Sunday, December 15, 2013

How Great Thou Art


It has been almost ten years since we stood at the altar of an old, Baptist church, June sun shooting through the glass stained blue and green, downtown traffic buzzing outside of the thick, wooden doors.  We lifted our voices while we squeezed our hands and felt the words to How Great Thou Art sink into the choir of hundreds of friends and family.  They were all present in their finest clothes to witness the joining of our lives.  I remember how easily the lyrics left my lips, how they nearly floated out of my nervous smile.  They rang loud and true while the ancient organ hummed low beneath all that joy rising in song.   

Just a couple of weeks ago, sparks from the fire popped into the black sky over our backyard.  Bare hands, shaking from the fall crisp held plastic cups of red wine and glass bottles of amber beer.  In camping seats and wooden lawn chairs, on top of coolers and criss-crossed on the brick patio, friends gathered around the hot blazes as my husband poked a stick to stir the flames.  They came to remember.  They came to support.  They came to pour their tears into our cupped hands, the perfect and only offering.  It was a night to feel the grief of losing our little boy two years ago.  And our voices cracked with deep sadness as we whispered the words of that same hymn, How Great Thou Art.  The strumming of the guitar could just barely hold up our fragile song.   

I felt it on the altar that afternoon in June so many years ago.  I felt it in our backyard that night in October.  The deepest places are an invitation to touch the holy.  And I wonder sometimes why it is that those moments of grief, of despair, feel like they are scraping right up against a mystery hinting of joy and peace.  How can it be that the same song, the same old, ancient hymn could cause a heart to bleed the same hot tears on the altar of marriage and at the service of remembrance?  I don’t know for sure why the wall between joy and grief feels at times more fragile than lace, with holes to peer through and catch a peak of the other side...

The rest can be found at SheLoves Magazine.  Continue reading by clicking here:  http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/god-of-joy-and-grief/

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Backpacks of Hope




It was a year ago that Help One Now launched its first Legacy Project.  The hope was to rally enough support to build a school in Haiti, a school with walls and books and trained teachers, a school led and run by Haitian leaders.  Today that school, Williamson Adrien Academy, is alive and thriving.

This year I am excited to be a part of Help One Now’s campaign by helping to spread the word about the Legacy Project for 2013, Backpacks of Hope.  The idea is simple:  partner with local leaders in Haiti, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia to offer students and children opportunity, education and hope.  These “backpacks” are not actual backpacks.  They simply represent the opportunity given to the children who will benefit from this project. 

The goal is to sell 1,000 “backpacks” at $100 each to split among six local leaders in these four countries.  The leaders will use the funds from Backpacks of Hope in unique ways to fit the needs of their communities.  For example, Pastor GaĆ©tan will open a computer lab and a well-stocked library. Pastor Jean-Alix will form a preschool. The preschool will allow older children to attend school instead of caring for their younger siblings.  Pastor John in Zimbabwe will construct a playground and expand the school’s kitchen to be able to serve even more children. 

The effects of Backpacks of Hope will be far-reaching.  And like most profound and impacting changes, they start with a simple step.  For more information, visit this website: https://www.purecharity.com/legacyproject/.  You will find ways to give, ways to become involved, and ways to spread the word.

  


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Blessing of Hope


May hope lead you to step into the dark this season of Advent.  When all around you, lights are blinking and new things are shining, shouting empty promises of relief, may you keep groping your way to find the star, searching for the real.  May the hope that your journey will bring you to witness new life keep you crawling to the cradle. 

And as you make your way, if you feel the twinge of loneliness invading your space of hopefulness,remember Elizabeth, whose womb was empty, whose time seemed to have passed.  Remember how she eventually felt the flutters of life inside of her, how she laughed with surprise.  May you prepare to be surprised as well.  That may be what hope looks like for you this Advent season, preparing to be amazed.  But may your preparation be quiet and simple, free of fuss and full of truth. 

When you do finally arrive at the place where you can see and feel and touch the one, true God entering into your darkness, light a candle and hold it up high.  Whisper to the others behind you to come and see that Love is here.  For there is hope indeed.  


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

See this post

We have had a flurry of birthdays to celebrate.

 This one turned 3.  



This one turned 5.  












And this one...knows true birth and full celebration.  





Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ruth


I don’t know if it is the onslaught of birthdays and holidays, so much preparation and too many details.  I don’t know if it’s all the planning and parties, calendars filling up and lists becoming long.  Maybe it’s all the conversations about school and church, our vocations and the years ahead.  It’s all unique and universal.  The thoughts and talks are both new and old. 

I am not sure.  But I feel the knotting and the twisting taking place in my belly.  And sometimes, when I am all knotted up, I need a place to find the loose thread.  I need to stop and work out the tangles. 

I have been reading about Ruth in the Bible, how she got out of bed each day with the loss of her husband heavy in her pocket.  She walked out into the field to work without a clue as to how her story would unfold.  I have been learning about how she put one foot in front of the other, each step her daily bread, never knowing how her God would weave all the fabric scraps that life handed her into a tapestry of gold.

When I survey the landscape of what is on the horizon, the big picture, the whole story, I know that Love bats last.  I know that the final chapter will wave a banner of grace and that the story will be magical, permeating truth and all together good.  But it’s in the details, the plans and the lists of today that I get lost, overwhelmed and tired.

But then I remember Ruth.  I remember how God redeemed her tragedy, how He wrote a love story out of her grief.  And it all started because she simply got about her business with grace and humility.   So what to do with all of these lists and plans?  How to handle the decisions and the to-dos?  Maybe it is more about stepping than seeing.  And maybe there is a God who is watching over the fields where we have been placed, working through the smallest details and ordinary tasks.  Maybe He is weaving redemption through it all.  And yes, the daily walk can feel less like a love story and more like a long list.  But in the end, it will all shine of glory. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

All that Is


The last weeks have been swirled with thoughts of what was.  The month has been filled with wonders of what could have been. 

This past weekend the four of us piled in the car headed west to climb the snake roads to the mountains.  We passed by orange carpets of fallen leaves and weaved through naked trees freshly exposed until we arrived at a little cabin held between slopes like cupped hands. 

We pulled the last apple remnants from the orchards during the day and gathered skinny sticks to top off with white puffs to hold over the fire at night.  We hiked the woods with roots popping up on the trails like arthritic fingers and the boys laughed from their bellies as they jumped over each gnarly knuckle.  “He stuck the landing,” Jeff shouted while throwing both arms up in the air.  I marveled at how a little boy jumping and landing could swell such pride and how a man encouraging his son could heat such love. 

There is something about the mountains.  I find them both mystical arrows pointing upwards and weighty anchors grounding me down. I cannot leave them unchanged.  And maybe it was the black sheet of sky pulled taut between the clouds, and the million needle pricks of lights poking through.  Maybe it was the afternoon sun blasting through the smudged cabin windows, catching the rising dust like the dome of a shaken snow globe.  It could have been how the stream waters splashed up against the rocks like the quick snap of hand bells or the way the tree trunks swayed like a secret waltz to a silent beat.  Perhaps it was simply that each of us seemed so ourselves, individually and together, comfortably sinking into the furniture of God’s first house.

I’m not sure, but I think that it was all of creation framing the picture of a family becoming and a family renewed.  A family learning to kiss the ground and touch the sky. 

Thoughts of what was and wonders of what could have been will likely always stand in our shadows.  But their chill is ever so slowly beginning to melt.  And I feel the thawing from the light of the beauty of all that is.  







Thursday, October 17, 2013

October Stirring

It’s been raining for days.  The ground, cold and wet, ushers autumn in with its slippery welcome mat.  Fallen reds and browns slouch beneath my feet and stick to the bottom of my tall, green boots.   The back seat of our car piles high with fleecy layers peeled off, and the beans and tomatoes swirl hot on the stove to the lead of a wooden spoon.  October silently elbows its way between summer and winter, and before I know it, before I have had time to brace myself, I am wedged in the middle of all that it holds.

I always loved October.  It felt safe and sandwiched, unhurried and set apart, like I could hunker down and peer over the edge at the coming train of holidays and birthdays without yet feeling the wind from its speed.  But now October is grounded and thick in new ways.  As the day that marks two years since Webb last plopped into my lap crawls closer, treasured and tragic memories and images resurface with sharper colors and vivid realness.   And I feel myself rolling up the sleeves, widening my stance for stability, and preparing for the waves that will come. 

So much of life is lived in the anticipation of what’s on the horizon, the baited breath and the drawn inhale.  There is such fear of how the unfolding may knock things upside down that were finally settling, and the hurried business of making sure that all the pieces are quickly gathered and arranged.   And I wonder what all is missed, what haggard and imperfect pieces are discarded.  I wonder what October gifts I might miss if I keep my fists clinched on ten and two, eyes fixed on simply making it through.  Yes, October has snuck itself into being and it takes just about all I’ve got to loosen my stance and let down my sleeves, to sit criss-crossed right in the middle of the bathing and the beating that marks two years.

I guess we can choose whether to grin and bear or to release and lean.  I guess we can close our eyes and grit our teeth, just waiting for the time to pass and the wave to roll.  But this October, with all its slippery colors and sharp memories, I want to feel the wave, to open my eyes beneath its cloudy waters, to float with fingers spread as I ride through it.  Because I know that there is a time for bearing down and for getting through.  But then comes a time for embracing, for feeling and remembering all of it, the painful and the beautiful, and for falling freely into all that is awakened by the gentle stirring that October brings.      

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rise


Sometimes I like to give a year or even just a season of life a name or a word, to mark and claim it.  The naming helps me find an anchor and an inspiration, something to which I can return and for which I can strive.  My word for this season is “Rise”. 

I have a writing teacher and friend who encourages the use of acrostics to serve as a base and guide for scraping beneath the surface to find meaning in words.  

Reach up and wide, and always return
Inside, remembering to
Stand and see in all things that
Eternity is at work.  


Monday, September 9, 2013

One Big Circle


I knew it as it was unfolding that I was living a memory that would sear.  I knew it as we grabbed hands and the old man pitched the first note that these moments would settle into some safe corner.  I looked to the left and saw the short, sassy hair of my dad’s only sister and looked to the right and saw the tall, thin silhouette of my aging grandfather.  And linked to each of them was another family member, distant or immediate.  Together we sang unabashedly or hummed lowly, as the words to the old gospel hymn, “Will the Circle be Unbroken” climbed the tips of the pines braided through the southern sky. 

What I didn’t know was how often I would reach my hand into the deep corner to rake my fingers over that memory.  What I didn’t know was how often I would pull out the snapshot, smooth out the wrinkles, and take another look. 

Because it isn’t often that we hold hands with so many of our kin.  It’s rare that we form a circle deep and wide, and holler through the woods for everyone to come out of their cabins and join in.  And it doesn’t happen every day that we lace fingers and raise voices, unaware that roots are burrowing deep and spreading below, grounding us for the ages.  But when it does happen, and voices are raised and hands are helped while kinship weaves together a circle, I’ve just got to believe that the saints are singing too. 

We hear so much about God’s kingdom these days, who is in and who is out.  Who belongs and who still has some changes to make, some work to do...

The rest can be found at SheLoves Magazine.  Continue reading by clicking here: http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/one-big-circle/

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Sign and A Promise


I never mention it to anyone.  It has always been my own little secret.  But I have a silent plea that I beg up from the dirty floor of my doubting. It is a prayer or a wish born from need to know that all is well and that all will be well with my son living in glory.  It often crawls out of the sadness and the aching of missing him.  “Would you give me a sign, God?  Would you do something, anything, to show me that I can trust you?”  I stand on the bow of an ark, watching the bottom break in the sky, and I want a rainbow.  I want a promise to light the air with color.       

Sometimes I walk through weeks or even months in the silence that follows my prayer.  I see the sun slice through lanky pines on an afternoon walk and wonder, Could this be it?  Could this be God breaking through?  I witness my sons’ hearts slowly knitting together and healing.  I see the stitching in healthy questions and new feelings expressed, knowing that it could never have been my own hands that held the needles.  They have been far too shaky.  And I think, God, are you really binding up the wounded, as you promised?  This has to come from you, right?   Or I find myself howling in laughter with friends and family.  I catch myself loose in joy, freshly untethered to sadness.  I never thought I’d feel this again.  Is it your gift to me?  I am always searching for the rainbow. 

I am so prone to wonder.  My heart is swirled with all kinds of hues of unbelief.  So I often whitewash these gifts as mere coincidences or natural effects of time and growth, independent from a divine hand.

****************************************************************************

We didn’t plant a summer garden this year.  We weren’t sure about our housing situation.  Too much was up in the air.  So we tilled the soil of our plot and haven’t touched it in months.  Weeds and grass pushed up through the dirt and now our garden plot looks mostly like a wild wasteland. 

But last week I noticed a bright, green stalk stretching high above the weeds and grass.  This week that stalk opened up into flower.  But not just any flower … a sunflower.  Webb called them sunshines.  He squealed with joy every time he spotted one. They will always be my reminder that a little boy is running wild and free, face forever pointed to the sun.    

Last year I planted sunflower seeds in pots around our back patio.  Some of the seeds from those sunflowers must have been carried by the wind and scattered into the soil of our garden.  This year, one of those seeds bloomed.  Just one seed. 

****************************************************************************

I am always searching for the rainbow.  I never stop asking God to show me in secret, little ways that my son is safe in His arms and that the rest of us are in His care as well.  And much of the time, the silence that follows my plea is simply due to ears covered with hurry or busyness and eyes locked in to what is seen. 

But every now and then, the clouds roll back and promise breaks through the silence. A gift is dropped right in the middle of a storm, a gift so clearly given just to me, whispering that all is well.  Sitting on the edge of my garden where nothing was planted but a sunflower grew, I know that I have received the rainbow.  And I am standing on the bow of an ark as color lights up the sky. 



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When a House isn't just a House


We cleaned out the closets and scraped the baseboards.  We painted the walls and power-washed the front porch.  We carefully piled all of our art and photographs and tucked books and journals into tall, brown boxes.  We tried to rid our house of us in order to appeal to others who might want it for their own.  We were going to try to sell our house.    

I tell myself all the time that a house is just a house.  It’s nothing more and nothing less.  It has very little to do with who I am or who I am created to be.  Like everything that I can run my fingers over, it will one day turn to dust, and I certainly will not take it with me to glory. 

But when I first walked into our house with fresh, cream walls and hardly a trace of all the moments we have woven under its roof, I felt it hard as brick: sometimes a house is more than just a house.  It is more than the bricks and mortar that form its exterior and more than the wooden planks that make up its floors.  It’s more than the square footage or the countertops. 

A house is much more.  It is the fingerprints on the windows from babies using the glass to pull with their wobbly new legs.  It is smudges on the walls from babies turned to boys, running wild laps through the kitchen and dining room, banging into each other and bracing themselves from falls.  It is the early morning creaking of old planks in the hallway beneath tip-toed feet and bated breath.  It is the oak tree out back that sprawls over the yard like a protective mother.  It is the memory of my heaven-boy looking up to find where the branches end in the sky.  It is all of us here, digging into the smallest moments and pulling up a life and a family. 

I can dream about a little bit more space and a kitchen that better reflects my style.  I can dream about a street full of children, perfect playmates for my little ones.  But I would be passing by all the ways that I am living the dream right here, under this roof.  And precious moments would be lost down that slippery, subtle desire for always wanting a little bit more.  But more is happening right around me, banging into walls and climbing out of beds.  More is right here in front of me, settled deep in the walls of a little, brick ranch.

So instead of selling, we are staying.  And now I begin to unpack those boxes and re-clutter our house.  Now I start hanging the art on the walls and arranging the photographs again on the tables.  The new paint will only remain fresh and clean for about another week.  My boys will continue to be roughly five steps away from my room when they need me in the dark of the night.  And the old, oak tree, the one the grabbed my boy’s imagination and curiosity, will rain colors of red and orange in no time at all.  We will all bathe in its shedding for another autumn and likely several autumns still to come.  Moving houses can feel too much like moving on.  Because a house is never just a house. 

All of life is pulled by currents of seasons.  Knowing when the seasons will change and when the tide will roll in can feel like a guessing game.  Maybe this is the right time, or maybe not just now.  Knowing when to move and when to stay, in all things, is sheltered beneath a grace that is deeper and wider than any decision to make.  But I also know that choosing to remain in this house, deciding to watch the leaves fall and the flowers bloom again from our front porch swing, is so comfortable and right, that now, just the knowing feels like home. 




 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Questions


When their hard questions pepper me like heavy rain, I tell them that some questions have no answers. But that never stops the peppering.  I tell them that sometimes we have only little clues that keep us searching.  But little boys want more.  They are hungry for understanding and for making sense of things.  And aren’t we all?

Instead of standing soaked in questions, we want to dance beneath the surface of a River where we understand it all.  We want our hair to float wild and our bodies to feel no weight while deep belief rushes down our skin.  We want to watch all the question marks float away in the River’s current.  But we can only now dip our toes in the Jordan.  We can only now dig our heels in the sand of its banks.  And here on this side of the land that is promised, questions will always hang overhead.   

There was a time when I grasped at big, weighty words like sovereignty and will to try to fill the space of the unknown.  I thought that maybe logic and reason could break down every doubt I had, and make sense of all that I didn’t understand.  As if faith must be completely defendable.  As if faith must be wrapped in a package.   

But now I hear my own sons’ constant curiosity and it sounds like music, sweet and simple.  It sounds like wonder and looks like searching.  And I have been ushered right into that space of the unknown, resting instead in words like mystery and awe.  Instead of always wanting answers, I am now chasing a golden thread of grace that is woven throughout all that I do not understand.  And what is faith if not sung to a tune of mystery and awe while reaching for grace? 

I imagine the moment when I reach that final shore, and look back at all of my questions sinking into Love’s boundless waters.  I imagine the day when all of my doubts are absorbed by Love’s strong arms.  And I can finally drop that golden thread of grace that I’ve been clinging to and begin to look around.  I imagine that all of my questions from standing on a far-away bank will turn to whispers.  Whispers over and over again of, “It’s true.  It’s real.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tail of Summer


Sliding down the tip of summer, I stop, wedged in a thin space between living with the abandonment I crave and needing just a little bit of structure to contain it.  I sit between knowing what’s to unfold in a day and waiting for it to fold me up instead.  I remember my lofty summer goals of May, the home projects we would tackle and the children’s crafts we would create.  I remember all of the day trips we would take and the acts of service we would commit.  

Yet now, grasping at the tail of summer, all of our togetherness, all of our woven moments bleed into one long, honeysuckle-sweet memory.  And not many of the moments I planned in the spring have even made it into the mix.  Few crafts have been made.  We’ve mostly stayed at home or beside cool waters. But it feels more like freedom than failure, more like grace than pressure.   

So while we ride this last mile of the stretched out summer highway, may grace and freedom and togetherness keep us savoring instead of speeding.  May the things we have left undone settle into a safe place of acceptance or maybe-one-days.  And may the final weeks before the school bell rings and the soccer whistle blows be filled to the brim with unplanned moments and simple memories blurring together into the last few sweet drips of summer.    








Monday, July 8, 2013

A Time Such as This


Often my whispered prayers come out like the questions my four-year-old asks in the long summer afternoon.  What now?  What next?   And I can barely make space for a Voice to answer, because I am being folded deep into what is.  Pursuit and desire for the next step, for the knowing where and how to move within the lines of all that is, can edge on restlessness but fall into expectancy.

It seems like just when I find myself settled into a sense of exhale, I hear the holy haunting of a God who doesn’t stop moving whispering, go there, try this, step out.  And those nudges, gentle in nature and laced with grace, have me always wanting a little bit more, always desiring a little bit of newness.    

I would like to think that if I were to hear the Voice say, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family” like it once did to Noah, that I would find the wood and start building.  I would like to think that I would gather the troops and begin to organize. 

But God hasn’t yet audibly laid out the plan for me.  Mostly I hear creaking of doors opening, the Voice speaking less in words and more in stirrings and fresh opportunities.  Mostly I hear the laying down of stepping stones, the Voice speaking more by a soft pressing on my back. 

The rest can be found at SheLoves Magazine.  Continue reading by clicking here: http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/a-time-such-as-this/

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Maybe You are Like Me...


Maybe you are a little bit like me.  Maybe you’ve been carrying shards of glass from fragile things turned broken around in your purse for a while now. At first they were so heavy that your spine turned crooked and your shoulders sore.  But after a while, your back grew stronger and your spine straightened.  Your shoulders loosened to relax, and you grew accustomed to the weight. 

Maybe you are like me, and you find yourself surveying the scene of how things turned out, over and over again.  The scene that is yours looks so unlike the scene that you drew up years ago, but you step through it, sit in it, and make it home. 

You once called the shards waste, could not view them as anything but.  You saw your scene and named it desert, unable to penetrate the barren. 

But there came a day when you dropped your hand into your purse, ready to bleed from the sharp reminders that you carry.  And instead of touching shards, you found seeds.  You rolled them around in your palm, so smooth they almost tickled. 

There came a day when you stepped through your not-how-you-thought-it-would-be scene, the one in which you used to whisper, wasteland, and you saw green breaking through brown.  You touched the sand and it turned to soil.  You called it garden. 

So you scatter your seeds into your soil and wonder what could possibly grow.  You sprinkle a little water with a lot of doubt.  You offer sunshine with a bout of gratitude.  But you keep sprinkling and sunning because if you are like me, hope can look like a lot of little next steps taken.    

Maybe you are like me, and you feel the hurt from growing something with your old shards.  Maybe you and I are the same in that part of you would like to keep broken glass by your side for a long, long time.  Because peering out of hurt is a hell of a lot scarier than staying seeped in it.  But you see those sprouts grown from what has come of not-how-you-though-it-would-be, and they tell you that sometimes hurt is just the pulling tight of loss braiding into love. 

You watch and wait to see what kind of flowers shard-seeds might grow.  You look at the shiny, fresh-cut stems of your friends, arranged in sterling silver vases, on screens and in stories.  A little bit of you wishes that your flowers could fit together so nicely, could appear with such ease.  But you know that you would take wildflowers over store-bought any day of the year.  And when you really look closely at what they have, you see the sparkle of glass in theirs too.  For pretty has to grow from somewhere.  There’s no such thing as store-bought. 

You and I are the same.  I just know it.  Because though I may not see what’s in your purse, I know that all of our spines are a little crooked.  I know that each of us has walked through the land of not-how-I-thought-it-would-be.  And broken glass always cuts, no matter how big or small the shard. 

So let us sprinkle our shard-seeds, the ones that came from one big shatter, or a lot of little falls.  Let us wedge them deep into the garden, the one that we thought was gone for good, or would never even come. Because what we thought would send us to the grave will bring forth the gift of the wildest flowers the world has ever seen. We will bind them up tightly, and these bouquets grown from shard-seeds will be our simple and perfect offering.  


(Flowers from Webb's garden)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Answers

So often I feel like my head and heart are treading water with all the unknowns, and it can wear me right out.  Why? How? When?  But when I look into the ocean, when I gaze out over the sound, I know that I am somehow staring into the answers.  The waters are not beautiful enough to answer all my questions.  No, but they are big enough.  And though they don’t give me the word answers for which I search, I am always reminded that maybe I am just too small to understand the language they speak. 





Thursday, June 6, 2013

When I Forget the Words



I tucked two hands behind my head and lay in the grass of my backyard yesterday afternoon while the boys rested.  I bent my knees and closed my eyes as the summer sun poured heat like water.  Craving stillness, but living distracted, my prayers came out like one word whispers: help, grace, more, less, thanks.

I tried to return to the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray.  It’s the one that even my toes know by heart.  Maybe it was the heat or my frazzled brain, but I couldn’t get past the first verse, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. The rest of what I could remember was fragmented and disjointed.  The whole of it escaped me.  A simple prayer that I’ve known since I was a child, I couldn’t remember it.   

I know a lot of people are tired of the Church these days.  Many have been hurt and disappointed, have become cynical and offended.  I have been there too.  Because it is one thing to be hurt by people being human, and it is another to be hurt by people claiming to speak for God.  Yes, we believers have much for which to apologize.  We have been defensive and self-righteous.  We have used tactics like fear and guilt to lure others to our own agendas.  We have spoken when we should have listened.  We have been silent when we should have been shouting.  The truth is, this bride of God will never wear white on her own. 

But there are many reasons why I will never stop loving this fumbling bride.  There are many reasons why despite the ragged, rough dress that she sometimes wears, I will always be hers.  And those reasons do not include having a heart full of grace or a spirit of incredible understanding.  They do not include a strong belief or a steady loyalty.  No, I have none of those things. 

What I do have is a mind that sometimes forgets the words to a prayer I’ve grown up reciting.  What I do have is a spirit that sometimes can’t muster up the will to say what I know to be true. 

And this is just one reason why I skip and crawl my way back to the sanctuary time after time.  Because when I stand among a crowd of ragamuffin people like myself, reciting the prayer that God taught us to pray, I always know the words.  I never forget them.  My small voice easily falls in step with the group unlike when I am alone.   And even when my spirit blocks my mouth from saying the creeds or when I just have to opt out of singing the hymns … in church, my gloriously clumsy family says and sings them for me. 

No, God’s bride is not perfect.  But on a day in the sun when words I know are out of reach, I want my imperfect church.  I want to stand among believers and doubters, sinners and saints with eyes closed and heads bowed to say it together, For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen.