Writer, teacher and Public Speaker

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pure and Simple

I’ve been asked, sometimes in a mocking way, so "God speaks to you? How does this happen?" Pure and simple: Daily I hear the messages of the Life Giver or the Destroyer. The messages may come through songs, literature, messages or scripture. The thoughts and messages that come to my mind control the direction of my day and ultimately my life’s path. I determine which is which by determining if I am being pushed down or lifted up.

For many reasons the past week has been a difficult one – there are challenges with caring for my aging parents, professional opportunities and deadlines, and probably the most stressful of all, having one foot and a good bit of my heart in New England while the rest of me is in Nashville.  The demands of life bring constant stresses, and I cannot say I always respond well – I’ve felt anxiety and anger and my throat tightens with a sob I never have time to release. Before you ask - one not-so-brief visit to the ER confirmed what I knew all along, my heart is healthy.

Today we finishing packing our overstuffed van. In my arms I held a handful of items, as I stepped out into the cool New England air and walked towards the vehicle. I looked up to the blue sky and thought,“God – do you really care about all these mundane things? Do we really matter?” From the driveway the sound of a soft battering caught my attention – I saw a shadow fluttering against our garage window. How I hoped it was a Red bird, Cardinal or even an Oriel – but no it was just a sparrow. I even said it out loud, “Just a sparrow” – I grabbed a nearby cloth and went and trapped it and held it in my hands as I walked towards the open garage doors, it wriggled free and flew to freedom. The bird thought I was its captor, but in fact I was its liberator.

In the end perhaps it was probably all just a crazy coincidence – but ever since I’ve had the words of a familiar hymn running through my head – “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me – "

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tender Mercies

I put my arm around the eight-year-old camper who stiffened beneath my touch. In an instant the image of my eight-year-old self flashed before me. Like the foster child beneath my arms, I too had learned to resist affection at a young age

No doubt the reason for this is the fact that I grew up in boarding school. My mother often recalls her visits and how her little girl stiffened within her loving embrace. Perhaps it was my way of punishing my parents, I cannot say, but I do know resistance became my standard response. I learned to deprive myself of that which I longed for the most.

As a young adult I learned about other embraces, and I reached out to other lonely souls hoping to find one to whom I could cling. But the flirtations were fleeting and the affections only left me hungering for more.

Whether you’d known me a lifetime or if we just met, the hug was brief and the release quick.

At the age of thirty I reached out and touched the hem of the One who knew me best. He returned my tentative touch with one of healing perfection and untainted love. And though I remained guarded, He taught my soul about tenderness.

In time my soul learned to trust again and I met, and eight years later married my husband. He noticed the scarcity of affection within my family, but he took the risk and made me his wife. Cautiously my openly affectionate husband taught me to express the heart’s deep current of emotion. Without hesitation or desperation I learned about the tender mercies of touch.

This summer after a long absence I returned to New England, the place where I am known the best. I was welcomed with unrestrained affection. In one embrace I almost lost my ability to breathe – but for the first time in two score and eleven years I did not push away. With a heart of gratitude I relaxed and received.

I praise God for his many gifts, but today I am grateful for the gift of human touch. Not touch that demands a price I cannot pay, but touch that is conceived in a bottomless well of pure love.  I’m grateful that I’ve not only learned to receive, but also give this priceless gift that requires no words.

Imagine a lifetime where you’ve complicated something so simple and beautiful as a hug.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Skinny on Contentment


Lately I’ve been paraphrasing Paul’s verse from Philippians 4:11-12, that in whatever circumstances, I’ve learned to be content. Whether rich or poor, hungry or fed, skinny or fat: I’ve learned to be content.

Oddly enough my version isn’t too far from the original. However the reason I’ve been quoting my paraphrase is because of a group of women in a boutique in Jackson, Tennessee.

Before I go any further let me say I’ve never been one to group shop. My husband, blessed martyr that he is, has a great eye and usually agrees to shop with me about twice a year when I need to reinforce my wardrobe. Other than that I’m not much of a shopper of clothes, especially since my clothes have gotten uncomfortably snug. I feel a bit like a overssize pillow shoved into an undersize case.

But in early April these ladies unknowingly gave me the gift of a lifetime, and ever since there has been a shift of monumental proportions in my thinking.

For you see since I was ten years old I’ve always been concerned that I was too fat. And there were some occasions, even as a young person when I put on more weight than I should. During my junior year of high school the soft pretzels in a Philadelphia suburb did me in. For a lifetime, I’ve struggled with weight and self-image. Actually it was more than that – with extra weight came a sense of self-loathing. Terribly unhealthy – but who knew?

However, during that day in April those ladies liberated me.  They were beautiful, and comfortable in their own skin. They realized that their purpose for being was defined by more than a dress size, and somehow in those joyous shopping moments I was set free!

Free I tell you. So now I quote – whether I’m skinny or fat I’ve learned to be content. I want to be healthy and active and that’s my goal.  The result may be a smaller clothing size, but until that day – I am content…

… and grateful to that beautiful group of ladies, who were of all shapes and size.