Category Archives: trials

Cookie Dough In the Morning {Guest Host for Concrete Words–An Abstraction on the Morning}

Y’all I am tickled pink to have Ashley Larkin guest-host here today at sixinthesticks for #concretewords! She is not only an amazing writer, and so very generous and gracious, but I call her friend after meeting her at #jtreat in real life. You will love her writing. You will fall in love with her, like I have. Please make Ashely welcome in this space, and love on her–share her writing and encourage one another in the comments in the link-ups! Ashley is the host this week, which means she’ll be reading link-ups and choosing one to highlight either on her blog Friday, or via social media! Don’t miss out on this one!




It is early Saturday morning, and the kitchen calls. Not only the French Press, which I will approach like prayer, but the stainless steel mixing bowl, chilled in the fridge and mounded with chocolate chip cookie dough. Perhaps two batches worth, ready for raw eating. 

Sunlight streams through the sheer white curtains of our bedroom, alighting on blue walls that draw my sleepy imagination from dough to the flutter of bird wings. I blink long and slow, my lashes replicating the waking of winged ones outside who make their call, tweet-tweet-crank ta-ta-ta-ta-ta.
Glory be, it’s a new day
Soon I am at the counter, taking butter knife to block of dough like a determined sculptor with her chisel. Creating mounds of chilled butter, sugar, egg, flour and chocolate that I pop into my mouth, alongside coffee made just right by a long splash of half and half.
Later in the morning, my eleven-year-old daughter and I, dressed still in jammie pants and tank tops, take our scoops and talk about foods that might await us in heaven.
Always I’ve envisioned crab, crusty bread with butter, the freshest of mangoes, chocolate, nectarines, berries, pears and lush green salads, though this morning we wonder for the first time if maybe the clouds are made of cookie dough. This being heaven, after all.
And I am wondering more and more if mornings might not be meant for imagining.
Of bird wings and heavenly banquet tables, of a day’s possibilities. The sameness of sun rising and feet put to floor, yet each day holding a different mix of journeys and bowls and mysteries that we can’t fully know upon first blinks.
Several weeks ago, my friend and I walked and talked in the early morning until she stopped short, “Look at that,” she said, pointing to a plastic elephant with a broken trunk perched on the edge of a job site dumpster.


We laughed at the absurdity of it and snapped some photos and wondered how it came to be, and my friend observed that you often see things early in the morning you would scarcely see in the fullness of day.
When the impossibilities have been cleaned up a bit.
When the burdens of the day have set into bones.
I wonder how often I have missed the joy of that thing which doesn’t belong, those ridiculous elephants just around the corner because I’m too focused on the tasks and heaviness of day. How often I have embarked on morning tinged dread worry, rather than on the ground of possibility and hope, of new tales unrolling.
It’s all foolishness, really — this daily calling what is not as if it were, this naming true and delighting in what the world marks stupid. This bestowing forgiveness and proclaiming life from death and giving when you’re needy and knowing joy when your heart aches and carrying the burden of forgotten ones and telling the truth about yourself.
And this cookie dough before breakfast and this pachyderm among garbage might be, too, a little slice of grace and holy imagination that rise new with the morning and calls of the birds.


***I should take a moment here. Some dear readers may worry about my wisdom in eating the raw dough which I love so! I hear you. I must say that I know the dangers of raw egg, but I can’t seem to choose otherwise. I am an Eater of the Dough and one who lives a little dangerously, and apparently I am drawing my children down the same questionable path, just as my mother before me.

ABOUT ASHLEY LARKIN

Ashley Larkin, wife to Michael and mama of three shining daughters, writes about living fully awake several times each week at her blog, Draw Near. You can receive updates on Facebook and connect with Ashley on Twitter at @AshleyMLarkin.

Gratitude: {1136-1153}….

Making new friends while my children swim at practice :: Conversation, breeze and splashing, storm coming up :: a spontaneous conversation with a friend at her house, how we delve in without hesitation :: Ivy winning 1st place in backstroke, the first time she’s ever won something :: how it feels to see her confidence grow :: spontaneous frozen yogurt with dear friends :: spur of the moment piling up of four more kids in my SUV {for a total of eight kids} for a spend the night at my house because they begged and their mom needed a break :: serving the “least” of these :: lots of pizza, breadsticks, and cinnamon sticks :: seeing the fruits of my friend’s hard work in her obedient, respectful, loving children :: church on Sunday morning, all eight kids lined up like ducklings behind mother :: breeze, small sprinkling of rain on the veranda, the smell of chicken and smoke rising :: Children playing in costumes, my little Lilly supergirl :: Kirov chasing the ball, little ones throwing :: chicken on the grill and pasta around my friend’s table :: long goodbyes and a future guest-room named “mine” by my friend– well before a move actually takes place–a sign of a long-lasting friendship :: a two-hour long Sunday afternoon nap which cures anything

{This post shared with AnnLauraJenJennifer for #TellHisStoryImperfect Prose, the EO and Michelle} 

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***Dear readers,  I will not be writing much here at the blog this summer, save a couple of posts for BibleDude once a month.  My husband and I have decided to send the girls back to public school this fall, so that I can rest and recover from chronic illness, and this Mama has a ton to do to get them ready for a test in July. I will have guest writers to host–the lovely and ever-dedicated to Concrete Words Ruth Povey will be taking it on July 1st. I hope you will come back here for that! I have had so much fun with Concrete Words since Amber Haines said sixinthesticks will be it’s home for good. 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!! We will hit the ground running again with #concretewords when school begins in August. 
     
**************


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 the Morning


The prompt for July 1st…to be announced soon–please check back. {Ashley will highlight a beautiful post from this link-up on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!}


Now let’s have some fun with Concrete words! {Please be sure you’ve used the prompt before linking}

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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}






In the Trenches {& 15 Best Links of the Week & A Fun Weekend Challenge}

I stay up too late, trying to catch some quiet, relished moments, and then need extra sleep in the morning because my body can’t function on little rest.

When I walk in and face the children, it feels like they have one over on me, like I just can’t keep up.

Always running to keep up and I’m so weary. Chronic illness for three and a half years, and the battle is getting harder, just when I thought I could see the top of the mountain, hoping I could start climbing down the other side. It was only a thick cloud hiding the ever-towering mountain from my weary eyes.

I don’t feel very brave. But some say being brave is about getting in the fight, and not sitting on the sidelines. Some say it’s not brave unless you’re afraid.

And I’m very afraid. I think of their precious faces, and I pray will all my heart that He would heal this illness so that I can wake each morning feeling like a conqueror.

I heard someone say recently, that if we felt like conquerors, if there were no battle to keep us in the trenches, we would never learn humility.

I guess the bravest of us really are in the trenches, learning the ropes that are ever-changing, climbing high with all our might, just to get to the top and realize there is a long way to go.

And with God, He sees all that lies ahead, and He keeps us going when we feel like giving up the race, and falling to the sidelines, becoming a spectator.

I feel His thrumming in my chest, when I lie awake, when all the house is quiet, and He says, stay in it, child. Don’t give up, beloved. There is work to be done yet. Until then, rest. But don’t ever give up or give in.

Keep going, put one foot in front of the other and do the next good thing.

**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: BRAVE.

 Five Minute Friday

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

Janel Andrews for Piano #1–in Poetic Form —I absolutely loved reading this. Gorgeous. Janel is totally new to Concrete Words–let’s encourage her!

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

All the best links for me this week: {And stay tuned or scroll down for your weekend challenge!! FUN!}

This story–only Amber Haines can say the words caddywhompus, webbernets, and talk about flowers and Kingdom come in a way that makes me want to know God like a child again all in one post. This girl is amazing. 
This post by Lisa-Jo. Seriously. If you’re a mother, you need this one. This weekend. Read this and breathe. 
THIS by Seth Haines–if you read one thing on this list–this. I believe in God the Father, Almighty maker of heaven, maker of earth. Beautiful video at the end of Rich Mullins. 
This one by Deidra Riggs–yes, yes, yes.  
This video based on one of Lisa-Jo’s post. All of us mothers need to watch this a couple times, y’all. At least. 
This post by Ann Voskamp— this blessed me, got down under my skin in all the right ways… for the days when life is unbearably moving too fast, and you aren’t sure how to hold on…. just remember a sheen of grace covers everything…
This post by my friend, Holly, at A Lifetime of Days— absolutely glorious. For when you need a change, and things are stale. 
Some beauty to capture and open the brain to possibility…beautiful places all over the world 
Some creativity for the weekend–a wall that happily heralds summer… I will definitely be doing this… I’ll get some white frames on the cheap… This is so easy–just some leaves and spray-paint!
This video on making tiny gardens is interesting and may inspire a hobby this summer? I would recycle things around the house for my own tiny garden–broken clay pots & pieces, stones & rocks to make paths, marbles for garden globes….

For the Writers:
This post from Margaret Feinberg :things we all need to know, whether we write on a blog, or writing a book
Laura Boggess writes an informative post to help us avoid the snags of bad style
Mary Demuth’s 25 Very Best Blog Practices–this helped me. Some of it I already knew–but it’s good to have it re-confirmed. My guess is it will be beneficial to you, too. 
Your weekend challenge from Moi: Go out into your swampy, snowy, icicle-y yard {whichever applies to your region} and find some beauty–take your camera with you and snap something. I’m doing this, too! Just for kicks: Link pics in comments here all weekend.  The rest of your challenge is below…. Happy weekend, friends! 
Tell me in the comments: What were your favorite links this week? How do you struggle to be brave?