Bell rings the Arena with miracles

robbellNew York Times Best Selling Author, Rob Bell, took to the stage at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta – as part of Oprah’s The-Life-You -Want weekend tour.  He appeared in denim blue standing tall in front of a sea of star-dust that was projected on a screen as he spoke of the size of the universe’s scale.  Light years away from my mind ever absorbing its vastness,  he explained how our planet races through space at 67,000 mph, rotating at 1000 mph, while our tiny human spark of life stays lit.   The sun, a blazing ball of fire, burns 93 million miles away which is the precise distance needed to warm our buns and nudge nature to be bountiful.  A million miles closer or further, life would be no more.  The earth’s body is tilted to dance with the sun to the mixed melody of  days that are longer or shorter, warmer or colder, while gravity pulls down heels, allowing one the freedom of a spontaneous tap.  If the earth was not tilted at an angle of 23.5°, then life would be no more.  This gravity comes  40% from the sun and 60% from the moon, the perfect combination to keep the tides tethered to the ocean floor, and bare feet gently grounded on grounds of clay or blades of green.  Any more or less gravity, life would be no more.  Earth consists of 21% of oxygen  so life can breathe from a bottomless well of being.  If there was less oxygen, life would be no more.

Our blue and green marble of magnificent was precisely tuned for a life that always sits in the center of the earth.  Not just any life in the middle -the Divine dreamt your spirit into existence for a unique purpose.  The universe patiently waited for you to be born, so it could infuse you with its first gift, and place it on your blessed lips.  Air.  And you breathed in life and received this generous gift from a universe that remains loose with its love.

It’s all a gift.

It’s all a miracle.

What if every moment you could live AWAKE, and live in gratitude for all the breaths that roll in and out with the beaches tide.  Floating in the mystery of the miracle of you and daring to explore the depth of the sea.  Where 90% remains unexplored.  Becoming the captain of your soul.

A shout of thank you to the Divine, the Alpha, the Almighty, God who generously gives all that is needed for a spiritual life,  offering the intangible holy so that you can set the earth on fire.  As earth travels 67,000 mph, rotates 1000 mph and tilts at an angle of 23.5.

For without a  spiritual life, life would be no more.

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Tattooed to my Heart and left arm.

bachHe was known as the “master nerd of all music” and his music wasn’t beloved from the start and this could be why his entire compositions weren’t preserved, resulting in many cantatas being lost.    He composed music that is still being analyzed, unearthing new revelations from the drudgery of a nerdy composer that used complicated technical tricks (like using numerology in his work, such as the 10 repetitions of the melody in “These are the holy 10 commandments.”  But then there are musical elements centering on the number three, for the Trinity, and four, for the Gospels.  Patterns of five represent the five wounds Jesus suffered on the cross. The number 12 represented the apostles.  And the examples go on and on).   His techniques were subtle, needing a detective eye to uncover – and so complex, needing a computer to analyze.  Although his work is cerebral, it is also beautiful music and that’s what makes him so brilliant.

As for me, not being a musical composer – mastering only one song on the piano that I hang my hat on  (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) what hooked me to Johann Sebastian Bach was the depth of his writing (on so many simultaneously levels) and the humbleness he summoned every time he faced a blank composition sheet.  He prayed and asked God to use him as an instrument.  His compositions are noted with the initials J.J.  “Jesu Juva” this is in Latin meaning Jesus’ help) and Bach signed his cantatas with SDG, short for Soli Deo Gloria meaning  “To the glory of God alone”.

He didn’t write for the musically uneducated but he didn’t write for the most polished of music critics either; his only audience was the divine, eternal, infinite God.  He wrote for God’s glory alone.

So, this is what would inspire me, a 40-something year old Momma to stretch out my left writing hand at a tattoo parlor in the hipster-part of Nashville, and tattoo it with Bach’s brand “SDG.”   It’s a visual reminder in my big polish head, to glorify him by how I live.



I believe that we are not just a random thought, created without a purpose.  Not dancing digits in a world without a formula.  Not here to make noise.

We are made from God’s divine thought, with a purpose.  For a purpose.   A formula so complex that uses all of us as variables with the answer bringing Glory to God.   Heaven to earth.    Supporting the idea from Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Reminding me that He is the common denominator in all, and that each of us have a unique musical note to gloriously play in the world’s orchestra.






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Insignificant in Setting – Loved Largely

photo-49The kayak hits the rollers, and glides along the wooden planks, over the sea wall and becomes anchored to a post by its single braided thread.  I nervously climb down a metal pool ladder onto the center of the kayak, solely relying on my questionable sense of balance to allow gravity to keep all orderly so that I’m floating on top of the seafoam green waters.  Using the power of my arms and a double oar like a butter knife, I icing the top of the sea, interrupting its smoothness to create a muted reflection of the sky that was once crystal clear.  It disrupts the layer of biofilm that has formed on it surface, and I see a sandpiper swooping down for the nutrients with their feathery tongues and the tips of their bills.   As I leave the canal and the harbor of my temporary home and blade my way to the middle of the bay – I feel like I’m shrinking into the setting – and feel insignificant.  I see a cruise ship, packed with passengers and the promise of a breathtaking view as the sun is pulled towards the sea’s floor by the strings that are tethered to the moon as it rises- I wonder if anyone can see me.  I then see the cables that suspend the Skyway bridge sailed out across the Gulf.  It’s deck is the road to connect cars to the sunniest city while its concrete pillars peak at 175 feet to allow boats to shuttle cargo and crew under its hull to ports of call.  The panaromaic views of the Bay leaves me paralyzed in its beauty.   I hold the oar straight across my bended knees, I surrender and give control to the current and it takes my canoe gently north.  I whisper… Thank you God.  My kayaking into it’s big scene gives me the gift of observing without having to serve any need.  All my small self can do is receive, give thanks and try to paddle out of its scene without leaving a print.  I take the memory and the knowing that God’s love is so wide and so deep for each of us.

And He sees.  All.

Do not worry about your life… Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving (Luke 12:22, NIV 1984)






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My…”Return to Zero”

10383771_890914194268071_8232298815185110478_oI was able to view the movie by Sean Hanish “Return to Zero” last night.   I have to admit, while I fully support the idea behind the movie of  breaking the silence of stillbirth in a world where we avoid this topic like the plaque, I was afraid of viewing painful details that may trigger me into a tail spin of sadness.   Grief pricks me with reminders of Hannah’s physical absence but I’m learning to apply the balm of hope to sooth its sting.  Hope in the knowing that Hannah’s love isn’t bound to a body – and not limited to space or time.  Her love is alive – here in the now.  And I have Hope in the knowing that I will one day see her in heaven.

I’m here to tell you, the bereaved community, to not be afraid to view this movie.  It’s beautifully written – with each line intentional in its meaning and actions that are authentic in its portrayal.  I see myself in Maggie.   Being admitted and walking the long empty corridor at the hospital to give birth silently, entering the hospital room, seeing the symbol on the door advising caregivers of a grim prognosis, and the long wait of labor with a husband that never left her side, and crazy lose emotions during birth – pushing, and yelling with excitement to see a sweet face, the shock of her stillness in the envelope of perfect beauty.   The family and friends comments that are ill-timed, insensitive or worse –  no comment at all, that are deeply rooted in avoidance on the topic of mortality or sugar coated with this being God’s perfect plan.  I could relate with Maggie on how she wrestled in the dark – as death tries to define Arthur’s existence.  Then… to be blessed with new life, a new pregnancy.  Afraid of everything when nothing is for sure.  Lastly, the initial numbness and fear of attachment when you hold your second child, beautifully alive, in the same arms that were once empty.

For me, I found a new realization after watching this movie…. of how my husband, Todd, never left my side during the storm.  He weathered it all with me, with a new-found hope held in one hand, while the other hand never let go of mine.

Thank you to all the cast and crew that gave of your time and talent selflessly to tell this story.  Thank you, Sean and Kiley for making yourselves vulnerable to tell Norbert’s story, and allowing the intention of the movie to be the real star.  I can’t help to think that Norbert was behind the details.    It’s my hope that your written words will be the pin that burst the bubble that surround those that feel isolated in their grief and it creates action to provide better healthcare/education to the pregnant and regulate better bereavement procedures in hospitals and support in our churches.

I recently read a quote from our beloved, Maya Angelou – “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”~

Love was in the details of this movie.  Our babies love is alive.  Viable.  Behold Hope.


                                                 (Hannah Mary Charest 11/8/2001)

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What in the Earth?


What in the Earth beckons me outside?

it’s watching each lime colored tree change its dress

to deeper shades of blades of green grass

as the earth tilts its body to dance with a sun that makes each day longer

into a night that’s lit with tails of fire flies and twinkling sky wishes.

it’s the layers of pedals that hold a bud tight against its barred doors

and waits ever so patiently in the promise of life that offers ingress to freedom

to wallow in the warmth of the sun

as the honey makers drink of its nectar and deliver life at each stop.

it’s the chi-chuwee sound of lemon colored finch

as it gets into a frenzy clinging onto a seed sock

taking flight in an undulating pattern

surfing the sound waves of its twitters and warbles

that ebb and flow with each distance of a wing.

it’s the voice to remove me from all fabrications

so that I feel the plush parts of earth’s terrain

mold the soles of my bare feet in its organic carpet,

gently reminding me that I’m connected to all that she harvest.

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Good Friday reflection: Mary kept many things in her heart.

maryMary kept many things in  her heart.

God’s favor, Joseph,  angel visit, immaculate conception, leaving home, mother to the most High and many, stellar birth witnessed by shepherds/kings, anxiety of losing Jesus for 3 days (when he was 12 years of age), watching Jesus’ wisdom grow, miracles multiply, believers banded, disciples chosen….. She harbored it all in her heart as she obeyed the working will of God.

Her heart knew that Jesus was the Son of God.  She didn’t know that he would be tortured, put to death on a cross, and then rise from the dead.

I can’t help but to reflect on the suffering as a mother that Mary must have endured. When she watched her son carry a heavy wooden cross up the hill of Golgotha, did she have the deepest desire to pick up the back of the wooden beam, wipe his sweaty face and clean his wounds with spit, shout words of defense to all the slander, search for his scattered followers to help overturn his sentence, throw stones at those that drove in each nail or shake a fist to the heavens to ask why a Father would do this to His one and only son?

Even as the cross bears down all its weight on a heart of a Mother, she didn’t give in to its temptations.

Her faith would find her at His footrest of the cross, under a Friday’s dark sky with the only thing that she could provide – her sacred presence.  While Jesus hung under the heavens, stretching his sinless hands out for salvation… I wondered if they prayed.  Did she sing him his favorite lullabies or remind him of his fairy tales?  Did she reassure Him of His righteousness? And speak of her love, a Mother’s unyielding love?   In the hope to distract from the painful reality and from his fleeting feeling of abandonment.

She knew that Jesus’ yes to God was as absolute as her yes to the Angel Gabriel.

Mary kept many things in her heart.  In the brokenness of it, she waited for God to do the impossible.



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holy thursday reflection: washing feet

washingfeetthe basin is filled.  He ties a towel around his waist.  He kneels in service.  i feel not worthy.  He’s showing me the way – that all are worthy.  He gently guides my weathered, callous and tired feet into the basin of water and it quenches the thirst and soothes the hurt from miles of terrain…..all those steps.  all those steps that i did or didn’t want to take.  He gently reminds me that He was there.  in celebration as feet walked on clouds.  and in sadness when i couldn’t walk.

He was there at my first step, 42 years ago.  and all the other first steps after.  into school. onto a ball field.  across the state line.  into an airplane.  onto a ship.  among new cultures.  down a long church aisle.  across the threshold of our home.  through hospital doors.  during moments of motherhood.  by the side of a pool.  in newly seeded grass on God’s acre.  along main street in mouse ears.  in love.  in pain.  every step.

i still stand.

He has been in stride with all steps.  of all sizes.  because He’s showing me, by washing my weathered, callous, tired feet, that i’m worthy.   if i’m worthy, then we are all worthy of this love.  love that’s an action verb.  love that is washing feet.

He is there with each step that i take toward another.  beside another.  carrying another.  behind another.

loving steps that will stand for eternity.

John 13: “do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am.  So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.  Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.  If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

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Get Ready for the Next Play.

2013-04-20 18.02.04“Get Ready for the Next Play.”  One of our famous lines.  It was first yelled to keep T-ball players alert to fly balls and line drives.  The motive at the time was safety – since their attention seem as fleeting as the floating clouds.

We now use this line to keep our son out of the attic of his mind, where he sits in a recliner watching a film clip that is caught in a repetitive loop of the last play where he didn’t make the catch.   While in the attic, his body takes a robotic stand of planting his slightly bent legs in the Tennessee clay, with each hand cupped to the knee as his trendy flat-cap is tilted to the ground.

Last night, I yell… “Get Ready for the Next Play…it’s coming” with the hope that somehow my words snap him back to the potential play that may be his at second.

A  Hit.

The force of his spirit stretches his right-handed glove wide across the diamond line from first to second base with the rest of his 98-pound body to follow.  He stops the ground ball in its tracks and throws the player out at first.   He smiles.  My heart jumps for joy.

Addison’s resilience last night to get back to the play before him, inspired me.  Many times I stay in the attic of my mind, looping back a memory of where I perceive myself as not enough.    Not enough kind.  Not enough patient.  Not enough loving.  Not enough talent.  Not enough Mom.

But the next play is coming and if I’m fully present for it and I’m not beating myself up over something- God will give me all that the moment needs.

And it’s always enough.

More clear.     You Are Enough.

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beautiful messy life

photo-30this blog writing essay is being submitted to Glennon @  I admire her writing…and do agree with her mantra that love always wins.  the below contains some excerpts from my book, that i have been forever working on….

describe your beautiful messy life.

writing about my life before “us,”  makes me uneasy. the font is not large enough to hide behind, and perhaps the feelings are too complicated for the english language  or the voice of  “who really cares” rears its ugly head.   however, a lovely lady once told me that if you are writer – then it is about you.  and that you need to respect the gift the God has given you and make time to better your craft.    that the truest part of yourself beckons to be heard.   i’m going now to lend an ear to the gentle whispers – allowing feelings to flow to font (try saying that fast)….thank you for stopping by to read,  i appreciate it more than you know.

my birth began in a city.  my life grew in a suburb.  i was tucked in between 2 sisters and a brother.  the middle.  the eldest sister earned a salary at the age of 15 and was gifted to take care of the animal kingdom.  the next sister i would share a bedroom for 17 years.  she was a care taker (of me), sharp dresser and instantly smart.  a little brother that would teach me (hockey) slap shots and make me laugh loosely.  siblings that i adore.   and a set of parents that were not set on each other.  dad worked hard and drank harder.  mom had a good, tired heart.

1 best friend filled weekends and catholic school introduced me to a Father.  diary always filled.  a typing class in 9th grade led to essays.   dyslexia led to report cards filled with mediocre grades.  no long loves.  no dreams, too deflated.  only to move.  away.  far.

college education seasonal, working all year.  wish granted to move.  attached to the wings of a baseball players to the sunshine state.   one big step for confidence, landed a position at kennedy space center.  skills soar, spirit still grounded.  writing halts.  departed from baseball player.

alone.  in florida.

independence, learned to walk on water.  landed a position on a cruise ship.  suburb girl sees world.     south america. central america, europe. caribbean. view becomes bigger then life.  God becomes smaller in life.  self is compromised.  reflection not recognizable.  in motion.

change on the horizon.

new job.  land locked.  lock eyes with dimples.  dimples and i share stories. much in common.  reminds me of who i am.  feel God close.  marry dimples 10 months later.

This new life becomes a blank canvas for me as a I learn how to dream with dimples who loves me “because of”, not “despite of.”    I begin to write again – and this time it is in full sentences, as i become inflated with endless possibilities.  We fill our minds by reading stories by great authors, and I learn trust – this time for real.  Trust in dimples, and in the Divine.  After being married for two years, we receive a miracle – we are pregnant.  Our daughter, Hannah is born as beautiful and silent as a sunrise.  She is the latest song from heaven; her music plays for  8 minutes and she returns back to the hands that created her.  Our vows and faith are tested but we stand.  together.

Over the years, images, feelings of despair and sorrow start to be replaced with hope and anticipation.  Death leaves with its lies and we allow Hannah to define herself.  And she is Love.  This love is real, and it stretching far and wide, wanting only to be lived.  To be shared.

Over the next 5 years, we were gifted three miracles – all wished for, cared for and loved before each were even held – our sons.   Our life was happening all around us and we were viewing it from lens of a growing perspective and gratefulness.

It was my belief at this time that Hannah was showing us how to live a deeper life – shining her love and light to all that we meet – and inspiring them in some small way.  I thought the feeling of loss would be the greatest trial of my life.  I wasn’t aware that families have multiple crosses to carry and a God that gives us more then we can bear so we can lean on Him in the thin places of life………

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love lives here too.

i painted the color black over a sign that once said “bless this nest.”  seriously, doesn’t God’s blessing envelope everyone?  or only those nests that beckon blessings on a gray slate, with a price tag $14.99?  thank goodness that we keep evolving in wisdom, people.

new sign now says:  bring good energy… i mounted our mantra by the front door.     noah said – “you forgot something, momma”….. i looked over the sign, and there was no room to add another letter….  “you know like our family code,” he said excitedly.  wow, i didn’t know we had a family code.  he took out his notebook that was shaped like a christmas tree, and drew a heart with two strokes, with the left side uneven from the right.

aw,  a smile adorn my worn face as it reminded me.   love lives here.

it can sometimes hide in the 4 loads of wash, dirty dog that dug up a bird fossil,  seasonal mix of clothes that exploded in closets, floor with identifiable feet tracks, mountains of single socks or a pile of stuffed animals waiting to be stitched up from the same dirty dog that dug up a bird fossil.

love can easily be found again… as noah’s puts it… “in the middle of me and you,” (as he tries to smash the invisible “middle” holding me in a tight hug)

As we are, blest.

We love, because He first loved us.  John 4:19.  


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