Posted by jael on Aug 8, 2011 in Parenting, Spiritual Journey

Pappaw, The Husband’s paternal grandfather, never threw anything away.

As a mechanic and farmer, it was impossible to convince him that what most people would consider to be garbage, let’s say the ancient, dust-covered, treadmill that wore a spider web shall and had a squirrel’s nest under the buckled belt and lived on his crowded porch.

Something of a Hoarder show candidate before that reality ever hit television, he was convinced he could use castoffs for something handy.  As he was brilliant with tools and could fix anything with a motor, this was too often true to lend credibility to any foolish soul outlandish enough to suggest he declutter things.

As an in-law and a wiper, I am certain you can appreciate the tension each time I visited the farm.  It was a front of Windex that collided with a Force of Smudge, in  other words, a complete festival of futility.

Happily, we delighted in each other and it was a constant source of banter between us. He’d complain that I don’t know how to sit still and begged me would I please stop wiping stuff and I’d chide back I’d comply as soon as he’d stop making messes.

Mutually loving and genuinely warm, it was nonetheless a stand-off.

It should have come as no surprise to me then that one of the things that journeyed home with us after his funeral was a barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

Auntie  J insisted that we take it back with us and that Pappaw would have wanted it in our new home.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

I was touched?

The gesture so charged irony with hilarity that I was all in.

So I watered it.
and faithfully.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

And as I’m convinced only Pappaw surly believed that it would,

It grew
and grew,
and grew,
Just like The Giving Tree.

In the end, that hunk of stump propagated four planters of towering tall, vibrant trees, the same number we bore children.

As some of you know, it is illegal to transport plants into Grapefruit. I was obedient and gifted my most precious plants to dear friends as keepsakes of how our families and homes have forever intersected through living, vital, transplantable relationships of the heart.

98% faithful.

I snuck one planter across the border.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.


We named him Sprout.
I claim him as fruit.
The fulfillment of a promise
there’s a place here for us.

I look at his tender shoots as fragile as a newborn next to a stump as crooked and stooped over as an centurion’s spine and see bookends.

Sprout’s our sabbatical here all new and floppy. We have to support his little head and touch him like novice parents afraid they’re going to break the baby.

Stump’s a reminder of our community and home there. His roots sink deep. He’s anchored and stable. Nothing can blow him apart or knock him down. He’s strong, established and seasoned.

He’s got a Legacy.

I was a dead bulb when you met me.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

You sent me forth more like Stump with roots I can sink deep wherever He is.

You helped me change our family tree.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah


Triple-Hog Dare Over a Barrel of Cheese

Posted by jael on Aug 7, 2011 in Arts and Entertainment, Spiritual Journey

A friend as beloved to me as is John to Christ gave me a precious gift for our ride on this new wave of Grace into another place.

She delivered it right to my door, better and fresher than any Domino’s pizza ever.

It came inscribed with words of love and a dare.

If you were as fortunate to know her as I do, you’d be certain without me telling you that when this lady dares me to do something, it’s likely to be a double-dog dare that I never ever would have volunteered for in my own strength!

She honored me with my own copy of one thousand gifts, Ann Voskamp’s own dare to The Body to LIVE FULLY right where you are.

She knew not only that I would adore it, but also that I would need it in this neon crayon land of hurricanes and flat landscapes so smooth that they make shelf paper look like ski slopes.

She trusted to me to understand that it was more than just another inspirational title,

but also the freedom to map my mind,
the invitation to transfuse my attitude with gratitude,
the inspriation to discern a God-incident from a coincidence,
the lyrical hug of a well-painted phrase,
the sweet assurance of Glory’s side,
the bursting open the Word like a first born son,
the thrill of vanilla extract in a freshly scrubbed cupboard,
Splenda on the top of the first morning’s box at coffee time,
the stark reminder that survivor’s have scars,
and the sultry, tangerine dawn of certain hope.

Never one to back down from a dare, especially a double-dog dare from a heart like John’s, I have invested this past week of tears, attacks and work to seek His face as industriously as you know I have also organized our lemon blaze kitchen and stalked innocent boxes like a hungry leopard.

I’ve found Jesus is not so good at hide-and-seek.

He’s everywhere,
and ever,
when I simply stop
and look for Him
as constant
as His Promises.

My Jesus is just too shiny to be any good at hide-and-seek.

And so my beloved ones,
I dare you.
I double-dog dare you.
I triple-hog dare you over a barrel of cheese…

LIVE FULLY right where you are.

Get a pad of paper or journal.

And get ready to take notes.
and lots
and lots
of notes
like a Homeric catalogue
as His Name is Holy
and He loves
you as much as me.

You are His
own beloved.

You’ll find Him there right where you are, blessing your life with gifts of love just for you.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah


Got Me?

Posted by jael on Aug 4, 2011 in Marriage, Spiritual Journey

It’s almost a year ago now that I logged my first post on bh.

Less than 365 days ago, my ecstatic children were blitzed out on cheese balls and body surfed Virginia Beach whitecaps. We huddled together in a sleazy ocean front motel like it was Cinderella’s castle as happy there together as a honeymoon couple and completely inoculated by the joy of possibilities.

We were at the beach, baby, and no amount of sand or windburn could dampen the elation housed in that little Eco-Lounge den. I can remember the discovery of unexpected secrets about my children there, and how when Far Far Away together they were more unified as friends and confidants. As I reported then, there’s little privacy when six family members share one hotel room.

July abdicated to August this past Saturday night and found us in another cheap hotel room together for an entirely new purpose, this time a Holiday Inn chosen because its chain welcomes pets, and of course, our two cats were part of the caravan from Here to There.

That was the day that we began the journey of God’s new call on our lives in the Land of Citrus.

As many of you know, this new beginning seasoned in the barrel of dense family process before it decanted action.  The cup now poured has begun to breathe.

Insomnia courted me again that night we reached the Holiday Inn closest to the midpoint of the journey like a jealous lover. I was its captive date among the sleeping noises of my beloved family. Once again, I learned many things about them in the room that night as the cats marched likes grunts on a hostile recon mission.

The Baby whistled in her sleep, a breathy percussion like a locomotive puffing up mountainous tracks. She stirred and tossed her head as she played the scales of her dream engine like a child at violin practice. Her baby face painted a portrait of innocence on her pillow case canvas. When did she get so tall and lean? Her coltish legs, brown and bruised, were tawny from swimming and tag. Even in the still of sleep, she looked ready to leap.

Unbeknownst to The Boy, he terrorized his nocturnal feline. Every time his beloved River returned to his corner of the room for comfort or in hope of a pat, he growled a ruffle-bumble that snorted like an irritated horse. This scared and confused his cat at every checkpoint, and once she jumped back in such outraged, feline surprise that I had to muffle my laughter with the pillow. I often forget that The Boy is now man-big and he often scares me when I catch his stranger profile in the room with me. That night, my terror was complete as his baritone clearly proclaimed, “I have to move to our new home…!”

I’m still not sure who he was talking to as he hibernated, but he was as earnest as Hemingway and sounded ready to run with the bulls.

The Oldest Girl talks in her sleep. As I prayed for her, I watched her eyes pace back and forth, her closed lids like sentinels on a wall. At one point, she sat straight up in bed with her right arm extended as if in praise and said, “Please!”

Whom did she petition?
I hope her prayer was answered.
I so want this heavenly girl to live happy ever after.

The Middle Girl? The Middle Girl grinds her teeth at night.


I couldn’t help but imagine the gruff grumble of Jack’s giant, “Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! 
Be he alive, or be he dead, 
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”

The Middle Girl internalizes her experience. I pray space for her voice and truth through this transition.

The Husband is silent.
A wall of comfort and provision.
and at rest.
He is my  warm blanket and guaranteed security.

The Husband is neither surprised nor grumpy when I wake him at 3:28 a.m. to tell him, “Cant sleep, will you hold me for a little while?”

“You got me?” I ask him.

“I got you.”


“I got you, baby.”

And Our Father does too.
And His plan is to prosper and not to harm us.
And it’s a good plan, not easy, but good.
And I have faith small as a mustard seed.
And I can say to Geography, “Move from here to there and it will be.”

I left one place.

I did not leave home.

I am His.
And his.
And theirs.
And yours.

I’m right here.

Love wins.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

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