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There’s a Polaroid camera and a scrunchie sitting on the stairs. They’ll collect dust if I don’t mention them to their owners even though they’re in plain sight. That's the way it is with items on the stairs. They stay.

Particular life events are trustworthy. My stomach growls loudest when I’m amongst strangers in a quiet room. The guy gets the girl in Hallmark stories. I ask for a menu at my favorite restaurant and then order the same thing I always order. I think I’m deathly ill when I get a new kind of headache. The scales have too much say.

Some things never change. Like junk that mysteriously collects under beds or the way dogs have a fit when the mailman walks down the sidewalk. Remote controls get lost in couch cushions.

We can count on it.

We hurry around seldom stopping while wishing life would slow down.

Our favorite song causes us to tap our foot if we don’t acquiesce and sing it out loud. Grass embraces diversity and grows up through sidewalk cracks. Babies make us smile.

Some things never change. We know, though, that other things that do. Fads fade. Sayings get old. Tastes change.

Seasons have finales.

Dynamic and the dependable intermingle. New and the ever-the-same meet.

Boys with fresh haircuts and girls with their backpacks full of pointy pencils and boxes of fresh crayons walk into their classrooms...and then let go of our hand.

Babies who make us smile turn into girls who move into dorms ...and then we make ourselves smile.

Steady and adventure dance.

He who causes the grass to wither is the same one who brings out the starry host one by one and (night after night) calls forth each one by name.

Our God masterfully reshapes and rearranges, and yet He’s the Ancient of Days. It ought to make us hang on to Him for dear life. It ought to make us twirl. It ought to cause us to marvel.

I glanced at it on the counter when filling my morning cup with ice. I got an invite yesterday and, per usual, I put it on the counter so that I could let the date roll around in my mind. Do I have anything going on then?

I’m not good with getting everything on the calendar. I just learned how to put an appointment in my phone last week. So when it comes to “being there”, I’ve had a tendency to be flaky. It’s not really so much because I’m disorganized. It's more that life is just so busy. I routinely talk about bulging calendar squares for good reason.

Flakiness drives me crazy, both my own and when someone tells me they’ll do something, or be somewhere and then they don’t show up. I suppose uncertainty causes anxiety. Being reliable is an expression that shows another they matter.

Not just for a special occasion, there are events we don't speak about for which we're in need of support. We need encouragement. We need defense.

That’s why I was thrilled with a verse in 1 Samuel this morning amidst reading over the hard to keep up with G’s: Gibeah, Gilead, Gad...

In chapter eleven, the people of Jabesh are in hot water with the Ammonites. (This is after the elders of Jabesh offered to be subject to them if they’d merely make a treaty.) The Ammonites respond with a promise that any treaty would include a community eye gouging, and thus public disgrace. That doesn't sound much like a treat, does it?

Jabesh sends out messengers looking for rescue. The word that they’re in need of assistance hits Saul’s ears (who's about to be confirmed as king.) Subsequently the power of God hits Saul. The message Saul sends back provides a word we can all cling to.

"Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, 'by the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.'"

1 Samuel 11:9

We let people down. Sometimes our character flaws are at fault. Other times our behavior will be amiss or we'll be absent due to things outside our power. Likewise we'll be let down. Loneliness shows up to what was supposed to be a party.

We'll have times we feel defenseless, but God's showing up is certain.

The people of Jabesh sought help. Saul didn't put the invitation on the counter, only to respond later, or else answer in the affirmative, but then have something else come up later. He didn't forget.

There's not a day, an occasion, where the sun doesn't get hot. Clouds don't shield the ball of fire. Rain doesn't cool it off. Even when we don't feel it on our skin, it doesn't cease to be hot. We have that assurance.

The fighting, 1 Sam 11:11 tells us, was complete in the heat of the day. The Ammonites were battled and slaughtered before the sun got its hottest.

We can rest assured, knowing that God has responded to our invitation to be attentive before we ever ask. When the sun is hot, be certain that God is already at work. He's better than on the way. He's there.



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For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16

Driving our youngest to a youth event this morning I started one of those quick unsolicited conversations. She'd texted everybody in her contacts inviting them to Messy Olympics at our church. For some of those friends, this was the third time she was inviting them. I encouraged her to leave well enough alone and not worry about whether or not her friends would be able to make it.

Try then chill, I told her, as I flippantly flipped on the blinker right before turning (It drives me bonkers when other drivers use their blinker at the last second.)

From my own experience, I knew that she'd likely get to the church parking lot counting who all was there and who didn't make it, one, because she likes to win and wanted to make sure she was part of an adequately sized team, and secondly because she'd invited them to go and really wanted them to respond in the affirmative to her invite.

I mentioned her being a control freak (like myself) before wishing her a fun time. I saw plenty of adult faces, but I hopped out anyway to check to see if my help was needed. Our always fun guy, Jim, suggested that I run through the bubbles before I left. After flagging my friend Rachel down to join me in the wild and crazy, we walked through the bubbles.

A youth sponsor took our picture and sent it to my phone. I suppressed giggles when I got back to my car and saw the picture of my buddy and I posing with bubbles up to our waist. I had my shades on more because I had no makeup on, than because of the sun, and I was holding my shoes out to the side like I'd imagine someone on a girls night out holding a margarita.

I drove a few blocks and picked up some dry cleaning, parking in a spot that would likely cause me to have to back onto a busier street rather than my usual spot around to the side. The wild ride was made complete with an illegal u-turn.

You have to know being rigid/frightened/intense is my default. The first chiropractor I saw couldn't crack my neck or pop my back.

"You're the most tightly wound person I've ever known." That's what one of my most adored high school teachers told me my senior year. It was probably after one of my proud arguments against abortion. The slight sting of those words have lingered for all these years. I wasn't called Grandma by the guys in my class for nothing.

I've lived life with conviction. I'm passionate, as is my youngest. She's gregarious like her daddy and looks just like him too. But she's a little too bent, like me, on getting things right and making sure she makes her mark in the world, a bold, straight-lined one, even when the journey is best served by unexpected twists and turns.

My mess-ups have grown me, (maybe) more than my effort.

God has allowed me failing upon failing...fall upon fall, despite my effort to be good and do good.

Falling and then finding yourself safe takes out an appropriate amount of fear of living imperfectly. Falling, even when it hurts, especially when it hurts, invites us into the grace of Jesus and makes us better able to be the grace of Jesus to fellow fallers.

That's why we can run through the bubbles (but maybe not make illegal u-turns.) It's why we can live with a little more risk, even knowing we're really not in control. God is in control, we can live a little. We can try and then chill.

Update: Messy Olympics picture. (They lost, but at least they tried. Haha)



Our kids are exposed to filth. We can attempt to safeguard their phones, but it doesn't stop them from seeing indecency on prime time TV or hearing vulgarity in the halls at school.

We can be diligent in sheltering them the best we know how. We can't guarantee their physical safety, much less their moral safety...unless we hold them captive. Most of us have considered the idea. But then again, they can be a danger to themselves, and are often corrupted by...us!

How do we not lose our minds while attempting to not lose our kids to the world?

I don't know about you but I pay attention to titles. I was paying particular attention to two side by side section titles in the book of 1 Samuel in my last reading. Hannah's Prayer comes right before Eli's Wicked Sons (Of course a whole lot happens in the half page between.)

We find that Hannah's prayer was offered at a place called Shilo. She was there with her husband Elkanah and his other wife and children to offer a sacrifice at the LORD's house.

Hannah was childless. She was tormented by this fact. Add in the fact that Elkanah's other wife, Peninniah, had children and would provoke Hannah because of it. We read that Hannah was at point of being in tears. I'm sure it wasn't the first time she'd cried over a child she'd yet to hold.

During the time of sacrifice this particular year, Hannah went to the house of the LORD to pray for a child. Being distraught, she prayed an unintelligible prayer that caused the priest to believe she was drunk. After being told to put away her wine, she explained that she'd been praying. What she didn't mention was that she'd asked the LORD for a son. Neither did she speak of how she'd vowed to give such a son to the priest for the LORD's work.

Of course she became pregnant...with a son whom she named Samuel (Because I asked the LORD for him.)

She kept her promise and, after weaning him, took him to the priest. It's worth mentioning that her husband Elkanah told her to do what seemed best. (No pressure to follow through on his part.) Did she have second thoughts while packing Samuel for Shiloh, a six hour trip from Ramah, where she lived?

"I made that promise in desperation when I was the same as drunk. The priest thought I was out of my mind. Surely God knows too. How could I have known that Samuel would become my whole world. I CAN'T give him up. Not yet, anyway."

Whatever thoughts she had, she kept to her promise. Did she mail him cookies for his birthday? Or give him a phone for his twelfth birthday, just in case a problem came up where he might need to text her?

She must have lie awake some nights wondering if he was safe, if he missed her or if he would later understand the promise she'd made to hand him over. I can guess that if she's anything like me she poured out sorrow that the child she'd begged for was out of arms' reach.

Moving on to the next section, are Eli's Wicked Sons. Wait. What? Eli? Wicked Sons? The same Eli that Hannah just handed over guardianship to? We find in 1 Samuel that "Eli's sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord." They slept with women who served at the temples entrance. You can debate whether or not Eli was a good father. It's not up for debate, however, whether or not her son Samuel was exposed to unsavory behavior. Wouldn't Samuel have been much better off sheltered by his mother who could monitor what he watched on YouTube and who he hung out with.

Instead, I've always thought, she gave her only child up to live with an almost blind man who kept sending her son back to bed that night when he rightly insisted there was a voice calling him in his room. See 1 Samuel chapter three of you've forgotten about that initial misunderstanding

It occurred to me just this morning that she didn't give him up. She gave him over and then kept giving him over. We know that she visited Shiloh annually bringing him a robe she'd made for him. But she kept to her promise and trusted God with her most beloved possession. Each year she made the annual sacrifice and made the journey back home without him.

So now I give him to the LORD, for his whole life he will be given over..."

1 Samuel 1:28

In following section titles we read that her little Samuel grows up and subdues, and anoints and rebukes in service to the one he was truly given over to. Samuel said it best when he set up an Ebenezer stone after a victory proclaiming, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."

I think about Hannah often. The heart of a mom often results in (drunk-like) babbling. If we're not pleading to be given a child, we're pleading on behalf of our child; that God would reveal what ails their body in an illness and that He would heal them. We cry out when they've been the subject of cruelty; hoping that God might protect their hearts, and maybe mildly smite the person who hurt them.

Moms babble.

What's important is who we babble to. Is there any trust beyond our pleading? As we give God our complaints, will we also give over our son, our daughter, our spouse? Or do we just give over what we don't want?

I find it worth celebrating that Samuel's life began and ended in Ramah, the home of Hannah.

"But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was."

1 Samuel 7:17

We're called to trust Him no matter the cost, but in His nature God gives so much more than is ever taken away.



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The hubby and I sat in the living room this morning before things got busy. Like usual, I'd think of something I needed to tell him the second he was immersed in watching a YouTube video. My interruption timing is impeccable.

I'd thought to tell him about the twenty minutes I'd spent with our oldest, Hayden, several nights ago in the garage. Before making my fourth interruption of the morning I was struck again by the thought Hayden no longer lives under our roof. As I thought to share about the short visit Hayden and I had, my throat protested and my nose started stinging, something that happens often since the kids have started growing up and away. So instead, I'm typing it out. Somehow it's easier. And maybe readers won't taunt me in my mildly emotional state like the person I'm so fond of interrupting.

Our oldest, Hayden, closed on his first house a little over a week ago while Jason and I were out of the country. How did he possibly manage without us? -The same way he got a truck on his own and became employed, with us on the sidelines.

Not only is our son moving out and getting a place of his own. We're getting closer to a wedding. He's starting a family of his own.

Helping take his things over to his new house last Sunday was a reminder. The apartment that sat dark behind our house last night is evidence. So was the short, but absolutely sweet conversation I had with my firstborn in the garage earlier this week.

Hayden is our conversationalist kid. Taking after me in this one area, he can talk for hours about anything, or nothing at all. Night owls when it comes to conversation, I can't count the times we stayed up late just to talk. Those times serve as some of my favorite memories, even the times when he vehemently disagreed with me just for the sake of having a spirited debate.

When Hayden stopped by the other night to grab his weights from the garage, I jumped at the chance to open the garage door and say hi. We had another one of our treasured conversations while I sat on top of a dusty storage container and he gathered lifting equipment. I asked about his day at work and watched how his new puppy followed his every step. It's ironic, someone's following him now.

Our talk reminded me of the scene in Father of the Bride where Steve Martin and his daughter play basketball in the driveway one last time. Perhaps we had our last long conversation before he says I will, to his sweet bride.

Don't get me wrong. I'm lucky. He found a house only a few minutes away. He found a girl who thinks he's as good as I think his dad is. She's like my third daughter who gets an equal amount of unsolicited advice as the other two girls. And she's just as good as Hayden at providing good company. We can talk for hours!

There was just a difference in this conversation. In nights passed he and I talked until I began to doze. We'd say goodnight knowing that I'd see him the next day. This time the rattle of the closing garage door seemed to hum that change is coming.

Naturally I'm feeling a little sentimental about it. Strangely, I'm a little excited. Much of the work I've done, those carefully laid out instructions, all the moral prompting, frequent reminders, the telling looks...they'll be quite limited if existent at all. That's the plan anyway.

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I've been a devoted (even if not perfect) agent of God's instructions and His grace; careful to best show my son the way to go. I've loved him even when, especially when, he's gone a way contrary to the way I pointed.

There's still instruction and grace to be had. But not so much from me, as if any of the good was ever from me. He'll learn more in depth, and I'll be reminded, who we all really depend on. I'm thinking of it as a promotion for us both. He's become an adult. He's adding a beautiful girl to our family. And I'm a grateful spectator.

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Hayden and Haley 



Most likely you've heard the story of the prodigal son. You have a guy who asks his dad for his share of the estate. He takes it and goes off and spends it all, as Luke 15 tells us, on "wild living". His older brother, who bitterly speaks up later in the story, divulges that part of his younger brother's partying involved prostitutes.

We get a good look at the foolish younger son, a responsible (and farther on in the story,) angry older brother, and a loving father. Who's not mentioned in this tale is the mother. Was there a mother? Because if so, I can't imagine that she'd not receive any commentary; especially if she's anything like me.

If the prodigal son's mom was like this chick, I can imagine there would be more to this story, or else it would be altogether different.

Here's how I see it would have went down. We'll call the dad "J". (That's what I call Jason. Let's just imagine that this dad's name was Jacob or Joseph or something or other with a J.)

One night after going to bed I 'd whisper,

"J, your boy is worrying me. He got four boxes from Amazon Prime yesterday. I think he's already spent all his birthday money, but he won't do anything around here to earn money. He stayed out past curfew last night and was talking a bunch yesterday about taking a long road trip. I don't like it." He doesn't have the funds or the sense for it.

Four days later after having come into the estate, the boy would announce his leaving. After quickly floundering between a lecture and bribery I'd attempt to encourage him to stay. I'd warn him of the dangers, suggest that such a trip was selfish, and remind him of all the opportunity on the home front. Maybe out of guilt or obligation he would stay, at least for a little while.

Home is best. At his own house, he would never have to eat the pods intended for those pigs he eventually got a job feeding. He'd have better job and friend prospects and would never have met those prostitutes. Maybe with my constant interference, he'd have learned to save his money, start to take to heart all the godly wisdom I had to offer, and eventually he would have found a good girl to settle down with.

If he'd decided to leave anyway, I'd probably remind "J" of all the signs that I'd collected suggesting our boy was drifting wayward and then I'd beat myself up over all the other signs I'd missed. I'd be angry that I hadn't been able to convince him to stay home. I'd dream up all kinds of troubled scenarios about what he was doing wherever he was. I wouldn't sleep well at night. I'd pray giving God an idea on how the scenario could best be played out.

It's an honest and probable part of a prodigal son's story, had a prodigal son had a mama like me. To be fair, maybe this dad suffered nightmares,concocted rescue plans and felt miserable over all the should haves too.

Thankfully, the story we read in Luke 15 isn't centered on coercion. It isn't about how the father (or parents) might have avoided their son making poor choices which resulted in suffering, also making for the juiciest gossip back home had anyone gotten ahold of the information.

The story is about a child who was allowed room to hunger, to really hunger, as painful as the process was. It's about someone who came to his senses, only after he had spent everything and he began to be in need; something he might never have truly understood had mama anything to say about it. He went home, only he went home different, repentant...knowing his need.

We're a prodigal people. We know God as Father and yet choose to go our own way, believing we know best, or else not caring because pleasure calls. We squander His riches. He waits for our return, faithfully loving us from the distance we chose to put between.

Waiting fathers, fix-it mamas and all us wayward children...we seldom choose an empty stomach or a broken heart. Still...

We never know the value of our filling like we do when we've been allowed to hunger.

Thank you God for pig pods and and poverty that lead us back home.



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I've been a woman on a mission today. Family starts showing up for graduation tomorrow and, amongst a hundred other things that need to be done, the bathrooms need to be cleaned.

Currently I'm somewhere between finishing the bathroom floors and mopping the kitchen. I've scrubbed the base of the floor by the kitchen cabinets with Bounce fabric sheets. Those things smell good and have just the right amount of grit to clean stubborn parts of the tile.

I tell you about that shadowed place I tended to under the cabinets because otherwise you probably wouldn't know the work they required. And just maybe you too find yourself, every once in a while, catching a glimpse of your own messy, hard-to-reach places, surprised.

Our oldest daughter graduates on Thursday (but you probably already know that, given my picture posting and other ways of chronic announcement.) What you may not know are details of some tough chapters through her school years and difficult life tests, pre-diploma. Our letter board on the hutch in my living room boasts:

"Yay Hallie. You did it!"

There's a depth to those words that stretches past grades or cap and gown. She'll walk across that stage after having walked through a fire or two without the world having smelled smoke. Her transcript won't show that.

I suspect that most students (and their parents) celebrate not only a graduation, but the fact that tigers have been fought while battling long division in elementary or Anatomy and Physiology in high school.

There's a story underneath each cap and gown. All we know is that each story is at a page turn. Oh, but what's on the pages. That's what we parents are shedding a hot mess of tears over.

"We're making it," I started to tell a fellow mom today. The truth is we're more than making it. With God's help, our children have overcome a passel of private struggles. And thus they're stronger and outfitted with the proof that God goes with them and before them.

It's bittersweet, but we'll call this a victory.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:35,37




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I bought this shirt around a week ago. I like it so much I've worn it twice since. I sent a picture of it to my mom because the words on it have special meaning.

My mom battled cancer back in 2006. She entered the fight, already a victim. She'd forever been captive to chronic worry.

God brought a change in her that still baffles those of us who know her best. Usually not one to approach others, her fear and anxiety in social situations seemed to dissipate.

By making and sharing bookmarks bearing a poem she'd written she'd entertain strangers and encourage the downtrodden. (She still does.)

I don't ever remember her complaining or talking about the what if's.

Her fight seemed to uncover a mission.

I told her one time that she'd turned from a worrier into a warrior. I thought I coined the phrase...so hearing it now, and seeing it on T-shirts brings a mix of pleasure and disappointment (Why didn't I get that brilliance on a mug or a shirt myself?)

I wore it on lonnnnng yesterday. Then I just left it on and slipped on some pajama bottoms and then wore it last night for a round of ridiculously stressful dreams; the kind I have following weary days.

Opening my eyes this morning I started to think about the nightmares I had last night. (I make it a practice to take awful dream inventory so that I can compare myself to Stephen King or other creepy storytellers.) I guess you say I collect bad dreams and write nightmares.

Let's just say I'm surprised I'm still wearing the shirt. Both yesterday and the other occasion I put it on ended up being two of the harder days in recent history. Both days presented overwhelming concerns and some decent sized heartache. If I believed in omens, this shirt would fall under the bad omen category.

Good thing I don't believe in omens.

I will wear the shirt. I won't replay broken dreams. And I'm going to stop thinking ahead, doomingly writing scary scripts on my future. There's no place for such.

I'm the daughter of a warrior.

You are my war club, my weapon for battle— Jeremiah 51:20



I can’t remember ever having “the talk” with my mom. We didn’t talk much about private matters in my house growing up. That’s mostly how things worked (or maybe it didn’t work) in my generation.

I learned what a jock strap was my fifth-grade year, though not from very good teachers. (My friends, through lunch table conversation, told me our teacher Mrs. Jones was wearing one.) I learned about the stuff you’re supposed to do when you get married (and not before then) from movies like Dirty Dancing as I hit junior high (or when I watched movies and listened to music at friends’ houses who had less strict parents than mine).

When it comes to your body, I 'm suggesting you keep it holy. Who am I talking to here?

  • You, the one who hasn’t even had your first kiss yet (Save that thing for someone special.)

  • You, Ms. Will of Steel who said long ago you were going to wait and you’re determined you’ll keep on waiting until you become Mrs. Whoever. (Stick to that commitment!)

  • You, the girl who is thinking about giving in, but so far hasn’t (Stay strong even if you’re in the minority amongst your peers).

  • You, who’ve been taken advantage of. Someone took your choice; they stole something you didn’t give away (You’re not responsible or found guilty for what someone else has done to you.)

  • And you, the one who made a choice one time (or maybe even many times) to share something sacred, your body (You aren’t ruined. Your opportunity to keep your body holy is not removed. God is in the business of redeeming what is His.)

God wants the same from each of us. He wants us to honor God with our bodies:

  1. Because following his design brings him glory

  2. Because he knows the turmoil that can come when we make dishonorable choices and he wants to spare us that pain

What has happened to you in the past and any choice you have already made doesn’t put an end to your chance to choose today. Wherever you are in your journey, God is calling you to

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Honoring God by being obedient to him isn’t always easy. Honoring God is impossible without a personal relationship with him. Ask God’s help before you’re tempted and when you’re feeling tempted. If you have suffered abuse at the hands of someone you trusted, or even a complete stranger, allow God to heal you. He will.

Talk to him when you need his help to start choosing better after a time of going against his design. Always remember, nothing surprises him. Nothing is too disappointing or too messy for him to handle. Just try him. He’s waiting.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)

Sexual immorality is the sharing of your body outside of marriage (in many forms including sending nude pictures). God designed the body to be shared in marriage only.

Honoring God with your body requires good boundaries. Which of the following boundaries do you practice?

Relationship Boundaries Checklist

___I go by a rule to not be alone with the person I’m dating.

___I don’t go into my girlfriend/boyfriend’s room.

___The person I’m dating knows that I’m a believer and respects my beliefs.

___The person I’m dating is a believer.

___The person I’m dating knows that I am committed to sharing my body only in marriage and he respects that commitment.

___I communicate with my parents about who I’m dating.

___I communicate with my parents as to where we are at all times.

I talk to God about my relationship:

___when it’s new

___when I’m feeling tempted

___I treat the person I’m dating, the way I would want someone else to treat my sibling. (I treat my boyfriend the way I would want my brother to be treated by a girl.)

___I’m cautious not to fill my heart with movies and music that advertise sex (or treat sex casually.)

___I don’t engage with those who make crude sexual remarks, or ask for inappropriate pictures

___I’m fully dressed when interacting with my boyfriend/girlfriend, even on the phone.

___ I don’t seek dating advice from those who would encourage me to cross boundaries.

___I have someone who I have asked to be my accountability partner when I am dating.  They know they are free to ask me if I’m keeping good boundaries. I can tell them when I am feeling tempted and ask them to pray for me.

Write down the names of (and contact) two people who you can count on to pray for you, be in your business, and help keep you on track as you seek to honor God with your body.




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It started with a Facebook meme yesterday, posted by someone who's obviously ready for summer. “Four Mondays left!”

And then Hallie reminded me that I’d mentioned we should go to breakfast a few times on her late mornings these last weeks of school.

Her dad and I took her for breakfast this morning where she had a bananas foster waffle and thought we were heroes again for just a second.

To make things clear, these aren’t just the last weeks before summer, but the last weeks before she zips up that long black gown and dons a graduation cap whose tassel will swing before those warm brown eyes of hers. We're in the last weeks before she walks across that stage and closes a chapter of her life, and mine.

I’ve already been through this graduating thing with her brother. I spent the whole year crying; one time in my closet to conceal my snubbing.

Though equally touched, I’ve been better with Hallie outside the incident in March where I lost my marbles in Walmart while rolling my cart from the automotive section to the beauty section. The toy aisle just so happens to be between and I accidentally caught a glimpse of girl toys.

My mind went back to hours spent there picking out Littlest Pet Shops which would later be posed; tiny plastic models photographed by Hallie with the digital camera she got from her grandma.

I pulled the cart onto the aisle next to the Barbies and sobbed. The next day she turned eighteen.

Closing chapters is hard because closing chapters means at least a little bit of letting go. A friend reminded me not so long ago that hands that release have space to embrace the next thing coming.

We can't help the tears that come out of nowhere seizing our eyes and somehow stinging the back of our throat. They've earned their place on our cheek or the back of our index finger as we wipe our eye corner before anyone sees.

But make no mistake, as much as I welcome the tears, I invite joy onto these final pages. After some tough seasons we made it.

We have accomplishments to celebrate...Lessons learned to victory over too. Excitement is here smiling ear to ear.

For all the things we leave behind, we carry with us our most precious, treasured memories and those secrets that whispered to us about fragile, beautiful life. We'll meet up with the yet to be discovered in this next chapter. We're just adding to the pages.

Yes, we made it...and we're making it.