Category Archives: relationships

Brokenness, A Grace-Bathed Thread

{The Conundrums of Writing and Blogging: A Series}

I am delighted to have my friend, Kelli Woodford, at the blog today, who has collaborated with me on this post. We are both sharing our voices and stories with you today of how we met. This is a bold move, we know–and we hope you enjoy it. 
More than that, we hope you can see one golden, grace-bathed thread through the entire thing–how God opens our eyes to see the souls beneath human skin, broken and beautiful skin we all share– and that you will maybe walk away with a renewed sense of sisterhood/brotherhood and what it means to be at the table together. Much love to our readers and thank you for being with us on the writing series journey~ 

The airport bustled as I pulled the car curbside. Flipping down the visor, I checked my hair and applied chapstick. The radio station desperately needed adjusting and oh for the love, where could that water bottle have gone? And it was there, hand jammed under the passenger’s seat with great angst written across my brow, that I recognized it: Fidgeting, yes, I was fidgeting.
Because nervousness? It always drives me to do.
She texted from inside the building. Only a few moments and we would meet for the first time. Only a few moments till the hopes and dreams of the person we had known through words on screens and a smattering of facebook photos would shake hands with stark reality. We would stand before one another in the flesh – for better or worse – in all our devastating human nakedness. Without the comfort of photoshop’s charms or a hearty following behind us. Without smartly punctuated witticisms or cleverly sculpted reputations. We would brush skin and hear joints pop and perhaps waft the warmth of the other’s signature scent. I wrapped my coat around me against the wind, took a deep breath, and let my feet find the pavement. Brave feet, I thought, keep walking.

I looked up at the sound of my name.
She was prettier than I expected her to be. Slender and blond. Her idyllic smile rivaled Denzel’s for shine and luster, teeth straight as a manicured picket fence. Intimidation crept up my neck and flushed my cheeks with scarlet. We chatted about her flight and about the weather. We sneakily studied one another’s faces when we thought it wouldn’t be noticed. I listened to the slow, thick drawl of the south on her tongue, and I imagine she heard the nasal whine so common to midwesterners in my voice. It was strange and wonderful, this stark reality. It was a bit like stepping into Narnia, finding more than you ever thought possible inside a wardrobe in the spare room.
Because aren’t we, all of us, more than screens can ever tell?

The weekend unfolded in gentle, halting exhale. Moments both sacred and scared laced our days. We revealed parts of our lives to each other, but not without a good bit of trembling. Intimidation faded like a fall flower in the honest light of brokenness shared. And then it came time for goodbyes. We parted alongside the very same curb where I’d exhorted my audacious feet. This time, there was a knowing in our voices. We didn’t hear the differences that took up so much space at first. We only heard the heart. For you see, we had taken time to listen.
And perhaps that is what many internet relationships need – this listening. Because it’s so easy to see a photoshopped profile picture and make assumptions, isn’t it? So easy to comfortably settle into a one-dimensional assessment of an individual instead of pushing deeper, believing for more, digging into the back of the wardrobe?
Now, I realize it’s not always possible to quell these misgivings by face-to-face meetings. I get it. But this mining for gold no matter what rubble lies on the surface – this is more than that. It’s a perspective. This is what it means to invite all to the table. This is where we feel the hand in our own. This is what it means to honor not only the stories that we uniquely represent, but even the opinions and convictions that result from the narrative being scripted. This is respecting each other’s process. And it is how community can form, even in as unlikely a place as these screens permit.

  
~by Kelli Woodford

——————————————

When she stepped out of the car at the airport, her big baby blues startled me. They were much more exquisite in real life than in any picture. I had never before seen eyes like that.

As we began trying to load my luggage into the car, I looked down and noticed dainty feet in the cutest flats. How hip, I thought. I should’ve brought shoes like that. I also noticed her energy and her determination to help. She wasn’t the stander-by type. She was hands-on. I liked her already, because I’m the type who’s always a little lost, needing help.

I had come that weekend, with so much hesitation. I don’t handle large social crowds well, and I refused to be sick and have an anxiety attack while I was there. I knew I’d be okay with her by my side, because though we only knew one another through a screen, something in me trusted her. She had such unassuming grace.

Oh, how I tried to be strong, but all the grace in the world could not keep the inevitable powerful attack at bay. We walked into a bustling lunch room, bloggers and writers chatting, the noise blinding me, and I felt so disconnected, that I didn’t belong. A couple of friends tried to talk to me, but I didn’t want to be the center of attention. I went outside to cry and to call my husband.

When I came back in, she met me in the hallway and asked how she could help. Did I need my food brought outside to me? I wiped my eyes, gathered all of my courage and strength, and told her I’d walk back in with her so she could finish her lunch. Then we went back to the hotel so I could swallow down the calm my body so desperately needed and she and I just took a break.

I did not want her or anyone to have to care for me in that way, but my human brokenness left me with no choice. She saw me–fully human and fully broken, the pieces scattered everywhere.

And those pieces scattered over that weekend, were the fragments that bonded us forever, like a quilt made with love, from many left over scraps. The Master Sewer, He wove us together over those days and nights. We sat in her car until the wee hours of the morning sharing stories too sacred to mention here. We laughed hysterically over teenage adventures and how we sometimes still feel like we’re at that age of angst, and yet, we’re more fully ourselves. We cried. We listened intently. We were on holy ground. But to get to that place of holy? We had to be brave, oh, so brave. We had to let all pretenses go.

May I suggest something to you? Perhaps this is a concrete and poignant example of what it is to pull up a chair at the table with others, let the facades go, let our presumptions go of what we expect others to be, and try to see ourselves through their lens? Perhaps there really is another soul, right there next to us, hidden and disguised beneath pretty clothes and fashionable shoes, just begging to be loved, not with piety, but with true warmth, the kind that prays for you in the middle of the night, the kind that would leave a conference to take you to the hospital if need be, knowing this is the reason they were there that weekend–to meet another soul, broken, right where they are, to care for them, as Jesus would.

At the table, together.

And might I suggest something else? That we are not ordained by God to decide who gets to be at the table? Because it’s not just for believers, for those with a strong faith in God, the ones sure of themselves and their calling and purpose. It isn’t just for the ones mentally well, the ones who do social circles just right, and always know the right thing to say.

But perhaps instead, God has designed the table so that the atheist can pull up a chair beside us, that we can sup together, to share battle-worn life-stories, to really see one another– a beautiful, mysterious creation–yes, one very beautiful face of God.

And perhaps it is for the awkward ones, too– the ones who say all the wrong things at the table that leave people gasping and uncomfortable. Jesus made everyone gasp. They were uncomfortable in his presence. And so, I have become more comfortable with my awkward self, and I feel more at home around ones who say the wrong things. They have a place amongst us, too.

And perhaps the chair next to us is just as much for the homosexual who is confused, or determined in their lifestyle. Maybe just maybe– have we considered that God loves them no less than us, and in our separation we have shown a poor example of that? And maybe they are not as lost as we think– perhaps they are trying to find their way–floundering and very human like the rest of us. And perhaps, if we weren’t so uncomfortable around them, and pulled out a chair, said sit here, we would find they have some battle-worn stories too. And we would find another human being just begging to be loved, a soul crying for help. Isn’t that what Jesus was all about? Isn’t it why He came?

And just maybe, when we look around at our table, and see no one different from us outwardly, we should re-think that. Because yes, there are many different faces of God, and he has made some lovely skin to stretch taut over sisters and brothers all around us. When we plan our bible studies, and our place-settings, might I suggest we think of the black neighbor down the street, or the Asian sister who greets us with a smile everyday at our local fill-up station, maybe the Mexican sister or brother who attends our homeschool functions, but we notice they are always quiet?

Let’s not isolate ourselves from the ones who need our brave words, our bold love, our audacious grace– the most.

And let’s remember–they need it no more or no less, than we do. Let’s make this a table that is wide and large–let’s make room for everyone.

Don’t hide your love. Don’t hide your words. Forget about trying to please the masses with your words and your art. Forget about writing what you think is the politically correct or religiously correct term.

Write it real and write it true. That is what we want to hear. We are weary of sugar-coated religious platitudes.

Sister and brothers, listen up: Tell us YOUR story. Give us something real, brave, bold. God has designed you to make a mark. Let your light burn brightly, and light up the dark sky. Just let the words fall out, friend.

There is room at the table for broken, brave, beautiful you.

~by Nacole Simmons

Please watch the video– how beautiful –what encouragement–Y’all –I want to SEE YOU BE BRAVE!






Kelli Woodford considers curiosity a serious expedition and is rarely satisfied with anything remotely status quo. She collects friendships with people as different as they can be and feels all the richer for it, but never experiences “home” so much as when she is with her best friend–who also happens to be her husband. They make their abode in Love, but also in the Midwest with thier seven blue-eyed children. You can read more of her tantalizing words here at her blog, where she chronicles grace in everyday life, or find her hanging our here on Twitter  and Facebook . 





linking with friends, MichelleHolleyEmilyJennifer and Outside the City Gate

**This here is the wrap-up of a series on writing–the last week! Let’s all gather around the table in the comments and discussKelli and I will choose one *amazing* story on Tuesday morning, the 22nd, {the link-up is available until 8 am Tues} from the link-up below to feature on both of our blogs next week, on Wednesday, the 23rd!! And we’ll share on social media, too. So, what are the issues we face and deal with as writers? What has your own writing/blogging journey looked like? Please keep this theme in mind, and think of how you’d like to share your own story or journey of blogging/writing with us! If you’re featured, be prepared to provide a photo and a short author bio!

**{Requirements for link-up: Please no maligning/no mention in a negative manner of other blogs/authors/writers/brothers & sisters in Christ. Hurt does happen in community, and if we write about that, one option is to change the name/situation/dates, so that the people involved remain anonymous and are protected. “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9}

Other posts in this series below  

In Which I Invite Us All to the Table –Nacole Simmons

A Hand In Your Own — a guest post from Kelli Woodford


A Divided Loyalty and the Stinging Truth –a guest post from Michelle DeRusha   

Rooted In A Tangible Grace — Kelli Woodford   

On Prostitution: Cheap Grace and One Word: Enough –Nacole Simmons

In The End, Three Things Remain –a guest post from Holly Grantham

What I Want You to Know About Mental Illness, Social Media, and Community –Nacole Simmons

On Vulnerability and Boundaries –a guest post from Diana Trautwein 

Walking With Christ Online :: thoughts on faith, calling, and diversity –a guest post from Lisha Epperson


**Announcing the winner from the book giveaway last week! Beth Stiff, you’ve been hand-picked. Kelli chose a number between 1 and 3– and your # was chosen!! WOOT! Please leave a comment or message me with your address, friend!


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In Which I Invite *All* of us to the Table {The Conundrums of Christian Writing and Blogging: A Series}



You know these lines that seem to sometimes be drawn hard? They make me heart-sick, make me long for Home. I’m talking about up there, in the sky, where there is no camp of beliefs, there is no side, there is no arguing, there is no pushing others out for the sake of our own theology. I think this makes God very small, not that it changes Him, but who He is to us and them almost becomes obsolete, something we so easily discard for the glitz of new-fangled theologies and shoring up our traditional beliefs that have taken a battering.

There, where there is no camp, where He sits on the throne, and His Son, the darling of Heaven, illuminates everything, there will be no darkness in us and we’ll see clearly.

G.K. Chesterson said “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair”.

If religion really is about the way we love God and people, following the two greatest commandments our Saviour asked of us, how can we live this out?

Do we get too caught up in wrong and right, black and white? Do we divide and separate, hurt people in the pursuit of being right in our own religion?

When it comes to our brothers and sisters who are creating art alongside us, are we judging too harshly what others are bringing to the table because of our own likes, dislikes, beliefs and experience? Are we in actuality, because we believe our highest calling is to honor truth and religion as we see it done correctly, pushing the chair back in, and excusing people from the table, leaving them nowhere to partake in the body of Christ?

Are we making them feel uncomfortable in our piety, or by telling them that the pie on the buffet table they just dug into was special-made by a caterer for a church meeting and cost $20?

Our words, and the way we use them at any given time, can be so damaging to people’s hearts and dreams, and we need to be careful how we use those words on social media.

Have we broadcast a party, off in our secret corners, and made them feel uninvited? Have we made it for the elite only, for the rich, for the clean, for the holy, for the ones like-minded?

Does God want more from us?

There have been times I thought for sure I’d happened upon a community of believers that was for me, a place where it was safe, until I found, of course, that it was not safe, and hurt happens everywhere, and hurting people hurt people. It’s been hard for me to navigate the sometimes treacherous, sometimes loving, but always the very human waters of community.

I don’t know much, but I am sure we spend way too much time scrutinizing one another’s art, words, and lives, and not near enough time just loving.

I’d love to see us read, share and write in such a way that we look at it as exploring the many faces of God, because he has as many as there are on this great, spinning orb at this very moment.

I want to pay attention to every life I come in contact with, because they may not be here tomorrow, and they were the face of God for me, uniquely, in a way I’ll never get the opportunity to see again.

Why do we feel the need to be God, to call someone out, to correct, to criticize, to stifle their creativity? Whatever wrong we are so convinced we see in their art, or their lives, through our own filter, when we question their theology, their motives, their calling, we have become self-important and we take on a role only God was meant to have–the role of just judge. And we ask them to quit, tell them they aren’t good enough. We humiliate them, assault their human dignity in the name of truth telling.

Friends, this is the basest form of love, which really isn’t love at all. It’s more akin to apathy, because we’re serving our own purposes.

All I want to do is bend low and wash feet.

When walls keep getting thicker and higher, and lines keep being drawn hard, sides are taken, it becomes harder to wash feet, doesn’t it? If we’re honest, it becomes impossible.

I can’t help but walk around with this ache, thinking this isn’t what Jesus wanted. And this ache, it has no description.

I don’t have a church because I just don’t know how to anymore. I get online to find some community and I see my people scrutinizing one another, talking in whispers, off somewhere in a seemingly private corner, but oh, we must remember, everyone sees, others hear, and it hurts. It’s painful, y’all.

Let’s not whisper in corners. Let’s be bigger than that.

Can we be people who heal?

Let’s not ask one another to quit asking the hard questions. Let’s not ask one another to change theology in exchange for love and acceptance. Let’s not ask one another to quit writing, or creating, or living life audaciously. No, lets’s tell one another the sky’s the limit, because really, it is.

And please, for all that is holy, let’s not excuse someone from the table. They are the face of God, and we need God at the table. I beg of us, to be reverent, to be kind, to protect one another, to be the face of God for one another.

I beg of us to love.

During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: 

Take, eat.

This is my body.

Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: 

Drink this, all of you.

This is my blood, God’s covenant poured out for many people
for the forgiveness of sins.  

I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.” –Matt. 26:26-29; The Message

A Faithful Witness Established Forever {An Abstraction on Evergreen}



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

 No winter can harm it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Today’s prompt is EvergreenGO!


**{This link up will run until Sunday, the 19th, 11:59 am., giving you plenty of time to write and link-up before the next concrete words is posted the following day. Sometime between now & then, I will read your stories and highlight one of them from this link-up on social media. On the 19th, the prompt will be Hands .}


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!)

Because That’s What I Taught Them…{& In Which I Announce Concrete Words Writer & Give Link-Love}



When the leaves start to lose their chlorophyll as the sun gets less bright, my girls will get on that huge orange bus that always comes like a freight train and grass blowing and tossed in it’s wake. They’ll travel to new places unknown, take on new adventures. Things might look scary to them, from way down there where they are, looking up at adults with sticks and rulers and older, teenage girls kissing a boyfriend in the hallway.

I had my chance to teach them and in a bittersweet turn, it’s come to an end. I hope I taught them well. I hope that respect and quietness and reverence they have about them stays with them always. I don’t plan to give up my role as teacher. I hope the lessons I’ve placed deep in their hearts makes them rise tall and blossom and I want to see them fly.

I know if my little one gets shoved down into the dirt on the playground, she’ll cry, dust herself off, and yell at them to “STOP!”. I’m not afraid, because I know my girl. She’s tough. The stuff she’s made of is what has made me go to bed crying some nights.

I know if my nine year old gets held back a grade, or made fun of for her smallness if she moves on ahead, that she’ll laugh that contagious giggle, and tell them it just makes her quicker and cuter. I know she’ll have an endless amount of comebacks, because she’s dealt them out at home often. She has no problem making her mind known, and letting her confidence shine.

I know if my oldest girl walks shakily onto the high school campus and is overwhelmed by all the classes and work, and has nightmares about not being able to find her classroom, that the strength and solidity I see in her will see her through. She will navigate tough, unknown waters with sureness and capability.

I know, I just know that if they fall, they will get back up, dust themselves off, and try again.

Because that’s what I’ve taught them.

Honestly, I think this was more like 8 minutes–schooling the girls so intensely has my brain literally running at the speed of a sloth. At 5 minutes, I think I had, like, a total of 3 words.

**On Fridays I join Lisa-Jo and the #FiveMinuteFriday Community. We write for five minutes flat, with no extreme editing, no worrying about perfect grammar, no worrying if our words sound just right.

“Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”–Lisa-Jo Baker

The one-word prompt this week: FALL.

 Five Minute Friday

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords is:

Janel Andrews at Pour Cette Temps for the Afternoon–absolute stunning write. Janel hit the Concrete word nail on the head!

***Don’t forget that lovely Ashley Larkin will be guest-posting here, this Monday, June 10th at sixinthesticks for our prompt, the Morning! Give it your best shot and show me what ya got! Ashley will be picking her favorite post linked-up and will announce it on social media and possibly also on her blog next Friday!! Don’t miss this–Y’all please come by and give Ashley some lovin’! {Also, Ruth Povey will be taking Concrete Words on July 1st–mark your calendars!}

Here, y’all, just some randomness for your weekend, some laughter and link-love to inspire that I wanted to share with you and which I’ve been compiling over the last couple weeks…. {Have a lovely weekend, friends…}

Thought it’d be fun to share..what I wore Monday…my favorite necklace, a “Faith” necklace {And I’m not a faith-necklace-wearing-girl, but Kashoan made me into one} made by Kraftykash –GO! Check out her cool stuff.

A very funny Southern woman that had me chuckling–laughter is medicine to the mind, body, and soul….

This 1,000 gifts video and this article about a 14 year old boy with an amazing talent, shared by Ann Voskamp–well. worth. taking a look. It’s these kinds of creations of beauty, of pulsing life that keep me going when I only see darkness on this fallen earth…

This blog post by Preston Yancey–I see a new trend amongst writers, and it’s refreshing. Makes me sigh relief–that we could just keep the one thing the most important thing–the gospel, not a different or new one that we’ve heard, but the true one…

This one is amazing by Ann Voskamp…women need this one–then scroll down to the free print-outs–I’m printing these out, folding them with love, thinking of those I’ll send them to, with a sigh of contentment in my heart…maybe reaching out to someone is what you need to heal those broken places, too?

This one by Duane Scott–I’m A Christian and I Drink Starbucks–so do I , Duane, so do I. Love his heart.

Amazing write by Amanda Hill–Be Still, My Soul  –“And the silks, oh the silks. Without a harness at all, these incredible species of human beings climbed and bowed and swayed and made love to dangling ribbons from the sky…”

This Five Minute Friday write by Alia Hagenbach that made tears well up, because we’ve all been there, in some way or form…

This blog post by Jen Hatmaker–one of the absolute best blog posts I’ve ever read, possibly. Definitely on my top ten. You will laugh. Hard. And it will be good for the soul in so many beautiful ways. I promise that–especially if you’re a mom.

This good one by Lisa-Jo Baker–this one hit me in the gut–I’ve done this, and I know love isn’t about me, how good (or bad) my home looks, I’d love to throw my arms open wide and welcome friends into the chaos….

An important article on drowning as we all take our families to the pools and beaches this season…Your kids will not make a sound if they drown; read this to know what to look for…

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

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

**On Fridays I join Lisa-Jo and the Five-Minute Friday Community. Here are Lisa-Jo’s words:

 “We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST every Friday.

And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”

The one-word prompt this week was HERE.

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

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

Five Minute Friday

When Your Voice Is Silent {Fear Day 26}

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

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



GO.

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

STOP.

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

Five Minute Friday

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

Taking the Trash Out {When You Want the Flame to Grow Brighter} {Day 23}

I am not sure where things got lost, but they did. They were sucked off in the current like so much beautiful foliage, unnecessary frill and beauty and yet, at the same time, so needful.

I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere along the way we lost one another. We forgot what it was to hold gently the love between us, to cup it sacred and holy.

We forgot that only love is to be made in that marriage bed, not coldness, contempt and distance.

When I shew those birds away, something in me was loosed. God reminds me I have the power within–all of His power–to chase the darkness away.

When I stood there, under all of that black beating away in morning light, I felt it–the miracle of His light, His peace, His soothing and wooing of my heart.

I said I would love him when he walks in the door, and I know it, that even if things don’t go quite right, that Peace is with me, and I do–I love this man.

When he walks in, I tell him I have something to show him. He isn’t as excited as I thought he’d be, and my feelings are hurt. And I get upset again. He leaves for the store, and by the time he returns, we are both ready to stop all our foolishness. And this isn’t the first time we’ve been here. We step over all the trash we’ve thrown at one another, wade through the murky waters to get to one another.

It feels a little awkward that way, but it’s very necessary. That’s love.

Hollywood has given us the wrong idea of what love is. Love isn’t running up majestic mountain-tops or swimming across sparkling seas for those we love–it isn’t even a 2-story home in a gated neighborhood and 2.5 kids, everything perfect and sparkling. Those metaphors will never define love.

They don’t tell you that kind of love quickly dies, and you are left with the ashes of what once was. They don’t tell you that you have to let it smolder, and you have to apply force to it, rub it in continuous motion,  hold it gently and tightly in your hands, breathe holy on it with all your might, never let that love go out, and it’s an acquired skill that takes time–years. You have to sustain it, and when you can’t anymore–you go to the One who can.

It needs a constant kindling effort to make it grow into a flame.

And that flame can only get brighter as my Love and I get older.

In all my woman glory, I give the trash the boot–again–and it sits at the curb where it belongs.

He looks at me when I walk into the bedroom, water dripping from my hair down my back, and I shut the door because I know. He pulls me into him and I shudder at the love between us.

“Marriage is more than your love for each other.

It has a higher power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race until the end of time.
In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.
In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind.
Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.
…so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
(Excerpt from a wedding sermon, written May 1943 from prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)

Some resources I would recommend for marriage: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas  {which I am delving into again now}

Ann Voskamp recommends resources for marriage here, some of these I plan to read very soon…

**This post shared with Husband’s permission, and I hope you will join me, friends, as I continue to write on marriage this week. God is leading my heart there, whispering to me, wooing me….

Linking up with: Ann, Jennifer, Eileen, ShandaJolene, Hazel, and WFW ….

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

Do you struggle with fear– of him leaving, of marriage not turning out quite like you thought? Do you have a hard time giving the trash the boot–wading through the junk to get to one another? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these fears in your marriage? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


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

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

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

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

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

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

GO.

                                                                                                 

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

                                                                                                     photo credit


STOP.

Today’s one-word prompt was LOOK.

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

Five Minute Friday

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

Something For Your Soul and Social Fears {Day 5}

No “writing” post today, friends, as I do a CC meeting to prepare for the next six weeks, and take my baby to speech therapy. I’m leaving you with something good for the soul below. Be sure to check this out.

I’ve been thinking about fears connected with social pressure, around my CC meeting that was held here at my home today. How we want to perform well, how we are scared to death to not have it all together in front of everyone.

I’m thinking of how we dress everything up–dishes sparkling, floors shiny as a penny, candles burning sweet smells, how we stop off at a road-side pumpkin stand for beautiful white pumpkins and lavender mums to decorate the porch. Mums and pumpkins are something I do every year because they make my soul feel warm in the face of the inevitable cold coming.

 But I’m thinking of how we spin and everything’s a blur as we dash outside to make porch presentable for guests, slam the door shut on the laundry, and yell at our kids a bit as our emotional state unravels and people we don’t know very well creak up the gravel drive….

 I will definitely be writing on this fear of mine later. I will need to give this fear a name.

 For now, something for your soul…something my friend, Emily posted on Facebook. What I’ve been listening to ’round here this week… {You may have to click the link on the screen to listen on Youtube–really, just listen. Gorgeous…..}

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

Do you struggle with fear, friend? 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 5 of 31 days of Fear. Since I started 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 









Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to 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!