The discipline of silence with a singing soul

I was born singing. It’s what I do. Here’s a little rhyme I just made up about it. 
I sing when I’m happy, I sing when I’m sad. 

I sing when I’m angry, and when things go bad. 

The songs and tunes change for each situation. 

But singing is always my soul’s proclamation. 
Since late November, I’ve had a hoarseness to my voice. Overuse makes it worse. Last month, the ear, nose, and throat doctor put a scope through my nose and down my throat and said I have a hemorrhagic nodule on my left vocal chord. (The doctor described it as a callous with a blood blister.) If it worsens, he said, he wants to do a biopsy. He left me with the following orders: “Minimal talking and when talking is necessary, whisper. For at least a month.”

I laughed. 

“I’m serious,” he said, “Totally serious.”

Let’s start with challenge #1: Mothering 7 and 4 year olds and a 7 month old with a whisper is laughable. Impossible, really, but I’m trying. What I have noticed is those rare moments when it does work, it affects us all. Mom uses a softer tone, so do the children. 

Challenge #2: I’m the co-founder of a peer-support organization, all relational, walking with those grieving the death of a child. Surely there are times of silence as we process grief together, but so much of what I do involves conversation. Still, doc says, converse quietly. 

Challenge #3: I’m a minister. I speak, I sing, I lead worship. Nix all of that for now. There’s no way to do any of that quietly. In order to keep from belting out in corporate song during worship, I’ve been making great use of my “coloring Bible.” 


(More on that in an upcoming blog.)

Oddly enough, this very situation is the reason you are reading this blog. This is my voice. As much as I am a singer, I am that much more a writer. It is my catharsis. But mi vida loco takes precedence and my true voice gets lost in the chaos. 

I don’t know the final outcome of this nodule nor what steps will be required for full and complete healing. I know my voice is not any better today than when the doctor first diagnosed me, but it’s also not worse. Praise God. The doctor talked of voice therapy and even the possibility of surgery as a last resort. It feels big. Frustrating. Especially when my soul is bursting with song and there is no release. 

But lessons are emerging from the silence. My soul is growing and deepening, making space to hear and experience God and life in new and amazing ways. While I eagerly await and expect complete healing, I don’t want to miss the lessons in the silence. 

I’m sure you will read about them here. Thanks for spending time with me today.

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A Family of Sorts

Last evening I led our monthly grief support meeting for families grieving the death of a child. We talked about lonely isolating grief and the courage it takes to tell your story, about how those who have walked a similar path are the ones who become our family of sorts.

This morning I was up at 5 to help barbecue chicken at the church. I worked side-by-side with people who are becoming more familiar to me. (I started as associate pastor there in January, and am just learning to know some of the people outside of a Sunday morning worship service.) I was updated on health issues, farming conditions, and concert recommendations. These precious folks are already my family of sorts.


I returned home mid-morning and made baked beans, Cajun corn salad, a loaf of braided egg bread, and a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies for a family reunion this afternoon. We arrived to see new faces among the familiar loved ones, but that’s not unusual. In our family, DNA is not the only thing that makes us such. Nearly every reunion and family meal has at least one or more persons not related by blood. The unspoken theory seems to be, if you can handle the chaos, you’re welcome to join us. Throughout the years, friends have come and gone from these reunions, but they forever remain our family of sorts.


As I type this, our foster child is snuggled contentedly beside me, basking in the love of family and home. Regardless of where her unwritten story takes her, we are her family of sorts.

And then I read this quote and count myself among the world’s richest.

“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.” ~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford,  Identity Crisis,” M*A*S*H

Wherever you find yourself when you read this, I pray you too have a family of sorts.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Our family has mostly elimated processed sugar from our diet, but I splurged today and had this delicious and not-too-sweet dessert with my mother-in-law. It would be a great addition to any Memorial Day Weekend table. 

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

  • 2 cups broken pretzels
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1&1/2 sticks butter, melted

Mix these first three ingredients and press into 9X13 baking pan. Bake at 360 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely. 

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 (9 oz) container cool whip (I use real whipped cream)

Cream together cream cheese and sugar then stir in cool whip. Spread on top of pretzel crust. Refrigerate until firm. 

  • 2 (3oz each) packages strawberry jello
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 (9 oz) package frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup cold water

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Add strawberries and cold water. Chill. When jello starts to thicken, spread over cream cheese layer. Chill overnight. 

Character Test

It was the most basic character test and I blew it. Right there in front of God, my husband, and our children. I was looking for an important folder I need for an appointment today, and thought I knew exactly where it was. (Never mind I should have secured said folder several days ago, knowing this was coming up.)

I huffed around, shuffling papers and sighing, being snarky with my husband, and then of all things, blaming it on the children who hadn’t put their toys away. Really?!

For the sake of peace and sanity, I gave the folder search a break and went to get myself ready for the day. As I separated myself from the frenzy and frustration of the missing folder, I was convicted to ask for forgiveness.

The test of character is not in leadership training and board meetings, not in the face we wear and the facade we present in public, but in the ways we treat those closest to us. I was ashamed at what this most basic test revealed. And I repented.

Thankfully God and my family both have an overwhelming fountain of grace and patience, and I seemed to be the one most upset about my reaction. I still haven’t found the folder, but life will go on with no one the worse for wear. I, however, pray that this incident will continue to serve as a reminder for me to pray and breathe before I respond.

Character quotes I found on the Internet. 

“Our character is defined by what we do when no one is looking.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think of you.”

What has helped you refocus when you are stressing about something like this?

Taco Soup (Meat & Meatless Options)

This is one of our favorite soups and its super easy to pull together with frozen or canned beans and veggies on hand. (Tip: I buy dried beans, cook the entire bag at one time, and freeze them in pint or quart freezer bags.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb browned hamburger (If meatless, just add an additional can/bag of beans.)
  • 2 cans/or 1 bag(s) whole kernel corn
  •  1 (16oz) can/bag kidney beans, rinsed and drained (you can add a can/bag of black beans as well.)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes  
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (can use raw sugar, brown sugar, or Sucanat)
  •  1  jar of your favorite salsa or an additional can of diced tomatoes. I skip the salsa and use a second can of diced tomatoes with green chilies.) 
  •  1 package bought taco seasoning or about 5 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning.
  • Add water if you want a thinner soup
  • Adjust seasonings to taste

Method: Mix all ingredients together and cook in crockpot for several hours or put in a large pot and heat through on stove top.

Top with your favorite taco toppings. Excellent with corn bread.