Are You Ready? (& my one word)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

I feel I should give you fair warning. We’re going through a lot of lasts these days as we ready ourselves for retirement. It finds me with rich memories that dampen my eyes and new questions that can’t be answered – yet. At times, it feels like I’m trying to keep my balance while on a rocking boat. I love the water but those waves remind you to steady your balance and that sometimes you need to let the waves carry you.

I’m giving you warning because I feel as if I’m repeating myself and talking too much about this part of our life. I don’t want to be that person but it’s taking up a lot of mental space these days. I’m trying to get a jump on the packing well in advance so we can be ready. So far, that’s the easy part. I’m also trying to focus more on being emotionally ready and that’s where it gets tricky.

We had a wonderful time over the holidays with family being in and out and allowing us to pivot our attention on being together. There is always a lot of laughter, too much food and satisfied exhaustion from staying on the go. 

The decorations have been packed away and our house looks bare in comparison to its recent festive glow. The linens have been washed from our full house. The fridge still holds some leftovers daring me to do some creative cooking. 

Getting ready for the next thing always starts with some cleaning up, some putting away, and some letting go.

I need toclean up my habits which perennially include drink more water, move more, and (this year) eat less. 

I need to put away my attitude…the one that is full of sass and let go of my expectations of others. 

I also want to remember to embrace what is before me. So far, I have a clear view of what is behind and only vague uncertainties about what is ahead. I can let it come or I can choose to welcome new possibilities. Embrace is the word that called out to me as a gentle guide for this season. It’s the posture I want to guide me to a new readiness. Arms wide open.

Write 31 Days – week 1

Every October writers are invited to join the write31days challenge. Most choose a theme to focus on for the month and post daily on their blogs. I’ve participated in this a few times. It’s a challenging exercise.

I wasn’t going to participate this year until….

A friend was putting a twist on it. She decided to post a photo to go with a word prompt on Instagram for the month. That sparked my creativity. Photography is something that helps me explore the unforced rhythms of grace.

I thought I’d expand on that by sharing my Instagram posts for the week in Saturday blog posts for the month.

It’s interesting to put a visual expression to words. They’re sometimes abstract in thought and other times intimately personal. Choosing an image to go with the word forces me to dig deeper and look at the word from new perspectives. This is particularly a good practice when creativity feels absent.

What I see may not be what you envision which makes the process more interesting. I’d enjoy you sharing your thoughts in the comment section. What do you see? What doe these words and/or photos say to you? Let’s explore together.

Day 1 | Story

“Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls.” Melody Beattie

Day 2 | Afraid


“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Day 3 | Believe


This beautiful beach in Haiti was a harsh contrast to the garbage in the canals of Port au Prince. It was more reflective of the joyful hearts found in the people there because in the midst of their hard lives they believe in Jesus and have his joy.

“We believe in God And we all need Jesus
‘Cause life is hard
And it might not get easier
But don’t be afraid
To know who you are
Don’t be afraid to show it
If you believe in God
If you say you need Jesus
He’ll be where you are
And he never will leave you” – Amy Grant

Day 4 | Why


“We all face storms in life. Some are more difficult than others, but we all go through trials and tribulation. That’s why we have the gift of faith.” Joyce Meyer

Jesus: 3 “This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 The Voice

Day 5 | Share


Share a laugh
Share a hug
Share a coke a song a smile
Share a tear
Share love

“We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.” Billy Graham 

Day 6 | Belong


My family circa 1970. We have so few pics of us together. This one always makes me laugh seeing daddy trying to suck his belly in.

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.” Brene Brown

All photographs were taken by me or property of mine, not for reuse without permission.

Five-Minute Friday {Celebrate}


“Celebrate”, she said.

“Today?” I thought.

Really, it’s not been a great week. I’ve tossed and turned carrying burdens of friends, feeling uncertainty in decisions that don’t have to be made now except for my lack of patience. I’ve been angered by injustice to others and disappointed in much, including myself. We haven’t even seen blue skies in the Sunshine State in two days and the forecast is for more storms.


Wait, I see a sliver of blue in the sky out back. There is a small part in the clouds. For now. The rains will come again but now there is blue so yes, let’s celebrate now!

Let’s celebrate when the sun peaks out and when the rains pour down.

Let’s celebrate when the answers don’t come or the answer is no.

Let’s celebrate when it doesn’t go my way, when another sleepless night comes and when you feel forgotten. Let’s celebrate in the middle of the mess.

I can’t celebrate without gratitude and gratitude is what I need now. A heart that is thankful for umbrellas and taking risks and knowing that God knows my need.

Let’s celebrate for friends who share their burdens and friends who ask for prayer and friends you’ve never met on this side of the screen and leave you words of encouragement and truth.

Let’s celebrate every day a God who sees inside our mess and calls us His own.

Linking up with a free-writing mob of bloggers in a weekly writing prompt hosted by Kate. Stop over and be part of the conversation.



Word Processor

Maybe I’m a slow learner. I never thought that. I did okay in school. We moved too much in my high school years to find out my real strengths but I’m no dummy.

When it comes to learning about me…..others seem better. Maybe I don’t pay enough attention to myself or my perception is entirely different. Or  some of both.

Brian and I would have these long phone conversations. I’d stretch the cord on our wall phone as I’d wipe down the kitchen counters while we talked. Our conversations centered around church and serving and Jesus and these talks with him helped me flesh out what I believed. It help me go beyond the childhood beliefs and put feet to the words.


He was a new man in the Center. It was less than a week since he’d checked in to our Adult Rehabilitation Center, his first Sunday in our chapel service. Everyone had left after the service and JJ came back to introduce himself to me. He put out his hand and as I took hold of his there was nothing but flesh. No grip, just fingers held out but nothing given in return. He wanted to know if I’d take his picture so he could send it to his family. Said they’d never seen him dressed up like this.

I pulled my iPhone out and positioned him against the wall so as not to get shadows. I was going for a just below the shoulders shot so they could see his face but he motioned me back. More….more….he wanted the full view for them. From head to shiny dress shoes.

Version 2



This is why I write. Men who’ve never been taught how to give a good handshake, who’ve never been “dressed like this”. Men whose lives have brought them to through our doors, their “last chance”. Men who are so different are teaching me how more alike we are.  It’s these men and this ministry that has stirred something inside of me and brought me to pecking out the words while I search for more understanding.

I envision it as a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel. My thoughts are plunked down in a big lump. Wet, pliable but not weak or thin. There has to be strength to withstand the shaping.

Each word is taken by the potters hands and smoothed. There are times when one design is expected but, surprise!, another emerges under his skilled hands. A more suitable vessel, more fitting for service.

That is my hope, my prayer. That this word processor is not just for me but that others can connect and find their clay shaped to a form fit for service.


Riverside Pottery, Dillsboro

It’s an old hymn and I think the only reason it stays with me is its use of the imagery of pottery.

Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way

Thou are the potter I am the clay

Mold me and make me, after Thy will

While I am waiting, yielded and still.

These words I offer to be molded into truths by the Truth.

Participating in a book discussion, link-up over at Kate Motaung‘s place working our way through the book, On Being a Writer.
















Five-Minute Friday {YES}

Friday, looking at a bonus day extending the weekend.

Friday, with the weekly laundry to wash and groceries to buy.

Friday melting in to the Saturday when college football season finally returns and brings with it more yelling at people who, thankfully, can’t hear us but this is what we do when our favorite sport returns.


empty tea cup

The end of the week that brings opportunities to linger over breakfast, a chance to play or being instead of doing for a while. A chance to come together with our faith community Sunday that always brings new grace.

A time to say no to the ‘should’ and YES to the unknown possibilities. To say YES to living wholehearted, weak and trembling, but learning we are made in the image of God and he is waiting to say YES to us.

Linking up with the weekly Five-Minute Friday blog party at Kate Motaung‘s place. Stop over and share your words on this weeks prompt.

Five-Minute Friday {find}

I have lost




and my patience.

No matter how organized I want and appear to be, things are lost. The day swallows up my best intentions and this house continues to hide what is often in plain sight.

Typically, I am the one to find whatever is being looked for at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s a man thing, a husband thing, or just a my husband thing but why, for the love, can’t he see what is in the refrigerator?

We take turns rescuing each other that way because I can never find anything in the garage. hmmmm


What I’ve been looking for most these days are words. They aren’t coming freely and the ones that come aren’t feeling sure and alive. This usually means it’s time to examine myself. Am  I feeling sure in what matters and alive to what is in front of me?

Am I investing time in truths that restore and sharpen my faith?

I have felt complacency creeping around the edges as I wrestle with comparison and truth.

My value is not found in the words I write, or don’t write.

I will never find myself in accomplishments but only in God’s gracious love.




Five-Minute Friday {try}

A weekly link-up with Kate Motaung who gives the word prompt and signals GO, followed by a group of word-hungry bloggers, free writing for 5 minutes. Yep, that’s our 5-minute Friday.  This weeks prompt is ‘try’. GO!

daring adventure quote

“Try it, it’s good.”

“Try it, you’ll like it.”

“Just give it a try.”

“You have to just try a bite or you don’t get desert.”

I’ve heard my daughter negotiate with the granddaughter for the better part of five years. She’s been a stubborn eater, not willing to try new things that weren’t covered in chocolate or sugar. When you think about it, she might have a point 😉

It was equally challenging to get the granddaughter to put her face in the water in swim lessons or to try to float on her back. With her mother, a certified train the trainer lifeguard, at her side, her fears remained.

I don’t remember if I was a picky eater as a kid but I still can’t snorkel or like to have my feet on the shifting sand of ocean I can’t see. I can’t get the breathing right of the snorkel thing and that scares me and it only takes one sighting of a stingray or jelly fish close to shore to make my steps cautious and shallow.

The ‘what if’s’ have stopped many a try.

What if I fail?

What if I look stupid?

What if others laugh?

To fail is to never try at all.

To never step out of our comfort zone is to not trust God to be who he says he is.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

To never try is to never risk and to never risk is to never love.

Five-minute Friday {ten}

Linking up for the weekly five-minute free writing frenzy (say that 3 times fast!) with the gracious host, Kate Motaung. Stop by her place to link up.

The granddaughter is here this week. All 7 years of her Taylor Swift-singing, Barbie-clothes-loving self.

She reminds me of why it was good we had our kids when we were young!

Our world changes when she comes.



Surfing on Baba



The house is filled with Popsicles and Peach water. The living room earns its name as a room that is well lived in with toys scattered about from one end to the other. I will make more quesadillas in 3 days than I’ve made the last 6 months.

The lovely community pools we haven’t visited in….well, that long, are finding us regulars and I’m thankful for a flexible schedule allowing me the trips to the pool and the Dollar Tree. (7-year olds can teach you a lot about economy and the Dollar Tree!)

She jumps on our bed and I LET HER! shhh….don’t tell her mama or uncle 😉

I let her sleep in because I need that extra time for myself.  (How did I ever do this with 2?!)

But the best 10 minutes of the day are the ones spent snuggled in a chair reading from the republished Dick and Jane books (her choice), my first reader.

She nestles in close, knowing the words coming before I turn the page. We close the book and walk to her room where her iPod sits cradled to play her lullaby playlist while she sleeps and I sit on the bed next to her when she says, “sing me a song, and what about the prayer?”

That time when she wrestles with not wanting me to go but trying to be the big girl and sleep is yawning its way to both of us, that time is the best. The softest, gentlest time thanking God in soft words for his good gifts to us.

The problem isn’t…..

The problem isn’t guns.

Or abortion

Or gay marriage

Or divorce

Or terrorists

Or democrats

Or republicans

Or global warming

It isn’t the education system

Or affordable health care

Or Facebook and Twitter

It’s a heart problem.

Hearts that refuse to share, care, give and open.

Hearts that would rather blame and name than accept and forgive.

Selfish hearts whose vocabulary seems to repeat a single word over and over: Mine.

Too simplistic, this notion the problem is in our hearts?

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” 1 John 521


Forgive us, O God.

Forgive your people who have let pride, selfishness, hate and greed take your place in our hearts.

Forgive our motives that are marked by political jargon and self-advancement.

Forgive our church talk that sounds like ‘we’re in and everyone else is out’. 

Forgive our complacency.

‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’ Acts 13:22

“Don’t keep looking at my sins—erase them from your sight. 10 Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires.” Psalm 51:9-10

Five-Minute Friday {fear}

Linking up with Kate, the gracious host of Five-Minute Friday. Stop over and share your voice.

This is about daddy. Because it’s time and I should think of him more often.

An outgoing prankster filled with charm, I imagine daddy swept mama off her feet as they married when she was but 16. He was already an officer in the Salvation Army and had to resign his commission to marry her. My aunt recently told me she’d been ask to talk him out of it but his mind was made up.

When they married, he joined the U.S. Army and served the minimum with them. Mama attended the Salvation Army training college and daddy was reaccepted as an officer. They served together in several appointments, even opening the Army’s work in two cities in Arkansas.

Stories of his childhood would spill out of him when we got together with his siblings or parents. Disagreements would likely happen about the version being told but laughter was the end result.

My love of music and photography were passed down from daddy. He had more musical talent than the rest of us, being very accomplished at the trombone and playing accordion. He could play piano by ear enough to pick out chords when needed.

Daddy moved fast. He coached church ball teams, took church youth groups on outings, picked up donations, opened thrift stores to help support the local work and handled business of the local units he directed. He preached on Sunday, sometimes also leading the songs as he played the accordion.

He let us listen to the radio of our choice at breakfast and in the car. He whistled. Often.

I scared him to death as I got older. I should have stayed with mom. He didn’t know how to raise a teenage girl and did it out of fear. Strict curfews and questions made me feel guilty of things not done. Dances weren’t allowed and being late 5 minutes once resulted in a scene I’ll never forget.

I learned early daddy wasn’t perfect. I never doubted he loved me. Never.

Performing my brother’s wedding ceremony

Well into his 50’s he called one day to ask my forgiveness. He was tearful. I was uncomfortable. I’m not sure what, specifically, he wanted forgiveness for. I don’t think I handled it well. He knew I loved him. I’m sure of it.

His last few years were sad. Poor health from diabetes brought an early retirement and he could never handle that mentally. He was depressed, trapped physically. He died at 63. It was unexpected even though he’d had problems. There was a relief of sorts. A relief knowing all of his sorrow was gone.

I marvel at how much my brother seems to know about him that I don’t. Last week Paul talked about daddy liking baseball. A sport I never remember him watching. I’ve already forgotten the team Paul said he liked. Boys and their dads. It’s different. Mama was right. Paul needed to live with dad after their divorce. Mama was mostly right. Daddy told me that. He told me he couldn’t handle that she was so often right. Big for him to admit to that. Sad he couldn’t live with it. Fear had its grip.

Father’s Day. Not the same attention as Mother’s Day. There won’t be as many cards sold or phone calls made. I was blessed. My parents weren’t good at marriage but they could have written a book on how to behave after divorce. For that, I’m thankful. For his laughter, his loving me as best he could, him teaching me to drive, him loving Henry and him loving God. All of that and more I’m grateful to my heavenly Father.

Full disclosure: This was originally written three years ago but never published. It obviously took over 5 minutes to write but less than that to edit today. It fit today’s word prompt, fear, and it fits our recognition of Father’s Day this weekend. Thank you for your kind grace.