Category Archives: nature

Bold Enough to Declare It {An Abstraction on Serve}





Last week I wrote about my friend and that conversation–well, when I sat down to write, my intention was to write about listening, and did not know it would go that direction. But that’s what our listening does–it takes us in a direction different from what we expect. It takes us deeper, over, under, and there is really no way of knowing where we will end up next and how we will meet God and this is exciting to me, not because of a feeling, necessarily, but because of a truer knowing about joy and peace. God, out of the box–me, wild and free, and I’m learning He is a very wild God. He won’t be tamed.

God is working His freedom in me, and I don’t know where to start, or to end, and I settle on just staying somewhere in the middle of it all, where Spirit is speaking and shaping.

I step into the shower and try to listen to the Spirit. I had told her, I need to step away, to try to hear God. 

When circumstances are dire, and we don’t know what will happen to our marriage, or what will happen when vices feel they are taking over, or when we feel stuck, we need to hear God. And sometimes our need is rooted in fear. Maybe He’s saying just be still. Listen. Maybe you are here, too.

Maybe there is a vice, maybe there is a stronghold, some bondage in your life you want to be free from? They all look different for each of us. They come in many forms, don’t they? Legalism, bigotry, alcoholism, drug addiction, pain, abuse, chronic illness, a marriage that is falling apart, generational curses, cancer, or maybe we are just on the outside, looking in the stained-glass windows, wondering where the real Christians are. The audacious Jesus-followers, who love black skin, white skin, red skin, yellow skin, who put mud on the eyes of the blind, and revel in them becoming whole, who love the gays and the straights, the outcast and the upper crust. Because yes, even they need God, too, and who are we to tell God’s Spirit how to move?

When He moves, I want to move with Him.

Jesus bent low to wash the feet of those who felt undeserving. I’m starting to believe bending low is what He’s called me to, and to me this means bending over a bathtub when my back is breaking to wash littles’ bodies.

I let the water from the shower-head pour over me, on full-force, hard. It feels like a cleansing, all the cold and the ache of the day slides off, down to the drain.

Some things can’t be said out loud. I wish I could tell you, and in the sister-Mennonite fashion I experienced at a retreat a couple years back, you could say, “We hear your story, sister. We acknowledge your pain, and we celebrate your healing.”

But as I said, some things should not be uttered. Not yet. Maybe not ever? When God moves, I want to move with Him.

But I do know this: We are all human, with real struggles, aren’t we? And we all struggle with pain, and we all struggle with bitterness, and we all struggle to serve. I know I do.

Saturday I go on a bike ride with my daughter to the store, because the van is in the shop, and with my hot pink hoodie covering my head, we ride much further than we plan to, and with the sun on our backs, and the cold slicing at our hands on handlebars, the earth and wind licks our faces and hair. And we are soaring. We sing. She tells me about her favorite song. It’s about worship and bowing, that God is God.

The bag from the store swishes against the tire’s tread, and spokes whir. I think about how close God is. She tells me she doesn’t understand what eternity means in heaven, like why we will spend so long there, forever. Will it be boring? And Mama, you know how the generations just keep going on and on–women have babies, and then those babies have babies, and those babies have babies–and then we just all go to heaven–I don’t get it.

I tell her the only thing I know– Well, we’re here for His glory –to make His glory known in the earth– and it really isn’t about us–it’s about God, y’know? What I forget to tell her, caught up in the burn of quadriceps, is that God wants us to be happy, here, in this moment. I will tell her later–there is time. Mental note.

When you talk about listening and serving, don’t expect God to just let you talk about it. He will want you to act. His Spirit will lure you, He is good at this. And, I am tired of just talking.

So Sunday, I’m standing outside, drinking my morning cup of coffee, stroking my huge, black baby of adult male cat, and I think of my sweet neighbor, who gave him to me, and good things come out of her home. I look up, and see her husband, Mr. Joseph*, standing in the yard. I feel pulled, so I go over. And no, the fact that he is black doesn’t keep me from doing so. They are my friends.

Mr. Joseph* and I, I swear we preach to one another, standing there in the yard, Sunday morning sun beaming down on us, his cigar in hand. He says he accidentally drank too much the night before, and so he isn’t going to church. We talk about a lot of things–how we meet God right where we are, and it’s not necessarily within four walls. I tell him I’m not going to church either, and he isn’t alone.

He tells me how his grandfather was a pastor, and his grandmother always told him and his seven siblings, if you gonna come in late on Saturday night and lay your head on my pillow, you best be ready to get up and go to church on Sunday morning. He tells me that color doesn’t matter–he can get just as much from a white preacher as he can a black one. I tell him I agree.

And did I tell you we are in the deep South–in Mississippi? 

The girls play on the playground on Sunday evening, and there is a raucous, a drumming noise as they run and play–all the children, black and white and Mexican too. But the clamor and chaos is a pleasant, beautiful sound. They don’t fight, don’t run over one another, they don’t bully or chide, or make fun. They are playing a game of tag. And it makes me smile. They all place their hands on home base, to pick the first one to be “It”. All their little chubby hands, so innocent, black and white, intertwined, and I exhale–think how grand would it be if adults did this too?

Yeah, everything in God’s earth speak to me, and listening is teaching me to create an altar to worship right where I am.

I go outside late at night, and walk in the dark, the earth sinking under my feet, water bubbling up in its place, and the trees are bare and stark against a late-night sky with surprisingly mauvy-pink glow. I like to think God has drawn a curtain of prayer over me. Jesus is always interceding. I feel as blanketed and peaceful as a sleeping babe. Yes, He speaks to me here.

I just need to be bold enough to declare it.

                                                             *names changed to protect people in the story

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

What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too.


A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             and the prompt–Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising,
                                             or sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords–
                                               please share so others can join!

Today’s prompt is Serve. GO!


**{This link up will run until next Sunday, the 23rd, 11:59 pm., giving you plenty of time to write and link-up before the next concrete words is posted the following day. Sometime between now & then, I will read your stories and highlight one of them from this link-up on social media. On the 24th, the prompt will be Slippers .}


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too.


A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             and the prompt–Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising,
                                             or sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords–
                                               please share so others can join!

Today’s prompt is Dirt. GO!


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

For When You’re Cynical and Can’t Find Faith for a New Year {And a few blog posts I love}



The north wind blows hard down south, coming in and seeming to pick me right up off the ground. It whips all around, and I can’t tell from whence it came.

It’s like that with the Holy Spirit, how He whispers quietly, What are you doing?, and it makes me pay attention.

I’m not always sure where He came from, when or how he suddenly showed up, if He was always there, and I just didn’t notice, or if it’s really me talking to myself crazy, and I’m not hearing right.

The New Year can blow in hard, and it can seem this big impossible thing to tackle, this mountain that can’t possibly be moved by this iron shovel in my determined hand, much less a mustard seed.

One thing I’ve learned in all my short thirty four years, is that I can’t make hard lines for myself in the sand, stout immovable resolutions that don’t leave room for me to mess up, for him to pick me up gently with grace, or for Him to whisper quietly when I’m going the wrong way.

Christmas came and went, and I was so confused and dismayed and unsure at what my convictions were or where my faith was at all. Faith can seem so small next to the grandeur of Christmas and the Christ child. And Christmas magnifies what we are feeling.

I just could. not. feel. my faith.

And so I just gave into it. When the Holy Spirit whispered gently on the frost bitten chilly breeze, What are you doing?, I just listened.

I pondered. And I tried to be reverent.

I thought about storing the treasure of Him up in my heart. But my heart was conflicted, sore, split right open, calloused and cold to hide the blood pumping soft and warm underneath.

I gave myself over because it’s all you can do when you don’t know the way, and you aren’t sure in your human depravity who it is speaking, whispering, nudging. All you can do, is place that mustard seed in His hands, and say Here, this is all I’ve got. Do something with it, Father.

So 2013 was hard, and in the same cynical fashion, I allowed myself to keep snowballing, thinking the new year is going to be even harder, and Who cares if the numbers change, because it all still feels the same to me, and I’ll just mess this up too.

One continuous cracked, fragile failure after another turned avalanche, and the momentum seemed it would take me under.

Until… Until God.

Until I listened long enough and pondered enough that I knew, I just knew He was telling me You’re not made for this, no, I have created you for *this*, this thing here, see this thing? How beautiful, how right you are for it, and you know, daughter, you have worth too?

He showed me Hope.

And He kept whispering to me that it’s okay to embrace who he made me, my talents, my skills, all of the silly, wonderful, quirky, crazy, amazing things that he wrapped up all in one person and called it beautiful.

He just kept whispering and I just kept listening until I believed it.

I would turn away, afraid to believe, afraid it was all a lie, and a trap just to hurt me again, like in the past when I believed I could do something and went out on a limb, only to be ridiculed and humiliated by those who should love me the most, His own. My own brothers and sisters.

And therein lies my greatest faith struggle and my greatest setback to all the dreams He’s called me to realize.

But even though we turn away, He always gently cups our face, and pulls us back, and he gently whispers again, a lover wooing his bride, coaxing her to just give into love.

He just kept whispering it, you know? Like the beat of a bleeding heart, a drum that thrums over and over and over again, and with every beat of his heart, I found mine as I continued to listen to his pulse for life, and for me, and for all of creation.

If we listen quietly, long enough, we can hear it.

It’s all around us, the thrumming, drumming, pulsing beat of his heart for us. 

It’s grace raining down, and it’s a father picking up a child when they’ve fallen from their bike, and it’s the light in a newborn’s face. It’s the sacredness in a family holding hands around the table, and it’s the breathtaking holy in mom and dad and kids all laughing like heck because there’s only one life to not botch up, and it’s the gentleness in the cashier’s face at the quick stop, it’s in the kindness of the stranger behind you who pays for the difference when you’ve gone over.

Can you see it?

The rough callouses of his hard working hands, and her old, wrinkled, clasped hands, as she fervently prays.

It’s in the special need child’s understanding grin and affectionate hug, it’s in the hospital staff’s genuine care during a very difficult stay, it’s in a body of believer’s just being there when times are tough, it’s in a child’s first acceptance of Christ.

The father’s smile when he wakes from heart surgery, the trusting conversation between men of different races, the mutual respect between heterosexual and gay friends, it’s the baby dedication when an entire body vows in unison to assist the parents in raising children who love God,

the rise and fall of lovers, the searching and exploring of hands and lips.

It’s in bubbles blown, fragile iridescent orbs popping in summer breeze, and gold light spun out across the floor and the piano’s gleaming pedals, calling you to play, and it’s in your child’s voice, luring you toward the trampoline and their cheers and giggles when you mount and begin to jump and enjoy life,

the warmth of hot chocolate going down and it’s in the steam of a hot bath and the cool of fresh water from the arcing spout of a hose in the middle of July.

It’s in the howling wind, and the night sky banged out with a zillion stars combusting so many light years away, but shining in brilliance here and now, in this quiet moment, and it’s in the mocking jay’s echoing song, and in the leaves that fall, and in a coral pink sunset that he paints across the sky if we’ll only notice. It’s in pines that sway tall and swirl with pleasant earthy scent, it’s in the soft, snowy buds that flurry and fly off the wild plum tree in spring, it’s in the warm, giving hug of a child, and it’s in your daughter’s prophetic encouragement, Don’t worry, Mama, when I have babies, I’m sure you will be the first to hold them, upon sensing your sadness at the baby growing up so fast.

And in all this, God is whispering, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here. I’m in the innocence of a newborn babe’s face, I’m in the Catholic priest’s quiet, disciplined communion, and I’m in the African American’s wild, freedom dance.

He’s telling us with each pulse, each beat, in this throbbing, thrumming, quiet sort of constant love All of this is for you, can you feel me here amongst you, do you see my creation, know my grandeur and glory, recognize me as Father?

He peels back the thick crust from my eyes, and He gives hope. He lets me know I was made for more than this doubting, this believing I’m nothing, this unfeeling life, numbed to faith.

He gives hope, and I see him. I grab on with a fierce grip, let him pull me back up. I hold on tightly, though the cold wind of doubt blows hard right through me.

Open your heart to really see, open your eyes to wonder… the right way for us to gain perspective in the middle of doubt and cynicism… His thrumming, constant love for us all around, heard around the world, if we listen. He loves us, we have a hope, a reason to hold on, to believe…

Some posts I’ve enjoyed lately, some new things I’ve happened upon. Check them out.

Outside the City Gate {even lepers have a colony} I love, love, love this. *And* it happens to be headed up by some amazing, head on their shoulders, down to earth, friends of mine, Kelli Woodford, Diane Bailey, and also Tammy Hendricksmeyer, who I know through writing as well.

From Chains to Keys an amazing write by my friend, Kelli Woodford. You must read this, if you ever felt the things of the past haunting you.

My One Word 365: Dwell Alia does it again. She blows me away with her writing, and her heart.

She Loves Magazine: Manifesto: Let Us Be Women Who Love This is beautiful.

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!)

Cowgirl Manure-Princesses Get A Seat Next to Daddy {An Abstraction on the Truck}

I can hear Daddy tromping quietly as he can through the house, and my young ears are tuned into my father’s leaving even in slumber. Sunlight rays hit my blonde locks, and all of the sudden I know it’s morning. I know what’s coming, and I’ve caught him before he can make his getaway before the rooster’s crow, so I rub sleep out of my eyes and throw the covers back hard.

“Daddy, I’m coming with you!”

He’s shoving his brown, weathered boots on, lacing them.

“I’m leaving now; I don’t have time.”

“Please, Daddy! I can get dressed real quick, I promise!”

My little sister is chiming in now, too; she’s three years younger, only about three or four, her dark chocolate hair all disheveled, looking adorable falling around milky chubby cheeks.

He ruffles around for his wallet, looks for keys.

“Alright, alright, if you can be dressed in five minutes, you can go, but that truck is pulling out, whether you’re dressed or not!”

A thrill runs through me and I fly to my room, throw on jeans and a t-shirt, frantically look for my socks and shoes.

I know what this means as I dash around: I get to ride in the truck with my Daddy, and feel the hum underneath my bottom, feel the lunge and pull as he changes the gears between my legs, eat ice cream sandwiches with him, drink coke, and play in dirt and hay in sunshine and chase cats in barns.

I run outside and climb up into his pickup truck, which is nothing more than an old blue Chevy-style cab with a white work truck body which holds all his tools. And I love riding in Daddy’s truck, because it smells like him, like gasoline, and horses, and sun and sweat. There’s horse hair and dirt and grit and I’m a little cowgirl so I don’t care. We pull up into this winding gravel drive, out in the country, trees heralding our coming, waving at us along the drive, and my body tingles with excitement to see what kind of place this will be.

He pulls around to the barn, and it’s huge, and I love that because that means lots of horses, and a large tack room to explore, and probably cats and maybe, if I’m lucky, even kittens. But then I look out of my window and on the other side of the truck, I can see a huge open field with bales of hay.

Daddy lets us roam free while he shoes the horses, and my sister and I run down a little path from the barn, downhill into the open field, summer sunshine on our face, and we run toward the bales of hay, and I’m thinking I will climb on top and jump from one to the other. They look small and close together from the top of the hill. We get closer and climb and climb with all our might and then see that jumping over to the other one isn’t gonna happen. We have our fun with the hay until we’re bored with it; the scent of it reminds me of a hundred summers. We run back uphill to a large mound of “dirt” we saw.

We play and play ’til our hearts content in that pile and get as mucky and grimy as we like. Daddy tells us later it was really manure. Tiny cowgirls are like that, see, we’re not afraid to get down and dirty.

We trod earth and make our mark and nothing is too big in this open field of life and no hay bale is too high in our mind’s eye. Nothing can stop us or stand in our way, and if it tries we’ll give it a kick in the pants with our cute, worn-in cowgirl boot.

We stomp this ground, make it our own, and climb the mucky manure mounds to get to the ones we love, to save them, we would climb over a thousand of them, and we do our native-dance that tells the story of how our hearts are tied to this land. It rips out of us in an unbridled, involuntary way, because it’s nothing we control–it’s the way we were born. It’s where we were born.

I’ve made this land mine for the day, though it belonged to someone else, and it’s made me. It’s become apart of me, the red earth, the thick scent of it in my bones, the sunshine warm on me and it’s all I ever wanted, to run free in a field, to be one with the dust from which I come.

When it’s time to go, after Daddy’s packed up all the tools, and we’ve petted all the horses in their stalls, been brave enough to rub their soft, silky mouths, we jump back up into the truck. I ride by Daddy. You know, Father doesn’t care if little girls roll in manure, there is always a seat by Him. He stops and lets me pick out a Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich, my favorite. I feel Daddy changing the gears between my knees, moving them in rhythm, I’m anticipating the next gear change. I hear it grinding up and he pushes, clicks it into place again and now I can relax my small, bony knees.

I watch Daddy’s big, strong, calloused hands, his fingers so thick, his fingernails bruised and pieces of nail missing, and I know it’s from all the hard work, the toiling to make a way for us.

My sister licks her ice cream beside me. The hot southern summer sun beats down, the wind blows hard in the windows as we fly down the highway, and I feel like a princess next to Daddy, a cowgirl manure-princess.

Gratitude: {even when it’s hard–especially when it’s hard}

all of my family being in church together, three generations–grandparents, parents, and my family…

my mother asking me to sit with them on one long pew, though I would prefer to be unseen in the balcony, I make her happy, and it’s not that bad…

Easter dinner at my house with my family…

conversation with my Daddy about things important in life…

sunshine in the girls’ hair; I never tire of this…

Easter games in the rain made up by my creative daughter….

a rainy afternoon and egg hunt in the house, chocolate “Life” flowerpot cakes for dessert…

our beautiful grace garden and the beautiful little butterflies the girls and I made…

the tiny, miniature clothespins holding them together, reminding me of the frailty of life…

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 use the prompt to write out a story, a memory, a feeling and make me feel what you felt, describe the scene around you, the textures, the emotions, the tastes, smells, the light. Tell me what you touch, see, hear…

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


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Moon.

**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 AnnJen, LauraHeather, 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!** 

A Stirring {An Abstraction on Spirit}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Truck.

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


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


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

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

The Rhythm of Rest {The Way of A Child}


I lie down in a grassy field, roll down it’s hills, and the rolling it could go on for days
for a child carefree
The sun melts me, revives me, sets me free
I love it’s light on my face
I squeal and scream and I hear the muffled squealing of her next to me
That the lumps and bumps mush up against hips and backs doesn’t matter
I don’t feel the thorns, just the rolling, the excited tremor
like waves, lapping against my legs, my face
the warmth of the orange orb on my face
I feel it always in summer time
How free I am
I relax in it’s rest,
Free fall into it’s arms and drift off,
like ripples gently pirouetting on a lake
I watch them keep rhythm
And the steadiness, it drums, and I hear the music all around
It’s humming me to sleep
The birds call as I pick spider lilies on the hillside,
I take them into my mother, with a smile and she mirrors me,
twinkles, and she gives them water, places them on the sill
I run back outside in a whoosh,
roll down the hill again. laughing.

How free she looks, friends. Can you see it, feel it? I want to be just like my kids when I grow up.

On Fridays, I link up with Lisa-Jo’s community of flash mob writers to write for five minutes, no back-tacking, no editing, just for the fun of it, to remember why I love writing, to not worry if every i is dotted and every t is crossed, to write like I mean it and leave it that way. Honestly, I’ve never had more fun–if you’d like to join in, or read more, look for Lisa-Jo’s button below and click.

“This is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and sharing ’em over here.”–Lisa Jo

Today’s word prompt was REST.

Five Minute Friday

Spread Wide {Five Minute Friday}

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

GO.

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

STOP.

{This week’s prompt was wide}.

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

Five Minute Friday

When All the Shoulds Threaten To Choke Out Life {And 9 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Habits}

She wanders out to her chair in the dappled light, warmth filtered through the leaves of a shade tree above, and she just sits, defeated. All the needs weighing, all the ‘you should do more’s’ pressing in, threatening to choke. The thoughts come furious. “You should text that person a thank you; you should finish those gifts and send them; you should write those birthday thank you’s with the girls; you should be getting up earlier, spending more time with them; you should be teaching piano to them; you should be a better wife; you should be more committed to being a better writer, artist, pianist, and you know you should get more sleep, and you should get in there and get today’s stuff done or the clock is going to leave you right behind or drag you down with it” and on and on the kaleidoscope turns, mixing all the colors ‘til she feels sick.
She tells God she is at the end of her rope, that she needs him to take over. She prays he will calm her beating-through-her-throat-heart. And she tells him that all the hard work she’s been doing to teach the girls better, more godly habits—all the scriptures copied and quoted—all the toiling and it’s really her that needs correction and discipline.
I’m the one who needs teaching, Father,” she whispers.
“I’m the one with the bad habits and the hard heart.”
And right there, there it is. What she knew was coming and didn’t want to face. She breaks and weeps. It comes out in a child-like sob. And the glory of Him arrests her and captivates for a moment, and she knows what must be done—a throwing off, a putting off of that heavy cloak of bondage she’s been wearing, and a putting on of the royal robe He’s offered her.
She knows that it’s all too fleeting, that her heart isn’t so consistently pliable, and she wonders if the prayer is all in vain, if this moment of intimacy between her and her God will be forgotten in the forward, furious momentum of life.
Her thoughts are scattered by a child yelling out the door to the backyard, calling her name, the one given that means “I need you”.
She thinks to herself how she is always so easily distracted, so many voices calling her name.
So she makes a feeble attempt.
“God don’t let me get so distracted by all the work, all I try so hard at, that I forget you.
Please give me peace, more than that—be peace through me—reign in me.”
She lifts her face up to the dappled light, and closes her eyes, tries to breathe. And God’s breath is breathed upon her, a lover’s kiss. She hears the birds’ chorus song all around, the beautiful lilting and descending of beautiful melodies, and she can imagine weathered fingers playfully, oh-so-lightly touching keys side by side, the notes in and out, in and out.
She opens her eyes and goes to mother the little one calling.
 
How to nurture good habits…. {What God is teaching me…for the sake of the children and my sanity…}:

1.       The healthy habit of prayer–Pray and ask for help—He will give it. Asking him to give creative ideas.

2.       The healthy habit of time-outs–Moms need time-outs. When everything is overwhelming, and the clock is ticking and the world spinning with all that needs to get done, sitting the kids down with a book, some sentences to write, or a movie and going outside to breathe, close eyes.

3.       The healthy habit of community–Being open to the ideas of others, not hesitating to put new things into practice, new changes that bring healing, wholeness, and healthy rhythms.

4.       The healthy habit of safe rhythms–Creating safe rhythms—supper, bath time and bedtime at approximately the same time every day. Not adding so much to the schedule that you feel your head is going to pop off—if we can’t keep up, the kids sure can’t and we are a better mom when we are at peace.

5.       The healthy habit of sleep—{this should have been first!}–Everyone in this home needs proper rest—else we can’t function as a godly, loving family! Doing whatever it takes to get everyone in bed—if that means a warm, lavender bath for me or for everyone, melantonin and sleepytime tea for me and sometimes for the oldest girls too {insomnia is a common problem in the tween years and beyond}….

6.       The healthy habit of proper nutrition—When we are all getting raw, natural foods that contain vitamins and nutrients that we need, we feel better physically and mentally, we cope with stress better, and there are less melt-downs and more productivity and godly attitudes and we don’t hit those depressing, severe lows that sugar and nutrition-void foods bring.  

7.       The healthy habit of correcting in love—I am learning that “Yelling at a flower doesn’t make it bloom”—Oh, how true that quote is. Cultivating the habit of patience with children and husband. Having the children to copy down scripture and house rules and referring to these scriptures and house rules often when they need discipline—this makes Mama calm and peaceful, offering a go-to alternative to yelling out of frustration, and it comforts me to know that I’m instilling something lasting and eternal in them that will nurture maturity in godliness far beyond this moment of mis-deeds.

8.       The healthy habit of work and rising early—Around here, we have a famous Mr. Simmons saying that goes “If you want to play hard, you have to work hard.” I can’t say enough about rising early in the am, and its positive effects on mental clarity, attitude, energy, positive outlook, productivity—I could go on and on… As a person who dealt with deep depression in the past, I can vouch that the simple habits of going to bed early and rising early make or break our mental state.

9.       The healthy habit of exercise—exercise is important around here. I run several times a week, and the girls and I do videos at home together—they enjoy it and little one tries to copy-cat and do headstands while we are doing Downward Dog. Did you know exercise creates endorphins and releases them in your brain, causing natural happiness?—God gave this to us—He created exercise to do this. His word says it is good for us to be productive. Again, when dealing with depression or a good/bad frame of mind, exercise is key.

My prayer as I share this is that it will encourage you and spur you on toward love and good deeds. –Hebrews 10:34
 
 
Linking up today at A Holy Experience with Ann for Walk With Him Wednesdays….{the WWHW graphic isn’t working}

holy experience

To All Homes Trying To Stay AFloat–A Call To Love {Ideas for The Weekend}

To all  homes trying to stay afloat, to all lonely, worn and frazzled mothers looking for a lifeline, and the floundering ones like us who search for how to do what’s really important with our time, looking for the lighthouse that guides the way home, this is a call to love, a cry for joy in pursuit of Him… 


Around here it’s Saturday morning breakfast around the table and it’s little hands grabbing cinnamon rolls and laughter.

Around here we do weekends of everyone helping out in the yard and the sun and working hard is what gets the energy flowing…






In this sacred place we watch kids in rainboots jump and splash in water puddles and it’s picnics under the shade tree….



It’s remembering weekends of horse-riding with Daddy as a little girl and Papa taking my little girls and teaching them to ride.

On this holy ground we play tag, all six of us and it’s bonfires and late nights watching movies…

Around here we do pizza night and Husband paints on canvas and it’s little girls listening as Daddy teaches art…

Here it’s church on Sunday morning, clothes laid out the night before, and a Southern homemade lunch at Granny’s, and sometimes it’s staying home to just do Sabbath rest …

Around here it’s moving past lost time and broken opportunities and it’s accepting the gift of now and the grace of the unfolding of each new day’s promise…

I pray your weekend is full of gifts and His grace…

If you enjoyed this post at all, and think someone else might as well, would you consider sharing in one of the ways below? {two ways to do this–at the top of the comment section and here:}

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