these are a shadow

…all that is worth remembering of life is the poetry of it

this is new.

I feel more like a child than an adult, most days. All this feels new, all this takes more trying.  Feeling ignorant and a bit silly, I think I move in awkward, trembling fits and starts rather than smooth, bounding bravery. Then I hear someone say (probably you), that change is new, and new tries take failure most times, and that doesn’t change the beauty and goodness of it all, so breathe easy.

Sometimes I feel lost without a structure, without someone spelling things out. Now, there is so little of that, and I don’t know what to do with this extra movement. My living never was very rigid by its looks, but it seemed there was always some sort of grade or rubric at the end of it all to check-check-check and pass with flying colors. If not on paper, then in my head.

Now, do I still judge by inward obsessive tendencies (on their way out of me, but still there, fighting the light and the sturdy Door.) Or by trying to shape a confident-worker-woman look, so detailed that I start to believe it? Or by how many times my husband complimented me today, as compared with other days? Or by making it through a grocery shift without ruffling customers or letting bosses see me weak or faulty?

Or… need there be a judging at all? Do I need routine, or sameness, or comfortable, padded living, tiptoed through, so nothing can pierce me? So no change can knock me? So no self-construed red pen can mark against me? I need a different anchor, a different judge of me.

I think there’s slow peeling going on, a shedding to my raw parts, a salve of the Heavenly Father’s violent, tender grace touching me to the quick, as I unfurl colors you haven’t seen in me yet. (Some not worthy of the word “color,” but they hold their own hue just the same.) You are helping it, too, I imagine. Don’t stop the good exposure, even if I flinch. We’ll look again and smile in the future days, when minds and things aren’t so shadowy. Especially when that best harbor and shade make us finally glorious. When we’re finally you and me and home.

But I will need your hand, I will need your praying, because risk is a frightful word. Leaping and stretching and filling a space is daunting. Believing is hard. Tell me again, if I forget, that I can’t know or make the end, but it is okay to live partly seeing, partly knowing, yet brave to the uttermost, because grace is steady and enough.



At the front window,
I found purple puddles
in the lot.
They showed me a sky,
severally hued
and singing of the storm’s end
as it swayed into night.
I gasped in the screen’s bold allowance of
cool, better air for my small lungs,
and felt soothed of trouble.

(I couldn’t fix it all today,
and my creations, my tries,
fell limp and sorry with the spilled
Goldfish. Or so it felt.)

Mozart played next. With another shivering
sip of rain’s vanish, I stood and heard:
“Move and dance with the sky, darling.
Your shadows do not undo the light,
or shake your place there.”

Moving, belonging, relearning of
the rightness, being made —
the goodness, even now —
the freedom, really mine.

two making home.

This place, here,
It is becoming home.

We are taking root, for the time, in this corner of Locust Street. It feels sweeter with every day’s learning what our life is and can be. The familiarity of things is deepening, and we welcome it and rest better.

We are learning to love and live as one, he and I being two vastly different souls yet profoundly united and same. It is nearly like starting life from infancy. I make new steps, mostly wobbly, unsure, but the graceful, steadier ones are taking over. Only now, he is with me in the stepping, and my giving to him is one with my taking from him, somehow. Our hearts are in the open, together, and we realize the weight of words and looks and wounds and grace. They are intertwined, these hearts and the rest of us. There are two who must balance now, two who must face what is deeper-down when those stumbles peel more skin, and two to pick up the mess, soothe and heal.

So we are stepping into a liturgy, for the inward dancing in the outward goodness we have. We are forming frames and rituals. And they are not rigid, but freeing. They give fluidity to our dance as we slow down and perfect our steps, because these are the parts that time returns us to, the parts that are turning into normal (but yet are sacred beyond knowing.) These help us hold on to our promises, and even face the bigger things.

Not all of these parts have been chosen by us, but they are just right for fitting into life together. Parts like the late work nights, making our two-to-ten sleep schedule a new normal, and noontime still appropriate for breakfast-eating. Or the ten dollar load of laundry at the Depot every Wednesday, while we catch up on our internet interactions at the chained-up tables there, then debate folding styles for t-shirts and whether or not you even bother with folding underwear. Or the forever pile of dishes we wash, sometimes grumbling right after praising that we have eaten again, holding full plates and full stomachs. Or the late-night open-Bible readings and wonderings, the haven where we rest our confusion and hold on to certain things.

And it is because of these shifts nearer into oneness, nearer into love, that we embrace this touchable place where we live the everyday. Home is being made.


Here, tonight, we raised our Ebenezer.

This church, bearing shattered marriages, dying babies, sick babies, joint pain, soul pain, car accidents, false accusations, and the rest of humanity’s groanings for rightness and wholeness.

And for all we carry, we are holding each other upright, helping each other praise.

I came weary, too. Quietly tossing, anxious and afraid. Tired of forgetting that Jesus is Lord, and is enough for my heart, this marriage, our health, this bill, this resume, this home, this week, that friendship,
enough for it all.

But this giving of thanks, (while saying pain is not done, but yet we praise for His doing all things well)-tuned my discordant heart over mercies thankfully taken yet quickly forgotten, in which the Father reached deeply into need, speaking his promises to shaking faith, whether or not prayers had been answered or even prayed.

So, for resting tonight, and for the common rejoicing, a few of my heart’s loudest songs:

.My Redeemer lives.
.New Life church helps me see Jesus and breathe the air of grace.
.At just the right time, through a story better than my best dreams, I have been given Seth. And though he is not my fullness, life sure is better with him.
.Seth has insulin, and soon, insurance.
.We have good food, and a darling home.
.In the snow last year, Seth’s car took the force of the crash, and within hours he was joking again.
.Our jobs may be ordinary, but they are ours, and we have all that we need.
.Friends have loved me, and have given of themselves for me when least expected, least deserved, and most needed.
.Soon, I will be an auntie.
.I don’t have to prove my goodness, talent, or beauty to be loved. Jesus is all that for me, and I am learning to toss the bonds of perfectionism and believe freedom.


              Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.



I’m twenty-four years in to this life, as of March the first.
The day was gray-skied, but the sunshine of
Love slowed down and spent time that day,
and Seth took my hand as we wandered the town for good things.
Here, some glimpses:

A six-inch hair trim, and deep relaxing as the older ladies gaped that mine abounds and is actually brown.

The admired wedding band fit next to the sparkling one, and we said “yes” and took it with us, as he squeezed my hand in the mall and looked those silly boys in the eye as if to say “She’s mine, fellas.” He is tenderly, fiercely jealous for me. Gracious, I see Jesus.

Fresh coffee at the hip place, and so good, and so hearkening to my college aspirations of living the earthy barista life. I still itch to write for hours, though, in places like that. Nothing seems to phase the comers and goers who stop in for a slower, better sip of life in their cups and conversations. We laughed and savored, too.

The brewery hummed, and my earlobes were graced with new gems. Brew your beer with apples, folks. It tastes good.

Library rotundas are good things, especially when there is free bluegrass music. He held me and I swayed, and saw others basking too. The twangy men were not quite crude, but much what you’d expect of late-middle-aged pals with paunches. They did echo heaven, together with anything else excellent.

After, confessions and weeping out fears at an in-between place. Love soothed and assured me, once more.

(Since then, even more transparency, bravery, tenderness, and trust. We learn that things are never too bad for a fresh start, and hearts are never too hurt for Christ to mend. Grace is always enough, and it dances wilder in our hearts when we take a deep breath and step light-ward. Let’s make this lifelong, you and I. Yes, you.)

Then a disappointing movie, but I can’t yet decide if it’s worth hating. Because we really are messes, but for grace. Maybe that was the Silver Lining.

on light

It sounds delightful to be identified as a light-lover, a frolicker in all things beautiful and glowing. Sunshine and warm-lit rooms expand our souls. Something draws us to happily lit places, something safe that bids us come and welcome. Light can be the sweetest thing to perforate us, deep to our souls, to heal and to free. But it’s a shocking sort of glory.

Real light is seen in the Messiah, the world’s Light, and we fell stunned at his blistering goodness when he embodied it to us. No smothering or death could make him flicker, though. And still, he saves through drawing out of darkness into light. His marvelous light.

And helps us to love it. Because on our own, we do not.

We do not run to things that out-glory the moon and make the sun bow in shame.
We do not dance in the truth of our dust and brokenness and need.
And even when the the deepest deeps of our souls are laid bare,
we do not dare believe that he loves us. Yes, even then.

It is in His light that we see light, and ever find it lovely.

And while many things in these shadows remain to be seen and undone, darkness is dying with all else that could never stand in his way when he says:
“I AM he who makes all things new. I AM light, and you are mine.”

“and there will be a highway”

[Isaiah 11:15-16. YHWH speaks.]

The appalling sea, that death, soon to
Splinter into shallow wading streams
For us, the beautifully remaining.

We will run free, restored,
In sandaled feet, forever safe,
Untripped and untangled.

In waiting, to know the crumbling
Of all barriers, [and for courage], we
Grasp at glimmers

Of this unstoppable restoration
In today’s thistles. See that flower and
This heart?

flawed, free, and forever His

i’m still coming out of perfectionism. i’ll be shaking it more, i’m sure. how to fit words for this?

i didn’t know it until i left it. until Jesus sweetly chased me down and held my tossing head and said “breathe, loved one. in me, you are good enough. i’ve buried all of your mess and i treasure you. you are altogether lovely.”

the restlessness creeps back where it can, though.

today, it tried. i worked a self-consciously unshowered mini-shift at the grocery store, then pondered the impropriety of neon envelopes as i addressed them for the last fifty wedding invitations. then, on another unfilled stomach, i decided to run to a nook at a sunny window seat in a coffeeshop, indulge in a nutritious Naked juice and clarify my heart’s latest racings in words. i liked that picture. i usually feel more like the real Katherine when i write, and more like a real writer when i look like one.

i smeared purple polish on my nails as i rushed to look put-together with a scarf and extra rings and bangles before i left.  then, my nails became frustratingly shoddy and scratched once i got in the car. annoying. my mind began feeling unfocused and stained like my hands, and i started to obsess over fixing it, or scraping it all off, or doing what i could to clean them up with warm water and soap. then said “forget it.” hip writer image fail.

but it was there that i thought back on semi-distant days, when that was all my mind knew. it was non-stop image obsession. my days were never-ending cycles of mirror-gazing and mind-flipping through every image of appearance from every possible angle of watching eye. every speckle of “flaw” [even smudged nail polish, i’m sure] sucked me in and sucked me dry until i could  rest satisfied. i was sick with self-consciousness, fear, longing to be known and treasured. i could not settle my heart when i saw red ink on a test, because it meant something in me was not perfect. i could not forgive mistakes in myself. i was aching for peace, and nowhere could i make it last or still me deep down. Jesus had to stop my storms, and show me who i really am forever:

more than a face. more than clothes. more than perfect nails, perfect hair, perfect body, perfect recitals, and perfect grades… i am bought with Christ’s blood and known by Him. i am His delight, because He wonderfully made me to reflect goodness and glory, even in the ways i’m unlike you. i am free to risk and love, make art with life, and do beautiful things. i am free to be flawed, weak, hungry, and needy because Jesus is spotless, strong, fullness, and enough, and He loves me and you, this I know. i am free to breathe and rest, because i am His forever. 

this finding was not overnight, but over years of nights. even now, i’m just recognizing some of this mess and more of this glory. and i’m not done, so please keep listening. keep reminding me that He’s not finished, but that [oh sweet thought!] He will be. other freed ones, keep taking my hand and helping me see what i’m made for. carry me to Him when i forget that He is my need and enough.

i clung to these higher thoughts and started to write this. but the starbucks corner was chilly, the walls held no outlets and my battery has short life, the healthy sandwich turned out to be palm-size and there was no Naked. i felt the complete opposite of what i pictured – not restful, not competent, not full, and and not sure why i had sacrificed all that time and gasoline.

but [home again] i suppose i see that this is why:
today, i cried small tears, but chuckled, too. because today is different than those past, stormy ones. even when i struggle with oldness, today is new. even when i’m reminded of former chains, today is freeing.  today, i can breathe deeper, as these lungs are learning to stretch oxygen and shed light into more unseen, dusty corners of my heart. past and remaining flaws may be unearthed, shouting, but i can hear Jesus’ heart beat the truth of me louder still.

[[i hear it here, too. and i’m lulled:]]
vous etes mon coeure.

good sabbath

This morning, I stopped tossing with the war-weary world when the Sabbath’s glory sky spanned the windshield. I rested with the faithful announcement that Satan’s head is pulverized and dead to me. I breathed deeper when the blue eyes of human love assured me of worth yet again.

The sands of time’s hourglass keep filtering on. Those bringing loudest jubilee shouts are fierce tastes of the forever Sabbath, but are still held by hearts trembling with their not-yet-ness. Today, this Sabbath, is for standing fast and believing in bigger grace, happy that I cannot know any other way to turn, and that rest now is possible. [Because truth is unchurning, and ever steady.]

A sick sister carries this Sabbath rest in her groaning body, as another hospital visit brings more tears. But, oh dear heartbeat! There’s a life in her. Safe-havened against his mother’s disease and the urge to worry. It’s stilling, the realization that all of his days have been written well when he has yet to take his first gasp of our shocking air. Another “peace, be still” on this good Sabbath.

wild and sweet

“This is a hard saying,” they complained for probably not the first time, as Jesus invited them to feast on his flesh and blood. Is he mad? Are we? Truth is frustrating our expectations, help us to love it. We find ourselves wearied of listening. And he stoops again and slows his syllables for us, promising the Spirit for our unhelpful flesh. Wild and sweet.

There is something about grace that can not square just right with our brains, so we should stop trying to make it do so. This is the only deity who has ever said “come as you are” and “come without money” and shocks us by offering his body as our bread and wine. Wild and sweet.

Great writers who have embraced grace in all of its counter-worldly grit and grandeur seek to shock, too. Flannery O’Connor adopts the motif of the grotesque in order that the blind and deaf may be startled into the truth of their condition. Distortion, exaggeration, counter-thought (every time, I squirm.) Yet she gets grace. She gets that she doesn’t get grace, and neither do we. Grace makes us see ourselves in the lowest twistings of human nature, and that we have no claim on a good heart. Such a painful, facade-peeling revelation is necessary for joy and freedom. (We resist believing that good men are hard to find, unless we are speaking of those over there. Then, of course, “we” have all gone astray.) No, I am the one who needs restraint, who needs knowing eyes to meet mine, and the touchable, healing body and blood of the only Good Man brought to my ill lips. “Drink you, all of it. Even you, slow to hear and quick to hate. Grace is for sinners.” Wild and sweet.

Christmas bells ring the startles of grace, too, in their “old familiar carols”: And wild and sweet, the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men. Peace said that he came down from heaven, while we could only see that he entered through a birth canal to dirt poor, worshipping Mary and Joseph. But the scandal of the Christmas child is not that Israel’s royalty was born among cattle, but that Heaven’s son came to give us himself as eternal bread. Wild and sweet grace for unsteady pilgrims. Let it blow you away, as it’s meant to do.