Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Sitting at the end of the couch, I tighten the grey flannel cover around me on this cold November evening, less than one week before we gather around a table giving thanks for all that we are daily given.

Homework complete, my senior boy loads his heavy backpack and stand stretches to stare his last look at the football action on TV, and with a"goodnight,"  he turns to make way to the stairs. But with a slow halt in step, he stops and steps back where I sit reclined on the couch. He slow leans, long, and positions his cheek before my lips with a "goodnight" benediction, waiting for my lips to give him a final kiss goodnight. 

I  smile kiss the stubble cheek offered me by my 18 year old man-boy. And I am suspended in time. I am captured by my raw emotions  that whirl at the awe of his gesture.  He has no idea how one simple cheek leaned toward his mom tonight warms my insides. 

My memory quickens to a soft kiss on the cheek of my sleeping baby being held closely in my arms while rocking him to sleep. I suspend emotion in time. That kiss that held me still then is the kiss the holds me still now; the memory holds my throat tight with slow tears welling. Those tender-touch memories faded to toddler kisses: lip-bumps on rosy running busy lips, as many as you please kisses with games of giggles, soothe the sob and sore knees kisses.  

And the truth is that I have little description for what those offerings of kisses do to me.  This strong heart beats faint. They unwind my emotions of gratitude and weave them with the gentle reminders of time's fury beating: tick, tick, tick. 

And I am gut-wrench grateful that he leans his cheek. 

Sensing that he purposes to bless me with his kiss races my heart. Suspending his busy to blend a moment of his world with mine creates this destiny dizzy love. This not at all necessary act that he chose to make paramount becomes blessing in the offered gift. 

And this kiss becomes a simple revelation: 
This is how I bless God

I bless God when I lean long and intentionally toward Him and allow him to touch my life with His lips of grace. Oh, don't I know that He waits to kiss my life; it's a written promise on our hearts that it will always be given. Don't I know the mere offering floods a deep well of smiles.  Don't I know I bless God with my offering. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013


A group of moms folding report cards together pass the time talking about their sons.  We taper the swelling pride of their recent football accomplishments with sarcastic remarks about their clean rooms, always an easy teen target for complaint.

We discover our spaces are no different.

Walking through piles on the floor is like managing land mines.  Sarcastically, I share my son's three pile organizational method: the obviously folded pile which is sometimes still in the basket, the dirty laundry pile, and the already worn but can be worn again pile.  Another admittedly perfectionist mom offers her solution of Saturday grounding if the rooms are cluttered with clothes.

A couple other moms and I, the recovering perfectionist mom, admit we gave up the laundry grounding ghost a while ago. Our logic  their space is now their space, unless it invades ours.  We recommend closed doors.  I recall my fair warnings to my eighteen year old senior son: "I'm telling ya,
you are going to be in big trouble when you get to college and have to room with someone."

Not realizing my fortune in my son's three pile organization, one mom enlightens me.  Her son will not wear his clothes more than once and his brother desperately tarries to convince him otherwise: "When you do your own laundry, I'm telling ya man, you will wear your clothes more than once." We laugh in the knowing that when they have to pay for their laundry and spend their own time,  they will wear their jeans until they stand up in the corner of the room on their own. (Easier access I would suppose.)

But her eighteen year old boy along with mine are invading our space! They have a fourth laundry pile. They  leave their laundry on the laundry room counter for extended periods of time and frequently dress from it. My son has come down nearly naked in search of clothes quite a few times.

I realize your easy, don't know my son's world solution would be to let him do his own laundry and simply force him to take his laundry upstairs.

But isn't it just like life that our easy solutions aren't how others sort, fold, launder, and organize life, and we have to learn to manage living surrounded with the messes of life.

But it is also just like life that another person's way of living and organizing their space affects how we live and are able to manage our world. Isn't it so true that we are, at times, smoothly welcomed into another person's world, and even miraculously after they share their dirty laundry. Then, other times, we encounter great difficulty navigating life and understanding the way other people choose to sort their lives.

Isn't it just like life that the simple solution seems to just complete the work  for another to save them the time and trouble, to give advice to our kids, to our brothers, to our sisters so they will learn now and avoid getting washed out in pain learning later. But isn't it just like life that we often don't heed others advice because we  learn best by living through the experience, not just hearing the warnings.

And when our dirty laundry is aired to the world, isn't it just like life that when we need to clean up our mess, we are grateful for the past advice we were given and really love the brother that tells us "I'll tell ya" 
without an added "I told you so."

Friday, November 22, 2013



If you want to be heard in this screaming, noisy world, lower your voice and whisper grace.

I'm not sure if this is good pedagogy, but I have used it on many occasions in the teaching arena. 

When the room begins to buzz with scattered corner conversations, focus becomes blurred, bodies turn to nearest neighbors, collective voice decibels quickly rise as in released excitement, and the energy somehow swirls like a tornado, a good teacher realizes that if she wants instruction to continue, it just might be time to gain control before the class is swirl-swept down the drain. 

It always happens this way eventually. Some attentive student first notices that the teacher's lips are heading south into a possible frustrated frown while her eyes are intently scanning the crowd for the chaos infiltrators.  

And the weighted-worry of wondering grabs one student by the throat who silences another with dagger eyes and a finger lip hushed-weapon. And depending on the noise and chaos swirling in this student's body and mind, two more eyes might choose to join this early movement back to sanity, but usually they choose to remain reveling with the boundary breakers for any remaining moments before these break-away freedoms are taken into custody.

Continued chaos eventually captures even the tenacious talkers tender attention as their eyes raise to beg "why this allowance?" 

And in my casual quiet stance, more eyes beg the still faced, neutral lipped teacher. With no answer provided, the decision becomes personal: some choose to continue in the chaos, some choose to shush the crowd, some awe-stare and silently wait for the teacher-response.

And everyone knows the sense of slowed-time when we have waited for chaos to be reigned in. These moments seem like hours of sweating, nervous expectation.

And don't we all know how we really beg for life's noise and chaos to be controlled? And sometimes, we get it right and slow the moments to settle our hearts and minds. And sometimes we continue to swim in the current of the chaotic winds. 

Seconds seem like hours and the heart flutters and the head questions if hoping for alternatives to this masquerade of order, of normalcy for life, is futile. Are we drinking buckets of water through a thin coffee straw?The longer the waiting through the screeching noise, the harder the swim-search for hope.  

Students begin to hush other students into submission.  The ember hush begins to rekindle the extinguished quiet, but a shake of my head douses their hush efforts. 

And in a simple whisper voice, my words continue teaching...no hushing...no loud voice...no announcements of punishment for now or next time...no lecture. And the grace offered slowly infiltrates the students and is received with no outward acknowledgment, just relieved hearts.

Our tenacious tender hearts are apprehended by the chaos and clutter of our days; our hearts and minds swirl with the weight of daily expectations.  And grace is there; it whisper calls through the conforming, competing, comparing, controlling, confusing, commuting, and reconnects us to the Teacher's conversing. 

If you want to be heard in this screaming, noisy world, lower your voice and whisper grace.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


An hour and fifteen minutes floated ethereally by Friday evening as my sister, mom, and I absorbed stories.  We agreed with nodding heads in the common knowing about life and family, smiled at his high dimpled embarrassment, laughed out loud at his family's antics, but we also fell silent and our breath stopped at his pain. They were stories...just his life stories.  Stories from the life of Pat Conroy, author of many great books including one that became a movie many people, at least my age, would remember, The Prince of Tides.  

Okay, admittedly his stories had southern charm, and he was cute in a way that only a nearly seventy year old Irish man can be depicted. But the human heart bled from the hate he bore from endured abuse by his father, and yet our hearts along with his heart were cauterized by his discovered humanity within his father and by the miraculous arm of forgiveness  wrapped  around his father near his death. 

At the end of his telling, there hung that compelling moment that needs a response larger than a thank-you clap for what he remarkably and candidly bore from himself.  My heart wondered as the clapping began if I should give a standing ovation for such authenticity. And before I knew it, there stood my sister, quickly followed by the remainder of the room. 

Upon reflection, I don't give these ovations readily or often. What was my criteria?  Mr. Conroy certainly moved me with his passion and commitment to his story. And for that, honor should be bestowed. Moments that inspire us to look beyond ourselves at life's humanity and overwhelming gifts should be marked with such level of gratitude.  Why be selective?  Many have posed that in the frequency, the standing ovation becomes weakened in its significance. My measure will not be the frequency but rather the connective inspiration of the human spirit. 

Seeing the extraordinary among the ordinary. 

Returning military commanders in ancient Rome whose victories did not quite meet the requirements of a triumph but which were still praiseworthy were still celebrated with an ovation.  And I am inclined to think that I should give standing ovations  more readily and frequently because I do see much extra in our ordinary.  There is much worthy of praise. I won't count these as routine, but my ovations will mostly stand among the common.

Ovations for common ground for when a person pursues context over conflict...for common valor when a person pursues peace patiently and persistently in the face of  pain rather than give in to the compulsion of defeat or to destroy...for common ground when the kid still stands at the sidelines at practice and encourages his teammates after being eliminated from the glory by injury...common occurrences such as the policeman who gets cursed and spit on, lied about, and taken to court for protecting a person from himself and defending justice for others...for common effort for a son who isn't number one in his class but gets straight A's in honors and AP classes because he motivates himself to be prepared and study every day at school to his best for an uncertain future...for common friendship whose intuition to call a friend just might be what saved her life that day...for common love of an animal whose life alone gave joy immeasurable... common looks for a daughter's cheeks that will always quicken a kiss and a smile...for common jobs for a son whose hard work made his dream come true...for common pain  when a husband  perplexedly  learns about a spouse's Alzheimer's disease and then patiently nurtures her soul. My ovations stand among the common but are no less extraordinary.

Right there with Pat Conroy standing without a medal but still with our highest honors,  I begged my eyes that evening to begin to give standing ovations to all of those authentic, real, human moments that should be glorified because they inspire. A performance is not a comparison, it is within its own domain an inspiration. 

And strangely enough during the question and answer time that evening, I received a text from a student who wrote this humbling standing ovation to me. While the girls basketball team was rising to their feet, the ovation humbled me to my knees in gratitude that He who is for us in gift and life pours those from us for others to see:

"Hey, the basketball team is watching the movie Mighty Max and the freshmen are all saying the awesome main character lady reminds them of you and I kinda agree.  She's really  strong-willed and committed and strong in the faith and a great leader so no wonder she reminds us of you.  We love you Mrs. Roberson.---the basketball team."  

Why not give standing ovations to more than World Series winners and great musical performances?  Why not decide to give standing ovations for devotion to worthy endeavors of the human spirit that God embedded in all of us and are standing among our common day?  Why not decide to stand for living these type of moments?



Friday, November 8, 2013


It's a cold autumn fourth grade day, back to the day I began teaching 27 years ago. It's expectations of me to lead  with watching eyes fairness and clear directions and to listen to their routine to become part of  their every day.

But I'm  subbing, and  their days are  not really my daily business. My intrusion into their moments today finds remarkable acceptance. Wanting to help--needing to help-- is a fourth grader's crown jewel.

And it starts with questions--always questions--mostly they are comments masquerading as questions. But thank God for questions.

Straight to what matters questions: "Where is my teacher? Is she sick?"  And it is an unclear answer but close to I don't really know, but  she is "under the weather" and "it might be her hip." And I abide with their conversation for a bit, but but  my thoughts quicken to pray for their everyday fearless leader to subside  their growing undercurrent of speculative fear. Followed by a joke that maybe only me and one student gets that she really is under the weather and pressure because yesterday she could tell the weather by her hip.

It's fourth grade easy smiles and seeming trust and hoping and questions.

It's fourth grade double-digit addition review and working through answers on the sheet independently after instruction.  But it is real life and some times when girls double up for spelling word review and you are left alone, it can feel like double heart trouble. The slow bubble feelings inside not reviewed or worked through.

It's fourth grade researching the internet lesson disguised as pony express stories--a discussion of quick correspondence today compared to long-ago yesterday. They are wide-eyed amazed that my phone was connected to a wall with a three foot range and texting wasn't even around until I was an adult.

It's fourth grade and it's always teacher questions: "How would you get a message to someone you love like Grandma today?"  But it is a young girl's far away eyes that are wishing she could quickly get a message to mom and dad who took a trip this week, and this is day four or more for her.  It is wishing they would hurry and travel home, but knowing it is a great birthday present for one of them and even though they are not present "the good thing is they left a gift for me fo each day they are gone."

It's lunch and recess and watching the playground with four classes finding space for tag and  playground and basketball equipment.  But it's fourth grade and watching other girls laugh and and play and learning to equip your heart in the striving for space in a friend's.

It's fourth grade science: matter, air is matter, air has weight, and air creates pressure. It's so many teacher questions and two experiments they are eager to try at home with rulers and straws.  And the lesson flows so quickly, all wishing we could stay here longer.

And it's fourth grade and right now her entire world  is the matter to her.  The weight of today seems to crawl to a slow draw until the pressure inside rises causing her inside and face to  fall.  She wishes the pressure would equalize but today she feels the ton of atmosphere that she deals with every day on all sides. And she might just be six miles in the sky where breathing is nearly impossible because the air she silently gasps is getting thinner by 3:15.

And she can't measure her feelings any more than she really understand how to measure air.  But like the balloon experiment, she is blown wide inside and she knows her feelings still nudge her insides there. And it's study hall before the descent to home and she begins to study the day. In her bubble, she thinks no one sees the feelings inside, no visible proof of pain.

But it's fourth grade, and I am a sub, and there are teacher questions--always teacher questions.  I know she is in pain, but the six mile high question is "Are you feeling sick?" and the air releases slow from the balloon inside.  It's fourth grade and it's "yes" and  "maybe a little"  and then there's but that part is "private and not your business."

And teacher pressure lets her know I notice and just want to help her there, that place she doesn't know I know.  And it's fourth grade and then it's no spelling practice partner, no parents at home, and then there's the "private and not your business." It's people coming each night to stay with her, and then it's the "private and not your business," and the little bit of real sick. It's" maybe I won't be here tomorrow because I will be sick."

But it is fourth grade and I have been here before whether it was 38 or 26 years ago. I am here in fourth grade today, yet really I am here every day because we all know private pain.  It just wants release.

And when this teacher hand pulled her closer, her eyes fell with one quick tear.  And the air released shoulders lifted ever slightly with my promise to pray that she would not be sick so she could be here tomorrow.  And this "private and not your business" pain  that I didn't pry into but  promised to pray for brought me a quick tight hug and her "thank you" before she heard the call for home.

It's fourth grade and it's 'private and not my business," but thank God for questions.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013




Moments...all of life is but the moments that we face.

Moments...how many in your lifetime? 

Heartbeats...how many in your moments?  

Our moment upon moments creates a life.  And often these moments can stretch us thin, can stretch us wide, can stretch us weary, can stretch us hollow, can stretch us dry. 

Our rubber band hearts must remain elastic, and boy are our hearts often moment by moment exercised to remain elastic.  

When our hearts are stretched, they are infused with blood, 60-100 times a minute.  And only when our hearts are stretched, do we really become clear of being infused with the living power of the blood of Jesus.  In these moments of stretching, we panting count the beating of our hearts in our ears and in our throats.  

In these moments, we must count and recount His goodness. Our hearts and souls are rubber band stretched through  this life’s journey.  When we allow ourselves to be stretched in circumstances, and then can full gaze turn and say
"thank You"  in remembrance
 that all that His hand provides is grace, then our hearts pulse His blood truth and release His story.

Our heart's story is blood in and blood out; we recycle His heart blood in every moment we give thanks for His work and wonders. He cleaned the blood and cleaned the circumstances of our life for His use. Our blood transfusion is created by the stories of thanksgiving we share of His goodness and grace.  

It is living in the fear of our stretching that our hearts lose their elasticity and their ability to pump what His hand provides, and our hearts wither and die to the witness and story God has pumped into our once withered veins. 

This life and even daily moments will promise to stretch us.  Then we are stretched to choose to filter His Blood truth through us. When we lose seeing and seeking the wonder He gives, this grace flow, this grace pumped in and pumped out, this elasticity---- we die of exhausted  and clogged living. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


You know that moment when your friend you trust says something that you want to smack her for because you aren't really sure it is true.  Then you wonder if she is just talking out of her head and not using her heart.  You know that moment that your friend says something that stops your breath because you didn't expect her to say that to you while she knows the anguish you are in.  You know that moment when your friend says something that is really stumbling brick hard and your heart fell with your knees and you knew she would pick you back up.  

You remember that moment when you began to trust that her heart could really handle knowing the real you and would always embrace who you become.  You remember that moment when she kept your heart strong though it beat faint and held your hands steady through the shaking.  You remember that she will whisper the hard in the dark places to expose the ugly in its hiding, You remember that for every word she speaks, she tempers vanity and doubts she might be right. You remember that all her words are but gonging bells compared to her clinging hope that the Word would pierce your circumstances and shatter doubt.

Know and Remember!
Love from your friend today


The bright sunshine didn't creep through the gap in the curtains today. Beyond the curtain, the grey sky ocean view made me think col...