About Milagro Mama

A Bay Area 40-something, married 20-something years to the love of my life, with two sons (Teen and Tween); Jesus-follower, artistic-type, passionate about time with my guys and with friends, Bible study, stories of most types, cooking, and other creative endeavors.

What the World Needs Now

On Monday before the mandatory shelter-in-place began, I had to run a few errands that included picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. Surprisingly, the line was short, with two people already being helped at the counter and one person ahead of me. She was covered head to foot: a colorful rag-style hat on her head, sunglasses, long pants and jacket with a buff pulled up over her mouth and nose. She didn’t make eye contact.

I arrived just in time, apparently, because suddenly there were several people behind me. An older lady two behind me leaned forward and called: “Hey, I really like your hat. It’s so colorful it’s making me smile.” Hat gal turned, lowered her sunglasses and buff and smiled as she said thanks, adding that we all need to find opportunities to smile in these uncertain times. We resumed our line-standing.

After a beat, I turned to thank the woman who offered the compliment, adding that we all need a huge dose of human kindness as everyone feels the weight of stress. My simple comment led to a line-long conversation: how we can be kind to one another; what shelter-in-place will mean and what constitutes “essential services;” price-gouging and TP alternatives; the beautiful art we might expect as a result of people in quarantine expressing their feelings; and “at least I can walk my dogs,” which led to a discussion about pets.

As each person left, they waved goodbye to our little crowd, wishing us well. In a matter of moments, having acknowledged our shared experience and at least a few of our feelings about it, we became a community. Neighbors rather than strangers.

It was an example of how uncertainty can unite people in beautiful ways. We may be alone in our own homes, but we’re in this together. Let’s find creative ways to care for ourselves and others, to share kindness that will unite us when this eventually passes.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
–lyrics by Jackie DeShannon

Cover image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay 

Lent 2020: What Matters Most

But I can’t stop loving you.

Wow, in a time of unprecedented bad news, that’s the best news ever. No matter what, God can’t stop loving us.

No matter how much of a schmuck I may be today–even though I want to be kind and loving and super-duper, I’m sure I will also whine and think mean thoughts and put myself first–God will always and forever love me. He can’t stop, because His very nature is love.

No matter what. It doesn’t matter. God’s love matters. Love is all we need, love is all there is.

God’s love coats me like the dark-morning full moonshine, like the spring sunshine pouring through trees, bringing flowers to life. God’s love flows over me like the breeze, flows through me like breath. God, I breathe in your love, your presence, your grace.

Help me to live in your love today.

During Lent 2020, I’m reading and reflecting on The Jesus Storybook Bible. If you don’t already have it, I highly recommend it. You can purchase it here. Please note: as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Lent 2020: Heart of Love

“This is the one!…He has a heart like mine,” God said. “It is full of love.”

I want a heart like God’s, full of love.

Instead, my heart is filled with anxiety, complaints, aches, and some truly yucky gunk, like anger and fear.

My heart needs a thorough cleansing. I imagine taking it out, holding it gently like a fragile, frightened bird. I imagine immersing it in a basin of warm, not hot, soapy water. Holding it lightly in one hand, I swish the water around it, over it, in it. I ask God to remove the ashy silt of sadness, to wash it clean of all impurities.

I need my heart to pump clean, healthy blood. To pump rich, fruitful love.

I imagine God behind me, putting His arms around me and gingerly slipping His hand under mine. His free hand continues the care-full cleaning process. When we are done, God wraps my heart in the fluffiest towel to dry it off before putting it back in my chest. His hand lingers there as His eyes on mine tell me all I need to know:

I am clean. I am whole. I am loved. And so are you.

Lent 2020: Celebrate Love

God’s people were safe. They danced and laughed and sang and thanked God — when there had been no way out, God had made a way.
“I want you to love me more than anything else in all the world — and know that I love you, too,” God told them. “That’s the most important thing of all.”

God did an incredible thing: He parted the Red Sea to save His people from onslaught by the Egyptians. His people crossed safely; the Egyptians did not.

So they danced and laughed and sang and thanked God. We need more of this in life, recognizing God at work in big and small ways and joyfully celebrating with our whole bodies, from tippy-top to tiny toes.

Sadly, the Israelites didn’t celebrate for long. They quickly got caught up in complaints of the moment. They were hot and dirty and stinky and tired and hungry and where was God? Did He lead them into the desert to die?

Of course not. But isn’t that just our way? We have short memories. We forget what God has recently done and blame Him for not doing more right now. Bummer for us.

God called Moses up onto a mountain to give him some rules, not because God is all about dos and don’ts, shoulds and shouldn’ts, but because God wanted His people to know more about Him, to understand His priorities. He loves us so much He wants the best life for us so He gave us some guidelines, starting with loving and being loved by Him.

We get into trouble when we separate God’s commands from God’s love. When the rules feel hard and jagged, when they’re imposed on us by others without the context of God’s Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love, the rules lose their meaning. Never let go of God’s love.

During Lent 2020, I’m reading and reflecting on The Jesus Storybook Bible. If you don’t already have it, I highly recommend it. You can purchase it here. Please note: as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Lent 2020: Trust & Watch

God knows you can’t do anything!… God will do it for you. Trust him. And watch!

I am such a Moses – easily overwhelmed, a total scaredy cat, prone to arguing with God about things I’d rather not do, bargaining for a more comfortable approach.

What I love about the Moses story is that God allows Moses some concessions (aka, the company of his brother, Aaron), but over time, Moses trusts God more, becomes increasingly confident in what God will do, and needs Aaron’s help less.

By the time the Israelites have exited Egypt and reached the Red Sea, Moses is in full stride. Now, rather than God telling him not to be afraid, he assures the people that with God on their side they have nothing to fear.

I tend to think of myself as an open book: completely and vulnerably me, I trust most people most of the time. But I don’t like feeling risky-vulnerable, open to hurt. It’s quite vulnerable to admit that I can’t, on my own strength, accomplish much at all. That I must rely on God.

And yet it’s also freeing. Some things I can’t change. I just have to trust God and watch what He does. I put my hope in Him to do more than I can ask or imagine. Again and again, I put my hope solidly in His hands.

During Lent 2020, I’m reading and reflecting on The Jesus Storybook Bible. If you don’t already have it, I highly recommend it. You can purchase it here. Please note: as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Reading: February 2020

Do you ever read the last page before you get to the end?

I do. All the time. I read 30-50 pages to get to know the characters, and then I need to know who will still be important at the end. Generally, I don’t understand the action so it doesn’t give much away. Although it did take the luster off Gone Girl.

A friend gifted me a Kindle edition of The Immortalists and I realized that reading on a Kindle keeps me from checking the ending before its time. Of course I could scroll ahead, but I don’t. I laughed at myself when I realized it made me itchy, being out of my reading routine, plus the irony of not knowing the ending from the beginning which directly connected with the plot line of The Immortalists, in which the main characters discover as children the date on which they would die- they knew the ending from the beginning.

Look Alive Out There

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I almost didn’t finish this one. Maybe it’s because Crosley is a New Yorker and I am a California girl, but the first two chapters felt aggressive and off-putting. I stumbled through a few more, and decided to commit when I got to a chapter about her deciding on a whim to climb Cotopaxi, a 20,000-foot active volcano outside Quito, Ecuador. Since my husband and son recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I know a few things about how to prepare yourself for this type of adventure. Crosley did nothing beyond hiring a guide, not even allowing herself time in Quito to acclimate to being above sea level. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t summit.

She can write, that’s for sure, and she’s willing to take some bold (stupid?) risks but her attempts at humor made her less rather than more attractive as a narrator. I’m glad I’m done with it, and I don’t expect to pick up her books again.

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mesmerizing. I don’t know what a singing crawdad sounds like, but my brain buzzed with the heavy-hot song of cicadas as I read this beautiful book. It was a fascinating companion to The Giver of Stars, both about women who don’t fit in, who balk against cultural standards to live their own lives.

The Giver of StarsThe Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read Moyes’ Me Before You trilogy (enjoyed book 1 best),  this book came as a big surprise- it’s so different! Set in the US/Appalachian Mountains in 1930’s, it follows the Works Progress Administration Packhorse Librarians, women who road trails to remote areas to promote literacy. These brave women faced off against cultural mores, physical threats, and personal challenges to make the world a better place for themselves and those they served. A beautiful book.

I received a free copy of this book from Viking through a Goodreads giveaway.

Millenneagram: The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest SelfMillenneagram: The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self by Hannah Paasch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Foul-mouthed and funny, this might be the most helpful enneagram book I’ve read. I didn’t read every word, just sections relevant to me.

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you could know the date on which you would die, would you want to?
If you did know, how would it affect your life?

I wouldn’t want to know, and this book confirmed that.

Told in five sections, an intro plus one for each of the four Gold children, this book examines life and death from various angles. And it’s an epic family saga to boot. It’s bold and smart and beautiful.

However, trigger warning: suicide.

“Life isn’t just about defying death… It’s also about defying yourself, about insisting on transformation. As long as you can transform, my friends, you cannot die” (130).

View all my reviews

Please note: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. 

Cover image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

Lent 2020: Magnificent Dreams

God had a magnificent dream for Joseph’s life and even when it looked like everything had gone wrong, God would use it all to help make the dream come true.

What do you dream for your life? Are your dreams coming true?

As a little girl growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was heaven on earth and I wanted to live there for eternity. I thought I could achieve my dream by being the person inside the Donald Duck costume.

As an adult, I’m thrilled to say I left that dream in the dust. Now I can’t imagine having to lug around a heavy costume in the sweltering SoCal summer heat.

Unlike Joseph, most of us don’t receive prophetic dreams about the greatness God has in store for us. Still, God indeed has great plans for all of us and He will use all our experiences, even the bad stuff, maybe even especially the bad stuff, to make those dreams come true.

Life often doesn’t turn out as we expect. And that’s okay, because so long as we’re still kicking God isn’t done with us.

We may not get to use dramatic gifts like interpreting a king’s dreams, or sit second-in-command of a major world power. We may have an oh-so-ordinary life, doing our work, growing a family, and loving our neighbors. Maybe our reality doesn’t even look like that, maybe it’s harder, soaked with illness or loneliness.

In the end, what God really wants for us, what makes a life a magnificent dream, is to love Him fully and faithfully, whatever that looks like today. Remember: The Redeemer loves you with a magnificent love and He will use everything, even the gone-wrong events, to make His dreams for you come true.