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My second granddaughter was born early last week. It’s a time of celebration in our family. I wrote this prayer when her sister was born, this prayer for my granddaughter. I’m praying it – with much rejoicing and cheering again. For Ava and Norah:  “A Seed Bag, Water Bucket and Harvest Basket” was written for my granddaughter to share at a Blessing Shower. I wanted to share it with you in celebration.
Open your heart and hear
Sweet little girl
The voice of the Father
calling to
the Harvest Field
far and near.

Gather you
your water bucket,
seed bags
and harvest basket
gather and carry them
to the field,
Ripe
for harvest,

Little feet walking between
the furrows
Toes digging in,
breaking through the soul
With a laborer’s prayers

Little hands growing,
Working in opened-handed sowing,
releasing
Faith,
Hope,
and Love
seeds


Pouring out God’s
Holy Spirit Water
Sometimes awkward, sometimes grace-filled
sometimes rushing like a river
othertimes like the slow drip off a leaf
your water bucket pouring God
into thirsty seeds

Little feet at home in the field
Sometimes falling
But lifted up
By labor-field companions.
Little girl,
Raise your voice, growing praise
Singing, praying, encouraging
Bringing down a Holy Spirit Rain
To Miracle Grow the Harvest

Fill the Father’s baskets
Fill them to over-flowing
Neglect not a seed planted,
A vine reaching, a soul crying
To be gathered into the Harvest basket.

Little girl
With a bare, open-handed spirit,
Praising a Loving God
Calling your brothers and sisters
To the Harvest Field

Don’t forget to
Sit in the shade
Drinking your fill of living water
Finding refreshment, peace and contentment
At the feet of the Father who
created you,
Fitted you
For carrying your water bucket, seed bag and harvest basket.

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There are moments when my husband dazzles me, moments when the sun just dog-gone shines brighter because he walked in the room. When I feel slimed by the world, it all washes away with one word, one smile from him.  It’s as though someone sprinkled me with. . . pixie dust.

“All the world [marriage] needs is faith and trust. . . and a little pixie dust” (Peter Pan)

An enchanted marriage? Where there is more to our marriage then two people? More than the strength in our 2 pairs of hands, 2 pairs of feet. Where my guy doesn’t ride a horse – and I don’t have hair as long or as sturdy as a rope ladder – but we survive the challenges that threaten us, yet still retain that dazzle, that enchantment, that love. Retain it despite life’s roughness, imperfection, graceless moments, conflict and self.

I’ve always heard about marriage turning two into one – at every single wedding: “Did he not make them one” (Malachi 2:15).

Yeah – there’s a heap of him and an armful of me (Granny’s measurements) – but it is a secret ingredient that mixes us into one, breaks down the individual ingredients for marriage one-ness – one-ness God’s way. We are a mixture with many things dissolved between us: sweetness, saltiness, spice.  According to Chem4Kids some mixtures are better combined “than any of the metals would be alone.”

But nobody every told me about the other ingredient, the secret ingredient, the more-than-pixie dust ingredient, the not-talked-about part of this transformation into one. I never heard the second part of Malachi 2:15:

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?” (Malachi 2:15)

The Father gives an amazing wedding gift: A portion of the Holy Spirit. The same powerful gift He gave on the day of Pentecost, the gift that enabled Peter the courage to never deny Christ again, the power to overcome adversity, for love to grow big enough that to lay down one’s life for another, faithfulness that never turned away, wisdom to say the right word at the right time, insight to love completely and unconditionally, grace for forgiveness.

I love how The Message translation says Malachi 2:15:  His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.”

“The smallest details of marriage” – How small can you think? As small as a tear drop? As small as the penny in the bottom of your purse when that’s all you have?  As small as the alone-time with your husband when everybody’s need is so big?  As small as the letting out of the cat at 4 a.m.? As small as the lining of your kitchen drawers? Or the sliver of soap in the shower? As small as the energy left at the end of the day? As small as your confidence in the face of a mighty challenge? As small as your affection in a moment of big anger?

Sadly, this is often the wedding gift most often left unopened. When it is opened, it is a gift no one ever quite knows how to use, so it is shoved to the back of a closet.

It is a gift most successfull when used by both  husband and the wife –  in equal measure. Like cooking, familiarity, skill increases with use. Like spices, the more you use them, the more you understand just how powerful each is. The Holy Spirit is to marriage what yeast is to flour. It enables your relationship to be more than it was. It is the ingredient that dissolves two into one with the strength to maintain that mixture of oneness.

It is a gift that requires interaction. It won’t act until activated – until you mix it into your relationship through prayer, through asking. The Holy Spirit is like a spice in your cupboard. You might have it, but it cannot do anything until you pull it out and mix it in.

It is a gift that requires belief. When both believe  “the Holy Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.”  The power of 2 married believers (Matt. 18:20) + the Holy Spirit = a blessed marriage.

I tell my sons to pray, ask God to show you the girl He made for you, to pray about it – and to both have God in your marriage. If the Trinity is in it, you can face and overcome anything, your oneness intact.

That special something in your marriage? Not a sprinkle of Pixie Dust. Not that old black magic. Just a powerful portion of the Holy Spirit.  Pull it out of the pantry of your soul and use today! Embrace the Power of One.

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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.

Blessings:

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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Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work” (James 5:7)
Waiting – I was never very good at that. Learning to cook – that taught me much about timing – and that sometimes you just cannot jump to the end. The middle part, the rising part – it all fails without that.

My tomatoes and zinnia’s are like that, too – the inbetween the seed-planting and harvesting – the waiting inbetween, well – you really cannot rush it.

Parenting is like that, too. There comes a waiting inbetween, where you know you planted all the right seeds in the right ways – 4 square-kind-of-planting. Some seeds, though, require longer in-between, some shorter – but the waiting – for the harvest – oh, sometimes that is hard.

Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong” (James 5:8).

The Father, He wants us to be patient like the Father.

Patient: Persevering; constant in pursuit or exertion; calmly diligent” (Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary)

Not giving up hope

:. . . .waiting or expecting with calmness or without discontent” ((Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary)

How are you expecting? “Are you waiting without discontent? That in-between place can get mighty uncomfortable. You might not like the present state of the inbetween. Are you finger-drumming, surly-spirited, glass-half-empty, sack-clothe moaning waiting through the in-between?

Living in the inbetween – where there is no evidence of a good harvest, no evidence of the good things you planted – oh, that is hard.

How are you going to spend all that inbetween? Are you speaking hope? Walking faith? Smelling like Christ?

“Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Cor 2:15)

Maybe how you spend the inbetween time is like the Miracle Grow to your tomatoes and zinnias?

Maybe it is how we live in the inbetween that is really the important part – the hope and faith living.

“The Master could arrive at any time. Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner” (James 5:8-9)

Sometimes, there is a need to share the challenges.

I’ve had recipes fail. My garden struggled this year. The potting shed of raising children sometimes looks more like the corn fields through Kentucky this year.

I know what I planted, though. I know the resilience of God’s plan.

Sometimes I just need friends to listen to the tale, to encourage through prayer, to see the hope of God’s plan for harvest , not to complain, not to commiserate, not to grind up the seed through a faithless pestle of words that just tear up, not hope-up.

“Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God” (James 5:10)

God shows us over and over again in the bible – stories of hope fulfilled, God’s promises ful-filled, and in Hebrews 11 – we learn of hope continued to the other side for things promised but not seen here, today, right now. Those stories are God saying that our challenges are no surprise to Him, that He is our Champion – that He will bring us through – we just need to learn to believe Him in the in-between.

What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail“(James 5:7-11)

He cares about every detail planted in the potting shed of my life, my children’s life. He is faithful to the hope and faith in Him I planted in each of my sons.

He wants me to live the in-between as though matters have been taken care of, as though the harvest is assured – and so my words and the words of those around me will be hope and faith words, cheering words, sometimes through tears and pain – but words of assurance of a harvest bountiful, complete. They will have a sweet aroma.

Last night, I saw gaggles and gaggles of geese flying, celebrated a wedding in the midst of precious family, and as I walked grandbaby girl around, I found more acorns. Instead of 5, I picked up 7 – 7 seeds symbolizing 7 hope and faith potting-shed projects.

The acorns remind to live like I believe in the inbetween.

701) The moment, when frustration in the challenge overwhelms and I give it to God, firmly placing it all in His capable hands, trusting Him, knowing He is not surprised and He can handle the challenge much better than I can.
702) Italian Chamber music that soothes frayed nerves
703) Coffee in the morning with Italian Sweet Cream
704) I shabby chiced an old picture frame and put it on my ground-floor window at work – and every once in a while, I find blessing in what passes through my frame – students rushing to class, an evolving garden, rain spilling onto everything, a squirrel not quite hopping, not quite leaping but a leisurely in-between.
705) Coolness, the autumn kind. I know God is beside me all the time, but I always feel Him more – the clouds pull closer to where I am, the blue seems cheerier, somewhat relieved, and the coolness, it touches my cheek – and it all feels like God walking beside me.
706) Being together with all my boys for a wedding
707) Watching my soldier son walk the grandmother of the groom down the aisle, seeing his slow, comfortable smile spread across his face.
708) 4 pairs of shoes to find instead of 6, 4 belts, 4 pressured shirts and pants, 4 ties – all instead of 6 – God whispering, things are moving along as they ought.
709) Shoes outgrown and shoes still to fill – the blessing of hand-me-downs – a kind of experience that reminds me I can handle the challenges that come in those size shoes – because God has shown me He can handle it.
710) Sharing wedding tables with friend’s mothers who are now friends, too.
711) A grandfather’s prayer for his grandson marrying, filled with hope and faith
712) The blessing of beautiful places to celebrate important moments
713) Hugs from people you love.
714) Gaggles of geese, at least 7, flying across the evening sky as I carried grand-baby girl – and we both watched in delight.
715) 7 acorns on the ground, symbolizing these boys of mine, a daughter-in-law and now a granddaughter.
716) Lidia’s message at her blog, Crown of Beauty, about being an ambassador of love in the midst of unlovely situations.
717) Post-it notes reminding me of prayer requests
718) The energy that comes with feeling better
719) Sitting over a dinner table with my mother one evening – time to talk, time to laugh, time to be together
720) Sitting over a breakfast table with my aunt one morning, time to talk, time to laugh, time to be together
721) Just knowing that sometimes people are cheering you on, have got your back – and know your heart is worthy of that kind of support.
722) The littlest one, getting ready to turn 12 on the first day of fall, wanting me to sing him to sleep.
723) Knowing that sometimes, someone asking me to make a sandwich or fill up a plate, sometimes it is just someone really asking for an Acts of Service love language hug – and which it doesn’t sound like a hug or feel like a hug – it can be translated into a hug.
724) Getting ready for tomorrow, if I think of all the schedules, all the things that want to stress me out – and the list starts piling up, the Father, He tells me to set the pile down – to just step into tomorrow – to take the week just one day, or a half a day or a quarter day at a time, to not give up, to respond in love, hold on to Him and He will take me through to the end of it all.

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Stairs at Historic Locust Grove, not the house I am talking about

“Can I just sit in the stairwell?” I asked the owner of “The French Hen” – this antique store that had once been my home.

I am sure she hated those stairs; everyone did. At least everyone who didn’t grow up running up and down them a million times a day. They were old, tall and steep, the stairs of this house that grew when the dog-trot turned into a hallway once-upon-a-time ago.

I remember falling down them when they were occasional to me, little feet in tights slipping on old polished wood to fly out and . . . thunk-bump! on the slim cushion of my littleness. Tears would spring to my eyes even before my mind recovered its sense.

Yet, here I was, years later, sitting on those 200+ year-old-steps, hoping for what I am not sure. Maybe for my grandmother to walk past, the harness bells once on the front door to jingle, to pull off my grandfather’s work boots one more time, to catch bees in jars or slurp honey-suckle from the backyard vine.

“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions” (Ecc. 7:10)

Better Days? They weren’t. I know that. I don’t want to go back. I never want to go back. God has brought me so far.

Despite life’s challenges, each year, each day is sweeter and sweeter – holistically so much better.

Redemption – given and taken – is a life improver. Faith means knowing there is sunshine behind the clouds. Hope means knowing God has goodness in store – no matter today’s salty tears. God’s love means that His love heals, wrapping around me warming away the cold soul-chills of brokenness.

He has led me to something so[ul] better best.

“In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling” (Exodus 15: 13-14).

So I sat in the stairwell, not because life here was better. Homesick maybe. Missing people I loved. Missing grandfather’s azaleas – or how he would hide on the ledge at the top of the stairs to scare the hee-bee-gee-bees out of us when we went up for bedtime, grandmother’s fried chicken, lazy summer afternoons on the front porch, life B.C. (before children). Standing in front of the big fireplace during the winter of ’77 and turning, turning, turning like a good roast over a fire pit – but I was in front – and it was an old house with floor furnace, a gas stove and this fireplace.

After my parents divorce, 5-year-old me climbing into my grandfather’s lap and falling half asleep. My grandmother came in asking him to do something. She hushed and walked softly away, letting my grandfather hold me until I was slept out. I understood Father-God love through my grandfather’s love.

“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Num 11:5).

No, this is not like the Children of Israel being scared, not understanding the future and missing what was comfortable, what was familiar, not bondage to my past.

Stairway at Historic Locust Grove

It is a vintage thing.

Vintage whole cloth memory is not what brought me to the stairwell. What brings me to the stairwell is looking at my past fully and gathering the blessings left there.

Vintage: (verb) to gather or harvest (grapes)[blessings] for wine-making [remembrances] (1828 Noah Webster Dictionary)

To vintage my past, to sort through and let go of the bad and to press the good into my heart.(BCM sentence example of Webster verb definition of vintage)

To vintage (verb) is a joy-catching thing, catching things of God.(BCM definition)

Joy-catching moments like when God and I talked between the azaleas and forsythia. Where I asked Him to make me special to Him. Friday night steaks, my mother’s sewing machine where she made my navy blue prom dress with navy Bill Blass lace (a client where she worked had a son who worked for Bill Blass. He told his son that we couldn’t find pretty enough navy blue lace – and he sent beautiful blue lace to his father – free of charge), where I learned Saul became Paul, the feel twilight grass under my feet in the Spring, learning to trust God as I walked upstairs to bed in pitch black darkness, trusting that He wouldn’t let anything get me, where I learned love can be soft, tough, and graceless and that for love to endure and reach to all family roots one must love with forgiveness, the cardinal outside my window in the Oak tree in the sweet coolness of a summer morning after grandmother turned off the window fan.

I want to catch those blessings God left for me – more precious than the teacup my grandmother left on the wooden box at the foot of my bed one Christmas morning.

Some moments, memories, details you catch – and they are immeasurable, like dust particles floating in the sunlight. It is just a matter of looking for them in just the right light.

Some moments need to be discarded like memories of feeling like a second-hand child, seeing myself as the goose girl when I was a princess all along.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)

I sat there that day in the stairwell remembering flying down those stairs on the way to living, climbing them to rest. I sat there, waiting. Waiting for what, I don’t know – but, something in my heart needed. . . something.

Sighing, I pulled myself up. Stairwells are not for sitting. Stairwells are passageways for living. The only thing left worth keeping are the joy-catching moments, the blessings.

Maybe that is why I went – to vintage – to gather the memory of those blessings, the worthwhile pieces out of the whole cloth.

I thanked the lady when I left and walked out.

This isn’t a Lot story. This is a blessing thing, a vintage thing, collecting all the sweet gifts God left me in the backyard, in the kitchen, on the front porch, in the stairwell of where I came from.

In the gathering, I discover how this Father that is God has been intentional in my life, been present for every event, big and little – and that it is never too late to gather the blessing, the joy!

They are still there. Gather them. Vintage them.

168) a menagerie of stuffed bears in whimsical arrangement in a yard, reminding me of how when I look for the blessings, I find unusual, out-of-the-box things

169) A group of red cardinals and their less colorful mates dealing with an afternoon frustration of a mockingbird.
170) Taco soup, an orange juice cake and chicken salad made by a sweet co-worker on the first day of my new job
171) My grandmother’s coffee cake going with me to work that first day
172) Generosity of spirit from my trainer and other team members who say, “It takes a year to learn it all. Be patient with yourself.” And I wish I lived life like that in every area.
173) A window view at my desk
174) Heart doctors taking care of my mom over 16 hours away
175) Praying friends
176) Brothers helping a brother move with good humor on a Saturday morning
177) Green spinach, yellow eggs, beige artichokes and brown sausage in a white pottery pie pan lined with a puff pastry baking into a weeks breakfast
178) A friend walking a couple of miles with me
179) Snowflakes, bunches of them, so many I couldn’t see my neighbor’s house
180) Strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple and grapes in a trifle bowl for a baby shower
181) “I’ll give you a hug for some pineapple,” a son asked. I readily agreed.
182) Leftovers
183) My candy jar filled with mini Cadbury eggs on my home desk.
184) A matching one on my work desk filled with M&Ms (so wish people would eat them so I could fill it with Cadbury Eggs)
185) Mini Cadbury Eggs in 1 lb bags
186) Boys who help with the dishes on their assigned nights
187) Bedtime hugs and discussions – not taking them for granted.
188) Cornering my teen in the kitchen and flinging a hug on him.
189) Being able to take lunch early on Fridays so I can spend time with my Friday morning knitting group
190) How all my aunts pull close when one of their sisters needs them
191) A Tide Stick removing a very frustrating situation, allowing nothing permanent to remain literally and figuratively
192) That long distance has changed so it is no longer an occasional thing and I can talk to my mother in the hospital at any time.
193) Yellow Post-it Notes for Prayer requests on my bathroom mirror, helping me to keep my promises.
194) My son graduates from his AIT training this week from the reserves. He asked me to help him with his resume because he knows he has a mom who can do that. So glad God put layers and layers of things inside each of us, enabling us to minister in ways unimaginable to our children.
195) Learning to intentionally vintage God’s blessings all around.

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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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This blue-skied New Years Eve morning, the cardinal outside my window greeted me with a familiar call. The same call I used to hear outside the window at my grandmother’s house on those fresh summer mornings when my dreams and hopes were young and limited. When I was just a girl.

Cardinal Nest near my Door

The cardinal has always symbolized God’s comfort to me. At various moments in my life, the cardinal has darted from the roadside greenery to soar ahead of me. I can tell you today what I was thinking at those moments, the challenges that simmered within – and the Father’s comfort that seared into my heart, coaxing a smile and hope surged.

Too often lately, immersed in the big challenges, I have neglected to turn my eyes to the little blessings. That has nagged at me this year. At times, I have felt clumsy about spotting the blessings woven through my day.

I can rattle off the big blessings: God holding one son in the palm of His hand on the day he was born, saving his life; the answer to a prayer – our second son; the diagnosis for a son’s stomach ailment; my husband – these are all some of the BIG blessings, some very miraculous.

But, you know, it is in the everyday living, the mundane living where our spirits are shaped, where thankfulness springs up. Not that I am ungrateful or unthankful. Too often I spout thanks, with a sweeping arm and an unseeing eye – not taking the time to truly savor, not truly receiving the full blessing of God’s little gifts.

Being worn out with challenges, sometimes when just making it to the end of the day still holding on to my faith, hope and love is a huge achievement – worn out with the challenges, I fail to see the detail in what God has set at my doorstep.

My Father, He’s been chiding me about not seeing the sweet things He leaves for me, telling me to take better care of my heart and open my eyes to these things He has provided to comfort me whether it’s within the challenges, the refreshing or the walking.

My father doesn’t just give one-dimensionally. He doesn’t just give the BIG gifts.
He leaves little packages of blessing hidden in the shrubs,
tucked in my mailbox,
in a blustery wind wrapping around me,
in the fingers of my 11-year-old son making art to welcome his very first niece,
in the smile of my son eating my hot wings across the blue cotton counter as I cook dozens more,
in the neighbor children laughing and playing outside my door,
in all the wonderful places my cat finds to nap and soak up restfulness,
in the lemons sitting on my counter for my water,
in little and big boys wrapped in warm blankets
in Chocolate Celebrate cupcakes topped with Chocolate Ganache a friend asked me to make.

He wants me to seek those little blessings He drops off in my day,
see them, then pause and soak in their
color, their sound, their smell, their touch
a heartbeat wrapped in skin wrapped in a t-shirt
wrapped in a blanket
to savor
these Father gifts
little and big,
big and little.

This year is not The  Year of the Great Challenge, though there may be challenges. Nor is it The Year of Standing, though there are times when that might be all I can do. While it is not The Year of Refreshing, there will be moments of refreshing – and this last year,  The Year of Walking – I so needed that – but this year, this year is The Year of Seeing and Savoring the Little Blessings – and in the seeing and savoring living Thankfulness, living joy.

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

This year, I will savor these blessings, these consolations to cheer my soul. I will not neglect them, these gifts from the Father.

Wishing you a Happy 2012,
filled
with the joy of the Lord
Soaked
in His Saving Grace and
Wrung out
among the lives you touch

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