Your Cullman Ambassadors To The Winter Games: Departure Day

We are not actually going to PyeongChang; we are going to Roscommon, Michigan for a 30-year anniversary cross-country ski trip. But we do expect a call from the Olympics just anytime when they see clips of us on the trail. At the very least, for the first time in our adult lives, we will watch the Olympics and not feel the couch-guilt of underachievers.

But first, a few shout-outs.  Hello to our Covenant Group who foresee all sorts of tendon damage. So far, so good! We haven’t torn our ACLs getting the suitcases out. Hello to the 9th – 12th graders at Cullman Christian School! Woohooo, y’all! Check the live webcam on Thursday and Friday.  I’ll be the one in the purple jacket on the ground. Now, get on with vocab.  Thank you to Morgan Moore and Rachel Eidson at Elevate Barre for training me for this endeavor. I’ll be repping the studio with my hard-won cap! Hello to our 5 children/spouse/fiance who for some reason think we are going to die on this trip. This is not downhill skiing so our chances of death, at least in my inexperienced surmising, should be significantly lower. We will google the difference in black bear versus brown bear protocol before we head out and try to get it right should the panicked moment arise. Hypothermia won’t be a problem which you’ll see when I describe our packing. What else? Dehydration? Snow is water, right??

So we are packing today. We’ve been told that cross-country skiing is very hard and exhausting and we will be drenched with sweat, so dress in layers that can be removed. In fact, we are evidently supposed to be cold when we start out. I don’t like being cold, so that advice will be hard to heed. We’ve also been told that we will fall down a lot and that our inner thighs will be crippled in pain on day 2 from maneuvering 7-foot skis as we try to get back up. I doubt the 9 Oaks motel in Grayling, MI has a resident masseuse, but I could be wrong. I hope I am.

Ok, then. Layers. That simply means bring everything we own. We did buy some neat little tubes of fabric called Buffs that can be worn in 12 different ways and look all manner of cool. Not on us, but on the models in the video tutorial.

Our dining plans include Spike’s Keg O’ Nails in Grayling every night because look at it! Vietnamese in Indy, Middle Eastern in Dearborn.

Oh, our pets. Could someone please come feed . . . wait, WE DON’T HAVE ANY! HAHAHAHA.

Today we leave. We will hit Indianapolis, IN; Roscommon, MI; Detroit, MI; Cincinnati, OH, and then back to good old Cullman.

And if that lineup doesn’t strike you as totally romantic then I don’t know what would.



What I Saw In Their Faces

~ For my niece Rebecca, her husband Paul, and baby Perry Brooks

The baby is the miracle;
His eyes are irresistible.
His hatted head is why we live
And build and breathe and sweat and give.

His lips, his cheeks, his fingernails,
Soft weapons o’er our hearts prevail.
And all our armored busyness
Melts upon his helplessness.

He doesn’t even mean to be
The spitty, softy death of me.
Demise of me with me enthralled,
He softly breathes; to him I’m called.

Too small, these words, unnecessary.
The moments speak in pixels clearly:
She tired, unclothed, wrung out and smiling.
He, too, face bent to love beguiling.



Stomach Bug Undaunted

Stomach Bug came calling in the dark of night;
That’s his favorite hour and he hits it just right.
Tossed awake by rancid dreams of the gumbo she had eaten,
She squinted at the clock – just 11:57.

So commenced a swooning night on a neon fair ride,
Gumbo burnt and gumbo greasy, gumbo served on every side.
In delirium it’s so important to know how he got in,
Buggy handle? Public bathroom? Slithered in the dryer vent?

Finally darkness turns to blueness; day, against all odds, has dawned.
Hope renewed, our patient tries to tell her body it is wrong.
“You aren’t really sick, get on up and get to work!”
Stomach Bug checks his schedule, settles in with a smirk.

On the couch, that staunch companion of many diseases,
Our patient sinks and soars. And sweats. And freezes.
All these could be endured except for one tiny detail:
Her husband’s Saturday project list must not fail!

Doors slam, drills whir, sparking sockets are changed,
Racks removed, studs knocked for, and the junk drawer rearranged.
A quilt over the head doesn’t silence progress’s racket,
Stomach Bug considers giving up and calling a taxi.

But he doesn’t.

November Nomad: Lessons From The Road

Flexibility is the jewel of youth.
I am not young.
Nevertheless, I can roll with it
If the road requires –
Provided certain non-negotiables:
Good coffee, hot shower.
Otherwise, I am Thor Heyerdahl.

I love my children and those I have adopted.
Settled happiness is listening to
Insights and laughter
From the offspring of my youth.

I love mountains. Earth above me is
Ultimate humility.

I love Montreat mountains – Assembly Inn,
Hewed from the rocky side of the bowl that
Holds Lake Susan, cold air straight from
God’s pure storehouses into my hot lungs,
Frost on every brown leaf under the laurels.

I love going to another church and singing –
No, shouting! –
Receiving the sermon from the lips of
A man of God, deep conviction and
Deeper healing. Oh! Thank you, Lord!

I love my in-laws. What I learn from them is,
As another said, A long obedience in the
Same direction. We love to think compromise
Is smart. They teach me it is not.

I love beauty. My heart sings of the beauty of
Antique stores – tiny cream pitchers in striped
Stoneware, sideboards chalk-painted buttercream
Leaving dark cherry exposed. Deep
Knowledge that time is fleeting and I am too.

I love a table of shared food – green curry in my
Daughter’s first home. Bennet Avenue by

I love my children’s loves. I am speechless over
Their finding their soul’s friend.

I love traveling with Andrew. How many times we
Laugh and say, I was JUST thinking that!

I love going. Well, I hate packing with a
White hatred. But, I love the first vista of
Smoky blue mountains just past Knoxville.
I love woodsmoke and
That fall sun that both slices and mists.

I love the quilt on the wall at
The Yellow Deli – two-inch squares of
Upholstery fabric become, in the hands
Of the artist, a window onto a creek bank,
Shadowy undergrowth and light-tipped leaf,
Silver water over moss and rock bed, and all from
Crushed velvet sofa scraps.

I love hearing God tell me that
He is my rock and I am the
Apple of his eye; I can hear him deeper
When I’m on the road.












Psalm 17 and 18


Coffee too strong? Ah. Good.
I can make it an Americano
If you need me to.
This? Pumpkin bread –
It’s a November thing.
I did, yes, have a question for you,
And I’m really asking.

Why did you choose not to see?

If you had listened even for a minute . . .
You would have actually understood
And not just thought you did.

But you didn’t. You dared instead
To lecture Jesus on the meaning of
Words He wrote.

And you could not have possibly
Gotten it more wrong.

You were striking a path, looking at
The wrong map,
Fighting in the wrong war,
Working very hard at building destruction,
Shoring up your pride with
Dry rot and sand,

Foaming and sweating
In a madman’s fit
Like all our classic tragic characters.
I watch you, cringing through my

For right in front of you stood
Righteousness offering itself free
For the taking,
But you couldn’t because you had
Buried yourself.

And I am right there beside you, but for the
His ‘Come to Me’ came and got me.
It came with power not resistible and it
Resurrected this buried soul. It loved my
Dry rot and pride and foam and sweat
Into tears of awe.

I’m telling you what it did,
But I cannot tell you how,
Except that He is Lord of heaven and earth.
Matthew 11 and 12

Joy Song For This Day

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28 – 30

If I have ears to hear what this teaches, thank you, Lord, giver of ears.
If you hold out your hand and cry, Come, thank you, Lord, beckoner of undeserving souls.
If I am called to humility, to service, thank you, Lord, yourself, gentle and lowly.
If I can learn from you, thank you, Lord, the first fruits, the go-before, the vitality.
If your yoke is to be mine, thank you, Lord, the king.
If your yoke is easy, thank you, Lord, my father.
If your yoke is the privilege of sacrifice, thank you, Lord, rejoicer in joy set before you.
If the sacrifice is planned and agreed upon by Triunity, thank you, Lord, sovereign savior.
If the result is exceeding joy, thank you, Lord, author and audience to all our joy songs.