Of leaving home and going home


Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20

Anyone can leave a house, but leaving a home takes grit, guts, determination and the knowledge that you are leaving a place for the right reasons. It’s the kind of soul-searching that doesn’t come easy, kind of like raking a plow over your heart. And even when it’s for good reasons which it is, it’s still tough.

Yesterday we packed the patio and when I saw the umbrella folded up in my car I flashed back to 10 years of morning coffee and watching the sun come up over the Superstition mountains. Ten years of dinners by the fire-pit and hanging out with neighbors on both sides of us. I confess I had to hide behind the corner and cry.

We are leaving a place that’s been really good to us. We’re leaving a community of people; a way of life that’s easy and neighbors who know each other……watch out for one another. How often do you find that anymore? We have 10 years of memories which we will take with us and hold in our hearts forever.

We have seen decline and the death of some of our neighbors too. Living in a retirement community, that comes with the territory. The man who used to be up with the chickens walking his dog and singing loud now hardly leaves his house. They are taking a different kind of leave. Preparing for another kind of exit.

Two cats have gone over the rainbow bridge here, the stray we brought along when we came here, and Sydney who was my baby. His ashes will go along with us and for that I am glad.

But we are on an adventure, friends. And I would like to take you along if you would like to come. This blog has been birthed here over times of prayer in the little shop since 2009. I can hardly believe where the time has gone. And in three weeks I will be back living in the hometown I left in 1992.

This desert is a place I will come back to from time to time, I hope. It’s left its mark and its a good one. It’s carved out a place in my heart that will remain there forever. And I will do my best to keep you all posted here.

Until then, I have packing to do. And to steal a line from one of my favorite poets. Miles to go before I sleep.






Looking for a little Narnia


Lucy and Aslan

I remember a time when the world felt safe. Oh, I know it has never been totally safe, but in my reality it was. Every kid needs to feel safe so that when they grow up and find they have lost their way and everything looks dark and scary they will be able to pull that memory out. Lately the world doesn’t feel safe or kind. I scrolled through my Facebook news feed today and I swear I could hear it screaming.

I heard from the Anti-guns, Anti-gays, Anti-Gods, Anti-Religions, and Anti-Governments, and Anti-Muslims, and Anti-Christians and mostly everyone sounded angry. I looked around for home and reached back to a time before death and sorrow and misunderstandings and hurt feelings and sadness.

I remembered a world brimming with hope. There are so many things I don’t understand. I wish for a little Narnia, a little Middle Earth. In those worlds everything is cut and dried. Forces of evil are fought by forces of good and good prevails. End of story.

Too often in this world we don’t even know who the real enemy is. Everything is twisted and confused and misconstrued. We look for justice and we don’t see it coming any time soon. Sometimes we even turn on each other out of frustration. We wish for a world where everyone is on the same side. We wish there weren’t any sides.

I don’t understand why evil is allowed to flourish. Yesterday I heard someone ridicule a Christian believer for believing in talking snakes, well I happen to believe that impossible things can happen in God’s world because nothing is impossible with Him. I believe that if He has to use a talking donkey  to scare some sense into Balaam, then that’s exactly what He will do.

Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.

I happen to believe God wants justice for donkeys and humans alike. You see, the donkey saw an angel which Balaam was too thick-headed to see. Sometimes animals are smarter than humans. I happen to believe in a world where sometimes God produces miracles out of madness.

And the world is more than a little mad right now. We have known terrorists on our FBI most wanted lists planning attacks yet we can do nothing until they kill scores of people. Instead our authorities choose to go after a little boy who shared some Scripture to his school friends. It’s an upside down world. A world where you can easily lose your way.

Jesus asks us to do just one thing each day. To take the hand He offers and find the courage to get up and start walking on wobbly knees just like those He healed. I don’t know about you, but something in me needs healing every day. And the older I get, the more things need healing.

Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. (Note that Jesus first asked the man to get up. Sometimes just getting up is the hardest thing to do.) John 16:33

I remember what Elaine always said when she was going through the Alzheimer’s with her Mom, “I just keep going forward,” she would tell me, “Because if I stopped I may never want to get up again.” Because she knew where her help came from she was able to do what seemed impossible at the time.

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” The Message

There is an end to this race we’re on and the good news is that He’s already won it for us.

Take a step of healing with me won’t you?

The Long Way Home

Atlas girl

The day I left my hometown in 1992, there was disorder and chaos and a big moving van outside my apartment complex, and my boss pretending to organize it all. I was on the cusp of a grand adventure, moving away from the hometown and family that I loved; the place where I had always felt secure, yet at 30 years of age, I had never lived away and I felt it was a good opportunity to do something radically different.

I left behind a husband recently buried, and a lifetime of memories. Mostly all good.

It was a move to the high desert of Arizona, with the promise of pine trees and mountain tops and a bit of snow.

Two cats yowling in carriers across the desert in driving rain that came from nowhere, all these years later and that is one of the memories that stays.

That, and my Mom with tears flowing and a heart breaking for a girl that she could no longer keep safe. And a Dad trying not to cry but not succeeding. She carried out to me her most precious possession, the Bible we shared together. An old tattered copy of “The Way.” I still have it, all these years later; with both of our notes co-mingled on hope filled, love filled pages.

We built a dream home, E and I, because back then it was as inexpensive to build as to buy, so why not? A dear, sweet couple named Mr. and Mrs. Bott signed over the deed with a handshake and fifty bucks. A three-story house grew up on that lot. My room was beyond custom-made French doors on the very tip-top, and when it snowed it turned into a snow globe. If I opened my windows, I could almost reach out and touch the tops of the pine trees and in the dark early mornings an owl would hoot.

But there, even in that magical place of beauty, I never felt quite at home.

I discovered that you can’t rush healing by building a dream on top of sorrow, especially when you’re running away from the only One who can heal you.

Even so, God jogged along beside us. He touched us through some very special friends we met there, and a little brown Presbyterian church.

Then that dream died. None of our boss’s promises rang true and he stopped paying his business taxes and all of a sudden nobody was sure they had medical coverage anymore, and he started storing food and ammunition and got kind of crazy. That led to another move and a wonderful opportunity at a big company in New Mexico. It was a terrifying round of interviews, but we both landed jobs.

In Arizona, I was a small town girl in another small town, but Albuquerque was something completely different. I became swallowed up in a huge company and I floundered in a land that looked mostly like a brown paper sack. It’s only now, with some distance behind me, that I can see that it had its own brand of magic. My Mom came to visit and she was mesmorized by the clouds, said she’d never seen any quite like it.

We found a house in the exact neighborhood I said I wanted to live in. It was hilly and pretty and my boss lived right down the street. At night all the garage doors would open and swallow up the people. Nobody played outside, not in the front yards anyway.

Despite feeling lost in a giant corporation some good memories stand out from that time. Of bright-colored balloons against the sky, so many it was staggering, and my brother and sister-in-law who came for the Fiesta, all of us thinking that she was free of cancer then. I remember laughing together over icy cold Coronas under a tin roof at On the Border as the thunder rolled.

And God spoke quietly to me in the sun one day as I cracked the cover of Philip Yancey’s book The Jesus I Never Knew. That’s when I started my journey back home, back to Him.

Arizona beckoned once again with a job transfer, and another move back to a place that I considered closer to home…….it was back across the desert, with the same two cats, older now. And we landed squarely in the arms of Grace when we found a church we could truly call home.

It was peace, and grace, and prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit and traveling that full circle that made me realize that the only one I could truly trust to bring me home to healing was God, and He never left.

And of all those beautiful places, it’s this humble, manufactured home in a senior park, the one that surprises people when they walk in because it looks nothing like that preconceived idea………is the one that truly makes me cry at the thought of leaving it. This place where I pray, where I pour out my heart and He listens.


This place where a blog was born, and two cats lay buried and two more are now getting to be old men. Where the clouds roll in on summer afternoons and the thunder rumbles. Where the doves coo and the quails cry. Where we dealt with E’s Mom and the Alzheimer’s and her Dad’s death, this place is where we most feel like home because it’s where the river of His grace has carried us.

Each day, I wake up to a miracle because now I can finally appreciate the beauty of the journey.

And I pray for the grace to be ready for the next move, for there is a stirring within me to go back to the place where I began; to end my journey there. I know it’s faith that leads us all home, and I am seeking God’s face for whatever lies ahead. I find myself in a peculiar place in this journey, that of being afraid to leave and afraid of not leaving soon enough.

But maybe that’s not a bad thing, for if I didn’t have the fear, I wouldn’t need the faith.

Please join me over at the Atlas Girl Blog Tour  to help celebrate Emily Wierenga’s book launch of Atlas Girl today. It’s a must read!

I had a dream…….


I landed here in this place through no fault of my own, but because my body no longer cooperates with what I want it to do. The only thing is, nobody has told me the rules. There are people who skim in and out briskly. They give me things but they are not my things.

It is morning now and I miss my coffee. My kitchen. I miss having the whole pot if I want it. I am given a plastic cup with coffee but it’s lukewarm. And weak. I have never drank lukewarm in my whole life, and I never drank it from a plastic cup. I can’t heat it so I leave it……but then I think maybe if I don’t drink it now I may not get it again. Grimacing, I drink it down.

I remember the days when I was mobile. I never thought about getting up and walking across the room, I just did it. I try not to be terrified. This feeling of helplessness is new and strange and I feel trapped. Things are in disarray here……plates left on tables, and no one asks me where I want to sit at breakfast they just push me to the table. What’s more, they don’t give us anything to drink with our food. It’s difficult to eat with nothing to wash it down. I ask them, and they bring it but by then my food is no longer hot. I look around and see if everyone looks as bewildered as I feel.

A dish of ice-cream at lunch sits melted. She is sitting too far from the table and she misses her mouth. He is fiddling with his napkin, tearing it into bits like shrapnel it falls to the floor.

Where am I? Where is the place I used to call home?

I miss my dog and cat. I can’t think where they are now, it hurts too much. Tears course down and I wish I had a Kleenex but I use my sleeve. How I would give anything to feel their soft fur under my hand, see the love and loyalty in their eyes. How they would comfort me here.

I told someone I needed to go to the bathroom but that was hours ago. I have been reduced to wearing those adult diapers. The ones I used to see on those awful commercials. I never thought I would have to wear these. They are soaked through. It’s been hours and still they don’t come.

I dread the time I will need a shower. That’s the worst. I try not to think about it much. In my room are things I know. They spark memories, good ones. I surround myself with those now. I say a prayer of thanks for those. They are like pearls on a string and my mind caresses each one. For many here memory draws no comfort. They only have today. In a way, I envy them.

I watch the staff and see their anguished faces. I don’t imagine they make very much money here. I wonder what they go home to. They sit in corners and huddle up in groups peering into their phones. And yet, I find compassion in some of those eyes. They don’t think they will ever have to be in a place like this. And yet in their eyes I see a helplessness also. We are not so different. When it’s all said and done, we are all doing the best we can.

Night is falling and I dream and it’s long ago and my Dad comes and I can walk again. We walk far, past the grounds, through big buildings and streets and I am free again. He is my rescuer again, just like when I was very small.

I awake and I forget where I am. There are shadows in the corners and unfamiliar sounds. Bumps in the night.

I turn over to find my Bible on the nightstand which comes from home and a warmth washes over me. My life lies between the pages and it rushes out to greet me when I open it. I am home. And in my mind flows free with the songs I learned in church so long ago. I am so thankful they have never left me.

I am not alone. My eyes fill with tears at the wealth of this knowledge and my being is flooded with that realization. Joy finds me.

I am not alone. The Holy Spirit whispers and I want to shout it out!

I marvel that it’s possible that I have something to give here. Something to teach them. Something that sorrow and years and weakness can never take away. Someone to introduce them to.

I breathe a prayer. “Make me your instrument, Lord. Even in this place.”

Soon I will be going Home.

A dream I had last night sparked this post, and when I read my Sarah Young devotional today, I was amazed. Here is part of that reading:

Some of the greatest works of my Kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells. Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances.

Psalm 139 and 3/4


“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

He has indeed called us Heavenward. And even as we battle down here we are thinking of that hereafter, that future time where the cares of this world are but a lost memory.

And as I lay awake in the dark tallying up my worries, thinking about all the things I wish I could fix but can’t, I write my own Psalm and call it 139 and three-quarters.

For the umpteenth time, I give Him my laundry list of things, those that He already knows about me and I feel it float Heavenward as He assures me He loves me anyway, again.

When sleep is snatched away by the cares of this world, I pray in the wide awake moments before dawn and I feel the peace of my home surrounding me like a cloak. Though worldly sorrow nips at the edges of my heart, the hope of His peace seeps in and around it like Holy smoke. This is the prayer I pray: 

“Bind us together Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken.”

And then I think of the sock that made its way into my suitcase. Her little sock.


I don’t know how it got there, but I am glad it came back with me.

I think of all the pictures I didn’t take, and how my camera never left its bag. And how I couldn’t care less because what we had instead was much more beautiful.

I thought of how we hid every possible place in the house and how she covered her eyes and counted and giggled as we crouched together in the dark closet while my Dad looked for us. She still hasn’t got the part where she is supposed to stay quiet while she hides, and that makes it all the more precious somehow.

Years from now, I will remember how we all collapsed on the couch after we were done, and how Mom came in and asked what we had all been doing to look so exhausted.

I thought of how I put swim goggles on along with my wrinkles and flat hair and went all the way under the water because she wanted to see me under there with her. I can still hear her shriek of excitement, “You too, Nori!”

It was also a weekend of some firsts. She sat down beside me on the couch with a book and let me read to her, something I have dreamed of ever since she was born. It was like a mini miracle. And how she wedged herself into the couch close by me, wanting to be right by my side all weekend long.

We went to the store together and she helped me shop. Another first. Store was always a scary place for her before.

No, I didn’t get one photograph of fall, not one red leaf, not one landscape of how the morning mist lay in the vineyards, and not the one of the old barn I saw either. Sometimes life just can’t be freeze framed, it has to be lived. The leaf you see is one I took a year or so ago.

This was not the time to chase the perfect shot. It was the time to savor, and treasure, and corral that which there is never enough of.


That’s what the sock reminded me of.


And looking at it now, I’m smiling as big as the face on the sock because when I look at it, I can still hear “You too, Nori!”

Sometimes, Heaven’s a place you can find here. It’s in the love shining out from the eyes you leave and come home too.

God’s way of saying He loves us.

God’s love reaches what you can’t fix


I fretted, I worried, I prayed. Then I asked others to pray. Then I flew back with a speech all prepared in my heart, hoping God would hollow out the perfect time. You know, how you wish it would work. At just the right time, the clouds part and the sun would beam down upon my heart and before me on the wall would be brandished the words:

Now is the time.

Maybe it happened and maybe I missed it. But God taught me something anyway. You can’t fix everything or even anything but you can always love. Things happen, life gets in the way, sometimes people get sick or they’re not emotionally available. Or maybe you aren’t. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t in it. Love is still present. God is still working behind the scenes. He is just that big.  And maybe sometimes just loving and being there is all God wants us to do. Maybe it’s the most important thing any of us can do.

Love is patient, love is kind. But sometimes it hurts like hell. 

In the Doctor’s office with my Dad, I gave just as big a sigh of relief as he did when he learned that he had a reprieve from a shot in his eye. It seems the treatments are doing what they are supposed to so it was a good appointment. I was thankful I could be there.

Tyler, the dog everyone shares is getting older too. He has his playful moments and his bark is fearsome if you don’t know him, but he no longer hops into the car. His hips are stiff and he hesitates at the door. He’s my walking buddy in the mornings at my brother’s house. He still bounds ahead of me, and if I cross the street to the orchard, he waits at the end of the driveway faithfully until I get back.

One morning my Mom opened the paper and found that another friend and school-mate had died. That led to talking of others who had gone on before. In your eighties Heaven must seem close. We talked of who we wanted to see there first, besides Jesus of course.

And always, time to leave presses up against the present.

The day before I left, a little girl was already worried about when “Nori goes home.” She is ten but she still struggles with “L’s.” And when we left her at school, we didn’t mention it. They dealt with the emotion when they picked her up at school. Separation anxiety.

I think we all have it.

Deep down, we know we’ve all been separated from our forever home, the one we were meant to have. We know something is not quite right. And we spend all our lives trying to get back there.

Thank you Jesus, for being that one way.

No more goodbyes ever again. And though it takes the sting out of the goodbyes here and now, I still felt it as I looked back once more through tears as they drove off dabbing their own eyes.

In all of our comings and goings, and behind the hope and dream of every trip home and every trip back, He remains.  And more importantly, He is big enough to fix what I never could anyway.

Prayer this morning: “Lord I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Amen