my security blanket

A fellow blogger from New Zealand, Chris Lovie-Tyler, writes his musings at Distilling Words and recently wrote a guest post for Seven Sentences called "Set Fire To Your Security Blanket."  Take a minute to go read it (it is, after all, only seven sentences).  It's a wonderful post on a unique site.  Click through and check it out.

It got me to thinking about my very own, attached-at-my-hip-and-entire-body security blanket that I had when I was younger.  I was glued to it, always.  My mom used to tell the story of how I would sit at the top of the steps that led to the laundry room, waiting for my blanket to come through the washer and dryer at those times she actually got it away from me long enough to launder it.  To this day, I don't remember its look or smell or feel, but I remember my strong attachment to it. 

It was, for a time, my safest place and very best friend.

As children do, I grew up and time marched on and while I knew we always had my blanket somewhere in the house, it was neatly folded and tucked away - never again needed once it made its departure into our closet.

Over time, I forgot about my blanket.

Until one night in my teenage years I asked my mother about it.

And she told me she had thrown it away.

For a moment, I thought I might die.

We were at a play, and as we were getting our seats and talking amongst ourselves before the curtain opened, somehow in conversation my blanket came up.  Or maybe my mother offered up the information without being asked because she thought I should know.  I can't remember which.

However it came about, I can still recall sitting in my theater seat and hearing the news.  For me, the world stopped for a moment, but the world went on about me, people still laughing and chattering and checking their playbills

while I sat staring straight ahead, feeling as if I'd just lost my first best friend.

It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  Even I was surprised at how much it moved me.

Eventually the feeling passed and the play went on. By the time we exited the theater, I was over the shock and loss and realized that I hadn't needed that tattered old item for years.  (Which is a very good thing because a teenager with a blanket isn't running with the popular crowd.)

And while it had been nice to know that it was somewhere safely stashed away even though I wasn't using it, my blanket and I really were history.  The way we were supposed to be.

Even now, stepping out in any number of ways from what feels secure can bring me right back to that same feeling I had in the theater.  To leave behind what once got me through or pacified me or kept me in a safe place is a scary thing.

But it's the right thing.  It's the only way I'll grow.  And it's the only way I'll learn to rely on God instead of on a security device of my own making.

So here's to no more blankets.  Here's to stepping out where it looks daring and bold with nothing but God's hand to hold on to.   Here's to living life the way it was meant to be lived; as an adventure, a journey, a pathway to heaven.

No secret stash, no faulty safety net just-in-case.

Just me, my God and my dream.

Now that's living.


two words i'm glad my dentist never said

A few years ago, I bit into something and as I was chewing, I noticed something extra in my food.

Moments later, one of my teeth was laying in my hand and I could only imagine what my mouth would look like if I smiled.


I ran to the bathroom, grinned, and sure enough, there was a gaping hole just to the right of my front teeth. 

Oh. My. Gosh.

A quick call to the dentist with an explanation got me in the chair just hours later.  He took a look, numbed me up, reclined the chair and went to work. 

As I laid there, I really didn't know what he would be up to inside my jaws.  But I had been going to him for years and trusted him entirely.  And with novacaine, I was pretty deadened to any pain and thought I'd just relax and enjoy the ride.  I felt the usual scraping, a bit of drilling, and then something else I'd never experienced before.  It was something of a cleaning out up in and around the tooth and the surrounding area. 

He did this in a repeated action.  Over and over again.  Without saying a word.

Finally, it hit me. 

I'm having a root canal, I thought. 

And what a wise dentist to have never said those two words to me before he began. 

Had he said that to me upon sitting in his chair, the mere utterance of the phrase would have had me clutching the armrests and saying calming mantras in my mind while gasping for breath, because of the reputation of the words.  But not being told and thinking it would be business as usual kept me relaxed and actually finding what he was doing  - the dreaded root canal - to be not so bad after all.

Smart, smart dentist.

This is why God knows the future and I do not.  We do not need to know what's coming down the pike, because it would mess with our minds.  We just need to know Who to trust because He knows the beginning from the end, and He's got it all under control.  He's brought me this far; I can trust Him to take me the rest of the way. 

I'd rather be in something with a God I trust than on the outside fearing and feeling I'm on my own. 

I know I'll never walk alone.  

And that gets me places.

my fear of fear

I've realized one of my biggest struggles.

It's not fear.

It's my fear of fear.

And that, as Sarah Young in Jesus Calling says, is a monstrous stepchild.

Very true.

So I need to wonder .... am I really afraid of the "thing" I say I am, or am I afraid of the anxiety, fear and trepidation I will feel surrounding it?

My actual mammogram takes only 20 minutes, but my fear lasts a week.  There's the  anxiety before the test, and real fear and trepidation afterward waiting for those results. 

My fear is not of having the test done. 

It's of how I'm going to feel in the time surrounding my appointment.

I have a fear of fear.

The good news is, it doesn't have to be this way.  When I'm afraid like that, when I'm afraid of my fear, it only shows one thing.

I'm not trusting God.

I'm admitting that I don't think He has this.

I'm not exhibiting any reliance on the One who made me and knows me better than I know myself. 

Fear of circumstances and trust in God cannot co-exist. 

My word for 2012 is "fearless".  I'm putting that into action when situations arise that I'd rather not go through or endure.  God is showing me, day by day, that He is able to take my fear and replace it with confidence.  He gives me a new perspective toward the things that spike my feverish anxiety and show me a positive side to stressful situations.

But I must put it in His hands, make a commitment to change my mindset, and live like I believe that

God's got this.

Because He does. 

Every. single. time.

spending time

I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest joy.
Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

We are told the opposite.

We live in a world that says busier is better.  Quiet time is a useless commodity where nothing gets done.  Drive and ambition are gods to be worshipped and used as a measuring stick of our worth and success.

We are so wrong.

I will get more done if I spend time with God first and most.  As an added bonus, it's the most restful, relaxed place I've yet to experience.

As if I was finally in the spot I can call home.

Communing with God is like that, because after all

no one knows you better than the One Who made you.

Won't you start this day with Him?

walk with me


Our pastor's message in church yesterday ran along the same lines as Friday's post.

The part about how as Christians, we are not spared the bad, hard, nasty things in life,

but we have a God who will walk through them with us.

And that's the part I love.

As he so aptly put it - "God doesn't walk us to the door of the terrible thing and say, "Well, here you go. Good luck walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  I'll meet you on the other side."

Not at all.  Instead, God says,

"We're here.

Take my hand.

Let's walk together."

And He will do that for you every time.

Every human needs that kind of companionship.

Where are you walking with Him today?

post op days

"What happened to the dog?" some of you were asking, and rightly so.

I gave you a canine cliffhanger, and you need to know the rest of the story.

So here it is.

Save her, they did.  After a lengthy surgery and a two day stay at the doggie ER, Lucy came home on Thursday night ensconced in a large, opaque white cone and stitches. 

Both of which she hated. 

Since then, we've ditched the cone and watched her like a hawk to make sure she doesn't go for the stitches.  This includes me sleeping on the couch all night while she sleeps on the tile floor of our family room, the only place she seems to feel comfortable.  This scenario is akin to bringing your newborn home and fearing they will perish under your care unless you velcro them to your body and monitor their every moment.

The fact does not escape me that while I'm sleeping, she could silently and deftly unstitch her stomach quick as you please and we'd be driving back to the vet center in the middle of the night.  But a girl's gotta sleep, so it's a chance I've gotta take.    Cone wearing only results in her taking on a zoned out, statue-like stance complete with loud panting and drooling.  Impossible to sleep through.

That's where we are.  I put my normal daily routine on hold for a few days to concentrate my efforts here on a situation that had me completely out of my comfort zone.  All of a sudden the world revolved around the matter at hand, as any illness' presence commands in animal or human.

So here's to getting back to normal.  To getting back to writing, and to the day's familiar routine. 

See you soon.

all was well, until....

My day yesterday was turning out to be a better-than-average one.  Shopping at Target in the morning, lunch with friends, time to myself, sunshine filled know.  That kind of day.

Everything was going great.

Until my dog finished eating her dinner at 4:30 pm.

Then things started to go horribly wrong.

My daughter Lauren and I wanted to run out to a local store about five o'clock, but just as we were about to leave, Lucy, our golden retriever, was hunched over trying to cough something up.  Silly dog, she ate too fast again, I thought, and I asked my son to keep an eye on her while we were out.  He gave me a puzzled look as he was not too sure what he was supposed to do with a hacking dog, but agreed to watch her anyway.  Lauren and I left and as we were driving out, my husband was driving in.  Good, I thought.  Someone to check on Lucy.

We headed to Chico's.  Sale items. Could this day get any better?  Laughing and shopping, I happened to check my phone as we left the store.  Seeing a voicemail from my husband, I gave a listen.  His voice was full of concern; he had Lucy in the van on the way to the vet - something wasn't right.  She wouldn't stop choking.

As my husband tells it, he pulled in to the vet's office only to find it closed but the doctor was still there because someone in his office parking lot was stuck and needed a jump for their car. The vet agreed to take a look at our doggie, but by then she seemed to be doing fine; there were no physical symptoms present.  The vet decided to send my husband and dog home but the moment they were to get back in the van, she started choking again.

Now the doctor saw what we had seen and immediately checked her out.  "Something's definitely wrong," he said. "Her stomach is like a rock. You need to get her to the emergency vet services now."

That local store I was in at 5 pm?  It's less than a mile from the vet. I had Lauren drive me straight there.

Once there, I hopped in the van with my husband and very sick dog and away we went, directions in hand from the vet and fear in our throats from what this night could hold.  Once at the center, they took Lucy in for an exam and eventually called us back.  A very kind doctor there informed us what we were facing.

Basically, our dog's life or her death.

Surgery was an option, albeit a costly one, but without it there was no hope; our precious dog would perish.  Tears sprang to our eyes and our mouths went cotton dry as we were tasked with this decision.  Time was of the essence and every minute we took to decide was a minute more of danger for her.  We looked at each other and immediately had our answer. 

Save her.

Upon hearing that, the ER vet got procedures in motion.  She mentioned she was amazed that we got our dog there that quickly from the time this all had started until then.  I thought back through the events of the evening and realized things had aligned perfectly for us to move through the necessary steps from beginning to end swiftly; from me going on that odd shopping errand which put me almost next door to the vet's office, to my husband arriving home just as I was leaving in tag team fashion, to the vet providing a needed jump to a car in his parking lot and still being there for us after hours.

Not coincidences.  God-incidences.

God showed me once again that as Christians, we aren't spared the uncomfortable, unfortunate, troubling times of life.  But in them, He goes before us to pave the way to help us through them, never leaving us alone to figure it out on our own.

God knows what we need and when we need it.  Even when we don't.  Especially when we don't.

He used an event yesterday to blow me away at His timing, His orchestration of events, and His placement of people. 

It only makes me trust Him more.

that slippery slope


"Mom, your car is rolling."

Four words that no stick shift driver ever wants to hear.

As I spun around it took a moment to see, but sure enough my VW bug was slowly making its way from where I thought I parked it and was now heading for the road and oncoming cars.  I had pulled up the emergency brake when I stopped the car (I clearly remember doing this because I broke a nail in the process) in order to hop out and give my daughter something, but the brake hadn't engaged all the way and currently there was nothing holding my precious buggy back from creeping straight into danger.

I had to act fast.

Fortunately, this was easy to do.  The door was already open from when I got out so I just hopped in and got my foot on the floor brake quick as a snowflake melts in summer and stopped the car.   Problem solved.  Disaster diverted.  Note to self made  to pull up that handbrake harder next time.

And a heartfelt thank you to my daughter who saw what was happening and could let me know my car was about to play in traffic.

Without her eyes on my situation, things would have turned out much worse, and I would now be on the phone with insurance getting estimates for car repairs and calling collision specialists.


Sometimes in our lives we roll dangerously close to disaster.  That little white lie that gets told because, after all, who will really know; no one gets hurt in the process.  Or the truth that we stretch and bend and manipulate so that we don't get found out or exposed because that would cost us too much in the end.  Maybe it's the lines that we push our toe across to see if there really is any difference between right and wrong, and to test how far we can go before we get caught.

Each time we do this, we get a little bit closer to our own demise.  Be assured that God has his eyes on your situation, and will throw the handbrake if necessary to spare you from the collision course you are on when you don't even know it.  Or perhaps you do know it and would rather He didn't, but that's a bit hard to pull off when you're the child of an omnipotent God.

He just seems to be everywhere, doesn't He?

There's a reason for that.   It's because He knows where you should be going, and He knows the way.  But to get there, you'll have to drop the attitude, humble yourself and do it His way.

The question to ask is, will you?

happy fourth on the third

"Laugh at yourself, but don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory." -Alan Alda

I love this quote.  The imagery of not leaving any of ourself safely on shore conjures up the image of a decisive leap, a jump, a decision to do something different - or differently - than we've ever done before.

And that's what makes life exciting.

If I can encourage you to do one thing, it's this - Do whatever you're dreaming. It doesn't have to be big, but to you it will never be small. It's your dream.

You can make a difference.  Even if you feel you're circling the landing strip over and over again and never getting clearance to come on in.  It's in the getting nowhere that character and patience and steadfastness is formed, if only you don't give up.

Never give up.  Always have hope.

Tomorrow we celebrate America's birthday.  This country was formed by boldness; by embarking for a strange place without leaving anyone or anything safely on shore.  That took guts, commitment and resiliency, and a whole lot of not ever giving up.

May you have a wonderful July 4th remembering our heritage, our freedoms, and this great land in which we live.

big ask part two

If you read Friday's post, I said that I would tell you on Monday about my most recent, crazy, out-on-a-limb big ask that I did in response to our 15 Habits challenge a few weeks ago. 

But before that one, here's another small one that worked out in a big way.....

If you're gonna knock, do it loudly

When I first decided I'd like to pursue writing a picture book, I spent some time poking around  networking and reading other picture book authors' blogs to see how they did what they did.

As I was researching, looking and reading, I stumbled across Corey Schwartz's blog.  I say stumbled, but I believe that God directly led me there because the path was rather straight and fast and I didn't do anything spectacular to lead myself to her.

She had a big invitation.

Which married perfectly with my big ask.

Already published, she was stated on her blog that she was looking for someone to collaborate with on her next picture book.  I've already written about this, but I still am blown away by her generosity and awesome spirit, and I knew that I would be crazy not to ask her to let that someone be me.  What did I have to lose?

So I knocked.  Loud.  I made sure she knew who I was and that I was out here and that I wanted to work with her.   She was happy to take me on, we co-authored Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears, Putnam bought it and you can buy it sometime in 2014.  Since then, she's gone on to write more children's books and perhaps she and I will work on another collaboration soon.  Check out her blog here.

Knock where you're not invited...yet

Now, the BIG ask...the one I was talking about earlier.  Well, that one's still an ask-in-progress.  I live next door to the Berenstain's, as in Stan and Jan (you can read about that in this post).  Stan and Jan have both passed away, but their sons Michael and Leo still work in the house and are writing and producing books and continuing the empire.  

I got bold.  I thought now with Jan gone, they might need my some help.

So, I wrote a friendly, professional letter and dropped it in the mail to them (even though it seems odd to snail-mail your neighbor) and offered my services.  I told them of my few credentials but large desire to help out in Bear Country, and let it go at that.

I figured if I never asked, I'd never know.   I have nothing to lose, and quite possibly a lot to gain.

The letter has gone unanswered as of yet.  And that's okay.  Besides thinking they now have a crazy lady for a neighbor, they probably are getting along just fine and can run that kingdom without any help from me.

But if I'd never asked, I'd never know.

And they haven't said yes, but they haven't said no........

I'll wrap up tomorrow with why you should do a big ask if you haven't already.  And if you have, or if you have plans in the making to do so, leave a comment. One random commenter will be chosen to win a free copy of Seth Godin's The Dip . The winner will be announced on Wednesday!