Category Archives: fear

Rambling Vignettes of Listening {An Abstraction on Slippers}




I walk to the bathroom in my slippers at 6 pm, when my back feels like it will break, and bend over the bathtub anyway. Water and giggles splash me awake. I gently coerse them to their feet for a slathering of soap and the wash rag slides over their little bodies, and it’s like a good cleansing of my soul.

I do these things over and over—heat up the pajamas over the free-standing oil heater, slide them on, zip them up, then roughly towel-dry their heads and comb through wet hair. These rituals are quieting and peaceful, the heater a make-shift altar, the stool a pew, and the careful zipping and closure of buttons a concrete theology of the only kind that makes any sense to me—love. The theology that puts clothes on bare backs, brings a glass of water to the lips of the thirsty, washes the dirt of the unclean, and wraps arms round the filthy, looks into their eyes and accepts them the way they are.
Still in my pink and white furry slippers, plaid pajama pants, and stained Aeropostale hoodie, I dump can after can of tomatoes, beans, chilis and olives into a stock-pot large enough to feed a family of six for two nights. The soup simmers and warms the kitchen and my heart.
It’s difficult to pull myself away from the computer with all my adult friends, who make me feel so validated, and to ring my hands in prayer, in these rote routines that are never-ending. As soon as I wash and fold the clothes,  they are in the dirty pile again. I don’t get to leave home much, so it’s hard to stop “involving myself” in adult things. But living in this gentle, patient way requires that I turn off the noise and listen to my little people. And what I hear is beautiful in the silence, in the waiting, in the serving.
I practice the discipline of going outside, even when it’s cold. I don’t let myself be overcome with angst and melancholy. I look at the stars, and wait, because God speaks to me there.
I practice cutting off a conversation I’d really like to have on messenger, and walk outside because I can hear the giggles wafting in through my window from the trampoline, and don’t fancy myself too dignified to jump up on the trampoline and play silly games.
These are my altars, they are my sanctuaries, they are my church, my holy place.
This weekend I went on a bike ride with my daughter again to the store. This time it was the six year old. She is so fearless and brave. Not once did she say, Mama wait, or Mama I can’t keep up, or Don’t leave me. She cheerfully stayed behind, or sped on ahead, a huge proud grin spread wide across her face, and I, warily aware of cars that might come our way any moment, constantly tried to hold her back, or pull her up with me. Her bravery makes me come to a stop, and really take a look at my own courage, or lack thereof.
We all went to the playground on Sunday, and there was lots of sunshine there, as if it was waiting for us. It had not been beaming as brightly before.
Their smiles when I took pictures of them soaring on the swings found me in my stalled faith and depressed mood, and startled me awake and once again, I found a reason to believe.





I’ve struggled in my relationship with God, because I am afraid when I step out onto that limb in shaky belief, that He will leave me hanging, that I’ll be left alone, in jadedness and hurt.
For about a week, I could not hear Him at all, I thought. It seemed my heart was overwhelmed, confused, muddled. I worried, I doubted. I walked outside late one night, bundled up, and everything was still and my heart felt dead along with all the winter barrenness buried deep under the cold, wet ground. All the life had been beat down by freezing rain and all felt numb and desolate.
I let the sterile sleepiness overtake me for a moment. I felt abandoned. Then I surrendered, and looked up and the stars jolted me with their twinkling, their stark loveliness. I knew He was waiting. I said out loud, which is rare for me, Talk to me, GodWhat do I do with this?
And you know what? He didn’t leave me hanging. No friend, He comes on wings of love. He said to me, crystal clear, You are worrying over things you have no business worrying over. I am going to take care of it. Trust me, and stop worrying.
And he spoke something with limpid lucidity—grace.  And—love.
Yes, Father, I know. I see. I hear. And just like that, my fear was dissolved. In His hands, picking me up off that shaky limb.
I may have a relationship with Him now, all on my own, without someone else telling me what that should look like. Seriously. This is not blowing smoke, y’ know? No, for the first time, I mean it.
I thought I meant it long ago,  and I think in some ways I did. But– and here’s the really honest part– I was following someone else’s leading. I was doing it because I felt I had to– the advent, the lent, the praying, the homemaking (making cookies, folding clothes, and all the things). It was never enough unless I was doing IT ALL. I thought I was finding God in that. And in a way, I did. But maybe it was only a glimpse. I limited him, boxed him in, not in the ways I always had, but in a different way. I just gave him a new box.
Now, I’m listening. I’m not making idols, not play-acting, not doing Lent just because I’m thinking how much content it will offer my writing. I’m listening to the Spirit. I used to HATE it when people said that. Because I’m a rebel, and spiritual talk felt so superficial to me.
Oh, what I was missing out on, and then again, I wasn’t missing anything. Because I’ve travelled this roving path, like a gypsy desperately seeking the spark of life, and I’m listening. He is in the pain, the mess, the times I have too much to drink and go to bed drowsy, He’s in the words that aren’t being said when I’m talking to a friend, and I have to listen  for them, because then I get to hear HIM.

He is in the beauty, He is in the homework I don’t want to do with kids. He is in that beautiful dimpled smile my girl gives me, so proud of herself, when she reads her kindergarten reader.
I don’t care about prayer rituals. I don’t care about church services. I don’t care if my blog sounds dignified or if a lot of people read, or if I EVER write a book. Because these altars, on this sacred ground of wet bath-time tile floor? They teach me something a church service never could.
I want to listen, and I want to learn to be brave, and to be who He made me to be. And I don’t want to miss one precious moment. Oh, and believe me, I miss plenty.
But there’s the beauty in the mess, right there. I get to start all over the very second I pull myself away from my selfishness. Full Stop. Grace.


I guess I’m just talking about being set free.

To be free, we have to strip down bare, shirk of all that entangles. The noise, the comparisons, the selfishness, and the bitterness too–let’s throw them off. Those things keep you from listening, they keep you from freedom, and they keep you from creating the way He meant for me and for you to do. I know, because for a time when I allowed those things to consume, I just could  not write. My ears were stopped up, and I was caged inside the prison I had constructed for myself. 

Now I will embrace fearlessness. 

The courage I find in a bike ride teaches me to be brave enough to step out on the shaky limb, to believe and to say it out loud, that He speaks to me when I take notice, and that it’s in the red-winged bird’s flight, the rock song playing on the radio as we all bump along down the highway and it’s in the text messages a friend sends, holding fast with me in prayer and trust before God that His promise was never that things would be easy, but that He would finish all good things He has begun. 

He has spoken. I hear Him. 
What do you hear Him saying?




***Will you do this with me, friends? Let’s explore the practice of listening! This week, before you write, take a walk, in the woods, at the lake or park, down your neighborhood road, ride a bike, play tag, listen for the wind, watch the trees, the sky, pay attention to the small, seemingly unnecessary details of your day. It is here you will find wholeness, here you will find strength, beauty, brokenness, goodness, joy, pain… Here you will find God. THEN write about it– Our prompt is Serve (next week’s is below), but our focus is on the practice of listening and then writing. Excited? We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #listeningtoyourlife and of course as always, #concretewords. Do me a favor and use these on social media and share with friends–invite them?

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.


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–
                                             and the prompt–Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising,
                                             or sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords–
                                               please share so others can join!

Today’s prompt is Slippers. GO!


**{This link up will run until next Monday, the 10th, 11:59 pm., giving you plenty of time to write and link-up before the next concrete words is posted the following day. Sometime between now & then, I will read your stories and highlight one of them from this link-up on social media. On the 10th, the prompt will be Altar .}


Free As I Want To Be {An Abstraction on Dirt}



Saturday I put my dukes up to this tough cold that’s attacked my body to bravely step out of the house into the sunshine. I stepped out and let air, and sky and trees and warm coffee and the arms of a faithful friend wrap ’round me. I wore my tee that says “Wild and Free” and soaring birds dangled from my ears. It made me wonder, if saying it out loud like that makes me free? As free as I want to be. I bounced out of the house in tennis shoes, my hair lopping along on top of my head. For some reason, that made me feel lighter.

We walked around the lake, and man did it ever feel good, like shaking cob-webs off that you’ve let set up for too long, peering out at you from the corner. Our sneakers crunched on the black pavement, and she showed me where her toes were trying to poke out the sides. It’s time for new shoes, she said. When I got upset, she intuitively knew it, and reached across the table and held my hand. And when it was time to say goodbye, she pulled me to her tight, chest to chest, only the way sisters can, and she said she prays over me, grace. I felt it. Tears formed, and I exhaled.

The kids run all over the expansive yard we have here, and it makes me think I’m glad we moved here, although there are reasons I wished we lived in a nicer place. A place where the foundation wasn’t in danger. But these kids, they don’t care if it’s snow, mud, or black dirt, they run and explore the entirety of this place, and scoop up the black soil that grows everything around here with their flip flops as they swing back and forth.

Sunday I pushed them and as they shot up into the air, and squealed, and I caught a glimpse of a smile from the edge of their profiles, I thought about that. How so many who lived here before us, they pushed down the grass with tennis shoes, and threw leaves into the air, made tracks in the snow, planted flowers in spring. I can almost hear the squeals of all the children.

I’m only here for a little while. It’s not for me to decide. I don’t want to deal with eternity–but I must–it’s there whether I like it or not–this great, looming question.

This, here, it’s all temporary. This dirt I trod, the rain washes it away, refreshes it for tomorrow. The ones that come after, they won’t really remember me, eventually. And there is nothing to be done about it, but surrender.

Surrender to the fact I’m dust. Surrender to Him in trust.

I talk to a friend about listening to your life. She says she doesn’t have any answers. She says You know I was going to say that, right? I tell her I think I forgot how to listen, because life became too much, and I turned my face away from it, didn’t want to hear.

But there can be beauty in hearing, even in the pain, yes, beauty in accepting the pain, and receiving grace when we listen. I told her I was going to practice this.

Let me know how your listening goes, she tells me, and gives me a wink.

I came wailing into this world, red-faced baby, a rare birthmark on my arm all the doctors wanted to see. But really, nothing special to define my life. Thirty four years have flown by. Thirty four more will do the same. In the larger scheme of this great big spinning orb, who am I and what do I leave behind? And who will know I’ve been here when I’m gone?

The thing is, my life is very small. I am just a speck here, amongst billions of others, and billions of others have lived and will live. And really, all I can do is just ask Him to make my speck in this huge universe a blessing in some way, for Him to have honor.

Yes, if we truly understand ourselves, and God, even a little, then we understand the mystery of our infinite smallness and His infinite greatness.

She starts to sit down in the seat of the swing for me to push her, and then she says, Oh Mama, it’s dirty! How I gonna sit on that? So I grab a large, soft, hollow stick lying on the ground and scratch at the cakey brown spot until it’s sanded and smoothed away, and she happily plops down.

I swing her, and watch her hair fly. I see their heart-shaped bums in the seat, how they are so tiny, their world so big, their bodies small and limited, but their spirits limitless. They are unafraid. I see them smile into the sky. I surrender, then, too. I look to the sky, to Father, who helps me with my unbelief.

I’m free. Just as free as I want to be.

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.


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–
                                             and the prompt–Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising,
                                             or sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords–
                                               please share so others can join!

Today’s prompt is Dirt. GO!


**{This link up will run until Sunday, the 9th, 11:59 am., giving you plenty of time to write and link-up before the next concrete words is posted the following day. Sometime between now & then, I will read your stories and highlight one of them from this link-up on social media. On the 9th, the prompt will be announced .}

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!}


Quieted By Her Love {Five Minute Friday}

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

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

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

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

She aches to hold me.

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

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

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

You have my heart always. You have my heart.

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

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

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

It is quieted by her love.

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

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

And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

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

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”

The one-word prompt this week was FRIEND.

Five Minute Friday

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

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

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

A Stirring {An Abstraction on Spirit}

When I close my eyes, and picture sunlight, I’m a girl again, riding horseback, playing games amongst the pines.

The whoosh of the wind in my hair as I run her down the hill again and again elates me and makes me feel like an Indian princess in the beautiful frontier before it was invaded and cut down and colonized. I feel her pride, her strong spirit, and together we soar like the eagle. The hooves drum in the ground, dirt flies up against my thighs, and I feel the beating of wings, of my heart, of the animal’s might beneath me, the sinews of her stretching taught and powerful, her beauty preaches to me, talks to me of God. We are one, the beast and I, the Indian girl and I, as I lean over the saddle horn, give into her great prowess, my body rolling in rhythm with hers, copulating, us fused together, I can smell the scent of her thick glorious hair.

I grab her mane, the dry thickness of it so coarse it’s like ropes dredging me up out of water, and I hold onto her for dear life, because I have control but it’s because she lets me, so meek in all her raw power. I let out a yell, “Yee-haw! Yee-yee-yee!!” I’m strong. I’m fierce, unstoppable.

My mind rolls back and over those better days, swinging from large old oak, the wooden plank under  my young bottom, I don’t even feel it, me all light and weightless, swinging out over the hill, it dropping off beneath, like I’m flying, sun blinding, I close my eyes, tip head back and laugh wild.

I capture them like this now, when I watch them run and play, spirits soaring, and the light in their hair–it speaks to me. Speaks to me different, not in words, but lightens me, makes me exhale. Something inside is stronger and brighter and breathes easier.

God captures me like this. He watches as I rise, sunlight in my hair all askew, as I pitter-patter barefoot in yoga pants, warm sweater wrapped round my cold body. I wonder if God sees as He watches, how that when the horse tried to kill me, it made me afraid and I stopped riding, if He sees my weakness, my fear, my pitiful life and begs like a baby screaming for milk for me to to not be afraid, to ride again, to soar again. I walk across wooden, sun-soaked warm floor and God made the warmth for me. And He speaks to me there. He’s in the morning light pouring in on the pine.

I walk outside, tip head back, close eyes, blinded by light through the Sand Plum, and I walk toward the children. Baby girl calls, “Mama, play!” And right here and now, I get to be brave.

I shake off my fear and I love fierce, climb onto the trampoline and tickle, giggle, squeal, and laugh and jump the afternoon away, and I know this is how I learn to get back on the horse, how to not let spirit die.


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

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

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

Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Truck.

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


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


{This post shared with JenLaura, Heather, Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!)

Lean Into the Light, Pictures From A Nutcracker Birthday {and Gratitude}

My little Lilly,

this light that came into our life as a complete surprise, you bring joy in the dark places of me and how could I have known? Because if you’d never come, I’d have gone on with life as usual, towing the three kids, never knowing there was supposed to be a fourth one, the one to plow up the bad soil of me and make my innards sing, light bursting through the fragments of my heart.

We celebrated the third year of your fresh, young life and yes, I wanted it to be an affair to remember–I admit I did–a beautiful celebration of the day you were born.

I regret that well, I may or may not have been a little too involved in the baking and preparation. But I’m a creative being, and I want to celebrate you and God and goodness and His holiness and this creation and all the wonderful brightness there is in your smile and your laughter and the sun and the warmth I feel when we’re together.

How long do I really have, how many times will the hands go ’round the face of time before it ceases its race and I find myself bored, you having flown off?

When will time just run out?

I have a secret to whisper to you, baby girl–I. am. afraid.

Afraid you’ll grow and I’ll miss it. I’m afraid it’ll happen while I’m folding clothes, while I’m running, gardening, or pursuing any number of things that make me happy.

And God forbid I should miss you while I tap away at my computer, or talk to people through screens.

But the truth is, all of that will happen. You’ll grow while I put shirts in the drawers, while I talk to my aging grandmother on the phone, and yes, even while I write.

And the real nugget here, dear girl? You need me to do all of those things–even the things that make me sing-on-the-mountaintop-happy.

You need me to be an example to you of how life is lived.

Mothering is such a delicate balance of living a life of example before you of what a woman should be and throwing example out of the window for an impromptu game of tickles and giggles underneath bed sheets in mornings softest rays of light.

And darling, how I love running around in the grass chasing you, the sun shining down upon us.

How I love when time slows down as I watch the light dance in your pale wheat locks. As time slows, all I can see is light around you, on you, in you, it’s in every part of you and it is you. The light.

And only you could do that for me, girl.

How I love lying in our hammock in the summer barefooted, you piled in with your sisters while I read to you in low tones ’til it’s late afternoon and our eyelids droop and threaten to close.

And in the winter you are the only shaft of light in the dungeon of dark, rainy cold that creeps into this old home through holes and cracks. The way you bounce around the house, your halo blonde waving as you run in your tutu, you remind me that good still exists in life.

I admit I am afraid, child.

I know I will miss you once you are gone. I fear walking around in circles, trying to figuring out what’s missing and knowing all too well what is wrong, my hands with nothing to do, my heart bursting to give and all I can hear is the silence and the clock echoing on the wall.

I know the day will come.

And for now, sweet, sweet Lilly, I want to pull you close and whisper in your ear, how that really, we don’t have to fear.

I want to tell you this secret, sweet child. Listen close. Love conquers fear. The wild, forgiving seventy-times-seven, going the extra mile, makes no sense kind of love.

The love that turns the other cheek, the love that washes over with grace and counts no wrongs and leaves wide open spaces to be ourselves, and believes the best always no matter what, even when mistakes are made, and doesn’t want what God hasn’t given and doesn’t worry about tomorrow–that love drives out all fear.

And so, little one, I have told you the best secret of all. I have told you the only truth you ever really need to know.

And now you know the whole story. So lean in close to me, and let’s be fearless together.

Let’s lean into our Father. Lean into the light, child, always into the Light.

Starting up counting gratitude here once again:….#1037-1048
For writing again…
For finding my voice…
For chimes singing a wind song for me…
For being quiet enough to hear…
Hearing my little Lilly say so many words…
How they fill up the silence with glory…
How she  teaches me to listen…
For Husband encouraging me to come outside in the sunshine
Walking around the deadened, rain-soaked yard, looking at all things that were once alive that are now dormant and cracked
Really seeing the state of things for what they are
Hoping for spring
Hope itself

                              Pictures from Lilly’s Nutcracker themed third birthday party:

Linking with Ann in the gratitude community…..

Laura…

and Emily…

Silence–When You Fear What’s Not Normal {Day 11}



We go to speech therapy, and she won’t look at the lady making exaggerated O’s with her lips.

She won’t even look at me, my baby girl who is almost three and doesn’t say “Mama”.

I watch my hopes fall apart right in front of me as she refuses to acknowledge anyone in the room, pretends she can’t hear, frowns, focuses on the farm animals, whooshes them up in the air, silently, back down without a word, a sound.

Everything crumbles and I feel so empty. I hear not the sound the room is filled with–children coaxing, playing with their sister, the therapist talking and engaging Lilly, little farm gates opening and shutting, cows bumping up ladders–I hear the sheer volume of voicelessness. It feels the room and crushes me under the weight of it.

I really thought she would walk in, be pleased to meet her therapist, like normal children who engage their world do, and we would begin learning words.

This mama-heart aches as I watch my baby silently refuse the world all around her. I’m just a spectator in her
speechless world.

Somewhere along the way– between sitting on the foam mat, playing with horses and cows, and displaying sounds like candy in a jar we hope she’ll stick her hand in, and picking her up and carrying her out, soundlessly kicking my belly and thighs with her feet– it stuns like a tazer, that something is wrong. Horribly, can’t grasp air, mouth moving but no sound coming out nightmare wrong.

In my nightmare, I am mute, and in this real world, she is the one with the restraints on her mouth like a corset too tight, cutting off oxygen. And I can’t figure out what I did wrong, but I know it’s something I did very, very wrong along the way.

My heart thuds in my chest like a heavy gong and begins to move into my throat, to reverberate loudly, the beating of a drum in the dark, in the deep, that dread coming for me. It moves up, closer, tighter and squeezes, slowly cinching, until tiny bones bend and snap.

That dread, thudding, as I say it to myself: Is she autistic? Dear God. Has she just decided out of pure stubborness to be mute? Has something traumatic caused her to not articulate, to back far away into a corner, the musical notes of her voice disappearing? 

Because the ma-ma’s and waving, her calling bye-bye–it’s all disappeared, blown away somewhere on  the wind of all things in life that are lost, un-cared for, suppressed, inhibited, carelessly pushed down.

And what have I done to cause this? 

Was it the hours and hours spent isolating myself, shutting myself away from my family when I was sick? 

Was it all the times I let her go to bed without a story? Should I have read to her more? Loved her more? Held her, rocked her, talked to her more, looked straight in her eyes every. single. day, said I love you? 

Have I let her get lost in a sea of siblings, feeling she doesn’t have a place, a voice?

As she lies in my arms, I hold her, and I pray.

I weep as I pray, and it comes out in broken whispers. Tears stream and I come to Him completely broken and in need.

Oh Jesus, let my baby talk.
Let her begin to talk.
Father, wrap us up in your love.
Restore what has been lost.
Restore what has been stolen.
Take this illness that has plagued her and I, and with those stripes you took for her and for me,
I pray healing over us.
Touch my little Lilly, Father, with your healing hands, those scarred hands.
Loose her mouth, Lord, set her free.

It’s broken hallelujahs around here, and as I wrap my arms around her in the dark, in this dreaded deep, I feel God wrap ’round us and hold us right where we are.

Forgive me for being sappy, friends, but two beautiful songs I’d like to share with you, would you like to listen and worship for a minute, in this quiet, in this deep, in this dread, in this place of broken hallelujah, worship anyway with me?……
And humbly asking for prayer, to be guarded with angels and His blood here on the doorpost, as the prowling lion seeks to devour. I feel His teeth sinking in as illness tries to suck me back down, as my Lilly struggles to talk, as she vomits off and on for the past few months and we can’t figure out why, as Husband and I walk through the hard places and ask God for healing in relationship….

This I found through Ms. Holly: Gorgeous, friends….

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 what doesn’t feel normal, when your life is turned upside down, friend? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these doubts, these concerns? 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 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?   

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

And also linking up with Ann, Emily, Duane, Jennifer 

Fear {Guest Post by Elizabeth Marshall} {Day 10}



I don’t even want for fear to have its own title, headline, place in bold, upfront in this series.

I want nothing to do with fear, for I have given enough space and time and energy to it already.

Writing about it is even painful.

But isn’t that giving in. Letting fear sap energy. Tremble knees. Shake confidence. Rattle senses. Muss up the mind.

Isn’t fear numbing and paralyzing when it gets any room in a life.

It is greedy and boorish. Demanding and a bully. It saps Joy, drains the good, pulls the plug and lets hope rush down the drain like dirty bath water filled with bubbles of maybe.

Just maybe writing of fear, restores Hope. Writing of fear and meeting it head on pushes it back, meets it head on, faces it down.

Fear has erased days and bound me up. It has named seasons. It has defined seasons of  unknowing, of infertility and waiting years to add children to a family, by birth and adoption.

It has crippled in seasons of waiting for a husband to return, after a season of separation, marked the days dark and long. Tried to wrangle all life out of the days of healing, to rename me the one whose husband left.
Fear says failure and brokenness rather than Hope and Security.

Fear takes the good plans of God for redemption and restoration and leaves you frozen in unknowing, hopeless, hope dwindling and the self demanding an answer now, the self commanding and controlling outcomes.

Fear robs the days left with a child at home, when the self chooses to demand to know the future, and it demands to know it will be labeled good by the world’s standards, good by the description of the self-focused soul.

Fear teams up with frozen and frightened and steals the hours and days of a life with a power that is unbroken, but for Jesus.

When healing and His redemptive love restore a Hopeful, Trusting Heart, the fire of fear is doused and diminished. And the pile of ashes is blown anew with a Spirit of new-life and radiant restorative re-birth.

The days of waiting on children’s birth, marriages restored and even financial struggles to end are marked by a wholeness from leaning hard into Him and softening the stone-cold places that fear and trembling have made tough as a frozen tundra. Made life-less.

Anxiety and worry have fueled enough days, with OCD re-routing a life ,bound it up in chains, set the heart on a new gear worthy of a NASCAR winner. Chased me round and round,  like a pack of rapid dogs. Spun me round, dizzy, like a child on a playground whirly gig until nausea and fatigue take the weary spirit to the ground.

Fear fuels the tongue and raises the volume and chooses the words. Takes control when control feels lost. Shouts orders demands her way. Raises the blood pressure, raises the stakes, reddens the face, and raises the roof.

Who wins when fear is in charge and shouts at the top of her fearful lungs and blow her battle weary bugle – CHARGE. Who falls in line, follows? Who feels called in love to go her way. There are no winners when fear leads  the weary into the unknown places.

And slips into the night, commands the dreams and rattles the sleepy, gets you up to pace the floors at night, creaking lonely in the midnight hour, draining the life from a tomorrow. Re-naming the days to come as weary and hopeless.

Fear gets the title here. Fear gets a word in this 31 Day Series of Words, but only because Fear gives Hope an opportunity to do her best work, to come in and breathe a breath of new living and redemptions glory.

The reigns are dropped, the bridled grip on frozen frightened doubt and worry loosed, and Hope and Trust ride off on wings of eagles, bound for a life lived with glimpses of the glory of heaven.




Friends, I am so thrilled to introduce you to my friend, Elizabeth. She is married to the Patient One and together they have three perfect children, though they are not. Teenagers are great. They should know. And adult children are too. They should know. There are four furry people with four legs in their zoo slash home. Three of them follow her around all day, so she is never alone. She likes art and music and most days loves to write and play with words. She and the Patient One like to cook and play with food together. She doesn’t know if it’s a habit to break but middle child has asked her to leave the furniture alone. She loves all things Southern and old. Her life has been grace-filled. They have survived and been strengthened by more than one bump in their marriage and in their family life. Blessings abound in their life at the coast and she remains in awe of our God and all of his goodness.

You can find more of Elizabeth’s soul-wrenching writing here–I really think she’s a modern-day poet, and more than that, I am honored to call her friend. She is really a treasure. Please check out her lovely blog.

Still counting for joy, for Hope and Trust…1,000 and beyond…{1,007-1,019}…
For more words, for a calling-down-the-power-of-heaven prayer before CC, for godly parents in my classroom, for success in my weakness–only by His grace, for parents telling me they’re using the gratitude journals we made–pure heaven and I’m grinning, for her leaning into me heavy in sleep, her always reaching up, needing me, for gentle, quiet moments in the rocker and the dark, for crying as I read “You Are My I Love You to her, for getting to bed late and staying awake with her vomiting in my bed off and on, how she raises up a mason jar for water when we wake, eyes questioning, for Husband who calls, asks if I need him to leave work and come home, for a loving man who reminds me not to take too much on, who relieves me of my burden, tells me it’s his burden to provide…what a man.

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? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these doubts, these concerns? 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 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?   

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

And also linking up with Ann, Shanda, LauraMichelle, and Jen



Fear of Failure And A Hard Day {Day 9}

Isn’t it hard to admit when we have failed, according to our own standards, or according to the standards that we think others put on us?

At 9:26, after a long, grueling day of which I will spare you the details, I sit here and stare blankly at my computer. And I got nothin’.

Husband walks around the house, wanting time with  me {Hallelujah, something I should be thankful for!}. Instead of being irritated in my utter mind-numbing exhaustion, something tells me I should go cuddle up next to him and purr–be the soft wife he wants and needs.

So I’m letting go of my perceived failure, and fears of all the what-if’s and shoulds and should nots, and I’m reaching out for what is eternal–love. And I’m embracing the rest and the grace that is reigning down on me tonight and it’s been a long time coming.

I’m supposed to be writing for 31 straight days on fear. And I won’t give up.

But there are just times that you don’t call it giving up–you call it surrender, with arms stretched up to heaven and out, filled with all this love, these chubby hands patting me calling Mama, these man-arms that wrap ’round me on our living room couch.

We’re In A Race Against Time, Love and Fear of Love Not Being Real {Day 8}

On Fridays, I join up with Lisa-Jo Baker and others at her blog to write for five minutes with a one-word prompt, to be a free bird, writing without worrying if it’s just right, without editing or backtracking.

 GO. 

                                                                                                        photo credit

We are in a race against time, love
against all forces that drag us down and hold us back
Can you see me?
Can you see me bleeding love for you?
They said we weren’t supposed to be together
Remember that?
And so many years we’ve been together
And so much has been said and done
And when two people love one another but live in pain,
I wonder where God is in that
Sometimes I wonder if soul-mates don’t exist,
and maybe it’s just that God watches us make vows
and under God we keep them
on this holy ground
We’re in a race against time, love
We’re getting older and I don’t want to waste time
on these words that hurt
Let’s love passionately and rightly
and let’s fulfill sacred vows
and let’s not fill one another up
Let God do that
But let’s just love on one another
Lavish it thickly, like when I wake and feel you there
in the coffee and special cup you laid out for me
Or when I make you stand there and press into me,
take the hug you are unsure of,
and tell you to squeeze me harder until you relax.
And we’re in a race against time, love
I want to love you well before it’s too late.

STOP.

{This was more like 7 minutes; I awakened with this on my heart this morning–and fingers weigh heavy on keyboards when our hearts are heavy.}

You can click here below to go to Lisa-Jo’s site and see more 5 min. narratives on RACE–our one-word prompt for today…..
Five Minute Friday

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

Also linking with Laura for Faith-Filled Friday .

Do you struggle with fear of the love you have not being real, do you struggle in your human skin in your marriage? Do you struggle with fears of not having enough time to figure it out properly before it’s too late? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these doubts, these concerns? 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 Beauty, Amber 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!