Archives for posts with tag: Jesus

doll1I suspect even the most dedicated collector has favorites. That one quartz he found on vacation as a boy. The postage stamp that came on the first letter from her pen pal.

At least it’s true for me, a recovering doll collector. Of all the dolls in my collection, there are a few that are always top of mind.

There’s the one in the tattered yellow dress. Nancy is her name. She was the one Mom bought me when I was a baby. The one I most liked to play with.

Then, there’s the Madame Alexander doll my best friend’s mom gave me – Cinderella with a shiny blue dress. It had been hers growing up and she wanted me to have it because she knew I’d treasure it. She was right.

But the dolls I always have on display at my house are my matryoshkas. I love the artistry of each nesting doll, and I like the visual reminder that we all have layers of stories to tell just beneath the outer surface.


A few of my Russian nesting dolls show women in intricately painted aprons, and two display Russian cities with shining domes. But my favorite set of dolls shows a series of religious icons, starting with Mary and baby Jesus. Four other icons are inside and sometimes I open up the set and display them all.

The last time I opened them and rearranged them, I paused when I got to the one that showed Jesus as an adult. I admired the gilded halo and the soft eyes, but just as I started to set it down, I noticed the empty shell of the larger doll.

To make room for Jesus, the first shell had to be emptied. The wood had to be carved and shaped and then, ever so carefully, crafted to fit back together.

Is it really so different for us?

For faith to have a place within, something else has to be carved out. Greed and gossip must go because love and humility and sacredness need space to grow.


It’s not an easy process, this letting go of selfishness to make room for what makes our selves better. But it does no good to paint the outside without clearing out the inside because without the clearing, the story ends before its time.

Instead of five nesting dolls, the story stops at four. Or at three.

The beauty that the artist had hoped to share is stunted. The story is shallow and the masterpiece unfinished.

So, we can hold on and remain intact, or we can let go and be made whole.




Growing up with Erb’s Palsy, I often had to ask for help with the little things – the things that would be much easier with two good arms:

French-braiding my hair.

Sharpening my pencils in class.

Fastening necklaces.

By now you’d think I’d be used to it. After all, the nerve damage in my neck and right arm was caused at birth. I’ve never known what it was like to be able to raise my right arm or straighten my wrist.

I was 12 before I figured out a way to put on a pair of pantyhose without help from my mama, and my middle sister drove two hours to hang pictures and curtains in my first apartment. My daddy cut my steak into bite-sized pieces for me the first 29 years of my life, and now my husband discretely slides my plate over at restaurants to do the same.

Still, after all these years, I blush. I’m embarrassed that I need help at all.

I think that’s pretty common, the desire to feel like you have it all together, that you don’t need anything from anyone else – that you are the giver, not the receiver.

IMG_0598In fact we celebrate that idea throughout the end of each year. We gather food baskets for those deemed “needy” and we wrap Christmas gifts for those who are “less fortunate.” We buy presents for our kids, our mailman and our hair stylist because it is, after all, the season of giving.

But is that how it was meant to be? Did God intend for us to give gifts or did he mean for us to accept his gift, the present of love and joy that he wrapped in swaddling clothes and put in a manger?

I suspect he wants us to do both – to experience the feeling of helping others and to know what it is like to be the one who needs a lift. It’s humbling to know that I stumble on my own and must rely on God’s wisdom and grace and the kind shoulders of family and friends. I’d rather focus on being the giver, but that would be celebrating only half of Christmas.




BenjaminStarSometimes, when the lighting is just right, I can’t help but grab my camera. And when Benjamin plugged in the tree top star to test it, I knew I wanted to freeze the beautiful image on film.

Seconds later he pulled the light bulb and its cord away from the star and began swinging them from left to right.

Can you keep your body really still and swing the light in a full circle, I asked… all the while snapping pictures.


BenjaminLight2Miraculously the camera-shy boy obliged, and we all ooohed and aaaahed when we saw the results. By leaving the camera’s shutter open a bit longer and staying still, we captured the path of the light.

Staying open.

Staying still.

There’s something to that.

“… the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” — 1 John 2:8

Scriptures and thoughts inside the cover of the composition notebook.

I’ve been a fan of DaySpring greeting cards and wall art for years, but I had no idea they were offering school supplies with Christian messages at Walmart. I’m guessing my friend and I spent 20 minutes gathering pencil holders, binders, student planners and notebooks for an impromptu photo shoot right there in the aisle. Sure, it was a bit awkward when other people had to step around us, but we were determined to show these to you!

Enjoy the pictures, and if you need more information, visit

I’ve seen mosaics with gilded halos around the heads of saints and stained glass windows that stretched 20 feet or more, glowing with light. I’ve stood within a breath of Michelangelo’s la Pieta, and I still remember how no detail was rushed or skipped – every muscle, every vein captured there in marble.

And now, I’ve seen the ugly clay foot in my friend Linda Gordon’s car.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what it was when I first leaned over to buckle my seatbelt. I just saw it out of the corner of my eye, sitting there taped to the dashboard by the clock. It was an inch and a half, 2 inches at most. Pinkish, like my skin, and it had one slightly chipped toe courtesy of an unfortunate fall to the floorboard of the Kia.

I took in a quick breath before I blurted out, “What is that?”

“It’s a foot,” she said, as if it were the most common thing in the world.

She had gotten it at church in the days leading up to Easter. She had her choice among a rooster, some silver coins or a foot – all reminders of Jesus’ final days before his crucifixion.

The rooster was kind of big and unattractive, she said, with a shrug, so she went with the small, ugly foot.

“I painted its toenails after it fell,” she said, as she backed out of her driveway. “I think it looks a lot better now.”

It was hard to argue. She had done a terrific job painting the toenails a shade of cotton candy pink.

“It reminds me that we’re all on a journey,” she said, the foot bobbing just a tiny bit on top of its loop of tape. It was slightly unconventional, and certainly unexpected, but there it was: Her very own quirky religious symbol.

I still like ornate crosses and finely detailed nativity scenes, but I began to see the awkward clay foot in a slightly different light.

Take the next step in faith. Walk with God. Add beauty on the journey, it seemed to say.

“Do you think I could get my own foot for my dashboard?” I asked.

She promised to ask if there were any left over at church. “But you’ll want to paint the toenails,” she advised.

Of course.


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