Category Archives: marriage

Take Hold Of the Promise {An Abstraction on Bloom}, An Announcement and A Giveaway!!

**Trigger warning: This post talks about marriage and contains the words divorce and separation–if those are hard things for you to read about because of a fresh wound or experience, please consider that before you read. All my love and warm wishes your way….

I meet him at the door, his arms heavy with groceries and other leftovers from a long commute. He stares at me, puzzled by the look on my face. What is it? he asks.

Just–what a weary day, huh?

He exhales. Yes, a knowing in his eyes. We exchange a somber look of understanding.

I give him as much of a hug as I can with all the stuff in between us, and kids yelling with delight– Daddy! and I walk into the kitchen and begin unpacking everything. I smile to myself secretly —

He got all the things I like, the things that aren’t important to him, but are important to me–and he remembered. I feel so loved by this–this thoughtfulness.

I wasn’t always so easily pleased. There have been times early on in our marriage that I had to have things my way, because I was so afraid of being taken advantage of. The root of fear was so violent inside–God is slowly whittling that away. It took me several years to learn that love gives, and when love gives and is not afraid, there is this most odd dynamic that doesn’t make sense to us humans–we are fulfilled. And that kind of love only grows stronger. It has made my man love and protect and care for me even more–which is what I always wanted anyway.

Love always, always wins. Every time.

Four years ago I became very sick. Last year I was hospitalized for anorexia and other health issues. I was flailing, barely surviving. I was alive, but it felt like all of me was dead. When I got sick, I shut down. I disconnected emotionally from everyone in my life–even my sweet family. My mama said it was my body trying to preserve itself. Every day was a hard battle just to live. I’d lost the will.

There were times my husband had to take pills from my hands. We’ve been through a lot together in almost fourteen years– from a job that separated us early in the first year of marriage, through grieving over the loss of two babies, to dealing with addiction and illness together, even enduring the spiritual wilderness together and surviving marital separation.

Sometimes I feel like we’ve seen and done it all as a couple. But I know that life, and God, has so much more in store for us still. The days will be long, and the years will be short.

It has been a long journey, and there is still some mountain left to climb, but today I feel blessed.

I know what it feels like to want to live. I know what it feels like to fight tooth and nail to rise early in the morning to care for my children. I know what if feels like to carry around a heavy burden of fear that it will all end in divorce, only for God to speak a promise to me–

Every good thing I begin, I bring to completion.

And I have stood back and watched Him heal and make my marriage stronger than it’s ever been. I had begun to doubt that I loved this man, thinking God had somehow made a mistake with my life. And then a miracle happened.

He opened my heart wide to compassion and forgiveness and grace, and I know something for sure, as sure as I know my heart beats and there is breath in my lungs–

I absolutely love this man more than the day I married him.

I am on my way. I’m carrying on. I have a vision He gave. I’m being healed little by little every day. Even though in the last weeks I have not felt Him, have not heard Him speaking, He reminds me about the dreams– He’s been speaking to me through dreams–and it just took some time to see it.

He is always here. Emmanuel. What a loving Father He is, to get my attention in so many different ways. And being the proud Father He is, who wants the best for me, when I call on Him in absolute desperation, He is not angry or condemning that I didn’t come til now. Like the Good Father that he is, he is always happy to see me. This is a choice that I make, but He initiates, He prods. How lost I would be without that if it was all up to me.

And every day is a choice to keep moving in the right direction, to be awake to Him, to have my eyes open, to see Him in my life all around me–in the breath I breathe, in the pulsing heartbeat of child’s purple veins in her neck as she sleeps, in the wind, and sun, and rainy dark afternoon–

in bedtime kisses and stories, in make-shift gifts a four-year-old wraps up in a UPS box and presents to Daddy, in flowers brought in to me by chubby hands and placed on the sill in the light, in folded warm towels on top of the drier, in worship music soothing my soul as I clean, and rock and roll our beat as we roll down the highway toward the gym.

It’s a new day. I proclaim it. Sisters, listen up: Take hold of that promise.

Bloom.

——————————————————————————————————-

Lying there in the dark, he is asleep but something makes me come to a full stop. I’m so amazed at the marvelous miracle of love, that I reach up and gently trace the outline of wrinkles around his eyes, drop gentle kisses all over. I stare at him, and I am shocked at the overwhelming love that I feel for this flawed human being lying next to me. I love him, I love him, I LOVE him!

The tidal wave of realization and emotion washes over me. Memories, all the hard ones and all the good ones– 15 years– they all crash into one moment of mysterious miracle that only God could have performed.

And, I think, lying there– this must be what it feels like, not selfish love– the kind that drives us to look for someone to do life with and to make our own, no– selfless love– the kind that withstands all and keeps going and finds something deeper, surer.

I think–this must be what it’s like to bloom wide open into all I was designed to be.

linking with friends, MichelleLaura, Jennifer, Emily, and Heather

***Will you do this with me, friends? Let’s explore the practice of Awakening to God–this still ties into 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–Let’s not choose to only see Him on Sunday mornings-let’s not confine Him to a sermon or a prayer or a devotional, but let’s see Him in everything. Our prompt is Bloom (next week’s is below), but our focus is on the practice of listening, awakening to God, 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 Bloom. GO!


{**This link-up will run until next Thursday, the 17th 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 Path.} 

**An Announcement about the Writing Series: Kelli Woodford and I invited you here today for the wrap-up of the series and a link-up, but she had to go out of town this week for Faith & Writer’s Festival–lucky girl! So, we ask you to forgive us for postponing, and in the place of the link-up, we’re doing a giveaway! AND you are invited back here next week, on Wednesday, the 16th, when Kelli Woodford and I will be wrapping up the series with a collaborated post, and a link-up for all of you to share your writing journey! Be thinking of what you’d like to write and get your stories ready! We’ll highlight our favorite and feature it on our blogs!!


GIVEAWAY TIME!! WOOT! To win this book, just leave a comment and share this post on facebook or twitter! That’s all!! A winner will be chosen randomly.

What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language? 


A passion to follow Jesus. 

Katie Davis left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, is in the process of adopting thirteen children in Uganda and has established a ministry, Amazima, that feeds and sends hundreds more to school while teaching them the Word of Jesus Christ.

Kisses from Katie invites readers on a journey of radical love down the red dirt roads of Uganda. You’ll laugh and cry with Katie as she follows Jesus into the impossible and finds joy and beauty beneath the dust. Katie and her children delight in saying yes to the people God places in front of them and challenge readers to do the same, changing the world one person at a time.

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A Faithful Witness Established Forever {An Abstraction on Evergreen}



Take my hand, and let’s walk together, baby. See the evergreen, how it stands tall and sturdy like our love? It withstands the wind, the cold, and somehow the conifer’s rolled-up needles remain green, the life harbored deep inside its reservoirs, and the sun’s rays captured and trapped inside tightly wrapped folds, protected there.

 No winter can harm it.

The leaves beneath our feet, this path we trod, it speaks of a dying, a decaying so that new things can be re-formed. They aren’t completely new creations in and of themselves, because the blooms that die, their seeds remain and from those old parts of us, come a re-birthing.

You know I’ve always felt I was the one getting the better end of the deal, because you were kind, and patient, and I was the passionate, floundering one.

Only recently did we both ask the question, Did God really mean for us to be together? Why is this marriage thing so hard? And it seemed our world turned on its head, when daily life was so different from what we though it should be, and some very hard knocks came our way.

You know that time we had to separate for a bit, and divorce seemed to loom heavy and thick in the air, threatening to crush everything we’d always known to be true? That time seems so far away, because darling?

I’ve decided something in our thirteen years of marriage, and you know me, when I decide something, it’s concrete, set. What I decided is this: You’re mine, always. I want to keep you forever, no matter what hard winds come calling.

And you know, when vows are made, they tumble out easily, but the living it in human skin every day, the days all stretched out until they pull taut toward eternity, a horizon spread out with no end–that is quite a different story.

You ask me to not get dressed, and I giggle giddily when you come near. I put my hands in your hair, run my hand down along the side of your face, cup the jutted curve and concave of cheek bone and jaw. I look straight into your eyes, and touch the wrinkles around your eyes, run my finger along the soft crevices, and your skin feels like my favorite old leather chair, soft, warm and inviting, familiar and holding me.

Outside our window, the evergreen pines, their tops sway in the moonlit, velvet blanketed sky, and that glowing orb, she winks at us from her watchful place, a faithful witness in the sky And she’s established forever, by his hands, and so it is with us, a continuing line, held by Him.

At the touch of your skin, everything in me spins and I’m infatuated and breathless at the thought that though you are old and familiar to me, like the hallway rug worn down over years of sneakers and boots, your nearness excites me.

And babe, I’ve always told you when I’m angry with you in the middle of hurt, that when you touch me with your hand, the slightest touch, there on my shoulder, it melts me completely in spite of myself. And I tell you, you’re using your power over me, melting me with your touch. And you just laugh, and the painful, troubling moment is lifted with that alluring elixir.

You always say that it’s so surprising to you that I’m able to forget so quickly what’s happened in those moments, and I can just lean into you, wrap arms ’round, and hold tight. But darlin’, what you don’t realize is that I have no choice; I’m helpless when it comes to your love. And it’s a good thing, too, because the best kind of marriage is one in which two people are very good forgivers. This I’ve learned.

And we are witnesses too, darling. Take my hand, let’s do it together, you and I.

I know I’ll get lost in the nearness of you forever, though the crevices of your skin may grow deeper with time. I’ll reach up and run my finger along the lines of your face, and we’ll always be hidden, wrapped up, our life protected in Christ on high, stretching ever high as that evergreen in the star-banged night sky.

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 EvergreenGO!


**{This link up will run until Sunday, the 19th, 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 19th, the prompt will be Hands .}


For When the Romance Has Gone Right Out of You {An Abstraction on Fire}

Standing on a drafty, cold wood floor in the pink and white striped furry slippers he bought me, I’m stirring yellow cake mix, and the pot roast juice. I stick a fork in piping hot, bright orange carrots to see if they’re tender. The fork slides fast, all the way through. Red glows back at me from the stove top, its only use to create some heat in our one hundred year old kitchen.

I whip around to check the towel and footie pajamas in the drier for a cold, bath time straggler.

In a flurry of expectations, like a pressure cooker, slowly the steam begins to shoot out, forcefully, and I let words spew out.

I can be a hot tempered woman. I come from a line of them. Perhaps it’s the German and Indian blood, the German that came overseas about four generations back, the Indian that’s as close as my great-grandmother. I think I must have gotten a double or triple dose in the womb.

I so easily get all stirred up sometimes, and he knows me so well. He doesn’t mind at all that I’m passionate when we’re together alone, and the kids are all in their beds, warm, their footie pajama-ed feet all tangled up together at the end of my great-grandmother’s antique hardwood bed.

But this–this is different. This kind of passion requires much patience from him. He says a few words, and Lilly looks at us, and suddenly I can feel the weight of the room, and am aware of how my tongue is causing tension.

I tell him I just need a little understanding because it’s not easy to be at home 365 days a year, and have nothing to do but snuggle on the couch all day just to stay warm in the freezing cold.

I can see the mixture of incredulous disbelief, humor, and sympathy on his face. Incredulous disbelief and humor because getting up at four am in the eleven degree weather to drive to work in the dark, staying at home snuggling on the couch all day would be nothing short of heaven for him. Sympathy, because my statement smacks him in the face with honesty and the masks are off.

I feel badly for complaining as soon as I say it, but I need him to know the struggles that are difficult for me to speak about. It’s all a bit hazy, the way I see him, myself, the day we said our vows, now, the past, our future.

Things are not what I thought they would be. When we started out, I thought there would be all this fire, passion, that he would grab me for no reason at all on a sidewalk somewhere and swing me around, my feet would lift off the ground, and he’d kiss me like I was his forever.

But here in the freezing cold kitchen, with my four year old watching, all I feel is the numbness of this everyday tug-o-war, and I’m battle weary. I don’t feel the passion I think I ought to feel.

There is no fire to warm me as I look into his eyes and see a person that I love so fiercely, it can seem like hate.

The next moment, my head is buried in his chest, and it feels so warm and solid, holding me up and like I’m free-falling all at the same time, so peaceful, eyes closed. At his heart, I’m a baby curled up, such nurturing, such grounding I know there, if only for a moment before he turns away, so shy about intimacy.

My man, he does get me. He tells me to pour myself a glass of wine. Then I know everything will be alright. He’s caring for me; how that settles me, makes my heart beat slower. I take a deep breath, watch the red slosh gently into the glass.

I tell him I can sort of tell he’s irritable and I know what’s bothering him. Wives are intuitive like that. I tell him I’m going to cut his hair after supper. I say, you have to do something for me, though, because my legs are hurting and I need to rest. 

So he fixes the supper plates, and my daughter brings me one. They stay in the kitchen for a while, talking, apparently, about something very important. I slide under the heavy quilts and hand-crocheted afghans on the couch and go to sleep. I hear, fuzzily, as if in a distant dream, him helping the kids brush their teeth and getting them into bed.

He wearily makes his way into the living room, and Lilly is frowning. I ask him what’s wrong and he says she didn’t want to go to bed, so for tonight she’s lying with us. We all sidle up next to one another underneath the covers, sleeping on our huge couch because the bedroom feels like the arctic north, and our little heaters just can’t crank out that much heat.

He says he can’t even move his legs, the blankets are so heavy and we laugh. I ask him if he’s upset about his hair not getting cut, and he shakes his head.

I fall back into the pillow, thankful for grace, and Lilly and I are sharing cheek and nose rubs when he lifts his head, looks over his shoulder at me, says his goodnight– I love you.

I blink. Pleasantly surprised at my quiet man of so few words, I whisper, You do? 

I kiss him on the cheek, leaning over our four year old, and say You know the romance has just gone right out of us. Look at us–I wave around at the child between us and the blankets piled high and the cold living room, he turned away from me.

He half sighs, half laughs at me, because he knows why I say it. But the truth is, the romance never left.

It just took on a whole different look than I expected when I wore two veils and a tiara, and a cathedral trained dress fit for a princess.

Lying there, his love warms me head to toe, though the child is between us. Our bodies so close, one breathing, living organism, rising and falling of chests. The poetry of us, the grace, the love when we want to be irritable, the laughter–it’s so romantic. And everyday, I learn this fact all over again.

His love, the making of supper plates, the running to the store for sandwich bags and creamer, the saying nothing when I’m moody, the putting those rambunctious, energetic children of ours to bed, and the getting up at four am every. single. day, no matter what–it moves me, it makes me feel cared for, and it makes me look at him with adoration.

There’s fire between us, the literal product of our love-making, sandwiched right between us, a happy baby burrito. We love her and she loves us, and we love one another, and there is so much romance a Hollywood movie falls damn short.

“We are like butterflies who want to keep moving, keep flitting around and be free–but freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.. what we want even more than freedom is to be loved, and we can only be loved when we are truly known. It takes a  lifetime of tears, laughter, arguments, loss and conversation with another human being to be truly known. We have to be patient. Marriage is dogged, determined patience. It’s also one of the only ways we’ll ever truly know ourselves. Because to know ourselves we have to stop flitting and face our demons in the face of another person who serves as our mirror. Who reflects the best and worst of ourselves back to us…. love is not something to wait for or hope for or look for–it’s something to DO. Do not measure your marriage by how much love you feel today–measure it by how much love you’ve offered today. When you don’t feel love–DO LOVE. Feelings follow doing, not the other way around. Lasting, True Love is not about being swept off your feet. Sometimes love is just sweeping the kitchen and being grateful that there is a kitchen and a partner who is contractually obligated to share it with you forever.” –Glennon Doyle Melton

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” –Ruth Bell Graham

“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain.”–Ruth Bell Graham

 ——————————————————————————————————————

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 Fire. GO!


**{This link up will run for until Monday, the 13th, 7 am., giving you plenty of time to write and link-up before the next concrete words is posted that day. I will read your stories and highlight one of them from this link-up on social media on Monday, the 13th. On the 13th, the prompt will be Evergreen.}

Concrete Words: New Beginnings {An Abstraction on Soil}

Standing right there in the middle of the cold vegetables and fruits come right up out of the soft ground, he sent the text.

Tons of spider lilies in back like Jesus sprinkled his blood over our new beginnings. I know we have a long road but I liked the scene.



I cried on my Granny’s soft shoulder, a pillow for many sorrows over seventy-seven years, and then wiped my eyes and picked out some salad for an easy supper.

Sometimes marriage is like that, a long road to healing. Sometimes when we clasp hands and slide on matching shiny rings, crying for the hope that is to come, we don’t know we are broken and depraved and that there is darkness lurking in our hearts–darkness that Jesus means to overcome in us.

We don’t see how the hard ground must be tilled and tilled and rained on and battered by storms until seeds begin to take root and grow, the weeds plucked out.

We had argued about directions on the way there, and arrived so late that we thought we would not be able to even get into our cabin. The old guy waiting up for us by one small oil lamp light amongst a foresty-dark farm, said the cabin was a 30 minute drive away. Oh. We were thinking a little walk down the old pine boards and we could lie down on the antique frame together, fluffy old quilts a welcoming respite after a 7 hour drive, and fire crackling bedside.

We stood on the hard wooden floors, and waited as the bearded man retrieved his go-to direction sheet, the lamp’s light dancing a glow across handmade chairs and tables made only the way mountain-men can craft, their wood carved, not flattened through a planer, their edges left as nature intended. They were rough and beautiful. Hard and appealing, needing a sanding but still catching the beholder’s gaze with their uniqueness.

Old trinkets were scattered around, a wooden clock with a coo-coo bird, soft cushions, and beautiful pine. Already I felt a little at home.

But we were not home–not yet. After saying goodbye to the old man, we drove 30 more minutes, which turned into an hour, winding through dark, country mountain roads with poorly written directions and too tired to keep our tempers in check.

We finally found the drive, and the tires slowly creaked over gravel like even they were tired. The mountain trees we wound our way through, they beckoned and bowed over us, angels bowed before His glory and all of creation, even they in awe of His created beings.

A fire was kindled and started in that hearth and in that bed, and that heart-shaped tub.

My husband, he surprised me by getting up before me the next morning with the camera and capturing the light splayed in across a stunning display of antique tea pots, china and oil lamp placed so delicately and thoughtfully by someone on pine. God’s light shown through the small breakfast nook, the windows almost blinding and my feet shod in his peace, the path set before me with his illuminated word.

I had laid under the heavy quilts, a weight keeping me sleepy, while he brought coffee up the pocket sized winding stairs. They were handwrought, sharply-cusped and we had joked that there was no way any elderly person should rent this cabin and there should be a disclaimer. He walked over to the hem of me, fire thoughtfully hovering and fading a few feet away, laid the cup in my weary, heavy-lidded boned self, and I drank in the warm hazelnut deep like I’d never get another drop.

I can’t quite remember, but I think maybe he walked away with a contented sigh.

We had breakfast in a gloriously lit room, more pine than I’ve ever seen in one place in my entire life, and I could not help myself but take shots of everything, with people all around–the piano, the light underneath on gleaming gold petals, and the morning sun smiling in on couples murmuring perhaps little sweet nothings to one another.

We walked up the mountain together, started out on a hike too great for us, and my husband, he grabbed a stick for bears, but in my mind, nothing was too big for me to handle.

I guess I’m naively stubborn like that.

There is a fire in my bones, something that drives me, a passion, like a warrior Indian princess. There is Cherokee blood in me after all, my daddy says, coming down from his grandmother’s long raven hair, even in her old age.

Something about that mountain dared me to climb it, and my soul cried out You’re nothing! I want to be up there with you on the top, to shrink back from nothing and to see everything and to feel the icy-cold wind of freedom on my face!  

We trekked through bountiful fallen gold and orange, and then we slushed through snow, and it came to a point where he asked me to turn around because we were having to jump tiny creeks that only had rocks to leap onto. But in my heart, I could not turn back–I so loved jumping the rocks, the tiny waterfalls, and I dragged him along with me, squeezing through large boulders and snow, almost getting our feet trapped, feet that were not shod and prepared for this mission.

Every hiker that came down from the mountain looked at us like we were loony, but I truly believe I could have climbed to the top with only my Indian princess animal skins on (and fur boots made of buffalo of course).

We argued some of the way, and he nearly lost it for me pulling him so high up the mountain.

He said, honey, it is getting dark soon; all the hikers are coming down–the bears will be out and there will be no one to call to for help. The snow will only get worse from here and we are already drenched. Let’s head on back, please?

I looked up at the top of the mountain and it called to me. But so did my husband.

So I made the right choice.

And through great courage and discipline and solidarity of mind, I turned around and listened to the wisdom of reason, though my spirit wanted to soar free.

Courage can take many different forms. Sometimes it means just listening to reason when I don’t want to, and giving into something and compromising when everything inside is screaming NO!

Sometimes it is allowing God to prick the hard ground of our hearts and till up soil, to call up a friend when it’s been a while and say I’ve been thinking of you, and though things have happened, my love for you has never changed.

It may be confronting that great, big mountain of fear in our lives and trekking up the steep, smashing boulders when all we want to do is turn around and go back down.

Or it could be going around a mountain that’s not meant for us to tackle, and God says there’s a better way, perhaps a harder way, in the deep places where the evil things lurk and we must get our swords out, fight and pray.

Maybe it’s as simple as plucking up some of that hard ground of our hearts with His truth, and asking a friend for forgiveness, or going over to a neighbor to help or ask for help when we’ve been wounded.

Maybe it’s in admitting we need help to someone we trust. And healing comes. And when those we trust betray us, we release it to Him who was broken completely and totally into and is our Comforter, and we just keep loving, and healing comes.

There are always new beginnings for our woundedness and there is nothing God can’t tackle, but we have to let Him give us the grace to allow Him to do it in that hard soil.

Then, maybe we will look out and see the red burst into bloom, scattered bloody all around shooting forth, up and out toward the sky, grace, forgiveness, freedom, joy, peace, righteousness, goodness, love, forbearance, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

There are always new beginnings…in Him. And we are saturated in it.

 Now let’s have some fun with Concrete Words! (Please keep writing centered around the prompt:SOIL Thanks!)

A Proclamation: The Banner I Wave Over Us Is Love {Five Minute Friday}

In this moment of kids slamming doors and screaming too loud,
of one sister calling out Mama, she hurt me, of another running across
the top cushions of the new couch,
I don’t yell back,
I look in their angel faces
I give them gentle, firm instruction
I stay here with them,
day after day
in the grueling every day
struggle for relationship work of it all
I relish in the joy of their childhood
and when their eyes flicker happiness,
it reflects in mine.
In these moments of anger
and arguments
of wanting to run, of desperately needing my own space,
I stay here with him,
I look him in the eye, tell him I love him.
I show him I’m willing to do the hard work
I’m not afraid of the humble work
It’s a banner I wave over us,
It’s a banner of love
It’s a proclamation here and now,
I will love fierce, and nothing you do will change that
I’ll stay here and I’ll love on
for the always and forever
Our souls eternally entangled in God’s great grace
It’s a blood covenant I make
when I leak out, my love runs red
I’m stretched and torn
And I will keep giving, keep loving
In these moments when sickness is at our doorstep, and invades
for these years
and the darkness tries incessantly to encroach upon us
Husband labors for me, he toils
He watches over me fierce and strong,
my rock
He doesn’t give in, and when I’m all over the place
he is never-changing, firm and solid
reflecting heaven
and the banner over me is Love.
for the always and for forever
It’s eternal
and has nothing to do with feelings
or with me, or I or mine
It’s never changing, always believing the best,
always hoping and never stopping.
We never stop being here.
Eternally.
Together.

**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 HERE.

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer(s) I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords are:

Maryleigh of Blue Cotton Memory for her piece, Soul Stories in Dust Jackets
Kelli Woodford of Chronicles of Grace for her piece, The Rising 

Five Minute Friday

When Your Voice Is Silent {Fear Day 26}

This week, I’m working out fears in my marriage {And I haven’t even begun to touch it, I think–is that ever a deep well. But God. Come back tomorrow for a few thoughts on growing old in marriage}.

And on Fridays, I link up with Lisa-Jo at lisajobaker.com  for a sort of flash writing mob–and I write for five minutes, no editing, back-tracking, or over-thinking, with just a one-word prompt. If you’d like to join, find Lisa-Jo’s button below…



GO.

Sometimes the voice is silent within
My real voice
You only hear me when I get angry, Love
Words of frustration come out louder
But inside there is a deep well of silence
Of things unsaid between us
Things I don’t know how to say
I pray for voice to come out wise and strong
I ask Heaven for peace to reign in this tongue
There are so many things silent, Love
And perhaps some things are better left unsaid
There will be a time for all of this inside of me to unfurl
But I came from tongues that knew no bounds,
Voices that always had to be heard
Making their wounds on their exact mark
And God has gently led, quieted me some
And in the dark, here in the thick of it, in the sweltering
I lay here with you and I give myself over to you
In the quiet, in the gentle peace of it
In the quaking, and the making of love so powerful on holy ground
And I take my shoes off,
And I lament who I’ve been, and repent of my hard heart
And I give myself over, Love.

STOP.

{Today’s one-word prompt was Voice.}
If you’d like to join our writing flash mob? Click below…

Five Minute Friday

 

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

Do you struggle with fear– of no having voice in your marriage–is it something you see God teaching you wisdom in–the tongue? Is marriage not turning out quite like you thought? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these fears in your marriage? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


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

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

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

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

An Abstraction on the Chain {Fear Day 22}




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

GO.

                                                                                                 

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

                                                                                                     photo credit


STOP.

Today’s one-word prompt was LOOK.

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

Five Minute Friday

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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.