Category Archives: seasons

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!)

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All Ramblin Roads Lead Home {An Abstraction on the Road}

There are ramblin roads that run over into the deep, wild blue yonder somewhere, the soft washed-out denim stretching out too taut over an expanse above me, going on and on across fields forever in the distance and how do we know where roads lead?

I’m somewhat of a roving rebel, my heart twisted in knots. I’m a tattoo wearing, face-pierced non-conformist. But it’s all in my head. So far I’ve been afraid. Can you see me? Can you see me hurting? I don’t mean to kick and scream while God is carrying me, angry child, but life’s experiences have made me hard and tough and my heart wounded and painful to the touch underneath. I’m still stubborn, unwilling to break quite all the way.

I’m always afraid of what I can’t see comin’ and I tend to hide out in my own little corner of the world, knees up to my chin, bare feet sort of turned in, tears running down my cheeks, glistening as they fall.

But the other side of me loves being the dare devil. A seventeen year old me liked the idea of cutting class for Mardi-Gra and smoking a cigarette even though it was bad for my body. Sometimes I still feel seventeen.

My sister and I walk into a beauty store after a workout and my tennis shoes squeak on the tile floor. I scan all of the colors, pick up a few–eggplant, smoky grey, and teal–roll their cold glass round in my hand. I tell her I’m buying black fingernail polish because I’m feeling the need to be rebellious. She laughs at my straight-shooting.

I love daring to be brave, climbing and running hills, throwing myself against elements and earth.

I love those trails that run deep into woods and make me take in breath sharp, my feet right on the edge  where it goes straight down, dirt crumbling from underneath my rubber tread, and falling far below.

When I’m alone like this, I am ready to tackle anything. But with people, I’m stumbling to find my way.

I never in a million years would have thought that by taking a plane and my friends taking roads and planes from all across the country to meet in one central point, that my life could be changed.

Oh, but it was.

All of us weary travellers, either by car, on long highways or because of the baggage we’ve carried with us through life, we came together. Some of us more jaded because of experience, some of us more rebel without a cause, some of bible-carrying fierce warriors pushing back darkness, some of us more quieted by age. {I bet you guessed which category I see myself in}.

In that place I was refreshed by seeing another weary traveller’s silhouette, the reflection of my pain caught in their eyes, in a spark of a moment, in a pouring out of a soul.

I knew I wasn’t alone, travelling on roads which I knew not where they led.

Because when you’re in the company of others, the light pouring in from a window, illuminating their face and hair, fire crackling in a fireplace, so much Son in a room, in so many different faces, you realize something and it’s a life-changing moment in your story.

You realize this: that we are all travelling different roads and God has given us all different paths to take. Jesus said narrow is the gate, but he meant the way by which we enter, which is He, The Word made flesh.

When Jesus stepped into skin, pulled it on taut, he became the gate for us.

He never meant for our stories, our journey along the road to look the same, and all of us together as a collective are showing the many facets of a great, expansive God. You are the face of God, and I am the face of God, and we two are completely different.

All of us are coming to that one gate, and our roads and paths are hard and soft places, sediment rocks falling far below where we tread, some of us trudging through muddy swamp that tries to engulf us. There are highs and lows, some of us tend to stay in valleys more than mountains, some of us sure of our beliefs and some of us doubting Thomases, and we intersect one another along our journey, sometimes meeting for a beautiful, but brief moment as we glimpse into one another’s lives and we do the stuff that makes us brave.

Even though it is scary to go out on that limb and pull you in, and say walk with me, somehow I know all the roads lead home, and we’re helping walk one another there.

Gratitude: {#1083-1094}

Friends, my tribe, my people–whatever you want to call it–I have it now amongst the body::A weekend to breath, without social media, out in the open country::little girls in cowgirl boots::Ivy exclaiming when he said he was finally going to the barn, her hands over her chest “Oh, I hoped with all my heart you would say that!!”::My littlest cowgirl in piggy tails::Sunshine and warmth::A beautiful fire under a starry sky on a chilly night::Peanut m&m’s::Talks with my mother, feeling like maybe we’re friends and not knowing when or how this happened::Playing I-spy with my girls and family–no one being able to guess mine::Husband watching baby girl go down the slide and playing ball with girls after months of having to work so hard

Friends, I am also at Bibledude.net today, where they are featuring my first story ever to be published with an online magazine! Excited doesn’t begin to cover it. I hope you’ll come over and hang out? I’ll pour the bubbly (cider, juice) or even sweet tea, and meet you in the comments.

***Dear readers, I had a conversation with the ever-sweet Amber Haines, and her handing over Concrete Words to me was and is meant to be a permanent deal. sixinthesticks will now be it’s home for good. Amber has a lot of commitments and will no longer be doing it on her blog. She has asked me to take it and run with it, change it up, make it my own. I hope those of you who have been with Amber the whole time will be along for this wild, fun ride! I’ve never had so much fun with writing!! ***


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. When you share this post on twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords.

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

Next week, our Concrete Words prompt is the Frame {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!}

Which road do you think you’re on? In what way does the road before you seem mysterious and hidden? How do you discern that others cross your path, on their own journey, but heading the same direction all the same? How are you trusting God when the path seems unsure? Tell me in the comments! 

{This post shared with Laura, Ann, Jen, Heather for the EO, Jennifer for #TellHisStory, Emily at IP}






On Letting Go, Daffodils, and the Narrow Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I take her hand and lead her there.



“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” 
Matthew 7:13-15; New King James
“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires total attention.”
Matthew 7:13-15; The Message
**edited re-post from the archives
This post shared with Ann, Jennifer, for #TellHisStory, and Beth at Messy Marriage, where she writes real, raw, and redemptive.

On Voice And Fear of Being Uniquely Me {Day 7}

Photo credit

“It’s harder than you think. It’s not enough to be good. You have to be great…You’d better love it. (Otherwise, quit now.)”–Jeff Goins, writer

This world moves a little too fast for me–blogging, writing, tweeting–it all seems to blur straight past me, and I’m a straggler, weary to keep up.

Every day there are more stories that are important to read, tweeted writing advice I should pay attention to. I open them so I don’t forget and they never get read.

I wonder, amongst so much good advice, so much rich story-telling, so many beautiful voices on the web and in great books, what IS my voice? How do I find this elusive thing?

If I find it, does it have a place amongst such beauty, depth, richness, and efficiency moving forward, me left standing in the wake of all that momentum?

I read this on Amber Haine’s site and it left me reeling a little. Thank God for writers like Amber, who really write what we’re all thinking. Stories are great, and must be told, must be written, handed down. I believe in this.

But telling the truth? This is priceless,

and I’m a just-starting-out-writer who is so grateful for people like her, who make me pause, make me ponder and reflect, draw up out of me what’s really clawing at the surface, fighting to get out. The problem is that I keep stuffing it back down.

But that voice that keeps asking me what is your voice, Nacole? Where is it? 

That voice is very important, and it just may be that it’s the very voice I’m looking for—the one I’ve been stuffing down, shoving a sock in, telling it to hush so I can do this grown-up business.

The whole time I’ve been on this quest to find my voice–even when I wasn’t aware that’s what I was doing–and all along, that holy grail, has been trying to claw it’s way out of an early grave, buried alive.

I’ve been squelching it out of fear. How much of what God created me to be have I silenced and buried deep because I was afraid to be me, out loud, with no apologies?

I’m thinking about voice, as seasons change and things are hard for me, and I sometimes feel I’ve committed to too much, and I stand braced against the gale winds–

and I think, maybe voice is about just that–maybe it’s letting go of the fear and inviting whatever will come, maybe it’s not being willing to change who I am for anybody, not a jot or a tittle.

Maybe it’s just being uniquely me. Here is where I choose to take the road less traveled by and I let go of my fear of being “me” all wrong.

There is no right or wrong way of being me, because God created me the only one.

What freedom.

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 being uniquely you, 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…


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


This is one post in a series of 31 days of Fear. You can find the entire 31 Day collective here.  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?   







Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer Lee. 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 my friend, Jennifer’s site for a GIVEAWAY!You can enter until the 14th! 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!

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!

Graceful: A Summer Captured {Five Minute Friday}

Graceful like the long flowing sundress I’m wearing, and the hot summer breeze that takes my breath away.

Like so much butter pecan ice cream piled high, root beer poured in and how we all just slow down for a moment and watch as it froths up in the breeze of the kitchen fan, summer a damp sheen on our skin. Husband watches too, a proud satisfied smile, his reward.

It’s how we take a root beer float to a little girl down the street, how we just walk right up and they aren’t expecting it, and her grin spreading wide and captivating me.

 
 

We shovel dirt, breaking in brazen sun, beads of sweat rolling down the small of my back.

It takes work to make things beautiful. I am thankful for the warm days to bathe in.

A little one takes a break, face red, she lies across the pool slide. We plant lillies, their orange manes roaring up a hello at me.

We put our meat on a stick right down into a flame, and marshmellows over a fire taste yummy and  gooey and sticky on little hands.

 
 
 
 

We play dress-up and have fabulous plays, we chase lizards and frogs, and the smell of hay and fresh-cut grass catches us by surprise, traveling inside and filling our heads with the grainy, earthy aroma.

                                                          

 

It’s the simple things that are filled with so much grace.

It’s in how I take a blanket out and it parachutes down softly hitting the ground, covering so gently underneath dappled, cool light.

We find a flat spot for steaming green tea made cool by frozen cubes plunked in. I cut into the dripping yellow running over the stiff white with the steely, hard edge of a fork.

We lengthen and stretch out our day, give it a rhythm of words called out and problems added up and subtracted and the answer is one graceful summer.

***It took a little longer than 5 minutes to write this–but I had so much fun with it; I didn’t worry about how my writing sounded, as the rules go–just what came to mind and heart– and wanted to share our summer in colors beautiful and express what’s on my heart as it comes to a close and fall ushers in…….. {The pictures took longer than 5 minutes as well ~chuckle~} I hope the other 5-Minute Friday Girls will forgive me! I will be back on the 5 Minute Friday link-up with a true 5 min. write soon–they are so much fun!!

Linking up with Lisa-Jo where we try out an exercise of writing only for five minutes, releasing and not regretting whatever flies out of it’s cage in that five minutes! Pure joy! Join us?
Five Minute Friday

In Which I’m Real, Tell Why I Quietly Write {& Plead for Grace}

I settle a little one down whose cries awakened Husband, and I sob to him at 2 am that I feel like I’m being crushed. Panic racing through my mind–all the buzzing screens, clicks, words, conversations–play and re-play in blazing fast-forward like a bad trip.

When I lay my head on his chest, and he wraps arm ’round, it feels like being rocked.

I rock out the sobbing cry, snubbing and stammering out the fury of emotions held inside for weeks and months. I can’t breathe, I tell him, can’t sleep, and how I thought as I lie there that it would be better if all this was ended. It comes out in rythmic force. I constantly feel. as if the bottom. is about to. fall out. from beneath me. Hands flail in the dark and hot lava pours down flaming red, puffy cheeks. The Shadows don’t let him see, but Husband, he knows me. He asks if I always feel this way. I nod, murmur a quiet yes, the waves of terror all starting to subside as his understanding and caring begin to sweep over.

The social anxiety, insomnia, and depression here since Lilly was born, I google agorophobia and, yeah, I bashfully admit to myself, the symptoms are there. I didn’t know there was possibly a name for the feeling I get when I can’t keep up with the world.

I don’t know if this is the right name, but for me, learning that there is a name out there for this sort of thing? This helps explains the innate, powerful urge for quiet, why I run from social media in an age when “everyone” is constantly engaged, why entering the grocery store and going to church feels like I’m lying on a bed of nails. It explains the blurring mind-racing and sobbing at 2 am. My mind, my body just can’t keep up.

But maybe I’m not supposed to keep up. Maybe I’m not built that way–all this tweeting and sharing comments with the world? I’d like to softly whisper it, and send it out on the summer breeze: I don’t know that I’m God-built to be in constant contact, with distractions too many for me to keep my head from spinning.

Maybe that’s the good news here? That God already knows what we can handle? He did create the Sabbath–so He intelligently calculated rest into the equation of time, apart of our daily routine. He worked and rested–so I should work and rest. And rest–that can take on quite a different face for all of us. For some, this means never entering the full force of social circles that overpower and leave us weak.

Lying in his arms, I tell him I’m weak, that there are so many things I want to do–grow a garden with my girls, learn to knit with that kit my Mama bought me four years ago, read that stack of books, be a loving mama to these four kids, educate these four kids, just go out in the sunshine with them–and not enough physical strength to man-up to all the work everyday.

How many things do I have to pare back, pull away so there is room to breathe?

I serve on no committees, run no charities, bake no fresh bread. I’m just a mom who has a huge pile of laundry, a grocery list I’m afraid to go to the store with, and everything where it shouldn’t be–a few apple cores lying around in laundry baskets and books lying with their white-paged corners pushed just far enough, yes, smudged right there in the grape jelly on the kitchen counter.

And admist the chaos, I’m just a simple girl with a love for simple things: running, flowers, sunshine in my children’s hair.

I really want to say this out loud: I need these simple things–these God-gifts–to feel connected, to feel that I belong, to feel that I’m okay in this whole wide universe. 

When all around me and underneath me feels like it’s falling apart, I just want to know that I’m simply held, that it’s enough for me to just be and that God gets glory through that.

So maybe this really is the important thing to know: there are just seasons of simple. Seasons when all God is calling us to do is the very basic. And in some seasons the tasks of sleeping, eating, getting exercise and taking care of our families can even be a challenge. Every. single. day.

I’m not built to do it all. None of us are. Sometimes I just have to scale back on expectations, peel back committments so I can scale up these mountain walls and peel back these shadows to see–peel back this thick, dark cloud of burden, behind which lies the stage where real life is played out. Where food and Word is enjoyed by the whole family at mealtime, water satisfies children’s parched throats, and I look on lovingly, every bone in my body that cries out for heaven satiated in this small moment of God’s glory felt as I rock my child, yellow silky whisps brushing my cheek in these shadows. And it’s right here in these fleeting heartbeats that I know that I can’t be everything to everyone, but I can do this, right now, here in the quiet where no one sees.

It’s like Husband so wisely keeps telling me: “You aren’t a writer who happens to be a mother. You are a mother who just happens to be a writer.”

I will scale up that mountain, ask God to help me peel back that cloud, and shout out from it’s very top: God has made me free in His gospel of grace, and though these weary bones cry out for Heaven in this worldly tug-of-war, He has made me the way I am to cause me to turn to Him in praise! He makes me see His excellence in making me and I turn to His arms for comfort and rest. There I am free, really, really free, in His understanding Father-arms.

And in the shadows, God, He knows me.

Just a few of my Grace-Gifts from the past month, counting in thankfulness to God still:

one lone bright yellow maple leaf on the ground of the woods

hiatus leaving me refreshed and healed from so much anxiety

girls’ giggles

Husband working hard on schoolroom

messes in floors made by baby girls, all of us having work and a purpose, and buckets and mops making floors shiny

a weekend alone at home–just the two of us–and a day out of town having fun together

Husband grilling salmon and eating outside in the middle of the week

jumping up spontaneously on the trampoline to enjoy being with my girls and getting a workout at the same time!

kitchen table top gleaming beautifully

the way a wash rag feels in my hand as I make beautiful

a surprise visit from a dear friend

time to sit and write a letter to a close friend

time alone to run free in the woods

how he needs me, how I need him

**Please read–Friends, I write this post with a trembling heart, not knowing how it will be received. Because of what I expressed here, I will not be able to answer comments and visit very many blogs–although 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 with God is what we truly need. Just a place to reflect, pray, dream. I thought of taking the comment section off completely, but I would like to give you the opportunity to share if you like. I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. You all really do add such depth to the journey here…Also, I’d like you to know that when I see you here, my heart just leaps out of my chest to connect with you–to let you know I hear you! Oh friend, I’m so glad you understand, and thank you for so much grace! I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here.  

joining with Ann for counting gifts….. and also for Walk With Him Wednesday… Shared with Emily…

Embracing Plucked Daffodils {And Resurrection Life}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*an edited post from archives

Shared with Ann in community at…

Good-Bye To Winter {Five-Minute Friday}

On Fridays, we link up with Lisa-Jo at the gypsy-mama and we write for only five minutes with a one-word prompt, without worrying if it’s perfect–no backtracking, over-thinking, or editing. In Lisa-Jo’s words, we throw caution to the wind–in my words–FUN! Maybe you would like to join us? Click on her button at the bottom…So here goes…

Prompt: Good-bye.

GO.

Good bye to winter, that season that always brings cold through my soul.
Good bye to old ways and old habits, old days that were no good to me, but God knew
God knew something greater was forming
Good bye to despondency and guilt, depression and darkness
Good bye to the lull and the void
Good bye to days of nothingness and feeling worthless
God knows I am worth something–He knew me and formed me, knitted me
Good bye to the pain of bearing children that I feel inadequate to raise into little ladies into godly women
God knew that He would give me grace enough
Good bye to all those days that wore me down, drug me down with the weight of them and carried me to the depths
God knew that He would save me
Good bye to the days of not being strong enough to teach, shape, learn, listen, mold, love, cherish, honor, celebrate
Good bye to the babies that they were
God knew they would grow up and He would give me more than enough wisdom

STOP.

Seasons {31 Days to Holistic Christ-Centered Living–Day #10}

I’m not so much sitting as I am reclined back, feet propped on suspended laziness under the maple tree, head resting against a pillow, listening to leaves rustle, sway and fall in the cool breeze of Autumn air, the warmth of the sun wrapping me in my cotton cocoon.

This is the dual season of fall and winter in the Deep South. The strong arctic wind blasts of snow are somewhere far away to the North. As I sit here (recline here), I notice the Spider Lillies are in bloom in our backyard. Lorna walks up to me and says, “Mama, the spider web flowers are blooming!” and my heart smiles warm.

It’s a full circle of life moment, when I recall all in one breath how my Mama, as a little girl, always enjoyed the spider lillies blooming in the fall, how Autumn has always been her favorite season, how as a small child, I brought the delicate spiny autumn inside for her to put on the sill, and how I, as a young girl, wrote poet’s lines about my favorite flower and pined for a love lost on leaves blowing in the fall.

Now my daughter knows the joy of them and their meaning–the ending of one season, sad as it is, but the beginning of something far greater than we could imagine.

God sees the bigger picture, doesn’t He?

We never fully see, but thinking that we can see, our perspective grows jaded and gloomy, like looking through a glass darkly, and we doubt and lose hope.

And we feel the pull and the dull ache as all the shallow, hard, dry places where seed has been swept away and not allowed to grow are carved and etched deep,

God’s mighty hand grasping, pulling, tilling, and gently plowing so none of the soil is lost but all is repaired, refreshed and He moistens the soil and awakens it by putting in new soil.

Something new–I can only explain it as the mystery of the blood pouring down,

is birthing life in me, the light of that glorious sacrificial gospel spilling red and rich upon my heart.

Red and rich and delicate because all this frailness, this sin-wracked body that I live in, must be willing to receive like the thin webbing of those autumn flowers–and they shoot up, the blood liveliness–

that aliveness –from Earth’s fertile soil, that soil dark and dying, the depths of decaying rottenness giving life–like the life-blood shooting up from veins as nails drive into His hands and feet.

And the seed cannot reproduce less it die first.

Then, through suffering with Christ, we are awakened and all we have to do is accept the sacrifice on our behalf and the blood shoots up, alive in us, making us alive to Him.

And I’ve been grafted in–in the midst of a desert-wandering life–he has drenched me in the life-blood and called me His own.

I watch my children, all the golden halos of them, dancing in the flowers, running and laughing amongst the red webbed flowers, and I run after them, and I think this is how God sees me:

just a child brought home, all of us dancing in all this grace, soaking up the moments given, the seconds and hours and days birthed out of love for us and I stand grateful, for it is just a season, a changing, a dying so that something greater can be birthed.

And this, too, shall pass.

Gratitude:

#399 this season of desert-wandering…and knowing that God has a plan for it all

#400 these hard two weeks of trudging while Mr. Simmons works overtime…sun up to late nights cooking suppers, baths, devotions, eating suppers all together and bedtime stories and putting little ones back in bed over and over when they hop out…can i say thank you, once again, even for this? can i really lift up a thank you to God–even now–when i’m exhausted? are the worn places that i feel really making me a velveteen mama?

#401 large cartons of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and grapes

#402 a mentor-friend, so kind and gentle, keeps writing and checking on me, offering support, advice and comfort for me to lean into

#403 a few loyal friends who keep writing, calling and just keep being there for me

#404 the way their smiles make the day seem brighter, the sun a halo on their heads

#405 a new exercise routine that has me feeling better and more like myself

#406 my sister, my mother and me all together at the movie late in the night on Thanksgiving…girl time and my mother’s “I’m glad we did this!”

#407 Older sisters wanting to give Christmas gifts to younger sisters

#408 these changing seasons…knowing that whatever comes, God is nearest in the hard times, in the pain, in the hurt. He is here.