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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

cosmoI stood watering my garden under the stars, in the dark. I’m a literalist. It took me awhile to understand that when the Foxfire books suggested to plant under a full moon – it didn’t mean at night under a full moon.

I stood, thinking, squinting to see my flowers in the dark, after my son’s soccer camp. My zinnias looked more organized, more in a row in the dark. It must be the dark – because I’d poured the seeds of them in my hands and released them to flutter and fall into the back of my flower bed – behind the lavender, the day lilies, purple spikes and evening primroses.

I moved next to water the cosmos behind the irises. Squinting harder, watching the water fall where I knew they were – because, like the zinnias, I’d released them. Like the zinnias, when they’d grown a bit, I’d separated them. I couldn’t see them in the dark – even the big cosmos that should have been right there.

I’d guessed it was just too dark to see when my husband wandered through the yard to where I was standing. Plant, flower and vegetable watering time seem to be our time, a walk-in-the-garden kind of time.

“Caleb weeded your garden today,” he said, laughing in his easy going way. He went on to tell me how when he’d come out to check on Caleb’s progress, the garden was emptied of all my zinnias. Nobody had even realized the cosmos was in the weed – or that there’d been cosmos in the garden.

Kindness pulled the weeds – or maybe a touch of kindness with a touch of dad-said-I-have-too – but love had planted the zinnias right back.

zinnia2The even rows under the star-light – and the patch of black empty of growing cosmos – it all became clear. I could have grabbed hold of anger and frustration – because zinnias in tiny cups, flower bowls and mason jars all over the house are one of my dearest summer-time joys. It’s hard when the work of my hands comes to nothing.

I’d learned long ago, when my first born had broken a old china tea-cup my grandmother had given me one Christmas morning, wrapped at the foot of my bed – I learned to let go of the replaceable and grab hold of the irreplaceable.

It’s a choice what we keep and what we let go. Under the stars, I chose to grab hold of an intangible gift – just the kind of moment I needed – seeds planted, roots grown and little sprigs pulled out – only to be re-planted because they knew how much I enjoyed my zinnias – all wrapped up one of those stories I’ll love telling when I’m 90.

Stop (5 minutes)

It’s a blackberry-sweet tea kind of week. Won’t you pull up a chair, pour yourself a tall glass – and join me with Lisa-Jo at her place to write about. . . release? It just takes 5 minutes.

 

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pinkdogwoodThe boys, from the biggest to the smallest, roll their eyes, sigh: “You’ve told this story before, Mom.”

. . . and I tell it again, whether it’s the story of the day they were born, that 97 one earned on his Sophomore research paper, that I’d coached him through on a Mother’s Day in 2009 – when he did not want to give the detail, use the 3-step-method-of citation, put topic statements on all his inside-paragraphs

or the mystery of the missing turtle head

or the “You’re a cake” lecture

or how one 5 year old brother tried to evangelize his 3 year old brother one evening when he didn’t want to say his bed-time prayers

or how the oldest brother prayed for a baby brother for 3 years – and in the sixth grade, wrote about how when God answers prayers, He answers them abundantly

“I know the story, Mom,” each moans as I tell it for the gazillionth time.

But sometimes, we need to hear the stories, over and over and over . . . until the truth in the story, the soul of the story sinks in. It’s like that with our stories – and His stories.

Because He’s told the story since the beginning of creation

Through all creation.

“Have you not been paying attention?
    Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
    Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?” (Isaiah 40:21)

How the earth is reborn in the spring, grows, drops seeds to the earth, and dies for 3 months under the harsh cold – and rises again on a spring day.

How the moon grows to its fullness, wanes and disappears, to be reborn.

The story in the petals of a dogwood of a crucifixion to save us all

Since the beginning of time

Creation has told the story of rebirth, of being made new

Of giving ourselves away like the seeds circled within the fading petals of a sunflower

whitedogwood

 He tells the story over and over and over

The story is being told all around

Since the first day of creation

it flies, burrows,

creeps and runs

nests and sits

erupts, sheds and falls

feeds, heals and refreshes

Because sometimes for a story to sink in

Like a seed into the soil

To reach deep and take root

The story from creation to salvation

the crucifixion to the resurrection

is told told over and over

In every possible way.

The whole earth isn’t just full of His glory

it tells the stories of His glory

over

and over

and over. . . . as many tellings and re-tellings and it takes. . . until the truth of the story, the soul of the story sinks in.

My stories might not be as good as His stories – but I hope those stories tell of His glory. I hope that one day, my boys will really hear what I am saying – and see that I am pointing the way to Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory”
(Isaiah 6:3)

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springredbud_edited-1“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Spring, like morning reaching red-bud blossom tops, has come. After grey sky days spraying mists, spilling water from clouds too full, the sun came out, splashing colors across my world.

The dove sat on the electric lines, the robins, sparrows, mockingbirds, cardinals, tanagers, jays and blue birds are opening up nests, calling across the yard to each other – and the cat, Miss Kitty, stretches in the sunshine, watching, welcoming.

Sadie sniffs the moles waking up, moving under the grass – digging a golf course in our back yard.

The peonies purple stalks, lavender spider’s knots, volunteer pansies, irises and lilies are stretching upward, past the almost spent buttercups.

Like winter promises spring, storms promise blue skies, challenges promise refreshing. Saturday, as the rain washed clean my schedule, I thought how beautiful the Sunday skies would be – washed clean through to blue and white.

Challenges do that, from gentle mistings to torrential power-washings designed to wash or break off what doesn’t belong, potentially revealing more of who He designed us to be – one stormy challenge at a time.

After spending so many months introspective, inward, inside, wrapped in blankets, hibernating from the cold winter,  I’m ready, ready to give up my wish for snow (it always missed us). I’m like that with challenges sometimes – they become so familiar that I’m not always ready to let go when it’s time.

It’s time now to let this winter go. I’m throwing open my doors and windows, cleaning off the porch, scratching away dead leaf quilts that covered flower beds.

Spring has woken with a joy-comes-in-the-morning vibrance. I am eager to greet it – aren’t you?

 

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well2014c

“And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them.” (Genesis 26:18)

I can go to Muddy’s farm, though she’s not there anymore. I can walk through the field where the house once stood, where the white stone milk barn is overgrown with growing, climbing, twining things.

I can walk the path Muddy’s children, my grandmother and 3 uncles walked, where my mother and her 3 sisters and brother walked,  where my brother, cousins crossed the swinging bridge.

MuddycreekccI remember Muddy when chickens and roosters strutted in the drive, and the water behind her house where Brashears Creek meets the Buck Creek. My boys have been there, skimmed slate rocks across  the surface. That day, the water sparkled like diamonds under the blue sky and sunshine, as if to say, we’ve missed the sounds of feet like yours, murmurs like yours – won’t you stay like the children long ago stayed, shrieking, laughing, splashing, cooling in the summer heat, dragging toes through our sparkle?

Muddy’s creek wasn’t just a pretty sparkly. It refreshed, pushed back, nurtured – cooling fevers, quenching thirst, washed away the daily.  It’s banks could tell a story of provision for real needs, real refreshing – real life. Sometimes it forgot its place, over-stepped it boundaries and crept in un-invited into Muddy’s home.

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Proverbs 37:25).

Muddy's Milk Barn

Muddy’s Milk Barn

Muddy’s farm, where she and Claude walked out their faith, marked passages in prayer books that held journey significance.

where children were born and grandchildren summered.

where after cooking noon supper, Muddy would take her bible or her prayer book, sit up in her bed and read until time for dinner preparation.

where the harvest, the milk barn cows, eggs and chicks helped fill plates at her daughter’s, Mary Edna’s kitchen table in the city, when food was rationed during the war.

The farm’s been reclaimed by nature. Fire burned Muddy’s house down long ago – before I knew I wanted to visit it, to listen for her, think of the living that walked the wood floors or chose the wall paper – who watched her daughter move to the city, two sons marry and farm down the road and further down the road a piece – to the son who lived beyond her, who died one winter morning trying to help a cow birth a calf.
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22).
University of Kentucky 1998 Football Team, The Immortals, Player, Claude Wills

University of Kentucky 1998 Football Team, The Immortals, Player, Claude Wills

The builders of the house and the barn are gone, as are the aprons, the cake pans, the box of candy beside Muddy’s chair the day I remember winding my way to her, cows needing to be milked, the voices calling to supper, the radio, Claude’s leather University of Kentucky football helmet from their 1898 team, The Immortals. It’s all gone – but they left behind something nature couldn’t reclaim.

They left soul wells of living water that Muddy and Claude probably inherited from their forefathers. Their soul wells are my inheritance, available for me to open, to drink deeply from and be filled. Those soul wells reach down to nurture still today, just like they did during World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, through the 50s.

Life’s challenges may try to fill up those wells built for my aunts, uncles, cousins – my brother and I, our children – but they’re there, just waiting to be cleared, opened up for refreshing.

The names of that well are the same as Muddy’s:  Savior, Redeemer, Shaddai, Yahweh, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah-Shalom, Jehovah RaphaJehovah-Raah, I Am.

I re-dig those wells for my house – my husband digs them with me  for our sons, their wives, our grandchildren – and great-grandchildren,  – on down – leaving a rich inheritance. The wells we leave might be neglected, might be forgotten by some – but for a heart hungry for the great I Am – they will be there to be re-dug, to nourish, refresh and fill to over-flowing for the heart thirsty, a heart willing to find a Father God who loves us more than we can wrap our hearts and brains around.

The children of the righteous need never go begging. They have been provided for. Sometimes, they just need to go to the well, re-dig it, and drink deeply from the Holy waters.

muddy55c*Note: I know it was Mary Eva (Muddy to her grandchildren- Mayme to her friends) and Claude’s farm – not just Muddy’s. I wish I knew more of Claude’s story, but I bet his story is passed down from his sons to his grandsons, the shared work, man’s responsibility and leadership of the household – the hard digging of the wells. I approached this from the matriarch’s perspective that has been handed down over kitchen table preparations, where women gather and share their history. In this house-full of boys, there’s no one really to pass my history down to – thank you for sitting down to the table with me, dicing up some celery, maybe peeling some potatoes, sharing a cup of coffee or tea.  We all need to share our stories.

See a Root’s Inheritance here.
See Names of God used here

Tell Me a Story

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Bradford Pear Blossoms

Bradford Pear Blossoms

“How are you doing?” a neighbor asked.

“Right this very minute I’m doing great,” I answered, laughing, “In 15 minutes, who knows?”

Robin’s egg blue sky, happy Sadie walking beside me not running crazy, laundry almost caught up – chaos wasn’t walking with me in that moment.

Sunday morning church, a savory beef and mushroom stew in the crock pot, a blustery soccer game, lemon-yellow buttercups that I’d planted swaying – and an impromptu date with my husband. I’d wanted to take photos of the Bradford Pear trees and a patch of crocuses around town. I knew if I waited – the impending snow might delete that opportunity

“Now?” he asked, watching a little March Madness but he drove me, walked with me, patient with my photo-taking – and then we grabbed a bite at our favorite restaurant, a little Cajun place where we could watch a little of basketball madness while trying to figure out the artist singing 70s songs piped in for ambiance.

A day of joy-catching –  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced 24 hours of straight joy. To count it joy only if it’s in a long stretch is to diminish joy – and to diminish my life through review – and, well, really impossible – for me, at least.

If  Joy-Catching moments could be stitched into a story-quilt, I would want the pieces to create comfort, warmth.

If Joy-Catching catching is the sight, sound, taste, touch and smell of my word story, I want my story to be joy-filled.

If my story were a glass, I would want it to be half-full to over-flowing – not half empty.

corcusc_edited-1Every daily has a winter moment in the midst of blooming and budding things.

In the middle of my dog-walk, the leash broke. I met a Redbud Winter.

Everyone dressed, walking out the door to church, the littlest remembered he couldn’t find his soccer jersey, which he needed right after church. A Dogwood Winter in the last-minute turned a Sunday morning calm upside to find the errant jersey.

Friday, I was driving home from work, feeling joy just rise up inside me – that wonderful feeling of anticipating good things – and I held on to it, savored it, let it just burst into bloom – because I realized that maybe in 5 minutes a Blackberry Winter might roll through – a house full of children promises a crop of chaos.

Tomorrow morning’s forecast  suggests a Whippoorwill Winter might be in the making if I don’t stick to the time schedule chocked full of before and after school activities.

I remember a few years ago, our house selling – oh, what a high. After work, I drove by the house we were going to put a bid on that evening. A Pending sign covered the sales sign.

Dr. James Dobson in his book, What Women Wish their Husband’s  knew about Women, said that for every high, there is an equal-measured low. That pending sign took me to the lowest low.

The joy is there for the catching, in the face of the storm, in the storm’s midst – and in the aftermath: joy – just there for the catching. If I don’t catch it, the tenor, the texture, the words, the fullness of my story changes.

Sunday, I pulled out my camera to joy-catch Bradford Pear Blossoms. These 23 years I’ve lived in Tennessee, when the Bradford Pear blossoms burst out under a strengthening, the mercury climbs into the seventies only to back down in the face of unexpected frosts, ices and snows. A Bradford Pear Winter has the potential to steal away the blossoms.

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
 A right time to wage war and another to make peace (Ecc 3:1-8).

. . . . and on the eve of a Bradford Pear Winter, there is a right time to Joy-Catch.

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floridatrees14“For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9)

We packed up the van with 3 boys, 5 beach towels and bathing suits, one camera, a knitting bag, two computer bags, too many media chargers and too many pairs of shoes. I bet if someone looked hard enough, we could have come up with a kitchen sink. I don’t know how to travel without one.

We spent two days with my mom – experiencing so much blessing. We broke bread with those who love us, met people who shared their gifts with us, like Mary and Charlie’s red and white Camellias, come pink edged in purple – and ivory. They took us on a blooming tour of their hands’ work – building my mother a beautiful bouquet. I think they grew more than Camellias, azaleas – and all sorts of beautiful flowers I won’t get to see through the summer – I think they grew generosity of heart, friendship and genuine kindness, too.

IMG_9788cc

Sunday morning, My husband and I walked these Northern Florida small-town sidewalks canopied with Red Bud blossoms and tree moss -to church where we listened to a sermon that included The Devil and Daniel Webster. Then we moved to a Sunday school room, meeting a community who had prayed comfort for us this year when my husband lost his sister. A retired World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War  Navy chaplain  change our lives by telling his stories – of facing fears, ministering to athiests and waiting on God.  It made me want to go back every Sunday. It taught me about waiting for God to grow opportunities that save.

IMG_9820ccGod met me in the sidewalks and pond walks, the church walks and breaking bread – in the people, in the petals, in the moss above and winter leaves below not quite blown away.

We spent the rest of our holiday further down in Florida, practicing my joy-catching – and I caught smiles, a brotherhood strengthening, and time to savor. The littlest, the 14 year old, decided at the beginning of the journey, he was Zack who played baseball and basketball, who referred to us as “you people” – who settled into his born-to persona mid-way through and decided we could keep him.

We talked politics, faith and humor, why we need to love the hard along with the easy. We encouraged them to not out-smart their common sense as they logically tried to one-up each other. There was a little letting go and learning to live with time – time to find Him – in a long walk, in flipping rubber lobsters in a pot to win a blue and yellow stripped stuff animal, over a cup of coffee, in the strengthening sunlight.

IMG_9891ccDespite 10+ hours of over-stuffed traveling, teens trying to keep wrestling to words, despite them not being sure they really wanted to be with us in a hotel room for 5 days, not trusting mom and dad’s ideas of fun – I believed God would satisfy the longing in this soul and fill it with his goodness, that if I would seek goodness – I would find it. God proved himself good to me – I cam home with a soul-net full of joy caught.

“Thank you for taking me,” said the new college student when we got home.

Yes – a soul-net full of joy caught!

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks (Lamentations 3:25)

pinkflowers

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icetreebuds“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds” (Matt 6:26)

Sunday morning, as the winter storm blew towards us, I loaded the car from a visit to my aunt’s. Robins chirped over the backyard fence, maybe they were just calling hello in their own grocery-store rush. Two geese, racing in tandem, honked back and forth, racing? playing tag? Were they taking advantage of the calm before the storm – or preparing?

careless in the care of God

The ice didn’t come until I was home in my own nest, with my own chicks, wrapped in my own feathers. Most people are tired of this old snow. Me? We really haven’t had any. I keep telling people, Moses is standing at our western county line. When the snow clouds come, he parts them like the Red Sea.

I love snow – but it only dusts. Last night, though, water fell wrapping everything in a sheet of ice.

Diamond glitter is deceptive, dangerous – and it encased my world – red buds, dog wood buds, even the bird nests.

The birds, though, hopped around, on one foot then another across the icy grass. No complaining about the cold. No complaining about nests in the ice trees.

living the daily, even the ice-storm-kind-of-daily free and unfettered

icenestI woke early, wanting to find God’s love letter in it. Stepping out my door, the birch creaking with the icy burden, limbs snapping to the ground. An icy mist filmed my face.

wanting to connect with God, to answer His call with the uniqueness of my own voice He put within me – to let that voice connect with Him before I left to work where I am planted, where the job description allows only a portion of who I am

these birds not tied to a job description – me striving not to be

and I need to soar in the knowledge – the living, flying, spirit-filled knowledge – that He counts me more important

more important than these birds – careless in the care of God

Give your cares to me, He says, as I meet Him – let my kingdom  be your nest for shelter, nurturing, protecting and refreshing – where you can soar, fly, race, sing, swap word-songs at fence-post gatherings

So many people avoid God – thinking living for Him is limiting, oppressive or confining. It’s not, though. God is liberating. God’s Kingdom works in direct contrast with the world. It’s an Opposite Day kind of thing.

“Opposite Day, when slow means fast, when pink means blue, huggable means squirmmy, when sacrifice means gain.

The universe has order – God made it so – how our blood flows, how my grandmother’s coffee cake bakes, how cells divide, how coffee brews – it is all orderly process. Yet, what He wants from us is sometimes like an Opposite Day Paradigm.

To give ourselves up – our dreams, our hearts, our time, our identity, our dignity – to beggar ourselves until we’re empty with nothing left to give – that is the great deception.

. . . . God’s Opposite Day Paradigm take Sacrifice and turns it into gain. (The Sacrifice of Opposite Day Things)

Liberate your soul! Give yourself to Him – and become careless in the care of God!

icetreenest

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spiderweb
“It behooveth him to wax, but me to be made less” (John 3:30, Wycliffe Translation)

A storm brewed one summer night, tearing at the trees, pink flower petals – and the weaver web. All the parts – all six hands and feet of  that tiny spider were intent on making the silk thread stick  – stick to  brick pillars and porch eaves dripping water  – arms and legs weaving and darning simultaneously.

Just like this mother in me – with these boys – stocking shelves and hearts with nobleness books on heroes, freedom and faith, loving forever to God’s beard and back to plate-fulls of carrots and broccoli with dipping sauce to make it go down – to bed-time chronicles, God stories and prayers tucked in and lectured out on how to live this faith thing that is the most important part of the spinning and weaving and releasing of ourselves into our children.

Hands-on shoe-tying and shirt buttoning instructing,  math problem and oil level checks, to  true friendship discernment and loving hearts that need saving, challenge confrontation and over-coming training – and learning not to give up o confront challenges to overcome – sometimes 2 arms, 2 legs and one heart work as determinedly as the spider with the web – though maybe not as gracefully, as fluidly

like a spider mending and weaving on a stormy evening.

like a mother and a father giving out all that is within us until one day they stand tall above us, tall enough inside and out to leave . . .

to search out their own eaves and pillars on which to stick their faith and life mission where they become small and He becomes bigger – and the work of their life reflects His glory.

I don’t know if I explained that well – how our life’s work, that He designed us for – , that’s the story they will read, the song they will hear, the web a canvas to the artist. It is our family, that web – and the work and faith of our hands and hearts, what we put into the raising of them – that will say the most about us – and suddenly it is so much bigger than just me – these children and grandchildren – and in the weaving, the mending, the praying and faith of it are what people see, not me but the results of the life I lived, of the faith and love I lived.

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bulb314

Purple Iris and tangerine and lemon-colored lily bulbs burrow, roots reaching down for warmth in my Tennessee red-clay garden. The once rioutous pink, blue, purple and yellow flowers have retreated to their roots, and butterfly lures are just clacking sticks in the wind.

Winter is a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for,-the evidence-of-things-not-seen” kind of season.

The deceiver tries to hood-wink stray thoughts into believing it’s a dead time, a separated-from-God time.

Winter from 753-717 B.C. was nameless – no January and February – just gaping, no-name nothingness (50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World, Sprezzatura). I don’t know about you, but it tests my resolve, my confidence – when I cannot put a name to something – like the knocking sounds in the basement or when one son’s stomach hurt for 5 years, or when we didn’t know if our only child would turn into an older brother.

Not knowing is hard.

Not knowing is a winter-time season of a prayer sent out, like a nameless January and February.

Each Winter asks us to wait.

Each Winter demands faith.

Paperwhite bulbs on the sill remind me to have faith.

Snow falling is a faith dance from heaven to where I am, reminding me He hasn’t forgotten me in the winter of a prayer journey – where things are happening that I just don’t see.

But He does. He sees. And prayer returning will burst forth into riotous blooms – maybe not quite what I thought I was planting, but more wonderful than I imagined.

Something powerful is going on in this seeming nothingness of long nights, cold paths that don’t invite long walks, air that tingles against cheeks as if saying – “Go back in. We’re not ready for you, yet.”

Winters are for discipline or grace or extravagant love – and the emerging spring of a prayer answered is more beautiful because of it!

“He orders the snow, ‘Blanket the earth!’
    and the rain, ‘Soak the whole countryside!’
No one can escape the weather—it’s there.
    And no one can escape from God.
Wild animals take shelter,
    crawling into their dens,
When blizzards roar out of the north
    and freezing rain crusts the land.
It’s God’s breath that forms the ice,
    it’s God’s breath that turns lakes and rivers solid.
And yes, it’s God who fills clouds with rainwater
    and hurls lightning from them every which way.
He puts them through their paces—first this way, then that—
    commands them to do what he says all over the world.
Whether for discipline or grace or extravagant love,
    he makes sure they make their mark” (Job 37: 6-13)

wintermorn

 

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birdwings23c“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because
they have perfect faith,
for to have faith is to have wings.”
― J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird

Praying today that you and I , believereally, really believe that He’s got the it in our lives taken care of. Praying that we trust Him enough – that when we do struggle with believing, we run to Him, into His thrown room – no knocking, just running with abandon and need,

. . . just like my boys did long ago when they believed Copper, the dog, had chomped off the over-night turtle guest’s head . They came running in, wailing, distraught that the unthinkable had happened.

I hope, if you and I have unthinkable moments, we shove past the guards, straight into His work room – and throw ourselves into His arms for comfort.  He can fix it so much better than anyone else.

My boys didn’t think anything could be done. They grieved. Poor Copper was placed in the figurative dog house. I suggested we wait a while and set the turtle aside. They drifted out of the kitchen, not understanding, not believing – it just seemed so impossible.

God – this Father of ours, He’s not too busy with someone or something more important. He’s also not surprised – about anything. He’s already drafted the plan. While we’re there – in His work room, )’cause isn’t that really what His throne room is) – He drops everything for you and me.  He’ll take us for a walk, like He did in the twilight with Adam and Even in Eden – and He’ll dry our tears. Later, He will let us crawl up in His chair so instead of getting worn out and giving up we can rest to soar.

God knows we struggle with really, really believing that He’s got it. He knows we struggle sometimes with believing miracles are supposed to be everyday possibilities, even though Jesus came and showed us miracles weren’t meant to be every-now-and-then happenings.

He doesn’t chide us about our inconsistent really, really believing. He doesn’t hold back until we’ve believed 3 times and proved we’re good believers.

“And Jesus said to a father who wanted his son healed, ‘All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’“(Mark 9:23-24).

I do believe; help my unbelief

Be honest! He already knows anyhow – He knows every struggle. He’s detail-oriented like that. Just straight out ask Him, “Help my unbelief.”

and He will

He will help your unbelief. He will help you spread your faith wings and soar!

“But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind” (Isaiah 40:31)

Note: Click here to discover The Mystery of the Missing Turtle Head

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snowroad“Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road”(Luke 24:32)

dirt, gravel, sand or asphalt
a thoroughfare
drag
bridle path
cow path
a beaten path
footpath
or bicycle path
in the lowlands
high lands
or mid lands
heat covered
puddled
or iced
He approaches us
on our own Emmaus road
solitaire
“What are you thinking about?” He asks, intruding
in my alone
a twosome or a klatch – He joins in,
like He belongs
“What are you talking about?”
sometimes I make room
and pull Him in to the community,
whether I am bumper to bumper
in Christmas traffic
and car-line pick ups
and He listens
really listens to me
spill my passions
over routine laps in the daily
or cruising down an empty highway
“Tell me more,” He asks
unsure at first of His sincerity
because I’m just a small fry
broken and torn
no hint of coolness
no mantle of importance
but He wooes me
like I’m somebody
worth listening to
and, finally, I believe,
yes,
He really does want to hear
what I think and why
and I do, spill inside out
He listens until I’ve put it all out there
and then
He starts telling me
big and little things, little and big
until suddenly it’s time to go
to push the pedal of the daily
and I whisper, “Stay. Come home with us.
Be with us in the breaking of the bread
and open our hearts and eyes
and I mean it
even in my kitchen mess
and after-school emotional pop-corn
fills the vehicle
I want Him to join us
on this Emmaus Road journey
where He opens our eyes and hearts
on the road
do you hear that?
on the road
while we’re going about the journey
in the daily
on the road
are heart and soul opportunities
to burn
in a Holy Spirit Fire
with Him
Stay
Stay with me Lord
every step, every mile
of my day

 

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blueberry2013c5c

No cheese to go with the whine – just blueberries – ripe and un-ripe – pinks and blues.

Sometimes I have to do things like cook and can my great-grandmother’s chile sauce, sit and read a  Pride and Prejudice chapter , maybe knit a row – or pick blueberries – it’s like claiming through sheer determination a sane, choice moment in a life like a packed blue convertible careening out-of-my-control down a steep hill – though whatever is at the bottom of the steep hill is where I’m going- and those moments, those activities bring grace back into it – sometimes surface grace. Sometimes deep grace.

Grace permeating despite the whining – about picking blueberries.

The blueberry lady at the Farmer’s Market invited us to come pick (see sister post, When the Blueberries are Not Yours to Pick). Our familiar patch wasn’t open this season – and I needed to pick blueberries. Not just for recipes – but for inside things, soul things.

At mid-day one Sunday after church, in-between the rains, when the sun came out hot, scorching our skin and pulling sweat out of us, we found our way to this new blueberry patch.

The bushes were only a few years old. We had to bend and squat to pick.

But sweet things like blueberries don’t just come to us. We have to go after them, work for them, sweat and be uncomfortable – knowing in faith the joy they will bring us in the cold months – a jar of summertime unsealed and opened – or a summertime unsealed from a freezer bag – in the middle of a winter snow storm.

I knew God would be there in the blueberry patch. He’d met me there before (see Blueberries for the Soul).

The boys, Keith and I – we each had gallon buckets.
“A gallon each,” my husband charged the boys. “Can’t leave until then.”

The last time we’d picked, the boys hadn’t even managed a quart total. That was with 3 boys and a girl-friend. Today I had two boys and a husband. In the other blueberry field, we stood, not needing to bend – we could reach on our tip-toes to finger-tips stretched, like reaching to heaven.

Here it was harder, more uncomfortable.

I wished I had brought my gardening stool. The boys  wished I’d just not brought them.

“Pick the bushes clean of blue,” I encouraged. “It keeps the flies and bugs away – and it doesn’t waste.”

The blueberry lady needed the ripe blue picked.

I followed behind, gathering what the boys missed.

blueberry2013c2“Guys,” I cajoled, sweat dripping down my back, the pressure in my head rising. Bending over does that to me. I keep telling them I’m old as dirt – but they don’t pay attention. “Guys, – don’t miss a one. Go past the outside branches to the deep inside.”

We picked and they missed so many of those ripe blue inside.

“Think of each blueberry as a child or adult who doesn’t know God – but their hearts are ready – if they’re blue blueberries – they’re ready.”

The buckets slowly filled. We each got better at picking the blue.

God doesn’t want a one missed – not a single one.

Some are easy to reach.

But God doesn’t want a one missed.

Not. a. one.

In the quiet of the picking, my heart prays, “Father, I don’t want to lose a one – not a single one. Like these blueberries designed to be picked – my boys and so many others are designed for you, designed not to be missed.”

As we move down the rows, bending, sweating, I encourage quietly
don’t just go after the easy ones
find the ones in the difficult places
past the chiggers, where wild things might nest
down low in the uncomfortable
or in the boughs where you have to stretch – though that’s not where we are right now

go deep and pull them to me


“You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally” (Ezekiel 34:4)

blueberrysum13Sweet things like blueberries and salvation don’t just come to us. We have to go after them, work for them, sweat and be uncomfortable – knowing in faith the joy they will bring us in the cold months – a jar of summertime unsealed and opened – or a summertime unsealed from a freezer bag – in the middle of a winter snow storm.

It was easy to pull the outside blueberries into our buckets: easy to see, comfortable to pick.

Inside the bush, though, past the easy outside, were ripe blueberries, so needing to be picked.

Teens, Young Adults, Young Mothers, Old Mothers – not making the right choices, not in the right places, trash talking, talking to loud, abrasive – in their words, in their stance – in their style

not in the easy places

not comfortable to pick

Raising boys to men, some take the hard paths to get where they’re going.

God’s not surprised. He went into the dark places, pursued Jacob, Rahab, Samson – they weren’t easy . They just needed time to ripen – like those pink blueberries weren’t ready to be picked. They would be, though – one day – and they were designed for boy-to-man hands to  pick – or mama hands.

I encouraged the boys – go deep, pick every ripe blueberry.

They were designed for picking.

“Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers (Matt 18:12-14)

blueberry2013c31

If a blueberry is created to give the birds, the beasts and man pleasure – then each blueberry has a mission. If the ripe blueberry wastes itself on the bush – what kind of message does that send to the pink ones, the ones growing to fulfill its destiny?

It sees not destiny, no hope to fulfill God’s plan for its creation.

Sometimes we have to go into the hard, uncomfortable places, to go deep to reach each soul, in order that its its destiny be fulfilled – be complete – be His..

Don’t just go to the easy places. Go to the hard to reach places. Pull as many as you can to God.

Don’t let a one be wasted.

We ended up with 4 gallons that day. Each of us picking one gallon. These boys did a great job going deep and pulling out ripe blueberries, summertime blessings for the winter.

Shaddai – He joined us there in the blueberry patch – and gave me so much more than blueberries. Maybe my boys, too!

4blueberrybucket2
Come of these blueberries fulfilled their destiny
in a Blue Cotton Crunch
100_2071
In a Meringue Shell atop a chocolate ganache

(recipe to come)
bluemeringue2c
and my Blue Cotton Blueberry Muffins

(recipe to come)
bluemuffinc2

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IMG_8028Thoughts on the day before my birthday (note: It is a dangerous thing – giving a mom time to string thoughts together – much like green beans climbing a pole):

“What’s on your bucket list to do before you die,” the dj said over the radio.
I don’t put much store in bucket lists. If I can’t satisfy my spirit within the daily – bucket list activities won’t touch the deep in me.

A bicycle trip through the Loire Valley?
Sit on the field where the Battle of Hastings changed the course of history?
Live in a cabin in Vermont through a snowy winter?

I imagine those who didn’t survive the Holocaust, soldiers who didn’t come home from war, children who didn’t survive childhood diseases – I imagine bucket list activities would be what fructose is to honey – the honey being the potential of the daily.

. . . before I die. . . I want. . .
 ~ my heart to still have that forever love for my husband, to still be holding hands, still seeing the reason we said yes 30 years ago Tuesday – still smiling and not giving up on each other
 ~ both my husband and I to have shown our sons how to grow old loving the Lord – in the refreshing times and in the challenging times.
 ~ to see each of them showing others the love of Jesus Christ – intentionally
 ~ forgiveness for shrugged-off hugs and imperfect mothering
 ~ to have encouraged those the Father sends across my path – whole-hearted, hands reaching – and not to have missed a one He sent my way
 ~not only my porch door always opening for friends and family – but I want home to welcome, refresh and comfort – and I want them to come – always.
 ~ always have granola bars in the cookie jar, cupcakes on the counter, or ice cream in the freezer with a cup of coffee, ginger tea or lemonade with lemons and orange slices – ready to share
 ~ daily remember how long ago I wondered how I could be faithful to Yahweh for a lifetime – and today I marvel at how I can’t let go He has so grafted me into Him.

Living in the daily can be a soul-deep experience, a priceless experience.

The literalist in me struggles with things like bucket lists – and faith sleeves. Literalists make poor cheer-leaders but wonderful encouragers.

butterflybush3ccWhen I turned from the radio, I read an article where one of my very favorite Lord of the Rings actors talked about his faith and how he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve – which left me wondering – Well? Where do you wear it?

Jesus wore his faith on his sleeve – all the way to the cross.

Not in a religious way – and by religious I  mean a Pharisee-and- Sadducee-way of following God – the old testament way – a by-the-rules way – where the rules are more important than anything else.

I’ve thought about this  because one time, one of my teens told me I was too religious. If all you see is religion, then you are not seeing the relationship.

Jesus wore his faith on his sleeve in a relationship way.

He didn’t use church language like Brother Peter and Sister Martha or vocabulary that shows you are an insider. I doubt he talked in a cadence that identified Him as a preacher. He didn’t confine his out-reach to the temple. He took it to the streets – the hillsides and town squares, to leaders and outcasts.

He came to us as an Everyman – the Son of God born an Everyman – who spoke with an Everyman vocabulary of penny and nickle words. Did you realize the classics were written in penny and nickle words? With His Everyman vocabulary, he told us about a loving Father who hadn’t forgotten us.

He told us that He was our brother come to pull us into the family of God – that He wanted us to help Him pull others into that family – and that meant wearing our faith on our sleeve

Faith wearing doesn’t win popularity contests with the world, though.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15: 19-20)

Living the gospel, living Christ’s message isn’t religious. It is relationship – with Him, with the one who sent Him, with the Holy Spirit

Wear it on your feet, in your eyes, on your hands. Wear it in your actions, your words – even wear it on your sleeve.

Beware – Faith on Sleeves isn’t safe.

Matthew wore his faith so openly, he was killed by a sword wound.
Mark was dragged by horses through the streets until he died
Luke was hanged
Peter died upside on a cross
James was thrown over a hundred feet from a temple because he wore his faith on his sleeve.
Stephen was stoned
Paul was beaten, flogged, stoned and then beheaded
Bartholomew was whipped to death
Thomas was stabbed with a spear
Matthias was stoned and beheaded

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”
—2 Corinthians 12:10

butterfly62I don’t want to wear religion on my sleeve. I want to wear Christ-faith on my sleeve – relationship with Him on my sleeve – regardless of the consequences.

The Father one day long ago invited me on a journey, a journey that took me away from religion and into relationship with Him. He let me come at my own pace, didn’t grow impatient with my literal and graceless ways. Some days He walked with me. Some days He stood with me. Other times, we just sit and talk about things like bucket lists and faith sleeves.

It is a journey in the daily that needs faith sleeves.

– a literalists thoughts that meandered and climbed the day before my birthday.

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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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treeseeds

New growth comes after the harsh, bitter winter –

with its biting frosts and stinging ice

New growth – without it, hope and faith are stunted

survival, potential threatened

New growth heralding strength, survival, life extending,

growing taller, reaching higher

New growth testifying vibrant health inside and out

becoming more

so much more

than the beginning every imagined

New growth worth living the winter

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8)

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“Celebrate,” he belted out, swinging his right arm in an arc, palm face forward
in a Wal-Mart aisle, walking beside his dad.

“Rejoice,” left arm, swinging in an arc, palm face forward.

Both arms held in a V – just waiting. . . waiting for the right count . . .
“Exalt the name of the Lord,” and his arms shimmied upward, reaching high, words to the rest of the song following.

Little boy singing uninhibited of His Lord, a song from his church musical – overflowing
in Wal-Mart.

My husband smiled, telling me about it – part proud, part sheepish about this boisterous, out-loud
singing of a little boys heart
celebrating the Father
throughout Wal-Mart
His dad didn’t tell him to stop, though – he let it just flow out –

an odd little smile on his face in the telling – an odd smile that I remember today, making me think it was a moment to be stored for days where faith needed remembering

little boy letting out his song
his faith song
planted something deep
with roots reaching
that wouldn’t be so hard to pull out
when the hard times came
the teen times

““For there is hope for a tree,
When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not fail.
8 “Though its roots grow old in the ground
And its stump dies in the dry soil,
9 At the scent of water it will flourish
And put forth sprigs like a plant.” (Job 14: 7-9)

hydrangeas2c
and something that once bloomed, was cut to the stump, like my hydrangea
when we transplanted last year
and it looked so lost, nothing but dry sticks through April, May, June, July –
“Just wait,” my husband said. “It will grow back.”
and so I waited, making myself hope, making myself believe
that we did it right
then one August evening, we saw a little green, pea-sized
on a dead-looking branch
Hundreds of days later, this Saturday morning, it stood under my kitchen window, stems and leaves growing tall, strong – not blooming yet but emerging with new life
hydrangea
My prayer to Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd, is and has been that none will be lost – and he told me in His word, and all around me –
His creation showing me His promise –
whispering it in the stories of their roots, their leaves, their blooms
My transplanted hydrangea, the butterfly bush, the knock-out rose, the yellow flowering shrub without a name – they told me the story to encourage my belief. . . my hope. . .to trust
butterflybush

the story of the root of Jesse that was cut down by the world that sought to destroy it
and yet it survived – it was as though the trees, flowers and bushes were putting on a remembrance play in my yard, daily for hundreds of days.

I think really, it was a play going on long before I heard it, read it, watched it – since before I was born, even before Eve took the bite of the apple – the play, the chorus was in creation.
butterflybush2

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1)

God does not forget the roots planted deep in little boy hearts

His word tells of the salvation story of the root of Jesse who died on a tree so that we may live

that He came to die to save us
to save us from missing it
walking away from it
losing it
getting lost from it
but the root remembers
and wants to be found
by
Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd,
who pursues
every
lost lamb
who pursues to bring
every root back into the light
shoot through the darkness
into the light
to leaf
to bloom
to become as He designed

butterflybushc

Looking at those sticks last year – it was a chorus in my yard – a message of hope
to rejoice in the pea-size
to do the dance of joy over that pea-size dot of green
and wait
because growing to bloom takes God time
and today – its leaves are bursting green

If you have a teen/young adult who is struggling with good choices – remember the seeds you’ve planted, the roots that have grown deep – God remembers – remind Him, stand in faith on them – just because you don’t see the evidence of them does not mean they are not there.

Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd, though, is already pursuing, searching, working to restore – you might not see it – but He does.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Little boy and little girl voices bursting in faith songs in Wal-Mart aisles are not forgotten by Him, the God who is my Shepherd.

Unconditional Love # 19

Unconditional Rule #10

Unconditional Love #26

Top 10 Unconditional Love Rules

The Runaway’s Hope in a God-Made Ladder

Still Counting Gifts with Ann at a Holy Experience:

    1. sharing Sfogliatelle over Friday lunch with my husband
    2. 6 a.m. Tues/Thurs workouts outside at my house with a friend
    3. compliments on the work-ethic of my sons
    4. 2 boys deciding to apply for phlebotomy training and the other radiologic technologist because they do not want to take the traditional route through college
    5. my second son and his girlfriend standing beside me in church
    6. and coming to the house to grill afterwards and sit talking over the table
    7. rain fall, rain drops on an at-home day where I can just be blessed – rain is like God saying to me, “Slow down. Relax. Just let it wash your spirit clean.”
    8. each random smile from each random son – at the top of the stairs, across the dinner table, laying across the porch settee, arms wrapped around the puppy – in the rear view mirror – each makes my heart smile right back!
    9. evidence of Jehovah-Raah pursuing each of my sons – evidence of the holy shepherd leading them home

 

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robin2ccMy senior’s graduation over, out-of-town family packed up and returned home, photo video for the soccer team done, I was at the end of myself.

Some children you cheer over the finish line, some you drag – both fighting for independence in their own ways. 3 down 2 to go.

I wandered through the house retrieving knitting projects set aside mid-winter, stuffing them in an overnight bag with clothes for the weekend, my pillows, my camera and computer. . . and I left. . .

Needing to empty myself of the stress, to recalibrate, to find within myself the fire and desire to continue this mothering journey with zest, joy, fire, energy and vision.

I drove 4  hours to my aunt’s house where she met me at the gate, and we just wrapped each other in a big hug – we hadn’t seen each other since December.

We sat on her porch

where we drank coffee in the morning

where I walked Zoe, her fluffy bundle 2 miles each morning in the park across the street

where we lunched

and watched robins and listened to cardinal calls in what seemed like a sanctuary in the middle of what was long ago small town America.

where I pulled out one of those knitting projects, ¾ of the way complete, saw a mistake and a way to make it better, because boxy vests don’t wear well on apple-shaped people – and I pulled out the stitches to begin anew

As I pulled out 15 inches of stitches, Aunt Joyce, she rolled the evidence of my mistakes into a colorful yarn ball.

This getaway was like a sieve, allowing the unwanted inside material to fall through slots big enough to let the bad out – small enough to keep the good in, separating the dross from the gold, the wheat from the chaff.

We hunted through nurseries on busy intersections and dirt roads, found yellow and blue baptisia. We dug some holes and planted new, dug up some old, yellow evening primroses – enough to take home for one or two abundant spots.

Bought angel stars from our favorite bakery

smelled perfume in a shop

And we sat

just sat together

graveyardThe morning before I left, we visited the grave yard, where grandmother and grandfather are buried, and her husband – and the ladies who played bridge weekly with my grandmother – and remembered the year it snowed on Memorial Day at Long Run Park where we were picnicing for Grandmother’s birthday – that was about 46 years go, maybe 47 – when my cousin and I had been whisked into the back of somebody’s car, given a plate of fried chicken, green beans and bread and told to hurry and eat – while the aunts, uncles and cousins and siblings had to face the surprising blizzard – my cousin and I sat carefully guarded from the harsh elements.

Another aunt invited us by; she’d been working in her garden, thinning out perennials – and had some for me.

I tried to say thank you, but she just waved me away, “If you say thank you for plants given, they won’t survive.”

Aunt Joyce mused as I pulled out of her drive about how my car looked like a flower shop.

Not rushed, or should I say, not letting the chaos rush me – I took time for hugs. On the way through the county where my grandmother came from, I stopped by to give another sweet aunt a hug.

In the quiet, the spending time, the walking, the coffee, the planting – I looked for at first Shaddai, the Mighty One of Jacob – I needed some quality time with Him.

And He was there, Jehovah Shamma – just as He was there in the low, dark part of the challenges, in the emotional cyclone that can sometimes by part of raising boys to men – Jehovah Shamma – He was there in my drive, in the walking – everywhere I turned, I looked and He was there – there with me – just waiting for me to step out of the cyclone and find Him under the walking trees, in the night breeze coming through the window, as I drank coffee in the morning, in the steps of the robin.

I went to Jehovah-Raah, asking Him to not just be The Lord My Shepherd, but to be the The Lord My Shepherd to my new graduate.

I found Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that Heals physically, emotionally and spiritually – and He breathed His Holy Spirit into this spent soul

Breathing new life

Re-calibrated

For the next part of this journey

lavendarwedding6cJehovah Jireh, He reminded me that He will provide, not just the outside stuff needed for growing a family, but the inside stuff I need – like the manna He provided for the Israelites – that He gave them more than enough everyday – His storehouse is open for me – already equipped for everything I need for the next 6 years of this journey – and the journey after that. I didn’t just ask for me, though, I asked for sweet friends who need His provision, too – because I am not alone with my struggles. By my own hurting, I understand better the hurting of others, the need for others to reach with me in prayer – and I want to reach for them, too – reach for Jehovah Jireh for them, too – no one likes to battle alone, or retreat from battle to regain strength alone, either – that’s why armies are not made of one – we need to battle on together, helping each other with things like lunches, sitting together, praying for each other.

And He reminds me that He is Jehovah-Shalom, He is my peace,  my word this year– to live in it, immerse in it – breathe it in and out – until it is no longer a this-year word but an everyday, every minute word.

I came home with peace – a Shalom-kind of peace – with a Holy Spirit fire kindling my life zest, energy, and joy for this new journey stage.

I came home to these 2 boys still in the nest, a husband I love with all my heart, like a warrior flying the banner of my Lord high, the banner of my Lord Jehovah Nissi – a daughter of the King ready to charge into battle once again.

I am so glad I live under His banner.

(Still Counting His gifts with Ann – in the above are 1019 – 1034)

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flowerWishing the Storm would Blow through
Windows creaking,
whistling around the eaves, moaning
pressure
bringing chaos to order
head hurting with barometric
pressure changes

Wishing the Storm would Blow through
and I move to the porch,
and listen to the rain
the Holy Spirit Rain in the storm
sitting on a green rocking chair
I sing under my breath
“Holy, Holy
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
You are Holy”

I ask Him to meet me there
in the storm
Ask Him for that Holy Spirit rain
puddling around home
to come inside
me
to come inside
and give me peace
in the chaos of the storm
and He does
the pressure in my head
subsiding
turning my chaos
into His peace
and it changed
everything

1021) Squirrels come out of their nests, running past my window
1022) Past the yellow and purple panies
1023) Cardinals nesting in my trees
1024) Backyard Birds darting past as I plant zinnia seeds, hopes of yellows, oranges, fuschias
1025) volunteer Chard, carrots and zinnias – that good things return despite nature and off-chances
1026) sweet moms turned friends sitting together on soccer fields
1027) a son finding his zone and playing well
1028) Changes and choices in education opportunities for my boys – reducing stress in a system that is now more concerned with test scores than grades
1029) a new puppy, Sadie Rose, falling asleep on my toes
1030) My senior reminding me to choose joy when everything is going wrong – knowing my words given out and handed back are indeed planted
1031) A husband who knows my strengths and weaknesses and helps me out when I’m having tough moments
1032) Smiles from my boys – all kinds of smiles
1033) Buttermilk cupcakes filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with caramel icing for friends of my sons who are beautiful gifts from a loving God.
1034) A don’t-give-up spirit despite things like Google-Map mistakes making us an hour late for a soccer game (meaning we arrived when the game began), a don’t-give-up spirit for when chaos surges in, exhausting me – and I still make those 48 cupcakes for a prom dinner next weekend, and for really important things like not giving up when I don’t see the evidence of God’s plans – I still believe in it!
1035) Opportunities over the kitchen table to let a son’s friend know God is not surprised – God has a plan.

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butterflyd10 copy_edited-1On holiday at the beach when the sun and clouds pulled closer to my patch of earth and the tree leaves looked like patchwork quilts of oranges, reds, yellows and fuchsias – my husband and I found ourselves floating quietly by ourselves in a sea of salt.

Our boys had abandoned us for a lazy river and video games. The littlest, he’d constructed a half-hearted sandcastle – only because I said we’d needed one – and he’d not grown up enough to relish not heeding me yet.

I bobbed and my husband floated along the currents, savoring the peacefulness of it all, me not quite trusting the quiet; my husband taking it all in stride when a Monarch butterfly beat its wings up and down from shore toward us, past us – and we watched, our bobbing and floating turning to follow his journey beyond where we could see.  We watched, expectantly – and gossiped about its journey until the current pulled our attention to where we wandered – and we set to working ourselves back to align with our beach side property of chairs, blankets and bags.

In the bobbing and floating, trying to catch a good wave – both our attention was caught by a Monarch butterfly beating its wings up and down, out of the distance, past us without a pause, to the beach, straight to the Beggar’s Ticks beyond the beach walk.

We paused – wondering if this was the one that had just left – or if maybe this was one come from across the gulf.

I kept wondering what message those butterflies carried from God – Nothing ever goes to waste if we just pay close enough attention.

A few weeks ago, the message in those butterflies revealed itself like moon runes (The Hobbit).

A prayer – I don’t’ know if it was one prayer sent 2 years ago or the book of prayers sent out 15 years ago for one son – sent out on a journey like a Monarch butterfly. The Journey takes time – maybe one minute, 2 years or 15 years – but a prayer I sent out came back, like that Monarch returning – it came by answered.

Just like Daniel’s prayer sent out on a journey before it returned answered:

“‘Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you. . . .’?(Daniel 10: 12-14, The Message)

Oh, yes – I long ago decided – I couldn’t raise these boys with just what I had or my husband had. It is humbling to realize sheer determination cannot generate the results I want. I cannot  love my boys good enough. I cannot teach or talk good enough to save them from a fallen world. Humbling myself to the Father – saying to Him “only you can”  – and it liberated me – and it saves them.

When I sent those prayers out, “Save him” – this Father God heard – and He set out to come for me to save each of my sons.  Like in Daniel’s story – it was a journey to answer that prayer. He loves us like that – He loves my sons like that.

He came. He helped – and that prayer answered came one night  up my drive way, beating its wings up and down, up and down – and as it hit my porch steps – and it brushed against a new prayer being sent out – a similar prayer being sent out – for another son, another teen facing challenges, wanting to leave before it was time.

Long ago God told me about this son – that his mouth would be loosened – and it did – the stuttering stopped. That his ears would be opened – and we learned how he heard differently – that his mind would be freed, (I believe children diagnosed late with things like Central Auditory Processing Disorder or Dyslexia often develop patterns of frustration that need overcoming) – and then he would turn to Him and be healed.

That brush with that prayer going out knocked out the scales that blinded his soul eyes –  repentant heart revealed, eyes suddenly selfless seeing and in the seeing grieving. Self-centered emerging selfless”– an answered prayer come home.

The prayer leaving? Another teen, he wanted to check out of high school when he was 18 – and go back to the high school he went to Ky in for 2 years, check in, graduate there and in the process minister to his atheist friends.

A prayer returning brushing up against a prayer leaving.

Just like the sun can shine in a rain downpour, my heart rejoiced and cried at the same time.

Hint: from my blessings list in Butterflies and Beggar’s Ticks:

  • oceanfly

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butterfly62_edited-2Monarch butterflies
On Beggar’s Ticks seeds
Yellow seeds with barbed awns
Sticky, burring yellow awns
Designed to be carried
to Other places and other soils
By unsuspecting flutterbys
carrying unsuspected messages
tarry here
tarry there
living breeze to breeze
dropping Beggar’s Tick
futures
an inheritance
for other seasons

Carrierflys
Work to wait
wait for just the right
breeze-stirred air
designed for
para-sailing flutterby
missions
Across sand and shells
Past orange and raspberry sherbet
Beach towels
Past old and young
little and big
arms, legs and noise
playing wave games

Clapping and flinging
summer-colored wings
in spiraling airflow
Across ocean expanse
Across salty, slippery
grey, blue and green
stickier, deadlier than burrs
from a Beggar’s Tick

one wing beat
at time
To reach a home
risking to gain
all
against ultimate loss
to reach a home
never seen
a home always
calling
Something deep inside
something that says
butterflies Are born
To
Fly
Home

oceanfly“There will be a highway
called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious
is permitted on this road.
It’s for God’s people exclusively—
impossible to get lost on this road.
Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road,
no dangerous wild animals—
Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
The people God has ransomed
will come back on this road.
They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion,
unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness
as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night” (Isaiah 35: 8-10)

Come by Wednesday to see the Story behind the Poem

996) Walking a mile in a warm moment between winter and spring moods
997) Snow flakes in a Pear Blossom season
998) Time for children to recuperate. My boys ended their Spring Break with a re-peat case of Chicken Pox.
999) Toscano Soup on the stove top, leftovers warming at the end of a tired day
1000) brothers reaching out to brothers
1001) a husband that prays with me, from the top of the house to the bottom, inside and out
1002) Red cardinals fluttering in trees, calling to each other
1003) for friends – both mine and my sons – who pray, interceding
1004) Sunday morning church where hearts and hands reached out in love – not knowing our need – but loving
1005) Coffee after church with my son and a couple who have known him, who listened to him, who shared heart words with him
1006) seeing walked out, good friends of my sons who say care enough to say, “Don’t” – and lay open their wounds to show why.
1007) God moving more gracefully, with perfect timing in ways me with my mom mojo cannot
1008) wise laws that still exist
1009) A gift of 9 weeks in exchange for 9 months
1010) my teen revealing a heart to minister to athiests
1011) an answered prayer returning home after being sent out 15 years ago
1012) a repentant heart revealed, eyes suddenly selfless seeing and in the seeing grieving. Self-centered emerging selfless
1013) Watching my 2 little guys come off a soccer field, toes stiff with cold, cheeks red – smiling
1014) Friends on the sidelines
1015) Blue skies on a cold Saturday’s soccer tournament
1016) a cafe mocha warming
1017) people who know your name when you order to go
1018) 2 soccer games worth of photos resulting in smiles and laughter, doing a job good enough for profile pictures and banners – being able to bless others with something I can do
1019) Catching up with faraway friends
1020) Experiencing that while some prayers are a 15 year journey – some are 96 hour journeys – with much evidence of a mighty Father working on our behalf IN that 96 hours.

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sunrisebIt would take an unsearching and illiterate  heart to not find and read the messages of God in the everyday of the mountains – from the hard cover front of sunrise to the hard cover back of  moon-down.

I would know. Until last year, I was unsearching and illiterate in finding and reading the love letters of Shaddai.  Then I took Ann Voskamp’s challenge at a Holy Experience to find and read the gifts – these love letters –  a big God gives a little me daily. Too many have I missed throughout the years – because I could not read what I did not know I had.  It changed my life – its attitude, its peace-factor. The content of the love letters in these gifts left me content.

We took off for the mountains this weekend – and I pulled my night-owl self up at 5:40 on a Spring Forward morning to watch the sun rise.

For a long time, I sat with my coffee – lost in the dark expanse. A hope and faith time. I have learned, though, that He meets me when I wait for Him.

Black darkness faded, slowly, so slowly revealing iron-clouds shielding unpolished silver.

sunrisebc

In the slate of sunrise, my hope faltered – “Is this all? No riotous color carnival?”

A cardinal chattered merrily, going about it’s morning business – and I waited, committed to greeting sun-rise – and finding blessing whatever the colors. Shaddai, like a good father brings his children gifts after being away – Shaddai brings gifts – always – a cardinal chattering, an empty water pump, squirrel nests – and they all contain letters, messages from Him to me.

Mountain top edges and a before unseen, unused one-lane road below me in the forests are exposed. I peer hard to make out the road. There is a letter from Him to me in that hitherto unseen road.

The slates of run-rise lightened, the rising light revealed a fierce man swimming in cloud currents, right arm raised to pull the next stroke, left arm pulled through the clouds, stretched to the thigh – swimming his race, from sun up to moon-down – face fierce in its determination – another letter from Him to me in those clouds.

Light pink suffused upward from the mountain tops then deepening to shades of blush and purples.

sunrisebcc

Pink mists rose like Hope and Faith to greet a loving Father

Mountain tops rejoicing in flaming silver and purples.

I met Him there, in the silent, color combustion of morning waking. I waited, despite wavering surety. I hoped despite what I didn’t see. Sometimes I have to wait to find.  This once illiterate heart found His gifts and read them.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8)

After a year of counting the Father’s blessings, the love letters of encouragement He sends me, I think it’s time to teach these boys to men how to find and read the gifts, the blessings He sends us from sun-rise to moon-down.

It is attitude changing.

Relationship building between this God- Father and I. I see Him more everywhere, Him with me, me with Him.

These boys, they need that real relationship, that God-with-me/me-with-God relationship. Not just a morning-and-evening praying relationship – but one that sees Him everywhere all day long – sun rise and moon down long.

In the darkness of the challenges, those gifts, those blessings – contain messages of encouragement and revelation.

It may be one of the most important reading skills to develop.

Dear Father,

I pray that my sons’ hearts look for, find and read the messages in the gifts you have for them throughout the day. I pray their hearts grow in faith, love, trust and relationship with you – that not a gift from you is left un-found, a message unread – whether it is something as simple as a cardinal swooping ahead of them on a road, the smell of sweet grass on a soccer field, cirrus clouds in a robin’s egg blue sky or something more serious. I pray that you will open their hearts and their minds to become not only literate, not only fluent but voracious readers of your messages. I pray these messages change their attitudes to hope and faith attitudes, enabling them to find joy, contentment and peace in the midst of challenges – to give hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Waken them each morning, Father, waken them to listen like one being taught. Open their eyes and unstop their ears to the sound and sight of you. I pray they experience you walking beside them, boy-man to God, that they turn their head and smile broadly at what you two share together. Your word says, “All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace” (Isaiah 54:13) I believe that Father. I trust in that. I thank you that because Jesus died for my sins, I am your daughter and, as such, can petition you directly in regards to my sons. Because I am your daughter, you will teach my sons and great will be their peace.

(Gifts 985-990 listed in the post above)

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I’d walked 3 laps around the park, my aunt’s little white bichon ball of fluff trotting along beside me. A cold front blustered its way through the park, knocking off all the leaves.

There I was, the wind buffeting my head, trying to keep a sweet-natured dog on-task, and my mind battling frustrating thoughts, that, well, I guess just come with life.

I had been looking forward to this walk – and for good reason – but I’d forgotten. Isn’t that how sneaking those frustrating thoughts can be – to sneak you away from your intentions.

I don’t know if it was the leaves crackling beneath my feet that reminded me – but I pulled myself out of useless thinkology, looked up and asked Him to join me for a final lap.

He had been waiting all along. I realize He waits everywhere. I don’t know why here is so special – but it is. It was as though He linked His arm through mine – and off we went, plus a sweet-natured ball of white fluff not missing a step.

He pointed out the great reveal the cold front created – all the nests in the tree-tops. Squirrel nests. Bird nests. Occupied nests. Vacated-for-the-season nests.

If trees clap their hands in praise, then nests are made in the praise.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12)

That is where security and protection are – in the praise. Comfort lives in the praise. Home is found – in the praise.

The next day, my husband, the boys and I helped with my aunt’s Christmas lights, tree and ornament boxes, I picked up a little book on a table. Any book on a table begs an introduction.  A 4-inch by 3-inch, hard-bound, 1878 presentation book, a faith remembrance passed down to today, with scripture for each day of the year:

Squirrel Nest

“‘He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wing shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler (Psalm 91:4)

He that hath made his refuge God,
Shall find a most secure abode;
Shall walk all day beneath his shade,
And there at night shall rest his head

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God. In Him I will trust'(Psalm 91:2)” (November 23)

Within the nest of praise, He covers me like the leaves of the summer trees. Like the baby bird in the nest, protected beneath the wing of its mother, so am I protected by the Father, tucked into the nest built by faith-born praise.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt 6:26)

The act of praise opens the doors to His refuge, allowing him to settle me securely, no matter how precariously His refuge might look to the world, like a nest built of broken twigs and dried out leaves  in the thin tops of a tree – and I cannot help but trust Him. I cannot help but praise Him for never abandoning nor forsaking me.

How many nests can you find?

 

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Paddling together in the ocean, each in a 48-inch color-whirl inner-tube, not too far from shore but away from the busyness of children playing – we floated. My husband kept me anchored, ensuring I didn’t bob off into international waters. While everyone else played, we saw dolphins jumping high out of the water.

Looking down into the water, I was startled to see 3 pairs of eyes looking at me – eyes belonging to 3 grey-sand-colored looking fish trimmed in yellow. Other fish nipped at my heals dipped in the water. Minutes later, little bee-like stings caused me to yank those heals out of the water.

Oddly, nothing stung my human anchor. Except for the little stings, our late morning paddles in the ocean were a treasure.

The last morning, though, my husband had a business call to take, so I pulled myself out into the ocean, past the busyness of play, beyond the sandbar, past a fisherman, and another studying the waters net in hand. I looked down – and there was my little grey-looking fish friend, trimmed in yellow, seemingly escorting me. As I settled into my last holiday ocean bob, the stings started gain but were much more intense, circling ankle and all over my feet. This time, it didn’t stop.

There I was bobbing out in the ocean, feet pulled to the top of the inner tube – which was really challenging because that’s where much of the rest of me was.

I asked the man with the net, “What’s stinging me?”

“Jelly fish,” he answsered. “They’ve been here all week, but today they’re worse.” He walked over to show me one he’d just caught. “There’s one with a 4-foot diameter behind the gate,” he said.

There, in the little net, was a jelly-fish, resembling a clear round lunch-baggy filled with water .

I could have frumped out of the ocean, my reverie interrupted, bewailed the stinging and the unfairness of it all – I do love bobbing about in the ocean on an inner-tube. I could have whined that my knight in shining armor wasn’t there to protect me.

I didn’t, though those jelly fish changed my routine, changed the course of my day and sent me off doing other things.

I’m starting to understand that sometimes life’s little stings, like little mother pinches urging to “get a move on” are designed to move us from one place to another – not necessarily physically but spiritually.

I shouldn’t be surprised that when God does a new thing in our lives (Isaiah 43:18-21) – that these new things are often preceded by emotional or physical discomfort – think of childbirth.

Think of how different the life of the rich young man if he hadn’t walked away from the sting of exchanging worldly riches for eternal life.

Saul experienced a stinging prelude to change before he was transformed to Paul.

The crippled man was willing to accept the sting of a potential fall by attempting to stand in faith.

The woman with the issue of blood risked the sting of rejection to be healed.

The apostles risked the sting of their family’s judgement about their responsibilities in making the seismic decision to leave their nets(jobs) and follow Jesus.

Esther experienced the sting of change, moving from her community to the palace, not realizing the change would save her community.

Naomi and Ruth’s stinging loss of their spouses, propelled them on a journey that not only would find them both fulfilled but become part of the geneology that would fulfill God’s plan of salvation.

Mary risked the sting of stoning when she told the angel, “Yes.”

It is in the aftermath of the sting, that change manifests – and it is the behavior in that aftermath that affects not just the journey of that change but result of that change.

Think of how the sting of infertility brought Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah closer to the Father, though sometimes their choices complicated the journey to the sting’s intended result.

Think how different the sting of responsibility would have been for Samson had his choices in the journey been different. Yes, Samson fulfilled God’s plan for his life – though his choices affected the journey to fulfill that plan.

That day as I bobbed on the ocean in the midst of a school of jelly fish,  the Father was trying to tell me something – to tell me sometimes in order to create His changes, to shepherd us in His direction, to move us closer to His plan’s path, that sometimes I need to change. Those changes might be inside heart-changes or out-side changes.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2)

That day in the ocean, instead of fussing about physical fish-stings, I knew I needed to look for the message – and once I translated the message, I readied myself for upcoming change.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16))

There have been changes, both relatively immediate and on the horizon. I am praying for guidance on these journey changes – hoping that my choices do not negatively affect that journey.

Maybe one day, I will not need the sting to make the changes God wants in my life. However, right now, I would rather have them to shepherd me to God-change than to remain un-changed, un-shaped, un-transformed.

808) laundry folded
809) reading The Hobbit with my youngest son
810) who went off to read it by himself and returned totally amused and detailing the introduction of each dwarf and hood color – all this from a little boy who does not like chapter books.
811) when a day stretches and there is more than enough time for all things big and small
812) an answered prayer unfolding
813) the hope in that answered prayer of a future restored
814) peace, rising up in my home, an ahhhh, soaking-kind of peace
815) the energy to make my special hot chocolate and surprise the boys
816) smiles, one by one, son by son
817) squirrels scampering across the outside of my window
818) clear blue skies on a Saturday morning – touching flaming yellows, red and orange leaves to bring joy in a 3 hour ride
819) the marching band playing in the afternoons when I leave work
820) every day with my husband, his strength, faithfulness and sense of humor
821) holding grandbaby girl for 10 minutes
822) listening to my mom talk about how God protected her when she fell leaving church
823) leaves that swirled, dipped and danced, in a teasing wind on my ride home from work
824) tomatoe still from my garden on a grilled hamburger
825) zinnias still blooming
826) people that live kindness in so many different ways that touch my life each week – a smile walking down a hallway, a knitted gift, a hug at church, grandfather words for my sons from a dear friend at church

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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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Blessings like Zinnias

pomegranate red zinnias
shaped like dahlias
thrive in Full Sun living
no shades necessary
to protect
from living its design
where planted

always reaching,
for heat and glare
cactus-shaped heliotrope purple petals
grow better
in weathering challenges

gangly,stalky stems
overlooked by whole package beauty shoppers
seeing too much imperfection to appreciate
button-shaped tangerine orange
dazzling in God’s appointed bloom time
those willing to love an imperfect creation

God-designed to withstand
a world of drought
beehive-shaped lemon yellow
blooms hope and joy
to be carried to other places
in clear mason jars, pink pottery vases,
thumb print glasses, cutglass rose bowls
set on harvest tables, welcome tables
bedside tables, porch-side tables, work tables

never blue,
zinnias bloom to seed
seeds for you and me
for tomorrow seasons
needing caring hands to harvest
and slide hope seed stories
into white envelopes
sealed and stored until
Time
To grow
Some more

 

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A Seed Emerging Fragile (Click here)

I confess – I enjoy a front row seat to how these boys communicate to each other in this house of mine. Their tag-team humor, their eye-popping honesty to each other – sometimes it un-nerves me. Other times it humors me beyond measure. At times, I just want to pack up my chair and exit. Every now and then, it just wows me.

My soldier-son, he went to visit my people in Louisville. He admired the girls there. Thought he might find himself a Louisville girl.

“That’s what your dad did,” I quipped. He decided maybe he really shouldn’t find himself a Louisville girl. Those are the one-on-one, light-hearted conversations.

Then there’s the two on one talking. A brother talking about the challenges of working at a camp, a worker spitting on the floor he’s mopping, wondering if leadership realizes all the trees he’s cut down, the grounds he’s mowed and how this son is frustrated with hypocrisy but wanting to live faith.

Moments like those are sometimes the “wind-whipping- moments, when either because of our choices or others choices, we are “tromped, hoof pressed, storm weathered pressed leaf pressed, water pressed, gravity pressed,into soil blackness”

“Get used to it,” said the soldier son. “That’s life.” He paused and a few seconds later added, “Pray about it.”

We looked at him, not sure how serious he was taking this conversation. This son who rolled his eyes every time I said, “Pray about it.” This son who wasn’t sure how to handle the Prayer for a Solder son I sent him last September.

The conversation continued. In the midst of life’s challenges, living faith came in the form of a crying camper whose walking stick was broken by a bullying camper and how this joyful son struggling with challenges that threatened to distract him from what he considered his real mission – showing God’s love to these campers – searched for another stick from the stick pile, crafted it into something awesome and gifted it to the camper or how he carried a camper with a twisted ankle to the nurse and then carried him back to the cabin.

“They say they want to be like me,” he said about these campers.

That is where “the core of itself remembers light and flimsy roots push upward emerging fragile. . . reaching ever light upward.”

That’s life, I thought, the good fruit of life, that is. Where walking faith rises above the challenges like cranberries in the water in the harvest.

Soldier Son says from the kitchen, “Pray about it.”

And we both look at him, “Are you mocking us?”

And he repeats, “Pray about it. I’m serious.”

And I am just overwhelmed at both of them, these seeds emerging fragile, growing faith, using that faith, no matter how imperfectly, despite real or imagined challenges, to live hope in an imperfect world.

They both seemed so fragile to me this weekend, these young men 6 ft 3 and 6 ft 5. God was reminding me that no matter how fragile they seem in the challenges they face. No matter how they are just young men, seedlings and saplings on so many levels, God’s word, that faith seed within them, is more mighty, more strong, more than enough to grow them out of these fragile times until they are to the world what an oak tree is to an acorn –

because God is just that big, that powerful, that faithful to us.

 

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The mighty rush of the wind
whipping tree seedling
severing from
the mighty pin oak protection
tromped,
hoof pressed,
storm weathered pressed
leaf pressed
water pressed
gravity pressed,
into soil blackness
seemingly world lost
until the core of itself
remembers light
and
flimsy roots push upward
emerging fragile
thinly
waveringly
faith and hope fragile
vulnerable
growing gentle
slow
reaching ever light upward
strengthening
widening
deepening
stretching heavenward
sunward
into a mighty pin oak
sprouting fragile seeds
harsh weather regardless
this born again journey
of a life given over
to our Savior

526) 10 squirrels running past my window at work, as though a tri-cera-cat was chasing them – God showing me He was there and there was fun to be had
527) friends letting us use a field for a son’s air-soft birthday party
528) dinner with friends, laughter, and a faith story of forgiveness in the bible that I hadn’t realized before
529) Grandbaby girl dedicated to the Lord
530) Holding grandbaby girl during church,
531) Her falling asleep without a peep in my arms, that I can do that
532) All my sons sitting in service together
533) Celebrating Father’s Day with my husband. When God answers prayers, He answers abundantly. He gave me an amazing husband!
534) Zinnia seeds grown to bloom
535) Conversations with my sons
536) Cardinals chirping at 6 a.m.
537) Dove calls in the evenings
538) Evening walks with my husband reviewing the progress of our carrots, tomatoes, zinnias, butterfly bushes, peppers, shasta daisies and so many other growing things
539) The hope of prayers answered. I might not know how they are to be answered but God sends clues just when I need them!
540) Things stored in my heart, messages from the Father, that prepared me – the remembrance of those messages
541) pumpkin seeds volunteering
542) my sons’ humor – either in solo or in a chorus.
543) homegrown eggs from a friend – because that’s what friends do
544) my husband helping me because he wants to, not because he has to
545) friends in the blogahood who pray – that they are friends like that.
546) peaches at the Farmer’s market
547) the difference one year can make

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If Trees were Ents

If my grandmother’s backyard trees were Ents*
and could stories tell

where my grandfather built us a treehouse

Would they drop acorn-ringed history
of Indians walking root to root
scouting behind tree skirts
explorers, surveyors and hunters
seeking new soil for new hope
on the edges of Bear Grass Creek
where hungry bears lunched
on bankside yucca grass

Would these trees, “Baroom! Baroom!”*
and moan a lament
of once-upon-a-time bears and wildcats
following tree roots
to the yucca grass-lined creek
once bigger than a brooke,
bigger than a stream
big enough for boats
carrying new stories

Would their Ent stories
would they recall
the sounds of Long Run Massacre
of sons stake-burned
and wives scalped,
of fainting salvation
these Indian ambushes slaying
Lincoln’s Father
the wrestling sounds of Indians and Settlers
on these dark and bloody grounds
over these roots that reach deep
this battle
for home

Would the footprints of La Fayette,
of Daniel Boone, of men
hiding whiskey
as brother fought brother
are they imprinted in the soil
beneath their shade, pressed into a living root?
have the footsteps and shade seekers become
a more ordinary
intentional walk
civilized stepping
to what would one day become
my grandmother’s main street sidewalk
that led to her back yard

Would wooden limbs raised in praise
slump at being relegated
to backyard living
waiting for life, any life,
even two legged-life
to walk creek-stone paths
beyond forsythia hedges
and white azaleas
stuffed behind elms and oaks
these hemlocks and pines
still standing a few feet from where once a field lay
now cluttered with parking lot overgrowth
roots reaching but not finding
Bear Grass Creek,
imprisoned beneath concrete gullies and ditches
trickling through pipes
where boats cannot fit
to bring supplies, settlers and cattle
to new beginnings, new life
this Bear Grass water
not now fit for wildcats, turkeys and bears
for consumption,
immersion,
baptism

Would their Ent stories tell
of dignity lost or redemption

of a lone little girl finding the creek stone path,
circling its leaves and limbs
to step inside foliage arms
and climb branches up high
carrying books full
of other places, like a settler seeking,
a safe adventure
not knowing the dark and bloody history
not knowing new hope history
not knowing of limbs raised in praise
just spending time together
belonging, comforting, living
one so needing to be needed
to belong to a story
one so needing a place to
be
Until a grandmother calls,
“You don’t know who might get you up there.
Come down
Where it’s safe.”

Alone, hedged in by change
where springtime’s violet carpet shrinks
the only thing unchanged
are limbs raised in praise
and roots reaching for
living water

If the Trees in your backyard were Ents
What stories could they tell?

* Ents were trees that talked and walked in J.R.R. Tolkhien’s The Lord of the Rings.
**”Baroom,” dialectal pause-utterances designed to keep language “unhasty.”

dignity lost or redemption gained

The story behind “If Ents were Trees” – well, let’s be honest – if I’d had a daughter, maybe Ents wouldn’t have captured my attention – Ents being trees that walked and talked unhastily in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s character development found it’s way into character development lessons in our household: “Are you noble enough that Strider would have invited you to be part of the Fellowship?”

No handmaiden stories in our house, unless they were for me alone. The stories for my boys were Knights-in-Shining-Armor stories, Warriors, filled with nobleness and fighting for right.

I remember choosing rustic-looking light fixtures for our house so our boys would feel at home. Not too shabby chic or too elegant. Maybe my vocabulary and my story telling grew to fit my everyday-kitchen-counter audience.

Warrior training, the discipline and skill development of Knightly character – and even Entish creations have seeped into the marrow of my motherhood, probably to the dismay of my moms-of-daughters friends.

A few weeks ago, when I was visiting with my aunt, I’d walk for a few miles on the walking track civilization built in the field where Lafayette watered his horse when he stayed at the Inn that is now city hall. Big changes were getting ready to happen in my life. I was going to start a full-time job the next week. These visits would be harder to come by. Motherhood was going to be tweaked.

As I walked that track, I looked for blessings.

It was a blustery afternoon when I walked, and the trees tipped and swayed.

I remember smiling, walking another half a circle, when I felt someone start walking beside me.

And the trees waved and bowed – and I smiled. He had come.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12)

I felt God slip his arm through mine. My hand had been tucked in my pocket. And we walked together, a power-walk that suddenly felt graceful. I t was as though he pointed to the left – and there was a squirrel. A fat squirrel scampered up a tree. It reminded me of grocery store foragers before a snow storm.

It seemed like we shared a laugh, our heads bent in conversation no one could hear.

And He whispered in my mind,

“If Ents were Trees. . . .”

Suddenly, the trees became something more.

“Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth” (1 Chronicles 16:33).

If stones can shout praises (The Message, Luke 19:28-40) when people won’t.

If Trees will sing for joy before the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:33), (Psalm 92:2)

This Bursting into song, “you mountains, you forests and all your trees” (Isaiah 44:23)

Then maybe there is God praise going on around us all the time.

Maybe when we take the trash outside, if we looked for the blessing, we’d see the trees praising God.

Maybe if the windows were opened at night, and we listened for the blessing, we’d hear the trees praising God.

Maybe when Lafayette watered his horse, these same trees were praising God.

That maybe, when I climbed that tree to read a book, maybe I not only interrupted a tree having Church with God but His presence wrapped around me from all that Praise.

It’s not a Cathedral, a canopy of trees. Rather, it is a chorus, a praise dance troupe, loving God creation.

And that day, as I walked arm-in-arm with God, I walked a part of this God-me relationship I hadn’t experienced before. More than a be-with-me. Not a “we’ve got to talk” moment where I listen, chastised.

An arm-walking, smile-sharing, poetry-bantering moment just between God and me.

God talks to me in the language I have been living, a mother-raising-knights-in-shining-armor-language. It’s not filled with handmaidens and pink polka dots. It’s filled with Entish things – like trees praising God while He walks with me.

“All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. “‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.'”(Ezekiel 17:24)

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The snow came this weekend while I was under the weather. I made my special hot chocolate for the boys, made myself go out with my camera to take a few photos because I would be disappointed if I didn’t, made favorite loaded potato soup – and jumbalaya – and had nothing left over for writing. This post, though, oh, how it speaks about my love for when the Snow comes to my doorstep. 

“Hast thou entered into the storehouse of the snow?” (Job 38:22)

“Snow is here represented as something which is laid up like treasure, and kept in reserve for use when God shall require it. . . . like the weapons of war, to be called forth when God should please,” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

What have I laid up in the storehouse of my soul? A treasure? Weapons of War? Snow? I admit, that when times toughen, and the little foxes tear at me, it is what I have stored up that sustains, strengthens, gives hope and sees me to a good result, a peace result, a joy result, a content result. In the midst of battle, it is the storehouses that tip to victory.

My Spirit has grieved to not see
Snow for the storehouse
Snow for the ground
For the pin oaks and fir
when all along
the snow for the storehouse was in me

The hurricane of snow’s icy taste,
feathery-melt snow-touch, metallic-smell,
crunchy yet silent sound
are just for reminding
of God’s mighty weapons, tools pulled
from His word, of His faith, about His love
all stored up in my heart
working out my fingers,
voiced in the faith ballad
walked out in my snow boots
God-Words heard, read, stored
in the Storehouse of the Snow

the snow today was just for reminding
to inventory this storehouse
of my soul
these miniature crystals, dazzling Holy Spirit light
from the inside out
Like God in me
Hast thou entered to inventory
the storehouse of the snow?

Inventory in the Storehouse of Snow

20 sticks of faith stories hung on rails in the rafters, curing, seasoning to share, remind and encourage when challenges come either to you or a neighbor?

15 bushels of humility from wrongs handed out and graceless moments, whether intentionally or not, cored into forgiveness, ready for sharing

Unending bails of God love so that you can love more than you need

10 Faith, hope and love seed bags, for open-handed sowing to feed those hungry for the bread of life?

1 Storehouse Manuel filled with the Word of God, the most important item in the Storehouse of the Snow, the most powerful weapon, the greatest treasure, without which all the rest means nothing.

Let the snow fall. Let it fill up the yards. Let it fill the Storehouse of the Snow.

Last week, while learning about the Storehouse of the Snow – and the inventory not only collected there but used in the Harvest Fields, while learning and working, I did not fail to gather the blessings for the storehouse, the blessing storehouse, blessings left me by my Father.

139) Time for a short trip to where I come from
140) 2 geese on an 2-lane road on an isolated mountain road. One thought he could take on my soccer-mom van.
141) Meandering streams
142) Roads that curve and turn with meandering streams
143) Trees older than my grandmother’s history, lining my daily walking path in my visit home
144) Fat squirrels rushing up and down trees before the snow came
145) Smiling at the ideas running through my head during my afternoon walks, feeling as though God were walking beside me, encouraging these ideas, an inside-my-skin dialogue, maybe even His arm was looped through mine. It felt that way.
146) A not-give-up attitude
147) Lunch with my aunt at a favorite restaurant
148) A perfect Thousand Island dressing on a perfect salad
149) Leftovers for dinner
150 Time together, sitting in the den watching shows I never get to watch and laughing with my aunt
151) Coffee already made when I get up, every morning – only in my aunt’s kitchen
152) New shoes that feel like me
153) A piece of art for my desk at my new job with this message: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.”
154) Time to stop on the journey home to visit my mother-in-law and two sweet gift-from-God friends. Not just time to stop, though – but overcoming my foe that rushes me when really I don’t need to be rushed, when really there is time – I just have to reach out and take it – time that is.
155) Hugs for hurts
156) Ale 8 and Big Blue Kentucky gifts for my Tennessee boys
157) A clean kitchen when I returned, compliments of my boys who seemed content I was home, a sighing-kind of content.
158) An amazing husband who was in charge of the last science project ever (I had led the first 4)  – over series circuits – and I didn’t have to do a thing
159) Pizza and cupcakes on a Friday night
160) A fire in the fireplace on a Friday night, snow fall outside and home being abundant enough
161) A husband who says he loves my heart, who knows my true intent inside and out, who knows when to let me fight my battles and when to champion me – a knight in shining armor to his damsel in distress
162) Green leaf spinach, eggs, beige artichokes, white asiago cheese and sausage poured into a pottery dish lined with puff pastry, and cooked into something delicious
163) Post-it notes on my bathroom mirror, something a sweet lady named Alvah taught me, along with how to make gingerbread cookies. I was a post-it note on her bathroom mirror – a post-it note for prayer. Her bathroom mirror was full of them.
164) Baby girl being held by 3 of her uncles – voices gentled, gentle carefulness, a protective stillness, – the sweet magic of a little girl suddenly in the midst.
165) Baby girl wearing the hat I knit just for her, a pink hat with a green stem.
166) Chicken noodle soup, a side pot of tortellini soup, popeye bread, laughing cow cheese – on a Sunday afternoon in a clean kitchen – and family voices, voices come together to love a bundle of one month old life.
167) Sweet peace before change. I start my job Wednesday (Feb, 2012)

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