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Won’t you pull up your chair, share a cup of iced ginger pear tea – and let me tell you a 5 minute story that spills over the 5 because that is just how my week is rolling. Maybe you just need the 5 – it’s marked – but I so needed the rest of the story – the encouragement. Then stop by Lisa-Jo’s for more encouragement. Maybe join in 5 minutes or more of your own on the word. . . . finish.

grandfather199My grandfather wound his way before he died of cancer, wound his way to the children’s orphanage’s gym where Mass was celebrated, this man raised Baptist – wound his way to find a chair as women in white leotards danced praise down the aisle, praise to Yahweh.

This hippie church we called it, housed in an orphanage gym while it built a glass church in the woods – He found God there, before God called him home.

During the great war, he worked at a munitions factory counties away– until his daughter was born at my great-grandmother’s farm. He quit his job then, when jobs were hard t find, missing his wife and new-born daughter – quit to be with them. His life was like that – impulsive – but loving big – big enough it spilled down into the hearts of his children and grandchildren.

grandmotherMy grandmother, at 94, her bones spent, dementia stealing the timeline of her stories, asked me one day, “Who’s baby is that?”

“Mine,” I answered.

“Who are you,” she asked – this fierce woman who made room for us when my parents divorced, who instilled that same fierceness in me, the same fight, the not-give-up-ness, this woman who made me feel beautiful inside, who sent me cards with violets because she knew I loved violets, who along with my mother and aunt, went to church every Sunday, who made sure we knew God.

Neither of them ever gave up.

Stop

Neither, for a moment, gave up on each other, on their children, on the daily. Grandfather might have bruises  under his thumb-nail bed through car-door-slamming frustration

. . . .but he never lost his smile.

“Damn you, don’t die on me now,” my uncle’s wife cried on the way home from taking my grandfather to a cancer treatment.

“I won’t,” my grandfather quipped, ever the one for a good joke and a smile. My aunt had been talking to her car as she tried to pull onto the freeway.

No, he never lost his special sense of joy-timing.

Grandmother’s strength never failed.

grandfather23Between his smiling and her never-failing, they both finished their races.  In the process – they both trained me – to not give up, to finish, to find the joy in the living of what God started before they were even born.

. . . .so when the daily doesn’t go like I want,

after slamming the door – and carrying the bruise of it, I’ll find the joy to be found in it like my grandfather – and have the strength to get through it, like my grandmother.

when my boys choose experience as the shepherd, instead of wise advise,

after slamming the door – and carrying the bruise of it, I’ll find the joy to be found in it like my grandfather – and have the strength to get through it, like my grandmother.

Scan6_2_0039_039When those around me don’t see what God sees in me and heart-dust storms are kicked up because of it,

After slamming the door – and carrying the bruise of it, I’ll find the joy to be found in it like my grandfather – and have the strength to get through it, like my grandmother.

When up is down, and right is wrong – and sure steps seem all slippery and life becomes a caricature of an Alice in Wonderland nonsensical scene,

I won’t give up – because these two people, who wound their own way to God, and pulled me along in their own way, showed me how to not haphazardly live joy and strength –but to choose to carry it all the way to the very last breath.

To love God, from the rising of the sun to its setting, either in the daily or in a life span – takes strength – and when love is involved must take joy. I want to end this story of mine not giving up on God but spilling the joy of my love of Him over onto my children and grandchildren. I want to be like in the daily right up to the end.

Joy spilled from love overflowing, faith overflowing – so that maybe when life deals them a harsh hand in the daily or the decade – these children and grandchildren will choose God’s kind of strength and joy.

Oh, yes, Let me be singing of His mighty love when the evening comes!

“From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3)

Missional Women

sparklewater2But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out”
(2 Samuel 22: 17, The Message)

We have to want to be caught – don’t we? Not catch me if you can. Not He chased me until I let him catch me. Just the kind of catching where I’m falling. Not because of sin, though maybe so. Falling because I am overcome.  In the falling, I’m calling out to Him and He saves me. Where I fall right into Him and He’s right there waiting – because He planned the saving of me even before I knew I needed saving. I want to live His kind of caught.

For more on this verse, please click here: wowed to my soul toes.

SUNDAY STILLNESS






hydrangea2012c

The blue hydrangeas,
They grew and grew and grew
Spilling across doorways and sidewalks paths –

They were ready
For a journey
hydrangeatransplatecAnd so we transplanted them around the corner,
Under the kitchen table
window. The blue hydrangeas sulked
In the newness
Wouldn’t show themselves for more seasons
than seemed
seemly.

We hoped in things we didn’t see
Watered with faith for roots
planted true

“Give it time,” my husband spoke
Beside me

“4 more weeks,” suggested the nursery man
Before it was time to give up

Until one day, just before reaching for the shovel
Just before giving up
a chopped chive-size
piece of green
stuck on what seemed
a dead stick

hydrangea 2013ccThe piece of green grew slow
Was joined by more pieces
Of green
Until it a few seasons later,
It stretched stalks of green
Just growing
Growing
Not ready
not ready yet to bloom
hydrangea2014c_edited-1Until just the right
season
When roots reach deep and the stalks
Multiplied
reach high
Little clusterbuds of no color
One day
Open blue
blooms

summerhydrangea14
You know, if we’d left that hydrangea bush by the garage door, it would have been limited, unable to reach its full potential. By transplanting it, giving it more room to grow and become, it will be more than it ever could have before. It’s been a tough transplant/journey for my hydrangea – but I live in faith of something I don’t see – that it will grow bigger, bloom more, have a greater impact – kind of like God’s plan for me and mine!

hydrangeac_edited-2More on blooming where you’re planted:

Ordinary Dreams of an Every Man

The Year of Living Shalom

sparklewater2

Challenges come that pierce the marrow of the bones of me. The vitality, the strength of myself seeps out. Like one losing too much blood, I find myself dazed, confused, wounded. For a moment, or is it  hours, I turn in circles, spending myself – until I call His name and He is there, Jehovah Shammah:

But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out”

Like the shells broken in the surf, He knows all the pieces of me to put me back together. I am awed that He reaches from the sky to the sea to pull me out. Out of all those shell pieces – only He knows the pattern of who I am, how I am designed to be. There are no missing pieces of me that He cannot find. Yes – He pulls me out

“Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,”

On our recent trip to the beach, my husband and I enjoyed a few hours each day bobbing around in the ocean, each with our own inner tubes. It all seemed so delightful until a wave crashed me and my nose into tubes_edited-3my husband’s brawny arm, resulting in a nose bleed, sore nose, lost glasses – and a lot of wobbly. My foot landed on my glasses only for the next wave to haul me up and forward – and pull the shades out right from under me.  It took me about 30 minutes to rally back – and tease my husband about popping me in the nose.

There are days that feel just like that – beat up and missing something- but instead of ocean waves and my husband’s brawny arm, it’s when nobody seems to like you. Those days when my boys don’t like me, when the driver behind me is impatient, when hospitality isn’t extended but hurt is, when everything just seems to go wrong. It’s like Chaos showed up on my day-step, like unplanned waves, show up, , shoving, crashing, stirring the pot. Chaos is like an uninvited guest who turns everything upside down,  instigating shenanigans designed to beat-up your heart.

God reaches down into the ocean of all that, tosses chaos out – and in the midst of the broken shell I am, He is right there, helping me find all the pieces of myself

“but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!”
(2 Samuel 22: 17-20)

He sticks by me, stands me up, dusts me off, on a wide-open field. A wide open field – a place of nurturing goodness given. Yes – I am still surprised to be loved like that! It’s in those drowning moments where the evidence of His love never fails to surprise me – not in a faithless way but in a whispered wow kind-of-way.

I don’t know about you, but I want to walk each day this week, wowed to my soul toes as I face these challenges, my heart wide-open to His possibilities.

lillies

”What
Messy MarriagePhotobucketBeauty in His Grip Button  photo 65f0f5f9-b796-4cfb-977e-fe63b69f9e6d.jpgkatherines cornercountingmyblessingsJoy Dare BlogMissional Women

flowersmom2cc

loving more people never resulted in less love available
live life
believe
hope fully
become a joy-seeker
even when it hurts
cries
tosses and turns
live life
loving
always loving
live life lovefully
joyfully

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Romans 15:13)

gespachocc13Saturday, I jumped in my canoe and paddled to my garden for dill. The day before, during a lull in the rain, I’d spotted my youngest one, sitting on the raised garden edges, slipping his hand into the tomatoes, chard and peppers to pinch off a few leaves of chocolate-mint and stuff it between his cheek and gum.

On Saturday’s in the summer, I make my Life-Gets-Sweeter Every Day Gazpacho – and so I’d come for dill.

The first thing I ever cooked was a prune cake in the 7th grade. By the time I graduated high school, I knew how to make Divinity, a meringue cookie, cakes, dips – and cucumber’s with vinegar, sour cream and mayonnaise.

Summer suppers tasted better with a small helping of cucumbers.

3 cucumbers, thinly sliced, sliced, not diced,
¼ tablespoon vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 (spring) green onions,
Dill
½ cup mayonnaise,
½ cup sour cream,
salt and pepper to taste

It was a beginning - this learning how to make life a bit nicer, sweeter

cucumbers

Another day, a few years later, all starry-eyed and in love with my new husband,  cucumbers nestled on a plate next to summertime tomatoes. Separate – but so close. Sometimes they both found themselves on the same fork – at the same time. Oh my! Summer Delicious!

Life’s sweetness didn’t just stop growing there. A few more years, time enough for a little boy to grow up and say, “I Do” to his sweet heart, a subtle step was taken in my life, not a leap, just a step when tomatoes fell into the cucumbers, all in a single container in order to take a bit of outside summer with me to lunch when I’d started part-time job editing for an on-line gardening company. As I said in my previous post, God never meant work to be a place where I stop finding His kind of sweet living.

dillAs sons 2 and 3 tumbled into the teen years, challenging us, stretching us – a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen kind of living – I was determined not to let my life be defined by the heart-ache in the challenge.

The bigger the challenge in the daily (see post here), the more I burrowed into Him, like St Teresa of Avila in her book Interior Castles describes – I was wandering through the 6 crystal castles, weaving my way closer and closer to the 7th castle -where He welcomed me at its steps,welcoming me with a chalice of living water,  wrapping me in His arms pulling me into His shining castle – and finding His peace – His amazing comfort – and suddenly, even in the challenge – life felt sweeter – 6 sensory sweeter – the 6th sense being a spiritual sweetness.

Just because I’ve been in the interior castle – doesn’t mean I stop wandering back out to exterior castles.

Just because I’ve been there doesn’t mean I’ve yet tasted all the sweetness He has created for me – for you.

Christ in his mercy leads me to the interior castle; my imperfect humanity finds me sometimes wandering all over the place, in the interior castle, through the rooms of the exterior castles.

Day by day, season by season, life marches onward -  2 more boy stepping toward independence, 2 others on deck. Challenges flow and ebb – moments of blessing crash against a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen moments – and life became a bit sweeter:

Honey and Cream corn, until the white corn showed itself, found it’s way into my container with the cucumbers and tomatoes.

Oh My! – the result was heartier – so much more of something than a side dish yet not a main course, not a hot soup – and as my mind reached out to place this concoction of summertime – gazpacho came into my vocabulary.

Gazpacho: a cold, summer soup

The daily has changed some out our house – only 2 fully in the nest – another half way in, one a fly by – and one fully in his own nest. The challenges are different. The stretching is different. The sweetness is there – available for the taking . Jjust like always , the choice is there to grab bitterness or sweetness.

Over Independence Day celebrations, friend sat around our table – and I passed some of this Gazpacho for them to test-taste – to see if they thought it was as delightful as I thought – had the recipe finally “arrived” – or was I just, well, nuts in the taste buds.

My friends sampled it, taste-tested it, asked for a bowl of it.

“Add an apple,” one said.

And I did. . . .add an apple, a red delicious apple.

the dish became more . . . hearty, rounded, complete – sweeter not as in sugar but as in so terribly nice.

Kind of like life – if we let it, don’t give up on it, keep adding good things to it, it just gets sweeter and sweeter, heartier, more filling, better for you. . . . in a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hope-for-evidence-of-things-not-seen- kind of way.

The more I hold on to things of Him, as we come and go, sit and stand –
The more I trust He is not surprised by teen challenges and boys-to-men dealing with growing up responsibilities
The more I see His love letters in the daily
And know He is beside me everywhere I want and don’t want to be
That He’s got my back
The sweetness into everyday rises like a fragrance
out of any situation, complex things
things that bring tears
that tear at the heart
simple things like blueberries
little boy hugs and gazpacho
It’s there
waiting to be chosen
this attitude of life getting sweeter daily


Messy Marriage  photo 65f0f5f9-b796-4cfb-977e-fe63b69f9e6d.jpgkatherines cornercountingmyblessingsBy BannerFans.com Faith Along the Way

hydrangeac_edited-2

Summertime at the pool growing up consisted of diving, racing and breath-holding. Diving, I wasn’t so good at diving, but the backstroke and breath-holding – I could give anyone a run for their money.

Breath-holding in competition might not be such a bad thing, but living breath-holding, well, it just about sucked all the good things in life right out of it.

I was living through challenges like I was holding my breath under water, pausing all living but the challenge. I assured myself I would breathe again when the challenge was resolved and tidily put behind me. Only then would I break through the surface into the figurative sunshine to gulp the fresh, summertime air.

It’s lonely there, under the water, counting the seconds till I felt my lungs would burst. It’s also isolating counting the seconds, focusing every thought on the right-now challenge.

Living life waiting to exhale is no way to live.

I’m still learning.

Some were sweet lessons like nine months of learning to live in  the wait of each son born.

Some learning to exhale lessons were a mixture of sweet and soul-sweat: 12 years for each boy to graduate high school – and learning to breathe through each individual academic, social and behavorial challenge – big and little, little and big.

The hard challenges, though, the hands-off challenges of parenting, where independence claims our children, where some are designed to learn through experience – or as one son described this independence-on-training wheels to no-training wheels:

“I took my independence on scoop at a time. He took it in one truck load.”

I cannot live my life holding my breath or watch my sons live their lives holding my breath.

One cannot live God’s plan holding their breath.

Faith means exhaling, to continue breathing while something as simple as a pot works on boiling or a child growing lives free-will.

I once shared office space with a professor who taught Tolkien. Waiting for students to come see us during office hours, we talked literature, students – and life.

“Breathe in, ‘Lord Jesus Christ,’” he coached. “Breathe out,’Have mercy on me.’”

. . . . and so I breath in “Lord Jesus Christ:

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4)

and I exhale, “Have mercy on me. . .”

. . . . and He does.

Most days, I’m a fighter – and so I fight to live life exhaling. In the midst of a challenge, I find Him in a cup of Kiwi Lime Ginger tea, sink deep into my grandfather’s chair

breathing in, “Lord Jesus Christ”

breathing out, “Have mercy on me.”

- and maybe read a bit or knit, rearrange my garden – cut some lavender, hydrangea and bergamont,

breathing in, “Lord Jesus Christ”

breathing out, “Have mercy on me.”

cook some lemon curd or summertime gazpacho – and invite God to join me in all of it, steeping His goodness into my life.

breathing in, “Lord Jesus Christ”

breathing out, “Have mercy on me.”

I give Him the challenge – and right there the answer is assured, though I don’t know sometimes what the answer will look like. I can stop counting the minutes until resolution. I can exhale.

“But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding” (Job 32:8)

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