{Site currently under construction. Grace for my mess?}

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writer's Workshop at (in)Courage tonight!

Friends -- I am so very excited to share a wonderful resource with those of you, like me, that love to write and those of you, like me, that can find the writing/publishing/blogging world to be a bit frightening at times.

Myself and the very talented Mary DeMuth will be hosting a mini writing workshop Q&A session tonight on BlogFrog, at the (in)courage community, at 9 pm EST.  Visit (in)courage today for a preview and more info!

Grab a cuppa somethin', throw on your jammies, and settle down for some great info and fellowship with an awesome community.  Join us, will you?

Monday, June 27, 2011


I am overwhelmed by the fragility of life, tonight.

A high school friend with a promising future suffered an aneurysm and died in surgery, barely 30 years old.
A selfless and loving woman that poured years of love on the boys I’m now raising learned she has lung cancer.
A friend’s brother taken in a freak accident, way too soon… and then another, and another.

And I don’t know how to process it all right now, when I feel like I’m barely hanging on to the need for authenticity, in this life.  When I’m scrambling to pull out more substance from each of these shallow breaths and the weight just makes it all so hollow and I wonder what life is too short for.  And how do I eliminate everything but marrow…strip down to only that which is worth our fleeting time in this painful world?

What’s worth it?



And what about laughter?  And tousle-headed bear hugs and conscious gratitude and two popsicles instead of one, just for today.

Silence, too, while I consider what gives under an awareness like this.

Which of these precious hours are wasted, even on things that seem worthy?  What is essential and what to do with all the rest?  

“Seize life!  Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!

Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.

Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift.  It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it.  And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.” 
 - Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (MSG)

Thankful, with Ann, even in this and in all things…

- Pain, for what it causes us to refine within us.
- Life, even when our days are certainly numbered on this hard earth.
- Rest.  And unrest.  In equal measure, today.
- No energy for sweating the small stuff, lately.
This food for thought.
- The Scriptures, an unfailing strength and encouragement always at my fingertips.
- Wonder and possibility.
- God’s way of using tragedy to strip us of our superfluous-ness.
- Sweet, reflective time with my husband this week.
- A movie date with the kids, today.
- Having a close friend here, that really knows and “gets” me.
- New eyes to see the sin of self-righteousness in my own heart, and new hands to work the scalpel to remove it…slowly, prayerfully, and by His grace, permanently.
- Having an old-fashioned sleepover with my daughter last night, complete with painted fingernails and ice cream sundaes.  So very grateful that she enjoys my company.
- A word of reassurance regarding a complicated matter.
- A slower pace, even if just briefly.
- Iced tea with sugar, in plentiful supply this sweltering summer.  
- Big C, with a little summer job, and his eagerness to participate. 
- Kids, all full of smiles. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When it's Time to Get Quiet


Look – I haven’t fallen off the planet.  Who knew?

I do so apologize for my absence of late – I have missed you, tremendously.  Life has been happening (doesn't it always?!) and though it’s not at all terribly interesting, it has been a whirlwind.

Two new boys came to live, one age five, one age six.  And we’ve had temporary little ones even younger here and there, and life is way too hectic for my own sanity.  I’m trying my best to tread water, anyway…to find the grace that is the only antidote to chaos.

I did get the opportunity to slip out for a few days and attend a conference for residential care workers (which is what I do, if you weren’t aware), listening to speakers and experts talk to us about things like what role trauma plays in direct care and how technology is hard-wiring kids’ brain’s differently these days than ever before.  All very good information, but I’m afraid I didn’t return much more rested than I left -- just with a more pressing need for guidance.

Which is why I’m particularly grateful for the 9 (yes, I said n-i-n-e) glorious days off that began today.  Not many big plans, but lots of family time on the agenda and big blank calendar squares, which is something I’m not well acquainted with these days.

So I’ll be around, while I poke around the issue of life/self/ministry evaluation in the days to come and wrestle with some tough stuff that’s been weighing heavy in all kinds of ways.  I aim to get alone, a tricky prospect but a necessary one, I believe.  Jesus had to get alone, to pray, to rest, to consider what was before Him, after all… and I, in all my weakness, certainly need to do the same.  I’ve been prone to desperate prayers for deliverance lately and its time to get quiet and listen, now. 

What do you need to get quiet about, today?  What is weighing you down?  I pray for open doors, for you and for me, and closed ones too, where they’re needed.  For silence and rest, for grace that trumps chaos, and for gratitude in the Truth that transcends everything smaller than (and it’s all smaller than).  Be blessed today.   

Monday, June 6, 2011

On insomnia, starfish, and the blessed gift of silence.

The days are moving at much too fast a pace for my liking, lately.  Frantic.  Busy.  Ever wild with pent-up energy and the cacophony of a children’s home in summertime.  The calendar pages splash with colored, highlighted marks and circles, scribbles and stars and arrows, methods to create visual alarm at the many must.not.forget tasks and events that keep us bouncing in and out and in and out the door again and again until the eyes get so heavy and the space in my head just registers nothing but overload, seeming to blink, on and off like a digital clock that hasn’t been set, in that warning red shade – malfunction, malfunction, malfunction.

With Husband away this week and tired as I’ve ever been in all my life, I lay last night, sprawled across the bed starfish-style, resting bones but hard-willing my eyes to close, my soul to rest, and there was little.  No sleep for the weary.  And the hours ticked by but the thoughts just piled on and the mental lists grew long, and my weary soul just chided – let me stay awake in this quiet and breathe it in, let me soak it long and deep because tomorrow will be madness again and let me just not miss this sound of silence, tonight.

And so, I listened and I read and I listened more.  And no earth-shattering truth rained down, and no audible God-words split the ceiling, no epiphanies were had, but for the quiet beauty of necessary solitude when my spirit was so very saturated with the weariness of all this busy.

Tonight, I’m doubly tired after the restless night and a too-full day and the inexplicable exhaustion that comes from the combination of scorching sunshine and pool water.  And while I fear another bout of insomniatic clock-watching, I welcome the remaining evening hours to pass in anticipation of that blissful moment when I can climb in bed and melt into mattress and eat up the dark for all the blankness it can give. 

Sometimes, when God says nothing but silence, it’s the most beautiful of all gifts.

The count continues, numberless again until I catch up in hard copy, but counting nonetheless with Ann… the gifts.

-          The endurance I’ve needed to get to the end of these days without crumpling in defeat.
-          Husband getting to go on a last-minute trip that means the world to him. 
-          Being asked to be a small part of a big publishing project.
-          Another writing opportunity that challenges my self-doubt in wonderful {scary} ways.
-          A few days ahead with several quiet hours set aside in each.
-          A bedroom redecorating project – investing precious time into a place of serenity for Husband and myself, and looking very much forward to this.
-          A new baby and an overjoyed grandma.
-          A peace that is wriggling into and covering delicately my anxieties about the future, a looser self-grip on what’s to come.
-          Soul-bearing talk with Big C about a girl, the state of his adolescent heart, and love in general… and that he didn’t think me too old or un-cool to ask for advice.
-          Shade and the trees that provide it.
-          A hundred various forms of freedom that I encounter mostly without noticing.
-          Gratitude, expressed genuinely.
-          Respite.
-          J cooking dinner for the whole household last night, and the boys that look out for Mom while Pop’s away.
-          Emptiness and blankness and understanding for the first time why they’re sometimes necessary.
-          Silence, blessed silence. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Five Minute Friday -- Every Day.

Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama asks us to join her for five minutes to Just. Write. without worrying about whether it is just. right.  Imperfections and all... wandering plotless and brain-dumping with a prompt... here ya go... my Five Minute Friday...

Every Day...


Every day, lately, I ask and I wonder and I secretly wish to be released, from this or from that and I push on because service is what God requires of us, and I carry on, burdened, and wish it wasn’t always so.

And every day I feel the guilt because every day its more than I want to carry and I think of the cross and how much harder that was to carry so why do I fuss and falter like I have anything at all to heave and groan about?

Every day I think “this too shall pass” while I tell myself over and over and over and over “Stay.  Stay.  Stay.  Stay where He put you.  Stay where He wants you.  This is your ministry.  This is your job that only you can do.”

And every day I listen to the silence while God watches me act so surely in my confidence of what it is that He wants without giving heed to really asking.  And every day it’s a subject I avoid, my heart dances around it and I shuffle feet around stiff-legged because I’m determined to do strongly His work.

Every day I forget.  Forget that He’s already told me what He wants me to do, and I can busy myself with other worthy causes and He’ll shrug and nod quietly while I look and look and look and look for the reassurance that I’m doing it well until I exhaust and pile at His feet and He says it, with eyes and with sighs… “Are you ready, now, to get back to the business at hand?  Are you ready to do what you’ve been told?  To walk the path I’ve given you, or will your restlessness keep you busy for another day, faltering around trying to exhaust yourself with all the wrong work?”

Like a tiny girl, I hang my head because I know I make up these ways, and I tell myself those stories about why and how and just what good looks like anyway… like I tell myself stories about beginning again and what the grass looks like on the other side, and instead, I just write.  And write.  And write some more, because that is the business at hand.  And that is the work for the restless heart.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Leaking Out Fingertips

I want more time.  I want more space. 

And I know it makes me selfish because I’m praying to love to live with whatever I’m given, to not clutter up my life with so much I have to do, to clean, to store, to worry over.  But creation is where I connect with Creator.  And I want space to create.  Rooms to create.  Classes to teach me to create.  Time and materials and money and endless inspiration to create, so I can soak up this feeling of bliss and everything beautiful that transcends the whole wide world when I create.  With paper, with words and color and razor blades at home and with watered down glue, with smudgy ink and maybe chalk, fabric and stitching and vinyl and metal and brush and things that shouldn’t go together.  On canvases of canvas but also of furniture and paper, computer screen and living room walls and closets turned studios.  I want this creativity to splash all over and keep coming, faster and faster and beauty leaking out fingertips like blood pouring from wounds… and with the same urgency.  Life or death.  Create, or die.

I want more time.  I want more space.

I want not to fuss with meals and cleaning toilets and washing towels when there are blank canvases piled beneath my rough-shod work table.  When cans of paint are aging in the linen closet and the brown all around squawks awkwardly out of place to be covered and restored before the paint all dries up, before more years have passed.  When I gush beauty at dilapidated pallet wood and what it could become and crave the tactical splendor of rusted iron and antique fans and smeared ink like some people crave cigarettes or chocolate ice cream.  When I want to drink in light and let it move me like music, to wear dirty hair another day so as not to let the muse escape, and not, as the rest of them do, just try and live regular. 

There are days I resent the sleeping hours, my own eyelids too heavy to fight them, though they’d give me more time, more quiet time and space while others sleep.  Other, humans, who don’t need color and word-play and the drastic change of something like they need to breathe air, like I… this alien being who doesn’t do regular.  And I wonder what they (The Regulars) say about me, the scattered girl with no rhythm of my own, whose anti-routine looks like a splatter-paint schedule, an abstractly-painted life with no rhyme or reason but just a little of this and that and a restless need to transcend merely living by creating, who tries to squeeze every frail drop of substance out of the seconds that tick by, examining the light as it dances in olive-shaded toddler eyes while dutifully wiping his snot-nose… finding that kind of something in all the sticky, dusty nothingness of living.  Finding very God in the faded color of an old-fashioned suitcase. 

I am all wrong and all wind-blown.  And I know I must be sideways when ruffles on pillowcases and the texture of burlap speak tranquility of heart and home, when, inexplicably, raspy-voiced singers with foul-mouths can sing Christian love straight into me.  And every time I try to do normal, I end up distracted by a tender smudge of beauty I almost missed. 

I run water in the washing machine, then run fingers over neglected threading and dusty stitching machines, dreaming of what might have been, and all the while the water runs and the machine begins to lurch, empty by my distraction, my all-wonky priority of beauty-seeking winning over the supposed-to-care notion of grass stains and garment labels.

And can this desperate need be good for anything, or only troublesome?  Can I live well in a world of regular if I can’t seem to manage the gray drudgery of the way the hours are so predictable, so… daily?  First morning, then evening, again and again?  But even as they’re sure to come, more and more and more, hours upon hours and days upon days…

I want more time.  I want more space.  

Near Miss

There are tiny baby rabbits in my front yard today and I’m afraid I forget to realize what a miracle that is.  Rabbits, yes.  But grass too, and clouds and sky and time and color and raindrops too.  And smiles.  Smiles are definitely miracles, wouldn’t you say? 

 I know I spend so much life waiting for something to become ideal, for a good day or the bottom of the laundry pile, for bedtime or nap time or bath time or dinner time, to pass the hours, and I don’t always know how to be present in this life, moment by moment.  But these rabbits remind me… that it starts with awareness.  Awareness of miracles, big and small.  And I wonder how many I miss, moment by moment, when I’m all too focused on what the clock says and what the calendar says and what the pessimistic lady down the street says about this or that, and while I’m all numbers and frustrations, those miracles they fly right by and I barely give them a scowl while barking about bedtimes or who left their socks on the floor or reminding them, again, how crazy it makes me to have to tell them over and over and over.

But doesn’t He?  Tell me over and over?  Tell me of His love over and over in word and Spirit and whisper by whisper in small, transparent miracle after miracle?   

I’ve been practicing gratitude.  I know many of us have, lately.  And in that practice is first the practice of awareness, of vision, of clarity.  If I numb out to the daily moments, if I gloss over and tally them up on a to-do list, instead of a thank-you list, they become the daunting chore of living.  If I accept them, roll them around in my head and hands a bit and chew on the depth and breadth of this. tiny. second in time… then I am made aware.  And I can be grateful.  And I can receive the miracle.

So I aim to catch those moment-by-moment love letters from my Great Father, catch them and devour them each, one by one, lest they fly past me and end in ashes at my feet, unnoticed.  Join me?  What small miracle have you nearly missed, today?