We recently went on a vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico and on the way home detoured a little to visit Carlsbad Caverns. If you haven’t been there, put it on your bucket list, it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen.

Let me paint the scene for you: after being on the interstate for 4 hours we pull off into this podunk little nothing town…small town America literally, nothing really there, just simple living. Driving through until we find ourselves on the outskirts of the town, thinking maybe we missed a turn or something when we come to a sign announcing Carlsbad State Park.

And wow, just wow!

43,000 acres of the most beautiful landscape; mountains, cactus and bendy roads as far as the eye can see. Really breathtaking scenery as you wind your way through the park and up the mountain to arrive at the opening of the cavern.

The park’s most famous cave, Carlsbad Cavern, is over 1,000 feet deep and currently contains 30 miles of mapped passages. The Big Room of Carlsbad Cavern is the largest underground chamber in the United States.

We walked 750 feet down a winding path into the opening of this monster cave. This was my second trip to the caverns, I don’t remember my first time here, I was 3 years old but from the pictures I have seen, I had a really good time. Walking and earning many a piggy back rides with my parents who were still happily married back then. It’s a sweet memory so being here again felt nostalgic on some level.

So many beautiful things to see; stalagmite princess castles, stalactite chandeliers, things that look like popcorn and lily pads, mountains of droopy, melting icing and massive draperies that hang magnificently clinging to the side of rock. Truly amazing all the shapes these mineral formations take. I imagine God, up in heaven, having a ball as He creates each one knowing how much it will delight His kids that would one day stumble upon the opening, discovering this hidden cave with all its treasures!

The path in the cavern leads you to a space known as the Big Room which is 14 football fields in size. An enormous cavern filled with all sorts of sights. Imagining, like one does when cloud watching, all the fun shapes and images that present themselves as you walk: Rapunzel’s castle, a whale’s mouth, a buttocks, and funny faces of men with large noses. It’s the imagination’s playground for sure!

I loved it all, it was so worth the detour and the time! My most favorite thing of all was this particular fact: the Big Room from an ariel view has the shape of a cross and they call it that: a cross! Not a “T” but a cross.

I just love this! Can’t you just see Him up there creating all the amazing things He covered the earth with; flowering trees, butterflies, florescent fish in the deep, glowing stars millions of miles away for us to look up into the black velvet sky to see, cucumbers on the vine, I could go on and on, but here, deep in the earth, hidden from plain sight for many, many years, God placed secret evidence of Himself, His Son, His love for us — a cross! His imprint on the earth to remind us that He created all things and we can find Him in all things. I bet He was like a little child, giddy with excitement, opening a new toy on Christmas morning. Imagine the scene, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, waiting and watching, nudging one another as their kids happened upon the mouth of the cave…”Oh my God (wink wink, think they call each other that? Probably not..anywho back to my fun imaginative story) I cannot wait for them to find it, to see the cross We hid in there for them!”

Can’t you just feel His delight for us in this exploration?!

What a fun God He is, treasure hunts on a heavenly scale!

I love that He hid a cross in Carlsbad Caverns – coolest thing ever! He never tires of

delighting us,

surprising us,

engaging us,

inviting us.

He is the God of MORE and there is always MORE with our lavish, never in short supply, God who invites and invites and invites us to see Him!

Heart shaped lakes,

catfish backbones in the shape of a crucifix,

stars that literally sing in the heavens,

cross-shaped laminin found in our cells that holds the human body together,

and a hidden cross concealed 1000 feet below in a secret cavern.

I posted this on my personal FB page this Sunday morning March 10, 2019. I loved and hated it all at the same time.

Whether you are sick or well, lovely or irregular, there comes a time when it is vitally Important for your spiritual health to drop your clothes, look in the mirror, and say, ‘Here I am. This is my body-like-no-other that my life has shaped. I live here. This is my soul’s address.’ After you have taken a good look around, you may decide that there is a lot to be thankful for, all things considered. Bodies take real beatings. That they heal from most things is an underrated miracle. That they give birth is beyond reckoning.”

“When I do this, I generally decide that it is time to do a better job of wearing my skin with gratitude instead of loathing. No matter what I think of my body, I can still offer it to God to go on being useful to the world in ways both sublime and ridiculous. At the very least, I can practice a little reverence right there in front of the mirror, taking some small credit for standing there in front of the mirror, taking some small credit for standing there unguarded for once.” – Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

If I am honest with myself, and with you, it terrifies me really. To unrobe and stand naked before a mirror and offer gratitude – can I even do it? Can I look at my naked form and offer thanks to this body that my life has shaped. My heart wants to, but my mind…it is a tricky thing to turn.

It twists with

judgment and remorse,

comparison and regret,

wishing for something else, something less!

Taylor writes, “Propriety, reason, modesty, counsel, judgment — all these you make your prisoners.”  Yes, a prisoner, that is how I feel – stuck between my heart and my head. Wanting to offer gratitude, to see with kindness yet pulled by comparison, judgment and all lack of grace.

I can remember a time when I wasn’t as plagued with this tug-of-war with body. A free little girl who loved her body and all the amazing things it enabled her to do. I like every other little girl looked in the mirror with adoration –

I was the bees knees!

And I was the cartwheel queen – cartwheeling more than I walked I do believe. Down the driveway to get the mail and back again, one-handed, with mail crumpled in the the other.

I could stand on my head for what seemed like hours, I spent alot of time upside down!

I could also scale a door frame like a spider hiding above as people walked unsuspectingly below. So easy to scurry up the edges, legs spread wide to brace the rest of my body. I was a circus acrobat in my own right. Daring feats and spins, my little body was amazing.

And then somewhere in middle school I forgot about her greatness as comparison and cliches became the struggle of the day. Fashion and hair, lipstick and name brands. I spent less time being the bees knees and more time trying to change what God gave me. I permed my straight, fine silky hair for fake curls. I penciled eyeliner to widen my small dark brown, sparkly eyes. I wore oversized shirts to hide my full blooming busty figure that came earlier than others. Instead of looking in the mirror to see me, I looked wanting to see others.

Taylor writes, “One of the truer things about bodies is that it is just about impossible to increase the reverence I show mine without also increasing the reverence I show yours.”

It works the opposite way too, as I judge myself, I judge you. When we are consumed with our inadequacy we look for what’s wrong in other so we can feel

less alone,

less different,

less less!

In her book, An Altar in the World, Taylor writes about various practices, and all of it is pulling at my heart – but this chapter, The Practice of Wearing Skin, got me, AGAIN! I wanted to pull my hair out literally. When oh Lord, when will I be done with this issue, learn the lesson, be over this crap!? Is there an age when you stop caring about how the body looks and just live grateful that you can still walk and see and hear, that hair is still on your head and fingers still bend to write…when oh Lord?! It’s an exhausting issue I wish to be rid of, to live thankful for this “unique body signature” as Taylor calls it – that not only carries the physical characteristics but also my specific gait and gestures, posture and facial expressions.

Round

and

Round

and

Round the mountain,

deeper into the caves where the deepest of lies still cling to heart strings uncut.

I will walk…

and I’m bringing my scissors with me!

I believe in the body

I believe in its beauty in all forms, shapes and sizes

I believe we are not our body but yet we are!

I believe that everything I believe about the beauty of all the women I am graced to know is the beauty that is in me

I believe that I don’t see myself as others see me.

I believe I want to see what they see.

I believe in living unguarded

and I will stand before the mirror naked offering myself

over and over again

until I believe in the gratitude that will be found there!

I hope you will do the same!! Believe, live unguarded! Oh and don’t forget your scissors!

Driving west to Santa Fe all night. We left with the sun high in the sky over our Louisiana home and watched it sink into the earth in front of us, gone as black liquid skies speckled with star lights consumed us for hours. 17 hours is a long time in the car… and of all of us… me, my husband, my 16 year, 13 year old and 11 year, I am definitely the worst traveler. I get restless, achy knees and bored in cramped space. And I can not sleep in the car for some reason so I’m pretty miserable. Night feels like forever when you are sleepy but can’t sleep. Miserable!

Daybreak comes slowly, the sun sends it messengers of light beams out to announce its arrival. Coloring the wide expanse of sky with pinks and oranges and yellows, a delicious cotton candy sky welcomes the sun’s rise. Slowly in the east the color moves across the sky. Light and blue skies taking over the grey sky in front of me, hijacking the night, overtaking the darkness.

The hope of a new day sneaking up on us like the seeker in a game of hide and seek, tiptoeing behind to surprise. As the fire globe rises in the sky, the shadows melt away, touching the landscape to reveal the details of mountains in the distance.

I am reminded, as the sun comes up behind us, that when looking forward we can get stuck in only seeing

grey skies,

bleak outcomes,

discouragement,

the long road.

Remember!! We have to look behind us sometimes to see the color chasing us down. Our own testimonies of the glory revealed, the stories that shed light on God’s intrusion into our lives, the roads we have traveled that have gotten us to where we are now.


We are told to stay forward focused,

don’t look back,

keep your eye on the prize.

But sometimes looking back is the only way to move forward.


Today I pray;

May the light chase you down!