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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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IMG_9410There was a lot of imperfect going on at the Blue Cotton House for Christmas.

I don’t think the perfect gift was in anyone’s stocking – or wrapped in paper. The house kept falling into disorder. We didn’t read The Night Before Christmas – but from Sunday through Wednesday – there were smiles and laughter, hugs hello and good-bye.

The truffles didn’t get rolled and sprinkled until yesterday (3 days after Christmas). Some still need to be dipped in chocolate – and the majeskas? Well, they just didn’t get made.

IMG_9433It was a patchwork Christmas – one son leaving for California with the sunrise Christmas Eve. The oldest making it for Muffaletta Christmas Eve, parting ways for Christmas Eve service – and then there were 3. No mad-cap gift prep because the youngest is 13.

I’m graceless at new things – like 3 home on Christmas Day and no little ones, this moving out of raising boys-to-men to the mom’s role in the life of little-men-to-growing men. The Christmas Tree and table decorations, and traditions like turkey on Christmas Night and muffalettas on Christmas Eve, the music, the movies, the hanging of the “First Christmas” with my husband on the tree – it anchors me in the ever-changing dynamic of celebrating life with 5 sons growing.

Andrea Bocelli’s “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Adeste Fidelis” allowed me to feel what the shepherds must have felt when the angels appeared to them that night long ago.

Our church read the Christmas story – and gave some background information. Did you realize that Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah as high priest was the only church leader who could have given the verdict for Mary to be stoned if Joseph so chose to go that path. Not a coincidence that Zechariah was struck mute, giving him time to understand what God wanted him to do.

My big little guy, all 13 years old, not believing in Santa but believing in our Savior, he wanted me to make my Christmas casserole of hard-boiled eggs, chips, bacon and my cheese sauce. “No onions, Mom,” he asked.

Santa didn’t get a letter from the boy’s this year. The boys have always done one, passing the writer role down from the oldest to, well, the 4th son wrote it last year and the 5th wouldn’t write one on principle.

“I don’t want anything,” the 15 year old said.

The 18 year old wanted clothes – not grunge-looking clothes but clothes that showed a maturing, to go with his short hair cut.

IMG_9366Christmas Morning woke to a quiet. No early risers discovering what Santa brought – just a 13 year old discovering mid-morning a stocking full of coal – because only believers get presents from Santa – non-believers get coal.

“It pays to be bad,” the 3rd said. “You can get a good price for coal.”

There were smiles, new pants that fit just right, and sweaters for swag. There was It’s a Wonderful Life, The Man who Came for Dinner, Christmas in Connecticut, A Christmas Carol, and Ben Hur

and harness bells on the door.

Remote controlled helipoters instead of nerf guns

Merry Christmas phone calls to loved ones far away

Letter B gift exchanges – which is why there is a BIG Darth Vader under the tree

and my grandfather’s ornaments, my grandmother’s Christmas balls and my mother’s wreath because I don’t just like things, I like the story behind them.

IMG_9381Turkey, oyster dressing, a friend’s squash and cranberry casserole, savory green beans, egg nog and unfinished truffle balls – shared with friends and 3 of 5 sons.

It was an imperfect Christmas made perfect through the birth of a savior over 2000 years ago

when angels sang to a bunch of shepherds, shepherds who were so low they weren’t even allowed to go into the temple once a year to present their perfect sacrifice to atone for their sins – so they could be brought into the inner circle of God’s family.

Yet, according to our Christmas Eve service, these shepherds the angels visited were the select shepherds who raised the lambs, raised them without blemish, without brokenness, watched over them so they would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.

The angels appeared first to the most lost – and  dropped into their lap the most important news scoop since creation – Glad Tidings, an angelic message, the Inside Story of the greatest story Ever Told – through this baby in a manger, God and sinner reconciled.

IMG_9445How imperfectly awesome is that – Angels announcing to the lowest left-out of God’s children that a savior was born to save them, to wash their sins away that weren’t allowed to be washed away in the daily or yearly – because He would bring the temple to them, and there, in the fields, outcasts by their own, they would in a few years, have the opportunity to have God in them, Salvation in them – and they, too, would be washed white as snow because of the perfect sacrifice of a Savior, born in a manger.

Maybe that’s why I love the shepherd story the best, that the angels sing a message from God – and the shepherds carry it in their hearts to their community:

“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the Newborn King”

and like the shepherds, I want to take the message to those that cross my path, even if it’s a path that takes me out of our way, even if is to people who think I am not worthy of the message, even if I’ve settled down to an evening under the stars, I want to rouse myself from my comfortable place to live the amazing joy of sharing something so awesome, just like the shepherds.

Between you and me? I want to not just do it, but feel the way those shepherds must have felt.

Christmas Day came for the outcasts, for the broken and the orphaned. Christmas Day came all for each imperfect me and you and everyone.

Wishing you an imperfectly beautiful Christmas Day every day this year!

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doorsun

Looking down on a sinner never brought him/her to salvation. So glad Jesus came down here, sat with us in our messy sin and showed us who we were to the Father and how the Father sees us. So glad He invited me in all my sin to His table, into His home, into His family. Instead of looking down on me, this sinner, He came alongside me, was patient with me ’til I reached out my hand and He pulled me into Salvation .

It took me a long time, though, to extend that kind of love to others. It took loving someone more than I love myself. It took mothering a prodigal – to have a heart for the lost.

To not throw them out, lock the door and hide the key.

“”Really? What! You will keep me? You do not drive me forth? A convict! You call me sir! You do not address me as thou? `Get out of here, you dog!’ is what people always say to me. I felt sure that you would expel me, so I told you at once who I am,'” said Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable. Turned away from every door – because no one wanted to associate with someone with a sinner – a convicted sinner.

. . . . . “‘Monsieur le Cure,’ said the man, ‘you are good; you do not despise me. You receive me into your house. You light your candles for me. Yet I have not concealed from you whence I come and that I am an unfortunate man.’

The Bishop, who was sitting close to him, gently touched his hand. ‘You could not help telling me who you were. This is not my house; it is the house of Jesus Christ. This door does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name, but whether he has a grief. You suffer, you are hungry and thirsty; you are welcome. And do not thank me; do not say that I receive you in my house. No one is at home here, except the man who needs a refuge. I say to you, who are passing by, that you are much more at home here than I am myself. Everything here is yours. What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me you had one which I knew.’

The man opened his eyes in astonishment.

‘Really? You knew what I was called?’

‘Yes,’ replied the Bishop, ‘you are called my brother'” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserable)

doorgreen3No, looking down on a sinner never brought one to salvation. Calling him brother – or maybe calling someone sister, daughter, or son – pulling them like you mean it into the family of the one true God!

Brother/Sister is about investing yourself in real, intentional relationship.

“Your friendship was a miracle-wonder,
    love far exceeding anything I’ve known—
    or ever hope to know” (2 Samuel 1:26b)

A brotherhood, like the bishop extended Valjean is a relationship work-out – like the Marines:

“The Marine Corps keeps recruits together through boot camp, and then keeps the same group of Marines together through combat training and schools, and then finally once the new Marines hit the fleet, they are all in the same unit, always reinforcing the cohesion, esprit de corps and brotherhood being together. This plays a significant role as warriors go into combat and look to their right and left and actually know the Marine next to them very well. A vital role in developing the One Team One Fight mentality is developing the teamwork and the Marine brotherhood”(Semper Fidelis)

No, looking down on a sinner never brought one to salvation. What kind of mission are you willing to go on to save one brother? Are you willing to jump down in that mud and pull him out? Let his sin-stained feet cross the threshold of home?

And, if he steals your silver candlesticks, and the police drag him before you  – will you, like the bishop not only say the candlesticks were a gift – and tell him he forgot the silver forks and knives – realizing love in the face of sin can change a man’s destiny:

“‘Do not forget, never forget, that you have promised to use this money in becoming an honest man.’

Jean Valjean, who had no recollection of ever having promised anything, remained speechless. The Bishop had emphasized the words when he uttered them. He resumed with solemnity:—

‘Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.'”(Les Miserable)

The bishop saw in Valjean what God saw in him – and enabling Valjean to see something more than the sin of themselves- a glimmer of what God saw in him.

doorred2No, looking down on a sinner never brought one to salvation: Seeing the sinner as God sees him, loving the sinner as God loves him, not giving up on Him like God’s not giving up on him – that’s what brings a sinner to salvation.

There’s a huge mission field out there – right in our back yards – of young men and women (note: – 13, not the age of 25 is when a boy becomes  man and is responsible for  his soul) – who need to be loved like the Bishop loved Valjean.

“Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him” (Romans 5:6-8)

That’s what Christ’s coming is all about – that’s the greatest gift of all – the Son of God come down to call us brother or sister, give us Salvation and bring us home with Him.

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deskNote: My boys have been blessed with a lot of wonderful teachers – who have mentored, poured heart, care, and knowledge, who cheered them on, forgave their exuberance – and did what teachers were designed to do – teach holisticly – adding something of value to their souls as well as their minds. However, this is post is a journey out of not only a failing curriculum but administrations failing under the weight of an education program mandating individuals be evaluated by scores instead of in-class performance and work ethic. When knowledge of the individual is taken out of the equation, so, too, is the moral responsibility to the individual. I commend each teacher whose work is done as though it’s a gift to God – I commend you more for doing it in the situation our government has created. I commend each administration who looks past the scores – and looks to the individual, looks into their heart – and sees their potential – not their lack.

Lots of changes at the Blue Cotton House – what came first – the change in the conversation or did the changes cause the changes in the conversation.

Private Catholic School girl married public school boy. After a few years, we jumped on a moving van that took us to the middle of Tennessee where education options initially were public school, home-schooling – and private schools slowly creeping in.

We’d moved when God said, “Go” – and we homeschooled  – when God said, “Do.”

One of the benefits, in my estimation, of having large families, is vision of change. When our oldest son entered first grade (kindergarten wasn’t mandatory – and in 1991, schools really didn’t know what to do with a child who could read. In my kindergarten interview (Yes, I was that mom – I interviewed the schools and their kindergarten) – teachers looked askance – reading in kindergarten wasn’t expected at that time.

In some ways – really might have been a good thing. Some children are late bloomers – some early bloomers. A late bloomer myself, held back in first grade – found myself in second grade in advanced reading – but no way to catch up to my peer group that was a year older.

Today, public school seems intolerant of late bloomers, starting in kindergarten.

I digress, though,

My oldest son benefited from honors classes in middle school. His eighth grade year was the last year they had official honors classes. In his pre-calculus class his senior year, his teacher was a guardsman who was called up suddenly – and the teacher for the remainder of the year didn’t know the subject. She couldn’t explain how to solve many of the problems but they still had to get the right answer on the tests.

Our second son is 6 years younger than our oldest. By the time he got to high school, math tutors were a hot commodity. They were often teachers. I couldn’t figure out how these boys who were so much more capable than me needed math tutors.

Maybe that’s what happens when state curriculum requires teaching to the test instead of teaching the processes, repeatedly building that process.

When we moved to Kentucky, the schools implemented a math program that left engineer parents out in the cold – even they couldn’t help their kids with math.

It left me questioning: if you are teaching math that isn’t used in real world experience, why are you teaching that kind of math?

I wanted an alternative, a solution. I realized that this time around, I needed my husband to be the leader on whether to home school or put in private school. I’m a slow learner, but  in 30 years of marriage, I am learning to let him lead – there’s more blessing in our lives when I do.

So I prayed – over 2 years ago, maybe 3 – that if that’s what God wanted us to do – then He would work on my husband’s heart to be on fire to make any changes God thought we needed.

1)  Our youngest,  one time had a history of advanced math scores (gifted we were told in 2010) but was low reading scores. Because of the low reading scores, he was placed in 6th without our knowledge as a regular student in an inclusion class. He made straight As. At the end of the year, the teacher said, “He doesn’t need to be in here.” Our eyes widened – because we were hands-on parents in school and out – and we didn’t know. We made great efforts to assure he was placed in a regular class.  We had to fight for it. I asked, “How is putting a child who doesn’t like reading in with a classroom of ESL (English as a Second Language) students going to improve his scores. In any classroom, he always rises to the challenge – making As and Bs. As a result, his math scores went down because he wasn’t getting the math he needed. Really, he wasn’t getting the level he needed at all. (Note: In 6th grade, he won the district science fair on a project about series and parallel circuits organized and completed on his own. I loved the mini-engineer talking shop about it with his engineer dad).

The dirty little secret is that students are grouped according to their reading scores until 7th or 8th grade – after which they are placed according to their math scores.

2)  At the beginning of my 4th son’s 8th grade year (last year), we noticed he was placed with a different group of students. Though honors classes had been officially disbanded – students were still ability grouped – and his scores, grades and teacher support always put him in the advanced group. Some years, his reading scores were practically perfect, though his math scores hung just a little below advanced – yet he was a straight A student, a student leader, too.

I asked the principal and the counselor – is he in the same level? They assured me all the classes contained high, medium and low – they did NOT ability group except for math. My son was frustrated all year. Students in his class were sent to inner-school suspension. Class was continually disrupted. Teachers started saying things like, “He doesn’t need to be here.” He was asking the science teacher for the extra work his friends were being given – and sometimes, he was the only one who got the right answer.

After my boys had a repeat bout chicken pox over Spring Break, I went in to collect some work because they missed 2 days. The science teacher informed me that he had 2 advanced classes; my son was in one of his average classes.

When I heard that, I visited the principal. I asked him 2  things:

1) Do you have more right to my son that I do that you can lie to me repeatedly about his placement?

His reply, “We don’t know these students. We just looked at test scores.”

I responded, “You lied to me twice? You assured me he was placed according to test scores, grades and teacher referrals (Note: He was one of 3 students recommended to attend a Congressional Leadership conference for 7th graders).

2) This led to the second question: How is taking a student making straight As in advanced classes  and putting them in an average class going to help them improve their test scores?

The principal responded that the teachers would have recommend he be moved if they thought he was wrongly placed.

Some had told me all year-long, he was in the wrong group. I told the principal I didn’t realize I could advocate the teachers.

When I called the superintendent of curriculum, she said, “You should have called me.” I didn’t realize I could call her either.

Trust in the school system had been irrevocably broken.

And so, though my son was recommended for honors classes at the high school – the straw had broken the proverbial camel’s back.

The math straw, a bunch of math straws for the dad with the physics and engineering degree – and the total disregard of a system focusing more on test scores than ability – created a heart and mind for change.

And God moved my husband to a decision that has changed our conversations. In the last 5 years, a Latin School started growing in our community –the literature is enough to make a mom of boys swoon with delight:

There aren’t saccharine stories of Jose growing a garden in the city or anti-American stories that equates World War II Japanese internment to German Concentration camps.  It is classical literature filled nobleness – shown through battles with ignobleness. It allows the Judeo-Christian values prevalent in American Literature and American history to be discussed, not silenced and ignored.

7th grade – Gilgamesh, The Code of Hammurabi, The Odyssey, Narnia – the entire series – and that was just in the first quarter

9thPilgrim’s Progress, Plymouth Plantation, Pride and Prejudice and A Tale of Two Cities – all in the first quarter.

They are both in the same Latin class for first years – and learning to be successful with harder, more thorough testing methods. They know what the word conjugate means – and I love hearing it done – in Latin.

Science and biology are taught by a veterinarian. Math is taught by an engineer.

My boys are revitalized and building confidence and an educational foundation Noah Webster encouraged:

“The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties”

 And we have peace – still chaos – but peace – knowing that amazing things are happening inside and outside of them.

“The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

Thank you, Father – for teaching me to come to you, for using my frustration and confusion like written signs beckoning me to come to you, ask you to use your influence to change our circumstances – and change our conversation.

Thank you for giving us choice – for not running rough-shod over our lives – because of that choice, you and I, we have the opportunity for real relationship – not a relationship coerced through frightening, abusive, manipulative power, a love-less relationship– but a relationship where you woo us, walk with us, invite us to know you better, to know you are worthy of our love, virtuous, estimable, a knight in shining armor who protects and saves, a God closer than a brother – a Father who wisely waits to be asked and then moves heaven and earth to answer.

Thank you for leading us into this life-changing decision.

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windowf13Some might see this window as restrictive, kind of like the windows at the zoo or the aquarium  – like the real living is on the other side, or some might see this window as dirty, infested with creepy critters.

I love my window. It’s as though while I sit beside it daily, Shaddai stops by, leans against it and spends times with me, encourages me – rain or shine. The weather doesn’t stop him.

Sometimes He brings the squirrels with Him, or we watch the rain-drops racing down the pane – or He sends a spider to decorate a one-of-a-kind design just for me, for Halloween.

The slight spills in, the tree leaves in view reach upward, dancing in the wind and people walk through my frame in hope for a future – daily they do this – hope on parade, you could say.

This window, it is a symbol of His provision and protection, too.

windowc12You see, sometimes I struggle with where I am – and all I have to do is look out that window – and He reminds me that He hasn’t forgotten me – everything is all on His schedule. He’s got it.

How do you see where you are, the window you look through as you live life?

What do you see? Or maybe I should say, “How do you see?”

Perspective is everything. It is the difference between joy, hope and love.

Perspective changes everything, too.

The three wise men didn’t just see a star – they saw the way to Jesus

Caleb and Joshua didn’t see impossibility – they saw possibility.

Jesus didn’t just see a blind man, a prostitute, a fisherman – He saw straight to their soul and loved them, loved them enough to heal them, give them living water, make them fishers of men.

What do you see in the daily, looking out your windows, in the bite of the challenge or the comfort of a hug?

What do you see and How do you see it?

“We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment” (Col 1: 16-17)

Do you see His purpose? His perspective? His plan? His love?

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see” (Hebrews 11: 1-3)

windowccWhen we see the world His way it changes how we see everything

I can see the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the shivering, the sick, the imprisoned

whether it is the pan-handler scamming me out of a $20  on a roadside

or someone imprisoned in their own pain that makes them sullen and ill-tempered,

whether it is someone who judges you unfairly or doesn’t give you a chance

those inside pretty and inside ugly, hungry to see God, to believe but they cannot see it, they’re blind to it.

Someone who thirsts for someone to care – real care, real sticking to a relationship, faithfulness in the right now

someone heart-sick through pent-up unforgiveness that bursts forth like a huge sneeze, spreading its germ all around – needing someone to risk the contagion to bring the chicken soup for the soul.

someone soul shivering for removing the mask, revealing it all

a homeless person who has an address but no community, no-one to sit with over a cup of coffee, no one to share their burdens – and we need to share our challenges – just to let it out sometimes – with someone who understands and sees the odd-ball humor swirling in the midst of it – and laughs with you.

When we see Him, we see the hurting whether it is physically hurting or inside-hurting – and He shows us how to respond, how to love.

Persepctive opens our eyes, not only to possibilities but to need – need that sometimes shows itself in uncomfortable ways.

God-perspective gives us vision to see the need, to see a glass half-full, to see hope, to see that maybe beneath someone shouting hurt is a person hurting

and with the seeing of these needs is the call to engage – in prayer, in reaching, in pulling that person into the family of God. Seeing is the prelude to grace action.

When you sit at your window in the daily, what do you see?
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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)

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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
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In a Meringue Shell atop a chocolate ganache

(recipe to come)
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and my Blue Cotton Blueberry Muffins

(recipe to come)
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whiteflowerUn tout petit peu de français
– but enough to recognize the French lady sitting across the table from me calling her son a “couchon” when he wolfed down the truffles I’d made for our afternoon play date. I’d had French in high school, college and graduate school – enough to find a good restaurant one weekend in France with my husband – but not qualified for everyday talking.

Ich spreche noch weniger Deutsch
– You would have taken 2 semesters of German, too, if you’d taken the German culture class I did in college. Dr Ursel Boyd – inspired us with her stories of her grandmother marching out of the church when Hitler’s people tried to commandeer God – you would have taken German, too. Sadly, German 2 did me in. If a girl like me reads the ends of books first, then how could I ever survive speaking a language where, in many instances, you have to wait until the end of the sentence for the verb.

Speaking in The Spirit – with  utterings or groanings that only the Holy Spirit can understand. One day, the Holy Spirit gave me the translation the translation:
That my son’s mouth would be loosened
That his ears would be opened
And when he turned to him
his mind would be freed

God wasn’t surprised with the challenges that would unfold as my son grew. He gave me a heads up on His plan. I have held on to that message for 21 years – stood on it during some pretty challenging times. God knew I needed to prepare myself ( click here and here for the story).

Messages from God are available in all languages. You can find the Gospel of Love in Thai, Swahili, in Chinese, Hindi – all languages – even Holy Spirit languages –
Spoken, signed, read with fingertips on Braille.

We read with our hearts
We read with our eyes what the body language says
We read with our ears – not just words but what the tone says

booksflowersWe read rack magazines, shelved books, ipod news alerts
Thank you notes, heart messages from our children’s art, sweetheart letters and notes from our husbands,

But Shaddai – He is not confined to a book though His book’s message is imprinted everywhere – for free – His writes love letters to you, to me, to my sons, to my daughter-in-line, my mother, my aunt, my granddaughter – He has love letters written to us in the stars and fish, the sea and sand, the roots and blooms, in a spider’s web and a rain drop.
Love letters and messages
All around us
All available for each of us to read and if we do read, we should share – like the loaves and the fishes,

Thank you, Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience and 1,000 Gifts – for showing me how to read– these gifts, these blessings – these messages of His love.

An Arab student one time told me his mother didn’t read. I cannot comprehend not reading – a recipe, The Secret Garden, the prodigal story, a manual on how to use a snake to clear a sink pipe, The Christmas Story, the Wall Street Journal over a cup of coffee, The Brave Cowboy, the U.S. Constitution, or an escape-hatch story like Miss Buncle Married or Pride and Prejudice – or the contrast of Grace over Law, of Salvation, Redemption and forgiveness in the Les Miserable by Hugo.

I cannot comprehend being illiterate.

Seeing my dismay, the student said, “Oh, she still has a full life.”

Her fullness seemed limited to me – like having wings but not knowing you can soar.

Yet, 100 years ago – how many of our parents read? Yet still had full lives? How many since B.C. became A.D. – how many have been illiterate of reading and understanding the Word of God with their own eyes? How many souls relied on others to read His messages – the message of adoption from Abraham, Jacob’s hope in a God-made Ladder, that even prostitutes like Rahab who take risks for God can find true love in a man like Joshua, that bullies like Saul can become Paul’s of the world, that Jesus came so no one could ever come between the individual and God again – not a priest, not a king – no one.

Yet,  I have lived most of my life, illiterate of the His messages to me in the daily.

Thank you for teaching me to read the  message of the cardinal darting out before me on the way home.

The message in the dove call from the roof top – answering back to the call my husband and son send from curved hands, lips and air.

Or the message I found when I freed myself from my work desk to stand under the portico during a torrential down pour, as thunder grumbled to my left – and to my right miniature water rivulets riffled and bubbled through mulch and grass– and the green and the bark deepened richly and the streets glistened like ice.

Or on the way home, so tired, so tangled by how many times Murphy’s Law can jump into my day. It rained – buckets – and the sun shined through the downpour, shined so brightly the rain looked like crystals – and it blew toward my windshield like bits of snow – a rain blizzard.

Or the gift in a cupcake container, once filled with chocolate ganache cupcakes topped with sugared chocolate mint – carried through my back door, returned with a smile and kitchen counter conversations.

poppysOr in the orange poppies grown too tall pulled out revealing perennials wanting more space.

And zinnias that bloom regardless of the weathery moods.

All of these are messages to be read – messages He gives us during the daily. . .
Messages that tell us He loves us, champions us, knows our struggles, knows our hearts desires – and knows how hard it is to live in the wait of a prayer sent out.

And messages that teach us – like the barren creek that rarely flows with water, the path to the blueberry patch, beach birds enacting a madrigal – and the blueberries deep within the bush.

They’re all like letters in an envelope – just waiting to be read.

Have you read much lately? These daily messages from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?

Each message can be translated into all soul languages.

Guess what the message was I found in the blueberries?

Other messages, gifts and love letters this week – 1067-1072 above

    1. Celebrating 30 years of marriage with my husband
    2. 30 roses for 30 years
    3. My Freshman trying not to smile as I conjugated  each verb he used one on the way to soccer practice.
    4. Listening to my two sons recite in Latin, “I Love. You Love. He, She, It Loves. We Love. You Love. They Love.”
    5. When my 7th grader explained singular and plural, first second and third person.
    6. My boys pulling out classical literature in the first 2 weeks of school, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Narnia and Gilgamesh.
    7. That God answered my prayer to move my husband’s heart if we needed to make education changes –
    8. and we were able to enroll them in a Classical Latin School where we no longer feel the need to supplement just support
    9. baby girl greeting me with a fist-bump I taught her – and remembering her pup-pup beanie puppy at our house
    10. the older I get the longer I need to celebrate my birthday (just a few days before my anniversary) – taking the time to savor the relationships the Father has given me – who have become family to my family.
    11. tree frogs in the dark
    12. laughter from my sons’ friends on the porch
    13. rain the slows the schedule, providing an inside refreshing
    14. butterflies in the sunshine
    15. the feeling of home all weekend long

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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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desserts2cSometimes I can’t love ’em right
though my heart is full of love
not a taking love
just a giving love

a love bursting
and here I am
wanting to love ’em right
and I can’t
sometimes
no matter how hard I try
no matter the intent

“Love suffers long and is kind” (I Cor 13: 4)

I’ve baked celebration cakes
taken dinners
written poems
asked questions
encouraged
prayed psalms
sometimes even hugs
can’t love ’em right

“love is never envious or arrogant with pride. Nor is she conceited” ( 1 Cor 13:4)

whether it’s with a teen in a stage
a church family member
a kid’s mom my kid wants to play with
a random person
someone who belongs to you
through biology
or belongs to you ’cause
Jesus said so

” [Love]does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor 13:5)

sometimes I can’t love ’em right
and all the love languages in the world
can’t break
the language barrier
but God knows
who He gave me to love

“[Love} finds no pleasure in injustice done to others, but joyfully sides with the
truth
” (1 Cor 13:6)

sometimes when I can’t love ’em right
it’s for a reason
He knows
the pain of unrequited love
that God’s true love
isn’t inactive in the waiting
doesn’t stop existing
though it lives unseen
uncovered
over-looked
not sought-out
like a wrapped gift
given and unopened

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through
every circumstance”
(1 Cor 13:7)

He knows
that sometimes it feels like
I can’t love ’em right
but God’s kind of love never fails (1 Cor 13:8)

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Father’s Day weekend was filled with a few moments where I managed to love some of ’em right – not all of them, but some of them. One son wanted muffalettas for his birthday, chocolate celebration cake for another birthday boy, and creme brulee for my husband- and, well, it was just a sweet easy day. No – sometimes, I can’t love ’em right – not the way they want, maybe not even always the way they truly need, or in a way I know how to love.

I am not omniscient – though my boys at times thought I was

I only know what knowledge I have reached for and grasped – or what God has revealed

“but love makes up for all wrongs, trangressions, offenses, sins” (Proverbs 10:12)

The more I learn about God’s kind of love, the less judgemental, the less exclusive I become – the more I realize how imperfect I do love

and because I realize how imperfectly I love –

the greater the determintaion not to give up trying

and forgiving,

not just others but myself

learning

there is not always an immediate return

maybe not ever

on love

The only thing I can do is love my best

hands-on or hands-off

through prayer, creme brulee or muffaletta’s and oreo icing, hugs, talks, time or a filled-up gas tank

or maybe a no to gas-tank fill-ups, groundings and lectures

the only thing I can do is love my best

even if they think I don’t love ’em right.

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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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Lunging from his stance, the young football player – himself a kicker and defensive end –lunged toward the football before it could be kicked into an afterpoint.

The opposing kicker’s leg touched ball, rising upward impacting the player in red’s helmet, knocking it off, leg soaring to drop a double blow on the now bare head on the way down to rest position.

This player in red was my son, a sophomore player. It took a couple of weeks, an inability to remember classroom content, an anxiety attack before a doctor trained to identify and treat concussions diagnosed his concussion.

Initially, they thought he’d miss the rest of the school year. They sent him to bed for 2 weeks – no t.v., no video games, no computer – no media. Just rest.

It was the best sleep he ever had, he said later.

It took him at least a month to make up the work he did for those two weeks of school with the concussion + the two weeks of school sleeping the concussion to healing.

Remembering was like a kick in the head.

A few weeks ago, he said, “I don’t remember much from before the concussion.”

My heart dropped to my toes.

Not remember much before your sophomore year, before rebellion kicks in – all the sweet memories, the innocent times, all the love we had to give – living without those memories must be bleak. Dark. Lonely – not remembering the love before the rebellion of youth.

Being the problem solver, the fixer – I decided to create a 30 days of memories. Then, knowing me like I know me – I knew it would take a few months for this to steep in my mind – this vintaging of memories.

As the 30 Days of Memory Project (see – now it’s in caps so it’s almost official, almost at kick off now) – I thought how hard it must be, without a concussion, for a prodigal walking home to wade through the hard memories to find and pull close the sweet rememberings.

How many leave good memories un-vintaged because of the shame of rebellious memories, the hurt-inflicted-on-others memories? You pass those, in the walk back, taking ownership – before you walk far enough back to the good stuff.

Remembering the good-stuff, though, needs to be done. If he can’t do it right now, on his own, whether the concussion or the prodigal path stands in the way, I can help.

I can sort through and pull out the blessing rememberings. They were a gift to him – from God and his family.

Sometimes it takes others to help vintage the good rememberings.

The prodigals walk home retraces the steps that led him away. The retracing, the return is a coming face-to-face with regretful behavior, regretful memories. In remembering the regretful comes true repentance. With true repentance comes forgiveness, with forgiveness comes refreshing.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,”(Acts 3:19).

He will blot out your sin.

The blotting out of the sin will reveal the history of blessing.

It’s time to vintage the blessing memories.

True forgiveness does that – blots out the dark memories – sheds light on the blessing memories.

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cbfall2011c2c

I wanted to write about cool pillows, blue cotton blankets, orange dulce tea and wrapped up in a good book. No stress. No gracelessness. Just rest. A Holiday-kind of rest where nothing from the outside nibbles away at the inside.

That kind of rest is not today. Not right now.

Somehow, when the children were littler – even if fevers spiked and cheeks flushed, if brothers squabbled and food spilled – I could usher in rest in afternoon naps or evening bedtimes – rest re-setting everyone’s hearts. I was graceful at that. Temper tantrums and Mid-night wakes? Graceful! Where little hearts unburdened themselves trusting I could help them sort it out – wanting me to help sort to rightness. Graceful!

The teen years – where sleeps don’t re-set hearts, where I cannot site the source for every word, every thought they bring home, where boys-to-men hearts don’t unburden themselves, hide themselves, where home is a cage – and they don’t want to be there, where maybe they don’t quite love themselves like we do – oh, I am graceless here. graceless in rejection. graceless watching my boy-to-man facing challenges God did not design him to face.

graceless
and all I have is faith

To rest my head against
The heart of a mighty father,
A mighty brother
A mighty bride groom

While challenges scratch
Not just at this heart
That loves
That prays
The breathes in
Jesus Christ
Breathes out
Have mercy
Challenges that scratch
This mother’s heart
And scratch
This mother’s child

To rest my head against
The heart of a mighty Father
A mighty brother
A mighty bride groom

It is there that my faith
My hope
My trust
I believe
That He meets
My child
To lead him out
Of the challenge
Into the light
Into His plan
Into Salvation
Into Redemption
And living water

To rest my head against
The heart of the great I Am
the holy shepherd
is to breath life
into this faith, this hope,
this unconditional love He taught me
how to love
how to trust Him
that this is the only way
to walk this mother’s walk

I am not a perfect mom. I am a mom not good enough. I don’t give up, though. I don’t stop trying. I don’t stop loving. I don’t stop believing in Him.

I am resting my head against Shaddai, against His promise that to me, to you, to each of my sons – that He will be like the shepherd who pursues, searches and FINDS the lost sheep – my lost sheep – your lost sheep:

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue” (Luke 15:4-7).

We all struggle. Each of our children face challenges. I’ve been here before. Prayers sent out a few years ago for one son returned this week, returned answered – only to brush up against prayers sent out for another son.

Bitter sweet. How can a heart rejoice and grieve at the same time? Yet, mine does.

I rest in the faith that the Holy Spirit will breathe a fire into the embers of faith planted deep, and that Holy Spirit fire will consume and burn away things not of the Father – revealing a life restored, the journey of a prayer answered returning home.


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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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