10.21.18 when life gets a bit dark, try this secret, by Ann Voskamp

Yes, our New Orleans Saints have won 5 in a row and beat the Baltimore Ravens today.

Our quarterback, DREW BREES, threw his 500th and 501st passing touchdowns joining quarterback royalty. He’s also now had a win against every team in the league including the Saints (when he was with San Diego). We’ve got the best and we love that guy!

Now for today’s post!

When life gets a bit dark, try this secret, by Ann Voskamp

For thirty spins around the sun, these nine old nanas kept a secret from their men.

They did it in the middle of the night.

When that old ball of sun sunk down low and pulled a cover of dark up over the backside of the world, those nine nanas creaked open their back doors and made a their way through the cracked dark.

They called them Drive-Bys.

They did it because of MaMaw Ruth. I had my own Grandma Ruth; I knew about women named Ruth who make clandestine meetings with grace.

“MaMaw Ruth would read in the paper that someone had died and she didn’t have to know the family,” is what one of the Nine Nanas, Mary Ellen said. “She’d send off one of her special pound cakes. She just wanted to put a little smile on their faces.”

It was a girl’s night for Mary Ellen and her four sisters and their three girlfriends, sitting around a table reminiscing and laughing loud over old times.

“We started thinking about what we could do to make a difference like that. What if we had a million dollars? How would we spend it?’ she said.

Those nine women knew it:

We’re not here to make an impression —- we’re here to make a difference.

All from the new Thanksgiving Collection

The size of our houses, our wallets, our closets, our trophy case and our cheerleading squad doesn’t make any difference compared to the size of our hearts.

And frankly: The positions that we take don’t make a difference like the love that we give.

The positions that we take don’t make a difference like the love that we give.

We may be known for many things but we will be remembered only by one thing: our giving love.

Anyone can have any size of heart they want.

Those Nine Nanas began brainstorming around a kitchen table, and it was one of the sisters who came up with the idea: start doing their own laundry instead of using the dry cleaner. They sat there and came up with a list of scrimping and saving and shaving their lives clean.

“So among the nine of us, we’d put aside about $400 a month.” 

Then came part two of the Nine Nana Plan: How do you make a difference? You make a difference — by doing things different.

You can’t make a difference by climbing the exact same ladder everyone else, by living exactly the same as everyone else, by consuming the same, buying the same, striving the same, dreaming the same. 

You can’t make a difference until you listen to the world differently than everyone else does.

You can’t make a difference until you listen to the world differently than everyone else does.

That’s what those Nine Nanas did — they started leaning in and listening at the local beauty shop or where they picked up their groceries.

And when they heard about a widow or a single mother who was in need, guess who would anonymously pay a utility bill or buy new clothes for the children?

Those Nanas would ferret out where that hurting person lived and send a package with a note that simply read, ‘Somebody loves you’ —- and the love they sent always had to come with one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes.

In the middle of the darkest night, love is always coming for you.

In the middle of the pitch black night, those Nine Nanas drove slow through neighbourhoods looking for fans stuck in windows.

“That told us that the people who live there? Don’t have air-conditioning,” Mary Ellen said.

‘Or we see that there are no lights on at night, which means there is a good chance their utilities have been turned off. Then we return before the sun came up, like cat burglars, and drop off a little care package.’

For 35 years, these love stealthers have been breaking the dark.

35 years. 9 women. 4 am pitch black. Whipping up MaMaw Ruth’s pound cakes. Sending pound cakes all across the country to people making a difference in their community. Opening up the phone book and sending pound cakes to complete strangers.

35 years of hundreds of pound cakes delivered in the dead of night — and no one being none the wiser.

There are women who do not need to be noticed out on the street corners to have their backs patted — because there are women who know those who work in the dark are the ones shattering the dark in ways those in the spotlights never can.

There are women who work in secret because they know you always make real and giving love in secret.

There are women who don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing because hands that move unbeknownst are most known by the Beloved.

That which is done in secret, that which is broken and given in secret, is a practicing communion.

That which is done in secret, that which is broken and given in secret, is a practicing communion.

Live eucharist. Practice communion. Taste koinonia.

Mary Ellen didn’t know when her husband started puzzling over the extra mileage on the car. Didn’t know when he started scratching his head over withdrawals from their savings account of not small amounts of cash. Pulled out his highlighter and started charting a path through their confounding bank statements.

Mary Ellen and those Nine Nanas just knew they had to gather their men and ‘fess up’ to what was suspected: an affair of the heart.

It could start a revolution and change the way this world revolves: What if the world focused on affairs of the heart instead of spending our one life on business affairs?

Kiss open wounds. Caress the bruised back of the broken. Embrace suffering because this is how you embrace the broken-hearted Christ.

Frankly, though, the husbands had had it — they wanted in on the eavesdropping and the drive-bys and the night gift-blitzing the town.

They wanted in on writing down addresses and anonymously paying utility bills.

They wanted to deliver a pound cake and press beauty out of the world.

They wanted in on the giving and the getting joy, they wanted in on breaking a thread or two of themselves to weave strength and hope into where the fabric of society was weak and torn, they wanted in on breaking out of the emptiness of themselves and breaking into the fullness of koinonia and community.

Those 9 husbands looked at how their wives were breaking and giving themselves away — and they wanted to break into the happy abundance of all that.

Small gifts of kindness are contagious. Start a joy epidemic.

Sometimes….

Sometimes you just want to break out of yourself and break into the sacred space of the other. And that Sacred Space of the Other you seek is found when you give to the Other.

The Nine Nanas said that:

“This is our way of giving forward.” Mary Ellen nodded. “We want to make sure that happiness happens.”

The way forward —- is always to give forward.

The way forward —- is always to give forward.

Life happens. And grace happens. Gifts happen. Happiness can happen. Love gives. Live given.

I do this: bake pound cake.

Bake a pound cake and pound out of hopelessness.

Bake a pound cake made in any old kitchen — and bring it out into the dark and pound out of your pitch black and out of yourself and break the isolation.

Taste Koinonia in the middle of the dark.

The sun will rise.

This and so many inspirational articles can be found on Ann’s website at https://annvoskamp.com/

07.17.18 When You’re Tired of Pretending Everything’s Okay, by Ann Voskamp

As always, Ann Voskamp reminds us about “The One” who is always there for us!

So you can look up at the calendar today and exhale:

It’s okay to feel bone tired — you have One who gives His bone and His body for you and beckoned: Come Rest.

It’s okay to feel disillusioned — you have One who destroys cheap illusions of perfection and offers you His.

It’s okay to feel done — you have One who listens to the last nail be driven in and proclaims all the hellish things finished.

It’s okay to feel battered and bruised — you have One who storms your battles, takes back everything that needs a comeback, and proves His side won.

It’s okay to feel a bit like a fool — you have One who proves that real love always makes anyone the wisest fool who gives more, lives more, forgives more, because love defies logic, because love is the self-giving, cruciform foolishness that is the ultimate wisdom of the universe.

It’s okay to feel behind — you have One who is the Head and the Author and the Maker and the Finisher and the Carrier and the Warrior and nothing is over until He carries you over the finish line.

It’s okay to feel on the outside — you have One who is passionate about you on the inside, who wants to be with you so desperately, He moves into you, gets into your skin, so you’re never alone, dwells in you, moves into your empty places, your rejected places, your abandoned places and fills you with chosenness and wholeness and withness — because He knows the fulfilled life is an inside job.

It’s okay to feel spent — you have One who pays you all His attention, who says you are worth costing Him everything — and then He bought you back from the pit because you are priceless to Him.

It’s okay to feel whatever you feel — “because you don’t judge your feelings; you feel your feelings—and then give them to God.”

“Feelings are meant be fully felt and then fully surrendered to God.”

“Pain begs to be felt—or life will beg you to feel not one emotion at all. Emotion means movement — and emotions are meant to move you toward God.” ~ The Broken Way

It’s okay to not feel okay — because you have One — who made you His one.

You have One who left the clamor of the 99, to find you, remind you, remake you, rename you, release you.

You have One who is more ready to forgive what you’ve done, than you are to forget,

One who is more ready to give you grace, than you are to give up,

One who is more than ready to always stand with you, than you are to run.

One who is a greater lover, rescuer, saviour, friend— than you have ever imagined Him to be even when your love for Him is most on fire.

This week, these worries, this world, may leave you feeling a bit depressed — but you have a God who is obsessed with you.

His love for you is magnetic, His welcome of you is galactic, His purpose through you is cosmic, His commitment to you is stratospheric, and His hope in you is meteoric.

It’s beautiful how that goes:

Whatever the story is today — it’s okay. Because we know the ending — and how it will be the beginning of the truest happily ever after.

Whatever the story is today — it’s okay. Because the Writer of the story has written Himself into the hardest places of yours and is softening the edges of everything with redeeming grace.

Click on Ann’s logo below to go to her website

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Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

 

 

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05.27.17 The real secret sauce when life, parenting, & people are hard, by Ann VosKamp

Saturday, May 27, 2017 –  If you’ve been reading our blog for a while you’ve probably picked up on the fact that Ann VosKamp’s website, A Holy Experience, is one of my favorite source of inspiration and I think very highly of her writing.  Today’s blog immediately struck me as something young mother’s should read.  I remember the challenges of raising little ones in this world.  Ann has several children and the honesty of her writing may help someone.  Feel free to pass this along to someone you care for.

These two sentences below are found way down in the article but the importance of the message made me copy it and include it here so you don’t miss it.

It’s his eyes — if you’ve put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of the Lord? Joy isn’t an optional feature to the Christian life — it’s the vital feature of the Christian life.

I highly encourage everyone to go to her site, spend some time there.  You will be blessed!

the real secret sauce when life, parenting, & people are hard

Back then I said I’d never be like him.

I slammed doors to punctuate the point and to make sure my dad knew it.

You can be tall and 15 and think you know a lot of things.

And you don’t think about growing old and looking squishy around the middle and telling teenagers to just, please, turn out the lights.

You don’t think about how you can open your mouth and let the sharp side of your tongue tear the innards out of a soul —-

and there’s no way you can stuff the whole bloody mess back.

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I don’t know how it happened exactly.

Or maybe the truth rightly stated is — I really don’t want to remember.

How we were late, 35 minutes late, and when I got in the van they were all waiting, all 7 of them, waiting and squashed close in a mini-van that’s far too mini for lanky Dutch teenagers.

And early summer heat and and a clock ticking loud and, one late mother who can flare into this wide-eyed, wild agoraphobia when facing hours of finger food and paper plates and BBQ small talk with absolute strangers.

It got ugly.

A kid hadn’t ironed his shirt.

Over the course of a whole hour and ten minutes of hunting down socks and doing up hair and scouring for one battered croc — and telling my jangled it’s-time-to-go-nerves a dozen times that all fear is fraud and nowhere on earth is beyond the reach of God — I had told the boy at least 5 times, that he really did have to iron that shirt.

And then, 35 minutes late, he’s in the van looking like he’s rolled with a bunch of wombats to Timbuktu and back.

Maybe I should have shrugged the shoulders?

Maybe I should have said it didn’t matter, let’s just go? But I had asked him – five times. More like 5.8975 times and in this insistent, your-mama-she-means-business-voice.

So, to a van full of the waiting and the hot and the frustrated, I say No Ma’am. No ma’am, we are not going like that. Back into the house and you have. to. iron. that. shirt.

And the kid starts wailing. At mock pitch levels. Like I’d just announced an imminent amputation of a necessary limb or the banning of all birthdays for the rest of his breathing existence.

And every nerve ending in this highly sensitive body is already feeling unraveled and gory and I don’t even want to go to this thing and I feel the iron weight of time and kids and expectations all pressing down on the lung and his howl is jet thunder in the frayed veins.

And I turn hard toward the bawling kid.

Out.

I’m not proud that I can hiss.

Here’s, right here, it’d be real convenient to claim I wasn’t thinking straight, that some tightening screw had somewhere loosened….

But it’s been said and I’ve laid up nights, thinking about it, and it’s true and I say it like this: No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water. When you’re upset, you upset what’s really in you. 

I grab the boy’s arm and lean in close to his face. His wracking sobs are hot and hard in my face.

And I’m gnawing. Gnawing on the side of lip, pulling on my mouth like I’m trying to hold something back, like I’m trying to chew through to something better than this – better than him.

How can you have held the child that came from you as an ember of very heaven and then glare blind angry and stomp him right out? Who can look into a child and forget miracle?

Me — the amnesiac mother who forgets holy all the time.

I lean in and over, gnaw like a wild thing, and the kid pulls back and wracks it out like this haunt — like this high and holy haunt.

“When … you… do… that…” His shoulders heave, chocking back all this heart water right undammed.

“When… you… chew… your lip like that?” He wipes his face with the back of his arm. “You … look… just… like… Grandpa Morton.”

And there’s no air in my lungs.

I’ve caved, in a moment everything’s caved.

Like him? Like my Dad? 

It’s like a flashing supernova, the look in a child’s eyes and there’s a flaring mirror and you see you are everything you’d said you’d never become.

You can become everything that once undid you.

I’m right tipped, upset and know who I really am and what really spills, and here is why I’ll never stop being a grace beggar, a wild Cross-clinger.

“Please… Don’t… Do… That…” The poor child can’t stop the heaving of his shoulders, his heart.

I’m undone now — undammed.

And feeling so damned.

How can grace get a hold of you — when the past won’t let go of you? 

How do you leave a legacy different than the one you’ve been left? That’s what I’ve got to gnaw through to. How do you mangle the ones you love most?

“Sor…ry… Mama… didn’t… mean… to make you… cry.” And he’s the one who can’t stop.

And I kneel down and let go of his arm. And I hold his face. That’s what I should have done, done right at the beginning. What would happen in a world where anger was your flag to reach out and cup a face?

He looks so scared and wrung and thin — every child’s a thin place.  I see God.

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And that’s what comes:

If you don’t fight for joy, it’s your children who lose.

What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?

You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.

His cheeks in my palms, they’re so white, so wet.

It’s his eyes — if you’ve put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of the Lord?Joy isn’t an optional feature to the Christian life — it’s the vital feature of the Christian life.

Battle for joy or lose your life.Or other’s lose theirs.

And I whisper sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry… and hold hold his face close.  I tell the boy I know nothing yet, nothing.

Every ungracious moment means someone doesn’t fully yet understand grace.

And the boy crumbles into me and I hold onto him and a forgiveness I’ll never deserve and there’s a grace that can hold us, that can mold us, the way joy can bend you soft at all the joints.

And I murmur it into the thick of his hair — that even now He can still make us like Him.

The boy touches my cheek like a flag waving yes.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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Some Things I Learned About Dementia published randomly

 

05.10.14 So God Made a Mother

happy mothers dayHappy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers I’m blessed to know.

A special Happy Mother’s Day to the three young women who have blessed us with grandchildren, Kim, our oldest son’s wife who he requested that we do not use their names and Liz.  Kim’s two boys are Braxton and Bentley.  Liz’s daughter is Madisyn. Our oldest son and wife (whom requested that we do not use their names) gave birth to theit fourth child Gracie Jane who joined Ella, Jacob and Caroline.  We started with two sons and our family has grown to a dozen with Roy and I, the grandparents, our sons and their and spouses, and our grandchildren.

My own mom, Josie Mae Cochran Blum Traylor, is now with God and I miss her every day.  Happy Mother’s Day Mama!

 

so god made a mother

The graphic above was created by Ann Voskamp, whose writing you know I admire greatly.  The full version of her beautiful Mother’s Day blog:

“To all The Giving Mothers: So God Made A Mother”

can be read at http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/05/to-all-the-giving-mothers-so-god-made-a-mother/

One of our newest grand babies (not officially yet, but he is in our heart) Braxton is in the hospital in St. Tammany with Pneumonia and RSV.  His mom Kim and our son Chip are with him and will be staying with him overnight so Kim’s Mother’s Day will be spent mostly in the hospital with her little one.  Kim is an amazing mom to her twin boys and cares for our Madisyn in such a loving way. We’re very thankful to have her in our lives.

I love both of my sons and will miss them on Mother’s Day.

In case you don’t go to Ann’s site to read her blog I want to share a favorite part of it here.

God said I need somebody who can shape a soul and find shoes on Sunday mornings and get grass stains out of Levis.

And make dinner out of nothing and do it again 79, 678 times, and keep kids off the road and out of the toilet and in clean underwear and mainly alive though she’s mainly losing her mind and will put in an 80 hour week by Wednesday night and just do one more load of laundry.

And one more sink of crusted burnt pots.

And keep on going another eighty hours because raising generations matters and weaving families matters and tying heart strings matters and these people here in hidden places matter.

So God made a mother…

Happy Mother’s Day! Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!

02.07.14 How to Begin Forgiving Our Parents, a reposted blog by Ann Voskamp

As I saw comfortably in my rocker outside our RV this afternoon, after making camp in Marianna, Florida, I came across the blog below.  It hit me straight in my heart and wanted to share it in case it reaches out to someone in a broken family relationship.

You may recognize this blog from previous times that I’ve shared posts Ann Voskamp wrote that touched me deeply. This time the story comes from someone else.  It starts off like this:

How to Begin Forgiving Our Parents: Becoming Human

Today, an author, friend, another mama of 6, living not off land, but sea, a woman of deep wisdom and whom I hold in the highest esteem — Leslie Leyland Fields is on the farm’s front porch with a needed story on forgiving our parents:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/02/how-to-begin-forgiving-our-parents-becoming-human/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29

Remember that those who gave you life will love you until the day they die, no matter what has happened along the way.

I hope each of you has a restful, revitalizing weekend, spending time with God our Maker and Redeemer!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

05.10.13 Why Mother’s Day is for the Birds, a link to a blog by Ann Voskamp.

Why Mother’s Day is for the Birds.  A beautifully written blog by Ann Voskamp.  It touched my heart as I read it and I believe it may touch yours.  Mother’s have much expected of us yet we truly are ordinary women who struggle and work hard to be the Mother’s that we are.  I love how she put all this and wanted to share it in honor of Mother’s Day weekend.  Have a very blessed Mother’s Day to all you ladies who wear that title proudly!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/05/why-mothers-day-is-for-the-birds/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29