How We're Never Completely Empty & Always Searching For Good

{This post is part of the five minute friday with Kate MotaungA community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: empty.}

I'm not sure how old we were, but we were little, and it was back in the sweltering heats of the south in a house that had a backyard that, to me, was a maze of shrubbery and bushes. As little as we were, we could easily get lost in the forest of green, pretending days away, and we loved it.

It was back when Dad was working nights and early mornings and our days were spent hushed and somewhat quiet, but we didn't mind.

It's a wonder how you can just close your eyes and remember and still be able to recall certain houses and places and people even though the years were long ago and far gone. The minds never completely empty of all that's passed.

I remember those almost empty cupboards and saltine crackers with peanut butter, if my memory serves me right. The only reason I can recall that meal was because a spider happened to drop down from the ceiling right in the middle of the table and I can remember how me and my sister screamed and jumped back, smiling.

That almost empty cupboard also held some living life and when Mom had gone to open it a huge cockroach flew out of it and landed close to her, and if I think real hard I can almost see it and her and how much she disliked it.

But somehow it was always enough, and nothing was never too empty for too long and we were always filled up with something.

That's how it all is, never knowing what a day will hold, always waking up somewhat empty, looking to be filled, searching for the good and the glorious and the hopeful and it almost always starts simple and always inside.

Life can look bleak, uncertain, unknown, but the glory of it all is the grace of the cross and the mercy that meets us there at the foot of it all, right by his pierced side. 

What makes it all good in the end..when suffering brings the saving and we can never be too empty if we're filled with Him whose never ending.

Why Somethings You Wanted to Change, You End Up Missing

{This post is part of the five minute friday with Kate MotaungA community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: embrace.}

I've never been much for mornings.

Before their were kids and early breakfast beggings and the mornings were slow, controlled and routine, he used to always lean in towards me, in an embrace, with a big grin on his face as if he were off to a multi-million dollar high-rise job and whisper, "Good morning."

It would drive me crazy.

Didn't he realize all that had to be done and all that wasn't going right or working? 

Secretly it loathed me that he could be surrounded by burdens that needed lifting and problems that needed fixing and still be happy in spite of them all. 

He knew something that I didn't know then, that a good morning was a gift and that grace was something that anyone could give and that an embrace could erase all the frustrations and worries with the truth that "everything will be okay."

It took him awhile, but after a few grunts and groans and moans from a mouth that only speaks disapprovals before drinks of coffee, he stopped with his early morning well-wishes. 

Instead he fell silent as he left for work with his worn boots and holed pants, his tool belt hanging loosely around his waist as he walked to his rusted stead and plodded away. 

After a few years of it, I kind of got to missing it and wondered why I had bitten the hand that tried to feed me what I really needed, spoken words of assurance that it's good because of a good God who gives this joy and the morning and it's all for the taking, waiting to be embraced.

And those words that are once hushed into silence, it takes awhile to get them back, even years. So, I tread lightly. Better a held tongue than a longing down the road for the way things were.

Over Seven Hundred Miles & the Good Hand of God

{This post is part of the five minute friday with Kate MotaungA community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice ( a little over today!) Today's word: abandon.}

There's over seven hundred miles from where I am, the royal city, to the sloping, green hills of southern appalachia Ohio where I was or used to be.

Right about now, that grass is hinting green and it's probably a muddy wet from rains that fell over the courses of days, maybe even weeks. The tree's, there probably bursting at there tips just waiting for a few days of glory sunshine so they can bud and finally be free of winter's grey limbs. 

I can feel it now, that wind on the face. 

It's always a harsh wind that makes you catch your breath especially when you're standing out there in the middle of a wide-opened field, sometimes without a tree in sight to brace the wind. 

But that quiet, it gets to you. 

I used to believe it was a quiet that would drive your mind right crazy, but now I realize it's a quiet that makes you feel a peace you can't explain. 

I abandoned it. All of it. 

He said he got a feeling. He had it awhile back. 

Those feelings you get in the chest that maybe palpitate and flutter and make you question its pace and then it stops and you move on and keep on trudging ahead as if nothing really happened.

He said he might have overworked himself a couple of days ago, but those feelings they came back and this time took a turn.

I could since he didn't really want to. All this fuss and all for him. But that heart it became a little chaotic and those upper chambers they're beaten a little too irregular and the doctor they admitted him.

He said he was okay. It's nothing really. Maybe just a little fib.

Seven hundred miles of abandonment face me and I wonder how could I have? 

But the thing is, prayer reaches places and spaces faster than anything ever could.

Prayer doesn't have boundaries only the one's we set up for it.

I sat and waited by the phone for hours that can seem like eternity today, bracing myself ready to move over those seven hundred miles and then his rhythm it found it's right pace again, nothing more than the good hand of God.

Maybe this is it..there is One who see's all things, knows all things, can control all things and He is able to do that which I can't and an offering is offered from a weak, imperfect soul praying for the goodness and sovereignty of God to reveal His glory throughout all processes, all tests, in hope and for healing. 

And may the good hand of God continue on.

How Slowing Sees the Sacred

{This post is part of the five minute friday with Kate MotaungA community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: slow.}

They always seem to run rampant.

Through the house at the earliest of hours once those tiny toes hit the floor and the sun has peeked its softest light, it's all a rush.

And I, I wonder what all the excitement is all about. 

How they can get up each morning after morning never slow and always with a momentum that gains as the hours tick and the suns fade even though the days can seem the same.

To begin each day on fire is to live each breath as blessed. 

They rush until the hand is grabbed and they wish to be stilled with you and you wish only for them to once again rush, maybe rush right away.

But I've learned to slow.
Maybe it's only in the slowness that we can see the sacred.

I watch him come home from working with wood his gauntly arms limp at his sides, his face rugged and worn from early morning rises and hard labor and little time to shut the eyes and to dream.

He's grateful for the slow.

Huddled over his bowl of steaming beans, he slurps and dips his toasted bread into the flavorless juices and smiles, content. 

He disappears and I find him later with head bent back, eyes closed, seated against the couch while children rush and he slows and I dare to question it.

Life moves past fast.

Slow to see the moments for what they really are, sacred.
Slow to see the gift in the still.

And when we do it's worth it all.

For what is to be will be and what God has planned will stand and nothing will hold it back not even the slow.

An Always Present Enemy

Back in the day, years ago, in the hot smothering town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama storms were known to rip through the town heralding lightning, uncontrollable winds, and rains that beat down in torrents leaving the eyes seeing little and the mind thinking the worst.

In one such storm, outside of a bowling alley, me and my sister sat huddled together wet and sticky legged inside a red beetle van with red and white gingham curtains covering the windows that my mom had sewn together with needle and thread. 

Winds shook the sides of the van and the rain pelted the windows and I remember how quiet it was inside that raggedy van as we sat and waited out the storm with bated breath. It was the first time that I could remember where I didn't feel safe. Scared, yes. Afraid of dying? Surprisingly, no.

There were probably casualties, but I was too young to recall.

I guess you could say that storm was the enemy that day.

Back to the present, the minds reminded of what's happening around the world and how I feel as if there's so much that's not known. There's missing information and misaligned facts and rights and lefts and everyone in between are at each others throats and it seems as if no one is listening to the cries that are echoed across the world and in the Word. There's accusations and questioning of faiths and its torment and fear itself at the highest level and wisdom's maybe pushed aside for well wishes and timid humble pies.

Maybe in this world it's hard to believe that anyone could be anyone's enemy. Somehow we like to believe and think the opposite that we're all safe and that simple acts of kindness can cure every evil and ill will.  I'd like to think that, but then those rivers and roads that ran red years and years ago from the blood of fallen victors would be in vain. 

We have enemies. 
America has enemies. 
The Bible has enemies. 

Adam and Eve had the serpent, David had Goliath and King Solomon's soldiers, Moses had Pharaoh, Esther and the Jews had Haman, Samson had the Philistines, and the disciples, for preaching the name of Jesus, had enemies and Jesus has Satan, the always present enemy of all believers until the end.

Safety is something that's only found in the Savior who saves us from so much more than earthly destruction but from an eternal peril as well. That is Christ compassion and maybe that should be the greatest kindness offered to a hurting, fearful, unsafe world and with that the storms will come.

{This post is part of the five minute friday with Kate Motaung. Today's word of choice: safe}

When Control Comes Marching In

{This post is part of the Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung. A community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: control.} 

Days after the inauguration of the 45th President and there's still brewing in the air a sense of strife and opposition. 

You can't click on the news or scroll a feed without reading messages that make the skin crawl or hear words spoken aloud that give life to your otherwise silent voice box in retaliation. 

What the worlds like now and what it will be like in another twenty years who knows only God. 

All I know is that prayer can make more changes than a march of thousands of women who herald themselves as brave fighters when the bravest of women are those on their knees crying out for the sanctity of life and for the souls of those truly oppressed across borders who have no voice. 

And they see our voice. 

The voice of thousands of women wearing vulgar hats, holding up signs of ill will, nodding their heads and shouting their taunts of how they need what they need, of how it's not good enough what they have, of how they want that choice but won't give it to their own creation. 

These oppressed women see our free women and wonder where are there chains? Where are their covered heads? Where are their scarred backs and tied hands? Where are their controlling religions? Where are their silenced mouths? What suffers plague their flesh? 

This march. 

Maybe it's all about control.

How we as women may feel like we're losing it when what's really needed is a little bit of self-control.

Freedom is not the absence of control but the embodiment that self control should govern our freedoms.

Great women of long ago were known for doing great things gracefully. 

That's what set women apart. 

We could accomplish something great by actually doing nothing at all or very little. 

The very beginnings of Women's Suffrage and rights began with a weekly publication that later turned into Susan B. Anthony becoming arrested as she simply casted her vote.

Rosa Parks could sit still on a seat and not budge yet she moved mountains by her stilled presence alone.

The fear of losing control can draw thousands of women to march, but when women realize that control is really not theirs, that it belongs only to the One who measures the earth in the palm of his hand and who holds the seas and oceans in his grip, who knows every hair on our head and every thought and deed, control is then something we don't crave, but instead we cling to the One on the cross.  

We give it up to him and instead gather up all the grace and give thanks.   

The Middle, How It's Really the Magnificent

{This post is part of the Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung. A community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: middle.} 

He puts his arms around my middle.

His thin, tiny arms less than a foot each encircle me, his fingers not yet touching each other at the ends.

For some reason he loves my middle. 

Yes, that mid-section I keep trying to minimize after two children and two many bags of twix bars and heaping bowls of ice cream, he loves.

It's soft and squishy (I know not what you may be wanting to hear).

He places his little head on top of my middle pressing into its folds wishing he could go back in there.

I laugh.

I tell him how I wish it were flat as I suck it in tight and taut.

He's saddened. Why would I ever want that?

To him it's my middle and it's the greatest and safest and most amazing thing.

How he could, five years ago, be the size of a bean cradled in a uterus while attached to a life flowing cord with our hearts beating together almost in utter unison, he finds nothing but fascinating.

He doesn't see it as I see it, a waste of space better not occupied by that soft and squishy substance.

The way he sees it....some things in the middle are the most magnificent.


Why You Need to Keep Looking For Christ in Christmas

This was going to be the year I grabbed Christmas by the horns.

I started early.

The douglas-fir with its scent of fresh pine just right was purchased and decorated
before the turkey was carved and consumed.

Boxes from the bitter cold garage were brought in one after the other. Piled high they covered the tiny kitchen floor where legs turned and twisted to walk around there bulging forms.
Two boys eager for Christmas searched stuffed boxes filled to the brim, pulling out all the eyes could see only to scatter decorations around the house leaving them in the most unexpected places.

 With green garlands and strung cards, the house was fully adorned.
Hand-stitched stockings lined the fireplace and the lights were aglow while candles flickered there flames against chilled window panes.
Advent books were purchased and waiting to be opened and read.

This Christmas was sure to bring all that was longed for and by golly I was going to get it: peace, rest, joy.

It seems when everything is going well that's how you know that something maybe going wrong somewhere else.

They said it was an abscess.

It started out as a cry from a wide-eyed four year old boy and a pain in the neck that came with a fever.

Thus began the days and nights of scans and iv antibiotics and fluids and the alarming decision that surgery was needed.
That abscess it wasn't going to let go.
It was seeping.
Seeping into the head of my beloved, brown hair boy who only wanted to go home.
The surgeon she was going to scoop it out, that abscess, and my heart right along with it.

Mother's we put on a brave face and say its all an adventure and that four year old boy he soaks it up and smiles through it all, hugging his bear completely unaware as his bed rolls down the long hallway towards surgery.

You watch them go and then you wait.

Life, you never really know what's next or where it's taking you.
Nothing can prepare you. Nothing except for Someone. Someone, who until now, was left on the sidelines only glanced at occasionally, never really fervently .

I had failed. That feeling of failing faith and forgetting the Father and not keeping him close at all times through all things and in all circumstances, weighed heavy. All I really knew was that now none of my useless ambitions for preparations and peace, for myself, mattered.

I needed to be in a continual search for the Savior.
Just as the shepherds searched that night long ago for the baby born King and the wise men searched for the star of the Savior, so I should search for Christ among everything, unceasingly.

This is the only way to live Christmas, with this undeniable need to cling to a baby born to save the world.

In the most uncertain circumstances we can find the most certainty in the simple truth that God is with us.

When the world cries out otherwise and hearts are broken and lives are lost and there seems to be nothing but dead-ends and long, twisting roads where not a glimmer of hope can be found remember, we are never left alone.

God who birthed your beginning will never leave your ending hopeless.

I poured over Scripture as I waited. A lifeline straight from the Father's hand. Surgery had ended and had gone well and hearts were relieved.

Time and again Jesus reaches out his hand and whispers, “I am here always even until the end.” {Matthew 28:20} The only One that can save Christmas, that can save us, came and filled a manger bed when there was no room for him and he grew and became a man and whispers to us, “Will we make room for Him in our hearts?”

All we really need is Him and sometimes we have to search for Him, but He is always there and His words will live forever and when we find them we grab them by the horns never letting go.

~Grateful to be able to guest post over at Christian Women Online, a great community of women writing faith filled words that encourage.~