Grace, Listen, Parenting, Uncategorized

Rising To Imperfection

So here’s the real story. The story of my imperfection. Of how I’ve read too many magazine covers, listened to too many voices on social media and walked away from too many mirrors more dead than alive. Here’s the story of beginning a new page. Tearing out the perfect and embracing the real imperfect. I’m allowing God to block the lie and open the door to the truth of it. That He is the only perfect, and anything else is an idol. 

Over the last many years, my generation of women have voiced how you can have it all. The perfect life. The perfect house, the perfect landscaping, the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect salary, the perfect girlfriends, the perfect diet, the perfect husband, the perfect vacations. And being perfectly organized at doing it all. And pretty soon all of that perfection is blurred into a half life that resembles a person. And I was the one failing my own perfection story. The binding of perfectionism can drowned a blushing soul. 

And so, today I came alive. Alive to the love of my imperfection. I didn’t do it all today. Not a bit. 

I did not dust the whole house, only bits and pieces. I did not vacuum. Not at all. I made my bed and made the kids eggs and toast and we made a journey to the garden in boots and sandals. I do not have the perfect garden. It is only a feeble attemp at growing some strawberries and vegetables, so we watered and picked and giggled at the chipmunk standing bravely holding his lunch of our strawberry. He stood on tiny feet under the shade of our weeds and I didn’t shoo him away or pull that tall weed. 

I would talk about my job and my salary, but it’s hardly any of that. My job is 24/7 and I don’t draw a salary. I draw fish on the driveway with chalk. I scoop leftovers onto lunch plates and we drink water out of mismatched cups. We play a memory-matching game on a folding table under the cover of an unfinished porch and sand sticks to the bottom of our feet and tracks through the kitchen to the dishwasher.

I would talk about my perfect husband, but he isn’t and, being a small business owner, he’s out of state doing his own research right now. The last pair of shorts and t-shirt he wore are still laying on the floor next to his side of the bed. And, he took our only tube of toothpaste, so I’m brushing with my eight-year-olds bubblegum something or other form of toothpaste. Yuck!

I drove to town today in our imperfect car. The one that my two-year-old spilled coffee all over and into the center console so buttons no longer work, or work well. The one that may be shiny on the outside, but holds 27 duplos, 8 books, 3 baskets of “Your Story Hour” and “Odyssey” CD’s, 6 plastic cars, napkins from 2 different fast food drive thru’s, a coloring picture of goats, and one stuffed elephant.

That car took us to piano lessons for two of my kids, and they were imperfectly great. Their fingers finding keys and chords and new melodies and it’s all music and their teacher grins and says, “We’re gettin’ there.”  

It took us to see one mother-in-law who gets fresh eggs from a neighbor and I slide her cash across her counter and she wheels around the edge to tease my toddler. We blow bubbles and name birds at the feeder and the kids recount the holiday weekend and she is the perfect listener. 

We get a call to pick up free apricots, so I dig through my wallet and find enough cash for dinner out. We found the perfect green table outdoors and my oldest nibbles a grill cheese and makes a list of all the out-of-state liscense plates we’ve seen today in our resort town. At our last stop we admire the new landscaping of a favorite uncle and giggle at the size of aunties belly. The one who is perfectly growing a new boy cousin, due so soon. 

And at the end of the day, we watched God create a perfect sunset. 

So here’s my perfect day. My perfect life. I didn’t once check social media or run on a treadmill. I didn’t cook perfectly balanced, gourmet meals, and we never did get around to mopping that kitchen floor. 

But God took what was, which was all I had to give today, and He made it perfect. And tomorrow He’ll send rain to water my perfectly brown lawn and I will praise Him for that too. 

That is my rising. My beautiful rise to imperfection. 

In pure imperfection,

~kathy b

Friendship, Hope, Listen

When Chamomile Isn’t Just For Tea

The boy and I, we snuggle on the couch and read. We read about a garden, tended and growing. We read about the rows of flowers. Colors, striped and assorted and fragrant with summers perfume. We read about vegetables grown to sustain a body. The body bent and pulling and sweating summers heat. We read about the fence surrounding that garden. The fence putting borders around the harvest, a safe place to grow what’s been tended. And in one corner of that garden a thin, spiny shoot pushes it’s way through earth, feeling encouraged to try, especially when it can see the results of all the others, and I’m mildly curious.

         But the story, it begins to break, and after the media reels, and the blogs moan, and the early morning phone calls cry, I begin to know it’s brokenness.

See, that stalk that barely is, is Chamomile. And although the tips eventually flower into daisy like faces, the story reads about its trampling first. So that perfect summer flower doesn’t start with a silver spoon in her mouth and my guess is, neither have you. My guess is silver, for you, is just another crayon in a cardboard box.

The story threads the beginning of this Chamomile reaching up towards a life. But pain, the destructive kind, nearly takes the very breath of an herb meant to soothe. And the truth is, we’ve all felt the naive gardner’s knee press down on our dreams, nearly breaking the progress of what and where we thought God intended us to journey. The truth is, we’ve all been landed on by an out-of-control dog, jumping over our neat little fences. Those fences protecting our neatly processed faith. Those fences put up intentionally to keep out stray dogs, stray golf balls, and stray words. Words that break us down at the stem. The point where we are weakest. The spot where, when trampled on, there just isn’t much left of us. The point where pain points us straight down and the dark of the earth is our view and maybe that looks more appealing right now?

But I want to let you in on a remarkable truth. A real thing. God designed the Chamomile with this amazing resistance. Every time it’s trampled and broken, it’s reaction? It spreads. It doesn’t hole up and pull the covers over it’s head, it holds on. And it just keeps growing. It spreads to the point of overtaking that corner of the garden. And for a woman with a field of acreage, I can tell you it can take over all of it. All. Of. It! All of this life. Do you hear the truth in this herb? It’s prayer is never, Why Me, God? It’s instead silent. Waiting to hear God give direction. Cause God can take pain and spread relief.

Oswald Chambers says it like this: “Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Himself who gives the answer. Whenever we insist that God should give us an answer to our prayer we are off track. The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer.”

And so the Chamomile teaches me to look not at how to grow the garden, but how to turn my bruised and beaten heart towards it’s Creator and keep my focus. ‘Cause the Master Gardner knows each seed, each life, each plant. He also knows each pain, each loss, each journey, and He knows the remedy. And He intends to grow you beautifully. He intends to turn you into this amazing flower who, because of your experience, can now bring a soothing tea to sit next to those who also have felt the heel trample.

Keep your focus, friend.  We’re intended to lift each other. Soothe each other with prayer. We’re intended to look not at the donkey and the parade and the palm branches waving, but on the face of the Redeemer.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

You. Are. More. Than.
Purely relieved,


Listen, Thankfullness

For When I’m Cold

Four letters.  One number.  That’s the date today.  June 1.

Two more numbers.  60.  That’s the temperature outside.

I pull on socks and a sweatshirt.  It’s 60, but clouds hang low, moisture rises high, and mud oozes under my feet.  It’s cold.

And that’s when I have to be honest with myself.  I am cold deep down.  Far deeper than weather can reach.

I’m cold to the fact that our homeschooling year should be wrapping up.  That my Sabbath School lesson plan should be ready.  The weeds in the garden should be pulled on a daily basis.  The floors should absolutely be vacuumed.  The ironing should not be piled quite so high.   The kids should be writing thank you cards to Grandma who brings gifts.  Always.  I should have a definitive list made out by now for the Father’s day service.  I should take the rest of the post-garage sale stuff to the drop off-center.  And I could go on, but quite frankly, I’m too cold to all of it.

How, when you feel like you’re reading all the right books, when you’ve given of yourself more than usual, do you turn the page for the next calendar month and find yourself so….cold?

A child’s fears in the night have kept me from full rest, but with that, comes the viewing of that dawn’s first light.  Really.  It’s the blackish blue of morning, and it’s beautiful.  Restful.  The birdsong follows softly on the light, and I am so still, I feel completely alone.  I breathe deep.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation.”  Psalm 68:19

2013-04-22 006

There it is.  The warmth begins.  The light dawns brighter.  Silly me.  Carrying around all this burden.  It’s a daily thing for Him.  And if He’s already got it, I should be still and be thankful.  I bow my head in gratitude and humiliation.  Let’s be honest.  I have nothing to give if I have not my Savior.  The world will harbor me in cold and line up the pointed fingers of should. But I am called blessed, and my God has already lifted the yoke, and warm hours are coming.

It’s true.  The Hebrew word for “daily” is yowm.  It’s from an unused root word meaning “to be hot”.  I’m laughing.  Me.  So cold in this northern part of Michigan, and so cold in the northern part of my head!!  Yowm.  The literal term meaning the warm hours.  Sunrise to sunset.  Daily!

I sober only for a moment as I watch Him carry that cross for me yet again.  He does it.  Daily.  He does it because He thinks that much of me.  Yes.  He’s that kind of guy.  He’s that kind of God.

“…the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people.  Blessed be God.”  Psalm 68:35

In pure search,



Giving, Homeschooling, Listen

Crazy In A Hushed Way

It’s the last day of August, which to me often marks the end of summer.  September brings school, and I remember being small and not always ready for hot, humid, carefree days to be over.  I remember a Mama who baked a birthday cake for the last Sabbath before school started to sing through four birthdays together, before she sent us on the one mile walk along the suburban sidewalk to the brick school with its long hall.

Today is different.  Mama who baked has been gone two years now, school begins on Tuesday right here at the kitchen table, and I am ready.  My own daughter has become a knowledge seeker, and teaching her has become exciting!

But my fears hang out there still.  I’m not sure I’m worthy to be called her “Teacher” because I have not always loved the learning as she has.  I am known to be distracted and impatient, and what if I am not what or who she needs?

The thought to homeschool came quietly and startled.  I wondered if someone could be moved to go out crazy in a hushed way?  I wrestled within.  Sleep ran away and a small light shone onto His Word morning after still morning.  I had been given this book about counting gifts, the gifts given by the Holy One at every moment, and how, when seeing them and counting them, we are finally able to live, FULLY!!  I hadn’t begun to count…yet.  But the whispers of Spirit cradled me and carried me, so very gently, to a place of beginning.  A beginning of counting.

It was in counting and reading, both this new book and the Holy Word, that the homeschooling idea started to unfold.  I was terrified!  Homeschooling had held its own stigma and, as stated above, I am sure I was not worthy.

But when we spend time digging through God’s Word, and when we are still enough to listen to what might be the strongest calling of our life, we find ourselves surprised by the journey.  The turn in the bend that brings billboards lit by Pure Light we cannot deny.  I walked on knees for months before a late night kitchen table conversation with Husband.  Me slowly speaking this craziness, eyes looking down.  The conviction of my words more clear than I had thought they could be.

Initially revoked, he patiently listened to my heart, and when the clock had spun all around twice, his words surprised me.  “You are not the same woman.  The change…… you can do this.  Because you BELIEVE you can.  You’re convicted, and that’s the first step.”  And since that night, he has stood with hand on my shoulder, through the ebb and flow of processing the HOW(?).

I have wrestled through all kinds of fears, each time praying, again, searching for God’s guidance, because in this big universe, somehow our lives matter.  I don’t know the end, but these are the two He’s allowing me to raise here on earth, and their lives matter greatly to me!

This is yet another file of pure search and I am compiling, because it too will change and grow as I categorize as only an amateur can.

In her book One Thousand Gifts, author and blogger, Ann Voskamp says, “The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within.”  I pray deeply for the eyes of Jesus within this home, because the creating of it is changing, and the character we are trying to mold takes place NOW!  Can I ask that you pray for me friend?  Pray for the pure humility necessary to raise these two children well, serving unto our great God.

In pure, humbling, search,


ps – This book might also wildly change you as it has me.  Might you give it a try?

Giving, Listen

What To Say Among the Discontent.

We’re up at the garden watering plants severely parched from July’s heat and the neglect of a family gone for the weekend.  And although all nature appears to have me at its mercy, I am content.  Content with the silence.  Silence of the bees hum, hawks cry, pulled hose through tall weeds.  I surprise myself when I find I am even content with the moans, heavy sighs, and, yes, the outcry of little son wailing his protest at being IN the garden.

For two and a half hours we three bend low over water and weeds, and the Spirit moves about inside this mother with a stillness all His own.  I, who was made from this dirt, now pulls from the dirt all the green that cannot be there if I am to eat anything good from it.

My two young ones are not patient with me or any part of this garden today, and they let me know over and over again, and I feel mildly like Moses walking them through the rituals of what God has given and how we tend it and nurture it, but their stillness never comes.  Like Moses I walk slow and speak what words can only come from the Pillar of Fire and talk joy and thankfulness to them, but, alas, when the last row is wet and we walk down the long slope towards home I can see they are not convinced.

Yet I am content.  I am content for I am filled with Grace and my human hand has tried to give Grace in the only way a Mother can.

The road is long and I pray this pure Grace weaves its way through.

Then why, several days later, does it take so much for me to find and feel that same Spirit of Grace when questions arise as to “what are YOU doing?”.  Words that demand and now I’m the one not convinced.  Fingers are pointed and people are all thrown into one gunny sack and tossed in front of the judgement seat and they don’t even know it.  I feel the tight pull of being stymied and it becomes the wall climb of my faith, my upstream intent to find the pure purpose of this.  This judgement being doled out and how do I stroke through this wave of discontent?

I look desperately for the gift.  I feel my head hanging low and know that my eyes no longer try to see because my default sees only their shortsightedness.  This is where I have looked for change on the inside of me, but it feels like buckets of loose gravel under my feet and the slope will take me down fast if I do not hold on to the only Steady.  The hand of the pebble Maker.

I do not want this judgement seat, and yet it has a magnet pull to my fallen self.  How do I not sit….there?!  I try to form prayer and stumble out something about everyone going through different phases and stages of life and how conviction must be felt, but I do NOT feel content.  Not in this space.  I want to escape, back to the quiet of the garden, but they won’t let me go and I try to only stay silent, for what more could I say?

What would the Teacher have said in this corner?

I have read the story of King Josiah and how he fought a battle he should NOT have fought.  The story of the enemy shouting in the midst of a war for this worshiper of God Almighty to go back home because he had NOT been given orders from the Heavenly King to fight.  The enemy.  The idol worshiper.  Telling King Josiah to wait on the Lord!

But King Josiah, he feels gallant.  He feels the strong structure of what he has painstakingly built up over the years of his reign.  He has spent his time in the Garden walking with God and feels that this is where he should be, but he did not ASK.  And when arrows pierce flesh and his servants drag his bleeding body from one chariot to the next, I wonder if he also, then, realizes he did not HEAR either.  For God speaks at all times through all things.

I struggle to hear.  I don’t always know what to ask for, but I cling to Grace.  And maybe that is all I have at the moment of unease.  Knowing there is Grace.  The same Spirit guiding me through the garden is the same Spirit trapped with me in a corner of unworthy.  I must not forget to ask, and I most certainly must not forget to hear.  And although silence, not words, may be the pure answer today, I must learn to trust that the battle Keeper knows the end.  Maybe not speaking turns more powerful than mumbling in the long run… as long as I remember to ask.

In pure hard search,



To Listen

First monday of summer vacation and she’s down the stairs at 6 and I find her wrapped up in the big chair playing her pet game on my phone.  She’s my sleep in girl, but with her first summer freedom she’s up and I can’t help but wonder why.  I smile and trace my fingers down her arm and across her back.

Little boy comes down an hour later all bare-chested from the nights heat and even though he’s gotten so big somehow my 5’2″ frame can still cocoon him and I bury my face in his neck and we breath still.

The Creator sends the sun up orange and it unabashedly throws its color across my wall with a bold good morning and I know it’s going to be another hot day.  The garden calls as it does every day with its pushy, relentless threat to let weeds become its master and I sigh a little and try to hurry through mornings tasks to get out there before the heat throws its own challenges my way.

I pause to give thanks.  I pause to ask for strength, patience, clear thought for what I am about to do.

Today I begin a new line of stitching on the fabric that forms this family.  A new rhythm to how we move about a day in this life.  This being wholly, intentionally together.  Taking these small images of God and purposefully guiding their steps to the character of who they are and who they are fashioned after.

This Holy voice that has been speaking, ever so quietly, to my inner most parts and moving, guiding me down a less trodden path.  A path where we’re reading, reciting, drawing, learning, cooking, and cleaning up what we’ve done then spilling outdoors to dig in the soil of us, listening to the sounds of what He’s created.

I pause, and I listen for that pure voice and know that if I let it go silent this thread will unravel…

And so I listen.

In pure search,