Category Archives: church infighting

Rooted in a Tangible Grace {The Conundrums of Christian Writing and Blogging:: A Series}




It’s ten o’clock in the morning and I’m still in my pajamas. (That is one part confession and two parts bragging.) There’s clean laundry on the dresser. It has been sitting there all week. I am getting used to it. I think I might actually come to like it there. Kind of a relaxed decorating scheme. The same pervasive ornamentation dons the kitchen. Except in there, it speaks to me in the language of crumbs rather than cloth. Unswept bits of last night’s bread and stew, cheerios as far as the eye can see, and an apple core in the corner – just shy of the garbage can.
I plead with you: are these not somehow beautiful … ? Ah, to cultivate the eye of the beholder.
Because “laziness” is not always what it seems. My children are sick. We have been sitting on the plump blue couch keeping each other warm in more ways than one. Fevered bodies make for workable furnaces and fuzzy blankets with satin trim bring us comfort of the lasting kind. One boy has animals on his pajamas. He is angular under the thin fabric and it hangs loose around his shoulders and chicken legs. He loves dinosaurs more than life itself, I think. He also has the longest eyelashes the world has ever seen. The Boy Who Is Made of Skin, Bones, and Eyelashes. Yep.
The other boy is his antithesis. A soft, round belly protrudes gently between the spaceship on his pajama shirt and the top of his diaper. His fingers are still dimpled and his hair crumples in every direction when he gets up in the morning from the crazy nocturnal circus this kid performs in his crib. Oh, and appearance isn’t the only way in which he resembles a teddy bear. His warm forehead pressed against my shoulder is a sensation I could get used to, but pray I never will. Because I don’t want to take these daily graces for granted. He is the one who spontaneously kisses me. Like all the time. The one with sticky lips who likes his face so close I can taste his tears. It’s not just his fever that warms me, as I said.
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Y’know, writing is not always about the big issues. Oh, I have written about them. (Some of themanyway.) And I believe there’s a place for that. But I also believe in writing as a lens. A tool. A way to practice living intentionally. Or better yet: A way to come home to our own ambivalent selves and the messy lives that ache with fever and rattle with clutter, and there see intentionally what is the holy, hidden heart of it all.
The words I tapped out above are not clever or pointed. They do not argue for a higher perspective or a deeper love. They neither deconstruct debates nor purport them. They have no side to offer, no club to join, no cause to uphold. They simply rejoice in what is. I once read that journalism is that which is devoured quickly and then disposed of, while literature is that which one returns to over and again, being filled anew each time. And without putting on airs, may I say that I know which description I’d like my words to resemble? I will read above words like these again not because I must glean information from them, but because I feel the existential truth in them. It is good for my soul to remember the way these days bump and sway and lay themselves out under my feet, so I can walk one step at a time. This is how I remember my size. And my need. I come to terms with – no, I make friends with – the limitations of my experience.
I will return to words like these because they remind me that I have not only been loved, but I have loved. And by reading of this mild interchange, I still smell the soggy Cheerios on spaceship pajamas and I taste the salt from his tears on my lips. Through these physical descriptions, I am rooted in a tangible grace that holds place for me on the darkest days. Days when I forget that love is more satisfying than being right. Days when present emptiness threatens to steal what once was. Grasping days. For the darkness obscures what I knew so securely in the light and sometimes I find hope emerge brightest by looking behind — at the having-been-ness of these moments. Which can never be taken away.
I have loved, therefore I have lived. Full stop.
I will also return to them because they remind me that life is indeed a holy experience. Even in the ordinary. Even in the necessary. Even in the ugly. Tears stand unshed, hemmed in by eyelash sentinels. Jaws set and arms sometimes cross. I’ve desecrated these most human of all places by their exile, instead of hallowing them by a full-frontal embrace. There is a tendency to divorce writing well from living well and I’m as prone to it as anyone. But present tense words written simply in the tone of observation bring me back. Their power, at least in part, is that they must be written one. at. a. time. They quietly usher in wholeness. They remind me that good writing doesn’t fragment us from our earthenware lives in these bodies, as if holiness is made of only starshine, but rather propels us back into the humdrum – to roll up our sleeves and catch snowflakes on our tongues and tickle baby toes – and to do it with open eyes.

To illuminate our blindness and wake the sleeping beholder in us all.

Kelli Woodford considers curiosity a serious expedition and is rarely satisfied with anything remotely status quo. She collects friendships with people as different as they can be and feels all the richer for it, but never experiences “home” so much as when she is with her best friend – who also happens to be her husband. They make their abode in Love, but also in the Midwest with their seven blue-eyed children. You can read more of her tantalizing words here, at her blog, where she chronicles grace in everyday life, or find her hanging out here on Twitter and Facebook.  

This is a series on writing–here are the other posts in this series:

In Which I Invite Us All to the Table

A Hand In Your Own — a guest post from Kelli Woodford

A Divided Loyalty and the Stinging Truth –a guest post from Michelle DeRusha

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For Your Weekend: A Little Madeleine L’Engle, A Little Photography, A Little Link Love

I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be… This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages…the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide… Far too many people misunderstand what *putting away childish things* means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and *be* fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.”
            ― Madeleine L’Engle

I‘ve been wondering lately, about childhood and why I write about it so much when I’m given a prompt or a 5 minute time-limit. It’s where my mind naturally goes. I’ve also been thinking about how hard writing has been lately for me, and for many I know. With all the noise, and loud voices raising to be heard above it, I wonder about still and quiet, child-like faith and wonder, happiness in simple things, and I wonder about happiness itself and how important it is to God.

I think I’ve about come to the conclusion it’s extremely important to Him.

Warmest wishes of love and happiness as you remember how to be a kid again this weekend, friends.

Need a little push?

I. dare. you.

So, run outside like a wild woman (or man) and swing with your kids, make fires out of brush and sticks and roast marshmallows and get sticky, sing songs, dance to old blues and jazz, lie in the hammock and read and smooth back their hair ’til you fall asleep, have conversations with little ones that stir wonder in them, chase them around the yard, and dare your daughter to see if she can out-run you with her long legs.

What do you think about Madeleine L’Engle’s quote? Tell me in the comments how you relate/don’t relate? Or meet me over here and let’s discuss there! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nacole-Simmons-Writer/504842422877296?ref=hl

And just to prove that I walk the walk, not just talk the talk, here ya go:

Jump-roping challenge during the Easter games my Lorna set up

The girls and I playing on the trampoline in late afternoon, us a rag-tag bunch

Me about to do some amazing award-winning gymnastics move. No, not really. 

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords is:
Ashley Larkin of Drawing Near–The Frame —this made me breathless, made me feel like I could fly–please give Ashley some lovin’ and share her post! (Remember to use the hashtag #concretewords!)
**Also, Kelli Woodford will be our guest writer for Concrete Words Monday, and our prompt is the Cup!**

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Some lovely reading & laughter for the weekend?

All the best links for me this week:

On voice in a noisy world…getting back to basics in writing..

Sarah Bessey —In Which I’ve Got A Song to Sing

Alia Hagenbach: Small grace

Ashleigh Baker– Simple Stories [An Invitation to Old-Fashioned Blogging]

Sarah Bessey —In Which (love looks like) an Unsteady Mother’s Day and an Anniversary at Wal-Mart

Seth Haines —Lyricism, Church Infighting, and The Creed–I keep coming back to this over and over…

Jennifer Camp– Waking Up–The Path to Experiencing and Creating Art–this deeply encouraged me.

At Bibledude:..
Cara Sexton– On Crumpled Bills and Broken Souls

Because we all need laughter in our lives:
Diane Bailey– The Exit Is Part of the Arrival  
Amanda Johnston Hill–Things I Tell My Six-Year-Old–have you been to Amanda’s site? If not, you should visit often. I’m in love with it. She seasons life with humor, wit, and fierce love.
This hilarious video– Pumpcast