little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

“Help, Thanks, Wow”

Everything that Anne Lamott writes, I eat up.  Sometimes it’s a slow devouring like licking ice cream from a spoon, and at other times it’s like that mind-blowing hotdog eating contest in which I have never participated.  BUT, her words are that addicting, that enticing — you know that feeling — when your eyes dance, the pages fan before your face, and without even noticing it, you’re on page 52.

Just yesterday, my dear friend Edith gave to me her most recent gem, “Help, Thanks, Wow,” and between late last night and this quiet early morning, I have cherished it.  Now, I’ve already passed it to mama, and she is almost finished.  It’s a “must” read, friends, as she contends in her humorous, often irreverent, poetic, and refreshingly honest way that the three most essential prayers are “Help,”  “Thanks,” and “Wow.”

We need help because we are oh so human:  “Help”

God has given us far more than we can fathom:  “Thanks”

And often He leaves us breathless if we allow ourselves to really notice, to really be present:  “Wow”

I spent much of this early morning inspired and eager to write down my prayers of help, thanks, wow, and I’d love to share a few with you here and encourage you in this same honest, healing, and cathartic practice.  It has reminded me to be real with my Creator — our omniscient, awesome, yet personal, loving, and always-there God, and I hope it will do the same for you.


-help me, Lord, to be honest with others and myself.  Help me live out what I find out.

-help me, Lord, in this havoc I’ve wreaked on my poor body, whose wounds I am aware of daily.

-help me, Lord, for my mind races and wanders, and I don’t know what to do with the mess it often creates.

-help me, Lord, to seek hope when I feel lonely, and to trust and surrender to you and believe that I’m not as alone as I sometimes think I am.

-help me, Lord, let go and unwrap more — for what is true living?  Help me break the rules I’ve constructed for myself and embrace the freedom you’ve already given.

-help me, Lord, get out from under the weight of worrying about what other people think.  I never thought I really cared about what other people think, but Lord, have mercy, my silly little sinful heart sure does care!  Help me, Lord, just to listen, pay attention, and be myself.

-help me, Lord, love and serve others — even when it’s desperately hard or inconvenient.

-help me, Lord, in the midst of worry to remember who you are — as the wild geese honk over my head and the clouds gather to water our needy earth.  You take care of us.


-for Anne Lamott’s book and her ability to weave insight, patience, reality, and humor.

-for silence, a mother of imagination, if we make time for it.

-for hidden healing in my elbow that takes time and trust.

-for my friends and colleagues at school who challenge and love me — even when I’m a weirdo (which is always).

-for my students who give me such joy and such heartache sometimes — and who compel me to be better every single day.

-for my family who has taught me the greatest gift of loving — even in our dysfunction (’cause every family’s got it), I know and feel that we love each other deeply.

-for holding my mama close and feeling her heartbeat against mine and holding her sweet face in my hands and smelling the sweetness of her hair — the best blend of honeysuckle and baby powder. Her eyes tell me truths that lack the right words, but in spite of the pain she’s carried, their sparkle, their light still shines.  She is strength. And she is strength even now in her newfound vulnerability — since her hip replacement taught her about being bathed by others, and cancer took away part of what makes her woman.  And through these battle scars, she still laughs that guttural laugh, chases birds with her sunlit eyes, and delights in the simplicity of a radish.  She finally believes that she is loved unconditionally, as she bows her sweet head and opens her empty hands to receive grace from the Giver of life.

-for my daddy whose heart is so big and who has so many talents — perhaps too many to juggle.  I thank you, God, that he’s thinking a lot about for what and for whom he is living.  He is a survivor. He is determined.  He is a lover.

-for words and poetry and music and the way they affect me physically — sometimes as though fireflies are hovering in my veins, and others as if I’ve been socked in the belly by a bowling ball.

-for the pangs of birth – the inevitable pains that produce miracles and new life…”Oh, Death, where is thy sting?”

-for wondering about my own existence — why am I here? And realizing joyfully that only God knows the answer.  In the meantime, thank you, Lord, for loving me as I stumble and limp through life with a smile on my face.

-for early mornings when I breathe in God’s peace.

-for the beauty and possibility of healing; thank you, God, for my friend Tait and the successful surgery to remove her thyroid cancer.  Thank you, God, that such a procedure can even HAPPEN.


-the colors of butterflies; only God could have invented that.

-smells of newborn babies, especially that sweet spot on the top of their heads — like a perfect cantaloupe.

-the making of a bird’s nest; unlike us, they have no arms and legs, and yet with feathery, winged miracles and meticulous pecks of their beaks, they communicate and build masterpieces.

-the first greens of spring that seem so bold, so proud, so desperate to be seen against their dark brown bows.

-the song “Martyrs and Thieves” — how another’s music and weaving of words could also seem to tell parts of my story. I’m so grateful to be able to play it on my guitar now…and sing out loud!

-candlelight – a quiet mystery that dances in space in its own wild, yet respectful way.

-food from the earth to fill and restore us — the miracle of fruit; each is a piece of art in itself:  the humorous banana, the playful assortment of berries, the heavy cluster of grapes, the blazing fire of an orange and its pulpy passion so beautifully organized beneath.  I’d like to say that I spend time examining food before I often mindlessly consume it, but maybe now I’ll at least slow down and continue to give thanks to the Giver for such an astonishing bounty from which we have our pick.

-the sweet and miraculous glistening of new skin in a tired and weary wound.  Can it really be?  Wow.  Yes it can…

Help. Thanks. Wow. Amen.


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2 thoughts on ““Help, Thanks, Wow”

  1. Carter, thank you for another gift. I loved everything in this post. I found myself nodding in agreement with your personification of silence as the mother of imagination–so true! I was transformed by your list of wows. You opened my eyes to miracles hiding in plain sight.

  2. acallison1 on said:

    I have had this starred in my inbox for a few weeks now because I have been wanting to go back and re-read it over and over again before I told you how much I loved it. Anne Lamott has been a huge writer of influence in my faith journey. I discovered her my senior year at w&l during a low season when I really needed to hear and feel God’s grace. Her words delivered it so beautifully and perfectly and I have been hooked ever since. I devoured help thanks wow over christmas and delighted in the pages much the same way you describe here. Her writing is a gift. and so is yours, friend. A reminder of His goodness and His grace. I know it seems like I must say this a lot…but I really mean it….thank you for writing these pieces of your heart and thank you for sharing them. They bless me more than you may know…so THANKS! You are a gift, friend.


    and the mention of new skin on a healing elbow at the very end there…could it be true? is that really happening? WHAT A MIRACLE! PRAISE HIM FOR HEALING!

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