I “WANTED” to be Irresistible (past tense)

As The Nightingale and I walked through the woods and spoke of passion, purity and men … when she asked me, “Do you have someone to hold you accountable?”
My heart leapt.

Monday, I was ruminating this past weekend with Stone
as I drove, running errands here and there. I sat at the red light, waiting … watched the vehicles turning left in front of me …. I turned right onto Skinner Mill Road and thought about different aspects of the weekend … challenges … temptations …. whether to be transparent with her … how to share what the weekend held …. what God was speaking into my life …. when
the phone in my lap gave notification of a text.
As I am thinking her name and pondering God ….
I received a text from her.
“If I write to you about the “I want to make you weak” statement, will that be alright?”
*knife through the heart*
Of course.

Of course, it would be okay for God to use your fingers to type His words into my distorted world.
Yes, I yearn to hear His direction … leading …
I know this is a confirmation of the thoughts in my head
and will probably be much more than I can take in.
I prepare to be torn apart
(in the best kind of way).

The day ticks by. *crickets*
And Tuesday comes.
Joy and Glory both ask, “Have you heard from Sarah?” I’ve already told them that she is going to write to me. I want Joy to know it is hard. I want her to see it walked out. Glory … already knows … a young woman with a boyfriend of over a year. They both, at different times, ask me the question and each responds similarly:  “Oh, Mama. This is going to be big.” I agree.

Last night, Sarah writes … and sends.
And I share.
Because, her words are truth … they are wise and
surprisingly …
are not as painful as I had anticipated.
Praise be to God for His confirmation, encouragement and direction.

She is twenty-six. She has been married for a year. She is wise and wonderful, zealous and whimsical, lyrical and intense ….
and she is but a child when compared to my nearing-fifty persona …
her old-soul fitted into a young body.

And yet, God uses her ….
her wisdom
and tender heart
to draw me to Him.

I share her words of richness, depth and wisdom.
May her words richly bless you and challenge your life as a woman, girlfriend, spouse, lover ….
to a higher place of accountability, encouragement and strength.

(She references THIS past blog post where I wrote that I “wanted to make him weak”
and this one about being Irresistible)
She writes  ……

“I know what you meant. I have even said some version of it before to Richard; I know it’s crossed my mind many many times. And these are thoughts and not condemnations.

You said you want to be irresistible. I read that blog when it first was posted, and I am re-reading it now. In recent admitting, you said you wanted to make him weak. I hear your heart cries in both these things and let me just say your heart is not bad. God lives there. Your heart aches for a love that was denied you, aches for attentiveness and to be chosen with great rejoicing. You want your worth to be realized. You want to be loved as God loves His church, with sacrificial love and relentless pursuit.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved the way God meant love to be carried out. Enter the great “but”.
But. I caution you. I caution you in thinking that being irresistible or causing a man to become weak over his love for you is a way to fulfill those good desires.
In my journal that spanned 8-17-10 – 1-24-11, I found myself frustrated and heartbroken over Richard’s struggle to remain sexually pure in his thought life.  I wanted to become the object of his desire. I wanted to fill up the room, distract him from other women, instead of the other way around. I wanted him to not be able to help himself, in every holy way, but to want me the way the temptation to want them can be so invasive. I wanted to invade his thoughts in equal and greater measure than any temptation. Pages and pages of my journal during that time frame were spent bemoaning the effects of misunderstanding his mind and my own worth. I didn’t understand that he was fighting for me, for us, for purity.  All this aside: Richard loves me and fights to protect himself from the snares of every lie that would so easily entangle him. And I should be on my face, thankful that I am beloved and chosen by a warrior rather than infatuated with by some dog who cannot control himself or his impulses.”
I want to be resistible because I want him to be a man who is strong. I want to be beloved and served and honored. I don’t want to manipulate him with my wiles or my attributes. I don’t know that I want to be irresistible anymore, and not because I’ve accepted that I don’t have the butt of a college freshman. More to the point – being irresistible doesn’t communicate love to me. It breaches the holy and robs God of something that is rightly His: worship. That sort of “love” is more akin to idolatry. God will not honor that. God will not grow that. If you dig deep into that want to be irresistible, I would be very surprised if, buried down at its heart, there was not a root of self-worship. God revealed my own to me. I saw it for what it was. It was my savage heart’s fighting tooth and nail to feel affirmed and worthy, to feel desired, to be realized and valued. It was, and still is, a struggle. I want to dominate the topic of his thought life, the centerfold of his heart. I want to know I’ve been missed. I want to know that he thinks of me throughout the day. Some of these desires are normal and healthy (we ought to communicate sweetness to one another frequently) but the larger portion and the sheer proportion of them makes me see there is something else at work, here. Recently, the song that Celine Dion sang waaayyy back when “I Want You to Need Me” sums up how the flesh wants to be lifted up and worshiped:
I want to be the face you see when you close your eyes / I want to be the touch you need every single night
I want to be your fantasy / And be your reality / And everything between
I want you to need me / Like the air you breathe / I want you to feel me / In everything
I want you to see me / In your every dream / The way that I taste you feel you breathe you need you
I want you to need me / Like I need you
.I want to be the eyes that look deep into your soul / I want to be the world to you / I just want it all
I want to be your deepest kiss / The answer to your every wish / I’m all you ever need
More than you could know / And I need you / To never never let me go
And I need to be deep inside your heart / I just want to be everywhere you are….
It’s from the 90’s but it’s chock full of the stuff I’m talking about. This is not to say that you want all these things. But I have wanted them. And yet, when I look at the words, when I identify what I saying, I am not only grossed out by the level of co-dependence, but I realize that I am committing at least two serious sins. I am not only wanting to be worshiped (sin) but I am wanting a man to worship me (sin). I am robbing God from being worshiped and I am deeming myself worthy of such attention and desire. Not only that. And then, when I read this song, I see the song for how ridiculous, how unsustainable, how fruitless, how empty, how lustful, how … obsessive …  that it really is. I could never love a man who would need me in this way, because it would mean he had forsaken God and lost his soul for a butt that would only fall farther the older I get. He would have forfeited. He would have lost. And for what? For flesh and bone. I want my husband to love my soul. I want him to value my eternal bits more than my breasts.
In reading through your blog about being irresistible, I notice that your desire for love from a man lines up with your love affair with God. Maybe it sounds foolish for me to say these things to you (after all, I’m only 26 and have not experienced your life firsthand) but it took me a long time to understand that the love letters I was writing to my husband before I met him … were not really written to my real husband. They were not written to any real person. They were written to the heart of the perfect Lover, a Man my husband cannot fully become on this earth. My God loves me in a way completely separately from the way my husband loves me. I had to become content with that. I had to learn that Richard is not able to fulfill all my longings to be loved in that way. Only the Lord can validate my worth, can pursue me as wild as the day is long. Surely, Richard ought to mirror certain aspects of God’s love, which is scriptural and true. But the fact is that our love affairs with our earthly husbands will never come close to the love of our heavenly Husband. It isn’t meant to. Until we go to glory, our love will be a reflection of that holy desire, that sacred romance. For the time being, I don’t want my feet to go down to death but to lead to life.
You mentioned “how does one learn what one is never taught?” I’ve learned a lot from women, but I’ve also gleaned a lot from the Proverbs. Look for verses that talk about good women, righteous women, women of wisdom. Don’t shy away from the ubiquitous Proverbial whore passages either – look at them; find your own flesh there; identify that there are moments where we play the harlot; repent; ask God to fine tune your desires. Check out books that focus on the women of the Bible. Learn from their characters.

Onto the weakness thing. Karen, you don’t want him to be weak – you want him to be there when you get home; you want him to desire your company and your loveliness; you want him to see your strengths and weaknesses; you want him to be attuned to your emotions; you want him to share your loves; you want him to cherish you; you want him to enjoy you; you want him to want you. There is nothing wrong with any of this. But you don’t want a weak man. You want a strong man, because love is an act of will, a sign of strength. A lesser man would not hold your gaze so well, would not honor you with truth. A weak man would fold, would bow to his own desires, would cave to your weakness and disaster could strike. I encourage and exhort you: build him up. Gird him up. Protect him from yourself. Protect your own wellspring. The truth is: you are wonderful and highly valuable as a human being, as an artist, as a writer, as a woman. You are beautiful in form and lyrical in speech. You have much to offer … and the man is not blind. Allow him to see you and to appreciate you without feeling invalidated by what you may interpret as neglect or indifference.

Proverbs 14:1 says that “A wise woman builds her house but a foolish woman tears it down.” I am not calling you foolish or destructive, but I am calling you to wisdom. You have an opportunity in your relationship – to contribute to the building up of a man’s heart, character, and life. Pour into his strength with deep respect and appreciation. Resist the urge to look for ways to draw him in; if this whole thing grows well, that part will come in time. Resist the urge to want him to need you as much as you need him or want you as much as you want him. Resist the urge to define your value in his eyes by how mushy he may – or may not – get when it’s time to say your goodbye’s. He sounds like a remarkable combination of a man. That he has, at least verbally, held his ground, and you to a standard, is admirable. Honor his strength, for strong men are in short supply. Submit to his strength, and steel yourself. (Not harden your heart, but guard against those lies that may come: “If he doesn’t move to touch you, he doesn’t want you.”) And when/if he is weak, be strong in his stead.

Goethe says “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.” Your heart wants the pursuit of a Godly man, not a man who is out of control or out of his mind or drugged by lust or flimsy. Your heart wants shelter and stability and passion in its season. Sow into this. Guard Stone’s heart and your own.

I challenge you to not feel abandoned if you don’t turn the man to mush; praise the Lord! and enjoy the gentle growth that is there. I challenge you to not disregard his strength; praise the Lord! and learn to submit there, to rest there. I challenge you to leave certain aspects of love to the Lord, whose love is perfect and cannot be sullied; praise the Lord for the love we do have! and try not to compare. Your Husband (Isaiah 54) is “your Maker, the God of the whole earth” and He is intimately acquainted with you. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. As was Stone. If he is built upon the Rock that leads him onward, trust in that Rock to fill every need your ex-husband neglected and your current boyfriend is only just learning. Trust and obey.
And as my mountaineering husband shouts from the heights “Climb on!”
With deep respect,
She is so right. I do not want “to make him weak.”
Thank you, Lord, for a honing of my goal
and a richer, fuller, pure and just passion for my heart.
May I make he be s.t.r.o.n.g.e.r in my presence ….. not weaker.
God.is.sooooooo.good.to.me. Praise Him.

Makes Me Happy Monday : His Flat Bottom Whisk

God loves details. I know this.
And I see His activity in the details of my life daily, weekly, annually.
He is writing my life story … and, at least for me, it is an exciting page turner.

As I watch God write the story of my friendship with Stone into the current chapter of my life
I see Him adding the minute details
that make my heart leap with joy.

Some of the details are more liken to innuendos.
Only I can see them … detect them … decipher them.
They only move me.
But, that is appropriate
because they are gifts meant for me.

This is a crock that sits on my kitchen counter beside my stove. It holds my smaller cooking utensils.

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my flat bottom, wire whisk. When Glory moved out a year ago, I insisted that I find her one the same style and shape to use in her own kitchen. Though, having been in the kitchen for ten years, she already knew the importance of THIS tool.

I have a larger whisk with a full, wide, round bottom. It is great for frothing and beating when using a large bowl, but it cannot do what this small whisk can do.

I reach for this flat bottom whisk over the larger one … nine times out of ten.

When we have guests and I am in the kitchen, I explain WHY this whisk is so good. Let me tell you about it.

It is metal. I can use it in a cooking pan while cooking without fear of damage.
It is not too large or too small, it is almost always the appropriate size for mixing.
It compresses to strengthen it’s power when needed.
It is easy to clean.
And … this whisk’s most important attribute:
It has no round edge that leaves untouched food around the outer edge of a pan.
It fully, cleanly, smoothly mixes all the ingredients in a pan.

I use it to create a roux, beat eggs and
melt sugar, cocoa and a dab of milk
when crafting home-made hot chocolate on cold, winter morns.
Other than a knife or spatula/spoon for stirring,
it is the most often reached for utensil in my kitchen.

Very few kitchens I have visited have a whisk this style …
or at least that seems to be my experience.
Do YOU have one this style? I’d love to know.

A month ago, while visiting Stone,
I opened his drawer to the right of his stove
and found this ….

I stood there with my jaw dropped. I slowly reached into the draw in amazement
and picked up the whisk
a gift …
I spun around the kitchen … Yes! I danced.
It’s silly. It’s a little thing …
but it’s huge to me.

Each time we spend time together, God gives me some little, something to add to our friendship story …
some little something that reinforces that we share commonalities … Stone and I.
We are well matched. We are different enough that our friendship is intricate
but we are so similar that we are comfortably, strongly compatible.
We work together well as a team. It’s a grandiose matching.
In fact, I believe with all my being that it is a Providential matching …
and, again, if I am wrong, I pray He would let me know.

This weekend’s gifting was finding that we care for our money in the same way.
I order money in my wallet in declining value order, larger denominations to the rear.
Bills face the same direction and are all right side up.
At any time, I can pull the farthest bill from me and know that it is the greatest value in my purse.
My money is easy to count.
I don’t have to search through pockets for wadded up bills and dig through the bottom of my purse for coins.
My money is easy to find, count and track.
Stone orders his money the same.
We both keep our checking accounts balanced.
We both have small change jars in our vehicles.
It’s a little thing …
and yet, it speaks volumes to me …
of a God who knows my heart and cares enough for me
to add little details … nuances …. to the carefully craft story of this friendship in my life.

Yes, the memory of a a flat bottom, wire whisk
in the kitchen draw at Stone’s house
Makes Me Happy.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morn?

Intimate Directions

When we travel, before I crank the van, I pray over the van and pull up directions. I use the gps on my iPhone WITH a Garmin gps as a backup to direct me. Often, the two give me conflicting directions. I have enough trouble moving from Point A to Point B WITHOUT conflicting directions.

Before leaving Atlanta a few weeks ago, Stone asked me how I would travel home. I admitted that I wouldn’t know until I entered my address into the gps. He requested that I go ahead and see which directions might come up.  As soon as he saw the results, he began to verbally explain to me another route. I am good with “turn right at the first light…..,” but thereafter, I am lost. I have no direction-instruction-memory.  So, he asked for a sheet of paper from my backpack and began to write.

With the van door swept open wide, his right leg lifted to create a stable writing surface, he began to write.

Joy and Jet were in the street … Joy practicing ollies and on her skate board  …. Jet screaming back and forth on his bicycle, making tight turns with each return in our direction.

As Stone wrote, he spoke … explaining turn by turn.
But, the words are useless. They are like latin to me. They are a foreign language. I know this. It is not new for me. I can follow turn-by-turn directions AS I drive, but they are useless when given verbally ahead of time.

So, I don’t listen …
rather I choose to kiss his neck
repeatedly ….
there in the drive
with children zooming by …
God and everybody watching
leaves of fall gently falling on the drive … the yard … the walkway.

I am not inappropriate. I am quiet and still.
I am not touching him in a way that I should not.
The children may see, but I am prudent.
I care about this man.
Soon, I will drive away …
and I will miss him.
I want to be still and remember him …
the touch of his skin, his breathing, his voice ….

Stone’s words when we F.I.R.S.T decided to camp together were
“Let’s don’t mess this up with sex” ….
both of us well aware that there is risk involved
in some relationships
if the parameters aren’t detailed from the start.
He put bluntly
what I thought delicately.
Long before Stone and I reconnected,
but after our failed marriages
we both made individual vows before the Lord that we would do everything within our power
to remain pure until that time that we re-marry … IF we re-marry.
I know that I cling to 1 Corinthians 10:11.
If God will save me from myself by throwing popcorn on the floor when I am eating
but know that I am not hungry ….
or if He allows Glory to drop a box of cereal when she is disobeying ….
SURELY He will provide a way out, should I allow myself to be in a position to be tempted sexually.
If I have asked Him for help and yearn for that deeply … but allow myself to venture to a place
that I do not realize, in my naiveté,  there is danger,
I trust that He will shake me and get my attention
and provide me a way out …
at least offer it.

Because he is self-disciplined and focused, he does not seem to notice me there.
I want to be irresistible … but find that I am not.
I want to make him weak …. weak-kneed and tender towards me …
I want him to miss me.
He continues to write and speak.
I say, “I want to make you weak.”
I do not mean sexually,
but surely my timing was inappropriate.
Without a blink … without hesitation or thought
he quotes scripture.
“Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.”

And I am emotionally thrown to the ground
my heart rightly pierced through and through
with conviction
and in admiration
as I again wonder
“How is it that I am so blessed
to call this man ‘friend’?”

My words and actions did not line up with my heart’s intent or my verbalized conviction
when viewed through Stone’s eyes.
I am learning that the physical line that I draw in the sand
allows too much leeway for a man.
No one has ever taught me this.
How does one know, lest they are taught?

I am thankful …
for a man who walks his talk ….
a man of integrity, strength and self-discipline.

Praise be to God.

. . . . . . . .

Note: This post is a follow up for the one above.

My friend Stone

I don’t remember him in junior high when I first moved to Thomasville. It was around the middle of my eighth grade year that we moved to town .. my dad accepting a managerial job within the Social Security Administration office there in the quaint, quiet, small town. We moved to get away from the hustle and bustle, danger and noise of south Atlanta, our suburb being swallowed up by Hartsfield Airport. It was a tough transition, but a good move.  That summer Stone and I went on a youth group trip with the Methodist church that we both attended. We didn’t have the same circle of friends in high school … his circle was almost exclusively boys who camped, fished and roughhoused together, getting into rambunctious-boy-type trouble, but nothing serious. They were good guys … but didn’t appear to be interested much in being friends with girls.

After graduation, Stone and I attended the same college. I had no vehicle at school so, on occasion, he would give me a ride back to our home town. I can tell you, these trips taught me
what a genuinely, nice guy he was. I was comfortable in the seat beside him.

When he drove me home from college those few weekends, I learned to love pick up trucks and driving “three on the tree.”  I still remember the day … some 28 years ago …. that he told me that he liked it when I rode with him because I didn’t take over his radio. (Many girls who crawled into his cab commandeered his radio station without regard to his likes and dislikes.) He taught me to love The Cars. For 28 years, I have thought of him when I heard “Let’s Go” played on a random radio station in a vehicle or a store. His truck had no air conditioning, so I learned how to place that small, triangular window in just the right position so as to receive the greatest air circulation inside the truck. We graduated in 1983 and went different directions.

In the photo above, Stone is on my far right at the photo edge. I am the girl almost in the middle with the shorter hair. The girl to my right is my sweet friend Mary Ann  and the one to my left is Ashley’s mom, my friend, Karen. 

Stone came from college one weekend in May 1984 to attend my wedding. He listened to Kenneth  play the wedding march as I walked the aisle, the two of them good friends.  I still remember how much it meant to me that he came to my wedding … a college  junior, living in another city … a full year after junior college graduation. I could very well be wrong, but I don’t think I had seen him or even talked to him since the day pictured above.

Years after marrying, we bought an old truck. I thought of Stone from time to time … wondering if he still had his truck. I wondered where life had taken him and what filled his days. When I went home years later, I went into his father’s men’s clothing store in downtown Thomasville to ask his brother where Stone lived and how he was doing. In the last ten years, I have googled him a few times  …
and looked for him when I joined Facebook …
but he was elusive.

Two years ago, a small group of old friends gathered together at Dave & Buster’s in Atlanta.  Mary Ann was the catalyst to getting this little gathering together. We sat and dined and talked and laughed for … eight hours. Most of us had not seen each other since the end of college almost thirty years earlier.

Having had such a nice visit, several of us wanted to try to bring together a larger group of people for a little bit longer bit of time. This summer, we tried again.

With my high school reunion coming up in September, I decided to contact our coordinator and ask if she knew how I could locate Stone. On the Monday before we met, I reached him. He lived less than forty-five minutes away from the place we would be meeting. He had a Sunday morning commitment, but could come on Saturday and spend the day with us. I was so excited to have a chance to catch up on the wheres, hows and whens of thirty years.

Not more than a week before, I was in Starbucks and saw that The Cars had gotten back together to release a new album. I thought of Stone when I saw those cds sitting in the basket. This was the prompting that made me think about inviting him to our get together at Lake Lanier. Once I found him, I swung through the drive through and asked for a cd. It was so neat to gift it to him and let him know that I really had thought of him through the years.

I mentioned here that it was very difficult to tell him
that I was part of a failed marriage.
Somehow …. I can be compassionate with others and understand
when they fail ….
because, ya know, some things … just can’t be helped.
You can only do so.much.
But, me?  I still wonder …
“Isn’t there some.thing.else I could have done? Changed? Modified?
Isn’t there some way I could have done a better job?
If I had been thinner/sweeter/kinder/more obedient/more beautiful/more …… ?
Couldn’t I have changed things? Fixed things?
It’s hard to accept …..

It was hard to tell him that I was divorced.
Other than that awkward exchange,
I thoroughly enjoyed catching up.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was when we sat here.

Several of us looked at photos that Stone had brought along of he and Jet. They had gone camping at Providence Canyon not so long before. I pined. I’ve always wanted to go there. It’s not so far from our college alma mater, Andrew College,  in the western part of the state, but is not a place that we have ever ventured. Of late, my sweet van just won’t make it that distance. One day, I’ll visit, but that afternoon, I was happy to look at Stone’s gorgeous photos and watch him beam as he shared about his passion for camping with his son.

I always travel with my Macbook,  so I was able to show him photos of our recent trip. Joy and I had just returned from a trip to Congaree where we experienced our first primitive excursion. It was so neat to talk about the different state parks we had visited … and know that our paths had been somewhat repeatedly criss-crossed through the years. Stone said, “We’ll have to camp together some time.”  I remember thinking how nice that would be. I could be more adventurous because there would be a male adult nearby. I was comfortable with him … his was an already established friendship. I knew I would be safe. He told me that he never thought we would camp together. But, I was immediately hopeful. I knew there was a Dulcimer Jam coming up at Mistletoe State Park where Joy and I often spent weekends. If there were any camping spots left, Joy & I were planning on being there. Maybe he would join us?

Sunday morning, while Stone taught Sunday school to four year olds at home, I took my kayak out on the water.  After lunch, he came back over to spend the afternoon swimming, talking and playing in the boat. Many of our friends had to leave, so the group was down to just a few. Kenneth and Stone and I swam while Karen and Mary Ann talked.

As long as it took me to let go of the idea that I couldn’t re-marry,  I knew I wouldn’t go “looking” for a man to date.
As little as he said, it was clear that Stone had no intentions of dating again. Women were too much work. As much as I like Stone, I never expected to spend time with him away from a campground. From June to present, we’ve had a chance to camp several times. We have visited Norcross and the boys have come here to Augusta. Joy and Jet get along really well.

But, most of all, there has been time to learn that
time has treated Stone well. All of his positive attributes remain, but are richer, deeper and denser. The draw for me is strong. The three things that create in me the most respect and admiration are his love of God, his tenacious focus and his strong self-discipline …. well …. those things and the fact that he loves rocks, too!!
I can ask him a question about God’s activity in his life and he has an answer. He has already been contemplating the topic. Whatever job he is doing, he is doing that job. He doesn’t look to the right or glance to the left. He stays focused on the job at hand.  He cannot be distracted. As much as I like to toy with him, he remains firm in many areas and I am grateful. It is a glorious, good thing.

Our likes and passions overlap with enough fringe to make life interesting. Our passions include the outdoors, trees, rocks, camping, hiking and biking. We both enjoy cooking and are completely comfortable in a kitchen. He needs no babysitter – I think he likes and cares about people as much or more than I do. I know few men that are as at ease with friends and strangers, alike. I have a creative streak that is whimsical and spontaneous. He is analytic and plans, plans, plans. Joy and I are pretty even keel, but still very female.  The testosterone that rules the house in Norcross is liken to nothing I have been around … ever. Stone and Jet have as much to teach us about men as Joy and I have to offer about estrogen.  He is more than family friendly … he is family focused. He understands his relationship with his son and it is of utmost importance to him. Other priorities fall aside to keep his relationship strong and growing.

And my three children recognize him as a good man with a positive influence on them, on me and on the world around us.

I am incredibly grateful for his friendship.
Stone, thanks for letting me in.
I am blessed to have you in my life.

Makes Me Happy Monday : Sunsets and Pumpkins

The children and I have been to a pumpkin patch before. Joy and I have been to a corn maze.
But, I don’t ever remember doing these things with a man.

Last weekend, Joy and I ventured to Atlanta. It was our first visit as a family to Stone’s home. We spent our weekend celebrating fall. Joy and I enjoyed a skate park Friday afternoon while Stone and Jet went to a men’s conference at their church. We all returned to the same park on Sunday afternoon after church, before Joy and I had to head home.

But, Saturday was a day chock full of fall festivities.

We went to a farm near Athens where we ate freshly popped, warm kettle corn
(the absolute best I have e.v.e.r had!!),

pet all sorts of critters with feathers, fur and hair, rode a beautiful red-wagon hay ride, jumped, ran and laughed. We spent hours? …. in a corn maze … me bringing up the rear so I could snap shot after shot of Stone and Jet holding hands and Joy leading the way on the packed dirt path that wound its way around and through eight to ten acres of mature green corn. I’m absolutely certain that Stone had as much or more fun than the rest of us. It was a beautiful day. And I was grateful …
that as we ventured through the day
I was given the gift
of holding Stone’s hand
and the freedom to gift kisses.  *swoons to a faint*

Our day concluded with a trip through the farm’s pumpkin patch.  Joy and I were quick to pick out a pumpkin just a few rows in. But, these boys … they walked row after row.

Stone, being the analytical type and having carved a few pumpkins before, had a certain pumpkin shape in mind. He found one and another that might work and began to explain to me why one might be better over another.  Words like “presentation surface” and “carving surface” were used in his description. After at least thirty minutes of deliberation, he asked my opinion. I laughed and said, “Stone, I am a creative soul. I can make beautiful any pumpkin in this field. I think we see this very differently.”  Then I added, “I can see why you were in your late thirties when you first married.”

We planned to carve our pumpkins together … but time got away from us. Since we assured Joy she would have the chance to return to the skate park on Sunday afternoon, we decided we would carve our gourds later on in the week rather than force the project into our weekend.
Stone was quick to send me a photo of the pumpkin he and Jet carved the following week … Jet sitting proudly on the hearth of their fireplace with a cheesy grin, holding a masterpiece in his lap. As Stone told me of their fun … of his carefully saving the seeds so that they could be roasted in the oven … of how he took the time to put a handful into a ziploc bag so that Jet could take them to school with his lunch on Monday … and I was moved.
This man  ….
this man has a huge heart that selflessly guides his days, offering knowledge and love to his son in a way that is grand.
This man … is an investor.
He is engaged in the life of his son, sharing enthusiasm, passions and time in a way that I have not witnessed. I am honored to be allowed to glimpse into their lives and  to glean my own lessons on selfless, intentional giving.
I tell him over and over he is wonderful. He needs to hear it, for it is true.
Yes, an amber sunset over a bodacious field filled with pumpkins for the picking …
round, ripe and orange in a plethora of shapes and sizes ….
this makes me happy.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

He called to ask me …

He called me last Monday afternoon ….
the Monday, after my splendid visit with the Sweet Nightingale,
her dear husband and their wonderful, rock-climbing room-mate.

“Hey! How are you?” began the conversation.
I replied with my everyday response, “I.am.lovely, how are you?”

This led straight into
“So, tell me about your weekend.”

My gut response is a swoon because my weekend was so … moving. Where would I start? The hike? Lunch by the water? God’s moving beauty and tears that dappled the entire weekend? Brian’s wonderful violin serenade? Homemade soup with greens and potatoes? Leaves …. music ….  wide, blue skies?

I kept my response intentionally short because I know Stone is busy with his job and doesn’t often have time to chat.  I try to keep our phone conversations short unless I’ve first asked “permission” …. by asking if he has time to talk. I don’t want to be long-winded and make him tire of me
so I kept my answer quite short and unenthusiastic … especially in contrast to the depth of the beauty and wonder of the visit.

I didn’t want to usurp his time so I let him move on to the point of his call.

I flipped the conversation around quickly and by asking about his weekend. I know he won’t be on the phone long and I want to hear his voice … to listen and soak him in … I am interested in his weekend.  How was YOUR weekend? Did you get a lot done?” I inquire.

I invited him to camp with me, my original plans for the weekend. I wanted to get away and be alone, but, honestly, being with him would have been even better. He declined. He chose the “logical, responsible” response to my invitation, having just spent the weekend at our house in Augusta the weekend before. He stayed home to take care of responsibilities … yard work, car maintenance and the like. He’s good like that … a very nice balance to my spur of the moment, spontaneity.

So we talked for just a bit … and then we were off the phone within about fifteen to twenty minutes …

As the afternoon wore on, it occurred to me …
he didn’t have a question about our next visit
or to ask me about something from the past.
He wasn’t calling to talk to me about the pumpkin carving stencils
that I emailed to him, per his request.
He called
just to breathe the words
“So, tell me about your weekend ….”
That w.a.s the purpose of his call.

I can’t figure out why it’s such a big deal …
except that it’s been so very, very long
since a man cared
how I enjoyed my weekend.
He called to ask me about my weekend …..
He didn’t ask out of obligation.
He didn’t ask because he was first prompted.
He called to ask
because he was interested. 

I’m humbled …
and honored.

Again, I beg …
Lord, p.l.e.a.s.e take him away
if this is anything I have orchestrated …
because, frankly,
I’m flummoxed
with gratitude.
I only want this gift …
this man as my friend …
if he is truly a gift from Him.

Lavish Lizz Wright

I was given money for my birthday …
some from my parents and some from a friend
who chooses to shower me. Her blessings mean more
than she could imagine.

I remember the first year that I worked The Masters tournament. I was still a stay at home, homeschooling mom. Going to the grocery store without my kids was difficult. I missed them. But, I wanted the chance to have some extra money to do something special. So, my husband let me work the tournament. He watched the children … and I worked away from home … away from the children ….  and I missed them terribly.

Typically, tournament hours are from five in the morning until seven at night. One or two nights may include an evening dinner that keeps us working until eleven or twelve at night. We still have to be back at work at five a.m.  That is the schedule for the entire week. The week is long, tough and tiring.

I brought home around eight hundred dollars that year.

And I remember that I used that money to buy groceries, fill the tank with gas and make a truck payment.
I missed my kids for an entire week
for bread, gas and wheels.

That was the year that I learned
not to put birthday money
into the gas tank.

This year, when my birthday rolled around, I tucked away my gift money. I didn’t know WHAT I would do with it, but I would spend it on something lavish for myself. Once a year, I do that.

Augusta has an annual arts festival – an entire week that is dedicated to music, theatre, dance and visual arts. The festival is just becoming firmly established in the minds of Augustans … as it grows. This year, I flipped through the schedule on-line and saw
Lizz Wright would be in town.

I knew immediately
T.H.I.S concert
was where I wanted to spend my birthday money.

Lavish. Yes, Lizz Wright is lavish.

I have been to the Imperial Theater   many times. I’ve been there for concerts, plays and musicals.

But, I’ve never had an experience like that Saturday night at the Westobou Festival.

Maybe seating was influential.
Our seats were about ten rows back in the center of the auditorium.
Maybe it was the company. This was my first chance to truly sit still
and enjoy Stone’s company …
uninterrupted without having to share him with children …
my right arm tucked under his left.
More than likely, the night was surreal
simply because Lizz Wright was the performing artist.

As she began to sing,
all I could think was how her voice filled the auditorium.
From the ancient, high tiled ceiling,
rounding the aging plastered walls
and  across the gently sloped floor
her rich, warm, sultry voice
filled.the.room from top to bottom.
It pressed against our skin
and penetrated souls.
I’m sure of it.
Some how, her voice seemed
larger than life  ….
or bigger than alto and a sound system.
It was more than just sound waves traveling through the air filled with anticipation.
The air almost felt dense ….
or thick … with expectancy …
an expectancy that was thoroughly fulfilled.

Have you ever been to a concert that was disappointing
because the voice of the artist was less
polished and beautiful
than you had expected?
I had h.o.p.e.d  that Lizz Wright’s live performance
would be as moving an experience as listening to her recorded music.
Yet, it was SO much more than I had hoped.

Yes, I saved my birthday money
so that I might spend it lavishly on myself.
What a wonderful birthday gift I received
at the Imperial Theater that Saturday night ….
Lizz Wright.
Lavish, indeed.

Hear – Heed – Hurry

Last Sunday morning, we went to church.

I sat in the pew beside a man who wanted me there … beside him  … It’s been years since I have had that experience. My arm wrapped under his strong bicep … my hand resting gently on his forearm … our Bibles side by side on our laps, open to the same passage. We listened intently.

I take it all in. Sometimes I think I live close to the world of sensory overload. It is no wonder I don’t remember people’s names … there is only so much room in one’s brain for information. And I soak, soak, soak it all in … processing physical and spiritual commonalities and overlaps.

I notice our breathing in that quiet, still room. It is rhythmic and consistent and relaxed. It is, at times, simultaneous … and then it is not.  *Breathe* ….. breathe in the life … out the waste … it happens unintentionally on our part, inhale … exhale.  We take in the good, we discard the waste … in the perfect world. The waste from our bodies (carbon dioxide) is the nutrient rich to plants. White the waste from plants exhale (oxygen) is the nutrient rich to ours. This is God’s design for life … a sloughing away of the unnecessary … and the giving of life …. in the same motion.

Not all sloughing is so natural …
involuntary …

Joy and Jet sit on the pew with us … listening.

And I still work to exfoliate the old … slough away the ancient images
of what my family once looked like but is no more.
I can’t cling to that which is no longer mine.
It is dead.
This sloughing still requires work …
and is not as easy as breathing.

And we listen as the pastor talks about the urgency
of sharing.
Today, if you will hear His voice ….”

As you might expect, I hear more than the pastor’s message.
He tells a story from his earlier years. The pastor was a lifeguard at a pool. A young man came to him and said he would like to talk about God. He assured the young man that he would like to get together sometime. Not so many weeks later, he was in a classroom and wondering why the young man’s name was not on the roll. He inquired to find
that the young man had committed suicide
and he heard his own word
echo inside his head like a cavernous canyon.

I try to live with the urgency in mind.
I invite people into my home … now,
I go and see and do … right away,
I love on people deep and wide…
because there may be no tomorrow.
I let things slide … that I possibly shouldn’t
because you never know what tomorrow holds.
I’ve said before, if I were to die today,
I would NOT want anyone to say how “sweet” I was …
I would want them to say that
I made a difference in their life.
I would want them to say that I gave unselfishly,
I loved openly
and I trusted with abandon.

And so, these days, I find myself with my ear to the sky
listening for the voice of my Lord
asking Him, “What next?”
I want to “HEAR” what He has for me – direction, purpose, mobility of action.
I want to “HEED” and DO what He wants me to
or for Him to stop me in my tracks.
I do not want to take steps
that are not blessed by Him.
And, oh, how I want to “HURRY”
… meaning simply
“not put off until tomorrow, what should be done today.”
What is for today, Lord? What would you want from me?

Lord, guide my steps, I pray.
Block motions that I orchestrate.
Illuminate paths that need to be traveled.
Speak to me in a voice
that I can hear
using language that I fully understand
in every.area.of.my.life.

Help me, Lord, to hear, heed and hurry.

Makes Me Happy Monday : Grilled Oysters

When I was young, my family used to camp often at Cape San Blas, a peninsula on the panhandle of Florida which is right near the Appalachicola Bay, known for its delicious, salty oysters. Stone, who also grew up in my hometown of Thomasville, Georgia, was also part of a family who camped often. I find it ironic that our parents were simultaneously building a passion for the outdoors into our hearts …. one that Stone and I now share with each other and are, in turn, striving to instill into the hearts our own children.

I learned early that oysters would “make ya purdy,” the words of one of the paternal patriarchs who used to camp with us and was a perpetual teaser. I love oysters in stew, fried and raw … but I prefer them, hands down,  grilled in a boiling hot shell with just enough butter, onion and garlic in the shell to help flavor them deliciously.

After Stone and Jet arrived Friday afternoon, we fired up the grill to prepare for presentation. This was a first for these two fellas to enjoy oysters prepared this way.

Glory has been a “professional” oyster shucker for years. When we go to my parents home at Thanksgiving, we often end up with a bushel to shuck and enjoy. Glory learned quickly that the way to make sure that she got her fair share of the delicacies, was to don a glove and pop the hinge open on those bivalves. In lantern light on our back deck, Stone and Glory taught Jet and Joy how to shuck. James worked his share of hinges and enjoyed our grilled appetizers just as well. It was a lovely evening.

Midway through the evening, Joy looked up and said, “Mom, ‘Makes Me Happy Monday’ has to be Oysters!”

And she’s right.

Oysters definitely make me happy …
as does a lantern-lit night, cool temps and hot coals,
the fellowship of these two men who make my heart swell,
and passing along an enthusiasm for something unusual and delicious like grilled oysters.

What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?