’d miss the moon.

And so I breathe and I ask God for more grace and more days to see Him in the little things. And to trust that those are what make the long days, the hard days, beautiful.

If only we keep stopping to see the moon.

{ps – the Story and all of her other amazing words can be found here and here}

Moons & Shadows

I have to tell you about the moon.

It’s been orange, and white, and somewhere in between. It’s stood prominently against the backdrop of the sky, casting a glow on my skin and the world around me. Bright and true, I’ve been impressed with it’s presence. Profound in it’s beauty, surrounded by darkness. It needs the darkness to stand true.

That’s what I keep thinking about. How the brightness is dependent on the darkness around it.

It’s steady, you know? It’s always there, even when I can’t see it. I watch it as it appears again, slivers until it’s full. And I watch it each night as it disappears for days, until it returns. Prominent again. Full. Breaking up the shadows, showering us in hues of colours that don’t exist outside of the night sky.

And I come back to that thought, that my beloved moon needs the darkness around it. It needs it. Or maybe it is the light that redeems it. It wouldn’t be bright without it. It wouldn’t show the craters, and the crescents, and the glowing flecks of light surrounding it. It wouldn’t be the moon without the dark sky around it. 

And I can’t shake it.

I can’t fathom how we need the darkness in our lives to see the light. 

In this can I thank Him? In this, can I thank Him for the darkness? In Him, can I trust that He can redeem the darkness to reflect the light far greater than the light could shine on its own?

Is it all a part of a grander picture, far greater than I can or will ever see?

Can I find Him in it?

I meet Him there, as I always do, beneath the moon. Blanket around me, words and tears mixed, light sifting through the black of the tree branches. And I need to find Him in it. I need to see Him in it. It’s my prayer, whispered over and over again: Let me see You. I feel as if I am the woman alongside the road, grasping to touch His cloak. My hands are reaching, God. My eyes are straining. It’s a desperation, a grasp, that He’s found even where I least expect Him to be.

Mostly there.

And when I find Him, the robe grasped between my fingers, my sorrow and gratitude mix together. Separate and yet together, light and darkness,


And finally, I breathe, for I know. He is in it. In the trenches beside me, He is there. Although I am surprised by Him, He is not by me. 

And it is in the surprise that joy seeps in. Like my moon, casting shadows, and sending hues to dance across the night sky, so does His presence.

And the darkness is no longer the same. 


Loving with Hellos

We are sitting in the basement. He is on the red steps, and I sit across from him on the old, unsteady bed. The air is damp, as basements usually are, and we are opening hearts and questions and unknowns. I ask him the hard questions – I am a lover of hard questions – even if, in a way, I fear his answers won’t be what I hope. But it’s his heart, and I love his heart. Even if his answers, his questions, his dreams are different than the ones I hold deep and close to me.

“Ang,” he says to me, a lifetime of stories and heartaches and shared DNA laced in his words, “no matter where we are at in our journey, I will always love you. I want you to know that.”

I’ve been thinking about love lately. Not the romantic kind, but the human kind. And I’m thinking how we live in a world of goodbyes. We live in a world where doors shut and stories end and people walk away.

But we need the kind of love that stays. We need the kind of love that says hello, not goodbye, over and over and over again.

It’s so easy to leave. It’s too easy to say goodbye. When dreams don’t mesh, when we don’t see the same way it’s too easy to start something new.

But I think sometimes it’s better to stay. It’s better to promise a hello, over and over again. It’s what Jesus does: He keeps loving, keeps staying, keeps giving new mercies each morning.

Brand new hellos.

I want to love in hellos. An eternity of them. I want to be the stayer, the greeter, the one that remains. I want to be the one that doesn’t write the ending of chapters lightly; the one that keeps the pen nearby for the next page. I want to be the hoper, the journey-er, the one that promises on red scratchy basement steps, “I promise to be there. I promise to keep loving. I promise that we might not be on the same page, and we might not see eye to eye. We might be heartbroken but we’ll be heartbroken together and we’ll keep loving. We’ll keep staying. We’ll keep saying hello.”

We’ll keep saying hello.

Even This.

You’re breaking my heart these days.

It’s being broken in the seasons ending and the goodbyes … spoken and unspoken.

It’s being broken in the offering of my plans, my hopes, my dreams … in exchange for yours.

I don’t know quite what to do with these broken pieces of my heart. I find them scattered on the floor of the dark room in the light of a yellow candle as my tears hit the counter. I find them in the stammering of broken answers in a hot car, and the painful gait of my sweet friend. I find them in the silence … made ever the more silent after loudness is present.

But sometimes … in these broken pieces … I am sensing your Peace. And even in the pain, and the chapters ending, I am just wondering if we need to be broken sometimes so there are cracks to let you in. I am wondering if we need the hard conversations to let You slip in Your answers. And in the losses I am wondering if mostly they are there to remind us that You are the only One that stays and that makes us whole. No family … no person … no relationship. Just you.

I can’t make much sense of the brokenness but I can keep whispering that we are broken to be made whole to be broken again. That in the brokenness our hearts are softened … the cracks let in the light and you redeem even this. Even this. Even this.

Seeing It As It Is

I looked through my journals, searching for the story I was sure I had tucked away somewhere. It had come to me on the bus, an image of his hat of all things. And so I had set out to write the story down: of the taste of the cafe au lait, of his French, of his story – to find some sort of beauty in the story of falling for an unhappily married stranger.

Because that’s what I long for, to find beauty in brokenness.

But today I just can’t bear to write those words. I can’t even describe to you watching him as I left, or the feeling of guilt rising in the pit of my stomach. We may not have even touched in that hour, but my heart had surely gone places it never should have.

Nothing will make that image pretty.

And I realized,

I don’t want it to be.

Because it’s not. Continue reading “Seeing It As It Is”

Find that person.

It was a late afternoon. The smell of fresh coffee lingered in the air, and I lingered in the doorway with it. I made small talk as I am apt to do when stalling; and although I knew in her eyes she knew what I was doing, I did it anyways. When my words finally ran out, I finally crossed the room, sinking into the sofa across from her.

“So how are you?” she asks me in her quiet way. Her words are an invitation to me; they are the warm, safe blanket I am seeking. Before I even answer her, I can feel the tears brimming in my eyes and I fight the urge to look away from her. “Not good,” I reply, and my voice cracks.

“I know you aren’t,” she says softly, her face reflective of the tears that have appeared in my eyes. There’s a moment of silence but the silence is anything but quiet. It’s proclaiming the grace I am desperately seeking; it’s showing me the heart I have been searching for just to simply listen.

I was searching for someone to hold my brokenness in their hands and to not allow me to stay that way, but to hold my hand as I step forward. To allow me to share the dark parts of me; to confess the sins I hide deep in my heart. But even more than that, I was searching for someone to love me in spite of my darkness.

And although I know Christ loves us that way, He also calls us to love one another in that manner. And sometimes finding someone who loves in the gracious way He does is hard.

But, on that afternoon with the smell of coffee in the air, I found it. I experienced grace. What a beautiful thing, because although admitting how we fall seems like such a failure, what Jesus does through grace is transform it into a sign of redemption.

I say all of this to say,

find that person. 

Seek out that person who will love like Christ does, and confess your sins. Unconfessed sins are a powerful tool in the hands of the Enemy. He uses them against us. But confessed sins are a powerful tool in the hands of the Lord, because He uses them for testimonies.

Find that space. Find the space in which you can be known, the dark, gritty, ugly parts and all.

Because when grace invades those ugly parts? God uses even that to bring Him glory.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

Just a Little More Grace

The other day I got a text from a friend:

“So, any new year’s resolutions?” 

I thought about it for a moment. The freshness of a new year brings new hope, new encouragement, the blessing that your actions will be fruitful if you just put your mind to it. The past year, the slate listed with failures is wiped clean, and the new year promises steps forward and no stepping back. It’s the perfect opportunity to dream. To resolve.

But for me, I’ve learned not to mark the beginning of a new year with ways to change because I want my life to be one where I’m always changing, always challenging myself, and always growing.

So instead I choose my word. I choose a word that sums up what I want to learn this year and how I want to grow. Last year my word was wait, and without a doubt 2012 was a year of waiting. Sometimes painful waiting. But I learned patience, and I learned trusting in the waiting {but even then it will probably be a lesson I learn again and again through this life}.

This year my word is grace. Because it’s in His grace that I am made new, and it’s through His grace that I experience His love. It’s in the grace that has been offered to me by His Church that I found the freedom to offer grace to myself. And I’ve been wondering what my life would be like if it was marked by the kind of grace that He offers me. 

What if I turned the other cheek more often than nought?

What if I offered forgiveness when it was least deserved, when it hurt so much to offer that grace that it made me cry?

What if I, in grace, held my mouth closed and only offered words of conviction when the Spirit led?

Grace. I’m learning that grace reflects Him, because we live in a world where grace isn’t offered very much. We choose to give what’s deserved. We chase after the one that’s wronged us. And I just wonder what this life might be like if we all gave – and received – a little more grace.

So that’s my word. Here’s to a beautiful 2013, filled with challenges and laughter and tears and grace.

{Linked up to the OneWord community here.}