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Carving around the outside

August 11, 2016


I called for an appointment for a makeover

Nothing drastic, I thought

Maybe a trim, boost in color

I thought you’d be too busy, really

And it would likely be weeks before you had an opening

Maybe months

But you had other ideas

I don’t know why I thought you wouldn’t

You wanted to build a house

You wanted to plant a garden

You wanted to clean out my closets

You wanted to have a bonfire

And you had ideas about what to burn

I didn’t want to tell you no

But I saw the look in your eye

I heard the tone of your voice

I knew the furniture would be too tall for me in that house

I knew there would be snakes in the garden

I didn’t want you to see my closets

It was me you wanted to burn

And here we are again

My lips are forming yes

But I can’t look you in the eye

You will see into the middle

You will see into the mess

So you peer at me through the crack in the wall

I pretend I don’t notice you noticing

But I can feel your eyes burning a hole in my heart

You remind me I gave you permission

This will warm your bones, you say

And I admit I’ve caught a chill

I never quite warmed up after winter

That’s why I wanted a makeover anyway

But of course you already knew that.




What the marrow sees

August 7, 2016

I saw what saw

and I never said I didn’t

but you didn’t see and so

you assumed I couldn’t.

I didn’t want to argue

didn’t want to scare you

didn’t want to make you

shove your fingers

in your ears

as you backed away slowly.

Even on the days

my bones catch a chill

and the colors are dull

and I begin to wonder

if the wind will ever come again,

I know there are embers

and no veil is beyond tearing.

There will be breath

and I will live

And there will be words

and I will see what

you have said

and then I cannot help

but burn.


Flashbacks and fast-forwards

July 30, 2016

My high school classmates got together in my hometown this evening.

They were in Ohio.  I’m in Florida with a schedule that didn’t allow for travel this week, and so I missed out on the gathering.  I spent the evening eagerly looking forward to photos popping up on Facebook.

Who would have ever thought in 1981 that we’d one day have tiny cordless portable telephones that work as cameras and handheld computers?  Who would have imagined Facebook?

We came from three K-8 elementary schools in a rural part of Ohio and consolidated into one graduating high school class of 88 people.  We were our own small town, and our worlds were still small and mostly untried by life.

It was hard to be me in high school, mainly because I had no idea who me was.  I was a confined and compliant restless creative who was reasonably smart, but I wasn’t pretty and I was a total train wreck at all things physical besides marching band.  I wasn’t one of the cool kids.  Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t friendless; there were six of us girls who’d known each other since we were very young, and we stuck together during the high school years, too. They loved me, and I loved them. But I still felt like an outsider drowning in my own life. All I knew is that I was Different in ways I couldn’t articulate, the kind of ways that keep an insecure teenager on the Uncool-But-Not-Outcast list. I didn’t know how to be ok with that. It would be many years before I would make peace with my kind of Different, and even come to love it. But back then, it felt like a social death sentence.

Fast forward a few decades. I’ve since lived at countless addresses in seven states. I finished a degree that I never officially used. I married Mr. Sparky and raised four beautiful, brilliant, creative, and delightfully strange children, one of which has produced four beautiful, brilliant, creative, and delightfully strange Grand Sparks. I’ve picked up and abandoned dozens of creative pursuits because the world of creativity is just too huge to park in one corner of it. I found out I could do hard things. I eventually discovered who me was, and subsequently found out that I actually liked me in spite of a host of quirks, flaws, and peculiarities.  I finally began to believe it was cool to not be one of the cool kids.

The truth is, I wouldn’t want to be 18 again for anything. The skin and the more slender frame might be nice, but not worth the angst.

I looked at the pictures of my beautiful classmates coming across the screen tonight. I don’t think I knew how beautiful they were when we were young, because when I looked at them all I could see was how I didn’t measure up to the invisible (and self-created) standard that loomed in my mind. But I long ago released myself from that impossible standard; I don’t care about measuring up anymore. I now look at them and I see life.  And even though I wasn’t there to hug the necks and share in the stories, I look at them and instinctively know some things to be true.

Our faces are no longer unlined, but the smiles are now tried and tested by the fires of life. Joy, even in the form of a smile for a camera, is a choice, and we understand the other options because we’ve experienced pain, disappointment, and loss that we couldn’t even fathom at 18.  We’ve laughed and cried harder than we ever knew possible; we’ve raged and we’ve loved. We all now know that we can do hard things, because we’ve done them.  We’ve been amazed by our own strength, and devastated by our weaknesses.

We have all lived a story we couldn’t even imagine at 18.

We have said goodbye a few of our classmates, their stories over far too soon.  But for the most part we still have chapters left to live.

Personally, I plan to pack mine full.  I have Important Things to do for (and with) a King I love and a kingdom I long to see established on earth as it is in heaven. I have a legacy to leave. I have creative exploits I haven’t even thought of yet.  The possibilities are literally endless.

The next time my classmates get together, I hope to be in their midst fully being my own introverted but not shy Different self—purple hair, warped sense of humor, and all.  Until then, there’s Facebook.

It’s good to be alive in 2016.


July 26, 2016

It’s Ridiculous O’clock and I should be in bed, but it’s raining and the sound of the water showering the trees and running off the roof makes my soul so happy it wants to just sit and soak it in. From indoors, of course.

Also, I ate a couple handfuls of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate chips, which was probably a bad idea because caffeine and sugar. I don’t need either. But dang…even though I can leave all the other kinds of choco chips alone, there is something about these that is amazing. That Trader Joe has it goin’ on, I tell ya.

The Sparky household recently acquired a 6′ tall cat tree. In case you are wondering, there are no cats growing on it. There aren’t even any little kitten buds that might one day blossom into full grown felinity. I am not sure if I’m disappointed or relieved about that. Thus far all three cats have explored it to some extent, but nobody seems to want to claim the kitty hammock on the lower level.  Queen Fancypants seems to the the one most often smugly surveying her domain from the upper heights. I’m sure we all look so much smaller from up there.

If we had a Sparky tree, I would use the hammock. Just sayin’. Although I am not sure what would be more entertaining: watching me get into it, or watching me get out of it.

Tonight’s post as been brought to you by a lapse in good judgment when choosing a late night snack.


Beyond Oceans

July 25, 2016

The day was bright where

blue met blue,

the razor-sharp line

of the horizon

unwavering in the glittering sun

and the dancing wind.

You see I heard

and I knew it was true

before I ever saw.

What do you see?

The razor’s edge began to waver and

soon it disappeared

as the darkening blue met the rising blue

with the flourish of the

brushstrokes of a master painter.

I watched the clouds rise

tall and ominous,

filled with fury and the flashes

of lightning,

and I trembled

at the prospect of yet another

fierce tempest unleashed

upon my blue

and I wanted to turn away.

Look again I heard

and so I looked again

as the lightning ripped through

the towering column of

angry-looking clouds.

That isn’t a storm.

I drew a sharp breath

in the shape of a question mark

and the electric answer sizzle-cracked

through my awakened being.

That is power…

Go towards it.

And the earth beneath my feet

began to move.



The new New

July 18, 2016

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. -Steve Jobs

It’s a holy moment when you realize that you’re standing in the middle of a group of revolutionaries. I was taken back a bit by the revelation—not because it’s particularly surprising, but because for once I wasn’t really looking for them.

They vibrated with intensity. Holy Spirit obviously liked it, because He met them with His own vibration and the room buzzed with a glorious energy. It was the kind of energy that riles up those who are crazy enough to believe they carry Something that really can change the world. They are rebels, for sure, brilliant star-shaped pegs who refuse to be crammed into the world’s square holes.


I felt the question more than I heard it.

Are they so different from you?

No. Not really. I don’t really know them, but I like them.

So do I.

It feels really different. It looks familiar but feels really different.

It is really different. This is something new. It’s even new to them.


Something new.  I’ve heard a lot about “new” since late December.  And I’ve seen a lot of new, too. New is now morphing into Newer Still, More Newer Still, and Ultra Mega New With Bonus Features.

You’d think New would come with elbow pads and a crash helmet, just in case. But it appears that it doesn’t, and a helmet would just smash my hair flat anyway.

It would be a pity to show up to change the world with flat hair.



At my fingertips

July 10, 2016

The pen is mightier than the sword.

It may surprise you to know that I don’t really care for the physical act of writing, of taking pen or pencil and forming sentences on a page. It makes my hand crampy, and I get frustrated because I can’t edit easily if I decide there was a better way to state something I wrote four sentences ago. These two reasons pretty much sum up why I actually have few physical journals around. It’s much easier for me to type.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m an absolutely terrible typist. My keyboarding skills are slow and dreadfully inaccurate, and I spend a lot of time hitting the backspace key so that I can fix whatever horrific typo I barfed into the universe. I know you know what I’m talking about. I am well aware that no matter how many times I proofread, one occasionally slips through the cracks and takes up residence here in Sparky Land.

Sorry ’bout that.

It matters to me because words matter.  Words are powerful.  They express individuality and creativity; they spread ideas and information. Whether we speak them or write them, they are by their very nature locked and loaded. The book of Proverbs puts it this way:

The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit. –Proverbs 18:21

The tongue.  That’s anything you say or write or sign or otherwise give voice through words. That’s some serious stuff, you know?

My fingers on this keyboard are my pen, an extension of my voice. On any given day my pen can be

-a surgical blade

-a soft blanket

-a tourniquet

-a machete

-a lasso

-a grenade

-a bandage

-a guide

-an harpoon

-a life-preserver

-a mile marker

-an emetic

-a machete

-a key

-a tornado

-a comedic interlude

-a map

-a dream-inducer


It’s actually a weighty responsibility, wielding the pen well.

Over the years I’ve learned that not everything I think needs to be spoken or written.

Not everything I speak or write needs to be shared.

Not everything I share needs to be broadcast to the public.

It’s not that I don’t believe my pen has power.  It’s because I believe it does.

When my words bring life, I want them to bring life to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, and self-control.  I want them to heal and bless.  And I want to be sure that when my words destroy, they destroy darkness, lies, and worldly systems that are set up to damage hearts and lives and deface the King and the kingdom dear to my heart.

If you ever wonder why I don’t employ my pen to address certain topics, most of the time this is why. Words are powerful, and I rarely find myself wanting to scream them over panic and chaos like some keyboard warrior needing to have the word du jour to fix the mess du jour. To be effective, words also need appropriate timing.

Your words are just as powerful as mine, you know, be they written or spoken. What you say, how you say it, when you say it, to whom you say it…even why you say it.

I hope you embrace that, because it is true.