The Perfect Side of Boring

Yesterday was the reason people live in South Florida. The skies were a cloudless blue. Humidity was low and the temperature never got above a pleasant 80*. It was perfect. It’s January and this is our winter. 

My freshman English teacher assigned us to write how we envisioned the world. I don’t remember the words I wrote only her comments written in red on the top of my paper. I wrote my vision of a perfect world and she wrote “how boring” that would be.

She didn’t know my parents had divorced earlier that year and that my dad took my younger brother and moved to another state. She didn’t know mom and I also moved and were living far from family. She didn’t know my perfect world had been turned upside down.

How could there be a problem with perfect? If it were boring it wouldn’t be perfect. How did my teacher not get that?

In the years since I’ve learned a lot about perfection and perspective. I know that most of our days are average and ordinary. They are doing the mundane things that must be done. We’re buying groceries and preparing meals. We’re doing laundry and washing dishes, sitting in meetings and standing in lines. We’re fighting traffic in our daily commute while trying to remember everything on our to-do list for the day.

If we’re honest, on the days nothing breaks down they are perfect. And perhaps, some would say, boring. 

So what is perfect? Is it blue skies and 80* in winter? 

If I could, I’d live somewhere else July – September. The humidity is stifling and temperatures rarely get below 77. Heat + humidity = feels like in the 90’s. Every day, month after muggy month.

But we stay because we love palm trees and the close proximity to the ocean. We know the promise of winter. The same reasons some stay through snowy winters. They know the promise of summer.

Perfect is personal. That’s what my teacher didn’t understand.

When my parents divorced I still went to school, mom and I still went to church. We did all the same things but it wasn’t the same. What was ordinary before now looked perfect. Obviously it wasn’t for my parents but it was for my 13 year old self.

It would seem the route to perfection is through hard times. Through times that aren’t comfortable. The prettiest roses I’ve seen grow in climates with cold, snowy winters. 

The weather is simply an analogy for how it is in life. It helps me see that a day of doing all the things can be perfect, if not spectacular. 

Write 31 Days {week 3}


14 | ask

41 years ago today, the minister asked and we said “I Do” 


15 | When

“Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. ” – Ray Bradbury 

When? Now


16 | Pray

Some of our family live in Panama City, Florida. Hurricane Michael has devastated that community. It will be months before any kind of normal will resume. My brother-in-law made the decision to stay in their home. It was a category 2 storm when they went to bed Tuesday night. No one was forecasting it would be a strong cat 4 when the country woke up Wednesday morning. This photo is of one of the rooms in their house. He and his wife stood where they thought it was safest as the winds snapped a big pine tree in their yard that fell on their roof and rolled on to the back of his truck. They are thankful to have survived along with their sons and families there. But as the needs of this community fade from the headlines (as they are) please don’t forget to pray for them. Pray for electricity and clean water to be restored. For hospitals and schools to be able to reopen. For needs to be met and strangers to come together as neighbors.  Pray for each other.


17 | Pause

This beach is where we go to pause. Lucky for us it’s only a 20 minute drive and worth the congested traffic. The limitless horizon, the sky that is never the same, the palm trees waving their crowns, the ebb and flow of the tide…all of this part of creation is like breathing. It’s where I can finally exhale and inhale God’s grace.

 “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 the Message

18 | Search

I search books and music for meaning, for rest, for encouragement and self-improvement. Sometimes in my quieter, darker moments I’ve even searched for God. I’ve found he’s never far. He’s in the words, the melodies, the smiles and tears. He’s in each life-giving breath.

“His purpose in all this was that people of every culture and religion would search for this ultimate God, grope for Him in the darkness, as it were, hoping to find Him. Yet, in truth, God is not far from any of us.” Acts 17:27 the VOICE


19 | who

The song sticks in my head, unwanted and uninvited. While the WHO were a band of my generation they weren’t a band I followed but that song…….’who are you, who, who, who, who?’ Now it’s on a loop in your head. You’re welcome 😉 

Who is the word prompt for today.  So, who are you? We use descriptors on our tag lines and about pages like mom of two, wife of one…..writer, artist, believer, sister, friend..”  But who are you? If you’re like me it might depend on the day or even the time of the day. I’m not the same at 7 am that I am at 10 am. But those are external things. 

Who I am behind the externals is a deep feeler, an over thinker and someone who desperately wants to give grace to others to the great extent it’s been give me.

So, who are you?


20 | audience

Our great-nephew turned 1 this week. No doubt he is surrounded by an audience of family and friends coming to celebrate his life. He’s my brother’s first grandchild and the delight of his Jefe and Honey (the names are really getting creative!), his aunts of multiple generations and cousins. All of us not living close enough to gobble up baby hugs but we remain his biggest fans.

The Mist


I don’t know what early mornings look like the other 11 months of the year in this part of North Carolina but many mornings in August the mist hangs low, almost touching the surface of the lake. There is a stillness even as the geese glide across the glassy water.

Any time of day is quieter here by this lake surrounded by the Smokey Mountains. It’s offering a peace your body forgets it needs until the stillness finds you.
Life is going on as usual. Bills will come in, issues will have to be dealt with at home, laundry needs to be done and meals prepared. But none of it seems burdensome cloaked in the mist and sound of nature.
We hear the crunch of gravel as cars rumble past our house just off the lake. They are few and slow. Bird song and voices carry from across the way penetrating the stillness.
Being surrounded by layer upon layer of nature helps me realize why people forsake the tidy neighborhoods of cookie cutter homes in cities and suburbs.
Five houses on the left daisies reach across the asphalt of the one way road giving access to our side of the oval shaped “neighborhood”. The red clapboard house next door has window boxes of flowers and some days we catch sight of a rabbit foraging on the ground between our houses.
Swans swim at one end of the lake while geese waddle at the other with random paddleboats and kayaks in between. It’s a 3 mile walk around this lake that’s lined with a multicolored rose garden. There’s no place you can go in this small town without a burst of color. It is the only sound that complements this quiet.
We share this space with family. The quiet will be short lived. Soon voices will be making decisions and dissections. We’ll decide which pies to order for our midweek gathering as we dissect the message at the morning’s meeting – part of our work that brings us here.
There are responsibilities that have traveled with us. We haven’t left all of life’s noise behind. The difference is the easy temperatures that invite us to sit on the porch and listen more closely to the call of the birds. We hear a distant saw and the buzz of crickets or cicadas. (This city girl doesn’t know the difference.) Being in these surroundings provide a layer of resistance to the demands that make me wonder can I do this at home?
Why does it seem easier to allow frustration to rule at home? We can’t change our physical surroundings. August in South Florida is stifling with humidity that makes porches empty. Our night skies are polluted with artificial light from below making the stars above invisible. There is a constant rumble of sound: a grinding truck, roaring motorcycle, bass beat throbbing from a car or neighbor’s radio playing across the backyard of our zero lot line homes. The noise in our heads is the hardest to quiet. I want to think if only. If only we lived here. If only this was our setting. If only this quiet, this mist that shrouds reality could follow me home.
The mist finally parts and we see clearly the houses on the other side of the lake.
When you can’t change things you accept what is. Acceptance and I aren’t on good terms. I fight it like a toddler fighting a nap. When faced with denial or acceptance I like to think I choose acceptance. All be it begrudgingly. Reality stares me down and wins.
Acceptance says be thankful for the time away and enjoy the change of scenery. It reminds us to have gratitude for little things: air conditioning at home, and, big things: meaningful work to do. Acceptance acknowledges God is in the mist just as he is in the cloudless blue skies; in the mountains and the oceans.
Acceptance is a soul-saving surrender to a loving God.

Five-minute Friday {tomorrow}

I will

Eat better

Start exercising

Watch less TV/Netflix/YouTube…..whatever 

Get enough sleep

Do more

Start following a budget

Stop complaining

Read my bible every day

Be nicer, better, smarter, thinner, healthier

Give myself a break

It’s a full To-Do list for a day that never comes….


Hard as it can be, I’m choosing to live in the today’s. 

Linking up with Kate Motaung and a friendly bunch of bloggers to free write for 5 minutes on the word Kate gives and GO! Join the party!

Five-minute Friday {paint}

I’ve always used a light hand with color. Always easier to make darker than to lighten. Too much color scares me so I tread lightly, preferring to use a splash rather than a wall of color.

I don’t remember if I was 19 or maybe 23 but I’ll never forget her words. Slipping out of my row after church one Sunday, the tall lady who had her generations look of a southern lady stopped to greet me and offered these words: “I was always told if the barn needs painting, paint it.” 

Barn? What barn? It actually took me a moment to register she was talking about me, my face, my choice of makeup application.



Debby5-77 copy


Mama never wore makeup. At all. Ever. She had no need really but I think she didn’t have the confidence and shied away from color she would have thought bold. Her eyes that pretty brown with the glisten of kindness. She needed no paint to cover them. I didn’t learn from mama about makeup or fashion but she didn’t will me to live by her choices. I poured over the magazines and kept in step with my time, my comfort with a light hand. A comfortable hand.

Words can cover us like thick layers of paint blotting out our true grain and texture. Her words may have stuck with me but they didn’t change my habits. She didn’t change my style and my choice to allow what shows most is me.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Bakers blog and a host of bloggers joining in for Five-Minute Friday where we gather each week to free write on the word prompt provided by Lisa. To read others or join in, click here.

When we don’t want real

It’s just a simple selfie I took for a photo prompt. It was uncomfortably close and I didn’t like it much (too much face!) so I played with some filters until I told my inner critic to ‘shut up!’ and settled on this.


Since getting a better camera, my enjoyment of photography has grown and I find the photo prompts often help push me to view things differently. To look from another angle or play with white space and different filters on various photo apps. It pushes the right creative buttons for me.

But when I changed my profile pic on Facebook to the above selfie, I got a mixture of comments and concern. I was surprised by the reactions and wonder if it’s just too real for some folks.

My sister let the photo tell a short story to her but she knows the me behind the smile and we share that heavy heart for mama. One expressed his concern for how “sad” I look and two told me they just don’t like it. James said he appreciates the artistic part of it but he doesn’t like it of me and another echoed that.

Over-thinker that I am I think they don’t want to see this me. The me who isn’t always smiling, the me who is introspective and more real than the one they see.

It’s a crazy line, the one of leadership, ministry, pastoring, mentoring. It’s a line that few seem to see. Until you post a photo like this. Then the focus sharpens and reveals a picture most prefer: always smiling, happy, worry-free, carefree, strong, energetic, faith-filled true believer.

They’ve heard me share from pain and seen me fight back the tears of sorrow and smile through tears of joy. They’ve heard me proclaim the hope I have and it is real. All of it is me. It’s just that, I’m not always smiling. And I think this might be hard for some. To allow me that space where I am the me for me and not for them.

David, from the Old Testament part of the Bible, David was a poet, musician, shepherd, king, commander-in-chief, adulterer, best friend, man after God’s own heart. His poetry was at one moment roaring cheers to God and the next, tears of sorrow and lament. He was all of those things and it is something I connected with early on. His ups and downs mirrored mine as I was going through my parents divorce in my teenage years. His words gave voice to my heart cries.

There is that side of me. It’s not as happy “looking” but just as joy-filled. Just as assured of God’s love for me in all views of my life.

My one word this year is be. This is me. Blue, harried, thoughtful, quiet and introspective, loud and laughing, loving and guarding, struggling and finding. I am missing my youth and looking forward to new adventures. I risk love while trying to guard from the pain that comes with risk. I am smart and eager to learn. I am anxious and terribly sarcastic. I am uncomfortable with praise and eager to please (though not as much as in my youth).

I am a leader and follower. I am learning to love me. “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

Five-Minute Friday {hero}

She didn’t sign up for this, she said. I’m quite sure she’s never seen the cape that so often goes with the title, hero, but isn’t that just like a hero; to not know they are?

This girl, by far the baby in our family, made sister by the mama we share. We’ve never shared the same house or lived in the same state. She grew up an only child, much-loved by her daddy, his only child. But here she is, showing her big sis and brother and what a hero looks like.

Mama, me and Lisa in 2009

Mama, me and Lisa in 2009

Raising three children with her husband, both working and serving, you expect, you love, you give thanks for provision and strength. A mother with dementia is not an added bonus.  And that’s where she soars. Not on the winds carrying her cape but on the strength of grace and grace alone.

The posture of a hero is one bent low in sacrifice of time and sometimes tears. It’s not the pose of Superman standing stick straight but rather that of Jesus bent low washing the feet of his disciples. My sister has no idea how much her sacrifice means to me. I’ve tried to tell her but that kind of gratitude is too heavy for words. When words won’t do, love does.

Linking up with a host of bloggers in the Five-Minute Friday community hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. To add your voice or read others, click here


Old or New?

His sister calls him Boy. Still. Now in their 30’s she calls out Boy and the Boy has to have sound playing. Something, always, in the background. In the car he quickly commandeered the radio, asking, “mom, what are the good stations?” I tell him there aren’t any, I listen to my iPod. After one night in town he tells me there are good stations, just not my kind.

His words stuck as we have similar taste in music and have always found common ground there. Songs he was singing along to, band names, not familiar. I wanted to defend myself. Tell him I listen to more than old rock and start mentally compiling a list of newish bands I like. I come up with The Lone Bellow quickly and he doesn’t know them and we sit with that gap.



I watch my aunt, 81 or 82 now, and I’ve never seen her fret over age. She has always accepted who she is. Embraced the mantle of age.  That is a certain kind of grace, one I’m not wearing well.

aunt juanita

Jacob aunt Juanita

The old is new again and we’re buying pillows made of feed sacks and record players and the label vintage sells many things. Next to our iPads are stacks of records and the hand-powered chopper from the antique mall has replaced our food processor. The old looks good next to the new and their worlds seem to be merging more and more.

Last Sunday we sang old hymns. Our little threesome who have taught themselves to play guitar got a break while our volunteer pianist, herself in her 80’s, plunked out ‘To God Be the Glory‘ and ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus‘. It’s not as lively when we sing the old songs because few of these men know them. Church music of any kind is new to many of them but the old hymns, they are fading more. A friend once wrote we learn our theology from the old hymns and there is truth to that.

Most Sundays, the old and new are side by side in worship service. ‘Mighty to Save‘ next to ‘Power in the Blood’ because we honor the offering of music not paying allegiance to a style, thankful we don’t have to choose between old and new, one over the other.



birthday party weekend

birthday party weekend



I try a little too hard to cling to the youth that has faded. The external youth, when I need to be concerned with keeping the heart fresh. Embracing the truths that are eternal and ageless.

Life on repeat

She cuddled up next to her daddy as he read The Night Before Christmas, me mouthing the words memorized from reading it to her mommy. Year after year, the same story, same words.

Christmas Eve

Some days life feels like it’s on repeat and we keep saying the same words, doing the same things. It especially feels like that with the men as we go through the cycle of the year. Haven’t they heard this before? The serenity prayer said at the close of our weekly Celebrate Recovery, the principles read in unison, the 12 Steps taught and it’s the same thing. Again. Life on repeat.

It feels that way on this blog sometimes, that maybe there are just a few things I ever really write about and I keep hitting repeat.



Words are scribbled into these books, words I want to keep, to have them sink into the depths but they are forgotten the minute a new page is turned, new words written. I have to go back, read them again, hear them again, over and over like the stories read to the granddaughter or a favorite. Like the sacred words written in the Bible. It’s the only way to get them inside my head and heart.


watchnight 6839

We closed out 2013 with a candlelight service. We watched a video of highlights from the year, we sang, read scripture, some aloud, some in quiet. We prayed and we took the flame passed from one candle to another. To most men it was new, to some, a repeat of the previous year. For us, a repeat of many years but who tires of your favorite stories? The stories of new life, of promise and hope?

The old hymn says, “Sing them over again to me, wonderful stories of life”. So we’ll keep doing this life on repeat. We’ll keep preaching the same gospel, in new ways, with candles and words written on stones and old songs and new. We’ll repeat the serenity prayer until we believe it and we’ll keep giving second and third chances because it gives us a chance to say it again: God loves you. He loves. You. Again, and again. (repeat)

Five-Minute Friday {see}

“Look, look, watch this play… missed it.” he says from the sofa as I peck on the computer keys editing photo’s or Facebooking a friend, missing what he wanted me to see. Again.

“I spy with my little eye”, says our granddaughter and her perspective is a couple of feet lower than mine so she sees things I easily miss.





Christmas morning  family

It sounds as if I miss too much, not seeing what others want me to see but often what is seen isn’t done with my eyes but from a part I can’t begin to explain. It’s more like seeing with my soul when look at the ocean spread in front of me and feel the grandness of God’s creation and love. I not only see but I feel it too.

Christmas day


Christmas day

There are things we see and there are things seen so deeply they must also be felt as if there is no separation between the seeing and feeling. That couple exchanging their vows. The parents looking on, seeing a new life beginning. That granddaughter riding her first motorized “car” and the delight on her face. The husband looking deeply into his wife’s face as she opens her gift from him.

I don’t miss things. Not the real things. The things seen with eyes and heart.

Linking up with Lisa-J0 Baker for Five Minute Friday. To read other posts or join in the community click here.