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When Light Shines Out Dark

When Light Shines Out DarkWe walked hand in hand down Wright Avenue headed toward her home after a visit to the Five & Dime. I treasured my visits with Grandmom. Her hand was gnarly and warm, securing me somehow in decades of wisdom and life lived that I would not understand for many decades of my own. I guess on some level I knew her street of row homes was unsafe now, that her longtime homestead where she raised her family had become a place that sold dark—filled with poverty, broken families, addictions, violence, racial tensions, and a lack of hope.

But when Grandmom walked down that street, heads of all colors looked up and spoke reverently: “Hi, Mrs. H!”

And her response? She’d know them by name and say: “Hey, Willis, how is your mother doing?” She showed them respect.

From what I remember, she absolutely felt confused and disheartened by the changes on her street—maybe at times even a little scared (she’d been mugged twice in her elder years). But she absolutely chose to stay, to not tremble or cower, and…

…to love.

As we started approaching a scene of a young teen couple arguing, and the boyfriend was punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach, I remember my grandmother not shying away from it. She didn’t move to the other side of the street. She walked us right past them. I honestly can’t recall if she had words in those moments or not. She may have. But as she approached, the Light of Christ she carried with her was enough to settle down the violence going on. He looked as though he had been caught in something and wore a look of shame. I had never seen anything like it. I was not more than a 10 year old child at the time, but

that scene has never left me.

I have no idea what happened after we passed. He could have gone after my grandmother for witnessing that, but he didn’t. He could have justified his own behavior by continuing to beat his girlfriend. I really don’t know. What I do know is that he could not keep offending when my grandmother was on the street.

Could not.

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Dancing With Leprechauns and a Father Who Loves to Bestow Good Gifts

The other day I was in a local grocery store with my daughter. It was a few days before Saint Patrick’s Day, and the entire store was decked out in clovers and green décor. You could pick up clover cookies or a sparkly green cake from the bakery. Personally, I was hoping there was a pot of gold to be found. (After the energy bill this winter, I may as well throw my entire wallet to National Grid and be done with it!)

leprechaun-22We Bostonians are admittedly a bit obsessed with this holiday. I had a hard time talking with my son’s elementary school teacher the other day because she had this cute headband-Irish-hat-thingy on her head, and it bounced while she nodded. I could not thereafter form one coherent thought while looking at her. Not one. But we Irish (and partly Irish) peeps have to represent, after all!

As we turned the corner of the second-to-last aisle of the store, there he was. He was on the shorter side, sporting a red wig, leprechaun hat, green suit, belt, and shoes.

And I had to talk to him. Really, when you find a leprechaun roughly 2 feet away from you, how can you not greet him? (My tween offspring may beg to differ.)

But I didn’t just chat. Nope. Didn’t stop there.

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Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo

Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo
I am so thrilled to be able to once again feature my sweet friend Tammie here at Espressos of Faith. Tammie’s life first touched mine when we both resided on the tiny island of Kwajalein in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. During that time, Tammie and her husband Rick experienced unfathomable loss, and ever since, their lives have been on an amazing trajectory to healing, hope, and even joy again! Life will never be the same, and Tammie is extremely honest about their painful journey; she readily admits that some days are extremely difficult. But she has found purpose again, and her heart beats to bring healing to other grieving parents. She wants to share how she and her husband are finding their way again. In the process, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering, giving back to others in celebration of the life of their son. As passionate as they are about suicide prevention, they are equally driven to love those left behind as they open up their lives to us, sharing their source of love, comfort, hope, and promise.

Without further introduction, here’s Tammie…

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For those who are asking if that is really my tattoo: Yes, it’s true.

“What are you thinking? You are not the kind of person who would get a tattoo.”

“You have to be kidding! That is not your style.”

“You know what people think about tattoos? You will be judged as soon as they see it.”

“Well, if it will make you happy, then do it—but I would never do it.”

These are some of the responses I received when I shared my desire to get a tattoo as a tribute to my son Joshua. They were all very kind in the way that they said it, and I truly knew that they were trying to comprehend something that was just outside all of our comfort zones.

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Telling “You’re Not Worthy” Exactly Where It Can Go

Telling You're Not Worthy Where to GoA close friend and mentor of mine taught me this cute little phrase: “Go lick a shut-up-sicle!” Now, I realize that can be offensive, so I try not to say that to people, and if you’re offended by “shut up” in any context, maybe it’s best you stop reading. But I do believe there is a place for this little phrase, and I’ve more or less come to adore it. Even around my Moms’ Prayer table every other week, we’ve come to have more than one giggle about it.

Why?

Because we do have the right to say this to a few things in our lives, and one of them is that haunting, sneaky voice: “You’re not worthy.”

Here are some versions we can hear in our own minds:

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Be Still and Walk with Him Awhile 

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“’Be Still’ isn’t just for crisis mode.
That’s simply where we found it.
It is a new way of life, ensuring the health of our family.”

Today, I am so excited to be featured as a guest blogger at “The Urbane Flower.” My piece, “Be Still and Walk with Him Awhile,” can be found here.

Check out this uplifting blog site that my new friend Heather Gee put together!

I look forward to Heather guest-blogging here at “Espressos of Faith” very soon!

 

 

 

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When God Tucks Us In

HisGreatRest

Recently, I have been visiting my parents for a few days at a time in Amish Country. I wasn’t raised here. They moved here a few years ago. But I remember the days when Chester County, Pennsylvania, was similar in landscape: rolling hills of undisturbed cornfields and cows. My life in Boston is much more densely populated and busy. Horses and buggies are a welcomed sight after highways of minivans, Mercedes, and Land Rovers.

I have to admit: This started out as an idea of taking each child on a fun road trip, one at a time, to get some quality time with their grandparents, to make individual memories. But it also metamorphosed into more selfish reasons: Coming here is like a retreat, a respite. I could hole up here for weeks reading, writing, and conducting small amounts of business from an Adirondack chair facing farmland and Amish laundry hanging straight on a line. Peace and rest. Order. Clean air. Quiet countryside.

As I was trying to snuggle under some incredibly warm and enduring afghans from my childhood on my parents’ couch, my father came over and asked if I would like to be tucked in. He had seen that the afghans were slipping from the smooth leather couch onto the floor, and I clearly was in need of being wrapped like a bed burrito. He was happy to oblige.

Backing up a bit, Dad is recovering from bladder cancer. I guess a more accurate way of putting it is that he is recovering from bladder removal. Cancer has become his frequent, persistent, and most nagging companion over the course of 34 years. So not only is my recovering father tucking me in with his bladder bag saddled to the side, but he was caring for me, the one with fewer years and better health.

And it is a picture I simply cannot get out of my head.

Why?

Because God tucks us in that way. God is a Father Who loves this way. God offers protection under His wings, rest for our souls.

I’m 42, and my earthly father can still wrap me to sleep on the couch.

I’m 42, and I still desperately need my heavenly Father to wrap me in His shadow and under His wings.

I will never grow out of that need.

Neither will you.

And I love it.

The key is that we must remember that we are welcomed to be that child nestled under our Father’s strong arms and wings of protection. He loves having us there.

Mom actually made those afghans many years ago. In her own way, with those afghans, she comforted feverish children, covered chilly knees and feet on cold winter nights, brought warmth to a 44 year old man convalescing from radiation in 1981, kept the chill off the 95 year old matriarch of the family as she watched Lawrence Welk.

That afghan is family history from start to finish. It spans time and memories. It warms the soul and invites those needing the deepest of rest.

Like God, it knows our history and covers us in spite of it—when we trust Him and in Him.

Doesn’t that sound so inviting? So nourishing?

The verses that follow show the Truth of what God offers us, and it’s so much more than an aging, cozy afghan on a slippery couch.

It is ours just for crying out and being willing to submit to a Father in heaven Who wants to be our Loving Parent in the most significant and hope-filled of ways: forever.

May 2015 be the year these verses settle deeply into your hearts and minds—that you know how deep and wide and enduring the Father’s love is for you, and that you daily cry out for Him to tuck you into those promises when you come with the heart of a

trusting,

open,

eager

child.

Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus speaking, ESV
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Psalm 91:1-4, author unknown, possible Moses, ESV
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

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Dad’s story and tales of treks to Amish Country can also be found in “Waiting for the Telephone Call” and “Cows, Cornfields, and a Father Who Cares for It All.”

More stories of how tender a relationship God offers us through His Son Jesus can be found in the recently published Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

This blog has been shared at Christian Mommy Blogger and Pick Your Pin Tuesday.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving from Espressos of Faith!

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Happy (U.S.) Thanksgiving!

I truly appreciate those of you who regularly follow “Espressos of Faith” as well as those of you who stop by to check it out! You have made this blog what it is, and I’m thankful for you.

I’m going to make this short, since we are hopefully all with loved ones and/or taking some good rest and food to restore ourselves. For those of you working, blessings on your day, and thank you for working a holiday for others who do not have to work it this year.

Today, I am thankful for family and friends, for healing and things still in the process of healing, for a published book (Not Just on Sundays), and for all those who made that possible (editors, artist, photographer, book marketer, printer, pastor, readers, and people who encouraged and prayed me through).

I’m grateful for lessons learned and for places where God is working out my character and peeling off areas of pride and replacing them with areas where I hopefully rely more on Him. I am thankful for His Holy Word, which brings the only true wisdom to me in managing marriage, raising children, getting through challenges, fighting things that come against us, seeing blessings even in the valleys we walk through, and healing relationships.

This has been an intense year for our family for many reasons, and I’m so thankful for lessons learned—sometimes painful—in the valley, where answers still were not on the horizon, and all we had was faith in things unseen. I’m grateful both for the people who walked through the valley with us as well as those currently in a valley of their own who allowed me in to hold their hands for a while.

Hebrews 11:1, Author unknown but he is recording the words of God, ESV 
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

We are thankful for the warm hand of Jesus in ours as each step we take—in work, our families, and our faith—is often uncertain, except for with Whom we are walking.

May you know the peace, rest, love, grace, mercy, and incredibly deep love of Christ this Thanksgiving and always!

Grateful for you,
Bonnie

[Did I mention I’m also thankful for chocolate-covered pretzels? And pie! 🙂 ]

 

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