Monday, February 8, 2016

Language Arts

photo source:  internet

you know that stupid-a$$ cliche'* meme about always being kind because everybody's fighting some kind of battle?

*(do I sound angry?
i think i sound angry.*)

but don't we all know this by now?

that we should always be kind?
that everybody's dealing with some kind of something?

but then

i want to shake people in the grocery store*:
"do you know what has happened?!"

[(*have i used this line before?)
(nothing under the sun is truly new. Ecc 1:9)]

and then 

i think about all the things i probably don't know about you

and then

about the things i do know

and how i've just lost touch

while i'm dealing with my own kind of whatever.

this has been a hard-a$$ couple of months, and

i'm really grateful for all the people who speak my language, and
who are kind and patient and forgiving when i use words that i shouldn't.

i pray to be as kind to you.

*i'm really not angry ~ not right this second, 
but (obviously) i've had to deal with angry.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Going The Distance

This'll only take a minute, and it won't be too awful bad, I think, but it needs doing because, you know, I have to do what I do.


I keep setting my glass down ~ so hard the water spills over ~ and blurting through tears at my husband, "but why?!"

Why was there so much distance between us?

We keep having this same conversation.
I keep reaching the same conclusions.
I keep finding my peace til the heartache rises up again.

Supposedly, time will slow this cycle.
I actually know that it will. ...

I've lost my sister now.  My little sister.  My only sister.

How did this happen?  I turned around for just a second...

But that's not the truth.  For many of these last years, there was a battle ~ I can't really say that we were opponents, but it was ~ between us.  Neither of us would be the victor in this lifetime, but that's for another time.

The point is that there was a distance between us, and since she's left me, I've sought the source and evidence of it.  In all my searching, however, I keep coming to peace.

It's a cycle.

Some days I feel weirdly okay, am a little freaked out even, by my ability to smile.

Other days.
It's as if my cord has unraveled.
Strands are missing.
I won't be complete again in this lifetime.


I've always believed my momma and Jenny's friends knew her best.  But I've realized in these last days that I actually knew her better than I ever realized.  And so, in all likelihood, it was a mutual familiarity.  I actually know that it was. ...

I haven't written much lately for a number of reasons, but when I first attempted this, I looked over recent posts.  Nearly one year ago, I wrote this piece.  Finding it in recent days is how I finally know why I do this.  I don't even feel the need to explain.

My sister had a gift for photography.  And I mean a gift like ... I can't even.

She took the pictures.  I wrote the words.

I will keep doing what I do.

Though I am not satisfied with this piece.
Because there are not enough words.
There will never be enough words.
But my sister knows.
There is peace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Sincere and serious trigger warning here.  If you struggle with addiction and/or depression/anxiety, this may not be a good read for you.  If you do, however, choose to read this, please finish it.  

I have lost a friend.  The world has lost a light.  And while this is one of the last times and one of the times I want least to make it all about me, like most everyone who knew her, I need to tell you my Sarah story. 


I used to see her around, knew who she was, knew whose kid she was, but I didn’t know anything about her until the day she walked into my 12-Step recovery group.  In fact, she was escorted into the room, crying and clearly broken, a caring guide on either side of her.   It was after all the, “Hi, my name’s Amanda, and I struggle with addiction,” introductions so she didn’t get to/have to say any of that.  But I knew.  We were the only two of our kind in the group.1

Sarah did not come back to my group, and I used to wonder if she was too embarrassed or discouraged2, thinking she was the only one of her kind ~ which I could easily wonder, having often thought the same thing.  Sometimes the addicts are obvious, but not always.

Later, I would have the good fortune to become friends with Sarah, and later still, she did reveal her struggles to me.  I can’t actually remember that conversation the way that I remember her coming into the room that day ... because it was like ink and water between us.  I knew and she knew that I knew.  And that’s how it remained between us.

We never chilled together - or whatever it is the young folk call it these days.  We really were just at odd angles to one another, I think - her being right between my daughters’ ages and my own.  But I kept an eye on her, would see her around, and would always have a sense of where she was on the scale, and I know that she knew that, and there was never a distance, or a judgment, or discouragement or embarrassment between us that I could sense.  I loved her and I’m convinced that she knew that too.

On Sarah’s memorial page, another of her friends posted a story about the first time they met.  She tells how Sarah insisted that she listen to a song with some possibly sketchy lyrics ~ who does that when you’ve just met?!  I don’t know if you’ve seen Garden State, but there’s a similar scene in that movie that maintains a special corner in my mind.  There’s Natalie Portman, grinning with joy and something akin to pride, as she shares her song with someone she’s just met, someone she knows in her soul is kindred.  I’ve inserted Sarah’s face into that ethereal scene. 

I've also read those lyrics.  
Sarah’s paths were darker than mine have been, but still, we knew each other.


That Sarah struggled with addiction may or may not have been obvious, but something else about her was clear and bright.  She did know Jesus.  She did know that her hope was in him.  And she did cling to him, knowing that he would never leave her, no matter the path.

For people without this kind of faith, I imagine it’s hard to imagine that someone can struggle with something like addiction, and at the same time be assured of God’s love and salvation.  I can pretty much promise you: it’s even harder for the believer to believe it.  But as I’m certain that Sarah must have, there are certain promises to which we may cling.

For instance, I am certain that God, who began a good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished. (Philippians 1:6)

Sarah fought harder to overcome her addictions than anyone I’ve ever known.3 She may not have beaten it in this life, but I am certain that he has completed his work in her.  And while I may not see Sarah again in this life, I will see her on the other side.


I’ve never been the devotion-writing type of writer.  Don’t think I’ve written much or often or anything, maybe, that inspires someone to ... anything, maybe.  I’m usually making it all about me, but if ever I could write one especially for you, for those of you who’ve been to the otherside, this would be it.

And here’s what I want you to know and what I’m convinced that Sarah would want you to know:

Even when we are broken, when we struggle, when we continue to struggle, when we are addicts, when we hurt people, when we can’t get our shit4 together, when we can’t overcome, when we fail, when we feel lost, when we feel unloved or unlovable...

We are loved.  
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) 

We need not be lost. 
Indeed, Jesus has come to seek and to save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)

And we are never alone.
“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”“ Hebrews 13:5


Not all of you will understand this, but some of you will.  Some of you will know me, will know Sarah, will know the struggles of which I speak.  Sometimes the lyrics are obvious, but not always.

So just on the chance that you need a new song5, I’d like to pass you over my headphones...

1.  Celebrate Recovery mixed group

2. I’d written most of this before Sarah’s memorial.  I learned during the service that this may very well have been the first of any kind of group she’d entered, but it was certainly not the last.  In fact, in the years that followed, she immersed herself into a community of supportive, caring people.  This is a key step to recovery.

3. As another of her friends has noted, this kind of loss can be a discouragement and even a trigger for certain ones of us.  Part of Sarah’s legacy is to fight hard against that which would defeat us.  Please remember her for all that was good and beautiful about her.  And please fight hard for your sobriety.

4. I’ve maintained a pretty strict code regarding the words I put in writing, but this time - I’m sorry - my imperfection had to show.

5. I Am Not Alone, Kari Jobe

6. If you know me, my family, my situation, any of it, then you know that Sarah could have been my daughter.  To have made this about that, however, would have seemed indecent in my pit, in my spirit.  Another time.  Maybe.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Truth Or Fiction

The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want...

is probably the second prayer my grandma taught me, and I've mostly remembered it for most of my life, and like most people, I've quoted it at the (mostly) appropriate times ~ you know, like when somebody dies or ticks me off.

Yea, though I walk through the valley...
I will fear no evil... 

It's always had a certain Tarantino-esque quality to it, you know?

Like some dude's saying to me, "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. ..."

And I'm saying, "Yeah, well, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, mo#fo#."

Now, I been sayin' that for years, but it occurs to me lately that, as much as I might like for him to, Jesus probably wouldn't come out all guns a'blazin' at the dude.  I mean, he might call somebody a Pharisee, but probably not, well, you know.

I mean, well, when he does come back, 
he's coming like a total bad hmmhmm, 
but that's a side note.

I'm a little like a first century Jew, I guess.  I see the tyranny, and the evil, and the selfishness all around me, and I think I'm ready for Jesus to come on back and level the field, but that ain't the truth.

The truth is

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

I get so wrapped up in the middle part that I sometimes forget the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, if you will.  I become so distracted by the world around me that I lose sight of the one who created it.  I get so wrapped up in my own perspective that I lose my peace.

I lose sight of the path sometimes.
I sometimes am the tyranny and the evil
and the selfishness.

But I'm tryin'.
I'm tryin' real hard to be (like) the Shepherd.

Maybe I should just stop trying so hard.  Maybe I should just lie down for a bit, have a rest and a drink of water.  Because the truth is

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23 (NKJV)

Monday, April 20, 2015

What I Got

It was a weirder and harder day than some.

That g'boy'o'mine had a mind for misbehavin'.

House was a mine field of unknown substances.

Thank God for friendly reminders:

Love's what I got
Don't start a riot

Facebook said I said that sometime back.

(Clean up poo.)

comes rolling through.

(Rolls and rolls of toilet paper...)

Give it away give it away give it away now...

through the radio.

(Laid out, fit-pitching for The Juice, The Juice Now!)

Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends,

Jesus said.

(Pee on the floor.  Again.)

And so, as I was encouraged by my Wednesday group-mates recently, I knew I had to just get through it.

One mess, one fit, one reminder at at time.
Till it was bedtime.
And he asked for juice.  Again.

But after finally meeting all of his bedtime needs, feeling exhausted and relieved for the coming respite, as I left his room that last time, he said with soooo much fervor and enthusiasm,


Yeah, love's what I got.
I said remember that.

Friday, April 17, 2015


I [capital air quotes] lead [close capital air quotes] a Bible study group on Wednesday nights.

Yeah, I do that too:  wed .. nez .. day.

It's been a pretty good run for me, personally.
I pretty much just compile a list of questions:

  • Hey, what's that mean?
  • Howdy, how's that applicable?
  • Etc.

Lately, the topic's been repeatedly, inescapably abiding.

Recently, a question was:

  • Do you have any personal ambitions that make it difficult to abide with Jesus?

and it's had me thinking ever since.

I probably should say, "thinking on purpose, thinking up front, thinking out loud," because the subject of personal ambition has been running in my background memory for some time now.

Now, I've never been one of those goal-oriented kinds of people or even the kind of person who wakes up with a plan for the day.  Just, whatever, okay?

Maybe I should have taken one of those skills or talents tests when I was still young enough to be taught new tricks.  Maybe knowing early on what I might be any good at would have goaded me to go.  I don't know.  Whatever.  Okay?

But there is a thing that I have known, 
a thing I've known is not my thing, 
not for me, 
not my forte.

If I've had any nameable ambition, it's been to not hang out with kids.

(Collective gasp, kid-lovers.  Get it out of your system.)

It's really not that I don't love them.  The Lord knows that I do love them ~ particularly my own.  I just don't understand them.  Don't know how to play with them, for sure.

Think I'm kidding?  I tried to play a game with a g'baby once, a game I'd seen the kids playing with her, some "pretend to bite the kid's hand" dog-jaw game.  I actually bit her.  We both cried.  It seemed obvious, then, that we'd both be safer if I just skipped the whole play thing.

What, then, but to aspire to empty-nesting?  It's a natural-seeming goal for a middle-aged woman, correct?  It's not wrong that I should aim to eat my food without sharing half of every single bite, watch what I very well want that isn't a cartoon, come and go and dress as I please without every decision hinging on the needs of a toddler, mop my floor just once per week ... right?

Never mind any true desires, if I'd had any.

And now that I've gotten all of that out my system, thank the Lord that I'm able-bodied and that our circumstances (humbly, prayerfully) allow for us to raise our two-year-old grandson. Thank you, Jesus, for every one of my kids and grandkids and for every child with whom You'll grant me the blessing to hang out.

No, I mean it.

Personal ambitions that make it difficult to abide with Jesus?  Well, I might have hoped to be a fairly average grandparent, one who just gets visited with some regularity, one who may or may not have special skills, one who gets to write complete sentences in one sitting.

But I don't usually get to write sentences without consequences:

I guess kids are just the task that's been assigned to me.
I guess I'll just aspire to play along.
Lord, just help me not to bite anybody!

When you obey me, you are abiding in my love, just as I obey my Father and abide in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your cup of joy will overflow! John 15:10-11

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


So, speaking of trash, I don't generally pay attention to the rubbish piles as I'm walking the 'hood; however, there was recently a particular mess that caught my eye.  As I passed, a hundred little slivers of a broken mirror were reflecting the rising sun and inviting me to do the same.

The first natural-seeming thing to do was to take this picture because, you know, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

As I walked and thought more about who I am, who I've been, and who I am becoming, I remembered that when I was young, I wanted very much to do something with photography; however, over the course of time, I've accepted that it's not going to be my number one something.  
But it can still be something.

Romans 1:20

Because I see created art from nearly every angle, and understand that it is mine to behold.  And mine to photograph, regardless of the outcome.

Maybe it's a simple-seeming conclusion, but for me this is fairly liberating.  It's as if a light's come on in the darkness.

Matthew 4:16

And that reminds me of the thing that counts the very most.  Like so many things I've tried, I probably won't be great to start.  Possibly, I'll never be great.  Possibly, I'll blunder, look the fool, maybe fail. However ~ and it's a mighty big however ~ I am in the process of transformation.

Because "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  
For we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

From overcoming to overcoming, from triumph to triumph, from glory to glory, I am being transformed, thank the Lord.