A boy becomes…

A tribute to my son on graduation day, 2015.

A boy becomes…

Carter: named after your great, great gran-daddy, Carter Mayfield, born in the hot sultry south of Arkansas in the late summer of 1889. 107 years later, in the cold and frozen February of Northern Minnesota, came our Carter. He is named Carter for no other reason than my grandma, who I love very much, said one day in her sweet familiar southern drawl, “I sure wish one of you girls, if you end up having a boy, would name him Carter, after my daddy.” I needed no further convincing.

The Lord appointed me a son…and I am filled with awe.  When a son enters your world, you enter into something unknown, for girls never want to be boys.  Growing up, boys were funny and interesting, gross and dirty, mean and sometimes sweet.  They make girls nervous and silly.  Their lives tell a story intertwined with yours from where they originated… and they become.  So God sent a son to attach to a deep part within me….dark, warm, quiet….with the sound of water and the beat of red, love-shaped flesh. For 270 some odd days it sounded like this….woosh…woosh…woosh… while he was becoming… being formed like clay by the hand of the Potter, intricately and skillfully woven together like the art of the Master Weaver creating a workmanship…that only Carter could become. But then one day  the safe woosh of water and heart were drowned out by bright lights and loud voices and he was afraid…until a strong and gentle hand laid him on warm skin and he heard the the woosh…. again. The two who had become one took home the boy so he could keep becoming.  He had already become a brother….to two girls……familiar voices that talked to him… touched him in awe and wonder at something so tiny…a toddler’s sticky lips would gently kiss this brother of hers….. becoming.  There were bigger hands, too….. holding, teaching, changing…helping the mama…..they too, appointed to help him become….  and when he was afraid, sisters were safe.  One day the mama’s heart heard the Voice without sound say, take the three to church so they can become….and so the two who were one, took the boy and his sisters to church and his tiny ears heard stories about God and Jesus His son…..with other kids who were becoming.  After that the mama would take the boy and his sister on long walks and tell them about God and Jesus and heaven. And the two little ones would ask their mama when they could see God and when they could go to heaven….because they really wanted to go….and while mama pondered all these things in her heart, angels listened  in wonder at conversations between children and mothers about God and things in which those angels longed to look….When it was time for the boy to go to school and learn things like children do so they can become… the boy was afraid, and he was learning that part of becoming was being afraid…..so the sister gently took his hand and walked him to a room with other kids so he could learn and become for a season of color, and of white, and of wind and rain and green….every day…..holding his hand…….so he wouldn’t be afraid.  Sometimes at night, the boy was afraid and mama would kneel at his bed and softly pray, “Lord Jesus, let him become like You, quiet and gentle at heart….full of wisdom, serving and caring for others, leading them well…..and the boy would go to sleep, and while he slept he would grow and become.  Mama did this night after night… Mama was always mostly in the kitchen….but in between faucets running and skillets sautéing……and oils frying and knives dicing……she could hear off in the distance sounds of gunfire and wounded plastic guys falling….and light sabers clashing.  Once in a while she would peek into a world of castles and knights in armor being built in living rooms and scattered through hallways…..and she marveled at her small boy becoming.  And then one day legos and cars and Lukes and Darth Vaders were put into boxes……and though mama’s heart felt empty and she stopped to catch her breath …..she knew her boy must keep becoming.  The two who were one often brought home balls and clubs and bats that might help the boy become….but God said, “ I fashioned his fingers for stringed instruments…..to play and to strum out a rhythm I have woven into his heart…..and it will break-forth into song…….and so the boy strummed and played and sang with all of that stuff God wove into his heart.  And then one day inside that old familiar church, where he had been becoming…..the boy said to his mama, “I want Jesus…” and so right there, the boy and his mom prayed inside those familiar doors… and sounds… and songs….and Mike…… … and the boy told Jesus, he wanted Him.  Then hand in hand mama and son walked up to a table and broke bread and drank wine……and God said, “and now into the likeness of my Son you must become….”

And the boy played that guitar with all of his heart to other kids who were becoming like Jesus…..and he decided to once again, take the hand of his sister and be brave in front of all those kids, and be led into a tub filled with water in that old familiar church.  Dunked with his sister at his side…and to put on display his desire to follow Jesus….and angels cheered. The boy became a teenager and some of those same kids with tiny ears that listened to stories about God, together wide-eyed and side by side, were together again in a basement writing music, banging on drums, and singing into microphones…shaking windows.  And mama would sneak into the well of the stairs to watch and to listen while things were frying and boiling …..and mom would sing along and dance….in the kitchen, to teenage boys becoming.

One day the boy went to work and he worked so hard he thought he would die.  Everything hurt and he begged his mom to not make him go back the next day…..his mom sat next to him on his bed and said, you must go back, for you must keep becoming……and God was watching……for He had a Son who knew the ache and the weary of hard work…..framing houses for people to live and become. And the boy learned to work hard, and know this too, is from God, in order for him to keep becoming.   And the boy kept singing and strumming…… loud from the basement, and mom would listen and tears would spill down her cheeks in wonderment at God’s design… and she prayed….. “for You, Lord, let it be for You…for Your glory, that he becomes…”

And the boy kept becoming with the voice of his dad now……There were conversations in kitchens about God-chasing… and fear… and idols…. and decisions to be made….. and that boy and his mom prayed about these things, while angels listened and watched that boy becoming….

And then the day finally came when it was time to shut the door on the building where the same faces gathered each year for those old familiar seasons of color and white and wind and rain and green…and the boy was afraid…..and the two who were one sat at the side of his bed and prayed, that God would show him how to keep becoming….and the young man who had become so much more than his mama could ever dream or ask for safely went to sleep.  “I will never leave you or forsake you…and I will complete the good work I started in you.” (Hebrews 5:8, Philippians 1:6)

don’t live tomorrow today….

The following blog was inspired by four different sources intricately woven together and thoughtfully sorted through over the last few days….1) I am desperately trying to stay in tune with my emotions as I enter into my empty nest season and so I am reflecting a lot. 2) I had a conversation with my younger sister yesterday and we talked about these things. 3) I had the gift of sweet prayer time with one of my most cherished friends this morning, whose kids I get to pray for and sometimes even lug around her youngest with me. 4) Ann Voskamp greatly inspires me in my writing.

So here you go:

Don’t try and live tomorrow today…

If there is any experienced advice, any humble wisdom to be passed on, any truth to speak into an anxious Mama’s heart, it would be this…don’t live tomorrow today….  Living tomorrow today robs. Living tomorrow today breeds anxiety, performance, worry, fear. Living tomorrow today teaches children to grow up and be somebody tomorrow while stealing from them who they are today. Living tomorrow today steals joy…quiet locked eyes ….windows into love….the study of a dimple….curves of eyelashes, and tracing a mole or string of freckles….a mark of you now stamped on them.  Living tomorrow today hears a distant quiet question playing on repeat…. drowned out by tomorrow and leaves a conversation of curious forgotten…why do spiders have webs? Who feeds the animals? And when can I see God?  Can I sell marshmallows to the neighbors?  Why are you mad, mom? And questions that find their answers in the patience of a five year-old’s daily check-in with a tightly wrapped cocoon…..who somehow understands  the innocent secret of not rushing God…. Waiting for wings… Living tomorrow today won’t remember trufulla trees and Loraxes….every.single.night….all 365 of them.  Living tomorrow today takes prayer into the future instead of the present.  Living tomorrow today makes you crave instead of not wanting.  Living tomorrow today demands answers…..that today can’t rest in. Living tomorrow today doesn’t hear….see….touch….taste or smell…. NOW. Living tomorrow today can’t leave dishes for tomorrow or laundry for another day….trading it in for a walk to the pond just to hear the song of the bullfrog, or trace God’s outline of black and yellow lines against orange on the belly of a turtle.  Living tomorrow today doesn’t race in a blizzard….and stare in wonder at gigantic woven flakes of cold white….or create the smell-memory of butter mixed with sugar and vanilla  welcoming a tired third-grader on a chilly fall day at four.  Living tomorrow today doesn’t enter into six year old giggles and 4 year old meltdowns….and stir pancakes together.  Living tomorrow today can’t become… and be shaped in the moment…because it looks to a picture of having become something tomorrow sells.  It doesn’t watch the ant tunnel, or strawberries turn red, or watch blooms awaken and slowly unfold in warmth and glow….or hummingbirds hover…it doesn’t hear the worship song of the cardinal, or see the dance of the willow tree…..or smell the wind.  It doesn’t say goodnight to tired skies being gently tucked in by God in glowing blankets of purple and pink….and how will it ever find out if your five year old likes butter by the reflection of a weed on his milky white chin?  Living tomorrow today doesn’t leave grass stains and dirt and popsicle drips resting on piles….so it can snap smiles….for pictures in frames.  It misses bike rides in pajamas through snoring neighborhoods under curious stars.  It doesn’t see God in handprints on windows…..and toothpaste on countertops and rings in bathtubs…..it misses conversations with 14,15,16,17,18 and 19 year olds when terrified of tomorrow need you  today….Tomorrow reaches when today teaches….the humble amazement and wonder of God’s Father-heart.  “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you be being worried can add a single hour to his life?  ……do not worry then, saying, What will we eat? or what will we drink?  or what will we wear for clothing?  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself…” Matthew 6:25-34.

my garage needs a good cleaning…but don’t mess with my heart.

My garage needs a good cleaning.  You would think after just having a graduation party two years ago….it wouldn’t need this big of a cleaning, but it does.

Welcome to my garage: aka, the dumping place for everything we don’t want to bring into the house, and everything we want to get out of the house. Right now it currently houses two oversized tube t.v.’s, our very first mattress and box-spring purchased from an estate sale back in 1992, boxes that belong to our oldest child who hasn’t lived with us since 2011, bikes, golf clubs, tools rarely used, antique beer signs, etc…along with everything else that is not allowed in the house and everything else already taken out of the house that is forbidden to re-enter.  There is always an unachieved plan for the “don’t bring it in!” and the “get it out!” things.  A plan to take them to a better place.  Where they will be happy.  Or at least I will be happy for never having to see them again.  But the clutter continues to build….as salt-stained boxes teeter on top coolers and pieces of furniture from another time awaiting new life.  Leaves continue to blow in and out, small sandbars form in dark oily corners, salt and grime accumulate on the floor under things, around things, and on things, leaving the boxes stained, dirty and broken down…with the bottom about to drop out.  And if we are honest, this is a picture of our hearts. Yeah, sometimes it feels like the bottom is about to drop out of the cluttered messes of our lives and hearts…….

We have now neglected this overwhelming accumulation in our garage so long, we still have graduation decorations mysteriously blowing in the wind, desperately clinging to the ceiling where they have been push-pinned to from the last kid who graduated. A bit faded, but hey, congrats to the next one in three weeks! Tiny shiny blue stars have made there way into the landscaping over the course of a determined two year journey from garage to just around the corner of the garage, and alongside the back of the house….somehow surviving 30 below winters, and 100 degree heat-waves of summer. Congratulations to them.  And, if clothes can be hand-me-downs, why not the now dull, once gleaming “Congratulations Graduate” sign?  This is my garage.  Welcome to my dumping ground where moved out children’s things still linger in the salt of winter’s past…and graduation decorations still blow as one season ushers in another… and if I stand there staring long enough…. at those things….in the garage….. memories begin to surface from within those un- insulated four walls…a place where haunting echoes of 80’s music barely blares to the rhythm of waxing a car…extra-long guitar solos from the calloused fingers of  long-haired rockstars and the scent of turtle wax drift off…..  I can hear voices now…..agitated voices hiding from children but exposing feelings in full at one another…. (garages are good for hidden arguments and and full on marital wars)…they too fade, floating away in a sea of selfish anger and blame ….and the sound of whispers and giggles in between stolen kisses now….two teenagers in the silent black before dawn ….cautious, yet carefree…..trying not to interrupt the slumber of two 40 year old heads pressed deep into down fluffiness….unaware parents.  This is my garage, and things have happened here. Some good and memorable, like the 80’s music that somehow made the old ride come to life.  Or the barely strips of sticky tape where lines were once laid on cement so my daughter could practice walking again after brain injury.  And then some bad, like unseen word weapons landing on and penetrating an already wounded heart. This extension of our home has housed small animals in shoeboxes, and fed strays….. but it has also housed things that moth and rust destroy…..and it has become bitter, bitter cold in the dead of winter.  And now it must be cleaned for yet another celebration. The junk has to go, the broken boxes need burning…

And just like this old cluttered garage…I can’t help but think it somehow represents our hearts.  Oh how we can hold onto “things” in our hearts.  We can stack them up and make them look organized all we want….we can even make sin look organized….so it doesn’t seem so, well “sinful.”  We will just tidy it up, without really getting rid of it….like gossip…I’ll just put that in my small group box….no one will see it over in this corner.  Or self-performance….I’ll store it in my ministry box over in this corner, for under the guise of ministry it won’t look like sin……or bitterness toward church leadership….I can stack that up in a box and label it “concern for our church”…. or judgment toward brothers and sisters in Christ….I’ll box that one up and label it “other people’s sin.” But all too soon, the boxes neatly tucked away in the corners of our cold hearts become too weighed down, battered over time….and the bottom is about to give way.  We become burdened with our sin and we don’t even recognize it as sin.  It’s just the stuff of life that accumulates over time in our hearts.  We tell ourselves there isn’t anything wrong with holding onto it….I mean, there really isn’t any sense in getting rid of it.  After all, we’ve become comfortable with the cluttered garages of our hearts, dark and dingy and overflowing with unwanted stuff as they may be.  But if we listen long enough……standing in the center of our own hearts…..we will see and hear things that need to go. We will see and hear things that need to stay. And then we know….the good things that need to stay are there because Jesus is there….He’s been there a long while now standing in the middle of it with us, and he’s looking at all those boxes that need to go…..and in a flood of mercy and kindness He motions toward the cross…. and so one by one we carry our bottomed-out boxes to Him…..taking with us words….weak, broken words….take my gossip, my self-performance, my judgmental heart, my pride.  And faithfully He takes from us the weight of those beaten and worn boxes and cleanses the dark corners of our hearts with a downpour of grace that floods in and washes away our sin, right down to the dirty oil stains that we could never scrub away in full….and now we can unashamedly CELEBRATE!  Our hearts are clean, the burden of sin is gone, no more stacking…hiding….organizing away in neat little corners. Once again, Grace has entered in…..and we dance with delight and celebrate a grace we do not deserve.

to display His splendor…

So I got this gift once.  I never expected it.  Never wished for it.  It never floated in….or out. And I could never have prepared myself for it.  One day God said, “this will display my splendor and make Me glorious in the absence of glory…” and it fell…hard…on me…one day.  Brain injury entered our lives nine years ago when our daughter’s car met that tree.  The tree that for years bore the marks of change. Good change.  Glorious change.  But this post is not about brain injury…because there is nothing glorious in brain injury itself.  It is only God who is glorious in it.  Brain injury bears the marks of the fall…and an anguished groaning longing for restoration.  I heard the whisper the other day, “to display my splendor...” and my soul bowed in the presence of love.  Brain injury requires much.  Brain injury requires humility on both ends.  Both the brain injured and the one who loves the brain injured.   And so it is…and so it goes.  And so I go… into it. Some days filled with an unseen energy…other days, afflicted with exhaustion.  It was on the latter day I heard the whisper from the Voice without sound…”to display My splendor.”  Why?  Why is ok when we ask why in a way that draws you into a deeper knowledge of God.  An intimate knowledge of Jesus.  The “why?” that seeks an answer that steadies you.  Not the “why?” that feeds into bitterness, or flames self-promotion, or satisfies a betrayed heart…or offers temporary satisfaction that pacifies the self.  No, I’m writing, thinking, praying about the “why?” that comes after a full surrender to God’s sovereignty in your life, that has bowed to the Hand stretched over you, fully just.  Even when that sovereignty feels like severe mercy.  If we feel this.  If we know it.  We know the cross.  Not the “why me?  Why did this happen to me?  Why do I have to go through this?  But the “why NOT me?” When this has become your “why” question, you are safe to search the revealed mysteries of a holy God…“why not me?”  And you hear the whisper, as I did…a soft whisper, in between sigh-filled breaths, too tired to enter into another conversation that repeats…with every visit.  Too physically exhausted to go and serve in ways that lighten her load, but add to mine…the whisper, “to display My splendor…”  A whisper set against the background lazy afternoon song of the cardinal…he too is displaying His splendor…and why not?  It is what he was created for in his fiery blood red feathers…with a proud crown atop his head…and you catch a glimpse of glory, fire-red splendor.  And so it is, like my eyes that land on the beauty of the cardinal in all of God’s splendor, set against blue interrupted by white, I too, get to share in a glimpse of this glory as my overwhelmed mind, and tired body rise to move in sync with Him to display His splendor.  Today, on this day, when my soul was quieted by His tender voice…to display My splendor…had nothing to do with Him granting me that I would somehow find joy in it.  That He would somehow make it easier, and it would turn into a sort of mother-daughter type fun.  And I think to myself, I know I am supposed to try harder in these opportunities…moments of joy can be found if searched for hard enough.  In the middle of the empty search, something was about to flood in.  I had gotten it wrong.  Yet, somehow…it was all sweetly familiar, since He has become so very familiar, as He has taught and I have learned, to go low in the dark quiet hours of the morning, often before light greets the earth…to hear His secret counsel…why not me?  The question, again, floated in…and at that moment in time, splendor erupted in full…the answer came as if my soul knew it all along, but this time, it took root, deep…deep into the riches of Christ’s massive – unchanging love…because people will never bring you joy.  They weren’t created for that.  GOD BRINGS JOY! Wait…but does God just bring joy?  We have to be careful not to let that word “bring” separate God from joy.  I mean, we pray…we pray for God to restore our joy.  Maybe you are depressed…maybe there is sin that has robbed your joy…maybe your to do list has robbed your joy…maybe a person has robbed your joy…or so you think.  And all of this is theologically impossible.  Why?  Because GOD IS YOUR JOY!  GOD IS MY JOY!  Jesus, Himself, came to give us Himself that we would have abundant life and our joy would be full!  Would be full in Him!  And we echo the heart of the psalter, “In your presence is FULLNESS of joy…(psalm 16:11).  HE IS THE JOY!  It’s not like a box, with a shiny crinkle, delightful to the eye, that only comes a few times a year.  Don’t separate it like that.  God doesn’t think to Himself, Trish is running low on joy today, I’m going to wrap up my joy and place it before her so that she will delight more in the things I give to her.  NO.  He says, “I’m going to give her more of MYSELF today…and in that joy she will exult for she will exult in her God and display my glorious splendor.”

“Whom have I in heaven but You, and besides You I desire nothing on earth.” Psalm 73:25

83 seconds from walmart

Im not that techy and so I was trying to find where I post in the “about me” section…just in case you want to know more about the person behind the random thoughts and words…but I suspect it will take me quite a while to figure this thing out.  I hope to share other blogs, videos, books, etc…when I get rolling, God willing, but for now lets talk about 83 seconds from Walmart…

83 Seconds From Walmart

I am a 45 year-old stay-at-home wife and mom.  I am married to my best friend, my goose…or Eric, but mostly I will refer to him as my best friend, or the goose.  So, I was reading once about geese and how they mate for life, and things like when one dies, often the other one will lay down to die with it, or remain single the rest of its life…and so it is here in this earthly love we share and have committed ourselves to.  He is my goose and I am his.  We have now lived more years together than we have apart.  When you pass that mark, it somehow steadies you and you begin to believe what you’ve fought for all these years and realize its worth the fight, and that neither one is going anywhere…and only because Christ holds this union of two sinners together.  We have three grown children now.  I’ll write about them, too.  I wanted five kids and God gave me three.  Yep, He knew right when He wanted our nest to be empty and here we are.  I wanted to live on a hobby farm and instead I live 83 seconds from Walmart in small town suburbia.  Convenient, but I still want chickens.  I mean, 83 seconds from Walmart works when insidious chocolate cravings override reason.  I even have a picture of cookie dough on facebook to prove it.  What else?  My favorite place is early in the morning when Jesus beckons my heart to meet with Him.  There really isn’t anything better than this.  It is a place where I get low on this Holy ground in my home office.  A place He has invaded…heavy.  It is a place of weeping, rejoicing, groaning, singing, pouring out my heart and intimately conversing with my Savior who called me to life in Him.  Yup, my favorite place.  So He fills my heart and maybe the overflow will somehow make its way down to my fingertips and spill out on the screen of this blog.  Maybe.  If it makes you more curious about Him than me, I’ll write more…God willing. Oh yeah, then there’s floaters…. Sometimes I will write about “floaters” or I guess you could call them”wish-thoughts” but I just call them floaters because they are thoughts that randomly float in and out of my head….you know thoughts that start with “I wish…”  So back to the farm I always wanted…I call it the “floating farm” because that’s what it does…floats in….and out.  There is also a floating garden and I see me out there…me in a hat, barefoot in a long flowing dress standing on dirt.  Except I don’t own a long flowing dress.  And the goose reminds me that I’m not Carolyn Ingalls.  He’s right…Carolyn never owned an extra-wide pair of Asics so she could run 7 miles….or at least run to Walmart.  I do love to run. looooooong runs taking in as much of God’s handiwork as I can…its a beautiful time of worship and prayer for me.  If you drive by and see me with my hands doing a weird thing or one suspended in the air….well, now you know… yep, worship…plus its often where I write.  I wish for a lot of things…and when you look at the economic plane of our marriage, you will see that it is made up of two parts…one part saver, one part spender.  Guess whose, who?  Oh yeah, remind me to add the long flowing skirt to my list…..83 seconds from walmart is good for lists, too…especially when you forget your list….or when you forget items on your list…83 seconds is good when the walmart greeter has seen you three times in one day.  I also wished I named my middle daughter’s middle name, Rain….because I love rain. I love the smell of it and I love the sound of it…marching…out of sync….on my roof…..but my best friend said no, he said it sounded to hippie-ish.  Once I asked her if we could change it (her middle name) and I didn’t think she would ever forgive me….so serious that one…..she is our little bird.  Recently, I like to think of her as my rain-bird….and I’ll write more about that in another post.  Back to the floating farm…sometimes, it shows up and hovers a while….and I think, maybe one day it will actually land under my feet and I’ll feel its soft mud squish between bare toes…and then I hear the Voice without sound say, in a shiver-whisper…”you long for the floating farm, because you are really longing for heaven and to be fully in My presence…”  and I realize one day these bare toes will land in heaven….and the farm fades……I’m sure it will float back in again from time to time, but for now 83 seconds from walmart is close enough to heaven for me.

More posts to come:

“The rain-bird calls her mama,” once it rained for five months on my little bird, and once it stormed for a year…i’ll share if she lets me.

“Sometimes the goose honks”

“His heart is wild with color,”  (a lyric from the band Rend Collective). This will be on those beautifully colored spectrum kids…you know the ones….autism, aspergers, Sensory Processing Disorder kids…yep, I have one of those, too.

“Brain injury laughs,” So God gave us brain injury to live with in my oldest daughter….the posts could be titled, “brain injury cries, or dies, or shows you Jesus…yep….those God would wound much, he uses much…either Chandler or Piper said that, I think.