Category Archives: Sabbath

Jesus Brings The Sabbath To Me In Some Unnamed Field {An Abstraction on Altar}



On Saturday morning, from where I sit, on the white wooden-planked porch of our nearly one hundred year old home, it surely looks like the Sabbath. Little pots sit around here and there, one of them an antique rusty old kettle. Through the slatted railing, azalea bushes creep up, shooting up haphazard, their trim much overdue. The earth is baptized in sunlight, the ground is drenched with grace like rain, the yellow and white daffodils have begun to peek out, reminding me there are new beginnings and His mercies fall fresh every morning. Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming forth to carry me home… –it wafts beautifully from my neighbor’s home across the street.

It’s reminiscent of rides with my grandfather as a child, and listening to my grandmother’s gorgeous voice at her old piano, the warm, ambient glow of afternoon light filtering in through the window.

Worship happens anytime my heart opens to acknowledge God, and an altar is anywhere I choose to remember, and Sabbath can be kept on a porch swing, friends, sun-drenched in Heaven’s light, bathed in grace, the words of an old hymn finding their way to me on the breeze. Are these things coincidental?

I don’t believe so.

God made all that is in the earth and everything he made was for man, and he gave Jacob a dream in an unknown place. It happened out of nowhere, in a place of nowhere, and yet Jacob knew surely God had been there. He awoke, and felt the air still stirring with his presence.

And when I, sitting on my porch swing, by the over-turned flower pot, dry wintered soil spilled out, hear those soul-awakening words, is it by chance?

Or, have I met God, and is this place, indeed an altar?

What if I decided to not be so busy today that I couldn’t appreciate the sunshine I’m baptized in? What if I purposed to not blindly go about the responsibilities of life, and not be able to see the daffodils blooming for what it really is–seeds of hope and restoration and a reminder of God’s good mercy to me after a harsh winter?

What if I listened intentionally to the breeze, to my neighbor calling a friendly Good morning and the whir of bike spokes and giggles as the children play–and call it what it is–the Divine Here With Me.

What if I pay close attention to the moments now, and see God in all of it, instead of waiting for a church service on Sunday morning, rushing through the preacher’s sermon, struggling to listen, because my belly is empty and the words even emptier to my well-worn, preached-out ears?

What if I chose to be confident that Jesus brings the Sabbath to me, wherever I am, as he did with the disciples in some unnamed field?

I believe in a God of mercy, one who doesn’t keep time the same way we do. And so why should it bother him if for a time in my life, it is a season of healing? Should I be surprised that he said, if one man chooses this day to set aside as holy, and another man, a different day, neither is wrong, and both have good reasons?

God is not so weak that He can’t handle my woundedness and the time it takes for me to heal. I know He has it under control, and that my soul will not somehow wander off the narrow path and accidentally jump onto the pathway to hell. He holds me in His hands, and none can pluck me out.

I am grateful that God is a wild man, for whom time, and space, mathematical equations, science and modern theology does not matter in the face of his grandness and durability. And none of the things that we think are so important can dictate to him.

He goes His own way. And I follow. I am curious about this mysterious God, and I have more questions than answers. So, like a child intrigued, I follow Him to see what He will do next, what he will show me next.

Where and when He moves, there is a quiet stirring, and I want to listen for it. To know when He is here, when and where I’ve met God, on a Saturday, in a field, the sage brush waving praises to Him–

in the gentle lull of a song escaping through the windows of my neighbor, a welcoming entreaty to come inside and commune–

in a grocery store, in a clerk’s weary eyes, as I beg a smile–

and this wild God, He’s also present as my lover and I lie down and I tell him he’s the only one I have ever wanted and will ever want–that he is the only man I want to touch me.

I feel the peace cover us like a thick winter blanket. Night’s dew falls on the daffodils as he gently lays me back on the pillow, and my long hair splays out. The daffodils will bud even more tomorrow, they will spread, ever so gently, spreading wide open, a reminder of His promises that He would never leave.

And these places, they are the altars where He meets 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, ride a bike, play tag, listen for the wind, watch the trees, the sky, pay attention to the small, seemingly unnecessary details of your day. It is here you will find wholeness, here you will find strength, beauty, brokenness, goodness, joy, pain… Here you will find God. THEN write about it– Our prompt is Altar (next week’s is below), but our focus is on the practice of listening and then writing. Excited? We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #listeningtoyourlife and of course as always, #concretewords. Do me a favor and use these on social media and share with friends–invite them?

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


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

Today’s prompt is Altar. GO!



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


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Bold Enough to Declare It {An Abstraction on Serve}





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

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

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

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

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

When He moves, I want to move with Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just need to be bold enough to declare it.

                                                             *names changed to protect people in the story

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

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


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

Today’s prompt is Serve. GO!


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


Here I’m Known {Also A Highlight of Concrete Words & Other Writers that Rock +Beauty for Your Weekend!}

I lie there on her breast and my cries are instantly quieted, my heart is calmed, the
beating and fast-breathing slow.
I am nourished here, loved here, held here.
I lie with them, their cheeks have all been at my breast,
their mouths searching for the warm that ran
and nurtured them
skin to skin
they were loved here,
held here
known here
We run in sunlight together,
they call to me in afternoon
the flowers swaying in breeze
 birds calling and swooping
they yell, Mama, come play
I give over silently and jump up there
We are soaring, jumping into the air
like so much flying and freedom
wind caught in our hair
laughter ringing out
here a moment is captured,
held
Here I am known by them
They see me when I laugh
and my eyes crinkle
and they know its the love for them
that makes eyes sparkle in mid-day
I look over and see his soft plaid pajama pants
The fuzzy wooly hairs make me feel toasty
It’s raining outside
I hear drops falling hard on the roof
Hitting our metal air-conditioning unit
We lie in bed at night together
He lays an arm around me, wraps tight
spoons in close
I scoot back, tuck in just right.
He is so warm
and here is all I ever want to be
I could lie here with him like this my whole life
Here I’m held,
Here I’m loved
Here I’m known.

**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: COMFORT.

 Five Minute Friday

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer(s) I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords is: {they were too good and I couldn’t choose!}

Holly Grantham at A Lifetime of Days–The Road
Maryleigh of Blue Cotton Memory–Blueberry Patch Road
Loretta of Dancing on the Dash (can I say, first, I’m in love with this blog title)–Stumbling Blocks and Altars

*********
Some lovely reading, some creativity, some beauty for the weekend?

All the best links for me this week: {If you’re a mom, quick–scroll down to Lisa-Jo’s link and read, watch the video, and hit print on that lovely bookmark to remind yourself on the days when you feel you can’t keep going and it isn’t worth it–that you are mighty, because you mother.}

Nish Weiseth–A Personal Revival–Absolutely this. If you can only read one thing on this list, this one.

hill+pen–Bring On The Rain–Words escape me, trying to describe this write by Amanda Johnston-Hill. Just read it. This is sacred. This is beautiful. This is God in our midst.

The G.O.S.P.E.L.–This. is. wonderful. The girls and I listened and inhaled truth and exhaled grace. For your weekend–a reminder of The. Most. Important. Thing. Carry it with you all weekend as you rest in Him?


G.O.S.P.E.L. from Humble Beast Records on Vimeo.

John Piper–The Gospel in Six Minutes 

Jennifer Lee–How To Really Shine (Even If You’re Feeling Small)–Whoa, lovely Jennifer mentors and gently encourages the moms and all of us with her exquisite words, her hushed lullaby writing….

Lisa-Jo Baker–Mighty Mom Video and Printable–all of us mothers need this–this weekend…just breathe…

Ann Voskamp–The Ultimate Girlfriend Gift–Oh, I just can’t get over Ann’s words, and every time she writes on this topic, my heart aches, and my soul sings, and I long to do crazy things…. A must read. 

“When you feel like you are losing your way, that is what your sisters are here for — to sing your Father’s song to you, all of us singing it soft and strong and certain —
We your sisters, will sing your beauty when you see yourself ugly.
We your sisters, will sing you wanted when you see yourself broken.
We your sisters, will sing you hope when you only feel hurt.

We your sisters, will sing you Beloved — when you just can’t believe.”



Chronicles of Grace– Kelli Woodford–And So It Begins…I. love. this. Yes, yes, yes!

Janel Andrews–This made me weep so very good.  

These beautiful music videos below are truly awe-inspiring. Right where you are, take a peek into the world around you this weekend? Join in the rhythm of God’s heartbeat…



MANY STEPS from Takayuki Akachi on Vimeo.

In Which I Highlight Concrete Words Posts and Give You the Best ‘Round the Net


A few weekend links of some of the best of what I’ve read ’round the ‘ol net {and some to make you laugh too–hope you enjoy! ~

Kelly Chripczuk– Spring Snow (Remain here, Stay)

Emily Freeman–Why I Want to Subscribe to Your Blog (And Why I Hope You’ll Subscribe to Mine)

Tara Pohlkotte–Reflection

Kelli Woodford–The Morning After

Ann Voskamp–How Hurting Women Can Help One Another Heal 

The Actual Pastor–To Parents of Small Children–Let me be the one who says it out loud

Kid Snippets: Math Class (Imagined by kids)

Beth Moore: The Hairbrush Story  

Dove Experiment Aims to change the Way You See Yourself –This. This! A thousand times this–if you watch or read nothing else this week–this one here!! 


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 still be highlighting a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!

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

Ruth Povey, at learning {one day at a time} for her piece, Worship.
Kelly Chripczuk at A Field of Wild Flowers for her piece, Making Straight the Crooked    


I’m off to the Jumping Tandem Retreat, y’all! Pray for this introverted country girl? First time flying alone, and I’m so excited/terrified/giddy/ nervous about this amazing writer’s retreat, the people I’ll meet and the refreshing encouragement and courage I’ll come back with!! 

Linking with…

and Sandra for Still Saturday…

Lasso Tomorrow {An Abstraction on the Moon & Concrete Words Link-Up }

                                                                                       Photo credit
I watch her, so full in glow right over the tree line.
Sometimes she is just a haunting sliver,
sometimes round in her beautiful girth,
sometimes heralded with a smattering of twinkling stars–
but she always startles me with her lonely gaze, how she stands proud
and straight, how she claims the night-sky hers,
dares anyone to come close.
She takes up her space up there
I put thumb and index finger right over her,
she’s so small
I open and close and I can just see her,
so tiny, fitting in the inch between my pinched fingers
And yet she glows so bright she lights up the whole world.
I am in awe at her Creator
Sometimes she looms above me as I run round the lake
and I beg her for more time as she lowers upon my head
and rippling, still black water
Sometimes she slinks shy behind the trees,
or she proudly shines high in the sky
And sometimes it’s like that with me–
my head is downcast and I have to look up
to find the light.
I look up and see her, just behind talls trees,
their bare-naked, skinny arms reaching up high toward her,
pointing The Way for me toward Something Bigger
The white beautiful pregnant full orb of her shines like a beacon
in the night and she whispers
Hush, child, slow down, she says to me.
Take in all the beauty around you, let it seize you, grip you, leave you 
flushed in it’s tightened embrace
I hear her, Hush….
I see the way through the darkness, because she promises to
always shine on for me, to never go out,
she is my way home, and her constant never-changing
sings the praises of The One who is always the same
and does not change,
a lighthouse signaling to all ships chartering their course
in the night on open sea,
to all ships who’ve lost their way
in black velvet waters specked here and there with stars.
I will never be lost and I will always be home–
this I’m promised.
I watch her, her bosom so full as if she might nurse the whole world,
and I wonder could I ride the moon,
could I lasso her and tame her, break her, ride her into the next world?
I place my thumb up in front of my face, block her out, wiggle my thumb,
she’s there, then she’s gone.
What would it be like to walk on her? Would it be possible
to bring her down here, to me?
How does she stay up there night after night?
Does she ever fall from the sky, forget to shine, forget to point the way
for those who need it, for us wanderers?–
No, she stays night after night, millenniums old,
hung with the tippy tip of God’s little finger.
And I feel old too, like her, the shining coming from within,
nothing I have but with what I’ve been given
I feel her reflection now, her quietness, her hush.
I know and understand now what she means.
There is a time to work and to rest.
Rest, child now, rest. 
Lasso tomorrow.

Gratitude: {#1067-1075}…. Continuing to give thanks, even when the heart doesn’t feel it…

For a husband who listens, even if he has to work at it–working at it is love…
for children’s laughter that sounds like worship, my joy in them making the moment complete
Hands in God’s dirt
Sunshine on our faces
Red Cardinals and blue jays swooping through the yard
That I can call my Mama when I’m in trouble, when I need someone to calm me down…
For children who make my life complete and full, busy, giving me purpose…
For friends who love unconditionally
For birthdays and haircuts and airplane tickets (!!) –a line borrowed from my friend, Kelli

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 a story, a memory, a feeling, a belief, and make me feel what you felt, describe the scene around you, the textures, the emotions, the tastes, smells, the light. Tell me what you touch, see, hear–this is concrete words. It’s a way to describe the invisible things that are around us, (that we may take for granted) in every day life. The prompt is not the concrete word–the concrete words are what you use to place us there in your story.  

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


Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is Worship. {This week I’m starting 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, HeatherEmily, 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!** 


Bending {Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives}

I open wire gate, walk through tiny garden and white azaeleas toward the kitchen. Her soft, croaky voice, with it’s high notes, weathered with time, wafts out the screen door as she instructs the children that have already flown inside to her, ahead of me.

This is not the home of my childhood that I remember, but she cooks for us here and makes her days here, and so it will do.

Dumplings and chicken piled high in the pot, the steam rising, she’s slightly bent over the counter in the tightly spaced kitchen, beautiful white hair slightly coifed from church that morning, rolling dough out in flour, the dough that my grandfather said she rolled way too thin. Less meat, more dumplins, he tells her. This would become the center of discussion and debate at the table.

“Ah! You are making chicken and dumplings!” She nods–I see the twinkle of pride in her eyes. She knows it’s my favorite and I had asked for it weeks ago when I was sick but she couldn’t come because she was too.

I set about the hard task of putting myself right into the work, a hard thing to do when you are used to your Granny always waiting on you, for all those years, and she never asked, really always discouraged help.

But I can’t bear sitting while she bends and breaks, so I plant myself right in her way and throw the soft unbaked bread on white powder and roll it out with 50 year old wood, careful of the sink water two inches away from floured paper.

The old wood, full of family history–it feels perfect in my hands and I watch the way the thick stuff flattens and smooths. We work side-by-side, Sunday afternoon sun streaming in through screen door, hitting our backs, and she willingly waits for the dough, throws it into boiling broth while I do the bending and smoothing.

She and I strain pears, that good juice running down the drain making no sense to me, and I call the girls in for them to pile the grainy sweetness on plate with mayo and cheese. The pears, they shine in the Sabbath sun. We do the most important and holiest of work and teach them a poor man’s {or hurried woman’s} Southern dessert.

I go to the hall closet in search of some stain remover for baby’s dress, and I see a woman’s tireless work, how she chooses to walk out her days, always working, serving, never giving up and there they are, staring out at me–clean, plush towels lined up neatly row after row, her bottles of cleaning supplies tucked in here and there. She has touched deep places of influence in me she will never know anything of.

In the kitchen, we cluck and cackle and over sweet tea–has the sugar been added?–where the children will eat, girls, set the table, ice for glasses, and I take Granddaddy’s tea to his chair. The kids will have the little table in the kitchen.

Granny steps to the living room, and addresses Granddaddy: “What do you want now?!” We laugh at their old-couple squabble and we all gather around with trays and talk important matters, including whether the dumplings should have been thicker, and our stomachs are nourished with flavors of the South, that soul food warm all the way down.

Granny gets enough of Granddaddy’s complaining and in her feisty way, tells him she was aimin for healthier.

After the plates are cleaned, Husband needs a t-shirt for football with the church men, and Granddaddy says look in the second drawer. Underneath several bottles of cologne for a man who enjoys smelling good, I open drawer and pick up soft, worn t-shirts one by one, reminded of when I was a little girl, needing a t-shirt for staying over-night. They all say XL, and I know that will not fit my man.

I search and in the back, in shadows, a card with cute purses on the front sticks out between folds–I know immediately it was the card I gave him years ago. My heart hammers a little harder as I hold it up, open it, and I am so touched that he has kept it safely tucked away in his drawerthe place all men keep things close to their hearts.

The greatness of these two people stands above me, looming, but I try to tell them in scrawled words–loops and crosses a little unsure and timid but knowing what is in the heart to say–how I sit and think sometimes of the beauty of how they live out the gospel in their livesthat they may never have been missionaries, or involved in some limelight ministry, but their family has been their mission field–how they never stop giving even after they’ve given all–they have fleshed out Matt 5:38-42–how they have brought glory to God, our very realest purpose, and I tell them this is the greatest compliment you could ever be paid.

“You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” –Matthew 5:38-42

Husband finds me standing at the drawer, asks if I found anything. He sees the tears brimming, wants to know what this is about. I show him the card and he says, “Who is this from?” He watches my eyes, looks into me. Nothing gets his attention like the wet pouring down his wife’s cheeks.

A little shyly–“Me.” I pick up a bottle of cologne and inhale, and try to remember.

He reads the first few lines and skims it over, smiling. He reads the date, “2007…” his voice a little unsteady. I wonder if he is remembering the year that we had Isabella, when we were still at our old church with our beloved Pastor and his wife, when we were married to a church body, before spiritual devastation happened, when life was very, very good and God’s graces flowed abundantly. Like babes, we ignorantly lapped it up, not fully knowing what we had.

I reach up into the closet shelf where a soft blue t-shirt, something close to cadet blue, peeks out and I look at the tag, oh, a Large, this will have to do.

I walk into the living room, right up to the man and hand him the card, tell him it made me cry to find it there, to read it, bend down and take his face in my hands and tell him he is a wonderful Granddaddy, my body bent over and my heart bent over in all this weeping reality, all this gospel light, all this love.

Instead of looking at me and acknowledging, he makes some remark about how not everybody thinks he’s so great. But I know it’s hit it’s mark–right there in the softness of his heart the arrow pierced–I can see that little bit of twinkle in his eye, the smile dancing in the corner, that he won’t let have center-stage.

He avoids my eyes, but I know he hears me. These are the only words he ever wanted to hear in the whole of his life.

I lay down in the dark coolness of their room with baby girl next to me, and she fidgits some, but like me, her body soon gives way to Granny’s high thread-count sheets, shadow’s cool of blankets piled high atop us.

I lie there thinking as I drift off, how many graces God has given, how He has bent low and heard me, listened to my heart’s cry, that mighty God himself would bend over, heart exploding for me, this is extravagant grace that I can hardly imagine or fully allow.

But in spite of me, His arrow has hit it’s mark and I gush over and out and I can do nothing but fling arms open wide to all this love.

**edited re-post from the archives

Shared with Sarah Bessey at her International Women’s Day synchroblog, where we’re writing about Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives…

Related: A Beautiful Tapestry Not Of My Own Making {Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives}…“I have sat on summer and fall afternoons on her screened in wrap-around front porch, us swinging on her oak swing, Mississippi breeze blowing gently, as her voice so shaky and slow, told me of her husband, an alcoholic, and how he beat her. She told me of how the kids would run outside and play up under the house so they wouldn’t have to be around…” Click here to read more…

Some Joy For Your Saturday! {Laughter Cures Fear Day 14}

Go outside, soak in the sunshine, and enjoy Sabbath rest…

“When it snows, she has no fear for her household…..She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”–Proverbs 31:21;25

I found this on Ann Voskamp’s site, and it was too genius not to share with you. The girls and I watched and this really is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. We laughed ’til our sides ached and the tears rolled… Maybe this can lighten your Saturday with joy? We’re all sick with a bug around here, and I tell you, this was just what I needed, as I stare longingly at the beautiful sunshine out my window….

You can find more laughter here {and free joy printables for the fridge, for around the home, to remind us of the importance of joy–I will be posting these so I will see my real reflection in them –see Christ– every time I look up} at Ann’s site….So worth the watch!

I’m taking a break from writing this weekend and resting, enjoying movies, taking care of littles as their tummies ache, looking in eyes and saying I love you, and maybe we’ll get a chance to run around outside in all this sunshine when the tummy aches are over….  Hopefully I will see you back here Monday for more posts in a 31 Day series on Fear.

You can find and read the entire 31 Day collective here.