Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category


“‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’And she answered, ‘All is well’” ~ 2 Kings 4:26.

72 days into 2019 – 7 days of doctor visits, pre-surgery testing, 2 surgeries, 3 hospital stays totalling 14 days. There has not been much Everyday Ordinary. . . . , but there have been miracles, stunning displays of God’s timing, and God with us . . . . and such a story to tell – of what God has done for my husband,  for the desires of my heart, for my family, but the telling of that is not for today (but soon – and if you didn’t know, it’s o.k. because only a handful did because we focused on God throughout the journey). Today is for the Blessing of the Everyday Ordinary.

My youngest, the saucy one, he’s a senior this year. His soccer season started about a week ago. Home is mama cooking, as he calls it, “The good stuff.” I remember baking my granola bars two weeks ago. I’d even made my Chicken Noodle Soup and Grilled Cheese – was it about 10 days ago? Even a Chicken Piccata. But there wasn’t any consistency. No Everyday Ordinary.

He’d tell you I hadn’t been cooking at all. He even used my Instagram account to prove I hadn’t been cooking: “Where’s the pictures, Mom?”

Moving out of A Time of Great Challenge back into The Everyday Ordinary, God knew I’d need some help with the transition.

The youngest, somewhere in 2019, woke up wanting to eat Banana Pudding. Maybe it’s his taste buds maturing. Maybe it’s because it’s his dad’s favorite. Regardless of the reason, just because he asked, I bought all the ingredients, but I just couldn’t seem to get the timing right.

“Today Mom?” he’d ask.
“No, not today,” I answered, eyeing him. “Someone ate the vanilla wafers.”

“Now Mom?” he asked another time.
“No, someone at the bananas.”

“Banana Pudding, Mom?” a third time.
“Milks all gone.”

He wasn’t used to this kind of project fail from his mom, so he determined I needed coaching,  his own special, saucy brand of coaching – a lot of verbal sauce with a hug thrown in to get me to cross the finish line – really, to help me cross over into Everyday Ordinary – and I couldn’t resist his entreaties, so I promised, “Tomorrow” – and yesterday I did. He even offered to help me so he could learn.

When I tried to get by with just one box of instant vanilla pudding (because that’s how my husband’s mama made it – so that’s the way I make it), he made sure I pushed through and used both boxes: “No slackin’ Mom.”  A few layers later, my husband walked through the kitchen, checked out my progress, “Yes,” I answered before he even asked. “Meringue on top just like your mom made.”

Whew! I was being hen-pecked in my kitchen. . . . I loved every minute of it, every minute of this special brand of Everyday Ordinary that is Home to all of us at the Blue Cotton House. Apparently, they needed the Everyday Ordinary I’d cultivated for over 36 years just as much as I did.

When I set the Banana Pudding on the counter, if I had doubted that I was back in Everyday Ordinary, I knew, when, instead of admiring how beautiful it looked, the youngest asked, “What’s for dinner?”

I was ahead of him this time because I’d been planning on putting a new spin on an old favorite recipe.

Monday I had cooked my Muddy Cheese Steaks with green beans and salad, yesterday was grilled ham and cheese because of an away soccer game, but last night – last night we experienced the grace, the extravagant beauty of finally moving into the Everyday Ordinary, where we sat around the counter eating, talking, friends coming in, sharing a bowl, followed by a mile walk in a early spring trying to blow winter out.

God knows! He know sometimes we need being sauced back into shape, sometimes we need someone cooking “the good stuff,” and sometimes, we need the “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” that allows God to work his miracles in our lives, and we need the rhythm of The Everyday Ordinary, with its God-designed blessings and grace,  to come home to after the challenge has been redeemed.

Chicken, Pancetta, Lemon and Garlic Pasta


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Package Capellini Angel Hair Pasta Nests
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 cup whipping cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese


In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat butter and Olive Oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and diced pancetta, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic. Add the chicken, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the cream and heat through. Season with salt to taste.

While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions.

Layer with pasta nest, chicken and sauce, pepper and sprinkle with parmesan.

* * *

One of the scriptures my husband would recite each time before he went under anesthesia and when he came out:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6: 24-26

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Livin’ the dream? Or are you making room for your dream in the everyday living? Or is the everyday living squeezing out your dream?

When the everyday living isn’t always comfortable, controllable and bears no resemblance to the dream – are you living – really living?

Are you living life all day long? Or do you stop when you clock in for the daily grind and start when you clock out?

Whose time clock are you living life on?

splashLast week, as I was tubing – a day where I squeezed some dream into the daily, – I was tubing with my youngest – and I have decided that there ought to be an Olympic Wrestling event while tubing – well, my youngest, the saucy, industrial artist tried with all his 12 year old might to. . . push me off the tube. Mama’s still got game, though.

Everyday life, the daily life is kind of like that – but without the big grin – it wants nothing better than to push the dream off the daily.

In those moments where the dream is center stage – it’s easy to live faith and hope – to live grace – It’s easy to vintage the blessing – and savor every moment, every detail and sigh from the tips of your soul, “Thank you, God.”

My words, my out-reach, my attitude, my face smiles.

It’s easy to sing:

”So I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all

So I’ll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours”
~Hillsong United, The Stand

Arms high and heart abandoned. . . . All I am is yours

All I am is yours – and fully in the livin’ the dream moments

But maybe more importantly, in the daily moments where sometimes nothing of the dream fits in or shows itself –

maybe arms high and heart abandoned – All I am is Yours – needs to be in the daily – desperately needs to be in the daily

Whether it is in the car line, the lunch line, the office or kitchen, or cleaning up messes somebody else made, maybe even dog messes – when you’re not where you want to be, when no one will give you a chance or a raise or maybe even a job – or maybe you have a job and just want to be home.

But you’re where God has you right now
in the daily where it doesn’t feel like the dream
Doesn’t look like the dream
Maybe it doesn’t even sound like the dream

If “All I am is Yours”
I need to stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all” – I need to do it in the daily

centerhill12kI need to look for Him, reach for Him
Live the daily – every second – the good, the bad, the ugly of the daily
And find Him in it
And when I find Him
My words, my attitude, my out-reach, my face smiles

If I live arms high and heart abandoned
the clock doesn’t determine when the good life starts and ends
9 to 5 and 5 to 9 possess equal value

And the daily becomes not a grind
but becomes sacred and holy
So much more sacred and holy
Than maybe even the dream moments

and from the tips of my soul, I whisper,

“Thank you, God.”

Still counting God’s blessing with Ann at a Holy Experience – it helps me find holiness in the daily.

  1. that God gave man the idea to create antibiotics – so when a brown recluse bit my 18 year old at a friend’s house – he would be o.k.
  2. post-it notes that remind me to pray
  3. a co-worker who makes coffee every morning (we both bring the coffee;she makes it)
  4. face-splitting, ear-to-ear smiles of 3 of my boys the day before the 4th
  5. the rain holding back for a day – for a much needed dream moment
  6. the spirit to hoist myself on that tube behind the pontoon
  7. and not give up
  8. my 18 year old, coming into our room that night, saying, “Thank you for taking me out there today.”
  9. quiet, beautiful quiet
  10. friends around the dinner table, celebration freedom and friendship
  11. tasty dishes friends bring to dinner
  12. squirrels outside my work window
  13. rain, reigning us all in, keeping us close
  14. sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee watching the rain
  15. listening to the birds in the lull
  16. watching my littlest sitting on the raised garden bed, pinching a bit of chocolate mint to chew on
  17. listening to my littlest mimic turtle dove calls outside
  18. farmer’s market Saturday mornings with my husband
  19. life-just-gets-sweet gespacho
  20. zinnias blooming
  21. praise and worship on Sunday morning
  22. blueberry picking on Sunday and the message those blueberries gave me

The Father, He gives us so much around us – the zinnias, the blueberries, tables to sit around with friends – thank-yous -there is so much in the daily – so many blessings He gives us throughout each day – oh, how I want to live arms high and heart abandoned – until all I am is His – every part of my every day.

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Sadie and Her Moose

It’s a big week here – one boy with a collar bone broken from wrestling with friends, one graduating from high school – and lots of sweetness inbetween like. . . .

high school soccer games in the evenings (District Game tomorrow night)
sitting with moms I’ve sat with for years
in fold-out canvas chairs

sunlight spilling on my porch,
purple, lavender and orange sherbet johnny-jump-ups
raising their face petals in greeting

hydrangea, butterfly bushes, blue buttons
spiders-knots, zinnia, poppy and daisy shoots
stretching upward, green-ward
something beautiful

“Look at the robin’s egg blue sky,” I told my son with the broken collar-bone,
on the way home from the doctor. I’m avoiding bumps and pot-holes, but what mom can avoid all of them, on the road, in our talks, in the living.” “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“You know – the sky’s not really blue,” He says, and we look at each other.

“What about the fluffy clouds,” I counter, floating across the sky.

“Clouds are just water,” he says, a smile hovering, not quite wanting to show itself.

As the car climbs up the hill, past the water tower, I smile right back at him – one eye on the road, one on him, “But God didn’t make ugly water towers to hold rain – He made clouds to hold water – How awesome is that!”

Two red birds stood together in my yard, near the butterfly bush. A cardinal splashed in my bird bath, flinging water droplets onto my zinnias shoots.

A tiramisu trifle is half-eaten in the fridge, just waiting for one of the boys to stop by and finish it off. A few left over pieces of grilled zucchini with rotel diced tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and garlic are sealed in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.

Better Boys and German pinks sit on the porch waiting to be planted, along with dill, jalapenos and cucumbers.

A volunteer carrot and chard are waiting for dinner Friday night – volunteers from last years garden.

Sadie, she’s learning to sit and stay, to ring the bell on the door to go outside, to find snuggly places for cat naps.

Coffee in the pot at 5 p.m. – and my boys milling about – coming in the back door, going out. My sweet Mother-in-Law here for the week.

The sweetness between brokenness and soaring

A little healing, a releasing to soar, family gathering together to celebrate

It’s a Blessings-and-Faith kind of week – filled with things that need to be savored.


Still counting gifts – 1001- 1034

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Will you make me an apple pie,” the son asked, all 6-ft 5-inch who has grown so much this year – the man-soul over-taking the boy-soul and filling up the skin and bones of him.

It was 11 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. I’d just put 2 Normandy Pies in the oven. Savory green-beans simmered, potatoes waited in the fridge for oven-time along with the oysters. and the roast beef – yes, we had roast beef instead of the traditional turkey.
I eyed the 3 gala apples, 3 granny smith apples and 3 red delicious apples on the counter, waiting to be pealed, sliced and spiced into baked apples. I’ve only ever made one apple pie before – I made my second one last Thursday.

Some things are worth doing and need doing for a son’s smile.

Only 4 of 5 sons made it home for Thanksgiving but one of my very favorite nephews joined us – which made our holiday so much more wonderful.

Yet there was chess playing, football watching, laughter – lots of laughter, lots of talking – not about big things, just Thanksgiving Day, hanging out dialogue. Nice sounds. . .Happy Sounds. . . Answered Prayer sounds.

We played our Cracker Barrel Thankful game at the dinner table to much moaning. Everyone wrote down their “thankful fors” and then we had to guess who wrote it.

Friday morning, I drove hours away to visit my aunt and prepare another Thanksgiving dinner for Saturday. The blessings wasn’t in the turkey, the oysters (yes, again), the jam cake and Kentucky silk pie – it was in the preparing. The blessing was in the together of peeling and slicing of apples, in the odds and ends talking, the planning and the quiet of just the two of us preparing.

There was blessing in a walk in the park where He pointed out the squirrel and bird nests.

There was blessing in the arrival of my husband and the boys to help my aunt prepare for Christmas – an afternoon of setting out the lights, boys climbing trees, leaves crunching, a Christmas Tree set in the entry hall, boxes of ornaments brought up, snowmen decorations hung on the garden gate – it has become a tradition helping my aunt get ready for the Christmas season.

And then we had another Thanksgiving – only 3 sons here for this one – but how sweet it was, filled with different types of blessings given and taken.

Then, there was the blessing of going home – one son riding with me – a one-on-one time, a sharing-no-distraction 3 1/2 hours of mom-son time.

Yeah, I’m a little worn out – but worn out with living the good stuff – the being-together stuff – and am so glad I choose to find His blessings in it all.

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (Luke 6:38, The Message)
Blessings 904 – 921 listed above.
922) Sons laughing
923) Surprise visit and grandbaby girl pulling up, crawling to my knees as I sat on the ground and pulling up
924) Hair cuts revealing eyebrows, eyes – that the boys were glad for it
925) knitting rows on a hat gift
926) Faith in the big and little things, even though my heart might try to race away with the living of it
927) a husband who holds me through the challenging moments
928) boys over-coming challenges in school
929) which results in smiling and resurging confidence
930) listening to cirrus cloud facts over the counter while I cook dinner
931) the 3rd senior paper turned in; two more to go
932) Loving a Father God who wants me to ask and wants to answer

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“For you meet him with the blessings of goodness”(Psalm 21:3a)

To meet: To come together, approaching in opposite or different directions; to come face to face; as, to meet a man in the road.

To come together in any place

I took a walk as the sun set a few days ago – a flaming fuscia, tangerine and lemon sunset that fell across neighborhood leaves sparking a metalic hue, and in the falling, the sunshine fell into a sprinkler.

He met me there, in my walk, bringing me the beauty of the sunset. God met me there, not to solve a big problem, not to save me from distress – just to meet me there and walk together.

blessings of goodness

As I walked into work, beneath oak trees, squirrel nests and the sharp cool of a Fall morning – I saw acorns lying beneath leaves, under the edges of greenery.

He met me there – and as a reminder of our meeting, His blessings, I picked up 5 acorns, symbolizing the 5 sons He gave me.

blessings of goodness

Pear Tree Seeds

Sometimes, things like folding laundry, making cupcakes, lighting candles, knitting a few rows, the bed-time chronicles – it all overwhelmes me – and I muster all that is within me to do those things with people who are so important to me – and I wonder how I can – but He meets me there, walks with me each step, fills my heart with grace to love the way I want but often fall short.

This week, I met Him in the act of making and decorating cupcakes with my littlest, the blessing of watching my boys to men play a game of chess, of smiles spreading across faces that have smiled too little for too long.

blessings of goodness

I meet Him in the morning prayer, one son leading us in the Lord’s Prayer, another the 23rd Psalm, the other in sharing a proverb, and me leading in a thanksgiving prayer and asking that we let others see the love of Jesus either through our words or actions.

blessings of goodness

I meet Him when I open my front door to greet costumed children Trick or Treating , when I sit across the table from friends sharing celebration cupcakes and cider, watching my husband read to grand-baby girl.

Blessings of goodness

I meet Him when everyday jobs overwhelm. He meets me in a swirl of leaves or squirrels foraging, climbing and jumping outside my window.

blessings of goodness

I met Him when I choose to bloom where I am planted, even when where I am feels like the dormant stage of blooming in a cold frost.

We come together in any place. He is there, waiting for me to look and see Him -to look hard, to catch His eye, to seek His face and know He is looking for me – not trying to avoid me because I don’t do living just right, or that I talk too much, or forget words, or say right things all wrong.

Sometimes we come from opposite directions.

We meet more often now. I am learning to just look.

It never fails that when I do look, I meet Him.

No matter the gracelessness of a moment, hour or day, when I decide to meet Him, He is there with blessings of goodness that change the tenor, the texture, treatment of that moment, hour or day.

“For you meet him with the blessings of goodness”(Psalm 21:3a)

Where are the places you have met Him this week?

I8 gifts were listed above in my journey to 1,000 gifts

844) My son going around the neighborhood 4 times, each time in a different costume from our costume chest which has grown over 26 years: in the bumblebee costume, a ninja, a warrior on a horse, and a ghost – all with a joyful attitude
845) neighbors who love my boys and who kids I love, too – it is awesome to have neighbors like that
846) 5 boys home at once on a trick-or-treat night
847) Sons growing up and working hard
848) That God is wherever I am
849) My husband taking me to one of our favorite lunch places on a very trying day
850) A neighbor giving us 3 large pampas-type grass clusters for our yard. I’ve always wanted ornamental grass like this – and it was such an unexpected gift.
851) You know those 15 burning bush root-balls that I carefully nurtured? Wanting a hedge for privacy on our property line? It seems, each time the boys mowed, we lost one. Lowe’s had sturdy ones about  2 feet high for $3 a piece – I don’t think my boys will run those over. For once, I got someplace before the good deal was sold out.
852) Looking at all the bushes we transplanted and struggled – seeing they are now sturdy and strong – ready for take off next year. That was God reminding me that I am sturdy and strong now- ready to take off at the right time.
853) A song at church, one of my very favorite that has a special place in my heart, used as a kind-of lullaby when the boys were little – and the phrase, “The Year of Jubilee” stood out to me – that the Year of Jubilee was coming – and it was a message that filled my heart
854) Making a new recipe – one I created myself – “Buffalo Chicken Soup.” My son who loves my Hot Wings asked, “Why not just make Hot Wings?” Then he tasted my soup, trying give too much away, he conceded, “This is your best soup.”
855) My 4th son, taller than me today. Door-frame measurements confirmed. While I am sure he will be insufferable for awhile, lots of puns to fall short – so happy he is so happy!
856) Answered prayers unfolding!

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We just returned from vacation – week of refreshing, of contented family time, an aaaaAAAAHHHH soaking R&R – to return to unexpected challenges, challenges I thought long taken care of. Is it a life lesson – that every refreshing moment is followed by a challenge? It is moments like these, that the blessings outside myself soothe my soul – but I am left wondering why? Why cannot I be consistently strong inside?

Why exists the need to find the blessings outside of ourselves?

Why sometimes cannot my soul provide the song that lifts, instead of the cardinals, the robins, the fluttery creatures that nest in the pear and oak trees?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit rest as easily as a cat upon a favorite cushion when storms brew about?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit bloom beauty like the orange, deep fuschias and yellow zinnias in my garden?

Or my spirit give off the sweet aroma of the roses, the fresh cut grass or a fistful of violets, lemon balm and lavender?

Why sometimes cannot I reseed myself, burrow deeply into the black earth or red clay for winter – and just be comforted that now is not the time to bloom but to grow roots, to grow strong – and not feel behind, out of place or insufficient?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit find not only fulfillment in those moments when everything goes right, like the burst of dazzling bloom, but why must my heart struggle when, the new stage is a journey is like when the petals fade to replace the seed that falls – and it all starts back over again, the growth to bloom, why do I feel like I’ve failed because I couldn’t maintain the bloom – when the whole process, the falling, burrowing and regrowing are just as important, just as vital, just as fulfilling.

Why sometimes cannot my spirit weave things hoped for when all I am hangs by a thread of hope, why can I not innately weave something beautiful out of the thread it hangs by but must be reminded by the web of a spider’s thread in a forgotten corner that much can be made of that thread?

Why sometimes must I be reminded of the charity of all these, reminded through the blessings outside myself?

These blessings outside myself are the half-time rallying cries, illustrated disquisitions, a chorus of communiqués, love letters from the Father reminding me not to give up in those faltering moments when life happens in unpleasant, unwanted, unplanned for ways – and that is why I search them out, count them thank Him for giving me them.

In these outside-myself blessings, He tells me,
“Remember when I opened up the hollow place in Lehi for Samson – and water came out to rebuild his strength and revive him? (Judges 15:10) – so also I do with you with the bird song, the squirrels outside your window, the spider webs – these are messages and gifts I send to give you strength and revive you in midst of the challenge.”
“‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you”

(Isaiah 41: 9b-10)

These outside-myself blessings remind me of His firm grip, that He holds me steady, that help is on the way. He reminds me that through Him, I can.


790) spending time with 4 of 5 sons without outside distractions
791) quiet mornings, watching the ocean, reading the book of Joshua
792) little grey fish trimmed in yellow following my innertube
793) Time bobbing about the ocean and the lazy river with my husband
794) dolphins flying out of the ocean and diving back in
795) Time to get lost in a book that’s been sitting on my bedside table for months
796) my mom joining us for a few days
797) Sun-rise on the beach, watching with my husband the dark pink sun spilling across the grey sky
798) Leaving the white shores and the lazy river – crossed through the Misty Mountains and made our way to our Homely House – and, yes, I was reading The Hobbit the entire way home!
799) A chirp-fest from my backyard birds, as though they were rushing to tell me all the things that happened while we were on Holiday
800) Pink, orange, fuschia, burnt red zinnias still blooming
801) A Blustery Happy Windsday on Sunday, Winnie the Pooh’s birthday – so appropriate
802) The clouds closer to my patch of living, as if I could reach out and touch them
803) The hope of rain coming
804) That when challenges seemingly enlarge, knowing my God is bigger
805) Chili and chicken noodle soups on the stove
806) Brownies the boys baked
807) God coaxing me to let go of things that need let-going

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When my littlest came home with his poetry prose in paragraph formation, we had to edit the content into standard, complete-sentence prose. The poetry was edited out. It saddened me because so many penny words were added, fading the imagery, leaching the strength of action – and, well, just diminishing the over-all effect.

A kind of “you-had-to-be-there” resulted in the retelling.

Poetry evokes – sometimes more can be said with incomplete sentences. Not in a court of law, not when contractual things need to be established – but sometimes with pulling something valuable out of a day, a moment – that something trumps the other 23 hours, the other 1,429 minutes in a day.

I remember reading e.e. cummins in the 8th grade. He threw language rules out the window and made art. The entire class chimed in, “So we don’t have to use correct grammar rules. Here’s a grown-up who didn’t and made good.”

Our teacher loosened our grasp on that hope: “When you know grammar like e.e. cummins, you can write like e.e. cummins.”

e.e. cummins manipulated language – and its rules to re-create moments, like “riding through the woods on a snowy evening” – so you could feel it from the inside of your soul out – no “you-had-to-be-there” excuses because he took you there.

My son’s unintentional poetry lost something in the translation to intentional prose. Sometimes, to capture the essence of a moment, a weekend, a blessing – it comes out better in poetry, without penny articles, verbs and nouns.

Yet, also like e.e. cummins had to become skilled in the knowledge of  language arts in order to write poetry that reveals a moment from the inside of your soul out, you and I – we need to become skilled in the knowledge of God’s true, hands-on love for us  in order to recognize blessing that has the power to change our lives from the inside of our souls out.

Are you ready to live like poetry? Allowing a moment of blessing, regardless of size and importance, – a squirrel running across your window pane, a fleeting hug, a genuine smile, a cup of cider – are you willing to let that moment, that gift from the Father, define your day, your week, a year, a lifetime?

The coolness on your cheek from a breeze rustling out of the trees as the hand of God touching your cheek? And, in a second, the recognition of it changes everything – from the inside of your soul out.

Have I lived a life of blessing? Every minute counted from beginning to end, –  refreshing moments, just-right moments, forgiving moments, revelation moments, soul-inside-out moments would seem miniscule in comparison to all the penny-word moments.

However, those fragmented moments like poetry, whittling the prose of it all into poetry,  if I were to just pull them out, those moments would say I am richly blessed. Maybe they would say my life filled with blessing, reads like poetry.

747) Lumina white, Jack-Be-Little Orange, Jarrahdale green and Rouge vif D’Etampes – “Red Life of the Times” pumpkins, pulled from the flat-bed of a truck to my door steps, heralding a new season
748) ladling out homemade chicken noodle soup with bow-tie pasta to woodland stories of Blue Stones and Acorns for currency, brotherhood and neighborhood friendships creating a world of their own in the woods. Practicing democracy in leadership elections under God’s canopy and choosing blue stone and acorns for currency. Blue Stone turned memory stone in a friendship has lived lifting up when hearts are down – a living poetry experience

749) Nests emptied of backyard baby birds. No more cat birds screeching and squawking at my cat on the steps, on the porch, under the car, under the tree staring up. Chirping, solo songs and choruses, merry autumn sounds of troubles left behind.
750) Squirrel cheeks filled with winter nuts, filling the storehouses in tree nests, repetitive forays onto the grounds, storing security for e.e. cummins-kind-of-snowy evening
751) A to-do list reminding me of the things I want to do – and each one checked off, one-by-one.
752) Determination to complete actions and tasks that change the hue of everyday living – when making myself light a candle, knit one row, read one chapter of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense – one small action at a time is a brush stroke that paints my life. I can either choose through inaction how my life will look – an empty canvas – or I can choose through action. I chose to act – even though the brush strokes and colors don’t always turn out how I intend.

753) A friend blessing me with kind, un-looked for words
754) The energy to make Saturday what I wanted it to be: filled with homemade chicken-noodle soup, tortilini soup, cheesy bread, store-bought orange-icing cupcakes, pop-eye bread, simmering apple cider – boys saying, “Who’s coming for dinner” – and I just say, “You! All for you!”
755) A kitchen filled with chard, peppers and tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market
756) A squirrel running outside my window at work, through my shabby-chic picture frame
757) 15 minutes with God in a mid-morning break; 15 minutes with God in a mid-afternoon break. We two sitting together on a bench
758) Energy at the end of a workday to live fully through the most valuable parts.
759) Demands for bed-time tuck-ins
760) The Bed-Time Chronicles
761) An orange carrot juice, red beet and mango smoothie – that I stuck to the determination to include it in my day, making it at 6:45 a.m.
762) Frogs hopping on the road side during an evening walk
763) All the boys’ work turned in at the end of a quarter – punctuated by a Friday beginning a 2 week Holiday for the boys.
764) Open windows, cool morning air, the sound of the air-conditioning shutting down, yielding to Autumn’s superior coolness

765) Post-it-Notes reminding me to pray
766) That joyful euphoric feeling like flying when a problem’s potential solution makes itself known in the loudness of the problem, in an un-looked for area.
767) I heard that there are 21 million people who cannot read in America – and am so blessed that my mom secured the best possible education for my brother and me.
768) That I have the desire to read – the bible, fun literature, books to my children, legal documents – and historical documents like Common Sense by Thomas Paine – so that it will not be through ignorance that my freedoms are taken away.
769) The anticipation of good things –  like next week’s beach Holiday.
770) Pulling close the poetry moments out of the day that say more about my day than what the whole of the day says.
771) Hot Apple Cider on a lazy afternoon on my porch
772) Seeing the sun-rise in pink and yellow streaks Sunday morning
773) Watching my boys enjoy a bottomless bowl of pasta after church Sunday while I enjoyed a bottomless cup of steamy coffee
774) Sitting beside my husband on the porch, watching the moon, pulling the blanket close.

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Summer from school was only about 6 weeks long – so the boys, they slept in, went swimming a few times – and hung out with their friends in the neighborhood. Lots of laughter – about 5 p.m. every afternoon – mayhem, really, between the birds back-yard socializing, the cat tormenting the birds -and the boys playing raucously with friends across the street. It is a beautiful thing – the sound of that laughter.

It was a homey summer. It was a refreshing time, for the boys, that is.

For me, it was the first summer working full-time. It was full of weddings, showers and celebrations. It was full of Saturday Morning dates to the farmer’s market. It was a watering time for all the seed planting and transplanting.

Cupcakes for a shower hosted with my aunt

Dress Cookies for a friend’s Daughter – because she likes them

Cupcakes I made for my 50th birthday

Beyond the gate, I hosted a 14 year old birthday party – an air-soft -gun party. My son wanted Dairy Queen’s ice cream cake.

Lots of checkers on the porch

Beyond the gate, a dear friend’s sweet daughter married – and it was blessing, the celebration.

After my surgery, while gathering my strength, we found our way to a cabin by a pond, where the boys rowed, swam and fished

A summer where zinnias on the window sill were colorful blessings bring comfort from the Father

Farmer’s Market Dates on Saturday Morning

Acorns found on the path during an anniversary trip

Listening to my sons’ and husband’s turtle dove calls

Celebrating 29 years in 30 hours – just the two of us, living life beyond the gate

A summer of simple living and celebration

“God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.”(Matthew 13:31-32)

686) A squirrel chewing away at branches for its nest – providing a moment of respite from chaos.
687) A trio of dove calls – from two sons and my husband
688) red tomatoes from my garden
689) Festivals – music, people, food, crafts on a Friday night – everyone needs festival moments
690) Watching the homeschool children perform Appalachian songs of faith boldly
691) Rain storms with nothing but thunder
692) fresh rain in the morning
693) the coolness after the storm, reminding me that God brings seasons of refreshing after turbulent storms
694) Hearing a song from last year, a song prayed over my son – and rejoicing at answered prayers
695) My blue cotton quilt – complete and home
696) The self-discipline to knit a few rows – because I will be disappointed later if I do not
697) Friends in the blogahood, responding to a prayer request
698) God coaching me to live one day at a time, one step at a time – like those days when there are a gazillion things on my schedule – getting all the boys to all the places and everything inbetween and after – and trusting Him it will walk itself out one step at a time.
699) Post-it-note reminders for prayer needs
700) The repeated message that I see in art, in words, in a chorus: Grow where you are planted – God letting me know that where I am right now is where I need to be.

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It’s the end of the week – and I’m tired. It’s the blessings, the love notes and messages from the Father that brought me smiles this week – like leaves still green swirling like confetti under a canopy of trees on my way home. Remembering last weeks blessings, vintaging them – sometimes those memories are the sweetness  that turned the sour, bland and tasteless moments of a day into hope and faith moments creased with a smile. Wishing you much blessing through the weekend, much refreshing, and the uncovering of many gifts from the Father!

634) In the hurly burly of an up-coming overwhelming schedule, a bird singing as I walked across the parking lot in the early morning sun. It was a song of peace, quiet joy in a yellow and blue sky morning.
635) yellow dress cookies with burnt orange and goldenrod yellow ribbons – made with love for a beautiful young lady, inside and out, who chose me to be her mom for a weekend, when she was little and I was much younger

636)Love and a repentant heart in a little boy wrapping his arms around me for forgiveness already given.
637) Amonia in a bucket that cleans all the dirt from real living off my kitchen floors.
638) My husband’s smile
639) A 30 hour trip celebrating 29 years of marriage
640) finding a buck-eye under a tree, hour 2 of our 30 hour celebration, a symbol of good luck, of blessing for our short journey

641) a handful of acorns, God reminding me that there are gifts that grow from seeds to trees if I just look around under my feet, up to the stars and everywhere in between.
642) a turtle dove, lighting on a white fence on our walk to dinner. Turtle doves are my husband’s favorite bird. As he mimicked the turtle dove call, she turned toward him for a photo.
643) time to just sit under the stars on a cool evening
644) knitting a few rows in a still few moments
645) a morning walk among the animals at Shaker Town – and birds flying to land on a fence, in a row, seeming playful, carefree – just like my heart felt – and God letting my surroundings echo that feeling
646) each son’s smile and the different places those smiles come from
647) coming home sick one day from work and being wrapped in the silence of a still house, every once and a while as soothing as a cool cloth on a fevered brow.
648) Messages for my heart found in un-looked for places

649) my cat who is a constant reminder of all the places to relax and stretch out

650) Smiles from a son while I coach him through a senior paper
651) Pizza on Friday night
652) My mother-in-law coming for a visit
653) Drinking coffee with my MIL in the late afternoons
654) The sounds of 4 boys playing cards, murmuring voices and grandbaby girl laughing

655)Yellow, Orange, Fuschia zinnias
656) Red tomatoes, green cucumbers, white corn and onions stirred together into my cold cucumber chowder
657) Pancakes on Sunday after church
658)Home at the end of every day

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A stomach bug has been creeping around our house. The blessings, in their usual places, don’t comfort me. The yard cardinals, my growing-tall zinnias, my burning bushes, the squirrels on the sidewalk to my office – even the hammock under the tree.

503) Some days, like stomach bug days, the blessing is the comfort in a blanket wrapped around,
504) the hum of  a galaxy
505) tiredness resting on a soft pillow
506) and the quiet, the sleep.
507) The blessing is in the doing of others
508) the folding of laundry,
509) the preparing of dinner
510) and the cleaning up.
511) A beet-mango smoothie with ginger soothing after work when anything more is uncomfortable.
512) The comfort in my husband’s hand rubbing my back,
513) one of my sons leaning his head against mine for a sit-down moment.
514) A slow rain on a Sunday that slowed everyone down so much,
515) they just paused beside us on the porch and lingered
516) repeatedly returning and lingering as we sat there, watching.
517) It amazes me the sweet living in the pause.

I am discovering that some days, the Father’s love letters are written outside of me, in the landscape. On other days, they are written in my heart, like the simmering rejoicing of an answered prayer that fills me up inside.

This week has been a rejoicing week, despite a creeping bug.
518) Rejoicing in answered prayers,
519)in sitting in church with my husband and sons
520) hands reaching, shaking my reserve soldier son’s hand, rejoicing that he is home
521) a very old friend, a spiritual grandfather to my son, speaking blessing over my son, with his words, his hands, his expressions – showing my son God’s amazing love –
522) After a long waiting on which steps to take, God revealing
523) The relief in the revealing
524) The lingering in the quiet with the Father, joyful, smiling, excited and quiet all at once – because He is faithful, amazingly, beautifully Faithful!
525) Faith of God’s mighty power eradicating this creeping stomach bug

“For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does
(Psalm 33: 4)

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A prayer is a journey released.

I believe

That when you pray for other people, that prayer goes on a journey,

And like all journeys, come back home.

Prayer returned home.

Come back home in the manner it was released – with either faith, hope and love or faithless, hopeless and loveless.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:36)

I remember praying healing for someone who had experienced a life-threatening injury

And through the journey of the prayer

Over months and months

That healing prayer came back to heal us of secondary infertility.

“I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

 Over the last few months, our family has been praying

For Annie to return, to come home  (see this post) – praying with faith, hope and love.

While we prayed for Annie, we prayed for a son (see this post), prayed with faith, hope and love – For this son to sell out to Jesus.

This son who couldn’t wait to leave home, busted out of home when he graduated from high school last year, signed up for the reserves and has become a better man, Friday night, he said, “It’s come my time to find God and come home.” He didn’t just say it to me; he said it on Facebook, kind of like he needed to say it to the world.

Prayer sent out on a journey returned home.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 6: 30).

24 hours later, Annie came home, too. We were in our car, returning from a far-away wedding, celebrating a heart-friend’s daughter’s marriage, a marriage beginning God-centered, faith-centered – and I wanted to dance, to celebrate God’s amazing love, His never-give-up-ness with this answered prayer returned home from its journey.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven”(Psalm 107:28-30).

 Praying is not a stagnant action. A prayer is a journey released, returning home returning home in the manner released. Unasked for. Unexpected.

480) The daily, familiar blessings, like the cardinals, mockingbirds, dove calls
481) Squirrels rummaging through the hay outside my work window
482) Strawberry, Watermelon and lemonade icy smoothy
483) “You have made me glad. I’ll say of the Lord you are my shield, my strength, my portion deliver, My shelter, Strong Tower, My very Present Help in time of need” (Made Me Glad, Hillsong) – a song in my heart whether at my work desk, in my car, my kitchen, or in a hammock under my tree – Releasing that song in my heart – no one else could hear it – but me and God!
484) Boys worn out from swimming, the evidence of sunshine on their cheeks.
485) A date day with my husband, with a heart-friend’s daughter’s wedding.
486) Lunch at the Cheesecake Factory – my favorite Club Sandwich and a cup of coffee.
487) Walking in a real mall, window shopping and some real shopping
488) My husband gifting me with Tocca’s Stella perfume which I have wanted since January.
489) Good haircuts on my boys – I don’t know why but a good haircut makes me feel like everything is on the right track.
490) My littlest guy coming up, wrapping me in a hug, “I love you, Mom.”
491) Laughing with my new senior son! He’s going to be a camp counselor-in-training. No flirting allowed. I tried coaching him to say, “I’m here to serve Jesus. Please respect my decision” when girls hit on him. Instead of repeating after me, he said, “Send me your number. I’ll call you when camp is over” – I couldn’t stop laughing because, while he has great lines, he’s not a smooth, shallow pick-up guy. He is so full of the Joy of the Lord.
492) Wheat fields, swaying in a cool 78 degree breeze
493) My camera through which I have learned to live more fully where I am – we arrived at the South Union Shaker Village wedding site early taking in detail in an intentional way, not a skimmed-over-way.
494) Hugs from dear friends not seen enough
495) new love consecrated in marriage, made one through the Holy Spirit – and the couple inviting God into their union knowingly, whole-heartedly, eyes wide open.
496) My sons jeep pulling into the driveway.
497) Brother’s smiling, not saying but actions speaking loudly, welcoming a brother home.
498) Showing my neighbor’s 4 year old how to draw cats on the sidewalk with the sidewalk chalk and little girls in polka dot dresses.
499) People caring enough to pray, to connect, to have relationship – people caring enough to send their prayers on a journey.
500) Nikki at Simply Striving who read “Bicycling with Ava” to her son and she telling me he asked to hear it again. I’m still smiling!
501) Annie coming home!
502) Understanding that the coming home is just the beginning of another journey.

The Bride Arrived in a Red Car

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leadme“I was gonna blog but when I looked at all the blogs, everyone is either an English teacher or has a Masters in English,” a friend said over lunch.

My friend is an artisan, knitting, quilting, creating beautiful things with a grace I don’t have. There are so many gifts that I don’t have, that I cannot master. Her gifts are not my gifts – sometimes I feel like a failure because I cannot sing, quilt, play an instrument, have an everything-in-its-place home.

I pointed out all the cooking, crafting and home decorating blogs – where their passion is not about words but talents, giftings – if she blogged her gifts, it would be filled with awesome things.

Things, gifts that I don’t have.

I don’t have. I don’t have. I don’t have.

If I focus on the don’t haves, I can’t see the have.

Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, found me sitting in a pew, watching beautiful gifts praising our Lord: voices singing, instruments playing, feet dancing – and, a man signing “Behold the King” – I don’t know sign language – but I could see the words, see this man singing with his hands, praising, worshipping in a language with no voice that spoke more eloquently than a great orator.

weddingchairscFor years, I have sat in awe, listening to our worship singers, from our college ministry to our adult ministry – and have been awed by their uninhibited use of voice and sound, beating myself up because I don’t have what they have. I so wanted to worship my Lord that beautifully, with immersion and abandon – but I have not the voice.

Watching our college and youth dance team – young men and women, worshipping our Lord with bones, muscles and liberation, no inhibition – grace and passion for our Lord unleashed in worship – it just WOWS me, their gift, their passion for our Lord.- but I have not the graceful feet and hands.

Musicians – guitars, drums, horns, pianos, percussion, strings – that skill honed to worship our Lord, developed and used in tribute, in worship – but I have not the skill.

They bring to God gifts of worship. They give something of themselves weekly, daily to Him in a way that I cannot.

Too much of my life has been the focus of what I don’t have, what I cannot do, not because of time or money, but because I do not have that gifting.

I used to feel inadequate, defective . . . until God uncovered my gift, dug it out from the overgrown garden of life in which it lost itself, and transplanted it in Him, where it needed to be to grow – and I learned how my gift dances, sings and plays – just in a different way.

We each have a gift.
That dances graceful
Uninhibited, with abandon
Boasting of our Lord

With our gifts,
Our hearts sing ballads of God’s mercy, hope and love
Uninhibited, with abandon

With our gifts,
We master our individual instrument of praise,
Uninhibited, with abandon.

With words,
I dance worship

With words,
I sing the ballad He gave me

With words,
I play an instrument of praise

Maybe you
teach, heal, comfort, assist, serve
in schools, restaurants, hospitals, day-cares, nurseries, Wal-Mart, offices
dancing worship,
singing the ballad He gave you
playing an instrument of praise
uninhibited, with abandon
full of God’s mighty grace

We each have a gift
Are you dancing yours?

Sometimes, my voice is not beautiful. Sometimes my words stumble and miss a step. Sometimes I race ahead of the great Conductor.

So many different God-gifts – yet, in each exists a potential kinship in the passion, the concentration, the letting go of self-consciousness to God-consciousness, of receiving that gift and giving it all back to Him.

“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!” (1 Cor 12:4-7, The Message)

What gift do you dance, sing and play gracefully, beautifully, worshipfully?

302) God providing friends for my sons so that when one falls, there is another there to help him up.
303) Friendships that help roots grow into home and community.
304) Watching a son negotiate hurts in friendship with faith and honor.
305) A coachable son on and off the field.
306) An orange carrot, yellow mango juice smoothie, homemade
307) Orange Dulce Tea in the morning as my computer boots up.
308) A flank steak, baked potato, spinach salad for an easy dinner, easy smiles.
309) Finding special gifts at just-right prices
310) A Friday night dinner date with take-out at home.
311) A birthday lunch with lots of laughing tears!
312) Whipping up Chocolate celebration cupcakes with a chocolate ganache topping for a friend’s birthday.
313) Spending time with unconditional-love kind of people
314) 7:45 a.m. phone calls to my mom
315) My guy helping me get my yard just the way I want it, even though my dream for this is not his dream.
316) After 2 summers away, thinning out our garden overgrowth and coming away with multiplied blessings: “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” (Song of Solomon 2:12):
317) 2 butterfly bushes
318) 6 groupings of lilies: “I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon” (Hosea 14:5) – I want my sons to grow like that!
319) a knockout rose bush
320) an extra yellow flowering bush whose name I cannot remember
321) a place to finally plant purple, pink, yellow, red zinnias
322) Cardinals showing up in un-expected places as though God saying, “I have not forgotten you – I sent these birds to remind you.”
323) Finding joy in other’s gifts during our church’s Easter Celebration.
324) Watching my littlest guy stuff Easter Eggs with chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate eggs. Seeing his love of responsibility and approach to problem solving when some eggs didn’t fit.
325) Baby girl giggling and laughing baby laughs and giggles when I talk to her.
326) Bed-time routines that include prayer, laughter, hugs and questions.
327) Right now, I feel peace, contentment, a lull in the challenge machine. I realize it is not permanent, but a sweet refreshing in the now, a sweet gift from the Father and His Son!
328) Living Resurrection – letting the story of my savior falling 3 times, wearing a crown of thorns, nails hammered into hands and feet, giving His soul up to the Father – and rising on the 3rd day, making himself available to those who sought him out, to comfort them, give them hope. Letting that story seep down into my soul again and again, still not able to grasp all of it. God’s love humbles me when I really try to wrap my mind around it,and since I cannot successfully wrap my mind around it, He graciously wraps His love around me!

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“But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!(Jude 1:20).

Arms outstretched and open, that’s how I want to be with God – like a child standing before my Father, arms outstretched and open, wanting to be lifted, held – and knowing  it, owning it that the Father will pick me up, hold me close, carry me, protect me, comfort me.

Praying in the Holy Spirit, though, that lifts straight into the center of God’s love, into the Father’s arms.

Arms outstretched anticipates, believes. Bold. Confident. Assurance of being wanted, loved, valued: Is my daddy going to pick me up? No doubt – especially when that daddy is Father God.

Arms outstretched  believes whole-heartedly – and it is my job to either say, pray and lay that foundation in my son’s lives, regardless of age.

Last week, a lot of foundation work went on at many structure levels.  It was a prayer-results-emerging week, too. Not a gut-wrenching, take-me-to-my-knees week.  It was one of those weeks where the stone-laying went smoothly. Where everything seemed to go just right. Progress was made.

Progress because of a lot of behind the scenes building through praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping centered on God’s love and not giving up. Living arms-outstretched, reaching, so ready for His mercy – that’s how last week happened.

Only with arms outstretched, hoping, believing, expecting can we received the blessings, the answered prayers.

Still joining with Ann in my journey to 1,000 gifts. Each day, there are gifts, some so simply, they could be easily over-looked. Some just roll over you like like a an army – you can’t miss it. Vintaging my week? Love Letters from God? So many treasures of His love!

278) My acorn turned 17 (See Growing Up My Acorn)
279) the same night another son played a middle school soccer game
280) This acorn, he came, hung out, laughed and tormented the littlest brother
281) hung out with friends on the lacrosse field, old and new friends
282) and he smiled, genuine smiles, feeling-at-home smiles that were, though he didn’t know it, answer-to-prayer smiles.
283) His biggest brother, sweet wife and baby girl came to dinner at our favorite celebration restaurant,
284) I got to hold baby girl all through dinner, her Papaw did, too
285) Dinner had our favorite dishes, silly smiles, feeling that family feeling that is just blessing, a gift from God, those moments you pray happen, except we were missing one
286) missing the one who has made better-man choices all year long, better-man choices that take him fishing, better-man choices that are answered prayers.
287) A carrot juice smoothie with a friend over lunch
288) My littlest guy, winning the sub-region 4-H Science Fair in Electricity. He came home from school in January wanting to do his project over Series and Parallel Circuits – and hounded us. Self-motivation is a blessing from God – and he has that.
289) Report cards that show healthy work ethics.
290) Knowing that prayer can change things that need to be changed.
291) Pansies in my flower boxes really blooming from Fall plantings – reminding that faith is believing in things that seem unbelievable.
292) Sitting around the chiminea with friends until a thunderstorm rolls in with lightening and hail, but we have a Holy Cow cake and a Kentucky basketball game to take its place.
293) Sleeping until 9 a.m. on Saturday morning
294) The red cardinals, still nesting in my yard, still singing their songs. Even at 1 a.m. There’s such an abundance – that it’s like God, instead of dropping confetti in my life to say, “Your faithfulness brought you home,” he filled my yard with cardinals instead.
295) My minister did a sermon on 1 Samuel 30: – where after David left home to do what God wanted him to do, when he returned, his family and the  family of all his mighty soldiers had been taken. David grieved – the situation tore his heart. His men felt it was David’s fault and thought about stoning him – but David took it to God, believed in God’s plan – and ultimately retrieved not only his family but all the soldier’s families. This story so blessed me, reminding me that the journey God sent us on 2 1/2 years ago, where at times I felt like I was losing my sons, my home because the challenges were so hard – that because we took that journey because God told us to, that during the challenges we never lost faith, we continued leading our young men in the ways of God along with much  praying, that He not only brought us safely home, but not one of our sons will be lost through the challenges because of our faith, our never taking our hearts off Him. It was like God whispering to me, “Like David, you will not lose one. Not one!” My God is a mighty God who lays stepping stones to my life that I cannot always fathom but I can take each step in faith and trust. Thank you, Father!
296) Faith that growing pains are just that – evidence of growing opportunities.
297) Blackberry Currant tea in an “I love you this much” cup at my desk at work.
298) Living encouragement, the power of positive thinking, and always looking for confetti moments – the desire for everyday living to never get old.
299) Finding a diet dr. pepper hid behind a book and another under a straw hat – and sharing one with my littlest guy.
300) That I don’t give up on bed-time tuck-in moments.
301) Morning prayer on the way to school: one leading the Lords’s prayer, one the 23rd psalm and the teen picking a proverb, and me praying, asking each boy to find 3 people to pray for each day

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My Vintage Lane at Etsy.com

The milk box, at my grandmother’s house when I was just a visitor, just a grandchild, before my parent’s divorce and I moved in becoming something not quite a grandchild and not quite a daughter, before the great change, the milk box sat on her front porch. Not by the door for all to see – but against the red-brick porch wall between the green swing and the steps. Always shaded, always protected from the elements.

On those sweet occasions when I would spend the night with my grandmother and grandfather, some early mornings found me already swinging, waiting for the milk man to bring two or three glass milk jars with paper seals, jars sweating coolness. Some mornings the milk man came when I was still sleeping. When I woke, I’d run down, open the lid to the milk box and gather those white, glistening bottles and take them to the kitchen.

Before the great change, Grandmother made hot chocolate for me in the mornings. After the great change, she poured me an everyday glass of milk. Living with my grandparents, along with my mother and brother, became every day living, not special occasion living.

I can still feel the cool grey concrete under my feet, the sound of the milk box lid dropping – and the coolness of the milk.

Blessings are like that. Except God brings them to our doorstep, placing them in often likely places, like a milk box. Like that little girl, sometimes I meet Him there – at the steps of the blessing – and sometimes I arrive after He has left – and I must look for the blessing.

I am learning to find the blessings in the midst of the big and little challenges of every day living. Won’t you join me, join the search for the blessings the Father leaves us, each individual us? Join me at Ann’s 1,000 Gifts with a community of women seeking to live blessing?

80) A good morning Hallelujah to wake up my faith and greet my Father. Some days this moment is  in the shower. Sometimes in the morning school ride; other times just in the footsteps of waking everyone else.

81) not getting my shoes wet in the buckets and mists of rain
82) anger receding after untangling myself, like from a sticky cobweb
83) scriptures sent from Nan at LBDDiaries asking God for His words to come out of my mouth during a job interview
84) Friends sending notes of prayer promises
85) red tomatoes, red onions which are really purple and green romaine hearts chopped into a salad
86) Psalm 35:1 – wanting my Father to contend against those who come against me, for His justice to prevail but for forgiveness to be meted out.
87) a husband who champions me
88) a husband who cares when I cry, like Hannah’s husband cared about her tears.
89) That God collects each of my tears (Psalm 56:8)
90) That I love enough, open my heart enough to risk hurt, risk tears
91) a blue and white Bybee Pottery bowl filled with rice
92) My sons asking for more and being able to ladle out more. . . more rice, more time, more love, more attention
93) for zinc – and the all day energy I’ve never had before, the lifted brain fog, and the me I recognize
94) morning drives to school listening
95) one son leading  us in The Lord’s Prayer
96) another son leading  us in Psalm 23
97) the teen choosing a Proverb
98) time and discipline enough to pray before they pile out of the car that angels encamp about them, that they show others the love of Jesus through their words or actions, that they seek relationship with the Father throughout the day – and that the morning prayer is not the only time spent with Him.
99) blue after days of gray
100) a sunset like I’ve never seen, a foil-pressed sky reflecting gold, fuchsias, yellows, like a fiery furnace, with rectangles and waves emitting different pigments- and I remember thinking that maybe Jesus will return “riding on a cloud, shining like the sun” – like that – not just white brightness and white billowing clouds – but riding on Clouds of shiny Gold and Pinks and Yellows to Purples.
101) my scale showing 9 lbs lost due to self-discipline
102) True Directions. Words do mean something.
103) Narcissus Paperwhite candles
104) Quiet time in my office on Saturday, my only companion the Father, who I asked to come help with a story, not because I was struggling but because I didn’t want to do it without Him
105) Sunday lunch at Olive Garden
106) a bottomless bowl of salad
107) a carafe of coffee and cup to go
108) a waitress who took such good care of us
109) boy humor – and the stamina to handle it and a husband who reminds me “this is normal.”
110) Sunlight pouring through the front windows of my house and falling light through my bedroom window
111) a clothe full of dust
112) moments of joy-filled hope – for no apparent reason than for the moment, nothing is trying to steal it
113) doggedly trying to live forgiveness, to stop pulling the scab off hurt, recognizing that living forgiveness does not always staunch hurt
114) a bracelet a friend gave me before the journey over 2 years ago – a symbol of unconditional, God-love – because that is how she lives.
115) For milk box memories. I never want to go back but I like remembering the good things, the blessing things God always showed me in a broken time – like the honeysuckle in the backyard, grandfather’s white azaleas, fried bologna sandwiches, front porch living – the little blessings are where the beautiful things were.

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Driving through town, feeling frazzled, a little pinched by the world over temporary challenges, I forced myself to refocus. Pulling myself out of my bottled up concerns, I looked for my Father’s gifts – and saw . . .

13) Shiny Christmas ornaments hanging from a dogwood tree
14) White latticed window panes in a church
15) beneath the window, I had seen a bush – and suddenly, the red berries in that bush popped and splashed color – as though someone had hit the contrast button on my computer photos.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29: 13).

When I paused, when I refocused, when I looked for blessing over wrestling things that tried to steal my peace – I found blessing He set aside for me, blessing that spilled joy into my days.

16) 5 cupcakes for an after-school treat.
17) A pot of hot coffee and laughter with friends for an hour.
18) The repetition of lining up our business shipping labels on the cutting board, calming, orderly, methodical, productive.
19) Standing at the packing table, sharing a scale with my husband, weighing, waiting, juggling our responsibilities so that we run more smoothly than the machinery.
20) In the midst of a very trying afternoon, I searched for God’s blessing. Life had wrung me out. I kept staring at a tennis court, white benches and black shade cloth hanging from the fence.  No hidden blessing in the benches. No hidden blessing in the shade cloth.

Suddenly, a flock of crows soared and dipped to soar again. My eyes latched onto the scene unfolding – and I thought – wow, if God finds joy in those mean old crows – surely He will take care of me in my very struggling day!  Then God showed He had a sense of humor – a flock of tiny birds chased after them. Maybe He was showing  me that my challenges might seem big, might seem over-powering – but they really weren’t – those challenges could easily be routed, like a crow being chased away by a smaller bird.
21) Completed knitting a pair of baby leggings for a little baby girl fashionably late who will turn me into a grandmother any hour now.
22) Narcissus Paperwhite candles in my bedroom.
23) Sitting at the dinner table on my husband’s birthday, with a Chocolate Celebration Cake topped with a Chocolate Ganache.
24) Sitting at the dinner table with 4 of my 5 sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and talking – about history, politics, current events and a baby.
25) My little guy, his head on my shoulder during a movie.
26) My Christmas Tree Sparkling late tonight on glass snowmen, frosted fruit, Santas, Christmas Balls and ribbons. I finally found a quiet moment to soak in its beauty, its sparkly, silent beauty.

When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94: 19)

Thank you, Father, for these consolations that cheer my soul. Thank you for the blessings I found that you’d placed in my life for me this week!

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Today, my artist celebrates his elevenses birthday.

Considering that this son often comments when he wants to eat at irregular intervals and I remind him we recently ate, “Yes, that was first breakfast. But what about second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, first supper, second supper.”

When my oldest son came home from college one day and commented, “You know, Mom, we’re a peculiar family” – well, he might have been thinking about moments like that, where Tolkien takes over our conversations.

It is possible he was thinking, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

I know that when he said that, I was thinking 1 Peter 2:9. My oldest son’s expression was bemused, wryly so. I opted for the most postive translation.

Caleb's Art

But back to my elevenses son, apparently born into a “peculiar” family, the heart of the brotherhood (not to be confused with the Center of the Brotherhood). When he was born, my joyful son asked, “What’s his spirit name, Mom?”

“Peace?” I asked, hopeful, frazzled at the wrestling and arguing between the 2nd and 3rd one at that time.

“No, Mama,” he said, 5 years old, leaning into the baby of the brotherhood. “He’s LLLOOOooovvvvve.”

And, he has been. He is our human resource guy – the one everyone loves, the one who manages to reach into the hearts of each brother without getting into their bubbles.

Outside the brotherhood, he is an artist, a guitar player, a soccer player, a basketball shooter, a wanderer into his own space, a prayer warrior when his friends hurt, a seeker of solitude with a saucy sense of humor.

His art delights me. He’ll go into his room, or sit at the kitchen table, drawing for hours, gifting me with them – and I am humbled by his giving, by his art, by his heart.

Sometimes he draws cartoon story lines. He drew 3 pictures for my office, which I cherish.

This elevenses boy, in this peculiar family, brings things outside that God put inside before he was fully formed. God gave him a heart for drawing, for making music, for building things – and God’s generosity humbles me more because these gifts He gave my son overflow and touch me, this mother’s heart that so struggles to be the mother I am called to be.

Caleb Art

My prayer for this elevenses son who expresses himself with the workmanship of his hands instead of words, I pray for your mind that guides your hands, that you seek to do the work of God, the work He gave them the gift to do, that your mind gives your hands honorable things to do.

I pray that your mind stay good and true, striving to learn more. . . more of the good things in life, the true things in life – and that your hands create testimonies of faith, hope and joy from your brand of peculiar humor and insight into life.

I pray for those hands that work with artist tools: hammers, pens, pencils, things that cut, things that create – that the heart of God is shown through that work. I pray your hands are blessed with strength, courage, follow through, attention to detail, care, comfort and health, evidence of the wear and tear of nobleness.

I pray that your hands reach for God in love, in praise, in worship, in thanksgiving and in times of reaching from the tops and bottoms of life, even 5th grade life.

I pray that your eyes discover the beauty of God around you – in the green eyes of a cat, to windowsill raindrop patterns, a blue sky, the cinnamon sprinkle of freckles, sidewalk rectangles, friendship smiles, bicycle spokes, the sound of wind in a fast run, castles on a hill, even the pentagons and hexagons of a soccer ball sitting on tufts of green grass, in turtles crossing roadways – that in your art, you meet God.

I pray that as your gift grows, your art praises God, calls to people in darkness, calling them into His marvelous light, in an elevenses way, a teen way, a young man way – a growing with you way.

I pray that your heart continue to find contentment in the gifts God put within you and that God send laborers across your path to help you unfold His plan in your life, to develop the gifts He gave you, and to encourage you in your journey to become the boy to man God created you to be.

Happy Birthday beloved, peculiar son nested amongst a peculiar family. I am so blessed God gave you to us.

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Snow Blessings

“Prayers Go Up and Blessings Come Down” (Yiddish Proverb)

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The grandchildren and great-grandchildren called my great-grandmother “Muddy.  Her friends called her, “Mayme,” but she is my partial namesake, “Mary Eva.” I remember when I was about 2 years old, meeting her.  She offered me a chocolate from a box she had beside her chair. I was shy; she was generous. I found her prayer-book one day when I was in high school. It was filled with notes, underlined passages that reached out to me.

Springtime makes me think of the seeds we plant, springtime and harvest.  I take comfort in the spiritual heritage planted by my great-grandmother, who loved the Lord. I am thankful for the blessings she stored up for me – not financial, but spiritual.

“Good people leave an inheritance for their children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” Proverbs 13:22

Two generations later, my spirit-man reached back and grabbed hold of my grandparents’ spirit man to reclaim the blessings.  I didn’t need their blessings to be pulled from the curse, but it was an inheritance that said, “I planned this for you. I loved you before you ever existed. I knew hard times would come, but here is something to help you out of those times.” Kind of like my great-grandmother had a box with a beautiful gift inside, but no one every came to pick it up. It was there for all the children and all the grandchildren.  She was just waiting to share this inheritance she stored up for us.

“But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children”—Psalm 103:17

Seed time and Harvest – My Great Grandmother planted seeds.  I gathered the harvest of those seeds.  They were there for me. And I re-plant those seeds for my children’s children. Or at least, I try to.

I am thankful daily that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” [ Deut. 21:23]

And I am thankful that the generational curses of the Bible are broken over my life because of Jesus.  I have gone through my “emotional” backpack to make sure I was not carrying junk that wasn’t mine, like my father’s adultery and his rejection. I pulled those weeds out of the garden of my inheritance. His actions are not “my cross to carry” – or my seeds to re-plant.   Jesus said his yoke was easy, but his burden light.  When we take up the cross of Christ, we lay down our burdens.  Jesus came so we would not have to carry those crosses society and satan have thrown on our backs, or harvest those weeds that choke out good things.  Jesus died on the cross to deliver us from sickness, depression, physical and emotional pain, guilt, rejection or whatever weed is choking out the garden of your life.

I am sure not all my seeds are good seed.  My sons can vouch for that.  Sometimes they try to probably dig up the seeds I try to plant in their lives.  And then, I follow behind, replanting, weeding, sometimes making progress, sometimes making a mess.

And then today, I thought about my great-grandmother. How she reached out to me – giving me a gift, an inheritance – and I want to be like that – for my sons, yes, but for their children and their children’s children.  I want my treasure I gather up to be an inheritance for them – a Godly inheritance that sustains – that reaches out and steadies them or points the way or just loves – trickle down blessings from Granny Blue Cotton.

Yes, I am trying to plant seeds for my sons.
I am storing up an inheritance for them.
For my children’s children.
It seems so fairy-tale-ish, so magical,
but it is so God!

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