Category Archives: prodigal

For When You’re Feeling Hopeless {and Smoking Doesn’t Mean You’re Going to Hell}



She tells herself to walk outside to get her mind off of things and knows her feet will get wet, but she wants to see her spider lilies that have shot up through the ground with all the hard rain.

The spider lilies they are nostalgic for her, bringing up things within that once were and always will be. They make her want fall to last forever, a season of change, a beautiful relaxed part of her soul that only comes out when the time is right.

The red webbed fingers, they point and speak to her–she knows, winter is coming. It is bittersweet because she knows that life can’t last forever, and yet, there is such beauty here. Neither can the dead things last forever, and she is dead, if she is seeing it clearly.

This world, it is a dark glass, and only on that one day will she see things for what they really are. Then the veil will be pulled back but for now, she wanders and thinks on the life and the dead things, how the life will go down to the deep and lie dormant. It must be given a chance to rest and re-seed and grow in harsh cold. Then and only then can life and hope come forth from the bitter ground.

She know in the dark chambers of her heart where only whispers are held and secrets are kept that spider lilies, so delicate and holding such beauty, don’t last forever–they are but a blink, a momentary fore-shadowing of things to come. She wanders through their sprinkled wet path, blowing smoke along the way, thinking of how she shouldn’t smoke, that it’s been 13 years, but the demons they come back and they come back with a vengeance when she isn’t paying attention. She thinks of how we all have a vice, and God’s grace comes to her on the cool breeze of fall air.

Then like a wakening dream she remembers vividly the man and wife she bumped into. She sees the way the man sat down with a smile and said this is good to talk, we need to, we need to let some stuff out, and how she said, with a knowing look, well, bring it, get it out. She sees the wife, how she fidgeted with every little thing, how she nervously glanced here and there, would not look her in the eyes. And how the man, he told her they were in town for a ceremonial ordinance at someone’s property who lived nearby and she cries out yes! I believe in the Sabbath whole-heartedly and love dearly God’s sacred communion and the sacraments. But then how her heart sank to her stomach as he told her, when she talked of grace, that he believed in the law.

She noticed the woman’s cast-down eyes, the speaking to herself under her breath, the head hung low, apologizing to someone unseen. And in her very heartbeat, she can hear the man saying that yes, we are saved by faith, but that is conditional upon our obedience to God’s law, and she hears it resounding in her ear like a drum, the beating of her own heart, and God’s heart, gu-gome. gu-gome. gu-gome. gu-gome. gu-gome. gu-gome. Can you hear it too?

Because she did, as she listened to him, her heart beat harder and harder, faster and faster, but she knew that only God could speak grace to his heart and only God could lift that woman’s head. She told him how she believed in eternal security, how that she knew she could never be plucked out of God’s hand for any reason. And she told him of her uncle who for most of his life was addicted to drugs and because of the law she never believed he was saved, but that at 30 years old, she finally realized that because he had given his heart to Christ and loved him early on in life, that he was indeed written upon God’s hand forever, and we are not to know the condition of his heart, only God can. The only way to know we are really not in God’s hands is to completely deny him, she tells him.

She walks by the weeds grown up in her beautiful beds she worked so fervently on those summers ago, and she knows that weeds, they can sneak up on us when we are not looking and they can choke out a life. They can try to snuff out, but God’s grace is mightier than anything any old demon, no matter how powerful, can throw upon us. We all have our weeds, untended, neglected, and we all have moments in our lives of hard-heart ground. It’s bitter ground, that hangs its head low, and doesn’t even want to look up at God, doesn’t want to pray, doesn’t want to listen to what we must do to be saved.

And the man, he looked her in the eyes and challenged her and said, what about when a man blasphemes against the holy spirit, the unpardonable sin? Do you believe in that? She looks him in the eye and smiles and says, I believe that is the unpardonable sin, denying him.

She walks around and around the lilies and the weeds, thinking of that last challenge, when he said with fire in his eyes, what about when a man shakes his fist at God and says, I hate God?

Actions on the outside and truth in the heart can be two totally different things, she says. Only God knows if the man believes it in his heart or not. 

The man looks stunned, woman sitting with her eyes cast down, and he says to his sister, Yes, possibly it’s a phase and God will bring him back–that’s an idea to think on….

She walks gently over the grass and steps back inside, and she doesn’t forget the man and wife and the heaviness she felt around them. She thinks on them, says a silent prayer, thinks about her own heart, and its vices.

She reads the 23rd Psalm, the 1st Psalm, God’s promises to her, and she picks up Nehemiah where she left off…

The heading in her bible reads, A List of Exiles Who Returned…and the list is long with many descendants of God’s people. And she recalls the scripture His hand had led her heart to…

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name…” Neh. 1:8-11

She thinks on the men who hung on a cross next to Jesus, who did not deserve a pardon and how one begged to go to Paradise with him that day, and Jesus’ words swell her heart wide open and bursting with peace. Because to this man, that never had a moment to prove his worth or obedience, Jesus simply said to a thief worthy only of death and condemnation dying next to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Such is God’s way with the heart of a man, and she turns it over and over in her mind, a Rubik’s cube, asking questions of her own with answers that are not yet to be seen.

For it is not their due season, but she knows that at the right time, when winter is over, the fruit will come. It will burst forth like a baby slipping out all wet and wailing and beautiful from its mother’s womb.

She crawls into bed next to her baby and sings amazing grace slowly and softly, letting her voice lilt over the words in peaceful praise and thanksgiving for her name upon His hand.

If you’re interested in further research into this topic, a great wise pastor here:

John Piper answers the question can a person be a Christian and drink or smoke:

John Piper preaches on law and grace–powerful!

Disclosure: I am not endorsing Mark Driscoll’s preaching by posting this, but I love what he has to say here, because it’s biblical and shocking to those of us who judge Christians to “look” and “act” a certain way:

{Context here is that Samuel was sent by God to anoint Israel’s next king, and he assumed it must be Eliab, according to his appearance.}
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:37

Related: Seasons

Announcement: #concretewords is back on Monday, Sept 30 or 31st!! It’s a possibility I could be gone because my anniversary falls on the 29th, so have your submission ready and I’ll have the link-up live either Monday or Tues! Sorry I’ve been gone so long. It’s been a rough several months, and things are still on the mend, but I’m finally ready to write.

Concrete Words prompt: SOIL!

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

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

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

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

Come if you can, and you said, ‘I AM’

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

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

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

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

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

No pretense.

Just real.

Talking to God like He’s a friend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“In that child’s face.”

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Gratitude: {1076-1082}

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

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

Looking forward to a positive change for our family

Making up with Husband and how wonderful it is

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

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

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

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

What this link-up is about: In the lovely Amber Haines’ words, we “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place: fire smoke in the air, an old, tattered wooden swing, black rich dirt underneath bare feet, a woodpecker hammering at a birch. Go here to learn more of what Amber meant for us to do with concrete words when this all began. This will help your writing–I promise! 

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


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Sink. I will be out of town at the Jumping Tandem Retreat–the lovely Kimberly Coyle will be hosting for me. Please watch her blog for a #concretewords post! {Something new–I’ll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!

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


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


{This post shared with Ann, Jen, Laura, Heather, Emily, and Jennifer for #TellHisStory}

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

When You Are The Wayward Child {Fear Of Judgement–Day4}

I am the wayward child. I’ve been more the prodigal than the good, obedient one. I still dream of that cigarette, years after putting them down. I drink a glass of wine in the evenings, something some church members would frown upon. I’m not good at prayer, although for many disillusioned years I ardently tried to work it out on my knees, for hours at a time.

I love rock and hip-hop, which makes me an immature Christian at best, on a pathway for hell at worst–I know, because I listened as a child to preachers spew it as they yelled, so much angst inside, so much fear. I was raised by parents who thought that way too. But they feel differently now. They see grace, I think.

All of those things–the type of music I like, my lack of ability to pray well–those are just outward things, mere technicalities that don’t really matter.

God is concerned about my heart.

And my heart has been wayward. It so easily strays, looks in the trash for food, instead of dining at the Master’s table. I’m a lost child, calloused and dirty from surviving these mean streets. 



I peer in, watch through glass windows, wishing I was welcomed out of the cold, into the warmth. But at every turn, it seems I’m met with cold pity and disdain for my dirty ragedness. No one wants to sit with me, dine with me as Jesus did with sinners.

Jesus reclined at the tables of the thief and the pharisee, those so unworthy–he was at home with sinners. 

And how thankful I am for that–because this body of death betrays His spirit within, and I am a wretch. There were times I wanted to die, yet He has made me alive–alive to Him. I cling to Him, the only thing that saves, not my Sunday dress, or my attendance, or even my lack of drink or bars visited.

And he let her wash his feet with expensive perfume, such an intimate act–the despised one, the dirty, filthy whore, the one no one wanted to touch, unless he was an unrighteous man, a man rejected, a man condemned, although Jesus said they had the same sinful thoughts, just by looking at her.

And I, this lost child that can never seem to get it right–I think I understand her just a little.

I wonder if they realize we’re all just beggars at his table? The ones that judge and condemn–do they really know? The ones that look down from their lofty statuses and talk of never having had a drop their whole life–if they believe it’s true–what they preach–why don’t they live it?

The ones that in their Sunday suits, scoff at those “new, immature” Christians who don’t know any better and go into the bars to minister to those who need Jesus? Do they know Jesus when they scoff at something Jesus himself would have done?

Wasn’t Jesus always trying to teach his disciples to exactly mirror him?

They sneer in holy indignation, he will just be dragged down into sin with the rest of themhe hasn’t experienced true Christianity–he’s on a road to hell by going into those joints.

I submit that when we go to those places Jesus himself would have gone, and we touch the dirty and the unforgiven, the prodigals and the railing-against-God-ones, that is when we are close enough to know His holy breath.

I’ve really just ceased having the ability to pretend, pretend that I’m a loving, humble Christian who doesn’t drink and doesn’t ever yell at her kids, and only, and always wears the right-length dress to church.

The great thing about knowing I’m a prodigal, just a beggar at his table? I get to be the one closest to God’s heart, the one he calls a party for, the one he cloaks in his robe, the one to receive his ring and his favor, his embrace. 

And though I’ve squandered the inheritance, he looks at me through eyes of grace, laughs a deep, fatherly laugh at my child-confusion, and tells me Child, you can’t squander it because it never runs out.

And, ah, I break and the wild, raging rivers of self-hatred and self-doubt and condemnation all damned-up breaks free and His grace works, because I never, ever want to disappoint my Father. I want to always, always be in His embrace, here at his table.

We are all–thieves, beggars, whores, pharisees, and agoraphobic moms who shut themselves up in their rooms–we’re all just prodigals trying to find our way home. We’ve only to realize it and embrace it, to let go of our fears and stop judging.

Let’s not cast any stone. Let us help walk one another home.

Gratitude: {#997-1006}

Celebrating 1,000 gifts–I never thought I would finish the race, but I have done it, and don’t plan on ever stopping giving thanks–it helps me rightly see!!!

I’m grateful for a Father that takes me over and over, for campfires outside with my kids and husband, for warm Ghiardelli hot cocoa, for smores melted over a fire, for beautiful pumpkins and mums, for butternut squash baked with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, for cool nights that mean cuddling, for my baby saying some new words–hallelujah!

Watch this video and worship with me, friend or Click here to watch on Youtube 

Linking with sweet Ann and beautiful others…
Ann, Emily , Laura, Jen, & Michelle.

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

Do you struggle with fear of judgement, friend? Does it hold you hostage? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


This is Day 3 of 31 days of Fear. Since I’m starting my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here <—hover with mouse to highlight and click 






Friends, If you would so kindly click here and go over to my friend, Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!