who would you sit next to?

andrew had a history assignment (or maybe literature) where he was given 6 guests to host at a dinner party.  these guests were politicians, lawyers and leaders in history.  two open seats remained and he could invite anyone that he wanted.  however, there was one caveat….. these guest had to relate to one another.  his grade was based on this question:    why did you seat these guest next to one another?

what a fun writing assignment.  or matching assignment.  it was really difficult for me to let go of the reins on this one.  but i did.  andrew wrote that the sparks of their conversation came from the similarities of each career path.  that, i suppose, was a safe write.  a bit boring to my view.  but 4th grade safe.    group the politicians.  native american advocates. and so on.  it was like playing the memory match game…and flipping cards over to find two alike.

yesterday, this sparked a conversation between todd and i that some of the people who have challenged and expanded us in profound ways are now up in heaven.   so he asked… when you get to heaven…who would you like seated at your table?  i paused for a few minutes…this was a good question.  he smiled..full dimpled and all.  he could tell i didn’t like that it was a box question, having to pick only 8……

first all, i explained that there would be no round tables in heaven.  there would be a long  banquet table, that would continue on beyond eye’s view.  eating outside on a meadow that keeps meandering would hold a bit of mystery of just who is eating further down the way.  if it was allowed, i would actually not sit next to.  i would sit right in the dang middle of the table,  ditch the white robe for some yoga-pants and sit with my legs crisscross applesauce.   i hope that our conversations are as organic as the thick green grass that’s pushing up the legs of the table, making it so uneven that leonardo had to invent something right on the spot to level it out… the discussion would unearth all the lessons that i didn’t learn, or all the wisdom that i never knew.  i would pace myself  taking in the revelations and allow for everyone to enjoy their ravioli.    i would, of course, give high-fives to each of them, as i unwrapped each eternal gift that he/she has given the world and place it so gentle in their humble hearts – reminding them how it continues to circle.   before i moved down the table to meet others, i would give them each a bear hug and thank them for having their story/life find me, free me and build me up, buttercup.  inflating hope and confidence to a deflated little girl from the ‘burbs of new jersey.      i would carry hannah everywhere- even if she was full size.    i would mentally dog-ear where Jesus was sitting –  i’m assuming stalking is perfectly ok in heaven.  also, i’m assuming there’s only one dialect or i would need steve jobs to invent some voice over to translate.

here’s some i hope to one day break bread with – in no order – all held in the heart….

our daughter: hannah, martin luther king, Jesus, albert einstein, mother teresa, leonardo da vinci, anne frank, margaret wise brown, coach rod, brandeis burns, dorothy day, little mem, grandmom Emma…..

so, who would be seated at your table?

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Legacy Love (serious title)

i was working on this blog a couple of days ago.  i didn’t have all the pieces to tie together a story until…. today, i opened up Excel and found this:

noahspreashsheetNoah created his very first spreadsheet.  I’m not surprised that this 7-year-old could figure out how to build a spreadsheet… i mean after all, his father is the master builder of excel, and I do have some flashbacks on how Todd packed into each cell details of our day to wed.   What did surprise me was that Noah was comparing.  He created his very own naughty and nice list.…. elaborately, color-coding each cell …bad – ok – good.   not only on behavior but also football skills.    daily.    i’m unsure of his plan, he wasn’t very foretelling … maybe he wanted to note trends or see how he could boost improvements… i’m desperately wanting to find a deeper meaning or positive spin…. but it seems crazy obvious….  a picture came into mind of his 48-pound little body wearing a long black robe, listening attentively in the classroom waiting for the precise moment to hit his gavel on a tinkertoy block to give his sentence (composed of 5 words or less) or scouting players at recess (by closely running alongside of them) and accessing their skills for the NFL… occasionally using his “football” whistle that he paid 22 tickets at chucky cheese.

he was comparing.  judging.

Oh, Lord.

we all measure or compare things/people….subconsciously or maybe consciously.. mainly to self.

some things that we measure – money, projects,  time, talent, weight, intelligence, beauty, houses, height, appliances, wins, loses, land and cars..to fit into garages, of course.

and life.

can you measure life?  Is your life better if you have more or less of these things?

my definition of a good life that dangles like a carrot in front of me:

A good life doesn’t consist of accomplishments that measure off the charts or possessions of plenty.  A good life is  where your purpose reinforces the love that links us to one another.    As John Ortberg says:  “When the game is over, it all goes back into the box” (money, projects,  time, talent, weight, intelligence, beauty, houses, height, appliances, wins, loses, land and cars..and the garage that you squeezed your car in every day).

it makes no difference if you lived 8 minutes or 80 years – each of us are made purposely from a thought by God.  each of our purposes links us together by a love that continuously circles the earth.   it’s unceasing.   it’s unmeasurable.  and it’s not confined by space or time.  eternal.  a legacy love.  no box needed.

i’m always inspired by family and friends that have experienced loss of a beloved… i see the legacy of what their beloved creates (not past tense for he/she is still creating!!!)… and its transforming.   for however long-lived (never long enough) each were able to strengthen the link of love that connects us to one another.  it’s a common thread – that they answered a “call”.  Whether is was by the way one lived – a friend tattoo the beloved name on her wrist as a reminder of the beloved’s amazing character, or the example of how one gave to children in Haiti – inspiring a family, to bring awareness to its needs…. or the love of one who taught a bunch of boys character along with the fundamentals of baseball….  or how one taught all grandchildren to make a mean shepherd’s pie – knowing that it’s around the table where we fully see and hear each other.. or how a bereaved mom created a foundation to provide financial support to families that have experience infant loss to help with burial expenses.

i read last night Mark 1:16-20 passage – it explains how Jesus called his first disciples.  He went up to Andrew and Simon and said “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”   Fishermen of men.

it was clear call to a legacy love that links us to one another and to one amazing Father.

i’ll run after that carrot…….

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an overly human day

DSC00159today started out overly human.  it could be due to the lack of sleep we had the night prior.  addison’s baseball team made a brave attempt for a come-back in the 9th inning.  it was after 10 p.m. before we left the field and where i also left my buns that froze off.

at any rate – this morning had noah screaming – running away from the bus stop – with my robotic body in hot pursuit of him.  by-passing the kind neighbor and making a bee line to the house where he held himself hostage in our bathroom… i opened the door by retrieving a key that was hidden in the door frame but was unable to unlock his fingers from the bathroom sink.  his little digits wouldn’t budge.  i was shouting half-truths about truancy officers coming to the house to take him to school if he didn’t get on the bus…awareness hit me in the face – as i saw my reflection in the mirror and couldn’t recognize my own voice as i was pulling it down deep.   so i let go of trying to control the situation and sank to the bathroom floor.  white flag.  surrender.   i heard the gears of the bus shift as it passed by our house as i watched noah wet his hair to try to get his cowlick down.  right there was the little being that God entrusted me with.

i felt terrible.  i texted todd.  his feelings to font:  “making a mistake is human, Godly is to forgive yourself and others….Get back up and continue to walk toward who you fully are….”

this was very Obi-Wan wise.

i literally stood back up, sorted out Noah’s struggles…he gave his signature one-arm-head-lock hug…as we made our way towards the garage, my slippers became immersed in water as we traveled through the laundry room  – apparently, my washer machine and I were both on the brink.  but guess what?  there’s was no time to mop the floor… i had a little man without a cowlick to take to school.

on our ride to school, noah pointed out how spring’s lavenders shouldn’t be covered in snow…. this gave me a strange sense of peace knowing that under all my human mess -God sees my heart as good.  A good that’s growing.

so, I’ll keep getting up and walking flat feet…wet slippers and all…..moving toward where He leads.

Love you, Obi-Wan Todd.




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livin’ on a prayer – bon jovi had it right.


dear boys,

i was asked to attend a community of lovely mothers to routinely pray for each of you.    i’m afraid that after the gathering when they asked if they were any questions – i raised my hand and then made a mess of my thoughts and peppered in the words like praying for you seemed  self-serving.  i broke up this gentle gathering quicker than you can say lickety-split.

you see i’ve prayed for many miracles that didn’t happen – one being, your sister Hannah to stay with us.  then, there were miracles that were granted to me, like when your brother took a full breath after his near drowning accident – where there wasn’t time to take a bended knee.   i will never understand from this side of heaven why some prayers are answered, and others not – many overuse the label of  “God’s will.”   And please do not use that label.

i can’t pray my way for good outcomes for your life for this gives the illusion that my desires are better then the Divine’s – putting the power in my prayers and not the loving hands that made each of you.  i’m not a superhero in creation….with a glue gun, perhaps.  but not with your entire life.  if i were to pray this way – it would make me feel wrong in my faith and trust in the Almighty that created and loves each of you perfectly.  He knows every hair on your head, every thought before you think it, every joy before you experience it, and every hope before you wish it.  he knows your life in its entirety before you live it.

what i can pray for you is for you to live on a prayer.  for you to develop a routine of prayer throughout your day – throughout your life.   prayers can not  guarantee you an amazing life free of sorrow or full of joy.   prayer can guarantee a relationship with an amazing God that will give you all that you need throughout life to be on purpose or to give hope or courage to face another day.

boys, i hope when you pray that you…

thank God for providing food, friends and freedom.  the cool thing about being thankful throughout the day – you become aware of more and more things to be thankful for before its bedtime.  you really do create an attitude of gratitude and you don’t sweat when jason’s deli’s ice cream machine is out-of-order.

always remember…God is not a genie, riding a cloud in the heavenly sky – granting your wishes.  nor is He to be blamed for when your prayers are not answered.

pray for forgiveness – every night recall where you missed the mark –  forgive yourself with a promise to do better tomorrow.  also recall if some one hurt you, and forgive them.  anger and hatred can fill up  space where love should live.  let it go and love will fill you up with joy and peace.

pray the Our Father with you whole heart and study His word in the bible – think of stories while praying.   You will see how the words in the bible come alive and can help you wherever you are in life.

listen in prayer – opening your heart so that the holy spirit can help you with a problem or give you real purpose.  always bring you problems and purpose to God first – not, your friends.  he will help you by filling you with thoughts and/or doors will open…putting a person in your path to help you or for you to help, a scripture in your hand, a hope in your mind, a joy in your heart and/or a song in your spirit.  act on these.  this is your chance to bring a bit of heaven to earth.





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God help me (write)

For over ten years now I’ve been writing a memoir.  Some in my mind.  Some in notebooks.  Some in blogs.   Each sentence is like a piece of stain glass.  Some pieces are jagged and muted in color and some pieces are beautifully edged and allow for a prism of colors.   Lately, I’ve been feeling a strong  need to lay all these pieces on the table to see how God can solder together a mosaic.

I expected to feel all emotions from joy to sorrow when writing on some memories.   What I didn’t expect to hear was all the voices of doubt – “No one will read this.  Who do you think you are?  Why are you wasting your time?”

These voices distract and depress but they don’t totally stop the words from falling to the paper.   Last night Todd read this to me (from When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, by John Ortberg):  “Our souls need to be fed, just as our bodies do.  Bodies are fed by protein and carbs; souls are fed by words. What people need from us the most is not more information.  They just need words that will feed their souls.”

So, I’m going to shut down email, Facebook and suspend blogging…allowing for more time in scripture and showing up at the keyboard for a few hours a day, wrestle with voices of doubt and wait on Him to help the words fall into place.

I hope to see you on the other side – of book end.   I’m grateful for each of you.

Soli Deo Gloria.









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What a day.

Today was quite a day.  The morning started off with a slam dunk on the Spalding basketball hoop that broke off a piece of the acrylic from the backboard that oddly resembled sonic’s helmet and speed as Andrew ran into the house crying  –

sonicall before the school bus opened it accordion doors.

My immediate thought after I left a parents & principal meeting this morning was….Malcolm Gladwell left out a chapter in his book, Outliers, titled – “Helicopter Parent”.   I reminded myself that I hadn’t checked Addison’s fifth grade marks online all year and how I relied on him to know his nightly homework.    I’m certain that he’s sat out from recess a few times for not turning in homework – and sometimes his “homework amnesia” disappears around 6:30 a.m. in time to do his assignment and make the bus.   Does this make me an irresponsible parent or does it making him more responsible?   I’m really not sure.   Am I hovering?  I really don’t think so.

Since then, my dog has eaten two of our library books and a form came home for our son to attend a puberty informative at school.  It spurred a front porch discussion between children of different ages and I’m not sure what exactly was said and how explicit…and I’m not even sure who or if to apologize.

Tonight I sit exhausted as I reread the beginning of this blog and the  “helicopter labeling” isn’t sitting well with me.  I for one am a big advocate for no labels at all.  If I was running for mayor, my slogan would be NO MORE LABELS!  NO MORE LABELS!  So its shocking that I would slap this sticker on my immediate thought.   Lord knows that we all live with many labels and it could never define who we are.  It could never define the way that God sees us.   As parents we are each trying to do our best with the many decisions that we make throughout the day.  So (speaking to self) we need not judge. Each best looks different.  Each intention that we want for our child is different.

The truth be told…a child learns everything by watching YOU (this scares the heck out of me on some days).

Working on myself to remove all the layers of residue from my childhood is work.  It’s takes effort to live a conscious life.  When your conscious, your awareness gives you  space to make a choice.  You can choose the previous way of fear/anger or choose a new way trust/love.   I call it matching the personality to the soul – when you operate from this sacred space – you make a conscious choice to return back to the love that you were created from and depend on God.  This space doesn’t judge, fear or feel scarcity of any kind.  No Ego.   My hope is that our boys will learn awareness.  And when I slip out of this sacred space – they’ll learn grace as I ask for it and tolerance as I remind them how utterly human we all are.

Sailing ships to people’s  islands so that we can fully relate is important in a world that tries to separate.  Finding time to be a friend to my amazing friends is so important to me.  And when I find this time – its one more treasure I get to keep.  Keeping my heart open to friends with different faiths, opinions and hair styles is key.  Knowing that a mistake or a tattoo will never label either of us.   NO MORE LABELS….  It’s my hope that our sons friendships are universal and their heart stays open.

So, Academia will be Academia as our children learn by riding through the conveyor belts of standardization as they add their unique creativity.

I’ll end tonight on a high.  Tonight at 8 p.m., I trucked our three sons out to a school gym so our oldest could practice basketball.  The two younger boys had showered so they concealed their PJs under their sweatpants and  they sported some crocs.  Well, coach asked our middle son if he wanted to play, and of course he did.  I  smiled as I watch him slide all around the court in his crocs with PJs peeking out of his pants.    On the long walk from the gym to the parking lot – our eldest son lost his athletic sleeve (I’m convinced that it’s a pure accessory because after first period my son whips off this same sleeve and flings it my way as if he’s a rock star and I’m his groupie).   Drama played out on the way home as Addison caught pieces of the sky.  Just now… I went downstairs to make a cup to tea and I found a neon piece of paper shaded in by a black marker and stapled into a tube shape.  It appears Andrew made an athletic sleeve for Addison.  There’s hope.


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High hope for the hoops


His basketball jersey hung off one shoulder and it draped to his knees like a throw back to the 80’s.  Only a mom would notice his knit tank.  I envisioned the words – WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO…   He could have cared less about his appearance.  He was only upset about the jersey hanging off his right shoulder and hindering his ability to make shots.  After all, this was his final try out.  This is where the rubber hit the road – firing off three-point shots, traveling not, setting screens and pressing.

Competition was fast, steady and stretching.  At the end of the try-outs, the specifics of the program was explained and then the floor was open to questions.  A question was asked by a Mom on how the coach handled placement since he really didn’t spend enough time evaluating each player?  How could she be certain that her son was placed well?

I held on tightly to my question.  (Would all the boys be placed?)

He might not be the tallest pine in the forest – but he has high hope.   (And he’s very close to clocking 10,000 hours on the hoop in our driveway.)



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wholehearted me

wholeheartI pray daily to live whole

to match the personality to the soul

to forgive past hurts and calm its seas

nothing to remain but its blessings to me

to be vulnerable and innocent like a child

to have faith in the Father and trust in a smile

to let joy stay and be a full time guest

to give judgement and fear a day of rest

to live intentionally, to love contagiously

and to know

that giving to the whole

 is greater then the sum of me.

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stevie’s shore

a sea of first graders stared at me on an early sunday morning.  they didn’t only bring their stares but their olympic outspokenness and playful manner.  we were there to discuss Matthew.  more specifically – Matthew 5:13.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

we discussed this first, literally, by stevie biting his arm – signifying that he was a delicious additive like salt.  we then discussed it deeply, how each little life is a unique additive to the world  – each living and loving boldly.  we discussed what being the light meant as little disciples.  i also shared martin luther king’s quote:  darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that.    so we didn’t spend time on examples of darkness – instead, we sailed the sea, fishing for good actions, and setting them on shore in the sunlight of our awareness.

my God moment was when little stevie looked up at me and asked about sin being dark.  he felt that he was living in darkness and how Jesus was mad at him.   he went through a laundry list of items that included:  yelling, hitting his sister, jockeying to be first in line, punching someone…..  i explained to him that when we have Jesus in our heart  – we are never in the dark.  he loves us 24/7 – 365 days a year, loving us perfectly.  everyone of our sins are forgiven and nailed to the cross.

stevie, then began to literally look for his sins on the wooden cross that hung in our classroom.

i repeated… “Jesus loves us ALL the time and has forgiven us for all time…..to  infinity and beyond,….. Buzz Lightyear?”   and while i was able to suppress the cheesey, jiminy cricket quote  “let your conscious be your guide”… I explained that the holy spirit is a remarkable GPS to navigate around sin.

our eyes stared at each other.   i could see a wave of  peace wash over stevie’s shore.

we then smiled.  literally.

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Sports Unite


I recently read how Nelson Mandela, while he was an inmate,  helped organized a sport program in the brutal conditions of Robben Island.  Robben Island is an isolated island located west of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson served some of his jail time of 27 years.  He believed that sports united people.   Giving them Hope.

I agree.

Sports force you to live in the current happenings with cheers of hope.  Living fully in each play.  Without a ponder of the past or the fear of the future.   Using a universal language that we all understand.  Shared smiles.  Shared sorrows.

As I was putting together a slideshow of pictures of Andrew for the last blog post, I came across so many pictures of our boys playing sports.  I then began to think that it was Baseball –that has truly gifted us so many dear friends.

Baseball unites us.

Baseball brought us together for practices, play rules, prayers, snack schedules, carpooling, sunflowers seed sharing, celebrating wins and character, hope for each play and player.

With the new sport season approaching too quickly – and with the season of spring that can’t come soon enough – I feel a deep sense of gratitude for those that have coached our children, and for our friends in the stands that have juggled this journey with us.

I also feel a sadness that one of our beloved coaches will not be taking to the field with our boys.  The absence of Coach Rod Cook will be deeply felt.

I pray what will also be felt is…. Hope.

Found by living fully in a moment.  Hope for each player.  Hope for each play.  Hope for a win in character and in game.

The same hope that unites us in smiles will sustain us in sorrow.


~Please keep the Cook Family in your prayers – Missy Cook, Coach Rod’s wife,  has asked for some specific prayers for 2014:

“Colby’s birthday (2/10)- Rod’s was 2/13 and they always celebrated together, so I know this year will be tough for Colby. Spring Baseball season (this will be hard for all of us, as he had a huge presence with spring baseball), Carson’s birthday (5/20), He went home to be with Jesus (7/3), Cooper’s birthday (7/28),  Anniversary (8/1), My birthday (9/6)”

Please also stop by Missy’s blog – her writing is inspirational and truly authentic:    http://coopertrooperandthecooks.blogspot.com



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