Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter (in Noun & Verb)

Lord washes
friends eat
trouble leaves

friends pray
man pleads
God answers
Son accepts
angel ministers
friends sleep

trouble returns
kiss betrays
man submits
friend denies
rooster crows

hypocrites question
guards strike
governor interrogates
king interrogates
enemies unite
woman dreams
Roman struggles
crowd screams
crowd roars
hands wash

scourge falls
blood runs
women weep
nails pierce
mother watches
heart breaks

God turns
breath ends
Love sacrifices
darkness falls
veil tears
path opens

selah (pause and think on this)

God reaches
death relinquishes
Love triumphs

morning dawns
women come
angles shine
reminder given
joy awakens
wildfire catches
Love appears
minds open
blessing given
Lord ascends

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

Five Minute Friday A little early this week, but still, this is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.

This week: Broken


Broken. Hah! There’s not one piece of me that’s not broken. That’s how I feel most days. Like I’m walking about in a fabulous masquerade – fooling everyone (and maybe no one) with a competent, cohesive, complete outside – when beneath the layers of all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips is nothing but parts held together by grace, an ounce and a half of prayer, and a good measure of duct tape.

After a job that nearly broke me into a million little pieces, I spent three years on a desert journey I didn’t even realize I was on until maybe halfway through. Three years of God guiding, leading, nurturing, teaching me – when I finally woke up to what was going on – it was amazing. Amazing grace and love spilling down. So much so that I almost didn’t want to leave. I was afraid to get back to real life where I would need to be whole and functioning in one piece again. Sometimes, it just seemed so much easier to be stripped bare as desert living calls for – casting all else aside and walking day by day, moment by moment with your Lord and relying on Him for every waking need.

It was easier, once I had admitted it and owned it, to be broken in His presence and abandon all to Him.

I’m so blessed that His grace abounds. And He continues to remind me that while some things change – some things can remain the same. I don’t have to lose everything that I learned to love while wandering with Him in the desert. And I don’t have to lose the brokenness – and with it – my whole-hearted reliance on Him. It is not – as I once thought – weakness, or less-than-ness, incompetence – all those things that the world tries to convince me that brokenness is.

It is simply surrender. In the most loving, complete, capable, fulfilling way that it can be. It is handing over everything that I cannot do, that I cannot be, that I cannot control to the One who can. Who sees beyond sight and moves beyond chronos in that infinite gift of kairos that we may one day experience.  In this surrender, in this brokenness, His strength is made manifest. May I remain broken for Him and in His service. Selah.


How to Join:
Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rest

Five Minute Friday So back to The Five Minute Friday. It’s part of the writing community with Lisa Jo Baker. She provides a one word, and we write for five minutes, then hit publish. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

This week: Rest


I’m laughing at the sheer synchronicity, blessing, God-confirming-ness of it all. Really I am. Because here’s what’s happened. As I’ve explored deeper into the community of the Five Minute Friday, I learned that as the clock trips over from Thursday to Friday, there’s an online Twitter party (#FMFParty) to kick off the writing prompt. Thought I’d have a look and see what was up. And there it was.

My daughter, years ago,
in a pose that makes me think of "rest"

Sometimes God just wants to give you a huge, ginormous hug and say, yes child, you’re on the right path. That’s what I got tonight. That and kind of a freebie, if you’ll forgive me. Because just hours ago, I felt led to write about something I was wrestling with. Something I’m not good at. Something I’ve been specifically ordered to do. By my doctor. By my husband. By my boss. And by my gentle Shepherd who triggered a thought in my head: that the bit about green pastures in the psalms is an implied imperative. “He makes me lie down.” Sometimes, our Shepherd knows that He needs to make us rest.


You can read about it if you’d like: To see what to do When the Only Option is to Lie Down and Rest. You can be frustrated about it. Or you can find a blessing in it. Something my mom said as we talked on the phone reminded me that it’s better to seek the blessing. And now I’m doubly blessed.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

When the Only Option is to Lie Down and Rest

I’m trying to look for my thankful here and not get frustrated. My cold has turned into respiratory drama – as it often does for me these days. Which means weeks and weeks of breathing that becomes more and more impaired. Multiple rounds of meds to see what works. Coughing until I am bruised from the inside out. And then bam – a quick trip to the ER one weekend when the breath just won’t come. I am not a patient person in the best of circumstances, and this feels like such an interference. Such a colossal nuisance. I have things I need to be doing. I just want to breathe and get on with it.

I am getting on with nothing.

Bed bound for four days after seeing my doctor. Take the meds. Rest. Get better.

I am really bad at this.

I feel wasteful. Like I should be up doing something. Lists run though my head of how this time could be better spent. And yet, even the simplest of tasks sends me lurching for the back of a chair or side of the bed for support as another fit of coughing wracks my body.

Lie down and rest.

I feel like a sheep in need of a shepherd.

The thought twinkles through the back of my mind; one of the first Psalms we learn as children. Describing the shepherd who leads us. He knows His sheep – the ones who would wander off the path without His guidance; the one who would keep walking – even when it was time to stop; the ones who would get lost in their head or the dark and suddenly turn and find themselves apart and alone. Is it a wonder that there is an implied imperative there? He makes me lie down in green pastures? He makes me.

It’s not a suggestion.

Maybe this is the thankful I’ve been looking for. My shepherd knows the path that He’s been leading me on. This desert path has been rocky of late. There’s not been a lot of rest. It’s been a long haul. He’s probably not surprised at all that I’m sitting here with orders to rest. I can see Him smile. A bit ruefully at me and my arguments. I can almost hear him say, “Lie down. Rest.”

I’m thankful because I’ve been reminded that there are hundreds of other women in the world right this very moment that are having to fight this same fight for breath as I am. Far away from medical miracles like antibiotics and inhalers. There is no one to look at their peril and say, “Lie down. Rest.” They don’t have a choice.

As frustrating as our health care system can be, I’m reminded to be thankful that I live where there is a healthcare system. Where I have a doctor who actually knows me and cares about me. Where my husband wants me to rest and get better. Where I have a choice. Where I have a chance.

And suddenly, I’m back to counting thanks and discovering the truth of eucharisteo - that thanksgiving always precedes the miracle. My frustration fades. And I can rest in my thanks until I can be back in action again.

For opportunities to learn about ways to make a difference in the lives of women and girls around the globe, visit Women of Vision is a volunteer ministry of World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, which equips women to serve impoverished and oppressed women and children worldwide. They seek to educate and inspire women to action in an effort to alleviate the injustice and inequities that exist for women and their families.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Home

Five Minute FridayThis is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.

How to Join:
Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

This week:  Home


Home is my comfort and safe space. Beyond the immediate idea of the walls of protection that a home provides, there is the idea of home. People who can be “home” to me because of the nature of our relationship. I am nothing, if not protective of me and mine. Curling carefully around tender places; presenting a well armored front to any that would trespass. On my heart – or on those dear to me.

Waiting by the Window
By Carl Holsoe (Public Domain)

Home means letting it down and letting it go. Where I no longer have to carry the weight of masks that protect and carefully cover any injured, bruised, or broken spaces.

Home means laughing hysterically – even if I look like a complete goober. Or sobbing uncontrollably – eyes twisted shut and tears coursing ungracefully down my face. Home means you’ve seen my goofy side.

Yes. I have one. And no. You probably haven’t seen it. It’s very rare.

There are perhaps a handful that have. They are home to me.

Home means grace – heaven knows I need it. It means loving me despite my continual falling down on the path; my ability to flay skin from bone with wicked words when I’m angry; my weakness for cheap curse words that leak out when I’m frustrated. Loving me in spite of that.

Home means I guard you with the same ferocity – I will wage the battles with you and for you. By your side and on my knees. If you are my home.

Home is staying for the long haul. Even when the long haul exhausts you and makes you feel as if you will not make it one tiny step further. Home says yes I will. I said I will. I am here. Home stays.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Farewell to Frances

I’m entering into that season of life when there are more goodbyes than hellos. I am now old enough that the people I grew up with – the ones whose footsteps I follow in are coming to the end of their journeys. This is a bittersweet time. I’m grateful for the full lives they’ve lived; blessed to have been so much a part of them; but oh heart, it is so hard to say goodbye.

I got another call and have to say a long distance goodbye again; to a most remarkable woman. I’ve known Frances Huitt since I was about ten years old, but most of my memories of her begin when I was about eighteen. Eighteen and looking for my first real job. Frances and her husband owned a small bookstore in the town I grew up in. She never posted that she was hiring, but lots of people walked in asking for applications. I was one of them, and for whatever reason, she decided to hire me – the spring after I graduated from high school. To be honest, all reasons elude me, even now, as to why she chose to take a chance on me – fresh-faced, no experience, not much to recommend me other than my enthusiasm for books. But she did. And I will always be grateful.

Decades separated us. Frances must have been about sixty when I started working for her, but she had a heart that spoke to mine and a spirit that was just as young. I remember slow summer afternoons in the store when no customers were around; we’d have bubble gum blowing contests or play pick-up sticks with the pencils in the kid’s department. I remember her having supreme confidence in my ability to do almost anything. I once overheard her talking to a customer, hints of North Carolina still echoing in her voice, “You know, if I don’t tell her that it can’t be done, eventually, she figures out a way to make it happen.” I also remember her total acceptance of whatever phase of life I was going through – and sometimes by “phase of life,” I mean “phase of fashion.” In order to appreciate this, you need to know that hers was a Christian bookstore with a wide variety of clientele, some extremely conservative. I was not particularly conservative at eighteen, and while I did tone down my taste for Goth chic while at work, I was reluctant to relinquish all my jewelry – including the chain bracelets and silver snake ring that wound its insinuating way around my index finger – that one gave customers pause more than anything else. They mentioned it to Frances from time to time; frowning in disapproval and dismay at my questionable choices. None of that fazed her or her unwavering support of me. Time and again she would respond with gentleness; explaining my fashion choices with astounding grace. It wasn’t just fashion choices either. Frances’ shared wisdom extended to other areas: college, dating, friendship. It was like the gift of another parent – I know I was flattered when she would slip up and call me Mary Lou, the name of her youngest daughter.

I worked there for five years before I moved away. Five great years where I enjoyed increasing responsibilities on the job, learned invaluable skills about working in a customer oriented environment, and made some friendships that would last a lifetime. Even after leaving, we kept in touch via cards and phone calls, and stopping by the bookstore was always on the “must” list when I came home to visit.

One of Frances’ favorite sayings was, “this too shall pass.” I doodled it once for her – not more than a quick illustration on a scrap of paper – probably on one of those lazy summer afternoons. She taped it on her desk and kept it there as a reminder. I still remember it and call it to mind in the midst of trying times: this too shall pass.

I’ll remember that now, as immediate sadness overshadows the joy of a life fully lived and the knowledge of seeing a loved one in the future. There is comfort in that, surely there is. But not without the pang of loss – knowing that we’ve said goodbye for now. Thankfully, just for now. And then, that too shall pass. And we’ll look ahead to a bright future in glory with those that we’ve had to say goodbye to here.

Miss Frances, I love you. I’ll see you soon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

ten thousand miles of grace

Photo by Clarita
ten thousand miles of grace.
i need
ten thousand miles of grace.
and even then
i'm not sure that would be enough
to cover the mistakes i know i've made,
or the blows that leave me reeling.

on the silver screen
it's so easy to wreak havoc miles wide;
then recite some beautifully scripted line -
leaves them breathless saying:
"you had me at hello."

it's those deceptively simple words
that should mean one thing
and one thing only -
but somehow carry the weight
of all my experience
plus all your experience
divided by all the echoes of silence and assumption between us.

and i'm so tired now.
so tired.
can't keep fighting an uphill battle
to be understood;
to be accepted;
to be loved.
just like this.

complete in my imperfectness;
draped in my faults and insecurities;
struggling to be better.
(just a little bit every day)
turning once again
to make the right choice;
not the innate choice.
(no, that's just my sarcasm leaking through)

the right road
is a good road.

it's a really good road.

but it's a long road.
and right now
i need
ten thousand miles of grace
to get where i need to go.

This is not new. It's a few years old in fact. But I thought about it relative to my last Five Minute Friday post - realizing that I (we, dare I say?) have been given so much grace. And that it's possible that we're on our way down the good road.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

Five Minute FridayI can’t believe it’s already March – and already Friday again. I’m linking up for my Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place.

The rules? Write for 5 minute. Link up at Lisa-Jo's and invite others to join in. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

This week: Ordinary


Photo by Kevin P
They pulled into the driveway in the old blue truck on a windy, chilly Saturday. Started unloading the washer and dryer; started chatting and catching up. I could hear her come inside and start talking to my daughter who was in the midst of cleaning her room. Or not cleaning it – depending on how you look at things. I had my hands full of a project and came out of the bedroom to say hello. Leaned against the door frame and talked about the week; about my interview; about our colds. My daughter pulled anxiously at Grandma’s arm. “You promised you’d come watch me bike,” she called – trying to steer her towards the back door. We laughed and realized that watching an eight-year-old biking was going to take priority. So we stood in the back of the house – my mother-in-law on the patio, me in the doorway, and watched my daughter pedal in circles around and around. In a few minutes, my husband called through the door to the garage that everything was set up, “come on and see what we’ve done.” Of course I had to bring my camera and take a picture or two to post online. As I stepped back and turned the camera off and listened to the conversation flowing around me, it suddenly hit me.

This is so ordinary.

Just an afternoon of getting some help with appliances. Catching up on the week, talking about upcoming birthdays, sharing about books we were reading. Ordinary.

And yet, anything but ordinary. How about miraculous?

My husband and I have struggled with our relationship with his parents for the entire length of our relationship – almost twenty years. I hadn’t seen or talked to my father-in-law in over two years that day. The roots of the trouble run deep, but no one wants it and I’m not even sure we could tell you how it started. Everyone has been trying to figure out how to resolve it, mend it, forgive it, move past it.

And in this one simple ordinary afternoon – through a glimpse of grace – we got a peek of what might be. What was probably ahead – just around the corner. The amazing, wonderful, extraordinary world of the ordinary.



The last few weeks have been one long haul. I could describe it other words, but I’m sure I’d look back in a day or two and think, “Well, that was inappropriate.”  So we’ll stick with “long haul” and call it good.

I’ve been in the midst of my desert journey – making my way to the edge. Working my hardest to ensure that my day job that has been a temporary-transient dream-of-a-thing for many months turns into a solid-loving-it-with-all-the-trimmings-thing; designing on the side; fighting uphill battles with some serious germs and bugs in our house (talk about the long haul – these colds were in for the duration); walking the balancing act of parenting where I find my center between encourager and task master; trying to be a good friend; trying to be a good daughter; trying to be a good wife; managing to feel like a general failure for a good percentage of the time. Can you tell that I’m a type-A, overachiever much?

On top of that rests the commitment I made to myself and a few select readers who were kind enough to comment; that I’d be writing more. That I’d be accountable, and dedicated, and consistent. Hmmm. How’s that working out? One glance at my blog shows me two Five Minute Fridays and one poem and the month is over in about seven hours. Not terribly prolific at all.

photo by carunan
The truth is I’m just so very tired and feeling terribly inadequate.

How do I even say that out loud when I’m supposed to be writing about encouragement and thanksgiving and finding grace in the midst of the storm? This is the criticism I imagine coming – though likely no one I know would even think this. I’m critical enough all by myself.

One of my lessons to learn – and apparently I’m still learning this one – is to give myself grace. I don’t do that very well at all. I struggle with being enough. Working hard enough. Parenting hard enough. Writing hard enough. Loving hard enough.

I am never enough.
I say that in a very small voice.

I believe that God has been working on that one in my life for a very long time. To help me realize in the most gentle of ways, that on my own, I never will be. He is trying to help me see that His grace is sufficient for me – that in His hands and through His eyes, I am enough.

We were never meant to do this on our own; never meant to walk through this life as solitary beings. Back in the beginning when God created this relationship and walked with man it was enough just to be together in friendship and in love. It was enough.

If you’re struggling to feel like you’re enough – whatever you feel like you’re not enough for – remember along with me that the amazing God of this universe: the One who set the stars on their dancing paths along the skies; the One who colored the sunsets in their magnificence; the One who breathed life into every creature on this planet; the One who brings miracles (small and great) into your life every day – this God loves you and thinks that you’re enough. He holds you in His hand and in His heart; He calls you by name; and you are enough.