Monday, September 28, 2015

Every Little Thing {{{by Deidra Riggs}}}

Her book launches {{{TODAY!!!}}}
And I'm giving away a copy! 
Leave a message in the comments and 
I will announce the winner this evening!

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents; physical addresses only (no P.O. boxes).

The winner is Joyce Piskorski!!!


My shelves are lined with great books.

I collect them, mark them up with pink highlighters and ruffle their pages.

But this book…. this book..... it surprised me and has shifted my heart in some unexpected places.

I’ve met Deidra.

I’ve read her heart on her blog Jumping Tandem.

I’ve attended the Jumping Tandem retreat that Deidra founded.

She was transplanted from east coast to {{Nebraska}} ––the good life–– as our state motto says and I believe it's true.

She is a Pastors wife. Bless her!

I bought her book for these reasons I suppose, but I’ll be getting a few more for gifts because of what her words have done for my heart.

Her book has spoken to something in me that I didn’t realize needed a talking to.

She reminded me of Gods profound love for each of us. Right where we are.

We know this right?

But do I live like I believe it in the deepest parts of my soul?

I could hear the heartbeat of the adventure of faith strung throughout the pages and was reminded that God is in the business of using ordinary people.

Ordinary, messed up people.

Like me.

Deidra didn’t shy away for speaking about the heart of Jesus or how God is always meeting us where we are and calling us to His work in small ways that have big impact in the kingdom.

Sometimes I buy into the voice that mocks me, how everyone else is doing every single thing better. ––So why bother.

Deidra’s voice is clear. Her words, comfortable and profound.

This book. Her words. They were truly linen and satin to my soul.

Her book stirred up the embers of some nearly forgotten, tiny, small, pint-sized dreams which I've pushed past as ––not big enough.

Or maybe that I wasn’t enough.

But that voice in my head? Deidra put it this way: "Lying never gets old for the devil. He's not bilingual. He knows no other language."

If our big God, is in every little thing, then are there really any small things?

I think we ––and definitely me–– need to rethink small, in light of God and all of eternity.

In her little bright colored book, Deidra Riggs unpacks a bit of the mystery of grace. 

And that seriously no small thing, right?

A few more gems from the pages of 'Every Little Thing?'

"But God is not counting. He is not measuring. God is not keeping score."

"God sees things differently. With God, the small things matter for bigness too."

Hop over and grab a copy of her book?

Monday, September 21, 2015

September Splendor

September has wrapped herself in the wonder of summer’s twilight. Misty, rose-colored sunrises spread out like a soft veil rising. Apricot colored sunsets melt across the horizon with golden threads of light, weaving a new tapestry every single night.

Sunflowers are the only thing that grew in the big garden spot this year.

They flourished right where they found themselves growing, standing strong and wild with their wide faces pushed toward the sky.

September, she holds some pieces of my soul woven tightly with threads of grace.

In a mere moment, one crisp September morning, all my dreams were wrenched and tangled and I found myself where I didn't want to be.

There was a great uprooting. A ripping and tearing, and if you had asked me then, it would have been impossible to see the good or how anyone could survive it.

Quite frankly, it was a wound I didn't want to recover from. I certainly didn't want to do the work to walk though it and there was no walking around.



Perhaps it was in the pain.

In the silence of dark nights, when dawn refused to rise.

That is where the seed began to grow  ––where I began to grow.

In the stark void of light in my world, this is where I met the God who had pursued me all my life.

The One, whose voice I only heard in small moments and soft whispers.

I was too busy, to proud, too independent to respond.

But this Jesus captures hearts and cares for the vulnerable and brokenhearted.

Have you read about Job? The man who had it all, the man who lost it all, the man who was given more in the end than he had in the beginning? 

The story shows how God is able to redeem what is lost and restore what was taken.

Still, Job buried his oldest seven sons and three daughters.

His loss was greater than most any of us will ever endure, but what I know is that profound loss changes you.

It has the potential to destroy you or drive you into the arms of God.

Or, in my case, when I finally fell apart, He was there to catch me.

September reminds me of the bounty of the season and the beauty in the dying.

JQ swung the small frame of a young girl high, so she could pluck a few leaves from the tree outside the courthouse. Light pierced through the branches holding gold, orange and crimson colored leaves.

September days.

The waning hours of daylight bring out the deep tones, just before every tree around us is left bare and exposed.

On that day, the tap-tap of small patent leather shoes echoed across thick terrazzo flooring, the sound ricocheting off grey marble mop boards and rising above our heads in the massive stairwell that led to the judge's chambers.

The two beautiful blondes, they skipped up three flights of stairs, their giggles arriving ahead of us, leading into the courtroom. There, an over-sized desk, with rich tones of ebony stain, framed the judge in his black robe.

We were wearing our Sunday best kind of clothes and they hid all the scars that had brought us to this place.

With little fanfare and a rap of his gavel, JQ officially pledged to take care of the girls and they took his name.

He had rightfully gained the love and trust of each of us. He held our hearts. He paid our bills. He most always had a yes for every dream that we dreamed.

If only there were more men like him who would stand in the gap for the fatherless.

Many men are called, but how many respond?

For us, there was a September miracle and JQ was much braver than he could have known.

It's no small thing to raise daughters and love your wife well and be all God made you to be.

And who can understand how God weaves families together?

Our family is a blend. A beautiful patchwork stitched together with tears and mistakes and prayers.

And laughter.

And sticking it out when it seemed ridiculous to even try.

And in the unsteady moments, to raise an open palm hand and tell the Lord "no matter what.... You are the One we serve...."

Signing a legal paper was the easy part.

We solidified the family-ness of our family by living one day at at time.

One choice to stay at a time.

One action to love at a time.

If love is a verb ––family is a verb.

The everyday things add up to years and made us deeply who we are.

And we are more together than we are apart.

Undeniably we are a family. 

God mended us together in a way that would display His glory. Gratefully, our family is a testimony to the complete goodness and grace of God.

It is good, so good, to be reminded how God is in the business of picking up the shredded patches of our lives, taking the dark threads to form a backdrop of masterfully woven cords of His grace to display His glory.

Really people..... this is my life story. The one I will tell until I have no breath in my lungs.

Some believe the face of the sun flower follows the sun across the sky. It symbolizes longevity and focused devotion to seeking the light.

And it thrives where it finds itself planted.

May we follow that living example and push our faces to the sky and keep our eye on the Son.

What is your story?

How has God knit your family together?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Capturing Some Final Moments of Summer

Summer is fading fast and we are grabbing for every glistening, glimmering, moment of it.

I had a plan.

I was going to capture some of these wonderfully warm September moments with water and sun and some of my favorite people.

So, for Grandparents Day, I had grand-kids at my house. It was actually for two days before and one day after that we celebrated together.

The schedule was cleared as much as possible.... except there is just a lot of life happening all the time, isn't there?  But, short of a fire in the house, everything would have to cease for nap time.

So, the fridge was stocked with fresh fruit, kid-friendly food and I was pretty confident in my ability to single handedly handle this.

After all, with somewhat proven success, we did raised three daughters. The girls seem surprisingly well adjusted and live in their own homes.

When ‘The Three’ climbed into the car with their most prized belongings, we all knew this was going to be “easy-peasy.” –That is what the oldest said anyway.

He had his four foot long, hand hewn gun, she had her glitter cowboy boots and the youngest had the all-important “Mime.” (We are talking the difference between happy and tragic. We wanted to choose happy.)

We arrived home in time to unload all the bags and to reload for our fun Friday evening activities.

A month earlier I had signed up to deliver a meal, to a family who I had not met, who lived at an address I'd never heard of.

This sounded like a good idea 30 days ago.

So there we all were, sippy cups with filtered ice water, slices of organically raised apples, and of course, the diaper bag. I put the address of our destination into a navigation search on my phone and we were off on our little adventure. We were all singing loud and off-key and laughing with shrill screams like children can make you do.

Did I mention that I had a plan?

It didn’t include getting slightly lost.

My phone insisted that the address we were looking for was in the center of a pasture. There were cows.

Going back to the last known intersection, I started knocking on doors. Thinking someone, somewhere should know their neighbors. I can tell you that some people do not know their neighbors.

It was an opportunity to meet some really nice folks. None of them had a new baby or knew of anyone who had a new baby in their little cozy neighborhood. One man did try to sell me his house.

Some darling children kept smiling and waving each time we passed by on the other side of the cul de sac and as luck would have it, we asked if they had a new baby and they said they did.

Since we were in the neighborhood, which in Nebraska means you are within a 10 mile radius, we went to see my husband who was helping to pour a cement driveway.

At what time was it ever a good idea to take young children to a location where there is fresh cement?

I remembered the parable of how dogs and children are drawn to freshly edged concrete like bees to flowers.  The problem became apparent about the same time the little-guy filled his diaper and there was just no ignoring the problem.

This would be an easy fix. (This is also a saying of the oldest boy.)

The diaper bag was heavy. I imagined a whole box of diapers inside, but only found one completely swollen diaper that appeared to have been used for swimming. Everything inside the bag was slimy like the diaper.

We hung upside down in the car searching for even one stray diaper. The kids thought this was a great game since a flashlight was involved. The search only produced glitter boots and a gun.

We called a few people. I suppose this was more for emotional support, since they would be able to help us how?

There was no reason to panic. Yet.

“Full speed ahead!” (Another new catchy phrase my oldest grandson gave me.)

We were only half an hour from my home. So we put little-guys shorts on, along with seat belts, and again we were off.

Things went smoothly for the next three minutes.

That is when that certain little-guy began to scream the letter “p” repeatedly.

Of course I thought, “How smart is that boy that he knows his letters already?!”

Yes, my grand-ma-ness gets in the way of reality sometime.

It was like a fountain in the rear view mirror and he and his camo booster seat were afloat.

The next pit stop left him in his birthday suit and it seemed to fit him well.

We needed diapers. The stores where those can be purchased were probably not prepared for our little entourage. The kids had a great idea to go to their house.

They said they knew the secret code to get into the house and there may have been crying until I agreed to let them prove it.

The bare-bum boy was running around the yard, screaming and waving at people passing by while apparently three failed attempts locks you out from future tries on keyless entry systems?

Less than two hours before, I had been fully confident that I could adequately care for the lives, hearts and emotional well-being of these children. Now we had been lost in a small town, wandering door to door talking to complete strangers and attempting to gain entry to a house for which we had no key, while the neighbors watched one screaming boy bare more than his soul.

Now I remembered what a miracle it is that my own children survived.

And there is no end to the humbling that comes with being a parent or grandparent.

I once thought, I would never forget how much energy it took to be a mom of littles. Bless you mommas. Bless you. I hope you can remember the sacred inside each of your precious mini versions of you. The window of time is really short even though it feels long.

While I’ll admit the memories have faded, along with so much else in my physical world, it all comes crashing back in at moments like these.

These kids, and well all kids really, do things like their parents did when they were kids.

They live full out and the rest are just detail that only bother adults.

I’m not sure how –not wanting to potty-train until you’re 18– can be genetic?

I’ve learned some things this last week.

The more we stayed home the more fun we had.

To keep things "easy-peasy" you can serve PB & J’s and chips for breakfast.

There is a 99.9% chance of things not going according to plan, but maybe that is part of what made it worth living.

The crazy, messy, moments mixed in with the final summer-like days have been sun-kissed blessings.

No children were hurt in the writing of this blog post. 

How are you spending these beautiful September days? 

Monday, September 7, 2015

About Chocolate and Opening Our Home

Sprinkled throughout these days ––all the ones that have been slipping by–– are tender reminders to open my home to people.

I don't do this so well. I don't. But some women have been showing me and this whole blue table thing, has reawakened my awareness of the need. 

What if, instead of meeting at the local coffee shop, instead of gathering at a bustling restaurant, we bring people into our homes?

Those others places are fine too, but our home...... now that is where we are more deeply known.
Many of us don't feel comfortable moving past the surfacy relationships of sipping coffee or tea and chatting about the weather. Oh to be that person who is brave enough to just say, “Come on over to my place, friends!”

Home is where you enter into my imperfect world. Where there is plenty of dust and dander and food stuck to the floor.

"I’m not sure what we'll have, but there is something here we can share at the table."


Just come as you are and if you don't mind, I’ll be who I most deeply am.

And we can prop our elbows on the table and use our napkins to blot our messy fingers or the tears that have found the freedom to fall, when we open up our muddied lives to each other.

What I have found, is folks linger in this setting.

Conversations go past the veneer talk that is safe and simple and move into something safely sacred.

This is when I’m most alive.  When people are invited into the everyday, barefoot, yogi pants me.

I want more of that in my life. 

I not super good about the details, however I do keep a few things on hand that make any gathering something a little special.

Those two things are good chocolate and heavy whipping cream. 

Alone, each of those things can make most any recipe delectable. 

Whipping cream most often has a very long shelf life. 

Nothing says "welcome," quite like hand whipped cream, dolloped on a bowl of ripe berries, a slice of cake or generous helping of pumpkin pie. I might whip a small amount or an entire pint. Depending on my mood, I may add 1/4 cup sugar or no sugar at all, but add a splash of real vanilla and fold in a few single serve packages of powdered stevia to taste. 

It's decadent, simple and satisfying.

Not long ago I had company stop by. It turned into an impromptu meal and knowing I had chocolate and whipping cream on hand I tried a recipe I had seen in the book, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.

It was fast, beautiful and shockingly elegant.

There was the clink of silver scraping the edges of ramekins and conversation was as smooth as the spoons we licked clean.

So I'm highlighting her recipe and hope it will encouraged you to open your home and your heart to those you bump into. Your neighbors, your family, perhaps even a stranger. 

Don't overthink it. Say a breath prayer that God will help you be relaxed and creative with what you have available. Dust off the teapot and enjoy the people who have come, not to see your home, but to see you. 
This week remember to love others well and maybe invite some folks into your home.

I actually prayed and am praying that He will bring you opportunities to practice saying, "Come on in! I'm so glad you are here."

What is your go-to recipe when people drop by?

Happy Labor Day friends!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Living Grace In the Tangledness of Life

I’ve heard religion taught and grace preached.

But for many years the concepts of grace were empty and unable to help me understand how to live grace, in the all tangledness of life.

Religion was a list of rules. It was black or white. Right or wrong. Them and us.

And grace, well, it didn't seem like a gift when the words preached built fences to keep some people in and others out.
I thought Jesus was holding committee meetings in heaven about who had the correct doctrine.

And there must be holy sub-committees who labored over deep issues such as music, how people should dress, programs, political association and other social issues of the day.

There were people, not so different from myself, messed up, carrying decades of burdens, trying to find the grace offered by Jesus, but who couldn't get past walls which held back hope.

There was always a lot of talk of grace, but it felt like barbed wire wrapped around my soul.

When grace is taught only as a religious concept, it shows up in our dealings and interactions with others.

Jesus experienced this as He journeyed toward the cross. 

His own people ––well they wanted their Messiah to come, but when He showed up they didn't like the way Grace looked. 

He didn't fit inside their neatly established boxes.   

The Torah (the Law) pointed to the coming Messiah. The oral law was added, and strangely enough is still referred to as, "building a fence around the law."  

By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, "the fence" included 248 extra commandments and 365 additional prohibitions. 

The oral law was intended to protect the Written Law. 

As a former rancher, I well know the value of a fence and how it's expressed purpose is to protect by restricting access.

What was intended to protect, became a stumbling block.

Jesus told the leaders of that day,  "You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help." Luke 11:46

Those people wanted to kill Jesus, because they felt they were the final authority on who had access to God.  

He broke their rules. He didn't play within the boundaries of  who, what, when, where and how their Messiah was suppose to do things.

Despite the opinions of those leaders, the religious elite, the ones who had the keys to the church building, Jesus was scandalous in His love for others. 

He was known to hang out with prostitutes, thieves, the passed-over, used up, the shunned, and the lowest-of -the-low in that society.  

Because Good News is mostly received by those who are used to bad news.

Jesus lived as an equal-opportunity-grace-extender and the religious men with their protective fences of rules, well they wanted to kill Him for it. In fact they did kill Him and that is how Grace became our Gift.

Jesus came knowing He would be rejected by the very ones He came to save. 

It was true then and is still true today, men and women like to add incredible yokes of bondage and spiritual slavery to people. Perhaps, without meaning to, we can make claims to be the absolute authority of who should have access and who shouldn't. All while we miss the heart of those looking for Jesus, because we miss the very heart of Jesus Himself.

Not everyone has an open heart for His wild grace.

I came to my own crisis of faith. 

The Jesus I read about, the One I wanted to live for, wasn't the One I saw people in church living. In fact it was all in direct conflict with each other. 

One day I sat in a heap and told God and my husband, ".......if  religion and rules and arguments about doctrine is all Jesus is about, then I'm done with it."

It was  lifeless and above all loveless to me. 

Crazy thing.... the very same day I walked away from religion, Jesus showed up. 

Grace isn’t found within human lines. 

Grace is found in the fullness and abundance of Christ. 

Grace is a Person. 

Grace is what sets us apart from all other religion.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. 
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 
not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
Ephesians 2: 8-9

Grace is simple in the fact that it is found in Christ alone. 

That Savior, the One who created the entire universe, a macrocosm which cannot contain Him ––He is wild, complex and sets His own boundaries, which are wide and spacious. 

His grace is greater that all our sin.

Jesus is supreme and He is the One who establishes how far the oceans can go, the rising and setting of the sun. 

He had a way of breaking people’s rules and turning over tables. 

Jesus was and is famous for welcoming God-seekers that look more like castaways.

He summons the weary and wrecked. The restless and the prodigal. 

He didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. 

God’s law is to be INTERNALIZED. It isn't a set of external things we do or rules we keep. It changes us from the inside out ––truly it's upside down, to how rules and religion work.

We who love God, obey Him. Not out of coercion or boundaries set, but because of the great grace.

He doesn't tell us to get cleaned up and then come to Grace, He invites us to come and be changed by grace.

What I know is that grace, His grace, has brought me salvation and much more. 

Because of who Jesus is, the same grace that saves us, settles over all of our messy, cracked places and continues to mark and change us. Grace is a very multi-faceted thing. It is the Gift as well as the Restorer, Game Changer, Forgiver, Peace Maker, Rescuer, Giver of all good things.

It changes stone hearts into hearts of flesh.

The more time we spend with Grace the more we begin to look and live like grace.

When we are living grace, it brings wild freedom and reckless passion. 

Grace gives us eyes to see things which graceless eyes cannot see. 

Such as people who haven't got set free from their chains yet.

I love our church and all the messy people in it. Together we are growing, pressing in, allowing more Grace into the places that still need,,,, more grace.

The authenticity of our faith will always, always, be marked by deeply warm grace.

That is how we live this tangled messy life.

Living grace, not just talking about it.

Let us live the kind of grace which invites all people to cross over the fence, to see what Jesus is really all about.

© Rhonda Quaney