Lift

“I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my cloths torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. I prayed, O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin…But now we have this brief moment of grace… Ezra 9: 5~7, 8a NLT

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I’m joining Kate Motaung for today’s Five Minute Friday. Today’s one word prompt: LIFT.

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Ezra’s intercession on behalf of God’s wayward people brings me to my knees. Every. Time.

I picture him, broken hearted, clothing torn, on bended knee. How often I turn to these words at the end of my day, tallying sins, shredding myself to bits.

My Bible, marked with ink and coffee stains spills open to Ezra’s words. I breathe in, exhale my sin piled high. Cry out for others steeped deeper in a pit of darkness. Having been in so deep a place myself, (I wrote about that here), my heart tenders for these.

My want to extend grace as I have been graced, often trapped in old grudges and records kept.

Ezra, fully surrendered, counts himself no different than those he cries out for. The yielding in his words, “I am utterly ashamed, I blush to lift my face to you.”

On the other side, there is this, “this brief moment of grace.”

I long to live stringing the brief moments of grace into my ordinary days, the small and big of life. To grace as I have been graced. To lift hands high to God. Scrape up just a bit of Ezra’s humble heart, place it mine.

“But now we have been given this brief moment of grace”

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

COMING SOON…

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Soothing Rain

“Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities, and sudden, startling joys.” 

Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle

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Untangling from softness, I slip quietly out of bed, tiptoe over to the windows, raising them high. Fresh air, heavy and damp, sweeps over me, warming my aching bones. Soothes me, beckoning me back to sleep.

We’ve been blessed with overcast sky and stormy evenings. Rainwater nourishes the ground, the flowers, my dry and crusty soul. Drizzle falls again today. Lamps burn low. After searing heat weighing us down in these parts, thunderstorms and soft rain lends a  lightness I have needed.

These past days have been filled with contradiction. Joy bucks against pain and the want to give in to despair. Late evening, I scrape to find the gifts.

And yet, they still come.

~Giggles surround as tinkling wind chimes when precious loves visit “Nanna Camp.”

~A new electrolyte drink recommended for P.O.T.S patients

~Rain refreshing my face while out with the dog

~Words of encouragement with a cup of tea arrive by mail 

~Heart string in the sand

~First day of middle school pictures, smiles from a growing woman~child 

~A funny story from my Soul Sister, doubling me over with belly laughter

Scraping in the dark, these are the gifts that meet me in light.

I dare not give in to the pain that darkens my life, settles deep in my bones. I fight till I’m weary and worn. I tumble into arms of Grace. Linger there, listen to the rain.

But God.

But God, my two favorite words in the Bible. Without these words, chronic illness, daily pain, fighting through it, fighting for it, becomes impossible. Hopeless even.

But God makes unbearable tremble with sudden, startling  joys.

“For I experience your wrap~around presence every moment. My heart and soul explode with joy~full of glory! Even my body will rest confident and secure.

Psalms 16: 8~9 The Passion Translation

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn 

Coming Soon Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat! Also, a new blog design reveal! More joys, More gifts in the hard! I am so excited for both of these gifts! 

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Happy~Five Minute Friday

If you’re happy and you know it shout Amen. Amen!

If you’re happy and you know it shout Amen. Amen!

If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it, If you’re happy and you know it, shout Amen

Amen!!

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Oh what happy times we had last night at the FMF Twitter party. I jumped in, skirted the edges of lively conversation, community in on~line relationships, sisterhood in Christ, the bond of scratching out words on paper. It’s a lovely place. A safe place for the writerly folk. Glancing from Twitter party in one hand and my current read in the other. Of course the chosen word would be HAPPY, many of us had recently closed the pages on The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee. There was much to celebrate. The release of Jennifer’s latest book and Kate Motaung’s two year anniversary hosting Five Minute Friday. Also, the upcoming release of Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories written in Five Minutes Flat. 

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Soon the phone dropped to the pillow, my novel lost somewhere in mounds of plush down, I faded out with a song on my lips.

If you’re happy and you know it clap you’re hands, stomp you’re feet, shout Amen! If you’re happy and you know it do all three.

Beckoned by sleep and dreams of long ago, I stood in a little white country church, singing loud. My teeny little self, in paten leathers and lace socks folded over just right. My smocked dress, black and white checked with a big red bow. My freckled face, and Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird) haircut.

Happy memories. Baptisms in the river. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Watermelon slices and hand churned ice cream. Happy times, before my world was ripped to shreds by the drink. Our very foundation shaken to the core.

Still, there were happy times. A loving, selfless mother gracing us with her wit and gift of laughter. Faithfully carrying us to church with scrubbed clean feet, and squeaky clean ears.

To find happy in the unholy hard, is hard. Takes a lens of grace. For days I have been haunted by Jennifer’s story of her time in Haiti. (Pages 256~258 in The Happiness Dare)

Filthy conditions, abandoned children, loved by strangers, lacking the most basic of needs.

“Every night, after dinner, the children lead their friends in prayer. Together they face each of the four walls of the orphanage and shout, ‘Le san de Jezi!’ They are praying the words The blood of Jesus to the north, south, east, and west. Afterward, they break out in songs of praise and thanksgiving…Instead of ending their days with if-onlys, they end their days with the head-to-foot alleluia. Their gratitude is contagious.”

Alleluias spread contagious, passed from the oldest to the least. Off in a distance early one morning,  Jennifer hears tiny voices from the baby room. Children beginning to wake, shouting one word: “Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Through lens of Grace there is happy. There is Jesus in the middle of unholy hard, abandoned  children, filthy conditions, undernourished, often sick, loved by strangers.

Through lens of Grace there is happy. A little girl in paten leathers and lace socks folded over just right, singing out loud, “if you’re happy and you know it.” Singing “Alleluia” in the unholy hard.

Today, there’s a woman, sits in her chair, racked with pain and spinning world. She walks the wilderness marathon, collecting gifts of grace. Peering through the lens of grace in the unholy hard, singing “Alleluia!”

Alleluia!

There I will go to the alter of God, to God-the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! ~Psalm 43:4

Singing “Alleluia!”

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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All proceeds from the book will be divided equally between two vital ministries in South Africa: The Vine School in Cape Town, and the Ten Dollar TribeAnd you just may find me among the pages! “Alleluia!” What a blessing! Thank you Susan Shipe, Lisa-Jo Baker, and Kate Motaung.

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Also look for these two wonderful books at any major retailer!

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Weary

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NLT

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The morning sky is gray. Now and then a smattering of drizzle reaches parched ground. I’m one of those persnickety folk who likes their rain at night, my margin of comfort level with the weather, narrow.

Summer days have been relentless this year, sapping me of energy, adding to my already heaping dose of fatigue. Trapped inside by sweltering heat, drought curling leaves on the dogwood trees. Pots of geraniums resembling Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Skeletons, lacking vibrancy, rattling in the wind.

I am weary. Weary of closed windows, darkened rooms, canned air blowing from vents. Weary of near fainting when I dare to step outside. Swallowing sodium pills, and extra Gatorade.

I have done the thing, I promised myself I would never do. Turned down the covers, taking naps.

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Four years, I have resisted this one thing, fearful of the day I wouldn’t be able to get up. Taking rest curled up in my favorite chair.

I shoved away the fear, climbed between layers of down, whispered words to God. Listened to the words He whispered back.

“come to me and I will give you rest.” 

Weary melted in the decadence of stolen time. Pain became a distant haze.

It was a gift, a gift to myself, my weary body. It might have been the best medicine I have given myself. Grace to take a time out. Push the noise of life outside the door. Leave the phone in another room. Breathing in lavender and sheets that smell of fresh air.

Breathing in grace and comfort from an ever present Helper.

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

For the spirit of God has made me, and breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 33:4 NLT

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HIDDEN

HIDDEN

 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? 

Cleanse me from these hidden faults.

Psalm 19: 12 NLT

Jumping in to the fray, I joined the FMF~Party last night. Surprising myself, I made it all the way through the one word prompt reveal. Hidden. 

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Catching the slant of early morning light, I quickly grabbed my phone to take this picture, words stirring, stringing together story.

I knew the message God had laid on my heart. The words above from Psalm 19:12, the last thing I read before closing my Bible last night. The first that came to mind as set my feet on the floor. Along with another scripture, an online friend had pointed me to earlier in the day.

the LORD told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years.” Isaiah 20:2&3a NLT

I pondered the words most of my day. Figuratively speaking, what do I cover up with my “clothing?” And how did I ever breeze over these words allowing them to slip quietly away?

Let’s be honest, barefoot and naked for three years, doing just as the Lord says! Imagine the yielding. The surrendering. The ridicule. The sunburn. Blistered feet. I’ve been complaining days over sweltering heat.

Flipping pages, running fingers over the words, “cleanse me of my hidden faults.” Cleanse me of the things I cover and hide, paste a smile on my face, going on my merry way.

Merry way? There’s a bit of irony in that. When the hidden sins lurk inside, you can bet there’s one of two things going on. There is either simmering and angst lurking beneath the surface OR there is peace and grace. A quiet contentment and gentler ways.

When I am covering up the hidden sins with the clothing of the world,  I lean towards being a mite harsh in my ways. Sharper words, slamming, however gently (smile), doors, dishes in the sink, and oh the huffing and puffing and muttered words barely contained under my breath. I would enjoy a good stomp, but I have learned through experience this one jars every decaying bone in my frail body.

Laying aside the “clothing,” sweeping out the filth feels lighter. Good things bubble out and over. Laughter, joy, authenticity, a kind of humility in my nakedness.

Oh yes, Lord, cleanse me of my hidden sins!

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

Join us as we write for five minutes on the prompt, HIDDEN, at Kate Motaung.

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From Doer to Thinker~The Happiness Dare

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”

Henry Ward Beecher (quote found on page 175)

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We are smack in the middle of the dog days of summer in these parts. Stepping outside can leave one puddled on sizzling ground. By mid~morning blinds are drawn shut, warding off sweltering heat. I am missing open windows, outside sounds, and gentle breezes sweeping over me.

It’s become a haven of sorts. Stillness and quiet lead me to still waters, a place of refreshing. A place of contemplation and thinking. I am a thinker. A ponderer, sitting for hours, giving space to thoughts and wondering awe.

I’ve been working my way through The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I don’t personally know Jennifer, though I feel I have come to know her through the words she pens.

I was drawn in by her latest book, the importance of finding your happiness style. Letting go of thoughts that my own happiness style has to look like someone else’s. There’s freedom in that, especially as women bent to compare ourselves to others and find we come up lacking. Or so we thought. “Comparison robs us of our happiness.” ~JDL 

I know that to be true, having been there myself many times over.

The importance of finding your own happiness style, begins with learning the five styles of this oft illusive state.

The Doer. The Relater. The Experiencer. The Giver. The Thinker.

You may find a bit of yourself in each of these. As learned the ways, the pitfalls, of each style, I knew precisely where I landed.

I spent most of my life being a doer, busily moving from one thing to the next. Making and checking off to do lists, wearing myself out. Often resenting others who seemingly languished in life while I did all the work. Sound familiar?

As I journeyed through the book, walking down memory lane, I saw how God moved me from a doer to a thinker using the onslaught of chronic illness. Showing me new ways, showing me how to find happiness in this place.

I am a better version of myself today. A better version of what God created me for. I appreciated learning the pitfalls of a thinker, most I have landed in at some time or another.

“Your inquisitive, wandering, wild mind doesn’t make you weird; it makes you wonderful.” ~JDL

I would love to reach across the table, take your sweet face in my hands, urge you to read this book; The Happiness Dare. Urge you to identify your sweet place of happiness along with the pitfalls we can fall in. I would urge you to take The Happiness Style Assessment

“Here’s the good news. If you want to be happier, you can stop wishing for someone else’s life and discover happiness in the one you have.”

“Happiness isn’t unholy, it’s just misunderstood.”

~Jennifer Dukes Lee~

Pre~order The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee today! Discover your own your happiness style!

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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Journaling Through

“It’s a natural thing, this hiding of our addictions and habits in hopes of appearing healthy. The truth is, so many of us have secret areas of sickness, and the weight of those secrets can be heavy.”

Seth Haines~Coming Clean Journal

We are in the dog days of summer in these parts. Days are steamy hot. Haze dulls the night sky. The flowers droop, stripped of life, though they are watered every day. Reprieve comes in the late evening violent thunderstorms, cooling enough to open the windows in our room.

These past weeks I’ve been struggling through my quiet time. It’s taken some time for me to work through it. I think of the words my Pastor once shared with me. He likened the time to a meal. Times you sit down to a feast, others, it’s like sitting down to say, macaroni and cheese.

Lately, the time looks more like my flowers, dry and droopy, burnt from heat, lacking nourishment. I had become discouraged, frustrated even. I was longing for living water, a whisper from the Lord. I changed the location. Moving to my desk, in the predawn, the moon shines through the open window. As day breaks, mourning doves scratch below the bird feeders, that soon fill up with all manner of cardinals, yellow finch, and house wrens, singing happy tunes. IMG_2570

Fresh air, a change of venue, refreshed my soul. I received Seth Haines’ newsletter announcing his thirty day on line journal, a partner to his book Coming Clean. I quickly signed up. I loved his book, and I anticipated the probing questions I needed.

Oh. My. I soon found the vices depriving me of the feast. My own doing, nearly turning into my undoing.

Technology, social media, blogs to read, podcasts to listen too; worthy yes, however, should not be a part of my sacred time with the Lord. Busyness was keeping from the feast, blocking the flow of Living Water. Flitting from one thing to another, prayers were pushed back and before I knew it morning rudely intruded, leaving no time for the important thing.

I have been quieter than usual in this space. Fewer words penned across journal pages dries the inspiration words are birthed through.

I have backed up and regrouped, taking time in the evenings to mark off space in my bullet journal to feed my soul. Prioritizing my day. Withdrawing a bit from the things that lure and distract.

I can breathe now. My fear of something between me and the Lord, soothed away. Grace vibrant and alive again, His Word my very life and breath.

Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

Psalms 51:15 ~NLT

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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