All Natural

Around our house we’ve got a little trend going. We’re keeping things natural. We haven’t really talked about this. It’s not a bandwagon we’re on or anything, we’ve just been enjoying a lot of natural, simple things…

Local produce from Hollygrove Market and Farm.


Our weekly produce haul

Creole tomatoes growing in our yard.


Little Baby Creole Tomatoes

Mint Juleps with mint we grew ourselves.


My mint!

A new/old shelf from an onion crate found in the neighbor’s garbage.


Our new/old crate/shelf!

A made from scratch Mother’s Day brunch at home.


Mackenzie's Mother's Day Brunch

These days natural things are kind of rare. Natural foods, hair colors, clothing, body parts… they’re an oddity rather than the other way around.


My natural lips plus a little unnatural lipstick!

Even things that say “natural” on the label usually aren’t really natural at all. I’ve been thinking how the same goes for our relationships, with God and with each other. Natural, honest, calm communication is rare. What we normally experience is flowery, fake, frantic and fraught with double meanings if not all-out untruths.

Being part of a house church provides a very natural, basic way of expressing my faith. I find myself more and more uncomfortable with manufactured spirituality. My own included. Have you ever heard someone pray aloud and wondered if they really talk to God that way in private? Heh. I’ve wondered that about myself. There comes a point when the “pre-packaged” expressions of spiritual speech just don’t nourish anymore.  Just like a wrapped granola bar can’t compete with a warm homemade oatmeal cookie, the boxed and labeled premixed prayers and conversations cease to satisfy a craving for true, authentic interaction with the Father God and His other children.

I’m not talking about prayers like The Lord’s Prayer here.  I’m speaking of those expressions, fillers, things we say just because it’s expected or because we don’t know what else to say.  I have a few pet peeves like using “Amen?” to ask for agreement or understanding, the “unspoken” prayer request, or asking an omnipresent God to “be with” us.  You know the type of thing.  Could be a figure of speech or just saying fluffy stuff in prayer or conversation with another person rather than getting to the real, natural expression of actual thought and concept.  I’ll be first to admit that sometimes I’ve said nothing in prayer because other than platitudes, I had nothing to say.  Yeah, God wasn’t surprised.  I find my “out-loud” prayers with my family and my church family are sometimes stilted and awkward as I struggle to keep it natural rather than resorting to something prepackaged or formulated.

I’d like to see my life, in prayer and conversation, filled with less prepackaged things like “Fine, how are you?” and more home-grown stuff like “I don’t tell you enough, but I love you.” or “You know I really respect you, admire you, or even disagree with you.”  I’d like to stick to natural words and concepts that are real rather than convenient but empty words that fill time but don’t really accomplish any communication.  And ya’ll can hold me to it.


Mint Julep with homegrown mint.

Here’s to natural!









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What’s in YOUR purse?

Hurry!  What’s in your purse?

Alka Seltzer (the kind for colds AND the kind for stomachaches), an empty checkbook snugly tucked inside a checkbook holder.  Cool wallet my mom got me, 4 pay stubs, car insurance bill, cool bag that holds my makeup, napkins (of course), a nail file, a few cards I wrote to friends and never mailed, a grilled cheese sandwich (not kidding), a couple of pens, 2 business card holders, sunglasses, a cell phone, keys, gum, a mini bottle of tylenol, about 3 slips of scrap paper on which I’ve made various notes and lists, plenty of crumbs in the bottom, a happy meal toy, and an old flight itinerary.

I snickered the other night as I tossed my overly filled, albeit adorable, Vera Bradley onto the passenger seat and headed home.  Long famous for lugging around a purse that I could live out of for extended periods of time, I made a resolution when I purchased my new Vera.  I wanted to keep it nice.


So I tossed my adorable purse onto the seat and giggled at its ridiculous contents.  A grilled cheese?  I mean, seriously.  I spent a couple of minutes when I got home “resetting” my purse.  Grilled cheese, crumbs, and any used napkins were evicted.  Bills and cards went their appropriate directions, and my Levi was delighted with the happy meal toy.

Truly, I HAVE been pretty good about keeping my new Vera looking lovely.  The grilled cheese wasn’t even stale! My little clean-out got me thinking about how my life is often like my purse in its random clutter and overly full nature.  It only took a quick moment to re-set my purse and get it back in the right order.  I think you’ll agree, many of the items I have in there ARE handy and useful.  Just not when they can’t be found because they’re buried under unmailed cards, old pay stubs or grilled cheese sandwiches.  It only took a short time to clean out the useless items so that the useful ones could actually be used.

As I considered this, I noticed a couple of things:

1) Regular, small clean-outs keep the purse (and the life) clean and functional.  The trick is not to let it get so full that it becomes overwhelming.  I have three still-cluttered purses sitting on my closet floor as proof of the fact that once it reaches a certain point, I’m much less likely to actually clean anything out and I lose functionality.  Same goes for my schedule, my brain, and my to-do list.

2)  Some things aren’t worth keeping and carrying around.  Grilled cheese sandwiches, while they are delicious, do not belong in a purse on a long term basis.  They don’t keep forever, you know, and they tend to get in the way of finding that set of keys or cell phone.  Same goes for my life.  Some unnecessary worries, fears, or even “good” things can seriously get in the way of finding those most important things, like ready smiles for my husband, patient words for my children and clear thinking at work.

I want to be more purposeful about letting go of those nagging things that are of no real use or worth to me, but still get in the way of my life’s functionality.  Some time to pray, to breathe, and to weed out the things that don’t belong in my heart and mind is definitely on the daily must-do list.

If you’re a grilled cheese carrier too, may you find that same time to “re-set” your life today and every day.

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Black Coffee

So I’ll get right to the bottom of things.  It’s been a scary summer.  Right as my big kids left for Florida for the summer, my husband got sick.  Really sick.

It’s been weeks of guessing, wondering, steps forward and then as many steps back.  Things are looking up now, and I’m pretty sure we are on the last stretch of the road to recovery. Looking back over the summer, I’ve hardly known how or what to pray.  Even a seasoned believer like me who likes to think she’s experienced God a time or two…no idea what to pray for.  Of course, I told God what I wanted:  A happy, healthy husband.  But the questions in my mind continued to swirl.  I lost one marriage already in a painful end, and after finding Dwayne and daring to love again, after all the joy I’ve found with him, the idea of losing him is more than I can entertain.  I have really been wrestling with what to say because the last several years of my life have taught me that God may say yes to my request but he also may say no.  And what does that mean to me and my faith?

A few months ago I noticed a friend’s post on Facebook.  She said something like: “God is so good.  We were in a car wreck and none of us were hurt.”  My knee-jerk reaction was to comment: “So if you had all been hurt or killed then God would be bad?”  I know that’s not what she meant, but so often I find myself popping off a similar phrase, that churchy talk that was once such a part of my daily allotment of verbage.  I can’t settle for that anymore.

If there’s anything I know without a shadow of doubt it’s that God IS good.  His love is everlasting.  He is enough.  He’s good when I get what I want, and He’s good when I my worst fears are realized.  It’s in my worst moments of suffering and frustration that I’ve found God to be most faithful, most trustworthy, and most loving.  It’s on the bottom that I’ve committed to trust Him no matter what happens.

If God is as big and as real as I need Him to be, then there absolutely MUST be more to everything than what I see and know.  There MUST be something He can see, something He has planned that will set all to right, that will make it all worthwhile in the end.  I’m finding, though, that it takes a bit more faith to pray and tell God what I want, knowing He is capable of granting my request, and being confident that He hears me, daring to hope that He’ll say yes and yet choosing to trust that He’s still right if He says no.

Not so bad if you’re praying for a new car, but a little more challenging if you’re praying not to lose your husband.  Do I even dare to pray for something I want and need so much, risking the pain I’ll feel if I let myself hope for a yes and then I get a no?  Is it worth it to keep hoping and praying when there are no guarantees?

The answer for me is “Yes.”  Yes because there ARE, after all, SOME guarantees.  God’s presence and His love.  His mercy and His grace.  Heaven for me as a believer is a guarantee.  When it’s all said and done, what more do I have, and what more do I need in light of forever?  So yes, I’ll tell God what I want.  Yes, I’ll dare to hope He gives it to me.  I’ll risk that openness with God, and I’ll somehow wrap my brain around the idea that if He says “no” to my request, He hasn’t said “no” to me personally.  I think I’m learning how to let God seep down into the deepest darkest crevices of my being.  I’m learning how to share with Him the deepest, most desperate wants and rest in the guarantee of His love instead of conjuring up a guarantee that He’ll do what I hope he will for me right now.  I’m learning how to walk with God and let Him show me how to enjoy today rather than wondering what I’ll do if my fears come true tomorrow.

These thoughts might be considered a black, black cup of strong coffee since they are being poured out here.  But I have a feeling there are a few out there who enjoy a good cup of black coffee like I do, and aren’t scared to sip on these ideas with me and offer feedback as well.


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