Sunday, October 22, 2017

Day 22... Grace Still Happens


Let the light within
shine without
------------------------------------- 
"What We Needed"
(originally posted 10/20/15)

He (became) what we needed

an eternal Father
became
an only begotten Son

not another
but the same wrapped in flesh

for there is only One God

We needed to be renewed as sons
so He (became) a Son

We needed peace
so He (became) the Prince of Peace

We were in darkness
so He brought us light

and everyday
He (becomes) what we need

(while having always been that)
as He takes our

temporary pain and suffering
and juxtaposes it against His

Eternal weight of glory

allowing us to

look upon Him
look to Him
look for Him

with gratitude

while waiting for Him

to translate our temporary moment
into His eternal one

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Day 21... Grace Still Happens


While you are traveling along life's busy way
please also remember to

take time

to 

give thought
give thanks
give praise

for the journey
--------------------------------
"Giving Thanks for the Path"
(originally posted 09/02/16)

I had five minutes on a Friday...

(but I only needed one)

to thank God for

His love
His peace
His power

and the daily grace

He gives...

as I travel along this path

Friday, October 20, 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Day 19... Grace Still Happens

His

big
brave
boldness

gives me permission
to be the same

(while also acknowledging)

I don't have to be
-----------------------------
"When Life Hurts"
(originally posted 12/18/12)

I don't usually read the morning paper, but today's front page headlines caught my attention
 
It read: "Burials begin in Connecticut"

I looked down at a picture of a hearse carrying the body of a 6-year old child and my heart sank  I blinked hard to stop the tears that I felt tears forming in the corners of my eyes

I couldn't cry there.

I turned the paper over as if not seeing it would make it less real,
and was shocked by what was printed directly on the back side of the tragedy

Bold, brightly colored advertisements for

toys on sale
Christmas gift suggestions
pictures of more stuff to buy

(as if what we really need right now is more stuff)

The message rang out loud and clear that sometimes life is...

contradictory
confusing
cruel

Sometimes life hurts

In fact, just yesterday I was thinking about the 5 year-old girl in this picture

remembering the...
 
fear
uncertainty
unspoken pain

she felt as her mother lay sick in the hospital... on this picture day

It's like a tragic headline with colorful ads on the back

"Smile for the camera, sweetie"

But who wants to smile when life hurts?

She eventually managed this forced little smile to disguise the fact
that she had already learned that even children are sometimes left feeling...

helpless
sad and
alone

I understand it all better now

and wish that I could sit down with her

pull her up onto my lap
hold her close
and just let her cry...

I would apologize for not giving her the opportunity to grieve that experience;
for minimizing her pain and lying to her that she was alright. 

I would apologize for teaching her to wear a mask,
and making her pretend to be brave when she was only a child.

If I had it to do all over I would let her cry

and after her tears subsided I would pull her in really tight and quietly whisper

Now let me tell you who to call the next time...

when life hurts

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Day 18...Grace Still Happens


share love
share life
share liberty

and don't deny anyone their share
------------------------------------
"Edit View Share Delete"
(originally posted 3/12/16)

It was an early Saturday morning...

and the options were laid out before me

edit
view
share
delete

edit
view
share
delete

and I stopped to remember a conversation
that I had recently had with the children about

how to edit
what you view
when to share

and

what to delete

Because we are all...

choosing
deciding
learning
growing

each day with
each experience

what to...

edit
view
share
delete

and we don't always get it right

But for grace...


and how God

viewed my situation
shared His Son, so He could
delete my sins, and
edit my life

and now I am

humbled
grateful
prayerful

to be the one who

He can continue to...

share 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day 17... Grace Still Happens


Today's choice is a lesson
Today's lesson is a choice

for you can either

look down
fall down
stay down

or...

get up
listen up
grow up
--------------------------------------
"Home is With You"
(originally posted 10/5/15)

We loaded onto a bus
the bus loaded onto a ferry

and took us across to the other side

where we spent the day together

eating
experiencing
exploring

things that none of us had ever seen before

we were in an entirely new place

and when we returned to the hotel one of the children plopped down on the bed and said
"it feels so good to be home"

Only thing is...
we weren't

we were in a hotel
in another country
1275 miles from

our house
our home

But...
the more we grow together
the more we fall in love
the older we watch them become

the clearer it becomes that

home is wherever I am...

with you

Monday, October 16, 2017

Day 16... Grace Still Happens


there is often more than one way to read this...
---------------------------------------
"Upside Down Faith"
(originally posted 3/18/16)

The nurse came to draw blood as she lay in the hospital ER and

I couldn't help but notice
a tattoo on his right forearm that read...

DEATH
(upside down)

Why sir, would a nurse have a tattoo that says death?

and then...

an hour later when he came back

I looked again
trying to make sense of it all

and it appeared that the tattoo actually read...

FAITH
(upside down)

and I blinked...
hard...
again...

because we had been there all night
so I wasn't exactly sure what I was really seeing

and by the next morning...

we were transferred so I didn't see him again to ask

why...
or how...

he managed to have a tattoo that read

death or faith
(or whatever it said)

but I thank God...

that even when our experience

is confusing
and scary
and uncertain

we are certain

that Jesus has conquered death
(literally turning it upside down)

so that no matter what we have had to face

yesterday
today
tomorrow

it all still just reads...

FAITH

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Day 15... Grace Still Happens


years of experience

led to her mastery of illusion
so that she can now

remain hidden
while remaining

in plain sight
----------------------------------------------
"Hide Me"
(originally posted 7/20/13)

Watching my son and his younger cousin play "hide and seek" this morning was hilarious
(click here for a snippet of "Hide Me")

The younger...
(who has yet to understand the concept of the game)

could not stay put long enough to conceal his hiding place

while the elder...
(played along, pretending to be surprised, upon "finding" the restless younger)

I could hear them roaming throughout the house, and when they found their way into my room

I tried to help...
wanted to help...

the younger learn how to find and keep his position a secret from the seeker

But I realized a lesson like that only comes with

time
patient practice
experience

And that it is two lessons really...

Learning to find a valid hiding space
Learning to remain quiet while in that space

It is impossible to teach 37 years worth of hiding knowledge to a 3-year old in a moment
but if he only knew...

that there is a perfect hiding place

My first trip to "The Grand Canyon"

a place within a place...

that can be hidden inside of

a word
a song
a moment of quiet reflection

And I'm glad that I've found that place

a place in plain view
where I can remain hidden

while learning to be

still
quiet
in the moment

not anticipating

which direction He will show up
which direction He will take me next,

but just learning to

go with the flow
relax, enjoy, and hide

in the beauty of His presence

Psalm 91

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Day 14... Grace Still Happens

One day you may decide to...

wake up
shake up
lace up

and try
something new
--------------------------------------------
Junior High? No Sweat!
(originally posted 1/10/14)

My coworker and I sat talking yesterday
about how long it takes the average person to run a mile and

I had to laugh out loud as

I remembered
and shared

just how long it used to take me...


Curtiss Middle School
1991
9th grade


            
and although I wasn't the

cutest
or
the most popular

kid in school

I did alright...

got decent grades
had cool friends
received a small college scholarship

and even somehow managed to get nominated and elected
as Student Body President

I did alright in everything except...

Third period P.E

Because we were forced to run the timed mile, and I absolutely HATED the mile while
my gym teacher absolutely LOVED to yell out across the field

"TONDRALAH!  Hurry up... everyone else is FINISHED!"

(and to this day I'm still not sure why that man called me "Tondralah")

but even if he had gotten my name correct,
it wouldn't have mattered because

I had already decided
not to

run
sweat or
mess up my hair

No sir
No thank you

so much to his dismay

each week
I came in
dead last

taking my time because

I had already decided to

walk it
just take the 'Fail' and
exert the least amount of energy as possible while still completing the assignment

I had purposed in my heart to be an under achiever and I was okay with that

yesterday...

Well today, as I thought about it
the implications of having that mindset finally hit me
as I realized that my actions were actually

saying something
telling something

about that girl

Because I mean really, who wants to be that girl?

The one who comes in last place
each time...
every time...

And now I

know...
realize...

that when you pre-determine in your heart
(either willfully or unconsciously)

not to try
not to strive
not to sweat

you've already pre-determined in your heart
to fail

every time

Friday, October 13, 2017

Day 13... Grace Still Happens (The Unopened Invitation)

"We missed you at the baby shower last week"
(and my facial response must have said it all)



"Wait, didn't you get the invite?"

as we both knew what must have happened...

her hubby
my hubby
his Bible

(where the envelope still sat unopened)

So I asked him later...

"Was there something you were supposed to give me?"

immediately refreshing
his memory

and

prompting
his apology

and I couldn't help but think about how

this Gospel has been handed to us
wrapped neatly and tucked between the pages of our Bibles

but unless

we are responsible
we remember
we open and share

the information inside

others will be left

still sitting
home alone
never realizing

they received the invite

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Day 12... Grace Still Happens


It will take more than
the stroke of the pen

to ever

write
wrongs
right
-----------------------------------------------
"It's All in How You Write it"
(originally posted 10/06/15)

It's all in how you write it...

Someone asked me to look at the word impossible
and when I did, I saw it

Impossible
I'm possible

same letters
same order

different positioning
different meaning

punctuation added

and I love how when I hand God my impossible

He takes those same letters
(repositions them without disturbing the natural order)

changes the meaning
then adds His punctuation

because with God all things are possible

period.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Day 11... Grace Still Happens


remember
recall
recollect
retell
relive
relish
revel in

every one of the moments you've been given
----------------------------------------------
"Thanking God for All of That... and a Bag of Chips"
(originally posted 07/10/13)

Eleven years ago today, my son was born

healthy
happy
whole

We marveled that he didn't cry at birth. My mother worried, but the doctor told her...

"He doesn't need to cry, he needs to breathe... and he's breathing"

my husband
his father
God's man

took our tightly swaddled bundle of joy to the side of the room and whispered into his ear

Later I asked him "what did you say to the baby?"

It was...

"Hear the conclusion of the whole matter.  Fear God,
and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man"

That was eleven years ago today...

This morning I overslept and woke to that same child's lips pressing against my cheek.  My eyes opened and a broad smile spread across his face as he said "congratulations, you have a son."

Later in the car I listened as he and his little sister took a trip back down memory lane

"I remember when..."
"And then we..."
"Oh yeah, and what about when..."

And as I listened I couldn't help but smile as I noted that all of the things they were referencing were

experiences
moments
times

we have shared together as a family

My kids weren't talking about

stuff
toys
material gains

they were sharing memories

"Remember when we went to the snow for Christmas?" 



"Yeah, my favorite part was when we went in the cabin
and had hot cocoa, marshmallows... and a bag of chips"

I smiled at the details they remembered from a trip that we took over 4 years ago
I smiled, grateful for the memories, the lessons in life and love

and I thanked God that

my life
my experience
my gratitude really is for all of that...

and a bag of chips!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Day 10... Grace Still Happens


We are constantly going in circles...

the question
the answer
the test
the lesson

we pass
we fail
we try again
we learn

we grow as we live
we learn as we grow

and if

the first question is...
do you hear the lesson?

the next question is...
do you listen?
-----------------------------------------------
"Remembering 1990... with Vision of Love"
(originally posted 02/12/16)

There is a lot of meaning to this song, so bear with me...

When I began posting

a song
a week

in anticipation of my 40th birthday I had no idea on which weeks the songs would fall
(but when you live a life of gratitude and grace)

it seems that things are

always "falling into place"
in the most beautiful kinds of ways

always pointing us back to Him
and why we are so blessed in the first place

(rewind)

It was the Summer of 1990...

and I was shopping in a department store
with my Aunt Brenetta at a mall in Mobile, Alabama

She was buying me a dress for my 14th birthday and when the song came on
we both stopped and looked up at the music video playing on the monitor above

"I had a vision of love..."

Mariah sang on the mic
with so much

meaning
soul
passion

that I purchased the single (on cassette) to listen to (on my Walkman)
that very same day

(pause)

(Wanna feel your age? Start talking about something from your youth)
my kids do not know cassette or Walkman

(play)

"I had a vision of love..."

and as my Aunt Brenetta and I sat talking earlier last year
I was telling her about a Woman's Retreat that I attended in Big Bear, CA

the Autumn of 1998...

when our conference theme had been "love"

and our First Lady shared with us what love really means
and so, I called Winston (from the pay phone) to tell him that

"I had a vision of love..."

(repeat)

"I had a vision of love..."

(fast forward)

and now we have our own Moriah (with a Mic)...
Micah and Moriah, 2007

and

I understand why
this song

managed to fall exactly

on this week
on this day
on our Wedding Anniversary

in 2016...

so

(press play)

because...

"I had a vision of love, and it was all that you've given to me
I had a vision of love, and it was all that you turned out to be"

Monday, October 9, 2017

Day 9... Grace Still Happens


Those who plan without the help of the Spirit
must plan again -African Proverb
--------------------------------------------------
"On the Quest to Cure Boredom"
(originally posted 6/22/15)

I honestly had no idea that some of you were waiting for this

until I realized
that I kept getting the same question

again and again...

"What are the kids up to this summer?"


Because last year we had fun with our summer lessons as the children successfully

created
launched
sustained

a summer business

Color*full Creations
creating a life full of color

But when our house flooded late last summer...

we lost a lot
gained a lot
purged a lot

and my "Ten weeks to better business" plan
was one of the things misplaced during the shuffle

and since I have not had the time (nor the energy)

to re-create that entire process
the kids didn't want to continue making bracelets
and I wasn't going to force them

I decided to just let them have a "free range" summer

Then...

when my mother texted me one day to let me know that

the neighborhood power was out
the children were bored
and were complaining of

"nothing to do"

I was...

shocked
astonished
appalled

because I honestly cannot remember the last time that I was bored

(and since school had only been out for one week)

I realized my children were going to need "some things" to do

some structure
some form

So this summer...

I'm sending my children out on a quest to "cure" boredom!

Up first? 

I released them into the library!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Day 8... Grace Still Happens


Everyone loves a good cliff hanger...

the drama
the suspense
the reveal
the reaction

shock
disbelief

rejoicing
reassurance

(the revelation of truth is a beautiful experience)

to those who believe
and know

the best cliff hanger

Christ
cross
Calvary

drama
suspense
revealed
action

sorrow
belief

rejoicing
reassurance

for everyone
who loves a good cliff hanger
---------------------------------------------------
"Crash into Christ"
(originally posted 10/25/15)

I can hardly stand to watch anymore
all you hear is...

cash
clash
crash

turmoil
war and
desperation

everywhere

People we suspect are unhappy
proving us right

People we expect to be happy
proving us wrong

and the media carefully packaging it up and delivering it to us daily

willingly
playing us

the same report

of...

cash
clash
crash

So I put down the remote
because I can hardly stand to watch anymore

I know the truth

and instead close my eyes

collapse
clasp
grasp

onto Him

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Day 7... Grace Still Happens


I'm trying to figure out how

to hold on
and let go

at the same time

(and I realize that is the greatest paradox yet)

the holding on...
the letting go...

(because the truth of the matter is)

I will never let go of you
I could never let go

but we are clearly
in a different part of the journey now

so

I promise to let go (a little)
if you promise to hold on (a lot)
--------------------------------------------------------
"Today I Held a Baby"
(originally posted 5/18/16)

Today I held a baby...
sweet
small
precious

the newest member of our family

and as I noticed him

his status
his stature
his frame

I silently noted to myself...

This is love

And it had been on another day

(just like this one)

when I had pulled into the parking lot of a college campus
only to realize that I had no idea where I was going

But rather than humble myself to ask for help, I tried to avoid appearing too

vulnerable
desperate
lost and confused

(which ironically enough, is all the things that I was)

But there is just something about Him...

and the way that He

helps
holds
handles

us

even when we are

too small
too scared
too stubborn

to just stop and ask for help...

He sends it anyway

a familiar face appearing in the crowd to lead the way to our destination

(which would never have been found, being on the wrong side of campus and all)

And today as I held a baby...

sweet
small
precious

the newest member of our family

I remembered that to Him, I'm also family...

sweet
small
precious

and He carefully notices

my status
my stature
my frame

because

this is love...

He is love

and so today as I held and noticed a baby
I thanked God for the many ways

He continues to hold
and notice

me

Friday, October 6, 2017

Day 6... Grace Still Happens

You have a story to tell?
You do
I'm sure you do

and someone would love to hear it
your story

short
sweet

long
lengthy

funny
thought provoking

you have a story

and you want to share it
and someone wants to hear it

needs to hear it

it's why we crave

intimacy
interaction
connection

because we have stories
that we are ready to tell

in fact
the very reason you decided to read this today

is not because I have a story to tell
but because

you do

Share your story...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Day 5... Grace Still Happens

We sat talking, and in her words, were a lesson...

fear
fills
voids

she simply stated

and my mind drifted off as I thought about

that truth
and the irony

of how

fear fills
yet leaves you feeling empty

and finally the antidote...

trust
trumps
fear

(not to be confused with trust Trump's fear)


because at the end of the day we must each be

aware
accountable
acknowledging

of exactly how we are being

fueled
fed
filled
----------------------------------------------------

Trick Or Treat? 
Teaching My Children About Choices
(originally posted 11/3/14)

I was surprised when my twelve-year old asked to go "trick or treating"

with his friends...
at night...
without me...

and when he returned
two hours later with a bag full of loot

my jaw dropped

and THEN...

moments later when he called me into the kitchen
to show me how he had meticulously

separated the candy
into piles
by flavor and brand

I must say that I was actually impressed!

and as I looked at

all of those piles
all of those options

the realization hit me

My kid is a young man

and he is already cultivating

skills
dreams
ideas

of his own

and at some point

I am going to have to completely let go and trust
that I have done my job as his mother
to equip him with good decision making skills

because the day is coming
(and is now upon us)

when he will venture out

with his friends
at night

without me

and as he walks through this life
he will encounter people

who wish to fill his bag with all sorts of things

some tricks
some treats
some things

that he will find useful
and others that he will not

And so my prayer...

is that he avoid as many tricks as humanly possible

that he be brave enough to unwrap and try some things
and wise enough to leave others alone

I pray he knows the difference and
doesn't try to eat everything all in one night

I pray his decisions steer him clear of stomach aches and cavities

and may he always remember to separate the items
to get a better view of the options laid out before him

Lord,

one day he will venture out
without me

and I want to

trust

believe
know

that I have prepared him with the skills he needs to make

good
wise
prayerful

decisions with the choices laid out before him...

Choose wisely, son
Choose wisely

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Day 4... Grace Still Happens


I hope you dance
I hope you sing out loudly
I hope you remember the lyrics
I hope you know the melody

I hope you write the song
I hope you share it with others
I hope you win
I know you will
----------------------------------------
"I Hope You Dance"
(originally posted 4/23/16)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Day 3... Grace Still Happens

Taking an inward look to ask...


Do I create drama?
or make peace?

Am I a part of the problem?
or part of the solution?

Do I
talk about it? 
write about it?
read about it?

more than I pray about?

What have I done TODAY to make a difference?
---------------------------------------------------------
"One Hundred Days of Grace" 
(originally posted 7/16/16)

There is drama all around us
(when what we want is peace)

but I've spent the past 100 days

searching
noticing
honoring

the grace that surrounds me everyday
(because it's easy to find the drama)

But when what you want is peace

you have to open your eyes to find that it's right there too

because

the only drama
the only peace

we will ever have...

is only that which we create



One Hundred Days of Grace
tondra_denise

Monday, October 2, 2017

Day 2- Grace Still Happens


Can you see?
Can you tell?
God is here
All is well

Everlasting Father
Begotten Son
Holy Spirit
All are one
----------------------------------------------------
"A Wizard of Oz" Inspired Halloween
(originally posted 10/31/14)

I've heard it said that...

"If you want to make God laugh, then tell Him your plans"


We had so much fun last Halloween when we hosted our "Fear is not a Factor" party
that all year long the kids and I have been

planning
preparing
promising

to host another fun gathering this Halloween!

Well today is supposed to be that day,
and I've since learned that if you wanna make God laugh... 

then tell Him your plans

What had been our plan all year?
To host a movie-themed party

What movie was our theme based on?
"The Wiz" (with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson)

(but some things got in the way of our planning and we decided to hold off on a party)

and the irony

of that didn't even hit me until yesterday as I was explaining to a coworker

what our plan had been,
and why we were cancelling the plan

and when she laughed and pointed out that we had just lived the movie
by experiencing our own "we're not in Kansas anymore" moment

I remembered the saying...

Wanna make God laugh?
tell Him your plans

And although we still "plan" to host our "Wizard of Oz" party someday
we know that it won't be today

So for now we'll just...

pop some corn
cuddle up together on our new couch
watch the movie

while simply enjoying the certain fact that...

"There's no place like home"