Worship Wins Even When You Lose

I'm almost to 40.

Don't know how except for the good grace's of a great God that I'm still standing here physically all in one piece, but with a heart and soul that's cracked and ripped and ruffed at the ridges.

I might as well stand tall and wait, eyes closed for the next ice pick to be hurled my way.

Life's full of them. Things that pierce you straight through to the deepest  heart of you and breaks you into a million tiny pieces.

And you're just begging for something or Someone to piece it all back together, to help you make sense of it all.

There's a bunch of us out there who are still standing strong and it's only because of a Savior who surrounds us and begs to just be Seen in return.
I can feel it sometimes going a little a flutter, that heart. Whispering that it's feeling the failures and frustrations that life's beaten over this back.

Like a fog rolling in over the sunsetted sky, I can hear my grandmother softly asking me if "I want a pen," yeah to write down my will or a will to live, to burn bridges or  to build them, to be laughed out and to just not care anymore, to paint the town red and live a life of laughter.

There's so many things I wish I had done.

That we would have done.

That you and I could do.

But life's a cycle, a ride that you hold onto for dear life, and you get up and sometimes fake a smile, and just keep on truckin down the lane, because you have to, because down deep you really want to have a voice to be listened to.

In a home with kids and husbands and family and people everywhere, you just want for crying out loud someone to listen to you for a few seconds.

I've always lost at almost everything I've ever tried.

I've stepped on a million cracks.

But You. You listen.  You are the truth holder. You, the light that holds the dark at bay. 

But You, You make the lost the saved, the broken the beautiful, those who feel meaningless~Your word gives them a mission. 

You mend the pieces of every wounded heart back together.

If I just worship you, I have won.

If I just worship you, I have crossed a million finish lines and never looked back.

Comfort is an Unclogged Toilet

{This post is part of five minute fridayA community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: Comfort.}

Comfort is an unclogged toilet silenced of its gurgling commands.

It's sound asleep children and a floor swept by a husband who also made dinner and washed the dishes.

It's a knowing that all this running around will someday lead to a settling down, and then a wish to have it all back again, right back where it was.. crazy, busy, and beautiful.

Comfort is a slice of pie made by your own tired grateful hands to be eaten alone in the dark at the kitchen table in silence.

It's a promise that though rejection happens, our highest status is that of beloved by a great God and nothing is without hope, when He makes the impossible, possible.

Comfort is grit and sharp objects clung to bare soles, because life lives here. 

It's warm coffee, gut-honest friends, truth proclaimers, and worship warriors who never give up and always give in to Him.

Comfort is a chance given by another.

It's that rest-assured feeling that no matter what blows past our sails, comfort can be had because peace was purchased by a Presence upon those wooden beams.

Comfort, it's a bone-tired soul, an unmade bed, a soft ac breeze, and sounds of a thunderstorm hovering in the distance.

It's a proclamation that all is well with the soul even though wells spring up all around.

Comfort, it's there to be had in all things.  

When Saying Grace Becomes A Blessing

{This post is part of five minute fridayA community of writers who write for five minutes on the word of choice. Today's word: Blessing.}

It happened every evening over heaping plates of warm food that were ogled and eyed by every little being (such as myself) whom sat upright, stiff with elbows off the table, wishing the blessing was over so that tummy's could be filled and throat's quenched.

Unbeknownst to my parents, my older sister and I would wink and stick our tongues out at each other, or kick each other with our feet while trying to get the other to laugh. Whomever squealed would get in trouble by the blessing sayer.

But it was also during those blessed meals with eyes closed and heads bent, my sister would reach over to my knee and softly press three fingers one at a time on the top of my leg.  

It was our code. 

Or I guess you say it was  handed down from my Grandmother and Mother. 

One of those things you'll never forget and always remember. Each finger pressed, meant one word. "I love you." 

And we would always both look up and smile at each other, because then in that moment you'd remember the faces of those loved and lost and still present and you'd remember each other. 

And still to this day I'd surprise my sister with those three words from fingers pressed and she still smiles and remembers.

Those were the days.

Grace was blessed and the blessed sayer would pray for country and men and friends and foe and for blood that washed away sins, never forgetting to give praise to the glory of a good God.

The blessings always seemed to be the same with different words placed sporadically here and there with the usual ending of, "Amen" and a chime in from Mama who would say, and "Thank you God for this food," as if the blessing itself had forgotten to bless the food.

Those were the days. Those days of endless evening meals, dish wash after supper. 
One would wash. 
One would dry and one would inspect, of course that was the blessing sayer as well.

You'd never think it, that something so ordinary as saying grace becomes a blessing with many memories made around tables and across plates.

A blessing that can be had by all, by all who give grace.

To My Ten Year Old Son, "You're Not Going to Make It."

{This post is part of five minute fridayA community of writers who write for five minutes ( sorry a little bit over today) on the word of choice. Today's word: Steady.}

She told me your weren't going to make it. 

Even before you were ten minutes old, there was no way you were going to make it.

I can remember it as clear as day. 

That's the thing about most Mom's. 

We can never forget when the hearts pained.

With belly still bloated and insides newly emptied and swollen they carried me to a wheelchair and rolled me into a room where they head pediatric nurse stood before me, straight faced and unsympathetic and all she said was, "you weren't going to make it and they didn't know why."

I knew something was wrong before that. 

I could tell by the look on my sister's face as she pursed her lips and shook her head from side to side at the very first sight of you. 


Your cry, a silent little plea. A soft whimper, steady and short.

I watched as they placed you in the cart and your little lungs shook hard and violently, struggling to release each breath that the little plastic frame that covered you would move with each inhale and exhale.

I wanted to reach in there and fix you. Fix your oxygen tubes in your nose, wrap you up nice and warm and hold you and tell you that "you were going to make it."

Fast-forward ten years on Saturday and you're here and maybe I've been told a time or two that you're still not going to make it.

And their right. You're never going to make it your going to surpass it, all.  

 You're tall and lanky with blue eyes and blond hair just like I wanted and what you now wished were brown. I tell you, you're rare, my rare bird. Your legs run their own race with limp arms that you wish could pull you up a little bit higher. They will one day. 

But you laugh, a laugh that's rare these days and you sing a song to your own rhythm. 

And you keep right along belting it out steady. I won't stop you. 

I'm not perfect, but I might just fix you though and tidy your hair one last time and tell you to watch out or you might slip and you just wave your hand at me and nod because you know. 

You know the road ahead of you is long and hard and much harder for you than some children, because you see yourself and they see you. A boy who jumps in the wind and whose blue eyes dart this way and that, and it's hard for you to sit still and make a friend, but when you do they stick with you because they see the you behind all the labels and your one cool dude once they know you.

You know the days will be long and that this Mom of yours will not give in or give up or let you quit or ever see yourself as being less than, because you'll always be more than with God. You'll be more than enough.

And no, I won't let you lay in waste and spend your hours in front of blackened screens and electronics that scream at you and pull you further and further away even though it's "in" and everyone does. I'll bring you back as I always do.

No matter how hard, I won't give in and you won't give up so you can go ahead and be that boy that jumps in the wind and who knows the numbers and names of moons unheard and who can swim hundreds of  yards in a day and who writes stories and the alphabet in Hebrew and Arabic and other languages. 

Because I believe all this is His plan, I have to and if I have to I'll set your sails high and I'll show you what I know and what I don't and we'll journey it all together. I'll make mistakes. You'll make mistakes. You're not alone there are others who love you and who will help you find, "You."

You'll find Something. 
You'll be Someone. 
You'll be just You.
Whoever God made you to be. 

You seek after Him and any door you believe is closed will become opened.

Your passage is never a dead end when you walk hand in hand with the Lord God the Creator of all men. Power does not come from you, but from Him.  Seek Him First and Steady your Sails to His winds and you'll more than make it you'll surpass it, all.

The Lingering We Wish Would End & How He Visits Us

{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: Visit.}

The smell was potent.

Even after a good old soap scrubbing (as good as any wild kid can) the scent still lingered in his hair and on his skin. 

Hours later when I checked on him in the middle of the night on that Monday, I could smell the strongness clinging to his skin in its desperate attempt to stay there in the folds of his skin and on the softness of his hair.  

Two times a week sometimes three it reminds me of the depths from where it came from, the hint of blue, and the waves which came more pronounced with each stroke and stride from a boy whose love for it is endless.

The smell, it tapers off until the next time and the next time.

On that same Monday evening, in a city to the north of the beautiful Pennines mountains, lives were taken, hearts were broken, and souls were crushed.

Evil visited Manchester, England rearing its filth and ugliness towards the hearts of innocent children and men and women.

Evil is the devil's dagger and his desire for dominance and destruction on the earth will know no end.
His pursuit, to crush and devour every possible divine appointment of every boy and girl and woman and man under God. 

Even after a few days it still lingers, the sorrow and sadness felt for those lost and those grieving. 

In the Philippines, in the city of Malawi, a priest is beheaded and a city is under siege and marshall law has been enacted and lives are being lost.

And the stories and pages are endless. The scent of evil still lingering, always lurking, waiting to visit.

And where is God?  

Here. He is Here. We believe.

Hearing every prayer from every bent knee and every trembling tongue and we whisper, "Deliver us 
from Evil." Matthew 6:13
You visit us with Your glory, Your love, Your strength, Your wisdom, Your justice.

And we take up the shield of faith and the belt of truth that You have given us and we press on day after day and You visit us and we abide.

Like a Drop of Rain in a Parched Desert

{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: Mom.}

It was always 7up or coke poured cold into a glass of heaping ice junks. And those straws, the ones with the stripes and the bendy necks? She'd place those in the cup as well.

Then, dead in the middle of the night, she'd quietly wake me and give me just a little sip, enough to moisten the mouth and put a sense of hope and relief into what felt like a desert that finally got a microscopic drop of saving rain.

I can't say how much that one sip meant especially when your down on your back and feel like the bones may never move and the eyes may never look life filled again.

That 7up it went all over the carpet in that brick house in Alabama with the blue shutters and fire pit in the front where we, girls, would sit and play in the musty heat of the sweltering south. I can still remember it and where.

It was the same carpet where my sister and I had tracked mud onto, trying to escape, after Dad discovered us hanging from the clothesline out back like a pair of misbehaving monkeys. You can say we got a whipping for that one and that one rightly deserved.

But she'd pat the back and hold your hand just so and I can still see it and she'd stay there right by the edge of the bed in the middle of the early morning night waiting a few minutes and probably thinking I had fallen asleep she'd shuffle out. 

I was awake when she'd left. I'd never want her to stop.

Mom's were like a drop of rain in a parched desert. 

So little can do so much.

And sometimes it takes all of our will just to give a drop, but it's remembered and felt forever. 

And that drop, it gives life to the lowest, meaning to the misery, and hope to the helpless.

Never see little as less than.

Little things can fill a heart big. 

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}