Category Archives: chains

Join Me In Sending The Plague Back To Hell


                    #BringBackOurGirls





In the golden bright sun, cross-legged on my porch swing, I read Ann Voskamp’s post on my phone, the swing lazily drifting back and forth. The words startled me. Because I thought I would read about girls from Nigeria. 234 girls still missing. Girls that were studying in a school to become doctors and lawyers in a place where getting an education can get you killed. I thought I’d read about these brave ones, these heroes.

Instead, I saw myself in her words.

I saw myself in the words, mistreated, dismissed, misunderstood and misplaced.

Yes, that’s been me. I am that Nigerian girl. She is me. Woman.

I’ve had boys spread things about me at school, calling me a “trick”, because I didn’t know how to say no to a boy who kissed me. I had been invited to his house for a super bowl party, and I didn’t know how to say no without wounding his ego, disrespecting the generous invitation. He grabbed me before I processed how I could retreat. I was on his turf, and he knew it. This is the conundrum so many women face. We are submissive by nature and it’s taken advantage of and then we are the ones blamed.

When will this stop?

Ann talks about a four year old little girl that was taken from her home in the village, and they searched, and found her in the jungle. She had been raped, lying there, crying. I know horror stories like these.

I lived them.

I hear of these girls on the other side of the world, how they are mangled, beaten to death, raped, taken from over and over. And over again. No right to human decency. No value. They don’t know what it’s like to feel they mean something. That they are something of worth.

I was out with some girlfriends in college, having a drink, dancing. I rode with a boy who promised to take me to a friend’s house. He told me he had to stop by a friend’s of his and pick up something first. But he kept driving, and city lights began to fade. We were headed in the wrong direction. My heart pounded in my chest, then my throat. I asked over and over, as trees began to get thicker, why are you driving so far away from town? Where are we going? The night got darker, the country without city lights, and I implored, pulse hammering, Can you please turn around and take me back? We’re not doing what you said–you promised to take me to my friend’s house. 

He told me no, to be quiet, that we were almost there.

We ended up out in the middle of nowhere, in the woods. The road was long and winding, with trees so thick and tall and wild, taking us away from the interstate. He pulled up in the drive. There was a log cabin. I refused to get out. Said I would wait there until he took me to my friend’s house. He demanded I get out of the truck, pulled me inside the house, where unspeakable things were playing on the big screen television, several couples gathered around. He continued to pull me up the stairs, and I could not walk, the drink making me heavy and foggy, not really knowing what was happening. So he dragged me. To the bed.

Later I asked him, once again, to please just take me home, to my friend’s house, now. But he refused, said he was sleepy, so I had to stay the night, in the bed with my rapist. I never made it to my friend’s house until the next morning. I didn’t even have time for a shower.

I drove straight to church, in a purple dress I had packed. And I was late. My parents were furious.

I sat down in the pew, on the front row, feeling every bit like the whore he had made me into as my father began to preach his Sunday morning sermon. I felt so dirty. And I didn’t know it then, but Jesus was right beside me. Because in a room long ago? I’ve written about that day when He made himself scandalous in a room full of religious leaders by allowing a known whore to kneel at his feet, to touch his feet with her hands and with her hair, a moment so intimate it seems inappropriate, sinful even. Was this woman trying to evoke desire? But Jesus saw her. He really saw her soul when he looked in her eyes, and when she kneeled at his feet, her perfume and her hair, an offering of the truest worship. He welcomed her intimate worship fully. And it was holy and good.

I have more stories, and not all of them were just one-time, unpleasant encounters. Some of them were long-term relationships where boundaries were crossed against my will. My face was grabbed forcefully. I was coerced and used, trying to say no, but my voice wasn’t heard. It was silenced. I was caged.

I hear these stories, stories unlike mine, and yet the same– stories of women being trafficked, even in our own backyard here in America, and it makes me cringe, makes me want to turn away, makes me want to shrink back in terror.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that as civilized as we are in this day, that young girl’s and women’s bodies are still being shackled for the entertainment of men, that they are being shot for getting an education, that they are being beaten to death for finding love elsewhere when there is none at home.

The foulness of it, the stench of bodies used and bruised and mutilated– it fills my nostrils and I am disgusted and angered. I want to do something–but they are so far away. I am an American stay-at-home-wife, with very little gas in my car, and no cash in my wallet at the moment.

So the question–what can I do?

What. Can. I. Do? THAT is the question

No more excuses. No more I’m barely keeping my own head above water, so how can I help someone else? 

Because do you see? If I don’t do something, then I’m inviting it to my back door as well. I’m welcoming abuse in to be lashed out on my girls, too. Because those girls over there and around our country? They are my girls. They are your girls.

The brave, beautiful ones in dark skin, and all the colors of God’s glorious rainbow, shining all around the world, they. are. real.

Let’s not buy the lie that because they aren’t here and we can’t see them, that they aren’t real and there is nothing we can do.

That is false, straight from the Greatest Liar himself. His lies are hellish, and keep all our girls in chains.

A very wise man said this~

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ~Martin Luther King

If I sit back in comfort here and do nothing about what is going on there, then what I’m really saying? Is that it doesn’t touch me. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t move me enough to initiate action.

I’m complacent. Apathetic. The very opposite of love.

The thing is? It does touch me. This is not a problem just across expansive waters. This is not a problem we can fix by installing a well in Africa. This is not something we have figured out, because it’s in our own neighborhoods, our churches, our sporting events, the back seats of our daughters’ boyfriends’ cars, and in the alleys where young college students walk home from work.

We’d like to think we have it under control, but we haven’t gained the monopoly to a resolution for this epidemic that is turning into a landslide, because it’s. still. happening. We don’t have the patent on the solution to this problem, we haven’t commandeered this ship, because the problem is right here, all around us. It’s very close, as close as the hairs on the back of your neck when a man lets out a wolf-whistle and a snide remark as you pass him in the stair-well. And it’s also world-wide.

It’s all of us women. It’s you, it’s me, it’s Nigeria and it’s Nepal. It’s the extremist Islam countries, and it’s anywhere else we’ve been taught women are not human, that they are less-than, not equal. That they are a thing to be used, and not a soul that has eternal value. To God, that soul has so much value, it should make us quake in our shoes. But we’ve grown desensitized.

You may have heard this phrase (I have unfortunately been on the receiving end of it), a course joke, uttered in mixed circles–it goes something a little like this:

 This kind of thinking is like a dark plague, a disease that slowly, deceptively trickles in over time. You don’t notice the adverse symptoms all at once. It’s a slow decay.

This belief system is what has caused our world to be what it is: a world where women are forgotten, misused, abused, treated as trash to be taken out back.

I am a housewife, a preacher’s daughter. I have a white picket fence, and I live in a fairly safe neighborhood. I drive a nice SUV, carry pepper spray in my purse, and have conveniences at my disposal everyday. There is a policeman just about on every street corner willing to risk his life for my safety. It is a fine palace we live in, called the grand US of A. And these stories–they still happened to me. How much more, those who aren’t safe, those girls out there, living on the edge of the jungle, where government soldiers are afraid of extremist groups–how much more do they need our help?

I am only a housewife. And yet, I am so much more. I can do something. There is no end to the lasting ripple effect that will go out and out and out, if only I am brave.

I may not have much, by some standards, but let’s pull together our not-much, let’s be brave, and let’s stop this disease.

Let’s tell this plague it can go back to hell.

Let’s Bring Our Girls Home.

Linking with friends, Emily, Kelli, and Jennifer

You can go here (ß– click on the highlighted word) to give just a $5 donation to the Esther Initiative, a project that Ann is apart of to bring hope to girls and women all over the world. It is a project to empower women, something I think you’d be proud to be apart of, as am I. Isn’t this a perfect gift—right here at Mother’s Day weekend, when we’re celebrating women, and birth, and life itself? Will you give with me? I’m asking my husband to make this my gift. Let’s stand together. Let’s make our voice heard. Let’s let our sisters across the sea and right here at home hear our roar—we care and we will not stop, until this stops. We give you our yes, Father. Use me, Jesus, to sit beside someone in chains. 

What else can we do? Here is a small start: (baby steps, right?) 

1. Use this hashtag on social media–facebook and twitter. #BringBackOurGirls The story of the missing Nigerian girls wasn’t being covered until some angered women began using this hashtag on social media and making some noise. 

2. If you’re a blogger, write about it. 

3. Here is a link where you can sign the official Whitehouse petition: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/work-un-and-nigerian-government-bring-home-girls-kidnapped-boko-haram/fFcLj7s2  
 It seems the U.S. is springing into action, but the Nigerian government hasn’t shown much interest, due to the extremist groups– so this petition on the official US Whitehouse website is important. 

4. I’m considering finding a #BringBackOurGirls pic and making it my profile picture. Would you consider that, too? 

5. If you have any ideas, would you put it in the comments? Thanks! (If someone would like to make a picture for us to use for profiles, that’d be awesome. I’m no good at that!)

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When We Don’t Like What’s Reflected In Glass {An Abstraction on the Frame}

I pass by and catch a reflection of myself and don’t like what I see. I jerk head away quickly.

Others tell me I’m beautiful but I only believe it if I’m dressed up, face made-up, all my flaws hidden, or at least I think they are.

In the glass, while little ones run around and slam doors in the background, I stand on the pine floor and look. I see ragged skin, age spots, and a scarred face from too much acne in older age.

I see worry in my brow, stress in my sagging cheeks, lines that go down around my mouth.

Why don’t I see what everyone else sees? The thing is, we don’t see ourselves rightly. We are looking at ourselves with a biased opinion, with a closed mind, we’ve already judged ourselves before we even take a look in the mirror.

I walk in a room, in my jeans and cowboy boots, my blonde hair straight, and I dressed nicely, wore pearls so I would make a great first impression, but I look down, don’t engage others’ eyes, for fear of having to make conversation, extend my hand too many times. I could have stayed in my hotel room and that would have been easier.

The first thing I see upon driving up are the horses and small gated arenas at the bottom of the hill, the antiquish looking buildings that seemed fun to explore. I think of touching the horses’ silky noses, rubbing my hand along their shiny, smooth coats, standing up on the iron gate, walking around in dirt.

But I don’t get to walk down there, and the frame shifts uneasy and I can’t catch my balance. Others stand around in their nice outfits and scarves, crowded together, they talk candidly and communicate effective words that carry across short, warm wavelengths. They are socially ept, graceful. They give off vibes that make others feel comfortable around them. They laugh that I totally get you laugh. But I hold back, fearful to say much, because I’ve been accused of being too bold and forthright, too brash and opinionated, obnoxious.

When I saw myself through someone else’s lens for the first time, it was like being born backwards or being thrown into an unquenchable fire. I peeled my skin back and exposed it to freezing air.

Those years ago, I was thrown into an arena where people saw me through a negative lens. They thought their mission in God was to be sure others around them were rid of all pride.

And so I was sanded down, harshly, rubbed fiercely. I was acutely aware of myself for the first time. My face blushed a profane shade of red, and I was in the center, in the light, all hot and slithering with no way out.

I was too aware and in hell. But here I am in this new place, with new people of grace that make me see I’m someone of worth, that there is indeed something good there in my heart and they call it out,

call it real,

call it me.

I still struggle, after all these years, after all the bullying in school years, when I perceive someone is judging me or intentionally hurting me, slam goes the door of my heart. The mean side of me says they should be careful not to get their fingers caught in the door.

But then I remember grace. The frame shifts again, turns, spins, a kaleidoscope of pain and I want to be free.

And I’m ready to shirk that devil off my back.

After all, we should take into account that when others insult us or point out negative things about ourselves–as if we didn’t already know–those hurtful stings are coming from depraved, flawed people, not from God, but He uses it to weed the ugly out of our hearts, the black selfishness that we harbor there.

When the frame shifts back, off-kilter, falls off the shelf of that dark corner of my humanity, and God holds it just right, crooked, not at all the way I would have seen–

I can see what He sees–a beautiful daughter of grace. Only grace and always grace, the only thing holding me and you and this world gone awry, gone distorted.

I walk over in old jeans that fit just right, wisps of hair fall on my cheeks as I set the frame back on the shelf, my heart open to what God wants to show me next.

Okay, I’m sharing this pic for two reasons: to show you I’m brave enough to just be me, and to celebrate the launching of Emily Wierenga’s book, Mom In the Mirror, coming out today!

Gratitude {1095-1108}: for lovely spring :: blue jays and red cardinals swooping in my yard, from tree to fence and back again :: for days in the sun with my girls :: for moments they remind me to be a kid again :: my sister and her friend coming to visit from Colorado :: having a beautiful, clean, shiny home :: speckles and sloshes of paint smattered across the floor :: buckets of mop water :: rugs fresh out of the washer :: sunlight in my little’s hair :: spending time with sister and her friend, drinking beers and eating homemade salsa :: a fun evening with family at a restaurant for my birthday :: a glorious mother’s day with a 2 hour long nap

“Brave” photo courtesy of Jennifer Camp {Thanks, friend!!} {This post shared with Ann, Laura, Michelle, Jen Heather for the EO, Emily for A Love Dare

 *************

***Dear readers, I had a conversation with the ever-sweet Amber Haines, and her handing over Concrete Words to me is meant to be a permanent deal. sixinthesticks will now be it’s home for good. Amber has a lot of commitments and will no longer be doing it on her blog. She has asked me to take it and run with it, change it up, make it my own. I hope those of you who have been with Amber the whole time will be along for this wild, fun ride! I’ve never had so much fun with writing!! ***


What this link-up is about: 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. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too. When you share this post on twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords.

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 Frame

Next week, our Concrete Words Guest Writer is Kelli Woodford and the prompt is The Cup.{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!}


An Abstraction on the Chain {Fear Day 22}




We were arguing late at night, standing there on cold wood floors, moonlight streaming in, and all I want is to touch his face, for him to trace the lines of mine, and for us to hold each other close in our big four-poster bed with the windows all around, and I said some awful things. Love can make you do the truly abhorrent when you’re lonely.

I said the “H” word–that four letter one that lets him know how I feel. I wounded and scarred up our home, the sacred, the holy. “I hate that you are so distant, that you never touch me, if you want to know the truth, I hate you when you make me feel this way!”

I wrecked everything, hurt him in my thirst for more. So we go to bed holding one another and when I turn over, the chain pulls him toward me and he scoots in close. I wake and touch feet to shiny pine, shuffle out of my bedroom in yoga pants and black flip-flops, feeling rested and slightly askew, step around a little pile of trash someone forgot to discard, and first thing I go and make sprite for my baby, hug my eldest who has been sick in the night.

She looks at me, her all spindly and hair disheveled and curled in fractured sunlight bouncing off, and I see pain in her eyes, and I wonder how much of the argument she heard on her end of the house. With all my babies’ stomachs churning for the past week and running back and forth to the toilet even in black quiet when I can’t hear, I pray it stops somehow. That this would be the end of this torment.

Depression has been hanging over me, a buzzard circling overhead, waiting for the right moment, that moment when life ceases.

I see the chains that bind. I see all the fears that keep me captive, make me a lunatic starving mad for affection in the middle of the night.

I’m linked, soul-bound to this man I said “Yes” to when he whispered in my ear so softly, as we both leaned in close, so unsure, right there on my parents’ couch, “Will you marry me?”‘ Just a quiet hush, nothing more, almost a question, him needing my response to fully form his asking and let it hang free in the air.

I see that I’m afraid of losing him. I’m afraid he’ll go so far away that he’ll never return.

It can feel like that–when a man is distant, like he actually left physically. I ache and groan and grieve and misery spews out of my mouth in words that should never be uttered.

And there is only one way I know to put an end to all things vile. And that’s what I do first thing, what the misery pushes me toward, and like an old song being played I know the steps to, I get out my bible and read a whole psalm.

I read through the first several verses alone and then I open right up, let breath flow out of me, and read the entirety of God’s goodness to them. They fall back to sleep, all my sick littles, while I herald the good news. They are lulled by His grace and peace, settling down over them, covering, a down comforter, weighted and weightless.

I feel satiated and I know this is how to break the chains that have made me a prisoner and I’m a prisoner of my own making. I have chosen in my hurt to not forgive. I have forgotten to look up always, and every morning when I’m ravenous, to the One who satisfies, but especially during times of distance, of pain and suffering.

I feel it right there–how my spirit babe within grows strong at the nourishing breast of the Word. It’s like a huge, tiny miracle right there on our old soft, beige couch in morning light spilling in through high, cathedral-like windows, and I’m offering my prayer, my confession right there, His body taken in my mouth.

I go ’round doling out little medicine cups of Sprite and Pedialyte, lovingly slapping cold rags on heads, tucking blankets firmly around aching bodies, kissing foreheads and hot cheeks, just prayin’ I don’t contract another round of it, and slathering Vaseline thick on cracking lips that whisper could they just have water? And I give my running-around-the-house two year old who is all better a big kiss on her baby-squishy soft cheek, just begs me nuzzle in close.

I look out the window and see them there, large black birds littering the yard, their thick, gangly red necks pecking at my children’s toys, wings beating loud, fighting for territory. I frown at their hunkering, and I don’t know why they are there, like they’re just waiting for death.

I’m not sure if it’s our illness, this misery, this decaying of life–of love–they sense, but I prance outside like a woman with fight in me and a broom and I shew those vultures away. It feels a little silly at first, but at my voice, they immediately beat away, all this blackness fleeing in morning light through the maples, and I feel loosed.

I see how powerful my voice is, how I can call on Jesus for us, for my own depravity. I swallow down the huge, tiny miracle that God has sustained me and when he walks in the door, I won’t resent him. I will love him.

Whoa, sharing all of this, with quaking and trembling, asking God to undo these chains, loosen these fears in the confession…        
**This post shared with Husband’s permission, and I hope you will join me, friends, as I continue to write on marriage this week. God is leading my heart there, whispering to me, wooing me….

Still counting gifts in gratitude to my Father… {1,020-1036}.. This is good for the soul, no?

For fears relieved, for Lilly trying so hard to say a word for me, how her voice sounds so tiny, for all of us being so sick and getting the rest we need, for making up in the night, for snuggling, the way they all gather and lay on me when I lie down, how good it feels to nurture their little hearts, for Ivy cleaning my bedroom and laundry room without being asked just to cheer me up, for a break from routine and just long rest, watching movies together, cuddling, folding clothes, for Husband bringing home chicken noodle soup, sprite, and crackers for days in a row, for all of us learning to take care of one another, for God’s freedom, for the power He’s placed within and knowing I can access it–call upon Jesus’ name…

Linking with Amber, Ann, EmilyLaura, Jen, LL, and Heather for Just Write

Also linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear– of him leaving, of marriage not turning out quite like you thought? Of this love not playing out, not feeling the way you imagined it should feel, not fulfilling you the way you imagined it would? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these fears in your marriage? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


This is one post in a series of 31 days of Fear. You can find the entire 31 Day collective here. {I’ve jumped from Day 12 to Day 22 because I want to finish this series at the end of the month & this gal started late}

I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far.

I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me?   

Some other 31 Day collectives I’m loving: Shelly @ Redemptions BeautyAmber Haines , and Lisa-Jo

When You Fear The Ember Going Out: A Love Letter {Day 13}

On Fridays, I join the community with Lisa-Jo Baker and write for five minutes with a one-word prompt, without editing, backtracking, or over-thinking. It’s so freeing to write like I’m soaring! Here goes…

GO.

                                                                                                 

Look at me, Lover.
Naked before you, I have no pretenses.
My hair, matted from not brushing
You are the only one who sees me in all my imperfect glory
Look at me, longingly
Look at me and see me loving you so fiercely
It hurts
Dive into my eyes and enter into my soul
Feel the fire that burns there for you
Look at me and see the ember burning,
waving it’s slow dance in the cold night
Fan the flames, Lover, and make them blaze
Higher, ever higher, hotter until it’s all consuming
Look at me, unclothed before you,
not one strip of pride left
Not one patch of selfishness covering me
I’ve undone it all for you
Free-fall into me, Lover,
and learn of the joy and ecstasy that
waits for you there in my bosom
Cling to me, Lover, for dear life
Look at me, Lover, and let’s not forget
how it felt when we first found one another,
that first time we clung in the night
to never let go

                                                                                                     photo credit


STOP.

Today’s one-word prompt was LOOK.

Writing like this is so freeing, friend! Would you like to join the writing flash mob? Follow this link to Lisa-Jo’s…

Five Minute Friday

 

Also linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear– of the love not being there, of the ember fading? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these fears in your marriage? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


This is one post in a series of 31 days of Fear. You can find the entire 31 Day collective here. {I’ve jumped from Day 12 to Day 22 because I want to finish this series at the end of the month & this gal started late}

I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far.

I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me?   

Some other 31 Day collectives I’m loving: Shelly @ Redemptions BeautyAmber Haines , and Lisa-Jo

On Voice And Fear of Being Uniquely Me {Day 7}

Photo credit

“It’s harder than you think. It’s not enough to be good. You have to be great…You’d better love it. (Otherwise, quit now.)”–Jeff Goins, writer

This world moves a little too fast for me–blogging, writing, tweeting–it all seems to blur straight past me, and I’m a straggler, weary to keep up.

Every day there are more stories that are important to read, tweeted writing advice I should pay attention to. I open them so I don’t forget and they never get read.

I wonder, amongst so much good advice, so much rich story-telling, so many beautiful voices on the web and in great books, what IS my voice? How do I find this elusive thing?

If I find it, does it have a place amongst such beauty, depth, richness, and efficiency moving forward, me left standing in the wake of all that momentum?

I read this on Amber Haine’s site and it left me reeling a little. Thank God for writers like Amber, who really write what we’re all thinking. Stories are great, and must be told, must be written, handed down. I believe in this.

But telling the truth? This is priceless,

and I’m a just-starting-out-writer who is so grateful for people like her, who make me pause, make me ponder and reflect, draw up out of me what’s really clawing at the surface, fighting to get out. The problem is that I keep stuffing it back down.

But that voice that keeps asking me what is your voice, Nacole? Where is it? 

That voice is very important, and it just may be that it’s the very voice I’m looking for—the one I’ve been stuffing down, shoving a sock in, telling it to hush so I can do this grown-up business.

The whole time I’ve been on this quest to find my voice–even when I wasn’t aware that’s what I was doing–and all along, that holy grail, has been trying to claw it’s way out of an early grave, buried alive.

I’ve been squelching it out of fear. How much of what God created me to be have I silenced and buried deep because I was afraid to be me, out loud, with no apologies?

I’m thinking about voice, as seasons change and things are hard for me, and I sometimes feel I’ve committed to too much, and I stand braced against the gale winds–

and I think, maybe voice is about just that–maybe it’s letting go of the fear and inviting whatever will come, maybe it’s not being willing to change who I am for anybody, not a jot or a tittle.

Maybe it’s just being uniquely me. Here is where I choose to take the road less traveled by and I let go of my fear of being “me” all wrong.

There is no right or wrong way of being me, because God created me the only one.

What freedom.

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear of being uniquely you, friend? Does it hold you hostage? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


Some other 31 Day collectives I’m loving: Shelly @ Redemptions BeautyAmber Haines , and Lisa-Jo


This is one post in a series of 31 days of Fear. You can find the entire 31 Day collective here.  I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far.

Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me?   







Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer Lee. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to my friend, Jennifer’s site for a GIVEAWAY!You can enter until the 14th! Her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

When You Miss Him & Fear of Religious Forms {Day 6}

My pen stalls and it’s stuck to the page, doesn’t want to let any words go. That pen, so stubborn, tattle-telling on my heart.

How does one write about how to have joy in the everyday when joy is so obviously elusive?

Maybe it’s been my heart that has been neglectful of what’s important–resentful of that “great secret” of Christians?

It is easy to avoid the truth and resent reality and so hard to face the stark consequences of every second, every minute, every day. My sin flavors every moment that ticks on that clock, mocking me. 

All I see on those hands are chains that bind, moments wasted, fretted away, moments squelched by my yelling, or my complacency, my apathy, my selfishness, my ingratitude. And there are more ways than one to quench the Holy Spirit.

I always wondered as a child, what does “quenching” mean? What am I doing to the Holy Spirit when I argue with my sister, disobey my parents, talk in church, don’t raise my hands and worship? Not take Him seriously enough? Am I ringing Him out, squeezing Him, hurting Him, making him sad?

As an adult, I get more curious and less assuming that what others tell me is correct.

I look up the meaning, and I find out that “quench” means to put out the light or fire of, to cool suddenly by immersion, to bring to an end, to decrease.

I ponder on this as I wipe tables, and I tell girls to make home clean and good-smelling for Daddy and then when he walks in the door, suddenly I am this sinful wretch, and I disrespect him with my tone when I don’t like his words.

In an unexpected turn, my blind eyes are opened, and I know no home that holds the heavy stench of hateful words can be made good-smelling by candles. 

No amount of Better Home will change this fact, either.

And when children’s hearts nurture their mother’s bad habits of disrespecting their father, in tone, in words, or just in a look– their bodies having been nourished with only healthy, organic foods holds no water.

And when a heart is tarnished with rebellion, no home can shine joy no matter how back-breakingly polished the old floors. 

Really–what good does it do for me to tell my children to make home cheerful and comfortable for Daddy when they see me tear down my home? 

What good is all my polishing, all my scrubbing, all my generosity for guests–if the smile is weakly and fragilely affixed, the one Anchor not holding me, because my gaze is not affixed on Him.

A smile can break so easily and a moment of laughter in this home can be fine china in the pounding wake of my destructive ingratitude. 

And I want to cup it so carefully, and the tighter I try to grasp at it, hoping to save it, it crumbles there like ashes in an unquenchable fire of negativity.

And I’ve learned that quenching the Holy Spirit of God has less to do with whether or not I raise my hands in worship, whether that man steps outside the service for a cigarette, that woman taps on her cell during preaching, or whether I can bring myself to the altar.

It has much less to do with religious forms and much, more to do with the everyday, more with my heart moment by moment.

I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is doing his work in that man’s heart who is holding the cigarette, and He is speaking to the woman’s heart who is holding the cell, though I can’t hear the holy conversation, and I bear more fruit when I am quiet in worship than when I am distracted by a form. 

One thing I’ve learned through a life-time of being in church, is that it’s possible the man who steps outside the service? It’s possible he has more humility than the man inside, praying ’til he’s the last in the building.

It’s why Jesus said it’s hard for the rich to enter heaven–they have no need of it. And when we rely on religious forms, and we think we have it all together, and we believe our prayers inside are better than the man’s outside, well, we are like the rich man who doesn’t need God. 

We think we know God, but we’re working with a hologram, a phantom, and don’t even realize it.

And I’ve come to resent religious forms, “how-to” books, 10 step devotionals–I want only real, only face-plant, I can’t do this without you God, I don’t need 10 steps–

I just need you, a holy God to come near.

And in my resenting, hard-heart ways? God has brought me full-circle.

Quenching the Holy Spirit is about every second, every minute, every hour and every day in the small things. It’s when I make this hallowed ground hell for my family. It’s when I yell at them and then smile for the guests driving up in the yard. It’s when I neglect the sacred moments of snuggling and reading in the dark for the computer. It’s when I isolate, fetal-position curled-up, and I lock myself away, and my family is begging me to come out, chubby hands reaching up, just needing so much love.

And it’s hard to let go of this fear of religious forms, and make this sacred time with God–learn how to get back to joy– but when I learn to reach out, how to let go of all my fears of being used-up and slain, and I lie down and read that book with them instead of something I want to do and it’s when I let go of my fear of religious forms and sing worship, hands in warms suds, it’s when I have gratitude for this moment and I break free in laughter about the baby climbing up and chomping down half a bag of marsh-mellows, that I let the Holy Spirit blaze ’round here.

And when I don’t let worship be tainted–worship I’ve witnessed being made profane–this freedom of me and God walking, Him whispering to me that I’m Beloved, it takes over in absolute joy.

I watch her, little feet pounding across pine floors, so much sunshine in her hair, and through this lens of gratitude, who couldn’t see joy?

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Also linking with: Ann , Jennifer, & Duane

Do you struggle with fear of religious forms, friend? Does it hold you hostage–keep you from an intimate relationship with Him? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…



This is Day 6 of 31 days of Fear. Since I started my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here 









Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

Something For Your Soul and Social Fears {Day 5}

No “writing” post today, friends, as I do a CC meeting to prepare for the next six weeks, and take my baby to speech therapy. I’m leaving you with something good for the soul below. Be sure to check this out.

I’ve been thinking about fears connected with social pressure, around my CC meeting that was held here at my home today. How we want to perform well, how we are scared to death to not have it all together in front of everyone.

I’m thinking of how we dress everything up–dishes sparkling, floors shiny as a penny, candles burning sweet smells, how we stop off at a road-side pumpkin stand for beautiful white pumpkins and lavender mums to decorate the porch. Mums and pumpkins are something I do every year because they make my soul feel warm in the face of the inevitable cold coming.

 But I’m thinking of how we spin and everything’s a blur as we dash outside to make porch presentable for guests, slam the door shut on the laundry, and yell at our kids a bit as our emotional state unravels and people we don’t know very well creak up the gravel drive….

 I will definitely be writing on this fear of mine later. I will need to give this fear a name.

 For now, something for your soul…something my friend, Emily posted on Facebook. What I’ve been listening to ’round here this week… {You may have to click the link on the screen to listen on Youtube–really, just listen. Gorgeous…..}

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear, friend? Does it hold you hostage? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…



This is Day 5 of 31 days of Fear. Since I started my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here 









Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

When You Are The Wayward Child {Fear Of Judgement–Day4}

I am the wayward child. I’ve been more the prodigal than the good, obedient one. I still dream of that cigarette, years after putting them down. I drink a glass of wine in the evenings, something some church members would frown upon. I’m not good at prayer, although for many disillusioned years I ardently tried to work it out on my knees, for hours at a time.

I love rock and hip-hop, which makes me an immature Christian at best, on a pathway for hell at worst–I know, because I listened as a child to preachers spew it as they yelled, so much angst inside, so much fear. I was raised by parents who thought that way too. But they feel differently now. They see grace, I think.

All of those things–the type of music I like, my lack of ability to pray well–those are just outward things, mere technicalities that don’t really matter.

God is concerned about my heart.

And my heart has been wayward. It so easily strays, looks in the trash for food, instead of dining at the Master’s table. I’m a lost child, calloused and dirty from surviving these mean streets. 



I peer in, watch through glass windows, wishing I was welcomed out of the cold, into the warmth. But at every turn, it seems I’m met with cold pity and disdain for my dirty ragedness. No one wants to sit with me, dine with me as Jesus did with sinners.

Jesus reclined at the tables of the thief and the pharisee, those so unworthy–he was at home with sinners. 

And how thankful I am for that–because this body of death betrays His spirit within, and I am a wretch. There were times I wanted to die, yet He has made me alive–alive to Him. I cling to Him, the only thing that saves, not my Sunday dress, or my attendance, or even my lack of drink or bars visited.

And he let her wash his feet with expensive perfume, such an intimate act–the despised one, the dirty, filthy whore, the one no one wanted to touch, unless he was an unrighteous man, a man rejected, a man condemned, although Jesus said they had the same sinful thoughts, just by looking at her.

And I, this lost child that can never seem to get it right–I think I understand her just a little.

I wonder if they realize we’re all just beggars at his table? The ones that judge and condemn–do they really know? The ones that look down from their lofty statuses and talk of never having had a drop their whole life–if they believe it’s true–what they preach–why don’t they live it?

The ones that in their Sunday suits, scoff at those “new, immature” Christians who don’t know any better and go into the bars to minister to those who need Jesus? Do they know Jesus when they scoff at something Jesus himself would have done?

Wasn’t Jesus always trying to teach his disciples to exactly mirror him?

They sneer in holy indignation, he will just be dragged down into sin with the rest of themhe hasn’t experienced true Christianity–he’s on a road to hell by going into those joints.

I submit that when we go to those places Jesus himself would have gone, and we touch the dirty and the unforgiven, the prodigals and the railing-against-God-ones, that is when we are close enough to know His holy breath.

I’ve really just ceased having the ability to pretend, pretend that I’m a loving, humble Christian who doesn’t drink and doesn’t ever yell at her kids, and only, and always wears the right-length dress to church.

The great thing about knowing I’m a prodigal, just a beggar at his table? I get to be the one closest to God’s heart, the one he calls a party for, the one he cloaks in his robe, the one to receive his ring and his favor, his embrace. 

And though I’ve squandered the inheritance, he looks at me through eyes of grace, laughs a deep, fatherly laugh at my child-confusion, and tells me Child, you can’t squander it because it never runs out.

And, ah, I break and the wild, raging rivers of self-hatred and self-doubt and condemnation all damned-up breaks free and His grace works, because I never, ever want to disappoint my Father. I want to always, always be in His embrace, here at his table.

We are all–thieves, beggars, whores, pharisees, and agoraphobic moms who shut themselves up in their rooms–we’re all just prodigals trying to find our way home. We’ve only to realize it and embrace it, to let go of our fears and stop judging.

Let’s not cast any stone. Let us help walk one another home.

Gratitude: {#997-1006}

Celebrating 1,000 gifts–I never thought I would finish the race, but I have done it, and don’t plan on ever stopping giving thanks–it helps me rightly see!!!

I’m grateful for a Father that takes me over and over, for campfires outside with my kids and husband, for warm Ghiardelli hot cocoa, for smores melted over a fire, for beautiful pumpkins and mums, for butternut squash baked with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, for cool nights that mean cuddling, for my baby saying some new words–hallelujah!

Watch this video and worship with me, friend or Click here to watch on Youtube 

Linking with sweet Ann and beautiful others…
Ann, Emily , Laura, Jen, & Michelle.

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear of judgement, friend? Does it hold you hostage? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


This is Day 3 of 31 days of Fear. Since I’m starting my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here <—hover with mouse to highlight and click 






Friends, If you would so kindly click here and go over to my friend, Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

Fear of Commitment and Guatemala {31 Days of Fear–Day 3}

Almost exactly a year ago, I said I want to do something with this grace given me, that my only right response to the suffering on that sacred tree is to reach out, not only vertically, but horizontally.

I have also asked God why do we keep being up-rooted, and why do we want to run from steely sharp steeples, but want to run into the arms of God and homeless people and little children–orphans who just need someone to hold them, them sitting all alone, no human hand to ever contact them?

So why am I still sitting here?

I want to confront fears of failure head on, the fear that I will not really be able to make a difference. I want to confront the fear of commitment–what will happen if I step out and commit myself to something, when I already feel so burdened with my own family, and my body feels weak.

I want to confront the fears born of selfishness that scream what if your husband’s hours are cut again like they were before and you six were barely able to eat and pay the house mortgage? Remember that–what that felt like? Remember when you were humiliated when others brought food because they knew you were doing without? You don’t want to ever go through that again. Never. Satan whispers death-blows, tickles my ear with his fork-tongue, coaxes me into languor and dormancy. I will face these fears.

I don’t want to continue doing nothing.

So I will do something.

And I still want to go, to be his hands and feet. I long to be poured out. But God has revealed just a small part of His will for me–that He has me here, pouring out to these, my children, and He wants me joy-filled in that. Yet, this desire stirs deep, deep within my soul. And I know, eventually, I will answer it. I do not know when–only God knows.

My friend, Michele at A Life Surrendered, has said some of the same things, has wrestled with this growing, aching need to go and be the hands of feet of Jesus. You can read about some of her questions and prayers, her groanings and worship to God, her experience in Guatemala, here at her blog.

I wanted to share this video so that you can see where she went, under a burden to minister to the sick, to feed the hungry. This video is beautiful and heartbreaking and achingly redemptive. This is something I believe in and will be giving to–Hope of Life, who works with World Help–the financial need to continue to rescue and nurture these children back to life is great–but each little bit we share and give helps a child survive. I hope you’ll visit Michele’s page here and consider giving.

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with this kind of fear, friend? What has God whispered to your heart about it? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


This is Day 3 of 31 days of Fear. Since I’m starting my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here <—hover with mouse to highlight and click 

This post also linked with:

What Are You Running From? {31 Days of Fear–Day 1}

I soar down the wooded trail, sand, wet dirt and gravel beneath rubber-shod feet, leaves barely canopying green above me and I wipe skin-itching rain from my cheek, and see water gun-slinging outward from arms in motion at my side and I’m amazed that this is me beating the dirt and gravel in the ground and this is my sweat, rain, hard-won tears and blood running together, being flung off. I smell her–earth, all fresh and alive, just the way she was made to be.

She had asked it, my friend who knows me better than she should, “What are you running FROM, Nacole?”

Why do I run along the trails and the hills, struggling for air? To. just. breathe?

I throw myself against the elements–run the entire four and a half miles in the pouring rain, leap over protruding roots that stand in my way, daring me to try them, and when I sail past, my heart swells and I smile on the inside–what is that all about? Why does this adrenaline surge beckon to me?

What am I running from?

Fear.

Fear of  not being good enough, not measuring up, fear of sinking back into that dark black hole of depression, the depths from which I’m afraid no one will be able to pull me.

Fear of being fat because old habits die hard, and yes, I’m running from the fear self-loathing brings, from the fear of feeling like a failure and from defeat, from just barely being able to make it through the dailies, from not being able to hold onto relationships dear to me and seeing them slip through my fingertips like all this sand.

I’m running from the fear that I’m different, that I’m the only me, and there is no manual–no one left instructions on how to be me–and I wonder if I’ll do it all wrong, that I’ll lie on my deathbed wishing it’d all been different and I could go back. And what I know now is that then I won’t be able to and I only get one chance to not screw it up.

Yes, running from the fear of my genes, what’s in the DNA that I can’t control–this fragile, passionate nature easily provoked, this timid yet fiercely loving heart, this hippy free spirit with the inability to follow a clock, this illness that has gripped–my father said my grandmother had all that too.

And I run from the fear of the religious types who try to wrestle me into a box. Just like they tried to wrestle Jesus into a box, but he wasn’t having it. He knew His purpose. I think I’m finally finding mine.

I pant harder and my quads kick into high gear as I run-climb the monstrous grainy hill on my toes. The rain pounds my face, and I lean into it, thrust myself forward, grimace and climb and work through the pain. Quads pulling, exerting, muscles flexing, toe, toe, toe, on my toes as earth and gravel rolls and groans underneath.

This is me saying to the pelting rain, you’ll not bend and break my bow today–I’ll fight with my last breath and I rather enjoy the feel of you on my face, because God has ushered you forth and destined you to take your best shot. So take it. Because in the midst of the relentless, beating storm when I’m weakest, He will cause His spirit in me to rise up strong and conquer you.

Fear.

And I figured out that, yes, I may be running from something, but more than that–I’m running toward something. Maybe He knew it would be that way all along.

What am I running toward? Not the Jesus inside the box, the one they fancy dress all up.

No, I’m running toward the real one, the Jesus outside the box.

                                                                              *Edited re-post from archives


…I feel Him speaking to me gently, Come away with me.. this is the whole album live…listen to the first song or just leave
it on play while you write or clean house… ~smile~

Do you struggle with fear? Have things you run from? How does God heal you, console you, shephard you? I’d love for you to share your answers and thoughts below, friends… I hope you’ll also be along for this adventurous ride–I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here.

                                                                                         
Only a few days late, I’ve decided to do 31 days–this is my second time ever doing this. Since I’m starting my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here<—hover with mouse to highlight and click 




Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…