Category Archives: women

A Faithful Witness Established Forever {An Abstraction on Evergreen}



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

 No winter can harm it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Today’s prompt is EvergreenGO!


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


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When We Don’t Like What’s Reflected In Glass {An Abstraction on the Frame}

I pass by and catch a reflection of myself and don’t like what I see. I jerk head away quickly.

Others tell me I’m beautiful but I only believe it if I’m dressed up, face made-up, all my flaws hidden, or at least I think they are.

In the glass, while little ones run around and slam doors in the background, I stand on the pine floor and look. I see ragged skin, age spots, and a scarred face from too much acne in older age.

I see worry in my brow, stress in my sagging cheeks, lines that go down around my mouth.

Why don’t I see what everyone else sees? The thing is, we don’t see ourselves rightly. We are looking at ourselves with a biased opinion, with a closed mind, we’ve already judged ourselves before we even take a look in the mirror.

I walk in a room, in my jeans and cowboy boots, my blonde hair straight, and I dressed nicely, wore pearls so I would make a great first impression, but I look down, don’t engage others’ eyes, for fear of having to make conversation, extend my hand too many times. I could have stayed in my hotel room and that would have been easier.

The first thing I see upon driving up are the horses and small gated arenas at the bottom of the hill, the antiquish looking buildings that seemed fun to explore. I think of touching the horses’ silky noses, rubbing my hand along their shiny, smooth coats, standing up on the iron gate, walking around in dirt.

But I don’t get to walk down there, and the frame shifts uneasy and I can’t catch my balance. Others stand around in their nice outfits and scarves, crowded together, they talk candidly and communicate effective words that carry across short, warm wavelengths. They are socially ept, graceful. They give off vibes that make others feel comfortable around them. They laugh that I totally get you laugh. But I hold back, fearful to say much, because I’ve been accused of being too bold and forthright, too brash and opinionated, obnoxious.

When I saw myself through someone else’s lens for the first time, it was like being born backwards or being thrown into an unquenchable fire. I peeled my skin back and exposed it to freezing air.

Those years ago, I was thrown into an arena where people saw me through a negative lens. They thought their mission in God was to be sure others around them were rid of all pride.

And so I was sanded down, harshly, rubbed fiercely. I was acutely aware of myself for the first time. My face blushed a profane shade of red, and I was in the center, in the light, all hot and slithering with no way out.

I was too aware and in hell. But here I am in this new place, with new people of grace that make me see I’m someone of worth, that there is indeed something good there in my heart and they call it out,

call it real,

call it me.

I still struggle, after all these years, after all the bullying in school years, when I perceive someone is judging me or intentionally hurting me, slam goes the door of my heart. The mean side of me says they should be careful not to get their fingers caught in the door.

But then I remember grace. The frame shifts again, turns, spins, a kaleidoscope of pain and I want to be free.

And I’m ready to shirk that devil off my back.

After all, we should take into account that when others insult us or point out negative things about ourselves–as if we didn’t already know–those hurtful stings are coming from depraved, flawed people, not from God, but He uses it to weed the ugly out of our hearts, the black selfishness that we harbor there.

When the frame shifts back, off-kilter, falls off the shelf of that dark corner of my humanity, and God holds it just right, crooked, not at all the way I would have seen–

I can see what He sees–a beautiful daughter of grace. Only grace and always grace, the only thing holding me and you and this world gone awry, gone distorted.

I walk over in old jeans that fit just right, wisps of hair fall on my cheeks as I set the frame back on the shelf, my heart open to what God wants to show me next.

Okay, I’m sharing this pic for two reasons: to show you I’m brave enough to just be me, and to celebrate the launching of Emily Wierenga’s book, Mom In the Mirror, coming out today!

Gratitude {1095-1108}: for lovely spring :: blue jays and red cardinals swooping in my yard, from tree to fence and back again :: for days in the sun with my girls :: for moments they remind me to be a kid again :: my sister and her friend coming to visit from Colorado :: having a beautiful, clean, shiny home :: speckles and sloshes of paint smattered across the floor :: buckets of mop water :: rugs fresh out of the washer :: sunlight in my little’s hair :: spending time with sister and her friend, drinking beers and eating homemade salsa :: a fun evening with family at a restaurant for my birthday :: a glorious mother’s day with a 2 hour long nap

“Brave” photo courtesy of Jennifer Camp {Thanks, friend!!} {This post shared with Ann, Laura, Michelle, Jen Heather for the EO, Emily for A Love Dare

 *************

***Dear readers, I had a conversation with the ever-sweet Amber Haines, and her handing over Concrete Words to me 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!
                                     
**Today’s prompt is the Frame

Next week, our Concrete Words Guest Writer is Kelli Woodford and the prompt is The Cup.{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!}


Fear Won’t Stop You {31 Days of Fear–Day #2}

Day 2 of 31 Days of Fear…I ask for grace for this posting from the archives, but I’m working on something, and I plan to take a break over the weekends–weekend posts will be short but sweet–I hope you come back to take a look, to taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus in the midst of my fears.

I set out, screen door slamming behind, metal vibrating and hear the crunch-crunch-crunch, wet, grainy- smooth 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.

                                                                              *Edited post from the archives

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? What has God whispered to your heart about it? 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 post also linked with:

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…

Fumbling Toward Destruction {Edited Edition}

You can go here to get the beginning to this story….which will help you understand the second part better….

So I began stumbling down this dark path, numb and despondent me, groping along as if blind. And somewhere around the age of 12 or 13, I began to have an aversion to eating. Greasy hamburgers made my stomach turn, and when placed in front of me, I begrudgingly ate a few small bites, and then threw it up.

I was so dislocated from everyone else. They were all enjoying the meal together and talking and laughing but it was like I was on the outside of a dark glass, looking in, unable to join in, this depressed bubble impermeable. I did not like mealtime–I spent my time closed off in the bathroom–isolated, all alone. Paranoia consumed me. When anyone made a comment about how little or how much I ate, the paranoia wrestled me to the ground and strangled me. I suffocated under the weight of this monster. I couldn’t breathe.

The only comfort to me was the only thing familiar–me–just the way I’d always been. The little girl me was scared and didn’t want to change, didn’t want hips, extra fat, things I didn’t recognize–I was losing me. Maybe I was trying to control a life that felt a little like it was on a runaway train. Maybe this was the way I reacted to the negative things said about me–I self-inflicted pain.

I scratched at the wounds and let them bleed out.

{I’m over at Chasing Silhouettes, Emily’s (of Imperfect Prose) eating disorder blog, if you would like to follow me there for the rest of the story? Just hover and click on the link there. I’ll be there, waiting with a warm smile, ready to continue the conversation, friends. I can’t promise tea and hors d’oeuvres, but you are welcome to bring along chocolate, or coffee, or vise of your choice…..Sharing with trembling, friends…}

WAIT! Just one more thing before you go? I am excited about this free ebook, Giving Up Normal: Surburban Girl Meets the Streets from my friend, Alene–not because I’ve read it already–it’s only recently been made available–but because I just love her heart and I know the message and reading her heart is going to be awesome! PLUS–It’s FREE! Who couldn’t be excited about that?! Please follow the link just above to get your free copy–or just show some love to this sweet, God-adventurous, generous woman!

Shared with precious Emily and others in community at….

sweet Ann in community at…
L.L…. On In Around button Laura… and Jen…

Jennifer…

Shanda…

and Michelle…

Fumbling Toward Destruction

You can go here to get the beginning to this story….which will help you understand the second part better….

So I began stumbling down this dark path, numb and despondent me, groping along as if blind. And somewhere around the age of 12 or 13, I began to have an aversion to eating. Greasy hamburgers made my stomach turn, and when placed in front of me, I begrudgingly ate a few small bites, and then threw it up.

I was so dislocated from everyone else. They were all enjoying the meal together and talking and laughing but it was like I was on the outside of a dark glass, looking in, unable to join in, this depressed bubble impermeable. I did not like mealtime–I spent my time closed off in the bathroom–isolated, all alone. Paranoia consumed me. When anyone made a comment about how little or how much I ate, the paranoia wrestled me to the ground and strangled me. I suffocated under the weight of this monster. I couldn’t breathe.

The only comfort to me was the only thing familiar–me–just the way I’d always been. The little girl me was scared and didn’t want to change, didn’t want hips, extra fat, things I didn’t recognize–I was losing me. Maybe I was trying to control a life that felt a little like it was on a runaway train. Maybe this was the way I reacted to the negative things said about me–I self-inflicted pain.

I scratched at the wounds and let them bleed out.

{I’m over at Chasing Silhouettes, Emily’s (of Imperfect Prose) eating disorder blog, if you would like to follow me there for the rest of the story? Just hover and click on the link there. I’ll be there, waiting with a warm smile, ready to continue the conversation, friends. I can’t promise tea and hors d’oeuvres, but you are welcome to bring along chocolate, or coffee, or vise of your choice…..Sharing with trembling, friends…}

WAIT! Just one more thing before you go? I am excited about this free ebook, Giving Up Normal: Surburban Girl Meets the Streets from my friend, Alene–not because I’ve read it already–it’s only recently been made available–but because I just love her heart and I know the message and reading her heart is going to be awesome! PLUS–It’s FREE! Who couldn’t be excited about that?! Please follow the link just above to get your free copy–or just show some love to this sweet, God-adventurous, generous woman!

Also, counting God’s graces, His perfect gifts in my life along with Ann…if you would like to stay for a minute to read, or come back here after the story?….

Gratitude:

#734 me and girls reading Little Women on blanket spread in green grass, dappled with late afternoon light

#735 us all having a science lesson from Jeannie Albright’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy    about God’s creation in backyard while husband mows

#736 picnic supper on front porch with candles

#737 going out in the middle of the day to jump in sunshine with my girls

#738 the sunlight in their hair

#739 exercising with my oldest girls

#740 taking all four of my girls to town to meet Meme–that I have a way to get us there

#741 that I’m well enough to get out and do things on my own–glory to God

#742 Husband and I having the entire weekend to ourselves

#743 going out to eat mexican on a Friday night and how Husband is happy with price and quickness of service

#744 how in getting older, eating out is about all we can stand, and we want to be back home, with wine and a movie

#745 me and Husband huddled on swing in a cold-front spring morning, blanket shared wrapped ’round us, drinking coffee and listening to birds, talking about dreams without interruption

#746 spending Saturday cleaning and organizing our office area together for me and the girls to have a place to homeschool

#747 Husband sacrificing what he would like to do on a Saturday for our needs–what a man

#748 when all the work has worn me down, and I have forgotten the fact I’m hungry, Husband popping his head in to say let’s get out for awhile, get dressed, and takes me to my favorite restaurant

#749 knowing how noise and crowds get to me, him asking me do i want a booth, if i want him to sit next to me, always concerned about me

#750 Lorna’s response when she comes home, “I missed you a little bit.”

#751 wonderful Sunday morning service

#752 a few ladies telling me that they do want to do the {in}courage beach bash after all–my elation after i had given up on the idea–and a few are all we need

#753 coming home to roast filling the house

#754 beautiful sunshine and me running out to the trampoline like a little kid to jump with my girls

#755 all six of us jumping together on a Sunday afternoon

#756 being asked to share my story

#757 that God is using it to expand my territory, to open up my heart and make me go out on a limb to grab someone hurting

This was a hard story to write, friends, and I stripped bare and laid it out, but if there is something more–something I may have forgotten in my quest to get it written–to the story you would like to hear about, would you mention it in the comments, or send me an email?

Shared with sweet Ann and others in community at…

Emily…

L.L….
On In Around button

Laura…





and Jen…

Jennifer…

Shanda…

and Michelle…

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…

A Girl Lost In Smoke and Mirrors {What Does God Say About Beauty?}

{There are many things on my heart to say this morning, many things I long to convey, to pour out, but God has placed this on my heart for now and has surprised me by opening the door for me to share something that has laid dormant for so long, that I am really baffled as to how best to share it….Please bring some grace along with you, friends, as you read…I will need it….much love…}

I don’t like this woman that stares back at me in the mirror. This once-young body has been ravaged by the throes of motherhood–all those babies I grew and breastfed–and left a shell of skin that I don’t recognize.

The once glowing, young face has been replaced by wrinkly skin that doesn’t snap back into place when I smile or frown–the lines stay. The glow of youth now just ashen and sagging, my green having seen some pain through the years, peeking out. They’ve learned to not sparkle so much, their fierceness quieted by the hard lessons and harsh words.

My skin constantly breaks out, seemingly with no cure, and the scars bear the evidence that where beauty once so brilliant shown, now time has obviously marched right across my face and staked territory.

“Honey, time marches on, and eventually you realize it’s marchin’ across your face.”
                                                                 -Truvy–Steel Magnolias

I feel like I’m having a mid-life crisis and back in highschool all at the same time.

I’ve found it hard to come to grips with this, to like the skin I’m in, to be comfortable in it, and more than that, to believe what God says about me–that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.

I remember Husband’s words that women in today’s culture seek to be sexy, but the most beautiful woman is a confident woman–a woman who can wear old jeans, pull her hair back in a pony-tail and laugh, and be happy with herself and her God.

I know he’s right–I do, but I don’t feel confident and I don’t feel so wonderfully made when this body is decaying and falling apart.


Old habits die hard.

Growing up, I was always, always complimented on my outward beauty. It was the only thing I got noticed for, and was completely unaware why. I tried hard to fit in, to be apart, took a stab at jokes, tried to find a tight space in conversation to slip in a clever remark.

But I was made fun of and laughed at–this girl who looked out windows, closed eyes in blinding sun and day-dreamed too much and didn’t get the dirty jokes–told that I was a dumb-blonde, that I was so out of it and air-headed.

I knew that they were joking, just having fun, but I was the butt of the joke, and it didn’t feel like fun to me–I was the one who was paying the price for their fun. I felt deflated–worthless–nothing of value in my heart and mind. I’d look back out the window again and drift off some place where it didn’t hurt as bad to be me.

As I grew taller and began to take shape–my face becoming that of a woman, my beauty was all anyone was interested in–I had nothing else to offer. I felt stupidly clumsy, falling all over myself in front of people, not knowing what to say. It was just easier to shut off and not be interested in meeting new people. I didn’t understand this extreme social status game, me this bookish girl all in my own dream world, shyly preferring characters in stories to real people and the pain they inflicted.

Books were my closest friends. I would come home and run to the comfort of my bed where I would fling myself down and read for hours. I would look out the window at the dogwood and think of the nails that Jesus took for me, but unfortunately I did not know the grace that man came to give.

I was so empty.

This is where I took a turn down a long, dark path. This was just the beginning….

Dear, kind friends, this is only the beginning of the story–I apologize for leaving you hanging, but Emily {of Imperfect Prose} has asked me to share my anorexia story and I will be sharing that over at her eating disorder site next Monday. Please come back and read of my journey? It would be such an extravagant grace to have you back here then and if you would like, to follow me to her place to get the full story….

A little glimpse of the beauty to come and some encouragement for you today: …..

 This is what God says about my beauty, about this frail, human body:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days you have ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” Psalms 139:13-18

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction in on her tongue. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”–Proverbs 31:25,26,30 

 Prayer: 

God, I want real beauty. I want to be a servant with the worn spots of motherhood on me. Let me wear the work apron in place of fine jewels and instead of being obsessed with lashes lavished with makeup and with curling, let me have eyes that are a place of found grace when my kids have fallen into sin, not lingerie-store pushed up and out, but a soft breast for little ones to fall asleep on, and not a perfect hour-glass figure, but a wife and mother that prays on the hour for You to come love them through me, and not a mother who checks herself in the mirror, mumbling insults in front of little ears….

{please come back for the rest next Mon? I will share details from my eating-disorder journey and encouragement on what God says about a woman’s body vs. what our culture says–I promise it is freeing! He gives more grace, friends! Always more grace!}

Sharing with a trembling heart…hitting publish with shaky hands, and as Emily says, letting Jesus write through me…and counting, this week again, through all the hard times, with Ann…..

Gratitude:

#720 daughters and me doing exercise together everyday

#721 that they ask to do things with me

#722 Bella’s pleading 4-yr-old-lisp request: “Pleasth, Mama, can I go with you? Pleasth??” and how even though I want time alone, I can’t resist.

#723 me and Bella smelling the flowers together in the garden center at her prompting

#724 me taking girls out for the day to get my hair done–first time in a year {!} and to take the girls to a skating party–surviving social anxiety

#725 our whole family serving at our church this week–way out of our comfort zonethe beauty of giving versus receiving

#726 an unspoken hard eucharisteo

#727 sun in face, looking up at trees above, light dappled through leaves, tears brimming over, heart heavy and conversation just between my Father and me

#728 an impromtu supper picnic at the lake with friends–conversation, laughter, love, support

#729 my friend’s wisdom and loving encouragement…how she grounds me

#730 our family making. it. early. for Sunday service!!

#731 a dear woman at church asking me to sit with her and discuss homeschooling–her husband divulging his concerns for his 12 yr old daughter–the wild grace that I could have anything to offer this family–only God, only God
#732 that with all my shortcomings, that maybe God can still use me

#733 the opportunity to share my story–something I wasn’t even aware that I needed to do until I was asked–that it will be healing for me and hopefully for others…

Friends, I would LOVE for you to leave your thoughts–your comments are so precious, and minister to my soul–I am probably in a corner of my home somewhere cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, sorting through laundry, helping my second grader sound out words, or talking with wonderful Husband over wine….I am sorry that I cannot answer every comment, but please let me know you were here, so I can stop by your place and leave some encouragement for you!

Shared with Ann in community at…

Emily…

L.L…
On In Around button

and Laura…




Jen…

Jennifer….

Michelle…

and Shanda…

Resurrecting A Marriage {Ponderings of Easter}

The kids are at the grandparents for the weekend and we are getting ready to leave and Husband tells me matter-of-factly that it’s not a date, asks me why I’m wearing heels. Heels click loudly on hardwood and ring through the house and I am embarrassed at my obviousness. My heart is crushed, because in my little-girl-grown-up-heart, I had so hoped he would notice, say I was pretty, look at me longingly, put his hand just there on the small of my back as he led me to the car.

Instead, an hour later, it all comes out of me hot and rushed and a little too loud how that I don’t feel loved.

Why is it that God made me that way–with a particular love-language that my husband doesn’t understand?

I look up to Father, to the One who can fill this deep, vast void in me, this canyon of waters that rushes wild and snares anything that comes along in it’s thrashing.

I look to the One who knows the ache and understands the pain of rejection.

I look to the One who gets me, who points my sin out to me gently one by one, so I’m not overwhelmed, and seeing my ugly, loves me anyway–unconditionally.

I look up and I say to Him, “Father, you know my heart. You know my heart, Father. You know my heart.”

And He does. He knows that I love my husband passionately, that I would go to hell and back for that man, that my children are my crown of glory, that I would go down to the depths before I would let one blonde hair on their halo-heads be touched by evil. God understands, because His Son is His crown, whom He loves, in whom He is pleased, and I am a co-heir with him, and I am God’s beloved, His beautiful jeweled crown.

He knows that I spend hours reading, thinking, trying to learn new ways to make home happy and peaceful and safe and a place that everyone wants to be. He knows that I search frantically for the way. He knows that on my own I am helpless in the ways of homemaking and the ways of God.

He knows that I am a screw-up. He knows that just the moment that I write a beautiful story about mothering, and hit publish, then I grind my teeth and yell at my children, and their happy chin botches up and their lip turns down and quivers and the eyes look at me, deep pools of hurt.

He knows that I forget to be grateful, I forget to do the simple act of telling Him thanks, that this home has more harsh words–words that break– than I want it to.

He knows that I run in a vicious cycle of try hard, fail, give up and try hard again, as the Pastor said on Easter Sunday. He knows I try hard at Lent and celebrating Easter and I am deficient.

He knows that Easter draws close, I close up and want to withdraw, because as his death becomes more and more real, as the thing draws heavy upon me, my human emotions and expressions simply cannot do Him justice. And I’m rendered useless in His presence.

He is the only One that really sees my heart, sees my tears, mourns with me, catches my tears and keeps each one in a bottle. He never forgets one tear that escapes the soul-windows, them leaking out pain.

Husband and I walk hand in hand into a local restaurant dating back to the 1840’s and when we sit down and after the waiter has left, he touches my knee, looks me in the eye, and he already has me.

Those soft blue eyes with such care in them, I just get lost and want to leap right in like a wild woman. He says he is sorry, and that’s all I really need to hear. And the conversation continues and we talk about the artists splayed on the brick wall, and we are a little taken with the place, and I convince him to share some World Famous Black Bottom Pie.

What I really have a hard time swallowing down, though, as we sit there and I look at him, is that I have been ungrateful. I know that I pushed until I got what I wanted–time, closeness, and it’s just the two of us in all the world if I can just get five uninterrupted moments to stare into those eyes.

But I long for the day when I serve him so well that I have abundant grace to pour out when he is in a dry season and he can’t readily give me those moments–I long to be this woman full of grace, wisdom on my lips.

God, burn me, Refiner’s fire, from the inside out–start with my mouth–and just take over and consume–love through me, serve through me.

Later when we are finally alone in the dark, and he reaches over and lays his hand on me as I lie still, lets it slide down, I feel the kindling of the moment, tiny sparks that take over and consume.

And I am this–bride waiting with candle burning brightly, always waiting for her bridegroom when he chooses to come for her.

I weep inside over who I’ve been, for when I have fallen asleep and let my wick go out, when I have missed the glory of God, quenched the Holy Spirit with the crushing words of my mouth.

I weep only on the inside and I open up completely to him, this man that has such power over me, let the grace pour over me as the love between us is made.

My heart, through my husband, is revealed to me and drawn back to God, who holds me and is the only One who can fill this scary, raving mad unquenchable void in me.

Gratitude:

#689 e-mails from beautiful sisters

#690 for mentors

#691 illness leaving our home finally, Satan’s lies defeated

#692 my best friend coming to my home for a spontaneous visit

#693 the grace of her sitting on my porch swing, pouring our hearts out

#694 the way she dotes on my girls–how she does this everytime she sees them–the thousand, countless ways she is thoughtful toward me

#695 how they call her Auntie April, because she is that to them

#696 our run through the trails later

#697 how we can say anything to one another, how we kackle silly and share unabashadly what God is showing us about our sinful hearts

#698 hours outside in the sun picnicing, Husband coming home and playing badmitton until twilight pushes us all inside

#699 how Bella runs up to her Daddy in the drive and asks him to come play–how he can’t say no

#700 Bella writing her ABC’s and her name

#701 her dimpled grin–how her whole face lights up like the heavens when she shows me so proud–how i could fall into those deep ravines of cuteness and get lost right there at the corner of her mouth

#702 how I wonder if the glory of God can be summed up in the face of this child

#703 Ivy’s loving hugs that make me feel wrapped up in a warm blanket

#704 Ivy coming and telling me she clasps her hands together and prays to Jesus in her head, and she hears Him talking to her

#705 Lorna’s “I Am From” poem–that she’s a poet at heart like her Mama

#706 that I was able after a two-year battle with illness, to take babies to doctor and store–still can’t believe I’m better–glory to Him

#707 After Bella’s shots, her concern when the nurse places Lilly on the table, and she says to my Granny upon stepping out of the room: “I bet Lilly is crying.”

#708 an incredible few weeks of Lent and how God has lavishly blessed our time together as a family

#709 how He took us from being lost in exhaustion and t.v. to re-focusing our efforts toward our family goals–His grace to be at the supper table, enjoying God together

#710 an amazing Easter service, indescribable worship to an even more indescribable God, communion and the confession of sins at the altar, loving prayer woman-to-woman and man-to-man, the gospel like i have never seen it presented

#711 how in my failures, God meets me and when my human emotions fall short of expressing and celebrating His beauty, how He is still glorified through me, not because of me, but because He is God

#712 that the story of the cross and His blood shed never gets old–a fresh revelation of His gospel and grace all over again

#713 that God almighty Himself would wrestle with me, would reveal Himself to me, over and over, in spite of myself

#714 that His blood speaks a better word than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this Earth, speaks righteousness for me and stands in my defense–lines from a favorite song

#715 a beautiful day of Easter celebration with family, that I was able to pull off a gorgeous dinner, with all their help, in spite of my organization handicap–how we all worked together, talked, laughed

#716 the beautiful grace of my parents washing up the dishes side-by-side before they left

#717 my Husband, how even though I’m his help-meet, he is also my helper in life–how he is there for me always in every circumstance and we are a team

#718 Husband’s remark as we fall asleep, a beautiful day, a job well done, everyone was proud, he says–I don’t understand this, but accept the grace anyway

#719 this song that broke me during Easter service–one of my favorites… and here is the video–it is  not for the faint of heart, but is a real depiction of our Lord and the blood He spilled for us…the blood I praise Him for…

{I actually have two videos for you…if you only have time for one, definitely–choose the second–I watched this at church Sunday and have never heard the gospel presented quite like this–it will rock your world}

Friends, your comments mean so much to me–please leave your thoughts so that I can drop by at your place to leave some encouragement for you. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably in some corner of my home sorting through laundry in danger of mildewing, and I hope to visit with you as soon as I get the chance! Thank you in advance for grace, friends! I love this community of grace-filled people!

Shared with Ann in community at…

and Laura…

L.L…
On In Around button

Emily…

Jennifer….

Michelle…

and Shanda…

Grit {Five Minute Friday}

For Five Minute Fridays, we link up with Gypsy Mama, Lisa-Jo, and write for only five minutes, just for the fun of it, no tedious editing or over-thinking!

GO.
Grit.

                            {thanks to my sister, @ Tri Junkie, for sending the picture} 

It takes grit to do what I do, to be a Mama to four, to rise above my circumstances, my past, my illness and stay strong.

It takes a grit that comes from my grandmother and my father. He says I’m just like my grandmother, but I never knew her. I wish I had.

I would have had a lot of questions for her, like where did she get her grit? How did she stay strong through the beatings and raise three sons, watching one die in her arms, just three? How did she get through that?

What kind of grit did it take for her to rise each morning with a song? How did she find the courage to wake her boys early every single day and say, “Up and at ’em!”

I want that kind of grit.

I have an idea what she might say.

I get the feeling in my gut, because her and I think so much alike, that she would have said she got her grit from God.

She was an evangelist, a very good one. Her bible was worn, her hymnal music sheets tattered from loving use. I’m sure her knees were too.

That’s the kind of grit I’m talking about.

STOP.

Join me over at Lisa-Jo’s for more “writing like we can fly”………this is going to be FUN!