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tea1_edited-1
. . . . because sometimes I don’t want
to explain when its inevitable words won’t . . .

because sometimes only ice cream will do
or I let me mind fall into a cool soft pillow just because. . .

because sometimes I need to give. . .
a hug

or maybe because someone needs one and they don’t realize. . . .

fresh chocolate mint leaves in a cup of morning sweet orange spice
because it changes the sensory of my surroundings

because a decision was the right decision in that moment

some dreams won’t let go not matter how hard I try
because they were woven into the very fiber of my soul

and now I have a pair of brown eyes and four paws
who just wants the furrow above her eyes scratched
because a bunch of boys gave me a lot of becauses that
went straight to my heart . . .

because he still says he’ll love me forever, he’ll love me for always

because some moments feel like tears for no apparent reason
and another bursts into graceless feet doing the happy dance

because Grandma Moses said, “Life is what you make it,
always has been,
always will be”

because love, faith and hope won’t allow me to give up

because two of my boys were story-bearers during a discussion at school
of how I had their daddy’s and my wedding band melted together for me to wear
because he worked with equipment and liked having 10 fingers
and I like wearing his ring
and they thought it was cool

and pink, yellow and orange zinnias are
beautiful and resilient

because sometimes it’s something just between me
and that still small voice

“And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice” (1Kings 19:12)

(o.k. – o.k. – I might have taken more than 5 minutes because. . . .it made my heart leap with joy –  and, no, that wasn’t the caffein from the tea! Stop by Kate’s  five minute friday - and bring your five minutes of brave to write on the word. . . . because. . . . )

tea5_edited-2

Chronicles of Grace: Unforced Rhythmes Messy Marriage  photo 65f0f5f9-b796-4cfb-977e-fe63b69f9e6d.jpg Missional Women”What Equipping Godly Womencountingmyblessings


”What Photobucket

hands3cWhen brother’s grow up,

this is how they hold hands.

brothershands

 photo 65f0f5f9-b796-4cfb-977e-fe63b69f9e6d.jpg

fading into grace

fallhydrangea_edited-1As for man, his days are as grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth”  (Psalm 103: 15)

 

One of my son’s was talking about his college classes. His U.S. History teacher he said, “She’s really old – like 50 or 60.”

I arched an eye-brow, “Really old? 50?”

There’s sadistic enjoyment in sometimes helping your children shove their feet in their mouths a little further – just so they realize it’s there. They don’t consider me really, really old – but they really don’t consider me 52. Strong as an ox? indomitable? They think I am. I guess when you’re raising boys to be strong men, they expect their mothers and fathers to be as strong as the standard they set.

Walking through my yard after picking some tomatoes from the garden, watching butterflies on the zinnias that finally bloomed, my eyes fell on my hydrangea blossom – and I thought – I want to grow old like that.

I want to grow old like a blue hydrangea.
Budding green flowerheads in summertime’s morning sun
White tender soul petals emerge, opening
roots reaching for a holy spirit water source
for an unquenchable thirst
in the harshness of a summertime life
day by day as year by year
iron will infuses light baby
to cerulean blue tender still
vibrant, intense full of life blue
for a season, for a span
until petals toughen like paper hide
in an afternoon shade the blossom fades
into grace of more than just
antique greens, grandma rose pinks and dusty blues
its life redeemed into something worth keeping
reedeemed and gathered up before winter’s frost,
stored into darkness to dry for days
as sweet reminders of hope
in the midst of someone else’s winter.

I think the most challenging part of being a mom of sons-only – is I don’t have a daughter to pass the stories down to – and women are designed to be story-tellers, keepers of the family faith story. We are designed to  pass the God in us down. Brandee at Smooth Stones asked me a few weeks ago to stop by her place (figuratively), have a cup of tea (figuratively) and pass some encouragement down as her first-born enters high school. She has doubly blessed me!  If you need  some encouragement as you raise your teens, please join us! Dear Brandee, Your son’s just started high school. I can just see that first day. He’s all ready to go out the door, catch the school bus: back-pack stuffed with school supplies, water bottles, – not lunch because he wants to try their lunch, to see if it’s different. . . better. His back pack isn’t heavy, yet. There’s room for books, but not as much room as he’ll realize he needs. You probably watched him walk to the bus, like independence on training-wheels, that walk up to a doorway to a new era. You’re more left behind than ever. You can’t walk him out, stand with him like you did in the primary years. You can’t just pop into school to see the teacher at the end of the day to pick up nuggets and morsels of what’s really going on. Hands-off time has begun – kind of like on the cooking competitions you see on t.v.  when that buzzer rings, hands fly off – and up. He pulls himself up through those bus doors that will take him to a school where everything is possible – booze, drugs, PDA, friends who lift up and those who pull down, teachers who encourage and discourage, believers, non-believers – it’s all in there. . . . . and you just let him go. . . . When you just let him go, remember the other back pack – the one you can’t see – that soul back pack that you started filling the day he was born . . . . Read the Rest Here (Click)

cat

 “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Genesis 1: 3-5).

Challenges threatened the potential of my last Monday – like a lion stalks its prey or thunder and lightening shake up your world.

An entrepreneur’s wife is an entrepreneur, too. That means lots of new tasks, organizational needs, doing all sorts of jobs outside of my skill area – and learning new skills – like putting out figurative fires, stepping in to fill a gap – and needing to know the answers to all the questions. Last Monday found me in new situations where I didn’t  have the answers – and people looking at me for them.

Entrepreneur’s are business starters – sometimes that means you both work outside your business until your business grows big enough to sustain you both. Sometimes that outside job uses your skill-set – and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t – well, that’s just one of the things you do when you’re helping someone you love build a dream – a dream that teaches our sons how to work, handle responsibility, time management – and how business works. That’s where you learn about blooming where you’re planted.

Monday was a topsy-turvy, chaos-induced, challenge-filled day. I kept my challenges to myself, but all around, people were putting down  Monday – the “bad” child of the 7 days. “What good can come of a Monday?” people said.

I could have easily fallen into the trap – of speaking hopelessness on my day, beating down its potential and opportunity for grace and over-coming. I had examples enough to beat Monday up a bit. I didn’t, though. I’m not comfortable with cool, hip, in-the-know cliches. I just can’t make myself bash Monday like kids bash an uncool kid to seem popular.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Mark 11:23)

windowsunrise_edited-1Rise and Shine!

Monday Morning Sunrise is at the window sill.

God didn’t say, “Monday’s are going to be awful days.” No! On the first day – a Monday – God created light – and saw that it was good.

It’s not just one day in a week. It’s 52 Mondays in a year. That’s 2, 704 Mondays in my life or about 7 1/2 years – if you’re 52 years old.

Isn’t how you begin a race the most crucial time of that race? I don’t want to ruin the opportunity for each week on day one by speaking faithful assurance of it’s failure.  I have a choice:

Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (Proverbs 18:21)

In the midst of the chaos of my challenge – I spoke faith over last Monday – just like I do every other day and every other challenge.

“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” (Mark 11:23)

I tell my boys, “What you speak is what you get.”

What you believe about your Monday will come to pass.

Sadly, when Monday is treated like an ill-favored child – the day is thrust back into spiritual darkness.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18)

reddoorRise and Shine! Monday morning sunrise is on your door-step!

Give thanks because it is not our circumstances that define our lives, but the attitude with which we live those circumstances that define our lives.

The first day God created was a Monday - and it was good! One day does not have an edge over another. One day is not greater than another. There are no throw-away days.

There are 7 days in a week. Each day has equal potential for goodness.

I spoke faith over my Monday, praising God for his blessings and mercy – and my Monday was redeemed. Redeem yours.

Rise and Shine! Monday is upon you! The first day – and God said it was good!

I pray that your Monday be filled with God’s grace and mercy, despite the circumstances each hour brings.

I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

 I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

 Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.

Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.

Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.

God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.

He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.

The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.

God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.

(Psalm 34)

Cure

Criticism Prevention?

There’s no cure, recipe or how-to book created can prevent criticism – deserved or un-deserved.

You can’t prevent your children, your spouse, your family members, your friends – and even you from catching criticism.

You can only learn how to live through it.

What needs to be done?

Needs: Necessarily; indispensably; generally used with must.

Have you ever done that? Tried to prevent your children from receiving criticism? Eating dinner at someone’s house – and your child won’t eat what’s served? A toddling 2 year old wanting to touch all the knickknacks on great Aunt Ruth’s coffee table? A teenager wanting to wear grunge to church or school?

A criticism preventative doesn’t exist.

“How can she live like that,” my mom’s friend asked her when they’d dropped in town for a pop-up visit.

I was a young, married, full-time college student, working 20 hours a week at a local newspaper – and Finals Week was closing in – meaning 10+ page research papers were due, projects had to be complete, and exam preparation.

My apartment living room had been literally covered in projects – the couch, the chairs, the kitchen table, the coffee table. Paper carpeted the floor in organized chaos.

I don’t know if we went to lunch or whether I cooked it. All I know is that by the time they arrived, the carpet was cleared – and the piles – yes, there were still piles – but they were tidier.

For the next 20+ years, if someone came to visit, they could find drawers reorganized, laundry folded and put away, the kitchen sparkling – and no piles lurking.

That day, long ago, I needed some grace. Instead, I put on a shield of perfectionism The shield protected me from criticism and judgementalism that labeled me not enough – I thought. One hand held the shield, the other held the not-enough club.

I would beat myself with for not being perfect enough. The sad irony is that I probably beat myself up much more than anyone else ever did.

This spilled over into my parenting. This time, I was a human shield. I didn’t want little hands getting smacked for touching knickknacks. I didn’t want someone else telling my boys how rude they were to not eat someone’s hard-cooked meal. People did, you know – fuss at them for being too little to know better. I know I just didn’t want them made to feel like they weren’t enough.

I don’t say I protected any of us well, living like that, living perfect for all the wrong reasons. Living to intercept and stop criticism isn’t really living.

The more I understand how God designed me, the more I have been able to lower the shield.

The more I have lowered the shield, the greater role I have given Shaddai – the God of more than enough – in my life.

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done(2 Cor 9:8)

Did you read that? Ready for anything and everything. . . . for what needs to be done.

Only what needs to be done

Needs: Necessarily; indispensably; generally used with must.

Criticism prevention is not something that needs to be done. As a matter of fact – it has as much chance of being achieved as having everyone in the world see me as God sees me.

Only what needs to be done

I only need to do what God has called me to do. I don’t have to also do what God has called you to do.

I don’t have to have an immaculate house because someone who drops by can’t live like that.

What needs to be done – not prevented, blocked or misdirected.

God didn’t design me – or you – to be a strategic defense initiative to stop in-coming missiles. God tells me, “I’ve got it.”

“They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.'” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame” (Isaiah 45:24)

What needs to be done?

What needs to be done . . .
The baby needs loving
And the boy needs a band-aid
Tummies need some yellow, green and orange
A glass of milk and chewable protein
bluesy teens need hugging
skin sweating, heart beating ideas
that need hearing needing
a mom to just listen
My husband needs time for unwinding
Some problems need solving and some just need
Time to untangle

What needs to be done
Is the coming together
In the mess, this beautiful mess
Even in paper stacks under chair legs
a sink piled-high with dishes
Laundry that needs folding
Socks that need matching
Tea that needs pouring
While stories take time
In the telling
In the mess, this mess
Made beautiful
When things of God grow
like grace and faith
peace and joy,
kindness, goodness faithfulness
and waiting with hope

What needs to be done
is one-on-one time with the one
who shields us
and takes the beating stick away from us
one-on-one time full of prayers
for all we’re called to reach and love,
and invitations, daily, minute, second
invitations to Shaddai – who is more than enough
who surrounds us
lives in us
and he never says, “How can I live in a place like that”
By living in us
We become the best place of all.

I’m not trying to live this life perfect anymore. I’m trying to live it God’s more-than-enough way.

If you want to break the strangle-hold perfect has over your life, check out The Cure for the Perfect Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.  Maybe you just need encouragement to let go of perfectionism and be who you were designed to be. I’m pretty excited about their book  – 1) because it encourages me to change bad habits in such warm, funny, real supporting ways, and 2) I’m a contributing writer. I’ve been doing the happy dance over here.

A quote from my contribution:

“Coax a child out of the doldrums, you make him happy for a moment. Teach a child to find his own, you’ve given him the tools to be happy for a lifetime.”

zinnias

In late May, my husband armed my youngest with a spade, charging him with the knightly duty of uprooting insurgent roots in the garden. Like any knight worth his shield, helmet and, ummm, spade, he took to the task with vigilance.

Not a green leaf or its root remained.

Three packets worth of zinnias and 3 packets of cosmos , the promise of so much summer color and charm, were heaped in a wilted pile.

Realizing the error of this zealous knight-in-training, my husband worked with him to save as many zinnias as possible – and I loved that, that my son replanted as many zinnia seeds as he could – that’s a keeper story that goes straight to my heart – and that my husband showed him how, doing it with him.

Life is like that sometimes – the work of my hands – and your hands, too- is like seeds planted. Sometimes the results grow, blossom and reap a harvest – just like seed packet directions promise.

Sometimes, though, unexpected happenings interfere with what I perceive is normal cause-effect of my actions and expectations.

Sometimes my hopes and dreams feel as if they’ve been pulled out of mylife, like those zinnia seeds in my flower bed.

. . . . and maybe they have been. . . . but if I love what those zinnia seeds stand for – then maybe. . . . just maybe. . . . I need to replant new seeds – of the same thing I’ve done over and over – and let hope and faith in a Holy Spirit rain nourish the repetitive planting of those seed dreams..

Disgruntled? Cross-eyed with frustration? Tempted to cry, “Unfair?” – You bet!

I’m learning that while seed packages have seed-time and harvest directions with 30 to 60 day results – God’s plans don’t always have such a quick turn-around – ’cause He’s growing something bigger in us than a squash, a pepper, a cosmos and a zinnia.

Dreams He planted in you and me,  before we were born do have a seed-time and harvest – but it’s all on God’s time. Just like I didn’t want to give up on my zinnias; He doesn’t want me to give up on those dreams -even if I have to do things over and over and over – and over, over, over and over some more.

Maybe my zinnia basket in August wasn’t as full as I hoped it would be – but how dear the flowers of those zinnia seeds replanted.

I could have just given up. After all, it took till almost Fall for them to bloom – the summer almost done.

. . . but I didn’t give up. . . on the dream.  I replanted, though I had to wait longer than I wanted or expected.

The zinnias brought the joy I anticipated – just like I know the dream He planted will.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)

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