I walk by this fence at least once a day and see the old vines hanging there, long dead but still woven into the links, cut off at the top and bottom. I don’t know what kind of vine it used to be, but man, that thing was hardy! It flat refuses to let go! I hope my neighbors leave it there. It’s kind of a wonder.

I see those old vines and I think of Todd’s Grandma Creech and the afternoon many years ago when Sarah and I were up in her sewing room, getting a needle and thread to fix a button on Sarah’s shirt. I should tell you first that Grandma Creech spent her working life in a BarkaLounger factory, wrestling heavy upholstery fabrics onto sectionals and sofas. (Beware her Hulk-strong pinch, Todd says, having sat beside her in church occasionally as a rambunctious boy.) Anyway, the designers considered Grandma their in-house magician. Just show her a sketch of what you want, lead her to the frame and padding, and she’d transform it into a work of art. Her sofas lasted forever.

As Grandma Creech opened her sewing basket, Sarah went in for a needle. “Be careful there,” Grandma said. “Needles are tricky things. They don’t have a head on them, so they’ll slip under your skin. Then you’re stuck with a needle traveling around your body your whole life long. You won’t ever know where it is.”

No wonder Sarah let me sew on the button!

So I’m wondering, what’s slipped under your skin?

Not needles, but other things. Things people said to you. Things you’ve seen. Comments long dead, cut off from the roots, but still traveling around your body and brain. Waiting quietly in the background, creeping up behind your conscious thought, working themselves into your confidence or fear. What you think you can do or can’t do.

They can be good or bad. And POWERFUL, sometimes.

I’ll share first, but I’d love to hear yours.

Better to end on a happy note, right?

Growing up, no one ever stopped me on the street and said, “Wow! You are so coordinated! So graceful!” I didn’t do dance, except once in preschool, and I tended to hide in gym class. But I remember once getting ready for some kind of dance or school event at a friend’s house, and her mother saw me walking in heels. “Aww,” she said, reaching out as if to catch me. “You’re like a newborn horse stumbling around.”

A newborn horse? That’s not the look I was going for.

I’m sure she was right! Today I laugh about it, but you know what? The image she accidentally planted in my brain has haunted me ever since! For the eleven years I worked at church, I walked down the aisle in front of our big congregation every Sunday morning and thought about stumbling! It’s ridiculous! I’m a full grown woman and that hardy comment still travels around my body.

But on the up side, comments have also changed me in beautiful ways!

Many years ago, when my kids were little and I was searching for what to do with my life, besides mothering them, I talked with a minister friend of mine. “Becky,” she said, “I see God’s fingerprints all over you.”

She had no idea what that simple comment did for me. What it did TO me.

It slipped under my skin and traveled through my body. I began to think that maybe I had the right to consider doing things I wanted to do, things I felt called to do. I mean, I knew God loved me. God loves everyone. God’s fingerprints are all over all of us. Yada yada yada. But for her to pronounce this, to say it specifically to me? It changed me and the way I saw myself.

I know we want to raise kids to listen to their own inner voices–and God’s voice–to know and love who they are. But the world is so loud! Outside voices have sharp ends, sometimes. They get in easy.

It makes me want to watch my mouth.

What about you? What’s slipped under your skin? I’d love to hear if you want to share.

Love, Becky