{This Sacred Everyday} Suzannah Paul

I first felt a kinship with Suzannah Paul when I discovered her blog and our shared former youth minister status. Then I realized she grew up the same area of Philadelphia as my husband. Then I realized she not only believes in poetry, she writes it! (Also, she lives at a camp, which is my secret dream.) I had the chance to meet her this past April and she instantly felt like a kindred. So grateful to share her with you today. 

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“Are you writing, or do you want to come for a walk?”

The answer to the former was a definitive yes. I longed to keep writing, especially as the whining crescendoed in the kitchen. A half hour—or more!—of blessed quiet was a delicious temptation, but today was our sabbath. We’d driven home from vacation a day early to savor one Sunday here, together.

I put on my shoes.

I’m not one of those women, the people-pleasers who can’t say ‘no’. I appreciate boundaries and try to honor my gifts and limits. ‘No’ has been a harbor in this difficult season. A summer of camping ministry and oft-solo kid-wrangling found me firmly entrenched in survival mode. ‘No’ saved my sanity more than once.

But autumn is afoot. Wild grapes scent the air, and goldenrod paints the valley topaz. This season brought me melancholy other years, but this time it’s different. I’m choosing differently.

The leaves turn, and so do I. It’s a repentance of sorts. A baptism. The sacrament of YES.

“Maybe’s just a fancy way of saying ‘no’”

We keep some noes, of course, for hitting or rudeness. We limit screen time and junk food. But my lazy noes, born of selfish desire for comfort over service? Those I offer on the altar and bury, to be raised and recreated by YES.

YES, of course we can read another story.

YES, let’s sing two songs before bed.

YES, we’ll run fast, paint wild, and bake messy. YES, let’s cuddle, please. YES, eat peanut butter by the spoonful, sculpt with tin foil, and tape All The Things!

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

How many blessings did I refuse by my NO? Did my idol-making of comfort, control, and caution choose for me curses over life?

I listen for that holy stir whispering Go! and YES. I put on shoes, for today’s hallowed ground is a cable bridge and well-worn path. It’s cattails, grasshoppers, and small hands in mine. Wood ducks and “Look mama! I’m a hawk!” It’s feet that move and eyes to see.

The holy offering of unclenched fists primed for praise and service. Open palms eager to receive God’s abundance with a grateful heart and consecrated YES.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes


(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)


how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?


(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

(e.e. cummings)


Suzannah Paul dabbles in poetry and writes love letters to the broken, beautiful Church at the smitten word. She raises children and chickens with her husband at the summer camp in Pennsylvania where they met.


  • Jeannie

    Your post spoke directly to my heart today. My son has autism and I weary of his repetitive questions & requests for his comfort games. So often I hear these words come out of my mouth, “No, I don’t want to do that” — i.e. play “hiding” again or do “one-two-three-yawn” (you have to be there) or say “yes, tomorrow’s garbage day” or “no, there’s no church today” or whatever, on and on from morning till night. Why don’t I want to? I ask myself — Well … I just don’t want to, that’s why.

    But these words in your post really (warning: Christian cliche ahead) convicted me: “How many blessings did I refuse by my NO? Did my idol-making of comfort, control, and caution choose for me curses over life?”

    In two hours I pick him up at school. I will try to say yes all the way home and laugh more and not refuse the blessings. I will ask God to help me not just say Yes, but want Yes.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      oh jeannie, yours is a a difficult path, and i can only imagine how those questions might wear one’s patience.

      from say to want…that’s it, isn’t it? to want to want to be faithful! let it be, Lord.

  • michaboyett

    Yes, I totally agree with Jeannie. That same question so moved me. What blessings am I refusing by my “no”? I’ll be thinking about that for a long time…

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      thanks for being such a lovely hostess. i can’t wait to hear about holy ground encountered in italy with your man:)

  • http://www.leahcolbeck.com Leah Colbeck

    I feel like you were spying in my house today lets ‘tape all the things.’ Really it is saying yes to joy isn’t it?

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      this made me smile. it’s not just us! “saying yes to joy”–absolutely, whichever unexpected shape it may take. thanks, leah.

  • http://annieathome.com Annie

    Oh, these are words of life for me tonight – trying to strike a new balance in a new season. This helps. Thank you, Suzannah.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      how is it that seasonal change can bring so much tumult and peace? blessings as you balance:)

  • http://brandeeshafer.blogspot.com Brandee Shafer

    Mothering can be so taxing, and it can be so easy for me to try to wriggle my way out of parts of it. (“You’ve been bathed, clothed, and fed today; what more do you WANT?”) Thank you for helping me to remember: the little unnecessaries are the best parts.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      oh, how i know it. i love how you phrased it…those unnecessaries are indeed the very best. i’m thinking of cold feet cuddles that happen entirely too early in the day and are perfection all the same:)

  • http://limetreecity.com Lenae

    With so many littles running around, I catch myself more frequently than I’d like to admit saying “No” in succession. When I approach the altar and do say “Yes”… oh, the blessings. Thank you for reminding me that I have the choice –the gift!– to tread hallowed ground every single day.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      oh lenae, i know it can’t be easy with so many littles and another on the way. may rest and joy and so many blessings be yours and your tread these hard and hallowed spaces. xo

  • CAQ

    This is still my favorite definition of love, by (famously curmudgeonly) Philip Larkin, talking about jazz, but still–I think it’s widely applicable:
    On me your voice falls as they say love should, / Like an enormous Yes.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      ooh, i love! i need to look this up. thank you for pointing the way.

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Lovely, Suzannah – and so hard to do sometimes. I remember being just too dang tired to say ‘yes’ some days. But occasionally, I would make room for the blessings…thank you.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      i know it. this is often against the very fabric of my most lazy self! to tiny faithful steps and grace for the faltering.

  • ro elliott

    Oh this is just beautiful….I use to think God was a God of no…so no was easy for me…but as He came and won my heart to His love…I saw all was Yes and amen…Yes is easier now…but oh how I would have known this when my kids were young…blessings as we walk with consecrated yes in our hearts~

  • http://tanyamarlow.com tanya marlow

    Beautiful words – thank you :-)