Thursday, December 29, 2011

The worst ribbon ever found.

I heard about these people called haulers, who go online and blog about what they got for Christmas, and while that is tempting--okay, I will brag on some wicked cool gel pens I got--I will stick to something else I'm grateful for.

I spent the last week with the fam and drove home yesterday with Jellybean and Buckley snug in their carrier. All was well until Buckley made a little gagging face, then urped on his brother's tail. Understandably, Jellybean was  ready to be done with the trip then. But, alas, we had four more hours to go.

Well, despite his protests, we kept going and made it home. I unloaded the cats and their litter box, and not five minutes later, the source of Buckley's upset tummy became apparent. Six inches of curling ribbon came out the other end.

Just so you know, eating curling ribbon is a bad idea.  While it may emerge intact, the accompanying odor could kill you.

I would have preferred if Buckley hadn't eaten ribbon. Or since he did, if he would have expelled it in the litter box instead of on the carpet. But honestly, I'm just grateful that he waited until we got home or, they'd three gassed bodies in a blue Impala on the side of the road.

Thank you, Jesus, for small mercies.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Zack gets His Wish

I just love the Christmas story.  Everything about it. The more I read it the more I see how brilliant and symbolic God is.
Sending his own son as a baby to this earth? It doesn't get more renegade than that. That's straight up bold. Inviting angels and people who lived in the fields with their animals to the same shindig? Clearly His love and Salvation are an all-skate.
But what stood out to me recently was something that happened a tad earlier.
Zack was a good man. A priest from a good family, with a wife from a good family. They'd been married for a long time and if you could retire from being a priest, he'd be getting toward that point.
His job required some travel to the temple when he was on duty, but he liked the work. Well, one day while He was on, as they cast lots to see who got to go in the temple and burn incense before the Lord. It was like being chosen to talk with the CEO about life on the front lines, only much cooler and with incense.
The lots rolled, and Zack's number came up. Sweet!  There was no guarantee that would ever happen in his lifetime, but it just had. No doubt he was a little nervous. I mean, this is God. Talk about a career make-or-break scenario.  So Zack gets up early, brushes his beard, puts on his nicest priest outfit and hat, and goes to the temple, hoping nobody else can see his heart pounding behind his robes.
When the time comes, he tries to play it cool as he enters the inner court.  The thick curtain mutes the sound of singing and prayer from those in the courtyard. As his eyes adjust to the dimness, he takes a moment just to inhale. The rich, familiar scent of the incense is a boon and a weight. He's smelled this for years, wreathing the Holy of Holies, caught a whiff of the prayers of the saints and been reminded he worshiped a God who hears, even if He had been silent for a long time. Like, oh, five hundred years, including all of Zack's life.
But it was this God, this timeless God, who he now shuffled forward to honor by burning the incense. It was he, Zack, priest, father of none, who honored the Lord of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob this day.
He bends to put his lamp flame to the incense, and out of the corner of his eyes, a flash.
He straightens, and suddenly, he's not alone. A golden man in cloud-white robes stands there.
Um, is this supposed to happen?  Who is this guy and how did he get in here? But no, he's not...normal. He couldn't have come in behind me. He must have come from... Why has no one mentioned before that some man appears when you light the incense?
"Don't be afraid," the guys says, in a voice that Zack can feel in his bones. Like James Earl Jones, only bigger. Then he tells him that he'll have a son who will pave the way for the Christ.
Zack is no doubt blinking furiously and rubbing at his ears. It's all too much. Like that last part. A son? He'd prayed for a son for decades.
Every. Day. For. Years.
And his wife had none. He loved her anyway, and he'd even given that wound, that unmet desire over to God. He'd decided that God's people would be his children. He'd love on them. And now, a glowing dude pops up in the temple and says He's going to have a kid?
I might have asked about that too.
But the man doesn't respond by slapping his own forehead, and saying, "Oops, your Zechariah, I was supposed to talk to Pechariah. I'm sorry for the confusion."
No, he tilts his chin down, eyeballs Zack, and says, "For real? I'm an angel. Of God. I literally stand in His court every day."
Oh, right. The God Zack has served for a lifetime. The God who has promised to rescue his people. Who had given an heir to old folks before.  That God.
But the angel isn't done. "And now, so you'll be certain, blammo." He didn't really say blammo, but that's probably what it sounded like when His words twined around Zack's vocal cords.
Well, darn. Now he can't talk, can't explain what he saw. It's a bit of a reprimand, but I bet it was also a blessing. When Zack woke up the next morning--when the hype had muted, and his roommate gave him the cynical eye--if he opened his mouth to say, "It might not have happened. I mean, I forgot to eat breakfast yesterday, so maybe I imagined it," the words wouldn't come. He couldnt' speak.
It was true.
He was about to be a dad! And his son would be weird, but Godly. He'd be an outsider on earth, but precious to heaven and to his own, old, parents.
I love that the lifelong priest didn't get it just right. I love that God didn't revoke his blessing or Zack's place in His will because of this. I love that when all hope seemed lost, God granted the desire of an old couple's heart.
It's all one more example of the kindness and love of a good God who rarely makes sense but always makes good.  Thank you, my Lord, my love, for your vastness. Thank you for every drop of you I have seen, heard, felt, and known. And thank you for the many more to come. I long for you, to know you, to see you, and I can't wait for more. And thank you for your stunning grace. That even when I mess up, you are faithful and you won't retreat from me, you'll just grow me.  All  my life, all  my soul, all  my heart, all my love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's time...or is it?

So I have Netflix--the online version--and lately I've been watching Frasier. It's a super funny show, and in watching it I've noticed that the humor is based on 1) Frasier's own hypocrisy, 2) puns, and 3) really bad timing.
There are a lot of times when I fall victim to number three, and too many times I fall victim to number one. And, occasionally I fall victim to number two, I suppose.
It's so frustrating when time feels off. When I worry I've missed the boat, or that I was two seconds away from the life I should have led. It's tempting, especially when I feel dissatisfied, to think I've missed out on life because I wasn't paying attention. It's not true. I have a great life, and I love it...usually. But sometimes a girl starts to wonder.
 So, today I'm grateful today that I belong to a God who is big. Bigger than my propensity for bad timing. Even if I did all I could to mess up God's plan for me, I couldn't, because He won't let that happen. He's got too much going on in me, through me, and for me. I don't have to worry about having missed the boat because maybe I wasn't born for boating. Maybe there's another boat coming and it's better for me. Or maybe I'm a flier.  Either way, time has had a mind of its own lately and I'm glad to know I can rest in Him.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mrs. Lyon and the first song

Growing up we had a glossy black baby grand piano. We used it to practice on with no idea how lovely the instrument really was. I remember dragging my heels all the way to the black leather bench to run scales and practice songs for the required 30 minutes. For seven years I did this between three and five times a week, then put a check mark on the practice sheet Mrs. Lyon sent home. Oh, who am I kidding? I filled out my practice sheet on the day of my lesson because if I brought it back I would get to pick one of the bright jolly ranchers from her basket of rewards.
Two things stand out about Mrs. Lyon even now. She always had incredible jewelery. Pins, necklaces, earrings, the whole sparkly nine yards. And second, she was always cheerful and warm. This is amazing enough for anyone, but when you consider she had to sit through hours of unmotivated, marginally talented kids like me, the word saint comes to mind.
For years I sat and plunked out the tunes she'd assigned, my skill growing more slowly than my stature.
Then one day, things changed.
I'd had a really rotten day and hadn't had anyone to tell about it. I sat down at Mrs. Lyon's piano, and opened my book to the assigned piece. I think it was called Angel's Voices. It really was beautiful. It had lots of runs from the deep, throaty notes all the way to the silvery ones. And it was simple enough that I could play it through without hitting a wrong note and jarring myself out of the piece. I'd enjoyed plunking it out all week.
Well, on that bad day I sat in front of the keys, and with nowhere else to pour my angst, I let it run down my arms and into the music. It was like the song felt it with me. Though I hadn't voiced my frustrations and hurts, they'd been heard. It felt good. Liberating.
When I finished, I straightened and looked to my teacher for evaluation. Mrs. Lyon sat there for a moment in complete silence. I wasn't sure what that meant and started to get a little nervous. Then, she said, "Kim, that was beautiful."
It wasn't even the words, it was the way she said them. She was a very encouraging instructor, but this time it was different. She was choked up. As if she was able to feel what I'd poured out in song.
That was the first day I realized that music, that art of any kind, can truly convey emotion. That it can tell others our hearts. And that sometimes it can reach deeper than words themselves.
After that, she lent me a piece of music called Exodus. It is drenched in power and emotion, and with my limited talents and boundless unshared emotions, I did all I could to guide it to its potential. Mrs. Lyon gave me that sheet music after my lesson and I still have it. Still wring it out of the keys on the rare occasions that I have access to a piano.
I love music. I rarely do anything without listening to it, including writing. Heck, especially writing. It helps bridge the gap between my head and my heart and my soul.
Anyway, it was a beautiful memory to chance upon while I readied for bed. It made me remember how grateful I am for music, for the way God knew that words could never be enough to express his beauty or even our own meager hearts. I'm grateful for the mad crazy talent he gave composers, and the mad crazy patience he gave piano teachers like Mrs. Lyon.
My Jesus, I am stirred to you by song and I can't wait to listen to it by your side.  All my love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vaccines and whatnot.

I had to take the kitties to get their vaccines today. They're both sleeping it off on me right now. Last time they got mad and slept it off out of reach. It made me glad I'm done being vaccinated. And that at the times when I do get shots, like when I go overseas, they don't pull at the skin at the back of my neck and inject there.
In three months they go back to the vet. Not for vaccines this time. (It rhymes with tutor. Yeah.) Which makes me glad I'm not a cat.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Once Upon a Thursday

Yesterday was one of those work-from-home-in-my-pajamas-until-three kind of days. These days are few and far between, but when one comes along, I've found its best not to fight it. One of the perks of living alone and working from home is that when its after lunchtime and my personal care routine stopped just after my teeth were brushed, no one has to know.
Thus, when a knock sounded on my door at ten a.m. I considered not answering. I mean, I'd hate to be responsible for inflicting PTSD on an innocent UPS man, especially around the holidays. I padded silently up to the door and peered through the peephole, hoping he'd driven away like normal, but it wasn't the brown uniform I saw. It was some fresh-faced kid.
Now I'm going to scar one of my neighbor's cousin's for life. And when the paramedics show up to cart of his catatonic body, it'll be the same scenario, and next thing you know, I'll have a pile of unresponsive victims on my Welcome mat.
I thought again about not answering, but I was pretty sure the kid had seen my eyeball through the little hole. So, after a quick prayer for both of us, I opened it.
The little angel didn't even flinch, God bless him. No, instead he asked if I was Kimberly Buckner, then handed me a red vase brimming with lilies and carnations. It was beautiful. It took me a minute to accept it because its been so long since I've gotten flowers. But he'd said my name, so I took them.
They were a thank you from a friend and totally unexpected. It positively made my day. Nay, my week.
So, I'm grateful to my friend for the lovely bouquet. and to the nice delivery boy for his stoicism in the face of terror. I'm also grateful to God for so many things, including the brilliant idea of making flowers just to be pretty and smell pretty.  All my love.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I have given up on teaching my cats to ignore the shiny ornaments on the Christmas tree, perfect for batting and rolling. I have given up on teaching them that the little computer table really needs to stay upright if possible and that tablecloths are for draping, not for pulling loose to use in a mad game of hide and seek.
One thing I have not given up on is teaching them that counters are no place for animals. Here I will take my stand.  Buckley is pretty easy to dissuade since he's not real big on new experiences anyway. I just clap really loud and say, "no," in a school-marm voice, and he leaps back to the carpet.
Jellybean is different. When I go into clapping school-marm mode with him, he stares at me, like, "well if you can use the counter, why can't I?"
Thus, today he got swiped off. It took me longer to recover from our behavior modification lesson than him. I felt kinda bad and fought the urge to sit him down and explain all the reasons why cats and counters don't mix and that his ejection hurt me more than him. While I worried about my cat-rearing skills, he landed on his feet,  lay down and started licking himself. I chose not to interpret that as a message. Before ten minutes had passed, we were on good terms again and he was no longer pursuing access routes to the counter top.
I read Psalm 74 earlier this week. In it, the composer, Asaph, bemoans the plunder of Israel, asks God how long he'll let his own sheep suffer. He even refers to himself as God's dove. As in, "Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts..."
His dove.
The OT is full of Israel running from God, facing the consequences, then running back. God is forever accepting them again until their next episode. And not because he has to. And not resentfully.
These are his doves. His beloved.
As am I. As are we.
I don't even realize it sometimes, but I can slip into a valley where I see God with his arms crossed, white beard twitching as he shakes his head at me. When I climb the counter and get knocked off, he points and judges and hopes I won't be dumb enough to fail again.
But that is so not the God who calls me His dove. I think it truly does hurt him more than me when I fall. He aches when I land and wants to hold me close. And tomorrow if I climb again and fall again, he'll still ache. He won't put me in a cardboard box on the front stoop with and write, "Free Kimberlys" on the front. No, He'll put the ornaments I knock free back, and nurture me until I learn, and even if I don't.
The best part of this whole analogy is how ridiculous it is. 
While I may be something like a found barn cat, I am NOTHING like God. All my goodness is a smudge in comparison.
I do love my kittens. I love it when they curl up with me, when they look at me and meow like I might interpret what that means, when they fight over who gets to sit in the Christmas basket. I am glad to pay crazy sums for these free cats at the vet, and to haul them to Oklahoma on holidays.
And all that is just silliness when compared to how God loves us. His love is so big it would blow my head apart if the thought ever really fully entered in. So big that He did insane things like create cats and fir trees and smart people who invented the two-hour fire log. So big that He sent his only Son  to be born and to live on this planet.
Even when I fail, even in the moments when I deserve to be punished, even when that happens....I am his dove. Wow. Today, grateful doesn't begin to cover it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Call me Frazier...the Fir. Get it? Frazier fir?

Nothing completes the holidays like the fresh scent of a fir wafting through the living room. Except perhaps white lights and shiny red globes dripping off that same fir.
My Christmas tree is twinkling merrily by the window and except for the ornaments my cats have knocked loose, it's absolutely coated in Christmas cheer.
Now, I'm not a woodsman. I'm not even a gardener. I have a condition known as  brown thumb. This affliction is characterized by the uncanny ability to forget to water anything that can't make noise. So, if it were up to me to go out into the Ozarks, scrounge up a five to six foot tree, and chop it down....well, my holidays would probably revolve around the decoration of a coffee table. However, thanks to Home Depot, Frazier the fir is all but singing carols and the season is in full swing.
I have heard several fables about the origins of the Christmas tree tradition. I am not sure which is accurate, but to be frank, I don't much care. I am just grateful for whoever it was that said, "You know what would make this Christmas more festive? If we cut down a tree and brought it inside. I know, I know, lets put stuff on it, too."
I don't know that this tradition has any religious significance. Jesus was born in a stable in the desert and not in December. But for me, it is a visual reminder of the loveliness of that time when God came. God, the original gardener, who made a rich and abundant creation to give his people a glimpse of how glorious he is. It is a picture of extravagant beauty, like the angels who set the sky ablaze with light and song when Christ breathed his first. It smells fresh, that earthy smell of life, like the sense in your soul when the Holy Spirit blows a fresh wind through you. And it glows warm, like the heart of God toward His Son on earth and all who would follow Him, like the heart of Mary to her baby, like my own heart toward the Christ who braved this world like the rest of us, all for the sake of his mighty love.
So, tonight I'm grateful most of all for Jesus and the greatest coup ever. It still stuns me that the Almighty would risk birth and childhood and all so he might share life with us. I'm grateful to my friend Ann and my sister who helped make this tree glow with holiday spirit. I'm grateful for the folks way back who started the tree tradition, and for the good folks at Home Depot who lined up the five-to-six foot trees in a neat bin and spared me from decorating a coffee table.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

50,238 words!

Yes, that's right. I've successfully made National Novel Writing Month my...well, I've blown the 50,000 word goal out of the water by a massive 238 words.
And the best part, this story--which isn't much past the half way point of the end novel--is still chugging along. There's a phenomenon called the sagging middle that writers must battle. No, it's not the physical result of too much time sitting still and eating brain food. It's where you get past the start of the book and you know where you want to end, but in between you sort of wander...slowly.
I'm happy to say that this story is firm as Fabio's airbrushed abs. I'm still in it, still loving it, still finding new problems and complications and weather patterns to hurl mercilessly at the characters. (This is a good thing.)
So, since I have never written an acknowledgments page, and won't for some time yet, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank God, the original storyteller, for sharing with us the part of himself that is creative, for this story in particular, for the time to write it, and for understanding family and friends who listen patiently when I ramble and don't get mad when I peace out to go write. Also, I'm thankful for Susan May Warren and her mad skills, who taught me how to write a taught, six-pack story. Also, to my brainstorm friends, Andrea Nell and Julia Matuska who helped me conjure fresh and really intense challenges that my poor characters must face. I could also thank the characters themselves, I suppose, for being brave and bold and soldiering on through challenges that rock them to their cores. I could, but I won't, because that would be weird....ahem.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

While I was out of town for Thanksgiving, winter showed up in Little Rock. I got home last night and turned the heater up to a comfortable 72. I live in a space roughly the size of a bread box, and the air system sounds like a giant humming when it runs. And still, it takes hours to get the temperature to go from 64 up to comfortable. Last night I was sitting in my red chair writing and the A/C was humming away, when a frosty silence fell upon the bread box.
I went to investigate, and the thermostat said, "Lo Bat," which, when translated, means, "It's about to get chilly up in here."
If I were a thermostat, I would give someone about twelve hours of notice before I quit my job. Me and my thermostat don't see eye to eye on this.
I woke up this morning with icicles on my lashes and two cat-pops on the bed. Okay, the cats didn't seem to notice, but my limbs felt like they'd been shot through with frozen rebar. The only part of me not immobilized was my snot glands.
Guzzling hot coffee and a scarf took the edge off, but it wasn't until after a Kroger run for double A's and those fire starter logs that things started to get good again.
As I thawed, with a cozy little blaze in the grate and the A/C giant humming a contented tune, I realized how glad I am to live in the era of central heating and air. If God had called me to live in a time or place where such luxuries weren't available, life would still be good, God would still be love, and I would still have gobs of things to be grateful for. But, today I'm so thankful for this in particular.
Thank you God for starter logs and the brilliant people who formulated them, for  hot coffee, sweatshirts, and most of all for central heat.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The last slice

It's a holiday weekend and I'm celebrating with the fam. You know it's going to be a good day when you have key lime pie for breakfast. I'm grateful for leftovers and that I beat grandma to the pie tin.

Monday, November 21, 2011

OKC in da hizouse

Tomorrow I get to work from home in OKC. I'm grateful for this for a number of reasons.
1) I've just snuck some nanowrimo words in under the line,thus I'm getting to bed late and I don't have to get up in time to do my hair.
2) I will wake up in a house where I'm not the only non-cat resident, so when I chit chat while I have my morning coffee, someone will respond.
3) I GET TO SEE MY FAMILY! Including my sister who has been overseas for 11 months. We've emailed and even Skyped but I've missed that third dimension.

So, thank you Jesus for family, for morning coffee time, and for hugs. And thank you for a job that can be so wonderfully flexible!!!  All my love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For the Love of Outerwear

I have this wool scarf that is pink and red striped, like a cinnamon candy cane. It's from the Gap and it's about ten years old.
I love it.
When I twined it around my neck this morning it didn't just keep me snug from the fall air, it made me feel snug on the inside, too. You see, this scarf and I had a moment ten years ago.
We've all been there, when you see something you just love from across a crowded room, or shopping mall, as the case may be. You're drawn close as if by some accident of gravity, and then comes that first touch. Hand on wool. It's the perfect width, you learn, to wrap your neck. It won't leave you exposed and it won't try to smother you, covering your mouth and nose. It's even two of your favorite colors. You'd given up on finding that.
Your needs, wants, and even desires you didn't know you had, all in one place.
And then you hold it close, look at the tag and...agony among agonies, it's too much. Sure, it seemed too good to be true. Because it was. Now you've gotten involved, felt the warmth of the perfect scarf, the way it molds to you, makes your whole countenance brighter--and your neck warmer--and you have to let go.
Why, oh why?
If only you'd never seen it. If only you'd peered in the Banana window instead of Gap. But now, every time you pass, your eyes will catch the cheerful colors and you'll remember. Your neck will feel the phantom warmth, and your soul will get cold.
Christmas shopping is a bittersweet mission now. You know while you're looking for the perfect set of moose slippers for your brother you'll see the scarf.  But that's nothing compared to the chill of seeing it pass by, coiled around the neck of another.
Then, after you've resigned yourself to a life a little frostier than you'd wish, a friend hands you a Christmas present.
A picture frame? Too light. A gift card to Starbucks? Too big.What, then?
And as the paper peels back and a navy Gap box appears, your heart accelerates. No. It couldn't be.
The top slides back and there, nestled in pristine white paper is the perfect combination of red and pink wool. It's more lovely than you remembered and it's yours. All yours.
You pull it free, loop it around your neck and it's like the separation never happened. As if the scarf knew too, that it was meant to be with you.
That was this scarf for me. It represents Christmas presents, favorite colors, generous friends, and happy endings. And I'm grateful for all of those things in one lovely package.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It is officially halfway through National Write a Novel Month and I'm meeting my goal! Twenty-five thousand eleven words of story. In fifteen days.

Thank you Jesus for inspiration, motivation, Starbucks, peppermint tea, and laptops. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


This weekend my lovely small group girls and I talked about the woman in Mark 5 who had been bleeding for twelve years before she approached Jesus. We were trying to get into her sandals, see what that whole experience would have been like. We talked about living a life if we were considered unclean, to have intense pain and spend all our money fixing it, yet continue to bleed.
It was kind of tough because for some of them, twelve years is their entire life. For me, not so much, but still. And also because in our day and age and in this set of girls, health is usually a given.
But as God would have it, that same day I was reminded of a relevant parallel. Though we may not bleed physically, there are times when we feel like our hearts are bleeding out. Things beyond my control have speared me and though I brace my hands across the wound, the blood of my soul wells between my fingers and drips into a wasted stain on the floor.
Though its probably not quite as icky as an actual trail of blood, it is still off-putting. No one wants to touch messy emotions, they might smear. It's not worth the risk of having someone else's grief stain their happiness. So not only do we stagger about in pain, but often in silence, too, in case those around would back away, lip curled, from the unclean woman.
But not always.
I am so blessed to have in my life people who will pull away my hands, examine the damage, and draw me toward the Healer. And He, through their loving hands, bandages that wound. Though it is not always--heck, not even often--a miraculous about-face in emotional well-being, it is hope nonetheless.
Thank you Jesus for the hearts you have shown me, for the comfort and hope and love you have poured into your people, and the generosity they show by pouring it out on others. May I be your bandaging hands to others. All my love

PS As it turns out I used all the welling emotion to pour into my nano piece, so it wasn't even wasted. I will take the anology no further because it could turn creepy really fast, but thank you, Jesus, for turning pain into positives, and sadness into plot.  All my love, still.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I just had to clean a litter box, which reminded me how truly grateful I am for indoor plumbing.

I just nanowrimo-ed for a few hours, so this is all the words I have to spare today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Side Effects

Its the start of week 2 of Nanowrimo. The words are adding up day by day, the story is emerging, and the characters are evolving. It's amazing and challenging and fun.
And super hard work.
Which makes me think of all the other work I need to do. Like dishes, laundry, and as a responsible pet owner its my duty to love on my pets. When all that is done, I'm ready. But wait, no. There's something else that needs to be done. I'm sure of it.
Ah, yes. That gym membership I have. I've been meaning to use it.
There is a possibility, slight though it may be, that I procrastinate. But, as a result I've done more running in the last week than I did in the prior month combined. I won't say I love running because that would be a falsehood. But, I do love that feeling you get when you finish. Like you can do anything. Like the world is your treadmill and you can take at any speed you like. It definitely gives me more oomph for writing.
I'm pretty sure the movement helps me process, too. So, while my muscles gets stretched and strengthened, my mind gets a creative work out. It makes me remember why I bought the membership in the first place--fitness feels good.
Today I'm grateful for the gym and endorphins, for my story, and for the strange connection between mind and body so that I can justify my time working out as brainstorming.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

5,055 lively words

I fell a little bit in love today. It's the third day of National Write a Novel Month, or Nanowrimo. This means I and all my other story-o-philes who are taking the challenge will bust out at least 50,000 words of a story before December first. 
Um, can you say daunting?
It didn't help that day one was, oh, laborious. On day one,my head was trying to squeeze a large quantity of words out and it just wasn't coming. I got a head cramp. I had to push and push and push, and finally a messy blob emerged. I've never actually given birth, but I imagine this is the mental equivalent of it. I still had a headache when I woke up on day 2.
What have I done, I thought? I've overthought the story. My plot is dead. My characters refuse to speak to me. I know there's a golden story in there, but I can't have it!
What followed was some wallowing, some gnashing of teeth, and a whole lot of prayer. I talked to God and I got all my peeps to talk to God on my behalf.
And then it happened. God, the Resurrector, breathed life into it. I sat down on Day 2 and words came. Good ones! And today, more words!
More than that, I lived the scene with my characters. I saw them, heard them, felt with them. I developed a little crush on the hero.
I'm grateful for story, for words, and for a God who is the Resurrection and the life, both for me, and for our story.

PS I'm about to eat a pizza with seven cloves over garlic on it. Okay, maybe only six. But either way, I'm glad that I'm not going to see anyone until tomorrow, or God might have another body on his hand to reanimate.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What is she doing here?

I lead a small group of incredibly awesome 7th grade girls-- shout out to the Lil' Yaks! (long story on the name...) Last week we talked about Mary of Bethany.  To prepare I used Logos to read the passage through, looked at a commentary, and then looked at the passage in the original Greek translated word by word--shout out to Logos! 
I just adore this passage.  Here you have a woman who's robe was probably low cut. She shows up at a house of the spiritual and social leader on the night of a dinner. The house is full of important dudes in big hats. Their wives probably were there in a separate part of the house passing around stories of her sins as she walked by. Mary's heart is pounding, I bet. She makes eye contact with no one as she works her way through the crowd. It was probably pretty easy, since none of them wanted to touch her, well, in public anyway.
Then she sees Him. The first man who's ever looked her in the eye. Who doesn't glower and leer depending on who else is around. Who looks on her with a pure love and isn't ashamed to be caught smiling at this "sinner." The first man who wants only her soul, but oh how he treasures that. He sees loveliness her her personhood.
And that is worth anything. How do you tell someone how much they mean to you? You give them your best. All men have wanted is access to her body parts. All this man wants is for her to sanctify them before God, to honor Him by keeping herself only unto her Lord. Pure. To be the woman He sees in her. So what do you give him? How do you show that you're madly in love in the most righteous sense possible? That you understand that things are not "sinful" or "righteous," but the way they are used is?
You take something used in your trade, the perfume you wore to lure men, and you offer it for a holy purpose. You give it all up for him. To him.
It's no wonder she started to, as the Greek word says, "rain" tears on Jesus' feet. For the first time since she was little, perhaps, her soul is coming up for air. It's a beautiful image.
And, if I'm honest, an awkward one.
The raw intimacy of it all is astounding. How on earth did she do it? I mean I don't like to cry in public. I close my eyes to worship so I won't consider what others think about my raised hands. I've thought about kneeling in service, but people might stare. And here we find Mary, hunched over the feet of Jesus as He eats, surrounded by people who openly disdain her, and she's raining on him, tears and kisses, wiping his feet with her hair and pouring the whole bottle of scent, perhaps one familiar to some in attendance, over his feet.
I think she didn't see them. The others, I mean. I think she hurried past them until she found Jesus and then....ah, then He was all she saw. Jesus was her focus and the rest were lost in a blur of tears. The two of them there, in the middle of a room, showing each other pure and boundless love.
Mary, in her emotional, expressive response, is honoring her Lord and declaring her faith.
There is often a debate over the truest form of worship--is it emotional or intellectual. I think we all agree it has elements of both, but perhaps the truest form of worship isn't the same for all people. For the centurion who came, faith was demonstrated in his trusting of Jesus to heal without being present. For Peter, it was the knowledge and a willingness to say, "You are the Christ." And for Mary, it was an act born of an overwhelming emotion too big for words. So big it needed to be physically expressed.
I just love that.
I love that our God who made us knows that our hearts beat differently, and thus respond differently to Him. I love that He is too big for one form of worship. I love that He finds glory in the awkward, the mundane, the bold. My God, my dear Lord, oh my heart stirs for you. Give me that moment when you and I love and the world fades away. I so want more of you.  All my love.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

They have what?

I took my two kittens to the vet today for a matching set of runny eyes. I'm thinking pink eye of the feline variety.
Herpes. Of the feline variety.
I'm thankful today that kitties diseases are not communicable to people.
Very, very, thankful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Merry Fall

You know how one day you wake up and realize fall is here? Today was that day.  I spotted a cluster of trees wearing the festive red and gold of the season, and behind the drizzle, the air held that unique depth, that crispness you can feel clear to you lungs. It's like breathing air that was just born.
Unfortunately I was running late so I didn't have time to fully celebrate the change of season, but it turned out okay, because for lunch I had (drumrolll.....) soup! Potato soup, no less.  Does it get any more fall than potato soup? It was like the welcoming ceremony for a new season. 
Now, my favorite season of all is Christmas season, but since fall is neighbors with Christmas season, it's pretty nice too. Nothing beats tugging on hat and winding a scarf around your neck, a travel mug in one gloved hand. Except maybe a glass of red in front of a starter log fire while buried under a down blanket with a fresh novel.
And, soup.
So, today I'm grateful for fall.  Thank you, Jesus, that you made this lovely earth, and that you made seasons. Thank you for the example of frail leaves, an image of what it means to have a temporary life that gets prettier through all it's stages. Thank you for the way you make air taste so good this time of year, for the sensation of being cozy, and of course, for soup.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tara and the Victor's Auto Body crew

I was driving along in Fort Smith yesterday. The fog was thicker than peanut butter. The road was twisty, and the part of town...well there was nary a picket fence in view. All of a sudden, a tall, vicious curb jumped out in front of me and took a huge bite out of my wheel.  That's right, not tire, wheel. We hit HARD.
I will admit, I was freaked. This hadn't happened before. Exclamation points chased single, incoherent words across my brain. I jumped from the running car and ran around the front and stared at the carnage. Dirk's poor defenseless front right wheel had been torn from its hinges by that horrid curb.
I'm pretty sure my eyes were as big as his three remaining good tires and I probably looked pretty scary--the kind of person you see and decide maybe you want to cross the street and walk on the other side.
But nobody did. In fact, a lady named Tara crossed the street to come and check on me. A whole group of men working at the nearby body shop ran over and helped me try and push it out of the road, then hovered in respect for the tragedy when we realized Dirk the Blue Impala was too hurt to even limp to safety.
He is a fleet car, so I was able to call emergency roadside and release my sympathetic mourners from the vigil.
They double-checked that I was okay, then made their way off.
And still, people stopped to check on me. Yes, there was the requisite gawkers, who drove past slowly, eyes wide, glad it wasn't them. But a lot of people stopped to check on me, offered to help, verified that I had someone on the way. More than one even offered a tow (people drive big trucks, so this is feasible.)
Tara, one of the original mourners, stayed with me quite some time. She told me just to pray. And then she told me my car was in really bad shape.
But the first part was so great. Of course. Pray. Why hadn't I thought of that? So as I paced tight circles, called people, and stared at Dirk's ugly wound, I prayed.
And of all of those activities it was the only one that helped.
I think some time around 10 this morning I finally evened out. Dirk will be fine. I'm pretty sure he'll forgive me some day. And I wasn't hurt. There's a warrant out for the arrest of that awful curb...okay, so there's not, but vengeance is the Lord's and all.
In the end, I was so grateful for the kind souls who stopped to check on a bewildered lady in sensible shoes pacing along a sketchy road. It was balm to my wound up soul to realize that while I was by myself, I was not alone. And especially when Tara, my sister in Christ, reminded me that not only did I have the friendly Fort Smithians nearby, I had my Lord as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Four thousand years

I sometimes go to Oklahoma for work, which is awesome.
Yes, you read that correctly.
While I do think the state gets a bad rap, the reason I enjoy visiting has nothing to do with the tornado-swept plains, and everything to do with my family members who live there, including my favorite grandparents.
My grandpa gives me Starbucks mugs and my grandma gives me flattery. I'm not sure which is more appreciated.
This morning before I left, Grandma invited me to join them for the Association of Retired Ministers and Missionaries breakfast. I envisioned myself joining a line of octogenarians waiting for their scoop of bulk prepared egg product. I can't say I was particularly looking forward to it, but I said sure, because I know she enjoys the chance to show off her family.
Well, we arrived a tad late and joined a line of octogenarians waiting for eggs.  But, there was also fruit, smoked bacon, and the eggs were crazy good. Huh. But that wasn't the coolest part.
I made a little small talk with the table, and they were all super nice. But that wasn't the coolest part, either.
Then, the master of ceremonies got up and thanked the musical guest and the breakfast sponsor, and said, "There are over four thousand years of service represented in this room."
I almost choked on my eggs. Four thousand years. That's a lot of service. I mean, Jesus only ascended two thousand years ago, so that room could get us to His birth and back.
Wow.  That was pretty cool.
But the best part of all was when, after we'd eaten and the prayer concerns had been read aloud, and a missionary woman in her seventies had read from the word, when a guy named Carl quietly got to his feet and shuffled to the lectern. We all stood too, then quiet Carl opened his mouth and cried out to Heaven.  Around me, voices echoed His praises and requests. Passion for the Most High was stirred, and God was glorified, and His presence, so abundantly present in those hearts, flooded the place. 
I realized as I felt the touch of God on my heart more fervently than I have in a while, that I was blessed to be standing among God's elite. His A-team. These are the varsity players, with years and years of hardcore experience and training and winning. These are the inner circle. People who've got over fifty years of knowing my God and serving with Him. And I got to join in as they talked to Him. I got to raise my voice in the Lord's Prayer with them. I got to add my droplet of passion and experience to their river of love, and experience the deluge of the Lord's response.
That, my friends, was the coolest part.
I admit that the past week and a half has been a bit of a personal drought. And this morning, it rained.
One of the most beautiful parts was that for these faithful servants, this was just another Wednesday morning.
My Jesus, I love you. I love your goodness and grace and faithfulness. Thank you for the chance to see you reflected in the lovely hearts of these, your Dear Ones. May I grow as close to you.  All my meager love.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Buckley and Jellybean

Meet Buckley (left) and Jellybean (right). These are my two new kitties.  I meant to get one (Jellybean, but I'll deny it if Buckley ever asks), but they'd been attacked by dogs and Buckley lost three toes. How do you say no to a kitten who lost three toes in a dog attack?
Plus, I don't travel a ton, but when I do it will be nice for the brothers to be together so they don't get lonely.
How I happened to come into ownership of two cats is a twisty tale but it includes a thought of "someday..." on my part, a story of evil dogs and defenseless kittens on the part of my friend, and the sheer adorableness of Buckley and Jellybean themselves.
All things considered, I'm thrilled to bits.  And thankful. For a God who made domesticatable animals, for the fact that animals start out small and thus infinitely cute no matter how many toes, and for friends who will be loving to them when I'm out of town so I don't have to feel like a bad pet owner.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dirk gets fresh

Recently when I arrived at the office, Dirk the Blue Impala was pulling in next to a red Tacoma. Dirk took a liking to it and thought he'd give it a little, um, kiss.
On the wheel well. 
Unfortunately, his attentions were not well received and both vehicles lost a little paint in the ensuing scuffle.
Since Dirk was at fault, we had to make right with the red Tacoma. And Dirk himself spend a week healing at a body shop.
Aside from the fact that I got to spend a week in the pleasurable company of Charlie the Charger, a fringe benefit to Dirk's little encounter was that, for the what may be the first time this calendar year, Dirk got a bath.
That's right. The body shop got a dusty, scraped up Impala, and sent home a sparkling, scrape-free Impala. I'd forgotten that his paint sparkles when its clean.
So, while I'm not pleased that Dirk was in a curfuffle, it's ended up quite nicely.
It's kind of like how God takes the ugly in our lives, and when we surrender that to Him, He can bring about blessings that wouldn't have otherwise bloomed.  Would it have been better for us to avoid sins? Of course! But one of the coolest things about God is that He can take fundamentally wrong things and even through them bring about His glory and our good. It's not natural. It's supernatural.
Thank you, God, for how you take the ugly and draw from it beautiful. Thank you for Dirk and that he's well and clean, and for Charlie and the lovely week we spent cruising the Arkansan countryside.
All my love.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Friends for rent

For a storylover like me, books are like friends, stuffed chock full of good memories and an intense emotional connection. So, its really hard for me to be content to borrow books.  I want to dog-ear the pages, read in bed, and then tuck them in a shelf where I can see them when I pass and remember, "Oh, yeah. Those were good times."
But, for a storylover like me, the whole thing can get a little pricey, Amazon notwithstanding.  Especially when I'm hitting a road trip and need a book on CD.
Enter public library.
So much fun!  I love free things, especially when there's lost of choices. And since CDs don't dog-ear very well and those plastic cases rarely evoke the same nostalgia as a paper book, I don't feel like I'm missing out. It's like when you go to dinner with a friend and their friend  from college who is visiting for the weekend. You enjoy them and have a good chat, and then you say goodbye and that's that.
So, today I'm grateful for the library and the book on CD I'll be listening to on my way to Hope tomorrow. And for real live friends too.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Peanut take a leap

My name is Kimberly. Not Kim, Kimberly.  Most people I know get this and don't abbreviate. And if someone slips up, I don't go all Irish-temper on them, I just suck it up.  Even if a little part of me dies. Ahem.
But there is one person who always mispronounces my name and I LOVE it.  It must be noted she doesn't call me Kim, and though I haven't asked her to spell it, I would think if she did it would be something like Kemerlee.  But when my niece comes flying at the door because she saw me through the window shouting, "Kemerlee!  Kemerlee!" at the top of her tiny lungs, well, I'm ready to officially change my name.
This is Peanut during my recent visit when we watched Angelina Ballerina and then she performed a highly technical solo involving much twirling and soccer-kicks (new to the dance world, they look like they sound).

In a world where performance is rewarded, and rightly so, it's nice to have someone in your life who doesn't care if you're hair looks nice, if you are the smartest cookie in the whole Oreo box, if your love for coffee might have toed across the line toward an addiction....she just comes tearing across the living room and hurls herself into your arms because she wants to be close to you. And if it were possible to love her any more, in that moment you would just explode with all the warm sweet affection in the world.
Those moments always make me wonder at how vast is God's love for us. I mean, its hard for me to comprehend a love more vibrant than I have for Peanut, and she's my niece, not even my own offspring, and I'm most definitely not perfect.  So that means God's love for me, His baby girl, must be even more thick and bright than my love for her.  Kind of makes me want to tear across the room, arms extended and launch myself at Him.
Thank you, Jesus, for your perfect love, and that although I will never fully comprehend it's vastness, you give me new and fresh glimpses of it and of You, in the sunset, in a song, and in the precious weight of Peanut in my arms. And thank you for spell check since I am incapable of spelling niece right.  All my love!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A case of the Heavies

Do you ever have those days when it seems like the world keeps sitting on your head, and by sundown you're a few inches shorter?
Me too. Yesterday was not the finest of my professional life.  It certainly wasn't the worst, but it was difficult.  And there was a personal element of challenge as well.
And I didn't have any chocolate ice cream nearby to share the burden with. Just a bottle of water. Water is not a good way to drown sorrows, just so you know. 
So, since I couldn't bury my troubles under a pint of Phish Food, I took them to Jesus. Its not an original concept and yet somehow it always seems novel when I get to the point of truly casting my cares upon His big ol' shoulders. I know God loves me. I know He's really the only One with the power to do much about a lot of what concerns me, and yet still I have this fear that my cares will slide down His broad back and get dumped somewhere and no one will be tending them. Then where would I be?
So yesterday, I chugged some water, grimaced, then heaped my cares on Jesus.  He took them and in return gave me peace. Not the overwhelming, "I've officially solved your problems as," kind of peace, but the "I've got this, dear. Trust me," kind.
About twenty minutes later I began to worry my cares had fallen and I should go collect them. So I went back to Jesus and there they were, still propped on his shoulder, as He and I cruised with Dirk the Blue Impala through Oklahoma. And since we were on the road, it didn't take long before I had nothing better to do than try and collect worries.  But, when I checked yet again, Jesus still had them. He gave me more peace and He didn't roll his eyes or say, "Geesh, I created the known and unknown universe. I can handle your piddly career, already, not to mention the rest of your junk. Back. Off." Or,  "You want your worries so badly? You take them, then. See if they make better company on your drive. I'll meet you in Stillwater." No, he just reassured me and we kept on driving.
Which made me realize this morning how grateful I am that Jesus is patient.  I mean, He is awesome in countless ways. I will never fully get it on this planet because there's just too much about Him to glorify, and that thought itself is stirring.
But even on the days when I don't give Him credit for all that I know Him to be, on the days when doubts creep in, or when worry tries to become my master, even then He is patient, gentle, and with me. Thank you, Oh Lord for your graciousness. For your strong shoulders and your willingness to take on them the burdens that bend my spine. Thank you for doing so out of love. Not obligation, not pity, but your patient, endless love for me. Your grace astounds.  All my love.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Things I learned in Colorado, Part II

Tada!  The second ever picture on my blog!  This is Alberta Falls in the Rocky Mountain National Park, one of a number of lovely waterfalls we found on a grueling ten mile hike while trying to breathe air that  was so thin even the oxygen fell out of it. But it was worth it to see the lovely falls. It really was. I keep telling myself so.

When I was very young and lived in Oregon, I thought waterfalls were as common as apple trees, but as soon as we moved I realized how special the unique beauty they offered truly is.  First you hear the rumble, then the roar. It's a natural sound of power, similar to wind tossing about in mighty trees. Then you come upon it. Rocks have fallen in the water's path, immovable obstacles. The very foundations of the earth. But the water will not be stopped. It surges over and around the boulders, seething with the effort, rising when necessary. Though it may falter, it will find a way. Water, the very stuff we rely upon, that we bathe our infants in, exerts its might.

And over time, the sharp edges of the rocks begin to dull. Some may tumble away, some never will, but still the water flows. And when it has passed the drop, moved over the boulders, it collects, crystal clear and ice cold in a pool as still and silent as the trees that watch over it. 

The image struck me as a physical example of what love is in this world.  It is not always well received. It often faces immovable barriers. Hate and terrorism may not listen, and they may strike with a violence that is sharp and heavy. But over time, love will win.  It cannot be stopped, it cannot be smothered. And it is, in it's quiet persistence, the most powerful force on earth.

My Lord, I love you. I love that you're love. And I love that although the ugly in this world may strike with the speed of hateful vengeance, your love is stronger and your love wins. Thank you for the beauty you put in this earth to remind us of you. Wash me in your love, oh my Dearest. All my heart, all my self, is yours.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Things I learned in Colorado, Part I

In Colorado, the Arkansas river runs cold. Much colder than it runs in Arkansas. But I hardly noticed as we careened over the frothy swells of white water and around the glossy heads of boulders that jutted above the surface.  I was too busy listening for Ryan, our instructor to yell, "Forward two! Forward two!"
The all-day whitewater rafting trip started with a safety talk.  We all snugged our yellow helmets on our heads, had a professionally trained rafter tighten the straps on our life vests, and climbed aboard an out-to-pasture school bus where a guy with spacers in his ears told us what to do in the worst case scenarios.  It's a good thing they don't have that talk until the bus is moving...
One of the most important things he said was that if you see a rock wall approaching and your guide says paddle, do it.  If you lean in and away from the obstacle, you will hit it and maybe fall out. If you don't want that to happen, you have to dig in and paddle hard.
Easy enough, right?
A few hours later, we'd worked our way through a couple rapids and I'd started to notice something.  When you look at the river ahead, your mind processes which way you think the water will push you.  You plot the course in your head and prepare for the swells and dips it will involve. You're ready for that ride.
Only, that's not what happens.  Because behind you is a raftmaster with a rudder paddle who influences the path.  When you think the boat will go straight, it moves sideways. When you think it will hit, it evades. 
And sometimes, when you think the water should push you forward, it guides you gracefully toward a jagged rock wall.  The shadows eat you first, and the gorge looms and you know you're about to get a nasty bump.  It would make sense to brace for it.
But then, Ryan yells, "Forward two!" And you have a choice.  Either duck, or wedge your paddle in the narrow three-foot gap that separates you and that jagged wall and pull for all you're worth.
I pulled hard. Then again.  It didn't make sense.  The way the boat was pointed, I might well be hurrying us toward a rocky end. The woman in front obviously thought so as she braced her paddle like a jousting stick and tried to push us off the rock. It didn't work.
But then, just as I was about to close my eyes and rehearse what I would say to the EMTs to ensure I was taken to an in-network hospital,  the boat darted forward with a graceful ease, away from the wall and toward the center of the river, now crystal clear and sparkling with sunlight.
Even then I saw the parallel. In life, we let God steer, but we think we know the path we're on. We see some bumps, anticipate others based on the way things flow, and brace ourselves.  But then, the path we saw gets lost in the rapids.  We're moving in ways we never anticipated.  Thrilling ways. Sometimes dangerous ways.  And every once in a while, this new path hurtles us toward a rock wall.
It doesn't make sense. I've followed God. I've gone where he's called me.  Okay, mostly.  But still, when he said row, I rowed and now I'm about to become a smudge on the side of a gorge.  Then he calls out to row and hard.  Really, God? Are you trying to send me headlong into a rock face?  I have a choice. I can do it, I can row and know that if I go out it will be in a blaze of His glory, or He might save me. Or I can try and shove the wall away. I can deny it, I can run for it, I could even jump from the boat if I wanted and float the rest of the way in my trusty life jacket and helmet. 
If I base my decision on what I can see, that might be the wisest course.  But I can't see the One steering. I don't know what He's doing to direct this course, only what He's asking me to do. There's no time for Him to explain what actions he's taking and how they will impact the position of the boat. I can trust...or not.
And the times when I trust, when I dig in and use my whole core to move forward in the direction I'm told, those times are always a precious.  They are sometimes scary as all get out, but they are best.
Thank you, Lord, that you are always with me. Even in gorges, when rocky walls loom, you are there. You see what I can't, you know what I never will, you love me like I can't hardly believe. Your call is ever for your glory, and in that I find the hugest blessing ever. You never try to pitch me from the boat, you want to ride it with me. And thank you that even when I panic, you are with me. When I fail, you are gracious.  Give me the courage to row hard wherever you point me. I trust you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Uncommon Grace

You might be a clutz if you trip over the carpet. The industrial flat kind.
You might be a clutz if you get bruises and don't recall where they came from.
If you occasionally run into doorframes, you might be a clutz.
You might be a clutz if you have poured your own water in your lap because you tip the glass too early.
And if you automatically extend your arms for balance every time you walk down a hill.
You might be a clutz if the combination of tile floors and high heels cause you to chant Psalm 121.
And lastly, (drumroll) you might be a clutz if your name is Kimberly Buckner!
It's true. I have done every one of those things. I have very little natural grace. I have cultured the amount I do have, which usually lasts for a finite period before I trip over...nothing. I can be poised, but that requires a combination of great focus and attention to the placement of my appendages to ensure none of them goes flying into a wall or object or other person. And dancing? Let's just say the world is a better place since I rarely bust a move outside of my apartment. Well, except for the occasional dance party in Dirk the Blue Impala.
And, it may be my very lack of grace that makes me appreciate it so much when I see it in others. One of my favorite shows, So You Think You Can Dance, had their season finale recently. Ten shock-and-awe young talents performed the best dances of a season filled with great dances. I'm telling you, I felt my scalp tingle, my jaw unhinge and a little drool gather in the corner of my lip. I nearly poked my eye out trying to wipe it away. Just kidding...ahem.
I definitely love words. But even the finest crafted combination of words can only go to my heart. And I hate it that, especially in English, I can say I love cheese and I love God. Both are true but in vastly different ways.
But when you take well crafted words and set them to a soul-wrenching melody...then I feel the meaning, feel the depth, feel the emotion that the words convey. And if you add to that two incredible dancers who express through physical movement the effect of those brought tears to my eyes. And I am not not not a cryer.
Man, it made me so grateful that God knew that one medium of expression would never be enough to express the deepest things. And grateful that he made us in such a way that we can experience deep things. I'm grateful for the killer abilities and uncommon grace he's given some dancers and choreographers and musicians and song writers.
And I'm grateful for Hulu.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


My apartment has three rooms total, counting the bathroom. Between those, I had four light bulbs out. For someone who loves to have all the lights on, this is a problem. Today a nice maintenance man came and replaced them! So, I'm currently enjoying twice the foot-candles I was yesterday.
Not long ago, the power went out and I lit a half dozen candles and prayed for God's power to come upon my laptop battery. Being in the dark like that made me realize anew how much I love the light.
The analogy is not complex here. The dark times are hard. They can feel heavy and oppressive. But when a light shines in the darkness, that is something to see. It is the dark moments that make the joy so precious. Some famous person said once that without pain there is no joy.
Today I'm not grateful for the darkness. I am grateful for the light. For the new bulbs that are shining overhead, and for the souls who shine brightly in dark times.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


You know how you learn a word with a simple definition, and then with a new experience, the meaning of that word evolves? For instance, a donut is a round bready thing with sprinkles. And then you have a Krispy Kreme and a donut becomes a warm, crispy-soft bite of sweet joy that melts on your tongue.
Or the ocean is the blue part on the map. Until you go to the beach, and the ocean becomes an entire foreign realm of which we can only know the shallowest bit.
Well, over the past summer, my vocabulary grew in depth like this. Namely, my experiential understanding of the word hot changed. It used to mean pitting out, getting thirsty, and feeling the tingle of heat on your skin. Now, having experienced 114 degrees, it means the feeling of the skin melting off your face, the taste of your own medium-rare tongue, and the sound of sweat boiling the minute it pops up on your forehead.
It's not fun. Hot is a four letter word. Which made this morning so incredibly blessed.
Where I live there are all these big trees and I love it when the wind blows because their long limbs sway and writhe and contort. It makes this heady sound and they look like they're having a good ol' time. It makes me think of a praise service at one of those churches where women still wear hats and hose.
Well, I was sitting here on the couch trying desperately to fight of the glummies and start my day with God in a good spirit. And out of nowhere, the morning sky dimmed and the trees began to undulate in waves. Great gusts of wind whipped through stirring them into a frenzy, carrying individual leaves high into the air like confetti. Thunder ate the sky and the clouds frothed until the sky grew so dark that the trees were vibrant black silhouettes dancing in front of the barest edge of bright blue sky still visible along the horizon.
I stood on my patio and let the wind finger my hair and the leaves gather at my feet as fat drops plonked on the pavement. A charge wove through even the air.
I got hot-cold goosebumps at that moment. I love nature and in it I see me. Us. I saw the trees caught in the wind, their limber arms pushed about but their trunks unbending because they're grounded. I saw the sudden change of circumstances, the clouds that roiled in an instant. The way the promise of blue sky was visible, but just barely. And I felt the raw power in it all.
It probably sounds silly, but I felt God in that. In a moment I saw His massive power. I saw how when I look up and am surrounded by naught but gray, when I am pulled in a hundred directions, and I stretch towards heaven anyway, the storm often brings what I most desperately need. And through it all and above it all, the deep, powerful voice of the Most High--who I call my own. My own!--can be heard if I will listen.
I will not try to describe the effect of that moment other than to say that the glummies lost. It was a beautiful gift. One of many my sweet Lord has offered special to me in a hard moment when they are so treasured.
My God, may I never forget who you are, or who I am to you. I love that you know what I need before and better than I do. I love that you are a God of beauty and symbolism and might and grace and power and gentleness. I love it when we have special moments, when an experience with you deepens my understanding of you. Thank you for this one. All my love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The apple of my eye.

Just to my left, beyond my notes and computer, sits a shiny fuji apple. A portable, refreshing snack. And right now I'm glad for it.
It's one of those days when the apple feels like about the only readily available blessing. I know it's not true, but hey. Sometimes a girl has an "at-least-I-have-an-apple" day.
I owe a lot to the apple...not this one, but the population as whole. Not only was the apple industry responsible for funding my years as a dependent (shoutout to TreeTop - world's best apple juice, and available in your local Starbucks so its cool too) but it also provided a job for me my first summer in college. Have you ever invented a juice flavor, like, oh...Pasionfruit Orange Papaya? I have. It's wicked cool to see your flavor in Costco. Believe it or not, I never would have had that highlight if not for the humble apple.
And now that my salad is gone, this little baseball-sized fruit will make a crunchy treat.
It's also called Nature's toothbrush, so I imagine when I'm finished, my teeth will do that thing like TV characters, when the light glints off my pearly whites in a diamond shape.
I'm not really sure what it means to be the apple of one's eye, but I know it has good connotations. And in Psalms 17:8 among other places God says we're his: Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Note that He chose apple, not the candy bar of his eye. Even if candy bars existed when the Bible was written, I bet he'd still pick apples. They taste good and when I eat one I feel all healthy and empowered. Like I could run a mile if I wanted. A big if right now, but at least I could. You could enjoy three crisp, tart, juicy apples for the calories in a candy bar--makes you think. So as the apple of God's eye, I'm invigorating, and bring joy and sweetness to Him.
Aww, shucks.
So, thank you, God, for apples. Well, for all the fruits, but especially the apple. Amen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baubles, bands, and, uh, bpolish

So, there are certain times when all the aspects of your person cooperate. Hair falls in delicious waves, nails grow strong and crack-free, skin is soft as a baby's tush, eyes sparkle and lips pout. It all
This is not one of those times for me. It's a season of causing babies to cry and dogs to bark.
I'm having a bad hair month, and the rest of me isn't being particularly cooperative either.
It is times like this that I'm so grateful for earrings. Big ones.
So what if I scare myself in the morning? I have these lovely earrings, so just look at those. They hang at least three inches and swing a little. Since the human eye tracks motion they make a great diversion. They're shiny and intricate, pretty without trying.
And my hair...what hair? See this beautiful ribbon headband? Focus on that and ignore the mass of broom straw knotted at the back of my head. That's what I do.
I'm pretty sure the first magician was a woman who thought, "Hey, this misdirection thing is pretty cool. I bet it would work for other stuff, too."
I don't know if anyone consciously thought up the concept of accessories. Probably Eve just picked a flower, stuck it in her hair and waited for Adam to notice and comment. But, however the trend was started, I'm grateful it did.
Thank you, Jesus, for big earrings, headbands, necklaces, and nail polish. And that you aren't repelled, even on the "eek" days.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I had a conversation a few weeks ago with some folks who were trying to tell me about the mother god. According to them, God the Father/Son/Spirit is less Trinity than three names for a unity. And there is a single verse buried in the end of Revelation that refers to the Bride of Christ, only this time it's not the church, its a mother god.
So we had a rousing conversation about various passages in Scripture. I don't think I convinced them that there is one true God and politely declined to attend their Bible study.
It broke my heart. And overflowed it.
It is agonizing to talk with souls and know they're led astray. I don't often have conversations with people of other faiths about what I believe--I share that as a confession. So this interaction, seeing two closed minds and one baffled heart, just tore open a yearning in me to help them see this great and wonderful God we serve.
That's the part that overflowed my heart. I didn't understand how someone could read the Bible, the Bible, and come away so dissatisfied with God that they had to invent another deity just to feel religiously mollified. I think they must not really have ever experienced God at all.
To know God is to be overcome. Overwhelmed. Awed. Wonderstruck. He is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. He is Creator, Physician, Provider, Redeemer.
A God who made man in His image. And when man wasn't content with that and strove to obtain more power, more knowledge, my God let us...and then SAVED us. He takes all the ugly that evil would smear across His children and from that, He draws glory.
That is unnatural. That is supernatural.
That is too big for a finite mind to contain.
Talking with people who are so woefully blind to God that they must invent new beings...I yearn for them to see Him. Really see Him.
And I yearn for the same thing for myself. Even though I know my Lord and He is dear to me, how often do I quit seeing Him? How often is His infinite glory just "not enough?" How often do I put idols of pleasure or distraction, or even my pitiful self in front of Him?
My God, I am reminded of you. I see you. I long for you. Thank you for stirring my heart, for letting me know you, for hearing me and letting me hear you. For using this wee little life for your glory. Oh, Lord, let me not squander it. Draw me near to you. Thank you for the wake up call. Please draw the three hearts who came to my house to you. And may I long for you more tomorrow than ever before.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Size Matters

My mom called and I was telling her about my intruder. Well, intruders. I hate it when you come home and find some miscreant scampering through your apartment, hundreds of legs flying wildly while he darts across your wall.
I'm happy to report that there are two less miscreants in the world now, replaced by a few smudgy flip-flop marks on my wall. You're welcome, world.
My mom misunderstood and thought I'd killed these nasty beasties with my car--not that I was behind the wheel while we had this conversation or anything...ahem. But, while they were enormous and intimidating, they weren't quite large enough that I could have seen, aimed for, and obliterated them with Dirk the Blue Impala.
Just the thought of a centipede that big makes me shiver. I saw some in Thailand that were huge. I mean, huge. Their feet were bigger than mine. One asked me for directions. (Just kidding! It asked Mae. I don't speak Thai.)
So maybe I exaggerate a tad, but they were easily five or six inches. Few sights I've beheld were quite as appalling.
Which makes me so grateful that, even when I do get unwelcome guests darting through my space, they're not big enough to hit back.
Thank you, Jesus, that there are not too many bugs in my space. Please kill any who cross the threshold. Thank you for the bug man who comes to spray, and for the courage to karate-shoe the intruders who make it past the chemical barriers he erects.
And thank you that you are bigger and stronger than even Thai centipedes. All my love.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lisa Wingate is my friend!

I went to a conference this weekend in North Carolina. I didn't know anyone when I arrived, which I was fine with.
Until I got there.
Have you ever felt like you've walked into a sorority (or, I guess, fraternity...) function where you're the only one who hasn't pledged? And all the other girls are wearing chic cocktail dresses and engraved necklaces, and you're wearing your undies? And not even cute ones, but plain cotton granny panties (or, I guess, granny tighty whities...)?
Well, that was me on Friday afternoon, cowering in my rented baby blue Hyundai-turned-roasting-oven. I called my Pops and left a message asking for urgent prayers that I'd find a modicum of courage, and a friend. Pops called back and told me he was praying, so I pried my sweaty bum from the seat, hit the manual lock on the door, and trudged inside.
And who should I run into right away, but Lisa Wingate? Not only is she one of my top-shelf authors, but she also was a friendly face. Two years ago I met Lisa at a conference in an elevator and we were both on our way to a dinner where we didn't know anyone. So we sat together! She's sweet as pie and then some. And last year at a conference she sat at my table the first night. So, it just felt like a total God-gift, saying, "I got your back, kiddo. Here's a cool friend."
Plus, another girl at our table was just precious and she and I just connected.
And from there, the weekend wasn't just uphill, it was up-mountain! It turns out it wasn't a sorority function at all, it was more like the first day of college, when everyone wants to make new buddies and include you. I met dear hearts I will stay close to, learned some key skills, and laughed like a schizo who ran out of meds.
I knew it would be a "good" weekend, but I didn't expect to be knocked on my bum by the experience.
Jesus, you are so dear to me. Thank you for reaching into me this weekend. Thank you for Lisa, with her mad skills and her sweet smile. And thank you for all the other friends of my heart you blessed me with, for the chance to bask in your presence with six hundred-fifty of your daughters. You are so generous, so good, and I'm madly in love with you. All my love.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Synthetic Wonderfulness

I have six copies of the same shirt. Well, not exactly the same, they're in different colors. But I got them all from the GAP for $6. And if that weren't reason enough to stock up, they're made of rayon.
I might name my firstborn Rayon. The stuff is like comfort and freedom and joy all stitched together to form a festive, eye-catching shirt. I love how soft and light it is. It doesn't force its presence on you, in fact, you barely feel it unless you want to. But oh, you want to. And it hangs gentle over your shoulders--it isn't stiff and unbending, trying to impose its form. No, it takes the form on which its placed and smooths it, makes it more graceful.
And, it can be washed at home. Low maintenance! I buy $6 shirts, so you can imagine how painful it is to re-buy an outfit every time you get it dry-cleaned.
So, here's to rayon. May we all take a lesson from the queen of fabrics.
Thank you, God, for synthetics and the scientists who fashion them, for brilliant colors--like scarlet, peacock green, amethyst, peach, cobalt, and onyx--and for the little things in life that serve as reminders of the big things and magnify my appreciation for them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Directionally Challenged

I am going to North Carolina this weekend for a conference. Woot-woot! My friend Sarah is kind of enough to leave me the key to her house so I can save a few hundred bucks on a hotel room, which is AWESOME. But it means that I'll be finding my way between her house in Charlotte and the Embassy Suites late at night and early in the morning. And it means I'll have to find my way to the Starbucks in the dark.
Which makes me so grateful for Googlemaps. I have a neat stack of papers now with explicit directions to get me from point A to B to C to D and the odds of me getting lost drop from 72% to a mere 3%--even Googlemaps gets confused every once in a while.
I love being able to look down the list and know I've got seventeen miles, or only two blocks before I have to turn or exit. Whereas with one of those newfangled GPS things, I'd have to wait for the snooty lady to tell me when my turn was approaching. And what about when she's wrong and tells you to turn left into a cement wall? Or she doesn't want to let you stop for a coffee and yells "U-turn, U-turn" while you're trying to tell some poor barista you want a tall light-roast?
Yes. I have control issues.
And on occasion those bleed into my relationship with God. Sometimes I think it would be fabulous if God would give me a Googlemap instead of turn-by-turn directions. I want to know where we're going specifically, how many miles it is, and how long it will be. But instead, he says, "In half a mile, turn right."
But when I set aside my control issues, or at least peer over the top of them, I don't really want that. I mean, I have a hard enough time living in the moment as it is. How many really cool views would I miss if I were so fixated on the end? The not knowing makes life a beautiful adventure instead of a trek.
And what if the map led over Mount Saint Helen? Looking at it from here in Little Rock, I'd be sorely tempted to give up and sprawl on my dirty floor for the next eighty years. But instead, if there is a mountain in my path, God will use the journey between here and the base to prepare me, strengthen me, and provide what I'll need to climb the summit. And boy, what a view I'd have missed.
Or, what if my journey ended in like two miles? I think I'd rather not know...
So, while I'm incredibly glad for the stack of complete directions I have leading to and from the Charlotte airport, I'm grateful that God maps our lives GPS-style. And I'm glad God's voice doesn't sound like an uppity woman.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Call From...

I skyped tonight with two friends, one on each coast, to brainstorm a plot line.
We started with a notion, and as we talked it grew into a tendril, then branched into a dozen directions. Some of them blossomed, some shriveled, but they were each unique and fresh and the farther we went, the more brightly the colorful story shone.
I can't wait to read the story when it's written!
It reminded me of that verse in Proverbs...just a sec while I Biblegateway it... ah, yes. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." The root idea was a good one on its own, but as we explored it from three angles, we honed it.
I can't wait 'til we brainstorm my next plot. I have an idea, but right now it's kind of a blob. I can work on it, manipulate it, and probably come up with something good. But when my girls get a hold of it, hooey, look out. There's going to be a razor sharp edge!
Thank you, God, for the creative process, and how you've made art something best when shared. Thank you for my homegirls, and their brilliance and that even writing, which is a mostly solitary activity, you've built an avenue for community. Thank you for skype, too. All my love.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

God bless poultry

I just bought a half dozen eggs. Technically they're all grade A extra large, but in reality, one of them is massive. It's so big around, it's almost spherical. I thought at first somebody had switched out my egg with a volleyball.It won't even sit down in its little Styrofoam cradle.

I'm grateful I'm not a chicken. Oh, so very grateful. Praise Jesus, Hallelujah.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A gallon of cheer

I recently came to own a Starbucks mug. Its red and white and the size of a small swimming pool. It can hold two and a half pots of coffee. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a tad, but you get the idea.
I am grateful for this mug because it is cute and my hands span it without overlapping, which is great on a cold morning. Mostly though, I love that my grandpa got it for me. He and my grandma go thrift-storing (thrift-storing: verb - to wander around a shop of used goods for resell in search of an item you didn't know you needed until you found it, and for less than a dollar!) Once upon a time my mom told him I collect Starbucks mugs and ever since, he's kept his eyes peeled for them whenever he's thrift-storing. My collection has exploded.
Mother: If perchance you read this blog to Charles, kindly omit this paragraph. What she neglected to clarify at that time is that I collect city mugs from places me or my friends go. But, when I got my first package of mugs, purchased, cleaned and bearing the green siren, the intent of my collection was instantly altered. Now I collect city mugs and mugs that Charles finds.
What makes the red and white mug so splendid is that whenever I pull it from the cabinet, I am reminded that my grandpa thought of me when I wasn't there, and went out of his way to find something I'd like. Just to be nice. Aw!
So today I'm grateful for giant mugs in red and white and the grandpas who gift them. They have a remarkable way of brightening mornings.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I recently heard about this new kind of noodle called Shirataki that is super low calorie. I mean, super low. You can have pasta alfredo without the guilt, said recipe touted. 100 calories for a serving of creamy pasta!
Now, you would think in my 29 years I would have firmly rooted in my head that, with the massive and glorious exception of God's grace, you just ain't gettin' something for nothing on this planet.
But I haven't.
So, Dirk the Blue Impala and I scooted over to Whole Foods and bought a little baggy of fat white noodles in a grayish liquid. Hmm.
My suspicions grew when the instruction on the back of the bag included the phrase, "Rinse well to remove the authentic smell." Smells are not supposed to be authentic. At least not in this context.
But the nail in my wishful bubble was the texture. Have you ever tried to eat an intestinal worm? I think I have now. No amount of sauce, light or otherwise, can make chewing on a slimy rubberband a good option. No wonder they're low calorie. You eat one, and your appetite magically disappears!
As I tried to chew without thinking, I was reminded of how grateful I am for carbs. I know they get a horrible rap in our high-protein culture, but when a girl wants pasta, nothing--and I do mean nothing-- else can fit the bill. On cold rainy days, or when I'm crazy tired, tofu is not the answer. A little something sweet and carby can't be beat. I mean, heck, grains prop up the whole food pyramid. Without them, it'd just be, well, a shorter pyramid.
God, who made wheat, gluten, and all the ingredients for alfredo sauce...thank you. You are good, indeed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dam, that's big

After much travel, I am happy to be home and regaining my routine. (note: this is my lame excuse for not updating recently.) Tonight for the first time in two weeks I met my walking buddy at the Big Dam Bridge.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Big Dam Bridge. I love its name. The seven year-old Sunday schooler inside me snickers when I say it or type it. Big Dam Bridge. Hehe!
I hate the part where I have to huff and puff up the world's longest pedestrian bridge hill.
I love the feeling when I'm done and my glutes let me know I've burned a few calories.
I hate the sticky sweaty thing that comes from exercise out-of-doors in air that is remarkably similar to bath water. It's called the Dirty South for a reason.
I love that it's often dotted with people walking different speeds, sharing a moment with a friend or pounding out a few miles to the rhythm of their ipod. I love that it's a diverse meeting point and for a moment, I share a smile or a nod or just a sister-in-sweaty-arms relationship with people I wouldn't normally meet.I love that even in the hard parts, me and my buddy end up laughing and talking between wheezes. And I love that I can look back and see what I've accomplished, one step at a time.
I hate that the bugs are there and the parks people are against spraying down the whole river with pesticides.
Overall, it's a fabulous routine that I look forward to. And while that catchy song touts "Life is a highway," sometimes I think life is a big dam bridge. While time to time that love/hate thing snags me up, by and large I'm grateful for it. And for one stolid reminder of why.
Okay, and for Off! bug spray.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Be Still

Psalm 131

(Click above for a sweet visual interpretation of this text)

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not-proud, O LORD,

my eyes are not-haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters

or things to wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD

both now and forevermore.

Monday, June 6, 2011

In the shadow of Thy wing

I was driving around to do errands today and I got a whiff of
My first thought was maybe I'd parked by something smelly, or my nose was playing a practical joke. But a few times between errands I'd hop into my car and get that niggle of wrongness.
Hours passed.
And then tonight on my way to my last appointment, I realized what the smell was.
Rot. Or more specifically, the kitchen trash I'd put in the trunk to dump on my way out and forgot to drop off. Trash that had been enclosed in my trunk on a ninety-seven degree day.
All. Day.
You would think given that environment, I'd be keeled over the steering wheel in a parking lot somewhere. I should be.
But, as it would happen I got parking spots in the shade in almost every place I went today. Which just goes to show, God has our back. When something is off and we don't know what it is or how to fix it, He does. And he'll park us in the shade until we are in a place to open up ourselves to Him and get rid of that trash.
Thank you, God, for shady spots.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Band-aids and caulk

I live in an apartment. It's slightly larger than a bread box and it's adorable. I have a little patio that is perfect for cool afternoons in the company of a good book and a glass of white. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the whole complex was built in about a week. There are little flaws here and there that I've noticed and chosen to block out. But then, it rained. And around my window, the rain came inside. So not the point of windows.
Well, I know (because this happened with my other window) that they can't fix it while it's raining. So, I waited. The rain left, the carpet dried, and an irrational little voice in my head thought, "Maybe it won't happen again."
Ah, but here's the catch. Buildings don't heal themselves. So, after the next rain-soaked carpet day, I notified the office that I needed repairs.
Which got me to thinking, how cool is it that bodies heal? That our cells regenerate and your run-of-the-mill injuries like, oh I don't know, fingers used as doorstops that have turned an ugly shade of black cherry, will go away of their own accord? That, in most cases, cuts, shaving nicks, bug bites, scrapes, even sprains and strains, will heal? And if anything is left at all, it's a faint scar.
Even as I type this, there's a petulant voice in the back of my head, saying, "Not always, you know."
True. There are definitely cases where medical intervention is the only hope. I would still argue that with that help, the body's ability to regenerate is what makes the ultimate wholeness possible again.
"Yeah, but ultimate wholeness isn't always possible."
I know, petulant voice, (that always sounds like my own voice, but deeper, with greater inflection and often and acerbic flavor) I know. But it's better than nothing.
Look at our poor defenseless souls. They have no ability to regenerate or self-heal. It occurs to me that our souls are more like apartments than bodies. They are affected by the elements. While the rain may dry up, when the next storm comes our souls will take on water and start to mold.
There's an old hymn that talks about Jesus washing us white as snow. I always visualized a bright red robe going blinding white. Cool enough, but our sins aren't bright red. They're more like my ugly finger. Blackish. Probably scabby and reeking of the smell of infection. They're sore and oozy and contagious. They crust and crack and then crust again, building up a putrid layer of yellow and black.
Ah, again Jesus to save the day. He is the Great Physician (and a carpenter!) We talk about this a lot when someone gets a scary diagnosis. But I think it's just as vital for our souls. We can hide wounds, He can heal them. He cleanses the wound of scabs, reveals the hurt and the breathes healing over us. Wholeness. We don't have to have scars. We don't have to "bear it." We can be whole. Not by any work of our own, but by the incomprehensible power and grace of our God.
Lord, let me realize the depth of what you've saved me from so I might be bound ever closer to you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Banana Boat

There are many theories on what Heaven will be like. I personally subscribe to the New Earth theory, where things are similar but a thousand times better than Avatar. My job will be to write. And I'll spend my free time painting and dancing and singing (unless my new body isn't more graceful and ethereal, then I'll be a writing, fingerpainting, croaking spaz.)
But until then, the closest I've come to Heaven is the beach. I think when God was designing the intangible realms, a blob of magic fell onto the physical earth and became Amelia Island, Florida, where I lolled away the long weekend.
Mornings were spent in a screened porch facing a yard that resembled Disney's version of the jungle. Then we made our way to a sprawling white beach under the rising sun. Nothing beats the steady rhythm of the sea against the sand as a breeze buffets the heat from your skin. Give me a good book and an flip-over alarm every 30 minutes, and I'm set.
There is only one reminder that we are in fact in a fallen world. Sunburn.
But, as God would have it, there's a common grace for even that. Which is why I'm thankful for spf 30 sunblock. While I may not exactly be a golden goddess, I've avoided my typical impression of a stick of Big Red. Hallelujah!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What the....

Last night I went to the gym to pound out a mile and a half. There I was, wogging along--that's jogging at roughly the same pace as most people walk--watching The Deadliest Catch, and trying to drown out the complaints of my lazy bones with My Chemical Romance. Overall, it was going  rather well.
Someone in the front row did something downright evil. The air itself turned gray and curdled. Flies dropped dead mid-flight. Lights flickered and little tongues of flame spurted from outlets. Those of us in the second row thought seriously about diving headlong off moving treadmills in an effort to escape the noxious fumes. For real.
In that moment I was thankful for nothing. I regretted that I'd never drawn up a will. I mourned that I would not see my niece grow up. And I prayed for God to receive my spirit.
Then it faded.
I had wogged through the valley of the shadow of death and had the memories to prove it. But on this side of the event, I found myself praising God for two things.
First, the design of our olfactory receptors is such that each one sticks to a packet of odor molecules and is then bound for a while. This means that there is a limited quantity of scent we can experience at one time. It's how people live in towns with chicken processing plants. If I'd been forced to endure the folly of another for much longer, I would have tried to claw out my olfactory sensors just to escape. But God, genius that he is, saw how the sense of smell, which he designed for good, might be used for evil. I'm pretty sure gastric issues are a direct result of the fall. So he capped off it's ability by limiting the number of receptors in our noses.
Second, I'm grateful for God's forgiveness. I was thinking some pretty rank thoughts toward a certain gym member. It was a moment when I totally felt kinship with David as he called death and destruction upon his enemies. (If you think I'm being harsh, just weren't there. And I pray you never will be.) After the fact, I asked that God would forgive me. He did.
All in all, I'm grateful for the sense of smell. Gardenias, roasted red peppers, and cinnamon alone qualify as worthy experiences. And I'm thankful that some day, death, and deadly fumes, will be no more. Until then, I'm thankful for God's provision.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Do you ever get bonked over the head by a lesson you've learned? And relearned? And then learned again?
That happened to me this week.
It all started last weekend when a friend was sharing that he met his wife "when he wasn't even looking." I think that's precious. I love that God surprised him with such a fabulous blessing.
I didn't used to love hearing that because it's usually accompanied with that chin-tilted-raised-eyebrow expression that tells a single person, "If you would stop being desperate and just live each day then you, too, would be married like me." Sometimes the expression would be accompanied by the words themselves, though usually couched in a little more encouragement.
The reason it doesn't bother me anymore is that I've come to realize that that belief is simply not true. And I know it. So, if my married brethren and sistren think so, so be it. Often they think so because it was their experience. But it hasn't been mine, and the freeing thing is, I don't have to expect it.
Our God has not called us to a wide path. He's called us to a narrow one. This means its not a common trail. You're like, "duh, Kimberly." I know, but I had to relearn this in a unique way again. Recently. Not only is the trail not the typical world's path, but it's not anyone else's path. NO ONE ELSE'S. So if God's called me to a trail, I can't expect other people to walk that same path. It's mine. That is all he's told me. I know this and rest in it more often than not.
Or so I thought.
It so happens that I'm going to the beach this weekend. Woohoo!
And that means I have to don a bathing suit. Boohoo.
I have been fretting over this to a minor degree over the past few weeks. I love clothes. I love that the color and cut can impact the appearance of a body. I love jewelery and make up and their ability to say "Look up here! Ignore the imperfections!"
Sadly bathing suits say very little. Maybe, "eek." But that's not what I'm going for. Lately it's been saying, "no wonder you're alone."
So on a podcast this morning, I was reminded that I'm made as I am by a God who loves me. He doesn't expect me to be perfect and, furthermore, the people he puts in my life in relationship are not expecting that either. I am free to have flaws. The way he's structured me is specific to the narrow path on which he's called me and though it isn't necessarily the format I would have ordered if given a menu of options, it is by his will. That is freedom. He's bigger than me. The way I've been designed by an Almighty, loving God will not stand in the way of the plans that God has deigned for me.
See? It's a total "duh." But for me it was a breath of fresh truth.
Thank you, Jesus, for your fabulous timing, for your grace. Thank you for how you've made me...mostly...and for freedom.