Tag Archives: faith

Sometimes you just have to let go…

Sometimes you just have to let go of the handle bars, sit back a bit and coast down the hill, if you really want to get the thrill of the ride.

I rode my bike a lot when I was little. I rode no-handed all the time. Once I learned the balance of that new posture, it was all good. I could ride and eat my fudgesicle or candy bar or Coca-Cola Icee that I had just bought at the Golden Pantry. Hands free was the way to go, at  least as long as the road was flat or one had a downhill distance to travel. Up hill, no hands, was harder, much harder. It could be done, it took nerve and steady pedaling, but it, too, could be done, if the hill was not so very steep.

I remember the moment, just before an incline, when I would have to decide if I was going to keep on no-handed or adjust in my seat, grab the handle bars and steer. If I kept on no- handed, I could continue to enjoy the fruit of my foray to Golden Pantry, if I grabbed hold, something would have to give. It was a little geometry and a lot of history that helped me make those decisions.

I considered and remembered all the great free-handed rides, how they were somehow so much better, so much more like flight. I remembered that I had not wrecked often or ever been stranded. It usually seemed worth it to keep my hands free.

Sometimes God says steer through here, keep both hands on the bars. Sometimes, like today,  He says, “I’ve got this, just ride with Me, let’s fly.”

“My hands are high, God. Let’s fly!”



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Picking up the pieces

Today, the kids and I picked up the last of the pieces of the old tree that we took down just before the ice storm. You might not have any idea how many pieces there are of a huge tree when it hits the ground as hard as this one did. It was no small number.

Rob and his friend cut it down and then my boys: Trent and his best friend  Sawyer, think Tom and Huck, cut it up with chain saws in the ice and mess, post storm.

This week as the weather has cleared and warmed a bit, we girls have helped out with the remainder of the breakdown. It has been a long and tedious process, though not unbearable, as one can truly see the progress as one works. Once cut to size for the fireplace, the debris, the seeming trash is transformed.

Rubbish becomes fuel.

I had lots of minutes to think on this as I helped with the fine motor work this afternoon, picking up the tiniest of twigs that would dull and clog the lawnmower. I thought of the things that tree represented: the known, the near, the good. And I thought of the other things it became symbol of as well for me: threat, fear, disaster. It’s funny how the same living thing, infected and infused with death can spread fear to all in its shadow.

In a way, its shade had come to cast its own sweltering hell. It had to come down.

It’s still filling a space, all of its parts stacked where its shadow once stretched out at sundown, headfirst down my bank.

But it is now pared and partialed, joints cut asunder and marrow cracked wide…soon sweet fire will judge what thoughts and intentions surged about its veins, too.

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I have this writer friend…

I have this writer friend…most of my dearest friends are writers…whether or not they have made that public knowledge. I’ve forced  a few out here.

This friend is a writer that does sometime let people read her heart, all out there in words and all. She’s not famous, for her writing yet, except with people who know her, who roll their eyes at how good she is, how talented she is, in this, too …and love her beautiful, brilliant, fun and talented self.

She and I were exchanging written words, my best kind, today. We addressed the issue of time, not its lack, but the necessity of identifying moment and season…at least that was what we talked around. There is a time for things.  Things said in season stick. Things done after that…well, you know what a day late and a dollar short gains you.

This seems a popular time for so much to happen. All at once. Like this is that time. And everything, long put off, long-awaited, long feared, long hoped for, long suspected, long in coming…is here, elbowing for space and trying to struggle free from my arms trying to hold each and all fast and near.

I’m kinda glad for the at-onceness. There is no way I can hold them all. No way. I can’t get my mind around much less my arms, sufficiently so.

So, I will just set all my visitations and invitations of worry and responsibility down before God, let Him take them up, and do what I know to do and be who I know to be. Because I can’t hold them any better…

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riding lessons

My girls have always wanted to ride horses, especially the little one, Molly. She has pictures all over her room of horses. They have ridden a few times, on vacations -Trent and I retired our desire to ride after riding up faces of sliding rock in Costa Rica. Were good on riding, thanks. We have some friends who have horses that the girls occasionally ride. But, riding lessons have not been in our budget. Until, this week. No, we didn’t win the lottery. “You gotta play to win” and all. But, this week, as Rob took the girls by to see the horses that board not far from our house, he ran into some riders…They struck up a conversation…Rob often takes time to just talk to people. He explained how the girls came by to see, occasionally bring an apple to the horses. Their trainer offered to let them ride, to give them lessons, for nearly nothing. Another woman there, Miriam, joined the conversation. She had been waiting on her young riders who board their horses at this barn as well. She met my girls. She took to them, they are friendly, like their Daddy. She offered the use of her horses, whenever they might want to ride.

I met Miriam yesterday. We went by to check on the horses, to see  who might be around feeding, my girls are as interested in taking care of the horses as they are riding. Miriam’s oldest daughter was feeding their horses. Her three-year old was helping keep the horses to their own feed bucket. Her baby was sleeping in her car. She walked up and graciously greeted me, making the connection that I was Molly’s mother. She introduced me to her children who were feeding the horses and invited me to come and talk with her whenever the girls might come ride. Then she suggested that the girls, hers and mine, walk the horses to their pasture a bit  down the road. She and I followed in our cars. As we approached the gate, Miriam offered me her phone number and told me to call her anytime my children wanted to come, gave me their riding/ feeding schedule, made me feel more welcome and wanted than I can remember in a long time. What a beautiful, gracious, loving woman she is. Her children are kind and generous and embracing. I feel very blessed to have come to know them.

Miriam and her daughters wear their hair in a scarf, they explained gently to my inquisitive youngest child, that they are muslim. I can see Molly, not much the theologian, shaking her head okay, and grabbing Simine’s hand, “Come on let’s go.” I can see Meg’s mind churning, but loving her friend Sima, from school who is there to ride as well, and chalking up her good fortune to have found a friend and a ride as from God.

Yesterday, on the way over to meet up with our new friends and the horses, Molly asked me. “Mama, what does being a Muslim mean?”

I stopped a minute  before I answered and listened to the heart of our God… I told them that we had the same God, the God that came and found Abraham. That we call Him different names but He is the same. I told them that the father of their faith was Abraham’s first son. The father of the Jewish faith was Isaac. They are family. We, the Sullivan and our kin, who trace our ancestry to neither line, are just blessed to be included in such a heritage of God’s choosing and blessing. We are the one’s who are the outsiders, the ones  graciously, lovingly not cast aside but taken in and treated as if we were indeed family.

The horse is a powerful symbol in Arab culture of strength and beauty. It symbolizes wealth and nobility, family line. For them to offer us access, unmerited, unproven access to their horses and lives was nothing but grace.

I told my girls that Muslims recognize Jesus as a man of God. They like their cousins, the Jews, who so many believe can do no wrong, do not recognize Him as very God. We, those adopted in, because of Jesus, do believe that anyone that generous, kind and self-sacrificing, must have been God Himself.

Because generous, kind and self-sacrificing pretty much sum up the heart of God, don’t they?

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a good word

Been thinking about the idea of a good word. Usually, the phrase comes up in conversation like, “Mrs. Sullivan, what is a good word for…” or “Brother, that was a good word ( sermon).” But the idea of good word means something beyond those for me…

The other day my girls came into my classroom to chat. Beachfreak came up as we are about to start dreaming in some moments for the coming year. “Mrs. Kim,” they began,”Can we do that “write a word on the wrist thing?”” I knew what they meant. Not last year, but the year before, Jeremy wrote a word, a very prayed over, God sought word on each of our 100 or so kids in attendance. I’m pretty good with pictures, but 1 word. It’s definitely a time hear the HS.

The girls asked me 1. if we could do it again. 2. if they could do it – write the words on the 100 or so wrists. They would get still and silent and listen for those words…and write them right there, plainly for the younger kids to stare at for as long as they did not scrub.

I looked at my, I use that term foolishly – I know, I just like identifying with who they are, girls. Summer before tenth grade, I couldn’t have paid them in $$$ or A’s,  they love some A’s, to pray out loud. In less than 3 years they are asking me for permission to minister not just a good word to their peers, but a specific word for each of them.

I just stop and stare at them sometimes…my mind is boggled by who they have become…are blooming into. It’s arresting. It’s dumbfounding. It’s so God.

The word I received on my wrist 3 years ago was written with spiritual sharpie. It stained me, guided me and at times upheld me. I so know the power of a good word…the wonderful, terribleness of such. I know the trepidation of taking up pen to inscribe and I know the grace and glory of God which incarnates it.

Lord, help my lips and hands release a good word in the earth…

I can’t wait to get my word from my girls.


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my brother

Today, “Jerm” came and preached at chapel. It’s not a formal sermon, just a sharing with the students, the 6th-12th graders. He often takes that role at the school, Jeremy is incredible at relating to people and truth. He began by sharing a lead-in that a few of us from youth group had heard before, an interesting story about the time his whole, 6 member family, lived in a 500 square foot apartment. I thought I knew where he was going and where he would finish. I know many, many of Jeremy’s stories. We kinda tag – team oversee our leadership initiative at youth group together with an incredible team of young adults and Jeremy’s also young and beautiful wife, Tiff.

We read most or many of the same books and/or blogs on one another’s suggestion. We have a shared calling: spiritual formation, and a shared passion, youth. We are both closet mystics and writers. We see the world in so many ways the same. We value similar things and measure our lives by similar standards. Jeremy and his sweet, sweet wife, Tiff, are the greatest treasure Alabama has ever afforded me. They make being here make sense to me. Most of the people who get me at all in this place, came my way by their introduction. They see me, for who I am and require nothing more of me than that I be that person.

Today, while Jeremy transitioned from his story to some new and needed place…I began to cry. At his words so beautiful and at the fact that I knew the place that those words were mined. A teacher leaned over and commented to me, “He sounds like  you.” I smiled.

He does, I sound like him and Tiff and all of our band of fellows, somehow made more…brothers. I’ve been aching for, chasing home all over the highways of late…I’ve been thousands of miles…But, it is in the eyes and words of my brothers and sisters, those particular ones who recognize our kinship and our commonalities, that I find relief and reward…home.

I struggle to describe who this young man is in my, our family’s life. I can’t carry the weight of what is between us in titles and terms of respect.

So, I introduce him, at least in my mind, as what he is…particularly, not just universally… my brother.

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Tomorrow the students get to decide which “bible class” they want to take the first half of the next semester. We are trying something new and if you ask me, something necessary to fully fertilize the growth of youth… We are going to let them do to learn. We are initiating a hands on approach to God. No more classes learning all about who He might be…We are going to turn the students loose on God and God loose on them.

I get to teach an art/reflections section. We will write creatively and candidly… we will write lyric (maybe a little music) and poetry and drama. We will listen a lot and record all we hear. We will photograph and film and collage images that render God. We will come to love silence and stillness. We will learn how to smith and share words that fortify and strengthen. We will see God and see one another afire with God. We will share the dream of God, ourselves, and come to wonder at who has been sitting, working, walking beside us all along.

I have some super exciting (I believe Holy Spirit inspired) ideas…but, I would love some more!

Wade in writers and artist, mystics and muses alike. Share with me any trusted old or shiny new, untried thing that would flash across your spirit in response to our endeavor.

And I ask you, please pray with me in this regard, that these young men and women will see God about, among and within.



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