Traveling Mercies

We made it home after our 12 day visit to Michigan, our trip-o-meter reads 2,457 miles.

On the way up our tire exploded in smoke as I drove through 8 lanes of Chicago traffic.  I  was able to easily pull over so the damaged tire was on the inside lane, away from the morning rush of cars.  I consider this a gift.

the remains of our passenger side mirror.

On the way home last night we had an accident where another driver’s carelessness caused me to swerve to avoid T-boning him at 55 MPH.  Both vehicles were damaged, but drivable, my nerves suffered the worst of the collision.

We staggered in the door at 4am, Caedmon got me up at 6:13, I crave my bed in unspeakable ways.  Yet my soul is simply happy that we arrived home together, with minimal damage.

I love the phrase “traveling mercies.”  It’s like someone speaking blanket of blessing over your journey, asking God to show you beauty on your travels and shield you from the ugliness.

We aren’t guaranteed safety, this is why we as for safety and mercy before we embark.

We’ve never had a blowout or an accident on a road trip before, yet this time we had both while I was behind the wheel.  This isn’t unfair, it’s just life.  The reason we ask for traveling mercy is because we’ve seen what can happen, people will drive badly, machines will fail, rubber will burst, weather will turn ugly.  It’s a mad mad mad mad world, full of brokenness and pain.

When the inevitable happens, we can either respond with lips full of anger for the trouble or thanks for the loving grace that carries us through.

If you survive the damage to continue on, then your best response is always gratitude.

We aren’t guaranteed perfect miles, but endless sustenance from the giver of life.  It’s not always easy to see, but freedom is realizing that the sustaining mercy is bigger than the trouble.

Last night as cars collided, our children continued watching a movie and eating teddy grahams as if nothing had happened.  For this, I  buried my head in my hands and weep.  In the light of all that could have happened as two cars collided at high speeds, we were relatively unscathed, able to press on toward home.

In the blowout, the inside lane was greater grace

In the accident, the peaceful children were a blessing

In funerals we have been surrounded with love

In lean months our bills have been paid

I am one adorned with traveling mercy, sometimes so blessed that I realize it.

Do you see the grace in the trouble?  The gray light in the dark room?

“In this world you will have trouble, but I leave you my peace, that where I am there you will also be” ~ Rich Mullins

Our Mother/Daughter Bucket List

the plunge

My Noelle is three, and as I watch her jump off the driving board in the crystal blue water it hits me, she’s not a baby anymore.  I’m the mama of a bouncy, beautiful and brave little girl with a world to explore.

As parents, especially with our first borns, the first years are all snuggles and safety, feeding, changing and car seat checks.  We track milestones and baby proof endlessly until one day we wake up and realize that we have so much more than just this one day to sustain, we share a lifetime with our children.

As we cruised down the parkway yesterday I found myself singing “On my Own” from Les Miserables, loudly, with interpretive hand dancing.  Noelle looked at me with a coy curiosity and I had a sudden urge to introduce her to the classic musicals!  Music Man!  Sound of Music!  Phantom of the Opera and My Fair Lady! (even tho the ending drives me  nuts)  

God help me she will have a strong show tune repertoire to hum through life.

I have a daughter to guide into a woman, as the days add up to years I’ll expose her to as much of the earth’s beauty as I can, and inflict as little pain as possible. Continue reading

Forever Journeyers

Every morning at the Penny Casa is fairly routine:  Caedmon gets up, crying “mama mama” from his crib.  I get him up and we search the floor for his “bobby” (pacifier) and “mamake” (stuffed elephant) which he has angrily thrown while waiting on me.

I get him up, change him, he yells for milk and starts his obsessive chant for berries at the fridge door.  The next part is tricky.  You have to give him his bowl, fork, milk and berries in the right order or else he’ll throw the whole mess on the floor.

He demands I pick him “uk” and slice his berries in a one handled balancing act.

All this happens in the first 5 minutes of my waking consciousness, before I’ve had my coffee. Continue reading

Choosing Joy 2-19-12

I’m still wandering through Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts and I have started using her nifty app to count the gifts I see in my own life.  I am trying to do 1000 this year, but as is always the case with my bible reading plans and devotional guides etc, I’m a bit behind.  Typically I let this make me feel bad, but I’m just going to keep counting gifts, reading on and breathing deep.

I love the concept of choosing joy no matter where life takes you, because attitude is a choice.  And its one that effects the day of everyone you interact with.  So on Sundays I like to sit and write about some of the ways that I managed, by the grace of God, to find and choose joy this week.

In Pictures:

These are taken from my flikr photo stream, which I use via Ann Voskamps 1000 gifts app on my iPhone.  Hopefully before 2012 comes to a close I’ll be counting gift #1000+

Gift #40- This year, inspired by our friends Andy and Katie, we celebrated ValenTOMS day on valentines day.  1) because we needed new shoes and 2) we like this company.  TOMS shoes are perfect for us because they slip on, work well in the Oklahoma climate 80% of the year and make us look hipper than we really are.  Win Win Win.

Gift #41- Is there anything that makes a gal happier than a fridge full of useful, delicious and healthy food?!  With Berries on sale in February?!  I mean diamonds are great but they don’t help me when both kids are screaming for a post-nap snack, but blueberries and string cheese do.  This right here, this is a gift.

Gift #44- Last night as we unwound in bed Kel filled me in on the Joshua Bell Washington Post Experiment, click the link if you need to be filled in too.  The whole idea behind this is that we walk by immaculate beauty all the time and are too busy to see it.  That concept caused me to hop outside barefoot this morning to snap this photo of the sun rising over our neighbor’s farm and the light shone like a prism through our glass front door.

On the Blog (in case you missed it)

The most popular posts this week were 5 valentines tips for imperfect marriages, like mine and The Coldest March, the loss of my Dad.

This week was the biggest week I’ve had on my blog yet and I am so thankful to all of you who commented and shared my story, please continue to do so anytime God speaks to you through this space.  

In Food:

Kel made us the pioneer woman’s pork tenderloin on Thursday night and it melted in our mouths.  There are still 4 slices leftover, and I think we may have a rock, paper scissors duel for them at lunch.  I’m going Rock but don’t tell Kel.

Jessica Seinfeld’s Banana Peanut Butter muffins as found in Deceptively Delicious.  I always have what I need in the house to make them, and this week it was one of our 2 yr old’s first baking experiences.  She got to enjoy something she made herself and I didn’t have to cook breakfast this morning, special stuff right there.

In Books

I feel like there is so often a pull to read only non fiction, and for almost my entire 20s I adhered to this mantra.  I purchased Donald Miller, Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne and to be honest, I didn’t always read them all the way through.  I learned that I need to layer fiction and non fiction to make reading work for me.  Fiction is like a treat and it helps me be a better thinker, mother and writer.  It’s an escape from my daily life into someone else’s and sometimes it has a more positive effect on me than non fiction.

Currently I’m enjoying The Island by Elin Hilderbrand and it’s a good, easy read that lets you in on some family drama set on a tiny New England Island.  A Perfect bath tub read, which is exactly what I did for over an hour last night.

On Screens:

This week I enjoyed a little Grey’s Anatomy, the Movie Crazy, Stupid Love, and The Big Bang Theory of course.  I still have yet to start Downton Abbey (ack!), but honestly the thing I enjoyed most was this ridiculously fun you tube video about a guy singing his order at sonic.  More songs should include lyrics about Cheese Tots.

I pray that this week, you become a bit more talented at choosing joy and counting gifts in your own life.

Old Faithfuls- My first Toms

ye ol’ faithful Toms

These are my first pair of TOMS.  They’re burlap on the outside and soft, flag-print fabric on the inside.  I love them and I don’t think I could ever bring myself to throw them out.  I’m not a sentimental person, I throw everything out, one year I got trash-happy and threw away all our W2s during tax season (I’ll never live that down).  On our great MLK Day purge of 2012 I threw gave away my favorite pair of lacy ballet flats and I have no idea why.  Yet these shoes may stay in a box, in my closet forever.

If you read the bible enough you’ll learn that feet are a big deal spiritually.  People were constantly removing their shoes in holy places, or washing each others feet as  acts of service.  I’m sure it has everything to do with the fact that feet carry us on our life journey.  They are quite literally what connects us to the earth God placed us on.  I bought these TOMS in Waco, Texas with my sweet friend Ally while we were attending the David Crowder Fantastical Conference together.  I was helping lead the trip and so, because I’m not entirely perfect, I encouraged a few of our students to skip an afternoon session to play hooky to get coffee and shop.  I’m a fantastical leader but I was pregnant and falling asleep from too much sitting and a post-lunch brick wall.  We all needed a break to wake ourselves up if we were going to absorb anything else of value later that evening.  So on a whim, in a trendy college shop at Baylor, I adopted these now tattered and torn burlap shoes.

I put them on immediately and they carried me through the rest of the conference where my soul was fed with words and music I needed more than I could ever describe.  I fell in love with Gungor, Common Grounds Coffee Shop and Baylor University on that trip, it was an immensely live giving weekend in Waco.  I never knew how much I would need it, it was only a week later that my Mom took her life.

These shoes carried me from a Spiritual High, through the challenges of processing suicide, to the hospital to welcome a son and on walks around the lake to sift through all the new pieces of my life.  They feel like old friends or faithful companions who walked with me through a searingly painful and transformative season.

But how does one honor shoes?  I know its the  Father-God behind that season who is worthy of all the praise, yet I see him, I feel the enormity of that time through these two, well-worn burlap shoes.  I simply can’t throw them out, so perhaps they deserve a special resting place, a Shoe-box shrine where they can rest safely on the top shelf of my bedroom closet.  They’ve been so good, so faithful to me, a gift from God and a reminder that he unceasingly carries us from spiritual highs, through lows and back again, and again and again.  Well I’m off to decorate a shoe box before the kids wake up from naps.