Posts Tagged ‘Birthday’

birthday10“Old people are respectable in spite of themselves” (1934 movie, Patsy Patterson, Lady by Choice). I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me smile the day after my birthday.

I celebrated with what I call “Big Dinner.” When I tell the boys we’re having “Big Dinner” – it’s not a cook-out, or kitchen island eating. It’s dinner at the big table, decked out, me cooking (who else cooks when you have 5 sons – just mom)- and it is a sit-long-talk-much, eat slow, linger kind-of-dinner.

Around the big table, the conversation between these boys-to-men happens in its own time, punctuated by humor and laughter, politics and faith. Saturday was like that.

Go out? Not a chance! Where else can my granddaughter pour me a cuppa tea from a Mrs. Potts’ tea set, let me sit with her while she tucks in for a nap ten times the only doll I’ve ever had a chance to buy in 28 years, let my mom visiting from states away work her brand of magic on my floral arrangement and set the table, and enjoy talking to my daughter-in-law-to-be while she helped me with the dishes.

While setting the dishes out, I saw my 6 ft 4 son, sit at the little table and let his 2 1/2 year old niece pour him tea.

I didn’t want restaurant-rushing. I wanted intentional savoring of those God’s given me. Maybe when we seek God in the every-moment – maybe that’s how we somehow become respectable – in spite of ourselves.

I know that faith and hope cannot be based on feelings – or 5 sensory detail – but I believe that we can choose to find God in the midst of the 5 sensory detail. By choosing to find God in it, good, bad and in-between moments have the ability to be filled by God’s grace, have the ability to become something more than they are. It’s not easy – this God-choosing. It takes being intentional and vigilant, determined in our faith and hope to be present right here, right now. Maybe that is the greatest gift of growing older.

Living fully, intentionally
right now
in the 5 sensory living
in a God’s grace revelation that redeems
or the inhale of a Lord Jesus Christ
exhale Have-mercy-on-me moment

No what-ifs invited
No looking back
No looking forward
Just looking the moment in the eye
And challenging it to
Bring the God-in-it-on
Knowing He’s got my back
He’s got the plan
He’s available in each

so I soak it in
right now
soul-eyes wide open seeing
my sweet heart’s eyes crinkle when he smiles
The freckles on my boy’s nose that tell of moments in sunshine
red blooms in a weed bed
seeing words in red, spoken for me
choosing to see goodness
in the midst of a challenge

Sadie2Hands and feet feeling
summer-time hotness, toes in the grass, hands pulling blueberries
still reaching to hold hands after 31 years of I do
dirt from the floor stuck to sensitive feet
evidence of a dog shedding love everywhere
and boys mowing, kicking a soccer ball,
grass and wet from the brothers coming in
after playing soccer in the rain
on a celebration day
choosing the love interpretation of an any-moment
like goodness of a hug not yet given
rather than the gritty dirt under my feet

hearing a son reach out, speaking life
in his very own brand of saucy humor
while hearing so much in the 15-year-old’s controlled silence
not anger, not manipulation – just so much control
hearing I love you in a boy cleaning my kitchen
for my birthday
laughter from the outside of a conversation
between 5 boys being brothers
the turtle dove’s reedy call from roof top perches
the sound of peace and hope in a rare silence
instead of fear and trouble borrowing
hearing instead God’s whispers, God’s words.

bday4ctasting raspberry tea as it travels down my throat
cooling a heated moment
chocolate-orange squares comforting
in a long afternoon of choosing to bloom
where I am planted
sweat in a weed-pulling moment under a hot summer sun
communion bread pulling me back
to the roots of who I am
when I’ve forgotten or feel

the smell of rain in the cumulonimbus creeping up behind the trees
tomatoes and cucumbers pulled from the vine
dill and sage, lavender and thyme
on fingertips and counter top dishes
Learning how to savor, keep and store summertime smells
for days needing warm savory reminders
when metallic smells herald ahead
of a white blanket chill

Being fully present
No day-dreaming
No dissing the daily

finding His take in
5 sensory living
of  right now
There’s always something worth keeping
In the present – no matter how it feels

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


rain tree seeds

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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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In February of 2011, Lydia at Crown of Beauty is a stone collector. Not like the stone collectors in the university geology department – but a Joshua-like stone collector.

“My stones are personal ones, reminders of certain special events in my life of faith. Somehow these stones remind me of important stages in my journey… times when the Lord broke through for me” (Crown of Beauty, Lydia)

In early 2011, as I read Lydia’s post, I visualized a rock collection – choosing each kind of rock to put in my garden, each rock telling a story.

A rock for the husband He had sent me – that is a kind of coming through. Another stone reminding of how he’d saved our 4th son on the day he was born. Other stones, too – but those stones were of challenges already overcome.

I wanted to gather stones – but I was in the midst of challenges, in the midst of prayers, in the midst of lots of standing – a lot of not quite knowing where the path was leading, a lot of “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” day-to-day, minute-to-minute living. These were challenges that started in 2009. Challenges are sometimes a journey, not over in a day’s time.

The living along the journey path didn’t leave hints about answered prayers. Maybe they were there. I didn’t know how to vintage the blessings and the love letters the Father sent me then.

The one thing I did know is that He is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, though – and I held on to Him, to His promises.

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strong rock, in him will I trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower”(Psalm 18:2)

I am seeing the end to those journey challenges that started in 2009. He has brought not just me but my family through – and in the wrapping up of those challenges, I thought about gathering stones to testify to His faithfulness.

I have a garden filled with starts from my aunt, my grandmother, friends – and their beauty reminds me of their stories.

A garden filled with stones, each one telling a story about the miracles of what God has done for my family – that is a powerful garden. Would that rock garden really be a praise garden? Could I call it that?

I would walk there with my husband and sons, pointing to a rock, telling them a story of faith. I would walk there with my granddaughter and read the story of those rocks to her like a book of wonderful stories. Maybe one day, when they needed encouragement, they would walk in that garden, remembering those stories at a time when they need remembering.

“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’(Luke 19:37-40)

I had a birthday – the big birthday – 5 0 – 50 started so much better than 49.

My rock, my fortress, my deliver is making 50 feel like a jubilee kind of year.

He sent me into 50 with a healthy, whole body, with more energy than I’d had in decades. Healthy means more ability to cope, to multi-task, to have the desire to fulfill my mission statement of teaching my sons how to grow old loving the Lord. That would be a stone for my garden.

A few days before my birthday, our church hosted a wedding vow renewal ceremony. My best friend of 29 years (today!), we renewed our vows – and it seemed the perfect time – a new beginning time, having come through mighty challenges to where we are now. It was a celebration of overcoming, of enduring and faithful love. That would be another stone for my garden.

Answered prayers for provision in surprising and unexpected way at just the right time – another stone reminding us of God’s great mercy.

It was a birthday of designed for praising God’s faithfulness to His promises. My birthday started out getting the boys ready for school, dropping them off and heading to work. At work, my sweet office-mates had rolled my desk, white toilet paper drapped artistically  from my computer to my window to my file drawers – and chair. “The witch is in” hung from the back of my chair – and, compliments of this playful crew, was a broom stick. Since I joke about flying around on my broomstick at home, they thought I’d need one for the office.

These ladies cooked up breakfast – sausage and egg casserole, hash browns, biscuits and chocolate gravy. They let me bring cupcakes because I just love cooking for friends. An awesome surprise beginning to my day!

Around 10, someone said, “Turn around” and their was my soul sister from another mother, pink roses, balloons that advertised my 50-ness – and a gift with ribbons – a prayer-book of scripture for my children she’d made. Another un-looked for surprise!

I meet another friend for lunch – she surprised me with yellow daisies and a funny card. Birthdays are made for friendship, I think. It poured buckets of rain then, at the end of lunch – and poured all afternoon – I love rain. I love that it rained on my birthday – the Father knew just what to give me!

I didn’t think the day would get any better. Surely, all the surprises were exhausted. After all, how blessed can one girl be in one day.

The last surprise overshadowed all the others:

Around 2 I got a phone call from my soldier-son. “Garble Garble Garble hallway,” he said.

“My phone gets bad reception in the hallway, too. You might want to go to the kitchen, “I said.

He called back. “Step out into the hallway,” he said.

Surprise, then understanding dawning – I walked out of my office. I’d never asked my sons to stop by or come in because I never wanted them to feel like they were puppets to show off. This particular son used to be even more uncomfortable going out of his comfort zone. The military has grown him in amazing and beautiful ways – can I say that about a soldier?

I worked my way to the main hallway to see him leaning against a doorpost, holding a bucket of jolly ranchers with a balloon – his bashful, handsome smile all across his face – this from the son who had told me often he never wanted to see me again, that he couldn’t wait to get out, and, then one day that he wanted to come home and find God.

Inside, I was bursting into joy tears. Inside, I was dancing joy. Walking toward me was the evidence of an answered prayer – one prayer answered on the day he was born – and another the day he became the man I knew he could be – the result of believing God-things I couldn’t see when the path of the journey showed no evidence of that hope.

There he was, holding a bucket of jolly ranchers with a birthday balloon for me, his mom – on my birthday – that he went out of his comfort zone said so much more than “I love you, Mom.”

It made me wish I had a set of stones to place to commemorate what God has done for me, for my family – to remind each of us of the real life story where God is always the hero who saves.

There is a stone shopping spree on my to-do list, with my husband, to remind us of the not only what He has brought us through but how He has brought us through.

“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever” (Joshua 4:6-7)

611-619  gifts listed above

620) Friends like Lidj who have encouraged me through this challenge journey He has brought us through.
621) Dinner with the family at my favorite restaurant.
622) A surprise luncheon with friends, planned by my husband – something not in his comfort zone but he did because he loves me.
623) 16 quarts of canned tomatoes
624) 16 pints of my grandmother’s chili sauce
625) going with a friend to the blueberry patch, only to discover it close – but what a blessing to spend time with her!
626) Having the energy to knit again – and not have it be such a struggle
627) A love gift from my husband – a diet Dr Pepper
628) my 4th son coming up to hug me just because
629) Saturday Morning at the Farmer’s Market with my husband
630) Peace in the house
631) Morning prayer: one son leading the 23rd psalm, another leading the Lord’s Prayer, the 3rd choosing a Proverb, me praying for their day.
632) An e-mail and phone call confirming direction for action that I’ve been praying about. I needed that encouragement.
633) Seeds I planted, zinnia seeds, blooming and re-blooming.

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