Receive Him Where You Can

Wednesday evening found me with about 90 other women from my church attending a seminar called “Real Strength: Understanding the Heart of a Man.” We invited John Pierce, who is a counselor at The Barnabas Center, to come and share his insight from extensive study on the topic of ‘getting’ true masculinity in a time that really misses and dismisses the beauty of a man’s design.

I myself, a straight A student of my culture’s belief that men could be seen as merely a means to an end, felt a bit daunted by attending such a seminar. But, I am very glad I had the courage to go. Also, I am thankful for a new willingness inside of me to be taught. Or Retaught. Because I do not come to this subject empty-handed. As a matter of fact…I come very weighed down.

John opened our time with some free association exercises.  He is after all…a therapist. He called out words like: Boy, Man, Boyfriend, Dad, Masculine, Son, and Brother, and we were asked to write down our initial thoughts. My responses were very telling of my need to be exactly where I was at that moment, because no matter what my history is with men in the past…my husband deserves to have his own unique story with me.

What does that mean? For starters, it means that I need to ponder the original design of a man, and thus come to a place where I can begin to appreciate and value our differences.

That evening, I was reminded of  how the fall of creation and sin entering into the world effects a man specifically. He was designed to subdue the earth and work the land with endless reward and bounty. When sin entered the picture, their specific curse became a life spent in toil, and the only constant would be a posture of enduring in seemingly endless failure and futility.

No job for a man will ever be completed because it must be maintained. No amount of physical, mental, and spiritual exertion will ever be seamless, and as a woman, knowing this is very helpful. Why? Because in my role as my husband’s helpmate and the one who receives him at the end of the day, I will always have a choice either to add to this burden or help him relieve it. Not take it from him…that is not my design, but to encourage him in his life long endeavor of weight lifting.

I am not suggesting that women should not speak, need, or require of a man. That is an entirely different blog post. But my take away was just how powerfull the words are that I speak and how I go about communicating those needs. If a man comes into life with a posture of ‘not being enough’, how helpful is it that I continue to point this out to him on a daily basis from my very own position and perspective? Especially, if those words are devoid of any morsels of encouragement, gratitude,  life-giving affirmation, and affection.

At the end of the day, John’s seminar could be summed up with two words: “Be Kind.” And simply, treat a man as if he were human, because he is most certainly flesh and bone. Care for him and his heart. Ask him questions, allow him to be adventurous; even if it is just in conversation. Don’t always assume you know what he thinks. Be gracious. And acknowledge that he has a story of his own.

The reality is that we as women have the power to inspire by joining them in their struggles and their victories as much as possible.  That night, I saw that I can be a wonderful instrument in the hand of God.  And at the very least, I can help cast a vision of hope that his own redemption is possible even though it’s marred by thorns and thistles.

**This is a slide from John’s presentation.**

Love A Man

␣    Honor His Work
␣    Believe For / In Him – Pray For Over Him
␣    Invite Him To Be More – Invite Him To Be Responsible With And For
␣    Compassionate, Merciful , Respecting – Boy In Every Man
␣    Offer From Your Vulnerability
␣    Invite Him To Name What Is Going On In Him – Give Time
␣    Understand That Your Happiness Is Not Up To Him
␣    Have Your Own Life With God – Let God Father You
␣    Be Penetrable – Impact-able – Offer Yourself
␣    Give Him Space For Himself To Be Off And Take Counsel With Himself – World Is Always Requiring
␣    Let God To Speak To Him – Give Space For Him To Work
␣    Encourage Of Masculine Friendships – Men Confirm Masculinity
␣    Want To Know Him – His Likes, Dislikes, Interests, Desires, Dreams
␣    Nurture Your Life / Heart / Know Your Self /Truth – Share It Freely
␣    If He Is Not On The Good Path Pray For God To Speak To Him/Humble Him/Be Curious
␣    Learn To Wait Well…allow Space For Him To Rise..

Hate A Man
␣   Dishonor His Work / Movement In The World *Look To Him As God  * Treat Him Like A Boy – Caudle Him  * Be Demanding / Impenetrable
␣    Name For Him – Tell Him What He Feels and Thinks
␣    Require Him To Be With You Always – To Fill Your Loneliness
␣    Do His Inventory / Accounting For Him – Be The Spirit
␣    Be God’s Voice
␣    Discourage Man Friends And Man Stuff
␣    Don’t Care About Who He Is…Just Expect Him To Care About Who You Are
␣    Withhold Heart / Truth or Share It Without Grace
␣    Try To Change Him / Humble Him / Convict Him
␣    Fill In All The Space *Make Up For All The Need, Rescue Him – Leave No Space For Him To Show Up
␣    Resist His Movement Toward You *Don’t Greet Or Part Well *Don’t Say Thanks or I Am Sorry


Paula Rinehart

In the spring of 2002, our family became part of a church plant. In retrospect, I see what an enormous undertaking it was to be called as a grower of a church instead of a reaper of one. With this 8 1/2 year endeavor has come many blessings and deep relationships. One of which has been with a woman I now consider to be one of my best friends in life.

The first time we hung out together, I remember her asking me what I like to do for fun. I answered that I was a reader. The very next thing she asked me was if I had ever read the book Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart. It was almost “knee jerk” in the way she presented the title. As if it was assumed that if I were a reader then, most assuredly I would have read this book.

Well, I had not read it, and I confess that just the name of it offended me. Deeply. Greatly. What a patronizing title. And who was this woman, the author, to even suggest that there was something better than living the life of an embittered cynic?!

One week ago today, I had the great privilege of meeting Paula Rinehart and introducing her as our retreat speaker to 85 women who had gathered together in the mountains of NC for the weekend. I broke the ice Friday evening telling the story of my first reaction to her book. I felt it was only fitting, since God used her immensely in breaking the ice around my own heart so many years ago.

I am still processing all she shared with us, and am at a loss on how to articulate the wonderful blessing of receiving her wisdom and hearing her deep laughter. Most of my notes were simply bullet points of her personal quotes and those of her favorite writers.

Any one of the following thoughts could be pondered indefinitely.

Paula Rinehart:

“Power does not win love.”(This was referring to Kierkegarrd’s(i think) analogy of a King falling in love with a peasant girl. In order to win her love, he became a peasant himself instead of demanding reciprocity….which would have been his right.)

“Home is our greatest emotional longing.”

“The real stuff of your faith must sink into the deep places of your heart.”

“God is interested in redeeming your life out of something.”

“There will be good days and bad days as I live out my calling.”

“Most of us are about as happy as we choose to be.”

“Lies are irrational thoughts that the devil slips into the youngest parts of you.”*love

“There is something about a relationship with X that gives us courage to live risky lives.”

“You learn scripture so that when your heart breaks, the Holy words will fall into your deep places.”*love

“Knowing myself as the woman Jesus loves allows me the freedom to be disappointed but not devastated in human relationships.”

“What is my small part in the drama that God has written?”

“The place God has for you is the place where the world’s deep hunger and my deep gladness meets.”  Frederick Buechner

“God does not give us a list of things to do and then check in at the end of the day to see if we have accomplished it all. That is the relationship between the master and his servants. As a child of God we have the freedom to work, serve, and give. And rest, play, and receive.”

“God is faithful, but not predictable.”

“Trust and love are two sides of the same coin.”

“Satan’s words always begin with “If you are…”  “God speaks to us from the standpoint of “You are… already loved.”*love

“We stumble upon gratitude when we do not wait for God to fix our life.”

“Chosen aches are the ones that we did not choose, but we do have to make choices to have/live life in the midst of them.”

“God wants to take me out of this world on His arm. It is He that wants to dance with me.”

“”It is God who wants to dance with you. He will take you out of the back alley where you have looked for life in anything other than Him”

“It is fellowship with Him that is the prize, not the fulfillment of my dreams.”

“I know the parts of the Bible that I love.” F.Buechner(i think)

“There is some kind of truly interactive process when you bring the real desires of your heart to God and he literally reshapes your inner being.”(Better Than My Dreams.)

**Thanks, Paula.

Change is Toxic

So, that is not “exactly” what it said.

A few months ago, I was reading a book on writing that had been highly recommended by many. I have been struggling with my words for a while now. They feel trapped inside of me.  Too, I am a little nervous at what will come out if I begin to try and pry them loose.

When I came across this quote,  I was very excited to have something in print that I did not write but supported how I felt inside. I am being asked a lot of right now in this area, and as you recall, I am an oak tree.

I went to highlight it in order to show all of the people who were encouraging me towards leaving my home church of 8 1/2 years in order for  my husband to pursue a year-long pastoral internship with our sister church 30 miles up the road. When I went to illuminate the words of wisdom and truth, I noticed that it did not say, “Change is toxic”, but that “Change is a tonic.”

Isn’t it funny how the brain works?

We’ve been gone two weeks now from our home church, and I miss it. Terribly. We have very close relationships there that are not normal for our day and age, for they run very deep into the heart and soul of who we truly are as children of the living, saving God. There are people there who only have to know a few words of where I am, and they can see my bigger picture. For they have been let into the story of my life.

I once heard a speaker say that “Evil is very content losing your soul for eternity, if it can render you ineffective and helpless in this life.” I believe there is merit to this, and the way it is accomplished is by whispering the lie in our ears that if someone really knew what was going on inside us or the truth of our pasts, they would reject us. I have always believed this as a ‘true truth’ until I was invited into a community that was honest about living life together. It isn’t always pretty, but it is often redemptive.

I think my fear is that something so special could never be replicated.

Yet, in the midst of my deep fear and quite frankly….anger at God for such a change, something amazing has happened. God is meeting me in that fear and anger, just like He said He would. And my prayer is that if I can only have the courage to be honest with Him, and invite Him into a heart and mind that views change as a poison, He will not abandon me, but gently take me out of it. That He will transform it into something that is for my good.

How is He doing it? Well, ironically by dispelling the myth of my biggest fear.

Yesterday, we were invited to lunch with some of the members of the new church. This couple and specifically this woman has been very kind to me since we began visiting with my husband as a perspective intern. She and I spent the afternoon as kindred spirits discussing writing, mothering, teaching, redemption, and my favorite…..being female’s with a cooking impediment. Even though, we are new friends…there was something so very familiar and comforting in the afternoon.

Dare I even say that tasted like a refreshing ‘tonic.’

With this transition, I am continually reminded that it was not God’s church that saved me. It is merely an instrument in His hand to help me believe in the healing power of His grace.

And so I wait. And I hope. And I drink not the ‘tonic of change’, but from the well Living Water.

The Faith of a Child

I love this photo, and it resides on my fridge. It made me laugh out loud when I had it developed 6 years ago, and it still has the capacity to crack me up today. My oldest is just not buying what Ariel, the Mermaid is selling, and it is very telling of the difference that age and experience can make on a trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Or in your day-to-day life, whichever the case may be.

Many years ago, I once heard Michael Card tell a story at one of his concerts about a friend of his who went to visit Mother Teresa seeking guidance and direction in his faith. I love MT deeply. She was small and yet so powerful with her no-nonsense ways and a deep abiding faith in God. A faith that was not without its seasons of deep struggle and dark nights of the soul. Yet she pressed on in loving the castaway’s and undesirables in her society.

I later found the story in written form in Brennan Manning’s Book, Ruthless Trust.

“When John Kavanaugh, the noted and famous ethicist, went to Calcutta, he was seeking Mother Teresa … and more. He went for three months to work at “the house of the dying” to find out how best he could spend the rest of his life.

When he met Mother Teresa, he asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she replied. He then uttered the request he had carried thousands of miles: “Clarity. Pray that I have clarity.”

“No,” Mother Teresa answered, “I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

I desperately fear the unknown, and too, long for clarity. I have very good reasons, for I know first hand that this world can be harsh and darkness great. But, I’ve had an opportunity this past month to reflect on all that God has done for me in bringing about redemption in my life. It has reminded of something my oldest said to me one day when she was about the same age as she was in this picture.

We were driving in the van, and she said out of the blue, “Mommy, you can’t see my white crayon on white paper.” The way she said it, you could tell this had vexed her for sometime. But then she said, “But you can see it great on black paper!” I smiled and knew that she was onto something deeply profound.

Sadly, it is easy for me to doubt or become suspect, and demand that someone give me proof before I believe or follow. And yet, He has given me all the proof that I need by writing on the black paper of my heart and life with the white crayon of the gospel. It is what stands out when you see me, and should be all the clarity that I need.

He’s Always Been Faithful to Me

Saturday, I went to a wedding. I had been looking forward to it for months, because though all weddings are special, some are simply incredible. And this was the most amazing pairing of two people that I had ever witnessed. In fact, it is one of my favorite stories.

July 2008, found me at Camp Lurecrest doing my first round of kitchen duty while my daughter attended a summer session. My friend, whose husband is the camp director, told me that I would be working with a very special couple. Their wonderful reputation preceded them, but I would come to find it paled in comparison to actually knowing them. Like the difference between holding a photograph of a waterfall, and being close enough to hear its roar and feel its spray.

One thing my friend told me before I met them was that they had lost their college aged son to a car accident that occurred while he was jogging in their neighborhood. My heart already ached for such a loss.

All week, I worked across the table from this wonderful woman, who had kind, yet piercing blue eyes. She saw into parts of my heart that had been hidden to many.  She also made me laugh. From my gut. Her husband was pensive and quiet with deep, dark brown eyes that did not miss a thing. He also made me laugh, and I loved to hear him talk about history and stories from when they met.

One afternoon, while on a break, a group of us were talking about home schooling our children.  I looked over to this woman as she also home schooled for a while. I was caught off guard because her blue eyes had filled up with tears.

She was gazing across the pool at a young man who she had never seen before yet reminded her of the son who died much too young. I remember she said, “That boy looks just like my Philip. He has the same texture in his hair and the same build.”

I will never forget her next words because though they did not make sense to me at the time, both sentences were from her heart and you could tell were her ‘true truths’. She said, “God is good, but I just miss my boy so much some times.”

We just sat with her, not really knowing what to say. I wanted to thank her for allowing us to see her tears and feel her grief. But anything that I could muster felt silly in comparison to all that she suffered. I wanted to cry too.

We went our separate ways at the end of camp, but were forever joined at the heart. And, I may or may not have a big crush on her husband.

That winter, I received a hand written letter from her. She told me how they were doing, and then wrote, “Do you remember that young boy at camp who reminded me of my son?”  Of course, I did. I will never forget that moment when I saw  someone grieve and praise God in the same breath. “Well,” she wrote, “he has written to us, asking if he could pursue our daughter’s heart.”

First of all, I had never heard such a beautiful way of expressing a desire to get to know someone. But, WHAT???!!!! I had so many questions. How in the WORLD did that happen???

It seems that her daughter and this young man went to the same college. No one knew this. That fall, they wound up being neighbors, and became great friends.

Two years later, they were married.

The families and the groom walked into the church to Sara Grove’s “He’s Always Been Faithful” playing in the background.  And the smile on the groom’s face when the church doors opened and he saw his bride, is a sight I will never forget.

the end. and the beginning.

oh, and she wore cowboy boots under her wedding dress, because she is the coolest girl I know.

Sara Groves “He’s Always Been Faithful”

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.

Sometimes He says, Yes

A few weeks ago, my husband sold his truck. (Some of you may recall it from the post I wrote in early July when I had to drive it for a week.)  He sold his Silverado in order to purchase a dump truck for his tree removal business. I admit, I was not completely on board with this decision as it left him with no alternate vehicle to drive. He assured me that he would be fine driving a dump truck around town, to his business meetings, to the girls soccer games, to church, ect.

Last week, amongst a slew of other trying things, the transmission went out in the dump truck. He would be without a vehicle for about 10 days, which put us in a serious bind. Our options were to rent something for him(which was what I wanted to do in the beginning) or buy an inexpensive car to get around town. Needless, to say….I was a bit exasperated.

We sat at the dining room table looking at cars on Craigslist. I was not crazy about anything that we saw, and finally said, “Why don’t we try to find you something better than what we are looking at.”  I wanted to pool our money in a responsible way, in order to provide him with something nice and reliable.

He was touched because he generally defers nice things in a household with three ladies and a tight budget.

We got out a piece of paper, wrote down our finances and tried to make it work. We had figured out a plan, but it required us going into a little bit of debt. Right about then….his phone rang.

It was one of his friends calling to tell him that he and another person wanted to go in together and buy him a car. I heard my husband say, “wait a second, I want you to tell my wife ” I talked to his friend, and we were undone by their generosity, kindness, and timing.

I love our community.

Then next day, we drove an hour a way, and my husband picked out a car for himself. Frankly, it’s the nicest car he has ever owned.(I mean, other than the 1957 Ford pickup truck he drove in high school.) Driving to the dealership he said overwhelmed, “What you do not understand is that the day before the transmission went out, I started praying that somehow God would provide me with another car. I knew that though I needed the dump truck, I also needed another car to drive. God answered my quiet prayer.”

Did He ever…..

and we are so thankful.

Psalm 116:1-2

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen.”

The Labyrinth

I am a destination person. Meaning, I believe that the trip begins once you “arrive”at the location of your travel. My husband on the other hand, is all about the journey and the process. Which translates into driving slowly and often taking a longer route than is necessary if it is scenic. This is something that I used to find extremely irritating and can still be a battle. But, it is also something that I am trying to appreciate and grow more accustomed to in my own life and not just on the road.

For those of us who love to plan, are very efficient in our thinking, and tend to have our eyes on the horizon looking for the ‘what’s next’, we can often miss what is right before us. Not that there is anything wrong in being orderly and structured. Those two words happen to be part of my monogram.

But, due to my own story, I have had to grow more in accepting the mysteries of life, and trying to find myself being present in the moment that has been given to me.

Which is one reason why I love the Labyrinth at the Well of Mercy.

When I went there for the first time, three years ago I was surprised to find myself being drawn to it again and again during my stay.  I did not really understand its purpose, and felt very self-conscious walking it in the beginning. But, after a while, I would find that my mind and soul would begin to relax. For me, it became a wonderful prayer tool.

Before I went to the “Well” for a two-day silent retreat, a wise friend told me to take some prayer requests of people in my life in order to still feel connected to my community and not become too self-absorbed. When I walked the Labyrinth, I was able to pray for everyone without becoming distracted.

There was something so beautiful and settling about looking down at what was right before me which freed up space in me to be mindful of my friends in need. There is nothing ‘efficient’ about the walk. Clearly the quickest route between two points is a direct line.  But in the seemingly ‘inefficiency,’ I was able to just be aware, in the moment, and at peace.

A website describes a Labyrinth this way…

Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.

A labyrinth has only one path. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.

A labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed.”

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I love anything that aids in quieting my internal world and helps me to have a ‘receptive mindset.’ After all, half the battle is getting a glimpse that there is another way to feel in life other than a mouse that is always running on a spinning wheel.

Because if I can taste that type of peace just for a bit, I have a better idea of how good it feels to just be quiet and at rest. Then I can bring the pictures of that experience home with me as a reminder to try and cultivate it in a world that tells me being still is unproductive and even worse….lazy.

Maybe the real beauty is that I can share those pictures with other fellow “mice” who long to know there is also another way to be and feel. if only for a moment.


I got home from the “Well of Mercy” Friday evening. It is a wonderful and intentional place whose mission is to simply offer you somewhere safe to rest.  I tell people that  being there tends to give you exactly what you need, even if you are unaware of that need.

For me, I just needed some quiet, so I did not have a phone or a computer while I was away. Though both are permissible at the Well.  And, just as I suspected, the world went on turning with out my having either.

I am not criticizing technology; I love it. But sometimes having constant access to the seemingly ‘immediate’ begins to warp my brain and my soul. It can become an addiction and a compulsion for me. The need to always have my phone with me, the urgency I feel to respond to emails, the relief when I hear the ‘bell’ telling me I have an email or a text(that must mean that I matter), and the angst I feel when I’m not “connected.” It all has to be kept in check.

I opted not to talk for 48 hours which is also not mandatory at the Well of Mercy. This blew my youngest daughter away. She could not fathom me not speaking for two days. She asked me when I returned home, incredulously, “You mean, you really didn’t say anything!!?” “Well,” I said, “I did have to ask for a band aid.” And I thanked the cook for preparing meals for me, and washing my dishes.

But, I didn’t talk at the meals and they graciously had a ‘silent’ table set aside that over looked the back property. Which incidentally, is beautiful. It may sound a little rude, to be in a room full of people and not speak. Honestly, the first time I did it three years ago, it felt rude. I am a Southerner, after all.

But, it is not rude. It’s just what I needed. And the Sister’s and staff are very accepting and encouraging.

This was my third silent retreat, and it has taken me a long time(years) to get to where I enjoy and long for the quiet. My first solitude retreat was about five years ago, and I went on it with people from my church. The ‘silence’ ran from Friday evening til Sunday noon.

I got quiet around 9:00am on Sunday morning. The time leading up til then was a battle that raged in my mind and my soul. It was a very painful detox mostly because I was afraid of what the silence would bring. I even got so ‘spiritual’ as to resent everyone who was on the trip with me and their ability to be still.

It was not one of my finer moments, but even then in my despair at ‘failing’ a silent retreat, the Lord met me with enormous tenderness and compassion in those last two hours.  That Sunday morning is a time in my life that I will never forget, and is an Ebenezer in my walk of faith. ( a remembering stone)

This past week, it only took me several hours to get settled.  I read, walked the trails that surrounded the property, napped, prayed, and just rested. I took a work of fiction, my Bible, and A Praying Life by Paul Miller.

I had read parts of A.P.L.  over the past few months, but having it with me while I was away allowed me to read it cover to cover. I am very excited about the prospect of this book in my life. Very Excited.

One thing that stood out to me in APL was when Paul Miller wrote Psalm 23 in  modern verse, taking out the “Shepherd” and everything He does for us. So much of the life I was living before I went away was without Him being close and me making small choices to be independent from Him.  It was destroying me, and after reading Psalm 23 with Him taken out…I understood why, and found it ironic that was the verse I left on my blog to illustrate my longing to get away.

I know  He has promised never to leave or forsake me, and I believe that. The dilemma was in  that it was me that was leaving and forsaking Him every time I pushed Him off to the side because of my business and constant need for distraction and affirmation from other places. So, my trip was a ‘stop, drop, and roll’ of the spiritual sort.

I have to tell you though, that I did not come back ‘fixed’. I came right back into the same busy schedule that I left behind for two days. The difference is the amount of perspective that I have now upon that busy schedule and some insight into what needs to stay, and what needs to go. I had enough distance to really see what was important to me for this season of my life and can now make adjustments accordingly.

So even though I am not fixed, I did come back….feeling ‘well.’

Paul Miller’s A Praying Life excerpt.

“Our modern, secular world has removed the Shepherd from Psalm 23. Look what happens to the psalm when you remove the Good Shepherd and everything he does:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside quiet waters; he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for

my name’s sake; Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff; they comfort

me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows; Surely goodness and

love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

forever. (NIV)”

I am truly thankful for a place that exists so close to my home where I can go to be ‘alone’ and feel safe at the same time. It is hard to do, but I never regret making space to go and be quiet so that I can once again hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

A Hobbit Birthday

Saturday morning found me sitting in a parking lot trying to think of what to get my husband for his birthday. He is difficult to shop for because his areas of interest are outside my realm of expertise. or even minimal knowledge. He likes to fish and play golf.

Yet deep down, I was fairly certain of what he would want, but did not know if I could pull it off in 24 hours. Not to mention, I am allergic to spontaneity.

Lost in thought, someone in front of me honked their horn. It was one of our special friends, and the exact person I was thinking of calling to get advice for shopping for my husband. We talked about gift ideas, but he too was at a loss.

And then I said, “You know what he would really love  would be a Hobbit birthday party.” My friend smiled and agreed wholeheartedly. And his excitement gave me the incentive and encouragement that I needed.

Hobbits are fictional characters created by J.R.Tokein. They are referred to as “half’lings” outside of their home in the shire because they are smaller than the size of a man. And though, my husband is not considered ‘short’ and does not have hairy feet, he like the  hobbit loves to eat, drink ale, and be in fellowship with others.

So, in less than 24 hours we put together a party for about 25 of our friends and their children. At one point during the evening, I was sitting holding a baby in my lap and looked over at my husband who was manning the grill. ALL of the men were gathered around him with their ale and were eating his chicken right out of the pan. They were not using plates or utensils and could not be bothered with side items.  He couldn’t have been happier.

The other characteristic of a hobbit birthday is giving people a gift for “tolerating you all year long.” And his favorite thing in the world is to cook for others.

He went to bed saying that we were very wealthy. Wealthy in relationships and community.  Which for us has been one of the greatest gifts of all.

The Difference Between Girls and Boys at My House…take two

I guess I should clarify that there is only one ‘boy’ at our house. My husband is out numbered considerably. Even the dog is a female.

First, there was this post.

***Apologies still apply for the gender stereotyping that you will find with this post.***

This fella is hanging out off our front porch….

and has been for a while now, because I’m too afraid to knock it off.  You know they hold grudges and track  you down in your sleep.  Even though it sees 8 of me, it could tell which side of the bed I sleep on verses my husband. They are very calculating…spiders are.

Snakes are worse, but that’s an entirely different post.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the steps after a run, and my husband came out of the house to talk.

All of a sudden, in mid sentence he said, “That thing is SO cool.”

I knew exactly what he was referring to.

“Don’t you think so?” he asked innocently.

I didn’t even look in “its” direction, and said, “No, I think it’s horrific.”

He then went on to say,”Did you know that that’s how Jonathan Edwards became a Christian?”

I said, “Wait, a second. You mean that Jonathan Edwards was a spider before his conversion?”

“No, Carrie. He was fascinated by the spider web,” he said, “and how it was so incredibly intricate. It caused him to ponder a greater “designer.”

“Oh, of course. Are we talking about spider webs or spiders? I agree with you that spider webs are cool. Unless of course, you happen to walk through one,” I said. “Because spiders are very calculating creatures who hold grudges and like to track you down in your sleep….”

“All 8 of you.”

p.s. my oldest just read this post and said, “I didn’t know that was on the front porch. I’m going out of the back door from now on.”

I believe my work here is done.