Of bouquets and brambles and bounty 4 you….

About twenty years ago,  when I was in the thick of trying to figure out
who am I in the strange and terrible beauty of this life,
coming on forty and wondering what of all that I believed was even true enough
to haul into the next season
– what was real
and what would hold the weight of all that I loved,

I had this powerful whisper of an experience.
It started soft like a low hum,  a glance of the clock on my old stove
landing neatly on 4:44.  My eyes liked the something-ness about it.
Early the next morning I woke with a start,  face to the bedside clock radio.
Again with the 4:44.
I felt my curiosity rustle.
It kept happening through the remainder of that year,
so many 4:44’s that my questions began to burn.
I was church-ing hard at that time and I prayed for answers and clues
about the gift I seemed always to be unwrapping
only to find another box inside,
wrapped in 4:44s.
What did it mean?
And what was I supposed to do with it?

Eventually,  instead of enjoying the experience,
it stressed me out (as did much of my inner life).
I figured I was missing something important – another deficit
in my spiritual account.
Secret fear:  God was trying to warn or correct me about something and I was too dull
to decode the memo.
If only I could discern the message and comply,  things wouldn’t be going so poorly for me.
Prayers would get answered.  Hurtful situations would heal.
That’s where I camped fearful.

That hard season was followed by a sweeter blossom of a time
and I got free from some fears.
Every now and then the 4:44 would pop up and I’d wonder still and hold it close to heart.
It felt more,  in that less constricted place,  like a stone that caught my eye
that I’d pick up and put in my box of special things.
For over almost two decade my eyes would often be drawn to clocks
just when the fours all lined up
like sunflowers waving tall against the blue.
I studied numbers and dream interpretation and all the hullaballoo,
but when I’d have a pray about it,  now more like an easy conversation,
the thought that would bubble up from my being
was simply this:  “I’m for you.  I’m for you.  I’m for you.”

Like God was winking into my insecurity and hesitation
and reassuring, “hey,  I’m for you.”
(maybe if you,  too,  come from a severe spiritual climate,
you can relate to the ingrained idea that God is mostly against).

Many years later, just as the sun began to go down on 2020,
all the fours began lining up persistent across my clock faces again.
For about four days they hummed and then trouble came sweeping
and I felt carried downriver by the blast.
I don’t need to sing you all the details,  just that all my fear-buttons got pressed hard.

These numbers.  Like old friends.
They felt familiar,  showing up like a strong Dad on a dark lonesome road
with a spare tire and a torch and time and skill and love to spend.
4:44
I’m for you.
I’ve got you.
Hold tight my hand.
I’m right here.

I gimped into 2021 without a word for the year – didn’t even want one.
No head space for that.
I did feel inspired to start a creative challenge (a bouquet a day) and
noticed the number 4  showing up in my art in droves once we moved and I got back at it.
Then,  as my little challenge started to unfold (i share it on fb),
I noticed I was beginning every share with “For you.”
Well dang.  There it is.  Once again I backed into my one little word for the year.
Only this year it’s also a number.
So,  way late to the new year’s share but toddling in just the same
(always the late bloomer),
my one little word: the number 4.

Because it’s been a slow unfolding, this peaceful confidence,
that shitstorms in my life don’t define me.
That trouble doesn’t tell me who I am,
especially who I am to the One who is for me with warm affection,
even when I’m bent low by a cold wind passing.

I think that’s what’s growing in my garden this year;
I’ll come around to share what blooms.

“We unwittingly project onto God
our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves…
but we cannot assume that he feels about us the way we feel about ourselves
—unless we love ourselves passionately,  intensely,  and freely.”
– Brennan Manning

And
Congrats to Judy Hartman
for winning a copy of my book in last post’s giveaway.
Another drawing this post,
a little packet of handmade cards,  all originals.
Nice and textured and unique and with beautiful soft envelopes.
Leave a comment and into the hat your name goes.
(I hope to come back to you way sooner this time)

The ocean in my cup…

And so I got a taste of something so good that my hunger gnawed away at any satisfaction
i may have found in other things.
Such a sweet-tooth for this God-thing that I chased intense experiences,
and when they didn’t fill me up,
I went looking to the experts to see what they knew,
the ones whose faces seemed flush with this light
– wanted to scoot up close to those who seemed to carry his faraway scent
and when I found a cluster of people whose believing seemed to give them joy,
I leaned into the process, drawn in and open.

I did Christianity as I saw it,
did it so hard that I blew out my be
wanting so bad to fit in that I followed along fearful,
determined to please God big so I wouldn’t be left out again.
Made myself so useful that I’d surely be noticed and not lose again
that something that I’d felt wash over me warm like a living breeze.
I did God the only way I knew – I do for you and you don’t leave me.

But,  damn my whoopsy-daisy ways,  I could never walk that line tight enough
or check enough boxes off neat or merit the joy that seemed reserved for the naturals.
The best I could manage was the little self-righteous rush that came with a longer than usual
run of good behavior.   Or with my spastic dance with good intentions.

My heart hungered for God but I got lost in the hard trying.
Religion can be a smoky haze that way,
how it chokes and bends the music of Love
until you get to thinking that you’re the one
who keeps your whole world spinning –
that you earn this grace
by what you do or give.

It was failure and frustration and an almost frantic striving
and all my hard trying couldn’t pull off a shred of peace
until I dropped down tired from all the don’ts and driven doing
and went palms up and sweet surrender and could you love a girl like me?

And then You flickered on my frozen world like a dancing flame,
a strong shot of light that warmed the cold steel of my pain
until my breath turned to embers and this heart beat strong again
singing love and laughter and longing for me
into my honest mess you came.

Not to punish
or control
or to toy with like some cat and mouse game
but to include,
to family,
to welcome real and safe and sane.

You broke the back of try harder
and busted the lie that we’re alone,
offered my heart the friendship that I thought I had to earn.
You didn’t want performance,   didn’t have a line to tow,
just wrapped me in your muchness and gave me rest I’d never known.

And now when my world quakes,
when love goes missing or un-returned
or leaves behind a stiff body that once thumped warm affection,
and my strong legs get pulled out from beneath me
and I quiver in storm,
you’re my harbor,
my hope.
All of my air is because of this.

I think back to those long ago starry nights and the love that bathed me in those branches
and I know now that it was you.
It was always you.
You wanted me first
the way you want us all
with a reckless affection that smashes religion’s bony finger
and draws us tender into your fierce and healing kindness,
lets us breathe safe again
in the being fully known.

To the One whose knowing is only always love.
With love:)

“I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a teacup
than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”
–  Brennan Manning

This is the third post in a short series I’ve been doing,
a little love story.
I didn’t mean to be gone so long between.
Rogue waves.  Sputtering.  Catching my breath.
Thanks for coming along for the ride
and a beautiful new year to you and yours.
With love.  Just so, so much:)

 

Grace for the busy, bumped and broken…..

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It’s been a bumpy,  broken-toe ride these weeks
and I’ve wiped out in the dark waves as much as I’ve ridden tall
during this busy, busy, busy season for our little mom and pop business.
We let it outgrow us this year and then lost some really stellar help
so this mom is having to dig down to the bellows of her being
to stay the course and keep our word to all the gardens we promised to tend
while the heat kept pounding and the rain refused to fall.
I’ve poured my heart onto paper filled with lists and long days
but haven’t patched them together to make anything to share over here with you.

So I’m just gonna show up and spill what grace I have from the broken bits that I am,
because it’s grace that’s holding me,
and I love the way it’s given ~ always ~ just as each fresh now arrives
That tomorrow looks a dread is only because it’s grace has not yet come.

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But it will come.  Sure as sunrise,   it will come.

Serving up some snippets for sipping during testy times:
(hope something fits)

“Shame is a bully,  but grace is a shield.  You are safe here.”  – Ann Voscamp

“You look at me and cry
everything hurts

I hold you and whisper
but everything can heal.”
– Rupi Kaur

“Tears are liquid prayers.”  – Robin McMillian

“Sometimes grace works like water wings when you feel you are sinking.”
– Anne Lamott

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“This grace is indiscriminate compassion.
It works without asking anything of us.
Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might
to try and find something or someone it cannot cover.
Grace is enough.”
– Brennan Manning

“You can have the other words – chance,  luck,  coincidence,  serendipity.
I’ll take grace.”
–  Mary Oliver

“There’s nothing to prove and nothing to protect.
I am who I am and it’s enough.”
– Richard Rohr

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“When the rain is blowing in your face
and the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
to make you feel my love.”
– Bob Dylan

Dance like you’re already in the rain….

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The heat has lingered long this year,
the ground more parched than I’ve known in all my days of coaxing things to grow.
Painful dry.
The little bit of rain that has kissed the dirt rolls mostly off unreceived
and I’m watching people lose trees that have stood long
through the seasons.

I want to water everything.

To give a long,  slow pour to thirsty places,
dipping down my bucket to draw up water,
and then let go a fountain
to make brittle things live again
– dry bones,  dry-docked dreams
and dry ground.

I’m in heavy watering mode these days so if you’ve got some thirsty places,
hold still  while i give us a little pour:

You there,
growing where you’re planted in the middle of a dry spell,
hunkered down drawing up moisture from the dust
while your heart thumps hungry for the rain.
Can you feel the faint tremble as the ground rumbles deep?
Like something far is coming – the sound a wildfire or stampeding herd might make.
You feel it in the way that dogs hear a high pitched sound
so it puts you on edge and your heart begins to pace
because you’re already wilting in this place.
Feeling too far gone.  And tired.

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Wake up your hope and listen.
In the early morning blue of your before there swells a river
that’s been rising on the raw end of a long night dark.
It’s the squeeze before your breakthrough that your thirsty heart is hearing
in those places of “damn,  we’re in a tight spot.”
This is your before – not the end as it may seem.
There’s coming a healing rain and it will find you
where and how you need.
There’s nothing you can do to miss it,  this help that’s on the way.
Your heart is seen and known and understood
and you’re okay.

What if you let yourself take on
a holy curiosity about it all.
To go toward wonder.
The clouds of something good are gathering.
Your dry season is ending.

Go ahead and dance like you’re already in the rain.

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“Faith is not a club you belong to,  but a current you surrender to.”
– Glennon Doyle Melton

“God is perhaps more tender than you know.”
– Brennan Manning

I’d like to give away another package  this week
– yeah,  it lights me up:)
Leave a comment and I’ll plunk your name in the hat
for the drawing.
And it gives me huge joy to send one out to wonderful Susan of Windrock Studio this week
with a whole lot of love.