Thursday, April 28, 2011

Soul Sistas

Tonight I sat in a chapel, surrounded almost entirely by people wearing yellow.
No, I didn't miss the memo, I was at a community corrections facility (that means jail for the non-scary offenders.) I was a guest with a friend of mine who participated in leading a women's Bible study there.
It was the last night, and after nibbling on crazy amounts of homemade sweets, we sat down as those who wanted to share told what they'd heard God speak to them about their mission in life.
As one woman from the back made her way up, I noticed a shift of movement behind me. Her whole small group stood up in solidarity as she spoke. It wasn't fancy, but it was heartfelt and true and holy unto the Lord.
In that instant I was washed in the joy of holy sisterhood. I, a new girl on the last night, was welcomed right in. And I applauded with the rest after each story and song. One woman turned her back to us and faced the cross as her shaky voice carried a song across the pews, and her girls, all 70 of us, had her back as she sang unto the Lord. It was precious and pure. I could just see Jesus sitting there, whooping and cheering with the rest of us, rubbing heads, pulling his girls into tight hugs, laughing with joy and hope. God was one of the girls tonight and it was fabulous.
Don't get me wrong, I think men are great. I'd like to get one of my own some day. But there's something so joyous about a bunch of girlfriends sharing together. If we all know Jesus, sweet. But even if we don't, that element of God that he's signed on the feminine soul makes for a beautiful story when women get together in friendship.
I didn't know what to expect when we rolled through the tall fences, but that sort of loving support wasn't it. And I came away so blessed and refreshed.
Thank you, my Jesus, for girlfriends and that unique relationship we can share. Thank you for tonight, for letting me see the hearts you're touching in Pine Bluff. All my love.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The gift that keeps on giving...

A clean kitchen floor sounds like a small thing. And it is, unless you've spent two days walking around on vinyl just tacky enough to make your toes not want to let go when you walk.
Ick is right. But, that's what happens when you spill ham drippings and try to wipe it up with a paper towel. And if the hungry embrace of the floor wasn't gross enough, knowing that the stick factor is caused by little ham fat cells that have adhered to your foot makes it downright abhorrent.
Thus, I'm grateful for a freshly mopped floor. That's right. I busted out my dollar store sponge mop, filled the sink with Armstrong suds, and gave it the old once over. Replaced that ham grease with elbow grease! (yes, yes, I do realize how cheesy that sounds.)
The sad truth is that if this afternoon hadn't been rain-soaked and unwelcoming I probably would still be wearing socks on every trip to the fridge. But now I've not only got barefeet-friendly kitchen and bathroom floors, but a fully vacuumed apartment!
So, I'm grateful for rainy days, for sponge-mops, and that I don't have occasion to cook a ham again any time soon.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I'm in the midst of storm season here in Little Rock. It's a crazy experience. The morning started out all gray, then we got midday sun and warmth, and mere hours later, bam. Big fatty horns blared for an hour to warn of impending tornadoes, and the weatherman said, "That's a gnarly piece of hail. The nasty appendages could do serious damage if they came down on someone's head." Love it! He had been talking about storms for four hours already, but this was my favorite excerpt.
I try to imagine what it must have been like back before there was Doppler to tell me when I need to crouch in my bathtub and when I'm in the clear. Before there were cell phones to text friends and make sure we're all okay.
Not. Cool.
The obvious parallel is that with this one exception, we don't get Doppler warnings of the storms of life. We don't get to know ahead when our worlds are about to be ravaged. Which makes me glad, yet again, that my Jesus lives. And unlike my bathtub, the shelter He provides is quite roomy. Freeing. And soapscum free.
Thank you, Jesus, for Doppler, and storm chasers, and for protecting my patio furniture. And please be with Dirk the Blue Impala, unguarded in the gnarly hail, and the folks whose stormy night is just beginning. Please guard lives tonight and always. Please let this world see what it means to reside in the glorious hope and freedom of your shelter. All my love.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Every year at this time, I become more conscious of the magnitude of the love of the Lord. And I am overwhelmed. I took communion tonight with a friend of my heart in her church. We praised and sang and a man passed me a loaf of bread, looked into my eyes, and said, "the body of Christ, broken for you."
Tearing off bread humbled me.
My Christ.
For me.
I can't put down a good story, so I have a terrible time dwelling on the Last Supper without running straight on through to Good Friday and Easter.
But this one evening holds so much overwhelming, incomprehensible love.
Jesus, Lord of the Earth and all who dwell in it, on his knees. Washing feet.
Not just to make a point. Not just to set an example.
But because he actually loved them like that. Enough to be humbled. Enough to be humiliated.
And then he came to Judas, who had already plotted my Dear Lord's death. Who played innocent and extended his ankles to as yet unscarred hands.
Jesus knew, saw exactly what was happening in both the physical and spiritual realms, and He washed Judas' feet.
Because He loved him.
As His heart broke from the betrayal and the loss of a loved one, from the pain of having one so close to his heart trade away his life for mere coins, Jesus still loved. Still served.
I ask myself if I could do that? Um, no. I don't think it's humanly possible.
It is incomprehensible unless it is an act of God.
My God, My Jesus, Lord of my heart and life, Savior of my soul, I ask what stands between me and you. I want so much for my soul to mingle with your Spirit. I want to inhale you and exhale me. I want to merge completely, to feel you rush through every part of me.
Flood and overwhelm. Lavish.
What stands between our union like that? My flesh. It is a mortal cage that would tether me to its death sentence and bar me from your freedom. Please, my Lord, cut me free of these forsaken bonds and draw my whole self into your being, your freedom. Jesus--whose blood on Earth freed me from death--my dearest Lord Jesus, I want the whole dependence on the Father that you had, and the freedom to love like You. A love not of this world nor bound by its laws. I want you. More of you. All of you that I can bear. And then more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beautiful storm

I sit in my apartment watching the sky turn an eerily beautiful shade of cornflower blue as lightning splashes across the angry sky. The thunder doesn't boom so much as carry on a continuous one-sided dialogue of threats. Winds are making the trees rock and sway like they're in a revival meeting and the heavy drops that fall are the presence of God dripping off their limbs.

It's enough to make a girl praise God. The raw power of this writhing storm is awful and beautiful. Terrifying. Inspiring.

My God made that. His voice--His voice--makes the thunder quail and the lightning seem like a spark. His face...who can imagine? Who would dare? Even His beloved Elijah couldn't take it. He heard the voice of God and pulled his cloak over his head.

My God has spared me this night. I have escaped with nothing but awe and wonder running over me like the rain on the trees. But even if He should choose to take me, I would be so blessed. Because the God who spoke storms into being, spun flowers with his words, hung stars in the sky, and invented melody--that God, my God, knows my name. And I can't wait to hear Him speak it. All my love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Inhale at your own risk

Today I found myself wending a two-lane road north to a little town called....well, to protect the innocent we'll say it rhymes with Latesville, Arkansas. As I cruised in, Bates--uh, Latesville looked much like its sister towns. There was a Sonic, some Mom'n'Pop businesses, lots of trucks. But just after the golden arches came into view, I noticed something different. All kinds of different. And not the good different, like fresh music. The kind of different people use when you ask if they like your new mullet. The best description I can come up with is this: imagine a fresh can of moist dog food. Heated. Now put your nose in the can. This smell, my friends, tickled my nose at the bridge. Then, a mile further it coated my tongue. And by the time I made it to town center it had a choke hold on my nasal passages. I couldn't even think about anything but Alpo, much less locate the address of the business I had come for. Now, the aroma of Batesville is due to a large food processor that had the inhumane idea of putting their factory right downtown, so it's not really the poor Latesvillians fault. But as I looked around, a full on oh-my-gosh-that's-gross snarl on my face, I was the only one concerned. People were actually going in to McDonald's. To eat. And about a few minutes later, I understood why. The smell fades. Like, ten minutes in Latesville, and you don't smell Purina One, it's just...air. Which made me grateful that God designed our noses with a limited number of scent receptors. So that if you're one of the unlucky few who look up one day to find a cannery next door, you've only got to suffer a short while before your nose has literally had enough. And it made me grateful that in a town where the air is pure and the rocks are little.