Category Archives: community

True Worship & Fearing Change: An Abstraction on Table {Day 12}

An abstraction on a Table: A prompt by Amber Haines….

Beautiful wood that is so old, it’s called antique, which sounds such fragile a word. Of course, its purpose was a place to serve meals, but to a kid, it can be a fort, a castle, or the carpet underneath a forest floor, legs rising tall as trees. All of us grandchildren used to play under its delicately routed and carved legs and underbelly.

It cast such dark shadows that hid me and no one could find me. Underneath there, I was a queen or a damsel in distress, tracing the curved lines and crevices in hopes of escape from my soft-carpeted prison.

From underneath my hiding place, I could spot, just dimly lit in soft, heavy-curtained afternoon light up on the buffet table, the old iridescent blue set of bowls, one holding old-fashioned candies of all flavors. Absolutely fascinating and irresistible to a child. It was my sole mission to play underneath the table long enough so that my Granny wouldn’t notice when I snuck quickly out, tip-toed to the blue bowl to grab a candy.

All of the precious memories of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Sunday dinners were made here.

The best memories were the Sundays when Granny had Chicken and Dumplins or blackberry cobbler waiting on me, my favorites.

Years and years later, after this little girl had grown up, the table became a sort of gift from my grandparents, who had no place to put it in their new apartment.

They had given up their home to a son, and it was eventually sold, a sad time for us all as the memories went with it.

Now the table sits in my high-ceilinged home, not on carpet, but on old, brightly polished pine floors. It’s a deep mahogany and makes the mood dark. It needs a fresh coat of white paint, slapped on heavy and thick with love, which would make the whole room lovely.

Then some of those grooves, crevices, the caving-in places I tried to escape as a child will fade into the background, and the past will be the past.

But then I worry about change–it’s been the way it is for so long. My heart stops a bit to think of the eternal consequence of marring such a priceless item with paint.

Now, where it sits, it’s a place of gathering, it seems to magnetically draw us all together.

No matter the chaos going on around the home– paper cut-outs being thrown awry, sisters chasing one another–screaming, me fussing at a daughter to just finish the sweeping already, and oh my aching head–when we all sit down at the table, candles lit, and we slide into our familiar places, something just feels right and it’s home.

It feels familiar and yet uncomfortable as children begin to bang, and to argue and to wail, to complain about the food.

High-pitched yelling and wailing is like nails on the chalkboard of my nerves. The banging and the water glass knocking over is more than I can handle. I shift in my seat, look for a way out, want to escape.

But here, in this familiar safe place, we all do the necessary thing. We gather. We are community. Every day, no matter what. We need the safe rhythm, the consistency.

Husband prays for us to love one another better as we hold hands, and this convicts me.

And these, these children and this husband around my table, they are my people, my church.

We are the body broken, and we worship with quieted spirits that want to bolt, and we do the hard work of staying.

We raise glasses to mouths and swallow down water and offer words of love where there has been grating of nerves and this is our true worship.

Linking up with Amber

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 change, or fear of the everyday change, the always fluid problems that come our way, like wailing and arguing at the supper table? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these anxieties? 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 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

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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!

On Awakening To Where Church Is

 

In the Deep South on a Sunday morning, Husband and I sitting on porch swing drinking coffee and resting on the Sabbath the best way we know how, the black gentleman neighbor across the street brings something right up to the picket fence. I can tell by his posture he has come over on a mission.


He never goes to church when his son and wife pull out the drive–he stays behind. And on this day, he has spotted us out on the porch.


My husband goes out to meet him, and Mr. Joseph*, smoking his cigar on this fine Sunday morning, he hands a bag of fish over the fence to my husband, and I can hear him telling of the trip and how he caught them.


He doesn’t do it because he thinks we need the food, or because we are poor, or because the church said to get out and knock on doors–he just does it because it’s what’s in his heart.


Just like a couple of weeks before, when his son showed up on our front step with fresh vegetables from the garden, a big sweet grin on his angel-boy face. I know his sweet mama had plenty of family she could have given that fresh summer bounty to, and for some reason, she chose to share it with us.


From my spot on the lazy swing, in mid-July sweltering Mississippi heat–heat so thick and heavy it makes your throat close up and your lungs just pure forget how to work–I can see him waving his cigar and his booming voice talking of all of us going down to the lake together some time to let the kids fish. We can use his boat, he says. Why he came over on a Sunday morning out of the blue to say all of this, I really don’t know. It’s always hard for us humans to believe that someone may just want to be friendly, no strings attached. Life teaches us to be hard.

My mind goes back to a few weeks before that, when the girls and I walked over in the middle of the day just to show them our new kitten, because we know they love kittens and they know we’ve been looking for one for the girls for a couple of years. When I walked across the yard up to where Mr. Joseph was working on a load he had brought home, he looked up at me and eyes wide as saucers, jumped and let out a foul word. He apologized profusely, of course, and kept telling me he thought I was a ghost suddenly upon him. I said to him, well, I am white enough to be a ghost, ain’t I? We had a good laugh about that.

None of us have really talked much, except the time my husband borrowed a post hole digger, and the time that we had no phone and no heat and I went over to ask to use the phone in the cold–and Mrs. Violeta* said Come over and stand in front of my heater and get warm anytime, baby–and then the time we stopped by on Christmas Eve to bring a warm loaf of pumpkin bread wrapped up with love.

Mr. Joseph is still waving that cigar around and talking up a storm, and my husband just keeps nodding, yes sir, and his voice carrying over on the breeze, going on and on about lakes and the best times to fish, it’s like he’s making up for lost time, right there at our picket fence on the Sabbath.

Maybe he is all the church we needed today, because it is where two or three are, and church can be had over a picket fence. Many in the church would never grace my picket fence–I invited and they wouldn’t come, many would never walk over uninvited just to say hello–but they will bang on my door if I don’t attend service, many would never bring food just because–but they will put me on the list to receive help from the food bank, and they would hardly laugh with me right in the yard over a foul word slipped–because Christians don’t laugh, especially about things such as accidental curse words.

And when I was the one in the throes of deep depression and illness, I felt like a leper no one would come near–when I was the “least of these”, where was Jesus with skin on? Where was the church?

And it just hits me so severely and stuns with it’s power of revelation, right there with beads of perspiration forming, that Mr. Joseph–
maybe he is Jesus to us today.
                            

                                                                 *names changed to protect people in the story                                                                             edited re-post from archives 

                                                                              
This post linked up with She Loves Magazine’s Awake: A Synchroblog.

Spread Wide {Five Minute Friday}

Around here on Friday, I try to play along with the Five Minute Friday group at Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog. We let our words fly out of the cage and soar–just for five minutes, without fear of what flies out of hearts through fingertips onto keyboards, no editing, no back-tracking. no worrying if it’s perfect, just from a one-word prompt. Come play along too? Here we gooo……

GO.

She wanders out to soak in the sun beneath an oak,
in the dappled light that traces her skin and makes her feel alive.
She notices the Spider Lilly, just one lone lilly in all it’s beauty
and splendor, tall and strong, defiant right there in the open
It screams red color and life and it’s independence to her
And she knows she’s like the flower, too.
She knows she’s been one lone reed,
She knows she’s even been defiant in her aloneness
Unwilling to break, to bend, to meld into their box,
to cower in their corners they try to back her into.
She knows the rejection the flower must feel
But she looks again and sees how the lilly opens wide
to the air, the breeze, the sun and God above.
She notices it’s spreading and taking in, it’s unfolding
and yes, even it’s love, it’s giving
Shining it’s beauty so brilliant, just there for others to behold
And she knows that like the flower, she must find her way to spread
wide and give and receive.

STOP.

{This week’s prompt was wide}.

Would you like to come play along, to write words and release them from their prison, let them soar? Sheer JOY!!

Five Minute Friday

On Where Church Is {And Gratitude in Pictures}

 




In the Deep South on a Sunday morning, Husband and I sitting on porch swing drinking coffee and resting on the Sabbath the best way we know how, the black gentleman neighbor across the street brings something right up to the picket fence. I can tell by his posture he has come over on a mission.

He never goes to church when his son and wife pull out the drive–he stays behind. And on this day, he has spotted us out on the porch.

My husband goes out to meet him, and Mr. James, smoking his cigar on this fine Sunday morning, he hands a bag of fish over the fence to my husband, and I can hear him telling of the trip and how he caught them.

He doesn’t do it because he thinks we need the food, or because we are poor, or because the church said to get out and knock on doors–he just does it because it’s what’s in his heart.

Just like a couple of weeks before, when his son showed up on our front step with fresh vegetables from the garden, a big sweet grin on his angel-boy face. I know his sweet mama had plenty of family she could have given that fresh summer bounty to, and for some reason, she chose to share it with us.

From my spot on the lazy swing, in mid-July sweltering Mississippi heat–heat so thick and heavy it makes your throat close up and your lungs just pure forget how to work–I can see him waving his cigar and his booming voice talking of all of us going down to the lake together some time to let the kids fish. We can use his boat, he says. Why he came over on a Sunday morning out of the blue to say all of this, I really don’t know. It’s always hard for us humans to believe that someone may just want to be friendly, no strings attached. Life teaches us to be hard.

My mind goes back to a few weeks before that, when the girls and I walked over in the middle of the day just to show them our new kitten, because we know they love kittens and they know we’ve been looking for one for the girls for a couple of years. When I walked across the yard up to where Mr. James was working on a load he had brought home, he looked up at me and eyes wide as saucers, jumped and let out a foul word. He apologized profusely, of course, and kept telling me he thought I was a ghost suddenly upon him. One minute I wasn’t there, and the next I was right up on him, he said. I said to him, well, I am white enough to be a ghost, aren’t I? We had a good laugh about that.

They haven’t talked much, except the time my husband borrowed a post hole digger, and the time that we had no phone and no heat and I went over to ask to use the phone in the cold–and Mrs. Viola said Come over and stand in front of my heater and get warm anytime, baby–and then the time we stopped by on Christmas Eve to bring a warm loaf of pumpkin bread wrapped up with love.

Mr. James is still waving that cigar around and talking up a storm, and my husband just keeps nodding, yes sir, and his voice carrying over on the breeze, going on and on about lakes and the best times to fish, it’s like he’s making up for lost time, right there at our picket fence on the Sabbath.

Maybe he is all the church we needed today, because it is where two or three are, and church can be had over a picket fence. Many in the church would never grace my picket fence–I invited and they wouldn’t come, many would never walk over uninvited just to say hello–but they will bang on my door if I don’t attend service, many would never bring food just because–but they will put me on the list to receive help from the food bank, and they would hardly laugh with me right in the yard over a foul word slipped–because Christians don’t laugh, especially about things such as accidental curse words.

And when I was the one in the throes of deep depression and illness, I felt like a leper no one would come near–when I was the “least of these”, where was Jesus with skin on? Where was the church?

And it just hits me so severely and stuns with it’s power of revelation, right there with beads of perspiration forming, that Mr. James–

maybe he is Jesus to us today.

 

















Gratitude in Pictures and Lazy Summer Days all running together…{#931-955}…:

 
The pure light of the two of them together…

 
Sisters laughing….the laughter in a home being medicine…

 
Older sister spinning little sister and the way she adores her…
 
 
Mid-summer backyard fun…

 
 
 
Littlest sitting with her big sister for protection…

 
My babies trying their hands at sparklers, their curious, joyous faces lighting my life….
 
 
How she will always take anything from Mama’s hand…

 
The perfect summer treat–ice cream in a cone {with raspberries and blueberries and dipped in baker’s melting candy and red crystals!}
 
Letting the ice cream run down because we can…
 
 
Taking in the wonder of nature…

 
That I can remember her like this…
 
 
Watching them play in the rain…

 
 
 
Old friends visiting….
 
 
 
The goodness of God’s bounty offered us every day…
 
 
Light caught on wood…

 
The wonder of color…how it captivates me…
 
 
Thank you notes written to Daddy for working so hard for us, an idea I got here, from Alicia, who I like to call friend–so thankful for her encouragement {that could be 2 thank-you’s!}…and it couldn’t have come at a better time for this Husband working 7 day weeks, the days so long…
 
 
Family in the backyard when Husband is home unusually early, the makings for popcorn popped on the grill, and pizza
 
 
Hearing their laughter, squeals; Hard Eucharisteo: calming their yells and crying…
 
 
How she carries her hippo and blanket with her everywhere she goes…
 
 
Caramel popcorn popped the old-fashioned way, the beauty of creating… 
 
 
Fudge adds the sweet finish…
 
Please come back tomorrow for the recipe for my Old-fashioned caramel-fudge popcorn! And maybe a story in the works….
 

**Friends,
your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably wrestling a mountain of laundry, or baby girl who apparently thinks freedom means clothes-free; cleaning up potty-training messes or apple cores lost in the recesses of un-folded clothes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, {or dancing to hip-hop with them while they roll their eyes}, out running, having a glass of wine with Husband, or lying in a warm bath just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. If you are reading this, you are awesome and I already love you! Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much…. if time permits, I will come by your place and leave some encouragement for you!

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my gratefulness.

Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others…


 

  On In Around button



   
       

When No One Sees But God {And Gratitude In Pictures}

Quietly, soft worship lullabies playing in the background, I write scripture on the board for my girls to copy.

Before I can finish a sentence, one already needs me for a math question, and I move around and hover, serving their needs, quieting this one that blurts out words that cut, instructing another one how to find and keep up with her pencil, and helping yet another little one settle down with crayons so her older sisters can focus on the tasks at hand.

And no one sees this–it is just a grace that enevelops and I know His presence consumes.

There is no need for approval from man when you are right in the lap of the Father.

.


 

Fellowship and growing in the word with the body of Christ are things we’ve wanted. But it has been elusive and just isn’t something God has allowed at this point in our lives for some reason. It’s been a long season.

And if I’m being honest, I’m envious of others who have that. But I’m not alone in my aloneness. I know others have these same questions, these same lonely feelings, these same burnings and groanings. We are in a season right now, not in growing in the word, or revelation, but in our deeds, serving, our behavior, attitudes, and sins and idols of the heart.

 












This is not a work of our own hands, our own will–only grace can do this work–only His spirit and sometimes the Spirit groans and travails within our souls in words that are hard to describe, hard to verbalize or even secretly etch out onto paper.










I hesitantly, very timidly try to tap it out here, not knowing if I can even understand it myself, or if I can rightly convey these groanings.

 
 

Sometimes the Spirit within is longing for heaven, for something altogether different, something eternal, and all those fleshly things–they churn hard within, the mind and weak nature not knowing what to do with those things. And so the Spirit groans. I ache.

The temptation is to fill it with things that won’t suffice. And I forget and in my earthly skin, I fill and fill and still, I’m empty, this body of death holding nothing but decay for me.

 

Like a woman birthing and wild with pain, God is weeding so much out and doing such a pulling, tearing, hard work. Everyday we become more and more like what he wants us to be. Are we finally becoming in our home as we want to be? With no one watching, no one knowing, not even family–because in our isolation no one sees–no one except us and God.

He is the only one that sees. and that is what makes it so hard and it is also what makes it so real and rewarding. There is no body of other believers seeing our works, our good attitudes and servanthood–and cheering us on– no pastor encouraging us and saying “well done”, not even really any family visiting to take part in the fruits God may have lavished upon our home.

 
 

 
 

The girls and I talk about the scripture scribbled in bright colors across a white board in morning light–how Jesus said we shouldn’t do things to be seen by men, to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, to do it for our Father in Heaven, that He who is not seen may see our good works and reward us in Heaven. He warned that those who do good works for men to see have already received their reward in full and will receive none in heaven.

This convicts me and lets me know I’m on the right path and where I have erred.

Right before Husband gets home, we stop everything and clean up and wipe counters, put dishes in dishwasher and light candles. He walks in from seven grueling 16 1/2 hour days and says he forgot the prize at the store, but the girls ask if they still get to do their presentation tonight of what they’re learning for their Daddy. He says, Of course, I want you to do it for me, and I will bring your prize home from work tomorrow!

We have dinner together at the table because we all desire togetherness, and when it’s neglected, we wander blindly and falter, and can’t find any sure thing. And we gravitate back towards what holds us like glue–truth–the sanctity of this holy moment of togetherness, of giving thanks. This is a miracle–a true miracle of grace.

It is so much easier to fullfill our fleshly desires than to be selfless and loving and to sit with one another and to talk, and discipline kids when they dont want to sit or eat, and listen to stories and give and share. We read the bible at the table each night, but it isnt always pleasant. I find it difficult to sit still, to just be with them, to take in all the noise, to be gentle and patient, put simply–to love. And I ache.

I ache for all the moments I miss because I’m selfish and yet I can’t seem to discipline my body and my mind to just still while He sings over me, to just be all here, right now, wherever and however He has asked it of me. It is hard, and awkward, and brings up sin out of all of us–just maybe this is the very purpose.

We all clap and cheer and holler like a bunch of sillies hell-bent on love for each precious grace-daughter as she stands up and recites her memory work. There are smiles all around as my three daughters bow and their Daddy laughs deep baratone. Run off and brush your teeth, I tell them.

They all scurry away to bed and just for a moment I forget the ache.

I sit in the nursery rocker while Husband sleeps and the house moans, the girls sleepy heads all in beds and the quiet I have longed for all day is finally here. I rock my toddler baby girl, and as I sing about God’s greatness, the God-head three in one, Father, Spirit and Son, the Lion and the Lamb, the soft tones of Isabella’s favorite worship song waft over to her bed a few feet away, the “God Song”, she calls it and I haven’t been at all perfect this day–actually I’ve been a downright wretch of a sinner–and somehow His grace just envelops and none of it matters.

There is only us and God watching from above. It is very lonely but oh so hallowed, sacred and holy. So quiet, more reflecting his heart than anything I’ve ever known. More peace in our home abounds than ever before.

Oh yeah, there are times screams pierce and words cut deep, but I know He has us. I know His presence consumes everything.

I know I’m safe in His lap and okay just being me, the child He’s rocking so tightly.

Gratitude in pictures:

 
#917…A Daddy and a daughter growing fast
 
 
#918…Two sisters who love one another…
 
 
#919… Laughter…

 
#920…her hair ablaze with light…
 
 
#921…  a shaft of light…
 
 
#922… Lilly pretending to be a puppy at the table…
 
 
 
#923… Innocence of a child…

 
#924 Baby girl pulling Daddy on to jump too…
 
 
#925… Little one who insists her Mama jump with her!
 
 
926…her beauty…
 
 
#927…her humor…
 
 
#928…them wrapped up in sun…perfection to this Mama’s eyes…
 
 
#929… her wisps, her lashes, her cheeks…
 
 
#930…sunset on the beach, another season ending, another season full of opportunity on the way…
 

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably wrestling a mountain of laundry, or baby girl who apparently thinks freedom means clothes-free; teaching a Classical Conversations lesson, cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, {or dancing to hip-hop with them while they roll their eyes}, out running, having a glass of wine with Husband, or lying in a warm bath just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. If you are reading this, you are awesome and I already love you! Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much….

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words,  my gratefulness.
Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others…

 

*Photos in post: Lorna and Ivy sketching Leif the Lucky…
All four girls very busy…
Lorna working on her history sketch…
Solemn Isabella …
Reading in the hammock…
Husband reading bible…
Toys on nursery floor…
Shaft of light on wooden floor…
Girls hovered over a lizard…
Heads huddled up…
Ants in tree bark on a nature walk…
Lilly napping…
Playing with a balloon…
The Lord’s Prayer…
Playing with favorite ponies…
Girls fingerpainting…
Masterpiece…
Early American History–Individuality…
Bella’s art…
Lilly’s art…
Family around the table on a day Husband was home…

Linking with L.L…

On In Around button

 
Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others…







 

On How Community Loves {Bed Hair and All}

My life has been a little jumbled up lately. You ever feel a little jumbled, like bed-hair, walking-into-the-kitchen-at-7-in-the-morning-can’t-see-straight-can’t-decide-what-to-do-first-where’s-the-coffee-nobody-talk-to-me-jumbled? Well, I certainly do, only, I am extra crabby because I can’t have coffee–I have to drink green tea.

In those times, I sure am glad my family takes me just the way I am, bed-hair and all. And that I have a community of sisters that takes me just as I am as well, no matter how jumbled up I may look or feel.

I must admit that community or sisterhood is not something I’ve always been able to turn to, to trust in, to run to.

There have been times in my life I had no one. And there have been times in my life that I intentionally cut myself off to numb the pain. I simply didn’t want to be able to feel enough to be able to be hurt like that again.

I refused to be grafted in–didn’t want to feel the stitching pain of being threaded and woven into the tapestry of God’s people. You know, the most beautiful pieces of art are a lot of work and involve a great amount of pain, like birthing pains.

“And our God is a love body and He hates amputations and He sutures our wounds together with the silver threads of community.” –Ann Voskamp

So, when I stepped out on a limb and said I would host for an {in}courage get-together, it was like that–birthing a child. I have carried this promise of faithfulness, this hope of redemption, this promise of His body and His children being made whole and healed in Him.

“We are all connected by the God who *is* community! –{in}Courage {Lisa-Jo}

Putting that invitation out to all who would come, not knowing who would accept–this was hard, scraping the old wounds of me and eliciting anxious panting and pain and before I knew what I had done, I was in the very throes of birthing relationship.

“God never asked me if I could, He used me because He knew that I trusted that HE would”.–{in}Courager

Eldest daughter and I had cut antique pink roses from the wild vine and placed in tea cups and pots and I had lit candles and my house was sparkling clean {but I promise it is rarely like that!}. The air smelled deliciously of eggplant frying and bosc pears simmering in mulled cider spice, when Cheryl walked in the door.

We immediately embraced and she exclaimed at least she had gotten a shower before she came, and ran her fingers through her hair, and I fluffed my still-wet hair, threw my hands up in the air and we laughed at our make-up-less selves.

“Being real will cost us being perceived as perfect, but will always be worth the investment.”–Lisa-Jo

As I got the food ready and placed on plates, poured pomegranate cranberry juice with crushed ice in glasses, we talked like old friends. It didn’t take long and we were sharing stories from our lives.

Before she left, she thanked me for having her because she never gets to leave her house, and she didn’t want to watch a webcast about community alone. I agreed with her as we hugged good-bye. Because, really, isn’t that the cry of all of our hearts?

That we can’t do this alone? Really, down in the bare bones of me, this is what I’m crying for: real communion.

I agreed, yes, that we all plaintively cry out for community, and it doesn’t matter who or where or when, just that it happens.

It’s indescribable how the women in my life have touched me forever, left fingerpints of God on me–they are Jesus loving me.

“I need someone with skin on.” –Deidra Riggs

As I’ve opened myself up, like wound opening up to be washed and cleaned, these Jesus-women have poured in the healing waters and rubbed in the balm in those hurting, cracked, festering places.

“In this place, we kneel down beside you. In this place, we reach out our hands. In this place, can you hear us whisper?You have been hurt. We can see the pain in your eyes —- We offer you a promise of friendship. In the places of sisters and sinners and souls-made-saints, we make safe circles around women and together we watch each other’s backs and together we bend down when one hunches over in pain and together we pick up the shards of the hearts all shattered, the Jesus-women making this healing mosaic of grace.” –Ann Voskamp

And while I so appreciate all the wonderful friendships I’ve made online, it is so good to have those friends in real life–{in}RL.

It’s a little like going home–I just heave a great big sigh and smile through tears at their words–they are my closest confidants and the ones that have always been there, cheering me on, praying me through, and the ones I know will never leave, whether I write a great story or not.

And it’s because of them that I have learned to navigate these unchartered waters of the blogging world with even the smallest amount of graciousness. They have taught me to be a better woman.

They have been Jesus with skin on to me.

But these blogging friends? Oh, they’ve spurred me on to greatness and godliness. They’ve taught grace, generosity, and practical caring.

If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have much of a prayer life. What I have learned about prayer through them has been life-altering. I’ve seen the way Ann asks to take the hurting woman’s hand through the screen and pray for her right then.

I know the way that my close friend, Ro, the Tennessee woman, has dropped a prayer in the inbox just for my eyes, and how I read through tears, just nodding, and how she makes me feel she is so near when she tells me the picture is there where she meets with Jesus and prays for me.

I can still hear my good friend and mentor, Mary Leigh, that Southern lady softly laughing–I imagine–saying, “I’ll pray for you, and you pray for me too, okay?” She makes me feel like I’m sitting on her front porch, rocking in her favorite rocking chair, us sharing the view of a Tennessee twilight sky.

The words of a poem written by precious Cora, stanzas for me still play in my mind, words as if they were from Father God Himself straight to my heart, and they play over and over of how she said she was here to walk this road with me, whether I ever wrote back or not!

“This is where we, as women, can give one another grace.”–Lisa-Jo

“Learn to love each other’s ‘no’ as much as each other’s ‘yes’.”–Holly Gerth

I have been touched for eternity by womens’ prayers that have been sent through comments, emails, and even through gifts. I find myself *praying* for people, right then and there. I find myself reaching through the screen, asking if I can take a hand and pray.

I find myself accidentally, happily, and so, so gratefully finding community.  

A few quotes about what community means that I just loved and wanted to share:

“It’s an expression that you trust me and that I trust you”–Bonnie Gray

“It’s a safe place to cry the ugly cry. It’s just a safe place to be your real, true self.”–Deidra Riggs

“Community is not worrying about the platform of me, and my story, and what I’m all about–but being interested in the stories of others. It took coming home to a place like {in}courage where I could meet women who were really good at sharing their unfine moments with the world.”–Lisa-Jo

*Thank you for so much grace, friends, as I giddily, just a little timidly, admit I’m seeking community and give honor to those women who have been such a godly influence in my life. *ALL* of you are so beautiful and so kind, friends. Each one of you are so special and beloved of the Father!

Still counting with Ann in gratitude to Father…

Gratitude:

#758 blue jay bathing in bird bath in front yard

#759 me and girls stopping to watch from the window

#760 spontaneous picnic with the girls outside on a blanket under the shade tree

#761 a science lesson outside and Ivy’s excitement as she jumps up exclaiming about how we are probably sticking straight out off the round earth, but because of gravity, it feels like we are standing right up

#762 ugly-beautiful: me and the girls transplanting so many plants in the yard–me cutting myself on briars and falling into a tree-like sharp-edged bush bum first and biting back bad words, yelling out in frustration at the girls and getting a lesson in patience

#763 how we stop and take the time to look at earthworms, lizards, spiders they find–us just breathing in the moment

#764 ugly-beautiful: in the midst of my bad temper, I thank God that at least we are all outside enjoying His creation together, breathing fresh air, feeling sun on skin….that even in my sin, He redeems all…

 #765 those moments when I get to talk to the girls about how many beautiful gifts the Father gives through His creation–the sun, stars, a cool breeze, a bird’s song….

 #766 reading for an entire hour in the hammock and all of us getting sleepy, all intertwined there together

#767 {in}courage ladies’ sweet commentary on community this weekend…how inspiring and how much it blessed me, ministered to me, and changed my heart, spurred me on to being Jesus to His children…because “If I’m not doing the thing He created me to do, then nobody’s doing it!“–Deidra Riggs–my new mantra

#768 Cheryl coming to my home–so glad that I summoned the courage to invite her, and so, so glad she accepted

#769 being able to minister, in some small way, to women, to pray with them for their specific needs in the place they hurt the most

#770 during my {in}courage night, husband taking children and seeing that my grandparents weren’t at home, treating them to supper and a toy at the store

#771 seeing them pull back into the driveway

#772 that I’ve learned all of this wisdom about community from these {in}courage women that say up front they are just human–that we are all, very humanly, in this together–its changed me forever

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably in some corner of my home sorting through laundry in danger of mildewing, cleaning potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a science lesson with the children, or just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. I love this community of grace-filled people!

**Also, I am taking a hiatus–a writing break–a very necessary one–not an easy decision on my part. I took a little short one, but this will be a longer one. I have one more post that I am working on and I invite you to come back and read more about why I feel the need to take a hiatus–a little bit more about me, chronic illness, priorities, and what God is calling me to. Won’t you come back? I would love for all of my blogging friends to know why when they see that I’m not around these parts. Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.

Joining with sweet Ann and others in community…

Jen…

and Michelle…

Together {Five Minute Friday}

Every Friday, we link up with Lisa-Jo of the gypsy mama, and in her words–“we write like we used to run when we were kids. On Fridays we write with gusto, unselfconscious and flat out.” –we write for five minutes only with a one-word prompt– no editing, no back-tracking, and no worrying if it’s perfect!If you enjoy this at all, and would like to see more writing with gusto, click on her button at the bottom and read others’ posts!

Together:

GO.

I’m scared to put fingertips to keyboard and tap out “together” because I don’t understand together like I would like to.

But I do want to get this together, this community, this caring, this relationship. I want to learn it in the synapses, in the heart strings, for the endings to get the message that Jesus came for relationship with me so that I could reach out to others.

This woman, the cancer-survivor champion, she chases after me, and she causes me to reach arms out and up to God. She pours deeply into my soul.

The Life-Surrendered mama, she invests her time richly in me, makes me a better homeschooling, loving, godly mama.

The filipino girl, she makes me soar with the wings she gives with her life-breathed encouragement.

And there’s this Tennessee woman, the Tuning Her Heart woman, who looks into me and sees something of value.

And then there’s the quirky Californian-Asian girl whose love knows no bounds and always sticks by me when I’m at my craziest, and messiest and she loves me more for it.

Maybe I do understand together. They have come and wrapped arms ’round and made me understand.

STOP.

Friends, I would LOVE for you to leave your thoughts–your comments are so precious, and minister to my soul–I am probably in a corner of my home somewhere cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, picking up sticky banana peels off my couch, sorting through laundry and apple cores, doing a Jillian Michael’s workout with eldest daughter, helping my second grader with grammar, or packing all four girls to go off with their grandparents’ for the weekend {yay!} ….I am sorry that I cannot answer every comment, but please let me know you were here, so I can stop by your place and leave some encouragement for you!