5 Good Things

1. sons
Our second child was a boy. It’s nearly incomprehensible how much joy both of our children bring. I delight in the differences between daughters and sons. We have been through challenging times with this boy. Perhaps that is what makes the joy so full.

2. breakfast
I’ve always been a breakfast person even when it meant a carton of chocolate milk picked up at the convenience store. Most of my life it’s been little more than cereal and milk. The past few years it’s become a more intentional menu. After visiting Israel I came home eating yogurt most days for breakfast. Greek yogurt, nuts, honey and hot tea, preferably Tazo Organic Chai…..yum!

3. community worship
I’m lousy at personal worship. I’m impatient and self-conscious and all of that. But coming together with others and seeing their expressions is where I find a deeper appreciation.

4. rhythm
I like complicated beats. The kind that aren’t always expected. A syncopated rhythm or at least one with with hesitation. It draws me in. Makes me notice. But the subtle rhythms of life are the ones that trip me up. I don’t know what takes me so long to notice them and make the connections they are drawing in my life.

5. old things
An old manual typewriter sits not far from where I sit now. It doesn’t work well. You can’t get a piece of paper in it because the paper wheel doesn’t grab properly. But I like seeing it. The record player across the room isn’t as obvious. It plays vinyl but it’s not old. It’s made to look like a replica and has a few modern hookups. I learned to type on a manual but one perhaps not this old. I asked for a record player for my 15 birthday and had one until getting the new things called c.d. players in the 80’s. Today even the younger ones are turning back to what is old. They wear wireless headphones while listening to needles glide across vinyl records. Amazing.

The best old things are friends.

“Let Us Help You”

sepia toddler boy

I have a voice. Not one to serenade you with song unless you like your tunes a bit off key. I am loud like most of my family but unlike my mother I also have the ability to whisper. And, generally, I know when to use my inside voice and when to yell.

My husband calls my side of the family the Loud family. He also calls us Announcers. We, apparently, loudly announce that we’re leaving the room, going to the store, making a phone call, or taking a shower. We are the voices of information.

I use my voice to make people smile as easily as I use it in defense of something that seems wrong. Ill treatment of others gets me speaking out. I write letters, use my vote, stand by them. Many times it means being silent to listen to the one wronged.

It’s easy to confuse speaking out  with reaching out. But they are very different.

My voice goes silent when it’s time to reach out for help. I wait for someone to notice I’m fragile and about to break. I wait for them to see me beneath all the masks I’m wearing trying to look strong and secure.

I was walking down the hall outside my office with my hands full. Nothing heavy but a bit awkward. One of the residents called out, “You need some help?” No thanks, I’ve got it. A few more steps and this time he said, “Let us help you”.

If we’re honest, I think that’s what most of us are waiting for. We’re carrying our load like a boss. We’re the parent, spouse, manager, leader, pastor……we’re the strong one. Sometimes the weight is heavy but we prop it on our hips, use our legs to lift it and we carry on. “I’ve got this.”

Maybe it isn’t heavy at all but it’s awkward. It doesn’t fit. Still you soldier on. You’ve said “I’ve got this” time after time, hoping for that one to insist “Let us help you”.

If I had to describe Jesus today I’d say he looked like William. A white guy in his 50’s, out of shape, missing several teeth and a bit worn looking. I wouldn’t have recognized his face but I knew his voice when he said Let me help you. 

To Gavin

Gavin –

To be sure, we don’t know from experience what you are entering. We do know about change and you are about to experience one of the biggest changes in your life.

Emotions run high in times of change. Many of them the result of grief, something often overlooked as we forget grief comes with any loss.

You will grieve the place you’ve lived for 4 years. The place you came to as a broken, searching man. Near hopeless you walked through the doors. Not in your wildest imagination could you see becoming employed with us and then, surprise of all surprises!, God has called you to be an ordained minister of his grace.

You are going through the journey of lasts. Last softball game, last retreat, last youth night. These times that have been ordinary days in your life suddenly hold a title and their importance hits deep in your heart. They should. You have poured yourself out for others and emotions are the result of that pouring.

There are more lasts to come and the task of handing off what was yours to another. A reminder that what is ours was never ours but always His.

You’ve made friends and built relationships. You’ve gone deeper in life than you ever thought you would. This doesn’t come without tears, pain and struggle. You are also enjoying the rewards which are peace, serenity and a certainty that you are loved.


Murder Mystery Night

Some of these friendships will span miles and years but most will change and fade in the rearview mirror. The lessons they’ve brought and memories will be cherished. Get those photos off your camera roll and fill up boxes of these people and events because there will be days you need these visual reminders. They will be your affirmation that you have walked the right path and will help guide your future.

Goodbyes are hard. I have never figured out how to say them with any sort of depth. I’m not alone in this. It seems common throughout our denomination. A group that loves to host events for everyone and has official Sundays called “Farewell Sunday” and all we can do is sit through them with feigned smiles while people we never really got along with say nice things about someone who sounds a little like us.

So what can I tell you about that? I can tell you to do it your way. Hug longer those you love and smile politely to those who showed you how not to be. Do it your way. It’s your time anyway, we just tend to forget that.

People are going to ask a lot from you these last weeks. They will want you to share your story and do it in 7 minutes or less. And in that time they will expect you to inspire the whole group who has gathered to hear someone else. Get use to it. There will be plenty more of those in the years ahead. Never forget God uses the ways of the foolish to confound the wise 😉

Alumni Sunday

Alumni Sunday

The best thing we can tell you is what you already know:  your life isn’t yours but it is God’s. That means it will be hard and challenging, painful and uncertain.

It also means the rewards will be amazing and miracles will surround you in disguises you may not initially recognize.

They will come in the forms of church members who are too grumpy but the first ones to cook food for you when you are sick.

It will be the teenager who is a bit slow and the music instructors at camp ask you not to send him back because he just can’t get it. But he calls you even when you’ve moved states away because you made a difference in his life when he needed to know what a father was.

These small moments will be enough because you will know they are really the big moments when God’s grace reaches through the biggest hurts and reminds you again, you are loved.

When we say goodbye to you it will be too little. Remember they are just words. And words that fail to say what is in the heart.

You are one of the miracles. You have encouraged and instructed us with your devotion, intention, integrity, character, honesty, willingness, energy, heart, caring, compassion, dedication, and vulnerability. We don’t expect you being in another state will change the impact you have on our lives. We look to learn even more from you and we thank God for the opportunity he gives us.

Our figurative door will continue to be open to you. You’ll be getting one of those smart phones, which means your texts will show up on ALL of my devices. (Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that.)

You have a collective family who will be praying for you, encouraging you and probably still harassing you. It’s what we do to people we love and we love you Gavin. We do.



The grass withers and the flowers fade….

flowers fade verse

I spent the weekend in the Carolinas where the sun never came full-out and the dreary skies colored my days and attitude.

I met new friends and got to know acquaintances better.

I sat with 300 other ordained women celebrating God’s calling on our lives but the surroundings, the temporary hung over me like the cloud that follows PigPen from the Peanuts cartoon strip. Heaviness hung too deep and I allowed it to stay.


Friends brought laughter and the reminder of what is temporary and what lasts.

I am thankful God’s word isn’t affected by weather or my attitude but it lasts forever. It is there in sun and shadow, in good and bad, in sorrow and in joy.

Young love

It is young love. Not young of age but young of new where the two are still enamored with each new place, new event, something special to share between them. He wants to take her to this restaurant where the fish taco’s are great and she really needs to go on the boat, to enjoy the leisurely ride down the intracoastal, this part of Florida is new to her. She bounces when we hit the wake of another boat and he moves around her, arms holding her close. He smiles at her wide eyes as we bounce along and she asks me to take their picture.



It was at summer camp and we were 13 and had I had no idea his kindness and attention meant he liked me. In that liked me kind of way. It wasn’t love, not even puppy love but the newness, you remember. The smiles, the sweetness, the confusion.

I’ve never been good with love. I’ve had trouble recognizing it and then not sure what to do with it. The butterflies in your stomach weren’t always truthful. But sometimes love is something others see more from the outside than you see within.

me-Henry1977 BW

I have this man, that after 37 years still pulls me close and I still blush and wriggle away, struggling with accepting his generous affections. Sometimes I lean in because I know this is love, not the fake stuff where you pretend to like everything the other one likes.

Oscar Roan  Oscar Roan

I watched Oscar smile big watching his new wife move about, learning her way in their life together.

I thought about our early days of love and my continual missteps at accepting all that he gives. And in it I turned my thoughts to the days when Jesus was my first love. That time is still clear to me. The time when I realized the church wasn’t my salvation and my parents Jesus was theirs, not mine. They couldn’t make that decision. It could only come from me and that summer of the year they divorced I decided He would be my personal Jesus. He would get me through life and I would turn to him. Always.


Mama and I moved where I had no one, no friends, no family, not even a familiar spot, only familiar songs on the radio. I especially needed Jesus and I spent time reading the bible. I carried it to school some days, sitting in a quiet spot at lunch to read more. First love. It’s like that.

I guess seeing this new love with our friend reminded me how stale I’ve let mine get. That love for Jesus, the only one who is love. It’s not just what he says but He. Is. Love. I know it. I claim it. But. But I treat him like an acquaintance. Like someone I used to know but have let the friendship grow cold.

My best relationships are two-sided. They are give and take. It’s time I give more. It’s time I accept more. Of Him.

“Yet there is one thing wrong; you don’t love me as at first! Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before…” Revelation 2:4-5 TLB

People {the welcoming kind}

Boots. Everywhere boots. And scarves. I expected the scarves. They’re a thing. But the boots, yeah, surprise. I didn’t get the memo on that one and my Chuck’s, well, just yeah.

Chucks and boots

Did I mention all I saw were the youngER faces and the long earrings? That whole birds of a feather and like attracts like thing had me feeling like my flock was flying in another place. Why did I think I could come to this?

Honest first thoughts. That’s me in new places. The whole new girl flashbacks from changing schools 13 times came flooding back as I felt lost and out-of-place. But then….

I was waiting with a few women for the doors to open Thursday night. Everyone seemed to have at least one friend with me. Except me. It’s up to me I decided so I talked first. And then she talked and then another and that’s how it happens y’all. You just start. Here’s the really crazy part, as we exchanged the basics and she asked what I did and I said I was with the Salvation Army SHE KNEW WE ARE A CHURCH! That’s big. Really big because even at all the faith-based conferences I’ve attended that may have only happened once. Or not at all I’m not really sure because I’ve been to a lot. Her response to me was “Oh, my husband was with that church. It’s the church he grew up in.” WHAT? Bless her.

Allume flowers

But Wait…..there’s more

The thing at Allume is you don’t sit at the same table with the same people at meals and being alone and all that was good with me. So here I am at the table doing that talking thing again when another said, “And what do you do?” And (you see it coming don’t you) she said, “I LOVE the Salvation Army” and turns out we know some of the same people and she’s with Christian Leadership Alliance who I appreciate and have attended their conferences. And we both love Haiti and Jesus and that was really the thing here. We love Jesus and people. His people who are all people.


Allume team pics

Love First pic

Still more…..

This little lady with a huge heart and smile took the stage and Logan just made my heart smile with hers and somewhere in the boots and scarves I was welcomed and knew I belonged. Here. Among the young mommies and sales reps and retired women and photographers and the ones still trying to figure it out (aren’t we all?) I felt welcome in the kind of way that says you belong. Right here. Right now.

Yesterday and Today

You’d think I’d know by now, know that there’s little you can really plan. Oh, you can make plans but life doesn’t always listen or the hotel says, no, we don’t have a reservation for you. So you ask if they have a room and she says yes and while you’re hurriedly changing clothes to get to the gathering at the funeral home she calls and tells you you’re actually booked at another hotel. Plans.

No one plans to bury their child, no matter how old that child is. You don’t plan to be calling in family and friends or to be flying across the country to her and then flying to a cancer hospital in another state only to take her home one last time. There is no preparation for this but it happens and someone has to lead. For awhile it was the cancer leading, dictating their travel their schedules, their lives. Cancer lead the way into uncharted territory, into the shadow of the valley of death but when it seemed like death had won, their spirit took the lead. For her, for their daughter who named her interior design business Immortal Peace. Their peace, shaky as it was, lead them through this shadow of death.

Takin' it to the streets

Takin’ it to the streets

the Last Adam (it was the 80's)

the Last Adam (it was the 80’s)

Front Line house

Scan 3

I remember their arrival to lead our church in 1981. She refers to it as their “Camelot”. It was the perfect fit of young couples waiting for someone to take the lead, someone we could not only follow but learn to lead with them. So they did. And we did. They dreamed big dreams and infused some of the old traditions with new life. They had a vision for ministry and brought us into it wherever we fit.

We were going into jails to visit and sharing the Good News on the streets to prostitutes. We were standing at the Greyhound Bus Station with our horns in full uniform, inhaling all that exhaust and exhaling a message of hope. Few people were ever there but we were.

We had a band before everyone had a band and they were good and they shared Good News. We started a newsletter called The Front Line and shared stories of redemption and grace.

We had cookouts in our backyards and she drove to our house to plant a sign in our front yard announcing to the neighborhood I was turning 30. We shared life together then and today they lead and we shared the way.

seed packets

wildflower seeds




memorial service


family & guests table


Team Crabson

They were in the funeral home with their two other children, a small gathering of family and friends mingling about. We hugged and she teared up and I teared up and we decided we’d cry together when we needed to. I stood next to her as others came in to offer words of sympathy. I saw her attention immediately turn to the older women on walkers. Women from the small church they attend. In their retirement years they choose to serve and it was evident as she welcomes them. “She never goes out” she says to me before she leans down to share a hug. These women come first because the least are first in God’s kingdom and she’s sharing that kingdom even in her grief.

We’ve been given assignments for the service. This one is leading the service, another leading two songs, he’s reading selected verses and I’m reading Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer, “in a modern version so their ears will hear it fresh”, he directs. We all will share our memories and connections to their family. Follow the leader.

“Well team”, he says, “you did it.” We are sitting at tables in the small fellowship room of this tiny church. It’s as if we’re in the church where we first met, with him leading as we eagerly follow.


You follow people who bring you into their vision, their dream. You follow people who have a plan, who can give direction. You follow someone who is following the One. It’s hard to explain but when you’re in their presence you know because the spirit of grace, mercy, love, peace, kindness, goodness, and all those things you want in your life, all of those they share as they lead. Yesterday and today.

Linking up with SheLoves Magazine on their monthly topic: lead.

Five-Minute Friday {ready}

The early morning sun was illuminating the side of the house. I could just see a wedge from my vantage point with more being revealed as I walked from across the street. I saw a bit of water behind the house and thought what a view they must have: the water with first light coming above.

Another death. A woman diagnosed 7 months ago. A woman we knew as a teenager with her wild hair framing her sweet smile, her frame slender like her dad’s, her laugh gracious like her moms. Their middle child, baby girl, gone from this earth. They weren’t ready for this. No one is.

These days we count more funerals than weddings and more deaths than births. The view is through the mist of grief, the view of mourning and sorrow. Even in our faith, a faith that believes in eternity and a life far better for those who believe, we grieve. For our loss. The absence of the hair swirling around her face, absence of her laugh that sang her part. They are missing a piece of their heart and even the promise of eternal life where sickness and pain is no more, even with that we hurt and weep and our hearts break because we are broken people and will be until we see eternity. Even while we celebrate a life lived with promise and hope and beauty, even still we grieve.

The houses have little more than 8 feet between. My view was limited but I kept my head turned trying for that glimpse of what they must see the full view. Through a sliver I saw what the houses hid: a parking lot for the apartments with cars crowded together and just to the left, the golden ball of sun.

Not a full view. Not a pretty view. Not in totality. Only in part. Only if your focus is the sun. Only if you can train your mind to block out the distractions below.

We choose our view. To see our life distracted by the view of loss and mourning. It is a view I have chosen for a moment in time. But it is only a partial view. Temporary. For “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” 1 Corinthians 13:12 the Message

Linking up with Kate Motaung and a host of Friday-loving, word-loving bloggers to just write.

A quiet moment to ponder

The house is quiet this morning, just the patter of rain before dawn. Rain that is keeping me from being on the sidewalks getting some movement into these bones that would rather enjoy the comfort of sleep.

I’ve read a brave piece from a woman who stood silenced to her core with embarrassment at having her baby stillborn. Embarrassment? It baffles me that would be her feeling but who am I to question what I’ve not known. And not knowing her my heart still breaks a little at her pain in accepting and pain in telling.

empty tea cup

I’ve put the kettle on for tea on this rainy day and gave a mental glimpse at the day ahead. It will be full at times and there will be gaps to be filled with the unknown. A typical day for me. Potential. Possibility.

My eyes land on the empty canvases propped against the wall. One is oval. I’ve never used oval nor am I a fan of that shape for any artistic endeavor but I said I’d try it. I thought I’d paint something for my aunt on that canvas. She’d like that, I think. It’s taken me near a lifetime to realize art doesn’t always have to be made for someone else but that’s the real joy in it for me.

Ah, now the birds are chirping in the post rain shower. The clouds aren’t moving to let the first glimpse of daylight in. It’s still the rainy season here and it’s been that on steroids this summer.

paints tag
A big spiral art tablet has been the medium to teach me art can be kept and art can be healing and it can be just for me and it really, really, doesn’t have to be very good at all. Maybe it’s like singing. You know how people say when our voices reach heaven God hears an angelic choir, perfect harmony, everyone hitting their pitch and it is like a symphony of voices? Or something like that. Maybe that’s what doodles are to Him to? Our scribblings with smudges and blunders that become a masterpiece to him. When the art is offered from our heart.

I scanned Pinterest for ideas of what to paint for my aunt. I’m thinking something wintry like a Cardinal in a tree. That would fit an oval nicely, I think. I pin a few things and a moment that rarely comes to me. That moment when I realize I’m brave. Too often I am not or don’t see it and they are the same, I think. But I realize here’s something I’ve never done before that I’m considering has real possibility and I’m not filled with fear. Honestly, I’m a bit astonished.

Maybe I’m learning a few things in life. Maybe I’m learning that art is a language, as my sweet friend told me. It’s one of God’s languages and is how he speaks to me to calm my soul. How he makes me brave and reveals his beauty to me one clumsy brush stroke at a time.

In the big yellow house by the lake

It was a week set aside for good things. Good weather, good friends, good words, new experiences that would mark our lives and leave us marked by the good we’d experienced.

Instead, it started with change and sadness. Then it rained chasing our outdoor plans inside. Schedules started bumping into each other and expectations were realized when they weren’t met. Feelings were hurt and sleep was lost and anxiety crept in for performances to be made. Because even on the mountain, in the midst of creations splendor surrounded by your most loved family, life happens. We show up. All of our battered, messy and imperfect selves show up.

And then grace.

lake house

around the lake

around the lake

Marian says put your truth on the table. So we did. Mostly calm and quiet words from this woman who is rarely calm or quiet. And grace was given and hugs shared and tender places soothed because our love is deeper than feelings.

kk uncle J iphone


silly family photo

men folk



Somewhere in the midst of the coming and going, the earlier-than-I’d-like mornings and later, noisier nights grace was surrounding us all. It came out in loud laughter and a few tears and old stories and new revelations and friendships healed and renewed. Grace does what it does: it smooths the rough edges of self and touches the others pain. It reaches out to accept the hug and it says “I choose you”. Just because.

In this big yellow house by the lake, our annual rental with ever-changing family members and friends, the week spent at a bible conference (of all places!), life follows us. We’re reminded of the challenges of coming together and we remember the ebbs and flows of others and we beg grace from each other. We learn the truth in the words of Jesus when he said His grace is sufficient because it is. It’s enough.

Adding my voice to Meredith Bernard‘s #Woman2Woman link-up.