Drawn

For the past year I’ve been intentionally slowing down. Not that age isn’t helping me out, mind you, since I’m creeping closer and closer to the top of the hill, but I’m not talking about that kind of slowing down. I mean taking a deep breath, inhaling the crisp spring air, taking in the beauty and blessing of this phenomenal life.

My son Matt reminds me of this, every time we pass flowers–anywhere. Even out shopping as we pass the floral department he will purposefully stop, bow low toward the display, close his eyes, and draw scents into senses deep. I smile, amused as I watch him move from one bloom to another as he takes it all in, lingering over each flower like a long-sought treasure. Others generally take note, too, like they’ve never seen a man stop and smell the roses. I always hope they take it with them and at least think about the lesson later. I do, and I thank God for this reminder clad in cargo pants and t-shirt.

I sit cozy at my desk on a beautiful Wednesday morning, heart warmed by the memory of my beautiful friend Leslee Stewart’s message at our last women’s Bible study. I won’t soon forget the way she laid her heart bare before a crowd of empathetic ladies, pooling eyes all turned toward her and feeling it together. What we felt wasn’t so much her regret  over spending years of her life driven toward success, but more so the hope she poured out to us–a hope found in knowing that real success comes only by becoming who we were created to be.  Her willingness to be so real stayed with me.

I lived most of my childhood driven. Driven to escape brokenness, abuse, dysfunction, loss, neglect, and alcoholism. My parents did their best, but it was clear they weren’t the best for one another–or me, as long as they were together. The divorce came, followed by more years of confusion, then things settled some. Daddy remarried an angel on Earth and grew closer to God, and Mama poured herself into hard work and an endless search for love. Then on an early October morning just shy of my 13th birthday we got a phone call that Daddy was dead.

I entered my teen years longing for someone to show me who God was, what real love was, why life made any sense at all. I’d seen glimpses of Him in the heart and life of my new step-mama–who remained “Mama Mary” to me until her death many years later–but the truth was, I was a broken kid with no dad and a single mom and I was just plain lost. I think the moment I first saw Steve at the stop light at Adamo and Highway 41 was the moment God reached down and found me.

I was 16 and pregnant before it was cool enough for a reality show. We got the news at a little women’s health center on Fletcher Avenue on a warm Monday morning in June. I was so sick I could barely hold myself up. Smothered in shame, we broke it to our parents. I resigned my position as Band Captain for the coming school year, confessed my sin to my devastated band director, and laid down my letter and medals and plans to go to FSU on a music scholarship.

We got married three weeks later in the little church my new husband and his parents had helped build. The whispers of “They won’t last six months!” and “Wow, what a waste. She could have done so much, been so much…” made their way into my young heart and pierced sharp. I remember thinking his mom and dad must feel like their son’s life was over. I later learned that they didn’t, but they were scared for us. They loved me, and my mother loved Steve, and we all pulled together to dig for the beauty in the ashes of poor youthful decisions. I finished high school while I finished my pregnancy and became a mama three months after I turned 17.

And now here I sit at 48, beauty all around me–proof that He can and will turn our mourning to gladness if we’ll ask. I couldn’t have dreamed all this. Five beautiful children, two precious granddaughters, and this sweet husband who still after all this time looks at me with those eyes filled with love and makes my heart beat faster…who am I to be so blessed?

I spent my childhood driven, but I’ve spent many years since then drawn. He’s been pulling me closer to His side my whole life. And I feel Him now, stronger than ever, reigniting in me the purpose He has for my life, showing me where I came from and where He is taking me. I share my stories because, like Leslee, I gratefully long to share His hope.

It is a hope worth wording, and I hold it out like an early spring flower hoping someone will want to stay bowed low a little while longer just to savor the scent.

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God Is Stirring


Image

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Journal-keeping, jotting, thinking on paper, brainstorming, sorting through book material.

And all the while, God is stirring.

And my husband, strong and gentle and always whispering those little encouragements to me, just keeps on cheering, nudging me to keep pressing on until I know exactly what God is stirring in my heart. And when I get there, I know he will still be right here beside me holding my hand and telling the world, “Just look at her! Isn’t she amazing? Just wait till you read what she’s written!” And I will blush and he will grin and I will be reminded once again that I married the best guy on the planet, that guy I first saw at a stop-light, me all of fifteen.

So right now, that is my search. To see what God is stirring. Because He whispered those words to me through my dear Jo Ann with her unknowing that she was a messenger that day when we talked of illness and change and hope, that day when God also whispered to my heart to reach back one more time and pick up something I had thought was dead.

How many times has He brought life from death among my tentative steps? And now, He ignites once again a call I know He has had on me all along. I pick it up again, this time to hold fast. This time, I won’t lay it down.

Pastor said tonight that God equips the called, and not the other way around. That we can’t use excuses like we aren’t qualified, or we don’t have enough experience, or we are weak. He reminds us that through our weakness He is made strong, because who gives glory to God like those who realize how frail they truly are?

So I can’t use the excuse that there are millions of people out there just like me wanting to write a book. I can’t say that many of them write far more beautifully than I do, that they know the right people and they are more marketable and who am I but a wild child growing older but not up and in love with words.

I have nowhere to hide. And I don’t even want to hide. I just want to say, “Okay, God. Here I am. Let’s do this.”

I’m not scared, but I am a little nervous. This is an arduous process, writing. Not for the faint of heart.

I just want to be all in, nothing held back, pliable in His hand for whatever He is stirring in me. Because I know He is stirring. I can feel it. And it gets stronger with each day that passes and the drive to write becomes more urgent and I know this is what I was created to do.

It’s quite a concoction He is stirring. I hope the world is ready.

I am.

Dusk

I wish I could describe this, writing here at my desk while a breezy spring dusk settles quietly around our quaint little house on Memory Lane.

I wish I could capture the way the wind rustles the leaves and sets the wind chimes outside my office window to a dancing and singing that calms me way deep down.

I wish I could tell how the crickets tweeping and a distant dog bark mingle with a far-off sound of a closing car door and leaves me with a feeling of being part of a community among these wide mossy trees and docks where hungry turtles await bits of bread, and the narrow lanes and little bridges where duck families crossing all in a row remind me to go slowly, always go slowly across.

I wish I could share this sense of beauty, this peace, this joy that I would love to put into words.

If only I could.

Safe

i cried to you, my heart laid bare
and you stepped close and held me there
for moments there i couldn’t speak
no words would come; my voice was weak
when finally i could meet your eyes
i searched them but saw no surprise
just love like none i’d ever felt
so deep i thought my soul would melt
your soft expression seemed to say
my child, give me your thoughts today
i smoothed my hair with trembling hand
inept to help you understand
the ache within, not even i
could word the pain or quell the why
of being left outside alone
to face the darkness on my own
but as i pondered all these things
it brushed me like a monarch’s wings
the kindness in your gentle look
as though you wrote me in your book
and somehow even scared i knew
it’s safe to give my heart to you

Words

I’ve neglected coming here for a while. Not because it matters little to me, but because my energies have been spent deeply at Write Where It Hurts. I have missed being here.

In working on yesterday’s WWIH column post, I was thinking about words and how our amazing God wired me to love them. It reminded me of a poem I wrote a year or so ago after reading a book entitled Poemcrazy.

i must have created quite a picture
dozing with a giant white bear
in the crook of my arm
Poemcrazy scrawled across the bookjacket
covering my face and making a slight
indentation across my right cheek
it wasn’t a nap, entirely
not even rest, since words danced and floated
through my mind, tempting, tantalizing
like a cummings poem i’d read as a child
(it stuck with me, his style, only i didn’t know then
that something in me was secretly longing for that kind
of freedom; i rediscovered him today in the pages pressing against my forehead)
i must have seemed a taciturn eccentric
hands limp and relaxed as verse took shape
behind the book resting on my face
shielding my eyes from the sunlight of midday
(though not my ears from the whine of a weed machine
wielded by a well-intentioned neighbor)
i recalled lines i’d read moments before
and how i had smiled at the mention of word games
i’d played in my girlhood
how did she know
i dreamed in word tickets of meander and flummox and herb garden
and winery and worthlessness and side-winder
while the whining ebbed and flowed and breezes blew
and my hair tickled me awake
so even though it might appear i’d left behind
lazy susans and black-eyed peas and catharsis
in the land of a people i call the ballantrae
my favorite thing of all is that
i feel a little bit like a poet today