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friedeggplant
When your words showed up, I ate them—
swallowed them whole. What a feast!
What delight I took in being yours,
O God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! (Jeremiah 15:16)

Through the last months, sweet, encouraging, God-sent friends sent me words, to eat, to swallow whole – to not just sustain me, but to build my courage, to cheer me on, to lift me up when I stumbled, to give me strength. I have feasted on them – every where in the daily: savored, gulped, swallowed whole, in pieces, snacked, breakfasted, lunched:

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

I worked at being still – really, really still – inside and out – from my brain, to my heart, to my soul – to my fingers and toes. I still am.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” ( Exodus 14:14)

It’s been a hard lesson, this being still: hands off, thoughts off – opening my soul eyes to Shaddai fighting for me. Trusting, believing that He was fighting my battles – and believing meant being still and letting Him take to the battle field while He set me in the shade.

You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you (Isaiah 41:10, The Message)

Sometimes in the midst of the challenge – whether it’s a parenting challenge, a friendship or relationship challenge, a life challenge, or a challenge that strikes at the core of who you are – sometimes in the midst of the challenge, no matter how many people love and encourage, isolation and loneliness become like hungry foxes in the door of the hen-house – when the hens can feel the breath of those hungry foxes. The hens don’t understand the man standing at the door, gun in hand will protect them.With no ability to reason, they lose themselves in their fear. God, though, gave us, you and me, the ability to reason – to see Him stepping in the way of the challenge.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

He gave us the ability for faith and hope – so that at our lowest, His rejoicing over each of us with gladness – real, intentional, personal, heart-to-heart gladness. Our friends and family can’t mean it like He does – can they! That He would sing to me, like I would sing to my boys, to quiet me as I quieted them in a tough moment – to quiet me, to help me be still in the confidence of who I am to Him – to quiet me, soothe me to stillness. I have need to learn to let Him still me with His love.

“You’re the God who sees me!” (Genesis 16:13a)

He sees me – He knows the truth – even when the world doesn’t – even when our children don’t see us, sometimes even our friends and family, or the people in the daily – because, you know, sometimes the world cannot see beyond their own “relative truth,” prejudices and pre-conceived notions to see who you really are. After all, my boys cannot see me beyond, “Mom,” and sometimes a mom cannot see her children beyond who they were in the nest – but God sees the truth of me, the all of me, even the parts I cannot see of myself.

“Courage, dear heart” (C.S. Lewis), a friend messaged. Everyone needs a friend who messages C.S. Lewis quotes. I just wanted to say, thank you, friends – you know who you are. Sometimes we need friends who send chicken dishes and eggplant parmesan or chicken soup and Mac-N-Cheese – but more often than not, we all need friends who send a feast of God’s word.

Tonight, I was walking my golden retriever, Sadie. We walked for a mile. There were stars, cirrus clouds in the black sky – a shadow in some shrubs provoking a growl from the usually quiet Sadie, a frog hopping. I was looking up, singing a quiet, “Holy, Holy – you are Lord God almighty. Worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is the Lamb. You are Holy.” Maybe it was really more a whispering-kind of singing – but I felt a breeze blow about ,cooling me, comforting – and I felt a burden lifted. I’m not sure what burden it was – but this God of Angel Armies He doesn’t want me carrying that burden – and He doesn’t want you carrying burdens like that either.

In the south, hospitality says when someone brings you a dish, you need to send it back filled up. Eat up, friends! Eat up and be filled!

eggplantp
The Sunday Community with Lisha


Make A Difference Monday

Chronicles of Grace: Unforced Rhythmes
”What PhotobucketBeauty in His Grip Button  photo 65f0f5f9-b796-4cfb-977e-fe63b69f9e6d.jpgkatherines cornercountingmyblessingsJoy Dare BlogTell Me a Story

eggplantZucchinni bread with pineapple and pina colada mixture, eggplant parmesan, lemon curd, tomato sauce – when I need think over big and little things, sometimes I get quiet – and I write. Sometimes I get quiet – and I cook.

curd

Right now I’m in the middle of a big quiet and I’m cooking my way through it. For some reason, when I cook, in “get in the zone” and the little foxes just fall away, my mind unclutters itself. In the falling away and the uncluttering, I can hear Him – and I can see me how He sees me.

Maybe, right now, it’s the white noise sifting out the dross from the gold, the chaff from the wheat in my life. Maybe it’s the persecution of Christian’s in tragic ways – and the cries of their faith for God to save them – and my spirit hearing their cry – and, because of my faith, my obligation to my Lord to join in in prayer – or whatever else He calls me to do.

eggplantp

Right now, I’m cooking my way through something – I’m not sure what it is. I just wanted you to know – I’m not gone. I haven’t closed shop. I have an arm’s length of things I want to write about – but right now – I’m cooking my way through it – because right now I hear Him better cutting some dill, thyme and rosemary, blanching my better boy and German pink tomatoes, salting my eggplant to sit for 20 minutes to lose some bitterness, letting the food processor grate my zuchinni, cracking eggs, boiling eggs.

Some of the recipes are changing – and they needed that. Some recipes, like the lemon curd, stayed the same. Maybe that’s what this is all about: coming change – for the better – and things worth keeping.

I don’t know who’s going to eat all this – but God’s not surprised. He knows what I need to work through, why and how.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” (Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)

Shifting Gears

redtruckrightcc

First Gear

In his daddy’s red and white truck, this boy and I

studied earth science and college notes

Leaning against each other, my feet dangling out the window

In the Kentucky Sunshine.

Driving down small town roads

At a red stop light

He says, “I think I’m beginning to love you. What do you think?”

Looking straight ahead, down the 4 lane road, I answer,

“I wasn’t going to think about it until you said something.”

The red light changed yellow to green

and we moved on down the road

Shift, Second Gear

A few years later, our red-Ford truck climbs up

snow covered graveled driveway

Our little guy between us, enjoying

the adventure, no fear with

back wheels slipping and sliding

But he gets us home

A home tucked next to his grandfather’s farm

A red Ford truck soon to be traded in for a mini-van

big enough to hold a basketball team

worth of boys

trading outside stuff

For important inside stuff

Shift 3rd Gear

Our driveway moved

To another state, this boy-filled mini-van full

brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes all

Eager for nanny hugs and papaw rides

In the red and white truck for

Candy and Coke Store moments,

For walking on the farm through

Rutted tracks made by tractors and trucks

To the daffodil fields, grave stones

tobacco and hay fields, over creek beds

looking for tree nuts, walking sticks

or just sitting and waiting in Papaw’s

red and white truck

redtruckbar_edited-1Shift, Fourth Gear

Teen boys wants to drive

To make life his own and daddy buys

a $500 project where hands that held mine

remove emblems, chrome and trim

motor sanding, hand sanding

sand rust harsh then fine

bondo-fill gaps,

sand more, preparing for

Viper Red

new hands at spray gun control

daddy’s voice coaching

encouraging

even results

and they dig deeper

beneath the exterior to the heart

inspecting hoses, belts transmissions and motors

bleeding lines, filling tanks

with just the right stuff

A Viper Red Project

“It will mean more to him this way”

says his daddy. “He’ll take better care”

Readying him for the long ride

down the road

Fourth Gear

Maybe one day our mini-van will empty out

each boy driving into life

with something that means more

and he’ll take better care

and while they shift their gears

from first, second to third

just maybe me and that boy

that took me out in his daddy’s red and white truck

will find time to go down a lonely dirt road

lean against each other with my toes out the window

no more studying, no more sanding

just knowing we love this long drive together

This boy to man, this son, he graduates in a month of Sundays – and his truck will finally be finished next week. When he was a Freshman, he and another boy riding with me in my mini-van talked trucks. The other boy talked about his powerful Chevy truck with detailed auto language. He snorted derisively on my son’s Ford, sitting the driveway, waiting to be sanded, waiting for Viper Red to give it new life. My son looked at him saying, “My Ford truck is so powerful, Zeus called to see if I could drive over and haul the sun few hundred miles north.” I just gotta love a boy that thinks like that!

truckinterior_edited-1

Still Mr. Right

This is a repost from August 2009. As I’ve said before, some things are worth saying again – and since I find myself so incredibily blessed to celebrate 28 years of marriage to an amazing man who only grows more amazing each year, well, I just wanted to say it again!
mlkeith2Twenty-eight years of marriage! Set off the fireworks: some sparklers, Roman candles, poppers and snaps, ground spinners!

According to statistics on children of divorce, I should be a mess: addicted to drugs, a college drop-out, and divorced, too. My brother and I should be shorter than our projected heights, also, according to another source(I will update my sources once I unpack them from our move).

Sadly, statistics don’t include the God-Factor! It’s such a shame that God is barred from schools. Someone who grew up in the same denomination I did once claimed he grew up in a “dead church.” His parents weren’t divorced. As a result, he wasn’t compelled to call out to God for help. Maybe when you don’t need God, you don’t realize how alive He is.

However, my parents were divorced. At school, we had Bible class daily, attended a weekly service, and were allowed to pray in the sanctuary during recess. When you are little, confused, and hurting, God is a big protector. I cried out. He answered. God never fails.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”(Jeremiah 29:11)

How many children and teens are confused, hurting, and stressed–they don’t know God, they don’t know He protects, that He offers a way out of their dysfunction? When God stands with you, you don’t become a statistic!

mlkeithI’ve mentioned in a “What Do I Think about Her” about praying for God to show me the man I was to marry. When God provides, He provides the best!

“Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”(Matt 9:29)

My husband is definitely the Elkanah to the Hannah I so want to be. I just want to share with you the top-ten reasons why I so adore my husband as much or more than I did 26 years ago:

1)He loves me unconditionally!

2)Five children later, quite a few pounds later, he still thinks I’m beautiful!

3)He encourages my dreams!

4)He’s so dog-gone wise. I wish I could carry him around in my pocket and pull him out when I need a really wise response!

5)He is strong!

6)He is an awesome father to his sons!

7)He is calm in the face of adversity

8)He is impressed with my dog-with-a-bone attitude about problem solving whether it is with my boys or trying to get Wal-Mart and Kroger to cover Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. I don’t think my boys should read verbal porn in the check-out aisle.

9)He is a Faith man who loves God

10)He has such a boyish sense of humor that brings such joy to my day!

11)I still love his ankles!–Yes, I said that! I think love includes all that is noble in a person but include eclectic elements that add appeal to the entire package.

I love that he loves his mama and respects his dad. I love that one of his favorite books is one I gave him years ago, The Oxford English Edition of Classic Ghost Stories. I am amazed that he still loves me when we argue!

IMG_6850I love that my happiness doesn’t depend on him. It is not his job to fetch and carry buckets of happiness to me, filling me like an insatiable flower pot, demanding servitude. You wouldn’t expect your girl BFF to do that. I’d be pretty miserable if I relied on someone else to keep me happy. My happiness depends on God. That sure takes a lot of pressure off our relationship and creates healthy expectations in our relationship.

I love that I will grow old with him.

When God answers prayers, He blesses abundantly! I am looking forward to another 59+ years with My Knight in Shining Armor!

feet2

(Still remembering and celebrating 31 years of marriage)

There’s nothing worse than being young…. and being the last picked.

When you have buck-teeth, wear high-top shoes because you have flat feet- before high top shoes are cool and your dad doesn’t live with you because he got tired of it – you feel like you come in last –every time.

When you can’t find the phonics lesson on the worksheet in second grade and math doesn’t make sense – you feel like you come in last – every time.

When your thesis director in graduate school dumps you because he feels you have no creative ability and you make careless mistakes – you feel like you come in last – every time.

When your kid, who you’ve poured all within you, prayers, squats for discipline, encouragement – everything you always thought a good, loving parent was supposed to do says, “You’ve set me up to be a failure. Deuces” – you feel like you just came in last.

When you gain some weight and can’t fit into your favorite clothes, I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve come in last.

When the publisher says, “We love it. Send us all you have” for your children’s book – and they get bought by a bigger publisher (Random House) who says, “We don’t know how to draw wind” – I went from first place to rock bottom last.

This morning, my 15 year old drove down the mountain. A fresh driver, careening a bit to the right edges – and my struggle with auto-terror won over my desire to be supportive-encouraging mom – and I gasped, “Jesus Help Us.” As my son careened and steadied, I both encouraged and flipped-out – and I felt like I’d come in last.

There’s a lot of last-place moments in my life. Situations that seem to whisper, even shout, “Failure. Loser.” They don’t define me though – those last place moments.

They are just moments that set up God’s greatness.

shoes222Jesus told us, “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matt 20:16)

We see that with Rahab, Naomi, David, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus – so many people in last place, due to their own choices – though maybe those  seemingly bad choices were all that was  available, still they were brought to blessing by God.

Sometimes you can’t get first-place positioning without having last place experience.

Braces got rid of my buck teeth, my feet slipped into a little blue cotton sandal, and in the midst of it all, I found a Father who championed me against the mockers- and I bask in God’s favor.

I couldn’t find the phonics lesson, but I read and read and read (my defense mechanism against people on school buses making fun of the little buck-tooth girl in high-top shoes) – and it wasn’t too long in second grade I was moved to the advanced reading class – and I basked in God’s favor, the little girl who’d found Him in a closet and talked to Him in her back yard.

The Dean of the Graduate school called the English Department, telling them, “Best creative thesis I’ve read,” followed by Honorable Mention in the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor society’s creative publication the same semester. Charles Dickens responded to a man’s request to view his manuscript to determine if he had creative ability. Dickens replied, “For all I know, the land is yours by right” – More than the land being mine by right – I basked in God’s favor.

The book publisher, the irate son of my prayers, the closet full of too-tight clothes – and the inability to always control my terror  – He knows the desires of my heart, the love in my heart. He knows my weaknesses, my failures, my miss-its – He knows my heart’s intent, its integrity – and, though the humanity of myself fails – Jesus intercedes in my behalf – and I bask in God’s favor.

33 years ago, in a field outside the mule-barn at a college social, two young men picked football teams. Two girls remained to be picked – the last picks for each team. I was one of those two – and the red-headed young man picked me – last. Then picked me for a life-time. I bask in God’s favor.

It is an opposite day paradigm – the business of being last.

stoplight3(It’s my anniversary – and this is a repeat – but, well . . . it’s my anniversary)

About 32 years ago, in a red and white truck at a stop light by the university, as the semester was ending – and we’d spent the afternoon studying for exams down a dirt road, actually studying – but at that stop-light, you looked so worried, so quiet – and when I asked, you said you didn’t know whether you just liked me a whole lot or were beginning to love me

I had heart, you’d said – that’s what separated me from the other girls – my heart.

A red stop-light in the middle of town on a Sunday afternoon – and you asked if I’d thought about whether I felt the same way –

I told him I hadn’t been going to think about it until he said something – and since he’d said something, I’d think about it – whether I liked him a lot or whether I was starting to love him, too.

We were on our way to a lifetime of together. He’s promised me to at least 100 – we’re half-way there.

A lifetime of things we never imagined,

5 boys, sock fights, 3-Stooge night, building a family and loving them to the moon and back. The sweet stuff – we imagined that. I don’t think we imagined the teen challenges, the homework not turned in, the faith come alive in the determination to not lose a one – and that unconditional love has lots of grit and crazy-glue, not-letting go attitude.

That fresh-faced college girl in the front seat of that truck hadn’t a clue about the depth and breadth of the challenges we would face – but my heart had it right – and he was sitting right there beside me looking solemn at the prospect of a life time of love – because his heart innately understood commitment. God knew I needed someone with heart for a forever-kind-of love.

And all I can think of right now is that through all this together – I am the lucky one.

Because when I struggle with the challenges – whether it’s raising these boys-to-men, or injustice – or when my blood pressure gets a little out of whack and I can’t really talk or handle the challenges – and I can’t seem to find myself – he reminds me of who I am, he sees the beautiful in me – he helps me shove all the garbage that either life or me has dumped on me – and the heart in me finds itself – and gives it to him.

I love living this kind of together – and, it’s almost if you give a Mouse a Cookie – but if you’re heart is really feeling that love – then a little Elizabeth Barrett Browning needs to be pulled out – and, well, maybe a little heart music, too! No day is too ordinary for big-hearted love!

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

birthday10“Old people are respectable in spite of themselves” (1934 movie, Patsy Patterson, Lady by Choice). I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me smile the day after my birthday.

I celebrated with what I call “Big Dinner.” When I tell the boys we’re having “Big Dinner” – it’s not a cook-out, or kitchen island eating. It’s dinner at the big table, decked out, me cooking (who else cooks when you have 5 sons – just mom)- and it is a sit-long-talk-much, eat slow, linger kind-of-dinner.

Around the big table, the conversation between these boys-to-men happens in its own time, punctuated by humor and laughter, politics and faith. Saturday was like that.

Go out? Not a chance! Where else can my granddaughter pour me a cuppa tea from a Mrs. Potts’ tea set, let me sit with her while she tucks in for a nap ten times the only doll I’ve ever had a chance to buy in 28 years, let my mom visiting from states away work her brand of magic on my floral arrangement and set the table, and enjoy talking to my daughter-in-law-to-be while she helped me with the dishes.

While setting the dishes out, I saw my 6 ft 4 son, sit at the little table and let his 2 1/2 year old niece pour him tea.

I didn’t want restaurant-rushing. I wanted intentional savoring of those God’s given me. Maybe when we seek God in the every-moment – maybe that’s how we somehow become respectable – in spite of ourselves.

I know that faith and hope cannot be based on feelings – or 5 sensory detail – but I believe that we can choose to find God in the midst of the 5 sensory detail. By choosing to find God in it, good, bad and in-between moments have the ability to be filled by God’s grace, have the ability to become something more than they are. It’s not easy – this God-choosing. It takes being intentional and vigilant, determined in our faith and hope to be present right here, right now. Maybe that is the greatest gift of growing older.

Living fully, intentionally
right now
in the 5 sensory living
in a God’s grace revelation that redeems
or the inhale of a Lord Jesus Christ
exhale Have-mercy-on-me moment

No what-ifs invited
No looking back
No looking forward
Just looking the moment in the eye
And challenging it to
Bring the God-in-it-on
Knowing He’s got my back
He’s got the plan
He’s available in each
moment

so I soak it in
right now
soul-eyes wide open seeing
my sweet heart’s eyes crinkle when he smiles
The freckles on my boy’s nose that tell of moments in sunshine
red blooms in a weed bed
seeing words in red, spoken for me
choosing to see goodness
in the midst of a challenge

Sadie2Hands and feet feeling
summer-time hotness, toes in the grass, hands pulling blueberries
still reaching to hold hands after 31 years of I do
dirt from the floor stuck to sensitive feet
evidence of a dog shedding love everywhere
and boys mowing, kicking a soccer ball,
grass and wet from the brothers coming in
after playing soccer in the rain
on a celebration day
choosing the love interpretation of an any-moment
like goodness of a hug not yet given
rather than the gritty dirt under my feet

hearing a son reach out, speaking life
in his very own brand of saucy humor
while hearing so much in the 15-year-old’s controlled silence
not anger, not manipulation – just so much control
hearing I love you in a boy cleaning my kitchen
for my birthday
laughter from the outside of a conversation
between 5 boys being brothers
the turtle dove’s reedy call from roof top perches
the sound of peace and hope in a rare silence
instead of fear and trouble borrowing
hearing instead God’s whispers, God’s words.

bday4ctasting raspberry tea as it travels down my throat
cooling a heated moment
chocolate-orange squares comforting
in a long afternoon of choosing to bloom
where I am planted
sweat in a weed-pulling moment under a hot summer sun
communion bread pulling me back
to the roots of who I am
when I’ve forgotten or feel
forgotten

the smell of rain in the cumulonimbus creeping up behind the trees
tomatoes and cucumbers pulled from the vine
dill and sage, lavender and thyme
on fingertips and counter top dishes
Learning how to savor, keep and store summertime smells
for days needing warm savory reminders
when metallic smells herald ahead
of a white blanket chill

Being fully present
No day-dreaming
No dissing the daily

finding His take in
5 sensory living
of  right now
There’s always something worth keeping
In the present – no matter how it feels

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

bday35c

rain tree seeds


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