this one thing

039The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. +Proverbs 16

I stubbed my toe on it this morning.

Yowl with a jump and a grabbing one-hop grimace::: shrill


They were watching me.

Of course.

:::::::::::::: they always are.

Stuck screeching and limping and trying not to will forth words that bend an ear and bend a heart::::

What will she do next, this drama mama we got?

Made them startle a bit:: too::: from the Cheerios and milk and this quiet little house dawning new beginnings.

I stubbed my toe on it today.

This change we got.

Walking straight on the wide road and it just popped like a rock on the way.

In the way.

Stubbed and stopped up quick-like.

So this grace-blessing gift of our road would narrow, pointing straight to Him. The less- traveled one.

::::By us, anyway.


by that change we got.

When we said to Him, “We are Yours and You make us and keep us and bend us and try us and lead us and love us and purge us and do with us what You will…”

And my sister says with a chuckle and a heart full of love for Him, you know what you’re asking for, right? He’ll do it. You know that. You ask Him to purge and love and mold and change and He will…. He’ll do it.

And I say Yes.

And so it comes.

Not because I told Him He could, but because He already knew He would.

Because He is all-sovereign and awesome-big and fierce-mighty and real-loving like that.

And we grope and celebrate and grasp and smile and fall and rise and wonder and wander and keep close to Him.

:::::: praying, for obedience to Him, trust in what He has for us, living in His truth…

When we stub toes and when we get up and when we push forward and when we fall back and when we kneel praying and when we look up singing and when we breathe this thing called change in and live it out for Him…

He has us.

He has this.

And when our little ones look after us, we want them to know this truth.

His promise in this ever-changing, up-ending world.

He has us. He has this. We trust in Him, He makes our paths straight.

Because this one thing remains::::

::::::::::::::::::in all of the change.

He: does not.

For I, The Lord, do not change. +Malachi 3

Driving away

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong: and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  +Isaiah 58

She boasts proud this one-cat-too-many home and forever loves her husband.

She smooths red on her lips next to her fiery hair just for a little jaunt to the food market for just the right feline Fancy Feast.

She tidies her collared delicately- pleated blouse next to her polyester pleated pants falling on patent ballet flats and refuses my arm down the creaking stairs.

She cherishes the flowers and the boy who mows her lawn haphazardly and invites me to the couch to chat and searches for her keys in clutter.

She smiles and gives thanks heavenward for her health while she straightens her ump-teen orange pill bottles carefully on a filled rolling- tray and says God is good to me, Brooke. He is so good to me.

She says thank-you to me too much and asks me what she owes me for gas and fumbles with these three dollars and I say this is my pleasure and she opens the car window yet even more and says she feels the wind in her hair and throws her aging hand outside to taste the joy of the day.

She grins in some memory, I think, and then asks sweetly if I am getting too much air.

No, no, it’s fine, I like it, I think I’m just beginning to breathe, really. {smile}

She is gracious and sweet and has this story she’s lived and she shares some with me and my eyes are watering and I am listening to her…

And she overtakes me.

She overtakes me.

With her courage and perseverance.

I have known her for seven years… and I have never known her.

And we drove on this sunny day to a place neither of us really wanted to have to go.


I had wakened that morning with a plan in my mind. All set before me, next to the coffee pot set to brew at exactly the right time, all lists diagrammed and noted and cited with a back up plan flagged with post-its marked with a sharpie. You know that kind of day?

And God said no. Just like that. And this is how it happened in this span of almost a minute:

Early in the morning after reading an email discussing a need, before I started anything on my list. He said no. That, your plan, is not what I have for you today. I have this instead.

It is almost like I could have ignored him, you know? Do you know how close I was to thinking I could? To disobey? I said, no, this is not for me, not today. And He said yes it is. And I tried not to call her and say yes I can. Yes, I will take you.

I tried to say no. To Him.

Did you read what I said? I tried to say no to Him. The reigning God of the universe.

Who am i?

Who AM I? He says.

And I called her. I said yes, of course I will. How are you this morning? I will come to you soon. See you soon.

I dress and say I can’t do this without You and He says You are Mine and I am weak and strong all at the same time. And I get in the car and drive to her and smile a hello. And she smiles grateful and I am humbled. In her presence. I am humbled in His presence in her.


I see her each week with a polite hello and she tells me my children are nice and I tell her I like her brooch, which is true, and she says thank you God is good to me, Brooke and then I move on to the next person to say hello. Every week like that. In and out the door like that, when I’m not so invested. Sad truth.

That’s what I do EVERY week. I smooth my hair and glide on my gloss and step out in a skirt and shove the family into the car and spill my coffee and forget my bible and say hello to lots of people like that. EVERY week.

Let me tell you this: I am sick over it.

This woman I have been cordial to, week after week, month after month, avoided at times because I don’t have anything to say, this woman who loves Jesus and breathes out thanksgiving and finds joy, joy, in the darkest times,

this woman who sings her hymns and knows her God and carries her purse in the crook of her arm and asks for prayer and prays for others and adores chocolate ice cream,

but eats vanilla because her husband loves it and they can only afford one flavor at a time. So she loves vanilla now…. because she loves him.

And, The Lord… He used this lady I have sometimes essentially walked by, to teach me a lesson in His love.

In my brokenness and depravity, He let me see her like He does. Grace-gift.

And I am convicted and humbled and forever grateful.

And so we drove down the road and ended up there nervous and lagging and a bit scared because I don’t like places like this. I’ve seen too much when a body deteriorates and is sick and wasting away. Scared. That was me.

But not her.

She ended up there eager and thankful and smiling and combing her hair for him and waiting for me while I locked the car and admiring the flowers and knowing he’s not eating and hoping for the best and thanking God for this time and I am looking at her while her husband fades in this hospital bed and she orders him ice cream and I wait outside the door…

… just for a moment, so that I know she finds her seat, but instead she finds his hand and I hear him without seeing him and he has this joy in his feeble voice and her head is turned but I hear the smiling in her words and I think to wait until I know she’s settled, but they are talking about cats and the love they share and this C word  that doesn’t compare to the Love … and I go…

And I gently tell her when it’s time to leave and I say you haven’t eaten and she’s tired and I want to love her well, because He says so and because He is in me and I really do want to love her well,

And we are there to dive into our French fries because that is her favorite and mine are at my lips…. and this thing happens::::::: she breaks into praise after hours next to his bed and this sickness looming and her future unknown::::: she starts praying in thanksgiving…

and I forget to say thanks to Him?!?!

I forgot to say thanks. Not only did I forget, it didn’t cross. my. mind. I have food and my family is healthy and I am blessed beyond measure in a million little and big ways and this beautiful child of God is sitting next to me, hungry for food and hungry for her husband and she breaks out in prayer and thanksgiving for all of her blessings…

and I break inside myself and look at her. Amazed. She knows this God she claims. In the midst of it all, she is praising Him for His goodness to her.

::::::::::: No words for that.

I drive her to her door and hug her and say see you soon and she says she needs a little nap and I pray for her rest and she thanks me again.

I say I am the one who has been blessed today. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart for spending time with me today.

And I drive slow, with the windows all the way down and my aging hand out in the wind

…. and I am filled.

In the deepest part of myself, I was filled. Satiated and brimming with the gift of living in the Gospel and letting it change me. Change me for Him through this beautiful woman and her failing husband. And I want to do more.

That is what I want. I want Him to drive me away from comfort and love others the way He does. In all of my imperfection and pride, He let me be His hands and feet.

How can I thank Him for that enough?

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. +1 Samuel 15:22





So to keep me from becoming conceited… a thorn was given to me in the flesh… three times I pleaded with the Lord about this… but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”… Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12

Sometimes I wish it didn’t hurt so much.

But it does.

Some pain pressing in my flesh- jabbing.

The way I am walking in the thickets of the day and smelling the roses and lifting my head to the sunshine and piling up smooth pebbles like velvet to my fingers and lounging by the scent of the stream flowing and filling my basket-full with lovely loose daisies dripping…

until the thorn bites.

Sometimes it is out of nowhere- seen,

a flower in my hand and a song on my lips and a skip in my step and everything laced up– tied up and the world snug-warm and deep, held-near and grasped-dear… and then :::


There it is, like stretching itself out for blood and aiming bullseye- perfect for my happy.

sleeping beneath the petals pink,

Like it belongs there.

Like a thorn that belongs on the growing stem of the otherwise most beautiful rose…

Sometimes… I think no, it doesn’t.

It doesn’t need to be .right. there… on that rose, that I am picking to admire and place with my other prize-winning pretty petals.

Because that stings. That surprises. That just does not feel good.

Please, Lord, take it? Take my thorn?

And then:::: I think::::

Maybe it does. Maybe it does need to be.right.there.

But, that is where He has allowed it to be.

…to know and to believe the love that God has for us… +1 John 4

He created all things.

All things. The things we can touch and feel.

The things we cannot.

He is sovereign over everything. Every


He thought about the stem of the rose.

He made these things. All things…

For a purpose.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: But. It hurts.


When there is a barb pointed-irritating where I don’t expect:::

:::just when all is well and I just plain don’t want that.thorn.there.

But of course it does fit right there.

He has allowed it there. And that.

:::::::::::: is enough.

for me.

Because all is His.

All of it. His.

Even the thorns climbing, side-stepping of the stalk to lead to the right-resplendent rose.

At the pinnacle.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. +1 Tim. 4

And the…


They are His, too.

Roses. They are sweet to the taste, sweet to the eye, sweet to the smell…

Everyone wants one.

And that is what the thorn grows for.

Not to harm the rose.


To protect it.

Safeguard and preserve. Cover and keep. Shield and shelter.

from loss.

from iniquity.

From harm.

This thorn.

this piercing blood…

His blood.

covers me.

Perhaps, the thorn, the thing I might dread…

keeps me.

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus… +Heb. 12 

Perhaps it just keeps me…

Close to Him.

For when I am weak, I am strong.  +1 Corinthians 12