bicyclegreen_edited-1removing training wheels

he types his essay
on heroes and anti-heroes
defining the noble, the ignoble
the brave, questing search
of the soul of a man
wrestling down, pinning
the argument of his

“read it,” he wants,
only half-way done
but in this letting go
of both our hands
he needs to trust his
argument, his support
the heart of his ideas
for now
until the roughness of it
is sketched in

the review wait
until further progress
frustrates independence growing
unused to hands-off processes that
stretches new-found
self-ownership and the evaluation
of it
by other minds and other hearts
who neither held his hands and nor let go
to walk, fall, and pull himself up
to try again until
he got it
on his own

like bicycle riding
for the first time
with the training wheels of
revealing the sheer terror
of hands-off
for both of us
until his feet pressed into the pedals
his hands wrapped control around
handle bars
his inside boy balanced his outside boy
and he flew down the side walk

heart jumping, I stood
at the letting-go point
hands gripped at my side
words held back so they
wouldn’t get in the way
as he wobbled, teetering
from failure to success
in the newness of confidence
from owning the journey
two-wheeled independence

today he writes,
and I find busyness
in a letting-go moment
hands gripping the dish clothe,
wiping the counter
words held back so they won’t
get in the way
of his words, his ideas
of heroes and anti-heroes,
examples and arguments
of an essay written
comparing the souls of men

this slow removal
of the training wheels of
of a mama’s hands
letting go
to allow him to own
his success, his failures
his  picking himself up to try
and in that picking up gain
more than success
courage-soaked mother
who loves enough
to let go

Won’t you settle in, join me with a cup of spiced ginger plum tea, join me with Karen at Tuesdays at Ten? The writing prompt is . . . Letting go.

 photo Tuesday at 10.jpg

http://3dlessons4life.com/     Thought-Provoking Thursday
On Friday:
http://www.missionalwomen.com/     Faith-Filled Fridays
http://arabahjoy.com     Grace and Truth
http://equippinggodlywomen.com/     Fellowship Friday
http://countingmyblessings.com/blog/     Blessing Counters
http://www.simplemomentsstick.com/     Faith and Fellowship

http://www.faithnfriends.com/ FaithN Friends
On the Weekend:
http://www.barbieswihart.com/     The Weekend Brew
http://faith.5minutesformom.com/     Faith ‘N Friends
http://sandraheskaking.com/     Still Saturday
http://seespeakhearmama.com/     Give Me Grace
http://www.janiscox.com/        Sunday Stillness
http://www.spiritualsundays.com/     Spiritual Sundays
On Monday:
http://lauraboggess.com/ PlayDates with God
http://www.solideogloriasisterhood.com/ Soli Deo Gloria Connections
http://www.blessedbutstressed.com/ Inspire Me Mondays
http://darlingdownsdiaries.com/ Good Morning Mondays
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/ Sharing His Beauty
http://whatjoyismine.net/ Monday Musings
http://www.shelivesfree.com/blog Make a Difference Mondays
http://donnareidland.com Mondays @ Soul Survival
On Tuesday:
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/ Testimony Tuesday
http://cornerstoneconfessions.com Titus 2 Tuesday
On Wednesday:
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://www.juanamikels.com/ Wednesday Prayer Girls
http://www.kristinhilltaylor.com/ Three-Word Wednesday
http://www.w2wministries.org/ Word-Filled Wednesdays
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
http://jenniferdukeslee.com/ Tell His Story
http://meredithbernard.com/ W2W Wednesdays
http://www.rosilindjukic.com/ A Little R & R
http://womenwithintention.com/ Women with Intention

the knot unraveler


“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)

Mohair is a beautiful yarn – on its own or double stranded. Mohair is gentle, delicate, warm – and thin. I’ve had days lately where I’ve felt like a thin strand of mohair – come upon a knot.

Spinning my own yarn; walking my own story.

Sometimes this yarn I spin is like bulky wool. Knots that happen are easy enough to unravel, to work out.

There’s no undoing a knot in mohair, though.

My story has stretched me thin lately, mohair thin – and the knots, they’re beyond anything I can do.

In myself, I’m mohair thin.

I was designed to be double-stranded with God.

Spinning my own yarn; walking my own story

God can . . . unravel the mohair knots in my story, unravel and leave my heart llama warm – and I can pull my yarn on into the next stitch of this story I’m working.

This last week, God unraveled a nest of knots.

Knot – A car-load of people I love learned that
God makes a way in a traffic jam, even when
there’s no logical way out

Knot – Someone in authority wasn’t willing to open a can of worms
until someone else was
relief and solution spilled out

Knot – Someone saw truth and stood up for it

knit, slip a stitch 
knot, knot, knot 
knit two together, pearl
knot, knot, knot

This week found hands on shoulders in a circle
young and old
praying for God to unravel
the knots
either we make, others make
or just-happen knots

There’s no wrong-side of a knot
when we take it to God

Spinning my yarn; walking my story

the sweet aroma of praise
in a hard moment hallelujah
for the lord God almighty reigns
and his name is like honey on my lips
water to my soul
a lamp unto my feet
the knot unraveler
who can
in a world of cannots





hospitalbed_edited-1For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on,
and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in (Isaiah 28: 20)

We are born with souls too short – too short for refreshing rest, too short to allow for growth. The fibers of our souls initially are too stiff for comfort, too abrasive to wrap around the bones, the mind, the heart where love lives.

How does one live with a soul too short?

This last week was uncomfortable – from Monday through Sunday. My mother had cancer surgery 3 hours away from our house and 5 hours away from her house in the middle of the week. Her surgery could result in a one to three day hospital stay. Add 3 boys still at home, 2 in high school, plus 2 soccer tournaments anywhere from one to three hours in different directions from our home, a golden retriever who recently met the new neighbors – squirrels from the woods who suddenly discovered a new cache of nuts from our Maple trees and frolicking in our Bradford Pear trees. She now has to be leash walked, or, in her euphoria, she finds herself two streets away playing with a family that isn’t hers. I’m also teaching again, twice a week. Did I mention out of town guest?

I imagine my mom felt even more uncomfortable than I did, though.

A soul too short is like a bed too small, like blankets that don’t cover feet on a cold, chill night. How can  peace, joy, love and gentleness be given when the soul isn’t big enough to even comfort itself?

How do you love everyone just right -filling them up with what they need the way they need it – when time and space result in half of everything dangling over the foot of the bed, like an overgrown teenage boy?

How do I “do” everything just right, when I’m just not consistently good at being good – with the right words and the right actions? When my goodness isn’t big enough to wrap around a need like a soft, warm, worn-in quilt?

. . . or when there just aren’t words right enough to cover moments or situations?

In a normal daily, I plan time for moments requiring more – more time, more attention, more me, more patience, more goodness. I try to add time to cover short-sheeted moments. Frustratingly, no matter how much I plan, I fall short.

It’s humbling when my children look at me in a you-missed-it-mom moment, and, all I can think is – “Imagine me without God.” Even when I run short in those moments, I know that because of Him, I am not as short on goodness as I would be without Him.

There was not enough of the good in me to stretch and cover the needs of this week. The soul blanket I was born with? It couldn’t have covered the big toe of my week.

Our soul blankets grow and soften in the outpouring of a Holy Spirit washing. Only then do the fibers of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control and goodness soften for comfort, and in the softening, expand and grow stronger.

Me without God cannot walk well through a week like last week. Me without God cannot love the way I want to love without God. Me without God is no comfort at all.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely” (Galatians 5: 22-23).

His Holy Spirit stretches me beyond myself. Everything He calls me to be in? The blanket of my soul will be able to cover it – gracefully. Even in the missed-it moments – grace will emerge.

“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16 – 19)

Last week, my out-of-town guests and I went on a Monday morning photo journey to the Little Creek Farm and its pumpkins where I was strengthened through friendship – and God’s little orange graces – white, green and striped, too!

Tuesday found the car packed, the boys with a schedule and friends to check on them – and my husband and I drove to Atlanta. God surrounded my mom with an incredible support team: her doctor who did the surgery – and my brother, my mother’s friend, my husband and I – and my cousin – 12 hours older than me (our moms – sisters – shared the same hospital room when we were born) – he’s a minister now who was there on business. He prayed with us, stayed with us through the day. There are no coincidences when God is involved.

My mother loves hugs – arms wrapped around tight hugs. Me? I will gladly hug you to death with words – but too tight arm-wrapped-around hugs feel like I’m suffocating. I held her hand, smoothed her brow, held her arm in hospital walk-abouts and cheered her on with wordy hugs (which have the same suffocating effect on others). I think between all of us, we wrapped her in a love blanket that snugged around her just right.

One of God’s beautiful gifts is a family who works as a team – our family worked like that last week.

Mom left the hospital the day of surgery – and was ready to travel home the next day. My brother drove her all the way home which allowed us to cover the schedule that needed covering at home. His time sacrifice blessed us. We returned home earlier than expected to prepare for a weekend full of schedules and the unplanned challenges that come with the everyday in family – regardless, I think, of its size.

No – I was not all grace last week – but I was who I needed to be to those that needed me.

The God-designed blanket of my soul covered it all.



pinkfl1522_edited-2It is said, a twisting, terrible serpent and a deadly sea dragon roam the world, devouring the cardinals which bring hope along with the mighty oaks with its limbs raised high in praise, drying up refreshing waters, lying in wait for the hare and deer, destroying good and allowing evil to thrive.

It is also said, there lives an old man, older than any storyteller or history book can remember, who’d carved out a garden with his bare hands and imagination, watered it daily from seed-time to harvest, year after year beyond memory and record.

The old man’s garden, it is a pleasant garden filled with sweet fruits that satisfies the soul and brings wholeness to the heart, the hands and feet, the mind – the inside and outside parts of growing life.  The serpent and the dragon dare not go near the old man and his garden, though they blow seeds designed to destroy with every wind, on every dust particle. They plot and connive to destroy it from within and without.

The old man, he attends his garden daily, walking its paths he designed, pulling out weeds with his hands or hoeing, loosening the soil so that the waters go down deep, and, by going down, strengthen the roots – and in the strengthening, loosening weed roots that don’t belong, making them easier to tear out before they grab hold and make greater damage.

Day and night, the old man can be found either kneeling, his hands working through the soil, his hands dark with the healthy, rich soil. He is a hands-on, vigilant guardian over his creation—vigilant of the thorns and battles from without that blow, always seeking to invade, to overtake, to choke out his creation.

Sometimes he stands at the garden’s edge, watching, listening.

Come, make peace with me,” he calls in a still, soft whisper. “Come, make peace with me.”

Sometimes he crosses the garden’s borders, strides into the dark woods and wild fields, returning home with seedlings and shoots, stems with leaf buds to graft into his vineyard trees, by the arm-fulls or solitary, always worn, struggling to live, but totally given over to his healing power. Somehow, he hears their call.

Sometimes, a seedling finds its way into the garden, weakened, worn by those every thorns and briars in the battle outside the old man’s garden. Maybe a shoot, almost dried out of life, lying limp on the old man’s wall – how it got there, who can tell – but it seeks sanctuary in his garden, tended by the old man’s healing ways – and, in the tending, finds new life.

Sometimes, the living things, they come, peer into the garden, unable to believe it is, indeed, better within than without. They don’t stop and talk with the old man in the garden. Maybe they think he won’t understand, but, he does – he understands everything. Maybe they think they’re too intelligent to ask a simple gardener about big things like serpents and dragons. Maybe they think living within an old man’s garden boundaries are restricting, limiting . . . small-minded. Instead of extending their hands in greeting, to just meet and talk, to try and understand the old man, they shove their hands in their pockets and walk away.

Somehow, though, seedlings, shoots and steams for grafting and all other living things, they keep coming, laying hold of the old man’s protection – and they come to make peace with him because there is not peace to be found outside his garden.

“At that time God will unsheathe his sword,
    his merciless, massive, mighty sword.
He’ll punish the serpent Leviathan as it flees,
    the serpent Leviathan thrashing in flight.
He’ll kill that old dragon
    that lives in the sea.

At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear.
    There’s something to sing about!
I, God, tend it.
    I keep it well-watered.
I keep careful watch over it
    so that no one can damage it.
I’m not angry. I care.
    Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes,
I’ll just pull them out
    and burn them up.
Let that vine cling to me for safety,
    let it find a good and whole life with me,
    let it hold on for a good and whole life” (Isaiah 27:1-5).

a jumbling mess


Storing up the good stuff – that’s what I’ve been doing. Some days, I do it well; some days, I need a re-do.

I don’t have much organization about me right now. Maybe it’s a free-write, a stream of consciousness, a jumble, a mess of ideas, a written patch-work quilt that needed a quilting-kind-of writing, a bunch of windows with pieces and parts views of what’s going on in my blue cotton soul.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again” ~C.S. Lewis in the forward of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a birthday gift, a set of all the books, which I’d never read. It was like God was telling me, “Don’t give up on the fairy tales – keep on believing – because I’m the knight in shining armor . . .”

Why do people ever think they are too old for fairy tales? One of the best birthday gifts ever was when my mother gave me a book of fairy tales a few years ago, and it had my very favorite fairy tale: “The Goose Girl.” 

Travel soccer season has its charm. My boys’ cleats aren’t the only things with a lot of wear and tear. One evening, though, all my boys gathered to play a game on the home turf – and it was the best game of them all.

One Saturday morning found me in my aunt’s front yard, in my home town on festival day reminding me of different time, a different group of people stepping out of houses into community – when my grandmother and grandfather waltzed in the festival twilight to a swing orchestra on a slow song.

My granddaughter trying on hats, playing pretend where she’s the mommy and I’m the little girl doing pirouettes and pliés in the back yard when, suddenly, she bursts out, “Muddy, I love you so much” – and my heart stops and melts at the same time.

Boys growing into responsibility, stretching beyond themselves and finding they can without ripping or breaking a part.

Hours gluing boxes shut because someone else made a big mistake – and the silver linings are boys come together, and friends, too, talking about big and little things, little and big – moments filled with laughter, revealing that sometimes buried in a slog of work are silver-lining blessings.

After more than 10 years of growing trees, digging out flower beds, building raised vegetable and herb beds, raising lemon balm, chocolate mint and lavender, splitting bulbs, throwing zinnia seeds and learning faith lessons from blue hydrangeas – the squirrels came across the street to live, build nests, bury seeds – and cause crazy-intense, brain-zapping joy to Sadie, the golden retriever.

Blue jays on a tree limb, hummingbird battles over sweet elixer, and a porch frog that comes out at night.

Over three-mile walks by the coffee shop, through the historic district, into the heart of the university, over the railroad tracks, past the ice cream shop, back to the coffee shop, to my car, to home – and I am stretched, too, as the world shakes and grumbles under blood moon warnings.

A time to live intentionally, walk new paths, sit long and talk much about big and little things, bake daily relief cookies or celebration cakes, and I look into eyes watching whether they look directly blinking naturally or slip away right, and praise God for all the ways boys grow.

I’m learning to release them, these boys . . . . to their own story (see Sharon Sharing God for more on this).

. . . and I’m learning about living with wider margins for gentleness. I know how to be a fighter, to live courage and not-give-up-ness – but there’s a seed of gentleness that needs to grow – Lidia at Crown of Beauty put words to something brewing within me.

and, then one day, I read this: “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves ‘How can I help?’” (Romans 15:2, The Message)

I gathered 5 red tomatoes from my plants today and felt a peace deep inside.

God’s extravagant love is all around, quiet and loud.

I go tomorrow to meet my mom in Atlanta. We’re going to see a cancer doctor about these cancerous tumors she’s got that need getting rid of. She’s driving 6 hours; I’m driving 3.5. I so love how she’s lived the last 10 years – she’s found joy, discovered that God loves her, and, one day, a black angel, she says, saved her life on the roadside while she was gasping from an asthma attack, unable to breath and unable to use her inhaler, and this last summer, she worked at vacation bible school – she loves helping others.

I’ve dreamed dreams this last little while, one in particular where my husband and I were given a house – just the style we admire. I was so happy – he had a perfect office/library for him in this house. As I was being shown around the house, a door was opened – and there was a thinking room just for me, for books and reading and work, too – exactly my hearts desire. I didn’t have to ask. I didn’t have to plan. It had already been designed for me.

This post has been a mess of a jumble – a beautiful mess of a jumble. That’s just where I’m living right now.

“I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2)

I’m the gate. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved. He’ll come in and go out and find pasture ~ John 10:9

“Jump a Fence

Climb a Tree

Homespun, he is Free”

from Blackberry Roland, by Blue Cotton Memory

From little feet puddle jumping to  muscles and cleats sliding through mud and rain-soaked tackle, these boys of mine don’t always choose the neat, tidy paths and gateways.

God placed within their tiny hearts before they were born – a desire for freedom, a frontier-kind of spirit that would lead them out of bondage, through a parting sea – and into a new land, a land where the banner of Shaddai flies high for all to see, where children are taught with their first steps that Jehovah-Rohi shepherds them through the gate, hand-in-hand with the Savior.

Through the gate – it sounds so simple. Forging new paths, to discover new ideas – like Ford with automobiles or Charles Best who discovered insulin – or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon – fence jumping sure seems a quicker way to get there. Their toes almost itch to jump fences – from the time they learn to walk.

These boys to men seem designed to avoid gates.

I see it in their desire to debate – just for the sake of debate – chewing (sometimes it seems like gnawing) their logical teeth on challenging authority or the status quo.

How many times have I said, “Don’t outsmart your common sense.”

The oldest, he taught them all the longest word in the dictionary: Antidisestablishmentarianism – and, to him, it meant not taking establishment ideas at face value. At first glance, the gate looks like establishment ideas.

Some shun the gate because their parents walked through. The gate seems to have always been there. It seems so ordinary, so every day, so already done. These boys to men don’t just go through the gate because it’s there – it often seems like a life motto they’ve worn emblazened inside.


“I am the Gate for the Sheep,” Jesus tells us (John 10:7)

These boys to men – they gotta have Him – there’s no other way – no other way to be delivered from all that life will throw at them – from the liars, cheats, and thieves who aim to steal more than their wallets, identity or cell phones.

The gate isn’t religion. It isn’t rules. It isn’t an activity list of things we do. The gate is relationship. Relationship is the releases the gate latch – relationship with the one who designed you, the one who died to save you.

Real relationship. You cannot get there by fence jumping (fulfilling the bucket-list of Christian-expected behavior but not relationship) – or digging under it.

I imagine that if you wanted to spend time with Him debating – I imagine He would welcome that as the beginning of relationship. You might not be through the gate – but at least you’re at the gate with Him.


A few years ago, I hosted a an unofficial small group with some parents of teens, friends of my sons still at home – and we read Sticky Faith together, trying to figure out how to get these boys to men who have walked through that gate when they were little – to continue living through the gate – in His pasture where they live “saved from sin, the dominion of it, the guilt and condemning power of it, and at last from the being of it; and from the law, its curse and condemnation, and from wrath to come, and from every evil, and every enemy”(Gill’s Exposition, Bible Hub).


Some were frontier parenting – this was their first foray into the teen years. Others, like us, had older children who entered through the gate or were fence jumpers or tried digging under it, trying any way to avoid the actual relationship required to go through the gate.  We needed fresh eyes to break battle-fatigue habits, to re-equip, re-adjust, re-train for the next 6 years.

Sitting across the table, breaking bread – (getting ready for them to start the teen book while we went over the parent’s book) – learning ways to intentionally open the clogged conversational arteries with our children, how our spiritual gifts communicate with each other (not part of the book, but part of what we are doing) – and how to encourage real relationship with the one who created them, who loves them – who died to save them.

One of the things I loved about this group is that it included some of their inner circle of friends. As one teen filled a bowl of soup, a parent asked,”Who influences you most now – your parents or your peers?”

We were not looking a right answer – We were looking for his answer.

“My peers,” he answered. Another answered, “My parents.” Each gave valid reasons, truthful reasons.

Maybe by pulling them to the table, bowl by bowl – with friend’s parents who they tease includes their “favorite mom” – maybe, just maybe we can mentor faith that sticks: real, life relationship faith.

How can we as parents encourage relationship building of these sons with their Savior? Real relationship building – We asked our sons to define what it meant to be a Christian?

Sometimes their was a disconnect between the logos “right” answer and the rhema (the aliveness) of their answer in their every day. They knew the right answer but their actions weren’t always in tandem with the right answer. Both were still fusing together.

Over the bowls of soup, I also wanted to ask, “Who is influencing your gate relationship with Christ?”

“What does that gate relationship consist of?”

What does it mean to pass through the gate to the pasture?

Or are you just fence jumping.

Today, about 2 years later, those mentoring relationships are making a positive difference. Other moms and dads interacting, having real conversation – not scared-to-intrude conversation have created peers who reflect that interaction into their peer relationships.

I’ve seen hard decisions made by these young men who prayed first and put self second.

I’ve seen young iron sharpening young iron because of real relationships with other moms and dads showed them how in breaking-bread, over-the-counter real conversation.

They’re pausing at the temptation to fence jump – and instead making the decision to hang out at the gate, take ownership of that relationship found there. In the ownership, they’re discovering it’s not an establishment relationship. It’s a real, personal, one-on-one relationship – a grafting together kind of relationship.

Going through the gate? Or fence jumping?

(updated, September 9, 2015)


All gate photos except for last were taken at Colonial Williamsburg, Fall 2013

I think the most challenging part of being a mom of sons-only – is I don’t have a daughter to pass the stories down to – and women are designed to be story-tellers, keepers of the family faith story. We are designed to  pass the God in us down. Brandee at Smooth Stones asked me a few weeks ago to stop by her place (figuratively), have a cup of tea (figuratively) and pass some encouragement down as her first-born enters high school. She has doubly blessed me!  If you need  some encouragement as you raise your teens, please join us!

Dear Brandee, Your son’s just started high school. I can just see that first day. He’s all ready to go out the door, catch the school bus: back-pack stuffed with school supplies, water bottles, – not lunch because he wants to try their lunch, to see if it’s different. . . better. His back pack isn’t heavy, yet. There’s room for books, but not as much room as he’ll realize he needs.

You probably watched him walk to the bus, like independence on training-wheels, that walk up to a doorway to a new era.

You’re more left behind than ever. You can’t walk him out, stand with him like you did in the primary years. You can’t just pop into school to see the teacher at the end of the day to pick up nuggets and morsels of what’s really going on.

Hands-off time has begun – kind of like on the cooking competitions you see on t.v.  when that buzzer rings, hands fly off – and up.

He pulls himself up through those bus doors that will take him to a school where everything is possible – booze, drugs, PDA, friends who lift up and those who pull down, teachers who encourage and discourage, believers, non-believers – it’s all in there

. . . . . and you just let him go. . . .

When you just let him go, remember the other back pack – the one you can’t see – that soul back pack that you started filling the day he was born . . . . Read the Rest Here (Click)


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