Thursday, November 24, 2011

After a long dry spell

When it's been a long time, it can be hard to start again.

I navigate these waters in a boat I keep patching with that pizza man's help because he is always near me. I would be lost without him. Our children, mostly all grown up now, are making their way each their own and it can be hard to keep up with all the twists and turns and rough places.

But we keep patching and we keep paddling and we keep praying. God's grace stays right here with us and holds our patches fast and keeps loving us and giving us more and more grace for the moments that we try to turn around and extend outward to those who might need it at the time. Mostly, I think, it's me who needs it.

This will be our third son to wed. It will be a Sunday afternoon wedding near the end of a beautifully mild Florida November on a day that in the past has brought tears. We are hoping for the coming tears to be good ones.

Today was Thanksgiving Day. It was a confusing day for me, bizarre in its difference with our family gathering and meal postponed a day and all of this day spent cleaning and organizing and trying to make sense of personalities until I fell off to sleep in the afternoon in our big canopy bed. It was nearing dusk when the grandbaby arrived and attention turned to little feet pattering over wood floors and cookie-smudged face and babbled words for everything she sees. She sleeps now, among soft blankets on Pappaw's side of the bed until her mama and daddy come to scoop her up pigtails and all and take her home.

Tonight I am grateful, truly. I am grateful for a rusty but renewed ability to write, the unwordable comfort of being able to pray, and the love that patches all things together.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where life spills out on the floor

Maybe it's writer's block. Or maybe it's just that I've been completely overwhelmed, or overloaded, or something.

I still am.

But I'm trying to pull up and out and word again, really I am.

The hardest part right now is that I couldn't talk about what I'm feeling even if I did have words for it because whatever this is, it's too raw, too open to the elements, too private to put out there.

So I keep trying to process it in here, and I'm finding that's a lot more easily said than done.

The Spirit of God loves sinners and dances best where life spills out on the floor.      --John Fischer

Right now I have to leave the dancing to Him.

I can't hear the music.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I've always been amused by the "Why?" questions little ones are famous for asking. 

What is even more amusing is how annoyed we adults have a tendency to become when asked this popular question incessantly. I've heard some pretty snappy retorts to those questions, uttered in frustration to hush a kid up. Been hushed up like that a few too many times to count, myself.

But what if the little ones have it right? {Imagine that.}

What if "Ask, Seek, Knock" really is a good idea? {Wait...didn't God say something about that?}

Not long ago I read a blog entry by a favorite blogger, Single Dad Laughing, in which he writes about using the why question as a tool to get to the very core of any issue one might be facing. He suggests writing down the issue, and then asking, "And why is that?", then answering that, followed by asking the question again, until the central problem comes into focus and a solution begins to emerge. He gave an example from his own journaling, and it was nothing short of brilliant.

It made me smile to think about how I will respond to the next child who asks me why.

I think I will grin and say, "To make you ask questions!"

And I will really mean it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back to Words

I know eventually I have to stop running this all through my head and just write.

I have to stop thinking about why I've been blocked, how to get started again, whether it's worth it or not, whether anyone will even care that I've come back to the land of the written word. Well, except for Jen. I know she cares because she took the time to tell me so.

So if nothing else, I am writing for Jen.

Life has been nuts here at Easterhouse for a few weeks now. That would probably be the biggest reason I haven't been writing--not block at all, but busyness. Imagine life being nuts at Easterhouse. I realized the redundancy as soon as I typed it. Dance competitions, our daughter's Sweet 16, sons turning 18 and 20, a high school graduation...basically the normal kind of crazy for this family.

Life has also been a bit different since Steve's carpool ended and he started having to drive to Tampa to work every day. I appreciate his ride buddy for the past two years even more now. I'm also mad at him for abandoning us. Well, okay, not mad really. He gave us $100. in gas cards at the end of his driving just out of the kindness of his heart, so I can't be too mad. But yeah, that extra $500.+ a month is hitting us pretty hard. Our move back to Tampa can't come soon enough.

Back to life being different. With Steve taking the car every day I am stranded with no car all day. Not that I went very many places before, but I always knew the car was in the driveway if I needed it. And it isn't like I have friends up here that I hang out and do things with. I've never felt quite so alone with regard to friendship. Well, there was one other time, but it was for a shorter period.

And it isn't like I don't have any friends; it's more that I don't have friends who like to hang out--at least with me. I'm hoping that will change when I get back to Tampa nearer where our kids live and closer to some of my long-time friends there. I'd really like to get involved in ministry again. A fish out of water: that's been me.

There is no point to this, other than breaking the ice and returning to the word world.

I guess that's all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Turning Thanks - (In)courage featured post

I am humbled and grateful to be featured at (In)courage today!

What were they talking about, turning thanks? I could barely understand their words, but today I understood them. Today, I comprehended what they really meant, even if they didn't.

Please be so kind as to read the post here? You are precious, and I appreciate you very much.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Way I Was Raised

I was raised with boundaries, and if in my childish folly I pushed them, the rod of correction drove it far from me. Who knew the writers of the Bible could be so spot on?

I was taught that respect was given before it was earned, and that politeness is never out of season. I was taught that a job worth doing was worth doing right the first time, and that the world doesn't owe me a favor. I was raised to say ma'am and sir, so if that offends you I'm sorry, but that's how I roll.

I was raised to believe that chivalry isn't dead, and to accept it gratefully. I was taught to believe the best in other people, and to always respect other people's time. I was taught that my word is my bond, and that what I do and say reflects on my family, so to choose wisely. 

I was taught that love is not conditional, and that kindness and a good work ethic are part of a good person's fabric. I was taught that if I said I'd be there at 5, to be there a little early, and that if I was going to be late I'd better make it a rare thing and I'd better call and let somebody know or have a good reason why I didn't. 

I was taught to appreciate the little things in life and not to sass my parents, even when I didn't think they were on the right track because they were older than me and had been around the block a few times. 

And as I've gotten older, I have come to appreciate all these things all the more as I watch other people selfishly and thoughtlessly run roughshod over other people with seemingly no concern whatsoever. 

I will always be grateful that my parents didn't have to worry about getting arrested for spanking a child because I'm far from perfect but I love and respect and serve people from the depths of my heart whether they love and respect and serve me in return--and sadly they often do not. 

I am glad I am the woman I am today, imperfect but striving to improve and glad for the chance to live in this big wide world for a time. And when God calls me home, I hope He is as happy to see me as I will be glad to see Him, and to at last be reunited with my parents who thought enough of me to do the hard thing and choose parenting over the buddy system. 

I thank God that I was RAISED, not lowered, believed in and not ignored, celebrated and not simply tolerated.

I can only pray that I am blessed to be able to pass along a legacy of parenting that will keep producing good people who are grateful for the way they were raised.

Because the world is a better place when parents really are parents. It lets kids be kids who have a fighting chance of growing up to be good parents themselves.

I am eternally grateful for the way I was raised.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And it came to pass. (251-260)

All these things that hurt us, that sucker-punch us and take our breath away, they can't keep gaining victory over us because they came to pass.

They pass.

That's something to be grateful for, that these light and momentary troubles (that usually seem neither light nor momentary) came, had their moment in the sun, and then passed.

The misunderstandings, the failures to communicate, the growing pains, the hormones churning and changing, the confusion brought on by one life season morphing into the next, they will have their day and then the sunset will come. There will be rest and there will be the rising of a bright, hopeful sun.

And in each new day we will encounter all these familiar hurdles but this time we are stronger.

This time we know just a little bit more, have a little more hope. We have a better outlook.

And outlook makes all the difference.

I face the new day, the new week, with a smile.

Gifts one by one, all the way to one thousand...

251. Phone call from my Bree
252. Ciabatta, 4 loaves, piping hot from the oven, packed to send with my girlie to her sleepover
253. Fresh-squeezed lemonade with extra pulp and a bit of zest
254. Poetic words leading a friend to think of me
255. Polish sausage medallions and cheddar slices on sun-dried tomato and basil wheat thins, with tart lemonade over ice
256. A longing deep within to eat intuitively according to the Creator's design
257. Loving accountability among friends
258. Support showing up unexpectedly
259. My daughter's thoughts on One Thousand Gifts
260. Anticipation of reviving a family reunion once vibrant and strong and connected

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dear Mama,

These are days I really could use being able to talk to you.

I think we would be spending a lot of time together, you and I. I wish I had made more time for you when you were still here. I know you would say it's okay, that I did my best, but I would give almost anything to have those days back.

My kids are almost all grown up, Mama. How did this happen so fast? I wonder, did you feel like someone had sucked all the air out of the room the afternoon I told you at 16 that I was pregnant and by the end of the day I was a bride and three weeks later I was a wife? Because I have a daughter who is nearing 16 and thank God she has so much more sense than I did and already in her young life is wiser than I was at three times her age, but she's growing up so quickly and I already miss her and she isn't even gone yet.

How did you do it, Mama? How did you watch your kids grow up and move on in their lives without running after them and begging them to slow down and let you hold them just a little bit longer? Because sometimes that's how I feel.

Life seems to be speeding up and I want it to slow down so I can breathe and squeeze the essence out of each little moment and why aren't you here so I can ask you all these things?

The grief books lied. They told me it would get easier, the missing you. It isn't easier.

I don't miss you less like they said. I miss you bigger and deeper and more gut-crushingly than anything I could ever have thought grieving could be.

You're gone too soon and I can't make you come back and I am mad. Oh, I am so mad, Mama, and not at you and not at God but just mad because you should be here. We should be spending this time together, these hours that are coming so lonely, should be talking over coffee and joking silly like we used to and starting cookie dough fights and stirring chicken and dressing with our hands and playing UpWords and plotting pranks.

It's been five years, and still sometimes in the night I cry for you. Well, sometimes in the day, too. Sometimes the only way I can get through this is to just not think about you, but that empty is worse. I would rather feel the pain than to not feel you.

I miss you, Mama. And I love you now even more than I did, and I wish I could I could hug you and tell you how these days I'm living through right now make me long for you more than I could ever have imagined.

The tears I shed for you, though, I consider a gift because they mean you are still part of me, still nestled deep in my heart where you will always remain. I see you a little more clearly each year in my bathroom mirror staring back at me, the you reflecting through my own features. Rosie has your smile, and sometimes when she turns a certain way I draw in my breath at the resemblance. How I wanted her to know you longer.

I take these things to God, and I ask Him to heal the hurt so I can keep going, keep trying to mother my children, even as they are so swiftly taking flight, with the fierceness and courage of the woman who mothered me.

If I can't make you come back, at least I can make you proud.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Calming of a Storm

I awaken to rain coming down and go quickly to the window where it is raining in and I close it and I sigh that it has to be closed away. I love rain.

Within moments it pelts hard and I go to the big glass door and slide the blinds away and watch trees swaying and bending in crazy directions with startling swiftness, water blowing in sheets changing direction mid-air.

Another storm, but not like the last one, filled with fury.

My normal routine is interrupted as lightning streaks across the sky too close and cracks quickly and I unplug my computer to keep it extra safe from surges, gather up my book and green plaid blankie and pillow and curl up on the couch where I can hear the rain loud and feel the breeze blowing through.

I read about suds and sanctuary and slowing down and I lie there with book propped on empty tummy and muse at the picture of filling with thoughts that nourish far more than food ever could.

I absorb it all, three or four pages of wisdom so dense it makes me sleepy again. I lay the book on my tummy upside down like a little roof and close my eyes and pull green plaid softness under my chin and rest.

Storm calms but rain is still falling and I think how much I love the sound of the dripping, the soothing away of worry and anguish from a broken yesterday and the promise of a rain-washed today, another day the Lord has made.

An hour goes by and I rouse to the beeping of a message and would probably ignore it but then I think about how I don't want to sleep away such beautiful hours filled with rain and wind and thunder. I toss aside green plaid and hear my pen fall through the couch cushions to the floor. Squeezing my hand into the gap, I wince a bit and grasp it barely and fish it back out.

I will need it for the underlining of this new day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Blessing of Brokenness (231-250)

I was broken today.

Cracked open, heart beating hard, soul bleeding, drained out onto the carpet.

I turned from my desk, walked to our big canopy bed, crawled in on his side because I needed him, and wept myself to sleep.

My chest hurt when I woke up. I found out later my husband's had been hurting all day. He didn't know about my brokenness, but he felt it.

Ironic that Ann's post for today was "When You're Feeling a Bit Broken". A bit? So much more.

But not broken like Him. Still never as broken as Him.

And as I remember Him, and as He re-members me, I ask Him to never let me forget what it felt like to hurt over Truth.

Because He hurt over it. I didn't die today, but He died for me for life and for days like today when all I wanted to do was curl up in His arms and be lost in Him. Or found.

Now, wrung out and weary from the fray, I rest in Him.

His arms are a safe place for the broken to rest.

To be made whole the way only He can make one whole.

Tonight I re-member.

The counting of gifts continues.

231. Living in the happily ever after
232. Baby girl screechy noises
233. A cousin happier for finding me
234. Sweet little grandgirl all fussy and tiredish and rubbing her eyes
235. My Mattie, home for two days
236. Rain trickling down, thunder gently rolling, gifts of grace
237. Smooth transitions
238. The buying of a wedding dress, the becoming of a bride
239. Sweet tea
240. Teen girls laughing, building memories
241. Coconut cream pie (and a buddy to share it with)
242. Dinner at the Hard Rock
243. Lovely girl turning 21, smile all alight
244. Lora feeling better
245. Tears collected in a sea of crystal
246. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4)
247. Loved ones who believe in me (and remind me what it was like to believe in myself)
248. Being re-membered
249. Hunger
250. My beloved, my best friend

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kitten's Song

Kitten's Song

Amid the chaos in a noisy room
She gazes from clutter to toy to broom
And wonders who she is and why she's here
She loses herself, but for a while
In a dream not unlike that of a restless child
Where her name is Kitten and she lays aside her fear

She can't help but wonder as she sighs
At the million unknown answers to her whys
Where is the little girl she used to be?
The one who just wanted to matter somehow
To belong in the yesterday, and the here and now
Who wonders what it's like to feel truly free

Her thoughts drift gently back over the years
Escapes her eye, a solitary tear
And trails a salty pathway down her face
It isn't the first time pain has trickled down
She feels sure it won't be the last ache found
But she knows she just can't stay long in this place

She opens swollen eyes at last
With no real notion of the time gone past
To find three pairs of staring, curious eyes
A tiny finger reaches to brush away
A tear that has somehow managed to stray
A tiny voice, a whisper, "Mama cry?"

She swallows hard and kisses the hand
And meets little eyes with a smile and a plan
To cherish these Heavenly blessings come to Earth
She thinks of the young ones at her knee
About how grateful she is that they are free
To have a favorite color, to know their worth

She whispers a prayer of thanks that she
Is the mother she wished her own to be
Thanking God for letting her live out the love she needs
She places the toys again on the shelf
And somewhere in her musing she finds herself
Like a rose blooming forth from the tiniest of seeds


Thursday, March 31, 2011


Lisa May's photos are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Her shots of clouds and trees and sunsets are breathtaking.

So today as I was browsing through some of her latest photo posts, a thought occurred to me that I thought might be worth writing about.

Ann Voskamp writes about living life from our knees, both in prayer and in mindset, much like a child. About how viewing life from the perspective of a little one gives us a whole new vantage point.

It was no accident that God said to become like little children.

As I was noting my favorites of Lisa's photos, I noticed that the ones I love most have the sky as the background. Whether clouds or sun or brilliant blue sky, they draw me in, call out to something deep within me. Something in the images make me feel very close to God.

And that's when it hit me. I don't often shoot photographs with the sky as the backdrop. Usually there's just "stuff" behind the subject, whether person or thing, and I never realized how much that can take away from the natural beauty of a scene.

It shouldn't surprise me to realize that the sky is perhaps the most majestic backdrop of all. When I was little I thought that was where God lives. And while I now know God's presence more intimately, I still like thinking of the sky as the place from which He beckons us.

Much of what a child would photograph stands a good chance of having the sky as a backdrop.

I can learn a lot from that.

The heavens declare the glory of God; 
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

She speaks in dreams.

I read the entry three times. I thought maybe by the third time I wouldn't cry. I was wrong.

Precious three-letter Ann, full of grace and sharing it all with us, reaching out her beautiful, humble hand that has cradled fragile bubbles and mended boo-boos and combed out grief tangles and reached for the moon, expressing a desire to help us all. A desire to help someone like me.

Why did I cry? Because I felt like she had been watching a playback of my life, listening to my dreams, hearing my heart for helping women the world over to speak theirs. She saw it and heard it all, and she wrote those words for me. And the longing of my heart is to do that for someone else. For many someone elses.

Funny story. I used to have this recurring dream of speaking at a conference to thousands of women, something like a Women of Faith conference, or something similar. In my dream I was an author of inspirational books for women. Over time I eventually managed to convince myself that even though that thought jazzed me to the core, things like that don't really happen to people like me.


I mean, the people who speak at those conferences grew up in Christian homes, never had years gobbled up by the locusts of abuse and family dysfunction, always had it all together.

But aren't there women I know, even personally, who have brought the brokenness of their pasts forward and risked it all by laying it out on the table? And I know why they do it, why I want to do it: because someone else needs to know she isn't alone. Someone else needs to know that He restores what the locusts have eaten and then so much more.

It's been my heart for as long as I can remember, this loving on others in Jesus' name. When I was little I always sought out the one person in a room that no one was talking to, sidled up alongside and said hi. Those people rarely rejected my silly-but-sincere friendliness, and many went on to become lifelong friends.

My love for writing has been with me my whole life, and has combined with my love for helping people quite nicely. The result has been more letters, notes, commissioned poetry and dedications, blog entries, and articles than I could begin to number.

It came naturally, like breathing, my passions all converging to form the perfect storm on the page and in conversations and in song, reaching up and out and painting with words the beautiful thing Jesus was making out of the mess that was me.

I know that if He can do it for me, He can do it for you, too.
And if He wants to do it for me, He surely wants to do it for you.

If He loves me this much, ordinary imperfect girl that I am with five kids and two grandkids and one beloved I'm still love-struck crazy for, a deep love for people and a heart full of wild dreams, He must also be crazy for you.

You, lovely one that you are, whatever you've seen, whatever you've done, wherever life has taken you.

You are not alone. And neither am I.

I, and hundreds of others just like me, keep asking God over and over for one thing: the opportunity to make a difference in a life. In just one life, and then another, and then more as He leads. We know that this longing was knit into us by Him at the forming, so all we are really doing is agreeing with Him and being true to our purpose: to love on His people and encourage them to love on Him and on one another.

I am nobody special, just a woman He created, a shadow of the Former who knit into me a deep passion for connecting with others and connecting them with Him. I'm so silly I get tearful every time I even talk about how much joy He has brought into my life just through the women He has given me opportunity to encourage.

I keep praying for more chances, more beautiful daughters of His to find a way to bless and with open hand direct all the glory back to Him. It's a dream too big to let go.

Know what my big dream right now is? To meet you

There is a lovely gathering coming up soon with this dream in mind. The SheSpeaks conference in North Carolina July 22-24, 2011 is being offered by Proverbs 31 Ministries and is a time of learning, fellowship, encouragement, fun, and celebration of the common purpose of connecting the hearts of women with the heart of God the Father. I can't imagine what a blessing this conference is going to be. I'm hoping to find out first hand. 
Would you like an opportunity for a scholarship to this treasure of an atmosphere? Please go HERE to enter. I would love to see you there. Walk in His grace, and perhaps our paths will cross in North Carolina. I would love that.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Surrender Really Means (205-230)

I was reading chapter three in One Thousand Gifts (again) last night where she quoted Ephesians 5:20.

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

As I was thinking about the weight of this verse, I thought, Hey, wait...if that is Ephesians 5:20, that's the verse right before "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ", and then "Wives, submit to your husbands".

So then I got to thinking how nearly every time I've ever heard teaching on Ephesians 5, it's always been approached (more like attacked) from the "wives submit" angle and it's either used as a bludgeon for wives or it's being pounced upon as an awful, archaic, patriarchal religious practice.

And I got to thinking that if vs. 20 was in place, was being practiced by His people, then the attitudes and behaviors mentioned in the next verses would already be in place.

In other words, if we were already giving thanks to God for everything, we would be living a life of Eucharisteo and we would already be submitting to one another out of reverence for Him.

Eucharisteo precedes the miracle. Thanksgiving precedes submission (which for many is truly a miracle, just saying). All joking aside, submission seems like such a miracle to us because it is the direct opposite of what our world teaches us--in commercials, on billboards, in schools--to set our sights upon.

Can't we see that submission is not a stiff sentence, but soft surrender to the Savior?

He breathed us into being. Surrender to Him is purest joy. All grace, all gift, all joy.

Counting on, toward the first thousand...
205. Teens who act nothing like the teens on TV
206. Little trip back to childhood in the form of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on bread soft and sticking to the roof of the mouth, peanut butter smooth and thick, jam painted on cheeks in a sticky purple grin
207. Coffee with Belgian chocolate toffee creamer
208. Hot cocoa from an adapted hot cocoa mix recipe
209. His sweet mercy in crisis
210. Being loved with an everlasting love
211. Knowing deep that He is always enough
212. Peace that goes beyond feeling
213. Pretty toes (but mostly the daughter who took it upon herself to pamper her mama)
214. Blog readers taking moments to comment thoughts
215. Gravy
216. Reading One Thousand Gifts for the second time, slowly
217. Chatting with a kindred friend
218. Life viewed through the lens of grace is different, changed, new, replete with hope
219. Time to walk away from my desk and think outside the box
220. Stillness for the knowing that He is God, and that if it is meant to be, it will be, according to His will
221. A husband who offers chocolate for the soothing of the melancholy
222. The rediscovering of family from long ago, photographs from a time that makes the heart race with memory's creaking hinges and shadowy images
223. Resolve to silence that preserves the bond of peace
224. An armload of chocolate on my desk
225. Hope between lines of sadness when the moon presses in close and wrings out mama tears
226. People in high places who remember what it felt like to be a little people
227. Memories of a Little People doll house, a mama, and her little girl, playing, laughing, saving up memories for later
228. Rain falling, breeze blowing, heart wording, all on a Monday at the hello of spring
229. Grins shared between us the way they were way back then
230. Rosie and Belle in Mama's rocker on the front porch

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Abba (A Look Back)

April 25, 2003

God is doing a new thing.  A new thing as old as time, actually. 

He is awakening in me a desire to know Him like I've never known Him before.  I decided a year ago I wanted to be a God chaser, and I chased Him.  Some. 

But slowly over this past year and especially through the "Bow the Knee" musical, He has taken that spark and ignited it into a deep hunger that won't be satisfied with a mere taste of His presence. 

No, I know better now.  I feel like I've been with Him, and I know what it feels like.  There is no going back.

It's affecting every thought and action.  My introspection is no longer focused on myself, how I'm doing, if I'm growing, how I feel.

It's on Him.  It's on just how close I can get to Him.  Can I reach out and touch His face without my hand burning up?  Can I look into His eyes and not go blind?

Someone said in class a few nights ago that we are too familiar with God.  That our 'ease' with Him makes us disrespectful.  I can't swallow that one.  The non-confrontational side of me wants to fudge and say, "Oh, well I can understand what you mean..." but the truth is, I can't.

I can't believe God wants to hold me at arms' length.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to saunter up to the Almighty and quip, "Yo, big daddy, whussup?"  I don't mean the kind of familiarity that loses sight of Who He is.

I mean the kind a child has with a parent who loves beyond all reason.  The kind that grows out of a love that sent His only Son to die so I could run up to Him and cry Abba, Father! and jump into His arms.

He showed up tonight.  I knew He would.  He returned my song as I lifted it up to Him and He smiled at me.  I asked Him to be there and He came.

He came.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waking Up (Five Minute Friday)

I wake up numerous times in the night. Most of those times I feel uneasy, like I'm inwardly afraid something is wrong, or something is going to happen. I was hoping these nights were behind me.

Since I picked up One Thousand Gifts, life has been different. The moments have been lighter, more hopeful. I've been enjoying the feeling of peace that has infused my waking hours. It's been good not to feel the Enemy breathing down my neck.

But he isn't finished with me yet.

For me, it will be a matter of finding the most efficient way to keep myself reminded that I do not belong to him, that my life and my moments belong to the One who knit me together, the One who is enough. The one who makes it true how perfect love casts out all fear.

I want to wake up singing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do you read me?

Can being completely overwhelmed bring about something great? If not, don't tell me. I almost have myself convinced it will, so don't mess it up.

Maybe I should explain. I feel like I'm going through this metamorphosis (why is that word so difficult to type?) of sorts with regard to my blogging, and just my writing in general. I've been blogging for somewhere around ten years. That's a lot of years, right? You'd think ten years would be plenty of time to find your niche, yes?

Confession: I've started to wonder what is wrong with me.

The big problem is that there is just too much swimming around in this gourd at once. I want to write about everything! About having a lovely marriage even after nearly 31 years, and being madly in love with being a mama for 30 years (and a Mimi for more than 10), and about the highs and lows and all-in-between of homeschooling after walking the home education road for 23 years, and encouraging women--I mean, I've been one my whole life! And then there is friendship and mentoring and...well, see what I mean? Just too much. There is no focus, no little cubbyhole to sink nicely into and just fit!

Am I serious, or funny, or artistic? Is it possible to be all of the above? What does that even look like? What is going on that I suddenly find myself shrieking like a madwoman, "I want to write about that! And that! Oh, yes, and that!" I want to photograph everything in my world and share it (well, maybe not the kitchen floor right now), to capture in somewhat poetic wording this beauty, this craze, this wild and wooly and wonderful life--and all in a way that will draw and intrigue and encourage readers all over the globe.

I don't want much, do I?

I mean, it isn't like millions of us wouldn't adore doing that, right? I envision those poor unfortunate souls who happened across this entry today thinking, "Wow, lady. So you want to be a famous writer. Don't we all?"

And it isn't really even that I want to be famous (although I would be okay with that). It's more that I want to know that my words matter. To somebody. To anybody. That something I say impacts someone, makes a difference, brings a smile or a tear, makes a day brighter, challenges someone to think more deeply or share more openly or trust more willingly or guard a heart more carefully or live more gratefully.

So here I sit, pecking away at the keyboard and wondering if anyone will see this and if it will resound with another person somewhere on this big orb and form a connection, even a tiny one.

I'm thinking I might need to give up the dream of the email that pops into my inbox with, "Hey, we'd like you to write for us!" But I do know that I will never be able to give up the dream of being a writer. Because a writer, I am, because I write. Whether anyone ever reads it or not is really secondary to doing what God has called me to do, what He knit into my fabric at the forming.

And I suppose that as long as I'm going what He says to do, I can't go wrong. Right?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thess. 5:11

Monday, March 21, 2011

Accounting (188-204)

I smiled today as I wrote gift #203 in my One Thousand Gifts journal, seeing as how I'm one-fifth from the (first) 1,000 and have only used a few scant pages of the journal. So many more pages to fill, and I will. And then another journal and another after that. Hopefully there will be many more to fill in the remaining number of my days.

Ann writes of her days being numbered, and how the accounting hearts are the ones that keep track. I frown to think of how much I dislike math, and I'm pretty sure it hates me back.

Is that why I feel so bewildered today? Not depressed, exactly, just...down. Is it hormones, or a streak of sadness that this is the second birthday boy in two weeks I can't see on his day? Or is it a simple lack of accounting, and does this mean I need to learn to like math?

If I can count past one thousand, is that enough?

And the list grows and grows...

188. Beautiful friend held in God's arms, healed and whole and Home
189. Church bells ringing, carried on a March breeze to my bedroom window
190. Words of appreciation from a daughter's heart
191. Loving personal messages from Ann, full of grace
192. Ann's and the OTG community's sweet promise of prayer
193. Moon, beautiful moon, so very close
194. Creative-minded daughter redesigning her swimsuit
195. Clothes to mend (since I've got the sewing stuff out anyway...)
196. Moments to tell our whole church at once about One Thousand Gifts--a gift that continues to build into lives and turn eyes and hearts to Him
197. Waking in the night snuggled up to a beautiful girl-baby, little chest rising and falling in sweet rhythm, hair soft and wispy. Being a Mimi is moon-big joy.
198. An evening of hot chocolate and words woven and time spent with my beloved
199. Delighting in being faithful with the little things, just loving on the people along my path
200. The lyrics to "Take My Life and Let It Be"
201. Texting love notes back and forth with my husband
202. Pork in the crock pot simmering for a pulled-pork supper
203. Telling God He is good even when what's happening isn't
204. Middle child, cherished child, twenty today


One of the biggest hurdles in blogging for me can be narrowing down what I want to write about in a single entry. Most of the time there is so much dashing around in my head it's hard to sort it all out. This would be one of those times.

I continue to be amazed at how God brings clarity and confirmation. Sometimes He brings the same verse or passage from different sources. Sometimes He brings a similar (or even identical) message from different people. Sometimes something I read matches a strong feeling I've had for a while; this has happened a lot since I discovered several amazing blogs through the study of One Thousand Gifts. I am grateful, too, for this discovery that has enriched my life in numerous ways.

Between gas prices and dance competitions, yesterday was the first time we were able to go to Element in about a month. I love the way God brought so many things together within the hour or so we were there. Bobby is an epic teacher, and the worship songs we did were spot on for messages that flowed perfectly with things God has been putting on my heart over the past several weeks.

This is the part where I stop for a minute and yank myself out of editorially correct mode and give some thought to writer's voice. I'm probably not supposed to actually include this, but whatever. Hopefully as time goes on I will get better at mixing the creative with the corrective and these public service announcements will be a thing of the past. It could happen.

I'm reading One Thousand Gifts again, this time more slowly and with no set pace. I enjoyed keeping pace with the Bloom Book Club discussion and videos, but now I'm going back to savor and dig deeper and see what I may have missed the first time through. I'm about halfway through chapter two, and I'm already finding things I want to underline (not surprising, since I didn't snap and start underlining the first time through until chapter four). I plan to do a bit more blogging during this second reading at Every Moment Fully Alive.


He's 20 today, our third son, middle child, fulcrum of the family.

Mothering him is joy.

He decided to be a home birth, and almost didn't even wait for the midwife.
I was delighted that he was here, and safe, and beautiful.

I won't ever forget the sweetness in his little-boy smile.

He gave his all to everything he did, always.

And then grinned really big when it paid off.

He has always looked for, and found, ways to serve.
When he felt God's calling on his life toward music ministry, he grabbed on and never looked back.

We've all learned much from him, all been blessed by his love and wisdom.
We praise our God for the day he was born.

Watching him grow into such a Godly young man has been a present straight from God's hand.

And I can't even imagine what amazing things God has in store for his life.
But we do know that whatever he does, 
he will be serving God and praising Him with every breath.

Thank you, God for our Moose, my Sam,
our Trevor (prudence) Joel (God will be willing).

(however that "prudence" might look at any given moment...
with him, you can never tell)

No matter what, we know that God will always be willing
to use this boy for His glory.

Happy 20th birthday, my sweet boy.

Love, Mama

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pointless Rambling

One of my favorite things about Ann Voskamp's writing is that she makes me think. She puts thoughts out there that refuse to leave you comfortable and content. She challenges. In turn we take the challenge and then turn and challenge others, and it spreads out like ripples and the world is changed. I guess we really can change the world, if only one ripple at a time.

God provided a rather timely opportunity this morning at Element. The question was posed and the floor opened up to any who wanted to share what God had been doing in our lives over the past six weeks or so. It was last call, and before I could stop it, my hand went up and Bobby nodded. I stood up and did my best to condense the joy and impact and change that One Thousand Gifts has brought. It was hard to keep it brief, and I honestly can't even remember all of what I said (only that there was so much more I wanted to say but there wasn't time). I had to smile when I sat back down and Bobby grinned and said I had led perfectly into his message as though we had planned it that way. We didn't, but Someone did.

His wife shared with me a little later that she hadn't had an opportunity to pick up a copy of the book since I had told her about it a few weeks back, and when she opened her birthday present from her mom-in-law this past week, she gasped to find the book in the wrapping. Stumbling over her words, she tried to express how she had wanted this book badly, and how excited she was to receive it. I can't wait for her to get into it.

This feels like a rather aimless blog entry, but who knows? maybe God will do something with it.

Steve and I are alone tonight, sipping hot chocolate and sitting back-to-back at our computers here in the office. Matt is working five days this week, so he was off to Jeff's again after church. It's the end of Spring Break week, but there's another day off from school for Rosie's dance friends tomorrow, so that means one last beach trip. She redesigned one of her swimsuits this afternoon and I helped her sew it and then she was off, silky hair bouncing against her back on her way to the door. She is beautiful.

There are moments lately when I feel really overwhelmed. Not that being overwhelmed is anything new to me, really. Andrea's passing has had me pensive. She was really young to now be gone. What a legacy she left, praising God every moment without faltering. There's a lot to be learned, both from the way she lived and the way she died. I've asked myself internally over and over in the past four days if I could be so gracious in those shoes. I want to believe I could. I don't want to find out, but I know one day I will.

Tomorrow's blogging should have more purpose, more direction. I actually have some notes I made today for tomorrow's entry. Thankfully they aren't all as pointless as this one.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday: On Waiting

Topic: On Waiting

Funny how I sit here waiting for words to come and nothing immediately pops into my head, so I start typing and hoping something will, kind of a literary fake-it-till-you-make-it. I've never cared much for waiting, but God has really done some rearranging in my heart in that area and I have found it's a little easier knowing that good things generally do come to those who wait. I did read once that the follow-up to that saying, though, is "...but only what's left behind by those who hustle", which I admit also has merit. Waiting to exhale...lady-in-waiting...waiting room...what are we waiting for? I've been asked that with regard to the book I'm supposed to be working on. I'm waiting on God. That sounds totally nose-in-the-clouds, but I assure you it is anything but. I keep hoping He will give me some kind of undeniable sign of exactly the pathway, a picture of the road sign, maybe, of the approach for this thing. And still I wait. And pray. And wait.

Time's up. (Shew!)