Story Ghosts

I discovered a piece of my Dad’s unspoken story through a man who never knew him. The man, quarantined to his wheelchair, sat next to my desk at work and told me what Vietnam did to a man. I sat rapt, at he told me how, like many soldiers, he had to learn how to talk about it.

The stories coated in blood don’t come easily; they come in nightmares. They come in a sound or random gesture that morphs the mind’s eye into a battlefield all over again. This can produce all kinds of reactions which no one really understands unless they’ve walked the same dark mine fields.

With his yellow lab curled at his feet, he told me how someone taught him to expel some of the darkness through telling his story.

The three step snake. I literally pulled around my desk and sat forward. The three step snake was maybe the only thing I remember my Dad mentioning about Vietnam. “By the time you took the third step, you were dead,” said the man in the wheelchair and the memory of my Dad.

But nestled within horror, there was the honor. The lifted shoulders, the dignity, knowing that despite what others thought of that war, or whether or not a soldier volunteered or was drafted, the man and my dad both knew they could go in and lay down their lives for something bigger than themselves. They didn’t run—they stepped forward into the unknown.

I have a Russian sage in my front yard. It grows wildly huge, and the first season 20160404_090547we lived in the house new sprouts of sage poked through the ground all over the front portion of the yard. Not wanting more bushes to take over the yard, I pulled, I hacked and cursed until I realized they were all connected to the same plant. I couldn’t see it at first because the branches were buried so deeply in the ground. This was the man in front of me. This was my Dad.

Although they were separated from each other through the dimension of heaven and earth, their stories live on just like their flesh and blood children. Part of my Dad’s story came to me despite his silence.

There’s something vitally important with our stories—something we can’t see in the physical realm, but something eternal. When people say to spill your heart out for your loved ones before you lose them, we all nod and agree, but if some things don’t get said, it’s okay. If there’s a story that needs to live on, God can extend it to you in His own boundless way.

Magic in the Green Bean Aisle

She appeared in nearly every aisle we went. Cutting us off with a half-way “sorry” as the gray haired woman finagled her way in and out of the cracks between shopping carts and turkey hunting families, I came upon the last thread of my patience in the produce section. There she stood, blocking my way to the yellow peppers as she relaxed in front of them, meticulously sorting through the green beans. She carefully inspected them for imperfections before filling her bag. One. By. One.

The pressure inside me intensified, filling my ears with smoke. Pumping my heart to full beast mode. I’m sure this woman could sense the creature morphing beside her, but she was fully dedicated to her bean inspection. I could hear the warning siren going off in my head.

Assuming the woman experienced a season in her life where she had to balance 10 million things at once, I hoped she would have some grace and realize not everyone had time to wait for her to inspect the whole bin of green beans. Where’s the tolerance for imperfect produce?

But no, she either didn’t remember or didn’t care, because she just stood there with a colony of pilgrim descendants waiting for her to choose the perfect green beans. She turned aside once, trying to charm her way into our hearts by noting how cute my son was. My charm meter has been finely tuned to detect veiled manipulation, so I just clenched my teeth and waited.

Maybe the shopping frenzy from November through the end of December is the true Antichrist, I don’t know.

But in the midst of green bean #30, God stepped in line beside us. I don’t know that He said anything in particular, but laughter at the green bean situation suddenly bubbled up inside me.

Sometimes I need help laying stress down. Thankfully, God shows up in grocery stores and in the midst of our impossible schedules. I made a decision.

If my house isn’t clean enough, it’s because I’m looking at God’s magic.


If someone doesn’t approve of the way I do things, or don’t do things, I’ll just turn my head to look at His grace.


God’s magic is just one glance away from our distractions. I pray that God will pour His grace and loveliness into your holiday season.




The Magic Sandals

Six years ago, I found a miracle in Walmart.

Yes, I said Walmart.

In exchange for a beautiful, smart, perfect, precious daughter, my husband and I gave up all hope of having spare change. Or high fashion, sleep…dignity.

But we had our Princess, and she was worth it (still is).

Summer was blazing in like a beast and I needed sandals. I’d been wearing my “pregnant” sandals for close to three years, and was tired of the old lady footwear.

Chloe was eighteen months old which means she was allergic to sitting still and silence. Shopping was now a marathon event, and I knew to expect a toddler circus through. every. aisle.

So there I went, walking my ballet-beaten, pregnancy-stretched, flat, achy, feet into Walmart in hopes of finding an affordable sandal that would last me several years and bring comfort at the same time. Did I mention my eighteen-month-old came along to help?

I tried on a few, but my daughter kept running out of my sight, so I grabbed the ones that fit the best and dropped less than $20 at the cash register. I wasn’t overjoyed sandalsby them, and doubted those cheapies would last the summer, but with our budget, Walmart was THE option.

As soon as I strapped them on, God happened. I loved them. With barely a sole to stand on, they were comfortable. It was as if an invisible cushion materialized, and the strength of the Almighty Himself held those man-made straps together. They held my feet through another pregnancy where my feet stretched a half-size bigger. They survived a run-by-puking when I was hit by a severe bout of morning sickness, when my two BEST leather boots kicked the bucket.

After I had my son, most of my shoes had to be tossed, but those sandals, still size 8.5 with a thinning sole, still magically fit my size 9 feet.

God bless Walmart.

They carried my feet through seasons of financial hardship, races after busy children followed by miles of walking to soothe my babies to sleep.

Recently, I finally bought a new pair of sandals. My magical Walmart shoes lasted me as long as I needed them…down to the day. No fairy godmother can match God.

Do you need it? He’ll bring it. It may not seem like the right answer at the time, but He always comes through when life is one big bundle of crazy.


Have your own magical story to share? Tell us in the comments.

To Stretch a Canvas

I don’t roll out of bed. I slowly morph from one-with-blanket to kind of awake. It takes me a minute or two to realize that I’m not really running from a phantom at the speed of geezer, but was dreaming. I blink the dry from my eyes and stare at the new day – except it looks like an out of focus impressionist painting without my glasses. I have to feel around for them because I’m too blind to see them sitting on my nightstand with the low light. Once I get them on and get dressed, my little guy bursts in.

“Morning, Mommy!”

He’s in his Thor costume and wants to wear his Spiderman flip flops to take Sissy to school because he can’t find his tennis shoes, “So can I wear them, Mommy, please, please, please?” I’m still trying to separate dream from awake and he’s asking me this before I get my daily dose of caffeine and….

“Uh, okay.”

“Yay, thank you, Mommy! Can I go wake up Sissy, can I have oatmeal today, CANIHAVEHOTCHOCOLATE?!!

The stinker knows Mommy is too groggy to say NO.
I grab my pants and pull them over my had-two-babies belly. It’s not that I’ve eaten too much chocolate but my skin is as stretched as thin as I am. You know – how we get our kids ready for school – making lunch and breakfast at the same time while loading the dishwasher and trying to brush teeth while handling a toddler meltdown? Working to pay the bills, and then writing novels—dreaming dreams—well after the sun goes down?

Is there any room in there for a date night?100_2990

We are strrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeetched tissue paper thin and have the tiger stripes to prove it.

There are those moments in between the chaos that shine beautiful, like when my son opens the door for old ladies at the library, or when my daughter picks up her journal and scrawls in her six-year-old script, “I love how the trees point toward Heaven.” This is when I know the life-scars are not ugly – they’re marks from the Great Sculptor Himself.

“Being stretched thin makes you a canvas for God’s glory.”—Ann Voskamp

God doesn’t stuff our plates full to waste our time. He takes the threads from each generation, dips them in His grace, and makes art.