Christmas · faith · Friday Five · holidays · linkups

Dear Ones Who Bear Sad Tidings This Year (Five Minute Friday)

It can be hard this time of year to find the joy in the twinkly lights and the broken nativity and the limp garland when all you want to do is hide away in a corner from the well-wishers and the do-gooders and the hope-bringers.

It can be hard to be facing a holiday ringed with family dinners and friendly hospitality and gift exchanging when there’s one less seat at the table, one less card in the mail, one less gift under the tree.

When I was ten years old my mama walked this journey. My daddy walks it now. This stumble through the season of glad tidings when the tidings dealt you this year were dark and doomed. The tidings of grief under the shadow of fear.

I don’t remember how Mama got through that Christmas. Her mother died three days before December 25 and we buried her two days after. My most vivid memories are that she bought me a black velvet dress and my uncle reamed all the grandkids for daring to ask if we would open the presents Grandmommy had already wrapped and placed beneath her tree. There would have been five of us kids at that time. Five of us to get through breakfasts and toys and tantrums and the joy of Christmas that would forever be tainted with shock.

I remember how we got through last year when the cancer was doing its death march across my grandfather’s gut and the dementia was already eating away his memory. We just didn’t talk about it. We visited and the last time I saw him speak and smile and know me was Christmas Eve. This year I want to talk and celebrate and remember that he loved the mountains and coffee and another plaid shirt wrapped alongside a good book.

I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you walk through a season of grief during a season of happiness, but I do know this. You’re walking through a season of love.

Let yourself be wrapped and swaddled and cared for like that baby in a manger. Let that be the only hope you hold because it’s just too much to try and care about shopping deals or holiday feasts or gingerbread houses.

Let this be a season of nothing but love and let love put you back together again.

In that glorious coincidence way God works, I wrote this as part of the Five Minute Friday crew. I haven’t participated in months, but saw the prompt on twitter and had just five minutes this afternoon to word thoughts that had been tossing around for a few days. Then I click over to Kate’s place to link up and her words today? They’re on grief. So much so that she wrote an ebook about it and you can get it for free until midnight tonight.

Christmas makes the pain acute. My prayers are with you if you and yours are walking this journey right now. 

Friday Five · linkups · reflections · writing

When It’s Just Fine to be Finished {five minute friday}

On Fridays the writers gather at Lisa Jo’s. We write in five minute increments like ones scared braved. We’re not supposed to edit or backtrack or over think, though everyone confesses to that at least once and that’s why there’s grace for even the most ordinary of writing tasks.

Except on Fridays five minute ordinary becomes extraordinary. Join us? Link up here and give us your five minutes on

Finish

He says it in a sweet little voice that bears no trace of sarcasm or disrespect. In answer to everything I say.

“It’s time to take a bath now, Gus.”
“We’re going outside to pick tomatoes.”
“Do you want to go see the goats?”

Fine.

Fine, he says with his two-year old lisp and blond curls bobbing. I know he says it because he hears me sigh it in exasperation and his sisters reply it when they’re tired of being asked.

I know it has so many meanings. But sometimes that little four letter word just means what it is:
Fine.

It’s fine. It’s okay. It’s all right. Don’t worry about it. Let it go. Pass it on. Breathe deep.

It’s fine to be finished.

Lisa-Jo is passing the baton. Four years of wild five minute writing in flash mobs and dark bedrooms and late nights that have gradually gotten earlier because let’s face it–all us mamas are tired by 10 p.m. on Thursday, and she knows it’s time to pass it on.

She’s mentored my writing from afar since the day a friend forwarded me that old Gypsy Mama page and I thought who is this woman who knows the words my heart is whispering and weeping even though we’ve never met?

She told me in a crowded room at a conference last fall that I would know when the time was right to write that book that God has laid on my heart and I’m laying back down at His feet.

She was right.

And that time came before I was really read to wrap my mind around it and for months I’ve been trying to do it all.

But I think I’m finished too.

I think it’s time I admit that it’s fine if the blog doesn’t get the best of me and instead that part goes to my children and the legacy of words I truly hope to leave.

It’s fine to let what was once the best thing become something I used to do, for the sake of doing what I’m meant to do at this time, this season, this moment.

It’s just fine to be finished with one season so another can come.

I’m not shutting this down….just taking a break. I’ll be posting sporadically and not worrying about being faithful for numbers or platforms or expectations. I have long believed my best writing comes from when my soul is prompted and I need an alter to remember. This past spring I got caught up in trying to promote and that really didn’t work well for me or sit well with my heart for this space. This is the place that has given me the courage to try for new and bigger dreams and I want to honor it with words that are worthy. But mostly, I need to live and focus on those who share my home and life and give breathe to every word I write. 

Friday Five · summer · writing

Release {Five Minute Friday}

On Fridays the writers gather at Lisa Jo’s. We write in five minute increments like ones scared braved. We’re not supposed to edit or backtrack or over think, though everyone confesses to that at least once and that’s why there’s grace for even the most ordinary of writing tasks.

Except on Fridays five minute ordinary becomes extraordinary. Join us? Link up here and give us your five minutes on

Release

Sometimes the build up is more than I can stand. My fingers twitch and my eyes flick and I start to breathe convulsively as I stand surrounded by mounds of laundry and last night’s crockpot soaking in the sink.

It’s just too much life.

Is there such a thing? The calendar is pretending there’s white space but really it’s just blank until I get a rehearsal schedule and there’s another calendar of deadlines and due dates and color codes for fiction and non-fiction and the pieces that don’t actually pay inside a notebook for a writer.

I’m waiting to be struck over the head with great inspiration and it’s all around. The steam is rising off the hot pavement after the summer rain and the baby boy is looking for a lawn mower and there’s zucchini in my fridge that was on the vine a mere 48 hours ago.

There’s just so much life.

My fingers twitch and can’t fly fast enough and my mind chugs along not able to keep up with the words, words, words that spill out and over and all around because how do you capture the sound of a morning bird or a summer night?

Deep breathing. Slow. Down. There’s a little white space crammed in that afternoon between the church and the dance studio and it’s at the babbling brook that winds through the forest that grew me up when I was a college intern.

The release comes sudden. The desire to put it down and just savor the words for myself without care for if anyone else will know.

Friday Five · joshua · marriage

His Hands {Five Minute Friday}

On Fridays the writers gather at Lisa Jo’s. We write in five minute increments like ones scared braved.  We’re not supposed to edit or backtrack or overthink, though everyone confesses to at least once and that’s why there’s grace for even the most ordinary or writing tasks.

Except on Fridays five minute ordinary becomes extraordinary. Link up here and give us your five minutes. Today’s prompt is…

Hands

Your thumb rubbed small circles on the base of mine the whole time the preacher spoke the words. Soothing away my nerves and leading me to a place of fine calm where there was only us.

We were barely twenty-two and the ink had barely dried on the diplomas that tipped in our fingers a few weeks before.

Fingers stroke the tiny curls that spring forth from behind my ears whenever there is rain and let go of the wheel to hold my hand and force away distractions when we drive winding roads or busy interstates or mountain passes. You hold tight when we bless our food and sometimes you don’t let go even though you know that makes me crazy because I can’t eat with my left.

Whispers soft in the dark night and hands rub circles on the backs of babies and toddlers who curl tight between us in the bed you’re always reaching across to find me.  Stroking gently on all the places where I feel least beautiful, over stretch marks where I grew our babies, and wrinkles where I crease my head with worry.

Hands that crunch the numbers and wash the dishes and fold the tiny laundry and hold the newborn kittens. Hands that are stronger than our weaknesses.

It was dark and cold and maybe even a snowflake or two was falling from the sky when we walked around that mountain chapel one college night and you took my hand.

And led me home.

Friday Five · gus · motherhood

Yes in My Mess (five minute Friday)

Disclaimer: I wrote this on the iPad. Typos should be met with grace. But that’s what #fmfparty is all about. Well that and writing and hash tags and food references. We’re at Lisa Jo’s and you’re welcome there too!

Mess

He wasn’t supposed to even exist. That’s what sends me to my knees now and makes me hold him extra tight and give him jellybeans even when he hasn’t had lunch. 
He wasn’t anywhere on my radar. No idea he’d be a part of this little family, that he’d be exactly what I needed to crawl out of my own skin and into that of mothering.
And he’s the fourth. It took me that long to really get the amazing grace of it all. I didn’t even know I was missing my life until he was in it and making me see everything through the lens of what if. 
What if I had stayed a mess who didn’t really know how much I could love and bend and grow and change because these four little miracles are my stamp on eternity and my charge from the great lover of my soul? 
How great the mess can be. How powerful the realization. 

Friday Five · writing

How I Became a Writer {Five MInute Friday}

When I look back at four years of blogging, I find that my best and rawest moments have come in five minute increments. Because like Lisa Jo says, sometimes writing time is stolen five minutes at a time. Linking up with the Five Minute Friday community right here and telling you why I’m surprised by motherhood and writing right over here. 

{source}

Writer

In a yellow cardboard box on the bottom of my bookshelf are the battered remnants of what made me become a writer. Their covers torn and worn from so many countless rereadings, I’ve boxed them away in their original packaging and bought new shiny gingham covers for my girls and we snuggle under a quilt and up against too many pillows and dive in.

Laura Ingalls and her pioneer family driving across a nation when it was still in the labor pains of birth. Those were the stories that made me want to find my story. Those were the tales that made me want to tell.

But I got lost. I got lost in criticism and thin-skin and rules and regulations and shoulds and shouldn’ts and I got so very, very scared that I had no stories worth telling. So I scribbled in a journal and on napkins and in the backs of notebooks and hid my secret until I felt ready to share.

I’m never going to feel ready to share. I’m never going to really feel like I deserve to be here, to write here, to be going here to learn and dive and swim in these waters that scare me to death with their beckoning call.

But I’m doing it anyway. Somewhere along the way, I got the courage just to put a little bit out there, just to chronicle some real life, just to write it down and choose to believe a few people might care.

You did. You do. You let me hand over my broken story while it was still breaking me and you received and loved and poured grace and encouragement back into me.

And I’ve become a writer.

birthdays · Friday Five · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · motherhood

How She Gave Away Her Birthday Cake and Gave Me Joy {Five Minute Friday}

On Fridays this community of prayer warriors and sleep-deprived mamas and funny college students and thoughtful friends takes one word and writes without editing, without backtracking, without over thinking for five minutes.  Sometimes we cheat a little, like me today, because I needed about 8 minutes to get it all out. But Lisa Jo knows all about grace, so she lets that slide at least once.

So go all in and try it out.  What’s your five minutes of JOY look like? 

Joy

 

 

I picked her up in a drizzle off a forest service dirt road 8.5 miles from Amicalola State Park and the headwaters of the Appalachian Trail.  She and her grandmother–my feisty and fearless mother–had hiked south from Woody Gap, a 21 mile stretch over a mountain in the rain that forecasters had said for three days would end tomorrow.  They were tired and cold and wet and it was her birthday, so instead of finishing one more night on the ground in the mud with poptarts and ramen noodles, I loaded them up in the mud-splattered F150 and drove back down the windy mountain to the lodge at the state park.

I had met them early to bring her a birthday treat.  A footlong ham sandwich with black olives and a cookie cake because I didn’t make it to the bakery for key lime cupcakes. Everyone I met on my drive through the misty forest knew her name. Every hiker I gave a peanut butter sandwich to had met the 8 year old with a pack and a grin so wide it made another tooth fall out on the second night in.  Everyone knew it was her birthday.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the lodge, she bounded out with more energy than someone who only weighs 50 pounds and carried 15 pounds on her back for three days should have. It was her birthday and she couldn’t wait to share it.  She asked if she could give cake to the workers.  I told her it was her cake and she could give it to whoever she wanted.

So she did.  After a dinner from the buffet, we cut up that cookie cake and plated it on salad plates her baby sister kept fetching from the bar. She walked all around that sparsely populated restaurant and my shyest child asked folks if they would like some cookie cake because it was her birthday.  They were a little astounded. A little flustered at the thought of saying no.  A lot joyful at the idea that a child could exhibit selflessness.

Most of the time, she can be a bit difficult.  She’s stubborn and strong willed and makes me question everything I do, but when she decides to be a giver, she’s all in. It’s her joy language, her heart song, her words without saying a word.

It’s her gift and she unwrapped the beauty of it for me on a foggy evening in the mountains on her eighth birthday.

Also linking up with Beauty Observed. Check out her beautiful photography!