What Good is a Roll without Butter?

My mother’s despaired moan came from the backseat. “They forgot the butter for my roll.”

“No?” my grandmother gasped in horror.

“Yes!” She dropped it back into the paper bag from which it came. “What good is a roll without butter?” she mumbled.

I was driving. There was a lovely lilting rhythm to my mother’s words. My brain quickly composed a little ditty. I silently willed it to stay in my sieve-like brain until we made our next stop, at which point, I pulled out my handy-dandy-notebook and wrote the captured words out before they broke free like stallions into the wild frontiers of forgotten memories. (The wild, fresh smell of the grass and allurement of so many companions must be the draw.)

What good is a roll without butter,
Or marmalade on it to smother?
It’s just useless bread,
And better off dead.
What good is a roll without butter?

I recited my creation to my mother. She nodded vigorously. “You tell them!” she concurred.
Next step in the process, text my goofy creation to some appreciative party. This is usually one of two people, my husband, who was currently working and would be unable to chuckle for hours, or my brother-in-law, who usually responds within an hour on the average day.

My brother-in-law and I have an odd relationship. He is quickly becoming my closest friend. I can’t quite put a finger on when this started, it probably had something to do with our mutual obsession with literature, but we text nearly every day and I often find myself literally laughing out loud at our incomprehensible conversations.

I typed out my limerick-ish poem and sent it off into text-land. My mother and I deposited my Grandmother at home then trotted off to the gym. I was reading Mere Christianity on the incumbent bike when my iPhone made the Perry the Platypus sound. That means an incoming text. Instead of the expected “HAHA” or emote con, I received the following response.

In response I must say that a butter less roll,
May yet still be used as an onion soup bowl.
Take a knife and a spoon and scoop out a large hole.
Add soup and eat up, for it’s good for your soul!

I burst out laughing. The truth was I should have been anticipating something like this. Pleased as punch, I composed the proper response.

What good is a beach without sand,
A soft place for your butt to land?
For if it were rocks,
‘Twould ruin your socks!
What good is a beach without sand?

My day rolled forward. Hours later I looked at my phone to see the following answer.

A sandless beach, I think you will find,
Can be lots of fun if there’s rocks to be climbed!
You can stand on the top looking out to the sea,
Solid rock at your feet, spread your arms! You are free!

I burst into peals of laughter. My husband insisted on knowing what happened. I shared the conversation with my beloved then began to beat my head for another question.
“What good is a feast without food?” my husband offered. I snapped my fingers at his brilliance and typed into my phone.

What good is a feast without food?
You’ll have to agree that it’s rude.
The guests would be mad,
And that would be bad.
What good is a feast without food?

My response came a while later.

Man shall not live by bread alone.
They could sit in a circle, play telephone.
Let fellowship take the place of the yeast.
Friendship will out at an un-fooded feast.

This was his best one yet. I dangled one more before his eyes.

What good is a day without sun?
I don’t think it would be much fun.
For I need sun to tan,
Or I won’t get a man.
What good is a day without sun?

My response came about 12 hours later.

What could be better than a sunless day?
With books and tea, inside you can stay!
And as for your tan, you’ve already got a man
And he will love you either way.

I smiled.

Me: You’re hilarious by the way.
Jon: Thank you :p

I love my brother in law. 🙂

© Rachel Svendsen 2014


Pen and Paper


Pen and paper help me,
For I am at a loss.
The world around me seems so hateful,
Spiteful, angry, lost, ungrateful.
Help me to convey,
The things that I can never say.

Words so often fail me.
My voice runs out of sound.
The others all can talk around me.
Their flowing words so often drown me.
Help me now to speak,
For my mouth is far too weak.

I write until it soothes me,
This soft and subtle art.
My heart heals when my feelings leak,
And bleed onto an empty sheet.
Help me to express,
My aching hurt and loneliness.

I must fold my paper,
And turn back towards the world.
I know I can run back inside,
To vent my worry, cry, and hide.
The sky is overcast.
I’ll write until the storm has passed.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

“My Sin” on a Wooden Cross

I’m a front-row-pew kind of Christian. Not that it matters where you sit. The truth is, I can’t read the powerpoint slides when I sit back further than the third row. I opened my vision corrected eyes and lifted my head when the prayer finished. My husband and I slid out of the row towards the centre aisle. Tonight we were doing something a little different for the Lord’s Supper.

In my hand I held a little card. The words “my sin” were written on it. A wooden cross stood just below the platform. I raised my hand. The head of the nail fixed in the cross, slid inside the hole on my card. I made my way back to my seat.

My eyes were already stinging with tears. There I sat. Once Christ’s enemy, now given the gift of nearness through his sacrifice. “My sin” hung on the cross. The only thing keeping me from God, completely covered. I know my heart. I know who I am: my motives, my thoughts, my desires. I know the depth of the sin he’s covered. I couldn’t help but wonder at the awesome beauty of this gift poured out willingly into my frail trembling hands. Someone died for me.

First row, first up, now I watched the others make their way to the cross. This sight was almost more beautiful than the sight of my sin leaving my fingers. A visual reminder of salvation’s scope unfolded before my blurred eyes. I watched others file past: men, women, children, young, old, a woman with a cane, a little girl with a missing front tooth, light skinned and dark, grey haired and blonde, nations, tribes, and tongues. These all came with their own stories, their own sins.

Woe to those who can’t see this beauty: deep, sweet, and endless. Whose sin blinded eyes would sooner cut off their own hand than relinquish the right to self and accept this gift from so loving a master. Can anything be more magnificent in purity or perfect in love?


Body broken.
Blood shed.
I’m made white by his blood red.
Open my eyes lord.
Help me see,
To give up self and live for thee.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

I Dream of Bovines in a Large Red Barn

The cow in question
“You like ‘Alice in Wonderland’?”

I looked up from my book to my guy friend. I sighed and exchanged it for my Algebra II book.

“Yes I do.” I replied. He wrinkled his nose.

“But it’s so weird.”

“It’s clever!”

“He wasn’t clever. He was on drugs!”

This revelation crushed my world, but didn’t change my opinion of Lewis Carroll. I still think he’s a genius and I still love Alice. I think the reason it was so devastating is because I’ve always had super Alice-in-Wonderlandesque dreams. Now I wonder if people think I’m on drugs too…

I once dreamed that I was chugging along in my Uncle’s black pick up truck. I have never in reality driven this truck. It’s massive. It has one of those oversized truck beds with wheel wells that stick out like sidecars. I’m a tiny little Honda Civic kind of girl. The more compact the better.

Regardless, I was trucking down a narrow side street on the way to my grandmothers. I took a sharp bend in the road and…


I didn’t see her until it was too late. She was a middle-aged brunette in jeans and a black vest. I slammed on the breaks and jumped out of the truck. My heart was pounding. My slumber infused consciousness had not yet registered these events as a dream, and, as far as I knew, I had just hit a person.

Oddly enough she was fine. I mean…she was a bit miffed. It’s legitimate. I would be too if you hit me. Especially since she was already lame, as evidenced by her black and sliver cane laying on the side of the road.

“I’m so so sorry,” I moaned, at a loss for anything else to say. “Here, I’ll take you to the hospital.”

These were the pre-cellphone days of our lives. This seemed like the best option. She acquiesced to my offer and I carried her into the truck. I laid her on the floor behind my seat and quickly made my way towards the medical center. I didn’t make small talk. What do you say to a woman you just hit? She was the one who first broke the silence.

“Why are you going this way?” she said nervously. “Are you insane?”

“What are you talking about?” I responded. My palms began to sweat against the wheel.

“Just whatever you do, don’t look that cow in the eye! He’ll kill us.”

“What cow?”

“The one in that barn you idiot!”

A massive three story barn stood in the field in front of us. The field was wide and empty save that big fire engine red building with the white trim. The grass was yellow, dying with the change in seasons. I tried to recall this building being there before. I’d driven to my grandparents house a million times, I was practically raised there.

“Don’t even think about looking!” she snarled. I locked my eyes on the road and kept driving.

Curiosity is a dangerous thing and my veins flow with an abnormally high amount. Figuring it was safe to check my rearview mirror, I waited until we passed the building and glanced up.

The three-story barn was built like a hugermongerous doghouse. One large curved opening framed the biggest cow I will ever see. It looked inflated, like those ridiculous blow up decorations that are so popular around the holidays. There was no fan blowing merrily under this beast though. It had big white horns and a massive golden ring embracing his nostrils.

I shuddered as fear rippled through me. The huge round eyes locked with mine in the mirror. My heart stopped beating. The warm brown eyes of the cow melted into a menacing red. Steam poured from his nostrils. One hoof struck the ground, tearing up the dying grass. He snorted.

“You fooooool!” the woman behind me moaned. She dissolved into hysterical sobs.

The cow charged. I woke up screaming. I sat in my bed, safe, sound, and completely devoid of cows. I laid my head back on my pillow.

“Wow,” I murmured. “That was weird…”

I recently left my job and a coworker bemoaned my loss. “Who will tell me their weird dreams now?” she asked. Who indeed Sandra? For I have not yet met anyone in person who has dreams like me. I know there are others out there. I can’t possibly be the only living being with vivid bizarre dreams. I just wish they would affirm me. So if you’re reading this and you’ve had similar bizarre things occurring in your slumber…let me know…please?

Time to Fly


I’ve heard a million times that life will bring you to a crossroads.  I always assumed I could turn right or left, that I would have a choice.  Now I know life isn’t always like that.  Sometimes your path in life ends with a cliff.  That’s what mine was.  I stood on the precipice looking down.

“It’s an awful long drop,” I said.

“You’re not going to drop.  You’re going to fly.”  I could hear the smile in his voice.  He reached down and lifted up my arms.  “Go ahead.”  His hands slipped from me as he took a step backwards.

I looked down again.  It was dark, cold, and unknown.  Even the horizon seemed like an endless sea of blue, no place to land, nowhere to rest.  It shouldn’t have frightened me.  It should have bewitched me with its beauty.  So why was my stomach turning?

“What if I can’t find a place to land?”

“Of course you will,” he replied gently.  “Everyone who’s gone before you has.”

“But that was them.  This is me.  What if…”

I would try to list the endless circle of “what if’s” that poured from my fumbling lips, but I barely remember them myself now.  I just remember the panic.  What started with a fluttery sensation in my stomach, mutated into a violent seizure of fear.  I dropped to the ground, digging my fingers into the solid earth.  My throat grew raw from my terrified screams.  I gasped and choked on my tears.

His hands took hold of my trembling body.  He pulled me up.  I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was.  I felt weak, needy, and helpless.  I looked up into his kind eyes.  They smiled at me.

“I want to do it,” I murmured.  “But I can’t.”

He squeezed my hand.  “You will.  But not right now.  Sit back.  We’ll talk.”

I wiped my leaking eyes on my sleeve before I awkwardly acquiesced.  It was hard to look at him at first while he talked, but his gentle voice broke through to me.  He told me about his own hardships.  He told me about how he learned to fly.  I told him all about me.  I told him all my deepest fears.  He listened.  Laughed.  Cried.

I don’t know how long we sat there.  I can’t put a finger on the moment it happened.  The realization came as a gentle, slow awakening in my heart. The truth was that I was born with wings.  I was created to fly.

I ran out of words.  He didn’t speak either.  We listened to the wind blow down off the cliff into the unknown.  I fingered the familiar cool green grass for the last time.

“You’re ready aren’t you?” he said softly.

I looked up at him.  His gentle eyes were smiling again.

“I think I am,” I said.

We stood together.  I turned to face the cliff.  It wasn’t less scary, just less daunting.  I felt him fade away.  I knew if I turned he would no longer be there.  But the whisper of his kind wisdom was a part of me now.  It gave me the courage I lacked.

I spread my wings.  Time to fly.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014


Truth is the Goliath we don’t want to face
Yet he draws the line of battle

Two choices

Stand brings risk
Risk of challenge
Risk of rejection
Risk of solitude
Turned against – forgotten

Shrink brings censure
Censure from me
Censure from family
Censure from others
Loss of self – respect

Dare I?
Dare I stand and risk
Dare I?
Dare I shrink and risk you
You continuing forward blindly
Groping towards falsehood
Can I save you?
Should I?

Fear and Bravery meet

I stand
Sling in hand
God help me.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

Be Careful What You Pray For?

blog post picture

“I’ve heard it said, ‘Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.’”

My pastor’s voice came over the nursery loud-speaker. My arms were full of sleeping infant.  The woman beside me listened with closed eyes to the sermon overhead.

“Hmmm,” she grunted. “That is so true.”

My arms were asleep. I shuffled and looked down into the tiny face.  My mind ticked away. I failed to stop the words leaking from my mouth.

“No,” I said. “No, it isn’t.”

I’ve heard that phrase many times growing up. Most often when a preacher would stumble onto James 1:3. The passage says: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces patience.” The preacher would look up from his Bible and say, “This is why we need to be careful when we pray for patience.”

People…we’re missing the point.

What is prayer? Prayer is our direct communication with God. Sometimes it feels like God is so far away. Prayer is our link, our chain to him. It’s the time when we stop to talk to him. Sometimes we cuddle in his lap, cup our hand around his ear and whisper to him. Other times, we weep and scream. Our Father delights in all these moments. He wants to share them with us: the hurt, the fear, the joy, the sorrow. Looking at the Psalms you see hundreds of prayers. Those saints too whispered, screamed, cried, and sung for joy. It was just as essential in their spiritual walk as it is to us today.  It moves us closer to abiding in the beautiful, unfathomable love of God.

C. S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” God made us for more, and as we grow closer to him we find our true love and desires molding to his, giving us the fulfillment we’ve always craved. Our defective sinful natures keep us locked in the temporal, but closer abiding changes us.  It changes our prayers.  Our prayers morph from “God I want a new car” to “God please give me more patience.”  God wants us to seek patience.  Increased patience will give us increased joy.  Permanent joy.  New cars give us temporal happiness.

So, should I truly fear to ask anything of God? What’s the worst that will happen? Truly.  Is it the “no” I fear?  That saying would teach us it’s the fulfillment of such I should fear.  No. The answer comes in the verse just prior to James 1:3. It says, “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  Joy people!  Joy!  Not happiness.  Not a faint smile, but real, deep, abiding, joy.

Ironically, seconds prior to these words over the loudspeaker, my companion and I had been discussing my miscarriage.  This time last year I was pregnant.  God chose to take my child from my husband and me directly to him.  It would be a gross understatement to say this has been hard on us, we both desperately want a child, but the fact of the matter is, I have never once been angry at God for doing so.  I ask him “why”.  It’s a legitimate question.  I don’t know the answer.  What I do know is this.  I learned through my miscarriage that God loves my husband and me.  I learned that he is in ultimate control of everything.  I learned that I can fall into his arms when I’m hurt and frightened.

We have two thoughts before us.  One: we need to be careful to ask God for things or we’ll get them.  Two: I received desired spiritual lessons from my miscarriage.  If we believe thought one to be truth, than thought two is a direct result of thought one. Thus the only conclusion we can draw is that I would be holding my baby today if I had never asked God to teach me to love and trust him more.  I submit to you that this is heresy.  If not, then it’s safer for us to restrict our prayers to the weather.

God is not the divine author of agony.  He does not sit on his throne waiting to squash us with trials, death, and fun sucking.  He wants the best for us.  He wants us to have peace.  He wants us to have joy.  If we truly believe that, we will never fear to ask him for anything.  Our spiritual growth brings joy to us and God.  I found joy in my trial.  Yes, I found grief too, but the joy is pervasive.  One day I will see my baby again.  I believe this. Until then I find joy and love in the arms of a God who will fill the aching hole that my baby left with me.

I have not stopped praying for God to teach me to love him more.  I will not stop.  And, so far, the roof of my apartment hasn’t caved in and my refrigerator isn’t infested with genetically enhanced arthropods.