What the Creek Knows

The rhododendron is blooming outside my door—the toile of the season—and these past two days the temperatures have reached to 90̊ and spring is wilting.
My spirit is too.
But this morning, the rain comes and quenches.
Lately, I’ve given up on saying no. Because all these things seem so small—the transporting of the dogs from the shelter, the committee for the Presbytery, the spinal cord team at work, the teaching of the lesson…And my flowers need weeding and so do the boys’ closets and I have to read that book to write that review and I’m supposed to be writing my own book, for Pete’s sake, and I come home from work on Tuesdays and lay on the floor in the sun in front of the French doors and I can’t move for an hour because of the tired.
Saying yes is killing me.
I still meet with God and I hold it up before Him and I ask, “How do I choose?” and He stays quiet. I know He wants me to decide. I think about my friend Ann—how her wise husband tells her that when she says yes to something, she’s saying no to something else but I can’t seem to master this.
Yesterday, when he hurts my feelings,I slip out of the house with Lucy Mae and wander down to the creek. I let the rippling water catch my tears and I ask God when I will grow up. When will I stop getting hurt over little things and rest secure in this love that holds me? And when will I be able to say no like a grown-up and why do I keep failing at the smallest of tasks He sets before me?
I lay in the grass by the creek under the black willow for the longest time. Just looking up at the sky between those wispy branches waving their bending frames in the breeze. Lucy is happy with her patch of shade and I see a four-leaf clover poking up right on the edge of the creek bank. I keep telling God I will go back to the house once I get this silly crying out of my system. But I can’t seem to.
It feels good.
I know these tears are being collected, I know I’m not alone. I let the blue of the sky and the listing wave of leaves and the rippling of water embrace me. I said this to a patient the other day, sometimes you just need to be sad for a while. And he nodded through his tears like that was the truest thing anyone could ever say.
Yesterday, the last patient on my list—it was supposed to be a quick check, he’s doing ok. But he told me a story about slowing down.  So I did. I sat down beside his bed and we talked for an hour about farming and how a wide expanse of land can claim a soul.
I like to take a salt-shaker out to the garden, he said. And pick a tomato straight from the vine. I wipe it on my shirt, put a little salt on it, and eat it like an apple. Nothing in the world tastes better. Nothing.
I had to agree.
I think about that broken little man as I study the sky above my little creek. I think about all that he said no to and all the yeses he now cradles in his hand with a salt-shaker.
And I notice the tears have stopped. When I get up to head back home, I still don’t have the answer. Deep in me, I know I’ll keep saying yes to the wrong things. I don’t love myself well enough to put the things I want before the things others ask. This truth is as clear to me as the creek water running over the rocks.
And I guess that’s why I came down here, so this realization would come to light. And maybe this is a beginning. A small one. A beginning of saying no to some things.

I leave that four leaf clover right there growing. And head on home. 

With my sweet friend Jennifer today: 

And Emily too:


  1. says

    It’s so hard to choose. I choose, entirely too often, the blogosphere. I need to do more choosing of outside and the little people who should be playing outside. So maybe I’ll do that, today. You’re doing really good things. I’m sorry it all feels a little off balance, but I can tell you this: you’re not alone.

  2. says

    I love the pictures…and yes. I too love those wise words from the Framer…they have helped me. I don’t want to say yes as the expense of the ones that count the most in my life. sometimes we just have to look at life like a circle…the most inner spot…me and God…next husband…next kids…and so on…I just see this picture of the ripples and picture where I put the yes…if yes can be placed many ripples away from the center…I might question the value of the yes. Blessings as you let God continue to teach and lead you~

  3. says

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Yours is beautiful. I loved the pictures in today’s post. I can relate to having lots to do and not always knowing which things to say no to. I”m involved in way too much and the ironic thing is though I’m doing a lot all the time, because I’m doing so much, I’m probably not doing anything really well so it sometimes looks like I’m not doing anything. You went to the right place for answers. Maybe God hasn’t shown you just yet but keep asking asking and He will.

  4. says

    Your tears are collected, beautiful one.

    May I say that even when you choose well, it doesn’t always end up balanced. Everyone–your family, your job, your ministry, the PTA, the telemarketer–wants 100 percent of you. And most days, I don’t even have that much for the people I love.

  5. says


    My, my, my.

    Laura, you’re so very beautiful. You even make a good old-fashioned cry beautiful.

    I’ve been praying for you. I haven’t forgotten. I’m thankful for your yesses. And I’m praying that you’ll know exactly where to put your no’s.

    Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to be sad for a while. When I read those words, I could hear your voice in my heart. I’m glad I know what it sounds like.

    Love you …

  6. says

    “all that he said no to and all the yeses he now cradles in his hand with a salt-shaker”–what an evocative turn of phrase. Your struggle is mine, too, perhaps everyone’s in this culture. Holley Gerth wrote today about confusing worth and productivity, and that spoke to my own personal motivation many times when I’m spread too thin. Brava to you for letting yourself be sad and learning from your patients. Comfort, grace, wisdom, and peace to you in the Lord Jesus.

  7. says

    Well, the slow-down girl in me is hushed, sitting next to you, thinking about that saltshaker and the tomato eaten sun-warmed, straight from the vine. A life savored. I pray you find ways to slow…to savor.

  8. says

    Reaching out to you with love and hugs Laura. I was right where you were, by the creek tears and all, just the other day. I wonder if we ever grow up quite that much.
    Perhaps it is because I have reached a certain number of years (got that medicare card in my wallet now)that I feel better able to say no on occasion. I don’t really have the answer. I just know that at this season of my life I so want the days to count – to be spent the way He chooses.
    And still, it is difficult.

  9. says

    I like that idea of laying in the grass under a black willow. If God hadn’t helped me with a friend’s repeated advice to keep a sense of humor in parenting, I’d be a wilted weeping willow myself, after today. (At the top of his lungs, one of my sons called me a “BLOB OF IGNORANCE!!!” Well, I never heard that one before.) So, sounds like you went down the creek, while I went up the creek. 🙂

  10. says

    So glad that you were able to get away, cry till you felt? a little better (I’m trying to read bw the lines) and discover a deeper truth as you wrote:”Deep in me, I know I’ll keep saying yes to the wrong things. I don’t love myself well enough to put the things I want before the things others ask.”

    dear dear Laura, may God give you the grace to know how much He loves you and that your needs also matter…for the past month, Jesus has been telling me, “Follow Me,” and it has meant not following sometimes what others ask of me and having to say “no” to the people-pleaser within me. Praying for you, friend and sending you a {{Hug}}

  11. says

    I need a good cry.

    I’ve just been mad lately. And I guess it’s okay to be mad for a while, too. I need to say no to a couple things I love–just for a short season–so I can say yes to a couple things I hate so I can pour myself into what I love. And I’m fighting it.

    The tomato story reminds me of going out to my grandpa’s garden with a cup of sugar to pick rhubarb, rub it on my shirt, dip and eat.

    You bring sweetness to my sour day today. Love you, friend. May I come sit by the creek with you?

  12. says

    Sometimes, it’s just a choice. Then, you start over tomorrow. God gives us many tomorrows. And there will be yeses you’ll say and cradle and love and nos you won’t regret. I have lots of regret in my past and am trying to live my life anew, striving forward and doing things that I didn’t do before because God has in His hands all of our tomorrows. Beautiful post.

  13. says

    If we could only just know…I’m in one of those places of wilderness right now and it’s not about running or other stuff I’ve written about. It’s bigger and runs deeper and I just want to know. Such lovely words here.

  14. says

    oh friend, with the tender heart… i know. it’s so hard to know. but i also find that it helps to think about others, and their circumstances, and what their lives teach me, and suddenly life is clearer and simpler. i also find it helps to read anne lamott. 🙂 love you.

  15. says

    Oh my goodness, I have no words. That was so beautiful, I’d call it exquisite. I SO know that moment of when it’s all too much and you’ve said yes one too many times and now you’re weary.

    You know it’s okay to cry “uncle,” don’t you, sweets? While we don’t like it, sometimes it has to be done. And before you say “yes” to something else to take its place, call a “clearinghouse” friend: the one who’ll say “Truly, is it worth it?” Sometimes just the act of not saying “yes” right away allows you the time to see clearly that it should be a “no.” xo

  16. says

    This post really resonated with me and I wanted you to know how beautiful I thought it was……I felt as if I have been in the very same spot as you were, sitting under that tree by the water. He sees our every teardrop 🙂 Lori

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