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God Is Not Threatened When We Leave the Church

{An Abstraction on Lipstick}

 

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It happened standing in Wal-Mart with my daughters. I was buying a lipstick and rubbed the pretty coral color that I fell in love with onto my lips. I didn’t notice the brand–that smell. That’s when the memories came flooding in. Memories of being the focus of ridicule at a school in a whole new state, the memories of the poems left on my desk that said “She wears socks with her clogs in winter. She’s in a bubble and thinks no one can reach her, because her Daddy’s a preacher,” and they giggled at me as I turned red and crumbled up the loose-leaf paper taken from one of their cute binders. But there are darker ones.

Dark memories of a 21 year old youth pastor, who came into the sanctuary when I was playing piano and put his lips on me, held me from behind. He befriended my father, came over to the house, and when we went downstairs to play ping-pong, he forced me to sit on his lap.

And the hits seemed to keep coming. I became chronically ill after having my fourth child. And there were people in the church who wanted to pray for me one Sunday. I made it known that I didn’t want it, that I felt uncomfortable with such a spotlight on me. They assured me it was fine, and it was in the midst of this prayer circle that I was told there wasn’t grace for this sickness, this depression, this anxiety, and that God was asking me to please come back home, to come back to where grace abounded for me.

I recoiled at this. Because I knew that God had not left me and I had not left him and the last thing I needed was for someone in the church to tell me that my illness was because I had done something wrong. The insinuation was that it was a direct result of my having left God. But I knew then, and I know now– that none can pluck me from His hand. It’s not possible.

I did feel very far away from God, and what I needed at that moment in my life was for someone to gently remind me that God was still with me and loved me beyond imagination.

That day left me aching, a hole wide-open in my soul, cold bitter wind blowing through. It left me confused about prayer, and unable to utter any words toward heaven. Prayer had been a means, as far as I could see, to hurt others. And I became bitter and maybe I let my words sting, too, because all I could see was people who wanted to hurt me.

I could tell you more stories–I have lots of them. I could tell you about a time my husband and I were asked by the pastor to be elders  because he was leaving and the church needed someone to help run things in his absence. We hesitated, but we loved our pastor, so we agreed. A short time later, we found out that the leadership of the church had sorely treated our pastor, and was the cause of him leaving. Our hearts were broken. We resigned, left the church, and never looked back. But we won’t talk more of that.

What I want to tell you is that because of a lifetime of those memories, my husband and I have chosen to take a time for healing……

{to read the rest of this post, please come on over to Outside the City Gate— I’m over there today, and I have more to share with you….}

{concrete words link-up is below}

 

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Photo credit: Church and steeple: Cindee Snider Re 

Holding hands: Kelli Woodford

Okay, time for #concretewords! ***Will you do this with me, friends? Let’s explore the practice of Awakening to God–this still ties into listening–writing out our story with words that show, not just tell. We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #concretewords,  #listeningtoyourlife and also #awakeningtoGod if you like. Do me a favor and use these on social media and share with friends–invite them? Writing alone is no fun–but writing in community? Well, THAT is the stuff!

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. If you don’t know how to do these steps,

please email me for help.

 

Today’s prompt is lipstick. GO!


{**Since I’m posting this mid-week, this link-up will run until next Monday afternoon 2 pm CST, giving you plenty of time to write and link up. Sometime between now and then, I will read your stories and try to highlight one of them on social media! Next week, the prompt will be balloon .}

 

 

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Our Christmas and Gratitude in Pictures Even After All The Gifts Are Unwrapped

I’ve been weighted down heavy in a dense fog, maybe God passing by? And one I dare only hesitantly whisper friend, but she is certainly a beloved sister in Christ who shines brilliant–she taps out these words to me–
“Dark can sometimes be the holiest ground – God passing by. You tucked in the cleft of the Rock, there behind His hand. Quietly praying with you right now, beautiful Nacole…Remembering with you that He is always there. For this alone, we give thanks.”
I had written about community, a response to a beautiful plea–a plea that all women need healing–and it will come when we heal one another–that we can be these Jesus women, bending over with those who are broken, picking up these shards of our hearts, making a beautiful mosaic of grace. She had written those words. And they spoke so powerfully to my heart. 
How could she know? How could she know so intimately the pain my heart felt? It was like she was writing me. I felt exposed, open right to the howling wind. Did someone tell her? How could the words have been so exact, how could they have cut straight to the marrow of me, re-opened the wound that God meant to heal with this re-opening, this heart-surgery? 
And the healing did pour in. And she has been apart of that. I know God has much more work to do on me, but there has been one woman, an older, stronger woman who has soothed places in my soul with her grace and generosity, with her love of Jesus. 
Since that small note that was tapped out, another woman has sat across the table from me and told me her heart-wrenching story of how God saved her from addiction, how she lost her son, only to later adopt three precious children who were themselves lost to addiction, lost from parents who chose it over them. She tells me, and her face sings of God’s grace and how He saved her. She tells me how she is clothed now, not in shame, but in praise to God. 
She motions, as if pulling a cloak over her head. She shows me how for years she wore the shame, shame that Christ took away when He was nailed to the tree. I feel chills down my spine when she sits across from me, looks right in my eyes, testifies what Christ’s done for her. I marvel and I am in awe of His power. I am amazed that He is using a woman to heal me. I understand what she meant when she had tapped it out–God is nearer when it seems darkest. 
I had only told her in passing, in the ladies’ room, I’d risked my dignity for vulnerability and God-glory, and I’d let her in just a little on what’s been going on with me. It was because of that, she said, that she had to let me know–when I’d asked months before about her adoption story, and she had not known how to answer it–she knew this was God prompting her to testify, to not be silent. And testify she did. 
That small lunch encounter–across a tabletop–it changed me. 
So this Christmas, we’ve allowed His healing to come flooding in. And we wanted to be light for others–we didn’t want to just be recipients this Christmas–we wanted to give. So we found ways to do that. 

I found some bags for the ladies in my family here and I felt it was the perfect gift for a woman–one that frees another woman from the sex trade. What could be more perfect?

And the fog? It has still been there. Words have seemed elusive, energy waning, and hope somewhere on the distant horizon, but there have been these little glimmers of God’s graces, and they shine all around, and they make me stand up and praise Him, and they comfort my heart, and they let me know that I am not alone, that I am very very loved.

This Christmas season, our hearts are filled with love for one another, and when we have faltered, we pray He picks us up and strengthens us. We decorated together, did our Advent devotions early in the mornings, while eldest lit candles and children gathered warmly around, blankets piled high.

We 

 We made Snowman soup, we rolled slight, baby-fine, pale blond hair in curlers, and we went to church and we attended a special Christmas worship celebration. I was so thankful for the worship–I have really missed that.

We found these beautiful gifts here at 3 Cords, for nieces, friends, and they made perfect stocking stuffers…

Our hearts were also filled this Christmas season for our neighbors, and where we have failed Christ, we pray He infiltrates our hearts. We baked up pumpkin bread and took it to our wonderful elderly widow neighbor, who has been a beautiful example of God’s love to us. God certainly exists, and He exists in the heart of Mrs. Olive. 

We went to the Grandparents and the kids had a lot of fun at their Grandparents’, of course. Little Lilly made me giddy with joy, the light shining so bright in her hair and her laughter brighter than any sun. 

I paid attention, really paid attention to my Granny’s hands as she cooked, watched her. Lorna twirled with her Uncle Rusty in the living room floor to Christmas music, and Isabella even danced atop her Daddy’s feet and gave him a little curtsy at the end. 

We also found some gifts here, that were just beautiful. This is a picture of just a few of the wonderful, hand-made items I found. I know they were made with such love and it comforted my heart to know my girls’ stockings would be filled with these gifts that would help save a starving child in Guatemala. 

We had Christmas devotion and Lilly watched her Daddy with big eyes as he read from the Bible. I hope she always grows up knowing God’s grace, and that she is cloaked in praise, she is showered in grace, and she does not wear shame, but robes of righteousness.

We are very blessed this Christmas. Feel free to leave a comment and share how you are blessed this Christmas. Love to you all!

Exposed: When You Are Way Off Focus {Five Minute Friday}

Around here on Friday, I try to play along with the Five Minute Friday group at Lisa-Jo’s Baker’s blog. We write with abandon–just for five minutes, without fear of what flies out of hearts through fingertips onto keyboards, no editing, no back-tracking. no worrying if it’s perfect, just from a one-word prompt. Come play along too? Here we gooo……
 
 
 
 
 
 

GO.

I have been way off. My mind and my heart battle the Jesus that I hear whisper and the world that weighs heavy.

These kids look at me, and I see it in their eyes–their Mama thirst–their need for someone to show them the way. They need someone to blanket them from the cold, to love on them through thick and thin–they need someone to be selfless, to not lose sight of the real goal here.

I can see way down deep into their souls when I look into those child-wide eyes. They look at me with questions that I don’t have the answers to, and I feel so out of place, like naked in a highschool hallway, lockers’ metal cold and mocking, laughter bouncing off.

I feel completely exposed, completely naked. Seen, for who I really am. I don’t have it all together.

No, my child, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how I’m going to navigate through this and get us to the other side of glory, but I know the One who does have the answers.

And I’m counting on Him, child. I’m counting on Him.

STOP.

This week’s word was FOCUS.

You can join us here….if you’d like to take the dare to write with abandon, that is….

Five Minute Friday

Fear Won’t Stop You {And Gratitude}

I set out, screen door shutting behind, and hear the crunch-crunch-crunch of wet gravel underneath my running shoes and I can barely get a good breath in.

As I pound along the road, tightened ribs begin to separate and lungs expand and I suck in the oxygen deep like a milk-starved baby.

I throw my head back and look to the pink and purple sunset sky above and just run like that wild like a child.

And it’s like in this inhaling, I’m breathing in God and the quietness settles heavy on me and a chorus rises, a symphony swells. And I can hear it all–the frogs in the marsh, birds call off to the east and the west, all around and crickets chirp in the grass my feet breeze past below. And it swells and rises up to meet me, lifts me up in it’s crescendoing.

I run past a white-tail deer, leaping and bounding away from me and then the rushing water of the river underneath the bridge. I turn and go back, climb up on the rail, all childish giddiness, peering down into the water, listening to her quiet rhythm, and the flood waters rising, they touch me with their hush.

I run past fields turned marsh with standing flood waters where cows once grazed.

And God said to me, “All these flood waters? They are neck-high because you are drowning in my grace. And that weight that makes you feel you can’t breathe? That’s my glory. Daughter, your drowning is not without purpose–you’re sinking in me.”

I let out a cry and it comes out hard in pants as I run.

And God said, “Daughter, do you see the burning bush? And do you see the thundering mountain? I look up and see two dark clouds in the sky, one like a burning bush and one like a mountain.

“Sometimes, child, life’s flames have felt too hot, the fire has seemed unquenchable and raging, but what you couldn’t see in the consuming fire, was that it was me burning into you. And the mountain has thundered and shaken you. There has been a quaking and everything has toppled down, nothing has felt stable and now life is turned upside down, but sometimes that is the way I move, thundering and shaking. And it’s been me all along. Though you searched hard, I’ve been right with you the whole time.

And God said, “Those trees you see that look as if they are about to slide under the sucking current–what you can’t see is that underneath the water, the roots go deep and strong because they’ve been hit over and over and over by the storm and they know how to hold on.”

Then God shows me a giant black hand in the sky and it’s pointing to a huge black cloud that resembles a storm and covers a vast area of land. “This is how you’ve been guided all along,” He whispers.

And God says, “Daughter, the whole time you felt I was nowhere to be found, even that I had forsaken you and you thought you were sinking, child–I was holding you up. And you see that joy on your face, do you feel that fierce love you have that covers over an offense? Do you sense new level of grace, that new-found freedom that makes you strong of heart, being firm in who you are in me, yet you are able to be Christ’s scarred hands and feet to those who drive the nails in your own hands and feet?–That’s my mark on you, daughter, because in the midst of the strorm, when I passed by as a cloud so intimately near, I left my imprint on you. Do you know you have my imprint? You bear my image, my name, my glory, my power, my resurrection life and there is no end to what you can do, child? Did you know?”

“Yes, I’ve left my imprint on you.

You. look. like. me.”

The bats, they swoop low overhead, and look for prey in the night. The night-song rises and speaks to me. I hear God say, “Daughter, it’s here in this night, in this groping-along darkness that you’ll find your courage, your strength.

And fear won’t stop you.”

Faith swells and I’m swollen pregnant with this promise here in the dark.

Gratitude: #884-901

A gift hanging down…
#884 basket of flowers springing back to life with water and sun

#885 having the grace and courage to travel to the seminar alone with all four children…

3 gifts learned…
#885 learning about classical education and how to be a tutor–how the mission and methods resonate with me
#886 the mission–to know God and to make Him known
#887 God revealing to me that the love and training I give as a mother is not soley based upon a list if should nots and ways to keep myself and home under control everyday–this is an inferior idea–the law–but rather, that the love, the good words, the uplifting tones and encouraging expressions, the leading into godly truths and beauty should pour out of my love for God and my desire to bring Him glory–this is a superior idea…this is grace…

#888 sitting on porch with Husband in early Sunday morning cloudy skies, drinking coffee, us talking excitedly about all the things I’ve learned over the past few days…

3 gifts musical…
#889 hearing “I Can Only Imagine” being played so beautifully, looking around to see where it’s coming from, expecting a CD player, and seeing a young boy–a Classical Conversations student–at the piano
#890 fresh inspiration to pick back up piano lessons with the girls myself after our summer break
#891 the Orchestra Song…my trainer divided us into groups and had us to sing the parts, overlapping one another–beautiful.

3 gifts baked…
#892 whole wheat oatmeal-raisin dark cacao chip my girls whipped up
#893 the whole wheat vegan crackers and salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas the girls and I made together for traveling snacks

A gift in light, in dark, in shadow…
#894 Lilly coming out of the room where the toddlers take naps, corn silk hair all askew in afternoon light, sleepy look on her face, raising arms up to Mama
#895 God speaking to me in the dark night as I run
#896 bats flapping and swooping, and I’m not afraid because God has told me that I’m strong in His power, His spirit within

#897 Lilly wearing her puppy blanket on her head–with puppy face and ears on top– into the church for seminar, following me, her blanket dragging the floor behind her, and all the ladies looking on lovingly

#898 being around some of the most joyous women and well-behaved children with pleasant countenances that I’ve ever been with

3 gifts in story…
#899 Trinita, our speaker for the parent practicum and her telling of her husband’s street ministry, how she almost filed for divorce because he was acting like someone else, and how he began to be ill with seizures, which explained the changes in him, and homeschooling saved their life because her kids were seeing first-hand the gospel of grace and how God works in the lives of those he loves….
#900 learning through Trinita’s story that if she can homeschool 4 children, be the caretaker of her husband, help with his ministry, and direct and speak for Classical Conversations–if God has given her the strength for all this–then He can do the same for me–and it’s not hopeless
#901 this story… and Amber’s blog blesses me…

What Are You Running From? {And Gratitude Journal}

I soar down the wooded trail, sand, wet dirt and gravel beneath rubber-shod feet, leaves barely canopying green above me and I wipe skin-itching rain from my cheek, and see water gun-slinging outward from arms in motion at my side and I’m amazed that this is me beating the dirt and gravel in the ground and this is my sweat, rain, hard-won tears and blood running together, being flung off. I smell her–earth, all fresh and alive, just the way she was made to be.

She had asked it, my friend who knows me better than she should, “What are you running FROM, Nacole?”

Why do I run along the trails and the hills, struggling for air? To. just. breathe?

I throw myself against the elements–run the entire four and a half miles in the pouring rain, leap over protruding roots that stand in my way, daring me to try them, and when I sail past, my heart swells and I smile on the inside–what is that all about? Why does this adrenaline surge beckon to me?

What am I running from?

Fear.

Fear of  not being good enough, not measuring up, fear of sinking back into that dark black hole of depression, the depths from which I’m afraid no one will be able to pull me.

Fear of being fat because old habits die hard, and yes, I’m running from the fear self-loathing brings, from the fear of feeling like a failure and from defeat, from just barely being able to make it through the dailies, from not being able to hold onto relationships dear to me and seeing them slip through my fingertips like all this sand.

I’m running from the fear that I’m different, that I’m the only me, and there is no manual–no one left instructions on how to be me–and I wonder if I’ll do it all wrong, that I’ll lie on my deathbed wishing it’d all been different and I could go back. And what I know now is that then I won’t be able to and I only get one chance to not screw it up.

Yes, running from the fear of my genes, what’s in the DNA that I can’t control–this fragile, passionate nature easily provoked, this timid yet fiercely loving heart, this hippy free spirit with the inability to follow a clock, this illness that has gripped–my father said my grandmother had all that too.

And I run from the fear of the religious types who try to wrestle me into a box. Just like they tried to wrestle Jesus into a box, but he wasn’t having it. He knew His purpose. I think I’m finally finding mine.

I pant harder and my quads kick into high gear as I run-climb the monstrous grainy hill on my toes. The rain pounds my face, and I lean into it, thrust myself forward, grimace and climb and work through the pain. Quads pulling, exerting, muscles flexing, toe, toe, toe, on my toes as earth and gravel rolls and groans underneath.

This is me saying to the pelting rain, you’ll not bend and break my bow today–I’ll fight with my last breath and I rather enjoy the feel of you on my face, because God has ushered you forth and destined you to take your best shot. So take it. Because in the midst of the relentless, beating storm when I’m weakest, He will cause His spirit in me to rise up strong and conquer you.

Fear.

And I figured out that, yes, I may be running from something, but more than that–I’m running toward something. Maybe He knew it would be that way all along.

What am I running toward? Not the Jesus inside the box, the one they fancy dress all up.

No, I’m running toward the real one, the Jesus outside the box.

…singing this over and over…Come away with Him, worship with me and let your spirit be refreshed… this is the whole album live…listen to the first song or just leave
it on play while you write or clean house… ~smile~

Do you struggle with fear? Have things you run from? How does God heal you, console you, shephard you? I’d love for you to share your answers and thoughts on the story below, friends…

Some of my gratitude gifts from the past few weeks from my journal and through my lens….#844-883…


3 gifts found around a table…
#844 garden-fresh organic squash and corn brought by a kind neighbor
#845 fresh vegetable garden casserole with olive oil and parmesan
#846 my sweet children telling stories

a gift in water, in words, in white…

#847 me surprising the girls by throwing clothes off and running and sliding down the slide into their little cool pool with them and their giggles of delight
#848 when he bent over my bedside in still-dark morning and sighed, his cologne and sweet breath filling my senses, whispered sweet words in my ear
#849 kitty’s white underbelly and paws as the girls hold her and little one carries her around the house, dainty hind legs dangling close to the ground…

gifts in someone older than you…
#850 my Granny keeping my babies so I can run…
#851 still thinking of the words of a sweet 87 year old man

3 gifts in fabric…
#853 an old blanket spread under shade tree, a hallowed place the kids and I make joy together…
#854 fresh sheets on beds
#855 the fabric of our lives, how God weaves sorrow to know joy, doubt to know faith, sin to know grace, lonliness to know friendship, darkness and depression to know and appreciate this moment of beauty and God-breathed life with those I love…

#856 Ivy smiling at me so sweet from the water when she sees me walk in, runs to me–Mama!

3 gifts framed by a frame…
#858 my Lilly, her small frame filling the four corners of my lens, baby innocence on her face outshining the waves and sun…
#859 my man looking good in the surf, throwing football with Kurt
#860 pictures Husband takes of me lying on the beach in the waves washing ashore, playing with my babies, pictures of me and a dear friend


gifts eaten…
#862 bread and juice–communion taken with friends in their home, swallowing down the word, my children learning this rich salvation

#863 Veggie-tofu pizza at Mellow Mushroom–our first visit, and organic chocolate almonds offered to me…

3 gifts loved…
#864 time spent with good friends, like family to us, our spirits being awakened and renewed by being with them…

#865 the medicine of laughter…

#866 watching my children play in the sand and waves, drinking it all in…these moments given

 3 gifts read…
#867 Spirit Wars by Kris Vallotton…completely set me free…
#868 Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Sally Clarkson
#869 a sweet picture made for me by Ivy, and the words that made my heart warm “Mama, you are a queen”

At the Museum of Naval Aviation
    A gift in faith, family, freedom… 
#870 friends praying for my healing–their practical care for my spiritual well-being
#871 my parents meeting us in Destin
#872 new freedom to walk in joy and approval from God–not worrying about approval from man!
A gift in red, white, blue…
#873 red, white and blue stripes the girls painted on cans, candles twinkling inside
#874 4th of July rockets the girls and I made together
#875 American flag–still love it and am so grateful for all the men and women who have given their lives

A gift of persistence…

#876 A friend staying up with me until 2 am, me pouring out, us praying…going to bed physically tired but spiritually refreshed…

A gift of challenge, conflict, change…
#877 the whole family learning to eat vegan and loving it–the energy, sleep, and vitality of mind it has given me!

#878 relationships and unresolved hurt–only God knows the purpose…hard eucharisteo…

#879 a new path for us seeming to carve its way out before us…who knows what He has in store…only God…

A gift of rhythm, rhyme, reason…
#880 learning to have a better bed-time routine, warm bath, lavendar, getting in bed earlier…learning safe rhythms for us all…

#881 my daughters’ gift for writing poems and plays and their stellar performances in their bedroom…a family thoroughly enjoying one another in simple ways…

#882 not knowing the reasons means that He is God because He does, and I have to trust Him. finding the rest my soul longs for when I lean into Him heavy like a child….

 A gift of Life…
#883 finally. having. my. healing….how to thank Him rightly for this…oh, a thousand praises!!!…I will never stop worshiping…

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably making a berry shake or whole-wheat cookies with my girls, cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, playing tag, out running, having a glass of wine with Husband, or lying in a warm bath just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. I love this community of grace-filled people! Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much….

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.
Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others… and linking with L.L…and others below…click on links to read these amazing sites!



On In Around button










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How Baby Girls Can Be Last Chances {And Gratitude}

Oh, child, stop growing. Please? Just wait a little while longer.
This mother-heart can’t take anymore, but I pray it grows stronger.
You are my last chance, my hope of redemption. Did you know?
You are my last chance, you see, Little One, to get it right– to laugh long and let the laundry go,

to stare for a moment into your eyes and those dimples
and forget about the buzz of the world, to rock a little longer and to see you as Jesus in disguise. And yes, child, to not yell, to give praise, to not critique and to always, always say it is good.

The giggling, boisterous, loud conversation, the dancing, chasing, the slamming doors–as much as my nerves hate slamming doors–it means you are here, with me now, Precious Love, and you run free through these doors, through these frames of time
that stand still for you, if only I will wait, if only I will abide
here with you a little while longer.

One day, the noise, the dance of feet, these old wood floors trembling,
as a drum trum-trumming, louder and louder, the crescendo and the cadence–
yes, child, the music of you will be missed and all the days that we made it.
It will be like chaff in the wind, blown away, just leaves in the fall,
scattered over so much earth, spread wide and tall.

Because a parent knows that fully-grown wings can fly far, and while I can, I want to gather you in my nest,
hold you to my bosom, and I really do want to raise the bar, never rest. I will push it up with all the mighty strength God has given woman, and I won’t stop until I’ve told you, and you’ve believed it, His precious one, that you are a treasure to me, in your heart received it
what you are to your Father, in this moment right here, right now, just us the way we are.
You are the light of my life, this life that has known utter darkness but much more beauty and breathtaking light by far.

Do you know, baby girl, that you hold me to this earth? You hold me to it right hard with a magnetic force.
I couldn’t leave as long as you are here, and I will stay the course.
That’s how powerful your love is and the rise and fall of you leaves me breathless.
You take me to the highest of heights and the lowest of lows and I would scale any mountain wall, let my body slip down any ravine of darkness to save you and of this easy sacrifice any parent knows.

Do you know that you are my chance in this life? You are, child. You are what’s real
and you are hope to me. You are what’s tangible and all I can feel
and I reach out for you, reach out for this hope of innocence.
And if God exists in this cruel world, I know I’ve seen Him in you, child, when I can’t make sense

of all of it–I know I’ve seen Him in that heavenly light in your eye,
in that fragrant scent of your mouth as you nurse on my breast,
in that one fell swoop as your eyelashes flutter and you captured me completely in arrest.
I never stood a chance in the face of your irresistible charm, just like I never had a chance when God met me on the road and I fell victim to His irresistible grace.

Idea for birthday pumpkin roll found here on Ann Voskamp’s site
Or you can go straight here to see the recipe
Gratitude…Unending thanks and praise to God…

#787 an invitation to a new friend’s house, all of our 8 kids playing in backyard, her showing me the things I will be teaching in Classical Conversations homeschooling group this fall, and catching me off-guard, telling me I smile a lot and that will make me a great teacher

#788 Husband’s immediate support and excitement about going with me for a 3 day seminar

#789 taking girls to swim team practice and time to run while they are there several times a week

#790 running alone–the refresher it gives, me trimming down…

#791 conquering fears, leaving inadequacy and anxiety in the dust behind my flying feet…

#792 how good it feels to be so alive

#793 the girls learning piano from me–what an overwhelming gift God has given me, to be able to teach my girls–I am amazed at His goodness!! 

#794 3 1/2 mile run with eldest daughter in the evening, her talking to me the entire time

#795 Lorna pointing out the moon to me on our run, telling me I should bring my camera with me on our runs–her inspiring my thoughts, yes! i should buy a tiny point and shoot!

#796 Lorna and I running the State Games 5K together, her winning a medal, me and Ivy doing the Fun Run together …{pictures and post to come soon!}

#797 Lilly’s mile-wide grin with softest, fullest red lips when I walk through the door

#798 a several hour break and me and Husband going in a few shops, going to movies together, sharing popcorn and coke

#799 how he reaches out his hand for mine, how he only remembers to do this on dates, and how I feel like a queen when he does

#800 how Bella tells me when it’s time to return home in the evening, that we need to go get Lorna and Ivy from Meme and Papa’s, and when I tell her they are staying until tomorrow, she says, in 4-yr-old-lisp, No, I don’t want them to be gone a long time! I want them to be thisthers {sisters}!

#801 Father’s day service, listening to an 87 yr old man give advice to fathers and talk about his late wife as the Pastor asks questions…a sobering reminder of our God-given role as man and wife…

#802 eating barbeque sandwhiches and coleslaw outside in the shade, two kids eating free, a coupon from my thoughtful Granny, and getting to sit right across from my father and talk to him about how he answered questions that morning

#803 everyone going down to Yoo-Yoo’s for frozen yogurt, Mama’s treat, white-chocolate yogurt piled high with brownie, cookie dough and strawberry glaze

#804 my father sharing with me all the card he ever needs: an encouraging text I sent to him a while back telling him he is my hero and I want others to honor him the way I do

#805 how good Husband looked in his slim-fit plaid shirt and skinny tie

#806 how Bella dramatically throws her head down and buries it into her slayed-out hands when she has been going on and on about Mario and Luigi and I ask her to tell Meme what she learned this week about fewer and more. I prompt her: Fewer is…{I make the little bit symbol with my fingers}..a little… Yes, and more is how much?… A lot! She grins and is so proud of herself.

#807 how her sisters switch the orange and green spoons in and out of yogurt cups and ask her to count them and tell which has fewer and which has more, and she does it, to everyone’s delight…

#808 beating Husband at a new ping-pong game and his little-boyish irritated expressions that he can’t see it coming soon enough when I spike it across the table at him

#809 him telling me It’s obvious you’ve played this a lot more than me! and us laughing…..

#810 Husband adamant about planning to have family time on Father’s day…I am so, so blessed. What a gift of a husband….

#811 him showing the girls how to play ping-pong

#812 afternoon nap with husband, him wrapping arms ’round, kissing me on the cheek, on the neck, telling me he loves me, asking him where that came from? Thinking about what the men said this morning at church…

# 813 love made between my man and I, how bonded we are, how nothing could separate us.

#814 this beautiful music–matchless to me in the emotion it evokes–the girls and I have been listening to all week, listening as I write…. click the link here, and enjoy. God meant music to be savored and chewed long, soothing our souls. All glory to Him for the creativity He has given man!!

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably outside watering the flower garden, in some corner of my home sorting through laundry in danger of mildewing, cleaning up remnants of a brand-new box of cereal thrown across the room, reading a history lesson with the children, or just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. I love this community of grace-filled people! Head here to read more of why, during this season, I will be quietly writing, and not visiting very much…

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.

Joining with sweet Ann and others in thanks….. also Emily…

L.L…. On In Around button Laura… Jen…
Jennifer…

Shanda…


Michelle… and Courtney…

Conversations with God

Us all piled together on the couch, me and four kids in early morning sun coming through windows mounted on the tall-ceilinged walls, the warm rays bathe us and I read to them from my bible.

I read to them in Proverbs about angry kings and liars and how we are to appease the king. I stop and ask it–“Do you know what appease means?” Shaking heads all around. I explain it means to make someone happy, to make it better when they are angry or sad. We talk about how we appease God by asking for forgiveness for our sins, and how as soon as we ask, He forgives us in an instant–I snap my fingers–and He wipes it all away. As the sun grows a little warmer, Ivy wants to interrupt the reading to say something, but I make her wait. I continue to read about everything being written down in God’s book.

I ask what it was she wanted to share. “You know, if there was a king of Hickory, we would beg him to not chop our heads off!” I wonder at that–that the child knew that this is how it is with God too–that before the cross this was us, begging to not be put to death, to not be condemned eternally, and we were constantly, always aware of our sin, and fearfully making sacrifice and spilling the blood of animals in order to appease God.

The oldest, she asks, “Before Christ came and died on the cross, what happened to those people–did they go to Heaven?” I smile wide and tell her she has asked a very good question.

I ask the children if they think God sent those people to Hell because He had not yet sent His Son to die for them. “No.”

“You are right–they did go to Heaven.” I explain to them that God is always the same yesterday, today, and forever. I tell her that God does not change–He is and has always been a God of mercy and grace, even before Christ came. We read….”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” …God does not change with the shifting shadows…I ask my children, “Who changes?”

Us.”

Oh, the satisfying nectar I am drinking in this morning as my children grasp the gospel.

I forget to show them the verse about Abraham’s faith saving him–and isn’t it all about faith saving us anyway–before and after Christ–isn’t this what God has always been trying to get through to us–not our works, but His faith rising up in us that saves us from unquenchable fire?

“It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring…”–Romans 4:13-15

We are so caught up in looking up verses on God’s character–His unchanging ways–flipping pages as fast as we can turn, giddy in our treasure hunt, we turn a page a little too fast, and it creases. I forget all about proving to them that the bible actually accounts for the souls who believed before Christ being in Heaven–in my hungry quest to show them who God is.

For you curious ones, who, like me, wonder and dig to find gold…here is some treasure for you…
“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24; cf. Heb. 11:5) (emphasis added).

Elijah was not taken to a place on the border of hell, but he “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings2:11; cf. Matt. 17:3, where Moses and Elijah appear, talking to Jesus.)

…when Jesus answers the Sadducees, he reminds them that God says, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” and then says, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32), thus implying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were living even at that very moment, and that God was their God.

…in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus does not say that Lazarus is unconscious, but reports Abraham as saying about Lazarus, “Now he is comforted here” (Luke 16:25).

–Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

If they know who God IS, they will never have to question.

I read the last verse in our Proverbs reading, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” {Prov.16:33}

“Oh! Look at that Lorna–isn’t that neat? You can cast lots, gamble, take risks, but God has already written it all down”–I scrawl words on air for her, hoping she will get a mental picture of our Sovereign God. I’m thinking, In His book, our life is…..–how do I best explain this to her?….when she interrupts–

“Our life is His story book.”

I grab her 10-year-old-still-soft-baby cheeks in my hands–“Yes, darling girl! That’s exactly it. Exactly. I love you so much.” I smile down at her, and catch a glimpse of a twinkle in her eye.

****

Bella bounces her ball, “Mama, I need to ask you a question. Is God isth nice?”–in a 4-year-old-lisp.

“Yes, He is, He is kind and loving. He is very nice.”
She smiles, dimpling, “Can you read me the story again about it, in your book, after I finish my toast?”
I look where she is pointing, to the purple bible. “You want me to read to you about God?”
She nods. I nod, and she runs off with her ball, leaving behind her a room and a Mama full of God’s wonder.
****

“I’m really sorry that I yelled and scared you. You know that’s why Mama needs Jesus, don’t you?”

I look into her eyes, search for remembrance, search for that gospel lighthouse to guide me, my true north to ground me and bring me center–to right everything gone wrong. I’m flailing in the darkness, lost at sea, groping blind.
She nods, child-understanding, her eyes so full of the emptiness of inexperience, waiting for me to fill it–to show the way. I am weighted to the floor–sobered.
“You know, Mama has sin in her heart”–I lay my hand on my heart, and she looks down to that sacred God-place, her wide eyes taking it all in.
“And I mess up over and over and over. As much as Mama tries to not get angry, I just keep messing up. And Jesus died on the cross to take away all that sin, to forgive it all, and your’s too. “
“Mama? So when we’re born, we already have sins?”
“Yes, even babies are born into this world with sin, and you and me, our only hope is Jesus–because we’re only human, we sin, we all mess up and our only hope in all this world is Him.”
I hug her, hold my Ivy-baby in my lap. I ask her, “Do you forgive Mama?” She nods up and down from my pillow-shoulder. I tenderly pick up her head. “Look at Mama. You know, when Mama asks for forgiveness, I try real hard after that not to do it again.” I stroke the silky hair on her forehead, feel her eyelashes flutter against my hand. “And I promise to try real hard, ok?” She nods, her eyes seeming larger than normal.
She’s just taking me in, all this now, right here.
Oh, she teaches me so much.
She looks up at me, green enveloping me, black lashes reaching to Heaven. And she gives, falling into me in exhale. I hold her like that and we just breathe one another for a few minutes, drinking in the stillness of this holy moment–this redemptive beauty.
I sigh and pull back and look at her, ask her if she likes our talks, if it makes her feel better? “Yes,” she says, and I mostly expect her to jump up and bound off to play but she lays her head softly on my chest, folds into me, and just soaks up grace.

****
Gratitude:
#657 me and the girls watering flowers, re-potting together…
#658 us all raking leaves as Husband drives up–the look of disbelief on his face
#659 Husband and I making supper together, comrades and partners in daily work and family goals
#660 me and the girls doing a deep cleaning and making a peace retreat, setting out a Lent tree…you can hover over the words here to see Ann’s ideas for a godly home…
#661 for Ann, who gives great ideas and inspires creativity and godliness in our home…and us fearful ones know how hard this is…i’m so grateful for the encouragement…
#662 us making home peaceful and inviting, a place of refuge for the weary
#663 time with my Granny, that at her age, she still asks why I don’t come pick her up when I need help in town…
#664 a surprise visit from my Mama and all of us going to eat together
#665 my Granny and I shopping for treasures and finding a few
#666 New books coming in the mail! And Jesus, bless my #666! Amen.
#667 girls’ fun ball chairs for school arriving via UPS!
#668 God healing me of depression completely–anxiety and insomnia also slowly healing little by little
#669 a full week of us all sitting at the table nightly and doing Lent devotions–glory to God for His goodness imparted to us! How He has lavishly blessed!!!
#670 being well enough–mental and physical energy–to take on kids and supper while Husband mows the yard–hallelujah!
#671 new worship music and DVDs to play in the house while girls and i sweep, wash dishes, and bring God glory through our beauty-making
#672 how the girls stop when they walk by the television and watch the worshipping that is happening…
#673 how God’s word, how His fullness overtakes all the shadows and dark places in me and brings light, how it really does bring me out into the light and all fear, all insomnia, anxiety, worry fleas…the marvelous mystery of His word and worship…praise to His name!
#674 how the girls brought their library books home and Lorna took them to her room to begin browsing and skimming them like a frantic reader who can’t wait to get started should–so proud of my girls–maybe i really can do this homeschooling thing…
#675 party with church folks–mingling and fellowshipping, even when it’s hard–forging ahead into God’s goodness…
#676 dancing on Kinnect with an older woman from church–making a fool of myself
#677 a weekend with Hubby, children at their grandparents’, missing them as soon as they were gone…
#678 eating at a local restaurant that serves fried green tomatoes fine dining style
#679 watching Husband bump the ketchup bottle
#680 walking hand-in-hand on downtown sidewalk towards our vehicle
#681 remembering why i married this man…
#682 trying on clothes in my favorite store for Husband to approve…feeling like a teenager again…
#683 going in a store just for Husband, one he likes to go in for art inspiration…
#684 an argument on our “date day”–always the hard cleansing before the joy comes, the remembering, the redemption–hard eucharisteo…
#685 dinner and a movie…what a long time since we have enjoyed such a thing…
#686 remembering that it’s nothing on earth that can make me happy, give me joy but God…hard eucharisteo…eucharisteo! thanksgiving to God in all things–even the hard–especially the hard…this transforms…
#687 giving testimony in Sunday morning service, me quaking and shaking, fingering my hair just a little, unsure what to do with my hands…but i told God if i had the opportunity, i would give Him glory for healing me and i would not let Satan have any place…so when the call for testimony came…
#688 for Sabbath rest, Husband and I lying in hammock, us falling asleep tangled up together like that…then picnic and badmitton with no net and tag with daughters

Shared with sweet Ann and others at….

L.L…
On In Around button

Laura…

Jen…

and Michelle…

On An Alluding Lent, Identity In Christ, and Idols

“If you shut yourself away from life and the children, everything your heart is tied to, and you bang your head against the wall to write something beautiful, it won’t work–your soul will be empty and you will have nothing to write about. But get outside with the children, live life, work, serve, and then it will pour out of you onto the screen.”–Mr. Simmons

Here I am, laid bare. Sometimes it seems as if my writing life will take over everything, like the blob.

A couple of days ago, Ivy came to me at the computer, and in her run-on speak asked, “Mama, it’s a beautiful day outside, and it’s warm and it’s really nice, and we’re all dressed and our room is clean–can we go outside and play?”

“Shh…Mama’s busy. Not now. Yes, we can go later. I’m almost done.” I shoot her a quick half-hearted smile. I feel a piece of my soul snatched away, torn.

A while later she comes back, asks again. Shes does this a few times. Finally, she tells me, “You are going to be on there forever–you’ve been saying that all morning.” Wow. Conviction’s arrows pierce my heart, before I can let my soul be completely torn apart–God in His grace, steers me back to Him, to wholeness. I tell her yes, we will go outside. She dashes off like lightening.

The insides burn, how can I be so cruel to these little ones–just needing me, just needing freedom, just needing life? Just the other day, we were dancing, now here we are again–going over and over the same miserable lesson–when will I ever learn? Oh, I am not adequate to this task–someone better than me should do this job–that God gave them to me to take care of and to usher into His light–I feel so unworthy.

I feel the weight of my desire, my idol encroaching, crushing, pulling me down to the depths.

Maybe this is the perfect time for a Lenten fast, because I can’t breathe and I can’t escape this driving force to be more, to be good enough, to be better, to be validated, to have higher numbers, to be known and yet, the adrenaline surges and anxiety siezes and I’m scared to death, quaking in my boots to be known.

The dream to be a writer–that has always been there–seems to have come on full force now that I’ve fully entered my thirties–like an angry bull let out of a pen into arena.

That bull, he is really afraid–he doesn’t like being cornered–he doesn’t at all like to feel threatened–it makes him angry and a force to be reckoned with.

And here I am, getting older, and nothing to show for it–and I feel threatened–feel not good enough. And I am a force to be reckoned with–only this bull is not in the arena–he is in the china shop–and my sweet children, they take the hardest blows against their china hearts when Mama forgets to have a servant’s humility pumping through her veins and wants to serve her own balloon-filled-with-helium-desires.

And I wonder, who am I?

What defines me? Being a mediocre writer, a dabbling artist, a not-good-enough-singer {who now only sings in the shower}, runner who comes in nearly last in every race, an almost nursing student, beauty school drop-out, mommy in pajamas with four children hanging about my legs? Is that me?

Which title says I’m good enough? Which do people accept?

Oh, the weight of my human sin. MY sin, and that of no one else. Mine is the one God whispers to me about–when I think on others’ and not mine, it’s someone else whispering. And what I hear God saying, is this sin of mine, how it bogs, how it drags me beneath the drowning, tumultuous currents, without me realizing.

My insecurities–which are really just pride with a mask on–they cause me to run hard and fast after things to fulfill my empty identity. And this idol of mine, my writing, it is exactly that for me.

And God is saying to me, “Daughter, my precious child, look to me. Don’t pay any attention to what others say about you–keep your focus on Me–in Me, you will find all you need, all you desire, all joy and peace and yes, even peace with yourself–because in Me, wrapped up in Me, is the only place you will find your identity.”

I read this on Robin’s site, {hover over words and click to see her post} and it struck me: “He is my best form of identification – He declares my identity and legitimacy when the world is screaming about my lack.”

Thoughts about identity and idols had been circulating in my mind, ever since a late-night talk with Husband and ever since a friend had asked me to write at one of her sites–and this friend is well-known–and this scared me senseless, and at the same time gave me all sorts of {false} hopes for the future–making me a balled mess of fear, rapture, anxiety, frustration, elation and gratefulness with a bit of daunting failure and accomplishment thrown all in at once.

I did not even write back at first–and what deep-seeted fears run so rampant in the dark caverns of me that I would treat this angel of a friend so rudely? I finally wrote and accepted, and tried hard at being gracious. All of this brought me to question: What am I–upside down blogger in an upside down kingdom with humility and aim only to serve and love, or am I  just another hat trying to find a hook on which to hang, hoping to gain numbers, get published and win?

Is this just a place to BE someone? To find a title that says I’m worth something?

Writing has pushed me, jolted me with electric current, said, “Wake up!”, and God has used it to show me my real heart. And the answer that God has wanted me to find–not in my head, but in my heart–is this: my best identification is Christ, as my new friend Robin so cleverly wrote.

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world. “

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

“The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

“He has great tranquillity of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.”

Thomas a Kempis
Biography and Works

And this is how God fills the soul-holes, and repairs the torn away soul pieces that I myself have ripped, and He brings me to wholeness–this is how He fills my empty identity to the brim: He adopted me into His family, He has become my real Father, and has told me that I am His daughter, I am a co-heir with Christ, and I can call Him Abba, Daddy.

So through sickness going ’round this house relentless, and financial confusion, and Lent’s plans alluding me, the big dreams I had for it unfulfilled, I ask myself, how can I best fast for Lent? With Easter quickly approaching, what one way can I truly, with everything I have, honor my Savior?

How can little hearts and big hearts alike best prepare for such a life-abundant event–how can we till the hard ground of our hearts and make soil ready to receive the glorious, beautiful promise of the resurrection power and all He has given, made rightly our’s through His blood sacrifice?

And here is the hard part: for me, it is in withdrawing into Him, into quieter, more still moments of reflection. It is in fasting from the thing I love the most–my writing.

In giving more time to my children, in bending down and inclining my ear to their petitions, their requests, yes, their demands and their teasing laughter–I will be entering into the glory of God.

In allowing myself rest and recuperating from illness, I am leaning on Him, obeying and surrendering to the season He has called forth, and in stepping away from buzzing screens and outside into the marvelous light of His creation, I am bringing Him honor and praise with my time.

My prayer is that in my frailty, He can make something out of nothing in this Lent season.

{Just for a different perspective, I like the way The Message talks about identity in Christ}:

“But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to receive our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now full adopted as his own children because God sent the spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privelege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.”–Galatians 4:3-7; The Message

“I am His by purchase and I am His by conquest; I am His by donation and I am His by election; I am His by covenant and I am His by marriage; I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His. Once I was a slave but now I am a son; once I was dead but now I am alive; once I was darkness but now I am light in the Lord; once I was a child of wrath, an heir of hell, but now I am an heir of heaven; once I was Satan’s bond-servant but now I am God’s freeman; once I was under the spirit of bondage but now I am under the Spirit of adoption that seals up to me the remission of my sins, the justification of my person and the salvation of my soul.”

Thomas Brooks
Brief Biography

I won’t be gone completely, friends. I will still be counting 1,000 gifts, just giving less time to writing and screens and more to family, prayer, God’s creation…

Some other posts by beautiful, brave women who inspired me to step on out and write on my ponderings…Dolly@Soul Stops, Jennifer Camp @You Are My Girls, Mary Leigh@ BlueCottonMemory, Michelle@ A Surrendered Life, Roseann@ Tuning My Heart, Michelle@ Graceful and Jen@ Finding Heaven
You will be MUCH blessed to visit these ladies’ posts–this, THIS is honesty and beautiful hearts reaching for HIM!

This post shared in community with:

sweet Ann…

whimsical Tracy…


the lovely kd…
JourneyTowardsEpiphany
and beautiful Jennifer…

Choosing To Belong In Love {a day-after-Valentines celebration of marriage and family}

It is evening and we’ve had an argument…I have been crying on his chest…showing the weakness that I hate to show,

but it is the weakness that, in spite of me, softens him.

I am weary from life, and all that seeks to destroy me, wear me down, and take me under. We are moving around, speaking to one another, trudging forward through the thick mud around our feet, desperately needing a change, but knowing that this is what change feels like–it is the uncomfortableness of moving forward when it is really hard.

Then he comes and tells me while I’m in the shower, that my eldest daughter has asked that I wear my black special occasion dress, and that she is preparing something for us. I ask, “Why?” He says, “I’m not sure what is going on, but she says she is doing something for us, and she wants us to get dressed.”

This takes me out of my comfort zone–I don’t feel like getting dressed up in my fancy black dress–I feel like resting–it’s been a rough day–when Husband and I don’t get along, my world just slides right off-kilter. I want to hide, because it is hard to feel that I belong.

But I summon the courage to get dressed up and go to the dining room.

She roar-whispers to her Daddy, “Don’t forget what you are supposed to do, Daddy.” He pulls out the chair for me, and I sit down. I feel like I am in an alternate universe, not really sure what is happening.

I hear Nora Jones’ soft, bluesy voice wafting in from the kitchen. I smile, knowing what she is up to, but there is no way that I could be prepared for what is to come.

They come in, little angels, bringing our dinner plates, and serving us–she has even dressed her sisters up for the occasion. I am in awe and a little speechless. And when she sets down the very humble little meal she has prepared in front of me, I do my best to let her see that I appreciate it.

My children are daily teaching me lessons that no sermon could ever teach.

And then the dessert–such a wild, imaginative thing that only a child could dream up. I know that she has been watching some cooking shows, and trying her hand with creativity, and I am amazed that she soaks everthing around her up like a sponge. Noone has told her yet that she “can’t”.

As she sets the plate in front of me, I know that it is just the plastic plate belonging to her little sister–not normally a plate fit for a dining table, but it doesn’t matter:

I try to stay in the moment and feel this queenliness that she wants to make me feel.

But I am not a queen. I am so humbled, and it is though at the moment my paradigm is shifting, and everything seems to be sliding. And I know that I am having to try too hard…what a wretch I am, that I can’t feel the happiness in this moment.

There is a wall of guilt around my heart making the blood like quicksand, and there is a mountain in front of me called fear, paralyzing me, holding me back, making it hard for me to engage, making it hard for me to love.

Sadness looms heavy and ballooning, sucking the air and the courage right out of me and I don’t know how to climb over.

And then she says, “Okay, are you finished with your plates?” and clears them away. “Now”, she says, “it is time for the dance”, eyeing her Father.

So he takes my hand and leads me to the kitchen.

My head is spinning–I am not sure what to think. It has been years since this…dancing, closeness, this intimacy, and it is hard…I feel the air closing in around me.

I feel the bittersweetness and insecurity of a new pattern that is not normal to our relationship.

And I know he feels it too. I hear him say, “Been a long time since we’ve done this, huh? I can hardly find my voice, but when I do, I think I sound like a croaky, silly adolescent, unsure of myself and not wanting to let myself fully into the desire of the thing. I answer and stumble around, “Yes, it’s been..um..10 years.”

I think about Lorna, and why she is doing this for us. Does she feel the tension, the stress?

As he holds me close, I begin to melt and everything all wound up tight begins to unravel, in a very, very good way–the way that only he can make things unravel for me.

This is where my peace is–I have had to be away from him before, and I know that there is no peace in that. This is where I belong. And should I apologize for saying this and not giving God credit for my peace?

I don’t think so–I believe that He ordained that I would feel only truly whole when I give myself over to another–completely giving and allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to feel complete in another’s arms.

Here is where and how I come to God.

The more we dance, the looser and freer we are.

The more free we are, the more the joy deep inside wells up. I stop worrying about Lorna. One day she will have to know about the stresses and arguments, down days and sadness of life. All I can do, being human, is to show her how to deal with those things when they come.

Maybe if I’m looking at Him, whom I belong to, while she is looking at me, then everything will be alright.

And then my little girl takes me back twenty-something years ago to when I was a little girl, dancing on Daddy’s feet. And it makes me smile pure joy.

And right here in this sweet, sacred moment, the air full of glory around us,

I’m so glad that I had the courage to break free and love, and BE loved,

and we are all caught up in belonging–to one another in love and to Him, our Creator–we belong in all it’s fullness and completeness, we are held, in Him who is over all things and in Him who is in all things.

Here I am loved.

Here I love.

an edited post from archives

If you are interested in checking out our dreamy Valentines Day together…much crafting and baking beauty to behold…and a sweet list of “Love Is…”, click here

Join me at Ann’s for more thoughts on how we love in difficult places, how we live out the greatest of commandments?….

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