Body-slammed By Grace ( And A Poem)

Some weeks just feel more grace-filled than others. Maybe they truly are. Or maybe it is our perspective. Perhaps grace comes in waves. Flowing freely some weeks and dripping slowly drop by drop during some drier seasons. Or maybe it is a matter of the lens we use to view this wild and crazy grace laden life we each are given to live.

This week was full and long and lovely. And I was body-slammed by grace. Felt the weight of its glory bearing down on my soul.  Washing over me like a tidal wave of wonderful palpable moments. Sweet and savory, a sensory overloaded stretch of amazing grace. A covering of a canopy painted in shades of neon and pale, brilliant and faded, but always, mercifully blanketed by it. Exposed. Receptive. Receiving. Surprised. By Grace.

elizabeth's path

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Vingettes of Grace

One
I got lost really turned around in circles lost. In a fog figuratively and in the rain literally. Bound and determined to eventually find the T-mobile store. I know, don’t judge. I needed a new phone. But what God had in mind was for me to be touched by the words I exchanged there with a total stranger. This is a story. This is a poem. This was the heart of human connection at a soulful and spiritual place. It wasn’t deep but it was wide. I brushed up against the cloth of his garment. He embraced me, this tall and dark stranger. He asked me if I was a Christian. This is a story. A very long one. But it left me dazed by grace. And in awe of what was waiting for me in the rat’s maze of my lost wanderings in a city I don’t yet know well.

Robert Lewis Stevenson

Two
I left town for a week or so and I am now on my fifth week away from my family, with my family of birth. I am lonely but not alone. Filled with joy, but torn into pieces. By the separation from pieces of my heart that are a five hour drive from here. This is a ministry but  I am being ministered to. A paradox. A new paradigm of love.  While I am serving in a small way I am healing.  This is my Africa. This is my foodbank. This is my shelter.  I am where I was called to go. I am home but I am not home.  I am body-slammed by the ministry of presence. And I am the receiver of the gift.

Three
I am wearing a new hat these days. I am a book editor and a proofreader and on the team of a book launch. My mother wrote a book. For ten years she invested in this project of the heart. A story that was handed to her in the form of letters over 100 years old. She weaves the tapestry of this story. One of a girl whose parents send her to Virgina while they serve as missionaries in the interior of Brazil in the late 1800’s. It is beautifully told by my mother who doesn’t remember writing the story. Dementia took that part of her journey from her.  Over two hundred pages, Homeward is a historical novel based on the letters of Esther, her great-grandmother who is separated from her family who remains in Brazil while Esther is sent to school and to extended family. This is a story. This is a poem. Here in  an eruption of grace, in the birthing of the book and the dedication of my father to have it published lies a love story. You will read more from me of the unfolding of book and its journey to be published. A grace explosion right before me. I am glad that I stayed. I like this hat. It fits me. Maybe not well.  Amazed, truly, it even fits me at all.

the glider

Four
I had my words go a couple of places this week. Humbled and honored that they have wings.  That they were invited to  fly out of the nest. I stand under the shower-head of rushing grace to think that they, my little fledglings are journeying elsewhere. I would be honored to have you see one of the places my poem “I Was Just Wondering Because I Am Weird That Way” landed. It was written a couple of Sundays ago after I visited a church with my parents. It is the overflow of my heart after a worship service in which grace was manifested, moistening  my wide-eyed windows to the world. Click this link:

130811-24Window

And Tweetspeak Poetry ran a little piece of mine this week under their “Literary Tour” section. If you missed it you can read it here. I enjoyed the experience that lead to writing the piece, and even more so the comments and feedback from readers. Thank you. If you haven’t visited Tweetspeak, maybe now would be a great time to check out the words, the wit, the wonder that awaits at this fun home for poetry. And you can add to my joy.  It would drip grace over me if you have time to read and leave a footprint over there. Thanks friends, in advance.

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A Poem

I joined Tweetspeak Poetry this week for their poetry prompt “Bottled and Canned”. The creative folks over there threw this one out.  Clever., huh? What a fun way to be stretched creatively.  Here is my poem:

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Canned Hands

We played with the long green veins
In church
Ran our fingers down and up
While he preached the sermon
Children, restless
Intrigued by the vessels big and raised
Called them worms
Back in the days
Of her youth and ours
Now she reaches out for me
I count on them to be there
Wish I could bottle it up
or can it, place it on the top shelf
That warm feeling
We knit fingers, grasp and clasp
I want to save those ten digits, flesh and bone
Preserve the love found in them
Can the goodness
Preserve her love
Better than any bottled potions that the Ride Aid sells
A mother
And her aging love, suspended in time
Held

A Few Things I Learned In July

Now this is really fun to write. I do hope it is fun to read. You have been warned that extreme randomness fills the lines of this post. I do  love joining Emily P. Freeman over at Chatting At The Sky, her beautiful blog home. I especially enjoy the series “What I Learned…..”. You may want to visit the others who have linked up  at Emily’s with what they learned this month. Some things are serious and educational, others are humorous and reveal a little  of life’s craziness and/or the writer’s personal nuances. You may even learn something new about this writer.

I will say, I may take creative license and include some things I have learned NOT in July but in general and about which I  feel  utterly compelled to share. You can try to figure out which item falls into that category. You may want to get out now. You have been warned. 🙂

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1. I learned not to judge a writer by her writing. Well by that I mean this. I had a lovely meet up with two bloggers this week. Up until this point I only knew them by their blogs and social media. Amazingly they have two legs and two arms each and in this case they are both funny as all get out. I almost said something else but I didn’t. Self editing helps. I met Kendal Privette and Amy L. Sullivan for coffee at the quintessential coffee house, The Dripolator. These two women are the realest deal and both have hearts spun from pure gold. They drove out of their way to meet me. I am grateful. Thank you Kendal for the poetry book. I cherish it.

2. If you are leaving church,  pulling out into traffic from said church’s parking lot OR if you have a sign of the fish on your car, be nice. I am just saying. That may raise the bar on your driving etiquette but people, this is the time to raise the bar on yourself.  It is a good time to defer, slow down, pay it forward and just kill  ’em with kindness. There will be plenty of sweet tea at the after church buffet when you get there.

3. Editing is hard work. Well, proof-reading is hard work. My father and I are editing my mother’s book (twenty chapters long). Let’s just say it is not as easy as it looks. The next time you read a book and you find a typo, try not to be all, “Wow how did this book ever get printed and distributed, I mean with typos and stuff.”  We are proof-reading behind several people, at least one of which was paid to find the errors. To forgive is divine.  And I am convinced the eye reads what it thinks should be there,  we  often miss our own typos even after proof-reading five times or so. And thanks for grace here. I have had my few…..hundred myself.

4. One of the best places to dine out of doors is in my summertime back yard. Run don’t walk to The Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Well don’t run, just call and make  a reservation if you are anywhere near Western North Carolina. And don’t quote me. I just happen to have had a wonderful experience there. Who knows, maybe you will too. The sunset over the valley and the Asheville skyline are beautimous.

5. Walking through life with an aging  mother is filled with intrigue and wonder. I learned this in July and I am learning it in August and hopefully will continue to learn from it for the rest of my life. I will definately be writing more about that and Dementia here.

summer veggies

6. I am obsessed with Instagram and with taking pictures of food, seeing it increasingly as  art. Instagram is like an art gallery of the lives and art of folks I seem to be following– mostly family, friends, bloggers and magazines whose work I love. I am there at @graceappears on Instagram. It seems like a quiet place to be in  a very loud world. And yes, I realize that I contribute to the noise. Should I be following you.

7. Poets are some of the funniest people I know. At least the folks at Tweetspeak Poetry are. I recently participated in their “Take A Poet To Work Day.” Man that really caught on, like all around the globe. We started with flat puppets like flat Stanley. Whoever that is. And the rest is too hard to explain so I recommend you head over there and read the recap. It was a day of wit and whimsy and child’s play. Which takes me to my next point.

8. I am enjoying this summer almost more than I did when I was a child. And I am learning to play again. Though I am not quite there, I am making progress with becoming reacquainted with channeling the inner child. (see Instagram for examples of summer fun.)

summer picture JULY

9. When I make a salad, I am at my easel with paints and brushes and a blank canvas. One of my new favorite “paintings” is a peach salad. Here is the recipe. Fresh greens (I used red leaf which is not always a favorite but it was perfect here.) Fresh Peaches ( I like the peel on) sliced thinly and then cut bigger than bite size. I know I am weird that way. Blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbes. And candied walnut pieces.(I found them in the produce section. And then a vinegar and oil dressing. I added rotisserie chicken. Yummers. A meal.

10. I am thinking of and dreaming of two things. (Well more than that but…..you know what I mean.)  I am going to begin to look for a publisher for a poetry book and I am dreaming of collaborating with another writer or musician on some song lyrics. Let me know if you know anything about either of these so that I don’t spin around in circles endlessly dreaming and scheming. Who knows, maybe by August’s list of “A Few Things I Learned in August” I will be able to report what I now know about dreaming of writing and publishing a poetry book.
trio in nature

11. I am amazed at the quality of my camera phone. #oldschool not an #iphone.  And I am still using and totally  obsessed with Pikmoney. (pikmonkey dot com) I don’t always photo edit, but when I do it is with Pikmonkey. Instagram has it’s own fun filters. But you already knew that.

See you in August. Wait. No. I hope I will see you around here before then. Poetry is popping up all over and almost daily. Sort of like the mushrooms. It is like the summer of mushrooms with all the rain, they are taking over. I digress.

Why I Am Dreaming Small and Under The Oaks

(Thank you.  Yes, you. Dear readers here, you  who are uncertain of poetry. I too,  am uncertain of poetry. But you are still here reading. Or maybe you have left, because of poetry. So  I’ve  decided I  am going to make a little space for more prose. To offer both, together, for a season. Each time I post I will publish prose and poetry. Thank you for journeying with me as I pen this life, look for beauty, reflect my faith, and place words, some shaky, some brave, into this community. Let’s see how a vision of prose and poetry will look, here. And now that the comments are open again,  I would love to hear your thoughts on two writing forms, together. Here, in this little corner of the inter-webs. Wising you grace, elizabeth)

thank you peach

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morning light on flowers hydrangae

Under The Oaks

I spot threes
Write sounds in threes
See the world in
Triplicates
Focus a lens on multiples
Trios

So fitting, that  on a street named Venning
The street with three n’s
There are three souls, new
To me
Three new friends have I
I spy beauty

Grace and elegance

Grand dames
I could have come and gone
Perish the thought
I’d never known the life behind the smiles
Life lines on their faces
Telling

Me
New one on the street with the winding sounds
Learning of life
I make my way
Up and down the tree lined street

Life learned
From a trio of grace
From the Ladies of Venning

Quiet now, they are living large
Speaking softly, they live and breath
A writer, a gardner, a traveller
Lover of film and land
Living their stories

Wonder and awe
It is well to
Listen

To the three
Ladies of  well-lived
Lives,  it appears
From where I sit and stare

And  wait to earn a place
Of friendship
Among the three
Who barely know me
And  yet, have shown

Friendship
Grace

So I study the lines
My eyes trace their living
Laugh lines, crows feet
Fragile lines around the eyes
And mouth

Of these three
Ladies, each

Under the oaks
With me.

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Spencer and the dolphin

Why I Am Dreaming Small

And so it seems everyone is dreaming big. Anyone  that dreams at all has big dreams.  Thrown up and out into the sea of living. Brave and big. Bold and large. The bigger the better. Super-sized.  These dreams of man.

Words crisscross my screen every day  about these dreams, the ones that I see  looming large. But I think I am dreaming small.  Not because of fear. But I , like everyone have my share of fear.  Not because of lack of faith, for mine is at least the size of a mustard seed.

Because I hear a  clear crisp call to small. One that  whispers in my ear of dreams scaled down, sized in miniature. But lovely nonetheless.

Small dreams now from a grand and glorious God who is the one that’s large.

How beautiful and whimsical, are my little hopeful dreams.  The ones I  have dancing in my mind, by day and keeping me awake at night.  They lack nothing in the winnowing. The paring back and whittling down.

It is not really that I have  a shrunken faith. Or fear to take my dreams and expand them on a larger scale. Truly, not.

It is, rather, that I am seeing beauty in the small things, after all. It comes with age. A grand release. And in my younger days I dreamed so big. And came to value all that is small. I walked to here, a place of growing contentment, in the smallest acts of kindness, moments, and conversations with a friend.

And somewhere in this life, I am  coming to a place. That not all measurements are more wonderful,  the larger they become. So we are looking for a home. Another house to call our own the remainder of our days.  Is this the eighth. I can’t count. But  graciously and gratefully , one that will be new for us. Or maybe held the joy of others for sometime. Another  through the years.

New is not necessary,nor is big.

And I am dreaming of one small and cozy. I dream  on Pinterest and in my mind and with The Patient One. And look for beauty, comfort and a house with just  a little this and a little that. For my children and my children’s children.

I’m finding contentment after all, in you guessed it, things so small.

Last night we found a house we love. It fits my dreams just so.

I am dreaming small. We laughed at the little number  the realtor printed on the sheet; the one that revealed the total space, for living, here. But I know we would have just enough. All we need. Even though we dream of adding a bit to what is there. Because we have a history of piling up and  piling on and living in a cozy space. Just wearing out and down the soul of every house we’ve owned. Even though we have lived large. Between the walls of lots of space and things.

Small now calls my name.

I heard a story of a man, a writer in his graying years. And he had published seven poems. Ever in his life of writing. Only.  Until he wrote a little book. And off it went, big and large. A big success from all accounts.

One never knows where dreams might go. I love friends with dreams so big. And God may grow mine bigger.

But for now they are just so dreams. A little small.

So I will write my little poems. Here for awhile. And maybe one day there. And dream a little dream of one days. That maybe I will find a publisher who says lets go and run, or fly or soar. Or maybe even a home between the covers, nestled in a spine. My little poems will settle down and live up  on a shelf, in a book leather bound.  One that has a name that’s gold embossed, that is my very own.   Or maybe my poems will gather. And compile themselves.  Into  a collection. Walk themselves off to a printer and return to me in published form.

I love my little dreams.  They fit me just right, right now.

And that is why my God sized dreams may look a little small. One never knows where dreams will go when they are grown by God.

Maybe tomorrow they will grow an inch or two. After I grow contented with what I have and where I am.

My portion perfected by his loving hand.

Oh to dream, by day, by night. And watch Him change us in our dreaming. Bless us always with so much more.

Than we ever dreamed, was possible or could be true.

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Joining Jennifer Dukes Lee and Emily for Imperfect Prose

(I am gathering some of my writing to submit to a magazine as examples of my work along with some ideas for editorial content. If you have a prose piece you  have particularly enjoyed  let me know in the comments. Let’s see where this dream goes. You will be some of the first to know.)

A Book of Hope- Day 3

Oh you are here. That’s so lovely. Shoulder to shoulder on this 31 Day mini jaunt through some of my favorite words. If you missed day 1 on ordinary and day 2 on savor you can skip over here and here and do a catch up of sorts.

She wants to fill a word container, like she’d fill a vase with fresh cut garden beauties, a loose arrangement.

She wants to fill a word container up with words stuck in the inner places waiting at the end of the que, patient as the English. Not their time, not their turn. The waiting sweetens, the waiting improves with age, like cheese and wine and marriage. A trio of age improved elements. Add her word container to the mix and make it a foursome.

They can play tennis, golf, cards these four.

Her container is named small h hope, her book. The one on Hope is written and is bound in the Holy, with words, sacred, words God-breathed. Red letters and words from the Trinity.

But her book of hope will spill words on the page. They will run like rabbits, down  trails of hold on, cease worry, end despair,  look for tomorrow, see through the wormholes in today.

She will release them on the white crisp paper and let them flow like riverlets. Jumping the beaver dams of apathy and malcontent and run unobstructed to deliver buckets of hope. Wet the pages with words kicking and screaming there is always hope.

She will draw from His book of hope and lean into Him.  Ask for words, humbly and meekly. Give me words to scatter that tell of hope. Its linked by hyphens to trust and to knowing and faith.

She knows He knows of all her days, her hours.Where she and Hope have been together. When she loosed her hands and held less firm. When her threadbare rope looked like a string to her and him and they.

She can only tell her story, shaky, story, brave, story. Stammering, stuttering, hers.

But better bound in leather in its imperfect state than bound in her. He, the editor knows when to publish and release. She has lips and a mouth and a tongue to tell. The paper is just one place the words can buckle up and ride off. Buckle up and face forward. Wheels on the ground. They roll.

When loosed and left to flap unfettered, like drying sheets drape over backyard cord, breathing, flailing, singing sweet in green grass breeze. They point to new.

And new looks mercifully on the past and says stay, sit, heel. I will toss you a biscuit stay right there. Hope is on the way. Hope infuses her brilliant radiant joyous spirit in the from here forward.

But bound in leather, not by chains of pain, or links of past.

The book of little h hope, waiting in the que.

Until her day comes.

Writing in community with these fine folks, Jennifer, Ann, Duane, Amber and Emily

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