“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22)

My third son, the one I call the Freshness after the Storm, the one with the Joy of the Lord, came by the house a few weeks ago. Somehow we got on the topic about where his dad and I would be buried. I had pretty much come to the conclusion that it couldn’t be in his hometown or mine. Four out of five sons had been born in this little Tennessee town. We’ve been here over 24 years.

The banter in this conversation continued. It wasn’t a serious conversation. I guess they’ve learned by now that there’s no telling what their mom will bring up. Each is always relieved that it’s just not about the day they were born. Those stories can clear a room in less than 5 seconds.

I told my son about a cemetery I’d found out in the country on a drive I’d taken. It was beautiful, out in the middle of nowhere with real head-stones – not plaques. It had character.

He told me he knew where it was. “It’s out there by Crazy George’s Bridge, Mom. I don’t know if I’d come out there to see you if you’re by Crazy George’s Bridge. It’s pretty creepy at night.”

At which point, I laughed and said, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to come visit me at night. That would be pretty creepy. Just come visit in the day time.”

Laughter is good medicine. I’ve laughed over that awhile. Yes, my boys recognize my humor is sometimes a bit awkward, but it is my humor. I find my own kind of joy in it.

This has been a year where I’ve needed to laugh. I’ve needed to strengthen my body, to heal from the pneumonia and the hysterectomy. To find the passion for the next 50 years.

I remember lying in my bed, the day before being admitted to the hospital, looking around, thinking, “I need to get rid of some of this stuff or my boys won’t know what’s important, what to keep” if something happened to me.

God didn’t let me dwell there. He kept reminding me of my mission statement he’d put on my heart a long time ago, “to show my boys how to grow old loving the Lord.” This mothering gig wasn’t over yet. I wasn’t to give up. This is one of the greatest gifts I can give my children.

(Five Minute Mark – but I just can’t stop there)

This same boy came by a few weeks later. He’d just moved out. I looked at him and said, “It doesn’t matter that you don’t know what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t found ‘the girl.’ None of that stuff matters if you pursue God. When you pursue God passionately, you will find yourself living what you are passionate about. Pursue God.”

Every time, I see him now, I say those words. The other day, I looked at him and said, “What am I going to say?”

“If you pursue God passionately, you will find yourself living what you are passionate about. Pursue God,” he answered, giving  me a little saucy smile.

Soul healing comes from seed planting, whether it’s planting zinnia seeds, tomato and pepper seeds – or God seeds. While things like zinnia seed planting harvests blessing, planting the seeds of God things heals the body and soul so that we can fulfill the mission statement God gives us – and, in the fulfilling of it, God allows us our moments of our own little God-designed brand of humor.

(It’s been a while since I’ve sat long and written much, so thank you for reading to the end. Won’t you join me over at Kate’s Place for 5 Minute Friday? Sit down, pull over a cup of Wild Apple Ginger Tea, and see what everybody else is writing about the word . . . Heal.”

http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
http://www.spiritualsundays.com/ Spiritual Sundays

Giving Up on Perfect, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday, http://seespeakhearmama.com/ Give Me Grace

A soul without sabbath feels like a porch no one has time for or interest in. The sabbath, like a porch, is a place for relaxed, un-pressured , sit-long, talk-much hospitality, where shallow talk leads into the deep, where refreshing happens and room is made for the sabbath maker.

(Still writing mostly in miniature. God seems to have placed me on a sit-long-and-write-much sabbatical. Brevity has never been one of my traits. I guess God thought it was time to work on that! Shalom, friends!)

Linking up these places throughout the week:

http://seespeakhearmama.com/ Give Me Grace
http://lauraboggess.com/ PlayDates with God
http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/ Small Wonder (formerly Unforced Rhythms)
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/ Sharing His Beauty
http://donnareidland.com Mondays @ Soul Survival
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/ Testimony Tuesday
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://www.w2wministries.org/ Word-Filled Wednesdays
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
http://www.kristinhilltaylor.com/ Three-Word Wednesday
http://3dlessons4life.com/ Thought-Provoking Thursday
https://susanbmead.com/ The Shallow End

ColonialWilliamsburgPaintingc“Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen” ~ Pablo Picasso

I’m that way about my photography, my writing and how I “read” my day. I am not satisfied with a photo until what I have shot captures how I saw it. How I saw it is not a scientific thing.  It involves senses, memory, a soul connection – and I strive to share not just what I saw but what I soul saw.

In graduate school, a fellow student contemptuously said I looked at life through rose-colored glasses. I’m sure my pink shades helped him come to that conclusion. I didn’t think then  – and I don’t think now that I look at life through a temporary filter, like rose-colored shades. I think I look at life through not just a God-lense, but a God-reality.

I think of people like Corrie Ten Boom, who lived under horrible persecution in a concentration camp, who watched her sister slowly die – and I think to myself that if she can find grace, forgiveness, love, strength, courage, hope, faith – and grab hold of the little joys in seemingly insignificant things – then I can, too. I would argue that Ten Boom looked at life through a God-lense.

Sometimes, it’s all about chosing what about my day is going to define me. I bet between you and me, we could come up with a huge list of irritants, things gone wrong, unfairness, chaos, challenges we didn’t ask for. The loudness of all that negativity can drown out grace, if we don’t look for it, find it, focus on it.

Sometimes I define one hour by 5 minutes. Once, in that 5 minutes, during a raucus storm, I took time out of the chaos to watch a summer storm, the rivulets like miniature rivers broke summer parched soil, loosening it, and it became a Holy Spirit ran when I invited God into it, thanking him for it. Another time, a winking sparkle of sunshine on a glass pane was a God message, reminding me He is there – and I thanked him for the lovely gift. Even the simplicity of a single sip of a cup of steaming blood orange tea in a chaotic morning has become a heart-warming moment –  a sip-long restoration that becomes blessing when I share it with the Father. I define single hours with moments like that.

Out of 24 hours, maybe that sip-long moment is the only moment worth keeping – and a moment worth defining my day. I refuse to define myself by want, by injustice, by  chaos, by the challenge. Yet, maybe, the chaos, the challenge is the honey to that cup  of tea. It wouldn’t have been as sweet if there hadn’t been the challenge – or God in it.

It is a choice to live as God’s child. It’s a choice to see life through a God-lense. It is my choice – how I “see” my story, how I tell my story. I choose to define myself by moments of grace, hope,  and blessing.

How will you choose to see today?  A mystery? A heroic adventure? A hopeless tale? A romance? A story of oppression or overcoming? Will you create something redeeming and inspiring?


http://arabahjoy.com https://susanbmead.com/ The Shallow End  http://sandraheskaking.com/ Still Saturday
http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
http://seespeakhearmama.com/ Give Me Grace
http://www.spiritualsundays.com/ Spiritual Sundays
https://susanbmead.com/ The Shallow End

flag“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend” ~ Thomas Jefferson

The mission statement for my blog is “the faith, love and politics of raising boys to men.”   I’ve talked about bullyingbelief intimidation,  and the demonizing of our young men. This isn’t a political post so much as it is about teaching my sons to stand up for what they believe in an environment that increasing tries to silence their voices. Today, I want to talk about not just the dangers of silencing our beliefs (not just political but our faith-in-God beliefs), but silencing our beliefs due to oppression and suppression, and yes, how that looks in an election climate.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” ~ Thomas Jefferson.

A young college student stood at the back of the crowd, talking to some friends a few nights ago. Coolness wafted through a wall of humidity just before a storm front came through. A band played a set of Merle Haggard favorites in our small town amphitheater.

Some children danced with luminescents, grandparents, parents, young mothers and fathers sat in their folding chairs just enjoying a summer evening. It was a sweet evening in America.

The young man, though,  kept pulling his grey Indian-cotton short sleeved shirt close, as if to hide his t-shirt. I was standing, fidgeting. Maybe if I’d been snuggled down into those comfy sports chairs, I might not have noticed his t-shirt. But I did – and it looked like a Trump-for-President t-shirt.

It saddened me that he was trying to hide it.

As we turned to leave, I stepped a few feet closer and asked about his Trump-for President t-shirt – congratulating him on wearing it. I thought courage should be encouraged.

He said, “Yeah – it’s a Trump  for President t-shirt, but I’m wearing this shirt over it because I don’t want to incite anything.”

I told him about the t-shirt one of my sons gave me for my birthday and about how I was concerned to wear it out, even grocery shopping – concerned even to put a sign in my yard.

He said he had a magnetic Trump-for-President bumper sticker for his car because he was a student at the college. Magnetic, so he could take it off because he didn’t want anyone damaging his vehicle because of his presidential choice. I imagine he also didn’t want his college GPA negatively affected, either.

We talked for a few more minutes – and I left, saddened for both of us. Saddened about the fear and cost of freedom of expression and speech, even in our small town.

This fear-inspired hiding of a t-shirt is the result of A Little Tyranny. A Little Tyranny is made up of little persecutions, like a scratch on your car, a lower grade, intellectual condescension in the form of patronizing disdain, name calling, all of which is in contrast to A Big Tyranny, which negatively affects physical safety, the ability to keep ones job because of different points of view over constitutional beliefs, and ultimately, individual freedom. Little Tyrannies risk growing into Big Tyrannies.

Tyranny has trickled down to small-town America – and it is sad. It is sad that an American boy about to vote in his first presidential election feels the need for caution – caution, not because these beliefs do not belong or deserve to be broadcast, a caution developed from reading about, watching those who have acted nation-wide to shut down through fists, blocking streets, venues, shouting down speech to close down the freedom to gather peacefully for an exchange of ideas, for an exchange of speech, for an exchange of freedom they might not agree with.

Our revolutionary forefathers fought battles so its sons and daughters wouldn’t experience this. The greatest generation gave up much of themselves so its sons and daughters wouldn’t experience this.

Tyranny is an exercise of power over others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice. It is associated with cruelty and oppression. It can be harsh, unjustly cruel, oppressive. It seeks to take away the voice, the beliefs . . . the rights of each citizen.

Followers of tyranny use tactics of intimidation, physical and intellectual bullying, oppression and violence to silence opinions different from their own. It does not scoot over to make room for anyone thinking differently.

The enabling of tyranny is evident in the “safe spaces” created for college students because different opinions scare them. This type of intellectual enabling, a type of encouraged self-imprisonment, of students atrophies intellectual development, resulting in a myopic understanding of the world, their country, their state and even their neighbors. If differing opinions can’t be faced, how can students and citizens understand the objective history of differing opinions, why people have those differing opinions, why differing opinions existing together provide a healthy environment where freedom grows. If students and citizens don’t understand, then they cannot respect differences – and if differences cannot be respected, intolerance develops. Intolerance then leads to tyranny.

 “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Followers of tyranny make no room for opposition. Those followers will shut it down any way they can – and when an existing government fails to protect the freedoms like those in our Constitution, then the environment will have been created out of which will grow persecuting intolerance – like Mao’s intolerance, Stalin’s intolerance, Hitler’s intolerance, Castro’s intolerance – all who imprisoned, tortured and eradicated millions and millions of people who didn’t agree.

I’ve always told my sons – and my college students, you need three reasons to believe something. In this election season, I have my three reasons for why I’m voting for Donald Trump.

  1. Non-persecuted Christianity can only exist under the umbrella of Capitalism. The umbrella of socialism/communism makes no room for Christianity. Where freedom for Capitalism exists, freedom for non-persecuted Christianity exists.
  2. Trump’s daughter is Jewish, and as such, will support Israel. “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). I also believe that God has a history of using unlikely men to lead his people out of oppression into a fully redeemed relationship with him (read Judges).
  3. Trumps supporters/followers don’t resort to tyranny in order to shut down the freedom to express differing opinions. If a candidate’s followers make no room in a political debate for differing opinions, most likely that candidate will make no room, if elected, for ideological, religious or personal differences either – and what was once individual bullying will become government-endorsed bullying to ensure differing opinions won’t exist to challenge their use of power.

“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter” ~George Washington, first U.S. president

The America I know does not persecute its citizens into silence. The America I know does not persecute its people into hiding their beliefs. The America I know was created so that no one would ever need to build priest holes to hide their religious leaders or freedom fighters.

“Let us not give up in freedom what we would never give up  in persecution” ~ Nik Ripkin, The Insanity of God

Tyranny in a free country gives birth to government sanctioned persecution that seeks to silence differing opinions permanently.

My father-in-law used to say, “I can’t hear what you’re saying over what your actions are telling me.”

If you can tell much about a man by whom he surrounds himself, then surely you can tell much about a political candidate by who his followers are. If one man’s followers seek to shut down another person’s beliefs through fists, destruction and bullying, and the second man’s followers don’t persecute those who believe differently, though they disagree, I would choose the second man every time. The second man will uphold life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved,” ~ Father Benjamin Franklin


http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/     Small Wonder (formerly Unforced Rhythms)
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/    Sharing His Beauty
http://donnareidland.com   Mondays @ Soul Survival
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/     Testimony Tuesday
http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage
http://www.w2wministries.org/     Word-Filled Wednesdays
http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart

hydrangeabluewhitecWhen my husband sends me flowers, it’s his way of reminding me how much he loves me. God does the same thing. He brought me lilacs, then snowballs, then the baptisma, the tiger lilies and spiders wort.

Then he brought me the hydrangea blossoms in an outrageous display of his love!

As the summer ends, the pink, blue, yellow, reds and fuschia zinnias, black-eyed Susans, crepe myrtles and a second blooming of the lavender – and still the hydrangeas are blooming.

He didn’t just plant them. He designed them, created them, grew them, started it all years and years and years ago before our grandparents were born and their grandparents all the way back to the beginning, all for me and you – and our children’s children, too!

God loves us quiet and still, bold and outrageous! Are you paying attention? Look around! Do you see it? It’s right there – outside us and inside, too!


(Still remembering and celebrating 33 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.

Jesus 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.

A Forever Girl

(Celebrating 33 years today! God is so good!)

mllkwedding22A Letter to My Granddaughter on the Event of My 30th Wedding Anniversary

Sweet Grandbaby Girl,
I hope you grow up to be a Forever Girl – and by Forever Girl, I mean a wife full of love for her husband – feeling it in your heart, thinking in with your mind – and choosing it in moments you don’t feel it. . .

. . .who even after 30 years, 50 years, 75 years of marriage looks at her husband with bigger love than when she said, “I do,” who never stops seeing him as an amazing man. Despite moments of frustration and imperfection –  you still say “Thank you, God”, that his smile still dazzles you and a single word melts the anger away because trust, faith and love endure.

I pray that he is the Elkanah to your Hannah, that you are the Leah to his Jacob – that you would never sell a night with your husband to another woman for a basket of fruit, that he is the Joseph to God’s call on your life and that you are the Sarah to God’s call on his life.

mlkeith2I don’t know what my marriage will be like in heaven, but I cannot imagine it without my Forever Man– that I met over 30 years ago at a Mule Barn social– and he picked me to be on his football team. I want to be his Forever Girl – Forever.

I want you to be a Forever Girl, too – a Forever Girl who waits for her Forever Man.  At age 12 I entered into a covenant with Jehovah-Rohi, the Lord my Shepherd – that He would guide me to my bride groom – and in return, I wouldn’t be a Bond Girl , a Breck Girl, Harvey Girl, a Girl Friday, or a Girl who Just Wants to Have Fun– I wanted to be a Forever Girl – a girl who loves and is loved in return by her husband for as long as forever allows.

A Forever Girl asks ““Let me know, Father, who the right man is?”

I wish someone had explained to me that just because some young men had all the pre-requisites for my list (yes, I had a list – from a writing assignment my Sophomore year of high school) – just because that relationship doesn’t click doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me – or you. I wish someone had explained the following:

  • No answer to “Is He the one” means no or not now.
  • No means God has something better for each of you, better than you can imagine. After all, we only know what we have been taught, experienced or God-revealed: Our knowledge is limited to what we know; Understanding how little we know and how much God knows is the first step to having faith in a Forever marriage.

A Forever Girl is a Faith girl who by faith waits for her Forever Man. She doesn’t give up and give herself away. By trusting Jehovah Jireh, she knows God will provide in His time.

mlkeithWhen Forever Girl meets Forever Man a faith-kind of trust grows. Her mind might struggle with trust issues – but her heart will trust – and trust like children innately born to trust their parents. Only God can create that kind of trust between two people.

A Forever Girl
Isn’t taken for granted
is seen as an angel, like a rose (Psalm 5:18)
Is ingenuous, honest, courageous, full of valor
Striving to encounter challenges with tranquility and firmness
Delighting in benevolence
Not seeking revenge
Sacrificing personal ease, interest and safety
For her Forever Man
She is her husband’s crown (Proverbs 12:4)
liberated through submission

So many  think pledging their life to Adonai, Lord and Master, limits and confines – when really, in Kingdom principles – it liberates, frees us to be as we were designed. When we pledge in marriage to submit to our husbands, kingdom principles work the same way – it liberates. Our Forever Man is to love us as Christ loved the church.  A Forever Man allows his Forever Girl to soar, yet provides shelter from a harsh world (Ephesians 5:22-23).

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage (Ephesians 5:25-28).

Go all out for your Forever Man, too!

A Forever Girl is made whole through her Forever Man.

Forever Girl + Forever Boy + The Holy Spirit = One

IMG_6850The writer’s of the movie Jerry McGuire plagiarized with this statement., “You complete me.”  The world calls it a cheesy line . Cheesy implies infantile, unbelievable – but God wanted us to complete each other – through Him. Malachi tells us so (Malachi 2:15). Don’t let the world diminish your relationship potential.

A Forever Girl Champions her Forever Boy.

  • Do your Forever Man good and not harm, all the days of your life (Proverbs 31).
  • Don’’t diminish, excoriate, mock, talk down to, belittle, undermine, manipulate, harden her heart, threaten.
  • Don’t  see him a Neanderthal, a bumbler, a lower-being, which society encourages women to do.
  • Understand that God created man for himself – and God created woman for man ( I Cor: 11:9) – and they both need each other. That God took Adam’s rib – and made him incomplete without her testifies to that.
  • Strengthen all parts of the whole. Build it up:  respect, encourage, seek to understand, forgive, find merit in innate differences, lift him up when he falls down, keep each other warm in the cold (Ecc. 4: 9-11), strong in the challenge, comforted when you each reach the end of yourselves.

A Forever Girl doesn’t stop believing that God knew what He was doing when He said, “Yes, this is the man.”

Your daddy told me once when he was moderately little that when God answers prayers, He answers them abundantly. He grew up to be the Forever Man to your mother’s Forever Girl.

Praying you choose to be a Forever Girl – both for God and your husband.


Your Grandmother