What’s in your closet?

I spent a good chunk of yesterday cleaning out the
“toy closet.”

I haven’t had children at home for years.
Deep sigh …
followed by a leap for joy!
(Don’t judge, I am happy to have healthy, thriving, gainfully employed boys who’ve grown into men.)

I’m reclaiming all the real estate in my house previously dedicated to storing their paraphernalia.
I will no longer keep art projects from grade school,
football cleats from high school or dental models of lost retainers.

Yesterday, I cleared the last bastion of their territory … the toy closet.
Toys spanning the decades spilled out to be sorted and bagged up

in preparation of their move to someone else’s home.

Candyland, all the chess boards and the Monopoly game … out.
Beanie Babies, action figures and matchbox cars … out.
Glitter pens, coloring books and the potholder loom …  out.
Puzzles, sidewalk chalk and the abacus no one ever knew how to use … out!

Can I just tell you, it’s liberating.
I am giddy with glee!

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Skipping Mother’s Day

I miss my mom even though
it’s been nearly two decades since she died.

Time has mitigated the intense pain of the loss
but Mother’s Day is a sharp reminder of her earthly departure.

I miss her touch, her laugh, the smell of her perfume and
the way her hands enhanced every conversation. 

She never cooked or gardened or scrap-booked,
 but she taught me how to solve problems,
contend for big dreams, and
be kind to others.

She was my lifeline when I was discouraged and
my anchor when I was successful. 

She held me close when I was small and
she let me go when I was grown.

Now that she is gone, the very presence of her absence
is a constant reminder of how much I miss my mom.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner.
Everywhere you turn, there are reminders of it.
It’s a $20 billion holiday!

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Are You Hiding Secrets?

Secrets rarely stay secret forever.

In the aftermath of Prince’s death, some pretty ugly rumors have surfaced.
Just like they did when Elvis died and when Michael Jackson died.

The very private lives of the deceased are no longer sacred.

The same is true of us.

When we die,
the hidden things will get exposed.

Our journals,
Our dresser drawers,
Our computer history,
Our credit card balances,
Every corner of every closet will be exposed.

Loved ones and strangers will sift and sort and dig and
ultimately judge us by the contents of our treasures and our trash.

I know this because I have been the one to sift and sort through the
 stacks and shelves of dead men’s things.  

I have buried many who were close to me.

They all left behind stuff that tells a story about the way they lived.
The choices they made.
The secrets they kept.

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Asking for Help is NOT a Sign of Weakness.

 

My Hot & Hunky Hubz was a gear-head.
Restoring old cars was therapeutic for Jay.

Girls, our garage looked like an auto repair shop!
Big tool chests lined the back wall.
Wrenches and widgets hung on pegboard wall to wall.
Shelves and shelves of solvents and solutions were propped up by
decades worth of car magazines and manuals.
A fat red compressor as tall as me hissed and clicked next to
huge welders accessorized by heavy metal masks and thick gloves.
There was a sandblasting stall that doubled as a painting bay.
Jay reserved one stall inside his precious space to park my car but

the rest of the building was all man cave. 

One day, shortly after Hot & Hunky died,
my car wouldn’t start.

Naturally, I called a tow truck.
After a short wait, a big truck backed up the driveway.

Beep… Beep… Beep… 

Out jumped a Burly Man.
“Thanks for coming so quickly. My car is in the garage and it won’t start.”

“Ok, Lady, let’s have a look,”
said Burly Man as we walked toward the garage.

When I swung open the garage door, Burly Man stopped in his tracks.

“Is this a joke, Lady?” he asked as he looked around.

“No! The car really… won’t … start ….”

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There Are Seasons For Everything

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There are seasons for everything.

That can be good news if you’re in the midst of a nasty one.

But what if you like where you are?

It is my experience that changes are not always welcome.

When my boy completed his training as a fire fighter in Charleston, S.C.,
he called to tell me about the details of his graduation ceremony.
He was ecstatic.
It made the fact that he lived 1000 miles away
almost worth it to know
we’d finally be celebrating his dream of becoming a firefighter.

“Mom,” he said excitedly, “The Chief will there to present my diploma personally. 
She’ll shake my hand and give me my official badge. 
I’m even allowed to ask someone to walk on the stage with me!
It’s supposed to be a person of importance. 
A person who has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a firefighter.”

I waited for it.

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What Do You Do When You Lose Out?

business woman holding a poster with a painted face on it instead of a face, the concept of duplicity in business

I just found out that I lost out!

 I missed out on a big speaking job that I really wanted. 
I thought I had a good shot at it. 
I was qualified and available.
My fee range was well within their honorarium budget.
 It was easy driving distance to the venue.
I had a great rapport with the event planner. 
But, I didn’t get the gig.
Someone else will be speaking there next year.

Ugh.
The disappointment.

For the rest of the day, I was down in the dumps.
I didn’t engage with other potential clients via phone or email.
Who would hire me? was the recording playing in my head.
I even had writer’s block.
But then, who would read my stuff anyway? I thought to myself.
I tried to cheer up, but I just couldn’t seem to rally.

Does that ever happen to you?

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Goodness, God, What are you up to?

Do you celebrate God’s goodness?
God’s goodness doesn’t look like I wanted thought it would.

Like you, I’ve had several commissionings from God.
He called me to be his own.
Hurrah!
He called me to be a wife.

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.
He called me to be a mom.

Hip Hip Hurrah!
He called me into the workforce.

Hurrah!

Even when faced with obstacles and obstinance,
I embraced those callings with alacrity and joy.

Trust rock

Now… 

I KNOW God has called me to a ministry of writing and speaking.

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God’s Promises for Life’s Problems

In light of recent terrorist attacks at home and abroad, I wonder if you’re rethinking your concert attendance, your vacation destination, or your trip to the movies.

Even if you’re confident that danger is far off, challenges and crisis happen all the time.
I’m not talking about inconveniences like a car that won’t start or a long line at the post office.

I’m talking about the shocking, heartbreaking, disturbing bombshells.

  • The marriage is over.
  • The job ends.
  • The car’s wrecked.
  • The money’s gone.
  • The diagnoses is pronounced
  • The man of your dreams dies
    …and your life, like mine was, is irrevocably changed or altered in a way you don’t deserve.

Robyn and Almida gravesideWhen it happens to you there are two immediate and visceral reactions.

The first is NO!

You don’t like it, you don’t want it, and you don’t agree with it. 

Just NO!

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Take on Kindness Today.

Paper people holding handsToday I am thinking of things I am specifically thankful for.
What’s on your list?

I have the usual stuff – health, home, hubz, hunky man-children.  But also electric lights and curling irons, hot and cold running water on demand, and appliances that ease and expedite my life.  For moms and dads and cars that start.  For air conditioning and forced air heat.  I’m thankful that I live in a country that stands for freedom.  I can vote, continue my education and go to stores or movies without real fear of being blown up, hijacked or sold into slavery.

But my life has not been without tragedy. As a woman who has suffered loss, I will tell you it’s the kindness of friends and strangers alike that helped me make it through long seasons of sorrow. Most were followers of Jesus, but others were not.  All of them shared my burden of grief.  Their kindnesses helped make me well and whole and happy again.

And I am thankful.

Kindness is a universal language.  

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WHEN A PLAYBOY BUNNY JOINS BIBLE STUDY Guest post from Shannon Popkin

She wasn’t still a Playboy Bunny when she joined. But she wasn’t yet a regular Bible Study girl, either. She was climbing from one world into the other. And sometimes that’s tricky.

The Widow Wore Pink Hard Cover Book SmallEven though Robyn Dykstra is my friend, I hadn’t heard her story before I read her newly released memoir: The Widow Wore Pink. I never would have pictured her as a Playboy Bunny. I only knew her as a Christian speaker, a godly woman, and a kind friend.

It was so interesting (and also funny!) to gain her perspective, as she segued from her atheist/feminist/intellectual background into the world I’m far more familiar with–Bible study and church ladies.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite parts of the book:

Jake’s head was on my shoulder, he was dry, fed and burped, well on his way to sleep. I had one hand on his perfectly shaped head and the other supporting his little bottom. Moonlight was cascading through the bedroom window, refracting off the snow and lighting the warm room in the quiet house. How does a woman like me end up here? I wondered. I have a husband who loves me, a fine house, and a healthy baby boy. 

It was exactly then that I heard the voice of God and he said, “Robyn, what are you going to tell your son about me?” The masculine voice spoke gently but with complete authority. There was no condemnation, but there was a question–and an answer was required.

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