under construction



i’m five days into a kitchen remodel and the flowers are dying outside.

the air is cold and i don’t have a stove, but still the light is coming through the windows.

a friend drove all the way from england yesterday and i feel like i’m learning how to talk again.  i’m learning how to express my mind, trusting the face laid bare in front of me.

i wonder how many second chances i’ll get in this life.



if i were taking my cues from nature i suppose the renewal is a lifetime of chances kind of thing.

and i feel lucky.  i feel the luck.

so keep coming around, friends from england.  friends from ireland and friends from roseville, friends from detroit city and friends from the u.p.  keep coming around and i’ll drive on over, too.

somehow we’re going to reconstruct all the places where we prepared the food that keeps us alive and it’ll be better.

somehow every beautiful flower we’ve loved is going to die.  it’s going to die right in front of our naked eyes and there won’t be a damn thing we can do to stop it.

and somehow the dead will be raised.

maybe even as soon as next spring.


for you

or maybe not.

the clouds are floating by a bit too fast this morning.  and ella rode off to school today with her face set to the cold wind.

the mix of the divine and the wicked of this world is too much.

but i’ll keep loving you.  even when i lose you.  i’ll weep and weep to the point of wondering how i’ll breathe again at the end of it.  but we’re made to endure it.  i will love with a love so free because i don’t want to miss a single wild, beautiful moment with you.

and then i’ll see you again, whole and strong.

we’ll sit down in the kitchen and talk and i’ll thrill to hear the flower of your heart once again.

Posted in beauty, death, faith, friendship, resurrection | Leave a comment


man overboard! quick throw him this bible!


sometimes the story of jesus christ can get old.

you know it already.  lived, died, rose again.

you know the tenets.  you understand that redemption of bad situations into good that in turn can touch and change the lives of others is god’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

you know that.

but it doesn’t compel.

beauty from ashes?  yeah, yeah.  i know.



there is a body of knowledge that belongs to god.

god’s story, god’s ways – and it doesn’t change.

that is true for most bodies of knowledge.  you want to study molecular geometry, you want to become a pastry chef, you want to fly an airplane?  these are bodies of knowledge and by and large, they don’t change.

after you study them and teach them to others, after you live them out in your daily work – they get old, too.

god is different though in that he promised to love you.

god wasn’t supposed to be cold knowledge that could be ingested and then sit like a stone in your gut.  molecular geometry might get old, but it never promised you friendship.

so with the body of knowledge that god brought what do you do?

mock it.

deny it.

despise it.


here’s what i’ve been wondering –

what does a body of knowledge owe me?  what do i owe it?

can i make peace with that god’s ways can be known?  that even a life lived praying for the holy spirit to be close takes on a somewhat predictable pattern?

like marriage.

like best friends.

like a boy and his dog.

relationships based on bodies of knowledge aren’t useless because they can be known.

in my quest for new, for more, for exciting people and information that seems endless, i forget the gold ring in my pocket.


these days i keep the ring hidden.  i’m a lot less apt to proudly wear it on my hand.  keep it to myself.  quiet.

you might not even know who i belong to or what i believe.

until i’m drowning or i see you going under.

then somehow the ring slips right over my head or yours and the knowledge of bringing what was dead back to life becomes air, becomes reality, becomes a beating heart.

that’s when i’ll be revealed.

there will be no question about who i belong to when we reach the end of human capacity to do a damn thing.


this is what i believe.  this is who i am.

a ring of commitment.  a ring of rescue.  a ring of boring domesticity.

lord, help me never to despise the knowledge of you.

Posted in faith, friendship, hidden life, jesus | 3 Comments


pop music and the teenage soul


this thing keeps happening as my 13 year old daughter listens to pop music.  it takes me by surprise.  maybe it’s the scientific algorithms or maybe not.

mazzy will play another teen anthem about taking life and love by storm and somewhere a few bars in – i have to stop myself from weeping.

mind you, these are not stellar songs, but there i am shutting my mouth and blinking hard.

the bold, unwavering declarations of pop music’s inner life heard through the ears of teenager – or the ears of 40 year old mother who remembers what it was like to belt out those songs – it’s a powerful thing.

my girl

and i forgot.

or maybe i never knew.

there is a fierceness in youth.  there is a belief in one’s self that is devastating in its naiveté.

and it’s so beautiful.

the passionate, furious emotion of the teenage soul.

i forgot.

you are sweet to me

here’s how it goes:

start a really popular anthem and cue mom singing along with child.  we’re hitting the chorus now – don’t cry! don’t cry! – and look over at my girl.  my girls.  my girls and my boy.

they sing along, too and for them, it’s no big deal.

there is no welling admiration for blind free will in their hearts.  that’s only in me.  they sing as the world flies by the car window.  somewhere inside the countdown of days to when they get to drive has begun.

they listen to the music that anticipates the launch .

and it is valiant.

Posted in beauty, mothering, teenagers, the human soul, time | 3 Comments


october reminds me of summer


us the summer was good.

yes, i’m still thinking about summer.  i still am processing that it’s over.

we looked out the windows this morning and frost was holding fast to the top of the car, to the clover on the yard.  the heat has been kicking on.  abraham pulled out his electric blanket a couple of nights ago.

fall is upon us but still i’m recalling sunny days on the sand.

set off


i’ve been thinking about smiling lately.

i tend to think too much and smile not as often.  i heard that mother teresa would dismiss any who wanted to work with her if they didn’t begin to smile regularly after living with her for a few weeks.

i would have been dismissed.

i sat a bible study the other day and the person next to me couldn’t not smile.  their face was a beam.  i sat with brow furrowed next to them and thought about that too much.  i chastised myself internally that i don’t have a smile at the ready.


we recently moved down the street from a large lake.  when i go for groceries or to the gas station, there’s a high likelihood that i’ll pass it as i drive.

when i left the bible study i did just that.  i drove down a street and the houses gave way to water.  a wide open space that sings back to the wide open space in every man, woman and child.

and i realized i was smiling.

not engineered or thought about.  just a response to what makes me happy.  apparently i like what i like and i’m way too hard on myself.


i had a conversation on a beach one night about wide open spaces.

it was a couple of days after the eclipse and the moon was startling and demanding to be worshipped.  my friend had bought an extremely good bottle of wine – and us, the three of us – talked about the human soul.

how the shoreline speaks of separation from something larger.  how our insides cry for connection.  how filled up we become near it.  how we look forward to transcending the limits we’re confined by and be reunited with all of creation.

take me with you

so yeah, i’m still saying goodbye to summer.

i’m still trying to seek it while it can be found, a little in vain i realize, but denial has its uses.

luckily though i really love fall, too.

Posted in good life, outside, summer, the human soul | Leave a comment


children on the shore


“Now I don’t want anything,”  the father of Aylan Kurdi said a day later, after filling out forms at a morgue to claim the bodies of his family. “Even if you give me all the countries in the world, I don’t want them. What was precious is gone.”


i went to the water a few days ago.

i took my children to the water to lay around in the sand.  i drank wine and laughed with my friends.

i took pictures in perfect light.


i brought them all home safe.  i’ve held them in my arms since and felt their beating hearts. i’ve kissed their warm faces.

they are more precious to me than all the countries in the world.


but what should i do now?

what is a fitting way to respond to the war in syria?

there is great wisdom in the words of this grieving father.

“Now I don’t want anything.  Even if you give me all the countries in the world, I don’t want them. What was precious is gone.”


maybe it’s best to look at what is precious.  maybe it’s enough to examine what it is i want and why.  it might be good enough to respond by looking at every warring faction in my own life and saying no thank you.

i think i’ll buy a plot of land and live in peace for the rest of my days, as much as it depends on me.


one stupid three dollar raft could have saved the life of a child.

maybe.  maybe not.

and we have them ad nauseam.

but i don’t want anything now.  if you gave me the world, i wouldn’t want it because i already have what is precious and irreplaceable and so close i can reach out and feel its heartbeat under my palm.

help me keep this father’s truth close today, lord.

sign this, give here, pray daily.

Posted in childhood, grief, prayer, real suffering | Leave a comment


codependent as the day is long

i have a real problem.

i’m nearly addicted to the approval of people.

it’s strange.  and it strangles.  it has made me do things that i’m not proud of.

i’ll be the fool.

i’ll be the fool for you.

for me, there is a thin line between love and utter codependence.


and it’s funny.  it really is.

i love people a lot.  the people who i give my time to – they matter too much to me sometimes.

and it isn’t wrong to love people.  it’s the language of god.  it’s good.

but somewhere in there, i slip.  i’ll put on any costume to make you laugh or see you give that inside joke of a smile my way.

does this work?

is it working now?

do you love me back?


i called everyone yesterday.  no one picked up the phone.  so then i pretended that jesus had a phone and i called jesus.

and it was so.  good.

i was honest.  i told him what i couldn’t have said to any of the people who didn’t answer.  i talked about the things i didn’t realize i was dying to say.

i talked to god who is also my friend.  that is the language of god, too.

then this morning, i opened my bible and i sat on the receiving end of the line.  i heard the words of god spoken back into my ears.

“we are not trying to please people but god, who tests our hearts.  you know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed – god is our witness.  we were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.”

and i can breathe again.

thank you.  thank you.  thank you.

and i can love again without slipping.

thank you, lord.

thank you.

Posted in faith, friendship, healing, jesus, thankful | Leave a comment


closing papers and the letter of the law

city building

“sign here and initial here.”

there are many papers to be signed.  we are buying a house, we are selling a house.  the closer across the table has a wide smile and glasses halfway down her nose.

“this paper just says that if there are any typos that you’ll come to the office and resign those documents.”

it’s strange what i’ll sign my name to.

binding contracts with clauses and fine print – one sheet after another.  i’m taking her word for it.  i’m listening to what’s being said out loud.  i’m not taking the time to read through it all myself.

not that it would matter anyway.


the letter of the law is malleable depending on the state of the reader’s heart it seems.

i’ve done that before.

when what i want to do is confirmed around every corner.  i have been so sure of what god would have me do with this one life at one time or another.

when i wanted the approval of my teachers, my friends – of god as i understood god at the time – i signed on the dotted line with my life.

every word agreed and every sentence said what i knew it would say.  there was dew on every fleece.

it’s true, hearts can hold sway over the letter of the law.

and that’s okay, too.

sign here

i run my fingers over dry, cracked lips.

being a human being is a fragile business.

the small points, the tiny white blossoms of queen annes lace of living, feel driven over the past days and months.

we can never be sure of the integrity of our choices and yet we must make them.

how to live an honest life then?

i’ve got some ideas.  do what you love.  get away to the quiet places as often as you can. give away money.  worship god with the upright when possible.

these things seem best to me these days.

finishing touch

“this page shows what you’ll actually pay over the entire 30 years of the mortgage.”

it takes my breath away to look at the totality of what i’m signing my name to.  better just to live today.  this one day.  first today and then tomorrow.

but we sign and initial a little differently this time around.

for one thing, i’m not so sure of myself or of the future.  i sign knowing that houses and places don’t make people happy.  i’m signing aware that god doesn’t readily share his will with humanity, no matter who nods along when you share your plans.

so we sign anyway.  we sign with our lives, carried by the grace that marks us, right on the dotted line once more.  and it’s going to be alright.  i think it really is.

Posted in christian culture, detroit, good life, provision | Leave a comment


where is god?


i’m opening the clasp between four fingers, just at the tips.  it is delicate work putting on a necklace.  silver on the very edge of nail and then it’s behind my back and in my mind’s eye where this smallest loop is waiting.

it comes to me that god is like this.

these arguments that god is too busy to care about the small, the insignificant – they’ve never held sway.  “don’t bother god.  he’s god.  your prayers about your petty life are wasting his time.”

i feel the light chain on my fingers.  i find the loop i cannot see.

i know god cares about the details of a life.


because if we can, why can’t god?

the argument of god being too big to care about the small makes god so very small. i imagine that it’s god’s close, intimate way that makes us say such things.  how can someone so big want to get so close?

so close, that is, to me.

instead we say, “stay far away, god.  stay remote on a cloud or deep in space or buried in the furthest regions of my mind.  you stay there.”  and then i will claim that god is too big to fit into my bedroom, into my car, into my life.


the god i know is big, yes.  it’s unfathomable really.  it’s nice to wonder about that sometimes. that in this big silent world there is an unseen power who could pull it all off.  i like to revel in that, i do.

but the god i know is also laid bare and close.  god is vulnerable beyond what most of us can stomach.

i feel him now, standing close behind.  he is taking the silver clasp from my fingers.  i’m bringing my hands down to my sides now and letting the necklace fall into place.

i’m not alone in these smallest of endeavors.

Posted in beauty, contentment, jesus, the presence of god | 2 Comments


a strange and bitter crop


how do you write about the strange fruit in america these past months?

how do you write about it as a person with skin so light that i always pass in every situation?

maybe you don’t write about it.

but i don’t know how not to.

as each video was shared i understood that this was not new.  but rather the public was just now privy to an old, old story.  that these videos were new for mainstream media, they were new for the privileged.

but it was nothing new for people with black bodies.

we, those who have existed in ignorance, were only beginning to witness the normal of the oppressed.


“The expectation that catching things on video tape is going to save us is deeply flawed and even when things like Eric Garner’s killing is caught on tape that doesn’t necessarily mean anything is going to happen.”

“You really can’t be an African-American in this country and see the Walter Scott video and be completely amazed.  You just don’t have the luxury of living that way.”  

–  Ta-Nehisi Coates


Ta-Nehisi Coates says it better.  Read him.

i live in detroit.  i am the minority on my block.  i’ve lived here for four years.

when the michael brown decision came back i wondered what it would be like outside my door.  i thought my neighbors might act differently, that maybe i’d be ignored or ostracized.

i was wrong.

it was exactly the same.

it was truly just another day in the life.

we said hello from our porches.  people got in the cars and went to work.  we picked up our kids from school and pulled our garbage cans in from the streets at night.

and it was this more than any other thing spoke to me about black reality.

we were experiencing their normal.

and really that their normal was our normal.

we were both looking at the american reality to the american dream – but my neighbors were light years ahead of me.  i was just starting to comprehend the whole of this old, old story.

it was then that i was determined to make eye contact with every person who walked by me.  to say hello.  to say good morning.  to acknowledge the humanity of each person i encountered no matter what.  to work against the fear in myself to prejudge and to assume.

to assume the best of each person instead of the worst.

tree shadows

there’s nothing heroic about that.

it is so small.

but little by little we either fail or succeed.


there’s another old, old story that i am always beginning to comprehend.

another story of innocent blood and of its power.

it cannot be silent and dead people don’t stay dead.

that’s what the old, old story has taught me.

is it possible to wake up from The Dream as Coates calls it?

i am slow to learn.  but these times are important.  i credit the election of a president with a black body.  it has mattered.  it may be, in part, why the videos and the revelations have been accepted into the media and put on our radar.  i credit the seeds sown by the civil rights movement and the innocent blood that has watered those seeds all these long years since.

i credit the vast generosity and imagination of americans with black bodies who have lived among their oppressors, lived in occupied territories, for longer than any person without a black body can comprehend.

i credit words from new voices who are brave and willing to write letters to their sons.

maybe one day a better fruit will grow?

it feels wrong to even ask that question.

but still; maybe one day a better fruit will grow?

Posted in death, racism, redemption, time | Leave a comment


it’s right before you


it is as though leaves on trees are saying, ‘i love you.’

that the sunlight on your path says, ‘you are cared for.’

this world has been made for living in; a place formed in love for those who see the sun these few years.



it is right before you, do you not see it?

this week my friends boarded a plane to fly around the world.  they went to get children living in slums ready for school this fall.


why do people leave their comfortable lives to love the forgotten?


i can’t see them, but i can hear them.

children are singing down the street from me.

and out from open windows the piano plays out onto the porch.

there is just too much music outside on this beautiful day.

in the magnolia tree on the lawn there are finches hidden in the leaves.  i see them jump a branch, vanish and sing their yellow songs.

the world wakes up singing on this early day in july.


truly you are a hidden god, singing in the branches, just out of eyesight.

i hear you today.

this day that i’m still here, still spinning on this blue and green globe.

i am here in the sunlight and i hear your songs.

i am hoping to catch a glimpse of the hidden god who has been so kind, who has loved us all so well.

the hidden god that i love.

Posted in beauty, faith, hidden life, savior | 3 Comments