Tag Archives: faith

…everything disappears but your smile.

This is a pretty good rendering of my weekend away with God.



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the snow fell softly

The snow fell softly, like generous wisps of cotton candy floating down. There was everywhere a covering, everywhere a grace – a clean and fresh mercy.

I looked out my many-paned loft and stared at it glowing under street lights, solid in the early morning’s shadows and bright against the sun’s touch.

I cannot here do justice to God’s graciousness this weekend…. but to those of you who prayed, “thank you.” Everywhere, your heart cries for me came to be.

I will, as my custom, catalog a bit, less any of the beauty escape, float free of my mind.

The eight hours to High Point, the well named city, flew by. I listened to the CD the Holy Spirit arranged for me, sang and heard deeply words for that hour.

As I sat in my seat and Jonathan, Melissa, Molly and the band warmed up…even the casual runs and riffs pulled me nearly to the floor. I could not have been more glad to be there. (They only gather and play occasionally, it is not something to miss. For a taste see my blogroll.)

MK got there about half-time. You need a break, a reprieve to breathe. I don’t think I took a breath the first two hours. God did the breathing for us all.

So many things (holy) bloomed in my blood, altered, changed me, chemically, like some divine detoxification.

As we drove into Raleigh, the snow started to fall. It was the most beautiful snow I’ve ever seen. Everything seemed hushed. Except the words of life that flowed between us, they sounded, clean and clear.

We met up with my first friend, Kim, and supped and stayed with her and hers. Grace lives in Raleigh, at Kim’s house.

Cradled safe, God wrapped His very self more and more about me, blanketing me as well.

We went together to worship. Love’s Spirit wove cords of solidarity and strength between us. I sat between forever…and knew it… heard it speak.

God rode home with us and beat us in the door. We stepped from Nearness to Known.

I don’t know when He has come so close, so surged within me, laid me out and left me unable to even speak His name.

…And now, a day  to sit and soak, breathe well and long. To rest in the God who goes before and behind…Who never rests in doing good on our behalf.

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sometimes the stars align

Sometimes, the stars align. Sometimes, things just come together. Sometimes, everything that seemed so long impossible shifts into place. And everything fits in “of course” style.

Often, the track of days is almost indistinguishable. Often, hours pass and leave me wondering what came of them? Often, I stare confused at circumstances that seem so random and orderless.

Everyday matters. I know it somewhere deep in me. They all add in somehow, all are necessary. Everyday is, if I can remember, a gift.

But sometimes, the stars really do seem to align. And I must say, I love it when sometimes is now.

God, thank you for some times like this.

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We talked about each other today,

not behind backs but to faces. I promised my class that if we got through all the Dave Ramsey videos this week, we would share our survey answers on Friday. Some of the kids played Monopoly in the back of the room; that was  a legitimate option as well. Some wanted me to share the answers to the survey we took about one another.

Their assignment, which I gave a week ago, was to put three adjectives by each of the class members’ names. And then the students had to  answer all kinds of future oriented questions about themselves. I have found that students like you to make them do this kind of stuff, to give them the excuse of having to do it. I gathered everyone’s sheet and read all the adjectives the others ( including yours truly) offered in description – only positives to neutrals were allowed. They really  didn’t offer any negative.

They were Friday afternoon giggly, but when I called out an individual’s name, that person would always hush the others and lean forward, eyes wide to hear. I watched him/her take in and try to swallow down the encouraging and well thought out words. When I would read a well-chosen adjective, others would shake their heads in agreement and murmur yeahs. I watched the eyes of the receiver dart toward the source of the yeahs, listening well, barely holding back a smile and maybe even tears.

They loved it. They asked if we could do something like it everyday until our semester course was over. I promised a great deal of such.

Then, I asked them what they would want someone to describe them as. There was lots of silence for a bit, “Did I mean,” they asked,  “what they wanted someone to not say about them?”

“No, too easy. What would you want them to say?”

That was harder.

I called on one and got it going. And everything dropped down another level. Eyes started meeting. Moment obscured Monopoly.  Finally, we got to me. “How about you, Mrs. Sullivan?” asks the one guy who most loved the exercise, most begged for us to share it in class. He’s the student that is hurting and fumbling, but trying ( the good words seemed life and breath to him.) I so see him trying. I met his eyes and then inspected the ceiling’s contours. “I want you guys to know that I give a damn, ” I tightened my teeth against my own tears. I’m sure such utterance was a fireable offense. Fire me, I speak truth. They all smiled…some raised their eyes to mine, dared lock them and nodded, you do. Mr. Compatriot looked at me with his fatherless, forced out of his house by his mother, just recently suspended for fighting with a smart ass who would stop insulting another student’s mother, and as such being prosecuted for assault, always bursting out in class, my most difficult child, self,  and stared me through and said,” I know that you do. You, do.”

I can’t help but love these kids.  I can’t make all the circumstances of their lives better, but I can go to bat for them, and risk a little for them, and step over their not so high, not really electrified fences, and try my best to speak words of life and breath to them.

I owe them that…they do the same for me.


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sound track

Do you sometimes find music, perfect music when you and God are in the thick of something? That kind of music always just finds me in those difficult process seasons. Music opens me up, to hear and feel what God would say. Feel it. I’m good at knowing answers but not so good at letting God know me, letting Him stir about deep in me. Music makes sense of the pressures, even pains of such…Music somehow assures me that such are only God, making Himself at home.

I am awash in Jonathan David Helser’s music. Awash. I can’t even write.


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what’s with “under 33″

I’ve met some new friends, people who sometimes see the world a little like I do.  I read their blogs: see much of their minds and hearts exposed, purposefully. They are pretty dang brave. I have read the friend of a friend’s blog all weekend, seeing well why all these far separated souls so love, like really do love one another. But, other than Papa Bear himself, Brother Brian – McLaren, who I just plain love and will defend with all my person whether he is absolutely on point on every jot and tittle or not – because he is so damn brave and beautiful and big-hearted – which is more than I can say for most everybody else weighing in to nay-say. I digress… all my newfound soul mates are under 33.

Why is that I ask. Is it the technology? I am no techie. Just a mom and wife and high school teacher. Why is that? And why do all I come upon of late tell me somewhere soon as I am reading that they too are, have just crossed over or will soon be 33. My generation screams in me – is this a SIGN? Maybe so, maybe not. But I must at least offer a glance toward such.

33 means born in 1977, right? I was in Mrs. Furr’s (God rest her dear, dear soul- you can read about her and you should) fifth grade class. I started babysitting a munchin in the summer of 1977. I guess he is thirty three now, too. Maybe there is no magic behind the number save Jesus’ own apparent decision to spend no more life here human after it either.

Is life really over for those of us who are over 33? Did we die out of ourselves? Did our generation so sell out questioning anything save that which might effect our comfort or  convenience?  Do we question and strain and struggle with anything… or do we so focus our energies on soccer schedules, and seemingly meaningless discussions of our rounds and routine days and of our ever constant desire to protect our children from everything…especially ideas.

I don’t think all have died out, and I so understand the ridiculousness of my sweeping assertion that we have. But in my life, my very specific life, it seems so, it feels so.

I can’t seem to communicate with people over 33. Like we just can’t find the language. We can’t compute with our numerics. We can’t communicate. We miss each other over and over.

It’s so frustrating.

It’s why I call many of those ten years my junior my “friends.” They aren’t the ones I spend most of my time with. They aren’t the people I talk to the most. The aren’t the ones that I love most.

But they are my friends, my comrades and compatriots. They get me, I get them, we see some things together and that’s a kind of friend I don’t long do well without.


To my Friends,

Thank you, thank you for letting this old lady tag along.



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safe spaces

(I don’t usually write so personally in this blog, by that I mean I don’t start out to share my heart, what I am feeling. I have a venue for that kind of journaling stuff. But, I’m going to break with that tradition and do otherwise. Maybe it is time I showed a little more of myself.)

I have read some great posts and had some very insulating interaction in the last few days.


Things (holy) are swirling all inside of me. I feel the need to work through them here, to unload them and unwrap some of them, if I might.

I just learned that most of my family is going to sight the guns. Gun season (this is Alabama) starts next weekend, their trip gives me a few precious hours before Edge tonight, sweet uninterrupted hours. So I ‘m taking time to ask “What’s at the center of all this swirling mass?”

As I stepped out of the bathroom, to the laundry room, too much information? safe spaces popped into my head.

Now that is a kettle of fish….Remember, Jesus said the Kingdom nets up all kinds. I haven’t always dwelled in the safest of spaces, Kingdom wise. But then again, I’ve known some incredibly safe spaces, too.

Right now, there are  few hidey holes in my life. There are so few spaces to let my breath and real words out fully, truthfully. There are so few spaces that it is okay to ask questions, good ones, truth seeking, God seeking questions. It scares me a little, okay a lot, my not having those spaces. I can crack up, I’ve done it before.

Not that there aren’t safe spaces for me. There are, if I am willing to drive a few 5 or 10 hours, there are some safe couches and guest rooms where I and the real me are always welcome to drop by and stay long as I will. But that is pretty hard to pull off now a days, with this job and family and all.

Don’t get me wrong, there are enough pockets of such oxygen for me here, enough to survive, but honestly, not to flourish. My closest, as in I can be honest and real and scared –  friends are few and younger than I, numerically. Too many of them are boys/men, so little to no emotional help for me there. I KNOW not to go anywhere near there. And the safest places that I know are full of 16 -17 year olds, incredible, so far ahead of my sixteen year old self kids, but kids nonetheless. So not a real safe space for me…them, yes, but not really for me.

Oh, I did the women’s ministry thing for a while. The things I want/need to talk about don’t   interest or freak the heck out of even the most mature of these women. Trust me I’ve tried with all manner of strategies. Cutting edge theological ramblings and geopolitical shifts, culture war and post modern context and focus are not big topics in suburban Alabama.         (They were normal in my neck of the woods, back in Athens.) I need/want people to talk to who give a rip about some of the things I care passionately about as well. I want, am I a so very  unsatisfied child? I sound so. I want people who will read things with me and talk to me about what they read. I want challenge and a place to say, “I don’t get this” or  “Why?” And I want relationships who will answer when appropriate, “Honey, I don’t know either.”

And I miss couch time, to talk or listen or just be – together with a friend(s), laughing or its close cousin, crying. I so miss a space to cry with somebody, who won’t get bent out of shape or who won’t try to pray my grappling, struggling away…but who will just be there with me in it.

Oh,  I still cry, often… over all kinds of things: the good, the bad and oh so ugly. But, it’s been so long since I have been in a space safe enough- to just cry about what and for however long necessary with somebody who gets me.

I know what a luxury I am describing. I know it is not my right or reward. I know what I seek costs and how costly all that is. I know.

But every year, though I keep it secret as my wish, it’s all I want, all I ever really ask for.

When I was twenty, I was the richest person on the planet.

This sounds pretty needy. I pride myself on not ever appearing so, though I am as needy as the next person.

Something has stirred this up. It’s finding people in Blogland who care about the things I do, who are asking similar questions, coming to similar conclusions and who sometimes just feel the need to share with somebody who cares enough to read, what is going on inside of them.

That’s why I love Blogland. It has become in a way, a safe space for me.

Sometimes it even is like being twenty again.


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