One of those days.

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Yesterday, before the sunrise, my oldest child stood in front of his middle school peers and shared his story. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) group meets once a week in the cafeteria before the first bell of the school day. One Wednesday each month they combine with another middle school FCA in town. They join their groups together for fellowship, fun, and free breakfast.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Karson was asked to share about his cancer. How he fought leukemia from the age of two to the age of five and-a-half. How before his peers met him in their Kindergarten classrooms and the elementary playground, he’d spent most of his days too sick to play with other kids.

How he’d received over three years of chemotherapy. How he was given steroids that made him crazy with hunger and then how he was required to fast for spinal tap procedures. How he ate more in one day as a toddler than most teenage boys do in two. How his medicine made him feel itchy, and yucky, and isolated. How he not only survived it all, but now is tall, and happy, and healthy.

He’s here.

And he’s willing to share at an FCA meeting on a cold, dark, Wednesday morning.

And my husband, who helps lead FCA and heard our son share, told me later that Karson’s message had two main points.

1- God loves you no matter what you’re going through – even if you don’t have it figured out.

2- We can have hope and joy because Jesus made it possible to spend eternity in Heaven.

And I can’t see straight as I type this because of the tears in my eyes.

Because I remember the days of being up before the crack of dawn too. Not for FCA groups, but for loading into the car with a very sick little bald boy who needed to go the hospital to get chemo to help keep him alive. How some days my knees could barely hold my own weight as I watched those spinal tap procedures and blood transfusions. How we didn’t know if he would live. How we didn’t know what the long term effects of his treatment would be even if he did. How we were told he would likely have stunted growth, learning disabilities, and coordination issues. And how we fought, and loved, and prayed.

And now I hear of him standing there; tall, and smart, and smiling. Telling his peers of the true hope they can cling to in this life.

And the tears run down my cheeks as I take it all in.

He’s here.

Yesterday was one of those days.

One of those days when you feel like you see the light pierce through the darkness.

When you remember that the sun will rise again.

Cruise Control

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“What on earth are you doing?” my dad asked from the passenger seat. “Did you have your cruise control set just now?”

I sheepishly shrugged and admitted that I had. The clicking sound the brake pedal made when you pushed it to disengage the cruise control had given me away. Sneaky little tattletale!

“I like to set it so that I don’t have to think about my speed.” I explained. I was a college student and able to present a reasonable persuasive argument while home on break with my family.

My dad shook his head. “Cruise control is for long trips or stretches of highway where you will be keeping the same speed for awhile, not for use between two traffic lights a few hundred yards apart!”

Now it was my turn to shake my head. I wasn’t necessarily disagreeing with him, I was just expressing myself through nonverbal communication because I had nothing to actually say in my defense.

I admit, using the cruise control for less than 10 seconds was pretty ridiculous.

Now as a college graduate, wife, and mother of three, I seem to have the opposite problem. I don’t like giving up control of my speed. And I’m not referring to my minivan driving habits.

I’m talking about the speed of my life.

I get going pretty quickly now-a-days. Our schedule is full and we fly down monthly stretches of highways. Sometimes I lose track of how fast we’re moving until we pay for it later in exhaustion, tension, and grumpy children.

Perhaps a little cruise control would be healthy for us all?

If only I’d give up control of the accelerator more often. If only I’d learn to set the cruise control between birthday parties, school events, service projects, basketball practices, and church gatherings. If only I’d do better at keeping our family at a healthy speed between the stops instead of flying through life without much intentionality or careful assessments.

Checking our speed is important. It keeps us safe and gets us there in one piece. Let alone in peace itself.

But I’m learning.

I’m learning that cruise control helps you set limits on your speed.

It may be overkill to set it between two close-together traffic lights, but being careful to control the pace of your life, especially with young ones in tow, isn’t a bad idea after all.

If only I’d thought of that comeback while in the drivers seat years ago!


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes about a topic based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: CONTROL

On Dreaming Small.

Three years ago I wrote the blog post below entitled, “I’m Going to Dream Small This Year.” Today I reread it and decided to post it again. This is a major spoiler alert (it’s my blog, so I can spoil it if I want)  but it’s about faithfully doing the little things in life. About dreaming small.

Little mundane tasks.

Bit-sized goals.

Gettin’ it done.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and as I scroll through my social media pages I see many references to big dreams and lofty goals. Our small group is coming over this evening, and on our agenda (along with lots of eating) is to review what our goals were last year and what our new goals are for 2017.

There’s a new year on the cusp. A blank calendar. A crisp page ready for life to splash across it.

The new year causes us to look ahead. To dream. To make goals.

And once again, I want to dream small.

I feel kind of strange saying that because tonight, when I share my goal for the year with my friends, I’m going to tell them it is to publish a book (again with the spoiler!) Publishing a book seems like a big goal. And believe me, I’m nervous, and giddy, and it feels rather daunting. It’s a big deal (more details to come later. I can’t spoil everything in one blog post.)

But, the process of writing the book has been a three-year journey. There have been countless little tasks, bit-sized goals, and mundane days of writing. I didn’t know while I was faithfully sitting down and doing the hard work in the little things, that it would some day pay off in a bigger thing. But, sometimes it does.

And, sometimes it doesn’t.

I don’t do the little things in hopes that they will lead to a big thing. I just do the little things because that’s what I know how to do. To finish the task in front of me to the best of my ability. To do that mundane thing again. And again. And to do it well.

Because big dreams are actually made up of a heaping pile of small dreams.

It’s time to get to work.

Here’s to dreaming small in 2017!

 

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I’m a day late and at least a dollar short.

It’s January 2nd and I haven’t made any official resolutions or goals yet for 2014. I’m still in “Christmas Break Mode” and I consider the fact that I did laundry today a pretty big accomplishment. Well, I haven’t folded it yet, but I did move it from the washer to the dryer. Yep, time for a break.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling a little anxious about not having any huge goals or big dreams for this new year. The world seems to be telling me that I need to dream big, shoot for the stars, be a pioneer in my day, blaze the trails and do it all with gusto. Even my spam emails are asking me if I want to eat healthier, lose weight, travel more and save money. I feel like I’m supposed to accomplish something epic before the ball drops again (the ball in Times Square, not me ‘dropping the ball’ …although that’s possible too).

But do my hopes and dreams for 2014 have to be so grandiose? If everything has to be so epic these days then nothing really is epic at all. I think I sometimes get caught up in  thinking that if I’m not doing something that’s perceived as magnificent or worthy of sharing on Facebook then I’m not succeeding. But, I don’t think that’s true.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating being lazy and complacent this year. I’m simply feeling stirred to do the small things well.

And as I’m doing the small things with excellence I may actually do something seen as big and honorable that others would admire, but I may not. I could make a mark on society, but I probably won’t even make much of an impact on my neighborhood. And I think that’s ok.

I’ve been studying the book of Matthew this year in a Bible study. We’ve been reading a lot of Jesus’ teachings and I’ve noticed that He likes to bring up a particular verse. It’s from the Old Testament and was written hundreds of years before He even walked on the earth, but I’ve found it’s still applicable to me today. Hey, if it was important to Jesus, it must be good.

Hosea 6:6 says,

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

This convicts me. Jesus repeatedly tells the Pharisees and His disciples that he wants their obedience, not their fancy words or displays of upholding the law. Jesus doesn’t seem as interested in a vision, big dreams or having a list of accomplishments, as he does our hearts.

So, with that in mind I’m going to try to dream small this year. I’m not going to aim to do anything epic or monumental and if I do, then may it just be a consequence of a heart that loves God and loves people.

I want to do things that society would view as small, but that God views as big.

Things like being kind to someone when I don’t feel like it or being joyful in the midst of a hectic schedule on a gloomy day.

Things like being patient when my child has asks me for the fourth time, “What comes after 39?”

Things like noticing that the lady behind me in line at the grocery store has a fussy baby and tired eyes and then asking her if she’d like to go ahead of me in line because I can stand to wait a bit longer.

Like listening at the school committee meeting with an open mind and willing hands so that I can help make a difference in my community by simply serving where I’m needed.

Like taking the time and energy to train and teach my children to be independent instead of frustratedly doing things for them all of the time.

Like extending grace to my husband when I feel frustrated that he forgot to take out the trash and instead thanking him that evening for all that he does for our family every single day.

Yes, things like that.

They are small dreams.

Basically I’m just hoping to love God and people better… and love myself less.

I’m pretty sure my goals for 2014 are about as opposite of epic as you can get. And I’m glad about that.

I’ve got small dreams for 2014 and I am ready to get started.

And I guess I’ll have to fold that laundry in the dryer sometime this year too.

My Top 5 Blog Posts from 2016

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I’ve spent a little time with Numbers today. We are not close, but we are on friendly terms. We just don’t click the way that Words and I do. But, Numbers proved to be loyal and hardworking once again. He also brought his buddy Statistics to the meeting. He was a little boring for my taste, but I’m told he doesn’t lie.

Our collaboration and research brought forth the stats for 2016. With the data we discovered my top five blog posts for the year.

Drumroll, please (don’t).

From the fifth most-read post, to the one with the most readers:

5. 5 Outsider Observations about the 2016 ACFW Conference 

A recap about a writing conference that I attended in Nashville, Tennessee. I called myself an outsider because it was a fiction writers conference and I write non-fiction (gasp!)

4. Temporarily Derailed. 

The story about a sight that stopped me dead in my tracks.

This post was part of the Five Minute Friday community where a group bloggers write about a topic for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. I enjoy this challenge and participated 14 times in 2016. Thanks for hosting, Kate Motaung!

3. Island Issues. 

Apparently, a few of you can relate to the humiliation of public uncoordination.

(This was also a Five Minute Friday post)

2. Our Reality (TV). 

Our brief stint on television. I cried in front of a bunch of people.

And the top post for 2016 was…

1. Our Marriage Needs A Prefix.  

Chalk one up for love!

 

Thank you for taking time to stop over to christycabe.com this year. Your friendship and comments mean the world to me!

I like you a lot more than Numbers. But let’s keep that between us.

 

See Now.

dsc_0451Why do I have to use the scissors to cut the tape off this dispenser? It’s designed to tear off easily on these little pointy things. Annoying.

Should I wrap these gifts in one box or separate them so he has two presents to open?

Where did I put the scissors? How do I always manage to lose them?

“Mom!” my son yelled. His eyebrows raised and his tone firm.

“What?” I said shaken from my mental dialogue.

“I asked you three times what to put on this cut.”

“What cut?” I asked.

“What do you mean what cut? I just told you! I have a cut on my foot and you said ‘You do?’ and then I asked if I should put a Band-Aid on it and you said ‘Yes.’

“I did?” This was not ringing a bell. How long had Karson been sitting there?

He continued, “Then I asked you if I should put anything on my cut before the Band-Aid and you’re not answering me anymore.”

My hands ceased moving. I held the lame tape dispenser feeling a bit dysfunctional myself. I willed my mind to catch up with the present.

“I’m sorry, Buddy. Even though I was answering you, I wasn’t really listening. Now, let me see your foot.”

It’s not the only incident of multi-tasking malfunction I’ve experience this holiday season. Unfortunately, my distracted and poorly executed interactions are piling up faster than gifts under my tree.

I swerved right into a retail parking lot from the left lane because the conversation on my phone was trumping my defensive driving skills.

I unloaded groceries from the trunk only to realize I forgot the one thing I went to purchase.

I clicked off the computer tab of a work project to open Amazon to search for the gift that’s been eluding me.

I’m distracted in the present.

And when I see pictures from Christmases past my heart hurts as I realize how quickly chubby toddler cheeks have given way to little girl faces. How gifts of blocks and rocking horses have changed to those of video games and craft supplies. Ornaments with globs of dried glue and too much glitter remind me of sweet little hands that now color inside the lines.

The present will soon be the past.

I don’t want to miss life in the future as it plays out in front of my face.

I want to appreciate moments as they happen.

I want to live in the now.

To stop my train of thought and still my hands. To look. To see. To notice.

To pause my typing fingers and wink at my youngest child and study the way her whole face squishes up in such an adorable way as she tries to wink in return.

To look my oldest in the eye and laugh with him as he recounts the antics of the boys at his lunch table.

To hold my second grader’s hand as we walk to the mailbox and to remember how soft her mitten feels in my cold, bare hand.

To feel. To smell. To taste.

To watch. To laugh. To hold.

To notice the now.

To see the present as the gift it truly is.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are challenged to write for approximately 5 minutes about a topic based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: NOW

Gratitude through Gritted Teeth

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I knew there was a fee to park at the venue where I was taking my two young daughters to the Disney Princesses on Ice show. But I forgot.

Not until I was driving in to the large lot did it dawn on me that I had no cash. And they don’t accept credit cards for parking. I could not enter. Instead I was turned away and drove back onto the busy street. My daughters began to panic.

“Mommy! Isn’t that where the Princesses are going to ice skate?”

“Why did you turn around, Mommy?”

I pulled into a retail parking lot and searched the van’s cup holders for loose change. Not enough. I scavenged through my purse. I came up short. I did not have my ATM card on me, and by the time I drove home to get enough cash to park, we would miss most of the show for which my girls had been counting down the days.

I let out a deep sigh of frustration.

And then it hit me. I had friends who were also attending this show. Maybe they could meet me in this lot and let me borrow some cash. I called. They were already in their seats at the show, but in an act of complete kindness, my friend’s husband ran cash out to me near the front doors.

We made it! We settled into our seats just as the show was starting. It was a beautiful and mesmerizing performance. My girls, ages 6 and 4, had huge smiles and twinkling eyes as they watched the princesses twirl and jump. I had a huge smile just watching my girls.

It had taken me part of the first act to stop sweating and to settle in, but I had done so. I tried to take in each magical moment of making this memory with my daughters.

When the show ended, we walked down the long, concrete corridor winding our way out of the massive building. Hundreds of other people flowed along with us. Every ten feet or so, vendors were selling Disney merchandise. Princess dolls, toy swords, glowing sticks, and more. My girls begged for something. I hesitated, but gave in to the pressure as I again reasoned it was such a special evening.

The snow cones came in plastic souvenir princess cups. I forget the exact price, but it was somewhere near $400.00. Okay, maybe not quite that much, but it was probably close. I bought two. I figured my girls’ delight would last for weeks to come.

But I was wrong. As we continued to walk down the long hallway we passed more vendors.

“I really wanted a doll, Mommy!”

“Why won’t you buy me a Princess dolly?”the little one whined.

The complaints continued. Didn’t they know I had already spent a lot of money just on the tickets for this show, let alone the parking fiasco, which had left me indebted to my friends. Then, I had just bought them SNOW CONES in a PRINCESS CUP and I had about HAD ENOUGH of this giving spree to UNGRATEFUL little people.

A few more words of complaint came out of their mouths before I stopped. Dead in my tracks. I put my hands on their shoulders and walked against the flow of traffic until I squeezed the three of us into a corner and guided the girls to stand with their backs against a cold concrete wall.

“I am tired of this complaining. You have been given so much already. We are not moving until you guys are thankful!” I said in a huff.

I further stated my case. “I just spent a lot of money on tonight and instead of being thankful for it, you’re complaining and asking for more. I’ve had it! You will stand there until you are thankful. Do you hear me?”

The girls nodded as their little lips, stained purple and red from their snow cones, began to quiver. The whimpered and cried as the crowd slowly moved by us.

There they were. Two little blonde girls standing against a wall trying to feel thankful.

(PS. This was not my finest parenting moment.)

“Are you thankful yet?” My voice was firm. I demanded an answer.

They sniffed and cried and shook their heads. After a few more minutes I decided they were thankful enough and we continued on our way. I heard no more requests for princess dolls. Only sniffles.

Today as I was doing dishes, two years after that evening, I picked up the souvenir princess cup off the counter and smiled.

“Are you thankful yet?” I laughed to myself.

I’m not proud of how I handled that moment, but I am thankful for it. Today as I thought back over the memory, I realized that I was trying to instill gratitude in my children. I was aiming to make thankfulness a habit for them, an automatic response. And I was trying to get out of there without going bankrupt. But mostly, I was teaching my kids to be grateful.

And that’s a hard lesson to learn.

I know how they felt that night. Sometimes I don’t feel very thankful either. I get caught up in what I don’t have instead of noticing all the blessings in front of me. Sometimes I need someone to stand me up against a cold wall until I can get my wits about me and express the gratitude I don’t feel.

Feeling grateful isn’t necessary for being grateful.

Sometimes you say thanks though gritted teeth.

And, that’s okay.

It’s all part of the training.

 

 

Finding Sense In The Common.

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I pull the spoon out of the dishwasher and stack it with its fellow tablemates in the drawer. My motions are robotic. I do this same thing almost every single day. It is such a common task that I don’t even have to concentrate on what I am doing.

I push the clothes into the drum of the washing machine and reach up to grab the detergent. My mind is thinking about something else. There is no need to pay attention to each motion of the laundry routine. It is a common work in my life, and I have memorized the actions it takes to complete it.

“Grab your book bag.”

“Where are your shoes?”

“You will need a jacket today.”

All common phrases heard in my home each weekday morning. The same idea. The same routine. Over and over. And then almost always, I see the same results.

My life feels so common.

Being common doesn’t feel very empowering. It’s just so plain and normal. So mundane and run-of-the-mill. So regular. Isn’t that basically the definition of the word itself?

Common.

How can being common be significant?

How can my common life make a difference in this world? How can God use my common routine for His glory? How can common amount to anything at all?

But surely it does.

It just sometimes hides behind the extraordinary.

For example, in the Old Testament, Joseph does an amazing work of interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams in regards to a coming famine. He leads the Egyptians in the storing up of food for seven years in order to survive the impending drought. His ability and his leadership is so uncommon. He saves a nation from starvation.

But behind his uncommonness are the common. The farmers. The men and women who each day do the work of planting, and tending, and harvesting. The people who put their hands to the plow. The people whose mundane and run-of-the-mill tasks brought up the very food that was stored and that saved.

The common work provided daily bread for the saving of many lives.

Solomon, in his riches and splendor, in his uncommon life as a King of Israel, built a temple in Jerusalem that stunned the onlooker. It was majestic and extraordinary. But behind the amazing structure hid the men who cut the stones in the quarry. Who day-in and day-out did the heavy lifting. Whose brows dripped with sweat and whose muscles grew strong. They did the common daily difficult labor.

The common work laid the very foundation for the House of God.

A crowd of 5,000 hungry men sat waiting to hear Jesus. They then witnessed a wondrous moment when the lunch of a small boy fed them all. Their stomachs were full because of an uncommon miracle of God. Yet, behind the miracle, there was probably a mama who had simply packed her son’s lunch. She did the mundane, robotic task that she probably had done hundreds of times before. She did not know that the very hands of God would take the fruits of the labor, as meager as they were, and multiply them for the glory of God the Father.

The common work fed a multitude and pointed many to the power of God.

So my hands will continue to do the common work. To unload the dishes and reload the washing machine. To pack the book bags and tend to the growth of the children. To complete the mundane tasks that seem insignificant.

Because in the hands of God, the common is extraordinary, after all.


This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: COMMON