High Flying and New Beginnings

are you my mother

I never wanted May to get here. Now I don’t want it to end. Kind of like the childhood book I recently found. But God punctuated the month with the sweetest ending, and reminded me of new beginnings.

I lost my high school best friend to cancer back when we were 29 years young. God used it to change my life and increase my faith. Yesterday, her mama sat on my couch for a visit. A mom missing her daughter, and this daughter missing her mom. We shared memories of both through glassy eyes and hopeful hearts. And we shared some dreams.

I also told her the one thing I’d been glad Mom wasn’t here to see was my mounting mess since she’d left. Then I relayed a recent dream. In it, I was upset and exclaiming how things were just too hard. Not unlike some days in real life.

And for whatever reason, my dream landed me in the laundry room. Ironically, the one room that remained untouched in my personal Spring Cleaning Challenge.

Even family members knew to beware. “Uhhh Uhhh! Back awaaaay from the laundry room door! Don’t you dare open it, lest you be permanently banished from the Hughes household!” The only one ever allowed in was Mom. She knew all my junk. Jam-packed from floor to ceiling.

So in the dream, I was running. Then I frantically darted into the laundry room, and nearly ran right into Mom. Just the two of us. Face to face.  Like the morning she left for Heaven. And just like then, I yelled that things were too hard. I just couldn’t do it without her.

“But I’m still here, Christie,” she reassured. And like usual–I argued. “No you’re not, Mama! You’re in Heaven. You can’t be here.” She calmed and quieted me with, “Yes, but I’m still with you.” Then I woke up.

For over a year now, I’ve felt like that lost chick pecking around to find her Mama. The one who flew the nest before I’d even had time to learn how to use my wings.

Then it hit me. Like a piece of falling sky. I’d promised her weeks before she flew off with Jesus that I was gonna start writing. But He took her before I could fully find my pen and my purpose.

Last year, I shared that with an editor at a writer’s conference. With tears and regret in my eyes, I told her, “But she never got to see me. I didn’t get to finish.”

Then with eyes piercing and strong, and with words spoken even stronger, she said, “But she WILL see you.” The eyes and the firm voice were uncanny. I almost believed her. And I almost wanted to say, “Are you my Mother?”

Two weeks ago, I bumbled across a stage to clench a sweet piece of paper that reminded me I was keeping my promise. Later that evening, after God hushed my family to sleep, I talked to Jesus all night, with a dripping faucet of thankful tears trickling down. And I wondered if Mom really could see me. Before God finally lulled me to sleep, I was prompted to check my phone.

Waiting for me was a message from the same editor shared with the same amount of thick encouragement I’d heard the year before. With impeccable timing. “Congratulations on the award tonight. Confirmation my friend.  Your mama was smiling.”

Only then did I realize maybe God had shown Mom before He took her that morning–what she’d known all along. That the only way I’d venture out of my own nest of fear and doubt was if she first took flight.

Yesterday, I shared lots of things with my friend’s mom that I hadn’t done before, like God using her daughter’s life–and death–to help me learn how to forgive. And how my own daughters had just spent time with their grandfather because of it. As I was sharing, I could see the contents of my actual laundry room billowing out in the hallway behind her. Currently under construction. She didn’t mind. And I tried not to.

I hugged her goodbye, and held on to the hope of new beginnings. As I close out May, I’m reminded of her daughter’s life verse. The one I was blessed to share on the day we celebrated her life, right after she flew home too. It’s the one that applies to my own life and flight, and every word that I write.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

How has God recently reminded you that He’s working out all, and I do mean ALL, things for your good?

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And the Gifts Kept Coming!

timing is key

I’m still smiling from cloud nine. God gave me just what I needed and even more than I wanted. And not a second before or a minute after. He could’ve stopped at my daughter’s day card and my sweet mama moment I shared on my last post.

The card and the rollers right before Mother’s Day. They were enough. To strike a cord and heal a hurt. But God didn’t stop giving. And I could’ve halted my spring cleaning challenge. But I didn’t stop either. So the gifts kept coming.

Instead of throwing in the towel, I threw myself back into shuffling through and shoveling out more of my mess. And for no apparent reason, I changed up the course and switched out the scenery. Plowing into my daughter’s room and venturing where no mama has gone before. Or at least not in over a year. Under the bed. Where the wild things are.

Ten minutes later, I came up for air holding a treasure and a heart full of gold. You see, that same day, I remembered a book my Mom used to read to me over and over (and over and over). A sweet childhood memory. I even planned to hop on line and have it delivered to my front door. Instead, God delivered it into my treasure-hunting hands. I didn’t even know we owned it. God knew just what I needed and gave me more than I wanted.

And I kept digging. “Who IS this mad woman?!” my husband even exclaimed. All day I was a mean, green, cleaning mama machine. Before clocking out for the night, my eyes darted to the infamous kitchen junk drawers. The ones I usually pretend aren’t there. But now they became prey for the predator.

I was one drawer down with two more to go. Close to midnight, I thought about quitting. But I didn’t. Again, for no apparent reason, I completed 1, skipped 2, and jumped straight into drawer number 3. The random, useless one that hadn’t seen the light of day or my hands in years. Elbow in, I dug in deep, tossing out old coupons, clippings, and covered up layers. Way in the back and down underneath, I spotted the keys–mere treasures indeed.

Two Keys. Not just any keys. One for me. One for Mom. I’d lost them long before I lost her. And I was still in trouble (you know you can still be “in trouble” at 30-something, right?). And here’s the kicker. I’d thought about them that very week, and even told my husband I didn’t know if I’d ever find them.

I forgot where I put them and Mom never let me forget it. “Christie, when are you gonna find those keys? You really need to find those keys. I NEED you to find those keys.” I’d hear it over and over (and over and over).

They were simply keys to an empty box. Side by side. Numbered 77. Now they are a reminder that I hold the God-given keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, as I keep digging in and doing what Matthew 7:7 tells me–asking, seeking, knocking. And finding.

Now, should I be surprised to clean up the house and find lost items? Nope. But it’s as much about the timing as the finding. Days before Mother’s Day, God knew just what I needed and gave me more than I wanted.

And it’s about the reminding. He reminded me that there are literally rewards for “going through stuff.” I’m sitting here typing in a mini-van, headed down from the mountains and the spiritual highs of a Christian Writer’s Conference. Much to my dismay, carrying a little writing reward tucked into my suitcase.

I found treasures and gifts this month when I went through my junk, followed by a paper award for writing about my mess. The last thing I ever wanted to write, but the first thing God asked. And I was rewarded. Because He knows just what I needed–and again–gave me more than I wanted.

The book, the keys, the award–meant a lot. But even more, God has far greater treasures stored up for us–heavenly rewards for all that we go through.

Picture your daunting piles and the miles of pain. All that you endure, while still holding on to Him. Then hear this–you will be rewarded for each and every one. I promise.

When my 3-year-old wants me to keep my end of a bargain, she comes in close and yells, “Pinky promise, Mama?!” As she holds out her pointer finger to me instead of her pinky, no less. So here I am holding out my pinky finger to you with my right hand, while holding my left pointer finger up to God, saying, “I promise you–you WILL be rewarded. And girlfriend, that’s a pinky promise Heaven intends to keep. And timing is the key!”

How has God recently encouraged you with a treasure and reminded you that your struggles will be rewarded?

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19 (NIV)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

From a Mother’s Day Grinch to a Daughter’s Day Gift

rocky words

Last weekend I was pumped. Stoked. Jazzed. Dripping with so much confidence I looked like Rocky Balboa, ready for 50 single-handed push ups after a round of sacking frozen meat carcasses and a 10-mile uphill run. Well, almost.

Hours into digging in and spring cleaning out, I took my first break. Hey, surely even Rocky needed a breather and a coffee refill.

To top off the iconic moment, my trainer, I mean my husband, grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat, squeezed my shoulders while he dared to sing a Rocky theme song. I laughed and then almost choked on a half a cup of coffee while the other half nearly spewed out my nose.

I gotta admit. His timing was perfect. And the singing was funny, ’til I pressed stop with a quick backwards elbow jab. I had work to do. And he’d started this fast moving train. I had more cleaning dragons to slay and elephant boxes to move from last week’s post.

But I hit a road block a few hours later. And I was a sobbing, soggy wet mess on the floor. Going through boxes that hadn’t seen the light of day…..in years. Reliving memories, but mostly tossing out trash and regrets. And having some mopey Mama moments. It’d been well over a year since I’d seen her and heard her reassuring voice. Now would be a really good time.

I had just stood on top of the world. But I slid down nearly as fast as I hopped on. I’d almost conquered the elephant, but somehow I couldn’t conquer the dread in the pit of my stomach.

I knew the calendar. I knew the month. And I dreaded the coming week. Just call me the Mother’s Day Grinch. Then I spotted a card. No year. No date. But it had my name and my Mama’s handwriting all over it. It was timeless–and no doubt just in time.

And just about the time I was ready to throw in the towel, a smile from Heaven walked through the door saying, “Mama, will you roll my hair?”

What? Now? In the middle of this? She’d been asking for months if I’d roll her hair for the very first time. And it made no sense for me to get up now, but I did.

After the last roller was in, she admired my work in the mirror. I watched her reflection look up to mine before she said, “Mama, I look just like Mimi.” I stared in the mirror, and then watched my own jaw drop, along with a single tear slide down my face in front of me. She sure did. She SURE did.

She was not quite 4 when her Mimi, my Mama, left for Heaven. But I guess she was with her for long enough to remember that her Mimi never left the house without first rolling her hair.

And even the bouffant that followed to top off her little 5-year-old head was uncanny, as my brother aptly pointed out. She looked just like her Mimi. And like mother like daughter.

micah rollers

Such a sweet reminder that even in the middle of bitter places, Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us. And just when you’re ready to throw in the towel, He steps in to pick you up and set you back on the path of purpose He’s planned for you. Whether it winds through the bottom of a valley or leads to the top of the mountain.

And check this out, ’cause it’s for real. He even sings over you. Perhaps not the Rocky theme song, but rest assured, He’s singing over you girlfriend. So don’t throw in the towel. You’re almost there.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7

Quick. What’s your favorite theme song? Hum it in your head and then write it out in the comments below. And let’s keep singing and keep moving together.

And because I couldn’t resist–Rocky theme song:


Cornerstone Confessions



elephant words

I recently walked into my bedroom and let out a shriek as I watched my husband steadily dragging out all–and I do mean ALL–of the contents of my closet. Ahem. Our closet. OK. It’s a shared closet, but evidently I don’t share very well and most of MY contents end up on his side after they tumble down the mountain of my side.

I was horrified to find them now smack dab in the middle of our bedroom floor. Where I was forced to look at them. Stare at them. Where I could no longer avoid them. They’d been the elephant in the room for years.

I huffed and I puffed, and I just about blew our bedroom walls down with my rumbling and grumbling.

What in the world was he thinking? I’d just worked so hard cleaning up our room, making it presentation pretty. So I could put my tired feet up and admire the fruits of my labor. Did he not KNOW how much energy and sweat it takes to keep that burly elephant crammed into that closet?

The LAST thing I wanted to look at now was MY JUNK from behind those doors! That would defeat the purpose of all that shoving down and covering up.

He snapped my thought in two when he said, “Hey, I’m just holding you accountable Christie. You SAID you were ready to clean out the closet. Now are you, or aren’t you? And sometimes you just gotta deconstruct before you can reconstruct.”

I glared back at him, sent daggers of stares at him and the elephant, and then loudly exhaled my way out of the room, nearly taking the door knob with me, and leaving a cloud of exhaust fumes in my wake. Along with broken pieces of my pride scattered on the carpet.

I mean, just because I said I WANTED to do something, didn’t mean I really meant it. Do you know what I mean? You do know what I mean, don’t you? Don’t you?

I let the exhaust and my head clear before I realized he was right. But it was just wrong. I didn’t like it one bit.

And I kind of liked the massive elephant in my closet and in the middle of our messy life. He’d been with us for so long. I fed him frequently, and he might as well have been our family pet. Maybe he could just mosey on through to the back yard now. I hardly saw him. He wasn’t getting in the way. And I barely felt him. (Hold on, I can barely breathe now–for some reason I feel like an elephant’s sitting on my chest.)

Inhale. Exhale. OK I got it. I see him. Now. The truth is, we can’t change what we don’t see. What we don’t choose to look at. And Jesus longs to touch and to transform what we willingly place in His hands. Hands that are large enough to accommodate our elephant-sized issues. He wants to sit down with us and sort it all out beside us.

I’m like you. I just want freedom. But I don’t actually want the work-zone and the heavy elephant lifting that leads to it. Or the broken pieces of my life laid out on the floor before me.

Yet freedom is on the other side of a transparent heart that’s courageous enough to lay it all down. To put it all out there. It’s on the other side of that mountain of an elephant.

But you don’t have to move it alone.  Jesus can send Him packing with a single pinky push. You just have to give Him the Word.

And fear not. He went before you, hung for you, clung for you, on the mountain of Calvary, and now goes with you.

So let’s keep going. We can’t give up or back down. Let’s keep wading through our mess and weeding through our piles with Jesus at our side.

Have you sent some elephants of fear and doubt packing this week, loaded down with tattered boxes of unforgiveness and shame? If so, let me know and invite me over to the victory dinner. I’m ready for an elephant roast paired with a big ‘ole slice of freedom pie. I can almost see it from here.

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Ephesians 1:18

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