My name is Space,
cross my heart!
I’m a carpenter-preacher’s wife, and a mama of three grown sons who are splattered from Florida to Ohio to Alaska. I am a soap-maker by trade, and a writer by endearment, living in the Appalachian foothills. But none of these things are my identity. At the core of my identity is the fact that I am Jesus’ beloved! And it certainly isn’t because I deserve it.
I am a woman who viscerally understands grace! A mosaic. Broken shards grouted together with mercy and glory and triumphant, unyielding grace! I once was a prodigal, but prodigals are often met with a lavish embrace, a fattened calf, and a party. In the marrow, I know God as Rescuer and Redeemer, and for this I am beyond thankful. I also know that He is not embarrassed or put off by my weakness and need. It is this that makes me cherish Him with every fiber of my being. It is this that makes me love His Image-bearers. And it is this that makes me weep with joy and gratefulness. Some of us know we are the least deserving, and it lays us low in the dust of glory. I am in that camp.
He is so lavish with His affection! The wake of my prodigal years taught me that. I used to think God was distant and disenchanted. That He would like me more if I performed better. In the shattering, I discovered the God of the Cross: the God who adores and embraces the outcast, Who gave His very blood as a ransom to restore what was ruined in Eden, where shame entered and communion was destroyed. I have found intimacy with the Bridegroom at the foot of His cross, the place where God’s justice and mercy harmonize together into an angelic refrain!
I have been a prolific writer, and a ravenous reader my entire life, reading the Thesaurus like a novel throughout Elementary School, and journaling my way through my anguished years, my traveling years, and every year (and most days) ever since. My affection for words and my affection for Jesus are colliding into a memoir on redemption, grace and intimacy. If you’d like to help me get my words published, you can subscribe to my email list. I’d be most grateful!
If you want to know a little more of my story, you can scroll down, and I will elaborate. If you want to know a lot more, please make sure you sign up for my email list, where I aspire to inspire others to swell with delight in Jesus, and grow deep roots in their understanding of His grace and beauty.
I picked my husband up hitch-hiking on July 22nd, 1997. My story would be much more sterile if I could begin it there. I would have a lot less scars. But our scars tell a story. The scars of the woman at Sychar made her the first missionary to her hometown. The very same town that had shunned her because of her reputation. Mine bear witness to the tenderhearted Messiah, as well.
I grew up in a broken home. My brother and I spent our childhood getting shuttled back and forth every other weekend, between Sacramento and Seattle. My mom had it rough. But she wrestled and groped for Jesus the whole way through, and I got a peep into her prayer closet because of her suffering. Suffering sure can make a soul shine!
We lived with my grandparents for part of my youth, which was awesome for me, but probably not for my mom! Then, my grandma died. I was 11. One thing I’ve seen, more times than I can count, is that there is often a moment in a child’s story where the trajectory of their life changes. When they swallow a lie, and it consumes them from the inside out, until it incinerates their soul. It’s like the enemy is circling the camp, looking for innocent, unsuspecting prey, and pouncing at the opportune moment. Parents, pay attention for this! For me, this moment came at my grandma’s death. The day I felt the slightest relief that we could stop spending every, waking moment at a dying woman’s bedside. I felt like such a monster for feeling relief, but I didn’t tell a soul. Guilt and shame began to gnaw their way through me.
At the same time, my mom began to invoke more laws to try to keep me from doing drugs or having sex before I was married, but these laws had the opposite effect. I had staked a lot of my identity on being a “good, moral kid” and suddenly, none of it amounted to anything. Instead of teaching me wisdom, I was crippled by more rules and the shame of having betrayed my grandma’s memory. I, the docile, compliant daughter, became enraged and began to revolt.
I began to do everything my God-fearing mama was most afraid of. I thought God hated me. I thought my mom hated me. And I began to hate myself. The truth is, the god I believed in would have hated me. He was a god who gave out brownie points and demerits, and judged everyone based on how well they performed. I knew Jesus was the Lord, but in my mind He was a taskmaster, not a precious friend and certainly not a Bridegroom on a mission to gather a cherished Bride.
I moved in with my dad, at age 14, and began to break every rule in my moral code. An old friend told someone that in high school I was the darkest person he had ever known. I wouldn’t doubt it. Even my memories of those years are in grey-scale.
I stuck my thumb in the air and headed to Oregon to escape my shame. But shame attaches to the soul like a parasite. A month and a half later, I bought a VW for $150, and picked up a cute hitch-hiker from Maryland on the side of the road. We’ve been together for nearly a quarter of a century, as I write this. A week after we met, a drunk driver slammed the backside of the bus. We spent 4 days loitering outside a hospital in Boise, ID, before a lady named Cynthia Hegge (and her husband Niel) welcomed us (and our traveling companions) home. Smiles (the cute hitch-hiker from MD) and I spent 4 hours that night trying to argue against her and her husband’s faith in Jesus. But we couldn’t disprove it, because they knew their Bible, and wielded a sharp sword. And because they had an immense, unshakable love for us, even as we consumed four hours of their life trying to ensnare them with our aggressions against their beloved God.
We went to bed that night as unbelievers, and woke up with changed hearts. No lie. We didn’t even know what had happened, until we began to want to follow hard after Jesus. Suddenly things were colorful.
A year later (to the day), we gave birth to our firstborn son, Forest Elmer Robert (named after our grandfathers). Five days before giving birth, we got our dream motorhome. We named her “Miracle” because of the miraculous way she came to us. But that story would take pages to tell. It is for a different time and a different book.
The day I got saved, I was instantly delivered from my drug addiction to crystal meth, but the addiction to self-loathing took another seven and a half years, and a good marinade in the book of Galatians. I am thankful for this, as well. Sometimes, when the stench of our sin lingers long, and we get deliverance after much suffering, it transforms us all the more. My delight in Jesus is not despite my prodigal years or the lingering shame, it is because of them. One cannot quite know the full brilliance of the Light without knowing the suffocation of the darkness.
We switchbacked across the country for a couple of years before camping behind a small church in Northern California, and settling down for 9 years. We knew we needed discipled so we stayed. I birthed two more sons in CA. One of which (EliJAH Mountain) came a few months after our arrival at the church, and was born in our motorhome bathroom into Smiles’ hands. The other (Simon Peter) came a couple years later.
We grew up in California (the one state we absolutely did NOT want to live in!). We fell in-love with those trees and the community of believers who, like Redwood trees, lock roots with one another and provide wind-breaks, giving one another the support to keep growing and stand strong. We were gifted with many older, wiser saints in our lives to foster our curiosity about the Bible and teach us how to study it, to help us with our familial roles and learning how to love one another well, how to work with our hands (and feed three insatiably hungry boys from scratch, meanwhile training them to become a holy men), how to can food, homeschool, garden, and grow. Some of them even taught us how to suffer well, by creating friction in our lives that we had to work through and learn grace (because that’s the flip-side of the gift of the Church). They also taught us the preciousness of discipleship, and exemplified it through the offering of friendship, and not making us feel scorned for our youthful immaturity. We were blessed! We continue to scatter that blessing, as we are now the older ones offering friendship to those coming up behind us in this race toward Zion.
In 2009, we moved to a town in Southeastern Ohio that had captured our hearts in our early traveling years. We bought raw land and lived in a stationary school bus for three and a quarter years, before buying the adjoining land with a house on it! Nothing like good ol’ running water and electricity, after a few years of living without!
Just before moving to Ohio, in 2007, I made soap for the first time, as a homeschooling project. We were studying Colonial History, and making some of the things Colonists would have made out of necessity. We used modern methods while studying the historic methods, because, let’s be honest, I didn’t want to slaughter an animal and render the fat, nor save all the hard wood ashes throughout the year, and create a leach bucket to make me own lye. I quickly realized that it’s unrealistic to make soap as a hobby, considering the cost and excess of supplies, and the fact that the people I gave bars of soap to were already asking for more. What began as an intriguing homeschooling project soon became “Space Cadet Soaps”.
I am the woman who never even considered becoming a business woman. I am an artist. Artists aren’t usually organized. It takes organization to become an entrepreneur, and organization is one of my greatest weaknesses. I suppose God often likes to use the least likely and least suspecting. The ones with the vibrant weaknesses, who everyone would say must be ill-equipped. Like David, the youngest of all Jesse’s sons. Or Gideon, the one hiding in the wine press to thresh wheat. Or the woman of Sychar becoming her town’s first evangelist-missionary. When He uses the ones without human resources, we see that all the resources are His’ and that His power truly is displayed in our weakness.
The thing that gave my soap-gig the buoyancy needed to become a thriving business was actually the Greatest Commandment. To love God and love neighbor. It didn’t grow too big too fast, because loving God and neighbor was the highest priority. If I said “yes” to more than I could handle, I would let the juggling balls drop in other places and my kids and husband (my closest neighbors) would suffer. As I was approached by more and more Brick-and-Mortar shops hoping to carry my soaps, I would filter my response through prayer and the question of whether or not I could adequately handle serving another customer without sacrificing my commitments to the other stores who were already selling my wares. Whether or not I could obey the Greatest Commandment.
The thing that gave my business wings is that my main focus has never been on selling soaps and such, but on loving people. I see my soap business as a front for missionary work. When I vend at craft fairs, music festivals, or the Farmer’s Market I bring an extra chair for anyone who may need a little counseling session or rest. I spend more time talking to customers than selling soap. And I get to share the Gospel, and encourage the saints over and over again. Thank God I make a product that sells itself, and is profitable, so I can afford to travel around selling it!
Just before the world seemed to capsize and almost all the businesses were shut down, my stepdad finally convinced me to let him help me design a website! I hadn’t wanted to before, because it felt like one more thing to manage, but as I prayed about it, I realized that having a website may actually help me stay organized (or as organized as I could hope to be). The timing was supernatural! I have seen the fingerprints of God all over this business! I am perpetually reminded, as I am with all things in life, that the objective is to simply follow God’s lead, and keep His priorities highest. He will bless what He wants, despite our natural abilities.
Oddly enough, this soap business has been a tour guide for me, in my writing endeavors. I have always cherished words, and loved to craft art with them. I read the Thesaurus for fun! I spent my childhood buried in The Babysitter’s Club and Nancy Drew. I even read while walking (I might still do that!). I kept myself alive in high school by writing myself an alternate reality, and kept myself sane and clarified through journaling ever since. But I skipped college and went hitch-hiking. Usually some formal training seems helpful, when you are trying to piece together a book. Just like organization is helpful with running a business.
I have spent the past five years lingering on a porch swing with Jesus and His precious Word, listening, enjoying, writing words that often felt like a geyser erupting out of the soul, and at other times beckoned me to stillness and savoring. When you write a memoir, it is not simply for everyone else. It is the Lord’s way of unveiling what He has transformed in you. For me, it was an invitation into intimacy. A pathway through suffering and into abundance. For the Christian, suffering is always a pathway into abundance.
Just as I observed with the soap business, I didn’t need to be well-equipped with human resources (like a college degree). I needed to be called by God and walk in faithfulness. I needed to take the next step in obedience. I needed to see His Image in others and care more about tending souls than selling my words.
This website is the next step in obedience. It’s easy to get discouraged when you hear things like “You need about 10k email subscribers before a publishing company will give you a chance”, but then I am reminded how God works best when human resources aren’t available. This website, for me, is like Moses’ staff, puncturing the waters of the Red Sea. I pray God parts the waters like He did for Moses.
But it is also an extra chair behind the booth. An invitation to weary travelers to come, sit, share your burdens and let me slather them with the balm of the Gospel! Because the highest priority is never to sell something, it’s always to bring healing and grace to the nations and to each hand-crafted person, beloved of God. These words are, like my soap table, a front to encourage the Church and transform the world! May you find His grace here!
Somewhere along the way, I became a connoisseur of childlike wonder. My journey has brought me from the stale dungeons of legalism, through the havoc of my prodigal years, through the wrestling space and wanting to know the Messiah who healed me, and into a place of wonder and delight! To bask in the warmth of His radiant smile! I find splendor in things like tree bark, sunsets, and star-speckled skies, children’s laughter, and a yard full of free-range chickens. I am a story-collector, a traveler and an imaginarian! I love finding reflections of His Kingdom in different cultures and the souls of strangers. And I love to find it in my own backyard. I am a sojourner on my way to a different Country, where the One I love the most will embrace me, not only as daughter, but also as His bride. I hope to invite others along with me, so they, too, can see the sparkling smile of God in the cracks and crevices… The Majesty in the Mundane!
If you are one who wants to enjoy nearness with the One who made Moses’ face shine with Shekinah glory, and was so lovely that Mary broke her costly vial, then come, pull up a chair. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and let’s chat. I am a woman who loves to meet with God, then run back to town to tell the masses how lovely He is! I am also a story-collector, so feel free to engage. Comment on the posts, or just send me an email. I want to see and hear you, as well. Each and every one of you is an Image-bearer of God with your own scars, stories and triumphs. And as much as I enjoy talking about the loveliness of Christ, I also enjoy listening, because your voice is also precious.