What Happens in Our Fields of Gold

13899866064_f32103f2bd_oUnless you’re driving to Wilmington or Charleston, there is no Interstate that takes you directly to the coast of North or South Carolina. Instead, you have to choose a back roads route. This drive to the beach is always one I enjoy because the smaller towns offer vignettes of life you can watch as you drive by. Be careful not to speed, though. The cops love to catch beach traffic speeding through the 35 mph zones.

This house in the photo above sits on SC-38  right after crossing over I-95. Those yellow fields are straight out of Oz, as if the poppies and the yellow brick road had a baby. I had to take a picture because of course.

While we were at the coast during our short spring break, I thought a lot about the place in life where we are now. The end of April marks 10 months since John left his job at the church. Part of the fog I’ve talked about lately is I’m sure because of this time of transition we’re living in. It’s what we wanted and in many ways what we hoped it would be, but in my eagerness to leave the parts of the job that were taxing on my husband, I forgot to grieve leaving the parts that were good.

One of my own personal struggles is a temptation to always look ahead to the next thing, idealizing the other-ness of what is not rather than embracing the essence of what is. That’s not always bad, but it is a delicate kind of learned art to be able to look ahead while also celebrating now, to imagine what could be without discounting what is.

As I’ve been reading in the gospels lately, I’m reminded of how personal, present, and local Jesus was when he was here on earth. He didn’t teach about roads he hadn’t traveled on or cultures he didn’t live among (even though as all-knowing God of course he could have). Instead, he chose to sit with neighbors in neighborhoods, to walk with them in celebration and in grief, to eat meals and use the stuff of meals – bread, salt, wine, fish – in his conversations. He spoke of the future because that’s why he came, but he didn’t do so at the expense of the present.

Curious once we got back home, I looked up the yellow-brick-road poppy field house on google maps. Here is a screenshot of what I found:

house on hwy 38

Maybe the woman who lives in that house looks forward to those yellow flowers blooming every year. Maybe that field is the first thing she looks at when she walks outside no matter what time of year it is, remembering the beauty that was before and the promise of beauty to come again. Maybe “beauty” is a terrible word for what I’m trying to say here. Maybe she doesn’t divide it up like that at all – the beautiful and the not beautiful. Maybe I don’t get to say what’s beautiful since I don’t actually live there.

As a traveler with a curbside view, I notice her house because of all the pretty color, snap a photo and that’s all I see. But it doesn’t always look that way and the people who live there know that. They embrace the yellow when it comes but they don’t leave with it. They continue to live there, among the brown fields with their golden memory, beneath the sky when it’s blue and when it’s gray, within the little white house on the vast green lawn at the end of the gravel driveway.

Home isn’t either beautiful or not, happy or sad, full or empty. Home is both and home is and, whether home is church or family or a cul-de-sac. Home has good parts, hard parts, marvelous and miracle parts. Home is where we celebrate and where we grieve, where we are broken and healed, hurt and made whole again.

 And if this is your house? Please tell us about the fields of gold in spring and how it feels in winter, about the distant tree-line and living on highway 38 and if you always have that Sting song in your head. Or this Eva Cassidy version (thank you Katie Reid!):

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For Your Weekend

morning - chatting at the skyOn this day set aside to remember the death of Christ, this day of waiting for his ressurection life, this day of awareness, may I confront my desperate need for him. May I breathe out my own hopelessness, my own weakness and snobbery. May I admit the cups I cannot fill, the hands I refuse to hold, the eyes I dare not gaze into. May I see my own reflection and remember why he had to die.

In this, may I allow myself to be rescued, to hear the promises he has made, to feel the strength with which he searches for me and see the delight on his face when he finds me. May I let myself be seen, found and loved so that I may see, find, and love in return.

In his mercy, by his grace, and because of his great love.


Hope Runs (a story and a giveaway)

Today I'm happy to host my friend Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire), author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Read on to hear her tell the lovely true story of her new book, Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption. I endorsed it with pleasure and highly recommend it. Here's Claire: This story does not end where it started. Because where it started was nowhere near the red dirt of Africa, or the tiny hands of little girls in … [Continue reading]

Sharing the Right-Now Stories

sharing the right-now stories emily p freeman

Yesterday I told you about that time I was terrified of sickness. It was a fear-filled time in my life that I am now able to look back on in an almost puzzled kind of way, wondering how I could have gotten so worked up for so long. It's easy to say that seven years later. What isn't so easy to consider are the places I'm walking through right now, the ones that maybe aren't so easy to talk about because I'm still in the middle of them. It's important to tell the stories we've lived and come … [Continue reading]

That Time I Was a Hypochondriac a Little Bit

hope at chatting at the sky

Several years ago when our kids were still in preschool, I went through what you might call a terrified-of-my-family-getting-sick stage. If someone mentioned during a playdate that their kid threw up the night before, I would gather my children that very moment and straight up leave their house. If one of my kids complained of a tummy ache, I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. It got so bad that even if I read on Facebook that someone was sick, it would trigger the fear and obsessive … [Continue reading]

for your weekend

emily freeman - chatting at the sky

May I not despise small beginnings even if they lead only to small endings. When I seek to grasp for bigger and wider, may I remember how much I treasure smallness, simplicity, and soul space. If I begin to work hard to carve out a sense of myself, may I turn - again and again - toward the presence of God. And may I ever remember that no one gets to tell me who I am except my Father. Any commentaries about my identity, either out there or in here,  may I let them gently go. Enjoy your weekend, … [Continue reading]

For the Soul Who Feels Pulled in All Directions

emily freeman chatting at the sky

During the last several months, Annie's now-famous statement we will make art has been working its way deeper into me as I've been trying new things and struggling through the learning of them. For the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking, writing, staring, planning, and waiting. I haven't heard much in the silence and it's frustrated me, if you want to know the truth. As I listen the fog only gets thicker rather than more clear. I don't like walking in the dark but sometimes … [Continue reading]

Sharing a Secret and an Invitation (!!)


"Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at a beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up." - Hope Floats This past fall when I first announced plans to host an event with my family, I heard from many of you from all over the country expressing interest in coming. We wanted to keep the gathering small and somewhat intimate to allow for conversation and connection so we limited the number of … [Continue reading]

for your weekend

for your weekend - chatting at the sky

This weekend, in the regular rhythms of home and play, of work and washing, of listening and slow conversation, may I see God even though I don't see God. May I not demand a spectacle, a miracle, or a sign. May I simply, quietly, be still and know. Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads for this Sunday afternoon: Season of Returning: Rain at Winter's End by Ruth Haley Barton The Daily Routines of Geniuses by Sarah Green for Harvard Business Review On Dancing, Fresh … [Continue reading]

This One’s for the Wanna-be Hopeful

I'm thankful for hope, the kind that doesn't expect always sunshine, but the kind that holds on no matter how things appear, the kind that reminds me how I feel about things isn't the ultimate truth. - emily p. freeman

This morning started out bright, sun coming up behind our house in confident pink and orange glory. And I, mood highly swayed by the weather, picked out a skirt from my closet to wear and hopped in the shower once the kids were off to school, ready to face the day with energy and focus. I got dressed in my skirt with a pair of green flats, even played with patterns a bit. But by the time I fixed my hair, the cul-de-sac was draped over with a gray cloudy blanket and I felt my soul sink a … [Continue reading]