Archives for July 2011

Five Minute Friday: Still

It’s Friday (almost – I am in CA, after all) and I’ve completed one half of my two week in-residence training program in spiritual direction. (year one of two) I am stuffed so full, I can hardly move and it is just impossible to digest it well enough to post about at this juncture. So I sigh with relief at a prompt from Lisa – Jo = something outside the parameters of my life just now. Although I imagine that THIS prompt will resonate with some of what’s happening in me just now.  The word this week? STILL

Only this week, she’s sending out the prompt from {In}Courage and their link is this: 


I am still tall.  

I am still older than I feel. 

I am still heavier than I wish – though not as much so as one  year ago. 

I am still married. 

I am still a mom, a grandmom, a friend, a daughter, a learner, a follower of Jesus, a struggler. 

I am still a lover of beauty, of words, of bodies of water, most especially the ocean, of small children with their sweet smiles and delightful openness. 

I am still not a coffee drinker, not a wine drinker, not a cigarette smoker, not an athlete. 

I am still learning what it means to be among the last, the lost, the least, the littlest – those who are sought by the shepherd, those who are true residents of the kingdom. I am still puzzled and intrigued and frustrated at times by the upside down nature of the kingdom of God. 

I am still learning how to be still. Getting better at it with age and practice, but always and forever a learner, amen. 

I am still amazed at how blessed I am. 

I am still wondering what heaven is like. I mean the details, please. 

I am still me – but I am still discovering who she is. And I hope I always will be.


That’s ALL I got tonight, folks. Wow, I’m tired. Here’s a little peek at my home for these two weeks – got them uploaded but not yet labeled or edited much. Soon…I hope…soon, I will post a few reflective and illustrated posts about it all. It’s all good – just a whole lot of it.

When a Bump in the Road Isn’t…

O’Connor Road, San Luis Obispo CA

You’re heading in a particular direction, one you’ve worked toward, dreamed about, worried over, struggled to find. And out of the blue – WHAM! – you hit a major bump in the road. Suddenly a big old DETOUR sign looms in front of you and you’re left wondering, “What the heck was that??” 

Has this ever happened to you? 

It’s happened to me – more than once – but this particular story happened almost 10 years ago. Enough time has passed for me to be able to look back and see that this bump in the road turned out to be anything but a detour…

I’m writing today at the kind invitation of Michelle DeRusha over at her wonderful blog, Graceful

Just click on the link and head on over there to read about a lesson learned in a tough time, a lesson of grace and redemption and thanksgiving… And while you’re there, check out Michelle’s wonderful writing and gorgeous photographs. She’s on a grand journey of discovery and I know you’ll love reading about her, her family, her writing, her life in Nebraska.


Kind friends – I am about 1/3 of the way through an intense two week training program in spiritual direction. I am living in community, attending amazing lectures, worshipping every day at 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and gaining some wonderful insights into what monastic life is like. (Well…at least, a little bit…) That doesn’t leave much room for reflection. I am hoping to get at least one post in this week, trying to capture for you what this experience is like. There is enough richness here to fill this blog for months, so I’d appreciate prayers for openness, stamina and discernment as I continue to immerse myself in what the Holy Spirit has for me here.  Thank you.

Five Minute Friday: Full…

Here we are again – it’s Friday! And Lisa-Jo is back from her 3-week visit with family in South Africa and she’s given us a lovely prompt for today – here it is in her own words:

On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.

We love to  just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. For five minutes flat.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my right side bar}.

3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:



To the brim today, that’s what full feels like. To the brim with gratitude, exhaustion, joy, celebration, connection, happy pride, all mixed together with some trepidation, uncertainty, unworthiness  and yes, I’ll name it – fear.

The happy-full feelings are the residue of a lovely weekend of wedding, a small miracle story in our family circle which I’ve written about here and here and yes, also here. {it took 3 to get all the photos in!} Such a sweet story, such a sweet day. My grateful heart sings with joy at this denouement to what was for so many years a story of sadness. And I am so grateful to and for my family, I cannot find the words. EVERYONE worked hard to make this story happen – from my 90-year-old mom to my brother and his wife to all my kids and their kids to a few good friends who are like family to us. It was a good, good time.

The anxious-full feelings come because today I begin a 2-week in residence training program on my way to becoming a spiritual director. The anxiety is not huge, but the uncertainty and perhaps…curiosity…are huge. I began going down this road in a completely different direction, so this part is new and I am full of wonderment about how I got here.



Weekend Wedding Celebrations – Part Three – The People

This is the third in a series of multiple posts about our family celebrations this past weekend. Please prepare yourselves for a whole lot of scrolling and tons of pictures in each one! I’m joining with Emily W at canvaschild, with Bonnie G at FaithBarista and with Ann V at AHolyExperience for their weekly invitation to share about our faith walk:


 The transformation in the gathering space seemed almost miraculous to us as we worked together to create a place of welcome and warmth. And by the time we had done all that we could do, we were feeling more than a little bit fried around the edges. Fortunately, there are places called ‘beauty salons’ available to the female of the species and hot showers, fancy attire and small-spaces-for putting-feet-up available to all! Gracie joined us for hair-do time and watching her curls come together was a highlight of the whole day.

 Our middle daughter getting a sleek up-do to show off that lovely long neck…
My beautiful mama got even lovelier after 45 minutes in the magic chair…
 Gracie’s mama radiating her usual beautiful self…
 pink sparkly nail polish to go with those curls…
 …and a group shot with a breathless, tired bride who was the last to arrive for her makeover.
 The ring-bearer looking spiffy just before we left for the church…
 Among the jewels in our family crown – these two have been such a source of life and hope for our entire circle, arriving as they did during the beginning of Lisa’s first husband’s long, slow decline. They are exactly one month and one day apart in age and most of the time, they are bestest friends.
 Griffin getting a last minute touch-up from dad.
 And Gracie, looking lovely from the back as well as the front.
 I just love the crossed ankles and hands in the pockets here…
 Poppy bringing our littlest girl up for some pictures…
 She was not a huge fan of this slightly-too-large dress that matched her sister’s, but I was lucky enough to get a few cute shots before she shed it!

 Dick and I cleaned up pretty well, too…
 …and our baker boy was just too handsome for words.
 I don’t think I’ve ever seen our daughter looking more radiant than she did that afternoon before, during and after the ceremony. There is the scent of miracle in this whole story and her face reflected that all day long. (Her eldest son is behind her – he was the official portrait photographer for the day, renting a fabulous lens and some lighting help for outdoor shooting. This kid is a pro at this and if I ever get any of those shots, I’ll post a couple, I promise.)

 A quiet moment before the service – we pulled all the wooden benches on the church campus around the eating area and Lisa brought pillows and blankets from home to help create a welcoming, casually elegant ambience.

Just a couple of shots from the more private part of the day, the worship service in which these two became one in the Lord. But take a gander at what was going on in the seat beside me: Gracie was drawing what she saw while we watched the marriage happen.  Pretty good eye for detail for a 5-year-old, don’t you think?? She got the lacing on Lisa’s dress, the candelabra to the side, the flowers behind and Karl’s long hair (although he is more roughly drawn :>)

The family lighting the candle together.
 A sweet kiss.
 The presentation to the congregation…
 …and the exit to the waiting world.
 And then it was time to eat! Lisa bought all the ingredients for a fabulous platter of antipasto appetizers on each table and her dad and brother assembled them earlier in the day. The weather was so gloriously beautiful, however, that folks took a while to meander to their tables and actually enjoy it!
 The food was fun and fabulous – a transportable wood-burning pizza oven churned out five varieties of vegetarian pizzas for about 2 hours.  Our favorites were the eggplant parmigiana and the Yukon gold potato/dill.
 Our amazingly gifted worship pastor provided mellow music the entire evening.
 Lisa and Karl cut the cake, homemade by a long-time friend of ours and just part of a wonderful dessert buffet:
Joel’s cupcakes, three kinds of pies from a wonderful house-shop nearby, an ice cream bar with 10 kinds of toppings and personalized candy kisses.
 As the evening deepened, the light from the lanterns added an almost magical, soft glow to everything, the fireplace of our church gazebo crackled invitingly and everyone felt glad and grateful to be there.

 We give thanks and glory to God for this – and for every – part of our family story. In the valley of despair, we clung with all our might to the presence of God, grateful for any small bursts of light and hope along the road. There were moments along that way when darkness seemed to cover the entire earth, and I will admit to some real doubt that we would ever see the dawn again. Yet here we are, on this side of that particular valley, blinded by the light of this hopeful season of renewal. May God grant them a long, fruitful life together with many rich memories of this weekend of love and celebration. 

Weekend Wedding Celebrations – Part Two – Preparing the Place

This is the second of what is turning out to be multiple posts about our family celebrations this past weekend. Please prepare yourselves for a whole lot of scrolling and tons of pictures in each one! I’m joining with Emily W at canvaschild, with Bonnie G at FaithBarista and with Ann V at AHolyExperience for their weekly invitation to share about our faith walk:


A wedding provides a special opportunity for a whole lot of good stuff to happen. Family and friends gather from far and wide and there is good work to do together, work that involves careful thought and planning ahead of time. But also a lot of in-the-moment work whose primary purpose is to provide a sense of welcome, of beauty, of gracious invitation and joyous celebration. And that’s exactly what our 13-hour day on Saturday was designed to do.

I cannot even begin to put into words how deeply satisfying it was to see all of our kids and grandkids dive in with both feet to help create a beautiful day. Everybody worked very hard indeed and the end result was pure delight.
We began by meeting the rental truck at the church at 9:00 a.m., schlepping crates of china, stacks of folding chairs, and table linens to the tables 
we had set up the day before.

 Joel, our 12-year-old incipient pastry chef, had baked his heart out with three varieties of luscious mini-cupcakes waiting to be frosted.

 The guys began stringing paper lanterns through the oak trees and along the edges of the colonnades, the women set out the linens and silverware and everyone dragged chairs to tables.

As the day progressed, we hung a couple of directional signs (our church is up in the hills and often hard to find),

got those cupcakes frosted and decorated,

strung table assignments interspersed with 
photos of the bride and groom as children,

and watched with gratitude as the space was gradually transformed into a lovely outdoor dining venue. The florist arrived and did her amazing work and the dessert and beverage tables sparkled with promise of good things to come…

And then there was the glorious transformation of the worship space to appreciate. Flowers are such gifts of God, aren’t they?
In another life, I worked as a florist for about seven years, so I know the back-breaking labor that goes into producing floral work for any kind of wedding or large-scale social gathering. When I did this work, I often found myself praying for the bride and groom or the party hosts, and praying for my own participation in their event – that my contribution would help reflect the beauty and gracious hospitality of our God. This kind and gifted woman’s work most assuredly did that.
Everything was lovingly and beautifully done.

 The beautiful wooden candle holders on the altar table were handcrafted by the groom for this occasion – an arch of 5 tapers, each one representing the members of this newly forming family, and a single unlit pillar candle which they would light together during the service.

 But the heart of any wedding is the people involved. Next up – a peek at the transformation from work clothes to wedding clothes as we got ourselves beautified to match this space!

Weekend Wedding Celebrations, Part One

Well, it’s been a wonderful – and TIRING – few days. But the pictures have been edited and tonight and tomorrow I’m posting in pieces about our weekend celebrations. First, a look at day one – Friday’s preparations and Rehearsal Dinner.  Because we snuck some fun things into that day, I’m joining with Laura B at TheWellspring for her Playdates meme and also with LLBarkat at SeedlingsinStone,  because we worked to create a sense of welcoming place at our home that evening.
On In Around button
Four generations asleep under our roof on Thursday,
gathered to help make dreams come true. 
Three carloads pulled in on Friday morning, 
piled high with hope and happy spirits, 
cupcakes and folding chairs and miles of blue ribbon. 
The morning was overcast, 
making the physical work of the early day easier, 
so we set up tables and chairs across the yard,
spreading small votive cubes and large pillars in hurricanes across the tops 
of blue and yellow Provence print tablecloths.
And then the female cohort took a couple of hours for spa time.
Mani-pedi spa time, that is…followed by a quick lunch together.
Assorted errands, a change of clothes, setting up more tables – this time on the church patio – brought us to the rehearsal.
Our five-year-olds practiced bearing rings and dropping petals, the bride’s sons (the only attendants) learned the ropes, I figured out where to stand for my small part in the service, the bride and groom-to-be looked radiant and amazingly calm.
Dinner had arrived when we returned home, 
and forty friends and family gathered to ask God’s blessing 
on the food and the festivities. 
The summer fog had cleared, 
leaving a beautiful blue sky that slowly turned to navy 
as the evening wound down.
The bride’s father and brother started the fire in plenty of time to let the coals settle down into just the right temperature for S’Mores later in the evening.
Friends and family from as far away as upstate New York, Arizona, and Seattle settled in for some story telling and laughter as the twilight deepened.
The younger crowd preferred to dine on the blanket, picnic style.
And the coals ripened to the perfect degree of doneness.
As the sky turned rosy, the sticks went into the fire, loaded with gooey goodness, and everyone under the age of 10 enjoyed concoctions of their own design – with dark chocolate Reese’s being the favorite of most.
These gorgeous boots, polished to a high gloss, adorned the feet of the groom’s step-dad – age 91! – who regaled us with jokes and stories all night long.
Our littlest one, sweet Lilly, enjoyed meeting cousins from across the country and almost drifted off as her mom gave her a fun ride across the lawn.
It was a fun and productive day 
followed by a lovely and relaxed evening – 
a good start to a memorable weekend.

Five Minute Friday: Loss

Wow. I have to admit that when I saw Lisa-Jo’s topic for this week – and read her own heart-rending story – I was stunned. At our house, I have multiple generations sleeping under our roof in preparation for a wonderful weekend of celebration. Our eldest daughter is getting married on Saturday and we’re hosting the rehearsal dinner here tomorrow. We’re printing programs and slicing bread and wrapping silverware in colorful napkins and getting ready to mark this milestone event in a lovely and unique way. But this day…this day comes after several years of pain, grief, chronic illness and heartbreak. This day is a gift of grace for our girl after so much suffering, suffering that is, quite literally, indescribable. So…five minutes on this topic just about makes me twist in a knot. I have no idea how it will play out in five minutes – just five minutes – no editing, no rewriting. 

But Lisa-Jo has given us grace this week- grace to take as long as we need. Let’s see how long that is.


It has been a long season of loss in our family. About eight years of death, illness, devastating natural events, and personal heartache. 

Loss has shown up in lots of ways:
     – from things that seem inconsequential in the larger scheme of things (like having a tooth pulled!);
     – to terrifying natural disasters (like two wildfires, requiring evacuation both times); 
     – to startling, gut-wrenching medical diagnoses (like prostate cancer, pulmonary emboli, Parkinson’s disease, alcohol-induced heart damage, Asperger’s syndrome, 5 days in the NICU, a 4-year-old’s broken femur, Alzheimer’s disease); 
     – to the long, slow, slogging kind of ultimate loss, the kind that happens when you are losing someone dear – bit by bit by bit, one agonizing piece at a time. 

And we’ve been down every one of those roads during these years, some of them multiple times. Every single one.

Perhaps I should not be surprised by the sad fact that in the midst of preparing for the festivities of the weekend ahead, I said out loud, “I hope I can remember how to ‘do’ happy.” 

Which is not to say that we haven’t experienced grace, respite, laughter, gratitude, redemption and Presence in and around each experience of loss. 

It is to say that these years have formed in us all, maybe most especially in me, a posture of leaning, leaning into God certainly – and that is a good thing. But also, a pattern of leaning into the stiffness of the wild wind – finding in myself an almost ingrained pattern of ‘bucking up,’ of standing tall and facing into whatever the heck comes.  Because a lot of crap has come down the pike and that’s what I’ve learned to do – to stand here, as steadily as my weak knees and trembling heart will allow – and say, “By the grace of God, I will survive. We will survive.” 

So (and believe me, this is taking one heckuva lot longer than 5 minutes to formulate!!) …this weekend, I hope we discover that we have not lost the capacity to truly celebrate. 

That we will be able to look at two people who are deeply in love, who are grateful every minute of every day that God has given them to each other and that we will find ourselves smiling from somewhere deep inside, saying: “Oh YES, God is good – all the time. All the time, God is good.” 

And to really, really mean it, from our toes right on up. 

After so many years of enduring, of bracing for yet another blow, another reminder that life is delicate, fragile and so SO easily lost, I am praying that during these days we can let loose the fears, the tears and the sadness that we all carry in our hearts and even in our bodies. That we can release that ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ feeling and just plain revel in the truth that something beautiful is right here in front of us. Something full of life, not death. Something full of promise, not loss. Something full of grace and beauty and wonder. 

We will experience loss again – this much I know. There is no escape. It is part of our story as human creatures on planet earth. But right now, right here – in the middle of this particular part of our family journey…there is the gift of celebration. Let the party begin!


This actually took about an hour to hammer out but I didn’t edit much – just tried to write. Each word hurt. But each word also began to break through that self-protective wall I too often hide behind. Maybe as I sleep this night and as I work around our house and yard tomorrow, and take ‘the girls’ for mani-pedis, and do my small piece in the wedding itself, and work with my husband and my kids and my grandkids to clean things up after the reception on Saturday – maybe that wall will just plain crumble on down.

Oh, and pray for our kids as they try to get outta Dodge for a honeymoon – carmageddon is happening between their house and the airport and they need a miracle to get them to their flight! How many of you had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to try and make a 9:00 o’clock flight the morning after your wedding??

 Their engagement picture, Easter time.


The Supper of Our Lord: Reconnecting…. a re-post

I read Ian Cron’s blog today, just as I put my feet up for a few minutes, preparing for the wonderful weekend ahead. On Saturday evening, our daughter will marry a good man. It is her second wedding. The first was 24 years ago when she was all of 19, and they knew when they married that his life would be a shorter-than-usual one. He found his eternal home in Jesus almost three years ago and there was a lot of pain and loss in the process of his dying. So to see and to celebrate happiness just now is gift – that’s the only word for it.

And Mr. Cron wrote a brief beautiful word today about the grace of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and I remembered this post from about 18 months ago.  I’ve reworked it a tiny bit and it’s too long – but it speaks to some of the down-deep joy we are all feeling just now.  To the grace of our God, to the goodness of life experienced through good times and hard times and to the promise of God’s faithful presence through all of it.

Originally posted in early January, 2010, before my retirement at the end of that year:

 It’s been such a strange holiday season this year.

My youngest brother died two months ago, almost exactly one year after our son-in-law died in 2008, and grief has taken hold of me in ways that surprise and stymie me. I’ve been feeling oddly removed from life – sort of like an observer rather than a participant. Tears are right behind my eyes much of the time, yet I find it exceedingly difficult to release them. 

My husband and I often find ourselves feeling numb and exhausted. Both of our mothers are slowly slipping away – one to dementia, one to blindness and grief, and we carry heavy hearts about them just about 24/7. I’ve had a couple of teeth yanked, reminding me in a particularly painful way that everyone’s body ages, everyone’s. And this year, for just about the first time ever, we did not decorate the house for Christmas in our usual over-the-top fashion. There was simply no energy or desire to do so. 

Our children are magnificent human beings, stepping into the space that our strangeness has created this year. Each daughter hosted family Christmas gatherings and our son and his family came to them all with sweet offerings of food and love. We are blessed in our kids and in our grandkids and we are grateful. 

And I have also been glad for the distraction and structure provided by my professional holiday responsibilities, yet I have felt distant even there – unable to connect in ways that are usual and meaningful. 

Writing public prayers has been the single richest blessing of the season this year – forcing me to engage with the weekly biblical text at a deeper level, engaging my mind and my spirit in something which requires me to step outside myself for a while. And stepping outside myself has been tough to do – I feel as though I’m walking through my days inside a roll of cotton batting, with sounds muffled and sights blurred. It has indeed been a strange season this year. 

So this morning’s worship experience was a gift of grace from which I am still vibrating tonight. 

I’ve been serving on the pastoral staff of Montecito Covenant Church for 13 years now, and for about 8 of those years, we enjoyed a candlelight communion service on Christmas Eve. It was usually the high point of the year for me – a culmination of another year of ministry, another year of this privileged life I lead – called to offer the love of God to a particular community of people in ways that are often intensely moving and deeply satisfying.

Each Christmas Eve, we offered the bread and the cup in a darkened room, brightened only by the small candles being lit as each communicant passed by the Christ candle. Many of these people I knew by name – most of them, in fact. And I knew their stories as well.

This dear woman lost her husband this year, that family struggled over a child’s problems with addiction, this one struggled financially, that one with a difficult medical diagnosis. As I handed out the body and blood of our Savior, each candlelit face reminded me of our connection to one another in this wonderful web of life and death and wonder we call the Christian faith. 

And I usually wept my way through that communion service. Tears of gratitude and joy, tears of humble acceptance of another year’s call to serve and support, tears of wonder at the sweet simplicity of the story, the tender love of the Savior who came as a wee one of us so that we might be called children of God. I have so missed those services! Something about rounding out the year with a full-face-to-face connection seemed to take away all the rough edges, the forgotten tasks, the missed opportunities. And I would always leave the sanctuary (or more accurately the gymnasium where we worshiped in those long ago days) feeling blessed right down to the ground.

But traditions differ from place to place and this particular one was not part of our new pastor’s experience, so we moved away from serving communion on Christmas Eve. We still light candles, we still have readings and carols and the evening is lovely. I just really miss that year-end contact with the whole community, where everyone lines up and walks by to receive the body and blood.

But today, on this first Sunday of the new year, we started what I hope and pray will be a new tradition – we had an Epiphany service, with a great word from the pastor, marvelous music (oboe, guitar, synth, piano – oh my!) and we offered communion a little bit differently than is our usual monthly habit.

Instead of passing the trays, we invited everyone to come forward, down the side aisles, to receive the bread and cup – and then to swirl their fingers in the baptismal font on their way back to their seats, a small physical act, a tactile reminder of our baptism, a way of reconnecting and re-committing and re-membering ourselves, as Madeleine L’Engle wrote it once, years ago.

I stood with that brass tray filled with tiny squares of bread, leaning forward to offer the body of Jesus to each person who came. And as I glanced up, I saw that the line curved its way all the way up the aisle, out the doors to the narthex and beyond, disappearing into a shaft of light from the bright sunshine outside. I was stunned by this image, moved in ways I’m not sure I can articulate. This brief snapshot of a glance pierced a part of my flesh and of my spirit that has no name, except maybe this one – soul. With that single look, I instantly remembered who I am and where I fit: I am part of a story, a wonderful redemptive, life-changing Story that goes backwards and forwards, stretches across time, across space, across spirit and flesh and memory and promise. And a small miracle happened in me – in all of me, soul, spirit, body: the tears came. The tears flowed.

As I glanced at each face – most of whom I knew by name – I was simply overcome by the goodness of God, by the gift of these people in my life, by the sweetness of this nourishment it is my privilege to offer to the people of God in this place. And I fully inhabited my body for the first time in weeks – I felt incredibly blessed – right down to the ground.

A dear friend noticed my tears and called today, leaving a message of concern on my phone. I have just written to reassure her that I am fine – more than fine…I am re-membered, I am in touch and in tune and amazed by grace. That’s what the sacraments are about, I think. And I am so grateful.

Scripture and a Snapshot – Refreshment

Through Katie Lloyd’s beautiful website, we are invited each week to submit one of our own photos, with a scripture verse that the photo elicits in us. Such a great idea and so fun to do.

Time away.
Once a month.
Three hours with others,
sitting or walking in silence,
communing with God by centering.
Then two hours all alone,
near the water,
Yes. That’s what soul restoration looks like
for me right now.
Each month, he leads me there.
He leads me deeper.
He leads me to myself,
to himself,
to the world. 
And it is good.

A “There and Back Again Reflection:” I Am From…

Somewhere in the bloghopping I do, I came across a written reflection called, “I Am From…” Turns out the original is from a writer named George Ella Lyons and is based on a template suggested in a book called, “Where I’m From: a poetry workshop-book for teachers and students.” The template for this reflection can be found at  This was tremendously interesting, fun and wistful to do and I urge anyone with a spare 3o minutes or so to check it out and give it a try.

I am linking with Charity Singleton’s project to promote community over at The High Calling called There and Back Again:

I’m also linking tonight with Bonnie Gray over at The Faith Barista for her weekly meme, which this week was about ‘whitespace.’  I took a little whitespace today, over a solitary lunch at Nordstrom’s Cafe, sitting on their patio and reading through the template for this reflection.  It was a rich time of remembering, of being grateful for my story and for God’s grace woven through it all.


I am from sidewalks, from Malt-O-Meal and Ovaltine;
I am from the dust of a brand-new backyard, ripe with
       horned toads and yellowing banana trees;
I am from calla lilies on the shady side of the house,
       from camellias and roses and fuschias, hanging low. 

I am from plum pudding and chickens in the yard,
       from Elsie and Pearl, short and tall, women of strength
       who found their way;
from Harry and Benjamin, broken men, who sometimes broke
       their children;
from Ruth and Ben, who took the best of all these and built a
       a home of love and learning and laughter. 

I am from too much worry about appearances, coupled with
       a deep desire for more of what is not seen;
From, “Beware the unguarded moment!” and “Oh, the beauty!
       The beauty!”
I am from old-time Methodism and communion at the rail
       and music that swirls and covers every ugly thing.
From memory work and sword drills and singing in the choir.
From strong preaching and too many rules and too much fear.
Yet I am also from honest questions, room for doubt and 
       good, deep thinking.
From C.S. Lewis and George Ladd and Paul Jewett and
       Henrietta Mears.
From ‘faggots on the fire,’ (1950’s speak for throwing twigs
       and giving testimony); and abstinence pledges made
       way too young.

I am from California by way of Arkansas and Canada;
from sour cream chocolate cake and chipped beef on toast.
From my father’s piano and my mother’s beauty,
       from tuberculosis and deep family feuds,
       from always learning, 
       from trying again, 
       from pushing deeper. 

In the cupboard, a brown bag filled with photos, old and 
       fading, and flowers pressed from long ago.
In the drawer, cherished jewelry, worth nothing more than
       the memories they carry.
I am from valiant stock, strong women and ever more 
       gentle men;
from love and hope, 
       faith and doubt, 
             curiosity and wonder:
all of it mixed together in some divine blender to give me this
       life, this gift, this heritage.