Saturday, January 28, 2012


I love to listen.

I am not always the best at it, but I really love it when the opportunity presents itself.

I understand that it really is an art form.

I have found over the years that to really listen is to also hear what is not being said as well.

To hear the unspoken words.....

To discover them. To uncover them. To bring them to the surface. To open that up for discussion.

That is a gift.

And if you can find yourself a confidante who can hear the unspoken words... hang on to her.

If she can tell even over the phone, by the inflections in your voice that something is wrong.

Really wrong.

Even though you are telling her everything is fine.

Hang on to her.

Women pass the word "fine" around like an after dinner mint.

We are fine.  I'm fine. The kids are fine. Everything is fine. I feel fine.

Many times, over the years,  I have responded on the other end of the line...."No you are not."

"Talk to me."

Then the tears come....

And from years of trying to work on my listening skills, I can say that there is a lot  
that is stuffed underneath the four letter word I will call fine.

For starters it can mean this....

You don't really care. So I'm not going to tell you what is really going on.

You don't have the time.

If I tell you what is really going on, you will judge me. criticize me, gossip about me or drop me like a hot potato.

So instead of being real. Having a real friendship. Walking in true friendship. 

I'm just going to offer up a small piece of myself, just the surface, if you're lucky.

And the two of us can just wade around in the baby pool together because I am not about to go into the
deep end, called my reality, with anybody.

I might drown in discovering that my real friends aren't really my real friends after all.

And I can't handle that truth. So I'm just going to hang out right here in the shallow end.

I don't think that is what God meant when He said it is not good for man to be alone....

Because when we only go surface deep with others- when we do not allow the depth of our hearts to be known- even though we may have a lot of friends, we are really still alone.

And lonely is not a place that God has called any of us to reside.

There are married people who are lonely. The most "popular" girls in our towns are lonely. Pastors and ministers and wives of clergy, who pour their hearts out for the gospel on a daily basis, feel completely alone.


Because the deep end is scary.

And sharing the authentic pieces of our life with someone takes courage.

For some of us, the thoughts of possible abandonment from "friends" and church members and parents at school is just too much to think about. It's easier to play it safe and just continue wading around in the shallow end of life.

But the truth will set us free......

I would rather have one real friend, who really knows me, than a thousand "friends" who only go surface deep with me.

I would rather have one church service, with one real pastor, sharing his real testimony, than to listen to something else any day.

I would rather have one friend tell me what is really going on in her life- the good, the bad and the beautiful - than five friends who only want to talk about surface things.

It is a dance of truth and honor and trust to begin to allow someone to hear the unspoken things in our hearts. And to offer that same gift to someone else as well.

It is, for some of us, starting over again with fear and trembling in friendship, in leadership, in marriage and in ministry.

It isn't easy.

It is scary jumping into the deep end.

But we can't really swim in the shallow end. 

We can't jump off the high dive or do a back flip in the shallow end.

But God hasn't called us to live this full life, this abundant life, simply standing in shallow water, or keeping everything surface level.

He's called us out into the deep.

There is so much more to you than you have allowed anyone to know. We are not meant to do life alone. We are not meant to walk around responding to everything with the word "fine." We are not meant to walk through pain and suffering and hardship completely solo. We need others to hold up our arms during our trials. We need others to speak faith and hope and love into our situations. Our real situations. We need encouragement and support and a trustworthy friend like we need air to breathe.

Allow the unspoken words to come forth sweet friends.  

Allow the deep chapters written in you to begin to come forth.

And then listen for the unspoken words in someone else....

This is how we can demonstrate the gospel.

This is how we can demonstrate who He really is and why He really came. 

And every single time we hold back, every single time we live life like we are less than, every single time we tell friends that everything is fine, when it really isn't. Every single time we refuse to share the deep places or refuse to really listen to the unspoken words in the heart of another - we hold back the gospel. 

And we need the gospel.

In action and in deed. In the shallow end and in the deep. In the spoken and in the unspoken.
In the painful places and in the beautiful ones. In the days of living and in the days of dying. 
In the days of the just things and the unjust. In the days of pouring rain and wretchedness. And in the days of birthing and living and writing and singing.

My hope is that this would be a year of listening and hearing and sharing the unspoken words in one another sweet friends. I pray that the word "fine" would leave our vocabulary and that as we have the courage to offer up the deep places, the scary places and the real places in our hearts, that God would meet us there with the gift of a genuine friend......

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

He's Fighting For You Today

I think it is human nature to want to defend ourselves. To want to protect.

To desire to right every wrong.

To call the friend to the carpet who actually hasn't been a friend at all.

To try to make things, situations and circumstances just.

But the Lord has a better way. He says in His word that He will fight our battles for us.

I can't count the times I have gone ahead of Him and tried to make it right on my own.

It is so much better if we just let Him fight our battles for us.

I wanted to share a little video with you all today in hopes that it will speak to your heart about this very thing. Just imagine the Lord fighting for you today- Julia Sugarbaker Style.

"The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." Exodus 14:14

Friday, January 20, 2012

Things That Make A Grown Woman Twirl

Good Morning! I wanted to pop in and share the logo design and blog button with you all!

Beth Hart Designs caught the vision and I love her for it! She is really wonderful to work with!

I feel like I need to wear a pair of pretty, white gloves while I am typing here at the keyboard:)

It's a little bit Garden and Gun and a little bit Town and Country.  I hope you like it too!

Thank you to all of you who have already purchased your tickets! We are 50 percent sold for the event!

As of today, 100 of you are going to be joining us!!  I'm twirling.....

I am also thanking Him for entrusting me with something so beautiful and so special.

This is truly His event and His vision and His purpose. Grateful me.

To have these amazing speakers partner with me in ministry and then to have all of you to come alongside this event and support it has blessed me in ways I am not sure I can express.

Things that make a grown woman twirl....

Thank you sweet friends.

Thank you for your love and support and prayers. For your emails and comments. For your posts and links and words that have been like honey to my soul.  I treasure you...

Here is a pretty, little blog button. You can just hyperlink it here if you want. 

Here is the link for the Facebook page if you want to join in and connect with others who will be attending as well!!/events/154366354668098/

Here is the link to the ticket page and to register for the event if you want to join us!


Here is a little glimpse of the Magnolia Ballroom where a whole bunch of real life Steel Magnolia's will be gathering together in just 49 more days!

Twirling and praying in my pearls......

Thursday, January 19, 2012

County and State

 If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times throughout my life.

You know those little phrases that Mama's will often use to get their point across?

Well my Mama had a thousand of them.  She had a saying for everything.


"Nothing's fair honey."

"Fairs come twice a year."

"County and State."

It was one of those things that just sticks with you in life.

I've spent most of my life trying to prove her wrong.

Trying to make my county and my state happen over here, at the very least, on a daily basis.

And there were days that those words rang true. And I would think to myself, maybe she was right.

Fairs only do come twice a year.

I often wondered at times what she really meant by that.

My Mama said what she thought. And then some.

Kind of like a bold New Yorker trapped in a southern woman's body.

You knew where you stood but you'd better brace yourself.  She called a spade, a spade.

I'd rather hear that than the alternative any day. I'd rather hear the truth- plain and simple.

My grandmother was the exact same way.

And I just so happened to inherit that same lovely trait....

Although, after a lot of mistakes and some growing years and after throwing myself at the feet of Jesus a thousand times I've received the help I needed. I'm still a work in progress but now, I try to tell it like it is only when I'm asked to.

I know she had her share of things in life that were tragic. Really unfair things.

I wonder at times if that was what she was referring to...

As if to say, look honey, it hasn't worked out for our family yet.

It didn't work out for my Mama.

It didn't work out for me.

And it's not going to work out for you either.

So don't even think about getting your hopes up.

Maybe hoping to spare me any future disappointment...

Or maybe it was to soften the devastation, as if minimizing whatever crisis had hit, would help it all to  somehow make sense.

As if to say...look, "fair" isn't something that happens in this house.

Or in this family.

Or in this lifetime.

Fairs are for the county and the state and that's the only kind of fair you are ever going to get.

I don't fault her or blame her.

I'm sure that she was trying to make sense of a lot of things in her own life.

I wasn't exactly the daughter Mothers dream of.

But sometimes parents can stunt a child's growth if they high jack their hope.

If we don't encourage and teach and offer anything any different than the way things have always been-  then sometimes children can grow up and completely miss their calling, simply because it doesn't fit into whatever box or role or plan the family has always walked in.

History can sometimes repeat itself.  But it doesn't have to.

We don't have to live the same life that generations before us have lived. We don't have to become bitter and cynical and mad at the world, always waiting for the next shoe to drop.

We do not have to live in a constant state of fear or excessive mourning.

Or spend our whole life "wishing for what never was."

We do not have to walk around believing that "fairs" only come twice a year. 
(Or it's never going to happen for me, it's never going to be my turn.)

The enemy would love for every one of us to believe that lie.

After many years of living like that I decided a long time ago that I was going to go ahead and experience "fair" on a daily basis.

I'm going to ride the Ferris Wheel in life.

Whether people are really for me or not.

Whether people say what they really mean or not.

Whether the odds are stacked against me or not. I'm going to try. I have to.

I'm going to stand in line at the concession stand in life and see what the Lord has behind the counter for me. Instead of choosing to accept whatever others feel I should and should not receive in life because it doesn't seem to fit into their realm of possibility for me.

There may not always be things that I would like on the menu.

There may not always be cotton candy filled days.

But I know that He has a plan and a purpose.

Even in the midst of so many things I don't understand.

Even in the midst of some really unfair things and some tremendous heartache in life.

I know He has a ticket for me.

An entrance into a divinely appointed fairground filled with life lessons, character development opportunities and chances to cling to Him. Along with many enjoyable surprises as well.

I don't have to look longingly at everyone else's tickets. 

I can wait my turn and know that I know that I know that my turn- my county and my state...

They are coming.

And it is going to be more than just twice a year.

And it will be for you as well....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Squeal Fest 2012

I'm not sure how many of you have ever witnessed or even participated in a "Squeal Fest" but I will tell you, just in case you haven't....

It is ALL manner of fun.

It also may involve meeting someone in real life you have loved and prayed for and wanted to meet for a very long time. When you finally have the chance, you may actually find yourself running across the parking lot of The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia squealing like a teenager who is about to meet her best girlfriend in front of the skating rink. Honestly. We may have made a scene.

I had a little business trip to Atlanta recently and decided that it was high time that I meet my sweet blog buddy in real life.

Please meet my beautiful friend Paige from Simple Thoughts!

Paige is also one of the speakers for the upcoming Pearl Event and you all are going to fall head over heels in love with her!

The blog world meets real life is such a special thing.
For years you read someone's heart and get "to know them" so to speak.
Then to have the chance to meet that friend in real put a voice with the words and the humor and the personality you have come to know and love in the blog world....

It is really wonderful!

Especially when that person exceeds your expectations.....

I somehow just knew she would....

She is a lot like Edie, in that, she is even better in real life!!!

Let me break it down for you in a few words and some really special pictures.

Paige is every shade of awesome

She looks just like a movie star and has the boots to prove it,  but is so genuine and authentic and gracious and kind, she puts you right at ease.

She is really, really beautiful. Matched equally in heart, spirit and personality. I loved her....

She also just so happens to be a hugger! Thank goodness! That makes five huggers speaking at The Pearl Event! Check. Check.

I may have to get them matching t-shirts for the big weekend....

I also finally had the chance to meet Dan! I heart Dan:)

I think much of blog world has a crush on him! He is an absolute sweetheart ! If you haven't already, you will enjoy reading the stories about how he has loved those four girls as well as Paige over the years... get the Kleenex.

Beautiful recompense.

I met "Little Bit" as well! Oh my heavens. I loved her! We talked about all things ballet, girlfriends and Justin Bieber. Apparently a close friend of hers has his phone number.....:)

                                                 Little Bit's twinkle toes....sweetness.

                                              My girl and her dream gumball machine.


I hope you will join us for the big weekend on March 10. We are so looking forward to meeting you and spending the day together. Edie and her sweetheart will be there, as well as Paige and Dan. Two of my wonderful real life friends Sara and Jane will also be there sharing their stories and encouraging us that day as well! Just 52 more days or about 7 short weeks!

We are also planning on a blogger/reader meet -up on Friday night, March 9 at the Opryland Hotel for those of you who are interested.  So I will share the details about that once we get it worked out on our end!

Thank you so much to all of you for your love, prayers and support about the event.

Grateful me.

Counting down the days sweet friends.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Magnum Opus

If someone were to ask me today what is your greatest life's work?

I would answer with a heart full of humility and love and gratitude and thanksgiving.

And I would show you a picture of the most beautiful gift of grace on earth.

It is my first born gift. My darling Macey Girl.

The one whom I've loved and raised and adored and been blessed by for twenty two years.

Twenty two years ago on this very day.

The one whom the Lord entrusted me with at the tender age of eighteen years old.

We all know that at eighteen years old, there is still much knowledge to gain.

But He entrusted me anyway.....grace made manifest.

When I think back about how scared to death I was, but at how the Lord, whom I did not know,
filled me with a courage that was not from this world, to push through the truckloads of adversity, it is absolutely overwhelming to me.....
How we walked through and managed and struggled and still somehow by His grace, pushed through...

The pointing of the finger by many.

The rejection.

The judgment.

The heartbreak.

The loneliness.

The abandonment of every, single, high school friend, save one.

It's easy to create when everyone loves you.

To create a masterpiece when everyone is for you.

To create something beautiful when everyone is cheering you on.

 It is about nearly impossible to create anything when everyone is against you.

To grow a beautiful child in heartbreaking conditions...."impossible" they told me.

"Those two will never make it", they said behind my back. 

She is just "white trash", they said.

Having a child out of wedlock is a sin, you know.

You will end up just being "a statistic". The two of you "don't have a chance", they said.

The judgment alone we walked through day after day after day, in the middle of the bible belt, with a church on every corner, mind you, was enough to send one into an early grave.

And there were days that I didn't want to stand any more. I couldn't stand any more.

And then here she would come, with great, big, chocolate, brown eyes and the sweetest disposition on earth, and I would melt into a puddle and think to myself , and sometimes I was really brave and would even say it out loud....."Lord, if you really do exist, please Lord, please help us get through this.

"This" was just another Wednesday, when the car didn't start and the lights were cut off, again.

And if I was late to work one more time, I was going to lose my job. And if I didn't pay the day care all the money I owed them, they were not going to allow my baby girl to remain enrolled there.

And the man, whom I thought was going to be my future husband one day, at the time, decided to raise his hand again, sending me right into the emergency room where they proceeded to staple the crown of my head back together.

The very crown of my head, split right in two.

The pieces turned into pieces that become more pieces.

When your heart is in pieces and your life is in pieces and your trust has been broken....into pieces.

It is a divine platform for the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One who is the greatest creator ever known, the ultimate Magnum Opus.....God Almighty, to step right in and take
every, single piece of our life and orchestrate it all together in such a way.....

That twenty two years later, on the very day it all began...

You could stand boldly, with confidence in Him, with a knowing that this, the very thing and circumstance and situation every one said would never be.

This is your Magnum Opus. Your greatest life's work. Your masterpiece.

The very thing you thought was going to be the end of you, because you didn't know or understand
the magnitude of it all.

Macey Mclain.

You are my Magnum Opus. My greatest life's work, by His grace alone.

You are the gift that came to me twenty two years ago, today, at 2:52 p.m. and the only child I've ever given birth to who smiled at me the second they placed you in my arms.

You are the reason I am standing here today. The gift that came to hold me together, when I should have been holding you together.

Each day that goes by I am humbled that you choose me.
That still, after all these years and after many mistakes, you choose a relationship with your very, young mom who is still having babies and raising babies and caring for babies. While all the other Moms are able to show up at college with car loads of surprises and dinners and tickets and such.
And your Mom is wrangling five children somewhere along the Pampers aisle at Target.

What you may not know or understand or be able to comprehend, is that once God formed you, and perfectly created you, and entrusted you into my arms....

It ruined me forever.

I knew from that very moment, that Motherhood, would be my calling.

That Motherhood would be my gift.

That Motherhood, and newborn babies and toddlers and sweet, bouncing little ones, would be the thing that would cause me to go weak in the knees and I would never be able to return to an upright position again.

You were the one whom God chose to use to teach me so many things.....

You were the one who would become the gift of grace made manifest in my own life.

Thank you baby girl.

I am so incredibly proud of you.

For all that you are. For all that you have become.

For all of the incredible, wonderful, amazing gifts and talents you walk in every day.

For that Pastor's heart you were blessed with from day one.

For the radiant beauty that shines from within you.

I love you and adore you more than you will every know.

Happy Birthday baby girl...... the very best is yet to come.

You are living proof of that.

On my knees with thanksgiving today and every day,

Mama Dukes
Romans 8:18

"Are you awake, Charlotte?" he said softly.  "Yes," came the answer.

"What is that nifty little thing?

"Did you make it?" "I did indeed," replied Charlotte in a weak voice.

"Is it a plaything?" "Plaything?" I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus.

"I don't know what a magnum opus is," said Wilbur.

That's Latin," explained Charlotte. "It means 'great work.'

This egg sac is my great work- the finest thing I have ever made.

~Charlotte's Web