what’s in your toolbox?


yes…yes, I do indeed have a toolbox
with tools! (actual picture above)

the toolbox is metal – a sort of olive-green color
and it’s old.
it was my Uncle Jim’s
he and his sister – Aunt Hazel – raised my dad
so Uncle Jim was the closest thing I had to a grandpa
he died when I was 7

I’m pretty sure he used this as a toolbox –
and maybe he used it to hold many similar tools in it

let’s see…
I have a tape measure
a hammer
various screwdrivers
some jute twine
a wrench
small nails
a box opener
several IKEA tools

all necessary and useful tools

as a counselor, I refer to a toolbox often

professionally, to indicate those interventions that could be used in a session
or the knowledge that I have about treatment
or information that would be useful for a client

in a session, I might refer to a toolbox
as a place to keep “coping skills” – what we do to minimize the negative impact of something on our lives (stress)
so maybe we use our senses as a way to soothe – something to touch, hear, see, taste or smell
or maybe we do something to distract our minds
maybe we read or mediate on something affirming and inspiring
maybe we journal or practice mindfulness (tools for centering and grounding ourselves in the present moment)

a toolbox…

what if…
(a great counselor segue)
a toolbox is more that a place to
put things that “fix”
things that are used to repair

but also a place where
our skills are kept
our abilities
our approaches to life
our motives
our perspectives
our gifts
our talents…

would the contents of your toolbox be seen differently?
can your “tools” change?

for example….

as a single, Jesus-loving, white woman
I have certain things in my toolbox
that might not be the same as
my married, Jesus-loving, mother of 2, best friend
the not-yet-married, Jesus-knowing, co-worker
the marriage-on-the-rocks, not.sure.where.Jesus.fits, acquaintance
the divorced, Jesus who?, individual I just met…

our toolboxes are different
because our lives are different
our experiences are different
therefore our tools are different.

when we know better
we can do better
and be better

and even though we have the tools in our toolbox
we sometimes try to use the wrong one
kind of like the square peg in a round hole analogy

for me,
I have faith and trust (skills) in my toolbox
but when faced with circumstances
I don’t grab those tools…
maybe I grab the sturdy, reliable, comfortable and familiar
self-doubt or anxiety or fear

in my “toolbox”
faith and trust are not always on the top
at the ready

I have to sift and sort through
the doubt and the fear
and the anxiousness
to grab ahold of
those tools that are

tried and true
easy (not simple)
that really do fit to the shape of my hand (or my heart)

I think that every time I sort and sift
faith and trust and such skills
don’t get buried quite as deeply in the toolbox

and sometimes
I think that I need an additional
tool for the problem, situation, issue
when I really don’t

what’s in my toolbox?


it’s all there.
I don’t always choose the right tool
but I know it’s there
I also know that some of those tools
are out-of-place in my toolbox — they serve no purpose
at least no constructive purpose

have you ever tried tighten a screw with a hammer?
or tried to secure a nail with a wrench?


what if…
we cleaned out our toolboxes?
we removed tools that we have found to be destructive?
what if…
when we grabbed a tool from the box
we knew it would be useful?
maybe we can commit to at least attempting this…

it isn’t simple —
the comfortable, the familiar
the predictable “tools…we make them work.
but, maybe they are even tools at all.

maybe they are not fresh and good…
maybe they are keeping me in chains…
maybe they have become weapons…

the instrument of grace…


on not being able to breathe

have you ever been unable to breathe?

have you ever been figuratively
hit in the gut with something
that has literally
knocked the breath out of you
and you can’t breathe?

this something

just when you were
learning to breathe again…
to inhale and exhale

your breath is knocked out of you

lungs are unable to inflate
nerves send pain messages to your brain


sets in.

any forward motion that you thought you had achieved
is seemingly erased with one blow to the gut.

what you thought you knew to be true
and right
is no longer that way.

those sharp, quick intakes of breath
seem like much-needed oxygen now

now you have more questions…without answers
your faith seems weak – but is it really?

not suffocating
but unable to catch a breath –
to completely inflate your lungs
so that live-giving oxygen is
transported to your starving
and atrophying organs
unable to feel completely –
your nervous system firing
S.O.S signals
instead of peace and problem-solving –

panic and anxiety
set in – with all of their relatives
and start to set up camp in
your mind…directly affecting
how you feel and what you do…

what do you do?

perhaps you act – instead of responding
perhaps you don’t act – because you can’t
perhaps you just sit and ponder, even wallow

the ‘what-ifs’
knock on your door…
trying to sell
despair and gloom
and they just seem to be in a never-ending
line that loops around the block —
they are everywhere you look…

what if…
what if…
what if…

asking what if
even inviting him into your house
to sit with you and enjoy a cup of coffee
is not a bad thing, always

what if…
this is truly a part of this bigger picture
that no one can see?

what if…
this is truly part
of something greater than you could ever think or imagine?

what if…
the hurt
the questions
the absolute interruption
the unknown future
the unsettled present
what if during that all
you begin to know – to fully comprehend
and realize
even if…
not what if…

even if
God is still good

even if…

we don’t
I don’t
want to think of that part of life…

thinking of the “what-ifs”
constantly – like a never-ending loop –
the pattern becomes set
like water flowing down a bank –
with the constant flow, a path is eroded
and the water has but one “choice” of
direction, of where to go

even if
kind of puts a roadblock in that
carefully gouged and worn direction
and it changes that path, that pattern
and the familiar and comfortable
and the way of least resistance
is challenged – and we are left
feeling as if we’ve been sucker punched.

can I get a “me too”?

I started to write and think and ponder this about one instance
but then I realized I’ve been there –
doubled over with the wind knocked out of me
(who am I kidding, I’m there now)
and I imagine that so many of us
have been there (or are there) too

maybe “even if”
allows us more freedom to

to doubt
to wonder
to feel
to think
to act

because maybe
wrapped up in
the “even ifs”
are nuggets of Truth
and the even if creates a new path –
and new way of thinking

maybe if we are able to see
the thing that has
knocked the wind out of us

truly see it
touch it
smell it
taste it
hear it

we can tangibly comprehend
the complexity of it…
and not see through it, but

see past it
to possibilities
to hope

to the “even if” part of this journey.

even if…
God is still good.

His goodness
His character
does not depend on our circumstance
or our feelings
or our thoughts
or even what we do

He remains.

even if God is the One who has come
and knocked the wind out of you

He remains –

full of grace

He remains.

and maybe, just maybe
we can end up transformed
in our thoughts and realize that
the blow to the gut was not
God knocking the breath out of us —
maybe we realize that He is truly

Life without Him creates a vacant void that causes your lungs to collapse at the very center of who you are. (Amena Brown)

the sucker punch of grace…







earlier bits

July 2017