my beloved

He came home, my love, from working on a frigid day and headed to the woodshed

so to keep the fire burning.

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Our routine hello and a kiss and he said: I’ll be right back.

He was.

Right back.

What are you doing? I thought you were going to get wood.

I was, but I came back.

Why?

To see you.

You were just here.

I know. But I love you.

You have captivated my heart… :::Song of Solomon 4

I laughed. Like it was silly.

Joked about it, even.

Gave him a quick kiss

and went back to the dishwasher.

So he told me to look at him.

So he could say that he loves me.

Honey. Really?

Yes. He said.

I just want you to know that I love you.

You are beautiful… :::Song of Solomon 6

And off he went.

To keep the fire burning.

And I watched after him.

How he wanted to love me.

How he wanted to be with me.

And I filled up with tears

and love

and thankfulness

and awe.

I realized, {thank You, Lord},

For that moment,

I had rejected him

when he spoke love to me.

I had rejected

the one who loves me.

the one who pursues me.

Come with me… :::Song of Solomon 4

The one He has given me to love:::

declined his love, like it wasn’t justified.

Like it wasn’t qualified::::

I put off :::

this one who desires to love me like He does.

Yes.

I refused the one who, by His grace, desires to love me like He does.

and so with a flippant chuckle and turn of my head,

I dismissed it.

Discarded it.

And he came back through the door, heavy with wood

and me:

heavy with heart.

and I said

I am sorry.

Honey, I am so sorry.

I love you….

Honey, I love you, too.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

And I stayed up in the night::: tossing:

Lord, do I do this to:::

to You?

Oh, Lord, do I do this to 

You?

Do I cast You off?

Do I reject You?

Do I believe You {love} me like You say You do?

Do I really believe what You tell me?

Do I soak in Your love- advances when You say I am righteous and lovely in Your eyes?

And he brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love… :::Song of Solomon 2

Do I translate that love into loving others the way You love me?

Do I?

And I knew the answer.

The truth of it….

How I can walk in condemnation when He has told me otherwise.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who live in Christ Jesus.  :::Romans 8

How I can walk in death when He has made me live.

but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead… :::Romans 6

How I can reject the Greatest.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… :::Matthew 22

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Lord, I am so sorry.

And then, it happens, so sweetly.

How He forgives

and how He calls me back to Him.

And He quiets me

with His love.

And He lifts His love- banner over me

And He calls me His own.

again

and again

and again.

Blessed be The Lord your God Who has delighted in you… :::1 Kings 10

giving Way

The truth is this, I said to her:

In all these prayed- about decisions so far, I’ve never felt more like

a woman.

{I have a wise friend who told me to write about that amid our conversation… and

I smiled and nodded at her, unsure.)

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So God created man in His own image… male and female He created them. And God                                                            blessed them.            ::: Genesis 1

I had mentioned to her who I had been, back then:

:::: and now

in the tumult of the Curse, bearing down on him and aching for who He had made me to be when the Garden was breathing fresh life and holiness.

Genesis 3

I told her… I had been:

less of myself

and less of Him.

And He:::

He had asked me,

in the cool of the day,

in the heat of my fragile independence

Where are you?

And I, with no good answer,

hid from Him.

I hid at my job.

I hid behind money I thought I needed.

I hid thinking over family goals and career goals and

I hid in church- works and smiles

I hid in my unbalanced marriage

all of it, thinking I could make it work :::

strained and stretched at the teetering edges

I hid behind the world

thinking I wanted to do it all.

That I could do it all.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the                                                  eyes… she took…    ::: Genesis 3

Because this world,

that’s what this spinning, upturned, downgraded world says.

Life- lies through hissing teeth:

Do.it.all.

:::::::::: bondage.

And so, one day, He told me to stop spinning.

and I whispered,

Here I am, Lord.

Nowhere to hide.

surrender.

and that word:

that word that makes a world- living woman {a woman like me} a tad nervous?

submission.

yielding.

giving way::::

and that was it.

giving way.

Giving way to He who knows me deep and wide.

He who created me from him as his helper.

I will make a helper fit for him…   ::: Genesis 2

He who breathed life- air fresh into the first lungs so that we could breathe Him.

:::::::::::::::

Giving way

to Garden– fresh life.

... and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground… and the Lord God planted a garden in Eden… and out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight… ::: Genesis 2

And the truth is this:

I’ve never felt more like a woman.

Set aside the homemaking and the homeschooling and the I’ll never have a minivan and the crafty days and the Pinterest browsing and church- supper baking and the new penchant for a good dishtowel…

This. This is not about that.

Here.

Here it is:

I’ve never felt more like a wife to this man who loves me and loves Him.

I’ve never felt more like a mother to these children who teach me while I teach them.

I’ve never felt more like a daughter

to the King of kings.

And it’s not because I quit my job {although, for me, it is}

and it’s not because I teach at home {although, for me, it is}

and it’s not because I spend more time thinking about hospitality {although it is}

and it’s not because I search through grocery sale flyers…

it’s because of

submission.

:::: obedience.

I pray, {Lord, in Your mercy and grace,} help me to yearn after more of who I am in You.

I pray, {please, Lord,} help me to love my husband more fully and wholly,

{::: He listens…}

And He.

He encourages and helps me, this independent, kicked-out-of-the-Garden- woman-wife to submit to my husband…

Because I know he toils and seeks after the One who made us.

and when I submit to him,

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.   ::: Colossians 3

the one who leads me in the Word and plays with our children and guides me in my messes and lifts my moods and shares in my prayers and relinquishes to his Father in heaven?

that, in turn,

that encourages me, demands me, to kneel down and yield myself

before Him,

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by                                                                   submitting…                       ::: 1 Peter 3

and suddenly,

our life breathes together and we walk beside one another and we laugh and we snuggle and we pursue Truth and knowledge and wisdom in a way we hadn’t known…

::::: it’s the flawless dance of Creation He intended before the fruit was touched…

And it’s beautiful.

And there’s this glimpse of Jesus I see.

His love and his sacrifice for His own

how He redeems and fulfills and satisfies:::

and

how He submits willingly to His Father

and how He calls us to do the same.

and that,

that is not to be ignored.

And this yielding and opening and

giving way 

to Truth:::

is gracefully and simply beautiful.

And my independence?

That thing this world- woman craves and chases when my own deceitful heart gets in the way?

I remember.

I ask Him to help me remember His ultimate act of submission on the cross.

And I have no choice but to fall in – dependence on Him.

::::::::::::::::::::::::

and He nurtures and refreshes and emboldens and rallies us to press on…

::::::::::::::::::::::::

And I’ve never felt more

free.

Live as people who are free…   ::: 1 Peter 2

all the sweet; all the salt

I am The Lord who sanctifies you. :::Leviticus 20

I’ve been making lots of muffins lately.

Walnut ones

Banana ones (awesome)

Apple ones

Chocolate chip ones (not so awesome)

Oatmeal ones

Chocolate oatmeal banana walnut ones

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Some have been quite tasty and some… well… I thought if I piled enough icing or butter on them, they might be… ok…

But, really, it’s about this:

I have been making more muffins because I love him and he. loves. muffins.

:::::::::::::: makes sense.

BUT:::

I have to work at this muffin-making-baking- homemaking thing.

And I continue to.

I do.

:::: And I know it’s a gift. I do. And I love it.

I do.

That’s not me trying to convince myself. It’s me saying what I know is true. And I am savoring it::::

savoring…

:::: all the sweet; all the salt…  

But this:

I am not a muffin-maker by nature.

I’m not.

I’m a let’s-stay-outside-as-long-as-we-can-today-and-throw-chili-in-the-crockpot-so-we-can-have-it-when-I-get-out-of-the-treestand- kinda- girl. I’m a I’ll- always- need- want- a- job- outside- of- the- home- and- if- things- get- too- busy- we’ll- order- pizza- and- get- some- rest- on- the- weekend- kinda- girl.

:::: I thought.

There’s never been aprons and three kinds of spatulas to choose from while I make Rice Krispy Treats with one hand and pour perfectly-timed coffee with the other hand– mulling over how the all-natural chicken is on sale this week and wow, wouldn’t he like it if I met him at the door with a kiss? since I already ran all of my errands and I will be home before him?… while I wait for the kids finish their schoolwork… and feel a certain joy I never felt before?

There’s never been too much of that kind of thing.

’til:

now.

… and now I find myself in the blessed wait for him to come home so I can serve him dinner with a touch of prayed-for leisure and make sure that he can rest a bit and hang out with the kids so he sleeps well before he walks out the door again…

so we can savor:::

one more day:::

of this moment.

:::: And, I pray, remember to be grateful for it.

(And, by the way, I did make my first Rice Krispy Treats last week, you know.

And let me tell ya. They were nothin’  like Aunt Ella’s.

They stuck to my hand more than they stuck to the marshmallow. (?) And my 9×13 pan of treats were more like an 8×8 pan of treats in the 9×13 pan by the time I was done… who messes up Rice Krispy Treats? This girl…) !

But that’s the stuff I work through now… and it sounds silly? but::: it sanctifies me.

For me, this kind of working pushes me and stretches me and encourages me to be less selfish and more giving in ways I haven’t given in to before.

It demands more of who He is and what I am not.

And I have to work through and press through and I have to give up and walk in obedience and let Him work through me:

The Lord knew I needed home-making and love-making and muffin-making and smile-making and making time ::: s l o w ::: down.

… let him seek peace and pursue it. ::: 1 Peter 3

And so now, I make lots of muffins.

And I settle in to this kitchen…

And I pack his lunch…

And the kids eat a breakfast I think about…

And I like it. A lot.

And it happens, this serving and loving and learning and crying and smiling and burning up and burning out and falling tired on my pillow::::

manifests the joy I am finding:

1. In a muffin.

2. That he finds in his lunch box.

3. That makes his day. (!?!?!?)

I am amazed and filled and humbled and thankful.

{… Like the day his lunch buddies were all jealous of his banana muffins… And when he told me all about it, like it was his best story of the day, and there was a twinkle in his eye.}

Really?

Lord, I am loving my husband more deeply because I am making more muffins?

So tonight, I made him carrot muffins.

With a few less raisins, because he’s not so fond.

But with a few more carrots, because carrot cake is his favorite, so I thought he’d like that.

And while I was making them, the kids were running around crazy, pork chops were in the oven, visitors just left, we just finished school and we didn’t get everything done, the dog wanted to be fed and let out, the woodstove needed to be filled, and I was frazzled and I watched the dirt cover the floor I just swept…

but I was making muffins… and I knew that would make him happy.

So that was that. I was happy seeing him be happy. And so he helped me with the pork chops, so I could finish the muffins.

And now, I’m learning.

I’m learning that deep down, in that no -muffin -making deepest part of myself….

I LOVE making muffins.

I never knew it, really, but I have always loved homemaking muffins.

Nothing compares to this.

Nothing can take this place.

This present place where this apron-wearing-new-muffin-recipe-searching-realizing-that-after-10-years-her-oven-at-350-is-really-like-325 girl meets the take-me-bear-hunting- chili-will-be-in-the-crockpot-when-we-get-home girl…

and those two girls can coexist in the same kitchen (!!!!)

And by His grace alone…

pursue the Lord in all these things He’s teaching more about:::::

to

love my husband well

serve my family with more intention

begin to become this woman I had no idea I yearned to be…

… and then, when I’ve washed up my last muffin tin,

I throw down the towel,

:::::::::

and we head out to the Woods.

And for when we get back?

Well…

We all think chili in the crockpot sounds good.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God!  ::: Psalm 143

Of dirt roads and feeling full

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He and I, we tend to make best memories down dirt roads.

No surprise to the people who know us and love us and have seen us then and see us now and have walked with us in times between.  The ones who have been with us this long-lovely-hard-wonderful-up and down-growing up living- it- out time.

They know our heart for the woods, the way we burst-joy over catching the first Spring-fresh trout of the season, how we start pacing the floor when the air itches cool and November deer are moving, how nothing feels so good to us as a sweet summer August night under a moonlit sky when I can hold his hand and laugh too loud.

I love to throw my bare feet up on the dash; to the expected roll of his eyes and roll down all the windows despite the dust.

I love a perfect date night riding the roads to nowhere of vintage George Strait mixed with a little Marshall Tucker Band and two fishing poles right before dusk when blackflies and peace are equally fierce.

I love how sometimes a road impassable the year before opens up and beckons new adventures…

and how sometimes the paths I have bumped over a million times thicken dense and close up tight, so I have no choice but to try some other road worn-traveled to others, but raw and untouched to me.

I love how life leads across a map of trails like these.

Sometimes I think I kind of know where they are going to end. The roads.

And sometimes I don’t know they are even going to. End.

But when I’m with him, it’s ok like that.

:::: When I’m with Him, it’s ok like that.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go…”  +Mark 9

And the roads……..

Some end at my favorite lake surrounded by sunset and some of my favorite people with laughter hanging on star-strings on a summer evening.

Some end with a meandering after a smooth tar beginning til they turn to spinning gravel and then to grass and then bounce and jostle slow til the path fades away into the silent woods like it never existed at all.

There’s those that just. End. Abrupt.

Some lead to some unexpected blessing, a road to things beautiful and enchanting, that I had never seen anything so feasting before, ending by a stream spilling refreshment and bubbles under the coolest shade of hemlocks with yellow shafts of sunlight shining and you know that somewhere, just somewhere there must be a fairy sitting on a pink lady slipper dripping with dew.

Some end up somewhere unexpected and jolting and I am not even sure how we arrived there.

But, it all…

it all…

Fills me, somehow.

…and the hungry soul He fills with good things… +Psalm 107

All the roads that lead to fulfilling that one thing, that one thing…

His purpose for us.

As I have planned, so it shall be, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand… +Isaiah 14

And I am content with that. I must be. Because I must trust Him down all of these roads.

And The Lord gave me this pretty amazing husband. The one made just for me. The one who leads me and accompanies me and guides me and walks beside me down every pathway. The one who rides all the roads with me.

The one who turns up the music and plows through the dirt and doesn’t mind the mud and keeps us moving and hunts for happy and discovers new paths and brings me along and clears the way when the brambles stick and holds my hand while he drives.

And that, by His grace…

we can trust Him down every way we walk.

Because He,

He

is walking with us.

I pray we remember that.

“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls…”

+Jeremiah 6

on fire

I asked him for fresh forgiveness this morning.

I asked Him for fresh forgiveness this morning.

It was the one thing I had to do.

The only thing I had to do.

I was this::::

Sharp glances and sharper words from a spiny tongue,

Splintering and stinging fire-ant fierce

How great is a forest set ablaze by such a small fire!  +James 3

peppered hot.

Prideful and self-righteous,

Indignant and contrary,

Assumptive and insolent.

Graceless.

Grace-less.

without.

Grace.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. +James 3

Who am I to not give grace?

Who am I to not spill it out over and over and over again like He spills it out to me?

Over and over and over again?

Who am I to spit salt into fresh water?

I breathed it out

kindled it007

fanned it

til it flamed

with sighs and eyes

and pouting and ultimate-ing

self-glorification:::

the tongue… staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life… +James 3

Singing praises minutes before,

with the same mouth,

With it, we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God… +James 3

celebrating my Lord and Savior,

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand… all other ground is sinking sand…

Seconds before he walks in the door and says the one thing,

a little thing,

that sparks,

and sinks me,

the thing I could have doused with the clean waters of grace and mercy and love,

the thing he did not intend for tinder,

instead it smoked,

flared orange and red,

soaked in the gasoline of puffed-up self-love.

Til He intervened

and convicted

and extinguished

And my day would not begin without the joy of being His

burning in my bones.

Is not My word like fire, declares the Lord… +Jeremiah 23:29

Hi, I say, I’m so, so sorry.

And he says, Me too.

And that was that.

Like that.

Like that forgiveness flowing freely from the cross where His love bore our sin.

Like He tells us when He washes us clean and white with life-giving Spirit-filled fountains of living- breathing- water.

Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water… +John 7:38

You are forgiven.

You.

Are.

Forgiven.

Now go fill your heart with pure and lovely and true.

Now go.

Now go be on fire for Me.

the breathing out

earlyoct08 014He was out on the old tractor at our family Farm.
Rolling on black tires tall,
Meandering through the high grass
Mowing it away
harvesting his refreshment
Happy to find time alone, although he didn’t say.
A breezy afternoon, red Farmall plaid shirt and jeans with a fleece kind of day.
A little late for mowing this year,
Golden rod bowing their heads in the field by now, swaying in the How Majestic is Your Name chorus,
As my love exercises an Eden- gift of dominion over the land, back and forth, to the edge and return,
Back and forth :::
across the once-pasture
Entering into the praise-song of the Earth,
back and forth::
Praising the Creator on this day, blessed to breathe in,
                                   :: back and forth
And I
busying myself about the farmhouse,
sorting the silver and throwing the gingham dishtowel about my shoulder
hearing the slam-click of the screen door while the kids wildly scream in freedom and laughter
Wondrously realizing satisfaction to the once-eluded primal pull of house and home::
soaking in::
giggling in the moment of sheer peace
                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My Gramma arrives early for Pinochle
While crockpot chicken-dill stew bubbles
And I forget to make the brownies
So I greet Gramma in her pearls and ice-blue cardigan that matches her eyes
And to find my own Mama, still outside
hurting in the deep- broken- breaking of this world
and wrap my arms about her too and look in those inherited- blue eyes
Saying::
Let’s go, let’s play a game ::
Can I get you a drink::
Let us sit,
Glad you came,
Today is the day the Lord has made,
A gorgeous day,
The weather you love, right, Mama? Remember?
Breathe it in, Mama, that chorus, do you hear it?
Out in the field, the hallelujah chorus?
The whirr of the tractor cannot out-do it, Mama::
I promise.
The Earth pours it out to Him and you just need listen::
It’s all praise,
Mama, you just breathe, because He cares for the sparrow, you know that,
                                                 ~smile
I know you do.
Praise Him, even when all is hard, Mama.
I inhale deeply, quietly
too
eyes closed with
thanks, wonderment
                                   :: weariness
as I linger to the screen porch.
The sparrow,
The lilies,
Yes, Lord.
Yes, Lord.
My brownie bowl cradled in my arm,
wooden spoon circling,
I call through the screen to my love who has rested a moment
outside
on the tractor looking at the sky:
::::Gramma wants to watch you mow, I say
I whisper in my heart to him:
{She wants to! To really stare out to the trees and the sky of brilliance and the Son that warms and join the chorus and fill that deep longing to praise she can not quite satisfy!}
Wait, Love, to say hello to her before you go
And my Mom is here too and she’s broken in pieces, Love…
{She says she can’t, Love, she says she cannot find Him now in the midst of this pain. Can I say to her with truth and faith in the middle of this:: praise Him? Can we reflect Him by our doing? Can she watch you refresh yourself in Him as you busy yourself in His Creation? Can I serve her here in this place where I am and where she is and let Grace fill in our brittle cracks?}
He smiles his smile
That God-gifted smile
the one that belongs only to him
and to me:: us, together
The smile that makes me breath
quietly reassured
The smile full of God-given wisdom in the middle of this open, baring field
The smile that knows where I have been
and knows where we are going::
                             {with Him}
             :::: joining the hallelujah::::
the smile of my love whispers to me as he sits atop a farmer’s seat in the sun
and
I stand in the shade waiting:
{Yes, he smiles, yes, THIS is where we are and who we are in Him and this is where He has us and this our walk in His will today. We are strong in Him. I’m going to mow now. Have fun playing Pinochle! Go…}
And all he needs to say aloud as I watch his smile…
He waves and yells out, loud enough for her to hear,
HI GRAMMA!
I set the timer for the brownies,
gather the well-worn Pinochle cards,
while I pour my mama a glass, right full,
peering through the window at the giggles and quarrels in the sandbox,
I settle in a chair on the porch where I can face the field,
so when I look up from my cards, I can see him,
praising God with his hands,
as he joyfully toils,
with the ravens flying
and the pines whispering
and the apples ripening
and the clouds moving
joining in the Everything-That-Hath-Breath-Praise-The-Lord Chorus
And I have no choice,
no desire,
to do anything else, but be right here, in this place
in this place,
Where God has called me to
for this moment,
Where Earth and sky and obedience and brokenness and submission and gentleness and thanksgiving and uncertainty and peace all meet:::
::: in the wide open field of PRAISE.
“Oh, come let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God… In His hands are the depth of the Earth; the heights of the mountains are His also.  The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land… 
We are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand…”
Psalm 95

Salt

DSCN0771

seaglass: tossed and turned and new again

He took me to the ocean last night.

Not because he wanted to.

But because I wanted to.

He is giving and sure and gracious like that.

He knows my need and gives up his time and makes things happen even when I do not give him thanks for it all.

I know Someone else like that.

I told my love I needed to smell the salt and breathe in the dripping air and watch the water retreat,

Because that is what I wanted to do:::

Retreat like that. To leave for a bit and roll back in with the moon and tide, washed and refreshed and ready to take the world on again.

I told him that I needed to hold his hand and stammer through the tidal mud and lift  the ‘weed and find some treasure. Something pretty and rounded on the edges.

Something with a story to tell.

Something once-birthed jagged and cracked and broken- all- up.

Something tossed and turned and flailing on the waves.

Something trusting the ride, because it knows the end.

Something sanded and worn-down and full of grit-scoured wrinkling.

Something like that.

Something that ends up re-fined and re-curved and re-shaped and re-polished.

Lost and found again.

Washed free from the bottom and catapulted high to shine in the sun.

A glistening gem buried beneath the ‘weeds and rocks and water.

Something-fractured-separated… turned something-brand-new.

He bought me a milkshake with a cherry on top and we walked along the pebbled shore.

He laughed and looked his for-me-only grin while he found mussels and pieces of glass and metal and rest.

He joked and talked and I listened and breathed in the salt air and him and the warmth of his hand.

And found rest right there.

With him.

With Him.

I felt pretty and found and picked up and brushed off anew again.

Right there in my muck on a rocky beach near the sea.

Breathing in salt.

So I can be.

Oh, I pray to be:

Salt.

“You are the salt of the earth… In the same way, let your light shine before others…” Matthew 5:16