God Colors

God Colors

This one has been sitting in the quiet with me for a while. I’m not a fan of the quiet. Stillness is beautiful. Quiet gets on my very last nerve. Like the clean, white canvas that stared back at me a couple of weeks ago, I have no idea what to do with quiet. I’ve recently gotten into coloring. Like many of my friends, I bought the coloring books with intricate designs and the fine tip markers. As it turns out, coloring is calming. Mindlessly tracing and filling in the patterns on the page is fantastic to empty your mind or at least sort through it. I enjoy it, and when I find a stopping point on the page, I notice my breathing is more calm, and I am generally more relaxed. Take that feeling and then think of the opposite of it. That’s the extreme sense of frustration, inadequacy and fear I felt at a “Paint Night” event two weeks ago. About 20 of us gathered at my friend Wimberley’s studio, and the event itself was just lovely. Painting, drinks, and friends from church in her absolutlely beautiful studio. Wimberley gave us the idea and some instructions: Paint a fall branch set against a colorful stained glass backdrop. Such a beautiful idea, and her example was just gorgeous. Most of us there are not what you might call artsy. Folks laughed, grabbed a paintbrush and began dabbing colors on the canvas like preschoolers with fingerpaints. Except me. I just swirled my paintbrush in the clear water and stared. I may have laughed with friends and joked about the...

Easy like Sunday Morning?

Sometimes getting inside the church building is hard. I’ve talked to a few friends recently about what it takes to collect all they’ve got and bring it into Sunday’s gathering. Some people get to roll in on Sunday, hands free. They’re ready to smile and mean it. Some folks face obstacles just getting to the door. Like last Sunday. My friend and I compared notes and laughed about how ridiculous it is getting preschoolers fed, dressed, pottied, and ready to walk into church on a sunny day, much less a tornado-like rainy day like we were having. She was by herself, bringing three littles to church. This superhero mom told me it took three trips in and out of the building with the umbrella, supplies and kids ages 6, 2 1/2 and 8 months. We’re talking American Ninja Warrior skills, friends. I had just the one little guy by myself to wrangle into the building during the stormy mess it was a disaster. For me, balancing the umbrella and getting the threenager to steer away from the fun puddles and run with me to the door still meant we were both ridiculously soaked when we reached the door. Another friend told me how she has to take deep, calming breaths to walk towards the sanctuary. Just walking in that door takes her back to her husband’s funeral. She makes it, almost every Sunday. When I think about the way she has to set her face and open her heart I have a new picture of what strength looks like. For her, being in that space means being present with...
I Can See Him

I Can See Him

  I can recognize my son’s face in any crowd. In a photo of twenty children, where the tops of heads are all I see, I know which curly-haired head is my little goofball. When I pick him up from preschool, my eyes take a hot second to peek in and recognize his sneakers and know that’s my boy. My eyes broke my heart this week. I saw my boy when I saw the beach of Bodrum. I spent last night broken about these families. Broken. Hearted. I know this refugee crisis has a million faces and has been going on for much longer than this fifteen minutes of attention the media has given it. You can know all that, and remain unaffected. And then you can see your boy. And it leaves you undone. That’s what it takes, I suppose. This author is 100 percent right in saying, “they would have just been four more faces in the tide of humanity that has crossed the frontiers of Europe and the West this year.” They are no longer four more faces. They are mine and yours. The tide of humanity just rolled right up to my door in Macon, Georgia. If I recognize this boy, I also recognize this father. I cannot think of much that my husband and I would do differently than this family if we were in such a desperate place. I would tell my story through sobs, too. This Dad, Abdullah Kurdi, says, “The first [son] died and I left him so I could help the other, then the second died, so I left him...
Listen to These Mothers

Listen to These Mothers

A few months ago, I was given the gift of fourteen new friends. They shared their stories and we took the stage together. Listen to Your Mother is a show of stories about motherhood. Honest, confessional, hilarious, heartbreaking moments, collected into one show. I keep going back to these stories. When I hear of a friend who is in the middle of a MOMENT, I keep going back to these stories and wanting to take my friends along, too. I tell them about these stories. I want them to hear Kayla Aimee make us laugh about #motherhood or hear Kristyn’s honest laments and questions. I want them to hear the strength in Raivon’s healing, the confessions in Renee’s experience and the truth Nikki tells us about how motherhood is an adventure. Each and every one of these voices offers us something so beautiful. So, now you can hear their stories. And mine. When we took the stage back in April, I said this: “From the first table read with these ladies, I knew there was something special happening when we listened, heard and made space for these stories. It took me until this morning to realize why it struck a chord in my soul. This story sharing and giving words to experience has resonated so deeply with me. And I realized. We have a word for this in the Christian tradition: This is called witness. Witness is a spiritual practice, one in which you tell what you have experienced and how it has shaped your life. You tell what you have seen. One person gives voice to what has...
Monday’s Songs: The Words We Know

Monday’s Songs: The Words We Know

I had no idea what to say. Somewhere between realizing I had to lead Sunday school and looking over what I had planned to teach, I was gripped by the fact that I had no words. What exactly do you say on the day when bells would ring across the nation to mark nine lives lost? What words can you offer to speak lament, peace, sorrow and hope, all while you share donuts and bacon? I knew there was no way to not speak about these things. I knew pastors in many, many places were tasked with just that. My beloved, my pastor, was wrestling early that morning about how to make the words match the moment. Silence, bells ringing, pulpits draped, hands held. Somehow on Sunday, we got there. The plans I had for Sunday school shifted from one story to another. I began by telling the group, “Our movie series will be part of what we do today, but it would be less than faithful to gather around tables for Bible study and not make space for people who lost their lives doing the same thing just days ago. So, this lesson will probably be the green light at the intersection, but I imagine we will end up on another road.” We did. The words I coudn’t find didn’t matter. I offered the story that had gripped me all week: my memories of serving at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta. I told about the Wednesday night Bible studies with those faithful folks, their gracious welcome and radical hospitality, they way they welcomed me, the hymns we...
Listen to Their Mothers

Listen to Their Mothers

These hands.   These women shared a stage with me on Saturday night, and shared their hearts with an audience who cried and laughed and gasped with us.   We are a band of mothers connected by the act of being vulnerable and hearing one another.  We are each forever changed because we offered our stories to one another and accepted the gift of someone else’s story.   That’s what these red bracelets are about.  Connection. These were a gift from our LTYM directors, naming that we are forever connected to each other.   I am awed with the privelege of wearing this bracelet. It is a realization of how this group of diverse women matters to me and that I matter to them. It will remind me how I am connected to women who are just like me and women who have very little in common with me.   And I wore this bracelet last night when I watched the news.   The problem with bright moments of realization is that they can light up the nice, cozy lamp-lit corners of your comfortable spaces. The corners with your cozy chair, in your quiet suburban house, with your dishwasher humming sweetly in the background, and your child fast asleep tucked into his pottery barn bedding.   No one wants the glaring light of realization to come barging in and pointing out the harsh truths. But there they are.   There are people hurting today.  There are voices reminding us that things are not okay.  There is a nation weeping for their losses.   I am connected to them.   It...