One of the most memorable moments for me in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings was a video that emerged after the lockdown and subsequent manhunt. The video showed residents, freed from the restrictions placed on them, gathering in the streets to applaud passing police officers and spontaneously break out into a rendition of the national anthem.

Members of Congress singing the anthem, post-9/11
As I watched the much-shared link on Facebook, tears stung my eyes and my throat closed up. It reminded me of how, in the aftermath of 9/11, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle gathered to sing the national anthem and “God Bless America!” As I watched the two highly divided groups come together, if only for a moment, I felt my own pride in my country, in civility, in the strength of community, rising up within me. 

It was a heartfelt moment.

In an era where we constantly see division, where red is against blue, pro-life is against pro-choice, where the haves and have-nots collide, where the beliefs and morals and ideas and ideals seem to move further and further from each other, a brief, shining moment of unity like the post-9/11 and post-Boston ones seem like a moment out of time, dreamlike in its rarity.

But it’s also true that while our American culture is divided, it is merely a reflection of the division I see in our churches.

Friends, I'm writing for Bridging the Gap this week. My post is about a condition I struggle with off and on. Although I'm currently in the "off" stage, I wrote this in the midst of my struggle last winter.
Pain. I hate it. And I live with it. It showed up in my first pregnancy. And then it showed up in my second pregnancy. And now it recurs periodically, usually triggered by intense stress. I'm currently in the midst of an "episode,” and it has been crippling my back and leg everyday and night for two months.
I try not to complain, but it limits what I can do with my kids; it limits my physical activity; it limits my quality of life. One recent night as I laid awake amid spasming back muscles and sore hips, I prayed the verse I have returned to over and over and over again: Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
And so, that sleepless night, I told the Lord, "I know you can heal this pain, but, please, until this gets fixed, if I can do any good in the midst of this pain, in this midst of this struggle, let me do it."
You can read the full post here.

This past week, I came across a picture of myself from several years ago. I looked so hopeful. So happy. So young. I remember at the time thinking that I was mature to be going to college a year ahead of my classmates as a post-secondary student, but now, looking back, I wonder how my parents could have let me go! I was just seventeen, practically a baby, with so much more to learn. I began to think of all the things that have happened since that time, the paths God has led me down, the growth and changes that have come over time, and I wondered, “What would I like to tell that young woman now that I am just a little bit older? What would I want her to know?” And so I thought  I would write her a letter…

The view of my backyard today
I hate this snow. Okay, not really. But I’m definitely sick of it. My husband keeps telling me, “Stop complaining about it!” To which I respond, “Who’s complaining? I’m just being honest.”

Such a small thing.

And this morning when my daughter’s crying because I put her hair up first - "without curling it, mom!” And I get upset and yell back at her, "I was going to curl it, just after I’d put it up!”

I get so frustrated. Over nothing.

This morning during my quiet time I read Romans 1:21 that talks about the wrath of God and explains, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

 Hi friends! I'm posting over at Bridging the Gap's website this week. My daughter's "friend" birthday party is going to be a little different this year -- no gifts. Instead, her party will be at our local animal shelter (who knew the shelter hosted birthdays?!?) and the kids will "serve" by helping groom or pet the animals. With the help of my local United Way, I put together a whole list of fun service projects kids could do at a birthday party, or anytime, really.  Here is a preview, then follow the link for the rest of the article!  
My daughter is almost five. She wants a friend birthday party. As she spoke excitedly about friends and her invitation list, I inwardly cringed at the thought of more presents, more stuff, more toys that eventually wind up unloved in the corners of her room.

You see, my children are BLESSED. They have grandparents and aunts and uncles who shower them with love and gifts. They have no needs, only wants. Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to have fun things. But I also want my children to love Jesus and know what it means to serve, to love others, to share. 

As I struggled with how to handle the multiple birthday parties (we have family scattered and so end up with numerous parties), I sent an email to my local United Way Volunteer Coordinator asking whether or not there were any easy volunteer activities that young girls would enjoy and could do during a birthday party. She provided me with an entire list of wonderful ideas, and I thought I’d pass them on. Contact your own United Way, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services or other relief organizations in your community for other ideas -- you’ll find the staff knows about needs you may never have considered.  
Read the full article HERE.

This morning I’m disgruntled. And although it's raining and there’s the possibility of snow again this week, in the middle of April, I know that isn’t it. This past weekend I went to a women’s conference and it was amazing. I got to spend time with so many wonderful women, met a lot of new friends, learned and laughed a lot while listening to some engaging, insightful speakers. It was wonderful. And tiring.

Saturday night I got home, had a quiet dinner with my husband, and curled up in bed at 7:30 p.m. I slept well, but still felt tired on Sunday.  The height of my wonderful weekend dropped me straight into a pit of frustration and a general feeling of down-in-the-dumps on this Monday morning, where I find myself writing in my journal: Frustration and weariness. Seems like they go hand in hand. Why do I feel so frustrated today?