Category Archives: out of the mouths of babes

Women, Listen Up: Where Is God Moving Next? {An Abstraction on Listen}




sit in front of her in the old linoleum-floor bathroom, squatted low on a stool, and think how this is the way it ought to be, I, made low, serving the least of these, and wonder why I can’t do it more often. I zip up her footie pajama, and push my face into her hair. I’m drunk with her still-fresh from heaven, fresh from night time bath tub scent. She lures me in with it, and I know this is the very best moment of my day, and maybe I’m a fortune teller because I can see it’s also perhaps the best minute of my life, excepting only the second she slipped out, warm and wet, the doctor needing me to hold her in for safety’s sake, me begging to let her go, to have a chance in this world. Yes, her chance. Me and God, co-conspirators, creating life together.

Yes, do you see it friends? How beautiful a chance at life is?

I warm up a leftover quesadilla for myself and we lie on the couch together, and though she’s eaten earlier, she snuggles up to me, Mama, you gonna eat all o’ dat? 

Yes. I inhale an intoxicating bite and she asks Is that yummy?

Yes, baby. You want Mama to share? She nods. I’ll share with you, baby, okay?

Because you love me. Forking a scrumptious bite of my small dinner into her waiting tiny mouth, I melt into a million dissolved pieces, like chocolate on a stove. Oh yes, baby I do. 

Moments. Some days are so chock full of these that make us love and be loved, that it makes me listen more intently. It hushes me and makes me wonder where I went wrong in those days that felt love-less. I know He’s here, always, but sometimes, I get to feel the glory-weight, and it’s His hand upon my heart, upon my moments, blessing me fully. Fully here, fully human.

I wander outside in the cold stillness of dark, and inhale and exhale. I remember to look up, because this is what listening to the stillness does to me, and I’m surprised to see a star-lit sky after many days of shrouded, blanketed veil. Through her bare-naked branches, reaching up to Him, scrony, dry and thirsty–a little like the way I feel–the half moon winks down at me from her throne in the expansive universe. I feel so small, like the not quite awakened buds on tree’s branches that speckle across her glowing orb. Dogs bark in the neighborhood nearby, a train rattles in the distance, but all feels still and holy. I just notice, listen and breathe. I pay close attention. This is how I pray, silently.

In the grocery store on Saturday, I’m a little bit of a mess, and I do my best to be calm, energetic daughter by my side, asking for candy and other things I can’t afford.

A dear family friend sees me, comes over, and asks how we’re doing, asks about my tiny Lilly who was a shrunken newborn, mal-nourished, the bones in her forehead protruding and my milk the only thing her stomach could take, but it wasn’t enough. I tell her she’s great, about to go to preschool this fall–she’s almost five, and her birthday comes late. She tells me her daughter, one of my best friends, has a fibroid tumor the doctors just found. Is there a worry for cancer, I ask. Says she isn’t sure. And I tell her I know, how I know, when life is a heavy weight, how it can suffocate, and it’s impossible to even pick up the phone to call a friend. She asks me to pray–I say I will. She’s had so many problems–she doesn’t need anymore –I’m thinking of four years ago, when her only child, only three days old, died, and how then and only then, did she get to hold her in her loving mother arms–and I break.

The tears stream down my crumpled face, and her mother catches me in her arms. I love her so much I whisper into her shoulder. Thank you for being a good friend to my daughter, she tells me, holds me close. I feel the weight of glory, God so close, Emmanuel.

I think of that embrace later, when I walk into the house, putting away toilet paper. My lips don’t move at all. But my heart beats with this desperate plea–God, be with her, she needs you now. She needs your healing hands in a most powerful way. 

This is how I worship. I know no other way. Because the dancing, the raising of hands {though you can find me lifting them from time to time because I can’t help myself}, the conjuring of His presence–they just don’t cut it. I hope you don’t mind me saying, they don’t work for me anymore.

No, I listen instead.

So, on bright, clear Sunday morning, I call this new friend God’s given. She’s an old friend, and a new friend. New, because we’ve bonded more recently, and these relationships online–this community He’s given? Miracle being worked out–Him working all things together for good, because I love him, because He loves me.

She says so tell me what’s going on, what you’re thinkin’. She jumps right into the frying pan with me, right in the middle of the sticky stuff, the very messy, screwed-up stuff no one really wants to hear–my kinda girl. I tell her I’m having faith God will complete the good work He began, and I’m holding on hard, to grace. That’s all I can do. She cries with me, laughs so hard with me, and prophesies His goodness, the love He has for me, over me.

We talk about listening. I tell her what the Spirit is saying. And how do we know what the Spirit is saying–when it’s Him speaking? He comes to me in a cave, and asks me what I’m doing. It makes me pay attention, makes me take notice, makes me think.

You’ve heard from God. And it’s that one statement I can’t get out of my head–no, two statements.

You are capable–from every side, you’re being told you aren’t capable, but you so are.

I listen. Hard. With the phone up to my ear, so hot, my soul is hungry for living bread, and she breaks it open with me, piping hot, shows me where freedom is and where to plant my feet. This step here, then that one there. See, friend? See how God wants you to not only be delivered, but also free?

I don’t have much {beautiful laugh}, but I have this: stories, stories that you and I share. Her southern accent, so dripping sweet and soft, sings sweet peace over me like a lullaby.

Women, listen up: Let’s be this kind of friend to one another? The kind that can listen to the pain. And be okay with it. Laugh with me. Cry with me. Don’t balk when you see something brassy or bold. No, call it what it is–the way God did in the beginning–call out the good in me. Can we do this for one another?

Listen. Yes, let’s listen. To the stars, to the spirit, to the trees, to the pain, to the beauty, the glory and the mess, the screwed-upness, and the words that aren’t being said. Perk up your ears, soldier-sister. Where is God moving next?

Just Listen with me.

***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, 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, but our focus is on the practice of listening and then writing. Excited? We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #listentoyourlife 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 Listen. GO!


**{This link up will run until next Sunday, the 16th, 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 17th, the prompt will be SERVE .}

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Missing Jesus {And Gratitude}

Ivy dancing in the morning light, golden waves triveting around her shouldersher child-reverent face, turned up to the light, arms spread wide, and I think how she must be worshiping right before the throne.

The song plays…

 “So how can I thank you, What can I bring?

What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King?

I’ll sing you a love song

It’s all that I have

To tell you I’m grateful for holding my life in your hands.”

She doesn’t know I’m watching and then she catches a glimpse of me and I smile warm, heart right proud and the oil of my approving love, it pours over her head and saturates her head to toe, cleansing out so much uncertainty.

She smiles shy. My soul sees hers. “You are precious.”

She turns down the music, looks at me. “Really?”

“Yes, you sure are.”

She smiles and continues to spin, this whole world, the morning sun and my heart spinning with her. These old wood floors and 100 year old walls creak and groan in honor of the Creator.

I can literally feel the weight of His glory come down like a thick cloud, a good cloud, like the haze of sweltering sun in a 17 year old girl’s free summer on the beach.

I am brimming over now.

Peace descends and in the fury of her innocence,  I am turned inside out and my heart swells, all the cracked, stony places soaking up the grace.

Because I’m thinking, “When was the last time I spun around like that, arms thrown wide open in abandon, face and heart lifted up to God?

When did I last forget about time and this space of all that must be done now, this moment with all the worries it holds and just breathed in and out?

Just breathed in and out the God-grace, the living waters that quench my aging and weary parched throat.

When did I last become like a child and turn face up to Heaven, to the light, in wild hope and trust?

When did I last have that child-faith that doesn’t question the One, the only Father who takes care of the child?”

And I heard God say through my daughter—that I don’t hunger near enough.

He has awakened me to it, though–really stirred life within–told me I am His own–His beloved–He is wooing me–the God of all creation. He loves, He loves, He LOVES me! He tells me when I wake in the morning to the sunrise softly glinting through curtains, “This is for you! It’s all for YOU!”

His pursuit of me makes me hunger more for Him. And this revealing of my lack? It is Him lavishing love so thick.  And I want to love that thick.

Oh, that I could abandon everything, leave behind myself just to follow hard after him.

That my words with my girls would be tender, that He would love them through me, that the truth in my ways would speak of Him, that I would find myself rocking and soothing the orphan babe who has no human touch– no one to hold her, that wisdom would be on my lips.

That I would show them grace because we dance to Elvis Jailhouse Rock , Black-Eyed Peas Boom Boom Pow, or Toby Mac, and we laugh, and wine is on the table, and we pray for God to help us love one another and take care of one another better, and our evenings aren’t filled with sitcoms or internet gaming and socializing, but we are playing love-games at the supper table and running and swimming and living life, and reading that we are God’s princesses at bedtime. We read how that when we’ve been the prodigal, our Father King, He always embraces us with tears in his eyes and overwhelming love and puts a ring on our finger and a crown on our head and there is no shame in the presence of Daddy-King.

And as my daughter twirls in light, I have this growing, gnawing ache.

I miss Jesus.

Gratitude: #902-916

Through giving thanks for the small, everyday things and snapping shots and noticing these brief moments captured in my lens– a frame of light caught in her hair, angling the camera to get a different view of the sun streaming through leaves, running through my backyard, awe-inspired–to get a shot of a hawk–I have learned something extremely valuable in life: through thanksgiving and awe, praise and glory-giving back to God for His creation, for all His gifts, is where I find joy, this elusive gift I have sought for half my life-span.

#902 trip to Destin with just my mom and sister…bonding time…

#903 girl talk with my sister about real-life issues…

#904 hard eucharisteo…one of the hardest talks I’ve ever had to have and probably ever will–with my mother—all of us working through difficult emotional spaces

#905 relaxing on the beach…listening to waves…

#906 napping on my beach blanket…all of us quiet…

#907 “What happens in Destin, stays in Destin”—a little saying coined by my mom…~smile~

#908 sunburns and fighting through physical pain and being grateful for today, a good attitude and laughter our medicine

#909 Bella’s argument: “It’s. Not. My. Birthday yet!!” when we would tell her happy birthday. Apparently it isn’t really a birthday until there’s a party?

#910 Her five-year-old-lisping into the phone to her daddy that she had a great birthday and had a cake—a chocolate one, and everybody enjoyed themselves at her birthday.

#911 My eleven year old daughter who isn’t very affectionate, crawling into my lap or hugging me and nodding up and down when I ask if she needs Mama love. Melts my heart.

#912 Hard eucharisteo…confronting issues and growing in Christ with sisters, in grace and love—seeing the fruits of this in me and others…

#913 My director calling just to encourage me and to tell me not to be nervous…

#914 How I, usually so unprepared, up ‘til 2 am, somehow arrived more-than-enough prepared and I for once felt what it was to be a leader…the grace of God growing these skills in me I didn’t know I had inside…Him pulling these out—me being brave and following him…

#915 My amazement at the confidence He has given…

#916 Learning that humility isn’t a heavy cloak of being less than that we wear, but it is an action, a serving, a loving, a confident knowing who I am in Christ, forging ahead in the path made straight for me, using the talents He calls forth from within, abandoning the things I hold onto so tightly—fear, distrust, pride, selfishness, woundedness and I answer His call, unaffected by others’ criticisms or praises. Giving praise to God that this is finally. becoming. truth for me and reality I can see as I walk out my daily life!!!

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably making vegan pad thai or whole-wheat cookies with my girls, cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, {or dancing to hip-hop with them while they roll their eyes}, out running, having a glass of wine with Husband, or lying in a warm bath just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. If you are reading this, you are awesome and I already love  you!  Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much….

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.

Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others…


and linking with L.L…and others below…click on links to read these amazing sites!

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Embracing Plucked Daffodils {And Resurrection Life}

I am cold, hurting, sad and despondent and he says, “get dressed and come outside with me–it’s such a nice, warm day”. Something inside me jumps at the thought of being in the sunshine after so much grey cloudiness and rain in my life. It has been a long time coming–this spring rejuvenating joyousness–this resurrection!

As I throw my clothes on, not caring if my hair hasn’t been washed {i’m going to the sunlight}, girls all dressed and I step outside, this change is hard. Hard because my emotions don’t feel it. But I’ve been here before, and I know that the emotions are not always in sync with what my heart and soul {God’s Spirit speaking?} are saying is vital, purposeful, helpful, and joy-creating. Human emotions don’t so easily give way to the joy-creating and peace-creating moments. My emotions stand hard and stubborn as brick, and they are not easily destroyed and replaced with God’s love, gentleness, patience, and hope.

Hope is a funny thing….it’s like stepping outside to the sun’s blinding when I’ve been hibernating inside my comfort place, my isolation for too long. It all feels raw, open, it hurts and blinds and in the same breath feels like warmth to the soul, the soul slowly waking, and the Son telling me time to get up.

He turns on the radio, and says, “You ARE ready–wow! Let’s go!” And my heart is so easily led because it craves it and needs it. My heart craves, this heart that is only for him. And it is this that God is trying to show me–yes, my heart craves, and it is truly HIM that i crave, that my heart yearns to follow.

In the sunlight, always the blinding light, I am so thankful that He gives spring….and I see it. I see that the leaves, the brown, black and grey, the dead things must come for life to come forth. All of the wretched things, the things I hate the most, the things that seem so evil to me–cloudy days that offer no hope, rain that never gives any light or warmth, no life or beauty to be found, all of the loneliness and disappointment, the anguish, the desperate pleas for help, and the trudging through of the feet–all of these must be so that HOPE can come.

So that LIFE can push really hard, can push hard and long against the surface, so hard until it seems I will give way, and when I think that my weary heart and soul can take no more, there it is!
Life to be felt, touched, all warmth and sun and the SON comes in strong, like a team of wild stallions beating back ocean waves, and He calms me with His steady hand, touches me, ME who doesn’t deserve anything, feeling like a silly child for asking, for reaching out, and He gently cradles me like summer sun, blinding the eyes and letting lids drift off asleep.

And then I see, I see the brown leaves, {so happy to be picking up those brown leaves, everyone pitching in, the warm sun our helper}, and I know what they have covered up this whole time–it has been life growing underneath.

It was life cocooned up in an earthen grave, like that catepillar the girls placed in the grace garden, just like that Resurrection Man whose body was wrapped and laid in a cold tomb.

In the front yard, where he is raking strong and ferocious, we meander and follow him, walking and looking, taking in beauty, holding hands, snapping our happy day in freeze-frames.
 Then it happens: I hear him say, “No, Bella, you know Mama doesn’t want you to do that”. It is always Mama that doesn’t want the children to run and frollick and make mischief, always Mama that has a hard time with letting go and living fully the resurrection. And in an instant I see that Bella has plucked all my lovely daffodils from the front garden, the only sign of life in this deadness, the only beauty that I loved, and before I think, I say sternly, “NO, Bella!” and now her tiny shoulders droop, her joyous flower-possessing countenance falls, and straightaway, she is a mess, and so am I.

 I go to her, drawn like the pull of heartache, and kneel down beside her. I say, “It is okay, Bella. You can have Mama’s flowers“. And these words are hard for me to say, and they are pulled out like weeds stuck in the hard winter ground, that cold earthen grave where my heart is wrapped up. I hurt, I am torn, and my anger dissolving, I know that I must let go. I know that this is good for me and for her–to learn grace. I hug her and keep saying it over and over, and of course, in Bella’s usual style, she has to punish me just a bit. She can’t move past it right away, and oh, she is MY child; she definitely came from my womb, this child that has it hard letting go.
And suddenly I realize that it is not I that is supposed to be teaching her in this moment, but it is she that is teaching me, and she is teaching me well–oh, the lessons I learn from her about how to live out this life that springs forth from painful grave, me just dust returning to dust one day.
I am a broken Mama, throwing myself against the stubborness of this child, and breaking over and over and over.

God knows that this is what this sinful, hard heart of mine needs. WHY is my first reaction– when they are {mischeviously}, blithely having carefree, airy and sun-happy fun–to sternly correct and break littles’ spirits?

Couldn’t I, being fully aware of her possessing my prize, just have let my laugh carry on the wind, reaching her with a warm enveloping smile and letting her know that I will always give her what is mine?

In putting away Easter and Lent, and seeing the sin that so easily creeps back in–the exhaustion and the anxiety that tries to take over like a dark cloak–maybe what I’m really seeing clearly is that to live this resurrection–to carry Easter with me I must not hold tight, but let go.

Is it really things that bring beauty, like flowers, or is it the God-breathed moments with my daughter,  The Word Himself gently shooting shafts of light through the darkness of our hearts together?

For aren’t we all just groping along, bling, trying to find the way? Aren’t we weary sojourners looking for home? Isn’t this earth full of so much darkness and death, threatening to swallow us up, taking us down to the depths of the grave?

If that is true, then aren’t these God-given moments of truth all we really have–to behold with awe and let our breath be taken with beauty, to just stand on holy ground speechless?

This letting go and living fully the resurrection life is apart of grace, a reflection of the Father’s love. This is how He meant it to be. He never meant for me to give anything or live anything that He hasn’t already lived and freely given me.

This is grace:–not only mercy and pardon, but a beautiful gift laid at my feet for the taking, laid at the feet of the undeserving, a beautiful gift paid for with His life.

I don’t do this life so gracefully–more like a child with fist clenched tight, really, but this grace part He is so generously and gently teaching.

I’m opening fist and learning and accepting His grace, all the gifts laid at my feet, and my daughter–I let her pluck the daffodil from my open hand, and she and I, we are dancing–sometimes quiet and stilled, sometimes blasting out the stereo–just dancing like crazy in this God-breathed life of grace.

*an edited post from archives

Shared with Ann in community at…

The Synapses of My Heart {31 Days to Holistic Christ-Centered Living Day#17}



I rock Lilly, holding her close in the dark, I lay my cheek on her silky hair, sing her a lullaby. I lay her down and step just a few feet away to tuck in a little one, snuggle her in with Monkey tightly.

And then as I am about to leave, Lilly cries, and I know that cry–she is frustrated. Her blanket is twisted wrong, so I go back to her to soothe.

I wrap her in her puppy blanket the way a Mama knows how.

I shut the door, but pause and peek through the crack, watch my four year old falling asleep, her lying there all perfect angelic creature, the wheat crown of her poking up out of covers.

Something in me grows very quiet and still and sad andI wonder how I will remember all this.

I want to remember it just like this with the wooden train and dolls strewn about over pine floors, the woven rugs, the squeaky rocking chair wih it’s handmade pink crocheted blanket thrown over the back, and their golden little heads lying in dreams, their tiny hands clutching lovies.

I want to remember Bella’s voice just as it rings with sweetness now, that little lisp and those deep dimples and I want to remember Lilly’s giggles sounding like Heaven..

I let the wonder and glory just settle right down all around me.

Even the angels are in awe of God’s children, how we are made in the image of His diety, how He loved us to the earth and back, how He adores us and spins wildly over us.

This extends far below the surface of me and I am in hushed admiration too, reverence anchoring me, pausing here in the darkness, in the silence, imprinting this moment upon the synapses of my heart.

Gratitude:


3 gifts found in Christ…
#502 freedom, my chains gone
#503 amazing grace pouring over me
#504 the cross that redeemed me back to God, that gives me strength every day

#505 the way Ivy and Bella lie on yoga mats when Lorna and I are done exercising, and Ivy says, “Look Mama, I’m doing my yoga!” always wanting my approval, needing my nod and smile that says she is okay in this world

2 things blue…
#506 A young Mary and baby Jesus painted in shades of blue on Husband’s canvas
#507 my baby girls blue eyes squinting and laughing at me with so much mischievousness

#508 how I go in there to teach them the downward dog and the cobra and the little one–in her diaper–grunts at me to show her too, her head and hands sprawled on the floor, bum sticking straight up in the air

one grace borrowed, one found, one inherited…
#509 the long-awaited, very much needed vehicle that is coming through Husband’s work
#510 daughter finding her father’s weight bar hidden behind the stack of VCR tapes and his smile and thank you.
#511 my ability to do anything well with my hands, the precise line I can stroke with paint like my Daddy

#512 when we are reading Stepping Heavenward at bedtime, and I explain that when Katherine was upset at her Aunty’s injustice, it meant she felt her Aunty was being unfair, and Lorna says, “Yeah, I know how that feels.”

a gift before 9 am, gift before noon, a gift after dark…
#513 Husband making coffee for me, waking to the glorious smell of cinnamon buns, eggs and sausage
#514 a talk with my Pastor letting him know in this season of our lives we won’t be at church every week, and the grace he extended, taking the pressure off
#515 Husband and I in our room creating together, conversation as we drift off to sleep

#516 Lorna’s perceptiveness when I say Lilly is a sweet baby, “Well, she isn’t always sweet; sometimes she’s sour.”

#517 Bella coming to me with her request: “Mama, can you fix the game? I’m too little.”

3 gifts that might never have been…
#518 my wonderful Husband, so thankful that God held us together strong through the years
#519 our new church body, how much we are growing, learning, grateful we made the move and decided to stay…maybe we are finally home
#520 Husband allowing me to homeschool…though it has it’s trudging trials, in the end I will one day see all the benefits…this I know

#521 When Bella pops in my bed at 7:15 am, and asks to play a game and I answer her that she will have to wait until I get up, how she catches me off gaurd and says, “No, when you get up, you’ll need a story, and you’ll read th bible again and again and again.”

#522 How Bella says “Wakey, wakey” in a sing-song voice to get me up.

3 graces found in your friends…
#523 my best friend driving to my house before noon to workout and have lunch together
#524 the miraculous wonder of a friendship broken and wounded being restored in Christ through grace and forgiveness
#525 my running buddy being gracious when my body is in pain on a bad day

#526 How when I tickle Bella all over, she yells, “I love you! I love you! I love you!” between giggles

#527 Ivy running inside to tell me of a great mystery she has solved, “Mama! I know who is shutting the mailbox so hard–it’s the mailman! And there are more yellow flowers out there–lots of them!” The way she forces me to see there are gifts right in front of me all the time.

a song heard, a soft word, where i saw light…
#528 everyone singing “How Great Is Our God” in corporate body worship, how it reminds me of us all singing in Heaven, and if we have someone to sing it with, how it makes the faith more real
#529 Husband’s “I’m sorry” and how it releases me and lets me exhale

#530 light streaming in through window, in shafts across a book on bedside table

#531 when we’re working outside and I get covered in ants and yell out to everyone that only sweet Ivy came to help, Lorna says, “Well, you’re an adult and they’re only little ants.”

#532 how when I tell Lorna that since I was covered in them, I couldn’t see them to get them off, Ivy pipes up with, “You have a point, Mama.” and then, “You know, I was born to care about people.”

an old thing seen new…
#533 Husband’s face, the same one I’ve seen for 11 years, and yet sometimes when I look at him, it’s for the first time and I fall in love all over again

#534 how when we are sitting at the breakfast table and I’m trying to read something beautiful to them and everyone is scuffling around, getting up, not listening, I shoot a frustrated glance at Husband, and say some exasperated words, and Ivy says, “You know we can all apologize sometimes.” And my heart is pierced straight through. Out of the mouths of babes.

Princesses

Lorna tells me while I’m churning the cream in my coffee with a spoon, watching the white swirls disappear, “You know last night when we were lying in bed, we saw so much lightening–and it never did thunder–just kept flashing over and over really fast. It was scary.”

“Yeah,” I say, “the lightening was right over us.” Thinking the conversation is over, I’m surprised to hear her next question.

“Mama, are we EVER gonna get hurt? In a hurricane, or lightening storm, or car wreck or something? I mean, God is watching over us and protecting us with His angels ALL the time!”

I look at her, caught not as grateful as she, but thankful that I have this angelic being to remind me, because she is not yet affected by this sinning, God-doubting world, I lean in close, kiss her cheek and smile against curls, “Yes, isn’t that wonderful? He IS protecting us all the time.”

And we hold each other’s faces for a moment of gratefulness, our eyes saying everything.

::: ::: :::

All in a spin, a cleaning whirl, Lorna sweeps, the plastic straw brushing across the child-battered wood floor, Ivy picking up toys, trudging back and forth, her feet sounding out a beating drum. And Bella and I are at the buffet table, scrubbing–I’m helping her learn about the methodical steps of wiping and dusting and placing things back where they belong. She wipes along the frame of the painting her father made for me, and pointing to a still-frame, she asks in her four year old voice, “Mama, why you a princess?”

I laugh-speak it, my rag frozen mid-swipe, surprise’s grip on my throat (me, a princess?), and I let the sound escape into the air between us, captivated by her perspective: “Well, because,” I studder, “I was a bride, and it was my wedding day.”

I look at the stroked lines, the veil and pearl tiara, the cathedral train of white and I understand her definition of a princess. She catches me off guard again.

“And Daddy was a prince?”

I giddily smile wide, “Yes, he was.”

“Why?”

I’m captured by her musical tones, white halo of hair, blue eyes searching, “Because we got married that day, and Daddy was my prince, come to save me and to have me forever and ever.”

“Oh.”

“And you know what? One day God will send your prince to you, just like He sent Daddy to me, and you will be a princess too, when you get married.”

I marvel at how her eyes light up and her cheeks blush red excitement at the thought of being a princess one day like Mommy.

“Mama, I’m gonna be a princess tonight?”

Lorna giggles at the four year old reasoning, and tells her, “No, Bella, you have to grow up first.”

I look at her big eyes, taking it all in, and I scrub, place the painting back where it belongs, thinking about the spinning whirl of life and how God holds us, how He plans, how He writes out our days in His book, how we will hope and we will be disappointed and we will experience the rich blessings of His grace, how she is too young to understand it now, that she is a princess of her Heavenly Father, King of all Kings, and no matter life’s disappointments, future failed relationships, or how hard the waiting years are, for it isn’t going to happen tonight, but one day–one day, she will really know what it’s like to be truly held–in the arms of her lover–and in the arms of God.

::: ::: :::

This week’s dose of honesty: Every Monday is hard, every time I write down the list, it is drawing things out of me that need to come to the surface. I try to remember the week’s graces, I try to type them down, realizing that I haven’t savored and been near thankful enough to even take the time to just stop and pen them down–but I’m getting closer and closer to writing it down on that free printable that lies on my desk. And I’m still here, I’m not good at this list-making, but I’m still going forward, hoping for God to do something earth-quaking in me.

Gratitude:




#310 that even if i didn’t notice much, I’m seeing now, that He takes care of us constantly and that we daughters are princesses of our Heavenly Father, the King of kings

#311 a fall day spent doing schooling on the porch

#312 laughs and tickles, dimpled faces

#313 beautiful red and golden leaves, colors ablaze in sunset

#314 the natural God-given lens of my eye much better than any camera lens

#315 that i can see to behold all this goodness

#316 my baby always looking back at me when she runs off, tests out her wings, needing that Mama-grounding

#317 neat nursery, shiny wood floor, toys all put away

#318 rocking my baby in the dark

#319 loving her when she is unloveable, when she screams and demands–the way God loves me

#320 how she instantly calms and stops snubbing when I hold her

#321 this season that I don’t understand, that it is only because I’m in this flesh-skin that I’m confused, and that God isn’t confused–He knows exactly what He is doing

#322 how this gratitude focus and list-making makes me a beauty hunter, camera in hand, lying on the ground, feeling silly, neighbors around, not really caring because this is living

#323 how this grace-counting slows me down to see, and I feel His peace, His joy

#324 a moment at the dinner table, completely ruined by me, how much easier repentance and confession comes now

#325 husband’s forgiveness in my failings reflecting God’s goodness

#326 how I can have peace in this chaotic time because of God’s and husband’s shepharding–I marvel

#327 less and less anxiety every day

How are you doing at the list-making? Do you find it an easy discipline or a hard one?

Friends, I ask for your grace and forgiveness as I cannot reply back to any of your kind comments right now–Google has gone haywire on my computer and isn’t allowing me access. This has me thinking, though…like another friend said, maybe a quieter blog, a thoughtful, silent post that offers reflection is better? What do you think?

Joining with Ann at A Holy Experience today. Count the graces with us? You can get a free printable to join in and write down your own thanks to God!

A Million Tiny Barbie Dolls

“This is my favorite verse in the whole bible”, she reads aloud, “‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.'”

I say, “Wow, that’s one of my favorites too!”

“It just runs in my head all the time, but I had to look it up because all I could remember was Romans 8:16.” And she keeps going. “We read that in Sunday School Church one day. She read the story and that was the verse at the end.”

“Oh really? Why do you like it so much?”

“I just like it. I mean, I like to talk about it.”

Then I hear her reciting to herself…”The spirit himself…” and her soft voice drones on and I assume she is reading.

“Oh man, I got it without looking!” And she laughs giddy. I am happy and proud to hear this.

She continues…”Romans 14:8…’Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.’ That’s funny–Whether we live or die, we belong to God–like He has us in His hands like a million barbie dolls!”

And they are some very big hands, and they do hold everything. All of us, and our sin, our relationship problems, our anxiety, fears, desires and needs.

There is nothing He doesn’t hold–out of the mouth of babes.

#133 a day at the lake with family and friends

#134 Ivy’s big proud grin–and her catch

#135 that He is holding me and everything that I worry about

#136 that He uses my children to speak to me–the assurance that in the midst of mistakes and struggles, I must be doing something of worth as a parent

#137 the grace to realize that though there are so many moments full of regret, there are double the moments of blessings if i only really see

#138 Bella sitting on her little bench, pigtails and dimples, “Nope…don’t got him yet”…and how she waits until the fish bites really hard and then pulls him up!

#139 a moment for me and Husband to laugh about–our little Bella–oh how they bond us.

#140 Husband being attacked by Lilly’s baby hands and the way he plays with her–it’s these moments I love him most it seems

#141 a friend that invited us to the lakehouse–such a cheerful lady to be around, and laughter doeth good like a medicine

#142 able arms and legs to work in the yard and hold my baby with

#143 small baby with t-shirt too big for her and huge wet smile

#144 my health–though i have some issues yet to be healed of, i haven’t had one infection or virus the last year

#145 a strong body to run the trails with

#146 a curious baby that keeps sneaking off toward the lake, helping mama learn the meaning of diligence.

#147 these moments of mistakes that allow opportunity for repentance and for me to model that for my children

#148 how that when i feel i fail my children and husband terribly and i loathe myself–there it is–the reason Christ died…and He gives silver linings in every cloud

#149 reasons to talk to my children about the gospel

#150 hearing my daughter recite scripture and the growing love of God’s word

#151 eldest daughter cooking breakfast for everyone and lifting my spirit

#152 four-wheeler rides in the pouring rain and four little children soaking wet and grinning

#153 Husband’s voicemail encouraging me

#154 a Sunday afternoon date with Husband, swinging together, head on shoulder, looking at the water

#155 a fall on the trail and a bruised and bloody knee while trying to encourage my father to keep up–a little humility

#156 the best part of it all–when i say “girls, you see how Mommy messes up?…do you know this is why…” and one or both interrupts me and says “why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Mama?” and something inside me smiles and is satisfied.

Letting Go Gracefully {and sometimes not so gracefully}–revisited

I am cold, hurting, sad and despondent and he says, “get dressed and come outside with me–it’s such a nice, warm day”. Something inside me jumps at the thought of being in the sunshine after so much grey cloudiness and rain in my life. It has been a long time coming–this spring rejuvenating joyousness!

As I throw my clothes on, not caring if my hair hasn’t been washed {i’m going to the sunlight}, girls all dressed and I step outside, this change is hard. Hard because my emotions don’t feel it. But I’ve been here before, and I know that the emotions are not always in sync with what my heart and soul {God’s Spirit speaking?} are saying is vital, purposeful, helpful, and joy-creating. Human emotions don’t so easily give way to the joy-creating and peace-creating moments. My emotions stand hard and stubborn as brick, and they are not easily destroyed and replaced with God’s love, gentleness, patience, and hope.

Hope is a funny thing….it’s like stepping outside to the sun’s blinding when I’ve been hibernating inside my comfort place, my isolation for too long. It all feels raw, open, it hurts and blinds and in the same breath feels like warmth to the soul, the soul slowly waking, and the Son telling me time to get up.

He turns on the radio, and says, “You ARE ready–wow! Let’s go!” And my heart is so easily led because it craves it and needs it. My heart craves, this heart that is only for him. And it is this that God is trying to show me–yes, my heart craves, and it is truly HIM that i crave, that my heart yearns to follow.

In the sunlight, always the blinding light, I am so thankful that He gives spring….and I see it. I see that the leaves, the brown, black and grey, the dead things must come for life to come forth. All of the wretched things, the things I hate the most, the things that seem so evil to me–cloudy days that offer no hope, rain that never gives any light or warmth, no life or beauty to be found, all of the loneliness and disappointment, the anguish, the desperate pleas for help, and the trudging through of the feet–all of these must be so that HOPE can come.

So that LIFE can push really hard, can push hard and long against the surface, so hard until it seems I will give way, and when I think that my weary heart and soul can take no more, there it is! Life to be felt, touched, all warmth and sun and the SON comes in strong, like a team of wild stallions beating back ocean waves, and He calms me with His steady hand, touches me, ME who doesn’t deserve anything, feeling like a silly child for asking, for reaching out, and He gently cradles me like summer sun, blinding the eyes and letting lids drift off asleep.

And then I see, I see the brown leaves, {so happy to be picking up those brown leaves, everyone pitching in, the warm sun our helper}, and I know what they have covered up this whole time–it has been life growing underneath.

In the front yard, where he is raking strong and ferocious, we meander and follow him, walking and looking, taking in beauty, holding hands, snapping our happy day in freeze-frames.

 Then it happens: I hear him say, “No, Bella, you know Mama doesn’t want you to do that”. It is always Mama that doesn’t want the children to run and frollick and make mischief, always Mama that has a hard time with letting go. And in an instant I see that Bella has plucked all my lovely daffodils from the front garden, the only sign of life in this deadness, the only beauty that I loved, and before I think, I say sternly, “NO, Bella!” and now her tiny shoulders droop, her joyous flower-possessing countenance falls, and straightaway, she is a mess, and so am I.

 I go to her, drawn like the pull of heartache, and kneel down beside her. I say, “It is okay, Bella. You can have Mama’s flowers”. And these words are hard for me to say, and they are pulled out like weeds stuck in the hard winter ground. I hurt, I am torn, and my anger dissolving, I know that I must let go. I know that this is good for me and for her. I hug her and keep saying it over and over, and of course, in Bella’s usual style, she has to punish me just a bit. She can’t move past it right away, and oh, she is MY child; she definitely came from my womb, this child that has it hard letting go.
And suddenly I realize that it is not I that is supposed to be teaching her in this moment, but it is she that is teaching me, and she is teaching me well.
 I am a broken Mama, throwing myself against the stubborness of this child, and breaking over and over and over. God knows that this is what this sinful, hard heart of mine needs. WHY is my first reaction– when they are {mischeviously}, blithely having carefree, airy and sun-happy fun–to sternly correct and break littles’ spirits? Couldn’t I, being fully aware of her possessing my prize, just have let my laugh carry on the wind, reaching her with a warm enveloping smile and letting her know that I will always give her what is mine? Couldn’t I just have let go, and not worried about the things that bring beauty, but instead beheld with awe the real moments, the real cherished moments with my daughter? For if these moments are holy, and they are good, and have been good since the creation of the world, then these moments are for inspiring awe in us. And these moments teach us the practice of letting go. This letting go is apart of grace, a reflection of my Father’s love. This is how He meant it to be. He never meant for me to give anything that I don’t have to give. He conceived and birthed the life of His son, nurtured it, and then He sacrificed that beautiful life, the one He loved the most, and then, and this is the most exquisite thing of all–He didn’t stop there–He victoriously conquered the world for me, and He did all of this so that I could freely take from His hand. This is grace–not only mercy and pardon, but a beautiful gift laid at my feet for the taking, laid at the feet of the undeserving. And this is where I take up His beautiful gift and I take it to others who may or may not deserve, and I say “Take the flowers, Bella. Take anything that is mine, take anything I have to give, because I am only giving what has been given to me. All that I have is your’s.” And this is only the beginning of letting go gracefully. Maybe I don’t always do it so gracefully–more like a child with fist clenched tight, really, but this grace part He is so generously and gently teaching. I think, for me, this is a start.

This is my humble entry, a little late and asking for grace, for a scholarship to the She Speaks Conference in North Carolina with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She Speaks is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God and that your heart is to serve Him and His daughters, as He leads. You can go here to enter, deadline is 9 am April 2, and may not be open long.
And to learn more about the She Speaks Conference, or Proverbs 31 Ministries, just click on the button:
She Speaks Conference







#22 green life pushing up under all that deadness
#23 knowing that this is God’s plan for me too
#24 joy in the realization that spring always comes, even in the winter of my heart
#25 bright sun warming my weary soul
#26 children so cute, sunhats on
#27 family helping as a unit and it can always be this way if we learn
#28 Bella’s small hands and his large gloved hand
#29 two curious heads, pawing and digging at the ground in hopes of finding some roly poly or other sort of lone stragler.
#30 Ivy’s cheery face as she picks up leaves and how she smiles as soon as she sees me watching
#31 Even little Bella helping, and how she heaves strong the sticks that are bigger than her
#32 Lorna convincing him to let her ride, so easily made happy 
#33 that God gave me sweet faces to take pictures of
#34 all of this glorious sunshine
#35 Bella’s sweet little hand in mine and the silky-soft feel of it 
#36 her blinded by the sun and cannot open her eyes, even for a picture
#37feeling the strength in my arms as i work, thankful for the arms to do it with
#38 the beauty and smell of freshly raked grass, moss, and acorns

#39 brown leaves, just the brown leaves, all in a heap

#40 that he came and took over for me when i was getting tired and irritable–such comfort in that
#41 Bella picking my flowers and teaching me more love-lessons
#42 beautiful daffodils and chubby fingers
#43 a safe place out of the blinding sun and potting her stolen daffodils just like Mama does it
#44 child-like wonder at tiny round pebbles
#45 knowing that for all of my kicking, pounding on chest, and yelling, that i can only find rest when i just let it all go  and lay in HIS arms

Letting Go Gracefully {and sometimes not so gracefully}

I am cold, hurting, sad and despondent and he says, “get dressed and come outside with me–it’s such a nice, warm day”. Something inside me jumps at the thought of being in the sunshine after so much grey cloudiness and rain in my life. It has been a long time coming–this spring rejuvenating joyousness!

As I throw my clothes on, not caring if my hair hasn’t been washed {i’m going to the sunlight}, girls all dressed and I step outside, this change is hard. Hard because my emotions don’t feel it. But I’ve been here before, and I know that the emotions are not always in sync with what my heart and soul {God’s Spirit speaking?} are saying is vital, purposeful, helpful, and joy-creating. Human emotions don’t so easily give way to the joy-creating and peace-creating moments. My emotions stand hard and stubborn as brick, and they are not easily destroyed and replaced with God’s love, gentleness, patience, and hope.

Hope is a funny thing….it’s like stepping outside to the sun’s blinding when I’ve been hibernating inside my comfort place, my isolation for too long. It all feels raw, open, it hurts and blinds and in the same breath feels like warmth to the soul, the soul slowly waking, and the Son telling me time to get up.

He turns on the radio, and says, “You ARE ready–wow! Let’s go!” And my heart is so easily led because it craves it and needs it. My heart craves, this heart that is only for him. And it is this that God is trying to show me–yes, my heart craves, and it is truly HIM that i crave, that my heart yearns to follow.

In the sunlight, always the blinding light, I am so thankful that He gives spring….and I see it. I see that the leaves, the brown, black and grey, the dead things must come for life to come forth. All of the wretched things, the things I hate the most, the things that seem so evil to me–cloudy days that offer no hope, rain that never gives any light or warmth, no life or beauty to be found, all of the loneliness and disappointment, the anguish, the desperate pleas for help, and the trudging through of the feet–all of these must be so that HOPE can come.

So that LIFE can push really hard, can push hard and long against the surface, so hard until it seems I will give way, and when I think that my weary heart and soul can take no more, there it is! Life to be felt, touched, all warmth and sun and the SON comes in strong, like a team of wild stallions beating back ocean waves, and He calms me with His steady hand, touches me, ME who doesn’t deserve anything, feeling like a silly child for asking, for reaching out, and He gently cradles me like summer sun, blinding the eyes and letting lids drift off asleep.

And then I see, I see the brown leaves, {so happy to be picking up those brown leaves, everyone pitching in, the warm sun our helper}, and I know what they have covered up this whole time–it has been life growing underneath.

In the front yard, where he is raking strong and ferocious, we meander and follow him, walking and looking, taking in beauty, holding hands, snapping our happy day in freeze-frames.

 Then it happens: I hear him say, “No, Bella, you know Mama doesn’t want you to do that”. It is always Mama that doesn’t want the children to run and frollick and make mischief, always Mama that has a hard time with letting go. And in an instant I see that Bella has plucked all my lovely daffodils from the front garden, the only sign of life in this deadness, the only beauty that I loved, and before I think, I say sternly, “NO, Bella!” and now her tiny shoulders droop, her joyous flower-possessing countenance falls, and straightaway, she is a mess, and so am I.

 I go to her, drawn like the pull of heartache, and kneel down beside her. I say, “It is okay, Bella. You can have Mama’s flowers”. And these words are hard for me to say, and they are pulled out like weeds stuck in the hard winter ground. I hurt, I am torn, and my anger dissolving, I know that I must let go. I know that this is good for me and for her. I hug her and keep saying it over and over, and of course, in Bella’s usual style, she has to punish me just a bit. She can’t move past it right away, and oh, she is MY child; she definitely came from my womb, this child that has it hard letting go.
And suddenly I realize that it is not I that is supposed to be teaching her in this moment, but it is she that is teaching me, and she is teaching me well.
 I am a broken Mama, throwing myself against the stubborness of this child, and breaking over and over and over. God knows that this is what this sinful, hard heart of mine needs. 

WHY is my first reaction to sternly correct and break littles’ spirits? Couldn’t I, being fully aware of her possessing my prize, just have let my laugh carry on the wind, reach her with a warm enveloping smile and let her know that I will always, always give her what is mine?

I will never, ever forbid her to come close and I will always, only embrace her fully, mistakes and all.

Isn’t this what the Father has done for me? Yes, He gave it all.

I want to shed this cloak of doubt and fear and despondency and turn face full to the sun, grab my child’s hand and show her that things here don’t matter.

I want to run over and wildly pluck a flower, tuck it behind her ear and whisper it on the gentle spring breeze, “You are free to love, child, free as your Father in Heaven has loved you and made you free.”

I imagine she turns to me, smiles, her eyes alight, and she looks up at me like maybe I’m God and it just makes me want to always, only walk towards that narrow gate.

I take her hand and lead her there.



#22 green life pushing up under all that deadness
#23 knowing that this is God’s plan for me too
#24 joy in the realization that spring always comes, even in the winter of my heart
#25 bright sun warming my weary soul
#26 children so cute, sunhats on
#27 family helping as a unit and it can always be this way if we learn
#28 Bella’s small hands and his large gloved hand
#29 two curious heads, pawing and digging at the ground in hopes of finding some roly poly or other sort of lone stragler.
#30 Ivy’s cheery face as she picks up leaves and how she smiles as soon as she sees me watching
#31 Even little Bella helping, and how she heaves strong the sticks that are bigger than her
#32 Lorna convincing him to let her ride, so easily made happy 
#33 that God gave me sweet faces to take pictures of
#34 all of this glorious sunshine
#35 Bella’s sweet little hand in mine and the silky-soft feel of it 
#36 her blinded by the sun and cannot open her eyes, even for a picture
#37feeling the strength in my arms as i work, thankful for the arms to do it with
#38 the beauty and smell of freshly raked grass, moss, and acorns

#39 brown leaves, just the brown leaves, all in a heap

#40 that he came and took over for me when i was getting tired and irritable–such comfort in that
#41 Bella picking my flowers and teaching me more love-lessons
#42 beautiful daffodils and chubby fingers
#43 a safe place out of the blinding sun and potting her stolen daffodils just like Mama does it
#44 child-like wonder at tiny round pebbles
#45 knowing that for all of my kicking, pounding on chest, and yelling, that i can only find rest when i just let it all go  and lay in HIS arms

To jump into letting go, and connect with other women who are doing the same, slip over to Ann’s site with this button –or just click on this link: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/why-do-lent-why-a-failing-lent-actually-succeeds-a-booklist/