Category Archives: love

It’s that time of year …

not for celebrations and parties.  Not for get-togethers with good friends and people you may know.  Not shopping for bargains and gifts, not meeting up to have a good time and not for having a nice glass of wine with like-minded folks.

Well, actually, it is that time of year, but not for everyone.

For some, this time of year means eating a cold can of beans alone in an empty room without power because the electric bill wasn’t paid.  It wasn’t paid because the baby needed medication and there wasn’t enough money for medication and electricity.

For some, this time of year means standing on the street, in the cold, wearing street clothes and house slippers because there wasn’t enough money for rent and if there wasn’t enough money for rent, there certainly wasn’t enough money for a coat and shoes.

For some, this time of year brings memories that are bitter and hurtful; thoughts of years past that ran, one into the other, with no happiness or joy.

For some, this time of year means nothing.  It is simply the passing of time while watching the world go by, just like the year before and the year before that.

For some, this time of year means family, food, friends and fellowship.  It is these people who embrace the season and enjoy it as they always have, together with the people they love and are comfortable with.

But what about all the others?

Who, when they set down to their family table laden with food, surrounded by family, warm, cozy and perfect, think of those who have nothing, expect nothing and know nothing different from the emptiness they feel every year at this time?

I and many others call ourselves followers of Christ.  We say with our voices  how much we love and want to be like Jesus.

We sing praises, bless our food and continue on in the same traditions we have followed for years.  We praise Jesus and say we want to be like Him but prove time and again that we recite words we believe but don’t, deep down, mean and we fail the very Jesus we say we want to be like.

He wants us to share what we have; not just home, warmth, family, friends and food, but the very word that would bring others to love and honor Him.

Invite a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner.  Invite several strangers.

Let’s bring someone homeless to our home and make them, for one day, family.

Let’s show them that Jesus is real and that they are loved.

This time of year is our time, the Jesus follower’s time.  Our time to put our money where our mouth is.  To be hospitable, to offer shelter and food for those who are hungry and the ones the world calls outcasts.

It is our time to take in everyone, despite everything, and to show them Jesus.

If we, who claim to be the hands and feet of Jesus don’t show love to the oppressed, be certain that the evil one will.

He will entice and enchant them, then make them slaves to his depravity and hatred of all things good.

Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of beating us to the punch.  Let us be the Jesus we claim to want to follow and lead someone to Christ by being the hands and feet of the Savior.

Make no mistake –  Satan is working hard to win the souls of the lost and if we don’t work harder, he will win because he doesn’t give up if he doesn’t get a response on the first pass.

Be Jesus to the world and don’t give up just because you can find an excuse.  Having an excuse doesn’t excuse us, but overcoming excuses and finding a way to be Jesus to the world shows our true alliance.  We are with Jesus or not with Jesus.  It is as simple as that.

Everyone reading this post is welcome to Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom’s house.  You, for one day, will be our family, you will be warm and your bellies will be full.  Must love, or at least tolerate dogs, though, because our place is lousy with them!  🙂

It’s been a while …

since my last blog post. 

Since last time, satan has reared his ugly head and life has given me a bonified black eye, busted lip, bruised rib, and all around beating.

My mom, who I depend on way more than a nearly 50-year old (ok, 47 in two weeks, but still) woman should, has been ill.

In the hospital, taken by an ambulance, ill.

My dad, who leans heavily on my mom, has been beside himself.

My dearest friend has been given (by mere mortals) six months to live.

It has been a trying month.

First off, my mom is home, well and feeling quite herself. 

My dad, an Air Force Veteran (whom we should all be applauding today for his service to the USAF) is better because my mom is feeling better.

It brings a surprising revelation to light.

While this would distress and hurt me beyond comprehension, I have this hope they would die, in their sleep, at the same time.

As awful as this may sound to some, I’d rather mourn them both at the same time than try to handle one without the other.

I can’t frankly speak for my sister, but wonder if she wouldn’t agree.

If that isn’t possible, I hope my dad, my hero and advocate goes first, because I cannot fathom him without my mom.

Mom would miss dad terribly, but she’s strong, and would survive.

Maybe I’m more crazy than I imagined, but I can handle Mom’s tears more easily than Dad’s.

I honestly don’t know how I would deal with him if he had to live without her.

As for my dearest friend, who is battling cancer, I advised her, as I do everyone, to live every day as if it’s the very last one.

Nobody, but nobody has the promise to live further than the moment they are in.

I know where I’m going when I’m gone from this world, so dying doesn’t scare me.

Living, however, without the people who love and understand me, gives me pause.

If that sounds selfish, it’s because it is. 

I thought I’d grow old and watch, with my husband I dearly loved, grandchildren playing in the yard.

Then, I came home one day, and out of the clear, blue sky, found him as dead as Moses.

No warning. No goodbye.  Just gone.

There’s no promise of life, to any of us, past the single moment we find ourselves living in.

If one doesn’t intend to live life as it happens, they forfeit their right to complain when it’s over, or nearly over.

You can quote me on that.

Right now, in this moment, is all I am certain of.

It is all any of us can be certain of.

This moment.

This breath.

This heartbeat.

Each day, if it doesn’t mean something, is wasted.

I say this to family, friends, former friends that I miss with an intensity that embarassess me, and though I can’t think of any specifically, my enemies.

I don’t think I have any absolute enemies.  If I do, they’ve been mighty quiet about it, and I forgive them anyway, knocking out the one leg they, were they real, had to stand on.

That’s good, though, in my way of thinking.  Who, when they have life to contend with, need enemies to muddy up the mess further.

And yet, as I often do, digress.

Now is the only thing that matters.

Grab on or be left behind.

Those are, in actuality, the only two choices.

As Shakespeare said (though he may have meant it differently as words in his day were perplexing, they pretty much say the same thing). To be or not to be … that is the question.

I choose to be, even when it hurts, is painful, annoying, hurtful, betraying or joyous.

I choose to give it everything I have, be whatever I can be and love, even those who don’t love me, unconditionally. 

Be it joyous, angry, confused, happy, sad, contemplative or any number of emotionally relevant states, with bright lights, awesome auroras, sleepless nights and flying debris; I’m there, every day, all the way.

I know who I am and if I die before morning, I know where I’ll find myself.

I love you all, even when you’re unloveable, just as you do me.

We, though we are all in the image of God, are, intrinsically human.

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Over the weekend …

I had a total bipolar meltdown on my dad.

He was, at first, completely blindsided, and then perplexed.

I usually meltdown on my mom, who knows to just let it ride until the event is over.

But she wasn’t there and I was melting down in real time.

I think it was good for him, my Dad, that is, to see me as I have a propensity to be.

Totally crazy, on the edge of straight-jacket territory.

A mess.

I try to shield him from this side of me, because, well, at the risk of starting a riot, he is my dad and is, with abject certainty, a man.

Men rarely understand the astounding psyche of women.

Don’t roll your eyes and pretend to be insulted.

We know that maneuver.

Add bipolar to the mix and a total discombobulation takes over.

I love my Dad.

He is my, second only to Jesus and third to John Robert (who is dead, by the way), my hero.

A man who’s integrity I would bet my last dime on.

But he isn’t my mom.

He wants desperately to pat me on the head and tell me all is ok.

All is not okay.

I’M HAVING A MELTDOWN, WHERE IS MY MOTHER?

In my own defense, I didn’t say that.

I wanted to, but felt the ramifications would skew the effort to find out WHERE THE HELL my mom was.

So I cried, sobbed, made little sense while blindly clinging to my Dad.

I seriously doubt he will
ever be quite the same.

It’s a bit, I suppose, like trying raw oysters.

It sounds gross, but the rewards … well, they, by spades, outweigh the risks.

I hope, some day, to eat raw oysters with my dad.

A small, and yet ambiguous dream.

He hugged me while I was sobbing incoherently and told me he loved me, no matter what.

Major points for that.

Major.

Points.

Major.

Through His creation …

He speaks to me.

Who, you say?

Why Jesus, of course.

How, you ask?

By showing me what He sees through the eyes He sees them with.

And by allowing me to capture on film that which He chooses to show me.

Being a photographer is one of His greatest gifts to me and I don’t take His beauty lightly.

I am, in the space of time that I walk through the beauty of creation, one with that creation.

I am part of that which lives, thrives and survives.

I am His.

He reminds me every day of His love for me by showing me the wonders of the earth He created, of His beauty and, for whatever reason, He allows me to see it through His perfect eyes.  I am often blinded by life, by moments, by disappointments and disillusionment, but He reminds me, every single day, that I am His.

Through the fragrant blooms of springtime that make their way even while winter tries to force his hand.  They are strong and resilient, those blooms.  Strong-willed and fearless as they burst forth with courage and strength.

The Creator's fragrant palette

The Creator’s fragrant palette

Through the fireflies of summer, which frolic beneath a summer moon and compete with the magnificence of the stars.  They blink and fade, wander and mesmerize, bringing magic and comfort and the promise of something wonderful.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Through the colorful leaves that adorn the trees that catch my eye, the smell of decay on the ground mixed with the subtle scent of of beauty that can only be felt in the heart.  The joyous chatter of the brilliance of fall as it rains down on forgotten paths and leaves the mind reeling with possibilities.

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

Through the winter, the cold air and frigid temperatures that can freeze a waterfall in her tracks, making her song one of unrivaled silence as her beauty emanates praise and thanksgiving.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

A bubbling creek becomes suspended in something, motionless and full of such magic that only the heart can understand it.  Some things are  so rare, so precious, so full of beauty that nothing is left but to offer praise.

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Seeing it, immersing myself in it, becoming a part of it reminds me that I, too am, a child of the creator.

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain ... one that I call home

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain … one that I call home

My cup runneth over.

His beauty unfolds before me in the misty rain of barren landscapes, foggy sunrises behind mountains and beneath a black sky glittering with stars.

without rain, there can be no rainbow

without rain, there can be no rainbow

From my front porch

From my front porch

I am blessed and, when I forget that, He reminds me with His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two road diverged in a wood, and I — I took the ones less traveled by, And that has mad all the difference ~ Robert Frost

Lunch with a friend …

turned into a five-hour visit.

Five hours.

Just visiting.

The waitress came by regularly for the first 45-minutes.  After that, we became a novelty.  She would still come by and offer service, but it was with a different attitude.

It wasn’t that she had to serve us (which she did because she gets paid to do so), but that she wanted some of what we had.

A friendship.

A kinship.

A shared knowledge of how much we were loved and cherished by Jesus.

People cringe at that word.  Yes, cringe.  You can say God all day long, but mention Jesus and people start to squirm.

But that is a post for another day.

Back to the point at hand …

Our simple lunch turned into five hours of worship, confession, joy, praise and thanksgiving.

Day two, resolution free, and I’ve already been blessed abundantly.

Living life in real time.

Speaking of real time, I encourage everyone to check out So Real Ministries, founded by my friend Lori, who along with myself, sat in a booth at Teddy’s in Nickelsville today for the whole five hours.  We did.  And nobody ran us out.  But I digress.  Check out So Real on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SoRealMinistries and on Twitter at @SOREALMinistry .

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Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree …

bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

Unequivocally, my favorite line of any song I have ever heard.

A bold statement, yes, I know, especially considering that I have heard thousands and thousands of songs in the decades of my life.

It doesn’t change this revelation in the least.  I first heard this song less than 72 hours ago.  It has been around for a while.  As a matter of fact, it was released eight years ago on my birthday.

I had to know more about who wrote words that surpassed any I have ever heard.  Maybe they struck a chord in me because I have a deep love and respect for trees and, on occasion, imagine myself to be one; swaying in the wind, basking in the sun, playing in the moonlight beneath a sky bursting with stars.

Being a seeker of knowledge, I went in search of answers.

The song was written by an independent singer/songwriter named John Mark McMillan.  In an interview, he says that he wrote this the day after his best friend died after sustaining injuries in a terrible car accident.  In the same interview, he tells of his friend, Stephen Coffey, a youth minister for Morning Star Ministries who said aloud the words “I would give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation” the morning before the accident.

John Mark wrote the song the next day.  He says that the love he is singing about is not a pretty “Hollywood  hot-pink” love, but the kind of love that is willing to love even when things are difficult and messy.  He goes on to say that  “This song isn’t a celebration of weakness and anger.  It’s a celebration of a God who would want to hang with us through those things, who would want to be a part of our lives through those things, and,despite who we are, He would want to be a part of us, our community and our family”.

I have listened to this song at least 200 times since I first heard it.  I am listening to it now.  I cannot pull myself away from what it says to me, how it makes me feel, where it takes me.

I imagine, before the anniversary of the song’s release, (on my birthday), I will listen to it several hundred more times.  I know every note, every sound, every pitch, every word and I hold them deep inside of me.

They make me want to sing; the make me want to cry.  But not tears of sadness, but ones of joy and celebration that even with all my imperfectness, I am loved and cherished by a Savior that I adore.

I have taken the blinders from my eyes, the plastic wrap from my mirrors and have embraced life with a fullness and freedom that I have never quite been able to achieve.

The freedom to love, to be loved, to seek and, in seeking, expect to find.

I will never be the same again and that may be one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given.

I’m putting a link to John Mark’s version.  I have heard several artists sing it in the last couple of days, but this version, his version, is by far my favorite.

John Mark McMillan ~ How He Loves ….

John Mark’s song-story …

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Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …