Monday, September 24, 2012

Tiny Titanic... My Tongue Prayer

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.
A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain
sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account,
but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.
A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can
do that. By our speech we can ruin the world,
turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation,
send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke
with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
James 3:4-6 the Message

Talking about controlling this tongue of mine is a bit embarrassing (but what's an red faced moment between reader and blogger... fun for you and positive reinforcement for me... right?) So, we had a rough start to our school morning; there was yelling, some tears, frustrations flying right and left, from parent to child and back again. As I buckled "A" into her car seat and halfheartedly kissed the Stig, I told E! she needed to hustle and quit whining. As the Stig pulled the car out of the garage, I was in such a funk, I didn't even turn and give our traditional family goodbye - the sign language fingers pressed into "I Love You". I headed in to the house to begin my Sabbath (my day of rest.) But there was no rest in me - just restless discontent. What had happened to our morning? Where had we stepped off the happy trail onto the tracks of this train wreck? So I made a split second decision - I needed to talk to my family - I needed to apologize. We still had time... they hadn't been gone more than three whole minutes.

I speed dialed the Stig who picked up on speaker phone... and that's when I heard it...

"Hi, Momma!" E said in this perky little voice. As if nothing had happened. She was doing just what she's seen me do a hundred times, stuff the feelings and answer the phone in a voice nothing like my own. She asked my how I was doing and what my plans were for the day. I sat there with my mouth agape. When my whits came back to their seat, I mustered up the courage to apologize. I told all three of them that my attitude had been stinky that morning, and I really intended to work on that. Both girls were quick to say, "It's ok, Momma!" while the Stig, wizened to my quick fix tricks, stayed quiet. My sweet husband is on to my need to hastily say I'm sorry and move on... Lets say he's heard my phone voice a few times.

My phone voice is not my true voice - it is what I sound like when I'm not sure what or who I'm facing. It can turn on a dime. It feels fake and forced. I don't like that once I identify the caller, it either drops an entire octave and I get real or it continues in a falsetto and I take on a persona that is so bogus even my 4 year old is on to it.

So how do I shed the phone voice and harness this tongue of mine? How do I turn this HUGE ship (our family) with one little rudder (my tongue)?  It starts with a prayer:

Father, reclaim my tongue.
When it wants to fly from this mouth of mine
     cause it to sit quietly in it's resting place.
When criticisms tickle it - when anger burns it
     give me the wisdom to be silent and retain none of fury's sting.
Speak into this heart the words that improve silence...
     and the willingness to discern the difference.
Guide my tongue to be that tiny rudder that turns this big ole' ship around
    and give my children eyes to see me cleaning up the oil spill my tongue has caused
    and a desire to use their mouths to praise and bless - to build and grow.
And thank you for being patient with me while I work on this tiny titanic... my tongue.

Now I'm off to paint a few "Watch your Tongue" signs and write this scripture out for my memorization wall. Because really, this is a BIGGIE! And if I can get this one controlled, God can use me for better things...

Which in the end means less of me and more of HIM!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Four Blessings

I love asymmetry... when things are slightly off... not perfectly paired.  A grouping of three, five and seven = I totally dig it!  Pictures that aren't centered. Mismatched patterns. Dishes with flaws and cracks.  Shabby chic. Upcycled. All those things really turn my crank! I once was working on a project with Anna Thomas (who at the time was five years old and wiser than I'll ever be.) I put a grouping of three flowers in the corner of a picture frame and Anna pointed out that I needed to balance out the frame by adding three on the opposite side. I explained that it was asymmetrical and without blinking she replied, "Well I don't like it. I'm VERY symmetrical!" I loved her spunk - and her apparent understanding of a word quite outside her normal vocabulary at the time... but I digress.

As it turns out - I like asymmetry best on my terms. Example: On my way home from grocery shopping - The Stig calls to give me a "heads-up!"

"The girls moved in together, " he said matter of factually. "I dozed off and E said something about how she wanted to sleep in A's room... forever... and then next thing I knew she had moved her stuff into A's room."

"WhAt?" I groaned. This was not part of my PLAN for Saturday. I had laughingly posted to FB this morning that we were on plan #852 (after having exhausted both the English and Greek alphabets worth of letters in ONE morning!)... but this was taking my flexibly and bending me into GUMBY!  I mean I was just getting used to the idea that the crib that had formerly occupied one wall of our home for the last 7.6 years, was in fact on it's way out the door. I was coping (I thought) pretty well with these new changes... making plans to sew a tutu-bedskirt with my mother-in-love.

"Just remember that from the day we knew that "a" was coming, you wanted them to be best friends for life. This is just them trying to find their way. E needs you to allow her to try this out - it will only take about five nights of "A" talking her ear off and they'll soon be back to sleeping in their own pre-appointed rooms, " the Stig encouraged. I was not so easily encouraged.

Later that day, "A" asks me to take a picture of her hands cupped round four tiny M&M's... I resist the urge to grab one out to "make a better shot"... and she tells me, "There's one here for everyone in my family!" Now the shot that had formerly looked "artistically bleh" becomes something precious and sacred. Because I realize - there are FOUR of us - nothing asymmetric there. And I TOTALLY dig that we are four.

Last night (five nights on the dot) we put the girls to bed at 8:15 PM and for the next three hours we laughed and listened as E tried to reason with her four year old roommate, "You have to stop talking! Okay... I have a plan... You lay your head down and I'll tell you a story!" (*ten minutes time elapses*) "Yeah... Now you REALLY have to close your mouth... I've got another plan... this time you whisper quietly into your pillow while I fall asleep." (*more time passes*) "Enough already! Daddy!"

The Stig looks over at me this morning with that "I told you so" grin he's so good at. The girls were impossible to wake up - mainly because they had pulled the seven & four year-old equivalent of an "all nighter!" I had to admit - it was pretty funny - even if we were thirty minutes late for school!

Jeremiah 29:11 talks about God having a plan. Plans that include hope and future - but don't necessarily guarantee symmetry and balance.  I wonder if He looks at my attempts at life and laughs as I try to convince Him, "Okay... I've got a plan. You lay your head down and I'll tell you how this should go!" Does He shake his head and gets the giggles when I try to "perfect" His perfect plans. Does He look at my hands holding four sticky projects and think, "Man, I wish she'd picked up a better number than FOUR!" or does He pour into my outstretched hand more blessings that my dirty palms can contain?

I just love that the Stig was right - the girls are headed back to their own rooms tonight, and without my losing my grip on life over it (*pause and celebrate growth with me!*) And I'm also glad that God's math/balance isn't exactly like mine. Two, Three, Six, Eight... Who do we appreciate?
Isn't God a hoot?

More of you God... less of me!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Mighty Oak was Once a Little Nut

At an early age my mom "gave" me a hymn and a scripture - to be fair, she gave my sister one of each too. I can remember feeling so special when they read "my psalm" or sang "my hymn" in church. In some way it rooted me to the ancient words to have others join voice and song to confirm what I had come to think of as mine.

And so it was when E was just a bean of promise on the computer screen, we were looking for a cute little name to use when speaking about said bean without calling the baby, "Bean." E was not our first pregnancy and loss had become all to familiar to us - but we decided to claim the promise of Psalm 66:5 "Awesome are your handiworks, O God!" and from the moment we gripped onto that promise, she became "AwEsome" (ok... I just capitalized the 'e' there to be cute!) The hymn I sang as I rocked my ever growing belly in the overstuffed chambray covered rocker my in-love's had given to me, was "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"  Six months after she danced into our lives, when my daddy baptized her on my sister & brother-in-law's ranch, we built an ebenezer. Everyone who came to the baptism brought a rock from the place they called home - and we piled them on top of each other as a reminder that God is our "Rock of Help."

When "A" danced onto the scene we had no idea she was coming. To say she was a surprise is the understatement of our lives. We were still grieving the loss of our twins at 18 weeks gestation - and not at all sure which end was up. I hung on to the sweet words of the song "Glory Baby" and spent the next four months sick... thinking the whole time my thyroid was going wacko (which it was) but all the while sweet little "A" was spinning and forming and dancing around my insides. And it came to pass (and pass... and hurl... and upchuck) that on December 19 (the day after our due date for Tripp & Kennady) I pee'd on a pregnancy test and almost fell off the potty when I saw "Touch Down Jesus" = two lines confirming my mother's suspicions. We were already in the second trimester - God totally surprised us - but this time the computer screen held the image of a perfectly formed little person - no bean of promise here! She had hands and feet and eye sockets. We were so blown away. When we showed little E the picture of her little sibling, she said, "Isn't she sweet... let's call her Honey!" I ran for my bible and found her verse in Psalm 119:103, "How sweet are your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth." And with a laugh I KNEW that Honey's song would be "Great is Thy Faithfulness"! As I rocked E to sleep every night we would sing the chorus to my mother earth shaped belly as "A" knit and spun and twirled.

Several nights ago, I was tucking "A" into bed. Somewhere between reading Guess How Much I Love You and reciting her night-time prayers, she asked me to sing the "Acorn" song. Now, she has asked me to sing songs before about purple dragons or ladybugs... so to that vein, I started to make something up (you know the way mom's do - Familiar tune + goofy lyrics = pure silliness and eruptions of laughter.)

"No, Momma! Not a made-up one... the one about my faithfulness!"

Okay... now I knew what she wanted, but what made her call it the "Acorn" song? So she reminded me that ONE TIME when she asked me why I sing songs to her about God, I had told her that, "a little nut grows into a mighty oak." And somehow she came to think of her song as a little nut... a bean of promise... roots going down and spreading deep.

As a parents, both by birth and by choice/of the heart, we do that hard work of loving these little nuts into the mighty oaks of righteousness! (Isaiah 61:3) So I say, love on! Dream big! Pick a hymn of blessing for your child (even if they are 35 and have children of their own!) Choose a scripture - a promise to claim and pray over their lives... choose to be a blessing... choose to be blessed... choose to bless. When you look at the rings on a tree you can see the years that were hard... rings mark things like drought, plight, fire and flood. Make your mark on the rings of your children's lives... mark them with a blessing and stand firm in the knowledge that He "who knit them together in their mother's womb/heart" loves them ever so much more!

Planting Trees means more of you God... and less of me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Holy Trifecta Batman!

Today is my Trifecta...

It's Derby Day - So there was a lot of horsing around at the Lessner home. We pulled out the stick horses and did a few laps around the living room, hoping to run off some of the excess energy that "A" had built up after spending the last few days home with a "stummy" virus. Special thanks to my parents, Ran & Joyce Loy for the awesome hat from the San Diego Hat Co. I must say, I DO love this hat!

It's Cinco de Mayo - Since I felt a bit of a "stummy" ache today, we are postponing our usual New Mexico Hatch Green Chili Flat Enchiladas and Rita's until later this week... it still counts right? (For my sister's recipe for NM Green Chili check out In the Kitchen!)

And (drum roll please.....)

It's my blog-o-versary - One year ago today, my dear friend Lauren Pickle Day made me this spiffy little resting spot to mark progress in my spiritual journey, wander around in my daydreams and keep written benchmarks for my life with the Stig and these girlies of ours.

Psalm 19 sums up my plea (in this blog) to the true Holy Trifecta:

May the words of my mouth 
And the meditations of my heart
Be pleasing to You, my God
You're my rock and my redeemer
You're the reason that I sing
I desire to be a blessing in Your eyes
Every hour and every moment
Lord, I want to be a blessing in Your eyes.
 (Shane & Shane take me straight to the throne room with their version of this one) 

Sweet friends - my prayer for us as we embark on yet another year of grace, is that we chase after Him like there's no promise of catching Him tomorrow. May we each feel the warmth of His smile as we run headlong into His arms of mercy. What a great day to be His child... We are blessed... and today we stopped to take notice!

So don a funny hat, cook up some food that's good for the soul, run a few laps around the house on a broom (on the off chance that you find yourself in a house without a stick horse), and celebrate today the things that draw you close to the Trinity. 

Three times More of You Lord, and way less of me.

Monday, April 30, 2012


"...Jesus spoke a prayer of thanksgiving.
 He broke the bread and said, 
'This is my body, which is given for you. 
Do this to remember me.'" 
1 Corinthians 11:24 (God's Word)

It's happening again... He's revealing Himself to me through a common message. One that is echoing in my waking thoughts, whispered prayers and nighttime dreams. I see it on the page of books and colored petitions. I hear it in both the voice of the sage and the child.

Take * Thank * Break * Give
These words were a call to eucharistic living at a recent college retreat the Stig and I helped with. We watched as the simple act of slicing apples, boiling them with a bit of water and some cinnamon - drove the participants into the Stig's kitchen - the place where he shares the language of love through food. Loads of college students - cradling warm bowls of homemade applesauce, and a generous foaming of Redi-Whip, in cupped hands - whispering words of thanksgiving.  The simple act of taking an apple, giving thanks for it, breaking it down - whirring it around an a blender - and giving it to hungry college students (who were the most appreciative group of people we've ever had the pleasure of working with!) was pure gift. I tucked those words away in my prayer journal (take/thank/break/give) - having wrapped doodles and sketches around these words as a benediction - an act of grateful thanks.

Eucharisteo *
I felt led to suggest a book to my Wednesday morning Ladies Bible Study - not even sure why I was drawn to this particular book other than the title - One Thousand Gifts. Opening the pages we found the word "eucharisteo" used over and over again. A call to do just what it's Greek meaning charges, "to feel thankful, to be grateful, to give thanks." I love the way this book is wrecking us for what the world calls "normal living" - I find myself jotting down thanksgivings on the back of grocery store receipts, grabbing the camera to take a gratitude picture for the meal set before me... looking for the blessing in both the beautiful and the ugly. And my Wednesday morning Sistas - we come every week like wrung out dish rags, having wiped up the remains of the day - looking forward to the promise of being rinsed out by a gracious Savior... hallelujah!

The Body of Christ... take it Sewiously *
I was helping "A" clean her room - she was sporting a tutu (as usual) and I was toting a trash bag (doing a bit of Spring culling, if you will.) She was working in the home center - that's what she calls the little kitchen in her room, mainly because that's what they call it at school. Picking up a small plastic poppy seed roll, she turned to me and said in a "vewry" grown up way, "The body of Christ... take it Sewioulsy!" Somewhere along the way, one of us, either the Stig or I, must have told her it was serious... but we missed the mark. We should have told her, "Take and remember. Take and give thanks. Take and break so that you also can give." The great thing about parenting... is knowing that God is the only perfect parent. There's lots of room for grace. So next Sunday if the Lessner's linger at the rail awhile - you know why. We're taking advantage of a teachable moment... with a teachable child. And praying that we too may be More like Him... and less like ourselves!

Monday, April 9, 2012

We are FRamily

The Stig and I come from wonderful Godly families. We are part of a legacy of love that began years before our own parents were born.
The Stig is southern by birth - I am by choice - having drank my share of sweet tea to solidify the deal. Because of the way we were raised, we both got bit by the hospitality bug... but that's only part of the story.
The similarities are striking: Our dads are rock solid - men who love a good joke, are fiercely loyal and love their wives best and most. Both moms are crazy about their grandchildren, are their children's best cheerleaders and their husbands best friends. (We openly refer to them as mothers-in-love...) We each got a sister out of the deal - both of whom are strong of will and spirit - beautiful through and through. Our brothers-in-law who provide for their families, serve God in their daily life and work and helped to create the sweetest niece and nephews this side of the Rio Grande. Those cuties lovingly refer to me as Aunt Spazie... but that is another blog entry!
But having an awesome family doesn't mean that there isn't room in your life for more... like Jello... there's always room for more family.
Sometimes don't you wish you could PICK your family. You know, choose from among your friends. Who, if you could graft them into your family, you would. Well we have... and we call them FRamily. Friends + Family = FRamily!
We coined the word with three other couples about 14 years ago. We found each other and realized that something fit. We were "right" for each other. It's fun because in a family, you just accept an "Aunt Spazie" as part of your birth-rite.  But in a FRamily... you CHOOSE an Aunt Spazie. They get me... that's not to say they always understand my quirky ways... but they accept me.
We've experienced a lot together; baby Jesus in the Nativity play, birthday parties, graduations (Kindergarten & High School), baptisms and confirmations, a grandchild, tons of "inside" jokes, lost teeth, 1st dates (and the dreaded interview by those dates with the Stig), infertility, job loss, and foreclosure. We've shared dark nights of the soul as well as Rockie Mountain highs! When I lost the twins, the FRamily girls brought a meal in and shared it with me. During a recent move, the FRamily packed up our house - ignoring my dust bunnies and 1,000,000 plastic lids - they were the hands of Christ to us. Our FRamily practices hospitality - and we do it well! (Ooh.. I should so do an entire entry on FRamily Values... hold me to that idea!)
Proverbs 17:17 was the second bible verse I memorized as a child, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother was born for adversity." This FRamily does love at all times - even when I'm feeling "un-lovely" - they have wrapped their arms around my shoulders (or at times put their hands over my mouth!) and just LOVED. Freely and with great abandon.
The one thing that we can all point to as the KEY element in our FRamily-ship is our Heavenly Father. He brought us together - and our lives are richer for His blessing of FRamily.
The Lessner's continue to graft others into our FRamily circle... Two fairy God-mothers, four favorites in Canada, an angel in Morocco, a chocolate God-father and the biggest heart in Denver. As our FRamily grows so grows our family; stronger, fuller, and More like Him (less spazie like me!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Children's Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

 I created these stations for the Contemporary service at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church.
Two years and a "chance" meeting with Lisa Puccio later - and both the book and video formats were birthed!

Thank you to Lisa Puccio who wrote such beautiful words to share this story of sacrifice.
Huge hugs to the kids from Holy Spirit Episcopal School who gave such honest and beautiful voice to those words.
And to those who believe that through art, God can be found again and again, we pray you peace be the journey!

God gets all the credit... all the glory!
Less of me and MORE of you Lord.