God is in the dirt

I’m sorry again I didn’t get to any comments yesterday… although I did read them…twice! Does that make it better? Thank you everyone for your kind words about my “arrangements” in my living room, and also for the prayers for my hubby. The doctor found some spots inside his bladder and said it was inconclusive so he wants to do a biopsy in about 2 weeks. We do thank you for your prayers and are still holding out for that miracle.

We were there for quite a few hours and it cut into the time I was going to finish things up for my company tomorrow. I had to work into the evening hours and now it’s 11:15 and I have nothing to share…dolly wise like I thought I might.

BUT… Stephanie, (my hubby’s niece, and Gloria “and” Larry’s daughter) wrote a story on September 26th, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. She is a profound writer and I hope you’ll take time to read this story. She’s a young mom with 2 small children and has an incredible servant heart to her family and her community.

God is in the Dirt by Stephanie Hough

Several months ago I was driving my son and nephews around town and had the delightful experience of overhearing their discussion on the omnipresence of God. In typical brotherly (and cousinly?) fashion their attempts to fathom this mind-boggling concept turned humorous and competitive. A one-upmanship ensued. If God is everywhere, then He must be in the seat next to Asher! If God is everywhere, then He is in front of the car! No, He’s under the car! Amid much giggling each child tried to outdo the others in identifying an ever more unlikely and impossible place for God’s Spirit to dwell. I smiled at their marveling, at their creativity and delight. And then suddenly Asher’s preschool voice piped up in a tone that declared he had, beyond all doubt, the best, most outrageous answer to where God’s presence could be found.
“God is in the dirt!” he shouted, and the boys collapsed in joyous laughter.
****
My dad died exactly 100 days ago. He was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease at the beginning of this year and given 2-3 years, then 6-18 months to live. He survived four. During those last couple of months I found myself remembering Asher’s words: God is in the dirt. My life circumstances felt a lot like dirt just then. I remembered Asher’s words, remembered Who was present with me in the fear, in the sadness, in some of the most excruciatingly painful moments of my life, and I was comforted.
“God is in the dirt,” I repeated to myself, again and again.
****
You cannot experience the death of a loved one or plan a memorial service or funeral without at some point encountering the phrase, “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” Grief often includes a protective mental numbing and so many words and speeches and platitudes slide right off the surface of the mind without making any real impression. But some stick too. Some sink down into the dark waters of the subconscious and then resurface months later, perhaps when you are finally ready to hear them.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Or, as it is phrased in the book of Genesis, “for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
I’ve been remembering Asher’s words again. God is in the dirt. But it’s been bringing new thoughts and images to my mind lately. Such as the story of God forming Adam from the dirt of the ground and breathing into his empty form the breath of life, so that man could become a living being, created in the image of his Creator. Or the story of Jesus. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Emmanuel, God with us. With us in the dirt of this world. With us in the dirt of these bodies.
****
It seems to me that there is so much pressure right now to know who we are and to declare it quickly, passionately, publicly, definitively. I see how this pressure can be a force for good, preventing us from ignoring difficult issues or hiding from difficult self-evaluation, forcing us to reconsider long-held beliefs, pushing us toward integrity. But I also see how this rush to define ourselves causes harm too. Because sometimes it is easier to declare who you are not than to know who you actually are. Maybe we don’t know exactly what to believe anymore. Maybe we feel confused, uncertain, but terrified to admit that in the flood of everyone else’s convictions. Who we are can be a frightening chasm to peer into – it can be so much easier to declare who we are not: not a racist, not a snowflake, not a police-hater, not a white supremacist, not a protestor. In other words, I may not truly know who I am, but I’m confident of this: I’m not you.
It is comforting me again to remember that God is in the dirt. Not just the dirt of a difficult year but the very dirt of this body. It is His breath in my lungs every moment of every day, filing my empty form with life. But it is challenging me now too. I think about the way I define myself differently. I see all the lines that have been drawn in the sand, declaring our identity, dividing ourselves one from another, and I can’t stop staring at my mental image of that ground. Maybe those lines don’t mean as much as I thought they did. It is, in the end, still the same dirt on either side. You, me, my dad, my son, those I identify with, and those whom I can’t push far enough away, all of us, lovingly formed by the Creator from the dust of the ground, our lungs created, filled, sustained by His omnipresent Spirit. I can’t stop thinking about all this, and I can’t stop hearing Asher’s joy-filled voice declare with conviction and delight, “God is in the dirt!”
Thank you, Asher, for reminding me of what is true about myself and true about everyone else too.

It’s Your breath in my lungs, Lord, and I pour out Your praise.

Thanks everyone, after today, things might slow down for me…
See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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Comments

  1. Charlotte Trayer says:

    I will certainly hold you and George in my prayers, Jeanne!!

    Thank you so much for sharing Stephanie’s writing! You are right, she does have some profound thoughts, and connecting her son’s comment about God being “in the dirt” with all those other aspects….wow! Perhaps some day she’ll go on to write a devotional book for young moms, or something like that. She has a good start on it, I think!

    Take care of yourselves!!

    • Thank you Charlotte,
      Gloria told me when she was younger she wanted to write kids books, and at one time she had a blog, but it took up too much of her time.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. What a beautiful story, Jeanne, and it is something to make you think about things in a way you never have before. As gifted as Stephanie is with words, she is also gifted in realizing what is important and what is not. In these sad-filled days after the shootings in Las Vegas, we need to hear more things like this.

    You and George are assured of my prayers for a successful outcome with George’s test. It’s the waiting that is the worst, as I well know.

    Take your time to enjoy your visit today, Jeanne, and to show off those beautiful new floors!

    • Thank you Linda,
      I wish everyone could meet Stephanie…she is as sweet as they come…
      My ladies came and went but we had a really nice time of visiting! I mighthave to share my salad recipe…it was a huge hit!
      Thanks so much, Linda,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Amen !

  4. Am thinking of you and George and know that after the biopsy you will learn more. Take that positive spin and hope those spots disappear. I don’t think it is in your genes to slow down, but maybe take a break now and then to reconfigure.
    It’s going to be a beautiful crisp fall day today embellished with lots of possibilities.

    • HI Joy,
      My hubby was slowed down just a bit today… but I was in full speed ahead with my company coming! I went to bed late and got up early just to get everything done… somehow I made it.
      It was 84 here today… not too Fallish!
      I’ll rest tomorrow! :o)
      Thank you Joy,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Stephanie’s essay came at just the right time for me. I’m going to print it out and read it every day for a long time. Out of the mouths of babes and into Stephanie’s heart. Thanks so much for connecting these thoughts and sharing them with us. I wish the essay could appear where it could be shared with a wider readership, the editorial page of a major newspaper or magazine. Wishing you that miracle, Jeanne and George.

    • HI Susette,
      I’m so glad you and others enjoyed what Stephanie wrote… I’ll keep an eye on her and see what else she might write that you all might like. She is truly a little gem and no bigger than a minute. I think that’s what makes her even cuter than she is!
      It would be nice if everyone could read her words! They were fitly spoken at a time when we could all relate to them.
      Thanks so much Susette,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Laureen Bakri says:

    Profound, heart stirring and stops you in your tracks. Out of the mouths of these precious children, not just any children, but children who are being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to have this conversation and the wonder of it all that a Mom could be present to hear it and later write so eloquently what she heard. I know that I too will share this beautiful testimony with others and I too will be reading it often to remind myself that I am but dust in the Master’s hands. Thank you dear Jeanne for sharing it. Praying for you and your husband.

    • Thank you Laureen,
      I was thinking last night in bed, about the words Stephanie wrote and found myself thinking about why we sometimes compartmentalize God as being only in church or in nature, or in someones heart when they sing a beautiful song… It made me realize He truly is everywhere…underfoot, in my house, when I’m in bed, when I am crying, when I feel happy, in my sewing, in my cooking, in the words I speak to others… etc.
      Asher’s realization that God was in the dirt reaffirmed to me that He truly is wherever we are and there whenever we need Him. Thank you Asher for reminding me too.
      blessings, Jeanne

  7. I’m sending prayers your way for a good outcome on George’s biopsy results. Thank you for sharing the story. It’s so encouraging and so true! Kudos to Stephanie for teaching her children about the omnipresence’s of God.

    • HI Carolyn,
      Thank you for your prayers… we are expecting a good report!
      Stephanie is a reader and so are her kids… forget games or videos, you’ll find her kids with books in their hands… She’s a wonderful mom…a really wonderful mom! :o)
      Thanks Carolyn,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. Donna Randall says:

    Thank you for sharing “God isin the Dirt”. I have often struggled with losing my mom 20 years ago, my mother-in-law 8 months ago, and worrying about my aging dad and step mum. Your niece and great nephew eased my heart and soul because I now know that God is in the dirt and dirt ebbs and flows around us in the dust motes floating in the sunbeams, the dust bunnies that live under the bed, on the majestic mountains, and In the valleys and plains around the world.

    My prayers are with your family, young and old. May the love of Heavenly Father surround you and bless you.

    Donna

    • HI Donna,
      I somehow think we won’t be able to look at dirty hands or dust bunnies under our bed the same anymore, will we? I’m so glad Stephanie’s words comforted you today. :o)
      Thank you very much, Donna,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. You certainly got it right for a lot of us today. Thanks so much for this lovely essay. We’ll hold out with you for George’s miracle.

    • Thank you Marilyn,
      I’m glad I used Stephanie’s essay today. It seems like it was something everyone enjoyed…
      Yes, now onto that miracle! :o)
      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. Dear Jeanne, I’ve read your post a couple times since this morning. Children have a way of reducing things down to the pure, simple truth. Thank you so much for sharing “God is in the Dirt” but I also want to thank you for your heart felt thoughts – you have given me much to think about.
    I know you have a lot on your plate right now and I guess you have to reduce things down to what is important. Take care of yourself, we are all here praying for you and George. I pray that God will touch your dear husband with his healing hand.
    Leigh

    • Thank you Leigh,
      I’m so glad I shared Stephanie’s essay today. I almost didn’t because I wasn’t sure it would be received this well, but I think everyone took a moment to look at things a little bit differently today…that blessed my heart. I texted Gloria and told her I used it today and I’m sure she’ll share it with Stephanie. I hope everyone’s words really blessed her.
      Thanks so much for your prayers for my hubby. He is the dearest thing to me on this earth!
      Blessings, Jeanne

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