Category Archives: God’s Art

For When You Just Need Life to Rise Up From the Decay

 

{An Abstraction on Rust}

 

**I am SO pleased to welcome our first writer from our #concretewords team today, my very dear and one of my best friends, Tammy Hendricksmeyer. Tammy makes me laugh on hard days, even when she isn’t aware I need to laugh. She calls me up when I’m facing a difficult trial and need encouragement. She threw me a lifeline and literally helped pull me up out of the recluse cynical-girl-without-community hole I was in.

She offered me a place that I could call a community home, with friends around, and with one of the warmest hearts I’ve ever known, she welcomed me in to be a writer there. She even allowed me to brainstorm with her for this new project she’d welcomed me to be apart of, Outside the City Gate. She called out talents she saw in me. She’s a gem of a person. I know you’re going to like her. And she just happens to be a great writer, too.

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The double gates greet me, their loose security swinging from a silver chain. Gravel crunches under the tires for a full-stop. I must enter, but first I need to unwrap thick links like a honeysuckle vine clinging to a fence. It’s only a minute or two, yet the pause is long enough to notice the Blue Heron flying from its perch not too far from my untangling.

Once I’ve freed the silver shackles, I’m ready to begin again, to continue my trek for home. Our driveway is a long one. There is a temptation to speed down its length and make up the distance in time, as if the sand is slipping too quickly in an invisible hour glass. But the bumps, the turns, the old cattle guard, they require me to slow my pace.

Some days, a pair of buzzards perch high up in a dead tree about the spot where the car dips down as the road lowers. They look down as if I’m an ant. But they do not own this place.

The straightest spot of the driveway is where the rust sits. Lots of abandoned metal greet any guests who venture here. There is much of it before there is any beauty. There are vacant places, or in-the-middle-of-repairing buildings, and metal skins of by-gone days. There’s even an old pink house from some turn of the century date that’s now lost among a rubble from years of neglect, but it stands tall enough for you to notice it too.

Rust clings here. Many places of the spreading disease corrode my view of redemption. And if I think too long on it, my face blushes hot of how such wastelands are seen before anybody arrives to Knockout Roses displaying splendor or where red brick stands on an old hay field.

But as I consider the word, I turn it over in my mind.

On the one hand, there is need for attention, for care, for tending and the decay tells me this has been too long in coming. Here, where the copper colored stains begin to crust corners of my life, I see where neglect has taken a toll. In the ugly mess, there is a story being told. On any given day, I must drive past the disease before suddenly meeting the wide open porches of redemption and grace. If only I could drive past all my guests’ wastelands too. Would compassion not rise from the rust?

Just one glimpse could change a lot, like a feed bin bowled over when knocked off its pedestals.

Weakened by plight, the metal lays on it’s side. Once a sturdy place for food, now has become part of scrap waiting to be carried off. It’s top facing the road at a perfect angle for a picture. So I snapped one, then more. The cylinder lid half open, as if murmuring a dying breath or word to me. Age now wrinkles in waves of reddish brittle coating. Food for thought has gone from the stomach to the heart. Although chicken pellets no longer fill it’s hollow belly, I’m nourished by what I can learn. Like a story behind every gravestone of a buried life, wisdom is born from what has died. A story is a mustard seed waiting to be more. Maybe then, the copper hues would share their wisdom that sprouted from adversity and death.

But rust can also be my thorn. The appearance of it like evidence poking my side with frailties and the danger of a soul left unchecked. Age has proven a place of revealing the deep hidden things, eating their way to the surface. Clearly, I see them now. But I lug them off for the heap, one by one, even as the corroding appendages humble me. It is here I am dependent most on the redemptive work of grace and mercy, for I must guard against condemnation and shame which attempt to smother the process of Truth.

For whatever the muse, I notice the rust. Some days with a bit of force and a handful of camera, I cherish speckled and hole-y pieces scattered among our fray. Occasionally, my hubby finds a small token buried under layers of Texas clay and sand. We dust it off the best we can and give it a place of prominence inside our house where redemption continues to churn. We salvage. We rescue. We search for copper-covered jewels to pull from mines of neglect and disrepair.

Perhaps my life is prone to it. I am in need of embracing gratefulness with ambition, of remembering this is tale of caution which reminds me of frailties. Among the fallen places where decay is marking a trail, is a Person who is pulling me from the miry clay. Dare I imagine Him standing over me, admiring my sidelong posture having been knocked off my pedestal?”

Would He not whisper, even in my coppery array, “Now that is pure beauty of a treasure, right there?” Much in the same way, I captured the bin. Even if I fail to understand, rust is telling a story, and on any given day, is telling mine too.

 

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Tammy is a writer, collaborator, and encourager of big dreams, who also has learned that inter-personal relationships can both wreck you and build you up.  She’s a renaissance woman who’s scattered pigeons at Notre Dame, swam the coral reefs of Okinawa, spent the night in a castle, but surprisingly finds herself now living on a farm in tim-buck-two, Texas. This poet at heart homeschools for now, throws her head back when laughing, talks her family into hair-brained photographs, and occasionally drives an ol’ John Deere tractor. She’s a visionary over here but spills her guts here.

 

***Will you do this with me, friends? Let’s explore the practice of Awakening to God–this still ties into listening–writing out our story with words that show, not just tell. We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #concretewords,  #listeningtoyourlife and also #awakeningtoGod if you like. Do me a favor and use these on social media and share with friends–invite them? Writing alone is no fun–but writing in community? Well, THAT is the stuff!

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. If you don’t know how to do these steps,

please email me for help.

 

Today’s prompt is Rust. GO!


{**This link-up will run until next Sunday at 11:59 pm, giving you plenty of time to write and link up. Sometime between now and then, I will read your stories and try to highlight one of them on social media! Next week, the prompt will be balloon .}

Photo credit: Tammy Hendricksmeyer

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For When The Noise Drowns You Out and You’ve Made an Idol of Your Writing {Again}

“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”–Mother Theresa

I can get so lost in how low the number of readers are or so preoccupied with my own worries and fears–you know the ones–

What would this side think of my writing, what would folks of this belief think, what if I lose readers if I write what I really feel, can I be vulnerable, how honest should I be, and one of the worst questions that plagues my mind at times: What is the point of writing when there are so many more that say it better and reach many more than I do?

And then I think this writing thing of mine will never go anywhere. I get disappointed, an unhealthy self-pity and hedonism sets in, and then anger holds my heart in its tight grip. In searching for myself and my happiness as a writer, as an artist, and co-creator with God, I forget the God that imparts the poetry and breathes life into my weary bones. I start to think it’s all about me.

And then, suddenly, like a slow dawning, an awakening, my eyes are opened, and I see myself thinking about myself too much–in one flash of a moment, my mind is completely clear, I have His mind, and I can see myself through his lens.

I have wrestled with this writing thing, oh, how I’ve wrestled. There were entire days I just stayed in my pajamas, barely ate, and wasn’t present with my kids because I was so engrossed in my writing, and I was steeped in unhealthy habits that had been rutted out during three years of ill health.

I felt so guilty for my need to create, to have something of my own, and I’ve struggled to find balance between the nurture of art and relationship. I’ve felt at times that God’s greatest calling for me was raising my girls and oh yes, it is, and who will be there for them if not I? But then, my heart screams back, why did God make me with this wild desire to create? 

A young woman at a retreat a couple months ago asked me why I started writing, started blogging. My tongue got heavy in my mouth and in slow-motion, I said to her, “I don’t really know, is the real answer” I went on to tell her who and what had inspired me, but the true thing about it all, was, I really didn’t know, and I still don’t.

I wrote a couple of pretty good posts after that, and people related well and they got way more attention than I possibly ever thought, and I was grateful.

But then the tide changed. 


{Friends, I’m at Bibledude today. Would you follow me over there for the rest of this story? I would love for you to tell me in the comments there how you’ve struggled in writing. If you have a question, please ask. Let’s wrestle this thing out together. } (((Thank you))) 

**Don’t forget, Ruth Povey will be leading the charge and guest-hosting Concrete Words Monday, July 1st. Come link up on our prompt, the Tainted.

This post shared with Jennifer for #TellHisStory Emily for Imperfect ProseMichelle DeRusha

God’s Paintbrush



“The only memories our children will have are the ones we live, not the ones we hope for”–Mr. Simmons

As the children and I are chit-chitty-bang-banging along down the highway, the sky demands my attention–a beautiful sunset of fuschia and pink like the color of tangy, bursting grapefruit; coral like the flaming underwater ocean-lined dance; true orange, like the grainy flesh of that round, florida-sweet orb, and purple like dark violets, all royalty, like Jesus coming swift on horse out of the heavens, lightening in His wake. And it is something I can’t describe, the way the colors are masterfully painted and displayed, the way they sway in and out like waves, are vast and high like mountains, low and earthy, lying in the very depths of the ocean and me all at once. And it leaves me joyously breathless.

I say to the girls, above the roar of the enormous trucks passing us up, ” Girls, do you know that God is the real, true artist, and us humans on earth are just imitators of His art?”

Lorna speaks up from the back and says, “Do you mean that God painted that? And what does ‘imitators’ mean?

Ivy says, “He used his paintbrushes to paint it like Daddy does and like we do when we paint?

I say, “Well, I guess you could say that He uses paintbrushes, but not the same way that we do, and what I mean about humans being imitators is that God was the first artist–He is the best and we can try to make our art like His–but we can never create it the way he does.”

Lorna helps, “Yeah, because He uses the whole sky as His canvas and we could never be big enough to paint the sky.”

“Exactly,” I smile-speak it, content in His truth and my children’s growing knowledge of Him.

A week later, Ivy and I are on the way to the store together, a rare moment alone for us, her sitting in the back, the distance seeming like the grand canyon because I yearn to make this moment stick but don’t know how, lost in the depravity of myself, of the draining of daily human needs, desires, and clashing and thrashing of a family like the waves upon a mountanious, sure rock, the waves losing the battle. And somewhere in between all of my grappling for the loving intimacy of this moment with my daughter, she interrupts my thoughts from her spot in the back, “Mama! Look at the sunrise that God painted in the sky!”

“You mean the sunset, Ivy?”

She says, “Yes, (giggle) the sunset…God painted a beautiful one for us today, all just for us, didn’t He?”

I laugh softly yes, and we putter happily to the store.

And God is the sure rock that we crash against, and I’m so glad He wins.

My gratitude:

#203 jumbo cartons of fresh strawberries and blueberries

#204 Bella’s blueberries lined up on the counter following “Mama Strawberry”

#205 family that doesn’t give up on me and loves me unconditionally

#206 Husband that, through all the heartache, pain, and this long road of chronic illness, loves me with such passion

#207 Husband’s note–“We will make it through this–never give up on us”

#208 Husband, though he is a man of very few words, shows quiet admiration when the girls show him work they have been doing at home with Mama

#209 When Ivy says, “We’ve been writing about why we like homeschooling today” and husband’s face beams when he looks into my eyes and i can hardly take it in

#210 how my babies smell of cocoa butter and pure heaven after bath time

#211 the contentment in the way our evenings unfurl in babies wet, grinning, and wrapped up in towels, supper at the table, a story, and Bella’s reminder: “i gotta brush teeth!”

#212 When i walk in the door, Lilly running excitedly to me, her little legs unsteady and rigid, but amazingly swift, arms wide, embracing and throwing her face into my legs

#213 new hammock that came in the mail–a dream made reality

#214 watching my children puddle jump in our front yard

#215 Husband that works hard putting hammock up to make his wife happy

#216 how he keeps his promise to complete the project, even after working long hours

#217 how when Bella chopped her hair off clear up to her hairline, and after i cried in horror and anguish, we were able to salvage her beautiful wheat-blonde locks and her new hair, befitting of an angel, made her fresh-faced and made her rosy, dimpled cheeks shine.

#218 how Bella looks at me, blue eyes looming sadness when i tell her that i was disappointed and sad that she cut her hair, and she says, “You cried?”

#219 communication and understanding between me and my four yr old

#220 white blooms waving in blue sky

#221 gentle breeze, bringing in fall

#222 bright green leaves, fluttering, hanging stubbornly onto branches

#223 me and mountain of children, bundled up in hammock, giggles and laughter spilling out the sides

#224 Husband rubbing my face, his caressing confession, and his desire for me

#225 how we can hurt each other so much with our arguing, but one look of love in eyes and we know why, after all this time, we are still doing this thing called marriage

#226 how God’s grace wraps us up in a soothing blanket of repentance, forgiveness, love and peace.

#227 blueberry and dark choc chip pancakes made by my girls–seeing them lovingly give of themselves and serve

#228 a trip to town with all my girls alone, going by to see our Granny, and finally accomplishing my goal of obtaining some essential oils from the health store–a big day of victory for me!

#229 my clunker of a van that won’t reverse

#230 Husband’s loving offer to grill out and his surprise for me when he returns from the store–a pack of salmon just for me (the non-beef eater)–such a gesture of love

#231 me cleaning silks off corn, washing asparagus stalks and taking them out proudly to Husband, all rubbed down and seasoned for him to place on the grill, and i can do this–though i wasn’t taught–i can be a loving, serving wife

#232 lying all peacefully tangled up with Mr. Simmons on our new hammock

#233 his admission–“This IS nice”, and a cute, boyish grin

#234 figuring intimacy out and having patience with one another

#235 and my favorite this week…1,000 gifts on audio and Mike Mason’s The Mystery of Marriage arriving at my door, sent by a friend made on the web in this grace-filled community! Thanking God for this precious friend!