Category Archives: music

A Woman of Grit and Glory::Calling the Art and the Music Forth {An Abstraction on the Piano}

I can see the piano gleaming in sunlight coming through the window off to the right and one just to the left, the old air conditioning unit jutting out of it’s breezy opening.

Her little house was so old, the tiles in the bathroom looked ancient to me. In my fuzzy memory, they were a faded color of pepto-bismol pink, and the carpet, an old brown color, trodden on by work boots and cowboy boots many a day. There were old frames holding family pictures hanging up above the couch, and newer ones of grandchildren. There were dusty photo albums and magazines, a very simple table with a vinyl tablecloth in the kitchen. It was a small, cozy house, windows just in spots to let lots of light in.

Every time I visited her, I was so drawn to that piano, the keys and old hymns calling to me, a part of my ancestry. I felt the history that was in my bones when I sat on that bench and was brave enough to let my fingers land on the white and black.

She would come and sit beside me. She had probably been knitting something, reading a magazine, or cleaning up the dishes. But she would drop that for music, and she was a born teacher.

Which is no surprise, given that she travelled around, doing tent revivals, preaching God’s word. This is where I come from; this is in my bones.

She laid her hands on top of my hands, showed me how to touch the keys, how to find the music.

Music was in our blood.

Music and God, and the art of letting Him make us.

She was a woman with much illness and grief in her life. If she could be here now, she’d tell you that her life was a hard road, but God saw her through. God never forsook her.

And no matter what she went through, no matter the mental illness that plagued and made the days hard, no matter the young three- year-old that died in her arms, no matter the man that was hard to live with**, she kept going. She just kept moving forward.

I would think all of that would break a woman, and I’m sure there were broken places she never told anyone about. It was a whisper she prayed to God in the shower, complained to Him as she cooked, as she worked, as she scrubbed, broken whispers, words coming out fragmented, like so much worship.

I know it would have broken me.

But she worked in the garden mercilessly, and she canned food to provide for her family during winter, and she stayed up late in the night with a teenage son who had a lot of questions about relationships and women and life. And she got up early with a smile and a Rise and shine and give God the glory!, and she never faltered, never fainted.

She. just. kept. going.

I only knew the music of her life as a small child, and only through very small windows of time, and oh, I have often wished mightily that I could have witnessed, watched intently, listened to the song of her everyday life, her rise and her fall.

I have often thought of her on bad days, when the depression gets the best of me, wondered what she would tell me if she were here. Wondered if she would pat my knee, tell me it’s all going to be just fine, just. keep. going.

Just keep trusting and leaning in. Keep making music with my life.

I remember her beautiful voice, how she knew the notes to the familiar hymns so well, and to hear her sing them was breathtaking, because you knew when you heard her sing, that it was gospel to her, it was truth, and she believed. Nothing could take that away.

I want to have that kind of grit and glory in my life. What a strong woman. I only pray the memory of her makes me half the woman she was.

She battled pancreatic cancer for years and years, but for a long time, the doctors didn’t know what her symptoms meant. When they found the cancer, it was too late, and all they could do was let it eat away at her body.

It did eat away at the song of her; she no longer had the vibrancy she once did.

She also had a stroke, and she grew thin, and she shuffled when she walked.

I remember her coming down to the house one day, shuffling up to my door. She had come to see her great grand-kids, and I was shampooing carpets. My couch was blocking the doorway. She asked for a picture of them, which I quickly got and handed to her.

My insides churn and I cringe that I didn’t stubbornly move that heft of couch out of the way for this woman whittling away, that I didn’t pour sweet tea and stop my scrubbing, my cleaning.

That’s a memory I’d like to forget–put out of my mind forever.

We could get lost in the grief of regret, or we can let God turn our regrets into redemption, our grief into growth and change.

I was there to see her final breaths, the rise and fall of her, and I recall how my father said what an awful thing cancer was because it stole the beautiful glow from his mother’s face. It took the vibrant red glow from her cheeks, her skin ashen, her once plump figure now just a hollowed-out reminder, and it was difficult to recognize her without her music.

The joy and beauty in her face, her smile, the way she always fixed her hair, and the way she loved–she made art with her life, she made music. It was a pleasant sound in God’s ear.

We all stood around her bed in the hospital room with its shiny, cold linoleum and bare, stark walls and with a huge lump in my throat, we sang the old hymns. She was so frail beneath the white sheets.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

That saved a wretch like me.

The piano, her piano, sits now in my foyer with the morning sun shining in on it, and my girls have learned to play notes on it. Notes I taught them. I see the little artist budding in them, and I hear the thrumming of God’s heartbeat, saying Don’t squelch it; honor it, nurture it, teach them to glorify me.

For years, I didn’t touch it. Maybe because it reminded me of all of the man-made, man-centered worship, and how something so holy as the inner sanctuary can be desecrated right in God’s sight as his children gather together. I didn’t know how to reconcile this, and my fingers couldn’t remember how to make the music.

I forgot how to be brave, how to be a woman of grit and glory.

But all of the music that’s in my bones, all the art that’s stirring in my blood, all of the morning song that I’ve stuffed down deep–He’s calling it forth.

Every time I walk by the piano and glimpse the hymnal book, I feel Him calling me to worship. And every time I gather enough courage to sit on that bench, and play a song, I can feel her there. And I hear the chorus rising, of long-ago tent revivals when people cried out desperately for God’s touch, and I hear the music played in a grandmother’s living room on a golden afternoon, the light slanted, her hands showing me the way.

**Important**Please read** By sharing this story, I am not advocating the idea that a wife should stay in an abusive, or unhappy marriage. I am sharing a story of one woman who did the best she could, in a time when divorce was unacceptable in her society. Today, women have better choices. I support women’s liberation from abuse, sex slavery, sexual harassment, etc.  
**If you are in an abusive situation, please seek the help of a professional


Friends, I appreciate you helping me get the word out–be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords. 

What this link-up is about: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, 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: fire smoke in the air, an old, tattered wooden swing, black rich dirt underneath bare feet, a woodpecker hammering at a birch. Go here to learn more of what Amber meant for us to do with concrete words when this all began. This will help your writing–I promise! 

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!
                                         6. Please leave a comment–I love getting to know you!
**Today’s prompt is the Piano


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Road. {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!

**Because of what I shared * here,I sometimes have to take social media breaks. However, I am committed to answering comments and visiting those who link up here! I hope you feel a sense of community and right at home when you are here. But sometimes, just a quiet place to reflect, pray, dream is what we need. So if you’re quietly reading, that’s great. If you would like to un-lurk, and leave me a comment, I would love to meet you!! . 


I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here. If you are here, know you are loved, and you’re the seasonin’ in my soup. 


{This post shared with AnnJen, Laura, Heather, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!) **When linking, please check out the one-word prompt first! Thanks!** 

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How Worship Is In The Broken Things {An Abstraction on Worship}

 Sunlight streaming so soft through the windows, and here I am in cut-off jean shorts and t-shirt, hands in soapy water, the suds are like large clouds I want to lay down in. Summer time comes through the blinds and the air-conditioning tries to keep up.

My hands scrubbing and scouring the blackened pots, it’s like I’m close to God because I’m a made-in-His-image-girl and I feel closest to His heart in the serving and the pouring of water on hands, on feet.

The water trickles and rinses off all the drought, all the dirt and scum. The worship music wafts on soap bubbles in the kitchen, and she croons and I listen to the story-song about a little girl who fell off her bike and hurt her knee, about a little girl needing Him desperately.

Come if you can, and you said, ‘I AM’

It breaks me, right there, staring at suds, and the intricate detail of iridescent colors, the warmth of the sink and the work making me feel alive. I’m singing along with her and the tears begin to fall, washing away the scum of my heart, and I’m a vessel broken, open, spilled, washed out for His use.

She sings about a little girl’s wedding day, about babies crying too much at 2 am, and I don’t know why, but there is a palpable presence in the room and I know Whose it is.

Come if you can, and you said ‘I AM’….

I’m broken, reminded what a sinner I am, because He comes to me when I least deserve it, when I’m really needy, and the most desperate.

And in that moment, right there, those four little words–Come if you can–they give voice to what lies deep, to the fear and doubt and this is real worship, to say what’s really in the heart.

No pretense.

Just real.

Talking to God like He’s a friend.

I’m convinced that He doesn’t care about altar dances late into the night, and endless prayers for hours for healing for the sick as much as He cares about one broken Come if you can.

Because it’s in the broken places that He’s nearest. That’s where He is really God. That’s where He’s strongest in us, when we’re weakest. That’s where we worship.

It’s a broken hallelujah He’s interested in, the broken hallelujah I offer up in the middle of the night, holding my baby, moonlight waxing the pine floor, rocking chair creaking. In a t-shirt and bare feet, with hair all haphazard and a bird’s nest in the very back where I’ve been lying, I rock her, and beg God in whispers so fragmented they are barely words and I cry.

When I go to church I don’t raise my hands and I’m the one sitting in a crowd standing because I have grown weary of shows and I refuse to follow a mere form. I’m no longer convicted of raising a hand being worship, and I’m almost sure completely that if I just close my mouth and listen, more worship takes place in my heart somehow.

The rebel in me is not a crowd-follower, but a Christ-follower.

My father sat in a pew once, arms crossed while my husband and I stood and worshipped. My three year-old child played under the pew. He leaned over to me later, said in my ear, “You know where I see the glory of God, if ever I’ve seen it anywhere?”

“In that child’s face.”

At the time, I thought he had absolutely lost his mind, and wasn’t altogether sure he wasn’t blaspheming.

But, somehow, being brought up Pentecostal and Charismatic, I am tired from the years that I felt I had to earn my salvation, had to work hard to enter the holy of holies, and I now see at thirty four what my father saw at forty-seven. What a crazy blessing.

To know that Jesus came to crush Satan’s head so I no longer need to work to be near God.

On this beautiful Sunday, I go outside bare-footed and swing my little ones on their wooden swing-set, lay out in the sun in my black bathing suit, hair tied up on top of my head, and slather on the coconut-infused oil while listenin’ to country music. It smells of tropics and I’m dreamin of a beach somewhere with eyes closed. My girls explore outside, getting their hands in the black dirt, so close to God, His good Earth in their fingernails, down in their skin, the sunshine strengthening our minds and spirits, and their laughter and my joy in them is worship to me and the flushed glow of their faces reminds me of glory and I feel like I’m in the Holy of Holies when I see her flying high up in the air, or I yell a little too loud, and I get to share the gospel with them because Mama messed up. Again.

I’m that battle-weary Christian, a little soul-jaded, who lets her hand slip tentatively up toward heaven in the sanctuary because it’s impossible not to when they sing those lines, that truth that makes my soul croon, makes me sway to a heavenly choir, leaning, ear tuned for that rhapsody, yearning for pearly gates.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect peace
A great high Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hand
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart. 



“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”

“The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). 

Gratitude: {1076-1082}

A friend who is willing to trade services and help me out by tutoring my girls

Getting to cut hair for my friend’s family and how spiffy they say they feel

Looking forward to a positive change for our family

Making up with Husband and how wonderful it is

The love Eddie and I make and how right it is and how it wraps us up in so much goodness

Giving husband a haircut and he beams proud like a new man

Packing for Jumping Tandem! Woo-hoo….(Scared and excited–pray for this introverted country girl?)

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: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, 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: fire smoke in the air, an old, tattered wooden swing, black rich dirt underneath bare feet, a woodpecker hammering at a birch. Go here to learn more of what Amber meant for us to do with concrete words when this all began. This will help your writing–I promise! 

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!
                                         6. Please leave a comment–I love getting to know you!
**Today’s prompt is Worship


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Sink. I will be out of town at the Jumping Tandem Retreat–the lovely Kimberly Coyle will be hosting for me. Please watch her blog for a #concretewords post! {Something new–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!

**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! 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 Ann, Jen, Laura, Heather, Emily, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

Let’s have some fun with concrete words! (You can join in anytime this week until the linky is closed!) **When linking, please check out the one-word prompt first! Thanks!**