Kitten’s Song

Kitten’s Song

Amid the chaos in a noisy room
She gazes from clutter to toy to broom
And wonders who she is and why she’s here
She loses herself, but for a while
In a dream not unlike that of a restless child
Where her name is Kitten and she lays aside her fear

She can’t help but wonder as she sighs
At the million unknown answers to her whys
Where is the little girl she used to be?
The one who just wanted to matter somehow
To belong in the yesterday, and the here and now
Who wonders what it’s like to feel truly free

Her thoughts drift gently back over the years
Escapes her eye, a solitary tear
And trails a salty pathway down her face
It isn’t the first time pain has trickled down
She feels sure it won’t be the last ache found
But she knows she just can’t stay long in this place

She opens swollen eyes at last
With no real notion of the time gone past
To find three pairs of staring, curious eyes
A tiny finger reaches to brush away
A tear that has somehow managed to stray
A tiny voice, a whisper, “Mama cry?”

She swallows hard and kisses the hand
And meets little eyes with a smile and a plan
To cherish these Heavenly blessings come to Earth
She thinks of the young ones at her knee
About how grateful she is that they are free
To have a favorite color, to know their worth

She whispers a prayer of thanks that she
Is the mother she wished her own to be
Thanking God for letting her live out the love she needs
She places the toys again on the shelf
And somewhere in her musing she finds herself
Like a rose blooming forth from the tiniest of seeds

LLE
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Sky

Lisa May‘s photos are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Her shots of clouds and trees and sunsets are breathtaking.

So today as I was browsing through some of her latest photo posts, a thought occurred to me that I thought might be worth writing about.

Ann Voskamp writes about living life from our knees, both in prayer and in mindset, much like a child. About how viewing life from the perspective of a little one gives us a whole new vantage point.

It was no accident that God said to become like little children.

As I was noting my favorites of Lisa’s photos, I noticed that the ones I love most have the sky as the background. Whether clouds or sun or brilliant blue sky, they draw me in, call out to something deep within me. Something in the images make me feel very close to God.

And that’s when it hit me. I don’t often shoot photographs with the sky as the backdrop. Usually there’s just “stuff” behind the subject, whether person or thing, and I never realized how much that can take away from the natural beauty of a scene.

It shouldn’t surprise me to realize that the sky is perhaps the most majestic backdrop of all. When I was little I thought that was where God lives. And while I now know God’s presence more intimately, I still like thinking of the sky as the place from which He beckons us.

Much of what a child would photograph stands a good chance of having the sky as a backdrop.

I can learn a lot from that.

The heavens declare the glory of God; 

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19:1

She speaks in dreams.

I read the entry three times. I thought maybe by the third time I wouldn’t cry. I was wrong.

Precious three-letter Ann, full of grace and sharing it all with us, reaching out her beautiful, humble hand that has cradled fragile bubbles and mended boo-boos and combed out grief tangles and reached for the moon, expressing a desire to help us all. A desire to help someone like me.

Why did I cry? Because I felt like she had been watching a playback of my life, listening to my dreams, hearing my heart for helping women the world over to speak theirs. She saw it and heard it all, and she wrote those words for me. And the longing of my heart is to do that for someone else. For many someone elses.

Funny story. I used to have this recurring dream of speaking at a conference to thousands of women, something like a Women of Faith conference, or something similar. In my dream I was an author of inspirational books for women. Over time I eventually managed to convince myself that even though that thought jazzed me to the core, things like that don’t really happen to people like me.

Right?

I mean, the people who speak at those conferences grew up in Christian homes, never had years gobbled up by the locusts of abuse and family dysfunction, always had it all together.

But aren’t there women I know, even personally, who have brought the brokenness of their pasts forward and risked it all by laying it out on the table? And I know why they do it, why I want to do it: because someone else needs to know she isn’t alone. Someone else needs to know that He restores what the locusts have eaten and then so much more.

It’s been my heart for as long as I can remember, this loving on others in Jesus’ name. When I was little I always sought out the one person in a room that no one was talking to, sidled up alongside and said hi. Those people rarely rejected my silly-but-sincere friendliness, and many went on to become lifelong friends.

My love for writing has been with me my whole life, and has combined with my love for helping people quite nicely. The result has been more letters, notes, commissioned poetry and dedications, blog entries, and articles than I could begin to number.

It came naturally, like breathing, my passions all converging to form the perfect storm on the page and in conversations and in song, reaching up and out and painting with words the beautiful thing Jesus was making out of the mess that was me.

I know that if He can do it for me, He can do it for you, too.
And if He wants to do it for me, He surely wants to do it for you.

If He loves me this much, ordinary imperfect girl that I am with five kids and two grandkids and one beloved I’m still love-struck crazy for, a deep love for people and a heart full of wild dreams, He must also be crazy for you.


You, lovely one that you are, whatever you’ve seen, whatever you’ve done, wherever life has taken you.

You are not alone. And neither am I.

I, and hundreds of others just like me, keep asking God over and over for one thing: the opportunity to make a difference in a life. In just one life, and then another, and then more as He leads. We know that this longing was knit into us by Him at the forming, so all we are really doing is agreeing with Him and being true to our purpose: to love on His people and encourage them to love on Him and on one another.

I am nobody special, just a woman He created, a shadow of the Former who knit into me a deep passion for connecting with others and connecting them with Him. I’m so silly I get tearful every time I even talk about how much joy He has brought into my life just through the women He has given me opportunity to encourage.

I keep praying for more chances, more beautiful daughters of His to find a way to bless and with open hand direct all the glory back to Him. It’s a dream too big to let go.
Know what my big dream right now is? To meet you

There is a lovely gathering coming up soon with this dream in mind. The SheSpeaks conference in North Carolina July 22-24, 2011 is being offered by Proverbs 31 Ministries and is a time of learning, fellowship, encouragement, fun, and celebration of the common purpose of connecting the hearts of women with the heart of God the Father. I can’t imagine what a blessing this conference is going to be. I’m hoping to find out first hand. 

Would you like an opportunity for a scholarship to this treasure of an atmosphere? Please go HERE to enter. I would love to see you there. Walk in His grace, and perhaps our paths will cross in North Carolina. I would love that.

What Surrender Really Means (205-230)

I was reading chapter three in One Thousand Gifts (again) last night where she quoted Ephesians 5:20.

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As I was thinking about the weight of this verse, I thought, Hey, wait…if that is Ephesians 5:20, that’s the verse right before “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”, and then “Wives, submit to your husbands”.

So then I got to thinking how nearly every time I’ve ever heard teaching on Ephesians 5, it’s always been approached (more like attacked) from the “wives submit” angle and it’s either used as a bludgeon for wives or it’s being pounced upon as an awful, archaic, patriarchal religious practice.

And I got to thinking that if vs. 20 was in place, was being practiced by His people, then the attitudes and behaviors mentioned in the next verses would already be in place.

In other words, if we were already giving thanks to God for everything, we would be living a life of Eucharisteo and we would already be submitting to one another out of reverence for Him.

Eucharisteo precedes the miracle. Thanksgiving precedes submission (which for many is truly a miracle, just saying). All joking aside, submission seems like such a miracle to us because it is the direct opposite of what our world teaches us–in commercials, on billboards, in schools–to set our sights upon.

Can’t we see that submission is not a stiff sentence, but soft surrender to the Savior?

He breathed us into being. Surrender to Him is purest joy. All grace, all gift, all joy.

Counting on, toward the first thousand…
205. Teens who act nothing like the teens on TV
206. Little trip back to childhood in the form of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on bread soft and sticking to the roof of the mouth, peanut butter smooth and thick, jam painted on cheeks in a sticky purple grin
207. Coffee with Belgian chocolate toffee creamer
208. Hot cocoa from an adapted hot cocoa mix recipe
209. His sweet mercy in crisis
210. Being loved with an everlasting love
211. Knowing deep that He is always enough
212. Peace that goes beyond feeling
213. Pretty toes (but mostly the daughter who took it upon herself to pamper her mama)
214. Blog readers taking moments to comment thoughts
215. Gravy
216. Reading One Thousand Gifts for the second time, slowly
217. Chatting with a kindred friend
218. Life viewed through the lens of grace is different, changed, new, replete with hope
219. Time to walk away from my desk and think outside the box
220. Stillness for the knowing that He is God, and that if it is meant to be, it will be, according to His will
221. A husband who offers chocolate for the soothing of the melancholy
222. The rediscovering of family from long ago, photographs from a time that makes the heart race with memory’s creaking hinges and shadowy images
223. Resolve to silence that preserves the bond of peace
224. An armload of chocolate on my desk
225. Hope between lines of sadness when the moon presses in close and wrings out mama tears
226. People in high places who remember what it felt like to be a little people
227. Memories of a Little People doll house, a mama, and her little girl, playing, laughing, saving up memories for later
228. Rain falling, breeze blowing, heart wording, all on a Monday at the hello of spring
229. Grins shared between us the way they were way back then
230. Rosie and Belle in Mama’s rocker on the front porch

What a Picture is Worth

I wrote a portion of this post as a reply to someone at BlogFrog and thought I would also share it here.

Many bloggers like using photos in their blogging. And for good reason, since a picture is worth…well, you know. If you find using photos to be cumbersome or interfering with the flow of your writing, I would suggest not worrying about using them. If, however, you like photos and enjoy their inclusion, it might be worth the effort.

I love photography, so having blogged for so many years I am in the habit of constantly looking for opportunities for more “stock” type photography–the kind that works well in blog posts. For example, one photo I snapped of our son at age ten (he is now 25) in the ocean facing the sunset with his arms raised up has served me well over the years in posts where praising God was the image I was looking to show.

Shots of sunrises, sunsets, and nature shots are always useful. Generic shots of people doing ordinary things are also helpful, and I try to do some of those (not all, since I do like to keep most of my blog posts personal to share my heart and life with others) without the face showing to make them more versatile.

And don’t ever underestimate the value of a picture of a pizza! Food images are wonderful, especially such gems like loaves of homemade bread, berries, or a few toffee chocolate cookies. As you can see, just the words can make your mouth water, so imagine what a picture can do!

Sometimes I edit the photos with artistic effects to vary the image and make it more universal; an artistic touch rarely hurts.

I find keeping an eye out for blogging shots to be quite fun. I’ve also found an added benefit to being on the lookout for such shots: I stay always aware and mindful of the beauty in every scene, every moment, which keeps me always a deeply grateful girl.

Abba (A Look Back)

April 25, 2003

God is doing a new thing.  A new thing as old as time, actually. 

He is awakening in me a desire to know Him like I’ve never known Him before.  I decided a year ago I wanted to be a God chaser, and I chased Him.  Some. 

But slowly over this past year and especially through the “Bow the Knee” musical, He has taken that spark and ignited it into a deep hunger that won’t be satisfied with a mere taste of His presence. 

No, I know better now.  I feel like I’ve been with Him, and I know what it feels like.  There is no going back.

It’s affecting every thought and action.  My introspection is no longer focused on myself, how I’m doing, if I’m growing, how I feel.

It’s on Him.  It’s on just how close I can get to Him.  Can I reach out and touch His face without my hand burning up?  Can I look into His eyes and not go blind?

Someone said in class a few nights ago that we are too familiar with God.  That our ‘ease’ with Him makes us disrespectful.  I can’t swallow that one.  The non-confrontational side of me wants to fudge and say, “Oh, well I can understand what you mean…” but the truth is, I can’t.

I can’t believe God wants to hold me at arms’ length.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to saunter up to the Almighty and quip, “Yo, big daddy, whussup?”  I don’t mean the kind of familiarity that loses sight of Who He is.

I mean the kind a child has with a parent who loves beyond all reason.  The kind that grows out of a love that sent His only Son to die so I could run up to Him and cry Abba, Father! and jump into His arms.

He showed up tonight.  I knew He would.  He returned my song as I lifted it up to Him and He smiled at me.  I asked Him to be there and He came.

He came.

Waking Up (Five Minute Friday)

I wake up numerous times in the night. Most of those times I feel uneasy, like I’m inwardly afraid something is wrong, or something is going to happen. I was hoping these nights were behind me.

Since I picked up One Thousand Gifts, life has been different. The moments have been lighter, more hopeful. I’ve been enjoying the feeling of peace that has infused my waking hours. It’s been good not to feel the Enemy breathing down my neck.

But he isn’t finished with me yet.

For me, it will be a matter of finding the most efficient way to keep myself reminded that I do not belong to him, that my life and my moments belong to the One who knit me together, the One who is enough. The one who makes it true how perfect love casts out all fear.

I want to wake up singing.

LISTS OF 5 – List 1

List five relatives you saw at family reunions as a child.

List the five best colors in a crayon box.

List your five favorite things about your personality

List five nicknames you were given in school.

List five places you’d like to visit sometime in your life.

List five names you would have liked had you picked your own name.

List your top five most attractive current movie stars.

List your five favorite comfort foods.

List five people you hope you see as often as possible.

List five things you would tell your country’s president if you ever met him/her.

List five things you wish were for sale in the supermarket (that are not for sale now).

List five events in your life you wish you could erase.

List five moments in your life you wish you could relive.

List the five best desserts on the planet.

List the five silliest jokes you can remember.

List the five funniest people you have ever met.

List five places you wouldn’t mind living.

A Year of Journal Prompts – December

1-Dec
Who genuinely listened to you during your life?
2-Dec
With whom do you get along in your family?
3-Dec
What signs show you that someone loves you?
4-Dec
Write about your experience(s) with childbirth.
5-Dec
List 10 people who have helped to shape who you are today, whether positively or negatively.
6-Dec
I really like the musician __________because…
7-Dec
Tell of a time a wish was granted that you later regretted wishing for.
8-Dec
One thing I like about my mother when she was a child is…
9-Dec
I feel like my life will be better when…
10-Dec
How do you best relax?
11-Dec
What are your thoughts on independence?
12-Dec
What I like best about being by myself is…
13-Dec
Write about your relationship with God.
14-Dec
When I see clouds in the sky I think of…
15-Dec
Write about what it feels like to listen intently to someone else.
16-Dec
My best advice to a new parent is…
17-Dec
Pick any color. Write about where you have seen that color today, and what feelings resulted.
18-Dec
Write about time spent at the beach.
19-Dec
Where do you come from?
20-Dec
Talk about what success means to you.
21-Dec
Do you feel an obligation to write? Why or why not?
22-Dec
What and/or who has sustained your soul?
23-Dec
Do you prefer friendships with men or women? Why?
24-Dec
How did your family traditionally celebrate Christmas?
25-Dec
What was your best ever Christmas present?
26-Dec
Describe a time when you were involved (or close to being) in a physical fight.
27-Dec
Have you ever sought revenge? What did you do?
28-Dec
When was the last time you said something you did not mean?
29-Dec
If you could only have one material possession, what would it be?
30-Dec
Explore: “Everything Flows.”
31-Dec
What would you say is the grand purpose of life?

A Year of Journal Prompts – November

1-Nov
What was life like for you as a child?
2-Nov
If you could choose one super power, what would it be and why?
3-Nov
What are your thoughts on personal boundaries?
4-Nov
What was your favorite pet?
5-Nov
My spiritual life today is…
6-Nov
Describe your favorite piece of music.
7-Nov
I doubt that I will ever get to…
8-Nov
I wish I had _________ more/less when my children were little.
9-Nov
When I am really angry, I…
10-Nov
How is decision-making handled in your life?
11-Nov
How do you feel about being dependant upon others?
12-Nov
In my beloved’s eyes, I am…
13-Nov
Write a new poem of any length or form.
14-Nov
Do you have trouble asking for help?
15-Nov
How do you process disappointment?
16-Nov
Without my relationship with ________I would _________.
17-Nov
Write about something you feel very strongly about.
18-Nov
Write about the night sky.
19-Nov
What does “we teach in order to learn” mean to you?
20-Nov
Describe your home in as much detail as possible.
21-Nov
Explore the concept of “Nothingness”.
22-Nov
What topics do you avoid talking about, and why?
23-Nov
What could you do to help someone else today?
24-Nov
How has alcohol or drugs impacted your life?
25-Nov
What role has money played in your life?
26-Nov
When in your life have you experienced the most growth?
27-Nov
How does it make you feel to cry?
28-Nov
What thing(s) in your life do you regret the most?
29-Nov
When have you made people laugh?
30-Nov
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?