The morning runs are going well. The heat requires that we go early–just as soon as the boys awaken. We run out, and then walk back. The walks are always entertaining. I think I do enjoy them most. One morning as we walked by the steep bank of the golf course, Teddy called my attention.

Look, mom.

I turned. Almost level with my eye was…perfection. Each pert blade of grass topped with a circle of moisture, perfectly balanced. Hundreds of tiny dew drops atop choppy green spikes. The water droplets prismed the morning sun until the entire lawn was winking sunshine. I stared long, wanting to fall into that beauty.

I wish I had my camera, I whispered.

I knew you were going to say that.

He smiled. I smiled. Because he knew me. This quiet one—the one I have to remind to look at people when he is spoken to—he knows what his mamma loves. And to be known this way is the way of love.

…Something inside me feels like fire, a sure melting, a merging with Spirit I sense in beauty…(L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).

This is how I begin week eleven. Submission, she speaks of. But all I can think is beauty. How it arrests, how it mends, how it touches deep. And I know this is God. Beauty brings me to my knees.

This is submission to me.

It’s another difficult chapter as I re-live my making.

…It’s a skill that kids of divorce pick up along the way, as they pay close attention to the different rules in their respective parent’s homes. In order to keep from seeming too much like mom (for dad) and too much like dad (for mom), kids mimic each parent closely and adjust themselves on the spot, shaping and reshaping beliefs and habits on demand. For this reason, Marquardt notes, kids of divorce often feel like different people with each of their parents. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).

I woke up one morning and I was married. I was married to a man who ran six miles a day and ten on the weekend. He played rhythm guitar in a band and was the lead singer. He had his Ph.D. in clinical psychology and he was so very smart. He had a family who loved him–was kind, showed their care in being with him, talking with him, wanting his time. The day after we returned from our honeymoon he decided to become a homebrewer. He read books, took classes, experimented. He ended up taking a national exam and becoming certified as a national homebrew judge. We traveled all over so he could enter and judge homebrew competitions. He won a few medals. And made some really good beer.

I followed him.

The first year of my marriage I began to suffer crying jags and provoke my beloved into heated arguments. I was unhappy.

I didn’t know who I was. I spent my life bending to the will of others. Being what I thought they wanted me to be.

If there’s one thing I like about Jesus, it’s his cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor…He always seemed to know exactly who he was and what he wanted. He knew when to submit and when to walk away…Adele Calhoun says, “Sometimes submission means giving. Sometimes it means receiving. Sometimes submission means leading and at other times it means following. But in each case there is an element of self-giving.” (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).

How does one give of self when one does not know who self is?

All of the moments of my life rise like steam in the air and drift with the breeze. I can bend, I can float, I can change into rain if the circumstances require it.

I can become something else.

It doesn’t frighten me anymore.

There was a time when I became what others demanded or desired. Now, most days, I choose. Knowingly. Not always happily, but with love at the root. I choose to see the beauty.

And it brings me to my knees.


and doff these
bits of
me; close
my eyes to
remembering when
I thought love
meant only giving
up self, not…
giving of
self…give up;
give of—such a
tiny difference, it
seems. but not. wax
and wane like
the moon—what
ever the mood
called for that
day…I can’t
shed the past—
these broken
bits of me. shards
become the way I
smile and jagged
edges are smoothed
by Love.

This was written in response to L.L. Barkat’s book God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the rest of us. Join me?

photo by Sean Hobson, Flickr creative commons.


  1. says

    Loving ourselves well allows us to more easily love others well…it is always a journey to embrace His love….learning to abide with Him and soak in the Truth of His Love…so thankful He is faithful

  2. says

    Changing to be who others expect or even hope for us to be is futile. At least it is for me because the truth eventually seeps or roars out from the hidden places.

    I am not to that chapter yet. And I have to do a couple each time because my “borrowing” of “God in The Yard” is only for one short month. That being said, I am ever so thankful that He will remain in my midst.


  3. says

    I’m still working on this.

    you tell these bits of life making so well.

    and as an aside I actually went for a small run today, finally. I feel of course that I’m completely starting over, but at least I get to , right?

  4. says

    Still just a chapter or two behind you in LL’s book. I can’t wait to get to this one.

    You know, “submission” as a concept gets a bad rap. But that’s because there are so many inferior things that demand us to submit. Submitting to the amazing, beautiful God feels very different.

    Thanks, Laura!

  5. says

    It’s easy to get swallowed up by people who are very confident of themselves and their opinions. It happens to me, too. I have to spend time alone with God to find the real me again and from that reality to live the life that I long for.

    Compliance can be a way of keeping ourselves safe — apart from, independent of, God. It can look like submission, but be something else entirely.

  6. says

    I can identify with much of this Laura. I like to think that though we can’t shed the past, the Father can take even that and use it to make something of great blessing.
    I must read this one over and over. You always call me to something higher dear heart. Thank you.

  7. says

    Laura, I think this is one of my favourites of yours, so far… I love that your son knows you so well. I love that your husband brews beer (mine does too!) … and I love that you sometimes don’t know who you are, and are wanting so desperately to meet this ‘you.’ Thank you. For your courage.

  8. says

    I love Chameleon — lovely poetry. It’s so wise of you to communicate love as a choice and giving as a positive rather than something that diminishes.

    I love hope and the positive spin. Ever the Pollyanna. Guess that’s why I love being a Christ-follower. There’s so much hope.

  9. says

    Wow- You’re writing is just incredibly beautiful.

    I am still only at chapter 4 of the book, so you are giving me a little preview. What an important thing to grapple with – who are we? I was also very much a people-pleaser for a long time. But have gotten to know me quite well these past years.

    Thanks for sharing so eloquently of your own journey.

  10. says

    I love the giving of self…idea.
    It is not giving up…it is an exchange…a giving of self like a gift. I also love the question…

    How does one give of self when one does not know who self is?

    It is a wonderful question to search and pray and write about.
    When do we ‘know’ we know ourselves? Is there a sign or a peace or a knowing?
    Thank you for challenging us.

  11. says

    I’ve not gotten that far in the book Laura. After reading these words, I feel sadness for my own children and step children, shaping themselves into something not entirely them, to please the parent they’re with at the moment. I’m pretty sure God will speak to me through this chapter in the weeks ahead.

    Love this: giving up/giving of. Different and not. Rooted in love. Thought provoking!

  12. says

    Ah, Cheryl…another friend who divorced with children told me the same. I think it is all conditional, you know? Having a parent–two parents, maybe more–love one well as a child…this makes all the difference in the world. And these formative happenings, well, God will use them if we let Him. He has used my beginnings to give me a great capacity to love.

    I imagine He’s doing a wonderful work in your little ones too.

  13. says

    I thought love
    meant only giving
    up self, not…
    giving of
    self…give up;
    give of—such a
    tiny difference, it
    seems. but not.

    What a revelation you’ve shared, in such beautiful poetry mingling with prose.

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