Holy Friday


A Day that leaves me WordLess

A Day that leaves me Waiting

Outside the Tomb

empty like a mother standing in the dark anguished


like a child huddled in a corridor listening for storm sirens to stop


Like the bud on a SpringTree


a holy waiting of hope reborn



for a new paternity and brotherhood

finalized in the rolling of a stone

bigger than me

Even though I know Jesus came out of the Tomb

Every year



Because I want to understand the magnitude

of what He did for me

so many years ago

the agonizing


on the


for me

my husband

my children

for all of us


This is a repost, but it expresses so much what I feel during Holy Week, the intensity of the passion that leaves me speechless and in awe that He loved me and you so much.
During Holy Week, my soul has trouble looking God straight in the eye. Because I cannot quite wrap my brain around what all Jesus did for me – the sacrifice to be born in a manger, to grow and live not as a king but a man. I get that. I know the worth of that sacrifice. Yet I do not fully comprehend what He endured that last 24 hours of his life.

Holy Week. Jesus enters Jerusalem as a King and leaves it as sin. He feasts with his friends and is served betrayal. Betrayed by his friend, Judas. Betrayed by his church. Betrayed by his community. Betrayed to suffer in a way that I cannot grasp – because in our culture today, people are not flogged, publicly or privately. Criminals are not publicly hung, either on a cross, a tree or a gibbet, for horrifying crimes.

I cannot grasp the pain – even in childbirth, I am given drugs to hide the pain. I cannot grasp the mental anguish, though I have felt mental anguish.  But not pain, mind numbing pain, heart draining pain that dropped me to my knees because I couldn’t bear the physical burden. Soul-dropping pain that allowed me to drop to my knees in supplication to a loving God, yes! But not the physical torture – nor the burden of every soul born or to be born. What does that weigh? How does that feel?

I cannot imagine the feeling of abandoned-ness that Jesus felt – because He, for a short time, was separated from God because He bore my sin, my parent’s sin, my children’s sin – the history of sin past, present and future. I cannot feel that because Jesus walked that walk, suffered that cross, went into the tomb and rose again – so that I would never feel separated from God.

No! My soul cannot quite look God in the eye at what His son endured for me. And, in my inadequacy to fully comprehend, I recognize my unworthiness.  Because of that crown of thorns, those 3 huge nails, that cross, and the blood spilled, on Good Friday, I try to focus on what Jesus endured, to be reminded that my entrance into the Family of God was bought at a costly price. I do understand the result of that sacrifice and the impact it has on my life.

No, when talking about this great sacrifice, I cannot quite look God in the eye. Instead, I lift my eyes to the cross – and that is where God meets me.
Beauty in His Grip Button

Where I Belong


“For this world is not our home” (Hebrews 13:14)


Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less”(2 Cor 5:3-5).

a little bit of heaven in my heart  -

because He designed me for there, not for here.

a little bit of heaven so strong I’d never settle for less.

where I’ll fit in, where I belong,

where home doesn’t break, peel the walls of my soul,

where the storms don’t slip through the windows and shutters

of my weaknesses

where home really is heaven to the soul

where the floorboards are laid with love, joy, peace, longsuffering,

kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

where the steps to hospitality, warmth and rest are faithful

the kitchen and its cupboards overflow

the hearth is warm

sweet tea and chocolate cake don’t lead to guilt

and everyone is welcome just as they are

where people get what you’re saying

and the sincerity of your love and intentions

are believed and welcomed

where home really is heaven to the soul

Can you hear me whispering, “WOW.”

Beauty in His Grip Button
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I drive my boys nuts telling them stories they’ve heard and heard – and I thought, well, I want to tell this story again. I want somebody to hear it – because it meant so much to me to live it. That’s what friends do! Right? Listen to the same story over and over because they know their friend needed to tell it, needed to be reminded. Wrapping you in a big, heart-felt thank you for listening (reading) it again – if you’ve heard (read) it before.


Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”
(Luke 22:42)

Jesus let go . . . to do His Father’s work

He let go so that the Father, whose arms were open wide, could wrap them around more of His children.

Jesus opened his arms wide on the cross, to suffer a mother’s terrifying, heart-wrenching nightmare, so a world of me’s could find their way into the wide open embrace of His father.

Jesus let go . . . for me

“Love your neighbor as I have loved you,” (John 13:34)

Loving our neighbors somehow seems a little distant. Maybe because neighbors today do not know your mama, your granddaddy, your great-aunt Ruby. There’s no history, no connection. So live it this way; Love people like you love your children: fiercely, uncompromisingly, self-sacrificingly.

I hold my children, encircled in the love of my heart, wrapping that love around them like hugging arms. I need to stretch this heart, to let others inside, wrapping that love around them like God does, like Jesus did, arms wide open, ready, waiting.

Letting go means loving more, like being broken in Him makes us whole.

Are you ready, willing to give that father love or mother love, or even daughter/son love to those outside your home, both those easy and uneasy to love?

5 sons. 1 daughter-in-law. 1 husband. 1 scardy cat. That makes 8 different ways for me to communicate. 8 different schedules. 8 different moods. 8 different needs. 8 different responses.  There are 5 love languages that need mastering and 7 Spiritual Gifts to interpret.

Prayer for 8. Dinner for 6. Clean socks for 5.

I can get absorbed in my family. In my reactions to my family. Into the mysteries of my family. My. My. My. My.

 “If anyone would come after me, they must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24)

Yes, sometimes, I need to let go of my to embrace His . . .His children, His love, His spirit, His word, His Fatherness, His schedule.

Letting Go of my to be His laborer

Today, in the grocery store my cart  filled with Mama Rosa’s cheese pizzas for my littlest guy, I hummed, focused on feeding the my’s in my life. Shrieking noises wafted over the aisles. My cart and I continued on. High-pitched squeals moved closer, not happy squeals – out-of-control squeals. Chicken to make soup for my biggest teen. Futile mother shouts encroached. Salsa for my Joyful one, mechanical pencils for my fire and power son. Running feet closed in, noise moving  passionately invading my reverie. Pelegrino for my thirst.

As I was just reaching for enchilada sauce, a little boy appeared with the shrieking voice. You know the kind of sound – the sound a little 4 year old makes when he thinks he is playing a game of tag and keeps slipping from your touch, evading. At least, I think he was 4.

Racing down the aisle, weaving between customers, he stopped in front of  my cart. Grabbing hold, he stepped to stand on the end, just like my boys did when they were little, wanting to ride. But he was not my boy.

I could just see the headlines, “Boy flips cart, critically injured.” Or maybe, “Woman accused of imminent child-theft” all because he was suddenly wanting to ride my cart.

Treading carefully – because he wasn’t mine to scold, I told him he needed to step off the cart. He did. I kept looking for his mother, expecting her to call him. Nothing. In a quandary, I calmly pushed the cart forward.  He decided to go with me like he was my boy.

“You need to go back to your mom. You shouldn’t be here with me,” I suggested.

“Do you think I’m going to hell?” he asked, making eye contact, stopped still in front of me.

My world stopped. Letting Go of my concerns, I looked at him squarely in the eye. Wanting to say so much, wanting to say it so right, but only having grocery-store aisle time, I finally said, looking back at him straight in the eye, “You can go to heaven if you want to.”

“Can I go home with you?” he asked. If my spirit had arms, which in this case, I think it did, well those spirit arms pulled him into my heart, into the circle of my family. Prayer for 9 now. Still 5 pairs of socks for matching, but prayer for 9.

That little boy, standing in front of my cart, in sudden stillness, revealed his brokenness, revealed a cry to be made whole – at little years old.

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me,
and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19: 13-14)

His mother and grandmother came around the corner then. He took off, lots of noise, lots of energy followed by lots of parental hollering.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24)

Letting go of my thoughts, my reverie, my concerns, my challenges. I prayed. That God would send laborers across this little boy’s path. That his eyes would be opened to the truth – that he is a child of God. That heaven is his for the asking. That angels would encamp about him and protect him. That healthy boundaries would be set for him. No matter how much little boys balk at having healthy boundaries set, they cry out for someone to love them enough to set them.

Letting go of my

To wrap God’s love around His

All because Jesus let go first for me.

Beholding Glory


I raked away winter leaves and shoveled holes for one yellow, one pink-coral peoy and 2 yellow forsethia. I never liked yellow growing up, but a fondness has grown for it in the last 15 years.

I painted my thinking room metropolitan grey. I don’t have file cabinets, so it can’t be an office – and a room needs at least 2 walls of bookcases to be called a library – so I call the room where my grandmother’s dining room table has become a library table and two chairs that pre-date me – with an ottoman – it’s a quiet place to write, to read – and just tothink, to be.

I need  some time to be this week.

Don’t know why, but I just do.

Because sometimes like a fresh, spring shower – life just needs slowly soak into my soul.

I want to soak each drop of these blessings falling like a spring rain.

My second son announced his engagement to a lovely young woman. She’s come into our family with such grace.  I’ve prayed since the boys were born that our sons’ wives would have a heart for our family. She does. We are so blessed.

My heart’s still rummaging through the memories of last week and my post “Miracle Grow for the Soul” - where I mention a challenge. In the on-set of the challenge revealed, I could have just collapsed like deck of cards. For about 10 minutes I wanted to. Then I gave it to God – and He led me through step-by-step through what was one of those WOW mothering moments. I want to let it soak in, those moments, the messages, the love, the grace, the reveal.

My scardy cat, Cleo – is frightened of everything except Sadie, our 1 year-old golden retriever. Sadie is only scared of Cleo. Despite our cat-dog drama, I love cats. They know all the best places to nap – and to just be – and I’m taking a lesson from Cleo.

This week – I’m going to just be – in the daily, with my family, straightening my thinking room – and be with God, just let all this seep in, kind of like what the Tennessee red clay needs after buckets and buckets of rain – time to just absorb. Please stop by Miracle Grow for the Soul – and read where my a part of my heart lingers this week.

“Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest” (Mark 6:31).

treepond2c6 years old, maybe 7, that’s when I wrote my first book. Pictures, words – all by me. All wrapped up in a ribbon, to be sold – 5 cents a piece. A nickle would buy a Zero bar. When my dad picked my brother and I up after church on Sunday—that’s how divorce worked when I was little – he wouldn’t give me a nickel for my writing, so I gave it away, gave it to him.

I’ve had that dream, to write, since I could. First, I dreamed I’d write great novels as I sat under a big tree on a wide green lawn, at a table with tea.

I wrote poetry – stories were hard.

Jane Austen – she wrote big novels. She had a story to tell and no one to pass it on to. No daughters, no sons.

I’m just Maryleigh – with a journalism degree, some news writing on a resume page. I gave my writing to God, as a gift, as a love offering. He put the dream in me, woke it up, but I didn’t know what to write out – so I gave it to him while I birthed, loved, taught to walk, told stories, sang love songs off-key – and wondered if I would ever write. Why would He put this in me only to never call it out.

Jane Austen had no daughters to tell her story, so she wrote.

I have 5 sons – sons who drop and listen to their fathe’sr and grandfathers’ stories, who pull every word into the sweat of their skin into their soul – and it grows with them into men.

My stories? They roll their eyes, listen with exasperation. Girl stories? No way.

God knew a mother of sons only would need to tell her story, to pour into someone the worth within her.

He knew even before I was born. He placed the desire within me . . . so I write.


“God created a ‘Pass-it-Down’ mechanism within each of us, the need for our life, experience and learning to be given away. It is something as necessary to us as water is to life” (My Life is Not my Own).

Jane Austen passed down her stories, her soul’s inheritance, through her stories. Her stories didn’t put much money in the bank or give her independence -but it gave her hearts that heard and carry a measure of her story.

Looking back to that six-year-old me, I think God was telling me something. That something is just a part of me as this crazy-gotta-write-or-I’ll-explode need to write: The dream grows in the giving away of it. The giving away is an open-handed way of loving my neighbor – for free, at no cost. Just.love.your.neighbor.

Sometimes people need love – in the same way a six-year-old-little-girl needed a daddy to invest 5 cents in her dream.  A few posts ago, I wrote about Christ telling all of us, “Feed my lambs. . . Shepherd my Sheep… Feed my Sheep” (Feed My Sheep). Open-handed love has the ability to Feed His lambs. The pouring out of our gifts into others Shepherd’s His Sheep, feeds His sheep.

Love gives away, for free. Pass it down – and thank you for letting me pass it down.


Pull up a chair, settle in have a cup of Key Lime Ginger tea, head over to Lisa-Jo’s and share your own post on the word. . . Writer. . . on this not-yet-raining  Five-Minute Friday. Pass your story down!


Sitting on the side of the tub, leaning over the toilet bowl, I heaved my insides out. Face puffing, stomach rolling, tears pushed out, breathing in gasps, I bent again over the porcelain bowl.

Wham! The bathroom door bounced open, my 5 year old’s feet ran to the linen cabinet, slammed it open. The faucet pushed full throttle splashed big water into the sink.

I heard the sounds as I gasped and retched, unable to see the emergency.

A soppy wet clothe slapped across my forehead. Shocked, my retching stopped. Water dripped down my face, into the toilet bowl. My mind cried out, “What in the world?” – and I raised my eyes, into the concerned, big-brown eyes of my first-born.

Motherhood surprised me that such a little boy could have such a big heart.

I guess, the wash clothes I had pressed to his forehead, those times he’d retched into the toilet-The cool cloth to his forehead meant something to him. It makes me think of “give and it will come back to you, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6:38).

The only difference? I’d wrung my washcloth out. I wouldn’t have traded that sloppy-wet washcloth he threw on my forehead for anything. It was one of the biggest most eloquent I-love-you’s ever!

My grandmother had taught me the same way I had taught my son. I remember in high school, retching my guts. She slipped into the bathroom, taken a washcloth, soaked it in cold water, wrung it out, and stood, her back to me, arm reached around, holding it to my forehead.

Motherhood stands strong, nurturing, caring not giving up – even when things get ugly – all-5-senses ugly.

Motherhood surprised me – with 5 boys. It took me 4 other sons to realize that not all of them were going to be like the first one – and by then we were committed and so in love with this crew – that we learned new love languages, strove to understand different gifts – and how they communicate and work together.

The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Little Colonel – Yep! They’re gathering dust. The bag of vintage dress-up clothes? Stuffed in the back of a closet. Girl talk? BBBaaaaahhhhhhhaaaaaaaa! It’s a foreign language in this house. It was like I’d studied for the role of Marmie and got the lead in Boy’s Town.

I’d been so scared I wouldn’t do it right – and to them, I really couldn’t do anything wrong. If I missed it, nap-time would come erasing any real memory.

Motherhood surprised me with demand performances of good-night sings, stories and soothings. These five people, albeit awfully little people, believed I could solve anything, do anything. I didn’t realize motherhood could be like this.

The middle of the night ups and downs, the harum-scarum schedule of 5 boys – I found grace in it, let God in it – and discovered much about me I didn’t know existed. I realize now that God places things in us that when triggered, like a time-release mechanism, start growing and showing themselves. I blossomed.

Motherhood is miracle grow to the soul.

I was humming along in this motherhood role – until one day, the hormones started building, popping out in attitude, followed by armpit hair. Each boy started seeing life differently than before. The demand performances become demands to stop: “Your voice really isn’t great – and, well, you don’t need to sing any more – ‘cause it kind of hurts the ears.” They’d say it so sweet, patting my arm.

It wasn’t as sweet in other areas. I’d miss it – and they’d wake up from a sleep remembering it. I learned a lot about forgiveness – because these boys from 13-19+ can be very unforgiving. When you need something like forgiveness – it becomes something you want to be given ATT (all the time) – not at first in an altruistic way – but in an a hope-filled-extend-it-to-me way. 13-19 can be a very long time.

I learned about unconditional love, along with unconditional forgiveness, too. While the invisible ink is made visible by heat, another chemical or ultraviolet light, unconditional love is made visible by uncomfortable situations resulting in pain, disappointment, anger from another’s behavior. So how do you know when you love unconditionally? When you are uncomfortable, don’t really want to, aren’t feeling it, but choose to love anyway – that’s unconditional love.

Motherhood surprised me, turning so much of my thinkology upside down. Other surprises?

  • Visits to the Imax, museums, zoos, the theatre for plays and musicals – don’t always open your children’s eyes to what they want to be when they grow up, that not all children can find their niche in too wide a selection.
  • I grew up in a broken home, but a home with great support: my mom, grandmother, grandfather. My children grew up in my dream family. Motherhood surprised me, opened my eyes to a slightly different set of challenges both households face.
  • Love won’t stop rebellion.
  • Boys feet sometimes really stink
  • Effort doesn’t always produce intended results or reveal the heart.
  • Squats are an ideal disciplinarian tool – and builds strong legs.
  • A heart can love as many people as it chooses
  • Experience develops real understanding, chips away at judgementalism, grows compassion and the ability to reach.
  • Socks get lost
  • I cannot always prevent/head-off challenges.
  • When brothers grow older, they can give 7 second hugs and still be manly
  • Some boys have to learn by walking through the challenges – and I can do nothing while prayer can
  • All 10 year olds go through the blues
  • Not everyone loves or responds or makes decisions the way I do – but I can meet them where they are and love them right there.

It’s spring here at the blue cotton house. I sat outside with my 4th boy-to-man – and talked about real repentance, listening to the still, quiet voice of God for a decision he needed  to make. He faced a challenge – and is soul grew taller from it.

“We all need to find the path to the mercy-seat,” I told him. “If I were a perfect mom, I wouldn’t know how to take you there. We all miss it, need forgiveness. We all need to know the way to the mercy-seat. We all miss it.”

I’m not sure I would have learned that lesson without being a mom to these 5 boys to men.

I don’t think Motherhood will ever stop surprising me. There are days I wish it would – on one of those days where I do everything right. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that with every surprise is the opportunity to love more deeply, more completely.surprisedbymotherhood-book-banner-zoe2There’s something delightful going on, not just in the blogging world, but in the book world today. I’m not a pom-pom-kind-of-cheerleader, but I really, really believe I’d be a good labor-and-delivery cheer-leader – and that’s what I get to do today as part of Lisa-Joe Baker’s Launch Team  – oohhhh and ahhhh over the birthday of her book baby, Surprised by Motherhood.

It’s not a warm-fuzzy, feel-good, stereo-typical accounting of motherhood. Surprised by Mother is something more. She has pulled the rich threads of her family and woven a history of awakening, understanding, forgiving, self-growing and becoming – sharing a story that encourages other moms to study their history, to understand, forgive, grow and become. Maybe the greatest surprise of Motherhood is not the wear and tear of our bodies, the endurance – even the stories we hold dear in our hearts – but how we grow to love those around us and ourselves so much better.

Lisa-Jo tells a story like you’re sitting on the porch, drinking some Kiwi-Lime Ginger Tea and chess squares, watching the kids and heart-stories and encouragement spill out. She doesn’t hang out dirty laundry. She vintages a careful inheritance, pulling things out to reveal something incredibly beautiful. In the telling, she encourages you to do the same with your story – to vintage a careful inheritance, to pull it out, to find the beautiful, the strong, the courageous in it.  Her voice cheers, laughs robustly, encourages, lifts up – is real in the hard places.  You don’t want the visit to end but at the same time you cannot wait for your journey for your story to begin.

To read the first 3 chapters, click here. To order Lisa-Jo’s book, click here. You are also welcome to add your own story: “Surprised by Motherhood” here, too. You can read my “Surprised by Motherhood” story below.




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