About Me

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Blue Ridge Area of Virginia
Alicha McHugh is author of "Daughter of the Promise" first in her: Numbered Among the Stars series (available on Amazon.com). She is a homemaker to her husband of 15 years, homeschooler to their children. Writing, enjoying tea and creaming Raw Honey are three of her current pursuits. Grabbing time to read is always high on her list of priorities! If you'd like to contact her, she'd love to hear from you! Just email: alichamchugh@gmail.com

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"While You Were Sleeping" revisited...

I love the song by Casting Crowns, "While You Were Sleeping".

Now, for someone like me, geared towards melancholy, this song addresses an inescapable side to the Savior's coming. It looks back in time to Jesus' birth and forward to his return with the whole reason for his arrival and rejection fixed firmly through-out. It's beautiful, both the words and the music.

However, while reading to Arowyn the way God announced the birth of His Son, I discovered sometimes how we view the arrival of the baby Jesus can be juxtaposed to God's view of his first coming. Our perspective is oft' times wrapped in a garb of regret. Not so with scripture where there is JOY and REJOICING...HOPE and PEACE...GOODWILL towards us.

In the song mentioned (and many modern songs, like "Mary Did You Know?") it seems to me a bitter sweetness has entered our view of our Lord's birth that is not inherent to the telling of his actual coming. Yes, it's in the storyline, like no room for him in the inn and only the shepherds come to see Him the night he was born. And even though the whole sacrificial "Lamb of God" symbolism is overwhelming, magnificent and utterly compelling, it's not the movement we find in focus; it's not the point.

Some may say we feel that way because WE KNOW the outcome of his birth is the reason for his arrival, his death. Well, yeah...God did too, infinitely and vastly more than we ever will or can. And yet there is no sigh, no tears, no sorrow, no "oh poor Jesus born in a manger", in the "cold" which was probably June. Instead the story is charged with anticipation and expectant hope.

I mean...don't we get excited and yearn for a baby to come for 9+ months??...the World had been anticipating the Rescuer of our Souls' birth for millenniums! And here he was! Finally! And what baby's birth should be accompanied by a sigh for the future, least of all our Savior's?
"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."– Luke 2:10-12
Does this mean I'll never listen to these kinds of songs again? NO! I still LOVE this song...But it does mean, for me, when my eyes fill with tears and I know  his love for me, even in my sin, is the reason he came, I will be better able to return the focus of my heart to where it ought to be during this time as in the taking of the Lord's Supper (rabbit trail) On HIM...not me.God's perfect redemptive and wondrous plan, that which he had wanted, planned, foretold and promised took form in a sweet, precious baby
"The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us . We beheld his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." ~Jn 1:14
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Jesse Tree & Uriah the Hittite

Oh Dear Friends!

I have so enjoyed doing "The Jesse Tree" this year. I won't spend too much time telling you what it is, but briefly it's a display created during the Christmas season, following each day of the advent (which I'm still not quite sure what that is ~ I grew up Baptist :). Anyway, every day you are supposed to add an ornament depicting a significant member or event in Jesus' lineage, beginning with creation and ending, of course, with the birth of Christ...usually.

WELL, there are as many variations out there on "Jesse Trees" as various kinds of apples. So, I picked one I was familiar with, having thought long and hard about actually doing one for the past 3 years! That said, Arowyn and I have molded, and painted and created works of art, only a mother could truly appreciate ;)! I have told story after story of the meaning behind each ornament.

However, there is one ornament I'm adding to the Jesse Tree list. Let me explain first...

I used to think Uriah got a bad shake. Think about it. He was one of only 37 "Might Men of Valor" in David's vast army. And what did he get in return? Face value: his wife was stolen by his commander in chief, he carried his own death warrant to his immediate superior officer, his band of brothers left him in the heat of battle (forget the motto, "Never leave a man behind."). They left him on purpose, to cover up the fact that David committed adultery with Uriah's wife and (oops), there's a baby on the way.

Yes, the baby is taken as punishment for their sin and I don't discount that sorrow in the least, but then Bathsheba and David can get married and have another baby and THAT baby becomes God's chosen line for his earthly heritage...Okay, and Uriah is dead, in the ground, forgotten. What in the world? (Stronger language is REALLY merited in the previous sentence, but I haven't the courage to put it!)

At least that's what I thought...until last year as I read the story of the genealogy of Christ, on Joseph's side, in Matthew.  (Get into a habit of reading ALL of God's word...even the "boring" parts. God will honor you for it and will open your mind to see HIM.)
Matthew 1:2 (middle) "David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah,"
My mind exploded with the implications. The established cultural practice, dating back to the time of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar, was: when a man died without offspring, the first surviving male of the wife's next union becomes the preserver of the heritage and lineage of the deceased husband.

The point is...Uriah was not forgotten by God. The Holy Spirit mentions his presence in Matthew, reminding future generations of the part he played in the genealogy of Christ. No one can take that away from him. Not even the inescapable power and decree of a mighty king of Israel.

I used to think if I met up with Uriah in heaven, I'd kinda slide by him, head averted maybe whistle a favorite hymn...What do you say to someone who you think got the short end of the stick? The words, "Wow, I am really sorry." just seem grossly out of place. And if I take it to the furthest point, what I actually thought was Uriah was given the short end of the stick...by God.

Listen up heart!!! He's in the paternal lineage of THE CHRIST! The One that should come! And he submitted to the events that unfolded...Oh how I NEED a reminder of that! My heart full of pride rising up at every perceived or actual wrong! They are not for ME to avenge, to set to right, give a good piece of my mind to! God knows, GOD sees...HE is the great Leveler that sweeps his hand over situations, bringing about true peace and harmony, giving eternal compensation for actual wrongs.

Trust...Yield...Wait...He WILL set things to "right"!

Now, armed with a better understanding of who my God is, and how he works (thanks to Him be given) I realize, Uriah is not a "Grumpy Gus" sitting in a corner of heaven while David and Bathsheba dance with their lost son and Solomon in a circle of love...He's dancing with them, saying, "It's all good!" Because God made it ALL GOOD!

Another thing...God did not compensate Uriah by taking a baby. That was between Him and the baby's parents...He compensated Uriah by a very personal application of an old custom, with paternal claims on a future proclamation, "Unto you a child is born, Unto you a Son is given."

What a joy to believe! What a joy to write of this my GREAT GOD, LORD and SAVIOR!

So, in light of all this, I've added another ornament to our Jesse Tree, full of ornaments that represent as much the path of faith as those in the lineage of Christ. Therefore, there is a small sword on our tree, in memory of the 37th "Mighty Man of Valor" mentioned by King David himself in his last words on "Uriah, the Hittite".

Friday, December 16, 2011

Red at Christmas...

I used to hate the color "red" normally associated with Christmas. I don't mean dislike or prefer another color...I mean out and out HATE the red most readily found in this festive season. It broadcast to me the sad existence of the tacky and kitchy side of "Merry Christmas". I mean really, you need look no further than our modern day "Santa" to wonder why.

That bright, in-your-face hue reminds me of thick, puffy vinyl ribbon, fuzzy on one side, slick on the other, invoking a sense of phony festivity...almost like those 70's costumes. I'm sorry, but a plastic mask of Tinker Bell doesn't make you look any more like the green winged fairy than a fancy bow on a new vacuum cleaner makes it look like a maid. (analogy in progress :)

But this year, I cast aside my aversion with barely a raised brow. Decorating began with some shiny red and gold ornaments my husband found last year in a Pier 1 dumpster (our favorite place to pick up items for only the gas it costs us in between striking out and striking it big searching in the back alleyways of our local strip malls! I used to be ashamed...until I realized God was decorating my house...and he did pretty good with creation (hyperbole in case you didn't catch it :), so I'm okay with Rick diving in, feet sticking out, waving a hand for me to get out of the car and help!)

Now red, by the very nature of it's crisp, bold essence, should only be used as an accent. (can I reference creation again?) Despite my aversion, I've seen it beautifully crowded in by white and natural decorations of all kinds, from baking ornaments to candy wrapping to animal treats (pet shop of course). So, I choose this year to use its presence to allow me to simplify my trimming the tree approach . Thanks to said approach, I let go of the elaborate ribbons and frustrating fake snow I spent hours in previous years trying to achieve a look that was "just so".

The result? I've learned to embrace the red in my decorating. It no longer represents something garish and tacky, but inviting and warm. It represents something more too. Change. Hope. Love. Submission. The power found in submitting to a designed and greater, more perfect will than my own...

You see, many times we find broken pieces in our beloved dumpster of choice. Shattered, would-have-been treasures that have fallen (sometimes literally) victim to either a careless turn in a tight space, or an unrestrained child whose mother really should have known better before entering the store.~I speak from experience~ But this set of red and gold ornaments was in perfect condition, other than its clear plastic container which could no longer hold them perfectly together.

My first instinct? Toss 'em . Get rid of them when Rick's not looking. Really, do you think he'd remember? Probably not.

Second instinct? Sell 'em. Rick wouldn't mind that...

But almost a year as passed since "the find". A year where so much has happened, and so much hasn't happened.

My biological father is no longer a shadowed figure, fighting with my mommy through the screened porch, his ginormous Afro haloed in the sunshine behind him. He has a face, tanned and wrinkled, and lips I'd guessed at because mine are so very different from my mother's.

I've been stretched these past 12 months in ways I've not appreciated initially. Physically, this once friend proclaimed "midget barbie doll" of a frame sees evidence of "the fall" every time I get out of bed. Mentally, I've learned along side Arowyn Latin, skip counting, American history and so much more that I never had any interest in before. Spiritually, I look at Philippians with a whole new perspective and weep every time I read it. Career wise, that three book contract I just knew would come ~ and in all fairness a certain big publisher made it seem likely~  make all my hopes and expectations come true ~ well, even though there's still some wood in the fire ~ I'm not pinning the validation for my existence on it anymore.

And then there's my family...they have suffered loss, trial after trial this past year. Begging the question..."WHAT are you doing, LORD?" The returning answer, "Wait for it."...

Yes, there has been change...in me and the world around me. Red seems to suit the change. God knew that last year. I'm glad I let Him be God in this, and just went with it. Because by centering on this one tiny, altered view of a primary color, my imagination warms to wonder at possibilities beyond my timid acceptance of a hue previously thought detestable...I LIKE that!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can Christians like...Santa?

Yesterday, Arowyn and I watched Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas, A Story of Giving. I'm not a big fan of Veggie Tales...but the movie was absolutely wonderful! They didn't even go into if Santa is really real or not...they simply side stepped it to bring to light the true story behind Santa Claus. I learned a lot from it!

Anyway, it reminded me of this email (posted below) I sent out to friends and family a few years ago, before I realized mini booklets of your thoughts, feelings and beliefs like this belong on a blog, not your poor friend's Inbox!  lol....


I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday. I was looking for a book on "St. Nicholas". I found tens of books on how to " . . .Really Believe In Santa Claus" and "Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Santa" but not one child's book even touched upon the man, Nicholas. Actually, sitting here writing this, I realize how counter productive it would be to have a book on Nicholas out there if you're trying to get a kid to believe in Santa . . .

This got me thinking.

So, I thought I'd share with you my experience this Christmas season.

To all you moms who have already dealt with the giant elf and been victorious - I know you will read and rejoice with me as another milestone rolls down the mountain, and for those who have this future battle to wage, here's an alternative view to the all or nothing mentality I fought for so long! Enjoy - I even put a pun in here somewhere. . .

I entered this season girding myself for the whole 'Santa Claus' issue that millions of Believers battle during this time of year. You all know the questions that swirl around in your head ~ Do I go along? Isn't it just a nice form of make-believe? What if I take the hard nose stand of "Santa doesn't exist, but Jesus does!" What if my child tells another child that does believe in Santa! Should I feel sorry they told the truth? Should I feel superior because I didn't throw my hat on the sleigh and say "HO! HO! HO!?

ON and ON it goes.

But now, I can finally say I've made my peace with that big bearded man in the fuzzy red and white PJ's! And though I will not plaster his picture on the wall or bake cookies and leave out milk for his fictional midnight visit, I no longer resent his presence in the mall or feel the need to give a doxology to little old ladies kindly asking Arowyn if she's "been a good girl" and "are you ready for Santa Claus?" (Ready for that pun?) God answered this concern in the "Nick of time!" as Arowyn just turned 3 and this is the first year she's starting to understand and remember things. Isn't God awesome!?!

But first, I'd like to show the process by which I came to my way of explaining Santa Claus to Arowyn. This past year I discovered in my research of Ancient Egypt a fascinating man named Sinhue. He is the author of "The Tale of Sinhue" which is, as far as significance goes, a literary equivalent to our Beowulf. Both stories are the earliest writings found of two different cultures which have survived til modern times. That is where the similarities end. The Tale, written two and a half millennium prior to Beowulf, is based upon actual events in Sinhue's life, and it's writing style, use of prose/poetry are said to rival our very own Shakespeare.

What does this have to do with Santa Claus? I was hoping you'd ask!

At the time I stumbled over Sinhue, I was in a pensive mood and I couldn't help but wonder, why in the world did God let this man's simple tale survive? Sure, it's well written, but as far a plots go, it's pretty streamlined and uncomplicated. So I looked deeper and though I won't share the specifics, I found Dates/Events/Regional and Tribal References along with Sinhue's adopted monotheistic beliefs in a polytheistic world all build a convincing argument (which I've used in my writing) that he may have been married to Dinah, Jacob's only daughter.

You will not find this hypothesis anywhere. Mainly because, you'd have to be researching Jacob/Dinah and Sinhue at the same time but even if an Egyptian did come to this conclusion, many Egyptians have such a contempt for Israel, they'd dismiss the idea as ludicrous on the spot.

Moving right along . . . All over Scripture, especially in the OT, God reminds us of our own mortality while declaring his intention to establish the Righteous and their deeds upon the earth. . . for generations. Now, in truth, most of what I'm about to conjecture concerning Sinhue's beliefs are not definitive. That said, my gut feeling, based on his journey, testimony and the reigning historical integrity of his manuscript, I believe he trusted the God of Israel to accomplish what He said he would do. And God honored him for it, just as He said he would.

With this year's exciting discovery in mind, I couldn't help but notice/look for the similarities with Santa Claus, whose real name is of course, Nicholas. He too has endured through the centuries, nearly 2 millennium, though all we really know of him is: he lived in the region of what is now Turkey/Greece, was very rich, that the fathomless gift of Christ moved him to give away his money in various forms of dowries and both material and edible goodies. Thus his selfless gift giving inspired the evolved, modern day Santa.

And though little by little the memory and 'inspiration' of a man called Nicholas is erased, the facts remain; Jesus lets him share a day the whole world has set aside to give gifts and to be joyful, even though millions don't understand why. He is a man who gave all he had not because he was good, but because God was so good to give him/us "Jesus Christ, the only name give under heaven, whereby we must be saved!"  {I LOVE the phrase in VT where they say, "We don't give so we can be happy, we give because we ARE happy. " The song on there about it is adorable too!}

Arowyn knows "Santa Claus" is a nickname; so, it is the name 'Nicholas' that she shouts with excitement when she sees a red and white suit, and though I would be naive to believe it will always be that way, the line which follows will remain the same "And he looooovvvvvveeeeddddd Jesus soooooo much!"

Rejoice friends! Whether a nation or the world or God alone knows them, our words and deeds as the children of God are eternal . . . and He is a debtor to no man!

Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can Christians like 'Twilight'...still?

In honor of the sequel soon to be released Nov. 15th, I thought I'd repost (with some add-ins) one of my very first blog entries. I've also included the address below of the follow-up post "Clarification on 'Can Christians like Twilight?'." Enjoy!

I grew up in a depressed little seaside town in NJ. What else was there to do on a Saturday afternoon, when all the cartoons were over and the matinees have begun. Watch a vampire moviefest, full of every element from a child's storybook, only on steroids. The damsel, beautiful and well endowed, the hero, handsome and...well endowed? The villain,well that's the only difference...he just couldn't help how much he wanted the damsel in distress. Today we call that stalking...in books, it's romantic. Weird but true.

Fast forward 20+ years (that's all I'm giving), I'm a respectable member of society, a wife, a mother and Christ follower...and a closet lover of the Twilight series. So, sad...but is it?

Last weekend, while I was getting my hair done (wonderful treat from my too kind hubby) I was re-reading Twilight when I was jostled by a fellow fan, complete with foils and a familiar red hue to her two eyebrows (she'd just gotten them waxed)!

"I KNOW what you're reading!!!" Her excitement contagious, I began foaming my praise out with her, sounding rather like a couple of rapid animals (I refuse to say 'dogs' here).

She went to get a cigarette out of her purse - proof that waxing is not fun- and turned to leave, but I had to say just one more thing about the books...

"It's not a vampire book...it's a love story."

She agreed, and with hand to her chest, eyes moist, she said, "Can you imagine being loved like that!"

That's when it hit me and my words flowed, "Oh, but we are! Christ's love is just like that love...It's complete, eternal and..." I searched for the word and found it, "sacrificial!"

We both got quiet and she left to smoke her cig. I think I may have gotten a little too fanatical for her taste! lol!

Beloved, anything that reminds us of the love and grace of our Lord and Saviour is good for us. That's WHY we can look in the face of sadness and say, "My God who loves me and ever lives to plead for me allowed this thing to happen, nay even fashioned (Ps.139) this day and time for my good and his glory!
"We are pressed, but not crushed, perplexed but don't dispair, we are persectued but not abandoned, we are no longer slaves, we are daughters and sons and when we are weak we are very strong and neither death, nor life, nor present, nor future can seperate us from the Love of Christ and the Word I need is the Word that was, that put on flesh to dwell with us..."
~ lyrics from Sarah Groves' song "The Word" taken right from scripture. 

There is not a dividing line between the sacred and the secular-(not an original quote) Even a vamp book.

~Here's something you probably never heard before - when the heroine turns into a vampire...Meyer describes her change in such a way that it resonates with the change I fully expect in my new, glorified body! -minus the thirst for blood- that has been satisfied by Jesus Christ, the lover of my soul.)

(Disclaimer - this series is the only one I've read or intend to read of this genre...Twilight Series was written for teens and though has objectionable elements...is clean.)~ True to word, present day 2011, I've still had no desire to read anything else from this genre...wanted to try Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series at one point because it seemed to have a similar theme...just couldn't do it :\

The post below offers some clarity to one of the comments left on the original blog entry. It's a bit involved, so read it as you have time.


Monday, October 10, 2011

And the votes are in!

I have been exceedingly tired this past month. I feel rather like my broken mainframe computer, continually turning on and shutting off, trying to fix something I can't. Something I know is broken, but have no way to re-program or reboot to make things work properly. And even though I'm up at 3 am now, I feel like it doesn't matter how much sleep I get...I'll still be tired. I need to ease up on the caffeine, I think.

Well, the last of the big boy publishers emailed my agent: rejection.

The one from Thomas Nelson was so very kind. They said they held on to my manuscript so long because it was a hard decision to make; they even hinted at working with me in the future, once I'm published, that is. I hope so, too. Through-out this process, I've fallen in love with TN. They seem like such a great group of believers. Sincere...from the former CEO president, Michael Hyatt, who gives great publishing and leadership advice on his blog, to the editors who took the time to write a note of encouragement to' nobody' they knew.

But in the end, a "No" is still a no.

Now, I am not a big dreamer. Too realistic, I suppose. That said, I was surprised at how taken back I was, how disappointed. I kept having to remind myself  "It's not like someone died!" I find myself cringing at names from my story, Jacob and Judah especially. Passing by Lifeway Christian Bookstore on the highway is difficult. I look away. And...Please laugh at this, because it's pretty silly...I don't like signing my name right now...if you can't think of "why", well...Bless You!

And yet, this past week, I've chided myself. I've chided myself for not taking the time to dream BIGGER. Sure the disappointment has been keenly felt...but the wonder of the moment...of having MY WORDS, MY 1st STORY enjoyed and wrestled through by the elite of the Christian Publishing world...that moment is gone...whereas the result of their decision will remain, no matter where my writing journey takes me. And of that, I am profoundly moved and I hope instructed.

I've learned not to dream less, in a pitiful attempt to save myself from heartache, but to dream more, to savor the moment of hope and possibility, before they chance to slip away from me.

The tale of Dinah "Numbered Among the Stars" is not ready to be shelved just yet. I'm going to do some minor editing (thanks to my critic partner and my becoming-dearer-almost-daily-friend, the amazing author of "The Red House, Almost a Memoir" ~available on Amazon.com, Charmaine Davis) and then my agent will query some smaller publishers. She believed in me enough to put an unpublished author in the big boy publisher's rink...In this, I will always be humbled by her faith in me. Thank you, Dawn.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"An Acceptable" Loss

For the "developmentally delayed child's mother" and anyone else who cares to peek in ;)

At 4 years old, I told my mother I hated school. Mistake number one was saying it in the first place. Mistake number two, saying it in front of her in-laws. Back then I thought I hated school because I was stupid, and honestly I was okay with that. My older brother was touted a "genius"...so I naturally thought intelligence overrated.

In third grade I did something forbidden under any circumstance, even for me. I failed spelling. My family's response? Quality time and parental involvement it was not! No TV, no playing outside, no games, no...nothing for a whole grading period, back then a grading period was 9 weeks. I could eat, sleep and study spelling.

As you might have gathered, I wasn't exactly the perfect student. I once had a teacher pull me aside and tell me I probably cost her her job that day. To this day I'm probably too cavalier about our little chat. I was a bad student...and she was a bad teacher...I hope she got out of it and into something a little less challenging. Back to me, harsh and extreme seemed this 9 week imprisonment for a child who lived to play outside with mud, sticks and leaves...and my one childhood friend, Sandi. 

I cried everyday.

But something magical happened during that time. I stumbled upon books. I discovered life beyond the walls of my room in words written by people I've never met and who had no connection with my life. A girl who HATED reading with a passion, began in those miserable 9 weeks to love reading with a passion. And the "wastelands became wilderness" as I began to wander outside my small world and to see beyond the "what is" to the "what could be".

Did I become an "A" student and shock everyone with my brilliance...no. When we left New Jersey for south of the Mason-Dixon line, I was still a mediocer student, mostly alone and detached from school in general...though always with a book in hand. I didn't gain an interest in school until we moved from one school to another mid-year and I had an epiphany through a certain science class in 8th grade. I got a "C", my usual, in science. Where we moved to, the class was a unit behind. I KNEW the material. It was quite the shock for me to discover...if you study and memorize the material...you get better grades. Wow, right?

Remember though...I'd grown up watching my brother, the straight "A" student, never open a book! He has a photographic memory, I was not so blessed...or maybe I was. He still hates to read :) though, like any smart person, he makes himself do it.

I have to smile when I remember my elementary school teachers. Most of whom gave up and just endured a year with me, especially the first 5 years. (My 6th grade teacher, Miss. Russ was a huge exception to this, one day I hope to tell about her.) You see, I doubt I'd be consider a proper teacher type (heck, I don't consider myself the "teacher type") and yet I taught my daughter to read by the age of 4. She is now 5 years old reading at at 4th/5th great :) level.

How did this happen? I first attribute this to the Lord as I trusted him to take what I put before her and have fruit come from it. HE DID! {Secondly these next two things helped in a HUGE way: Starfall.com and Leapfrog Videos from Target and then a packet of sight cards.}

Now, I must say my spelling is still so laughable I don't allow myself to play scrabble with the in-laws who frequently get 8 letter words! But when I remember I was considered an "acceptable loss" (spending most summers in summer school) I stand in awe at what God used to change and mold me from an ignorant, silly girl to at least someone who wants to know, to learn, to discover. I'm living proof, GOD does use the simple to confound the wise! :)

Psalm 107 is my favorite all time chapter in Psalms. It talks about God LOVING to turn things around where everyone gives up hope and labels things as though they always will be what they are and no more than that. GOD is AMAZING!

I hope this encouraged your heart...it encouraged me to write it! :) Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Given the World, For $3.

Recently my husband and I had a serious conversation with a beloved family member about the Lord. This came about because our 5 year old daughter, knowing what she knows about God's simple plan for rescuing the souls of men, is boldly asking those she loves "Do you know the Lord?", "Are you saved?" and most recently, "Do you know if your sins have been forgiven?"

The response to this question runs the gamete...(what is a gamete by the way...or am I mixing up the phrase?)Anyway, if your only thought on reading this is, "Oh, how wonderful!" or "That's so cute!" then you either
a. don't have any kids
b. have kids but really no relatives/friends who are not Christ followers
or c. you are WAY too spiritual to be reading my blog!

This one relative is convinced I whisper these things into Arowyn's ears...she has no understand of the Holy Spirit working in Arowyn's life or the pureness of her love which compels my daughter to speak of that which most (I) tiptoe and hide and wait patiently for an "open door" to walk through. I have actually had to squash the impulse to say, "Don't talk about the Lord with so and so...it just makes waves!" I haven't...but I'm just saying!!!

I recently realize the ugly truth...it just makes waves...for me. Not for my husband or child...me! And when I concentrate on that I can get a real "victim" mentality...but God has shown me something else recently...I have been given a great honor...I am the catching net for the resentment that normally would have fallen on my daughter except for the love her relationship has with this relative. May I do so with Joy and not grief.

What does all this have to do with being given the world for $3? Glad you asked!

During our conversation, my relation said, "Just because you mention God all the time, doesn't mean anything!"

Out of the three of us at the table that night, I'M the one that "mentions God" ALL THE TIME! This gave me great pause. I do talk about you, Lord...a lot. Do I talk about you...too much?

Well, the first thing I discovered about my "God Talk" is not so flattering...with those who are not Christ followers...I guess sometimes I'm fishing...fishing for an opening to speak about the One that matters most in my life. I thought I was creating opportunities to share, even for a moment, His divine presence in our lives. But I was talking with some friends recently and realized, I'm kinda being a "colt in a flower patch" as one fabulous author, Charmaine Davis, put it. I'd just fling my thoughts out there without regard for the Holy Spirit's leading. I thought, "Well it's about God, so I can say anything, anytime any where." And that might not be true...still working through this one and if you have any helpful thoughts, I'll love you to share them ;)

The other thing that came out was pretty big. Rick and I were having one of our pillow talks, they are rare but special. And we got to talking about this issue and I said something that made him smile with understanding that I hope to convey here.But first, a little background.

I had wanted a globe for Arowyn for the past two years. I told her I'd get her a globe when she memorized all the states and capitals. She did...6 months ago! Now I'm not just talking about any 'ole $10 globe...I'm talking about the kind with "all the bells and whistles", the kind that tells the time in Kenya and the national anthem for China, and the population of Ireland. The kind that cost about $130...on sale ;)

Well, between you, me and my bank account, that kind of globe is not in our budget. And that, as they say, was the end of that. But it remained...a wistful, quiet desire in my heart.

This year, Arowyn starts Classical Conversations...a globe of some sort is paramount, a $5 place mat would do just fine.

Moving along...people go to the movies, out to eat nice, or trips to Paris and beyond...Rick and I yard sale and dumpster dive for our fun. Well, one particular morning about two months ago, I stumbled across a globe...THE globe, actually better than the one I wanted...it's a Leap Frog Globe . Had a tag "make and offer" It looked brand new. The owner noticed me looking at it; had she seen me drooling?

Be cool

"What are you looking to get for this?"

"Oh, I don't know...bought for my granddaughter. She doesn't take no notice of it, so I'm gettin rid if it."

"Hmm. Says "make and offer". I'd really hate to do that...I just don't think...I don't know..."
My mind screamed $20? $25? Would Rick pay that? Would this lady be insulted if I said less...like $10?

"Is $3 too much for you?"

Pardon? Alicha...don't you dare choke and whatever you do...resist the urge, nay the deep seeded need, to tell her she should be asking WAY more! Remember that 7 piece post WWII American Embassy suite from Paris sitting at home...insisted we pay $25 dollars more than asking price! Remember the scolding you got? The memory of Rick's voice cut in, "People ask what they WANT to get for something...it's not as valuable to them as it is to YOU...that's why they are selling it and you are buying it!" Duh! (Duh added by me, not hubby!)

"Sure, okay." very cool...

So, back to the mattresses...I said to Rick, " You know why I shared about that globe to people who don't know Him? To those who think it strange that I should attribute such worth to the seeming coincidence of finding my heart's globe at a yard sale...Because I am uttering overwhelmed and in awe of the fact that my God...My CREATOR, the one that runs the universe without a blink or sigh, sees a desire of my heart and he grants it."

A simple need that could be satisfied by a place mat and yet the Lord gave me it with all the humor and wonder those who know him recognize him by. My heart says to my mind "He took care of my soul, what more have I the right to ask of Him." But his actions through-out my life have said, "I took care of your soul and I care for the desires of your heart too."

Zechariah 4:10 says, “Who despises the day of small things?”
Ephesians 5:20 tells me that I should always be giving “… thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And so I shout back, with all the humor and wonder I've witnessed,

Friday, July 22, 2011

My What???

"So what's your passion?"

This question came from a guest blogger named Mary DeMuth on Michael Hyatt's blog. Her answer to how most respond to this question is like the big red Target dot zeroing in on the end of my nose!

Regardless, she makes some fabulous points about our passions in general, why we often avoid them and discovering exactly what they are. It's called "Find your passion in 3 easy steps" Link at the end of my post and a most worthy read! Please check it out!

I was fascinated by her proposal to pen down my top three "all time" movies and investigate why I enjoy them so much. She brilliantly deduced that it indicates something of what I am passionate about. And though I don't really know how that passion will play itself out, am open to suggestions in the comments, I'm most thankful to recognize it.

The list was easy to make, the thread which linked them...not so much.
The three movies top movies I could (and do) watch over and over are:

1. Persuasion (the 1995 version taken directly from Jane Austen's novel)
2. The Winslow Boy (a fabulous screenplay)
3. A Knight's Tale (main character, the late Heath Ledger)

Other than being excellently written, directed and acted, oh and apparently all British, there's no similarity in plot or characters, they are all from different time periods and various economic backgrounds. So what unites them? I thought on it. And have come to realize something about myself in the process. AND THAT IS EXACTLY what Mrs. Mary DeMuth was getting at, I believe.

One day I will highlight much more about each movie, but here I will be brief and focus only on the things that bind them together in my eyes and why they hold value in my heart~

1. The main character(s) in each of the movies I mention shows a nobility of action, though they are not royally born. Though, for A Knight's Tale, that's a conflict in itself.

2.There is an insignificance of each's situation that's not inherent to their person. Meaning, the protagonists rise above positions of insignificance. Each has value...and each knows their value, is comfortable and assured of it

3. The hero/heroines of these stories fill me with awe. Awe to see what being, not just acting or putting on, a thing I struggle with, but actually BEING a person of honor, courage, strength, dignity, and hope...a person of noble character, the likes of which no regal crown or bloodline can impart.

These are what stir my soul and capture my attention, causing me to gaze with wonder time and again at story lines I know where they're going and dialogue I've memorized by heart. It is what caught my attention and holds it still upon the One who is the ultimate culmination of such a person, nay the One who is the standard to which nobility bows...the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Him I have perfect hope that one day...one day I too will know my value, the worth he has placed upon me. I will be ever mindful of the eternality of each of my words and deeds and not think my life small or insignificant, but most of all that I will walk worthy of Him continually, not only on occasion, because I am part of "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:" 1 Peter 2:9

So...What's your passion? What are your 3 movies and what binds them in your heart and mind? If you have a moment, share below!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review of "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" Part One

There have been moments in my life when a word or phrase has altered my perception of reality, and with that my hope and fears, thereby altering the course of my life. Doubtlessly, you have those memories too. Contrary to Simon & Garfunkel's famous song, we are not rocks or islands. We are organic by design, we effect each other.

For me, the wonder of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium can be summed up in one verse: Proverbs 25:11, A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

I watch in awe as Mr. Magorium, played by actor Dustin Hoffman, this wacky, zany, "off" guy,  makes the most compelling, meaningful statements about life and death, reminding me strangely enough {despite the author's ambiguity towards heaven and, at one point, open disregard for God, our God} of Jesus. Jesus, whose words are "quick and powerful, sharper than any two edge sword...a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. 4:12

Just like Jesus, every word Mr. Magorium speaks, from the moment of his appearance on the screen til his exit, has purpose. The direction of his words are pointing ever forward in hope, even as he speaks about his death, responding to the question, "Are you dying?" He says, "Light bulbs die, my sweet. I will depart."

The beauty of this character is that he seeks to instill hope in those around him. When he speaks, it is to elevate the person before him from the thought that life is made up of trivial, dismissible moments and to project into them the idea of the "Wonder" of life itself. Just as in the opening scene when the main character, Molly Mahoney, asks impishly "Are we going on an adventure?" and he answers, "Oh, my dear, we're already on one!".

But unlike real life, you can re-watch the movie to get the point that Mr. Magorium isn't talking about the adventure of a certain tale from a certain day or period in time which is unfolding before us on the screen...he's talking about life, about living. He's talking about the NOW.

For example: [after he and Molly have set all the clocks forward ~ in a clock shop~ to strike noon at the same time]

Molly says, "Now we wait."
Mr Magorium counters "No. We Breathe. We Pulse. We Regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. Thirty-seven seconds, well used, is a lifetime."
The last scene, in Mr Magorium's departing monologue is perhaps the most brilliant and poignant summation of the life, not the death, of Shakespeare's King Lear. It's worth quoting here:

"When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words."
My dearest friends and family, some of you I know are hurting terribly, having had deep losses in the past few months and continued wounds from loved ones taken at what would be a time deemed "too soon"...my wish for you in reading this is to realize that part of the tragedy in King Lear and the joy of Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is found in the storyline itself, unspoken but evident. It is the love that was bestowed upon each respectively. These two fictional characters, Mr. Magorium and King Lear were loved greatly.

Our departed babies, sisters, mothers and friends...they were loved greatly...by you...by me. We are the evident treasury of their lives, however brief they may have been. And Beloved, as significant as our love is, may I present to you a comforting truth~ our love pales in comparison: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us..." Ephesians chapter 2 ~ the verse is worth uncovering as He shows how he has loved us.

May you know that great love in your own life...May it effect your life to make of it a joyful journey, not a woeful tragedy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Here we go...

A gentle and caring friend of mine posted something about herself on FB. She said "I love movies!"

This statement gave me pause. Oh, did I mention she's a strong Believer? When I saw her entry, I thought to myself, "Can we love movies?" I mean, I do...but can we say that? Can we admit that for any and all to see. I can see admitting to loving music, books, perhaps even dancing ~ King David danced...but movies?

You may be shaking your head in wonder...if you are, you must understand...I come from a heart place that God did not create, a place of religious rules fashioned by fear and without reason. But my Father beckons me, "Taste and see that the LORD is good."

Some movies are an absolute waste of time. {I just finished watching one actually. One I'd waited a year for it to come out on DVD! It was awkward and clique-ish at best.} But then there are some movies, they are the "shadow of the thing to come" or they are the rippling brook where we find our image and incremental discoveries about ourselves.

I am fascinated when I find the theme of truth weaved through a storyline. I don't mean "truth" as in "not a lie" but truth as it was meant to be...as she was created in the beginning, before anything was made (Proverbs 8:22). Another word for her is "Wisdom". And in worthy stories you will find the pulse of her, the Lord's message, his call and reasoning, in the most secular of tales. I am in awe of this...I LOVE seeing my Lord's face in the makings of a masterpiece or a simple story made by mere men. "The righteous see it and rejoice, and all iniquity stops its mouth, Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the loving kindness of the LORD." Ps 107 42,43

In the coming weeks/ months, I plan to write about the following, adding to the list as I go...some are books, others songs, but mostly...MOVIES!!!

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Company Men
Hart's War
Knight's Tale
What about Bob?
Elizabeth the Golden Age
Sarah Groves' song "Generations"
Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner
Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

And so, another critic makes her debut!

Monday, June 27, 2011


I got some and will be sharing soon! Thanking my Leader and Lord! He is faithful, of that truth I depend on...not like a crutch...but my own iron lung!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mulling things over...

Hi There!
If you're stopping by, I say thank you!
I'm currently engaged in research for my next project, so my posts are sporadic at best. But not for want of subject and\or material ;) I'm just weighing the usefulness of the topics. Many are too heavy, some are stories from my childhood and I don't know their place in my life now. I'm also concidering something a close friend mentioned...coming up with a blog that has a niche. Really thinking about that one ;) So until then...if you're stopping by and you're new...feel free to browse previous posts. New ones will come when I have the answers or direction I seek. He is FAITHFUL! The Lord will lead me in the way I should go...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says~ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

These verses are a lifeline to me. They remind me I’m situationally in the “will of God” in whatever circumstance I am in. That‘s as huge as the storm I may be in at that moment. Then the Holy Spirit shows me where I am in the light of all eternity ~ positionally I am "in Christ"…though my life is taken away, I AM safe. And finally the "for you" reminds me of Ps 139…how he has fashioned all my days and laid them out for me, FOR ME!

I wondered once why we still sometimes fold our hands in prayer, even as adults. I mean, I know why we have our children fold their hand:.to keep them from playing around while praying. And maybe it's something that simple...or maybe not. I’d like to share with you what I came up with…

There are two sides, which in God’s perfect will, become one by His power. In one hand you have “our good”, meaning our best interest, that which we hope for in every situation, the seen and the unseen. In the other hand you have the purpose of our being, the bring of Glory to God. When we fold our hands together in prayer, we are symbolically affirming what God has promised to do as he moves in each of our lives, melding our best interest with His Glory. The realization that these two are never, EVER in contradition in the life of a believer is a powerful, freeing truth.

The verses I gave above help remind me of this truth when “for my good” feels anything but good…Do you have "Lifeline" verses you cling to? If you are so lead...share below!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Suppose to Be" Land"

I’ve written a couple of times about my daughter, Selah and her sleeping (or rather not sleeping) through the night. As I’ve said before, my older daughter, Arowyn slept through the night at four and a half weeks. Selah sleeps through the night on occasion. What has absolutely floored me is the fact that nearly every time she does sleep through the night…something either wakes me up or I have to be up half the night for another reason. Are you starting to suspect God of something yet…it’s okay if you aren’t…took me 14 months to figure it out.

About a week ago, I was contemplating the state of my house, my car, my children, and my mind thinking pray/complaining to the Lord “If Selah would only sleep through the night I could get caught up on…”


I cannot tell you how much trouble my emotional and mental clinging to that sentence has caused in my life. It’s a peace-killing, hope-stealing, life-sucking parasite that creeps in and wraps its nasty self around my heart. And like Jr. Asparagus’ fib…it grows casting other thoughts in its dark shadow.

A long time ago I realize something amazing and life changing. Where I am at this moment, circumstances and all, is EXACTLY where God wants me to be. And while in it, I have the opportunity to bring honor and glory to him by first and foremost submitting with a thankful heart to where I’m AT. But I forget to revisit that thought from time to time.

So, where am I at with Selah? I’m TIRED but there are still things that God is calling me to take care of…with joy no less. Does that mean things are still going to fall apart…yes…but when they do, I’m not going to turn to God with an excuse on my lips, “Well, the serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” Or “Well, Selah kept me up last night, so I…” Whatever the thing I’m letting myself be lazy about because I’m not getting the sleep I think I need!  

I’m very grateful to the Lord for revealing this when he did…it has helped me put this weekend in perspective when I’d rather stand up in my own little world screaming my former mantra. How much easier to look into the face of LOVE and realize, it’s the place, the relationships, the situation God himself has placed me, and in it I have all the power available to me to proceed rightly and obediently and boldly. How do I know? I’ll share that in part 2.

In the meantime…Can you think of an area of your life you’ve subtitled “supposed to be”? Sighs and wistfulness are wonderful “suppose to be” detectors. Do you have another detector you can share?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

~All in Season~

I love my yard.

 It is full of springtime delights. Every corner of our little space in the city bursts forth with vibrant color. From tulips to wild violets to Dogwoods to Cherry Blossoms and that’s just what I know to name. But, I didn’t plant them...I didn’t cultivate them. From the first, living here reminded me of the promise God gave the Jews concerning the Promised land…

Joshua 24:13 "So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant."

Then, just as it does every spring, the wind wreaks havoc on our lawn and a huge tree fell down onto our shrubbery. (We are very thankful for the way and when it fell, as there was no damage to us/others or home. But it was a royal mess!) Spring is known for its wind. There are many benefits to the land by the wind. It distributes seeds and pollen, breaks off old leaves and limbs, making way for new.

But something my husband said called my attention to a possibility I’d like to share. The wind was fierce the other day, so much so, visiting friends thought of postponing their trip home due to its force. Anyway, we were walking out to the car when my husband said, “Wow, look at all the Dogwood flowers on the ground.” There was a note in his voice which made me glance up at the trees, expecting our Dogwood to be bare. It wasn’t, but he was right, the ground was covered with blossoms. And I had a lovely thought I’d like to share with you.

Easter comes every spring. It's always been there, in the spring for me...so I never really THOUGHT about it. Maybe because sometimes we think of Israel in harsh, garish terms, almost like a wasteland and desert. So far removed from the Americas that it's easy to confuse the environment of Christ death. Yet, 2,000 years hasn’t changed the progression of seasons each and every year. The beauty of the earth coming alive surrounded the cross, if only from a distance. Blossoms and budding leaves abounded! While evil scream death, and LOVE laid down his life, the world was shouting the themes of rebirth, renewal, and most significantly ~ resurrection!

Then the thought came...Where blossoms did not grow, the winds of spring  had a chance to carry them…perhaps, even to the foot of the cross. How much more the tomb, where Jesus took back his life.

He is RISEN...Have a joyful Easter everyone!

Who killed Jesus?

Who REALLY killed Jesus?

Earlier this year, the Vatican absolved the Jews of the guilt of Christ's death. That's nice.

It was their cry for his blood which pushed Pilate's hand...but Romans were the ones actually nailing Christ to the cross. I think it's fair to say both the Jews and the Gentiles played their parts perfectly...that is, their parts were perfectly equal. Though I think it correct to say the responsiblity of Christ's death is laid at the foot of humanity, no man killed the Messiah. Christ's death was an arrangement between God the Father, "it pleased the LORD to crush Him." Is. 53:10 and God the Son, "No man takes my life, I lay it down willingly." Jn 10:18

Do you remember the miracles Jesus did? There were those raised from the dead, no less, but remember the woman who had a blood issue? She was healed by touching the very hem of Jesus garment. "And Jesus felt power go forth from him." Mark 5:30

So, it is no stretch to understand that Jesus did more than restrain the angels, while on the cross. He actually WILLED his wounds to remain open...and his bones to remain separate. He became the Lamb of God by his will..."Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins."

Rejoice beloved of the Lord! Dance for the joy that you are loved with this great love he has loved us!

1 Jn 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.


Some say Christ’s death is “Barbaric!”
It is...at least in part.

Believer's shy away from this. Funny, our reaction reminds me of a particular bus ride home from school. I was about six. Some boy got in my face and accused me of being a VIRGIN! To which I replied "I am NOT!" So the question must be asked...do we know what we're talking about?

Sometimes we get romantic and fuzzy about the details, like an old movie in black and white, the camera shifts to the damsel, getting cloudy around the edges...white-washing the word and work of God cheats us and gives the unredeemed reason to scoff.

Christ sacrifice is barbaric...and beautiful. 

Remember the beginning...Paradise.
Remember the gift...relationships
Remember the fall...pride
Remember the call...evasion
Remember the response...deflection
Remember the punishment...sorrow
Remember the prophecy...hope

Christ matched his life/death to our story, that he may redeem us from what we are. How else could we know the gravity of our sins...there is another way to know...it involves an eternity in darkness and suffering, shut out from the Light offered us our whole lives. The fall formed the terms of our enslavement (for the wages of sin is DEATH) But God made himself the complete "It is settled/finished!" kind of payment~ (but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord!) Romans 3:23

Truly, our fall chose the venue, WE are what makes Christ's death barbaric...He is what makes us Beautiful! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Notes on Ps. 22 continued...

In this passage, I'm in awe of the way the David reminds himself of the Lord's deliverance in times past, relays the agonizes of the present and looks to the future with hope, saying "You have answered me!" I mean, really, did you ever think a passage that starts out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" would end with a hearlding shout of praise and victory? But it does...and so will our lives in Christ.

Below is the internet passage for easy reference:

Here are a couple of things I learned from that same sermon several years ago. 
  • Translated vs20b actually says, "my precious Darlings from the power of the dog. 
·     The Body of Christ is the fulfillment of Vs. 22-31 Read all the Promises and Blessings we have Only in Christ.

·       Vs. 31b - "That he has done this!" is the exact phrase Christ uttered before laying down his life, "IT IS FINISHED" There is and can be no more payment aside from HIS PERFECT work on the cross for our sins

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I was listening to a radio message this past week on the suffering of Christ. Something struck me with a fuller force than ever before.

Luke 23 verses 26, 49
~As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus
~But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

There was no friend, or follower, close enough to aid our Lord. Where were the thousands he'd healed, the blind and the sick, the crippled and diseased? The soldier had to grab a perfect stranger, an out of towner from another country, when the Messiah stumbled under the weight of guilt (the cross) that was not his own. Oh how that adds insult to serious injury.

During a dark time in my life about seven years ago, I approached the secretary at my church for help I desperately needed. There seemed to be a question floating in the air around me. I think it was asked 3rd party and related to me later. The question:"Where are her...?"

Think about it. When you're stranded because your car brakes down or, like Nicolas Cage, you're in jail and need a bailout...Who do you want to help you? A stranger who doesn't know you or a friend/family member who does? The answer to that will tell you a lot...a lot about your situation, your companions and your own heart. For, in the first situation, likely a friend is the safer bet...but what about when the cross is your own to bear, beams fashioned and fixed by the rememant of a tree you sowed? What about when the shame's so great, the cost of discovery so significant...you'd rather a stranger's help because strangers don't know you...aren't in your circle. What's it to you if they tell their friends some abstract, unknown, person's problems? Nothing.

Do we have friends/family buckling under the weight of burdens too hefty to bear alone by the actions of those around them or possibly their own? Does it matter to you which? Will that determine the extent of your help, the reach of your hand? Do they have to go to strangers to find kindness?

One of my favorite books of the Old Testament, likely the whole Bible, is Isaiah. But, over and over the phrase, "stretched out his hand" appears for the purpose of destruction and harm...but if you do the same study of the phrase "out his hand" the phrase is prefaced by one very different word, "reached". Again and again, Jesus "reached out his hand" and healed, helped, assisted, SAVES!

I've been acosted several times in the last few weeks, as my own sense of righteousness fought to crowd-out the righteous, right hand of God. I've had to ask the following of my own heart...I offer it now to you, in your corner of the kingdom...Will we be the condeming hand, which God has forbidden us, or the open, outstretched hand, an extention of the grace and mercy the Father has given us?

Remember, we will be in both positions in our lives. May God give us the blessing of repentance and Godly friends during the first and the mind of Christ in the other.

This is possible all because of Jesus, our perfect Lamb, was alone...and yet he has promised that is one thing we, as his children, will never be. Heb. 13:5b “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Even in the darkest of times, there is a "hope that does not disappoint". (Romans 5:5)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Double Minded Man and...Rapunzel?

Last week Rick was out of town for a day or two, so Arowyn and I had a sleep over in her room! As a surprise I got the movie "Tangled" for us to watch. First off let me just say it was not nearly as stuilly (stupid and silly) as I thought it'd be. I actually laughed at a few parts. Which ever...the point was to have a great time with my big baby girl and we did ~ complete with ice cream. I mean after all, what girlie gathering is complete without ICE CREAM!!

Anyway, there's a part in the movie, actually several I heard myself echoing to my daughter (like Rapunzel being someone worth waiting for :). This part was so profound I've found my mind returning to it several times over the last week. It's when Rapunzel first touches her foot to the ground after 18 years of being up in the tower and never feeling freedom.

She feels elated...she feels fear.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it for the visual aid. It’s like watching a human roller coaster, both emotionally and physically. If you have seen it, YOU KNOW I speak truth! The girl is everywhere. Here are some quotes as she dances and flops her way around...

”I LOVE it down here!”
“I am a horrible human being.”
“I’m NEVER going back!”
“What kind of awful person am I?”

Rapunzel is absolutely torn. An 80’s song just came to mind~ “Should I stay or should I go now? If go there will be trouble, if I don’t there will be double.” But as I was watching it, I thought that’s what James 1:8 person is like, whether on the outside or in…that’s a double minded man!

James 1: 6-8 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

This has personal significance to me. We're changing up the way we do my daughter's homeschooling. I looked at something called Classical Conversations. We went to an "open house", and Arowyn just LOVED the schoolroom feel of it and I loved how much she learned. With a bunch of girls there and all learning and learning well…I went home from it torn…I prayed, took a nap and woke up with complete peace that this was the way FOR ME to walk. And, within two weeks time, I had the way TO the means to provide for the first year of school! Talk about God paving the way! But doubts started. Fear began. I started listening to the chatter around me, the static within me.

Is this just a cop-out?
Maybe the Lord wants to show me his strength through my weakness.
Didn’t I chose homeschooling over the traditional classroom...isn't this just the same as school?
What am I doing! I’m a horrible teacher!
We've made sweet friends at our co-op now...and to have to start over...is that fair?

Can we spell Rapunzel???

Boiled down, I did what James 1 said. I asked God for wisdom believing he would give it, knowing he has more of a vested interest in Arowyn's success than I do...I believe I received wisdom to proceed. But then I began to be the man of James 1:8. Going back and forth like that, that causes more unrest in those around me (ie my daughter and husband) than the change ever would.

Doubt is like mold...it's so easily vanquished in the light of Christ's love and provision...but it so easily returns with stagnant air and rain, the chaos of thunder and lightening. So hold fast, stand firm. Know yourself for the child of The King, the redeemed of the most High!

I love a song by Twila Paris "Every Heart that is Breaking Tonight"  it's an amazing song and if I can attach it I will, otherwise, YouTube it...you're in for a treat. The song reminds me of all that God sees...that he sees each of us, where we're at. When we catch a hold of that truth, oh how the mold of doubt flees and light expels the darkness, bringing hope in our everyday lives.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

~On Going Home~

There’s a joke between my husband, Rick, and I that is so old it makes me smile every time…even as I’m chiding him for bringing it up. It comes up on the drive home from...well anywhere we need to travel to get back home. (This also includes visits to the store in 5 o'clock traffic.) He actually has started to wait me out, see if I'll say it first. I hardly ever do. Wishful thinking has always irritated me. I'm a born realist.

When we go away for a family vacation, no matter how much fun my older daughter’s having, towards the end of the trip she’ll whisper as she's going to bed, “I miss Ember.” Ember is our cat, who, other than an amazing huntress, has little affection for my daughter. For a while Arowyn’s confession puzzled me. Why does she miss a cat she hardly see when we're at the house? But then I realized, likely she’s not missing the cat, she’s missing where the cat is…she’s missing home.

On a different note ~ you'll get it in a second ;) my baby girl, Selah has the worst cry in the world. Listening to that child complain/cry is like attending a symphony of long nailed performers scratching out “Taps” on chalkboard. My Arowyn slept through the night at four and half WEEKS old. Selah is almost thirteen months and she rarely sleeps through the night. It has nothing to do with compassion or will power…I feel like the Grinch laying next to my husband, who's also awake, saying “Oh the NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!” Inevitable I get up.

I go get her. She’s still crying. I pick her up, she stops, amazingly enough (I know, roll the eyes!) She lays her head on my left shoulder. I’ve learned not to hunch them up anymore, but to give her a somewhat flat surface to lie on. She lets out a shuddered sigh, content, as one tiny arm wraps around my neck and I feel the press of her fingers against my hair. Everything about her, in that moment, says she’s “home”. She’s found the place where she belongs.

I was thinking about Selah's nighttime wakings this morning, as last night was particularly difficult, and I realized something very special. My children have given me a great gift. Arowyn, has shown me the urge to remember to yearn to go home, not just when things get tough and heaven seems a wistful, easy escape (like “wouldn’t it be great if God came back this awful day, TODAY!) but even when all is “right” in my world. Because the fact is, it is wrong…the world isn’t whose it should be. It isn’t Christ’s…yet.

And Selah, she reminds me what it will be like to finally get to where I belong. That place where there will be eternal peace and rest from trouble, from the strife God has guaranteed to the children of men. One day, I’ll lay my head down on shoulders that never tilt or falter and I’ll know I am where I belong. I’m home.

We’ll be taking a family trip soon, whether to Richmond or some other place for my husband’s work. We’ll start off on our trip, excited and energetic and who knows where the conversations we have will lead us. But as sure as I’m sitting here, writing this post, I know the joke which almost speaks itself into the waiting tiredness of a quiet car, traveling back to the Blue Ridge area of VA. Rick gives me a look that says, “Here it comes. The moment you’ve been waiting for since the downward slope began."

~“Don’t you ever just wish you could wish yourself home?”

This time I'll remember "the hope that does not disappoint" and this self-proclaimed realist will reply:

~“I do now.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

And so, I write...

There are people out there in the "great unknown" who look at me with a toxic cocktail expression, one part aghast horror / one part extreme hilarity, when they find I ghost write for extra money and I'm an aspiring novelist.

"You write? Really?"

It's not their fault. They've heard me speak. They know my disjointed thoughts and strange, off the cuff references, strange only because they're not part of my thought processes. They don't know what point "B" or "C", which they were on, and point "F" could possible have in common. (I'm also one of those horrible people who starts laughing before the punchline's given.)

My Rick, God bless that man's heart, is a verbal genius. He could converse with a mute! He is an entertainer at heart too and boy does he love an audience. And what's more, the audience loves him.

But me? Not so much. (referring to audience, not my husband!)

I've learned at gatherings to not say to much, to listen well and keep on the subject at hand, so my social skills have greatly improved, likely from daily exposure to my hubby.

So...why DO I write?

Aside from a firm belief that there are good works set aside by the Lord for me to accomplish for him, through him, from him, I will try to explain the other compelling reasons from a "what makes me tick" vantage point.

First, I believe writing encompasses all the arts. It is theatrical to the extreme. Not only do I get to create characters, but I get to be them, live in their lives for a short time. I love, hate, witness, win and lose not with them, but as them!

For me, writing is an entire ballet performance in a body of one.
The orchestra is my mind,
The music ~ my heart,
My fingers ~ the cast and crew,
The keyboard ~ my stage.

Also, there have been moments when, as I'm writing, I feel as though I'm composing a symphony, the computer becomes an extension of my body and letters, choreographed to a score known only in my heart, leap out onto the display, falling perfectly in time and place to every whisper of a note and every commanding crescendo.

Not only that, I've realized over the years, my mind races EVERYWHERE! I firmly believe this is a result of disorganized, illogical, patterns of thought. I don't mean I'm hyperactive or ADHD or anything, but it seems like my mind thinks to much, to fast and doesn't really settle down on a topic. Like a rabbit jumping from hole to hole to hole to hole, sometimes back and forth, but always moving. Ironically, there are so many different directions to take with this point, spiritually especially, that I will say only this: the act of writing commands me like a general and marches my chaotic thoughts into something resembling order.

Finally, I write to know what I feel, to feel it thoroughly, and then...to let it go.

For this point I have an example from my life. The first five years of my marriage I, like most young married women, wanted a baby. Being in the young married couples at church didn't help. It seemed everyone was winning the baby lottery; everyone except me. To my knowledge, I never bent towards covetousness...until then. That sin fueled my craving for a child of my own. So when I finally got pregnant in my fifth year of marriage, I felt I'd arrived! I was one of the chosen ones! I was finally except by God to be a mother of a little bundle of perfect and complete joy. (I was so very wrong about so many things...God is good and faithful and just to not leave me in my state of ignorance, which was a complete and utter self-centered existence!)

I knew the length of the moments of every day. Being pregnant, for me, was like watching the grass grow. I was a laser technician for refractive surgery at the time and a tiny but crucial part of the assisting tech's job is to watch the clock, to the second, to give the surgeon the "go ahead" to finish up, medicate and moisturize the eye.

I remember cleaning up after a long surgical day, I glanced up at the clock I'd been watching all day for the health of others, thinking I'm still watching the clock...ticking past the seconds till my twelfth week begins. I paused in what I was doing and as one hand touched my belly, the other touched the white bean I had tucked away in my pocket. The approximate size of my hidden, precious treasure.

The day before we planned to tell everyone about our joy...I miscarried. The wonder I witnessed, the thriving heartbeat and tiny winking wings of a child in an ultrasound I'd had only a week prior, was no longer with me.

The fabric of my very being fell away. I was less than naked. I was skinned and torn. I walked, I talked, I functioned, but for a while I stopped feeling. I would look at the sun on my arm and marvel in a distracted, detached sort of way, that I should feel the warmth, but I didn't.

It seemed "breathing" was on my "to do" list.

This zombie like trance went on for a few weeks. At the time I was meeting with a group of ladies and since I had invited them together initially and suddenly stopped coming to the gathering, I felt I owed them an explanation. So, I wrote a note.

Immediately, I began to feel again, even though I was a long way from "feeling better". In time, by God's grace, I healed, I did feel better, but I found writing became the catalyst by which I discovered my feelings again.

And so, I write...

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It is the month of leprechauns, pots of gold and green shamrocks, and for all thirty-one days of March, every time we go to the grocery store, our cashier asks us if we'd like to donate a dollar to help fight muscular dystrophy.

Now, you know that if you just hold out for half the month saying, "Oh, not today.", first to the cashier, then to the child beside you wanting to put her name with everyone else, whose mommy broke down way too early. Then, about the middle of the month you pay your dollar, or whatever, your child gets her name on the wall and for the second half of March, you can respond to any and all inquiries with a kind and modest smile, "Oh, we gave already, thank you."

Well, it was into this absurd formula of life, my Arowyn shined her little light.

About two weeks ago, a Florida man apparently had been doing atrocious, unspeakable things to his adopted children, killing a ten year old girl, then drugged the other twin, dowsed him with burning, toxic chemicals while the child slept. About the same time, a woman gave birth to a baby boy in a coliseum, leaving the newborn in a bathroom toilet. (Yesterday I heard of another Florida man who got stopped in an airport with two dead children stuffed in his suitcase.)

We started an adoption fund immediately. Simply put, all emotion aside~ and there is plenty of that~ I figure, if the children of this world adopt for their own purposes, how much more should we, the children of the kingdom, seek for ways to adopt or, at the very least, help orphans. That's what God says is pure religion, James 1:27.

We had/have only a few dollars in this "fund", a little blue-green planter with the words "Grow in Grace" penned in yellow on the outside. We even, gasp, skipped a meal out so we could give extra.~ I write out of irony, not pride, and a reminder, because today's meal out was awful and I could have fixed a much better meal at home, and should have ~

Anyway, my daughter has taken off with this fledgeling idea of saving for an orphan. Use to be any change she happened upon in our home went right to her huge yellow crayon, an enormous piggie bank. Now, she seeks out coins to put in the little planter. I've watched her do this for a few weeks, and have found the desire in her growing, not subsiding. She either has a heart for orphans or a total belief that her every need is taken cared of, even some of her wants. Or perhaps this passion is an amazing combination of both. Oh, how I want to be that simple...and that mature in Christ.

There are struggles that come to light when children are present in the home. I've never know myself to be this selfish, harsh, demanding and critical as when Arowyn hit three and a half/ four years old. ~Wow, has it really been only 2 years of me realizing how bad "me" is? Feels like a decade.~ Someone on a Lysa Terkeurst's post said her kids have a handicap...and that handicap IS having her for a mom. My heart cried out, "You think that too?"

But this situation in Florida gave me a hand smack to the middle of the forehead feeling. For years I've been thinking about this whole "adoption thing" wrong. Apart from the giving love and family to call their own, I think, what if we keep them, an orphan, from a better home, both financially and Godly. I've never thought about saving orphans from entering a horrible situation. Truth be known, I really haven't thought about those left in the ophanages. Sad to say, to me they are in kind of a holding pattern, waiting to land. But they're not. They are living their lives out too. Just different from anything I've ever known.

My husband and I are so far from perfect, it's not even in our solar system of thinking, but the desire to be Godly is growing, real fruit has come and the hope of being changed into the image of Christ is based not on a vague idea, but a promise given by God himself. This promise is a distant star, but there and growing brighter in our sky. Does that mean we are filling out adoption papers and scanning the orphanages for THE child (gulp~children) to have in our home...

Uh, no. But it does mean there's been a turning of hearts in our home...the "No, that's not us" has changed to a hesitant, hopeful "Could this be?". What will God do if we start putting money aside for such a thing as this?
And so it was into this perfect "storm" our unsuspecting cashier, asked innocently, "We are collecting money for muscular dystrophy. Would you like to buy a shamrock for a dollar?"

My perfunctory reply came fast and sure, my "firm" look on to stop any plea from my daughter before it had a chance to reach her lips. I payed for my groceries and as I helped bag them, my child voiced her question loud and clear, for any and all to hear.

"Well, we're collecting money to buy an orphan. Would you like to give us money?"

God bless her little light!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Daughter's Eyes

My daughter has my pinky fingers; they curve in at the middle joint. I think, although I can’t be certain yet, she seems to have my husband’s nose. She has my skin, eczema and all, my lips, my ears except for the lobes, they are all McHugh. She has my husband’s smarts and, so far, his healthy blood. Lord knows where she gets her height.

But her eyes. Who’s eyes are those? For a while I thought they were mine. But no, they are not mine, nor my husband’s. The shape, the gaze, the color, they are another’s. But whose? It didn’t begin to worry at me until recently when my growing little girl paused in her play and look up at me in a quiet, calm, old soul way, totally unlike her boisterous, free-spirit norm. It bothered me, disturbed me in the way a tune you catch a whisper of bothers you when you try to recall the words, or a name you know you know, but it escapes you at that moment. Your mind mulls over it, repeating itself in your subconscious, relentless and frustrating. I know those eyes. Where have I seen those eyes before?

The other day I was spring cleaning our living room. I have several old time photos of my Pop-Pop and his wife, a woman I’ve never met but have heard much about. I have three black and white photographs, varying sizes, of her on our piano. The question begs to be asked, “Why do I have a picture of someone I don’t even know, much less multiple pictures on display?” Perhaps we save things for future relevance, not just past mementos. Regardless, display them I do. In one picture, the smallest, she is a young mother holding her tiny crippled son. She is beautiful, stylishly dressed and poised, yet everything about her in that picture suggests a fierce protectiveness, a quiet determination. She is a lioness. I know of her all night vigil in prayer when he was a baby with a high fever. They thought he might die. Pop-Pop thought he should. Knowing Uncle Barry’s sad life, I wonder. God does all things well; I have not His mind nor Pop-Pop His ways.

In the largest picture I have of her she is a post WWII wife of a prominent New York banker, the man standing beside her, my Pop-Pop. Her head is tilted back slightly, lips compressed into a thin line. I’ve seen my mother, her granddaughter, do the same thing, I can’t help but wonder if I do that too. It’s a sign of “staying the course”, no matter the cost, of making herself do something she doesn’t want to do, but feels she must. Her hands are clasped tightly in front of her. Pop-Pop looks strange too. They look like fashion mannequins, stiff and cold, maybe it’s the weather. A closer look reveals something else entirely. Though they stand side by side, instead of holding hands, their sides are fused together. It seems they are pressing on each other, communicating something only they know. They look alone in the world. They look shell shocked.

In this picture, she’s no longer young, or beautiful, though my Pop-Pop looks only about 30 years old. Here, she is sick, and getting sicker. She is dying of cancer. There’s thinness to her frame, her lovely rounded cheeks are sunken, gaunt with dark circles under her eyes, accentuated by the black and white of the photo. I feel I know their thoughts…will this be our last picture together?

The final picture I have of her is her cameo picture. I love that photograph. I could stare at it for hours. I was told it was a picture she had made especially for Pop-Pop when they were engaged. Her hair is short, dark and wavy, slightly frizzy, perhaps the effect of the newly invented “perm”, and pinned back with a single black bobby pin. She looks like a debutante out of a Nancy Drew novel. Only she is mysteriously dark, dark hair, olive skin and the eyes, yes the eyes, That’s where I’ve seen my child’s eyes before. Thick brows and under her brows, wide lids, wide horizontally, not vertically like mine. There also seems to be very little depth to the lid, as though the upper and lower brow and lower lid are separated by only creases, not dimension.

I cannot know the color of her eyes. They are not brown, of that I’m certain. So I look at my child’s irises, and as they are the same eyes, I have no trouble ascribing their hue to her great-great grandmother’s eyes. A casual glance at my daughter’s eyes, one might think them simply pale, but they are rather like the billowing storm clouds rolling in off the bay during a summer squall instead of the ominous thunderstorms of changing seasons. They are gray-blue and very easy to pass over unless you take a moment to look. Oh, sweet sight for those who take the time. Beautiful.

Mona Lisa should have had eyes like these, for all the fuss ascribed her portrait.

Comparatively, Mona Lisa’s expression is placid, ambivalent, dare I say, empty? My great-grandmother’s eyes are direct. There is honesty in her gaze which life seemed to tuck away from view in the later pictures. Her eyes exude intelligence. I always get the sensation she is asking questions with her eyes. Perhaps “ask” is too polite: she seems to be pulling for answers, not her own, she’s found them, but yours. There is a genuine feeling of her wanting to know, wanting to know you. Not just general answers about you, but the big ones, the ones some never come to know, the ones Pop-Pop died not knowing.

There is another in my family, named after this distant relative. A perfect complement to her grandmother’s name, she was bold and sensual, sensitive and loving, and the brightest light in my small world. She was my aunt and how I loved her. Charismatic, she drew people to her without ever trying. She was into back cracking, crushing hugs. I can feel the essence of these hugs 30 years later. Her laugh, I can still hear it when I close my eyes, loud and full. She knew how to laugh. The last time I saw her, I hugged her gently, carefully and everyone was quiet…so quiet. I miss her. I named my daughter after her, middle name only. Her grand-daughter will be born this month. She too will be named after her, middle name only.

What is her name? On the bottom of my great-grandmother’s cameo are two of the most elegant words in the English language. So elegant, in fact, they are married together in one of the most prominent tales in English literature. A tale so beautiful and tragic only one name could be given to the heroine of such a love story.

Words penned to her future husband said simply, “Love, Catherine”.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

God Breath Days

New Jersey gets a lot of flack from everyone; my husband calls it the armpit of the United States. So there it is, the place where I was most influenced and most effected, for better or worse. I remember a perfect day from my childhood, and even though I would not say there were few of these perfect, flawless days, I wonder sometimes if I fused several of them together in my mind, making the day brighter, longer, happier than it was actually. It was to be the first of what I like to call my God breath days. I have lived in four states on the east coast and have visited half a dozen more. There are some days even moments which come close to this atmospheric anomaly of which I write, but none have matched it. Perhaps because I experienced them in my youth, while fresh and free from the harness of practised, purposed sin, both mine and other's. Or perhaps they truly are the way I remember them, inherent only to the Jersey coastline in a broken little town called Bayville.

Regardless, I know them and I carry the thought of my God breath days at the end of every spring and the beginning of every autumn, wondering if hiding somewhere between the leaving warm winds and the coming cool breezes will there settle a place of complete balance between the two when the temperatures in that moment do not match my temperature but compliment it with mute grace. These are the days of my childhood when in a moment of running, and I was always running, I felt neither the cool wind against my arms or the warmth of the sun on my face. When, as I look back, I feel I could have been naked and completely comfortable being so, and not ashamed. As such, to me, these were the days of Adam and Eve, times when they walked in the wake of God's breath and knew neither mortality nor immorality. They knew life and loved it, having not the quiet, yet insistant, sensation of air against their flesh.

I have drempt of heaven, my heaven, the place where God will land me, once it's all over. It was full of green foilage and wood, foreign and strange, smelling of earth and strawberries. It was my heaven...at least on earth. For as His word says, Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the hearts of man, the things which God as set aside for them who love God. With that in mind, I tread very carefully. My dreams...my dreams are another matter entirely. ;)

aside~~~I was talking with my daughter the other day about clothes and Adam and Eve and them realizing they were naked after sinning and I didn't realize there was an assumption about the first man and woman in my daughter's mind until I corrected her about her own clothing. She said she was naked in a situation...and I thought about it and said, no you had on your underclothes. She crinkled up her nose and said, So when you say Adam and Eve were naked...you mean they weren't wearing anything at ALL? Not even socks? Oh that made me laugh~~~