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It's About Who We Are, Not What We Do - The Glorious Table

Living just four blocks down the street from my best friend made it easy to share clothes, secrets, and families. We could be found within a close radius of her backyard pool most summer days. The rhythm of our summer days revolved around Gretchen’s dad’s third-shift work schedule. During the morning hours, the house needed to stay dark and quiet, so we picked peppermint leaves to chew, painted our nails, and read books. Not long after lunchtime, Mr. Liddell would wake up, which paved the way for our favorite summer activity: synchronized swimming routines. We practiced and laughed until we felt ready for an audience. Gretchen’s dad always stopped mid-project to be amazed by our mildly in sync pool programs. He clapped and went back to work while we kept playing. His presence was as steady as the summer sun. He wasn’t merely my friend’s dad; he was a comfortable, expected constant in my life. The familiarity born by all those shared moments made his cancer diagnosis particularly awful
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How to Be OK When You’re in a Funk - The Glorious Table

My favorite jeans are starting to cut into my waist in an uncomfortable way. The grocery order keeps getting delayed when we’re already out of milk. The dog has gotten into the trash again. My kids carry individual sadnesses I can’t fix for them. It’s rainy and cold. My hip aches at night sometimes. People I thought were dependable turn out not to be. I’ve turned out to be not as dependable as I thought I was. My dad is sick. I suddenly need reading glasses for the fine print. It’s impossible to predict which of these disappointments will have the power to push me into a full-on funk. I have days that feel so full of hope and possibility that I have the juice to face the big stuff with faith and trust. Other days start out already negative, so even good things feel bad. Funks and feelings don’t submit to the scientific method. They often multiply uncertainties and disappointments until the weight of dark clouds feels too heavy for my one set of shoulders to bear. I have a feeling that

What You Need, When You Need It - The Glorious Table

We ate steak at the fanciest place in town, me and my sister, our husbands, and our parents. Around the table, we joined Mom’s reminiscing. We retold our favorite stories of family vacations and holidays. We revealed some silly childhood secrets. And we listened to Mom’s stories from fifty years she and Dad spent together. One of our favorite stories is of the birthday Mom expected a diamond ring but went home from their swanky dinner with a shiny new set of hot rollers. Whenever Mom tells that story, instead of making fun of Dad for his slow-moving ways, she praises his serious, methodical decision making. She points to it as proof of his dependability. My mom told stories. I told stories. My sister told stories. Even our husbands had memories to share. We retold some of the stories Dad put on paper in his journal for us. The thing we missed most was Dad’s voice in the storytelling. Rather than telling the stories himself, he locked eyes on the teller and responded, “By golly, that ha

Fear - You're Not the Boss of Me Anymore! - Part 2

My dad’s soul left for heaven four months, one day, and about fourteen hours ago and I haven’t dissolved into a pile of nothing yet. I’m more okay than my fear ever let me think was possible. I’ve weathered the scariest thing in my life and imagination better than I expected to because of the “ Lesson Learned ” God is teaching me right now. Lesson Learned: The security you found in your dad’s opinion of you was an important part of God’s plan, but not all of God’s plan. The things your dad gave you were a downpayment on the things God, your good Father is giving you now. Your dad carefully stewarded your self-worth and in ways invisible to you, has been carefully handing the baton back to God. More of how you see yourself is currently resting in how God sees you than you realized. This is why you are okay. God used one of my favorite Psalms to spell this out for me. God’s voice has been especially loud during miscarriages, disappointments, and fears through Psalm 103. I love that he br

Fear - You're Not the Boss of Me Anymore! - Part 1

I had a recurring nightmare as a child. It woke me in the middle of the night and kept me awake worrying about whether it would fill my mind as soon as I closed my eyes. I thought I would outgrow it. I hoped my adult brain would be able to see things my child’s brain couldn’t and I would be free. Instead, a panicky fear of my Dad dying followed me into marriage and parenting. I’m 49 years old and until recently, the nightmare still showed up in various forms. This year my beloved Daddy died. I watched him take his last breath in front of me and imagined him arriving with the next in heaven. My whole life I’ve been clenched up around the fear that watching him die might break something inside of me and I couldn’t survive.  It didn’t happen. I’m more okay than I ever thought possible. My dad isn’t living anymore, he’s not here on earth for me to talk to or touch and I’m sitting upright and in my right mind. Today I’m amazed at my okayness. Finally being free of this fear I’ve lived with

Hack Yourself First - the Life Hack that Changes Everything

If you start looking for hacks to make your life simpler and happier in the wrong places, you will accomplish the exact opposite of what you hope. You will spin out on solutions to problems you don’t have. You will waste energy trying to feel good about accomplishments that don’t matter to you. You’ll quit because it didn’t work. Shortcuts are good for two things: finishing faster or having more fun.   When we drive from Grand Rapids to Chicago for a fun weekend in the city we usually want to get there as quickly as possible so the fun can begin. Extra time spent wandering through Gary, Indiana in the car isn’t tempting when deep dish pizza and a show are waiting for us in Chicago. We want to shave time off the trip any way we can. We’re looking for a time-saving shortcut, an efficiency hack.  You can only find a shortcut to an actual destination. Until we’ve set a course to Chicago, there’s no way to find a quicker path. Before I know I want to have a garden, it’s silly to figure out

Preparing Your Kids to Fly - The Glorious Table

My friend discovered a nest in a tree next to her driveway, and she watched it all summer. It was perfectly hidden behind a few branches but easily seen when you knew which ones to pull back. Each time my friend bent one of those branches, she witnessed a new stage of development happening right on cue. Tiny eggs nestled in a warm, safe spot. Momma bird brought food to her pink babies. Fully feathered babies chirped and bounced inside the nest. One day I was with her as she made her daily nest check. She pulled back a branch, but she didn’t lean in as I expected. Instead, she jumped back in surprise as a baby bird took its maiden voyage inches from her face! She turned to me with wonder in her words. “I can’t believe it! These birds have never flown before!” With her next breath, she told me how she was sure they were ready. I said those words a week later as we loaded my twin daughters’ belongings into our van bound for their freshman year college dorm: “I know they’re ready, bu