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Posts Tagged ‘Blessings’

Grandmother's House

Grandmother’s House

“That Grandmother stepped out there on a Sunday morning wasn’t surprising – she never rushed over the cool floors. She wasn’t fearful of what she would find – she knew what was there. It was cataloged in her mind – and she made use of it”~ My Grandmother’s Clothes Bag

Disclaimer: Grandmother, if she knew I had turned this story into an allegory would probably have admonished me to “Stop that Silly Talk.”

Characters in the allegory of Grandmother’s Clothes Bag
Grandmother – Everyman
Granddaughter – Everyman
Navy, Accordion-Pleated Wool Skirt – A blessing shared
The Clothes Bag – The Bible
The Content of the Clothes Bag – Things of God
Moth Balls – The Holy Spirit

There’s a time when I moved from a child’s relationship to the Father, to an adult’s relationship to the Father. Where, as a child, I loved Him with abandon. Growing up led to self-consciousness, gracelessness from uncomfortable awareness, and learning to take the reigns of spiritual responsibility in hand.Growing up meant sifting through what I had been taught, becoming intentional in what I believed.

That meant I was alone responsible for that relationship. The training wheels were off. I was alone responsible for the reaching.

I didn’t do well early on, when those training wheels were off. My relationship wobbled with Him wobbled.

Like I hurried through Grandmother’s back porch, past the clothes bag, so I hurried past Him.

Self-consciousness, lack of confidence in who I was caused me to hurry past things that intimidated me through my ignorance – not just of the things of God but who I was to Him.

Faux gracefully, I enacted the ritual of sorting through winter and spring into the clothes bag – but I didn’t dig into that clothes bag. I stood in the kitchen and handed out.

I didn’t not know Him intimately. I could not truly catalog was what in His word. I needed to spend time with Him, with His word, to see what was there – not just the gospel, but Ruth, Jeremiah, Isaiah – all the one’s I skipped over, ignored.

I needed to spend time with Him, like my grandmother spent time maintaining the clothes bag, lined with those moth balls.

I couldn’t really help anyone. I couldn’t really even help myself – not until I delved into the contents of His word, His Holy Spirit – Him.

The Father wanted me to stop rushing past Him, open up His word and listen, really listen, catalog in my heart its content, wear it, walk it, know it – to continually wrap His word in His Holy Spirit.

“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

One day, sitting in the car outside my husband’s work, waiting – which is something newleyweds still in college with just one car do a lot – the Father met me there. I asked the Father, “I want that relationship I had with you as a child. Teach me how to get there.”

He did. . . it was a journey, though – not an overnight arrival.

I learned to not rush past His word like I rushed over cool, pebbled-concrete floors. I dug into His word, like my grandmother dug into her clothes bag, cataloging, nurturing so that one day I could share what is within His word, within relationship with Him.

When grandmother saw a need – she went to the clothes bag and drew a blessing out – a blessing that caused a soul-reveal. I needed to learn to live that kind of relationship with Him.

I needed to believe what the word said about that relationship, about the hope, the healing, the speaking, the praying, the Holy Spirit, the believing without seeing.

 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”(Hebrews 11:6)

When I dug into His word, when I believed His word – I discovered who I was to Him – his beloved daughter.

I discovered a Father who wanted to become the shade in the glaring, uncomfortable heat of challenges, who wanted to shelter me beneath the feathers of His wing, who wanted to bind my wounds scarless, who wanted to shelter me in the storm – that He saves me when I cry out, like a Knight in Shining Armor:

“He’s riding a winged creature,
swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself
in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then GOD thundered out of heaven;
the High God gave a great shout,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
let loose your hurricane anger.
16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but GOD stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!”

(Psalm 18: 10-15, The Message)

One day long ago, grandmother pulled a skirt out of her clothes bag. As the years unfolded, that moment became an allegory of faith. Like a fable is to a truism – was that skirt to a soul reveal – and the truism made me a beloved daughter of the King, who willing jumped on His horse and moved heaven and earth to protect shelter . . . . save.

Because I learned not to hasten away from the things of God, I find blessings He leaves me, messages He leaves me in the ordinary of a day:

964) The squirrel nest high in the barren oak, sways in the thin-limbed top, twigs, old leaves woven together, how does it protect against the bitter wind? And, I marvel – because it does.
965) My mother-in-laws hands, folding laundry, teaching me to slip-stitch quilt binding, making banana pudding, hugging babies and boys

966) Nine sherbet-colored bandanas bought in 2009 quilted, backed, binded and tied with raspberry, lime green, citrus orange, flamingo pink and lemon yellow embroidery thread.
967) Red chili sauce in Thais Gopaw – taste buds delighting after days of illness
968) Robin’s egg blue skies outside my work window
969) Lunch date with my husband, just the two of us
970) Italian chamber music on my iPod nano diminishing chaos
971) The story of grace changing lives, redeeming from the law, in movie theatres around the world, sung in spiritual songs of Les Miserable (the book beautiful, too)
972) Two hour morning delay from an ice storm that never came, giving me time to love the boys with homemade chocolate chip granola bars and hamburger, elk and deer-meat chili.

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

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

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

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

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

Come by Wednesday to see the Story behind the Poem

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

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

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

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

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

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

sunrisebc

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

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

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

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

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

sunrisebcc

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

Mountain tops rejoicing in flaming silver and purples.

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

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

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

It is attitude changing.

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

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

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

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

Dear Father,

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

(Gifts 985-990 listed in the post above)

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Right now, I’m just collecting blessings in the everyday living. I’m in the middle of about 4 post drafts – but for right now, I am just supposed to collect the moments. I think the Father wants me to collect for a bit – and analyze the collection at the right time. For so long, I have needed to hyper-focus on the little things He left for me – so I could better manage the big things without being so over-whelmed.

For now, I am leaving you with blessings I collected this week, gifts from Him vintaged that turned my days to joy, days that became filled with “the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor 2:14b)

The Magical Qualities of Pecan Dust

880) vanilla bean, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and allspice simmering in a crock pot, filling the house with warm, wholesome aroma
881) Boys seeing the ingredients, knowing what those ingredients mean – and seeing their smiles reach up to their eyes and down to their stomachs.

882) 4 Normandy pies made with my little guy growing (recipe, click here)
883) That the ever-changing schedule faithfully works its way out.
884) A few days where all the things I want to do, that makes me feel like I’m herding cats, overwhelming me and I only manage to catch one of those to-do things – a few days where I managed to herd those cats, not feel over-whelmed, where time seemed to expand
885) and I managed the weed-eater to trim the ivy, the ornamental grass gift,
886) and planted red and white pansies in my mail-box planter
887) trimming the never-give-up ivy away from the address and the box-opening
888) big fluffy winter blankets and bed-spreads washed in huge washers at the laundry-mat, cleaned and bleached for winter sleeping, a sweet freshness to inhale

The Spirit Curing Qualities of Chocolate

889) chicken and dressing casserole with water chestnuts, celery and onion
890) an entire weekday and evening with my husband
891) courage to meet new people and find the joy in the meeting
892) sharing a Reuben Sandwich at Friday lunch with my husband
893) That the phone call to my mom after a bunch of tests, telling her the doctor wanted to see her Monday, not in 3 weeks – was communication gone bad – the cancer wasn’t back – she was given a clean bill of health
894) re-discovering my home office after I managed to not let the mess overwhelm – and I tackled it, piece by piece.
895) Little yellow leaves lining the path to my work office – looking like the yellow brick road. Then I wondered what kind of yellow – and I thought of squash-yellow, corn-silk yellow, pineapple yellow, pepper yellow, lemon yellow – and decided I was glad the writers settled for the Yellow Brick Road – because anything else would have been messy. However, the ground was simply yellow beautiful.
896) A knitted hat almost finished – and a bunch more to go
897) my sons wanting me to help them with their Works-Cited page
898) working with these sons, pointing out the importance of each period, comma, capitalization, structural order – and nary a complaint because they wanted to do a good job. If you don’t have a Harbrace, check out Purdue OWL for examples, samples and explanations (click here)

899) A son changing his own car breaks
900) God with me – when the moments are easy and when they’re hard.
901) Excitement about celebrating Thanksgiving – celebrating His blessings
902) The turned corner in the journey of the answer to prayers.
903) Excitement about the up-coming season to celebrate the Messiah coming, teaching my sons that sometimes the day is only good because of the sweet scent through finding Christ in our day that rises to God.

“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Cor 2:14-15, The Message)

Chocolate + Pecan Dust = A Sweet Aroma

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“For you meet him with the blessings of goodness”(Psalm 21:3a)

To meet: To come together, approaching in opposite or different directions; to come face to face; as, to meet a man in the road.

To come together in any place

I took a walk as the sun set a few days ago – a flaming fuscia, tangerine and lemon sunset that fell across neighborhood leaves sparking a metalic hue, and in the falling, the sunshine fell into a sprinkler.

He met me there, in my walk, bringing me the beauty of the sunset. God met me there, not to solve a big problem, not to save me from distress – just to meet me there and walk together.

blessings of goodness

As I walked into work, beneath oak trees, squirrel nests and the sharp cool of a Fall morning – I saw acorns lying beneath leaves, under the edges of greenery.

He met me there – and as a reminder of our meeting, His blessings, I picked up 5 acorns, symbolizing the 5 sons He gave me.

blessings of goodness

Pear Tree Seeds

Sometimes, things like folding laundry, making cupcakes, lighting candles, knitting a few rows, the bed-time chronicles – it all overwhelmes me – and I muster all that is within me to do those things with people who are so important to me – and I wonder how I can – but He meets me there, walks with me each step, fills my heart with grace to love the way I want but often fall short.

This week, I met Him in the act of making and decorating cupcakes with my littlest, the blessing of watching my boys to men play a game of chess, of smiles spreading across faces that have smiled too little for too long.

blessings of goodness

I meet Him in the morning prayer, one son leading us in the Lord’s Prayer, another the 23rd Psalm, the other in sharing a proverb, and me leading in a thanksgiving prayer and asking that we let others see the love of Jesus either through our words or actions.

blessings of goodness

I meet Him when I open my front door to greet costumed children Trick or Treating , when I sit across the table from friends sharing celebration cupcakes and cider, watching my husband read to grand-baby girl.

Blessings of goodness

I meet Him when everyday jobs overwhelm. He meets me in a swirl of leaves or squirrels foraging, climbing and jumping outside my window.

blessings of goodness

I met Him when I choose to bloom where I am planted, even when where I am feels like the dormant stage of blooming in a cold frost.

We come together in any place. He is there, waiting for me to look and see Him -to look hard, to catch His eye, to seek His face and know He is looking for me – not trying to avoid me because I don’t do living just right, or that I talk too much, or forget words, or say right things all wrong.

Sometimes we come from opposite directions.

We meet more often now. I am learning to just look.

It never fails that when I do look, I meet Him.

No matter the gracelessness of a moment, hour or day, when I decide to meet Him, He is there with blessings of goodness that change the tenor, the texture, treatment of that moment, hour or day.

“For you meet him with the blessings of goodness”(Psalm 21:3a)

Where are the places you have met Him this week?

I8 gifts were listed above in my journey to 1,000 gifts

844) My son going around the neighborhood 4 times, each time in a different costume from our costume chest which has grown over 26 years: in the bumblebee costume, a ninja, a warrior on a horse, and a ghost – all with a joyful attitude
845) neighbors who love my boys and who kids I love, too – it is awesome to have neighbors like that
846) 5 boys home at once on a trick-or-treat night
847) Sons growing up and working hard
848) That God is wherever I am
849) My husband taking me to one of our favorite lunch places on a very trying day
850) A neighbor giving us 3 large pampas-type grass clusters for our yard. I’ve always wanted ornamental grass like this – and it was such an unexpected gift.
851) You know those 15 burning bush root-balls that I carefully nurtured? Wanting a hedge for privacy on our property line? It seems, each time the boys mowed, we lost one. Lowe’s had sturdy ones about  2 feet high for $3 a piece – I don’t think my boys will run those over. For once, I got someplace before the good deal was sold out.
852) Looking at all the bushes we transplanted and struggled – seeing they are now sturdy and strong – ready for take off next year. That was God reminding me that I am sturdy and strong now- ready to take off at the right time.
853) A song at church, one of my very favorite that has a special place in my heart, used as a kind-of lullaby when the boys were little – and the phrase, “The Year of Jubilee” stood out to me – that the Year of Jubilee was coming – and it was a message that filled my heart
854) Making a new recipe – one I created myself – “Buffalo Chicken Soup.” My son who loves my Hot Wings asked, “Why not just make Hot Wings?” Then he tasted my soup, trying give too much away, he conceded, “This is your best soup.”
855) My 4th son, taller than me today. Door-frame measurements confirmed. While I am sure he will be insufferable for awhile, lots of puns to fall short – so happy he is so happy!
856) Answered prayers unfolding!

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We just returned from vacation – week of refreshing, of contented family time, an aaaaAAAAHHHH soaking R&R – to return to unexpected challenges, challenges I thought long taken care of. Is it a life lesson – that every refreshing moment is followed by a challenge? It is moments like these, that the blessings outside myself soothe my soul – but I am left wondering why? Why cannot I be consistently strong inside?

Why exists the need to find the blessings outside of ourselves?

Why sometimes cannot my soul provide the song that lifts, instead of the cardinals, the robins, the fluttery creatures that nest in the pear and oak trees?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit rest as easily as a cat upon a favorite cushion when storms brew about?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit bloom beauty like the orange, deep fuschias and yellow zinnias in my garden?

Or my spirit give off the sweet aroma of the roses, the fresh cut grass or a fistful of violets, lemon balm and lavender?

Why sometimes cannot I reseed myself, burrow deeply into the black earth or red clay for winter – and just be comforted that now is not the time to bloom but to grow roots, to grow strong – and not feel behind, out of place or insufficient?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit find not only fulfillment in those moments when everything goes right, like the burst of dazzling bloom, but why must my heart struggle when, the new stage is a journey is like when the petals fade to replace the seed that falls – and it all starts back over again, the growth to bloom, why do I feel like I’ve failed because I couldn’t maintain the bloom – when the whole process, the falling, burrowing and regrowing are just as important, just as vital, just as fulfilling.

Why sometimes cannot my spirit weave things hoped for when all I am hangs by a thread of hope, why can I not innately weave something beautiful out of the thread it hangs by but must be reminded by the web of a spider’s thread in a forgotten corner that much can be made of that thread?

Why sometimes must I be reminded of the charity of all these, reminded through the blessings outside myself?

These blessings outside myself are the half-time rallying cries, illustrated disquisitions, a chorus of communiqués, love letters from the Father reminding me not to give up in those faltering moments when life happens in unpleasant, unwanted, unplanned for ways – and that is why I search them out, count them thank Him for giving me them.

In these outside-myself blessings, He tells me,
“Remember when I opened up the hollow place in Lehi for Samson – and water came out to rebuild his strength and revive him? (Judges 15:10) – so also I do with you with the bird song, the squirrels outside your window, the spider webs – these are messages and gifts I send to give you strength and revive you in midst of the challenge.”
“‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you”

(Isaiah 41: 9b-10)

These outside-myself blessings remind me of His firm grip, that He holds me steady, that help is on the way. He reminds me that through Him, I can.

Blessings:

790) spending time with 4 of 5 sons without outside distractions
791) quiet mornings, watching the ocean, reading the book of Joshua
792) little grey fish trimmed in yellow following my innertube
793) Time bobbing about the ocean and the lazy river with my husband
794) dolphins flying out of the ocean and diving back in
795) Time to get lost in a book that’s been sitting on my bedside table for months
796) my mom joining us for a few days
797) Sun-rise on the beach, watching with my husband the dark pink sun spilling across the grey sky
798) Leaving the white shores and the lazy river – crossed through the Misty Mountains and made our way to our Homely House – and, yes, I was reading The Hobbit the entire way home!
799) A chirp-fest from my backyard birds, as though they were rushing to tell me all the things that happened while we were on Holiday
800) Pink, orange, fuschia, burnt red zinnias still blooming
801) A Blustery Happy Windsday on Sunday, Winnie the Pooh’s birthday – so appropriate
802) The clouds closer to my patch of living, as if I could reach out and touch them
803) The hope of rain coming
804) That when challenges seemingly enlarge, knowing my God is bigger
805) Chili and chicken noodle soups on the stove
806) Brownies the boys baked
807) God coaxing me to let go of things that need let-going

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The morning starts off with prayer and hope – one leading us in the 23rd psalm, another leading the Lord’s Prayer, and the teen choosing a proverb. I finish off with prayer:

Praising God for either the rain that prepares the crops, or the sun that helps the crops grow, for our home, for our provision – for warm blankets and comfortable beds.

 I ask that our angels encamp about us, protecting us, keeping us from harm.

 I pray that as we come and go between classes, tasks, jobs and activities that we reach for relationship with the Father beyond this moment

 That we let others know about the love of Jesus either through our words or actions. That we find 3 people to pray for either outwardly or inwardly – maybe a bully, maybe the bullied – but someone who needs a bit of the Father in their lives.

 And. . . .I pray that their school work will be their best, a praise offering to God.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23)

 Our morning prayer sounds like utopian parenting, doesn’t it. For the duration of that prayer – all is right and hopeful in the world – a perfect moment.

If only the prayer were walked out as easily as spoken.

My teen and I, after the little guys were dropped off, talked about work as praise – because school work just is not always a priority. Right now, he really doesn’t see how reading The Secret Life of Bees, writing an essay or learning the rudiments of statistics will help him in real life (do not get me going about the feminization of education). From my college teaching experience, unless boys see a true need for a skill, they don’t respect it, want it, work for it.

But God wants our work to be as praise for him. . . .

 How do you get a teen to buy into that?

I tried again – I am all for repetitious seed planting into these boys of mine.

“Grow where you are planted. God didn’t drop you in  Uganda where a war-torn people live in huts with a trench for a bathroom beside an outside wall, where little boys are given a gun to kill their parents in order to live. Little boys in Uganda would rather have been dropped where you are,” I urge.

Sleepy blinking is my response. I push on, though, not deterred.

“God dropped you here .  Not somewhere else you’d rather be, doing something else you’d rather be doing. You need to make the best of where you are, the situation you are in – which means going to school, graduating and fitting yourself for useful employment. Not just going to school – but doing your best,” awesome point I’ m thinking that should propel my son into school ready to be the student he is capable of being.

Sleepy blinking. A sigh that really says, “Here we go again” – that’s all the response from my one-on-one, early morning cheerleading.

Instead of backing off, I dig in deeper – I can’t really figure out if that’s counter-productive. Maybe it is. All I know is that I don’t want to give up on someone I love so much.

“Are you a Christian?” I ask. That gets a response.

“Of course ,” he answers, his eyes too tired to roll backwards in his head, so he just shuts them.

“Are you a picking and choosing Christian – meaning you are going to pick and choose what the bible says about being a Christian? Because He wants us to do our best where we are – and for you, that means school.”

He climbs out of the van not so much excited about going to school as to getting away from his mother.

“Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval” (Genesis 4: 3-4)

It is so difficult to use a Cain and Able quote because, well, my boys automatically jump to the fratricide part. Yet, there is so much beyond that to be learned.

Offerings were a new thing, a second-generation thing – each brother brought one, completed the assignment, so to speak. One earned a gleaming report. The other needed work. God, ever the teacher, talked to Cain, encouraged him to do better next time:

“So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?If you do well, will you not be accepted?And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it'”(Genesis 4: 5-7)

You must rule over it – meaning take responsibility of your abilities, gifts and responsibilities – do your best! Do your best, God seems to be telling Cain – and I will bless you, praise you, like I praised Able. “Next time, do better,” God coaches to Cain. Even Cain had to practice, to learn – to turn in Praise Work to God.

Do your best, whether it is making hats, doing school work, folding laundry, working in a job that isn’t your dream job

Ever since my first historic trip to Pleasant Hill as a teen with my family, the idea of work a praise gift to God has been a seed growing.

 Shakers … go about their duties in cheerful, happy helpful temper, feeling that “Labor is worship and prayer.” (Leonard, Shaker Manifesto 1871, for quote source, click here)

The results of each Shaker task was a praise offering to the Father:  spinning, weaving, sewing, making baskets, brushes, bonnets, brooms, furniture, growing and harvesting for sale medicinal herbs, garden seeds, apple-sauce, and knitted garments, using the latest scientific methods for farming  and living. In 1835, they had cold showers in bathhouses with water pumped from the Kentucky River.

“Hands to work, hearts to God,”  (Mother Ann Lee).
The work of the hands reflecting the heart to God.

Farm Deacon’s Shop, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrate our 29th anniversary at The Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. Thirty hours of together time – celebrating 29 years of marriage – a little bit of history, a lot of good food, quietness in a beautiful place, staying in a historic building all to ourselves – holistically delightful!

To make a chair, with such perfection, such skill, the best you had within you – a worthy chair on which an Angel of God could sit – that was the goal of each Shaker chair maker (Tour Guide, Pleasant Hill, August 2012)

I bet even the Chair Master, when he was an apprentice, had homework. If he had never tried, never improved, never turned in his homework or day work, he would never have become the Chair Master – creating a chair so perfect it was fit for angels.

“God, the master workman, who has made the smallest insect with as much care as the mammoth elephant, sets us the example of good work.  Imitation is the sincerest praise.”  (Shaker Manifesto).

I’ve been re-seeding, watering, trying to grow that idea and instill it in my boys.  Simple Gifts has a bed-time lullaby in our house for over 27 years:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
(Simple Gifts, Shaker Song)

Doing my best as a parent, is that not praise to God also? Not giving up on encouraging these boys “to come down where [they] ought to be.” Sometimes, praise is not easy – especially when you are praising for something you do not see the evidence of.

Shaping, crafting for the company of angels and God – that kind of skill starts in the heart, works its way to the hands and the feet – even if the work of the hands and feet are classroom assignments and teaching moments in a car on the way to school at 7:15 a.m.

Maybe the morning and private prayer time ought to include that God give us each the desire to over-rule the power that would have us sullenly turn away from encouragement, that our desire to do our best flame higher and stronger than the desire to not do where we are planted our best.

Sometimes, a math sheet can be so much more than homework – it can be an I-Love-You Praise gift worthy of angels and God – if it is labored over for God.

For more information on Shaker History, click here and here.

For the Trinity of Success, click here

659) Post-it notes for prayer requests stuck on my desk and bathroom mirror that remind me to pray
660) Paine au chocolates for my daughter-in-law – because my son said she’d like them
661) baklava for my son – because he likes it – and he asked for it.
662) leaves swirling like confetti in dappled sunlight on a quiet street on my way home from work
663) A quiet weekend morning, on the porch with a cup of coffee, listening to a blue jay
664) zinnias that rebloom sherbet colors all summer long
665) a bushel of tomatoes from my garden
666) time to knit 4 rows of a project
667) boys reading in the weekend morning – no t.v., no music, just a silent kind of industriousness that sighs contentment
668) the courage to buy a pink and purple booster seat for baby girl to sit at the table – on the clearance rack – with a mini-booster-seat for a tiny baby doll. My littlest, almost 12, assembled it, secured it – and grandbaby girl and her stuffed animal enjoyed dinner
669) Hearing the following words: “In college I went to the used book store to get some classics to read, like Shakespeare, ‘Much Ado about Nothing. I used to buy books there all the time until the owner offered me a massage.” – Not the massage part, though that definitely adds a little something to the story – but that I instilled a love for reading things like Shakespeare.
670) Previous discussion morphing into a discussion of Chaucer (thank you, “A Knight’s Tale” – and the devolving and evolving of words).
671) Saturday Morning date at the Farmer’s Market
672) Chard, honey, parsley, cucumbers, eggplant and dill at the Farmer’s Market
673) Watch grandbaby girl have one-on-one time with her 14-year-old uncle
674) Sons meeting rising to meet life challenges
675) Sons who still hug
676) Living a hectic schedule one hour at a time – thank you God for helping me through this week – with a schedule that challenged my peace
677) meeting with friends over dinner – friends who laugh with you and don’t mind you being yourself
678) a friend from church, seeing my husband in the grocery store, battling a cold – and she prayed for him
679) Phone calls my mom and aunt every morning  – when I married, long-distance calling was too expensive – now, I can call every day. What an awesome blessing! I love that.
680) weekday morning prayer, no matter how put out any one person is – the littlest leading the Lord’s Prayer, the next leading the 23 Psalm – and seeing my senior’s hands automatically reaching for the bible I leave in the car to find a Proverb – without me reminding.
681) watching green things and blooming things outside my window
682) rain, in sheets, in mists, rumbling and rolling thunder across the sky, lights out as the rain from the hurricane blows its way to Tennessee.
683) sitting with the lights off in the house, on our porch, listening to the boys and husband talk of big and little things, little and big – in the way that boys do – so endearing, so serious, sometimes so silly – all more beautiful in the quiet
684) sitting around the big table, dinner finished, a coffee cup in my hand, listening to the talking, trying to get a word in somewhere – wondering how does a mom’s voice stay relevant when men talk about their world, grateful for Shakespeare and Chaucer moments – yes, it was a double blessing, worthy of a gazillion times ( which reminds me of a 5 minute discussion of dictionaries and the word ginormous).
685) Comfort that during tomorrow and Wednesday and through all the rest of the week, He has blessings along my path to remind me that He is with me, that He never abandons nor forsakes me.

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Blessings like Zinnias

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

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

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

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

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

 

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This week, I have that caterpillar-in-a-cocoon feeling again, where I just want to pull the blanket of my family close about me.

What I thought was a pulled muscle – for a whole year –  from exercising is really a gallbladder just dying to come out . That’s happening at the end of the week. Yes, I hear it is a piece of cake  thing – but, well, it has worn me out, all the uncomfortableness – so this week, I am going to wrap myself in my family, get the house straight because for some reason I want to do that, spend time with the Father who tells me:

“I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you”(Isaiah 41: 9-10)

My youngest son this weekend jokingly accused me of dropping him on his head. I remember how careful I was not drop any of them on their head. Fearful, almost of that dropping. This particular son, though, managed to turn himself upside down twice in a rocker/stroller.

“No, you did that to yourself,” I laughed back, a bit mortified but realizing that parenting is imperfect, unlike God’s parenting.

Sometimes, we do that, don’t we – get ourselves turned upside down – not really meaning to but there we are anyway – upside down.

Yet God, He promises He won’t drop us. Reminds us that He hasn’t yet dropped us. If, by unfortunate happenstance, we find ourselves, upside down, we are NOT to panic . . . Not to let fear run amuck.

He’s got me. He’s got you. He’ll hold both of us steady with a firm grip.

Oh, how I like that this week. He’s got me. He’s holding me steady – and all I see in my head is my son when he was little soothed, comforted, all put back together, smiling with delight that I’m holding him steady so he can walk on those legs that just can’t quite do it on their own yet.

He’s holding me like that this week! I pray you let Him hold you like that this week, too – whatever your challenge. Whatever your fear. Believe that He holds you. Believe He won’t drop you!

Believe

I do, even if I feel like being in a caterpillar-in-a-cocoon frame of mind.

Wishing you blessing this week, a journey of 1,000 blessings, sweet gifts He leaves with us to remind us that He is right beside us. I’m going to collect mine and preserve them to share later.

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A stomach bug has been creeping around our house. The blessings, in their usual places, don’t comfort me. The yard cardinals, my growing-tall zinnias, my burning bushes, the squirrels on the sidewalk to my office – even the hammock under the tree.

503) Some days, like stomach bug days, the blessing is the comfort in a blanket wrapped around,
504) the hum of  a galaxy
505) tiredness resting on a soft pillow
506) and the quiet, the sleep.
507) The blessing is in the doing of others
508) the folding of laundry,
509) the preparing of dinner
510) and the cleaning up.
511) A beet-mango smoothie with ginger soothing after work when anything more is uncomfortable.
512) The comfort in my husband’s hand rubbing my back,
513) one of my sons leaning his head against mine for a sit-down moment.
514) A slow rain on a Sunday that slowed everyone down so much,
515) they just paused beside us on the porch and lingered
516) repeatedly returning and lingering as we sat there, watching.
517) It amazes me the sweet living in the pause.

I am discovering that some days, the Father’s love letters are written outside of me, in the landscape. On other days, they are written in my heart, like the simmering rejoicing of an answered prayer that fills me up inside.

This week has been a rejoicing week, despite a creeping bug.
518) Rejoicing in answered prayers,
519)in sitting in church with my husband and sons
520) hands reaching, shaking my reserve soldier son’s hand, rejoicing that he is home
521) a very old friend, a spiritual grandfather to my son, speaking blessing over my son, with his words, his hands, his expressions – showing my son God’s amazing love –
522) After a long waiting on which steps to take, God revealing
523) The relief in the revealing
524) The lingering in the quiet with the Father, joyful, smiling, excited and quiet all at once – because He is faithful, amazingly, beautifully Faithful!
525) Faith of God’s mighty power eradicating this creeping stomach bug

“For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does
(Psalm 33: 4)

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A prayer is a journey released.

I believe

That when you pray for other people, that prayer goes on a journey,

And like all journeys, come back home.

Prayer returned home.

Come back home in the manner it was released – with either faith, hope and love or faithless, hopeless and loveless.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:36)

I remember praying healing for someone who had experienced a life-threatening injury

And through the journey of the prayer

Over months and months

That healing prayer came back to heal us of secondary infertility.

“I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

 Over the last few months, our family has been praying

For Annie to return, to come home  (see this post) – praying with faith, hope and love.

While we prayed for Annie, we prayed for a son (see this post), prayed with faith, hope and love – For this son to sell out to Jesus.

This son who couldn’t wait to leave home, busted out of home when he graduated from high school last year, signed up for the reserves and has become a better man, Friday night, he said, “It’s come my time to find God and come home.” He didn’t just say it to me; he said it on Facebook, kind of like he needed to say it to the world.

Prayer sent out on a journey returned home.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 6: 30).

24 hours later, Annie came home, too. We were in our car, returning from a far-away wedding, celebrating a heart-friend’s daughter’s marriage, a marriage beginning God-centered, faith-centered – and I wanted to dance, to celebrate God’s amazing love, His never-give-up-ness with this answered prayer returned home from its journey.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven”(Psalm 107:28-30).

 Praying is not a stagnant action. A prayer is a journey released, returning home returning home in the manner released. Unasked for. Unexpected.

480) The daily, familiar blessings, like the cardinals, mockingbirds, dove calls
481) Squirrels rummaging through the hay outside my work window
482) Strawberry, Watermelon and lemonade icy smoothy
483) “You have made me glad. I’ll say of the Lord you are my shield, my strength, my portion deliver, My shelter, Strong Tower, My very Present Help in time of need” (Made Me Glad, Hillsong) – a song in my heart whether at my work desk, in my car, my kitchen, or in a hammock under my tree – Releasing that song in my heart – no one else could hear it – but me and God!
484) Boys worn out from swimming, the evidence of sunshine on their cheeks.
485) A date day with my husband, with a heart-friend’s daughter’s wedding.
486) Lunch at the Cheesecake Factory – my favorite Club Sandwich and a cup of coffee.
487) Walking in a real mall, window shopping and some real shopping
488) My husband gifting me with Tocca’s Stella perfume which I have wanted since January.
489) Good haircuts on my boys – I don’t know why but a good haircut makes me feel like everything is on the right track.
490) My littlest guy coming up, wrapping me in a hug, “I love you, Mom.”
491) Laughing with my new senior son! He’s going to be a camp counselor-in-training. No flirting allowed. I tried coaching him to say, “I’m here to serve Jesus. Please respect my decision” when girls hit on him. Instead of repeating after me, he said, “Send me your number. I’ll call you when camp is over” – I couldn’t stop laughing because, while he has great lines, he’s not a smooth, shallow pick-up guy. He is so full of the Joy of the Lord.
492) Wheat fields, swaying in a cool 78 degree breeze
493) My camera through which I have learned to live more fully where I am – we arrived at the South Union Shaker Village wedding site early taking in detail in an intentional way, not a skimmed-over-way.
494) Hugs from dear friends not seen enough
495) new love consecrated in marriage, made one through the Holy Spirit – and the couple inviting God into their union knowingly, whole-heartedly, eyes wide open.
496) My sons jeep pulling into the driveway.
497) Brother’s smiling, not saying but actions speaking loudly, welcoming a brother home.
498) Showing my neighbor’s 4 year old how to draw cats on the sidewalk with the sidewalk chalk and little girls in polka dot dresses.
499) People caring enough to pray, to connect, to have relationship – people caring enough to send their prayers on a journey.
500) Nikki at Simply Striving who read “Bicycling with Ava” to her son and she telling me he asked to hear it again. I’m still smiling!
501) Annie coming home!
502) Understanding that the coming home is just the beginning of another journey.

The Bride Arrived in a Red Car

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Beware – this isn’t just a list. The blessings are planted into the content – the numbers are there just to help you see them.

382) Sage, lavendar, black-eyed susans, , pink-cone flowers, purple salvia, luscious grape lantana – flowers that will come back next summer – flowers that can endure extremes of living – living in the Tennessee red clay or, well, really the rich soil filled into the Tennessee red clay holes dug.

383) The flower pots, though – that can’t endure the extremes: filled with purple pansies, Mexican Gold, Scaevola Bombay Whites, Martha Washington’s wine-colored flowers, and beautiful flowers with name tags lost that just, well, bloom beautiful. The zinia seeds, they’re growing, growing in crowded little clicks like teenage girls that needed separating and space. A dirty job – but the benefits are jars and vases of flowers everywhere until Autumn just orders them to stop with one freeze too many.

384) My 15 burning bush rootballs are growing – some thriving more than others.

I missed this, the last 3 summers, the planting, the growing, the weeding, the waiting, the cutting back, the deading, the waiting, the seed-time and-harvest reminder, even the collecting of seeds, sliding them into envelopes for the next year.

Yesterday as I separated the itty, bitty zinia roots, untangling them and giving them their own space, I thought about growing-up my boys – and, regardless of the age, living out seed-time-and-harvest.

“Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest-if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9)

385) The Father, He wrote me, this daughter of His, who likes to read book endings first, who can’t stand suspense – He wrote me a love letter in those little tangled roots.

He told me to trust the seed-time and-harvest of parenting by faith.

That tangled up boys to men, – well, they need that time, just like my zinia seeds.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Cor 3:6).

386) As I planted, I prayed, prayed for an Apollos to water – prayed for you dear friends to water where I could not.

Just like I, here, where I live, am called to water for you dear friends where you cannot.

Because one day, these growing up boys to men and girls to women, walk out home’s door into the world, to seize their independence – and we both want faith men and women to water those seeds we planted when we cannot.

We are all seed planters – but we are all called to be Apollos the Waterers  to seeds not our own- to tangled up root systems that don’t look like much, some that might even give us a rash.

The blind man, the woman with the issue of blood, the crippled man, Lazarus’s sisters  – they all walked out the door of their homes one day needing someone else to water the seeds their parents planted.

Jesus showed them and us how to water those seeds – Apollos learned how to from friends who learned from Jesus.

God made those seeds grow!

Are you willing to be an Apollos to the outcasts, to the imperfect, to the sinners? I hope so– I pray for you daily to be the laborer the Father sends to grow my sons in ways that I cannot.

Parenting is like that.

It is part of the job description as a gardener in the Kingdom.

“How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”

 “With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots” (Mark 4:30-31, The Message)

387) A gardenia from my mom
388) who came for a visit
389) a mother who gives solid, strong hugs and isn’t afraid to ask for them
390) for green asperagus and yellow hollandaise sauce,
391) greeen beans on my boys plate that actually filled their tummies
392) “How do you make these?” my mom asked about my mashed potatoes. “With Maryleigh magic,” I laughed – it is blessing when someone understands your humor and knows it’s not puffed-up pride.
393) A new chicken recipe from an old family cookbook with curry. I’d never cooked with curry this something new made a family get-together a blessing.
394) We sat at the family table, 4 generations.
395) My mom finally holding her first great-grandchild.
396) A lot went into getting home ready for a 4-generation visit. My little guys pitched in, helping me because I was so tired from away-soccer games and too little time these days. One did it because he had to; the other did it because he knew I needed the help.
397) A Mother’s Day gift from my mom, picked up at an antique store and framed with love: cross stitch art-work saying, “A mother is a woman who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”
398) A purple scarf she didn’t make for me but gave me anyway
399) 24 chocolate cup cakes with chocolate ganache for a work event(12 for home)
400) 1 blueberry crunch for a going-away thank-you to the sweet lady who trained me
401) 2 derby pies for a soccer fundraiser
402) Baby girl falling asleep on my shoulder
403) My oldest son telling me, “Dinner was delicious.”

404) evenings outside, watering plants, talking, watching all the birds, the sky, the seed-time-harvest pace.
405) sitting out there with my husband, talking when there’s things to say but being comfortable with the quiet when there’s not.

406) Love letters from my Father, there for me to find – if I only pay attention.

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If you have kept up with me this last week (here and here), you will know it was a week where blessing seeking, finding God’s love letters had to be intentional. Not only sought after, but accepted. Part of me was tempted to push away blessing, to push away His sweet love letters.

329) Wednesday, I almost cancelled lunch with my sweet daughter-in-law and lovely Grandbaby Girl. I thought it traitorous, almost sacrilegious to find an hour of joy when my friends were suffering so, when my boys were grieving so and my heart ached so. I went, inwardly debating all angles.  Immersing in hour of listening to my DIL talk was such a beautiful thing. There was blessing there – because I had little voice for things, I gained greater blessing – hearing my DIL’s voice, her ideas. I needed that .Grandbaby Girl’s smiles, finding happiness in my arms – my heart needed that, too.Yes, sometimes looking for these blessings, accepting these love letters from the Father needs to be intentional- all types of encouragement and lifting up would be missed if we decided they were not appropriate when He leaves them for us. Only heart-ache would remain. God doesn’t want us to shove away blessings, especially in tragedy.“If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there;if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath” (Psalm 34:18, The Message)

330) Stouffers 4 Cheese Lasagna, 2 loaves of wheat bread, blueberries, strawberries and grapes in a lime green bowl, carrots and broccoli in a blue bowl, carried to friends. My heart needed to give comfort or it would burst.“We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

331) Being told how my 11-year-old son, in the midst of tragedy, ran for help with his friend, and then gathered 3 little siblings in the midst of sirens and EMS, comforting his friends big and small, praying for them, ensuring they didn’t see things their hearts weren’t designed for. The knowledge that in crisis, he walked out his faith, well, thank you God!
332) Neighbors standing in a circle praying
333) Bed-time prayers with unprompted inclusion of hurting friends – that they pray like that, believe like that:
As I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my Soul to Keep
God Bless . . . . .(list)
Give me peaceful sleep and restful dreams
That the Angels encamp about us and protect us
That I love you more tomorrow . . .And each added prayers for their friends here“We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part” (2 Cor 1:8-11, The Message)

334) Finally having time to plant 15 burning bush and 3 forsythea rootballs – that in the 3 weeks since the UPS man delivered them, we kept them alive.
335) Boys helping, carrying dirt clods to the mulch pile
336) A scratched up place for zinnia seeds.
337) The Hope of red, purple, pink, yellow zinnia’s cut and placed in mason jars throughout the house.“He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6)

338) Soldier son’s second interview for a job,
339) knowing there are people who care enough to be references
340) a call back for the 3rd interview contingent on reference responses
341) Having children who connect with all age groups to care enough for tears held back or released
342) Teachers who take good care of my son’s hearts
343) A window view at work of blue skies, big trees and shrubs cut back sprouting new growth.
344) A husband who tells our little one, “Life here is just a part of our journey. When we go to heaven, we continue living another part of our journey.”
345) Hot and Spicey Chinese Soup and egg rolls with hot mustard for a cold that keeps threatening
346) Coffee with my husband, outside early Sunday morning watching the red cardinals, mocking birds, doves, blue jays live out their backyard relationships.
347) The Hope of a Volunteer Cherry Tree, pulled out. A weary husband who says, “Maybe we should just let it die” as we hunt for a place to put this last transplant that we didn’t expect. The space available is rocky with Tennessee red clay. “Let’s plant it and give it hope. Otherwise, it won’t have a choice. Maybe it will choose to live,” I answered. He wrestled with the Tennessee red clay mixed with rocks and scraped out a place for it to live if it would.May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13)

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“But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!(Jude 1:20).

Arms outstretched and open, that’s how I want to be with God – like a child standing before my Father, arms outstretched and open, wanting to be lifted, held – and knowing  it, owning it that the Father will pick me up, hold me close, carry me, protect me, comfort me.

Praying in the Holy Spirit, though, that lifts straight into the center of God’s love, into the Father’s arms.

Arms outstretched anticipates, believes. Bold. Confident. Assurance of being wanted, loved, valued: Is my daddy going to pick me up? No doubt – especially when that daddy is Father God.

Arms outstretched  believes whole-heartedly – and it is my job to either say, pray and lay that foundation in my son’s lives, regardless of age.

Last week, a lot of foundation work went on at many structure levels.  It was a prayer-results-emerging week, too. Not a gut-wrenching, take-me-to-my-knees week.  It was one of those weeks where the stone-laying went smoothly. Where everything seemed to go just right. Progress was made.

Progress because of a lot of behind the scenes building through praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping centered on God’s love and not giving up. Living arms-outstretched, reaching, so ready for His mercy – that’s how last week happened.

Only with arms outstretched, hoping, believing, expecting can we received the blessings, the answered prayers.


Still joining with Ann in my journey to 1,000 gifts. Each day, there are gifts, some so simply, they could be easily over-looked. Some just roll over you like like a an army – you can’t miss it. Vintaging my week? Love Letters from God? So many treasures of His love!

278) My acorn turned 17 (See Growing Up My Acorn)
279) the same night another son played a middle school soccer game
280) This acorn, he came, hung out, laughed and tormented the littlest brother
281) hung out with friends on the lacrosse field, old and new friends
282) and he smiled, genuine smiles, feeling-at-home smiles that were, though he didn’t know it, answer-to-prayer smiles.
283) His biggest brother, sweet wife and baby girl came to dinner at our favorite celebration restaurant,
284) I got to hold baby girl all through dinner, her Papaw did, too
285) Dinner had our favorite dishes, silly smiles, feeling that family feeling that is just blessing, a gift from God, those moments you pray happen, except we were missing one
286) missing the one who has made better-man choices all year long, better-man choices that take him fishing, better-man choices that are answered prayers.
287) A carrot juice smoothie with a friend over lunch
288) My littlest guy, winning the sub-region 4-H Science Fair in Electricity. He came home from school in January wanting to do his project over Series and Parallel Circuits – and hounded us. Self-motivation is a blessing from God – and he has that.
289) Report cards that show healthy work ethics.
290) Knowing that prayer can change things that need to be changed.
291) Pansies in my flower boxes really blooming from Fall plantings – reminding that faith is believing in things that seem unbelievable.
292) Sitting around the chiminea with friends until a thunderstorm rolls in with lightening and hail, but we have a Holy Cow cake and a Kentucky basketball game to take its place.
293) Sleeping until 9 a.m. on Saturday morning
294) The red cardinals, still nesting in my yard, still singing their songs. Even at 1 a.m. There’s such an abundance – that it’s like God, instead of dropping confetti in my life to say, “Your faithfulness brought you home,” he filled my yard with cardinals instead.
295) My minister did a sermon on 1 Samuel 30: – where after David left home to do what God wanted him to do, when he returned, his family and the  family of all his mighty soldiers had been taken. David grieved – the situation tore his heart. His men felt it was David’s fault and thought about stoning him – but David took it to God, believed in God’s plan – and ultimately retrieved not only his family but all the soldier’s families. This story so blessed me, reminding me that the journey God sent us on 2 1/2 years ago, where at times I felt like I was losing my sons, my home because the challenges were so hard – that because we took that journey because God told us to, that during the challenges we never lost faith, we continued leading our young men in the ways of God along with much  praying, that He not only brought us safely home, but not one of our sons will be lost through the challenges because of our faith, our never taking our hearts off Him. It was like God whispering to me, “Like David, you will not lose one. Not one!” My God is a mighty God who lays stepping stones to my life that I cannot always fathom but I can take each step in faith and trust. Thank you, Father!
296) Faith that growing pains are just that – evidence of growing opportunities.
297) Blackberry Currant tea in an “I love you this much” cup at my desk at work.
298) Living encouragement, the power of positive thinking, and always looking for confetti moments – the desire for everyday living to never get old.
299) Finding a diet dr. pepper hid behind a book and another under a straw hat – and sharing one with my littlest guy.
300) That I don’t give up on bed-time tuck-in moments.
301) Morning prayer on the way to school: one leading the Lords’s prayer, one the 23rd psalm and the teen picking a proverb, and me praying, asking each boy to find 3 people to pray for each day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inventory in the Storehouse of Snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Vintage Lane at Etsy.com

The milk box, at my grandmother’s house when I was just a visitor, just a grandchild, before my parent’s divorce and I moved in becoming something not quite a grandchild and not quite a daughter, before the great change, the milk box sat on her front porch. Not by the door for all to see – but against the red-brick porch wall between the green swing and the steps. Always shaded, always protected from the elements.

On those sweet occasions when I would spend the night with my grandmother and grandfather, some early mornings found me already swinging, waiting for the milk man to bring two or three glass milk jars with paper seals, jars sweating coolness. Some mornings the milk man came when I was still sleeping. When I woke, I’d run down, open the lid to the milk box and gather those white, glistening bottles and take them to the kitchen.

Before the great change, Grandmother made hot chocolate for me in the mornings. After the great change, she poured me an everyday glass of milk. Living with my grandparents, along with my mother and brother, became every day living, not special occasion living.

I can still feel the cool grey concrete under my feet, the sound of the milk box lid dropping – and the coolness of the milk.

Blessings are like that. Except God brings them to our doorstep, placing them in often likely places, like a milk box. Like that little girl, sometimes I meet Him there – at the steps of the blessing – and sometimes I arrive after He has left – and I must look for the blessing.

I am learning to find the blessings in the midst of the big and little challenges of every day living. Won’t you join me, join the search for the blessings the Father leaves us, each individual us? Join me at Ann’s 1,000 Gifts with a community of women seeking to live blessing?

80) A good morning Hallelujah to wake up my faith and greet my Father. Some days this moment is  in the shower. Sometimes in the morning school ride; other times just in the footsteps of waking everyone else.

81) not getting my shoes wet in the buckets and mists of rain
82) anger receding after untangling myself, like from a sticky cobweb
83) scriptures sent from Nan at LBDDiaries asking God for His words to come out of my mouth during a job interview
84) Friends sending notes of prayer promises
85) red tomatoes, red onions which are really purple and green romaine hearts chopped into a salad
86) Psalm 35:1 – wanting my Father to contend against those who come against me, for His justice to prevail but for forgiveness to be meted out.
87) a husband who champions me
88) a husband who cares when I cry, like Hannah’s husband cared about her tears.
89) That God collects each of my tears (Psalm 56:8)
90) That I love enough, open my heart enough to risk hurt, risk tears
91) a blue and white Bybee Pottery bowl filled with rice
92) My sons asking for more and being able to ladle out more. . . more rice, more time, more love, more attention
93) for zinc – and the all day energy I’ve never had before, the lifted brain fog, and the me I recognize
94) morning drives to school listening
95) one son leading  us in The Lord’s Prayer
96) another son leading  us in Psalm 23
97) the teen choosing a Proverb
98) time and discipline enough to pray before they pile out of the car that angels encamp about them, that they show others the love of Jesus through their words or actions, that they seek relationship with the Father throughout the day – and that the morning prayer is not the only time spent with Him.
99) blue after days of gray
100) a sunset like I’ve never seen, a foil-pressed sky reflecting gold, fuchsias, yellows, like a fiery furnace, with rectangles and waves emitting different pigments- and I remember thinking that maybe Jesus will return “riding on a cloud, shining like the sun” – like that – not just white brightness and white billowing clouds – but riding on Clouds of shiny Gold and Pinks and Yellows to Purples.
101) my scale showing 9 lbs lost due to self-discipline
102) True Directions. Words do mean something.
103) Narcissus Paperwhite candles
104) Quiet time in my office on Saturday, my only companion the Father, who I asked to come help with a story, not because I was struggling but because I didn’t want to do it without Him
105) Sunday lunch at Olive Garden
106) a bottomless bowl of salad
107) a carafe of coffee and cup to go
108) a waitress who took such good care of us
109) boy humor – and the stamina to handle it and a husband who reminds me “this is normal.”
110) Sunlight pouring through the front windows of my house and falling light through my bedroom window
111) a clothe full of dust
112) moments of joy-filled hope – for no apparent reason than for the moment, nothing is trying to steal it
113) doggedly trying to live forgiveness, to stop pulling the scab off hurt, recognizing that living forgiveness does not always staunch hurt
114) a bracelet a friend gave me before the journey over 2 years ago – a symbol of unconditional, God-love – because that is how she lives.
115) For milk box memories. I never want to go back but I like remembering the good things, the blessing things God always showed me in a broken time – like the honeysuckle in the backyard, grandfather’s white azaleas, fried bologna sandwiches, front porch living – the little blessings are where the beautiful things were.

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