Saturday, September 29, 2012


It's Saturday. It's 75 degrees out. It's 2:47, but it's five o'clock somewhere.

Need I say more? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good Jeans

Did you know:

  • The number one thing people fear is spiders.
  • More people are afraid of heights than germs.
  • A fear is only considered a phobia if it impedes your actions.
  • Brontophobia is not the fear of brontosaurus (brontosauri?), but the fear of thunderstorms
  • Phobias are considered curable. The cure? Exposure.
Well, this week I had to face one of my own phobias. 

Deniphobia: n - the fear of shopping for denim, primarily exhibited in the search for jeans.

I H.A.T.E. shopping for jeans.  I believe perfect jeans are much like the perfect man.  If you have that magical encounter once, you're lucky. You look and feel taller and more beautiful. You run down the aisle with no hesitation.

But unlike men, that one pair of jeans wears out. And then there you are, shuffling past all the other shoppers searching for another pair of pants that you love enough to commit to. Or at least, won't hate as soon as you go home together, and aren't embarrassed to be seen in public with. 

You try out a half-dozen styles in two sizes, and find that one pair that's almost right, almost. Maybe you just always wear shirts that cover your body above the knee. That's doable. Tunics are in, right? You slip them off, check the tag, and realize they cost almost as much as Dirk The Blue Impala. Twice.

 Oh, the trials!

This is precisely why I've been shuffling around in jeans older than my niece, even though the frayed hems whisper about the likelihood I was raised in a barn whenever I walk. I have on occasion veered towards the denim section, and then my phobia kicks in and I retreat to accessories. Or lipstick.

Well, after years of delay, following my successful half marathon (yes, I'm still riding that high) I figured I could do just about anything. So, I sucked it up, or in at least, and hit the mall to find some new dungarees that, if they couldn't make me look long and lean and hip, at least didn't make my legs look shorter, my thighs look thicker, or my waist look muffin toppier. I took a friend for moral support and to help me distinguish between jeans that looked bad, and jeans that I thought looked bad.  She was a great help, and I'm now the proud owner of three new pairs of jeans, and two old ones.

Am I cured?


Do I feel ready to try this again?

Not until I have to, and with three new pairs, I might make it a decade.

But, I do have jeans that I can leave the house in without worrying strangers will dump their change in my coffee cup.

I'm grateful for Banana Republic Factory Store for making jeans that don't hate women, for Lauren and her distinguishing eye for denim, for Mr. Strauss, even if his invention is the cause of much stress, and   for the suffragettes, who long ago decided bustles and corsets were so last season, and donned trousers instead.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Saturday, I completed a half marathon.

Those are words I never thought I'd type.  In fact, right up through that last tenth of a mile it was iffy.  I've never been that close to a finish and wondered if I would make it.  But, I did and I have the t-shirt to prove it.  It felt so good to cross that line. Even as my muscles ached, my stomach churned, and I discovered the ugliest big-toe blister ever, I had no regrets.

Well, today I reached another milestone.  I typed The End on my third manuscript!  It still needs to be rewritten, but its there. All 82,000 words of it.  I don't have a t-shirt, or an ugly blister as a result, but I do have that same deep and vast sense of, "Yes!"

I've never been one to put "Life is the journey, not the destination," on my bumper. I love finishing. Yet while the process of writing is more fun than the process of running, both of these endeavors were actually fun. Yes, for real.  I loved watching the story form and grow and flourish in ways I hadn't anticipated. And I loved--well, liked--plodding past the Parthenon, Music Row, and Belmont University in Nashville.

Which made me wonder if I should revamp my philosophy and start setting paths instead of goals.

Mmm, not gonna happen.  As healthy as that might be, its just not me.  I am learning though, through these long, slow, goals to enjoy both.  I can take in the scenery without forgetting the finish line. I can delve into the possibility of story without letting it take me by the hand and lead me on a dozen rabbit trails that lead to a half-finished manuscript.

All this goal pondering reminded me of the Apostle Paul's analogy in 2 Tim. 4:7, namely, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." He was a finish line person too. 

This life is glorious and is a gift. It is a chance to see and experience and love and learn. To sing with Cambodians, to hike in Thailand, to dine in Italy, to drink coffee and talk Jesus with Guatemalans, to hug Kenyan children and see wild elephants, to build friendships and familyships, to read, to laugh, to write, to run.

And yet, this is the race. Just, the race.  The finish line is out there and the best part of existence lies beyond.  How cool is that?

Thank you, Lord, for these goals and the persistence you are intent on teaching me. Thank you for this story and for the characters I'm half in love with. Thank you for getting me through 13.1 miles, and for a running buddy to do it with. Thank you for the glorious event this life is, and even more for the wondrous promise of so much more beyond, including you! Please let me never lose sight of either.  All my love.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Either Way

Tomorrow I will complete a half marathon.
Or possibly meet my maker trying.
Either way, it will be memorable.

I'm thankful for angry music to run with, this stuff called Gu that I am told I will need toward the end, running skirts, cool weather, water, grace, and the promise of Heaven and a crazy thrilling eternity with the most creative, funny, brilliant, gentle God ever.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pandora gets Hijacked

There's a children's book called, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Replace Alexander with Kimberly, and you have my Tuesday. I won't go into why, but by 5 pm, when I could set Business Kimberly aside, I was a wreck. And there was nothing I could do about it.

So, I called my Mom and we prayed.

Not five minutes later, Pandora selected In Christ Alone. I can't hear that song without my eyes being drawn to the grandeur of the Master plan.  I sighed, sniffed, dabbed my eyes and was lifted. The song faded.

And then Pandora picked... In Christ Alone.
Hmmm. Methinks there was more than an algorithm going on there. Step aside, digital song-picker. There's a Bigger Dude making the choices right about now.
I finally stopped writing and just let it wash over me. Let the Comforter comfort. Leaned fully and bonelessly on the Almighty, whose heart breaks for injustice and cruelty and all pain, and who will one day fix all the things I can't. Who knows, more than I ever will, what ugly looks like. And who won.

I'm not going to say the snot-faucet shut off right away, but the agony was on Someone else's shoulders and my tears faded.  It is impossible to feel hopeless in the presence of God. In Christ Alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.

Thank you, Lord on High, that you see the tiny things in this world, that you are pure love and that all the ugly that mars this planet cannot ever hold up against your goodness. You win.
You win.
Please, oh Comforter, lift up those hurting. Wrap your holy, mighty, comforting self around them. Insulate those who need it.  Bring your joy, your freedom, your victory to this place. All my love.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Story time

Did you know 80% of the world is oral-preferenced learners vs. literate learners? I didn't either.

But this weekend I took part in a training class on orality, which is the practice of teaching the Bible through oral story-telling.  I participated primarily because I love story itself, be it written or verbal (which is what keeps that 80% number from stabbing this writer in the heart.)  I showed up with my notebook and laptop ready for an education on the art of effectively sharing Biblical truth without notes and charts and bullet points.

This is not what happened.

Instead, the trainers just started by telling a memorized story from God's Word. They didn't add words or details, they straight up spoke the story, as a story, as written. And then we discussed it with broad questions like, "What does this story tell us about God? About us? What does it mean for our lives?"  Of course these questions led to deeper discussion, and before we were two hours in, something happened.

My notebook was gone, my analytical bullet-point mind had yielded to the experience, and a Holy encounter took place. This group of leaders for God were sharing, were crying, were learning from simple stories we've heard, read, and bludgeoned to death with those damn bullets.  Life change occurred while we discussed the feeding of the five-thousand, and Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman.

It wasn't because the stories were told with finesse. Some weren't. It wasn't the vibrant scene-setting, because little to none took place before the story began. It was because the Word of God doesn't return to him without accomplishing his work. It was because the Holy Spirit got excited that His kiddos were together to open themselves to what He had to say instead of what they could dig up on their own.

I will treasure that time in my heart and fell in love all over with the Almighty Original Story-Teller, with his Word, with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  The power of story sings through my veins even now.

Thank you, dearest Jesus, for story. For your story. For using story to teach us. For the Spirit to untwine the truths in your words steadily throughout our lives and experiences.  Thank you that your living word is powerful and that I have the honor to read it, to share it.  All my love.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blessed are the peace-makers...?

Like brothers the world over, Jellybean and Buckley find it immensely fun to fight with each other. Unlike brothers the world over, their fights usually end with the one licking the other.  Exhibit A.

By and large they're pretty tough with each other, but not dangerously so. However, every now and then, if Buckley gets tired of wrestling before Jellybean he'll let out one of those ear-grating protests that makes it clear this isn't fun anymore. And if Jellybean, being the older brother, doesn't take the hint, Buckley gets louder and his tail hair sticks straight out, making it look twice as big. I always used to think this phenomenon was strictly the property of cartoons, but it's not. Real cats get fat tails when they're angry.

When I get angry,  I get kind of stiff. I used to think I had a pretty good poker face, but the responses I've received over the years tell a different story. I'm not sure what exactly it looks like but I think it involves narrow eyes, a hard jaw and red death-rays shooting from my pupils.

One thing that doesn't happen is my tail-end doubling in size, and for that I am grateful. It would probably be a serious motivator to become a peace-filled person, but all the same I'd rather give up on anger for less physical reasons.

Oh, and I'm also grateful that when people make up, no licking of other persons is involved. Try looking your siblings in the eye after that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sadness and laughter

Today the tragedy of senseless violence hangs in the air.  I'm praying for the families of those killed for no reason other than hate.  I am shocked, but I suppose I should not really be, since no one can serve two masters, and this kind of action is exactly what the father of lies endorses.

Has the church done evil things in the name of God? Yes. But, not everyone in the church is truly a believer of God. I do not put myself in the position of delineating the saved versus others, but Jesus warned of wolves in sheep's clothing and that has borne out over the millenia, when people used the name of the Almighty for personal gain.  And this is just as tragic.

Anyway, I'm humbled and honored and proud to be an American. To say I'm thankful for the men and women all over the world who make that possible is just not adequate. I happily owe them something. We all do.

So, because I'm not very good at dwelling in heavy places, I was thinking about some of the things I like about America.  One that brightens my day to day life is the Southern accent.  I've thought before about how you would write this dialect in a book. It would drive a reader nuts, but words in the South are different.  Here are some of those I've translated.

English/Southern Translation

My - Mah

Oil - Ole

Boiled (as in peanuts) - Bowled

Sweet tea - Tea

Umbrella - UHMbrilla

Oustide - Outsod

About to - Fixin' to

could - (translates to might could) Maht Could

Go team - Whoo Pig Sooie

I - Ah

you (pl) - Y'all

yours (pl) - Y'all's

did you (pl) - D'Y'all

did yours (pl) - DJall's (note the Y sound becomes a dipthong)

Here are a few example sentences:

Mah Bowled Peanuts tasted like heaven. DJall's?

Ah maht could use a little more sugar in this tea.

If y'all are goin' outsod, taken an uhmbrella. It's fixin to rain.

So, my list is hardly comprehensive. What are you favorite English/Southern translations? Build a sample sentence if you dare.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I have, in my 30 years, learned a lot of lessons. Some are easy, some are hard.
Easy lesson:  raspberry sorbet is tasty.
Hard lesson: "free" cats are  expensive.
Easy lesson: Macs are great computers.
Hard lesson:  always, always, always back up your computer.
Easy lesson: Psych is a hysterically funny TV show.
Hard lesson: chai tea may sound perfect at 9 pm, but it is, in fact, caffeinated, and is not a good idea.

Well recently I've learned a spiritual lesson, and unlike many of it's kind it fell into the easy category.

It all started about a week or two ago. I was going about my normal business, trying to the right thing and failing more than I'd like. Well, as usual I'd  pray and ask for forgiveness.  Normally, I will do this at least two or three times, whenever it came to mind, and the next day for good measure, so I could consider I'd paid my dues.  Do I believe in the absolute grace of God? Yes.
But it still felt like maybe I ought to apologize again.
Well, over the last two weeks, when I'd find myself messing up, I'd prayerfully apologize, and the normal voice of self-recrimination just....didn't speak up.  It has been so peaceful and is perhaps the first time I've truly given God's grace and Jesus' sacrifice its due. It wasn't a fast lesson--I'm celebrating twenty-five years in the family--but it came gently and with a strength of conviction that I didn't have any work left to convince myself or conform.

It just makes me so grateful for the grace of God and that all wrath, all guilt, all responsibility for ALL sin has been dealt with once and totally by Jesus.  Man, that is a beautiful, peace-giving truth.

Thank you, dearest Jesus, my heart, my soul, my cherished love.  You are glorious and I'm always overjoyed when I get to know yo a little bit more.  All my love.

Friday, September 7, 2012


The crowd hums with anticipation.  All heads turn to face the gate.  Fire has already torn over the earth spelling out USA, and the smoke has cleared. Now there's nothing left but to wait, leaning forward, ready.

Then, in a moment a gate opens and it is David versus Goliath, if Goliath's bulk was more horizontal than vertical and if David had a rope instead of a sling.

That's right, folks. I'm talking about the PBR (Professional Bull Riders, for those who didn't already know. No need to raise your hands.)  This weekend the world's toughest riders will take on the world's most vicious Animal Athletes.  And I am going to be there to see it all.

Things I love about the PBR:

  • It is great for ADD people because you only have to pay attention for 8 seconds at a time.
  • It's a subculture full of hardcore fans.
  • Getting to say names like Valdiron and Guillerme and Cody and Cody and Cody.
  • Getting koozies.  Where else do you get koozies anymore?
  • The tangible excitement of seeing someone put their life on the line for glory. And money. But mostly glory.
  • I can wear my cowboy boots and hat (yes, I have a cowboy hat)
  • In comparison to the riders, I feel tall.
  • Praying in an arena before a public event.
  • That one bull who knows how the game is played, and after he's dumped his rider in the dust, decides to take on the roper and his horse, and maybe a few bull fighters before leaving the arena.
  • That one bull who just stands in the gate for a minute because he missed his queue
  • USA spelled out in fire on the arena floor.

If you've never been to the PBR, well, you just are missing out.  But here are some pictures to give you a taste.

Valdiron showing...I think this is Chicken on a Chain...whose boss.

Oh, Nashville. Bless your heart.

This is when you scream and hoot and holler for your favorite rider as they run out of the mist and stand, feet shoulder width apart, wearing a look of grim determination.

Gotta wear your duds.

Find another venue that provides a ginormous inflatable whiskey bottle. Go ahead. I dare you.

J. B. Mauney, who will be riding this weekend and is doing quite well.  We, like, practically know him.

 This army dude had just repelled from the rafters to the ground. U.S.A! U.S.A!

See?  So, next year, you be watching for your chance to take part in the amazingness.  

I'm soooo grateful that back in the day, long ago, one cowboy said to another, "That thur bull is meaner 'n' a snake on a cold day, ain't he, Herb?  Hey, betchoo cain't ride 'im for for a minute."
"Dadgum, Bubba, my momma ain't raised no eedjit. Course I ain't gonna try and ride Ol' Nailbender for a minute. But I betchoo I can go eight seconds."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Give me a G! Give me an O! Give me a D!

Technically--and in every other way, really--I'm supposed to be working right now. And I will be again in a minute (and through lunch, so The Man will get his due) but I had to share this because it is just making me feel like someone cranked up the O2 content of the planet.

It all started yesterday, when I was listening to a sermon podcast about how we have the power in Christ to flip all bad things to good things because God has never, and will never, lose to the Accuser, including using all his nasty tricks for glorious results.  The speaker, Graham Cooke, said, "Whining, complaining,'s the worship language of hell."


I was wondering what that would look like in my life.  And, lucky me, I got to find out.  I will not go into the details (see above quote) but I spent a good part of yesterday waiting for a promise to be fulfilled that wasn't.  Right as I was getting ready to put the hiss in hissy fit, that quote came back to haunt, er, bless me.  Instead of moaning and pouting and emailing others to share how unfair I'd been treated, I had a glass of white wine and read and chillaxed.  Sure enough, not a few minutes passed and all that heart-clawing self-defensive rage just...evaporated.  My evening turned out pretty well. And I texted a friend whose dad had offered to help out and he's coming this morning!

But I wasn't done learning yet.

I also discovered last night, shortly after breakthrough one, that the lease I signed last month had an error.  The rates I'd been sold were not the same as those on the lease. And yes, I'd signed it. I got mad again, at myself and at the mistaker. I started formulating the arguments I would make to convince the person to right the mistake and honor their word. I couldn't sleep, I was so busy plotting.

Then, once again, that still small voice, said. "Nope. Give that one to Me. Trust me."
I did.
And then a few seconds later reached out and held on again, just in case God needed my help.
He didn't. And he told me so. So I prayed to let it go, several more times I admit, before I succeeded.

This morning I thought about snatching up my worries, but sure enough my Bible study was on peace. I also thought about maybe just calling some people to ask for prayer and favor, but God, said, "Nope. Just trust me. I heard you the first time and I have got this."

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for intercession, but sometimes I slip into the mindset that God won't hear just me, or do something for just me. But, if I have enough people asking with me, then he'll notice. He's clearly breaking me of this.

So I went down to the office this morning, nervous, with nothing but my lease, my original receipt, and my sole prayer, and within FIVE MINUTES, they'd agreed to make the correction. I didn't need even one argument. PRAISE JESUS! He fought my battle and I got to have peace instead of anxiety.

So often I try and put on football pads and hit the field, when God wants to win the game for me. I'm made to be a cheerleader, and I've gotten more than one concussion when I forget that. But he never gives up or walks away from the sidelines. He just coughs quietly, then points to my abandoned pom-poms, and runs out in my place to kick butt and take names, no matter who the foe is.

Thank you, Lord, for your patience with my meager faith. Thank you for being for me. For granting me favor. Thank you for all the good you have stored up for those who love you. Like me. Please forgive my unbelief and help me with it.  Get my paltry self out of your glorious way. All my love.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lamp Unto My...Living Room

My living room is pretty spacious and has this lovely ginormous window that looks out onto some trees. These trees, in addition to looking all pretty in their tree way, block a good bit of the sunlight.  As a result my lovely living room is a bit dim.

I don't know about y'all but I am not really okay with dim. I like it bright. I like all the lights in the room on, and maybe a few in the hall just for good measure.  So, in addition to the one overhead light by the fireplace, I had pressed a desk lamp into duty on the floor by the couch.  It definitely helped, but being as it was so low, about fifty percent of the room still had sub-par lighting.

Well, today I got a message that my lamp had arrived at my local Wal-mart store. I'd sort of forgotten I'd ordered it, but I picked it up, brought it home, and screwed the pieces together. Thirty minutes later, light beamed all over the place from an "alabaster" lamp sitting a stylish six feet off the ground. I liked it so much I got online and ordered another. 


The issue of perspective is one that sounds deceptively simple.  I was not shocked when the real floor lamp put the sad little desk lamp to shame. But, for whatever reason, I forget this simple physical and spiritual reality when it comes to bigger things.

I had a lovely talk with my sister today. We have impromptu phone prayer meetings sometimes, and did so today, which started my Labor Day brighter (obvious, unapologetic pun.)  And while we were talking this issue came up, about how God is sooooo big. How his love is soooo mighty and vast. It is truly the most powerful force on earth. I've been reading Job and its' a stark reminder of that. That the God who made stars and invented evaporation also feeds raven chicks and lion cubs. He is vast, and yet vastly intimate.  

All the stuff that seems permanent in my life, all the problems that overshadow me...its largely a matter of my puny desk lamp perspective shining on this life. I am so grateful that God is above it all. And he's not even a floor lamp, he's the freaking roof yanked off and the sunlight burning down over the whole space.  

Lord, remind me always. Let me not get lost in the shadows when your light always shines.  Burn in my life, through my life. Open my eyes. And when I'm trying to find my way by my own power, remind me of you and all that you are.  All my love.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Growing Sage

Well, I'm officially renewing my commitment to blog three times a week. So of course this first week, I'm way late with the third blog, but I'm doing it anyway.

I have what you might call a brown thumb.  I excel at taking vibrant, living plants and ushering them through the pearly gates in short order.  But a few months ago when Whole Foods had herb plants on sale for a dollar a piece, I couldn't pass up trying one more time to cultivate green things.

I bought sage, basil, two kinds of oregano, and marjoram.  I'm not sure what I'll ever use the marjoram for, but it was pretty. And as for the others, I figured if I did straight up kill them I would have gotten my money's worth if I dried at least the leaves that were on the plants at the time of purchase.

I'm happy to say the herbs are still alive and in fact flourishing...well some of them are.  It turns out they don't need much water, so when I forget for a few days its okay, and they like a lot of sun.  And, when you clip them to use some herbs, they actually grow back better.  Which is probably why the marjoram looks pretty much the same now as it did two months ago.

Without writing an essay, let me say that a parallel did not escape me.  Life can be rough. No matter who you are, or your situation, you'll face hard times. Some people get cut more than others, more than seems fair or even tolerable. But when you see those people who have ask the Creator of all to come into their broken places, you can tell. Because they don't just heal, they flourish. And their lives have that much more flavor and depth to enrich the world around them.

Thank you, Lord, that you are the Redeemer, and you will never let evil or pain have the last word in the lives of your children. Thank you for herbs and for how sturdy they are and how wonderful they smell in a saute pan. Thank you for flavors in life, both in taste, in experience, in sound, in color, in people.  You are a God of accents and variety and richness and I love that about you.  All my love.