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Hello, Friends,

I’ve moved to a new place. My youngest graduated high school – and I completed my mission statement “the faith, love and politics of raising boys to men.”

Won’t you join my at my new site as I live out my new mission statement: “Letting Go and Letting God”? I’d so love for you to click over and continue connecting:

Blue Cotton Memory: Letting Go and Letting God

Shalom – and see you soon!


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Meet Me in Galilee

It’s an After-Resurrection Sunday Monday Morning in a Covid-19 Isolation life-style. We’ve celebrated Jesus rising from the dead, removing the veil that separated us from His Father. About 2,000 years ago, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna (Joanna, wife of Chuza, a steward in Herod’s household, who had been healed by Jesus), Salome (the wife of Zebedee, mother of James and John, possible the sister of Mary) – these women set out early Sunday morning to Christ’s tomb. Instead of finding hopelessness and death, they found resurrection hope.

We need to take that Resurrection Hope into a post-resurrection Monday morning challenge, like Jesus’ friends did. Life had radically changed from Friday to Sunday on that first Easter – and Monday morning Jesus’ followers and friends probably woke wondering what to do about it all, how to live it all out, how to wrap their brains around “the impossible” that was suddenly possible.

Jesus tells them,

Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life!
Don’t be frightened like that.
Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee,
and that I’ll meet them there” (Matthew 28:10).

“Meet me in Galilee” is like a song I can’t get out of my head.

Meet me in Galilee
those who came to the tomb were told.

Meet me in Galilee
he said – and tell our friends

Meet me in Galilee
Don’t despair – all is not lost – it’s all been won

Meet me in Galilee
there is so much more

Meet me in Galilee
it’s just the beginning.

Meet me in Galilee is where he is,
and anytime I draw close, he is there.

He meets all of us where we are right now, even in isolation. He meets me in the overcast moments, whether I’m bent over coughing my insides out, whether I’m shivering on the side of a soccer field, or too weak to climb higher on a misty mountain, whether I’m isolated in a pandemic or in the middle of trying to get a loved ones fever down, or cannot find what I need at the grocery store..

He meets me in the wait of a prayer sent out, in a good-news moment, in the freeze of a teen grump, even the pile of unmatched socks.

He meets me in my gracelessness, when I’m steeped in a give-up minute, when I’ve lost my direction (not my faith – just the direction).

Not only does he meet us, but he encourages us that there is so much more in this journey – so much more to this living with him in it that will amaze, humble, fire up with his love for you and me, a love that needs to be shared and given to others.

Where’s he meeting you today? Where’s your Galilee?

It’s a Post-Resurrection Sunday Monday in the middle of a Covid-19 Isolation. Meet me in Galilee, he says. Friend, won’t you meet him in Galilee, too. That’s one gathering Isolation and Quarantines cannot stop.

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You know, we have it easy. It’s a gorgeous Saturday, the Day Before Easter, Saturday before celebrating, Resurrection – and we live KNOWING that Jesus rose from that tomb on that Sunday around 2,000 years ago. We know! Knowing can be a dangerous thing, though. Today, I’m baking a chocolate cake to celebrate, along with German potato salad, green beans . . . food for sitting around a table to celebrate the resurrection. . . .

We are living right now in luxurious, over-flowing blessing, even if it is in isolation – we know Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. We know God didn’t forsake Him, and that Jesus didn’t forsake us. . . . and I too often live too familiarly, taking Easter Sunday for granted and not familiarly enough with the truth of what Jesus’ sacrifice has allowed me to live and be.

The first Inbetween Good Friday and Easter Sunday, wasn’t a celebratory place to be for those who knew Jesus, who walked with Jesus and loved him. On that first Inbetween, I imagine the apostles sat around a table, grieving, frantic, stunned with the loss not just of their friend that died but that who they believed to be the Son of God had died.

Isolated, self-quarantined – confused, bereft, not understanding—the son of God had been with them and now – it was all gone – on a Friday afternoon after a soul-filling Thursday night dinner their life had been turned upside down.

Two men handled their loss in two different ways, two men who both betrayed Him, two men who didn’t understand, who didn’t “see” God’s plan, who couldn’t fathom resurrection, even though Lazarus had been resurrected.

One, Judas, went to the church leaders who lived by the law to find redemption, forgiveness. Nobody was willing to help him find forgiveness – neither the church, its people or the law. In the stark darkness, the over-powering weight of his sin, his betrayal, he couldn’t find or believe redemption was available to him and killed himself, the terrible Inbetween place of law and grace.

The other, Peter, grieved his betrayal, too, but instead of looking for redemption from the law who couldn’t give it, he sought his brothers in Christ – Imagine how hard that must have been – to have denied Christ, the shame knowing how he had let his savior down and instead of isolating himself from those who loved Jesus, possibly risking rejection, he joined them. . . and. . . they accepted him, pulled him into the room of their shared grief, didn’t hold his betrayal against him, and they all held on until Sunday morning when Grace was found walking in the garden with the stone rolled away from the tomb.

The contrast here is startling: the weight of sin verses the weight of grace. The law led to death; grace led to resurrection. Peter held on to Jesus, even in the dark Inbetween, in the not knowing that Jesus’ story wasn’t over.

Saturday, today,  I live in the bright Hallelujah light of Resurrection – and, friends, I want to feel deeply, to the core of my soul, what Jesus’ death meant, what the apostles went through – so I can better rejoice what Jesus did for me. Not glimmers or ebbs and flows – but clearly, enduringly, consistently.  Saturday before a Resurrection Sunday, or any other day, even in the great Inbetween of a crucifixion challenge and its resurrection redemption, I don’t want to live so familiarly that I miss the real truth of  the daringly deep love of a Savior giving amazing grace.

For further reading, A Tale of Two Betrayals: A Veil’s Difference Between Judas and Peter

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dettroit3cIt’s a shame when you try to rehabilitate a reputation. I’ve been trying to rehabilitate Monday’s reputation for years, but sometimes, well, Monday lives up to what people have been saying about it since before I was born, more often than not unmerited.

It’s not true, about Monday, you know.

Monday is not the problem; Satan showing up on Monday’s is the problem.

One Monday, not so very long ago, started off so hope full. Monday was the kick-off to a week of well-planned pacing of good things to do – and I was excited about doing them and keeping chaos at a minimum (Eye-roll here. . . . dawning realization that when I plan to minimize/exclude chaos I somehow manage to empowering chaos).

Before 7 a.m. into Monday, Satan had thrown down a chaos-swirling challenge that God’s miracles, vigilance and grace picked up and set aright.

detroitfishcI am so glad God is ready for all the challenges that come 24/7, even before 7 a.m., even on Mondays. Looking back, I can see a spirit of edginess, wariness had stuck itself to me.

If you’re a mom, maybe you understand why 7 a.m. seems to be such a sticking point here. Since becoming a mom over 34 years ago, sleeping past 7 a.m. is a rare luxury. When my youngest graduated from high school this year, being by nature a night owl, I had high hopes of “sleeping in” every so often, even if “sleeping in” meant just 7 a.m.

detroitbeachccTuesday tried competing with its sister Monday with a 6 a.m. knock on our bedroom door. One of our sons, living at home and going to college, felt mighty achy, fevery and wiped out. A 7 a.m. doctor visit came up with Strep. He hadn’t had that since he was a baby.

With Tuesday came a last-minute change of plans that included a business trip to Detroit.

I felt challenged, in need of a refreshing, needing the chaos to settle down. Where was the grace, the peace, the smoothness that comes with faith. . . because faith isn’t bothered by the bumps. . . Right? Grace covers the soul jarring of challenges. . . Right? Hope ignores anxiety. . . Right?. . .Right?

detroithousseccThree days in Detroit without cooking for my hungry young men between their college classes, without straightening messes that keep remaking themselves, without facing hands-off challenges that won’t iron out under my will and determination. . .  I still found myself on edge, irritated. I tried to vintage the blessings He leaves in the daily – and I found the cool, northern sunshine. I found the most amazing oysters, I found Lake Eerie, but I couldn’t find peace, the bumps still jarred.

Irritation, uninvited, lingered as I woke up to home this morning. The challenges at the weeks’ beginning were in the past – and I needed to look forward, not backward. But I still couldn’t shake Monday and Tuesday’s discomfort.

God wanted me to vintage something, and God’s determination can sometimes feel soul-abrasive until I find what He wants me to find – and that means facing Him, telling Him I’m missing it, I’m struggling, and I need help. I hadn’t realized there was something I needed to redeem from Monday until I talked to Him about how I was feeling – apparently surviving Monday wasn’t what Monday’s challenges were all about.


“I was there, ready for the challenge, ready with the miracle, ready with the grace before you even went to bed. I was there long before 6 a.m. I came to save, not with ‘why-so-early-grumps,’ but with a bigger love than you know, a bigger generosity than you realize. . . . be prepared between the gloaming and sunrise to love those I give you with a bigger love and bigger generosity. Don’t be tight-fisted with your time, don’t keep it just for you, for your comfort. . . know me better so you can be more like me, even before 7 a.m., even when there are other things you think you’d rather be doing” – that’s what God was trying to say to me.

detroitccThese challenges this week, they tested me. While my son needed a white-count examination on Tuesday, I needed a soul examination (Psalm 26:2). My heart needed to be cleansed of anxiousness born of fear and a begrudging spirit hoarding my time and energy selfishly. I needed an attitude adjustment (Psalm 51:10).

My Father, He didn’t lecture me first. He showed me Monday how to live with a generosity of spirit. Then watched me try to love that way before 7 a.m. Tuesday. Then He waited for me to ask Him to explain, and He did: Love my way – open-handed, not tight-fisted, not on a schedule, love big even when you think it’s inconvenient and you’re wrestling with the “I’d rathers.”

Bumps. . . jarring. . . anxiety. . . faith doesn’t take those things away. Faith gives us grace and hope, peace and gentleness, love and long-suffering, confidence that He works at all things to good – even on a Monday morning that’s acting like a tiger caught hold of its own tail.

“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.~ 2 Cor. 3:18.

The irony? Here I kept accusing Monday of needing a reputation rehabilitation, when it was my soul that needed to change!


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nycbusc.jpgLast year at this time we had just learned about Keith’s critical heart valve. I didn‘t realize the challenge could get harder, but it did. We looked to God to lead us trusting that He had an All is Well plan.

Then a little nodule in the lung showed up in the pre-testing: Cancer. Fear tried to muscle its way in to my mind, but Keith never wavered, held tightly to my hand to keep us both focused on God, as we followed Him through this untravelled journey path. Every time fear encroached, we focused harder on the One who had him, had us.

We looked for the blessings in the challenge, a blue sky beautiful day to grab lunch for two, retelling the stories of what God has done for us throughout our lives, savoring the everyday ordinary, loving those God gave us, and walked through an incredible hard trusting God had the good plan.

The heart valve was replaced, a lung lobe removed, a serious infection successfully fought – and here we are – a year later: cancer-free, heart beating with abundant life, remembering the story of what the Father has done for us – All is Well; even in the challenge All is Well.

After the challenge? After the challenge, God still wants that intense relationship with us – in both the good and hard seasons, for us to keep focused on Him as though we’re following Him through a jungle or dense forest that has no path, or a New York City maze. In order not to get lost, we need to keep our eyes on the One who not only leads the way but makes the way.

One of the ways to do that is by remembering the story, remembering God in the story, and that just because the hard is not over, to still keep our eyes focused on Him, following so as not to get lost in a seemingly safe everyday ordinary.

All is Well
When Believing is Hard, Jesus Shows us How
Part I: When Easter, Passover, and Christmas Collide
Part II: When Easter, Passover and Christmas Collide
Remember Me, He Says
The Everyday Ordinary, Grace, and Green Beans


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Sunday Evening,
December 1, 2019

She left us today, Joyce Margaret, or Aunt Joyce to so very many who  love her so very well.

You see, she wasn’t able have to any children of her own – but she found herself surrounded by nieces and nephews, great nieces, a bunch of great nephews, who filled the empty places within her just as she filled the empty places within us.

God heard her cries – and filled her house.

“’Shout for joy, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth into song and cry aloud, you who have never travailed; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the LORD” – Isaiah 54:1.

She refused to lock her porch door during the day. Someone was always stopping by – and when you walked in, she accepted you just as you were. When I’d go home to visit, she was at the door, holding it open – whether if it was with all my boys, a few of them or just me – and just being there gave me rest (I am sure the excitement of the welcome equaled the excitement at leaving). We didn’t entertain each other – we just sat. Sometimes we talked a lot and sometimes we didn’t talk at all. . . and she’d make me coffee. When I was little, she made me hot chocolate. When I grew up, she made me coffee.


Grandmother, Aunt Joyce, Mom

I’ll miss our trips to Plehn’s Bakery. She loved the Angel Dips. I’d get cookies for the boys. We’d go out to lunch and enjoy a cup of coffee. At Christmas, she’d ask me to get the boys something for Christmas – and she’d give them nerf guns and darts – probably their top 3 favorite gifts.

Aunt Joyce lived up the street from Grandmother’s house, where my mom, my brother and I lived. When I got home from school, I’d walk up the street to visit my mom at work and then head up to Aunt Joyce’s.

“Now don’t talk too much or get into anything. She doesn’t have children, so don’t make her nervous,” Grandmother admonished before I’d head up the street.

I loved those quiet solitary walks to her house – especially in the autumn when the leaves covered the sidewalk, and they’d cover my feet if I shuffled through, or the leaves would fly up if I flipped them up with the toe of my shoes as I walked. Poor kids today wouldn’t be allowed to walk up the street like that until they were too old to really enjoy it.

When her dog Perry had to be put down, I was volunteered to go with her. I was about seven years old then. When we walked out of the vet office, she was crying. Since I didn’t know what to say, I said nothing, but just rode with her. I learned there’s comfort in quiet companionship, even when you don’t know what to say.

She got a new dog, Beau. In the afternoons, we’d take him for a walk. Sometimes we’d watch an afternoon t.v. show, but mostly we just kept company. One day, she helped me make my first cake – a prune cake, for a Girl Scout badge.

Every Sunday morning, she came to our house early to fix grandmother’s hair, sit a spell, and then mom, my brother, grandmother and I rode with her to church. Every Sunday! Unless you were sick.

Aunt Joyce had a gift for growing tomatoes. Uncle Jim, Grandmother’s farmer brother, would come by Sunday evenings, walk past her tomato patch and say, “If  you keep planting them in the same place, your tomatoes won’t grow.” Yet every year, she planted in the same place, and harvested the best tomatoes around.

She finally planted a Holly bush in the tomato patch one year, which grew and grEW and GREW until it became a nuisance and had to be cut down. Then her tomatoes grew, year after year, along the outside of her fence.  She despaired of the squirrels who waited patiently along with her for each tomato to ripen – and it became a game to see who could get to it first. Apparently, she and the squirrels were like-minded about a tomato’s readiness for harvesting, then it became a matter of who got there first.

Her husband, Uncle Pres, died Derby Eve my senior year of high school. Uncle Pres always was gracious enough to be my partner in badminton at family events – and never minded if I whiffed the serves or returns. Her loss drew the relationship between the people in the two houses even closer. My brother or I alternated staying with her until we married, and more often than not, grandmother, mom, my brother and I had dinner at her house.


Aunt Joyce and Grandmother on my wedding day

When Princess Diana married, Aunt Joyce and I got up early to watch the fairy tale wedding that turned out to be not such a fairy tale. As I was thumbing thru a magazine on the history of princess wedding dresses, I fell in love with Princess Grace’s dress. Paging through with me, she said, “If you marry a prince, I’ll buy you a wedding dress just like that!”

When Keith and I got engaged, she was so pleased, she said he was a prince and did buy my wedding dress. It wasn’t a Princess Grace dress, but it was perfect for me!

When my oldest son was about 4 years old, when he realized I wouldn’t divorce his dad to marry him, he proposed to Aunt Joyce. She said, “Yes.” They were engaged until he threw her over to marry his sweet wife.

I think because of her inability to have children, she understood the hurt when after my first son, we experienced secondary infertility and were unable to have more children. After every test or procedure, she’d call to see how I was doing – that was in the day when long distance calls were expensive and people, even family, didn’t call often by long distance.

It was a three year soul-stretching journey. She was on the phone with me when I took a home pregnancy test that turned positive. Just as she had grieved with me in my lowest low, she rejoiced in our answered prayer.

Most of our stories aren’t eventful stories – most of them are just spending time stories, doing little to nothing – maybe planting tomatoes, driving around Louisville nurseries trying to find a Lemon Meringue Baptista to give her sister, a pink dogwood blossom in the spring because I wanted to take a photo, to admire the tulips at The First Baptist Church, raking leaves on Thanksgiving, carrying up her Christmas Tree, putting wreaths on her windows, cooking together, sitting long, talking much and little. . . and coffee in the mornings.

She’d always say about people, “Oh, they’re crazy.” I’m sure she said it about me, too. We laugh that she thought everyone was “pixilated” – from the Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. In the movie, everybody, according to the two spinsters who had raised Cooper’s character, were “pixilated” – meaning everybody was a little crazy except them, even Cooper’s character. I’d laugh and tell her, “We’re all pixilated, except you.” She’d laugh her laugh, saying, “Probably so.”


Aunt Joyce and I Derby Week with The Middletown Women’s Club.

Through the years, I vintaged the family history with her.

“How many hamburgers did you eat during the war,” I’d asked over lunch one time.

“Oh, hamburgers were a luxury,” she said. Soup Beans were the main staple, adding, “We were so happy when Muddy had baby chicks.”

“Because they were so cute and fluffy,” I asked, probably proving I was pixilated.

“Because then we’d have chicken to eat,” she answered. Aunt Joyce was born in 1930. Her Muddy and Granddaddy owned a farm that helped provide them food during The Great Depression and World War II. They’d go to the country to visit on Sundays, and Muddy would send them back home laden with food they grew for the week. In the Summers, they’d spend weeks on the farm.

Grandmother made clothes for all her daughters. She could go to the department stores downtown, see a dress, then come home and make it. During Aunt Joyce’s senior year, she was voted Best Dressed at Sacred Heart Academy.

After high school, she went to work in an office until she married. The sister just under her had been bold enough to ask if she could go to nursing school. Grandmother said, “No,” but Grandfather said, “Yes” — and a way was made. It made me think about the scripture, “You have not because you ask not” ~ James 2:4.

A few years ago, when Aunt Joyce and I talked about it, when asked why she didn’t go to college, she simply said, “I didn’t know I could.” She’d never thought or dared to ask. she was caught in the time shift of women’s roles, of what women could and couldn’t do. Maybe that’s why she helped me chase after my dreams when I was turning 50 and she addressed 50 envelopes for a transcript to go to publishers.

aj811So much of Aunt Joyce had already left us before today – dementia does that, stealing piece by piece the ones you love.  Madeline L’Engle’s book The Summer of The Great Grandmother expressed so much of what I felt – and encouraged the vintaging of her story, the remembering, even when she began to falter in the remembering. (If you have a loved one going through this hard journey, it is a book I recommend to both give you comfort and to help you pull the grace out of it).

She was ready to go – she’d told us over and over for two years. Yet, in so many ways, I’m not.

On Thanksgiving, I cooked her green beans and mashed potatoes, her mother-in-law, Mrs. Schrader’s, baked apples. I used less crackers in her oyster stuffing recipe this year, or maybe they’re Grandmother’s or Mom’s recipe. Mrs. Schrader, Grandmother, and Aunt Joyce are gone, but their recipes still grace the table.

I’m going to miss someone being as excited as I am about eggplant parmesan! Who else will I ever make Cointreau Cake for? Cooking isn’t just cooking where I come from. The kitchen is where relationship building happens; cooking together is the electrostatic force that builds the bond for relationships to grow.

No, I’m not going to like the empty space left behind. I already miss the daily catching up. I’m going to miss the one who knows the other half of so many stories, who knows the places to find Spring flowers that I haven’t heard of, who had a place for me to go home to, who is just as excited as I am about pink dogwoods blooming and hydrangeas coming back – and joins me in my pixilated dream chasing. I’m going to miss the sitting long and talking little, or much, or whatever the moment needs. . . and someone who just lets you be who you are and or tell you what to do.

I think that is something I will work on – just being someone who lets you be who you are when you walk through my door. . .

I know I’m not the only one who will miss Aunt Joyce. . . her house overflowed with children of all ages.

“God’s grace provides for the barren ones a joyful home with children so that even childless couples find a family. He makes them happy parents surrounded by their pride and joy. That’s the God we praise, so give it all to him!” – Psalm 113:9

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alliswellbook2Well, I finally did it! Some of my friends have asked since I started blogging ten years ago to do a devotional. I never felt compelled until this Spring – and the courage came along with the insight of how and what to do. I had to learn new things, like Indesign and become more technical with Photoshop. But I did it. It always seems like when He wants me to do something, He makes the way.
Excerpt from Introduction:

All is Well, Even Though is a devotional born out of A Big Challenge. Upon entering the challenge, I couldn’t wrap my brain around how to talk about the challenge – or even how to pray about it.

I asked God, ““How do You want me to pray through this? What words can You give me to speak to this? How do I answer everyone’s, ‘How are you’s?’” In my kitchen, as I was cooking through the challenge, He gave me the words, “All is Well.” Those words led me to the story of the Shunammite woman who faced A Great Challenge.

In the middle of A Big Challenge, she didn’t emotionally break down, vent to those in her home, or call her friends. She saddled her donkey and journeyed straight to The Man of God, who was her direct line to God.

The Shunammite mother and wife didn’t shift her focus away from the one who could take care of this very hard challenge. Instead of stopping, laying it all out to everyone who would listen, she simply said, “All is well.”

Physically, mentally and spiritually, she moved progressively closer to The One who had the solution. The Shunammite woman didn’t know how the solution would be manifested. . . though she must have believed anything was possible with God. She continued moving closer and closer until she grabbed hold of The Man of God’s feet. . . and wouldn’t let go.

She just wanted all to be well again. She didn’t say how. She just knew He would make all well. During our challenge journey, God didn’t want me to put Him in a self-designed box of solutions. I felt that deeply. Every time I tried to pray, “Let there be no . . . (just put your own personal challenge scenario here: Infertility? Teen Challenges? Cancer, Diabetes, Heart and Health issues? Out of work? Dream Loss? Broken Family? Addiction?)” . . . every time I tried to speak the result I wanted, the words stopped before I could speak them. “All is Well” were the only words I could speak.

Friend, He has had the redeeming plan to each challenge since before we drew our first breath. He had a plan to love us Big. The Shunammite Woman showed much wisdom in not limiting how God would answer her prayer. Our knowledge and experience limit our vision of what can be because our knowledge and experience is limited, but God’s is not: God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s solutions to the hard challenges. The more we let go and let God, the more All is Well.

This is a 6X6 inch four-week devotional with 37 photos, along with an introductory story for each week. Journaling spaces are placed at the end of each week. It is separated into four weeks because there’s no pressure to do it in 28 days. Sometimes, you just need a week with Soul Food, not theological discussions. The size was chosen so it can easily slip into a handbag or backpack and not add to its weight – and it can easily be pulled out in a doctor’s office, a hospital room, even the car line at school. It’s a book form of what sustained me to keep my eyes focused on God during one of those hard challenges. I hope these scriptures and photos can help others in the same way they helped me.
“In the Middle of a Hard Challenge? Need to keep your heart, mind and soul focused on The One Fighting the Battle for you? Needing to live an “All is Well” faith when all doesn’t look well from where you are standing? If you need a minute to lose yourself in God’s kind of grace to help take your eyes off The Challenge and focus instead on God, then All is Well, Even Though. . . offers a daily refreshing minute to help you refocus, restrengthen, refresh your heart in The Hard Challenge. All is Well, Even Though . . . even though the figurative wolf comes, though the fever comes, though the storm comes, though the self-doubt comes. All is Well, Even Though. . . because God is there.” ~ All is Well, Maryleigh Bucher
All is Well is available on Amazon.
All is Wellbook

Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

, Nanahood

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Those baby bracelets with the misspelled name, the II signaling he was born second. . . no one ever realized satan had already made a move to destroy that precious life. Satan didn’t yet realize God already had the saving plan (Part I: When Easter, Passover, and Christmas Collide)

Part I of this series talked about how during the Christmas season – Christmas and Easter collided. Acutely grateful that our Savior was born and acutely grateful that He atoned for our sin so that His loving Father could gather us into His family – it wasn’t just a sweet story; it was life. It was hope. It was faith alive, a Father who would fight the battle because we were made His through His son!

Yes, Christmas and Easter collided, coming alive like never before.

Then The Passover came alive for us. The Power of the Blood of the Passover encircled, protected and saved.

“When the LORD passes through to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and the two side-posts and pass over the door; so He will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” ~ Exodus 12:23

Slowly, one by one, friends entered our prayer circle, people God sent who opened conversations with intentional interest, as a friend once called, “God-designed appointments.” Old friends, new friends, blogging friends that I knew would pray faith, hope, healing and miracles.

One friend sent me two books on “The Power of the Blood,” with her own personal experience praying that power in her own circumstances (The Blood and The Glory by Billye Brim, and The Power of the Blood by Carolyn Savelle). Like Salvation, it sounded too good to be true. Like Salvation – that I am saved because I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who was born of the virgin Mary, died for my sons, and on the third day, was resurrected – that I am saved now – I remember thinking, “No, that’s too easy. How did I not know that! It’s not a tally record two tallies for good marked only to have three taken away the next day.” My reaction to this was similar – it’s too easy. How did I recognize the power of the blood as a protective shield?

The blood of the lamb that covers my sin so that my Father can look upon me, come sit with me, protect me – the crucifixion sacrificial blood, I understood that, but my friend was talking about The Power of the Blood that shielded the Israelites the night the Angel of Death passed over those whose doors were covered with the blood of an unblemished lamb, the night of the Passover. That kind of Power of the Blood I had thought was just for that night, for the Israelites. I had compartmentalized it separately when it was not separate at all from the life-giving, salvation blood of our Savior.:

“They are to take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and tops of the doorframes of the houses in which they eat the lambs.” ~ Exodus 12:7

“Encircle your husband with the power of the blood,” she encouraged.

“Figurative – right?” I wrote back (I have literalist issues).


So we did, we prayed in the middle of our family room, before the TAVR procedure, before we realized the truth of the nodule discovered in the lung (though the doctors suspected it was cancer), we prayed that the same powerful blood that covered the doorposts for the Israelites would cover my husband – protecting, healing, freeing.


“All is Well” – we stood on that! All is Well – and the broken heart valve with the opening the size of a needle was crushed by a deployed new three-leaf valve. We were home the next day. A friend in the medical field pointed out that most likely, without his C-Pap device he had been using, he might not have made this far. We could only praise God’s amazing love and healing touch through these physicians.

He came home on a Monday and on Friday, the pulminologist biopsied the nodule. What she grabbed showed no cancer. “It still needs to come out,” she said, so we went to the surgeon. The surgeon pointed out that biopsies can be wrong, especially in hard-to-reach places like where this nodule had nestled in the lung. Lung surgery was schedule for the following Tuesday.

They’d take a section of his lobe, freeze the nodule and send it to the lab. “Within 15 minutes we’ll know if it’s cancerous or not. If it’s cancer, we’ll remove the entire lobe. If not, we’ll sew him up, and he’ll be home the next day.”

Every time, friend, I tried to pray that it not be cancer, and every time, God stopped me.

“I’ve got this,” He seemed to tell both of us, whether it is or isn’t cancer. He admonished me, “Don’t put me in a box. I can do so much more than you think is possible.”

Passover, my friend, came to our house, to the hospital, wherever my husband was, The Miracle of Passover was happening, the Power of the Blood encircled him, shielding him from the angel of death.

The night before lung surgery, I asked God, “How do I need to pray about this? Tell me what to say.”

He gave me this, “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians [cancer, broken down heart valves, whatever challenges being faced} whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.'” ~ Exodus 14: 13-14.

I’ve written before about how I grew up without the support of a father (herehere, here, and here) – but God that night drove home that He’d be in that waiting room with His girl, His beloved daughter. He’d take care of His girl – and if taking care of His girl, meant taking care of her husband – well, He’d do that, too. My father sent me on to bed – and met me at the hospital in the morning.

My husband and I held hands as he prayed the scriptures he’d established with the TAVR, and then I went out to wait. Being over 1 1/2 hours away, I encouraged my sons not to come until the surgery started. Until then, I sat in the waiting room, with my Father beside me, but not an untouchable, no-show, no-time-to-fight-for-you-father. Not a God set far off, reminding me of how unworthy I was.

Suddenly, I felt this Father God next to me, dressed for war – but not like King Arthur, or even King David. It was a John-Wayne kind of Father God who stood up beside me, saying, “No one! Not One is going to mess with My daughter’s dream – and if this young man is her dream, if it’s My girl’s dream to grow old with this young man and show those boys of hers what a marriage looks like as it ages with Her Dad as the centerpiece holding it all together – well. . . No one messes with what’s Mine!”

And I envisioned this John-Wayne like Warrior God with his rifle daring anyone to mess with His girl’s dream.

I realized then that He’s such a great Father God, that He’s not limited to being there with me – but He was with Keith, too, in that surgery. He was standing there with that John Wayne stance, his rifle resting across the crook of his arm, telling them, “Now do it right. . . ’cause My daughter – she wants him healthy and whole, and I’m here to make sure you do just that.”

Maybe that’s offended some of you – likening God to John Wayne characters – but for a girl who never had a father fight for her, doesn’t really know what that looks like, that Thursday in February – that’s what it looked like to me. It made me smile, tear up and courage up! My Dad was fighting for us!

The boys showed up right after that. We waited with calm, hopeful expectation that God had this – cancer or not.

During surgery, we received a call we were expecting on whether they were going to sew him up (No Cancer) or continue for another hour or so removing the entire lobe and lymph nodes. Holding my phone, a perky little nurse on the other side sounded like she was telling me I had won the lottery, “We’re removing the lobe.”  In the natural, we hadn’t won the lottery – if not for God, we hadn’t. That little nodule was cancer, Adeno Cancer, the most common cancer among non-smokers.

We were in the hospital for six days. Recovery wasn’t as easy. The NP told us as she removed the draining tube before he went home the removal was the worst thing he would feel from then on. She was wrong. The day he went home, he experienced massive muscle spasms in his chest that lasted for two to three more days. Pain medication was ineffective. It was a hard week, much harder than we expected.

But, friends, it was a miracle. “All is well!” The mistake from the year before, where he wasn’t notified about “severe aortic stenosis” – it was part of God’s plan. I asked the pulminologist, “Would they have found the nodule last year? In the surgery pre-testing?”

“Probably not,” she said. “It would have been too small or it might not have been there at all.”

God had a plan – and seeming mistakes are sometimes part of the plan.

If I had put God in a box – and asked that my husband be cancer free – the pieces wouldn’t have fit together to show The Miracle.

Because the nodule of cancer was caught so early, he doesn’t need treatment. Just follow-ups every six months for two years – and then every year. If it doesn’t return after five years, this cancer doesn’t come back.

But the story doesn’t stop there.

Nine days after we returned home, we were back in the hospital with an infection in the lining of the remaining lung. A fever, an infection, a white blood count of 25,000.

Throughout the entire journey I hadn’t experienced fear – not during the TAVR, not during the lobectomy – except for one time while we were in the hospital for the infection. I’d been sitting wrapped up in my blanket on the chair that folds into a bed. Outside it was grayness and rain. All January and February, if we were in Nashville for hospital stays, it was grayness and rain – and as I sat there during the third hospital stay, with his fever climbing, it seemed like a veil opened up that was surrounding us, and I saw fear and death outside that veil, waiting to come in.

When I felt/saw fear and death, I immediately looked to God – and the veil closed.

The angel of death was passing over where we were. The Power of the Blood shielded my husband, saving him.

The Passover came alive for us. Yes, the Power of our Savior’s blood, the perfect sacrifice to not just cover our sins, but to encircle us, protect us. All because The Son of God was willing to be born a helpless baby in a manager. All because The Son of God was willing to be Salvation for humanity.

A No Cancer result seems like it would have been easier – it’s easier to live by faith if there’s nothing really to challenge you to believe. An easy path on a hike often means you don’t have to focus so intently on the one you are following. I would never have known what it felt like to have a Dad who fought for me. I would never have learned to cling to God, learned what it is like under His wing if I hadn’t sought shelter from the storm. I would never have learned about The Power of the Blood if we hadn’t needed to be shielded from the angel of death.

All we had to do was to keep our eyes on God, trust and believe! When fear tried to steal in, I turned my eyes to my Father. When doubt tried to muscle in to my thoughts, I turned my thoughts to my Father, the one who had The Plan, an All is Well Plan.

Like I said in the beginning of this series, if you’re going through a challenge, this post is for you. Maybe it’s a teen challenge, a fertility challenge, an over-the-edge exhaustion challenge, maybe it’s a health challenge – your own or one you love.

Maybe it’s a financial challenge, a dream challenge,  a broken-down car challenge, academic or behavior challenge, a heart-breaking challenge.

Do Not Qualify Your Challenge, don’t compare, quantify, or measure,  don’t shut off conversation because it’s not the exact challenge. Challenges are challenges – they stretch the heart, stretch faith and hope; they frustrate, hurt and, yes, grow us. Sometimes they don’t turn out according to our expectations. Yet, in each challenge, God is the same.

As a child of God, though, the course of action is the same, regardless of the challenge: keeping our eyes on the one who can walk us through the challenge, protecting us, helping us, and, at times, carrying us. Whatever your challenge is, this story was for you, too – where Christmas, Easter and The Passover come alive!


Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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If you’re going through a challenge, this post is for you. Maybe it’s a teen challenge, a fertility challenge, an over-the-edge exhaustion challenge, maybe it’s a health challenge – your own or one you love.

Maybe it’s a financial challenge, a dream challenge,  a broken-down car challenge, academic or behavior challenge, a heart-breaking challenge.

There’s only one rule for further reading: Do Not Qualify Your Challenge, don’t compare, quantify, or measure,  don’t shut off conversation because it’s not the exact challenge. Challenges are challenges – they stretch the heart, stretch faith and hope; they frustrate, hurt and, yes, grow us. In each challenge, God is the same.

As a child of God, though, the course of action is the same, regardless of the challenge: keeping our eyes on the one who can walk us through the challenge, protecting us, helping us, and, at times, carrying us. Whatever your challenge is, this story is for you, too.

In just a few days, we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of our Savior who died to save us – to save us from a life of separation from the Father. He became the forever sacrifice, his spilled blood covering our sin so that our creator, our Father, could look upon us, his children, pull us into his embrace, and walk with us homeward.

December 20th, my husband and I started a journey, where Christmas, Passover and Easter collided and burst alive, bringing into sharpened focus what it is to believe. it. all. And in the believing watch the writer of our story unveil a plot designed to shorten his life before my husband took his first breath.

December 20th, Christmas  time

. . . a mistake just realized. . . .

Noticing a discrepancy between his heart rate when kayaking and walking, when my husband went for his annual physical, he was referred to a cardiologist he’d seen the year before. When he returned from the heart visit, he told me there was a problem.

There’d been a mistake.

The tests from the year before hadn’t been forwarded to the primary care doctor – and no one had notified him. Last year’s test results showed severe aortic stenosis. He needed a heart valve replacement. He was only 59 years old.

He came home without a description of what a heart event would look like – or what we were supposed to do in a heart event. I wanted a manual with step-by-step directions. I wanted to be prepared. I felt like we’d been handed a time bomb that could go off at any minute.

I wasn’t willing to wait around. I’m pro-active.  He was in to his primary care doctor in 30 minutes. Surely there was a mistake, we thought. Wrong file? Wrong name? Wrong person? My friend’s 94 year old father’s aortic valve was replaced the year before – this is something that should have been 40 years down the road.

At 4:28 that afternoon, after not hearing anything further, I called to make an appointment with my friend’s father’s cardiologist at St. Thomas Heart in Nashville, two minutes to closing. The receptionist listened to the story – I hung up  with an appointment for two days later with the promise of a referral following.

We weren’t ready to tell our sons – not until further information was accurately gathered and a plan formulated. Besides, it was Christmas.

“Who’ve you told?” he asked, seeing my sheepish expression. Well, my friend who gave me the name of the new cardiologist.

Another friend drove over with a smaller Christmas Tree cookie cutter that evening. When I walked out to her car and she handed it to me, I burst into tears – so two people knew.

Two people God sent across my path who believed in the power of prayer, who believed that God still heals, still does miracles, still answers the prayers of his children.

God knew I would need to keep my hands and heart busy on the day  in-between.  We were surprised but He wasn’t. . . He was already steps ahead of what we knew. . . which is why weeks earlier he’d dropped this idea into my heart to build friendship, to fill my home and heart, to mix, bake and find space for laughter.

I baked a hundred cookies that night, with dough for 50 more. You see, I’d invited a family with as many kiddos as mine over to decorate cookies. . . the day before the cardiologist visit  – cookies to take to a local assisted living at lunch time to share and sing Christmas songs. We cut out more cookies, talked birth order personalities, baked some more, talked spiritual gifts, laughed, made icing, had fun with decorating points, made a huge mess, and delivered the results with Christmas songs and time spent with the residents.

christmascookiescThe new cardiologist diffused the time bomb and scheduled further testing January 2nd to solidify the plan for an aortic heart valve replacement.

Another in-between, another wait. My husband had complete peace; I baked: my grandmother’s coffee cakes, Christmas cake, modjeskas  and bourbon balls, Christmas casseroles, and hot chocolate. I measured, stirred, whipped, baked, washed the measuring spoons and cups, the mixer, the pans over and over. . . and kept my focus on the one leading us through this journey. . . . and thankfulness for the reason for Christmas steeped the in-between, the wait, thankfulness the son of the king agreed to come down from his throne, be born a baby in a manger. . .

Yet, just as quickly as I thanked God for the birth of his son, I was thanking Him for Easter, for the crucifixion and resurrection, for the sacrifice of the unblemished lamb whose shed blood would cover my sin so God would be able to look upon his children – to love, fight, protect, heal each of us, to hear our prayers, know our fears and abate them, save us from Satan’s attacks.

“The sun has finally come, heralding the hope of the Christmas Season! This seeming constant rain and darkness has been a reminder of life without the birth of our Savior – and this sunshine drives home the symbolism of the saving hope He brings and what this celebration is really about! Wishing you and all you walk among the saving hope born of Christmas!” ~ December 24th, Instagram

A couple of challenges ago, I learned not to hold my breath in the wait of a prayer sent out. Breath-holding until the challenge has passed isn’t trusting God. There’s no peace in it, no fully living with a breath-holding mentality. God leaves such precious blessing in the wait of a prayer sent out, but when we live holding our breath, pausing until the prayer  is answered, we miss the blessings. The most important part of living happens in the hard wait, so I breathed in, “Lord, Jesus Christ” and breathed out, “Have mercy on us.” Breathing Jesus in. Breathing mercy out.

Intentional living, intentional loving, intentional focusing on the one who had the map to this journey. . . The Christmas gifts we gave weren’t all spot on. The stockings looked like a slackard elf put them together. Everything seemed a step off except for when my focus  was on the one who held both of us by the hand and guided us.

It was an I Believe Christmas. . . 
run smack into an Easter resurrection. . .

Maybe that’s what everyday living should be – a collision of Christmas and Easter in a come alive way.

lakeleafcWe decided before Christmas to tell the boys on Bucher Family Hat Day, January 1. I think it took a while to process this significant health challenge, to solidify how we were going to walk this forward, and finding the words to use to express and encase this challenge.

At no point did Keith ever doubt what the outcome would be: God had this! He didn’t doubt it for a moment.

My heart’s desire, maybe it’s my mission statement, is to show the boys what marriage looks like as we grow old with God as the center of that relationship. January 1 we were ready to tell our boys, to lead them forward through this challenge as God led us. They were about to realize marriage with God as the center isn’t challenge free but faith full.

Living over 1 1/2 hours from every major city, including downtown Nashville, we experienced a lot of drive time at 4:3 a.m. for the next 8 weeks. January 2 began a series of tests: a TEE, and heart catheterization were the big ones.

His arteries were great. My cooking did not cause the problem. It wasn’t that he’d eaten the wrong diet, not exercised enough, not lived the right kind of life style – whatever that may be.

He was born with a two-leaf heart valve (bi-cuspid), instead of a three-leaf heart valve (tri-cuspid). He was born destined for a life cut short. A genetic issue, our sons will need to be tested eventually.

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy – he does it slyly, a sneak-thief thinking he can outsmart God: switching three-leaf heart valves with two is just one way. If we put our heads together, I imagine we could fill a book with a list full of ways Satan tries to interfere with God’s kids. Yet, no matter how Satan tries to interfere, God isn’t just a few moves ahead. He’s already implemented the steps for the win.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
   I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
   My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
   Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them” ~ Psalm 130: 13-16

The heart-valve study chooses the procedure for valve replacement: open heart surgery or the TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve implantation). One is very uncomfortable with an eight week recovery, while the other requires only an overnight hospital stay.  The study chose open heart surgery, and within six months was no longer an option. The procedure needed to be done quickly because since last year’s sonogram, the aortic valve was now critical, the opening the size of a needle.

A mistake had been made a year before. . . or had it. . .

The birth and resurrection had never seemed so closely connected.

Rummaging through Keith’s top drawer, I found his hospital baby identification bracelets. His mom and dad had no idea they were expecting twins. The story is a sweet one.

Dr. Mahaffey came out to tell Lloyd, my father-in-law, he had a healthy baby girl. Some minutes later he came out again and congratulated him on a son.

“But Dr. Mahaffey, you just told me I had a girl. Don’t you know which? Is it a boy or a girl?” my father-in-law, 25, asked.

“Son, you have one of each,” the kindly old doctor said, at which point, Lloyd slid down the hospital wall in shock.

They still laugh about the audacity of how Dr. Mahaffey charged double for the two: $75 a piece.

Those baby bracelets with the misspelled name, the II signaling he was born second. . . no one ever realized satan had already made a move to destroy that precious life. Satan didn’t yet realize God already had the saving plan.

As we stepped deeper into this “All is well” journey, one by one, God sent people across our path who stopped for real conversation, whose “How are you doing” wasn’t just a hand-off greeting, people who still believed miracles happen, that the power of God overcomes. I also invited a hand full of women I’d written with in the blogging community for years, women with a heart for intercession to pray with us. 

Slowly, a small brigade formed, praying with us for complete healing, for unflagging strength and courage for the journey, to encourage us to keep our eyes focused on the one who works those miracles, who heals the broken places, who has the best battle plans and wins.

This small brigade were the Aaron and Hurs in the hard of the challenge.

So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword” (Exodus 17: 8-13).

These intercessors who believed with us: “All is well!”

During the pre-tests for open heart surgery, a nodule was found in his lung. The plan changed. Though the PET scan was borderline inconclusive, the pulmonologist thought it was Adeno cancer. An eight week recovery was out of the question. Open heart surgery was switched for the TAVR to be followed by a biopsy followed by lung surgery.

I asked God how I needed to pray. He sent me to 2 Kings 4: 8-37, the story of the Shunammite wife and mother whose son had fallen ill and died. She didn’t wail and tell the world of her challenge, her grief, her fear or heart-break. She just said, “All is well.”

“All is well”  I said as we followed him.

Severe aortic stenosis? “All is well”

Nodule in the lung? Cancer? “All is well”

How are you doing? “All is well”

All is well!

The Passover just collided with Christmas and Easter.

That mistake? It wasn’t a mistake after all. . .

(The rest of the story in Part II: When Easter, Passover and Christmas Collide

and All is Well. . . Even Though Devotional)



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“Happily Ever After” – the stuff of fairy tales? Maybe “Happily Ever After” is living fully as Daughter of the King, knowing whose we are, knowing how He sees us – and knowing that whatever the challenge, no matter the challenge’s bigness or littleness, no matter the pain of walking through it. . .

My Dad’s going to make sure I know He’s there,
My Dad sees me, even when I’m hiding, misbehaving, or crying in the closet,
A refuge, my Dad tucks me under his wing when the challenges threaten to beat me up. Yeah! My Dad has wings!
My prayers whether whispered, written in small handwriting, or spoken awkwardly? My Dad listens intently anytime, anyplace, for any reason – and He always answers in His Best time in ways I never imagined. 
My Dad meets me when I call out to Him. Always! I never have to wait on Him, though, sadly, I often make him wait.
My Dad shepherds me on the paths I need to take – and teaches me to walk those paths with a heart for forgiveness.
When I’m crushed or broken-hearted, my Dad doesn’t just come alongside – He makes sure I am not crushed.
My Dad shows me how to love my brothers and sisters – and the ones who don’t know He’s their Dad.

Maybe that is the Happily Ever After in the Fairy Tales. Maybe it is the story with the redeemer Father taking care of His daughter after saving her. The challenges don’t change because that is life this side of heaven – but who I go through the challenges with – That is the Happily Ever After, the hope, the faith, the Father-God in it.

My God who made himself known to me became My Father who made himself known to me.

My Dad loves it when I come to him, am honest with Him about my struggles, with how I feel in the struggle, with my confusion sometimes in trying to understand Him or His plan – He loves it because until I’m honest to Him about how I feel, He really cannot begin the process of fixing the broken places. I am so glad I told Him.

I am my Dad’s beloved daughter – wanted, planned for – and one day, I will hear Him say the name He picked out for me.

My Dad told me He had a whole healthy girl for me.
All the while, He meant me.
He means, you, too.

Part I: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: A Broken Daughter
Part II: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: God Becoming Father
Part III: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: Learning to Live as Beloved Daughter


Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Read Full Post »

brokenurncc1(I’m not going to qualify or quantify my story by trying to prove to you that my brokenness was worthy of God’s healing – I am just going to tell you of the part of the journey of one of God’s girls being made whole.)

For the first 36 years of my life, God had gradually revealed himself to me:

  • First as the God who made himself known to me.
  • Then God who sees me, even when I’m hiding, misbehaving, even when no one else sees me.
  • . . . as The God who is There (He is not a God who walks out, abandons His children)
  • I didn’t know God could be a refuge, but I saw a father should.
  • He was The God who answers prayers.
  • The God who meets me anytime, anyplace, for any reason.
  • My God, My shepherd guiding me on the paths I need to take.
  • My God, my Shepherd teaching me to develop a heart for forgiveness.
  • My God coming alongside my broken-hearted self.
  • My God stopping my heart from being crushed.

I had been searching for God. . . and I found my Father.

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

At the end of Part II Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: God Becoming Father, I didn’t just realize whose I was but who I was – a daughter of the King – a realization that came alive all the way down to my soul toes.

Happily Ever After? Right? I’m a Daughter of the King – and, like any princess in a fairy tale who has been kidnapped from her rightful place, saved after much suffering, and returned to the place she belongs – life resumes to a happily-ever-after rhythm. Right. . . . Right?

A Daughter of the King! – The knowledge of it was alive in my soul! I finally knew whose I was! I knew that . . . . but there was a gap between knowing and a lifetime of no father memories, no father words, no father hugs, no father fighting for me – just empty space where memories should be. My love language is words of affirmation – those missing words were really more missed than the hugs.

There were days I really missed having an earthly father who was tangibly there for me, who would look out for me in this “Happily Ever After.” The song “Butterfly Kisses” tore me up – I didn’t have that kind of dad who loved his girl like that – and, oh, friends, how I yearned for that kind of father-daughter relationship. I just wasn’t feeling it as a Daughter of the King.

I remember working on my rose bushes, talking to God, saying, “O.K. God. I get it. I really don’t want the mail man showing up saying ‘I’m your dad.’” That just might be more trouble than it’s worth. I know you’re the best dad ever – but, God, I’m really needing something down here. I’m struggling.”

In the rose bushes, I laid it all out –  I poured out exactly how I felt—the fear, the doubt (I believe; help my unbelief), the tangible feeling that my heart—my literal heart—felt like it was going to give out, the honest inability to talk my way through or find the solution through sheer determination and smartness—the soul shattered—because it is only when I am honest with Him about my soul condition—that He can truly save me—because only then can I allow myself to be saved – and in the saving, be made whole.

All those years ago when I’d asked him,  “Show me how to love you like I used to when I was little,” He was just waiting for the invitation – and he took me on a journey that opened my heart to that kind of love again – only better.

That day in the roses, with candid honesty, no blame – I told him how I was struggling. It was like a daughter telling her dad, she’d failed him—just wasn’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough. .  . . and all the while the daughter didn’t realize she hadn’t failed her father; the daughter’s timeline for wholeness was not her father’s timeline for wholeness. She didn’t realize her Father had long before seen her need and had already put everything in place for mending part of her broken self.

I don’t remember how long after I said that prayer a speaker came to our church one night. My husband was in the soundbooth, and I’d arrived just in time with four sons (that’s all we had then).

I scooted into a seat, when the speaker said, “Pull out your bibles.” I remember thinking, “Oh, No! It’s at home,” and feeling a small victory as I thought wryly, “But at least I got here with all these boys. ”

A white-haired, white-bearded man sitting a little further down the pew stretched his arm toward me, handing me his bible, with a gorgeous leather carved covering, engraved in exquisite detail.  I shook my head to decline his generosity. The family I came from would never have trusted so beautiful a book to a frazzled woman with a passel of boys. It might get ruined. The gentleman accepted none of my polite declining – and handed me his beautiful Bible.

Amazed, I accepted his generosity.

urnc2. . . and just like the day I was getting my nails done (See Part II), God infused my soul with a life-changing truth, another big reveal in this divine redesign, the master potter  using Kintsugi to the broken pieces of my soul. Kintsugi is “the centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with Gold.” When mended with Kintsugi, the previously broken pottery is not only more beautiful but stronger.

This stranger handed me his bible – in the same way a father would have handed it to his daughter.

This truth started making connections to other moments of generosity over the past two years, examples of how God had been giving me Father Words through other people. (***At no point did anyone expect/ask anything in return – only Father Words were given. When God delivers blessings to us at the hands of man payment is NOT expected).

  • We’d been building our dream house, contracting out the workers and doing a lot of work ourselves. Let me tell you, the first time drywall has been painted is a lot more time-consuming than “re-doing” a paint job. As soon as the drywall craftsman (who was old enough to be my dad) finished sanding and drying, I painted. We’d debate politics and God. I kept trying to talk him into relationship with God. Every now and then, when I was paining, he’d check out how I was doing. More often than not, he’d say, “That’s now how you roll.” Then he’d take the paint roller – and show me how for about a quarter of the wall. One day during our debates, he said something that made me mad. I kept painting while he went for lunch. When he came back, he’d picked some flowers from the field next to the house and handed them to me. The drywaller, the one I kept trying to save, simply said “You’re a good kid. I’m sorry I made you mad.” The debates, drywalling and painting continued. But this man, who didn’t believe in God – was used by God to give me Father Words.

God’s Kintsugi, a broken soul piece mended, the Holy Spirit poured like hot gold filling the cracks and chipped seams. I am no longer too proud  or ashamed for God to pick up the broken pieces of myself, to mend what I cannot mend.

  • A Mennonite grandfather built our stairs and mantles.  He was paid hourly – and he probably had the highest pay per hour of many of the workers. So exact was he at his craft, that he rarely had more than an inch of scrap. I’d bring him coffee thinking to speed him up (you know – the hourly costs). He’d thank me for the coffee, but the coffee never increased his steady work speed. Each morning I’d bring coffee, and each morning he checked out work the plumbers, electricians and et al had completed the day before and advise me on what needed attention (either re-doing or re-checking). This man, who was just there to build stairs and mantles–was used by God to give me a father memory of a dad looking out for his girl.

God’s Kintsugi, another broken piece mended, the Holy Spirit poured like hot gold filling the cracks and chipped seams.

  • A couple at church became my spiritual mom and dad. My boys loved them. Everett on a Sunday morning, Sunday Evening or Wednesday service would say, “Maryleigh, you look lovely today! Keith – have you told Maryleigh how lovely she looks today.” At first, I didn’t know how to receive these Father Words because I’d never had them before – let me tell you, friends, do not discount the idea that a girl gets her self-image from the words her father gives her. I didn’t know how to receive them, though I knew he meant them honorably, fatherly. . . but once I understood, I was able to receive them as blessing, as words of a father to his daughter.

Broken piece after broken piece, God’s Kintsugi mends, the Holy Spirit poured like hot gold filling the cracks and chipped seams.

Such little things, you might think. Some might think derisively that these were crumbs being treated as gold nuggets. Others might be embarrassed at a soul starving in a love poverty caused by fatherlessness.  A beggar taking scraps and counting them a feast. Maybe they are – but whatever these incidents were – my soul felt filled, satisfied of Father things.

Broken piece after broken piece, God’s Kintsugi mends, the Holy Spirit poured like hot gold filling the cracks and chipped seams. 

That night, when the white-haired, white-bearded man handed me his bible, and God opened my eyes to the Father Words He’d been giving me, even before I asked him that day in the roses, the broken girl within felt less broken.

Broken piece after broken piece, God’s Kintsugi mends, the Holy Spirit poured like hot gold filling the cracks and chipped seams. Piece by broken piece, He remakes me more beautiful and stronger than I was before.

A few years passed–a Sunday morning found us sitting left rather than right. In the pew before us sat the white-haired, white-bearded man with his beautiful leather-covered bible.

During Praise and Worship, God dropped the idea into my head that I needed to let him know what his simple generosity had done for me.

God kept nudging me, “Tell Him.” We nudged, God and I, back and forth, He persistently in His, “You need to tell him.”

“He’ll think I’m nuts,”  I countered back.

The persistence of God won. My boys sometimes think I’m crazy when I step out and do things God tells me to do. I’ve learned heed His nudgings. It might look crazy to the world – but the results are anything but.

My husband, well, God knew just exactly the man I needed. He’d come to accept my out-of-the-box ways. He stood by me as I talked after the service to the white-haired, white-bearded, telling him how his simple act of generosity of spirit had opened my eyes to what God was trying to show me:  the love of a father.

It was such a simple act of kindness, sharing his bible, that he had no recollection.

Friend, I would never have told him if I knew what he was going to say in response: First he showed me his bible – it was the same one, a beautiful work of craftsmanship: “I make these bible covers. And I make them for whoever God tells me to make them. God told me today that there would be a couple here I was supposed to make these for. I thought it was for a couple that usually sits over there,” he said pointing a few rows up to the right. “They aren’t here today, so I believe he meant me to make them for you.”

At that moment, he turned to my husband and said, “When God tells me to make a bible cover for one person, I always make one for their spouse, too.”

He then pulled out a binder and asked us to choose the art work we wanted. While we were looking through his drawings, he measured our bibles.

My husband chose a minimalist cover. My favorite drawing was a cover with lots of flowers and an angel holding a lamb on the front, with flowers and a dove on the back. It was labor intensive.

I was battling. . . .What? Guilt? Unworthiness? Unfairness in asking him to spend so much of his time on someone he didn’t know? An orphan mentality of not knowing how to receive a father’s lavish love? Was it this kind of mentality that God spent 40 years in the desert trying to work out of the children of Israel?

The man saw my conflict – and said kindly, encouragingly, “Choose the one you want. He wants you to have the one you like.”

. . . with those words, something spoke to my soul saying, “Your father would spare no time or challenge to do this, or anything for you – do not diminish the blessing gift I am giving  you. Choose  the one your heart desires.”

bible2I did choose the one I thought was so beautiful, the labor-intensive one because a father does not count the cost to lavish his children with love. I had to learn to live like a beloved daughter.

“Happily Ever After” – the stuff of fairy tales? Maybe “Happily Ever After” is living fully as Daughter of the King, knowing whose we are, to know how He sees us – and knowing that whatever the challenge, no matter the challenge’s bigness or littleness, no matter the pain of walking through it

My Dad’s going to make sure I know He’s there,
My Dad sees me, even when I’m hiding, misbehaving, or crying in the closet,
A refuge, my Dad tucks me under his wing when the challenges threaten to beat me up. Yeah! My Dad has wings!
My prayers whether whispered, written in small handwriting, or spoken awkwardly? My Dad listens intently anytime, anyplace, for any reason – and He always answers in His Best time in ways I never imagined. 
My Dad meets me when I call out to Him. Always! I never have to wait on Him, though, sadly, I often make him wait.
My Dad shepherds me on the paths I need to take – and teaches me to walk those paths with a heart for forgiveness.
When I’m crushed or broken-hearted, my Dad doesn’t just come alongside – He makes sure I am not crushed.
My Dad shows me how to love my brothers and sisters – and the ones who don’t know He’s their Dad.

Maybe that is the Happily Ever After in the Fairy Tales. Maybe it is the story with the redeemer Father taking care of His daughter after saving her. The challenges don’t change because that is life this side of heaven – but who I go through the challenges with – That is the Happily Ever After, the hope, the faith, the Father-God in it.

My God who made himself known to me became My Father who made himself known to me.

My Dad loves it when I come to him, am honest with Him about my struggles, with how I feel in the struggle, with my confusion sometimes in trying to understand Him or His plan – He loves it because until I’m honest to Him about how I feel, He really cannot begin the process of fixing the broken places. I am so glad I told Him.


Part I: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: A Broken Daughter
Part II: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: God Becoming Father
Part III: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: Learning to Live as Beloved Daughter
Part IV: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: A Whole Healthy Daughter

Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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brokenurncc1When my husband and I married, we had one car, no phone or t.v.. We didn’t have gas for three months because it took a $150 deposit. As full-time college students, we just didn’t have that kind of money. Plus, we wanted to do this on our own – marriage meant being financially independent of your parents. For those three months, we didn’t have hot water. I learned you cannot warm enough soup pans filled with water on a stove to make a hot bath.

When we finally paid the money for the gas, we had hot water, but winter came. The guys renting the downstairs of the old house turned off their heat when they went home for Christmas. We used that soup pan filled with boiling water to pour down the toilet, to unthaw the pipes so we could flush.

“We’re going to look back on these days as the best of times,” my Forever Man said. I remember thinking that I hoped there’d be hot water and toilets that flushed in the winter ahead of us! Love and a sense of humor were the must-haves in our marriage – and this striving together to find God.

My husband graduated first, and shortly after we moved into a new apartment with a phone, a television and hot water! WooHoo! We still had just one car. After my classes, I’d pick him up for work. He says he always had to wait on me, but I remember an awful lot of waiting in the early dark winter afternoons, waiting for him to come out. During one of those long waits, I remember asking God to show me how to love him like I did when I was little.

I learned He is the God who meets me when I call out.

That’s all God was waiting for – an invitation to relationship, an invitation for Him to work with the broken places inside me. Sometime in the next year, I watched a Billy Graham crusade on t.v. My grandmother, a staunch Catholic, always watched his crusades. I watched, called the number, and rededicated my life, committing myself further.  Unlike the little girl in the closet who recognized God as someone more powerful, someone to be respected, and the need to behave in his presence, this dedication was different.

Like the knight humbling himself before his liege lord. The knight willing chooses to come under the authority of the one into whose hands he gives all he is, all he owns and all he will be. While the knight might not recognize the true cost of his pledge, he understands it to the best of his knowledge at that time. I understood him to be God, my creator. At that time, I really didn’t understand – or believe – He was Father to My Daughter. Or maybe I didn’t understand what it was to have A Good, Good Father to My Daughter.

I was ready to exchange empty pride (preservation of ego) for humbleness.  Madeline L’Engle writes in “A Circle of Quiet,” “Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.” I was ready to throw myself away in complete concentration on The One who Created me.

I know that saying it outloud to someone else was crucial, that phone call was a dying-to-self moment.

He was the God under whose Banner I wanted to live – and He made a place for me under His banner. I was under the banner, but didn’t understand – I had an out-side-looking-in, orphan mentality. I really had no concept of what it was like to be a daughter loved, valued and protected by her father – but I knew God was a good God who saw me, who heard my prayers and acted on those prayers, and who would one day judge me.

A year after that, our oldest son was born. My husband and I were baptized. St. Augustine points out that the only difference between the Christian and the Unbeliever is not the challenges we face, for we both face the same challenges. The difference is in who we face the challenge with (God with me) – and the hope and faith we carry into that challenge – because of whose we are.

I held one child in my arms, year after year — he grew — and month after month, I grieved. 48 months, 48 “No’s.” Desolation snowballed into a downward spiral that drained me physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Secondary infertility was my diagnosis: the inability to conceive after the first child. Sarah, Rebekkah, Elizabeth, Rachael, Hannah, the barren woman — they became my soul sisters. I understood their cry — and I rejoiced in their answered prayers. I sat at their feet, looking for behavior solutions in their stories. . . because God heard their cries and answered their prayers – maybe not in the plot form they wanted, but He answered them in His best way.

  • Sarah and Abraham encouraged accountability in their relationship — story after story of each enabling the other’s weaknesses drove that home.
  • Isaac took his problem directly to God — the only recorded time of him going directly to God was this one time, when he asked God for Rebekkah to conceive. It showed me the mighty power of a praying husband.
  • Hannah unabashedly spilled her heart out in front of everyone, passionately emptying it for her God.
  • Elizabeth, having grown reconciled to her barrenness, showed us how to rejoice in God’s surprises.
  • Rachael cried out for a child to make her look good. Leah wanted to win her husband’s love by giving him sons — and found God’s mighty, fulfilling love. And, the barren woman’s house was filled, probably because she opened herself up to relationship and reliance on God.

I mined these stories for clues to solve my problem. Because God had not given me what I asked for, I assumed it was a conditional behavior issue. God was waiting for me to behave a certain way before He would grant my request. I was like the mouse trying to find the magic button that released the cheese — and none of the buttons I pushed released my cheese.

To compound that, I was an obsessive thinker, constantly searching for solutions. Obsessive thinking starts on the outside — can I work harder, eat healthier, study more, be skinnier, find a new theory, a new treatment — all the solutions are outside based. Outside solution failure turns the obsessive thinker inside — maybe I am not good enough, do not pray enough, believe enough, or am not important enough to God.

But God does not work like that. God does not love conditionally. I am not the mouse to his cheese. God wanted a heart connection. Those bible stories? Meaningless without a God relationship. I knew what I thought I wanted, but without relationship with my Father, I could not know what He wanted for me. I had to take my mind off the plot and seek to know the author.

“Commit your way to the Lord, and trust in him, and he will do it.” (Psalm 25: 5, New Advent Bible)

A Christian friend, who was more intimate with God at that time, advised me during a particular moment of emotional crisis, “Ask Him to take the desire away if having another child is not His will.” I had to take everything off the table, so to speak — my dream, my desire.

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

And, I did — I asked my Father to take the desire away — if this dream was not His dream for my life. Like Abraham’s willingness to give up Isaac, I needed to be more committed to His plan for my life, than my plan, my desire, my dream. Though at that time I did not realize how much He loved me, who I really was to Him, I gave Him my heart’s desire.

And He gave it back — abundantly. Our second and third sons were born, via fertility specialists.

My God, my Shepherd, guides me on the paths I needed to take.

We were praying selflessly for someone’s healing – and we believe that something in that selfless prayer fell on us – We found ourselves expecting our fourth child, a one in a million chance, the specialists had said. Six weeks into a pregnancy we weren’t supposed to be able to have, we had a miscarriage. Our heart’s broke.

Somewhere in all this I had already forgiven my dad who had never met my boys. Forgiveness is like grieving– you cry, get angry– and then you forgive. It’s like a gift you have for someone – and, in the best case scenario – that person comes to receive it. Worst case scenario – they never come to get it. It’s only our job to give it. The receiving is up to them.  After I’d forgiven, I found I could live with the regret of what could have been.

My God, My Shepherd, teaching me to develop a heart for forgiveness.

Forgiving doesn’t heal the broken places – but it’s the first step in allowing God to fix the broken places. God had been softening the clay of my soul, readying it remake it better than before all the brokenness.

Then came Gracie. Another one-in-a-million pregnancy. Maybe it would be a girl, I thought, a chance for a part of me to be whole. During the beginning of the pregnancy, I got a call that my father, 56 years old, was dying. He wasn’t really interested in seeing me, though. I hadn’t seen him since the 1980s. I took my two youngest to visit him. He was more interested what food I could bring him. Shortly after my visit, he died – and the same week, my baby’s heart stopped beating. Her trisomy number was too low. These babies don’t usually survive to be seen – much less live inuteror four months. I didn’t find out for about two more weeks, at my check up. Because I was so far along, my doctor sent me to Nashville for a D&E. I didn’t find out for a few years what the exact nature of the procedure – and I’m glad I didn’t know. It broke my heart when I found out.

Before I left the hospital, the nurse cautioned my husband to be vigilant with me near the due date – to watch for depression, to make sure I was eating – because my body would remember what should have been.  I wonder if they tell women who are having abortions that their body will remember the due date – and it will grieve.

My God, My comforter was next to my broken-hearted self.

At my six week check up, as I was walking out, I realized I had forgotten to ask if my baby had been a boy or girl. Standing in the hallway, the nurse ruffled through my chart and said, “It’s a girl.” My heart dropped. I can still remember the feeling. Then a voice behind me said, “I have a whole, healthy girl planned for you.” The voice was so audible, I turned around to see who spoke those words to me – but no one was there. . . . no one was there. . . .

My God, My Strength stopped my heart from being crushed.

You see, I’d always wanted a girl – not because of the dresses, the tea parties, the girly girl stuff. I’d wanted a girl because I thought, well, I couldn’t be whole – what with my parents divorce – and their issues – so maybe I could have a daughter who would be whole – who would have both her mom and dad love her, be there for her, fight for her, provide security from the chaotic world, encourage her – you know – all the things the traditional family unit is designed to do – everything I saw from the outside of other families looking in, everything I was doing with my own traditional family.

Crushed is a good word to describe how I felt. I came face to face with my brokenness. Forgiveness didn’t make me whole but it had opened my soul door to allow God to come in, to take the broken pottery of my soul – and remake it better, stronger, more perfectly his plan.

God started working on this deep broken place in me. Around my due date, a little girl in the nursery wanted me to hold her the entire time. She looked what I thought our little girl would look like – white-blonde hair, except she had blue eyes, not green. When I came home, I told my husband how she looked how Gracie would have looked – and then I started crying, crying deeper than the loss of my little girl, crying all the way to the bottom of my soul toes. I’ve never cried like that before. . . it was the cry born of the soul pain of the brokenness of this daughter without a father. Gracie’s loss made me face that loss, made me realize that I had put inappropriate expectations on this little girl to heal the brokenness, to make me whole.

The next day, I called the church explaining I needed to take a break from the two year olds, and then I went to get my nails done. God shows up in the everyday ordinary. That’s where some of the most profound miracles and breakthroughs happen –  in the everyday ordinary. For some reason, I started telling the nail technician I went to church with what happened the night before.

A lady I didn’t know was sitting, waiting for her to finish with me, listening and talking, too. As I talked about what happened the night before, the crying like I’ve never cried before, inside, I kept thinking, “Stop it. Stop telling this story. You don’t know this lady; she probably thinks you’re nuts.”

But I couldn’t stop. It kept pouring out.

The stranger jumped in, asking, “Do you know what travail is?”

“Does it mean I need to be in a little white jacket and taken away for a rest?” I asked, kind of scared it did mean that.

“It’s when the Holy Spirit mourns through you. I believe the Holy Spirit was mourning through you,” she said.

The nail technician chimed in, “We’re all just Daughter’s of the King.”

Something happened at that moment, understanding unfurled. While I had always heard I was the Daughter of the King, a member of the family, I never really understood. I “logos” understood it, but I didn’t “rhema” understand it – it wasn’t alive and thriving in me.

At that moment, the knowledge that I was a Daughter of the King breathed deep into my soul – and the knowledge of it started unfurling. I left, still assured both those ladies probably thought I was nuts. . . but I left change emerging.

As I drove to the grocery store, I rhema understood who I was to the Father God who created me. It included the privilege, the protection, the value and affection  accorded to a precious, beloved daughter of the King. He wasn’t a careless, absentee, uninterested father. He was a Father who took care of His sons and daughters – who knew the big and little details of each of his kids.

My God who made himself known to me became My Father who made himself known to me.

The covering, the protection, the self-image of who I was – he was the father who would read everything I wrote, no matter the print size, the father who would provide protective covering, who would walk me through my challenges, and dismantle my fears, who would make my heart whole. . . he was the father who would. . .

As I walked into the grocery store, I started thinking about what was expected of me as a Daughter of the King – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). In the grocery parking lot that meant those who know they’re his – and those who don’t. It means not taking offense, forgiving – and grace and love. Knowing what it’s like to live Fatherless, I wanted others to know about this Father who loves them – and what that means if you’ve never experienced that kind of love, that this Father a place for them at His table – not a place 1000 tables away – but at His table, in His house, in His heart. In his house, you have a room decorated in your style with the best view imaginable.

After we lost Gracie, I read Kenneth Hagan’s Faith Study book about speaking faith because speaking God’s word can move mountains.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” ~ Hebrews 11:1.

I believed in this whole, healthy girl God said he had for me, thinking God was going to give me a daughter.

For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20

I didn’t see it, but I hoped in the words he’d given me that day. Basically, every time I prayed, I gave my Father permission to implement this promise He gave me.

I prayed, day in, day out “Thank you God for this whole healthy girl.”

I wondered every so often whether those words were a promise for a daughter or whether they were a promise about me.

When my fourth son was born, I had my answer. That “whole healthy girl” he talked about – that was me – I was the “whole, healthy girl” He planned for me.

(I want to add that my marriage improved so much at this point. Expecting my husband to be the repairer of the broken places in me [– though I don’t think I consciously realized I was doing that, I was] , was an inappropriate task for my forever man. While he is supposed to show my children and me the face of God, he is not God – and that is too huge a burden for anyone to carry.)

Happily Ever After? Right? I’m a Daughter of the KingI I know that! It’s alive in my soul! I know whose I am! The next stage of this wholeness journey was building this Father-Daughter relationship and how He filled up the broken, empty places left by my father – a divine re-design!

Part I: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: A Broken Daughter
Part II: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: God Becoming Father
Part III: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: Learning to Live as Beloved Daughter
Part IV: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole: A Whole Healthy Daughter

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lilies101In the movie Darby O’Gill and The Little People, Father Murphy asks who is willing to go to the next down and bring back a bell that has been donated to the church. The town bully offers, allowing that he be paid more than the good Father is willing to pay.

Darby O’Gill, a poor single father, finally offers and says, “I’ll do it Father. I’ll do it for nothing. The kindly Father has compassion on Darby, knowing his short-comings but recognizing the innate goodness of his heart, accepts his offer, saying, “No, as a reward, you, you may have the music of the bell.”

What a beautiful gift – to be given the music of the bell.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~ Luke 6:38

I don’t know what I’ve given sacrificially that that sounds as noble as fetching the bell for the church tower but He has given me . . . the beauty of the lilies that bloom right now – and the hydrangea that froze in a late frost last year leaving us without hydrangea until now – He has given me the blue hydrangea in abundance. The seeds of the zinnia have popped their greenness out of the ground – and He promises all the zinnias offer, too – the beauty, the butterflies that come to snack, the joyful color.

Today, He has given me the coolness of the day, too – the coolness under my feet, to my skin, the cardinal’s song, and the call of the red-winged black bird.

. . . and he has given me home after a short journey that he filled with gifts of unanticipated blessing.

Maybe the key to contentment, to a choose-joy life is to give without expectation while living expectation full of God’s goodness, knowing He is gracious, generous, good, lavish with His love. After all, He does collect our tears in a bottle, he offers the warm, comforting protection beneath his wings, he plans the best plans – if we don’t spoil them. Even if we spoil His plans, He’s got the plant to pull us out of our mess. . . and He makes miracles.

“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
    all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
    his great goodness to the family of Israel—
Compassion lavished,
    love extravagant.
He said, “Without question these are my people,
    children who would never betray me.”
So he became their Savior.
    In all their troubles,
    he was troubled, too.
He didn’t send someone else to help them.
    He did it himself, in person.
Out of his own love and pity
    he redeemed them.
He rescued them and carried them along
    for a long, long time.” ~ Isaiah 63: 7-9

He wants us to remember; it grieves him when we do not. As parents, do we not want our children to recognize, remember the love we have lavished on them – and does it not grieve our hearts when they forget, when they don’t remember?

“But you did not remember. . . you have forgotten” – God says over and over again – forgotten what he has done in the long ago past. . . and our daily past. . .

I want to remember his lavish generosity. . . . because He wants me to remember. . . to remember and acknowledge He gave it to me, He loves me, “He will never stop doing good to me” (Jeremiah 32:40).

I want to remember because in remembering, I draw closer. In remembering, I my eyes are opened to more of Him. In remember, my heart grows in love.

“Because you did not remember”, he says, (Ezekiel 16:43, Hosea 13:6, Psalm 78:43, Psalm 106: 13)

Good relationships remember the good! The good is cataloged, savored, told about over and over again, so much so that some people might go, “Here she goes again.”

“Remember Me,” God is continually saying. It grieves him when we don’t.  Selfless hearts remember the generosity of others. Hearts that practice love remember the goodness of others. I want to live selflessly, to practice love. I want to live thankful!

I never want to stop  remembering, so today, I remember the blessing of the lilies. Thank you, Father, for in remembering me, you teach me to remember you!


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“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” ~ Psalm 34:7-8

(Note: Cooking isn’t just cooking at the Blue Cotton House. There’s always a story, a Mom Lecture Nugget, a little nourishment for the soul with words or without. As my first born said a long time ago, there are some people you can run by and spend a second with – and there are some people who really want to know what’s going on, who want to sit long and talk, listen, discuss the heart of what’s going on. So, if you just want to avoid that, The Recipe is at The End)

I’m behind – I need to finish Part II of the our miracle story  – there’s so much to say . . the miracle, God’s amazing mercy and lavish generosity, the post-challenge-post miracle living, the everyday ordinary of the daily challenges, and the littlest of our boys graduating high school, a 10 Year Blogaversary – it feels like yesterday I hit the first publish button – and Blue Cotton Memory was born.  Instead of the usual everyday ordinary where little stuff tumbles  until the shaken out of its monotony by pops of Big Stuff,  it has been a season marked by Big Stuff happening one on top of another.

Some friends asked for a recipe – a recipe that’s been so much a part of this season, starting when Christmas, Easter and Passover collided in December. There were a lot of showerless days in the hospital though the rain poured constantly outside, about an hour and a half away from home depending on traffic – and a Panera around the corner with its chocolate croissants and huge Kitchen Sink Cookies. Across the street is a favorite little restaurant that makes the best salads, and a fast-food drive-through with strawberry lemonades that tasted good to my husband.

For 14 days (first stay 2 days, second stay 6 days, 3rd stay 6 days), the hospital room became a nest, a home away from home. Pillows, a quilt from home, books, bible, knitting projects – and savories like chocolate croissants and huge Panera Kitchen Sink Cookies –  littered a corner of the room with the chair that folded back to make an impromptu bed. These bits and pieces of home created a cocoon of comfort, vigor and hope.

All our boys, the ones still in the nest and the ones with their own nests pulled together keeping the business running, the dog walked, the cat and each other fed, the high school and college class work successfully done, chores normally ignored and left to mom weren’t ignored – I was completely hands off, (though, friends – I was hands up living)! Basically, these boys were not so much boys as men who kept the everyday ordinary running smoothly, so we could work through the extraordinary. I was so very proud of how they handled The Season of the Great Challenge.

The Last High School Soccer Season started before we were home for good. High School soccer started for us in 2000 – all five boys played. It was the littlest-who-wasn’t-little-any-more ‘s senior year, the last soccer season – yes! But it was the end of an era . . . and, Thank You God! My husband was here for it, his health blooming from the miracle after miracle. I think I understand the parts of the story the gospel doesn’t tell us about – life after the miracle, after Jesus opened the blind man’s eyes, healed the leper, restored the health of the soldier’s valued servant, called life back into Lazarus.

Living life after the miracle has been all the sweeter. Sweeter maybe because we’ve been more intentional about it. There’s still challenges, still frustrations – still all the everyday ordinary ups and downs – but maybe it’s also more intentionally living with thankfulness, macro focusing on the goodness He gives us – in each other, in those around us, in the blessing details of the daily. Sweeter for sure because when you’ve walked so close to God,  where you didn’t take your eyes off him as he fought the battle for you, when you’ve been ensconced under his wing, covered so securely in his Holy Spirit protection – the saturation of His presence seeps into every place you go, everything you do, affecting how you do it!


It was time to focus on the little one grown up and graduating high school! It was a Big Stuff Moment! What a semester he had! He kept up with two college classes, did an internship, and an on-line class at the high school. He wants to be an engineer like his dad – and he played his best soccer – earning All-District First Team. He graduated with Honors. What I’ll remember most about this season? The first is when he said, “God’s got this Mom!” His quiet, confident assurance in a challenging moment! Then the hugs! Such sweet hugs! Later when he said he wanted me to do his senior photos instead of paying someone else!


Soccer leads up to graduation where we live – and if it’s a particularly good season, it goes beyond. Our team played their heart out – and a couple of seniors who’d played soccer with our guys for years started a new tradition: The Kitchen. They came with pots and pans, with big ladles and spoons, with chefs hats and aprons – and a menu. Even on away games hours away. They came and they banged those pots and pans and cheered! I’ll admit – sometimes they out-noised the home team when we played away games. I loved their heart – and their out-of-the-cake-box creativity!


I thought The Kitchen needed some Kitchen Sink Cookies – because, friends, when you’re on the game field – your cheer section can carry you through – and it’s important that the cheer section is cheered on, too.

Cost and Cookie Size prohibited me from ordering Panera’s Kitchen Sink Cookies for The Kitchen, so I tried an on-line copy-cat version. I don’t know what I did wrong, but they ended up  in the garbage. It was an utter fail experience. So, I thought and pondered – and the light bulb finally flickered on – I just needed to use my chocolate chip cookie recipe as the base – and add everything and the kitchen sink!

The response? A Savory Memory to a Season of Big Stuff! It was a particularly good season. Graduation came – and soccer continued. The team made it to The Final Four of the State Playoffs! What a run it was! But now we’re back to the everyday ordinary. The depleted schedule has left us in a quiet season. It doesn’t smell like soccer cleats and jerseys that reek of hard, sweaty work. My husband is walking six miles a day – and we had our first kayaking outing of the season. We’ve entered a new season of living but we’re keeping our eyes focused on The One Who Saves. I don’t ever want to lose that feeling of being saturated with His presence – that being wrapped up in a cocoon of his love and protection, regardless of whether it’s Big Stuff or Everyday Ordinary Living.

Muddy’s Kitchen Sink Cookies 

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/2 cup Crisco Baking Sticks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 10-oz package chocolate chip cookies
2-3 cups tiny twist pretzels (measured BEFORE spinning in a food processor)
Caramel sauce (I use Torani Caramel in squeeze bottle)
(Recommended: (2) 12 X 17 cookie sheet or(2)13 X 18; a small melon scoop; parchment paper to line cookie sheet.)Preheat oven to 375°

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and Crisco Baking Stick until creamy. Add granulated and brown sugar and vanilla to the butter mixture. Blend until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Beat in flour mixture a half a cup at a time until you don’t see any white flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Then add the broken up pretzel twists.

Using small melon scoop, space two inches a part, then drizzle caramel syrup over the tops (if cold, it will not slide down sides but melt as it cooks). Set timer for 9-11 minutes and check. Bake time depends on the individual stove.If the cookies have spread together, separate when warm. Let cool for at 5 minutes.


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Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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“All change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out the changes that understanding creates in your heart.” ~ Tim Keller

. . . Because Cooking can be so much more than just cooking. . . .

I adore the Louisville Hot Brown Sandwich. For a long time, I rarely ever made it. Not because the recipe was difficult, but because I believed that it must be served it on individual, stainless-steel Hot Brown plates in order to oven-broil until the sauce puffed up just a bit and turned a hint of golden brown.

Being a Louisville girl, I had to do it more right, than, say, someone not from Louisville. . . right. . . ?  But what newlywed can afford little stainless-steel Hot Brown plates? Should I have bought them one at a time. Then “Poof,” we were a family of seven and buying them just wasn’t on top of the necessary list. Since I couldn’t afford the plates, I didn’t make the dish.

It didn’t seem . . . seemly. . . to serve it any other way. Any other way wouldn’t be authentic, genteel southern. . . the right way. Besides, it smacked of wrongness to take something with a bit of white linen grandeur served with a bit of horse racing kick to it. . . and put it in an everyday ordinary casserole dish, kind of like taking a Derby winner and turning it into a plough horse.

Preconceived Notions of how things should be done are sometimes the biggest self-imposed Stop Signs preventing everyday ordinary experiences of goodness.

An it’s-just-not-done-that-way kind of mentality can sometimes make it hard for the good things to grow in life – good things like God-designed skill sets needed to build God-designed dreams, or strong, comfortable-in-their-God-designed-skin kids, life-long love, a life-changing relationship with the Father who creates and the Savior who saves.

Sometimes, I have learned, I need to let go of preconceived notions of how I think things should be – and just do them in a way that enables me to do them.

Tradition and innovation are not easy friends.

Maybe I don’t always make homemade Alfredo sauce over pasta. Maybe I buy the pre-made sauce and add garlic and parmesan, while sauteing the chicken in olive oil and Italian seasoning.

My oldest, he came home from college one day, walked through the door, saying, “We’re not like other people, Mom.”

I answered somewhat cheekily, “We’re called to be a peculiar people” (referencing 1 Peter 2:9).

I don’t think that’s what he meant. He never elaborated. Maybe that is something we could have sat long and talked much about – but, probably, it’s just that our family, my husband, me, five sons, living in a town where our extended family was hours away –  preconceived notions of what some traditions ought to be didn’t allow our ideas of life, faith, love and family to thrive, so we made adjustments to our life recipe for the outcome our hearts sought.

Maybe I don’t make homemade bread. Maybe I buy biscuits in a tin, brush them with butter mixed with pressed garlic and salt, and when they come out of the oven, brush them again.

Maybe we don’t always sit down around the kitchen table for dinner because there’s a college student, a high school student and one who works still living at home – and maybe we sit more often at the counter some evenings and have individual conversations about big and little things. Sometimes we’re all at the counter, some finishing up, some coming in, some in the middle – and the conversations intertwine in an oddly real, sweet, out-of-the box meaningful way that is soul food in itself – all because I let go of Preconceived Notions of how I once thought things should be done – and in order for an environment to be created that makes room for God with us, in us, around us, in the good and the bad, the wins and the losses, the overcoming and the misses, the hard challenges and the celebrations.

I’m not angling for a t.v. show, though I’m into “good things” and “best dishes” for my family. I’m angling to make those who sit at my kitchen counter or table content, satisfied, comforted, filled with stuff good for the body with side dishes of soul food – both love and truth, the sweet and savory, the easy and the hard, the veggies and the meat – and I want them to come back for more. . . even when their mail doesn’t come anymore to this address.

Yes, after 36 years of marriage, almost 33 years of parenting, I am still weeding out preconceived notions of how to do things – or maybe they’re inappropriate expectations of how things ought to be done – and making changes for better-hearted, God-designed living.

So I finally gave up on the most authentic way to serve a Hot Brown Sandwich – and turned it into a casserole – much to my sons’ delight! I hope it gives you an opportunity to sit long and talk much with those God gives you to sit at your table or you kitchen counter!

“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
~ John Henry Newman

hotbrown2cMuddy’s Hot Brown Casserole
The crux of the sandwich is the sauce, which, oddly enough, is a combination of two sauces

Sauce One or Bechamel
½ cup butter or margarine
½ medium-sized sliced onion, minced
1/3 cup flour
3 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of red pepper
A couple of sprigs of parsley if you have it, but parsley isn’t a must
A dash of nutmeg

Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan. Add onions and cook slowly until a light brown, about 15-20 minutes. Add flour and blend until the flour makes a smooth paste(you will see the browned onion minces in the paste). Add milk and other seasonings and cook 25-30 minutes, stirring constantly and briskly at first until the sauce of thick and smooth. When it is thick and smooth. Some recommend straining the sauce. I never have.

Sauce Two or Mornay
2 cups of sauce one
2 egg yolks
½ c. grated parmesan cheese (more doesn’t hurt)
1 tablespoon butter
8 tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream Whipped

Combine egg yolks with a 1/2 cup of room temperature Sauce One. When combined, add to the rest of Sauce one. Heat, stirring constantly and remove from stove when starts to bubble. When hot and thick add cheese and the butter. The sauce must not boil or it will curdle.

hotbrown3cThen for every ½ C. sauce that is to be used for the sandwich, fold in 1 tablespoon of whipped cream. For this it would be 8 tablespoons whipped cream. The cream gives a lift to the browning-off under the broiler.

hotbrown4c.jpgTo assemble, cut the crusts office 2 slices of bread for each sandwich. Toast the, lining with toast either a casserole dish or a cookie pan (I use a 15X21 when we have a house full to feed)  On top of the toast, layer a slice of country ham topped with a layer of chicken. Enshroud with a goodly portion of the sauce. Place in a very hot oven or under the broiler until the sauce slightly puffed with a little bronze to the top, but not too bronze.  Top each piece of toast with a half a slice of cooked bacon and parsley.

Ingredients List:

Bread (one long loaf of white bread)
(20 slices of bread for a 15X21 cookie pan)
Bacon (a half a slice for every piece of toast)
1 lb. sliced turkey or chicken
1 lb. ham or country ham
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups hot milk
½ cup butter + 2 tablespoons (or 10 tablespoons total)
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of red pepper
A couple of sprigs of parsley
½ medium-sized sliced onion, minced


Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory
abounding Grace/Graceful Tuesday/
Creativity with Art

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday


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“‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’And she answered, ‘All is well’” ~ 2 Kings 4:26.

72 days into 2019 – 7 days of doctor visits, pre-surgery testing, 2 surgeries, 3 hospital stays totalling 14 days. There has not been much Everyday Ordinary. . . . , but there have been miracles, stunning displays of God’s timing, and God with us . . . . and such a story to tell – of what God has done for my husband,  for the desires of my heart, for my family, but the telling of that is not for today (but soon – and if you didn’t know, it’s o.k. because only a handful did because we focused on God throughout the journey). Today is for the Blessing of the Everyday Ordinary.

My youngest, the saucy one, he’s a senior this year. His soccer season started about a week ago. Home is mama cooking, as he calls it, “The good stuff.” I remember baking my granola bars two weeks ago. I’d even made my Chicken Noodle Soup and Grilled Cheese – was it about 10 days ago? Even a Chicken Piccata. But there wasn’t any consistency. No Everyday Ordinary.

He’d tell you I hadn’t been cooking at all. He even used my Instagram account to prove I hadn’t been cooking: “Where’s the pictures, Mom?”

Moving out of A Time of Great Challenge back into The Everyday Ordinary, God knew I’d need some help with the transition.

The youngest, somewhere in 2019, woke up wanting to eat Banana Pudding. Maybe it’s his taste buds maturing. Maybe it’s because it’s his dad’s favorite. Regardless of the reason, just because he asked, I bought all the ingredients, but I just couldn’t seem to get the timing right.

“Today Mom?” he’d ask.
“No, not today,” I answered, eyeing him. “Someone ate the vanilla wafers.”

“Now Mom?” he asked another time.
“No, someone at the bananas.”

“Banana Pudding, Mom?” a third time.
“Milks all gone.”

He wasn’t used to this kind of project fail from his mom, so he determined I needed coaching,  his own special, saucy brand of coaching – a lot of verbal sauce with a hug thrown in to get me to cross the finish line – really, to help me cross over into Everyday Ordinary – and I couldn’t resist his entreaties, so I promised, “Tomorrow” – and yesterday I did. He even offered to help me so he could learn.

When I tried to get by with just one box of instant vanilla pudding (because that’s how my husband’s mama made it – so that’s the way I make it), he made sure I pushed through and used both boxes: “No slackin’ Mom.”  A few layers later, my husband walked through the kitchen, checked out my progress, “Yes,” I answered before he even asked. “Meringue on top just like your mom made.”

Whew! I was being hen-pecked in my kitchen. . . . I loved every minute of it, every minute of this special brand of Everyday Ordinary that is Home to all of us at the Blue Cotton House. Apparently, they needed the Everyday Ordinary I’d cultivated for over 36 years just as much as I did.

When I set the Banana Pudding on the counter, if I had doubted that I was back in Everyday Ordinary, I knew, when, instead of admiring how beautiful it looked, the youngest asked, “What’s for dinner?”

I was ahead of him this time because I’d been planning on putting a new spin on an old favorite recipe.

Monday I had cooked my Muddy Cheese Steaks with green beans and salad, yesterday was grilled ham and cheese because of an away soccer game, but last night – last night we experienced the grace, the extravagant beauty of finally moving into the Everyday Ordinary, where we sat around the counter eating, talking, friends coming in, sharing a bowl, followed by a mile walk in a early spring trying to blow winter out.

God knows! He know sometimes we need being sauced back into shape, sometimes we need someone cooking “the good stuff,” and sometimes, we need the “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” that allows God to work his miracles in our lives, and we need the rhythm of The Everyday Ordinary, with its God-designed blessings and grace,  to come home to after the challenge has been redeemed.

Chicken, Pancetta, Lemon and Garlic Pasta


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Package Capellini Angel Hair Pasta Nests
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 cup whipping cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese


In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat butter and Olive Oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and diced pancetta, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic. Add the chicken, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the cream and heat through. Season with salt to taste.

While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions.

Layer with pasta nest, chicken and sauce, pepper and sprinkle with parmesan.

* * *

One of the scriptures my husband would recite each time before he went under anesthesia and when he came out:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6: 24-26

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green beansc

I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 9 The Message

After walking through A Great Challenge, in the middle of an everyday ordinary moment, when rinsing out the upteenth glass of chocolate milk, filling the dog’s water bowl, or clearing away the clutter on the kitchen table –  that is when the courage, strength and resilience dissolve, leaving me nothing with which to hold myself together. Maybe it’s just God’s timing, telling me that it is in the everyday ordinary where it is safe to let go, to let the frayed edges recognize they are frayed so they can then mend, the tiredness rest, the bedraggled soul refresh.

No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 9 The Message

Mending time is where I need to give myself space for healing to wholeness. The Everyday Ordinary can be a re-set space, where the hum of routine soothes, even familiar acts of organizing the forks, knives and spoons, of rummaging through the socks for mates. . . of measuring ingredients for the green beans. Routine allows thoughts and emotions to simmer, to steam up and release in the mending space of. . .  the everyday ordinary.

I cook maybe like some men fish. I imagine fishing centers one into an everyday, ordinary hum of a routine, a kind of going home where the right now can be poured through the sieve of memories of those who mentored, teaching things about fishing that were more than fishing, to better process what needs processing – and, by remembering, ennoble the heart to indirectly help face a challenge directly – or the aftermath of a challenge.

Cooking is that kind if processing for me – connecting to the past – to the future and to the right now. Cooking allows a particular kind of busyness that allows the spiritual and emotional effects of challenges to safely bubble to the surface, letting me face issues at first indirectly, then directly.

auntjoycekitchen (2)c

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 9 The Message

Sunday I made a pot of green beans, just the way Aunt Joyce showed me not quite 36 years ago when I married. She doesn’t remember anymore, how to make her green beans. Dementia steals the good stuff: the stories, the good conversations, even the recipes. She is 3 1/2 hours away – and I miss our conversations about the nothing going on or about the challenges, the quirky stories and the recipe sharing – and so I make her green beans, the everyday, ordinary, home-cooked but not garden-fresh green beans (I fail at cooking fresh green beans) because in the challenges I miss being with these women who taught me to be resilient enough to overcome the challenge. That Never-Give-Up Spirit is a Pass-It-Down Thing – and it’s something I want to pass down to those God gave me – and to show them how to never-give-up with God beside me! Cooking in the kitchen reminds me of them, which reminds me of the things they taught me, which always leads me to inviting God into whatever has led me to stirring, mixing or whipping up an idea of something that tastes like savory or sweet, feels like a warm hug, conjures joy – whatever the needs in the everyday ordinary.

Cooking Aunty Joyce’s green beans makes me feel less alone in the challenge. Making my mom’s caramel icing or chocolate fudge or creamed spinach, though she’s eight hours away, makes me feel the same way, like she’s right there, encouraging me.  Fry Chicken – well, that’s time with Grandmother – nobody could fry chicken like she could – or make a Charlotte Russe. When I cook, sometimes all the women who poured into me, are there – and, though I’d rather they all be there still, sitting in my kitchen pouring into me, I remember the lessons they taught me, and it encourages me.

Sometimes, the fried chicken is more than fried chicken, the caramel icing is more than caramel icing – and the green beans are more than green beans. Sometimes God uses the recipe to do a healing, shalom kind-of-work within me.

Cooking takes me back to the kitchen where I grew up – filled with Grandmother and Mom, and then later to Aunt Joyce’s kitchen, filled with Grandmother, Mom and Aunt Joyce – and I miss those kitchen moments of long-ago home, and this sadness has indirectly created a release valve of today’s challenges walked through -where the courage, strength and resilience can dissolve making space for mending, resting and refreshing – and it started with those never-ending glasses of chocolate milk that needed cleaning out, followed by the green beans that needed making, my mind a rabbit warren full of memories, and a soul desperately trying to rest in its creator but not quite knowing how to achieve it on my own.

Maybe the kitchen isn’t your refreshing, soul-mending space. I’d love to know 1) what you busy yourself with to ennoble the heart to indirectly help face a challenge directly, and 2) the mentors who poured into you as you grew into your soul-mending space.

Aunt Joyce doesn’t remember the recipe anymore, but I do – and my grandson loves them by the plate full, my husband by the heaping big spoon full.  The boys?  I’m not sure they really care about green beans. Me? They taste best right out of the pot!

 Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 10 The Message

Aunt Joyce’s Green Beans
(I’d never measured for green beans before, but I did for this. I’m sure if you love them as much as I do (and my husband and grandson), you’ll soon get into pouring and mixing without needing to measure.)

Green Beans (50 oz can), drain,  rinse and pour them into a pot. Fill the pot with water, turn on medium heat.
Add the following:
1/2 the juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon. marjoram
1/2 teaspoon. summer savory
2 tablespoon bacon drippings (or vegetable oil for a healthier choice)
2 bouillon cubes
1/2 a regular onion, quartered (quartered so those who don’t like onions but respect the flavoring they add can easily remove before serving)
salt/pepper to taste

Bring to a boil for 15 minutes, then simmer on low for hours, maybe all day. Some think green beans are best when cooked all day and served the next. I tend to agree. Like a good marriage, the longer some things simmer together, the more they blend into something delightfully more savory.

“What grace is meant to do is to help good people, not to escape their sufferings, but to bear them with a stout heart, with a fortitude that finds its strength in faith.” ~ Saint Augustine


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Let me set the table here – the historic table – about recipes and reputation. Growing up in my grandmother’s house, I had the luxury of learning all sorts of recipes – daily recipes, bridge day recipes, celebration recipes and feast recipes. It was long after I married that I came to recognize that a recipe wasn’t just a recipe – a recipe had the potential to be reputation defining – if you could create a delightful dish others couldn’t, then the day you hosted a table full of ladies for bridge was a guaranteed culinary success – because bridge was so much more than bridge.

As I collected recipes for my family cookbook, I also collected their history – the story of how they came into the family. Machiavellian cunning in the kitchen? Deliciously so!

For example, Aunt Joyce’s Grits Gruyère recipe came from her husband’s Aunt Ruth who had been trying to wrest it from one of the ladies in her bridge group, Mrs. Curry, for quite some time. Not one to concede failure, Aunt Ruth called Mrs. Curry’s youthful daughter, inexperienced in Machiavellian tactics, when the lady was out of town – and successfully filched it. Aunt Ruth had the ability to play a deep game – with gloves, cotton or kid, on or off.

I was oblivious to the undercurrents, the power plays, the Machavillian side to these sweet ladies – probably just like Mrs. Curry’s daughter who so trustingly gave over her mother’s secretly guarded recipe. I can understand, looking back. We hadn’t yet entered a world of culinary competition and intrigue. We were just babes in the kitchen, enjoying plateful after plateful of deliciousness, year in and year out, who never imagined a good recipe was social currency. We probably didn’t even know what social currency was.

Years later, I remember watching a dining-room table discussion with two of my very favorite aunts about whether or not to share my great-grandmother’s, their grandmother’s Corn Fritter Recipe. It was a contentious moment, a throw-back moment to a time that doesn’t really exist any more. It both saddened and gladdened me.

The internet, cooking blogs, and cooking channels have changed how women by their cooking. Recipes are neither soul defining nor social currency. Instead, cooks are defined by the generosity of spirit of not just recipe sharing but showing how to make it successfully. That is one change I adore!

I grew up with good cooks who enjoyed kitchen competition in a very lady-like fashion (a competition probably born out of The Depression and WWII when produce was so hard to come by),  but when I met my husband’s family, I learned it was a grace thing, too.

Recipes, expectations and cultural differences have the potential to create big messes, little messes, short-term messes and life-long messes. Messes, I have learned, are happenings in need of God’s kind of grace – not just given, but received, too!

Saturdays and Sundays always contained the ability to burst into family day at my husband’s parent’s house – both when we were dating and after we were married, living down the road, over a few hills, around a few curves. It’s where I learned a bowl of ice cream was more than a few tablespoons, and hot chocolate didn’t just come in tea-cup sizes – but tumbler sizes, too. Mountain Dew came out  of the water faucet – Really! For a girl who grew up not even having one coke a week, it sure seemed like it did!

I remember the first time I had soup beans. My father-in-law showed me the best way to eat it: take a peeled onion, bite into it, along with a spoon full of beans – and, well, I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as he did. I remember trying to make Soup Beans early in my marriage because my husband so enjoyed them (sans the onion). I threw in salsa, cheese – and, well, utterly failed with the soup beans. For about 30 years, I gave up on Soupo Beans.  It wasn’t until a few years ago when someone used the words, “Chow-Chow” that I was able to cook them without trying to make them something they weren’t. I just put some Chow Chow on top! Success!

But one day, after the souop beans and onion,  Ann had a pot of Chili cooking on the stove, simmering, just getting ready to fill a bunch of bowls. Thinking Keith’s mom had been waiting for the chili to simmer before she added the spaghetti, I thought I’d help her out. I pulled the spaghetti out of the cupboard (we must have been engaged by then), broke it into pieces and was stirring into the chili when she came in from the other room. Remember the girl who haplessly, naively gave Aunt Ruth her mother’s prided recipe? I think this was my haplessly, naive moment – totally unwary, unsuspecting of potential territorial recipe undercurrents.

I met the Grace of Ann, not in the breaking of the spaghetti into the chili, but in the no-turning-back, stirring-it-into-the-chili moment. There I was, eager-to-please, oblivious to the fact that people outside of Louisville, Kentucky ate chili without spaghetti. Face-to-face with my mother-in-law who’d just walked into the kitchen, I learned my lesson – but there was no territorial battle, no sulks, just unmerited favor, forgiveness and acceptance. She gave me grace – and I gladly took the grace she offered.

I remember both of us laughing, but I am sure she must have thought her son was marrying one crazy girl.

I’ve spent about 36 years trying to pin down my own recipe for making chili. I haven’t had any complaints, but I hadn’t yet been satisfied enough to write one down and say, “This is it.”

I believe I finally have a chili recipe for my family cookbook! Yes – there’s spaghetti in it because that’s just the Louisville girl in me! That it took me 36 years is just the never-give-up in me!

Maybe it will be made even more complete when one of my boys brings home a girl with enough good kind of crazy in her to add a special ingredient from where she comes from to make it even better. But for now – this is what’s in the family cookbook:

Chili Recipe
Brown 3 lbs. and drained and place in dutch oven
In a food processor, dice up the following:
One large sweet onion
1 green pepper
10 oz. cans whole green Chile peppers
Add onions, peppers and Chile peppers to hamburger mixture, let simmer for 5 minutes, then add the following:
1 – 46 oz. V8 Bloody Mary Mix, original
2 packet/boxes Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit mix
Stir well.
Next blend in the following:
1 – 15.5 oz. cans Dark Red Kidney Beans (Dark Red for Color)
1 – 15.5 oz. cans Black Beans
1 – 15.5 oz. cans Chili Beans
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bring to a simmer.
Add 8 oz. spaghetti, broken into 2-3 inch pieces
Simmer until ready to serve.

I always serve with some kind of hot sandwich. Grilled Cheese, Bacon Cheddar Twists, or Jalapeno Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls are my favorites. See recipe or links below.

Grilled Cheese Recipe:

Melt butter and dip both sides of two pieces bread in the butter.

Depending on size of bread, I use one to two pieces of cheese (two much cheese makes it just too much) and possibly a slice of country ham.

Grill until golden on each side.

grilled cheesecc

Bacon Cheddar Twists from Farm House Rules
Jalapeno Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls from Jen Around the World (When you run out of croissants – biscuit dough works just as well! Made mine with Mild Italian Sausage! Held some filling back for my low carb diet. It’s a recipe that makes for happy people in my house!)

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. . . and the naysayers said she wasn’t good enough, smart enough, creative enough, worthy enough . . . who said her dream was just that – a dream – and nothing would come of it. . . and the thief called Doubt tried to pick her soul pockets, steal her identity, take away all she held dear, all the goodness that her Lord had seen fit to give her.

“All is well. . . ,” she said as she ran, choking back her despair, unable to see beyond the tears . . . she ran to her Savior, grabbing hold of her Lord. . . and she didn’t let go.”

. . .  and the girl said to the wolf stalking to destroy her and all she held dear, “All is well.”

“What have you to be ‘Well’ about?” asked the wolf, encroaching on her peace and safety, as the wolf shadowed her, threatening her. “I am more powerful than you!”

“All is well,” the girl repeated. “Because my Lord has said so.”

The shadow of the wolf receded as he slunk away; Her Lord was more powerful than the wolf.

winterwell2 2019c.jpg. . . and the girl spoke to the storm that bore down upon her to rip her apart from root to heart, “All is well.”

“That cannot be,” said the storm, a vortex of chaos, rage and coldness, twisting the dirt, roots and limbs of the earth up to the heavens. “For I have more strength than you. ”

“All is well,” said the girl. “Because my Lord said so.”

. . . and the storm for a moment quieted as if deflated, then roiled itself up into a rage, unleasing its full force on the girl, bashing against her like a tsunami to a shore – and the storm saw her Lord, standing between the girl and the storm, protecting her with his gleaming shield – and the storm raged onward, searching for those who didn’t know “All is well,” those who didn’t have the protection of the girl’s Lord to save them.

. . . and the girl spoke to the fever that came quiet and hot into her home, trying to break the life of someone the girl loved very much. . . and the fever taunted her, as she dipped the cloth into the cool water, squeezing out the excess, and laying it on the forehead of the one she loved so, she spoke saying, “All is well.”

“I have come to break your spirit and to destroy your  heart’s desires,” the fever whispered, knowing she alone could not control the army of unknowns that gave the fever its authority to determine life and death.

“All is well,” said the girl,” dipping the cloth into the water, wringing the excess out and gently placing the cloth onto the fiery forehead of the one she loved.

. . . and the fever surged, burning her fingertips, “How can that be? You don’t even know from where I come. You have no wisdom to stop me. Love and determination cannot sway me.”

“All is well,” said the girl. “Because my Lord said so.”

. . . and the fever broke, withdrawing his army of unknowns, abdicating his position of influence to the greater power of her Lord.


. . . and the girl sat in a quiet moment, time after time, with her Lord, thanking him – that because of him, “All is well.”

We at the Blue Cotton House have been walking through a BIG challenge since a few days before Christmas. I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around how to talk about the challenge – or how to pray about the challenge. It was in my kitchen, as I was cooking through the challenge, that God sent me to 2 Kings 4: 8-36 – and “All is Well” became my battle cry. I couldn’t determine how to write about it until this morning – because it’s not my story to tell but I am a supporting character in the story – and this morning, while a Little Snow came, my husband and I drove to a mountain view where we will build one day – and God showed me how I could write about the challenge – and his amazing grace and saving power. Not long after I finished writing this, we received an answer where the fullness of joy overflowed our home and hearts. There is still a Little Ways to journey to the Challenge’s End, but, let me tell you – miracles do still happen, God makes ways where there was no way, and He will, if you let him, stand with you every step of the way, and, while sometimes when the journey isn’t a journey we want, “All is well.”

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence” ~ Psalm 91:1-3.

“The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou saved me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” ~ 2 Samuel 22: 3-4.

“How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” ~ Psalm 36:7.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in thee” ~ Psalm 84: 11-12.


Linking with these blogs this week:
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory
abounding Grace/Graceful Tuesday/
Creativity with Art

Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdayEncouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of Hope Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday


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“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”
~Blaise Pascal

Note: There’s a big challenge in my little world. I wrote the major draft of this before I had knowledge of the challenge – and reworked it for two reasons – to encourage me in the vortex of the challenge – and to encourage those who struggle with just believing God is God. For this past year, I’d wondered why I wrote and couldn’t hit the post button – I think I understand why now – because I needed the message now. Praying this encourages you, too – in your challenges.

Do you believe in God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The God who led his people out of Egypt? The God who punished his chosen people when they’d turned away from him. The God who forgave them?

The God who promised, “Every man will sit under his own vine And under his own fig tree, And no one will make them afraid, For the Lord Almighty has spoken.” ~ Micah 4:4

The God who promised, “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.” ~ Zechariah 8: 4-5

The God who promised:
“They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
 They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
    or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
    and their descendants with them.
 Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
    and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 65: 22-25

Do you believe this. . . this is for you?

Do you believe God, the Great I am caused a donkey to speak, or three faithful men believed God would deliver them one way or another from a fiery furnace?

Do you believe God, El Roi, the GOd who sees us hiding from him, running from him – do you believe he loves his children –  you and me –  despite our sin? That he makes a way to redeem those children – you and me – from the made choices each of us made and continues to make?

Do you believe God, Yahweh, The Lord our Righteousness, The Lord our Shepherd, Do you struggle believing that God sent his only son to be the unblemished forever-sacrifice for our sins so that nothing would ever again separate us from God, nothing except our choice to not believe?

Do you believe that he died on the cross and on the third day, rose again? That between now and when he comes again, he loves us more than we can fathom?

Do you believe in Him – it all starts with that. Are you at least willing? wanting to believe?

Before the miracle came the belief in Him – and the one who sent Him.

“And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief” ~ Mark 6:5.

There was a father who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus, needing help, wanting help, wanting to believe the unbelievable. I’d say he’d reached the very bottom of himself – his wisdom, whatever wealth he had, his own efforts, that the big love, the big dreams, the big hopes for his son, despite the challenge drove him into the sphere of Jesus whose love was bigger. Love for those around us sometimes are what opens the door to relationship with the Father and his son – love as big and deep as our human can love – and when we’re so helpless, so desperate that we’re willing to meet the Father – all we know if that no earthly father and mother could help us – and so we go to meet him with the only expectations we know – fallible, often incapable expectations – because that is how we are with out.

This father, he dropped all pride in self – and reached out, realizing he couldn’t do it – and willing to believe that Jesus, who claimed to be the son of God could. . . possibly his faith at that point was even smaller than a mustard seed.

“Because you have so little faith,” He answered. “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” ~ Matthew 17:20.

This father was willing to try believing, though he didn’t know how – didn’t know where to start – this radical believing. He made a mess of it – reaching out, trying to make the connection to Jesus, the beginning moment of their relationship, saying it all wrong.

“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” – the father asked Jesus. (Mark 9:22b)


How many of us go to God with an if mentality. If  is almost a gauntlet thrown down – a challenge to someone’s skill, ability, maybe even right to do something, be something, doubting yet daring, hoping to believe that the same time.


I saw a little girl one time running into her house, hollering, “Daddy” to come take care of the bully who’d hurt her. She ran into that house as if she belonged. She ran into the house knowing her daddy would fix her hurt and stop the cause of the hurt.

Ifs are the words of those who don’t feel or believe they belong in their father’s house, don’t have a father they can count on to bind their wounds, heal their hearts and stop the bullies. An if mentality doesn’t know, doesn’t really believe that when they burst into their father’s house, hollering for help, that they will be treated as if they belong, as if they were a favored child.

This father with the demon-possessed son had an “if” self-image – and he projected that self-image onto Jesus.

And Jesus responded to him, “‘If you can’!” (Mark 9:23a).

Note the exclamation point!  Exclamation points sometimes express exasperation. A “what-more-do-I-have-to-do-so-you-understand” kind of exasperation! How many times do I have to say this over before you get it?

As someone who is so good at saying things so wrong, I understand exactly how that father feels. Foot-in-Mouth Disease? That’s me! I can give a compliment and leave a person insulted – I’m even better at it when it means so much to me. My younger self would have wanted to just fade into the back of the crowd and run away, mortified I’d made a mess of it with a, “Never mind – sorry I bothered you.”

But the father didn’t. He swallowed his mortified self – waited in hope – because he had nothing left to hope in – hoping for the compassion he’d sought from this savior he had heard about.

Jesus didn’t hold on to his exasperation – he released it, letting it evaporate because I think he recognized in the man the awkwardness of beginning believers who maybe wonder that something so wonderful can be true? And wanting it to the core of their soul if it is? Jesus let his exasperation go because I think he saw a man desperately wanting to believe – who didn’t know how – and he understands us all, our doubts, our mustard-seed faith, our ifs – and He wants nothing more than to help us outgrow the ifs and doubts of who we are to Him.

I don’t know about you, but it makes my heart settle down in a heart-melt kind of way when Jesus said “All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23b).

The father asked Jesus for compassion – and Jesus delivered that compassion, first in this reponse – and then in the deliverance of the man’s son. I can hear the gentleness, the compassions the man asked for, the love, invitation to believe . . . can you hear it, too?

All things are possible . . . for one who believes.

All . . .

a blind man can see, a lame man walk, a sick woman healed, a child brought to life, a friend brought for healing – and a man’s demon-possessed child. . . All were healed.

All things are possible! All doesn’t exclude anything. Jesus doesn’t deal in tricky small print and exception.

Just don’t expect it do be done with ways only you and I can fathom. Gods ways are not our ways – and he comes up with ways we can not even begin to imagine. . . or day to imagine.

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

If you have trouble believing. . .1) in God and 2) that God wants to “do something” about your challenge, something complete, whole, restoring, maybe even miraculous, then ask yourself, “Do you want to believe? Really want to believe that God is real, that Jesus is real, that salvation, grace, miracles and heaven are real?”

Do you believe it’s for you, too? Because it is.

God already knows the size of your belief. He already knows that maybe sometimes both you and me struggle – but we need to say it to him, to own it – so he can do something about it. I’ve always said, “God’s not your mama who bursts in uninvited to fix her kids problems. God waits to be invited – and then He’s all about it!

. . . and if you really, really want to believe. . . in God . . . just ask him,” I want to believe. Help my unbelief.”

It’s as simple as that!

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bowlccalebThe New Year came with viral coughing and sneezing, flu bugs and stomach bugs.

“Can you drop by some Hot and Spicy Chinese Soup,” one son texted as he nursed his wife and daughters through the high and low fevers of a flu season.

I didn’t have to ask why – It’s something I’ve always done. When you have a cold, regardless of whether it’s a viral cold or flu cold, Hot and Spicy Chinese Soup (along with egg rolls and hot mustard sauce) just makes everything better. Except on Mondays. On Monday’s the local Chinese restaurants are closed. It is a blessing – to be invited to make “it” better.

A few days later, I made a pot of my homemade chicken noodle soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

“Mom,” said one of the boys still at home. “Would you make me a bowl of soup?”

“You can do it just as well as I can,” I said, exasperated because, really, if you’re in college, shouldn’t you be able to make your own bowl of soup?

“But it’s just so much better when you do it,” he said – and, though I know I’m being buttered up like a good grilled cheese sandwich – when they say that (because all my sons do) it just makes being a mom that much better.

sconescBetter elevates – the everyday ordinary
Better lifts up, even if for a moment,
It progresses forward, adds shine, more goodness

Better could be the detail added to a story, a lowered temperature, it could be the lavender sprinkles on a scone, or the honey in the tea. It could be the melted butter soaked in a grilled cheese – or the buttery words across the kitchen counter.

Better could be the simple choice of a finding the goodness in a situation where goodness is hard to find or words that bring life instead of words that cut and wound.

5 Minute Mark (but please read on)

Better could be a stopping moment or the oomph that propels us just one step closer to a goal.

I have thought and thought about how to make this year better, how to lift my heart out of the shadow of loved ones suffering challenges – to lift my heart to live joy and hope, faith and grace, how to bring the light into the challenges of those battling dementia, carcinoids, breast cancer, heart valve replacements, and those who’ve lost loved ones taken too soon. I can pray – yes! But what was I to do after the Amen?

It seems like the rain and grey skies wouldn’t budge this last year. I love rainy days – but it rained so much over the summer that my porch felt moist and needed a good drying. The grey skies oppressed. This hasn’t been the kind of rainy day living I enjoy. Driving home a few weeks ago, I asked God how to shake this greyness that seemed to have soaked into my soul – how could I rid myself of it. At that moment, the sun broke through the clouds – all warmth and brightness – yellow and blue brightness. My soul responded, feeling God right there beside me, assurance flooded through me – and joy soaked up the greyness inside. Praise – that was the only way, He seemed to be telling me, that was the only way to make it better. . . . and that the only way to redeem the daily, to make it better is to praise God, to give thanks. . . . because that does add the shine to a day that needs bettering: Praise regardless of circumstance – because praise regardless of circumstance is the stuff that moves mountains. Praise remembers God’s goodness of the past and it steeps the right now in his grace. It lifts up, moves forward, adds more goodness, transforms, elevates In ways that I cannot. It’s like asking God to come in because it just makes it that much better.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.” ~ Psalm 103: 1-6

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” Hebrews 13:15

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be  in my mouth” ~ Psalm 34:1

grilled cheesecc

Take 5 Minutes out of your day, pour a cup of Wild Apple Ginger tea, and join me at Kate’s Place for 5 Minutes Friday! See what everybody else is writing about . . . or maybe join us with 5 minutes of your own writing – about the word . . . “Better.”

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MonarchcI find myself surprised: buds and blossoms on the neighbor’s dogwoods, my no-show hydrangeas finally deciding to bloom in an unusual mid-autumn cold snap, and Monarch butterflies on my butterfly bush like ants on a 4th of July picnic table.

I might have been taken unaware. . . but God was not taken unaware.

The butterflies might have been caught off guard. . . but God was not.

Even the hydrangeas and dogwood blossoms might have been shocked. . . but God was not.

. . . and in the surprise . . . the unexpected change might throw the flower, the butterfly, me off balance. The change, this cold might make each of us uncomfortable – by different degrees – not just temperature, but well-being, both inside and out.

. . . and maybe it’s not really about running-behind butterflies and mixed up blossoms in an upside down weather pattern. Maybe it’s really about little ones and lessons, or teen challenges, or loved ones crossing to the other side leaving us behind, or those who’ve loved us all our lives forgetting the stories.

. . .or maybe it’s the regular everyday ordinary challenges that just tear over and over at our hearts, threatening to wear down through perseverance – the little things we let steal our peace and joy.

. . . maybe it’s about our challenges that surprise us, a message to remind you and me that our creator and savior has got it and us!

He’s got the plan. . .

for the dogwood, the hydrangea, the butterfly, and you and me.

Monarch3cHe’s had the plan, the contingency plan, and the contingency’s contingency plans to the 10th degree since each of us were created – and it’s a saving plan.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.” ~ Psalm 139:16

You know what? God wouldn’t send us into challenging times without equipping us for them. When I think about my great-grandparents and grand parents who lived through World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II, I understand how God equipped them to handle the challenges they faced – and how they helped each other face them.

God has equipped you and me for today, for this season when spring flowers are blooming in an autumn acting like a winter storm coming. It’s not about blankets on butterfly wings, sheets over the hydrangeas, and sweaters over arms for warmth, preserving beauty, or survival of the best and brightest.

It’s about faith, and remembering God faithfulness to you and to me, and to our fathers and the fathers and mothers of our faith. It’s about standing at the crossroads and looking; asking for the ancient paths, asking where the good way is, and walking in it, and there finding rest for your souls (Jeremiah 6:16).

It’s about crying out in a cold bitter frost of a challenge, “Lord, I believe; Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:25) – even when that belief is hanging by a thread.

It’s about seeking relationship, sitting down or going on a walk and having a talk (James 4:8), and step by step, talk by talk, this relationship in the easy times and hard challenge becomes . . . something you cannot live without . . . something that carries you through times that don’t make sense and carries its own inherent challenges.

It’s good to walk with the one who is never surprised.


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“Give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good;
His loving devotion endures forever”
~ Chronicles 16:34

“The LORD is my strength and my song” ~ Exodus 15:2.

My husband received a call the other day about unclaimed money – apparently, there’s some out there, and we ought to go claim it. Yet, what about the unclaimed goodness God has left for us since the day we were born? God has left and continue to leave his goodness in every day of our lives. This isn’t about prosperity. It’s about the goodness God leaves us in the daily, how he lavishes his love on us, letting us know he is there, wooing us into relationship with him. There are years and years of unclaimed gifts because I didn’t know – years I spent not understanding how he is present in every moment of my day, how he leaves reminders of his great love for me . . . in what seems like the everyday ordinary. Maybe I cannot vintage all the goodness He left me in the past, but I can certainly claim the goodness he has left me today and in the future.

I’m in the middle of a challenge right now – and I find myself needing to keep close to the one who knows my heart – who designed it and understands it better than I do, so right now – and maybe throughout the summer, I’m going to be journaling God’s goodness He leaves me along the path of each day’s journey. Maybe you will join me with your own journals of his goodness and leave a link in the comment section.

You are good, Father, my strength and my song
two red birds chasing each other, flying
ahead of me
God invited to the table
a little boy snuggling close, trusting,
falling into nap
ice cream joy
the quiet with God before the busy sets in
You are good, Father, my strength and my song

morning footsteps in the kitchen, sharing coffee and the needs
for the day ahead
courage to push the clamor of tasks back to give attention to the call of my soul
golden-retriever comfort
the soothing repetition of layering, brushing melted butter,
layering, brushing pastry sheets
for baklava
in a space not hurried by the clock,
the methodical layering, brushing, layering, sprinkling walnuts slowing
my harried heart
the layering, brushing, sprinkling training me in healthy barrier setting
so God joy and peace in the little things
aren’t rushed away
before being savored
little arms hugging in excited, happy welcome
You are good, Father, my strength and my song

vanilla drops in ice water
hearts that don’t let misunderstanding stop the conversation or break the connection
chocolate kisses, sour-patch kids and jelly beans in candy jars
remembering good memories
self-less prayers for others
for God-designed plans fulfilled,
insight into choices,
needs met for the day’s challenges,
for success to rise out of failures
and desire fanned to draw closer to God –
self-less prayer not to make me breathe easier
worry less
but for others to live their God-designed plan
because their story is their story
not mine
You are good, Father, my strength and my song

the bantering of my boys
cooking behind the kitchen counter and watching . . .
one son opening books to study,
another sitting down to take an on-line quiz,
a group sitting around the table talking,
the plastic glasses taken out of the cabinet,
filled with water, one stirring chocolate into his milk,
shoes kicked off and left in the middle of the floor,
“What’s to eat?”
daughter-in-laws who break the boundaries to become daughters
Sadie, our golden, running for her stuffed bunny when someone walks through the back doors.
chocolate ganache over white butter cream.
You are good, Father, my strength and my song

Thank you Father, for your goodness, for your enduring devotion.

Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory
abounding Grace/Graceful Tuesday/
Creativity with Art

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Have you ever. . .
done something God wanted you to do – and thought you couldn’t? . . . but did because it really wasn’t about your ability but His ability? Because you trusted him to help you do it?

Have you ever. . .
done something you thought God wanted you to do – and, too late you realized God didn’t ask you do to that. . . . you just jumped into it, thinking it sounded like a God-thing and didn’t ask him if that was Him telling you?

My list for doing something God wanted me to do and I thought I couldn’t but trusted him – well, that list is much shorter than all the things I rushed into just assuming that because I thought they sounded good, they must be God-inspired. (I have pages and pages of pages of these. I’m never really comfortable recalling them. These “have-you-evers” never ended the way I anticipated them ending, resulting in bruised pride,shame at overstepping into a place God had not called me to be, and a humbled spirit).

Have you ever. . .
called out for a storm to calm itself, asked a mountain to be move . . . or sat on the edge of a diving board, and wondered if you could walk on water?
. . . wondered if your faith was big enough. . . to walk on water . . . because, if your faith was big enough – you’d be able to – right? After all, apparently for a few short minutes, Peter did – before his faith shook and he started to sink.

More than once, I’ve sat on the edge of a diving board and thought about this. One summer evening, I sat on my mother and father-in-laws diving board a long, long time ago and thought, staring at this beautiful blue between the house and the barn . . . could my faith be strong enough, sure enough – for a few short moments?

I believed then and I believe now that miracles weren’t just for the 12 and the 70. Holy Spirit power hasn’t been watered down or thinned out with wear and tear. That summer evening I sat there wanting the love for my savior and my faith to be big enough . . . to walk on water. . . .

Have you done that? Sat there and wondered?

I finally screwed up my courage, pulled myself up to stand, and took that one step, hoping for a few short moments, my faith would be big enough, sure enough . . . . one step and I sank straight down to the bottom of the pool.

Was it because my faith and love for my savior weren’t big enough, true enough?

beach3c_edited-1Summertime with its pools, beaches and water play didn’t cause this “walking on water” memory to resurface. I gave one of my sons The One Year Chronological Bible for Christmas a few years ago. He read and completed it through his senior year of high school. When he finished last summer, I thought I ought to do the same thing – so I borrowed his. I should finish by my birthday in August. It has opened my eyes to so many things I’ve missed before – and given me such a better understanding not only of historical context but of so much more. Summertime just coincided with where I am in this one year bible reading experience.

After Jesus fed the 5,000 men (besides all those women and children), he sent the disciples ahead in a boat to the other side while he took some quiet time in the mountains to pray. While he was praying, the disciples didn’t get very far in their journey because the waves and wind slowed their progress. Between 3 and 6 a.m. in the morning, the disciples saw him walking toward them on the water.
The scripture says they were “terrified” when they saw him. I imagine they were worn out, too – having rowed and rowed and seemingly gotten nowhere fast. Jesus seeing their fear and exhaustion encouraged them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

I imagine their courage was not only bolstered, but the awe and adrenaline from seeing such a miracle woke and revitalized them.

Then Peter said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28).

Let’s break this down – this is where I missed it – have missed it most of my life until this week. Peter didn’t bolt out of the boat in excitement. Neither Jesus didn’t expect any of those in the boat to climb out and walk to him as a testament of their faith. A pool, a river, lake or ocean depth is not itself a pass/fail test of our faith. Jesus doesn’t mock us, saying, “If you really, really, truly  believed, you’d be able to walk on water to me.” No! That’s not Jesus. That’s Satan baiting us to do things we are not called to do.

The want to walk out to Jesus rose up within Peter first. After that “want to do” rose up, Peter did two things.

First, Peter asked if this “want to do” came from Jesus.

Next, Peter asked for permission: “Command me to Jesus.”

And Jesus did! Jesus told Peter, “Come.” (Matthew 14:29).

You know – that walking on the pool water thing never worked for me. Not because I didn’t have faith enough – but because that wasn’t something God called me to do. He called Peter to do that: put the desire in him to go to Jesus like that – and before Peter acted, he checked with Jesus first.

Walking on water? That’s Peter’s faith story. Not yours and mine. We are not called to do everything in everyone’s story. We are called to walk out our story, not our story plus everyone else’s story.

The next time a “want to do” rises within me to do something for Christ, I need to ask:
“Lord, is this you putting the desire to do this within me?”
If he tells me, “Yes,” then I need to ask, “Command me, Lord (Matthew 14:29) – and I will do this thing you’ve asked me because I don’t want to do anything out of my own selfish desires, pride, ego and wants. I only want to do it if Jesus wants me to do it.”

And, you know what? Maybe in the beginning what he’s asked you to do feels as impossible as walking on water. Maybe what he’s asked you to do calls for a big step of faith. Maybe it’s offering to pray for a stranger in the middle of the cucumbers and peppers in the grocery store. Maybe it’s telling a group of women the story of why you believe. Maybe it’s enrolling in college or signing up for a Mission trip. Maybe it’s saying “I do” on a perfect day – and stepping into a 75 year journey where all the days aren’t perfect. Maybe it’s living  day-in-day-out faith, hope and love in a hard challenge – and choosing joy when nothing feels like joy. Maybe making a dream come alive.

In the beginning, the adrenaline of the call stirs to action where God says, “Yes. I want you to do this thing.” That adrenaline carries us, further than imagined, just like Peter:
“So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).

However, the struggle to maintain that faith when we discover ourselves out of our depth, we just might respond just like Peter: “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink” (Matthew 14:30a).

When Peter began to sink, he didn’t give up. He also didn’t even attempt Peter-made solutions to save himself. Some might have been cheering him on while others on the sidelines might have been asking, “Who does he think he is – walking on water? Who in their right mind thinks they can walk on water?” Some might even say he got a little above himself. Some might think he needs to be committed for such upside down thoughts.

Peter didn’t listen to scientists who said people can’t walk on water. He didn’t listen to the naysayers. He didn’t listen to people who thought he wasn’t good enough to walk on water.

Jesus had given him the go-ahead: “Come.” Come he did – but on the way, doubt set in. Instead of just thinking he had to save himself on his own, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me” (Matthew 13:30). . . .
Just like the woman with the issue of blood who reached out in faithful assurance.
Just like the centurion who understood authority and by understanding authority, understood Jesus could heal his servant.
Just like the friends who brought their friend to be healed, lowered him through the roof into Jesus’ presence where he received his healing.
Just like all the people he healed throughout his ministry, including the man who said, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

“Lord, save me” (Matthew 13:30), Peter cried out. . . with blessed assurance because Jesus wouldn’t have put that desire in Peter if Jesus didn’t have a plan to fulfill that request.  Jesus never gives us a task to complete without the plan to succeed at that task. Jesus never sets those who love him up for failure.

Sometimes when I get into what Jesus wants me to do, I start second-guessing myself, doubting what He’s asked me to do. In those moments, I’m a Peter, too, though I wasn’t called to do the same things Peter did. Because Peter’s story is Peter’s and mine is mine – each of our stories – yours, mine, Peter’s – are God designed – but each different.

When I feel like I’m sinking, I just need to called out, “Lord, save me.”
And he does – just like he did for Peter. Though our stories are different – and the how’s and what we’re called to do – Jesus’ faithfulness, the unconditional love is the same.

“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”(Matthew 14:31-33).

I don’t think I’m going to be sitting on any diving boards contemplating whether my faith and love in my savior is big enough to walk on water any time soon. Nanny and Papaw’s pool has long been filled in. If I find myself on sitting on the edge of a diving board, I think Jesus and I will talk about the things he has stirred me up to do, that I asked him permission to do – and the things he has said, “Yes” to do. Instead of a fail moment,, where I sink, what a beautiful rejoicing moment my savior and I will have. Maybe I don’t even have to sit on the edge of a diving board to have that conversation.

Yet, I believe that Jesus confirmed the desire for me to walk on water – and he commanded me to do so, I do believe I wouldn’t then sink to the bottom!


Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
Mary Geisen/ TellingHisStory
abounding Grace/Graceful Tuesday/
Creativity with Art

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Truth – it’s a tough word. Sometimes tough to live. Even tougher when your truth isn’t believed. Tougher still when these children we birthed, filled with the best we know how to give, our cool hands on fevered-foreheads, our lips praying, choosing books to inspire, trying to love it right – and then one day, they catch us failing at it – and, suddenly, they doubt the truth of our love. Maybe it’s part of growing up – this doubting the genuineness of this love we have, the self-less-ness of it.

For me, that’s been the hardest part of this mothering. The cascade effect of the doubt those God gave me to love. I think if I wasn’t dancing this dance with God – my ability to love would be so crippled, grace walked out with two left feet until grace was no longer recognized.

Love – it’s a pretty hard gig
This mother kind of love
This neighbhor kind of love
This wife kind of love

This love it seeps, spills, drains, sometimes freely
Sometimes like a sink clogged
This love, like fresh water, just wants to nourish
To fill, heal, refresh

truth is,
sometimes God gives us hearts to love
those who
don’t believe it, don’t trust it
who say it’s not truth
who say  it’s manipulation, full of mistakes,
all wrong,

this love, like dancing,
when uninhibited, whirls, slows,
twirls Grace ’til someone judges the dance
as artifice, graceless
grace steps become second-guessed,
awkward, unsure,
and doubt begins about
this grace
the worthiness in this love I’ve been
is it . . .
good enough
true enough
in need of fixing

missteps turn to stumbling
and in that stumbling
I call out to the Father
because I never meant
this love I pour out
to be ugly, graceless, untrusted

as I cry out, I find him
already there,
pulling me into
a Father-Daughter dance
telling me
He knows the truth of my heart
that one day
the my heart’s truth will be revealed
for those who need to see
the truth in the love
poured out
danced out
loved out

doubt maybe the works of love,
he tells me,
but never the grace of it
because a heart that loves not to gain
but to just love
is never graceless
always truth
there’s freedom
in that kind of love.

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3rd grade, hand raised high in excitement. I knew the answer. Finally, I knew the answer to something. Held back in first grade, taller than everyone else, bullied by a mean girl – I risked raising that hand out of a protective barrier I’d stuffed myself into for hiding.

Father Stewart was visiting our religion class – to talk about grace. He asked us to tell him what it was.

You know how it was – hand not shyly raised, but reaching, fingers wiggling – and he called on me for the answer – this grace-filled answer:

“How you move, like a ballerina,” – there – I’d risked it – a sure-fire, right answer

struck down

He swatted his hand toward me, “No” he grumbled out, as though I’d done something wrong – and turned away.

I sat there – mortified. Not just at having the wrong answer – which my mother and grandmother had taught me was the right answer. They loved graceful things. Shy outside home, that little girl grace was slowly growing into growing girl awkwardness.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15)

mldanceIt took me a long time, until girl growing out of awkwardness risked hand-raising, fingers wiggling out-of-the home question-answering.

Yet, without knowing what grace was – God poured it all over me – when I met him in my grandmother’s back yard, climbing trees, on the school bus when other kids made fun of my teeth, cowering under bed-time covers in the dark, old house sure something was going to get me, at bed-time prayers when I needed – and He was there – meeting me – loving my graceless self and giving me His

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10)

twirl4and when I’d grown, walked some away from Him, and came back, asking, “Show me how to love you like when I was little,” – He did, pouring that same grace all over me, embracing me – and calling me His own – always loving, gently encouraging, even when I got the answers wrong.

That 3rd grade day in religion class, my ears burned too much to hear what he said about grace. God knew. God wasn’t surprised – by my answer, by my embarrassment and momentary hearing loss – He knew how this little girl heart and mind worked. As I sought out relationship with Him, he opened my ears, my eyes and my heart to His kind of grace – so that I understood what I was receiving from Him.  He doesn’t just give us one chance to get it. Some people, like me, need a lot of repetition.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2: 4-9)

(Photo above is from my one year in ballet – which I loved – but not the photo! LOL – and the last photo is from my oldest son’s wedding – the Mother/Son Dance when he asked, “Ready to Twirl.” My feet might be graceless in dancing – but my heart – oh, it was dancing beautiful grace!!! (See Ready to Twirl).


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Friends from my grown-up life express disbelief that I was painfully shy when I was little. My mom doesn’t believe it either – but I was – lots of reasons but those reasons aren’t for today – and that’s not me today. That is so not me today that my boys have learned the art of shepherding me out of church, a restaurant, a grocery store. There’s a lot of collie in those boys (LOL). There’s a lot of reach in me.

We are each designed to reach according to our love languages and gifts. When we reach according to our God-designed reach-way – it can be a beautiful, fulfilling thing – but not just a one-way reaching, a one-way fulfilling. When we reach God’s way – it is a holistic reach – where all shes involved are blessed – and it might have a ripple effect – like wave on the ocean.

We are God-designed to reach – just like He reaches to us. The value of she might even be determined through reaching.

My grandmother, she taught me about strength in the daily and the beauty of sitting in the quiet together on the front porch swing – and how to make coffee cake.

My mama, she taught me about the view from the high places – and the value of hard work, sacrifice and kindness, that poverty is a state of mind – and how to make truffles and majeskas

Aunt Shirley taught me  that every family needs a keeper of the stories, that cousins are awesome – and how to make meringue shells.

Aunt Joyce taught me about cooking, the importance of routine, how to make mashed potatoes, salad dressing, how hot chocolate changes a morning – and generosity of spirit

Alva taught me how to make ginger snaps and post-it notes for prayer requests on bathroom mirrors

Joan taught me how to crack my heart wide open to be a spiritual mom: “We so need to be needed,” said this 70 something woman.

The Tuesday Morning Prime Timer’s women’s coffee group that met at Hardees or McDonalds – they all taught me that you never arrive in Utopia, that you still get mad at your husband and that they are needed – who else had the time to lay believing hands on me, pray that the Holy Spirit be in the delivery of my 4th son – who almost died that day and was held in the hand of God

Laura-May in her rolled down stockings taught me about the innate need to pass our God messages and God love down – that we were designed for that.

My sweet mother-in-law – she taught me about unconditional love, how the compassion gift works beautifully, how to quilt and how to never give up reaching in this mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship – sweet blessings are found in the reaching.

My grandmother-in-law, June, taught me about canning summertime and growing to share violets

About 15 years ago – Gracie taught me that God makes whole the broken. She taught me about speaking faith to move mountains – I didn’t know that. . . didn’t know about praying for these babies growing inside me – until Gracie. She taught me about heaven – and the hope of it, the tangible of it. She taught me that when God has a plan, even too low trisomy babies who are never seen can hang on to be seen – Gracie who at 4 months in-utero, whose heart stopped beating, my little girl gone to God in the high places – taught me that love doesn’t have to see or hold now or today.  She taught me how God turns my mourning into dancing.  Because of what she taught me, I believe. I. believe. . . . that’s how I learned how to call on the name of Jesus when doctors and nurses are calling S.T.A.T. c-section – and chaos ensures and I hear “I don’t have a heart-beat” – and then Cam was born, healthy and whole, against all odds, with APGARS of 9 both times – when most kids don’t make it. Don’t survive it – especially after 16 minutes. She taught me the power of the name of Jesus can save – and it makes a difference in my life everyday.

Every she poured grace into me, poured hope into me. The value of she is immeasurable.

Yet, just like a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea – I cannot have it if I don’t reach for it.

Every she pour into me because I reached out. Sometimes it takes a lot of reaching to grab hold of the one God sends. A lot of reaching sometimes means a lot of rejection.

If I hadn’t spied through the forsythia at Laura May, hadn’t ventured to her front porch for an evening hello

If I hadn’t sought out my aunts and in the seeking and reaching found relationship

If I hadn’t reached for conversation with the older lady sitting beside me in a volunteer group

Or sought an invitation to the Prime Time Ladies Tuesday mornings – and showed up to listen

If I hadn’t sought to spend time with my husband’s family, sought out his mother and grandmother to pull his traditions into ours

If I hadn’t reached for God when we lost Gracie – and continue reaching today

I wouldn’t have been poured into with such blessing, such over-flowing

This reaching, pouring and receiving – God created us for it. Think of Christ’s geneology and the passing down of His word – a geneology of reaching, pouring and receiving.

If you haven’t been poured into – reach

If you need to be needed, need to pour – reach

You might catch a lot of thin air, experience some rejection – but God has someone who needs you and who you need.

We were created for it.

The Value of she is found in the reaching.


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pennchurchdoorcc“Come,” he says. . . “Come. . .” An act as simple as turning a door knob, yet like the knob opens the door to something new, unseen, different from where you are standing – so does this invitation from Christ: “Come. . . .”

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” ~ Matthew 11: 28-30

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desertcarcThe engine of progress begins with a soul inspired. A soul inspired begins with a relationship with God. A relationship with God begins with a conversation, a talk and listen, and an “I-believe-Lord.-Help-my-unbelief” kind of growing trust. It’s Monday. Monday is a good day to begin being inspired.

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beachbirdccThe world may ruffle your feathers, but the Lord gives peace to your soul.

“And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
~Philippians 4:7.

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