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“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life–to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” ~ George Eliot, Adam Bede.

The oldest son walked in first, into the hospital room that Saturday in late February. I’d been admitted just long enough to have IVs placed. The antibiotics hadn’t even been started yet. I was septic with double pneumonia. My husband had gone home to bring back what I’d need for a stay. The second son and his wife came with my two youngest about 30 minutes later, followed by the 3rd son. I couldn’t talk; it wasn’t worth the effort, but, like any time all the boys gather, there is more entertainment to be found in the listening than by trying to add my 2 cents worth. It was an unanticipated gathering where love doesn’t need to invite, love just comes.

2016 was a year of unanticipated gatherings. I call them grace gatherings.

Gatherings: fellowship, belonging, inside the circle, storytelling, listening, laughter, tears, highs and lows, memory-making, engaging authentic caring, maybe just a just-holding-hands, sharing, quiet or loud, praying, believing, forgiving, hoping, choosing love, a just-being-there kind of gathering.

You see, there are the on-the-calendar gatherings with cakes and candles and a year added to someone’s count. There are holiday gatherings with feasting, thanksgiving, sparklers and fireworks. There are Soli Deo Gloria gatherings reminding us of God’s love and faithfulness in the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of His son. There are back porch gatherings, kitchen counter gatherings, breaking bread or sharing a cup of tea gatherings. People arrive either through formal invites or the casual, southern-styled, the-door’s-always-open invitation to stop by, sit long and talk much over a glass of sweet tea or lemonade.

weddingbennanfam

Ben and Katrina’s June, 2015 Wedding

Then there are the big-moment, still-planned gatherings like weddings and graduations with suits, ties and starched shirts. Or planned family gatherings in flip-flops, sand with a dab of beach soccer. Last summer,  35+ members of my husband’s family gathered at the beach. We’ve done this since 2009. This was the first year all my boys (with their family) have been together like this since 2008. It was a memory-making gathering.

beach2016fam

Family, June 2016

. . . and then there are the unwanted gatherings where grace just brings you to stand with others in the hard moments when illness threatens or death comes . . . . unwanted gatherings redeemed by grace.

Grace:
1. 
Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace
2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him. ~ 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary

Twice this year, Grace gathered and lined up, gave hugs, shared stories that touched our hearts and brought smiles.

Grace always makes time to love.

Those memories we’d all gathered?  Memory stories overflowed with more than enough grace to pour on aching, loss-sore hearts. Nanny had sowed enough love to bring grace to every one of our hearts when she went home to heaven in November. Those memories we’d gathered? Whether 6 or 66, we each had within us a lifetime of memories gathered to pull out when we miss her, to pull out to comfort in her absence.

It’s hard when a beloved character in your story leaves your story. It’s like when Beth dies in Little Women. The gatherings are never the same kind of sweet as when she was there, and it leaves the reader poignantly homesick for earlier chapters, even though the story continues on, fulfilling the designed hope for each character remaining in the story.

Yes, I would have preferred only the birthday sparkle and back-porch kind of gatherings in 2016. Who wouldn’t? But I find myself humbled by a loving God who instills in the hard gatherings grace that redeems through His unfailing love, a love so big that not only does he seek a one-on-one gathering with each of us, but manages to give each of us what we need in the table-packed, porch-packed, house-packed, beach-packed easy or hard gatherings.

2016 was a Grace-in-the-Gatherings kind of year. I don’t know God’s design for 2017. I do know there will be birthday gatherings with cakes and sparkle. When Spring comes, the back porch will open up again and sweet tea and lemonade will taste mighty fine with those who come to sit long and talk much. My 4th son graduates in May, a new grandchild will come in July. The one thing I can rely on is my reliable  Father-God who always shows up, whether I’m alone or in an easy or hard gathering – and brings His abundant grace to share with all who come.

Praying grace in your gatherings in 2017!

“Remember: He WANTS your fellowship, and He has done everything possible to make it a reality. He has forgiven your sins, at the cost of His own dear Son. He has given you His Word, and the priceless privilege of prayer and worship” ~Billy Graham, Hope for Each Day: Words of Wisdom and Faith.

 nannylegacy

http://arabahjoy.com/ Arabah Joy
http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
http://www.spiritualsundays.com/ Spiritual Sundays
Giving Up on Perfect, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday, http://seespeakhearmama.com/ Give Me Grace

http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/     Small Wonder (formerly Unforced Rhythms)
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/    Sharing His Beauty
http://donnareidland.com   Mondays @ Soul Survival
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/     Testimony Tuesday
http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage
http://www.w2wministries.org/     Word-Filled Wednesdays
http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart
http://3dlessons4life.com/ Thought-Provoking Thursday

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January 19, 2015: Winter is playing it’s games right now. The sun shines like Springtime. There’s no frost on the windshield in the mornings – and I find myself thinking of tomato and chard seeds . . . . but I’m waiting. The more it feels like Spring, closer comes the snow . . . . and I love snow flakes and snow days . . . . and so I wait with expectation of God’s grace in coming changes, like weather patterns, seasons and how time fills the daily.

January 30, 2013: I felt like I needed to say this again – for many reasons, inside and outside reasons.

January 3, 2013: The boys, they have been moaning – moaning over weather channels calling for snow and snow not coming. Tonight, the boys kept looking at the weather radar – hoping. Too big to put ice cubes down the toilet – they just plain, old-fashioned hoped, with a dose of moaning for garnish!

At 11 p.m., when my husband and I were locking up, turning lights down, he called me to look out the door: The Snow Trees had come. I danced. I twirled. I trotted upstairs, to shake each boy gently awake, point out their windows, announcing the arrival of The Snow Trees – and wrapped in their sleepiness, they had now joyful greeting for the snow trees.

Feb 1, 2013 – They didn’t even remember me announcing: The Snow Trees have Come! – but they were so happy they had come!
snowday9c2

Winter 2012

Winter is late.
The snow hasn’t come yet.
I am
waiting.

The Daffodils and lilies arrive
too early
not suspecting
Mother Nature trickery
in mercury messaged
invitation
and stems climb out
of  warm brown covers
turning their hope
to an unreliable sun
so vulnerable, so unprepared
for Winter coming late

Even Dogwood Blossoms
are deceived
with sun signs and
mercury tricks

Wouldn’t at least
the dogwood
know
with the story of our Savior
imprinted on the fibers
of its design,
that signs and seasons
are unreliable
time clocks
for announcing
jobs and tasks,
like blooming and snow fall,
seed time and salvation

Unlike winter
God is never
late

Unlike rising mercury in January
God does not deceive or lead
falsely

God is never
surprised
about disappointments and troubles
we find ourselves
in
He is never
late
to redeem us from
our rushings into places
not ready for us

or maybe
places and tasks
we are not
yet
ready for

Only we
are surprised,
disappointed,
our budding faith
nipped
by trusting sun signs
and mercury
instead of God Words
God Whisperings

God always plans
Time to grow
into
His plans
for our lives
seed time
and harvesting.

“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1: 7-8)

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Launching into independence “feels” perilous. Two of my sons have launched into independence differently: one gradually, one immediate.

As one son described it: “I loaded my truck 2 scoops at a time. He took the load all at once.”

Nervous? Frustrated? Sad? Scared? Freaking out? Some people might suggest these feelings mean a diagnosis and pill are needed, maybe they’re not ready, maybe they don’t have what it takes. While sometimes these reasons maybe be viable, most often they are just growing-independence-becoming -responsible pains.

I think all parents want to eliminate stress, hurt, failure and fear from their children’s lives. However, keeping children in a bubble, un-stressed, ill-equipped for responsibility is doing them a disservice. Learning how to handle being uncomfortable, how to face the unnerving challenge of living independence should be essential parenting.

Blue Cotton Dad says, “I would be concerned if someone newly on their own wasn’t [stressed out, frustrated, scared]. This means they’re engaged. They’re thinking about what they need to do.”

However they leave the nest, it is important to let them build their wing strength to eventually soar. It is hard to be a hands-off safety net. In this growing into responsibility and independence, my prayers can go where I cannot. When Change Comes is a prayer for these sons growing into men, facing challenges that separate the men from the boys.

When Change Comes

When changes comes
seemingly unasked, unwanted, uncomfortable
you might be surprised
but God isn’t

When change comes
so does frustration, fear, sadness,
humility, deflated confidence
because change brings new things
new challenges, tasks, heart-issues
new things bring out the gracelessness
of who we are without Him

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character. Hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

When change comes,
in the fine print of the change
is a note from God saying,
“You are ready for this next level.
You are equipped for this. You need to walk this path to collect
things important for the rest of your story.
Trust me.”

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 5: 3-5)

When change comes,
you will first cry out, “Help me”
until one day, you will realize help is
a journey, a short story journey
in the midst of the anthology of your life
and you ask, “Be with me”
and He is with you, even on the days
when you can do nothing more than stand,
in the night terrors when all you can do is breath in
“Lord Jesus Christ,”
and breath out, “Have Mercy on Me.”

“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

When change comes,
it heralds God calling you to greater
intimacy
where faith, hope and love become
more real than your skin
where God becomes more than 3 letters
in a book

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 32:2)

When change comes,
and the world questions you
it is your faith that shields
you from the arrows that would pierce
your dignity,
while you grow into God becoming
more than you ever knew

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way”(James 1:2-4)

When you come upon change
remember change is the next stepping stone
closer to God.
He placed each stone there before
you were born
so you would know how to find your way
back home
the path is true
the end
is assured

“When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it” (2 Cor. 3:7).

196) Standing between my boys, our hands raised in prayer, blessing our week
197) Walking during my lunch break, talking to my mom before surgery to clear an 80% blockage in her right carotid artery
198) News that my mom’s heart is healthy as a horse
199) Friends calling on God in their prayers to battle for my mom, to make miracles and healing for my mom
200) “What’s that?” my mom asked about the sound. “The blustery wind” and I thought about the trees above me. Were they praising God and was their praise going up to God and the sweet blessing of it falling on the students and me walking beneath it, like cherry blossoms in the spring?
201) The next day after surgery, my mom’s speech flowing more freely than it hand in a long time. It is amazing what 100% blood flow to your brain can accomplish.
202) robin egg blue, butter yellow, heavy-whipping-cream white, baby girl pink – all in the bags of mini-Cadbury eggs!
203) A candle jar turned into a candy jar that hollars to my sons who come for a handful. We’re working on 3 – I told them this was the not-gluttony jar. The discussion that followed made me smile.
204) pictures to my cell phone from my husband when my son graduated from AIT Thursday.
205) My soldier son walking through the door, asking if he could do laundry.
206) The energy to cook his favorite meal, Cajun shrimp and pasta, as I learn to get the hang of all day working.
207) Praying with a son before he leaves the house to face living independent
208) a squirrel foraging beneath a shrub beside the door entrance to work
209) a black umbrella with blue, green and red polka dots
210) baby showers and animal print blankets
211) A sweet friend and husband surprising us on our porch Fat Tuesday to celebrate friendship. God knew we needed to come out of our box! Just further proof that God sends beautiful gifts of friendship.
212) my little guy saying bedtime prayers and including his baby niece like she’s been part of the “God Bless” list forever.
213) peace beyond understanding
214) fluffy pillows and my white down comforter
215) That how I feel is not what determines the outcome, that it is my faith in my Father that determines the outcome!
216) My husband’s joyfulness, his humor and his smile – through it, I am able to see life more beautiful, more joyful.
217) Orange Dulce tea
218) Sunday afternoon when the sun was shining springtime, and the oldest son of them all stopped by, and in all the talking, each brother walked through, hugging, talking, teasing, and it felt like family when it’s good
219) Clean, white sunshine, falling from the blue sky into my house.

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Forgiveness tastes salty. Sometimes, unconditional love tastes salty, too. The only thing I know to do when hurt comes, not offense, just hurt – is to call on the Father, maybe sometimes in a Knight in Shining Armor kind of way to save the damsel in me. Because sometimes when hurt comes, love and forgiveness are overwhelmed and need saving, He is the only one who can do it.

Prayer for when Love and Forgiveness feel Overwhelmed by Hurt

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler
and rise for my help!
Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers!
Say to my soul,
‘I am your salvation!’”
(Psalm 35: 1-3)

Father, yes, contend against those who contend against me. Champion this damsel in distress. Let me feel your protection from the fight, the battle – you are my salvation. You are the only Knight in Shining Armour who can win this battle. But let your spear and javelin be the spear and javelin of truth that pierces hearts, lancing untruth, prejudice, negativism and applying the healing balm of your spirit.

“Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away!
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them”
(Psalm 35: 4-6).

Father, if there is shame or dishonor, let it be only in the recognition of the truth and love of my heart. When turned back, let it be with peace and rejoicing in truth. Do no let them become like chaff before the wind, let not the angel of the Lord drive them away. Let their way become sure-footed, truth-footed, God-footed, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them for salvation, not destruction. Let your love and forgiveness be meted out by a heart embracing truth and love.

“For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his destruction!”
(Psalm 35: 7-8)

The evidence is before you Father, the nets hid, a pit dug – all without merit. Yet, let not destruction come, let not traps ensare into destruction. Let Salvation ensare, captured by your saving grace. Let truth and love permeate  souls Father. Let redemption be found through your ways.

“Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his salvation.
All my bones shall say,
“O Lord, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”

(Psalm 35: 9-10)

My soul rejoices in you Oh, Lord, exulting in your salvation. All my bones, from my toes upward cry out, “O Lord, who is like you” for you deliver me from situations too strong for me, from situations that seek to rob me, from situations I cannot comprehend.

“Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.
They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft”
(Psalm 35: 11-12)

 I try to love Father – in words, actions and thoughts. But my words, actions and thoughts are mis-interepreted, mis-used or lost in translation.  My soul is bereft: beggared, destitute, left without, impoverished, disinherited, barren, cast off, without breath.

“But I, when they were sick—
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in mourning”
(Psalm 35: 13-14)

Oh, father, I can only love the way I know how. Is there more? Is there a better way? I have tried every love language, tried to love your way, through you, sometimes graceless like a dancer with wounded feet, but always full-hearted, a no-holds barred loving.

“But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
they gathered together against me;
wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
like profane mockers at a feast,
they gnash at me with their teeth”
(Psalm 35: 15-16)

At each wrong foot unintentionally placed, at each word imperfectly chosen, at each moment awkwardly loved – offense was taken, resulting in retribution that tore at me, constantly. Not forgiven or overlooked, like spilled milk at a feast where it is cleaned up and camaraderie continues – but my gracelessness, my imperfection stays center stage, judged, ridiculed, continual bruising and scratching of my heart, no moving forward, no loving forward, hurt that nips and pulls at my soul. Who cares but you, Oh Father, about these wounds? Who but you can heal them?

“How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, ‘Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it'”
(Psalm 35: 19-21)

If there is something barring you from interceding on my behalf, open my eyes to it Lord. Is there a reason I am to walk through this Father? Please rescue from this destructive hurt. You have told me I am precious to you, a favored daughter. Rescue me,  Father. I will tell the story of my Knight in Shining Armour who rode out of heaven to lift me up, who saved me, healed blindness, healed embittered hearts, healed wounds – and restored.

Let restoration be true Father. Not a 6-year-old, “I’m sorry” to escape punishment – but real heart changes. Let there be change, deep soul-change: restoration where love flourishes, words embrace, peace flows from a Holy Spirit stream of heart – oh, Father, let us embrace each other inside the circle of your family with loving intent.

“You have seen, O Lord; be not silent!
O Lord, be not far from me!
Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not say in their hearts,
‘Aha, our heart’s desire!’
Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up'”
(Psalm 35: 22-25)

Rescue me Father. You know the truth. Champion me, Lord. Ride to my rescue. Be. With.  Me. – be with this heart that strives imperfectly to live your cause, to live as your daughter, to love all your children. Vindicate. Exonerate. Defend me, Oh, Lord. You have said I am your daughter, a daughter of the King, the creator, the great I Am. You have pursued me, told me I belong to you, that every hair on my head is counted, that every tear is collected. In your mighty love for me Father, that is too much for me to comprehend, to big for me to fathom, in your mighty love father, rescue me, redeem me, restore me, save me from this battle.

“Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!
Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long” (Psalm 35:26-28)

As I try to live love and forgiveness, Father, I ask for shame and dishonour to not be brought against those who hurt me. I ask that shame and dishonour be replaced with forgiveness and redemption, that hearts are changed, that souls are changed – and that love prevails. Thank you Father for surrounding me with those who encourage me, who know the righteousness of my heart, my intents. I thank you that they rejoice with me that you delight in the welfare of me, your servant, your daughter – and I will tell the story, the continual story of your Hero to my damsel in distress.

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There’s a water pump at the house where I come from – A broken water pump, disconnected from the water source – Or maybe the water source has run out of itself. I used to imagine the stories its handle could tell – stories from the hands that pumped its water for everyday living, maybe when Lafayette came through, of settlers trying to find a town on the main street of its wilderness, the response when it broke.

The broken pump, a mute reminder of a history full of water for living existed long before I wandered into my grandmother’s backyard.

There are days I feel like that water pump, broken, nothing to offer, nothing to pour out. Nothing to satisfy those needing the right response, wanting something other than I have to offer, or when the history of my brokenness crashes into today’s living, leaving me reeling, falling backwards and for long and short moments am bereft.

That I myself am the source (water supply) and the means (the water pump) – that I am created all sufficient and have become broken, useless, valueless – that is the great deception. I was not created to be all sufficient or broken. I was created to be whole in His abundant sufficiency. I was created to exist with Him.

My source is not empty. My source does not deplete. My source does not break me. Life without Him breaks me. Only if I chose to live brokenness, let yesterday’s story write today’s plot – then I cut myself off from living water. living hope. wholeness. forgiveness. joy. blessing. unconditional love. belonging. . . .

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3)

He reminds me, infuses me with His living water. It flows through my heart and soul.

Through His living waters, I live.

Through His living waters, I can pour out myself to others.

Through His living waters, there is something worthwhile to give others.

Through His living waters, I am not broken and empty.

Through His living waters, I live blessing. Through Him, I am not like the broken water pump.

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11)

And, I read in a book I had wandered away from, meaning to return – like those visits with a neighbor that so bless you and happen far too infrequently – but I returned and found generous, welcome blessing when I read what God says to Bossis in He and I: “You’re amazing, aren’t you, when you are told that you did good to someone in such and such a country? You see, it is not you who did this good; it is I through you. If only you knew what goes on in your soul when My blood purifies it. . . My grace goes farther than your soul” (Bossis, He and I, 36).

Like living water, pumping through me, pouring into thirsty hands, bringing salvation, bringing to the Father. Yes, what He puts in us needs to be given and in turn given, and given unendingly – this stream of living water.

Something has been pulling at the edges of my thoughts, wanting to get closer – that this imperfection that we are – God isn’t surprised that we are imperfect – after all He created us. We are imperfect, incomplete without Him – and, like a seed planted, He expected us to grow into who He created us to be. It is only a surprise to us, I think, that we are broken and incomplete without Him, like a broken water pump, separated from its source and in that separation becoming broken.


“Rivers of living water will
brim and spill out of the depths
of anyone who believes in me this way,
just as the Scripture says”

(John 7:38, The Message).

Choosing to live brokenness or blessing – I choose blessing – and with blessing, comes living waters that cleanse the eyes of our souls, enabling us to see the blessings God leaves for us. Please join me in Ann’s challenge at  A Holy Experience as I learn to see the blessings God brings me daily.

116) Re-discovering He and I by Gabrielle Bossis and wondering why I wandered off the first time, but so glad I wandered back
117)2 red cardinals taking flight across from my mailbox
118)My oldest son pointing out where one day 8 red cardinals stood under a tree in the snow
119)2 red Cardinals calling home calls outside my cracked window that blew in crisp air and nature noises

“You see these little birds alighting on your chair, in the garden, on the table, on your hat?. . . Before an evil person they would fly away, I don’t fly away” (Bossis, He and I, 39)

120)My littlest boy officially becoming an uncle in the holding of his new niece, and holding her again, “Don’t hold her like you’re putting her in a headlock” his oldest brother advised in his oldest brother way that never gives offense. This littlest boy who never had a baby brother to hold laughed sheepishly, and let his sister-in-law teach him how to hold. . . this new baby
121)Nonstop talking about a new niece all the way home.
122) Bedtime prayers and God Blesses, big and little talking, including bedtime plans about what he will do when he holds her again, and mommy thoughts that think if he could, at 7 am. Tomorrow morning, he would be sitting on their doorstep, waiting to hold her again.
123) Telling my teen the Super Bowl menu: hot wings, Chocolate Chip Brownie Delights, mozzarella filled tortillas – and tortellini soup – and watching the smile just spread across his face
124) Hearing him tell his friends, “I won’t lie to you. My mom makes the best hot wings.
125) The boys going shopping with their dad with money they earned – and coming back with jackets, running pants, and shirts.
126) Good morning moments with God, recognizing Him with me.
127) Finding blessing moments that bring balance to living love in the wobbly world of parenting teens.

 “You see how imperceptibly the year passes by, its seasons slipping away. It’s like that in spiritual progress. So be patient with your slow pace” (Bossis, He and I, 39)

128) The littlest boy telling me, “Ms. ____ says she will have a heart attack if I show up in long pants.” Because all my boys have such a hard time going from shorts to jeans/sweat pants. Maybe how the outside reflects change shows have the inside struggles change.
129) Telling him, “Make sure someone has a cell phone handy to dial 911 – in case she does have a heart attack” – and my little guy looking surprised at my humor, “Good one, mom. Really! Good one” – like they don’t think I have good humor within me.
130) Watching him climb out of the car at 7:26 with a huge, saucy smile on his face
131) Learning how to cook for 3 sons instead of 5 – and seeing my grocery bill shrink
132) The history of my brokenness crashing into the day, threatening – and my husband loving me through the moment, seeing me better than sometimes I see myself, pulling me to stand firmly, securely into God’s wholeness.
133) My oldest son stopping by for lunch, raiding my fridge – and me making sure there is something inside he likes, like Laughing Cow Cheese, pancetta – and maybe a little Popeye bread to put it on. And him not realizing it is all there for him.
134) A 4 p.m. phone call telling me I got the job
135) a message from a friend who works with the women I’ll be teaming with – and telling me when they heard the announcement, they were all so excited I was the choice
136) God answering the prayer that took me out of the middle
137) packages in the mail
138) Gladness for the open-door policy between God and me. After those seasons of battle, there comes a refreshing – but as I convalesced in the refreshing, I take figurative walks with the Father in the figurative garden of my soul. Maybe, long ago, I would close the door and say, “No visitors. Including God.” But now, I look forward to those walking moments. Maybe those are figurative, “sit on the front porch swing” moments, too.

“You hear those little goldfinches chatting in undertones without every stopping? Bird voices. – Talk to Me like that, ceaselessly, sotto voce. – Soul voices.” (Bossis, He and I, 41)

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