Thursday, August 28, 2014

Passports bearing His mark--A reboot

I've been quite sick this week with the crud that Beve's brother brought over on the plane from Finland, passed to Beve, who passed it to J, who passed it to me. Thank you, men, very much.

I'm still coughing up half a lung (not really--I don't mean to offend those who really face more horrible lung diseases than this blasted cold/cough), and yesterday my brain was barely working. I wrote my siblings and there were so many typos in my writing, I should have skipped it. And I didn't even try to write anything original. I won't try today either.

Instead, here's a reboot of a post written two years ago. If you put 17 years in place of 15 years in it, most of what I say remains the same. You'll see. It was a Wednesday morning, like yesterday was. 17 years ago yesterday. Yes, the month of August hasn't been a good anniversary month for our family.

I didn't know I'd write about this today. Then again, having tried not to, I should have guessed. I'm a marker of passages. I know dates like I have a calendar full of sticky-notes in my head, date after date when things happened. Some big, some not so, some two at once.

Fifteen years ago yesterday I said goodnight to my dad, walked down a hill to a motel where I crawled into bed beside my sister, listened to our mother snore in the bed beside us, was awakened in the middle of the night by the strange knowledge that the door to our room was ajar. Barely got any sleep (I did laugh hysterically at my sister at that moment in the wee hours when she got up to check the hallway, flipped the light on and off and on and off...like she was trying to beat the speed of light back to bed!).
It was not an ordinary night, of course. Our dad was lying in a hospital ICU. But he'd been himself when we left him the night before. He'd said goodnight and 'see you in the morning,' and nothing anyone could tell us made us think that those words were any different than the hundred thousand goodnights he'd said all our lives.

But fifteen years ago today, I woke up to a world where he was already half-way to heaven. By the time my sister and I walked back up the hill to that hospital, his blood had spilled and his heart had slowed and our lives were changed. For good.

I've been thinking of how strange it is to have lived 15 years beyond his life. To have raised my children to adulthood without ever talking to him about their college choices, their professional opportunities, their dreams and hopes and visions. Without talking to him of my own. His voice was the most clear and rational voice in my life, the one I could trust to see me without blinders but encourage me to be my true self. To think of not hearing his voice in all these years...how can that have been?

I can no longer hear his voice, you know. Now and then I hear a single word reminds me, but not his full voice. And I don't know what he'd look like as an old man. But, as I wrote my siblings today, if I heard his voice right now, I'd recognize it, and if I saw him in a crowd I'd know his face.  That's how well I knew him, how certain I am of who he is...and how much I still miss him. Even after all this time.

However.
We lose those we love. That's the truth of this life. Just today a young woman told me, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost my parents."  The thing is, sweetie, I wanted to tell her, it's not a question of 'if' but of 'when.'  People stop living on this earth. Others I know, when writing a message about someone who's died, use the acronym--R.I.P.  Rest In Peace. This is not a phrase that comforts me, nor can I really understand how it can comfort anyone. The last thing I want to believe is that those I love are endlessly resting, like they're in some kind of eternal coma...

No, what comforts me is the knowledge that life continues. But it doesn't merely comfort like someone is comforted by the idea by a fairy tale ending after a terrible climax to a story. The glory in the story about those who believe--like my beloved Dad--is that where they have gone is where they were meant to be, to their true home. "We are citizens of heaven," we're reminded by Paul. We may get our passports the day we're stamped with His blood, but we don't get to pass the borders to His land until we stop breathing the polluted air of this world and take a deep drought of the fresh air of Heaven.  Think for a moment of how it feels to enter your home country when you've been away. You suddenly have all the rights and privileges of that citizenship, are free to move around, to do and say and BE what you were made to be.  No visa required. No work permit necessary. You simply get to come in, stay, because you belong. That's what heaven will be like for us. Beyond all the unbelievable joy at being with HIM and amazing fellowship of being with all the others who love Him, will be this rich contentment that we are home at last.

So as I say goodnight to this 15th anniversary of my father's death, I'm imagining how content he is in God's heavenly Kingdom now. But I'm also being reminded--right this moment as I type these words--that I'm in the Kingdom too. Dad and I still live in the same Kingdom. We still have the same citizenship and carry passports bearing the mark of Jesus.  Yes, I've lived a long time without him now. And I'd still give a whole lot to have another conversation--and that strong welcoming hug--with my dad.

But that's for me, not for him.
I think he's waving his meaty hand at me at my silliness anyway, "Don't you know that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years a day?" I imagine him asking.
"Time is immaterial now. You'll understand soon enough.
Relax.  You'll be fine. You already are fine. But you have to go now."
That's what I imagine him saying.
And on the day I pass that border, he'll be part of the throng around the Throne.  I'll delight in seeing him...well, when I get around to noticing...
because I'm guessing it'll be a long time before I can take my eyes off the ONE I finally see face to face.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Going Home

My mother died 4 years ago today. It's not always easy for me to pay homage to my mother. But today is a good day to do so. I was her first daughter and she loved me. She never expected to have a daughter. She never actually wanted one. She thought that because she was tall, rather  and not very interested in girly things she wouldn't be a good mother of  
little girls.
And she didn't raise me or my younger sisters to be 
girly-girls either 
(though I have to say, I couldn't have stopped MY 
younger daughter from being a 'girly-girl no matter what!).


After one son, my mother had three daughters 
in pretty short order. 
Three daughters she dressed alike,
in dresses she made herself. 
We didn't value those look-alike clothes.

But we knew she loved it
and when we were older,
managed to enjoy
(or mock?)
what she so loved.


We took so many pictures together--
with Mom on our way to places, or just for the heck of it,
(I'm the shortest one, by the way, shortest and oldest. How do you like dem apples?)

Sometimes posed (with our daughters wearing matching clothes),

Sometimes merely lined up haphazardly like the flock of Crains we are.

Even at the end, 
 the photographer had to use all the tricks of his trade to get her to look at him
like she was the little-girl mother we'd come to know,
we were still lining up for pictures.

I'm grateful today for all the pictures we have of life with Mom.
Good times and bad, Mom wanted pictures because she
wanted to count us. 
It's like she count wipe out the bad moments 
when she looked at those pictures.
And when I look at them, 
I think I can do the same.

Concluding, I want to re-post what I wrote the afternoon Mom died. It really does sum up what I felt then but also what I still feel. Not sad but very glad!

August 22, 2010
Yesterday, sitting at lunch, my niece said, "You know what will happen?  You'll get all the way home and that's when she'll die."  Well, it turns out that my very tall, newly-married niece is also prophetic.  We should have put her powers to work several days ago...but, apparently she wasn't feeling it then.  She was, however, absolutely right about Mom's exact time of departure from this earth and home-going to heaven.  Just as those tennis-ball toting dogs were jumping in glee at SK and me, the angels in Heaven were doing the same with Mom, to welcome her.  Yes, just after 3 PM,  Mom finally went home.

When I said goodbye to her last night, I told her I'd see her in God's throne room, but until then, to worship well for me, and, to say hi to Daddy for me.  I patted her very dry forehead and kissed it softly, just as RE and BB and I had done every time we left her for two weeks.  Last night, of course, I knew I'd never see her on this earth again.  But what I rejoice in as I write this is that the next time I see my mother, she will be complete.  Not merely back to the full-voiced, clear-minded woman she was at the height of her brain-power on earth, but to the person God always intended her to be before the human frailties, the insecurities, fears and worries overwhelmed her essential made-in-the-image-of-God self.  I wonder who she'll be.  I wonder what a wonderful world she's discovering this day in paradise with God, her parents, my dad and the host.

And, mostly, tonight, as tears fall, I keep repeating an old spiritual (and my middle sister tells me it's exactly what's been running through her mind as well):  'Free at last, Free at last, thank God Almighty, [she's] free at last."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dropped into His hands

In the cool of the evening a few days ago, I sat on one of our oversized pillows on the steps of our back deck throwing tennis balls for Kincade and Jamaica. The boys (Beve, his brother who is visiting from Finland for the month, and J) sat more comfortably up on our deck furniture watching me. For no particular reason, Kincade has begun circling up the steps and around behind me before dropping the ball in front of me to throw for him. So on a whim, I decided to put my hands behind my back and teach him to drop the ball neatly in my cupped hands. I'm just lazy enough that bending over is ever too much work. He got the hang of this new trick more quickly than any of us could have guessed and now it's the only way he wants to drop the ball--at least when I'm the one playing with him. His responsiveness to me is unbelievable. He's willing to try just about anything I ask him, especially if there's a ball to be caught in the middle and praise at the end.

Such 'tricks' get me to thinking of my own responsiveness to God, my own responsiveness and that short quote from Flannery O-Connor I mentioned in my last post. "My dear God, how stupid we people are until You give us something." I spend SOO much time being stupid with God. My prayers are made of the stuff of beggars, asking and pleading and whining for myself and others. While there is nothing wrong with intercession, it isn't the primary focus of prayer. Or shouldn't be. And Kincade's response to me reminds me of this. His entire body begs to run and catch the ball as soon as he drops it. But I have taught Kincade to wait. To put it into my hands and wait. Sometimes to sit, to even lie down while I walk away (even out of his sight). No matter what I do, he waits.

We don't do that. That tennis ball of Kincade's is like whatever I worry about, whatever I am praying, but I don't trust my Master. I don't learn from our dogs. And I'm not alone. That's the sorry truth of it.
We ask the Father for things and then we whine and complain and worry and fret because He doesn't seem to be doing anything. We don't trust that what we've put into His hands He's capable of actually caring for. We're just plain stupid, as Flannery O'Connor puts it, more stupid than our dogs, perhaps. We must learn from them. We must learn that when we trust Him with our balls (our livelihoods, our personal lives, our families) He won't drop them.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm NOT saying that struggle and trial and fire won't come. What I know about God is that He cares more about US than He does about our circumstances and that whatever He has in mind is meant to grow us into His likeness. Whatever it takes. In this we differ from our dogs, of course. They can only be dogs. Sometimes they're great ones, like my Kincade, but still just dogs. But our fingerprints are in the image of the ONE who created the universe. What matter most is that we become like Him, more like Him than that we get a particular job or are given a particular thing. If we drop our prayers into His hands--drop our dreams, hopes, deepest desires--and wait with all the strength of obedient, loving Kincade, what comes will definitely come from His hand. And that, I think, makes all the difference.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Just a few bullet points

The summer is slipping away and I've written so little here.
Even when there have been thoughts to write, space doesn't seem to open up in the day to put hands to keyboard. At least not for the length of time it takes to create a post worth reading.

Maybe a bullet-point post will suffice for now:


  • I'm home from my travels, but we have company for the whole of August. It's good and overwhelming and creates less quiet than I'm used to in my home, which tells me how spoiled I've become with my surfeit of time and space to walk in my day well. I'm reminded that I must learn flexibility with my time, with my habits, with my home. It's always good to have people with us, it's just not always good IN me, with tells me how solitary I've become.
  • Our son J had Achilles tendon surgery a couple of weeks ago. Though I try not to say too much about particulars of my kids without their express permission, this surgery is a hard one, takes six months to recover, then he has to have the other one also 'fixed.' Poor man. He's doing very well, but being completely immobile, having to navigate with crutches, needing help even to carry a glass of water is hard on a 27 year old man. His situation is a living example of what it means to be dependent. We aren't autonomous, no matter what the world thinks. God knows this. We need Him and we need each other. And J has handled his own neediness with grace and good humor, which is exactly how we should. Not whining, not complaining, just saying, "I need you," and "Thank you." It's been a treat to serve him because of his attitude.
  • I've almost finished the book, The Boys in the Boat. I don't have much to say about it other than it's WONDERFUL and I can't put it down. Even as I'm writing this post, I really want to be reading the book. It's about the University of Washington crew team that went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany (and won gold). My youngest brother, BB, rowed crew at Washington, so I've watched crew races a time or two, and already had an affinity for that program (even if I am a Cougar at heart), but even if you don't like the Huskies, it's a great story!
  • Beve's been battling a cold. I know this probably seems like no big deal compared to people and their suffering. But he's never sick, never stops for anything...no matter what. So to see him in bed for two to three days in a row is not nothing. And it reminds me to pray, not only for him, but for others who are actually in bed for reasons far more serious. I grow complacent at times about my praying for others. Do you? (By the way, as I write this, my eyes are beginning to water and my throat feels scratchy...hmmm. Either I'm catching his cold, or I've just forgotten to take my allergy medication!
  • A few great quotes have been roaming around in my head in the last few days from A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor that I've been reading one prayer at a time (note--the punctuation in the book is exactly as she wrote it, so bear that in mind in these quotes): 
 "I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside." 3
"You say, dear God, to ask for grace and it will be given. I ask for it. I realize that there is more to it than that--that I have to behave like I want it...Please help me to know the will of my Father--not a scrupulous nervousness nor yet a lax presumption but a clear, reasonable knowledge; and after this give me a strong Will to be able to bend it to the Will of the Father." 5
"My dear God, how stupid we people are until You give us something." 7
"Give me the grace, dear God, to adore You for even this I cannot do for myself. Give me the grace to adore You with the excitement of old priests when the sacrificed a lamb to You. Give me the grace to adore you with the awe that fills Your priests when they sacrifice the Lame on our altars. Give me the grace to be impatient for the time when I shall see You face to face and need no stimulus than that to adore You. Give me the grace, dear God, to see the bareness and the misery of the places where You are not adored but desecrated." 8-9


  • That's all for tonight. I'm hoping that soon I'll be back to regular posting. In the meantime, hope your dog-days are going well for you. Here's a picture of our dog-day pups, watching out our front window--their usual morning position!

Monday, August 11, 2014

An Ocean of Friendship


We came from north (me), south, and east to gather at this cabin on a lake in the very western part of our very western state. Such gatherings began for us over a decade ago, we might say. Or almost fifty years ago. Some of us have been friends just about that long. And so this long weekend together was much like all the others, even like the slumber parties of our middle school years when we stayed up too late, laughed too much, and probably ate more sweets than were good for us.

But these weekends have also come to be something else. Something more happens between us as we gather each summer. Eleven years ago, after years of raising children and only swapping Christmas cards, a call went out that one of us had received an unexpected diagnosis. We packed our weekend bags and came running. We'd missed an earlier call and a different diagnosis when our children were younger and we were in the midst of it. We weren't going to miss it again. And so we gather.

Those first couple of yearly gatherings were trips back in time. We hadn't found our footing in the lake waters of the present so we traveled down rivers of memories. Those memories--mostly from high school, when the last of us had moved to our home town and we'd become "The girls"--were enough to set us laughing from Friday night to Sunday noon, and we enjoyed every second. And we still have plenty more to haul out (oh, trust me, PLENTY more!)...but from where I sat in the boat (I'm the one with the really thin face in back), they aren't enough. If you're more than an occasional visitor to this blog, that won't come as a big surprise. I like real and I like deep and I'm happiest when we can mix it with some laughter in a great sea of conversation.

Slowly, over the course of time, that's exactly what has happened with these women, my "Girls". We've gotten to know each others' children. We've heard each others' stories. Some of those stories are hilarious, some, sadly, are traumatic.  Some years are full of joy and life and more than we might ask or imagine: weddings, babies, sons returning from war. Truly we've listened to the stuff of movies.  But sometimes a year has been so difficult one of us would just as soon knock it from her chronology. Parents' deaths, children struggles, spouses' betrayals. Come to think of it, such stories are the stuff of movies, too.

What I love is that now, as we float in this lake or that pool or sit around a campfire or on  couches in a cabin, we're in it together. We're really in it. We've become "The Girls" again, each other's 'go-to' people. 911s (after our families, of course--though we're family, too, I think). I love that we know each other at the bone marrow-level, we get each others' personalities, we know how we fit (I'm a talker, for example), we'll be there in an instant when called, we laugh in the joys and cry in the suffering and love each other in all of it. Yes, we're the Pacific Ocean of friendship, spanning a life-time. as endless as the waves, as constant as the tides. And we can carry each other. I love that. I saw it in action this weekend and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Seeing Him in all my dealings

I'm off on my 'last' trip of the summer (except for the one in September, but what's one little trip between friends?). I left yesterday and am one-finger-picking this post out on an iPad, so it'll be short.  But I came across a convictingly beautiful sentence in my morning devotion today and just have to share it.

"Help us to look into the eyes of people we find hard to like, and see Your image."

That's it.
May this thought govern all my dealings today.
May I forgive more easily because it's God who looks out at me from the eyes of those who I believe have hurt me.
May I simply, utterly, always be looking for Him...
In all my dealings--
No matter what the deal is!

In light of this...
Have a blessed week!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A letter to a 'Little Sister'

August 3, 1971

Dear Carolyn,
     Today you've made a decision that will change the course of your life. It's already begun, though you don't know it yet. You took that small walk this afternoon into the woods with someone you barely know and she helped you take a step off one path and into a whole new world.

Welcome, little sister. Welcome to this glorious new world. Welcome to this new life. Let me--ME--be the first to welcome you. Let me be the first to say, "It's okay to say, "Oh God!" when you're talking to Him." It's not taking His name in vain when you're so overwhelmed with what has just happened that you can do no more than simply say His name. In fact, little sister, it's the holiest response there is. He called you, you answered Him by saying "I want you in my life." Only His name is in your head in that moment. That's how it should be.

Tonight, you'll open that tiny New Testament you asked your mother to find for you to take to camp. Last night you opened it and the words were incomprehensible. Tonight, the most glorious miracle will be that they will make sense. That moment of discovery--that you can understand the word of GOD-- I'm here to tell you, will be a moment you will always remember. It's a marker, a true marker, that what happened in the woods was real, was for good, was forever.  I Corinthians 1: 14, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." Those words, that moment, that beautiful WORD will be etched into you in such a way that you will hunger for it always. Take a moment tonight to thank God for the gift of such a grace, because it is a grace that He did such a thing.

The Life He's drawn you into is something you've been wondering about for a long time. At least that's the way it feels right now. It feels like you've been questioning the nature of the universe, what happens when you die, who you are, where you fit for years. And for this moment, all those questions are answered. The answer lies--for this moment--in the name you're still shy about uttering. But let me be clear about something without throwing water on this birth-day party you're having with your new friend Jesus (and Judy, who led you to Him). Those questions will linger. In the beginning, this life will be pretty simple, as it should be. You're a baby, after all. But you'll grow. You'll stretch beyond the limits of babyhood, and your Father will allow you to put that questioning mind to work again. Don't be afraid of that. Don't be afraid of your questions, doubts, and all the paradoxes, complexities and mysteries. You'll always have them. The Bible is full of them. You'll NEVER understand everything about GOD. What He gave you--what He'll increasingly give you--is a heart to LOVE Him, the Holy Spirit who lives in you who helps you hear Him, and the faith to trust Him.

You'll expect everyone to think the way you do. They won't.
You'll expect those who start the journey with you to stay the course. They won't.
You'll expect
and expect
and expect.
You'll get your feelings hurt, you'll get offended, you'll think it's all about you.

But you'll grow up.
That's what I want to say to you this first day.
Let yourself grow up.
Let yourself love with abandon,
Be compassionate toward the suffering (because you'll be there soon enough)
Merciful toward the poor (because we're all poor compared to HIM)
and always just plain glad that you were saved by Him
that you put YOUR accomplishments into perspective..
Let it be your aim in life to give and give and give--
just for the sheer joy of it!
Don't worry about how many times you've been hurt,
or have to forgive someone. Just keep doing it and doing it.
No matter what they do, how they treat you, how they feel about you.
He already tore up the list of YOUR life--so don't keep lists about anyone else.

The thing is (as your earthly dad would say), this life you're beginning, is NOT about you.
It never was.
It's about Jesus.
It's about living a seamless life. You know what I mean by that, because you sew. I mean a life in there are no different compartments, nothing is segmented off. EVERYTHING belongs to Him. School and friends and family and your faith are all one.

Live a life worthy of the gospel, Little Sister Carolyn.
You have a great life ahead. I'm rooting for you. Praying with you...every step of the way.
Jeskmom

PS. That tall across-the-street neighbor who'll pick you up after camp with his mom? When the car gets a flat tire and you have to walk down the country road for ice-cream, why don't you tell him about becoming a Christian? He's been one for just a couple months. And...someday, you'll both look back and remember that moment as the first moment of your life together. I'd really appreciate it if you could just do that for me. Please? I mean, I really wish I had when I'd had the chance...

Friday, August 1, 2014

God-smitten

It's the first of August and that means Random Journal Link-up day. Check out the very interesting interview with Stacy over at Enthusastically Dawn, then  though there are some (and you know who you are, Beve!!) who are looking at the calendar, mentally ticking off boxes until you have to go back to work, it's still the day after summer's center for me. When I was a child there were two times of gifts--Christmas and my birthday and those two dates were the center of winter and summer for me. Sure, I know that isn't actually true, and they aren't actually six months apart, but having a July 31 birthday certainly feels about as far away (as hot-away) from Christmas as one can get in the Northern hemisphere. So when I say it's the day after the center of summer, you just have to trust that I've had 57 years of experiencing life just this way.

All this has absolutely nothing to do with RJL, but I'm feeling slightly 'squirrelly', as Beve would say.

I found a dandy of an entry just now. It's from the fall of 2006 when I was preparing to speak at a Women's retreat. I'd chosen as my topic, "Learning from the women of the gospels." It was so much fun preparing for that retreat that I thought long and hard about simply continuing the study indefinitely. There are just SO many women who played prime roles in Jesus' earthly ministry (though somehow we need to do something about the fact that at least 4 of them were named Mary--it can get really confusing).
This journal entry comes after I'd been working on  my 'worship' message.

"I am 'God-smitten.' It's a great phrase. It pin-balled around in my head all night, I think. Mary annointing Jesus was smitten. She'd been sitting at his feet and then, when He did this amazing, wonderful thing of giving back her brother, she became even more smitten. Full of awe, wonder, just plain gladness--"That YOU are!!!" is what she felt, I think. And that's worship. That HE IS! This is life-transforming. A life worthy of the gospel is one of worship. What He has done, what causes us to be glad to our bones, God-smitten (as He whispered it in my sleep), aware, attentive in every endeavor is just this: He gave us back OUR lives. At the price of His own. Yes, that HE is, that He is Jesus, and that He--the Holy Spirit--lives within to whisper to us. 

Yep, just that. 

What I know is that He's my BEST thought. I realized when I awakened just now that, Holy Spirit impressed, my first thought was from Him. When my first thought is of Him, it's always life. Indeed, always worship. I may lose sight of Him minutes into my self-filled daily life at times, but when my first thought is of Him, it's my Best thought and my feet hold to the path. Because of that first thought, that God-smitten thought. It's like being one of those stone figures in the castle courtyard. Aslan bounds over the wall and merely blows on their feet. He doesn't need to blow all the way through. It's just enough to set the feet right. For me, for each day, it's that first thought--that best thought--that reminds me that I'm His. 

And if I'm God'smitten, it's because He's smitten with me." 


Another trip around the sun

Yesterday was my birthday (and yes, for those of you paying attention, it IS the day after Beve's) and in the course of the day I received many kinds of greetings--emails, Facebook (wow, what a host of people come out of the woodwork to wish a person well on her birthday!), cards, gifts and phone-calls. My youngest brother came off his island to celebrate with us, so I ended the evening surrounded by men. Beve, our son, my brother and Beve's brother. It was quite the party. Beve grilled and we ate the blackberry pie I made for the occasion. You know you're getting old when you make your own birthday dessert.
This is the 'official' picture, taken by my dad, taken on my 1st birthday.
I'm sitting on a little stool with a rug covering it. 
Anyway, my BB, who is a science teacher, put it this way,
"Another trip around the sun..."
I like that. Though I've traveled a lot in July, for most of the year, I was holed up in my house. Still every day, every hour, I was traveling. We all were.
We all are.
That's what time is about.

Traveling full-speed, full-rotation, every single year. No wonder people talk about life as a journey. There's no such thing as standing still. As long as the earth is moving, we're moving. And as long as we're moving, we're changing. Growing one direction or another.

The only question is how are we going to grow?

I look at this picture of that little me, at her large eyes and innocent, half smile and am awed to think of the life ahead of her. I wonder at all the turns in the road. She didn't have the ability to know any of it then. Not then, not at five, or ten, or even twenty.

The truth is, we don't have the ability to know what lies ahead of us. It's too much. We finite humans are as small and unable to communicate or comprehend His ways as this child sitting on a rug-covered stool. That's just the truth of it. We utter our half-words, partially-understood pleas, and must rely on Him to make sense of them all.

And He does.
He's our Father. He understands our language better than we do. He understands the difference in our cries, and knows the thoughts in our unformed brains. He even knows what we are too thick to think about ourselves. We don't even know what we need from Him--and He does.

That's what this baby picture reminds me.
That's what every year around the sun teaches me more clearly.
He knows better--far better--what is best for me.
He loves better--far better--those I love than I can. He loves me that way too.
More than I will ever love them. More than I will ever love Him.

My birthday gift to myself  is being reminded that I was made by Him 57 years ago, that He never leaves me, that nothing can separate me from His love...
that in these many journeys around the sun, the journey that counts is the journey I take with His Son.