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Why Are You Crying?


For five straight days, I woke in an apartment filled with left over Christmas chocolate—but no
coffee. I dressed. Walked down 40 concrete steps. And drove 15 minutes to the closest coffee shop before spending the mornings with almost 80 kids. 

But no worries! Since Nathan, my son, has plenty of chocolate, I plan to buy him a coffee pot for Christmas. It won't happen next year.

With a large house-brew in hand, I entered the Johns Creek United Methodist Church chapel and sat on a back bench. While caffeine cranked my gears, MAD camp volunteers (think music arts, and drama) supervised the elementary aged students as they arrived. 

As the fog lifted, I watched Nathan and a few of his students from Milton High School lead morning worship. Like this:




The combination of seeing my son in his element, working with like-minded high school grads, and resting a lot in the afternoons reset my soul. And I've felt different ever since.

It helps that the ultrasound guided shot in my right hip alleviated some of my pain. And that by the end of next week, my hip and the back surgeons will have offered their input. While their plans may involve surgery, the hope of less pain and better mobility keeps 'operation overload' at bay.

But I would be remiss if I don't share one other aspect of my recent change. 

Only hours before I left for MAD camp, I came face to face with someone who judged my heart in seriously wrong ways a few years ago. And based on my current schedule, more run-ins are likely.  

But where harsh words were once spoken, this person reached across the threshold and insisted on saying thank-you with a hug. While I knew the exchange served as a divine rewrite, once alone, my chest tightened and I crumpled into tears.

Painful memories washed over me. Deep, painful memories accompanied by deep, mournful sobs. Unable to turn off the emotion, in time, I shut down and took a nap. 

When I woke, I got up from my living room floor, rebooted, and finished packing. Then I drove to Nathan's, thankful for the reprieve.

When I entered my classroom the next day, I met Anna and Riley, two of Nathan's former students. Over the course of the week, they made me feel like a rock star. Having loved my son as a teacher, they were enamored to hang with his mom. 

And it was just really fun:


Riley, Nathan, and Anna leading worship.



Dad sharing his trombone as part of the musical petting zoo.



Dad, me, and the MAD camp director, Nathan.



Anna showing signs of wear and tear...



Me and The Milton Gang: 
Riley (the t-shirt designer) Anna, me, Olivia, Nathan, and Claire. 



Their acceptance carried me far from the past. Once home, I felt so at peace I cleaned out my overflowing bedroom closet and scrubbed my refrigerator. 

In some ways I wish I could explain the significance of what happened in more detail. But what really matters is the change. The redemption. Perhaps even the resurrection.

My church is slowly concluding a year long study of the Gospel of John. So, last Sunday, only a few days after July 4th, Pastor Matt Morgan preached on the empty tomb.

Matt pointed out that even though Jesus predicted his death and resurrection many times, when Mary first saw the empty tomb, she considered the worst, saying,“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (John 20: 2 NIV).

Even after Peter and John ran to the tomb with her to see for themselves, it still didn't cross their minds that Jesus might be alive. Left alone, "Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?'" (John 20: 11 - 13 NIV).

I wondered the same thing as I wept in my living room a few weeks ago. Things were better. The broken more whole. The tomb empty. So, why was I crying? The junction that led from loss to life simply provoked intense emotion. 

It often does.

So, as I sat in the pew last Sunday, I wondered what I would be like if I woke to a picture of the empty tomb on my bedroom wall every day. Would the constant reminder of resurrection power replace my need for coffee?

Probably not. But still, there's something about the thought that intrigues me because there's a lot to cry about in this world. An awful lot. 

But there's also an empty tomb where grave clothes lay abandoned and sorrow turns to joy.




Some photos courtesy of pixabay.com

Livin' the Dream (part 2)


I woke in unit 1914, knowing coffee awaited in unit 2409. So, I dressed in a stupor, grabbed my morning medicines, and took an elevator up five floors. There I found my sister cooking eggs while her daughter flipped Canadian bacon and the rest of my family talked loud for my morning ears.

"Is there any coffee?" I asked.

"I think mom just started a pot," sister offered.

"How much did she add?" I continued, knowing mom and dad prefer a weak brew.

"I told her one scoop for one cup."

Relieved, I reached for the pot but it was still empty. Desperate, I noticed a half filled cup next to the stove. "Is this yours?"

"No," sister replied.

With no claimers nearby, I stood in a kitchen corner and sipped the lukewarm, non-sweetened remnants of someone else's morning high. And it sufficed.



A second round of the hot, fresh kind wiped another layer of slumber from my brow. But I still required a mid-morning nap - even at the beach.

For while I left on our trip early, my grandson's 104 degree temp caused a lengthy detour. Instead of packing our car and heading out, our threesome faced departure day with little sleep and a lot of worry. Little man had spiked his first major temp during the night and spent hours at the doctor's office instead of in the car. 

After a second fitful night's sleep and three antibiotic shots, he was well enough to make the trip. So, we pushed through exhaustion and drove the distance. 

Glad for extra helping hands, we've almost caught up on sleep. With everyone above the age of 18, except little man, the push for fun has slowed. Even I'm not quite as determined to sit on the ocean's edge. 

The view from above serves us well. 



So with that, I'm going to leave you with a video. My nephew, Josh, provided the accompaniment track back in April and my son, Nathan, finished the vocal track on Thursday. Excited to share their music, I spent hours working on it instead of packing. 

As my evening departure approached, Don even chided me, "Don't you need to get ready?" 

"I'm almost done..." I mumbled at least three different times before I finally finished.

And with all that's transpired since that evening, I can guarantee this wouldn't have gotten done if I hadn't sat glued to my chair. 

Does it matter? I don't know. 

But if you've got time, take a minute and savor this familiar song. Cause, we're still livin' the dream, I tell you. Whether cradling sick babies or sitting with a view. In Christ, we're livin' the dream.



All photos courtesy of pixabay.com

Livin' the Dream


We had another one of those mix ups in our house last week. The kind where Don accidentally fixes decaf coffee for me instead of the rev-up-your-engines brew. I don’t know how much to blame recent fatigue on the coffee versus the anti-inflammatory, but by Saturday, I couldn’t stay out of bed. 

Two caffeinated mornings later, I feel glimmers of perky Susan. But pain forced me to swallow another anti-inflammatory in the middle of the night, somewhat dulling the effects. And I’ll most likely juggle the two for the next several months. 

According to the MRI of my right hip, there’s a “partial thickening tear at the gluteus medius tendon.” While there’s hope the tear will heal without surgical intervention, after visiting with the neurosurgeon PA last Friday, I now have a surgical consult for my back scheduled in mid-July. 

Continued leg weakness necessitates a serious look into fusing the L-4 / L-5 joint. The thought wearies my soul. But the more we spoke, the more I realized the surgery might help stabilize my legs. 

The previous fusion did just that for a time. So, there’s reason to believe this one will too. 

A video conference call with the hip surgeon’s PA just offered new insight as well. She fit a few pieces of the puzzle together in a way I understand. The hip probably irritates the back issue, so I’ll undergo an ultrasound guided shot into my hip in just two days—which means I might walk a little better at the beach!



While hope of relief has brightened my day, pain and fatigue frustrated me a lot last week. I spent both Wednesday and Saturday getting up and going back to bed, and then repeating the cycle till I felt like a slug. 

In the midst of those dark days, two celebrities committed suicide, which led to a lot of talk about mental illness. On the personal front, I have yet to live through days filled with extreme fatigue without the weight of depression. But I also have yet to live through a period of depression that hasn’t given way to a brighter day.

It takes time. A lot of time. But while there are many things I’d rather do than sit around feeling sad, sometimes it's exactly what I have to do to wade back to the place of joy. 



Don finished his last appointment early on Saturday and lulled me from bed with the promise of shopping. After a rice bowl at Moe’s, we headed to Eddie Bauer where I scoured the sales rack for Father’s Day gifts. My legs almost stayed strong, strapped in my AFO’s. But at times, my knee buckled and Don offered his arm for support.

Interspersed throughout, he paused and belted, “We’re livin’ the dream, Susan. Just livin’ the dream.”

Still annoyed with my tired day and feeling quite off, I mostly shook my head in response. But he kept saying it. And by the time we got home after watching our granddaughter perform in a musical, I almost believed him.

Nothing had really changed. I readily crashed into bed when we got home. But the more he'd made his claim, the more my definition of dream settled into the moment that was.

Instead of lamenting out-of-reach ideals, eating out, buying a few gifts, and watching children perform became a dream of value.

So, that means we're livin' the dream.

And I'm going to keep telling myself that. Cause a few months back, a man at our church shared the entire Serenity Prayer right before he was baptized. And I think I'll say it several more times in the coming weeks:


"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 
Amen.






photos courtesy of pixabay.com
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