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I remember back in the day . . .

. . . when there really was nothing in the fridge. I was just young enough that I didn’t know then how to make something out of nothing. I knew how to bake a prune cake, homemade thousand island dressing, how to wash a chicken but not fry it, how to make creamed tuna on toast, fry bologna, how to prepare boxed Kraft Italian spaghetti and bake Martha White blueberry muffins on Sunday morning. It seemed like a lot, but it didn’t really prepare me for filling my own fridge and planning a weeks worth of meals, even if, in the beginning, it just was for two.

When my husband and I married, we were both still college students. No phone, no t.v., no hot water for three months because the gas company required a $150 deposit. Rent was $185 a month. Our grocery budget was $25 a week. I remember spending $32 one week. I just couldn’t face my team-mate for life. I felt like I’d let him down. I wanted to go home to Mom – but she was about 1 1/2 hours away – and that would have cost even more, so I went home, faced up to my failure – and discovered that love still loves when you bust the budget by $7.

I didn’t know much about feeding any kind of sheep – literally or figuratively.

That first winter was challenging. We lived in the upstairs apartment of an old house. A group of young men rented the first floor of the house. When they went home for Christmas, they turned off the heat to save money. Our water pipes suffered – and so did we. When we got home from class or working at the newspaper, I’d have to boil pots full of water to pour into the toilet to thaw the pipes. Hearts warmed with love don’t make icy water any warmer – but it sure does make living through icy-water-times worth living through!

Thankfully, my mother and father-in-law raised cattle and shared a freezer full of hamburger, cube steaks and chuck roasts. They shared a lot of meals with us, too. They didn’t just open their freezer for us. Their refrigerator was always full, always waiting for us to come make a sandwich, make a piled-high bowl of ice cream – and fill a bowl with chili, soup beans or vegetable soup. I remember my husband making me hot chocolate once at their house – a tumbler full of hot chocolate. I didn’t know hot chocolate could come in tumblers. My new mom and dad never once looked dismayed when we walked through the door near dinner time – or lunch or breakfast time. My husband’s sweet family taught me a lot about the condition of the heart in feeding sheep – both literally and figuratively.

“We’re going to look back at these days as the best days of our lives,” my husband said. Those were sweet days, indeed. I admit – I did hope that hot water in all our pipes would be part of best days to come. A hot bath on a regular any day makes any day a best day – believe me, a newlywed does not have enough pots to fill a tub full of hot water no matter how much determination is behind the effort – especially when when all you’ve got is a one and two quart pan. I hoped, too that best days would come when I could spend over $25 at the grocery store.  After a failed attempt at having friends over for dinner (a one quart pan cannot cook enough spaghetti for 4 at once) – I hoped one day, having people for dinner would look like a best day, not a fail day.

I wanted to grow up and feed the sheep from my herd just like Nanny and Papaw did – and maybe even feed those that God gave me who maybe just weren’t part of my herd – and not have them stop by McDonald’s on the way home because they weren’t filled up.

Thirty-five years down the road of from the First of The Best Days, 5 sons later, 2 granddaughters and one grandson later, one-still-in-high-school-later, I have that full fridge. I have hot water for baths more often than not, though there’s no hot water in my bathroom sink. Sometimes when the gas runs out before we’ve realized it was running low – there’s no hot water – for the tubs, the sinks or the water pipes. Instead of everyone dissembling and falling apart, everyone swallows their disappointment with a pushing-through-the-bitter-cold-for-a-shower perseverance – a stoic, crazy exercise building family unity that we’d rather not experience but do every so often!

Those meal schedules? There’s a bunch of schedules now – not just breakfast, lunch and dinner schedules. There’s all-the-people-in-my-nest schedules. Running-a-business schedule – and, maybe the hardest to learn of all, the no-way-the-schedule-is-going-to-behave-so-go-with-the-flow schedule. As a matter of fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that all these schedules give birth to additional schedules. There are schedules that have  moved out, though, and made their own schedules.

December wore me out. January came like a Monday – I never plan appointments on a Monday. It’s my day to get the week’s schedule organized in my mind. The laundry gets caught up. The kitchen gets put back together, more or less. I make a stew that should last for a few days.  It’s a restart – a new beginning. January does for the year what Monday does for the week.

Mondays typically start out as a Feed-My-Sheep kind of day. The stew will last for two days – unless they don’t care for it. Then it lasts three. It’s the beginning of the work week, but my grocery stock has dwindled down from Friday – and it has to last five more days. The schedules start snowballing – and the fridge empties. It empties itself of milk first (I really need a milk cow). Everything else follows.

The clock runs out of time, all the good energy within me drains dry, and the fridge starts reminding me of its waning stock, until one of the boys opens the door, and announces, “There’s nothing to eat,” when, usually, there really is. It just takes more thought and gumption to make something out of slim pickin’s. Eggs and cheese can make an omelet. Grilled cheese is a feast, if someone’s hungry. Pillsbury biscuits brushed with butter, garlic and salt go straight to the hungry heart.

However, sometimes the fridge just sadly opens to announce in dismay, “I’m empty, too  – No help for you here.”

Sometimes, though, it’s me that’s empty.

How then, when there’s no room in the budget, within myself, or within time constraints, how can I feed these sheep God’s given me – both literally and figuratively.

Some of my boys will try to persuade me that not everything is about God (and that’s for another post), but I tell them . . . it is. . . . it’s all about God. You don’t get 34.5 years of best days without God in all of it. Even out of the brokenness, God can make best days. It’s all about training the mind and heart to remember what God has to say about it, and when I don’t know what He has to say about it, to go looking for what He has to say.

So when there’s no room in the budget, within myself, or within time constraints, how can I feed these sheep God’s given me – both literally and figuratively.

Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep three times. The second time, Jesus asks Peter:

“‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’

He [Peter] saith unto him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’

He [Jesus] saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.'” ~ John 21:16

“Feed my sheep” – not just when it’s easy . . . not just when the bank account and the fridge is full . . . not just when you’re feeling it.

I had a lot of learning ahead of me 34.5 years ago – the cooking, the budgeting, the planning, the sheep feeding – both literally and figuratively. I didn’t know anything about children or loving them. What I knew about marriage probably wouldn’t even fill a thimble. What I knew about who I was to God was even less than that. . . . but that didn’t stop me from trying to learn.

 Feed my sheep, he said.

God takes small to middling hearts, steeps them in his Holy spirit, filling them with his kind of love until something extraordinary happens – one day they have developed the capacity to love more than they ever imagined, as many as they dared to love.

Elisha said to the widow who had nothing, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “’servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”  Then he said, ‘Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.  Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.’  So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.  When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, ‘There is not another.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.” ~ 2 Kings 4: 2-6

I bet if there had been one more vessel, there would have been enough oil to fill it up.

He does that with the time, the energy – and the fridge when there’s his sheep to feed.

He takes the five loaves and two fishes (Mark 6: 37-44) of ourselves – and turns each of us into more than enough  – more than enough to feed God’s sheep, to live the daily always making room for one more or 5,000 more, even if it’s serving just grilled cheese and sweet tea.

Do you want to? Are you ready to make room for at least one more?

Feed My Sheep, Jesus told Peter – and you and me.

Feed My Sheep Part I: When Kitchen Living Becomes God-Radical
Feed My Sheep Part II: Living a Lifestyle of Making Room at the Table for One More
Feed My Sheep Part III: Which Sheep are Mine to Feed
Feed My Sheep Part IV: How do I Feed All these Sheep? (When there’s Nothing in the Fridge)
Feed My Sheep Part V: A Heart Looking with Joyful Anticipation – Monday, February 12


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a jubilee-kind-of-year

birdc.jpg2017 right now is like a bird ready to take flight and be gone – and if 2017 were a house guest, I would miss the delightfulness of her company.

2017 was not just a year of abundant blessing – it was more – it was like a year of jubilee – “a year of liberty, restitution and simple living” (biblestudytools.com). I’ve never had a year like this, though I have had moments like that in every year.

As I’ve mulled over 2017 these last few days, I remember in its very newness talk of it being a biblical jubilee, that Jesus would return during this jubilee, so I didn’t think about it affecting my ordinary everyday; I thought it about jubilee more on a world-political scale. Maybe very similar to how the Jewish people thought Jesus would return – as a king who would affect their place in the world, not as a king who would affect their everyday. This jubilee has affected my everyday – with big things, little things and all the inbetween things.

As I started to inventory 2017, I had to sit down to list the goodness of it because it gave me an awe pause because this year has been more . . . and how more has shown itself in the fullness of God’s grace.


benbabyDreams, like a trip to France, that turned into a family trip to France – mixed in to the everyday ordinary of Sadie, the retriever, catching butterflies, and


Grandgirlies in tutus and owl masks and mouse house play

A Woodland baby shower for my lovely DIL and son in anticipation of a baby boy

. . . and Henry Leo arriving to so much love

Answers to prayers walking themselves out.

Watching two sons being kind, gentle dads

coffeeMuddy Cakes

Friends sitting at my kitchen counter, sharing cups of Wild Apple Ginger Tea with honey or coffee

Grilled cheese and bacon twists

muddycakeMorning phones calls with my mom and aunt

Zinnias in the garden, baskets full of lavender

cardinals reminding

praying God’s plan for others instead of my plan.

The 4th son’s graduation

a boy receiving more than he prayed for

Soccer becoming more than soccer

Joan of Arc, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lion-hearted

History at our fingertips

Choir members walking in to a centuries old church, one singing loudly, joyfully to God, and one son saying that maybe that moment . . . . that was the best of all.

The holiness of Omaha and Utah Beach

Nightly games of Spades in Paris

Ordering escargot and the boys bravely leaving me just one

doorstairwellMy camera and I lagging behind my herd at Chateau de Chambord,

The boys discovering they had misplaced  their mom

my husband offering a 5 euro reward to find me, and when I couldn’t find them, I settled in faith at the outdoor cafe just outside the castle, ordered a delightfully decadent coffee and a crepe with chocolate and chantilly cream, only to be found to a chorus of, “Mom! MOM! moM!” (How many ways can that title BE said!)

My boys flanking me unasked, keeping me safe, as though they were afraid to lose me or let others hurt me.

gradboysLoved ones finding, believing, trusting Jesus

Being able to walk more than one mile again.

The long climb to Notre Dame’s Bells with those whom my heart loves.




New Birth

A solar eclipse celebration

Homemade buttermilk dressing in a mason jar.

Faith, once the evidence of things hoped for, becoming substance of things seen.

Being invited to Speak about Feeding My Sheep to a group of lovely women

Hamburger and Hot Dogs Thursday

Each story – the hard ones, the sweet ones, the wise ones, the laughing ones, the inside ones that just want to burst out.



muddygirlsIt was a year that asserted the truth that blessing isn’t earned or justified by the depth of suffering or even faith. The idea that blessing must be earned by the crosses bear belies what Jesus did for us on his cross – giving to us redemption and salvation that never could be earned.

Focusing on the blessing rather than the challenges doesn’t diminish the weight of the challenge, nor are challenges to be worthy measured. This is not a post focusing on the hard parts of 2017. I want to look back on my life and remember the goodness, the blessing, sweetness. I only want to recall the challenge a step to something greater and better.

No, I will not try to justify God’s immeasurable blessing this year. Justifying blessing has the same results as trying to philosophically persuade someone to have a relationship  with Jesus Christ: both result in failed results.

Ma York in one of my very favorite movies, “Sergeant York,” often said, “The Lord works in mysterious ways” whether in times of challenging or disappointing outcomes or times of abundant, spilled-over blessing – regardless of the outcome, the Lord’s mysterious ways lead to redemption, salvation – even his jubilee – where God lavishes us with his abundant goodness that we surely don’t deserve.

Good-bye 2017. Thank you for bringing jubilee with you. I would like the spirit of you to come again and again and again! You are always welcome!

Thank you, Father, for the abundant blessings of this year that seems like a jubilee. Thanking you for the lavish blessing of hopes and dreams coming true, for the lovely in the ordinary daily, for God-designed answers to prayers, for each of my sons, my daughters through marriage – and those sweet grandbabies. Thank you for the wives my other sons have yet to meet who will have a heart to love our family as passionately as they love their own – and thank you, father, for the husband you gave me 34 1/2 years ago – and creating love that is deep, abiding and true. Thank you for walking, standing and carrying us through the hard of 2017, for each story – the salty ones and the sweet ones and those in between. Thank you for your open-handed generosity that I cannot ever earn or repay. You, Lord, have blessed me and kept me. You have made your face to shine on me and are gracious to me. Thank you for turning your face toward me and giving me peace – and blessing – and jubilee! In Jesus name, I pray this thanks!


http://www.missionalwomen.com/     Faith-Filled Fridays
http://arabahjoy.com     Grace and Truth
http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
Porch Stories – http://kristinhilltaylor.com/
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
Woman to Woman – http://www.w2wministries.org/
Searching for Moments http://www.lorischumaker.com/better-wife/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart
http://3dlessons4life.com/     Thought-Provoking Thursday
God-sized Dreams http://www.godsizeddreams.com/
http://donnareidland.com   Mondays @ Soul Survival
https://faithadventures.me/ #TeaAndWord Tuesday
The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays
Purposeful Faith Tea & Word Tuesday Talk  
 Blessed But Stressed
 Embracing Everyday Glimpses
Fresh Market Friday:  Fresh Market Friday


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If Only . . .

rosesccIf only . . .
I lived in a French cottage where roses grew in bouquets over a garden wall,
and there were more movies with Nick and Nora,
And D. E. Stevenson could write more books where nothing really happens but everyday faith and overcoming with time working the living knots out nicely.

If only . . .
summer gazpacho and German Pinks tasted as good in December as they do in July
and chocolate cake with homemade ice cream had no calories
and that a size 9 left room to grow

If only . . .
I could go back and say the right words that wouldn’t come in real-time in moments and regret wasn’t a cataloged memory

If only . . .
people didn’t misread my words, my heart, my soul
my intent
my truth

If only . . .
I weren’t so literal
or that my sons didn’t remember my fail moments,
and that I could match the mismatched socks.

If only . . .
some days I could go back to when I was a rock star mom – at least for an hour
Or to the courtship days when true love was beginning and young and full of exuberance

If only . . .
naps or coffee left me energized,
that I listened better,
that my heart didn’t grieve its sores

If only . . .
I could swing again with grandmother on the front porch,
that grandfather and I could walk hand-in-hand like the time we walked away from the pool – and I wanted that walk to last forever because there was not only belonging in that hand-holding time but of being a treasured child,
and that mom and I could relive chasing a fly at midnight

If only . . .
I’d understood that God can take the heart moments of treasures that are like crumbs to some
and weave God-designed dreams out of a little girl’s heart who met him in the back of a closet when my mama said, “God knows what you’re thinking even when you’re hiding” because I was mad because mama was making me clean my room and I didn’t want to clean my mess.

(5 minutes Mark)

If onlies . . .
are like strings on the footpath of my God-designed journey,
that try to trip me, leave me sprawling, and wanting to give up.

If onlies
live only in the past as things lost,
out of reach, or as failures
failures not allowing God
to redeem each broken moment
that I made or those in my story made
or those if-onlies not meant to be part of my story

Those if-only moments
sometimes prepare my heart
for God’s plan
but sometimes they catapult
straight into God’s plan.

If only . . .
I had realized earlier

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

If only I’d had some Wild Apple Ginger Tea earlier, or life had slowed down sooner, maybe I would have been able to join 5 Minute Friday more often lately. Won’t you join me over at Kate’s Place for 5 Minute Friday? Sit down, pull over a cup of Wild Apple Ginger Tea, and see what everybody else is writing about the word . . . “Only” Maybe you can join in – it’s just 5 minutes.


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Chocolate Chip cookies, Muddy Cakes, Hamburgers and Hotdogs, chili, chicken soup and beef stews, bacon twists and grilled cheese – and tomatoes and lettuces: Kale, Spinach and Chard, even chocolate mint leaves! Turkey, stuffing, oyster dressing, mashed potatoes with sour cream, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, butter and garlic, homemade salad dressings – Feast Day and Everyday kind of food – mostly the everyday kind of food.

I love cooking for people, making sure they’re filled up, that they don’t leave my house hungry – but I have no efficiency for keeping a pristine kitchen. If you came to my house, you’d find me behind the kitchen counter. I’d ask you to pull up  a stool while I poured you a cup  of coffee or a glass of sweet tea, offered you some honey or creamer, maybe a smackeral of something if I had it – and we’d talk while I tidied up my kitchen. Most likely, my sons who are students and sons who work might pop in, might even pull up a stool for a small bit, weave themselves into the conversation and out again.

A homey diner with one short-order cook? Sometimes it feels like that. By the time you’d leave, you just might notice the kitchen still needed cleaning and organizing, and you might wonder how it wasn’t with the time I was behind that counter – and at the same time understand why it wasn’t.

When you left, I hope you would have found yourself filled up, found comfort and understanding of brokenness in challenges, maybe like you’d found a place to belong – a place that had a stool just for you, an outpost on your journey where you can re-store your soul supplies and that you’d leave a bit merrier, a bit steadier, more ready for the challenges outside the door.

We all have our little soul re-storing “outposts” – the places where we feed the sheep and lambs. But the kitchen isn’t my only outpost. My outpost – your outpost – is wherever we walk in the daily – and by whom our souls pause in the daily.

Our outpost is where the lambs and sheep are that Jesus asks us to feed.

 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’

He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’

He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.'”  ~ John 21:15

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about these sheep and lambs. Just who are these sheep and lambs he tells us to feed? Aren’t they the ones I was born to? The ones I gave life to? Am I to feed more than these . . . MORE? 

When my youngest was baptized, I wrote, “Joining a bigger brotherhood,” saying the following:

“Today, precious son, you publicly receive a mighty inheritance. You become a Son of the King. You were born into a remarkable brotherhood, the youngest of 5 brothers. Today, you publicly join a bigger family, a bigger brotherhood that includes Peter, James and John, an amazing, miraculous brotherhood. I am so proud of you!”

The day we said, “I do” to Jesus, we joined a bigger family, not blood relatives, but soul relatives with God as the Father of this big, ever-growing family – the lost and found relatives.

Jesus tells Peter, you and me to feed his sheep and lambs – the lost and found relatives of our family, but who are they? How can I recognize them? Do they come with ear tags? Are they good sheep? Easy sheep? Spotless sheep?

All 2,000+ students at my son’s high school? The thousands at our local college? Plus every single person in the borders of my county?

Sometimes we make it so much harder than it really easy. We are to feed those God gave us in our daily. It’s that simple. I sat down to make a list of those God gave me and where I find them in my daily.

  1. My husband
  2. My sons, their wives and my grandchildren
  3. My parents, aunts and uncles, cousins
  4. My husband’s family who became my family, too, when we married – my mother-in-law and father-in-law, my husband’s sisters and brother, my nephews, their wives and children.
  5. My friends, my knitting group, my bible study group
  6. Those to whom I say, “Good morning!”
  7. Maybe even the fellow driver on the road who irritates me (you don’t have to have a conversation to pray for someone).
  8. The grocery store greeter and checker, the product stocker, the deli lady slicing my country ham, the bookstore clerk, the school’s attendance office volunteers and employees, the receptionist at the doctor’s office – where have you been today?
  9. Anyone my boys bring through the door.
  10. The person sitting next to me at church, the soccer fields, at a play, or the ballet.
  11. The disagreeable person in a check-out line. God doesn’t always give us the easy to love. Sometimes he wants us to pursue for him the challenging, the rebels, the ones who think they don’t want him.

“He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ 

He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’

He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.'” ~ John 21:16

isheeponecWho are your lambs and sheep to feed? Look through your FaceBook Friend list. If we accepted Friend requests as if accepting them as someone God gave us, a sheep of his to be fed, a soul in which we are to plant seed and water – would our Friend list be smaller? Are you willing to feed all those sheep you are friends with in Facebook? To love them? To make room for them at your table? At your kitchen counter? In your prayer time are you willing to pray something deeper, more interceding than a “bless his/her heart” kind of prayer – but a warrior prayer sent out to save? Are you willing to lay down your life for every friend on your Facebook Friend list? Shouldn’t you be willing – in a feed-my-sheep kind of way?

 “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ 

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ 

and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.'” ~ John 21: 17

Maybe you are praying the prayer of Jabez, asking God, “Oh, that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me,” (1 Chronicles 4:10a). Maybe you have a heart for missions, a heart for feeding the lambs and sheep in Uganda? Haiti? China? Romania? If you aren’t seed planting and watering seeds either you planted or others have planted in those God gives you in the daily – how can you do it across the world in another country? God will not enlarge our borders to take care of sheep in other places if we neglect the sheep God gives us where we walk every day.

“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 19-30).

Has God given you lambs and sheep that you need to make room for at your table? Love is a choice – and love invites both the easy and the hard to our kitchen counters, our tables to share a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea – grilled cheese or a feast. As we lay out our plates this week and set the table, think about who is coming, who isn’t – and who your lambs and sheep are?

You might be thinking, “How can I feed more when I have trouble feeding the ones I have? Stop by Monday for how God prepares and provides for us to feed his sheep.

Feed My Sheep Part I: When Kitchen Living Becomes God-Radical
Feed My Sheep Part II: Living a Lifestyle of Making Room at the Table for One More
Feed My Sheep Part III: Which Sheep are Mine to Feed
Feed My Sheep Part IV: How do I Feed All these Sheep? – Monday, December 12

Linking up at Journeysingrace


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Chateaubedroomcc“She’s not talking. If she’s not talking, she must be uncomfortable,” my husband told the anesthetist after the birth of our 5th son via C-section. The anesthetist told my husband that if I felt stressed as they sewed everything up, he could just put me to sleep. Apparently, silence from me is a sign of stress.

Sometimes after a big challenge, I need silence to sink into. It is in the silence where my healing begins.

When the house spilled over with 5 boys, and the schedule stretched and contracted, and emotions popped like corn at 3 p.m. every day, after filling the inside things like tummies and hearts, after they were all tucked in bed, I’d stay up and soak in the silence. In the silence, I would find the Father – and he would help me find the scattered parts of myself to pull all those parts of me back together into the right places.

Silence after the challenge. Silence after the stress.

I just returned from three days with my aunt who is so very dear to my heart – and to my story. She’s struggling. Words like dementia are floated around. Dementia is a silent thief who steals an unsuspecting soul’s big and little stories, the silly stories and the sacred stories. Some tough choices had to be made this week, and she is not happy – and my heart is so very sad. She would ask the same questions – over and over. I would answer them, every time, “We love you. We want you safe.”

Each night I tucked her into bed, kissed her forehead, “I love you,” I would tell her.

“I love you back,” she’d say – at the end of the challenges of each day, when the quiet had crept in and the dusted up chaos had settled into an unnoticed corner – until the next morning.

***5 Minute mark

I drove home today – a 3.5 hour drive – to a house full of my son’s college friends for my weekly Hamburgers and Hotdogs Thursday, except today it was pizza – and a friend brought it over – so this Thursday tradition we started this year could continue. It was a joyful noise – blessing overflowing. I needed the joyful noise in a house full of hope.

The pizza boxes emptied, my bags unpacked, I need to meet God in the silence, and let him help me still to find the scattered parts of myself to pull all those parts of me back together into the right places.

It is in the silence where the broken parts of my heart are redeemed and made whole.

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

bakerycakegirlcc5 Minutes of Writing. Just 5 Minutes – unless you just cannot stop yourself.  Won’t you join me over at Kate’s Place for 5 Minute Friday? Sit down, pull over a cup of Wild Apple Ginger Tea, and see what everybody else is writing about the word . . . “Silence” Maybe you can join in – it’s just 5 minutes.

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what’s on your heart?

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” ~1 Samuel 16:7b

If a man’s work ethic could once be judged by the callouses on his hands, I imagine God can judge a man’s soul by the exterior condition of his heart.

Evidence of suffering, brokeness, sacrifice, love that filled it up only to spill out leaving stretch-heart marks? Laugh lines? Etched names? Love stories written in the skin of it? Callouses of a heart never gave up?  Bunions where it stood in faith? Limberness where it has learned to bend to the will of the Father? Tenderness where hurts taught to love better?

What’s on your heart?







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Last week and today, I’m still setting the table. The law would have us exclude so many who need to come to the table, but Jesus came, extending an invitation of grace to come to the table, to sit with him, to sit long and talk much, to drink living water, and eat the bread of eternal life. If Jesus lived his life making room at the table for more – shouldn’t we? Whether it’s the dinner table or kitchen counter?

My grandmother taught me a lot about making room for more in her home and at the dinner table. After all, when my parents divorced, my grandmother and grandfather made room for my mom, brother and me.

Sitting around that table, I learned a lot about making room for more.

Muddy of the Corn Fritters lived her life making room for more. When my great-great grandmother came to live with Muddy, my grandmother – Mary Edna’s room was moved to the hallway.

Making room for more sometimes required uncomfortable sacrifice with a joyful heart.

When Mary Edna grew up and married, she made room for Uncle Deck when nobody else would.

When my uncle died, Aunt Joyce made room for more to fill up the empty, lonely places. She invited family and neighbors often to dinner.

I learned making room for more at the table holds blessing.

Mary Edna had strong opinions. At the table, we listened to her opinions. Year after year, she expressed her frustration when traveling family members would leave one family home hungry – because they weren’t feed enough to fill them. When they arrived at her house, they’d be starving. They would eat and eat and eat because no one had filled them up.

I learned to never let anyone leave my house hungry.

When I married, Mary Edna gave me her copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s book of Etiquette – the law for gatherings and behavior at those gatherings. It contained Rules for Safe Order, how to include and exclude, hedge-building to prevent social uncomfortableness. Yet, Mary Edna’s story gave me examples of how room had been made at the table for those who broke the rules, a way to redeem people and relationships by making room for more at the table. She might have been an old-testament girl at heart – wanting to live comfortable in the rules, but her actions bespoke a woman who offered a place of grace to those the law excluded.

I learned that while the law excludes, grace does not. Grace always makes room for one more at the table.

Amy’s book grandmother gave me talked about event living – not the everyday ordinary living. Yet, that is where the most important things happen – in the everyday ordinary.

Graduations might be celebrations of achievement, but they achieved because the graduate didn’t give up in the challenge of the everyday ordinary. Weddings might be extra-ordinary events, but falling in love happens in the everyday ordinary. Baby Showers and Birthing Days might be extra-ordinary events – but it is in the everyday ordinary where lives are shaped and hearts grow. Baptisms happen because of seeds were planted and watered in the everyday ordinary.

Making room at the table isn’t a Feast Day thing or an “event” thing like baby showers, graduation parties or even Friday Night Small Group Gatherings.

Making room at the table doesn’t mean more work, dressing nicer, minding the Ps and Qs. Making room at the table isn’t about showing ourselves off at our best. It’s about letting people come into our everyday ordinary – where the kitchen might be a mess, the laundry might need washing and folding, hand and nose print smudged all sorts of everywhere.  That pile of shoes? The stinky soccer cleats someone left right by the door? Yeah! They’re there, too.

Perfect makes it too hard to live making room for one more at the table. God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He calls us to feed his lambs and sheep.

Making-Room-for-One-More-at-thetable-kind-ofliving isn’t just about filling bellies. It’s about filling souls.

34 years, 5 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandchildren later, what I learned around the table growing up was just a tiny seed planted that has become something so much more.

“Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9

I just finished setting the table for my series, Feed My Sheep. Won’t you join me next week to find out who God has given each of us to feed?

Feed My Sheep Part I: When Kitchen Living Becomes God-Radical
Feed My Sheep Part II: Living a Lifestyle of Making Room at the Table for One More
Feed My Sheep: Which Sheep are Mine to Feed


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