a thousand red birds dancing

I started Halloween Day at 4:30 AM, waking irritated that my sweet baby needed to eat. How sad I am now that I felt that way. At 5:00 AM, Seth sneaks into bed, says, “please tell me we have backup coffee.” I say, “please tell me you didn’t use the last of the coffee without telling me.”

So by 5:15, I was at Walmart. Some days, it all gets on our nerves, but put a little Walmart on it, and you’ve got a full-blown toucheous situation. Some days, I wake up begging to be rewired, like I’d been plugged into the wrong outlet.

My Halloween post was up at another website, and that didn’t go over well. I felt misunderstood. Being Misunderstood and Being Forgotten are the names of two fear monsters that want me in their shadows. I have to plead myself out from under them.

A bag of candy later, I woke to a new day, and I erased the link on my blog to that post for the sake of those who don’t share my faith or sensitivities. New Days are for not mentioning it again and not looking back.

My Mama called me. We really don’t talk that much, and we really never did, though we’ve always been close. I’m the oldest, so we just have a sort of understanding about my independence and how her value lies outside of me. She knows me without all the details, but some days don’t you just need your Mama to call? And some days, no matter how secure she is, doesn’t a Mama feel so proud that she has to call and say it?

I was driving while we talked about the veil between the visible and invisible, how in dreams the ones we’re embittered toward most can be transformed into beautiful children. We talked in that private space, stringing up pearls between us.

My son sat in the back, the one recently baptized. Some moments I ask God, “Was that real?” but earlier in the day, we had cried together about special needs children, how God uses the smallest and weakest, the least, as portals of shekina light. Sometimes the world has to look away, the light is so intensely revealing. Isaac and I didn’t look away. We looked, and we saw God, and it hurt, and it healed.

I waited in line to pick the two middles up from preschool. I was on the phone and Isaac was mumbling in the backseat, all the minivans lined up in the curve of a ginormous American church building.

The sky was blaring blue, demonstrative and still, and suddenly I see Isaac lurch forward to see better. Where the crayola leaves had freshly gathered in the nook of that building, a soft breath lifted them at once, and in the air, the leaves turned into a thousand red birds dancing large or a school of fish in their hovering, darting art.

Everything became an orchestra at once.

My mother, my son, the hair in beautiful faces, what we can’t control, it was art. It was presence. We didn’t say anything but “Look!”

Along the journey, burning bushes dot the way.

photo credit
About me


What do you taste?
November 08, 2016
Standing Among the Flowers at Midnight
July 13, 2015
You Have Not Come to Darkness
April 30, 2014
A Haines Home Companion: On Limbo
February 27, 2014
Poor and Powerless: My First Time to Speak
April 17, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Wrestling in Spring
April 01, 2013
7 Thoughts on that Dark Good Day
March 29, 2013
Nameless Woman: An Abstraction on the Spirit
March 27, 2013
When I Don’t Feel God
March 11, 2013


Reply November 2, 2011

This is just truth, " put a little Walmart on it, and you’ve got a full-blown toucheous situation."
I love the way the Lord reveals his beauty, changing our focus in a blink. Thanks for the beautiful reminder that he will restore and seek us out even when yesterday started before dawn, without coffee, and with unfair judgement. Don't stop sharing, so many more of us are fed by your words than those who don't understand.

Reply November 2, 2011

i found myself and my mother smack dab in the middle of this:
"I’m the oldest, so we just have a sort of understanding about my independence and how her value lies outside of me."
i never thought to say it that way, to myself or to her. thanks for that nugget.

    Reply November 2, 2011

    Speaking of nuggets: I still have that little smiley face pin on the bag I carry around always.

Jessica Y
Reply November 2, 2011

What a wonderful roller coaster this side of eternity is...

Reply November 2, 2011

My biggest fear monster is being misunderstood too. I feel you like I feel it in myself. And to all the rest of this post? Beautiful. Real. Life.


    Reply November 2, 2011

    Thank you, Erika. I like you a bunch.

Reply November 2, 2011

okay so I had to re-read my comment on that post and hope and pray I didn't sound judge-y or mean. Boo. BOO! Not in a scary ghost way, but in a disgruntled fan sort of way. I think you're wonderful even if you're not in costume, I guess I should just say that.

And "Put some Walmart on it" made me think of "put a bird on it"...you know? Perhaps you're onto something:

Finally, there might be marital woes if my husband dared to drink the last of the coffee. I shudder to think...

    Reply November 2, 2011

    I LOVE put a bird on it! And Babe! You didn't sound any way like that. My problem is more that I really really wish I had been more clear with the point of my story. I only took my link down from my blog because I don't want readers who aren't christian to see that and the conversation with it as a representative of my relationship with God. I just never ever want anyone to feel like I think I'm better because I stayed home for Halloween. I don't feel better. Rather I feel pretty weak.

    And about the marital woes. Oh yeah, there were woes. I practically had a toddler hissy fit.

    Alas. Today is a better day.

Reply November 2, 2011

I love your honest, true heart Amber - always. As a Mama of a daughter just your age your words about your Mama shone with truth. Thank you for sharing your heart and your beautiful words.

Reply November 2, 2011

Keep posting, even when you feel misunderstood. I am glad you are brave, inspiring, you.

    Reply November 2, 2011

    Thank you, Amber. Oh well, most often I'm misunderstood because I'm not being clear. Ha!

      Darcy Wiley
      Reply November 18, 2011

      This post stayed with me even after I went away from it. What you said about the soft breath of wind, the red leaves like a flock of birds and the hair going wild is one of those gasp with wonder moments that we'll get lots more of when all is made right in the end. Can't wait until we know fully as we're fully known, with no room for being misunderstood. I thought your Halloween post was just fine. A lot of us are trying to figure out how to traverse those kinds of things as a peculiar people sometimes out of place in our culture. I appreciated hearing your take on it. P.S. I replied here because I know amber@mercyrising. :)

Reply November 2, 2011

You have such a way with words. Thank you for writing.

Reply November 2, 2011

It hurts me too, the being misunderstood. Being the one who speaks out truth and has to stand alone there, particularly with family. Thanks for sharing this. I love the eyes you and Seth have for special needs children and how you call out life in yours. I spent years in my other life as a speech therapist loving on them and learning from them. They are courageous and brilliant. :) And, FYI, I loved the other article and I whole-heartedly agreed with you. I thought you presented it well. And, the darkness around Halloween has become darker and darker. We are called to be light. And, I get the how conflict in it, too. Love how God loved on you this day.

    Reply November 2, 2011

    Thank you for encouraging me, Debra.

Reply November 2, 2011

Hey girl...

Just poppin' in to say I love you. :)

And I groaned with recognition at the early morning Walmart run...
So glad for thousands of red birds floating upwards that make us look up too. :)

Reply November 2, 2011

I keep coming back to comment but what to say? Just that I love this. And thank you. And thank you.

    Reply November 3, 2011

    and thank you.:) I really wish I could see you sometime.

Reply November 2, 2011

Sister, I love your artistry; your writing is like paint to a canvas.

I, too, thought your post about Halloween was wonderful. So many of us feel conflicted, and most of us go with the flow. Your post actually encouraged me to stand firm in my conviction that we shouldn't celebrate it because it's gotten so dark and celebrates death and gore which is in conflict with us being representatives of life.

It's hard to be vulnerable and open online, because we are opening ourselves up to everyone and anyone's opinion. It's hard to feel like we might sound like something we didn't intend, and that someone would be offended by it.

And the toddler hissy fit? I've been throwing a good one for a few weeks now.... over a kitchen. When will I ever grow up?

    Reply November 3, 2011

    Oh, I've had kitchen fits, too. Alas.

    Thanks for encouraging me, Aimee.

Reply November 2, 2011

I love this Amber. And you don't need to feel obliged to read my latest blog, but it is about my burning bush moment this weekend and it sings the same song you are singing here. The beauty of the now. We just need to look.
Love to you and your precious sons!

    Reply November 3, 2011

    I think writing about it helps me so much to see the beauty of the NOW, like Ann does with her gratitudes.

Kiki Malone
Reply November 2, 2011

We shut down Three Hands this week, mainly because it was Forgotten. And I can't handle Forgotten. And I can't dive so hard into deposits with no returns. Call me silly, but that site wasn't creating any conversational revenue - so I asked to axe it. Best damn decision I've made all year.

And this is the best damn sentence I've read in a spit's age: "We talked in that private space, stringing up pearls between us." I want to jump on that sentence and ride it town for a scoop of triple chocolate chunk!

    Reply November 3, 2011

    Well your last sentence made me laugh!!! I love that one.

    I'm glad you're free from Three Hands. I do so get it.

    But still from time to time, I get all grievous when I think of how you just up and erased your personal blog. Whyyyyyyy?! No really I get it, but shoot.

Reply November 2, 2011

Amber - linked to you through A Holy Experience. I to am a momma to many (5), have a guitar playing husband (and 16 yo son & 10 yo daughter), and a lover of funky things. I started following you on pintrest. Love the beauty of your post. Portals of shekina light. I will never look at special needs the same again, even if it hurts. So thankful that God is a healer of all hurts, even the ones you can't see.

    Reply November 3, 2011

    Me too, Dianne. Thank you for this.

diana trautwein
Reply November 3, 2011

Oh, Amber. Such loveliness. Thank you. Sorry if I misunderstood you - I think you are a remarkable person, wife, mother, daughter and writer. Thanks for this one.

Megan at SortaCrunchy
Reply November 3, 2011

Thank you for speaking that word - shekina - into my life this morning. It's a word (more than a word, of course) that I forget I know and then I read it or hear it or (praise be to God) experience it, and it IS light.

It's the hardest thing, I think, about conversation and discussion online. It's so abbreviated and you tell a bit of a story that is true and real but there's no way you could possibly fill the whole thing out and so people pick up threads of it and run off in a thousand directions and then the whole thing just unravels and you are left empty-handed where once a little Thing was. It's hard. I so understand that.

But we do it anyway because He Himself is our peace.

Also, I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO totally would have gone to wal-mart in the pre-dawn hours for more coffee, too. And I would have grumbled as it brewed and forgiven him before I saw the bottom of the first cup. XOXO

Reply November 3, 2011

Amber, I love your vulnerability and your way with words. I hope my response to your Halloween post didn't make you feel misunderstood. Having been beaten up recently by "Christians" over other issues, it just seemed so refreshing to have someone voice their doubts and questions so eloquently. Please forgive me if I was one of the culprits.

Walmart and Mamas - oh, so true, so true. And I will never again look at a beautiful fall tree without seeing birds dancing! I love your writing!

    Reply November 3, 2011

    Oh - and can I also say that I think you are brave? I started a blog in the spring as a way to process everything that was happening to me - but the only people allowed to read it are my husband, two best friends, and sister. Too afraid of judgement and condemnation. So thank you.

Addie Zierman
Reply November 3, 2011

For the record, even though I am a Halloween-party-throwing, costume-wearing wacko, I absolutely loved your Halloween post. It is, in fact, what led me to this blog and made me want to be your immediate and always friend.

The last two lines on this post made me catch my breath. Beautiful.

Reply November 3, 2011

Oh Amber! I'm sorry that your post at Deeper Story wasn't so well-received! I appreciated your thoughts but for once didn't stop by to say so :(. I wish people had a little more grace about the Halloween topic. Especially for our brothers and sisters. It's bad enough when we have to face what the world throws at us, but when people of our own faith throw things in our face...

I would love to see things with your eyes one day :) Your words help, but to see it with you and right now would be wonderful, I think.

Reply November 3, 2011

good lord, woman - you know how to string words together in a way that sneaks truth right into then middle of my heart. i love it.

Reply November 3, 2011

Amber, I waited until too late today to say this, so my words aren't coming like I'd hope. But I've been thinking of you all day, and I so know that Misunderstood monster. An old, icky companion of mine. But I wanted you to know, for what it's worth, that I read your Halloween entry when it came out and felt it such a clear, beautiful representation of your thinking and your process. Never did I feel it judgmental, holier-than-thou or anything like it. Instead, it felt like loving, respectful, personal journey spoken grace to me. I so appreciate your honesty and the ways you walk through the space of the ground and the air with your every word. I so love visiting here, and thank you for sharing what you have to say. You bless me.

Reply November 4, 2011

Speaking of misunderstood...

I'd kind of like to defend myself here. That whole coffee thing? It was an honest mistake. Really. And there were extenuating circumstances regarding that Wal-Mart run. Really.

Just so you know, this little piece of writing is phenomenal. Seriously.

Reply November 4, 2011

This: "Where the crayola leaves had freshly gathered in the nook of that building, a soft breath lifted them at once, and in the air, the leaves turned into a thousand red birds dancing large or a school of fish in their hovering, darting art."

...reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAe8-ms-mYs&sns=fb

Both are lovely. Peace.

Reply November 5, 2011

This is beautiful. Peace & rest to you.

Reply November 5, 2011

This is just perfect. Perfect, I tell you.

Reply November 5, 2011

p.s Did you paint that picture? Because I want to hang it in my living room.

Reply November 6, 2011

oh my word. you take my breath away. or maybe that's not really it. maybe it's you, simply pointing me to where the wind is blowing...

imperfect prose
Reply November 6, 2011

oh amber. you are art. i'm so sorry you felt misunderstood over your halloween piece... i hate feeling misunderstood. i hope you receive a package i sent you soon... and if you've received it already, i hope you like it :) you are so very special, and these words, these red birds, these holy bushes, they're dotting the way for me tonight. thank you.

imperfect prose
Reply November 6, 2011

ps. i'm in love with this painting.

Reply November 8, 2011

Hello Amber! You are such a true person, I really love the way you are.

Reply November 11, 2011

Great photo! Thank you for this great post! I can't wait for what you're going to do on Christmas!

Reply November 18, 2011

It’s rigid to think that we may hum like a little we didn’t mean, and that somebody would be insulted by it.I love your kind heart.Thank you for sharing your simple thoughts with us.

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