before a work of heart

before a work of heart


As a child, the letter “e” looked like a profile

with a perpetual smile.

Whenever I saw my first and middle names side by side,

I envisioned them grinning from ear to ear.

You are invited to crack a smile as well and nod your head even if

this thought process makes no earthly sense.

Perhaps being named Helen Lelia in honor of my

grandmothers was reason enough to beam with joy.

My story is strung together by paragraphs composed of

embraced and ignored words.

I am not a shade different from the majority of writers

who proclaim they “have always written”.

I spent hours practicing and changing my handwriting.

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t keep a  journal and

I remember fondly a pink 5-year diary

with a gold lock and key.

It remained fairly empty as the lines were so narrow and my

handwriting was not.

Who could possibly summarize a day in three slender lines?

I had a childhood friend who moved from my hometown of Pullman,

Washington right at the beginning of our grade school years.

We wrote letters our entire childhood and through our teen years.

Oh how I wish those letters were still in my possession. Sigh.

It’s doubtful I will ever abandon writing letters and cards even in this

age of technological immediacy.

My Aunt Lelia was a creative who defied definition.

She possessed the most amazing handwriting I have ever seen.

When our family would visit her, she would hand us copies of her latest

newspaper articles.

If the timing was perfect, I tagged along whenever she went into the newspaper

office and I was hypnotized by the murmur of writers and

chatter of typewriters.

She gave me my first Writers Market when I was in late middle school.

I read it from cover to cover as if it were a novel.

Thumbing through page after page, I tried to decipher this new vocabulary of query

letters, submissions and SASE(self-addressed stamped envelope).

I dreamed of the day someone wanted to pay pennies for my words or

allow me to write the squishy centers of Hallmark cards.

Sadly my aunt departed too soon, she would have loved blogging.

She would have adored laptops and social media!

During my years in college, I often felt a nudge to send friends

cards or letters.

At the time, I would not understand where the compulsion resided

but I would heed the plea.

I would sit down, allow my thoughts to quiet and

release my pen to glide wherever

it desired.

Once deposited in a mailbox, the letter might cross my

mind once or twice but for the most part,

I was able to release the words to the postal service

for their safe delivery.

Over the years, I would hear a common collection of words from friends.

“Your letter came at just the right time.”

“I can’t believe the words you wrote in that card.”

“How did you know to write what you wrote?”

I would express gratitude for the words being meaningful

but I had no recollection.

I couldn’t grasp adequate words to explain.

I didn’t recognize nor did I pay attention to the reality

of witnessing the Spirit and the crazy mystery of God.

The signposts pointing to God were there, the words flowing

from my pen were indicators,

I chose to take a detour away from words.

To be continued…



i no longer wear a watch

i no longer wear a watch



The path to church last week was a series of closed streets, on-ramps and detours.

The need to assemble sometimes outweighs being late.

After the third re-routing, let’s be honest,

I started scouting for diners,

ready to trade in worship for feasting.

We were able to exhale once

Caleb was deposited to his class and

the four of us took our places in a nose bleed

worthy upper balcony pew.

We missed the first songs, testimony,

announcements and sitting where we had

become accustomed.

It took many twists and turns to sit in those seats.

We all have our own faith journeys.

I glance from time to time to sneak a peek

at my two daughters

and think of Caleb in the next building.

From the moment each one was laid in my arms,

I have been consumed with loving them beyond reason

and without end.

The loving part is not a challenge.

It’s every other part of the equation which proves difficult.

I have wanted to teach them every possible lesson for

every possible scenario.

I have wanted them to love each other deeply and count

it all joy to be brother and sisters,

well, at least most of the time.

I have wanted them to unearth their passions

and breath deeply into their dreams.

I have hoped hard that they would one day believe Carl

and I had been the parents they needed

and somehow forget

each misstep.

Far above anything, I have wanted them to love

God because His love for them defies reason and

has always been and always will remain.

I have held so tightly to these hopes like they were

wishes upon a dandelion fully in seed.

I have witnessed gentle and violent breezes send

the seeds spiraling into orbit.

At times I have tried to be God, with everything

that Helen could muster, I tried to line up these

three people’s lives to align the way I viewed

as just, right and acceptable.

Yet sitting there in that sky-high pew, my hands

release their choke hold on these three beloveds

of my heart and soul.

There will be detours and road blocks in this life,

in their lives,

in my life.

There will be sections of life when roads are

closed for repair.

The tarnished and scratched watch I have worn

displaying my timetable

has now been relinquished to my Maker,

to their Maker.

I have found Him trustworthy.

I have found Him without equal,

flawless in character.

90 minutes pass and we are cramming into what was once

my grandfather’s Buick navigating our way home.

A question is lobbed in Caleb’s direction about his time in class.

He chatters about God providing manna in the wilderness and

water from a rock to satisfy the Israelite’s hunger and thirst.

We all nod and uh-huh as we had heard the same

moments earlier.

A shared experience.

We had all known wilderness

and hunger

and thirst.

We had all journeyed on different pathways

yet as one family.

We all nod and uh-huh that God has been

faithful to provide manna every day

for every hunger pain.

He has provided water to satisfy

our penetrating thirsts.

He has never taken a break

from His post watching our flock.

Every road we traverse,

I can trust He is there,


patiently waiting

and possessing hope.

A bucket full of hope

large enough to empty

its contents over me,

displacing my fears and

worst case scenarios.

I drop my timepiece in His hands

and open my mouth

to shout but the sound is only

released in a whisper,

“They are all yours.

You can keep time.”

He assures me,

a hushed prayer is

His delight.