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The lilacs, then the lilies, followed by the snowballs, and now come the peonies. My yard is starting have blossoms somewhere all summer long. That consistency is not a result of knowledge. Home’s backyard is a happenstance resulting from following my heart in a one-step-at-a-time planting over 10 years.

This planting has taught me much about the hope and faith journey of a prayer sent out – how to live fully in the daily until that prayer returns home answered.

Today is my seven year blogaversary. I am still that stick that will not be broken, though as my boys have grown older they seem to think I am more fragile than I believe I am. On a hiking trip in the Smokey Mountains, they weren’t comfortable with me lagging behind taking photos. They started tag-teaming who would stay behind with me. I learned I don’t like being treated like I’m fragile; however, their efforts were a sweet hug from a bunch of boys who still like me to pour them a glass of milk “because it just tastes so much better if mamma does it.”

Each year of this blogging seems to have brought with it a change to my story – inside and out. The challenges change, too. However, God’s faithfulness in his love for me, his saving grace and redemption of my daily haven’t changed; it has only become more revealed.

He’s not surprised how I learn – the quickness of picking up on some things and the slowness of learning other things. He put in my heart the admiration and desire of each flower in my backyard – some because of their story, some because looking at them made my heart happy.

I had to scrape and dig into the red Tennessee clay, mix with rich dirt and manure along the house, the back edges of my yard, spots for Leland pines, hollies, lilacs, snowballs, butterfly bushes, crepe myrtles. Every summer I reseed the zinnias.

He dropped an idea into my heart – and plant by plant – not really seeing the long-term vision of a yard blooming some kind of blossom all spring and summer long, not really seeing me learning how to live blessing in the midst of the challenges consistently – like my yard, I am getting there. Not through any intentional design on my part, but walking with him in faith and hope one step at a time.

Just like each child he sent us – child by child – not really seeing the long-term vision of each son growing, not really knowing how to live blessing in the midst of the parenting challenges consistently, but walking with him in faith and hope one step at a time.

Gardening is so very much like parenting, even marriage.

Yes, I am still a stick that will not be broken. It’s not because I am strong or resilient. I don’t have access to anything any different than you or my neighbor. It’s more about understanding and believing in whose I am than putting any stock into who I am.

Seven years in the blogahood? It has been a delightful, encouragement-filled place to be, and I am so glad that I came – one blog post at a time.

http://www.barbieswihart.com/     The Weekend Brew
http://seespeakhearmama.com/     Give Me Grace
http://www.janiscox.com/        Sunday Stillness
http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/     Small Wonder (formerly Unforced Rhythms)
http://lauraboggess.com/  PlayDates with God
http://www.blessedbutstressed.com/   Inspire Me Mondays
http://darlingdownsdiaries.com/     Good Morning Mondays
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/    Sharing His Beauty
http://whatjoyismine.net/     Monday Musings
http://www.shelivesfree.com/blog     Make a Difference Mondays
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/     Testimony Tuesday

 

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“Every house should have a cat, not only to add to its dignity, but to mentor its owners in the grace of comfortable repose” ~ Blue Cotton Memory

For the very first time since I became a mom almost 30 years ago, I haven’t every had a week where I’ve done nothing but rested. Vacations are wonderful, but as most of you know from experience, vacation with family is still work – making breakfast, pouring milk, cleaning up, washing and drying beach towels – and all that stuff. It’s just home work moved somewhere with a beach view.

The last two weeks, though, I couldn’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I had to rest if I got tired.

I planned ahead for this rest. My vegetables and herbs were planted. The flower garden was put in order, and my zinnia seeds tucked into the ground. The hammock was hung, the outside umbrella put up, the outdoor cushions cleaned, porch swept. I ordered books – not books that really made me think – but books like D E Stevenson where, according to many reviewers “nothing really happens” – and my favorite teas.

And then I did nothing but read, drink tea, rest.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

One of my sweet daughter-in-laws brought dinner one night. Toward the end of the first week, one son’s friend wanted cooking lessons on how to make my chimichangas, so I sat at the counter while he cooked.

. . . . and then two days ago I made beef stew and the aroma of home reached into the boys’ rooms, hinting of good things to come.

I’ve listened to the rain, the spring breeze in the morning sunshine. I’ve watched my spiderswort open in the morning and close at 5 p.m. The peonies are opening, and the hydrangea bush we’d transplanted in 2011 and almost didn’t make is full, ready to bloom beautiful blue soon. The zinnias seeds are about two inches above the dirt. The birds and their babies are settled in to their routine – and their songs surround my home.

I’ve stretched myself to walk the length of the soccer fields – because our season hasn’t ended. No camera – just watching. The summer holiday began yesterday for my boys – but the soccer season isn’t over – and each game, I’m there – just watching and enjoying.

 

I needed this pause. I’d been feeling for quite some time that I just needed a stop, a rest, a grace-filled pause (not at all like the pause I had when I was hospitalized with pneumonia in February). This is a pause where I’ve been able to just breathe.

In this pause, the boys stop, sit a spell, and talk. They paused because I paused.

In this pause, I’ve untangled my humor, my laugh, my pluck from a strangling vine of sluggish exhaustion.

There’s always a silver lining to a cloud – this pause, this breathing, this stopping and steeping in graceful repose was the silver lining to this surgery I had two weeks ago.

One of the things I’ve always admired about cats is how they manage to find the best resting places – and stretch themselves out or curl themselves up – always graceful in their repose, never any rush or work-ethic guilt. Maybe that’s why God created them – to show us how to gracefully pause in a savoring, stretching kind of way.

I want to weave that into my daily – this graceful repose, this learning how to stop – to pause in the swift current of the daily.

At my check up the doctor released me to lift that gallon of milk.The boys are so relieved. I’m thankful for the lesson.

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http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
http://mydailywalkinhisgrace.blogspot.com/ My Daily Walk in His Grace
http://3dlessons4life.com/     Thought-Provoking Thursday

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“The hardest parenting moments are the letting-go moments because sometimes the view from where we’re standing just doesn’t appear sustainable, make sense or , so to speak, fly. But when we let go and let God – it becomes so much easier to stand on the sidelines as they learn to soar” ~ Blue Cotton Memory

 

3cups2c_edited-1Sometimes – no, not just sometimes. Always! Always God leaves the ingredients for us to build a 3-corded blessing – with what’s right at our fingertips- as simple as flowers, books, and a quiet room. It’s up to me – and you – to pull those threads out of our day and braid them for a strong remembrance. These were mine this last week.

a bird call, one of my boys asking me about APA citation, my husband home from China

snowball blossoms falling in a spring wind, ice in a glass of tea, another son smiling as we exchange words in passing

seeing cousins too long not seen at  a wedding, sitting over lunch talking with my aunt, bearded iris yellow, purple and white – starts from her garden.

a tall son reaching cabinet tops, rain on hungry dirt, green leaves to soften the breeze

oil from the holy land mixed with a prayer, a thousand years at sunrise, a bag of Godiva chocolates

clear ice water with lemon, humming birds visiting on the patio, a boy doing school work  in the quiet, thinking room

a photo capturing what I felt when I saw, my kitchen table uncluttered, a moment out of an entire day going just as I hoped

Can you make a 3-corded blessing out of what He leaves you today?

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http://www.blessedbutstressed.com/   Inspire Me Mondays
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/    Sharing His Beauty
http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/     Small Wonder (formerly Unforced Rhythms)
http://donnareidland.com   Mondays @ Soul Survival
On Tuesday:
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/     Testimony Tuesday
On Wednesday:
http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage
http://www.juanamikels.com/     Wednesday Prayer Girls
http://www.kristinhilltaylor.com/     Three-Word Wednesday
http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart
http://jenniferdukeslee.com/     Tell His Story
http://meredithbernard.com/   W2W Wednesdays
http://womenwithintention.com/    Women with Intention
http://mydailywalkinhisgrace.blogspot.com/ My Daily Walk in His Grace

 

whitehouse215_edited-1(Today just felt like retelling a story that brings joy to my heart. I’m still here – I’m just in a quiet season right now, where the words are few. It’s like I’m steeping in something new. I can’t put words to it, but I know at the right time, He will give me the words.)

The little years seem like once-upon-a-time ago – but it was once upon a time in the little years, when a little boy wanted to run away. He didn’t like his new room in the new house built in the woods near the creek. He missed his raspberry sorbet room with the blue and white ticking in the suburbs. The joyful little boy had misplaced his joy in the move and wanted to run away, back to the suburbs  – so he did.

His bigger brother still little came running into the kitchen while their mama stirred a pot of something good, holding a littlest on her hip.

“Mama, he’s run away,” said the bigger brother.

“Let me know when he goes past Ms. Judy’s mailbox,” she said, stirring the pot, soothing the baby.

“But, Mama,” he stammered, unbelieving (because, he just knew, that if it was him, he’d go beyond the mailbox).

“Just let me know when he goes past Ms. Judy’s mailbox,” said the mama.

Every 5 minutes, the bigger brother came back, flummoxed why his mama hadn’t flown outside to save his brother.

“Where is he?” she asked.

“At Ms. Judy’s mailbox.”

The little boy who’d misplaced his joy never went beyond the mailbox. His mama knew he wouldn’t. However, she knew the one who so worried about him, she knew that if he took it into his head to run away, he’d be down the road, onto the highway and halfway to where-ever he wanted to go before anybody knew.

That night, when the moon came out, the boys were tucked into their beds all snug, bedtime stories read, songs sung and prayers said – and all the hearts and minds that lived in the new little house in the woods near the creek slept in peace.

A few years later, when the little boys grew long legs that stretched for independence – the bigger one did leave home before he was really ready. The little brother who’d once misplaced his joy cried at his leaving and blamed his mama, not understanding. The bigger brother, he went past the mailbox about 4 times, and 4 times his mama found him, brought him back, knowing he wasn’t ready yet. Until one time, he packed all that was important to him and left, right after graduation.

The mama, she didn’t go get him. She stirred over the pots in the kitchen, matched socks, shook out the rugs. At night, she tucked the littlest ones in bed – because there were more little ones then. She read bedtime stories, sang songs and said bed-time prayers – and all the hearts and minds that lived in the growing older house in the woods tried to sleep in peace.

While the mama stirred those pots, though, she prayed. God knew what her son needed. She asked that God help her. Then she asked that God stand with her. Then she asked that God would help her let go and let Him help her son.

Some time later, her son walked through the back door of the growing older house on the edge of the woods, realizing that where he had been was not where he needed to be. As he grew stronger, he prepared to leave again, this time with a proper packing and a proper farewell, on a journey that took him closer to God and closer to God’s plan for His life.

As all the littles grew, the joyful one misplaced his joy again, misplaced who he was to God and to the family. One day, he packed his treasures, a table and a bed – and moved to a place he didn’t need to be.

The older brother, who’d so worried about him all those many years ago, who’d say, ‘Mama – aren’t you going to fetch him home,” who thought he’d go past Ms Judy’s mailbox, had found his bearings and in the finding made a home near the little house in the woods – he came to his mother, worrying, “Tell him to come home, Mom. He doesn’t need to be there.”

His mother stood in the kitchen, stirring a pot of something good, looked up at him, this boy who towered over her now, gave him a wry smile that contained sadness for the one who’d left and joy for the one who’d returned, saying, “Remember when you left? Telling you that you needed to come home only made you stay longer. The less I say, the sooner he will be home.”

The brother who’d lost his joy for a while, misplaced who he was to God and his family – one day, he remembered, and in the remembering, came home to the growing old house at the edge of the woods with his treasures, his table, and a bed.

In the growing older house in the woods by the creek, he grew stronger, reclaimed a bit of his joy and who He was to God and his family. Refreshed, he started hearing the call of the Father – until one day, he properly packed a bag, received a proper farewell, and set out on a journey past Ms. Judy’s mailbox on a God-designed journey just for him.

The Story after the Story

Some children launch by the book – and other children launch by, well, the other book – the one we don’t want to buy, the story we don’t want to read. It’s the hard story. It’s the story full of heart-aches so deep you know your soul has toes – it’s that deep.  It’s also a faith story, a story of redemption. It’s the dirt, grit and grime of the story that nobody wants to touch. A lot of people might want to talk about it – but they don’t want to touch it – with their hearts, with their prayer, with their faith.

It’s the dirt of rebellion, the grit of selfishness and the grime of sin that Salvation leaned down into, grabbed it by the filthy arms and pulled it up, took it on a journey, journeying along, and in the journeying along, washed the stains, the filth, the grit away. Salvation fixed the brokenness, both deserved and undeserved – until, somewhere in the journey, a new man was born again.

Sometimes, this happens because a mama somewhere loved enough to let go – and let God.

Think of Hannah who took an itty bitty Samuel to the temple, and let go of his hand – and let God.

Think of Manoah’s wife had to let go of a rebellious son – and let God redeem him.

and Jochebed who let go of the bulrush basket holding her son – and let God.

or Rebekah who stirred up a mess and sent Jacob away from home, who let go – and let God.

Today, I want to pray for those mama’s, whose children are taking the hard way. I want to pray that God bring them a peace beyond understanding that He’s got this. This is His job now – what He does best – work His saving grace in places we cannot.

I pray that in the letting go, you don’t feel as if you given up, quit before the job is done, didn’t love enough. I pray that you see that you love enough to let God, that you didn’t quit – just that your task is complete. For now, you’ve done what you’re supposed to do. Now it’s time to let God.

I pray that you realize the greatest love we can give someone is to sometimes let them go – even into uncomfortable situations.  I pray that when you wrestle with trusting God that His determination to save your child is greater than the devil’s determination to destroy your child – I pray that you tell God you’re struggling with this trusting and believing because sometimes the right-now really hurts, really doesn’t look like it can come about right. He won’t get mad or be disappointed. He’ll love on you, comfort you. I pray that you ask Him to stand with you, to hold you close – because He is the kind of God that can save another while holding you, too.

I pray that you have dreams of salvation coming instead of nightmares. I pray that you find God messages in the daily, of God’s sweet encouragement that He has joy planned for you – and for the ones you love. I pray that He give you glimpses of who He created your child to be.

I pray that He surround you with people who believe that God’s got this – and I pray that He will surround you and your child with people who pray faith, pray love, pray hope until both you and your child are stirred in it, simmering in it, suffused with it, like a pot of good things on a loving mama’s stove-top.

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“Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life!
Don’t be frightened like that.
Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee,
and that I’ll meet them there”
(Matthew 28:10)

A little over a month ago, I was hospitalized for bi-lateral pneumonia. I’d been misdiagnosed for over a week. There are only a few times in my life, when I look back, where remembrance is misted in darkness and pain. The first was the week after the crash c-section when my 4th son was born (which caused me to work closely with the doctor when the 5th was born regarding pain management) – and the second was the 6 days before I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

Most of those 5 days were spent on the couch. I couldn’t breath without coughing, and, since I couldn’t breath without coughing, I couldn’t talk.

The day before I went into the hospital, my youngest son said, “Just one word, Mom – say just one word, and I’ll snuggle on the couch with you for two minutes. Two Minutes!”

I sat there on the couch, knowing what that one word would cost me physically, not wanting to say that one word, but wanting a hug from my son so much more than the pain and discomfort.

I finally got that one word out. I don’t remember what it was. I just remember my saucy son saying, “Oh, Dude! I didn’t see that coming.”

Then I wanted to laugh. He tried to back out of the agreement. Fortune smiled on him; Because I couldn’t talk, the lecture on the importance of keeping an agreement was left unspoken.

My husband, who has said before that if I’m not talking, I must be in distress, was wanting the sign language to stop. He missed the words, too.

That they missed the words surprised me – warmed me, too.

When I was admitted to the hospital, I had a high fever, 3/4 of my lungs were filled, and my blood pressure was 85/45. My family practitioner said that I would have been in ICU if I’d been admitted 2 days later.

I was only in for 2 days, but it took me two weeks to rebuild strength to walk around the block once. It took me 4 weeks to pull out my camera. It’s taken 6 weeks for the words to come, though there’s so many things I’ve wanted to share and say.

It’s soccer season for my two youngest – and so, instead of writing, I’ve been rebuilding strength, finding home under the mess that accumulated in all this, and stepping fully back into all those roles within my family – but always looking for the blessings – even when I was sick, on the couch. I was looking for those love letters God sends in the daily.

The Easter season was unstructured – and I found my Holy Week starting Easter Weekend – and lasting through the next week. We spent long Easter weekend in a cabin, with 5 out of 4 sons and our newest daughter-in-law. She cooked the most delicious French Toast for breakfast!

I went on a 4 mile hike that day – and the boys – well, they were tag-teaming walking behind me, like they thought they were going to lose me. There’s nothing more irritating than someone who thinks you can’t do something, so I found myself somewhat warmly bemused.

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I had my camera with me – and kept encouraging them to go on, telling them that I enjoyed just taking photos and doing this hike at my own pace – but they had none of that! I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of collies – and I was the one sheep they were in charge of! I guess this is one way sons hug.

Later we drove to Clingman’s Dome – a 6,643 foot elevation. No sunshine. Just a heavy, wet mist, like the clouds had fallen out of the sky onto the mountain and spilled everywhere. The boys and my husband walked the half a mile to the lookout. I took 5 steps – and felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest – so I stayed back, took photos – and discovered the blessing in the chilled mist. There are the beautiful things in sweet blessings to be vintaged in the overcast moments, even in unlikely things like moss and algae growing on a tree.

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At the cabin, in a swing, I listened to the voices of children playing at other cabins I couldn’t see, listened to the buzz of plump bumblebees looking to bore holes, clouds like smoke on the mountains, the hollow knock knock knock of the wood pecker, cardinal calls, tree frogs emerging to sing their night-time jazz, and steeped myself in the resurrection story.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna (Joanna, wife of Chuza, a steward in Herod’s household, who had been healed by Jesus), Salome (the wife of Zebedee, mother of James and John, possible the sister of Mary) – these women set out early Sunday morning to Christ’s tomb. Instead of finding hopelessness and death, they find resurrection hope.

Jesus tells them,

Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life!
Don’t be frightened like that.
Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee,
and that I’ll meet them there” (Matthew 28:10).

“Meet me in Galilee” was like a song I couldn’t get out of my head.

Meet me in Galilee
those who came to the tomb were told.

Meet me in Galilee
he said – and tell our friends

Meet me in Galilee
Don’t despair – all is not lost – it’s all been won

Meet me in Galilee
there is so much more

Meet me in Galilee
it’s just the beginning.

Meet me in Galilee is where he is,
and anytime I draw close, he is there.

He meets me in the overcast moments, whether I’m bent over coughing my insides out, whether I’m shivering on the side of a soccer field, or too weak to climb higher on a misty mountain.

He meets me in the wait of a prayer sent out, in a good-news moment, in the freeze of a teen grump, even the pile of unmatched socks.

He meets me in my gracelessness, when I’m steeped in a give-up minute, when I’ve lost my direction (not my faith – just the direction).

Not only does he meet me, but he encourages me that there is so much more in this journey – so much more to this living with him in it that will amaze me, humble me, fire me up with his love for me, a love that needs to be shared and given to others.

Meet me in Galilee, he says. Friend, won’t you meet him in Galilee, too.

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http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage

http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart
http://3dlessons4life.com/     Thought-Provoking Thursday
http://arabahjoy.com     Grace and Truth
http://www.barbieswihart.com/     The Weekend Brew
http://faith.5minutesformom.com/     Faith ‘N Friends
http://sandraheskaking.com/     Still Saturday

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Christ’s nails and crown
in dogwood petals can be found

Yahweh in treetops tall and fallen twigs
Holy Praise in limbs raised high
in forest, cowpaths, roadside, and gardens
beneath a God-designed sky

In rain come down, washing away
dirt and grime, a Holy Spirit Baptism
immersing. seeping deep to grow
roots to bloom and in the blooming
reseed

Doves on a wire, robins and sparrows
amidst mocking birds and jays
twigs, leaves and feathers in nests,
calling, sunrise to sundown
“Precious! Precious! Are you to Elohim”
precious down to a every whisker and tendril

Water dripping into cisterns, barrels and birdbaths
just like tears and their stories
collected in God-made
bottles and books
drip drip dripping and in the dripping remind
to not forget
that He doesn’t

Seeds and Seasons,
winter and fall, death, dying, darkness and challenge
spring and summer, rebirth, reseeding, hope and faith
That sometimes, like hydrangeas replanted,
we don’t see the saving evidence in the wait
of a prayer sent out
taking a longer turn of time than we’d like

tulipcup_edited-1Even the bitter cold of a winter ice storm
breaking electric lines
removing security’s warmth
followed by snow
covering roads unable to bring help in
or allowing initiative to find a way out
because sometime God wants us in our helplessness
to trust Him
let Him

A bitter cold where even left-overs
like the brittle samara house of a tulip poplar
resembling a golden chalice, the Holy Grail,
holds redemption’s message
reminding of salvation walking
sitting down, breaking bread
passing around the cup
of the new covenant
born out of the pure sacrifice
of God made man
pouring out his life
in saving grace
for every man, woman
every boy and girl
a cuppa salvation
offered to every
you and me

Messages designed before
Adam and Even
these messages a loving God wrote
for you and me
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“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28)

“He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you'” (Luke 22: 20).

Salvation – “the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness. This is the great salvation” – 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own (2 Cor 5: 14-15)

Thanks to Jennifer Dukes Lee who wrote about the Yahwehs all around!It as enriched my walk about time!

http://3dlessons4life.com/ Thought-Provoking Thursday
http://arabahjoy.com Grace and Truth
http://www.barbieswihart.com/ The Weekend Brew
http://faith.5minutesformom.com/ Faith ‘N Friends
http://sandraheskaking.com/ Still Saturday

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