day 17 & Five Minute Friday: long

I would be rich if I had a dollar for each time someone (a stranger in Target usually) tells me while my kids are in the midst of a tantrum, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Yes, yes, they are, I want to reply – “IF YOU’RE LOOKING BACK ON THEM IN HINDSIGHT.” I want to add. And probably in an all-caps tone of voice too.

Yet it’s true, isn’t it, the way that what’s long in the midst of it seems short looking back on it. In my own stories of suffering, the moments feel impossibly long when you’re waiting to see if your mom’s chemo treatment will successfully eradicate her cancer, or when you’re unsure of the length of bedrest before your twins will arrive, or when you cannot remember the last time you slept more than 2 hours at a time, or while awaiting news of acceptance to your top college, or simply the last time you were sick in bed with the flu.

I think patience is called “longsuffering” for a reason. Patience is to suffer long. But to keep suffering … waiting … hoping for relief, believing it will come one day and that “long” will turn to “short” from the perspective of eternity. So whatever it is for you that feels long today, know this: first, it IS long. But also secondly, it WILL pass and there is grace for the “long” to become the patience of “longsuffering.”


Part of the October writing challenge, extending my favorite Friday writing exercise into 31 days of five minute free-writes. Read more here.

Five Minute “Friday”: joy

Life has been full here. Full in a good way – Seth and I both enjoying the challenges and privileges of our jobs and of parenting two beautiful, funny, exasperating twin three-year-old daughters. Trying not to lose sight of each other in the midst of a busy season. Trying to remember the busy season is that – a season – and thinking about how to proactively create space and a different pace at the conclusion of this spring season of Easter, my retreat speaking, his mission trip to Peru.

So here I am, this Saturday morning instead of yesterday morning, doing my favorite blog prompt by Lisa-Jo Baker. Five minutes to free-write – no editing, no second-guessing, just writing. Today’s word: JOY.


photo credit:

Joy comes hidden. It’s not where you might expect it to show up. It may be part of the grand wedding day, the huge birthday bash, the day you see your name in print for the first time, the graduation, the job promotion, the moment you cradle your newborn and gaze into her wide-awake-to-the-world eyes.

But more often, joy has come for me in surprising places. Like the day after weeks of weeping for a love lost and you realize you can hear the birds singing again. Or the time in the very midst of suffering you thought you’d never live through that you hit something sustaining you under it and through it. Happy? Of course not. But there’s a rock-bottom Joy that holds you as you fall; that keeps you; that assures you you’ll not be utterly undone. 

Joy is what gives courage to face the hard, the impossible, the sad. It will not have the last say. Joy will still be there. Joy will increase more for all the sadness we know now. For, as Sally Lloyd-Jones says in The Jesus Storybook Bible, heaven is a day “when everything sad comes untrue.” She alludes to the mystery that  every heartache and heartbreak and dark season of the soul will somehow increase Joy for the one who finds refuge in the man of sorrows, Jesus, the most joyful one who was also the most sorrowful.

Can I fight for joy (not happiness) even in pain and suffering and loss? Yes, yes, yes. Wait for it. It will come as surely as the sunrise after a long, dark night.


Remembering Beverlee

Yes, this might be another tear-jerking post, so consider yourself warned. But I could not let today go by without remembering Beverlee Kirkland. It was a year ago today that this dear friend and mentor passed away. What a woman of grace she was! She continues to be someone I remember and whose presence in my life I miss. She prayed regularly with me and for me, even while suffering from complications related to diabetes that left her home-bound and often hospitalized during the two years I knew her. A year later when I find myself in a similar place of being confined to home while on bed rest, she continues to be an example to me of faithful, selfless love even in the midst of suffering and physical limitations.

So in honor and memory of Bev, here are a few things she’s left behind as a legacy for me personally (and I would imagine for many more as well):

(1) Self-less love and concern for others while undergoing intense suffering. Whenever I would visit her, whether at home or in the hospital, she always began our conversations by asking me how I was doing. She would follow-up with specific things I had asked her to pray about and was always others-centered.

(2) The importance of putting on your makeup even when you’re sick. Laugh if you may, but this reflected her grace and style. She was a classy woman always, and she’d have her makeup on even when in the hospital. So during my brief stint  in the hospital a few weeks ago, I remembered this and put on my makeup and my pearl earrings as a tribute to Bev.

(3) How a cup of tea leads to rich conversation. Whenever we met at her home, we would first fix a pot of hot British tea. And somehow, that just set the tone for a more thoughtful and rich discussion. She was quite the hospitality queen, and I frequently ask myself, “What would Bev do?” when I’m preparing to have guests over. It’s really the little details that can make a big difference.

(4) The privilege of prayer. In her last months when she was feeling so weak and ill, she still prayed for me and many others. When her eyesight kept her from reading, she could still keep praying – and she did. She showed me what a privilege prayer is, and the real ministry it is to the church. She helped to build our church through her prayers, even when she couldn’t physically be involved.

(5) How Jesus bestows dignity and beauty to suffering. She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever known, and this is because of the Christ-like beauty that shone through her even more so as she suffered. Christ was her strength, to her last day, and her suffering was made beautiful because of Christ’s radiance shining through her. There’s a picture and an obituary at this site (scroll down).

I know that she is Home with Jesus now, and that gives those of us left behind great comfort and hope. Yet we still miss her. And I hope that one day I will leave a similar legacy. She is now in the company of one of the witnesses urging us on to run with perseverance this race marked out for us by our King, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3).