Posts in Small Stories
Letters to Michael

I have had a new revelation this morning. Deep in the beautiful truths of ‘Good, Good Father’ and ‘Is He Worthy?’ sung by Chris Tomlin – those beautiful words washing over me, soothing me as my morning begins, I make a new decision. Michael needs to hear those words, those truths.

Michael is beyond my reach. Locked in a broken mind and a tormented spirit; at the unkind mercy of a broken justice system and sentenced to a life behind bars and in the company of felons. Because Michael is a felon himself.

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He Will Swallow Up Death Forever

It all started in a grave… and a borrowed one at that. Usually, it was the women who bathed the lifeless body, rubbed the skin with rich perfumes and lovingly, carefully wrapped their loved one in strips of linen.

This grave was different. It held a king. A king from a foreign land. Messengers from that foreign land, angels, watched silently from the shadows. All was quiet. They had no songs to sing, no words to say as they watched the two men at their work.

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A Knock on the Door

My sister had a recurring dream in the months before she passed away. She told me about it one day as I sat on the edge of her hospital bed. In her dream, she climbed a long staircase; at the top was a locked door. She tried the door, but it would not open.

I think I shared with her the verse from the Revelation to John; that we are the ones who open the door. Our conversation went no deeper at the time. This recurring dream of hers continued and expanded and there came a time when she opened that door.

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A Reason to Shop for Shoes

I was ill-prepared when I set out on this little journey. The sun was high in the sky, the air crisp and warm with a slight breeze. At the end of the trail there are waterfalls, clearly marked with an orange star. But I will not make it there. My hiking boots are safe and sound on the other side of the continent in the dark of my closet, as I slip and slide in my black Adidas on the hard-packed snow and ice that carpets the trail.

I will make do with a large granite rock and the babble of the brook intermixed with the occasional car on the road that runs parallel.

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Horizon Gazer

Have you ever found yourself saying no to God? I have. And let me tell you right now; it is the wrong side of the argument to be on.

 I have led an amazing Bible Study for the last 17 years and I started out on that path, at the very beginning with those words of ‘no’ in all their variations choo-choo-ing in my brain like a little toy train going around and around. “No, no. no.”

 God was pretty gentle with me, and patient, putting the bible story about the 10 spies who said no to him outside of the Promised Land into my head, (if you don’t know the story – look it up – it is pretty terrifying!).

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A Total Eclipse of the Heart – Sing it, Bonnie Tyler!

Sunday night, in Colorado Springs, I sat outside by a blazing fire with strangers and watched the gloriously white full moon turn the color of a blood orange in a total eclipse. It was amazing and beautiful – but it could not compare with the total eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017. It is one thing for the moon to have its light from the sun blocked but to watch the light of the sun disappear is a whole different thing.

Did you see it? Do you remember the slight chill in the air? Travel back with me to that week of the sun going dark – I am glad I wrote about it then.

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The Slimy Pit

We are all standing together in a big hole. It is deep, with slick steep sides. We can look up and see light – the blue sky above us – brilliant and sparkling. But when we look down, obscured by shadows, our eyes gradually adjust and we begin to see the ground moving beneath our feet.

 It is mud; sandy and thick and wet. It is much too soft to find a solid foothold. We shift our weight, and it fills in around our ankles. Quicksand; the stuff of Tarzan movies.

 It holds tightly to our ankles, gradually creeping up to encircle our calves. We lift our knees high, trying to step above the thick bone-cold mud that holds us in its grasp. We look at each other; we are in trouble.

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Romance Rekindled

I was afraid that it would never be that good again.

 You know the feeling. That giddy feeling of happiness. Your heart beating a little faster when you were in his presence. The time of intimacy spent alone… just talking…and just hearing his voice. The comfort of being able to pour your heart out when the world stopped on its axis and started turning the wrong way around.

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Good News of Great Joy

Dare I write of a manger and a virgin giving birth? How do you possibly put pen to paper about such things?

Angels have sung songs about it; shepherds have crowded into a dark and foul shelter to see a newborn in his mother’s arms. The planets shifted in their orbit to send one star closer and brighter than all the rest. Stargazers charted their course and Herod slept fitfully in his bed unaware that a new king had come to town.

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Fragrant Words

There is a woman in my neighborhood who has homemade signs in her front yard. I don’t know her, but her signs speak volumes to me. Her signs are colorful and hand-lettered. She displays a popular slogan against a political candidate and carefully letters out an acrostic of negative name-calling. When I walk our borrowed dog past her house it makes me sad to see such ugly sentiments permanently on display, marking her space.

This is my own struggle lately. Harsh and judgmental words. 

Almost every morning I awake with my own words that I spoke carelessly the day before haunting me.

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Dancing in the Moonlight

I watched her, gorgeous and tall in her ivory jumpsuit, four-inch heels with ankle-straps, brown hair flowing almost in slow motion. Unbridled joy filled her face as she danced within the circle of teenagers, the music from the wedding DJ lifting the dancers as they clapped and spun in circles, faces and arms lifted high.

 Occasionally her husband would face her, pumping arms to the beat, before moving off to dance alongside others. 

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And the Rain Will Fall…

I wake this morning to the sound of gentle rain falling on my roof, and outside my windows. It is a gentle rain.

I wander through the house, cup of coffee in hand, looking out through discs of water clinging to glass, and beyond to the pine-straw dark and rich with moisture, the bamboo bowing down gracefully under its new weight. Rain. I am thankful for its arrival. But after three days, I will be happy for the skies to clear and the sun to shine again.

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Saved

The invitation.

The chance to respond.

What if it was never given?

What if the question was never asked? 

“Do you want to accept Jesus into your heart as your Savior?”

And I said, 

palms sweating against the back of the wooden pew in front of me,

knees shaking and legs like jelly,

pushing past my cousins lined up beside me,

“yes”.

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Squishing God into a Small Box

We like to keep God small and manageable. We may visit Him on Sundays from eleven until noon. We may look up into the night sky and exclaim His wonders. We may talk to Him when a friend has had a heart attack or our children are late arriving home. But we like to keep him contained. Not too big. Not too out of control.

We forget that the shepherd David was also outlaw and warrior before becoming king over a divided nation. He saw God larger than life. And he wrote love songs to Him. 

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Dying Flowers and The Water of Life

The sun was already high in the sky as we took off for our neighborhood walk. My niece, my daughter, her baby in the stroller, and me. The neighborhood is hilly, the streets are winding with no sidewalks, so we walk in the street, at a leisurely pace in our leggings and athletic shoes. Pretending to get exercise. Mainly to talk women-talk and share our lives.

It is on the crest of a dangerous hill, where cars cannot see us because of the steep approach and the sharp descent that we pause near the driveway of a 1960’s once-modern house. Deep down its wooded slope, the shell of the house is undergoing extensive rebuilding after a kitchen fire. Construction rubble, charred framing, a trash dumpster. My daughter reaches down and picks up a small handful of wilting flowers. 

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Death Has Lost Its Sting

‘Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take’

Did you learn this bedtime prayer as a child? I think I must have. By the time my kids came along I was long gone from church and all its practices and I thought this was the most morbid prayer you could ever teach a child! 

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God is Your Neighbor: He Just Doesn’t Look Like You Thought

I have the awkward privilege of caring about Michael. It is a strange friendship that always needs explaining. I have become his voice to bankers and detectives, lawyers and prison wardens. It is not something I care to do in my spare time. And I can’t see how it will possibly have a happy ending. But here we go.

 It started with a story. It always does, doesn’t it? You know the story; the one of the school shooter, who slipped in the front door of an elementary school with an AK-47 and a backpack full of ammunition and by the grace of God was talked into laying that gun down as helicopters circled overhead and swat teams reloaded their rifles. School shooters never live to tell their tale. Michael did. So someone needed to talk to him. That would be me.

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Salted Watermelon, Wrong Monograms, and Different Versions of the Same Story

My momma said she didn’t know why I liked my watermelon with salt on it. I thought it was our family thing… “Lord, no. I don’t know where you got that.”

 I dig around in my memory and realize whenever watermelon was involved, it came through the backyard balanced on the shoulder of Woodrow Bolding and was promptly placed in the pool to chill (that tells you a little bit about the temperature of that water). Later it was sliced length-wise into wedges and if you wanted, there were knives to cut your slice into little cubes of red juicy goodness and the tin salt shaker. 

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