Beholding Glory::Kingdom Come Here on Earth {Blessed Are Those Who Mourn}

stained glass diamonds

                                                                               photo credit

There is a way for us to behold glory, and it looks like reaching across the table and just crying with someone who’s hurting, not saying much.

Sometimes all you can say, your arms around them, is this sucks.

I understand what it means to be angry at God–I’ve been there–it’s okay.

Because really, that’s what God wants to say to them if He could, audibly, but He wants to use us.

Jumping into someone’s life and offering advice is a sacred thing. They’re making room for you in their secret places, their inner chambers, their heart of hearts, letting you see all their dirt and grime, the dust on the furniture, the stack of food-crusted dishes in the sink. And the last thing they want you to do is point it out, or to look embarrassed when they make apologies. It’s best to just give some serious disclosure —girl, look, you don’t even want to see my dishes right now–they are way worse.

There is a way to behold glory and it’s not in pretending we are righteous. It’s not in our walls and our thick layers that protect and our fears that keep others at a distance.

See, I have this huge dream to behold glory, to see Kingdom come here on earth. It’s a scary dream really, because I’ve been burned enough to put my faith right out.

But that’s the thing about hope–it’s stronger than fear. It just keeps enduring, keeps flickering back on and won’t be snuffed out. Satan hates this, I think.

There is a way to behold  glory and this dream is that The Church will trust God to save the millions, and stop marching forward with our crusade in haste, leaving the wounded and the weak in faith falling to the sides in our wake. I hope that we will love well the few right around us, that we will make the time to reach across tables, across pews, across airplane aisles and checkout counters, really see the people behind the eyes we are looking into.

I don’t like conquests just for conquest’s sake, and I don’t think God does either.

I dream that we will reach out with a hug when that someone walks in the door a little tear-eyed on a Sunday morning.

I dream of bringing groceries by to the family that lost an income, not because the pastor announced the event in the pulpit, and we think our name may be printed in the bulletin, but because they whispered it to us, they trusted us, and we quietly showed up, Jesus at their door.

I dream of personal, one-on-one, left-hand-not-knowing-what-the-right-hand-is-doing kind of ministry.

I dream of a time when we don’t call it ministry. We just call it Love.

Compassion doesn’t mean feeling sorry for someone–it means entering into suffering with them. This is what Jesus meant when he said Blessed are those who mourn.

Because last I checked, I sin everyday and God said none of us is righteous, not one.



yellow haze

                                                                                                   photo credit:

We are still using a grading system for our sins, for their sins, his sin, her sin, this group’s sin, that group’s sin, and just like the Pharisees we have so many unspoken rules.

Because of this, doors have been slammed shut in my face, too.

We think we have come so far. Yet, we deceive ourselves to think that we really have no sin, that we are not in a perpetual state of sinner-saved-by grace, a hopeless state of constant sinning, if not for the cross and grace of one very scandalously loving God.

We could ask ourselves this revolutionary question: How do we know they don’t go to sleep every night, sobbing, asking God to forgive them, to change them too, the ones we push away?

So I dream and I dream big. I dream of a time when all the walls will come down and we will love fierce. A time when we won’t be cowardly afraid of what’s thought of us if we invite that pregnant, unwed friend to church and sit next to them, or have coffee with a gay friend, or invite that family from across the tracks over for hashbrown casserole.

I have hope, and this hope swells inside my chest til I believe it will explode and this is the question I’m asking: Shouldn’t we plead for all?

To tell them God is for them, that He loves them. Period. And if they trust us enough, maybe we get a chance to share the gospel.

I dream of a day when we don’t draw a line and throw words of hate back from our side, but instead, walk over to the picketers and boycotters and get to know them, share a meal together.
Because really, we are filthy rags and our love of self stinks.

So I dream of a better day when maybe pastors wear t-shirts and jeans, and church can be anywhere people are gathered in the name of love, and the red carpet is laid out for all, like our Father does for us, for those who come looking for love a little dirty and maybe their appearance a little different than ours.

I don’t dream of great exploits in God; I don’t dream of being a hero.

I do dream of beholding glory. I do dream of Kingdom come here on earth.

I dream of changing one stranger at a time with our genuine care, and I dream of a church, rising up out of the ash of their own bridges burned and beginning to build a crossway of Love.

trees and stained glass
                                                                          photo credit    




{This post shared with BibleDude.net, Michelle DeRusha, Jennifer Lee for #TellHisStory, Imperfect Prose, Shelly and Duane for #Wonderstruck}



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A Woman of Grit and Glory::Calling the Art and the Music Forth {An Abstraction on the Piano}

I can see the piano gleaming in sunlight coming through the window off to the right and one just to the left, the old air conditioning unit jutting out of it’s breezy opening.

Her little house was so old, the tiles in the bathroom looked ancient to me. In my fuzzy memory, they were a faded color of pepto-bismol pink, and the carpet, an old brown color, trodden on by work boots and cowboy boots many a day. There were old frames holding family pictures hanging up above the couch, and newer ones of grandchildren. There were dusty photo albums and magazines, a very simple table with a vinyl tablecloth in the kitchen. It was a small, cozy house, windows just in spots to let lots of light in.

Every time I visited her, I was so drawn to that piano, the keys and old hymns calling to me, a part of my ancestry. I felt the history that was in my bones when I sat on that bench and was brave enough to let my fingers land on the white and black.

She would come and sit beside me. She had probably been knitting something, reading a magazine, or cleaning up the dishes. But she would drop that for music, and she was a born teacher.

Which is no surprise, given that she travelled around, doing tent revivals, preaching God’s word. This is where I come from; this is in my bones.

She laid her hands on top of my hands, showed me how to touch the keys, how to find the music.

Music was in our blood.

Music and God, and the art of letting Him make us.

She was a woman with much illness and grief in her life. If she could be here now, she’d tell you that her life was a hard road, but God saw her through. God never forsook her.

And no matter what she went through, no matter the mental illness that plagued and made the days hard, no matter the young three- year-old that died in her arms, no matter the man that was hard to live with**, she kept going. She just kept moving forward.

I would think all of that would break a woman, and I’m sure there were broken places she never told anyone about. It was a whisper she prayed to God in the shower, complained to Him as she cooked, as she worked, as she scrubbed, broken whispers, words coming out fragmented, like so much worship.

I know it would have broken me.

But she worked in the garden mercilessly, and she canned food to provide for her family during winter, and she stayed up late in the night with a teenage son who had a lot of questions about relationships and women and life. And she got up early with a smile and a Rise and shine and give God the glory!, and she never faltered, never fainted.

She. just. kept. going.

I only knew the music of her life as a small child, and only through very small windows of time, and oh, I have often wished mightily that I could have witnessed, watched intently, listened to the song of her everyday life, her rise and her fall.

I have often thought of her on bad days, when the depression gets the best of me, wondered what she would tell me if she were here. Wondered if she would pat my knee, tell me it’s all going to be just fine, just. keep. going.

Just keep trusting and leaning in. Keep making music with my life.

I remember her beautiful voice, how she knew the notes to the familiar hymns so well, and to hear her sing them was breathtaking, because you knew when you heard her sing, that it was gospel to her, it was truth, and she believed. Nothing could take that away.

I want to have that kind of grit and glory in my life. What a strong woman. I only pray the memory of her makes me half the woman she was.

She battled pancreatic cancer for years and years, but for a long time, the doctors didn’t know what her symptoms meant. When they found the cancer, it was too late, and all they could do was let it eat away at her body.

It did eat away at the song of her; she no longer had the vibrancy she once did.

She also had a stroke, and she grew thin, and she shuffled when she walked.

I remember her coming down to the house one day, shuffling up to my door. She had come to see her great grand-kids, and I was shampooing carpets. My couch was blocking the doorway. She asked for a picture of them, which I quickly got and handed to her.

My insides churn and I cringe that I didn’t stubbornly move that heft of couch out of the way for this woman whittling away, that I didn’t pour sweet tea and stop my scrubbing, my cleaning.

That’s a memory I’d like to forget–put out of my mind forever.

We could get lost in the grief of regret, or we can let God turn our regrets into redemption, our grief into growth and change.

I was there to see her final breaths, the rise and fall of her, and I recall how my father said what an awful thing cancer was because it stole the beautiful glow from his mother’s face. It took the vibrant red glow from her cheeks, her skin ashen, her once plump figure now just a hollowed-out reminder, and it was difficult to recognize her without her music.

The joy and beauty in her face, her smile, the way she always fixed her hair, and the way she loved–she made art with her life, she made music. It was a pleasant sound in God’s ear.

We all stood around her bed in the hospital room with its shiny, cold linoleum and bare, stark walls and with a huge lump in my throat, we sang the old hymns. She was so frail beneath the white sheets.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

That saved a wretch like me.

The piano, her piano, sits now in my foyer with the morning sun shining in on it, and my girls have learned to play notes on it. Notes I taught them. I see the little artist budding in them, and I hear the thrumming of God’s heartbeat, saying Don’t squelch it; honor it, nurture it, teach them to glorify me.

For years, I didn’t touch it. Maybe because it reminded me of all of the man-made, man-centered worship, and how something so holy as the inner sanctuary can be desecrated right in God’s sight as his children gather together. I didn’t know how to reconcile this, and my fingers couldn’t remember how to make the music.

I forgot how to be brave, how to be a woman of grit and glory.

But all of the music that’s in my bones, all the art that’s stirring in my blood, all of the morning song that I’ve stuffed down deep–He’s calling it forth.

Every time I walk by the piano and glimpse the hymnal book, I feel Him calling me to worship. And every time I gather enough courage to sit on that bench, and play a song, I can feel her there. And I hear the chorus rising, of long-ago tent revivals when people cried out desperately for God’s touch, and I hear the music played in a grandmother’s living room on a golden afternoon, the light slanted, her hands showing me the way.

**Important**Please read** By sharing this story, I am not advocating the idea that a wife should stay in an abusive, or unhappy marriage. I am sharing a story of one woman who did the best she could, in a time when divorce was unacceptable in her society. Today, women have better choices. I support women’s liberation from abuse, sex slavery, sexual harassment, etc.  
**If you are in an abusive situation, please seek the help of a professional


Friends, I appreciate you helping me get the word out–be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords. 

What this link-up is about: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, we “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place: fire smoke in the air, an old, tattered wooden swing, black rich dirt underneath bare feet, a woodpecker hammering at a birch. Go here to learn more of what Amber meant for us to do with concrete words when this all began. This will help your writing–I promise! 

A few simple guidelines:  1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others 
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising, or 
                                             sponsored posts 
                                         5. Consider sharing via social media to help get word out!
                                         6. Please leave a comment–I love getting to know you!
**Today’s prompt is the Piano


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Road. {I’ll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!

**Because of what I shared * here,I sometimes have to take social media breaks. However, I am committed to answering comments and visiting those who link up here! I hope you feel a sense of community and right at home when you are here. But sometimes, just a quiet place to reflect, pray, dream is what we need. So if you’re quietly reading, that’s great. If you would like to un-lurk, and leave me a comment, I would love to meet you!! . 


I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here. If you are here, know you are loved, and you’re the seasonin’ in my soup. 


{This post shared with AnnJen, Laura, Heather, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!) **When linking, please check out the one-word prompt first! Thanks!** 

Quieted By Her Love {Five Minute Friday}

She runs with me through the woods, our hair flying, stopping for one another when we’ve lost our breath.

We never leave one another behind. We always walk beside.

She cups my face when life throws it’s worst curve balls, she looks in my eyes, her eyes reflecting my storm in them, and grieving with me, she prays.

She doesn’t give advice while my shoulders shudder and the tears pour.

She aches to hold me.

She can stand in my kitchen with me and giggle as we pour rum into fruity drinks.

She sends a card in the mail that says I was just thinking of you, and I’m not sure why you’re silent, but I want you to know, my loyalty and my love has never wavered.

When I confess I have felt jealousy because I feel beneath, and I have railed against the bitter cup of chronic illness God’s given, and I plead for her forgiveness, she just says, my dear, there is nothing to forgive.

You have my heart always. You have my heart.

She tells me before we get to Nebraska that even if I misbehave, she will still be my friend.

She stills all my quaking, calms all my fears with her grace.

The inner voice, the lion seeking to squelch and kill, it is quieted by her love.

It is quieted by her love.

**On Fridays I join Lisa-Jo and the Five-Minute Friday Community. Here are Lisa-Jo’s words:

 “We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST every Friday.

And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”

The one-word prompt this week was FRIEND.

Five Minute Friday

Now it’s time for the #concretewords highlight of the week! WOOT! {Kimberly Coyle hosted this week for me while I was out of town, and we had some technical stuff go haywire–I only ended up with one entry because the linky didn’t work–thanks for hanging with us!}

IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND YOU WOULD STILL LIKE TO ADD YOUR LINK–LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENTS AND I’LL ADD IT HERE AND ALSO ANNOUNCE IT ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER! 

Ruth Povey, for The Sink. Ruth writes beautiful and brave here–captivating and evocative.

Gulping From the Cup {On God Using Community to Heal Us From Bad Community}

I sat there on the plane, next to him, not knowing who he was, my arms waving in circles, exclaiming wildly with too-hoarse voice, and this is what he heard me say, as our plane backed out of the terminal at the Omaha Airport.

Why are we so afraid to say ‘I’m a writer, to say that what I do, what I create–is good’? I just really think God has so much grace for us that we’ve yet to grasp or tap into. There is so much freedom in God. Why are we afraid to accept and own that freedom? We wear this heavy cloak of guilt and shame for who we are, and we think that’s humility. But God doesn’t want us going around to everyone apologizing, ‘I’m not good enough’. 

It’s like God’s saying dance wild in my freedom, in a field of wild flowers.

And I’m on the edge of the field, dipping my toes into soft wet clover, and timidly testing it out. I’m wild with fear, wondering what huge thing is going to come across that field at me.

We think the shame of ourselves and our fear, our timidity, makes us more holy. But Jesus said blessed are the meek, not the timid. When we are meek, it means we know our might and our power to crush, to control, to correct, but we hold it back with gentle force in respect.

The true humility God wants us to wear says ‘I’m redeemed’, I’m God’s and because of His bloody and bruised sacrifice, my heart is bowed low and because He says I’m beloved, my head is held high.

And yet, we wear that heavy cloak anyway. It’s weighing us down. It’s a cloak of shame, of fear, of unworthiness, of “I’m not good enough”, of a humility that isn’t true.

Why do we keep putting it back on?

I walk over and hang it on the coat rack, thinking I’ve really laid it down, but God wants me to get rid of the coat rack, because everytime I walk out that door, I pick it up. And I just keep wearing it, over and over. And I think it fits so pretty and so snug, but Father-God who knit my pieces together, says “No, daughter, this shame-cloak is not made for you.”

I feel Him gently pull it off, His mighty strength holding back the darkness that tears at my soul, and with the weight off of what didn’t belong to me, I feel so free.

And I’m longingly looking to Him with adoration.

I look at him, in that tight small space, and he looks at me, asks me to share. I look away, maybe for a way out, but I know, in an instant, without thinking, it’s really God asking me to share, because He’d been doing it all weekend.

I tell him, timidly, laying my life in someone else’s hands, wondering what they will do with it.

I tell of why I can’t go to church, why worship is hard for me, what being a pastor’s daughter did to me, and how people in the Body of Christ pushing me away once they encountered the real me–how that all made me jaded.

He said he admired me, people like me, he said, who have more than they deserve dumped on them and yet they keep loving anyway.

This made me balk and want to hide somewhere. I had never heard these words from other Christians in the body before, and if I had, I had brushed them off, thinking surely they weren’t real.

There were so many others, ones who looked me straight in the eye, when I said I had no idea what I was doing, and said You know exactly what you’re doing. You’re in a very good place.

Ones who looked me in the eye, said they were just an email away, told me to let them know if I needed prayer for any reason. Ones who looked me in the eye, said, I’m here for you.

There were others who looked at me, said, Yes, you do, when I said I don’t do community well, that I don’t do relationships with women well.

And the truth is, I don’t. My heart is black when it comes to community–I run from it with a fierce determination, afraid for my life, a deer being hunted, panicking, heart thumping loudly.

But that’s my truth, not God’s truth. And these women–and men? They spoke God’s truth to me. They looked at my heart, not at all the things I did or said wrong, stumbling around, but they looked at the potential, at what God has placed in me. And they saw something good there. They championed my heart and my dreams.

They said no to the lie and yes to God has made me and said it was good.

There was one who looked into my eyes as I began to tell her how much I respected her work, how she had a passion for encouraging women, and how I avoided those forums, because community is hard for me. I told her how God had begun to set that free in me this weekend, something I never thought would happen. The tears poured and the ugly-cry came in spite of me, and I apologized, said, I just wanted to snap a picture–I didn’t mean to do this!

She shook her beautiful auburn hair, No, these are the things that I want to hear from you, from women, because these are the things I work for, these are the important stories, they are the things that encourage me, to know that God heals, that God redeems.

There was the one who had me at hello, before ever meeting her in real life, and because of her daring, wonderful, crazy vision to invite some writers and bloggers to Nebraska, now I can dream too.

I can’t forget the precious woman I affectionately call “roomie”, who is in all my dreams and waking thoughts, who has my heart, and she had it before she ever stepped out of that car, sunglasses over her baby blues at the airport. She was the one who said God saved my roommate for me until I was ready.

Ready to step out on that shaky limb, ready to say yes to God, ready to have faith, to believe in my dreams.

I watched all of them, the ones I rubbed shoulders and hearts with. I marveled at them, listened to their heart, how they lean in towards people, how their gentle eyes see into souls, how they went right past small talk and asked the important questions, the ones that made me shake in my cowgirl boots, the kinds of questions that let you really know someone intimately.

There were sacred moments, uncensored, organic conversation in front of a fireplace, everyone gathered and leaning in, really seeing, really listening, and not judging.

Those moments changed me forever. As one friend put it so well, it was most probably a turning point in my story. I know it in my soul deep, even though my mind says be watchful, be careful, you can’t trust–God’s spirit was made strong in me through that moment and now the spirit knows something powerful in me–that God’s people are beautiful. And because of faith, I can trust.

What gorgeous souls they all were and still are. Meeting them in real life was beautiful and did more for me than they could ever imagine. This stone-cold, black heart, so afraid of people, of relationship, of church–it was broken right open and poured out in spite of me.

One lovely woman of God, she shepherded us, led us right up to the Shepherd’s feet. She led my weary, wary, jaded and undecided heart. She made me feel his rod and staff, and oh they are good. Knowing Him in that way had seemed out of my grasp for so long and then came the beautiful liturgical rhythm of her sermons, the worship songs, and then her prayers, an oasis in my desert.

Her radiant confidence in a wonderful Savior moved me and how can I possibly explain the sacredness of that moment when she broke the bread and held up the cup for us to come, all tearing a piece off–I had to tear it hard– Christ’s body ripping and being broken for me.

I drank from the cup, all of us drinking from the same, and I felt unworthy, unclean, and unsure all of us drawing from the same well, and in swallowing that red drink down, I willingly swallowed down community, all of us one and the same, unclean but made clean in Him, all of us pieces torn hard, made whole as a part of a Larger Whole, unworthy, but called Son and Daughter and given not a cloak of shame, but a robe of righteousness to wear, a ring, and a feast, and an inheritance of the largest kingdom this world has ever known.

We are hidden on high with Him.



Then there was one who stood before us and she worshipped. There was no song, or guitar, or piano, or dancing. She worshipped with her heart, with her words, with the call that she urged us all with. This is what she said:

“Whether you’ve been the big “somebody”, or have believed that you’re a nobody, you’ve got a role in the Christ-body, and that means everybody. 

 
You’ve been bullied by fear, discouragement, comparison, unbelief, and a hundred other ‘Not Enoughs’. 


We’ve had Enough of the ‘Not Enoughs’. 


Jesus is not intimidated…He might just ask you to use a rock to slay a giant. And He’s been known to roll certain stones away.”–Jennifer Lee

Tears rolled down my face, as I held the rock in my hand that bore the words fear and unbelief on them, the rock she said that her and her precious daughter would take down to the lake and throw in.

I had never forgotten the prayer she had prayed for me all that time long ago, and as she talked, I felt her worshipping, and that was the first time I worshipped that weekend, that I had let myself at all in a really long time. I let it all go, and the warm ran down cheeks onto collarbones. And it just ran, like a life-giving well, bubbling up and out, running down and out and up to God.

I watched one walk down the aisle with our Pastor, lay their stones in the basket together. Those stones that carry our “Not Enoughs”.  I saw hugs and tears and prayers, and the pain and grief and love was tangible in that place.

There was something so palpable in the room as I sat there and listened to that gorgeous courier carrying God’s message, I could almost reach out and touch it, and she was an angel, God using her to place his hand on my heart, to touch the pain searing there.

I left branded a new woman, all of these lives seared onto mine.

Yes, I have people now. After all the tearing, I’m apart of a Body now, and I’m gulping from that cup.

                                                      photo credit: used w/ permission by the lovely Laura Boggess

“The thing that wounds us is often the thing that God will walk us through again to heal us. And I’ve learned the beautiful truth and the tragic truth that God uses community to heal us from bad community.”–Mary Demuth


This post shared with Jennifer for #TellHisStory, Shelly & Duane for Wonderstruck, Emily, & Jen & Heather for the EO

In Which I Highlight Concrete Words Posts and Give You the Best ‘Round the Net


A few weekend links of some of the best of what I’ve read ’round the ‘ol net {and some to make you laugh too–hope you enjoy! ~

Kelly Chripczuk– Spring Snow (Remain here, Stay)

Emily Freeman–Why I Want to Subscribe to Your Blog (And Why I Hope You’ll Subscribe to Mine)

Tara Pohlkotte–Reflection

Kelli Woodford–The Morning After

Ann Voskamp–How Hurting Women Can Help One Another Heal 

The Actual Pastor–To Parents of Small Children–Let me be the one who says it out loud

Kid Snippets: Math Class (Imagined by kids)

Beth Moore: The Hairbrush Story  

Dove Experiment Aims to change the Way You See Yourself –This. This! A thousand times this–if you watch or read nothing else this week–this one here!! 


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Sink. I will be out of town at the Jumping Tandem Retreat–the lovely Kimberly Coyle will be hosting for me. Please watch her blog for a #concretewords post! {Something new–I’ll still be highlighting a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer(s) I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords are:

Ruth Povey, at learning {one day at a time} for her piece, Worship.
Kelly Chripczuk at A Field of Wild Flowers for her piece, Making Straight the Crooked    


I’m off to the Jumping Tandem Retreat, y’all! Pray for this introverted country girl? First time flying alone, and I’m so excited/terrified/giddy/ nervous about this amazing writer’s retreat, the people I’ll meet and the refreshing encouragement and courage I’ll come back with!! 

Linking with…

and Sandra for Still Saturday…

How Worship Is In The Broken Things {An Abstraction on Worship}

 Sunlight streaming so soft through the windows, and here I am in cut-off jean shorts and t-shirt, hands in soapy water, the suds are like large clouds I want to lay down in. Summer time comes through the blinds and the air-conditioning tries to keep up.

My hands scrubbing and scouring the blackened pots, it’s like I’m close to God because I’m a made-in-His-image-girl and I feel closest to His heart in the serving and the pouring of water on hands, on feet.

The water trickles and rinses off all the drought, all the dirt and scum. The worship music wafts on soap bubbles in the kitchen, and she croons and I listen to the story-song about a little girl who fell off her bike and hurt her knee, about a little girl needing Him desperately.

Come if you can, and you said, ‘I AM’

It breaks me, right there, staring at suds, and the intricate detail of iridescent colors, the warmth of the sink and the work making me feel alive. I’m singing along with her and the tears begin to fall, washing away the scum of my heart, and I’m a vessel broken, open, spilled, washed out for His use.

She sings about a little girl’s wedding day, about babies crying too much at 2 am, and I don’t know why, but there is a palpable presence in the room and I know Whose it is.

Come if you can, and you said ‘I AM’….

I’m broken, reminded what a sinner I am, because He comes to me when I least deserve it, when I’m really needy, and the most desperate.

And in that moment, right there, those four little words–Come if you can–they give voice to what lies deep, to the fear and doubt and this is real worship, to say what’s really in the heart.

No pretense.

Just real.

Talking to God like He’s a friend.

I’m convinced that He doesn’t care about altar dances late into the night, and endless prayers for hours for healing for the sick as much as He cares about one broken Come if you can.

Because it’s in the broken places that He’s nearest. That’s where He is really God. That’s where He’s strongest in us, when we’re weakest. That’s where we worship.

It’s a broken hallelujah He’s interested in, the broken hallelujah I offer up in the middle of the night, holding my baby, moonlight waxing the pine floor, rocking chair creaking. In a t-shirt and bare feet, with hair all haphazard and a bird’s nest in the very back where I’ve been lying, I rock her, and beg God in whispers so fragmented they are barely words and I cry.

When I go to church I don’t raise my hands and I’m the one sitting in a crowd standing because I have grown weary of shows and I refuse to follow a mere form. I’m no longer convicted of raising a hand being worship, and I’m almost sure completely that if I just close my mouth and listen, more worship takes place in my heart somehow.

The rebel in me is not a crowd-follower, but a Christ-follower.

My father sat in a pew once, arms crossed while my husband and I stood and worshipped. My three year-old child played under the pew. He leaned over to me later, said in my ear, “You know where I see the glory of God, if ever I’ve seen it anywhere?”

“In that child’s face.”

At the time, I thought he had absolutely lost his mind, and wasn’t altogether sure he wasn’t blaspheming.

But, somehow, being brought up Pentecostal and Charismatic, I am tired from the years that I felt I had to earn my salvation, had to work hard to enter the holy of holies, and I now see at thirty four what my father saw at forty-seven. What a crazy blessing.

To know that Jesus came to crush Satan’s head so I no longer need to work to be near God.

On this beautiful Sunday, I go outside bare-footed and swing my little ones on their wooden swing-set, lay out in the sun in my black bathing suit, hair tied up on top of my head, and slather on the coconut-infused oil while listenin’ to country music. It smells of tropics and I’m dreamin of a beach somewhere with eyes closed. My girls explore outside, getting their hands in the black dirt, so close to God, His good Earth in their fingernails, down in their skin, the sunshine strengthening our minds and spirits, and their laughter and my joy in them is worship to me and the flushed glow of their faces reminds me of glory and I feel like I’m in the Holy of Holies when I see her flying high up in the air, or I yell a little too loud, and I get to share the gospel with them because Mama messed up. Again.

I’m that battle-weary Christian, a little soul-jaded, who lets her hand slip tentatively up toward heaven in the sanctuary because it’s impossible not to when they sing those lines, that truth that makes my soul croon, makes me sway to a heavenly choir, leaning, ear tuned for that rhapsody, yearning for pearly gates.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect peace
A great high Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hand
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart. 



“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”

“The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). 

Gratitude: {1076-1082}

A friend who is willing to trade services and help me out by tutoring my girls

Getting to cut hair for my friend’s family and how spiffy they say they feel

Looking forward to a positive change for our family

Making up with Husband and how wonderful it is

The love Eddie and I make and how right it is and how it wraps us up in so much goodness

Giving husband a haircut and he beams proud like a new man

Packing for Jumping Tandem! Woo-hoo….(Scared and excited–pray for this introverted country girl?)

Friends, I appreciate you helping me get the word out about Concrete Words! Be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords. Please use the “Share” feature at the bottom of this post–thanks!  

What this link-up is about: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, we “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place: fire smoke in the air, an old, tattered wooden swing, black rich dirt underneath bare feet, a woodpecker hammering at a birch. Go here to learn more of what Amber meant for us to do with concrete words when this all began. This will help your writing–I promise! 

A few simple guidelines:  1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others 
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising, or 
                                             sponsored posts 
                                         5. Consider sharing via social media to help get word out!
                                         6. Please leave a comment–I love getting to know you!
**Today’s prompt is Worship


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Sink. I will be out of town at the Jumping Tandem Retreat–the lovely Kimberly Coyle will be hosting for me. Please watch her blog for a #concretewords post! {Something new–I’ll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!

**Because of what I shared * here,I cannot always answer comments and visit very many blogs, but I will do my best to visit those who link up here! I would love for you to feel a sense of community when you are here, and I hope you do feel right at home–I just think–though we all search for so much interaction and approval from others, that sometimes, maybe in some seasons, sometimes very long seasons, just a quiet place is what we truly need. Just a place to reflect, pray, dream. 


I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here. I’d like you to know that when I see you here, my heart just leaps out of my chest to connect with you–to let you know I hear you! And while you leave such sweet words here, I am probably somewhere cleaning a precious 3-year-old baby girls’ messes, listening to an eleven year old playwrite’s brave words, or teaching my crew. If you are here, know you are loved, and you’re the seasonin’ in my soup. 


{This post shared with Ann, Jen, Laura, Heather, Emily, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!) **When linking, please check out the one-word prompt first! Thanks!** 

A Proclamation: The Banner I Wave Over Us Is Love {Five Minute Friday}

In this moment of kids slamming doors and screaming too loud,
of one sister calling out Mama, she hurt me, of another running across
the top cushions of the new couch,
I don’t yell back,
I look in their angel faces
I give them gentle, firm instruction
I stay here with them,
day after day
in the grueling every day
struggle for relationship work of it all
I relish in the joy of their childhood
and when their eyes flicker happiness,
it reflects in mine.
In these moments of anger
and arguments
of wanting to run, of desperately needing my own space,
I stay here with him,
I look him in the eye, tell him I love him.
I show him I’m willing to do the hard work
I’m not afraid of the humble work
It’s a banner I wave over us,
It’s a banner of love
It’s a proclamation here and now,
I will love fierce, and nothing you do will change that
I’ll stay here and I’ll love on
for the always and forever
Our souls eternally entangled in God’s great grace
It’s a blood covenant I make
when I leak out, my love runs red
I’m stretched and torn
And I will keep giving, keep loving
In these moments when sickness is at our doorstep, and invades
for these years
and the darkness tries incessantly to encroach upon us
Husband labors for me, he toils
He watches over me fierce and strong,
my rock
He doesn’t give in, and when I’m all over the place
he is never-changing, firm and solid
reflecting heaven
and the banner over me is Love.
for the always and for forever
It’s eternal
and has nothing to do with feelings
or with me, or I or mine
It’s never changing, always believing the best,
always hoping and never stopping.
We never stop being here.
Eternally.
Together.

**On Fridays I join Lisa-Jo and the Five-Minute Friday Community. Here are Lisa-Jo’s words:

 “We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST every Friday.

And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”

The one-word prompt this week was HERE.

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer(s) I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords are:

Maryleigh of Blue Cotton Memory for her piece, Soul Stories in Dust Jackets
Kelli Woodford of Chronicles of Grace for her piece, The Rising 

Five Minute Friday

Lasso Tomorrow {An Abstraction on the Moon & Concrete Words Link-Up }

                                                                                       Photo credit
I watch her, so full in glow right over the tree line.
Sometimes she is just a haunting sliver,
sometimes round in her beautiful girth,
sometimes heralded with a smattering of twinkling stars–
but she always startles me with her lonely gaze, how she stands proud
and straight, how she claims the night-sky hers,
dares anyone to come close.
She takes up her space up there
I put thumb and index finger right over her,
she’s so small
I open and close and I can just see her,
so tiny, fitting in the inch between my pinched fingers
And yet she glows so bright she lights up the whole world.
I am in awe at her Creator
Sometimes she looms above me as I run round the lake
and I beg her for more time as she lowers upon my head
and rippling, still black water
Sometimes she slinks shy behind the trees,
or she proudly shines high in the sky
And sometimes it’s like that with me–
my head is downcast and I have to look up
to find the light.
I look up and see her, just behind talls trees,
their bare-naked, skinny arms reaching up high toward her,
pointing The Way for me toward Something Bigger
The white beautiful pregnant full orb of her shines like a beacon
in the night and she whispers
Hush, child, slow down, she says to me.
Take in all the beauty around you, let it seize you, grip you, leave you 
flushed in it’s tightened embrace
I hear her, Hush….
I see the way through the darkness, because she promises to
always shine on for me, to never go out,
she is my way home, and her constant never-changing
sings the praises of The One who is always the same
and does not change,
a lighthouse signaling to all ships chartering their course
in the night on open sea,
to all ships who’ve lost their way
in black velvet waters specked here and there with stars.
I will never be lost and I will always be home–
this I’m promised.
I watch her, her bosom so full as if she might nurse the whole world,
and I wonder could I ride the moon,
could I lasso her and tame her, break her, ride her into the next world?
I place my thumb up in front of my face, block her out, wiggle my thumb,
she’s there, then she’s gone.
What would it be like to walk on her? Would it be possible
to bring her down here, to me?
How does she stay up there night after night?
Does she ever fall from the sky, forget to shine, forget to point the way
for those who need it, for us wanderers?–
No, she stays night after night, millenniums old,
hung with the tippy tip of God’s little finger.
And I feel old too, like her, the shining coming from within,
nothing I have but with what I’ve been given
I feel her reflection now, her quietness, her hush.
I know and understand now what she means.
There is a time to work and to rest.
Rest, child now, rest. 
Lasso tomorrow.

Gratitude: {#1067-1075}…. Continuing to give thanks, even when the heart doesn’t feel it…

For a husband who listens, even if he has to work at it–working at it is love…
for children’s laughter that sounds like worship, my joy in them making the moment complete
Hands in God’s dirt
Sunshine on our faces
Red Cardinals and blue jays swooping through the yard
That I can call my Mama when I’m in trouble, when I need someone to calm me down…
For children who make my life complete and full, busy, giving me purpose…
For friends who love unconditionally
For birthdays and haircuts and airplane tickets (!!) –a line borrowed from my friend, Kelli

Friends, I appreciate you helping me get the word out about Concrete Words! Be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords. Please use the “Share” feature at the bottom of this post–thanks!  

What this link-up is about: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, we “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out a story, a memory, a feeling, a belief, and make me feel what you felt, describe the scene around you, the textures, the emotions, the tastes, smells, the light. Tell me what you touch, see, hear–this is concrete words. It’s a way to describe the invisible things that are around us, (that we may take for granted) in every day life. The prompt is not the concrete word–the concrete words are what you use to place us there in your story.  

A few simple guidelines:  1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others 
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising, or 
                                             sponsored posts 
                                         5. Consider sharing via social media to help get word out!
**Today’s prompt is the Moon


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is Worship. {This week I’m starting something new–I’ll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!

**Because of what I shared * here,I cannot always answer comments and visit very many blogs, but I will do my best to visit those who link up here! I would love for you to feel a sense of community when you are here, and I hope you do feel right at home–I just think–though we all search for so much interaction and approval from others, that sometimes, maybe in some seasons, sometimes very long seasons, just a quiet place is what we truly need. Just a place to reflect, pray, dream. 


I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here. I’d like you to know that when I see you here, my heart just leaps out of my chest to connect with you–to let you know I hear you! And while you leave such sweet words here, I am probably somewhere cleaning a precious 3-year-old baby girls’ messes, listening to an eleven year old playwrite’s brave words, or teaching my crew. If you are here, know you are loved, and you’re the seasonin’ in my soup. 


{This post shared with Ann, Jen, Laura, HeatherEmily, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!) **When linking, please check out the one-word prompt first! Thanks!** 


Cowgirl Manure-Princesses Get A Seat Next to Daddy {An Abstraction on the Truck}

I can hear Daddy tromping quietly as he can through the house, and my young ears are tuned into my father’s leaving even in slumber. Sunlight rays hit my blonde locks, and all of the sudden I know it’s morning. I know what’s coming, and I’ve caught him before he can make his getaway before the rooster’s crow, so I rub sleep out of my eyes and throw the covers back hard.

“Daddy, I’m coming with you!”

He’s shoving his brown, weathered boots on, lacing them.

“I’m leaving now; I don’t have time.”

“Please, Daddy! I can get dressed real quick, I promise!”

My little sister is chiming in now, too; she’s three years younger, only about three or four, her dark chocolate hair all disheveled, looking adorable falling around milky chubby cheeks.

He ruffles around for his wallet, looks for keys.

“Alright, alright, if you can be dressed in five minutes, you can go, but that truck is pulling out, whether you’re dressed or not!”

A thrill runs through me and I fly to my room, throw on jeans and a t-shirt, frantically look for my socks and shoes.

I know what this means as I dash around: I get to ride in the truck with my Daddy, and feel the hum underneath my bottom, feel the lunge and pull as he changes the gears between my legs, eat ice cream sandwiches with him, drink coke, and play in dirt and hay in sunshine and chase cats in barns.

I run outside and climb up into his pickup truck, which is nothing more than an old blue Chevy-style cab with a white work truck body which holds all his tools. And I love riding in Daddy’s truck, because it smells like him, like gasoline, and horses, and sun and sweat. There’s horse hair and dirt and grit and I’m a little cowgirl so I don’t care. We pull up into this winding gravel drive, out in the country, trees heralding our coming, waving at us along the drive, and my body tingles with excitement to see what kind of place this will be.

He pulls around to the barn, and it’s huge, and I love that because that means lots of horses, and a large tack room to explore, and probably cats and maybe, if I’m lucky, even kittens. But then I look out of my window and on the other side of the truck, I can see a huge open field with bales of hay.

Daddy lets us roam free while he shoes the horses, and my sister and I run down a little path from the barn, downhill into the open field, summer sunshine on our face, and we run toward the bales of hay, and I’m thinking I will climb on top and jump from one to the other. They look small and close together from the top of the hill. We get closer and climb and climb with all our might and then see that jumping over to the other one isn’t gonna happen. We have our fun with the hay until we’re bored with it; the scent of it reminds me of a hundred summers. We run back uphill to a large mound of “dirt” we saw.

We play and play ’til our hearts content in that pile and get as mucky and grimy as we like. Daddy tells us later it was really manure. Tiny cowgirls are like that, see, we’re not afraid to get down and dirty.

We trod earth and make our mark and nothing is too big in this open field of life and no hay bale is too high in our mind’s eye. Nothing can stop us or stand in our way, and if it tries we’ll give it a kick in the pants with our cute, worn-in cowgirl boot.

We stomp this ground, make it our own, and climb the mucky manure mounds to get to the ones we love, to save them, we would climb over a thousand of them, and we do our native-dance that tells the story of how our hearts are tied to this land. It rips out of us in an unbridled, involuntary way, because it’s nothing we control–it’s the way we were born. It’s where we were born.

I’ve made this land mine for the day, though it belonged to someone else, and it’s made me. It’s become apart of me, the red earth, the thick scent of it in my bones, the sunshine warm on me and it’s all I ever wanted, to run free in a field, to be one with the dust from which I come.

When it’s time to go, after Daddy’s packed up all the tools, and we’ve petted all the horses in their stalls, been brave enough to rub their soft, silky mouths, we jump back up into the truck. I ride by Daddy. You know, Father doesn’t care if little girls roll in manure, there is always a seat by Him. He stops and lets me pick out a Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich, my favorite. I feel Daddy changing the gears between my knees, moving them in rhythm, I’m anticipating the next gear change. I hear it grinding up and he pushes, clicks it into place again and now I can relax my small, bony knees.

I watch Daddy’s big, strong, calloused hands, his fingers so thick, his fingernails bruised and pieces of nail missing, and I know it’s from all the hard work, the toiling to make a way for us.

My sister licks her ice cream beside me. The hot southern summer sun beats down, the wind blows hard in the windows as we fly down the highway, and I feel like a princess next to Daddy, a cowgirl manure-princess.

Gratitude: {even when it’s hard–especially when it’s hard}

all of my family being in church together, three generations–grandparents, parents, and my family…

my mother asking me to sit with them on one long pew, though I would prefer to be unseen in the balcony, I make her happy, and it’s not that bad…

Easter dinner at my house with my family…

conversation with my Daddy about things important in life…

sunshine in the girls’ hair; I never tire of this…

Easter games in the rain made up by my creative daughter….

a rainy afternoon and egg hunt in the house, chocolate “Life” flowerpot cakes for dessert…

our beautiful grace garden and the beautiful little butterflies the girls and I made…

the tiny, miniature clothespins holding them together, reminding me of the frailty of life…

Friends, I appreciate you helping me get the word out about Concrete Words! Be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords. Please use the “Share” feature at the bottom of this post–thanks!  

What this link-up is about: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, we “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means use the prompt to write out a story, a memory, a feeling and make me feel what you felt, describe the scene around you, the textures, the emotions, the tastes, smells, the light. Tell me what you touch, see, hear…

A few simple guidelines:  1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others 
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising, or 
                                             sponsored posts 
                                         5. Consider sharing via social media to help get word out!
**Today’s prompt is the Truck


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Moon.

**Because of what I shared * here,I cannot always answer comments and visit very many blogs, but I will do my best to visit those who link up here! I would love for you to feel a sense of community when you are here, and I hope you do feel right at home–I just think–though we all search for so much interaction and approval from others, that sometimes, maybe in some seasons, sometimes very long seasons, just a quiet place is what we truly need. Just a place to reflect, pray, dream. 


I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here. I’d like you to know that when I see you here, my heart just leaps out of my chest to connect with you–to let you know I hear you! And while you leave such sweet words here, I am probably somewhere cleaning a precious 3-year-old baby girls’ messes, listening to an eleven year old playwrite’s brave words, or teaching my crew. If you are here, know you are loved, and you’re the seasonin’ in my soup. 


{This post shared with AnnJen, LauraHeather, Emily, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!) **When linking, please check out the one-word prompt first! Thanks!**